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church, they might chance to lose them, de“ tained their priests from complaining of these
people, who in every thing else had shewn them“ selves to be honest men, and who had enriched “ the whole country, even the priests themselves. “ Thus were they maintained by their lords
against all envy; and that, notwithstanding the
priests, until the year 1560, at which time they “ could no longer defend them against the pope's " thunderbolts."
My apology for inserting this extended extract will be found in its characteristic simplicity, and in the fact that it contains whatever is known respecting a numerous and interesting people through an interval of nearly two centuries. Ten years had scarcely passed, since this emigration from the valley of Pragela and Dauphine, when the Waldenses of those districts, and such as were scattered through Ambrun, Vienna, Geneva, Savoy, and Avignon, with their neighbouring provinces, were assailed by persecution. Clement, the anti-pope, whose contest with Urban the sixth, had proved so favorable to the cause of the reformed opinions as promulgated by Wycliffe, had fixed his residence at Avignon ; and in the year 1380, he empowered the mendicant, Francis Borelli to make inquisition for heresy through the french territories, and those of the allies of France. The prelates within those limits, --for there alone was the authority of Clement admitted, -were required to aid the zeal of the friar, that no diocese might be found a resting place to the proscribed Waldensian. Borelli opened his
4 Perrin, Hist. c. v.
commission at Ambrun, by calling upon the inha- CHAP. bitants of Erassiniere, of Argentier, and of the valley Pute, to appear before him, under pain of excommunication. The summons
was disregarded, and “the last, and most direful excom“munication of offenders," was pronounced. From the year 1380, to the year 1393, the mendicant continued to exercise his authority with the same pitiless severity. The goods of such as were convicted, were divided ; two-thirds to the clergy, and one to the magistrate; and all persons, as they would avoid the penalties denounced against the favorers of heretics, were forbidden to hold the remotest intercourse with them; or to perform in their behalf, the humblest service of humanity. The heretic, himself, if a priest, was deprived of his benefice and of his office; if a layman, his will became invalid, his inheritance lost, and along with it every virtue which the sacraments were supposed to convey, together with the rights of sepulture. Nor were these attempts to crush the race which had so long protested against the corruptions of the mystical Babylon, without some appearance of suc
In the valley Pute alone, the names of a hundred and fifty men were preserved as those of persons who had fallen into the hands of the emissaries of Clement, and who had sealed their faith with their blood ; not to mention “ divers
women with many of their sons and daughters - well stricken in years.
While the disciples of Peter Waldo, were thus
• Ibid. c. jii.
CHAP. variously diffused through the provinces of Ger
many, of France, and of Italy itself; there is evidence that they were not unknown in Poland, in Spain, in Bohemia, and along the farthest shores of the Adriatic. But in every locality the same vicissitudes attended them. In no few instances, the profits which arose from the confiscation of their property appears to have supplied the principal motive to persecution ;in others it resulted from that mixture of irritation and contempt that is not unfrequently produced by objects which if too insignificant to create alarm, are sufficiently important to prove an annoyance. Despised, however, as the feeble remnant of the Waldenses certainly was at this period, they were to do much toward preserving among the nations of the continent, the seeds of that momentous revolution which stands so prominently connected with the names of Wycliffe, Huss, and Luther.
The protection afforded to the new settlers in of the no- Calabria, by the lords of the soil, was in most of bility in
its circumstances, the counterpart of that which voring dissenters was generally conferred upon the same people
by the nobility in the neighbourhood of their rechy,
sidence. In districts where their continuance was such as to render them known, this consequence almost invariably followed. It arose, perhaps, in some measure from those motives of interest which the industry and frugality of the sectaries contributed so largely to affect; and in others from an admiration of those unquestionable virtues which were found to distinguish these suspected
from the hierar
communities. From considerations of this nature, CHAP.
V. nobles, who were not themselves prepared to abandon the communion of Rome, were often constrained to shelter a people known to be opposed to its pretensions. It is probable, also, that they frequently saw much to deplore in the ambition or the worldliness of the priesthood; and in the superstitions which were generally imposed on the people; and that perceiving the virtues which the papal sacraments were not always known to confer, could exist in contempt of them; they began in some instances to sympathize with these humble devotees in their sighs to escape from the yoke of the pontiffs. But the machinery of despotism, had been too long, and too completely adjusted, with a view to crush every victim that would be free, to admit of being materially injured by local and isolated efforts. The reformation to be attempted by such influence, could refer but to the details, or to the more glaring abuses of the system, leaving all its great principles and the sources of its strength undisturbed.
The whole of these motives, though in themselves of various excellence, imply much that is honorable with respect to the character of the parties who were so often indebted to them for protection. Considerations of the .mixed cha- Probable racter described, appear to have influenced the of John mind of the duke of Lancaster in patronizing the if Cannt english reformer. The encroachments of the pa- nizing
Wycliffe. pacy, not only in reference to the honors and the property of the english church, but through that medium on the authority of the crown, and on the whole administration of the country, had evi
CHAP. dently displeased him; and rendered the labours
of a man who could shew that such things were as unlike pure christianity, as they were unfriendly to the interests of the nation, an object worthy of his marked encouragement. Accordingly so long as the zeal of the rector of Lutterworth was limited to the discipline emanating from the court of Rome; or to the more obnoxious of the superstitions which its authority had sanctioned; the shield of Lancaster was over him. But through a considerable interval, previous to the meeting at Oxford in 1382, Wycliffe had extended his attacks from the politics to the doctrine of the hierarchy, and that in many particulars beside the point of the real presence. This distinction between the spiritual dogmas of the church, and the features of her external polity, had long been familiar to the laity of Europe; and the reformer's innovations upon the one, would not fail to alarm many of his contemporaries, who had been most sincere in his cause while concerning himself only with the other. Thus it was in general upon the the continent, and thus it long continued to be in England. To a solicitude for the independence of his country, the duke certainly added a respect for literature, and for good men; and from these causes alone, he might honestly favor the efforts, which were designed to secure some narrower limits to the empire of the popes. His second marriage, however, so plainly contracted, but to open his way to the monarchy which had been disgraced by Peter the cruel; and the nature of his subsequent connection with Catharine Swinford ; are particulars in his history which cannot be ren