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In our present view of things, papal provisions appear an intolerable usurpation. Some circumstances, however, should be taken into consideration, which will perhaps induce the reader to think that they were not wholly unattended with salutary consequences. They prevented the patrons of ecclesiastical livings from keeping them vacant and converting the revenues to their private use; they also restrained the simoniacal traffic of benefices, one of the greatest calamities of the church during the middle ages. They enabled the popes to fill the church with men of talents and character. This was felt so strongly, that, in 1399, the universities both of Oxford and Cambridge presented petitions to the convocation, stating that, "since "the passing of the statutes against provisions, the "members of the universities had been neglected "by patrons, so that the schools were disregarded "and nearly abandoned."-Sixteen years later, the matter was taken up by the house of commons: they addressed the king with the same complaints, and prayed for a repeal of the statutes, or some other adequate remedy. The monarch referred the matter to the bishops: and, in 1416, a law was passed in convocation, obliging every spiritual patron, during the next ten years, to bestow the first vacant benefice in his presentation, and after that, every second, on some member of one of the universities, graduated in one of the three faculties*.-This was a partial remedy; but it proves the existence of the evil.
Another circumstance should be taken into
* Lingard's History, vol. iii. p. 306.
consideration. In consequence of the successful invasion of England by the first William, the nation was divided into two classes, the Norman conquerors, and the conquered Saxons: every art was used to exalt the former and depress the latter. With this view, offices and employments of honour or emolument were almost exclusively appropriated to the Normans; and this was particularly the case with respect to the dignities and possessions of the church. The Norman too was the language of the palace and the courts of justice, and no other was spoken in the circles of the great: but the Saxon continued to be the language of the commonalty. Thus, in their regard, and they certainly constituted the bulk of the nation, the Norman was as much a stranger as an Italian; and, as a member of the oppressing cast, he was singularly unpleasant to them. An Italian would naturally be a greater favourite; his manners would be more conciliating: whether the priest spoke in the Italian or Norman language, he was equally unintelligible to the mass of the people; but the Norman was a language of woe, which the Saxon could not hear without recollecting the misfortunes of his country and his own abjection. It may be added, that the Italian, as a person sent to them from the Roman pontiff, whom they considered, and who certainly, on several occasions, proved himself to be the common father of the faithful, would be viewed with more regard and kindness than any clergyman of the invading race. It was also likely that the Italian would be better informed,
more regular in the discharge of his duty, less insolent and less oppressive. There seems, therefore, some reason for supposing, that the papal provisions, which are now so strongly censured, and which, in some points of view, may be justly censurable, were rather a general benefit than a general grievance to the nation; and that the statutes to restrain them, were called for rather by the king and the nobles, than by the general body of the people. It is understood that the distinction which we have noticed, between the Norman and Saxon portions of the community, and the difference of their language, customs and feeling, continued to be strongly marked till the reign of Edward the third, from which time, it began to
The practices, which have been mentioned, tended to drain the kingdom of its specie; a further subtraction of it was produced by the remittances, which religious houses, in consequence of the impositions with which they were charged, sometimes by the popes, and sometimes by their foreign superiors, were obliged to make into foreign countries. This, particularly at a time, when a paper currency was altogether unknown, was a considerable grievance. To remedy it, a statute was passed in the 35th year of Edward the first: after reciting that abbots and other governors of religious houses were used to set pecuniary impositions on communities, subject to their government, and to dispose of them at their pleasure, it directed," that every religious person, taking or sending money out of
"the kingdom, should be grievously punished; "and that alien abbots imposing such a tax should "forfeit their property for the offence*."
STATUTES OF PRÆMUNIRE,
THE rise, decline and fall of the temporal power of the pope, form one of the most interesting and important topics of modern history. The subject of these Historical Memoirs obviously requires some mention of them; we shall therefore endeavour to place before our readers,—some account, I. Of the rise of the temporal power of the popes: II. Of its decline,-(the history of its fall belongs to a later period),-III. And of the successful resistance made to it by the sovereigns and legislature of England, particularly by the statutes of præmunire. IV. The chapter will conclude, with short observations on the services rendered by the popes to religion and government,
Rise of the Temporal Power of the Pope.
ST. PETER, the first of the popes, had neither temporal estate, nor temporal power. During the ten persecutions, his successors acquired some moveable and immoveable property, for the support of the altar and its ministers, and for the of charity. The donation of Constantine is a fable; his 35 Edw. I. st. De asportatis religiosorum.
constitution of 321, by which he authorized churches to acquire and hold property of every description, by gift, testamentary donation, or purchase, is the real source of the wealth of the church. From him and his successors, the popes obtained extensive possessions in Italy, Sicily, Dalmatia, France and Africa. In consequence of their descendible quality from pope to pope, they were called the patrimony of St. Peter. Other churches had their respective patrimonies, to which they gave the name of an eminent saint of the district. Thus, the landed property of the church of Ravenna, was called the patrimony of St. Apollinaris; that of the church of Milan, was called the patrimony of St. Ambrose; and that of Venice, was called the patrimony of St. Mark. In this manner, the popes became owners of houses and farms.
The laws of Constantine and his successors conferred on them something like a right of civil jurisdiction. This was increased by the circumstances and temper of the times; and thus they acquired the power of magistracy.
After Justinian had re-conquered Italy, Rome was governed by a duke, who, like the other dukes of Italy, was wholly subordinate to the exarch of Ravenna. Still, as the popes constantly resided at Rome, their spiritual character, their talents, the use which they made of them, and particularly, the sums of money spent by them in public and private charities, in support of the walls and fortresses of the city of Rome, and in maintaining troops for its defence, endeared them to the Roman people. This