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CE N T female societies, who lived together in fixed habis

i, tations, under a common rule of pious discipline br and virtuous industry, gave rise to a persecution

of these people, which lasted till the reformation
by Luther, and ruined the cause both of the
Beguines and Beggards in many places. For
though the pope, in his last constitution, had per-
mitted pious women to live as nuns in a state of
celibacy, with or without taking the vow, and
refused a toleration only to such of them as were
corrupted with the opinions of the Brethren of the
free spirit; yet the yast number of enemies which
the Beguines and Beggards had, partly among the
mechanics, especially the weavers, and partly
among the priests and monks, took a handle from
the Clementina to molest the Beguines in their
houses, to seize and destroy their goods, to offer
them many other insults, and to involve the Beg-
gards in the like persecution. The Roman pontif,
JOHN XXII. afforded the Beguines some relief
under these oppressions, in the year 1324, by
means of a special constitution, in which he gave
a favourable explication of the Clementina, and
ordered that the goods, chattles, habitations, and
societies of the innocent Beguines should be pre-
served from every kind of violence and insult;
which example of clemency and moderation was
afterwards followed by other popes. On the
other hand, the Beguines, in hopes of disappoint-
ing more effectually the malicious attempts of
their enemies, and avoiding their snares, embra-
ced in many places the third rule of St FRANCIS,
and of the AUGUSTINES. Yet all these measures
in their favour could not prevent the loss both of
their reputation and substance; for from this
time they were oppressed in several provinces by
the magistrates, the clergy, and the monks,
syho had cast a greedy eye upon their trea-


sures, and were extremely eager to divide the C EN T. spoil [b].


1. PART II. VII. Some years before the middle of this

The sect of century, while Germany and many other parts of Europe were distressed with various calamities, lants apthe Flagellants, a sect forgotten almost every pears again. where, and especially in Germany, made their appearance anew, and, rambling through many provinces, occasioned great disturbances. These new Flagellants, whose enthusiasm infected every rank, sex, and age, were much worse than the old ones. They not only supposed that God might be prevailed upon to shew mercy to those who underwent voluntary punishments, but propagated other tenets highly injurious to religion. They held, among other things, “ That flagella“ tion was of equal virtue with baptism, and the “ other sacraments : that the forgiveness of all “ sins was to be obtained by it from God, with“ out the merits of JESUS CHRIST ; that the old “ law of CHRIST was soon to be abolished, and “ that a new law, enjoining the baptism of blood, “ to be administered by whipping, was to be 6 substituted in its place,” with other tenets more or less enormous than these; whereupon CLEMENT VII, thundered out anathemas against the Flagellants, who were burnt by the inquisitors in several places. It was, however, found as


[b] I have collected a great number of particulars relating to this long persecution of the Beguiles. But the most copious of all the writers who have published any thing upon this subject (especially if we consider his account of his persecution at Basil, and MULBERGIUS, the most inveterate enemy of the Beguines ), is CHRISTIANUS WURSTISEN, or URSTISIUS, in his Chronicum Basiliense, written in German, lib. iv. cap. ix. p. 201. published in folio at Basil, 1580. There are now in my hands, and also in many libraries, MSS. tracts of this celebrated MULBERGIUS, written against the Beguines in the following century.

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CEN T. difficult to extirpate them, as it had been to

XIV. Pasi u. suppress the other sects of wandering fana

tics [2]. The sect of viu

VIII. Directly the reverse of this melancholy

i reol, the Dan.

sect was the merry one of the Dancers, which, in the year 1373, arose at Aix-la-Chapelle, from whence it spread through the district of Liege, Hainault, and other parts of Flanders. It was customary among the fanatics for persons of both sexes, publicly as well as in private, to fall a dancing all of a sudden, and, holding each others hands, to continue their motions with extraordinary violence, till, being almost suffocated, they fell down breathless together; and they affirmed, that, during these intervals of vehement agitation, they were favoured with wonderful visions. Like the Flagellants, they wandered about from place to place, had recourse to begging for their subsistence, treated with the utmost contempt both the priesthood and the public rites and worship of the church, and held secret assemblies. Such was the nature, and such the circumstances of this new frenzy, which the ignorant clergy of this age looked upon as the work of evil demons, who possessed, as they thought, this dancing tribe. Accordingly the priests of Liege endeavoured to cast out the devils, which rendered these fanatics so merry, by singing hymns and applying fumigations of incense : and they gravely tell us, that the evil spirit was entirely vanquished by these powerful charms [k].


[i] See Baluzii Vit. Pontif. Avenion. tom. i. p. 160. 316. 319. & Miscellan. tom. i. 50. MATTHÆI Analecta vet. avi, tom. i. p. 50. tom. ij. p. 241. tom. iv. p. 145. HERM. Gygis Flores tempor. p. 139.

[k] See BALUZII Pontif. Avenion. tom. i. p. 485. Ant. MATTHÆI Analecta vet. ævi, tom. i. p. 51. where we find the following passage in the Belgic chronicle, which gives but an obscure account of the sect in question : A. 1374. Gingen DE



IX. The most heinous and abominable tribe CENT. of heretics that infected this century (if the enormities, with which they stand charged be true), were the Knights Templars, who had been esta

Knights blished in Palestine about two hundred years be-Templars fore this period, and who are represented as ene-extirpated. mies and deriders of all religion. Their principal accuser indeed was a person whose testimony ought not to be admitted without caution. This accuser was PHILIP the Fair, who addressed his complaints of the Templars to CLEMENT V. who was himself an avaricious, vindictive, and turbulent prince. The pope, though at first unwilling to proceed against them, was under a necessity of complying with the king's desire ; so that, in the year 1307, upon an appointed day, and for some time afterwards, all the knights, who were dispersed throughout Europe, and not in the least apprehensive of any impending evil, were seized and imprisoned. Such of them as refused to confess the enormities of which they were accused, were put to death; and those who by tortures and promises, were induced to acknowledge the truth of what was laid to their charge, obtained their liberty. In the year 1311, the whole order was extinguished by the council of Vienne. A part of the rich revenues they possessed was bestowed upon other orders, especially on the knights of St JOHN, now of Malta, and the rest confiscated to the respective treasuries of the sovereign princes in whose dominions their possessions lay. X. The Knights Templars, if their judges be The intole.

rable im. worthy of credit, were a set of men who insulted piety of a the majesty of God, turned into derision the go- Knights

Templars spel is assigned

as the cause DANSENS, and then in Latin, Gens, impacata cadit, cruciara sal.

die urine uf this sevevat. The French convulsionists (rr prophets), who in our age*** were remarkable for the vehemence and variety of their agitations, greatly resembled these bresbren and sister dancers.

A refi tion con

CE N T.spel of Christ, and trampled upon the obligation

XIV. Paru. of all laws human and divine. For it is affirmed, s o that candidates, upon their admission to this or

der, were commanded to spit, as a mark of conos tempt, upon an image of CHRIST; and that, cerning the after admission, they were bound to worship eicrimes laid ther a cat, or wooden head covered with gold. to their charge. It is father affirmed, that among them, the odi

ous and unnatural act of Sodomy was a matter of obligation; that they committed to the flames the unhappy fruit of their lawless amours; and added to these, other crimes too horrible to be mentioned, or even imagined. It will indeed be readily allowed that in this order, as in all the other religious societies of this age, there were shocking examples of impiety and wickedness; but that the whole order of the Templars was thus enormously corrupt, is so far from being proved, that the contrary may be concluded even from the acts and records, yet extant, of the tribunals before which they were tried and examined. If to this we add, that many of the accusations advanced against them flatly contradict each other, and that many members of this unfortunate order solemnly avowed their innocence, while lanquishing under the severest tortures, and even with their dying breath; it would seem probable, that king PHILIP set on foot this bloody tragedy, with a view to gratify his avarice, and glut his resentment against the Templars [l], and especially


[1] See the Acts annexed to PUTEAN's Histoire de la Condemnation des Templiers, and other writings of his, relating to the history of France, published in 4to at Paris, 1654. Another edition of this book was printed in 8vo at Paris, 168 j. another at Brussels, 1713, two volumes in 8vo. The fourth, and most valuable of all, was published in 4to at Brussels, 1751, enlarged by the addition of a great number of proofs, by which every diligent and impartial reader will be convinced that the Templars were greatly injured. See also NICOLAI GURTLERI


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