by Straight-Bat for The Saker Blog
Eurocentrism may be a dirty word for non-European scholars of late 20th century and early 21st century, but even the most rabidly anti-European intellectual in Africa or Asia would be compelled to accept the reality of the greatest tragedy of the non-European world: that it had been cast in the mould constructed by the European civilization between 1096 CE and 1991 CE. And, it is also true that, the western half of the continent was the motive force for almost the entire tragedy. Edward Gibbon, the enlightenment-era English historian declared, “I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion” for describing his famous book ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’. Gibbon found moral decadence of the Romans accentuated by ‘religion’ as the root cause of the debacle of the great Roman civilization; on the contrary, what can we conclude as the background factors for the confederation of the west Europeans being able to build a world-wide empire as mentioned above? Unparalleled greed? Unimaginable violence? It may appear counter-intuitive if I suggest that, apart from such factors, ‘religion’ was a central factor.
Was there anything called ‘European society and culture’ in the ancient and medieval history? Was it not just an abstract (though, powerful) idea, floated through the academic and religious institutions ever since the Germanic tribes brought the Western Roman empire to an end, to be used as a socio-political unifying ‘glue’, for planned expansion of their empire across the western fringe of the gigantic Eurasian landmass? We know about society and culture of the Greeks, Romans, Celts, Slavs, Gauls, Goths, Saxons, Huns, Franks, and Vikings. Irrespective of the historic era, the political leaders always strived to bring the different communities under one umbrella – to create and sustain a pan-European empire. Between 500 CE and 1500 CE, Christianity was considered as the unifying ideology for different regions of west Europe, who otherwise always maintained their unique culture, economy, and though historians and sociologists loathe to agree, even political institutions. Apart from the role of political and economic forces in the west European states under continuous geopolitical upheavals between 300 CE and 1800 CE, the region was subjected to a colossal ideological force – Christianity.
West Europe was the centre of intense geopolitical movements, mind-boggling intellectual debates, trend-setting economic activities, and inconceivably cruel religious affairs, all of which, shaped the ENTIRETY of the modern world. For this article, all regions west of an imaginary line connecting Adriatic Sea to Baltic Sea and passing through current boundaries of countries, would be considered as west Europe – so, for this article, the (current) states of Sweden, Germany, Czechia, Austria, and Slovenia form the eastern end of the west Europe. I would like to discuss only the role of religion and philosophy in the society of west Europe during the period 1096 CE (initiation of First Crusade) to 1815 CE (Vienna Congress). Only the salient facts, and information will be presented, and based on the same, inferences will be drawn (which might include open-ended questions also).
In the beginning I must clearly provide an important clarification so that, the readers are not in any doubt about the scope of this article and hypothesis deduced at the end. This article covers the role of WESTERN CHRISTIANITY (more specifically, Catholic and Protestant) and WESTERN PHILLOSOPHY in WEST EUROPEAN SOCIETY only. This write-up has NO RELATION with Orthodox Christianity or Slavic philosophy prevalent in east Europe, Russia, the Middle-East.
Like most of the Marxists, I strongly believe in supremacy of ‘historical materialism’ as a theory for deciphering progress of human civilization, hence I don’t have any doubt about the ‘economic base’ driving the ‘superstructure’ (consisting of all other aspects of the society). At the same time, unlike many other Marxists, I would like to assign due importance to other aspects like culture, religion, education, social structure (like caste system) etc. while analyzing a society. I believe that, Marxist intellectuals across the globe should combine economy with other factors in their studies – human beings ‘identify’ themselves by class, and community (religion, language, and ethnicity).
The central theme of this article revolves around Christianity and Judaism. However, it may be noted that, ONLY historical and sociological perspectives have been deliberated upon logically. True believers of any religion shouldn’t feel hurt due to any part of this article which may inadvertently refer to a theological or eschatological aspect (which is not my cup of tea). My advance apologies for any such untoward incidence.
2. RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIETY: 1096 CE TO 1815 CE
Since 751 CE, as the Carolingian (Frankish) kingdom was expanding rapidly to become a huge empire spanning across most parts of west Europe, the centrally ruled bureaucratic kingdom maintained unified administration. In less than 100 years, due to corruption, and disobedience of the local administrators, and ineptitude of the ruling family, the empire fragmented into multiple units where local aristocrats started wielding power with nominal deference to emperor/king. Thus decentralized ‘feudal’ kingdoms appeared in medieval Europe where local lords expanded the territory subject to them, and intensified their control over the society and agrarian economy that ended with governing their region (formerly performed by centralized government) independent of other regions of the same kingdom. The terms feudum, beneficium, and casamentum were used to describe a form of property holding. Initially the holdings used to have limited period and limited rights – by 1000 CE, however the local aristocracy turned into a hereditary system.
A hierarchy of aristocrats (nobles) formed wherein a ‘king’ would allot large region(s) to ‘lord(s)’, a lord would split his region into multiple fiefs and bestow those to as many ‘vassals’. The vassal would pay homage to his lord, and military and financial support. By 1000 CE, the kingdoms/ empires of Europe were divided into thousands of fiefs (feudal territories) – most of these territories were small like city-states, some were large. The system, called feudalism, ensured that common people would be employed in feudal estate as ‘serf’ (permanently serving the feudal master as agriculture worker) or ‘peasant’ (independent or semi-independent owner of small plots of arable land) or low-ranking ‘soldier’ in the noble’s army. By the dawn of 8th century, socio-political and economic order in western and central Europe comprised of mainly three social classes: the Nobility, the Clergy, and the Serfs/Commoners. As the medieval era saying goes: “the nobles – who did the fighting; the priests – who did the praying; and the serfs – who did the work.”
2.1 Political Map of West Europe in 1096 CE
The map provided in Fig.2.1.1 shows the political entities as well as religious domain in Europe
As per Bairoch database (original reference: La population des villes Europeenes de 800 – 1850 by Paul Bairoch, Jean Bateau, and Pierre Chevre) the ten largest cities in west Europe by population (in Thousands) in late middle ages are listed below in Table 2.1. The long-term impact of Black Plague is quite visible from the demographic data.
|1200 CE||1330 CE||1500 CE|
|Palermo …. 150||Granada …. 150||Paris …….. 225|
|Paris …….. 110||Paris ……… 150||Naples …… 125|
|Seville …… 80||Venice …… 110||Milan …….. 100|
|Venice …… 70||Genoa …… 100||Venice …… 100|
|Florence …. 60||Milan …….. 100||Granada …. 70|
|Granada …. 60||Florence …. 95||Prague …… 70|
|Cordova .…. 60||Seville ……. 90||Lisbon ……. 65|
|Cologne ….. 50||Cordova .….. 60||Tours ….….. 60|
|Leon ………. 40||Naples …….. 60||Genoa …….. 58|
|Ypres ……… 40||Cologne ……. 54||Ghent ……… 55|
2.2 Christianity and Philosophy in West Europe: 1096 CE to 15th Century
In the 18th century, the French philosopher Voltaire linked most of the events of the medieval Europe with the impacts of Christianity: “The government was hateful and absurd almost in everywhere since Constantine, because the Roman Empire had more monks than soldiers (there were one hundred thousand just in Egypt); because they were exempt from labor and tax; because the heads of the barbarous nations which destroyed the empire became Christians in order to rule the Christians and exerted the most horrible tyranny, reason why the crowd moved to the cloisters, in order to avoid the fury of these tyrants and that they plunged into slavery to avoid another; because the Popes, by instituting so many different orders of sacred lazy, earned more subjects than the other social states; because any peasant would rather be called reverend father and give blessings than ride the plow”.
Voltaire didn’t state figures correctly, but his analysis wasn’t far off the mark. The clergy belonging to the Catholic church, indeed not only touched upon every single aspect of personal and community life of the medieval European societies, but to a large extent it also shaped the political discourse and economic aspects. Christianity became an ideology organizing different societies in west Europe, and it became one of the two main instrument for the evolution of social, economic, and political circumstances during the medieval era – feudalism being the other. Medieval-era Christian ideology holistically provided the basis and justification of almost everything – socio-economic order, belief systems, cultural identity and world view.
So, what were the ideological background, social considerations, and political implications of the ‘spiritual matter’ steered by the Catholic Church during the high Middle Ages (as against the ‘temporal matter’ steered by a king/emperor)? I thought it more appropriate to allow the church documents speak for itself. Please refer Annexure 1 for few select decrees which were issued by Major Councils of the Catholic Church held between 1139 CE and 1512 CE [refer link🡪 http://www.dailycatholic.org/history/councils.htm ]. Essentially, these decrees help us to understand how the Catholic Church became an integral part of European society not only in ‘spiritual’ matters, but, more importantly, in ‘temporal’ matters also – it became an empire without a boundary:
2.2.1 The model for explaining a society structured around a feudalistic tripartite order arose within the Church. Historian, Flocel Sabate in ‘Ideology in The Middle Ages’ mentioned, “It was ecclesiastical authors, beginning with Adalberon of Laon and Gerard of Florennes, who first established the idea of society as articulated in three groups, arguing that this tripartite order was God’s natural order.” (Marc Bloch, in his magnum opus La société féodale first noted this fact). A model of ‘ideal’ behaviour for each of the social groups affecting all aspects of activity and expression was promoted. The church taught that God appointed the pope and kings to rule religious and worldly matters respectively, and every person was born into his/her pre-determined position in society. A peasant and his descendants would always be peasants. In Valls, a Catalan town, in 1357 CE, the church explained that, taxes were to be paid to the (Noble) lords in lieu of services “to defend their subjects and do justice against malefactors.”
The Catholic Church with its hierarchy-based structure and huge land asset legitimized the feudal system. By receiving territorial fiefs from nobles like king/emperor and their high-ranking vassals, the church essentially became a vassal, who possessed immunities. On the other hand, the church received tithe tax from commoners like peasants. The Catholic Church wanted to expand its follower-base, hence it encouraged kings/emperors to expand into new territories. The church had an eagle eye on the followers – through a robust programme that ensured ‘confession’ of ‘true’ believers, punishment for ‘heretics’, and training for new ‘converts’. In terms of number of followers, no institution in the medieval Europe era could come near to the Catholic Church.
Referring to Annexure 1, Decree 3, 21, 70 issued by Fourth Lateran Council, Decree 24 issued by Council of Vienne, Decree about those who desire conversion to the faith issued by Council of Florence, session 10 Decree on printing books issued by Fifth Lateran Council, were serious attempts to discipline the ‘flock’ of followers of the church.
2.2.2 Christianization of European society resulted in churches and monasteries mingling with political power at the local level (land-owning noble/aristocracy) and at the state level (ruling families). It was quite common, to find noble families whose lineages occupied prominent positions in state administration as well as church ranks – needless to say that, a common thread joining both ‘institutions’ (church and feudal system) was extremely beneficial for both sides. Increasingly, the legitimacy of a ruler of a state depended on acceptance by the Catholic Church which, through its well-structured teaching (bordering on incessant propaganda) successfully positioned itself as the representative of Jesus Christ on earth. It won’t be an exaggeration to state that the Catholic Church looked upon itself as a sort of ‘moral administrator’ of the provinces, cities, towns, castles and villages within the landmass where the Catholic Church was the supreme religious authority. Hence, it expressed in a decree, “outstanding men shall be appointed” to rule the subjects justly and peacefully. If we consider that, the decline of western Roman Empire after 400 CE was facilitated by swarming waves of barbaric tribes (Goth, Visigoth, Ostrogoth, Vandal, Frank, Bargandian, Lombard, Hun etc.) led by warlords who created separate chiefdoms on the ruins of western Roman Empire, we could deduce that, administration and judiciary were neglected in those barbarian chiefdoms (one of which transformed into Carolingian empire in the 8th century). Little wonder then, that the church (the ONLY place where some intellectual discourse was still maintained) developed its own legal system (Decree law) and establish courts for cases involving marriages, wills, contracts, orphans, widows etc. Thus the church played a central role in the adoption of new legal and formal frameworks with which to adapt to new circumstances.
The vacuum created due to ineptitude of the state, was filled by the church – however, this resulted in the Investiture Controversy (conflict between the church and the state in the 11th century over the ability to choose and install bishops and abbots of monasteries and the pope). The church-state conflicts grew after 13th century. Italians and Germans were divided between two factions – Guelphs (supporters of papacy) and Ghibellines (supporters of Holy Roman Emperor) – that were often passed down through generations of noble/clergy families until the Reformation era. In Italian peninsula, ‘papal states’ became a reality where the state was ruled by pope. However, such conflicts gradually weakened the Papacy and damaged the Catholic Church’s reputation across Europe.
Decree 11, 12, 15 issued by Second Lateran Council, Decree 39 issued by Fourth Lateran Council, Decree 25 issued by Second Council of Lyons, Decree 36 issued by Council of Vienne, Decree on Form of consent issued by Council of Florence, Session 12 Decree Against those attacking the houses of cardinals issued by Fifth Lateran Council, etc. point out towards how Catholic Church was proactively working for maintenance of law and order not only within campus of Church-owned facilities but also in the outside community. Decree 20 issued by Second Lateran Council, Decree 18, 38, 42 issued by Fourth Lateran Council, Decree 22 issued by Second Council of Lyons, not only show Catholic Church’s concern for justice, but more importantly it also prove that the church was indeed overlapping with the state for both the legislative and the judiciary functions (while still acknowledging the authority of the state).
Decree on Form of consent issued by Council of Florence expressed in no uncertain term that the pope “must watch to get rid of all factions and seditious groups — especially of Guelphs and Ghibellines and other similar parties” and “ensure that the provinces, cities, towns, castles and lands subject to the Roman church are justly and peacefully ruled“. This decree was no less than a statement of duty and responsibility befitting a king/emperor – the papacy apparently considered itself as the senior partner in the church-state ‘duopoly’. By 1202 CE, the Catholic Church achieved ‘supranational dominance’ over the religion of west Europe, and also exercised ‘opportunistic control’ over polities.
2.2.3 Since the Catholic Church owes its state-aided institutional setup to the Roman Empire (under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century) primarily as an instrument of domestic politics, when the Roman Empire collapsed, the Catholic Church continued to represent the nostalgia of the pax romana. However, the hegemony exercised by the church over the socio-political realm of the Christianized Europe was a hard reality during the late antiquity and the entire medieval era. Many intellectuals believe that, the Catholic Church is ‘an important precursor and ongoing contributor to globalization’ backed by a powerful theology that claimed: “Humanity itself would only have fulfilled God’s purpose for the world once, in the words of the Psalm, ‘the Word had reached to the end of the Earth’ (Psalms, 18.5). This implied a future state, but it was one that would one day be fulfilled, and when it was the purely Christian polis – the respublica christiana – it would come to embrace literally the whole Earth.” (Refer Anthony Pagden, ‘The Christian Tradition’, in States, Nations, and Borders: The Ethics of Making Boundaries). The Catholic Church indeed had a desire to bring the world ‘under a common congregation of the faithful’ – hence, involvement in geopolitics was an integral part of the church DNA. Instead of going through a detail list of geopolitical activities steered by the church, I would like to mention only two of the most significant ones that had very profound implications on both medieval and modern world history:
(a) Crusades in the Holy Land – a series of religious wars initiated by the Catholic Church in the medieval era between 1095 and 1291 CE that were planned to recover Jerusalem and the surrounding area (old Palestinian and Syrian) from Islamic rulers. It was the church that activated kings/emperors and nobles of west Europe and encouraged them to mobilize forces in order to establish Christian state in the Holy Land (refer Annexure 2 the Papal Bull ‘Quantum praedecessores’ issued by Pope Eugenius III on December 1, 1145 CE for second crusade). The ‘Crusaders’ had a variety of motivations- feudal obligations, economic and political advantages. Popes promised ecclesiastical protection for their families and possessions, and full absolution for those who completed the crusade, or died along the way. Initial victories created four Crusader states: Edessa, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Tripoli; but after the fall of Acre in 1291 CE Crusader presence ended in Holy Land.
Out of eight such (crusade) initiatives, the 4th one in 1202 CE actually invaded the Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire, brutally destroyed its capital Constantinople, and dismembered it. Most of the Historians prefer to remain silent about the far-reaching consequences of 4th Crusade, which actually wrecked the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine empire) thereby facilitating the strengthening of Islamic empires – first, Seljuk Turks, then Timurid empire, and finally Ottoman Turks – in Levant between 1202 CE and 1453 CE, that in turn, expanded deep into the Orthodox Christian kingdoms/principalities in Balkan region, finally threatening the Catholic Christian kingdoms/principalities in central Europe in early modern era.
(b) European Colonies around the world – After 1100 CE, Italian city-states like Venice and Genoa as well as different Arabian and Turkish states in west Asia and north Africa controlled the trading with Asia (import of products like spices, silk, sugar, gold, ivory, and porcelain into Europe) – traders across Europe would come to Italian and Ottoman ports to purchase those goods. Portuguese kingdom and Spanish empire wanted to break such monopoly. Portugal took the lead to explore the coasts of west Africa, Arabia, and India after 1420s; in 1500 CE, a Portuguese expedition sailed far west in the Atlantic Ocean to reach coast of Brazil instead of targeted destination: India. Spain followed – unwittingly Spanish expedition reached Caribbean islands in 1492 CE (instead of west coast of India).
In 1493, in order to prevent disputes between two Iberian powers, the Pope proposed an imaginary ‘Line of Demarcation’ and declared that all land east of the line not belonging to a Christian sovereign would belong to Portugal, anything east of the line would go to Spanish empire (refer Annexure 2 for the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493 CE authorizing Spain and Portugal to colonize the non-Christian world). Due to objection from Portuguese kingdom, a resolution was reached in 1494 CE, and the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed between Spain and Portugal. Here, the Line of Demarcation was set further west so that Portuguese ports in Brazil remain with Portugal.
The bull assumed entire earth under papal jurisdiction, hence the pope had the authority of granting Spain and Portugal the rights to colonize, proselytize, and enslave American, and African continents. For next 460 years, ‘Inter Caetera’ became a cornerstone for justifying west European – invasions across the world, appropriation of indigenous lands, setting up of colonies, murder of three-fourth of the aboriginal people, misuse of remaining aboriginal people as ‘serf’ in plantation business, selling of Africans as ‘slave’ to supply labour in plantation business, loot of prosperous countries/kingdoms with superior arms-ammunitions – imperialism and colonialism. The papal document served as moral-booster for the European imperialists-colonialists as well as the legal paper to endorse the ‘right’ of them on the land and natural resources of other countries across the world, without any semblance of guilt.
World history witnessed such ‘religious origin’ of imperialism and colonialism only once before – between 630 CE and 860 CE, the Arabian Islamic kingdom grew into an empire through bloody military campaigns that trampled many civilizations, cultures, religions, and learning centres in north Africa, west Asia, and south Asia. However, total devastation in this so-called ‘Islamic conquests’ was comparatively less than the so-called ‘Christian conquests’.
2.2.4 The complete details of income and expenditure of the Catholic Church in the medieval period is difficult to find. The church derived a considerable income from its lands, gifts, and taxes. Tithe, the most important tax, amounted to 10% of each (earning) person’s annual income. By the 12th century, the Catholic Church owned about one-third of the arable land of western and central Europe. These land holdings were gifted by emperors/kings, feudal lords for establishment of cathedrals, monasteries, and convents. The church established an effective fiscal mechanism through which regular funds – (a) Revenues from the Papal States, (b) Census, (c) Income taxes, (d) Benefice taxes, (e) Fees and miscellaneous receipts (refer “The Financial System of the Medieval Papacy in the Light of Recent Literature” by W. E. Lunt) – would flow from decentralized local parishes (of all regions) to the centralized bureaucratic setup of the church in Rome.
In addition to spiritual succour, the church was the principal provider of welfare services in medieval Europe. In effect, the church charged its wealthy followers and redistributed a portion of the proceeds to the poor through operation of hospices, leper-houses, almshouses, and hospitals. Large-scale expenditures by the church to provide a wide range of social services created a significantly high level of goodwill and trust among common people. The Catholic Church was also instrumental in setting up ‘credit organizations’ in Italy to promote economic growth.
6th century Christian saint Benedict created the concept for monastic community life for preachers of Christianity. Between 910 CE (with the Cluniac reform of monasteries) and 1751 CE (when Encyclopédie volume one was published to spread the ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe) monasteries became major centres of study and research, art and craft, agricultural innovation and production. Schools, and libraries were run by the Catholic Church. Bologna, Paris, and Oxford became centres for advanced learning which developed into universities in modern era.
Two significant categories of expenditures were: (a) construction of different kinds of buildings and facilities, (b) logistics for conflicts and wars in which papacy was directly involved (papal state in central Italy) or indirectly involved (crusades). To meet these expenses, the popes used to take loans from large bankers.
Decree 10 issued by Second Lateran Council, Decree 46, 53, 54, 55 issued by Fourth Lateran Council, Decree 22 issued by Second Council of Lyons, Decree 11, 12 issued by Council of Vienne, Decree on Form of consent issued by Council of Florence, repeatedly point out towards concerns of maintaining revenue and property of the Catholic Church. Decree 17 issued by Council of Vienne express deep concern about corruption in the almshouses and hospitals due to which charity work got compromised. Decree on the reform of credit organisations issued by Fifth Lateran Council involved discussion of financial management to a very minute detail.
2.2.5 As per Tora-Deuteronomy, Jews can ethically engage in business of money-lending with non-Jews, “Thou shalt not lend upon interest to thy brother: interest of money, interest of victuals, interest of anything that is lent upon interest. Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest”. On the other hand, on the basis of the Biblical rulings, Christians were condemned for interest-taking while dealing with fellow Christians or non-Christians, and council decrees (Decree 13 issued by Second Lateran Council, Decree 67 issued by Fourth Lateran Council, Decree 26, 27 issued by Second Council of Lyons, Decree 29 issued by Council of Vienne, Decree on the reform of credit organisations issued by Fifth Lateran Council) were consistent reminders of the same. As a matter of fact, the council decrees were targeted against those Christians who were involved in moneylending business – restitution, excommunication, denial of Christian burial were prescribed as penalty.
It is important to note that, before the first Crusade started in 1096 CE, Sephardim and Ashkenazim Jews were merchants, bankers, and artisans across west Europe where rulers adopted Christianity as state religion, as well as across west Asia and north Africa regions controlled by Islamic rulers. Also, the Jews provided a valuable service to the kings and feudal lords whenever they needed fund (for war preparation, and infrastructure construction). Since Christians couldn’t engage in money-lending, by 12th century, the Christian states and local bodies restricted the professional opportunities for the Jews to the occupation of money-lending and tax and rent collecting. Thus, moneylending became the most significant contribution by the Jews to the medieval European society. It was to the Jewish moneylender that feudal-era peasant went when his harvest failed and/or he needed money for next year’s sowing. It was to the Jewish moneylender the feudal nobles turned to construct a castle or to arrange tournaments on martial arts. But, due to the usual tension between creditor-debtor, social animosity towards Jewish moneylenders increased considerably that resulted in further ostracization of Jews as a community. However, the kings/emperors and feudal lords maintained the Jewish community for the ostensible reason – credit supports functioning of any economy.
Modern historiography conclusively proved that, apart from the Jewish moneylenders, the north Italians excelled in the business of moneylending. Long before the ‘Black death’ Italian moneylenders established themselves across vast swathes of west Europe. Time and again the kings and feudal lords restricted the north Italians from practicing usury (because of church decrees) and expelled them from territory of England, France, Germany, the Netherlands.
2.2.6 Before the 11th century, the Jews generally lived among Christians, and pursued the same occupations as Christians. But 11th century onwards in most of the towns and cities, Jews were treated as ‘inassimilable minority’ and were forced to live under restricted conditions, ever more marginalized socially. Thereafter, persecution process in different European territories at different times culminated with either mass conversion (into catholic Christianity) OR outright expulsion – while expulsion from town/city/region took place regularly, there were five state-level expulsions: England in 1290 CE, France in 1306 CE and 1394 CE, Spain in 1492 CE, Portugal in 1497 CE. A common feature of all Jew expulsions ordered by kings/rulers was confiscation of gold, silver, and minted coins owned by the Jews, by the state. A group of academicians opine that, the main objective of expulsions was to collect large amount of capital in the shortest possible time. Another group of Historians suggest that, due to growing presence of urban professionals within the community, the rulers succumbed to the demand of ‘local’ professionals to do away with Jewish competition (and expelled the Jews).
Jews first arrived in England in 1070 CE after the Norman Conquest. In 1070 CE, William the Conqueror invited a group of Jewish merchants from Normandy to England believing that their banking and commercial skills and capital would support growth and prosperity of England. As in Italy, France, and Germany, Jews in England also rose to prominence and amassed wealth and influence. The Jews not only got into moneylending, trade etc. but also worked as physicians and tax officers. However, the church restricted them to only moneylending (which was a sin for a good Christian). As Italian and English moneylenders began to supplant the Jewish moneylenders within a century of arrival of the Jews, the kingdom of England felt the Jews can be dispensed with, and expelled them in 1290 CE.
As given in Annexure 1, Decree 68, 69, 70 issued by Fourth Lateran Council, Decree on Jews and neophytes issued by Council of Florence prove that the church was quite convinced about the Jewish society as a sort of ‘pollutant’ for the Christian society, so they need segregation. Decree 26 issued by Second Council of Lyons was very intriguing for it prescribed ‘no accommodation’ in Christian cities/town/principalities for ‘foreigner moneylenders’ – apparently the church not only targeted Jews (being the motive force behind usury), but it also targeted the north Italians who were in the same business, particularly in west Europe.
2.2.7 It would be a blunder to assume that the church had an altogether antagonistic relationship with commerce. Rather, a medieval clergy noted that, “the merchants are the life of the land on which they reside; treasure of the res publica; the food of the poor people; and the arm of any good business and fulfilment of all affairs. Without merchants, the communities fall, princes become tyrants, the young are losers, and the poor cry. This situation is reached because neither knights nor citizens living off the rent give large alms; only merchants are generous in giving alms and they become great parents and brothers of the res publica, especially when they are good men and have a good conscience.” (Dotzè del Crestià, chap. 399; Francesc Eiximenis, Lo Crestià (selecció), ed. Albert Hauf, Barcelona, 1983 CE). The Catholic Church indirectly became a facilitator of the urbanization process (which was severely impacted between 1347 to 1390 CE due to the Bubonic Plague endemic). Not only towns grew around cathedrals and universities coordinated by the church, but the church also directly influenced the urban economic growth through patronizing ‘credit organizations’ for the Christian poor. There was a duality in the way the Catholic Church viewed towns – the church was uncomfortable with Christians living in towns which traditionally had presence of the Jews, as a result of which the church would prescribe avoidance of ‘damnable mixing’.
Even though medieval feudalism flourished with three estates on the basis of agriculture-based economy, town as the ‘fourth estate’ was rapidly taking shape in north Italy and Flanders regions. Townspeople were mostly merchants and artisans – they produced and traded cloth, metalwork, other consumer goods, and military arms-accessories/workshops in their houses. The craftsmen were organized into ‘guilds’ and by 1200 CE carpenters, bakers, and almost every other type of craftsmen had guilds.
The patricians were at the top of urban society, who owned banking, and trade completely and industry, partially. Below the economically, and politically dominating patricians, the burghers – artisans, guild masters, guild members, small traders – became conscious about their position. The workers, and the unemployed, combination of which probably constituted about half of Townspeople, earned very little or nothing and lived miserable lives. Initially, towns came under the administration of feudal lords who levied taxes and rents. However, with expanding trade and commerce the burghers accumulated wealth, and demanded power for self-governing. The patricians and burghers resented the interference by the feudal lords in their business, and fought to extract special privileges.
Between 1150 and 1500 CE, the Italian & Hanseatic Trade routes became the bedrock of intra-Europe and Asia-Europe trade and commerce driven by the coastal north Italian and coastal north German wealthy merchants (Christian and Judaic).
2.2.8 As the council decrees show, the intellectual basis of the Catholic Church was belief in the philosophy (and also pseudoscience) enumerated in the Bible. Scholasticism, as a method of learning, originated in the Catholic Christian monastic schools (that became the earliest universities) and completely dominated religious teaching in Europe from about 1200 CE to 1600 CE. Thomas Aquinas’s two masterworks the Summa theologiae and the Summa contra gentiles can be considered as the pinnacle of scholastic interpretation of the Christian theosophy and philosophy – Aquinas tried to synthesize reason and faith, philosophy and theology, and activity and contemplation. The books reconciled reason and philosophy of Aristotle with the Christian faith and theology. As per Aquinas, faith and reason both came from God and therefore couldn’t contradict one another (in case of contradiction faith had primacy). In his view, theology had primacy over philosophy because the former provided access to ‘truths’ that were not accessible through reason. Thus, theology became the “Queen of the Sciences.” An educated person in medieval Europe would master the approved texts (not original, most of which were translated into Latin) in the manner approved by the clergy (authorized by the Curia of pope) – creativity or inquiry had no place there.
The city-based schools offered studies that would be useful for occupation and social advancement. Learning of Latin, and the Bible was basic. ‘Liberal Arts’ consisting of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and the quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, harmonics, and astronomy) were considered as advanced studies. Study of ‘Philosophy’ – four branches were theoretical, practical, logical, and mechanical – was treated as ultimate knowledge. The Theoretical was further divided into physics, mathematics, and theology; the Practical consisted of ethics; the Mechanical included practical subjects like agriculture, wool processing, medicine, navigation etc. In all fairness to the clergy, they did their best to keep the practice of learning alive during the darkness of medieval era. Through translation of Greek and Arabic books, ancient and medieval era knowledge continued to be transmitted, albeit under watchful eyes of scholasticism.
2.2.9 The Catholic Church promoted monasticism as a way of life for monks and nuns – monasteries became isolated communities where inmates worked at various trades, and owned property including land, buildings and other riches. However, during 12th and 13th century a comprehensively contrasting model was also floated by the church – Mendicant orders were certain Catholic Christian religious groups that adopted a living in urban areas renouncing comfortable lifestyle for the purpose of preaching, and evangelizing to the urban poor. For survival they depended on the support and goodwill of their followers whom they preached – this has uncanny resemblance to the Buddhist Bhikshu in Indian subcontinent who preached Buddhist philosophy and begged for their food and shelter. The famous mendicant orders of friars approved by the Catholic Church were:
i) Dominicans – founded in 1215 CE by Dominic Guzman
ii) Franciscans – initiated by Francis of Assisi around 1209 CE
iii) Augustinians – hermits of St. Augustine established this
iv) Carmelites – founded by hermits on Mount Carmel in the Crusader states
The Second Council of Lyons in 1274 CE recognized the above as the four “major” mendicant orders, and suppressed others. Because of its down-to-earth lifestyle, this ‘system’ became quite popular in the poorer towns of Europe.
2.2.10 Renaissance – The unprecedented episode of shifting the papal seat from Rome to Avignon in southern France (from 1309 CE to 1377 CE) caused irreparable damage to the power and prestige of the Catholic Church. Since the Avignon Papacy was cut off from its Papal States in Italy, revenue decreased considerably. The Avignon Papacy came up with new ways of raising money – selling indulgences, increasing fees for baptisms, and weddings etc. After the great fiasco between 1378 CE and 1415 CE when several ‘popes’ simultaneously claimed the office, Martin V was elected as new Pope with Rome as papal seat. Apart from the unethical and materialistic conduct of the papacy, bubonic plague in mid-14th century shook people’s confidence in the church’s spiritual leadership. The ensuing economic debacle propagated uncertainty and fear among dying population.
Under such circumstances, in the city-states of northern Italy, intellectuals decided to build a new culture, to create a new society through a revival, or rebirth which was called as Renaissance. They came to see the entire Middle Ages a decaying and corrupt society as compared to a golden era of prosperity and learning during the ancient era of Greece and Roman civilization. The Renaissance intellectuals got involved in:
i) Recovery and reading of all the great Greek and Roman writings in its original language. Contrary to scholastics intellectuals who filtered ancient teachings through a theological prism to serve Catholic Christian theology, Renaissance intellectuals believed that the ancient classics contained wisdom that could help the people solve their social, and political problems;
ii) Revival of the ancient Roman educational system based on Greek and Latin language, poetry, grammar, history, moral philosophy, rhetoric, and politics (this devotion to ancient classics was termed as Humanism). It was facilitated by numerous Greek-speaking Byzantine scholars who fled to Italy with ancient manuscripts when Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453 CE. Humanism fundamentally differed with medieval scholasticism which primarily focused on theology and law
Similarly, the Renaissance popes strove to make Rome the capital of a united and orderly Christendom. The Papal State in and around Rome was ruled by the Pope who was elected by the cardinals of the Catholic Church. Most cardinals came from wealthy Italian families (popolo grosso, the “fat people”), hence the Pope was from one of these families who had a substantial amount of disposable income. Nicholas V (r. 1447–55) who moved the papal seat from the Lateran Palace to the Vatican Palace, commented on constructions of fortifications, streets, and bridges in Vatican area as, “Not for ambition, nor pomp, nor vain glory, nor fame, nor the eternal perpetuation of my name, but for the greater authority of the Roman (Catholic) church and the greater dignity of the Apostolic See… we conceived such buildings in mind and spirit.” The Renaissance popes and papal officials were involved in:
i) Study of all aspects of antiquity, edit of its texts; following classical models writing down poems, and plays;
ii) Building of libraries and collection of ancient art and books;
iii) Commissioning of paintings and sculptures in public squares and in churches;
iv) Renovation of ancient buildings and structures.
A scholar and poet, Francesco Petrarch is traditionally called the ‘father of Humanism’. He believed God had gifted humans ‘intellectual and creative potential’ which should be used to their fullest potential. His faith in the study of ancient history, philosophy and literature was a key factor for flowering of Humanism. Poet Dante Alighieri, or polymath Leonardo da Vinci, or sculptor-painter-architect Michelangelo, or any other Italian Renaissance humanist essentially contributed to strengthen the moral standing of the Catholic Christian ideology by replacing scholasticism with humanism. Even the ‘Christian Humanist’ like Desiderius Erasmus (of Holland), a devout Catholic, through his writing looked for improvement of society.
By the end of 15th century Renaissance humanist ideas spread to central and western part of Europe – the intellectuals in Flanders, Holland, Germany, France, and England were highly receptive. By the 1470s Gutenberg’s new moveable type printing press was widely available in the Italian states, France, England, and Holland. It helped to spread the Renaissance ideas far and wide.
In ‘The Book of the Courtier’, Baldassare Castiglione in 1528 CE described the characteristics of a perfect Renaissance noble – a Renaissance (born) noble should have character and talent, he should develop military skills, he should undertake classical education and finally, he must be graceful.
Due to Renaissance humanists’ attempts, people increasingly changed their views about the world and life – they started paying more attention to how this life should be lived. People also started questioning existing religious practices many of which were not at all healthy. Few Marxist historians describe the Renaissance in purely materialistic terms, propagating the view that a bourgeois class with leisure time and accumulated surplus could devote time and money for literature, philosophy, and fine arts. That seems to be true, but that portray only one part of the canvas, other dynamics fill the canvas completely.
2.3 Christianity and Philosophy in West Europe: 15th Century to 1815 CE
The carefully constructed edifice of the Catholic Church as a motive force for the late antiquity and the medieval west Europe became inconsequential in the modern era. The journey of the Catholic Church through four centuries of tumultuous modernity was ideologically devastating and practically sapping. Notwithstanding such debacles, the Catholic Church played very intriguing role across the world in the development of the modern era. Only the most significant incidents, movement and ideas that shaped the modern world are being noted below:
2.3.1 Reformation- Renaissance popes, being political leaders of the Papal States in Italy, were all too often concerned with politics and worldly pursuits than with spiritual matters. Many church officials were also concerned with money and career while many parish priests were ignorant of their spiritual duties. However, people across Europe started criticizing the corrupt practices of the Renaissance popes (part of Italian oligarchy):
- Pope Pius II (r. 1458–64) had his birthplace, Corsignano, rebuilt under the direction of the famous architect Rossellino
- Pope Paul II (r. 1464–71) introduced scheme of full pardon for sins during a visit to Rome once every 25 years
- Pope Alexander VI (r. 1492–1503) acknowledged fathering several children (precise number was never disclosed) by his mistresses
- Pope Julius II (r. 1503–13) led armies to fight against enemies; introduced grant of indulgences to those who would give money to rebuild Saint Peter’s in Rome
- Pope Leo X (r. 1513–21) continued the scheme of granting of indulgences to those who would give money to rebuild Saint Peter’s in Rome
Even before the Reformation took shape as a movement, Jan Hus, a master, and rector at the Charles University, Prague opposed many aspects of the Catholic Church in Bohemia – simony and ecclesiology were among them, which resonated with Protestants later on. Hus was burned at the stake in July 1415 for ‘heresy’ against the Catholic Church doctrines.
Call for reformation of the Catholic Church grew louder with Martin Luther taking the lead in in Germany by writing a long protest note criticizing selling of indulgences (not only for the living but also on behalf of the dead) known as Ninety-five Theses in October 1517 CE. Luther further propagated that (a) people could obtain salvation ONLY by faith in God, (instead of faith AND ‘good work’ as taught by the Catholic Church), (b) for Christians, source of religious truth is ONLY the Bible (instead of the Bible, and church tradition as preached by the papacy). In 1520 CE Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther, and Luther set up new religious services to replace the Catholic mass. Soon the doctrine developed by Luther came to be known as Lutheranism, and all anti-Catholic Church Christians were termed as Protestants.
‘Reformation’ remains one of the most discussed and debated topic among historians, sociologists, and economists. However, in my opinion, it is still one of the undeciphered mystery of history. ‘Reformation’ was a tremendous geopolitical onslaught on the Catholic Church, the most powerful socio-political entity of medieval Europe – carried out primarily by the German princes and English crown – to strip off the enormous power and wealth accumulated by the oligarchy in Rome (NOT Roman) since 800 CE.
Martin Luther was certainly not a revolutionary religious leader – he acted as the chief coordinator of the German princes of small principalities within ‘Holy Roman Empire’ in order to ‘break’ and ‘Germanize’ the church-ian empire. Luther actively wrote against the rebel peasants who wanted an end to serfdom in 1524, Luther urged the German princes for ruthless suppression of the revolt. In his Apology, in large parts an attack on Martin Luther, Thomas Müntzer, one of the leaders of German Peasants’ Revolt said: “Look ye! Our sovereign and rulers are at the bottom of all usury, thievery, and robbery; they take all created things into possession. The fish in the water, birds in the air, the products of the soil – all must be theirs.” Obviously, revolutionary Müntzer couldn’t fully understand the real agenda of Luther – over 100,000 peasants were killed by the princes’ army. Even though Holy Roman Emperor Charles V opposed Lutheranism, most of the regional princes of the empire found Luther as ‘their man’ who would provide religious and moral ideology to break free from papal rules and taxation. These regional princes (new Protestant rulers) “often sequestered Church property and ‘plundered the wealth of the Church’ to pay off their own private debts and strengthen the power of the monarch” (refer Messinger, Dean, ‘Nationalism and Nation-building in the Lutheran Reformation’). After few battles with Lutheran German princes, weary of fighting Charles V settled the issue in September 1555 CE with the Peace of Augsburg. This agreement formally accepted the right of each German regional ruler to determine the religion (either Catholic, or Lutheranism) of his region, however the right of the subjects to choose their own religion was not recognized.
In England, reformist movement was led by King Henry VIII (a façade of ‘issue of divorce’ was used) – the first Act of Supremacy was passed by the Parliament of England in November 1534 that declared the monarchy as Supreme Head of the Church in England, and ensured the legal superiority of the civil laws over the ecclesiastical laws of the Church in England. Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and sold their land and other possessions of the Catholic Church to feudal lords and merchants in order to boost his coffers. After Henry’s death, when Elizabeth I became the ruler, through a Parliament act in 1559, Anglican Church was set up as the only legal church. Instead of strictly following Protestantism, Anglican Church also mixed few tenets of Catholicism.
In 1536, French theologian John Calvin published the Institutes of the Christian Religion on Protestant thought which established Calvin as a new leader of Protestantism. Calvinism was very close to Lutheranism EXCEPT the idea on predestination. The doctrine of predestination suggested that God had determined in advance a few people would be saved (the ‘elect’) and the rest would be damned (the ‘reprobate’). Calvin, a staunch Judaic ideologue said, ” The Covenant of God with the Jewish people is irrevocable because “no promise of God can be undone.” In 1536, Calvin began working to reform the church in the city of Geneva, and soon Switzerland became a bastion of Calvinism. Soon Calvinism became the main vehicle of Protestantism.
It was not until the Council of Trent in 1545 CE which launched the so-called Counter-Reformation, that the defenders of the Catholic Church could effectively counter the damage done by Reformation using a coordinated strategy to suppress the Protestant movement. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits), founded by Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish nobleman was recognized as a religious order by the pope in 1540 CE. Jesuits became an important instrument to fight and roll back the influence of Protestant movement.
By the mid-16th century, Lutheranism had become entrenched in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, while Calvinism had taken hold in Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and Scotland. In England, Anglican Church was established, but Puritans strongly felt Anglican Church was not sufficiently protestant, and many of them migrated to North American continent to establish ‘puritan order’. By 17th century CE, Puritanism became a full-fledged socio-political force in England, as noted by historian Cecil Roth: “The religious developments of the seventeenth century brought to its climax an unmistakable philo-semitic tendency in certain English circles. Puritanism represented above all a return to the Bible, this automatically fostered a more favourable frame of mind towards the people of the Old Testament.”
Some historians assert that the Reformation was an ‘urban event’ caused by the rise of the free imperial cities in the HRE – research showed that, 50 of the 65 free imperial cities either permanently or temporarily accepted the Protestantism (Ozment 1975). There may be different reasons why cities became more receptive to reformation ideas: literary awareness, political sophistication, wealth, network among city dwellers etc.
2.3.2 Thirty Years’ War- The intra-church tensions brewing for centuries and released by Reformation eventually pitted two groups of aristocrats-oligarchs against each other; this in turn resulted in civil wars across central and west Europe. Even though historians call it as ‘religious war’, an unbiased review would convincingly prove that, Thirty Years’ War was the most immoral war in Europe where dynastic rivalry, oligarchic preferences, religious inclination, lust for power, and accumulation of wealth trumped ideology and reason resoundingly. However, its effects were momentous after the representatives of 194 European rulers’ held the Congress of Westphalia from 1643 CE to 1648 CE:
(1) Undoubtedly, Peace of Westphalia was one of the significant bedrocks of the concept of ‘state’ that introduced the principles of ‘sovereignty’, and ‘non-interference in domestic affairs’. Subjects and their rulers were bound together by the ‘laws’ of their respective state in post-Westphalia Europe – they were freed from conflicting religious and political allegiances. However, Machiavelli’s thesis on the prince’s sovereignty was published (The Prince) even earlier in 1527 CE.
I am not among them who believe that Peace of Westphalia (a) ushered a new era of geopolitical stability (needless to mention that, Sweden, France, and Spain were fighting new wars in 17th century itself), and (b) acted as the starting point of the modern Nation-State system (there were hundreds of pre-modern principalities in Holy Roman Empire after 1648 CE). Rather, Congress of Vienna in 1815 CE, probably could claim such novelty.
(2) Essentially, Peace of Westphalia was more to do with reorientation of power in west Europe than anything else. How could one explain the entete between Catholic king of France and Protestant king of Sweden?! It was not really ‘balancing of power among European states’ as many historians want us to believe, it was actually rebalancing of power in favour of France and Sweden by incapacitating the Habsburg dynasty:
- The Swedish government added half of Pomerania, most of Mecklenburg, and bishoprics of Bremen and Verden; a promise of five million thalers as payment to the Swedish army for its wage;
- The French government gained territories in Alsace and Lorraine; the Spanish kingdom, for all practical purpose got segregated from Austro-Hungarian empire (original seat of power for the Habsburg dynasty)
(3) Peace of Westphalia permanently crippled the geopolitical wherewithal of the Catholic Church, and, in my opinion, it was the most prominent loser. As mentioned earlier, the Catholic Church steadily added a humongous business of temporal affairs (one of which was running ‘papal states in central Italy) beyond the usual spiritual affairs – this was untenable, ‘it could not at one and the same time claim a universal spiritual authority yet also act as a central Italian principality using its wider religious role to justify its narrow political one’.
Not only Lutheranism and Calvinism were accepted as valid religious orders apart from Catholicism, religious/spiritual authority of the church was subordinated to political power (of the state). The Catholic Church as the last symbol of Roman (?) unification of Europe was permanently transformed.
(4) Voltaire’s famous quip “The Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy nor Roman, nor an Empire” could be properly understood if one takes note of the German historian Klaus Malettke’s description “The whole Empire included, in the 17th century, over a thousand more or less autonomous polities. On the one hand, this group encompassed about three hundred States or similar structures whose lords – secular and non-secular elected lords, princes, imperial counts and abbots, magistrates of the imperial free cities – all had territorial jurisdiction over their territories under the direct dependency of the Empire, i.e., they had the right of representation in the Empire Diet. On the other, it included the Imperial cavalry, which had no representation or right to vote in the Empire Diet, but had jurisdiction over their small, even micro-, territories, special lordships, in a total of more than a thousand”.
The sprawling landmass of the Holy Roman Empire was completely ravaged by the Thirty Years’ War. The population declined from 18–20 million in 1600 CE to about 11–13 million in 1650 CE, and until 1750 CE it didn’t regain pre-war levels. Experts suggest “about 40% of the rural population fell victim to the war and epidemics; in the cities,…33%”. Due to the influx of foreign soldiers, shifting locations of battle fronts, and forced displacement of rural population into crowded towns/cities, outbreaks of epidemics greatly increased. In addition to that, poor harvests and plundering by foreign armies led to widespread famine and death.
Above mentioned point 1, 2, 3 described the effect of Peace of Westphalia on the Empire.
Religious freedom was preserved from then on and no one could be persecuted because of their faith. Each prince/ruler could freely opt for the Catholic Christian faith or for Lutheranism or for Calvinism and that would become the option of the inhabitants of that land (cuius regio, eius religio – Whose realm, his religion). In case, subjects disagreed with the religious option, they could immigrate to land in which their confession was predominant.
(5) Dutch independence – The Eighty Years’ War was fought between the Seventeen Provinces and Habsburg Spanish Empire during 1568–1648 CE. The northern seven provinces (mostly the current Netherlands) ousted the Habsburg armies long before the Thirty Years’ War, and established the first Dutch Republic in 1581 CE. At the end of the Thirty Years’ War in January 1648 CE, Philip IV of Spain signed a peace treaty to recognize the independent Dutch Republic (mostly protestant population). However, the southern provinces (mainly the Catholic Belgium and Luxembourg in modern era) remained under the control of Spanish empire.
2.3.3 Scientific Revolution– Even though development in science and mathematics has been a continuous process since the dawn of human civilization, research and study of science and mathematics never became a sort of ‘movement’ before the Scientific Revolution in early modern Europe. Emergence of fully developed branches of modern science – physics, chemistry, biology, anatomy, astronomy, etc. were instrumental for understanding nature and natural phenomenon. The publication of the heliocentric model of the Solar System in the book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) in 1543 CE authored by Nicolaus Copernicus is considered to be the beginning of the Scientific Revolution.
The “father of modern science” Galileo was in all respect a revolutionary dedicated to the cause of science and technology – the Italian physicist and astronomer was put under house arrest for last 10 years before death in 1642 CE because he was ‘vehemently suspected of heresy’ (Galileo published a book supporting the Copernican system centered on Sun and discarding the Ptolemaic system centered on Earth) by the ‘Holy Inquisition’, an institution of the Catholic Church. Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer and mathematician announced laws of planetary motion between 1609 and 1618 CE derived from the astronomical data observed by astronomer, Tycho Brahe. ‘Mechanics’ got a tremendous boost with Galileo, Christian Huygens (law of conservation of momentum) and Isaac Newton (three laws of motion, gravitational force). Descartes, Huygens, and Newton became instrumental in developing ‘Optics’. Robert Boyle became the pioneer to understand the ‘chemical properties’ of matter – in 1662 CE he published the findings that came to be known as Boyle’s law. Antoine Lavoisier was another pioneering scientist (role of Oxygen in combustion) in the area of Chemistry. Physician William Harvey, in 1628 CE, made significant contributions related to properties and circulation of blood. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek constructed powerful microscopes and extensively researched which was published around 1660 CE – the microscopic world of biology opened its door.
Scientific societies sprang up, beginning in Italy in the early years of the 17th century and culminating in the two great national scientific societies that mark the zenith of the Scientific Revolution: the Royal Society of London created by royal charter in 1662 CE, the Académie Royale des Sciences of Paris formed in 1666 CE, and Berlin Akademie der Wissenschaften was founded in 1700 CE. By 1789 CE, there were over 70 official scientific societies in Europe. A trend developed in Europe by which, function of a ‘society’ was assumed as ‘creation of knowledge’ while a university was supposed to ‘transmit knowledge’.
Europe had more than about 100 universities and colleges by 1700 CE. The empiricism and rational thought required for study of science was intertwined with the Enlightenment ideals. Under the heading of natural philosophy, Physics and an assortment of Chemistry and Life science (which included anatomy, biology, zoology, geology, mineralogy) were taught [refer link🡪 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in_the_Age_of_Enlightenment ].
The Catholic Church or, for that matter, any other church was not in a position either to contain the spread of new concepts and ideas or to nullify the impact of that. Due to printing press, communication between scientists and students/intellectuals became easier, faster, and more effective. In an interesting study, Alphonse De Candolle (1873 CE) analysed the historical development of scientific research between 1666 CE and 1869 CE and classified the internationally renowned scientists of Europe according to their religious belief, language etc. It was found that, among the scientists, Protestants were seven times higher than Catholics.
2.3.4 Enlightenment– There is no dearth of scholars in the 21st century who, in their best of intentions, consider the Enlightenment as the period when ‘reason’ and ‘knowledge’ trounced ‘faith’ and ‘tradition’. In reality, Enlightenment was something more complex – a multifaceted programme where a couple of schools of thought blossomed, and each of those had a number of separate tracks of scientific, political, and philosophical inquiry. Enlightenment ‘movement’ advocated ideals like liberty, tolerance, constitution, separation of church and state. The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method along with questioning of religious orthodoxy. Arguably, the Enlightenment commenced when René Descartes shifted the epistemological basis from external authority to internal confidence with his statement “Cogito, ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) in 1637 CE. If we wish to define the phenomenon of Enlightenment candidly, we have to hear what Immanuel Kant said, who began his essay ‘An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?’ with the words: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed minority. This minority is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. It is self-imposed if its cause lies not in a lack of understanding, but in the lack of courage and determination to rely on one’s own understanding and not another’s guidance. Thus the motto of the Enlightenment is ‘Sapere aude! Have the courage to use your own understanding!’ Idleness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a part of mankind, after nature has long since released them from the tutelage of others, willingly remain minors as long as they live; and why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians.”
Between 1600 CE and 1800 CE in west Europe, “philosophers and scientists of the period widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffee-houses, and in printed books, journals, and pamphlets” [refer link🡪 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment ]. More comprehensive attempt to spread the ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe was made by Denis Diderot, and Jean le Rondd’Alembert who along with a team of 150 other intellectuals published 35 volumes of Encyclopédie between 1751 CE and 1772 CE.
(a) Religion – Out of the two competing philosophies, Rationalism (the epistemological view that regards “reason as the chief source and test of knowledge” or a methodology “in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive”) and Empiricism (states that “knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience” or a methodology that “emphasizes evidence, especially as discovered in experiments”) both “share the same fundamental concept: the treatment of the individual consciousness as the absolute origin of knowledge and action. Pure rationalism finds this origin in clear innate ideas existing independently of experience; pure empiricism, rejecting entirely the notion of innate ideas, finds the origin in sense-perceptions more or less mechanically organized into conscious thought” (refer ‘The Philosophy of the Enlightenment’ by Lucien Goldmann, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1973).
If we consider, René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza as the key proponents of Rationalism, and John Locke and David Hume as the doyens of Empiricism, then it has to be agreed that French thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu (who became the face of Enlightenment) occupied an intermediate position – they denied the existence of innate ideas like an empiricist, and at the same time, just like a rationalist they acknowledged the vital role of reason in collecting the knowledge. There were few commonalities in belief of all these philosophers:
- None of them denied existence of God (Wilson and Reill noted, “In fact, very few enlightened intellectuals, even when they were vocal critics of Christianity, were true atheists. Rather, they were critics of orthodox belief, wedded rather to skepticism, deism, vitalism, or perhaps pantheism”)
- All of them were united in their hostility to the Catholic Church and dogma of traditional Christianity (including divine revelations, miracles, prophecies); they zealously opposed the bigotry, intolerance and superstition of Christianity
- They believed, each person should become a ‘reasoning adult’, a subject and agent, which is opposite to a ‘child obedient to God’
Since the Middle Ages, the church organized the commoners as well as the rulers on the basis of faith in one God and his followers: “there will be one flock and one shepherd”. The Enlightenment philosophers struck at the question of faith – it didn’t ask for a godless society, but, by denying the church’s role in institutionalized religion, it completely changed the rule of the game on how an individual would strive to search for God. Descartes believed that the universe worked like a kind of mechanical clock, and that God was the master clockmaker who had set it in motion. Isaac Newton however theorized that the universe in which gravity functioned was unstable, so that God had to intervene from time to time to regulate it – but, this God was ‘alien’ to traditional Abrahamic God. An extreme example was the radical rationalist philosopher Spinoza who lived and worked in the 17th century Dutch Republic. Spinoza asserted that, all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, could be gained through the use of reason alone, though this was not possible in practice for human beings except in areas like mathematics. According to Spinoza, reality is perfection, if circumstances are seen as unfortunate it is only because we have inadequate conception of reality. While components of the chain of cause and effect are not beyond the understanding of human reason, human grasp of the infinitely complex whole is limited, because of the limits of science to empirically take account of the whole sequence. Spinoza defined God as “a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence”, he stated that “Whatever is, is in God, and nothing can exist or be conceived without God”. Thus, for him God is identical with the universe, which has been interpreted by some intellectuals as pantheism or atheism. Spinoza was considered as an atheist because his concept of God was different from traditional Abrahamic monotheist God. Spinoza’s indifferent God is opposite to the concept of an anthropomorphic God who cares about humanity. Spinoza rejected all sorts of dogmatism suggesting that human beings shouldn’t be viewed in an idealized religious way – he took the Bible as a document written by human that may contain contradictions. Spinoza was/is reviled by Judaic, Catholic, and Protestant clergy, but one of his admirers was Albert Einstein who, on 24 April 1921 told Rabbi Herbert Goldstein of the Institutional Synagogue, New York upon being asked if he believed in God, “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings” (refer Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, New York: World Publishing, 1971). [I could not resist myself to digress a bit… discerning readers who have been exposed to philosophy of medieval Hinduism, may notice an uncanny similarity between (a) God of monotheism of Christianity and Islam religion and Dvaita concept of Vedanta both of which believe in ‘creator’ and ‘creation’; and (b) God of pantheism proposed by Spinoza and Advaita concept of Vedanta both of which believe in ‘creator’ exists in ‘creation’].
Here, we have to mention about the German Idealism (reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally a construct of the mind or otherwise immaterial; and “although the existence of something independent of the mind is conceded, everything that we can know about this mind-independent “reality” is held to be so permeated by the creative, formative, or constructive activities of the mind (of some kind or other) that all claims to knowledge must be considered, in some sense, to be a form of self-knowledge”) and its Immanuel Kant, the leading philosopher of this school. Because of the limitations of arguments in the absence of irrefutable evidence, Kant disregarded the possibility of arguing for as well as against the presence of God through only pure reason. Among the major targets of his criticism were superstitions and a hierarchical church order.
The question still remains unresolved – while the Enlightenment philosophers rightly struggled against the negative aspects (including the scripture, philosophy, practice) of Christianity and the church, did the philosophy of the Enlightenment lack the intent and capability to feel the essence of religion altogether?
(b) Politics – It was the sphere of Politics, where the Enlightenment era became a hotbed of intellectual discourse coupled with physical activism. Even though the political principles of the Enlightenment appeared to be simple and straightforward (freedom, equality, toleration, law-based rule, common good etc.), in reality it was quite convoluted. Voltaire and Diderot supported enlightened monarchy (history named them as ‘enlightened despots’) – close communication and relation between Voltaire and Frederick the Great of Prussia, or Diderot and Catherine the Great of Russia were in direct contradiction with radical society where everyone would be equal and possess restricted private property as Mably, Morelly, Rousseau proposed (in pre-revolution France). And, all of them asserted that the private interest and the public interest coincide.
Diverse thinkers including Hobbes, Locke, Grotius, Diderot, and Rousseau stood for the ‘social contract’, as an agreement between free and equal individuals, all voluntarily undertaking to put themselves entirely under the general will. Few others like Hume, Voltaire, and Kant regarded the social contract as a contract establishing the state by the subjugation of its members. Some researchers point out that, the notion of ‘social contract’ smacks of the so-called ‘covenant’ mentioned in the Old Testament – after all, Thomas Hobbes, the first “social contract” theorist was a Puritan.
On the other side, away from the social contract-theorists, the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder criticized contractualist theories and Enlightenment thinkers, and put ‘nation’ (volk) at the centre of history. Volk, as envisaged by Herder, ‘was an organic whole by virtue of interrelationship of its members’ which are interconnected because of shared culture and tradition. Herder emphasized the centrality of cultural group defined either ethnolinguistically or religiously. He believed that ‘these cultures alone provided a context for meaningful human action’, and that history is ‘an interaction of cultures rather than a progression (or chaos) of religions, individuals, or states’. Herder not only became the initiator of nationalism in Germany, but he gave the idea of (modern) nationalism a robust philosophical platform.
The French Revolution was as much a product of the burgher rebellion against the monarchy as a triumph of the intellectual fury against the corruption and superstition of the church and repression of the monarchy. The Enlightenment philosophers, irrespective of their personal views, became the torchbearers for future socio-political philosophy and movements across the world.
Here again, we come across an unresolved question – while the Enlightenment philosophers raised their voice against corrupt aristocracy and despotic rulers, did the philosophy of the Enlightenment lack the intent and capability to understand the poor plebeians of Europe altogether (who were being ‘transferred’ from feudalism to capitalism – out of the frying pan into the fire)?
(c) Masonic Lodge – Due to factors like (i) crumbling authority of the church since 1517 CE, (ii) disintegration of feudalism (except in Holy Roman Empire) by 1648 CE, (iii) negative impact of the Reformation on guilds, more and more elites and aristocrats from nobility, trade and commerce, and guilds flocked together to find a common ground where personal faith wouldn’t come into the way for professional excellence and pursuit of wealth. Thus, Freemasonry started its journey in 1717 CE in Calvinist Scotland and Anglican England. The fraternity of Freemasons believed in the concept of a traveler (literal and symbolic Old Testament) who would like to shape the society, and the world, in order to make it better.
The first constitution came about in 1723 CE compiled by James Anderson, a Presbyterian pastor and lawyer; William Hunter printed the document. Freemasonry turned out to be very popular among the noble and educated classes (mainly atheists, Deists, Protestant Christians) in many European countries. For some, it became the escape route from their traditional religious practices, for some others it provided stable business connections. A mystical ritualistic ceremony was an attraction, however the Catholic Church never accepted such orders that operated beyond its reach. In reality, Freemasons became the most significant ideologically built organization that propelled the industrial capitalism in different states of Europe and the USA after 1750 CE.
2.3.5 Nationalism, Capitalism, and Bourgeois Revolutions– The earliest blossoming of Nationalism, in my opinion, happened during the Hundred Years War between the monarchy of England and France. During 1429-1430 CE, Joanne of Arc, a French peasant girl first felt the urge (that could be termed as ‘nationalist’), to free the land of the French people from the invading English army. Next significant bout of nationalism could be noticed in Lutheran attack on Rome-based Catholic order which pitted the interests of German nobles and burghers against the rent-seeking clergy of Rome-based Catholic Church. Absolute monarchy found the concept of nationalism as one of the most useful tool to discipline the plebeian population and rallying them around the throne.
Similarly we notice a thriving mercantile capitalism between 13th and 16th century CE (though Bubonic Plague temporarily caused a damage) in Italian peninsula, Low Countries, and Baltic coast. Agrarian capitalism was in full bloom in England, and Low countries 14th century CE onwards. A weird system that may be (in absence of a suitable terminology) termed as ‘plantation capitalism’, was in vogue during 16th to 18th century wherein the businessmen of west European colonial empires setup plantation of commercial corps like sugarcane, rubber in invaded territory (in North America, South America, Asia, Africa continents) using slaves (who were Africans forcefully evicted from their villages in African coasts) – the entire system was an inhuman and vulgar integration of Agrarian capitalism, and Mercantile capitalism backed by the then absolute monarchy and (Catholic and Protestant) church.
As noted above, the interaction among monarchy-religion-nationalism-capitalism during the early modern era in west Europe was very complex. Even though ‘religion’ as a socio-cultural phenomenon and ‘capitalism’ as a socio-economic phenomenon can’t be restrained within boundary of a nation, a thorough study of west Europe during early modern era reveals strange practices of nation-based Christianity, nation-based Capitalism, Christianization of nationalism, and capital-based nationalism – all these phenomenon were the direct result of tussle between absolute monarchy and newly developed class of capitalists for political power and accumulation of wealth. Till 1815 CE, absolute monarchy maintained its upper hand.
Europe witnessed two epoch-making ‘conflicts’ by 1815 CE – first, the English civil war and Revolution between 1648 and 1688 CE, second, the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars during 1789 CE to 1815 CE. Notwithstanding the glowing tributes paid to these two upheavals, in reality, both of these showed that, at the end of the conflicts, the landed aristocracy and wealthy burghers continued or re-established their hold over the State apparatus and economy. About the last act of the conflict in England in 1688 CE (commonly called as English Revolution), Lord Acton stated quite bluntly in his article ‘The English Revolution’, “The gentry who managed the affairs of the county managed the affairs of the country after 1688 as they had done before. There was no transfer of force from the aristocratic element of society to the democratic. … And yet it was the greatest thing done by the English nation. It established the State upon a contract … it was perfectly compatible with the oppression of class by class, and of the country by the State, as the agent of a class.” French revolution in 1789 CE was more eventful and meaningful in the initial phase. Only when the revolution was threatening to permanently sideline the standing of patricians as a class, the revolution was hijacked by Napoleon to re-launch the French empire. Andrew Roberts said about the achievements of Napoleon, the ‘ultimate enlightened despot’, “The ideas that underpin our modern world—meritocracy, equality before the law, property rights, religious toleration, modern secular education, sound finances, and so on—were championed, consolidated, codified and geographically extended by Napoleon. To them he added a rational and efficient local administration, an end to rural banditry, the encouragement of science and the arts, the abolition of feudalism and the greatest codification of laws since the fall of the Roman Empire.” The most important achievement conspicuous by its absence, was the oppression of (plebian) class by (patrician) class continued as before (under the additional ‘garb’ of liberty-equality-fraternity).
2.4 Judaism, and Philosophy in Jewish Society: 1096 CE to 1815 CE
The heading of this section appears to be innocuous, however any discerning reader would understand my difficulty to even identify the community about whom I want to write. While ‘Anglo’, ‘French’, ‘Dutch’, ‘German’, ‘Italian’ etc. signify (simplified current version of) ethnicity and language of the respective community (irrespective of their religious belief), ‘Jew’ word generally signify(?) EITHER ethnicity (Mizrahim, Sephardim, Ashkenazim) OR religious faith (Judaic) OR combination of ethnicity and religious faith. In my opinion, after around five centuries of persecution and expulsion, at the end of 16th century in west Europe, Jews who professed Judaic religion would probably be equal in numbers as that who professed (protestant) Christian religion. Hence, estimation of the actual population of Jews would be next to impossible.
Some Protestant communities in west Europe had so much faith in (Judaic) Old Testament that they circumcised their children and respected the Sabbath. Isaac Disraeli, father of Benjamin Disraeli said, “it seemed that religion chiefly consisted of Sabbatarian rigours; and that a British senate had been transformed into a company of Hebrew Rabbis.” Hilaire Belloc estimated that, “with the opening of the twentieth century those of the great territorial English families in which there was no Jewish blood were the exception.”
2.4.1 If social disturbances due to internal factors of a community are acknowledged as an indicator of social progress (or retreat), it must be accepted that Jewish society remained mired in ancient religious practice and socio-cultural philosophy with very rare signs of progress. Apart from following the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) and the Talmud, the Jewish communities settled across different regions of west Europe rarely made any transformation in their society. As per Wikipedia, the Talmud contains “the teachings and opinions of thousands of rabbis dating from before the Common Era through to the 5th century CE on a variety of subjects, including halakha, Jewish ethics, philosophy, customs, history, and folklore, and many other topics. The Talmud is the basis for all codes of Jewish law…”. How old is the Tanakh or Talmud remained unresolved till date. While Herodotus crossed Syria-Palestine around 450 BCE without hearing anything about Judeans or Israelites, Jewish and (Old Testament-oriented) Christian historians penned history books writing that ‘Jerusalem had been at that time the center of the world’. Anyway, keeping that debate aside, it has to be noted that, a community which collectively wants to live in the mythical or even real past, would only entertain rigid ‘rule’-based lifestyle in family as well as in society. Such social behaviour created barriers to integration with the major European Christian communities till the Enlightenment. This is not to suggest that, the lack of assimilation of the Jewish community with the mainstream European Christian communities was entirely due to the faults of Jews – in fact, time and again the Christian rulers and the Catholic Church created unbearable circumstances for the small but wealthy Jewish community (due to various reasons some of which remained opaque).
Let me list down the significant identifiers of Jewish people with reference to the Tanakh:
(a) Judaic religion is indistinguishable from a Jewish people (historically, an endogamous Jewish ethnic group could claim such definition, but now 3 different claimants exist). The American rabbi Harry Waton said “The Bible (OT – added by the author) speaks of an immortality right here on earth. In what consists this immortality? It consists in this: the soul continues to live and function through the children and grandchildren and the people descending from them. Hence, when a man dies, his soul is gathered to his people. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the rest continue to live in the Jewish people,… This was the immortality of the Jewish people…”. Thus even if individual immortality is denied, ‘collective immortal soul’ of Jewish people stands out very prominently. So, each Jew continues to live within the Jewish people, he/she will continue to live so long as the Jewish people will live.
(b) Jewish people claim that Yahweh chose Abraham to award land (in Palestine-Syria region) for his progeny, and the deal was a perpetual contract. That would be the only case where a chief of an ethnic group was addressed personally by their God. Here comes the notion of supremacy of the ‘chosen people’ using which Jews can easily convince or coerce another God-fearing religious group to draw undue benefits. For the Jewish people, their national destiny entailed occupying the ‘promised land’, and the Judaic nation has centuries to accomplish the goal.
(c) Jewish people were meant to be warrior-looters. As mentioned in Annexure 3, Deuteronomy- Chapter 7 states, “the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and powerful than you…. You shall utterly destroy them; neither shall you make a covenant with them, nor be gracious to them.”
Deuteronomy – Chapter 20 suggests, “You shall strike all its males with the edge of the sword…. However, the women, the children, and the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoils you shall take for yourself, and you shall eat the spoils of your enemies, which the Lord, your God, has given you.,” It may become a valid question, if historians enquires about details of Yahweh, ‘the Jewish king’ and his military tactics!
(d) Judaism is out and out an ideology of a supremacist imperialist tribe. As mentioned in Deuteronomy – Chapter 2, Judaic God urges Jews, “I have begun to deliver Sihon and his land before you; begin to drive him out, that you may inherit his land.”. Jews confirmed that they “we conquered all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed every city, the men, women, and the young children; we left over no survivor.”
Refer to Isaiah – Chapter 2 (given in Annexure 3), which states “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it…. he shall judge between the nations and reprove many peoples,”. Isn’t it the Jewish version of Pax Romana?
Again, Isaiah – Chapter 34 says, “Nations, come near to hear, and kingdoms, hearken… For the Lord has indignation against all the nations and wrath against all their host. He has destroyed them; He has given them to the slaughter… And their slain ones shall be thrown, and their corpses-their stench shall rise, and mountains shall melt from their blood.” . Doesn’t it look like the Jewish version of Timur?
(e) Judaism preached pure unadulterated form of exploitation and plunder from its colonies (other nations). Let’s look into Isaiah – Chapter 60, “your heart shall be startled and become enlarged, for the abundance of the west shall be turned over to you, the wealth of the nations that will come to you… A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah, all of them shall come from Sheba; gold and frankincense they shall carry, and the praises of the Lord they shall report….”
“And foreigners shall build your walls, and their kings shall serve you,… And they shall open your gates always; day and night they shall not be closed, to bring to you the wealth of the nations and their kings in procession …. For the nation and the kingdom that shall not serve you shall perish, and the nations shall be destroyed.”
Let’s look into Isaiah – Chapter 61, “And strangers shall stand and pasture your sheep, and foreigners shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.” Refer to Deuteronomy – Chapter 6, “the Lord, your God, brings you to the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, great and good cities that you did not build … and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant, and you will eat and be satisfied.” Can there be a better description of exploitative slavery-based world empire?
(f) Judaic religion possess no concept of an afterlife. Genesis chapter 3.19 states, “With the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, for you were taken therefrom, for dust you are, and to dust you will return” thereby denying afterlife.
Since Yahweh comes down to earth and personify himself in humankind, Judaism always unfailingly identify itself with this planet. For Jews, being a quintessential Jew is the ONLY form of life, and Judaic God gives rewards and punishment to his followers and detractors right here on this earth.
As a rationalist, I must agree that Jews, by virtue of their unflinching loyalty towards a materialistic supremacist ‘down-to-earth’ religion, has intrinsic strength and endurance which, in presence of cunning and manipulation became an explosive mix for the humanity.
2.4.2 Role of Conversos– Even though, ‘converso’ as a term, identifies only with the Iberian Jewish (Sephardim) conversion into Catholicism, I’m taking a liberty to call all Jewish converts as ‘converso’. 15th century CE onwards, threats of conversion-or-expulsion by the royal court of Spain and Portugal resulted in more than a hundred thousand Jews converting to Catholicism, most of whom continued to ‘Judaize’ secretly. Apart from this, there were a small-sized but regular conversion process for Jews for whom embracing Catholic Christianity would bring lucrative professional opportunities. These ‘New Christians’ called Conversos/Marranos, experienced a tremendous boost to their social and economic status. Marranism Yirmiyahu Yovel noted (refer translation from French edition of L’Aventure marrane. Judaïsme et modernité, Seuil, 2011, pp. 119-120, 149–151.) : “Conversos rushed into Christian society and infiltrated most of its interstices. After one or two generations, they were in the councils of Castile and Aragon, exercising the functions of royal counselors and administrators, commanding the army and navy, and occupying all ecclesiastical offices from parish priest to bishop and cardinal. […] The Conversos were priests and soldiers, politicians and professors, judges and theologians, writers, poets and legal advisors—and of course, as in the past, doctors, accountants and high-flying merchants. Some allied themselves by marriage to the greatest families of Spanish nobility.”
Four years after the Alhambra Decree (in 1492 CE) those Spanish Jews, who had stayed loyal to their Judaic faith and migrated to Portugal, were given the choice conversion-or-death. The mass conversion of Jews in Portugal (after such threat) resulted in ‘New Christians’ making more than 10% of the entire population. Like the earlier instance, most of the Conversos continued to ‘Judaize’ secretly. They soon became the lynchpin of Portugal’s international trade monopolizing the market for commodities like sugar, coffee etc. while substantially contributing to trading in spices, and slaves.
Spain and Portugal crowns pushed ahead with persecution of Jews by introducing the Inquisition. As a result Conversos became more resentful of Catholic kings and the church. Wherever they migrated, they joined movements that would undermine Catholic kings and the church. Conversos staying in Low Countries and USA played a crucial role in the Protestant (Calvinist) movement and Dutch independence struggle. According to Jewish historian Lucien Wolf, “from an early period, the Marranos in Antwerp had taken an active part in the Reformation movement, and had given up their mask of Catholicism for a not less hollow pretense of Calvinism. The change will be readily understood. The simulation of Calvinism brought them new friends, who, like them, were enemies of Rome, Spain and the Inquisition. It helped them in their fight against the Holy Office, and for that reason was very welcome to them. Moreover, it was a form of Christianity which came nearer to their own simple Judaism.”
Conversos, at one hand, were the ‘bridge’ between the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches, at the other hand they acted as the ‘missing link’ between feudal economy and mercantile capitalist economy.
2.4.3 Jewish Enlightenment and emancipation– The Jewish Enlightenment in Europe (termed as Haskalah), like any other socio-cultural phenomenon generated more debate than action. Even it’s geographical spread has been contested. While every scholar agree on Berlin Haskalah led by Moses Mendelssohn becoming a movement for Jews “to come out of the ghetto”, both physically and mentally during second half of 18th century CE, a small section of researchers argue that, such reformation of Jewish society was initiated in Amsterdam in the early decades of 18th century CE.
The Jewish Enlightenment thinkers pursued two objectives – (a) they encouraged the Jews to harmonize and integrate with the surrounding societies and the modern state through study of native vernacular, study of modern subjects, adoption of modern culture and values; (b) they demanded that the Jewish society, as a collective community maintain a distinct unique identity in every state they dwell. These two contradictory agendas and apprehensive rabbinical establishment didn’t allow wide dissemination of works of the two outstanding Jewish philosophers within Jewish communities – Spinoza and Mendelssohn. Spinoza was expelled from the community for so-called anti-Judaic writings about supreme God of humanity, while Mendelssohn is ridiculed even today for his attempt to transcend Judaic tribalism with Jesus’ universal brotherhood and immortality of the individual soul.
Having said that, there were few remarkable achievements of the Haskalah movement. Revival of Hebrew, promoting the modern press, secular culture, limited freedom of thought, etc. were significant gains of the Jewish society. Through his advocacy of religious toleration Mendelssohn contributed substantially for the emancipation of the Jews from prevailing social-political-economic restrictions in German empire. It was in Germany, that the Jewish communal institutions, family networks, individual outlooks, and business interests underwent gradual transformation. However, it is difficult to prove with facts and figures how much structural reorganization happened in the Jewish society or to what extent Jews assimilated with Gentiles.
Strictly speaking, emancipation of Jews began during the 17th century CE as a direct fallout of the Reformation movement, and unlike the case of the Haskalah movement, driver of such process of emancipation was external impetus. So, there had been a continuation of the process of Jew emancipation in the early modern Europe. Between 1600 and 1750 CE, Jewish communities in Italy, and northern regions of Europe were put into privileged status because of their perceived utility in the sphere of banking and trade. Across west Europe, Jews started to enjoy parity in terms of banking, business, and civic amenities – different states provided different degree of parity to Jewish elites and aristocrats. Jewish communities in the Holy Roman Empire enjoyed a high degree of juridical parity. In Poland-Lithuania and France voluntary and mutual contracts recognized the Jewish merchants as an equal partner in the legal contract. However, political parity was never a subject of discussion. With ‘Napoleon’s modernity’ prevailing across west Europe, Jews were optimistic than ever before. Federica Francesconi mentioned about merchant Moisè Formiggini of Modena (northern Italy) in the book ‘Invisible Enlighteners – The Jewish Merchants of Modena’. ‘Delivering a speech in front of the government of Modena after Napoleon’s conquest, in October 1796, Formiggini advocated for full political rights for Jews’ (as “active citizens” responsibility of which included “voting, the ability to hold public office, access to university education, and access to the liberal professions”).
3.1 Hypothesis on Zionist Conspiracy against Christianity
Let me recapitulate the significant milestones and it’s correlations regarding the west European society during the historical period 1096 CE to 1815 CE; I will put it as a schematic diagram as given below:
I would like to present my hypothesis solely based on the factual reading of the history of religion and philosophy in west European society (as presented in this article and schematically depicted in Fig.3.1). Approximately between 10 BCE and 100 CE a group of 12 west Asians (mostly from Jew family background) – Jesus, his brother Andrew, Simon (Peter), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon the Zealot, Judas (son of James) — set out on an arduous journey, to convert a small sect of Judaic community into a monotheist humanist social religion (later on named as Christianity). It was a herculean task to give birth of a new religion with an ideology of universal brotherhood steeped in equality-justice-morality from the womb of a tribal racist revengeful wealth-worshipping religion like Judaism. They were successful in their extremely difficult mission and vision. The Christian New Testament (NT) presented a resounding antithesis of the Jewish Old Testament (OT) philosophy – against OT concept of materialism and land-ownership by tribal chieftain Jesus preached spiritualism and treasures in heaven, against OT teaching of endogamous racial purity NT taught ethnic solidarity and social hierarchy are of no use in the path of salvation, against OT concept of supremacy over all other nation NT propagated entire humanity at same platform!
But, surprisingly, during 4th century CE when the Church clergy met to identify the complete set of scriptures for Christianity, they identified both NT and OT as part of the Holy Bible. That did an unthinkable damage to the nascent religion– the Judaic ideology coloured the Christian scriptures. As mentioned in Wikipedia [refer link🡪 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Bible ], “A Catholic Bible is a Christian Bible that includes the whole 73-book canon recognized by the Catholic Church. …. at the Council of Florence (1431-1449), the Catholic Church formally affirmed their canon of Scripture, which the Council of Trent (1545-1563) definitively settled as consisting of 46 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament for a total of 73 books in the Catholic Bible.”
No doubt, with passage of time, the original (Jesus-inspired) ideals were betrayed time and again by the Catholic church, a few significant ones being (i) as soon as the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) stabilized in 5th century CE with Constantinople as its capital, the Christian clergy based in Rome (the then capital of Eastern Roman Empire which was being taken over by the ‘barbarian’ chieftains) became adamant in creating a hierarchically structured church in which Church at Rome would be supreme institution and pope would be ‘infallible’ paramount leader, (ii) in 1204 CE when the Fourth Crusade Army went on to attack Constantinople and brutally murdered thousands of Orthodox Christians as well as desecrated Orthodox churches, (iii) massacre of tens of thousands of Cathars of southern France between 1209 and 1229 CE by papal persecution, (iv) transformation of the Catholic Church into a corrupt fiscal institution from 11th century onwards through the practices like income taxes and benefice taxes, (v) the Catholic Church strongly influenced the west European drive for ‘gold and god’ in western hemisphere after 1490 CE that resulted in barbaric genocides of aboriginals and looting. Each of these five cases was an anti-thesis of Jesus’s ideals. As per the Anglican priest, Giles Fraser, “what gets forgotten in the celebration of faux medieval community is that this was an era of ecclesiastical authoritarianism and murderous religious intolerance, where power and superstition were fused – not least in the person of the Pope”.
However, in the 16th century, the Reformation movement by Protestants robbed Catholic Christianity of its fundamental (NT based) ideological inheritances – first, Lutheranism removed ‘good work’ as a necessity for salvation, thereby cleansing the vestige of ‘social commitment’ enshrined in Christianity, second, Calvinism, by further introducing the concept of ‘predetermination’ (choice) by God, took away the mass appeal of equality in Christianity. Over and above, the English Puritans ignored NT and preached Moses’ journey as depicted in OT, as the only way for becoming ‘pure Christians’… What else could be said about the ideology of Protestant Christianity other than terming it as ‘Judaism-in-new-attire’?! Finally, with the printing machine churning out millions of copies of the Catholic Bible, it’s a no-brainer to conclude that a devout Catholic would have thoroughly read the Bible and believed that, the gathering of the Jews in the land of Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus. Interestingly, the ‘Enlightenment’ era philosophers with Christian background, generally, avoided taking up serious insightful studies on positive sides like Christian morality, but mostly dealt with only negative sides, such as corruption of the church – more and more Europeans got disillusioned about Christianity. As a result, greed, lust, and cruelty became the norm of west European societies – no wonder, industrial capitalism reigned supreme in economy and society after 1700 CE.
Thus, my hypothesis stands as: as soon as the founding fathers of Christianity passed away, the coordination stage at the church at Rome was partially occupied by the same Judaic ‘religious aristocracy’ (against whom Jesus fought and gave his life). They pushed the Judaic ideological scriptures of OT to be included to Christian scriptures (as a gift-filled Trojan horse). The then Jewish religious and business oligarchy wanted to undermine the new religion, in a way that would be visible only in the long run – they sabotaged the new religion by making the Judaic ideology an integral part of Christian scriptures! If future generations of the followers of the great humanist rebel Jesus continue to read the Judaic OT scriptures and believe in the Judaic hatred and supremacist outlook (which was opposed by Jesus and his companions tooth and nail) thereby accepting metaphysical supremacy of OT Judaism as well as supremacy of Jewish ‘race’, and, what would happen to the ideology of Christianity (that was essentially, antithesis to the Judaic ideology)? Slowly but surely, Christianity will lose the vivacity and end up being a lame follower of Judaism. 1500 years after Jesus’s struggle against aristocratic repression and exploitation, the core tenets of ideology as well as basic faith of Christianity started to get heavily stained with those ‘Judaic colours’ (i.e. Old Testament) coordinated by the Protestant clergy! Enlightenment finally hit Christianity where it hurt most – enlightened philosophers questioned about spiritualism and suggested only materialistic processes should drive the society. That is exactly the essence of Judaism, the OT. Imbibed with Judaic ideology, the west European (Christian and Jewish) oligarchy based in both sides of Atlantic Ocean during the 18th to 20th century CE had no qualms of converting almost entire world into zone of plunder and exploitation – as Isaiah 60-16 states, “You shall suck the milk of nations, you shall suck the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” In a most penetrating analysis, Karl Marx wrote in his book ‘On the Jewish Question’ published in 1843 CE, “The Jew has emancipated himself in a Jewish manner, not only because he has acquired financial power, but also because, through him and also apart from him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian nations. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians (non-Orthodox – added by the author) have become Jews.” In recent times, Pope Francis reminded the world that, “Inside every Christian is a Jew”.
At this point, I guess, there won’t be a dearth of readers and researchers who would like to call me a ‘conspiracy theorist’. I would like to remind them that, conspiracies were/are an integral part of history of civilization. And, the Zionist conspiracy mentioned above appears to me as the most far-reaching conspiracy in the history of humankind!!
3.2 What about the Exceptions?
A question looms on the horizon – since my hypothesis (mentioned above) missed Orthodox Christianity altogether, how to account for that? Surely, Orthodox Christianity (historically, the oldest church) established in east Europe also shares the same Christian scriptures, but any astute reader of history will conclude that, neither the Orthodox Church nor the rulers of Orthodox kingdoms/empires in east Europe behaved in similar fashion as Catholic Church and rulers of Catholic kingdoms did. And, it was not that the Orthodox kingdoms lacked power – actually, between 17th and 19th century the Russian empire was more powerful than the combined forces of west European kingdoms! Hence, solely based on the historical facts (of east Europe, which has not been described in this article) it can be stated that Orthodox Christianity has always been an exception. There would be many reasons, which should be explored – may be, the explanation of scriptures, the belief and lifestyle of Church clergy, the understanding of the followers, etc. have been remarkably different in the east Europe. ‘The Saker’ is the most ideal web-based research centre, that may probe how Orthodox Christianity remained a religion which valued humanity, empathy, and justice (as envisioned by Jesus) even if they also follow almost same set of scriptures as done by other branches of Christianity.
(a) Second Lateran Council held in 1139 CE
“We prohibit, by apostolic authority, that the tithes of churches be possessed by lay people where canonical authority shows these were assigned for religious purposes. For whether they accept them from bishops or kings, or any person whatsoever, let them know that they are committing the crime of sacrilege and incurring the threat of eternal damnation, unless they hand them back to the church.”
“We also prescribe that priests, clerics, monks, pilgrims, merchants and peasants, in their coming and going and their work on the land, and the animals with which they plough and carry seeds to the fields, and their sheep, be left in peace at all times.”
“We decree that the truce is to be inviolably observed by all from sunset on Wednesday until sunrise on Monday, and from Advent until the octave of the Epiphany, and from Quinquagesima until the octave of Easter. If anyone tries to break the truce, and he does not comply after the third warning, let his bishop pronounce sentence of excommunication on him….”
“Furthermore, we condemn that practice accounted despicable and blameworthy by divine and human laws, denounced by Scripture in the old and new Testaments, namely, the ferocious greed of usurers; and we sever them from every comfort of the church, forbidding any archbishop or bishop, or an abbot of any order whatever or anyone in clerical orders, to dare to receive usurers, unless they do so with extreme caution; but let them be held infamous throughout their whole lives and, unless they repent, be deprived of a christian burial.”
“In the same way we have decided to legislate that if anyone, at the instigation of the devil, incurs the guilt of the following sacrilege, that is, to lay violent hands on a cleric or a monk, he is to be subject to the bond of anathema; and let no bishop presume to absolve such a person unless he is in immediate danger of death, until he has been presented before the apostolic See and submits to its decision. We also prescribe that nobody dare to lay hands on those who flee to a church or cemetery. If anyone does this, let him be excommunicated.”
“As is right, we do not deny to kings and princes the power to dispense justice, in consultation with the archbishops and bishops.”
(b) Fourth Lateran Council held in 1215 CE
Decree 3. On Heretics
“We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy raising itself up against this holy, orthodox and catholic faith which we have expounded above. We condemn all heretics, whatever names they may go under. They have different faces indeed but their tails are tied together inasmuch as they are alike in their pride. Let those condemned be handed over to the secular authorities present, or to their bailiffs, for due punishment….
Moreover, we determine to subject to excommunication believers who receive, defend or support heretics…”
Decree 18. Clerics to dissociate from shedding-blood
“No cleric may decree or pronounce a sentence involving the shedding of blood, or carry out a punishment involving the same, or be present when such punishment is carried out. If anyone, however, under cover of this statute, dares to inflict injury on churches or ecclesiastical persons, let him be restrained by ecclesiastical censure. A cleric may not write or dictate letters which require punishments involving the shedding of blood, in the courts of princes this responsibility should be entrusted to laymen and not to clerics. Moreover no cleric may be put in command of mercenaries or crossbowmen or suchlike men of blood…”
Decree 21. On yearly confession
“All the faithful of either sex, after they have reached the age of discernment, should individually confess all their sins in a faithful manner to their own priest at least once a year, and let them take care to do what they can to perform the penance imposed on them. Let them reverently receive the sacrament of the eucharist at least at Easter unless they think, for a good reason and on the advice of their own priest, that they should abstain from receiving it for a time. Otherwise they shall be barred from entering a church during their lifetime and they shall be denied a christian burial at death.”
Decree 39. On knowingly receiving stolen goods
“It often happens, when a person has been unjustly robbed and the object has been transferred by the robber to a third party, that he is not helped by an action of restitution against the new possessor because he has lost the advantage of possession, and he loses in effect the right of ownership on account of the difficulty of proving his case. We therefore decree, notwithstanding the force of civil law, that if anyone henceforth knowingly receives such a thing, then the one robbed shall be favoured by his being awarded restitution against the one in possession.”
Decree 38. Written records of trials to be kept
“An innocent litigant can never prove the truth of his denial of a false assertion made by an unjust judge, since a denial by the nature of things does not constitute a direct proof. We therefore decree, lest falsehood prejudice truth or wickedness prevail over justice, that in both ordinary and extraordinary trials the judge shall always employ either a public official, if he can find one, or two suitable men to write down faithfully all the judicial acts — that is to say the citations, adjournments, objections and exceptions, petitions and replies, interrogations, confessions, depositions of witnesses, productions of documents, interlocutions, appeals, renunciations, final decisions and the other things that ought to be written down in the correct order — stating the places, times and persons.”
Decree 42. Clerics and laity are not to usurp each others rights
“Just as we desire lay people not to usurp the rights of clerics, so we ought to wish clerics not to lay claim to the rights of the laity. We therefore forbid every cleric henceforth to extend his jurisdiction, under pretext of ecclesiastical freedom, to the prejudice of secular justice. Rather, let him be satisfied with the written constitutions and customs hitherto approved, so that the things of Caesar may be rendered unto Caesar, and the things of God may be rendered unto God by a right distribution.”
Decree 46. Taxes cannot be levied on the Church
“The Lateran council, wishing to provide for the immunity of the church against officials and governors of cities and other persons who seek to oppress churches and churchmen with tallages and taxes and other exactions, forbade such presumption under pain of anathema. It ordered transgressors and their supporters to be excommunicated until they made adequate satisfaction.”
Decree 53. On those who give their fields to others to be cultivated so as to avoid tithes
“In some regions there are intermingled certain peoples who by custom, in accordance with their own rites, do not pay tithes, even though they are counted as christians. Some landlords assign their lands to them so that these lords may obtain greater revenues, by cheating the churches of the tithes. Wishing therefore to provide for the security of churches in these matters, we decree that when lords make over their lands to such persons in this way for cultivation, the lords must pay the tithes to the churches in full and without objection, and if necessary they shall be compelled to do so by ecclesiastical censure.”
Decree 54. Tithes should be paid before taxes
“Since the Lord has reserved tithes unto himself as a sign of his universal lordship, by a certain special title as it were, we decree, wishing to prevent injury to churches and danger to souls, that in virtue of this general lordship the payment of tithes shall precede the exaction of dues and rents, or at least those who receive untithed rents and dues shall be forced by ecclesiastical censure, seeing that a thing carries with it its burden, to tithe them for the churches to which by right they are due”
Decree 55. Tithes are to be paid on lands acquired, notwithstanding privileges
“We therefore decree that on lands assigned to others and on future acquisitions, even if they cultivate them with their own hands or at their own expense, they shall pay tithes to the churches which previously received the tithes from the lands, unless they decide to compound in another way with the churches.”
“The more the christian religion is restrained from usurious practices, so much the more does the perfidy of the Jews grow in these matters, so that within a short time they are exhausting the resources of Christians. Wishing therefore to see that Christians are not savagely oppressed by Jews in this matter, we ordain by this synodal decree that if Jews in future, on any pretext, extort oppressive and excessive interest from Christians, then they are to be removed from contact with Christians until they have made adequate satisfaction for the immoderate burden.”
Decree 68. Jews appearing in public
“A difference of dress distinguishes Jews or Saracens from Christians in some provinces, but in others a certain confusion has developed so that they are indistinguishable. Whence it sometimes happens that by mistake Christians join with Jewish or Saracen women, and Jews or Saracens with christian women. In order that the offence of such a damnable mixing may not spread further, under the excuse of a mistake of this kind, we decree that such persons of either sex, in every christian province and at all times, are to be distinguished in public from other people by the character of their dress”
Decree 69. Jews not to hold public offices
“we forbid Jews to be appointed to public offices, since under cover of them they are very hostile to Christians. If, however, anyone does commit such an office to them let him, after an admonition, be curbed by the provincial council, which we order to be held annually, by means of an appropriate sanction. Any official so appointed shall be denied commerce with Christians in business and in other matters until he has converted to the use of poor Christians, in accordance with the directions of the diocesan bishop,”
Decree 70. Jewish converts may not retain their old rite
“Certain people who have come voluntarily to the waters of sacred baptism, as we learnt, do not wholly cast off the old person in order to put on the new more perfectly. For, in keeping remnants of their former rite, they upset the decorum of the christian religion by such a mixing. Since it is written, cursed is he who enters the land by two paths, and a garment that is woven from linen and wool together should not be put on, we therefore decree that such people shall be wholly prevented by the prelates of churches from observing their old rite, so that those who freely offered themselves to the christian religion may be kept to its observance by a salutary and necessary coercion.”
(c) Second Council of Lyons held in 1274 CE
Decree 22. On not alienating the property of the church
“By this well-considered decree we forbid each and every prelate to submit, subject or subordinate the churches entrusted to him, their immovable property or rights, to lay people without the consent of his chapter and the special leave of the apostolic see. It is not a question of granting the property or rights in emphyteusis or otherwise alienating them in the form and in the cases permitted by the law. What is forbidden is the establishment or recognition of these laity as superiors from whom the property and rights are held, or making them the protectors, an arrangement which is called in the vernacular of certain places “to avow”, that is, the laity are appointed patrons or advocates of the churches or their property, either perpetually or for a long period. We decree that all such contracts of alienation, even when fortified by oath, penalty or any other confirmation, which are made without the above leave and consent, and any consequences of these contracts, are entirely null”
Decree 25. On the immunity of churches
“Holiness befits the house of the Lord; it is fitting that he whose abode has been established in peace should be worshipped in peace and with due reverence…
No more business is to be conducted in churches or their cemeteries, especially they are not to have the bustle of markets and public squares. All noise of secular courts must be stilled. The laity are not to hold their trials in churches, more especially criminal cases…”
Decree 26. On usury
“ Wishing to close up the abyss of usury, which devours souls and swallows up property, we order under threat of the divine malediction that the constitution of the Lateran council against usurers be inviolably observed. Since the less convenient it is for usurers to lend, the more their freedom to practise usury is curtailed, we ordain by this general constitution as follows. Neither a college, nor other community, nor an individual person, of whatever dignity, condition or status, may permit those foreigners and others not originating from their territories, who practise usury or wish to do so, to rent houses for that purpose or to occupy rented houses or to live elsewhere. Rather, they must expel all such notorious usurers from their territories within three months, never to admit any such for the future. Nobody is to let houses to them for usury, nor grant them houses under any other title”
“Although notorious usurers give orders in their wills that restitution be made for their usurious gains, either in express terms or in general, ecclesiastical burial is nevertheless to be refused until full restitution has been made as far as the usurer’s means allow, or until a pledge has been given of fitting restitution. This pledge is to be given to those to whom restitution is due, if they themselves or others who can receive for them are present. If they are absent, the pledge is to be given to the local ordinary or his vicar or the rector of the parish where the testator lives, in the presence of trustworthy persons from the parish (the ordinary, vicar and rector, as just mentioned, shall have permission to receive such pledge in their name by authority of the present constitution, so that these ecclesiastics have the right to action).”
(d) Council of Vienne held in 1311 CE (Avignon papacy)
“There are religious who presume to usurp by cunning fraud, or under a feigned title, tithes on newly tilled land or other tithes owing to churches, to which they have no legal claim, or who do not permit or even forbid tithes to be paid to the churches on animals belonging to their familiars and shepherds or others whose animals intermingle with their flocks, or on animals which they buy in many places and then hand over to the keeping of sellers or others, thus defrauding the churches, or on land the cultivation of which they have entrusted to others. If such religious, after claim has been made by those whom it concerns, do not desist within a month from the above practices, or if they do not make fitting satisfaction to the defrauded churches within two months, they are and remain suspended from their offices, administrative posts and benefices until they have desisted and made satisfaction, as stated above.”
“If a tithe on the benefices of anyone be granted for a time, the tithe can and should be raised in accordance with the customary valuing of the tithe in the regions in which the grant is made, and in the money generally current.”
“It happens now and then that those in charge of hospices, leper-houses almshouses or hospitals disregard the care of such places and fail to loosen the hold of those who have usurped the goods, possessions and rights of these places. They indeed permit them to slip and be lost completely and the buildings to fall into ruin. They have no care that these places were founded and endowed by the faithful so that the poor and lepers might find a home and be supported by the revenues. They have the barbarity to refuse this charity, criminally turning the revenues to their own use, even though that which has been given by the faithful for a certain purpose should, except by authority of the apostolic see, be applied to that purpose and no other.”
“We desire earnestly that holy church should be well supplied with catholic scholars acquainted with the languages most in use by unbelievers. These scholars should know how to train unbelievers in the christian way of life, and to make them members of the christian body through instruction in the faith and reception of sacred baptism.
In order, then, that skill in these languages be attained by suitable instruction, we have stipulated, with the approval of the sacred council, that schools be established for the following languages wherever the Roman curia happens to reside and also at Paris, Oxford, Bologna and Salamanca: that is, we decree that in each of these places there should be catholic scholars with adequate knowledge of Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldaic.”
“It is an insult to the holy name and a disgrace to the christian faith that in certain parts of the world subject to christian princes where Saracens live, sometimes apart, sometimes intermingled with Christians, the Saracen priests commonly called Zabazala, in their temples or mosques, in which the Saracens meet to adore the infidel Mahomet, loudly invoke and extol his name each day at certain hours from a high place, in the hearing of both Christians and Saracens and there make public declarations in his honour. There is a place, moreover, where once was buried a certain Saracen whom other Saracens venerate as a saint. A great number of Saracens flock there quite openly from far and near. This brings disrepute on our faith and gives great scandal to the faithful. These practices cannot be tolerated any further without displeasing the divine majesty. We therefore, with the sacred council’s approval, strictly forbid such practices henceforth in christian lands.”
“Serious suggestions have been made to us that communities in certain places, to the divine displeasure and injury of the neighbour, in violation of both divine and human law, approve of usury. By their statutes, sometimes confirmed by oath, they not only grant that usury may be demanded and paid, but deliberately compel debtors to pay it. By these statutes they impose heavy burdens on those claiming the return of usurious payments, employing also various pretexts and ingenious frauds to hinder the return. We, therefore, wishing to get rid of these pernicious practices, decree with the approval of the sacred council that all the magistrates, captains, rulers, consuls, judges, counsellors or any other officials of these communities who presume in the future to make, write or dictate such statutes, or knowingly decide that usury be paid or, if paid, that it be not fully and freely restored when claimed, incur the sentence of excommunication. They shall also incur the same sentence unless within three months they delete from the books of their communities, if they have the power, statutes of this kind hitherto published, or if they presume to observe in any way these statutes or customs…”
“Grave complaint has been made to us by prelates that certain nobles and temporal lords, when their territory has been laid under ecclesiastical interdict, have masses and other divine offices celebrated publicly and solemnly not only in the chapels of their houses, but also in collegiate churches and other churches of prominent places. They invite and, what is worse, sometimes compel now these, now those, to celebrate the offices….
In order, then, that excesses so grave may not be imitated because the transgressors are left unpunished, we excommunicate, with the approval of the sacred council, all those who shall presume to compel anyone in any way in places under interdict to celebrate the divine offices, or to summon people in the above way to hear them, especially those under excommunication…”
(e) Council of Florence held in 1431 CE
Session 19 – Decree on Jews and neophytes
“This holy synod following in the footsteps of our saviour Jesus Christ, desires in deepest charity that all may acknowledge the truth of the gospel and thereafter abide in it faithfully. By these salutary instructions it desires to provide measures whereby Jews and other infidels may be converted to the orthodox faith and converts may remain steadfastly in it. It therefore decrees that all diocesan bishops should depute persons well trained in scripture, several times a year, in the places where Jews and other infidels live, to preach and expound the truth of the catholic faith in such a way that the infidels who hear it can recognise their errors. They should compel infidels of both sexes who have reached the age of discretion, to attend these sermons under pain both of being excluded from business dealings with the faithful and of other apposite penalties.…..
Furthermore, renewing the sacred canons, we command both diocesan bishops and secular powers to prohibit in every way Jews and other infidels from having Christians, male or female, in their households and service, or as nurses of their children; and Christians from joining with them in festivities, marriages, banquets or baths, or in much conversation, and from taking them as doctors or agents of marriages or officially appointed mediators of other contracts. They should not be given other public offices, or admitted to any academic degrees, or allowed to have on lease lands or other ecclesiastical rents. They are to be forbidden to buy ecclesiastical books, chalices, crosses and other ornaments of churches under pain of the loss of the object, or to accept them in pledge under pain of the loss of the money that they lent. They are to be compelled, under severe penalties, to wear some garment whereby they can be clearly distinguished from Christians. In order to prevent too much intercourse, they should be made to dwell in areas, in the cities and towns, which are apart from the dwellings of Christians and as far distant as possible from churches. On Sundays and other solemn festivals they should not dare to have their shops open or to work in public.…”
Session 19 – Decree about those who desire conversion to the faith
“If any of them wishes to be converted to the catholic faith, all his goods, both movable and immovable, shall remain intact and unharmed in his possession. But if his goods were acquired by usury or illicit dealings, and the persons to whom restitution ought to be made are known, it is absolutely necessary that this restitution be made, since the sin is not forgiven unless the illegal object is restored. However, if these persons are no longer an issue because the church has turned the goods to pious uses, this holy synod, acting for the universal church, grants in favour of the baptism received that the goods should remain with the church as a pious use, and it forbids both ecclesiastics and secular persons, under pain of divine anathema, to cause or allow to be caused any vexation on this count under any pretext whatsoever, but they should regard it as a great gain to have won such persons for Christ. Moreover since, as it is written, if anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him ?, this holy synod through the tender mercy of God exhorts all, both ecclesiastics and secular persons, to stretch out helping hands to such converts if they are poor or in need at the time of their conversion. Bishops should exhort Christians to aid these converts and should themselves support them from the income of churches, as far as they can, and from what passes through their hands for the benefit of the poor, and they should defend them with fatherly solicitude from detraction and invective…
Since experience shows that social communication between converts renders them weaker in our faith, and has been found to damage much their salvation, this holy synod exhorts local ordinaries to exercise care and zeal that they are married to born-Christians, in so far as this seems to promote an increase of the faith….”
Session 23 – Decree on Form of consent
“After the solemnities of his coronation, and each year after the anniversary of his election, the supreme pontiff shall carefully discuss with his brethren, for at least eight consecutive days, how he shall carry out his solemn promises to God. In the first place, therefore, he should examine where in the world the christian religion is being persecuted by Turks, Saracens, Tartars and other infidels; where heresy or schism or any form of superstition flourishes, in which provinces there has been a decline in morals and observance of the divine precepts and in the right way of living, in both ecclesiastical and secular matters, where ecclesiastical liberty is infringed; among which kings, princes and peoples enmity, wars and fears of war are rife; and like a dutiful father he should strive with his brethren carefully to provide remedies….
Next, let him reflect carefully with the same brethren on the good and wholesome administration of the temporalities of the Roman church and let him ensure that the provinces, cities, towns, castles and lands subject to the Roman church are justly and peacefully ruled with such moderation that the difference between government by ecclesiastics and by secular princes is like that between a father and a master. He should not aim at gain, but cherishing all with paternal charity he should esteem them not as subjects but as sons and daughters. Since he has charge of their spiritual and temporal well-being, he must watch to get rid of all factions and seditious groups — especially of Guelphs and Ghibellines and other similar parties — which breed destruction to both souls and bodies. He must strive, employing spiritual and temporal penalties of all possible kinds, to remove all causes of dissension and to keep people united for the defence of the church. To govern the provinces and chief cities, he should appoint cardinals or prelates of untarnished reputation who will seek not financial gain but justice and peace for their subjects. Their legation shall last for two, or at most three, years. When their legation has ended, since it is right that each one should give an account of his stewardship, one or more outstanding men shall be appointed to review their administration and to hear the complaints and petitions of the inhabitants and to render justice; these shall refer what they cannot easily effect to the pope, and he shall strive to find out what the former have done and to punish any illegal actions, so that their successors may learn from their example to avoid illegalities. Officials should be allotted a suitable salary on which they can live honestly, to prevent them turning their hand to what is illicit.
In accordance with the constitution of Pope Nicholas IV, the holy synod decrees that half of all fruits, revenues, proceeds, fines, penalties and taxes deriving from all the lands and places subject to the Roman church belongs to the cardinals of the holy Roman church, and that the institution and dismissal of all rulers and governors and guardians, howsoever they may be called, who are in charge of the aforesaid lands and places, and also of the collectors of the said fruits, should be made with the advice and agreement of the cardinals
(f) Fifth Lateran Council held in 1512 CE
Session 10 – Decree on the reform of credit organisations (Montes pietatis)
“… Indeed, we have learnt that among some of our dear sons who were masters in theology and doctors of civil and canon law, there has recently broken out again a particular controversy, not without scandal and disquiet for ordinary people, with regard to the relief of the poor by means of loans made to them by public authorities. They are popularly called credit organisations and have been set up in many cities of Italy by the magistrates of the cities and by other Christians, to assist by this kind of loan the lack of resources among the poor lest they be swallowed up by the greed of usurers….
Some of these masters and doctors say that the credit organisations are unlawful. After a fixed period of time has passed, they say, those attached to these organisations demand from the poor to whom they make a loan so much per pound in addition to the capital sum. For this reason they cannot avoid the crime of usury or injustice, that is to say a clearly defined evil, since our Lord, according to Luke the evangelist, has bound us by a clear command that we ought not to expect any addition to the capital sum when we grant a loan. For, that is the real meaning of usury: when, from its use, a thing which produces nothing is applied to the acquiring of gain and profit without any work, any expense or any risk.….
But many other masters and doctors say the opposite and, both in writing and in speech, unite in speaking in many of the schools in Italy in defence of so great a benefit and one so necessary to the state, on the grounds that nothing is being sought nor hoped for from the loan as such. Nevertheless, they argue, for the compensation of the organisations — that is, to defray the expenses of those employed and of all the things necessarily pertaining to the upkeep of the said organisations — they may lawfully ask and receive, in addition to the capital, a moderate and necessary sum from those deriving benefit from the loan, provided that no profit is made therefrom.…..
… Since, therefore, this whole question appears to concern the peace and tranquility of the whole christian state, we declare and define, with the approval of the sacred council, that the above-mentioned credit organisations, established by states and hitherto approved and confirmed by the authority of the apostolic see, do not introduce any kind of evil or provide any incentive to sin if they receive, in addition to the capital, a moderate sum for their expenses and by way of compensation, provided it is intended exclusively to defray the expenses of those employed and of other things pertaining (as mentioned) to the upkeep of the organisations, and provided that no profit is made therefrom.”
Session 10 – Decree on printing books
“…It is certainly possible to obtain without difficulty some learning by reading books. The skill of book-printing has been invented, or rather improved and perfected, with God’s assistance, particularly in our time. Without doubt it has brought many benefits to men and women since, at small expense, it is possible to possess a great number of books. These permit minds to devote themselves very readily to scholarly studies. Thus there can easily result, particularly among Catholics, men competent in all kinds of languages; and we desire to see in the Roman church, in good supply, men of this type who are capable of instructing even unbelievers in the holy commandments, and of gathering them for their salvation into the body of the faithful by the teaching of the christian faith….
We therefore establish and ordain that henceforth, for all future time, no one may dare to print or have printed any book or other writing of whatever kind in Rome or in any other cities and dioceses, without the book or writings having first been closely examined, at Rome by our vicar and the master of the sacred palace, in other cities and dioceses by the bishop or some other person who knows about the printing of books and writings of this kind and who has been delegated to this office by the bishop in question….”
Session 12 – Decree Against those attacking the houses of cardinals
“…Certain audacious persons disdain to show the appropriate deference to the cardinals of the holy Roman church, who are the chief pillars of the catholic church… Indeed, there has recently grown up in Rome a damnable abuse and lack of restraint in wrongdoing. Thus, while there is a vacancy in the apostolic see, and the election of a future Roman pontiff is actually being discussed by the cardinals in conclave, if some rumour leaks out, even if false, that one of the cardinals has been elected as pontiff, the mob attacks his house with arms and contends by force with his servant-guards, while he is still in the conclave, over the despoiling of his house . If an entry is forced by breaking down the doors or digging under the wall, the mob rushes in to plunder all the goods that are there, unless a defence is made by armed guards…
We wish to suppress audacious tendencies of this kind by fitting punishments…”
(a) Papal Bull “Quantum praedecessores” issued by Pope Eugenius III on December 1, 1145 CE
How much our predecessors the Roman pontiffs did labour for the deliverance of the oriental church, we have learned from the accounts of the ancients and have found it written in their acts. For our predecessor of blessed memory, pope Urban, did sound, as it were, a celestial trump and did take care to arouse for its deliverance the sons of the holy Roman church from the different parts of the earth. At his voice, indeed, those beyond the mountain and especially the bravest and strongest warriors of the French kingdom, and also those of Italy, inflamed by the ardour of love did come together, and, congregating a very great army, not without much shedding of their own blood, the divine aid being with them, did free from the filth of the pagans that city where our Saviour willed to suffer for us, and where He left His glorious sepulchre to us as a memorial of His passion, -and many others which, avoiding prolixity, we refrain from mentioning.
Which, by the grace of God, and the zeal of your fathers, who at intervals of time have striven to the extent of their power to defend them and to spread the name of Christ in those parts, have been retained by the Christians up to this day; and other cities of the infidels have by them been manfully stormed. But now, our sins and those of the people themselves requiring it, a thing which we can not relate without great grief and wailing, the city of Edessa which in our tongue is called Rohais,-which also, as is said, once when the whole land in the east was held by the pagans, alone by herself served God under the power of the Christians-has been taken and many, of the castles of the Christians occupied by them (the pagans). The archbishop, moreover, of this same city, together with his clergy and many other Christians, have there been slain, and the relics of the saints have been given over to the trampling under foot of the infidels, and dispersed. Whereby how great a danger threatens the church of God and the whole of Christianity, we both know ourselves and do not believe it to be hid from your prudence. For it is known that it will be the greatest proof of nobility and probity, if those things which the bravery of your fathers acquired be bravely defended by you the sons. But if it should happen otherwise, which God forbid, the valour of the fathers will be found to have diminished in the case the of the sons.
We exhort therefore all of you in God, we ask and command, and, for the remission of sins enjoin: that those who are of God, and, above all, the greater men and the nobles do manfully gird themselves; and that you strive so to oppose the multitude of the infidels, who rejoice at the time in a victory gained over us, and so to defend the oriental church -freed from their tyranny by so great an outpouring of the blood of your fathers, as we have said, – and to snatch many thousands of your captive brothers from their hands,- that the dignity of the Christian name may be increased in your time, and that your valour which is praised throughout the whole world, may remain intact and unshaken. May that good Matthias be an example to you, who, to preserve the laws of his fathers, did not in the least doubt to expose himself with his sons and relations to death, and to leave whatever he possessed in the world; and who at length, by the help of the divine aid, after many labours however, did, as well as his progeny, manfully triumph over his enemies.
We, moreover, providing with paternal solicitude for your tranquillity and for the destitution of that same church, do grant and confirm by the authority conceded to us of God, to those who by the promptings of devotion do decide to undertake and to carry through so holy and so necessary a work and labour, that remission of sins which our aforesaid predecessor pope Urban did institute; and do decree that their wives and sons, their goods also and possessions shall remain under the protection of our selves and of the archbishops, bishops and other prelates of the church of God. By the apostolic authority, moreover, we forbid that, in the case of any thing, which they possessed in peace, when they took the cross, any suit be brought hereafter until most certain news has been obtained concerning their return or their death. Moreover since those who war for the Lord should by no means prepare themselves with precious garments, nor with provision for their personal appearance, nor with dogs or hawks , other things which portend licentiousness: we exhort your prudence in the Lord that those who have decided to undertake so holy a work shall not strive after these things, but shall show zeal and diligence with all their strength in the matter of arms, horses and other things with which they may fight the infidels. But those who are oppressed by debt and begin so holy a journey with a pure heart, shall not pay interest for the time past, and if they or n t others for them are bound by an oath or pledge i ‘ he matter of interest, we absolve them by apostolic authority. It is allowed to them also when their relations, being warned, or the lords to whose fee they belong, are either unwilling or unable to advance them the money, to freely pledge without any reclamation, their lands or other possessions to churches, or ecclesiastical persons, or to any other of the faithful. According to the institution of our aforesaid predecessor, by the authority of almighty God and by that of St. Peter the chief of the apostles, conceded to us by God, we grant such remission and absolution of sins, that he who shall devoutly begin so sacred a journey and shall accomplish it, or shall die during it, shall obtain absolution for all his sins which with a humble and contrite heart he shall confess, and shall receive the fruit of eternal retribution from the Remunerator of all.
(b) Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493 CE
“… We have indeed learned that you, who for a long time had intended to seek out and discover certain islands and mainlands remote and unknown and not hitherto discovered by others, to the end that you might bring to the worship of our Redeemer and the profession of the Catholic faith their residents and inhabitants, having been up to the present time greatly engaged in the siege and recovery of the kingdom itself of Granada were unable to accomplish this holy and praiseworthy purpose; but the said kingdom having at length been regained, as was pleasing to the Lord, you, with the wish to fulfill your desire, chose our beloved son, Christopher Columbus, a man assuredly worthy and of the highest recommendations and fitted for so great an undertaking, whom you furnished with ships and men equipped for like designs, not without the greatest hardships, dangers, and expenses, to make diligent quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands through the sea, where hitherto no one had sailed; and they at length, with divine aid and with the utmost diligence sailing in the ocean sea, discovered certain very remote islands and even mainlands that hitherto had not been discovered by others; wherein dwell very many peoples living in peace, and, as reported, going unclothed, and not eating flesh. Moreover, as your aforesaid envoys are of opinion, these very peoples living in the said islands and countries believe in one God, the Creator in heaven, and seem sufficiently disposed to embrace the Catholic faith and be trained in good morals. And it is hoped that, were they instructed, the name of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, would easily be introduced into the said countries and islands. Also, on one of the chief of these aforesaid islands the said Christopher has already caused to be put together and built a fortress fairly equipped, wherein he has stationed as garrison certain Christians, companions of his, who are to make search for other remote and unknown islands and mainlands. In the islands and countries already discovered are found gold, spices, and very many other precious things of divers kinds and qualities. Wherefore, as becomes Catholic kings and princes, after earnest consideration of all matters, especially of the rise and spread of the Catholic faith, as was the fashion of your ancestors, kings of renowned memory, you have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith. Hence, heartily commending in the Lord this your holy and praiseworthy purpose, and desirous that it be duly accomplished, and that the name of our Savior be carried into those regions, we exhort you very earnestly in the Lord and by your reception of holy baptism, whereby you are bound to our apostolic commands, and by the bowels of the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, enjoy strictly, that inasmuch as with eager zeal for the true faith you design to equip and despatch this expedition, you purpose also, as is your duty, to lead the peoples dwelling in those islands and countries to embrace the Christian religion; nor at any time let dangers or hardships deter you therefrom, with the stout hope and trust in your hearts that Almighty God will further your undertakings. And, in order that you may enter upon so great an undertaking with greater readiness and heartiness endowed with benefit of our apostolic favor, we, of our own accord, not at your instance nor the request of anyone else in your regard, but out of our own sole largess and certain knowledge and out of the fullness of our apostolic power, by the authority of Almighty God conferred upon us in blessed Peter and of the vicarship of Jesus Christ, which we hold on earth, do by tenor of these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors, kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions, cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and appurtenances, all islands and mainlands found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole, namely the north, to the Antarctic pole, namely the south, no matter whether the said mainlands and islands are found and to be found in the direction of India or towards any other quarter, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the west and south from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and Cape Verde. With this proviso however that none of the islands and mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, beyond that said line towards the west and south, be in the actual possession of any Christian king or prince up to the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ just past from which the present year one thousand four hundred ninety-three begins. And we make, appoint, and depute you and your said heirs and successors lords of them with full and free power, authority, and jurisdiction of every kind; with this proviso however, that by this our gift, grant, and assignment no right acquired by any Christian prince, who may be in actual possesssion of said islands and mainlands prior to the said birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, is hereby to be understood to be withdrawn or taking away. Moreover we command you in virtue of holy obedience that, employing all due diligence in the premises, as you also promise–nor do we doubt your compliance therein in accordance with your loyalty and royal greatness of spirit–you should appoint to the aforesaid mainlands and islands worthy, God-fearing, learned, skilled, and expeienced men, in order to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents in the Catholic faith and train them in good morals….”
(a) Quotes from Deuteronomy, The Pentateuch (Torah)
24. Get up, journey, and cross the river Arnon. Behold, I have delivered into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: Begin to possess it, and provoke him to war.
25. Today I will begin to put the dread of you and the fear of you upon the nations that are under the entire heaven, who will hear reports of you and shake and be in trepidation because of you.
26. So I sent messengers from the desert of Kedemoth to Sihon, king of Heshbon, with words of peace, saying,
27. “Allow me to pass through your land: I will go along by the highway, I will turn neither to the right nor to the left.”
28. You shall sell me food for money, that I may eat; and give to me water for money, that I may drink; I will only pass through by my feet.
29. Just as the children of Esau who dwell in Seir, and the Moabites who dwell in Ar, did for me; until I cross the Jordan to the land which the Lord our God is giving us.”
30. But Sihon, king of Heshbon, did not wish to let us pass by him, for the Lord your God caused his spirit to be hardened and his heart to be obstinate, in order that He would give him into your hand, as this day.
31. And the Lord said to me, “Behold I have begun to deliver Sihon and his land before you; begin to drive him out, that you may inherit his land.”
32. Then Sihon went forth towards us, he and all his people, to war at Jahzah.
33. And the Lord our God delivered him to us; and we smote him and his sons and all his people.
34. And we conquered all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed every city, the men, women, and the young children; we left over no survivor.
35. Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves with the spoil of the cities which we had taken.
10. And it will be, when the Lord, your God, brings you to the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, great and good cities that you did not build
11. and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant, and you will eat and be satisfied.
1. When the Lord, your God, brings you into the land to which you are coming to possess it, He will cast away many nations from before you: the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and powerful than you.
2. And the Lord, your God, will deliver them to you, and you shall smite them. You shall utterly destroy them; neither shall you make a covenant with them, nor be gracious to them.
2. You shall utterly destroy from all the places where the nations, that you shall possess, worshipped their gods, upon the lofty mountains and upon the hills, and under every lush tree.
3. And you shall tear down their altars, smash their monuments, burn their asherim with fire, cut down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name from that place.
12. And all Israel shall listen and fear, and they shall no longer do any evil such as this in your midst
13. If you hear in one of your cities which the Lord, your God, is giving you to dwell therein, saying,
14. “Unfaithful men have gone forth from among you and have led the inhabitants of their city astray, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods, which you have not known.’ “
15. Then you shall inquire, investigate, and ask thoroughly, and, behold, it is true, the matter is certain, that such abomination has been committed in your midst:
16. You shall surely strike down the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroy it with all that is in it and its livestock, with the edge of the sword.
17. And you shall collect all its spoil into the midst of its open square, and burn with fire the city and all its spoil, completely, for the Lord, your God; and it shall be a heap of destruction forever, never to be rebuilt.
13. and the Lord, your God, will deliver it into your hands, and you shall strike all its males with the edge of the sword.
14. However, the women, the children, and the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoils you shall take for yourself, and you shall eat the spoils of your enemies, which the Lord, your God, has given you.
15. Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations.
16. However, of these peoples’ cities, which the Lord, your God, gives you as an inheritance, you shall not allow any soul to live.
17. Rather, you shall utterly destroy them: The Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites, as the Lord, your God, has commanded you.
(b) Quotes from Isaiah, Nevi’im (Prophets)
1. The word that Isaiah, son of Amoz, prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2. And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it.
3. And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, “Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mount, to the house of the God of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths,” for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4. And he shall judge between the nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
1. Nations, come near to hear, and kingdoms, hearken. The earth and the fullness thereof, the world and all its offspring.
2. For the Lord has indignation against all the nations and wrath against all their host. He has destroyed them; He has given them to the slaughter.
3. And their slain ones shall be thrown, and their corpses-their stench shall rise, and mountains shall melt from their blood.
4. And all the host of heaven shall melt, and the heavens shall be rolled like a scroll, and all their host shall wither as a leaf withers from a vine, and as a withered [fig] from a fig tree.
5. For My sword has become sated in the heaven. Behold, it shall descend upon Edom, and upon the nation with whom I contend, for judgment.
6. The Lord’s sword has become full of blood, made fat with fatness, from the blood of lambs and goats, from the fat of the kidneys of rams, for the Lord has a slaughter in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
7. And wild oxen shall go down with them, and bulls with fat bulls, and their land shall be sated from blood, and their dust shall become saturated from fat.
8. For it is a day of vengeance for the Lord, a year of retribution for the plea of Zion.
3. And nations shall go by your light and kings by the brilliance of your shine.
4. Lift up your eyes all around and see, they all have gathered, they have come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be raised on [their] side.
5. Then you shall see and be radiant, and your heart shall be startled and become enlarged, for the abundance of the west shall be turned over to you, the wealth of the nations that will come to you.
6. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah, all of them shall come from Sheba; gold and frankincense they shall carry, and the praises of the Lord they shall report. :
7. All the sheep of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall serve you; they shall be offered up with acceptance upon My altar, and I will glorify My glorious house.
8. Who are these that fly like a cloud and like doves to their cotes?
9. For the isles will hope for Me, and the ships of Tarshish [as] in the beginning, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, in the name of the Lord your God and for the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.
10. And foreigners shall build your walls, and their kings shall serve you, for in My wrath I struck you, and in My grace have I had mercy on you.
11. And they shall open your gates always; day and night they shall not be closed, to bring to you the wealth of the nations and their kings in procession.
12. For the nation and the kingdom that shall not serve you shall perish, and the nations shall be destroyed.
13. The glory of the Lebanon shall come to you, box trees, firs, and cypresses together, to glorify the place of My sanctuary, and the place of My feet I will honor.
14. And the children of your oppressors shall go to you bent over, and those who despised you shall prostrate themselves at the soles of your feet, and they shall call you ‘the city of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15. Instead of your being forsaken and hated without a passerby, I will make you an everlasting pride, the joy of every generation.
16.. And you shall suck the milk of nations and the breast of kings you shall suck, and you shall know that I am the Lord, your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17. Instead of the copper I will bring gold, and instead of the iron I will bring silver, and instead of the wood, copper, and instead of the stones, iron, and I will make your officers peace and your rulers righteousness.
4. And they shall build the ruins of old, the desolations of the first ones they shall erect; and they shall renew ruined cities, desolations of all generations.
5. And strangers shall stand and pasture your sheep, and foreigners shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6. And you shall be called the priests of the Lord; ‘servants of our God’ shall be said of you; the possessions of the nations you shall eat, and with their glory you shall succeed [them].
Straight-Bat is an Engineer by profession, pursuing higher study in Economics. A keen observer of global affairs, Straight-Bat enjoys being an analyst of history, politics, economy, and geopolitics.
One of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site, Straight-Bat finds this website as a capstone entity that is dedicated to focus on truth and justice in public life across the world.