Imatges de pàgina


conduct, between the spiritual and the tem, CHAP. poral powers. But the open immorality of the clergy, and the profligacy of the monks, required a more decisive interpor sition. This interposition was found in the institution and patronage of the mendicant orders.

The two most celebrated of these orders were the Dominican and Franciscan, and they owed their origin respectively to persons of seemingly very opposite characters. St. Dominic was a priest of a most lofty and despotịc temper, inspired with capacious views of policy and dominion, and impatient of an opposer, He it was who led the sacred armies of the church in their pious crusade for the extermination of the Albigenses, and who invented that celebrated and tremendo pus machine which contributed so much to the maintenance of the Holy Catholic reli

St. Dominic.

6 Mosheim, Historia Ecclesiastica, Cent. XII, Pars II, cap. ii, $. 24,


St. Francis of Assisi.

ness, the

CHAP. gion for successive centuries, the tribunal of

the Inquisition. St. Francis on the contrary appears to have been a melancholy and ingenuous madman. In his youth, we are told, he led the most debauched and disor, derly life. Being seized with a fit of sick

consequence of his excesses, he be came deeply impressed with a sense of remorse, abjured the commerce of the world, and restrained himself to so gloomy a solitude, and so severe a regimen of life, as macerated his flesh, and rendered his countenance shrivelled and ghastly. To subdue the ascendancy of the flesh, he rolled himself naked in drifts of snow"; and to terminate the hostilities of the enemies of the church, he made a voluntary expedition to Jerusalem, to convert the Saracenic soldan who presided there. These two men conceived about the

· Bonaventura, apud Bayle, Dictionnaire Historique, art, S. François.

Moreri, Dict. Hist.



same time, and probably without either de- CAAP. riving the idea from the other, the project of instituting a society of persons who should engage in the vows of celibacy and humility, and devote their lives to the offices of piety and benevolence.

Voluntary poverty was one of the funda- Vows of the mental laws of the monastic orders; but though according to the rules of these orders no individual could call the smallest trifle his own, the society at large might have

property, and under cover of this indulgence they became, as the monastic discipline relaxed, wealthy, magnificent and luxurious. The institutors of the mendicant orders

provided against this corruption, by refusing to their followers the possession of property, either private or public. They were accordingly wanderers on the face of the earth without income, without money and without habitation ; indefatigable in the duties of preaching, and in all pious and benevolent offices ; travelling from city to city, and from kingdom to kingdom ; subsisting upon the



CHA P. alms of the charitable, and refusing even of

these more than was necessary for the most scanty subsistance.

subsistance. It is incredible how por pular and veuerable these fraternities, so strongly contrasted with the indifference of the secular clergy and the disorders committed by the monks, in a short time became. Their original sovereign, and the founder of the tribunal of the Inquisition, was pope Innocent III, the pontiff who exacted as a pes nance from John king of England the resignation of his crown to the legate of the holy see.

The mendicant orders, with a foresight which

may well impress us with astonishment, and which shewed a deep observation of the character of the age, added the cultivation of science, and the subtlest refinements of intellectual disquisition, to their exalted

pretensions to an uncommon portion of piety and virtue. Thus they addressed all the prejudices and prepossessions then afloat in the Christian world at once. The subtlest intellects and the greatest wits of the twelfth

Their liter

ary cmi.



and the earlier part of the thirteenth cen- chap. turies were almost universally of the mendicant orders; Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Johannes Duns Scotus, William Occam and Roger Bacon. Considering then the variety of recommendations they had to boast, we can scarcely be surprised to find them in a manner all-powerful in the Christian church, and engrossing to themselves the entire authority of the Roman pontiff.

The earliest opposers of the mendicant or- Opposed by ders were the dignitaries in the several West- of the uniern universities. We have already had occasion to observe how greatly they had risen on the disrepute of the monastic orders, and what formidable rivals they found in the Franciscan and Dominican societies. The university of Paris took the lead

these establishments for the purposes of general education, and by natural consequence put



• Chap X

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