Thus the Western Church once more exhibited the spectacle of a “house divided against itself,” as during the scandalous strife between the synods of Basel and Florence.
Today we continue Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges
- A History of the Church of France from the Concordat of Bologna to the Revolution by W. Henley Jervis published in 1872.
- Histoire Universelle de l’Église Catholique by René F. Rohrbacher published in 1853.
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Continuing with W. Henley Jervis.
Previously in Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.
The parliamentary courts, meanwhile, assumed a determined attitude in defense of the right of election guaranteed by the Pragmatic Sanction. They pronounced the abolition of that act illegal, and treated it as null and void; they insisted on their own authority in entertaining appeals against ecclesiastical abuses; they eagerly supported anyone who showed a disposition to withstand the pretensions of Rome in the matter of patronage. The King, smarting under the trickery of the Pope, made no attempt to restrain them in this line of conduct; and the result was that the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction was never fully executed, having never been legalized by the forms of the constitution. On the other hand, the popes so far maintained the advantage they had extorted from Louis that the ancient franchise of the Church as to elections became virtually extinct in France.
Things remained in this unsettled state during the reigns of Louis XI, Charles VIII, and Louis XII. The latter Prince, on coming to the throne, published an edict reestablishing the Pragmatic Sanction; and this step, added to his ambitious enterprises in Italy, brought him into hostile collision with Pope Julius II. The King, unwilling to make war on the head of the Church without some semblance of ecclesiastical sanction, convoked a council at Tours in September, 1510, and consulted the clergy on a series of questions arising out of the disturbed state of his relations with Rome. They decided, in accordance with the known views and wishes of the sovereign, that it is lawful for an independent prince, if unjustly attacked, to defend himself against the pope by force of arms; to withdraw for a time from his obedience; to take possession of the territory of the Church, not with the purpose of retaining it, but as a temporary measure of self-protection; and to resist the pretensions of the pontiff to powers not rightfully belonging to him. Citations to appear in Rome might, under such circumstances, be safely disregarded; as also papal censures, which would be null and void. If the emergency should arise, the council added, the king ought to be governed by the ancient principles of ecclesiastical law, as confirmed and reenacted by the Pragmatic Sanction.
The Gallican clergy sent a deputation to Pope Julius on this occasion to entreat him to adopt a more conciliatory policy toward the princes of Christendom; and they determined, in case their advice should be fruitless, to demand the convocation of a general council to take cognizance of the Pope’s conduct, and prescribe the measures necessary for the guidance and welfare of the Church. An ecclesiastical congress, calling itself a council-general, but altogether unworthy of that august title, was held, in fact, in the following year at Pisa, under the auspices of the King of France and the emperor Maximilian. The Pope refused to appear there, and convoked a rival synod at Rome, summoning the cardinals who had authorized the meeting at Pisa to present themselves at his court within sixty days. On the expiration of this term he publicly excommunicated them, degraded them from their dignity, and deprived them of their preferments.
Thus the Western Church once more exhibited the spectacle of a “house divided against itself,” as during the scandalous strife between the synods of Basel and Florence; and for some time a formal schism appeared imminent. The so-called Council of Pisa consisted of the four rebellious cardinals, twenty Gallican prelates, several abbots and other dignitaries, the envoys of the King of France, deputies from some of the French universities, and a considerable number of doctors of the Faculty of Paris. This assembly justified its position on the ground that there are extraordinary cases in which a council may be called without the intervention of the pope; and that, since the present Pontiff had neglected to obey the decree of the Council of Constance which enjoined a similar celebration at the interval of every ten years, the cardinals were bound to take the initiative in the matter, according to a solemn engagement which they had made in the conclave when Julius was elected. After repeating the stereotyped formula concerning the supreme authority of general councils, and the imperative necessity of a reformation of the Church in its head and in its members, the fathers addressed themselves professedly to the herculean task thus indicated; but little or nothing was effected of any practical importance.
Now René F. Rohrbacher’s piece.
Charles held an assembly at Bourges in the month of July, 1438. He attended this himself, with the Dauphin, his son, afterward Louis XI, many princes of the blood, and other nobles, with a great number of bishops and doctors of the Church. The deputies of Pope Eugenius IV and those of the prelates of Basel were heard one after another.
The result of this Assembly of Bourges was an ordinance and twenty-three articles which were called the “Pragmatic Sanction,” a name introduced under the ancient emperors. In this were adopted, sometimes with modifications, most of the decrees of Basel. Among them the first was conceived in these terms: “General councils shall be held every ten years, and the pope, according to the opinion of the council which is closing, shall designate the place of the next council, which cannot be changed except for most important reasons and by the advice of the cardinals. As to the authority of the general council, the decrees published at Constance are renewed, by which it is said that the general council holds its power immediately from Jesus Christ; that all persons, even of papal dignity, are subject to it in that which regards the faith, the extirpation of schism, and the reformation of the Church in the head and in the members; and that all must obey it, even the pope, who is punishable if he transgresses it. Consequently, the Council of Basel states that it is legitimately assembled in the Holy Ghost, and that no one, not even the pope, can dissolve, transfer, nor prolong it, without the consent of the fathers of the council.”
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