Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

PARTNI

ontificate, who annut reign o

. O E N T tors of all the monastic tribe [k]. Soon after, XIII., this, CELESTIN, finding himself unfit for the du.

ties of his high and important office, resigned the pontificate, in which he was succeeded by BONIFACE VIII, who annulled every act that had been passed during the short reign of his predecessor, and suppressed, among other institutions, the nev order, which had assumed the title of the Celestin Hermits of St Francis [1]. This disgrace was, as, it were, the signal which drew upon them the most furious attacks of their enemies. The worldly-minded Franciscans persecuted them with the most unrelenting bitterness, accused them of various crimes, and even cast upon them the odious reproach of Manicheism. Hence many of these unhappy fanatics retired into Achaia, from whence they passed into a small island, where they imagined themselves secure from the rage of their adversaries, and at liberty to indulge themselves in all the austerities of that miserable life, which they looked upon as the perfection of holiness here below. But no retreat · was sufficient to screen them from the vigilance

and fury of their cruel persecutors, who left no means unemployed to perpetuate their miseries. In the mean time, that branch of the Spiritual, Franciscans that remained in Italy, continued to . observe the rigorous laws of their primitive institution in spite of BONIFACE VIII. who used his utmost efforts to conquer their obstinacy. They erected societies of their order first in the kingdom of Naples, afterwards in the Milanese, and in the marquisate of Ancona; and, at length, spreading themselves through the greatest part of Europe, they continued in the most violent state of war · with the church of Rome, until the face of things

was

[ocr errors]

ARTII.

was changed by the Reformation. In these con-CE N T.

XIII. flicts they underwent trials and sufferings of every p. kind, and multitudes of them perished in the flames, as miserable victims to the infernal fury of the Inquisition [m].

XXXIX. [m] The writers that serve generally as guides in this part of the history of the church, and whom I have been obliged to consult upon the divisions of the Franciscans, whose history, as will soon appear, is peculiarly interesting and important, are far from meriting the encomiums that are due to perspicuity and exactness. This part of the Ecclesiastical History of, what is called, the Middle Age, has not hitherto been accurately illustrated by any writer, though it be, every way, worthy of the labours of the learned, and of the attention of Christians. · Its principal merit consists herein, that it exhibits striking examples of piety and learning struggling against the power of superstition and ignorance, and against that spiritual tyranny of which they were the principal supports. Nay, these very rebellious Franciscans, though fanatical and superstitious in several respects, deserve, nevertheless, an eminent rank among those who prepared the way for the Reformation in Europe, and who excited in the minds of the people, a just aversion to the church of Rome, RAYNALDUS, Bzovius, SPONDANUS, in their Annals, EyMERICUS, in his Directorium Inquisitorum, and NATALIS ALEXANDER, in his Ecclesiastical History, relate the revolutions that happened in the Franciscan order, and in the church in general during this period : but their accounts are neither so accurate, nor so ample, as the importance of the events deserved. And as it is from these authors that the protestant historians have drawn their materials, we need not be surprised at the defects with which these latter abound. WADDING, who merits the highest encomiums as a laborious and learned writer, is yet an uncertain guide, when he treats of the matters now under consideration. His attachment to one party, and his fear of the others, lay him under restraints, that prevent his declaring the truth with a noble freedom. He shades his picture with dextes rity. He conceals, dissembles, excuses, acknowledges, and denies, with such a timorous prudence and caution, that the truth could not but suffer considerably under his pen. He appears to have been attached to the rigid Franciscans, and yet had not the courage to declare openly, that they had been injured by the pontifs. He saw on the other hand, the tumults and perplexities in which these rigid Franciscans had involved the church of Rome, and the strokes they had levelled, with no small success, at the majesty of the pontifs : but he has taken all imaginable pains to throw such a shade upon this part of their conduct, as

conceale

CENT. XXXIX. Towards the conclusion of this cen

į, tury arose in Italy the enthusiastic 'sect of the PART II.

Fratricelli and Bizochi, which, in Germany and The Fratri- France, received the denomination of Beguards. Beguards. They were condemned by BONIFACE VIII. [n],

and by several of his successors; and the inquisi-
tors were charged by these despotic pontifs to
persecute them until they were entirely extirpat-
ed, which commission they executed with their
usual barbarity. The Fratricelli, or Little Brethren,
were Franciscan monks, who separated themselves
from the grand community of St FRANCIS, with
a design to observe the laws of their parent and
founder in a more strict and rigorous manner than
they were observed by the other Franciscans ;
and who, accordingly, renounced every kind
of possession and property both common and
personal, and begged froin door to door their

daily

conceals its violence from the view of his readers. Such then being the characters of the writers who have handed down to us the history of the church in this important period, I could follow none of them as a sure or constant guide in all the events they relate, the judgments they form, or the characters they describe. I have not, however, been destitute of a clue to conduct me through the various windings of this intricate labyrinth. The testimonies of ancient authors, with several manuscripts that have never yet been published, such as the Diplomas of the Pontifs and Emperors, the Acts of the Inquisition, and other records of that kind, are the authentic sources from whence I have drawn my accounts of many things that have been very imperfectly represented by other historians.

[n] See TRITHEMIUS, Annal. Hirsaug. tom. ii. p. 74. tho' this author is defective in several respects, and more especially in his accounts of the origin and sentiments of the Fratricelli. It is also to be observed, that he confouuds, through the whole of his history, the sects and orders of this century one with ano. ther, in the most ignorant and unskilful manner. See rather Du BOULAY, Histor. Acad. Paris. tom. iii. p. 541. where the edict published in the year 1297, by BONIFACE VIII. against the Bizochi, or Beguards, is inserted ; as also JORDANI Chronicon, in MURATORII Antiqq. Italiæ, tom. iv. p. 1020..

[ocr errors]

daily subsistence [0]. They alleged that neitherC E N T. Christ nor his apostles had any possessions, either personal, or in common; and that they were the prend models, whom St FRANCIS commanded his followers to imitate. After the example also of their austere founder, they went about clothed with sordid garments, or rather with loathsome rags, declaimed against the corruption of the church of Rome, and the vices of the pontifs and bishops, foretold the reformation of the church and the restoration of the true gospel of CHRIST by the genuine followers of St Francis, and declared their assent to almost all the doctrines, which were published under the name of the abbot JOACHIM. They esteemed and respected CELESTIN V. because, as has been already observed, he was, in some measure, the founder of their society, by permitting them to erect themselves into a separate order. But they refused to acknowledge, as true and lawful heads of the church, his successor BONIFACE and the other

pontifs

[0] The Frairicelli resemble the Spiritual in many of their maxims and observances: they, however, are a distinct body, and differ from them in various respects. The Spirituol for instance, continued to hold communion with the rest of the Franciscans, from whom they differed in points of considerable moment, nor did they ever pretend to erect themselves into a particular and distinct order; the Fratricelli, on the contrary, renounced all communion with the Franciscans, and, withdrawing their obedience from the superiors of that society, chose for themselves a new chief, under whom they formed a new and separate order. The Spiritual did not absolutely oppose their order's possessing certain goods jointly and in common, provid. ed they renounced all property in these goods, and confined their pretensions to the mere use of then ; whereas the Prairicelli rejected every kind of possession, whether personal or in common, and embraced that absolute poverty and want which St FRANCIS had prescribed in his Rule and in his last Testameni. We omit the mention of other less important differences that might be alleged here.

CENT. pontifs after him, who opposed the Fratricelli:

y and persecuted their order [p]. PART II.“

XL.

XIII.

[p] The accounts of the Fratricelli, that are given by ancient and modern writers, even by those that pretend to the greatest exactness, are extremely confused and uncertain. TriTHEMIUS, in his Annal. Hirsaug. tom. ii. p. 74. affirms, that they derived their origin from TANCHELINUS, and thus ignorantly contounds them with the Catharises and other sects that arose in those times. The Franciscans leave no means unemployed to clear themselves from all relation to this society, and to demonstrate that such a pestilential and impious sect, as that of the Fratricelli, did not derive their origin from the order of St Francis. I consequence of this they deny that the Fratricelli prosessed the Franciscan rule; and maintain, on the contrary, that the society which was distinguished by this title . was a heap of rabble, composed of persons of all kinds and all religions, whom HERMAN PONGILUP, towards the conclusion of this century, gathered together at Ferrara in Italy, and erected into a distinct order. Sce Luc. WADDING. Annal. Minor. tom. vi. p. 279. This author employs all his eloquence to defend his order from the infamous reproach of having given rise to that of the Fratricelli; but his efforts are vain, for he acknowledges, nay, even proves by unquestionable authorities, that this hated sect professed and observed, in the most rigorous manner, the rule of St Francis; and nevertheless, he denies that they were Franciscans ; by which he means, and indeed can only mean that they were not such Franciscans as those who lived in subjection to the general of the order, and adopted the interpretation which the pontifs had given of the rule of their founder. All WADDING's boasted demonstration, therefore, comes to no more than this, that the Fratricelli were Franciscans who separated themselves from the grand order of St Francis, and rejected the authority of the general of that order, and the laws and interpretations, together with the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontifs; and this no mortal ever took it into his head to deny. HERMANNUS, or, as he is called by many, ARMANNUS PONGILUP, whom WADDING and others consider as the Parent of the Fratricelli, lived in this century at Ferrara, in the highest reputation on account of his extraordinary piety; and when he died, in the year 1269, was interred with the greatest magnificence and pomp in the principal church of that city. His memory was, for a long time, honoured with a degree of veneration equal to that which is paid to the most illustrious saints, and it was supposed that the Supreme Being bore testimony to his eminent sanctity by various miracles. But as

PONGILUR

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »