THE increasingly matrist character of the government of the Church produced its reaction in Protestantism The comparative severity of the Protestant attitude to sexual matters — especially in its extreme forms of Calvinism and Puritanism — is well known. But it also displays a number of unexpected features of some psychological interest.
The Protestant movement started on the Continent, and before discussing English Puritanism, it will be desirable to consider Calvinism — for though it was Luther who set the schismatic movement in train, and though the Church which he set up still endures, yet it was Calvin who provided the most clear-cut exemplification of the extreme patriarch character of the movement. Furthermore, it was Calvin who most closely influenced Britain — perhaps by a sympathetic attraction. Luther's movement, though conservative in nature, was not so fanatic or so guilt ridden as Calvin's, and it was to the latter that the British divines, fleeing from the Catholic Mary, gravitated.
The basis of Calvinism in father-identification needs little stressing. We find it in the marked authoritarianism of the movement, in its depression of the status of women, and even in such characteristic details as a fervent belief in witchcraft: extreme Protestants persisted in this belief long after the rest of Europe had abandoned it: Wesley, for instance, was a firm believer in witchcraft. The stress placed by Calvinism on authority is quite striking. Not only did Calvin stress divine authority, but all paternal authority was sacrosanct. In Geneva a child was beheaded for striking its father: in Scotland, too, severe penalties were prescribed for any child who defied its father. If there was anything worse than to defy a father's authority, it was to defy Calvin's. Special penalties were prescribed for addressing Calvin as Calvin, and not as Mr. Calvin. Citizens who commented unfavourably on his sermons were punished by three days on bread and water. Gruet, who criticized Calvin's doctrine and who had written "nonsense" in the margin of one of his books, was beheaded for treason and blasphemy. Berthelieu, who challenged the right of the Consistory to excommunicate, was beheaded, with several of his supporters. Calvin betrayed the tolerant Servetus to the Inquisition in France, and covered his part in so doing by a lie. Servetus, having escaped, came to Geneva hoping to discuss his differences with Calvin, only to be seized, tried without benefit of legal aid and burnt, on Calvin's express instructions. (113) (Before ever the trial opened, he gave orders that Servetus was not to leave Geneva alive.) As Castellio commented:
"If thou, Christ, dost these things or commandest them to be done, what is left for the Devil?"
As always in patriarchal systems, Calvinism was fanatically against intellectual freedom. Calvin himself said that he submitted his mind "bound and fettered" in obedience to God, and he expected a similar subservience from others. Not only Servetus and Cruet, but many others who dared to query the official teaching were condemned and imprisoned or killed; and since Church and State were one, to hold the wrong opinion was not only heresy but treason. Inevitably, Calvinists depressed the status of women. What seemed to them especially outrageous was that women should, in some places, be heads of state. It was unfortunate that Knox's First Blast of tax Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women should have coincided with the accession of Elizabeth. The letters to Somerset in which he tries to retrieve the position make amusing reading: but it was too late, and the second Blast was never sounded. The Calvinists excluded, of course, all adoration of the Virgin Mary, and it is symptomatic of the new movement that in some places Protestants broke or mutilated statues of the Virgin — actions which in Paris evoked day-long processions of expiation on the part of the orthodox.
As a matter of fact, Calvinism went so far in the direction of a patriarchy that it abandoned the mediaeval Church's view that virginity was a good, stressed the desirability of having a large family, and seemed on the verge of restoring polygamy. This loss of interest in the idea of virginity, coupled with a rejection of the idea of meditation and the erection of work into a virtue led to the abandonment of the life of the cloister, which still further depressed the status of the unmarried woman. Calvin, to be sure, never licensed polygamy, but Luther agreed to the bigamous marriage of Philip of Hesse; and on a few occasions when the number of women available greatly exceeded the number of men, Protestant bodies actually legalized polygamy. Thus the Frankish Diet legalized bigamy to restore the ravages of the Thirty Years War. (239)
Stevenson, in his portrait of Knox, draws attention to the somewhat Biblical character of his domestic arrangements. Knox, who was twice married, was also the cause of scandal with at least two other women. Having given rise to some talk by the closeness of his association with a Mrs. Bowes (a married woman, living with her husband) Knox suddenly married her daughter, and retired to Geneva with both ladies, despite the protests of Mr. Bowes. The little group was soon joined by a Mrs. Locke, for whom Knox professed a respectful affection, and by her daughter and maid, to the extreme annoyance of Mr. Locke. Stevenson draws a delightful picture of Knox proceeding to worship on the Sabbath, accompanied at a respectful distance by the five Women, like some Biblical patriarch with his wives and concubines. This was not, as a matter of fact, the full extent of Knox's interests, for he also maintained a warm friendship with a Mrs. Adamson. It was quite characteristic that, having caused two wives to leave the sides of their husbands, he should write bitterly attacking a Mrs. Barron for having left her own husband.
One of the several interesting features of Calvinism, which differentiate it from the doctrines of the Middle Ages, and bring it nearer to the doctrines of the early Christian fathers, was a tendency to generalise feelings of guilt to cover every conceivable form of pleasure. Where mediaeval writers tended to dwell specifically upon sex and to pursue the subject into all its aspects, the Calvinists did not dwell on the perversions, but devoted their ingenuity to the minutest regulation of daily life.
The guilt ridden character of Calvin's doctrine emerges clearly in the Institutes, the great work in which he sought to embody the principles of the new Church. Quoting with approval Christ's words "The world shall rejoice, but ye shall weep and lament", he asks:
"Do not our innumerable and daily transgressions deserve more severe and grievous chastisements than those which his clemency inflicts on us? Is it not highly reasonable that our flesh should be subdued, and as it were accustomed to the yoke, lest it should break out, according to its propensities, into lawless excesses?"
It no longer needs a psychologist to tell us what the forbidden excess was, from which men had to be restrained,
"the licentiousness of the flesh, which unless it be rigidly restrained, transgresses every bound."
The whole document is of rich psychological interest, and provides a classic demonstration of the power of the legal mind to arrive at the wished-for conclusion, starting from whatever premise. Calvin attached the highest importance to the Bible, but found no difficulty in making those texts which seem to preach the enjoyment of God's gifts support his own preferences for self-mortification. The early Jews believed strongly that one should enjoy the pleasures of life, including those of sex (see Deuteronomy xxi. 10-14) and some teachers held that at the last day one would have to account to God for every pleasure one had failed to enjoy. But Calvin, after conceding that God has put various things into the world for men to enjoy, such as flowers, colours, gold and silver, and so on, demands: "Where is the gratitude towards God for clothing if on account of our sumptuous apparel, we admire ourselves and despise others?" By a similar line of reasoning, every other blessing is to be rejected because it might lead to undesirable behaviour, until we finally arrive at the conclusion that "they that have wives should be as though they had none" — the original doctrine of Paul.
This method of argument is still popular today, to be sure — a recent example being the Report of the Royal Commission on Population Trends, which, after considering a great many reasons why Britain is likely to find it impossible to support its present population, concludes that, since no one can be quite sure that these reasons will operate, every effort should be made to maintain the population at the present figure.
So terrible were the forces of guilt and destructiveness animating Calvin, that he not only revived Augustine's doctrine of pre-destination but carried it to an even more fearful extreme, and resolutely condemned to eternal torment, not only all babies which died before baptism, but all persons in non-Christian countries — including, of course, all persons living prior to the time of Christ. As Troeltsch points out, the doctrine of predestination is one which effectively precludes the operation of divine love and mercy: psychologically it is the reaction of one who, having been treated with cruelty, reacts by deciding to suppress his own instincts of tenderness. Under Calvin's rule, midwives took to baptizing sickly infants as soon as they were born, to save them from this frightful fate; Calvin promptly put a stop to the practice, assuaging his conscience with the claim that God, in his justice, would not let anyone die unbaptized who really deserved to be saved. The practice of giving immediate baptism to sickly babies prevails in England to this day.
It is therefore quite in keeping that Calvin constructed at Geneva probably the strictest theocratic society ever devised and treated with savage severity all those who held views opposed to his own. In this heaven, not only were fornication and adultery proscribed but even the mildest forms of spontaneity. The Registers reveal that bridesmaids were arrested for decorating a bride too gaily. People were punished for dancing, spending time in taverns, eating fish on Good Friday, having their fortunes told, objecting when the priest christened their child by a different name from the one they had chosen, arranging a marriage between persons of disparate ages, singing songs against Calvin, and much besides. (123) Pierre Ami, one of those responsible for bringing Calvin to Geneva, was imprisoned for dancing with his wife at a betrothal; his wife later had to flee the country.
Attendance at church on Sundays and on Wednesdays was compulsory, and the police went through streets, shops and homes to see if anyone was evading his duty. On the other hand, it was a punishable offence to go to church except at the hour of service. Grant observes:
".... the dress of citizens, male and female, the mode of dressing the hair, the dishes served on ordinary days and on festivals, the jokes in the streets, the character of private entertainments — all were enquired into, and what seemed wrong was censured and punished."
Such was the Genevan Utopia, which the admiring Knox called
"the most perfect school of Christ that ever was on earth since the days of the Apostles".
To impose such standards, Calvin had to resort, naturally, to wholesale violence, torture and execution: 150 of those who disagreed were committed to the flames in sixty years. Not for nothing had he been called by his schoolmates "The Accusative".
The second remarkable feature of Calvinism — and this is true, to some extent of Protestantism generally — was the unprecedented importance it attached to the spoken and written word. It was the very basis of Calvin's teaching that the Bible constituted the unimpeachable source of all doctrine: it was referred to as the Word of God. The Bible itself came to be conceived as invested with an extraordinary sacredness: it became, it has even been said, a sacrament, taking precedence over the Eucharist, which was only celebrated in commemoration of it. Our practice of swearing on the Bible derives from this. Notably, the Principle of the infallibility of the Bible was substituted for the principle of the infallibility of-the Pope It was characteristic of the loveless, legalistic Calvin that he should make a system of symbols — a book — the centre of his system, rather than the persons and actions those symbols represented. It was a retreat from life.
No doubt it was part of this strange preoccupation with the importance of words that extraordinary importance was accorded to the sermon. The Protestants — in England equally - believed that in the sermon they had found the answer to all ecclesiastical problems. In Geneva, seventeen sermons were given every week, two on each weekday and five on Sunday, and attendance at all was compulsory. (123)
It seems tempting to link with this phenomenon the Puritan preoccupation with the propriety of other forms of words, such as novels and plays, and the "profane songs" already mentioned. Moreover, as we shall see, when the puritan movement finally became dominant in England, it steadily began to built up, for the first time in history, a system of laws against making certain types of statements. These statements were called "obscene" — that is, objectionable: what the Puritans chiefly found obscene was, of course, any direct reference to sexual matters.
The psychology of these Puritan reformers is particularly interesting, and it would be of great interest to make full, scale psychological studies of some of them. Calvin, for instance, was subject to violent fits of anger. He suffered from chronic indigestion and in due course developed stomach ulcers. Today, his drive, ruthlessness ant obsessive attentiveness to detail might have made him a successful businessman. He seems to have had a special preoccupation with the idea of adultery, and introduced references to it in almost every matter he discussed. Since repression always stimulates what it sets out to repress, one is not surprised to learn that his sister-in-law was taken in adultery in I557 and that his daughter suffered a like fate five years later.
Unfortunately, we know very little of Calvin's earliest youth, and not much about his private feelings. On the other hand, there is a great deal of information available about Luther, who recorded his thoughts and feelings in great detail. For instance, we can detect signs of megalomania in the hints which he often dropped that he was of noble origin. Once he traced his ancestry back to Julius Caesar's entourage. At his funeral, the speaker of the oration had no hesitation in describing him as descended from Lothair.
Luther's dominating characteristic seems to have been an intense fear of the paternal figure. He tells us how fearfully, as a boy, he studied a stained glass window in the parish church depicting Jesus the Judge, a figure with a fierce countenance bearing a flaming sword. When, after his admission as priest, he first had to officiate at Mass, he was frightened almost to incapability. This is easily intelligible when we learn that his father, a miner, used to beat him so severely that he ran away from home; his schoolmaster was equally harsh. His mother was scarcely less severe and once beat him until blood flowed, for eating a nut which he had found upon the table. Hence we might expect Luther to have formed the impression that, if God was severe, the Virgin Mary was scarcely less clement. It is therefore interesting that he made St. Anne his patroness, for her function was to intercede with the Virgin, to induce her to intercede with Jesus, whose role was to intercede with the Father. Like the Pope, God could not be approached direct. Once, when Luther was walking along, a clap of thunder sounded from a clear sky. So taut were his nerves that he fell to the ground in terror, crying "Save me, save me, dear St. Anne", and subsequently joined the order of Augustine Eremites, an order which venerated St. Anne. (20)
Despite his own rejection of the Catholic hierarchy, his outlook was profoundly authoritarian. "An earthly kingdom cannot exist without inequality of persons", he said, and when the peasants rose demanding that villeinage should end, he was horrified. He accepted to the hilt the propriety of using force placing absolute power in the hands of the civil authorities and encouraging them by saying,
"No one need think that the world can be ruled without blood. The civil sword shall and must be bloody." (34)
Luther's psychology is chiefly interesting, however, in that it provided some confirmation of the general psychological analysis which has been made of the puritan type of personality. One of the most noticeable characteristics of a certain type of puritan is an obsessive fear of dirt: we have all met the woman who combines with a strict and uncharitable morality an almost surgical desire for cleanliness. It was the commonness of this combination which gave rise to the aphorism about cleanliness being next to godliness, but the more percipient pointed out that the dislike of dirt in the literal sense seemed to go with an extreme interest in dirt in the moral sense. This type of person is always the first to know of a neighbour's mis-step and to criticize it. Custance's observation that, in the depressive phase of his insanity, a fear of dirt was associated with a feeling of remoteness from God is also relevant here.
But this is not an isolated observation. Psychiatrists have long recognized among their patients a characteristic distortion of personality in which there is an extreme interest in productive and retentive activities, and which is also frequently marked by some degree of cruelty or sadism. The origins of this distortion have been analysed in detail and these special interests have been found to be a substitute for, or a sublimation of, a childish preoccupation with excretory matters, for which reason this personality pattern is described as the "anal" type. (This brief summary is hardly fair, for this classification is based on an elaborate and generally accepted theory of how personality is formed, which can be tested in various ways and forms the basis of most psychoanalytical work.)
The suggestion that the great tide of productive and accumulative capitalism which rose during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was due to an increase in the anal elements in character is far from new: but the point is one which has never, I think, been investigated historically. There is, in fact, room for a full-scale study of the relations between puritanism and these anal attitudes from earliest times.
Such a history would undoubtedly reveal a strong contrast between the uninhibited matrist treatment of scatological matters and the shamefaced taboos and obsessive preoccupations of puritans. Rabelais, for instance, treats scatological matters with gusto. Camden notes that at least one manor was held of the king, not by the conventional rent of a rose, payable at midsummer, but by serjeantry, a thing which is quite inconceivable today. This was the case at Hemingston,
"wherein Baldwin le Petteur (observe the name) held land by serjeantry (thus an ancient book expresses it) for he was obliged every Christmas Day to perform before our Lord the King or England, one saltus, one sufflatus and one bumbulus; or, as it is read in another place, he held it by a saltus, a sufflus and a pettus — that is (if I apprehend it aright), he was to dance, make a noise with his cheeks, and let a rousing fart. Such" — adds Camden benignly — "was the plain, jolly mirth of those days."
It is against this background that we have to set the fact that Luther received his great moment of enlightenment — the moment when he perceived that man's salvation depends not upon his achievements but upon his faith — when he was sitting upon the privy. This is the celebrated 'Turmerlebnis'. Luther was continuously constipated, itself typical of excessive cerebral control, and it was in one of his prolonged sojourns in the Temple of Cloacina that he had his vision of the Devil. (20) Melancthon describes one of Luther's affrays with the Fiend in the following words, which had better remain in Latin:
"Hoc dicto, victus Daemon, indignabundus secumque murmurans abiit, eliso crepitu, non exiguo, cujus fussimen tetri odoris dies aliquot redolebat hypocaustum." (16)
The tradition that the Devil was accompanied by an evil smell is of great antiquity, and it did not take much imagination to attribute this to his crepitations. Schurig devotes a whole article to the subject in his "Chylologia". Luther, however, breaks new ground by recounting in his "Table Talk" how a lady put the devil to flight by this very means. Since the association of aggressive and sadistic impulses with anal fixation is one of the best established facts in psychology, Luther's anecdote may well, like any other myth, be indicative of a change in the unconscious preoccupations of the myth-maker.
Finally, it is significant that the Puritans also extended their taboos on the making of verbal references to sexual matters to cover excretory matters also. Since this taboo is still with us today, if slightly weakened, it is easy to think this association natural. In point of fact, the sense of repulsion from faeces is by no means inborn, as anyone who observes children knows. (Similarly, those tribes which regard it as shameful to be seen eating also explain this as being self-evident.)
It may also be the case that the patrists' new anal pre-occupations help to account for their special sensitiveness to words. Psychologists have noted certain parallels between excretion and speech: words may be used to defile and smear, that is, to express an aggression which is fundamentally excremental. Too little is known to push these speculations further, but the field is one which would richly repay research.
In England, of course, the patrist revolt did not lead to schism and, except for a short time during the Common- wealth, patrist codes were not enforced. Even when small groups abandoned the struggle and emigrated to Holland or America they still continued to regard themselves as members of the English Church. In Scotland, however, Knox succeeded in imposing the Calvinist system, and the Genevan pattern was reproduced almost exactly.
English Puritanism, as it came to be called, thus had a frustrated character. Nevertheless, it displays the main characteristics which we have already noted: the extreme generalizing of the sense of guilt to cover the mildest forms of spontaneity, and the immense pre-occupation with symbols. Throughout the sixteenth century, the Puritans dissipated much of their energy in doctrinal discussions, such as whether wooden tables should replace stone altars and whether they should be placed in the centre of the church or at the east end. The great issue upon which Elizabeth and the Puritans fought or so long was the question of how the clergy should be dressed. Elizabeth, who had conceded every major demand raised by the Injunctions which were designed to strip English churches of matrist influences, yet insisted upon one thing — that the clergy should continue to wear cap and vestments as in Edward's time — and stood obstinately upon this decision despite every pressure. (26) The clergy were equally obstinate in refusing, and scores sacrificed their livings rather than conform.
There is no need to detail all these tedious bickerings, but occasionally we can see in them the battle between matrism and patrism demonstrated with beautiful clarity. For instance, at the conference which James I summoned to discuss the clergy's great petition for reforms (again, symbolic ones — the abandonment of the sign of the cross in baptism and of the ring in the wedding ceremony), Dr. Reynolds took exception to the inclusion in the marriage service of the words,
"With my body I thee worship". The King, a matrist, replied smiling: "If you had a good wife yourself, you would think all worship and all honour you could do her were well bestowed upon her." (248)
The fact of James's homosexuality would be enough to justify the conclusion that he was a matrist, but we have ample evidence of his permissive tendencies. Thus, when in Lancashire, a great centre of Puritanism, petitioners approached him asking him to oppose Puritan efforts to stop Sunday amusements, he responded by issuing his Book of Sports, and Ordered that no hindrance be offered to lawful sport. At the same time James's upbringing had fostered his sense of Omnipotence. He had never known either a father or a monarch above him, and reacted violently to any threat to his own absolutism. Like Charles after him, James was only permissive when approached humbly. Unfortunately for the Stuarts, Parliament of independently minded men was growing up and was becoming steadily more self-assertive. These sturdy democrats sympathized with the desire of the extreme Puritans to worship "according to their conscience", in much the same way as in the 1930's the generous minded sympathized with Communist refugees from Fascism: preoccupied with the fact that the latter were in revolt against tyranny, they failed to observe they were in favour of a tyranny still more repulsive. Thus the Stuarts, by persecuting members of Parliament (such as Pym and Hampden), by provoking Scottish Presbyterians to war, and by other high-handed actions, drove father identifiers and democrats, whom we should expect to find on the other side, into an uneasy alliance.
The Puritan victory in the Civil War revealed the true situation. Puritan rule proved oppressive and restrictive far beyond what people had imagined. Popular feeling finally swept it out of power and restored the monarchy.
The story can be traced most easily in the history of Sunday observance, for the Puritans, when they found a direct approach blocked, decided to concentrate on restricting Sunday pleasures; since this was the only day on which the ordinary man could take his pleasures, the establishment of a Puritan Sunday was tantamount to the establishment of a Puritan regime. (246) As Jeremy Collier said:
"The Puritans having miscarried in their operations upon the Church, endeavoured to carry on their designs more under covert. Their magnifying the Sabbath day, as they called Sunday, was a serviceable expedient for the purpose."
In Henry VIII's time, Sunday was the great day for sports, fairs, drinking, archery and dancing. If any objection was raised to this, it was rather on the grounds that people would be better employed at work. Frith, an early Reformer, said,
"having been to church, one may return and do one's business as well as any other day".
Cranmer went further and said that rest from labour was "mere ceremonial" — a Jewish practice which Christ had abrogated. Elizabeth, who regularly transacted State business on Sundays, refused to pass a Sunday observance act in 1585; and licensed a man called Powlter to organize Sunday games.
The Stuarts continued this tradition, Charles reissuing James's Book of Sports in 1633 and complaining that the Puritans had been suppressing wakes, or feasts of dedication, under pretence of removing abuses. Public feeling seems to have been decidedly matrist: for instance, ten parishioners of Shaftesbury "presented" their minister, one Edward Williams, in 1634, for certain irregularities, but chiefly for preaching against the King's Declaration
"in a high kind of a terrification, as if it were a most dreadful thing and near damnable, if not absolutely damnable, to use any recreations on the Sabbath or Lord's Day".
But between the years 1645 and 1650 there was a flurry of acts, ordinances and proclamations, prohibiting maypoles, abolishing Christmas, Whitsun and Easter as pagan festivals, ordering the Book of Sports to be burnt, and even banning "idle sitting at doors and walking in churchyards". As one non-Puritan member of the Commons observed, "Let a man be in what posture he will, your penalty finds him." The extremists, of course, went still further. To some, two sermons on Sunday were "a necessity of salvation"; to ringmore than one church bell to call people to church was as great a sin as murder. Some even drew the line at having roast meat for Sunday dinner, a lead which kitchen maids quickly followed by declaring that it was sinful to wash up the dishes on that day. The only behaviour which was permissible when not actually at church was the singing of psalms or the repeating of sermons. Richard Baxter records with satisfaction how he walked through Kidderminster in 1660 and heard nothing on all sides but the sound of families singing psalms and saying sermons, which had not been the case (he noted) when he first went there in 1641. Baxter's walk must have been privileged, for the law was that Communion was to be denied to anyone who Played football, travelled, or walked on Sunday.
In all these prohibitions we can clearly see two common elements: a fear of spontaneity, a fear that once the barrier of control was breached anything might happen, and a fear of pleasure. It is curious how often the two go together: enjoyment seems almost proportional to the extent to which cerebral control is lifted; conversely, the man most continuously under control is the least capable of enjoying himself. This restrictive control is somehow external to impulse; it is quite different from the effortless subordination of body to will which is displayed by the dancer or the athlete. That the fear of pleasures alone is not a sufficient explanation is shown by the frequency of Puritan insistence on a restrained demeanour — for instance, the Bishop of Lincoln complained in 1636 that "the ruder sort of people" could not content themselves with walking and talking but wanted something "loud and boisterous". And it was primarily this fear of spontaneity and feeling which caused the Puritans to object to colour and richness of decoration, and hence to insist on sober clothing and bleak churches-though if they described the use of colour and ornament in churches as "romish" the accusation was fair enough, for these things were undoubtedly a mark of how far the Roman Church had drifted towards matrism.
The two factors together explain the way in which they proscribed innocently spontaneous activities such as sport and dancing; why they anathematized carnivals, masquerades, church ales, mumming and other jollifications; why they detested drink, which notoriously weakens superego control; and why they especially hated the theatre which appeals directly to feelings and unconscious elements in personality.
When they came to power, they attempted not merely to make "immorality" impossible, by imposing the most severe of penalties, but tried to stamp out spontaneity in all its forms. All theatres were permanently closed, and when a company of actors attempted to ignore this law, they were arrested and the theatres were ordered to be demolished. In place of festivals, Days of Publique Humiliation were established, on which all shops were shut, all travel — except to church — forbidden, as was "any unnecessary walking in the fields or upon the Exchange or other places". For adultery and for incest (the latter meaning any relationship within the degrees not permitted for marriage), the death penalty was instituted; but, curiously enough for ordinary fornication the penalty was the relatively mild one of three months' imprisonment. Death sentences were actually imposed and executed for these offences, a man of eighty-nine being executed for adultery in 1653 and another for incest (with his brother-in-law's daughter) in 1656. (151) But juries responded by refusing to convict. Gauleiters were set up, under the name of Major-Generals, to enforce the law. When juries failed to bring in a verdict to their liking, the Juries were dismissed.
Of Cromwell's hostility to art, learning and, above all, the democratic method, there is little need to write. How characteristically the father-identifier disapproves enquiry was also shown a few years later when a Puritan condemned the newly founded Royal Society as "impious".
But the main body of public opinion was against such extremity of Puritanism, and still more was it against the brow-beating of Parliament. The Parliament men discovered o their alarm that they had allied themselves with authoritarians far more ruthless than the Stuart kings. Crowds thronged the streets, crying "Give us a free Parliament", and Monk's testy dismissal "You shall have a free Parliament", was taken as a promise, causing a chain of beacons to be lighted which bore the supposed good news round Britain and, so doing, insured that it should come true.
The Puritan regime exhibited one feature which one normally associates more with matrism: it made a greatly extended use of public humiliation as a deterrent. The Catholic Church had stressed conscience as the guide to behaviour and had often pointed out that one should be prepared to defy public opinion if necessary. True, it had sometimes employed an element of humiliation — for instance, in public penance —but on the whole it felt that public opinion was too tolerant: fasts and flagellations were its preferred punishments for minor offences.
The Puritans, however, could not rely on confession and a system of ecclesiastical courts to make sure that private penances would be observed, and perhaps hesitated to use flagellation except for the most serious offences. They therefore made extensive use of the pillory, the stocks and the jougs. In Scotland, even more feared than the pillory was the punishment of having to appear in church every Sunday for a given number of weeks, usually twenty-six or fifty-two, to be harangued for half an hour in front of the congregation by the minister — for which purpose, in some churches, offenders were fastened to the wall in iron collars, or jougs. This was the penalty for adulterers and fornicators of both sexes, and was greatly feared. So much so, that it caused a sharp rise in the infanticide rate, for women who had illegitimately become pregnant preferred to risk the capital penalty for infanticide rather than admit the facts and suffer such extreme public humiliation. (112)
Interestingly enough, we find no revival of this public humiliation when the puritan view again triumphed during the Victorian period, while at the present day, when standards are once more permissive, it is beginning to be used again. The Russians rely rather extensively on these public pressures, and they are also the real sanction behind Congressional investigations when these are conducted with the extensive publicity accorded to the Committee for Investigating Un-American Activities. They are, of course, a dangerous device since they provide an opportunity for the malignant to direct their hatred and sadistic impulses on the victim. The pillory itself was not a severe sanction, it was the stones thrown by the Crowd which were liable to cause permanent injury, and it was not unknown for prisoners to commit suicide in it. (200) In thus slyly appealing to these destructive forces, the Puritans betrayed the vindictive character of their own unconscious motives.
The Reformation gave rise to the Counter-Reformation — the attempt of the Catholic Church to correct the abuses which, it was assumed, had caused the defection of much of northern Europe to the Protestant teaching. For the ordinary historian, this is a movement opposed to the Protestant Reformation and contrasted with it. Psychologically, however, it can be regarded as an exactly similar movement — a retreat to patrism. Finding that the Church, in the softer air of Italy, had gone so far towards matrism as to antagonize the powerful patrist element which survived in northern Europe, the Church hastily retreated to a stricter standard before any more of its followers left it.
There were certain points of difference, naturally. The Catholic Church made no attempt to substitute the infallibility of the Bible for that of the Pope; nor did it adopt the patriarchal and almost polygamous view of the family which Luther and Calvin favoured. While it revived its former attitude of seeing sexual sin as infinitely worse than other sins, it did not make the general attack on light-hearted gaiety which the Calvinists were making. But, in broad terms, its reforms were patrist. In particular, it reverted to sadistic persecution and masochistic self torture in the mediaeval manner, and it opposed the growth of research and enquiry even more rigidly than had Calvin. The Council of Trent, summoned by the Pope, reiterated all the mediaeval regulations and, as Lord Acton, himself a Catholic, has observed,
"impressed on the church the stamp of an intolerant age and perpetuated by its decrees the spirit of an austere immorality".
The enactments of this ill-attended body remain the Catholic code to this day.
The principal weapon in enforcing these regulations was the Society of Jesus, whose maxim was "If the church preaches that a thing which appears to us as white is black, we must proclaim it black immediately" — an attitude of mind which has become unpleasantly familiar to us today from another quarter of the compass. (34) Nothing conveys better than this phrase the contemptible acceptance of authoritarianism, the miserable abandonment of the faculties of judgment and initiative, the blank lack of interest in truth and learning, which characterized the Counter-Reformation. Following in the wake of the conquering Spanish armies, the Jesuits re-established the terror of the Inquisition. Paul IV enlarged its powers and instituted the index of prohibited books. Speculative enquiry became mortally dangerous. (247) In 1600 Giordano Bruno was burnt for holding, what the Greeks, Romans and Chaldeans had realized ages before, that the universe evolved. (When in 1889, a statue was erected to Bruno opposite the Vatican, the Pope seriously considered leaving Rome.) The already dead body of Archbishop Antonio de Dominis, a Dean of Windsor, was formally burnt, together with his writings on the nature of light. Galileo was tortured and imprisoned by the same man who, as Cardinal, had befriended him. Campanella was tortured seven times for defending Galileo. Descartes, whose Principia had narrowly escaped the charge of being heretical, was so discouraged by the fate of Galileo that he abandoned his plan for a magnum opus, the "Treatise on the World". When G. P. Porta, inventor of the camera obscura, founded a society for experimental research, Pius III banned it — probably because he was the first man to write a treatise on meteorology, whereas the Church held that storms were caused by God or by witches. Once Florence had been the seat of learning and enlightenment: but here too the Church intervened, destroying the Accademia del Cimento, which Borelli had founded
"to investigate nature by the pure light of experiment".
Papal infallibility had its set-backs, of course. In 1493, for instance, Alexander VI, on the basis of his belief that the earth was flat, drew a line on the map and ruled that all-territory east of it belonged to the Portuguese, all territory west to the Spaniards. The Portuguese promptly confounded his intention by reaching South America by the eastward route and claiming Brazil. Shortly after, Magellan circumnavigated the globe. Yet the flatness of the earth was taught for another two centuries in Catholic territories. (247)
And with all this went, as before, a display of fiendish sadism. The Renaissance tyrants had often been careless of the lives and feelings of others, but they had not gloated over suffering — as that austere fanatic Ghislieri gloated over the cruelties of Alva and urged on the persecutors of the Huguenots with a relish which had not been seen since the days of the Albigensian crusade. For this he was rewarded by canonization, an honour accorded to no Pope since his time. He was followed by Sixtus V, whom Fisher calls
"a Philistine from whose hands no ancient monument, however beautiful, was safe";
he set poisoned dishes for bandits and delighted to watch them die. (83)
And in the Church at large, algolagnia was once more elevated to a virtue. The repulsive tastes of the Alacoque have already been described. Her spiritual director said:
"I do not disapprove of this hatred you have for your body and this pleasure you experience at seeing it perish away according to the spirit of the gospel."
(This from the Church which had thrown up its hands in horror at the Endura!) From her visions of the bleeding heart of Christ was derived the dreadful movement known as the Adoration of the Sacred Heart, which continues to this day. As the movement developed, the Sacred Heart was represented more and more bloodily, and, finally, as in all fetishisms, the object of libido was portrayed in isolation, divorced from the sacred person, a single lump of bleeding muscle: until, in the present century, the Jesuits, who study psychology, must have warned Rome what was happening. The Pope, in approving the cult, had been careful to stress that the Heart must be worshipped only as symbolic of Jesus's love, but the Bishop of Paderborn — a centre of the cult — later gave the game away by stating explicitly that it was the actual physical organ which the devotees of this cult worshipped, and not the symbol. (127)
In analysing the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation as slightly differing bids for the restoration of a restrictive and guilt-ridden system, it must be recognized that there were many other factors at work. The growth of knowledge, and various sociological developments, were altering the whole framework within which any such bid would have to be made; and such a bid would only be effective in proportion as there were persons to whom such a system would appeal on economic or social grounds — as well as on the psychological grounds which we; have already considered — or who could adapt it to their ends Perhaps the most important of these factors was the fact that a middle class had emerged, a bourgeois, that is a towns dwelling class, a trading and manufacturing group between the agricultural villein and the feudal lord. These craftsmen and traders, banded together in townships and already united by professional associations (gilds) had set up town councils which won the right to levy taxes and maintain order within the town limits. Thus there had emerged, for the first time since the collapse of the Graeco-Roman world, the idea of an authority set up by the governed for their own convenience and able to be dismissed if ever it forgot that convenience: in a word, the beginning of democracy. The dangerous thought had been born that authority could be exercised which was not derive from God and bestowed by the Church or the Crown. Such facts as these transformed the context within which a religious movement must operate.
The trading class was more interested in the commercial an domestic virtues of honesty, public order, respect for proper and avoidance of bastardry (which complicates the inheritance of property) than in the knightly virtues of bravery and courtesy to women, on the one hand, or the churchly virtues of prayer and self punishment, on the other. A new bourgeois morality was slowly emerging. Here then was a group naturally predisposed to cast off the discipline of the Church and to reject the ecclesiastical system of law which, since it claimed the right to try even the dead and to confiscate their property if need be, made all contractual arrangements uncertain. (142)
This middle class was increasingly suspicious of the economic activities of the Church. For instance, the Church had hitherto administered all charity, and had not, in the opinion of some, administered it well. So rich burghers, wishing to leave money for charity, took to leaving it to the town council to administer. In such ways as these, the Church's authority was undermined from without, even while its own venality was undermining it from within.
The doctrine of Calvin, making work a virtue, emphasizing the hoarding of gains rather than their ostentatious expenditure, even permitting usury up to a point, was much better calculated to appeal to these small entrepreneurs than the rigidities of Catholicism, and it is no accident that it is the countries which embraced Protestantism which subsequently made the greatest social, economic and political advances. (224)