Imatges de pÓgina
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BIOGRAPHICAL

ANECDOTES AND CHARACTERS.

CHARACTER of GREGORY VII.

[Extracted from BERINGTON'S Hiftory of the Lives of Abeillard and Heloifa.]

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ILDEBRAND, the famous Gregory the Seventh, then wore the triple crown. He had been educated at Cluni, a French monaftery of high renown, in the feverity of monattic difcipline; had then rifen to the firft dignities of the church; and during the pontificates of five fucceeding popes, had been honoured with their confidence in the difcharge of the most arduous bufinefs. It is well known what a torrent of vice had then spread itself over the face of Christendom: to ftem this, in vain had every effort been made, which honeft virtue and chriftian zeal could fuggeft. Hildebrand, with the keen fenfibility of a virtuous mind, had long viewed the fallen ftate of religion, and he afcended the papal throne, with the unanimous approbation of all orders of the Roman church, big with vast defigns of reformation. "We chufe Hildebrand for the true vicar of Chrift, (they are the words ufed at his election,) a man of much learning, of great piety, of pru dence, juftice, fortitude, and religion. He is modeft, abftemious, and chafte; regular in the difcipline of his family, hofpitable to the poor, and from his tender years

nurfed in the bofom of our holy church: to him we give thofe pow ers of fupremacy, which Peter once received from the mouth of God."

"The fource of the evils, he la mented, lay, it was evident, in the general corruption of manners, in the unbounded fway of paffion, and in the abufe of power. With an intrepi dity of foul, that perhaps was never equalled, he dared fingly to oppofe this multitudinous enemy, and he called the fovereigns of Europe to his tribunal. The motives which led him on, and the habits of stern virtue, which had fteeled his charac. ter, excluded almoft the poffibility of fufpicion, that he himself per haps was arrogating a power, which belonged not to him, and from the abufe of which even greater evils might enfue than thole he aimed to fupprefs. Minds of the wideft comprehenfion may be fometimes fo engroffed by a fingle object, as to be infenfible to the most obvious deductions, which reason in vain holds up before them. But the mif-conceptions of Gregory were those of a great man, and his errors were, in part, the errors of the age.

"To effectuate more completely the fchemes he had in view, he A 2

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conceived the bold design of making himself fole monarch of the earth. The concerns of Europe, whether ecclefiaftical or civil, would then be brought within his own cognizance; he would diftribute favours, as merit might feem to call for them; and he would difpofe of crowns, which, too often, he ob ferved, fell upon the heads of the unworthy, or of men who knew not the proper ufe of power.

"Enthroned in the chair of the humble fisherman, Gregory put his hand to the work. The fimoniacal difpofal of church livings was a crying fin, which called aloud for redrets, and he hesitated not to aim the first blow at the very root of the diforder, though it lay in the rapacious breaft of power, and in the courts of princes.-The incontinence of the clergy was another foul ftain on religion; for the fons of God feeing the daughters of men that they were fair, took to them helpmates from among all that they chofe. The ftern pontiff had no indulgence for this weaknefs of his brethren.

"During the twelve years of his reign he held eleven councils at Rome, the object of all which was, the fuppreffion of the crimes I have mentioned, or to enforce the execution of decrees or difcipline, or to confirm, by a more folemn fanc tion, the fentences of excommunication and depofition, which, in the plenitude of his fuppofed power, he had pronounced against the obitinate and refractory.

"In two fynods he compelled Berengarius, who had innovated in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, to abjure his opinions, and to fubfcribe to the ancient faith. The general oppofition, which the dogmatical feniments of this man excited, proves at least their novelty in the eleventh century.

"Studius of reconciling the long divided churches of the East and Weit, he had propofed to procced himfelf to Conftantinople, and to bring the grand controverfy to iffue. The disturbances of Europe forbad it.-He wrote to the Grecian emperor, who had implored his fuccour, that, at the head of the powers of the Weft, he would march to his affiftance; and he conjured the German Henry and William duke of Burgundy to join him in the enterprife. The idea did honour to the magnanimous fpirit of Gregory; but twenty more years were to elapfe before Europe would be prepared to fend her holy warriors against the infidel powers of the Eaftern world.

"He reprimanded Salomon king of Hungary, that he had dared to accept the investiture of his realm from the hand of the emperor, and not from Rome. Hungary, faid he, was rendered feudatory of the holy fee by Stephen, the beft of her kings, and your right of holding the fceptre is from hence.

"He wrote to the kings of Denmark, of Sweden, and of Norway, reproving what had been ill done, and urging them to the due difcharge of their duties in the fupport of religion, and in procuring the welfare of their people; but particularly he preffes on their at tention a filial obedience to the apoitolic fee.

"The murder of Stanislaus, bifhop of Cracow, he revenged on the Polith king and the other perpetra tors of the crime, in the moft fignal manner. In execration of the deed, the whole kingdom was laid under an interdict, the king deprived of all regal power, and his fubjects abfolved from their allegiance. None of the fons of those, who either aided or advifed the crime, faid he, fhall

fhall be promoted to holy orders to the end of the fourth generation.

"The kingdom of Spain, he pretended, had, from time immemorial, belonged to the Roman church; and when the count de Ronci applied to him for permiffion to retain the lands he might conquer from the Saracens, who then poffeffed them; he granted his prayer, on condition, he fhould hold them in the name of St. Peter. But I would rather, he obferved, they fhould remain in the hands of the infidels, than that Chriftians fhould poffefs them, who might refufe to do homage to the holy fee.

Alfonfus, king of Caffile, who had married the near relation of his first wife, he threatened with excommunication, if he dared to cohabit any longer with her; and he admonished him to remove the evil counsellors, who had advised him perverfely. "Weighing, with awful refolution, fays he, the value of earthly poffeffions, it is then, I think, that a bishop beft merits his name, when, in the cause of juftice, he fuffers perfccution. In obedience to the laws of heaven, I will rather be hated by the wicked than flatter their defires, and incur the anger of an irritated God."

"To Dalmatia, the ftates of Venice, and to Sardinia, he wrote in the fame tyle of a judge and their fupreme governor.-Even to the inhospitable climes of Ruffia he extended his monarchical jurifdiction. "Your fon, fays he to king Demetrius, has been with me, requesting that I would make over your kingdom to him, in the name of St. Perer. His petition appeared juft, and I granted it."

"The fons of count Raymond had quarrelled: Gregory, as the umpire between contending princes, undertook to reconcile them. "Tell

them, fays he, that, if they dif obey my orders, and continue enemies, I will deprive them of the protection of St. Peter: them and their abettors I will retrench from the fociety of Chriftians: from that moment, their arms fhll be fuccefsiefs in war, nor fhall they ever profper."

"William, our Norman conquer-' or, he treated with unusual lenity; he fpeaks of his virtues, of his moderation, and his juttice; and because he had fhewn more refpect than other prince, towards the holy fee, his regal power, he thinks, hould be more mildly handled. But when he fent his legate into England to demand an oath of fealty to himielf and fucceffors, and to urge the more regular payment of the fubfidy due to Rome, the monarch answered, that the money fhould be remitted;

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but as to the oath, faid he, 1 neither have nor will make it, because I have never promised it, nor do I find that it was ever made by my predeceffors to yours."-The pon tiff was irritated; it is his fubmiffion, and not his money, that I value, faid he; but he acquiefced : he feemed to be awed by William, and probably admired in him that boldness of fpirit, which, from the dukedom of Normandy, had raised him to the throne of England.

"The fame was not his moderation towards Philip, king of France. Hearing that he had refused to admit to their fees fome bifhops, who had been canonically chofen, he addreffed a letter to the French prelates, expreffive of his strongest indignation: "either your king, faid he, fhall ceafe from his fimoniacal conduct, or the realm of France, ftruck by a general anathema, shall withdraw from his obedience, unlefs they rather chufe to renounce their Christianity." Philip gave A 3 way

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