- Christogenea Saturdays
The Devil in Luther's Dreams, Part 3
This is our third presentation of what we have loosely titled The Devil of Martin Luther's Dreams, invoking the myth that Luther had thrown his inkwell at the devil literally, when indeed he threw his inkwell at the devil by spilling it out onto hundreds of pages of paper in his writings against both the Roman Church and the Jews. The purpose of these presentations is to describe the devil which Luther was railing against, a Roman Catholic Church fully infiltrated by humanists who scoffed at religion, except as a device by which to fleece the common people of Europe, and especially of Germany.
We have been discussing the humanists in the educational institutions and monasteries of Germany, and also of Italy, in the 15th and 16th centuries. There are some things taken for granted which we had presumed that people would understand. Among those, is that before the Reformation, for Christian Europeans there was no advanced education outside of the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. The universities and monasteries were the educational system, and they all operated somewhere within the Roman Church structure. Therefore humanists within the church were not really a force which was contrary to the Church itself, although many of them despised the papal authority, but rather if they continued to prevail they would change the entire Church theology to something other than Christianity, and if the Roman Catholic Church continued to dominate European government, religion and education, then the people would have no choice but to submit to the whims of the humanists. In the background was the Jew, playing an influential role in all of this while avoiding any of the blame.
The Reuchlin Controversy is an excellent example which demonstrates that the humanists were not only sympathetic to the Jews, but also supported them in their endeavor to openly practice their religion. Christians, on the other hand, knew that Judaism was forever contrary to Christianity, that Jews were the enemies of Christians, and wanted to see Jewish books and learning destroyed. They only fell short of advocating the destruction of the Jews because Christianity itself had been poisoned with the notion that Jews were God's people in apostasy, which is certainly not true. However even Martin Luther, as much as he had detested the Jews, was corrupted by the writings of crypto-Jewish converts who spread such poison throughout Christianity.
So we cannot defend the Roman Catholic Church in any way. First, it was an organization which was modeled on Roman imperialism which in fact has absolutely nothing to do with the Christianity of the apostles. Second, the Roman Catholic Church had departed from the Christianity of the apostles by accepting Jews and non-Europeans into its communion. Not only were Jews accepted, but Jewish rabbis who professed conversion were rapidly catapulted to positions of honor within the Church, thereby facilitating the further corruption of Catholicism. Luther's devil was therefore much larger than the papacy itself, and his Reformation would free Christians from the German and Italian humanists as well, however that too turned out to be a two-edged sword.
German humanism evidently began to take root with the development of the printing press and the propagation of the Greek and Roman Classics. Identity Christians can certainly comprehend that the Medieval Church had a very imperfect understanding of Scripture, especially within its greater historical context. Yet it was the monasteries of Europe who for the most part had preserved the Classics for posterity in the first place. Comprehending the Bible and the Classics with our Christian Identity light, we should know that God is true, and that the children of Israel (who were the progenitors of White Europeans and not merely Jews) strayed from God, and that pagan and humanist Phoenician, Greek, Parthian and Roman civilizations all resulted from their straying.
Therefore, the Greek and Roman Classics portray the result of men straying from God. The systems of the Greeks and Romans did not last, but rather they self-destructed in endless wars whose causes were rooted in the philosophies or in the ambitions of men. For instance, Athens and Sparta warred with each other for over two hundred years before they were in turn conquered by Philip of Macedon. Then even after that they resumed their infighting until they were all conquered by Rome. All of this transpired several centuries before Christ. The philosophies of Epimenides, Epicurus, Zeno, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle did the Greeks not any good at all. The Bible teaches that only God can be King, only God can righteously make law, and when all men submit to God's law then there shall be peace. The lesson which the Classics should teach us is that departure from God, the humanist idea that men can build better societies and make better laws, shall always lead to failure and destruction. All the philosophies and histories of the Classics are the chronicles of man's departure from God. But instead the German humanists read the Classics and immediately began to pattern themselves after the same failed Greeks and Romans! Even with the Reformation, humanism remained influential in Germany. They did not learn the lesson, so they repeated the same errors over again until we are where we are today, once again held captive by the Babylonian beast which our fathers had failed to fully understand. They broke free of the Roman Church, but they are powerless to break free of that beast. Without Yahweh our God, we shall remain powerless.
We shall continue where we had left off in our last presentation, with The Reuchlin Controversy. As an aside, I have often admitted my complete inability to pronounce French and German words. Admittedly, I can hardly pronounce English words. A good friend and listener who is educated in such things has informed me that Johann Reuchlin's name (roosh-lin is how I think I said it last week) should be pronounced ROYSH-lyn, the 'eu' in German always being pronounced as we would say 'oy'. I could have never guessed. He has corrected me on such things in the past, and if I fail to listen I am certain that it is my own fault, and not his. So tonight I will try to remember to say ROYSH-lyn. My paternal ancestors, I am persuaded, only left Germany in 1836 to escape the language. That is supposed to be a joke.
So we shall continue with The Reuchlin Controversy. Johann Reuchlin, a German lawyer, a humanist and a student of the Cabala, has taken up the defense of the Jewish writings which many Christians wanted to see confiscated and burned. This is a conflict which had surfaced many times in Europe in the past, and later Martin Luther would also advocate that all of the Jewish writings are taken out of the hands of the Jews, if not utterly destroyed. When we discussed Chapter 10 of Luther's essay On the Jews and Their Lies, we said that “In 1240 AD one of Medieval Europe's earliest recorded self-hating Jews, whose name was Nicholas Donin, had reported to officials in France that the Talmud contained blasphemies against Christ. If this episode is reported correctly, it reveals just how ignorant European Christians had been of the Talmud for so long, in concert with just how effective Jewish secrecy in relation to their true nature had also been. At this time, it is said that Jews were forced to surrender all of their copies of the Talmud so that the charge could be investigated. This culminated in an event called the Disputation of Paris, which resulted in an order by the king of France, Louis IX, that all copies of the Talmud be confiscated and burned. ” With that we had explained that Pope Gregory IX had already ordered burnings of the Talmud as early as 1239 AD, and that “There were further burnings of the Talmud in the centuries which followed, in Italy, Poland, and elsewhere. After 1242 the popes continued to advocate burning the Talmud.” With the Inquisition in the 1550's, Talmud-burning began once again to be advocated, however there were other underlying motives and that is an account for a later time.
Thus far in our presentation of The Reuchlin Controversy, we have seen that Reuchlin, a lawyer who was also learned in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, was captivated by the Jewish Cabala as well as pagan humanism, and had written books which attempted to reconcile the Cabala with Christianity. However as we had pointed out, his persuasion really only leads the Christian to humanism and is anti-Christian at its core. His writings, which were embraced by the humanists, had instigated a harsh refutation by Jacob Hoogstraten, a prominent member of the theological faculty at the University of Cologne. There already being a controversy in Germany over the Jewish books, and Hoogstraten being in a position of authority within the Roman Church hierarchy which had the power to condemn such works as those of Reuchlin, the exchange between Hoogstraten and Reuchlin would put Reuchlin at the center of the controversy over the Talmud. To complicate matters, a crypto-Jew, a supposed convert named Johannes Pfefferkorn, got himself involved in the controversy on the side of the Cologne Theologians led by Hoogstraten, and wiggled himself into a leadership position, where we had opined that with such a development the result could not possibly be of any real benefit to Christians, but only to the Jews themselves. We may never be able to quantify that opinion, but offer it nonetheless. The converso-Jews should only be seen by true Christians as infiltrators out to corrupt Christianity and make it safe for anti-Christs. On the other side, the humanists, and especially the most influential among them such as Mutian, fully supported Reuchlin and his work. It should be quite obvious, that real Christians were standing against the Judaization of Europe, while the humanists led by Reuchlin and Mutian were in favor of it.
Now to follow this controversy, we shall continue to quote from The History of the German People at the Close of the Middle Ages by Johannes Janssen, Volume 3, Book 5, published in an English translation by A.M. Christie in London in 1900. We left this story with a letter from the Cologne Theologians urging Johann Reuchlin to repent and to correct his already published writings. In response, Reuchlin wrote back in a quite conciliatory manner. There the controversy may have ended. But where we pick the story up we will find that Reuchlin, the Cabbalist lawyer, becomes quite recalcitrant, his attitude changes, and he digs himself in to defend his position. In all of this, it seems that the humanists were indeed the best friends that the Jews could have, aside from those of their own who had so frequently managed to infiltrate and corrupt the Church.
Here we shall continue with this volume of The History of the German People from page 56:
‘Within a few months,’ so wrote Hoogstraten later on, ‘Reuchlin, under the influence of men who loved controversy and hated the Church, completely changed his attitude and his language.’ On March 12, 1512, Reuchlin had said in a letter to Collin [Hoogstraten's fellow Dominican monk and Cologne theologian Conrad Collin, who had long been friendly with Reuchlin] that ‘it was not he (Reuchlin) who had begun the contention, but the Cologne theologians, or rather that baptised Jew goaded on by them [referring to Pfefferkorn]; he had been betrayed and sold, but he feared nothing, for he had powerful friends amongst nobles and commoners, and it would cause a tremendous sensation if an orator with the power of a Demosthenes should set to work to unravel the tangled threads of this transaction, and reveal to the world who among those concerned in it were friends of Jesus Christ and who were friends only of the purse. ‘And among the number of my powerful protectors,’ he added emphatically, ‘would be the poets and the historians, numbers of whom honour me, as they should, as their former teacher. These men would keep in everlasting recollection the memory of so great a wrong committed against me by my enemies, and would hold me up as an innocent man, to the eternal shame of your great university.’
We had already noted that Reuchlin indeed appeared to be a pious Christian, but was nevertheless promoting humanism rather than true Christianity. However being trained as a lawyer he may not have known the difference, so instead he was really becoming a dupe for the Jews. He was a student of Hebrew who became enamored with the Cabala, and imagined that through one's own enlightenment a man could elevate himself to the position of God. That is humanism, and that is Judaism, and it is wholly irreconcilable to Christianity and hostile to the God of the Bible. We had also already noted that Pfefferkorn, inserting himself into a position of authority in this matter, only makes a target of convenience for Reuchlin. This too, however, betrays the divided mind of the German humanist, who could despise a Jew for being a Jew, yet embrace the wholly Jewish ideas of the Cabala as his own, and also defend the Jewish books as a whole. German pagans are indeed the Jews' best friend.
In a later pamphlet, written in German, Reuchlin maintained all these objectionable passages and attacked the Cologne Faculty indirectly by spiteful insinuations.
The Cologne theologians, however, were anxious to keep the people in ignorance of this controversy, and accordingly Arnold von Tungern drew up an answer in Latin, and attempted to expose Reuchlin’s heterodox opinions. This pamphlet was on the whole moderate, and in the dedication to the Emperor, Von Tungern said that he had written thus against Reuchlin because the latter in his ‘Augenspiegel’ had favoured the Jews unjustly and had encouraged them in their antagonism to the Christians; and also because Reuchlin had not kept his promise and withdrawn the objectionable passages pointed out to him, but had tried to intimidate the Cologne theologians by the threat that he had a strong host at his back to support him. They were not, however, to be frightened by menaces.
Pfefferkorn took a different line. Incensed by the insults of Reuchlin, who had spoken of him in his last pamphlet as a man who took a strange delight in lying, had made a violent attack on the great Hebraist [Reuchlin] in his ‘Brandspiegel.’ The angry scholar was all the more infuriated by this step because on October 7, 1512, the Emperor Maximilian had issued a prohibition against the ‘Augenspiegel’ and had ordered its seizure on pain of heavy punishment.
Reuchlin now published a ‘Defence against his Cologne Calumniators,’ which was one of the most violent specimens of the party polemics of the day. ‘It was not zeal for the Faith,’ he declared in his dedication to the Emperor, ‘that had moved the Cologne theologians to proceed against him, but a desire to injure and annihilate him personally. His opponents were not theologians, but theologists, men who were concerned not with the establishment of truth, but with empty verbal disputations; men who, far from striving after moral purity, deﬁled themselves with scandal of all sorts. [Reuchlin's words may be true of Pfefferkorn, but are patently unfair to Hoogstraten or Collin, neither of whom apparently requested the involvement of a Pfefferkorn in the first place.] Moreover it was his experience of old that the just were always persecuted by the unjust. Homer himself had had to ﬁght an unworthy opponent [possibly referring to the alleged rivalry with Hesiod, this also betrays Reuchlin's huge ego]; there was always a swarm of viliﬁers at the heels of every man of note. The Jewish-book question had only been taken up thus by the Cologne theologians in order to extort money from the Jews. [There is no indication of this motive, however it is clear that Reuchlin is defending the Jews.] ‘They hunger and thirst after Jewish gold,’ he said; ‘may it be showered on them! They may banish or burn every Jew in the country for all I care, so long as they leave me in peace and quiet.’
The accusation against him of having falsely interpreted certain passages of the Bible and of the classical writings, he declared to be quite unjustiﬁable. It was allowable to explain such passages in a different sense from that in which they had been written and understood by the authors; to recast the meaning, as it were, provided the natural signiﬁcation was not made to suffer by the process. [This statement leads to accepting relativism, which a profession of humanism must indeed admit.] The reproach of ‘perverting meanings’ came strangely, he said, from the lips of men like his opponents, who were incapable of either understanding or appreciating either the Bible or the classical writings. Apart altogether from their deﬁciencies of scholarship and knowledge, the simple processes of accurate thought were unknown to them; they were wanting in understanding of logic; they could not follow his arguments, and distorted them in order to refute them. And they were not only wanting in the capacity for understanding him, but also in the wish to do so. He called them ‘foolish sheep, bucks, sows, pigs,’ said they were less human than wild beasts, that they were scholars of the devil, frequenters of the lower regions, animated by ﬁendish pride, and so on through all the vocabulary of opprobrious invective that he could muster, and then ended by saying: ‘They would wonder that he had dealt so mildly with his enemies, that he had borne their insults without rejoinder, that he had not met their fury with fury, their contempt with contempt, their calumnies with calumnious retorts, but he would scorn to act in the same manner that they had.’ He prayed God to save them from the torments of hell. His sole revenge would be to hand down to posterity the name of his adversary hewn thus in marble: ‘Arnold von Tungern, slanderer and viliﬁer.’
Of course, Reuchlin actually did everything here which he then denied doing. Interestingly, the editor of our history notes here that Reuchlin was in the art of polemic the precursor of Luther himself. While the truth of that statement is somewhat apparent, Luther did better to use his polemics against the enemies of Germany, while Reuchlin was defending them. To continue from page 59:
It is to the credit of Pfefferkorn that after he had received Reuchlin’s insulting letter he sought him out at Stuttgardt in order to confront him in a court of justice before his prince, the Duke of Württemberg. But he never met him.
The Emperor, to whom Reuchlin had sent his pamphlet, issued the following edict from Coblenz on July 9, 1513: ‘Whereas on the occasion of some proceedings begun by him (the Emperor) against the Jewish books, but left only half completed, owing to pressing business, certain pamphlets had been published by Reuchlin, which were opposed to the Emperor’s undertaking, and especially a more recent one, which had heaped insults on the Dominicans of Cologne, and on Arnold von Tungern in particular; and whereas this last pamphlet was calculated to stir up ill-feeling among the people - he (the Emperor) commissioned the Archbishops of Cologne, Mayence, and Treves, and the Chief Inquisitor, to see that wherever this said pamphlet was discovered it was instantly seized and its sale prevented.’ The Theological Faculties of Louvain, Cologne, Mayence, Erfurt, and Paris also condemned the ‘Augenspiegel.’
The Chief Inquisitor, Hoogstraten, commenced proceedings against Reuchlin.
Reuchlin appealed to Pope Leo X [who was the humanist Giovanni de Medici] against the edict for the suppression of his book, and in order to secure a favourable hearing at the Court of Rome he addressed a most servile letter to Leo’s Jewish physician in ordinary, Bonet de Lates. He explained that, in opposition to the verdict of the Cologne Faculty, which had condemned the Jewish books to be destroyed, he had defended their utility; and that was the reason why the Dominicans of Cologne hated and persecuted him. [The humanist Reuchlin, a defender of the Jews who bragged about having all those pagans to protect him, ultimately appeals to a Jew.]
The Pope handed the matter over to the young Bishop of Spires, George, Count Palatine, who, on his part, having little knowledge of the subject under dispute, commissioned his prebendary, George Truchsess, a pupil of Reuchlin’s, to determine the rights of it. [Evidently, the Jewish court physician was able to prescribe the fix for Reuchlin.] The verdict of the latter was as follows: ‘That the “Augenspiegel” was quite free from heresy, was neither slanderous nor irreverent, nor too friendly to the Jews, and that it might safely be distributed and read everywhere; that Hoogstraten had been unfair to it, and that he should be punished by a ﬁne and bound over to silence on the subject for evermore.’
Here we have another note by the editors, which states that “Concerning these proceedings only the one-sided accounts of Reuchlin and his friends have hitherto become known.” So evidently any writings on the matter by the Cologne theologians have been lost. To continue from the very bottom of page 60:
Hoogstraten in his turn then appealed to the Pope, and the latter appointed Cardinal Grimani to be the judge. In June 1514 Grimani summoned the contending parties to Rome.
Hoogstraten was to appear in person, but Reuchlin, on account of his age, might be represented by his counsel [probably some Jewish lawyer]. Hoogstraten responded at once to the summons, but the case dragged on from year to year. In vain the Archduke Carl, afterwards Emperor [Charles V, who later rejected Luther at Worms], represented to the Pope in 1515 that the mischief only increased the longer the settlement of the case was delayed; that a decision ought to be arrived at speedily, in order to avert the ruin of the Christian population, and to clear away all stumbling-blocks from the paths of the weaker brethren.
Reuchlin had inﬂuential patrons at Rome, both secular and clerical. The Pope, foreseeing no danger, remained inactive.
According to our editor, “Among these patrons was Stephan Rosinus, chaplain to the Emperor Maximilian, and his agent in Rome.” This Stefan Rosinus was also a Jesuit, and a humanist, a member of a prominent circle of humanists in Vienna led by Thomas Resch.
In Germany, however, that which the Cologne theologians had predicted in 1514 had meanwhile come to pass. ‘If the levity of the “poets” in these matters which concern the Faith is not checked,’ the theologians had written, ‘they will grow more and more unscrupulous in attacking the truths of theology.’
While the older humanists, such as Jacob Wimpheling and Sebastian Brant, although on friendly terms with Reuchlin, in no way concurred in these proceedings of his, the ‘poets,’ or younger humanists, on the contrary, rallied round him in large numbers and urged him forward to the ﬁght. It was owing to their influence, indeed, that this formerly grave and digniﬁed scholar changed both his attitude and his language, and used weapons against the Cologne theologians which were otherwise foreign to his nature and character. [Seemingly, Reuchlin's vanity got the better of him.]
These ‘poets,’ now banded together for the ﬁrst time in a close federation, made use of the Reuchlin complications in their warfare against Church authority, against clerical scholastic learning, and above all against the Dominican Orders, whose members perpetuated in all the universities the traditional learning of the schoolmen.
So it was the protection of the religious writings of the Jews which united the pagan humanist poets against the defenders of Christian Germany in the opening decades of the 16th century. Martin Luther, himself a former humanist, in turn endeavored to save Germany from both humanists and Jews. I must add that today, pagans attacking Christians are once again doing the work of the Jews. Roman Catholicism did not represent true Christianity, and neither do the modern churches. However in the end, only true Christianity can unite real Whites and save us from the satanic Jew. Returning to our history on page 62:
Their campaign against these monks was greatly assisted by their publishing abroad in Latin and German pamphlets the story of a crime which four Dominicans had committed by means of sham spiritual apparitions, mechanically contrived. The case had been brought before the ecclesiastical court and conducted by the Bishops of Lausanne and Sitten and a legate appointed by Pope Julius II, and sentence of death pronounced. The monks had then been stripped of their sacerdotal garb in the open marketplace by the legate, had been pronounced unworthy of their priestly dignity, and handed over to the arm of the secular law for execution. This scandalous incident was now used also against the ecclesiastical dignitaries and the clergy in general.
‘All monks and ecclesiastics are liars and deceivers,’ cried the ‘poets.’ ‘All men of culture must join in battle against them.’
Of course, the poets are using a case which was already several years old to discredit the Dominican monks. But the use of a case against an institution where the institution had clearly corrected itself and where such a very small number of its members had been involved is patently unfair.
The generalship of these ‘poets’ was assumed by Mutian. [In earlier portions of this presentation we discussed Mutian at length. He was one of the most notable and active of the leaders of the younger “poets”, as the German humanists called themselves. He was a Roman Catholic priest and a prebendary who had “assumed the leadership of the rising generation of humanists”, as our historian informs us on page 32 of this volume.] After having written to Petrejus, in October 1512, that, as Reuchlin’s eulogist, he meant to take up his cause, when Tungern’s pamphlet appeared he decided that the time had come when prudence required a change of front.
To his most intimate friends, however, he confessed secretly that the condemnation of Reuchlin appeared to him just; the latter, he said, in his criticism of the Jewish books, had written in a style far more presumptuous than the occasion required; he had collected together odious and criminal matter to support his opinion, and had assumed in the most preposterous manner an air of omniscience.
None the less, however, did Mutian, from hatred of the ‘barbarians,’ commend most zealously to the favour of the humanists the very cause which he had himself condemned.
So the pagan humanist priest, who was earning his very living from the German people in the name of religion, would become the friend and defender of the Jewish religion as a matter of convenience. Today, 500 years later, Jews own the banks and the media, control all western governments, and pagans are their play-toys.
‘May the gods exterminate the theologians!’ he exclaimed to his friends. ‘They must not enjoy the protection of the law; they have forfeited every claim to justice.’ He enlarged his secret league and wrote to Reuchlin: ‘Every day brave youths come pouring in, in whose hearts and mouths your name lives.” All his friends wrote letters to Reuchlin exhorting him to persevere in his attacks on the ‘reprobate race of Cologne theologians.’ One of them addressed him with the words: ‘Holy Father, peace be with thee.’ Another called him ‘a Hercules victorious over the barbarian monster.’ Crotus Rubianus wrote to him in 1514: ‘It is, no doubt, through the providence of the gods that this strife has broken out; they delight to strengthen through suffering those whom they love. But be tranquil; you are not alone in the ﬁght. You have on your side the great scholar Mutian; you have the whole of Mutian’s ﬂock - philosophers, orators, poets, theologians - all devoted to you, all ready to ﬁght in your cause. Eobanus is endowed with a divine gift; he is an admired and successful poet. In my friend Ulrich von Hutten ﬁery zeal is coupled with sagacity. Only speak the word; we are ready to serve you at a moment’s notice.’ Eobanus composed a poem in praise of Reuchlin, in which he called him ‘the tamer of monsters,’ and he wrote to him in 1515: ‘The senate of the republic of learning has decreed your triumph. May the gods destroy the wicked ones and wipe their memory from the face of the earth! They deserve that all good men should hate them, for they are not only persecutors of learning, but also corrupters of divine religion. I have just polished off some slashing iambics against those Cologne demons - that’s what you call them, is it not? - and am going to write some more and send them to you when the time comes. I take courage at the thought that I do not stand alone. I have hopes that Hutten, Busch, Crotus, and Spalatin, and your countrymen Philomusus and Melanchthon, and a good many others besides, will join with me in the paean of victory.’ ‘Your enemies,’ wrote Hermann van dem Busch to Reuchlin after the decision of the Bishop of Spires, [the fix that de Medici's Jewish physician had arranged] ‘look the very picture of frantic envy and hatred. They roll their eyes, gnash their teeth, groan and sigh. Be of good courage, I say once more; you will soon see all the malice of your adversaries confounded.’ Ulrich von Hutten wrote to him in the same encouraging strain on January 13, 1517. ‘Be calm,’ he says ; ‘I am gathering associates to the cause, whose age and circumstances are equal to the occasion. You will soon look out from a ‘house of laughter’ on the melancholy tragedy of your fallen enemies. Take heart, take heart; a train is being laid which at the auspicious moment will kindle into a conflagration.’
So the Catholic priest turned humanist pagan Mutian and all of his followers begin to defend the cause of Reuchlin, and also the cause of the religion of the Jews. The Jews themselves must have been gleeful. However we cannot imagine all of the supposedly pagan humanists to have had the same motives. Many of them were apparently Jews themselves, and used humanism in the same manner in which the Jewish “converts” to the Church had used Christianity: for the furtherance of Jewish causes. Note that many of the names among the followers of Mutian listed here were those “poets” who despised their own supposedly German heritage, changing their names for those of dead Romans and Greeks. While it would be difficult to prove how many of these were actually Jews, this is an ideal practice for Jews who would want to hide their true identity.
But neither can we say that all of the desires or grievances of the humanists were wrong. The Romans Catholic Church was indeed a tyranny. But the Dominicans themselves were victims of that tyranny as much as anyone else. Blaming Christianity for the Church, however, is itself a crime of ignorance. The Dominicans were defenders of Christian tradition and German culture in spite of Roman church tyranny. In turn, in addition to supporting the cause of the Jews the humanists were offering pagan immorality and licentiousness as an alternative to Roman Catholic oppression. Once again, Martin Luther saved Germany from either consequence, and for better or worse, both Christians and humanists had benefited. True Christian liberty is indeed a two-edged sword, as the apostles themselves also warn.
Here our historian turns us to the story of Ulrich von Hutten, one of Mutian's humanists, which we shall continue to follow as we turn from the details of the Reuchlin Controversy to the presence of humanists in the courts of the Papacy and the archbishops of Germany. Returning to our history on page 65:
Ulrich von Hutten, scion of a Franconian knightly family, was born in 1488 at the castle of Steckelberg. It was his father’s wish that he should be dedicated to the Church, and in his eleventh year he was placed at the monastic school of Fulda to be educated. In 1504 or 1505, however, at the instigation of Crotus Rubianus, he ran away from Fulda [no older than 17 years], and for many years led the life of a travelling Literat, going from one university to another in North and South Germany, and visiting also the universities of Italy, often in extreme poverty and presenting the most wretched appearance. Owing to dissolute living he remained a prey to ill-health from the year 1508; he suffered tortures from painful ulcers, and was often reduced to such a pitiable condition that a friend once advised him to commit suicide. He was utterly wanting in moral discipline and self-restraint. [Like most of the pagan humanists.] Even his friends were often alarmed at the ﬁre of excitement and irritability ever ready to flame out in this fussy, insigniﬁcant-looking little man. ‘The slightest word,’ wrote Mutian, ‘puts him in a frenzy.’ His brilliant powers and ﬁne humanistic culture ﬁlled him with such inordinate self-conceit that he came to regard himself as the initiator of a new era, and considered all his thoughts and actions as of epoch-making importance.
His genius, however, was essentially destructive.
Whatever stood in the way of the misty, undeﬁned phantom of liberty which he had set up as his ideal, he looked upon as tyranny and oppression and strove with all his might to overthrow. In his behaviour to his gainsayers all means and measures appeared to him legitimate - distortion of facts, lies, slander, and calumny. He was incapable of being inspired by a great or generous idea.
Contempt and ridicule of the Church, its teaching and its ordinances, Hutten had learnt from the Erfurt humanists, into whose circle he had been introduced by Crotus Rubianus. In a short time he became a zealous and impassioned follower of Mutian. He looked on the ‘holy man’ as the common leader of all those who were in league against the barbarians, and he kept up a correspondence with him through all his wanderings.
Hutten was so early saturated with a pagan, anti-Christian spirit that in an elegy to the gods, in which he bewails his misery to them and calls on them to avenge him, he mixes up with the heathen deities the ‘Christ acquainted with suffering.’
Another noteworthy production of Hutten’s is a consolatory poem addressed in the year 1515 to the father of his cousin, Hans von Hutten, equerry to Duke Ulrich of Württemberg, who had just been murdered by the Duke. The poem is essentially from a pagan point of view. Christians, he says, are, of course, bound to believe that the soul lives on after death, but even if it perished with the body, death would be no evil, as it puts an end to all suffering. [Of course the original pagans had the same belief, but some of the Greek philosophers later disputed this.] To the papacy Hutten had vowed the bitterest enmity during his ﬁrst sojourn in Italy in 1513, when he composed his epigrams against that ‘corrupter of the world,’ ‘that pest of the human race’ Pope Julius II. [This was also the year that Julius II had died, to be replaced with the humanist Giovanni de Medici, called Leo X.]
While it had already been happening in Italy as well as Germany, next we shall see how Hutten also openly advocated the infiltration of the courts of bishops by humanists, and how he himself had done so. Doing that, we hope to finally describe how humanists had fully populated the courts of Leo X and the German archbishops, and then discuss the 5th Lateran council, which had inspired Martin Luther to take the final drastic measures which he did, breaking from the Roman Church completely in what would then spark what is called the Reformation.