Page images

thought his courage was utterly extinguished, and his soul overwhelmed by despondence, Henry found means to escape from custody and reached Cologne, where he was recognized as lawful emperor. Repairing next to the Netherlands, he found friends who raised a considerable body of men to assert his claims, and facilitate his restoration; he also issued circular letters, calling upon the princes of Christendom to interest themselves in his cause. He even wrote to the pope, intimating that he was inclined to an accommodation, provided it could be settled without prejudice to his cause. But before any thing material could be executed in his favour, Henry died at Leige (Aug. 7. 1106) in the fifty-sixth year of his age and the forty-ninth of his reign. He was a prince of great courage and excellent endowments both of body and mind. In his appearance there was an air of dignity which spoke the greatness of his soul. He possessed a natural fund of eloquence and vivacity, his temper was placid and merciful, his kindness and benevolence extensive, and his life exhibited an admirable pattern of fortitude and resignation.*


Sketch of the state of the Christian profession from the

death of Claude of Turin to the times of Peter Waldo.

A. D.843-1160.

DURING the dark ages which succeeded the invasion of Europe by the barbarous nations, when feudal anarchy distracted the civil governments, and a flood of super

• Russel's Modern Europe, vol. i. part i. letter 23. and the authors there quoted on this subject.

stition had deluged the church, Christianity, banished from the seats of empire, and loathing the monkish abodes of indolence and vice, meekly retired into the sequestered vallies of Piedmont. Finding there a race of men unarrayed in hostile armour, uncontaminated by the doctrines and commandments of an apostate church, unambitious in their temper, and simple in their manners, she prefered their society, and among them took up her abode. The turbulence of the times, which drave many from the more fertile plains of France and Italy, in search of freedom and tranquillity, greatly augmented the population of this remote district; and, in the ninth century, the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven had been held forth among them with considerable clearness and ability by Claude, bishop of Turin.*

Remote from the influence of noisy parties, and little conversant with literature, we can scarcely expect any notice of them, until their increase and prosperity excited the attention of ambition and avarice, and occasioned it to be rumoured in the neighbouring ecclesiastical states, that a numerous people occupied the southern vallies of the Alps, whose faith and practice differed from those of the Romish church; who paid no tithes, offered no mass, worshipped no saints, nor had recourse to any of the prescribed means for redeeming their souls from purgatory.

The archbishops of Turin, Milan, and other cities, heard this report with anxiety, and the necessary measures were accordingly adopted for ascertaining its truth or falsehood; the former turning out to be the result, and finding that these people were not to be controlled by the authority and denunciations of the church of Rome, the

See chap. iv. sect. i. p. 457-468. and L'Hist. Generale des Eglises Vaud. par. Giles Juao Leger, ch. 20, 21, 22, 28. Raukin's Hist. France, vol. iii. VOL. I.

3 R

aid of the civil power was demanded. The princes and nobles of the adjacent countries at first refused to disturb them; they had beheld with pleasure their simple manners, their uprightness and integrity, their readiness to oblige, and their fidelity in the discharge of all the duties of civil and social life. The clamour of the Romish clergy, however, ultimately prevailed, and the civil power was armed against the peaceable and inoffensive inhabitants of the vallies. Scaffolds were erected and fires kindled at Turin and other cities around them. The fortitude and confidence of the martyrs, however, increased as their faith and constancy were tried. “Favor, me," said Catalan Girard, who was one of their number, as he sat upon the funeral pile at Reuel-"favor me with those two flint stones,” which he saw near him. Being handed to him, he added, as he threw them to the ground, “Sooner shall I eat these stones, than you shall be able by persecution to destroy the religion for which I die."*

Multitudes, however, fled like innocent and defenceless sheep from these devouring wolves. They crossed the Alps; and travelled in every direction as Providence and the prospect of safety conducted them, into Germany, England, France, Italy, and other countries. There they trimmed their lamps and shone with new lustre. Their worth everywhere drew attention, and their doctrine formed increasing circles around them. The storm which threatened their destruction, only scattered them as the precious seeds of the future glorious reformation of the Christian church.t In the present section, we shall endeavour to mark their dispersions into different countries, and the treatment they met with during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, prior to the appearance of Peter Waldo of Lyons. Our materials of information are scanty, and even those we must be content to receive chiefly from their implacable enemies; but by a little patient research, and the aid of a discriminating judgment in selecting the probable from the fictitious, we shail be furnished with some interesting information relative to this obscure portion of their history.

* Perrin's History of the Vaudois, part ii. b. ii. ch. 4. + Dr. Rankin's History of France, vol. iii. p. 193—198.

But before we proceed, it may be proper to remark, that about the middle of the eleventh century, and during the pontificate of Pope Leo IX. (A. D. 1050) rose up BERENGARIUS, a person of great learning and talents, who denied the doctrine of the real presence, as it was then commonly termed; and by writing against it, called forth all the learned of the church of Rome to defend the doctrine of transubstantiation. Berengarius was a native of France, educated under Fulbert, bishop of Chartras, a very learned man; and taking orders in the church, became deacon of St. Maurice, and ultimately archbishop of Angers, in the province of Anjou. He was also principal of the academy of Tours. The prevalent sentiment of his day relative to the eucharist was, that the bread was the identical body, and the wine the very blood of Christ-not only figuratively, but substantially and properly. Berengarius, on the contrary, insisted that the body of Christ is only in the heavens; and that the elements of bread and wine are merely the symbols of his body and blood. Several of the bishops wrote against him, most bitterly complaining of his heresy; but not feeling the force of their arguments, Berengarius remained unmoved; and defended his opinions with the utmost pertinacity. He wrote a letter on the subject to Lanfrank, who was at that time at the head of the convent of St. Stephens at Caen in Normandy, and called from thence by William the Conqueror to be Archbishop of Canterbury, which being opened while the latter was

from home, was officiously transmitted by the convent to Pope Leo. The Pontiff, shocked at its heretical contents, summoned a council at Vercelli, at which Berengarius was commanded to be present. His friends, however, advised him against going, and he consequently sent two persons to attend the council, and answer in his behalf. Lanfrank also was present and pleaded for Berengarius, but the latter was condemned, the two persons who appeared for him imprisoned, and Lanfrank commanded by the Pope to draw up a refutation of the heresy of Berengarius on pain of being himself reputed a heretic; with which injunction he thought it prudent to comply. This example was followed also by the council of Paris, summoned the very same year by Henry I. in which Berengarius and his numerous adherents, were threatened with all sorts of evils both spiritual and temporal-evils which were in part executed against the heretical prelate, for the monarch deprived him of all his revenues. But neither threatenings nor fines, nor the

. decrees of Synods, could shake the firmness of his mind, or oblige him to retract his sentiments. In the mean while, the opinions of Berengarius were every where spreading rapidly, insomuch that if we may credit cotemporary writers, “his doctrine had corrupted all the English, Italian, and French nations." Thuanus adds, that “ in Germany were many of the same doctrine, and that Bruno, bishop of Treves, banished them all out of his diocese, sparing only their blood.” During the remainder of the life of Leo IX. Berengarius and his friends enjoyed a temporary respite, but no sooner had Victor II. succeeded to the pontifical chair, than the flame of religious discord was rekindled, and a council was assembled at Tours, in 1055, to examine anew the doctrine of Berengarius. At this council the famous Hildebrand, who was afterwards created Pope Gregory

« PreviousContinue »