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Council of Trent




THE COUNCIL OF TRENT, which may be described as the watershed of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, is the most important occurrence in post-mediaeval church history. It is the culminating event in a long series of similar assemblies, convoked to remedy the evils occasioned during and by the great schism of the papacy, and by the dissolution of lay and clerical morals to which the pagan temper of the Renaissance had largely contributed. But the councils of Pisa, Constance, Basel, Ferrara-Florence, and the Lateran had met and parted without attempting to deal effectually with any of the practical scandals and abuses in the church which were sapping the loyalty and affection it had formerly enjoyed; and these repeated fail-ures, by destroying all hope of redress at the hands of the constituted authorities, precipitated the crash of the Re-formation, which was in its inception scarcely concerned with doctrinal issues directly, but aimed mainly at faults of administration and morals.

Consequently a largely new problem presented itself for solution, and necessitated a fundamental change in the attitude of those concerned. Hitherto, whatever may have been the fierceness and bitterness of the disputes which the 15th-century councils had attempted to allay, they were, so to speak, family quarrels between members of the same great household, accustomed to the same mode of looking at religious questions, acknowledging the same hierarchy, and accepting the same standards, and thus with a vast body of agreement to go upon as a basis of reconciliation, leaving only comparatively minor details to be adjusted. But the German and Swiss Reformation had generated new communions, novel alike in their polity and much of their theology, and in active revolt, not merely against this or that detail or abuse, but against the Roman Catholic Church in its entirety, hierarchical, doctrinal, and political. The movement had not been confined long to its earlier limits, but had spread over all western Europe, had virtually conquered Holland and Scandinavia, was mak-ing great strides in France and England, and was begin-ning to threaten even Italy and Spain. Thus, the task was no longer the comparatively simple one of satisfying the demands of friendly remonstrants, but of winning back alienated nations, and, if that were too much to hope for, at least of saving the remnant of the Roman obedience from further disintegration. And for this purpose it was no longer sufficient, as it would have been a few years earlier, to discuss administrative details alone, but a review of the whole theological fabric of Latin Christianity, no part of which had been left wholly unimpeached, became a necessary factor in any possible scheme of reconcilia-tion. True, a precedent had been set in the theological discussions at the council of Ferrara-Florence, with its abortive effort to reunite Oriental and Latin Christendom, but the area and number of differences to be reconciled upon that occasion were incomparably smaller than those which had subsequently arisen, and the situation was thus one of extreme difficulty and delicacy, since there was always the danger of alienating many who had continued loyal so far, if very large concessions were made to the revolted Protestants, not a few of whom, besides, had already passed beyond the possibility of reconciliation. But, on the other hand, Luther had himself appealed to a general council from the bull " Exsurge Domine" launched at him by Leo X. in 1520, and his demand was taken up by the emperor and the princes of Germany, whether Catholics or Protestants, as the only conceivable means of terminating a crisis whose religious and political results might prove far more serious than even the least hopeful ventured to forecast. There was thus steady pressure from one side put upon the Roman curia to obtain the con-vocation of such a council, while scarcely less resistance to the proposal was offered by two very unlike parties in the Roman Church itself. For not only did those oppose it who were interested in the maintenance of the principal abuses complained of, and who feared that sweeping measures might be taken for their abolition, but some of the ablest champions of internal reforms, such as Cardinals Sadolet, Contarini, and Reginald Pole, were equally hostile to it, for the very different reason that they believed any such council likely to contain a majority determined on making it as abortive as those great synods had been which were fresh in the memory of all. Accordingly, this section gave its voice for the alternative scheme of pro-ceeding by way of less formal conferences, at which mutual explanations and concessions might be made by Catholics and Protestants, whereby a modus vivendi could be established, with less chance of the whole effort being wrecked by the intrigues of those who desired nothing less than practical reforms. A fresh difficulty was pre-sented by the opposition of the German princes to the assemblage of the council at Rome or anywhere outside Germany, as they distrusted the probable action of the Italian element, certain to preponderate in that event; and, as the curia was equally bent on holding it within the sphere of direct papal influence, this dispute made it impracticable to agree even on the preliminaries during ' the pontificates of Hadrian VI. and Clement VII. The diet of Spires in 1529 renewed the demand for a general council, to be held in some large German city ; and the diet of Augsburg in .1530 summoned the Lutherans to return into Catholic communion at once and unconditionally, leaving their doctrines (formulated in the Confession of Augsburg that very year) to be judged of in a future council, which the emperor Charles V. pledged himself to obtain within a brief space. Clement VII., then pope, was displeased at this initiative on the emperor's part, but offered to convoke a council in some Italian city, such as Mantua or Milan, belonging to the empire, and outside the States of the Church,'—expressing his wish that Charles V. should personally attend it. But he hampered this pro-posal with conditions which made it valueless for the main object of such an assembly, by declaring that no theo-logical questions upon which the church had spoken could be reopened, and that, if Protestants were to be admitted to the council at all, it must be, not as disputants, but as on their trial, and pledged beforehand to submit to the decisions of the council. No result, consequently, followed upon this step, nor was an embassy which Clement sent in 1533 to the German princes and to the kings of France and England with very similar provisions more successful, for it merely drew out a peremptory rejection of the scheme from the Protestants assembled at Schmalkald, by the emperor's desire, for the purpose of discussing it. So the matter rested till the accession of Alexander Farnese to the papal throne as Paul III. in 1534. A much abler man than his predecessor, he was also more alive to the imperative need of at least appearing to approve some measure of reform, if the church was to be saved from impending dangers (indeed, a report on this subject, drawn up at his desire by a committee of cardinals in 1536, is one of the most important documents of the era), and he was thought to be favourable to the project of a council, whereas there is little doubt that Clement VII. had weighted his acceptance of the plan with impossible con-ditions, in order to avoid its realization, yet so as to let the responsibility of refusal rest with others than himself. Paul III. sent Vergerio as envoy into Germany, to confer with the emperor and the princes, offering to convoke a council at Mantua, and urging the danger of attempting to hold it in Germany, by reason of the violent lengths to which the Anabaptists were then proceeding. But, while the Catholic princes were content with this offer, it was refused by the Protestants, and the ambassadors of France and England supported them in their attitude. Vergerio, who had also a fruitless interview with Luther, returned to Rome early in 1536, but Paul III. was not discouraged by his failure, and proposed, in a consistory on April 8, to convoke a council at Mantua. This plan was in turn upset, not only by the continued resistance of the Protestants, but by the refusal of the duke of Mantua to permit the use of his city for such a purpose, unless upon conditions which the pope was unwilling to accept. Notice was accordingly given of a council to be opened at Vioenza on May 1, 1538, and legates were despatched thither to make the preliminary arrangements, and to preside so soon as the members should assemble. But when the appointed time was only five days off not one bishop had arrived, and the pope was forced to prorogue the couneil again and again. Meanwhile, the method which Contarini and Sadolet had recommended, that of conferences between the Catholics and Protestants, was being acted on in Germany, and meetings of this nature were convened successively at Haguenau, Worms, and Ratisbon, at the last of which, in 1541, Contarini was present as legate of the pope, and showed so much tact, moderation, and sympathy that he succeeded in securing a large measure of agreement upon the controversies in dispute, notably on the vexed question of Justification. But, as his concessions and explanations were promptly repudiated at Rome, no practical result followed. In 1542 Paul III. sent Morone as his envoy to the diet of Spires to offer Trent as his final concession of the place of assembly, on the ground that its position in Tyrol, and its being part of the dominions of the king of the Romans, ought to meet all the reasonable requirements of the German princes. Ferdinand, king of the Romans, who presided at the diet, was content with this offer, as were the Catholic princes generally, but the Protestants con-tinued to object, and refused any council which should not be completely free from papal influence and authority. However, the pope issued, on May 22, 1542, a bull appointing the meeting of the council for November 1 fol-lowing. He sent three legates to Trent to make prepara-tions,—Morone, Parisio, and Reginald Pole; but they did not reach the city till three weeks later than the appointed date for opening the council, and so few bishops arrived during seven months from that time that it was necessary to prorogue the assembly. In fact, the idea of the council was distasteful to a very large proportion of the Latin clergy, especially such as apprehended danger to their private interests from the reforming plans of the pope, and also such as were alarmed lest serious religious innova-tions might be made in order to conciliate the Protestants. While this delay continued, another diet at Spires in 1544 resulted in great advantages to the Lutherans, who availed themselves of the political straits of Charles V. to extort several important concessions from him. The obnoxious edicts passed against them at Worms and Augsburg were rescinded; they were permitted to retain such ecclesiastical property as they had seized; they were made eligible for such civil and ecclesiastical offices as had been previously barred against them ; and general tolera-tion for the time being was established. This policy was extremely distasteful to the pope, who addressed a brief to the emperor, strongly remonstrating against it, and renewing his offer of a council. Charles V., who had not been a free agent in the matter, was much of the pope's mind, and proceeded to relieve himself of one difficulty in the way of reversing his action, by concluding peace with Francis I. of France on September 8, 1544. Hereupon Paul III. directed public thanksgivings to be offered throughout the whole Latin Church, and issued a bull removing the suspension of the council, and summoning it to meet at Trenton March 15,1545. Unable from age and illness to be present himself, as he had wished, he named Giammaria del Monte, bishop of Palestrina (after-wards Pope Julius III.), Marcello Cervini (afterwards Pope Marcellus II.), and Reginald Pole as his legates. The ex-perience of former abortive openings was repeated, for they found but one bishop awaiting them, and so few con-tinued to arrive that a fresh prorogation was forced upon the legates, and the pope, in the bull authorizing this action, added a proviso that no proxies should be received, but that all bishops summoned should attend in person, under severe penalties for contumacy. On November 7, 1545, the legates received final instructions to open the council upon December 13, and did so with solemn cere-monial, but only as a formal initiative of the proceedings, for the first session was postponed till January 7, 1546. When that time arrived, no more than some five and twenty archbishops and bishops, five generals of religious orders, and the ambassadors of King Ferdinand had as-sembled, and none of the conciliar officers had yet been nominated, nor any programme of procedure sketched out. The most important question arising under this last head was whether the voting should be taken by nations, as at the council of Constance, or by individuals, and the matter was referred to the pope, who gave his decision for the latter, as at once the more ancient (since Constance and Basel were the only precedents for the national vote) and the more convenient. Moreover, this ruling secured from the outset a working majority of Italian bishops in the assembly, at once by reason of the small size of the average Italian diocese, and of the greater ease with which Trent could be reached from Italy than from any other country which sent representatives thither, besides enabling the pope to swell the majority (as in the Vatican council three centuries later) with bishops in partitas, having no dioceses or jurisdiction, thus amply justifying the objection taken all along by the German Protestants to the assemblage of the council anywhere outside Germany.

Some preliminaries had to be settled before the second session, and the plan of holding private "general congregations," where theologians of non-episcopal rank could sit and share in the discussion and preparation of the decrees to be proposed and voted on iivpublie session, was at once adopted and observed thenceforward. And first, the question was raised whether any persons except bishops should be allowed to vote upon matters of doctrine. The decision was that the vote should be allowed to the generals of religious orders also, and that the right of the proxies of absent bishops to vote should be referred to the pope. The title to be given to the council at the head of the decrees in each session was then discussed, and a proposal to add the words "representing the church universal" (as at Basel and Constance) to the usual formula "general and ceeumenieal" was rejected at the instance of the legates, as indirectly menacing to papal autocracy. The legates also pi'ivately informed the pope that the majority of the members desired to take up the question of practical reforms before that of doctrine, and that it might be necessary to yield the point to avoid scandal or the imputation of sympathy with abuses, but that they would insist, in that case, on making the measures of reform apply all round, to princes and laymen as well as to ecclesiastics, which would probably damp the ardour of its advocates.

The actual business of the second session (January 7, 1546) was confined to the promulgation of a decree touching the discipline to be observed by the members of the council during its progress, as well in the matters of their private devotion and their food as in the conduct of the debates. The congregations which preceded the third session were mainly occupied with debating the thorny question of the order in which the discussion of faith and of dis-cipline was to come, and it was at last agreed to take them simultaneously.

So few additional bishops had arrived up to this time that it was judged inexpedient to promulgate any decrees in the third session (February 4, 1546), and little was done except the public recitation of the ISTiceno-Constantinopolitan creed as the authoritative confession of the Roman Church, and, as the council worded it, '' that firm and only foundation against which the gates of hell shall not prevail." A fortnight after this third session Martin Luther died (February 18, 1546), just as the situation in Germany was becoming more strained, and the emperor, alarmed at the rapid advance of Reformed opinions and practices (notably in the Palatinate, where the elector had made large concessions), was taking measures for suppressing the religious revolt by force of arms. The canon of Scripture was proposed in the congregations before the fourth session as the subject for discussion, and the three following questions were raised :—(1) Were all the books of both Testaments to be approved and received ? (2) Was there to be a fresh inquiry into their canonical character before giving such approval? (3) Should there be any distinction drawn between the books, as being some of them read merely for moral instruction, and others for proving the doctrines of Christian belief? The first of these questions was decided affirmatively. The second led to much debate; the conclusion arrived at was that a secret examination of the evidence should be made, but not suffered to appear in the public acts of the council. The third question was decided nega-tively. These congregations were the first wherein theological experts and canonists, not being members of the council, were admitted to a share in the discussions. The nature and function of tradition was also debated at this time, and the legates informed the pope that there was a strong tendency in the council to set it aside altogether, and to make Scripture the sole standard of appeal. Another burning question debated was that of vernacular transla-tion and lay study of Scripture. The result, in the fourth session (April 8, 1546), was the promulgation of two decrees, the first of which enacts, under anathema, that Scripture and tradition are to be received and venerated equally, and that the deutero-canonical books are part of the canon of Scripture. The second decree de-clared the Vulgate to be the sole authentic and standard Latin version, and gave it such authority as to supersede the original texts; forbade the interpretation of Scripture contrary to the sense received by the church, '' or even contrary to the unanimous con-sent of the fathers"; imposed various restrictions upon printers and vendors of Bibles; made licences to read any Biblical manu-script or publication compulsory; and prohibited the application of Scripture language to profane and superstitious purposes. The subjects next taken up were the doctrine of original sin and the reformation of abuses concerned with preachers and lecturers, which were made the matter of two decrees in the fifth session (June 17, 1546). The most noticeable point in the former is the saving clause, whereby the tenet of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin is excepted from decision, and left open; the latter enjoins the erection of a lectureship of Scripture in all cathedrals, collegiate churches, and monasteries, imposes the duty of preaching upon all bishops and persons with cure of souls, lays down stringent rules as to preaching licences, and forbids the "questors" (that is, the collectors of alms commissioned by the mendicant orders) to preach anywhere. There was a treaty concluded between the pope and the emperor a few days after this session, to make war against the German Protestants on the express ground of their refusal to submit to the council, and from this may be dated the end of any serious effort in the council itself to deal with the question of reconciliation, although the original motive for its convocation. Moreover, so little interest was felt even by the Roman episcopate in the proceedings at Trent that, instead of fresh accessions coming to recruit the small numbers present, constant defections took place, and a proposal to stop this by forbidding any bishop to quit Trent without formal permission was carried. The doctrine of Justification, made a burning question by the pro-minence given to it in Lutheran theology, was next taken up, and, this being, so to speak, a new controversy, with few precedents to guide the council, the discussion was proportionably protracted. It is noteworthy that Luther's views found some supporters, and the resignation of the legateship at this time by Reginald Pole, and his departure from the council, never to return, is attributed to his dissatisfaction with the conclusions arrived at upon this subject in its decree. The disciplinary question discussed at this time was that of the obligation of residence, especially as regards bishops; and decrees upon both these subjects were promulgated in the sixth session (January 13, 1547),—that on Justification being a formal dogmatic treatise in sixteen chapters, thirty-three canons; that on residence reviving former canons, and imposing new penalties, but avoiding the solution of a question hotly debated in the council, whether the residence of bishops was obligatory jure divino, or merely by ecclesiastical precept. Meanwhile, Charles V. was victorious in his war with the Protestants, and had all Germany in his power, but, instead of using the opportunity, as the pope expected, to put down the Reformers, he alleged that the recent war had not been one of religion, and assumed an attitude of tolera-tion. Hereupon Paul III., in order to break up this truce, sent instructions to the legates to press on decrees displeasing to the Protestants, judging that the emperor's well-known interest in the council would cause him to be accounted responsible for its measures, and thus lose all credit for his recent forbearance. In the seventh session, held on March 3, 1547, two decrees were promulgated,—one defining the sacraments as seven in number, and as being all channels of grace, also adding special canons concerning baptism and confirmation; the other dealing with pluralities, unions of benefices, repair of churches, and kindred matters, but with no great stringency. A more important part of the business of this session was the open declaration of a measure which the pope and the legates had been privately planning for some time, the trans-ference of the council from Trent to some city more directly under papal control; for, while Trent sufficed for headquarters as against Protestants, yet it was found that a virtual coalition between the Spanish, French, and German bishops to resist the Italians inter-fered with the intentions of the papal court, and could be most effectively broken up by a change of place. Occasion was accord-ingly taken from an outbreak of disease, alleged to be infectious, at Trent to issue a bull transferring the council to Bologna, which was read in the seventh session, while the promulgation of a decree in accordance with it formed the whole business of the eighth session (March 11, 1547). When it had been passed, the legates produced a brief which they had obtained more than two years before, empowering them to transfer"the council as they pleased. But, while they themselves quitted Trent the next day, and were followed by the majority of the bishops, those of the emperor's party continued in session at Trent, and refused to leave it without the permission of their sovereign, though they abstained from all conciliar action, in order to avoid the charge of schism. Charles V., incensed at the pope's action, sent a mandate approving and confirming their conduct. The ninth session, held at Bologna (April 21, 1547), and the tenth also (June 2, 1547), were merely formal, nothing being done save to prorogue the council. The practical result of this split in the council was to relieve the Pro-testants from imminent peril; for, while the emperor's successes enabled him to put severe pressure upon them to submit to its decrees, it was itself incapacitated for valid action, as neither the bishops at Bologna nor those at Trent could claim to be the whole council, nor demand acceptance of their acts as binding. Hence Charles V. was urgent,for the return of the entire body to Trent, and threatened, in case of refusal, to go to Rome, and hold the council there himself. And he took an even more peremptory step by constituting himself arbiter of the whole controversy^ appointing Julius Pflug, bishop of Naumburg, a prelate known to be friendly to the Lutherans, Michael Holding, called Sidonius, afterwards bishop of Merseburg, and John Agricola, a Lutheran writer of some mark, to draft an eirenicon upon the points in dispute, which was published under the title of the " Interim," by the emperor's authority, at the diet of Augsburg, May 15, 1548. It proved, however, inefficacious, and was formally repudiated and answered by the Catholic princes and states of the empire, and yet more peremptorily by the Protestants, its only result being the " In-terimistic controversy." It was succeeded by another formulary concerning reformation, accepted by the diet. While the emperor was endeavouring to force the " Interim " upon his dominions, the pope, on his part, strove to remove the dead-lock of the divided council, and convoked a committee to consist of members of both the Bolognese and the Tridentine sections to confer upon ecclesiastical reforms. But the bishops at Trent, having communicated with the emperor, and waited three weeks for his sanction, re-fused to leave that city, and the pope was compelled to direct the legates at Bologna to dismiss the bishops assembled there, and to announce the suspension of the council, which was accordingly done upon September 17, 1549. Paul III. died on November 10, 1549, and was succeeded on February 7, 1550, by Cardinal del Monte, the chief legate at the council, who took the title of Julius III. The break in the continuity of the council occasioned by these proceedings lasted till May 1, 1551, when the eleventh session was held at Trent under the presidency of Cardinal Crescenzio, sole legate in title, but with two nuncios, Pighini and Lippomani, as co-ordinate assessors. It was merely formal, as was also the twelfth session, on September 1, 1551. Just at this time Henry II., king of France, having quarrelled with the pope about the duchy of Parma, sent an envoy to the council at Trent, with letters styling it a "convention," denying its oecumenical character, declaring that it was not accessible to himself or to the French bishops, and notifying a protest against the validity of its proceedings, which he desired might be registered, and a copy of the register returned to him. No reply was made to this demand; so Henry dismissed the papal nuncio from his court, and published a manifesto to justify himself, at the same time that, in order to repel any charge of sympathy with the Protestants, he promulgated a severe edict against them. But the absence of French bishops, and the comparatively scanty attendance from Germany, threw matters more than ever into the hands of the Italian majority, as appeared from the decrees promulgated in the thirteenth session (October 11, 1551), and indeed from the attitude taken up by the legates just before it. For the obstinate refusal of the Protestants to attend or even recognize the council was on the point of giving way, and the imperial ambassadors demanded a safe-conduct for such as might present themselves, with some warranty that it should be really safe. They also desired the postponement of any decision on the doctrine of the Eucharist, and especially as regards the communion of the laity in the chalice. The pope expressed himself willing to grant both these demands, but no real attention was paid to either of them. As respects the attendance of the Protestants, the letters of Francis Vargas, fiscal (attorney-general) in Spain to Charles V., and his agent at the council, state plainly that the legates merely pretended to desire it, and were secretly doing everything to prevent it, while the very points as to which delay had been promised were made the subject of the decrees in the above-named session. The decree on the Eucharist was specially directed against Lutheran and Zwinglian opinions then recently broached, and was couched in eight chapters with eleven canons appended. It reasserted the doctrine of Transubstantiation, already defined by the fourth Lateran council in 1216, while, by the third of the canons, which declares that the wnole sacrament is entire in each kind, it indirectly, though effectively, ruled against the grant of the chalice to the laity; and in fact the Reformed thesis that they were entitled to it by divine right, and could not be debarred from it without sin, was unanimously condemned in the previous congregation. Some unimportant decrees affecting the criminal jurisdiction of bishops, and for referring the trials of bishops themselves to the pope, were enacted at the same time; but more noteworthy was a decree for postponing the decision upon lay and infant communion, and for granting a safe-conduct to the Protestants, which was the last business transacted upon this occasion. But the safe-conduct was worded so as to excite general and reasonable suspicion on the part of those to whom it was offered, and Vargas, who was no friend to their opinions, comments freely upon its deceptive ambiguity. In the fourteenth session (November 25, 1551) decrees upon penance and extreme unction, prepared in the congregations, and embodied in twelve chapters upon the former and three on the latter topic, followed severally by fifteen and four canons, were promulgated. Some disciplinary enactments affecting the clergy, and corrective of minor abuses, were enacted at the same time, the most important provisions being the abolition of the papal dispensations exempting their holders from the jurisdiction of the ordinary, and the restriction of the action of titular bishops. But the reforming party in the council was much discontented with the inadequacy of these measures, which added little to the very small progress made so far in the revival of discipline. Although no Protestant theologians had yet presented themselves at Trent, representatives of the duke of Wurtemberg arrived at this time, who were instructed to lay the Wurtemberg Confession before the council, and to say that Pro-testant divines who could give explanations of it were waiting some forty miles from Trent, and were prepared to attend the council so soon as a safe-conduct exactly conformable with that granted to the Bohemians by the council of Basel was issued, and on the further conditions that the discussions actually going on should be suspended and all the matters so far decided be reopened, that the pope should cease to preside by legates or otherwise, but declare his own submission to the decrees of the council, and absolve the bishops from their oath of allegiance to himself in order to secure their liberty of action. The envoys refused to treat with the legates at all, and conducted their negotiations through the imperial ambassadors. Crescenzio was very angry, and refused all concession, even going so far as to abstract the conciliar seal, lest the safe-conduct might be granted; but pressure was put upon him by the imperial ambassadors, and he was forced to consent to the admission of the Protestant envoys at a private congregation to be held in his own house, though he resisted the demand for introducing them to a public session. And, when the safe-conduct was recast, it was found to differ seriously from that proposed as its model, especially by failing to give the Protestants the rights of session and suffrage, of observing their own religion in their houses, and of being guaranteed against insults to their creed. To the remonstrances made in consequence the legate returned a per-emptory reply, refusing to make any further change, and only the instances of the emperor, then at Innsbruck, but three days' journey from Trent, induced the Protestant envoys to remain a little longer, to find if any better terms could be obtained. Some more Protestant envoys from Strasburg and other cities, and from Maurice of Saxony, arrived early in 1552, and were admitted to a congregation held on January 24, where they renewed the demands already mentioned, and required also that the decrees of Constance and Basel, declaring the pope inferior and subject to a general council, should be reaffirmed. They were promised an answer in due time, and the fifteenth session was held the next day (January 25, 1552), wherein the council was prorogued, and a safe-conduct more in accordance with the Protestant demands was drawn up and pub-lished. It is remarkable, however, for one omission, and for one significant clause. The omission is that of toleration for the private exercise of their religion; the insertion is a proviso pledging the council not to avail itself, "for this one occasion, "of any laws or canons whatever, '1 especially those of Constance and Siena," as against the Protestants. The reference is to the canon of Constance by means of which John Huss was tried and burnt, declaring a safe-conduct no protection against trial for heresy, even if the accused has come in reliance on the safe-conduct, and would not have come without it, which canon was reaffirmed at the council of Siena in 1423. While the negotiations occasioned by these proceedings were in course, war broke out anew in Germany, and Maurice of Saxony obtained considerable successes over the emperor, took Augsburg, and was marching down upon Tyrol, so that Charles V. fled in haste from Innsbruck, and the legate convened the sixteenth session (April 28, 1552) of the council, wherein a decree was promulgatea suspending it for two years in consequence of the perils of war. There was a general stampede from Trent at once, and the legate Crescenzio, then very ill, had just strength to reach Verona, where he died three days after his arrival.





So ended what is styled by some historians, and correctly, the first council of Trent, for, although the usual computation recognizes only one such council, yet an interruption of ten years, a widely changed personality, and a marked alteration in tone make the resumed synod virtually another assembly, and one by no means entitled to the degree of respect which the ability and learning of many members of that first convoked won for it. When the council dispersed, Julius III. at once in consistory repeated the policy of Paul III., and nominated a com-mittee to prepare a scheme of reform, but it never took action of any kind; and at the close of the two years' suspension of the council the question was put in con-sistory as to the resumption of the sessions, and decided, with the pope's approval, in the negative. Julius III. died on March 23, 1555, and was succeeded on April 11, 1555, by Cardinal Marcello Cervini, one of the former legates at the council, a man of high reputation for personal devoutness and freedom from that sympathy with abuses which marked too many of the dignitaries of the time. He took the title of Marcellus II., and his first public utterance was to intimate his purpose of reassembling the council, and of carrying out a plan of thorough reform in discipline, particularly directed to abating the pomp and luxury of the prelacy. But he was in feeble health when elected, and the fatigues of his new position brought on an attack of apoplexy which carried him off three weeks after his accession. In his room was chosen, on May 23, 1555, Cardinal Giovanni Pietro Caraffa, who took the title of Paul IV. He was known to profess great austerity of life, to have actually founded the Theatines, an ascetic community, and to be a stern and implacable advocate for several measures of repression against innovators in matters of religion or impugners of papal prerogative, as he quickly showed by setting up the Inquisition in Borne, and taking care that it should not be idle. His election consequently caused much alarm, and was especially displeasing to the emperor ; and the earlier acts of his pontificate seemed to justify the estimate formed of his character and the fears of those who apprehended that he would proceed to reform discipline in a swifter and more drastic fashion than had hitherto been essayed. For in fact he pledged himself to this effect in the first bull published after his accession, follow-ing it up with a show of activity by at once setting some minor reforms on foot.

During these three years important events had taken place in Germany. By the peace of Passau in 1552, the Protestants of the Augsburg Confession were secured from all molestation, and in the free exercise of their religion and of their civil rights, and this was followed up by a decree of the diet of Augsburg, on September 25, 1555, that, failing a national council to settle the religious disputes, the emperor, the king of the Romans, and the other Catholic princes should not interfere in any way with the religious liberties of the Lutherans holding to the Confession of Augsburg, provided they in their turn would exhibit equal tolerance towards Catholics; that no penalty, save the loss of benefices, should be imposed on any Catholic ecclesiastics joining the Lutheran body ; and that such benefices as the Protestants had already annexed for the support of their schools and ministers should remain in their possession. Paul IV. was much incensed at these proceedings, and used all efforts to procure their repeal, on the failure of which he openly broke with the emperor, formed an alliance with the French king against him, and imprisoned the cardinals and other personages of the imperial party on whom he could lay hands, confiscating the property of such as saved themselves by flight. He continued for a time in the measures of reform with which he began his reign, striking against jobbery, pluralities, dispensations, and laxity of clerical manners ; but all this short-lived zeal was speedily neutralized by his nepotism, surpassing that of any of his predecessors, and throwing the government of the States of the Church into the hands of his dissolute nephews, upon whom he rained all the wealth, honours, and authority in his power to bestow. And, as was to be expected, he set himself steadily to oppose every one of the class of reforms which touched doctrinal questions, just those for which the Protestants were urgent, encouraging only such as promoted the unity and discipline of the Roman Church itself, and made it more capable of effective resistance to the Reformation. He was not favourable to the reassembling of the council, not merely because of his experience of its languid action, nor even his-dislike of the struggles of the non-Italian minority to assert some measure of independence against the coercive tutelage exerted by the several papal legates from the very first, but because he regarded himself as the sole and proper person to consider such matters at all, and a bull of his own promulgation a better mode of procedure, at once in fulness of authority and swiftness of formulation, than any conciliar decree. Consequently, no step for the resumption of the council was taken during his reign, which ended on August 18, 1559. After a longer interregnum than usual, Giovanni Angelo de' Medici (not a member of the great Florentine house, but of humble Milanese extraction) was elected on December 26, 1559, as Pius IV. Markedly unlike his predecessor in almost every personal quality, he was much his superior in practical shrewdness and tact, and had none of that dislike to a council which Paul IV. had shown. So great, too, had been the strides made by the Reformation during his predecessor's reign that he might well think Paul IV.'s policy undesirable, and he had this special motive for reversing it, that a movement was going on in France for the convocation of a national council there to consider the whole religious situation, which might very conceivably result in a revolt like that of England from the Roman obedience. Accordingly, Pius IV. determined on the resumption of the council of Trent, and issued a bull on November 29, 1560, convoking it anew.

But the whole face of Western Christendom, the whole religious situation, had materially changed since the original assemblage of the synod in 1545. First, the imposing personality of Charles V. was removed from the scene, and Ferdinand I., his successor, enjoyed neither his per-sonal ascendency nor his political power, and could not be accounted as a possible competitor with the pope for the first place in the Catholic world, nor even as an ally with means for crushing the Reformation. Next, the Reformation itself was by this time an accomplished fact, a consummated revolt from mediaeval Christianity. It had taken definite shape in various countries; it had its own theological systems and traditions; besides that a whole generation had now grown up under its influence, never having had any personal associations with Latin Christianity. And, on the other hand, the very lengths to which some of the Reformers had gone in their revolt generated a corresponding reaction in the Roman Church, so that many influential persons who had been in favour of moderate reforms and of explaining disputed points of theology were convinced that no limits could be logically or practically set to concessions in this direction, and therefore that it was necessary to make a stand against any concessions at all. And, what is more, one noticeable effect of the wave of controversy which had swept over western Europe was to accentuate points of difference, to close questions previously open, to make the current beliefs more incisive and, so to speak, legal in form, to diminish seriously the neutral area between the competing religious systems, and thus to bring them face to face as irreconcilable foes. One factor more, of greater importance at the time than any other, contributed to the revolution which is marked by the second council of Trent. As Spain took the political lead in the earlier half of the 16th century, so it took also the lead in theology. The Spanish divines were abler and more learned than all save the very foremost in any other country, and their influence was throughout the greatest at the council of Trent on purely theological issues. Now, the political and the theological genius of Spain had both just found their highest exponent in one person and the organization which he devised, Ignatius Loyola and the Company of the Jesuits. Two of his immediate disciples and recruits, Salmeron and Laynez, were chosen to be the pope's theologians at the council of Trent, and exercised a greater influence than any other divines there in the formulation of its dogmatic decrees. But the Jesuits were to do more than this. The militant spirit of their founder had nothing in common with the alarm and vacillation which had for the most part marked the action of the Roman Church in dealing with the Lutheran and Calvinist revolt; and, instead of being content with devising schemes for standing on the defensive, and saving the remnant yet left to the Roman obedience, he conceived the bolder and safer plan of vigorous aggression, to reconquer all that had been lost, and to add fresh acquisitions thereto. The Counter-Reformation which he initiated was in full operation when the second council of Trent assembled, and it was by this spirit that it was guided in its deliberations and decrees. The very thought of compromise was abandoned in fact, if not in open expression, and the only reforms thenceforward taken into consideration were such as would remove causes of weakness and scandal in the Latin Church, enabling it, without sacrificing one of its claims, to overcome by superior mass and discipline, by closer unity and more organized enthusiasm, the heterogeneous, disordered, and already dissociated forces of Protestantism. The most obvious effect of these principles upon the second council of Trent was that the-diminution, the all but disappearance, of variety of opinion amongst its members, and the resolution to crush Protestantism rather than to parley with it in any scheme of mutual concession or accommodation, tended to shorten the preliminary discussions in a marked degree, so that little is to be noted of the long and animated debates of the earlier period, and the last few sessions exhibit even tokens of actual hurry to end the matter anyhow.

There was no intention on the pope's part to proclaim the Counter-Reformation as the policy of the council, even if it may be safely assumed that he could predict its action, and he sent nuncios to the Protestant sovereigns as well as to the Catholics to signify the approaching resumption of its sittings. Francis II. of France had died between the promulgation of the bull and its notification in France, but the young king Charles IX., by the advice of the parlement of Paris, directed all the bishops of the kingdom to be in readiness for journeying to Trent. Three nuncios were despatched to Germany, but the princes assembled in diet at Naumburg received them unfavourably, asserting anew their determination to recognize no council which did not avow Scripture as its standard of appeal and give right of free discussion to Protestants, denying the right of any one save the emperor to convene a general council at all, and inveighing strongly against the papacy. The king of Denmark declined to admit the nuncio on any terms, declaring that neither he nor his father had ever had any dealings with the pope; and Martinenghi, the nuncio commissioned to Elizabeth of England, was stopped by a messenger while still on the Continental side of the Channel, and informed that he would not be permitted to land on the English coast. The free cities of the empire also refused the summons, as did five of the Swiss cantons ; and even a large number of Roman Catholic prelates, while professing unqualified obedience to the pope's commands, showed much unwilling-ness to act upon them, and pleaded age, illness, or dio-cesan business as excuses for absenting themselves from the council. In this unpromising posture of affairs the preparations for the council were pressed on, and Cardinals Ercole Gonzaga, bishop of Mantua, Seripando, Hosius, Simoneta, and (later on) Altemps, the pope's nephew, were named as legates, being directed to open the session of the council upon Easter Day, April 6, 1561. But they did not even-arrive in Trent until April 16, and found no more than nine bishops awaiting them. Several causes conduced to this disappointment: the king of Spain had not yet accepted the bull convoking the council; the French bishops were more than fully occupied with the rapid advances of the Reformation in their midst; and the Germans had no great inclination for the repetition of their experience ten years before. It was thus necessary to postpone the assemblage till January 1 and then to January 18, 1562. That there might be a sufficient number of Italian bishops present to outvote any possible combination of others, the pope collected a large number of prelates, appointed them salaries for maintenance, and sent them off to Trent. Two questions of the highest practical importance came up for discussion in the pre-liminary congregation, wherein ninety-two bishops were present:—(1) Was the council to be styled a " continua-tion " of the previous one, or to be reckoned as a new synod 1 (2) Should the unprecedented clause in the papal decree for opening the council (but not found in the bull of convocation), " proponentibus legatis ac praesidentibus," be accepted and acted on, or rescinded 1 To declare the council a " continuation " of its precursor was to accept and ratify all which had been done therein ; to treat it as a new one was to make every decree of the earlier sessions merely provisional and alterable. To adopt the novel clause embodied in the papal decree was to gag the council from the outset and deprive it of freedom by concentrat-ing the initiative in the hands of the legates; and Guerrero, archbishop of Granada, pressed this objection with much urgency. On the other hand, this same prelate, acting on the orders of Philip II., demanded that the council should be plainly declared a continuation of its precursor, for Philip had already introduced some of the regulations of that synod into his dominions, and would lose credit if they were rescinded, or even treated as lacking full sanction. Contrariwise, the bishops of other nations present held that there was no prospect of inducing the Germans, English, and other partly alienated nationalities to send representatives, unless the proceedings so far should be regarded as capable of reconsideration and alteration at the hands of the actual assembly. The authorities at Rome were not unprepared for some difficulty on this head, and had endeavoured to evade it by using the indeterminate word " celebrated," which might be taken either way, and the Spanish remonstrants were privately told that it was understood that business should be taken up just where it had left off under Julius lit., thus making the synod a continuation of the former one, but that any express statement to that effect had been carefully avoided, lest the'Protestants should take offence, and thus one aim of the council might be defeated. The Spaniards were partly contented with this reply, but urged that nothing which could be interpreted as the convocation of a new council should be suffered to appear in the wording of the decree about to be publicly read, which was conceded.





The seventeenth session was held (January 18, 1562) in the presence of the legates,—106 bishops, 4 abbots, 4 generals of orders, and the duke of Mantua, nephew of the chief legate, being present. Four Spanish bishops lodged a protest against the proposing clause —two of them unreservedly, two in a more qualified manner—and they particularly objected to the novelty of the clause, and to the manner in which it had been sprung upon the council, the arch-bishop of Granada and the bishop of Orense pointing out that it was not in the original bull, with which the subsequent decree ought to be in complete agreement, and the former adding that it was not even in the copy of the decree shown to him. But the Italian majority was too strong, and the protest was overruled,— the prorogation of the council to February 26, 1562, being the only further business transacted. But a very important question was laid before the congregations which followed this session, that of providing some remedy for the injury done to the Roman Catholic Church by the circulation of more or less hostile books, a difficulty made incomparably greater from the middle of the 15th century onwards than at any previous time in history, by reason of the invention of printing. The council of Lateran in 1515 had made a licence from the ecclesiastical authorities requisite before any book could be printed, under pain of excommunication, but this penalty did not affect Protestant printers, and the issue of a catalogue of books forbidden to Catholics became a necessary addi-tion. Such a catalogue was issued by Paul IV. in 1559, but some machinery for supplementing it as fresh books poured from the press could alone meet the permanent danger. Another matter debated in these congregations was the invitation of Protestants to attend, and in what character. In the eighteenth session (February 26, 1562) two decrees on these subjects were promulgated,—one appointing a committee to report to the council on the whole question of heretical books; the other publishing a safe-conduct to the German Protestants, extended by a rider to those of other nations. The congregations held after this session were busied chiefly with the questions of residence and the abuse of indulgences, besides several less important details of reform. A warm debate arose as to the nature of the obligation to reside,—the Spaniards holding it to be of divine right, the Italians to be of no more than ecclesiastical precept. So powerful a body in the council took the Spanish view that the legates were alarmed, especially as ominous speeches were made to the effect that the Roman curia must be reformed on the basis of the report of cardinals to Paul III. before anything of moment could be done in the way of real improvement. Accordingly, they sent a messenger to the pope, bringing with him a schedule of the proposed reforms, and asking for advice in the crisis. The pope desired them to counteract the opposition bishops, to postpone the question of residence, if they could not suppress it altogether, and despatched Visconti, bishop of Ventimiglia, as extra nuncio to the council, to report accurately to him everything said or done there, and with him sent also all the bishops who could be collected at Rome to swell the Italian vote, and thus defeat the opposition indirectly. There was much debate also on the scope of the safe-conduct, as the Spaniards were anxious that it should not protect those against whom the Inquisition had taken action, while others desired to see its terms enlarged sufficiently to meet the requirements of the Protestants, who objected to its suspicious silence on several weighty particulars. As the French ambassadors were expected, nothing was done in the nineteenth session (May 14, 1562) save to prorogue the council. On May 26, 1652, De Lanssac (who had been lately French envoy at Rome), Du Ferrier, and De Pibrac, envoys from Charles IX., were ad-mitted to audience, and demanded, amongst other matters, that the council should be formally declared a new one, wherein the imperial ambassadors supported them, while Philip II. of Spain, contrariwise, insisted that it should be declared a continuation of the former synod. The legates strove to satisfy both parties, and received contradictory directions from Eome, at first ordering them to announce the continuation of the former council, and afterwards leaving the matter to their discretion. So little agreement could be arrived at that the twentieth session (June 4, 1562) was held merely to prorogue the council. The question of communion in both kinds was the next to come up for consideration. It was -such a capital one, if any hope of winning back the Protestants was to be entertained, that the imperial and French ambassadors had special injunctions to forward by all means in their power an affirmative decision. The Frenchmen saw little prospect of carry-ing this matter in the temper of the Italian majority, and were for opposing the discussion which the legates had announced, but the imperial ambassadors were more hopeful, and persuaded them to give way. While the question was being debated in the congregations, the Venetian and Bavarian ambassadors arrived, the latter armed with a formidable schedule of complaints against prevalent abuses, and of demands for correspondingly drastic reforms, beginning with the pope and the curia, and making havoc amongst cardinals, dispensations, exemptions, pluralities, office-books, exclusively Latin services, and other like matters, thus threatening all manner of vested interests and long-rooted customs. The legates put them off, alleging the pressure of other business, notably the question of communion in both kinds, which was, in fact, being discussed and decided in accordance with the views of the Italians and Spaniards, and against those of the French and Germans. In the twenty-first session (July 16, 1562) a decree couched in four dogmatic chapters and four canons was promul-gated upon it, to the following purport:—laymen, and priests other than the actual celebrant, are not bound by divine right to com-municate in both kinds; the church has full power to make what changes it pleases in the mode of administering sacraments; the whole sacrament of the Eucharist is received entire under either kind singly; and little children are not bound to communicate. The canons pronounce anathemas against maintainers of the con-trary propositions. At the same time a decree upon reformation was enacted, most of the clauses dealing with the duties of bishops in the matters of ordination, patronage, division, and union of benefices, discipline of ineffective parish priests, and visitation of monasteries, but a more permanent interest attaches to the ninth and concluding chapter of the decree, whereby the name and office of the "questors of alms," that is to say, the vendors of indulg-ences, are abolished on the ground of the impossibility of other-wise putting a stop to the abuses and depravity of their proceedings. All privileges and customs to the contrary, even if of time im-memorial, are rescinded; the publication of indulgences is confined thenceforth to the ordinaries of each place, assisted by two members of the chapter; and these same officers are directed to collect the alms and charitable donations of the people, but forbidden to receive any commission or payment for so doing. This decree is a virtual confession of the justice of the agitation against Tetzel and his fellows which served as the signal for beginning the great religious strife of the 16th century; and it is noticeable that it was the pope's own voice against the system which decided the action of the council, wherein a powerful minority was found to defend it. Several weighty matters then came before the congregations, that of residence again being'pressed by the Spaniards, while the imperial and Bavarian ambassadors renewed their requisition for permissive communion in both kinds (for the decree on that subject had gone no further than to declare it unnecessary, and had not explicitly forbidden it), and the French ambassador not only sup-ported them in their demand, but added on his own part that in France they desired vernacular services, the abolition of image-worship, and permission for the clergy to marry. The nuncio Visconti wrote to the pope in great alarm, expressing apprehensions at the very free language employed by the fathers of the council on these matters, the probability of their conceding the emperor's demands, and of similar ones being advanced thereupon, all making in the same direction. An intrigue to compel the resignation of Cardinal Gonzaga, who was not thought sufficiently opposed to these measures, and who was far less peremptory in his presidency of the council and use of the closure than Crescenzio had been, was set on foot, and defeated only by the strong representations made at Rome by the archbishop of Lanciano, who said that there was already so much division in the council that it could but just hold together, and would almost certainly be broken up by any step of the kind. The next subject which was brought on for considera-tion was the sacrifice of the Mass, and the debates thereon were very animated, disclosing considerable variety of opinion amongst the theologians,—no fewer than five clearly distinct views of the tenet, apart from mere verbal or minor differences, being adduced and argued for. As sixty French bishops, to be accompanied by twelve theologians, and headed by Charles de Guise, cardinal of Lorraine, were under orders to repair to Trent, the French ambassador pressed the legates to postpone the next session till their arrival, as De l'lsle, ambassador at Rome, did the pope; but each replied evasively, referring the applicant to the other. The question of communion in both kinds was also very warmly dis-cussed, and the council was warned that a negative decision would lead to the secession of multitudes who had not yet broken with the Roman Church; but the Jesuit Laynez, who was the chief advocate for refusal, replied that to diminish the church would not destroy it, and that anything was better than concession in the matter. The numbers in the division taken on the question were as follows:—29 were in favour of granting communion in both kinds ; 31 agreed thereto, but desired the execution of the decree to be left to the pope's discretion; 38 were for total refusal; 24 strove to evade responsibility by referring the matter to the pope entirely; 19 were willing to make the concession to the Bohemians and Hungarians, but would refuse it to all others; 14 asked for a postponement; and 11 remained neutral, declining to vote any way—being a total of 166 suffrages, so split up as to make it im-practicable to frame a decree. In this difficulty, the legate seized the opportunity of persuading the council to refer the matter to the pope's decision, thereby at once checkmating the reforming section, and indirectly ruling the vexed point of the relative superiority of pope and council in favour of the former, and so virtually reversing those decrees of Constance and Basel which had long been thorns in the side of the Roman curia. In point of fact, the pope had written some time before to the legates, recom-mending them to yield to the emperor's demand of the chalice for the laity, but they had replied that it would be impolitic to make it a conciliar act, and that it would be more expedient to frame a mere general declaration that it might be proper to make the con-cession in certain cases, but that the pope should be the sole judge of them. In the twenty-second session (September 17, 1562) the decree on the sacrifice of the Mass was promulgated in nine chapters and as many canons, directed for the most part against current Protestant objections to the doctrine and ceremonial of the Missal. Rules to secure greater order and reverence in the celebration of Mass, and for the suppression of sundry superstitious observances connected therewith, were also enacted,—besides some minor re-forms of little note, and a decree referring to the pope the whole question of the concession of the chalice. The meagreness and insignificance of the reforms enacted thus far caused much dis-pleasure in France, and the king directed his ambassador to press once more for delay till the arrival of the French, German, and Polish bishops who were expected at Trent, as the emperor also instructed his envoy. But the pope was busy in recruiting the Italian majority, and was unfavourable to this request, lest the Italians should be outvoted by the new-comers; yet so contentious were the debates on the sacrament of orders, and on the nature and ex-tent of the rights of bishops—notably whether they were inherently above priests, and whether they were necessarily subject to the pope, deriving their jurisdiction and other powers solely through delegation from him, or if they were not of Divine institution, and his colleagues rather than his deputies (which latter thesis was steadily maintained by the Spaniards)—that it proved impossible to frame the decrees and hold the session before the arrival of the cardinal of Lorraine, who reached Trent on November 13, 1562, accompanied by fourteen bishops, three abbots, and eighteen theologians. The discussions, further complicated with the question of residence, were renewed hereupon, and long before any signs of agreement were visible the French ambassadors laid before the legates a schedule of reform in thirty-four articles, requiring, not only the removal of various abuses in patronage, and the punish-ment of negligence on the part of the parochial and monastic clergy, but also that vernacular services should be permitted, and communion in both kinds enjoined, while all abuses and supersti-tions connected with image-worship, indulgences, pilgrimages, and relics should be summarily abolished. Lorraine, on being asked how far he agreed with these demands, said that he disapproved of some of them, but that if he had not consented to take charge of them in their actual form, they would have been made still more drastic. No definite action was taken upon them either at Trent or at Rome, and the proceedings dragged on ineffectively for some months longer. On March 2, 1563, Cardinal Gonzaga, first legate, died, and was speedily followed by Cardinal Seripando. The imperial and French ambassadors endeavoured to get the cardinal of Lorraine named as first legate and president, but he was not acceptable at Rome, and the post was given to Cardinal Morone, with whom Cardinal Navagero was associated, to fill the place of Seripando. All these events delayed the twenty-third session until July 15, 1563, nearly ten months later than the preceding one. A decree on the sacrament of orders, in four chapters and eight canons, laid down that there is a sacrificial priesthood of the New Testament, instituted by Christ; that there have been seven orders in the Christian ministry from the earliest times ; that holy order is a sacrament; that orders are indelible; that bishops are superior to priests ; that a call from the laity, or from any secular authority, is unnecessary as a title to ordination, and that a merely lay call is invalid, while bishops appointed solely by the pope, without the intervention of any other persons, are validly created. A decree of eighteen chapters on reformation, enacting, amongst much else, penalties for non-residence on the part of beneficiaries, and providing for the erection of those theological seminaries which have ever since been the nurseries of the Latin clergy, was also promulgated in this session. The congregations which followed it were occupied chiefly with the question of matrimony, which had been mooted earlier, but with no definite result, and with framing a scheme to repress the encroachments of the civil power upon the church in most countries, one clause of which proposed to exempt all ecclesiastics from civil jurisdiction in all cases whatever, and from the payment of taxes, with penalty of excommunication upon such civil authorities as contravened this ruling. This was never pushed to the stage of promulgation, but it was successful as a manifestation against the reforming party in the council, and actually drove the French ambassadors away, since they judged their further presence useless in such a temper of the assembly. Yet it was itself by no means agreed or harmonious. The old dis-putes about the claim of the council to represent the church uni-versal, about the proposing clause, limiting the initiative to the legates, and about the need of reform in the Roman curia itself were renewed, and that with much acrimony, but with no prac-tical result. In the twenty-fourth session (November 11, 1563) a decree on matrimony, couched in ten chapters and eleven canons, was promulgated, the most noticeable points of which are the assertion that the church can constitute other impediments to matrimony besides the forbidden degrees of the Levitical code, and can dispense with such impediments ; that clerks in holy orders and regulars vowed to celibacy cannot contract valid marriage ; and that celibacy is superior to matrimony. The simultaneous decree on reformation lays down rules for the creation of bishops and cardinals, so as to avoid unfit promotions ; directs that diocesan synods shall be held yearly, and provincial synods trien-nially ; lays down rules for episcopal visitations, and for the quali-fications to be exacted of persons promoted to cathedral dignities and canonries ; appoints the provincial synod the judge of minor causes against bishops, referring graver causes to the pope's de-cision ; and enacts various other technical regulations. By this time all concerned were thoroughly weary of the council, and the remaining matters for discussion were hurriedly discussed, result-ing, in the twenty-fifth and last session (December 3 and 4, 1563), in a decree, very cautiously worded, upon purgatory, the cultus of saints, and that of relics and images. In this same session was also enacted a decree in twenty-two chapters, regulating several matters affecting the discipline of convents of monks and nuns; and another decree on reformation, in twenty-one chapters, the most important of which enjoin all cardinals and bishops to keep modest households, and not to enrich their kindred with church property ; that all prelates shall receive and publish the decrees of the council; that duelling shall be prohibited under severe penal-ties ; and that the authority of the Holy See both is, an is to be understood to be, untouched by any decrees of the council touch-ing the reform of morals and discipline. On the last day of the session was passed a somewhat indefinite decree upon indulgences, forbidding all evil gains connected therewith, and directing that, wherever abuses or superstitions are prevalent concerning them, the bishops shall collect the facts, lay them before the provincial synod, and after discussion there refer them to the pope for ulti-mate decision. The distinction of meats, and the due observance of festivals and fasts, were also enjoined ; and a formal statement was made that the committees which had been engaged upon the index of prohibited books, on the draft of a catechism, and on the revision of the Missal and Breviary, thinking that the synod could not deal with them conveniently, had determined to lay their reports before the pope to ratify and publish at his pleasure. Formal acclamations, and an anathema against all heretics, closed the session ; and the legates, after forbidding any bishop, und«r pain of excommunication, to leave Trent till he had either signed his assent to the decrees, or left documentary proof of such assent, gave the blessing and dissolved the assembly.

Two hundred and fifty-five signatures were attached to the decrees, and also those of the ambassadors still remaining at Trent. The bull of confirmation was issued at Rome on January 26, 1564, and followed by another fixing May 1, 1564, as the date from which the decrees should be held binding. The bull of confirmation forbade all persons whatsoever, whether ecclesiastics or laymen, to gloss or interpret the decrees upon any pretext whatever, without papal authority for the purpose. The republic of Venice was the first power to signify its reception of the decrees, followed speedily by the other Italian states (except Naples) and by Portugal; but the king of Spain, though receiving the decrees, issued them at first in his own name, and not in that of the pope ; the emperor and the king of Bohemia demanded the lay use of the chalice and the marriage of priests as the terms on which they would accept the council, and obtained a partial concession of the former demand, but were refused the latter ; and in France, while the dogmatic decrees were accepted, the disciplinary ones were not, and have never, in spite of efforts many times renewed, made part of French ecclesiastical law. The provision referring the explanation of the council to the pope was given shape by Sixtus V., who erected in 1588 a Congregation of the Council of Trent to sit permanently at Rome, where it has ever since continued to be included amongst those standing committees which divide among them the administration of the pontifical government.

Two questions remain to be considered in relation to this great synod:—how far was it free, and representative of the mind of Latin Christianity at that time 1 and what have been its effects upon dogma and discipline 1 Ample materials exist for answering the first question, in the form of contemporary letters, either separately published, as those of Vargas, or included in the great collection of documents made by Le Plat, and in the official acts of the council itself, drawn up by the secretaries Paleotto and Massarelli. From these it is perfectly clear that the council was never free for a moment, but was hampered and fettered, not merely by the permanent fact of a large Italian majority, subsidized by the pope, but by the method of procedure in the congregations, since by a skilful distribution of the members into groups or classes, so as to prevent combined action, and by careful packing of the sub-committees to which the preparation of business for debate was entrusted, little could be done save when and how the majority pleased ; and, above all, the vigilant supervision exercised by the legates, their constant refer-ence to Rome of every point of any importance before they would permit it to come on for regular discussion (so that Lanssac, one of the French envoys, somewhat profanely said that the Holy Spirit was brought to the council in a carpet-bag from Rome), and their uncompromising use of their presidential authority to interrupt or silence un-acceptable speakers (as frequently appears in the Acts) effectually bound the council hand and foot; and thus its decisions, as a whole, represent little more than the Italian and, to some extent, Spanish opinions of the time, and not those of German, French, or Hungarian Catholics. The demeanour of the legates differed much, and there is a wide interval between the open browbeating employed by Crescenzio and the high-bred dignity of Gonzaga or the diplomatic subtlety of Morone; but the policy was alike in all cases, and its results the same. As to the dogmatic effect of the council, it went much further than merely restating the current Catholic theology of the pre-Reformation era; for it marks a new departure, closing many questions previously left open (nothing is more noteworthy in the debates than the manner in which several divines of unquestioned ability and loyalty delivered themselves of opinions closely allied to those advocated by leading Reformers, and then still tenable within the Roman obedience), re-wording old propositions, or framing new ones, in an incisive fashion. It recovered for papal authority all it had lost, or was likely to lose, through the action of'Basel and Constance; and, above all, it unified Roman teaching for the first time, and crystallized it into rigid compactness. Thus it made concessions and explana-tions for the reconciliation of the revolted Protestants, although the primary cause of the council, practically im-possible thenceforward, since the Roman Catholic system, thus hastily consolidated out of a former condition of partial flux, became like a " Prince Rupert's drop," from which, if the smallest fragment be broken, the mass is at once resolved into disintegrated powder. In the matter of disciplinary reform the council enacted but little of an effective nature, except in the abolition of the traffic in indulgences, and the establishment of theological seminaries, which has proved the most effectual agency for creating that doctrinal uniformity which now prevails throughout the Roman obedience ; and the real honours of the Counter-Reformation rest with the Jesuits, to whose unremitting diligence, powerful organization, and ceaseless precept and example must be attributed by far the larger part of the abatement of ecclesiastical abuses and scandals which marks the succeeding era. Doubtless, the Tridentine decrees, in strong and resolute hands, proved most useful subsidiary weapons to compel local reforms; but decrees of little less stringency had been enacted by previous synods, and had rusted unused, because there was no one able and willing to put them in operation against the passive resistance of powerful vested interests.

The
bibliography of the council of Trent is very extensive, but a comparatively small number of volumes really suffices the student. The first work of importance is P. Paolo Sarpi's Istoria del ConciHo Tridentino, originally published in London (1G19) by Antonio do Dominis, archbishop of Spalato, under the pseudonym of Pietro Soave Polano (an imperfect anagram of Paolo Sarpi Veneto), but better studied in the French version by Père Le Courayer, with valuable notes (see SARPI). The rival work of Sforza Palavicino, Istoria del ConciHo di Trento (1656-57), written to order as a refutation of Sarpi's work, is also indispensable. He had free access to many official documents which Sarpi could not consult, and often corrects him upon points of detail, but a careful reader will find that he confirms him far offener than he refutes him. It is not enough, as Ranke points out, to compare those two, and take the mean statement as a guide, for they are sometimes in blank contradiction, and other witnesses must be called in to decide the matter. The Acts of the council, so far as they were drafted by Paleotto, were first published by Mendham in 1842; the complete Acts, by both Paleotto and Massarelli, were not accessible till published as Acta Genuîna Œcumenici Concilii Tridentini by Theiner in 1874. The vast compilation of Jodocus Le Plat, Monumentorum ad Historiam Concilii Tridentini Amplissima CoUeclio (7 vols. 4to, 1781-87), is full of valuable and interesting matter. The speeches of the Jesuit Laynez, which had such a powerful effect upon the council, have been recently published under the title of Lainez, Disputationes Tridentinse, 2 vols., 1886. Vargas, Lettres et Mémoires concernant le Concile de Trent (1700, partly translated in Geddes, The Council of Trent no Free Assembly, 1714), is of much value. The canons and decrees of the council have been many times published, and are readily accessible; the best edition is that by Richter and Schulte (1853). There is a convenient abridgment of Palavicino's history prefixed to the Rev. James Waterworth's English version of the Decrees and Canons of Trent (1848), but it is not trustworthy, for the translator has suppressed many statements of the original which tell in various ways against the freedom of the action of the council. To these may be added Sickel, Aktenstücke zur Geschichte des Konzils zu Trient, 1872; Calenzio, Documenti lnediti e Nuooi Lavori Letterarii sul ConciHo di Trento, 1874; Döllinger, Sammlung von Urkunden zur Geschichte des Concils von Trient, 1876 ; and the article on the council in Wetzer and Welte's Kirchenlexicon. (R. F. L.)



Footnotes

The Italian character of the council of Trent can best be exhibited by a classified table, showing the nationality of the bishops present in the later sessions:—Italians, 189 ; Spaniards, 31; French, 26 ; Greeks (titulars), 6; Portuguese, 3; Illyrians, 3 ; Irish, 3; Germans, 2 -. Flemish, 2; Polish, 2; Croatian, 1; Moravian, 1; English, 1.




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