This Day in History

September 25, 1555:
Cuius Regio, Eius Religio
  
Light to the Nations, Part I: Development of Christian Civilization (Textbook) 
The following account of the Peace of Augsburg comes from our book, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian CivilizationFor ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
  
Charles V’s last years were spent trying to break the power of the Schmalkaldic League of Protestant German princes while protecting the eastern borders of the empire against the Turks. In 1544, he was forced to grant religious rights to the Protestant princes in return for their aid against Suleiman. In 1546, however, the emperor opened a war against the Schmalkaldic League. Over the next year, he conquered southern Germany and then moved into Saxony. In 1547 he imprisoned Philip of Hesse, one of the most powerful Lutheran princes.

Suleiman, “the Magnificent”
Charles had humbled the Protestant princes, but they were still powerful. In 1551 the new king of France, Henry II, made a new alliance with the German Protestant princes. The following year, King Henry invaded territories in the western part of the empire. Though Charles signed a treaty with the Protestant princes, for the next three years, three of them waged a war of plunder in Germany. Finally, in 1554, a tired Charles left the reins of the empire to his brother Ferdinand, the archduke of Austria.

Title page of the
 Religious Peace of Augsburg
To bring peace to divided Germany, Ferdinand called a meeting of the Imperial Diet at Augsburg. On September 25, 1555, the diet proclaimed the “Religious Peace of Augsburg.” The peace laid down the principle cuius regio, eius religio (“whose region, his religion”), meaning that every prince was to decide what religion — Catholic or Lutheran — his lands would follow. Those who were not willing to accept their sovereign’s religion could sell their property and leave the state. Those who remained had to follow the religion chosen by their lord. Charles never officially ratified the peace, nor did the pope, but it was followed throughout Germany. The Peace of Augsburg made the religious division of Germany permanent. All hope of reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics was ended.

In 1556 Charles, exhausted from overwork and disappointed by his failure to preserve the unity of Christendom or the peace of his empire, abdicated, giving the imperial title to his brother Ferdinand and the crown of Spain to his son, Philip II. Charles retired to the monastery of Yuste (St. Just) in Spain. Surrounded by works of art and music, for which he had a great love, and living a life of study, Charles died peacefully in 1558 at the age of 58.

Music that Charles V May Have Heard

In 1555, the Franco-Flemish composer, Orlando de Lassus, published his first book of madrigals. Here are performances of two of his madrigals, Matona, mia cara (Matona, my beloved) and Ich Liebe Dich (“I Love You”) . 







This Day in History


September 20, 1792:
The Battle that Saved the Revolution


Light to the Nations, Part II: The Making of the Modern World (Textbook)The following account of the Battle of Valmy comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
  
In the months following the overthrow of the king, France fell into anarchy. Deep divisions (the Girondins against the extremists, the departments against Paris, and royalists against the revolution) destroyed all order. The French army seemed to be disintegrating; and everything was thrown into confusion by the news that on August 19, 1792, Lafayette had deserted the army he commanded and fled to the Austrians. The same day, the allied armies for the first time crossed the French frontier. After capturing the town of Langwy, the Duke of Brunswick laid siege to Verdun, the last major stronghold before Paris. The enemy stood about 150 miles from the capital.


In Paris, Danton, as the leader of the Executive Council, was trying to unite the factions and bring order to government. He could do little. Anger and hate and fear were at a fever pitch. Without Danton’s knowledge, a plot was set afoot. Shortly after the king’s imprisonment, the Executive Council had ordered the imprisonment of all those who were suspected of sympathy with Louis XIV and the invaders. Well over a thousand men and women, including nobles and priests, had been incarcerated. Now a band of extremists, led by Marat, plotted to do “justice” on these so-called traitors and counterrevolutionaries.

On September 2, 1792, an armed mob attacked and killed 24 nonjuror priests who were being led to the national prison of the revolutionary government. Thus began the September Massacres. Over the next several days, a group of 150 conspirators visited the prisons of the city and murdered political prisoners, both men and women. In many cases, the conspirators set up revolutionary tribunals to try the prisoners, all of whom were found guilty of treason and executed. Though the people of Paris beheld all this with loathing, they did nothing — nor could the civil authorities do anything — to stop the massacres. Over the course of several days, 1,200 prisoners — 220 of them priests — were brutally murdered.

The September Massacres
While this butchery was going on, news reached Paris that, on September 2, Verdun had fallen to the enemy. The allies were preparing to march on Paris. Charles François Dumouriez, a Girondin whom Danton had made commander of the army after Lafayette’s defection, was ordered by the government to block the allied advance against Paris.

An able commander, Dumouriez placed his motley band of French volunteers at three passes that pierce the forested hills of the Argonne, between Verdun and the capital. Dumouriez’s troops, however, could not stand up for long against the well-disciplined Austrian and Prussian troops. The enemy, pushing through two of the passes, forced the French to retreat south to the main road leading to Paris. But Dumouriez was determined not to flee before the enemy. On September 19, joined by General François Christophe Kellerman and his troops, Dumouriez formed his forces on a small rise, standing before the village of Valmy.

The allies, who had pursued the French through the passes of the Argonne, had formed up in a position between Paris and Dumouriez’s forces. The morning of September 20, 1792, broke misty; but despite the poor visibility, French and Prussian artillery began firing on one another. Soon, Austrian artillery joined the duel. Around noon, or shortly thereafter, the Prussian infantry massed for an assault on the French position.

File:Battle of Valmy map.jpg



In the face of French fire, the well-disciplined Prussians pushed forward against their enemy’s position; closer and closer loomed the hill where the French had clustered. But then, inexplicably, the Prussian advance halted; and then, with good discipline, the Germans withdrew. The assault had been called off. It is uncertain why. It may be that the ground the Prussians had to move over was judged to be too soaked and muddy or that the French fire was too deadly. Whatever the cause, the battle at Valmy ended with the calling off of the assault. The French still held their position on the hill. The Prussians and Austrians encamped below them on the plain.

For the next week, the allies and the French faced off, but there was no fighting. Seeing an opportunity, Danton sent agents from Paris to negotiate with the allied commanders. The Prussians and Austrians both were suffering from dysentery. Winter was coming on, and the allied supply line was long and not well protected. With the allies in such difficulties, Danton’s agents were able to strike a bargain. On September 30, the Prussian and Austrian commanders agreed to a retreat. A little over three weeks later, the allied armies had crossed the border again into Germany.

Battle of Valmy
The battle at Valmy, along with Danton’s negotiations, saved the French Revolution. On the very day of the battle, the Legislative Assembly had met for the very last time. Two days later, on September 22, the new government, the National Convention, proclaimed the founding of the Republic.

Valmy and the Republic! The battle had not only saved the revolution, but had inspired the French people with new confidence. They had stood up against the Prussians, the greatest army in Europe! What more could they not do? The Republic gave many Frenchmen a cause to fight for; they dreamed of taking the revolution to all of Europe. They would lead a crusade for “liberty, equality, and fraternity” — the secular salvation of mankind.

The German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had sat in the bivouacs of the allied armies at Valmy, had broken bread with the soldiers, and joined in their drink and fellowship. He had witnessed the Prussian defeat at Valmy and had come to understand its significance. Writing years later, after French armies had raised republics on the ruins of Europe’s ancient regime, he recorded the words he said he had uttered as a kind of prophecy directly after the battle of Valmy. What Goethe claimed he had spoken to the cold, sick, and now defeated servants of a dying order express well the meaning of that battle. “On this day,” said the poet, “begins a new era in the history of the world.”



This Day in History

September 7, 1303
:  
“At Least I Shall Die as Pope.” 
Light to the Nations, Part I: Development of Christian Civilization (Textbook)

The following is taken from our volume, 
Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. To see sample chapters of the book, please click here. For ordering information, click here.

 
Philip the Fair
King Philip IV “the Fair” of France (reigned 1285-1314) did not appear to be an enemy of religion. He attended Mass daily and wore a hair shirt as a penitential act. He was charitable and kindly toward the poor and counted himself a loyal son of the Church. Nor was Pope Boniface VIII (reigned 1294-1303) anti-French; on the contrary, his policies as pope often favored France. Boniface and Philip should have been on friendly terms with each other. Instead, they came into serious conflict. The pope and the king had very different views of the nature of Church and the state and how they relate to one another.

The quarrel between Philip the Fair and Pope Boniface arose because the king needed money for a war with England and decided to tax the French clergy to get it. The French bishops did not protest against the tax, but the lower clergy appealed to the pope for help. In 1296, Boniface replied by issuing an official statement or bull, called Clericis Laicos, in which he excommunicated any king or prince who taxed the clergy without the pope’s permission. Philip retaliated by forbidding any gold or silver to leave France, thus cutting off a large part of the wealth the pope received from France. The English King Edward I took similar measures in his domains. Confronted with so much resistance, Pope Boniface was forced to allow that kings, in times of necessity, may tax the clergy of the realm without approval from Rome.

King Edward I (kneeling) pays homage as
 Duke of Aquitaine to his feudal lord,
 King Philip the Fair
What brought about the final break between Boniface and Philip was the king’s arrest of the bishop of Palmiers on a rather flimsy charge of treason. Boniface had sent the bishop to Philip to protest against the king’s continued oppression of the clergy and to remind him of his promise to lead a crusade to retake Jerusalem.

After Philip had arrested the bishop, Boniface summoned the bishops of France to a council in Rome. He sent a letter to King Philip urging him to do justice to his subjects. But Philip’s counselors arranged a clever lie. They burned the pope’s letter and circulated a false letter in which Boniface was made to say that the king was subject to the pope in all spiritual and temporal matters. This forgery provoked the French people to outrage against the pope. But Boniface did not back down. In 1302, he issued another bull, Unam Sanctam. In that bull he reasserted his authority, as the spiritual leader of Christendom, to correct what was morally wrong — even in the conduct of kings. The bull ends with these words: “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is necessary for salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

Pope Boniface VIII
The following year, Philip answered the pope’s challenge by calling a council of the French Church. The council, meeting in June 1303, declared Pope Boniface guilty of heresy, blasphemy, simony, gross and unnatural immorality, magic, and murder. Five French archbishops and 21 bishops sided with King Philip, who also sent his agents throughout the kingdom to force monasteries, cathedral chapters, and cities to sign a document condemning the pope. Finally, Philip sent his right-hand man, Guillaume de Nogaret, to Italy to kidnap the pope and bring him back to France as a prisoner.

On the night of September 7, 1303, a force of 600 cavalry and 1,500 infantry, under Nogaret’s command, attacked the sleepy little Italian town of Anagni (Boniface VIII’s ancestral home, where he was then residing). The town gates had been opened through treachery; the soldiers entered and pillaged the town. When Boniface saw it was useless to resist the French, he declared, “Since I am betrayed like the Savior, and my end is nigh, at least I shall die as pope.”

Nogaret takes Boniface captive
His assailants found Boniface in his palace, clad in his papal robes, seated on his throne. Seeing Nogaret before him, the pope said,”Here is my head, here is my neck; I will patiently bear that I, a Catholic and lawful pontiff and Vicar of Christ, be condemned and deposed . . . I desire to die for Christ’s faith and His Church.” Boniface’s kidnappers handled him roughly, but they were unable to abduct him to France. They were stopped by the citizens of Anagni, who rose up against Nogaret and his French soldiers and forced them to flee the city. Boniface himself returned to Rome. Three weeks later, overcome by the shock of the attack made against him, he died.

Tomb of Pope Boniface VIII in the Vatican
Boniface’s fall was much more than a personal misfortune. It symbolized the downfall of the medieval reform movement and of the pope’s influence in Europe. Bishops of Rome had suffered insults and even martyrdom before, but never — not, at least, in the High Middle Ages — had a king so insulted a pope in the name of “Christian” principles. Because Christendom had cared little about, or even approved of, the events at Anagni, a new attitude seemed to be arising in Europe. Kings, not churchmen, were becoming the leaders of Christendom. For Western people, it meant the things of this world were growing more important than the things of the Faith.

Music from Dante (and Boniface’s) Time
This album presents music from the time of of Boniface VIII.





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This Day in History

September 3, 1914:
Crowning of the Peace Pope 

This week, we continue our commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of World War I. The following comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
  
The 57 cardinals who gathered in Rome on August 31, 1914, to elect the next pope had a daunting task. As one cardinal said, the man they chose had to be intelligent, diplomatic, and holy — but above all, he had to have a charity expansive enough to embrace the Church and the world. Only such a man could effectively speak to a world torn by war and deep political rivalries. 

Archbishop Dell Chiesa on 
a parish visitation.
Some might have thought the man elected pope three days later lacked at least some of the desired qualities. The 59-year-old Cardinal Giacomo Giambattista Della Chiesa had spent most of his priestly life in the Holy See’s diplomatic service, until, in 1907, Pope Pius X had appointed him archbishop of Bologna. The aristocratic, shy Della Chiesa was not outwardly warm and friendly, as Pius X had been. As archbishop, he had seemed downright cold to some of his priests, and he had sternly demanded strict obedience of them. Yet, Archbishop Della Chiesa personally visited all the parishes in his diocese, even those in hard-to-reach mountain areas. Both in Rome and Bologna, he spent freely of his own private wealth to help poor and needy families.

The new pope chose Benedict XV as his name — the first time in 156 years that any pope had not chosen the names Leo,Gregory, or Pius. Though he gave his cardinals no reason for his choice, the pope later said he had taken the name because he wanted to win “the new world for Christ through the intercession of St. Benedict.”

Benedictus XV.jpg
Additional Resources:

Read Pope Benedict XV’s appeal for peace in his encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum

Listen to this Vatican Radio interview 
with historian, Professor John F. Pollard, who wrote The Unknown Pope, Benedict XV and the Pursuit of Peace