This book explores how conceptions of episcopacy (government of a church by bishops) shaped the identity of the bishops of France in the wake of the reforming Council of Trent (1545–63). It demonstrates how the episcopate, initially demoralised by the Wars of Religion, developed a powerful ideology of privilege, leadership and pastorate that enabled it to become a flourishing participant in the religious, political and social life of the ancien regime. The book analyses the attitudes of Tridentine bishops towards their office by considering the French episcopate as a recognisable caste, possessing a variety of theological and political principles that allowed it to dominate the French church.
Elizabeth Vandiver, Ralph Keen, and Thomas D. Frazel
There are only two substantial eyewitness accounts of the life of Martin Luther. Best known is a 9,000-word Latin memoir by Philip Melanchthon published in Latin at Heidelberg in 1548, two years after the Reformer's death. But the other substantial vita of Luther—at 175,000 words by far the longest and most detailed eyewitness account of the Reformer—has never been published in English. Recorded contemporaneously over the first twenty-five years of the Reformation by Luther's lifelong antagonist Johannes Cochlaeus, the Commentaria de Actis et Scriptis Martini Lutheri was published in Latin at Mainz in 1549. This chapter introduces this confrontation between Melanchthon's vita and Cochlaeus's Commentary read against each other, the rival texts rekindle the colossal crossfire of faith-against-faith that animated and illuminated the Reformation.
This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this book, which is about the history of episcopacy in France during the seventeenth century. The book examines the ideas, both established and still emerging, of what the office of bishop meant to its incumbents and traces the ways in which that understanding coloured their involvement in the hierarchical Tridentine church and in a temporal realm governed by a vigorously gallican monarchy. It also explores the canonical and theological aspects that relate to the episcopate as a sacred ecclesiastical position with particular associated powers, the character of the episcopal pastorate and the notion of episcopal spirituality.
Johannes Cochlaeus stands among the prominent members of the Catholic reaction to the Reformation during its first three decades. His work serves as valuable evidence for scholars of the division of western Christianity that took place in the sixteenth century. Two qualities give him a special place among the early Catholic respondents to Protestantism: the volume of his work and the rhetorical ferocity of his reaction to the beginnings of Protestantism. He was the most prolific and most acerbic of the Catholic polemicists, and both of these qualities in tandem give him a historical importance that is only now being recognized. This chapter offers the reader of the Commentary an introduction to the main events of Cochlaeus's career and an assessment of his treatment of Luther.
This chapter discusses the conflict between the lower clergy and French bishops concerning the hierarchical authority and jurisdiction that gave the latter absolute authority over the former. These disagreements brought many tough challenges for French bishops for they were pitted against members of the lower clergy, and even against the might of the papacy, as they sought to implement their vision of Tridentine discipline. The bishops were forced to define and defend their rights of jurisdiction so that their monarchical authority could reign supreme in their dioceses.
This book presents a contemporary, eyewitness account of the life of Martin Luther translated into English. Johannes Cochlaeus (1479–1552) was present in the great hall at the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521 when Luther made his famous declaration before Emperor Charles V: ‘Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen’. Afterward, Cochlaeus sought Luther out, met him at his inn, and privately debated with him. Luther wrote of Cochlaeus, ‘may God long preserve this most pious man, born to guard and teach the Gospel of His church, together with His word, Amen’. However, the confrontation left Cochlaeus convinced that Luther was an impious and malevolent man. Over the next twnety-five years, Cochlaeus barely escaped the Peasant's War with his life. He debated with Melanchthon and the reformers of Augsburg. It was Cochlaeus who conducted the authorities to the clandestine printing press in Cologne, where William Tyndale was preparing the first English translation of the New Testament (1525). For an eyewitness account of the Reformation—and the beginnings of the Catholic Counter-Reformation—no other historical document matches the first-hand experience of Cochlaeus. After Luther's death, it was rumoured that demons seized the reformer on his death-bed and dragged him off to Hell. In response to these rumours, Luther's friend and colleague Philip Melanchthon wrote and published a brief encomium of the reformer in 1548. Cochlaeus consequently completed and published his monumental life of Luther in 1549.
This chapter discusses the French ideal of the good bishop and the episcopacy. It explains that the French vision combined the appropriate elements of the archetypes provided by Cardinal Archbishop Charles Borromeo and the bishop of Geneva, François de Sales. This pastoral ideal married governmental duties with an intense spirituality that particularly emphasised charity and interior mortification. The chapter contends that the private correspondence and compositions of bishops and other leading clergy reveal that this construct of pastoral care, spirituality and theology fulfilled a need felt within the episcopate itself, and was diffused, both formally and informally, to provide an inspiring framework for administrative work and personal life.
This chapter focuses on the work of French clerical reformers concerning episcopal status. Throughout the seventeenth century, these reformers produced important contributions to the related issues of the nature and functions of episcopacy and the character of French episcopal reform. They principally concentrated on the hierarchical authority of bishops, and it was as a function of this that they treated the perfection of the episcopal state, its power to perfect and its obligation of personal sanctity. The chapter suggests that Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle and his disciples made crucial contributions to the development of seventeenth-century episcopal ideology through their emphasis on the superb theological character and hierarchical authority of episcopacy.
If Luther remains a figure of heroic proportions, it is due as much to the work of his admirers as to his own efforts. And Philip Melanchthon, Luther's closest colleague, was so successful in creating a legendary Luther that his own role in Reformation history has been regarded as less substantial and influential than it actually was. After being called to Wittenberg, Melanchton showed potential to make it a center for humanism. Later, the ninety-five issues that Martin Luther listed as debatable struck at the heart of Catholic practice. They also served as articles in an indictment of traditional ecclesiastical authority. Within a year Luther would become the pole around which Western Christendom would orientate itself. Within three years Luther himself would be condemned and excommunicated by the Roman church; and before his death the dividing lines that demarcate the Western confessions to this day would be firmly in place.
This chapter presents Philip Melanchthon's life history of Dr Martin Luther. Here, Melanchthon paints his friend in a good light, nothing his contributions to faith and the Church. These were a few controversies, such as when Luther was not certainly getting rid of indulgences themselves, but only urging moderation. Luther added to the explanation of the doctrines on penance, the remission of sins, faith and indulgences, also these topics: the difference between divine and human laws, the doctrine on the use of the Supper of the Lord and the other Sacraments, and concerning Prayers. The chapter notes that just as he entered upon this cause without desire for private gain, he only battled by teaching and avoided taking up arms, and he wisely distinguished the conflicting duties of a Bishop teaching the Church of God, and of Magistrates, who restrain the multitude by the sword.