73. Literature and General Survey
I. For Northeastern Germany
Literature: H. Hahn: Gesch. d. kathol. Mission, 5 vols., Col., 1857-1865. — G. F. Maclear: Hist. of Christ. Missions during the M. A., London, 1863. — C. A. H. Kalkar: Gesch. d. röm.-kathol. Mission, German trans., Erlang., 1867. — Th. Smith: Med. Missions, Edinburg, 1880. — P. Tschackert: Einführung d. Christenthums in Preussen, in Herzog, IX. 25 sqq. — Lives of Otto of Bamberg by Ebo and Herbord (contemporaries) in Jaffé; Bibl. Rerum Germanic., Berlin, 1869, vol. V. trans. in Geschichtschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit, Leipzig, 1869. — Otto’s Letters in Migne, vol. 173. — Mod. Lives by F. X. Sulzbeck, Regensb., 1865, and J. A. Zimmermann, Freib. im Br., 1875. — For copious Lit. see Potthast: Bibl. Hist., II. 1504 sq. — For Vicelinus, see Chronica Slavorum Helmodi (a friend of Vicelinus), ed. by Pertz, Hann., 1868. Trans. by Wattenbach in Geschichtschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit, Leipzig, 1888. — Winter: Die Prämonstratenser d. 12ten Jahrhunderts und ihre Bedeutung für das nordöstl. Deutschland. Ein Beitrag zur Gesch. der Christianisirung und Germanisirung des Wendenlandes, Leipzig, 1865. Also Die Cisterzienser des nordöstl. Deutschlands, 3 vols., Gotha, 1868. — E. O. Schulze: D. Kolonisierung und Germanisirung der Gebiete zw. Saale und Elbe, Leipzig, 1896. — Edmund Krausch: Kirchengesch. der Wendenlande, Paderb., 1902. — Hauck. III. 69-150, 623-655. — Ranke: Weltgesch., VIII. 455-480. — The arts. Albert of Riga, Otto von Bamberg, Vicelinus, and Wenden in Wetzer-Welte and Herzog. See Lit. under Teutonic Knights, p. 296.
II. For the Mohammedans
Works on Francis d’assisi, see § 69. — For Raymundus Lullus: Beati Raymundi Lulli doctoris illuminati et martyrisopera, ed. by John Salzinger, Mainz, 1721-1742, 10 vols. (VII., X. wanting). His Ars magna (opera quae ad artem universalem pertinent), Strassburg, 1598. Last ed., 1651. Recent ed. of his Poems Obras rimadas, Palma, 1859. For the ed., of Raymund’s works publ. at Palma but not completed see Wetzer-Welte, Raim. Lullus, X. 747-749. — Lives by Perroquet, Vendome, 1667; Löw, Halle, 1830. — *A. Helfferich: R. Lull und die Anfänge der Catalonischen Literatur, Berlin, 1858; W. Brambach, Karlsr., 1893; André, Paris, 1900. — *S. M. Zwemer: Raymund Lull, First Missionary to the Moslems, New York, 1902. — Lea: Hist. of the Inquis., III. 563-590. — Reusch: Der Index, etc., I. 26-33. — Zöckler, in Herzog, XI. 706-716.
III. For the Mongols
D’Ohson: Hist. des Mongols, Paris, 1824. — H. H. Howorth: Hist. of the Mongols, 3 vols., London, 1876-1880. — Abbé Huc: Le Christianisme en Chine, en Tartare et en Thibet, Paris, 1857. — Külb: Gesch. der Missionsreisen nach der Mongolei während des 13ten und 14ten Jahrhunderts, 3 vols., Regensb., 1860. — Col. Henry Yule: Travels and Life of Marco Polo, London, 1871; Rev. ed. by H. Cordier, New York, 1903. — R. K. Douglas (Prof. of Chinese in King’s Col., London): Life of Jenghiz Khan. — Gibbon, chaps. XLVII., LXIV.; Ranke, VIII. 417-455; and arts. Rubruquis, Mongolen, etc., in Herzog, Wetzer-Welte.
The missionary operations of this period display little of the zeal of the great missionary age of Augustine, Columba, and Boniface, and less of achievement. The explanation is to be found in the ambitions which controlled the medieval church and in the dangers by which Europe was threatened from without. In the conquest of sacred localities, the Crusades offered a substitute for the conversion of non-Christian peoples. The effort of the papacy to gain supreme control over all mundane affairs in Western Christendom, also filled the eye of the Church. These two movements almost drained her religious energies to the full. On the other hand the Mongols, or Tartars, breaking forth from Central Asia with the fierceness of evening wolves, filled all Europe with dread, and one of the chief concerns of the thirteenth century was to check their advance into the central part of the continent. The heretical sects in Southern France threatened the unity of the Church and also demanded a share of attention which might otherwise have been given to efforts for the conversion of the heathen.
Two new agencies come into view, the commercial trader and the colonist, corresponding in this century to the ships and trains of modern commerce and the labors of the geographical explorer in Africa and other countries. Along the shores of the Baltic, at times, and in Asia the tradesman and the explorer went in advance of the missionary or along the same routes. And in the effort to subdue the barbarous tribes of Northeastern Germany to the rules of Christendom, the sword and colonization played as large a part as spiritual measures.
The missionary history of the age has three chapters, among the pagan peoples of Northeastern Germany and along the Baltic as far as Riga, among the Mohammedans of Northern Africa, and among the Mongols in Central and Eastern Asia. The chief missionaries whose names have survived are Otto of Bamberg and Vicelinus who labored in Northeastern Europe, Rubruquis, and John of Monte Corvino who travelled through Asia, Francis d’Assisi and Raymundus Lullus who preached in Africa.
The treatment which the Jews received at the hand of the Church also properly belongs here.
74. Missions in Northeastern Germany
At the beginning of this period the Wends, who were of Slavic origin, were the ruling population in the provinces along the Baltic from Lübeck to Riga with elements in the territory now covered by Pommerania, Brandenburg intermingled, and parts of Saxony, which were neither German nor Slavic but Lithuanian. Charlemagne did not attempt conquest beyond the river Elbe. The bishoprics of Würzburg, Mainz, Halberstadt, Verden, and Bremen-Hamburg, bordering on the territories of these tribes, had done little or nothing for, their conversion. Under Otto I. Havelberg, Meissen, Merseburg, and other dioceses were established to prosecute this work. At the synod of Ravenna, 967, Otto made the premature boast that the Wends had been converted.
The only personality that looms out above the monotonous level of Wendish history is Gottschalk, who was converted in England and bound together a number of tribes in an extensive empire. He was interested in the conversion of his people, and churches and convents were built at Mecklenburg, Lübeck, Oldenburg, and other centres. But with Gottschalk’s murder, in 1066, the realm fell to pieces and the Wend tribes from that time on became the object of conquest to the dukes of Poland and Saxony. Attempts to Christianize them were met with violent resistance. Wends and Germans hated one another. These barbarous tribes practised polygamy, infanticide, burned the bodies of their dead, had their sacred springs, graves, and idols.
Two centuries were required to bring the territories occupied by these peoples, and now for the most part inhabited by Germans, under the sway of the Church. The measures employed were the instructions of the missionary, the sword as wielded by the Teutonic Knights, and the colonization of the lands with German colonists. The sacraments and ritual of the Church were put in the forefront as conditions of union with the Church. The abolition of barbarous customs was also insisted upon. The bishopric and the convent were made the spiritual citadels of the newly evangelized districts.
The first to labor among the Wends, who was actuated by true missionary zeal, was the Spanish Cistercian, Bernard. He was without any knowledge of the language and his bare feet and rude monastic garb were little adapted to give him an entrance to the people whose priests were well clad.
Bernard was followed by Otto, bishop of Bamberg, 1102-1139, who made his first tour at Bernard’s instance. He won the title of Apostle of Pommerania. In 1124 he set his face towards the country, furnished with the blessing of Honorius II. and well supplied with clerical helpers. He won the goodwill of the Pommeranian duke, Wratislaw, who, in his youth, as a prisoner of war, had received baptism. The baptism of seven thousand at Pyritz has a special interest from its bearing on the practice of immersion followed at that time. Tanks were sunk into the earth, the rims rising knee high above the ground. Into these, as the chronicler reports, it was easy to descend. Tent-coverings were drawn over each of them. Otto instructed the people in the seven sacraments and insisted upon the abandonment of polygamy and infanticide.
At Stettin he destroyed the temple of the god Triglar, and sent the triple head of the idol to Rome as a sign of the triumph of the cross.
In 1128 Otto made a second tour to Pommerania. He spoke through an interpreter. His instructions were followed by the destruction of temples and the erection of churches. He showed his interest in the material as well as spiritual well-being of the people and introduced the vine into the country. His work was continued by Norbert of Magdeburg and the Premonstrants.
Vicelinus, d. 1154, the next most important name in the history of missions among the Wends, preached in the territory now covered by Holstein and the adjoining districts. He had spent three years in study at Paris and was commissioned to his work by Adalbert, archbishop of Bremen-Hamburg. The fierce wars of Albert the Bear, of North Saxony, 1133-1170, and Henry the Lion, 1142-1163, against the Wagrians and Abotrites, the native tribes, were little adapted to prepare the way for Christianity. Vicelinus founded the important convent of Segeberg which became a centre of training for missionaries. Lübeck accepted Christianity, and in 1148 Vicelinus was ordained bishop of Oldenburg.
The German missionaries went as far as Riga. The sword played a prominent part in the reduction of the local tribes. Under papal sanction, crusade followed crusade. The Livonians received their first knowledge of Christianity through Meinhard, d. 1196, who had been trained at Segeberg. He had been preceded by Bremen merchants and set forth on his mission in a Bremen merchant vessel. He was ordained bishop of the new diocese of Uexkull whose name was changed in 1202 to the diocese of Riga.
Meinhard’s successor, the Cistercian Berthold, sought at first to win his way by instruction and works of charity, but was driven away by violence. He returned in 1198, at the head of a crusade which Coelestin had ordered. After his death on the field of battle his successor, bishop Albert of Apeldern, entered the country in 1199 at the head of another army. The lands were then thrown open to colonists. With the sanction of Innocent III., Albert founded the order of the Brothers of the Sword. Their campaigns opened the way for the church in Esthaonia and Senegallen. In 1224 the see of Dorpat was erected, which has given its name to the university of Dorpat.
Eastern Prussia, lying along the Weichsel, was visited in 1207 by the German abbot, Gottfried. Two of the native princes were converted by Christian, a monk from Pommerania, donated their lands to the Church, and travelled to Rome, where they received baptism. Christian was made bishop of Prussia between 1212 and 1215. An invitation sent to the Teutonic Knights to aid in the conversion of the tribes was accepted by their grand-master, Hermann of Salza, in 1228. In 1217 Honorius III. had ordered a crusade, and in 1230 Gregory IX. renewed the order. The Teutonic Knights were ready enough to further religious encroachment by the sword, promised, as they were, a large share in the conquered lands. From 1230 to 1283 they carried on continual wars. They established themselves securely by building fortified towns such as Kulm and Thorn, 1231, and Königsberg, 1255. A stream of German colonists followed where they conquered. In 1243 Innocent IV. divided Prussia into four sees, Kulm, Pomesania, Sameland, and Ermeland. It was arranged that the bishops were to have one-third of the conquered territory. In 1308 the German Knights seized Danzig at the mouth of the Weichsel and a year later established their headquarters at Marienburg. By the battle of Tannenberg, 1410, and the Peace of Thorn, 1466, they lost Prussia west of the Weichsel, and thereafter their possessions were confined to Eastern Prussia. The history of the order closed when the grand-master, Albrecht of Brandenburg, accepted the Reformation and made the duchy hereditary in his family.
75. Missions among the Mohammedans
Two important names are associated with the missions among the Mohammedans, Francis of Assisi and Raymundus Lullus, and with their labors, which were without any permanent results, the subject is exhausted. The Crusades were adapted to widen the gulf between the Christians and the Mohammedans, and to close more tightly the ear of the followers of the False Prophet to the appeals of the Christian emissary.
Franciscan friars went in 1213 to Morocco and received the martyr’s crown, but left no impression upon the Mohammedans. St. Francis made his tour to Syria and Egypt in 1219, accompanied by eleven companions. The accounts are meagre and uncertain. Francis landed at Acre and proceeded to the crusading camp under the walls of Damietta, where he is represented as preaching before the sultan and to the Mohammedan troops. The story is told that the sultan was so much touched by Francis’ preaching that he gave the Franciscan friars admission to the Holy Sepulchre, without payment of tribute.
Raymundus Lullus, 1235?-1315, devoted his life to the conversion of Mohammedans and attested his zeal by a martyr’s death. He was one of the most noteworthy figures produced during the Middle Ages in Southwestern Europe. He made three missionary tours to Africa and originated the scheme for establishing chairs at the universities to teach the Oriental languages and train missionaries. He also wrote many tracts with the aim of convincing unbelievers of the truth of Christianity.
Lullus was born in Palma on the island of Majorca. His father had gained distinction by helping to wrest the Balearic islands from the Saracens. The son married and had children, but led a gay and licentious life at court and devoted his poetic gifts to erotic sonnets. At the age of thirty-one he was arrested in his wild career by the sight of a cancer on the breast of a woman, one of the objects of his passion, whom he pursued into a church, and who suddenly exposed her disease. He made a pilgrimage to Campostella, and retired to Mt. Randa on his native island. Here he spent five years in seclusion, and in 1272 entered the third order of St. Francis. He became interested in the conversion of Mohammedans and other infidels and studied Arabic under a Moor whom he had redeemed from slavery. A system of knowledge was revealed to him which he called “the Universal Science,” ars magna or ars generalis. With the aid of the king of Aragon he founded, in 1276 on Majorca, a college under the control of the Franciscans for the training of missionaries in the Arabic and Syriac tongues.
Lullus went to Paris to study and to develop his Universal Science. At a later period he returned and delivered lectures there. In 1286 he went to Rome to press his missionary plans, but failed to gain the pope’s favor. In 1292 he set sail on a missionary tour to Africa from Genoa. In Tunis he endeavored in vain to engage the Mohammedan scholars in a public disputation. A tumult arose and Lullus narrowly escaped with his life. Returning to Europe, he again sought to win the favor of the pope, but in vain. In 1309 he sailed the second time for Tunis, and again he sought to engage the Mohammedans in disputation. Offered honors if he would turn Mohammedan, he said, “And I promise you, if you will turn and believe on Jesus Christ, abundant riches and eternal life.”
Again violently forced to leave Africa, Lullus laid his plans before Clement V. and the council of Vienne, 1311. Here he presented a refutation of the philosophy of Averrhoes and pressed the creation of academic chairs for the Oriental languages. Such chairs were ordered erected at Avignon, Paris, Oxford, Salamanca, and Bologna to teach Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic.
Although nearly eighty years old the indefatigable missionary again set out for Tunis. His preaching at Bougia led, as before, to tumults, and Lullus was dragged outside of the city and stoned. Left half dead, he was rescued by Christian seamen, put on board a ship, and died at sea. His bones are preserved at Palma.
For a period of nearly fifty years this remarkable man had advocated measures for carrying the Gospel to the Mohammedans. No impression, so far as we know, was made by his preaching or by his apologetic writings upon unbelievers, Jew or Mohammedan, but with his name will always be associated the new idea of missionary institutes where men, proposing to dedicate themselves to a missionary career, might be trained in foreign languages. But Lullus was more than a glowing advocate of missions. He was a poet and an expert scholastic thinker. Spain has produced no Schoolman so famous. He was a prolific author, and in his application of thought to the physical sciences, he has been compared to his fellow Franciscan, Roger Bacon.
His Universal Science he applied to medicine and law, astrology and geography, grammar and rhetoric, as well as to the solution of theological problems. It was a key to all the departments of thought, celestial and terrestrial. Ideas he represented by letters of the alphabet which were placed in circles and other mathematical diagrams. By the turning of the circles and shifting of lines these ideas fall into relations which display a system of truth. The word “God,” for example, was thus brought into relation with nine letters, B-K, which represented nine qualities: goodness, greatness, eternity, power, wisdom, volition, virtue, truth, and glory. Or the letters B-K represented nine questions, such as, what, quid; from what, de quo; why, quare; how much, quantum. Being applied to God, they afford valid definitions, such as “God’s existence is a necessity.” This kaleidoscopic method, it is not improbable, Lullus drew from Jewish and Arabic, sources, and he himself called it Cabalistic.
The philosophy of Lullus found a number of adherents who were called Lullists. It was taught at the universities of Valencia and Aragon. Giordano Bruno drew from it. Eymericus, the inquisitor, became the bitter foe of the Lullists, arraigned their leader’s teachings before the Roman court, and exhibited a bull of Gregory XI. (1372) condemning them as heretical. Philip II. read some of the Majorcan’s writings and left annotated copies in the Escurial library. Lullus’ works were included in the Index of Paul IV., 1559, but ordered removed from the list by the council of Trent. A papal decision of 1619 forbade Lullus’ doctrine as dangerous. In 1847 Pius IX. approved an office for the “holy Raymundus Lullus” in Majorca, where he is looked upon as a saint. The Franciscans have, since the time of Leo X., commemorated the Spaniard’s memory in their Breviary.
76. Missions among the Mongols
Central Asia and what is now the Chinese Empire were almost as unknown to Western Europe in the twelfth century as the lake region of Central Africa was before the journeys of Speke, Livingstone, and Stanley. To the Nestorians, with their schools at Edessa and Nisibis, naturally belonged the task of spreading the Gospel in Central and Eastern Asia. They went as far as China, but after the ninth century their schools declined and a period of stagnation set in. Individual Nestorians reached positions of influence in Asiatic courts as councillors or physicians and Nestorian women became mothers of Mongol chiefs. But no Asiatic tribe adopted their creed.
In the twelfth century the brilliant delusion gained currency throughout Europe of the existence in Central Asia of a powerful Christian theocracy, ruled over by the Presbyter John, usually called Prester-John. The wildest rumors were spread concerning this mysterious personage who was said to combine the offices of king and priest. According to Otto of Freisingen, a certain bishop of Gabala in 1145 had brought Eugenius III. the information that he was a Nestorian Christian, was descended from one of the three Wise Men, and had defeated the Mohammedans in a great battle. A letter, purporting to come from this ruler and addressed to the Emperor Manuel of Constantinople, related that John received tribute from seventy kings, and had among his subjects the ten tribes of Israel, entertained at his table daily twelve archbishops and twenty bishops, and that his kingdom was overflowing with milk and honey. Gradually his dominions were reported to extend to Abyssinia and India.
To put themselves into communication with this wonderful personage and bring him into subjection to Rome engaged the serious attention of several popes. Alexander III., 1177, sent his physician Philip with commission to inform the king of the faith of Western Christendom. He also addressed him in a letter as his “most dear son in Christ, John, king of the Indies and most holy of priests.” The illusion abated as serious efforts to find the kingdom were made. Rubruquis wrote back to Europe from the region where John was reported to have ruled that few could be found who knew anything about Prester-John and that the stories which had been told were greatly exaggerated. He added that a certain ruler, Coirchan, had been followed by a Nestorian shepherd, called John. It has been conjectured by Oppert that the word “Coirchan,” through the Syrian Juchanan, became known as John in Europe. A prince of that name whom the Chinese call Tuliu Tasha fled from China westwards, and established a kingdom in Central Asia. Nestorians were among his subjects. Chinese tradition has it that the prince was a Buddhist. Thus dwindles away a legend which, to use Gibbon’s language, “long amused the credulity of Europe.”
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Asia witnessed the establishment of the vast Mongol empire. Scarcely ever has military genius among uncivilized peoples had more wonderful display than in its founders, Zenghis Khan and his successors, especially Kublai and Mangu. The empire stretched from the Chinese Sea to the Dnieper, and from Bagdad to the Arctic. Their armies were the terror of Europe. What the Mohammedans had accomplished in Spain it was feared the Mongols would do for the whole continent. They destroyed Moscow and advanced as far as Cracow in Poland, and Buda Pesth in Hungary, 1241. The empire rapidly disintegrated, and was divided into four main sections: the empire of the Great Khan, including China and Thibet; the empire of Central Asia; Persia, extending to the Caucasus, and the loose kingdom of the Golden Horde in Russia and Siberia. The first council of Lyons, in 1245, had as one of its objects to provide a defence against the imminent menace of these Tartars, as they were called, and a delegation of sixteen of them appeared at the second council of Lyons, 1274, in the hope of forming an alliance against the Saracens.
The Church sent forth several deputations of missionaries to these tribes, some of whom were received at the court of the Great Khan. The most fearless and adventuresome of their number was William Rubruquis, or Ruysbroeck, the Livingstone of his age, who committed to writing a vivid account of his experiences. John of Monte Corvino ventured as far as Pekin, then known in Europe as Cambaluc and among the Mongols as Khanbaligh, “the city of the Khan.”
Merciless as they were in battle, the Mongols were tolerant in religion. This was due in part to the absence among them of any well-defined system of worship. Mangu Khan, in answer to the appeals of Rubruquis, said, “We Mongols believe that there is only one God, in whom we live and die. But as God has given to the hand different fingers, so He has given to men different ways to Himself. To you Christians he has given the Holy Scriptures; to us, soothsayers and diviners.”
Kublai showed the same spirit when he said to Marco Polo, “There are four prophets who are worshipped by the four different tribes on the earth. Christians look upon Christ as their God, the Saracens upon Mohammed, the Jews upon Moses, and the heathen upon Sogomombar-Khan (Buddha). I esteem and honor all four and pray that He who is supreme amongst them may lend me His help.” Alexander Severus perhaps did no better when he placed side by side statues of Abraham, Christ, and Orpheus and other pagan gods. It was not till after the contact of the missionaries with the Mongols that the khans of the East adopted Buddhism, while the tribes of Persia and the West chose the rites of Islam.
In 1245 Innocent IV. despatched four Dominicans to the Mongol chief in Persia and three Franciscans to the Great Khan himself. The next effort was due to Louis IX., then engaged in his first Crusade. Ambassadors from the Mongol chief of Tartary visited the French king at Cyprus. Louis returned the compliment by sending back two Dominicans in 1248, and, two years later, two Franciscans, and, in the pious hope of seeing the Tartars converted, he also sent a present of a tent embroidered with representations of Scriptural scenes and so constructed as to have the shape, when put up, of a chapel. It is from one of these two Franciscans, Rubruquis, that our first reliable information of the Mongols is drawn. He found Nestorian priests using the Syriac liturgy, which they did not understand, and joining with the Mohammedans and Buddhists in offering a blessing over the khan’s cups. Rubruquis reached Karkorum and had a hospitable reception at the court of Mangu Khan. One of Mangu’s secretaries was a Christian, another a Mohammedan, the third a Buddhist. A religious disputation was held in the khan’s presence. After Rubruquis had asserted that all God’s commandments are contained in the Scriptures, he was asked whether he thought Mangu kept them. The missionary adroitly replied that “it was his desire to lay before the khan all God’s commandments and then the khan would be able to judge for himself whether he kept them or not.”
The Mongolian chiefs in Persia and the Christians were joint enemies of the Caliph of Egypt, and after the Mongolian conquest of the caliphate of Bagdad, embassies were sent by the pope to Persia, and Dominican and Franciscan convents established in that land; but after their adoption of Islam in the fourteenth century, the Mongols persecuted the Christians and the convents were destroyed.
In Central Asia among the Jagatai Mongols events took the same course. At first, 1340, permission was granted to the missionaries to prosecute their work. John of Marignola preached and baptized converts. These Mongols afterwards also adopted Mohammedanism and persecuted the Christians.
In the Mongol empire of China the efforts gave larger promise of fruitfulness. Nicolo and Maffei Polo carried a request from Kublai Khan to Gregory X. for missionaries to instruct his people in Christianity and European habits. Two Dominicans accompanied the Polos on their return journey, Marco Polo being of the party. The missionaries did not reach their destination. Three years later Franciscans were sent. John of Monte Corvino, a Franciscan sent out by Nicholas IV., reached the court of the Great Khan at Cambaluc, and in 1303 was joined by Arnold, a Franciscan from Cologne. They translated the New Testament and the Psalms into the Tartar language, bought and trained one hundred and fifty boys, built two churches, one of them close to the palace and overtopping it, and baptized six thousand converts. In 1307 John was made archbishop of Pekin, archiepiscopus Cambalensis, and died 1330. The khans passed over to the Buddhist faith and in 1368 the Ming dynasty which raised itself to power abolished Christianity. It remained for the Jesuits three hundred years later to renew missionary operations in China.
77. The Jews
Literature: The Works of Peter the Venerable, and Bernard, in Migne, and the English Chroniclers, William of Newburgh, Walter of Coventry, Matthew Paris, etc., in the Rolls Series. — T. Basnage: Hist. des Juifs depuis Jésus Christ, 5 vols. Rotterdam, 1706. — D. Blossius Tovey: Anglia Judaica or Hist. Antiquities of the Jews in Engl., Oxford, 1738. — Depping: Les Juifs dans le moyen âge, Paris, 1834. — E. H. Lindo: Hist. of the Jews of Spain and Portugal, London, 1848. — Halley: Les Juifs en France, etc., Paris, 1845. — Margoliouth: Hist. of the Jews in Great Britain, 3 vols. London, 1851. — H. H. Milman: Hist. of the Jews, 3 vols. London, 1863. — José Amador de los Rios: Historia social, politica y religiosa de los Judios de Espana y Portugal, 3 vols. Madrid, 1875, 1876. — H. Graetz (Prof. at Breslau, d. 1891): Gesch. der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart, 3d ed., Leipzig, 1888-1894, 11 vols.; Engl. trans. by Bella Löwy, London, 5 vols. 1891-1892. — J. Jacobs: The Jews of Angevin England. Documents and Records from Latin and Hebrew Sources, London, 1893. — I. Abrahams: Jewish Life in the M. A., London, 1896. — E. Rodocanachi: Le Saint Siège et les Juifs, Paris, 1891. — Döllinger: Die Juden in Europa in Akad. Vorträge, I. 208-241. — Lea: Chapters from the Relig. Hist. of Spain, Phil., 1890, pp. 437-469 — Hefele: IV.-VI. — Lecky: Hist. of Europ. Morals. — Janssen: Hist. of the German People, II. 73 sqq. The Lives of St. Bernard. — D. S. Schaff: The Treatment of the Jews in the Middle Ages, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1903, pp. 547-571.
Would that it might be said of the medieval church that it felt in the well-being of the Jews, the children of Abraham according to the flesh, a tithe of the interest it manifested in the recovery of the holy places of their ancient land. But this cannot be said. Though popes, bishops, and princes, here and there, were inclined to treat them in the spirit of humanity, the predominant sentiment of Europe was the sentiment of hatred and disdain. The very nations which were draining their energies to send forth armaments to reconquer the Holy Sepulchre joined in persecuting the Jews.
Some explanation is afforded by the conduct of the Jews themselves. Their successful and often unscrupulous money dealings, the flaunting of their wealth, their exclusive social tendencies, their racial haughtiness, and their secretiveness, strained the forbearance of the Christian public to the utmost. The edicts of councils and civil edicts put it beyond reasonable question that, in an offensive way, they showed contempt for the rites and symbols of the Christian faith. The provocation was great, but it does not justify a treatment of the Jewish people in all parts from Bohemia to the Atlantic which lacked the elements of common humanity. The active efforts that were made for their conversion seem to betray fully as much of the spirit of churchly arrogance as of the spirit of Christian charity. Peter the Venerable, in the prologue to his tract addressed to the Jews, said, “Out of the whole ancient world, you alone were not ignorant of Christ; yea, all peoples have listened, and you alone do not hear. Every language has confessed him, and you alone deny. Others see him, hear him, apprehend him, and you alone remain blind, and deaf, and stony of heart.”
The grounds upon which the Jews were persecuted were three: 1. Their fathers had crucified Christ, and the race, predestined to bear the guilt and the punishment of the deed, was receiving its merited portion; 2. They perpetrated horrible atrocities upon Christian children, and mocked the host and the cross; 3. They imposed upon the Christians by exacting exorbitant rates of interest. In no Christian state were they safe. They were aliens in all, and had the rights of citizenship in none. The “enemies of Christ” and “the perfidious” were common names for them, and canonists and theologians use the latter expression. The ritual of Good Friday contained the words, “Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews.” The Decretals of Gratian, the Third and Fourth Lateran and other councils class together under one and the same canon the Jews and the Saracens. Such eminent men as Peter the Venerable have more good to say of the Saracen than of the Jew.
Three classes are to be taken into account in following the treatment of the Jews, — the popes, including the prelates, the princes, and the mass of the people with their priests.
Taking the popes one by one, their utterances were, upon the whole, opposed to inhumane measures and uniformly against the forced baptism of the Jews. Gregory the Great protected them against frenzied persecution in Southern Italy. Innocent IV., 1247, denied the charge of child murder brought against them, and threatened with excommunication Christians oppressing them. Martin IV., in 1419, issued a bull in which he declared that he was following his predecessors in commanding that they be not interrupted in their synagogal worship, or compelled to accept baptism, or persecuted for commercial transactions with Christians. On the other hand, the example of Innocent III. gave countenance to the severest measures, and Eugenius IV. quickly annulled the injunctions of his predecessor, Martin IV.
As for the princes, the Jews were regarded as being under their peculiar jurisdiction. At will, they levied taxes upon them, confiscated their goods, and expelled them from their realms. It was to the interest of princes to retain them as sources of revenue, and for this reason they were inclined to protect them against the violence of blind popular prejudice and rage. Frederick II. imposed upon them perpetual slavery as a vengeance upon them for the crucifixion.
The inception of the Crusades was accompanied by violent outbursts against the Jews. Innocent III., in 1216, established the permanent legal basis of their persecution. Their expulsion from Spain, in 1492, represents the culminating act in the medieval drama of their sufferings. England, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, and Hungary joined in their persecution. In Italy they suffered least. Tens of thousands were burned or otherwise put to death. They were driven, at one time or another, from almost every country. The alternative of baptism or death was often presented to them. The number of those who submitted to death was probably larger than the number who accepted baptism. Most of those, however, who accepted baptism afterwards openly returned to the faith of their fathers or practised its rites in secret.
It is an interesting fact that, during these centuries of persecution, the Jews, especially in Spain and France, developed an energetic literary activity. Gerschom, Raschi, and the Kimchis belong to France. The names of Maimonides and Benjamin of Tudela head a long list of scholarly Spanish Jews. The pages of Graetz are filled with the names and achievements of distinguished students in medicine and other departments of study.
The path of anti-Semitism was early struck by Church and Christian state. The medieval legislation followed closely the precedent of earlier enactments. The synod of Elvira, 306, forbade Christians to eat with Jews and intermarry with them. Theodosius II., 439, excluded them from holding public office. The civil edicts, offering the alternative of baptism or death, were inaugurated by King Sisibut of Spain. When princes, as in Lyons, protected Jewish merchants, prelates violently protested, as did Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, apostle as he was in some particulars of modern enlightenment. Among the enactments of this period are the following: The Jews were forbidden to employ Christian nurses, servants, or laborers, to publicly sell meat, to work on Sundays or feast days, to employ Christian physicians, or to practise usury, and were commanded to make a money payment to the priest at Easter, and to wear a distinguishing patch or other object on their garments. On the other hand, Christians were forbidden to attend Jewish funerals and marriages, and were punished for borrowing from Jews.
None of the regulations was so humiliating as the one requiring the Jew to wear a distinguishing costume or a distinguishing patch upon his garments. This patch was ordered placed on the chest, or on both chest and back, so that the wearer might be distinguished from afar, as of old the leper was known by his cry “unclean,” and that Christians might be prevented from ignorantly having carnal connection with the despised people. At the instance of Stephen Langton the synod of Oxford, 1222, prescribed a woollen patch, and Edward I., 1275, ordered the yellow patch worn by all over seven. Louis IX. ordered that the color of the patch should be red or saffron, the king of England that it should be yellow. Its size and shape were matters of minute enactment. The Fourth Lateran gave the weight of its great authority to this regulation about dress, and decreed that it should be enforced everywhere. Dr. Graetz pronounces this law the culminating blow in the humiliation of his kinsmen. He declares that Innocent III. brought more misery upon the Jews than all their enemies had done before, and charges him with being the first pope who turned the inhuman severity of the Church against them.
The position Innocent took was that God intended the Jews to be kept, like Cain, the murderer, to wander about on the earth designed by their guilt for slavery till the time should come in the last days for their conversion.
With this view, the theologians coincided. Peter the Venerable, a half-century before Innocent, presented the case in the same aspect as did the great pope, and launched a fearful denunciation against the Jews. In a letter to Louis VII. of France, he exclaimed, “What would it profit to fight against enemies of the cross in remote lands, while the wicked Jews, who blaspheme Christ, and who are much worse than the Saracens, go free and unpunished. Much more are the Jews to be execrated and hated than the Saracens; for the latter accept the birth from the Virgin, but the Jews deny it, and blaspheme that doctrine and all Christian mysteries. God does not want them to be wholly exterminated, but to be kept, like the fratricide Cain, for still more severe torment and disgrace. In this way God’s most just severity has dealt with the Jews from the time of Christ’s passion, and will continue to deal with them to the end of the world, for they are accursed, and deserve to be.” He counselled that they be spoiled of their ill-gotten gains and the money derived from their spoliation be applied to wrest the holy places from the Saracens.
Of a different mind was Bernard. When the preparations were being made for the Second Crusade, and the monk Radulf went up and down the Rhine, inflaming the people against the Jews, the abbot of Clairvaux set himself against the “demagogue,” as Neander called Radulf. He wrote a burning epistle to the archbishop of Mainz, reminding him that the Lord is gracious towards him who returns good for evil. “Does not the Church,” he exclaimed, “triumph more fully over the Jews by convincing and converting them from day to day than if she once and for all should slay them by the edge of the sword!” How bitter the prejudice was is seen in the fact that when Bernard met Radulf face to face, it required all his reputation for sanctity to allay the turbulence at Mainz.
Turning to England we find William of Newburgh, Roger de Hoveden, and other chroniclers approving the Jewish persecutions. Richard of Devizes speaks of “sacrificing the Jews to their father, the devil,” and of sending “the bloodsuckers with blood to hell.” Matthew Paris, in some of his references, seems not to have been in full sympathy with the popular animosity.
Among great English ecclesiastics the Jews had at least two friendly advocates in Hugh of Lincoln and Robert Grosseteste. Grosseteste laid down the principle that the Jews were not to be exterminated, on the grounds that the law had been given through them, and that, after passing through their second captivity, they would ultimately, in accordance with the eleventh chapter of Romans, embrace Christianity. He, however, declared that Cain was the type of the Jews, as Abel was the type of Christ. For the sake of God’s mercy, they should be preserved, that Christ might be glorified; but for the sake of God’s justice, they were to be held in captivity by the princes, that they might fulfil the prediction concerning Cain, and be vagabonds and wanderers on the earth. They should be forcibly prevented from pursuing the occupation of usurers. The bishop was writing to the dowager countess of Winchester, who had offered a refuge on her lands to the Jews expelled by Simon de Montfort from Leicester. That he was not altogether above the prejudices of his age is vouched for by a letter, also written in 1244, in which he calls upon his archdeacons to prevent Jews and Christians living side by side. Grosseteste’s predecessor, Hugh of Lincoln, protected the Jews when they were being plundered and massacred in 1190, and Jews showed their respect by attending his funeral.
No charge was too serious to be laid at the door of the Jews. When the Black Death swept through Europe in 1348, it did not occur to any one to think of the Saracens as the authors of that pestilence. The Jew was guilty. In Southern France and Spain, so the wild rumor ran, he had concocted poisons which were sent out wholesale and used for contaminating fountains. From Barcelona and Seville to the cities in Switzerland and Germany the unfortunate people had to suffer persecution for the alleged crime. In Strassburg, 1349, the entire Hebrew population of two thousand was seized, and as many as did not consent to baptism, were burnt in their own graveyard and their goods confiscated. In Erfurt and other places the entire Jewish population was removed by fire or expulsion.
The canonical regulations against usury gave easy excuse for declaring debts to the Jews not binding. Condemned by Tertullian and Cyprian, usury was at first forbidden to laymen as well as clerics, as by the synod of Elvira; but at the council of Nice, 325, the prohibition was restricted to the clergy. Later Jerome, Augustine, and Leo I. again applied the prohibition to all Christians. Gratian received it into the canon law. Few subjects claimed so generally the attention of the medieval synods as usury. Alexander III., at the Third Lateran, 1179, went so far as to declare usury forbidden by the Old Testament as well as by the New Testament. Clement V. put the capstone on this sort of legislation by declaring, at the council of Vienne, 1311, null and void all state and municipal laws allowing usury and pronouncing it heresy to deny that usury is sin. No distinction was made between rates of interest. All interest was usurious. The wonder is that, with such legislation on the Church’s statute-books, any borrower should have felt bound by a debt to a Jew.
Eugenius III. offered all enlisting in the Second Crusade exemption from interest due Jewish creditors. Gregory IX. made the same offer to later Crusaders.
The charge was frequently repeated against the Jews that they were guilty of the murder of Christian children for ritualistic purposes, especially at the time of the Passover. This almost incredible crime again and again stirred the Christian population into a frenzy of excitement which issued in some of the direst miseries the Jewish people were called upon to endure.
In France, Philip Augustus, using as a pretext the alleged crucifixion of a Christian child, in 1182, expelled the Jews from his realm and confiscated their goods. The decree of expulsion was repeated by Louis IX. in the year before he set out on his last crusade, by Philip the Fair in 1306 and 1311, and by other French monarchs, but it was never so strictly enforced as in Spain. Louis IX. also ordered all copies of the Targum destroyed. In 1239 Gregory IX. issued a letter to the archbishops of France, Castile, Aragon, Portugal, and England, commanding the same thing.
In Germany, from the First Crusade on, the Jews were subjected to constant outbreaks, but usually enjoyed the protection of the emperors against popular fury. In the fifteenth century, they were expelled from Saxony 1432, Spires and Zürich 1435, Mainz 1438, and other localities.
In England the so-called Jewries of London, Lincoln, Oxford, and three or four other cities represented special tribunals and modes of organization, with which the usual courts of the land had nothing to do. From the reign of Henry II., 1133-1189, when the detailed statements of Jewish life in England begin, bishops, priests, and convents were ready to borrow from the Jews. Nine Cistercian convents were mortgaged to the famous Aaron of Lincoln, who died 1187. He boasted that his money had built St. Albans, a boast which Freeman uses to prove the intolerable arrogance of the Jews. The arm of St. Oswald of Peterboro was held by a Jew in pawn. The usual interest charged was two pence a week on the pound, or forty-three per cent a year. And it went as high as eighty per cent. The promissory note is preserved which Herbert, pastor of Wissenden, gave to Aaron of Lincoln for 120 marks at two pence a week. The Jews were tallaged by the king at pleasure. They belonged to him, as did the forests. The frequency and exorbitance of the exactions under John and Henry III. are notorious. At the time of the levy of 1210 many left the kingdom. It was at that time that the famous case occurred of the Jew of Bristol, already referred to, whose teeth John ordered pulled out, one each day, till he should make over to the royal treasury ten thousand marks. The description that Matthew Paris gives is highly interesting, but it was not till four centuries had elapsed, that another historian, Thomas Fuller, commenting upon this piece of medieval dentistry, had the hardihood to say, this Jew, “yielding sooner, had saved his teeth, or, stubborn longer, had spared his money; now having both his purse and his jaw empty by the bargain. Condemn we here man’s cruelty, and admire Heaven’s justice; for all these sums extorted from the Jews by temporal kings are but paying their arrearages to God for a debt they can never satisfy; namely, the crucifying of Christ.” Old prejudices die hard.
Henry III.’s exactions became so intolerable that in 1255 the Jews begged to be allowed to leave the realm. This request, to rely again upon Matthew Paris, the king refused, and then, like “another Titus or Vespasian,” farmed them out to his rich brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall, that, “as he himself had excoriated them, so Richard might eviscerate them.”
The English Crusaders, starting on the Third Crusade, freely pillaged the Jews, indignant, as the chroniclers relate, that they should have abundance and to spare while they, who were hurrying on the long journey to Jerusalem, had not enough for their barest wants. It was at this time, on the evening of the coronation of Richard I., that the horrible massacre occurred in which neither sex nor age was spared. At York, five hundred were shut up in the castle, and the men, in despair, after putting to death their own wives and daughters, were many of them burned to death.
English communities were roused to a lamentable pitch of excitement by the alleged crucifixion of Christian boys. Among the more notorious cases were William of Norwich 1144, Harold of Gloucester 1168, Robert of Edmonsbury 1181, and Hugh of Lincoln 1255. Although these children were popularly known as saints, none of them have been canonized by the Church. The alleged enormities perpetrated upon Hugh of Lincoln, as given by Matthew Paris, are too shocking to be enumerated at length. The same chronicler interjects the statement that the deed was “said often to have occurred.” In the excitement over little Hugh, eighteen Jews were gibbeted. The marvel is that the atrocious charge was believed, and that no protest against the belief has come down to us from those days.
Some English Jews, under pressure of fear, submitted to baptism, and some also of their free will. The first case of the latter kind, so far as I know, is given by Anselm. The convert became a monk. An isolated case occurred here and there of a Christian turning Jew. A deacon was hanged for this offence.
The last act in the history of the Jews in medieval England was their banishment by Edward I. in 1290. From that time until the Caroline age, England was free from Jewish inhabitants. Cromwell added to his fame by giving them protection in London.
The treatment the Jews received in Spain is justly regarded as the most merciless the race received in the Middle Ages. Edward I. protected against plunder the sixteen thousand Jews whom he banished from England. But Ferdinand of Spain, when he issued the fell decree for his Jewish subjects to leave Spain, apparently looked on without a sign of pity. Spain, through its Church councils, had been the leader in restrictive legislation. The introduction of the Inquisition made the life of this people more and more severe, although primarily its pitiless regulations had no application to them. Persecutions filled the land with ungenuine proselytes, the conversos, and these became subject to the inquisitorial court.
The final blow given by Ferdinand and Isabella fell in 1492, the year of the discovery of the New World, in a part of which was to be put into practice religious toleration as it was never before practised on the earth. The edict expelled all unbaptized Jews from Spain. Religious motives were behind it, and religious agents executed it. The immediate occasion was the panic aroused by the alleged crucifixion of the child of La Guardia — el santo niño de la Guardia — one of the most notorious cases of alleged child murder by the Jews. Lope de Vega and other Spanish writers have made the case famous in Spanish literature. Ferdinand, according to Llorente, moved by the appeals of a Jewish embassy and Spanish grandees, was about to modify his sentence, when Torquemada, hastening into the presence of the king and his consort, presented the crucifix, exclaiming, “Judas Iscariot sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Your majesties are about to sell him for three thousand ducats. Here he is, take him and sell him.”
The number of Jews who emigrated from Spain, in the summer of 1492, is estimated at 170,000 to 400,000. They went to Italy, Morocco, and the East, and, invited by king Manuel, 100,000 passed into Portugal. But here their tarrying was destined to be short. In 1495 an edict offered them the old alternative of baptism or death, and children under fourteen were taken forcibly from their parents, and the sacred Christian rite was administered to them. Ten years later two thousand of the alleged ungenuine converts were massacred in cold blood.
Such was the drama of sufferings through which the Jews were made to pass during the medieval period in Western Europe. As against this treatment, what efforts were made to win the Jews by appeals to the gospel? But the question might well be asked whether any appeals could be expected to win them when such a spirit of persecution prevailed. How could love and such hostility go together? The attempts to convince them were made chiefly through tracts and disputations. Anselm, while he did not direct his treatise on the atonement, cur deus homo, to the Jews, says, that his argument was sufficient to persuade both Jew and pagan. Grosseteste sought to show the fulfilment of the old law and to prove the divinity of Christ in his de cessatione legalium, written in 1231. The most famous of these tracts was written by Peter the Venerable. In Migne’s edition it fills more than one hundred and forty columns, and would make a modern book of more than three hundred pages of the ordinary size. Its heading, little adapted to win the favor of the people to whom it was addressed, ran “A Tract against the Inveterate Hardness of the Jews” (inveteratam duritiem). The author proceeded to show from the Hebrew Scriptures the divinity of Christ, at the same time declaring that “to the blind even the light is as night and the sun as the shades of darkness.”
Some idea can be gotten of the nature of some of Peter’s arguments from one of the many Scripture texts adduced to prove that Christ is the Son of God, Isa_66:9: “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith Jehovah. Shall I that caused to bring forth shut the womb? saith thy God.” “What could be more clear, O Jews,” adds the author, “in proving the generation of the Son of God? For if God begat, so far as He begat, He is necessarily Father, and the Son of God, so far as He is begotten, is necessarily Son.” In taking up the proof that the Messiah has already come, Peter naïvely says that “if the Jew shall presume to think when the argument is finished that he lives, Peter holds the sword of Goliath, and, standing over the Jew’s prostrate form, will use the weapon for his destruction, and ‘with its edge’ cleave his blasphemous head in twain.”
If the mild abbot of Cluny, Peter the Venerable, approached the Jews in such an arrogant tone, what was to be expected from other writers, like Peter of Blois who wrote upon the Perfidy of the Jews?
Public disputations were resorted to in Southwestern Europe. Not a few Jews, “learned men, physicians, authors, and poets,” to use the language of Graetz, adopted the Christian faith from conviction, and “became as eager in proselyting as though they had been born Dominicans.” At the public disputations, representative rabbis and chosen Christian controversialists disputed. Jewish proselytes often represented the Christian side. The most famous of these disputations, the disputation of Tortosa, extended through a year and nine months, 1413-1414, and held sixty-eight sittings. Many baptisms are reported to have followed this trial of argumentative strength, and Benedict XIII. announced his conclusions in a bull forbidding forced baptism, as opposed to the canons of the church, but insisting on the Jews wearing the distinctive patch, and enacting that they should listen to three Christian sermons every year, — on Easter, in Advent, and in midsummer. Raymundus Lullus appealed for the establishment of chairs in Hebrew with an eye to the conversion of the Jews, as did also the Dominican Raymundus of Peñaforte. At the beginning of the fifteenth century the propaganda of the eloquent preacher Vincent Ferrer was crowned with success, and the lowest estimates place the number who received baptism under his influence at twenty thousand. The most distinguished of the Spanish converts was Rabbi Solomon Helevi, 1353-1435, who occupied the archiepiscopal chair of Burgos. The Christian scholar Nicolas of Cusa, if not born a Jew, was of Jewish descent.
In London there was an attempt to reach the Jews by a sort of university settlement, the domus conversorum, intended for the protection of Jewish proselytes. It was established in 1233, and an annual grant of seven hundred marks from the royal exchequer promised for its maintenance; but no reports have come down to us of its usefulness.
These efforts relieve, it is true, the dark picture, but relieve it only a little. The racial exclusiveness of the Jew, and the defiant pride which Christendom associates with him when he attains to prosperity, still render it difficult to make any impression upon him by the presentation of the arguments for Christianity. There have been converts. Neander was a Jew born. So were Paulus Cassel and Adolf Saphir. Delitzsch had a Jew for one of his parents. Döllinger is authority for the statement that thirty years ago there were two thousand Christians in Berlin of Jewish descent. There is fortunately no feeling to-day, at least in the church of the West, that it should come to the aid of Providence in executing vengeance for the crucifixion of Christ, a thought which ruled the Christian mind in the Middle Ages. In view of the experience of the medieval church, if for no other reason, the mode of treatment suggested to the modern church is by the spirit of brotherly confidence and Christian love.