Vol. 5, Chapter XV (Cont’d) – Bishops


Although the episcopate lost some of its ancient prestige through the centralization of power in the papacy, the incumbents of the great sees were fully as powerful as the greater secular princes. The old theory, that all bishops are the successors of Peter, had a waning number of open advocates. Bernard said that, like the pope, they were pastors and porters of the kingdom of heaven and fountains of authority, but, in power and rank, they were inferior to the pope who is the immediate successor of the prince of the Apostles. A hundred years later Grosseteste still held to the equal dignity of all bishops as being successors of Peter.

By the law of Gregory IX., archbishops took an oath of allegiance to the pope, and Martin V. (1417-1431) extended it so as to include all bishops. Gregory IX. and other popes made this oath the ground of demands for military service. Long before this, in 1139, Innocent II. had addressed the bishops as occupying a relation to the papal see such as vassals occupy to their prince. They were to be known as “bishops by the grace of God and the Apostolic see.” Innocent III. distinctly stated that bishops receive their authority by the grace of the pope in whom resides the fulness of authority. The confirmation of bishops by the pope was made a fixed rule by Nicolas III. (1277-1280). And the ancient right which bishops had exercised of resigning their sees was now denied and the privilege made dependent upon the pope’s dispensation.

After the Concordat of Worms, 1122, the appointment of bishops by princes and other lay patrons, in theory, ceased. Pope after pope declared the right of election belonged to the cathedral chapters. But, in fact, the elections were not free. Princes ignored the rights of the chapters and dictated the nominees, or had unsatisfactory elections set aside by appealing to Rome. In France and Spain, a royal writ was required before an election could be had and the royal acceptance of the candidate was interposed as a condition of consecration. In England, in spite of the settlement between Anselm and Henry I., the rights of the chapters were constantly set aside, and disputed elections were a constant recurrence. By John’s charter, the election took place in the chapter house of the cathedral, and the king might exercise the right of nomination and confirmation. In the case of disputed elections, the pope acted as umpire and might set aside all candidates and order a new election, as did Innocent III., in the case of Stephen Langton. The Fourth Lateran established the rule that a chapter, failing to reach a conclusion in three months, forfeited the right of election.

The law requiring a bishop to be at least thirty years old and of legitimate birth was often set aside. Geoffrey, natural son of Henry II., was appointed bishop of Lincoln before he was twenty and for six years he enjoyed the revenues of the see without being ordained priest. He was afterwards made archbishop of York. Gerlach of Nassau was made archbishop at twenty. We have in this period no case quite so flagrant as that of Hugh of Vermandois, about 930, who, after poisoning the archbishop of Rheims, put his own son, a child of five, into the office. Disregard of the age-limit reached its height in the latter half of the fifteenth century. The larger sees were a tempting prize to noblemen, and Innocent III. felt it necessary to emphasize merit as a qualification for the episcopal office as against noble birth.

The important right of canonization was withdrawn from the bishops by Alexander III., 1181, and its exercise thenceforth restricted to the pope. Bishops were not popular material for sainthood. Otto of Bamberg is a shining exception.

From the time of Otto the Great, German bishops had the rank of princes. In France, England, and other countries, they were raised to the dignity of the peerage. The three German sees of Treves, Mainz, and Cologne probably enjoyed larger revenues and authority than any other sees in Western Christendom. They gave to the territory along the Rhine the name of the “priests’ alley.” Their three prelates were among the seven electors of the empire. In Northern Germany, the see of Bremen retained its relative importance. Lund was the metropolitan see of Denmark and Scandinavia. In France, the ancient archbishoprics of Lyons and Rheims perpetuated the rank and influence of an earlier period. In England, after the see of Canterbury, Lincoln was the most influential diocese.

The cathedral and collegiate chapters grew in importance. In the earlier part of this period, it was still the custom for the canons belonging to a chapter to live under the same roof and eat at the same table. In the thirteenth century a great change took place. With the increasing wealth of the churches, the chapters threatened to assert the rights of distinct corporations, and to become virtually independent of the bishops. Prebends or stalls — stallum in choro — were furnished with endowments of their own. The sons of nobles coveted and secured these places which brought emolument and influence without work. The canons lived apart by themselves, supported by the revenues of their stalls and their portion of the cathedral income. No places were more often filled by papal appointment in the way of reservation and expectance.

The archdeacon, still called as of old, “the bishop’s eye,” assisted the bishop in matters of diocesan administration, visited churches, made investigation of the sacred robes and vessels, adjudicated disputes, presided over synods, and, as provided for by the English Constitutions of Otho, instructed the clergy on the sacraments and other subjects. This official threatened to assume the rank of bishop-coadjutor, or even to become independent of the bishop. His duties are frequently dwelt upon by English, German, and French synods. The large dioceses employed a plurality of them. As early as the eleventh century, the see of Treves had five, Cologne six, and Halberstadt thirty. After the Norman Conquest, the English dioceses adopted the system. Lincoln included the archdeaconries of Lincoln, Leicester, Stow, Buckingham, Huntingdon, Northampton, Oxford, and Bedford. Archdeacons were often appointed at an early age, and it became the custom for them to go abroad to pursue the study of canon law before entering upon the duties of their office. They were inclined to allow themselves more liberties than other ecclesiastics, and John of Salisbury propounded the question whether an archdeacon could be saved. Among the better known of the English archdeacons were Thomas à Becket, Walter Map, archdeacon of Oxford, and Peter of Blois, archdeacon of London. Peter complained to Innocent III. that he received no financial support from the 120 churches of London.

A hard struggle was carried on to remove the hand of the secular power from church funds. Synods, local and ecumenical, threatened severest penalties upon any interference of this kind. In 1209, Otto IV. renounced the old right of spoliation — jus spolii or jus exuviarum, — whereby the secular prince might seize the revenues of vacant sees and livings, and appropriate them to himself. The Church was exempted by Innocent III. from all civil taxation at the hands of laymen, except as it was sanctioned by pope or bishop, and lay patrons were enjoined against withholding or seizing for their own use church livings to which they had the right of appointment. The goods, laid aside by clerics from their livings, were the property of the Church, and in case a priest died intestate, it was, in some parts, the privilege of the bishop to administer his estate. Priests were exempt from personal taxation. For prescribed taxes, free gifts so called, were substituted. Peter of Blois commended the piety of certain princes who declined to levy taxes upon churches and other ecclesiastical institutions, even for necessary expenditures, such as the repair of city walls; but met them, if not from their own resources, from booty taken from enemies.

Besides the usual income accruing from landed endowments and tithes, the bishop had other sources of revenue. He might at pleasure levy taxes for the spiritual needs of his see, and appropriate the first year’s income of newly appointed priests. Other additions, from the eleventh century on, came in the way of fees and collections for indulgences and gifts at the dedication of churches and altars, and the benediction of cemeteries. Abaelard speaks of the throngs which assembled on such festal occasions, and the large offerings which were, in part, payments for the relaxation of penances.

As for the pastoral fidelity and morals of the bishops, there was much ground for complaint, and there are also records of exemplary prelates. As a whole, the prelates were a militant class. No pope of this age wore armor as did John XII., and, at a later time, Julius II., though there were few if any pontiffs, who did not encourage war under the name of religion. Bishops and abbots were often among the bravest warriors and led their troops into the thickest of the fight both on European soil and under Syrian suns. Monks and priests wore armor and went into battle. When the pope asked for the release of the fighting bishop of Beauvais, whom Richard Coeur de Lion had seized, Richard sent him the bishop’s coat of mail clotted with blood and the words taken from the story of Joseph, “We found this. Is it not thy son’s coat?” Archbishop Christian of Mainz (d. 1183) is said to have felled, with his own hand, nine antagonists in the Lombard war, and to have struck out the teeth of thirty others. Absalom and Andrew of Lund were famous warriors. So were Odo of Bayeux, Roger of York, and Geoffrey, his successor, and many other English prelates. The abbot Henry, afterwards archbishop of Narbonne, went at the head of the armies sent against the Albigenses, and did more, wearing the monk’s garb, to encourage bloodshed than he could have done in military dress.

The chastity of the bishops was often open to just suspicion. The Christian, already referred to, a loyal supporter of Barbarossa, kept a harem. When the confirmation of Geoffrey Riddel to the see of Ely was being prosecuted at the papal court, and Geoffrey was absent, the bishop of Orleans facetiously explained his absence by saying, “He hath married a wife, and therefore he cannot come.” The case of Henry of Liége, prince-bishop of Liége, is perhaps the most notorious case. He was cited before Gregory X. at the second council of Lyons, and forced to resign. He was an illiterate, and could not read the book presented to him. For thirty years he had led a shameless life. Two abbesses and a nun were among his concubines and he boasted of having had fourteen children in twenty-two months. The worst seems to have occurred before he was made priest. Innocent IV. had been his strong friend. Salimbene tells the popular tale of his day that the saintly Cistercian, Geoffroi de Péronne, came back from the other world and announced that if he had accepted the bishopric of Tournai, as the pope urged him to do, he would have been burning in hell. From the pages of this chronicler we have the pictures of many unworthy prelates given to wine and pleasure, but also of some who were model pastors.

The prelates of Germany had no better reputation than those of Italy, and Caesar of Heisterbach reports the conversation of a Paris clerk, who declared that he “could believe all things, but it was not possible for him to believe that any German bishop could be saved.” When asked the reason for such a judgment, he replied, that the German prelates carried both swords, waged wars, and were more concerned about the pay of soldiers than the salvation of the souls committed to them.

The other side to this picture is not so apt to be presented. Chroniclers are more addicted to point out the scandalous lives of priests than to dwell upon clerical fidelity. There were faithful and good bishops and abbots. The names of Anselm of Canterbury and Hugh of Lincoln, Bernard and Peter the Venerable only need to be mentioned to put us on our guard against accepting the cases of unworthy and profligate prelates which have been handed down as indicating a universal rule.


126. The Lower Clergy

The cure of souls — regimen animarum — was pronounced by the Fourth Lateran, following Gregory the Great, to be the art of arts, and bishops were admonished to see to it that men capable in knowledge and of fit morals be appointed to benefices. The people were taught to respect the priest for the sake of his holy office and the fifth commandment was adduced as divine authority for submission to him.

The old rule was repeated, making the canonical age for consecration to the priesthood twenty-five. Councils and popes laid constant stress upon the priest’s moral obligations, such as integrity, temperance in the use of strong drink, simplicity in diet and dress, abstinence from the practice of usury. He was forbidden to frequent taverns, to play at dice, to attend theatrical and mimic performances, and to allow dances in church buildings and church yards.

The old rules were renewed, debarring from the sacerdotal office persons afflicted with bodily defects, and Innocent III. complained of the bishop of Angoulême for ordaining a priest who had lost a thumb.

Beginning with the twelfth century, the number of parishes increased with great rapidity both in the rural districts and in the towns. In German cities the division of the old parishes was encouraged by the citizens, as in Freiburg, Mainz, Worms, and Lübeck, and they insisted upon the right of choosing their pastor. On the other hand, the convents were busy establishing churches and, in Germany, there were thousands under their control. The eleventh and twelfth centuries were a busy time of church building.

What occurred in Germany occurred also in England. But here the endowment of churches and chapels by devout and wealthy laymen was more frequent. Such parishes, it is true, often fell to the charge of the orders, but also a large share of them to the charge of the cathedral chapters and bishops.

Clerical incomes varied fully as much in those days as they do now, if not more. The poorer German priests received from one-tenth to one-twentieth of the incomes of more fortunate rectors and canons. The Fourth Lateran made small salaries responsible for a poorly trained ministry.

The clergy depended for their maintenance chiefly upon the income from lands and the tithe. The theory was that the tenth belonged to the Church, “for the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” The principle was extended to include the tithe of the fish-catch, the product of the chase, and the product of commerce. The clergy also received fees for special Sacerdotal services from baptism to burial and rites pertaining to the soul after death. Such fees became general after the twelfth century, but not without vigorous protests against them. The Second Lateran and other synods forbade priests making charges for the administration of baptism, marriage, extreme unction, and other rites, and for sepulture. The ground was taken by Innocent III. that, while gifts for such services were proper, they should be spontaneous and not forced. The Fourth Lateran bade laymen see they were not overlooked.

Priests receiving their benefices from laymen were likened to thieves who came not in by the door but climbed in some other way. The lay patron had the right of nomination — presentatio. To the bishop belonged the right of confirmation — concessio. Laymen venturing to confer a living without the consent of the ecclesiastical authority exposed themselves to the sentence of excommunication. Stories were current of clerics who had bought their way to ordination and to benefices, who afterwards gnawed through their tongues in remorse. The system of pluralities was practised in spite of the decrees of ecumenical and local synods.

The ideal of a faithful priest was not a preacher but one who administered the sacraments and other solemn rites upon the living and the dead. Restricted as the education of the priest was, it greatly surpassed that of his lay brother, and it was not so meagre as it has often been represented. There were writers who held up the ignorance of the clergy to scorn, but it is dangerous to base wide generalizations on such statements. Statements of another kind can be adduced to show that a class of priests had literary interests as wide as the age was familiar with. The schools that existed were for the training of the clergy. Synods assumed that clerics could read and prescribed that they should read their breviaries even while travelling on journeys. Peter of Blois urged them to read the Scriptures, which he called David’s harp, a plough working up the fallow field of the heart, and which he compared to drink, medicine, balsam, and a weapon. He also warned priests against allowing themselves “to be enticed away by the puerilities of heathen literature and the inventions of philosophers.” When the universities arose, a large opportunity was offered for culture and the students who attended them were clerics or men who were looking forward to holy orders. The synod of Cologne, 1260, probably struck the medium in regard to the culture of the clergy, when it declared that it did not demand eminent learning of clerics but that they know how to read and properly sing the church service.

The function of parish-preaching was not altogether neglected. Bishops were enjoined by the Fourth Lateran to appoint men capable of preaching in all cathedral and conventual churches. In the eleventh century there was scarcely a German parish in which there was not some preaching during the year, and subsequent to that time, sermons were delivered regularly. The sermons were sometimes in Latin and sometimes in German. Those which are preserved abound in stories and practical lessons and show more dependence upon the Fathers than upon the Scriptures. In England and other parts of Europe sermonizing was a less common practice. English priests were required to give expositions of the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the evangelical precepts, the seven works of mercy, the seven cardinal virtues, and the seven sacraments, and to cover these subjects once a quarter. Grosseteste called upon them to be diligent in visiting the sick night and day, to preach, and to carefully read the Scriptures that they might be able to give a reason for the hope that was in them. In the regions infected with the Albigensian heresy, instruction was ordered given to children in the articles of the Catholic faith. The mendicant monks started out as preachers and supplied a popular demand. The ignorance of the priesthood at times called for inhibitions of preaching, as by the synod of Oxford, 1281.

Not the least important among the priest’s functions was the supervision of wills that the Church might come in for seemly remembrance. State laws in conflict with this custom were set aside. Abuses were recognized by synods, and the synod of Paris, 1212, ordered that laymen should not be compelled to make provision in their wills for the payment of thirty mortuary masses. The priest’s signature insured the validity of a will, and some synods made the failure to call in a priest to attest the last testament a ground of excommunication.

Turning to the priest as a member of society, the Church, with unwavering emphasis, insisted upon his independence of the secular tribunal. In the seventh century, Heraclius had granted to the clergy, even in the case of criminal offences, the right of trial in ecclesiastical courts. The Isidorian fiction fully stated this theory. These and other privileges led many to enter the minor clerical orders who had no intention of performing ecclesiastical functions. Council after council pronounced the priest’s person inviolate and upon no other matter was Innocent III. more insistent. Violence offered to a priest was punished with the anathema, and civil authorities venturing to cite clerics to appear before them incurred the same penalty. Such legislation did not, however, bring complete immunity from injury or exempt church property from spoliation. In England, Thomas à Becket is the most noteworthy example. A bishop of Caithness had his tongue cut out. A Spanish bishop received the same treatment at the hands of a king of Aragon. In Germany, Bishop Dietrich of Naumburg, a learned man, was murdered, 1123; as were also Conrad, bishop of Utrecht, 1099; Arnold bishop of Merseburg, 1126, and other bishops. Lawrence, archdeacon of York, was murdered in the vestibule of his church by a knight. The life of Norbert of Magdeburg was attempted twice. The principle which the Church recognized in the punishment of clerical crimes was laid down by Coelestin III., 1192. Theft, homicide, perjury, or other “mortal crimes” were punished with deposition. If the priest persisted in committing offences, he was excommunicated and, at last, turned over to the state for punishment. There was no little complaint against the application of the canon law. Roger Bacon complained bitterly against the time given to its study in Bologna. He declared its study was obliterating the distinction between the clerical and lay professions. The doctors of law called themselves clerks though they had not the tonsure and took to themselves wives. He demanded that, if clergymen and laymen were to be subjected to the same law, it should be the law of England for Englishmen, and of France for Frenchmen and not the law of Lombardy.

Clerical manners were a constant subject of conciliar action. Ordination afforded no immunity from vanity and love of ostentation. The extravagance of bishops and other clergy in dress and ornaments gave rise to much scandal. The Third Lateran sought to check vain display by forbidding a retinue of more than 40 or 50 horse to archbishops, 25 to cardinals, and 20 or 30 to bishops. Archdeacons were reduced to the paltry number of 5 or 7 and deans to 2. There was some excuse for retinues in an age of violence with no provision for public police. The chase had its peculiar fascination and bishops were forbidden to take hounds or falcons with them on their journeys of visitation. Dogs and hunting were in localities denied to clergymen altogether.

The fondness of the clergy for gay apparel was often rebuked. In Southern France, clergymen ventured to wear red and green colors and to substitute for the close-fitting garment the graceful and flowing open robe. They followed the fashions of the times in ornamenting themselves with buckles and belts of gold and silver and hid the tonsure by wearing their hair long. They affected the latest styles of shoes and paraded about in silk gloves and gilded spurs, with gilded breastbands on their horses and on gilded saddles.

Full as the atmosphere of the age was of war-clamor, and many warring prelates as there were, the legislation of the Church was against a fighting clergy. The wearing of swords and dirks and of a military dress was repeatedly forbidden to them. Wars for the extermination of heresy were in a different category from feuds among Catholic Christians. It was in regard to the former that Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, said, “As for the enemies of Christ, we shall slay them and purify the face of the earth, that the whole world may be subject to one Catholic Church and become one fold and one shepherd.” Priests were prohibited from attending executions, and also tournaments and duels, on the ground that these contests presented the possibility of untimely death to the contestants. In case a combatant received a mortal wound he was entitled to the sacrament but was denied ecclesiastical burial. The Fourth Lateran solemnly enjoined ecclesiastics against pronouncing the death sentence or executing it, and the same council forbade surgery also, so far as it involved cutting and burning, to deacons and subdeacons as well as to priests.

The period opens with the dark picture of clerical morals by Peter Damiani who likened them to the morals of the Cities of the Plain. Bernard, a hundred years later, in condemning clergymen for the use of military dress, declared they had neither the courage of the soldier nor the virtues of the clergyman. A hundred years later still Grosseteste, in describing the low moral and religious state of the English people, made the immoral lives of the clergy responsible for it.

Dice were played even on the altars of Notre Dame, Paris, and dice-playing is often forbidden to priests in the acts of synods. Wine-drinking to excess was also a fault of the clergy, and Salimbene knew Italian clerics who sold wine and kept taverns. According to Caesar of Heisterbach, wine often flowed at the dedication of churches. A Devonshire priest was accustomed to brew his beer in the church-building.

The most famous passage of all is the passage in which Jacob de Vitry describes conditions in Paris. Fornication among clergymen, he says, was considered no sin. Loose women paraded the streets and, as it were by force, drew them to their lodgings. And if they refused, the women pointed the finger at them, crying “Sodomites.” Things were so bad and the leprosy so incurable that it was considered honorable to have one or more concubines. In the same building, school was held upstairs and prostitutes lived below. In the upper story masters read and in the lower story loose women plied their trade. In one part of the building women and their procurors disputed and in another part the clergy held forth in their disputations.

The Fourth Lateran arraigned bishops for spending the nights in revelry and wantonness. The archbishopric of Rouen was occupied for 113 years by three prelates of scandalous fame. Two of them were bastards of the ducal house and all rivalled or excelled the barons round about in turbulence and license. A notorious case in high places was that of the papal legate, Cardinal John of Crema. He held a council which forbade priests and the lower clergy to have wives or concubines; but, sent to the bishop of Durham to remonstrate with him over the debauchery which ruled in his palace, the cardinal himself yielded to a woman whom the bishop provided. The bishop regarded it as a jest when he pointed out the cardinal in the act of fornication.

Marriage and concubinage continued to be practised by the clergy in spite of the Hildebrandian legislation. Innocent III. agreed with Hildebrand that a priest with a family is divided in his affections and cannot give to God and the Church his full allegiance in time and thought. Writers, like Salimbene and Caesar of Heisterbach, were severe on married priests. According to the Fourth Lateran, bishops not only violated the canons of the Church themselves by committing the “crime of the flesh,” as Gregory VII. called it, but winked at their violation by priests for a money-compensation. A common saying among priests was, si non caste, caute; that is, “if not chaste, at least cautious.” In this way Paul’s words were misinterpreted when he said, “If they cannot contain, let them marry.” Bonaventura, who knew the facts, declared “that very many of the clergy are notoriously unchaste, keeping concubines in their houses and elsewhere or notoriously sinning here and there with many persons.”

Conditions must have been bad indeed, if they equalled the priestly customs of the fourteenth century and the example set by the popes in the latter half of the fifteenth. Who will forget the example and mistresses of the first and only Scotch cardinal, Archbishop Beaton, who condemned Patrick Hamilton and Wishart to death! Were not the Swiss Reformers Bullinger and Leo Jud sons of priests, and was not Zwingli, in spite of his offence against the law of continence, in good standing so long as he remained in the papal communion!

The violation of the ecclesiastical law of celibacy was, however, by no means in all cases a violation of the moral law. Without the ceremony of marriage, many a priest lived honorably with the woman he had chosen, and cared for and protected his family. The Roman pontiff’s ordinance, setting aside an appointment of the Almighty, was one of the most offensive pieces of papal legislation and did unspeakable injury to the Church.


127. The Councils

The legislation of the ecumenical and local synods of this age gives the most impressive evidence of the moral ideals of the Church and its effort to introduce moral reforms. The large number of councils, as compared with the period just before 1050, was a healthy sign. Their time was largely taken up with disciplinary and moral subjects. They legislated upon the relation of the Church to the empire, and the election of the pope, against simony and clerical marriage, upon heresy and measures for its repression, upon the crusades and the truce of God, on the details of clerical conduct and dress, and upon the rites of worship. The doctrine of transubstantiation, defined at the Fourth Lateran, was the only doctrine which was added by ecumenical authority to the list of the great dogmas handed down from the early Church.

At one period one subject, and at another, another subject, was prominent. The character of the legislation also differed with the locality. The synods in Rome, during the latter half of the eleventh century, discussed clerical celibacy, simony, and investiture by laymen. The synods of Southern France and Spain, from the year 1200, abound in decrees upon the subject of heresy. The synods of England and Germany were more concerned about customs of worship and clerical conduct.

A notable feature is the attendance of popes on synods held outside of Rome. Leo IX. attended synods in France and Germany, as well as in Italy. Urban II. presided at the great synod of Clermont, 1095. Innocent II. attended a number of synods outside of Rome. Alexander III. was present at the important synod of Tours, where Thomas à Becket sat at his right. Lucius III. presided at the council of Verona, 1184. Innocent IV. and Gregory X. were present at the first and second councils of Lyons. Such synods had double weight from the presence of the supreme head of Christendom. The synods may be divided into three classes: — 

I. Local Synods, 1050-1122. — The synods held in this, the Hildebrandian period, were a symptom of a new era in Church history. The chief synods were held in Rome and, beginning with 1049, they carried through the reformatory legislation, enforcing clerical celibacy and forbidding simony. The legislation against lay-investiture culminated in the Lenten synods at Rome, 1074 and 1075, presided over by Gregory VII. Local synods, especially in France and England, repeated this legislation. The method of electing a pope was settled by the Roman synod held by Nicolas, and confirmed by the Third Lateran, 1179. The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, as advocated by Berengar, d. 1088, called forth action at Rome and Vercelli, 1050, and again at Rome, 1059 and 1079. The legislation bearing on the conquest of the Holy Places was inaugurated at Piacenza and more seriously at the synod of Clermont, both held in 1095.

II. The Ecumenical Councils. — Six general councils were held within a period of one hundred and fifty years, 1123-1274, as against eight held between 325-869, or a period of five hundred years. The first four go by the name of the Lateran Councils, from the Lateran in Rome, where they assembled. The last two were held in Lyons. They were called by the popes, and temporal sovereigns had nothing to do in summoning them. They were presided over by popes, and the dockets of business were prepared by papal direction. The pope ratified their decrees. The first canon of the First Lateran ran, “by the authority of the Apostolic see, we forbid,” etc., — auctoritate sedis apostol. prohibemus. It is true that the assent of the assembled prelates was assumed or, if expressly mentioned, the formula ran, “with the assent of the holy synod,” or “the holy synod being in session,” — sacro approbante concilio, or sacro praesente concilio. So it was with the Fourth Lateran. The six ecumenical councils are: — 

1. The First Lateran, 1123, called by Calixtus II., is listed by the Latins as the Ninth ecumenical council. Its chief business was to ratify the Concordat of Worms. It was the first ecumenical council to forbid the marriage of priests. It renewed Urban II.’s legislation granting indulgences to the Crusaders.

2. The Second Lateran, 1139, opened with an address by Innocent II., consummated the close of the recent papal schism and pronounced against the errors of Arnold of Brescia.

3. The Third Lateran, 1179, under the presidency of Alexander III., celebrated the restoration of peace between the Church and the empire and, falling back on the canon of the Second Lateran, legislated against the Cathari and Patarenes. It ordered separate churches and burial-grounds for lepers. Two hundred and eighty-seven, or, according to other reports, three hundred or three hundred and ninety-six bishops attended.

4. The Fourth Lateran or Twelfth ecumenical, 1215, marks an epoch in the Middle Ages. It established the Inquisition and formulated the doctrine of transubstantiation, the two most far-reaching decrees of the medieval Church. Innocent III. dominated the council, and its disciplinary and moral canons are on a high plane and would of themselves have made the assemblage notable. It was here that the matter of Raymund of Toulouse was adjudicated, and here the crusade was appointed for 1217 which afterwards gave Frederick II. and Innocent’s two immediate successors so much trouble. A novel feature was the attendance of a number of Latin patriarchs from the East, possessing meagre authority, but venerable titles. The decisions of the council were quoted as authoritative by Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas.

5. The First council of Lyons, 1245, presided over by Innocent IV., has its fame from the prosecution and deposition of the emperor Frederick II. It also took up the distressed condition of Jerusalem and the menace of the Tartars to Eastern Europe.

6. The Second council of Lyons or the Fourteenth ecumenical, 1274, was summoned by Gregory X., and attended by five hundred bishops and one thousand other ecclesiastics. Gregory opened the sessions with an address as Innocent III. had opened the Fourth Lateran and Innocent IV. the First council of Lyons. The first of its thirty-one canons reaffirmed the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son. It repeated the legislation of the Fourth Lateran, prohibiting the institution of new monastic orders. The council’s chief significance was the attempt to reunite the churches of the West and the East, the latter being represented by an imposing delegation.

These ecumenical assemblages have their importance from the questions they discussed and the personalities they brought together. They had an important influence in uniting all parts of Western Christendom and in developing the attachment to the Apostolic see, as the norm of Church unity.

III. Local Synods, 1122-1294. — Some of the local synods of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are of even more importance than some of the ecumenical councils of the same period. If they were to be characterized for a single subject of legislation, it would be the repression of heresy. Some of them had far more than a local significance, as, for example, the synod of Tours, 1163, when Spain, Sicily, Italy, England, Scotland, and Ireland were represented as well as France. Alexander III. and seventeen cardinals were present. The synod legislated against heresy.

The synod of Verona, 1184, passed a lengthy and notable decree concerning the trial and punishment of heretics. It heard the plea of the Waldenses, but declined to grant it.

The synod of Treves, 1227, passed important canons bearing on the administration of the sacraments.

The synod of Toulouse, 1229, presided over by the papal legate, celebrated the close of the Albigensian crusades and perfected the code of the Inquisition. It has an unenviable distinction among the great synods on account of its decree forbidding laymen to have the Bible in their possession.

These synods were great events, enlightening the age and stirring up thought. Unwholesome as were their measures against ecclesiastical dissent and on certain other subjects, their legislation was, upon the whole, in the right direction of purity of morals and the rights of the people.