Page 1260

1260 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

at the time when the last embers of hope

are expiring in the ashes of bitterness and

gloom, a sudden breeze, as if blown up from

the pavilion of the unseen world, touches

the dying coals, kindles them into a feeble

jet, the jet into a flame, the flame into a

conflagration. The epoch of revival succeeds the epoch of hopelessness, and

man, inflamed with new ambition, begins again the confident battles of existence.

In the midst of this violent and pestilential

century, the first throb of one of these revivals

of humanity was felt in Southern Europe.

The occasion for the reaction against the

crime and despair of the age was found in the

scandalous corruption of the Church, and the

first movement of reform had the same origin

with the abuse which demanded it. The

Burgundian monks of Cluny, led by their

abbot, Odilo, began to inveigh against the

vices of the time, especially against the

remorseless methods of mediaeval warfare.

They proclaimed a dogma which became

known as the Truce of God, by which all

combats, whether public or private, were

forbidden from the evening of each Wednesday

until the morning of the following Monday.

The larger part of the week was thus absolutely reserved for the duties of peace.

Private feuds and public battles were so

impeded by the perpetual recurrence of

the truce that the baffled spirit of retaliation

and revenge could hardly any longer be

gratified. The new doctrine was received

with great favor. The monks who had

originated the measure became known as

the Congregation of Cluny, and many pious

ecclesiastics in different and distant parts

sought to join themselves with the peaceful

brotherhood. Not a few of the secular princes

favored the beneficent measure, and the Emperor Henry III. called a diet of the German

nobles for the express purpose of enforcing

the observance of the truce.

One reform led to another. At this epoch

the crime of simony, or the practice of selling

the offices and dignity of the Church, was

scandalously prevalent. Unscrupulous aspirants, all the way from the common priesthood

to the papacy, were wont to buy the coveted

preferment. The largest bribe won the contest

over the greatest merit. The Congregation of

Cluny attacked this abuse with great vigor, but with less success than had attended their

efforts in combating the merciless methods of

war. Henry III again lent his aid in the effort at reform. He took pains to favor the

appointment of such priests only as were moral

and intelligent. He interfered in the affairs

of the Holy See. Three rival Popes were at

this time contending for the seat of St. Peter.

Each of these had excommunicated the other

two, together with their followers. There was

good reason why the Emperor should cross

the Alps and attempt the restitution of order

and decency in the papal state. Accordingly,

in 1046, Henry made his way into Lombardy, and thence to the old Etruscan city

of Sutri, where a great synod was held to

consider and reconcile the difficulties of the

Church. It was voted that all three of the

alleged Popes should be deposed, and that

the tiara should be placed on the head of

the Bishop of Bamberg. This choice, however,

so evidently made out of deference to the

Emperor, was very distasteful to the real

reformers, and the dislike for Clement II-for such was the title of the new pontiff-was

greatly increased when the Holy Father, on

the same day of his own coronation, conferred the Imperial crown on Henry. The

growing republican spirit of Italy was vexed

and offended by this ill-concealed bargain

struck by the Pope and the Emperor in

the very center of the reformatory movement. The temporary set back given to

the work acted as a stimulus to the democratic spirit already rife in Venice

and Milan.

It was at this time that the Italican clergy

and people, who had hitherto been an actual

factor in the election of the Popes, were remanded to the background. The right of

choice fell into the hands of the bishops, and

they, receiving their appointment from the

Emperor, were certain to follow his lead and

preference in the selection of a pontiff. Between the years 1047 and 1055 no fewer than

four Popes were successively raised to the papal dignity at the dictation of Henry III.

Near the close of his reign the Emperor

again visited Italy, and readjusted the affairs

of the Norman principalities in the southern

parts of the peninsula. While absent on this

mission the home kingdom was seriously disturbed with outbreaks and dissension. The

three counts-Godfrey of Lorraine, Baldwin