Correspondence Between Professor Voigt And The Bishop Of Rochelle -- By: Emerson
BSac 4:15 (Aug 1847) p. 541
Correspondence Between Professor Voigt And The Bishop Of
[The following letters are taken from the last edition of Prof. Voigt’s Life and Times of Hildebrand.1
Before presenting the letters, it is needful to give some account of the work itself by which they were occasioned and to which they so frequently refer. On its own account, too, the work is well worthy of a more extended notice than can here be given, being one of the most interesting and important productions of the kind. It everywhere bears marks of a thorough acquaintance with the original sources, and of a vigorous and inde-
BSac 4:15 (Aug 1847) p. 541
pendent mind. The events portrayed are exceedingly numerous and well arranged, and cast so strong a light on that profoundly dark and eventful period, as to bring the eleventh century almost as near to us as the fifteenth.
According to Prof. Voigt, the grand object of Hildebrand (Gregory VII), was, to purify the church from simony, to enforce the celibacy of the clergy, and to elevate the papal above the imperial throne. All three of these objects were intimately connected together. In order to suppress what he called simony, the pope must be able to punish the princes as well as the clergy for practising it—the sellers as well as the buyers of benefices. And in order to remove from the clergy the temptation to simony, and to emancipate them from a sordid dependence on the State, they must abandon their wives and families and live on nothing. Thus detached from servility to the civil power, the clergy would unite harmoniously with their head in subjecting the princes to his sway. This threefold object was the grand effort of Gregory’s life. To its accomplishment he devoted all the energies of his mighty mind, both before and after his elevation to the throne. A more complicated and arduous task was never assumed by a mortal. For in achieving it, he had to subjugate, not only the kings, but also his own clergy, and to encounter, not only the worst, but also the best as well as the strongest passions of our nature—ambition, avarice, luxury, and likewise the fondness for the domestic relations. Nothing but a concurrence of the most favorable circumstances could have enabled even a Hildebrand to succeed at all in such a crusade against human nature. And even be, after a twelve-year’s struggle and after the most wonderful successes, fell at last in the conflict, uttering, as his last words, “I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and therefore I die in banishment.”
To him, the exaltation of the papacy was the perfection of righteousness. Prof. Voigt, however,...
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