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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 273



Χ.] THE REFORMATION. 267 very strong element in reformation history, for it weakened the solidarity of the Catholic Church and prepared the way for the formula ' cujus regio ejus religio,' the disruption of national churches as well. But neither these causes, religious disaffection and the disintegration of the weak church organisation by the growing strength of absolutism, nor the ideas of the new learning, nor the rivalries of political rulers fostering abroad forms of discontent which they persecuted at home, nor the lust of enlarged territory, nor the coveting of ecclesiastical wealth, nor the envy of unprivileged classes, nor the new power of the press, would alone have sufficed to do the work that was done. Who could have reckoned on the coincidence of the Indulgence agitation in Germany, the divorce agitation in England, the growth of Huguenotism in France, the rising up of men like Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and Knox in such rapid succession, and with such marked differences, and such diverse contributions to such a complex result ? There was unquestionably, in conjunction with the yearnings for spiritual change, a deep and strong impulse for breaking with the past; breaking with national traditions and with religious traditions ; a tendency which would, if it had been unchecked, unobstructed, or not diverted into other channels, almost of necessity have amounted to revolution. Strong government had not come too soon; but for that, with all its oppressions, its repressions, and its persecutions, there would have been a period of anarchy in the breaking up of the deeps of old society. Well, however it was to be met, reformation came; the absorption of a great part of the lands of the churches followed or accompanied reformation ; either, as in England, by the seizure and surrender of monastic estates, or as in Germany by the adoption of transparent fictions which enabled Protestant princes to lay on ecclesiastical positions


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