- Christogenea Saturdays
The Devil in Luther's Dreams, Part 4
Here is our fourth discussion on the Roman Catholic Church and the humanists of Martin Luther's Germany. This is really a sub-topic in a broader discussion which we hope to continue throughout the coming year, which we have titled Martin Luther in Life and Death. In our first presentation in this endeavor, we discussed aspects of Luther's own life, and we saw that he himself was a humanist, one of the so-called “poets”, who upon having had an epiphany, suddenly turning to Christianity and joined a monastery.
From there we have been presenting a series which we have subtitled The Devil in Luther's Dream, where we have hoped to illustrate the nature of the Roman Catholic Church that the humanist-turned-priest Martin Luther had later sought to reform, and when he found that he could not reform it, he sought to liberate himself and his German Catholic Church from its clutches. What we call the Reformation should in that essence have instead been called the Liberation. It would eventually result in the 30 Years' War and the destruction of much of Medieval Germany.
We have been following something called The Reuchlin Controversy, and that is because the historian that we chose to follow for this series, Johannes Janssen, had wisely chosen this controversy as the centerpiece in order to describe the turmoil which was rising in Germany at the time. There were many Germans, as well as Italians, who sought to destroy the books and the writings of the Jews. As this issue was once again surfacing in Germany, the lawyer, Cabalist and humanist philosopher Johann Reuchlin came to the defense of the Jewish writings in published booklets of his own. As Reuchlin was opposed by the Theologians of the University at Cologne, which was Germany's largest university, the case came to be heard in the courts of bishops, the emperor, and then the pope. It not only became a defining case in the struggle between Christianity and the survival of Judaism in Europe in Luther's time, but we have also seen that the greater number of Germany's humanists and young pagans, whose new philosophy was the direct result of humanism, were rallying to Reuchlin's side of the debate.
Hopefully, we have already sufficiently explained that the humanists of the 15th and 16th centuries, who were essentially pagans, were not only opposing the Church from the outside, but also from the inside. Rather than seek to reform the Church in favor of true Biblical Christianity, they sought to destroy it in favor of anti-Christian and pagan immorality. Notable humanists within the Catholic Church, such as Erasmus and Mutian, had large followings throughout both clerical and secular Germany, and they were also actively supporting Reuchlin's position, which favored the Jews. Traditional Christians, not only Augustinian monks such as Luther but also Dominican monks such as Jacob Hoogstraten and Conrad Collin, were opposed to the Jews and wanted to destroy their books. If they had prevailed, what could Europe have been like today? Yet the humanists and pagans prevailed, and 30 years later, in his essay On the Jews and Their Lies, Martin Luther was still urging the destruction of the Jewish books, while he also explained that the Jews were bragging that they had come into the control of Germany. The Jews could only have controlled Germany, because they were also greatly influencing the humanists, but the proof of that lies only in the obvious result. Three hundred and thirty years later Wilhelm Marr was writing to complain that the Jews had conquered Germany, in the 1870's! This is the legacy of humanism and paganism. This is also the inheritance of the secular, or humanist, or pagan so-called “White Nationalists” of today, who are no less whores for the Jews than their predecessors were four and even five hundred years ago.
We left off from our account with the introduction of a young humanist named Ulrich von Hutten. Our historian now uses the life of Hutten in order to help explain how the humanists, which were already in great numbers among the clerics, had also sought to infiltrate and control the courts of the German bishops. It can be established that the court of the de Medici pope was overrun with humanists, and our historian will describe that for us as well. Once we realize that humanists were in control of the courts of the bishops and popes, which were in turn using the common Christians as their primary source of revenue, then we may realize the importance of Luther's demands for reformation, and later break from the Roman Catholic Church.
Now we shall continue this account from our primary source, The History of the German People at the Close of the Middle Ages by Johannes Janssen, Volume 3, Book 5, published in an English translation by A.M. Christie in London in 1900. Ulrich von Hutten was a friend of Crotus Rubianus, who had introduced him to the German humanists at the university in Erfurt, While presenting the life of Luther we also mentioned this Crotus Rubianus, because he was a good friend of Luther's while Luther was a humanist. Rubianus was one of those allegedly German poets who despised his allegedly German heritage, as there were many of those at this time who were enamored with Greco-Roman paganism and who had changed their original German names for Latin and Greek names. [Here we must offer a digression: the people who embrace ridiculous things such as Odinism often persist in claims that Germanic paganism was handed down through the centuries, and they are all lying. Modern Germanic paganism was only contrived after the more recent discovery and translation into modern languages of some ancient Germanic poetry. For instance, Beowulf was not known to modern Englishmen until it was discovered in old manuscripts and translated in the mid-19th century. The Poetic Edda was unknown to scholars until the Codex Regius was rediscovered and came to be possessed by a certain Christian bishop in 1643. These things were never read widely until vernacular translations which were only made in relatively recent decades. The first English translation of the Poetic Edda was published in 1797, and the first German translations appeared only a few years sooner than that. The Prose Edda was never published on the continent of Europe before the 1630's, over a hundred years after the time of which we now speak. Odinists and other neo-pagans are revisionist clowns following in the footsteps of the German humanists. Real Germanic paganism was all voluntarily cast away by real Germans over a thousand years ago. There is no fruit in paganism.]
We left off with a description of Ulrich von Hutten's criticism of Pope Julius II, who died the same year, in 1513. Hutten had been studying, and bumming, as he was wont to do, in Italy. Here he evidently attempts to do the same thing in Germany. The humanist academic as a parasite, just like the coffee-shop hippies of the 19th and 20th centuries, is fully manifest in Hutten, where it is evident that he fed off of the system that he desired to destroy rather than reform. Now we shall continue with this volume of The History of the German People, from page 67:
On his return from Italy in 1514 he tried his luck at the court of the Archbishop of Mayence, Albrecht von Brandenburg, where his patron, Eitelwolf von Stein, a friend of Mutian’s, held an inﬂuential post. [So the humanist infiltration should already be apparent.] As a revolutionist, who would fain have turned the world upside down, Hutten was scarcely a friend of princes, but, for the sake of the object they had in view, his party [meaning the pagan humanists], he said, must make use of this species of humanity, and must praise and ﬂatter them as Augustuses and Maecenases. [The reference is to Gaius Cilnius Maecenas, who was a friend and political advisor to Octavian, the future Augustus.] They must throw out nets in all directions to catch their favour; they must cringe before them; they must wheedle themselves into their service as lawyers and theologians, and not be too proud to accept ofﬁces from them. In 1514 he addressed Albrecht in a poem as ‘the ornament of his age,’ ‘a jewel of piety, protector of the peace and defender of learning.’ In this poem he makes the Rhine call all the river gods together to celebrate the glory of Archbishop Albrecht, and he himself comes forward to greet his ‘king and lord’ as follows: ‘Say, O Prince, What more will you achieve, you, who in the ﬂower of your youth are already greater than all your predecessors?’ The prince in question, then a youth of four-and-twenty, did not possess a single merit besides his high birth. [And he was an archbishop!] But owing to the accident of birth, according to the scandalous usage of the times, after having already been elected Archbishop of Magdeburg and administrator of the bishopric of Halberstadt, he was promoted, in addition, to be Archbishop of Mayence and Primate of the German Church.
Even such a young man as Albrecht von Brandenburg was, he had every chance to be as educated as the poets seeking to infiltrate and subvert him. Ulrich Von Hutten was born only 26 months earlier than von Brandenburg was in 1490. The Book of Daniel, in chapter 11, three times warns of the dangers of flatteries. As the Proverbs say (29:5), “A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.” The Psalms also warn against flatterers: “1 Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. 2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.” Continuing from the bottom of page 67, we see in turn the humanist Erasmus flattering von Hutten. Ostensibly using his great influence to elevate the stature of his fellow humanist, Erasmus would also assist his plan to infiltrate the court of the archbishop:
Erasmus prophesied from Hutten’s panegyric that a great epic poet was about to appear in Germany. Albrecht sent the poet a present of two hundred gold ﬂorins, and held out to him the prospect of a post at his court as soon as he should have completed the study of jurisprudence, which he had begun in Italy. [While von Hutten himself was probably not a jew, it has long been a device of the jews to gain power and influence through flattery. The relationship between Disraeli and Victoria is a prime example. The history of the Frankists in Poland, converso Jews who by systematic flattery in the 18th century had corrupted much of the Polish noble class, is also an example that must be studied at greater length.] For this purpose, with pecuniary assistance from Albrecht, Hutten travelled to Rome, and later on to Bologna, cherishing all the time hatred and enmity against the ‘hypocritical, corrupt race of theologians and monks.’ While in Rome he followed the great Reuchlin case with close attention, but thought it a matter of perfect indifference whether the Pope condemned Reuchlin or not. ‘ A single arrow shot by Erasmus at a scoundrel,’ he wrote, ‘ could not be of less consequence to me than ten of that Florentine’s anathemas, which for many and valid reasons are no longer much regarded by any one possessing any remnant of manliness.’
With Erasmus, Hutten had already made acquaintance at Mayence in the year 1514, and soon after that he began to praise the ‘genuine theology’ which this famous scholar had resuscitated. [We have already illustrated the fact that Erasmus was a pagan humanist, and not a Christian at all.] Although in his enthusiasm for heathen antiquity he had remained in complete ignorance of all Christian science, and especially of theological matters, he addressed Erasmus in a letter as the ‘German Socrates,’ who was no less solicitous about the education of the German people than Socrates had been about that of his own nation. He said that he should cleave to him as faithfully as Alcibiades had to Socrates.
With the literary examples and analogies chosen by men such as von Hutten, we should learn something of their philosophical and moral ideals. While Socrates had a great mind and many seemingly good ideas, on the other side of the coin he was also an immoral pagan. He is accused of homosexuality, and Alcibiades was allegedly one of his lovers as well as one of his students. It is established that Alcibiades was from one of the noble families of Athens who had advocated the aggressive foreign policy that helped to destroy both Athens and Sparta in the Peloponnesian Wars. Even if he was not a homosexual, he advocated Athenian political interests at the expense of many hundreds of thousands of the lives of his fellow Greeks. Thus is the legacy of humanism, and von Hutten as well as Erasmus were seeking to ensure its continuity. It is also evident that von Hutten (just like the modern neo-pagans) made himself the enemy of learning which he actually knew little about, as we continue from the bottom of page 68 of our book:
‘Arrows against scoundrels,’ to use Hutten’s expression, had again been shot by Erasmus in 1515 by the publication of a new edition of the ‘Praise of Folly,’ with commentaries in which the learning of the schoolmen, the institution of monasticism, and the Papal Chair were viciously attacked. This edition was given out to be the work of one Gerardus Listrius, but in reality it proceeded - the chief part of it at any rate - from Erasmus himself.
The full gist and malice of the ‘Praise of Folly’ were now ﬁrst thoroughly appreciated, and the growing fame of Erasmus, added to the bitterness of party feeling engendered by the Reuchlin controversy, procured for this second edition a furious sale. At the time of its appearance other satires of even grosser nature were in course of preparation in Mutian’s circle, notably the 'Epistolae Virorum Obscurorum’ (‘Letters of Obscure Men’), written by Crotus Rubianus and Ulrich von Hutten. These letters, the first part of which appeared in 1515 and 1516, and the remainder in 1517, were expected to strike the death blow at obscurantism.
We are going to take a diversion and read a paragraph about obscurantism from an unlikely, but in this case very candid source, Wikipedia, which says “The term obscurantism derives from the title of the 16th-century satire Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum (Letters of Obscure Men), based upon the intellectual dispute between the German humanist Johann Reuchlin and Dominican monks, such as Johannes Pfefferkorn, about whether or not all Jewish books should be burned as un-Christian. Earlier, in 1509, the monk Pfefferkorn had obtained permission from Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor, to incinerate all copies of the Talmud known to be in the Holy Roman Empire; the Letters of Obscure Men satirized the Dominican monks' arguments at burning 'un-Christian' works.”
So the humanist pagans Crotus Rubianus and Ulrich von Hutten were satirizing Dominican monks in defense of the Talmud and the Jews. Those were the same Dominican monks who had preserved the Classical literature for centuries, realizing its importance. So whose side were the pagan humanists really on? Returning to page 69 of our history:
Nearly the whole of the ‘Epistolae’ relate to the Reuchlin controversy, but their real object was not so much to shower scorn on Reuchlin’s antagonists as to attack the authority of the Church. As Justus Menius rightly pointed out later on, the Cologne obscurantists were not the real mark of the libellous shafts; the authority of the Church was already being undermined. Erasmus had no share in the composition of these Letters; on the contrary he deprecated their tone; but Prince Carpi was justiﬁed in saying that it was the ‘Praise of Folly’ that had put their weapons into the hands of the authors of the ‘Epistolae,’ and that Erasmus was thus their spiritual father. In substance they were in fact little more than a reproduction of the ‘Praise of Folly’ carried to the extreme of grossness and personality. The most objectionable parts of them, as in the earlier satire, are those which make fun of the Holy Ghost. Erasmus had allowed himself free and irreverent use of Scripture for purposes of caricature: in the ‘Letters of Obscure Men’ monks who were held up to derision were made to quote passages from the Bible in extenuation of obscene matters. Erasmus, a man devoid of all moral seriousness, set himself up as an eloquent preacher of morality, and turned the whole system of monasticism into ridicule; but he abstained from mentioning individuals. His successors, Crotus and Hutten, bespattered named individuals with the mud in which they themselves wallowed [which is the common jewish ploy of projection], and did not even spare the immaculate Arnold von Tungern, whom they accused of writing most shameful things and of carrying on an adulterous connection with the wife of Pfefferkorn.
The similes in the ‘Epistolae’ are of the most offensive description. Our Lord Jesus Christ is compared to Cadmus; as Cadmus Went forth in search of his sister, so Christ seeks after his sister the human soul; because Christ had two nativities, one before all time and another in his human form, he is compared to the twice-born Bacchus; Semele, who brought up Bacchus, signiﬁes the Virgin Mary. The Pope is spoken of with the utmost derision, confession and the worship of relics are ridiculed; the holy vestment at Treves is called a shabby old coat, and the three holy kings of Cologne are said to have been probably three Westphalian peasants.
The ‘genuine theology of Erasmus,’ which had become a stock phrase, plays its part in these satires, and is held out as a means for reforming the Church and dissipating the errors which have crept in. [If they had really sought to reform the church they would have had a noble endeavor, however they actually sought to replace Christianity with paganism within the Church. The church was also pagan to a great degree, but only in relation to its sacramentalism and other superficial rites. These men were immoral pagans who despised the Church and as well as true Christianity.] By such men as Erasmus, we are informed, God intends to visit with His judgment those stiff-necked divines who persist in the foul, obscure, senseless theology which was invented several hundred years ago. [It is true that much of what had become Roman Catholicism was novel, but that is not true Christianity.] From want of linguistic knowledge the divines were not in a position to understand the Scriptures. Mutian also is here included among the men chosen out to punish those people ‘who are playing their last card.’
Hoogstraten in his apology expressed himself as follows concerning the writers of this libellous book: ‘We do not intend to write in the style of those calumniators whose mouths are full of hatred and bitterness, but empty of wisdom and learning, and who delight in abusive language such as one scarcely hears from the lowest roughs. God Himself, to whom be eternal praise, will judge between them and us.’
‘He who is throned above the clouds,’ says the same writer in an apostrophe to Reuchlin, ‘knows our hearts, and is a witness that we are innocent victims of all this slander and abuse; He knows that we pray fervently to Him without ceasing, and that we have not followed the example of those professors of false doctrines who besmirch godly men with damaging obloquy. None who are lovers of truth will ever be able to say that the theologians of Cologne behaved craftily or treacherously towards you, but rather that they have only struggled for the defence of Christian truth. Nothing that we have done has been prompted by hatred, or done for the satisfaction of our own vanity; we have only acted in righteous conformity to papal injunctions, which require of us as a duty to withstand all error.’
Pfefferkorn [the converso-jew] also took up the cudgels against the ‘Epistolae’ and issued a pamphlet called the ‘Defence,’ written both in German and Latin, and a little volume called ‘Streitbüchlein,’ in which publications he inveighed against the irreverent handling of sacred things in the ‘Epistolae,’ and also against the calumnious charges aimed at him personally.
These pamphlets appeared in 1516 and 1517. Pfefferkorn dedicated them to Albrecht, Archbishop of Mayence, whom he implored to take measures against the Jews’ books, to close the Reuchlin case, which had now been dragging on for three years, and to vindicate him (Pfefferkorn) against the impugnment of his honour before both a secular and an ecclesiastical tribunal. Albrecht, however, threw aside the pamphlets without reading them and sent the bearer away without any answer. This behaviour of the Archbishop was not prompted by any idea that Pfefferkorn had gone too far in his demands against the Jews; for while he (Pfefferkorn) only proposed that their books should be taken from them, and that they should be compelled to earn their living by honest labour, and to attend sermons at stated times, Albrecht was himself at the very time working to bring about their perpetual banishment from Germany, organising a league for the purpose and endeavouring to gain more princes and towns to the cause. But he had been caught in the nets of the humanists with whom he had surrounded himself, and had taken a decided line against the Cologne Faculty, whom he would not even suffer to bring their cause before a court of justice.
As an aside, for whatever cause Albrecht von Brandenburg wanted to expel the Jews, it never happened. Evidently, Albrecht being caught in the net of the humanists, all of these plans had evaporated.
‘May the earth open and swallow up that baptised Hebrew, and all the poisonous crew of hypocritical theologians and monks who are backing him up!’ So Albrecht’s physician in ordinary, Henry Stromer, had written to Reuchlin in August 1516.
It was Archbishop Albrecht’s ambition to make his electoral court a centre of learning and art, and to imitate the Medicis on German soil. [But the de Medicis had embraced the jews.] ‘Where in the whole of Germany,’ writes Hutten, ‘is there a scholar whom Albrecht does not know, or what man of learning and culture has ever addressed himself to the Archbishop whom he has not loaded with his favour and generosity?’ Artists, like Albert Dürer and Matthäus Grünewald, miniature-painters, like Beham and Glockendon, received from him frequent commissions; sculptors and gold artiﬁcers were paid princely sums by him to enrich with splendid works of art the cathedral of Mayence and its treasuries. The Archbishop was passionately fond of music, and he procured musicians from far and near, even from Italy, to heighten the charms of those sumptuous banquets which were often graced by the presence of ladies. Richly embroidered carpets and sparkling mirrors adorned his halls and apartments; costly dishes and recherché wines covered his tables. As Prince Elector he revelled in outward pomp and magniﬁcence; he had a body-guard of a hundred and ﬁfty armed riders; crowds of court-servants in splendid liveries accompanied him when he rode in and out; pages of noble birth were trained at his court in an elegant, knightly demeanour. The brilliancy of his retinue elegant the whole atmosphere of his entourage were a theme for countless panegyrists, but were scarcely in accordance with the position and calling of archbishop and Primate of the German Church. Albrecht was by no means a man of vital, inward piety, or of serious moral character. He had never even mastered the groundwork of theology, and he did not concern himself at all about the practical training of the clergy. While regarding the scholastic learning that had hitherto been in vogue as a remnant of barbarism he held forth in rapturous terms about the divine genius of Erasmus, which was about to restore to its pristine glory the degenerate theology of the present day. [He became persuaded that pagan immorality could restore theology to pristine glory?] He promised Erasmus his zealous support, and Erasmus in return extolled Albrecht, in a letter to Reuchlin, as ‘the sole ornament of Germany in our age,’ lamenting grievously, however, that he should have lowered himself by becoming a ‘monk of the Romish Pope’ and accepting a cardinal’s hat.
So the pagan humanists flattered the all-too-young archbishop, the archbishop in turn rewarded the pagan humanists, and Germany was kept safe for the Jews, because Albrecht's plan to expel them never transpired.
The ‘ poets ’ who resided at the Archbishop’s court, freethinkers all of them, and scoffers at religion, held their meetings, according to the ‘Epistolae Virorum Obscurorum,’ [the booklet Letters of Obscure Men] in the Crown Hostel. They carried swords and rapiers at their side; they gambled for indulgence tickets, carried on blasphemous talk, and made game of any unlucky monks or ‘doctors’ whose evil stars led them to the same resort. Ulrich von Hutten, one of the frequenters of this inn, makes a monk relate in the ‘Epistolae ’ that he (Hutten) had once said, that if the Dominicans treated him as they had treated Reuchlin he would proclaim a feud against them, and cut off the noses and ears of any of them who fell into his hands.
With Hutten talk of this sort was not mere bravado. Erasmus tells later on, as a fact generally known by the people, that Hutten had actually cut off the ears of two preaching monks who had fallen into his hands, and had committed many similar acts of brutality. Feud and rapine were thoroughly in accordance with his wild, undisciplined nature. Once in 1509 he requested his cousin Ludwig von Hutten to knock down a certain tradesman, who was an enemy of his, on the way to the Frankfort fair: he was not to kill him, as that would not be advisable, but to shut him up in the tower, and he himself would ﬁnish off the punishment.
Before Hutten was actually received into the service of Archbishop Albrecht on his return from Italy in the autumn of 1817 he brought out a new edition of Laurentius Valla’s book on the ﬁctitious Donation of Constantine to Pope Sylvester and his successors, and he accompanied it with a preface to Pope Leo X., which exceeded all that had ever been written against papacy in virulent invective, scorn, and derision. He described all the former popes as robbers, plunderers, tyrants, and extortioners, who had put a money price on the pardon of sins, and had turned the punishments of the next world into a source of revenue for themselves. ‘None but the great Leo X.,’ said the hypocrite, ‘ had been a good pope’ - that same Leo of whom Hutten had spoken a short time before as a frivolous, avaricious Florentine. ‘Leo,’ he now declared, ‘had restored peace and justice, truth and freedom, and was prepared to give up his secular dominion; he would of his own accord graciously renounce what must have been taken from him by force if he had been a bad pope.’
It had, indeed, long been the maxim of Hutten that in the sacred cause of freedom force would soon become imperative, and he had shown plainly enough in his ‘Triumph of Reuchlin’ what might be expected from his ‘party,’ supposing the latter to have acquired sufficient strength for the execution of its plans. In this poem, in which he loads Reuchlin’s enemies with chains and showers insults on them, he calls on the hangman to mangle and mutilate Pfefferkorn, and drag him along by the feet. He gloats gruesomely over the tortures which the hangman is to perpetrate on Pfefferkorn:
We are going to rather reluctantly repeat the poem which our historian records:
Hurl him down with his hated face to the earth;
Upwards straighten his knees, that he may not behold the heavens,
That his staring glance may not perturb you.
With his slandering mouth let him gnaw the earth,
With his lips let him feed on the dust.
Why do you tarry, you hangman? make haste, open wide his mouth;
Tear out his tongue, tear it out, that author of evil unspeakable.
Hack off his ears and his nose, and ﬁx right fast in his feet
The iron; haul him round by his knees,
That his face and his heart may sweep the earth.
Knock out his teeth and make his lips innocuous.
Have you fastened his hands behind him and gagged him tight?
Then crop off his ﬁnger-tips as well, O hangman.
The only value for which we repeated Hutten's poem here is so that the childishly poor quality of intellect of these German pagans is brought to light. Yet Hutten reflects the sort of character with which the Archbishop of Mainz had surrounded himself, and Hutten is also the sort of cretin that Erasmus was promoting as a genius.
To many people it seemed incomprehensible that an archbishop and a Primate of the German Church should have taken such a man as Hutten into his service. ‘The ecclesiastical and the secular princes, the first even more than the last,’ wrote Prince Carpi ten years later with reference to Hutten’s literary productions, ‘are now reaping fruits which to a great extent they have sown themselves, or whose growth, at any rate, they have fostered. It is essentially with the “poets” that all the risings against Church and Commonwealth, all the violations of law and order which we see around us have had their origin. But who are they who encouraged these same “poets” and made use of their services? Church dignitaries of the highest rank have not infrequently harboured at their voluptuous courts ﬂatterers and sycophants, who in a semi-pagan spirit railed at everything that was sacred to the nation, and aimed at the subversion of all existing institutions.’ This impious poesy-mongering and literary parasitism had resulted in immeasurable evil, and the worldliness and irreligiousness of ecclesiastical princes were largely to blame for the contempt in which the clerical status had come to be held and for the anarchy with which church and state were threatened.
But this unholy poesy-mongering, Prince Carpi might have added, had met with encouragement at the Romish Court much earlier even than in Germany, and the Renaissance had already unfolded its brilliant and seductive blossoms in Rome long before it had become recognised in Germany. A very small proportion of the 120 ‘poets’ who lived at Rome under Leo X., and besieged the theatres, the palaces, and even the churches, can be credited with any Christian belief or sentiment. [Earlier in these presentations we had seen Prince Carpi, Albert III Pio, complain of the anti-Christian nature of humanists in the Church.]
The courts of very many among the German ecclesiastical princes - notably that of the Archbishop of Mayence - were in crying contradiction to the vocation of Church dignitaries, but the Court of Leo X., with its extravagant expenditure in card-playing, theatres, and all manner of worldly entertainments, was still more ﬂagrantly opposed to the position of chief overseer of the Church. The iniquity of Rome far exceeded that of the ecclesiastical princes of Germany; indeed, the worldliness and proﬂigacy of the latter would scarcely have reached the point it did, or at any rate would not have been tolerated so long, had it not been for the example set by the Pontiﬁcal Court.
In Italy, moreover, a movement of emancipation from the ancient traditions of Christian scholarship and art, and a spirit of irreverence for the great monuments of the Christian past, had been in progress long before the taint of heathenism had begun to infect learning and science in Germany.
This is the papacy which Martin Luther had come to despise, one that was living sumptuously off of the tithes and indulgence money being collected from the German people. We have seen the lifestyle of the Archbishop of Mayence described here. Bishop Albrecht was the first recipient of Martin Luther's famous 95 Theses, which Luther had written and published in 1517. That was the same year that the last of the brazenly impious Letters of Obscure Men were published by Crotus Rubianus and Ulrich von Hutten, who were living at the expense of that same bishop. Albrecht never responded to the letter which Luther had written to him along with his 95 Theses. Instead, he had them checked for heresy and sent them to Rome. The real heretics were living at Albrecht's expense and pleasure!
Returning to page 78 of our history:
One of the most striking proofs of this [referring to the humanist disdain for Roman Catholic monuments and tradition] was the order issued by Pope Julius II. for the demolition of the ancient Basilica of St. Peter’s - the shrine for centuries of universal Christendom - in order to erect on its ruins a facsimile of the Pantheon. [The Pantheon is an ancient pagan Roman edifice which actually still stands today and is very well preserved.] The scheme met with much disapproval among the population of Rome, and cries of lamentation were loud in Germany over the impending destruction of this venerable sanctuary. The opinion was uttered that such a project could have been inspired by no good evangelical spirit, but by the evil genius of profane art, and that it would not bring a blessing, but rather a curse, on the country. Julius II. had proclaimed a sale of indulgences for laying the foundations of this new St. Peter’s Church. Leo X. renewed the sale in 1514, in order to raise money for the completion of the building, and employed the Minorites [Franciscan monks] to proclaim the Bulls relating to the sale.
The chief papal commissioner for North Germany was the Archbishop Albert of Mayence, and it occurred to him that he might proﬁt by this favourable opportunity for paying off the debt which he had incurred with the Fuggers of Augsburg for remittance of the Pallium money to Rome. These Pallium fees amounted at that time in the archbishopric of Mayence to a sum of not less twenty thousand Rhenish ﬂorins, which had to be contributed by the different provinces of the diocese. Within the space of one decade this enormous sum had been paid up twice - after the death of Archbishop Berthold von Henneberg in 1504 and of Jacob von Liebenstein in 1508. Hence the cathedral chapter, on a fresh vacancy of the Papal Chair in 1514, after the death of Uriel von Gemmingen, had gladly accepted Albert’s proposal, if he were chosen Archbishop, to bear the costs of the Pallium himself. Albert had borrowed the money from the Fuggers, and the latter were now referred to the Pope’s dealers for repayment of this debt out of the proceeds of the sale of indulgences, half of which was to be handed over to them and the other half to the building fund of St. Peter’s.
The Fuggers were an immensely rich family of international bankers based in Augsburg, which is west-northwest of Munich. They were the German Rothschilds of the 15th and 16th centuries, although with a precursory inspection they seem to have been German, and I have not yet determined if there was a Jewish connection. Others have already asked that question, which is readily seen on internet search engines. Interestingly, when Martin Luther stood trial in 1520, it was before one Cardinal Cajetanus of Augsburg.
Continuing from page 79:
This disgraceful bargain had been concluded in the summer of 1514, but was not carried into effect till 1517. At the beginning of this year the preaching of indulgences was started, and almost simultaneously the Church was violently convulsed by the appearance on the scene of the Augustinian monk Martin Luther.
Here we will leave off with our presentation from The History of the German People, for the time being.
The pallium is a sort of sash which the pope and bishops wear out of custom. The pallium fee is the money charged to bishops for the privilege of wearing the pallium, and Albrecht, in spite of his family's wealth, went into debt to secure his bishopric. He needed indulgence money to pay for itm which basically means that he was extorting the fees for his office from the German people. But there were probably many other benefits to his office, and there were other monies collected from the people by the churches.
But indulgences were the primary complaint against the church in Luther's 95 theses, and these would ultimately spark the Reformation. When we return to this series on Martin Luther we shall discuss Luther's 95 Theses, the 5th Lateran Council, and the control which the papacy sought to maintain over Christian Germany, while at the same time it scoffed at Christianity. We will also discuss Johann Tetzel, who should be the poster child exemplifying just how a man with a doctorate could be nothing but a whore for the state.
Hopefully, for now, we have adequately explained the pagan humanism which had fully infiltrated the Roman Catholic Church in both Italy and Germany, and hopefully we have adequately described the real devil of Luther's dream.
However, as we said in the past, Luther's success was a two-edged sword, and the humanists who despised Christianity also embraced Luther, as they saw in him an opportunity in their own desire for liberation from the oppressive Roman Church.