The Crisis of the Seventeenth Century: Religion, the Reformation, and Social Change

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Hill was one of the foremost leaders of the dissenters. British and continental Marxism became increasingly bifurcated. In time, Hill became known as an international figure, his works translated into many languages. Yet his intellectual focus remained very much within the English-speaking world. Thereafter, Christopher Hill described himself as a Marxist but not a Communist. His decision to leave the Party in May caused him muchanguish. It meant that, in terms of his own personal beliefs, he had to face T.

For the young Hill in the s, its message of theological liberation combined with personal repression had become a restrictive lie. Embalmed as a repressive state orthodoxy, it too did not allow real freedom. It had become a lie, and was later rejected in Eastern Europe by the very people in whose names the communists ruled.

Freed from Party orthodoxy after , Hill increasingly dropped the formalised Marxist terminology. The change was in part purely semantic, because Hill did not rescind a socio-economic interpretation of the upheavals. There was, however, a subtle internal shift in his explanatory logic. Initially, it was an emergent capitalism that generated the English Revolution, bursting asunder the restrictive bonds of the old feudal state, [40] whereas in his later works it was the Revolution created the conditions in which an emergent capitalism could flourish.

Political change laid the groundwork for economic change, rather than the other way round. After the crisis of , Christopher Hill, then aged 45, wrote with fresh vigour and speed. Because he did not move sharply to the political Right in contrast to some other former communists , he himself described leaving the Party as an institutional transition rather than an intellectual liberation.

Theirs was a union of deeply kindred spirits. Bridget Hill encouraged Christopher to write, just as he later encouraged her. Gaining simultaneously both personal and intellectual equipoise unlocked his creativity. All in all, he wrote more than fifteen books two being textbooks [43] , as well as edited volumes of printed primary sources and historical studies.

Among his major books, one significant category comprised biographies of leading seventeenth-century Puritans: Oliver Cromwell; [46] John Milton; [47] John Bunyan. It was part of his favoured approach to study history via the role of individuals: no soulless reliance upon the impersonal forces of history for him. Another major category of his publications related to religion, not only in its institutional guise but especially as a set of ideas.

His Economic Problems of the Church: From Archbishop Whitgift to the Long Parliament was the most explicitly concerned with the materialist infrastructure, although Hill did not use that Marxist terminology. Ideas rather than economics remained his forte. He did not stint, moreover, on the theological details. The stress upon the power of ideas was continued in his Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution [55] and the much slighter Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution , [56] based on a set of guest lectures.

He did, however, reveal a residual materialism from time to time. Yet these are philosophical deep waters. Here his enthusiasm for the seventeenth-century revolution had led him into a philosophical quagmire. Undoubtedly, for him, the work that best expressed his own beliefs was The World Turned Upside Down Hill did them the compliment of taking them seriously. His optimism in The World Turned Upside Down contrasted notably with a later and sadder work, The Experience of Defeat , written in the Thatcher years, when he meditated the outward failure of the English Revolution post Nonetheless, he still stressed the need to remain aware of the radical alternatives to the existing system.

The Place of Naples in the 17th-Century Spanish Empire | SpringerLink

Change was always possible and, alas, always needed. In the s, for example, Hill warmly welcomed the new History Workshop movement. He particularly enjoyed the egalitarianism of its discussion groups, where he typically listened rather than pontificated. At the same time, as Master of an Oxford College, Christopher Hill represented the capacity of Marxism to storm an important cultural citadel - although it should be noted that, by the time of his election in , Hill was no longer a doctrinaire exponent of the cause.

It remains a moot point whether he would have succeeded had he still been a CP member. In my view, probably not. Hill was never popular with visceral anti-communists - an attitude that long persisted. His books almost always had mixed reviews from his fellow academics. Moreover, a sharply honed attack upon his general methodology came in from the American historian J.

The critique scored some good points, even while underestimating the nuances that Hill increasingly gave to his interpretation. Other polemics followed. He believed everything that he wrote. At times, admittedly, his style can be faulted as too impressionistic, without sufficiently weighing alternative explanations and assessing problems within his own argument some of his critics fell into the same trap.

The fact that he wrote rapidly and updated his arguments over time, however, did not in itself disprove his history. Their influence, which was great, became increasingly diffuse over time. Other intellectual fashions came and went, multiplying from the s onwards. These sometimes contradicted and sometimes complemented, more or less awkwardly, the premises of classical Marxism. Thus the heirs of the Marxists in the next academic generation tended to be more generically radical than formally Marxist.

For Hill, the indisputably key revolution occurred in the seventeenth century; while for others, such as E. Nonetheless, the once straightforward message of Marx and Engels was becoming ever more complicated. And, by the same token, Marxism itself as an intellectual tradition was also diversifying almost out of existence, whether applied to history or any other subject specialisms.

Throughout all this, Christopher Hill never rejected the hopes of the Left, despite his sadness at the failure of institutionalised communism. Intellectually, he continued to defend Marxism as a way of understanding both past and present history. The general framework remained clear to him. For him, the cause was very far from dead and buried: [73]. I still think that the events between and are aptly described as a revolution, since they led to vast changes in the history of England and of the world.

We may point to many non-religious reasons: the pressure of guild restrictions in the old centres; the ease with which entrepreneurs and workers unlike landlords or peasants can migrate; the new opportunities which were already presenting themselves in the north. But these reasons, which can explain individual cases, cannot explain the general movement. For, after all, the majority of these men, though they might leave easily, did not leave willingly.

They were expelled. And they were expelled for religion. The Italians who fled over the Alps from Milan or Como were largely cloth-merchants and cloth-workers who feared persecution for their religious views. The question we have to ask is, what had happened to create this new gulf between sixteenth-century Catholicism and the sixteenth-century entrepreneurs and workers: a gulf quite unknown to the medieval Church and the medieval entrepreneurs and workers? In face of this question, it is convenient to ask, what was the religious attitude of those actively engaged in economic life in ?

Let me therefore make it clear that by Erasmianism I mean not specifically the doctrines of Erasmus, but those general views to which the early reformers, and Erasmus in particular, gave a clear form. These Erasmians were Christian and Catholic, but they rejected or ignored a great deal of the new external apparatus of official Catholicism: an apparatus which, since it absorbed energy, consumed time and immobilized property, without having any necessary connection with religion, was equally disliked by educated, by pious, and by active men.

Against the exaggerated pretensions of the clergy, Edition: current; Page: [ 22 ] claiming that the clerical or monastic condition was, by itself, holier than the lay condition, the laity exalted the married state as being not a mere concession to base human nature, but a religious state no less holy than clerical celibacy; and they exalted the lay calling as being, if sanctified by inner faith in its daily exercise, no less holy than the clerical office. In keeping with his view of a new, revolutionary idea in the sixteenth century, Weber ascribed it, in its verbal form, to Luther and, in its real significance, to Calvin.

His philological reasoning is known to be wrong. And, in fact, the idea was a commonplace before Protestantism. In all this there is, of course, nothing explicitly heretical. Pressed to extremes, Erasmianism could be subversive of the clerical establishment. Put into practice, it would have diminished the number of the clergy, reduced their influence over the laity, cut down their means of propaganda, blocked the sources of their wealth.

But as it was provoked only by the indecent number of the clergy, their indecent power and wealth, so, in normal times, it was unlikely to be pushed to extremes. Nor was it exclusively a doctrine, or rather a mental attitude, of the mercantile classes. It was an attitude which appealed to the educated laity in general.

Erasmus had friends and patrons among princes and their officers, even among the clergy, as well as among the mercantile classes. Nevertheless there was a sense in which it was peculiarly the attitude of the bourgeoisie. Erasmian officers and lawyers, as a class, would follow their prince. Erasmian clergy, as a class, would go with the Church. Among the educated classes, the urban, mercantile classes—not the great tax-farmers or contractors, economically tied to the Crown or the Church, but the Edition: current; Page: [ 23 ] really independent, self-confident entrepreneurs—were most free to follow their philosophy to its logical conclusion, if they were forced to do so.

In the decades of the Reformation they were forced to do so. In those years the abuses of the Church drove its critics into extremity and the Erasmians, wherever they were, found themselves obliged either to surrender at discretion or to admit themselves heretics. If they chose the latter course, they became Calvinists. For Calvin, far more than is generally admitted, was the heir of Erasmus: the heir in a more intolerant age, it is true, the heir who has to fight for his legacy, and whose character is changed by the struggle, but still, in essentials, the heir.

If we follow his career, or read his works, we are constantly reminded of Erasmus. Calvin was nurtured on Erasmian teaching. He published his great work in the last city of Erasmus. Some of his writings are almost plagiarisms of Erasmus. Like Erasmus, unlike Luther, Calvin believed in a reformed visible Church: the hierarchy was not to be destroyed but purified, made more efficient, more dynamic.

And everywhere the Erasmian bourgeoisie, if it did not renounce its Erasmian views altogether, turned to Calvinism as the only form in which it could defend them. The mercantile aristocracy of Venice, preserving inviolate their republican constitution, were able to keep their old character, neither Papist nor Protestant. But their colleagues in Milan, Como, Lucca were not. So the most independent of them slid gradually into Calvinism, or at least, as they slipped over the Alps into Switzerland, accepted with whatever private reservations the public leadership of the Calvinists, the only International which could give protection and coherence to a group of urban minorities whose own strength lay not in numbers but in their moral and intellectual quality.

So the change took place. Had the Roman Church and the Spanish State not suddenly resolved to persecute the views of Erasmus and Vives, Ochino and Vermigli, Castellio and Sozzini, the mercantile aristocracies of Antwerp, Milan, Lucca, even Seville 31 would no doubt have continued, like that Edition: current; Page: [ 24 ] of Venice, to preserve their orthodoxy, wearing it, as of old, with a slight difference.

In fact, this was not so. The abuses of Rome drove the merchant aristocracies into a position which the terrified Court of Rome saw as positively heretical. We can see why Rome panicked. But to leave the question thus, as if reaction to a temporary crisis created a major shift in European economy for three centuries, would be unpardonably superficial. For why, we must ask, did the lay princes forward this priestly panic? And why did the fugitive Calvinist entrepreneurs so easily, and so permanently, leave the economic centres of Europe?

For after all, the era of panic was relatively brief. Catholic princes as the case of de Witte shows were prepared to make concessions to economically valuable heretics, and after a generation most of the Calvinist entrepreneurs had lost their doctrinal purity. If de Witte was prepared to serve Wallenstein and have his son baptized as a Catholic, if the merchants of Hamburg were prepared to work for the King of Spain, there is no reason to suppose that they would have absolutely refused to return to their old allegiance in a more tolerant age.

Besides, they were not always comfortable in Calvinist countries. By Calvinism was the religion not only of the educated laity, but also of ambitious noblemen and rural squireens; it was controlled, often, by fanatical clergy, little better than the monkish inquisitors against whom it had once been a protest.

To escape from such company the original intellectual Calvinists turned aside to Arminianism in Holland, to undenominational lay Puritanism in England. To pose this question is to go far outside the field of mere doctrine. Edition: current; Page: [ 25 ] It is to ask large, hitherto unanswered questions of sociology. For always we come back to this: the Calvinist and for that matter the Jewish entrepreneurs of northern Europe were not a new native growth: they were an old growth transplanted. The novelty lay not in the entrepreneurs themselves, but in the circumstances which drove them to emigrate.

And they were driven out not merely by priests, on doctrinal grounds, though these supplied the pretext and the agency of expulsion, but—since the religion of State is a formulation of social ideology—by societies which had hardened against them. In the sixteenth century Italy and Flanders, for centuries the home of commercial and industrial capitalism, so changed their social character that they would no longer tolerate those men who, in the past, had made them the economic heart of Europe. The expulsion of Calvinists from the area of Spanish dominion or patronage—for both Flanders and Italy had passed, by , under Spanish control—is a social fact comparable with the expulsion from Spain, in the same period, of those other socially unassimilable elements, the Moors and the Jews.

In other words, we must look for the explanation of our problem not so much in Protestantism and the expelled entrepreneurs as in Catholicism and the expelling societies. We must ask what was the social change which came over Catholic societies in the sixteenth century. It was a change which occurred predominantly in countries of the Spanish clientele. For instance, it did not occur in France—at least until Louis XIV expelled the Huguenots, with consequences, both to the expelling society and to the rest of Europe, remarkably similar to those of the sixteenth-century expulsions.

On the other hand, it was not confined to the Spanish empire, for we find a similar withdrawal, if not positive expulsion, from some other Catholic countries. This is shown in Italy where the Catholic entrepreneurs who had contrived to keep within the bounds of orthodoxy nevertheless believed that the conditions of their prosperity were incompatible not with the doctrines, but Edition: current; Page: [ 26 ] with the social forms of the Counter-Reformation. The great instance, of course, is Venice. The Catholic merchant society of Venice fought with surprising solidarity against successive attempts to introduce the social forms of the Counter-Reformation.

The resistance of the republic in the early seventeenth century, against the combined pressure of Pope and Spain, is a struggle not between two religions, but between two social forms. When the Republic finally weakened about , the Counter-Reformation moved in and commercial life shrank. The same antithesis can be seen, on a smaller scale, in the republic of Lucca. Cosimo I of Tuscany was restrained from the conquest of Lucca because, having seen the flight of so many of the great silk-merchants under papal pressure, he had no wish to scare away the rest.

It was not that they were heretical or that he would willingly have driven them into heresy. The Medici dukes of Tuscany were famous for their encouragement of merchants, whether they were natives, foreigners or even heretics. Already in defining the problem we have suggested the answer. In the remainder of this essay I can still only suggest it, because the subject obviously requires longer treatment than I have space for.

But I will try to outline the process as I believe that it happened. If, in doing so, I only reveal the gaps in our knowledge, perhaps that will encourage someone to supply those gaps. The capitalism of the Middle Ages was the achievement, essentially, of self-governing city-republics: the Flemish and Hanseatic towns in the north, the Italian towns in the Mediterranean, the Rhineland and south German towns between them.

In these republics, the merchants who governed them were orthodox, even devout Catholics: the Pope, after all, was the patron of the Italian cities against the Emperor, and the Florentine capitalists, as afterwards the Fugger of Augsburg, were the economic agents of the Pope. But they were Catholics in their own way.

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Their piety, their charity, was positive, constructive, sometimes even lavish; but it did not create, directly or indirectly, obstacles to their own mercantile enterprise. They might feed monks with Edition: current; Page: [ 27 ] their superfluous profits, but they did not immobilize mercantile wealth in monasticism. They might put a proportion of their sons into the Church, but within reason: they saw to it that the main enterprise of the republic was not impeded by a stampede into the Church.

And this care of the Church was combined with a parallel care of the State. The State, after all, was their instrument: they did not wish it to develop too many organs of its own, or become their master. Nor did they wish either Church or State to become too costly: to impose, through taxation, direct or indirect, an insupportable burden on commerce and manufacture, the nourishment of the city.

As such they were extremely sensitive to cost. Even a slight rise in the burden of taxation, a slight fall in the margin of profit, could cause a flight of capital to other more convenient centres—from Siena to Florence, from Ulm to Augsburg. It was a fact which conditioned the religious outlook of the city aristocracies themselves. In the fifteenth century, when the Church, in its opposition to Conciliar reform, set out to increase its strength by the multiplication of regular clergy and their propagandist and fiscal devices, it was not for nothing that the movement which would culminate in Erasmianism, the positive formulation of opposition to all these processes, found its natural supporters in the educated bourgeoisie of the old free cities.

They recognized, even at its beginning, the process which, for some of them, would bring prosperity to an end. Of course there was always an alternative process. A mercantile class could find profit—at least short-term profit—in yielding to the times. Some of the old mercantile families profited by this change. They became court financiers or monopolists, and because the free-trade area within which they operated was larger than before, they sometimes made spectacular fortunes.

But except when whole cities obtained exceptional monopoly positions in the new empires—like Genoa in the Spanish empire—these individual gains of state capitalists were offset by losses among private capitalists, who, since they no longer controlled the State, were powerless to redress it. Naturally, they drew the consequences.

Those who did not, and felt the added burden of those who did, retreated into critical, Erasmian doctrines and looked for other mercantile opportunities in freer, less taxed lands.

Results of the Crises of the Seventeenth Century

For already, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, new difficulties were pressing at home, new opportunities were beckoning abroad. In some towns of Flanders, Switzerland and Germany the craft-guilds had strengthened their power and, to protect their own employment, were impeding technical change. Even without religious pressure, the entrepreneurs of those towns were beginning to seek new bases, and the unprivileged workers willingly followed them.

And the great entrepreneurs were looking still farther afield. The Fugger, having built up their mining organization in the mature economy of the south, were already applying it in the hitherto unexploited mineral wealth of Scandinavia. Even without the Reformation, there were purely economic reasons for a shift. Then, in the s, came the great revolt: the revolt of Luther. Like all great social revolts, it used ideas which had been developed in the more advanced societies against which it was directed. The Erasmian criticism of the mercantile republics was adopted by the revolutionaries of the north.

But, of course, it was adopted with a great difference. Although Edition: current; Page: [ 29 ] the Erasmians might sympathize with part of the Lutheran programme, they could not go the whole way: that would be a betrayal of their civilization. But as they were a minority, as the city-republics were no longer an independent force in politics, they had ultimately to choose. Either they must surrender, be absorbed into the world they had criticized, at best be tolerated within it, or they must themselves go forward into revolution. Fortunately in the time of their crisis, they did not have to submit to the anarchic revolution of Luther.

In their old homes, in the urban societies of the Netherlands, of the Rhine, of Switzerland, of north Italy, the Erasmian message was being transformed, strengthened, sharpened, made capable of independence and resistance. Between the Catholic princes of the Mediterranean and Burgundy, fighting for the preservation of an old supremacy, and the Lutheran princes of Germany, placing themselves at the head of national revolt, arose that slender dynamic force of the surviving free cities of Europe: the Calvinist International.

With this great struggle we are not here concerned. What concerns us is the structural change which the Catholic countries underwent in the course of it. For in the end the revolt was stayed.

CRISIS OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

If most of northern Europe was lost, and ceased to be an economic colony of the Mediterranean, Catholicism survived in its old home. The dream of the reformers, of carrying revolution to Rome itself, was never realized, and Rome reconquered even the Erasmian Calvinist cities of north Italy and Flanders. But this victory was won at a heavy social cost. Just as the papacy had triumphed over the Conciliar Movement in Europe by multiplying its abuses, its costly apparatus of power and propaganda, and becoming, for the sake of spiritual supremacy, more and more of a secular monarchy, so, in the next century, it triumphed over the Reformation at home by a still further continuation of that process and by a still more intimate alliance with the secular, princely State.

The Counter-Reformation, which animated that reconquest, may be seen as a great spiritual revival: a new movement of mysticism, evangelism, charity. It had contemplated conciliation, appeasement. But then the mood had hardened. The Counter-Reformation papacy, abandoning all thoughts of conciliation, turned to aggression on every threatened front.

Clerical wealth, it declared, must be not diminished but increased; there must be not fewer but more regular orders, more lavish propaganda, more magnificent buildings, more elaborate devotions. Moreover, since the Church, to defend itself, needed the power of the princes, the princely bureaucracy, in return, was sustained by the clerical bureaucracy. Popery, as wavering Protestant kings were often reminded, was the only real guarantee of monarchy. And indeed, in a sense, it was. Would Charles I so easily have lost his throne if his fragile Court had been buttressed by a rich bureaucratic Church, with numerous offices and tempting perquisites for laymen, and, instead of Puritan lecturers, an army of friars evangelizing and preaching obedience among the people?

Of course, in its early stage, the weight of this enlarged apparatus might be carried. The new mysticism, the spiritual effort of the early Counter-Reformation, could refloat the old hulk which the reformers had vainly sought to lighten. The early Jesuits contrived to breathe into it some of the old Erasmian spirit. They cultivated the laity, modernized the philosophy of the Church, sought to reassure merchants and other laymen of the usefulness of their calling. And if the old princely bureaucracy had tended to squeeze out the mercantile life of urban societies, how much more was that likely to happen when the princely bureaucracies had been doubled by the addition, the inextricable addition, of clerical bureaucracies, no less costly, no less contemptuous of economic life which was not subservient to their needs?

Nor was it merely a question of cost: of the taxes which the new State imposed on the private capitalist class. The new State entailed a new society and the new social forms gradually strengthened themselves by investing in themselves. For any society which does not apprehend revolution tends to invest in itself. A capitalist society invests in capitalism, a bureaucratic society in bureaucracy. The public ethos of society—the order in which it values the various professions—and the opportunities for placing its capital both tend in the same direction.

In medieval Flanders or Italy the mercantile profession led to power in the city oligarchies and to public respect. If a merchant built up a great fortune, how was he likely to use it? Whatever spiritual and worldly insurance policy he might take out in the form of gifts to the Church or the poor and the purchase of land or annuities for his dependants, his charity would not be at the expense of a future commercial life.

A great part of it would be in favour of urban commercial institutions. He would keep the bulk of his fortune in commerce, and if he would show his orthodoxy by putting some of his family into the Church, he would put those on whom its worldly fortune would depend into business. Thus the wealth and manpower of society would be directed into commerce and industry and the Church would be the consecration of a business community. But in seventeenth-century Flanders and Italy it would be different. Even if a man had made a great fortune in commerce or industry, when he came to invest it for the future of his family he would look to the society around him and draw the appropriate conclusions.

That society, he would observe, was no longer a mercantile urban society: it was a courtly, bureaucratic society, and its values and its opportunities were quite different. For his spiritual salvation, and for his dependants, he would still take out an insurance policy. He would still give his tithe to the Church, buy land or rentes for his widow.

But for those of his sons on whom the worldly hopes of the family rested he would use his capital accumulation to buy offices in the administration of Church or State. Under the pashalik of the prince, officers would never starve: merchants might. Thus the wealth and power of society would be directed into office and the Church would be the consecration not of a mercantile but of an official society.

Thus the Counter-Reformation State gradually created, even in the old mercantile cities which it conquered, a new kind of society: a society, moreover, which then strengthened itself by its own social momentum. In Venice, because it was not absorbed by or converted into a princely State, in Amsterdam, because it continued the republican society which had been suppressed in Antwerp, the old character was preserved. The merchant of Amsterdam invested his fortune and placed his sons in continuing business, partly because it was honourable, partly because it was profitable—unlike a prince, a self-governing city-state could be trusted not to adopt laws or a policy ruinous to business—partly because there were fewer alternatives.

In Milan and Antwerp the reverse happened. There independent capitalism wilted. The only great profits in business were the profits of state capitalism. But as even state capitalism generally begins with private capitalism, the great state capitalists of the princely states are often found to have made their first fortunes abroad. And even the state capitalists, if they plant their families and invest their fortunes within the State, tend to invest their profits in office and land, not commerce.

The Genoese plutocracy, tolerated as a self-governing urban enclave in order to be the state financiers of the Spanish empire, and investing their profits in offices, titles and land within that empire, are typical of this history. So is Hans de Witte, an immigrant into Bohemia who became the state capitalist of the Emperor and invested in office, titles and land in Bohemia.

As for the native capitalists, absorbed by conquest into the Counter-Reformation States, they turned necessarily the same way. If we take any great Counter-Reformation city in and compare it with its own condition in , the pattern of change is similar. Outwardly the difference may not be obvious. The number of rich men may not have perceptibly diminished. There may be as many fine town houses, as many carriages, as much—perhaps even more—evidence of private spending.

There is still a prosperous, conspicuous haute bourgeoisie. But when we look behind this front we find that the source of wealth is different. The Roman Catholic religion, as medieval history had shown, was perfectly compatible with capitalist expansion. The growth of princely States in the advanced capitalist societies undoubtedly, in itself, marked an economic regression, whether those States were patronized by Spain or not.

Rome, with its swollen clerical bureaucracy, would have been an unmercantile city at any time. But the Spanish patronage, by its own character and by the necessities of State, imposed the pattern in a yet more extreme form. Moreover, it was fatally successful. The wealth and military support of Spain enabled the princely States under its protection to work: to seem economically viable even if they were not; and this illusion lasted long enough for the new system to become permanent.

In the patronage of Spain was the natural sustenance of every princely Court which felt itself no longer secure: even a Protestant Court, like that of James I, was its pensionary. Conversely, every mercantile society, even if it were Catholic, like Venice, regarded Spain as its enemy. By Spanish patronage could be of little help to anyone; but by then the societies of Counter-Reformation Europe had been fixed: fixed in economic decline.

A general tendency is sometimes illustrated by its exceptions. I have suggested a general pattern of change in Counter-Reformation States. Edition: current; Page: [ 37 ] First, there is the reanimation not only of Catholic dogma but also of the whole structure of the Church: a wave of mysticism reinvigorates the old, decadent machinery, which the reformers have attacked. New religious orders are founded. New forms of charity, new devotions, new methods of propaganda bring new resources to the Church and increase its possessions in mortmain.

This reinvigoration of the Church is a reinvigoration also of the State which accepts it and which, by definition, is a princely State; for urban republics are opposed to such large subtractions from economic life. But when a generation has passed and this spirit has evaporated, the burden of this great increase is both felt and resented. The newly established society, feeling itself vulnerable and threatened, becomes intolerant and turns against the uncomfortable, unassimilated elements in its midst.

The obstinate survivors of the old reforming party are expelled, and the State settles down to enjoy its security, which it celebrates by pullulation of offices in the happily united Church-State. Such is the general rule which I have posited. The apparent exception is France. But once we look below the surface we soon find that this exception is more apparent than real.


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For obvious reasons, the Counter-Reformation came late to France; but when it came the consequences were the same. It is only the timing that is different. As the great power opposed to Spain, France found itself opposed to the Counter-Reformation, which, in its first century, had been so openly associated with Spanish power. Consequently, in France, the social repression of the Counter-Reformation was long unfelt. Henri IV might outdo many other Catholic princes in gestures of papalism for he had a past to bury , but the apparatus of the Counter-Reformation State was not adopted in his time.

The France of Richelieu contained Huguenots and Jansenists; it received the fugitives of the Roman and Spanish Inquisitions; it published the works suppressed by the Roman censorship; and it benefited by the vast sales of Church lands carried out in the Wars of Religion. But this happy state did not last long. It was then that the new Catholic mysticism flowed in from Spanish Flanders and led to the foundation of new religious orders; then that the structure of the French Church was at last reformed. In the early years of Louis XIV the two opposite tendencies were fully revealed.

But the monarchy which Louis XIV set out to establish was not of that kind, and he preferred to base it on the Spanish model, consecrated by the Counter-Reformation Church. So, with the death of Colbert, offices were multiplied as never before, regular clergy were increased, and as the burden and the repression became apparent, the old remedy was applied. In the Huguenots were expelled. A new Dispersion, comparable with the dispersion of the Flemings and the north Italians, fertilized the economy of Protestant Europe. And just as the Habsburgs, in the Thirty Years War, had to seek their state capitalists among the private capitalists whom they had previously expelled from their dominions as heretics, so the Bourbons, in the eighteenth century, had to finance their wars by applying to the Swiss financiers who, in fact, were not Swiss at all but French Huguenots whom earlier Bourbon kings had expelled from France.

Such was the effect on society of the fatal union of Counter-Reformation Church and princely State. What of its effect on the Church? In the Middle Ages the Church, which had been the organ of a feudal, rural society, adapted itself to the growth of commercial and industrial capitalism. This had entailed some difficult adjustments, for neither the merchant employers nor the industrial workers—that is, primarily, the weavers and the miners—had been content with the doctrines elaborated for a society of landlords and peasants.

But the Church met them half-way and all was well. But others it met half-way. The Beghards in Bruges, the Umiliati in Milan, the Brethren of the Common Life in the north continued within the fold of an expanded orthodoxy. But after the Reformation this changed. So it drove both out of the fold. In the s the popes of the Counter-Reformation drove the Italian Erasmists over the Alps and closed down the Order of the Umiliati much changed from their former poverty in Rome. Its old elasticity had gone, intellectually and spiritually as well as politically.

The Place of Naples in the 17th-Century Spanish Empire

While the Protestant Churches or some of them contained within them a wide range of ideas and attitudes—liberal Calvinism for their merchants and entrepreneurs, Anabaptism and Mennonism for their industrial workers—the Catholic Church no longer had anything similar. Without heresy, without variety, it was the Church of one form of State and one form of society only. It was not without reason that the theorists of the Counter-Reformation States, like Botero, harped on the essential unity of Church and State. The Catholic Church was the Church of their State.

Equally it was not for nothing that Paolo Sarpi, the theorist of the one genuine mercantile republic which sought to remain within the Catholic Church, constantly and trenchantly insisted on the separation of Church and State. The Catholic Church was no longer the Church of his State: if it was to survive in Venice without destroying Venetian society, it must be kept rigorously distinct.

Nor was it for nothing that the most famous work of Paolo Sarpi, the greatest of Catholic historians, a Servite friar of unimpeachable doctrinal orthodoxy, Edition: current; Page: [ 40 ] remained unpublished in any Catholic country until the eighteenth century. Of course, this was not the end of the story.

By the eighteenth century the economic and intellectual failure of the Counter-Reformation States was obvious, and the statesmen and thinkers of those States began to draw the consequences. Society, they agreed, must be loosened. The Church must both itself share in this lightening and cease to consecrate the present heaviness. So the Spanish reformers of the eighteenth century preached a Catholic reform indistinguishable from the old Erasmianism which Edition: current; Page: [ 41 ] had been so ferociously extinguished in the Spain of Charles V and Philip II.

In France and Italy the new Jansenists preached a very similar message. Their recommendations were not entirely without effect. Statistics are hard to come by, but it seems that in both France and Spain the weight of the Church, measured in the number of regular clergy, having increased throughout the seventeenth century, diminished again in the eighteenth. But it did not diminish fast enough. So the reformers called for political action. The call was heard. First, reforming princes intervened. Throughout Catholic Europe the Jesuits were expelled.

Febronianism was the new Erasmianism of State. Then came the revolution and after it, the reaction: a reaction in which the hope of reform seemed, for a time, to be finally lost. However, it was not lost. A generation later the attack was renewed. When it was renewed, its character had changed. South of the Alps, it was openly anti-clerical. But in France, the home of Calvin, which had once had a strong Protestant party, the battle was fought, once again, in familiar form.

If we examine closely the great Protestant entrepreneurs of nineteenth-century France we find that, once again, they are nearly all immigrants. They are either Calvinists from Switzerland—the descendants of those earlier refugees, Italians of the s or Frenchmen of —or Lutherans from Alsace: Alsace which, as an imperial fief, had been outside the reach of the Edict of Nantes, and so also of its Revocation.

In either case the pattern is the same. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the underdeveloped countries which had revolted from Rome offered opportunities to the entrepreneurs of the old industrial centres, Flanders, Italy and south Germany; in the nineteenth century the underdeveloped Catholic countries offered opportunities to the heirs of those entrepreneurs to return. In the first period the hardening of the Counter-Reformation State had driven those men out; in the nineteenth the loosening of that State made it easy for them to return.

For in the nineteenth century the Counter-Reformation State at Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] last dissolved. The ideas of the Enlightenment, the necessity of progress, the painful contrast with Protestant societies all contributed to the process. But in the long run perhaps another force was equally powerful. In the seventeenth century the Roman Catholic Church had suffered a general spiritual and intellectual contraction. After the effort of the Counter-Reformation, there had followed a long period of narrow bigotry. The humanism of the early Jesuits had been a flash in the pan: by they had settled down to be the mere sophists of the Counter-Reformation State.

Even in the eighteenth century the union of Church and State was not denied: the Febronian princes sought to reform both, not to disunite them. But in the nineteenth century an effort was at last made to detach the Catholic Church from the Catholic princely State. Naturally enough, the attempt was made in France, the Catholic monarchy which was the last to admit and the first to disavow the fatal union.

Naturally enough, it was most strongly resisted in Rome, the Church-State par excellence, driven into new postures of rigidity by the last struggle for the Temporal Power. But in the end it prevailed. The middle of the seventeenth century was a period of revolutions in Europe. These revolutions differed from place to place, and if studied separately, seem to rise out of particular, local causes; but if we look at them together they have so many common features that they appear almost as a general revolution. There is the Puritan Revolution in England which fills the twenty years between and , but whose crisis was between and Contemporary with the troubles of England were those of the Spanish empire.

In there was the revolt of Catalonia, which failed, and the revolt of Portugal, which succeeded; in there was nearly a revolt of Andalusia too; in there was the revolt of Naples, the revolt of Masaniello.