General History in Outline and Story
VII . NEW FORCES IN RELIGION AND THE GROWTH OF A NEW OUTLOOK
This chapter is being worked on
44 . ERASMUS
While the Renaissance was in full flower, great changes and developments were taking place in religion. Even as early as the thirteen hundreds, attacks had been made, by John Wycliffe in England, and his supporter, Huss, in Bohemia, on the increasingly material outlook of the Church. Now as an effect of the new learning, the reaction against these things became stronger and more general. Men were no longer completely dependent on the Church for their ideas. They were learning from their reading of the Greeks and Romans to put questions and make comparisons for themselves.
About a hundred years after Wycliffe and Huss, their work was taken up by a number of others. Chief among these was Erasmus, the greatest man of letters of his time, whose book, Praise of Folly, had all Europe laughing at the foolish behavior of certain churchmen. The purpose of Erasmus and others like him was not to get men turned against the Church, but to make the Church itself put its house in order, as, in fact, it later did. As a way of effecting this, Erasmus had the New Testament printed in Greek, the language used by the writers.
On the first page of the book he said " "My eyes have seen the Pope walking at the head of a great army like Pompey or Caesar. St. Peter overcame men with religion, not with guns and armies."
The effect of this printing was electric. Never has a book been the cause of more interest and discussion. In France, one hundred thousand copies went in a very short time. As a noted writer of history* has said, we have become so used to the words of the Bible that it is hard for us to have any idea of the feelings of men seeing them in print for the first time.
Not long after this came to the front a German monk, Martin Luther,
whose doing were in a short time the talk of all Europe. Erasmus, the man of letters, with his belief in the slow process of education, was greatly troubled about Luther, with whom the thought was father to the act. "The supporters of the Pope have my approval," Erasmus said in one of his books, "But I would be happier if they were wiser than they are. They would make a meal of Luther without giving it another thought. Whatever they do about him, it is all the same to me ; but they are wrong in taking him and me to be on the same side. Printing machines are at work everywhere. I have no power to put a stop to them, and it is not right to make me responsible for their foolish statements." But in the opinion of most of the churchmen of the time, Erasmus made the gun and Luther let it off.
45 . LUTHER
Martin Luther is noted as the man chiefly responsible for the great development in the history of religion named the Reformation. A great number of those who saw what was wrong with religion, such as Erasmus, were men of learning who were only interested in making the Church conscious of its errors, and had no thoughts of taking steps against it. But for Luther, with his simpler outlook and stronger purpose, to see was to do, and he became the force which put in motion one of the most important changes in history.
He came from Saxony, where his birth took place in 1483. His father and mother were poor, and he was their oldest son. Luther's first act against the Church was caused by the coming of a Dominican friar to Wittenberg (where Luther was a teacher in the university) to get money for the building of Saint Peter's Church at Rome. On the door of the church at Wittenberg as paper was nailed by Luther giving ninety-five arguments against the way in which the money was being got. The effect of this was a surprise even to Luther. The news quickly got about, and in two weeks his act was causing violent discussion all over Germany.
At first, when protests were made to him, the Pope only said, "Brother Martin is am an of very great qualities, and all this outburst is only noise made by foolish monks." But when it became clear that because of Luther's arguments money for the building was no longer coming in as before, the Pope's supporters took steps against Luther. Bit by bit he was forced into open fight, and in 1520 he put an end to all hope of agreement by writing three papers attacking not only the Pope, but the teaching of the Church of Rome.
At the same time the Pope sent out a 'Bull,' as any order stamped by the Pope was named (from the Latin bulla, a stamp), making Luther an outlaw from the Church. All his books were ordered to be burned, and he was faced with cruel punishments if he did not take back his words before sixty days were over. In answer to this, Luther made a fire of the Pope's law-books in front of the university men of Wittenberg, and then put the Bull itself on the flames. Because he would not take back his words, he and his supporters were outlawed from the Church.
It was now necessary for the Emperor, Charles V, to make him an outlaw of the Empire, so that he might be taken and given punishment as a danger to the Church. The Elector of Saxony, who was Luther's friend got the Emperor to give Luther a hearing before taking any steps against him.
So Luther, armed with a special order for his safe-keeping, was ordered to come to Worms, on the Rhine, to a meeting of all the Kings and lords, the chief heads of the Church, and the representatives of the Holy Roman Empire. The Diet of Worms, as this meeting was named, is one of the most important events in history.
A friend of Luther's at Worms sent him a letter saying that he would be wise to go back, or he would be burned like the Bohemian, Huss, who had been put to death by the Church in somewhat the same conditions, even though he had had an order for his safe-keeping. But Luther made answer that he would go even if the number of those against him in Worms was as great as the number of bricks in its houses. "Though they put Huss to death his words are still living." Feeling was running high in Worms when he came. "Little monk, little monk," said a noted fighter, putting his hand on Luther's back when he was walking to the meeting room," you are going into a fight such as we military men never saw in our worst wars ; but if what you say is true, on, in God's name ! He will keep your safe."
Disgusted at first by Luther's simple unpolished air, Charles said, "This is not the man to make me give up the Church of Rome." But Luther said what he had to say so quietly, and clearly, and openly, with no sign of fear, that everyone was greatly moved. Though all the punishments of the law were facing him he would not take back one word. Looking round at the great company of men on whose decision his future was hanging, he said simply : "Here I am. There is no other way for me. God give me His help."
And so the meeting came to an end, at about eight on the night of Tuesday, April 15, 1521, with one simple monk of low birth facing without fear all the power of the Empire. The Spaniards, who were with Charles V (because he was the King of Spain and its great Empire) made outcries against Luther, but the Germans were very pleased with their countryman.
A great lord sent Luther a silver cup full of beer after first taking a drink from it himself, and the Elector of Saxony sent for him to say how well Father Martin had made his statement to the Emperor in Latin and German. They let him go back safely. Attempts were made to get Charles to put him in prison, even though he had been given an order of safe-keeping. But the Emperor would not do this, saying that, though the rest of men might no longer keep their word, Kings at least would still do so.
A month later, however, Luther was outlawed from the Empire. But he was never made a prisoner, because on his way back to Wittenberg the good Elector of Saxony had had him taken off by armed men to his great house of Wartburg, and kept him there for ten months under the name of 'Squire George,' dressed as a man of good family, with long hair. While he was there, Luther made a start at putting the Bible into German. This was the first important book printed in the German language, and a very great event in its history. When the danger was over Luther went back to Wittenberg, where he went on living till his death in 1546.
Luther was not very tall. As a young man he was so thin that his bones might be numbered, but when he got older he was quite fat. He was very upright and kept his head high. He had deep, dark eyes, bright as stars. 'The German Protestant or 'Lutheran' Church takes its name from him.
Erasmus had been hoping for changes inside the Church as an effect of the New Learning ; Luther went further, and facing death for the right of free thought, took as his authority the Bible in place of the Church.
Charles V later did his best to make the Empire give way to the authority of the Church of Rome, or Catholic Church. Certain rulers who were supporters of Luther made a 'protest' against this, and so got the name 'Protestants.'
It was not long before there was trouble all over Europe, and the fight between Protestants and Catholics so started went on for at least a hundred years after Luther's death.
46 . CALVIN AND LOYOLA
This was the start of a general reaction against the Church of Rome which
quickly made headway in other countries and under other men. One of these, the Frenchman Calvin, had gone from France, where the government was attempting to get the new ideas stamped out by cruel punishments, to Geneva. There he made himself 'Pope and
Emperor' of the new church, ruling it with a rod of iron. He was very bitter against those whose views were different from his, and even got one man (Servetus) burned at a slow fire by the Inquisition. * The book for which the man was judged false to the Church was ordered to be burned with him, but, falling from his neck into the flames it was pulled out and may still be seen, with the marks of the fire on it, in the National Library at Paris -- a sad example of the cruel things which were done at this time in the name of religion.
Calvin had an even greater effect on the world than Luther, because his teaching was taken up by the Swiss, the Dutch, the Huguenots in France, and the Puritans in England, Scotland, and America, and became the controlling force in their schools. There was no place in this church organization for 'bishops' with a ruling position in the church. In his eyes all men teaching the Word were equal and might become 'elders' or head of his church.
And so new Protestant churches came into being. But at the same time changes for the better took place in the Church of Rome its self. The churchmen gave up their loose ways, and the Popes became again true men of God. One most important development was the starting of a new order of monks, the Society of Jesus, by a Spaniard named Ignatius of Loyola. Like the early friars, these Jesuits went into all parts of the earth to put down false beliefs and to make men Christian. Their stations were planted among Peruvian mines, in the markets of the African slave-trade, among the islands of the Indian Ocean, on the edge of Hindustan, in the towns of Japan and China, in the Canadian woods, and in the farthest parts of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Ignatius was, in fact, the chief of a great army fighting for God, the organization of which is almost without parallel.
* The organization which had been formed three hundred years earlier for the discovery and cruel punishment of those whose beliefs were not in agreement with those of the Catholic Church.
47 . WILLIAM OF ORANGE AND THE 'BEGGARS'
The division between Catholics and Protestants gave birth to a great number of wars of religion, of which the most important took place in the small country of Holland, which was then a part of the Spanish Netherlands.
William, Prince of Orange, named 'the Silent,' because he said little, is looked on by the Dutch as the greatest man in their history. It was he, who at last, made the North Protestant parts of the Netherlands free from the hated Spanish rule. All through his long fight of twenty-five years (1560-84) William was helping the Protestants, but at no time would he give any support to cruel and unbalanced acts done in the name of religion.
William of Orange was the oldest son of a father and mother who had become Lutherans. When he was eleven years old, the death of a relation made him the ruler of a great amount of land in the Netherlands, together with the little country of Orange in the south of France. In this way he became the Prince of Orange. He was given the education of a Catholic at Brussels, where he was one of the circle round Charles V, who had a very high opinion of him and gave him frequent signs of his approval. It was on William's arm that the great Emperor was supported when he gave up the Netherlands to his son, Philip II (1555).
There is little doubt that Charles was looking to William as the chief supporter of Philip's rule, with no thought that this boy of twenty-two would in the end be the cause of its downfall.
One day, when they were out on horseback in the woods of Vincennes (June 1559), the King of France, in the belief that the idea was no secret to William, gave him a full account of his and Philip's designs for the destruction of all the Protestants in their two Empires, chiefly by the use of Spanish military forces. William, though he was a that time a Catholic, was so deeply moved by the thought of all the good men who were going to be put to death for no reason, that he said to himself that he would do all in his power to keep this from coming about. His face was unmoved, however, and he gave not the smallest sign of his true feelings to the King by word or look. It was chiefly from his behavior at this time that he got the name of 'the Silent.'
When he went back to Brussels he gave it as his opinion that the best thing for the nation to do was to make a protest to Philip against having the Spanish army in Holland. So the government said that they would give Philip no money till the army was ordered out. Very angry, Philip went back to Spain, and never saw Holland again. Before he go on the ship he said bitter things to William about the decision. William made answer that it was the decision of the government, not his, but Philip was wiser. Taking William roughly by the arm, he give him a shake, crying loudly " "Not the Government, but you ! You ! You !" This was the first sign of trouble between the two who were later to be at war with one another for twenty-five years.
The Spanish army was taken away, but there was no change in Philip's views about religion. He said publicly that with God's help he would never let himself become the ruler of men who were false to the Church of Rome. Charles V had before this sent the Inquisition into some parts of the Netherlands. If a man was judged by that organization to be against the Church of Rome, he was handed over to the government for punishment. All judges were under orders to put the punishments into effect, but it was hard to make them do so. Then at last Philip put his foot down, and the Inquisition came into operation in every part of the country.
Public feeling against the Inquisition was so strong that an organization was formed and a protest was signed to be put before Philip's representative (his half-sister), who, full of fear, was on the point of flight. But William gave her his word that there would be no danger, and sent orders to the signers of the protest to come unarmed with their request. So between two and three hundred men of good birth came before the ruler with their letter requesting her to put an end to the Inquisition.
"What, Madam !" said one of her government. "Are you in fear of these beggars ? Let them be put out with sticks !" Three days later three hundred of them had a meeting at night at which, after putting salt into the great vessel of wine in the form of a basin of wood such as was used by the beggars requesting money in the streets, and hanging a beggar's bag round his neck, every man took up his glass with the words, "Long years to the Beggars !" Then they said these lines :
The group, now taking the name of 'the beggars,' quickly became a nation-wide organization, and the stores everywhere were full of the little basins and bags which were the signs of its support.
"By the salt, by the bread, by the bag.
The Beggars will keep to their purpose whatever comes."
The Netherlands now became the stage for attack after attack on the Church, worked up by men of all shades of opinion. They went about having meetings in the fields, till at last the more violent of their new supporters got completely out of control and did serious damage to the beautiful cathedral of Antwerp and hundreds of other churches all over the country. "They will make bitter payment for this," said Philip, and he kept his word.
A force sent by Philip's half-sister put to death almost every man of two thousand Protestants who were under canvas near Antwerp. But William kept them from open war in Holland and other parts ;and then it came to his knowledge that Philip was secretly getting an army together. Was it wise to put up a fight or not?
His friends in the government, Counts Egmont and Horn, said not. In a short time Brussels got news that Philip was sending an army to the Netherlands under the cruel Duke of Alva. Those in the government were now ordered to give their word before God to do everything desired by Philip or their positions would be taken from them. Egmont gave his word, but William, at last making his decision against Philip, would not (April 2, 1567).
"This will be the end of everything for you," said Egmont. "The loss of my property is nothing to me," said William ; "but you will be the bridge over which the Spanish armies will come into the country." Then the two old friends with sad hearts went their separate ways -- William going back to Germany, where he would be safe, Egmont and Horn waiting the coming of the Duke of Alva in the belief that the King would keep his word to them and give peace and order once again to their unhappy country.
Alva came into Brussels with a great army of twenty thousand men and six thousand horses. Egmont and Horn were put into prison and a new body was formed, named by the nation the "Council of blood,' for judging those who were against the King and his religion. Then Egmont and Horn were cruelly put to death, an act which made the Spaniards more violently hated then ever.
While all this was going on, William had been made an outlaw, his lands had been taken from him, and he and the army he had got together had been crushed in war. Alva, very pleased with himself, said in a letter : "The Prince may be looked as a dead man. He has no power and no credit." And then, after more than eighteen thousand person had been burned or put to death in other ways by the 'Council of Blood,' peace was made. The authority of Alva seemed to be complete.
But it was not so. Crushed, without support, and without money, as William was, he was still full of fight and full of hope. When friends said to him that he would never be able to get anywhere without the help of some great ruler, he only made answer : "When I look up the cause of these unhappy Christians, I was joining forces with the greatest of all rulers--God, who has power to keep us safe if such is His desire." It was very like him to take for himself the saying, "Quiet among the troubled waters."
Overcome on land, his supporters went to sea, where, under the name of the 'Sea Beggars,' they did much damage to Spanish ships, and at last took the town of Brill on April 1, 1572--a good April the First trick on Alva, as they said. This was the turning-point in the fight.
Later they were again helped by the sea, when, by the destruction of their sea-walls, they were able to go sailing over the fields to give help to the town of Leyden which was being attacked. At last, on a great day dear to the memory of all Holland, the seven divisions of the north Netherlands became united, and so the first step was taken in the forming of the Dutch Republic.
A price had been put upon William's head 'dead or living,' and three years later (July 10, 1584) he was given his death-wound by someone hoping for a reward. But the Dutch will keep the memory of him in their hearts for ever, as a lover and servant of his country as great as any in history.
Four years after this (1588) Philip II sent his great sea force, the Armada, against Elizabeth of England, who had given some help to the Dutch. The English were helped by the weather, and more than half the Spanish ships went down. This was a very serious blow to Philip, and he was forced to give up further attempts to overcome Holland. The outcome of this war on the Spanish power in the north was that Protestant Holland and England became the guiding stars of Europe in the great fight for free political opinions and free religion.
48 . NEW IDEAS IN RELIGION
For about a thousand years there was only one Church, the Church of Rome in the west of Europe. Then there came into being, through the Reformation, a new Church side by side with the old. Most of the nations in the north, the Teutonic1 nations, became Protestant ; the nations in the south, or Latin2 nations, and Celtic Ireland wee true to the Catholic Church.
So violent was the effect of the Reformation on men's deepest feelings that almost every country took part in wars of religion.
The Catholic Philip II of Spain, with his great Empire in Europe and America, was by far the strongest ruler of the age. Like his father Charles V, his one desire was to keep Europe under the Pope -- and under a Spanish 'Caesar.' The 'Sea Beggars' of Holland and the 'Sea Dogs' of England kept off this attacks on these two small nations.
At the same time as he was attempting to overcome Holland and England, Philip was taking part in the wars of religion in France. In these wars four hundred towns, great and small, were burned or leveled to the earth. The most cruel event of the times was the surprise attack on Protestants on Saint Bartholomew's Day, 1572. In Paris, where, all unconscious of the danger, numbers of them had come to see the Protestant Henry of Navarre married to the King's sister, about two thousand Protestants were put to death in two days, and in the rest of the country probably ten thousand more.
After a long fight against Philip II, the head of the Protestants, Henry of Navarre, who was now King Henry IV of France, saw that he would never be able to keep his position if he did not become a Catholic. So he went back to the Church of Rome for political reasons ; but he still had the Protestants in mind, and in 1598, by a law named the Edict of Nantes, he gave them the right to keep their religion in peace. So he became the first king in Europe to take the view that there was room for different religions side by side.
Not long after this, the last and most violent of all the wars of religion took place in Luther's country. This was the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), which was started by some Protestants forcing three Catholics out of a window. Almost all Europe took part in it, and no war has ever been the cause of so much destruction. Not less than thirty thousand little towns were made waste. It was not till the eighteen hundreds that Germany fully got over its effects.
One outcome of the shocking events of this war was the first book3 on International Law, by Hugo Grotius, who had had to get out of Holland in a box because of his views on religion. In this work he put forward the argument that it was time for the Rule of Law to take the place of the Rule of Force between nation and nation -- in the same way as Law had at last taken the place of Force between man and man.
It was not till the end of the Thirty Years' War that Spain would have any relations with the new Republic of Holland a an independent nation.
The year after (1649), England had a revolution, or violent change of government, and another Protestant Republic came into existence for a time. The King, Charles I, was put to death for acting on his belief that Kings were responsible only to God, and for his support of the bishops of the English Church, who were attempting to make all the country go through the same forms of religion. Cromwell and Milton, fighting against him, took up arms for the idea that in these things everyone has the right to do as seems best to him. And so this was another war between two different views of what was right ; but, unlike the earlier wars of religion, it was the least cruel of all wars. The Republic came to an end with the death of Cromwell, and for a time the fight between Catholics and Protestants went on. But in 1688 the third William of Orange, head of the United Netherlands, who was married to a daughter of James II, was made King of England in place of James, and at the start of his rule a law was put into force giving everyone the right to his religion.
But only England among the great European countries did not give up the earlier idea of representative government, and of limiting the King's power by law, and was able to make the necessary adjustment of it to changing conditions. In other parts of Europe the rule of Kings with unlimited power went on.
After the Reformation and the revolutions in Holland (1572) and England (1649), came revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789). As Lord Acton4 says, England, America, and France have been the greatest forces in political development, but the Dutch made the start. It was the Dutch who went on from the idea of a free church to that of a free people. The cause was taken up by England in its turn, and now the fight became not for one church against another, but for the right of every man to have whatever form of religion seemed good to him.
It was the small independent groups in England -- the Nonconformists and the Quakers -- who were responsible for this further development. And it was a Quaker, William Penn, who, in an American colony, first put the new ideas into full operation. The fight to make men free in religion went hand in hand with the fight for political rights and more equal conditions of living, which has been the great undertaking of later history.
1. Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and the North German groups.
2 . France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, whose language and society are in great part based on those of the Romans, or Latins.
3 . De Jure Belli et Pacis ('Of the Lw of War and Peace').
4 . Lectures on Modern History.
DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK
I . -- THE FIRST STAGE
II . -- THE EARLY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE EAST
III. -- THE GREAT DAYS OF GREECE
IV . -- THE GREAT DAYS OF ROME
V . -- THE MIDDLE AGES
VI . -- THE 'NEW BIRTH' OF EUROPE
VII. -- NEW FORCES IN RELIGION AND THE GROWTH OF A NEW OUTLOOK top
VIII -- THE EXPANSION OF EUROPE OVERSEAS
IX . -- THE 'GREAT KINGS' OF EUROPE
X . -- THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
XI . -- THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND NAPOLEON
XII. -- THE BIRTH OF NEW NATIONS
XIII -- THE WORLD OF THE PRESENT DAY