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“The Latins are proud; the Greeks are obstinate; “neither party will recede or retract; and the at“ tempt of a perfect union will confirm the schism, “alienate the churches, and leave us, without hope “ or defence, at the mercy of the barbarians.” Impatient of this salutary lesson, the royal youth arose from his seat, and departed in silence; and the wise monarch, (continues Phranza), casting his eyes on me, thus resumed his discourse: “My “son deems himself a great and heroic prince; “but, alas! our miserable age does not afford “scope for heroism or greatness. His daring spi“rit might have suited the happier times of our “ancestors; but the present state requires not an
“Emperor, but a cautious steward of the last re
“lics of our fortunes. Well do I remember the “ lofty expectations which he built on our alliance “with Mustapha; and much do I fear, that his “rash courage will urge the ruin of our house, and “ that even religion may precipitate our downfall.” Yet the inexperience and authority of Manuel preserved the peace, and eluded the council; till, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, and in the habit of a monk, he terminated his career, dividing his precious moveables among his children and the poor, his physicians, and his favourite servants. Of his six sons *, Andronicus the Second was invested with the principality of Thessalonica, and died of a leprosy soon after the sale of that city to
the Venetians, and its final conquest by the Turks.
Some fortunate incidents had restored Peloponne-
* See Ducange, Fam. Byzant, p. 243—248.
sus, or the Morea, to the empire; and in his more
life of dependence in the Byzantine palace.
- * * The exact measure of the Hexamilion, from sea to sea,
was 38co orgygiae, or toires, of six Greek feet, (Phranzes, l. i. c. 38.), which would produce a Greek mile, still smaller than that of 662 French toires, which is assigned by d'Anville as still in use in Turkey. Five miles are commonly reckoned for the breadth of the Isthmus. See the Travels of Spon, Wheeler, and Chandler.
+ The first objection of the Jews, is on the death of Christ : if it were voluntary, Christ was a suicide; which the Emperor parties with a mystery. They then dispute on the conception of the Virgin, the sense of the prophecies, &c. (Phranzes, l. ii. c. 12. a whole chapter).
Christian faith; and this momentous conquest is carefully recorded in the history of the times. But he soon resumed the design of uniting the East and West; and, regardless of his father's advice, listened, as it should seem, with sincerity, to the proposal of meeting the Pope in a general council beyond the Adriatic. This dangerous project was encouraged by Martin the Fifth, and coldly entertained by his successor Eugenius, till, after a tedious negociation, the Emperor received a summons from a Latin assembly of a new character, the independent prelates of Basil, who styled themselves the Representatives and Judges of the Catholic church. The Roman Pontiff had fought and conquered in the cause of ecclesiastical freedom ; but the victorious clergy were soon exposed to the tyranny of their deliverer; and his sacred character was invulnerable to those arms which they found so keen and effectual against the civil magistrate. Their great charter, the right of election, was annihilated by appeals, evaded by trusts or commendams, disappointed by reversionary grants, and superseded by previous and arbitrary reservations *. A public auction was instituted in the court of Rome: the cardinals and favourites were enriched with the spoils of nations; and every country might complain that the most important and valuable benefices were accumulated on the heads
* In the treatise delle Materie Beneficiare of Fra-Paolo, (in the 4th volume of the last and best edition of his works), the Papal system is deeply studied, and freely described. Should Rome and her religion be annihilated, this golden volume may still survive, a philosophical history, and a salutary warning.
heads of aliens and absentees. During their residence at Avignon, the ambition of the Popes subsided in the meaner passions of avarice" and luxury: they rigorously imposed on the clergy the tributes of first-fruits and tenths; but they freely tolerated the impunity of vice, disorder, and corruption. These manifold scandals were aggravated by the great schism of the West, which continued above fifty years. In the furious conflicts of Rome and Avignon, the vices of the rivals were mutually exposed; and their precarious situation degraded their authority, relaxed their discipline, and multiplied their wants and exactions. To heal the wounds, and restore the monarchy, of the church, the synods of Pisa and Constance f were successively convened; but these great assemblies, conscious of their strength, resolved to vindicate the privileges of the Christian aristocracy. From a personal sentence against two Pontiffs, whom they rejected, and a third, their acknowledged Sovereign, whom they deposed, the fathers of Constance proceeded to examine the nature and limits of the Roman supremacy; nor did they separate till they * Pope John XXII. (in 1334) left behind him, at Avignon, eighteen millions of gold florins, and the value of seven millions more in plate and jewels. See the Chronicle of John Villani, (l. xi. c. 2d. in Muratori's Collection, tom. xiii. p. 765.), whose brother reseived the account from the Papal
treasurers. A treasure of six or eight millions Sterling in the 14th century is enormous, and almost incredible.
+ A learned and liberal Protestant, M. l'Enfant, has given a fair history of the councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basil, in six volumes in quarto : but the last part is the most hasty and imperfect, except in the account of the troubles of Bohemia,
they had established the authority, above the Pope, of a general council. It was enacted, that, for the government and reformation of the church, such assemblies should be held at regular intervals; and that each synod, before its dissolution, should appoint the time and place of the subsequent meeting. By the influence of the court of Rome, the next convocation at Sienna was easily eluded; but the bold and vigorous proceedings of the council of Basil", had almost been fatal to the reigning Pontiff, Eugenius the Fourth. A just suspicion of his design prompted the fathers to hasten the promulgation of their first decree, that the representatives of the church-militant on earth were invested with a divine and spiritual jurisdiction over all Christians, without excepting the Pope; and that a general council could not be dissolved, prorogued, or transferred, unless by their free deliberation and consent. On the notice that Eugenius had fulminated a bull for that purpose, they ventured to summon, to admonish, to threaten, to censure, the contumacious successor of St Peter. After many delays, to allow time for repentance, they finally declared, that, unless he submitted within the term of sixty days, he was suspended from the exercise of all temporal and ecclesiastical authority.
* The original acts or minutes of the council of Basil, are preserved in the public library, in twelve volumes in folio. Basil was a free city, conveniently situate on the Rhine, and guarded by the arms of the neighbouring and confederate Swiss. In 1459, the university was founded by Pope Pius II. (As neas Sylvius), who had been secretary to the council. But what
is a council, or, an university, to the presses of Froben and th: studies of Erasmus 2