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A Short History of Monks and Monasteries by Alfred Wesley Wishart

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Saint Francis, the founder of the Franciscan Order, was born at Assisi,
a walled town of Umbria, in Italy. His father, Peter Bernardone, or
Bernardo, was in France on business when his son was born and named. On
his return, or, as some say, at a later time, he changed his son's name
from John to Francis. His wealth enabled him to supply Francis with the
funds necessary to maintain his leadership among gay companions.
Catholic writers are fond of describing the early years of their saints
as marked by vice in order to portray them as miracles of grace. It is
therefore uncertain whether Francis was anything worse than a happy,
joyous lad, who loved fine clothes, midnight songs and parties of
pleasure. He was certainly a very popular and courteous lad, very much
in love with the world. During a short service in the army he was taken
prisoner. After his release he fell sick, and experienced a temporary
disgust with his past life. With his renewed health his love of
festivities and dress returned.

Walking out one day, dressed in a handsome new suit, he met a poor and
ill-clad soldier; moved to pity, he exchanged his fine clothes for the
rags of the stranger. That night Francis dreamed of a splendid castle,
with gorgeous banners flying from its ramparts, and suits of armor
adorned with the cross. "These," said a voice, "are for you and for your
soldiers." We are told that this was intended to be taken spiritually
and was prophetic of the Begging Friars, but Francis misunderstood the
dream, taking it as a token of military achievements. The next day he
set off mounted on a fine horse, saying as he left, "I shall be a great
prince." But his weak frame could not endure such rough usage and he was
taken sick at Spoleto. Again he dreamed. This time the vision revealed
his misinterpretation of the former message, and so, on his recovery, he
returned somewhat crestfallen to Assisi, where he gave his friends a
farewell feast. Thus at the threshold of his career we note two
important facts,--disease and dreams. All through his life he had these
fits of sickness, attended by dreams; and throughout his life he was
guided by these visions. Neander remarks: "It would be a matter of some
importance if we could be more exactly informed with regard to the
nature of his disease and the way in which it affected his physical and
mental constitution. Perhaps it might assist us to a more satisfactory
explanation of the eccentric vein in his life, that singular mixture of
religious enthusiasm bordering insanity; but we are left wholly in
the dark."

Francis now devoted himself to his father's business, but dreams and
visions continued to distress him. His spiritual fervor increased daily.
He grieved for the poor and gave himself to the care of the sick,
especially the lepers. During a visit to Rome he became so sad at the
sight of desperate poverty that he impetuously flung his bag of gold
upon the altar with such force as to startle the worshipers. He went out
from the church, exchanged his clothes for a beggar's rags, and stood
for hours asking alms among a crowd of filthy beggars.

But though Francis longed to associate himself in some way with the
lowest classes, he could obtain no certain light upon his duty. While
prostrated before the crucifix, in the dilapidated church of St.
Damian, in Assisi, he heard a voice saying, "Francis, seest thou not
that my house is in ruins? Go and restore it for me." Again it is said
that this pointed to his great life-work of restoring spiritual power to
the church, but he again accepted the message in a literal sense.
Delighted to receive a command so specific, the kneeling Francis
fervently responded, "With good will, Lord," and gladly entered upon the
task of repairing the church of St. Damian. "Having fortified himself by
the sign of the cross," he took a horse and a valuable bundle of goods
belonging to his father and sold both at Falingo. Instead of turning the
proceeds over to his father, Francis offered them to the priest of St.
Damian, who, fearing the father's displeasure, refused to accept the
stolen funds. The young zealot, "who had utter contempt for money,"
threw the gold on one of the windows of the church. Such is the story as
gleaned from Catholic sources. The heretics, who have criticised Francis
for this conduct, are answered by the following ingenious but dangerous
sophistry: "It is certainly quite contrary to the ordinary law of
justice for one man to take for himself the property of another; but if
Almighty God, to whom all things belong, and for whom we are only
stewards, is pleased to dispense with this His own law in a particular
case, and to bestow what He has hitherto given to one upon another, He
confers at the same time a valid title to the gift, and it is no robbery
in him who has received it to act upon that title."

Fearing his father's wrath, Francis hid himself in the priest's room,
and contemporary authors assure us that when the irate parent entered,
Francis was miraculously let into the wall. Wading (1731 A.D.) says the
hollow place may still be seen in the wall.

After a month, the young hero, confident of his courage to face his
father, came forth pale and weak, only to be stoned as a madman by the
people. His father locked him up in the house, but the tenderer
compassion of his mother released him from his bonds, and he found
refuge with the priest. When his father demanded his return, Francis
tore off his clothes and, as he flung the last rag at the feet of his
astounded parent, he exclaimed: "Peter Bernardone was my father; I have
but one father, He that is in Heaven." The crowd was deeply moved,
especially when they saw before them the hair shirt which Francis had
secretly worn under his garments. Gathering up all that was left to him
of his son, the father sadly departed, leaving the young enthusiast to
fight his own way through the world. Many times after that, the parents,
who tenderly watched over the lad in sickness and prayed for his
recovery, saw their beloved son leading his barefooted beggars through
the streets of his native town. But he will never more sing his gay
songs underneath their roof or sally forth with his merry companions in
search of pleasure. Francis was given a laborer's cloak, upon which he
made the sign of a cross with some mortar, "thus manifesting what he
wished to be, a half-naked poor one, and a crucified man." Such was the
saint, in 1206, in his twenty-fifth year.

Francis now went forth, singing sacred songs, begging his food, and
helping the sick and the poor. He was employed "in the vilest affairs of
the scullery" in a neighboring monastery. At this time he clothed
himself in the monk's dress, a short tunic, a leathern girdle, shoes and
a staff. He waited upon lepers and kissed their disgusting ulcers. Yet
more, he instantly cured a dreadfully cancerous face by kissing it. He
ate the most revolting messes, reproaching himself for recoiling in
nausea. Thus the pauper of Jesus Christ conquered his pride and
luxurious tastes.

Francis finally returned to repair the church of St. Damian. The people
derided, even stoned him, but he had learned to rejoice in abuse. They
did not know of what stern stuff their fellow-townsman was made. He bore
all their insults meekly, and persevered in his work, carrying stones
with his own hands and promising the blessing of God on all who helped
him in his joyful task. His kindness and smiles melted hatred; derision
turned to admiration. "Many were moved to tears," says his biographers,
"while Francis worked on with cheerful simplicity, begging his
materials, stone by stone, and singing psalms about the streets."

Two years after his conversion, or in 1208, while kneeling in the church
of Sta. Maria dei Angeli, he heard the words of Christ: "Provide neither
gold nor silver nor brass in your purses, neither two coats nor shoes
nor staff, but go and preach." Afterwards, when the meaning of these
words was explained to him, he exclaimed: "This is what I seek for!" He
threw away his wallet, took off his shoes, and replaced his leather
girdle by a cord. His hermit's tunic appearing too delicate, he put on a
coarse, gray robe, reaching to his feet, with sleeves that came down
over his fingers; to this he added a hood, covering his head and face.
Clothing of this character he wore to the end of his life. This was in
1208, which is regarded as the first year of the Order of St. Francis.
The next year Francis gave this habit to those who had joined him.

So the first and chief of Franciscan friars, unattended by mortal
companions, went humbly forth to proclaim the grandeur and goodness of a
God, who, according to monastic teaching, demands penance and poverty of
his creatures as the price of his highest favor and richest blessings.
Nearly seven hundred long years have passed since that eventful day, but
the begging Brothers of Francis still traverse those Italian highways
over which the saint now journeyed with meek and joyous spirit.

"He was not yet far distant from his rising
Before he had begun to make the earth
Some comfort from his mighty virtue feel.
For he in youth his father's wrath incurred
For certain Dame, to whom, as unto death,
The gate of pleasure no one doth unlock;
And was before his spiritual court
_Et coram patre_ unto her united;
Then day by day more fervently he loved her.

* * * * *

But that too darkly I may not proceed,
Francis and Poverty for these two lovers
Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse."


In 1210, with eleven companions, his entire band, Francis went to Rome
to secure papal sanction. Pope Innocent III. was walking in a garden of
the Lateran Palace when a beggar, dusty and pale, confronted him.
Provoked at being disturbed in his thoughts, he drove him away. That
night it was the pope's turn to dream. He saw a falling church supported
by a poor and miserable man. Of course, that man was Francis. Four or
five years later the pope will dream the same thing again. Then the poor
man will be Dominic. In the morning he sent for the monk whom he had
driven from him as a madman the day before. Standing before his holiness
and the college of cardinals, Francis pleaded his cause in a touching
and eloquent parable. His quiet, earnest manner and clear blue eyes
impressed every one. The pope did not give him formal sanction
however--this was left for Honorius III., November 29, 1223--but he
verbally permitted him to establish his order and to continue his

Several times Francis set out to preach to the Mohammedans, but failed
to reach his destination. He finally visited Egypt during the siege of
Damietta, and at the risk of his life he went forth to preach to the
sultan encamped on the Nile. He is described by an eye-witness "as an
ignorant and simple man, beloved of God and men." His courage and
personal magnetism won the Mohammedan's sympathy but not his soul.
Although Francis courted martyrdom, and offered to walk through fire to
prove the truth of his message, the Oriental took it all too
good-naturedly to put him to the test, and dismissed him with kindness.

Francis was a great lover of birds. The swallows he called his sisters.
A bird in the cage excited his deepest sympathy. It is said he sometimes
preached to the feathered songsters. Longfellow has cast one of these
homilies into poetic form:

"O brother birds, St. Francis said,
Ye come to me and ask for bread,
But not with bread alone to-day
Shall ye be fed and sent away.

* * * * *

Oh, doubly are ye bound to praise
The great Creator in your lays;
He giveth you your plumes of down,
Your crimson hoods, your cloaks of brown.

He giveth you your wings to fly
And breathe a purer air on high,
And careth for you everywhere,
Who for yourselves so little care."

Like all ascetics, Francis was tempted in visions. One cold night he
fancied he was in a home of his own, with his wife and children around
him. Rushing out of his cell he heaped up seven hills of snow to
represent a wife, four sons and daughters, and two servants. "Make
haste," he cried, "provide clothing for them lest they perish with the
cold," and falling upon the imaginary group, he dispelled the vision of
domestic bliss in the cold embrace of the winter's snow. Mrs. Oliphant
points out the fact that, unlike most of the hermits and monks, Francis
dreams not of dancing girls, but of the pure love of a wife and the
modest joys of a home and children. She beautifully says: "Had he, for
one sweet, miserable moment, gone back to some old imagination and seen
the unborn faces shine beside the never-lighted fire? But Francis does
not say a word of any such trial going on in his heart. He dissipates
the dream by the chill touch of the snow, by still nature hushing the
fiery thoughts, by sudden action, so violent as to stir the blood in his
veins; and then the curtain of prayer and silence falls over him, and
the convent walls close black around."

The experience of the saint on Mount Alverno deserves special
consideration, not merely on account of its singularity, but also
because it affords a striking illustration of the difficulties one
encounters in trying to get at the truth in monastic narratives. Francis
had retired to Mount Alverno, a wild and rugged solitude, to meditate
upon the Lord's passion. For days he had been almost distracted with
grief and holy sympathy. Suddenly a seraph with six wings stood before
him. When the heavenly being departed, the marks of the Crucified One
appeared upon the saint's body. St. Bonaventure says: "His feet and
hands were seen to be perforated by nails in their middle; the heads of
the nails, round and black, were on the inside of the hands, and on the
upper parts of the feet; the points, which were rather long, and which
came out on the opposite sides, were turned and raised above the flesh,
from which they came out." There also appeared on his right side a red
wound, which often oozed a sacred blood that stained his tunic.

This remarkable story has provoked considerable discussion. One's
conclusions respecting its credibility will quite likely be determined
by his general view of numerous similar narratives, and by the degree of
his confidence in the value of human testimony touching such matters.
The incongruities and palpable impostures that seriously impair the
general reliability of monkish historians render it difficult to
distinguish between the truths and errors in their writings.

Some authorities hold that the marks did not appear on St. Francis, and
that the story is without foundation. But Roman writers bring forward
the three early biographers of Francis who claim that the marks did
appear. Pope Alexander IV. publicly averred that he saw the wounds, and
pronounced it heresy to doubt the report. Popes Benedict XI., Sixtus
IV., and Sixtus V. consecrated and canonized the impressions by
instituting a particular festival in their honor. Numerous persons are
said to have seen the marks and to have kissed the nails, after the
death of the saint. Singularly enough, the Dominicans were inclined to
regard the story as a piece of imposture designed to exalt Francis
above Dominic.

But, if it be admitted that the marks did appear, as it is not
improbable, how shall the phenomenon be explained? At least four
theories are held: 1. Fraud; 2. The irresponsible self-infliction of the
wounds; 3. Physical effects due to mental suggestion or some other
psychic cause; 4. Miracle.

1. The temptation is strong to claim a fraud, especially because the
same witnesses who testify to the truth of the tale, also relate such
monstrous, incredible stories, that one is almost forced to doubt
either their integrity or their sanity. But there is no evidence in
support of so serious an indictment. After showing that signs and
portents attend every crisis in history, Mrs. Oliphant says: "Every
great spiritual awakening has been accompanied by phenomena quite
incomprehensible, which none but the vulgar mind can attribute to
trickery and imposture;" but still she herself remains in doubt about
the whole story.

2. Although Mosheim uses the term "fraud," it would seem that he means
rather the irresponsible self-infliction of the wounds. He says: "As he
[Francis] was a most superstitious and fanatical mortal, it is
undoubtedly evident that he imprinted on himself the holy wounds. Paul's
words, 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,' may have
suggested the idea of the fraud." The notion certainly prevailed that
Francis was a sort of second Christ, and a book was circulated showing
how he might be compared to Christ in forty particulars. There are many
things in his biography which, if true, indicate that Francis yearned to
imitate literally the experiences of his Lord.

3. Numerous experiments, conducted by scientific men, have established
the fact that red marks, swellings, blisters, bleeding and wounds have
been produced by mental suggestion. Bjoernstrom, in his work on
"Hypnotism," after recounting various experiments showing the effect of
the imagination on the body, says, respecting the _stigmata_ of the
Middle Ages: "Such marks can be produced by hypnotism without deceit and
without the miracles of the higher powers." Prof. Fisher declares:
"There is no room for the suspicion of deceit. The idea of a strange
physical effect of an abnormal state is more plausible." Trench thinks
this is a reasonable view in the case of a man like Francis, "with a
temperament so irrepressible, of an organization so delicate, permeated
through and through with the anguish of the Lord's sufferings,
passionately and continually dwelling on the one circumstance of his
crucifixion." But others, despairing of any rational solution, cut the
Gordian knot and declare that "the kindest thing to think about Francis
is that he was crazy."

4. Roman Catholics naturally reject all explanations that exclude the
supernatural, for, as Father Candide Chalippe affirms: "Catholics ought
to be cautious in adopting anything coming from heretics; their opinions
are almost always contagious." He therefore holds fast to the miracles
in the lives of the saints, not only because he accepts the evidence,
but because he believes these wonderful stories "add great resplendency
to the merits of the saints, and, consequently, give great weight to the
example they afford us."

It is altogether probable that each one will continue to view the whole
affair as his predispositions and religious convictions direct; some
unconvinced by traditionary evidence and undismayed by charges of
heresy; others devoutly accepting every monkish miracle and marveling at
the obstinacy of unbelief.

Two years after the event just described Francis was carried on a cot
outside the walls of Assisi, where, lifting his hands he blessed his
native city. Some few days later, on October 4, 1226, he passed away,
exclaiming, "Welcome, Sister Death!"

Whatever we may think of the legends that cluster about his life,
Francis himself must not be held responsible for all that has been
written about him. He himself was no phantom or mythical being, but a
real, earnest man who, according to his light, tried to serve his
generation. As he himself said: "A man is just so much and no more as he
is in the sight of God." "Francis appears to me," says Forsyth, "a
genuine, original hero, independent, magnanimous, incorruptible. His
powers seemed designed to regenerate society; but taking a wrong
direction, they sank men into beggars." Through the mist of tradition
the holy beggar and saintly hero shines forth as a loving, gentle soul,
unkind to none but himself. However his biography may be regarded, his
life illustrates the beauty and power of voluntary renunciation,--the
fountain not only of religion but of all true nobility of character. He
may have been ignorant, perhaps grossly so, as Mosheim thinks, but
nevertheless he merits our highest praise for striving honestly to keep
his vow of poverty in the days when worldly monks disgraced their sacred
profession by greed, ambition, and lustful indulgence.

_The Franciscan Orders_

The orders which Francis founded were of three classes:

1. Franciscan Friars or Order of Friars Minor, called also Gray or
Begging Friars. The year in which Francis took the habit, 1208, is
reckoned the first year of the order, but the Rule was not given
until 1210.

This Rule, which has not been preserved, was very simple, and doubtless
consisted of a group of gospel passages, bearing on the vow of poverty,
together with a few precepts about the occupations of the brethren. The
pope was not asked to sanction the Rule but only to give his approbation
to the missions of the little band. Some of the cardinals expressed
their doubts about the mode of life provided for in the rules. "But,"
replied Giovanni di San Paolo, "if we hold that to observe gospel
perfection and make profession of it is an irrational and impossible
innovation, are we not convicted of blasphemy against Christ, the Author
of the Gospel?"

There was also the Rule of 1221, which makes an intermediate stage
between the first Rule and that which was approved by the pope November
29, 1223. The Rule of 1210 was thoroughly Franciscan. It was the
expression of the passionate, fervent soul of Francis. It was the cry of
the human heart for God and purity. The Rule of 1223 shows that the
church had begun to direct the movement. Sabatier says of these two
rules: "At the bottom of it all is the antinome of law and love. Under
the reign of law we are the mercenaries of God, bound down to an irksome
task, but paid a hundred-fold, and with an indisputable right to our
wages." Such was the conception underlying the Rule of 1223. That of
1210 is thus described: "Under the rule of love we are the sons of God,
and co-workers with Him; we give ourselves to Him without bargaining and
without expectation; we follow Jesus, not because this is well, but
because we cannot do otherwise, because we feel that He has loved us and
we love Him in our turn."

Francis would not allow his monks to be called Friars; he preferred
Friars Minor or Little Brothers as a more humble designation[F].

[Footnote F: Appendix, Note F.]

Ten years after the founding of the order, it is claimed, over five
thousand friars assembled in Rome for the general chapter. The monks
lodged in huts made of matting and hence this convention has been called
the "Chapter of Mats." The order was strongest numerically about fifty
years after the death of Francis, when it numbered eight thousand
convents and two hundred thousand monks. Many of its members were highly
distinguished, such as St. Bonaventura, Duns Scotus, Roger Bacon and
Cardinal Ximenes.

2. Nuns of St. Clara or Poor Claras, dates from 1212, but it did not
receive its rule from Francis until 1224. The order was founded in the
following manner: Clara, a daughter of a noble family, was distinguished
for her beauty and by her love for the poor. Francis often met her, and,
in the language of his biographer, "exhorted her to a contempt of the
world and poured into her ears the sweetness of Christ." Guided, no
doubt, by his counsel, she stole one night from her home to a
neighboring church where Francis and his beggars were assembled. Her
long and beautiful hair was cut off, while a coarse woolen gown was
substituted for her own rich garments. Standing in the midst of the
ragged monks, she renounced the dregs of Babylon and a wicked world,
pledging her future to the monastic institution. Out from this little
church into the darkness of the night, Francis led this beautiful girl
of seventeen years and committed her to a Benedictine nunnery. Later on
Clara became the abbess of a Franciscan convent at St. Damian, and the
Sisterhood of St. Clara was established. It was an order of sadness and
penitential tears. It is said that Clara never but once (when she
received the blessing of the pope) lifted her eyelids so that the color
of her eyes might be discerned.

3. The Third Order, called also "Brotherhood of Penitence," was composed
of lay men and women. So many husbands and wives were desirous of
leaving their homes in order to enter the monastic state, that Francis,
not wishing to break up happy marriages, so it is said, was compelled to
give these enthusiasts some sort of a rule by which they might
compromise between their established life and the monastic career. This
state of things led to the formation, in 1221, of the Third Order of
St. Francis, or the Order of Tertiaries, in relation to the Friars Minor
and the Poor Claras. Sabatier says this generally-accepted date is
wrong; that it is impossible to fix any date, for that which came to be
known as the Third Order was born of the enthusiasm excited by the
preaching of Francis soon after his return from Rome in 1210. Candidates
for admission into this order were required to make profession of all
the orthodox truths, special care being employed to guard against the
intrusion of heretics. Days of fasting and abstinence were enjoined, and
members were urged to avoid profanity, the theater, dancing and
law-suits. The order met with astonishing success, cardinals, bishops,
emperors, empresses, kings and queens, gladly enrolling themselves among
the followers of St. Francis.

_Dominic de Guzman, 1170-1221 A.D._

Half-way between Osma and Aranda in Old Castile, Spain, is a little
village known as "the fortunate Calahorra." Here was the castle of the
Guzmans, where Dominic was born. His family was of high rank and
character, a noble house of warriors, statesmen and saints. If we accept
the legends, his greatness was foreshadowed. Before his birth, his
mother dreamed she saw her son under the figure of a black-and-white
dog, with a torch in his mouth. "A true dream," says Milman, "for he
will scent out heresy and apply the torch to the faggots;" but, as will
be seen later, this observation does not rest on undisputed evidence.





In the year 1191, when Spain was desolated by a terrible famine, Dominic
was just finishing his theological studies. He gave away his money and
sold his clothes, his furniture and even his precious manuscripts, that
he might relieve distress. When his companions expressed astonishment
that he should sell his books, Dominic replied: "Would you have me study
off these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger?" This noble
utterance is cherished by his admirers as the first saying from his lips
that has passed to posterity.

Dominic was educated in the schools of Palencia, afterwards a
university, where he devoted six years to the arts and four to theology.
In 1194, when twenty-five years of age, Dominic became a canon regular,
at Osma, under the rule of St. Augustine. Nine years after he
accompanied his bishop, Don Diego, on an embassy for the king of
Castile. When they crossed the Pyrenees they found themselves in an
atmosphere of heresy. The country was filled with preachers of strange
doctrines, who had little respect for Dominic, his bishop, or their
Roman pontiff. The experiences of this journey inspired in Dominic a
desire to aid in the extermination of heresy. He was also deeply
impressed by an important and significant observation. Many of these
heretical preachers were not ignorant fanatics, but well-trained and
cultured men. Entire communities seemed to be possessed by a desire for
knowledge and for righteousness. Dominic clearly perceived that only
preachers of a high order, capable of advancing reasonable argument,
could overthrow the Albigensian heresy.

It would be impossible, in a few words, to tell the whole story of this
Albigensian movement. Undoubtedly the term stood for a variety of
theological opinions, all of which were in opposition to the teachings
of Rome. "From the very invectives of their enemies," says Hallam, "and
the acts of the Inquisition, it is manifest that almost every shade of
heterodoxy was found among these dissidents, till it vanished in a
simple protestation against the wealth and tyranny of the clergy." Many
of the tenets of these enthusiasts were undoubtedly borrowed from the
ancient Manicheism, and would be pronounced heretical by every modern
evangelical denomination. But associated with those holding such
doctrines were numerous reformers, whose chief offense consisted in
their incipient Protestantism. However heretical any of these sects may
have been, it is impossible to make them out enemies to the social
order, except as all opponents of established religious traditions
create disturbance. "What these bodies held in common," says Hardwick,
"and what made them equally the prey of the inquisitor, was their
unwavering belief in the corruption of the medieval church, especially
as governed by the Roman pontiffs."

In 1208 Dominic visited Languedoc a second time, and on his way he
encountered the papal legates returning in pomp to Rome, foiled in their
attempt to crush this growing schism. To them he administered his famous
rebuke: "It is not the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of
retainers, and richly-houseled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that
the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic
humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness.
Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real
sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth." It is extremely
unfortunate for the reputation of Dominic that he ever departed from the
spirit of these noble words, which so clearly state the conditions of
true religious progress.

Dominic now gathered about him a few men of like spirit and began his
task of preaching down heresy. But "the enticing words of man's wisdom"
failed to win the Albigensians from what they believed to be the words
of God. So, unmindful of his admonition to the papal legates, Dominic
obtained permission of Innocent III. to hold courts, before which he
might summon all persons suspected of heresy. When eloquence and courts
failed, the pope let loose the "dogs of war." Then followed twenty years
of frightful carnage, during which hundreds of thousands of heretics
were slain, and many cities were laid waste by fire and sword. "This was
to punish a fanaticism," says Hallam, "ten thousand times more innocent
than their own, and errors which, according to the worst imputations,
left the laws of humanity and the peace of social life unimpaired."
Peace was concluded in 1229, but the persecution of heretics went on.

What part Dominic personally had in these bloody proceedings is
litigated history. His admirers strive to rescue his memory from the
charge that he was "a cruel and bloody man." It is argued that while the
pope and temporal princes carried on the sanguinary war against the
heretics, Dominic confined himself to pleading with them in a spirit of
true Christian love. He was a minister of mercy, not an avenging angel,
sword in hand. It has to be conceded that the constant tradition of the
Dominican order that Dominic was the first Inquisitor, whether he bore
the title or not, rests upon good authority. But what was the nature of
the office as held by the saint? As far as Dominic was concerned, it is
argued by his friends that the office "was limited to the
_reconciliation_ of heretics and had nothing to do with their
_punishment_." It is also claimed that while Dominic did impose
penances, in some cases public flagellation, no evidence can be produced
showing that he ever delivered one heretic to the flames. Those who were
burned were condemned by secular courts, and on the ground that they
were not only heretics but enemies of the public peace and perpetrators
of enormous crimes.

But while it may not be proved that Dominic himself passed the sentence
of death or applied the torch to the faggots with his own hand, he is by
no means absolved from all complicity in those frightful slaughters, or
from all responsibility for the subsequent establishment of the Holy
Inquisition. The principles governing the Inquisition were practically
those upon which Dominic proceeded; the germs of the later atrocities
are to be found in his aims and methods. By what a narrow margin does
Dominic escape the charge of cruelty when it is boasted "that he
resolutely insisted on no sentence being carried out until all means had
been tried by which the conversion of a prisoner could be effected."
Another statement also contains an inkling of a significant fact,
namely, that secular judges and princes were constantly under the
influence of the monks and other ecclesiastical persons, who incited
them to wage war, and to massacre, in the Albigensian war as in other
crusades against heresy. No word from Dominic can be produced indicating
that he remonstrated with the pope, or that he tried to stop the
crusade. In a few instances he seems to have interceded with the crazed
soldiery for the lives of women and children. But he did not oppose the
bloody crusade itself. He was constantly either with the army or
following in its wake. He often sat on the bench at the trial of
dissenters. He remained the life-long friend of Simon de Montfort, the
cruel agent of the papacy, and he blessed the marriage of his sons and
baptized his daughter. Special courts for trying heretics were
established, previous to the more complete organization of the
Inquisition, and in these he held a commission.

The Holy Office of the Inquisition was made a permanent tribunal by
Gregory IX., in 1233, twelve years after the death of Dominic, and
curiously enough, in the same year in which he was canonized. The
Catholic Bollandists claim that although the _title_ of Inquisitor was
of later date than Dominic, yet the _office_ was in existence, and that
the splendor of the Holy Inquisition owes its beginning to that saint.
Certain it is that the administration of the Inquisition was mainly in
the hands of Dominican monks.

In view of all these facts, Professor Allen is justified in his
conclusions respecting Dominic and his share in the persecution of
heretics: "Whatever his own sweet and heavenly spirit according to
Catholic eulogists, his name is a synonym of bleak and intolerant
fanaticism. It is fatally associated with the blackest horrors of the
crusade against the Albigenses, as well as with the infernal skill and
deadly machinery of the Inquisition."

In 1214, Dominic established himself, with six followers, in the house
of Peter Cellani, a rich resident of Toulouse. Eleven years of active
and public life had passed since the Subprior of Osma had forsaken the
quietude of the monastery. He now resumed his life of retirement and
subjected himself and his companions to the monastic rules of prayer and
penance. But the restless spirit of the man could not long remain
content with the seclusion and inactivity of a monk's life. The scheme
of establishing an order of Preaching Friars began to assume definite
shape in his mind. He dreamed of seven stars enlightening the world,
which represented himself and his six friends. The final result of his
deliberations was the organization of his order, and the appearance of
Dominic in the city of Rome, in 1215, to secure the approval of the
pope, Innocent III. Although some describe his reception as "most
cordial and flattering," yet it required supernatural interference to
induce the pope to grant even his approval of the new order. It was not
formally confirmed until 1216 by Honorius III.

Dominic now made his headquarters at Rome, although he traveled
extensively in the interests of his growing brotherhood of monks. He was
made Master of the Sacred Palace, an important official post, including
among its functions the censorship of the press. It has ever since been
occupied by members of the Dominican order.

Throughout his life Dominic is said to have zealously practiced rigorous
self-denial. He wore a hair shirt, and an iron chain around his loins,
which he never laid aside, even in sleep. He abstained from meat and
observed stated fasts and periods of silence. He selected the worst
accommodations and the meanest clothes, and never allowed himself the
luxury of a bed. When traveling, he beguiled the journey with spiritual
instruction and prayers. As soon as he passed the limits of towns and
villages, he took off his shoes, and, however sharp the stones or
thorns, he trudged on his way barefooted. Rain and other discomforts
elicited from his lips nothing but praises to God.

Death came at the age of fifty-one and found him exhausted with the
austerities and labors of his eventful career. He had reached the
convent of St. Nicholas, at Bologna, weary and sick with a fever. He
refused the repose of a bed and bade the monks lay him on some sacking
stretched upon the ground. The brief time that remained to him was
spent in exhorting his followers to have charity, to guard their
humility, and to make their treasure out of poverty. Lying in ashes upon
the floor he passed away at noon, on the sixth of August, 1221. He was
canonized by Gregory IX., in 1234.

_The Dominican Orders_

The origin of the Order of the Preaching Friars has already been
described. It is not necessary to dwell upon the constitution of this
order, because in all essential respects it was like that of the
Franciscans. The order is ruled by a general and is divided into
provinces, governed by provincials. The head of each house is called a
prior. Dominic adopted the rules laid down by St. Augustine, because the
pope ordered him to follow some one of the older monastic codes, but he
also added regulations of his own.

Soon after the founding of the order, bands of monks were sent out to
Paris, to Rome, to Spain and to England, for the purpose of planting
colonies in the chief seats of learning. The order produced many
eminent scholars, some of whom were Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus,
Echard, Tauler and Savonarola.

As among the Franciscans, there was also an Order of Nuns, founded in
1206, and a Third Order, called the Militia of Jesus Christ, which was
organized in 1218.

_The Success of the Mendicant Orders_

In 1215, Innocent III. being pope, the Lateran council passed the
following law: "Whereas the excessive diversity of these [monastic]
institutions begets confusion, no new foundations of this sort must be
formed for the future; but whoever wishes to become a monk must attach
himself to some of the already existing rules." This same pope approved
the two Mendicant orders, urging them, it is true, to unite themselves
to one of the older orders; but, nevertheless, they became distinct
organizations, eclipsing all previous societies in their achievements.
The reason for this disregard of the Lateran decree is doubtless to be
found in the alarming condition of religious affairs at that time, and
in the hope held out to Rome by the Mendicants, of reforming the
monasteries and crushing the heretics.

The failure of the numerous and varied efforts to reform the monastic
institution and the danger to the church arising from the unwonted
stress laid upon poverty by different schismatic religious societies,
necessitated the adoption of radical measures by the church to preserve
its influence. At this juncture the Mendicant friars appeared. The
conditions demanded a modification of the monastic principle which had
hitherto exalted a life of retirement. Seclusion in the cloister was no
longer possible in the view of the remarkable changes in religious
thought and practice.

Innocent III. was wise enough to perceive the immediate utility of the
new societies based upon claims to extraordinary humility and poverty.
The Mendicant orders were, in themselves, not only a rebuke to the
luxurious indolence and shameful laxity of the older orders, but when
sanctioned by the church, the existence of the new societies attested
Rome's desire to maintain the highest and the purest standards of
monastic life. Hence, the Preaching Friars were permitted to reproach
the clergy and the monks for their vices and corruptions.

"The effect of such a band of missionaries," says John Stuart Mill,
"must have been great in rousing and feeding dormant devotional
feelings. They were not less influential in regulating those feelings,
and turning into the established Catholic channels those vagaries of
private enthusiasm which might well endanger the church, since they
already threatened society itself."

Two novel monastic features, therefore, now appear for the first time:
1. The substitution of itineracy for the seclusion of the cloister; and
2. The abolition of endowments.

1. The older orders had their traveling missionaries, but the general
practice was to remain shut up within the monastic walls. The Mendicants
at the start had no particular abiding place, but were bound to travel
everywhere, preaching and teaching. It was distinctly the mission of
these monks to visit the camps, the towns, cities and villages, the
market places, the universities, the homes and the churches, to preach
and to minister to the sick and the poor. They neither loved the
seclusion of the cell nor sought it. Theirs to tramp the dusty roads,
with their capacious bags, begging and teaching. Only by this itinerant
method could the people be reached and the preachers of heresy be

2. One of the chief sources of strength in the heretical sects was the
justness of their attack upon the Catholic monastic orders, whose
immense riches belied their vows of poverty. The heretics practiced
austerities and adopted a simplicity of life that won the hearts of the
people, by reason of its contrast to the loose habits of the monks and
clergy. Since it was impossible to reform the older orders, it became
absolutely essential to the success of the Mendicants that they should
rigorously respect the neglected discipline. As the abuse of the vow of
poverty was particularly common, the Mendicants naturally
emphasized this vow.

While it is true that a begging monk was by no means unknown, yet now,
for the first time, was the practice of mendicity formally adopted by
entire orders. Owing to the excessive multiplication of mendicant
societies, Pope Gregory X., at a general council held at Lyons in 1272,
attempted to check the growing evil. The number of Mendicant orders was
confined to four, viz., the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites
and the Augustinians or Hermits of Augustine. The Council of Trent
confined mendicity to the Observantines and Capuchins, since the other
societies had practically abandoned their original interpretation of
their vow of poverty and had acquired permanent property.

When Francis tried to enforce the rule of poverty, his rigor gave rise
to most serious dissensions, which began in his own lifetime and ended
after his death in open schism. Some of his followers were not pleased
with his views on that subject. They resisted his extreme strictness,
and after his death they continued to advocate the holding of property.
The popes tried to settle the quarrel, but ever and anon it broke out
afresh with volcanic fierceness. They finally interpreted the rule of
poverty to mean that the friars could not hold property in their own
names, but they might enjoy its use. Under this interpretation of the
rule, the beggars soon became very rich. Matthew of Paris said: "The
friars who have been founded hardly forty years have built even in the
present day in England residences as lofty as the palaces of our kings."
But the better element among the Franciscans refused to consent to such
a palpable evasion of the rule. A portion of this class separated
themselves from the Franciscans, rejected their authority, and formed a
new sect called the _Fratricelli_, or Little Brothers. It is very
important to keep the history of this name clearly in mind, for it
frequently appears in the Reformation period and has been the cause of
much misunderstanding. The word "Fratricelli" came to be a term of
derision applied to any one affecting the dress or the habits of the
monks. When heretical sects arose, it was applied to them as a stigma,
but it was used first by a sect of rigid Franciscans who deserted their
order, adopted this name as their own, and exulted in its use. The
quarrel among the monks led to a variety of complications and is
intricately interwoven with the political and religious history of the
thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. "These rebellious
Franciscans," says Mosheim, "though fanatical and superstitious in some
respects, deserve an eminent rank among those who prepared the way for
the Reformation in Europe, and who excited in the minds of the people a
just aversion to Rome."

The Mendicants were especially active in educational work. This is to be
attributed to several causes. Unquestionably the general and increasing
interest in theological doctrines and the craving for knowledge affected
the monastic orders. Europe was just arousing from her medieval
slumbers. The faint rays of the Reformation dawn were streaking the
horizon. The intellect as well as the conscience was touched by the
Spirit of God. The revolt against moral iniquity was often accompanied
by skepticism concerning the authority and dogmas of the church.
Questions were being asked that ignorant monks could not answer. Too
long had the church ignored these symptoms of the approach of a new
order of things. The church was forced to meet the heretics on their own
ground, to offset the example of their simplicity and purity of life by
exalting the neglected standards of self-denial, and to silence them, if
possible, by exposing their errors. Then came the Franciscans, with
their austere simplicity and their insistence upon poverty. Then also
appeared the Dominicans, or as they were called, "The Watch-dogs of the
Church," who not only barked the church awake, but tried to devour
the heretics.

Francis halted for some time before giving encouragement to educational
enterprises. A life of devotion and prayer attracted him, because, as he
said, "Prayer purifies the affections, strengthens us in virtue, and
unites us to the sovereign good." But, he went on, "Preaching renders
the feet of the spiritual man dusty; it is an employment which
dissipates and distracts, and which causes regular discipline to be
relaxed." After consulting Brother Sylvester and Sister Clara, he
decided to adopt their counsel and entered upon a ministry of preaching.
The example and success of the Dominicans probably inspired the
Franciscans to give themselves more and more to intellectual work.

Both orders received appointments in all the leading universities, but
they did not gain this ascendency without a severe conflict. The regular
professors and the clergy were jealous of them for various causes, and
resisted them at every point. The quarrel between the Dominicans and the
University of Paris is the most famous of these struggles. It began in
1228 and did not end until 1259. The Dominicans claimed the right to two
theological professorships. One had been taken from them, and a law was
passed that no religious order should have what these friars demanded.
The Dominicans rebelled and the University passed sentences of
expulsion. Innocent IV., wishing to become master of Italy, sided with
the University, but the next month he was dead,--in answer to their
prayers, said the Dominicans, but rumor hinted an even blacker cause.
The thirty-one years of the struggle dragged wearily on, disturbed by
papal bulls, appeals, pamphlets and university slogans. At last
Alexander IV., in 1255, decided that the Dominicans might have the
second professorship and also any other they thought proper. The noise
of conflict now grew louder and boded ill for the peace of the church.
The pulpits flashed forth fiery utterances. The monks were assailed in
every quarter. William of Amour published his essay on "The Perils of
the Last Times," in which he claimed that the perilous times predicted
by the Apostle Paul were now fulfilled by these begging friars. He
exposed their iniquities and bitterly complained of their arrogance and
vice. His book was burned and its author banished. Although meaning to
be a friend of Rome, he unconsciously contributed his share to the
coming reform. In 1259, Rome thundered so loud that all Europe was
terrified and the University was awed into submission.

Another interesting feature in the history of their educational
enterprises is the entrance of the Mendicants into England, where they
acted a leading part in the educational and political history of the
country. The Dominicans settled first at Oxford, in 1221. The
Franciscans, after a short stay at Canterbury, went to Oxford in 1224.
The story of how the two Gray friars journeyed from Canterbury to Oxford
runs as follows: "These two forerunners of a famous brotherhood, being
not far from Oxford, lost their way and came to a farmhouse of the
Benedictines. It was nearly night and raining. They gently knocked, and
asked admittance for God's sake. The porter gazed on their patched robes
and beggarly aspect and supposed them to be mimics or despised persons.
The prior, pleased with the tidings, invited them in. But instead of
sportively performing, these two friars insisted, with sedate
countenances, that they were men of God. Whereat the Benedictines in
jealousy, and displeased to be cheated out of their expected fun, kicked
and buffeted the two poor monks and turned them out of doors. One young
monk pitied them and smuggled them into a hay-loft where we trust they
slept soundly and safe from the cold and rain." The two friars finally
reached Oxford and were well received by their Dominican brothers. Such
was the simple beginning of a brilliant career that was profoundly to
affect the course of English history. Both at Cambridge and Oxford the
monastic orders exercised a remarkable influence. Traces of their labors
and power may still be seen in the names of the colleges, and in the
religious portions of the university discipline. They built fine
edifices and manned their schools with the best teachers, so that they
became great rivals of the regular colleges which did not have the funds
necessary to compete with these wealthy beggars. Another cause of their
rapid progress was the exodus of students from Paris to England. During
the quarrel at Paris, Henry III. of England offered many inducements to
the students, who left for England in large numbers. Many of them were
prejudiced in favor of the friars, and they naturally drifted to the
monastic college. The secular clergy charged the friars with inducing
the college students to enter the monasteries or to turn begging monks.
The pope, the king, and the parliament became involved in the struggle,
which grew more bitter as the years passed. After a while Wyclif
appeared, and when he began his mighty attack upon the friars the joy
with which the professors viewed the struggle can be appreciated.

_The Decline of the Mendicants_

The Mendicant friars won their fame by faithful and earnest labors. Men
admired them because they identified themselves with the lowest of
mankind and heroically devoted themselves to the poor and sick. These
"sturdy beggars," as Francis called his companions, were contrasted with
the lazy, rich, and, too often, licentious monks of the other orders.
Everywhere the friars were received with veneration and joy. The people
sought burial in their rags, believing that, clothed in the garments of
these holy beggars, they would enter paradise more speedily.

Instead of seeking the seclusion of the convent to save his own soul,
the friar displayed remarkable zeal trying to save mankind. He became
the arbiter in the quarrels of princes, the prime mover in treaties
between nations, and the indispensable counselor in political
complications. The pope employed him as his authorized agent in the most
difficult matters touching the welfare of the church. His influence upon
the common people is thus described by the historian Green: "The theory
of government wrought out in the cell and lecture-room was carried over
the length and breadth of the land by the Mendicant brother begging his
way from town to town, chatting with the farmer or housewife at the
cottage door and setting up his portable pulpit in village green or
market-place. The rudest countryman learned the tale of a king's
oppression or a patriot's hope as he listened to the rambling,
passionate, humorous discourse of the beggar friar."

By these methods the Mendicants were enabled to render most efficient
service to their patrons at Rome in their efforts to establish their
temporal power. They were, in fact, before the Reformation, just what
the Jesuits afterwards became, "the very soul of the hierarchy." Yes,
they were immensely, prodigiously successful. The popes hastened to do
them honor. Because the friars were such enthusiastic supporters of the
church, the popes poured gold and privileges into their capacious
coffers. Thankful peasants threw in their mites and the admiring noble
bestowed his estates.

The secular clergy, with envy and chagrin, awoke to the alarming fact
that the beggars had won the hearts of the people; their hatred was
increased by the fact that when the Roman pontiffs enriched these
indefatigable toilers and valiant foes of heresy, they did so at the
expense of the bishops and clergy, which, perhaps, was robbing Paul to
pay Peter.

Baluzii says: "No religious order had the distribution of so many and
such ample indulgences as the Franciscans. In place of fixed revenues,
lucrative indulgences were placed in their hands." So ill-judged was the
distribution of these favors that discipline was overturned. Many
churchmen, feeling that their rights were being encroached upon,
complained bitterly, and resolved on retaliation. It is just here that a
potent cause of the Mendicant's fall is to be found. He helped to dig
his own grave.

Having elevated monasticism to the zenith of its power, the Mendicant
orders, like all the other monastic brotherhoods, entered upon their
shameful decline. The unexampled prosperity, so inconsistent with the
original intentions of the founders of the orders, was attended by
corruptions and excesses. The decrees of councils, the denunciations of
popes and high ecclesiastical dignitaries, the satires of literature,
the testimony of chroniclers and the formation of reformatory orders,
constitute a body of irrefragable evidence proving that the lowest level
of sensuality, superstition and ignorance had been reached. The monks
and friars lost whatever vigor and piety they ever possessed.

It is again evident that a monk cannot serve God and mammon. Success
ruins him. Wealth and popular favor change his character. The people
slowly realize the fact that the fat and lazy medieval monk is not dead,
after all, but has simply changed his name to that of Begging Friar. As
Allen neatly observes: "Their gray gown and knotted cord wrapped a
spiritual pride and capacity of bigotry, fully equal to the rest."

Here, then, are the "sturdy beggars" of Francis, dwelling in palatial
convents, arrogant and proud, trampling their ideal into the dust. Thus
it came to pass in accordance with the principle stated at the beginning
of this chapter, that when the ideal became a cloak to cover up sham,
decay had set in, and ruin, even though delayed for years, was sure to
come. The poor, sad-faced, honest, faithful friar everybody praised,
loved and reverenced. The insolent, contemptuous, rich monk all men
loathed. So a change of character in the friar transformed the songs of
praise into shouts of condemnation. Those golden rays from the morning
sun of the Reformation are ascending toward the highest heaven, and
daybreak is near.



In many respects it would be perfectly proper to consider the Mendicant
orders as the last stage in the evolution of the monastic institution.
Although the Jesuitical system rests upon the three vows of poverty,
celibacy and obedience, yet the ascetic principle is reduced to a
minimum in that society. Father Thomas E. Sherman, the son of the famous
general, and a Jesuit of distinguished ability, has declared: "We are
not, as some seem to think, a semi-military band of men, like the
Templars of the Middle Ages. We are not a monastic order, seeking
happiness in lonely withdrawal from our fellows. Our enemies within and
without the church would like to make us monks, for then we would be
comparatively useless, since that is not our end or aim.... We are
regulars in the army of Christ; that is, men vowed to poverty, chastity
and obedience; we are a collegiate body with the right to teach granted
by the Catholic church[G]."

[Footnote G: Appendix, Note G.]

The early religious orders were based upon the idea of retirement from
the world for the purpose of acquiring holiness. But as has already been
shown, the constant tendency of the religious communities was toward
participation in the world's affairs. This tendency became very marked
among the friars, who traveled from place to place, and occupied
important university positions, and it reaches its culmination in the
Society of Jesus. Retirement among the Jesuits is employed merely as a
preparation for active life. Constant intercourse with society was
provided for in the constitution of the order. Bishop John J. Keane, a
Roman Catholic authority, says: "The clerks regular, instituted
principally since the sixteenth century, were neither monks nor friars,
but priests living in common and busied with the work of the ministry.
The Society of Jesus is one of the orders of clerks regular."

Other differences between the monastic communities and the Jesuits are
to be observed. The Jesuit discards the monastic gown, and is decidedly
averse to the old monastic asceticism, with its rigorous and painful
treatment of the body. While the older religious societies were
essentially democratic in spirit and government, the monks sharing in
the control of the monastic property and participating in the election
of superiors, the Jesuitical system is intensely monarchical, a
despotism pure and simple. In the older orders, the welfare of the
individual was jealously guarded and his sanctification was sought.
Among the Jesuits the individual is nothing, the corporate body
everything. Admission to the monastic orders was encouraged and easily
obtained. The novitiate of the Jesuits is long and difficult. Access to
the highest grades of the order is granted only to those who have served
the society many weary years.




But in spite of such variations from the old monastic type, the Society
of Jesus would doubtless never have appeared, had not the way for its
existence been paved by previous monastic societies. Its aims and its
methods were the natural sequence of monastic history. They were merely
a development of past experiences, for the objects of the society were
practically the objects of the Mendicants; the vows were the same with a
change of emphasis. The abandonment of austerities as a means of
salvation or spiritual power was the natural fruit of past experiments
that had proved the uselessness of asceticism merely for the sake of
acquiring a spirit of self-denial. The extirpation of heresy undertaken
by Ignatius had already been attempted by the friars, while the
education of the young had long been carried on with considerable
success by the Benedictine and Dominican monks. The spirit of its
founder, however, gave the Society of Jesus a unique character, and
monasticism now passed out from the cell forever. The Jesuit may fairly
be regarded as a monk, unlike any of his predecessors but nevertheless
the legitimate fruit of centuries of monastic experience.

_Ignatius de Loyola, 1491-1556 A.D._

Inigo Lopez de Recalde, or Loyola, as he is commonly known, was born at
Guipuzcoa, in Spain, in 1491. He was educated as a page in the court of
Ferdinand the Catholic. He afterwards became a soldier and led a very
wild life until his twenty-ninth year. During the siege of Pamplona, in
1521, he was severely wounded, and while convalescing he was given lives
of Christ and of the saints to read. His perusal of these stories of
spiritual combat inspired a determination to imitate the glorious
achievements of the saints. For a while the thirst for military renown
and an attraction toward a lady of the court, restrained his spiritual
impulses. But overcoming these obstacles, he resolutely entered upon his
new career.

Sometime after he visited the sanctuary of Montserrat, where he hung his
shield and sword upon the altar of the Virgin Mary and gave his oath of
fealty to the service of God. A tablet, erected by the abbot of the
monastery in commemoration of this event, reads as follows: "Here,
blessed Ignatius of Loyola, with many prayers and tears, devoted himself
to God and the Virgin. Here, as with spiritual arms, he fortified
himself in sackcloth, and spent the vigil of the night. Hence he went
forth to found the Society of Jesus, in the year MDXXII."

After spending ten months in Manresa, Loyola went on a pilgrimage to the
Holy Land, intending to remain there, but he was sent home by the
Eastern monks, and reached Italy in 1524.

Now began his struggle for an education. At the age of thirty-three he
took his seat on the school-bench at Barcelona. In 1526 he entered the
University at Alcala. He was here looked upon as a dangerous innovator,
and was imprisoned six weeks, by order of the Inquisition, for preaching
without authority, since he was not in holy orders. After his release he
attended the University of Salamanca, but he finally took his degree of
Master of Arts at the University of Paris, in 1533.

During this period he was several times imprisoned as a dangerous
fanatic, but each time he succeeded in securing a verdict in his favor.
The hostility to Ignatius and his work forms a strange parallel to the
bitter antagonism which his society has always encountered.

Nine men, among whom was Francis Xavier, afterwards widely renowned, had
been chosen with great care, as the companions of Ignatius. He called
them together in July, 1534, and on August 15th of the same year he
selected six of them and bade them follow him to the Church of the
Blessed Virgin, at Montmartre, in Paris. There and then they bound
themselves to renounce all their goods, and to make a voyage to
Jerusalem, in order to convert the Eastern infidels; if that scheme
proved impracticable, they agreed to offer themselves to the sovereign
pontiff for any service he might require of them. War prevented the
journey to the Holy Land, and so, after passing through a variety of
experiences, Ignatius and his companions met at Rome, to secure the
sanction of Pope Paul III. for the new society. After a year and a half
of deliberation and discussion a favorable decision was reached, which
was, no doubt, partly facilitated by the growth of the Reformation. The
new society was chartered on September 27, 1540, for the "defence and
advance of the faith."

Ignatius was elected as the general of the order and entered upon his
duties, April 17, 1541. He soon prepared a constitution which was not
adopted until after his death, and then in an amended form. Loyola ended
his remarkable and stormy career, July 31, 1556.

_Constitution and Polity of the Order_

The _Institutum_, which contains the governing laws of the society, is a
complex document consisting of papal bulls and decrees, a list of the
privileges which have been granted to the order, ten chapters of rules,
decrees of the general congregations, the plan of studies (_ratio
studiorum_), and three ascetic writings, of which the Spiritual
Exercises of Ignatius constitute the chief part.

The society is distributed into six grades: novices, scholastics,
temporal coadjutors, spiritual coadjutors, professed of the three vows,
and professed of the four vows.

The professed form only a small percentage of the entire body, and
constitute a sort of religious aristocracy, from which the officers of
the society are selected. Only the professed of the fourth vow, who add
to the three vows a pledge of unconditional obedience to the pope,
possess the full rights of membership. This final grade cannot be
reached until the age of forty-five, so that if the candidate enters the
order at the earliest age permissible, fourteen, he has been on
probation thirty-one years when he reaches the final grade.

The society is ruled by a general, to whom unconditional obedience is
required. The provinces, into which the order is divided, are governed
by provincials, who must report monthly to the general. The heads of all
houses and colleges must report weekly to their provincials. An
elaborate system of checks and espionage is employed to ensure the
perfect working of this complex ecclesiastical machinery. Fraud or
evasion is carefully guarded against, and every possible means is
employed to enable the general to keep himself fully informed concerning
the minutest details of the society's affairs.

_The Vow of Obedience_

That which has imparted a peculiar character to the Jesuit and
contributed more than any other force to his success, is the insistence
upon unquestioning submission to the will of the superior. This emphasis
on the vow of obedience deserves, therefore, special consideration.
Loyola, in his "Spiritual Exercises," commanded the novice to preserve
his freedom of mind, but it is difficult for the fairest critic to
conceive of such a possibility in the light of Loyola's rule of
obedience, which reads: "I ought not to be my own, but His who created
me, and his too by whose means God governs me, yielding myself to be
moulded in his hands like so much wax.... I ought to be like a corpse,
which has neither will nor understanding, or like a small crucifix,
which is turned about at the will of him who holds it, or like a staff
in the hands of an old man, who uses it as may best assist or
please him."

As an example of the kind of obedience demanded of the Jesuit, Loyola
cited the obedience of Abraham, who, when he believed that Jehovah
commanded him to commit the crime of infanticide, was ready to obey. The
thirteenth of the rules appended to the Spiritual Exercises says: "If
the Church shall have defined that to be black which to our eyes appears
white, we ought to pronounce the thing in question black."

Loyola is reported as having said to his secretary that "in those who
offer themselves he looked less to purely natural goodness than to
firmness of character and ability for business." But that he did not
mean _independent_ firmness of character is clearly seen in the obvious
attempt of the order to destroy that noble and true independence which
is the crowning glory of a lofty character. The discipline is
marvelously contrived to "scoop the will" out of the individual. Count
Paul von Hoensbroech, who recently seceded from the society, has set
forth his reasons for so doing in two articles which appeared in the
"Preussische Jahrbuecher." A most interesting discussion of these
articles, in the "New World," for December, 1894, places the opinions of
the Count at our disposal. It is quite evident that he is no passionate,
blind foe of the society. His tone is temperate and his praises
cordially given. While recognizing the genius shown in the machinery of
the society and the nobility of the real aims of the Jesuitical
discipline, and while protesting against the unfounded charges of
impurity, and other gross calumnies against the order, Count Paul
nevertheless maintains that it "rests on so unworthy a depreciation of
individuality, and so exaggerated an apprehension of the virtue of
obedience, as to render it unfit for its higher ends." The uniform of
the Jesuit is not an external garb, but such freedom is insignificant in
the light of the "veritable strait-jacket," which is placed upon the
inward man. The unformed and pliable novice, usually between the ages of
sixteen and twenty, is subjected to "a skillful, energetic and
unremitting assault upon personal independence." Every device that a
shrewd and powerful intellect could conceive of is employed to break up
the personal will. "The Jesuit scheme prescribes the gait, the way to
hold the hands, to incline the head, to direct the eyes, to hold and
move the person."

Every novice must go through the "Spiritual Exercises" in complete
solitude, twice in his life. They occupy thirty days. The "Account of
the Conscience" is of the very essence of Jesuitism. The ordinary
confession, familiar to every Catholic, is as nothing compared with this
marvelous inquiry into the secrets of the human heart and mind. Every
fault, sin, virtue, wish, design, act and thought,--good, bad or
indifferent,--must be disclosed, and this revelation of the inner life
may be used against him who makes it, "for the good of the order."
Thus, after fifteen years of such ingenious and detailed discipline, the
young man's intellectual and moral faculties are moulded into Jesuitical
forms. He is no longer his own. He is a pliable and obedient, even
though it may be a virtuous and brilliant, tool of a spiritual
master-mechanic who will use him according to his own purposes, in the
interest of the society.

The Jesuits have signally failed to convince the world that the type of
character produced by their system is worthy of admiration. The
"sacrifice of the intellect"--a familiar watchword of the Jesuit--is far
too high a price to pay for whatever benefits the discipline may confer.
It is contrary to human nature, and hence to the divine intention, to
keep a human soul in a state of subordination to another human will. As
Von Hoensbroech says of the society: "Who gave it a right to break down
that most precious possession of the individual being, which God gave,
and which man has no authority to take away?"

It is true that no human organization has so magnificently brought to
perfection a unity of purpose and oneness of will. It is also true that
a spirit of defiance toward human authority is often accompanied by a
disobedience of divine law. But the remedy for the abuses of human
freedom is neither in the annihilation of the will itself, nor in its
mere subjection to some other will irrespective of its moral character.
Carlyle may have been too vehement in some of his censures of Jesuitism,
but he certainly exposed the fallaciousness of Loyola's views concerning
the value of mere obedience, at the same time justly rebuking the too
ardent admirers of the perverted principle: "I hear much also of
'obedience,' how that and kindred virtues are prescribed and exemplified
by Jesuitism; the truth of which, and the merit of which, far be it from
me to deny.... Obedience is good and indispensable: but if it be
obedience to what is wrong and false, good heavens, there is no name for
such a depth of human cowardice and calamity, spurned everlastingly by
the gods. Loyalty? Will you be loyal to Beelzebub? Will you 'make a
covenant with Death and Hell'? I will not be loyal to Beelzebub; I will
become a nomadic Choctaw rather, ... anything and everything is
venial to that."

_The Casuistry of the Jesuits_

It is often asserted, even by authoritative writers, that a Jesuit is
bound by his vows to commit either venial or mortal sin at the command
of his superior; and that the maxim, "The end justifies the means," has
not only been the principle upon which the society has prosecuted its
work but is also explicitly taught in the rules of the order. There is
nothing in the constitution of the society to justify these two serious
charges, which are not to be regarded as malicious calumnies, however,
because the slovenly Latin in one of the rules on obedience has misled
such competent scholars as John Addington Symonds and the historian
Ranke. Furthermore, judging from the doctrines of the society as set
forth by many of their theologians and the political conduct of its
representatives, the conclusion seems inevitable that while the society
may not teach in its rules that its members are bound to obedience even
to the point of sin, yet practically many of its leaders have so held
and its emissaries have rendered that kind of obedience.

Bishop Keane admits that one of the causes for the decline and overthrow
of the society was its marked tendency toward lax moral teaching. There
can be but little doubt that the Jesuits have ever been indulgent toward
many forms of sin and even crime, when committed under certain
circumstances and for the good of the order or "the greater glory
of God."

To enable the reader to form some sort of an independent judgment on
this question, it is necessary to say a few words on the subject of
casuistry and the doctrine of probabilism.

Casuistry is the application of general moral rules to given cases,
especially to doubtful ones. The medieval churchmen were much given to
inventing fanciful moral distinctions and to prescribing rules to govern
supposable problems of conscience. They were not willing to trust the
individual conscience or to encourage personal responsibility. The
individual was taught to lean his whole weight on his spiritual adviser,
in other words, to make the conscience of the church his own. As a
result there grew up a confused mass of precepts to guide the perplexed
conscience. The Jesuits carried this system to its farthest extreme. As
Charles C. Starbuck says: "They have heaped possibility upon possibility
in their endeavors to make out how far there can be subjective innocence
in objective error, until they have, in more than one fundamental point,
hopelessly confused their own perceptions of both[H]."

[Footnote H: Appendix, Note H.]

The doctrine of probabilism is founded upon the distinctions between
opinions that are sure, less sure, or more sure. There are several
schools of probabilists, but the doctrine itself practically amounts to
this: Since uncertainty attaches to many of our decisions in moral
affairs, one must follow the more probable rule, but not always, cases
often arising when it is permissible to follow a rule contrary to the
more probable one. Furthermore, as the Jesuits made war upon individual
authority, which was the key-note of the Reformation, and contended for
the authority of the church, the teaching naturally followed, that the
opinion of "a grave doctor" may be looked upon "as possessing a fair
amount of probability, and may, therefore, be safely followed, even
though one's conscience insist upon the opposite course." It is easy to
see that this opens a convenient door to those who are seeking
justification for conduct which their consciences condemn. No doubt one
can find plausible excuses for the basest crimes, if he stills the voice
of conscience and trusts himself to confusing sophistry. The glory of
God, the gravity of circumstances, necessity, the good of the church or
of the order, and numerous other practical reasons can be urged to
remove scruples and make a bad act seem to be a good one. But crime,
even "for the glory of God," is crime still.

This disagreeable subject will not be pursued further. To say less than
has been said would be to ignore one of the most prominent causes of the
Jesuits' ruin. To say more than this, even though the facts might
warrant it, would incur the liability of being classed among those
malicious fomentors of religious strife, for whom the writer has mingled
feelings of pity and contempt. The Society of Jesus is not the Roman
Catholic Church, which has suffered much from the burden of
Jesuitism--wounds that are scarcely atoned for by the meritorious and
self-sacrificing services on her behalf in other directions. The
Protestant foes have never equaled the Catholic opponents of Jesuitism,
either in their fierce hatred of the system or in their ability to
expose its essential weakness. A writer in the "Quarterly Review,"
September, 1848, says: "Admiration and detestation of the Jesuits
divide, as far as feeling is concerned, the Roman Catholic world, with a
schism deeper and more implacable than any which arrays Protestant
against Protestant."

_The Mission of the Jesuits_

The Society of Jesus has been described as "a naked sword, whose hilt is
at Rome, and whose point is everywhere." It is an undisputed historical
fact that Loyola's consuming passion was to accomplish the ruin of
Protestantism, which had twenty years the start of him and was
threatening the very existence of the Roman hierarchy. It has already
been shown that the destruction of heresy was the chief aim of the
Dominicans. What the friars failed to attain, Loyola attempted. The
principal object of the Jesuits was the maintenance of papal authority.
Even to-day the Jesuit does not hesitate to declare that his mission is
to overthrow Protestantism. The Reformation was inspired by a new
conception of individual freedom. The authority of tradition and of the
church was set at naught. Loyola planted his system upon the doctrine of
absolute submission to authority. The partial success of the Jesuits,
for they did beat back the Reformation, is no doubt attributable to
their fidelity, virtue and learning. Their devotion to the cause they
loved, their willingness to sacrifice life itself, their marvelous and
instantaneous obedience to the slightest command of their leaders, made
them a compact and powerful papal army. Their methods, in many
particulars, were not beyond question, and, whatever their character,
the order certainly incurred the fiercest hostility of every nation in
Europe, and even of the church itself.

Professor Anton Gindely, in his "History of the Thirty Years' War,"
shows that Maximilian, of Bavaria, and Ferdinand, of Austria, the
leaders on the Catholic side, were educated by Jesuits. He also fixes
the responsibility for that war partly upon them in the plainest terms:
"In a word, they had the consciences of Roman Catholic sovereigns and
their ministers in their hands as educators, and in their keeping as
confessors. They led them in the direction of war, so that it was at the
time, and has since been called the Jesuits' War."

The strictures of Carlyle, Macaulay, Thackeray, and Lytton have been
repeatedly denounced by the Jesuits, but even their shrewd, sophistical
defences of their order afford ample justification for the attitude of
their foes. For example, in a masterful oration, previously quoted from,
in which the virtues of the Jesuits are extolled and defended, Father
Sherman says: "We are expelled and driven from pillar to post because we
teach men to love God." He describes Loyola as "the knightly, the loyal,
the true, the father of heroes, and the maker of saints, the lover of
the all-good and the all-beautiful, crowned with the honor of sainthood,
the best-loved and the best-hated man in all the world, save only his
Master and ours." "'Twas he that conceived the daring plan of forging
the weapon to beat back the Reformation." No one but a Jesuit could
reconcile the aim of "preaching the love of God" with "beating back the
Reformation," especially in view of the methods employed.

Numerous gross calumnies have been circulated against the Society of
Jesus. The dread of a return to that deplorable intellectual and moral
slavery of the pre-Reformation days is so intense, that a calm,
dispassionate consideration of Jesuit history is almost impossible. But
after all just concessions have been made, two indisputable facts
confront the student: first, the universal antagonism to the order, of
the church that gave birth to it, as well as of the states that have
suffered from its meddling in political affairs; and second, the
complete failure of the order's most cherished schemes. France, Germany,
Switzerland, Spain, Great Britain and other nations, have been compelled
in sheer self-defence to expel it from their territories. Such a
significant fact needs some other explanation than that the Jesuit has
incurred the enmity of the world merely for preaching the love of God.

Clement XIV., when solemnly pronouncing the dissolution of the order, at
the time his celebrated bull, entitled "_Dominus ac Redemptor Noster_"
which was signed July 21, 1773, was made public, justified his action in
the following terms: "Recognizing that the members of this society have
not a little troubled the Christian commonwealth, and that for the
welfare of Christendom it were better that the order should disappear,"
etc. When Rome thus delivers her _ex cathedra_ opinion concerning her
own order, an institution which she knows better than any one else, one
cannot fairly be charged with prejudice and sectarianism in speaking
evil of it.

But while there is much to be detested in the methods of the order,
history does not furnish another example of such self-abnegation and
intense zeal as the Jesuits have shown in the prosecution of their aims.
They planted missions in Japan, China, Africa, Ceylon, Madagascar, North
and South America.

In Europe the Mendicant friars by their coarseness had disgusted the
upper classes; the affable and cultured Jesuit won their hearts. The
Jesuits became chaplains in noble families, learned the secrets of every
government in Europe, and became the best schoolmasters in the age. They
were to be found in various disguises in every castle of note and in
every palace. "There was no region of the globe," says Macaulay, "no
walk of speculative or active life in which Jesuits were not to be
found." That they were devoted to their cause no one can deny. They were
careless of life and, as one facetiously adds, of truth also. They
educated, heard confessions, plotted crimes and revolutions, and
published whole libraries. Worn out by fatigue, the Jesuits still toiled
on with marvelous zeal. Though hated and opposed, they wore serene and
cheerful countenances. In a word, they had learned to control every
faculty and every passion, and to merge every human aspiration and
personal ambition into the one supreme purpose of conquering an opposing
faith and exalting the power of priestly authority. They hold up before
the subjects of the King of Heaven a wonderful example of loving and
untiring service, which should be emulated by every servant of Christ
who too often yields an indifferent obedience to Him whom he professes
to love and to serve.

Francis Parkman, in his brilliant narrative of "The Jesuits in North
America," presents the following interesting contrast between the
Puritan and the Jesuit: "To the mind of the Puritan, heaven was God's
throne; but no less was the earth His footstool; and each in its degree
and its kind had its demands on man. He held it a duty to labor and to
multiply; and, building on the Old Testament quite as much as on the
New, thought that a reward on earth as well as in heaven awaited those
who were faithful to the law. Doubtless, such a belief is widely open to
abuse, and it would be folly to pretend that it escaped abuse in New
England; but there was in it an element manly, healthful and
invigorating. On the other hand, those who shaped the character, and in
a great measure the destiny, of New France had always on their lips the
nothingness and the vanity of life. For them, time was nothing but a
preparation for eternity, and the highest virtue consisted in a
renunciation of all the cares, toils and interests of earth. That such a
doctrine has often been joined to an intense worldliness, all history
proclaims; but with this we have at present nothing to do. If all
mankind acted on it in good faith, the world would sink into
decrepitude. It is the monastic idea carried into the wide field of
active life, and is like the error of those who, in their zeal to
cultivate their higher nature, suffer the neglected body to dwindle and
pine, till body and mind alike lapse into feebleness and disease."

Notwithstanding the success of the Jesuits in stopping the progress of
the Reformation, it may be truthfully said that they have failed. The
principles of the Reformation dominate the world and are slowly
modifying the Roman church in America. "In truth," says Macaulay, "if
society continued to hold together, if life and property enjoyed any
security, it was because common sense and common humanity restrained men
from doing what the order of Jesus assured them they might with a safe
conscience do." Our hope for the future progress of society lies in the
guiding power of this same common sense and common humanity.

The restoration of the order by Pius VII., August 7th, 1814, while it
renewed the papal favor, did not allay the hostility of the civil
powers. Various states have expelled them since that time, and wherever
they labor, they are still the objects of open attack or ill-disguised
suspicion. Although the order still shows "some quivering in fingers and
toes," as Carlyle expresses it, the principles of the Reformation are
too widely believed, and its benefits too deeply appreciated, to
justify any hope or fear of the ultimate triumph of Jesuitism.


So the Christian monk has greatly changed since he first appeared in the
deserts of Nitria, in Egypt. He has come from his den in the mountains
to take his seat in parliaments, and find his home in palaces. He is no
longer filthy in appearance, but elegant in dress and courtly in manner.
He has exchanged his rags for jewels and silks. He is no longer the
recluse of the lonely cliffs, chatting with the animals and gazing at
the stars. He is a man of the world, with schemes of conquest filling
his brain and a love of dominion ruling his heart. He is no longer a
ditch-digger and a ploughman, but the proud master of councils or the
cultured professor of the university. He still swears to the three vows
of celibacy, poverty and obedience, but they do not mean the same thing
to him that they did to the more ignorant, less cultured, but more
genuinely frank monk of the desert. Yes, he has all but completely lost
sight of his ancient monastic ideal. He professes the poverty of
Christ, but he cannot follow even so simple a man as his Saint Francis.

It is a long way from Jerome to Ignatius, but the end of the journey is
nigh. Loyola is the last type of monastic life, or changing the figure,
the last great leader in the conquered monastic army. The good within
the system will survive, its truest exponents will still fire the
courage and win the sympathy of the devout, but best of all, man will
recover from its poison.



The rise of Protestantism accelerated the decline and final ruin of the
monasteries. The enthusiasm of the Mendicants and the culture of the
Jesuits failed to convince the governments of Europe that monasticism
was worthy to survive the destruction awaiting so many medieval
institutions. The spread of reformatory opinions resulted in a
determined and largely successful attack upon the monasteries, which
were rightly believed to constitute the bulwark of papal power. So
imperative were the popular demands for a change, that popes and
councils hastened to urge the members of religious orders to abolish
existing abuses by enforcing primitive rules. But while Rome practically
failed in her attempted reformations, the Protestant reformers in church
and state were widely successful in either curtailing the privileges
and revenues of the monks or in annihilating the monasteries.

Since the sixteenth century the leading governments of Europe, even
including those in Catholic countries, have given tangible expression to
popular and political antagonism to monasticism, by the abolition of
convents, or the withdrawal of immunities and favors, for a long time a
source of monastic revenue and power. The results of this hostility have
been so disastrous, that monasticism has never regained its former
prestige and influence. Several of the older orders have risen from the
ruins, and a few new communities have appeared, some of which are
distinguished by their most laudable ministrations to the poor and the
sick, or by their educational services. Yet notwithstanding the
modifications of the system to suit the exigencies of modern times, it
seems altogether improbable that the monks will ever again wield the
power they possessed before the Reformation,

In the present chapter attention will be confined to the dissolution of
the monasteries under Henry VIII., in England. The suppression in that
country was occasioned partly by peculiar, local conditions, and was
more radical and permanent than the reforms in other lands, yet it is
entirely consistent with our general purpose to restrict this narrative
to English history. Penetrating beneath the varying externalities
attending the ruin of the monasteries in Germany, Spain, France,
Switzerland, Italy, and other countries, it will be found that the
underlying cause of the destruction of the monasteries was that the
monastic ideal conflicted with the spirit of the modern era. A
conspicuous and dramatic example of this struggle between medievalism,
as embodied in the monastic institution, and modern political, social
and religious ideals, is to be found in the dissolution of the English
monasteries. The narrative of the suppression in England also conveys
some idea of the struggle that was carried on throughout Europe, with
varying intensity and results.

There is no more striking illustration of the power of the personal
equation in the interpretation of history than that afforded by the
conflicting opinions respecting the overthrow of monasticism in England.
Those who mourn the loss of the monasteries cannot find words strong
enough with which to condemn Henry VIII., whom they regard as
"unquestionably the most unconstitutional, the most vicious king that
ever wore the English crown." Forgetting the inevitable cost of human
freedom, and lightly passing over the iniquities of the monastic system,
they fondly dwell upon the departed glory of the ancient abbeys. They
recall with sadness the days when the monks chanted their songs of
praise in the chapels, or reverently bent over their books of parchment,
bound in purple and gold, not that they might "winnow the treasures of
knowledge, but that they might elicit love, compunction and devotion."
The charming simplicity and loving service of the cloister life, in the
days of its unbroken vows, appeal to such defenders of the monks with
singular potency.

Truly, the fair-minded should attempt to appreciate the sorrow, the
indignation and the love of these friends of a ruined institution.
Passionless logic will never enable one to do justice to the sentiments
of those who cannot restrain their tears as they stand uncovered before
the majestic remains of a Melrose Abbey, or properly to estimate the
motives and methods of those who laid the mighty monastic institution
in the dust.

_The Character of Henry VIII_

Before considering the actual work of suppression, it may be interesting
to glance at the royal destroyer and his times. The character of Henry
VIII. is utterly inexplicable to many persons, chiefly because they do
not reflect that even the inconsistencies of a great man may be
understood when seen in the light of his times. A masterly and
comprehensive summary of the virtues and vices of the Tudor monarch, who
has been described as "the king, the whole king, and nothing but the
king," may be found in "A History of Crime in England," by Luke Owen
Pike. The distinguished author shows that in his brutality, his love of
letters, his opposition to Luther, his vacillation in religious
opinions, King Henry reflects with remarkable fidelity the age in which
he lived, both in its contrasts and its inconsistencies. "It is only the
previous history of England which can explain all the contradictions
exhibited in his conduct,--which can explain how he could be rapacious
yet sometimes generous, the Defender of the Faith yet under sentence of
excommunication, a burner of heretics yet a heretic himself, the pope's
advocate yet the pope's greatest enemy, a bloodthirsty tyrant yet the
best friend to liberty of thought in religion, an enthusiast yet a
turncoat, a libertine and yet all but a Puritan. He was sensual because
his forefathers had been sensual from time immemorial, rough in speech
and action because there had been but few men in Britain who had been
otherwise since the Romans abandoned the island. He was superstitious
and credulous because few were philosophical or gifted with intellectual
courage. Yet he had, what was possessed by his contemporaries, a faint
and intermittent thirst for knowledge, of which he himself hardly knew
the meaning." Henry was shrewd, tenacious of purpose, capricious and
versatile. In spite of his unrestrained indulgences and his monstrous
claims of power, which, be it remembered, he was able to enforce, and
notwithstanding any other vices or faults that may be truthfully charged
against him, he was, on the whole, a popular king. Few monarchs have
ever had to bear such a strain as was placed upon his abilities and
character. Rare have been the periods that have witnessed such
confusion of principles, social, political and religious. Those were the
days when liberty was at work, "but in a hundred fantastical and
repulsive shapes, confused and convulsive, multiform, deformed." Blind
violence and half-way reforms characterized the age because the
principles that were to govern modern times were not yet formulated.

Judged apart from his times Henry appears as an arrogant, cruel and
fickle ruler, whose virtues fail to atone for his vices. But still, with
all his faults, he compares favorably with preceding monarchs and even
with his contemporaries. If he had possessed less intelligence, courage
and ambition, he would not now be so conspicuous for his vices, but the
history of human liberty and free institutions, especially in England,
would have been vastly different. His praiseworthy traits were not
sufficiently strong to enable him to control his inherited passions, but
they were too regnant to permit him to submit without a struggle to the
hierarchy which had dominated his country so many centuries. Such was

"the majestic lord,
That broke the bonds of Rome."

_Events Preceding the Suppression_

Many causes and incidents contributed to the progress of the reformation
in England, and to the demolition of the monasteries. Only a few of them
can be given here, and they must be stated with a brevity that conveys
no adequate conception of their profound significance.

Henry VIII. ascended the throne, in the year 1509, when eighteen years
of age. In 1517, Luther took his stand against Rome. Four years later
Henry wrote a treatise in defence of the Seven Sacraments and in
opposition to the German reformer. For this princely service to the
church the king received the title "Defender of the Faith" from Pope
Leo X.

About 1527 it became known that Henry was questioning the validity of
his marriage with Catharine of Aragon, whom he had married when he was
twelve years old. She was the widow of his brother Arthur. The king
professed conscientious scruples about his marriage, but undoubtedly his
desire for male offspring, and later, his passion for Anne Boleyn,
prompted him to seek release from his queen. In 1529, Henry and
Catharine stood before a papal tribunal, presided over by Cardinal
Wolsey, the king's prime minister, and Cardinal Campeggio, from Rome,
for the purpose of determining the validity of the royal marriage. The
trial was a farce. The enraged king laid the blame upon Wolsey, and
retired him from office. The great cardinal was afterwards charged with
treason, but died broken-hearted, on his way to the Tower, November
29, 1530.

The breach between Henry and Rome, complicated by numerous international
intrigues, widened rapidly. Henry began to assume an attitude of bold
defiance toward the pope, which aroused the animosity of the Catholic
princes of Europe.

Notwithstanding the desire of a large body of the English people to
remain faithful to Rome, the dangers which menaced their country from
abroad and the ecclesiastical abuses at home, which had been a fruitful
cause for complaint for many years, tended to lessen the ancient horror
of heresy and schism, and inclined them to support their king. Another
factor that assisted in preparing the English people for the
destruction of the monasteries was Lollardism. As an organized sect, the
Lollards had ceased to exist, but the spirit and the doctrines of Wyclif
did not die. A real and a vital connection existed between the Lollards
of the fourteenth, and the reformers of the sixteenth, centuries. In
Henry's time, many Englishmen held practically the same views of Rome
and of the monks that had been taught by Wyclif[I].

[Footnote I: Appendix, Note I.]

A considerable number of Henry's subjects, however, while ostensibly
loyal to him, were inwardly full of hot rebellion. The king was
surrounded with perils. The princes of the Continent were eagerly
awaiting the bull for his excommunication. Henry's throne and his
kingdom might at any moment be given over by the pope to invasion by the
continental sovereigns.

Reginald Pole, afterwards cardinal, a cousin of the king, and a strong
Catholic, stood ready to betray the interests of his country to Rome.
Writing to the king, he said: "Man is against you; God is against you;
the universe is against you; what can you look for but destruction?"
"Dream not, Caesar," he encouragingly declared to Emperor Charles V.,
"that all generous hearts are quenched in England; that faith and piety
are dead. In you is their trust, in your noble nature, and in your zeal
for God--they hold their land till you shall come." Thus, on the
testimony of a Roman Catholic, there were traitors in England waiting
only for the call of Charles V., "To arms!" Pole was in full sympathy
with all the factions opposed to the king, and stood ready to aid them
in their resistance. He publicly denounced the king in several
continental countries.

The monks were especially enraged against Henry. They did all they could
to inflame the people by preaching against him and the reformers. Friar
Peyto, preaching before the king, had the assurance to say to him: "Many
lying prophets have deceived you, but I, as a true Micah, warn you that
the dogs will lick your blood as they did Ahab's." While the courage of
this friar is unquestioned, his defiant attitude illustrates the
position occupied by the monks toward those who favored separation from
Rome. The whole country was at white heat. The friends of Rome looked
upon Henry as an incarnate fiend, a servant of the devil and an enemy
of all religion. Many of them opposed him with the purest and best
motives, believing that the king was really undermining the church of
God and throwing society into chaos.

In 1531, the English clergy were coerced into declaring that Henry was
"the protector and the supreme head of the church and of the clergy of
England," which absurd claim was slightly modified by the words, "in so
far as is permitted by the law of Christ." Chapuys, in one of his
despatches informing Charles V. of this action of convocation, said that
it practically declared Henry the Pope of England. "It is true," he
wrote, "that the clergy have added to the declaration that they did so
only so far as permitted by the law of God. But that is all the same, as
far as the king is concerned, as if they had made no reservation, for no
one will now be so bold as to contest with his lord the importance of
the reservation." Later on, Chapuys says that the king told the pope's
nuncio that "if the pope would not show him more consideration, he would
show the world that the pope had no greater authority than Moses, and
that every claim not grounded on Scripture was mere usurpation; that
the great concourse of people present had come solely and exclusively to
request him to bastinado the clergy, who were hated by both nobles and
the people." ("Spanish Despatches," number 460.)

Parliament, in 1534, conferred on Henry the title "Supreme Head of the
Church of England," and empowered him "to visit, and repress, redress,
reform, order, correct, restrain, or amend all errors, heresies, abuses,
offences, contempts, and enormities, which fell under any spiritual
authority or jurisdiction." The "Act of Succession" was also passed by
Parliament, cutting off Princess Mary and requiring all subjects to take
an oath of allegiance to Elizabeth.

It was now an act of treason to deny the king's supremacy. All persons
suspected of disloyalty were required to sign an oath of allegiance to
Henry, and to Elizabeth as his successor, and to acknowledge the
supremacy of the king in church and state. This resulted in the death of
some prominent men in the realm, among them Sir Thomas More. In the
preamble of the oath prescribed by law, the legality of the king's
marriage with Anne was asserted, thus implying that his former marriage
with Catharine was unlawful. More was willing to declare his allegiance
to the infant Elizabeth, as the king's successor, but his conscience
would not permit him to affirm that Catharine's marriage was unlawful.

The life of the brilliant and lovable More is another illustration of
the mental confusions and inconsistencies of that age. As an apostle of
culture he favored the new learning, and yet he viewed the gathering
momentum of reformatory principles with alarm, and cast in his lot with
the ultra-conservatives. Four years of his young manhood were spent in a
monastery. He devoted his splendid talents to a criticism of English
society, and recommended freedom of conscience, yet he became an ardent
foe of reform and even a persecutor of heretics, of whom he said: "I do
so detest that class of men that, unless they repent, I am the worst
enemy they have." When a man, whom even Protestant historians hasten to
pronounce "the glory of his age," so magnificent were his talents and so
blameless his character, was tainted with superstition, and sanctioned
the persecution of liberal thinkers, is it remarkable that inferior
intellects should have been swayed by the brutality and tyranny of
the times?

The unparalleled claims of Henry and his attitude toward the pope made
the breach between England and Rome complete, but many years of painful
internal strife and bloodshed were to elapse before the whole nation
submitted to the new order of things, and before that subjective freedom
from fear and superstition without which formal freedom has little
value, was secured.

The breach with Rome was essential to the attainment of that religious
and political freedom that England now enjoys. But the first step toward
making that separation an accomplished fact, acquiesced in by the people
as a whole, was to break the power of the monastic orders. It may
possibly be true that the same ends would have been eventually attained
by trusting to the slower processes of social evolution, but the history
of the Latin nations of Europe would seem to prove the contrary. As the
facts stand it would appear that peace and progress were impossible with
thousands of monks sowing seeds of discord, and employing every measure,
fair or foul, to win the country back to Rome. Gairdner and others
argue that Henry was far too powerful a king to have been successfully
resisted by the pope, unless the pope was backed by a union of the
Christian princes, which was then impracticable. That fact may make the
execution of More, Fisher and the Charterhouse monks inexcusable, but it
by no means proves that Henry would have been strong enough to maintain
his position if the monasteries had been permitted to exist as centers
of organized opposition to his will. Many of the monks, when pressed by
the king's agents, took the oath of allegiance. Threats, bribes and
violence were used to overcome the opposition of the unwilling.

_The Monks and the Oath of Supremacy_

It is quite evident that the king's purpose to destroy the whole
monastic institution was partly the result of the determined resistance
which the monks offered to his authority. The contest between the king
and the monks was exceedingly fierce and bloody. Many good men lost
their lives and many innocent persons suffered grievously. Perhaps the
most pathetic incident in the sanguinary struggle between the king and
the monks was the tragic fall of the Charterhouse of London. The facts
are given at length by Froude, in his "History of England," who bases
his account on the narrative of Maurice Channey, one of the monks who
escaped death by yielding to the king. The unhappy monk confesses that
he was a Judas among the apostles, and in a touching account of the ruin
that came upon his monastic retreat he praises the boldness and fidelity
of his companions, who preferred death to what seemed to them dishonor.

The pages of Channey are filled with the most improbable stories of
miracles, but his charming picture of the cloister life of the
Carthusians is doubtless true to reality. The Carthusian fathers were
the best fruit of monasticism in England. To a higher degree than any of
the other monastic orders they maintained a good discipline and
preserved the spirit of their founders. "A thousand years of the world's
history had rolled by," says Froude, "and these lonely islands of prayer
had remained still anchored in the stream; the strands of the ropes
which held them, wearing now to a thread, and very near their last
parting, but still unbroken." In view of the undisputed purity and
fearlessness of these noble monks, a recital of their woes will place
the case for the monastic institution in the most favorable light.

Channey says the year 1533 was ushered in with signs,--the end of the
world was nigh. Yes, the monk's world was drawing to a close; the moon,
for him, was turning into blood, and the stars falling from heaven.

More and Fisher were in the Tower. The former's splendid talents and
noble character still swayed the people. It was no time for trifling;
the Carthusian fathers must take the oath of allegiance or perish. So
one morning the royal commissioners appeared before the monastery door
of the Charterhouse to demand submission. Prior Houghton answered them:
"I know nothing of the matter mentioned; I am unacquainted with the
world without; my office is to minister to God, and to save poor souls
from Satan." He was committed to the Tower for one month. Then Dr.
Bonner persuaded the prior to sign with "certain reservations." He was
released and went back to his cloister-cell to weep. Calling his monks
together he said he was sorry; it looked like deceit, but he desired to
save his brethren and their order. The commissioners returned; the monks
were under suspicion; the reservations were disliked, and they must sign
without conditions. In great consternation the prior assembled the
monks. All present cried out: "Let us die together in our integrity, and
heaven and earth shall witness for us how unjustly we are cut off."
Prior Houghton conceived a generous idea. "If it depends on me alone; if
my oath will suffice for the house, I will throw myself on the mercy of
God; I will make myself anathema, and to preserve you from these
dangers, I will consent to the king's will." Thus did the noble old man
consent to go into heaven with a lie on his conscience, hoping to escape
by the mercy of God, because he sought to save the lives of his
brethren. But all this was of no avail; Cromwell had determined that
this monastery must fall, and fall it did. The monks prepared for their
end calmly and nobly; beginning with the oldest brother, they knelt
before each other and begged forgiveness for all unkindness and offence.
"Not less deserving," says Froude, "the everlasting remembrances of
mankind, than those three hundred, who, in the summer morning, sate
combing their golden hair in the passes of Thermopylae." But rebellion
was blazing in Ireland, and the enemies of the king were praying and
plotting for his ruin. These monks, with More and Fisher, were an
inspiration to the enemies of liberty and the kingdom. Catholic Europe
crouched like a tiger ready to spring on her prostrate foe. It is sad,
but these recluses, praying for the pope, instilling a love for the
papacy in the confessional, these honest and conscientious but dangerous
men must be shorn of their power to encourage rebels. There was a farce
of a trial. Houghton was brought to the scaffold and died protesting his
innocence. His arm was cut off and hung over the archway of the
Charterhouse, as other arms and heads were hideously hanging over many a
monastic gate in Merry England. Nine of the monks died of prison fever,
and others were banished. The king's court went into mourning, and Henry
knotted his beard and henceforth would be no more shaven--eloquent
evidence to the world that whatever motive dominated the king's heart,
these bloody deeds were unpleasantly disturbing. Certainly such a
spectacle as that of a monk's arm nailed to a monastery was never seen
by Englishmen before.

The Charterhouse fell, let it be carefully noted, because the monks
could not and would not acknowledge the king's supremacy, and not
because the monks were immoral. Some spies in Cromwell's service offered
to, bring in evidence against six of these monks of "laziness and
immorality." Cromwell indignantly refused the proposal, saying, "He
would not hear the accusation; that it was false, wilfully so."

The news of these proceedings, and of the beheading of More and Fisher,
awakened the most violent rage throughout Catholic Europe. Henry was
denounced as the Nero of his times. Paul III. immediately excommunicated
the king, dissolved all leagues between Henry and the Catholic princes,
and gave his kingdom to any invader. All Catholic subjects were ordered
to take up arms against him. Although these censures were passed, the
pope decided to defer their publication, hoping for a peaceful
settlement. But Henry knew, and the Catholic princes of Europe knew,
that the blow might fall at any time. He had to make up his mind to go
further or to yield unconditionally to the pope. The world soon
discovered the temper of the enraged and stubborn monarch. He might
vacillate on speculative questions, but there were no tokens of feeble
hesitancy in his dealings with Rome. The hour of doom for the
monasteries had struck.

Having thus glanced at the character of Henry VIII., the prime mover in
the attack upon the monasteries, and having surveyed some of the events
leading up to their fall, we are now prepared to consider the actual
work of suppression, which will be described under the following heads:
First, The royal commissioners and their methods of investigation;
Second, The commissioners' report on the condition of affairs; Third,
The action of Parliament; Fourth, The effect of the suppression upon the
people; and Fifth, The use Henry made of the monastic possessions. These
matters having been set forth, it will then be in order to inquire into
the justification, real or alleged, of the suppression.

_The Royal Commissioners and Their Methods of Investigation_

The fall of Sir Thomas More left Thomas Cromwell the chief power under
the king, and for seven years he devoted his great administrative
abilities to making his royal patron absolute ruler in church and state.

Cromwell, Earl of Essex, was of lowly origin, but his energy and
shrewdness, together with the experience acquired by extensive travels,
commanded the attention of Cardinal Wolsey, who took him into his
service. He was successively merchant, scrivener, money-lender, lawyer,
member of parliament, master of jewels, chancellor, master of rolls,
secretary of state, vicar-general in ecclesiastical affairs, lord privy
seal, dean of Wells and high chamberlain.

Close intimacy with Wolsey enabled Cromwell to grasp the full
significance of Henry's ambition, and his desire to please his royal
master, coupled with his own love of power, prompted him to throw
himself with characteristic energy into the work of centralizing all
authority in the hands of the king and of his prime minister. In secular
affairs, this had already been accomplished. The task before him was to
subdue the church to the throne, to execute which he became the
protector of Protestantism and the foe of Rome. Green says: "He had an
absolute faith in the end he was pursuing, and he simply hews his way to
it, as a woodman hews his way through the forest, axe in hand." Froude
says: "To him ever belonged the rare privilege of genius to see what
other men could not see, and therefore he was condemned to rule a
generation which hated him, to do the will of God and to perish in his
success. He pursued an object, the excellence of which, as his mind saw
it, transcended all other considerations, the freedom of England and the
destruction of idolatry, and those who, from any motive, noble or base,
pious or impious, crossed his path, he crushed and passed on over
their bodies."

There seems to be a general agreement that Cromwell was not a
Protestant. His struggle against the temporal power of the pope fostered
the reformatory movement, but that did not make Cromwell a Protestant
any more than it did his master, Henry VIII. Foxe describes Cromwell "as
a valiant soldier and captain of Christ," but Maitland retorts "that
Foxe forgot, if he ever knew, who was the father of lies."

Without doubt Cromwell ruled with an iron hand. He was guilty of
accepting bribes, and, as some maintain, "was the great patron of
ribaldry, and the protector of the low jester and the filthy." But,
sadly enough, that is no serious charge against one in his times. It is
said that Henry used to say, when a knave was dealt to him in a game of
cards, "Ah, I have a Cromwell!" Francis Aidan Gasquet, a Benedictine
monk, in his valuable work on "Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries,"
says of Cromwell: "No single minister in England ever exercised such
extensive authority, none ever rose so rapidly, and no one has ever left
behind him a name covered with greater infamy and disgrace."

In 1535, Henry, as supreme head of the church, appointed Cromwell as his
"Vicegerent, Vicar-General and Principal Commissary in causes
ecclesiastical." His immediate duty was to enforce recognition of the
king's supremacy. The monks and the clergy were now to be coerced into
submission. A royal commission, consisting of Legh, Layton, Ap Rice,
London and various subordinates, was appointed to visit the monasteries
and to report on their condition.

Henry Griffin says in his chronicle: "I was well acquainted with all the
commissioners; indeed I knew them well; they were very smart men, who
understood the value of money, for they had tasted of adversity. I think
the priests were the worst of the whole party, although they had a good
reputation at the time, but they were wicked, deceitful men. I am sorry
to speak thus of my own order, but I speak God's truth." "It is a
dreadful undertaking," said Lord Clinton. "Ah! but I have great faith in
the tact and judgment of the men I am about to select,"
retorted Cromwell.

Dr. John London was a base tool of Cromwell, and a miserable exponent of
the reform movement. He joined Gardiner in burning heretics, was
convicted of adultery at Oxford, was pilloried for perjury and died in
jail. The other royal agents were also questionable characters. Dean
Layton wrote the most disgusting letters to Cromwell. Once he informed
his patron that he prayed regularly for him, prefacing this information
with the remark, "I will now tell you something to make you laugh."

Father Gasquet sums up his view of the commissioners in the words of
Edmund Burke: "It is not with much credulity that I listen to any when
they speak ill of those whom they are going to plunder. I rather suspect
that vices are feigned, or exaggerated, when profit is looked for in the
punishment--an enemy is a bad witness; a robber worse." Burke
indignantly declares: "The inquiry into the moral character of the
religious houses was a mere pretext, a complete delusion, an insidious
and predetermined foray of wholesale and heartless plunder."

Such are the protests from the defenders of the monasteries even before
a hearing is granted. "What," say they, "believe such perjurers,
adulterers and gamblers; men forsworn to bring in a bad report; men who
were selected because they were worthless characters who could be
relied on to return false charges against an institution loved by
the people?"

The commissioners began their work at Oxford, in September, 1535. The
work was vigorously pushed. On reaching the door of a monastery, they
demanded admittance; if it was not granted, they entered by breaking
down the gate with an axe. They then summoned the monks before them, and
plied them with questions. An inventory was taken of everything; nothing
escaped their searching eyes. When the king decided to suppress the
lesser monasteries, and ordered a new visitation of the larger ones,
they seized and sold all they could lay their hands on; "stained glass,
ironwork, bells, altar-cloths, candles, books, beads, images, capes,
brewing-tubs, brass bolts, spits for cooking, kitchen utensils, plates,
basins, all were turned into money." Many valuable books were destroyed;
jewels and gold and silver clasps were torn from old volumes, and the

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