« PreviousContinue »
CAMBRIDGE PRIOR TO THE CLASSICAL ERA.
PART II-THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.
CHAP. III. It was on the sixteenth of September, 1401, that Thomas PART II. Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, arrived in 'a stately Visitation of equipage' at Cambridge, upon his visitation as metropolitan. Arundel at The chancellor, doctors, and masters, whom he had already cited, appeared before him the following day in the Congregation House, and rendered their canonical obedience. Commissioners were appointed by the archbishop, who visited Trinity Hall, Clare, Gonville, Michaelhouse, Peterhouse, Pembroke, St. John's Hospital, St. Rhadegund's Nunnery, and the House of the White Canons', and on the nineteenth his grace departed for Ely. Before his departure, however, he had privately put to the chancellor and the doctors, successively and individually, ten questions, having reference to the disHe aims at cipline and general state of the university. Among them was
one which, at that juncture, possessed no ordinary signifi
1 King's Hall and Corpus Christi do not appear to have been visited. Cooper observes that the master of the latter college, Richard Billingford, was chancellor of the university at the time. Annals, 1 147. 'As for hostels, the wonder is not so great, why those commissioners stooped not down to visit them. First, because dependent hostels were, no doubt, visited in and under those
colleges to which they did relate. Absolute hostels, who stood by themselves, being all of them unendowed, by consequence had no considerable statutes, the breach whereof was the proper subject of this visitation. Besides, the graduates therein may be presumed for their personal demeanours visited in the collective body of the university.' Fuller, Hist. of the Univ.
cance;-' were there any,' the archbishop asked, 'suspected of CHAP. III. Lollardism?' The ashes of Wyclif had not yet been cast into PART II. the Swift, and his memory was still cherished at Oxford, but the preceding year had seen the appearance of the writ De Hæretico Comburendo, and, but a few months before, the first victim of that enactment, William Sautree, had perished at the stake. Such an inquiry, therefore, from a man of Arundel's determined character and known views', could scarcely fail to strike ominous forebodings into the minds of those students who favoured the doctrines of the great reformer". The number of these at both the English universities was already far from contemptible; and the intimate connexion of Lollardism with the whole question of university studies, as it presented itself to the theologian and the canonist at this period, will here demand some consideration, as affording one of the main clues to the ecclesiastical and intellectual movements of a somewhat obscure century.
originally William of
power of the Pope one of importance.
In our brief notice of the career of William of Occam, we The question were occupied mainly with his metaphysical theory and his raised by influence in the schools, but his opinions with respect to the Occam with political power of the pope form a not less important element the political in the thought of the fourteenth century. We have already fundamental adverted to the fact that the most indefensible pretensions of Rome were undoubtedly those which were founded upon the successive forgeries and impostures which make up so large a portion of the canon law. Her temporal supremacy, in the days of Occam and Wyclif, pointed for its theoretical justification to the cunningly fabricated system, known in the barbarous diction of that age as the Digestum Novum, Infortiatum, and Vetus, the massive tomes that, with the labours of the commentators, form so prominent a feature in our most
1 'It never seems to have occurred to Arundel's mind, that opposition could be met by anything short of phy. sical force or direct legislation. He was himself no scholar-he was only a bachelor of arts; and he was spoken of at Oxford in terms similar to those which would be employed in the present day, if a clerk were nominated to an episcopal see who had
never graduated at either of the
2 Ten years later when Arundel visited Oxford for a like purpose, he was met by the most determined opposition, and a direct denial of his powers of visitation. See the amusing account in Wood-Gutch, 1 455-458.
CHAP. III. ancient college libraries. From these sources were drawn all PART II. those subtleties which, from the days of Hincmar to those of Boniface VIII, gave the Church such formidable advantages in her struggles with the secular power, and it was against the broad principle implied in the whole system that Occam raised the standard of insurgency when, in his De Potestate, he propounded as an open question for discussion, the query, -Can the spiritual and lay power dwell in the same person? It is evident that inasmuch as the assumed affirmative formed the basis of the Romish polity at the period, the mere mooting of such enquiry called in question what had hitherto been an article of faith, the infallibility of the papal decrees, and thus again opened up a way to still wider and more important discussions. It was of course impossible that a code, pronounced by the pope to be the binding law of Christendom,, could be challenged, without involving the far wider question of belief in theological dogma: and when a Franciscan schoolman was to be found asking, 'Whether the pope could be a hererelevancy of tic? he was manifestly calling in question the whole theory
concerning of allegiance to spiritual authority. Nor is it difficult to see the relevancy of such discussion to the contending theories of academic education. If the canon and the civil law were to be the standard to which, in those unquiet times, all disputes concerning public and private rights were to be referred, the importance of those two codes could scarcely be exaggerated; but if the authority of either one or the other could be disputed, the value of both, from their intimate connexion at that time, would suffer serious diminution. If again, all theology, on the other hand, was to terminate in an implicit acceptance and promulgation of already established dogna,— to be no longer regarded as a progressive science, and to be reduced to a merely traditional interpretation of doctrine,it must at once sink into secondary importance, for it lacked almost entirely that objective value which imparted so much significance to the civil and the canon law. It was in opposition to any such conception of the theologian's province, that William of Occam and his brother Franciscan, Marsilio of Padua, waged war in the interest of the schoolmen. against the canonists of Avignon.
Pope to the
study of the canon law.
power of the
Pope, a fol
As we have already seen. the application of his own me- CHAP. III. thod to specific dogmas, was not made by William of Occam; nor was it made by Wyclif, who may fairly be regarded as the John Wyclif. representative of Occam in his assertion of the right of pri- it in vate judgement against priestly authority. Some writers, the temporal indeed, have spoken of Wyclif, as in all respects a thinker of the same school as his predecessor. 'He was,' says James, the learned librarian of the Bodleian, a professed follower of heroin Occam';' such a statement however can be accepted only with an important reservation; in matters of ecclesiastical polity and religious belief Wyclif undoubtedly adopted and developed the theories of Occam, but in the schools of Oxford he was known as a leader of the opposing party, being an upholder of the theories of the Realists. While, again, Occam was the His relation champion of the Franciscans, Wyclif was their most formidable Mendicants. opponent; and while the former defended the solicitation of alms, the latter instituted his 'simple priests,' to be an example to the world of evangelism without mendicity. The position of Wyclif in relation to the Mendicants will be best understood by the light of the more important passages in their career at the English universities in the fourteenth century, a period wherein the corruption and demoralization of these orders proceeded with ominous rapidity. The salt had lost its savour; and influences, which had once represented an energising impulse in the direction of a higher culture, had degenerated into a mischievous and disturbing element, productive only of strife and animosity, and seriously detrimental to the pursuit of true learning.
With the latter part of the century this evil had reached Tendencies of a climax. The resistance that the English Franciscans had Franciscans.
1 Life of Wickliffe, appended to Two short Treatises against the orders of the Begging Friars: Oxford, 1608. 2 The immense services which our great countryman, William of Occam, had just rendered to science, could hardly have been unknown to, but they do not seem to have been appreciated by, Wyelif.' Mr. Thomas Arnold, Theolog. Rev. Apr. 1870. See however the passage quoted by Prof. Shirley (Pref. to Fasciculi
Zizaniorum, pp. lii and liii) from the
at the universities.
CHAP. III. offered to Boniface VIII, though it wore perhaps at the time an air of patriotism, was in reality actuated by little besides a keen sense that their own interests were at stake. The struggle with John XXII was also at an end. Their differences with Rome had been composed, and they had betaken themselves with undiminished energy to the task of pillaging the laity. Policy of the In the universities their activity assumed a less sordid though not a less harmful character, and Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge were each in turn distracted by their assertion of indefensible rights and of equally indefensible immunities. Neither the ambition nor the interests of the two orders would permit them to forego the great centres of education and progressive thought; while their vows and their aims were incompatible with the obligations involved in the oaths administered by the universities. It was their object accordingly to create an imperium in imperio, and, while availing themselves of those centres as fields of propagandism, they were really intent on the creation of a rival if not of a hostile authority. The battle of the Mendicants,' says Huber, 'was fought simultaneously in all the universities of Christendom.' It began however at Paris long before it assumed any considerable proportions at either Oxford or Cambridge. In the thirteenth century the Dominicans, supported by pope Alexander IV, had, after a protracted struggle, been admitted to a participation in the scholastic acts and privileges of the former university, and, though excluded from all share in the government, their admission had led to important changes, among others the separation of the faculty of theology from the faculty of arts. The annals of our English universities equally attest the jealousy of the academic authorities and the pertinacious intrusion of the friars. We have already adverted to the stringent provisions passed at Oxford to check the widespread evil of proselytism. In the year 1311 the Mendicants appealed to Rome against some of the provisions enacted for the limitation of their independence, and in the year 1314 a formal decision was pronounced by a Commission jointly composed of representatives of the university and of the four orders. The verdict was a severe blow to the latter,
cans at l'aris
Defeat sustained by the mendicant orders at Oxford.