In certain respects, the medieval Catholic Church's reaction to Protestant entry was analogous to the reaction of business firms to regulated competition or to the tendency of special interests to seek protective trade legislation. In such cases, incumbent firms seek to protect their market power by raising rivals' costs. In the sixteenth century the rivals were, on the one hand, the new Protestant sects (Lutherans, Anglicans, Calvinists, etc.), and on the other, the new heretics from the scientific and artistic communities. The medieval Catholic Church viewed many Renaissance scientists and artists as dangerous threats to its authority and to the integrity of preserved scripture and established doctrine. Two prominent, historical episodes that demonstrate the incumbent-firm strategy of the Catholic Church were its conduct in the Thirty Years' War and the institution of the "Holy Office.''
The Thirty Years' War On becoming king, Ferdinand of Bohemia swore to uphold the right of Bohemian Protestants to practice their religion, but he reneged on his promise. The Bohemians reacted violently, accosting three Catholic officials and throwing them from a window into a dung heap. This episode, the so-called Defenestration of Prague, signaled the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, which eventually drew almost every European state into its orbit. The conflict became increasingly bloody as political and economic motives joined the religious motive of keeping Germany and other countries within the Protestant fold. Ferdinand sought to quell the rebellion by vigorously forcing Catholicism on the rebels. Historians Jerome Blum, Rondo Cameron, and Thomas G. Barnes report, "those who tried to keep their Protestant faith had to pay special heavy taxes and have soldiers quartered in their homes.''10 Ferdinand also confiscated lands of the Protestant nobility, retaking half of Bohemia. Alarmed by the gathering power of the Hapsburg dynasty, Sweden and (Catholic) Bourbon France entered the fray on the side of Protestantism. In the case of France, this showed how easily religion could be subjugated to politics. The last phase of the conflict (16351648) became a dynastic struggle between the Bourbons of France on the one hand and the Hapsburgs of Austria and Spain on the other. Eventually the 1648 Peace of Westphalia established the sovereignty of the German princes, signaling victory for German Protestantism and defeat for the Catholic Reformation (by quashing the imperial ambitions of the Hapsburgs in Germany).
The Holy Office During the Council of Trent, the Vatican created a Holy Office (in 1559) to spearhead its repression and censorship of the new heretics. The chief form of repression was the Inquisition, and the main form of censorship was the Index of Forbidden Books. The use of inquisition by the Catholic Church was not new (having been invoked as early as the thirteenth century), but the practice took on new vigor after 1559 in response to the Protestant threat. Early inquisitions were directed at common heresies (e.g., Catharism, Waldensianism) and at Judaism and Islam. Later, Protestantism felt the heavy hand of the Inquisitors, whose broad powers included apprehension, detainment, minor punishments, torture, and even death.
As noted previously, the invention of movable type and the production of books in the middle of the fifteenth century posed a new threat to the Catholic Church's monopoly on matters of faith and morals. Most versions of early Protestantism extolled personal interpretations of Holy Scripture. The invention of printing reduced the price of books, including the Bible, and made them much more accessible to many more people. The Catholic Church reacted by imposing many kinds of censorship of literature, science, and art. Although the interrelationships between religion, science, and art are complex, the growth of science and the spirit of rationalism that accompanied it in the sixteenth century were often viewed as a challenge to the authority of the medieval church, which confronted this challenge by employing tools of censorship and repression. The Catholic Church eyed suspiciously the reintroduction of classical philosophy and the reawakening of classical aesthetics as pagan reincarnations as early as the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The invention of the printing press presented new opportunities for science and art as well as for the Church (to advertise, for example). In astronomy, the clashes in 1543 between orthodox ideas and the new theories of Copernicus, and, later, Galileo, were seen by the Catholic Church as direct challenges to its interpretation of Holy Scripture. Moreover, some of the most important art of the period, such as the work of Botticelli and (later) Caravaggio, reflected the melding of the rationalist spirit with traditional Christianity (or possibly a pagan interpretation of it). Art historians remain divided over the meaning of the imagery of Sandro Botticelli's Primavera (circa 1475-1478), for example. Ostensibly a secular work about springtime, its complex imagery has strongly suggested a pagan interpretation to some.
During the late fifteenth century, as the horrors of the Black Death receded into the past, Catholicism tempered its spirit of hellfire and damnation. Historian Robert Bireley acknowledges debate over the proposi tion that fear infiltrated late medieval Christianity wherein, as some authors contend, "fear of death, judgment, the end of the world, and Satan, permeated late medieval religion, provoking anxiety about salvation and an agitated spirit.''11 It is more likely that this feature of human life created a cyclical level of demand elasticity among the faithful. In short, the vagaries of human life were an exogenous feature of the demand for assurances of eternal salvation. During less perilous times, such as when the Black Death and other plagues waned during the later medieval period, demand became more elastic as death became less immediate, which allowed Christianity to be portrayed as a doctrine of God's mercy and love. Later, when Protestantism mounted a serious challenge to the Roman Catholic monopoly, repression and damnation returned to vogue. The emphasis on hell and damnation was, observationally, an attempt to make the demand for salvation more inelastic for Catholics. This changing spirit is also reflected in the art of the time, for example, Michelangelo's Last Judgment (1536-1541), which was undertaken as the initial wave of Reformation was overtaking many parts of Europe.
There is multicorrelation between the invention of printing, the emergence of Protestantism, and the ongoing development of science over this period. The best science of the day was often repressed by the Inquisition and the Index of Forbidden Books. The Roman Inquisition, in particular, targeted literature and science. In 1584 the Vatican placed the works of Giordano Bruno in the Index, specifically his book On the Infinite Universe and World—a work alleging intelligent life beyond the earth and advocating the unification of all religions. Bruno was betrayed to the Holy Office in 1591; nine years later Pope Clement XIII had him burned at the stake in Rome. The writings of Sir Thomas More were also added to the Index for a time (ironically, he was later canonized a saint by the same Church). The infamous episode of Galileo and the Church illustrates another case of scientific repression. Historian Edward Burman maintains that Galileo was punished less for his scientific statements than for his "offenses against the inquisition" and his challenge to orthodox Jesuit astronomers.12 Lest we forget, the Roman Inquisition was equally harsh in its treatment of artists. The Venetian painter Paolo Veronese was hauled before the Roman Inquisition to defend his painting,
Feast in the House of Levi, in which he had placed dogs, dwarfs, a fool, a parrot, men with German weapons, and a man with a bleeding nose. Since such details were not mentioned in the biblical story of Levi the church regarded these extraneous elements as heretical. To placate the inquisitors Veronese reworked his canvas at his own expense, eliminating the offending elements. According to Sir Anthony Blunt, a noted authority on medieval and Renaissance art, "it is typical of the methods of the Counter-Reformation that the Inquisition in this case was satisfied with certain changes of detail which left the painting exactly as worldly in feeling as it was before.''13 Despite the infamy and persistent embarrassment to the Church of such episodes, the Roman Inquisition persisted until 1965, when the Holy Office was formally abolished in favor of the Congregation for the Doctrines of the Faith.
Outside Rome the Inquisition was focused on Protestantism at the borders of its influence. For example, near Trieste at the end of the sixteenth century, the Inquisition aimed at suppressing Lutheranism. Some of the most virulent inquisitions against Protestants were in Spain. Ships' crews, especially from England, were at extreme risk. According to Bur-man, "Henry Gottersum, the cook of the Elizabeth that anchored at Puerto de Santa Maria in 1574, was burned alive for admitting that he was a convinced Protestant.''14 Inquisitors seized cargoes, confiscated books, and arrested sailors, who were sentenced to the Spanish galleys for "religious crimes.'' The physical torture meted out by the Spanish Inquisition has been well documented. But the Inquisition employed mental torture as well, and was global in its reach. Speaking of French practice, Michel Foucault notes that the torture imposed by the Inquisition was "a regulated practice, obeying a well-defined procedure____The first degree of torture was the sight of the instruments.''15 The ensuing degrees of torture employed an array of methods designed to break alleged heretics: the ordeal of water, the ordeal of fire, the strappado (victim lifted off ground with wrists tied behind back, then dropped), the wheel, the rack, and the stivaletto (pressurized boot torture). Torture, or even the prospect of torture, under a legal system that bestowed vast power on the Catholic Church, was a particularly vivid means of raising the cost of membership in a rival sect.
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