INNOCENT III THE GREAT
AN ESSAY ON HIS LIFE AND TIMES
C. H. C. PIRIE-GORDON
CONCERNING THE PERIOD OF INNOCENT THE THIRD
CONCERNING LOTHARIO DE' CONTI DI SEGNI
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND THE EMPIRE
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND THE FOURTH CRUSADE
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND SICILY
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND ALBIGENSIAN SYNCRETISM
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND ENGLAND
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND THE CITY
CONCERNING OTHER ACTS OF INNOCENT THE THIRD
CONCERNING THE CHARACTER OF INNOCENT THE THIRD
SERMON OF INNOCENT THE THIRD, PREACHED AT HIS OWN CONSECRATION
CONCERNING THE PERIOD OF INNOCENT THE THIRD
Europe, at the end of the Twelfth Century, was still new to the later Middle Ages. The period of Chaos was passed: but the period of coalescent atoms was still passing. The era of the dynasties had only just dawned in Italy. Amid a crowd of competitors, the great houses of the West had succeeded in building up nations over which they might rule, by whose strength they might exist, with whose taxes they might wage war. They had just become conscious of power. The Capets, helped by their geographical position, had definitely found their place in Europe; The Angevins were unwilling to become wholly insular: because they always had considered their royal island as a mere appendage to their continental duchies. It is true that the kings of the Peninsula as yet were not vitally concerned with dynastic problems. Their task was to contrive a continuous existence: for the Moors were still at Cordova, Lisbon looked across Tagus into Moorish territory, and Aragon stopped short near Ebro. Until this time, the tendency of Spain had been to localize: but the unity (when Spain was all Navarre) was certainly reviving, for Leon had sunk from the pride of parental independence to belong in secundo-geniture to the royal house of its daughter Castile. The Empire was practically accepted at its own valuation; and the Pope had less power in Rome than out of it His temporal pretensions, as always, were fairly comprehensive. His actual possessions, however, were somewhat meager. The Hohenstaufen were undecided whether they should be wholly German or wholly Sicilian—they would have been admirable as either; and, naturally, they could not but fail as both. The Byzantines still shielded the Balkan Peninsula from Islam—the Byzantines whose value never was appreciated properly, until treacherous crusaders (ring-led by scheming Venice) destroyed the great bulwark of Christendom, and miserably failed to erect anything in its place. A variety of Slovene states lay along the Danube and in the uplands from Dalmatia, as eager for recognition and notoriety as their geographical successors of the Twentieth Century. The Magyars had their own kingdom, and were by way of being an outpost of Christendom eastward: for beyond them, Russia (scarcely even Orthodox) was wedged between a Lithuania, still hideously heathen to the north-west, and sundry Tartar tribes professing a limited form of Islam to the south-east. In the north, Bohemia had a native dynasty; and a small Poland existed between Germany and the Military Mission of the “Knights of Christ” or “of the Sword” in Prussia and Livonia. Scandinavia was suffering from the reaction which stifled her energies after the great part played by her people in Europe in the previous centuries. Sweden’s energies revived three hundred years later: while our own eyes have seen the awakening of Norway.
The characteristic note of this period was unrest Christianity was only just beginning to be really secure from Saracens, Norse, Vandals, Goths, Huns and other Tartars: although it was to incur considerable danger through the foolishness of its professors at no distant time. The dynasties, having collected and consolidated their adherents, were about to begin to weave the webs of self-aggrandizement: which kept the peace of the world disturbed, until the principle of nationality succeeded that of dynastic interest as mischief-maker.
The unrest was caused by the somewhat critical position in which the affairs of Christendom stood. The Crusades had won the East: but the quarrels of the princes had lost it again; and Spain in the West was not yet conquered. A variety of exotic Christian states still lingered in the Levant—a castle here, an island there, and half a province somewhere else: but these were a source of weakness rather than of strength. The old crusading spirit was gone: the time when men esteemed it God’ service to fight the Muslim Infidel was passing; and the new spirit of commercialism was growing so rapidly, that in 1204 it twisted a whole crusade to its own ends. The Church’s power, of commanding wholesale and absolute obedience in secular matters, was in abeyance. Unless all the great princes would take the Cross, no one prince would: for the increasing complications of the new dynastic policy, which was beginning to be the fashion, made it absurd for any sovereign to be absent from his realm while his near neighbors stayed at home. The great Orders of the Hospital and of the Temple, the Teutonic Order, the Spanish Orders of Santiago, of Alcantara, of Calatrava, the Knights of the Sword or Brethren of the Militia of Christ, still to some extent kept alive the real crusading spirit on the Baltic: but even they were beginning to be rich, and to quarrel and fight with Christians, instead of devoting undivided energy to the extirpation of Infidels. Protective and commercial motives caused the idea of the Crusades to persist; but the ideal had perished with the last crusader (except St. Louis who lived out of his time) who fought the Saracen for the good of his soul and the saving of the Sepulcher — King Richard Lionheart, who (despite what moderns may urge against him) was a real and true crusader.
Such, then, in brief, was the period in which Lothario de' Conti di Segni, cardinal-deacon of SS. Sergius and Bacchus, arose to be the central figure as Supreme Pontiff, Maker and Unmaker of emperors, and Warden of Sicily: Who, as “Pater Principum ac Regum” interfered more with princes and kings of Europe and their national and private affairs than any of His predecessors on Peter’s throne: Who transformed a Bull of Excommunication from being the last whimper of an outraged sect to the rank of the most lethal weapon in European politics.
If the times were critical for Christendom because of external pressure and internal dissensions, they were at least as difficult for the Papacy. The Patrimony of Peter, from its geographical position, would be endangered by the existence of any more powerful state either in the north of Italy or in the south. When the Emperor's kingdom of Italy wished to expand, its first prey was the temporal dominion of the Holy See. When the kingdom of Sicily (called par excellence “Il Regno” in later Italian history) desired new provinces, its only neighbor was the Pope.
While different rulers controlled the two ends of the Peninsula, the temporal power of the Papacy could only continue to exist by deftly playing off one neighbor against the other, or by judiciously holding the balance between the two. When, however, the Roman Emperor happened also to be King of Sicily, the Patrimony indeed was in a parlous plight: for what could be more natural than that the Emperor should desire to give his diplarchy territorial continuity; and, were he able to do so, what would be the fate of the Papacy? However successful may be the modern solution of this problem, it is open to question whether the mediaeval Papacy could have succeeded without temporal power. A Rector Mundi who was only Pontifex Maximus and not Princeps as well, would have been likely to lapse into the honorable but inconsiderable position of a patriarch or an exaggerated bishop. There is ample evidence of the truth of this to be drawn from the history and status of the Holy See during the “Babylonian Captivity”. The pontifical policy, therefore, was to keep The Empire and The Kingdom not only territorially apart, but also politically separate and even hostile.
Again, the Pope's position in the Eternal City was constantly dangerous, and a perpetual source of trouble and disquiet. On the same erroneous (but popular) principle, which accords no honor to a prophet in his own country, no Pope was considered worthy to be obeyed in Rome. The turbulence of The City at this time is almost incredible: its entire disregard of authority in any form would be remarkable at any period; and the ease and rapidity, with which the fortunes of factions changed within its walls, can perhaps only be paralleled in the history of Greek colonial commonwealths. The normal condition of The City seems to have alternated between uproar and civil war, producing kaleidoscopic political and constitutional changes, and seasons of repentance and reaction, which served as intervals for recuperation and breathing-space preliminary to fresh outbursts of violence. Such was the city from which Innocent the Third began to rule the world. It is true that he managed to ameliorate its condition to some extent: but though His policy and calculated opportunities made him an arbitrator, peacemaker, and matchmaker of Europe, feudal suzerain of the Empire and the Kingdom, of England, and of Aragon—and though he (first of Popes) was able to establish a genuine Latin patriarchate in Constantinople—even he had to be content with a very much smaller measure of obedience from Rome than that which he exacted from princes and prelates beyond the Seven Hills.
From His very position a Pope was much more helpless in Rome than he was in Christendom. A mere heresy in Languedoc could be suppressed by bulls of confiscation, by grants of its lands to neighboring princes. A riot in Rome could not be quelled in this way: the Pope could not then summon external aid to maintain him in the mastery of his diocesan city. At least he did not. Innocent the Third might order King Philip the August and his vassals to annihilate Albigenses in France: but he could not ask for French troops to defend Rome against Italians, as Napoleon the Third did for Pius the Ninth. And he could not, on the other hand, relinquish irritating and fruitless struggles at his doors, and rule the world from untroubled quietude, as did Leo the Thirteenth.
In reviewing the policy of a Pope of the Twelfth Century it is well to remember that he dwelt amid alarums and excursions, ready at the shortest notice to fly for his life, to crown an emperor among the usual scenes of carnage and massacre, or to deal with a hostile army of foreigners from the impregnable fortress of Sant-Angelo. That the Lord Innocent was never hampered by the existence of an antipope is perhaps due, not so much to the forbearance or imbecility of his enemies, as to his Own personal force of character. Indeed, now that the lapse of seven centuries has enabled us to place Cardinal Lothario in something like his proper focus, it would be safe to say that, had he himself been elected pseudopaparch in opposition to some lawful holder of the Apostolic See, within six months the positions would have been reversed, and Christendom enthusiastically would have acclaimed him as a true successor of Saint Peter.
CONCERNING LOTHARIO DE' CONTI DI SEGNI
In order definitely to establish the genealogy of the House of Conti, it would be necessary to examine so many theories dealt with in so many mss. and printed books, to hunt down and expose so many invalid traditions, to strip off so many husks of fable from the kernel of truth, that a large folio in nonpareil barely would suffice for the record of so fascinating (and fruitless) an exercise. It will be better at once to confess that the questions whether Innocent the Third descended from the Lombard Faroald, Duke of Spoleto (575-591), or whether He sprang from the House of Tusculum to share distinction (or disgrace) with Colonna, are positively and unreservedly left open.
Trasimondo, Lord of Ferentino, was probably a nephew of that Cardinal “Saxo de Comitibus” who died in 1137. Their respective dates render this hypothesis plausible, and it should be noted that (according to Ciacconius) they both bore the chequy eagle of Conti. Trasimondo was the father of six sons. The eldest (also Trasimondo, Count of Segni) married Claricia, sister of Cardinal Paolo, of the senatorial House of Scotti, who afterwards became Pope Clement the Third. From this marriage sprang four children, of whom Lothario (born 11 58 or 1160) was the youngest. We know little or nothing of his early years: but it is not unfair to assume that, like other young Romans of his quality, he received the rudiments of his education at the school of Saint John Lateran. The influence of the cardinals of his family, his uncles Paolo de' Scotti, Giovanni de' Conti, and Ottaviano de' Poli, procured him a few benefices in Rome and Anagni: which, as Ciacconius says, no doubt assisted the boy in his education. He seems to have preserved agreeable memories of one of his tutors at Lateran, Pietro Hismael, whom he preconised Bishop of Sutri on his own accession to the pontificate.
Paris was his university—at that time the premier seat of learning in Christendom, only Bologna venturing to dispute its otherwise unquestioned primacy, and then in canon law alone. The University of Paris was, in the full intention of the word, a university. It was international, supernational, and even (in virtue of its wide privileges) largely extranational. That it was not to be esteemed French, or even a part of France, is shown by the oft-recurring fact that popes, princes, and private persons were content to use it for a court of arbitration—a custom which lasted long after its unchallenged supremacy in the republic of letters had passed to Oxford. The University of Paris, in fact, was regarded as a court of final appeal in all matters theological, moral, and political. Thus we find King Henry Fitzempress offering to submit the question of his differences with Archbishop Thomas (Beket) to the decision of the University of Paris as being above nationality or party. Even the Roman Curia acknowledged that, in Paris, were gathered the principal theologians of the Church—and, what Rome was pleased to acknowledge in the Twelfth Century, Avignon and the Popes of the Great Schism were glad to rely upon in the Fourteenth. Paris, therefore, was a most suitable scene for the training of a young man destined for a career in a Church Whose boast is that She knows no nationality (excepting, of course, in the case of candidates for the pontifical throne). Prelates of rank were pleased to be professors of Paris as well. Bishop Gilbert de la Poirée became a lecturer there: so also did Pierre Comestor, the Eater of Books, Chancellor of the cathedral of Paris. Mathieu of Angers and Melchior of Pisa were raised to the purple: Gerard de la Pucelle and Anselme became respectively Bishops of Coventry and Meaux, without separating themselves from the University.
It was to Pierre de Corbeil that Lothario de' Conti owed his subsequently high reputation as a canonist, but as a canonist of broad mind and luminous ideas. Nor was Innocent the Third tardy in acknowledging the obligations thus incurred. His old instructor was made prebendary of York, then Bishop of Cambray, and soon afterwards was promoted, almost against his will, to the archiepiscopal see of Sens. Insomuch did the old man protest against advancement, that when (having neglected pontifical orders to proceed against a noble who made light of his new dignity) the Pope charged him with ingratitude, cynically remarking to his former tutor, Ego te episcopavi. Nor did Innocent forget His fellow-students: to some (whose merit deserved it) He gave a seat in the Sacred College—as to Robert Curson: to others, sees : to others, mitred abbacies.
Lothario’s studies were almost entirely patristic and rhetorical. Besides canon law and the Fathers, he was taught the art of composing and delivering sermons—discourses which are notable, not only for the comparative excellence of their Latinity, but for their erudition and high moral teaching. Some facility in prose composition was also acquired: but it was more as a writer of sermons for vocal delivery than as the author of treatises that Lothario shines as a stylist. His writings are too cramped with detail, too elaborated with texts, too tinged by a melancholy temperament: but his sermons, even to read, are stirring—how much more so when declaimed from the pulpit by a Pope! From Paris, in pursuit of further learning, Lothario proceeded to the University of Bologna, at that time very celebrated for its school of jurisprudence; and when, at length, he returned to Rome, he brought with him the degree of Master of Arts, and a very distinguished reputation for scholarship and force of character.
In addition to his studies in the history of the Church which he was to rule, Lothario had had the unique advantage of living quite close (both in time and place) to one of the most famous chapters of that history. Only a few years before he went to Paris, there had been unrolled before an astounded (and afterward terror-stricken) Europe, the whole of the Beket controversy, with its rapid swordplay of spiritualities against temporalities, the bitter grinding of two iron wills, and the final tragedy of sacrilege and martyrdom, which won far more for the Church than could have been obtained by twenty vigorous years of archiepiscopate. While still an undergraduate at Paris, Lothario had made a pilgrimage to the new shrine of the new Saint Thomas in Canterbury Cathedral. So much the historian may record. What he cannot write down among his historical facts are the impressions, quite indubitably formative, perdurable, and even directive, which this really momentous pilgrimage must have had upon the plastic mind of the future Pope.
One of the things which make Innocent the Third an interesting figure, not only to the historian, but also to the thoughtful student of his kind, is His humanity. He is not, as many Popes of the Middle Ages are, a mere clarion call, a mere piece of pageant, or a merely misty schoolman. There are many gaps in His history which we cannot fill: but at least we have evidence to show that He was a man of like passions with ourselves; and therefore near, and understandable — liked perhaps, loathed perhaps, but understandable.
He returned to Rome after the usual course of years engaged in accumulating facts; and immediately, like many another graduate, suffered much during the inevitable digestive period of mental growth. He became a prey to a form of melancholy exaltation—a state of ferment caused by reviewing the world, the flesh, and the devil from his newly attained theoretic standpoint. While he was in this condition, he (in common with many young religious writers, who have undergone a long imprisonment alone with ideas) indulged in gruesome excesses of descriptive writing, which (by their grisly intensity and the unnecessary minuteness of their detail) clearly show that (having knowledge in profusion) he lacked experience. It was extremely natural that a young man, fermenting with the unassimilated learning of Paris and Bologna, should try to persuade, first himself by meditation, and afterwards others by verbose tractates, that true salvation and the way to it were to be found in morbid contemplation of death and the processes of the phenomenon of putrescence.
It was certainly as well for himself as for the subsequent history of the paparchy, that Gregory the Eighth saw fit to separate him definitely from the world, by calling him to the subdiaconate and active work of the Church : for, by this means, a term was placed upon the extrospective broodings which one sees reflected in the pages of De Contemptu Mundi—broodings which might so easily have become introspective, and have led him inevitably to a hermit’s cell : whereby the Church might have been richer in possessing an obscure misanthropic and socially unpleasing saint, but the apostolic throne would certainly have lacked one of its brightest ornaments, and Christendom the whole-hearted service of a mighty intellect.
Shortly after the accession of his maternal uncle as Pope, under the name of Clement the Third, in 1187, Lothario was raised to the cardinal-diaconate and attached to the urban church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus. Of his service in his cardinalature, as well as in a canonry of Saint Peter’s-by-the-Vatican which seems to have been conferred upon him, there are not many records —a few signatures as witness, a few letters to canons: but we are told that his curial activities were considerable. In his capacity of what two centuries later would have been called "Cardinal-Nephew", one of his first works was to restore the battered fabric of his titular church. "He restored, at his own expense, the aforesaid church, which was so shapeless and ruinous that it resembled rather a crypt than a basilica". Clement the Third died in 1191, and was succeeded by Cardinal Bubo Orsini, who imposed upon himself the name of Celestine the Third. During this reign Lothario's energies were no longer employed at the Lateran: he and his family being eclipsed by the relatives and adherents of the new Pope; and thus he was enabled to enjoy considerable leisure, which he employed variously, partly at Segni, partly at Anagni, finishing De Contemptu Mundi. That he was not definitely banished from Rome, is shown by the fact that he witnessed two Bulls of the Lord Celestine—In eminenti Apostolice sedis, 29 Sept 1193, and Religiosam vitam, 4 Nov. 1197, both given in the Bullarium Magnum; and he certainly was able to keep sufficiently in the public eye to be accounted a “papabile” for the next conclave. “As he grew in age, so also did he in probity before God and all the people, and all expected and hoped for his elevation”. Nor was Rome disappointed of its hoped-for sensation. At the conclave of twenty-eight cardinals, which was immured at the monastery of Septa Solis Clivisauri, the Sacred College set aside the strange recommendation of the dying Orsini Pontiff, of Giovanni de' Colonna; and elected its twenty-sixth member to the see of Saint Peter. This election was most dramatic. It was regarded as distinctly sancti spiritual in inspiration, and quite unworldly, even unconclavial, in its total freedom from party bitterness and the usual meannesses of interest and influence, tricks of canvassing, and long-drawn scrutinies. It seems that two other cardinals—Giordano da Ceccano, presbyter of the Title of S. Pudentiana—of whom Palatius (quoted by Hürter) says, Prensavit pontificatum sed frustra—and Giovanni da Salerno, presbyter of the Title of S. Stephanus in Monte Caelio—who (says Raynaldus) obtained ten votes—joined Giovanni de' Colonna, presbyter of the Title of S. Prisca, in acceding with their suffrages to the young Cardinal-deacon of SS. Sergius and Bacchus.
A dove is said to have settled upon the coach of Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti while driving from Imola in 1846 to take the name of Pius the Ninth in Rome; and an equally felicitous tradition asserts that three of these birds hovered above Lothario de' Conti during the conclave, and that the whitest of them descended upon his head at the moment of His election, 8 Jan. 1198. Being only in deacon's orders, He was ordained priest on 22 Feb., and consecrated bishop by the Cardinal-bishops of Albano, Porto, and Ostia on the following day, when He also received the pontifical crown, and took possession of his cathedral church of Lateran. It is quite worth noting, as a token of the extraordinary vigor of mind, no less than of the delightful unconventionality of the Lord Innocent’s character, that, between the date of his election and his ordination, he composed and elaborated sermons explaining his own conceptions of his dignity—sermons which he actually preached at his own ordination and consecration.
The last In consecratione Romani pontificis, contains so much matter of surprising excellence, that one ventures to subjoin a translation in an appendix.
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND THE EMPIRE
When Innocent the Third began to reign in 1198, the status of the Papacy, its temporal power and spiritual prestige, depended in no small degree on the personality of the new Pope. There were possibilities on all sides capable of leading to widely different results. On the one hand, the Papacy might soar above the Empire and be a spiritual sun in the firmament of the world —it might become a power superior to the Empire, in that the successor of Peter might dispose of the imperial and all other Christian crowns. On the other hand, the Papacy might sink beneath the Empire—Peter might pass under the control of Caesar, occupying a mere patriarchate with a spiritual importance little greater than that of Mainz or Koln, and become a see filled by German prelates nominated by the German king, simply in order that he might have someone to give him the two crowns of the Roman Empire and to be viceroy of a German garrison in conquered Italy. There was a third course, an indefinite one—a course in which Papacy and Empire would fight hard for niggling successes, each claiming to be the other's superior, each secretly afraid that it was the other's inferior, neither being quite convinced about its own status, and both behaving as though a policy of opportunism was its settled method and part of a long and carefully considered scheme.
As well as possibilities there were certain solid facts. The Papacy claimed the kingdom of Sicily (more modernly known as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies) as a feudal fief in virtue of its acknowledged relations with the Norman kings. Henry the Sixth, the late emperor, had held Sicily iure uxoris; and had considered the Matildan lands (Tuscany, Parma, Mantua, Modena), as well as the Marches, Pentapolis, and all Lombardy, as part of the Empire. Also he had contended that a Roman emperor could be no man's vassal, not even Saint Peter's. And all of this the Popes disputed. Innocent the Third, by claiming a great deal, might very reasonably expect to realize some part thereof; and historians may just as well frankly recognize once for all the fact that the Church stood for Italy against the Germans, and not simply as Peter against Caesar. The Pope indeed said quite frequently that He stood for Italy, and harped on the fact that Germans were outlanders and barbarous of habit, being moreover afflicted with a language uncouth to polite ears. Had such an idea as that of “Italia Unica e Libera” existed at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Church might aptly have been called the patriotic party, and Innocent the Third the national hero. But unfortunately none of the actors of our period knew the names of the characters they personated.
From the very first, fortune favored the Pope. At his accession he at once found himself supreme arbitrator of Christendom. Three kings of Germany happened to have realized that no one but the Pope could make an emperor; and they, consequently, were competitors for his support and favor. Of these three, the Lord Innocent already was warden of the youngest and (according to modern reckoning) the legitimate claimant. But, apart from this temporary relation (which, while it lasted, might have been twisted to the advantage of the Apostolic See), the position of Frederick of Hohenstauffen, as King of Sicily iure matris, would have been dangerous to the temporal independence of the Papacy, were he to be also Emperor. The next pretender, Duke Philip of Swabia, uncle and next heir (as far as the Hohenstauffen lands were concerned) to Frederick, was a candidate for the Empire, chiefly in order to keep the crown in the family: for he knew that, however legitimate and duly-elected King Frederick might be, he would (as a minor) have no chance of retaining in permanence either title or demesnes. Therefore Duke Philip (while he personally perfectly respected his nephew and the latter's claims and position) looked upon himself just as the Uncle-Regent. That he aspired to the imperial title is, in itself, no proof of treachery against his nephew: for the custom of having more than one emperor was by no means uncommon in the Eastern Empire, when reasons (for such a condition of affairs) existed similar to those which had newly arisen in the Western. Duke Philip’s basic policy simply amounted to a determination to keep the imperial dignity in the House of Hohenstaufen. The real heir, being an infant barely out of arms, could not possibly take the necessary steps to do this: therefore he, Duke Philip, had himself elected, to prevent the crown from falling into alien hands; and the South Germans were his chief adherents. The third (and foreign) pretender, Otto of Brunswick, Count of Poitou, Earl of York, was a nephew of King Richard Lionheart, who had raised him to high dignities, both in his continental and insular dominions. He had been brought up rather as an Angevin than a German; and had only some slight support from the princes of the North-west.
The principal members of the Hohenstaufen party, the Ghibellines, were Archbishops Ludolf of Magdeburg and Hartwich of Bremen, who respectively wanted the lordships of Sonnenburg and Stade: Archbishop Adelbert of Salzburg, Bishops Diethelm of Konstanz and Wolfgard of Passau, who were family friends: Bishops Gerard of Osnabruck and Thiemo of Bamberg, apparently from self-interest: Bishop Conrad of Hildesheim, Chancellor of the Empire: and the Bishops of Brixen and Eichstadt. Beside these, the Dukes of Carinthia, Bernard II of Saxony, Ludwig I of Bavaria, and the whole posse of Saxon, Franconian, and Swabian counts, also followed Duke Philip. Many of these princes held fiefs which had been confiscated by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa from the House of Brunswick: it was therefore opposed to their interest that Duke Otto should be elected, or indeed anyone who was not a Hohenstaufen.
The principal members of the Brunswick party, the Guelfs, were Archbishop Adolf of Koln, Archbishop Johan I of Trier, Bishop Hermann of Münster, Bishop Heinrich of Strassburg, the Bishops of Paderborn, Minden, Cambray and Utrecht, the Abbots of Verden and Corvey. To these must be added Dukes Henry of Brabant and Walram of Limburg, Counts Baldwin of Flanders, Wilhelm of Jülich, Volkwin of Waldeck. the Landgrave Hermann of Thuringia, and Henry Count Palatine of the Rhine. All the princes and bishops of the Netherlands hung together: but it must not be assumed, from the similarity of titles, that a Duke of Brabant or Limburg was the equal in any sense of the Duke of Bavaria or of Saxony. Further, the archbishopric of Mainz was vacant, the Jupan of Bohemia was busy with civil war at home, and the Duke of Austria was about to die: so none of these voted for Otto. But (apart from the comparative insignificance of the Guelf party) an analysis of the subsequent proceedings of the personages named in the foregoing category will show that the Ottonian faction was not rendered invincible (as insignificant factions have been known to be) by the consolidating bond of loyalty. The Arch- bishop of Koln, the Bishop of Münster, the Abbots of Verden and Corvey, the Duke of Brabant, and the Count of Jülich ratted to the Ghibellines for no honorable reasons. Even Henry Count Palatine deserted his brother Otto (who refused him the seneschality of Lichtenberg) to accept that of Goslar from Philip. The Landgrave of Thuringia left the Brunswicker, on account of a family quarrel. Count Baldwin of Flanders, who in the first place had only been a Guelf because he was afraid of King Philip of France, went away to become Emperor of Romania. Lastly, the Archbishop of Trier (who had been vastly bribed by Duke Otto) actually went over to the Ghibellines and crowned Duke Philip. This left Otto only the support of the Duke of Limburg and the Count of Waldeck with the Netherlands bishops and the Bishop of Strassburg. The allegiance of the last, perhaps, was the most worth having: it was due to the strong motive of revenge, his brother having been murdered by Duke Philip’s predecessor. Apart from these allies Otto could only hope for help from France, or from the Papacy.
As it was to the interest of the Papacy to have a weak Emperor, it is only natural to suppose that the Lord Innocent from the very first had a predisposition toward the Guelf candidate. Duke Otto of Brunswick was bound to appear to the Holy See as a man whose election would damage the prospects of the hereditary principle in the Empire, the confirmation of which principle would have gone as far to solidify the imperial power as it would to abolish opportunities for Papal intervention in Imperial affairs.
Still such was not actually the case.
At first the Pope announced that he was going to be neutral in the matter of the disputed German kingship. He even appears to have inclined toward the Swabian Philip, as being more likely to be able to assist the Church, if won over to Her side, than the Saxon Otto in whose favor it would be more natural for the pontifical policy to have moved. It is indeed an instance of the Lord Innocent's readiness to do violence to his own feelings and throw precedent and inherited policy to the winds, if by so doing He might build one more step to the Siege of Peter whereon it might tower the higher over the minds of men.
The Emperor Henry, among other things for which he was hated (and quite possibly poisoned) by his southern subjects, had carried off the Archbishop of Salerno, and imprisoned him beyond the Alps. The Pope was of opinion that it would redound to the credit of the Papacy in the eyes of the Italians were this prelate to be released at his instigation : and it was his object to arouse some feeling of the entity of Italy among her inhabitants. Therefore, after giving time for the neutrality proclamation to have effect upon Duke Philip, the Pope sent the Bishop of Sutri to suggest that, if his brother of Salerno were to be released, the Celestinian excommunication (under which the Swabian still languished) would certainly be removed, while it was quite possible that further favors would follow.
No one knows to what desirable end this train of policy might have led, had not the pig-headed German who filled the see of Sutri taken the bit between his teeth, granted unconditional relief from the ban (refraining from mentioning the hard case of the unhappy archbishop), and hurried to grace Philip's coronation in his official capacity : so inducing the Hohenstaufen adherents to think that Rome was with them—all this because he was a party man. We have here an admirable example of the way in which the Lord Innocent was only too often served.
Self-interest or policy, which, on the one hand, won for Duke Otto the friendship of the Roman Pontiff, on the other hand lost him that of the King of France. The nephew and friend of the Angevin and English Plantagenets (represented by King Richard Lionheart, the dear friend of Innocent the Third) could not at the same time be the friend of the French Capets. Indeed the French King wrote complaining of the elevation of Otto, upbraiding the Pope in a most unfilial manner for supporting him. Old ideals were passing away, notably that of the position of the Empire: which, in its highest conception, was almost a kind of lay Papacy, fitted into the structure of the body politic of Christendom, with the Roman Pontificate balancing it as a sort of spiritual Empire. The Emperor ought not to belong to a Country, still less to a Family, but to Christendom. How could this ideal be realized when two party nominees disputed for the Empire with civil war and foreign alliances? How could the Emperor personify Europe in arms against the Infidel in a new Crusade, as the temporal lord of Christendom, wielding the civil sword at the bidding of his spiritual co-equal, the Pope, if the personality of the Emperor differed geographically, being Otto of Brunswick here, or Philip of Swabia there, or little Frederick of Sicily elsewhere?
King Richard Plantagenet, who (if one may judge him from their correspondence) was on most amicable terms with the Pope, supported his nephew Duke Otto in an appeal for recognition by Rome. This was not only diplomatic, but according to precedent.
Duke Philip, whom the Pope would willingly have supported had his conditions been complied with, also appealed to Rome: but his course was beset by difficulties from the very beginning. First, there was the difficulty of his excommunication by Celestine the Third. That, he fondly imagined, was removed by Pope Innocent's absolution, sent through the Bishop of Sutri, who by his strange bungle in according absolution without insisting upon the Pope's conditions, may safely be said to have lost the Lord Innocent His grip over Philip, and so diverted the whole course of the pontifical policy with regard to the disputed election. It is true that the said absolution was accorded with an alacrity, which, to a cautious prince, might have seemed suspicious: but Duke Philip was too much in a hurry to verify suspicions. Indeed they do not seem to have occurred at all. He probably judged the Pope from a purely secular standpoint; and, that a Conti should be prompt in reversing a decree of an Orsini (Orsini being Conti's hereditary enemy), no doubt appeared quite natural to the Swabian pretender. Again, when Philip had actually been elected, he had another difficulty in getting crowned. Aachen, the traditional place of coronation for a German King, was out of the question: but eventually the ceremony was performed at Mainz by Archbishop Johan of Trier and the Bishop of Tarentaise. But, only a little later, the Lord Innocent wrote to the former austerely threatening him with suspension, unless he should at once betake himself to Rome, to apologize humbly for his assumption of the office of a coronator. The archbishop obeyed, and the Pope pardoned him in a breve, dated 8 Nov. 1202; but conditionally upon his according his support to Duke Otto: failing this, he would be excommunicated campanellis et candelis. No doubt this was very disconcerting for Philip: but still he was strong in his family's influence, the priority of his election, the quantity not less than the quality of his supporters; and consequently, he was by no means as eager to humble himself before the Pope (of whom he entertained a not ill-founded Hohenstaufen distrust) as was his more despairing adversary.
Otto’s case might be justly described as quite desperate. His uncle, Richard Plantagenet, unfortunately died in 1199; and, in spite of a will in his favor, Otto found himself deprived of extremely vital support. For King John Softsword, while sending promises of assistance, kept the legacy for himself; and many princes of the Empire swung over to Philip. But King Richard evidently had been a man after the Pope’s own heart: for, when Otto’s prospects were blackest, the Lord Innocent came definitely and actively to the assistance of His dead friend’s nephew. First, the Swabian embassy was coldly received in Rome, and obliged to listen to a Bull (read to them at a consistory in the Lateran) in which the pontifical position towards the Empire was summed up in the following mordant epigram,— “He who is anointed is less than He who anoints, and He who anoints is more worshipful than he who is anointed”. This was at the end of May. A month later, the Pope addressed a general epistle to the princes and prelates of Germany, concerning the Swabian pretender; and, early in Jan. 1201, He published the famous Deliberatio which is contained in the Bull Interest Apostolice Sedis. In this document, the Lord Innocent, affecting a judicial manner, and expounding the case under the heads of quid liceat, quid deceat, and quid expediat, reviewed the claims of the three candidates; and, though in a modern Jesuit his judgment would be called a masterpiece of casuistry (in the invidious and unwarrantable second intention of the term), he had the courage to follow his premises to their logical and inevitable conclusion. The election of the baby Frederick of Sicily as King, although unanimous, was illegal: because at the time he had not been baptized. The election of Philip of Swabia was simply null and void (because he had been excommunicated), as was also the absolution on which he so fondly flattered himself, which (owing to the stupid blunder of the Bishop of Sutri) had been represented as unconditional instead of conditional as the Pope had intended. But beside this the Swabian was damned on a second count as well. There was another Bull— (it is quoted in a letter to the archbishops of the Kingdom dated 10 Aug. 1199) — excommunicating Markwald von Anweiler and all Germans in arms against Frederick as King of Sicily. It could not be denied that Philip was a German; and, as he apparently was claiming the Empire against Frederick, (to whom he had sworn allegiance) he was, by virtue of this Bull, excommunicate as being a rebel against his nephew. That Philip’s oath to Frederick was null and void, as being made to an unbaptized person, did not mitigate Philip’s liability, because Frederick’s disability had not been defined when the oath was taken. Philip had sworn in good faith, and was therefore bound by his oath until formally dispensed after the definition of aforesaid disability. Therefore the Duke of Swabia as a perjurer, was denounced as being wholly unfit for the highest secular office in Christendom. Furthermore, Philip’s claims being thus rejected, the Scripture which says “Woe to the kingdom whose king is a child”, seemed to clench the matter also as regarded Frederick; and, in consequence, Duke Otto of Brunswick, (although the nominee of a discontented minority, and quite illegally elected,) was to be German King and Elect-Emperor of the Romans. As such indeed he is addressed in a letter of 1 Mar. 1201; and in return he made fairly comprehensive promises concerning rights which as yet he scarcely understood. Dated on the same day a great mass of letters to various princes and prelates in Germany proceeded from Rome: those to the prelates, expatiating upon Philip’s previous excommunication by Celestine the Third: those to the southern princes, urging them to rally to the Guelf cause. An obscure knight, Walther von Bolland, even secured a whole epistle to himself, praising his desertion of Philip. This may well serve as an example of the Pope’s thoroughgoing energy in Otto’s cause when once he had made up his mind to adopt it.
We are not concerned with the internal history of the German civil war, except in its international bearings. It is here that the correspondence of the Lord Innocent contained in the Regesta, catalogued by Potthast, and mostly transcribed by Migne, becomes extremely interesting. We find no less than eight epistles addressed to King John Softsword between 1200 and 1206 urging payment of King Richard’s legacies to the Elect-Emperor. Three went to King Philip the August, impressing him with the necessity of accepting Otto and discarding the Duke of Swabia. The Pope even took charge of the matrimonial affairs of his protégé — two letters to her father in 1202-3 pointed out the eligibility of the Duke of Braban’s daughter as Empress. And, when a disposition to favor Duke Philip began to manifest itself in the German hierarchy, the Lord Innocent was seized with a positive scribendi cacoethes of letters minatory or persuasive. He had been deeply annoyed, that, at the election to the see of Mainz in 1200, the Guelfic Siegfried von Eppstein should have secured only three votes against the nine of the Ghibelline Leopold von Schonfeld: while the unfortunate Archbishop of Besançon, for rendering royal honors to the Duke of Swabia, was menaced with excommunication campanis pulsatis et candelis extinctis with quite unexpected acridity.
Although the Pope was burning with zeal for a Crusade, and well knew that the distressed and divided conditions of the Empire forbade any hope of assistance for his darling scheme from that quarter: yet, nevertheless, He was bound both by honor and interest to support Otto now. Without pontifical assistance, and the constant support afforded through epistles, legates, and malediction of his enemies, the Elect-Emperor and his claims would have withered beyond recognition. Even with all these auxiliaries, numbers of his supporters melted away in spite of every effort to retain them, until he was reduced to a single city, and that (be it noted) in his hereditary dominions.
The Lord Innocent was moved, not so much by the loss of skirmishes or the failure of military maneuvers, as by the continued desertions which weakened the Guelfic cause. The German princes and prelates of both parties were phenomenally mercenary and interested in their motives, and altogether oblivious of the merits of the causes which they alternately espoused. So long as pay was forthcoming—whether it took the shape of silver marks, grants of new lordships, confirmations of old spoliations, or advantageous marriages for themselves or their children, just so long were they loyal to their leader: but no longer.
In this competition. King Otto, from the first, was severely handicapped. The extent of territory which owed him obedience was smaller than that of his rival: this means that he had fewer lordships wherewith to satiate the maws of his ravening parasites. His family possessions were less wide than the Swabian’s; and even they were largely possessed by other people — by his enemies whose evacuation he was too weak to contrive, and by his friends of whom he dared not demand restitution for fear of changing them into enemies. And at the same time, the absence of bullion in his treasury most seriously hampered him. He had, from his uncle King John Lackland, whole sheaves of promises to pay the various legacies bequeathed by the Lionheart’s will: but these were not negotiable securities either in Germany or elsewhere. John did, however, pay 9000 marks to Otto’s military chest on 28 Jan. 1213. This is a good exemplification of the adage “Honor among thieves”: both these noble men being, at the time, excommunicated and deposed from their respective thrones.
Duke Philip of Swabia, on the other hand, was far from being pinched by penury; and, further, he had the very nicest knowledge of the price of a German prince. The Jupan ot Bohemia, for instance, who (with the true Slovene thirst for regality) had long styled himself King, was gratified by Philip’s pretended-imperial recognition of his claim; and was secured as a loyal Ghibelline. The sequel is delightfully illustrative of the manners of these mediaeval peoples. The crafty Ottokar later conceived a desire for pontifical recognition also of his kingly title; and allowed himself to Guelfize for a few months for the express purpose of obtaining it. This must in no way be accounted a diplomatic triumph for the Pope's bow and spear, but simply a maneuver prompted by the Czech’s vanity. For, as soon as he was registered as King of Bohemia at the Lateran and at Otto's court at Brunswick, as well as with the Ghibellines, he was very easily frightened back to his former allegiance by Duke Philip's threat of confiscation. Indeed he may be said to have done very well for himself: for, by his latest tergiversation, he gained Duke Philip's daughter Kunigunde as his queen.
The good Bishop Diethelm of Konstanz (who was Ghibelline from conviction as well as from gratitude for favors past received) was one of the chief pillars of the Swabian party. Count Wilhelm of Jülich (who is credibly asserted to have surpassed all the rest of his contemporaries in the scandal of his life) had recently turned his coat in return for a lordship worth 600 marks a year and some other minor considerations. This ill-yoked pair set themselves to win over no less a personage than Archbishop Adolf I of Koln, who was the heart and the soul of the Guelfs. Bishop Diethelm acted according to his conscience. The Count of Jülich was well paid for his services; and, as they were successful, the money was well spent. The archbishop was offered a Ghibelline confirmation of all the Guelfic gifts, and not a few further inducements. He wavered — held out for a good price—and sold himself for 9000 pieces of silver. The price of a German archbishop transcended that of a Jewish apostle. Saalfeld, given by Otto in return for services at election, was confirmed to Adolf; and, on the morrow of Saint Martin, 1204, he swore fidelity to Duke Philip. On the same day, the Duke of Brabant and Lower Lorraine also became Ghibelline: his price was the abbey of Nivelle, the lordship of Neuss, half Alsace and Boppard, with permission for daughters to inherit instead of these fiefs lapsing to the Empire. Archbishop Adolf, with all the enthusiasm of a convert, proposed to crown Philip in Aachen, so as to rectify the possibly invalid coronation at Mainz: but the inhabitants of Aachen were staunch Guelfs; and (after bitterly reproaching the prelate for his fickleness) they complained about him to the Pope.
The Lord Innocent kept himself always well posted in German affairs. He had noted that for some time past, Archbishop Adolf’s efforts on Otto’s behalf had been perfunctory and half-hearted; and had long suspected him of lukewarmness: but the news of the treachery came as a distinct blow. To judge from the letters which the Pope sent in old days to Adolf, the latter would seem to have been almost a personal friend; and, although his Paternity was in duty bound to punish the erring prelate by excommunication and deposition, yet he was apparently more grieved than angry, and continued to correspond with him during his disgrace, and even conferred a pension on him, 7 Nov. 1209. Further, the Pope wrote to Siegfried von Eppstein, whom, (over-riding the capitular vote) he had preconized to the archbishopric of Mainz, directing him to remonstrate with the transgressor and, if in vain, to report to Rome. He also decided that in future, German archbishops would not only have to take the customary oath on receipt of the archiepiscopal pallium from Saint Peter’s tomb, but also to sign and seal a document, wherein they swore unqualified obedience in all things to Peter's Successor. Without doubt, Caesar’s distress was Peter’s opportunity.
Duke Philip, however, determined to make the best of his chances, summoned his adherents to see him crowned by the Archbishop of Koln at Aachen on New Year’s day 1205. This news aroused the Elect-Emperor Otto from his lethargy at Brunswick, where he, for some time, had been enjoying himself heedless of imperial affairs and the growing insecurity of his position. He, too, summoned his supporters—(now reduced to the Duke of Limburg, his own brother William, Archbishop von Eppstein of Mainz, the Bishop of Cambray, and the Abbot of Verden)—to meet him at Aachen; and marched to that city, with the idea of holding it against Philip. But the disparity of forces rendered this impossible; and after some fighting, Otto (being injured by a fall) retired to Koln.
Duke Philip’s next step was both ingenious and diplomatic. At Aachen, with great pomp, he abdicated the kingdom: deposited the regal insignia; and (as Duke of Swabia) solicited election as king. This was unanimously and enthusiastically accorded; and, having now swept away all but the radical ground of reproach as to the irregularity of his election, Philip and his queen, Irene (the daughter of Isaac II Angelos), were solemnly anointed, consecrated, and crowned by the right archbishop on the traditional spot for such ceremonies. Whatever Otto might claim to be in virtue of pontifical recognition, Philip at least was king by free election and valid (if illicit) coronation. As for the vital matter of pontifical confirmation, Philip no doubt was satisfied for the present with the fact that he practically had his nation behind him. The other, no doubt, would come in due time. It is one thing to ask the Father of princes and kings for a crown which neither He nor the applicant holds: it is quite another thing to petition for ratification of a diadem which one has on one’s brow.
Otto at this juncture seems to have behaved in an extremely inadequate manner. He might have retained his friends with a little exertion—the Abbot of Corvey, for instance, for whom he might have requested a mitre (as he successfully did for the Abbot of Verden) and who, piqued by his sovereign’s neglect, went and swore allegiance to King Philip at his coronation. Otto did succeed in preventing Archbishop Adolf from carrying Koln along with him: but was unable to bold it against Philip. A German city, however, never at any time was noted for loyalty to its episcopal ruler; and very little effort on Otto's part sufficed to recapture it. But Philip, tenacious as usual, took it back again; and, having visited the city in state at Easter 1207 and confirmed and extended its commercial privileges, taught the Kolners the advantage of being on the winning side.
Even Pope Innocent, notwithstanding his devotion for Otto, was far too astute to persist in imposing him as emperor upon the German people and the princes of the Empire, who manifestly were determined to prefer Philip of Swabia. Yet, there were many outstanding questions to be settled between himself and Philip, before he could transfer his favor to the Ghibelline. He therefore prepared a truce; and insisted to King Philip that the claims of the Apostolic See in all ecclesiastical disputes should be conceded. The Guelfic archbishops were to be kept no longer out of their sees. The deposed Adolf I of Koln was not to be maintained in his illegal position. Leopold von Schönfeld, the Ghibelline Archbishop of Mainz, was to be deprived of his temporalities; and Bruno V was to be set at liberty in order that he might succeed his rival Adolf in the see of Koln. Finally the army prepared against Otto was to be disbanded. With the curious propensity which the Church in all ages has shown for furbishing up rusty weapons, old scores, forgotten grudges (when anything is to be gained thereby), Innocent offered a full, complete, and unconditional absolution from the Celestinian excommunication as the price of the renunciation.
Philip was unwilling to agree to the last demand; and it was not until his own embassy returned from Rome, assuring him that he had no alternative, that he gave way. Quite apart from the difference of their respective positions. Innocent was a far greater man than Philip; and the latter was not the first German sovereign—or the last—who has shattered his mailed fist upon the Rock of Peter. He therefore agreed to the pontifical terms: was absolved and reconciled to the Church, at Speyer, Aug. 1207, swearing to obey the Pope in all those matters by disregard of which he had incurred censure.
The question of a truce—or, better still, a peace—between Philip and Otto, was then treated by the legates. Philip, to secure pontifical favor, levied a tax for the Crusade throughout the Empire; and confidently awaited the legatine conditions. These suited him admirably. He was to give his daughter Beatrix in marriage to Otto, with the right of succession to the duchy of Swabia, together with certain lordships and castles as her dowry. Otto on his part was to lay down his kingly tide, and recognize his father-in-law as sovereign.
Otto refused. Philip loyally disbanded his army: accepted an unconditional truce; and appealed to the Pope for imperial coronation for himself, and pontifical favor for the deposed Archbishop Adolf.
The Pope pardoned and received Adolf, but confirmed Bruno V in the see of Koln, at the same time when he confirmed von Eppstein the Guelfic candidate in Mainz; and he also announced, by legate, his intention of recognizing Philip as King.
This means that the Lord Innocent was defeated, in that He was obliged to relinquish his support of Otto. Yet, so deftly did he wield the weapons of spiritual and temporal diplomacy that he all but transformed his defeat into a victory. His nominees occupied the disputed German sees. King Philip, his liegeman, was obeying commands, humbly asking for imperial coronation, as though he were the vanquished asking favors of a conqueror.
But, in June 1208, King Philip was assassinated by Otto von Wittelsbach, a notorious robber, murderer, and perverter of justice, to whom he had refused his daughter in marriage. It is said that his death was heralded by astronomical presages and portents similar to those which terrified Rome before the murder of Julius Caesar.
The Pope was at Sora when he heard the news; and, though he regretted the tragedy. He cannot but have been sensible that this event definitely and absolutely terminated the unhappy struggle, which, during a decade, had afflicted Germany with anarchy and civil war. He wrote once more to the German princes pointing out that the judgment of Heaven had decided in favor of Otto. The Germans, tired of discord, agreed. After a preliminary recognition by the Saxons, Otto was solemnly accepted as king by all Germany at Frankfort-on-Main, 11 Nov. 1208. To make his position sure, he followed out the conditions agreed upon by his dead rival; and betrothed himself to Beatrix, dead Philip’s daughter, receiving her dowry, which consisted of several lordships and three hundred and fifty castles. The ban of the Empire was put upon Philip’s assassin; and, to avoid possibility of another disputed election, it was decided that the prelates and princes of Germany should in future entrust their rights of choice to seven electors, viz., the Archbishops of Mainz, Koln, and Trier, the Duke of Saxony, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Markgraf of Brandenburg, with a casting vote to the King of Bohemia. This (excepting from the point of view of those princes who had relinquished their right of election) was a considerable improvement on the old system: for a candidate, there were fewer electors to canvass and bribe: while, for the electors, there were fewer fellow-voters with whom to share the candidate’s money. It was also a distinct gain for the Papacy. The Empire definitely and solemnly reaffirmed its elective character within a few months of (what seemed to be) the triumph of the hereditary principle. The Papacy, which could not but be elective, would always be better able to engage the Empire on equal terms, if both had to submit to periodic intervals of uncertainty, than if it had to oppose a long and perpetually interrupted succession of tired and somewhat old men and their varying views to the steady family policy of an hereditarily constituted state.
King Philip the August, alone of the princes of Europe, foresaw what would happen; and warned the Pope that He would be sorry for making Otto king. The Lord Innocent, however, refused to credit the suggestion; and intimated to His imperial protégé that the double crown awaited him in Rome.
Thither, after some doings in Upper Italy, King Otto marched; and was crowned Emperor in Saint Peter’s, on 4 Oct. 1209. The customary bloody fight took place between the Romans and Germans; and the Emperor sought to make the Pope responsible for his considerable losses both of men and horses in this struggle. The Pope considered that the Papacy had been slighted by Otto’s previous diplomatic gaucherie and was not inclined to work hard to smooth down or ride over the Emperor’s brusqueness. The two potentates quarrelled. And, although for the moment matters were kept within due bounds, the Emperor’s behavior during his journey back through Matildan Tuscany showed that the reconciliation was by no means a stable one. His act, for example, granting the March of Ancona to Azzo d'Este in 1210, was a direct challenge to the Pope: for the latter had always claimed the March as being a pontifical territory. The Lord Innocent answered the affront in a most characteristic way. On 10 May 1210, with subsequent confirmation two years later, he granted a Bull of investiture (in rectum feudum to the Holy See) to Azzo of the very fief of which he had obtained imperial investiture with the sword. This was check to the Emperor : who replied by seizing castles and fiefs, which (he said) the Pope had stolen imperio vacante; and even invented monstrous pretentions justifying his invasion of the Kingdom, alleging that his coronation oath bound him to recover anything which at any time had belonged to the Empire.
The Pope clearly perceived that his quondam client had waxed fat and was kicking; and wrote to King Frederick of Sicily, now sixteen years old, inciting him to resist any infringements of his rights. But before proceeding to extreme measures, Innocent again remonstrated with Otto, Nov, 1210, trusting that gratitude might bring him to a better frame of mind. The Emperor insolently denied his culpability: alleging, not wholly without reason (according to the current ideas of the time), that as he was Emperor all temporal affairs of the Empire and Christendom were within his cognizance, and that the Pope no longer had any call to interfere therein. He went on to protest that he had never interfered with those Spiritualities to which the Pope (now that there was a Lay Head for the Temporal duties of the world) ought to confine Himself; and iterated his newly invented interpretation of the imperial coronation oath as an excuse for his misdeeds. The Pope delayed a little longer, permitting the Emperor to heap up evidences of his rancor against the Church, and hostility towards King Frederick, upon whose head he seemed desirous of visiting the sins of his grandfather, father, and uncle.
A crusade has been known to wander beyond the control of the Roman Pontiff: but an emperor can never entirely get out of hand. On 31 March 1211, ten years and a month after the Pope first recommended the German princes and prelates to support Otto, His patience came to an end. He issued a bull of excommunication against the Emperor, which was accompanied by a bull of deposition, absolving his subjects from their allegiance to him: furthermore the German princes were commanded at once to proceed to a new election.
This fulmination took Germany by surprise: but there was no resistance to the Pontiff’s will. Many princes, actuated by long dormant but reviving affection for the Hohenstaufen, promptly acted in the name of Germany (although they were not the lawful electors). Their choice fell upon King Frederick of Sicily: and envoys were dispatched begging his acceptance of the crown. Thus, at the very moment when the excommunicate Otto had conquered nearly all Sicily within the Pharos (i.e. Apulia and the rest of the continental Kingdom) he found that the Pope was, even more than of old, able to sway Germany to his will; and that the ground had been cut away from under his feet. In very truth Otto had played the part of Aesop’s dog: having the Imperial Crown safely in his mouth, he had dropped it in a vain endeavor to grasp the shadowy diadem of Sicily; and now was awakened by the splash to find himself an excommunicate ex-emperor trespassing on a better man’s property.
The young King, in spite of the advice of his nobles and the entreaties of his wife, Constance de Aragon, accepted the proffered dignity at the beginning of 1212; and hastened to Germany, stopping on his way to confer with the Lord Innocent. Evading the hostility of the Guelfic Milanese, he crossed the Alps and arrived in Konstanz: where he held a diet in 1213, and granted liberty of election to the chapters and freedom of appeal to Rome.
On the arrival of this new competitor, the ex-emperor Otto hastened to marry his betrothed, Beatrix von Hohenstaufen. She died a few days after the ceremony; and many of Otto’s adherents, judging the event to portend Providential disapproval of the marriage of an excommunicate person, left him. Indeed, this prince, either from his infelicitous manners, the malignance of his stars, or whatever form of words best expresses permanent ill luck, seemed more able to lose supporters than to gain—or retain —them. Otto, however, so far profited by his widowerhood as to be able to marry Mary of Brabant, upon whom he had had his eye for more than twelve years; and thus secured (in a round-about way) the support of her father the Duke of Brabant. Further, being convinced that (while King Philip the August was his enemy) he never could make headway against King Frederick, and led away by the frantic promises of his uncle King John Softsword, he embarked against the French, with his new father-in-law and the Counts of Flanders and Boulogne in the disastrous avuncular expedition which was smashed at Bouvines, 27 Jul. 1214. This, once more, reduced him to the status of mere Duke of Saxony, Lord of the moderate inheritance of Brunswick: Koln alone of all Germany (outside his ancestral dominions) remaining faithful to him : while for a second time he suffered the bitter mortification of seeing a successful rival, this time King Frederick, crowned in his stead at Aachen in May, 1215: an event which signalized the triumph of Innocent's policy for the last time in Germany.
Throughout his Ottonian German policy the Pope, after the first gambit in favor of the Hohenstaufen which had been ruined by the unreasoning folly of the Bishop of Sutri, was playing a game which was not of His choice. Betrayed by His agent, the Lord Innocent was unable to continue the Hohenstaufen friendship; and had to become a Guelf. Now a powerful man, accustomed to choose or make his own battlefields, is cramped when suddenly compelled to fight on ground of someone else’s choice by reason of the sudden incompetency of a trusted servant. The Lord Innocent was annoyed at having to support the phlegmatic Otto; and was hard put to justify His course at all. It speaks well for the authority exercised by Innocent over the Germans that He was able to maintain His, struggle so well against the Swabian, to get such good terms for His protégé when it appeared necessary to abandon his cause, to impose a rejected candidate upon the Princes who for years had-upheld a leader of entirely opposite policy, and lastly (having made and crowned him with all the Empire obedient to his rule) to brush him aside and make the same Princes obey a third and still more different candidate.
And it is more than ever remarkable that the cause for which Otto was deposed was one which would be likely to find favor among the patriotic Germans — the recovery of lost imperial provinces and the consolidation of German power in Italy, and that the person in whose favor he was deposed was a boy who could speak no German, born in Sicily, brought up under the tutorship of the Pope and a self-confessed vassal and liegeman of the Holy See. But this success is due to the fact that the Lord Innocent was once more fighting on ground of His own choice and was logical as well as authoritative in His diplomatic reasoning.
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND THE FOURTH CRUSADE
The darling wish of Pope Innocent’s heart was that Christendom should take really efficacious measures to reconquer the Holy Land, and to re-establish the now shadowy kingdom of Jerusalem. This was His fixed idea. He would have liked to live and labor for this end alone. He felt the presence of the Infidel in the Holy City to be an insult to Christianity, and the torpor of Christendom in submitting to such an affront to be an insult to Heaven.
No one knew better than Innocent what a host of difficulties beset the scheme for a Crusade. He was quite aware of “the inertia, the stolidity, the volatility, the inconstancy, which rulers have to direct, to curb, to shape”. Yet He bravely encountered the passive opposition of princes, and set Himself to crystallize the fluent phantasies of peoples. His favorite adjuration to kings militant was “Make peace, and take the Cross”. To the rest He said, “As you are at peace, take the Cross”.
He must have felt keenly the reputation in which Germany held Him. His policy there had led Him near to one of the two serious mistakes of His life, when He (the apostle of the Prince of Peace and God's vicegerent) Who was constantly urging Christians to surcease from interchristian strife and combine against the Infidel, found Himself both the initiator and the mainstay of a state of affairs which simply amounted to the handing over of one of the best recruiting grounds for crusaders to anarchy and civil war. It shows perseverance and no small powers of persuasion and organization, that the Lord Innocent was able to get a Crusade to start on its way at all; and it would be hardly fair to blame Him for its scandalous misbehavior when it passed from His control into the clutches of the Venetians.
At the beginning of His reign, the outlook in politics must have been indeed disheartening to a Pontiff intending Himself toward Christian unity and annihilation of Infidels. The principal monarchies of Christendom were too fully occupied with their own (or their neighbor’s) affairs, to be in the least receptive of His hints of the nobler tasks which awaited their brains and swords. The lesser states were as suspicious of the greater, as were the greater of one another. Some sovereigns were setting ineffable examples of the state of matrimony; and the inevitable pontifical censure prejudiced them against the blandishments of the Pontiff. The great Orders, Christendom’s first line of offence and defence, were quarrelling and bickering among themselves in the very face of the enemy. The Christian princes in the Levant were behaving like heathen savages — the Count of Tripoli, for instance, (who flayed his archbishop) and the Prince of Antioch (who sold Christians as slaves to the Saracens and was suspected of schismatic leanings toward Orthodoxy). The Basileus of Byzantion, Alexios III, to whom Innocent wrote 13 Nov. 1199, was meditating a war of conquest against the King of Cyprus, instead of one of aggression on the Saracenic states. The Republic of Saint Mark was finding trade with the Infidel far more profitable than any war, in however good a cause. The only bright spot which shone through the mist of Christian rivalries was that the great leaders of the Saracens Salah-ed-din and Nur-ed-din were dead, and that their successor Seif-ed-din was not Sultan of an united Islam.
However, nothing daunted, the Lord Innocent, overburthened though he was with the affairs of The Church and The Empire, set himself wholeheartedly to the task of preparing a Crusade. It was a labor of love, prosecuted without wavering. His first efforts met with little response: princes and peoples alike turned a deaf ear. It was almost in vain that the Pope devised means of collecting funds for the sacred cause. The fire of enthusiasm which had lighted former Crusades had degenerated into the merest flicker, and the Pope had to seek a latter-day Peter the Hermit to revive the dying embers. He found him in Foulques de Neuilly, a parish priest whose new-found eloquence was exciting all who heard him. A pontifical commission to preach the crusade, started this tolutiloquent fugleman on a missionary journey through France and Flanders. His success became notable and bred further success: the Counts of Champagne, Blois, and Lyonnais, the bishops of Soissons and Troyes, Simon de Montfort, Jean de Brienne, Mathieu de Montmorency, Geoffrey de Villehardouin, the Lord of Joinville and some threescore lesser lords, volunteered from France. The Pope ingeniously used the interdict which lay upon that country as a means of obtaining money for the crusade: Mass might be celebrated in such places whence contributions for that object were forthcoming.
In the north, the turbulent Count Baldwin of Flanders became aware that King John Softsword’s was not a stable (and therefore a satisfactory) alliance against King Philip the August; and he took the Cross, seemingly to avoid fresh difficulties with France. Minor men in multitudes came from the same region, such as the Counts of Boulogne and St. Pol, and Nicholas de Mailly.
The Pope’s joy at this small response to His exhortations did not blind Him to the question of ways and means. Tournaments, the wearing of furs and versicoloured clothes, were forbidden on the ground of their expense. The Cistercians and Premonstratensians as well as the secular clergy of France were pressed for a new dime saladine : secular taxation of absent crusaders was stopped: money was extracted from Jews by the fashionable methods of the age : clerks were permitted to mortgage three years’ revenues of their benefices; and the laity were excused the interest due on debts. Negotiations were concluded with the maritime republics of Italy— excepting Pisa and Genoa, neither of which could be employed without offending the other. Amalfi had largely fallen into the sea and decrepitude; and so was unable to make any tender. A mercantile contract with the Venetians was drawn up and accepted; whereby the crusaders undertook to pay, as fares, a great deal more money than they were ever likely to possess, i.e. 85,000. According to the Codex Diplomaticus of Hungary it appears that the entire revenues of that kingdom at the time of the Fourth Crusade were no more than 166,000 silver marks. Consequently these Crusaders agreed to pay, as passage-money, a sum nearly equal to half the annual income of a considerable kingdom. The Venetians undertook, for this sum, to convey 4000 knights and horses, with their 9000 squires and 20,000 infantry, and to feed their convoy for nine months. The Pope, however, pleased at the apparently approaching realization of His dreams, approved: but He stipulated that no operations against Christians were to be undertaken by this expedition. Events showed His suspicions of the Venetians implied by this condition to be only too well founded.
The principal personages (excluding, of course, the Venetians) who took part in the Fourth Crusade, were Count Thibaut of Champagne, Marquess Boniface of Montferrat (afterwards King of Thessalonika), Count Baldwin IX of Flanders (afterwards Emperor of Romania), Henry, brother of the last (and his successor in the Romanian Empire), Eustace, brother of the preceding, Jean de Brienne (afterwards King of Jerusalem and later still Emperor of Romania), Gaultier, his brother (afterwards Count of Lecce and Prince of Taranto), Geoffrey de Villehardouin (afterwards Lord of Messinople and Marshal of Romania), and his nephew (both afterwards Princes of Achaia), Simon de Montfort (afterwards Count of Toulouse), the Count of Blois, the Count of St Pol, the Count of Lyon, the Count of Perche, the Count of Malaspina, Gaultier de Montpellier (afterwards Constable of Romania), the Lords of Joinville, Dampierre, Laval, Béthune, and Frouville, the Bishops of Soissons, Halberstadt, Bethlehem, and Troyes, Nicholas de Mailly, Milo de Brabant, Guillaume de Champlitte (afterwards Prince of Akhaia), Othon de la Roche (afterwards Megaskyr of Athens), Manasses de Lille, Jacques d'Avesnes, Guy de Nesle, (afterwards Baron of Geraki), Bernard de Montmirail, Gaultier de Cardoville, Mathieu de Montmorency, and Jean de Neuilly (afterwards Lord of Passavant and Marshal of Achaia).
The Count of Champagne, the leader of the crusade, died before it started; and the Marquess Boniface of Montferrat (brother of Conrad of evil memory) was elected leader in his stead. After ceaseless and heart-breaking delays, the crusade at last left Venice on 8 Oct 1202, with the avowed intention of fleshing its swords upon the Christian town of Zara in Dalmatia. This unholy scheme was brought about by the poverty and improvidence of the crusaders (who gave all that they had, and all that they could borrow,) and also by the unchristian cupidity of the banausically-minded Republic of Saint Mark: for, in spite of every effort and heroic financial sacrifices, the necessary payments, without which the Venetians refused to carry out their contract, were short by 34,000 marks.
The unhappy crusaders had been dumped upon the island of San Stefano, and treated very much as though they were prisoners. Rumors flew about that the Saracen Sultan Seif-ed-din was offering great privileges to the Doge Dandolo, to bribe him into diverting the course of the Crusade. And so the Venetians proposed to their debtors the reduction of the revolted seaport of Zara, as a means of fulfilling their obligations. The Pope was advised of this, probably by German pilgrims, who (disgusted at the prospect of becoming mercenaries of Saint Mark) tried to make their way to the Holy Land from other ports. The Lord Innocent promptly sent Cardinal Pietro I of Capua, presbyter of the Title of SS. Marcellinus and Peter, with legatine powers, to try to dissuade the Venetians and the crusaders from the Dalmatian objective. Those trades-people, however, received him with scant courtesy, refusing to let him accompany the army in an official capacity; and his efforts to divert the expedition to an attack on Alexandria completely failed. As a last resource the Pope threatened the Crusade with general and particular excommunication if it should dare to act against any Christians whatsoever and especially against the Zarantines. But the crusaders, desperate from want of money, from starvation consequent upon the high prices in Venice, and sick of delay and uncertainty, accepted the Venetian terms: and (8 Oct. 1202) sailed blindly into the excommunication, and took Zara for their employers on 18 Nov. 1202, a fitting beginning for an expedition which covered the name of Crusade with disgrace, destroyed an ancient and Christian empire amid scenes of appalling barbarity and heathenish vandalism, and rendered itself ridiculous by the absurd simulacra of respectable institutions, which it set up haphazard in a feeble attempt to replace the orderly (if archaic) structure of the Byzantine Empire.
It may as well be said (with a wet finger) that the Fourth Crusade was (from the very beginning) an essentially artificial movement, germinated under the exotic emotionalism of Foulques de Neuilly’s fervorini, and nourished at Venice by the peddling hucksters of that city for their own aggrandizement. The unhappy movement disgraced itself more and more at every step. Zara fell; and the crusaders, ring-led by the nose, were carried on to Byzantion with the object of unseating a more than usually odious usurper, the incapable Basileus Alexios III Angelos (soi disant, after the manner of that period, Komnenos) in favor of his brother the ex-Basileus Isaac II (whom he had deposed and blinded) and his nephew Alexios IV. The wretched Basileus allowed himself to be frightened out of impregnable Byzantion after a nine days’ siege. The Venetians and their tame Latins entered, in the names of the restored joint Basileis. Of course the restoration was conditional. The Venetians were to have trade privileges which would make them commercial despots; and the Latins were to have the obedience of the East to the Holy See to offer as a sop to the Cerberus of the Seven Hills — a gift which must have been singularly unpleasing to Pope Innocent, Who had hoped to achieve this end by diplomacy, and was keenly aware of the value of compulsory adhesion to the dogma of pontifical supremacy. Alexios the Third, after his deposition, maintained himself as Basileus at Hadrianopolis for some years; and incited the Sultan Gajat-ed-din against Theodoros I Laskaris of Nicaea, his son-in-law, in hope of regaining his lost empire. But he was at length captured, and died, like many of his predecessors, a monk.
As was to be expected, Greeks and Latins could not exist side by side in peace. Quarrels of individuals and quarrels of crowds became the order of the day. The hasty action of some Flemings, who (bubbling over with Christian bigotry and a lust for loot) had burned the Saracen mosque, which Greek toleration permitted to exist in the city, led to a massacre of resident Latins and a nine days’ conflagration, devastating a considerable part of the five regions into which Byzantion was divided. Thus was extinguished all hope of the maintenance of a good understanding between conquered and conquerors.
The blind Basileus Isaac was in a premature dotage, the result of his affliction and twenty years’ semi-starvation in a dungeon. He became querulous, and suspicious of the son whom he could never see: he objected to the presence of the Latins, whom he regarded (not without cause) as idolaters: he was bitterly opposed to the (to him) new-fangled notions of obedience to Rome; and his bigoted hatred of the heterodox, coupled with his patriotic and comprehensible mistrust of the Venetians, caused him to forget a proper gratitude for his deliverance from bondage by Latin hands. The dual sebastocracy was not a success: for, while the elder Basileus roused the suspicions of the Latins by his hostile babblings, the younger disgusted the Greeks by his pro-romanism. Popular irritation against the romanizing friend of the Latins came to a head when (at the end of Jan. 1204) the Byzantine mob got out of hand; and compelled a well-dressed young man, named Nikolaos Kanabos, to accept the dangerous honor of the purple buskins. This did not at all suit the book of one of the court officials, a certain Alexios Dukas, called Murtzuphlos, or “shaggy-eyebrows”. He had held a command under Alexios the Third, in which he gained some small military reputation; and, in 1203, had all succeeded in burning the Latin fleet. Wishing to better his position as protovestiarios of the palace, he collected his adherents: spread the report that Alexios the Fourth had betrayed the city to the barbarians; and, by a trick, succeeded in obtaining possession of the younger Basileus, whom he at once imprisoned. A similar fate befell the unwilling competitor for the Basilicate, Kanabos : while the aged Isaac is said to have died of fright on hearing of the sudden reverse in his but newly altered fortunes.
Dukas then donned the purple buskins as Basileus Alexios the Fifth; and enthusiastic Greeks hailed him as the savior of his country. With extreme boldness, coupled with extremely Oriental duplicity, he once more attempted the destruction of the Latin fleet; and laid a trap for the princes, trying to persuade them to a conference in the palace by stating that he wished to make certain promised payments. The Doge Dandolo in his youth had been an envoy to the Byzantine court; and no doubt remembered its treacherous proclivities—he had been blinded there in 1173, a fact which may account for much of his bitterness against the Greeks. He however saw through Dukas; and warned the Latins. This so exasperated the usurper that he strangled the unfortunate Alexios the Fourth, after having beaten in his ribs with a mace, 8 Feb. 1204.
The Latins, beset with dangers, were compelled to act with the vigor of desperation: although in the heart of a hostile country, they besieged a hitherto impregnable capital; and, in two months, by constant attack, reduced it. On the night of 8 April, the reign of Alexios V Dukas ended (as it had begun) in floods of blood. Niketas and Villehardouin tell us that he escaped with the Basilissa Euphrosyne (his mother-in-law) to the court of Alexios the Third, where, after a short interval of treacherous friendship, he was blinded by his predecessor, who then turned the miserable wretch out to wander in darkness and despair. In an attempt to reach Asia, he was caught by the Latins, and flung from the summit of the Column of Theodosius, a doom which had been predicted by the poet Tzetzes, half a century before. He may have been a criminal, or he may have been a patriot: he was without doubt a very violent man, a forceful ruler, and a sharp thorn to the Latins.
This is not the place to expatiate upon the size, beauty, wealth, or importance of Byzantion as it was before the Sack, or upon the horrors of that Sack. It will suffice to say that the Latins behaved like Hunnish barbarians; and succeeded in achieving a ruin comparable only to that wrought by the Romans in Jerusalem, the Arabs, in Alexandria, or the Constable de Bourbon’s troops in Rome. They were bewildered by the wealth which they found; and childish superstitions usurped the realm of sane judgment: priceless objects of real intrinsic worth were heedlessly destroyed, while the most incredible relics were zealously preserved. Beside the True Cross and the Crown of Thorns (afterwards pawned to the Venetians and sold by them to Saint Louis) some clothes of the Blessed Virgin, a tooth of Our Lord, His baby-linen, the identical Cup used at the Last Supper, part of the Bread broken thereat, a tooth of Saint John Baptist, an arm of Saint Stephen, and the entire body of Saint Andrew (now at Amalfi, except the head which was taken to Rome in the reign of Pope Innocent the Eighth), were cherished by blood-stained fanatics.
The Sack being ended, the Latins set about erecting some form of government in place of the departed Greek rule. Twelve Electors, six Latin prelates and six Venetian nobles, after nearly offering the Crown to the Doge Dandolo, finally (16 May) decided upon Count Baldwin of Flanders for the newly invented dignity of Emperor of Romania. He was crowned with Byzantine rites three weeks later, in Sancta Sophia: which cathedral, together with the right of nominating a Latin Patriarch, now belonged to the Venetians, as part of the bargain whereby it was stipulated that the latter and the Latins should divide the Empire and the Patriarchate between the two parties. The Venetians appointed Tommaso de' Morosini; and the Lord Innocent confirmed him in his position. The chiefs of the Latins were rewarded with fiefs under the new empire. Boniface of Montferrat got the kingdom of Thessalonika, to which he considered himself entitled as heir to his brother Rainer, titular king thereof in right of his wife Maria, daughter to the late Basileus Manuel I Komnenos: Othon de la Roche, a lordship of Athens: Guillaume de Champlitte, a principality of Achaia : and two Venetians became Duke and Admiral of Naxos and Lemnos respectively. A host of smaller lordships, Thebes, Nauplia, Andros, etc., satisfied smaller ambitions; and the new empire launched out into war: for Basileus Alexios III was threatening the capital from Hadrianopolis.
If the Latins thought that the capture of Byzantion would put an end to Greek opposition, they were very soon undeceived. The sebastocracy, beheaded in its capital, sprang, hydra-like, into existence elsewhere. Beside Alexios III at Hadrianopolis, another Alexios, of the House of Komnenos, proclaimed himself at Trebizond : an Angelos (Mikhael I) aspired to the purple buskins in Epiros; and Theodoros I Laskaris, was saluted (after a short period of nominal viceroyalty on behalf of his father-in-law Alexios III) as Basileus at Nikaia, beside smaller men at Herakleia, Rhodes, Apron, Lakedaimon, and Nauplia. The magic name of the Roman Empire had in fact become quite cheap—two princes in the West, and no less than five in the East, laid claim to it. After this, any man might hope to die a Roman Emperor.
It was fortunate that Pope Innocent the Third was at a distance from Byzantion—and also unfortunate: fortunate — in that He could not see the horrors and ruin of the Sack,—unfortunate in that He could not be kept immediately advised of all that happened. Important letters (for the Basileus Alexios IV) arrived from Rome the day after that prince was murdered: while others (urging the Latins to abstain from fresh hostilities) only arrived in the middle of the siege. The Pope, recognizing that what was done could not be undone, made the best of the new Latin empire and patriarchate. Though He was not particularly pleased with the appointment of Morosini, He confirmed that Patriarch rather than have the distressful country without constituted ecclesiastical authority: for it was full time that there should be a high ecclesiastical authority on the spot to curb the thievish tendencies of all the Latin princes (from the emperor to the Lord of Thebes) toward Church property. The Lord Innocent had to write letter after letter to these demoralized potentates, the burthen of which was always “Respect Church property” : excepting when the princes showed themselves to be at all penitent, and then the charge would change to “Restore Church property which you have stolen”. Sometimes a Prince would be so far restored to grace that the Pope could urge him to pay tithes with some hope of success, and there are letters even, written to pious crusading lords, impressing upon them the duty of maintaining at their own expense clerical vicars in the livings of which they were lay rectors.
It must have been exasperating in a high degree for the Pope, when the blundering Emperor Baldwin I bolted off at random to fight those very Bulgarians, who had shown themselves so amenable to pontifical diplomacy. All the Lord Innocent’s cherished schemes for maintaining the union of Bulgaria with the Catholic Church were defeated by the Flemish emperor’s ponderous efforts to protect his nascent realm from the Tsar Kaloyan. His expedition very properly ended in captivity; and the Pope, Who had been accustomed to write as a spiritual father and superior to the obsequious but observant and wide-awake Bulgar, was reduced (16 Aug. 1205) to ask the foolish emperor’s life and liberty as a favor from the exulting barbarian—and to remain calm when this request was refused. The extreme bitterness of all His subsequent letters to the Venetians is very well to be understood, seeing that He was human, and regarded them as the source and origin of all the misfortunes of His once cherished Crusade.
The Latin conquest of part of the East, instead of lightening, materially increased the Pope’s cares. Hitherto, an occasional letter, or a long drawn and intermittent negotiation, had been all that had affected Him from that quarter. Now, each petty prince needed as much paternal advice as the most outrageous western sovereign; and the Church in Romania required a great deal more pontifical protection and attention than did the bishops of the Toulousain.
The Venetians too, (very high and mighty since their Doge bore the title of Lord of a Quarter-and-Half-of- a-Quarter of the Roman Empire, and enjoyed the whole of the commerce thereof) had to be looked after. Their tendencies, which were ever more and more to place filthy lucre before Christianity, and trade before the maintenance of those pathetic morsels of Palestine, had to be kept within due bounds.
As, however, it was a case of quae cum ita sint, the Lord Innocent did His duty by the Latin Empire as best He could. He took special charge of the interests of the Church, which must have been still largely served by orthodox papas, as we are unable to trace any sufficiently large influx of Latin clerks to take their places. The Pope wrote frequently on the subject of the validity of Orthodox Orders which He expressly acknowledged, but insisted that all future ordinations or consecrations of Greek clerks should follow the Latin Rite. He tried to reduce the lamentable divisions among the local imperatunculi of the East. In all good faith He wrote, 17 Mar. 1208, to Theodoros I Laskaris, Basileus in Nicaea, urging him to surcease from stiff-neckedness, and to acknowledge the Latin emperor of Romania as the legitimate successor of Justinian and his lawful sovereign. This must have been a curious letter to be received at the court of Nicaea, (which was Byzantine in all save geographical position) by a prince who was certain in his own heart that he was the one and only Autocrat of All the Romans.
The Pope was also moved to protest to the Despot Mikhael Komnenos of Epiros against his treatment of the Archbishop of Durazzo, and to desire him to leave that prelate in peace. The conquest, however, had one good result beside that produced by the scattering of objects and evidences of Byzantine civilization over the avid West. A very large tract of country, hitherto closed to the great Orders, now lay open to them. Estates, which they never could have possessed before, now became theirs; and helped to defray the cost of their unequal but perpetual warfare against the Infidel.
It seems, however, that the Latin princes (probably still under the influence of the spiritual disquiet produced by the major excommunication), when they first entered upon their new sovereignties, made lavish gifts to the Templars in the shape of lands and churches. It was a case of giving in haste, and repenting at leisure; for, from the numerous letters written by the Pope upon the subject to the Patriarch Tommaso, to the Emperor Henry, to the Constable of Romania, and to the lesser offenders, one of the most salient vices of the Latin lords seems to have been that of stealing back the lands which they had given to the Templars. But as these latter were usually quite capable of looking after their own property [more particularly when the peculators were such small fry as the Lord of Thebes, or the Lord of Soule (Syla), it might seem that the Templars had bitten off more land in the Morea and Romania than they could chew; and, so, afforded filching princes an opportunity of snapping up what they hoped would be unconsidered trifles.
Again too, the Pope set Himself seriously to organize a Latin Hierarchy throughout the newly conquered East. In general, He followed Greek traditions and established a Latin archbishop in every Orthodox metropolitical see. The Lord Innocent expressly directed that the Latin archbishops of Achaia should enjoy precisely the same plethora or dearth of suffragans as had their Greek predecessors, and refused to allow any change to be made in the boundaries of dioceses. Furthermore He kept up a system of steady supervision over the ecclesiastical affairs of Romania in general. We find Him making the Latin prelates act in unison to extract tithes from Venetians, to exact obedience from foreign clerks, and to compel lay-men (notably the widowed Queen of Thessalonica) and dishonest bishops to disgorge stolen Church property. In Achaia, the Pope used the Hospitallers as tithe-collectors; and from time to time found Himself obliged to take individual churches, or even entire sees, under protection as a means of saving them from rapacious laymen.
On other occasions He had to chide the Bishops of Achaia for excessive eagerness to excommunicate, and for allowing their soldiery to annoy clerks. In addition to these political and semipolitical measures, which the Lord Innocent was compelled to take by reason of the indiscipline into which the Latins (as ever in the East) fell in Romania, He also considered it to be His duty to adjust the differences between bishops and their chapters, to make arrangements whereby the cathedral services of ruined dioceses might be kept up and the poverty of the Church tided over. On the other hand he would not allow undue exactions to be made on Orthodox monasteries which seemingly were not to be suppressed; and he was particular to insist that the same liberties should be allowed to Greek clergy who joined the Roman Church as they had been accustomed to enjoy under the Orthodox regime.
Both the Lord Innocent and the new Latin empire were much vexed by the Venetians’ behavior with regard to their treaty rights concerning appointment to ecclesiastical benefices. The Republic of Saint Mark insisted upon preferring Venetians only; and, to such an extent did they push their monopoly that at last the Patriarch Tommaso (himself a Venetian) protested energetically: complained to the Pope; and refused to appoint any more Venetians. It is worth noting that he had been compelled to promise to appoint none but Venetians; and, though the Pope absolved him from the promise as being contrary to the interests of the Church, the Venetians had contrived to hold him to it for quite a long time. Now at last his sense of decency overcame his national prejudices. Matters were a little mended by his action: but, unfortunately, after excommunicating King Levon of Armenia for robbing the Templars, he died, in June 1211, at Thessalonica. The election of his successor was the signal for a fresh display of greed and international bickering. The Venetians tried by force to secure a patriarch of their own: the Latins relied upon an appeal to Rome in favor of their candidate. The Pope, however, quashed both elections; and sent a legate to insist upon an unanimously supported patriarch. Nothing could be decided. The Latins called the Archbishop of Herakleia patriarch, while the Venetians decorated the parish priest of their own quarter with the same title. The see, therefore, was vacant from 1211-1215, i.e., until the assembling of the Lateran Council, which, after solemnly settling the precedence to be enjoyed by future patriarchs of Constantinople, petitioned the Pope to nominate a prelate and determine the vacancy. In consequence, one Gervais, a simple Tuscan priest, was made patriarch of Constantinople out of the Plenitude of the Apostolic Power; and the Council congratulated itself upon the permanent subordination of the Eastern Church to Rome, quite regardless of the fact that there was a Greek patriarch, Maximos II, of Byzantion, who lived at Nicaea, and was far more really the representative of the Orthodox Church than was a Latin curate out of Tuscany.
The Fourth Crusade brought no honor to Innocent the Third. He seems to have been glad to escape from the shameful position in which it had placed Him, by pretending to draw pleasure from the facts that a Latin patriarchate was established on the ruins of schismatic Byzantion, and that the Latin Mass was sung in Sancta Sophia amid the smoke and dust of the collapse of Christendom’s last Eastern bulwark against the advancing foes of Christianity and civilization.
In the Bull Legimus in Daniele he expressed the hope that Byzandon which is “defendendum et retinendum”, would afford a point d'appui for a successful Crusade into the Holy Land. How bitterly He was disappointed all history shows. To the Fourth Crusade is due the presence of the Turk in Stamboul—and Innocent the Third originated the Fourth Crusade. Happily for His memory, the Pope was not wholly responsible for the mischievous havoc wrought by His Frankenstein. He was vilely served. As a far-seeing statesman none could regret more keenly than He the substitution, as the shield of Europe, of the pasteboard Latin empire for the tried mail of the Greek. As a far-seeing Churchman none could perceive more clearly than He that the establishment of a Latin Hierarchy throughout the Empire of Romania was only a conquest from and in no way a conquest of Orthodoxy.
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND SICILY
It has been asserted that though the Apostolic See was defeated (in the military sense) at the battle of Benevento, it really won a great diplomatic victory in securing the feudal suzerainty over the kingdom of Sicily: but it is possible that this gain was not so valuable as it has been deemed. Apart from the amount of the tribute, the “Chinea”, which was more nominal than real, the incessant and inextricable difficulties in which the suzerainty perpetually plunged the Papacy, rendered it at one time a Wooden Horse of Ilion and at another a Box of Pandora. It is customary to allege that the Popes have never been backward in asserting or inventing claims to every sort of imaginable right when it has been to Their advantage so to do. This allegation is due either to ignorance, or to misunderstanding of the pontifical position as conceived by the Roman Pontiffs Themselves. When the historian realizes, as the Popes Themselves undoubtedly realized, and realize, the gist of the plain unvarnished (and yet enormous) charge addressed to Them in Their coronation office, and the exact signification of the same, “Accept the tiara and know that Thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world and on earth Vicar of Our Saviour Jesus Christ”—as well as of other official and public and accepted epithets used by and in description of the Papacy and its prerogatives—e.g. “Supreme Pontiff”, “Plenitude of Apostolic Power”,— it may as well be conceded, that (if words mean anything) no one has a right to be surprised, or to attribute undue or over-pretentious arrogance to Peter’s Successors, when They act absolutely and autocratically on the strength of the absolute and autocratic right formally and solemnly conceded to Them by the perdurable consensus of the major part of Christendom.
Innocent the Third’s own conception of his supremacy over secular sovereigns was as clear as daylight. He defines it in an epistle dealing with the disputes of the kings of England and France: “If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone; and, if he will not hear thee then take with thee one or two more; and, if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church : but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man, and a publican. Now”, he proceeds, “the king of England maintains that the king of France, by enforcing the execution of an unjust sentence, has trespassed against him. He has therefore admonished him of his fault in the manner prescribed by the gospel; and, meeting with no redress, has (according to the direction of the same gospel) appealed to the Church. How then can We, whom Divine Providence has placed at the head of the Church, refuse to obey the Divine Command? How can We hesitate to proceed according to the form pointed out by Christ Himself? We do not arrogate to Ourself the right of judgment as to the fee: that belongs to the king of France. But We have a right to judge respecting the sin; and that right it is Our duty to exercise against the offender, be he who he may. By the imperial law it has been provided, that if one of two litigant parties prefer the judgment of the Apostolic See to that of the civil magistrate, the other shall be bound to submit to such judgment. But if We mention this, it is not that We found Our jurisdiction on any civil authority. God has made it Our duty to reprehend the man who falls into mortal sin; and (if he neglect Our reprehension) to compel him to amend by ecclesiastical censures. Moreover, both kings have sworn to observe the late treaty of peace, and yet Philip has broken that treaty. The cognizance of perjury is universally allowed to belong to the ecclesiastical courts. On this account therefore, We have also a right to call the parties before Our tribunal”.
Even had the Popes been free from the Sicilian incumbrance, they were quite likely—(as Fathers of kings and princes and Rulers of the world)—to make Their consent necessary to a successful tenure of the Sicilian crown by a layman. As things were, however, this weapon was one which could be made to cut both ways. It was sometimes contrary to Their interests, for example, to be obliged always to remember that the Kingdom was an appendage of the Patrimony, more particularly when it was a question of an Emperor becoming the Pope's liegeman for his extra-imperial southern dominions.
This Sicilian question often demanded very subtile diplomacy. When the Pontiff happened to be a man-of-God rather than a man-of-the-world, it was apt to assume indeed the proportions of a white elephant, the ownership of which is supposed to be at once pleasing to the pride and ruinous to the purse and mental peace of the possessor.
Innocent the Third, by a trick of fortune, was placed in a position toward His vassal which no other Pope has occupied before or since. He was at once Warden of the King and Protector of the Kingdom; and it speaks well for His high sense of duty that He took His charge so seriously as almost to despair of being able to devote sufficient attention to fulfilling the expectations of the Empress Constance, who had confided her child and his Kingdom to the Apostolic care.
Much of the Sicilian trouble was due to the Lord Innocent's action in deposing Markwald von Anweiler from the governorship of the March with which he had been invested by the late Emperor. This German, with singular pertinacity, ferocity, and cunning, had determined to carve for himself a principality; and to found a dynasty. Foreigners in all ages in Italy have entertained such ambitions: in the Twelfth Century adventurers pranced prospectively in every province. The fisherman in troubled waters of politics most frequently lands the best prizes; and the difficulties, into which the minority of King Frederick—(crowned 17 May 1198 at the tender age of four)— and the non-residence of the Apostolic Warden and Protector plunged the Kingdom, seemed admirably suited for Markwald’s purpose.
It is interesting to note that the very first Bull (after the one proclaiming His Own election) which the Lord Innocent issued, 9 Jan. 1198, was Et Zizania. It announced His intention of weeding His fields, gathering the wheat into His garner, and burning up the tares (zizania) with the fire unquenchable of malediction; and it was directed against Markwald. The deposed Marquess was supported by the chancellor, Bishop Walther of Troja, the Count Palear, and Count Diopold of Acerra; and he produced a document, purporting to be the real will of the Empress Constance which appointed him tutor of Sicily and administrator of the Kingdom. Finding further support from the German lords of Molise, he marched across the peninsula to Monte Cassino: which, being a natural fortress of great strength, might be regarded as the key of Sicily within the Pharos. This aggression of course could not be permitted; and the Lord Innocent dispatched His uncle, Lando di Montelongo, with 600 men, all He could raise at short notice, to oppose the Germans. At the same time, the Pope roused Umbria and the Marches in the German rear; and fulminated warnings to the Sicilians against Markwald, and demands for help to the Rectors of Tuscany. This shows that He took the German at his own valuation; and prepared for his destruction accordingly. At first, success leaned towards Markwald: the fort of San Germano guarding the approach to Monte Cassino surrendered, and he proceeded to sit down before the monastery, which very nearly had to capitulate for want of water. But on 15 Jan. 1198, a sudden storm filled the abbey tanks; and the Germans, whose position was hazardous, were compelled to raise the siege. This gave the signal for many of the southern lords to rally round the baby-king; and the Pope addressed a general epistle to the Sicilians urging them to oppose Markwald, by supporting their lawful sovereign against a foreigner guilty of the most atrocious crimes and cruelties: Markwald was to be treated as a Saracen, and therefore out of law: villages or provinces cursed by his presence were ipso facto to suffer interdict; and the Lord Innocent concluded by announcing the dispatch of money for the payment of troops acting against the bandit.
Markwald slipped into Apulia, demanding its obedience : but his failure at the petty siege was followed by the publication of his first excommunication, in which his companions “Germans as well as Latins” were anathematized nominatim. Markwald, who was aiming not merely at the Tutorship of Sicily, but at the very crown of The Kingdom, finding that the measures taken by the Pope were an insuperable obstacle to his success, now approached Innocent with propositions indicating how entirely he had mistaken his opponent’s character. His simple Teutonic logic opined that a bribe might not be unacceptable to the Successor of the Colleague of Judas. And he approached the Pontiff’s Holiness with a request that He would desist from opposing him in his designs on the throne of the boy-king, who was (so he offered to prove) not the son of the Emperor Henry VI and the Empress Constance at all, but a changeling. In return for this amenity he offered to pay 40,000 gold Sicilian uncie, part in cash and part after the capture of Palermo, together with a double feudal tribute and increased right for the Holy See over The Kingdom; and lastly he offered to become liegeman and not merely vassal for his crown.
His proposition being rebuffed with the scorn which it deserved, the versatile and ingenious German expressed a desire for unconditional reconciliation. The Pope could not refuse assent to such a petition; but, suspecting treachery He laid down very severe conditions. Markwald, after much demur and a well-wrapped-up and skillfully planned threat, accepted them; and protracted the negotiations with the legates who were charged to accept his submission. Meanwhile, however, he was writing numerous letters to various personages in Germany and Italy, claiming all kinds of titles, and confessing the fictitiousness of his reconciliation with the Papacy. The Pope riposted with a fresh and more bitterly worded Bull of the Greater Excommunication on 10 Aug. 1199. Markwald, ad vomitum rediens et volens adhuc in stercore suo computrescere, had to take the consequences; and all Sicily was warned to beware of the man and his companions “who drink your blood and strive to bring you into perpetual slavery”.
After this exposure of his machinations Markwald made no more ado, but entered Sicily; and set up as a brigand. This he was able to do almost with impunity, owing to the disorganization of the administration; and beside he was secretly backed up by the chancellor Walther. This prelate was filled with ambition, which he was unable to gratify: even though he had practically supreme power in the realm, he desired the archbishopric of Palermo which carried with it the Sicilian primacy. The Pope, whose only knowledge of the chancellor came through the Apostolic ablegates, was unwilling to grant his request at once: but would allow him (in his capacity as Chancellor of The Kingdom) to administer the archiepiscopal demesnes until sufficient data for a decision could be collected. Meanwhile the Lord Innocent sent fresh forces under another of His uncles, Ottone di Palombara, to help King Frederick against Markwald.
But here a fresh complication arose. Count Gaultier de Brienne (who had married Albina, daughter of the bastard King Tancred of Sicily) arrived out of France; and claimed his father-in-laws principality of Taranto and county of Lecce, or an equivalent in money. Luchaire quotes the French chronicle of Bernard the Treasurer to suggest that the Pope had instigated and even financed this marriage, and further had financed the free-lance for the purpose of attracting a new interest to counteract the Germans. But, if this be so, Innocent thereby prepared for himself the horns of a dilemma. If he allowed the claim, it might seem that he was letting a fair slice of his ward’s kingdom slip through his fingers: if he refused to allow it, He might drive the claimant into open hostility and incur the accusation of denying justice. He took the only course which a decent man could take: invested Count Gaultier with his fiefs, taking his oath of allegiance to King Frederick : trusted him to keep his word; and sent him southward to become one of the chief supporters of the prince whom he might have dispossessed. Indeed, Count Gaultier’s presence in Sicily was indirectly the means of saving the boy-king’s life: for, later, when Markwald got possession of Frederick, he refrained from killing him: such a crime being likely not so much to benefit the German, as to assist the not unreasonable claims of Gaultier de Brienne, who was a far more formidable antagonist than a boy at La Ziza by Palermo, or a Pope in distant Rome. The obsolescent Gregorovius, who never by any chance allows any virtuous action on the part of the Papacy excepting when teutonically inspired, naturally (as one would expect) jumps at the opportunity to become feverish concerning this instance of Innocent the Third’s favor to a Frenchman. But surely the facts of the case, and the excellent results of his bold and honest action, sufficiently clear the Pope from insinuations of being disloyal to his trust and no true friend of King Frederick of Sicily by his acknowledgment of the Tancred claim.
The arrival of the new Count of Lecce was also a very serious thing for the wicked Chancellor, who had been largely instrumental in getting The Kingdom for the Emperor Henry VI, and therefore was exposed to the animosity of King Tancred's heir; and he seems to have urged Markwald to make his attempt earlier perhaps than the latter had intended. Beside the nobles, whom, (either by fear or favor) he had attached to his cause, Markwald was in conjunction with Magaddi the Emir of the Sicilian Saracens. Having got into communication with traitors in the palace, he tried to surprise Palermo: but was unsuccessful. Nor was he any happier in his attempts at a siege: for, on the twentieth day, the Archbishop-Admiral of Naples arrived with a fleet; and the pontifical and royal armies made a sortie. In the battle which ensued, the Pope’s persevering pains, in providing the young king with pontifical auxiliaries, were amply rewarded. The moral influence which the Lord Innocent also exerted, is shown by the fact that the royal troops disdained to desert to Markwald on the explicit ground of his excommunication. They fought bravely: but, time and again, they were broken by the rebels; and had to reform under cover of the pontifical lines. In the end the Germans made a false move; and the pontifical troops who were comparatively fresh, fell upon them, defeating them with great slaughter. Markwald fled, leaving the Saracen Emir dead on the field.
Chancellor Walther’s gratitude to the army which had destroyed his secret hopes could not be expected to be overwhelming; and the Lord Innocent himself was obliged to compensate his troops for their losses. These, together with arrears of pay and a solid bonus by way of prize money, the Pope cheerfully provided: though the custom of the time was rather to let the victors pay themselves from the plunder of the vanquished.
Innocent had little leisure in which to congratulate Himself upon His success, for Markwald recovered from his defeat with amazing rapidity. But Count Gaultier of Lecce returned from France, where he had been recruiting a small but carefully selected force, in the very nick of time. Markwald and his accomplice the Chancellor at last had quarreled. Each accused the other of aspiring to the crown. The layman being the stronger, the clerk fled into Calabria; and began to skin that unhappy province in his most approved Sicilian style, in order to raise funds for operations against his former confederate, to whom he was obliged to abandon the custody of the young king’s person in the castle of Ziza, about half a mile from the gates of Palermo. By crossing the Pharos, however, Chancellor Walther came more immediately under the notice of the Pope. Definite evidence was soon forthcoming against him; and the Lord Innocent instantly stripped him of office, and blighted him with the Great Ban. The Markwaldine faction then suffered defeat in the person of Diopold of Acerra outside the gates of Capua. The Germans fled into Apulia, whither they were followed by the Cardinal-Legate Peter who raised the country upon them. The ex-chancellor now tried to make peace, with the Pope; but was unable to stomach the necessarily concomitant friendship with Count Gaultier de Brienne. He therefore fled to Diopold. Together they rallied their men and made a great attack upon the pontifical forces near Barletta, 6 Oct. 1201, where they were most signally defeated. In Sept. 1202, Markwald suddenly died, and though one Capparone seized Palermo, and tried to play the part of von Anweiler, the strain which the struggle with the latter had placed upon the resources and attention of the Pontiff was materially lessened. During the last months of his life, beside possessing the young king’s person, Markwald had been almost absolute in Sicily: but most of his adherents deserted the new tyrant and joined the Pope, Who (by pressing on a scheme for marrying King Frederick to Costanza of Aragon, daughter of King Alfonso I) got extra military assistance from that country to help in the recognition of Sicily.
The temporary illness of the Lord Innocent caused rumors of His death to spread; and this curiously augmented the tedious disorders in The Kingdom. The Pisans mischievously interfered there, until checked by a pontifical remonstrance addressed to their government with which for some reason they complied. The ex-chancellor at length contrived to be reconciled; and, though the Pope did not reinstate him in his lost see, he did good service for the king. The Count of Lecce went on with his pacification of the south, until Diopold of Acerra killed him in the castle of Samo near Vesuvius, June 1205. Now that his adversary was removed, Diopold also maneuvered for reconciliation with the Church. This was accorded, and the Pope sent the penitent Count straight to Palermo to persuade the usurper Capparone to give up the king and the palace to the legates. This done the Pope Himself wrote to the Sicilian barons, stating that, the king being in the hands of friends and guided by lawful wardens, there was no further excuse for the lawlessness which hitherto might have been palliated while there was no fixed government in the country. Although affairs were still much disturbed, the great offenders had been crushed: so that, when King Frederick came to his own, at the age of fourteen in 1208, he found that what elements of order existed in his kingdom were due to the Lord Innocent.
The Emperor Otto’s subsequent invasion of a kingdom, to which he had no claim, and one just recovering from the long anarchy of its sovereign's minority, together with Frederick’s coronation as King of Germany at Aachen, are treated elsewhere. It has been said that Pope Innocent was not over-successful in his tutorship of Sicily: but it should be remembered that it occupied nearly the whole of the time of no less a man than the Emperor Frederick II Stupor Mundi to reduce The Kingdom to order, and that he was on the spot and completely ruthless, while the Pope was in Rome, ill served by timid legates—and a Christian Bishop rather than a man of war. It is quite safe to say that it is entirely due to the Lord Innocent that the young king lived to grow up, and that he still found a kingdom existing at all when he came to an age to deal with it.
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND ALBIGENSIAN SYNCRETISM
Some writers consider that the verdict of history upon the character of Pope Innocent the Third should be given in regard to his general government of the Church. Others think that the crux of His time was the imperial succession, or perhaps the Fourth Crusade: while yet a third class would not emphasize any one point, or series of points, but rather rely on the acts of the whole reign. It is possible, however, in emphasizing nothing, to fail of due appreciation of some flash of genius stamping the subject as the possessor of a great mind or of a masterful character. It is equally possible, on the other hand, in laying stress upon any one action or particular train of policy, that what really was routine work may be picked out for praise, and that an original treatment of a case may be overlooked in favor of some stroke which is rather the result of the steady methodical plodding of a permanent under-secretary than of a great leader’s inspiration to seize the right opportunity. After giving due consideration to the several claims of The Empire, of England, of the East, or of Rome, to be the touchstone which should prove the true metal of the Lord Innocent, it is clearly apparent that these are not the only things to which one must look for the solution of the question of the great Conti Pope’s status. We must go further afield before we can decide whether Innocent shall shine with the corona of a sun like Hildebrand, or whether He shall be considered a moon of the magnitude of the last Borgia, the Barberini, and the Pecci, Who (speaking politically) fill the second category of pontifical greatness. The Lord Innocent’s predecessors had had to cope with the blustering of truculent or cringing Caesars, the indignatiunculae of mulierose kings, the trade-unionism of barons, the venality of bishops, and the riots of the Romans: there was ample precedent ready to hand for a Pope who had to deal with selections from this list in every year of His reign; and there were hosts of curial officials whose experience was at His disposal. The pontificate itself was not particularly in need of a reformer: it had been raised out of the slough of despond wherein it had wallowed when it was no more than an ecclesiastical agency of the German Emperors: it had not yet sunk into the sanctimonious profligacy of Avignon during the “Babylonish Captivity”. And the Holy Father Himself had several better things to do than to caper at the college of cardinals or “bibere papaliter”. There was, in short, no very particularly Augean stable on the Coelian Hill in which the Lord Innocent might play the part of Herakles.
But in the Toulousain of southern France there was that which needed unique and most meticulous treatment—the Albigeois was infected with a heresy which was as a peccant humour in the body of the Catholic Church. And the jury of history should be swayed, in pronouncing its verdict upon the Lord Innocent, by a consideration of his treatment of the Albigensians not less than by the evidence adduced in regard to his other activities.
Was he a blood-bibbing butcher, who urged on his minions of the Inquisition to slaughter, torment, outrage, peaceful nonconformists who disdained the doctrines of a bloated corrupt opulent Erastian Establishment? Was he the sagacious shepherd who cut out from His healthy flock the hopelessly diseased sheep, whose contagion threatened wholesale disaster? Or was he merely the man in authority, the philosophic ruler, acting impersonally for the greatest good of the greatest number?
As Bishop of The Catholic Church, the Lord Innocent was certainly responsible for Her integrity: in the maintenance of which he had certain rules to guide him. We may or may not approve of these rules—we may or may not interpret them all alike:—but rules as plainly uncompromising as “He who is not with Me is against Me” (if we are not to close our ears and neglect them) do not admit of diverse interpretations.
The Albigensian heresy was not of very recent growth. It had been mentioned, and more or less automatically anathematized, by the provincial councils (which were little more than diocesan synods) of Lombers 1165 and Capestrang 1166. The fourth Canon of the Council of Tours 1163 stated that “A damnable heresy has for some time existed in the Toulousain, whence it has spread little by little over Gascony and other provinces. We therefore command, on pain of excommunication, all bishops and clergy of those provinces to turn their whole attention to this matter, and prevent any man from giving shelter to the heretics, or from dealing with them. Catholic princes are commanded to imprison them, and are permitted to confiscate their property”.
This canon remained practically a dead letter in the south: but some dissenters were burned in Burgundy in 1167. The sects were again noticed at the Lateran Council in 1169. In 1181 the Cardinal-bishop of Albano used an armed force for summary dealings with certain recusants. In 1195 the council of Montpensier sought out and re-enacted all sentences of excommunication against the sectaries: which perhaps was not very much to the point, as they had ceased of their own accord to commune with the Church for some time past. It is not for a moment pretended that there never was a time in the history of Christianity when there was no cause for protest.
In Innocent the Third’s day, the Church in the south of France had fallen upon fairly evil times : in one sense its grossness, worldliness, and lethargy had caused heresy; and in another sense the heresy had ill-affected it. The Archbishop of Narbonne, for example, (bastard of Count Raymond Berenger of Barcelona) held the bishopric also of Lerida, beside the abbey of Montaragon where he lived. This prelate had not visited his archdiocese for thirteen years; and amassed riches by the sale of the sacrament of Orders, benefices, and dispensations. His clergy were corrupt pluralists, of a low standard of learning, who wore secular clothes, followed secular professions, and openly lived with wives. The archbishop himself habitually sheltered robbers and brigands in return for a share of their plunder; and also countenanced (if he did not personally practice) open usury.
In the south of France, west of Rhone, the clergy shared with Jews the contempt of the laity: no clerk could stir abroad until his tonsure was grown over; and bishops, when they troubled at all about the matter, were hard put to it to find candidates for ordination. While the Church was in this condition it was not strange to find that many of the nobles inclined to secession, and that members of the sects (in consequence) contrived to gain exemptions from feudal dues. The latter also were the beneficiaries of frequent legacies; and, in spite of their so-called predilection for simplicity, were often wealthy. The power of the Church actually was so undermined by the prevalence of materialism that bishops were unable to prevent heresiarchs from preaching in public, e.g. Sicard, in the castle of Lombers, whom the bishop of Albi was powerless to silence. Neither could the episcopacy collect the tithes whereon it lived: Bishop Fulcrand of Toulouse was reduced to such penury that he had to beg for an allowance from his chapter. Many of the southern princes were secret or avowed opponents of the Church : Count Raymond VI of Toulouse was excommunicated in 1196 for his atrocious conduct towards the abbey of St Gilles: the tutor of Viscount Raymond-Roger of Carcassonne and Beziers (one Bertrand de Saissac) was the dissenter who (1197) burned the Abbey of Alet (because of a displeasing election), flung the elect-abbot into prison and posted the dead one on a throne until one of his own creatures had been chosen, the opposition having been meticulously massacred; and the result was that the young viscount was afterwards known to take part in the nonconformist ceremony of Adoration.
Unfortunately it cannot be maintained that the Albigensians were simple unworldly folk, who only desired liberty of conscience for themselves: on the contrary (like their archetypes and ectypes in all ages) they proved themselves to be—when the opportunity came—as prone to aggressive persecution as any passive resister. There were horrible scenes of violence at the disputed elections for the see of Toulouse in 1202: the lawful bishop was hounded out of the city, and the canons constrained by threats or actuality of torment to revoke the election.
Such then was the condition in which the Lord Innocent found the south of France: the Church hopelessly discredited, the nobles hostile, the bishops powerless or profligate, the country honeycombed with heterodoxy and creeping with brigands.
On 1 April 1198, in answer to the piteous appeals of the Archbishop of Auch, the Pope named two Cistercians, Guy and Renier, to examine the case of the Valdenses, Cathari and Patarini. In undertaking this task he was guided by the canon of the Lateran Council of 1179, which decrees that “although the Church, according to the words of St Leo, contents Herself with a sacerdotal judgment and does not employ sanguinary executions, nevertheless She is assisted by the laws of princes, in order that the fear of a temporal punishment may compel men to have recourse to spiritual remedies”. He then waited for reports, after his manner; and accumulated evidence, as to the condition of the Church and the progress of nonconformity.
First, it may be said that there is much confusion as to the exact nomenclature of the various sects concerned. It is quite a mistake to pretend to suppose (for ends adscititious or otherwise) that there was anything like unity in dissent in the Thirteenth Century any more than there is in the Twentieth. When once the absurd principle of private judgment (which no one dreams of exercising in matters best left to experts) is practiced in regard to religion, infinite differentiation inevitably follows. The Lord Innocent’s commissioners were confronted with two main sects: the members of which professed singularly various beliefs; and hence it is no wonder that completely different sets of dogmas should be continually confused together. We find the nonconformists described as Publicians, Poplicani, Petrobrusians, Paulicians, Leonistae, Sabatati, Henricians, Bulgarians, Boulgres, Arians, Manichaeans, Poor Men of Lyons, Cathari, Patarini, Waldenses, and Albigenses. It seems as though the writers of the period were thoroughly infected with Francis Bacon’s Eidola Fori,—the strange power of words and phrases over the mind—and were anxious to display their knowledge of at least the denominations of different heresies, and to label incoherent jumbles of blasphemies with names which, (when first used meant something definite, but) in their later application were the merest tags. Prelates and councils not unfrequently had the uncommon sense to place themselves on the safe side by describing dissenters as “heretics” tout court. This is the case in the preamble to the canons of the Council of Tours, 1163; and in the fourth canon thereof it is written “A damnable heresy has existed”. The Council of Lombers, 1163, stated “In reply to the Interrogation of the Lord Bishop of Lodève, Olivier and his companions, selected heretics, denied the Old Testament and asserted the efficacy only of the New, They offered to prove from the gospels and epistles that the said Lord Bishop was an infidel and blasphemer, and that all the other prelates present were hirelings and no true shepherds”. The Burgundians, who were burned in 1167, were called Poplicani; and twelve years later the Lateran Council of 1179 anathematized Cathari, Patarini, and Poplicani. The Council of Montpensier in 1195 was still undecided as to the exact designation: but made up for its ignorance with a zealous damnation of “blasphemous heretics”. The Premonstratensian Abbot, Bernard of Fontcaude, naively writes “Contra Valdenses et Arianos”. Two years later, in 1197, King Peyre II of Aragon published an edict against the Valdenses, or Sabatati : while, as we have seen, the Lord Innocent in 1198 named Cistercian Inquisitors to deal with Waldenses, Cathari, or Patarini.
As for the information which was submitted to the Pope, the Abbot of Margare wrote: “These false prophets pretend to lead an apostolic life and to imitate the Apostles. They preach unceasingly, walk barefoot, pray kneeling seven times by day and as often by night. They will not take money from any man. They eat no meat, drink no wine, and content themselves with a plain diet. They say that charity availeth nothing : because no man should possess anything. They refuse to communicate, pretending that the Mass is a vain form (inutile); and protest that they are ready to die or suffer the utmost penalty for their belief. They make pretence of working miracles”.
Even from Pope Innocent’s point of view there does not seem to have been anything violently objectionable in the tenets described by the Abbot of Margare, excepting of course the denial of the efficacy of the Mass and Holy Communion; and that, no doubt, must have been a misconception on the part of the Lord Abbot. People who have so far got hold of the apostolic spirit, as those described in the foregoing quotation, could not possibly have missed such an important item as this means of grace. But it is extremely likely that the backsliders in question made the not uncommon mistake of visiting upon the Church Universal their indignation at the enormities of particular clergy, whose ministrations they consequently (and quite erroneously) disdained to accept. Of course the fact remains that these people undeniably were guilty of “stasis” in forming a little creed and a little society of their own : but is it conceivable for a single instant that a Pontiff Who was enlightened enough to include so very unusual and “methodistical” a person as Blessed Brother Francis of Assisi, his preaching, his praying, his professional penury, his plain diet, within the Fold, should have expelled the Abbot of Margaret’s enthusiasts solely on the counts named. Lord Macaulay has said all that is necessary to be said on the subject of the Catholic Church’s catholicity in dealing with human idiosyncrasies.
The Waldenses, however, would seem to have arrived at a far sharper line of cleavage. Their tenets at the time were mainly as follows: —
I. They were not subject to the Roman Pontiff, or to the prelates of the Church of Rome. They could not be excommunicated by any of these. They ought not to obey the Pope when He ordered them to abjure their sect. The Church of Rome sinned in persecuting them.
II. The prelates of the Church of Rome were blind leaders of the blind, and did not preserve the truth of the Gospel or imitate Apostolic poverty.
III. The Church of Rome was a house of lies.
IV. Oaths are unlawful.
V. Confession to a priest is useless.
VI. All judgment is forbidden by God; and it is a sin for a man to condemn a fellow-man to death or punishment in any case or for any cause whatever.
VII. Laymen and women have the right to preach the Gospel.
VIII. The prayers of the faithful and other good works are of no avail to the dead.
IX. There is no Purgatory after death, this life being the only Purgatory.
X. The soul on leaving the body, goes straight to Paradise, or Hell.
Here, perhaps, we come to something a little more precise. Beside the categorical attack on certain definite dogmas of the Catholic Church (which it is not proposed to minimize or even to defend in these pages,) it ought not to escape observation that the Waldensian denial, of the right to punish crime, simply contemplated such a state of anarchy as is contrary to all sane ideals of good government, and as such could not fail of condemnation by lawful authority. The creed of the Albigensians, as far as it can be traced, contained far more numerous elements to which exception might be taken by unprejudiced political economists of any period. Their most important tenets were as follows: —
I. There are two Churches, the one merciful — the Albigensian Church of Christ, which retains that faith within which every one is saved and without which no one can be saved: the other — the merciless Church of Rome, which is the Mother of Fornication, the Temple of the Devil, the Synagogue of Satan, within which every one is irretrievably damned.
II. There are two Gods: the One Good, the other evil. The evil god is the Devil and Satan : who created the Old Testament and all things visible and corporeal, and is the god, maker and prince of this world : the Good God is the Creator of all things invisible and incorporeal.
III. All the Sacraments of the Catholic Church are vain and unprofitable : excepting Penance and Confirmation.
IV. There is no Real Presence in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
V. Orders are vain; and priests of the Catholic Church have no power to bind or loose.
VI. Extreme Unction is of no avail; and signifies nothing.
VII. Confession to a priest is useless, as the Good God only can forgive sins : but the Perfecti of the sect, by the imposition of hands and the Gospel Book, can absolve from all sin people who join the Albigensian community: — this was called the Consolamentum.
VIII. It is impossible for God to have become Incarnate because He never humbled Himself so greatly as to put Himself in the womb of a woman : He did not take a real human body of flesh of our nature, nor do other things relating to our salvation in it, nor rise from the dead, nor sit down at the Right Hand of the Father with it, but only with the semblance of it.
IX. Baptism in water is of no avail to children, because they are so far from consenting to it that many even weep during the ceremony.
X. Matrimony is always sinful, and was never appointed by the Good God : carnal matrimony between man and woman is not true matrimony, nor is it permitted.
XI. The Blessed Virgin Mary neither is nor was carnal woman; but was and is the Albigensian Church, which is true Penance.
XII. There is no resurrection of the body, but there is a resurrection of the spiritual body and inner man.
XIII. The spiritual body has bones and flesh and members; and the wicked are going to be tormented, in these spiritual bodies, by being dashed by devils against cliffs and rocks.
XIV. Souls are spirits banished from heaven because of their sins.
XV. All oaths are sinful.
XVI. Meat, eggs, must not be eaten, but only fish and oil.
XVII. The Cross is a detestable emblem of the Devil, and no man should adore it.
XVIII. Carnal intercourse with women is forbidden : married persons are compelled to divorce on joining the Albigensian community.
XIX. The Endura (or fasting to death) was encouraged, and might be accelerated by phlebotomy or the use of poison.
Devic and Vaissete inform us that the sect was divided into the Perfecti and Credentes: but a later development appears, when an Albigensiarch arose in the person of one Niquinta, who appointed Bernard Raymond as “bishop (sic) of Toulouse”, with other episcopuli over divers “dioceses” (sic) of which the extent was to coincide with that of the Catholic dioceses.
This singular gallimaufry contains several items on which (even among Christians at the present date) there is not an universal consensus of opinion, e.g. the Real Presence, Sacerdotal Authority, Extreme Unction, Holy Order, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Sign of the Cross, and the Precise Epithets which are Applicable to the Church of Rome. Others, again, will easily be perceived to be the merest echoes of heresies which were already obsolete in the Thirteenth Century: for example—of flagrant Manichaeism in the clause regarding the duality of the Deity, of Montanism in the singularly immoral regulations relating to matrimony. Others again, such as the doctrines on Baptism, on Oaths, and Vegetarianism, are a curious anticipation of more modem shatterpated infatuations.
But what can we say of such incoherent and phantastic nonsense as the articles dealing with the Blessed Virgin, the physical nature of spiritual bodies, the lapidatory proclivities of fiends in a future state, or the article legalizing lingering suicide? These may perhaps commend themselves to misogynists, unimaginative realists, competitors for the office of curator of the damned or euthanasiastic fakirs, but not to more enlightened races, who have learned chivalry towards women, who pursue science with an open mind, and practice sober and decent methods of living and dying.
After weighing the evidence, and some correspondence with the Kings of France and Aragon, the Lord Innocent realized that he was face to face with what was quite as much a social as a religious heresy of the most virulent kind. At the same time he was by no means unaware that the mote in the eye of the Church needed considerable attention. This important consideration perhaps explains the vigor with which he proceeded to purge the Church in the infected district of worthless clerks and prelates, and to eradicate the heresy.
In 1204 Pierre de Castelnau, Archdeacon of Maguelonne, and Cardinal Raoul, ex-archdeacon and Bishop of Arras, were appointed legates in a Bull depriving all the bishops of the place of their spiritual authority, and vesting the same in the legates. This was the first step toward the formation of the Congregation of the Holy Office of Inquisition. The deposed prelates, including of course the scandalous Archbishop Berenger of Narbonne, bitterly complained. The Pope replied in a second Bull, Etsi Nostra Navicula of 30 May 1204, rebuking the complainants and their clergy for the slack and disgraceful condition into which they had allowed themselves, their dioceses, and their parishes to fall; and Abbot Arnaud Amaury of Citeaux was added, as colegate, to strengthen the hands of the other two. The legates, having received special powers to this end, deposed the bishop of Béziers, and (soon after) the intruded bishop of Toulouse. Count Raymond of that city now swore to assist the legates by expelling the recusants from his territory.
Just at this time a new element was introduced into the pontifical policy in the person of Domingo de Guzman, a Spanish priest, who proposed to Bishop Diego Azebez of Osma a somewhat novel method of treating the difficulty. His proposal was to pervade the country barefoot, to carry neither gold nor silver, and to preach in the manner of the apostles. The bishop enthusiastically welcomed the idea on account of its simplicity, which undoubtedly would impress such persons who were goaded into dissent by the too worldly pomp of prelates. He himself took the leadership of the movement which was speedily joined by two of the legates, Pierre de Castelnau and the Abbot of Citeaux. Innocent the Third, on His part, lost no time in approving their zeal. Domingo and his quickly-growing band swore to defend the doctrine of the Church with their lives against all heretics, and to place themselves under the direction of the Pope in His capacity as Vicar of Christ, and the first mendicant Order went forth to win, by the excellence of service, formal approval and a regular constitution.
The Count of Toulouse (whom the Monk of Cernay calls “peccatorum omnium apotheca”) did not continue to give satisfaction. Pierre de Castelnau appears to have been of a somewhat fiery temper; and, when he found Raymond half-hearted against the heretics, sheltering as many as he expelled, he at once excommunicated him and reported very fully upon his case to Rome. The Pope wrote severely to the misdemeanant, who was induced to surrender to the legate. But another disagreement followed; and the Count threatened his opponent’s life. It was the case of King Henry Fitzempress and Archbishop Beket over again. Some partisans of Raymond murdered the legate on the banks of Rhone, 15 Jan. 1208.
Every one assumed Count Raymond’s guilt. He most strenuously denied it. The Pope excommunicated the murderers: wrote to the King of France, urging him to attack the Count; and, anticipating the thesis of Beza, De hereticis a magistratu civili puniendis and that of Calvin, Jure gladii coercendos esse hereticos, ordered a Crusade against the Albigensians. This was a novel proceeding: hitherto the name of Crusade had been confined to expeditions toward Jerusalem.
Count Raymond appealed in haste to the Pope; and offered to accept conditions: he even went to Rome to plead his case. The Lord Innocent, however, insisted upon an examination of the whole affair by a commission. His Holiness appointed the Apostolic Prothonotary Milon and Canon Thedisius of Genoa, as legates: for He wished to be fair, knowing very well that the excommunicate Count and the Abbot of Citeaux were not on the best of terms. The affair ended at the Council of Montelimar, when Raymond renewed his obedience, and handed over seven castles as surety. He was then formally absolved and shortly afterwards took the Cross against the heretics.
The suppression of Albigensian Nonconformity was by no means a massacre of inoffensive unresisting religious maniacs. It was rather a fierce campaign of extermination against a foe which was well armed, led by famous warriors, possessed of strong castles and wealthy towns, commanding vast resources, and polluted with the guilt of unspeakable atrocities. “At Pamiers the Frenchmen of Raymond-Roger, Count of Foix, cut one of the Canons of the Abbey of Saint Antonin to pieces and gouged out the eyes of another monk of the same place. The count came along soon afterwards with his knights, buffoons, and courtiers, shut up the abbot and his monks in the church where he permitted them to fast for three days and finally drove them, nearly naked, from the confines of their native city”.
Among the leaders who took part in the first Crusade against the Albigensians, were Duke Eudes III of Burgundy, Pierre de Courtenay Count of Nevers, afterwards Emperor of Romania, Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester afterwards Count of Toulouse, Guillaume des Roches, Seneschal of Anjou, Count Guillaume of Ponthieu, Guy Lord of Beaujeu, Enguerraud de Coucy, the Archbishops Gérard de Cros of Bourges, Pierre de Corbeil of Sens, Robert Poulain of Rouen, the Bishops Gautier II of Autun, Jourdain du Hommet of Lisieux, Robert d'Auvergne of Clermont, the English Henry of Bayeux, and Reginald de Bar of Chartres. The leaders of the heretics were the Viscount Raymond-Roger of Béziers and Carcassonne, (son of that Roger II who sacked the abbey of St Pons de Tomiferes (1171), and imprisoned the Bishop of Albi, giving him heretics as gaolers,) Viscount Gaston VI of Bearn, Count Bernard IIII of Comminges, Count Raymond-Roger of Foix, and Count Ceroid IIII of Armagnac.
The Crusaders elected Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester as their leader, and at once took the offensive against Carcassonne, which was regarded as a nest of the nonconformists. The city was taken; and the Earl of Leicester elected to succeed Viscount Raymond-Roger, who was straitly confined in one of the strongest towers, where he died shortly afterwards. Béziers fell next; and, despite the pleading of the Bishop, (whose predecessor Bishop Guillaume III’s teeth had been beaten down his throat by his own subjects, so that he died, Mar. 1167), was the scene of a most fearful massacre, 10 Nov. 1209. The Albigensians opposed a furious resistance; and were treated with unmitigated severity. Count Raymond again fell foul of the legates, by reason of his unwillingness to exterminate his own subjects of Toulouse, and his refusal to restore the property of the Bishop of Carpentras; and, in consequence, he once more came under the ban of excommunication.
The year 1210 was spent in fruitless negotiations between the King of Aragon and Simon de Montfort, who wished to secure recognition of his new lordship of Carcassonne and Briers. The political and secular element of personal ambition was already beginning to appear, to the infinite detriment of the Crusade. King Peyre (Pedro) was opposed to Simon de Montfort; and seems to have assisted the Count of Toulouse against him. Matters indeed were in a very unsatisfactory state. The first Crusade which had been much hampered by the observance of the feudal forty-day limit for military service by many of the lords, seemed to have done more to exasperate the Albigensians than to annihilate them. The Pope, therefore, proclaimed a second Crusade, gathering forces from far and near under Duke Leopold VI of Austria, Duke Theobald of Bar, the Count of Auxerre, the Count of Kleve, the Count of Jülich, the Count of Berg, the Bishops of Paris, Lisieux, Bayeux, Toul and Loudun, with Simon de Montfort as commander in chief.
The siege of Lavaur was at once attempted. At first Count Raymond would neither fight the Crusaders nor pursue the Albigensians. After the fall of Lavaur, however, when the most revolting cruelties were perpetrated on both sides, the great personal hatred for each other (displayed by the rival leaders) then blazed forth. Count Raymond was exasperated beyond measure at the way in which Simon de Montfort slaughtered his subjects, pillaged his villages, and devastated his crops and vines. He took the field, and besieged Carcassonne: but, when defeated, was able to retire under cover of his allies, the counts of Foix and Comminges. He then appealed to King En Peyre for help, both in men against de Montfort, and in representations on his behalf to the court of Rome. The war, by this time, had degenerated into a personal struggle between the two chiefs; and only partook of the nature of a Crusade when some more than usually revolting act of cruelty was achieved by one side or the other. In May 1211, eighty-one Albigensian knights were hanged by the crusaders: who also tossed the Lady Giraude of Lavaur into a well; and burned sixty select sectarians at Casse near Castelnaudary, after having had them preached at by bishops. On the other hand, Gaston de Bearn had profaned The Host and unmentionably desecrated the cathedral of Oloron: in 1178 the Albigensians had stoned Catholics in Toulouse streets and, later, used the high altar of a church as a public convenience.
The Pope perceived the true state of things: for, between September and December 1212, He wrote to Simon de Montfort (who had just been making ordinances for the peaceful administration of the scarcely pacified country at the Council of Pamiers), sternly rebuking him for following his own interests under cover of the Crusade. The Lord Innocent also wrote to the Archbishop of Narbonne to say that (in His opinion) the heresy was now well under control, and that the services of the Crusaders were required more against the Moors in Spain than against the miserable remnant of the Albigensians. This epistle practically revoked the Bull which commissioned the Crusade. The Council of Lavaur, Jan. 1213, tried to make a definite peace with Count Raymond, who they complained, was not to be bound by oaths: but he, expecting help from the King of Aragon against Simon, refused to fetter himself. The help came, and with it King En Peyre. The Earl of Leicester, however, by prodigies of valor, defeated the allies at the battle of Muret, where the King of Aragon was killed. The only claim (to belong to a Crusade) which this battle can have, is that the legate, Cardinal Robert Curson, made peace after it, and that one of the conditions to which the defeated Raymond agreed was that of extirpating heresy. The Count of Toulouse was so humbled that he actually served under his former enemy at the siege of Casseneuil, one of the last of the castles held by the militant Albigensians. He was moreover deprived of his sovereignty and reduced to the position of a subject. Simon de Montfort was now Count of Toulouse, Viscount of Béziers and Carcassonne, Duke of Narbonne, and Earl of Leicester. King Philip the August did not invest him until 10 Apr. 1216, though he had obtained letters of investiture over all Raymond’s late territories from the Apostolic Legate.
Raymond considered himself so wronged by Simon, that he betook himself to Rome to plead his case before the Pope and the Lateran Council. He was accompanied by the Counts of Foix and Comminges, who were loyal to him through all his misfortunes. He was also supported by several bishops, who had little love for the new master of the south. The Lord Innocent was inclined to side with the appellants: but was dissuaded, and a decree of the Council formally deposed Raymond and granted his dominions to his conqueror. The two counts, his allies, were censured, but allowed to keep their counties after promising to give castles as sureties for their good behavior. The Pope, however, moved by countless petitions in his favor, notably from King John Lackland’s envoy the Abbot of Beaulieu and the Archbishop of Embrun, refused to allow the ex-count of Toulouse to be reduced to penury: a pension of 400 marks was given to him, and the Lord Innocent promised that, as He had deprived Raymond’s young son of the succession to his family inheritance. He would see to it that he had ample compensation elsewhere. In consequence the boy was awarded Beaucaire, Nimes, and the marquessate of Provence.
Raymond died in 1222, after a further effort to regain his lost inheritance. The Council of Montpellier, which met on 8 Jan. 1215, took the necessary measures for restoring ecclesiastical discipline in the south; and was closed by the legate Cardinal Peter of Benevento. When King Philip the August’s son Louis, disappointed (by the Pope’s action in allowing King John to be reconciled) of his hopes of an English expedition, came down with the Third (or Peaceful) Albigensian Crusade, he found no necessity for military measures. The rebellion may therefore be said to have ceased to be dangerous by the beginning of 1213, and to have become practically extinct, as an organized force, by the middle of 1215. Much as the fact may be deplored, it would be futile to deny that the Pope, in his capacity as Head of the Church, was compelled to take some kind of stringent measures for the suppression of the Albigensian Rebellion. No doubt the most desirable form which these measures should take, would have been that desiderated by Domingo de Guzman. That his Holiness chiefly employed other and physical methods, is due (first) to the custom of the times, which knew no other way of getting what it wanted than by the use of force, and (secondly) from the irresistibly convenient weapon which Fate placed ready to his hand in the person of Simon de Montfort. It is doubtful whether the Crusade would have achieved its end, had it not been for the Earl of Leicester’s perspicacity in realizing that, by judicious self-assertion, he might obtain for himself the lion’s share of the temporal gains accruing from this spiritual sword-service. It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to add that Pope Innocent bitterly regretted the appalling cruelties of the campaign : this point is made quite clear from the tenor of his letters on the subject; and it is only fair to emphasize the fact that He only allowed himself to resort to secular violence, for the purpose of ending the Heresy, after the efforts of no less than ten years, to effect the same desirable end by the more peaceful methods of persuasion and Church reform, had failed, and failed entirely through the extremely militant attitude of the upholders of the schism, and the hereditary slackness of the Toulousain in its zeal for the Faith, with its perennial leaning toward any and every heresy, which might happen to be imported from abroad or invented on the spot.
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND ENGLAND
Of all the subjects of Pope Innocent’s diplomacy, none was more successful (from the Roman point of view) than His treatment of England. Undeterred, perhaps even urged on, by the Sicilian precedent, He succeeded in obtaining the kingdom of England as a fief of the Holy See, together with a substantial tribute as the token of His suzerainty. The son of King Henry Fitzempress, (that sturdy upholder of royal rights against pontifical,) became Saint Peter’s liegeman. The Plenitude of the Apostolic Power was brought into successful operation in the case of a disputed election to the Pananglican primacy; and it was a far greater and more real triumph for the Lateran, that a pontifical nominee should sit in Canterbury than in Latin Constantinople. Was not the Archbishop of the English Papa alterius orbis? And who or what was a Latin patriarch of Constantinople, even under the Emperors of Romania, in comparison with the Successor of Augustine?
Innocent the Third’s first dealing with England had consisted of friendly letters to King Richard Lionheart: to whom, on one occasion, He sent four precious rings, as a token of affection, so as to sweeten much good advice. King Richard died, suddenly, and not wholly free from ecclesiastical pains, penalties, and censures of a minor kind, and (seemingly) without a plenary absolution in the article of death, which may explain the delay over his burial. And King John his brother reigned in his stead.
King Richard had been one of the principal supporters of his nephew Otto. King John also sided with the Guelf candidate in the German question; and so was of the pontifical party. This, in the Lord Innocent’s opinion, was as it should be. But the Pope was seriously annoyed that the new king did not hand over King Richard’s legacy to his imperial nephew. King John was approached on the subject: the delay of payment was gently regretted; and Otto’s need of the money delicately pointed out. England was made to feel that he would be doing Rome a favor by fulfilling dead England’s wishes. When this method was unavailing, he was reproached in no less than eight pontifical breves. King John enjoyed an unenviable financial reputation in Rome not only on this account: there was another difficulty involving five pontifical breves and nine years of negotiation about Queen Berengère’s dowry, a matter upon which the Pope had also to correspond with King Don Sancho of Navarre.
With the purely international affairs of England and France, the Lord Innocent did not see fit to interfere: beyond recommending a permanent peace, as the best preliminary to the Crusade in which He urged both sovereigns to embark. Later, the Pope made further advances, in the shape of definite offers of mediation when He saw (with sorrow) the two principal kings of the west engaged in a bitter war of conquest, wasting money, and occupying men which could ill be spared in Christendom’s need for an immediate and united Crusade.
Before proceeding to consider the question of the Canterbury controversy it may be hinted, that, in this case, the Lord Innocent’s diplomatic acumen perhaps failed to guide Him quite aright. The pure justice of the contested election did not essentially demand Langton’s nomination. A little more finesse, a wider knowledge of King John’s character, and a less impatient desire for the immediate welfare of the Church in what was (for the period) a very minor consideration, would have spared the Pope years of trouble, and England the third most humiliating chapter in her history.
On the death of Archbishop Hubert Walter, 13 Jul. 1205, the right of election to the see of Canterbury was in dispute between the monks of Christ Church and the suffragans of the Province who held capitular titles: e.g. The Bishop of London is Dean of the Province, the Bishop of Winchester Subdean: while the offices of Chancellor, Precentor, Chaplain and Crucifer are annexed to the sees respectively of Lincoln, Salisbury, Worcester, and Rochester. The monks claimed on the ground of long usage and established custom; and the bishops, because they said they were the chapter — and what was the object of a chapter other than to elect bishops? But, as the bishops were scattered about the kingdom, each in his own diocese, they had no opportunity of taking concerted action until later. Also there was necessary, (not precisely the Tiberian privilege of commendation, nor its modern equivalent of the solemn and somewhat blasphemous farce of the congé d'élire, but) the royal assent to the election. The monks of Christ Church, in order to make sure of their right of election, forthwith met secretly by night and chose the subprior Reginald to succeed the worldly courtier Walter. And, having enthroned their selection, they were straightway afraid of what they had done. So Reginald (whether still subprior or really elect-archbishop) was hurried off on the eighty days’ journey to Rome to obtain pontifical confirmation and consecration. From motives of prudence, he was strictly enjoined to keep his election and letters of recommendation secret Imagining, however, that it would be more commodious to travel as the elect-archbishop of a great see than as a mere subprior of monks, Reginald no sooner landed upon the continent than he bourgeoned forth with his new dignity; and proceeded to his destination in archiepiscopal circumstance. This action placed the Canterbury monks in a perilous position: they were exposed to the king’s displeasure for presuming to elect without consulting him. Consequently when John’s wishes were made known, Bishop John de Gray of Norwich was chosen by both monks and bishops; and envoys were sent to Rome to ask for his pallium.
The Pope received the envoys; and told them that Reginald had already arrived in Rome to prefer his claims, and that evidence on the subject would have to be heard before a decision could be given. The monks (who accompanied the royal envoys) in fear of by no means impossible unpleasantness on the part of King John, produced documents to show that their subprior’s election had been invalid. Reginald naturally protested, saying that the Pope had promised to decide, not only who was archbishop but also, upon the right of election. The suffragans of Canterbury now formally asserted their claim: but, believing that safety lay in siding with their sovereign, they declared for the Bishop of Norwich. The Pope knew something of the latter prelate. He had had some correspondence with him (10 Jun. 1203) about the deposition of connubially-minded clerks. In the Lord Innocent’s opinion there had been enough of statecrafty archbishops. Bishop de Gray was too good a King’s-man to be a good Pope’s-man; and Canterbury would thrive better under the ministrations of a church-man. Consequently he quashed Bishop de Gray’s election on the ground of irregularity: declared Reginald’s to be invalid on the ground of informality; and decided in favor of the sole right of the monks to elect. He then ordered a new election to be made by the sixteen monks of Canterbury then in Rome, who were to be taken as compromissaries for the whole convent. These, still shaking in their shoes, were not able to think of anybody but the king’s nominee: until the Pope told them that no king had anything to do with elections made in Rome; and gave them a name. Thus advised, their choice precipitated itself upon the Cardinal-Presbyter of the Title of S. Chrysogonus, one Stephen Langton, who had been a fellow student and friend of the Pope at Paris, and subsequently Lecturer in Theology in the same university, and had won some fame by dividing the Bible into chapters as we now print it.
The king’s envoys, who knew their master better than did the Pope, absolutely refused to accept the election. It therefore became the Lord Innocent’s pleasing task to acquaint the fiery Angevin with the fait accompli: which He did in a most gracious and flowery epistle. There is a fable that the House of Plantagenet sprang from the union of a man with a female devil. If such cross-breeding were possible and had taken place, its results might fairly well have taken the shape of such an hyaena as King John. We have in him instances of ungoverned rage in which he certainly qualified for the epithet diabolical. Whether this was due to a devilish ancestry or not, on the receipt of the Pope’s letter, John fell into a thoroughly Plantagenet passion; knights of selected barbarity were sent to drive the resident Canterbury monks out of their convent, to the number of seventy; and they afterwards found refuge in Flanders. Meanwhile, John spat an indignant letter of protest to Rome—Langton was a stranger, long resident among the King’s enemies at Paris and even now installed abroad — his election was in defiance of the King’s rights — let the Roman Pontiff bethink Himself before He angered the King of the English — England sent more of Peter’s Pennies to Rome than any other state in Europe; and would send no more — and, finally, the King announced his unalterable intention to proceed to the investiture of the Bishop of Norwich. The Lord Innocent took no notice of these threats; and Himself consecrated Cardinal Langton at Viterbo, 17 Jun. 1207. He also wrote to the three premier bishops of England quoting the text “render unto Caesar etc,” as justification for His action; and ordered them to place England under an interdict if opposition were made to the archbishop, who now only needed enthronization to enable him to take possession of the temporalities of his see.
The king, however, was having trouble with his First Estate over money matters; and, when the archbishop of York, his half-brother, pleaded in vain and then cursed him for a robber, he blazed into Angevin anger. Archbishop Geoffrey fled: his property was sequestrated and his episcopal revenues escheated. He complained to the Pope: Who in turn rebuked the King and commanded restitution, taking the opportunity also to press Queen Berengère’s claims for the repayment of her dowry.
King John refused to accept Cardinal Langton in any circumstances; and that prelate took up his abode at Pontigny, where St. Thomas of Canterbury had lived in exile fifty years before. The king also declined to make reparation to the archbishop of York, or to fulfill his obligations to his sister-in-law. When the three bishops, of London, Ely, and Worcester, acquainted the king with the pontifical decree, John swore and threatened horribly. “Dentz Dez”, cried he, “if you dare to proclaim the interdict, I will pack off all the bishops and priests to the Pope and will take what is theirs, and all the Romans in the country shall return home blinded and noseless, so that they may be recognized all over the world; and if you value your skins get out of my sight”. The king was as good as his word; and, when the interdict was proclaimed on 28 Mar. 1208, he took most drastic measures against the clergy: prelates and priests alike were driven pell-mell and wholesale from the kingdom. The fact that the interdict was proclaimed does not seem to have affected the Cistercians, at whom the Pope carped in a letter to the English Bishops Feb. 21 1209 for massing publicly on village greens and ringing bells. Lackland’s fury, however, did not entirely blind him to possibilities: while confiscations and escheatments were enforced against the clergy, he took hostages of his principal lords for their loyalty. Then he actually wrote to the Pope offering to restore all his church plunder and to permit the Cardinal-Archbishop Langton and the monks of Canterbury to land: he further offered his own regal rights over the Canterbury lands to the Lord Innocent. The Pope accepted; and appointed the three aforesaid bishops as a commission to examine the matter: for, as he was dealing with an Angevin, He suspected a trap of some kind. The interdict (decreed the Pope) was to be raised if all were satisfactory: but the archbishop of York was to be reinstated within three months, on pain of a continuance of the interdict in the Northern Province. This bleak austerity only exasperated the king further and the situation remained as bad as before. The three bishops (who were in Flanders) were ordered to go to John, and publish his excommunication in his face: but they dared not even go to England. The command was passed on to other prelates: but, not unnaturally, no one dared to obey. A rumor of the impending sentence got about; and Geoffrey, Archdeacon of Norwich and Judge of the Court of King’s Bench, announced that his conscience forbad him to serve an excommunicate monarch. The archdeacon of those days was a somewhat important dignitary, fulfilling the duties of diocesan chancellor, and was not necessarily in major orders. As a class, archdeacons enjoyed an ill name for rapacity and oppression, and John of Salisbury debated, “How is it possible for an archdeacon to inherit the kingdom of Heaven?”. King John could not afford to ignore so important a person as Archdeacon Geoffrey; so he happed him up in a cope of lead, precluding the slightest movement, and thus starved him to death.
The election of Chancellor Hugh of Wells to the vacant see of Lincoln gave cause for a fresh royal explosion. The elect-bishop was allowed to go to Rouen for consecration, but took himself instead to Pontigny, where Archbishop Langton performed the first official act of his archiepiscopate (at Melun,) 20 Dec. 1209. So things went from bad to worse, until in 1212 John’s atrocious iniquities caused Pope Innocent to issue a Bull, absolving his subjects and vassals from their allegiance, pronouncing excommunication on all who had dealings with him, and giving his realm to King Philip the August. Furthermore, King John, being now in the same category as Turks, Jews, Infidels, and Heretics, armed action against the deposed Plantagenet was elevated to the status of a crusade. At this tremendous call of check, the cur-like king cowered and offered amends; and the Pope, willing to forgive a real (or to humiliate a royal) penitent, sent a trusted official of His curia, the subdeacon Pandolfo, as nuncio, armed with all Apostolic power. The two met at Northampton. After much plain speaking from the nuncio, King John drew off again, and tried to terrify him by executing a few criminals, including a defaulting clergyman: but, by threatening a priest, he very foolishly afforded Pandolfo an opportunity of asserting the supreme ecclesiastical authority vested in him; and the miscreant clerk was rescued from the angry sovereign’s clutches.
Meanwhile, acting under the Pope’s commands (which very pleasantly coincided with his own aspirations,) King Philip the August, at a great muster at Soissons, declared his intention of invading England to dethrone the deposed king, to restore the banished bishops and remove the interdict, as well as to punish the Angevin for the assumed murder of Duke Arthur of Brittany. But these preparations were in vain. John, unable to trust his English barons to resist the foreign invasion, suddenly climbed right down from obstinate defiance to self-humiliating obedience. Without approving the way in which it was achieved, and at whatever cost to our English pride, one can hardly help admiring the completeness of the pontifical triumph. The Saul among persecutors agreed to all the Pope’s demands; and, prostrate before the apostolic envoy, rendered up his kingdoms and regalia, receiving them again on taking the oath as a feudal liegeman to the Holy See; and further, signed a deed, binding himself and his successors to this tenure of their kingship, 12 Oct 1213. Pandolfo left England with £8ooo for the banished bishops; and the question of Queen Berengère’s dowry was shelved.
Of course, now that King John was a communicate vassal ruling over an uninterdicted portion of Peter’s Patrimony, he was not a fit subject for attack by the Pope’s men. The fury of King Philip the August, when he was told that to assail John was now all of a sudden a sin, was only curbed by the desertion of the Count of Flanders. It is quite possible that it was a case of “a Pope ill-advised” when, during the subsequent struggles between John and his barons, the Lord Innocent was so decidedly of the king’s advice. Of course it may be that the Pope considered it detrimental to the moral (as well as to the feudal) interests of the Church to allow King John to be hustled or hullaballooed at by his subjects: but then it must also be remembered that Softsword had given his suzerain to understand that, granted the opportunity, he would go crusading to the Holy Land, though his letters to the Pope upon the subject can scarcely be taken as records of fact. From whatever motives the Lord Innocent acted He was at least, consistent. The same hand which protected vassal John from King Philip the August in 1213, two years later interfered in his favor against the barons. King John was absolved from his oath to keep the provisions of Magna Carta: and the Lateran lightnings scorched the barons who dared to combine against their lawful sovereign and the favored dependent of the Holy See. The Church had won a signal triumph: Peter’s Pence and feudal tribute were flowing into Her somewhat depleted coffers: all disputed questions had been settled in Her favor: Her overbearing oppressor was now quite obedient and very humble;—and what were the constitutional aspirations of a distant bland in comparison with the necessity of showing the World that the Church knew how to protect Her friends as well as how to punish Her foes. It was distinctly a mistake of judgment on the part of Innocent. True, John’s letters to the Pope were utterly misleading. True, Cardinal Langton erred on the side of arbitrariness. But, Innocent knew John’s character—cowardly, cruel, treacherous, incapable, thoroughly weak (excepting for wickedness). And He knew Langton’s—brave, capable, ambitious for the best interests of the Church, tactful, strong, diplomatic with unusual sincerity. But John had taken the Cross. Innocent believed that the King of the English was about to fulfill his promise to free the Holy Land. And it was this which blinded a judgment ordinarily so clear-seeing, and at all times so unwaveringly on the side of righteousness, and influenced the Pope in John’s favor. The advantage, then, which Innocent won was contemptible, on account of its ephemerality, if on no higher ground; and there can be no doubt but that, when the first flush of triumph had faded, the Pope regretted that ever a single English mark of King Lackland’s minting should have entered the pontifical exchequer. The case of England’s humiliation under John is on the whole a fine example of the Roman Pontiff’s fallibility in temporal affairs.
CONCERNING INNOCENT THE THIRD AND THE CITY
IT is one of the most remarkable features of the history of the Roman Pontificate that, long after the Pontiff had become able to wield Christendom at His will, to make and unmake kings and emperors, to compel princes to peace or war. He Himself was almost always in difficulties with His Romans. Rome indeed never seems not to have deserved Tacitus’ description of it as the place “where everything atrocious or shameful (he is speaking of Christianity) collects and is practiced”.
The Lord Innocent’s difficulties with the City appear to have arisen from two sources: first, the shocking example set by other neighboring Italian cities or states; secondly, the notion (maintained as a root idea by the temperamentally turbulent populace) that it stood in a more or less independent position in regard to the Pope.
Among the cantankerous cities and states with which the Lord Innocent had to deal, the Lombard cities in the north with Orvieto, Viterbo, Pisa and the island of Sardinia nearer at hand, are perhaps the most important to be considered.
The following Lombard cities came in turn under the weight of the pontifical flail: Cremona (September 1199-December 1204): Parma and Piacenza sinned in common from 1198 to 1205, when Parma saw the error of her ways and was pardoned, while Piacenza having invented a fresh sin persevered therein until 1207 : Bergamo began to misbehave in 1210 and remained under displeasure, as was also the case with Treviso: Alessandria, a papal city, par excellence, was stiffnecked and would obey the Pope in nothing: it persisted through the loss of its bishopric, and in 1213 elected an excommunicate heretic as its rector, when after it remained under the Pope’s displeasure, ban, and interdict: Verona, Modena, Mantua, Novara, Ferrara, Padua, belong also to the same category. All these cities were insolent to legates, sometimes heretical, always aggressive against the clergy whom they afflicted with outrageous taxes; and, furthermore, they were given over to desolating wars between city and city, and to perpetual civil disorders, in all of which the Church was the chief sufferer.
The Pope’s object was to ease matters, to protect the clergy and the property of the Church, and to make life at least endurable for decent and Christian men and women. His method of attaining this object was much the same in every case. If anything could be done by exhortation. Innocent the Third (with His enormous capacity for letter-writing) was the man to do it. When words failed He proceeded to deeds—gentle at first, then severe, finally terrific, and generally effective.
The breves and bulls which issued from the Lateran seem to have come in the following order:—
“Please be good”
—“You will be sorry if you are not good”
—“Such and such individual sinners are excommunicated”
—“Your city is laid under an interdict”
—“The bishopric of your city is abolished”
—“All the subjects of your city are outlaws throughout Christendom, and any prince who desires to add it to his dominions will be blessed for doing so”.
It is not suggested that this procedure was invariably successful. Indeed, in some places, there was no lay prince considerable enough to be named definitely as pontifical commissioner for the restoration of the Catholic Faith, Apostolic peace, and Christian treatment of the clergy; and cities like Bergamo, Treviso, and Alessandria, were as contagious ringworms on the body of Italian politics. It must however be emphasized that Innocent (Who is spoken of elsewhere as the pioneer of Italian independence) never dreamed of inviting transalpine barbarians to do in Italy what He was perpetually urging them to do in their own countries, namely to consider themselves as Peter’s sword to be wielded at the Pope’s will against objectionable or contumacious ears.
affair of Pisa and Sardinia was another of the Lord Innocent’s provincial
difficulties. The Pope found Sardinia at the very beginning of his reign in an
extremely unsatisfactory condition. As far as it could be said to be governed
at all, its
In 1200 Innocent as suzerain kicked (in a spirit of love) Guglielmo da Massa, Judge of Cagliari.
“We hear”, He wrote, “that you have returned like a dog to your vomit; and that, plunged in the voluptuousness of the time, you have actually been usurping the rights of the Church instead of respecting Her as your Mother and Mistress. You have stolen the wife of the Judge of Torres, dishonored her and killed her in prison. By caresses, threats, or violence, maids and matrons, patrician or plebeian, are your victims. You illtreat churches and the clergy, as though they were serfs, with your crushing taxes. You have deposed Pietro di Serra, Judge of Arborea, and kept him in prison until he died. Without waiting for Our investiture or asking Our permission, and to Our loss, you married your daughter to a noble, Ugo di Basso, giving her as dowry half Arborea and reserving for yourself all the fortresses; and yet everyone knows that all Sardinia belongs to the domain, jurisdiction, and patrimony, of the Apostolic See. That is not all. Even your Judgeship of Cagliari you only obtained, on the death of the last Judge, by seizing his wife and daughter, leaving the one to die in prison, and marrying the other, a minor, to one of your kin : although the Judge, on his deathbed, confided them both, as well as his dominions, to the Archbishop of Pisa”.
Two years later, finding that His exhortations had failed, the Pope made a definite attempt to establish order and peace in Sardinia, naming the apostolic prothonotary Blasio as Archbishop of Torres with full powers. But, in the following year, the Sardinians indulged in a considerable massacre of prelates; and the pontifical threat of excommunication and anathema (to be pronounced every Sunday and Holiday throughout the island) seems to have been simply contemned.
This was Pisa’s opportunity: Pisa, the Pope’s enemy in Tuscany, and herself under the Great Ban. Pisa, being a maritime republic, and the Pisans of a pushing and commercial temperament, desired to bring Sardinia into both spiritual and temporal subjection to herself and to reduce it to the status of a colony. Consequently, when the Lord Innocent (claiming the island as a fief of Peter’s Patrimony in virtue of Carolingian Donations) insisted on oaths of allegiance from the Judges, and urged the local bishops to act for the restoration of law and morality, the incorrigible Sardinians were only too ready to fall into the arms of the Pisans. The result was the Pisan raid on Torres and the practical enslavement of that division of the island.
This same year Barisone I, Judge of Gallura, died, leaving a daughter Elena, whose marriage fell to Innocent (as legal suzerain of Sardinia) to arrange. Desiring to obtain a definite foothold in the island, the Pope appointed His Own cousin, Trasimondo de' Conti, to marry the lady and thereby to acquire iure uxoris the hereditary Judgeship of Gallura. Owing however to Pisan influence on her mother, the girl was coy for three years: which gave the Pisans a chance of providing a rival candidate for her hand in the person of Lamberto Visconti, a citizen of the republic, whom she was induced to marry in 1207. The Pope retorted by sending Trasimondo to incite Genoa (the commercial rival of Pisa) against Sardinia, fulminating by the way excommunications against bridegroom, bride, and the latter’s mother. The Pisans, on their part, continued to be Guelf when the Pope became Ghibelline, allying themselves with another of His enemies, the Emperor Otto: but, though Innocent contrived to nullify their efforts in this direction, Pisa remained under excommunication until the end of the reign. The republic was however able to console itself with the possession of Sardinia, of which the Pope henceforth disdainfully washed His hands. By way, however, of getting even with the Pisans, and making them, willy-nilly, instrumental for good at least somewhere, the Lord Innocent wrote to the Bishop of Gallipoli and the Dean of the Great Church of Constantinople ordering them to compel, with threat of censures, all Pisans in Romania to pay tithes.
The case of Orvieto presents a different feature from that of the Lombard cities and the Sardinia-Pisa imbroglio : the place being not only rebellious but heretical as well. In the very year of the Lord Innocent’s accession, the Orvietans had tried to steal pontifical Acquapendente. The following year the Catharist heresy broke out very violently. The usual excommunications followed; and the bishop, Ricardo of Orvieto, was transferred to Rome. He appears to have been able occasionally to nerve himself to hang, burn, and behead sectaries, but never entirely to suppress them. In Feb. 1200 the Christian inhabitants of Orvieto succeeded in getting a pontifically-nominated Podesta in the person of Pietro Parenzi: who was promptly murdered by the heretics on 30 May by way of retaliation for the bitter persecution, both physical and financial, to which he had subjected them. It is worthy of note, as an instance of the disorders of the times, that the brave Parenzi, after swearing allegiance to the Pope as Podesta of Orvieto, at once made his will and received plenary absolution in intelligent anticipation of that doom which elevated him, in the eyes of reasonable Orvietans, to the rank of a hero and martyr. The city was quiescent after this outburst until 1209, when the inhabitants again made predatory attempts on Acquapendente; and were immediately scorched with interdict and crippled by a fine of 4000 marks.
The case of Viterbo more nearly affected Rome, by reason of its geographical proximity and of the frequent residence of the pontiffs within its walls. At the very beginning of Innocent’s reign, we find it cankered with heresy and hankering after independence. On 25 March 1199 He had occasion to rebuke the Consuls of the city and to furnish them with injunctions against heretics. Like all other communities of the period the Viterbitans resisted the pontifical measures as far as they could: failing to turn aside the Pope from His course of unification, they proceeded to worry His class, the clergy, drawing upon themselves in 1200 a threat to suppress the see. After this came the war between Viterbo and Rome (which is treated of below); and, from its close until 1205, the city seems to have behaved itself. But then Viterbo lapsed again into evil ways, exiling its bishop and electing an excommunicated Patarin, one Giovanni Tignosi, as chamberlain of the city.
“Wallowing in your sins”, fulgurated the angry Pontiff, “as does a beast of burthen amid its dunghills, the stink of your putridity has corrupted all the region round about“. All the dreadful pains and penalties of excommunication and interdict were launched against those who had dealings with Catharism and every other kind of heterodoxy; and the bishop was restored. But not until June 1207 was there peace, when Innocent Himself went to superintend the cleansing of this Augean stable. Henceforth recusants were to be outlawed, their property confiscated, their houses razed and the sites used as public rubbish heaps. Further, their fautors were to be mulcted of a quarter of their goods and bound over in a new and strict oath of allegiance. As for the lapsed, or recidiviy they were to be deprived of the assistance of lawyers and the ministrations of the clergy, nor might they be buried in consecrated ground—which provision would seem to indicate that their execution was regarded as a matter of course. And these laws were to be in force over the whole Patrimony.
On 28 September 1207 they were promulgated at a sort of parliament, consisting of clerks and lay representatives of the cities of the Patrimony, which was held by the Popes command. Two further statutes respectively subordinated Civil to Canon Law so far as the clergy were concerned, and prescribed police regulations prohibiting family feuds, private wars, and vendette, —all very excellent from the theoretical point of view: but, in practice, the armed hand rather of a Feudal Lord than of a Shepherd of the People was required to enforce them. Still they did secure peace to the Patrimony until the death of the Lord Innocent.
With all these hideous examples of anarchy and Donnybrook Fair around it, very naturally Pope Innocent found considerable difficulty in dealing with the City itself. Immediately after His election, Rome swore allegiance to Him and howled for largesse: which was refused until the Pope had received the confirmation of His position by coronation a month later. In the meantime He made inquiries as to the usual amount given, and the minimum amount which could be given; and the donation of the latter sum enraged the Romans more than a total denial of their claim. Then riots began.
It is necessary clearly to understand the minds of the contending parties. The main principles which guided Innocent may be found in His sayings, “Among the People of God, spiritual authority precedes temporal”, and “God has placed in the firmament of the Universal Church two great dignities, the Papacy which reigns over souls, and Royalty which reigns over bodies: but the former is immensely superior to the latter”. The Romans recognized two officials, a senator exercising authority in the name of the People, and a prefect who nominally represented the emperor—preferring to pretend to obey the Roman Emperor who was generally absent, rather than to behave with common decency to their actual and ever-present overlord the Roman Pontiff. Even according to Innocent’s ideas there was nothing essentially anomalous in this position. Most Popes had been quite as well pleased to treat with the Roman commune (as a separate power with rights of peace and war) as with other papal cities constituted in this manner. The relation of pontiff to commune could quite well have been on a par with that of German prelates in relation to their city governments, or with that of the northern Free Cities which also had sovereign bishops. The one thing necessary to such a form of government is that the lay power should be competent to perform its secular functions; and this the Roman commune emphatically was not. Consequently, taking advantage of the temporary enthusiasm which accompanied His election, the Lord Innocent changed the constitution of the City. Henceforth both senator and prefect were to be pontifical nominees and to swear allegiance to the Pope only. There was nothing violent about this change, as Innocent retained the imperially nominated prefect Pietro Vico, taking from him an oath of allegiance which still survives in the Vatican Archives:—
“In the name of Christ, I, Peter, Prefect of the City, swear that I will faithfully care for the land which the Lord Pope has committed to my charge to the honor and perfecting of the Church. I will neither sell, let, subinfeudate, nor mortgage, nor in any manner alienate anything from it”.
Unfortunately the Pope was confronted with the problem of dealing both with a legacy of evil and with present discontent. The evil which men do lives after them; and Benedetto Carusomo, who had usurped the sole senatorship from 1191-1193, had appointed a governor over the Maremma and the Sabina in despite of the Church. This was the first bone of contention: Innocent recovered the districts in question, and thereby came into collision with Giovanni Pierleone and Giovanni Capocci, representatives of the Great Houses who led the democratic party in the City.
These malcontents took occasion to express a grievance against the Pope: alleging that, in recovering the Maremma and Sabina for the Apostolic See, He had robbed the people of Rome: their real reason being (in accordance with the practice of socialists of all ages) to render themselves sufficiently hostile to make it worth the Pope’s while to buy them. However, Innocent refused; and Pierleone and Capocci therefore took umbrage, ranged themselves among the antipapal faction, and watched their opportunity for a conspiracy.
Now it happened that the Viterbitans wished to possess themselves of Vitorchiano, a town near Montefiascone. But Vitorchiano said that it was subject to Rome, probably only meaning thereby that it was not subject to the Viterbitans. Now Rome was nominally at least a pontifical city. Viterbo was certainly a pontifical city, which (with the felicitous opportunism of pontifical cities of the period) had been very Ghibelline indeed when Barbarossa besieged Rome in 1167, showing its loyalty to the imperial principle by plundering much of Saint Peter’s and samsonizing the bronze gates of that edifice.
As a matter of fact there was hardly a penny to choose between the two. Rome itself was never averse from exacting money from the Popes; and had been known to chase living Popes from the City and to pelt the coffins of dead ones with mud, as indeed happened at the funeral of Alexander the Third.
The dilemma amounted to this: if the Pope awarded Vitorchiano to Viterbo, the Romans would be very angry: on the other hand, if He sustained the Roman claims to the disputed town, His charming Romans would become puffed with pride and quite unmanageable. Incidentally they would destroy the pontifical city of Viterbo as completely as they had destroyed Tusculum in 1191.
In the war between Rome and Viterbo which naturally followed, Innocent supported Rome just so far as to allow her to recover Vitorchiano and at the same time get very nearly smashed. And then He saved Viterbo, and enabled her to keep her independence. Rome was actually grateful for His help: Viterbo, for His favor. But the democrats accused Him of betraying the interests of the City.
Then the lords of Gabriano and Varni, having stolen some land from the Colmezzo family in the Campagna, refused to obey the pontifical courts: pretending to hold the stolen property from Pierleone and Capocci as representing the commune of Rome. They, of course, complained loudly that a fief of the people should be held in question in a pontifical court. Innocent retorted by sending the Marshal of the Church to desolate the private property of Gabriano and Varni: whereupon Pierleone and Capocci raised the populace (at no time a difficult task); and the Pope was forced to explain the facts of the case to the people. When, however, a government is reduced to having to explain its actions to its subjects, it is in a very poor way.
Next came the feud of the families of Orsini and Scotti: which, after smoldering for generations, broke out in the autumn of 1202, (Sept. 14 - Oct. 9). The Orsini, fat with the nepotism of Celestine the Third, took advantage of the Pope’s temporary absence at Velletri to ravage the Scotti, His mother’s family, in Rome. Innocent promptly returned to restore order; and Pandolfo of the Suburra, the Senator, imposed an oath of allegiance upon both parties and banished them beyond the walls: Scotti by Saint Peter’s and Orsini by Saint Paul’s, with all Trastevere between them. One of the leaders, Teobaldo Orsini, was waylaid in the Via Ostiense by the Scotti and murdered: whereat Orsini raised the plebs by parading Teobaldo’s corpse, utterly wracked and destroyed the houses of the Scotti, and captured two towers belonging to the Senator.
At this juncture the Pope’s main support was His brother Ricardo, whom He had made as rich and powerful as possible, not perhaps altogether without the idea of making friends of the mammon of unrighteousness. This Ricardo (the builder of the Conti tower which still exists under the title of Torre di Nerone near the Via Nazionale in modern Rome) had purchased the mortgages of the properties of the House of Poli; and had paid off the debts of Oddo Poli, the head of that family: in return for which he had had the daughter of Oddo betrothed to his son. Oddo, however, seeing his property out of the hands of the usurers, with the most inconsequent ingratitude tried to recover it; and actually had the impertinence to sue Ricardo de' Conti for having dispossessed him. This is an excellent example of the way in which the Romans found it safe to bait a Pope or members of the pontifical family: for there was always something to be gained by litigation of this kind, sometimes by force, sometimes by a stroke of luck and always as a concession to secure what one might call the silence of a yelping cur. Honesty and justice did not enter into the question at all.
The case of Poli vs. Conti, having to do with a fief, had to be tried in the pontifical courts. The Lord Innocent, with a most foolish generosity, actually offered to pay Oddo Poli’s expenses : but this did not suit the plaintiff’s book in the least; and Oddo and a body of his familiars acted the Adamite, stripping themselves naked and running about Rome in and out of the churches, calling all men to witness to what they had been reduced by the overweening pride of the Conti and the Pope’s nepotism. After this scandalous proceeding, the gymnosophists further had the audacity to pretend to hand over the fief (which was still sub iudice) to the commune of Rome, and then to claim protection as vassals of the City. This was almost certainly done at the instigation of the democratic leaders, Pierleone and Capocci.
The Pope protested; and ordered His brother to fortify the Poli castles, which he held, pending the judicial decision. The Romans seized the chance of engaging in their favorite pastime; and revolted. The Senator Pandolfo was besieged in the Capitol, the Conti tower was assaulted and partially burned, and Ricardo obliged to take to flight: while the remains of the tower were escheated to the commune, and the Conti and their adherents outlawed.
The Pope, being no longer safe in the City, retired to Ferentino in May, and later to Anagni where He became seriously ill. Meanwhile the disorders in the City ceased, and the Romans turned from a destructive to a constructive policy. The nominated senatorship was to be abolished, as being an engine of pontifical oppression, in favor of a senate of fifty-six members elected under the control of the democrats; and in this way a term was to be put to the despotism and nepotism of the Lateran.
The Pope and the commune entered into an agreement that the College of Cardinals (acting in the absence of His Paternity) was to nominate twelve electors, who (in their turn) were to choose the fifty-six senators: when however the elections came on at the end of 1203 the ochlocrats seized most of the electors; and, by imprisonment and threats, extorted the appointment of senators hostile to the Pope. But Pandolfo, who had held the Capitol all this time in despite of the various tumults, at length surrendered it to the senators chosen by the uncoerced minority of electors as being favorable to the Pope. The democrats protested and solemnly claimed that the Poli estates should be handed over to the commune pending the verdict of the court, which the turbulence of the City rendered impossible; and, when the pontifical party (from the security of the Capitol) declined, the democrats set up an antisenate in the monastery of Santa Rosa. A grave recrudescence of disorders ensued.
The Roman people thoroughly wearied of this state of things, and being by no means satisfied with the demagogues, implored the Lord Innocent to return as pacificator. This He did in March 1204 and made an oration to the people. The fifty-six senators having fallen out of favor were abolished by the Pope, Who very diplomatically took all the wind out of His opponents’sails by naming his mischief-making adversary, Giovanni Pierleone, as sole elector of a sole senator—thus riving the lute of the democrats. This man named his kinsman, Gregorio Pierleone, as Senator, an honest but otherwise colorless character, but well-thought-of as being a Roman of Rome.
Capocci and his section of the democrats, being now left very much out in the cold, would (and could) have no part or lot in these arrangements. They therefore declared, through the mouth of their tame but schismatic and abolished senate, that the Pope had violated a treaty of 1188 and was therefore deposed. Furthermore they tricked themselves out in fresh titles as “Buonhomini della Commune”, and as such were pleased to call themselves a government.
This was the beginning of the very thoroughgoing war which ensued. Towers were built and burned and rebuilt and again captured: all the Great Houses seized the opportunity of settling old scores and bringing blood feuds up to date. Every one (who could) built a tower, fortified a ruin, or dispossessed a neighbor of his castle; and proceeded to plunder and burn from this base. The Anibaldi, the Alexii, Gilido Carbonis, and the invaluable Pandolfo the ex-senator, helped the Conti and Scotti for the Pope against the democrats under Capocci, who was backed by the Frangipani, Rainerii, and Baroncelli. The fighting went on for days : but, as the pontifical treasury was well filled, the ultimate victory lay with the Lord Innocent. He proposed terms; and, though the arrangements hung fire for some time, they were at last accepted : when Innocent showed His scorn for the City and its pretensions by investing His brother with the disputed Poli fiefs. The terms accepted on 26 October 1204 were that four arbitrators appointed by both parties should decide upon a peace. And their decision was that electors nominated by the Pope were to choose fifty-six senators who should swear allegiance to His Paternity.
But of course this arrangement, being merely the counterpart of the previous one, could not work well: the new senate showed itself to be singularly incapable; breaches of the peace were unrestrained; and the people besought the Pope to end the matter, which He promptly did by a reversion to the sole senatorship of Pandolfo of the Suburra. This was practically the end of the strife between the Lord Innocent and His Romans: only once more did a crisis arise, in 1208; and then, by merely leaving the City, the Pope brought His pack of curs to heel, and returned a second time “by special request”.
Innocent the Third’s policy throughout was that of the wise ruler. As for the nobles, He distributed favor for His friends and force for His foes: He assisted the commercial classes by helping them to get their debts paid, avoiding anything in the shape of novae tabulae; and by awarding to them the revenues of benefices mortgaged by deceased but foreign prelates. His works on behalf of the poor were thoroughly in keeping with His position as Vicar of the Poor Man of Nazareth. He established an organized system of charity in the City, and His excellent arrangements for dealing with the famine of February 1202 were infinitely superior to the modern system of sporadic and amateur soup-kitchens. The Pontiff undoubtedly shouldered the burthen of the Caesars as far as “panem” was concerned. The populace was doubtless graciously pleased to accept the frequent riots and civic disturbances in lieu of “circenses”.
A dream inspired what was perhaps one of His greatest acts of charity: for it is only natural that a temperament like Innocent’s should be very strongly influenced by anything in the shape of an occult manifestation. He seemed to be bidden to fish in Tiber—the first cast of the net brought up eighty-seven murdered infants: and the second, three-hundred-and-forty. His attention being thus drawn to the most crying evil of the time, habitual infanticide as blatant as that of the dirty-knuckled Lakonians, He established 18 June 1204 what is in effect still the Foundling Hospital and Maternity Home of Rome in the Borgo, which was to be supported by alms collected for the purpose in Italy, England, Sicily, and Hungary. On 3 Jan 1208 He ordered the Veroneikon to be carried in great pomp to this hospital of Santa Maria in Saxia (as it was called then) and an annual distribution of food and money in connection with the institution.
Another of the Lord Innocent’s great foundations is the Order of The Holy Trinity and of Captives, commonly called the Trinitarians, first established by Jean de Matha and Felix de Valois, and following the Augustinian Rule and dress (differenced by a blue and red cross), with the special additional obligation of redeeming Christians from captivity among the Moors and Saracens even at the cost of life or personal freedom. Two other great orders, in fact the first and greatest of the Mendicant Friars (altogether apart from monastic institutions) came into being in this reign, the Order of Saint Francis or Friars Minor and the Order of Saint Dominic or Friars Preachers. Both Francis and Dominic received from the Lord Innocent encouragement for their novel ideas: although the bulls of formal ratification were not issued until the succeeding reign, that of the Dominicans being dated 22 Dec. 1216, and that of the Franciscans 28 Nov. 1223. It may perhaps be superfluous to mention that the Capuchin schism, at present calling itself the Capuchin Order of Saint Francis (O.S.F.C.), did not originate until the reign of Clement the Seventh, more than three hundred years later.
Innocent the Third was by no means a man who could only see faults in other people or their habits and manners of government. On the contrary He was fully aware that His Own Curia was wedded to a rather undesirable proclivity— peculation in fact,—that it was bureaucratically pompous and wholly given over to paperasseries papales. His chancery clerks were grasping, excessive alike in number and demeanor, and His court was cumbered with chamberlains and useless if ornamental curial hangers-on. With these He was as drastic as with dissenters. The lay household was dismissed, the Noble Guard disbanded, the luxury of the court diminished, vails were stopped, and a schedule of fees drawn up, so that every pilgrim or visitor or suitor knew what he had to pay, instead of having to trust to his power of bargaining with an avaricious horde of venal ecclesiastics. This of course was not pleasing to those whose opportunities for picking and pilfering were thus done away with, any more than it was to those petty officials, chamberlains, and antechamberers, (who lost the daily parade of their self-importance and “little brief authority”) when the Pope afforded greater facilities to ordinary people for seeing Him. The Roman court, however, was a living and a growing in posthume upon the body of the Church and a temporary cauterization had only a temporary effect. All the abuses grew up again, venality was just as pronounced, and all the old evils reappeared as soon as the master hand was gone, —as is but natural.
It will be seen that the Lord Innocent’s life as Pope was not built up solely of great deeds, affairs worthy of his mighty intellect, set in compartments like specimens in the show-cases of a museum, which can be dealt with in certain allotted rotation: but was rather a mosaic composed of many brilliantly colored achievements set in a dull cement of perpetual and grinding worry. The Pope never knew a moment’s peace. A difficulty could not be measured by its magnitude, but by its insistency. It is not easy, at the best of times, to conduct complicated diplomatic negotiations with differing parties of wildly clashing interests: but how much more must it have added to the toil of the task perpetually to be disturbed by unimportant but offensive trifles, repeated and studied insolence from vainglorious and purely flocculent nobodies secure in their own insignificance, and abrupt and sudden riots at His very door liable at any moment to drive the statesman headlong from His chancery and His papers.
A weak man would have wept himself into a coma with sheer impotent rage at the vastness and overwhelming onrush of the work of the post. He then would have done nothing, and relapsed into the position of a little provincial canon, wrapped up in his breviary and completely heedless alike of his obligations and opportunities. A merely strong man would have bravely attempted all, wrestled honestly, and gradually succumbed beneath the burthen of his office, happy if his collapse took the shape of death and not an insanity haunted by specters of the Sisyphean labors which had been his lot.
But the Lord Innocent was a very strong man, possessed of an extraordinary mind and such a capacity for working as is granted to few among the sons of men. He did all the work of His post: light-heartedly made more: did that; and reached out again to find still further scope for His enormous energies. Yet He only broke down once.
He was a very strong man in that He knew, and was not afraid to acknowledge, that He occasionally made mistakes. Even Apollo’s bow is not continually bent. He also was strong enough to drop a train of policy, if once (by reason of unheard-of or suddenly-arising obstacles) it ran off the track and its pursuit became unprofitable thereby. Thus He abandoned his Sardinian schemes. He was often ill served. Yet He always made a great effort: accepted the difficulty provided for him by the carelessness or headstrong rashness of another; and undauntedly dealt with the same to the best of his ability. Thus he, first of western statesmen, seriously grappled with the Eastern Question as we moderns understand the phrase. This he was compelled to do, because his darling crusade had run amok. Not only was it an immensely difficult task, but its very existence was a bitter disappointment. He had hoped to keep his cherished ideal of the Reunion of Christendom as a hobby, if one may use the word, for his rare spare moments. He had looked forward to matching his theology against that of Orthodox patriarchs, no mean antagonists. He had anticipated being able to persuade (by irrefutable arguments drawn from His store of Paris- and Bologna-won learning) the subtile-minded Greeks; and, by words, to restore the alliance of the Churches which had been wrecked upon words.
It was nearly always a sea of petty details which confronted him; and he was obliged to wade through these before he could get to work on anything that greatly mattered. Nevertheless, he knew that the details, by reason of their pettiness, must be attended to at once, lest (by neglect) they should blossom out into giant weeds and choke Church and State alike.
One must admire the greatness of his character: one cannot help but pity Him for the infinite weariness with which He was so heavily weighed down.
Finally, one is tempted to wonder whether he would have been hampered, or assisted, if He had had at His disposal modern methods of communication. It is by no means impossible that the Lord Innocent, armed with telephones and wireless telegraphy, would have staggered humanity into the very wildest hysterical phrenzy by the frequency of His blunt unmincing admonitions, and the passionate attention which He would have demanded to the never-ceasing torrent of instructions, exhortations, congratulations, directions, and damnations, surging in an immeasurable flood out of Lateran over Europe and the known world. But no doubt, under such conditions. He would have perished of “something of the nature of an aneurism” in the very first year of his pontificate.
CONCERNING OTHER ACTS OF INNOCENT THE THIRD
OTHER matters, beside these tedious great emprises of prime international importance, irritated the indefatigable Pontiff by their insignificance, or baffled Him by the distance of the locality in which they occurred from the central brain in Rome. The malice, or imbecility, of an excessive or mulish bishop could exacerbate the Roman Pontiff quite as much as a vindictive or ungrateful emperor’s. To the just mind and clean ideals of the Lord Innocent, the immorality of a parish priest in Norwich, or Radom, was as vexing as the adultery of the King of France: diplomacy could be quite as complicated in Castile or Sardinia as in divided Germany; and the King of Armenia as unamenable to discipline as a Doge. The Lord Innocent began His reign at the early age of thirty-seven, before He had quite realized the difficulties or become fully aware of the labors involved in His new position, with an energy of correspondence which was not equaled in any other year of His reign. He was full of enthusiasm and lust of extending Christianity, Catholic unity, and pontifical power. His letters reflect His aspirations. For extending Christianity, He hoped that a Crusade could be arranged; and, though His constant efforts only resulted at first in the conquest of Byzantion, He did not abandon convictions of final success. The condition of the Holy Land was His special care. He wrote again and again to the princes of the crusading states and the grand masters in the East, urging them to lay aside their differences and unite against the infidel. King Levon of Armenia was excommunicated for robbing the Templars, 17 May 1211, and was not absolved until 25 Mar. 1213. The perpetual misconduct of the Princes of Antioch and the Counts of Tripoli annoyed the Pope as much as the feebleness of the Kings of Jerusalem grieved Him. At one time, 7 Jun. 1211, the Lord Innocent had to appeal to the Sultan of Haleb (one of Salah-ed-din’s sons) to protect the Patriarch of Antioch from Prince Bohemond IV, the lawful sovereign of that city. The complete indifference of Europe at large, toward a Syrian Crusade, prevented the Pope from achieving anything in that quarter of Christendom, beyond the reconciliation of the Armenian Church.
Yet in spite of the poverty of His harvest, the Lord Innocent’s labors were arduous. One finds Him there, as elsewhere, commending and reproving, excommunicating and pardoning, making people do their duty, stopping quarrels among Christians, and settling disputes among the champions of the faith.
For example:—the Patriarch of Jerusalem, having been rebuked for inefficiency, evil-speaking and general misbehavior, is told to make haste to effect a settlement about the disputed see of Tyre with his brother of Antioch and later is charged to cooperate with the Grand Masters of the Temple and the Hospital in the proper distribution of alms sent to the Holy Land. Over this duty he quarreled so passionately with the autocratic Templar, Gilbert Horal, that he spouted excommunications over the entire order. This action he was made to eat; and, soon after, the Pope found it necessary to warn him off the property of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. This prelate seems, in spite of the influence of constant admonition, to have died in his violence. His successor, Albert II was, however, more reasonable in his behavior, for in 1208 we find him considered worthy of being legate, and even meriting reappointment to that office: which is indeed a contrast with the opinions entertained officially about the dead Monaco. He, almost alone among contemporary Patriarchs of Jerusalem, had so far grown in grace that it was safe to nominate him as arbitrator between the old enemies of his see (the Templars) and the piratically-inclined King of Armenia.
Nor were the Blessednesses of the Patriarchs Monaco and Albert II the only recipients of letters from the Pope in Syria. The Templars had to be reminded of their financial obligations toward the Church twice in the earlier part of the reign; and the Hospitallers were reproved for thievish and fractious tendencies. Count Bohemond of Tripoli showed a propensity to favor the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; and had to be threatened in consequence: while the Latin incumbent of that see had first to be censured and suspended for excess of zeal, and, later, he must needs be forgiven and reinstated. Yet, so feeble was a successor, that both Count Bohemond and the Canons of Antioch required urging before they would have anything to do with him. All these people were more or less in the fighting line; and attention would naturally be attracted to them on their distant outpost duty. Still the Pope was not on that account blind to the course of affairs in the often obscure middle distance: for we find Him scolding the clergy of Candia for detaining Crusaders in their city and so preventing valuable succors from proceeding to the front.
Innocent the Third seemed doomed to perpetual disappointment in Palestine. In the midst of His efforts to strengthen the vanishing kingdom of Jerusalem by persuading fresh parties of Crusaders to journey thither to fill the places of those who had succumbed to the Saracens, climate, or disease, King Amaury II de Lusignan himself died (1205). His death plunged the Christian East into confusion; and severed the connection between insular Cyprus and continental Acre (which last alone represented the territorial dominions of the kingdom of Jerusalem) to the immense disadvantage of the latter. King Hugh I, son of Amaury’s first marriage, succeeded to the island throne, while a stepdaughter—Marie Yolande (daughter of Queen Isabella by her second husband Konrad of Montferrat)—obtained the continental kingdom: but, as both successors were minors, the condition of both states was reduced to as low an ebb as was consistent with self-preservation. In the selection of Jean de Brienne as a husband for Marie Yolande, and King-Consort of Jerusalem, the Pope and Christendom were greatly disappointed: as this prince did nothing to justify the opinions formed in consequence of his previous worthy reputation.
The Lord Innocent’s crusading efforts in the West, on the contrary, were crowned with complete success. He found the various kings of the Iberian peninsula in a condition in which they were as likely to ally themselves with the Moors as against them: two of these sovereigns were in serious disgrace with the Church. A consistent policy—[whereby the Spanish kingdoms were taught:—(1) To obey the Holy See:— (2) To unite against the infidel on the one hand and the heretic on the other:—(3) To acknowledge the primacy of Castile, at least in matters ecclesiastical, and so by logical stages to regard that kingdom as temporal hegemon of the peninsula as well]—brought its own reward to its untiring author, in the knowledge that He had been the instrument whereby the safety of Christianity was assured, on one side (at least) of Europe, in the glorious victory of Navas de Tolosa. It was most certainly due to the Lord Innocent, and to Him alone, that on that 16 July 1212 the King of Castile commanded a Christian army whose wings served respectively under the Kings of Aragon and Navarre, an army composed of the flower of Spanish chivalry as well as the full strength of the Spanish Orders arrayed under their Grand Masters under the eye of militant bishops and shoulder to shoulder with the levies of the cities. Never had Spanish Christendom been so united: never did the Crescent experience such drastic treatment from the arms of the Cross. Ennacer the Moorish sovereign left a hundred thousand of his people dead upon the field. The disaster of Alarcos was avenged and the future of the Iberian Peninsula definitely acquired for Europe.
The Pope’s negotiations for securing Christian Unity were more variegated in their results. Letters addressed to the Basileus Alexios III of Byzantion, (1198-1199) persuaded him from an armed attack on Cyprus, but failed to teach him that the true relation of the Orthodox to the Latin Church was that of a daughter to her mother. A fictitious union of the Churches, such as was afterwards brought about by the Fourth Crusade, fulfilled neither the desire of the Lord Innocent nor His design.
Cardinal Gregory’s mission in 1207 to Russia was a failure, owing to the hatred for the Latin Church inspired by the sack of Byzantion; and the Russian Church refused to share in a Catholicity which took its tone from Rome.
The Pope was able to come to more satisfactory terms with the Serbians in 1198, and the Bulgarians in 1202. In return for the pontifical confirmation of their titles, the princes of these countries, together with their vassals, agreed to consider themselves members of the Roman Obedience.
The Armenian Church also made its submission in 1199; and who knows what the persevering diplomacy of the greatest canonist and statesman who sat on Peter’s throne for a thousand years, might have achieved with the Byzantines, if only He and they had been unembarrassed by the Fourth Crusade?
The whole Church was reformed and extended at the hands of Innocent the Third. He recast the Canon of the Mass. Missionaries to the Pagan Prussians were encouraged; and the support of the Duke of Pomerania was secured on their behalf, 8 Aug. 1202. In a letter to the Grandmaster of the Knights of the Sword, Jan. 1212, that Order was commended for its endeavors to introduce Christianity among the Lithuanians and Livonians; and, if the sword were used as a preliminary to the baptismal shell, it must be remembered that the only efficacious argument understood in that age was that of force, and that the heathens used lethal weapons to resist conversion. The manners and morals of the clergy in Poland left very much to be desired, and, though His information as to the names (and in some cases the actual dioceses) of the offenders was extremely vague, the Lord Innocent wrote voluminously to the bishops of that country urging immediate reformation. His information however was at least ample enough to enable Him to confirm grants of lands made to the Order of the Holy Sepulcher in that country. We have already noticed His display of energy in purging the French Church from its spiritual heresy and temporal rebellion, evils at which the Lord Innocent had been unable to wink in the manner of His predecessors. But, beside this, He had also to arrange the dispute with King Philip the August, who had been quarrelling with the brother bishops of Orleans and Auxerre (Manasses and Guillaume de Seignelay), over their refusal to serve in the feudal levy excepting when the king led it in person.
The ingrained habits of the time seemed to make it natural for princes to oppose the Church, whenever they had the opportunity. King John of England did so, (first) from avarice (second) from revenge for punishment inflicted on him for his misbehavior. King Dom Sancho I of Portugal had to be rebuked for the same reason in 1210 and 1211, having indulged in wholesale confiscation and plunder of Church property. The Swabian King Philip of Germany, and the Germans in Sicily came under the pontifical flail on account of the same offences: while, in the Empire of Romania, every prince, from the highest to the lowest, sought to grow rich at the expense of the Church. The Lord Innocent had to write countless letters, to employ legates, and to put in motion the whole machinery of diplomacy and apostolic power, in order to save His charge from being stripped of Her revenues, robbed of Her fabrics, and deprived of the services of Her officials : for, however horribly the more enlightened Twentieth Century may feel called upon to sneer at the ethics of the early Thirteenth, it would be hardly safe to deny that Innocent the Third had enormous responsibilities, was fully conscious of them, and fulfilled them in (for Him) a singularly efficient manner.
He had a great deal of trouble with the matrimonial affairs of the kings of Europe, troubles from questions of divorce or of marriage within prohibited degrees, troubles in arranging suitable (or preventing undesirable) alliances, troubles about proposals of marriage which constantly came at awkward moments imperiling the success of carefully laid trains of policy.
It is curious and not uninstructive to note how very much more lax the Nineteenth Century was in matters matrimonial than the early Thirteenth. In Pope Innocent’s time, the Church severely vetoed (as incestuous) the marriage of first cousins once removed. In the Nineteenth Century such unions were of almost everyday occurrence, particularly among the aboriginal Roman Catholics of England; and, in the same century there were no less than four royal marriages of uncles and nieces in a single family—in the case of King Don Fernando VII of Spain and his brothers Don Carlos and Don Francisco: these being in their turn further complicated by the marriage of the children from these unions of Don Fernando VII and Don Francisco.
King Philip the August had repudiated his newly-wed Queen, Ingebiorg of Denmark; and it was difficult for the Pope to threaten him with interdict on account of this conduct at one moment, and to rely upon him for assistance in the Crusade at the next. King Don Alfonso IX of Leon on the other hand, with but little less pertinacity than King Philip, insisted on marrying his cousin Berengère of Castile. The Pope found it His duty to unite the French pair, and to separate the Spaniards, conceding however reluctant legitimation to the offspring of the latter union. At another time. He had to warn the Duke of Brabant that his daughter Marie’s marriage with King Otto would not be permitted, and to labor to secure the union of that monarch with Beatrix, the daughter of his rival. Again, it was necessary to marry the King of Sicily to a girl, Doña Costanza de Aragon, who could bring a dowry of men-at-arms to save the bridegroom’s kingdom from disruption. The newly recognized King of Bohemia wished to be rid of his wife, who was no longer the daughter of the elect-emperor. Even the King of Aragon, crowned by the Pope Himself, and much trusted, had to be denied when he applied for leave to get rid of his wife.
If the Lord Innocent were stern in commanding and insisting that the Church’s laws should be respected. He was at least diplomatic in His treatment of princes who obeyed Him. While He was as austere as any moralist might wish in rebuking sin and resisting sinful unions or disunions. He was more lenient and more just than are modern law makers, in that He did not visit the sins of guilty parents on their innocent children. He invariably legitimated the offspring of these disputed unions, and declared them capable of succession: e.g. the children of Agnes of Meran and of Berengère of Castile.
The first action which the Pope took in the matter of Queen Ingebiorg, was in His epistle of 17 May 1198. King Philip the August had repudiated her on the morrow of her marriage; and had remarried Agnes of Meran. Innocent compelled the king to separate himself from Agnes, by means of an Interdict, Sept. 1198, though Philip flatly refused to live with his true wife. Agnes’s children were legitimated on Nov. 1201. There had been a short-lived reconciliation with Queen Ingebiorg in the summer of 1200: but the king had been so disgusted that he clapped her in prison; and not till 1212 did he restore her conjugal rights. During this time, Innocent issued ten epistles to Philip, solely on the subject of his ill-used Queen, and referred to the matter in several others addressed both to him and to the French bishops. At the same time His Paternity very frequently wrote to console the injured consort: but it is impossible to say whether the tardy justice, which at length accrued, was due to pontifical admonition or to the king's own inclinations.
While at one time Innocent the Third had to watch over the interests of a wronged Ingebiorg, an orphaned Frederick, or a persecuted clergy, at other times He had to protect a weakened kingdom, to reduce an arrogant monarch to subjection, while simultaneously keeping His house in order in Rome. Yet, amid turmoil, pressure of work, and conflicting interests of person, family, politics, and the clergy, which were always claiming the pontiff’s attention, Innocent was able to spare time, nevertheless, for interference on behalf of the outcasts of Asia and the trampled worms of Europe, the Jews. Out of all law, excepting the King’s will, the Jews were permitted to grow rich by that usury which they alone (according to the Church’s teaching) might practice, in order that (when the time was ripe) they might be squeezed financially (and sometimes physically) for the royal benefit. Notwithstanding the horribly blasphemous secret rites to which they seem to have been addicted at that period, Innocent tried to prevent Christian resentment from degenerating into indiscriminate or habitual carnage. He saved the Jews from torment in Paris, from imprisonment and dangerous favor in Castile, and He prohibited the favorite popular pastime of compulsory baptism for Jews. On 15 Sept. 1199, he wrote:—
“Let no Christian by violence compel them [the Jews] to come dissentient or unwilling to baptism. Further let no Christian venture maliciously to harm their persons without a judgment of the Civil Power, or carry off their property, or change the good customs which they have had hitherto in that district which they inhabit”.
In dealing with Norway, the Lord Innocent’s chief task was to terminate the civil disorders consequent upon the disputed succession to the throne. Three usurpers—Ion Kurling, Sigurdr, and Ingi,—had fought for the Crown from 1185 to 1202, when, owing to the action of the Archbishop of Trondheim the apostolic ablegate, three legitimate sovereigns (Haakon IV, Guthorm, and Ingi II) reigned in succession. The Pope had also to keep an eye on Sweden, where the Church was less privileged than elsewhere. Among a people still so largely pagan as the Swedes, it was a matter of considerable importance to secure the clergy from being haled before lay courts. An Epistle on the subject was sent to King Sverker II, 12 Jan. 1206.
In Denmark, the Pope had to interfere in the case of the ambitious bastard, Bishop Valdimar, who aspired to the Crown.
In Hungary, when the royal power was at a very low ebb, the Lord Innocent had to interfere for the double purpose of protecting King Imre from his brother Endre, and the Bishop of Waipen from the King. In the same year (1203) He had also to protect the brother from the King, and the King from the results of the quarrel for precedence between the wealthy and powerful archbishops of Gran and Kolocz. The Pope was able, however, to induce Imre to take the Cross; and was obliged to upbraid the Venetians most bitterly when they attacked Zara, which was in the dominions (so the King asserted) of a crusading prince. It was the King of Hungary, moreover, who was opposed at first to the Lord Innocent’s Bulgarian policy. He, however, having no strong foundation of power at home on which to stand, gradually gave way; and the Pope had the pleasure of bestowing—and the Tsar Kaloyan of receiving—a royal crown and scepter, together with the kingly title over Bulgaria, the right to strike money, and a primacy for the Archbishop of Tyrnovo, who was to crown him. The new Primate had to swear: To be faithful and obedient to St. Peter, the Holy Roman Church, the Lord Innocent, and all His Catholic successors, to undertake nothing detrimental to Their life or liberty, to advise no man to Their hurt, to maintain the honor, dignity, and rights of the Apostolic See, to attend councils when summoned, to exact the same oath from all bishops, and to make all the kings of Bulgaria swear before coronation that they, their people, and their kingdom would be devoted to the Holy See. This was the result of the union of Bulgaria with the Roman Church; and the Pope could congratulate Himself on a genuine triumph on the banks of the Danube. The Bulgarians indeed, with the hankering of the savage for the gorgeous, and suffering apparently from the same megalomania which prompted decadent Byzantion to compensate each successive loss of power by a fresh inflation of titles—(Sebastos, Protosebastos, Sebastokrator, Panhypersebastos)—took the proverbial ell instead of the proffered inch. Having obtained an insight into the value of hierarchical dignities from the unwillingness of the Pope to grant them too high an ecclesiastical precedence, they bourgeoned out into all the glory of a Tsardom with its concomitant of a Patriarchate instead of being content with mere Kingship and Primacy accorded to them by the Lateran, This piece of impertinence would appear to have passed unnoticed for some time as, seemingly, there was no person in the Lateran sufficiently versed in the barbarisms of the Bulgarian language to know what that people were saying about the difference in the value of titles when pronounced in that tongue.
It is a far cry from the Danube to the Shannon, yet the Pope in His eagle-eyed purview of even the limits of Christendom found time to rebuke the petty King of Connaught for violating the rights of sanctuary during some of the perennial disturbances in the West. This chieftain, by strict obedience to the papal will, was considered to have deserved so well of the Lateran that he was honored with an individual invitation to attend the Ecumenical Council.
Even before His election to the Supreme Pontificate, the Lord Innocent had advocated an Ecumenical Council; and, at last, in 1215, He was able to open the session of the Fourth of Lateran, before which He deigned to discuss many of His troubles. The invitations were issued in rather a curious way, and some remarkably phantastic persons were summoned, e.g. the kings of Lumbricia, Corkaia, and Mindiensia. This epoch-marking assemblage was very numerously attended, by the Patriarch Rudolf of Jerusalem, two rival soi-disant Patriarchs of Constantinople, the Maronite Patriarch, Jonas of Antioch (an ex-heresiarch), seventy-one archbishops, (among whom was Rodrigo of Toledo, the Mezzofanti of the Council), four hundred and twelve bishops, nine hundred abbots, priors, archpriests and other clerks, all the Grandmasters (either in person or by proxy), ambassadors from an emperor, an ex-emperor, and an elect-emperor, envoys from the Kings of England, France, Aragon, Hungary, and Cyprus, and so many other persons that the unhappy Archbishop of Amalfi perished from suffocation in the crowd, and one authority states that three other bishops met with similar disaster. Seventy-two additions to Canon Law were the work of this Council. The new Canon of the Mass (as revised largely by the Pope Himself) was adopted: several heresies and their inventors were condemned; and it was made a crime, entailing the minor excommunication latae sententiae, to preach without episcopal license. The Council also dealt with a vast number of subjects, such as the Faith, the Divine Office, the Constitution of the Church, Morals, Position of Clerks in judicial matters, the rights of Jews, and the corporeal appearance and the precise status of Angels. It also delivered judgment upon Count Raymond of Toulouse, deciding therein that the Comtat Venaissin was to become an appanage of the Church. It also reported in favor of the newly devised Mendicant Orders of Preaching Friars, the Grey and the Black — now known as the Religions of Saint Francis and of Saint Dominic. The Acts or Canons of the Council were translated into Greek, according to precedent.
The Lord Innocent had looked forward to this Council as being the culminating point of His life; and, in His choice of a text for the sermon which He preached before the first session. He indicated a prevision of His approaching end.
CONCERNING THE CHARACTER OF INNOCENT THE THIRD
PERHAPS the main characteristic of Innocent the Third was His lifelong fervence for the Faith, and single-hearted ardor for God-service. He was just—in an age of oppression and perjury. He was patient, and more prompt to see good in Man than evil. He could, and did, most manfully persist in any scheme of policy, when he considered it duteous so to do. Honorable and strict in his engagements. He was in no way a timid politician, but rather a brilliant diplomatist. If He made a mistake at all in statecraft, it was the mistake of believing other people to be as capable as Himself, and this led Him to trust overmuch to the senses and the judgments of the inferior persons whom (for want of better) He was compelled to use as His legates. His parts were such, that He would have been distinguished in almost any career, and, as Supreme Pontiff, it cannot be said that He missed any of the more salient opportunities which were afforded for showing of what character His metal was. Though he was not invariably obeyed He certainly was respected by His Romans: while, from recalcitrant foreigners, He actually did exact a very satisfactory measure of submission. He presented a mitre and an emerald ring to every bishop who visited the Threshold of the Apostles. He never showed any hesitation in pardoning His enemies (who, by-the-bye, were always the enemies of the Church as well). He was fast in His friendships: though friendship was never allowed to blunt the biting edge of pontifical admonition for the good of the soul of a friend.
Brother Salimbene di Adamo says of the Lord Innocent:—“The Church flourished and throve in His days, holding the lordship over the Roman Empire and over all the kings and princes of the whole world. Yet this Pope sowed the seeds of the cursed dissensions between Church and Empire, with His chosen Emperors Otto the Fourth and Frederick the Second, whom He exalted and entitled son of the Church: but herein he may be excused that He meant well. And note that the Pope was a bold man and stout of heart. For once he measured on his Own person the Seamless Coat of the Lord: and He thought how the Lord must have been of small stature : yet, when he had put on the Coat, it seemed too great for him: so he feared and venerated the relic as was seemly. Moreover, he would sometimes keep a book before him when he preached to the people; and, when His chaplains asked him why he did this, being so wise and learned a man, He would answer and say, “I do it for your sakes, to give you an example: for ye are ignorant and yet ashamed to learn”. Moreover he was a man although, as the poet saith, “He mingled his business at times with mirth. He corrected and reformed the Church services, adding matter of His own and taking away some that others had composed: yet even now it is not well ordered, as many would have it and as real truth requires”."
Regarding Innocent’s personal appearance, the picture in the Sacro Speco at Subiaco shows Him with ears outstanding from an oval face, the eyes close together and slightly oblique in regard, the long thin nose of the dominator, over the minute mouth of the ascetic depressed at the corners, the large strong chin and the wrinkled brow of the statesman.
Innocent the Third was a good strong man, a brilliant statesman, and a great Pope; and, in the main, successful in the results of His pontificate. No one knows why He is not known in history by Albert von Beham’s appellation, INNOCENTIUS MAGNUS : for He is one of the few Pontiffs (or men either, for that matter) who have sufficient force of character, coupled with perseverance and acumen, to be great even were they taken out of their century, and set down in some other period of History. Those who love watching a contest between great men, will regret that history never can tell how the Lord Innocent would have dealt with King Henry VIII Tudor, the Kaiser Charles V, the Emperor Napoleon I, or with the various forces (including the Company of Jesus) which were concerned during the last century in the making of Italia Unica e Libera.
It would not be sane for His panegyrist to deny that Innocent the Third was proud. The fact is categorically recorded. He was a haughty pontiff in the first intention of the term—not in or for Himself, but in virtue of His office. From His desire to magnify the power and glorify the prestige of the Apostolic See, He used the title of Vicar of Christ, and applied the name Crusade (which hitherto had borne a definite and local meaning) to military expeditions undertaken at His command for the benefit of the Church.
Possessed of an immense fund of tireless energy, the Lord Innocent could not fail to be an active man: yet the subjoined itinerary of the entire pontificate will show how often He denied Himself a summer villegiatura, and mewed Himself up in Rome, when He found that the press of public work demanded this sacrifice.
His method of action was curiously two-sided. At one moment, He would be controlling the destinies of Europe: at the next, composing glosses on the penitential psalms, criticizing the authenticity of ancient manuscripts, or inditing hymns to the Blessed Virgin. His facility as a letter-writer was quite extraordinary. It was his habit to keep His correspondents (as it were) in compartments, never letting one matter overlap or interfere with another. Thus, King Philip the August at one time was in peril of bringing interdict upon his kingdom for two several causes. The Lord Innocent could rebuke and praise almost in the same breath, certainly in the same letter; and few men have achieved more in the gentle arts of making friends and enemies by writing letters. His knowledge of the scriptures was quite exhaustive, as may be seen in His sermons: which, for ingenious and fecund stringing-together of texts, suggest the fine old-fashioned style of evangelicals of the mid-Victorian era.
A modern missionary bishop of the Midlands has had apparently nowhere else to go for his motto, but to the pagan Flaccus. The Holiness of the Lord Innocent was satisfied with Holy Writ. “Fac mecum, Domine, signum in bonum”: was the portion which He chose; and while really trying to order His life and policy to this end, He tempered His actions rather with “Qui Me iudicat Dominus est” and “Ultra hominem”, than with glucose reiteration of “Servus servorum Dei” though it cannot be denied that He worked very hard even in this last capacity.
He died on xvi Jul. 1216, almost His last act being to make arrangements for a Fifth Crusade. So passed out of this life the Most Holy Lord Innocent the Third, in the fifty-sixth year of His age, and the nineteenth of His reign as God’s Vicegerent upon earth. And He bore Arms, of His Tusculan House of Conti di Segni, gules, an argent-headed eagle displayed chequy sable and or, orientally crowned of the last.
SERMON OF INNOCENT THE THIRD, PREACHED AT HIS OWN CONSECRATION
“He is a faithful and prudent servant whom the Lord hath set over His house, so that it may be fed with food convenient”
THE Eternal Word points out to us the qualities of him who is set over the house, and in what way he should care for her. He will be faithful and prudent so that he may feed her with food convenient at ordered times—faithful, that he may present it—prudent, that it may be done at the proper time. The Word also notifies Him who has instituted,—The Lord: and him who has been instituted,—the servant. What servant has been instituted?—a faithful and prudent one:—over what has he been set?—over the house :—why has he been instituted?—so that he may nourish it:—when?— at the appointed time.
Let us examine each of these sayings, for they are the words of The Eternal Word. That is why each word has its value, each bears a profound meaning.
Everyone cannot be the master, but only He upon Whose Vestment and Loins are writ, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”, He of whom it is said, “His Name is Lord”. He has, by the self-same plenitude of His Power, constituted the pr-eminence of the Holy See, in order that none may be so bold as to resist His established Mandate, even as He Himself has said, “Thou art Peter; and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. For, as He has laid the foundation of the Church, and is Himself its Foundation Stone, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. But this foundation is immovable, even as says the Apostle: none can lay other Foundation than that which is laid, and which is Jesus Christ. Let then Peter’s boat, in which sleeps the Lord, be beaten by furious waves; and she will never perish: for Jesus rules the sea and the tempest, peace will be restored, and men (astonished) cry “Who is This, Whom even the sea and the winds obey?”. The Church is that grand and solid edifice of whom the Eternal Word has said, “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock”; namely on that rock of which the apostle said, “Jesus Christ is the Rock”. It is manifest that the Holy See, far from being enfeebled by adversity, consoles itself by the Divine Promise, saying in the words of the prophet, “Through affliction hast Thou led me into a far country”. It abandons itself with confidence to the promise which The Lord made to His apostles—“I am with you always, even to the end of the world”.
Yes, God is with us. Who then can be against us? As this institution comes not from man, but from God, — even more, from the God-Man, — the heretic and the dissenter, the malevolent wolf, seek in vain to ravage the vineyard, to rend the robe, to overthrow the candlestick, to extinguish the light: for thus hath Gamaliel said, “If this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found to fight against God”.
“In The Lord is my trust, I will not fear what man can do unto me”. I am that servant whom God hath set in charge of His house, may He grant me fidelity and prudence, so that I may feed her at the desired time.
Yes, a servant, and the servant of servants. May it please God that I am not one of those of whom Scripture says, “Whosoever committeth sin, the same is the servant of sin”,—not one of those to whom it is said, “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt”, and in another place, “that servant that knew his lord’s will, and did not do it, shall be beaten with many stripes”. But may I be one of them of whom The Lord says, “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded, say: We are unprofitable servants”. I am a servant, and not a master. As The Lord said to His apostles, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so. He that is greatest among you let him be as the servant of all; and he that is chief, let him be your minister”. That is why I desire to serve and do not assume dominion: thus following the example of my most illustrious predecessor who has said, “Not as those who desire to reign over the clergy, but as models for the flock, through the Spirit”.
What an honor! I am put in charge of the house. But, what a heavy burden! I am the servant of servants, the debtor of wise men, and of fools. If there are those who can scarcely serve one properly, how can a single one serve all? Besides these things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Churches”.
What anxiety, and what sorrow, what uneasiness, and what hindrances, have I not to bear! Have I not undertaken more than I can carry out? Yet I will not exaggerate my undertaking, in order that I may not find myself wanting in the elevation at which I began. One day will reveal to another the trouble that I endure, one night will announce to another my cares. My firmness is not that of a rock, my flesh is not brass. But if I am feeble and full of defects, God who gives generously to all and without delay, will give me strength. That is why, since man is not master of the path he follows, I trust that He who supported Peter on the waves of the sea so that he might not sink, that He Who makes smooth what is uneven, and softens that which is rough, will direct my steps. I have made known to you the circumstances, now hear the duties.
I am a servant: I must be prudent and faithful, so that I may present to servants food at the time required. God requires three things of me: a faithful heart, prudence in action, the Food of The Word: for, with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Abraham believed God; and “it was counted unto him for righteousness”.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. If I myself have no faith how can I strengthen others in faith? And that is one of the chief points of my function: for did not The Lord say to Saint Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not”, and “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”. He prayed, and was hearkened to,—hearkened to in all points, owing to His obedience. The faith of the Holy See has never failed in trouble: but it remains firm and invincible, so that the privilege of Saint Peter remains inviolable. Yet, precisely for this reason, I have need of faith: because, though for all other faults I can be freed before the tribunal of God,—for faults against the Faith I may be judged by the Church.
I have faith, perpetual faith : because the Church is apostolic; and I am well convinced that my faith will save me, according to the promise of Him Who has said, “Thy faith hath saved thee : go, sin no more”. Faith without works, is dead : if faith lives, it works through charity. “The just shall live by faith”. It is not those who hear The Word, but they who are doers of The Word who are victorious before God. “For if any be a hearer of The Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass”. But neither faith without prudence, nor prudence without faith, avail, aught.
I must be faithful and prudent. It is written, “Be ye wise as serpents”. Oh, how I stand in need of prudence, so that I may grasp at the observance of my duties, so that my left hand may not know the doing of my right, so that I may separate the clean from the unclean, good from evil, light from darkness, salvation from perdition, so that I may not call bad that which is good and good that which is bad, so that I may not declare that darkness which is light, and that light which is darkness, so that I may not condemn to death those souls which should live, and that I judge not those worthy to live who deserve death. It is then with good reason that the square and double breastplate was counted among the principal ornaments of the high-priest. The judgment of the Pope (of whom the type lay in the dignity and the name of the high-priest) ought to distinguish four things;—the true from the false, the good from the evil : the one, so that he may not err in faith : the other, so that he may not deceive himself in action. He ought to distinguish two motives, for himself, and for the people : so that if the blind should lead the blind, both should not fall into the ditch. The breastplate was square, on account of the fourfold meaning which ought to manifest itself to the Pope through Scripture, the historic meaning, the allegorical meaning, the figurative meaning, and the mystic meaning. The breastplate was double because of the two testaments which the Pope cannot ignore, because the letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alive : foursquare, because of the New Testament, which is contained in the four Gospels : double, because of the Old Testament which is engraved upon two tables.
How great should be the prudence which must be responsible for the wisdom of all, which has to decide in all complicated cases, remove all secret doubts, negotiate all business, decree all decrees, explain Scripture, preach to the people, punish disturbers, strengthen the weak, refute heretics, and defend Catholic Christians! Who is capable of all this? May such an one receive our praises! It is on that account The Lord has said earnestly, “Who then is that wise and faithful servant? I will make him ruler over my household”.
I am put in charge of the house! Pray God that my merit may correspond with my eminence, and that it will turn to the honor of The Mighty Lord: for, when He carries out His Will by means of a feeble servant, all is attributed not to human power, but to Divine Force. Who am I, and what is the house of my father, that I should be put in charge of kings, and occupy the seat of honor? For it is I who am spoken of by the prophet, “I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant”. It is I of whom it is written, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven”, and to me also—(that which the Lord said to all the disciples in common), “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained”. But speaking to Peter only, He said, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. Thus it is that Peter can loose others, but he himself can be loosed by none. “Thou art called Kephas”, saith He, which signifies Head. In the head is found the centre of man's senses, they are divided in every other member. All the rest are called to take their share in the welfare of the body: but Peter alone has been raised to the plenitude of power.
You recognize now who is the servant put in charge of the house. It is none other than the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the successor of Peter. He is the intermediary between God and man : beneath God, above man : less than God, more than man : he judges all, and is judged by none, as the apostle says, “God is my judge”, but he who is elevated to the highest consideration is lowered in his function of serving : so that humility should be raised and greatness humiliated, and he who is exalted shall be obeyed. All the valleys shall be raised, and the mountains and hills be brought low. And it is said yet again, “They have called thee prince,—be not proud, but as one among them”. It is “the candle on a candlestick, which giveth light to all that are in the house”. When the light groweth dim, how deep becomes the darkness! It is “the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is therefore good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men”. That is why much is required from him to whom much is given. He has to give account to God, not only for himself, but for those under his care. For the Lord makes no distinction among His servants. He does not say in the plural “the servants”, but in the singular “the servant”, because there should be but “one flock, and one shepherd”. “My Well Beloved”, He says, “is one, she whom they have chosen is one”. The garment of The Lord was without seam and shall remain seamless. All were admitted into one Ark. They were saved from the waters by a single Pilot: but those who remained outside the Ark were drowned in the Flood.
He is put in charge of the house, so that he presents her with food at the time required. Our Lord Jesus Christ established the primacy of Peter before, during, and after, His Passion. Before His Passion,—in saying, “Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock will I build My Church”, and, “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven”. During His Passion,—in saying, “Simon, Satan hath desired to have thee that he may sift thee as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not . . . when thou art converted strengthen thy brethren”. After His Passion—when commanding him for the third time, “Feed My sheep”.
The first time He pointed out the greatness of the dignity: the second, the need of firmness in faith: the third, the functions of a pastor. Under all these bearings my text from Scripture evidently applies to Saint Peter:—firmness in the faith when He says,— “Be faithful and prudent” :—elevation to dignity when He says, “He hath set thee over the house”:—the care of the sheep, when He says that he shall feed them.
He ought to feed them: to wit, by The Word, and the Sacrament. It is as though The Lord should say—“Feed them by the example of life, by the word of doctrine, by the sacrament of the altar”—by the example of action, by the word of preaching, by the sacrament of communion. The Eternal Truth says the first point, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me”: it is said on the second in Holy Writ, “He nourishes him with the bread of life and understanding, and gives him the water of healing wisdom to drink” : and, in the third place. The Lord says, “For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed”.
I will give the house the food of example : in order that my light shall shine before men, so that they shall see my good works, and worship my Father which is in heaven. For neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house : wherefore The Lord says elsewhere, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning”; and “let him that heareth say Come”.
When the anointed priest sins, he causes the people to sin : for every spiritual fault is rebuked more severely, and that in proportion to the elevation of him who commits it. I ought also to give the food of the Word : so that I should increase the talent which has been given me, by putting it out to usury. For, according to the apostle, God has not sent to baptize but to preach, so that the dogs may eat of the crumbs that fall from their master's table : for “man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. So that the text, “the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them”, shall not find its application in me, but rather by me. I ought to give the servants the food of the Blessed Sacrament, so that by It they should receive life and not see death, as saith The Lord, “I am that Bread of Life which cometh down from Heaven : if any man eat of this Bread he shall live for ever”; and, “the Bread which I will give is My Flesh, which I will give for the Light of the World. Except ye eat The Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you”.
I ought to give you this triple food,—at a time convenient. According to Solomon, there is time for all things. I ought to give you the food of example, followed by that of The Word : in order that you may worthily receive the food of the Sacrament. For Jesus Christ has acted and taught, “leaving us an example that we should follow His Steps : Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His Mouth”.
He who does and teaches this, shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven. For if I teach without acting, it may reasonably be said, “Physician, heal thyself”, and, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye”. Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?— that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? For unto the ungodly said God, “Why dost thou preach My laws, and take My covenant in thy mouth”. He is justly despised whose life is a stumbling-block. The apostle says, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some”. I will rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep, so that my pastoral conduct shall correspond with its aim. I will speak wisdom among them that are perfect, but in the midst of you all, I will know nothing but Jesus Crucified. Being babes in Christ Jesus, I will feed you with milk and not with meat, for strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age. “But let a man examine himself, and, so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body”.
It is thus, dear brothers and sons, that I present you with the food and the Divine Word from the table of Holy Writ. I expect from you to do your part. I hope that you will lift up hands, cleansed from disunion and enmity, to The Lord,—that you will invoke Him with the prayer of faith, so that He may grant me grace worthily to fulfill the functions of an apostolic servant,—functions laid upon my feeble shoulders,— for the honor of His Name,—for the salvation of my soul,—for the prosperity of the Universal Church,—for the welfare of Christianity.
May Our Lord Jesus Christ, God of all, be praised, world without end.