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4: The Religious Origins of the Enlightenment - Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century 
The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century: Religion, the Reformation and Social Change (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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The Religious Origins of the Enlightenment
It is commonly said that the intellectual, no less than the industrial revolution of modern Europe has its origins in the religious Reformation of the sixteenth century: that the Protestant Reformers, either directly, by their theology, or indirectly, by the new social forms which they created, opened the way to the new science and the new philosophy of the seventeenth century, and so prepared the way for the transformation of the world. Without the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, we are told, we should have had no Enlightenment in the eighteenth century: without Calvin we should have had no Voltaire.
This theory has often been questioned, but it is hard to destroy. Generation after generation finds in it an irresistible plausibility. It is part of the philosophy of action without which any study of history seems remote and academic. In the past it has been a Whig theory. In the nineteenth century the “Whig” Protestant writers—Guizot in France, Macaulay in England—looking forward to change in the future, transferred their ideas into the past and saw the Protestants of the sixteenth century, the Whigs of the seventeenth, not merely as the party of radical action (which is one thing), but also as the party of economic, social and intellectual progress (which is another). Today the same theory is a Marxist theory. The Marxists, having replaced the Whigs as the party of radical action, similarly look to their pedigree, and attach themselves to an older radical tradition. In order to replace the Whigs, they borrow their philosophy. To them too progress is synonymous with political radicalism—and progress includes intellectual progress. Whoever is politically radical, they seem to say, is also intellectually right.
It is interesting to observe the continuity, in this respect, between the political radicals of yesterday and today: to see the torch, so nearly dropped from the failing hands of the last Whigs, skilfully caught and carried on by their successors, the first Marxists. This transfer of the same formula to different hands, this neat theoretical lampadophory, occurred at the close of the last century. It was then that the theory of the exclusively Protestant origin of progress, of modern thought, of modern society, having long been argued in political terms by the “bourgeois” thinkers of Europe, received its new, social content from the work of Max Weber and, being thus refloated, sailed triumphantly into the new age. Today, in this new form, it is as strong as ever. The Puritan Revolution in England, we are now assured, was not merely the “constitutional” revolution: it was also the “bourgeois” revolution: and the bourgeois revolution was, in turn, the intellectual revolution. The new science, the new philosophy, the new historiography, the new economy were all the work of “radical Protestants”—the more radical the more progressive;1 and a distinguished non-Marxist modern historian, reviewing a history of modern Scotland, can casually remark, as a truism that needs no argument, that the Scottish Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, the Scottish industry of the nineteenth century, would have been inconceivable in an episcopalian country.2
How simple history would be if we could accept these convenient rules of thumb! But, alas, I find that I cannot. Admittedly the new philosophy was established in England in the 1650s. Admittedly Scotland was Presbyterian in the seventeenth century, enlightened in the eighteenth. But before we conclude that one fact determines the other, that post hoc is the same as propter hoc, it is essential to test the links of the argument. Is it clear that the new philosophy would not have triumphed in England in the 1650s if Charles I had continued to rule? Is it certain that Scotland would have remained backward, even in the eighteenth century, if its Church had continued to be governed by bishops, as under Charles I and Charles II? These hypothetical questions are perhaps unanswerable in themselves; but they cannot be entirely jumped. We must at least consider them. Even if a direct answer is impossible, there is always the comparative method. Before accepting a conclusion on the imperfect evidence of one society, we can look aside to the evidence of another. We may note that the new philosophy triumphed in France in the 1650s although Louis XIV crushed the Fronde. Why then, we may ask, should the ruin of Charles I have been a necessary condition of its triumph, at the same time, in England? Calvinism did not create Enlightenment in seventeenth-century Transylvania, nor did episcopacy stifle it in the England of Wren and Newton. Why then should we leap to conclusions about eighteenth-century Scotland?
So we may object; and yet, to our objections, we can already foresee the answers. They are the answers which the men of the Enlightenment themselves would have given. Voltaire might not have had much good to say of the Protestant Reformers or the Protestant clergy. He might detest Calvin, “cet âme atroce”; he might dismiss the founding fathers of the Reformation as “tous écrivains qu’on ne peut lire”; and he might prefer the society of sophisticated Parisian abbés to the dull, worthy prelates of Protestant England. But objective facts had to be faced. Intellectual life was undeniably freer, heresy was undeniably safer in Protestant than in Catholic countries. This had always been true, and it was no less true in the eighteenth century. The exceptions did but prove the rule. Giannone might succeed in publishing his great work in Naples, but what a scandal followed its publication, what disastrous consequences to author and printer alike! To avoid persecution, and to reprint his work, Giannone was ultimately driven to take refuge in Protestant Geneva, only to be treacherously lured into Catholic Savoy, kidnapped by Catholic agents, and to disappear for the rest of his life into a Catholic prison. Montesquieu and Voltaire might escape such physical dangers, but they took no risks. Voltaire saw his Lettres philosophiques burnt in Paris and thought it prudent to live abroad, or at least within easy reach of the Swiss frontier. Montesquieu sought to meet trouble half-way by squaring the censors—and failed at the last. And both published their works in Protestant cities, in Calvinist Holland or Calvinist Switzerland. Admittedly discussion was free in Catholic countries. Admittedly the censorship was imperfect. Admittedly social eminence limited clerical power. But the basic fact remained. Hume might insist that as much real freedom could be found in Catholic France as in Calvinist Scotland. It was difficult to argue with him, since he had experience of both. But in the end, when the best has been said about the one and the worst about the other, the difference between the intellectual life of the two societies cannot be overlooked. It was the difference which caused Gibbon to describe the exceptions to the rule as “the irregular tendency of papists towards freedom” and “the unnatural gravitation of protestants towards slavery.”3
Moreover, if we look at the stages of the Enlightenment, the successive geographical centres in which its tradition was engendered or preserved, the same conclusion forces itself upon us. The French Huguenots, we are told—Hotman, Languet, Duplessis-Mornay and their friends—created the new political science of the sixteenth century. Calvinist Holland brought forth the seventeenth-century concept of natural law and provided a safe place of study for Descartes. Cromwellian England accepted the scientific programme of Bacon and hatched the work of Hobbes and Harrington. The Huguenots in Calvinist Holland—Pierre Bayle, Jean Leclerc—created the Republic of Letters in the last years of Louis XIV. Switzerland—Calvinist Geneva and Calvinist Lausanne—was the cradle of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment in Europe: it was in Geneva that Giannone and Voltaire would seek refuge; it was a Calvinist pastor of Geneva, Jacob Vernet, who would be the universal agent of the movement: the correspondent of Leclerc, the friend and translator of Giannone, the friend and publisher of Montesquieu, the agent of Voltaire; and it was to Calvinist Lausanne that Gibbon would owe, as he would afterwards admit, his whole intellectual formation. Finally, after Switzerland, another Calvinist society carried forward the tradition. The Scotland of Francis Hutcheson and David Hume, of Adam Smith and William Robertson carried on the work of Montesquieu and created a new philosophy, a new history, a new sociology. Thither, as Gibbon wrote, “taste and philosophy seemed to have retired from the smoke and hurry of this immense capital,” London;4 and Thomas Jefferson would describe the University of Edinburgh and the Academy of Geneva as the two eyes of Europe.
Calvinist Holland, Puritan England, Calvinist Switzerland, Calvinist Scotland . . . If we take a long view—if we look at the continuous intellectual tradition which led from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment—these Calvinist societies appear as the successive fountains from which that tradition was supplied, the successive citadels into which it sometimes retreated to be preserved. Without those fountains, without those citadels what, we may ask, would have happened to that tradition? And yet how easily the fountains might have been stopped, the citadels overrun! Suppose that the Duke of Savoy had succeeded in subjugating Geneva—as so nearly happened in 1600—and that the Bourbons, in consequence, had imposed their protectorate on the remaining French cantons of Switzerland. Suppose that Charles I had not provoked an unnecessary rebellion in Scotland, or even that James II had continued the policy of his brother and perpetuated a high-flying Tory Anglican government in England. If all this had happened, Grotius, Descartes, Richard Simon, John Locke, Pierre Bayle would still have been born, but would they have written as they did, could they have published what they wrote? And without predecessors, without publishers, what would have happened to the Enlightenment, a movement which owed so much of its character to the thought of the preceding century and to its own success in propaganda and publicity?
No doubt this supposition is unfair, as all hypothetical questions, except the simplest, always are. The easy answer is that if Catholicism had triumphed in Europe, the whole terms of the problem would have been different: the ideological struggle would have been relaxed in victory, and ideas which had been excluded and suppressed by a society in tension might well have been tolerated by a society at ease. But on the facts it is clear that there is at least a prima facie case for the view that Calvinism was in some way essential to the intellectual revolution which led to the Enlightenment. The question therefore remains, in what way? Was it a direct or an accidental connection? Did Calvinism provide an essential mental or moral discipline? Did its theological doctrines, when translated into secular terms, produce a new philosophy? Or is the connection rather a social connection, independent of ideas? In order to answer these questions it is best to begin not by presupposing the connection, but by asking what was the religious tradition which led to the Enlightenment. What philosophical precursors did the men of the Enlightenment themselves recognize? When we have answered this question, when we have defined the continuing intellectual tradition, we may examine the relation between this tradition and the equally continuous tradition of European Calvinism.
The answer to this first question is, I think, reasonably clear. When Voltaire looked back in history, he recognized, of course, numerous predecessors at all times for various elements in his philosophy. But when he sought the beginnings of modernity, of his modernity, of the process which gradually and unevenly built up the new philosophy of which he was the prophet, he found them not in the Reformation, which he hated, but in the period before the Reformation, “the century which ends with Leo X, François I and Henry VIII”: in other words, in the period of the late Renaissance and the Pre-Reform, the age of Valla and Erasmus, Machiavelli and Guicciardini, that liberal era which was overwhelmed and eclipsed by the hateful struggles of religion. That was the time, Voltaire wrote, when a new spirit, spreading over Europe from Italy, caused a revival of letters, an efflorescence of the arts, a softening of manners. The human mind, in those years, experienced a revolution “which changed everything, as in our own world.”5
Unfortunately it did not last. With the Reformation came the Wars of Religion, which destroyed all, or nearly all, the intellectual achievements of the recent past, making the second half of the century frightful and bringing upon Europe “une espèce de barbarie que les Hérules, les Vandales et les Huns n’avaient jamais connue.” It was not till the end of the sixteenth century, till the reign of Voltaire’s constant hero, Henri IV, that the progress of mankind, which those wars had interrupted, could be resumed. This was the second stage of the Renaissance, the time when “philosophy began to shine upon men” with the discoveries of Galileo and the enlarged vision of Lord Chancellor Bacon. But this second stage, Voltaire lamented, was also cut short by wars of religion. The quarrels of “two Calvinist doctors” about grace and free will brought enlightened Holland back to dissension, persecution and atrocity. The newly restored civility of Europe foundered in the Thirty Years War. In England, polished and enlightened under James I, “les disputes du clergé, et les animosités entre le parti royal et le parlement, ramenèrent la barbarie.”6
Throughout the middle years of the seventeenth century, as Voltaire saw them, barbarism prevailed. It was not till the personal reign of Louis XIV that it began to give way. Then, in the generation immediately preceding his own, Voltaire discovered the period of victory. In the middle of the seventeenth century “la saine philosophie commença à percer un peu dans le monde”; by the end of it, thanks above all to the great English writers Locke and Newton, the Moderns had won their “prodigieuse supériorité” over the Ancients. Today, wrote Voltaire, there is not a single ancient philosopher who has anything to say to us. They have all been superseded. Between Plato and Locke, there is nothing, and since Locke, Plato is nothing.7
To Voltaire, in effect, there are three periods since the gothic Middle Ages which he can recognize as pointing forward to the “philosophy” and civilization of the Enlightenment. These are, first, the period before the Reformation; then the brief era of Henri IV and James I; and finally the period from the later seventeenth century onwards. These three periods can be summarized as the age of Erasmus, the age of Bacon and the age of Newton.
From France we turn to England, from Voltaire the propagandist to Gibbon the philosopher of history. Gibbon’s attitude to the past was different from that of Voltaire. He had more respect for scholarship, a greater sense of the relativity of ideas, less confidence in the universal validity of “reason.” But his interpretation of the stages of modern “philosophy” is precisely the same as that of Voltaire. When he traces the development of “philosophic history,” of that “philosophy and criticism,” that “reason” which achieved its fulfilment in “the full light and freedom of the eighteenth century,” the essential links are the same. Machiavelli and Guicciardini, he writes, “with their worthy successors Fra Paolo and Davila,” are justly esteemed the founders of modern history “till, in the present age, Scotland arose to dispute the prize with Italy herself.” Again, in theology, he writes, “Erasmus may be considered as the father of rational theology. After a slumber of a hundred years it was revived by the Arminians of Holland, Grotius, Limborch and Leclerc; in England by Chillingworth, the latitudinarians of Cambridge, Tillotson, Clarke, Hoadly, etc.”8 Again and again, in his footnotes and miscellaneous observations, Gibbon shows the pedigree of his philosophy, and we see his masters grouped, mainly, in three periods. First, there is the age of the Pre-Reform, of Erasmus, Machiavelli, Guicciardini. Then there is the beginning of the seventeenth century, the age of Grotius and Bacon, Paolo Sarpi and de Thou. Finally there is the end of the same century and the beginning of the next: the age of Newton and Locke, Leibniz and Bayle. These three periods are distinct phases of light separated from each other, the first two by “a slumber of a hundred years,” the second and third by the heart of the seventeenth century.
What is the common character of these three periods in which the men of the Enlightenment agreed to recognize their predecessors? The first and most obvious fact is that they are all periods of ideological peace. The first period, the age of Erasmus, is the last age of united Christendom in which the rational reform of an undivided Church seemed possible. The second period, the age of Grotius, the Dutch heir of Erasmus, is the period of las Pazes, the lull between the wars of Philip II and the Thirty Years War. The last age, the age which merges in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, begins with the end of that war. It is not a period of peace, any more than the age of Erasmus had been; but the wars of Louis XIV were not, like the wars of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, ideological wars: they were not characterized by that shrivelling of the mind, that narrowing of vision and severance of communication which is the peculiar quality of doctrinal strife.
Secondly, we may observe that these three periods are periods, and their intellectual leaders are often protagonists, not only of ideological peace but of theological reconciliation. Erasmus wore himself out preaching peace and a reform of the Church which would forestall and prevent the violent schism threatened by Luther. Grotius worked for a reunion of the Churches on an Arminian—that is, an Erasmian—base. Leibniz devoted much of his universal energy to the same end and was supported by allies in all countries and of all religions: the Catholic Spinola and Molanus, the Anglican Archbishop Wake, the Lutheran Praetorius, the Calvinist Jablonski, the Arminian Leclerc. In these projects of reunion, as in so much of the public activity of Leibniz, there was much of state policy also. But the spirit behind them was that which led ultimately to the deism of the eighteenth century, enabling Gibbon, and many others, to acquiesce “with implicit belief in the tenets and mysteries which are adopted by the general consent of Catholics and Protestants.”
Finally, these three periods, so happily exempt from ideological war, hot or cold, were all, for that reason, periods of cosmopolitan intellectual correspondence. The correspondence of Erasmus knew no frontiers, geographical or ideological. It extended from Scotland to Transylvania, from Poland to Portugal. The struggles of the later sixteenth century broke up this intellectual unity, but the peace of the early seventeenth century restored it. The Jacobean age—if we may use this parochial but convenient term—was indeed one of the great ages of free exchange in the intellectual world. Lipsius and Casaubon, de Thou and Sarpi, Camden and Grotius, Gruter and Peiresc were nodal points in a vast network of intellectual contact which took no account of national or religious differences. It was then that the phrase “the Republic of Letters” first came into use. It was a phrase which, at that time, had a missionary content. The élite of that new Republic, like the Erasmian élite before them, knew that they were not merely enjoying a delightful international conversation: they were also working together to lay the intellectual foundations of a new world. To Bacon, the reign of James I in England coincided with a European Renaissance comparable only with the golden ages of Greece and Rome. It was a time when ancient literature had been revived, when “controversies of religion, which have so much diverted men from other sciences,” had happily dried up, and peace, navigation and printing had opened the prospect of infinite progress. “Surely,” he wrote, “when I set before me the condition of these times, in which learning hath made her third visitation, I cannot but be raised to this persuasion, that this third period of time will far surpass that of the Grecian and Roman learning—if only men will know their own strength and their own weakness both, and take, one from the other, light of invention, not fire of contradiction.”9
Unfortunately, as Bacon’s life drew to its close, the fire of contradiction broke out again. In the revolution of Holland Grotius escaped from prison into lifelong exile; in the Thirty Years War Rubens in Antwerp lamented the collapse of the golden age; and a little later the English disciples of Grotius at Great Tew would be broken up by what one of them, Clarendon, would describe as “this odious and unnecessary civil war.”
Nevertheless, even the odious ideological wars of the mid-seventeenth century did not destroy the society of Europe. When they were over, the Republic of Letters was reconstituted, stronger than ever. The scholars and thinkers of Europe resumed their contacts. As Voltaire would write, “Jamais la correspondance entre les philosophes ne fut plus universelle: Leibniz servait à l’animer.”10 Leibniz, Locke and Newton were indeed the law-givers of the Republic, but its great propagandists, the men who gave currency to the name and popularity to the concept, were the two great rivals in Amsterdam, Bayle and Leclerc: Bayle, the sceptical Encyclopaedist, the “Pyrrhonist” who looks back to Montaigne and Charron in the second of our two periods, to Erasmus—or at least to one aspect of Erasmus—in the first; Leclerc, the Arminian disciple of Grotius, the editor of his de Veritate Religionis Christianae, who was also the admirer of Erasmus, the producer of the greatest edition of his works: an edition which a German publisher has thought worth reproduction in toto today.
The first major point which I wish to make in this essay is already, I hope, clear. To those who would say that the ideas of the European Enlightenment were hammered out in the strife of ideological revolution and civil war, it can be replied—and the men of the Enlightenment would themselves have replied—that, on the contrary, those ideas were worked out in periods of ideological peace and rapprochement, and were only interrupted and delayed, not furthered, by the intervening periods of revolution. Revolution may have shifted the balance of political or social power. It may have been necessary to preserve, here or there, the basis of intellectual advance. That is another matter. But on the substance of thought it had no discernible direct effect. The new ideas which were conveyed by devious channels through two centuries and which finally overturned the old orthodoxies of Europe were generated not in the heat of war or under the stress of revolution—that heat and that stress do not provoke new thought: rather they drive men back into customary, defensive postures, causing them to reiterate old slogans—but in the mild warmth of peace, the gentle give-and-take of free and considered international discussion.
Where then is the function of Calvinism: that Calvinism, that “radical Protestantism,” for which such large claims have been advanced and for whose claims, I have admitted, a prima facie case can be made? The immediate answer is clear. Not one of the “philosophers” to whom the men of the Enlightenment looked back, and whose names I have quoted, was an orthodox Calvinist. The doctrines of Calvin, as far as we can see, had no direct influence on any of the ideas which led to the Enlightenment. Whatever debt the philosophers of the eighteenth century might owe to Calvinist cities, Calvinist universities, Calvinist societies, we have yet to discover any evidence of obligation to Calvinist Churches or Calvinist ideas. Our problem, the connection between Calvinism and the Enlightenment, is a problem still.
How are we to resolve this problem? Obviously, we can approach the answer only if we tread very cautiously. We must not hastily presume a logical connection where we can only demonstrate a local coincidence, however regular. Before basing any conclusions on that local coincidence, we must examine the local circumstances. This means that we must look at the separate Calvinist societies a little more closely than the confident political or sociological theorists have done. We must also look at them comparatively, remembering that Calvinism in one society is not necessarily the same as in another. One name may cover a variety of forms.
For international Calvinism was not an abstraction. Like any other international movement it was localized, and transformed by local forces, in a number of very different societies, and these societies had their own histories, their own internal tensions. There were European powers like Holland; defensive federations like the cantons of Switzerland; city-states like Geneva and La Rochelle; isolated rural peninsulas like Scotland; exposed and aggressive principalities like the Palatinate; miniscule lordships or academic republics like Hanau, Herborn and Wesel, Saumur and Sedan. It is not enough to say that sixteenth-century Heidelberg, seventeenth-century Holland, Puritan England, Huguenot France, eighteenth-century Switzerland and Scotland—the successive seed-plots of the Enlightenment—were all Calvinist societies; or at least it is not enough, having said this as a fact, to leave it as a demonstration. The societies themselves were too different, and also too complex in themselves, for such easy generalizations. The terms we have used are too loose. We must look more closely into both the one and the other. We must analyse the character of the societies and look behind the loose, general terms.
When we do this, we soon discover a very important fact. We find that each of those Calvinist societies made its contribution to the Enlightenment at a precise moment in its history, and that this moment was the moment when it repudiated ideological orthodoxy. In fact, we may say that the separate Calvinist societies of Europe contributed to the Enlightenment only in so far as they broke away from Calvinism.
This may be connected with a change in the character of Calvinism. For there is no doubt that such a change took place. Calvinism in the sixteenth century may have retained some traces of the intellectual distinction of its founder, some residue of the Erasmianism which lay behind it. But in the next century it is very different. Read (if you can) the writings of the great doctors of seventeenth-century Calvinism, the heirs of Calvin and Beza, Buchanan and Knox. Their masters may have been grim, but there is a certain heroic quality about their grimness, a literary power about their writing, an intellectual force in their minds. The successors are also grim, but they are grim and mean. Perkins and “Smectymnuus” in England, Rivetus and Voëtius in Holland, Baillie and Rutherford in Scotland, Desmarets and Jurieu in France, Francis Turrettini in Switzerland, Cotton Mather in America—what a gallery of intolerant bigots, narrow-minded martinets, timid conservative defenders of repellent dogmas, instant assailants of every new or liberal idea, inquisitors and witch-burners! But however that may be, the facts can hardly be denied. Once we look at the circumstances in which each of those societies I have named became in turn the home of the pre-Enlightenment, we discover that in every instance the new ideas which interest us spring not from the Calvinists but from the heretics who have contrived to break or elude the control of the Calvinist Church: heretics whom the true Calvinists, if they could, would have burnt.
But in order to illustrate this conclusion, let us look briefly and in turn at the Calvinist societies which I have enumerated, and the circumstances of their enlightenment.
First Holland. Here the facts are well known. The rise of liberal ideas in Holland, which was to make Leiden the seminary and Amsterdam the refuge of advanced thinkers in all the sciences, was made possible not by the Calvinist Church, but by its critics, its heretics: first the “libertines,” then the Arminians and their clients the Socinians. Every Dutch philosopher whose ideas look forward to the Enlightenment suffered persecution of one kind or another from the local Calvinist clergy. Fortunately, in the Netherlands, the Calvinist clergy never had complete power. The lay power, however precariously, was always supreme. Calvin himself might have Servetus, an early Socinian, burnt in Geneva, but Calvin’s followers raged in vain against the followers of Servetus in Holland. When the French Calvinist Lambert Daneau, the disciple of Calvin and Beza, the greatest Calvinist doctor of his time, was “called” to the ministry at Leiden in 1581, he soon discovered the difference between Dutch and Swiss Calvinism. He was told that the citizens of Leiden would no more tolerate the Inquisition of Geneva than the Inquisition of Spain; and he returned in a huff to a more docile flock in rural Gascony. Wisely, the Arminians in Holland insisted on the supremacy of the civil power over the clergy. The civil power was their only protection against the fanatical Predikants. But at times of crisis, when the civil power was at bay against a foreign enemy and needed the support of the people, it was driven into alliance with the Calvinist Church. Such times were always fatal to the Arminians. In 1618 there was such a crisis, and it led to their immediate ruin. Their statesman Oldenbarnevelt was judicially murdered, their philosopher Grotius imprisoned and exiled. At the Synod of Dordt, a strict, repressive Calvinism was imposed on the Church of the United Provinces. However, the tyranny of the orthodox was not permanent; when the political crisis was over, the Arminians recovered their freedom and the Socinians—those “most chymical and rational” of sectaries, as an Englishman called them11 —throve under their protection. The universal oracle of orthodox Calvinism, Gisbert Voëtius, might denounce liberal ideas and new ideas of all kinds, and especially the ideas of Descartes, but the new philosophy was preserved and continued by Arminian patronage. From Arminius and Grotius, the spiritual and the secular disciples of Erasmus, the line of descent leads, through Episcopius, Limborch and Leclerc, unmistakably to the Enlightenment.
Exactly the same pattern can be seen in England. The struggle between the English “Presbyterians” and the Independents in the 1640s, complicated though it is by changing political issues, is in one sense—the intellectual sense—a struggle between Calvinists and Arminians. The English “Presbyterians,” even their clergy, might not be good Calvinists as seen from Holland or Scotland, but at least they were better than the Independents. For the Independents were true Arminians—as indeed they were often called: believers in free will, in religious toleration, and in lay control of the Church. The victory of the Independents over the “Presbyterians” may have been, in immediate politics, the victory of radicals over moderates, but in social matters it was the victory of the laity over the clergy, and therefore in intellectual matters the victory of lay ideas over clerical ideas. Scholastic Aristoteleanism—the old philosophy of the Catholic Church which Reformation and Counter-Reformation had alike refurbished and reimposed—went down in England not when English Prynne and Scottish Baillie triumphed over Archbishop Laud, but when the Erastians like Selden—some of whom were “Presbyterian” just as the Dutch Arminians were also Calvinists—refused to set up in England a “presbytery” according to the word of God. It was then that the ideas of Descartes came into England, then that the ideas of Bacon triumphed, then that Oxford became the capital of the “New Philosophy.”
It happened in Scotland too. In Scotland the Calvinist Church had succeeded in doing what it had not been able to do in England or Holland—what it could do only where the laity was weak and at the mercy of the clergy: that is, in relatively undeveloped rural societies like Scotland or New England, or in small, defenceless communities surrounded by a hostile world, like the Huguenot Churches of France after 1629. It had stamped out all forms of dissent. First it had crushed Arminian deviation. That indeed had been easy, for Scottish Arminianism was a feeble growth. Its most famous, perhaps its only advocate within the Kirk, was John Cameron. He was soon forced into exile. Then, having crushed its heretics, the Kirk turned to do battle with its external enemies, the bishops. By the 1640s its triumph was complete. Its intellectual character in those years of triumph is clear from the copious correspondence of Robert Baillie, the most learned (and by no means the most illiberal) of the party, denouncing in turn lay control, toleration, free will, the “Tridentine popery” of Grotius, the “fatuous heresy” of Descartes and the “insolent absurdity” of Selden. Baillie in Glasgow is an echo of Voëtius in Utrecht. But in the 1650s, with the English conquest, the Calvinist Kirk was broken, and for a few years a brief, partial flicker of Enlightenment hovered over its ruins. Unfortunately it did not last. There was no native basis for it, and when the foreign armies were withdrawn, the Kirk soon recovered its power and snuffed it out.12
A generation later it was the turn of the French Huguenots. In the sixteenth century the French Calvinist community had contained some of the most advanced and original thinkers in France: Hotman, Duplessis-Mornay, Agrippa d’Aubigné, Bernard Palissy, Pierre de la Ramée, Ambroise Paré, Isaac Casaubon, Joseph Justus Scaliger . . . The list could be continued. Catherine de Médicis herself admitted that three-quarters of the best educated Frenchmen of her time were Huguenots. But after 1629, when the pride and autonomy of the Huguenots were broken, the independent laymen gradually disappear from among them, and French Protestantism, like Scottish Protestantism, is dominated by a clergy which becomes, with time, increasingly narrow and rigid: crabbed prudes and Puritans, haters of literature and the arts, stuck in postures of defence. There were exceptions of course; but the great exception—the aristocratic Academy of Saumur—only proves the rule. For the Academy of Saumur, which shocked the Calvinist establishment by admitting Cartesianism into its teaching, was Arminian. John Cameron, the Scottish Arminian whom the Kirk of Scotland had expelled, had gone to Saumur and had there succeeded the formidable Dutch Calvinist Gomar. From that day onwards Saumur was the centre of Protestant enlightenment in France, an affront to good Calvinists everywhere.13 As the intendant of Anjou wrote to Louis XIV in 1664, “elle réunit tout ce qu’il y a de gens d’esprit dans le parti protestant pour le rendre célèbre”;14 and a later historian, looking back, can write that “à la base de presque tout libéralisme protestant au 16e siècle, on retrouve Saumur.”15 But Saumur was suspect among the Huguenots of France, and the other Protestant academies took good care to avoid such suspicion. There the laity remained obedient to the clergy, and the clergy obeyed the strict Calvinist rules of the Synod of Dordt.
From this subjection the French Protestant laity were ultimately released—little though he intended it—by Louis XIV. For the expulsion of 1685—as the late Erich Haase has shown—was destined to be the intellectual salvation of the French Protestants. In exile, in sympathetic Protestant societies, they escaped at last from the rigid clericalism to which, as a persecuted minority in Catholic France, they had perforce succumbed. Among the Arminians and Socinians of Holland and the Latitudinarians of England they discovered a new freedom. So, leaving their self-appointed spiritual director, “the Grand Inquisitor of the Dispersion,” Pierre Jurieu, to castigate their backsliding and denounce them as Socinians or infidels, they followed the more seductive teaching of the Arminian Leclerc, the sceptical Bayle.16
A few years later a similar change took place in Switzerland. With the opening of the eighteenth century Switzerland began to replace Holland as the geographical headquarters of the Enlightenment. Balthasar Bekker, the Cartesian clergyman who was hounded from the Church of Holland for disbelieving in witches, was the last European figure of the native Dutch Enlightenment of the seventeenth century. Thereafter it was French-speaking Huguenots who re-created the Republic of Letters. And if they made its first capital in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, they soon made its second capital in Geneva and Lausanne. If the doctrines of Descartes had been received in Holland, those of Locke were received in Switzerland; and Switzerland would retain its supremacy for the rest of the century. When Gibbon decided to retire to Lausanne, his English friends thought him mad. How could a man who had enjoyed the polite society of London and Paris bury himself in a provincial Swiss city? But Gibbon knew Lausanne and he knew his own mind, which had been fashioned there. He never regretted his decision.17
But once again, when we look at the social background to this intellectual change, we find that this Swiss enlightenment has followed on an internal change, and that internal change is the defeat of Calvinism. In the seventeenth century the Calvinist Church in Switzerland had accepted the decrees of the Synod of Dordt. The Academy of Geneva had indeed suffered an Arminian infiltration and had found itself threatened by the invading “doctrine of Saumur.” But its resistance had been successful. Fear of Savoy had been to Geneva what fear of Spain had been to Amsterdam: it had given a reserve of power to the party of resistance, the bigots of the Church. The Consensus Helveticus of 1674 marked the triumph of the strict Calvinist party: it was the Swiss equivalent of the Synod of Dordt, and it was imposed on universities and academies throughout Calvinist Switzerland. The works of Grotius and all his disciples were banned, and the young Leclerc left the cachot of Geneva for the freedom of Saumur. By 1685 all the Swiss academies were in decline. Basel, once an international university, had become purely provincial. At Lausanne, jealously controlled by the oligarchy of Bern, the printing industry was dead and the canton de Vaud could be described as “pays, sinon de barbarie, pour le moins du monde peu curieux et éloigné du beau commerce.”
From this intellectual stagnation Switzerland was raised by a new, and this time successful, Arminian revolt. In Geneva this revolt was begun by Jean-Robert Chouet, a Cartesian who returned from Saumur to Geneva in 1669. It was continued by his pupil J.-A. Turrettini. Thanks largely to the energy of Turrettini, the Consensus Helveticus was finally defeated in Geneva. From 1706 it was no longer imposed on the clergy; and from that date Turrettini’s exiled friend Jean Leclerc would date the enlightenment of Geneva. In the next generation Geneva, to the Encyclopaedists, was a Socinian city. The ministers of religion, wrote d’Alembert, have pure morals, faithfully obey the law, refuse to persecute dissenters, and worship the supreme being in a worthy manner: the religion of many of them is “a perfect Socinianism.” This was a change indeed. The tables had been turned on history, and the Socinian Servetus had triumphed in the very capital of his grim enemy, Calvin.18
In Lausanne the same battle was fought, with a different result and by different means. The battle there was more complicated because Lausanne was not, like Geneva, self-governing: it was a subject city, governed by the distant—and orthodox—oligarchy of Bern. Against that control the Arminians of Lausanne struggled hard. There was Daniel Crespin, the professor of eloquence, yet another product of Saumur, whose pupils were formally denounced for Arminianism in 1698. There was Jean-Pierre de Crousaz, Arminian and Cartesian, who had studied in Paris and Leiden and known Malebranche and Bayle. There was Jean Barbeyrac, the Arminian translator of Grotius, Puffendorf and Archbishop Tillotson. And there were others who, with them, sought to mitigate or evade the severity of the Consensus, its explicit condemnation of “Pietism, Socinianism and Arminianism.” But while their colleagues in Geneva prevailed, the philosophers of Lausanne struggled in vain against an orthodoxy supported from without by the magistrates of Bern. Ten years after the victory of heresy in Geneva, Bern resolved to crush it in Lausanne, and when resistance mounted, the pressure was increased. Finally, in 1722, the oligarchs of Bern struck. They resolved to dismiss all clergy and teachers who refused to accept the Consensus in its strict sense, with its oath to oppose Socinianism and Arminianism. The liberal world was outraged. The kings of England and Prussia wrote letters of protest. But their Excellencies of Bern were resolute. They imposed their wishes. They broke the spirit of de Crousaz, now Rector of the Academy. And when protests continued to be raised, and Major Davel even threatened to lead a revolt against the domination of Bern, they issued a positive order forbidding further discussion of the subject. Orthodoxy, it seemed, had triumphed: the debate was closed.
And yet in fact, from that very date, the heretics had triumphed in Lausanne. The forms and oaths might be maintained for another generation, but their force was spent. The last antics of orthodoxy had made it ridiculous. As the young Gibbon wrote, whether through shame, or pity, or the shock of Davel’s attempt, the persecution ceased, and if Arminians and Socinians were still denounced by the self-righteous, they suffered, from now on, only social discrimination. Intellectually they had won; and their victory inaugurated what a modern Italian historian has called the “risveglio culturale losannese.” Long afterwards, looking back on the formation of his own mind, Gibbon would avow his debt to that cultural revival, and above all to de Crousaz, whose “philosophy had been formed in the school of Locke, his divinity in that of Limborch and Leclerc,” whose lessons had “rescued the Academy of Lausanne from Calvinistic prejudice,” and who had diffused “a more liberal spirit among the clergy and people of the Pays de Vaud.”19
Finally, from Switzerland we return to Scotland again. There the brief flicker of enlightenment in the 1650s had been quickly extinguished. The Stuart Restoration and the “Killing Times” had driven the Kirk back into postures of defensive radicalism—just as persecution by Louis XIV had driven the French Huguenots. The narrow bigotry of the Kirk, the messianic gibberish of the outlawed Cameronians, are the Scottish equivalents of the spiritual police system of Jurieu and the hysteria of “the French prophets,” the Camisards of the “Desert.” But the peace imposed on the Kirk by William III had some of the effects of the peace formerly imposed by Cromwell, and the union with England in 1707, which opened new economic opportunities and new intellectual horizons to the Scottish laity, undermined the clergy in the same way in which exile in Holland and Switzerland had undermined the Huguenot pastors. Henceforth the Scottish laity would be, as Baillie had complained of the English in his time, “very fickle and hard to be keeped by their ministers.” The liberalism which in the 1650s had rested on English regiments could now rest on a native Scottish base.
The solvent effects, first of the Orange Settlement, then of the union with England, were soon clear. Arminianism raised its head again in the Scottish Church. By the Revolution Settlement of 1689–90 the Calvinist Church did indeed recover its formal structure. The bishops once again disappeared. The General Assembly, dissolved since 1653, was revived. The ejected ministers returned. But while the forms of the old Calvinism were thus restored, its internal strength was undermined. Episcopalian ministers were allowed to retain their livings simply by taking an oath of allegiance to the Crown. The covenants—the National Covenant of 1638 and the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, the shibboleths of the strict Calvinists—were quietly dropped. Thus the Scottish Church too was set free from its Synod of Dordt, its Consensus Helveticus. In 1712 the Patronage Act, the work of the English Tories, put Scottish Church appointments effectively under educated lay patronage, and guaranteed the Church, at last, against the bigotry of the past century.20 Twenty years later the strict defenders of the Covenants, long resentful of such backsliding, decided to secede from the Church on this issue. Having seceded, they showed the strength of their convictions by a solemn protest against the abolition of witch-burning. This “Original Secession” was to be the first of a series of secessions which, by draining away the fanatics, strengthened the new, moderate, laicized party in the Kirk. By the time when foreigners looked in admiration to the Enlightenment of the north, the Scottish Kirk had been de-Calvinized: it was governed, for thirty years, by the Arminian historian William Robertson, the friend of Hume, Gibbon and Adam Smith.
Thus we now see that if the new philosophy was forwarded in successive Calvinist societies, it was forwarded, in each instance, not by Calvinism but by the defeat of Calvinism. Arminianism or Socinianism, not Calvinism, was the religion of the pre-Enlightenment. Calvinism, that fierce and narrow re-creation of medieval scholasticism, was its enemy: the last enemy which died in the last ditches of Holland, England, Switzerland, Scotland.
Still, it may be objected, these “heresies” are Calvinist heresies. Arminianism grew out of Calvinism. Socinianism was regarded by Catholics and Protestants alike as a radical movement, a deviation to the extreme Left. If the Calvinist thesis is untenable in the strict sense, may it not remain tenable in a modified sense? Instead of “Calvinism” may we not read “radical Protestantism,” Puritanism on the left wing of Calvinist orthodoxy? Unfortunately even this modification is, I believe, untenable. It is untenable partly because such terms as Left and Right, however useful they may be in political history, have no meaning in intellectual history: ideas cannot be ranged, like political parties, in a continuous spectrum according to the energy or violence with which men are prepared to go in one of two directions. But even if such crude categories are admitted, it is still untenable because neither Arminianism nor Socinianism was in fact necessarily a radical movement.
Arminianism is generally regarded as a right-wing deviation from Calvinism. The Dutch Arminians were attacked by the Dutch Calvinists as opening the way to popery. Oldenbarnevelt was accused of appeasing Catholic Spain. Grotius was regularly denounced as a crypto-Papist. The constant cry of alarm of the Dutch Calvinists was that “the Arminian was himself a disguised papist, a concealed Jesuit.”21 Exactly the same was said of the English Arminians. “If you mark it well,” cried the Cornish Puritan Francis Rous in the last, tumultuary session of the early parliaments of Charles I, “you shall see an arminian reaching out his hand to a papist, a papist to a Jesuit.” Crypto-popery was the regular charge made against the Arminian clergy in England and Scotland, the followers of Archbishop Laud.
It is true, historians have tried to separate English from Dutch Arminianism in order to admit the Anglo-Catholicism of the former while saving the Protestantism of the latter. Arminianism in England, they say, is a mere nickname: it was applied, almost accidentally, to a clerical party in the Anglican Church and does not entail the same doctrinal content as in Holland; and in support of this they cite the bon mot of George Morley, who, when asked “what the Arminians held,” replied that they held “all the best bishoprics and deaneries in England.” But this distinction between Dutch and English Arminianism is an arbitrary separation which does not survive closer scrutiny. In fact, English and Dutch Arminianism are closely connected. Grotius admired the Church of England of his time—the Church of Laud—above all other Churches: “body and soul he professeth himself to be for the Church of England,” a diplomatic colleague wrote of him; and he personally admired Archbishop Laud.22 Grotius’ English followers in religion were Anglicans: Lord Falkland and his circle at Great Tew—Chillingworth, Hales, Clarendon, George Sandys; Henry Hammond, the chaplain of Charles I, who was to be the chief propagandist of “the Grotian religion” in the 1650s; Clement Barksdale, the royalist High Anglican parson who wrote the biography of Grotius and translated his works. Conversely, Laud himself, for all his clericalism, was liberal in theology: he was the patron of Chillingworth and Hales, the friend of Selden. And the Laudian bishops in Scotland, if we can see past the libels of the good Scotch Calvinists, denouncing them as monsters spawned in the foul womb of Antichrist, are found to be liberal, tolerant and enlightened men, true Arminians in the spirit of Grotius.23 The most famous of Scottish Arminians, John Cameron, perfectly illustrates the indivisibility, the universality, of the Arminian movement. Like the Laudians he supported the introduction of episcopacy into Scotland and was attacked for his Arminian doctrines by the detestable Rutherford. But he remained a liberal within the Calvinist Church and when driven out of Scotland went to create the liberal tradition of Saumur, the saving spirit of the French Huguenots.
The case of Socinianism is similar. Because the Socinians were attacked as the most outrageous heretics by orthodox Catholics and Protestants alike, they are often regarded as “radical Protestants,” on the extreme Left. But this is too simple a view. Socinianism in the seventeenth century was a heresy of the Right before it was a heresy of the Left—if indeed we can use such terms at all. It was regularly associated with Arminianism. In Holland only the Arminians accepted the Socinians into communion. In England Archbishop Laud and several of his bishops were accused of Socinianism.24 So were the Laudian bishops in Scotland.25 So were later Anglican bishops like Stillingfleet and Tillotson.26 So was Grotius.27 So were the disciples of Grotius: Falkland, Hales and Chillingworth in England; Episcopius, Limborch and Leclerc in Holland. Indeed Arminianism and Socinianism are often interchangeable terms, at least as terms of abuse. Of course there may have been Socinians on the Left too—for Socinianism is only the application of secular, critical, human reason to religious texts and religious problems—and certainly, during the Puritan Revolution, both Arminianism, the Arminianism of John Milton, and Socinianism, the Socinianism of John Bidle, appeared as Puritan movements. But historically both had been movements within the Anglican establishment before they became movements in Puritan society; and when the Anglican establishment was restored, they took their place in it again.
In general we are too prone to suppose that the Independency of the Puritan Republic was intellectually a radical movement. Once again this results from a confusion of political with intellectual terms. Because the Independents, the Cromwellians, were prepared to cut off the king’s head, while the Presbyterians, the followers of Denzil Holles, wished to keep it on, it is easy to suppose that the former were more “radical” than the latter. But this is not necessarily true, even in politics. After their radical gesture, the Independents showed themselves, in many ways, the more conservative party. They were the English party, who resented Scottish dictation in English affairs, and their ultimate ideal was an Elizabethan monarchy, with a moderate, lay-controlled Church, not a stadholderate and a theocracy. Once the Independents were established in power, they soon discovered their continuity with Anglican royalists. In Scotland, the old royalists preferred the regicide English Independents to the royalist Scottish Presbyterians, and in England Cromwell openly confessed that he preferred “a royalist interest to a Scotch [i.e., Presbyterian] interest.” The execution of Charles I is to some extent, in the distinction between “Presbyterians” and Independents, a red herring. Independency was not, in itself, a radical movement: it was the continuation, on a new political base, of a liberal tradition which had previously been embodied in Anglicanism, and which had to reassert itself against the illiberal Calvinism of the Scots.
Even in small matters this continuity can be seen. Those who see the Independents as Puritan fanatics, more extreme than the “Presbyterians,” tend to overlook the inconvenient evidence that contemporaries saw the position (at least outside politics) in reverse. They saw the “Presbyterians” as the sour, Puritan party and the Independents as the gay, “libertine” successors of the cavaliers. To Anthony Wood, the Presbyterians “seemed to be very severe in their course of life, manners or conversation, and habit or apparel,” constantly preaching damnation, whereas the Independents, clergy and laity alike, were “more free, gay, and with a reserve frolicsome”; of a gay habit, preaching liberty. The Independent minister John Owen, for instance, when vice-chancellor of Oxford, “instead of being a grave example to the university,” went about “in quirpo like a young scholar,” with powdered hair, lawn bands and tasselled bandstrings, flowing ribbons, “Spanish leather boots with large lawn tops, and his hat mostly cocked.”28 In Scotland similarly the good Calvinist Baillie complained of the flamboyant elegance, lavish expense and courtly manners of his own hated rival, Owen’s friend, the Independent Patrick Gillespie.29 In Scotland, as in England, the Independents—or some of them—were the un-Calvinist, free, gay party: the heirs of the royalists.
Thus the Arminian-Socinian movement which, by breaking Calvinist rule in one society after another, released the forces of the new philosophy, was, if anything, a right-wing movement; royalist and Anglican in England and Scotland, “crypto-Catholic” in Holland, “libertine” in Switzerland. Nor is this in any way surprising. For in fact this movement is not an extension of Calvinism, as is so often supposed, nor a deviation from it, either to right or to left. It is an independent movement, with a distinct origin, a continuous tradition, and a pedigree longer than that of Calvinism. Indeed, Calvinism can be seen as an outgrowth of it, an obscurantist deviation from it, rather than vice versa. In order to see this, and to follow the two-hundred-years dialogue between the two movements, we must go back to the figure who stands at the source of both of them as of so much else: Erasmus.
If Arminianism is free will in theory, tolerance in practice, within a reformed, primitive, visible, Christian Church, Erasmus is the first Arminian; and indeed the Dutch Arminians recognized the fact. So did their English disciples: Erasmus was the inspiration not only of Arminius and Grotius but also of Grotius’ disciples at Great Tew. Equally if Socinianism is the application of critical, solvent human reason to religious texts and to religious problems, within a similar Church, Erasmus is the first Socinian, and this paternity was recognized too. The Swiss and Italian émigrés who founded the Socinian movement in Switzerland and carried it to Poland—Castellio, Acontius, Lelio Sozzini himself—were disciples of Erasmus. Even in the narrow sense of the word, the sense in which its enemies used it, Socinianism derives from Erasmus. For the peculiar tenet of the early Socinians, the particular result of their application of reason to Scripture, was the rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity, and so of the divinity of Christ; and although Erasmus had not exposed himself on this topic, any more than many later Socinians were to do, it was his textual scholarship which was the basis of their rejection. He demonstrated, with a cogency that was proof against his own later half-hearted withdrawals, that the only biblical text which could be used to support that doctrine was spurious. It can therefore be said that Sozzini and Arminius merely gave their names to particular developments of a philosophy which they had received from Erasmus. This philosophy preceded Calvinism as Erasmus preceded Calvin. It was violently attacked by Calvin, who assailed the believers in free will as “libertines” and had Servetus burnt for rejecting the Trinity. Nevertheless, at certain times, it was subsumed in Calvinism and became a solvent force within it.
How Erasmianism was subsumed in Calvinism is easy to see. Erasmus himself preached his doctrines from the Right, to the Establishment. But he did not capture the Establishment, and in the generation after his death, his disciples had to reconsider their position. Either they must surrender to the Catholic Church which meant that they must give up their essential philosophy, or they must take up arms against that Church and, in so doing, accept radical leadership and the transformation of that philosophy. The choice was disagreeable, but could hardly be avoided—unless one were to seek a refuge outside the area of struggle, in distant Transylvania or anarchical Poland. The boldest spirits chose the second alternative. They decided to take up arms. Admittedly, in taking up arms, they had to surrender part of their philosophy, but it was better to surrender part than to surrender all. If they submitted to the leadership of a militant Protestant sect which, at that time, was still young and malleable, they might yet hope to control or influence it. At the very least they might preserve and reassert, after victory, the doctrines which, for the time being, must be muted. Submission to Rome, it seemed at that time, was quite different. Rome was old and strong. It did not bargain or compromise; and submission to it was total and final.
The militant Protestant sect to which the Erasmians naturally submitted was Calvinism. Calvinism might be, in many ways, fundamentally opposed to Erasmianism. Calvinism was intolerant, fundamentalist, scholastic, determinist, while Erasmianism was tolerant, sceptical, mystical, liberal. But Calvinism itself had Erasmian origins. Unlike Lutheranism, it presupposed a reformed, visible, primitive Church; it was also austere, scholarly, scientific; and in its earliest days it appealed to the same class in the same areas—the educated official and mercantile classes of Latin Europe. In submitting to Calvinism the Erasmians of Europe saw rather the common origin than the separate development of their movements. They were like those European Liberals who, in the 1930s, rather than surrender to Fascism, accepted Communist leadership of the Popular Front. Like these twentieth-century successors, they would soon find their relations with the Party uncomfortable, and afterwards—in happier times—they would seek the way out.
This slide of the Erasmians into Calvinism is easy to document. Wherever there was a centre of Erasmianism in the 1520s and 1530s—in the cities of France and Switzerland, the Rhineland and the Netherlands, in the princely Courts or noble households of Navarre, Transylvania, Poland—there we shall find a centre of Calvinism in the 1550s and 1560s. We can even watch the process happening. In the 1550s, when the Court of Rome seemed committed to blind reaction and all the works of Erasmus were put on the Index, the humanists of Europe were driven to the Left, driven into the arms of the only organization which seemed capable of preserving, at whatever price, the residue of their philosophy. It was then that the English humanists, fleeing from Marian persecution, accepted the leadership of Geneva; then that the humanists of the Netherlands, persecuted under the Plakaten, turned to the Calvinism that was to provide the discipline of their later revolt; then that the French humanists—the sceptical littérateurs of the days of François I—chose the road that would end, for many of them, with the massacre of St. Bartholomew; then that George Buchanan, who was one of them, would return at last to Scotland and become the intellectual leader of Calvinist revolution. Thanks to such men Calvinism, whose real social strength came from the urban artisanate, organized and disciplined by an indoctrinated clergy, could be said to have attracted the intellectual élite of Europe.
However, attraction is not absorption. This intellectual élite never formed the core of the Calvinist Church. Always the two intellectual elements of the Calvinist Church—the clergy who controlled its force and the humanists who merely attached themselves to it—remained separable, and often there was tension between them. The degree of tension varied with the structure of society around them. In monarchical countries with a developed, independent laity, the Calvinist Church could not prevail. Erasmian princes—Queen Elizabeth, William of Orange, Catherine de Médicis—might use the Church at times, but would always prefer to be independent of it, and looked to the laity to provide that independence. In petty principalities or city-states the Church would be proportionately stronger—especially if such states were politically weak and vulnerable and needed to draw on a reservoir of fanaticism. In such states the lay power would still seek to be independent of the Church. In Geneva there was a continuing struggle between the Venerable Company of Ministers and the City Council. In the Palatinate princely patronage was independent of the Church. But, in fact, in both societies, since they lived in fear of conquest, the Church exercised great power. In backward countries, like Scotland or Navarre, where an educated, independent laity hardly existed, the Church was without a rival: the prince had nothing to balance against it—unless, like James I or Henri IV, he had external patronage: the patronage of England or France. On the other hand, in eastern Europe, where an anarchical noble liberty prevailed, Erasmianism could still maintain itself independently of Calvinism—at least to the end of the sixteenth century. Hence Poland and Transylvania were the home of Socinianism in the second half of the sixteenth century.30 Finally, the international Protestant universities preserved something of the liberty of the old communes. In great monarchies the universities might be brought to conformity with the established Church; but where a university was a powerful international centre, it could be a centre of intellectual heresy. The great days of the Protestant University of Heidelberg were those in which it rose above the cramping orthodoxy of the Palatinate and was the western centre of Socinianism.31
This distinction between the intolerant, predestinarian, scholastic doctrines of the Calvinist clergy and the tolerant, sceptical rationalism of the Erasmians whom political necessity had joined to them must be emphasized if we are to understand the religious context of Protestant intellectual history in the seventeenth century. For the two movements were never completely fused. They never could be. Only the pressure of fear—the fear of Catholic subversion or foreign conquest or both—kept them united. It was this fear which had brought them together in the beginning. The same fear would bring them together again and again, whenever freedom had to be sacrificed to discipline, private criticism to common faith. But whenever that fear was suspended the two parties to the alliance naturally drew apart. In times of security why should the rational, sceptical, mystical heirs of Erasmus accept the leadership of intellectual reactionaries, scholastical bigots, blinkered Augustinians, Hebraic fundamentalists? They could afford to stand on their own.
Once this distinction is recognized, the relationship between Arminianism and Calvinism becomes much clearer. Arminianism is not a Calvinist heresy. Inherently, it has nothing to do with Calvinism. It is only accidentally connected with Arminius.32 Essentially it is an independent movement which precedes Calvinism. Its apparent emergence out of Calvinism in Holland, Switzerland, Scotland, its appearance as a movement in the Anglican Church in opposition to the Calvinism of the Elizabethan clergy, is in fact merely the assertion of independence by an earlier tradition which had been temporarily merged with Calvinism.
It had been merged under the pressure of politics. The same political conjuncture which had first compelled the humanist Erasmians to join the Calvinist Church was to recur again and again. It was to recur in the 1580s, when the threat of Spanish conquest hung over the Netherlands and the Erasmians of Holland, in self-defence, would yield to the Calvinist Predikants whom many of them hated. At the same time, under the same threat, the English Calvinist clergy would become, for a time, the articulators of English resistance and, in that fortunate conjuncture, would attempt to impose their leadership on the Church. This was the time of the Marprelate Tracts and of John Field’s attempt to capture control of the Church of England from within. In both countries, England and Holland, the Calvinists would be protected by that unscrupulous political adventurer, the Earl of Leicester, who was indeed the patron of “radical Protestants” everywhere, but not necessarily, therefore, of original ideas. The same threat would create a similar alliance in France; but there the fact of civil war, and the nice balance of forces, would enable many of the humanists to preserve a middle position between the Churches. Those who in England and Holland were liberals within the Calvinist fold, in France might be Huguenots—but might equally be Catholic politiques. In either case, their loyalty to their religious party was conditional. When the external danger was removed, they would assert their independence.
At the end of the sixteenth century that danger was removed. By 1600 the first assault of the Counter-Reformation had been successfully resisted, and the Erasmians no longer needed to submerge their identity within a disciplined party. So they re-emerged. But because they had once been submerged, they re-emerged with a difference, at least of name. Their continuous identity had been forgotten and they took, or were given, the names of their new leaders. Arminius in Holland seemed a heretic within the Calvinist Church, although in fact he did but reassert the old doctrines of Erasmus. Fausto Sozzini, through whom “rational” theology came back to western Europe, seemed the founder of a new “Polish” sect, although in fact he did but repeat the ideas of the Swiss and Italian disciples of Erasmus, displaced for a generation; and because that sect made itself known in Holland and disconcerted the clergy of the established Calvinist Church, it too seemed to be a Calvinist heresy. So Socinianism was described as a “radical Protestant” movement, on the “extreme Left” of Protestantism. But these terms are meaningless. Or at least, if they have meaning, it is only if we admit that Calvinism itself was a reactionary movement, a revival of the scholastic theology, providential history and Aristotelean science which Erasmus, Machiavelli and the Platonists of Florence had threatened to undermine.
So dawned the second phase of the Enlightenment, the golden “Jacobean” age of Bacon and Grotius: a phase which was rudely interrupted as one society after another shrank into itself before the threat of renewed ideological war. In 1618 the fear of war, of Spanish and Catholic reconquest, came to Holland, and once again the Calvinist preachers, the propagandists of resistance, asserted their power. The Arminians were crushed, or recognized the greater danger and came willingly to heel. In other countries the same pattern was repeated, with local variations. If Grotius was imprisoned in Calvinist Holland, Bacon was posthumously puritanized in England. The advocates of the Puritan origins of science would puritanize him still. It was not till the end of the ideological wars of Europe—that is, till the 1650s—that liberal, rational ideas could begin to emancipate themselves, once again, from their alliance with Calvinism: that oppressive alliance which political necessity had forced upon them in order to escape the even more oppressive clericalism of the Counter-Reformation.
But if Arminianism and Socinianism, the religious movements which led to the Enlightenment, thus looked back past Calvin to the days of Erasmus and the Pre-Reform, the days of an undivided Catholic Church, what of the other half of that Church, the half which remained Catholic? For the Catholic Church also had its Erasmists. Not all of them surrendered unconditionally to the forces of the Counter-Reformation. Some at least had supposed, or hoped, that the critical, liberal spirit could be preserved within the Catholic Church: that surrender to the new dogmatism of the Council of Trent was a mere temporary necessity, and that afterwards they too could look back past the new orthodoxy to the ideas which it seemed to extinguish. In this they were perhaps mistaken, for the clericalism of the Counter-Reformation was more powerfully armed than the clericalism of the Protestant Churches. But we should not blame them for that. In their hatred of the excesses of the Reform—the vulgarity, the vandalism, the blind revolutionary spirit which it enlisted—they did not foresee the future. They did not calculate, in the 1550s, that the aggressive revolutionary, dynamic Calvinist clergy would gradually lose their grip while the Catholic clergy, the defenders of a weakened tradition, would gradually strengthen theirs.
So even in Catholic countries, beneath the forms even of Counter-Reformation orthodoxy, we can discover a persistent tradition of liberalism, waiting to reassert itself. It does not show itself in organized parties or distinct sects, like the Arminian and the Socinian parties in the Protestant Churches. The Catholic Church does not allow parties or sects: diversity of opinion within it must be expressed more vaguely, in “movements.” But as a movement it is visible enough, at least in certain societies. Admittedly, it is difficult—though not altogether impossible—to see it in Spain and in the countries dominated by Spain: Italy, Flanders and Portugal. There the engines of clericalism were fully developed and were backed by a strong central power. It is equally difficult to see it in “recusant” societies: Catholic communities living insecurely under Protestant rule. Such hunted minorities in Holland or England would be as narrow in their orthodoxy, as submissive to their clergy, as the Protestants of France under Louis XIII and Louis XIV. But in Catholic countries where there was no effective Inquisition and a strong, educated laity, able to influence their clergy, the tradition remains firm, even if submerged, even if disguised; and when the pressure of social and ideological struggle is released it will soon break out.
The most obvious of such societies, at least in the first century of the Counter-Reformation, were France and Venice. In France the secular power was perforce tolerant of its numerous Huguenot subjects. In Venice the old republican independence was asserted and the Counter-Reformation was kept at bay. Consequently both France and Venice were natural centres of Catholic humanism. That humanism was not snuffed out by the Catholic reaction of the 1550s. It survived the anarchy of the Wars of Religion, and revealed itself openly in the years of reduced ideological tension which I have described as the second phase of the Enlightenment: the generation before the full impact of the Thirty Years War.
The great names in this period are obvious enough. If the years 1590–1625, in the Protestant world, are the age of Bacon and Selden and Grotius, in the Catholic world they are the age of Montaigne and de Thou, Davila and Sarpi. All these were recognized as precursors by the men of the Enlightenment. Montaigne was the heir to the scepticism of Erasmus, the father of that seventeenth-century Pyrrhonism which relaxed the dogmas of the Churches and the Aristotelean cosmology behind them.33 De Thou, Davila and Sarpi are named by Gibbon as the second founders, after Machiavelli and Guicciardini, of “philosophic history.” Davila is indeed the Machiavelli of the seventeenth century, the favourite reading of “civil historians” and philosophic statesmen. De Thou, the most Protestant of Catholic historians—the founder, according to modern Catholic writers, of the persistent “Protestant bias” in sixteenth-century French historiography34 —was an admirer of Erasmus: indeed, his greatest crime in the eyes of the Church was that in his History he not only mentioned the forbidden name of Erasmus but described him as grande huius saeculi decus, “the great glory of this century.” And as for Sarpi, how can we think of that generation without him? At every turn we find ourselves faced by that indefatigable polymath: the Servite friar who corresponded with the Protestants of Europe in order to create a solid, non-doctrinal front against papal aggression; the historian who sought to show that European history had taken a false turn at the Council of Trent; the statesman who insisted, alone among Catholics, on the Socinian doctrine of the separation of Church from State; the social scientist whose analysis of the economic power of the Church improves upon that of Selden, foreshadows that of Giannone, and was hailed by Gibbon as “a golden volume” which would survive the papacy itself, “a philosophical history and a salutary warning.”35
Most of these “Catholic Erasmians” of the early seventeenth century were heretics within their Church, just as the Arminians were heretics in the Protestant Churches. De Thou, in spite of a determined rearguard action, saw his work condemned by Rome in 1609. At his death his last volume was preserved from destruction only by the devotion of his secretary, Pierre Dupuy, who sent the manuscript abroad to be published in Geneva. The devotion of his heirs would have burnt it. Sarpi, of course, was the hated enemy of the papacy, and his great work was smuggled to England for publication: it was never published in a Catholic country till the eighteenth century. Even Montaigne, whose Pyrrhonism could be and was used as a means to defend traditional Catholicism, did not survive unscathed: his essays were finally condemned in Rome in 1676. And if the greatest religious thinker of seventeenth-century France, Cardinal Bérulle, the founder of the Oratory, contrived to combine the ideas of Erasmus and Montaigne with the Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation,36 his disciples, the French Oratorians, soon found themselves in difficulty.
For the Oratorians, in the second half of the seventeenth century, would be the heretics within the Catholic fold. In Saumur the Catholic Oratory would compete with the Huguenot Academy in teaching the ideas of Descartes, condemned by the orthodox of both Churches. The Oratorian Malebranche would reconcile Cartesianism with Catholicism. The Oratorian Bernard Lamy—another Cartesian of Saumur—would draw the young Leclerc from Calvinism to Arminianism. And above all, there would be the greatest of seventeenth-century biblical scholars, the Oratorian Richard Simon, who reintroduced Socinian rationalism into the study of Scripture.
Richard Simon was a devout Catholic. If he demolished the sacred text of the Bible, he did it, no doubt, for good Catholic purposes. He wished to turn the tables on the Protestant controversialists who had demolished the Fathers and fallen back on the Bible as the sole source of truth. But he demolished it all the same, and the Trinity to boot. For he too, like Erasmus and Socinus, rejected the famous verse, i John v. 7, on which the doctrine of the Trinity was held to depend. For his critical method Simon looked back to Erasmus. His immediate models were the Protestant scholars Scaliger, Buxtorf, Cappel and Bochart. And he provided material for Voltaire. No wonder the orthodox—Protestant as well as Catholic—hated him. No wonder Bishop Bossuet, the paladin of Catholic orthodoxy, the defender of the monolithic Roman (or rather, Gallican) tradition against the multiple, changing heresies of Protestantism, was haunted to his death by the thought of this infamous priest. For Simon’s work, published by Protestant printers in Amsterdam and sent to the bonfire by Bossuet in Paris, showed irrefutably that the supposed monolith, for all its superficial smoothness and apparent strength, was itself no less complex, no less uncertain, no less variable than the enemy which beset it. The grandiose synthesis of established Counter-Reformation Catholicism was worm-eaten with heresy—Socinian heresy—too.37
Thus throughout the seventeenth century the Erasmian tradition—to use a convenient phrase—survived in the Catholic as well as in the Protestant Church, and by the end of the century it was challenging the established orthodoxy there too. Under different names it was undermining or transforming the Aristotelean certainties which had been restated and reimposed by Catholics and Protestants alike. Ultimately it would undermine even the new system which, for a time, had seemed to threaten both Churches, but which had gradually been absorbed into the state-Catholicism of France and had supplied it with a new articulation and a new defence against Pyrrhonism: the system of Descartes. Giannone would turn from Descartes to de Thou, Montaigne, Bacon and Newton.38 Voltaire would reject Descartes for Bacon, become the prophet of Locke and Newton—both Socinians in religion—and draw on the work of English Quakers and deists, French Oratorians and Jesuits: for the Jesuits too, for a brief time, were “heretical” in the eyes of the Church, critics attenuating doctrinal difficulties, anthropologists preaching a religious relativity which would lead them into trouble and scandal in the great affair of Chinese ceremonies.39 Gibbon’s intellectual progress typified the pre-history of the Enlightenment. First, he would succumb to the majestic system of Bossuet: “the English translations of the two famous works of Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, achieved my conversion,” he would write, “and I surely fell by a noble hand.” Then, following the example of the Socinian Chillingworth and the Pyrrhonist Bayle, whose “acute and manly understandings” had been entangled in the same sophistries, he returned to his native Protestantism and was finally re-educated in Lausanne by Arminian teachers and the works of emancipated Huguenot scholars of the Dispersion.40
In all this, where is Calvinism? Where is “radical Protestantism”? Except as enemies of the Enlightenment they are nowhere to be found. Their part, it seems, is no more positive than that of the Dominican and Franciscan inquisitors in the Roman Church—except that their repression was, happily, less effective. Indeed, where Calvinism was strongest—in Scotland—we find the seeds of Enlightenment not so much in its Arminian deviationists, whom it was able to suppress, as in its open enemies, who hid from it in secluded corners or fled to safety abroad. For the Scottish Enlightenment—that wonderful, unexplored subject which Scottish historians have disowned in order to reiterate old party war-cries about the battle of Bannockburn and the dubious virtue of Mary Stuart—perhaps owed more to Scottish Jacobites, even to Scottish Catholics, than to Scottish Presbyterians: to the Jacobite physician Archibald Pitcairne, denounced as a deist or atheist and more at home in Leiden than in Edinburgh; to the Jacobite scholar William Ruddiman secluded in his protective library; to the episcopalian north-east captured by the mysticism of Antoinette Bourignon; to the Catholic lairds who nourished heretical ideas in isolated castles and peel-towers and the Catholic hedge-priests who visited them. The founder of critical history in Scotland, Thomas Innes, was an émigré Catholic priest in the service of the Pretender. The chevalier Ramsay, precursor of the encyclopaedists, began as one of the mystics of the north-east, became the secretary of the Catholic Quietist Madame Guyon and ended as a Catholic deist, tutor of the young Pretender. The 10th Earl Marischal, friend of Frederick the Great, patron of Rousseau, was an émigré Jacobite. David Hume was a Jacobite till 1745; his friend Lord Kames remained one thereafter. And without these, what is the Scottish Enlightenment?41
Thus, when we look into the religious origins of the Enlightenment we do not discover them in any one Church or sect. They are to be found in both Churches and in several sects. What is common to the men who express such ideas is that all of them are, in some sense, heretical: that is, they either belong to dissident groups within their Churches or are themselves regarded as unorthodox. The orthodox Churches—Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinist—look askance at them.42 Moreover, the heretical tradition which they share is not only independent of the Reformation from which it is so often supposed to have sprung. It precedes the Reformation; and the Reformation, though it may at first have liberated it, has soon become a repressive movement, positively fragmenting and obstructing it. The intellectual tradition of scepticism, mysticism, critical scholarship, lay reason, free will, which was united in Erasmus was broken up and driven underground by the ideological struggles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. What had once been a general movement within a united society, acceptable in the courts of princes and in the cathedrals of the established Church, became, under the impact of successive ideological struggles, a number of separate heresies, labelled with sectarian names and equally condemned by all right-minded members of the several religious establishments. In times of ideological peace, olympian minds like those of Grotius or de Thou or Bacon would seek to reunite these ideas, to restore to them their original respectability, and to develop them further. Once again princes and higher clergy would listen to them. But the return of religious war gave power to the radicals of orthodoxy; to the Calvinists who condemned Grotius in Holland, to the friars who condemned Galileo in Italy. The movement which might have been reunited was once again splintered: what might have been the orthodoxy of a united society became again the heresies of divided Churches. The eighteenth-century Enlightenment, when it came, would be a reunion of all the heretics, the reintegration of a movement which religious revolution had arrested and transformed, but could not destroy.
And yet, when we have said this, we have not said all. The ghost of Calvinism cannot so easily be exorcised. For if Calvinism was intellectually retrograde and repressive, a positive, vindictive enemy of enlightenment, politically it nevertheless performed an essential service. It is not enough to say that the Enlightenment would have come sooner had there been no ideological war in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The fact is that there was such war; and once we accept that fact, we have to admit that Calvinism played an important, perhaps a vital part in it. It gave to the Netherlands the spiritual force which transformed an aristocratic resistance into a national revolution and created a new political phenomenon in Europe. It gave to Scotland the power to assert and preserve its national identity. It gave to the city of Geneva the power to resist covetous enemies. Without that resistance the Counter-Reformation might well have triumphed in Europe, and although we may admit that the Erasmian tradition survived even under the heavy weight of the new Catholicism, we have to admit also that its survival was very precarious and that without the resistance and example of Protestant Europe, it might have been extinguished. Certainly this was the view of contemporaries. We cannot overlook the general view of the humanists of the mid-sixteenth century to whom the choice seemed to be either total surrender of the intellect to Catholicism or merely partial surrender to Calvinism. The discipline of Calvinism could be seen as the temporary discipline of necessary war; that of Counter-Reformation Catholicism seemed the permanent discipline of a police-state. And certainly it was in the societies in which the Counter-Reformation had not triumphed that intellectual independence was soonest resumed.
This conviction of contemporaries that Calvinism, however intellectually reactionary, was the necessary political ally of intellectual progress is shown most clearly by the attitude of the Roman Catholic precursors of the Enlightenment. Jacques-Auguste de Thou was a good Catholic who lived and died in the profession of his faith. But he was also, as he continually observed, devoted to historical truth, and historically he saw the Huguenots as the defenders of Erasmian reform and progress. For this he was denounced in Rome. To avoid condemnation he adopted every device, every compromise, every concession—except the only one which would have served him. He refused to retract his opinions. Consequently he was condemned. The drama of de Thou’s long-drawn-out battle with Rome, the whole tenor of his History, a “Protestant” history by a Catholic writer, and the evidence of his correspondence with his intimate friends in the Calvinist party—Jerome Groslot de Lisle, whose father had perished in the massacre of St. Bartholomew; Isaac Casaubon, who had fled to England to escape the convertisseurs; Georg Michael Lingelsheim, the tutor and councillor of the Calvinist Count Palatine—all this shows that, for de Thou, even Catholic enlightenment depended on the help of the Calvinist resistance.
Even more vivid is the evidence of de Thou’s great contemporary, Paolo Sarpi: the Catholic friar who led the intellectual resistance of Europe, and the political resistance of Venice, against the aggression of the Counter-Reformation. Sarpi’s whole life made him an ally of the Protestant world, and there is no need here to document the details of his alliance with it. But one fact deserves special mention. Soon after the Synod of Dordt, Sarpi wrote to the Dutch scholar and poet Daniel Heinsius declaring his own position in the religious controversies of Holland. That position, at first sight, surprises us. For Sarpi gave his support not, as we should expect, to the Arminians, the party of liberal Calvinists who were the natural allies of liberal Catholics, but to the Contra-Remonstrants, the extreme Calvinists, the persecutors of Grotius, the bigots of Predestination. On merely intellectual grounds this action is unintelligible. It assumes significance only if we see it in a political light. On the eve of renewed ideological war, the greatest Catholic historian recognized that the extreme Calvinists, the party of uncompromising, unconditional resistance, were the essential allies of all those Catholics who sought to preserve the intellectual freedom so nearly smothered by the Council of Trent.43
Politically, therefore, Calvinism may well have been necessary to the intellectual progress of Europe in the seventeenth century. This we may concede, just as we may concede that politically the Whig party was necessary to the securing of English liberty in the same century. But there is a difference between political and intellectual truth. The fact that Whig resistance broke Stuart despotism does not mean either that the Whig theories of the constitution and of liberty were intellectually right or even, in themselves, progressive. Nor does it mean that such theories, of themselves, entailed the consequences which followed the victory of the party professing them. Similarly, the fact that Calvinist resistance was necessary to the continuation and development of an intellectual tradition does not entail any direct or logical connection between them. A philosopher, in a time of crisis, may have to put on a suit of armour. To that suit of armour he may owe his life, and his capacity to go on philosophizing. But that does not make the armour the source of his philosophy. Indeed, while it is being worn it may well impede free speculation, which can be resumed only when the battle is over and it has been put off. The virtue of Calvinism, in respect of the Enlightenment, may perhaps be reduced to this. As a suit of armour it proved serviceable in battle, and though more uncomfortable to wear, proved easier to discard than the archaic, ornamentally encrusted chain-mail which protected, but also stifled the philosophers of the rival Church.
[1. ]See, for instance, Christopher Hill, Intellectual Origins of the Puritan Revolution (Oxford, 1965). I have expressed my criticisms of Mr. Hill’s argument in History and Theory,v, 1 (1966).
[2. ]A. J. P. Taylor, review of George Pryde, Local and Central Government in Scotland since 1707 (1960), in the New Statesman.
[3. ]E. Gibbon, Vindication . . . , in Miscellaneous Works (1814), i, 75.
[4. ]The Letters of Edward Gibbon, ed. J. E. Norton (Oxford, 1956), ii, 100.
[5. ]Voltaire, “Conseils à un journaliste sur la philosophie, l’histoire, le théâtre,” in Mélanges, ed. L. Moland, tome i, vol. xxii, 241; Essai sur les moeurs, ch. cxviii, cxxi.
[6. ]Essai sur les moeurs, ch. cxxi, clxxix, clxxxvii.
[7. ]Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XIV (1751), ch. xxxiv, xxxvi.
[8. ]Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J. B. Bury (1909), vi, 128, and vii, 296.
[9. ]F. Bacon, Advancement of Learning, in Works, ed. J. Spedding et al. (1857–74), iii, 476–77.
[10. ]Voltaire, Siècle de Louis XIV, ch. xxxiv.
[11. ]Francis Osborne, Advice to a Son , ed. E. A. Parry (1896), p. 112.
[12. ]For this first flicker of enlightenment in Cromwellian Scotland, see my essay, “Scotland and the Puritan Revolution,” below, pp. 359–406.
[13. ]Compare, for instance, the sour remarks of Robert Baillie on Moïse Amyraut, the Arminian successor of Cameron at Saumur, whose “fancies,” “vanity and pride” were “troubling” the Churches of France (Letters and journals of Robert Baillie (Edinburgh, 1841–42), ii, 324, 342, and iii, 311, etc.).
[14. ]P. Marchegay, Archives d’Anjou (Angers, 1843), p. 127.
[15. ]Annie Barnes, Jean Leclerc et la République des Lettres (Geneva, 1938), p. 46. Cf. Joseph Prost, La Philosophie à l’académie protestante de Saumur, 1606–1685 (Paris, 1907).
[16. ]Erich Haase, Einführung in die Literatur der Refuge (Berlin, 1959).
[17. ]See Gibbon’s letter to Lord Sheffield in The Letters of Edward Gibbon,iii, 58–59.
[18. ]The suppression and final victory of Arminianism in Geneva is well described in Miss Annie Barnes’ valuable work, Jean Leclerc et la République des Lettres. The Encyclopaedists’ references to the Socinianism of Geneva—which caused a great stir in the city—are in the article “Genève.” See also Francesco Ruffini, Studi sui riformatori italiani (Turin, 1955), pp. 444 ff.
[19. ]The struggle between Arminianism and Calvinism in Lausanne is traced in the noble work of Henri Vuilleumier, Histoire de l’Église réformée du Pays de Vaud sous le régime bernois (Lausanne, 1927–33), iii. See also Philippe Meylan, Jean Barbeyrac 1674–1744 (Lausanne, 1957). The Italian historian is Giuseppe Giarrizzo, Edward Gibbon e la cultura europea del settecento (Naples, 1954), pp. 29–34. Gibbon’s early essay is his preceptive “Lettre sur le gouvernement de Berne” (Miscellaneous Works,ii; edited also by Louis Junod in Université de Lausanne, Miscellanea Gibboniana, 1952, pp. 110–41). His remarks on de Crousaz are in his autobiography.
[20. ]For the civilizing effect of the Patronage Act, see the memorandum by the Rev. Alexander Carlyle quoted from the Carlyle MSS. in H. G. Graham, Scottish Men of Letters in the Eighteenth Century (1908), pp. 86–87. It was, of course, an anti-democratic Act. That does not prevent it from being liberal.
[21. ]P. Geyl, The Netherlands in the Seventeenth Century (1961), i, 45.
[22. ]See “Testimonia de Hugonis Grotii adfectu erga ecclesiam Anglicanam,” printed at the end of Leclerc’s edition of Grotius’ de Veritate Religionis Christianae. The diplomatic colleague was Lord Scudamore, English ambassador in Paris when Grotius was Swedish ambassador there: a strict Laudian who shocked even so good an Anglican as Clarendon by his refusal to communicate with the French Huguenots.
[23. ]See W. L. Mathieson, Politics and Religion. A Study in Scottish History from the Reformation to the Revolution (Glasgow, 1902).
[24. ]H. J. McLachlan, Socinianism in Seventeenth-century England (Oxford, 1951), p. 97. Cf. Bishop Goodman’s complaint to Laud that Laud had raised to the episcopate men like Howson, Montagu, Curll and Mainwaring and “some others whom you favoured and whom I suspected to be Socinians” (quoted in G. Soden, Godfrey Goodman, 1953, pp. 152–53). Sir Edward Peyton, in his Divine Catastrophe of the House of Stuart (1652), also accused the Laudian clergy of Socinianism.
[25. ]See, for instance, the attacks on John Maxwell, Bishop of Ross, Laud’s principal agent in Scotland, in Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex (1644), Preface. Rutherford accused Maxwell of “popery, socinianism, tyranny etc.”
[26. ]Stillingfleet was attacked as a Socinian by the Catholic convert Hugh Cressy (formerly Lord Falkland’s chaplain) in his pamphlet, S[erenus] C[ressy], Fanaticism Fanatically imputed to the Catholic Church by Dr. Stillingfleet (1672); Tillotson in Charles Leslie, The Charge of Socinianism against Dr. Tillotson considered (1695), etc.
[27. ]E.g., in John Owen, Vindiciae Academicae (1655).
[28. ]Anthony Wood, Life and Times, anno 1648, 1657, 1659; Athenae Oxonienses, ed. P. Bliss (1813–21), iv, 98.
[29. ]See below, pp. 387 ff. Owen declared his “long Christian acquaintance and friendship” with Gillespie in his preface to Gillespie’s posthumously published The Ark of the Covenant Opened (1667).
[30. ]See Stanislas Kot, Socinianism in Poland (Boston, 1957); A. Pirnát, Die Ideologie der Siebenbürger Antitrinitarier in den 1570-er Jahren (Budapest, 1961); F. Pall, “Über die sozialen und religiösen Auseinandersetzungen in Klausenburg (Cluj) in der zweiten Hälfte des 16ten Jahrhunderts und ihre polnisch-ungarischen Beziehungen,” in La Renaissance et la Réformation en Pologne et en Hongrie (Studia Historica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae,liii, Budapest, 1963), pp. 313–28.
[31. ]C.-P. Clasen, The Palatinate in European History 1559–1660 (Oxford, 1963), pp. 35–42.
[32. ]Thus in England Arminianism was first advanced by the French émigré Peter Baro, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, in 1595—fifteen years before Arminius published his theses in Holland. See H. C. Porter, Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge (Cambridge, 1958), ch. xvii.
[33. ]On this subject, see especially Richard H. Popkin, The History of Scepticism, from Erasmus to Descartes (Assen, Netherlands, 1964).
[34. ]Cf. Lucien Romier, Le Royaume de Catherine de Médicis (Paris, 1925), p. xxxii.
[35. ]Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,vii, 99.
[36. ]For Bérulle, whom Mr. Popkin describes (History of Scepticism, p. 178) as “perhaps the most important religious thinker of the Counter-Reformation in France,” see especially Jean Dagens, Bérulle et les origines de la restauration catholique (Bruges, 1950).
[37. ]For the Oratorians, see Haase, Einführung in die Literatur der Refuge, pp. 66, 379–80; for Richard Simon, Henri Margival, Essai sur Richard Simon et la critique biblique au XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1900); also Henri Hazard, La Crise de la conscience européenne 1650–1715 (Paris, 1935), pt. ii, ch. iii, iv.
[38. ]P. Giannone, Vita scritta da lui medesimo, ed. Sergio Bertelli (Milan, 1960), pp. 22–23, 36–41; [L. Panzini] Vita, in P. Giannone, Opere postume (“Italia” [i.e., London], 1821), pp. 149–50; Giuseppe Ricuperati, “Le Carte Torinesi di Pietro Giannone,” Memorie dell’ Accademia delle Scienze di Torino (Turin, 1962), pp. 23–27.
[39. ]For the Jesuit influence on Voltaire, see Réné Pomeau, La Religion de Voltaire (Paris, 1956).
[40. ]In his Memoirs of my Life and Writings Gibbon declares his debts to his intellectual predecessors. It is interesting to observe how many of the writers who influenced him—like Bayle and Leclerc, Jacques Basnage, Isaac de Beausobre, Jean Barbeyrac, Jean-Pierre de Crousaz—were exiled Huguenots.
[41. ]For some sidelights on these Jacobite and Catholic influences, see MacEwen, Antoinette Bourignon, Quietist (1910); G. D. Henderson, Mystics of the North East (Aberdeen, Spalding Club, 1934) and Chevalier Ramsay (1952); Franco Venturi, Le origini dell’ Enciclopedia (Milan, 1962), pp. 16–26; and, for Innes, Registrum de Panmure, ed. John Stuart (Edinburgh, 1874).
[42. ]I have not concerned myself with Lutheranism in this essay, but I believe that the same general point could be made in respect of it, viz.: that it was “heretical” Pietism, not orthodox Lutheranism, which opened the way to the Enlightenment in Germany. The rigid structure of clerical Aristoteleanism was undermined and destroyed by the Pietists Spener and Thomasius; the Pietists were attacked by the orthodox as Pelagians (i.e., Arminians), Papists and Socinians; and the great Pietist defence of heresy, Gottfried Arnold’s Unparteyisiche Kirche- und Ketzerhistorie, afterwards inspired the greatest figure of the German Enlightenment, Goethe. The Pietists, like the Arminians and the Socinians, looked back behind the (Lutheran) orthodoxy of the state Church to Valentin Weigel and Sebastian Franck and, through them, to Erasmus, the neo-Platonists and the Rhenish mystics; cf. A. Koyré, Mystiques, spirituels, alchimistes (Paris, 1955).
[43. ]See Boris Ulianov, “Sarpiana: la Lettera del Sarpi allo Heinsius,” in Rivista Storica Italiana, 1956.