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THE COUNCIL OF BASLE. 401.
he affirmed, would be blasphemy against God and an insult to the pope. He was therefore bent on the prorogation of the council, and spared no means to accomplish his purpose. Its ostensible object was the reformation of the clergy; its real intent was to convert the papal autocracy into a constitutional monarchy. To this end it cited the pope, and, on his non-appearance, declared him and seventeen of the cardinals in contumacy. He had denounced it as the Synagogue of Satan; on its part, it was assuming the functions of the Senate of Christendom. It had prepared a great seal, and asserted that, in case of the death of the pope, the election of his successor was vested in it. It was its firm purpose never again to leave that great event in the hands of a conclave of intriguing Italian cardinals, but to intrust it to the representatives of united Christendom. After a due delay since he was declared in contumacy, the council suspended the pope, and, slowly moving toward its object, elected Amadeus of Savoy, Felix V., his successor. It was necessary that its pope should be a rich man, for the council had but slender means of offering him pecuniary support. Amadeus had that qualification. And perhaps it was far from being, in the eyes of many, an inopportune circumstance that he had been married and had children. We may discern, through the shifting scenes of the intrigues of the times, that the German hierarchy had come to the resolution that the election of the pope should be taken from the Italians and given to Europe; that his power should be restricted; that he should no longer be the irresponsible vicar of God upon earth, but the accountable chief executive officer of Christendom; and that the right of marriage should be conceded to the clergy. These are significantly. Teutonic ideas. We have pursued the story of these events nearly as far as is necessary for the purpose of this book. We shall not, therefore, follow the details of the new schism. It fell almost without interest on Europe. AEneas Sylvius, the ablest man of the day, in three words gives us the true insight into the state of things: ” Faith is dead.” On the demise of Eugenius IV., Nicolas V. succeeded. An understanding was had with those in the interest of the council. It was dissolved. Felix V. abdicated. The morality of the times had improved. The antipope was neither blinded nor murdered. The schism was at an end. Thus we have seen that the personal immoralities and heresy of the popes brought on the interference of the King of France, who not only shook the papal system to its basis, but destroyed its prestige by inflicting the most conspicuous indignity upon it. For seventy years Rome was disfranchised, and the rivalries of France and Italy produced the great schism, than which nothing could be more prejudicial to the papal power. We have seen that, aided by the pecuniary difficulties of the papacy, the rising intellect of Europe made good its.
402 THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST.
influence, and absolutely deposed the pope. It was in vain to deny the authenticity of such a council; there stood the accomplished fact. At this moment there seemed no other prospect for the Italian system than utter ruin; yet, wonderful to be said, a momentary deliverance came from a quarter whence no man would have expected. The Turks were the saviors of the papacy. At this point is the true end of the Italian system-that system which had pressed upon Europe like a nightmare. The great men of the times -the statesmen, the philosophers, the merchants, the lawyers, the governing classes-they whose weight of opinion is recognized by the uneducated people at last, had shaken off the incubus and opened their eyes. A glimmering of the true state of things was breaking upon the clergy. No more with the vigor it once had possessed was the papacy again to domineer over human thought and be the controlling agent of European affairs. Convulsive struggles it might make, but they were only death-throes. The sovereign pontiff must now descend from the autocracy he had for so many ages possessed, and become a small potentate, tolerated by kings in that subordinate position only because of the remnant of his influence on the uneducated multitude and those of feeble minds.
CHAPTER XVIII. THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST-(Concluded). EFFECT OF THE EASTERN OR MILITARY ATTACK.-GENERAL REVIEW OF THE AGE OF FAITH. The Fall of Constantinople.-Its momentary Effect on the Italian System. GENERAL REVIEW OF THE INTELLECTUAL CONDITION IN THE AGE OF FAITH.-Supernatuqralism and its Logic spread all over Europe.-It is destroyed by the. Jews and Arabians. Its total Extinction. The Jewish Physicians.- Their Acquirements and Influence.- Their Collision with the Imposturemedicine of Europe. Their Effect on the higher Classes.-Opposition to them. Two Impulses, the Intellectual and Moral, operating against the Mediceval state of Things.Downfall of the Italian System through the intellectual Impulse from the West and the moral from the North.-Action 1vf the former through Astronomy. Origin of the moral Impulse.Their conjoint irresistible Effect.-Discovery of the state of Affairs in Italy.-The Writings of Machiavelli.- What the Church had actually done. Entire Movement of the Italian System determined from a consideration of the four Revolts against it.
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