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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Many Romanist Princes had no wish to persecute


The

higher education was not neglected. Jesuit colleges founded at Vienna and Ingolstadt peopled the decaying universities with students, and gave them new life. Student associations, on the model of that founded by Canisius at Koeln, were formed, and were affiliated to the Company of Jesus. Pilgrimages of students wended their way to famous shrines; talented young men submitted their souls to the direction of the Jesuit fathers, and shared in the hypnotic trance given by the course of the _Spiritual Exercises_. A generation of ardent souls was trained for the active service of the Roman Church, and vowed to combat Protestantism to the death.

The Company had another, not less important, field of work. The Peace of Augsburg had left the management of the religion of town or principality in the hands of the ruling secular authority. The maxim, _Cujus regio ejus religio_, placed the religious convictions of the population of many districts at the mercy of one man. Many Romanist Princes had no wish to persecute, still less to see their principalities depopulated by banishment. Some of them had given guarantees for freedom of conscience and limited rights of worship to their Protestant subjects. The Jesuits set themselves to change this condition of things. They could be charming confessors and still more delightful directors for the obedient sons and daughters of the Papacy. They were invited to take charge of the souls of many of the Princes and especially

of the Princesses of Germany. They set themselves to charm, to command, and, lastly, to threaten their penitents. Toleration of Protestants they represented to be the unpardonable sin. They succeeded in many cases in inducing Romanist rulers to withdraw the protection they had hitherto accorded to their Protestant subjects, who, if they stood firm in their faith, had to leave their homes and seek refuge within a Protestant district.

Thus openly and stealthily the wave of Romanist reaction rolled northwards over Germany, and district after district was won back for the Papacy. This first period of the Counter-Reformation may be said to end with the sixteenth century; the second, which included the Thirty Years' War, lies beyond our limit.

The savage struggle in France, culminating in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, did not belong to the New Roman Catholicism, and lay outside of what may be called the Counter-Reformation proper. The force of this new aggressive movement was first felt in the formation of the Holy League, which had for its object to prevent Henry of Navarre from ascending the throne of France. The League was the symbol in France of this Counter-Reformation. The Jesuits never attained a preponderating influence in that country until the days of Marie de Medici; but they were the restless and ruthless organisers of the Holy League. The Jesuit fathers, Auger, Henri Saumier, and, above all, Claude Matthieu, called the _Courrier de la Ligue_, worked energetically on its behalf. The Company issued tracts from their printing-presses asserting the inalienable rights of the people to govern and therefore to choose their rulers. They taught that while God had given spiritual power into the hands of one man, the Pope, He had bestowed the secular power on the many. Kings, they asserted, do not reign by any divine right of hereditary succession, but by the will of the people and of the Pope. Hence all Romanist France was justified in setting aside the King of Navarre and putting in his place the Cardinal of Bourbon, his uncle.


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