THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION AND THE l...OUNTER-REFORMATION IN HISTORIOGRAPHY.
1. Its Effect upon the Subject-matter and the Interpretation of History.— In the same year that Machiavelli received his commission to write his 'History of • Florence' Luther burned the papal bull at Wittenberg and the Protestant Reformation was soon in full swing. A rude shock was given to the great impulse of humanism toward the healthy secularization of historical literature, and the centre of his torical interests was again forced back into the rut of theological controversies from which it had been trying to free itself since the of Augustine and Orosius. Again to quote from Professor Burr, ((To the freedom of his tory there came a sudden check with the great religious reaction we call the Reformation. Once more human affairs sank into insignifi cance. Less by far than that of the older church did the theology of Luther or Calvin accord reality of worth to human effort. Luther valued history, it is true, but only as a divine lesson; and Melanchton set himself to trace in it the hand of God, adjusting all its teachings to the need of Protestant dogma. Had either Papist or Lutheran brought unity to Christendom, history again must have be come the handmaid of theology?' Not only were ecclesiastical matters, dealing with both dogma and organization, deemed the all essen tial sphere of historical investigation, but also universal history was again regarded as purely a great struggle between God and the Devil. Two new "Cities of Satan," however, replaced the pagan ("City') of Augustine and °rosins,— the 'Teufels Nest zu Rom,) and the followers of "the crazy Monk of Wittenberg,') respec tively. The struggle was now limited to Chris tendom, which became "a house divided against It is scarcely necessary to point out ,the fact that this revival of the religious orientation of historical interest was as fatal to the fine ob jectivity of Guicciardini's type of historical product as it was to the maintenance of the secular point of view of the Florentine school. There was no longer any thought of prosecuting historical studies for the mere love of acquiring information or of enriching the store of knowl edge regarding the past, as Blondus had labored for these purposes alone. History again be came as violently pragmatic as with Augustine and his disciples. The past was viewed merely as a vast and varied ((arsenal') from which• the controversialists could bring unlimited supplies of ammunition for the conflict and put their enemies to an inglorious rout. The embryonic
canons of criticism which had been in part re stored by the best of the humanist historians were lightly ignored, and each party consciously strove to produce the most biased account of past events possible, in order to exhibit their opponents in the most unfavorable light. Sources of information were not valued for their authenticity, but for their potential aid in polemic exercises, and invective replaced the calm historical narrative. Finally, it should be emphasized that since the period of the Ref ormation there has been little opportunity for a completelytree and impartial study of the mediaeval period. An epoch, the interpretation of which was so vital to the two great re ligious groups of Christendom, could scarcely again become a field for calm and dispassionate analysis.
It would be inaccurate, hovtever, to hold that the Reformation gave no impulie 'to 'historical investigation. Never in the palmiest days of classical or humanist historical writing was there a more feverish energy exhibited in scanning the records of the past; the great del feet was not in the nature of a decline in activ ity or interest, but in the character of the im pulse that led to this vigorous, quest for in formation and the manner of use to which the, knowledge was put after it had been acauired.
Protestant historians were °aided by the God of Saint Paulo in the search for evidence that would prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the elaborate ritual and body of dogma of the Roman Catholic Church had been wholly an extra-scriptural and semi-pagan growth, and that the Pope was the real Anti-Christ; and Catholic investigators were "specially guided by the Blessed Virgin') in their counter-demonstra tion that the Church and all its appurtenances were but the rich and perfect fulfillment of i Scripture, and that the Protestants were n viting a most dreadful and certain punishment by their presumptuous and sinful defection from the organization founded by Saint Pete: in direct obedience to the words of Christ. The only real contributions made by the controversy were the recovery and publication of important early documents on Church history and the production of telling criticisms by both factions which could be combined a century later by the rationalists to their mutual discomfiture.