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fraternal displeasure, their influence was doomed to disappear.
During the captivity of “ St. Louis in Egypt,” observes Mr. Hallam,
an extensive and terrible ferment broke out in “ Flanders, and spread from thence over great
part of France. An impostor declared himself “ commissioned by the virgin to preach a crusade, “not to the rich and noble, who for their pride “had been rejected of God, but to the poor.
His disciples were called Pastoureaux, the simpli“ city of shepherds having exposed them more “ readily to this delusion. In a short time they
were swelled by the confluence of abundant “ streams to a moving mass of a hundred thousand
men, divided into companies, with banners bear“ing a cross and a lamb, and commanded by the
- impostor's lieutenants. He assumed a priestly “ character, preaching, absolving, annulling mar
riages. At Amiens, Bourges, Orleans, and Paris
itself, he was received as a divine prophet. “ Even the regent Blanche, for a time, was led away by the popular tide.
His main topic was reproach of the clergy for their idleness “ and corruption, a theme well adapted to the “ears of the people who had long been uttering “ similar strains of complaint. In some towns his
followers massacred the priests and plundered " the monasteries. The government at length
began to exert itself, and the public sentiment “ turning against the authors of so much con
fusion, this rabble was put to the sword or dissipated. Seventy years afterwards, an insur
44 Hallam, iii. 295. Du Cange, v. Capuciati. VOL. II.
“rection almost exactly parallel to this burst “out under the same pretence of a crusade. “ These insurgents, too, bore the name of Pas“ toureaux, and their short career was distin“guished by a general massacre of the jews.
But an exhibition of this kind, which extended more generally from the populace to the higher classes was that of the flagellants. In Italy, toward the middle of the thirteenth century, numbers of these fanatics were seen in the streets and public roads. They usually passed two by two, forming extended processions, and while they inflicted on each other the torture of a leathern scourge, made the air to resound with groans, or hymns of lamentation. This mania, though it failed to obtain the sanction of the church, and was seriously discountenanced by the magistrate, wore so much the appearance of sincerity, that it spread through various of the continental states, and was not unknown to this country. The story also of the Italian Bianchi, is amply recorded by those who were witnesses of their extravagant singularities; and while referring to a period so late as the opening of the fifteenth century, is fraught with the same proofs of religious derangement, and criminal propensity;-demonstrating the folly, of regarding the gloom of the popular mind, as affording any permanent security against the most fatal igniting of its passions.47
45 View of the State of Europe, iii. 387, 388.
47 It would not appear to be correct, as stated by Mr. Hallam, that the sect of the flagellants “ soon died away,” (iii. 344.) Mosheim, in his His
The reader will perceive from these details, that CHAP. to account for the insurrection of the commons under Wat Tyler, it is by no means necessary
innocence we should be apprised of the labours of Wycliffe with reand his followers, or that we should be aware of the disorsuch a mind as existing in this country at the 1381. period. 8 Côvulsions, equally menacing both to the civil, and the ecclesiastical authorities of the age, we perceive as the result of causes to which such influence as that of our reformer bore no essential relation. The common discernment of
tory of the Fourteenth Century, (iii. 381, 382.) describes them not only as existing, but as become more extravagant than ever in their speculations and their practices. “ These flagellants" he observes, “whose en“ thusaism infected every rank, sex, and age, were much worse than the “ old ones. They not only supposed that God might be prevailed upon
to show mercy to those who underwent voluntary punishments, but pro
pagated other tenets highly injurious to religion. They held, among “other things, that flagellation was of equal virtue with baptism, and the “ other sacraments; that the forgiveness of all sins was to be obtained “ by it from God without the merits of Jesus Christ; that the old law of “ Christ was soon to be abolished, and that a new law, enjoining the bap“ tism of blood, to be administered by whipping, was to be substituted “ in its place.” It was a century after the exploits of this sect had made much noise in Germany, that they made their appearance in England. In the latter half of the fourteenth century another sect arose, which by violent dancing and other peculiarities announced themselves the votaries of mirth rather than of sadness. These were pitied by many of the clergy, as possessed with devils, and some instances of successful exorcism are on record for the edification of future times, ibid. But such extravagances were the legitimate and constant result of the ecclesiastical system which prevailed during the middle ages, and the germ of protestantism which survived in the midst of them, has been the scape-goat to which catholics impute the guilt of every disorder belonging to that dreary interval.
Froissart, who is minute in his account of the english insurrections, repeatedly asserts that John of Gaunt was the peculiar object of the popular resentment, but except as arising from the declamations of John Ball, never for a moment suspects a religious motive as having produced any portion of the tumult. His humane opinion, indeed, is, that it all arose from “the too great comfort of the commonalty," who at the same time are described as more oppressed with respect to the services con nected with villanage, than any people in Europe. Hist. ubi supra.
men could hardly fail to be offended, on witnessing the oppressions which so frequently proceeded from the state, and the corruptions which had so long disfigured every portion of the church. And if in attempting the work of improvement, the remedy proved in some instances more afflictive than the disease; this want of skilfulness in the men who sought the renovation of decayed or corrupted institutions, must be numbered among the evils introduced by the advocates of lawless authority on the one hand, and those of superstition on the other. Difficult, indeed, would it have been in such an age, to have uttered any marked generosity of sentiment in relation to the people, without becoming numbered by their various oppressors with the most revolutionary and dangerous members of the state. That the adversaries of Wycliffe, should impute to him a share in the guilt of Tyler's atrocities, is accordingly an event in no way mysterious. If, however, there be certainty in history, it is beyond doubt that the lessons of inspiration which formed in the rector of Lutterworth so determined a foe of the great anti-christian apostacy, were also an authority to which he bowed with sacred submission when describing the legitimate claims of the magistrate, or the just pretensions of the christian pastor. It would not be difficult, indeed, to cite from his manuscripts the most fearless reproofs of prevalent abuses ; but no industry of his opponents has yet been sufficient to convict him of lending his sanction to violence, as the means of redressing any existing grievance, whether relating to the church or the state. This subject will again claim our attention; but before
dismissing it here, the recorded judgment of the CHAP. better informed, and the less prejudiced portion of Wycliffe's contemporaries as to the real cause of the tumult described, is deserving of notice.
Even the pages of Walsingham afford a com- Their real plete vindication of our reformer on this point, as cording to in the opinion of that historian, the insurrection ham. arose from the general depravity of the people; and it is farther stated by him as a part of the confession made by a leader of the rebels, that their meditated destruction of the hierarchy was to make way
for the sole establishment of the mendicants. Had the “ poor priests ” adhering to Wycliffe, been thus singled out, however unjustly, it is needless to remark the matter of triumph which would have been thus afforded to the orthodox; and from this circumstance it is equally obvious, that had the wild scheme of the insurgents been realized, the rector of Lutterworth would have been just the last man in the kingdom to have viewed it with pleasure.99
But while the monk of St. Albans saw these And the disorders as the chastisement of national crime, of the parthe members of the commons' house of parliament
49 It is affirmed by Froissart that full two-thirds of the people knew not why they had assembled, and that the plunder of the opulent was shown by their conduct to be the principal motive to revolt. Hence Mr. Lewis observes that archbishop Parker's remark seems very true, that “it is owing to pure hatred of the Wycliffites, that some have falsely and “ ignorantly pretended that John Balle was one of them.” Lewis, cx. 227, 228. Catholic writers have been for some time aware that it is useless to speak of Ball as the disciple of Wycliffe, and they have accordingly agreed to invert the relation ;-for either will do, inasmuch as to have been the tutor of Ball was to be the parent of sedition, and to be his fol. lower was to be the mere ape of a demagogue. Ball's disorderly conduct had attracted the notice of his superiors before the year 1366. Wilkins. iii. 64. 152.