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unrestrained freedom of speculative inquiry, on a variety of subjects equally interesting to both classes of believers. But without dwelling on points necessarily involved in great obscurity, it is sufficient here to observe, that at the period when the literary greatness of Moorish Spain was in its zenith, when it was exercising its widest influence on Europe, the genius of Arabian cultivation was strikingly, and to an extent never since equalled, tolerant and conciliatory towards the votaries of faiths, apparently most widely and irreconcileably opposed and Christian, Jew and Islamite united in one harmonious effort for the promotion of what was thought science and philosophical inquiry.
From this union resulted a mutual agreement to declare, as neutral ground (open to all, and considered by none as constituting the essentials of their respective faiths) a vast field of speculative inquiry into the deepest theological questions. The European Universities did not consider it inconsistent with their religious faith to unite zealously with them in the same pursuit, and the schoolmen followed it up to the most subtle refinements, subject, however, to the continual protest of the more orthodox supporters of the church. The latter soon saw that these freedoms could not be permitted without danger to the system of absolute ecclesiastical authority, and, in the end, they were justified in their predictions by the excitement to inquiry and resistance which these speculations created.
The external influence of the energetic spirit of Arabian literature and refinement on the neighbouring Enropean courts, need hardly be dwelt upon. Strangers flocked from all sides to the Saracen Universities for in struction. The Arabian geographers, naturalists and philosophers, were in all the Southern courts; and when the Gothic monarchies began to cultivate the sciences for themselves, their teachers and professors were almost all drawn from the Infidels, whom, as yet, they had not grown wise enough to despise and butcher. Those who inspect the scanty evidences which the literary remains of these early ages will afford of the state of political and religious feeling, prior to the Crusades, will be surprised to find how
little is to be found of that anti-infidel spirit of exasperation which soon afterwards animated the Christian world. Even for some time after, the theologians on either side took little share in the contest. Christian moralists and divines were proud to draw their faith from Averroes, and to expound the Aristotelian philosophy on the principles of the Arabian commentators; and it may not be undeserving of remark, that even the earliest tales of romantic chivalry (those of the Round Table) breathe nothing of the bigoted spirit of religious intolerance towards the Heathen, which distinguishes the similar productions of a later age. If the deadly animosity which afterwards prevailed had existed in the days of Charlemagne, it is not probable that Salernum, the central point of the political warfare of the European and Asiatic powers, would have been selected by him for the foundation of an University where European students might freely resort for the cultivation of science, or that such a spot could have maintained its celebrity for the next three centuries. Of all European nations, not immediately under the Arabian yoke, the inhabitants of Provence seem, on many accounts, to have been most subjected to its influence, on their opinions, literature and customs. Their poetry is generally allowed to have been modelled on the tender and pas→ sionate tone of Eastern luxury. Their institutions were gay, chivalric, liberal and courteous; and even in their courts and parliaments of love, with all their frivolity, we may perceive one useful principle established. Public opinion was brought to bear upon the highest ranks of society, and even lawless power was confined within conventual limitations, which it was not prudent to violate or set at defiance, The earliest efforts of this democratic freedom of the Troubadour poets was manifested in eager satire and invectives against the vices of the church; and the opinions of the speculative heretics, whom the Arabians had protected and brought in their train to seek an asylum from persecution, here found a fruitful soil for propagation. Thus the great principles of literary energy and social cultivation, which the Arabian influence established in the South of Europe,
were from the first associated with rebellion to church authority, with free inquiry, and a spirit of conciliation among rival professors. Nothing is more obvious than that the whole genius of the Arabian policy and lite rature in Spain, was one of liberality and charity, and one which the church did not till late see the policy of op posing by all its temporal and spiriinal authority.
It is singular that the earliest heretics of Europe should be the earliest poets; and if it be (as almost all the writers on the subject contend) clear that the poetry of the South of Europe owed its form and character to the Moorish school, that circumstance alone would lead us to suspect some considerable influence of the same school on the character of their theological speculations.
The literature of the Vaudois, which certainly belongs to the 11th century, will not, perhaps, at first view, be admitted to be very closely connected with that of Provence. Yet the identity of the language, the vagueness with which the terms of Vaudois, Albigeois, &c., were applied, and the obscurity in which their respective histories and opinions are involved, would lead me to suspect a much greater affinity, and antiquity of these sectaries, than is usually allowed. The religious poetry of the Vaudois, which has lately been published by M. Raynouard, would form in itself an interesting subject for examination, particularly as furnishing evidence of the real tendency of the opinions of these heretics, which hitherto we have been compelled to take on credit from their enemies.
During the violent persecutions of the Paulicians in the 9th century, it is certain that a strict alliance existed between them and the Mahometan government; that they afterwards followed its armies; that in various ways they directed their course into Europe, and, apparently, chiefly by way of Spain, through which they followed the Moorish course to the South of France, and were there patronized by the Troubadour courts, and especially by the Counts of Toulouse. Here their followers afterwards acquired the undefined title of Albigeois, and were supposed to be deeply tainted
with Manichæan and other Oriental
But the free spirit of the Troubadour school, and indeed almost every Arabian relation, soon became the object of vehement attack from the church. It will not be necessary for me to dwell here on the details of the blind and bigoted warfare in which the Christian world was engaged, especially during the 12th century, or to point out how effectually the church accomplished its object. The Crusades were the first result of its policy, and the same zeal was soon directed to uprooting the freedom of opinion which the Mahometan spirit had encouraged in the countries immediately subject to its operation. Domestic crusading against free inquiry among Christians, was the proper companion of intolerance towards unbelievers. The gay and smiling plains of Provence and Languedoc were soon deluged with blood; and the gay creations of chivalry and poetry fled from the scene of horror.
But in the midst of all the fury of the Inquisition, which commenced its reign of horrors in the native soil of poetry and romance, we still see the strongest traces yet uneffaced of the peculiar literary spirit which had been impressed upon society. We actually find a mock tribunal, not like the old parliaments of love for the decision of knotty points in amatorial casuistry, but one of the same external form, devoted to the investigation and con demnation of theological heresies. Instead of the Teuson being directed, as before, to the solution of tender difficulties and equivocal obligations, we have Izarn, the Dominican Inquisitor, bringing forth a refractory heretic, to wrestle with him on points of faith, and forcing him, under the pain of burning with more material flames, to confess before the court the blasphemy of his creed, and the superior power of persuasion of his fiery antagonist. I do not mean, however, to place the poetry of these heresy bunters on a footing with that of the objects of their wrath, and that I may not be mistaken, will give a specimen of the holy Inquisitor's style, in which I have attempted neither to elevate nor depress the flight of his muse. After a long argument, which had hitherto
As you declare you wont believe,
stigma of favouring the Mahometan
Of God and of St. Paul,
Which ne'er was found within your brave and generous warriors, and un
doubtedly those qualities were more strikingly developed in some of the leaders of the Musselmen armies than in the bigoted warriors of Christendom, generally the mere slaves of an ignorant hierarchy. We can therefore little wonder that their fame was through life aspersed by attacks on the orthodoxy of their creeds.
But whatever zeal was displayed in eradicating all traces of Infidel principles and associations, it is impossible not to observe great and durable effects upon the opinions and literature of Europe. Its poetry (if, indeed, it be so clearly traced, as is generally supposed, to an Oriental origin,) received, through the medium of the Troubadours, a new and permanent character. Its scientific pursuits, its natural and moral philosophy, were for many ages entirely Arabian; and out of the subtle inquiries of these schools sprung the greater part of the current dreams on dæmonology, magic, witchcraft and astrology.
been attended with little success, the orthodox champion throws in the following powerful motive for choice:
Nor passed your lips at all-
And ready is the stake,
This extraordinary piece is particularly worthy of notice, as containing a view of the opinions then generally attributed to the proscribed religionists, and among these the most prominent are those in which Orientalism prevails, and in which a Mahometan and a Christian schoolman would have found little difficulty in agreeing, at any rate, to consider as fair matter of innocent discussion. These chiefly relate to speculations on the principle of evil, the nature of angels, demons, &c., and, what is more extraordinary, a transmigration of the soul.
One peculiar instance, both of the inclination among many Christians to favour the liberal spirit and speculative freedom of the Mahometans, and of the zeal of the church in controuling this spirit, and rendering religious discord as vehement as possible, may be found, I think, in the strange and other wise almost inexplicable persecution of the Templars. Amongst the mass of absurd charges which were brought forward on the trials of the members of this devoted order, it is impossible not to suspect that there must have been some very urgent ground for alarm on the part of their prosecutors, and a great degree of favourable inclination towards their Mahometan opponents, who had, perhaps, in many respects, really a good title to their respect and esteem. For the same reasons, the history of these times records several instances of the most distinguished sovereigns of Europe, (who lead the Christian armies either from political motives, or from deference to the enthusiasm of the age,) at constant variance with the church, and as constantly under the singular
We shall have occasion to notice hereafter the graver speculations which were borrowed by the labouring learned of the European schools: at present we have only to advert to an acknowledged fact, that all which was in those days dignified by the name of science, whether experimental or occult, took its rise in the speculations Peter of the Arabian Universities. Maurice, the venerable Doctor, the friend of Abeillard, who went to study in Spain in the 12th century, bears testimony to the number of men of learning from England and other countries, whom he there found sedulously applying themselves to the study of such sciences as astrology. In such pursuits the Jew, the Christian and the Islamite, were at all times found cordially united, and that not only in the Mahometan states, but even at the courts of Christian monarchs, of
whom Alonso the Wise, himself an astrologer and adept, may be proposed as the model and perfection. With these subjects were naturally associated those arts of magic and dæmonology, which bear strong traces of their Oriental origin.
In considering the theological character of the being or beings by whose influence, and by alliances with whom it was supposed that the laws of the Creator of the universe might be controuled, the current superstitions will be better understood, when we consider the prevalence of those opinions on the nature and power of the principle of evil, in which many sects, both of Mahometan and Christian Orientalists concurred.
Manichæans, who, by their zeal to extirpate these dangerous intimacies, admitted their power to influence the temporal and spiritual fortunes of mankind. The South of France was accordingly early and long the chosen seat of all witchcraft and magical operations, and many fell victims to the rage which seemed every where to expect that the Devil's kingdom was sure soon to be uppermost, unless his subjects were most vigorously put down. The same spirit seems to have dictated the charges on this head which were brought against the Templars.
Neither the opposing principle of evil, as recognized by the Islamite and the Christian Manichæan, nor that with which the forbidden alliances of the middle ages were supposed to be entered into as a constantly active belligerent power, seem, in many respects, to coincide with the theological Lucifer. It is true, that, in the popular mythology of much remoter times, in the heathen days of Europe, the principle of evil, as a fatality, as an almost equally-balanced existence of conflicting power, seems every where a predominant article of belief; but the perfect and scientific character afterwards given to the operations of the same principle, seems to be the product of the conjoined efforts of the Talmudist, Gnostic and Mahometan speculators, in the schools where unbounded licence of inquiry was encouraged. From these arose the laboured, wiredrawn treatises on spiritual and dæmoniacal essences and intelligences, and the systems of popular tactics, on which was to be carried on the unceasing combat between the two principles which they represented.
As might have been expected, the countries most exposed to the influence of Hispan-Arabic opinions, were the first to be singled out as the subjects of persecution, as soon as the jealousy of the church was awakened. The Albigeois were acknowledged as Manichæans; and it was a short step to charge them with unholy alliances with the power whose active energies they were supposed most heretically to admit, though it seemed to be forgotten that those became the real
It is rather singular, that the belief in communion with the evil spirit, magical incantations and witchcraft should have survived, nay, have acquired for a time deeper influence over the mind, from the Reformation. But, perhaps, this is ascribable (in the same way, as we shall hereafter observe, concerning several matters of opinion which, from being speculative, became then dogmatic), to the new light in which men began to consider opinions and prejudices, which had been too deeply rooted in the popular creed to be at once discarded. Luther admitted and enforced the belief of the existence and constantly active energies of an evil principle, though by discarding all the legendary speculations, on which it had long been founded, he recognized it merely under the character of the theological Satan, and gave it a dogmatic weight and solemnity, by basing it on scriptural authority. In this light, the persecution of dealers in black arts was as perseveringly and unrelentingly pursued by professors of the Reformed faith, as even in darker ages, by those who had handled the same subject as one of a more speculative character. There was a species of joviality attached to the older popular demons, to the pucks, swart-elves and goblins, the bogles, nekkers and nixes, who vexed and crossed the victims of their wayward antics. This disappeared with the Reformation; but the principle of controul over the benevolent agency of Providence was still admitted, and all its operations transferred to the account of the Devil and Antichrist.
In more important theological opinions, Europe has been greatly affected by the direction given to its studies,
and to the cultivation of the human mind, by the Moorish schools. The scholastic philosophy is almost exclusively derived from thence. I need not observe, that the philosophy of Aristotle was early and ardently embraced by the schools of Bagdad and Spain, and gave birth to those subtle metaphysical reasonings, which scandalized many of the more orthodox believers, and produced an infinite variety of sects, who disputed on all the intricacies of predestination, liberty, free grace, necessity, &c. The Mahometan doctors had, most conveniently for the peace of their church, an admirable plan of preventing schism, by at once declaring the field of these controversies neutral ground, and thus allowing space for their most ardent spirits to expatiate, without coming into collision with the essen, tials of its faith. Among them we hear of such things as orthodox sects, In this way, too, the union with Jew and Christian believers, in the prose cution of similar inquiries, was greatly facilitated. Points of difference were avoided, and we have the singular spectacle, which these ages afforded, of the most hostile sects pursuing the deepest theological speculations in perfect unity, and Christian doctors, open ly educated in Mahometan schools, writing on the subjects, and professing the opinions, there discussed and inculcated. There is, I believe, now no question that the whole system of the schoolmen is to be found in the speculations of the Mahometan metaphysicians and commentators. Even the precise dispute, which so long agitated the European schools, between the contending sects of Nominalists and Realists, is stated and discussed by Al Gazel.
The original scholasticism of the Arabian schools required little or no accommodation to the specific objects of the Christian. Their doctrines on the Divine Being and his attributes, observes Denina, on Grace, Free Will, Human Actions, Virtue and Vice, Predestination, Eternal Punishment and Heaven, even the very titles of the works of the Arabians and the schoolmen on these subjects are so similar, that one cannot doubt that the one was copied from the other. Indeed, some of the names which stand foremost in the ranks of
the European schoolmen are intimately connected with, many of thein educated in, the Spanish schools; at the head of whom, in order of time and influence we may, perhaps, place Gerbert, afterwards Sylvester II. Even so late as the age of Petrarch we find from him, that the learned exalted Averroes above the Christian fathers in no very courteous terms: "Utinam te Averroem pati posses, ut videres quanto ille tuis his nugatoribus major sit."
The adoption of the scholastic philosophy, by the Dominican and Franciscan brotherhoods, comtemplated its ascendancy throughout the whole circle of European literature; but still we find the church and many of her more wary sons protesting against the latitude assumed by these inquirers, who, on the other hand, not being allowed, (as the Mahometan philoso phers had wisely been, under similar circumstances,) to treat these subjects as neutral ground, sometimes denied the tendency of the latitude claimed, and at other times boldly met the Biblicists, as they were called, and sought to establish a distinction between reason and revelation, contend ing that tenets, which were philosophically true, might still, with perfect consistency, be theologically false, or contrary to the orthodox faith.
In pointing at the coincidence between the theological pursuits of the Arabian and the scholastic systems, and the consequent probability that the one was indebted to the other, I do not mean to assert that the same subjects had not agitated the controver sialists of the Latin Church before the proper age of the schoolmen. As early as the 9th century, in the days of John Erigena and Hincmar, the same subjects were the occasion of eager controversy (though Anselm, in the 11th century, is called the first metaphysician since the days of Augustin); but it is to be observed, that this was the precise æra when the freest intercourse with the Mahometan Universities was established. In tracing the history of the scholastic philosophy, it would be difficult to deny that many of its branches were cultivated in the form of comments and reasonings from Boethius and St. Augustin, before the Aristotelian philosophy came into vogue; but it is