VIEWS DURING THE THIRD PERIOD (750-1517 A.D.)
THE SUPREMACY OF THE POPE, THE DECLINE OF THE PAPACY AND THE AVIGNON EXILE. (A.D. 1294-1377)
The next year, 1325, Lewis suffered a severe defeat from Leopold of Austria, who had entered into a compact to put Charles IV of France on the German throne. He went sol far as to express his readiness, in the compact of Ulm, 1326, to surrender the German crown to Frederick, provided he himself was confirmed in his right to Italy and the imperial dignity. At this juncture Leopold died.
By papal appointment Robert of Naples was vicar of Rome. But Lewis had no idea of surrendering his claims to Italy and, now that he was once again free by Leopold’s death, he marched across the Alps and was crowned, January 1327, emperor in front of St. Peter’s Sciarra Colonna, as the representative of the people, placed the crown on his head, and two bishops administered unction. Villani expresses indignation at an imperial coronation conducted without the pope’s consent as a thing unheard of. Lewis was the first mediaeval emperor crowned by the people. A formal trial was instituted, and “James of Cahors, who calls himself John XXII” was denounced as anti-Christ and deposed from the papal throne and his effigy carried through the streets and burnt. John of Corbara, belonging to the Spiritual wing of the Franciscans, was elected to the throne just declared vacant, and took the name of Nicolas V. He was the first anti-pope since the days of Barbarossa. Lewis himself placed the crown upon the pontiff’s head, and the bishop of Venice performed the ceremony of unction. Nicolas surrounded himself with a college of seven cardinals, and. was accused of having forthwith renounced the principles of poverty and abstemiousness in dress and at the table which the day before he had advocated.
To these acts of violence John replied by pronouncing Lewis a heretic and appointing a crusade against him, with the promise of indulgence to all taking part in it. Fickle Rome’ soon grew weary of her lay-crowned emperor, who had been so unwise as to impose an extraordinary tribute of 10,000 florins each upon the people, the clergy, and the Jews, of the city. He retired to the North, Nicolas following him with his retinue of cardinals. At Pisa, the emperor being present, the anti-pope excommunicated John and summoned a general council to Milan. John was again burnt in effigy? at the cathedral, and condemned to death for heresy. In 1330 Lewis withdrew from Italy altogether, while Nicolas, with a cord around his neck, submitted to John. He died in Avignon three years later. In 1334, John issued a bull which, according to Karl Muller, was the rudest act of violence done up to that time to the German emperor by a pope. This fulmination separated Italy from the crown and kingdom—imperium et regnum—of Germany and forbade their being reunited in one body. The reason given for this drastic measure was the territorial separation of the two provinces. Thus was accomplished by a distinct announcement what the diplomacy of Innocent III was the first to make a part of the papal policy, and which figured so prominently in the struggle between Gregory IX and Frederick II.
With his constituency completely lost in Italy, and with only a uncertain support in Germany, Lewis now made overtures for peace. But the pope was not ready for anything less than a full renunciation of the imperial power. John died in 1334, but the struggle continued through the pontificate of his successor, Benedict XII. Philip VI of France set himself against Benedict’s measures for reconciliation with Lewis, and in 1337 the emperor made an alliance with England against France. Princes of Germany, making the rights of the empire their own adopted the famous constitution of Rense,—a locality near Mainz, which was confirmed at the Diet of Frankfurt, 1338. It repudiated the pope’s extravagant temporal claims, and declared that the election of an emperor by the electors was final, and did not require papal approval. This was the first representative German assembly to assert the independence of the empire.
The interdict was hanging over the German assembly when Benedict died, 1342. The battle had gone against Lewis, and his supporters were well-nigh all gone from him. A submission even more humiliating than that of Henry IV was the only thing left. He sought the favor of Clement VI, but in vain. In a bull of April 12, 1343, Clement enumerated the emperor’s many crimes, and anew ordered him to renounce the imperial dignity. Lewis wrote, yielding submission, but the authenticity of the document was questioned at Avignon, probably with the set purpose of increasing the emperor’s humiliation. Harder conditions were laid down. They were rejected by the diet at Frankfurt, 1344. But Germany was weary, and listened without revulsion to a final bull against Lewis, 1346, and a summons to the electors to proceed to a new election. The electors, John of Bohemia among them, chose Charles IV, John’s son. The Bohemian king was the blind warrior who met his death on the battlefield of Crecy the same year. Before his election, Charles had visited Avignon, and promised full submission to the pope’s demands. His continued complacency during his reign justified the pope’s choice. The struggle ended with Lewis’ death a year later, 1347, while he was engaged near Munich in a bear hunt. It was the last conflict of the empire and papacy along the old lines laid down by those ecclesiastical warriors, Hildebrand and Innocent III and Gregory IX.
To return to John XXII, he became a prominent figure in the controversy within the Franciscan order over the tenure of property, a controversy which had been going on from the earliest period between the two parties, the Spirituals, or Observants, and the Conventuals. The last testament of St. Francis, pleading for the practice of absolute poverty, and suppressed in the bull of Nicolas III, 1279, which granted the Franciscans the right to use property as tenants, while forbidding them to hold it in fee simple. With this decision the strict party, the Spirituals, were not satisfied, and the struggle went on. Coelestine V attempted to bring peace by merging the Spiritual wing with the order of Hermits he had founded, but the measure was without success.
Under Boniface VIII matters went hard with the Spirituals. This pope deposed the general, Raymond Gaufredi, putting in his place John of Murro, who belonged to the laser wing. Peter John Olivi (died 1298), whose writings were widely circulated, had declared himself in favor of Nicolas’ bull, with the interpretation that the use of property and goods was to be the “use of necessity,”—usus pauper—as opposed to the more liberal use advocated by the Conventuals and called usus moderatus. Olivi’s personal fortunes were typical of the fortunes of the Spiritual branch. After his death, the attack made against his memory was, if possible, more determined, and culminated in the charges preferred at Vienne. Murro adopted violent measures, burning Olivi’s writings, and casting his sympathizers into prison. Other prominent Spirituals fled. Angelo Clareno found refuge for a time in Greece, returning to Rome, 1305, under the protection of the new Colonna.
The case was formally taken up by Clement V, who called a commission to Avignon to devise measures to heal the division, and gave the Spirituals temporary relief from persecution. The proceedings were protracted till the meeting of the council in Vienne, when the Conventuals brought up the case in the form of an arraignment of Olivi, who had come to be regarded almost as a saint. Among the charges were that he pronounced the usus pauperto be of the essence of the Minorite rule, that Christ was still living at the time the lance was thrust into his side, and that the rational soul has not the farm of a body. Olivi’s memory was defended by Ubertino da Casale, and the council passed no sentence upon his person.
In the bull Exivi de paradiso, issued 1313, and famous in the history of the Franciscan order, Clement seemed to take the side of the Spirituals. It forbade the order or any of its members to accept bequests, possess vineyards, sell products from their gardens, build fine churches, or go to law. It permitted only “the use of necessity,” usas arctus or pauper, and nothing beyond. The Minorites were to wear no shoes, ride only in cases of necessity, fast from November 1 until Christmas, as well as every Friday, and possess a single mantle with a hood and one without a hood. Clement ordered the new general, Alexander of Alessandra, to turn over to Olivi’s followers the convents of Narbonne, Carcassonne and Beziers, but also ordered the Inquisition to punish the Spirituals who refused submission.
In spite of the papal decrees, the controversy was still being carried on within the order with great heat, when John XXII came to the throne. In the decretal Quorumdam exegit, and in the bull Sancta romana et universalis ecclesia, Dec. 30, 1317, John took a positive position against the Spirituals. A few weeks later, he condemned a formal list of their errors and abolished all the convents under Spiritual management. From this time on dates the application of the name Fraticelli to the Spirituals. They refused to submit, and took the position that even a pope had no right to modify the Rule of St. Francis. Michael of Cesena, the general of the order, defended them. Sixty-four of their number were summoned to Avignon. Twenty-five refused to yield, and passed into the hands of the Inquisition. Four were burnt as martyrs at Marseilles, May 6, 1318. Others fled to Sicily.
The chief interest of the controversy was now shifted to the strictly theological question whether Christ and his Apostles observed complete poverty. This dispute threatened to rend the wing of the Conventuals itself. Michael of Cesena, Ockam, and others, too, held the position that Christ and His Apostles not only held no property as individuals, but held none in common. John, opposing this view, gave as arguments the gifts of the Magi, that Christ possessed clothes and bought food, the purse of Judas, and Paul’s labor for a living. In the bull Cum inter nonnullos, 1323, and other bulls, John declared it heresy to hold that Christ and the Apostles held no possessions. Those who resisted this interpretation were pronounced, 1324, rebels and heretics. John went farther, and gave back to the order the right of possessing goods in fee simple, a right which Innocent IV had denied, and he declared that in things which disappear in the using, such as eatables, no distinction can be made between their use and their possession. In 1326 John pronounced Olivi’s commentary on the Apocalypse heretical. The three Spiritual leaders, Cesena, Ockam, and Bonagratia were seized and held in prison until 1328, when they escaped and Fred to Lewis the Bavarian at Pisa. It was at this time that Ockam was said to have used to the emperor the famous words, “Do thou defend me with the sword and I will defend thee with the pen”—tu me defendes gladio, ego te defendam calamo. They were deposed from their offices and included in the ban fulminated against the anti-pope, Peter of Corbara. Later, Cesena submitted to the pope, as Ockam is also said to have done shortly before his death. Cesena died at Munich, 1342. He committed the seal of the order to Ockam. On his death-bed he is said to have cried out: “My God, what have I done? I have appealed against him who is the highest on the earth. But look, O Father, at the spirit of truth that is in me which has not erred through the lust of the flesh but from great zeal for the seraphic order and out of love for poverty.” Bonagratia also died in Munich.