History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages
By Ferdinand Gregorovius
Translated by Annie Hamilton
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2010
Online Publication Date:July 2011
Original Publication Year:1902
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511710247.004
Subjects: European history 1000-1450 , European history after 1450
The Papacy and culture.
Great was the part played by the Papacy in Renascence culture, the magnificent flower of an epoch in the world's history, after the expiration of which the Italian intellect naturally sank back in exhaustion from the feverish exertion to which it had been roused. The influence of the popes on the civilisation of mankind stood in exact proportion to their harmony with the requirements of the time. It was greatest in the Middle Ages, when all intellectual life lay under the spell of theology; it was powerful towards the close of this period, when the popes surrendered themselves to the humanistic current of the century, when the spirit of classic antiquity, the invigorating Gulfstream of culture, again flowed through the world of thought. Had the popes hurled the anathemas of their predecessors against pagan culture, or those of their successors against the tendencies of rationalism, they would have checked an entire civilisation. It was howevei the last time that the Papacy was able to assume an attitude of perfect harmony with the culture of the period. After the Council of Trent the Counter-Reformation, the Inquisition, and Jesuitism erected, so to speak, a Chinese wall around it, so that it lost connection with the progress of the time.