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ANECDOTES AND CHARACTERS.
CHARACTER of GREGORY VII.
[Extracted from BERINGTON'S Hiftory of the Lives of Abeillard and Heloifa.]
ILDEBRAND, the famous Gregory the Seventh, then wore the triple crown. He had been educated at Cluni, a French monaftery of high renown, in the feverity of monaftic difcipline; had then rifen to the first dignities of the church; and during the pontificates of five fucceeding popes, had been honoured with their confidence in the discharge of the moft arduous bufinefs.It is well known what a torrent of vice had then spread itfelf over the face of Christendom: to ftem this, in vain had every effort been made, which honeft virtue and christian zeal could fuggeft. Hildebrand, with the keen fenfibility of a virtuous mind, had long viewed the fallen state of religion, and he afcended the papal throne, with the unanimous approbation of all orders of the Roman church, big with vaft defigns of reformation. "We chufe Hildebrand for the true vicar of Christ, (they are the words ufed at his election,) a man of much learning, of great piety, of prudence, juftice, fortitude, and religion. He is modeft, abftemious, and chafte; regular in the difcipline of his family, hofpitable to the poor, and from his tender years
nurfed in the bofom of our holy church to him we give thofe powers of fupremacy, which Peter once received from the mouth of God."
"The fource of the evils, he lamented, lay, it was evident, in the general corruption of manners, in the unbounded fway of paffion, and in the abufe of power. With an intrepi dity of foul, that perhaps was never equalled, he dared fingly to oppofe this multitudinous enemy, and he called the fovereigns of Europe to his tribunal. The motives which led him on, and the habits of stern vir tue, which had fteeled his character, excluded almoft the poffibility of fufpicion, that he himself perhaps was arrogating a power, which belonged not to him, and from the abufe of which even greater evils might enfue than thofe he aimed to fupprefs. Minds of the widest comprehenfion may be fometimes fo engroffed by a fingle object, as to be infenfible to the most obvious deductions, which reafon in vain holds up before them. But the mif-conceptions of Gregory were thofe of a great man, and his errors were, in part, the errors of the age.
"To effectuate more completely the fchemes he had in view, he
conceived the bold defign of making himself fole monarch of the earth. The concerns of Europe, whether ecclefiaftical or civil, would then be brought within his own cognizance; he would diftribute favours, as merit might feem to call for them; and he would difpofe of crowns, which, too often, he ob ferved, fell upon the heads of the unworthy, or of men who knew not the proper ufe of power.
"Enthroned in the chair of the humble fisherman, Gregory put his hand to the work. The fimoniacal difpofal of church livings was a crying fin, which called aloud for redrels, and he he fitated not to aim the first blow at the very root of the diforder, though it lay in the rapacious breast of power, and in the courts of princes.-The incontinence of the clergy was another foul ftain on religion; for the fons of God feeing the daughters of men that they were fair, took to them helpmates from among all that they chofe. The ftern pontiff had no indulgence for this weaknefs
"Studious of reconciling the long divided churches of the Eaft and Weft, he had proposed to proceed himself to Conftantinople, and to bring the grand controverfy to iffue. The difturbances of Europe forbad it. He wrote to the Grecian emperor, who had implored his fuccour, that, at the head of the powers of the West, he would march to his affistance; and he conjured the German Henry and William duke of Burgundy to join him in the enterprife.-The idea did honour to the magnanimous fpirit of Gregory; but twenty more years were to elapfe before Europe would be prepared to fend her holy warriors againft the infidel powers of the Eaftern world.
"He reprimanded Salomon king of Hungary, that he had dared to accept the investiture of his realm from the hand of the emperor, and not from Rome. Hungary, faid he, was rendered feudatory of the holy fee by Stephen, the beft of her kings, and your right of holding the fceptre is from hence.
"He wrote to the kings of Denmark, of Sweden, and of Norway, reproving what had been ill done, and urging them to the due difcharge of their duties in the support of religion, and in procuring the welfare of their people; but particularly he preffes on their attention a filial obedience to the apoftolic fee.
"The murder of Stanislaus, bifhop of Cracow, he revenged on the Polish king and the other perpetrators of the crime, in the most fignal manner. In execration of the deed, the whole kingdom was laid under an interdict, the king deprived of all regal power, and his fubjects ab folved from their allegiance. None of the fons of thofe, who either aided or advised the crime, faid he,
fhall be promoted to holy orders to the end of the fourth generation. "The kingdom of Spain, he pretended, had, from time immemorial, belonged to the Roman church; and when the count de Ronci applied to him for permiffion to retain the lands he might conquer from the Saracens, who then poffeffed them; he granted his prayer, on condition, he fhould hold them in the name of St. Peter. But I would rather, he obferved, they fhould remain in the hands of the infidels, than that Chriftians fhould poffefs them, who might refufe to do homage to the holy fee.
Alfonfus, king of Cafile, who had married the near relation of his first wife, he threatened with excommunication, if he dared to cohabit any longer with her; and he admonished him to remove the evil counsellors, who had advised him perverfely. "Weighing, with awful refolution, fays he, the value of earthly poffeffions, it is then, I think, that a bishop beft merits his name, when, in the caufe of justice, he fuffers perfecution. In obedience to the laws of heaven, I will rather be hated by the wicked than flatter their defires, and incur the anger of an irritated God.”
"To Dalmatia, the ftates of Venice, and to Sardinia, he wrote in the fame tyle of a judge and their fupreme governor.-Even to the inhofpitable climes of Ruffia he extended his monarchical jurisdiction. "Your fon, fays he to king Demetrius, has been with me, requesting that I would make over your kingdom to him, in the name of St. Peter. His petition appeared juft, and I granted it."
"The fons of count Raymond had quarrelled: Gregory, as the umpire between contending princes, undertook to reconcile then. "Tell
them, fays he, that, if they dif obey my orders, and continue enemies, I will deprive them of the protection of St. Peter: them and their abettors I will retrench from the fociety of Christians; from that moment, their arms fhll be fuccefsiefs in war, nor fhall they ever profper."
William, our Norman conqueror, he treated with unufual lenity; he fpeaks of his virtues, of his moderation, and his justice; and because he had fhewn more refpect than other princes towards the holy fee, his regal power, he thinks, fhould be more mildly handled. But when he fent his legate into England to demand an oath of fealty to himself and fucceffors, and to urge the more regular payment of the fubfidy due to Rome, the monarch answered, that the money fhould be remitted;
but as to the oath, faid he, I neither have nor will make it, becaufe I have never promifed it, nor do I find that it was ever made by my predeceffors to yours."-The pontiff was irritated; it is his fubmiffion, and not his money, that I value, faid he; but he acquiefced : he seemed to be awed by William, and probably admired in him that boldness of fpirit, which, from the dukedom of Normandy, had raised him to the throne of England.
"The fame was not his moderation towards Philip, king of France. Hearing that he had refufed to admit to their fees fome bishops, who had been canonically chofen, he addreffed a letter to the French prelates, expreffive of his ftrongest indignation: "either your king, faid he, fhall ceafe from his fimoniacal conduct, or the realm of France, ftruck by a general anathema, fhall withdraw from his obedience, unlefs they rather chufe to renounce their Chriftianity." Philip gave