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pursued by Martianus, and, in his turn, inspiring Cassiodorus, INTROwho, in his monastic solitude, feebly retraced the outlines of learning marked out by his more brilliant compeer; while in Isidorus, the grandson of Theodoric the Great, we seem to recognise the transmitted influence of both these illustrious ministers of the most enlightened of the Gothic conquerors. With the name of Isidorus again, is associated, though in no true connexion, one of the most important movements of the Middle Ages, the next prominent feature that arrests our attention in pursuing our enquiry'..

Amid the numerous legends, pretended miracles, and other inventions, which, as Christianity became corrupt, hid the simplicity of the faith from view, it is undeniable that a spirit of unveracity grew up, that, combining with the superstition of the age, became a prolific source of imposture; and in the ninth century we are presented with a notable exemplification of this tendency, in an effort at investing the dicta of Rome with the appearance of greater completeness and continuity, which, commencing in deliberate fraud, ultimately expanded into one of the most gigantic literary forgeries that the world has seen. Among the numerous writings of Isidorus was one, De Officiis Ecclesiasticis, where- Isidorus, in he had collected the decisions of the Church on numerous Ecclesiasticis, points relating to discipline, ceremonies, and the limitations of the authority attaching to the different sacred offices. The work enjoyed a deserved reputation, and must still be regarded as of high value by all who seek to form an accurate estimate of the sanction afforded by the antiquities of the Church for the observances of the Romish ritual. In one respect however this treatise failed to satisfy the minds of a later generation, for it contained little that could be quoted in favour of the exclusive pretensions of the Romish see; and, more especially, the chain of continuity, the unbroken tradition from the time of St. Peter, could not be traced in

De Officiis

1 'Quant au programme des études, il n'a pas varié d'une syllabe avant le xiie siècle, il est resté tel qu'il avait été tracé pour les écoles des

premiers siècles du moyen age par
Boëce, Martianus Capella, Cassiodore
et Isidore de Séville.' Léon Maitre,
Les Écoles Episcopales, etc. p. 300.

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discovery of

INTRO its pages; for between Clemens, the first bishop, and Siricius, who died at the close of the fourth century, the decrees of the bishops of Rome were altogether wanting. But suddenly the missing Decretals were forthcoming. An unknown Pretended individual, who styled himself Mercator, brought forward Mercator. what purported to be a completion of the work of Isidorus, inasmuch as it supplied what was necessary to constitute that work an entire collection of the decrees of Rome from the earliest times. No traces of these documents were discoverable in the Roman archives, but they were nevertheless accepted as genuine by Nicholas, and also by Hincmar, the eminent archbishop of Rheims. It so happened that at the time when this pretended discovery took place, Rothrad, bishop of Soissons, had appealed to Nicholas against his deposition from his see by his metropolitan, Hincmar. It was however doubtful whether he was justified in such a step, and Hincmar loudly affirmed that no such right of Decision in appeal existed. It was now found that, among the newly


between Hincmar

and Rothrad.

favour of

Rome founded on

the False


discovered Decretals, was one that established the supremacy of Rome over all other metropolitans; Rothrad was reinstated in his episcopal chair by Nicholas; and Hincmar was compelled reluctantly to bow to the authority he had so incautiously admitted. When too late, he endeavoured indeed to call the genuineness of that authority in question, but in so doing he only incurred the inevitable imputation of having thus acted merely from a selfish regard to his personal interest and aggrandisement. From the recognition of these Decretals the Papacy dates an important advance in legislative power, and the attainment of a position from which it never afterwards receded'. It was not until three

1 The False Decretals do not merely assert the supremacy of the Popes-the dignity and privileges of the Bishop of Rome. They comprehend the whole dogmatic system and discipline of the Church, the whole hierarchy from the highest to the lowest degree, their sanctity and immunities, their persecutions, their disputes, their right of appeal to Rome. They are full and minute on

Church property, on its usurpation and spoliation; on ordinations; on the sacraments, on baptism, confirmation, marriage, the Eucharist; on fasts and festivals; the discovery of the cross, the discovery of the reliques of the Apostles; on the chrism, holy water, consecration of churches, blessing of the fruits of the field; on the sacred vessels and habiliments. Personal incidents are not wanting




eenturies later, in the year 1151, that Gratian, a monk of INTRO Bologna, published a new Decretum or Concordia Discordantium Canonum, wherein he incorporated the collection His Decreby the Pseudo-Isidorus with numerous alterations and additions. Respecting the amount of actual fraud contained in these labours, some difference of opinion has prevailed. It has even been pointed out, that Gratian, by the insertion of decisions unfavorable to the pretensions of the Romish see, has sufficiently proved the honesty of his motives; but it is certain that the scope of the entire work was largely to augment the privileges and authority of the Papacy'. It seems difficult moreover to understand, how many of the canons could ever have been regarded as other than apocryphal for, in the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII deemed it expedient to expunge those parts which, however they might charitably have been supposed to have deceived

to give life and reality to the fiction. The whole is composed with an air of profound piety and reverence; a specious purity and occasional beauty in the moral and religious tone. There are many axioms of seemingly sincere and vital religion. But for the too manifest design, the aggrandisement of the See of Rome and the aggrandisement of the whole clergy in subordination to the See of Rome; but for the monstrous ignorance of history, which betrays itself in glaring anachronisms, and in the utter confusion of the order of events and the lives of distinguished men-the former awakening keen and jealous suspicion, the latter making the detection of the spuriousness of the whole easy, clear, irrefragable,- the False Decretals might still have maintained their place in ecclesiastical history. They are now given up by all; not a voice is raised in their favour; the utmost that is done by those who cannot suppress all regret at their explosion, is to palliate the guilt of the forger, to call in question or to weaken the influence which they had in their own day, and throughout the later history of Christianity.' Milman, Hist. Latin Christianity, 192. A writer of a dif

ferent school observes, The great
difference between the use which
Hinemar makes of these decretals
and the advantage to which they are
turned by Nicholas is that the latter
builds entirely upon them doctrines
hitherto unknown, and which could
be supported by no other proof,
whereas the archbishop of Rheims
quotes them only as furnishing an
additional evidence to truths already
granted, and even without them easily
established or defended. In the
latter case their genuineness could
be of little importance, nor was it
necessarily incumbent on the writer
who thus used them to have satisfied
himself without any doubt on this
point. But when employed for such
a purpose as that for which they are
advanced by Pope Nicholas, any defi-
ciency in the fullest proof that they
were both genuine and of authority,
subjects the author to a graver charge
than even that of the most culpable
negligence.' Life and Times of Hinc-
mar, by the late Rev. James C. Prich-
ard, M.A., p. 330.

1 In one passage Gratian even goes so far as to assert that the Pope is not bound by the canons of his predecessors. See Fleury, Troisième Discours sur l'Histoire Ecclesiastique.


the original compiler, could not sustain the scrutiny of a more critical age.

The Decretum, as it passed from the hands of Gratian, consisted of three parts: the first being devoted to general law, and containing the canons of Councils, decrees of the Popes, and opinions of the Fathers; the second comprising ecclesiastical judgements on all matters of morality and social life; the third containing instruction with reference to the rites and ceremonies of the Church. The Decretum was received throughout Europe with unquestioning submission; Pope Eugenius III marked his sense of its merits by raising Gratian to the bishopric of Chiusi; and Dante, a century later, assigned to the monk of Bologna a place in the celestial hierarchy, along with Albertus, Aquinas, and the other great doctors of the Church'. Such was the work the study of which known as that of the Canon Law, formed so important a part of the training of students at the English universities prior to the Reformation; which still survives in both Protestant and Catholic Germany; and continues to demand the attention of all those who seek to grasp intelligently the history and literature of the Middle Ages. Other additions have been made to the Decretum since the time of Gratian, but it is to his labours and those of his predecessor that are undoubtedly to be referred the most unjustifiable pretensions and accordingly the greatest misfortunes of the Romish Church 2. It was on the foundation of the canon law that those claims to temporal power were built up, which gave rise to the De Potestate of Occam, to the De Dominio Divino of Wyclif, and to the English Reformation.

Somewhat earlier in the same century that saw the

Revival of study of the

Ronian or completion of Gratian's labours, Irnerius began to lecture at

Civil Law.

Bologna on the Civil Law. From the time of the disruption of the Roman empire, the codes of Theodosius and Justinian would appear to have survived as the recognised law of the

1 Paradiso, Bk. x 113.

2 See a Lecture by R. G. Phillimore
On the Influence of Ecclesiastical
Law on European Legislation;' also
Butler's Hora Juridice Subseciva,

p. 3; the latter writer, though a staunch Catholic, admits and deplores the effects of the excessive pretensions of the Decretals on behalf of the Papal power.

tures at


tribunals that existed under the Gothic, the Lombard, and the Carlovingian dynasties; but the knowledge of them was very imperfect, and indeed almost valueless, save as representative of a great tradition and marking the path that led to a more systematised and comprehensive theory'. The school founded by Irnerius marks the commencement of an improved order of things. The states of Lombardy were, at this time, advancing with rapid strides in populousness and wealth, and their increasing commerce and manufactures demanded a more definite application of the admirable code they had inherited. Irnerius accordingly not only expounded Irnerius lecthe Roman code in lectures, but introduced, for the first Bologna circ. time, the plan of annotating it with brief explanations of terms or sentences, these annotations being known under the name of glosses. His example was followed in the next century by Accursius of Florence, whose labours may be Accursius. regarded as constituting an era in the history of jurisprudence. The precise value of the service rendered by these glossers has been the subject of some dispute; it is not denied that they promoted a more careful and intelligent interpretation of the code, but some have regarded it as a serious evil that their labours almost superseded the study of the text. The construction placed by an eminent glossist upon an obscure or doubtful passage became itself the law, and to master and digest the various interpretations a separate and important study.

of the study

It was now however that jurisprudence began again to Rapid spread assume its true dignity as a science and a profession. The of the Civil fame of the new learning spread rapidly through Europe, and the disciples of Irnerius diffused his teachings in Spain, France, and Germany. In its progress however the science lacked the all powerful aid that had attended the canon law, and it is remarkable that a study which was before long to become the special field of ambition to the ecclesiastic,

1 - aber diese Kenntnisz und Anwendung desselben sehr dürftig waren, und nur als Uebergang zu einer besseren Zeit Werth haben konnten.' Savigny, Geschichte des Römischen


Rechts, c. XVIII. sec. 32. See the
whole of the same chapter, entitled
Wiederherstellung der Rechtswissen-


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