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THE TITLE selected for this book pretty exactly, I trust, expresses its character and defines its limits. I do not profess to write the history of the Roman Church; I do not profess to write a minute and detailed history of the popes: but I do profess to tell with some fullness and comprehensiveness the story of the popedom, to follow it from its origin to the present time through all its changes, revolutions, triumphs and disasters, to linger over its most striking personages and its most important passages, to set it forth in its twofold character as a spiritual and a secular power, and to consider its relations to other powers, its place in history, and its part in the great drama of human affairs.
While striving after strict accuracy in the statement of facts and perfect fairness in the estimate of character, I lay no claim to the impartiality of religious indifference. While in no wise blind, I trust, to intellectual greatness or moral worth in a pope, I look upon the popedom as the supreme corruption of Christianity. Disbelievers in the divine origin and the divine authority of the Christian religion may regard the papacy with feelings of mingled complacency and dislike, as an institution serviceable and beneficent in ages past though worn out and pernicious now. But every earnest believer in Christianity as the full and final revelation of God, must look upon the popedom either as the perfection or as the nethermost
degradation thereof. It was more at home in those dark. ages of which it was the creature; it may have done less harm then, it may have put forth some social restraint and held brute force in some check. But it was as much a spiritual corruption in the eleventh as in the sixteenth or the nineteenth century. Circumstances have rendered it more or less formidable, more or less pernicious; but it has remained throughout the supreme corruption of Christianity; and as such I deal with it throughout this volume.
The Italian events of 1859 and 1860 concentrated around the popedom those historical studies which form the chief employment and delight of my life. A disquisition on the Italian aspects of the papal history gradually expanded into the present volume, which, commenced at the beginning of 1860, was finished at the end of 1862. Subsequent events have required the addition of a few sentences to two or three of the chapters. I have as much as possible gone to the original and contemporaneous, especially the Roman Catholic sources of information; and I have to thank the authorities of the Bodleian Library for the months of delightful research which I enjoyed there.
The present somewhat heedless and relaxed mood of English Protestantism, as well as the deadly peril of Italian Popery, has stirred me to the production of this volume. I put it forth with the earnest hope and prayer that Italy may be rid ere long of that papacy which has wrought her such shame and evil, and that England may ever cleave to that Protestantism which has ministered so mightily to her greatness and glory, to her freedom and felicity.
The Christian Church and the Roman Empire.-The Kingdom not of this World and
the Kingdom of this World.-Their Appearance about the same Time.-Their Natural
and Original Antagonism, their Conflict, their Reconciliation and Gradual Assimila-
tion.-Degradation and Manifold Corruption of Christianity.-Gradual Transforma-
tion of the Bishop of Rome into a Prince and Pontiff, assisted by the Fall of the
Western Empire, the Absence of the Eastern Emperors and the brief Predomi-
nance of successive Barbarian Conquerors.—Personal Insignificance of the early
Roman Bishops.-St. Peter's Presence at Rome a great Improbability, and his
Primacy a pure Fiction, in exact harmony with the forgery of Constantine's Dona-
tion. Fictitious Origin both of the Spiritual and Temporal Popedom.-Historical
Falsehood the proper and legitimate Offspring of Spiritual Falsehood.-The early
Series of obscure Roman Bishops broken by Leo the Great and Gregory the Great.
—Noble Character, personal Greatness, and pervading Energy and Influence of the
latter. His Obsequiousness and the Subserviency of his Successors to the Emperor
Phocas rewarded by the first distinct Political Aggrandisement of the Roman See.
-Evil Character of its first Imperial Benefactor.--The Growth of the Papacy
furthered by the Rise of Mohammedanism and the exceeding Darkness of the Time,
a Darkness broken only by the Light from Iona and the bright but brief Career of
the Scotch Evangelists.-The Conversion of Nations more and more a Papal Busi-
ness.-Germany converted by Boniface, a direct Papal Agent and Emissary.—
The Spiritual Supremacy of Rome first propagated by him as an essential Portion
of Christianity. The Spiritual Aggrandisement of the Popedom contemporaneous
with its Political Aggrandisement.-Revolt of the Papal Champions of Image Wor-
ship against the Imperial Iconoclasts of Constantinople.-The Lapse into Idolatry
concurrent with the Secularisation of the Church.-The Popes almost Princes and
The Franks, their Prominence, Conquests and Connection with the Papacy.-Exchange
Middle of the Eleventh Century.-The Misery, Disorder and Evil of the Time.
faithfully reflected at Rome.-Pope Joan a potent Parable if not a Real Personage.
-The Papal Chair given away by horrible Women to horrible Men-Theodora and
Marozia. Obtuseness of the Age to these Papal Enormities and inadequate Attempts
to mitigate them.-The Beginning of most of the present States and Nations of
Europe.-Prominence of Germany and her Saxon Kings.-Otho the Great becomes;
Holy Roman Emperor and Master of the Popedom, which he attempts to Reform
without much Success.-Deep Darkness of the Time brightened for a Moment by the
Expectation of Christ's Coming at the End of the Tenth Century.-Continual
Wickedness of the Popes.-Appearance of another Imperial Master and Reformer
of the Papacy in Cæsar Henry III. in 1046.-The Reformer welcome but the
Master odious to a growing Party in the Church, eager for the Personal Purification
of the Papacy as the Means of its Spiritual and Political Aggrandisement.-Growth
of this Party under the Guidance of Hildebrand. His vast Schemes and all-pervading
Energy. His Designs for the Exaltation of the Popedom furthered by the Death
of Henry III., the Condemnation of Clerical Matrimony and the Alliance of the
Normans. His Co-operation in their Conquest of England and his Accession to the
Papal Throne in 1073.-Steady Growth of the Papacy, even through this Period of
Shame and Degradation, now to be succeeded by a Period of Worldly Glory and
The Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Church the Two Great Powers of the
Middle Ages. Their singular Relation to each other. Their Close Connection,
mutual Dependence, jarring Claims, bitter Enmity and prolonged Conflict.-Pecu-
liarities of that Conflict.-Its beginners Pope Gregory VII. and Cæsar Henry IV.
contrasted. Incidents of their Strife.-Debasement of the Emperor before the
Pontiff at Canossa.-Expulsion of Gregory from Rome and his Death in Exile.—
The Greatness of his Pontifical Ambition and his partial Realisation of the Papal
Ideal. Continuance of the Conflict by congenial Successors.-Discomfiture and De-
thronement of Henry IV. by his Son.--His miserable End and Unburied Corpse.--
Renewal of the Struggle with the Popedom by this very Son Henry V.-Humiliation
of Pope Pascal II. and the Compromise between Henry and Pope Callixtus in 1122,
somewhat to the Advantage of the Papacy.-Lull in the Strife between the Two
Powers.-The Twelfth Century.-Its manifold Life.-Anti-Papal Tendencies and
Great Men.-Growth of Anti-Roman faith in the South and South-East of France.
-Bernard as a Maker of Popes, a Preacher of Crusades and a Combatant of Here-
tics.-Abelard, the great intellectual Luminary, his Pupil Arnold of Brescia, the
great Anti-Papal Champion of the Age.-The Surrender of Arnold by Cæsar Frede-
rick Redbeard to Pope Adrian IV. the great Mistake and Misdeed of the great
Hohenstaufen Emperor.-High Imperial Ideal and Noble Character of Frederick.—
His Estrangement from Adrian IV. and his Conflict with Alexander III. — Guelfs
and Ghibelins.-Alexander and the Lombard League.--The Papal Power in Alliance
with that Italian Freedom with which it is now in mortal Conflict.-Imperial Power
overborne by the two Allies.-Failure of Frederick and his Humiliation before
Alexander at Venice, nearly contemporaneous with the Humiliation of Henry Plan-
tagenet before the Tomb of Becket at Canterbury.--Victory of the Papacy, though
not yet complete and crushing.-Pause in the Strife between Empire and Pope-
Hostile Powers and favourable Influences which surrounded the Papacy at the Acces-