A Papal Patron Of Education And Science
( Originally Published 1911 )
The question of the Papal bill supposed to forbid chemistry, or at least its mother science, alchemy, has necessarily brought into prominence in this volume the name of Pope John XXII. Few Popes in history have been the subject of more bitter denunciation than John. Writers on the history of the Papacy who were themselves not members of the Catholic Church, have been almost a unit in condemning him for many abuses of Papal power, especially such as were associated with the employment of Church privileges for the accumulation of money. Certain Catholic historians even have not found themselves able to rid their appreciation of the character of Pope John from similar objections. It is acknowledged that he was one of the most learned men of his time. It is confessed that he was one of the most abstemious of men. Indeed, in this respect he has been very appropriately compared with Pope Leo XIII. He did succeed in setting the Papacy on a firm foundation in Avignon, and did arrange the financial economy of the Church in such a way that large amounts of money were bound to accumulate in the Papal treasury.
This has been the main element of the accusations against him. A prominent American encyclopaedia summed up his character very trenchantly as follows : "He was learned in Canon Law and was remarkable for avarice." Many have not hesitated to say that even his condemnation of alchemy had for its main purpose the idea of added revenues for the Papal See, by the fines inflicted, and by the confiscation of the goods of those condemned as well as by the Court fees in the matter, though there is nothing in the decree to justify such an opinion, and we have pointed out that the fines collected were, according to the document itself, to be given to the poor.
With the ecclesiastical aspects of Pope John's character we have nothing to do here. It would require a large volume by itself properly to tell the story of his life, for he was one of the most influential men of an important time, and though he ascended the Papal throne when he was past seventy, he lived to be ninety, and his pontificate is filled with evidence of his strenuous activity till the end of his life. There is no doubt that the regulations for which he is responsible with regard to the Papal finances eventually led to very serious abuses in the Church. It is easy to understand, how-ever, how special arrangements had to be made for the support of the Holy See at Avignon. Pope John XXII. 's predecessor, Clement, was the first Pope who, because of the unsettled state of affairs in Italy and the influence of the French King, resolved to live at Avignon instead of Rome. Under these circumstances, the ordinary sources of revenue for the support of the Papal Court, which required comparatively as expensive an establishment then as now, were more or less cut off. During the first pontificate at Avignon, this proved a serious drawback to ecclesiastical efficiency. In Pope John's time the necessity for providing revenues became acute. Besides, he wished to make the new Papal City as worthy of the Holy See as the old one had been. To him is largely due the development of Avignon, which occurred during the fourteenth century. The abuses which his regulations in this matter led to did not culminate in his time, but came later. The revenues obtained by him were, as we shall see, used to excellent purpose, and were applied to such educational and missionary uses as would eminently meet the approval of the most demanding of critics in modern times.
John was a liberal and discriminating patron of learning and of education in his time. He helped colleges in various parts of the world, established a college in the East, and sent out many missionaries at his own ex-pense. These missionaries proved as efficient as modern travelers in adding to the knowledge of the East at that time, and practically laid the foundations of the science of geography.)
What is of special interest to us here, however, in this volume, is the fact that Pope John gave all the weight of the Papal authority, the most important influence of the time in Europe, to the encouragement of medical schools, the maintenance of a high standard in them, and the development of scientific medicine. At this time medicine included many of the physical sciences as we know them at the present time. Botany, mineralogy, climatology, even astrology, as astronomy was then called, were the subjects of study by physicians, the last named because of the supposed influence of the stars on the human constitution. Because of his encouragement of medical schools and his emphatic insistence on their maintaining high standards, Pope John must be commended as a patron of science and as probably having exerted the most beneficial influence in his time on education.
This is of course very different from what is usually said of this Pope. Prof. White can scarcely find words harsh enough to apply to him, because of his supposed superstition and the influence which he had upon his time in leading men's minds away from science and into the foolish absurdities of superstitious practices. Pope John XXII. is one of the special bętes noires of the some-time President of Cornell. Yet, I am sure that when the formal documents which Pope John has left relating to education and science are read by modern educators, they cannot help but consider him as one of their most enterprising colleagues in the realm of education. In-deed, a number of his bulls read very much like the documents that issue occasionally from college presidents with regard to the maintenance of standards in education, and his encouragement of the giving of the best possible opportunities for scientific and literary studies, and especially that the smaller colleges shall be equal as far as possible to the greater institutions of learning, will arouse the sympathetic interest of every educator of the modern day.
The documents that I shall quote in translations (the originals may be found in the appendix) will show that the Pope wanted the doctorates in philosophy and in medicine to be given only after seven years of study, at least four of which were to be devoted to the post-graduate work in the special branch selected. He wished, moreover, to insist on the necessity for preliminary education. He wanted the permission to teach these branches, which in that day was equivalent to our term of doctorate, to be given in all institutions for the same amount of work and after similar tests. These are just the matters that have occupied the thoughts of university presidents for the last quarter of a century, and have been the subjects of discussion in the meetings of various college and university associations. Pope John's bulls would be interesting documents to have read before such associations even at the present time, and would form excellent suggestive material on which the discussion of the necessity for maintaining college standards might well be founded. This is so different from what is usually thought in the matter, that person-ally I have found it even rather amusing. It is not amusing, however, to think that this great progressive, yet conservative educator should have been so mis-represented by modern educators and historians, simply because they did not study the man in his own writings, but knew him only at second hand from those who judged his character from another standpoint.
All this will show John as really one of the greatest Popes not only in the century in which he lived, but as distinguished as only a comparatively small number have been among the successors of Peter. Though he ascended the Papal throne at the age of seventy, the next twenty years were full of work of all kinds, and John's wonderful capacity for work stamps him as one of the great men of all time. It is a well-known rule, constantly kept in mind by Catholic students of history, that the Popes against whom the most objections are urged by non-Catholic historians are practically always found, on close and sympathetic study, to be striking ex-amples of men who at least labored to accomplish much. As a rule, they strove to correct abuses, and as a consequence made bitter enemies, who left behind them many contemporary expressions of disapproval. Any contemporary authority is somehow supposed to be infallible. We forget, when a man tries to do good he is likely to meet with bitter opposition from many. If their expressions are taken seriously by historians who write with the purpose of finding just as little good and just as much evil as possible in a particular character, the resulting appreciation is likely to be rather far from the truth. If some of the criticisms of our present President are only preserved long enough, how easy it will be for a future historian who may have the purpose of showing how much of evil began as the result of his policy, to find material on which to build up his thesis. Men who do nothing make no enemies and also make no mistakes. Fortunately, however, doing things is its own justification.
John XXII. had had eminent opportunities for the acquisition of an education as thorough, and a culture as broad, as any that might be afforded even by our educational opportunities at the present time. He had been many years at the University of Paris ; he had traveled in England, a rare occurrence in those days, and had spent most of his time while there at Oxford ; he had also passed several years in Italy and was familiar with educational conditions down there. He certainly did more for education than any man of his generation. He had the greatest of opportunities, but it cannot but be said that he took them, very wonderfully. There are very few in all the history of education who have insisted as he on the important principles of the necessity for careful training, for the maintenance of high standards in examination and degree-giving, and for the endeavor to ring the large universities in intimate contact with the small ones, to the benefit especially of the latter, though, as we know now, always also to the reactionary advantage of the important institutions. All this is to be found in the documentary history of a man who has been set up as an object of scorn and derision by modern educators, who surely, if they knew the actual facts, would be sympathetic, and not antipathetic as they have been.
It seems too bad that it was just this man that should have been picked out for the slander that he had pre-vented the development of chemistry by a Papal decree, which proves on examination to be only an added evidence of his beneficent care for his people. But this is not the only charge that has been brought against Pope John XXII. President White has painted his character in the worst possible colors. Even after his attention was called to the fact that the document supposed to prohibit chemistry did not have any of the meaning which he attributed to it in his History of the Warfare of Science With Theology in Christendom, he still could find terms scarcely black enough in which to paint Pope John, and recurs to other documents issued by that Pope to prove his assertions. Strangely enough, especially after the warning of having had to acknowledge that one quotation from him was entirely wrong, he proceeds to quote another bull by the same Pope, that he has evidently never read, and his remarks with regard to it show that he never took the trouble to learn anything about this Pope by reading any of the original documents that he issued, but depends entirely on second-hand authorities. He says :
"It is a pity that Dr. Walsh does not quote in full Pope John's other and much more interesting bull, Super illius specula, of 1326, One would suppose from the doctor's account that this Pontiff was a kindly and rational scholar seeking to save the people from the clutch of superstition. The bull of 1326 shows Pope John him-self, in spite of his infallibility, sunk in superstition, the most abject and debasing ; for, in this bull, supposed to be inspired from wisdom from on high, Pope John complains that both he and his flock are in danger of their lives by the arts of the sorcerers. He declares that such sorcerers can shut up devils in mirrors, finger-rings and phials, and kill men and women by a magic word ; that they had tried to kill him by piercing a waxen image of him with needles, in the name of the devil. He there-fore, not only in this bull, but in brief after brief, urged bishops, inquisitors and other authorities, sacred and secular, to hunt down the miscreants who thus afflicted the faithful, and he especially increased the power of the inquisitors in various parts of Europe for this pur-pose. This bull it was indeed, and others to the same purpose, which stimulated that childish fear and hatred against the investigation of nature which was felt for centuries and which caused chemistry to be known more and more as one of the `seven devilish arts.'"
There can be no doubt that this is an awful arraign-ment of a Pope. The bull in question is quoted so confidently under its Latin title that anyone who reads this paragraph must necessarily conclude that it contains all that President White says, and that he was fresh from the reading of it. I may say that, though I had already found that two other Papal documents had been utterly misrepresented in President White's references, I could not bring myself to think that the same thing might be true with regard to this third Papal document cited by him. After having had two lessons in the necessity for careful collation of his references to his authorities, I did not think it possible for him to make another mis-quotation, if possible, more serious than the preceding examples. Though I had by me, thanks to my good friend Father Corbett, of St. Charles Seminary, Over-brook, Pa., a copy of this bull at the time I wrote an answer to some of President White's curious wanderings into the history of anatomy and chemistry, I did not consult it, for I felt sure that it must contain the expressions which were so confidently quoted. My surprise can be better imagined than described when on reading the bull I found that it contained practically no foundation for the awful charges made by President White. I had been given another lesson in the difference between traditional and documentary history, the significance of which will, I hope, be appreciated by others. It led me to consult further bulls of John XXII., which bring out his character better than any modern historian possibly can, and which serve to show that, far from being an obscurantist in any sense of the word, he was deeply interested in education, expressed his appreciation for it on many occasions in the highest terms, encouraged his people to seek it, in any and every form, scientific as well as literary and philosophic, and stated confidently that education would surely redound to the benefit of the Church and deserved to be the special object of ecclesiastical favor.
First. however, let me quote the bull Super illius specula, of which President White has said so much. I present a close, almost literal, translation of the document as it is to be found in the collections of Thomas-setti and Coquelines. As President White conceded that my translation of the previous document of Pope John with regard to alchemy was flawless, I shall be careful not to undo his compliment.
" Seeking to discover how the sons of men know and serve God by the practice of the Christian religion, we look down from the watch-tower where, though un-worthy, we have been placed by the favoring clemency of Him who made the first man after His own image and likeness ; setting him over earthly things ; adorning him with heavenly virtues ; recalling him when a wanderer ; bestowing on him a law ; freeing him from slavery ; finding him when he was lost ; and finally ransoming him from captivity by the merit of His passion. With grief we discover, and the very thought of it wrings our soul with anguish, that there are many Christians only in name ; many who turn away from the light which once was theirs, and allow their minds to be so clouded with the darkness of error as to enter into a league with death and a compact with hell. They sacrifice to demons and adore them, they make or cause to be made images, rings, mirrors, phials or some such things in which by the art of magic evil spirits are to be enclosed. From them they seek and receive replies, and ask aid in satisfying their evil desires. For a foul pur-pose they submit to the foulest slavery. Alas ! this deadly malady is increasing more than usual in the world and inflicting greater and greater ravages on the flock of Christ.
" SECTION I. —Since, therefore, we are bound by the duty of our pastoral office to bring back to the fold of Christ the sheep who are wandering through devious ways and to exclude from the Lord's flock those who are diseased lest they should infect the rest, We, by this edict, which, in accordance with the counsel of our brother bishops, is to remain in perpetual vigor, warn all and in virtue of holy obedience and under pain of anathema enjoin on all those who have been regenerated in the waters of baptism not to inculcate or study any of the perverse teachings we have mentioned, or, what is more to be condemned, practise them in any manner upon any one.
"SECTION II. And because it is just that those who by their deeds make mockery of the Most High should meet with punishments worthy of their transgressions we pronounce the sentence of excommunication which it is our will they shall ipso facto incur, who shall presume to act contrary to our salutary warnings and commands. And we firmly decree that in addition to the above penalties a process shall be begun before competent judges for the infliction of all and every penalty which heretics are subject to according to law, except confiscation of goods, against such as being duly admonished of the foregoing or any of the foregoing practices, have not within eight days from the time when the admonition was given amended their lives in the aforesaid matters.
" SECTION III. -Moreover, since it is proper that no opportunity or occasion should be given for such flagitious practices, We, in conformity with the advice of our brother bishops, ordain and command that no one shall presume to have or to hold books or writing of any kind containing any of the before-mentioned errors or to make a study of them. On the contrary, we desire and in virtue of holy obedience we impose the precept upon all, that whoever shall have any of the aforesaid writings or books shall, within the space of eight days from their knowledge of our edict in this matter, destroy and burn them and every part thereof absolutely and completely ; otherwise, we decree that they incur the sentence of excommunication ipso facto and, when the evidence is clear, that other and greater penalties shall be inflicted upon culprits of this kind."
Now here is a Papal document that, far from containing any of the superstitions that President White so outspokenly declares it to contain, is a worthy expression of the fatherly feelings of the head of Christendom that might well have been issued at even the most enlightened period of the world's history. The two sentences on which all of President White's serious accusation is founded are simple expressions of the Pope's solicitude for his flock on hearing of some of the practices that some are said to give themselves up to. He does not say even that sorcerers can shut up devils in mirrors, finger-rings and phials, but uses the hypothetical expression that in these things, by magic art, evil spirits are to be enclosed. The bull has no reference at all to the killing of men and women by a magic word, and where President White found that Pope John declares in this bull that sorcerers had tried to kill him by piercing a waxen image of him with needles in the name of the devil; it is impossible to understand ; I should like very much to know what his authority is, because then it could be refuted in its source. As it is, Dr. White said it was in the bull, and now every one can see for him-self that it is not.
Let us go a step further and take President White's single sentence, " One would suppose from the doctor's (Dr. Walsh's) account that this Pontiff was a kindly and rational scholar seeking to save the people from the clutch of superstition," and let us illustrate the phrase "a kindly and rational scholar" by some documents is-sued by Pope John XXII. Take for instance the special bull issued by him for the confirmation of the establish-ment of chairs in canon and civil law, and the founding of masterships in medicine and in arts in the University of Perugia by which he also conveyed the authority to confer the degrees of doctor and bachelor in all these faculties on those who were found worthy after careful examinations. In the preamble of this bull we shall find abundant evidence of Pope John's kindly and rational scholarship, of his eminent desire to encourage education in all its forms, literary and scientific, and to make the people of his time understand how valuable he considered education, not only for the sake of the individuals who might acquire it, but also for the Church and for the cause of religion.
" While with deep feelings of solicitous consideration we mentally resolve how precious the gift of science is and how desirable and glorious is its possession, since through it the darkness of ignorance is put to flight and the clouds of error completely done away with so that the trained intelligence of students disposes and orders their acts and modes of life in the light of truth, we are moved by a very great desire that the study of letters in which the priceless pearl of knowledge is found should everywhere make praiseworthy progress, and should especially flourish more abundantly in such places as are considered to be more suitable and fitting for the multiplication of the seeds and salutary germs of right teaching. Whereas some time ago, Pope Clement of pious memory, our predecessor, considering the purity of faith and the excelling devotion which the city of Perugia belonging to our Papal states is recognized to have maintained for a long period towards the church, wishing that these might increase from good to better in the course of time, deemed it fitting and equitable that this same city, which had been endowed by Divine Grace with the prerogatives of many special favors, should be distinguished by the granting of university powers, in order that by the goodness of God men might be raised up in the city itself pre-eminent for their learning, decreed by the Apostolic authority that a university should be situated in the city and that it should flourish there for all future time with all those faculties that may be found more fully set forth in the letter of that same predecessor aforesaid. And whereas we subsequently, though unworthy, having been raised to the dignity of the Apostolic primacy, are desirous to reward with a still richer gift the same city of Perugia for the proofs of its devotion by which it has proven itself worthy of the favor of the Apostolic See, by our Apostolic authority and in accordance with the council of our brother bishops, we grant to our venerable brother the Bishop of Perugia and to those who may be his successors in that diocese the right of conferring on persons who are worthy of it the license to teach (the Doctorate) in canon and civil law, according to that fixed method which is more fully described and regulated more at length in this our letter.
" Considering, therefore, that this same city, because of its conveniences and its many favoring conditions, is altogether suitable for students and wishing on that account to amplify the educational concessions hitherto made because of the public benefits which we hope will flow from them, we decree by Apostolic authority that if there are any who in the course of time shall in that same university attain the goal of knowledge in medical science and the liberal arts and should ask for license to teach in order that they may be able to train others with more freedom, that they may be examined in that university in the aforesaid medical sciences and in the arts and be decorated with the title of Master in these same faculties. We further decree that as often as any are to receive the degree of Doctor in medicine and arts as aforesaid, they must be presented to the Bishop of Perugia, who rules the diocese at the time or to him whom the bishop shall have appointed for this purpose, who having selected teachers of the same faculty in which the examinations are to be made, who are at that time present in the university to the number of at least four, they shall come together without any charge to the candidate and, every difficulty being removed, should diligently endeavor that the candidate be examined in science, in eloquence, in his mode of lecturing, and any-thing else which is required for promotion to the degree of doctor or master. With regard to those who are found worthy their teachers should be further consulted privately, and any revelation of information obtained at such consultations as might redound to the disadvantage or injury of the consultors is strictly forbidden. If all is satisfactory the candidate should be approved and admitted and the license to teach granted. Those who are found unfit must not be admitted to the degree of doctor, all leniency or prejudice or favor being set aside.
" In order that the said university may in the afore-said studies of medicine and the arts so much more fully grow in strength, according as the professors who actually begin the work and teaching there are more skillful, we have decided that until four or five years have passed some professors, two at least, who have secured their degree in the medical sciences at the University of Paris, under the auspices of the Cathedral of Paris, and who shall have taught or acted as masters in the before-mentioned University of Paris, shall be selected for the duties of the masterships and the professional chairs in said department in the University of Perugia and they shall continue their work in this last-mentioned university until noteworthy progress in the formation of good students shall have been made.
" With regard to those who are to receive the degree of doctor in medical science, it must be especially observed that all those seeking the degree shall have heard lectures in all the books of this same science which are usually required to be heard by similar students at the universities of Bologna or of Paris and that this shall continue for seven years. Those, however, who have elsewhere received sufficient instruction in logic or philosophy having applied themselves to these studies for five years in the aforesaid universities, with the provision, however, that at least three years of the aforesaid five or seven-year term shall have been devoted to hearing lectures in medical science in some university, and according to custom, shall have been examined under duly authorized teachers and shall have, besides, read such books outside the regular course as may be required may, with due observation of all the regulations which are demanded for the taking of degrees in Paris or Bologna, also be allowed to take the examination at Perugia."
Here is a bull issued within five years after the bull which President White so falsely impugns and which tells a very different story with regard to the relation-ship of the Popes to education in general, and especially to scientific education, from that which unfortunate mis-representations have accorded to them. Perugia was a city of the Papal States, though really scarcely more than under the dominion of the Popes in name. The citizens exercised a large freedom not only in all civic matters, but even in regard to their relationships with neighboring cities and political powers. One of the things which Pope John seems to have been especially solicitous about,. however, as we shall see in a subsequent bull, was that the educational institutions in the Papal States should be maintained at a high standard. A university had been established at Perugia by his predecessor, and Pope John not only confirmed this establishment, but gave the additional privilege of conferring degrees in Canon and Civil Law as well as in Medicine and the Arts.
Lest there should be any thought that the fact that the conferring of such privileges by the Pope might seem to be a limitation of university privilege, it may be said at once that pra tidally all universities have at all times been under the supervision of Government and have derived their privileges from the political authorities. During the Middle Ages the universities were really developments of Cathedral schools, and as such were usually under the authority of the Chancellor of the Cathedral. As an ecclesiastical person he looked to the Pope as the source of his authority, and in order that uniformity of requirement for various degrees and of educational methods might be maintained, there was practically universal agreement that such centralization of the power to grant privileges for the erection of universities and the conferring of degrees was the most practical way. With regard to Perugia besides there was the additional reason that the Pope represented the political as well as the ecclesiastical authority in the matter, and that very naturally the encouragement for the good educational work already being done in the Umbrian City should come from him.
This premised, certain features of this bull are especially noteworthy in the light of modern educational experiences. The Pope was confirming the establishment of a new university. It was to be as he realized, a smaller university in size, but he did not want its standard of education to be lower than that of the great universities. For this reason he insists specifically in the bull that the license to teach—the equivalent of our modern doctorate in law, letters and science, shall not be given except after the completion of a course equivalent to those given in these subjects in Paris or Bologna, the great universities of the time, and that the examination shall be quite as rigid and shall be conducted under conditions that, as far as human foresight can arrange, shall preclude all possibility of favoritism of any kind entering into the promotion of candidates for these degrees. The fact that oaths were required in the hope that standards would be thus maintained shows how seriously the subject of education was taken at this time, when, if we would believe some of those who depreciate the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical efforts were mainly occupied with the attempt to keep the people as ignorant as possible.
This phase of the Papal decree is all the more interesting when it is viewed in the light of some modern educational developments. A few years ago there was a very general complaint that the doctorate in philosophy was conferred too easily, especially by the minor universities, and that as a consequence&this degree had come to mean very little. It required a distinct crusade of effort to raise standards in this matter, and even at the present time the situation is not entirely satisfactory. A very curious element in the situation lies in the fact that, in comparison to the number of students, certain of the smaller universities confer this distinction much more frequently than the larger universities. This was found to be true even among the German universities, where I believe that according to statistics the little University of Rostock, in Mecklenberg, confers the degree proportionately oftener than any other German university. Pope John XXII. was evidentlyendeavoring to prevent any such development as this, or perhaps he was trying to remedy an abuse which he knew had already crept in, for all of his bulls on educational matters insist with no little emphasis on the necessity for the maintenance of a high standard of educational requirements as regards the length of time in years and the books to be read and lectures attended, as well as on the rigor, yet absolute fairness of examinations.
I am sure that the bulls of John XXII. must never have come under President White's eyes, or he, as an experienced educator who has had to meet most of these problems in our time, would have been more sympathetic with this medieval ecclesiastic, who did all in his power to maintain university standards. Pope John's career deserves study by all modern educators for this reason, and the surprise of it will be that in education, as practically in everything else, in spite of our present-day self-complacency in the matter of educational progress, there is nothing new under the sun, certainly nothing new in the problems university authorities have to meet in order to maintain their standards.
The best possible proof that Pope John XXII. was not opposed in any way to the development of science nor to the study of sciences at the universities is to be found in his establishment of this medical school at Perugia. We may say at once that this is not the only medical school with whose encouragement he was concerned since the erection of the University of Cahors, his birthplace, and the establishment of a medical school there, as well as the provision of funds for certain medical chairs in the University at Rome, shows the reality and the breadth of his interest in medicine. It must be remembered that under the term medicine at this time most of the physical sciences as we know them now were included. It is the custom sometimes to think that the students of medicine in the Middle Ages knew very little about medicine itself or the sciences related to medi-cine.. This thought was excusable some years ago when the old medical text-books of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries had not as yet been printed.
At the present time, such a mistake would be un-pardonable for any scholar who pretends to first-hand knowledge of this period. In the chapter on Science at the Medieval Universities I call special attention to the fact that medicine and surgery developed in such a wonderful way at the medical schools of the universities of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that many presumed discoveries of much later times were marvelously anticipated. A short catalogue of them here may not be out of place, though the reader is referred to other chapters for further details. In the medical schools which Pope John XXII. was then fostering, they taught the ligature of arteries, the prevention of bleeding by pressure, the danger of wounds of the neck, the relation of dropsy to hardening of the kidneys, the true origins of the venereal diseases, the methods of treating joint diseases, the suture of divided nerves, the use of the knife rather than the cautery because it made a cleaner wound which healed more readily, and even, wonder of wonders, healing by first intention. Anyone who was fostering this kind of education in medicine was advancing the cause of one of the applied sciences in a very wonderful way.
If we add that, at this same time the proper use of opium in medicine was a feature of medical teaching which had just been introduced by a Papal physician, while a form of anaesthesia was being practically developed and very generally employed, the question will be why we, in the twentieth century, do not know ever so much more than we actually do, rather than why these earnest students of the thirteenth century knew so little, which is the absurd thought that most authorities in education seem to entertain at the present time with regard to our forbears of early university history. The student of medicine during the thirteenth century had to devote himself very nearly to the same department of science as those which occupy his col-leagues of the present century.
The prospectus of a medical school of the time would announce very probably some such program of studies as this. Besides learning something of astrology (the astronomy of the day) the student would be expected to know much about climate and its influence on disease, and about soil in its relation to pathology (these were supposed to be fruitful causes of disease). Certain minerals, among them very probably antimony, were beginning to be used in medical practice, and so mineralogy was a special subject of study. Of plants they were expected to know in a general way much more than the modern medical student, to whom botany is not considered of much importance, and of zoology they probably had at least as great practical knowledge, since many of their dissections were made on animals, and the differences in structure between them and man were pointed out when the annual anatomies or human dissections at the universities were made. Of pharmacology and the allied subject, chemistry, they had to know all that would enable them to use properly the several hundred vegetable remedies then used in medicine. This will give an idea, then, what were in general the studies which Pope John was trying to foster with so much care in the University of Perugia.
There is another phase of his regulations with regard to medical schools which cannot but prove of the greatest interest to members of our present-day medical faculties. It has been realized for some time, that what is needed more than anything else to make good physicians for the present generation is that medical students should have a better preliminary education than has been the case in the past. In order to secure this, various states have required evidence of a certain number of years spent at high school or college before a medical student's certificate allowing entrance into a medical school will be granted. Some of the most prominent medical schools have gone even farther than this, and have required that a degree in arts should be obtained in the under-graduate department before medical studies may be taken up. Something of this same kind was manifestly in Pope John's mind when he required that seven years should have been spent at a university, at least three years of which should have been entirely devoted to medical studies, before the candidate might be allowed to go up for his examination for the doctor's degree.
As we begin the twentieth century, we note that the presidents of our American universities are trying to se-cure just exactly the same number of years of study for candidates for the degree of Doctor of Medicine, as this medieval Pope insisted on as a prerequisite for the same degree in a university founded in the Papal States at the beginning of the fourteenth century. After the year 1910 most of the large universities in this country will not admit further students to their medical departments unless they have a college degree or its equivalent, that is, unless they have devoted four years to college under-graduate work. It is generally understood, that in the last year of his undergraduate course the student who intends to take up medicine may elect such scientific studies in the college department as will obtain for him an allowance of a year's work in the medical school. He will then be able to complete his medical course in three years, so that our modern institutions will, if our plans succeed, require just exactly the same amount of time for the doctorate in Medicine as Pope John demanded, and not only demanded, but required by legal regulation, for this bull was a law in the Papal States, just six centuries ago. The coincidence is so striking that, only that it is supported by documentary evidence of the best kind, we could scarcely believe it.
Yet it is the Pope who encouraged devotion to science in all forms as it was studied in his day, who insisted that the standards of education in the universities of the Papal States, over which he had direct control, should be equal to those of Paris and Bologna, who suggested that teachers should be brought from the famous universities for the purpose of introducing the best educational methods, who is now declared by President White to have " stimulated the childish fear and hatred against the investigation of nature which was felt for centuries, and whose decrees and briefs are said to have caused chemistry to be known more and more as one of the `seven devilish arts. Here is the striking difference between traditional and documentary history.
There are other bulls of Pope John which serve to bring out his interest in education quite as clearly as this one, and show that the ecclesiastics of the time were encouraged to think and act up to the thought, that education of all kinds was sure to be of benefit to the Church and her members. In extending the privileges of the University of Perugia on another occasion by the bull Inter ceteras curas, John declared that among the other cares which were enjoined on him from on high by his Apostolic office and amongst the many projects which were constantly in his mind for the betterment of religion, his thoughts were directed more frequently and more ardently to this conclusion than to any other, that the professors of the Catholic faith whom the true light of the true faith illuminates should be imbued with the deepest wisdom and should become erudite in all the studies that bring profitable knowledge. For, he adds, this gift cannot be bought by any price, but is divinely granted to minds that are of good will. For the possession of knowledge is evidently desirable, since by it the darkness of ignorance and the gloom of error are entirely done away with and the intelligence of students is increased so as to direct all their acts and deeds in the light of truth. "It is for this reason (and no wonder)," he adds "that I am led to encourage the study of letters in which the priceless pearl of knowledge is to be found, and especially in such places as may bear worthy fruit for the Church itself and for its members."
The expressions that he here uses are almost word for word, though not quite the same as occur in other bulls, showing that a sort of formula was constantly used to express the opinion of the Holy See with regard to the desirableness of knowledge and the benefit that might be expected to flow from education. Not all of the bull, however, is a formula, since in the rest of it Pope John insists that at least five years must be required at the university for the study of Canon and Civil Law, and de-tailed injunctions are set forth as to the method of examination so as to secure two things, first that a proper standard shall be maintained and that those who have completed the course shall have the right to examinations without further payment of fees, and secondly, that such examinations shall be absolutely fair, without any favor being shown to the applicant in any way, and at the same time without any prejudice being allowed to influence his examiners against him.
Lest readers should be tempted to think of Perugia as a town of very slight importance from a political and civil standpoint, and therefore consider anything done for it as amounting to very little in the culture or influence of the period, a short sketch of it will not be out of place. This little town has had the distinction of being the center of interest in at least four marvelous epochs of human development. Long before Roman civilization in Italy arose, the Etruscans did some of their greatest art-work in the country around Perugia, the remains of which have been unearthed in recent years. Seven centuries later, the Romans left some magnificent architectural monuments of their occupation of this neighborhood. Somewhat more than a thousand years passed, and St. Francis breathed his profound spirit of love for nature in all its forms into the world almost within sight of its walls, and with him the Renaissance began. The great Umbrian school of painters in the Renaissance period came from this district, and they include such names as Raphael and his great master Perugino, who received his name from his birthplace. Before John XXII. did so much to make it a center of culture and education for this portion of Italy, it had been noted in the early part of the thirteenth century for possessing a library of Canon and Civil Law to which scholars often traveled from great distances for consultation purposes. The Pope, then, though in distant Avignon, was greatly helping on that movement which was to culminate and mean so much for Umbria, that great center of culture and influence in the Renaissance time.
In erecting the University of Cahors, Pope John took occasion to say that he did so because the city promised to provide facilities and proper conditions for the university and he believed that the existence of such an institution would in very many ways be of benefit to the commonwealth. He wished, therefore, that in Cahors, "a copious, refreshing fountain of science should spring up and continue to flow, from whose abundance all the citizens might drink, and where those desirous of education might become imbued with knowledge so that the cultivators of wisdom might sow seed with success and all the student body become learned and eloquent and in every way distinguished, bearing abundant fruit which the Lord in His own good time would give them if they applied themselves with good will." He wished that the erection of the university should be considered as a special reward for their devotion to the Holy See and should always stand as a memorial of that.
The thought may possibly occur to some that Pope John, after having issued these noteworthy documents in the cause of education in the early years of his pontificate, might subsequently have changed his mind and considered with advancing years that the repression of the enthusiasm for learning would be better for his people from a spiritual standpoint. There is, however, no sign of this to be found in the important documents of his pontificate, nor would anyone think of it who realized that John became Pope at the age of 72, after having a very wide personal experience in political affairs as well as ecclesiastical matters, an experience which took him over many parts of Europe and must have greatly broadened his intellectual horizon, and that he remained in full possession of his wonderful intellectual powers until he was well past 90. Within two years before his death he issued the bull which laid the foundation of the University of Cahors, his native place. This he did at the request of the citizens of the town, who pleaded that no better memorial of their great fellow citizen who had become Pope could be raised among them than a university.
In the light of these other bulls it is not surprising to find that John should also have endeavored to main-tain the standard of the University of the City of Rome. It must be remembered that at this time the Popes were at Avignon, and that as a consequence the population of the city of Rome had greatly decreased and there were so many civic dissensions that very little attention could be given to educational matters. Pope John issued a bull, however, from Avignon, confirming the erection of the University of the City of Rome by his predecessor of happy memory, Boniface VIII. (the same who is said, though falsely, to have hampered the development of anatomy), and further laying down regulations for the maintenance of the standard of education in the Roman University. In this bull John says that he considers that a Pope could confer no greater favor on the City of Cities so closely attached to the Roman Church, than to bring about the re-establishment of the university there, so that the inhabitants and the visitors to Rome might all have the opportunity and also the incitement to seek after wisdom, for this is a gift which comes from on high, which cannot be bought for a price, but which is only granted to those who seek it with good will.
John proceeds to say that he hopes that the city of Rome shall, under the favor of Providence, produce men of pre-eminent worth in science, and that in order that the wishes of Pope Boniface VIII. in this matter may be fulfilled he confirms and extends all the privileges which had been originally granted. In the University at Rome there were also professors of medicine, and there is good historical authority for the assertion that John himself offered to pay out of the Papal revenues the salary of the professor of physic, in order that this department of the university might become established as firmly as were the other departments. In a word, in the documentary evidence so readily available to any one who wishes to consult it, we find John manifesting that he was " a kindly and rational scholar," to use President White's expression, " seeking, surely if education shall have any such effect, and in modern times we have been led to believe that it can, to save the people from the clutch of superstition." President White has employed the expression satirically. I think that any one who reads the contemporary documents in the case must acknowledge that it is literally true.
The life of Pope John XXII. is a striking example of the difference between traditional and documentary history. According to the traditions that have gathered around his name, John has been declared by many to be one of the banes of civilization and education in the Middle Ages. A little study of the documents issued by him shows him in quite a different light. He was not only interested in educational matters of every kind, but he was deeply intent, and as far as the Papal power enabled him he succeeded in carrying out his intention, of making education thoroughly effective in every department. It is by a man's intentions that he must be judged. John meant to do everything for the best. Unfortunately, some of his actions in the matter of the provision of revenues became subject later to abuse. For this it is hard to understand how he should be held responsible. In the meantime, for educators, the study of the actual documents issued by him and their utterly different significance from what might be expected ac-cording to the usually accepted notion of his character, cannot but prove a lesson in historical values. It illustrates very well a phase of history that has recently been called to attention.
As we have said, one hundred years ago De Maistre declared that history had been a conspiracy against the truth. At last a universal recognition is coming of the fact that history has been written entirely too much from the personal standpoint of the historian without due reference to contemporary documents and authorities, or with the citation of only such references from these as would support the special contention of the writer. Even the writers of history whose reputation has been highest have suffered from this fault, and the consequence is that on disputed points it is more important to know what party a historian belongs to than what he writes.
Is it not time that at least our educators should cease accepting this old traditional opinion with regard to the times before the reformation so-called, and get at the truth in the matter, or as near it as possible. These educators of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were zealous and earnest beyond cavil. That everyone admits. It is supposed, however, that they were ridiculously ignorant and superstitious. Only those who are themselves ridiculously ignorant and superstitious, for the real meaning of superstition is persistence in accepting a supposed truth that is a survival (superstes) from a previous state of knowledge, after the reasons for its acceptance have been shown to be groundless, will continue to believe this absurd proposition. If the educator of the modern day will only study with the sympathy they deserve, the lives of the earliest educators of modern times, the professors, the officials, and the ecclesiastical authorities as well as the Papal patrons of the universi-ties of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, we shall hear no more of the Church during the Middle Ages having been opposed to education, nor to science, nor to any other department of human knowledge.