Project Canterbury

A Short History of the Council of Trent

By Richard Frederick Littledale

London: SPCK, 1888.


THE bibliography of the Council of Trent is of enormous bulk, a whole cloud of volumes having begun to appear even in the sixteenth century, continually augmented ever since. But the works of real value to the student are few in number, and by far the larger number of the remainder are merely borrowed and abridged from these. First in importance, and earliest in date, is Fra Paolo Sarpi, "Istoria del Concilio Tridentino," originally published by Archbishop Antonio de Dominis at London in 1619, with the pseudonym of Pietro Soave Polano,--supposed to be an imperfect anagram of Paolo Sarpi Veneto,--and speedily issued in a racy English version by Nathaniel Brent, which passed through several editions. The best form, however, in which to consult Sarpi is in the French translation by Courayer, "Histoire du Concile de Trente," two vols., folio, Amsterdam and London, 1736, which has valuable notes correcting errors and clearing up difficulties in Sarpi's narrative. Sarpi holds a brief against the Council, and as he had not access to its minutes, he is often inaccurate in chronological matters, though his knowledge of the inner working of the assembly, doubtless based on documents in the Venetian archives, is minute and, on the whole, trustworthy. His book had a wide circulation, and, in order to counteract its influence, Cardinal Palavicino was commissioned to write a refutation of it, which he did in his "Istoria del Concilio di Trento," two vols., folio, Rome, 1656-57, being abundantly supplied with materials from the papal archives, and having recourse to many important documents inaccessible to Sarpi. He is as definitely the apologist of the Council as Sarpi is its assailant, and his bias is quite as marked, nor is it always possible, as Ranke has acutely pointed out, to arrive at the real facts by comparing the two and striking a mean between their assertions. Next come the Acts of the Council itself, as taken down in the form of minutes by its two secretaries, Massarelli and Paleotto. The former of these was not accessible till F. Theiner published the "Acta Genuina SS. cumenici Concilii Tridentirii," containing both sets of minutes, two vols., folio, Zagrab in Croatia, 1875; but Paleotto's portion had been printed by Joseph Mendham in 1842. F. Theiner is eloquent in his preface on the confutation which Massarelli's minutes supply of Sarpi's charges; but the wish is father to the thought in this case, since, in fact, they confirm many of his most serious allegations as to the interference of the legates and the absence of liberty in the Council.

Another indispensable book is "Lettres et Mémoires de François de Vargas,. . . touchant le Concile de Trente, traduits de l'Espagnol," par M. Michel Le Vassor; Amsterdam, 1699. There is an English version by Michael Geddes, Chancellor of Sarum, London, 1714, entitled "The Council of Trent no free Assembly." For the whole period which ushered in the Council, and the state papers issued during and in its sessions, the materials are accumulated in the vast work of Josse Le Plat, "Monumentorum ad Historiam Concilii Tridentini . . . amplissima Collectio," seven vols., 4to, Louvain, 1781-87, which is of incalculable value, and deserves the index which the laborious compiler has unhappily failed to supply. Mendham, "Memoirs of the Council of Trent," London, 1834, largely based on manuscript and unpublished materials, is extremely useful; and a good survey of the subject will be found in Wessenberg, "Grossen Kirchenversammlungen des 15ten und 16ten Jahrhunderts," four vols., 8vo, Constanz, 1840. Richer, "Historia Conciliorum," Cologne, 1683, narrates the history of the Council of Trent from the Gallican point of view, and Laynez, "Disputationes Tridenti" recently published, is a work of much interest and value. The "Decreta et Canones Concilii Tridentini" are of course essential to the student, and are constantly reprinted in cheap and accessible editions. There are English versions of them, one of which, "The Canons and Decrees of the Sacred and Oecumenical Council of Trent," by the Rev. J. Waterworth, London, t848, has a convenient abridgment of Palavicino's history prefixed to it; but, though very readable, it is not equally trustworthy, seeing that Palavicino, though the apologist of the Council, wrote in the seventeenth century, when many things were taken for granted which the modern conscience cannot accept, and he therefore makes many statements and admissions which seemed to him to require neither apology nor justification, but which Waterworth has thought it expedient to omit. Chemnitz, "Examen Concilii Tridentini Decretorum," fol., Frankfort, 1574, is a repertory of the theological exceptions taken to the Tridentine doctrine by contemporary Lutherans, ably written. For all practical purposes, the only book which need be added to these is Mignot, "Histoire de la Réception du Concile de Trente dans les différens États Catholiques," Amsterdam, 1756, though there are some pregnant paragraphs in Ranke, "Die Römischen Papste," which will repay consultation.

THE Council of Trent is one of those great epoch-making events which stand out prominently in ecclesiastical history, and exert an abiding influence upon its whole subsequent course. It was the last of a long series of synods dating from the Great Schism of 1378, and intended to deal with the evils produced not only by that disruption, but also by the general dissolution of morals and of Church discipline which marked the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, to which was added, towards the close of the latter, a widespread spirit of unbelief fostered in no small degree by the classical studies eagerly pursued by the scholars of the Renaissance. The cry of "Reform of the Church in head and members" had been raised again and again in the fifteenth century, and as each great assembly was convoked hopes were entertained that some pruning of abuses universally admitted might take place. But Pisa, Constance, Basle, Florence, and the Lateran had seen the convocation, session, and dissolution of Church synods, claiming the title of General Councils, spread over the whole time between 1409 and 1517, and in more than one instance convened for the express purpose of reforming the Church, yet without effecting the redress of any evil with the single exception of the competition of rival pontiffs for the papal chair.

Although there had been no lack of plain speaking on the part of highly-placed and influential dignitaries and theologians as to the imperative need of dealing vigorously with the abuses rife in every quarter,--and how great they were may be readily learned from two documents of the greatest importance, "Sacri Romani Imperii Principum ac Procerum Gravamina Centum adversus Sedem Romanam," drawn up at the Diet of Nürnberg, in 1523, as a petition to Hadrian VI., the reigning Pope; and "Consilium Delectorum Cardinalium et aliorum Praelatorum de emendandâ Ecclesiâ, S.D.N. Paulo III. jubente conscriptum et exhibitum, 1538," both printed in Le Plat, "Monumentorum ad Historiam Concilii Tridentini Collectio," II., pp. 164-207 and 596-605,--yet the vested interests threatened were too powerful, the secularisation of the Roman Curia under the pontiffs who had sat from the death of Paul II. in 1471 till the accession of Hadrian VI. in 1522 too complete, for the voice of warning to carry conviction and lead to action. In particular, the virtual collapse of the Lateran Council after five years' duration, with no practical result whatever, but rather the stereotyping of former abuses, had made the hopelessness of voluntary amendment plain to all minds, and thus there was nothing to delay any longer the impending crash of the Reformation; and, in fact, its first overt act, Luther's publication of his Theses on Indulgences, took place on October 31, 5517, while the last session of the abortive Fifth Council of Lateran was upon March 16 of the same year. The revolt spread with rapidity, and within a few years the greater part of Germany, the whole of Scandinavia, more than half of Switzerland and Holland, and a powerful minority in France, Bohemia, and Hungary were in formal hostility to the Church of Rome; England was on the verge of revolt; while even in Spain and Italy preachers of the new doctrines found place and hearers, and it was an open secret that not a few of even the higher clergy who continued in the Roman obedience were inclined to favour some parts of Protestant teaching, and to desire a reform which should extend to doctrine as well as to morals and discipline. Every month's delay to apply some remedy promoted further defections and increased the mortal peril of the crisis to the Papacy. And from the nature of the case no remedy but a council promised to be of any avail.

Luther had appealed to a General Council from the pontifical condemnation of his doctrines, as well as from the imperial brief at the Diet of Speyer in 5529, when the famous "protest" was made by six princes of the empire and the deputies of fourteen cities, whence the name of Protestants derives and dates.

Not only so, but even earlier, the demand for a free council had made itself heard in Germany, while by the word "free" was chiefly meant that the council should not be held in Rome, since all experience had proved that synods assembled there had never been genuine deliberative bodies, but merely courts of registration for papal or curialist decrees prepared beforehand. Indeed, the German bishops, as in the days of Constance and Basle, went usually further in their definition of a free council, and objected to any synod to be held upon Italian soil, as unlikely to be really in possession of freedom in debate.

Consequently, the Diet of Nürnberg in 1523, when petitioning Hadrian VI. to summon a council, expressed a desire that it should be held in some German city, while a similar condition was attached to the appeal to a future council made at the Diet of Speyer; and at the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 the Emperor Charles V., who had been for some time endeavouring to induce Pope Clement VII. to comply with this demand, stated that the council would actually meet in six months, or within a year at furthest. But the feeling at the papal court ran very strongly against the assemblage of such a council as that asked for, most probably because, seeing how clearly the superiority of a General Council to the Pope had been asserted at Pisa, Constance, and Basle, even before any serious differences of theological opinion had manifested themselves, there was much reason to apprehend that a council wherein the new teaching found admittance or favour might go much further in this direction,--further even than the famous twenty-eighth canon of Chalcedon itself, and might not merely shear many cherished curialist prerogatives closely, but even shatter the whole fabric of papal monarchy, reared with such pains and ingenuity by the unwavering policy of more than a thousand years. And the disturbed condition of Europe served as a sufficiently plausible excuse all through the pontificate of Clement VII. for delaying to convoke the council. He professed his willingness to hold it in some Italian city outside the States of the Church, such as Milan or Mantua, and proposed that Charles V. himself should take part in it, as Constantine had done at Nice; nay, he went so far as to send a nuncio into Germany and an envoy to France and England in 1533 to arrange the preliminary negotiations. But whatever may have been his actual intentions, his death in ended all the plans set on foot so far, and the whole question had to be re-opened under his successor, Paul III. That Pope, however, at once a man of stronger character than Clement VII. and more alive to the real need of timely and effectual reforms, was readier to entertain the idea of a genuine investigation into the condition of the Church and into the demands of the Protestants and he proved his practical interest in both respects by appointing, three days after his election (October 15, 1534), and before he was crowned, a committee to deliberate on the time, place, and mode of procedure for a council, with orders to report to him in the first consistory after his coronation.

In that very consistory (November 13, 1534) he named another committee, consisting of six cardinals and three bishops, to draw up a scheme for the reformation of the Church in general and the Roman Curia in particular. This committee was superseded a little later by a still stronger one composed of Sadolet, Contarini, Fregoso, Badia, Reginald Pole, Aleandro, Caraffa (afterwards Pope, as Paul IV.), all of them cardinals then or soon after, and of Giberti, Bishop of Verona, whose report, already mentioned, was trenchantly plain-spoken, and attributed to the Roman Curia the greater part of the blame for the disordered condition of ecclesiastical affairs.

But while Paul III. was willing to hold a council, and even willing that it should be to some extent a reforming one, he was not at all inclined to forego the advantage of holding it in Italy, and to risk the perils of a German place of assembly. Accordingly, he sent Vergerio, who had been Clement VII.'s envoy in Germany, thither again, with directions to do what lay in his power to prevent the convocation of a national council such as was desired there, and to propose instead the city of Mantua as the place of assembly. The Catholic princes, with the exception of the Elector-Palatine, were ready to accept this proposal, but George of Brandenburg was the only Protestant sovereign in its favour, and it was peremptorily rejected at the Diet of Schmalkald, December 21, 1535, where the fifteen princes and thirty delegates of cities present declared that they would not attend or recognise any council held in Italy, or indeed outside Germany, least of all in a city whose sovereign was brother of a cardinal; that they had a warning in the death of John Huss of their probable fate if they did attend any such meeting; and that to insure its freedom it was essential that it should not be convoked or presided over by the Pope. And it is noteworthy that two of the ablest members of the committee of cardinals--Contarini and Pole--were of the same mind against the convocation of a council as those curialists who were most apprehensive of the reform of abuses or of the impairment of papal authority. They desired to see the task of carrying out the necessary reforms undertaken by the actually-constituted executive authorities, from a well-grounded belief that too many persons actively interested in maintaining abuses would sit among the fathers of a council for its deliberations to be other than abortive. Reginald Pole, besides, as the one non-Italian member of the committee, was as distrustful as the Germans themselves of an Italian majority in a council (see his "Liber de Concilio," Le Plat, III., 296-377), and therefore urged that the precedent set at Constance should be followed, and the voting be taken by nations, not by individuals. And being of royal descent himself, and thus more in touch with dynastic and civil ideas than his colleagues, he wished for more weight to be given to lay opinion, as represented by the sovereigns whose subjects were to take part in the deliberations, than would be the case if the ordinary routine of synods were followed. And on the other main division of the work in hand, the reconciliation of the Protestants, Sadolet, Contarini, and Pole were agreed that conferences, wherein Catholics and Protestants might meet less formally, and on comparatively equal terms, offered more hope of an amicable solution than a council, whose very constitution (apart from the obstacles interposed by official etiquette and conventional rules of procedure), limiting the right of session, deliberation, and voting to prelates of the Church, made it inevitable that the two parties in the controversy should come face to face as judges and accused, instead of on the footing friendly disputants,--the only one which could lead to any satisfactory result, or have the smallest prospect of being accepted by the Protestant party.

As the ambassadors of France and England at the court of Charles V. supported the Diet of Schmalkald in its attitude of resistance to the papal offer, Vergerio saw that he could effect nothing, and was recalled at his own request to Rome, where Charles V. on his return from his expedition to Tunis happened to be; and the result of the information the envoy laid before the Pope and the Emperor was that, after several interviews between these two, a consistory was held on April 8, 1536, at which the Pope proposed, and all the cardinals present agreed, that a council should be forthwith convoked at Mantua, and a committee of cardinals, with whom were associated Aleandro and Vergerio, was named to make the preliminary arrangements. But Vergerio recommended that Mantua should be only provisionally chosen, subject to the assent of the German princes, and also that the usual clause "According to the form of preceding councils" should be omitted from the bull of convocation, as likely to allay distrust on the part of the Protestants, and as warranted by the precedents of the hulls convoking the councils of Constance and Basle. This suggestion was adopted, but the Pope held steadily to Mantua as the place of assembly, and issued a bull on June 2, 1536, convoking the council thither for May 23, 1537, and at once despatched nuncios to the courts of Europe to notify the arrangement. But the Protestant princes, again assembled at Schmalkald, renewed their refusal to attend an Italian council, and Henry VIII. of England also rejected the invitation in still more decisive terms. Nor was the Duke of Mantua anxious to welcome his self-invited guests, fearing at once the cost and the possible disturbances they would occasion, and hence he declined to receive them unless the Pope would supply him with funds sufficient to maintain a strong garrison during the session of the council, a condition with which Paul III. refused to comply.

As it was difficult to make a new choice, the Pope contented himself with promulgating a bull upon April 20, 1537, proroguing the council till November, but without naming any place of assembly. After some troublesome negotiations, he obtained permission from the republic of Venice to convoke the council to Vicenza, which he accordingly did in a bull upon October 8, 1537, summoning the council for May 1, 1538. But when the time drew near, no response to the summons was evident from any quarter, and five days before the intended opening not a single bishop had reached Vicenza. Accordingly, the Pope, then at Nice endeavouring to effect a reconciliation between Charles V. and Francis I., issued a bull on April 28, 1538, indefinitely postponing the council, which he followed up with another on June 28 convoking it, and again at Vicenza, for Easter Day, 1539.

In the meantime, the breach between Catholics and Protestants was steadily widening, and a settled animosity taking the place of desire for reconciliation; and the Emperor, becoming aware that such was the case, changed his views as to the advisability of assembling a council, as he saw that the only probable result would be a formal condemnation of Lutheranism, which would merely increase the tension of the political situation without remedying the religious trouble, since there was no prospect of such a sentence being submissively received by those affected by it. He therefore asked for delay, and requested the Pope to send Aleandro as legate into Germany, to attempt a reconciliation between the contending parties. Paul III., finding that his second summons to Vicenza was as much disregarded as the former one, reluctantly agreed, and issued a bull on June 53, 5539, declaratory of his own desire for a council, the difficulties which had been thrown in his way, and the consequent necessity of another indefinite postponement.

Three years were then spent in fruitless negotiations and conferences at various diets of the empire, first at Hagenau, then at Worms, and thirdly at Ratisbon, where Charles V. himself presided, and Contarini, one of the ablest and best Churchmen of the time, eminent alike for learning, sagacity, and high character, was present as papal legate, with all but plenipotentiary power to make such explanations and offer such pledges as might seem best calculated to effect a reconciliation, without the sacrifice of any fundamental principles. The diet opened on or about April 5, 1541, and a conference of theologians was speedily arranged to sit simultaneously with it, under the presidency of the celebrated Granvella and of Frederick, Elector-Palatine. Granvella prepared a book of twenty-two articles as a basis of discussion, and, although several important points, chiefly those relating to the Church and the sacraments, seemed to admit of no agreement, yet there were very large concessions made to the Protestants on those questions of grace and justification which were dearest to the Lutheran teachers, and there was also some abatement of papal supremacy, and admission of the powers of councils in a larger sense than was allowed at Rome. But while these concessions were gladly agreed to by the Catholic princes, anxious for peace on any reasonable terms, they found less favour in the eyes of the bishops, who called for their instant rejection, as did Francis I. also, when the news reached him. The Emperor referred the disputants to Contarini, who was aware that he had himself gone considerably beyond the limits enjoined upon him by the Pope, since he had included amongst his concessions some points affecting papal prerogative, which the Roman Curia would certainly regard as fundamental, and was therefore in a very difficult position. Accordingly, he returned an ambiguous answer, saying, in general terms, that the whole question had better be left to the Pope's decision, either in the promised general council or in some other convenient manner; that in the meantime the hierarchy should begin actively to reform its own conduct, and should promote education, so a; to win over the Protestants; while he spoke of their theological opinions in studiously moderate language, such as might lead them to hope for an accommodation of the controversy upon highly-favourable terms. But this harangue, which he printed for distribution, was not welcomed by any of those to whom it was addressed, the Emperor regarding it as evasive, the bishops as conceding too much to the Protestants, and the Protestants complaining that it was worded so as to assume their approbation of sundry matters from which they profoundly dissented.

The Catholic princes, on the Emperor laying before the diet all the details of his negotiations with the Pope and the legate, urged him to renew his efforts to have a council, whether general or national, convoked somewhere in Germany, until which time provisional currency might be given to the theological conclusions just arrived at--most of which were embodied in the document which goes by the name of the "Interim of Ratisbon." But the Protestants declared that no council would satisfy them which should be convoked by or presided over by the Pope and the Curialists; while the bishops and a minority of the Catholic princes demanded the total rejection of the recent scheme of agreement, declaring that they could not allow of any change whatever in matters of religion, and that the whole question must be referred to a council for determination. The legate hereupon issued another allocution, guarding himself carefully from expressing any opinion on the merits of the eirenical proposals just formulated; but objecting to a national council, as opposed to a general one, for the final court of appeal in the matter, on the twofold ground that no one nation was empowered to decide controversies affecting the whole Church, and that such a condition also injuriously hampered the free action of the Pope, who, as head of the Church, ought not to be restrained in this way from acting in such manner as he might deem most conducive to the welfare of Christendom. To all which the Protestants replied that there were abundant precedents for local councils trying and deciding most important issues, and that while the Pope was undoubtedly first patriarch of the Church, that did not make him head of the Church and the councils, with sovereign authority to rule them at his pleasure. The Emperor, finding no means of bringing the disputants into harmony, dissolved the diet, counselling moderation to both parties, and promising to go himself to Italy, in order to press upon the Pope, in a personal interview, the absolute necessity of assembling a council speedily. He was as good as his word, and in a conference with the Pope at Lucca, near the close of 1541, made some progress towards the desired end. Paul told him, however, that the plan for holding the council at Vicenza had fallen through, since the Venetians had withdrawn their consent, and this necessitated an entirely new arrangement, which he would hasten upon his return to Rome.

He so far fulfilled his pledge as to send Giovanni Morone, Bishop of Modena, as his legate to the Diet of Speyer. in 1542, then presided over by Ferdinand, King of the Romans, to notify the speedy convocation of a General Council at Trent, a city of the Tirol (which might be regarded as neutral ground between Germany and Italy, and whose bishop was actually a Prince of the empire), provided the diet would accept it as the place of assembly. As King Ferdinand had himself suggested Trent for this very purpose some years previously, his consent was assured beforehand; and the Catholic princes and deputies also agreed to the proposal.

But the Protestants objected alike to the place and manner of convoking the Council. They said that Trent was too near Italy, and was, in fact, more Italian than German and that, as the Pope had openly taken up a partisan position in his bull of 1536, convoking a council at Mantua, declaring therein that the intent with which he summoned it was to root out the Lutheran heresy, they could not be expected to recognise him as a lawful judge or president of a council for discussing the merits of their cause, nor themselves attend it merely to hear, and in some sense ratify by their presence, their own condemnation. They raised the further objection that the right of summoning a general council did not vest in the Pope at all, according to ancient precedent, but in the Emperor, and that the contrary practice was an encroachment and usurpation which they declined to acknowledge as valid. But as Paul III., however genuinely desirous of effecting such internal reforms in the Roman Church as might allay the widespread irritation and disaffection among Catholics which were threatening its very existence, had no inclination whatever to make direct concessions to Protestantism, he paid no attention to this reiterated expression of Protestant objections, and on May 22, 1542, issued a bull indicting the Council to meet at Trent upon the festival of All Saints next following, November 1, 1542.

This bull is a prolix document, setting out at much length the delays which had been interposed to the realisation of the plans for holding a council, from the attempt in 5537 to convene one at Mantua down to the actual date of the bull itself, and throwing the blame on the political difficulties of the time, notably the Turkish raids and the conflict between Charles V. and Francis I. A phrase in the paragraphs devoted to this latter branch of the subject, wherein the Pope spoke of these rival monarchs as "the two main props and bulwarks of the Christian name," gave great offence to Charles V., whose dominions were just then vigorously assailed by the French King, and who complained that, whereas he had been the earnest advocate of a General Council, Francis had done all in his power to thwart the plan, while the Pope had been playing a double part with both of them, and fomenting their quarrel by making s offers to each, though it was his plain duty, if he meant to do any good, or to hold the Council at all, to proclaim Francis an enemy of the Roman Church. Francis I. retorted that it was not he whose army had sacked Rome and imprisoned the pontiff, while putting up hypocritical public prayers for his release; hut that he himself, on the other hand, had shown his zeal for the Holy See by issuing a severe edict against the Protestants in his dominions, and was more than willing that the proposed council should be held, though it could bring him no personal advantage.

The Pope sent envoys to the hostile sovereigns to appease them, and meanwhile appointed Cardinals Parisio, Morone, and Pole, on October i6, 1542, as his legates to open the Council at Trent, naming the first as an able canonist, the second as a practical statesman and man of the world, and the third not only as one of the most eminent Churchmen of the day, but as signifying that Henry VIII.'s revolt from Rome should not exclude England from the purview of the Council. Their instructions were to proceed at once to Trent, to notify their arrival to the courts of the sovereigns, and to publish the usual summons convoking those who were either bound or eligible to take part in general councils; but they were not to open the Council till the chief prelates had arrived from Italy, Germany, France, and Spain; and not even then till they obtained fresh instructions and powers from Rome. They were not able to reach Trent till three weeks after the date fixed for the assembly of the Council, and the precedent of Vicenza seemed likely to be followed; for scarcely any bishops were awaiting their arrival, and urgent injunctions had to be sent to the nuncios at the different Courts to press for more promptness on the part of the prelates, who continued to drop in so tardily that nothing could be done for a considerable time. Charles V., however, sent Granvella and Mendoza as his ambassadors to the Council; and on their reaching Trent on January 8, 1543, they desired the legates to open the Council at once and begin business; but the latter declined on the ground of the scanty attendance, and as this refusal was followed not only by the withdrawal of Granvella, but by that of those German bishops who had arrived, whose example was speedily imitated by the others, the legates found themselves almost alone at the end of seven months, and applied to the Pope to prorogue the Council, which he accordingly did in a bull Complaining of the obstacles which had been thrown in his way, quite as much by fears on the Catholic side of a searching inquiry into practical abuses as by distrust on the Protestant side of the theological results to be looked for from such an assembly.

This bull bears date July 6, 1543, when Paul III. was at Bologna, endeavouring, on the one hand, to engage the College of Cardinals in active measures of internal Church reform, and, on the other, arranging for an interview with the Emperor (then on his way from Spain to Germany through Italy), which actually took place at Busseto, a seat of the Palavicini, between Parma and Piacenza, when the Pope made large offers to conciliate Charles, promising to make a league with him against the French King, to create several cardinals on his nomination, and to place some fortresses in his hands. But, as the Emperor's demands went yet further, no agreement was arrived at, and the question of the Council was again postponed.

In a little while after, Charles V. allied himself with the excommunicated Henry VIII. against Francis I.; and, in reply to the angry remonstrances of the Pope, charged him with having been himself the secret ally of the Turks, with whom Francis I. was in open league; whereas Henry, though he had broken with the Roman see, was at any rate a Christian. This rejoinder did much to detach Paul III. from the Emperor's cause, and to induce him to reopen negotiations with Francis I. On the other hand, the emperor, in much need of political aid against his numerous enemies, convoked a diet at Speyer in February, 1544, at which he alleged that the plan for holding a general council had fallen through from no fault of his, and that the situation was so difficult as to make further delay dangerous, and some action then and there most desirable. Accordingly, the diet framed a decree that the Emperor should be empowered to name a commission of divines to draft a scheme of reformation; that the other princes of the empire should do the like; and that the several drafts should be laid before the next imperial diet to be held in the following November; and that, from a comparison of them, an interim should he drawn up, to hold good till the convocation of a council, whether general or national, but in either case on German soil.

Meanwhile, the edicts of Worms and Augsburg against the Protestants were repealed, universal toleration was proclaimed, and each party was assured the peaceable enjoyment of its places of worship and other ecclesiastical property in its hands, while the disabilities for public offices of various kinds which had been enacted against the Protestants were rescinded. These concessions, forced from the Emperor by his political necessities, were extremely distasteful at Rome, and drew forth a brief from the Pope, couched in terms of strong condemnation of the proceedings of the diet, though admitting that some excuse might be made for the Emperor personally, urging his own genuine desire for a true reformation of religious abuses, and demanding the repeal of the recent decrees, as meant to throw the work of restoring religious concord into precisely the worst hands for such a purpose, instead of remitting it to the proper tribunal, for whose sole cognisance he claimed it.

Charles V.--who had in truth made the Concessions merely to secure the aid of the Protestant princes, and who saw Clearly enough that he was buying that aid at the price of the Imperial power, fast becoming a mere shadow, so that it would be less costly for him to remove the occasion which made him dependent upon their goodwill,--made no such retort to the Pope as he had done formerly, but suddenly concluded a peace with France on September 18, 1544. The Pope at once ordered public thanksgivings to be made everywhere, sent congratulations to the reconciled monarchs, and issued a bull revoking the prorogation of the Council, and summoning it to meet at Trent on March x 1545. He named as legates the Cardinals Giovanni Maria del Monte (afterwards Pope Julius III.), Marcello Cervini (afterwards Pope Marcellus IL), and Reginald Pole; to whom were joined, as assessors, Canspeggio, Bishop of Feltre, San Felice of La Cava, and Musso of Bitonto. The second of these was the only prelate whom the legates, Del Monte and Cervini (Pole remaining at Rome), found awaiting them at Trent, whither he had, in fact, been sent to make preparations for them; and the two others were the only additional arrivals for some time, though Mendoza came from Venice as Imperial ambassador, and the envoys of Ferdinand, King of the Romans, speedily followed. But the same tardiness on the part of the bishops to present themselves which had already wrecked two inchoate councils again manifested itself; while the Viceroy of Naples issued a proclamation forbidding the bishops of that kingdom to attend the Council further than by sending four proxies thither. Hence the legates--themselves dissatisfied with their own private instructions, binding them to act only with the consent of the assembled fathers, which they thought an undue limitation of their very large and secret powers, and desirous, besides, of learning the result of the diet about to be held at Worms,--applied to the Pope for a fresh prorogation of the Council. He assented so far as to permit them to suspend the opening of the sessions, but forbade them to leave Trent, and issued a bull prohibiting the employment of proxies, and enjoining all bishops to attend personally, under severe penalties for disobedience,--a measure intended to force the hand of the Viceroy of Naples and to compel the withdrawal of his edict. He sent directions to the legates to open the Council on May 3 but when that day arrived, it proved impracticable to begin business, so scanty was the attendance, and so steady the secret opposition on the Emperor's part, since it was not expedient for him to break openly with he Protestants, who objected that the opening of the Council would involve the abrogation of the Interim of Ratisbon, and, most probably, the renewal of hostilities when that truce ended. And, in point of fact, Paul III. was then making private arrangements for another war of religion, and there is evidence that Charles V. was not unwilling to abet him therein.

In this strait, the legates were empowered to open the Council so soon as they judged expedient, without first communicating with Rome, but taking the opinion of Cardinal Farnese, then legate to the Emperor; and they quieted the few bishops who were assembled, and were beginning to tire of the delay, by setting them to work on the preliminaries for the transaction of business; while their numbers were increased by a steady, though slender, stream of arrivals, making the prospect of a numerous assembly more promising. Accordingly, the Pope held a consistory on November 16, 1545, in which it was decided to open the Council on December 1 and on December a bull to that effect was issued, together with a brief to the same effect addressed to the legates at Trent. The German bishops were permitted to appear by proxy, and a remission of tithes, as well as a licence to receive their revenues during their attendance at the Council, was granted to all bishops who should obey the bull of convocation.

Instructions were given to the legates to deal first with doctrinal questions, whatever opposition might be made to such a course, and to go thoroughly into all the matters in dispute, instead of confining themselves to general condemnations of errors; but they were to censure tenets only, not their authors or supporters, and thus to avoid delay by abstaining from trial and proof of the matter of fact as to the maintenance or propagation of heresy by any special persons. The question of practical reforms was to be postponed, yet not so long as to give ground for suspecting a desire to shelve it; but no direct action was to be taken upon it, and the Council was merely to collect information concerning the alleged abuses for the Pope's private cognisance. In particular, they were to give careful attention to any charges brought against the Roman Curia, and to report them accurately to the Pope. All documents expedited by the Council were to be attested by the signatures of all the legates, and by the counter-signature of the Pope himself, as the virtual head of the assembly; and the legates were also empowered to proclaim certain indulgences, though not in the name of the Council.

It will be seen that some of these regulations were such as to give colour to the distrust of the Protestants, and to furnish a defence for the fresh protest which they published, after the close of the Diet of Worms (August 4, 1545), against the impartiality, and, indeed, the legitimacy, of the Council; for the postponement of reform, and the revival of that very course regarding indulgences which had been the exciting cause of the Reformation, indicated clearly that the whole question was prejudged in the Pope's mind; while he, who was placed by the constitution of the Council in the position of supreme arbiter, was himself in his official character, they alleged, the accused who should be put upon his trial. The Emperor was so far convinced by these arguments that he wrote to the Pope in October, 1545, suggesting that the question of practical reforms should be dealt with first, and the theological debates relegated to the second place, and that the Council should be opened at once on this understanding. Paul III., who considered that this policy would be a virtual triumph for the Protestants, was exceedingly angry, but had too much tact to break with Charles openly upon this issue, and accordingly directed his nuncio to tell the Emperor that it should be as he pleased about the speedy opening of the Council, but avoided any pledges concerning the order of procedure, which, in fact, remained unaltered.

The brief enjoining the opening of the Council reached Trent on December ii, whereupon the legates announced a solemn fast with public prayers and processions for the morrow, to invoke a blessing on the undertaking, and also a general congregation of the assembled prelates, prior to the actual opening of the Council. It is noteworthy, as showing that distrust of the possible action of the Council was by no means confined to its Protestant opponents, that Pacheco, Bishop of Jaen, demanded on this occasion that, along with the public reading of the bull of indiction (usual in the first session of a Council), the brief appointing the legates and defining their powers should be read also; but Cardinal Cervini evaded the demand by alleging the great length of both documents, saying that it would be sufficient to read the bull removing the suspension of the Council and the brief enjoining its opening; so that, in point of fact, the hull of indiction was postponed to the second session, and the brief affecting the legates was not read at all, as they were by no means desirous of taking the Council into their confidence.


On December 13, being the third Sunday in Advent, the Council was formally opened in the cathedral, after the celebration of High Mass, and the proclamation of a plenary indulgence for all present, consisting of the three legates, four archbishops, twenty bishops, and the ambassadors of the King of the Romans; but as the legates had not even then received all their instructions from Rome, and the conciliar officers had not yet been appointed, the proceedings were merely formal, and the assembly was adjourned till the 7th January following, chiefly that the legates might communicate with Rome for the appointment of the high conciliar officers, and still more to obtain rulings on some important points of procedure, as, for instance, whether they were to begin with the discussion of heresies, and, if so, whether generally or particularly; when the question of reform came up, whether doctrine should be considered along with it, or which should have priority; what they should do if it were proposed to begin with the Roman Curia, as the general clamour on the subject made likely; and, above all, whether the voting was to be taken by nations or by individuals. On this last head the Pope returned a speedy reply, deciding in favour of the individual vote, saying quite truly that the vote by nations was an innovation first introduced at the Council of Constance and adopted by that of Basle, while all earlier precedents and practical convenience were in favour of the other method. And if the Pope had also in mind that certainty of an Italian majority in the Council which Pole desired to countervail by national voting, he can scarcely be blamed from his inevitable point of view. This was not the only question raised as to the mode of voting; for a debate arose as to the persons in whom the right of voting upon doctrinal issues vested--whether any but bishops were entitled to that privilege. The decision arrived at was that the generals of the religious orders should also vote, but that the three Cistercian abbots present should have but one joint vote, as representing a single order. A further ruling, calculated to weaken the German factor in the Council, was that in the case of bishops reasonably prevented from attending personally, the Pope should decide whether their proxies should be permitted to vote. The style by which the Council was to describe itself in its formal acts was also matter of discussion, since a powerful section of the French prelates, aided by a few Spaniards and Italians, desired to add the words "representing the Universal Church," which had been used at Constance and Basle, to the terms "Sacred and Oecumeriical"; but the legates, considering that this pointed to a revival of the claim of superiority for a general council over the Pope, succeeded in negativing it.

The following rules of procedure were laid down--The right to priority of hearing was annexed to hierarchical rank, the cardinal legates being entitled to speak first on any matter, next, other cardinals and papal nuncios present, then patriarchs, archbishops, bishops in order of seniority, abbots, and the generals of the religious orders last. Any member prevented by illness or otherwise from addressing the assembly in his regular order was to set down in writing whatever he meant to say, and it was to be read aloud by the secretary of the Council. The votes were taken singly, either orally or in writing, and counted by the secretary as official scrutineer in all the earlier stages of the council; but another scrutineer was added later, when the number of those present had largely increased, and towards the close of the sessions two notaries were further appointed to attest the voting. The result was communicated to the senior legate presiding, who, in the event of a unanimous vote, announced it to the assembly, and declared the decree carried. If there were a division of opinion, either as to passing the proposed decree at all, or modifying it, the presiding legate announced this also, mentioning at his pleasure the names or else only the numbers of the dissentients; and in case an amendment had been agreed upon by the objecting members, he specified its nature, whether by way of addition to or omission from the original motion. If any dispute arose as to the number of votes cast, the secretary read aloud the list, so that each member might ratify his own vote singly, or have it corrected if erroneously entered. Care was taken to ensure ostensible freedom of debate, and speakers whose language excited disturbance and protest were protected by the presidents from attempts to silence them by clamour, although the legates did not consider themselves bound to respect liberty of speech, and often interfered to check it, haughtily brow beating prelates who displayed independence, as is plain even from Massarelli's minutes of the debates. Moreover, this freedom of debate was much more apparent than real, being held seriously in check by the system of "congregations" or committees, entirely controlled by the legates, to which most of the business and all preliminary discussion was intrusted. These were of several kinds--the general congregations, analogous to Parliamentary committees of the whole House; congregations of theologians, composed of the most learned divines, to whom difficult doctrinal questions were referred as they chanced to arise, notably in the wording of proposed decrees; congregations of canonists, to whom decrees touching reformation were similarly referred; three special congregations, or "classes," which prepared the rough drafts of all decrees intended for submission to the main body, in order to facilitate and expedite the transaction of business, but which were found to produce the contrary result, so that they were discontinued after the fifth session, never to be resumed; and congregations of "minor," that is, non-episcopal, theologians, whose duty it was to examine beforehand all matters in debate between Catholics and Protestants, as set down in the controversial writings on each side, and to report there upon to the Council previously to any formal debate.

Besides all these, there were sub-committees (deputationes) of bishops appointed from time to time to deal with questions which could not conveniently or without loss of dignity be discussed by the whole Council, and these sub-committees were practically nominated by the legates, only one or two instances to the contrary being recorded, while their action was in no case final, but needed the assent of the whole body to give it validity. [There is an important memoir on the procedure at Trent by Francisco de Vargas, attorney-general in Spain to Charles V., in which all these details and several others are Set forth in full, asserting that what with these rules and the crafty dissimulation of the legates, the Council was effectually gagged and bound, though left nominally free, and that he saw no difference between assembling the fathers in such a fashion and the Pope holding the Council at Rome with nobody save his own immediate retainers ("Lettres et Mémoires de Francois de Vargas," pp. 34-48. Amsterdam, 1699).] The ambassadors of the sovereigns were allowed to be present at the general congregations, and to state orally or preferably in writing anything which their masters desired to have said in respect of any measure before the Council, but they had no consultative, much less legislative, voice; while, to avoid disputes and jealousies, it was arranged that precedency should be given them in the order of their individual arrival and presentation of their credentials, without regard to the relative importance of the States which they severally represented.

The Pope nominated Achille de Grassi as advocate of the Council, and Ugo Buoncompagni (afterwards Pope Gregory XIII.) as abbreviator (the notary or registrar), while the Council itself elected Pighelli, auditor of the Rota, as judge, and Angelo Massarelli as secretary, an office he co to discharge till the close of the earlier of the two really distinct synods,--distinct in date, composition, character, and procedure,--which are jointly known as the Council of Trent.

Before entering upon the active proceedings of the Council, it is expedient to account for the unconciliatory attitude it adopted, even in its earlier and more liberal stage, towards the Protestants. First, then, it had become evident, during the era of conferences which preceded the assembly of the Council, that no hearty desire for a reconciliation was entertained by either party in the dispute. A few peaceably-disposed and moderate men on each side did, indeed, respond to overtures, and propose solutions of the problem; but they never commanded the assent or influenced the action of the main bodies, so that nothing came of their efforts. Moreover, the Reformation itself, as is the nature of all revolutions, had advanced much further on the road of innovation than it had done when reunion was still thought probable. The original Lutheran movement had been far outstripped in completeness of revolt from mediaeval Christianity by the types of reform severally headed by Zwingli and Calvin; while the "Institutes" of the latter put a system of theology forward which, for unity of conception, logical acuteness and cogency, wideness of range, and exhaustiveness of treatment within the limits set by the author, was no unworthy rival to the "Summa" of Thomas Aquinas, and at once exercised such a fascination over a large area of Protestant Christendom as to be clothed with an authority and influence well-nigh supreme, and not finally discredited till far within the present century.
Wherever the "Institutes" had once been accepted as a conception of the Christian religion, no hope of bringing about any accommodation between the men of the Old and of the New Learning could be entertained for a moment. Nor was even Lutheranism what it had been when the "Confession of Augsburg" was framed and tendered to the world as an exposition of its principles. The "Articles of Schmalkald," issued in 2537, and adopted at once by the Protestant League, were raised by the Lutheran divines to the rank of a symbolical book, on a level with the earlier document; but their tone, language, and teaching marked increasing divergence from the current Latin theology, and especially on those very points affecting the Church and the sacraments which from the first had been excluded by the Roman Catholic authorities from the area of possible concession.

Thus, while the "Confession of Augsburg" claims for its signatories that they continued lo members of the Roman Church, and merely desired the removal of abuses, as other unquestioned Catholics had done before them, and alleges that it is a slander to charge them with abolishing the Mass, seeing that they continue to celebrate it with the highest reverence, and with scarcely any variation even in ceremonial, save that German homilies were occasionally added to the customary Latin ones; contrariwise, the "Articles of Schmalkald" denounce the Mass as a "horrible abomination, and chief amongst Popish idolatries"; while the Pope is alleged to be working the ruin of the Christian Church by means of "arrogant, lying, blasphemous, and stolen authority, employed in merely devilish acts and institutions." Moreover, the Anabaptist revolt, with its wild visions of a communist theocracy, though stifled in blood and fire at the storm of Münster, when John of Leyden's short-lived kingdom fell, was an ominous token of what might follow from any abandonment of the old ways; and the rise of Antinomianism within the bosom of Lutheranism itself showed that even Luther's commanding personality was insufficient to control the forces he had set ill motion.

To all this threatening aspect of Protestantism outside Italy, and affecting every member of the Council alike, must be added the special circumstances of the abortive Italian reformation, which naturally had much weight in rendering the Italian prelates averse from admitting any serious departure from a rigidly conservative attitude. The Italian temper was then specially addicted to subtle speculation, and the paganising influence of the Renaissance fostered this habit amongst the learned; one result of which was, that while the Reformers in Germany and even in France addressed themselves mainly to practical scandals, or to tenets which occupy but a secondary rank in theology, many of the Italians (following the lead of the Spaniard Servetus) assailed the fundamental articles of the creed; and, in particular, Bernardino Ochino was the forerunner of the Sozzini of Siena, the founders of modern Unitarianism. Hence, although Contarini, Giberti, Sadolet, Caraffa, and Pole, to name no others, had been members of the "Oratory of Divine Love" at Rome, which had made some tentative movements towards reform, the few survivors of that school who lived to see the opening of the Council were all so alarmed by the spread of opinions with which they were wholly in disaccord as to be driven back into the arms of the curialist party on the main issues before the Council for deliberation. The intellectual predominance of the Spanish factor in the Council contributed to the same result; and foremost amongst the Spaniards themselves were Diego Laynez and Alfonso Salmeron, members of the newly-instituted Company of Jesuits, who, together with their colleague, Peter Faber, were named by the Pope as his theologians, and had much influence in framing the definitions and decrees, and that in the direction of the Counter-Reformation whose official champions they were.


The second session, like the first, was little more than formal. It was held on January 7, 1546, and began by the secretary reading to the assembled fathers, in the name of the legates, a long exhortation addressed to them by Pole (Le Plat, I., 38-46); after which the brief for opening the Council and a bull prohibiting the votes of proxies were also read, and a closing exhortation upon the manner of life to be observed during the Council. When this last was put to the vote, some of the French, Spanish, and Italian bishops raised anew the question as to the title of the Council, demanding the insertion of the words "representing the Universal Church," but the point was reserved for discussion at the subsequent congregation, when the legates succeeded in stifling it, but only by the compromise of adding the words "Oecumenical and Universal" to the style of the Council.

A more practical matter came for debate at this same congregation whether reformation of discipline or questions of doctrine should have priority of consideration. The Pope had already determined that doctrine should be taken up first; but the Emperor was as deeply pledged to the opposite view, and the Cardinal-Bishop of Trent, as a Prince of the empire, warmly supported his sovereign's contention, and alleged that nothing was so likely to reclaim the heretics as amendment of life and manners among the clerical body. Cardinal del Monte, seeing that the majority was likely to accept this view, adroitly checkmated the Bishop of Trent, a great pluralist and a man of lavish personal expenditure, by offering to divest himself of the see of Pavia, and to reduce his household to a frugal standard, that his example might be followed by others. This was warmly applauded, but at once brought about a partial retractation from the Bishop of Trent, who, like many others present, had no mind to adopt the course thus pointed out, so that the effect of his speech was heavily discounted, and the legates agreed upon a compromise suggested by the Bishop of Feltre, that some point of reformation should be taken up along with a doctrinal question for decision in each session,--a plan adhered to thenceforward, though not without much difficulty in procuring the Pope's assent, in the absence of which it was not made a formal decree.

But to prevent any such joint action on the part of the members of the Council as might enable them to outvote the legates in the preliminary committees, it was arranged, on the plea of securing quiet and expedition, that they should be divided into three groups, each of which was to meet separately at the house of one of the three legates; and not until they had discussed the matters in hand in this divided fashion were they to review the debates in a general congregation, prior to the formal session whose business it was to frame the decrees. In this manner, as Palavicino admits, the risk was averted of any one speaker being able to carry the whole Council with him, for two-thirds of the members would never have the opportunity of hearing his arguments.


In the third session, held upon February 4, 1546, the only business transacted was the promulgation of a decree alleging the Constantinopolitan Creed to be the symbol of faith acknowledged by the Roman Church, and directing its audible recitation by the Council in its special wording, as being "that firm and only foundation against which the gates of hell shall never prevail,"--a gloss upon the famous text, St. Matt. xvi. 18, which has a noticeable bearing on some later utterances of the Council.

One motive which may have suggested this public recitation and adoption of the ancient creed (which some members regarded as a mere ceremonial act, marking no real progress in the business before them) was to lay down a basis for the reconciliation of Protestants by stating those points of belief wherein they were for the most part in accord with the Roman Church, before proceeding to enlarge on the points of difference between them.

Before the opening of the fourth session Martin Luther died, on February 18, 1546, and some other events of religious interest had occurred in Germany. On the one hand, Frederick II., Elector-Palatine, at the beginning of the year 1546, had conceded the use of the cup to the laity, prayers in the vulgar tongue, and the marriage of priests within his dominions, though his open breach with the Roman Church and formal adhesion to Lutheranism did not take place till somewhat later. On the other, a conference attempted at the Diet of Ratisbon by the Emperor had fallen through,--a result to which both parties seem to have contributed equally, though the actual step of breaking up the conference was taken by John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, who recalled his theologians, whose departure was followed by that of their colleagues.


In the fourth session, which opened upon April 8, 1546, the real business of the Council began, and the first overt act of the final rupture between Latin and Teutonic Christianity occurred. The Council had before it these propositions on the Lutheran side that Scripture, as distinguished from unwritten traditions, contains all necessary Christian doctrine; that it is sacrilegious to assert the equality of tradition with Scripture that the deutero-canonical books are not part of Scripture; that recourse to the original texts is essential to the correct understanding of Scripture; that the Vulgate translation is full of errors; and that Scripture is easy and clear, needing neither gloss nor comment, but only piety in the reader, for its proper understanding. And some of the reformers went further still, by rejecting other books from the canon. Accordingly, it was agreed at the congregation held before the fourth session that the canon of Scripture should be the subject of the next discussion and decree; but there was much difference of opinion on three subsidiary questions suggested by the legate Del Monte: (1) Should all the books of the Old and New Testament, as usually reckoned, be approved and received? (2) Should there be a fresh examination into the evidence for their several canonicity? (3) Should any distinction be drawn between books read only as moral lessons and books used to prove doctrines? And besides these complications affecting the matter of the future decree, a further question arose as to the expediency of pronouncing an anathema against such as excluded the deutero-canonical books from the canon.

In connexion with these points of debate, a new factor in the Council appears for the first time, namely, theological congregations, composed of learned divines not eligible by their hierarchical rank to sit and vote in the Council, but competent as experts to advise the members upon dogmatic and canonical problems as they came up for solution.

Such a congregation, twenty-seven in number, assembled on February 20, 1546, to consider the canon of Scripture. The result of their deliberations was that, of the three questions named above, the first alone was decided at once in the affirmative; the third, which found little support, was dropped; and a compromise was agreed upon in respect. of the second, that there should be a private examination into the canonicity of the books of Scripture, but that its results should not be made public in the acts of the Council; and a majority of twenty to fourteen pronounced for anathematizing such as refused to accept the deutero-canonical books.

The rule of faith, and the place of tradition therein, was another topic for discussion prior to the fourth session, and gave occasion to much debate; notably whether those traditions which should be held binding ought to be specifically named, or only approved in general terms, and whether the term "apostolic" should make part of the wording of the decree, seeing that it would implicitly exclude all later traditions currently accepted; while Naclantus, Bishop of Chioggia, contended that no mention of traditions should be made in the decree, as being unnecessary, and that many of the traditions which would be made binding by a general mention in the decree were both useless and burdensome to Christians, while it was "impious" to put them on an equality with Scripture. He also called in question the authorities which had been alleged in favour of the deutero-canonical books. Although some other speakers sided with Naclantus, notably Marinari, one of the ablest theologians of the time, the legates, especially Pole, resisted the proposal on the ground that this would amount to an admission that the Protestants were right in their main contention against the Church, and that the whole cause of ecclesiastical discipline and of Church ceremonial was so indissolubly bound up with tradition that it could not be defended against attack without such aid.

On the question of abuses connected with Scripture, the variety of editions, the inaccuracy of texts, the conflict of interpretation amongst preachers, and the unauthorised annotations appended by unlicensed printers to some editions, were specified as calling for a remedy; though some voices were given in favour of reasonable liberty in the explanation of Scripture.

On the point of vernacular translations, Cardinal Pacheco, Bishop of Jaen, spoke strongly against them as an unmixed evil, while Cardinal Madrucci, Bishop of Trent, alleged that to forbid them would do great mischief in Germany, and give a handle to the enemies of the Church to charge her with taking the Gospel away from the people. It was decided that nothing should be said On this matter in the decree, and the actual form it took was that all the books ordinarily found in the Vulgate (except Esdras III. and IV.) were to be received as canonical Scripture, under pain of anathema to recusants; that the unwritten traditions received from the Apostles should be accepted under the like penalty; that the Latin Vulgate should be declared the standard text, it being privately agreed on, but not mentioned in the decree, that the Pope should be petitioned to have a correct and revised edition issued; that no one should interpret Scripture contrary to the sense held by the Church, or against the unanimous consent of the Fatheus, even if not purposing to make such interpretations public; and that no unlicensed editions of the Scripture should be printed, nor any with anonymous annotations or glosses, nor yet any anonymous books whatever upon religious topics, under pain of fine and anathema, to be extended to the lending and circulation of manuscript copies, and even to the possession or perusal of such copies, whose owners or readers were to be treated and punished as their authors in case they failed to disclose the true author's name. The approval and licence of the ordinary alone should exempt from the operation of these penalties, such approval to be given without official fees.

The decisive manner in which this decree,--passed by no more than forty-nine bishops, few of whom were known as learned or able,--negatived the demands of the Protestants, and, as it were, declared war against them, at once drew forth a number of protests against the Council, amongst which Melanchthon's was the most noteworthy, as well as many criticisms on the wording of the decree; while the Emperor was much disturbed at the anathemas attached to it, which he thought certain to increase the hostility of the Protestants, and therefore directed his ambassador to oppose. On the other hand, the Pope, who had hitherto paid little attention to the proceedings of the Council, took alarm also, and, after increasing the numbers of a committee of consultation he had appointed, sent orders to the legates, on the advice of this committee, to publish thence forward no decree in any session, nor even to propose it in any congregation, till it had first been submitted to and approved by himself; to spend no time over points which were not in controversy, as they had just been doing; and to permit no debate whatever as to papal authority. The legates promised obedience, but ventured to point out that the Pope was in error on the second head, inasmuch as considerable differences of opinion existed on matters which he supposed to be undisputed. They also referred to him that phrase, "representing the Church Universal," which many members of the Council pressed to have added to its style, and suggested that if he would consent to allow it, with the further addition of the words, "through the agency of the Pope" (mediamo summon Pontifice), the apparent concession would be a substantial gain; and they had no doubt of being able to carry this rider.

The action which Paul III. took at this time against Hermann von Wied, the reforming Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, whom he excommunicated as a heretic, and declared incapable of continuing to claim allegiance from his subjects, increased the distrust with which the Lutherans viewed the Council; for they remarked that the Pope, by condemning the archbishop as a heretic before the Council had decided what was heresy, had shown how little real power that Council was meant to have, and that their own condemnation would thus be the only result they could look for if they gave it any recognition. On the other hand, the Emperor was indignant at this summary sentence upon a Prince of the empire, and refused to acknowledge its validity, continuing to treat Hermann as still lawful archbishop, but not his coadjutor, whom the Pope had proclaimed as his successor in the see and principality of Cologne.

Before the fifth session an attempt was made by the Bishop of Astorga, supported by Cardinal Pacheco, to recover for the members in general the power of originating proposals in the Council, which the legates had arrogated to themselves exclusively, alleging, truly enough, that this restriction was not only a new departure, but seriously interfered with each bishop's freedom to bring the affairs of his own diocese forward for discussion, even when desirable. However, no concession could be wrested from the legates then, nor, in fact, till the very close of the second Council of Trent in 1563, when Pius IV. conceded the point in dispute, and granted the members a joint initiative with the legates.

SESSION V., JUNE 17, 1546.

Also, prior to the fifth session, Don Francisco de Toledo, Imperial ambassador, urged strongly the need of proceeding at once to questions of reform, and the unwisdom of exasperating the Protestants by anathemas. But no attention was paid to him by the legates; and the fifth session, attended by sixty-six cardinals, bishops, abbots, and generals of orders, which opened upon June 17, 1546, was confined to passing--(1) a decree upon the doctrine of original sin, somewhat indeterminately worded, and containing a clause to the effect that the Blessed Virgin was not included in the scope of the decree, which was a compromise between the efforts of the Franciscans and most of the Spaniards to have her immaculate conception decreed, and the desire of the Dominicans to have the contrary view of their great theologian, Thomas Aquinas, asserted;--(2) a second decree, alleging the existence of a limbo for unbaptized infants, and defining the nature and effects of baptism;--(3) that in all churches where an endowment for a readership in Scripture was founded, but had been suffered to lapse into disuse, such lectureship should be compulsorily revived, the holder of its endowment being obliged, personally or by competent deputy, to fulfil the annexed duties; while in all great churches where no such endowment already existed, the first prebend falling vacant otherwise than by resignation, and not attached to some incompatible obligations, should be devoted to the same purpose; but in poorer churches it should suffice to endow a teacher of grammar, as preparatory to the study of Scripture, and a Scripture lectureship was also to be set up or revived in all monasteries and colleges;--(4) that all prelates and persons having cure of souls were bound to preach; that incumbents failing to do so for three months after monition should be compelled to fulfil this duty, and that the bishop might pay a deputy out of the revenues of the benefice; and that regulars, especially of the mendicant orders, should not preach anywhere without licence from their own superiors, nor in churches not belonging to their order without the licence of the bishop of the diocese, who was also to have general control over all preachers within his jurisdiction, and to inhibit and punish them if found propagating false doctrine.

This decree fell very short of the proposals made by Martelli, Bishop of Fiesole, who desired a much more trenchant restriction of the regulars, on the ground of their encroachments upon the functions of the bishops and the secular clergy; but as the exemptions which gave them opportunity for such encroachments were all papal grants, and partly intended to lessen episcopal independence, the legates resisted his proposal vehemently, and even obliged him to apologize publicly for having advanced it.

Immediately after this fifth session a treaty between the Pope and the Emperor was concluded at Rome by the Cardinal-Bishop of Trent, whereby it was agreed that the Emperor should levy war against the Protestants w refused to acknowledge the authority of the Council, make no treaty whatever with any of the Schmalkald League, nor permit anything in his dominions contrary to the Roman Catholic religion, unless with the express sanction of the Pope or his legate; while the Pope, for his part, was to contribute funds to the cost of the war, maintain a force of 12,000 infantry and 500 cavalry for six months, and allow the Emperor, for the current year, half the Church revenues of Spain, with leave to alienate 300,000 crowns from the revenues of the Spanish and Italian monasteries.

The view taken by the legates at Trent of this declaration of war was that it was a call on them to proceed boldly in condemning Lutheranism, rather than attempt any conciliation, for that nothing could be hoped from Germany so long as peace lasted, but that the decrees of the Council, if only made strong and explicit enough, and if backed up by force of arms, and with the Emperor himself as their executor, would effectually crush Protestantism. On the other hand, two of the Protestant princes, John Frederick of Saxony and Philip of Hesse, though probably unaware at this time of the treaty at Rome, declared the Emperor's proclamation of war against them as political rebels a mere blind to conceal the religious motive, that dissension might thus be sown amongst the confederate princes, who could then be singly overpowered; and they pointed to the significant fact of the contributions made by the Spanish bishops to the cost of the war, which they truly said would never have been granted for a merely political campaign.

These events directly bear upon the sixth session of the Council, wherein the doctrine of Justification, the very keystone of Luther's whole system, was discussed. In the preliminary congregations, Cardinal Pacheco pointed out the inherent difficulty of the subject, and the lack of literary and conciliar decisions upon it, which threw the Council upon its own resources, and thus necessitated very careful and full examination; and he complained that while this, and the scarcely less thorny practical question of episcopal residence, had to be settled, yet instead of fresh accessions to their numbers coming to their aid, many of the members had already deserted the Council, and not a few of those who continued in Trent came to give their votes without having taken the trouble to hear the debates, and thus in entire ignorance of the merits of any given decree; while he wound up by carrying a regulation that no member of the Council should thenceforward quit Trent without a pass from the legates, who declared that they had thus far given no permission to those who had quitted the city. Pacheco's counsel was also followed upon the theological issue, and the debates upon justification recorded by Massarelli are very full and painstaking, exhibiting much variety of opinion in respect of several amongst the twenty-three propositions extracted from the writings of Luther, Zwingli, and other reformers, which served as the basis for discussion.

So much time had to be devoted to this subject that the session for the promulgation of the decree was put off till the beginning of the ensuing year, 1547. Meanwhile, the

Emperor had put the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse under the ban of the empire as rebels and traitors, whereupon they took the field against him with a large army, but indecisively. The outbreak of hostilities, however, and the appearance of the Protestant army on the borders of the Tirol, with the march of the Italian forces under Ottavio Farnese, so alarmed the fathers at Trent, that attempts were made to break up the Council or to transfer it to some other city. Even Cardinal Cervini himself; one of the legates, was so much in favour of dissolving the assembly as to be threatened by the Emperor with death if he persisted in thus interfering with the imperial designs; while the Pope permitted a compromise, by a partial suspension of the sessions, so that little business, even of a preliminary kind, was got through in the summer and autumn of 1546. Towards the close of that year, Charles V. obtained important successes over the Protestants, and thereupon resumed his former attitude of toleration, which at once alienated the Pope, who withdrew his troops and the subsidy from the Spanish Church, besides writing to the legates to delay no longer in publishing the decree upon justification, mainly levelled against Lutheranism.


Accordingly, the sixth session, in which this was done, was held on January 13, 1547, and a large majority voted for the new decree, though it is recorded that a minority, not contemptible either in numbers or in ability, inclined to at least partial acceptance of Luther's statements, Pole himself being amongst its members, and so much so that immediately after the decree was passed he quitted the Council, and never returned to it.

This decree closed the road definitely against any possible reconciliation of the Lutherans, and, though resting on a mere logomachy as to the definition of justification, has been regarded by them ever since as an insuperable barrier between them and the Church of Rome. Something was done in this same session in the matter of reformation, by decrees enacted against non-residence, one of the most crying evils of the Mediaeval Church. Heavy penalties were enacted or revived against beneficiaries of all ranks, from metropolitans downwards, who habitually absented themselves from their posts, and similar measure was dealt out to regulars living outside their monasteries, even if pleading privilege of exemption. Bishops were enjoined to hold frequent visitations, and to abstain from intrusion into the dioceses of other prelates.


The seventh session quickly followed the sixth, being held upon March 3, 1547 and published a series of anathemas against various Protestant statements upon the number, nature, and efficacy of the sacraments, together with some rules intended to check pluralism, and to regulate certain details as to ordinations and promotions. But while the Council was docile enough in fulminating anathemas against Protestant tenets, it began to show itself impatient of the trammels imposed upon its action by the legates, and the Spanish bishops, in particular, possibly at the instance of the Emperor, showed themselves inclined to resist, and to press on the question of practical reform much faster than was approved by the Curia. They were supported in the main by the French and German bishops, and this coalition so far weakened the Italian factor, and appeared so to threaten papal authority, already endangered by the commanding position which Charles V. had attained, that the Pope thought it expedient to lessen the peril by bringing the Council more within the sphere of his personal influence.


Accordingly, availing himself of a rumoured outbreak of contagious sickness, to which a bishop and the general of the Cordeliers had fallen victims, he directed the legates to transfer the Council to Bologna, a city within the papal territories, and a decree to that effect was promulged in the eighth session, upon March 11, 1547. It was, however, disregarded by the bishops of the Emperor's party, who remained at Trent after the legates had quitted it with the majority of the fathers, and declared that they would so remain till discharged by the Emperor himself.


But, although much effort was employed by the Pope to achieve an effective translation of the Council into papal territory, after the successful precedent of Eugenius IV. in checkmating the Council of Basle, it was felt that nothing could be done at Bologna, in the absence of many leading prelates; and, while the usual congregations were held, the Council was prorogued again and again in the merely formal ninth and tenth sessions, though a few accretions had come in (chiefly French, and the proxies from the Electors of Cologne and Treves), and the Pope had issued a brief of safe-conduct in order to induce attendance. Similarly, the bishops who remained at Trent forbore to meet in session or to perform any other conciliar act, lest they should be chargeable with schism, and thus a total suspension of the Council came about, to the great advantage of the Protestants, who clearly could not be called upon to submit to the rulings of an assembly divided against itself and virtually broken up; so that the Emperor threatened that, if the Pope did not re transfer the Council to Trent, he would go himself to Rome, and hold it there. On September 1, 1547, he assembled a diet at Augsburg, and as he had crushed the resistance of the Protestant princes earlier in the year by his great victory at Mühlberg, he found them more pliable than on former occasions, being ready to assent to a fresh Council at Trent, provided it were free, not presided over by the Pope or his legates, a deliberative voice conceded to the Protestant divines, a re-examination made of all the decrees passed so far, and a safe-conduct accorded to such as were willing to attend The Catholic members of the diet, except the ecclesiastics, assented to these conditions; and the Emperor, on his part, promised freedom of speech, safe conduct, safe residence, and safe return to such as would attend the Council, even if they were signatories of the Confession of Augsburg; and, finding that the Council had been formally transferred to Bologna against his express desire, took the matter of reconciliation into his own hands, by directing three divines, two Catholics and one Protestant, to draw up a formulary of agreement in twenty-six chapters, which was promulged at the diet on May 15, 1548, and is known as the "Interim of Augsburg." Although accepted by that assembly for the moment, and at least passively acquiesced in at Rome, it entirely failed of its object, and was rejected not only by the Protestant princes, but by the Catholics also, who published a formal answer to it, at the same time suggesting to Charles that he would be more usefully employed in dealing with the practical abuses and scandals of the Church; whereupon he issued a scheme of reform in twenty-two chapters, Covering nearly the whole ground of complaint, and dealing as trenchantly with the matter as was feasible without touching upon disputed doctrinal issues. All these documents are printed in Le Plat, IV., 32-101. This project, however, fell through as completely as the former, which found little support save from Melanchthon and his followers, who, though refusing to accept its utterances on points considered fundamental, were willing to allow of it in things non-essential and indifferent (adiaphora),--a distinction which gave rise to the warm and protracted debate amongst Lutherans themselves, known as the Adiaphoristic Controversy.

All these proceedings troubled the Pope, who endeavoured to heal the breach in the Council by inviting delegates from Bologna and Trent to meet in committee for the consideration of questions of practical reform; but, as the Tridentine section refused to stir without the Emperor's permission, nothing could be done in this way, and the failing health of the Pope made his advisers solicitous for the suspension of the Council, lest perchance the rival synods might elect rival Popes in the event of his decease, and thus renew the scandal of the Great Schism. Accordingly, he sent orders to the legate Del Monte on September 13, 1549, to suspend the Council, and dismiss the members, which was done upon September 17; while the fathers were at the same time informed that they were to meet at some future time to resume business, but that decrees affecting the revival of discipline should be enacted at Rome. However, Paul III. died on November 10, 1549, and the Council remained in abeyance for more than two years, as Cardinal del Monte, its first president, who was elected Pope on February 7, 1550, as Julius III., judged it inexpedient to recall the bull of suspension hastily (for the attitude of France was threatening, and the King seemed inclined to convoke a national synod, a step much dreaded at Rome), and he did not in fact issue the bull for its resumption till December 27, 1550, when he appointed it to assemble at Trent, as before, on May 1, 1551.

This bull was worded in terms calculated to give great offence to the Protestants, notably by its assumption that all the decrees so far enacted were final and irreformable, which directly traversed the conditions made at the Diet of Augsburg; but Julius refused to soften its language, though pressed to do so by the imperial ambassador; whereupon the Emperor retorted by promulging, in a diet at Augsburg, on February 13, an edict, calling indeed upon the Protestants of Germany to submit to the Council, but pledging himself that it should be conducted on Scriptural and patristic principles, and that safe conduct, residence, and return should be assured to all, however implicated in religious innovations or pledged to the Confession of Augsburg,--thus repeating almost verbally the promises he had made in 1547. This edict was angrily criticised at Rome by the Curia as being a rival bull, but Pope Julius took it more easily, and passed it off with the remark that it was only the Emperor's way of paying him off for his recent action, and they were now quits. As to the German Protestants, the fact that Charles V. had just established the Inquisition in the Netherlands by edict in 1550, and it had actively begun its ruthless work, apparently had more weight with them than his promises of a fair hearing and honourable treatment at the Council, so that no practical result came of the edict.

In a consistory on March 4, 1551, the Pope nominated Cardinal Marcello Crescenzio sole legate, but with two nuncios of equal authority conjoined in the presidency,--Pighini, Archbishop of Manfredonia, and Lippomani, Bishop of Modena,--who are therefore styled legates also, and were given precedence in the Council over Cardinal Madrucci, Bishop of Trent. The prelates then at Rome, eighty-four in number, were also directed to betake them selves to the Council.

SESSION XI., MAY 1, 1551.

The eleventh session was formally opened upon May 1, as appointed; but only thirteen bishops were present besides the three presidents, so that nothing was done save reading the bulls for the resumption of the Council and the nomination of its presidents, and passing a decree to prorogue the Council to September 1, 1551.


But when that time arrived, so few of the German bishops had reached Trent that it was judged expedient to prorogue the Council further till October 11. Yet the day did not pass over uneventfully, for Jacques Amyot, Abbot of Bellosane, appeared as envoy from Henry II., King of France (who was then on bad terms with the Pope by reason of a quarrel about the Duchy of Parma), bearing a letter addressed to the holy and reverend fathers of the "assembly" (conventus) at Trent. Massarelli tells us that when he, as secretary, read this superscription aloud, a regular tumult arose, and many of the fathers cried out that they could not receive such letters on any terms, as they were no mere "assembly," but a holy, general, and lawful Council. But the Arch bishop of Mainz asked them how, if they were so touchy about a word, they could hope to negotiate with the Protestants, who went further, and called them an "assembly of malignants"; while the legate, seeing that the disturbance was increasing and the likelihood of scandal great, caused the bishops to go apart to discuss the matter in private; and thus it was at last decided to receive the letter, but to do so under protest. Its actual contents were, however, much more serious in depreciation of the Council than even the invidious address.

In the mere introductory epistle to the fathers, King Henry treated them with marked courtesy, and requested them to bear in mind that the document forwarded with it did not emanate from any unknown, alien, or hostile source, but from the loyal eldest son of the Church, and the determined opponent of heretics. The schedule annexed, however, was couched in a very different style. After a prolix preamble, setting forth his grounds of corn plaint, and excusing himself for not sending the French bishops to Trent, because there was no free and safe road open to them, he alleged that, as he was thus excluded against his will from taking any part in the Council, it could not be accounted or styled a General Council of the whole Catholic Church, but rather a private council, assembled neither to reform and restore discipline nor to put down the sects, but merely to further the private interests of certain persons; and that neither he himself nor the French nation, nor any prelates and ministers of the Gallican Church, would be bound thenceforward by the decrees of such a Council; and that, if the need arose, he would himself have recourse to the same defensive measures as his ancestors, Kings of France, had been wont to employ in the like case (probably hinting at the revival of the Pragmatic Sanctions of Louis IX. and Charles VII., which had been abrogated by Francis I. in the Concordat of Bologna); and that nothing, after pure faith and religion, was dearer to him than the liberty and security of the Gallican Church;--though he did not mean thereby to imply any wish to refuse or diminish the respect and deference due from him to the Apostolic see; but would, contrariwise, strive daily to prove himself worthy of his titles of Most Christian King, Eldest Son of the Church, and Protector of the Faith. And he begged that this his protest should be entered upon the acts and made publicly known to the Christian world (Le Plat, IV., 236-242). No direct reply was made to this manifesto at the time, and Amyot was merely desired to be present on October 11 and the notaries were forbidden to enter the letter on the acts, unless in conjunction with the secretary, so that it was not so entered.

Meanwhile, the imperial ambassadors were pressing the Council to grant a free safe-conduct to any Protestants that might be willing to attend; for the Lutheran princes had reminded the Emperor how little the safe-conduct granted by his predecessor Sigismund had availed John Huss, and declined to trust themselves within the papal jurisdiction without a safe-conduct from the Council also, which was to be safe in fact, and not in name only. The ambassadors also urged delay in promulging decrees upon the Eucharist, especially as regarded lay communion in the chalice, as that was a point upon which the Protestants laid much stress, and which not a few high personages of both Church and State in Germany were willing to concede. The legates evaded any pledges on either head, though not openly refusing to concede the points, as the Pope did not negative them, being even willing to grant a delay of three months on the second of them; but they began the discussion of the eucharistic controversy in a congregation the very day following.

Although the French King's protest against the Council was not published, as he had desired, yet it was speedily noised everywhere; and though the imperialist party treated it as null and frivolous, on the ground that the majority of a council can bind the minority, and the French had been duly invited, so that they were alone to blame for any result of their absence, which could not prejudice the Council, contrariwise, the other side contended that an invitation which could not safely be acted on did not count; and that while, doubtless, a minority acquiescing tacitly is bound by the decision of the majority, such acquiescence was incompatible with a protest that the minority, though desirous of being present, was shut out by the act of the inviter, and that all proceedings in such enforced absence were invalid. The Parliament of Paris went still further iii this direction, alleging that the consent of all was necessary in matters affecting all, and that no council, however numerous, could bind absent Churches refusing to accept its decrees; but that such decrees required the assent of local Churches to give them local currency, and might be received in part only at the plea sure of such Churches. Shrewd thinkers who sided with neither party were yet of opinion that the French protest had seriously damaged the moral influence of the Council, not only as showing the lack of harmonious feeling there, but as issuing from a sovereign of such eminent rank in the Catholic world--zealous against the sectaries, and heartily supported by the great nation of which he was head. And Henry made the fact of the quarrel more widely evident by dismissing the papal nuncio, and stopping by edict the payments usually made to the papal treasury on account of graces or dispensations, enacting severe penalties against such as should pay them,--a measure which his attorney general alleged to follow precedents under Charles VI., Louis XI., and Louis XII., and to be based on the common law that money should not be carried to the enemy. At the same time, in order to prove his orthodoxy, Henry renewed the persecution of the Huguenots in his dominions. These events have an important bearing on the history of the Council, because they gave rise to sharp controversy on its validity as representing the Latin Church during the absence of the French contingent, and on the authority to which decrees were entitled which were promulged in that interval.

The congregation which assembled after the twelfth session had before it pressing instances from the Emperor, the Duke of Bavaria, and even the King of France, in favour of restoring the chalice to the laity, and permitting clerical marriage; and it had chosen for its own part the discussion of ten propositions concerning the Eucharist extracted from the writings of Luther and Zwingli. These were such as dealt with the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, with the reservation of the sacramental species, communion in both kinds, and the necessity of confession before communion.

Much insight into the inner history of the Council at this point is furnished by the letters of Vargas; and a long communication to the Bishop of Arras, written on October 7, 1551, while the congregation prior to the thirteenth session was debating, is particularly instructive. Its purport is that the Pope and the fathers of the Council were much afraid of the Protestants putting in an appearance, for they were not really prepared or fit to discuss the points in dispute with them; and that the legate had nearly gone out of his mind, and threatened to depart at once, when asked to delay any pronouncement on communion in both kinds,--notably when the ambassadors of the King of the Romans alleged that usage to be of divine right, and even Cardinal Madrucci urged strongly that it should be conceded. The ecclesiastical Electors of Mainz and Trier took the opposite view, and Vargas remarks that they were consequently in high favour; but that all who contradicted the legates were steadily decried. He also objects to the intended plan of making no reply to the Protestants, should they attend and state their case; for that would make their presence useless, and would not be inviting them to a council, but summoning them before a tribunal,--exactly the objection which the Protestants themselves had made long before to the competence of the Council.


The thirteenth session was held on October it, 1551, and eight dogmatic chapters, with eleven canons on the doctrine of the Eucharist, were promulged, asserting the real presence, transubstantiation, eucharistic adoration, reservation of the sacrament for the sick and for worship, and the necessity of confession before communion; all enforced by anathemas. It may be observed that, as the Fourth Council of Lateran in 1216 had defined the tenet of transubstantiation in precise terms, and it had been reaffirmed at Constance and Basle, it was virtually impossible for the fathers of Trent, from their standpoint, to reopen the question without admitting the whole Protestant contention as to the fallibility of the Church, and confessing that it had officially taught and imposed false doctrine, which is more than could fairly be looked for. There was, however, much debate as to the mode of the real presence, on details not conflicting with the main positions named, especially between the Franciscans and Dominicans, and, amongst other theologians, as to the necessity of confession before communion. Accordingly, the chapter on the former subject was worded so as to leave the point undecided, and to admit of acceptance by both parties; while the canon on confession, though taking the more rigid view, was somewhat modified and softened, and was the only one of the eleven not accompanied with an anathema attached to this clause, though there is one in an earlier part of it (possibly for the sake of symmetry) which deals with a different point.

A few canons on reformation, of no great importance, were also promulged in this session, the chief of them being one empowering a single bishop to depose a criminous priest, and another reserving the decision of grave episcopal causes to the Pope. Besides these enactments, there was also a decree for postponing the questions of communion in both kinds and the sacrifice of the Mass till the session after next, to be held on January 25, 1552, in order to give the Protestants time to arrive, and for granting them a safe-conduct. But a clause at the very beginning of this safe-conduct was so worded as to arouse lively distrust in the minds of those to whom it was offered. It ran "The sacred and general Synod of Trent grants, so far as regards the holy Synod itself (quantum ad ipsam sanctam synodum spectat), to each and every one throughout all Germany," &c.

The Protestants, not a little surprised at an assertion made by the Council, in the decree of prorogation, that they had expressed a wish to be heard before it, and had applied for this safe-conduct, interpreted the clause just cited as a trap to permit the Pope to override the safe-conduct, yet so as technically to save the credit of the Council; while another Clause at its end, which professed to grant the Protestants leave to nominate judges to try themselves for crimes past or future, even if such crimes should savour of heresy, confirmed their belief that the Council meant to treat them as criminals on their trial, not as parties to a conference; and they declared that no safe conduct less ample and clear than that granted to the Bohemians by the Council of Basle would content them. Vargas took exactly the same view of this safe-conduct, as appears from a letter to the Bishop of Arras, written the day after this session.

Another incident of the session exasperated the Protestants yet further. Envoys were sent to the Council by Joachim, Margrave of Brandenburg, the first of the Protestant princes who had thus recognised it, because he desired to procure a papal dispensation for his son Sigismund, a Roman Catholic prelate, to hold two incompatible bishoprics together; and therefore gave his envoys directions to propitiate the fathers by making large but vague promises of compliance on his part with the decrees of the Council, which was accordingly done by Christopher von Strassen, one of their number; while the Council, in its reply, interpreted his words as a formal act of humble submission on his master's part. The offence which this incident excited in Germany does not seem warranted by the wording of the reply, which went scarcely, if at all, beyond the speech which occasioned it, and was brief and formal, but may rather be ascribed to reports of the boastings of the ultramontane party in the Council, who saw in the attitude of the Margrave the promise of a like submission on the part of all the Protestant princes, and the coming recantation of the Confession of Augsburg. Finally, in this session, a reply to the French King's manifesto was read, cautiously worded, and intended rather to impress the general public than to settle any points which Henry had raised, but calling on the French bishops to obey the summons to the Council.

Immediately after this session a congregation was assembled to discuss the articles on penance and extreme unction extracted from Protestant controversialists--twelve on the former topic and four on the latter. Besides the debate between Roman Catholics and Protestants touching penance, there was another within the Church itself between Scotists and Thomists, as to the essential factors of that sacrament; and care had to be taken to word the decree so as to offend neither school, while the nature and value of that lower grade of regret for sin which is technically called "attrition," was also matter of discussion.


No serious difference of opinion upon the question of extreme unction arose; and in the fourteenth session, upon November 25, 1551, nine dogmatic chapters and fifteen canons upon penance, and three chapters with four canons upon extreme unction, were published, with the usual anathemas appended. The main points ruled were, that the sacrament of penance was instituted by Christ; is distinct from baptism in nature and design; consist of contrition, confession, and absolution; that the priest acts as a judge therein; and that the outer p or sign of the sacrament consists in the words of absolution. As regards extreme unction, it was declared a sacrament of Christ's institution, a permanent rite not having ceased to exist, duly administered by the Roman Church; and that the ministers of the rite are episcopally-ordained priests, and not merely the seniors in years of each community. There were also thirteen chapters on reformation published, dealing with criminous clerks and with beneficiary matters, salutary enough in themselves, but rather making the purport of former obscure or disregarded laws clear than applying fresh remedies to the evils of the time; so that Vargas, in a letter of October 28, 1551, when the details of the forthcoming decrees had become known, speaks slightingly of them, and charges the legate with merely playing at reformation, with a set purpose of doing as little as might be in that direction, and dealing with doctrinal questions only.

As complaints had been made by some of the theologians at the Council of the prolixity in the discussions on draft decrees, and of the methods of discussion also, three regulations were made to guide subsequent deliberations, as follows:--Theologians were to state their views tersely, and to base them on Scripture, apostolic tradition, councils, constitutions of Popes and the authority of ancient fathers, and the consent of the Catholic Church, avoiding all subtleties and disputatiousness; that the order of speech in debate should be--(1) the Pope's theologians; (2) the Emperor's theologians; (3) the divines from Louvain sent by the Duchess of Parma, Governor of the Netherlands (4). those sent by the German Electors; (5) secular clerics, according to their rank; (6) regulars, according to the rank of their order; and that the congregations should meet twice daily, morning and afternoon. Congregations guided by these rules at once assembled to deliberate on the sacrifice of the Mass, communion in both kinds, and the communion of children; and decrees were soon drafted on these subjects.

Meanwhile, Pleninger and Echlin, two Protestant envoys, despatched by the Duke of Würtemberg, arrived at Trent, bringing with them a doctrinal statement (the Würtemberg Confession), and saying that some theologians would be sent later to give explanations of it, if provided with a safe-conduct such as that granted by the Council of Basle. They made this representation to the Count de Montfort, imperial ambassador, who acted as their intermediary with the legate, whose reply, however, was that they were bound to communicate with himself first, as president of the Council. To this they rejoined that a positive pre-condition in Germany was that the Pope should not preside over the Council, whether personally or by his legate, and that they had no power to act in contravention of this stipulation without express licence from their sovereign, for which they would write, and await a reply. The legate sent to Rome to ask for directions, and while the point was still unsettled, the Emperor came to Innsbrück, only three days' distance from Trent, an event which helped to guide the policy of the Pope. For the Protestant envoys, foiled in their first efforts, applied to Cardinal Madrucci for his mediation, that they might present their letters; and being required to let the legate know beforehand what they were prepared to treat upon, replied that they simply wanted a safe-conduct like that of Basle, permission to lay a statement of their doctrines before the Council, and an understanding that it would be discussed with their divines when they arrived to explain it.

The legate, having meanwhile received his orders from Rome, replied that neither they nor any other Protestants could possibly be allowed to propound or defend their doctrine, which could only lead to endless disputes; while it was the function of the fathers of the Council to examine the books issued by Protestants, to extract propositions from them, and to condemn any erroneous ones. If the Protestants had any difficult and would state it humbly, showing themselves willing to receive instruction, the Council was ready to help them with its advice; but he could do no more for them than this, and would not assemble the fathers or receive the statement of Protestant doctrine, though his refusal should cost him his life; and ended by saying that the demand for a fresh safe-conduct showed insulting mistrust of the Council, which could not be tolerated, but must be firmly resisted. The attempts of both Madrucci and Montfort to bring about some accommodation were unsuccessful, and during the negotiations six more Protestant envoys arrived from Strassburg and other cities, speedily followed by the ambassadors of the Elector of Saxony, with whom were several theologians. These last demanded the Basle safe-conduct; the suspension and re of the proceedings; that the Pope should be withdrawn from the presidency of the Council, and be declared subject to it; and that the bishops should be released from their oath of fealty to him, that they might speak their minds freely. They were met with a categorical refusal on all these heads, though they were offered public audience, if they would acknowledge the authority of the legate and nuncios in the Council; and the legate was at last persuaded to receive them at a congregation held in his private house, on January 24, 1552, after a formal protest from the fathers that this should be without prejudice, and not serve as a precedent. There they renewed their demands, and argued that it was unjust that their doctrine, notoriously opposed to the Pope's, should be judged by his adherents.

Two letters of Vargas, dated December 7 and 29, I refer to this matter of the Protestant envoys, and inform us that it was the wish of the Pope and the legate so to disgust them that they should leave Trent, and that no more of them might arrive to stir up the question of reform, which the Pope desired to avoid by suspending the Council, as he probably could not end and dissolve it without suffering some drastic reforms to be enacted. Vargas states his own conviction that the opposition of the curia made it idle to hope for any genuinely practical reforms, and that it would have been better had the Council never met; but, seeing that it had to be dealt with somehow, continuance of its sessions was better for the interests of the Church, the Emperor, and the hopes of peace, than either suspension or dissolution. And in a letter written on January 27, 1552, by Pedro de Malvenda, a distinguished Spanish member of the Council, there is a significant passage which gives a further reason why the legate was desirous of dismissing the Protestant envoys promptly and quietly: "They say that there are important articles upon reform in the demands of the Würtemburg envoys. I see that several prelates are pleased therewith. They are glad that the Protestants propose these matters, of which the bishops dare not speak."


The fifteenth session was held upon January 25, 1552, but the only business transacted in it was the issue of a new form of safe-conduct, fuller and. less ambiguous than the earlier one, being conformed in the main to the pattern of the Basle document, with the significant exception of liberty of worship, and with a yet more remarkable clause, intended to dispel the distrust rooted in Protestant minds by the decree of the Council of Constance for the cancelling and violation of Huss's safe-conduct. It runs: "Yet further, it promises in true and good faith, all guile and deceit being excluded, that the said Synod will neither openly nor secretly seek for any opportunity, nor make use of, nor suffer any one to make use of; any authority, power, right, statute, or privilege of laws or canons, or of any councils whatever, especially those of Constance and Siena, under what form of words soever expressed, to the prejudice of this public faith and fullest security in any fashion, and of the public and free hearing granted by this aforesaid Synod to the above-named, and it derogates from the afore said councils in this instance and for this occasion." Two points are noteworthy here--the acknowledgment that the decree of Constance is genuine, whereas modern attempts have been made to get rid of its testimony; and the careful limitation of its disuse to this one occasion, leaving it available still for future use.

The Council was then prorogued till March 29, 1552. But events rapidly occurred which made it impracticable to meet for business then. Several Protestant envoys, relying on the new safe-conduct, came to Trent in February, 1552, and hopes were entertained of some operative progress in negotiation, but the fresh outbreak of the war in Germany, with the French King in alliance with the Protestants, changed the face of affairs. The Elector of Saxony headed the Protestant forces, and as the whole Tirol was up in arms, many of the prelates, including the Electors of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne, hastily quitted Trent, and the flight of the Emperor from Innsbrück completed the panic. The legate, too, fell seriously ill (he died at Verona on June 1), and the nuncios, who had already postponed the session to May 1, obtained a bull of suspension from Rome, and convened the Council two days earlier than the one fixed, holding the sixteenth and last session of the first Council of Trent on April 28, 1552.


Therein the bull, suspending the Council conditionally for two years, was read, and a decree in accordance there with carried, though twelve archbishops and bishops, chiefly Spanish, entered a protest against it on various grounds, and notably because of the scandal sure to be caused by Christian prelates, assembled for the good work of safeguarding the faith and purifying the Church, taking thought first for their personal safety, and fleeing like cowards from the mere risk of persecution.

As Julius III. was not desirous of reviving the Council, the two years' suspension came to an end without any bull of resumption being issued, and he died shortly after, on March 23, 1555. He was succeeded, on April 11, 1555, by Cardinal Cervini, a man of high character for ability and piety, who had been second legate at the original opening of the Council of Trent, and who took the title of Marcellus II. Great hopes were entertained from his election, as he had not contented himself, like many others, with talking of reform, but had set an example of devout and frugal living, and began to institute reforms in the papal court and household, hut died of apoplexy when he had sat only twenty-two days. He was succeeded, on May 23, 2555, by Paul IV., who, as Cardinal Caraffa, had been one of the committee of cardinals that submitted a report on necessary reforms to Paul III. in 1538, which report, however, he put on the Index immediately after his own accession.

An austere and strong-willed pontiff, Paul IV. at first set himself to the task of reformation, and suppressed or abated many minor abuses and scandals with resolution and promptness, though his nepotism made him speedily relax his efforts, and leave the government of the Roman Church to his evil-disposed nephews. But he was, before all things, an autocrat in temper, and had no mind to intrust a council with a task for which he thought himself a better agent, and a papal bull a better instrument; so that he took no steps to convene the Council anew, and, indeed, was so fervent an enemy of Protestantism that no concessions in that direction were endurable in his eyes; so that he was very indignant at the decrees of the Diet of Augsburg, in September, 1555, granting mutual toleration to Protestants and Catholics in territories severally under princes of the rival confessions, imposing no penalty on seceding priests save the forfeiture of their benefices, and confirming the Protestants in the possession of all ecclesiastical property they had annexed. He was still more incensed by the permission given by the Duke of Bavaria for communion in both kinds, and refused that and other reforms asked of him by the Polish ambassadors. He would hear of no Council save one at Rome, to which no Protestants should be admitted, even for consultation, and declared that he had always objected to Trent, as situated in the midst of Lutherans; while he made his sentiments yet more evident by reinforcing and stimulating the action of the Inquisition, which he introduced into Rome itself, appointing Cardinal Ghislieri (afterwards Pope Pius V.) as its chief officer. He died on August 18, 1559, and was succeeded by Giovanni Angelo de'Medici (not of the Florentine house), as Pius IV., on December 26, 1559. He was a marked contrast to his predecessor in many respects--practical, accessible, and a good man of business; while he was not only ready to listen to the call made upon him for resuming the Council, but was of the same mind himself; and not the less because a French national council was again talked of, as likely to be convoked in default of one representing the whole Latin Church.

Accordingly, after having sent despatches to the courts of Europe to notify his intention, the Pope, in a consistory on November 15, 1560, proclaimed a jubilee, and directed three cardinals to prepare the bull for convoking the Council anew at Trent, which was published on the 29th of the same month, and named Easter, 1561, as the date of reassemblage; immediately after which nuncios were despatched to bear invitations to the sovereigns. The envoys were very variously received in different countries. In Spain, the Ring accepted the papal scheme in its entirety; but the French King, Francis II., objected to reassembling at Trent, as inconveniently situated, and also to the proposed "continuation" of the former Council; alleging that nothing but an entirely fresh synod, which would take no account of the decrees and definitions issued so far, but reopen all the questions involved, offered the smallest hope of conciliating his Huguenot subjects. But Francis II. died before the bull of convocation was promulged, and his young successor, Charles IX., was advised by the Parliament of Paris to enjoin the French bishops to repair to Trent without making further difficulty. In Germany, the Emperor Ferdinand I. (who had succeeded on the abdication of Charles V. in 1553) took the same objections as Francis II. of France had done, adding that he could not answer for the other German sovereigns, who would speak for themselves in a diet; but that, so far as his own dominions were concerned, he had no hope of obtaining submission to the Council on any terms short of the restoration of the chalice to the laity, the marriage of priests, and a thorough reform of all practical abuses.

In framing the bull of convocation, which was issued on November 29, 1560, the Pope paid no further attention to the objections which had been made than by careful avoidance of contentious matter in the wording; for, though the actual phrase, "continuation," did not occur, there was nothing which pointed to the assembly of a new Council, whence it was sufficiently understood that he intended to stand by all that had been already decided at Trent. He sent this bull, with explanatory letters, to all the sovereigns of Western Europe, and even to the Tsar of Muscovy and the Emperor of Abyssinia. Philip II. of Spain was almost as dissatisfied because there was no express mention of continuing the former Council as the Emperor and the King of France were because a new Council was not promised, and refused his co-operation till this doubt should be resolved. Frederick II. of Denmark, whose father, Christian III., had set up Lutheranism in his kingdom, answered that neither he nor his father had ever had any thing to do with the Pope, and refused an audience to the envoy. Elizabeth of England would not permit Martinengo, the papal nuncio, to cross from Flanders to English soil, though pressure was put upon her to that end by Philip II. through his ambassador. She said that she was prepared to send representatives to a free Council, which that at Trent would not be; adding that she suspected that the envoy masked a political propaganda amongst her Roman Catholic subjects under the pretext of his ostensible errand.

In Germany the nuncios, Delfini and Commendone, attended the diet at Naumburg, in Saxony, where the Protestant princes were assembled, and obtained an audience for delivery of the Pope's letters and invitation. Three days later they received a peremptory refusal, repudiating the papal authority, alleging that to make the Pope head of the Council was to constitute the chief criminal as judge; that the Emperor alone, to whom the princes owed allegiance, had the right and power to convoke a general council; and that, while they were ready to state the reasons for their decision to his ambassadors, they would hold no communication with Rome. With this reply, the papal briefs were returned to them with the seals still unbroken, though the more important bull was retained. Not much greater success attended the mission to Switzerland; for, in the diet at Baden, though the representatives of the Catholic cantons agreed to accept and attend the Council, the Protestant deputies refused. The free imperial cities also declined to recognise any council convened by the Pope; and the Roman Catholic prelates of Germany, though not openly adopting the same course,--and, indeed, making large professions of obedience,--for the most part would give no promise of attendance.

However, the Pope was in no way deterred by these failures; and in a consistory, on February 54, 1561, at the recommendation of his nephew, the celebrated Carlo Borromeo, nominated as his legates Ercole Gonzaga, Cardinal-Bishop of Mantua, brother of the reigning Duke of that city, and Cardinal Du Puy, Archbishop of Ban, adding to them, on March so, three more cardinals--Hosius, Seripando, and Sirnonetta,--as co-presidents of the coming Council. Du Puy was in failing health (he died without reaching Trent), and Cardinal Altemps, Bishop of Constanz, was named as his associate to act for him. Two precautionary edicts were, meanwhile, issued by the Pope--one reserving to the cardinals alone the right of election to the papacy in the event of a vacancy during the Council, and prohibiting the indication or nomination of his successor by the Pope himself, even with the concurrence of the cardinals; the other restricting the deliberative and consultative voice in the future Council to bishops actually present, to the exclusion of proxies. Three of the presidents reached Trent on April 16, 1561 but found only nine bishops awaiting them, and not one ambassador; for it was not till the following June that Philip II. accepted the bull of Convocation, and the rapid spread of the Reformation in France kept the prelates of that kingdom far too busy at home to admit of their attending the Council just then; while the Emperor, anxious to conciliate the Protestants, made no attempt to quicken the languid action of the German bishops, who would not set out without his express permission. And though a small number of prelates continued to arrive, yet nothing could be done, even of preliminary work, during the remainder of 1561; and it was not until January 15, 1562, that it was feasible to assemble the first general Congregation, since by that time not only had many bishops spontaneously arrived, but the Pope had collected a number of Italian prelates, given them a monthly stipend for their support, and despatched them to Trent to strengthen the party of the legates.

Before proceeding to narrate the history of the second Council of Trent, it is necessary to premise that a far greater change h com over the religious situation, a wider divergence now separated the two contending parties of the Old and the New Learning, than even marked the period between the publication of the Confession of Augsburg and the convocation of the first Council of Trent. Not only had the Reformation continued to drift in its totality yet further from Mediaeval Christianity, but the attitude of transition or fluctuation between the two positions had disappeared, and a new generation had sprung up, born and reared in Protestantism, and thus with no lingering associations and memories connected with the Church, such as Melanchthon, for instance, admitted to have influenced himself. And what is even more important, a new factor had entered on the scene and had initiated a new and brilliantly daring policy. The Jesuits, but in their infancy when the first Council of Trent assembled, were by this time the most powerful organism in the Latin Church, were under the generalship of Diego Laynez, the ablest of Loyola's lieutenants, and had begun, with admirably disciplined strength and unity of purpose, contrasting effectively with the manifold divisions which were breaking up the Protestants into disorganised and discordant groups, the great campaign of the Counter-Reformation. It was their view that not only need no concessions to Protestantism be made, but that there was ample hope of recovering the losses which Latin Christianity had suffered during the first half of the sixteenth century, and of carrying a successful war of aggression into the hostile camp, instead of merely standing on the defensive, or at most employing those repressive measures which had been of such little avail in France and the Netherlands for checking the Protestant propaganda. Part of their method was to fight Protestantism with its own weapons, to meet preaching by abler preaching, schools with better organised schools, books with books terser, more, lucid, and more orderly than either Catholics or Protestants had then at hand for use. And the theology which they produced in accordance with this conception of the situation, while undoubtedly free from the pedantic mannerism then widely prevalent, was itself inevitably affected by recoil and reaction from Protestantism. Therefore it was not a mere reproduction of the teaching current in the Latin Church in the fifteenth century, stated in simpler fashion, but was to some extent anew departure, accentuating on the one hand the points of difference between Rome and the Eastern Church, and on the other excluding elements which had lent a colour to Protestant contentions, and bringing into stronger relief and more trenchant assertion various points which had been rather pious opinions and open questions in a state of flux than positive dogmas definitely formulated, but which were, on the whole, in opposition to the reforming theology. The direct consequence of this policy, widely accepted throughout the Roman obedience, to the second Council of Trent was that there was much less debate and discussion previously to the formulation of decrees than there had been in the earlier sessions, and that evident tokens of actual haste and even precipitancy are visible towards the close of the assembly. Add to this that the number of members distinguished for ability and learning was much smaller in the second Council, and that it contained no section in even such partial sympathy with the more moderate reformers as found representatives in the earlier assembly, and the marked difference of tone and procedure between them is sufficiently explained.

Even before the first congregation of the new Council had formally assembled, the Spanish bishops, headed by Cardinal Guerrero, Archbishop of Granada, demanded that the decree to be published in the ensuing session should expressly declare that the Council was a continuation of the former one, and thus clear up the ambiguity in the bull of convocation. Their chief reason was that the decrees already enacted were then put in force by Philip II. throughout his Spanish dominions, and he was unwilling to risk the possible discredit of retractation, should any of them be repealed or recast. The legates, however, succeeded in satisfying them, saying that the word "Continuation" had been purposely omitted to avoid exasperating the Protestants, but that the Pope fully meant continuance, and they would take care that no words implying the indiction of a new synod should appear in the decree.


The first session of the second Council, and seventeenth of the total number, was opened upon January 18, 1562 being attended by 106 bishops (mainly Italians), four abbots, and four generals of orders, besides the legates. The method which the new legates had adopted for the preparation and despatch of business was that they first proposed questions on matters of dogma to the theological experts attending the Council, whose draft opinion was then revised by a committee, next brought before a general congregation, and so finally put into shape as a decree for promulgation in solemn session.

Measures on reformation and morals were not submitted to the experts, but were kept by the legates in their own hands, consultations being held upon them with such ambassadors or prelates as they chose, and all weighty matters being sent to the Pope for his approval and directions. On the receipt of the answer from Rome, they privately drafted the decrees, and laid them before the Council, without any mention of the Pope's share in framing them, to be voted upon in the usual way. This assumption of all real initiative into the hands of the legates had in truth been the rule from the very beginning of the Council, but at least the shadow of freedom had remained.

When the decree for re-assembling the Council, however, was read in this session, the opening clause was found to contain the statement that the Council was Convened to discuss only such matters as might be "proposed by the legates and presidents" (proponentibus legatis ac praesidentibus).

The Archbishop of Granada protested (as he had already done in the previous
congregation) against this clause as unprecedented, as derogating from liberty of debate, as lending a handle to the Protestants to deny the freedom of the Council, and as having been surreptitiously introduced into the decree after a draft from which it was absent had first been circulated. He was fully supported in his protest by the Bishop of Orense, and partially by the Bishops of Almeria and Leon, who desired to see the clause modified so as to restrict the legates to proposing only such matters as the Council should account fit to be proposed. But the Italian majority was too strong and compact to be resisted, and the decree was passed, with a slight notice of the votes not being quite unanimous. The next session was then fixed for February 26, and the meeting broke up.

The business laid before the congregation of January 25 was of the highest practical importance. The Council was invited to examine all the books which had been issued by the sectaries, chiefly in Germany, since the beginning of the Reformation; to consider along with them all censures and hostile criticisms which had been published, against them; and to draw up a new Index of prohibited books, or of books needing partial correction. The authors of the works under examination were to be invited to attend that they might offer explanations or retract their errors, and the amplest safe-conduct was to be assured to them. Much debate took place on all three points in successive congregations, the Spanish bishops in particular objecting to the safe-conduct, as operating to the advantage of those against whom the Inquisition in Spain had begun proceedings.

Whilst the discussion was still going on, three ambassadors from the Emperor arrived, and represented that, as the Protestants were disinclined to attend the Council, it would be inexpedient to give them the excuse they would take from the use of the word "continuation" in relation to the assembly then sitting; that further decrees on matters of dogma should be postponed to gain time; that the Confession of Augsburg should not be at first put on the Index, as that would infuriate the Protestants; and that the safe-conduct ought to be couched in the amplest and clearest terms. The legates replied upon February 13, 1562, assenting in the main to the Emperor's wishes, but repeating and accentuating the words "at first" with respect to the non-condemnation of the Confession of Augsburg, and qualifying the phrase "amplest," as applied to the safe-conduct, with the words "such as was formerly sought by and conceded to them." Besides this business, the legates appointed a committee of four, with power to add to their number, for the purpose of drawing up the new Index, and these co-opted fourteen others, all of whom, before entering on their task, were obliged to procure a special faculty from the Pope to permit their perusal of prohibited or suspected books, which was even then strictly limited to the time during which the Council should be sitting.


The eighteenth session was held on February 26, 1562, and in it was published a decree proclaiming the appointment of the committee for the examination of "suspected and pernicious books," promising a favourable hearing to any one who might think himself concerned by this measure, or by any others discussed in the Council, and offering a safe-conduct, which, the decree goes on to say, may be granted in a general congregation, and shall in that case have the same authority as if voted in a public session. This safe-conduct, a prolix document, was originally restricted to Germans only, notably to those of the Confession of Augsburg, but was afterwards extended to other nations by a clause which constituted its only variation from the form proposed under Julius III. in 1552. It was published on March 8, 1562, and sent by nuncios for promulgation abroad. But the Protestant princes had been beforehand with the Council, and had already laid before the Emperor, in a copious statement, their reasons for refusing to attend or acknowledge the Council (Le Plat, V., pp. 48-76), so that nothing came of the concession.

The Council now turned its attention to matters of practical reform, and Seripando, one of the presidents, was intrusted with the task of preparing a draft scheme. He associated several others with him for the purpose, but concealed their names, which have never been yet made public, and the rough sketch thus prepared was handed to Simonetta, another of the presidents, as the ablest canonist in the Council, to be examined and revised. He also sought the aid of other prelates, and, during the discussions that ensued, Seripando urged that the reform should begin with the Roman Curia, but could not carry his colleagues with him. Twelve articles were drawn up for discussion, the chief of which were the enforcement of residence (especially on the part of bishops), abolition of ordination fees, the subdivision and union of parishes, the remedy to be applied to cases of ignorance or misconduct amongst the parochial clergy, the suppression of clandestine marriages, and the crying abuses rife amongst the "quaestors" or vendors of indulgences. The first of these questions, however, touched too many persons to be safely handled, and the legates desired its postponement, but the imperial ambassadors gave them to understand that the Emperor would in that case take it as a personal slight, and would form a bad opinion of the Council. Many of the fathers were of the same mind, urging that no other abuse was so serious and pressingly in need of reform, and even demanded that the residence of bishops should be declared matter of divine obligation; while others contended that this would encroach upon papal privilege, seeing that in all the more serious cases of non-residence, the absentees had obtained a licence from the Pope, and that residence in the Roman Curia was constantly allowed to count as residence in a see.

The Spanish bishops were chiefly on the side of active measures of repression, and for declaring residence divinely obligatory,--indeed, so far back as February 24, 1547, this position had been argued at much length before the Council by Bartholomew de Carranza, Archbishop of Toledo, one of the first canonists of his day (Le Plat, III., pp. 522-587 the contrary view was taken almost unanimously by the Italians, When put to the vote in congregation, after a turbulent debate and confused delivery of suffrages (though restricted to a simple placet or non-placet, without arguments), the numbers were found to be sixty-seven in favour of the divine obligation of residence, thirty-eight against it, and thirty-four also against it, "unless the Pope be first consulted."

This close balance of suffrages made reference to the Pope necessary, and put him in a very awkward position, since whichever way he might decide, he must offend a powerful party, either by seeming to stifle reform or by permitting a new dogma to be enforced, not only closing what had previously been an open question in the schools, but directly affecting the temporal interests of many of his own most trusty friends. While awaiting the Pope's answer, not only on this head, but on a draft of ninety-five articles of reform submitted to him somewhat earlier, the legates commissioned eight prelates to draw up a scheme of reform on the other points raised, excepting that of clandestine marriages, which they postponed; and they endeavoured, but quite unsuccessfully, to prevent the warm disputes on the question of residence from becoming publicly known, for rumours and letters began to fly thickly in every direction, and mutual recriminations attested the tension of the situation and the wide prevalence of discord in the Council.

SESSION XIX., MAY 14, 1562.

The nineteenth session was held on May 14, 1562, but the only business transacted was a prorogation to June 4, with the reception of some ambassadors and of the proxies of the Hungarian clergy. Although the Council had decided that the question of residence should be postponed, the legates thought differently, and prepared a scheme granting two months' absence yearly to all bishops, with large dispensing powers in addition reserved to the Pope and to all metropolitans in places distant from Rome. Before this scheme was revised by the committee of canonists to whom it was intrusted, the expected letters from Rome arrived, of an alarming tenor. The Pope expressed much displeasure at what had occurred in the debate upon residence, and acting on secret reports transmitted to him, censured Cardinals Gonzaga and Seripando for their conduct, desired that the question of residence should be either entirely laid aside, or, at least, indefinitely postponed, and added that he had nominated a special committee of cardinals to watch the proceedings at Trent, and that he was disposed to send three legates extraordinary (nominally to assist, but virtually to supersede, the existing ones) to reinforce the Council. As to the ninety-five articles of reform, he left eighty-four to the decision of the Council, but the remaining eleven, which dealt with the Roman Curia, he declared his intention of keeping in his own hands, and he despatched Visconti, Bishop of Vintimiglia, as nuncio extraordinary to Trent, with orders to send him minute details of all proceedings. He also sent all the Italian bishops then at Rome to swell the majority in the Council, and thus neutralise the votes of the French bishops, who were said to be eager for reform. The tendency of this action of the Pope to discredit the legates and the whole Council, with the further possibility of even breaking it up, was so evident as to throw the assembly into great confusion, and before any remedy had been discovered, a fresh difficulty was presented on the arrival of the French ambassadors, May 18, 1562. They were Lanssac, recently ambassador at Rome, Du Ferrier, president of the Parliament of Paris, and De Pibrac, chief justice of Toulouse. They addressed the Council in language which was more than freely outspoken, and their own opinion of it appears from a letter written b Lanssac the next day to De Lisle, French envoy at Rome, in which he says that he wishes the Pope would leave the Council free to deliberate, and "not send the Holy Spirit in a carpet bag to Trent from Rome" (Le Plat, V., p. 169). The Frenchmen, moreover, were anxious to have the Council declared a wholly new one, while the Spaniards were insisting that the word "continuation" should be expressly employed, threatening the withdrawal of the Spanish ambassadors if that were not done, and the Emperor envoys, contrariwise, declared that they had orders to with draw if it were. The imperial ambassadors also presented the Emperor's demands on matter of reform--that the Pope should reform himself and the Curia, and should reduce the number of cardinals to twenty-six; that no more scandalous dispensations and exemptions should be issued; that excommunications should be fewer, bishops be more active in visitation and in holding yearly synods, no fees to be charged for the sacraments; that he canons against simony should be renewed, ecclesiastical precepts and episcopal monitions be seriously retrenched in number and authority, the breviaries and missals be revised and purified that vernacular services for use in churches should be provided; that a thorough reform of clerical and monastic morals should be set on foot, and that the questions of clerical marriage and of communion in both kinds should be considered (Le Plat, V., 262--268). The legates desired to intercept this document so that it might not come before the Council, and persuaded the ambassadors to wait till they had communicated with the Emperor. They instructed the nuncio Deifino to assure him that to present it would break up the Council, and as he yielded to this plea, it was suppressed. On the dispute as to the continuance of the Council, the legates were afraid to displease either of the contending parties (though the Pope had promised Philip II. that the continuation should be explicitly specified, and bade them see it done), but they gave the Spaniards privately to understand that matters should be arranged so as to make it evident by act, if not in words, that the former Council was being carried on, and no fresh one assembled. They were so reluctant to take action in the matter that their pleas prevailed at Rome, and the Pope sent fresh instructions, leaving the decision virtually to their discretion, so long as they made it clear by their procedure that they were in fact continuing the original synod.

SESSION XX., JUNE 4, 1562.

They availed themselves of this permission to declare in the twentieth session, held on June 4, 1562, that the subjects of doctrine and reformation should be postponed till the following session, on July 16, by reason of the difficulty of the subjects for consideration. Thirty-six bishops, in an assembly of about 150, lodged protests against this prorogation, chiefly as regards the question of residence, but they were overruled.

Two days after this session the legates in a general congregation proposed to put into the hands of four theologians those articles respecting the Eucharist which had been postponed under Julius III. These were (1) Is every Christian bound by divine ordinance to receive the sacrament in both kinds? (2) Are the reasons for lay communion in one kind, as that of priests also when not actually celebrating, so stringent that no use of the chalice can be allowed to such persons? (3) If the use of the chalice should be conceded to any nation, is this to be under conditions, and what conditions? (4) Does he who receives in one kind receive less than if he received in both? (5) Is it of divine law that children should be communicated before the age of reason? The theologians were to distinguish carefully between matter of faith and matter of merely pious opinion or matter of heresy on these points. Something like a tumult arose when this proposal was mooted, because the Archbishop of Granada, who said that all the five points had been decided directly or indirectly by the Council of Constance, objected to re-opening the subject at all, and demanded that they should pass to other matters, and notably to define the divine obligation of residence; which at once revived the altercation on this subject till Cardinal Gonzaga, the chief legate, was obliged to interfere peremptorily to restore order, and with that end to promise that residence should be fully discussed when they came to treat of holy orders. This much displeased his colleague Simonetta, causing something like a breach between them, nor was the Pope less angry, as he wished to shelve the question altogether. However Gonzaga's promise enabled the proposal for discussing communion in both kinds to be carried, and, though the French ambassadors were at first opposed, fearing the result which actually came to pass, the Imperialists were more hopeful, and persuaded them to give way, being sanguine that the chalice would be restored to the laity, and thus one main barrier to reconciliation be removed. The next day not only did the Emperor's ambassadors press upon the legates the schedule of reforms mentioned above, but renewed the demand that no mention of continuation should be made in any description of the Council, while the Spaniards contended for the opposite policy.

The legates sent off Marini, Archbishop of Lanciano, to Rome to ask for directions on this head, and also as to the dissolution or translation of the Council, then mooted at Rome, and the burning question of residence. Gonzaga, further knowing how much he was out of favour, tendered his resignation as chief legate, and the tension was even more clearly indicated by the departure of a large body of bishops from the Council in despair at the confusion and discord reigning there, thirty-two of whom addressed a memorial to the Pope on the subject, giving their reasons for this withdrawal. Marini warned the Pope that it would be very dangerous to accept Gonzaga's resignation, as that would almost certainly suspend, if not break up, the Council, already nearly in a state of schism, and beginning to be mistrusted by Catholics, as it was openly derided by Protestants. And he also laid before the Pope the judgment of the legates against the proposed dissolution of the Council, as certain to cause frightful scandal, and perhaps a formidable schism.

The Pope accepted both views, and returned a message to Trent, refusing to supersede Cardinal Gonzaga, assuring him of his favour, and counselling the fathers in general to avoid those disputes which so disturbed the harmony of the Synod. Simonetta was privately warned to show all respect to Gonzaga, and to take care not to allow the discussion of the divine obligation of residence to go any further; while Marini told the Council that if they would leave this subject to the Pope, he would issue a brief declaring residence a matter of his own jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, on June 27, 1562, the Venetian and Bavarian ambassadors arrived, and Baumgärtner, the latter, delivered a long and trenchant speech upon necessary reforms, which both alarmed and angered the legates. Bavaria, he said, was overrun with heresy of every kind, not only amongst the lower orders, but the nobles and burghers also; that the evil was aggravated by the scandalous lives of the clergy, very many of whom were gluttons, drunkards, and addicted to other vices; while on the score of chastity there were not more than three or four per cent. who did not either openly keep concubines or marry, either publicly or clandestinely; that the discontent at the refusal of the chalice to the laity had caused numerous secessions to the sectaries, who administered Communion in both kinds; that those who had not taken this step were complaining loudly that they were deprived of a privilege which was theirs by divine appointment; that a rebellion might be apprehended if satisfaction were not given on this head; and that it was useless to publish dogmatic decrees till these practical abuses had first been amended. He followed up this preamble by tendering a schedule of twenty heads of reform, similar to that sent by the Emperor, but going even beyond it in some particulars (Le Plat, V., pp. 335-346). The legates returned an evasive reply, saying that the question of communion in both kinds would occupy the whole time of the actual session, and that the other points raised were so various that it would be more convenient to take them by degrees, as they fell under the several heads of reform already marked out for discussion.

The Imperialist ambassadors presented a memorial on the religious state of Bohemia, to the effect that communion in both kinds had been kept up there since the Council of Constance in the teeth of all opposition; that if it were formally conceded, the Bohemians would probably return to the Church; that many learned Catholics took their view, and in Austria, Moravia, Silesia, and elsewhere, were desirous of the restoration of the cup; while in Hungary the question was such a burning one that the priests in many places were obliged to concede the chalice as the only way of retaining their flocks.

The French ambassadors took the same line, adding that any decree forbidding communion in both kinds would trench on the privileges of the King of France and his subjects, since the King for more than a thousand years had received in both kinds at his coronation, and the same usage prevailed in several French monasteries, where others than the celebrant communicated thus (Le Plat, V., 366-7).

Attention was drawn also by the Bishop of Veglia to the fact that many thousand subjects of Venice, notably in Cyprus, Crete, and other eastern possessions of the republic, although in communion with Rome, practised communion in both kinds, and ought not to be included under an anathema. And a proposal to exempt the Greeks likewise was also brought forward.

There was much divergence of opinion in the congregation, chiefly on the interpretation of the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel in relation to the Eucharist, also upon every other point involved, except as to the inexpediency of any decision of the question whether more grace is received under both kinds than under one only, which they resolved to leave still open and undecided, and to refer back the remaining matters to a sub-committee to be finally thrown into definitive shape.

The question of reform was then taken up, much dissatisfaction being expressed at the meagreness of the proposed amendments, and there was considerable debate concerning the "quaestors," or pardoners (vendors of indulgences), who were freely denounced by the majority as fraudulent impostors, and as the main cause of Lutheranism, who should be promptly extirpated; while others defended them as of very ancient institution, as discharging a useful public function, and as collecting large sums for pious and charitable objects. The legates attempted a compromise by suggesting that the pardoners should not act without licence from the ordinary, but the matter was decided by the Archbishop of Lanciano, just then returned from his mission to Rome, who informed the Council that the Pope had resolved on the abolition of the system.

It had been intended to include the question of residence in the same group of decrees, but the Pope required its omission, and it was again postponed.

SESSION XXI., JULY 16, 1562.

In the twenty-first session, held on July 16, 1562, four dogmatic chapters and four canons upon communion in both kinds, and nine chapters on reformation were published. The purport of the dogmatic chapters is (1) There is no divine obligation for laymen, or for clerics when not consecrating, to receive in both kinds; (2) the Church has power to change all details in the administration of the sacraments, and having done so in this special case, the change so introduced is a law which only the Church has power to set aside; (3) that whole Christ and a true sacrament are received under one kind only, and those so receiving are not defrauded of any grace; (4) that little children are not bound to communicate. The canons, each fortified with an anathema, condemn the four propositions contrariant to the four statements thus made. A rider was appended to them, deferring to a future time the consideration of these two questions--whether the reasons for communion in one kind were so stringent as to make the concession of the chalice impossible; and in case it were conceded anywhere, whether the concession should be fenced by conditions, and by what conditions. This was probably to appease the French and German bishops with the hope of securing some relaxation in practice, since there was no actual prohibition of communion in both kinds in the wording of the decrees, which were carried by the Italians and Spaniards against the other nations, and thus had not that moral unanimity in their favour which, by ancient conciliar law, is essential to the valid enactment of a dogmatic decree. Had the voting been taken by nations, as Cardinal Pole had wished, the result would almost certainly have been very different.

The articles of reform dealt with in this session prohibited bishops to charge fees for ordination, letters dimissory, or testimonials; fixed the maximum fee which notaries might demand for such documents, limiting it to those who had no regular stipend, and enacting that no share of such fees should accrue to the bishop. Clerks unprovided with a benefice were not to be ordained, and resignations of benefices made without the incumbents having other means of maintenance were voided. Clerks possessed of private income were not to be ordained, save by special permission of the bishop; and no such private income could be then alienated by its owner unless he had obtained either a benefice or some other adequate means of support. These rules were meant to strike at the evil of a pauper clergy bringing discredit on their office by mendicancy or the pursuit of mean occupations. Power was given to erect new parishes or to consolidate old ones, to appoint additional clergy where the staff was numerically or morally defective, to deprive scandalous incumbents, and to visit monasteries. But by far the most important enactment was the abolition of the office and even the very name of the "quaestors or pardoners, who are spoken of in terms of reprobation. And it was further enacted that indulgences should for the future be published by none but the ordinaries, assisted by two members of the local chapter, and that no fees should be charged for them. This was the first positive reform carried in the Council, for the previous decrees on reformation had done little but renew earlier canons of discipline which had been neglected, and made no attempt to touch evils of more recent growth. The language in which this particular decree is couched serves as the fullest justification of the outcry raised against Tetzel by Luther in 1517, and of the complaints in the "Hundred Grievances" levelled against the whole class to which Tetzel belonged,--complaints which, if listened to when first made, might have altered the religious history of the sixteenth century.

The sacrifice of the Mass was the topic of consideration in the congregation on July 20, 1562, which followed this session; and the progress of business was furthered by the reconciliation of the legates, Gonzaga and Simonetta, and also by a letter of Philip II. to the Spanish ambassador, withdrawing his demand for pressing the two points of "continuance" of the Council and residence of bishops, which had done so much to cause divisions. The Arch bishop of Granada made a protest on the latter point, declaring that the King must have been misled, and that for himself he would raise the question anew in future sessions. Thirteen articles relating to the Mass were pro. posed for discussion, partly doctrinal and partly practical the latter relating to private Masses, the use of the vulgar tongue, the vestments and ceremonies employed, the mixed chalice, the inaudible mode of pronouncing the consecration prayer, and the errors charged against the wording of the missal.

Meanwhile, the French bishops, finding how they were outvoted by the Italians, wrote home asking for reinforcements both of bishops and theologians, and were promised that forty prelates should be in Trent by September; so that the French ambassadors strove, but in vain, to get the coming session postponed till their arrival. The Spanish bishops were almost as much irritated as the French by the Italian majority, to which they were opposed on some important issues, though generally taking the same side as against Protestantism, and wrote home complaining that the question of residence was steadily evaded, and that the Pope employed bribery and corruption to keep the Council under his control. The legates retaliated by charging the Archbishop of Granada and the Bishop of Segovia with having promised to vote for granting the chalice to the laity without regard to Philip II's wishes; and the Pope co-operated with them, using his influence with the Spanish ambassador against the intractable prelates. And as the legates would not permit any ambassadors to have access to the Council at large, but obliged them to treat with themselves only, further dissatisfaction was caused; and both the French and Spanish envoys complained that the precedents of former Councils were violated by this policy. The debates in the congregation on the Mass were unusually vivid, and displayed considerable variety of opinion on the several points of discussion; but the main influence lay with the two Spanish Jesuits, Salmeron and Laynez, the latter of whom joined the congregation on August 21, and the final decision was in accordance with their views.

A scheme for granting lay communion in the chalice under certain conditions was laid before the Council, by which it was proposed to restrict the concession to the Emperor's dominions; to require those, to whom it should be granted to accept all Roman doctrines and usages, and to promise obedience to all decrees of the Council; that both pastors and people should acknowledge that communion in one kind is praiseworthy, and ought to be observed as a law, unless otherwise determined by the Church, and that those who maintain the contrary opinion are to be accounted heretics; while no one who did not first declare his belief of these tenets, exhibit all obedience and reverence to the Pope, as lawful Bishop and Pastor of the Universal Church, and like deference to all other prelates, and confess in the customary manner, should be communicated in both kinds. A further question was proposed--whether all archbishops and bishops in the Imperial dominions should have faculties granted them, as delegates of the apostolic see, to permit the clergy of their dioceses to administer in both kin (Paleotto, "Acta Conc. Trid., Sess. VI."). A very long and warm debate took place over this document, and the suffrages were split up indecisively,--fourteen bishops voting for delay; eleven not voting at all; twenty-four were for referring the matter to the Pope; thirty-eight voted directly against the concession; thirty as directly in its favour; thirty-one voted for it, but wished the execution of the decree to be left to the Pope; and eighteen wished to limit the grant to Bohemia and Hungary. The Bishop of Fünfkirchen, Imperial ambassador, hereupon asked the legates to refer the matter to the Pope, and to obtain his consent to the concession under the prescribed conditions; and they, afraid of the bishops raising difficulties on the dogmatic decrees if they did not yield, complied so far as to draft a decree leaving the matter wholly in the Pope's hands. But the bishop objected that such a form took no account of the authority of the Council, which ought to be expressly recited in any such document; and they accordingly drafted a fresh one, referring the question, as before, to the Pope, but ending with the clause, "Such concessions being according to the wish, advice, and approval of the most holy Synod." But the Italian majority would not allow of any such implied limitation of the Pope's right to decide independently of the Council, and threw out this proposal by ten votes in the congregation of September 15, 1562; and the presiding legate then drew up a third form, simply putting the decision in the Pope's hands, which was carried by ninety-eight votes against thirty-eight.


The twenty-second session was held on September 17, 1562, and the dogmatic decree on the sacrifice of the Mass, in nine chapters, was promulged. The chief points ruled thereby were, that the sacrifice of the Mass was instituted at the Last Supper; that it is truly propitiatory, being the sacrifice of the Cross offered in a different manner; that the canon of the Roman missal is pure and free from error; that the usages and ceremonies adopted by the Church in the celebration of Mass are for setting forth its dignity, and are derived from apostolic tradition that private Masses should he authorised; that the chalice should be of mingled wine and water, on the ground of the original institution and of the issue of blood and water from Christ's side upon the cross; that Mass should not be said in the vulgar tongue, but that the clergy should occasionally explain to the people some part of what had been read in the office, especially on Sundays and festivals. These were followed by nine canons condemning the contrary opinions under anathema; and a supplementary decree prohibited various irregularities and abuses which had sprung up in the celebration of Mass, so as to insure greater decency and reverence in public worship. Eleven decrees on reformation, of no great moment, and of merely technical character, were also enacted; and to them was appended, as though belonging to the same category, a further decree referring to the Pope the question of conceding the chalice to the laity. This should properly have been included amongst the dogmatic rulings, but by classing it under the head of reformation, two ends were gained by the legates: that the question of communion in one or both kinds was thus virtually ruled to belong to those variable accidents and usages of divine service which the Church might deal with at pleasure; and (what was yet more important) that a mere majority would suffice to carry a detail of discipline, whereas practical unanimity was essential to the validity of a dogmatic decree, and no such unanimity could be looked for on this head, seeing that nearly a full half of the Council was in favour of the concession. The Imperial ambassadors were content with the reference to the Pope, but the Emperor Ferdinand was of a different mind, because he knew that the Pope's authority was viewed with so much distrust and dislike in Germany that a grant from him of his mere favour would not be cordially received, whereas a decree to the same effect from the Council would have been welcomed, and have tended to a pacification; so that when news of the decree reached him, he turned to some prelates at hand, and said: "I have done all I can to save my people; now do you look to it, whom it more concerns."

The King of France, though not taking the same objection to the decision as to the chalice, was equally dissatisfied on other grounds, and, brushing the dogmatic decrees aside with the remark that it was very easy to pass them hurriedly and in the absence of those who might have argued against them, desired that the further consideration of such topics should be postponed till the arrival of many French, German, and Polish bishops who were expected, adding that in the meantime the Council had much better take up the question of practical reforms in discipline to more purpose than it had done so far, since nothing else would win respect for it. The imperial ambassadors took much the same line, but neither could prevail, for, as a letter of Lanssac to Queen Catharine de Medici, dated September 20, 1562, tells us, the joint remonstrances of all the ambassadors except the Venetians were politely evaded by the legates, who professed to be quite in accord with them on the abstract question of reform, but would not cede the point of prorogation,--their object, indeed, being to avert the impending mission of the Cardinal of Lorraine with demands for reforms of a sweeping character. Nevertheless, the delay they refused to concede voluntarily was forced upon them by a variety of causes, and nearly ten months elapsed before another session could be held.

There was much disputing in the congregations on the sacrament of orders, chiefly on the question whether episcopacy is of divine right, which was warmly upheld by the Spanish bishops, but denied by the Italians, as contravening the Ultramontane doctrine that bishops are not inherently superior to priests, but only so in virtue of a privilege conferred by the Pope,--a position strongly contested by the Archbishop of Granada, who alleged that the Pope was bishop by precisely the same title as all other bishops, who were his brothers, not his sons, and derived their commission from Christ, and not from him, precisely as the Apostles derived their commission from Christ, and not from St. Peter.

Laynez, General of the Jesuits, in an able speech, resting for its arguments, however, upon the authenticity of the False Decretals, conceded that as regards their orders all bishops derived their commission from Christ, but that jurisdiction came to them only in virtue of a papal grant, and that the Pope was the sole source of jurisdiction in the Church. A thesis in conformity with the older canon law, to the effect that, even so, the use and power of jurisdiction, once granted, could not be withdrawn save for just and adequate reasons, was accepted by all the theologians except Laynez, but the canonists, all Italians, seeing that it limited papal authority, threw it out unanimously. So hotly did opinions vary on these heads, that not only did the Italians and Spaniards freely bring the charge of heresy against each other, but riots between the partisans of each, in which blood was shed, took place in the streets of Trent. The thorny question of episcopal residence was also brought up once more, and led to intricate negotiations on the part of the legates, both in the Council and at Rome, which must be simply mentioned, and it may just be added, as showing the ratio of parties in the Council, that rather more than fifty members in an assembly of 180 voted with the Archbishop of Granada against the Ultramontanes, though he was careful to explain that he was willing to admit that the Pope was by divine law superior to other bishops, and that they were bound to obey him. But he protested somewhat later, during the protracted debate on the draft canons, against the limitation of the title "Vicar of Christ" to the Pope, since, he urged, it belonged equally to all other bishops.

The Cardinal of Lorraine (Charles de Guise) arrived at Trenton November r 1562, and pressed on the Council the distracted and suffering state of France from the civil war of religion, detailing the havoc and bloodshed committed by the Huguenots, and argued that these events made such measures of reform and conciliation as would win back the revolted sectaries and steady the wavering Catholics of the most vital necessity. What these measures were appears from a schedule drawn up for his instruction, and signed by Charles IX., Catharine de Medici, Antony King of Navarre, Henry Duke of Anjou (afterwards Henry III the Duke of Guise, the Constable Montmorency, the Chancellor L'Hôpital, and other members of the Council of State. It specifies the retrenchment of all superstitions in divine service, the revision of the ceremonies, the restoration of lay communion in the chalice, the administration in the French language of all such sacraments as concerned the laity, the compulsory institution of sermons and catechisings on Sundays in parish churches in connexion with High Mass, and the provision of facilities, with the usual Latin service, for singing psalms and hymns in French both at Mass and at vespers. It was added that, in respect to other countries which had separated from Rome, the Council should be pressed to make further concessions to recover them, such as the marriage of priests and permission to retain ecclesiastical property which had been alienated (Le Plat, V., pp. 559-563).

These demands were far too unpalatable to be acted on by the Council, and never were discussed, while, in truth, Cardinal Guise, if he ever heartily agreed with them, cooled in his zeal after the death of the King of Navarre, and took no pains to press them. The disputes as to the seventh draft Canon on holy orders (that concerning the status of bishops) continued with so much acrimony that no agreement proved possible for a considerable time, especial tumult having been excited on one occasion by the Bishop of Guadix alleging that quite as good bishops were made without any nomination or confirmation by the Pope as by his authority, and successive remodellings of its wording failed to command acceptance, so that the session which had been fixed for November 26, 1562, had to be prorogued again and again, while the canons and decrees upon marriage were also submitted to the congregations.

This indecision continued into the spring of 1563, and on March 2 of that year Cardinal Gonzaga, first legate, died. The German and French bishops endeavoured to secure the vacant dignity for the Cardinal of Lorraine, but Cardinal Seripando, who had become acting chief legate on Gonzaga's death, dreaded such an appointment, and at once wrote to the Pope, begging him to appoint some experienced and dignified personage as chief legate, which Pius accordingly did, nominating Cardinals Morone and Navagero as new legates, and assigning the first place to the former. Seripando himself died of fever immediately after, on March 17.

The first task which Morone had to undertake was a mission to Innsbrück (April 16, 1563), to pacify the Emperor, who was much displeased at the slow progress of reform, and especially at the small account which had been taken of his own proposals on the subject. To this Morone replied that there had been grave reasons to prevent the formal discussion of that schedule, but that its chief points had in fact been adopted. Ferdinand next complained that the Council was entirely controlled from Rome, and that the legates did nothing except in accordance with instructions from the Pope; to which Morone replied that, granting the fact, it was no more than held good of all other ambassadors, who received their original directions and subsequent advices from their sovereigns. He was equally successful in the Emperor's objection to the sole initiative vesting in the legates (though the Count de Luna, the Spanish ambassador, was pressing him to insist on its abolition), arguing that private bishops might probably raise questions inconvenient to the interests of princes, and promising either to propose himself what ever the ambassadors might be instructed to lay before the Council or to enable them to do so in person. Altogether, he achieved the object which, as he admits, was set before him, that of pacifying the Emperor without prejudice to the authority of the Pope or the legates.

These events all caused fresh delays, and so hopeless did it seem to bring the Council to any satisfactory conclusion, that a scheme proposed by Ferrier, the French ambassador, to dissolve it at the end of the next session, and to hold national synods in its stead, wherein reforms suitable to each country might be discussed and decreed subject to the Pope's approval, was accepted by the Cardinal of Lorraine and two of the legates, while the Pope himself was known to be favourable to it. The reasons which weighed with him were due to events which took place at the close of 1562.

In September of that year, Maximilian, son of the Emperor, was crowned at Prague as King of Bohemia, and the Emperor took the opportunity of urging the Protestant princes present at the ceremony to submit to the Council of Trent. They met together to discuss the matter among themselves, and returned a reply on the old lines, renewing their appeal to a "free" council in Germany, wherein the Pope should have no share save that of an ordinary member subject to its decisions; that the bishops' oath of obedience to the Pope should be abrogated to insure their freedom in voting; that the proceedings at Trent should be declared null and void; and that the Interim should continue binding. The Emperor promised to do what he could, and offered to go in person to Trent, by way of Innsbrück, where he would be only four days' journey from the Council, and could present himself there when desirable. Moreover, the war of religion had broken out anew with fresh violence in France, but with such indecisive results that the Pope thought that no certainty could be felt of the ultimate triumph of the Catholics, and that a treaty involving large concessions to the Protestants would more probably end the strife, and at once diminish his own authority and nullify much of what had been enacted at Trent. And he was confirmed in this view by the formidable schedule of thirty-four reforms laid before the legates by the French ambassadors on January 2, 1563, though the Cardinal of Lorraine disavowed some of them. Herein, besides very sweeping regulations for the correction of clerical manners, and the usual demands for vernacular services, and the restoration of the chalice to the laity, it was required that abuses and superstitions connected with the cultus of images, and also with indulgences, pilgrimages, and relics, should be taken away; that the ancient public penances for grave offences should be revived, and that excommunications should be restricted to the most serious class of misdeeds. And as the demands also struck at a great variety of fees charged in ecclesiastical causes, they tended directly, as the Pope complained, to impoverish, if not even to abolish, several departments of the Roman Curia.

At the very same time Visconti, the Pope's agent at Trent, was writing letters to Rome in terms of deep dissatisfaction at the discord and incapacity exhibited by the Council, so that for all these reasons the Pope was anxious to have done with it.

Amongst other matters which occurred between the twenty-second and twenty-third sessions was the arrival of René de Birague, French envoy to the Emperor and the Council, who came partly to apologize for the treaty Charles IX. had made with the Huguenots, and partly to ask that the Council might be transferred to some German city. However, this proposal was not only displeasing to the legate, but failed to win the Emperor's approval; for the Count de Luna, who visited him at Innsbrück about the same time as Birague, brought back word that Ferdinand had replied that he could not guarantee the Council from violence in any part of Germany, and that there was no prospect of the Lutherans consenting to attend, so that any change of place would be useless. Another proposal which fell through was one from the doctors of Louvain to proclaim Queen Elizabeth a heretic and schismatic, but the danger of provoking reprisals on her part was judged too serious to be risked.


After repeated postponements, the twenty-third session was held on July i 1563, and four dogmatic chapters upon the sacrament of orders, followed by eight canons, together with eighteen chapters on reform, were published in it, and voted with some few and trifling expressions of dissent. The most important matters ruled upon this occasion were that there is an outward and visible priesthood in the Church, instituted by Christ, and substituted for the Levitical ministry; that seven grades of the ministry have been in use from the earliest times; that holy orders is one of the seven sacraments, and confers an in effaceable character; that bishops hold the first place in the hierarchy, being divinely appointed to govern the Church, are superior to priests, and can perform various functions which priests cannot; and that election by the people only, or by any secular power, without ordination, confers no valid ministry.

The canons condemn various opinions conflicting with these statements, and include anathemas upon such as not only deny the necessity of anointing with oil as part of the ceremony of ordination, but decry it ai other accompanying rites, and also upon such as refuse to admit the legitimacy of bishops nominated by the sole authority of the Pope.

Great care was taken not to rule either way the question of the relation of the Pope to bishops in general, which had occasioned such angry debates in the preliminary congregations. The chief items of the decrees on reformation were the decree on the residence of bishops, and that on the erection of theological colleges or seminaries. The former enacts that all bishops, even if cardinals, must reside permanently, save for some grave necessity of Church or State, and that even then they must have a written licence for absence, issued by the Pope, the metropolitan, or one of the senior bishops of the province; while any absenting themselves without such permission are barred from enjoyment of the revenues accruing during their absence. The parochial clergy, in like manner, must provide a curate when obliged to be absent, to be approved by the bishop, and with a suitable stipend.

The decree on seminaries, seemingly justified, and even necessitated, by the circumstances of the time, was perhaps the gravest practical error committed by the Council. It provided for founding a training college for the ministry in every cathedral city, in which candidates, preferably chosen from the poorer classes, were to be separately educated from the age of twelve years, in accordance with a scheme which has been practically acted on ever since, with the most disastrous results.

It has proved the main cause of the wide gulf yawning in every Latin country between the laity and the clergy, the latter being brought up from childhood to manhood without ever coming in contact with the laymen to whom they are to minister later on, and cut off from the liberal education of public schools and universities, for which is substituted a course whose hyper-professional narrowness and shallow ness is matter of frequent animadversion on the part of competent Roman Catholic observers. And besides, the deliberate exclusion of children of the higher classes from the benefits of these foundations--since none of that grade are admissible unless defraying all their own expenses, whereas others are received gratuitously,--has done much to keep the great bulk of the Roman Catholic clergy at the peasant level, with the inevitable result of alienating the sympathy and the respect of the cultured class, and without any corresponding gain in greater moral influence over the lower ranks of society. But there is much excuse for the policy adopted by the Council to be found in the then existing state of the great educational institutions, which offered no security to faith or morals, for many of the universities had seceded corporately to Protestantism, and even those which remained Catholic were apt to be subservient to the temporal power, and so were viewed with not unreasonable distrust, while only experience could bring to light the evils resulting from the seminary system.

The peaceable termination of this session made the legates desirous of closing the Council at once, but they were dissuaded by the Count de Luna, Spanish ambassador, who urged that another summons should be sent to the Protestants; but Morone, who thought this merely intended to cause delay, refused to comply, and hastened the preparations for the concluding business, arranging that it should be all put into the hands of two small committees, first of theologians, and then of selected members, instead of coming before general Congregations, as had been the custom previously.

The Count de Luna raised a protest against this innovation, endeavouring to get the other envoys to support him, but the Pope, being anxious to close the Council with all speed, directed the legates not to yield the point. Accordingly, they rapidly drafted forty-two articles of reformation, but the Spanish ambassador at once objected to them, and demanded that they should be withdrawn, and that some bishops of each nation should instead send in schedules of the reforms needed in each; but he failed to secure the aid of his colleagues, and his proposal dropped, though he procured the Omission of six articles of the forty-two. There was little difference of opinion amongst the fathers on most of the remainder, but two gave rise to much discussion,--that, namely, on clandestine marriages, and that op the collation of benefices with cure of souls. On the former head, the French bishops desired that clandestine marriages should be declared absolutely null, in accordance with the civil law of France, and also the marriage of minors under eighteen years for males and sixteen for females, if without the consent of their parents. This proposal was resisted partly as inexpedient and partly from a doubt whether the Church had power to annul such unions. The crucial point of the second head was the custom that the Pope collated to all benefices falling vacant during certain months of each year, and the bishops argued that they were better able, each in his own diocese, to judge of the fitness of nominees than the Pope could be at a distance.

This was the old dispute as to "Provisors," which has left its mark on the English statute-book, and the demand of the bishops was resisted by the legates, as opposed to the privilege and interests of the Pope. They proposed as compromises that either all benefices without cure of souls should be made over to the Pope as patron, in exchange for his turn of patronage of those with cure, which were all to vest in the bishops, or else that the Pope should be limited to nominating fit persons, belonging to the diocese where the benefice was situated, and from a list of names furnished by the bishop. Another plan, intermediate between these two, recommended often by Borromeo, was that benefices should be granted only to such as should formally prove their fitness to the ordinary, which, as restricting the bishops in liberty of choice, was not likely to please them.

Yet another thorny subject before the Council was the question of secular interference in ecclesiastical concerns, which needed to be handled very cautiously, to avoid dispute with the ambassadors, some of whom were inclined to make difficulties, and the risk of irritating the sovereigns concerned. And because of all these obstacles to rapid action, it was decided to cut out several items from the pre-arranged schedule of reforms, which was thus reduced to twenty-one articles. But the subject just mentioned was less astutely managed than the delicacy of the case required, for the draft upon it contained several clauses certain to cause grave dissatisfaction amongst the laity everywhere. Thus, the clergy were not to be judged in any secular court on any pretence; the appel comme d'abus was to be abolished; sovereigns and States were to be barred from enacting any laws concerning ecclesiastical persons or tribunals, notably the Inquisition, but be bound to aid the spiritual judge with the secular arm; appeal to the secular judges in any ecclesiastical or quasi-ecclesiastical cause should be punished with excommunication; the clergy should be exempt from taxation, save in countries where they sat in Parliament, and shared in voting such taxation; all ecclesiastical sentences, especially those issuing from Rome, and all grants of benefices, should be valid and current at once, without any civil placet or exequatur; and any territory claiming privilege in respect of any of these matters should exhibit such privilege to the Pope for confirmation, within a year from the close of the Council, or otherwise forfeit it.

This draft, even before being brought on for discussion, drew forth a stinging reproof from the French ambassadors, as aimed at clerical aggrandisement, and not meant for the reformation and welfare of the Church; while they, with several French bishops, at once withdrew from the Council to mark their disapproval.

The situation was further complicated by Pius IV., on October 22, 1563, proclaiming the widowed Queen Joan of Navarre, mother of Henry IV., a heretic, and summoning her to appear before him, under pain of deprivation of her dignities and estates, and of having he marriage declared void, and her children bastards. This roused the anger of Charles IX who felt that not only his kinswoman's cause was at stake, but that of all crowned heads, and directed his envoy at Rome to deliver a trenchant remonstrance to the Pope, and so compel the withdrawal of the obnoxious document; at the same time sending word to his late ambassadors at the Council that he fully approved their protest and withdrawal.

And on another issue, the Bishop of Cadiz made an attack on the avarice of the officials of the Curia, giving as his own experience that he had been obliged to pay extravagantly for nearly five thousand bulls expedited for his single diocese. The Count de Luna, moreover, renewed the objection against the legatine monopoly of initiation and besides all these controversies, there were several problems in debate concerning impediments, nullity, and divorce in matrimony, and as to the exemption of chapters and the plurality of benefices. Philip II., as he kept the appointment of all Spanish bishops in his own hands, desired to see the privileges of the chapters curtailed, while the Pope, for that very reason, was disposed to maintain or even amplify them.

To make the despatch of this mass of business possible, five committees were appointed,--a French one, presided over by Cardinal Guise; a Spanish one, under the Archbishop of Granada; and three Italian ones.


After complicated intrigues on all sides, the twenty-fourth session was held upon November 11, 1563, and proved to be the most discordant in the records of the Council. Objections were alleged against almost every canon and decree proposed, even the legates themselves expressing dissent from some clauses. However, after the longest sitting known so far, Cardinal Morone declared all the propositions carried with some dissentients, and gave it to be understood that some modification of the disputed clauses should be made, and duly authorised in accordance with the wishes of the majority. One doctrinal decree, a sacramental character and indissolubility of marriage, followed by twelve canons, was enacted. The chief points of interest in these are the following--They anathematize those who maintain the lawfulness of polygamy; those who restrict prohibited degrees to such only as are named in Leviticus, and deny the Church power to add thereto; those who hold with Calvin that heresy in either party, misconduct, or desertion, voids marriage; those who deny that a marriage, provided it has not been consummated, is voided by one of the parties taking conventual vows; those who charge the Church with error in denying that adultery voids marriage; those who declare that men in holy orders or who have taken vows of chastity may lawfully marry for adequate reasons and those who allege that marriage as a state of life is superior to virginity. Ten chapters of reformation on the same subject were also enacted, amongst which are one declaring clandestine marriages null; a relaxation of some impediments; the refusal of ex-post facto dispensations for marriages knowingly contracted within the prohibited degrees; imposing penalties for rape and fornication, and forbidding marriage under compulsion. Twenty-one articles of reformation of the clergy were further decreed. They include provision for a formal inquiry into the life and character of all nominees to bishoprics, and recommend the Pope to be scrupulous in his creation of cardinals, as a main part of that "care of all the Churches" which belonged to him; prescribe triennial provincial and yearly diocesan synods; enjoin on bishops frequent visitation and preaching, and on the parochial clergy Sunday and festival sermons, and also thrice a week in Advent and Lent; reserve all serious criminal charges against bishops to the Pope's sole cognisance; forbid the annexation of parish churches to monasteries, and abolish pluralities. Finally, a formal statement was made that the words "the legates proposing" had not been intended to innovate on the practice of former councils, or to deprive any one of a vested right.

By this time, the desire to close the Council was practically unanimous, even the Spaniards (except the Count de Luna) no longer holding out for delay, and the legates, in conference with Cardinals Guise and Madrucci, along with five-and-twenty leading bishops, decided that the coming twenty-fifth session should be the last, and fixed it for December 3, 1563. The doctrinal questions which remained for decision were purgatory images, relics, invocation of saints, and indulgences. There was some discussion on the four former points, but indulgences, albeit in a sense the original cause of the convocation of the Council, were at first omitted, to the great dissatisfaction of the Imperial ambassadors, though inserted afterwards at the very last moment. On this, and on the remaining points, the decrees were purposely framed in vague general terms, avoiding definition as far as possible, but restricting some abuses.

Twenty-two decrees affecting members of religious orders were also drafted, and twenty-one on reformation in general, the chief of which were the second, that all bishops bound to attend provincial synods should in the next such synod held after the dissolution of the Council of Trent, and all future bishops in the first such synod held after their promotion, declare their acceptance of all the Tridentine decrees, promise obedience to the Pope, and anathematize all heresies condemned by the Council, those failing to do so being put out of communion, and reported to the Pope, whilst the rule was also made binding on all beneficed clerks entitled to attend diocesan synods, and on all university dignitaries and teachers; the twelfth, declaring tithe to be of divine obligation, its non-payment robbery, and the penalty thereof excommunication; the fourteenth, imposing penalties on concubinarian clerks; the fifteenth, prohibiting the bastards of clerks from serving in or holding the churches where their fathers had ministered; the nineteenth, imposing heavy penalties upon duelling, and not only excommunicating princes who permitted duelling, but forfeiting the ground granted by any temporal prince or baron for the purposes of a duel; and the twenty-first, the keynote of the whole tenor of the assembly from its earliest sessions, declaring that whatever had been decreed in the Council on the subjects of the reformation of morals and ecclesiastical discipline, as well under Paul III. and Julius III. as under Pius IV., had been so decreed without prejudice to the authority of the Apostolic see (ut in his salva semper auctoritas sedis apostolicae et sit, et esse intelligatur). All these were promulged in the twenty-fifth and final session on December 3, 1563, although the decree on indulgences was not ready along with the rest on that day, but was drafted in hot haste at night, despite Morone's wish to omit it altogether as too contentious a subject. But the pressure put upon him (especially by Cardinal Guise, who urged that Protestants would be confirmed in their view of indulgences by silence on the Council's part, while every such omission would serve as an excuse for convoking a new Council) was too strong to be resisted, and he was forced to consent to its being framed and passed on December 4.

Some words in the original draft, however, absolutely prohibiting any money payments for indulgences, were struck out at the instance of the Count de Luna, as seemingly directed against the "Bull of the Crusade," a form of indulgence which all Spaniards down to our own times were bound to procure, as necessary to validate all others, and which was lately sold at the fixed rate of 2 1/2 reals.

The clause, as actually worded and passed, forbade only corrupt gains (pravos quaestus) and abuses, but no specification of the meaning to be put on these phrases occurs in the decree. An exhortation to all pastors, not couched in the form of a decree, to be duly observant of fasts, with the distinction of foods, and of festivals, being careful, too, in teaching their flocks such matters, followed this enactment, and then the Council declared that it referred to the judgment and authority of the Pope, and for publication at his pleasure, all the drafts made by its committees for the Index of prohibited books, the catechism, and the revision of the missal and breviary.

Then followed a statement to the effect that the Council had taken care to anathematize the principal errors of the time, and to teach the true Catholic doctrine; that the many bishops assembled could no longer absent themselves from their flocks without much danger; that there was no more hope of the heretics making their appearance, and that it was therefore necessary to close the Council; that all Christian princes had been admonished to uphold the decrees against heretical opponents; and that if any difficulties should occur in respect of any decrees of the Council (which it thought impossible), then the Pope would take measures for their removal by summoning fit persons to treat of them, especially from the localities where such questions arose, or by convoking another General Council, or in any other way he might judge expedient.

All the decrees and canons enacted during the Council, under Paul III. and Julius III., as well as the later ones, were then read aloud, and the questions were put whether the Council should be dissolved, and whether confirmation of all its decisions should be asked from the Pope by the presidents and legates. All assented to the former clause, but on the latter the Archbishop of Granada, all along the sturdy champion of episcopal independence and of the freedom of the Council, said: "It pleases me that the Council should close, but not that its confirmation should be asked for." Cardinal Morone then pronounced the blessing, bidding the members depart in peace, after which came a series of "acclamations," sent by Cardinal Guise, and responded to by all present, in honour of the Popes under whom the Council had sat, of the Emperors and Kings

Ritual difficulties were referred to the Congregation of Rites, and yet represented at the synod, of the legates, presidents, cardinals, ambassadors, bishops, and of the decrees of the Council itself; winding up with an anathema against all heretics. When this form was ended, the legates and presidents informed the members that all must, before leaving Trent, either personally sign the decrees or signify their acceptance of them by some public document, under pain of excommunication for refusal, and all present, to the number of two hundred and fifty-five, of whom one hundred and eighty-nine were Italians, did accordingly sign them. [The assembly, when near its close, was composed of two hundred and seventy members, distributed in the following proportions Italians, 189; Spaniards, 31; French, 26; Greeks (in partibus, and so without jurisdiction), 6; Portuguese, 3; Irish, 3; Illyrians, 3 Polish, 2; Flemish, 2; Germans, 2; Croatian, 1; Moravian, 1 English, 1. Thus the Italian majority was overwhelming.] This was the final act of this celebrated assembly.

The extreme Curialist party at Rome endeavoured to prevent the Pope's confirmation from being given to the decrees, on the ground that many of them operated in restraint of papal revenues and authority, but calmer counsels prevailed, so that Pius IV., in a consistory on December 30, 1563, expressed his approval of what had been done, and at once nominated the legates, Cardinal Morone and Simonetta, together with Cicala, Vitelli, and Carlo Borromeo, as a committee to deliberate on the best means for carrying the decrees into operation. And in the consistory of January 26, 1564, on the petition of the legates, supported by all the cardinals, he confirmed the acts of the Council by a bull, wherein he ordered the publication of the decrees in all dioceses, and forbade the printing of any gloss, commentary, or explanation upon them, reserving to himself the resolution of all difficulties or doubts which might arise. In a special bull he fixed May 1, 1564, as the time when the disciplinary decrees should come into active and binding force, and by a further bull on August 2, 1564, appointed eight cardinals as the permanent Congregation of the Council of Trent, to consider all cases arising under such decrees.
The republic of Venice led the way in accepting the Tridentine decisions, causing them to be solemnly published in St. Mark's, and declared binding throughout the Venetian dominions. The other Italian states followed immediately. Poland and Portugal were next in order, and Spain, after some delay and dissatisfaction, also received them.

But in Germany and the hereditary states of the House of Austria, the Emperor Ferdinand and his son, King Maximilian, demanded the concession of the chalice and the marriage of priests as their terms for granting currency to the decrees. The Pope absolutely refused the second of these conditions, although a petition from several of the leading Catholic divines of Germany supported the Emperor in both respects; but granted the other demand for lay communion in the Chalice (which was asked for by the Duke of Bavaria also), restricting it to certain bishops and under close limitations, a concession which was withdrawn in no long time.

Other decisions of the Council were sharply canvassed in Germany, notably those on indulgences and on the distinction of foods; to the former of which its haste and vague ness were objected, as also the modern and exclusively Latin origin of indulgences in any form; while it was ob served that the Council, in recommending a distinction of foods on fast days, had omitted to say whether such distinction was binding on the conscience.

However, a qualified acceptance was given to the dogmatic, as distinguished from the disciplinary, decrees by the Catholic princes of Germany in a diet at Augsburg in 1566.

In France the ambassador Du Ferrier had reported strongly against the general tenor of the decrees, and when Cardinal Guise returned from the Council, he was anything but warmly received, being at once charged with betrayal of the liberties of the Gallican Church, by consenting to the ascription to the Pope of "the care of all the Churches which conceded the point long maintained by the Gallican Church against the Curia, that a General Council is superior to the Pope; that he had done the like by Consenting to the clause "without prejudice to the authority of the Apostolic see," again admitting the subordination of the Council; and that by allowing the clauses which treated the sessions under Paul IlI and Julius IlI as integral parts of the Council under Pius TV., he had violated the instructions he had received to insist on the latter being declared to be a wholly new assembly; and, finally, that he had failed in loyalty by not taking care that the names of the Kings of France should be, as prominent in the acclamations as those of the Emperors then commemorated, although he had led those acclamations himself. The Parliament of Paris &ensured the decrees of the Council as encroaching on the civil power and the rights of the laity, notably by the claim made for bishops and ecclesiastical judges to extend over the laity that coercive jurisdiction which the State had granted only for exercise over the clergy, and by the restrictions imposed on lay patronage; for evoking the cases of criminous bishops out of France and to Rome, contrary to French law; and for enabling the mendicant orders to hold property. For these and other reasons, although the doctrinal decrees of Trent were accepted in France, the disciplinary canons were rejected, and have never since been validly published there, nor do they bind in French ecclesiastical law, though strenuous efforts, twelve times renewed, and extending over a long period of time, were made to obtain their legal recognition (Héricourt, "Loix Ecclésiastiques de France," I., p. 99. Paris, 1743). [It is the more necessary to state this clearly, because it is sometimes asserted that their publication by several individual bishops its French synods gave them the necessary authorisation in France, but that contravenes an express provision of French ecclesiastical law, that the consent of the sovereign is necessary to the valid promulgation of conciliar decrees, even of General Councils (Hédricourt, I., p. 98).]

The practical results of the Council of Trent are not to be easily summed up in a brief statement, and there is less difficulty in saying what it did not do than what it did. First of all, it did nothing whatever for the primary object of its convocation, the reunion of Western Christendom by the reconciliation of the separated communions. It may well be doubted whether any efforts for such a purpose could have been successful in the excited and intolerant temper of the times, when scarcely any wish was felt, save by the merest handful, to understand or allow for an opponent's position; but it is, at any rate, Certain that the Council did not even pretend to attempt the task, but rather set itself to accentuate the points of difference in its recoil from Protestant teaching; though it was judiciously indeterminate when pronouncing on open questions still debated within the Church itself; and not forming part of the controversial stock of Lutherans and Calvinists. [Nevertheless, the Emperor Ferdinand did not give up all hopes of effecting a reconciliation, even after this policy of the Council seemed to have closed the door for ever. In 1564 he and his son Maximilian commissioned George Cassander, a Belgian theologian of great learning and high personal character for piety and orthodoxy, to draw up a statement of the points at issue between the contending parties, to serve as a basis for negotiations towards reunion, which he did in a treatise entitled "De Articulis Religionis inter Catholicos et Protestantes controversis Consultatio" (best edition, Cassandri Opera, Pars, 1616), which is a remarkable document, dealing freely with many questions pa over in total silence by the Council of Trent, but the only result was that this work of Cassander, and all his other writings, were put on the Index.] It departed even further from one main object which all the great Councils of the preceding century had in view, and which was undoubtedly intended by all, save the Italian members, to form a chief part of its own proceedings, namely, the work of restricting papal prerogatives and authority. Contrariwise, it undid the work of Pisa; Constance, and Basle, and re-established the Papacy as nearly on the footing of Gregory VII. and Innocent III. as the changed conditions of Western Europe permitted. Virtually abandoning the old claim to universal jurisdiction over the whole of Christendom as unattainable, taking no account of the Eastern Churches,--indeed, ruling explicitly against them on some points previously indeterminate,--and despairing of the newly generated sects as irrecoverably lost, it set itself to revive and invigorate papal authority within that part of Christendom which continued in the Roman obedience, and prepared the way for the Vatican decrees of three centuries later. Again, the only one of the abuses most frequently and loudly complained of which it directly abated was the traffic in indulgences, checked, though not annihilated, by the abolition of the licensed pardoners, who had been the mark for scorn and satire for hundreds of years previously. But, on the other hand, many remedies of practical evils and scandals, many improvements in matters of discipline, followed immediately from the enactments of the Council, which provided the ecclesiastical authorities with powers and facilities for coercing offenders which they had not previously possessed. The abolition of pluralities, the enforcement of residence, the more careful education for the ministry in the new seminaries (eminently successful at first), the greater stress laid on preaching and catechizing, the stricter supervision of monastic institutions, the short-lived revival of yearly diocesan synods, all tended to rehabilitate the clergy in popular esteem, and revivified the Latin Church when it seemed about to fall a victim to its internal corruptions. [This reform, which Wessenberg calls "the pearl of the reformatory decrees of the Council of Trent," was speedily allowed to become a dead letter, and, in the same writer's words, "lies in the dust (Wessenberg, "Grossen Kirchenversammlungen," iv. 424).] At the same time the Council can justly be credited with only a partial, and not the largest, share in working these salutary improvements. The facts that it was reluctant to reform at all; that it had resisted the strongest pressure for this purpose from Catholic sovereigns; that its motives and proceedings had been the mark for severe censure again and again, not from Protestant critics only, but from Catholics of unquestionable loyalty to their religion, are far too widely known to allow of the assumption that the respect which it never enjoyed during its session was at once accorded to it after its dissolution, and secured obedience to its decrees throughout the Roman Church. It is rather to the Jesuits of the Counter-Reformation that the dead-lift given to the Latin clergy in the latter half of the sixteenth century is to be attributed. For, after all, the new laws, however excellent in themselves, would never have been effectively worked by men brought up under the old system which those laws were designed to abolish, and it was the Jesuit preachers and schoolmasters, the Jesuit directors and missionaries, to whom more properly belongs the credit of having rallied the broken and scattered forces of the Church of Rome, shattered and disheartened by the rapid victories of the Reformation, and so disciplined them by precept and example as to enable them not only to stand their ground, but to recover much of the territory which had been overrun and annexed by their opponents. And, so far as the Council of Trent is the concrete expression of the Counter-Reformation, it is to the able Jesuit theologians who swayed its decisions that it owes its distinctive place in ecclesiastical history.

Project Canterbury