History of the christian church



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In 1301 the flame of controversy was again started by a document, written probably by the French advocate, Pierre Dubois,9which showed the direction in which Philip’s mind was working, for it could hardly have appeared without his assent. The writer summoned the king to extend his dominions to the walls of Rome and beyond, and denied the pope’s right to secular power. The pontiff’s business is confined to the forgiving of sins, prayer, and preaching. Philip continued to lay his hand without scruple on Church property; Lyons, which had been claimed by the empire, he demanded as a part of France. Appeals against his arbitrary acts went to Rome, and the pope sent Bernard of Saisset, bishop of Pamiers, to Paris, with commission to summon the French king to apply the clerical tithe for its appointed purpose, a crusade, and for nothing else. Philip showed his resentment by having the legate arrested. He was adjudged by the civil tribunal a traitor, and his deposition from the episcopate demanded.

Boniface’s reply, set forth in the bull Ausculta fili — Give ear, my son—issued Dec. 5, 1301, charged the king with high-handed treatment of the clergy and making plunder of ecclesiastical property. The pope announced a council to be held in Rome to which the French prelates were called and the king summoned to be present, either in person or by a representative. The bull declared that God had placed his earthly vicar above kings and kingdoms. To make the matter worse, a false copy of Boniface’s bull was circulated in France known as Deum time,—Fear God,—which made the statements of papal prerogative still more exasperating. This supposititious document, which is supposed to have been forged by Pierre Flotte, the king’s chief councillor, was thrown into the flames Feb. 11, 1302. 20 Such treatment of a papal brief was unprecedented. It remained for Luther to cast the genuine bull of Leo X. into the fire. The two acts had little in common.

The king replied by calling a French parliament of the three estates, the nobility, clergy and representatives of the cities, which set aside the papal summons to the council, complained of the appointment of foreigners to French livings, and asserted the crown’s independence of the Church. Five hundred years later a similar representative body of the three estates was to rise against French royalty and decide for the abolition of monarchy. In a letter to the pope, Philip addressed him as "your infatuated Majesty," 21and declined all submission to any one on earth in temporal matters.

The council called by the pope convened in Rome the last day of October, 1302, and included 4 archbishops, 35 bishops, and 6 abbots from France. It issued two bulls. The first pronounced the ban on all who detained prelates going to Rome or returning from the city. The second is one of the most notable of all papal documents, the bull Unam sanctam, the name given to it from its first words, "We are forced to believe in one holy Catholic Church." It marks an epoch in the history of the declarations of the papacy, not because it contained anything novel, but because it set forth with unchanged clearness the stiffest claims of the papacy to temporal and spiritual power. It begins with the assertion that there is only one true Church, outside of which there is no salvation. The pope is the vicar of Christ, and whoever refuses to be ruled by Peter belongs not to the fold of Christ. Both swords are subject to the Church, the spiritual and the temporal. The temporal sword is to be wielded for the Church, the spiritual by it. The secular estate may be judged by the spiritual estate, but the spiritual estate by no human tribunal. The document closes with the startling declaration that for every human being the condition of salvation is obedience to the Roman pontiff.

There was no assertion of authority contained in this bull which had not been before made by Gregory VII. and his successors, and the document leans back not only upon the deliverances of popes, but upon the definitions of theologians like Hugo de St. Victor, Bernard and Thomas Aquinas. But in the Unam sanctam the arrogance of the papacy finds its most naked and irritating expression.

One of the clauses pronounces all offering resistance to the pope’s authority Manichaeans. Thus Philip was made a heretic. Six months later the pope sent a cardinal legate, John le Moine of Amiens, to announce to the king his excommunication for preventing French bishops from going to Rome. The bearer of the message was imprisoned and the legate fled. Boniface now called upon the German emperor, Albrecht, to take Philip’s throne, as Innocent III. had called upon the French king to take John’s crown, and Innocent IV. upon the count of Artois to take the crown of Frederick II. Albrecht had wisdom enough to decline the empty gift. Philip’s seizure of the papal bulls before they could be promulged in France was met by Boniface’s announcement that the posting of a bull on the church doors of Rome was sufficient to give it force.

The French parliament, June, 1308, passed from the negative attitude of defending the king and French rights to an attack upon Boniface and his right to the papal throne. In 20 articles it accused him of simony, sorcery, immoral intercourse with his niece, having a demon in his chambers, the murder of Coelestine, and other crimes. It appealed to a general council, before which the pope was summoned to appear in person. Five archbishops and 21 bishops joined in subscribing to this document. The university and chapter of Paris, convents, cities, and towns placed themselves on the king’s side. 22

One more step the pope was about to take when a sudden stop was put to his career. He had set the eighth day of September as the time when he would publicly, in the church of Anagni, and with all the solemnities known to the Church, pronounce the ban upon the disobedient king and release his subjects from allegiance. In the same edifice Alexander III. had excommunicated Barbarossa, and Gregory IX., Frederick II. The bull already had the papal signature, when, as by a storm bursting from a clear sky, the pope’s plans were shattered and his career brought to an end.

During the two centuries and a half since Hildebrand had entered the city of Rome with Leo IX., popes had been imprisoned by emperors, been banished from Rome by its citizens, had fled for refuge and died in exile, but upon no one of them had a calamity fallen quite so humiliating and complete as the calamity which now befell Boniface. A plot, formed in France to checkmate the pope and to carry him off to a council at Lyons, burst Sept. 7 upon the peaceful population of Anagni, the pope’s country seat. William of Nogaret, professor of law at Montpellier and councillor of the king, was the manager of the plot and was probably its inventor. According to the chronicler, Villani,3Nogaret’s parents were Cathari, and suffered for heresy in the flames in Southern France. He stood as a representative of a new class of men, laymen, who were able to compete in culture with the best-trained ecclesiastics, and advocated the independence of the state. With him was joined Sciarra Colonna, who, with other members of his family, had found refuge in France, and was thirsting for revenge for their proscription by the pope. With a small body of mercenaries, 300 of them on horse, they suddenly appeared in Anagni. The barons of the Latium, embittered by the rise of the Gaetani family upon their losses, joined with the conspirators, as also did the people of Anagni. The palaces of two of Boniface’s nephews and several of the cardinals were stormed and seized by Sciarra Colonna, who then offered the pope life on the three conditions that the Colonna be restored, Boniface resign, and that he place himself in the hands of the conspirators. The conditions were rejected, and after a delay of three hours, the work of assault and destruction was renewed. The palaces one after another yielded, and the papal residence itself was taken and entered. The supreme pontiff, according to the description of Villani, 24received the besiegers in high pontifical robes, seated on a throne, with a crown on his head and a crucifix and the keys in his hand. He proudly rebuked the intruders, and declared his readiness to die for Christ and his Church. To the demand that he resign the papal office, he replied, "Never; I am pope and as pope I will die." Sciarra was about to kill him, when he was intercepted by Nogaret’s arm. The palaces were looted and the cathedral burnt, and its relics, if not destroyed, went to swell the booty. One of the relics, a vase said to have contained milk from Mary’s breasts, was turned over and broken. The pope and his nephews were held in confinement for three days, the captors being undecided whether to carry Boniface away to Lyons, set him at liberty, or put him to death. Such was the humiliating counterpart to the proud display made at the pope’s coronation nine years before!

In the meantime the feelings of the Anagnese underwent a change. The adherents of the Gaetani family rallied their forces and, combining together, they rescued Boniface and drove out the conspirators. Seated at the head of his palace stairway, the pontiff thanked God and the people for his deliverance. "Yesterday," he said, "I was like Job, poor and without a friend. To-day I have abundance of bread, wine, and water." A rescuing party from Rome conducted the unfortunate pope to the Holy City, where he was no longer his own master. 25 A month later, Oct. 11, 1303, his earthly career closed. Outside the death-chamber, the streets of the city were filled with riot and tumult, and the Gaetani and Colonna were encamped in battle array against each other in the Campagna.

Reports agree that Boniface’s death was a most pitiable one. He died of melancholy and despair, and perhaps actually insane. He refused food, and beat his head against the wall. "He was out of his head," wrote Ptolemy of Lucca, 26and believed that every one who approached him was seeking to put him in prison.

Human sympathy goes out for the aged man of fourscore years and more, dying in loneliness and despair. But judgment comes sooner or later upon individuals and institutions for their mistakes and offences. The humiliation of Boniface was the long-delayed penalty of the sacerdotal pride of his predecessors and himself. He suffered in part for the hierarchical arrogance of which he was the heir and in part for his own presumption. Villani and other contemporaries represent the pope’s latter end as a deserved punishment for his unblushing nepotism, his pompous pride, and his implacable severity towards those who dared to resist his plans, and for his treatment of the feeble hermit who preceded him. One of the chroniclers reports that seamen plying near the Liparian islands, the reputed entrance to hell, heard evil spirits rejoicing and exclaiming, "Open, open; receive pope Boniface into the infernal regions."

Catholic historians like Hergenröther and Kirsch, bound to the ideals of the past, make a brave attempt to defend Boniface, though they do not overlook his want of tact and his coarse violence of speech. It is certain, says Cardinal Hergenröther, 27"that Boniface was not ruled by unworthy motives and that he did not deviate from the paths of his predecessors or overstep the legal conceptions of the Middle Ages." Finke, also a Catholic historian, the latest learned investigator of the character and career of Boniface, acknowledges the pope’s intellectual ability, but also emphasizes his pride and arrogance, his depreciation of other men, his disagreeable spirit and manner, which left him without a personal friend, his nepotism and his avarice. He hoped, said a contemporary, to live till "all his enemies were suppressed."

In strong contrast to the common judgment of Catholic historians is the sentence passed by Gregorovius. "Boniface was devoid of every apostolical virtue, a man of passionate temper, violent, faithless, unscrupulous, unforgiving, filled with ambitions and lust of worldly power." And this will be the judgment of those who feel no obligation to defend the papal institution.

In the humiliation of Boniface VIII., the state gained a signal triumph over the papacy. The proposition, that the papal pretension to supremacy over the temporal power is inconsistent with the rights of man and untaught by the law of God, was about to be defended in bold writings coming from the pens of lawyers and poets in France and Italy and, a half century later, by Wyclif. These advocates of the sovereign independence of the state in its own domain were the real descendants of those jurisconsults who, on the pIain of Roncaglia, advocated the same theory in the hearing of Frederick Barbarossa. Two hundred years after the conflict between Boniface and Philip the Fair, Luther was to fight the battle for the spiritual sovereignty of the individual man. These two principles, set aside by the priestly pride and theological misunderstanding of the Middle Ages, belong to the foundation of modern civilization.


Boniface’s Bull, Unam Sanctam.
The great importance of Boniface’s bull, Unam Sanctam, issued against Philip the Fair, Nov. 18, 1302, justifies its reproduction both in translation and the original Latin. It has rank among the most notorious deliverances of the popes and is as full of error as was Innocent VIII.’s bull issued in 1484 against witchcraft. It presents the theory of the supremacy of the spiritual power over the temporal, the authority of the papacy over princes, in its extreme form. The following is a translation: —
Boniface, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God. For perpetual remembrance: —

Urged on by our faith, we are obliged to believe and hold that there is one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. And we firmly believe and profess that outside of her there is no salvation nor remission of sins, as the bridegroom declares in the Canticles, "My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her." And this represents the one mystical body of Christ, and of this body Christ is the head, and God is the head of Christ. In it there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. For in the time of the Flood there was the single ark of Noah, which prefigures the one Church, and it was finished according to the measure of one cubit and had one Noah for pilot and captain, and outside of it every living creature on the earth, as we read, was destroyed. And this Church we revere as the only one, even as the Lord saith by the prophet, "Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog." He prayed for his soul, that is, for himself, head and body. And this body he called one body, that is, the Church, because of the single bridegroom, the unity of the faith, the sacraments, and the love of the Church. She is that seamless shirt of the Lord which was not rent but was allotted by the casting of lots. Therefore, this one and single Church has one head and not two heads,—for had she two heads, she would be a monster,—that is, Christ and Christ’s vicar, Peter and Peter’s successor. For the Lord said unto Peter, "Feed my sheep." "My," he said, speaking generally and not particularly, "these and those," by which it is to be understood that all the sheep are committed unto him. So, when the Greeks or others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they must confess that they are not of Christ’s sheep, even as the Lord says in John, "There is one fold and one shepherd."

That in her and within her power are two swords, we are taught in the Gospels, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword. For when the Apostles said, "Lo, here,"—that is in the Church,—are two swords, the Lord did not reply to the Apostles "it is too much," but "it is enough." It is certain that whoever denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter, hearkens ill to the words of the Lord which he spake, "Put up thy sword into its sheath." Therefore, both are in the power of the Church, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword; the latter is to be used for the Church, the former by the Church; the former by the hand of the priest, the latter by the hand of princes and kings, but at the nod and sufferance of the priest. The one sword must of necessity be subject to the other, and the temporal authority to the spiritual. For the Apostle said, "There is no power but of God, and the powers that be are ordained of God;" and they would not have been ordained unless one sword had been made subject to the other, and even as the lower is subjected by the other for higher things. For, according to Dionysius, it is a divine law that the lowest things are made by mediocre things to attain to the highest. For it is not according to the law of the universe that all things in an equal way and immediately should reach their end, but the lowest through the mediocre and the lower through the higher. But that the spiritual power excels the earthly power in dignity and worth, we will the more clearly acknowledge just in proportion as the spiritual is higher than the temporal. And this we perceive quite distinctly from the donation of the tithe and functions of benediction and sanctification, from the mode in which the power was received, and the government of the subjected realms. For truth being the witness, the spiritual power has the functions of establishing the temporal power and sitting in judgment on it if it should prove to be not good. 28 And to the Church and the Church’s power the prophecy of Jeremiah attests: "See, I have set thee this day over the nations and the kingdoms to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

And if the earthly power deviate from the right path, it is judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power deviate from the right path, the lower in rank is judged by its superior; but if the supreme power [the papacy] deviate, it can be judged not by man but by God alone. And so the Apostle testifies, "He which is spiritual judges all things, but he himself is judged by no man." But this authority, although it be given to a man, and though it be exercised by a man, is not a human but a divine power given by divine word of mouth to Peter and confirmed to Peter and to his successors by Christ himself, whom Peter confessed, even him whom Christ called the Rock. For the Lord said to Peter himself, "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth," etc. Whoever, therefore, resists this power so ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God, unless perchance he imagine two principles to exist, as did Manichaeus, which we pronounce false and heretical. For Moses testified that God created heaven and earth not in the beginnings but "in the beginning."



Furthermore, that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff,—this we declare, say, define, and pronounce to be altogether necessary to salvation.
Bonifatius, Episcopus, Servus servorum Dei. Ad futuram rei memoriam. 29

Unam sanctam ecclesiam catholicam et ipsam apostolicam urgente fide credere cogimur et tenere, nosque hanc frmiter credimus et simpliciter confitemur, extra quam nec salus est, nec remissio peccatorum, sponso in Canticis proclamante: Una est columba mea, perfecta mea. Una est matris suae electa genetrici suae [Cant. 6:9]. Quae unum corpus mysticum repraesentat, cujus caput Christus, Christi vero Deus. In qua unus Dominus, una fides, unum baptisma. Una nempe fuit diluvii tempore arca Noë, unam ecclesiam praefigurans, quae in uno cubito consummata unum, Noë videlicet, gubernatorem habuit et rectorem, extra quam omnia subsistentia super terram legimus fuisse deleta.

Hanc autem veneramur et unicam, dicente Domino in Propheta: Erue a framea, Deus, animam meam et de manu canis unicam meam. [Psalm 22:20.] Pro anima enim, id est, pro se ipso, capite simul oravit et corpore. Quod corpus unicam scilicet ecclesiam nominavit, propter sponsi, fidei, sacramentorum et caritatis ecclesiae unitatem. Haec est tunica illa Domini inconsutilis, quae scissa non fuit, sed sorte provenit. [John 19.]

Igitur ecclesiae unius et unicae unum corpus, unum caput, non duo capita, quasi monstrum, Christus videlicet et Christi vicarius, Petrus, Petrique successor, dicente Domino ipsi Petro: Pasce oves meas. [John 21:17.] Meas, inquit, generaliter, non singulariter has vel illas: per quod commisisse sibi intelligitur universas. Sive ergo Graeci sive alii se dicant Petro ejusque successoribus non esse commissos: fateantur necesse est, se de ovibus Christi non esse, dicente Domino in Joanne, unum ovile et unicum esse pastorem. [John 10:16.]

In hac ejusque potestate duos esse gladios, spiritualem videlicet et temporalem, evangelicis dictis instruimur. Nam dicentibus Apostolis: Ecce gladii duo hic [Luke 22:38], in ecclesia scilicet, cum apostoli loquerentur, non respondit Dominus, nimis esse, sed satis. Certe qui in potestate Petri temporalem gladium esse negat, male verbum attendit Domini proferentis: Converte gladium tuum in vaginam. [Matt. 26:52.] Uterque ergo est in potestate ecclesiae, spiritualis scilicet gladius et materialis. Sed is quidem pro ecclesia, ille vero ab ecclesia exercendus, ille sacerdotis, is manu regum et militum, sed ad nutum et patientiam sacerdotis.

Oportet autem gladium esse sub gladio, et temporalem auctoritatem spirituali subjici potestati. Nam cum dicat Apostolus: Non est potestas nisi a Deo; quae autem sunt, a Deo ordinata sunt [Rom. 13:1], non autem ordinata essent, nisi gladius esset sub gladio, et tanquam inferior reduceretur per alium in suprema. Nam secundum B. Dionysium lex dirinitatis est, infima per media in suprema reduci .... Sic de ecclesia et ecclesiastica potestate verificatur vaticinium Hieremiae [Jer. 1:10]: Ecce constitui te hodie super gentes et regna et cetera, quae sequuntur.

Ergo, si deviat terrena potestas, judicabitur a potestate spirituali; sed, si deviat spiritualis minor, a suo superiori si vero suprema, a solo Deo, non ab homine poterit judicari, testante Apostolo: Spiritualis homo judicat omnia, ipse autem a nemine judicatur. [1 Cor. 2:16.] Est autem haec auctoritas, etsi data sit homini, et exerceatur per hominem, non humana, sed potius divina potestas, ore divino Petro data, sibique suisque successoribus in ipso Christo, quem confessus fuit, petra firmata, dicente Domino ipsi Petro: Quodcunque ligaveris, etc. [Matt. 16:19.] Quicunque igitur huic potestati a Deo sic ordinatae resistit, Dei ordinationi resistit, nisi duo, sicut Manichaeus, fingat esse principia, quod falsum et haereticum judicamus, quia, testante Moyse, non in principiis, sed in principio coelum Deus creavit et terram. [Gen. 1:1.]

Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanae creaturae declaramus dicimus, definimus et pronunciamus omnino esse de necessitate salutis.

The most astounding clause of this deliverance makes subjection to the pope an essential of salvation for every creature. Some writers have made the bold attempt to relieve the language of this construction, and refer it to princes and kings. So fair and sound a Roman Catholic writer as Funk0has advocated this interpretation, alleging in its favor the close connection of the clause with the previous statements through the particle porro, furthermore, and the consideration that the French people would not have resented the assertion that obedience to the papacy is a condition of salvation. But the overwhelming majority of Catholic historians take the words in their natural meaning. 31 The expression "every human creature" would be a most unlikely one to be used as synonymous with temporal rulers. Boniface made the same assertion in a letter to the duke of Savoy, 1300, when he demanded submission for every mortal,—omnia anima. Aegidius Colonna paraphrased the bull in these words, "the supreme pontiff is that authority to which every soul must yield subjection." 32 That the mediaeval Church accepted this construction is vouched for by the Fifth Lateran Council, 1516, which, in reaffirming the bull, declared "it necessary to salvation that all the faithful of Christ be subject to the Roman pontiff." 33



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