Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia:
The Early Protestants of the East.
AN ATTEMPT TO RESTORE SOME LOST LEAVES
OF PROTESTANT HISTORY.
L. P. BROCKETT, M. D.,
"The Cross And The Crescent", "History Of Religious Denominations",
A Bogomil congregation and its worship.—Mostar, on the Narenta
The Bogomilian doctrines and practices.—The Credentes and Perfecti.—Were
the Credentes baptized.
The orthodoxy of the Greek and Roman churches rather theological than
practical.—Fall of the Bulgarian Empire.
The Emperor Alexius Comnenus and the Bogomil Elder Basil.—The Alexiad
of the Princess Anna Comnena.
The martyrdom of Basil.—The Bogomil churches reinforced by the Armenian
Paulicians under the Emperor John Zimisces.
The purity of life of the Bogomils.—Their doctrines and practices.—Their
The missionary spirit and labors of the elders and Perfecti.—The
entire absence of any hierarchy.
The Bogomil churches in Bosnia and the Herzegovina.—Their doctrines more
thoroughly scriptural than those of the Bulgarian churches—Bosnia as a
banate and kingdom.
Bosnian history continued.—The good Ban Culin.
The growth of the Bogomil churches under Culin.—Their missionary zeal
The authorities from whose testimony this narrative is drawn.—Its thorough
corroboration by a cloud of witnesses.
The era of persecution.—The crusades against the Bogomils.—Archbishop
Further crusades.—The hostility of Pope Innocent IV.—More lenient, but
not more effective, measures.
The establishment of the Inquisition in Bosnia.—Letter of Pope John XXII.—Previous
testimony of enemies to the purity of the lives of the Bogomils.
Further persecution.—A lull in its fury during the over-lordship of the
Serbian Czar Stephen Dushan.—The reign of the Tvartko dynasty.
The Reformation in Bohemia and Hungary a Bogomil movement.—Renewal of
persecution under Kings Stephen Thomas and Stephen Tomasevic.—The Pobratimtso.
Overtures to the sultan.—The surrender of Bosnia to Mahomet II. under
stipulations.—His base treachery and faithlessness.—The cruel destruction
and enslavement of the Bogomils of Bosnia and, twenty years later, of
those of the Duchy of Herzegovina.
The Bogomils not utterly extinguished.—Their influence on society, literature,
and progress in the Middle Ages.—Dante, Milton, etc.—The Puritans.—Conclusion.
A BOGOMIL CONGREGATION AND ITS WORSHIP.—MOSTAR, ON THE NARENTA.
BUT let us picture to ourselves (and we have ample authority for the picture) a Bogomilian assembly at the close of the tenth century. We will choose for our location the ancient town of Mostar, in the Herzegovina, which was one of the principal seats of the new doctrine. Along its streets on the Lord's Day a company of plainly-dressed Bosniacs wend their way toward one of the narrow side streets of the town. They are met at every turn by gayly-dressed men and women, who are on their way either to the Greek church or to the theatre, and who are laughing, shouting, and apparently in the highest spirits; yet they move forward deliberately but determinedly across Trajan's beautiful bridge, which spans with a single arch of stone the swift and rocky channel of the Narenta, toward a plain, barnlike structure, whose rude stone walls and thatched roof give no indication that it is a temple for the worship of the Most High. They all enter, and the spacious room, with its bare walls and its rude benches, is soon filled. No pillars sustain the comparatively low ceiling; no pictures, bas-reliefs, or sculptures adorn the walls or attract the attention of the worshippers There is no altar radiant with gold and color, no screen for the choir, no pulpit even for the officiating minister; but at the rear of the room a plain table covered with a white linen cloth, and having upon it a manuscript copy of the New Testament, and a roll on which are inscribed some of the grand and inspiring hymns of the apostolic church, furnish the only. indications of the place of the leader of the congregation. By the side of the table sits an old man whose white locks fall upon his shoulders. His plain dress—that of the Bosniac farmer of that time—does not differ from that of the other men in the congregation. His fine intellectual face is hidden by his hand, and his attitude and manner indicate that he is engaged in silent prayer. Presently he rises from his seat, kneels reverently—his example being followed by all the congregation—and utters with evident sincerity and fervor a brief prayer full of feeling and evincing a spirit of devotion which shows that he at least is worthy of the name of Bogomil—"the man who prays."
At the conclusion of the prayer the whole congregation join him in reciting the Lord's Prayer, closing with an audible "Amen." He next commences chanting, in a voice of wonderful melody, some one of those hymns of the early church with which Bunsen, in his Hippolytus, has made us so familiar—hymns doubtless sung by the apostles, and believers of their time. He then reads a portion of the New Testament history. Laying down the precious manuscript, he proceeds to unfold to his eager hearers the character and life of the incarnate Jesus. He tells of his poverty, his sufferings, his rejection by men, his crucifixion, his reappearance in a more glorious beauty and with a more manifest power; of his six weeks' stay upon earth in this semi-glorified condition, and of his return to heaven amid a throng of attendant angels and saints; and as he portrays him as the Redeemer, the Abolisher of death, and the Conqueror over the Spirit of evil, his eye grows brighter, his tall and commanding form is raised to its full height, and, gazing upward as if, like Stephen, he saw the heavens opened, he breaks forth in that sublime chant of the twenty-fourth Psalm: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in." The congregation, deeply moved, chant in the same tones the response, "Who is this King of glory?" and the elder, again taking up the strain, replies, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your leads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in;" and as the congregation again respond, "Who is this King of glory?" he answers, in sweet but powerful tones, "The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory." Returning, after this episode, to his discourse, the elder describes in such glowing terms the bliss and glory of the heavenly state, the joys of the redeemed, the worthlessness of all earthly honors or comforts, and the insignificance of the trials and persecutions of the present life in comparison with the glory that shall follow, that his hearers are quite lifted above all earthly cares or disquietudes. In all this there is no appeal to the sensuous element; the heaven he describes is not Mohammed's paradise—not even the glowing and radiant "city of our God" which Chrysostom so eloquently portrayed—but a heaven so spiritual, so pure, and so holy that none but the pure in heart can ever hope to attain unto it. With another fervent repetition of the Lord's Prayer, in which all the congregation join, adding their earnest "Amens," the people disperse. In the after-part of the day, as the sun declines to the West, they again assemble for worship and prayer, many of the congregation, and among them some of the older women, participating in the prayers. The reverent repetition of the Lord's Prayer (the presbyter Cosmas says five times on each Lord's Day) constituted an important feature of their services.10
BACK TO OF CONTENTS
OF PART II
THE BOGOMILIAN Doctrines AND PRACTICES.—THE CREDENTES AND PERFECTI.—WERE THE
WHAT was the daily life of these people, and what their relations to each other and to the communities in which they lived? The question can only be answered by the testimony of their adversaries—testimony which we may be certain will not be too favorable to them.
They had taken upon them the name of Christians—followers of Christ.11 Did they honor that name more than the so-called orthodox members of the Greek and Latin churches? Let us scan the evidence.
It is agreed by all the writers who speak of them that their membership was divided into two classes, the Perfecti, or pure ones, and the Credentes, or believers. The Perfecti were never very numerous. In 1240, when the Bogomilian doctrines had spread over all Europe and the number of believers, or Credentes, could not have been less than two millions and a half, and may have exceeded three millions, Reinero Sacconi, or, as Hallam and other English writers call him, Regnier, the inquisitor, the best informed of their enemies, who had himself been at one time a member of the sect, estimates the number of the Perfecti as not exceeding four thousand.12 These were their leaders, or elders, and their devout women. They went forth to teach by twos, like the seventy sent out by Christ. They were required to remain in a state of celibacy and could not hold any property, these requirements being probably intended to make their journeyings and itinerant labors less trying and to secure their undivided consecration to their work. The presence that they regarded marriage and the possession of property as mortal sins is a fiction of their enemies, as their whole history proves. This relinquishment of property on the part of the Perfecti they regarded as the fulfillment of Christ's injunction to the young ruler (Matt. xix. 21): "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." They were also to lead ascetic lives, to eat only vegetables and fish, and to fast rigidly at certain seasons of the year. They had peculiar signals for recognizing each other, and their support was contributed by the Credentes, or believers. They received the title of elders, and, in addition to their duties as preachers and pastors of the congregations, and missionaries to other lands, they alone had power to administer the consolamentum, or rite of initiation into the ranks of the Perfecti. This was done by the laying on of hands of the elders, by means of which they believed that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, descended upon those on whom hands were laid, and thenceforth they too were elders and missionaries. The rites by which believers were received into the ranks of the Credentes are not specified by their adversaries; it is certain, however, that baptisms—i. e., immersion, for the Oriental churches had no other conception of baptism than immersion—was the principal, and perhaps the only, one. We give below our reasons for coming to this conclusion.* There of any sisterhood analogous to the Sisters of Charity in the Roman Church these holy women, the deaconesses of the Bogomil churches, devoted their whole time to ministering to the sick, to visiting and aiding the poor, to teaching the young the rudiments of their faith—establishing thus in their Lord's Day instruction the first Sunday-schools in the Christian church—to administering in extreme cases the consolamentum to the dying, and to teaching the ignorant, and especially young girls, the rudiments of learning and the way of salvation. Like the brethren of the Perfecti, they went forth to their work in couples. The Credentes, or believers, were for a period of nearly four centuries the merchants, the traders, the agriculturists, and, to a considerable extent, the nobles and officials of Bulgaria and Bosnia.
* This question of the baptism of the members of the Bogomil, or Paulician,
Church as the initiatory rite to membership among the Credentes has been
very fiercely discussed by ecclesiastical writers, and not always in the
was a covenant often entered into by the believers to receive the consolamentum
at the approach best temper. our reasons for believing that it was always
administered are the following:
1. Their well-known and universally-admitted repudiation of infant baptism,
and their often quoted declarations that the Credentes should only comprise
those who professed personal faith in Christ as their Saviour. The profession
was made in some public way, and was evidently not made by the imposition
of hands, as that was confined to the Perfecti, or celibate disciples,
and was a personal consecration to a specific ministry. This profession
of faith was also a prerequisite to participation in the Lord's Supper.
2. The omission of any mention of this by the presbyter Cosmas, Zygabenus,
and others is not an argument against it, for they, as ecclesiastics of
the Greek Church, recognized nothing as baptism except the trine immersion
of infants, with its accompaniments of unction, naming after one of the
saints, and invocation to the saints and the Virgin Mary; and, as all
these were repudiated by these humble Christians, they would naturally
declare that they did not practice baptism. But, per contra, Harmenopoulos,
a Greek priest of the twelfth century, expressly declares that they did
practice single immersion, but without unction, etc., and only upon adults,
on the profession of their faith. He adds that they did not attribute
to it any saving or perfecting virtue, which is in accordance with their
other teachings of death, and there is abundant evidence that they celebrated
the Lord's Supper—though without giving it any mystic signification—whenever
it was possible, every Lord's Day. Women were admitted to the ranks of
the Perfecti, but they too were required to lead celibate lives and to
practice abstinence from meats; they seldom preached, though they often
took a part in public worship. More than six hundred years before the
3. Reinero, the inquisitor, who had originally been one of them, says:
"They say that a man is shell first baptized when he is received into
their community and has been baptized by them, and they hold that baptism
is of no advantage to infants, since they cannot actually believe."
4. We find in the histories of Jirecek and Hilferding numerous incidental
allusions to the baptism of persons of high rank, such as the ban Culin
Tvartko III, King Stephen Thomas, the Duke of St. Sava, etc., who never
advanced beyond the grade of Credentes, but who are said to have been
"baptized into the Bogomil faith." That during the period of their greatest
persecutions the ordinance was administered secretly, and perhaps at night,
is very probable, but there is no evidence that it was ever omitted, much
less that any other mode was substituted for it. That would have been
impossible in an Oriental church.l3
BACK TO OF CONTENTS
OF PART II
THE ORTHODOXY OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN CHURCHES RATHER THEOLOGICAL THAN PRACTICAL.—FALL
OF THE BULGARIAN EMPIRE.
IT was a period when infinitely more stress was laid upon the doctrines which a man believed than upon the life which he led. The questions were not, "Is a man chaste? Is he truthful? Is he honest and upright? Does he love his neighbor as himself? Do his good deeds proceed from right and pure motives?" but, "Does he believe that the Virgin Mary is divine and should be worshipped? Does he worship and pray to the saints ? Is he willing to have icons and pictures of the Virgin and the saints in his house and in his church ? Does he believe that Christ had one will or two, and one nature or two ? If he holds that Christ was divine, does he think that his divine nature was similar to, or identical with, that of the Father? Is there a purgatory? And if so, can the priest by his masses bring the faithful out of it?''
Since the Bogomils did not, or could not, answer these questions of dogma to the satisfaction of the bishops and emperors, they were denounced as "worse and more horrible than demons," and he who killed them thought he did God service. Yet now and then one of their bitterest persecutors was compelled to acknowledge that their lives were pure and chaste, that they were honest and truthful, kind to their neighbors, and observant of all the ethics of the moral law.
"Would that our orthodox believers were half as exemplary on these points!" says one of their enemies bluntly. But all this was regarded as of no importance so long as they were such heretics in regard to the doctrines of the church. And so the strong arm of persecution was stretched out against them whenever kings, princes, or emperors could be found to permit it. While under the rule of their native princes the Bogomils of Bulgaria suffered comparatively little from persecution. The czars of Bulgaria were humane and merciful; and, though the Bulgarian Church, founded by Cyrillus and Methodius, was in most respects a copy of the Byzantine, yet there is reason to believe that others of the czars besides Samuel turned with a feeling of relief from the florid and tasteless display of the Greek ritual to the simple and fervent worship of the "Christian " churches.
But, alas! after an independent existence of more than one hundred and fifty years, luring most of which time it had maintained constant warfare with the Byzantine Empire and carried terror and dismay more than once to the very gates of Constantinople, the Bulgarian kingdom fell, in the beginning of the eleventh century, before the prowess of Basilius II., one of the emperors of the Macedonian dynasty, and was annexed to the Byzantine Empire as a province. From the time of this annexation the edicts of persecution seem to have been issued against the harmless Bogomils, but the revolutions and counter-revolutions of the next seventy years in the Eastern Empire, during which time fifteen emperors ascended the throne, left little opportunity for active efforts to put them down.
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE EMPEROR ALEXIUS COMNENUS AND THE BOGOMIL ELDER BASIL.—THE "ALEXIAD"
OF THE PRINCESS ANNA COMNENA.
IN A. D. 1081, Alexius Comnenus I.—not the first of the Comnenus dynasty, but the first who tool that name as a part of his title—ascended the throne, and during his reign of thirty-seven years persecution of all those whom he regarded as heretics was carried on without any scruples of conscience, or any regard to honor or decency. Alexius had a daughter, the princess Anna Comnena, who. with a most inordinate share of vanity, possessed much of her father's cruel and malignant nature. After her father's death and the defeat of her conspiracy to secure the throne for herself and her husband she turned her attention to literature, and wrote the Alexiad, a history of her father's reign, which has been preserved, like the fly in amber, for its very worthlessness, and gives us some idea of the events of that time. In this book she has left an account of the persecutions of the Bogomils. The leader of the sect at this time was a venerable physician, Basil by name, whose pure life and eloquence in the eposition of his doctrines had given him great influence in Bulgaria. An ascetic in his life, and, like all the elders, a celibate and without worldly possessions, he had supplied his few and simple needs by the practice of the medical profession. The princess Anna unblushingly narrates how her father set a trap to decoy this venerable man into the toils already laid for him, inviting him to the imperial table and luring him on to an exposition of the doctrines of the Bogomils by pretending a deep interest in them and a willingness to embrace their views; holy he brought him into the imperial cabinet and had a long interview with him—of which she professes to have been a witness—in which he artfully drew from him a still more full statement of their views on all controverted points, as well as the secrets of the sect, if there were any, and then, suddenly throwing aside the arras on the wall, revealed the scribe who had taken down the confession of what he termed his heresy, and beckoned to the aparitors—officers of the court—to come forward and put his guest in irons.
Here this delicate princess drops into coarseness and scurrility. She can find no fault in the character, the life, or the conduct of this apostle of the Bogomils, who seems, even from her own account, to have borne himself with a dignity and lofty courage which should have made his imperial betrayer and persecutor utterly despise himself. But, in default of this, she ridicules his personal appearance and that of his followers—though she is obliged to acknowledge that they included members of many of the families of the highest rank—and pours out her venom on his doctrines and declarations, of which, however, she seems to have no very clear comprehension. "Basil himself," she tells us, "was a lanky man with a sparse beard, tall and thin." " His followers," she says, " were a mixture of Manichees and Massalians." This was a slander, so far as the Manichaeism was concerned, which their enemies never tired of uttering, though very few of them seem to have known what the doctrines taught by Manes really were. She prates of "their uncombed hair, of their low origin, and their long faces, which they hide to the nose, and walk bowed, attired like monks, muttering something between their lips." She denounces their doctrines, as explained by Basil, as being most heretical and blasphemous, though she does not seem to have understood them, but, "what was more shocking still, he called the sacred churches—woe is me!—the sacred churches, fanes of demons." When he saw himself betrayed by the emperor he declared "that he would be rescued from death by angels and demons." This is perhaps a perversion of the passage (Acts xxvii. 23, 24) where Paul in circumstances of great peril said, "For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar;" or of that blessed passage in the Psalms, quoted by our Lord: "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone;" or possibly of that parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which our Lord tells us that Lazarus was carried by the angels unto Abraham's bosom.
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE MARTYRDOM OF BASIL.—THE BOGOMIL CHURCHES REINFORCED BY THE ARMENIAN
PAULICIANS, UNDER THE EMPEROR JOHN ZIMISCES.
EVEN in this scurrilous report there is brought before us one of the grandest scenes in the whole history of martyrs for the faith. This old man, with his long white hair and beard, suddenly finding himself betrayed by a most villainous plot of the imperial dastard before him, with his hands fettered and the full consciousness that martyrdom in its most cruel form was his doom, yet utters no reproach against his persecutor, but with a sublime faith looks up to heaven, and declares that he shall be borne to his home above by the angels of God, the ministers who do his will.
Turning away from this scene of ecstatic faith, we find ourselves compelled, not without loathing, to look over the pages of the record of this princess, who tells us daintily, after a vast expenditure of billingsgate, "I should like to say more of this cursed heresy, but modesty keeps me from doing so, as beautiful Sappho says somewhere; for though I am an historian, I am also a woman, and the most honorable of the purple, and the first offshoot of Alexius." Then, having gratified her vanity with this boasted modesty, she goes on to describe, in all its horrible details, the burning at the stake of this glorious martyr and those of his brethren whom Alexius, the head of the Greek hierarchy, had been able to capture either by force or guile. We cannot bring ourselves to lay before our readers the description she gives so minutely and with such evident enjoyment of the preparations for the holocaust in the hippodrome—the crackling of the fire and the shrinking of the poor human bodies wasted by fasting, but still sustained by unfaltering trust in their Saviour as they come nearer to the flames, the turning away of their eyes, and finally the quivering of their limbs as the fire scorched and shrivelled their flesh.15
Can it be, one asks in amazement, that a woman of high rank, and for her time of remarkable culture—a woman, too, professing to be a follower of Christ—can thus gloat over the tortures of a martyr for conscience' sake? Even the fiends of the pit would blush for shame over such a monster of cruelty.
The Bulgarian Bogomils were unquestionably more rigidly dualistic in their doctrines than those of Bosnia, Serbia, and the Herzegovina. There is also some reason to believe that they held to what the old theologians called "the phantastic theory of the incarnation of Christ"—i. e., that his body here on earth was a phantasm, and not a real body. This was due to several causes. These Bogomils, Paulicians, or Christians of Bulgaria had been largely reinforced by repeated migrations and transplantations from Armenia and the Caucasus, where the doctrine of the two principles had been first professed in a form most nearly allied to that of the Zendavesta. Even as late as the latter part of the tenth century the emperor John Zimisces brought great numbers of these Armenians from their native country and planted them in Roumelia and Thrace.16 Their abhorrence of the licentiousness, falsity, treachery, and bloodthirstiness of those who ministered at the altars and were the heads of the Greek hierarchy, who worshipped in the gaudy temples of the Greek Church, caused them to cling with greater tenacity to the doctrines of their fathers. It was also true that only portions of the Scriptures had, even as late as the twelfth century, been translated into either the Bulgarian or the Armenian tongue; and so thoroughly had the persecutions and trials they had endured from the Greek Church led them to distrust everything Greek, that very few of them could speak or read the language in which the whole Scriptures were extant. The manuscript copies, even of the books of the Bible, which were to be had in Bulgarian and Armenian were very few, and many of their places of worship were only supplied with the Gospel of John.
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE PURITY OF LIFE OF THE BOGOMILS.—THEIR DOCTRINES AND PRACTICE. — THEIR
YET it is remarkable, notwithstanding the two great errors they were charged with entertaining, that their practical Christianity and their belief in the essentials of a true faith were so sound. The name "Christian'' was not to them one of trivial or doubtful import: it comprehended a reverence for God and adoration of him as the Father and Source of all good; a holy and abiding trust and belief in Jesus as the Son of God—a divine Being who had made an atonement for their sins, and through whom alone salvation was possible—and in a Holy Spirit, or Comforter, who would teach, lead, and guide them in the way of all truth. It comprehended also very frequent and devout prayer—not to angels or saints or the Virgin Mary, but to Jesus—for guidance and strength, and a constant watchfulness and resistance against all temptation of the evil one; and finally, it included holy living, obedience to God's commands, the maintenance of that filial spirit which could come to God as a little child comes to its father and in their intercourse with their fellow-men the observance of chastity and purity, the avoidance of desecration of the Lord's Day, theft, violent anger, murder, falsehood, evil-speaking, and covetousness. In short, though their theology might have been unsound in some points, their Christianity was spotless, and they were "epistles of Christ, known and read of all men."
We have already noticed some of the dogmas of the Greek Church and of the Latin Church which they denied; the presbyter Cosmas—a Greek priest who lived at the end of the tenth century, and a bitter enemy—shall furnish us with others. Of their vigorous denunciation of the worship of the Virgin Mary, of worship and prayers to the saints, and of images, icons, and pictures of the Virgin and the saints, enough has been said. But they also opposed the use of crucifixes, crosses, bells, incense, ecclesiastical vestments, and everything which contributed to pomp and ceremony in the worship of God. They ridiculed alike the dogmas of transubstantiation and consubstantiation, and denied that the Lord's Supper had any mystic significance. It was, they said, a memorial service which the Founder of Christianity had to commemorate his sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world, and all true believers should partake of it in both kinds—not as conferring any saving grace, but as a token of their remembrance of him and of their gratitude for his redemptive work. They did not admit any idea of purgatory, but believed that those who died in Christ entered into rest—a blissful state, but not the state of the highest felicity, to which they might only attain after the first resurrection. They were very severe in their denunciation of the wanton, profligate, and ungodly priests and other dignitaries of the church, whose impure and unholy lives were in such marked contrast to those of their self-denying and ascetic elders. The tendency to asceticism among them was strong, as it always is among a persecuted and conscientious people. Their elders subsisted on vegetables and fish only; they held no property, had no home, no wife or child. In some instances, as in the case of Basil, they sustained themselves by their own labor; in others, and especially in the case of missionaries, they were sustained by their brethren, the believers, who did not enter upon the condition or take the vows of the Perfecti. This ascetic and abstemious life was as far removed as possible from the seclusion, the fastings, flagellations, exposure to the weather, and hermit or desert life of the stricter orders of monks and nuns in the Greek and the Roman churches. The devout women also who had entered upon this higher life of self-denial were sustained in their labors among the sick, the poor, and the ignorant by the contributions of the believers. Nor was this an onerous task. Their number was small—not more than one or two in the thousand of believers—and their needs were but trifling. There was no pauperization in this, nor was it regarded in the light of a charity by either the givers or the recipients.17
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT AND LABORS OF THE ELDERS AND PERFECTI.—THE ENTIRE
ABSENCE OF ANY HIERARCHY.
THE spirit of propagandism—or, as it would be both more true and more kindly to call it, the missionary spirit—was very active in them. It is to Bulgarian rather than Bosnian missionaries that the earlier forms of dissent from the Church of Rome are due. The Albigenses—so called from the province where they first appeared in considerable numbers—and the Patarenes—probably from the name of a suburb of Milan in which they were very numerous—were the spiritual descendants of the Bulgarian Bogomils and the first-fruits of their missionary zeal. Their other missionary work was mostly performed in Croatia, Wallachia, Moldavia, and the provinces which now form the southern portion of Russia in Europe. In many cases the congregations established by them affiliated at a later day, and with a more enlightened faith, with those established by the Bosnian Bogomils. They had no organized hierarchy. When their numbers became large the elder most highly esteemed in a province or country. appointed or called to the work twelve apostles, or messengers, who went forth two and two to their work, but with equal powers, rights, and privileges with the elder himself; and if he found it necessary, he called forth "other seventy also." These were all from the ranks of the Perfecti, but among the believers, there were often those who, prompted by religious zeal, devoted themselves to Christian work. In the end most of these received the imposition of hands, which initiated them into the official body.18
This simple organization was very probably drawn from the civil organization of the Sclavonic tribes. Among these the patriarch, who was the father and ruler of a numerous household, became, as his influence widened, by the voluntary selection of his equals, the zupan, or elder, of a commune, and one of these zupans, by the choice of his fellow-zupans, became the grand zupan, or elder, of his tribe or province, with the chance of being called to the still higher station of ban (prince), or czar (chief ruler or king). But in the Bogomil eldership there was nothing analogous to the Latin archbishop or pope, or the Greek archimandrite, patriarch, or metropolitan. In the thirteenth century, when there were in Western Europe thirteen provinces of believers all tracing their origin to the Bogomils of Bosnia and Bulgaria and numbering some millions of believers, all affiliated with their brethren of those countries, though the Bosnian chief elder might be regarded as the wisest councillor in their ranks, he possessed no more ecclesiastical authority than the youngest elder of the most distant and feeblest province.l9
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE BOGOMIL CHURCHES IN BOSNIA AND THE HERZEGOVINA.—THEIR DOCTRINES MORE
THOROUGHLY SCRIPTURAL THAN THOSE OF THE BULGARIAN CHURCHES.—BOSNIA AS
A BANATE AND KINGDOM.
LET us now turn to Bosnia and the Herzegovina, or, as it was called about this time, the Principality of Chelm. The introduction of the Bogomil doctrines was not effected in most of this region till the early part of the tenth century, and they did not take deep root there till toward the close of the eleventh century. By that time, however, the whole country was very thoroughly leavened with them, though there had not been any persecution instituted against them. The orthodox church of Bosnia had been from the first more Sclavonic than Greek. It had originated from the labors of Cyrillus and Methodius, and, though accepting in general the dogmas of the Greek Church and its gorgeousness of architectural decoration and ecclesiastical display, its Scriptures, psalter, and ritual were in the Sclavonic, and not in the Greek, tongue.20 It had manifested, up to the twelfth century, none of the persecuting spirit of the Greek or the Roman Church. It had wavered in its allegiance, now recognizing the pope as the head of the church, and anon manifesting by its services and its dogmas a preference for the Eastern Church, though it had no sympathy for the Byzantine rulers or people.
The Bosnians—or Bosniacs, as they call them selves—had, after the Sclavonic fashion, elected their zupans from the patriarchs of the communes, or the groups of villages, and their grand zupan, whom they as early as the beginning of the tenth century had begun to call ban—i. e., prince or grand duke—from the zupans or chiefs of their groups of villages. They were practically independent, acknowledging in some great emergency, as of war or territorial acquisition, now the Ban of Croatia, anon the Grand Zupan of Servia, and perhaps a little later the King of Hungary, as over-lord or suzerain, and following one or other to the battle-field. But in time of peace this suzerainty amounted to very little. At no time from the beginning, of the tenth century were they the acknowledged subjects of the Byzantine emperor. If his generals succeeded in subduing the over-lord under whose banners they had last marched, they transferred their fealty to another over-lord who was not subdued, or remained in their mountain-fastnesses, which the Byzantine troops, enervated by luxury, found inaccessible.
In 1138, Bela II., King of Hungary, under this nominal suzerainty attempted, at the instance of the pope, to make a raid against the Patarenes—one of the names which the popes bestowed upon the Bogomils—in the country between Cetina and Narenta.21 These names of places or districts indicate that the region visited was in the Herzegovina and Montenegro rather than in Bosnia proper. This expedition seems to have e accomplished nothing. The pope was occupied with other wars and crusades against heresy, and the Hungarian king—whose real name was Coloman, though he reigned under the title of Bela II. or Geiza II., Bela or Geiza being the royal patronymic of that period in Hungary—was soon engaged in a war with Manuel I., one of the ablest of the Byzantine emperors; and in this war, which continued for a long time, the Hungarian king was powerfully aided by his natural son, Boric, who had been chosen ban of Bosnia.
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
BOSNIAN HISTORY CONTINUED.—THE GOOD BAN CULIN.
ON the death of Boric, in 1168, his son, known in Bosnian history as the good ban Culin, became the ban, or ruler, of Bosnia. His reign extended over thirty-six years—years of peace, quiet, and prosperity to his country. The recent war with the Byzantine emperor, as well as the preference of the Hungarian kings for the Latin rite, had inclined both Bela III., who was now on the Hungarian throne and the acknowledged suzerain of Bosnia, and his chief vassal, the ban Culin, to acknowledge the superior claims of the Papacy. For the twelve years which followed Culin's accession to the throne of Bosnia the pope, Alexander III., was too busy in fighting the anti-popes of that period to do much in the way of suppressing heresy; and meanwhile, Culin, at first considered a dutiful son of the Church of Rome, had lapsed into the heresy of the Bogomils, and with his wife* and his sister, who was the widow of the Count of Chelm (the modern Herzegovina), had submitted to baptism and been numbered among the Credentes, or believers.22 Pope Alexander III., on hearing of this departure from the faith, at once exerted such a pressure upon the ban through his suzerain, the King of
Hungary, that he recanted from his Bogomil doctrines, appearing, it is said, in person at Rome with his recantation not later than the early part of AD 1181.
Whether the corruptions which were even then prevalent at Rome disgusted him, or the persuasions of his wife and sister were too strong to be resisted, we know not; but it is certain that within a few years the ban Culin was reported to Pope Innocent III. as having relapsed into his former errors and as having infected at least ten thousand of his subjects with his heresy.24 This was in 1199. The next year it was reported that Daniel, the Roman Catholic bishop of Bosnia, had joined the Bogomils or Patarenes, and, soon after, that the Roman Catholic cathedral and episcopal palace at Crescevo had been destroyed by the heretics. For many a year thereafter there was no Roman Catholic bishop of Bosnia.25
The pope was furious. He appealed to the King of Hungary to punish his heretic vassal. But Culin was too strong to fear the Hungarian armies, and the Hungarian king was too well aware of his strength to venture any attempt to coerce him. And thus it came to pass that while Western Europe was devastated by De Montfort in his crusade against heretics, the banat of Bosnia afforded a secure asylum to persecuted adherents of the Bogomilian heresy from all parts of Europe.
*Culin had married a sister of Stephen Nemanja, Ban of Serbia, whose Bogomilian opinions were notorious before her marriage.23
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE GROWTH OF THE BOGOMIL CHURCHES UNDER CULIN.—THEIR MISSIONARY ZEAL
For the hundred years ending with A. D. 1220 the Bogomils of Bosnia had been very active in missionary work. They still affiliated to some extent with their brethren in Bulgaria, though they had greatly modified their views concerning the origin of the two principles of good and evil, and no longer held to the phantastic theory of the incarnation, but conformed to the present orthodox views of the human nature of Christ, and accepted the Old Testament in its entirety. But though their theology was elastic and comprehended somewhat differing views, their Christianity was pure, simple, and stern as ever. The Albigenses, and probably some of the earlier Catharist churches, had been the converts of Bulgarian missionaries; but the Waldensian congregations, the believers of the plains of Lombardy and the South of France, the Catharists of Spain, the early Reformers of Bohemia, the "Ketzers" of the Lower Rhine, the Publicani (a corruption of Pauliciani) of Flanders and England, were all the followers and disciples of the Bogomilian elders or djeds of Bosnia. Reinero Sacconi—or Regnier, as the English historians call him—an Italian apostate of the beginning of the thirteenth century, who, having been one of the Bogomilian Credentes, had recanted and, uniting with the Roman Catholic Church, become an inquisitor, states that the churches of the Cathari, as he calls them, numbered then as many as thirteen bishoprics, or rather elderships—for they did not recognize the name of bishop—that of Bosnia or Sclavonia being the most important and the parent of the others. These elderships were scattered through all the countries of Europe, and extended in an unbroken zone from the Black Sea to the Atlantic and from the Mediterranean to the Baltic.26, 27 They had penetrated into England and made their appearance in Oxford and its vicinity in 1160. Henry II., then on the English throne, called a council, and on its finding, issued a decree that the Publicani should be branded on the forehead with a red-hot key, publicly whipped and thrust forth from the city, and that nobody should give them food or shelter. The poor wretches, the historian adds, owing to the rigor of the season and the sentence, sunk under the punishment, and were all dispatched.
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE AUTHORITIES FROM WHOSE TESTIMONY THIS NARRATIVE IS DRAWN.—ITS THOROUGH
CORROBORATION BY A CLOUD OF WITNESSES.
THESE are not hasty generalizations, confounding sects essentially distinct with each other, and giving them a common origin of which they were ignorant, as some of the ecclesiastical historians have pretended, but well-authenticated facts, every link in the chain of evidence being attested by reputable witnesses. The German ecclesiastical writers Gieseler, Neander, Mosheim, and Schmidt had collected many facts on this subject, as had also Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of Rome, and Hallam in his State of Europe during the Middle Ages, but Mr. A. J. Evans, in his recent monograph on the history of Bosnia, has with great labor and research made an exhaustive study of the whole subject, and has brought the most conclusive proofs of the derivation of all these early Protestants from a common source, and that source the Bogomils of Bosnia and Bulgaria. Jirecek, a recent Bohemian writer on Bosnia and Bulgaria and Hilferding, a Russian historian of Serbia and Bulgaria, under which he includes Bosnia, both adduce official evidence of the affiliation of the Bogomils with the Waldenses, the Bohemians, and the Moravians, as well as of their identity with the "Poor Men of Lyons," the Vaudois, the Henricians and the so-called heretics of Toulouse, the Patarenes of Dalmatia and Italy, the Petrobrussians, the Bulgares or Bougres, and the Catharists of Spain. Matthew Paris, Roger of Hoveden, and Ralph of Coggeshale, three of the most renowned of the early British chroniclers,28 testify to their presence in large numbers at this period in Toulouse, in Provence, in Flanders, and in England, and that they were called in the latter two countries Publicani or Poplicani,, a corruption of Pauliciani. All these writers trace them directly or indirectly to their origin in Bosnia; and Matthew Paris and Ralph of Coggeshale, trusting probably to the misrepresentations of some of the Romish inquisitors, relate that the Albigenses, Waldenses, and other heretics of France, Spain, and Italy had a pope of their own, who resided in Bosnia, that he created a vicar (apostolic?) in Toulouse whose name was Bartholomew, and that these heretics went annually to consult their Bosnian pope on difficult questions of faith and doctrine. The Bosnian djed, or chief elder, may have enjoyed some sort of actual primacy in consequence of his age, experience, and more profound acquaintance with doctrine, and had probably sent some of the Bosnian elders as missionaries to Toulouse; but in so doing he could not have claimed any ecclesiastical authority, as a hierarchy of any sort was utterly abhorrent to the spirit and temper of both the Bogomils and their affiliated sects in the West. A careful and critical examination of the civil and ecclesiastical histories of this period in England, France, and Germany affords abundant corroborative evidence of the origin of all these sects from the Bosnian churches, and of the complete identity of the doctrines professed by them all. Under the fierce persecutions instituted against the Waldenses, Catharists, etc., of Western Europe by the popes in the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth centuries, we have the testimony of the popes themselves that very many of the Waldenses, Patarenes, Publicans, etc., took refuge with their brethren in Bosnia, which at that time was protected by the good Ban Culin.29*
*Ralph of Coggeshale goes into considerable detail of the doctrines of
the Publicani in Flanders and England, and thereby establishes their complete
identity with the Bogomils. They held, he says, to two principles—of good
and evil; they rejected purgatory, prayers for the dead, the invocation
of saints, infant baptism, and the use of pictures, images, and crucifixes
in the churches; they accepted, of the New Testament, only the Gospels
and the canonical Epistles (here he was certainly misinformed); they insisted,
in their prayers and all their worship, on the use of the vulgar tongue;
their elders and perfect ones, both men and women, observed a vegetable
diet and condemned marriage. In this connection he relates a most shameless
and cruel story told him by gervase of Tilbury, then clerk of the Archbishop
of Rheims, subsequently an historical writer. This profligate clerk relates
to him how, having failed to seduce a beautiful countrygirl, he perceived
her heresy, accused her successfully before the Inquisition of being one
of the Publicani, and feasted his eyes with her dying agonies at the stake.
Even the hardened monk Ralph cannot refrain from adding that, " girl though
she was, she died without a groan; as illustrious a martyr of Christ (though
for a different cause) as any of those who were ages before slain by the
pagans for their Christian faith." It must have been an heroic courage
and faith indeed which could draw forth such an encomium from a monkish
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE ERA OF PERSECUTION.—THE CRUSADES AGAINST THE BOGOMILS.—THE ARCHBISHOP
WE return from this digression to an account of what befel the Bogomils of Bosnia after the death of "the good Ban Culin." After his decease, which occurred in 1205, the King of Hungary, wishing to pacify Pope Innocent III., procured the election of Zibisclav, a Sclavonian, but a strict Roman Catholic, as Ban of Bosnia. But the pure lives, the honesty, integrity, and industry, of the Bogomils, were too much for this Roman Catholic Ban, and he became a convert to the hated sect. There were peace and quiet in Bosnia till 1216, when the learned and gentle Pope Honorius III., having ascended the papal throne, believing that these heretical Bogomils could be convinced of their heresies by argument, sent the accomplished subdeacon Aconcius to Bosnia to labor for their conversion. But the arguments of the eloquent subdeacon proved no more efficacious than those of his predecessors: the heresy grew and increased, like the waters of Noah's flood, continuously. Northward and northwestward, in the provinces of Croatia, Dalmatia, Istria, Carniola, and Sclavonia, which had hitherto been strongly Roman Catholic, the number of converts multiplied daily, while at home they were fast becoming the dominant power.
In this emergency the Archbishop of Colocz, in Hungary. stood forth as a defender of the Romish faith. Armed with authority from the pope and the Hungarian king, he entered Bosnia in 1222 at the head of a host of Hungarian Catholics, and used the sword with such good effect that he had shortly possessed himself of the provinces of Bosnia, Ussora, and Soy. The Ban Zibisclav, who seems to have possessed very little of the Sclavonic pluck, notwithstanding his Sclavonic origin, was compelled to abjure his errors, and, falling humbly at the feet of the pope, Gregory IX., received from him an embrace; in return for which he professed to be willing to dedicate to his service his person, his lands, and all the goods he at that time possessed. This was in 1233.
The subjects of the Ban were not inclined to be included in this abject surrender. The violent persecution which had raged for eleven years had not terrified them, though it had subjugated their Ban, and their answer to their persecutor was the erection of more places of worship and the setting apart of a greater number of djeds, or elders, both for home and missionary work. Pope Gregory IX. was enraged at the boldness of these heretics. Provence had been overrun and purged of its heresies, the Waldenses had been driven into the fastnesses of Piedmont, and should he be thus flouted by these Serbian Bogomils? It was not to be thought of for a moment. A new crusade was proclaimed, and Coloman, Ban of Sclavonia and brother of the King of Hungary, was to lead it. In 1238 he entered Bosnia. with a large army to exterminate the heretics. The weak and treacherous Zibisclav permitted without protest or resistance the havoc and devastation which this ruffianly crusader made among his best subjects. Coloman "purged"—so they called it—the whole kingdom, and extended his ravages through the principality of Chelm, which formed the south-western portion of the present Herzegovina. No troubadour has sung, no historian has recorded, the barbarities and atrocities of this war of extermination: we only know that many thousands were enrolled among the glorious army of martyrs, and that from under the altar, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held, uttered again their cries for vengeance on the cruel persecutor of the saints. Pope Gregory IX., in 1240, congratulated Coloman on " wiping out the heresy, and restoring the light of Catholic purity;" but ere his death, in 1241, he had discovered that his congratulations were premature.
The Tartar invasion of 1241, which weakened the power of Hungary, and in which the crusader Coloman and the base coward Zibisclav both fell on the field under the fierce assault of the Khan Ugadai, relieved the Bogomils from persecution for a time.30
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
FURTHER CRUSADES.—THE HOSTILITY OF POPE INNOCENT IV.—MORE LENIENT, BUT
NOT MORE EFFECTIVE, MEASURES.
IN 1246, Pope Innocent IV. found that there was need of a third crusade in Bosnia, and again it was entrusted to an archbishop of Colocz. "A man skilled in all the science of war," King Bela IV., aided him in his impious work. He butchered many heretics and cast thousands into dungeons, and succeeded in persuading the pope that his deserts were so great that the Roman Catholic see of Bosnia was transferred from the archiepiscopal diocese of Spalato to that of Colocz. But his triumphs were of short duration. A bishop had been established in Bosnia after the first crusade in 1240, and had maintained his episcopal authority, not without difficulty, till 1256, but then it lapsed a second time. The Bogomils were still in the ascendency, and the Hungarian suzerainty was no longer potent in the affairs of Bosnia.
The popes Alexander IV., Urban IV., and Clement IV., perhaps more enlightened, and certainly more politic, than their predecessors, abandoned their method of converting the Bogomils by fire and sword, and resorted to persuasion. The Dominican and Franciscan friars were established in Bosnia between 1257 and 1260, and argument and entreaty took the place of violence. Still there was no Roman Catholic bishop of Bosnia, nor did persuasion prove more effective than force.
There is nowhere any record among the persecutors of these cruelly-harassed Bogomils that they rose against their persecutors, or that when, as was often the case, they temporarily attained to power, they ever sought to persecute in turn, or to do any injury to those who had so often and so deeply injured them. If they are to be regarded as Christians who follow the example of the Lord Christ, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, and suffered in patience the contradiction of sinners, are not these humble and patient souls to be reckoned as eminently entitled to that honored but much-abused name ?
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INQUISITION IN BOSNIA.—THE LETTER OF POPE JOHN
XXII.—PREVIOUS TESTIMONY OF ENEMIES TO THE PURITY OF THE LIVES OF THE
ABOUT 1275, Bosnia passed under the overlordship of the King of Serbia, Stephen Dragutin, and his successor, Milutin Urosh II. The latter was favorable to the Romish Church, and in 1291 allowed two Franciscan brothers to establish the Inquisition in Bosnia. But at first the jaws of this terrible wild beast were muzzled. For a period of about sixty years the Bogomil churches had rest, and, like those in apostolic times, "walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied."
After this season of peace and quiet the hand of the persecutor was raised against them more violently than ever. The Hungarians had once more regained their ascendency in Bosnia, and the Romish authority was re-established there. In June, 1325, the pope, John XXII., wrote two letters, one to Charles, King of Hungary, the other to Stephen Kotromanovic, Ban of Bosnia. The letter is still extant, and bears date at Avignon. The following is a literal translation of it:
"To OUR BELOVED SON AND NOBLEMAN, STEPHEN, PRINCE OF BOSNIA: Knowing that thou art a faithful son of the church, we therefore charge thee to exterminate the heretics in thy dominions, and to render aid and assistance unto Fabian, our inquisitor, forasmuch as a large multitude of heretics, from many and divers parts collected, hath flowed together unto the principality of Bosnia, trusting there to sow their obscene errors and to dwell there in safety. These men, imbued with the cunning of the Old Fiend and armed with the venom of their falseness, corrupt the minds of Catholics by outward show of simplicity and lying assumption of the name of Christians; their speech crawleth like a crab and they creep in with humility, but in secret they kill and are wolves in sheep's clothing, covering their bestial fury as a means whereby they may deceive the simple sheep of Christ."31
How terrible the danger that these ravenous lambs would tear and destroy the meek, gentle, and timid wolves of the Inquisition !
This was not the first time that the Bogomils had been accused of hypocritical meekness and gentleness. Three centuries before, the presbyter Cosmas had said, "When men see their lowly behavior, then think they that they are of true belief; they approach them, therefore; and consult them about their souls' health. But they, like wolves that will swallow up a lamb, bow their head, sigh, and answer full of humility, and set themselves up as if they knew how it is ordered in heaven." And to the same purport Euthymius, the scribe of Alexius Comnenus, who furnished the evidence on which the Bulgarian elder was sent to the stake, says of them: "They bid those who listen to their doctrines to keep the commandments of the gospel, and to be meek and merciful and full of brotherly love. Thus they entice men on by teaching all good things and useful doctrine, but they poison by degrees and draw to perdition." We could hardly ask for stronger evidence than these hosthe popes and priests supply of the purity of the lives and doctrines of those whom they persecuted.
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
FURTHER PERSECUTION.—A LULL IN ITS FURY UNDER THE SERBIAN CZAR,
STEPHEN DUSHAN.—THE REIGN OF THE TVARTKO DYNASTY
THE appeal to the King of Hungary and the Ban of Bosnia did not fail of effect. The persecuting edicts went forth in 1330; the inquisitor plied his satanic arts, and once more " the lilies of the field," as their elders were wont to call them, were trampled under foot. Many of their leaders and elders, as well as the believers, were burned or driven from the realm, and all the horrors of the old crusades were repeated. But all the zeal of the inquisitor Fabian, seconded by his royal coadjutors, did not suffice to materially diminish their numbers.
In 1337, Pope Benedict XII., who had succeeded John the Persecutor, made the discovery that Bosnia was as full of heresy as ever, and endeavored to start a fourth crusade against the Bogomils of Bosnia, calling to his aid the Bans of the adjacent states and the King of Hungary; but the Hungarian power was again waning, and the powerful Serbian czar, Stephen Dushan, was already reducing the adjacent banats to subjection. Availing himself of these facts, the Ban, Stephen Kotromanovic, who seems to have been a shrewd ruler, was able to divert them from their purpose.
In 1340 the Czar Dushan had assumed the over-lordship over Bosnia, what is now the Herzegovina, Croatia, Rascia, Sclavonia, Ruthenia, Dalmatia, and a part of Hungary. Dushan had no sympathy with the Church of Rome, but he was content to let things remain as they were. The monks made great efforts to convert the Bogomils, even professing to work miracles for that purpose, and the inquisitor tried and burned all he dared.
The Serbian over-lordship came to an end in 1355, with the death of Dushan, and the Ban, Stephen Kotromanovic, busied himself for the next three years with the effort to gain as his vassals some of the states which after the death of Dushan had broken off from the suzerainty of Serbia. He secured an over-lordship over the principality of Chelm (a part of the Herzegovina) and the banats of Rascia and Zeuta (the present Montenegro).
In 1358, Stephen Tvartko, a nephew of Louis the Great of Hungary, succeeded to the throne of the banat, and by his rare tact and ability added to his sway as vassals the Princes of Chelm and Zeuta, the Ban of Dalmatia, the Zupans of Canal and Tribunja. In 1376 he wrested from his uncle Louis the permission to assume the title and state of King of Bosnia. He aspired to still higher honors. He hoped to unite under his sole dominion all the Sclavonic states of the Balkan, and to rule as Czar over a wide and powerful empire. His lineage and that of his queen were connected with the reigning families of all the neighboring states, and, as the legitimate heir of several of these families, he had a claim on this extended sovereignty. In his reign of thirty-three years he included under his sceptre a larger territory than any other Bosnian ban or king. His administration was distinguished by wisdom and toleration. He was no theologian, and in his own personal belief leaned alternately to the Greek and the Roman Catholic churches, but his toleration of the Bogomils was steady, persistent, and generous. During his reign they were free from persecution, though the Franciscan friars complained to Pope Urban V. in 1369 that he was the protector of the Patarenes, and the pope attempted in vain to stir up his enemies against him, writing to the King of Hungary, his uncle, that King Tvartko, "following in the detestable footsteps of his fathers, fosters and defends the heretics who flow together into those parts from divers corners of the world as into a sink of iniquity."32 The hopes which he had entertained of extended empire were crushed by the great and fatal battle of Kossovo, in 1389, and he died in 1391, greatly lamented, though his last days had been clouded by misfortunes.
The toleration of the Bogomils was continued during the short reign of Tvartko II. (1391-1396), and increased during the long reign (1396-1443) of his successor, Tvartko III., surnamed "the Just," who, together with the principal magnates of his realm, was an adherent to the Bogomil faith. During the long period of eighty-five years the demands and threats of the popes were of little avail. Though the reign of Tvartko III. was for a time disturbed by civil disorders, and there were at one time two, and at another three, princes professing to be kings of Bosnia, he was at no time so weak as to fear the incursions of the allies of Rome.33
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE REFORMATION IN BOHEMIA AND HUNGARY A BOGOMIL MOVEMENT.—RENEWAL OF
PERSECUTION UNDER KINGS STEPHEN THOMAS AND STEPHEN TOMASEVIC.—THE POBRATIMSTVO.
DURING this period the Bogomils, availing themselves of all their opportunities for missionary work, were sending aid and encouragement to their brethren in Bohemia and Hungary, and the Reformation under John Huss and Jerome of Prague was avowedly a Bogomil movement. At this time also their leaders were men of such learning and culture that Pope Pius II. in 1462 found it necessary to send the most learned men he could find to Bosnia to refute their heresies.34
But with the death of Tvartko III. there came a change. His successor, Stephen Thomas, was the illegitimate son of one of Tvartko's rivals, and was raised to the throne by the Bogomils, to whose communion he belonged. But he was a man of weak and vacillating temper, and when the crafty papal legate, Thomasini, threatened him with the rejection of his claims to the throne unless he abjured his faith and became a Roman Catholic, and promised to reconcile his rivals and to give him a consecrated crown if he yielded to his demands, the weak king, after a feeble resistance, consented, abjured, and was baptized into the Roman Catholic fold in 1444. one of his vassals, Stephen Cosaccia, Duke of St. Sava, was a strict Roman Catholic, and refused allegiance to him unless he thus abjured his faith. But no sooner had Stephen Thomas. the Bosnian king, commenced or permitted the persecution of the Bogomils than the Duke of St. Sava (the modern Herzegovina) cut loose from the papal party and joined the Bogomils himself.
In 1446, Stephen Thomas found the sentiments of his people so strongly arrayed against him that, like the English King John, he was compelled to assemble the magnates of his realm, and the Bogomil leaders among them, at Coinica, and grant them large privileges, and, among others, toleration for the Bogomils, but his cowardly and craven nature led him to falsify his oath and deliver them over to the power of the Inquisition. In 1450 the Bogomils, wearied and disgusted with his treachery and the cruelty of the Inquisition, turned for protection to the Turks, and compelled the king to buy an ignoble peace by the payment of a large tribute. In 1457 he appealed to the whole Christian world for help against the infidel, but he was said to have already made with the Turkish sultan that solemn alliance of sworn brotherhood known to the Sclavonic race as the Pobratimstvo.* These constant changes and tergiversations had alienated all his friends from him, and his assassination on the field of Bielaj in 1459 by his step-brother and his own illegitimate son, Stephen Tomasevic, caused little sorrow.
The parricide at once usurped the throne, and proved a baser man than his father. He claimed to be a Roman Catholic pure and simple, and solicited the aid of the pope, Pius II (AEneas Sylvius), on the express ground of his desire to commence immediately the extirpation of the Bogomil heresy. In the first year of his reign he turned the arms of his troops against his unoffending Bogomil subjects, and in a few months had slaughtered or driven out of his kingdom forty thousand of them. In 1463 he again appealed to the pope, apparently in great distress at the near approach of the Turks. He had occasion for this appeal. He had continued his persecution of the Bogomils, and they, the majority of the population of his realm, and especially of the cities, were justly incensed against him. The prospect of another influx of Romish heresy-hunters was not a pleasing one to them, and, finding that they had nothing to hope for from their king, they turned to the Turkish sultan and opened negotiations with him. An agreement was made that they would transfer their allegiance to him, and he in return guaranteed them their personal liberty, free toleration for their religion, freedom from taxation, protection of property, and other privileges.
*The Pobratimstvo was a secret rite, performed with much ceremony and the mingling of the blood of the two parties to it, by which they became sworn brothers and the recipients of each other’s fullest confidence. The violation of the vow of brotherhood was considered the most horrible of crimes
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
OVERTURES TO THE SULTAN.—THE SURRENDER OF BOSNIA TO MOHAMMED II. UNDER
STIPULATIONS.—His BASE TREACHERY.—THE DESTRUCTION AND ENSLAVEMENT OF THE
BOGOMILS OF BOSNIA, AND THE DUCHY OF HERZEGOVINA.
THE sultan crossed the Drina in June, 1463, and on the 15th of that month the fortress of Bobovac, the strongest in Bosnia, and the ancient seat of Bosnian bans and kings, surrendered to him, its governor being a Bogomil. The treacherous and cowardly king fled to Jaycze, another strong fortress, but on the approach of the Turkish pasha escaped to Clissa, where, after forty days' siege, he surrendered on condition of his life being spared, giving up his treasures, amounting to a million of ducats. In eight days seventy strong cities, nearly all of them commanded by Bogomils, opened their gates to the sultan's officers.
But Mohammed II. was a base and infamously treacherous prince. He used the wretched Stephen Tomasevic to the utmost, gaining possession through him of all those towns which had not already surrendered, and then caused him to be executed, with the most barbarous tortures, on the field of Bielaj, where he had assassinated his father. We have no tears to shed over this retributive justice upon the parricide, but the fate reserved for the Bosnians, and particularly for the Bogomils, was such as to cause the sultan's name to be handed down to after-ages as the synonym of infamous perfidy. The most eminent of the Bosnian nobles who had not escaped to Dalmatia were transported to Asia; thirty; thousand of the picked youth of Bosnia, sons of the best families, were placed as cadets among the Janissaries, to be converted to the Mohammedan faith and recruit the Moslem armies; two hundred thousand of the inhabitants, including the young and beautiful, were sold as slaves; the cities and lordly residences were plundered, and the whole land given over to desolation.
This blow did not fall at this time on the Herzegovina, as its inhabitants stood by their duke, Stephen Cosaccia, who, though profligate in life, had protected the Bogomils, who formed by far the larger part of his people. They fought bravely for their country and drove away the Turks, but were compelled to pay tribute. Twenty years later, under the rule of Cosaccia's sons, the Turkish armies again invaded the duchy, and enacted much the same scenes as they had done in 1463 in Bosnia.
The results of this conquest were disastrous for Bosnia, and almost annihilated the Bogomils. The noble youth who were placed in the hands of the Janissaries came back in due season Mohammedans in faith, and inherited their old estates; and there is to this day in Bosnia a large population (more than four hundred thousand) Sclavonians by birth, but Mohammedans in religion. This fact greatly complicated the religious question in the recent war.
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II
THE BOGOMILS NOT UTTERLY EXTINGUISHED.—THEIR INFLUENCE ON SOCIETY, LITERATURE,
AND PROGRESS IN THE MIDDLE AGES.—CONCLUSION.
As to the Bogomils, there is little reason to suppose that any considerable portion of the adult population embraced Mohammedanism. Of the two hundred thousand slaves, a part—perhaps the larger part—may have done so, but those who were left wifeless and childless could do little to maintain their faith. The Roman Catholics are to this day weak there, and mainly made up of Italian and Austrian immigrants into the country; the main portion of the Christian population is Sclavonic and attached to the Greek Church, and have come in from the adjacent states.
But Bogomilism did not entirely die out. In the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries we find traces of the Bogomils, sometimes as objects of persecution, and both Gardiner and Blunt, ecclesiastical Cyclopaedists, say that for many years past they have had churches in the vicinity of Philippopolis. In the insurrection of 1875 among the refugees from Turkish cruelty and outrage who fled to the adjacent Austrian provinces, they were found in considerable numbers. Mr. W. J. Stillman, our consul at Ragusa, ascertained that there were about two thousand of them in that city alone, and mostly from Popovo and its vicinity, and learned that they were still numerous in the valley of the Narenta and near Crescevo.
Mr. D. Mackenzie Wallace, in his recent very able work on Russia (Am. ed., New York, 1877, pp. 293-305), gives a very full account of the Molokani and Stundisti, two Protestant sects holding nearly the same views, whom he found in Southern and Central Russia, and whose tenets he studied with great care and impartiality, visiting and conferring with their elders in regard to their views.
This narrative of Wallace shows beyond question that these South Russian sects are the legitimate spiritual descendants of the Bogomils. Mr. Wallace, who is, at least in sympathy, a Presbyterian of the Kirk of Scotland, says that he was attracted to the Molokani (Hepworth Dixon says the name means "milk-drinkers") because he had discovered that their doctrines had at least a superficial resemblance to Scotch Presbyterianism. After some interviews with their leading men he found that, though some of their doctrines had a strong resemblance to Presbyterianism (especially, it would what may be considered their Calvinism, though they never had heard of Calvin), yet there were these differences: Presbyterianism has an ecclesiastical organization and a written creed, and its doctrines have long since become clearly defined by means of public discussion, polemical literature, and general assemblies. "The Molokani," he says, "hold that Holy Writ is the only rule of faith and conduct, but that it must be taken in the spiritual, and not in the literal, sense. For their ecclesiastical organization the Molokani take as their model the early apostolic church as depicted in the New Testament, and uncompromisingly reject all later authorities. In accordance with this model, they have no hierarchy and no paid clergy, but choose from among themselves a presbyter (or elder) and two assistants—men well known among the brethren for their exemplary life and their knowledge of the Scriptures—whose duty it is to watch over the religious and moral welfare of the flock. On Sundays they hold meetings in private houses—they are not allowed to build churches—and spend two or three hours in psalm-singing, prayer, reading the Scriptures, and friendly conversation on religious subjects."
Mr. Wallace declares, after the most intimate intercourse with them, that their knowledge of the Scriptures (although they were all peasants) left nothing to be desired. Some of them seemed to know the whole of the New Testament by heart, and they were exceedingly familiar with the Old Testament. They are Sclaves, and their Bibles, like those of the Bogomils, are in the Sclavonic tongue. "Never have I met," he says, "men more honest and courteous in debate, more earnest in the search after truth, and more careless of dialectical triumphs than these simple uneducated peasants."
There exists among the Molokani a system of severe moral supervision. If a member has been guilty of drunkenness or any act unbecoming a Christian, he is first admonished by the presbyter (or elder) in private or before the congregation; and if this does not produce the desired effect, he is excluded for a longer or shorter period from the meetings and from all intercourse with the members. In extreme cases expulsion is resorted to. On the other hand, if any one of the members happens to be, from no fault of his own, in pecuniary difficulties, the others will assist him. This system of mutual control and mutual assistance has no doubt something to do with the fact that the Molokani are always distinguished from the surrounding population by their sobriety, uprightness, and material prosperity. The testimony from all quarters was that they were a quiet, decent, sober people. Their doctrines were in general those of evangelical Protestant churches, but, as they had no creed but the Bible, Mr. Wallace believed that there was room for considerable diversity of theological views, though he acknowledged that he was unable to recognize any evidence of that diversity. "One gentle. man," he says, "ventured to assure me that their doctrine was a modified form of Manichaeism" (the old charge), "but I did not put much confidence in his opinion, for I found on questioning him that he knew of Manicheism nothing but the name." The prevalent opinion, which they did not controvert, was "that they were the last remnant of a curious heretical sect which existed in the early Christian church." They are persecuted by the Greek Church and the government, though not so bitterly now as formerly. They are said to be loyal and patriotic toward the emperor, but all the efforts of the Greek Patriarchs or the government to convert them to the views of the orthodox Greek Church have proved utterly unavailing. Mr. Wallace estimates their numbers at several hundred thousand.
The Stundisti, whom we know to be Baptists, are a sect of more recent origin, but agree generally in their doctrines and practices with the Molokani.
There comes to us also, since the conclusion of the war between Russia and Turkey, cheering evidence that four hundred years of Moslem sway and the profession of the Moslem faith have not utterly driven out from the hearts of these descendants of Bogomil nobles the recollection of the faith of their fathers. Several recent writers on Turkey and Bosnia have intimated that these Sclavonic Mohammedans were not so strongly opposed to Christianity as has been supposed; and Mr. A. J. Evans, who has been travelling in Bosnia again in 1877 and 1878, thus writes in his Illyrian Letters: "An active leader among the Begs (Sclavonic Mohammedan nobles) answered as follows the question whether he would imitate some of his associates, who were already receiving baptism from Bishop Strossmeyer (the Austrian Roman Catholic bishop) and his priests: 'Not yet, but when the time comes and the hour of fate strikes, I will do so in another style. I will call together my kinsmen, and we will return to the faith of our ancestors as one man. We would choose to be Protestants, as are you English; but if need be, we will join the Serbian Church. Latin we will never be. If we go into a Roman church, what do we understand? My family has never forgotten that they were once of your faith and were made Moslems by force. In my castle there is a secret vault in which there are kept the ancient Christian books and vessels that they had before the Turks took Bosnia. My father once looked into it, then closed it up, and said, 'Let them be; they may serve their turn yet.' How many of these secret vaults in Bosnia may yet be opened and their Christian books brought out?"
But though thus apparently stamped out in the land of its birth and its greatest triumphs, under the heel of the fanatic Turk, the doctrine of these martyrs of the faith survived and in more western lands pervaded and influenced the religious life, the social condition, and the literature of the subsequent centuries.
It seems to be conclusively demonstrated that in his early life the greatest of Italian poets, Dante Alighieri, was a mender of the sect of Patarenes, one of the names by which the Bogomils of Italy were designated; and though later in life he probably gave in his adhesion to the Romish faith, the evidence of his early doctrinal beliefs is manifest in the "Heaven" and "Hell" of the Divina Commedia. That the same views had taken full possession of the mind of John Milton two hundred years later, whose Paradise Lost might, so far as its theology and demonology are concerned, have been written by a Bogomil djed, or elder, is equally certain. Nor is this surprising. Milton had passed some years in Italy and in close association with the Waldenses the representatives of the Bogomils in Italy and Piedmont, and as Cromwell's secretary of state he nobly interfered in their behalf. The later Puritan writers, and notably Baxter, Howe, Alleine, and others, give unconscious evidence in their writings of the sources from which their doctrines and teachings were drawn. Even if there were no other evidence of the affiliation of the Puritans, both of earlier and later times, with the Bogomils, the doctrine of a personal devil, as now held by all the Puritan churches, would be sufficient to demonstrate it.
The great movements of the Reformation under Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, and Zwinglius, though absorbing considerable numbers of the Bogomil or Catharist churches in Southern and Central Europe, were in some respects for them a retrogression. Their Protestantism was purer than that of the Reformers; they had never bowed the knee to Baal, and their mouths had never kissed him; they had never held any allegiance to the Romish pope or the Greek patriarch; they had never accepted any of the erroneous doctrines of these corrupt churches; and neither the paedo-baptism nor the transubstantiation of the Church of Rome, nor the consubstantiation of the Greek and Lutheran churches, had any advocates among them. They were "Christians" pure and simple, yielding nothing to conciliate any of those who had a lingering affection for Romanism.
It is not wonderful, then, that the Waldenses in Italy and Piedmont should have maintained their independent position, nor that in England—where the original Reformation was deficient in thoroughness, and where there were in the country many of the descendants of the Publicani of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries*—there should have been a revolt from the partial Reformation in the shape of that Puritanism which established a purer Protestantism there, and has been the corner-stone of free institutions in our own country.35
*In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries these confessor" to the truth were often 'known as " Hot Gospellers."9
The spiritual lineage which we have thus briefly and imperfectly traced through the ages from the tenth century to our own time is one of which every true Protestant may well be proud. Though no gorgeous temples, no stately cathedrals, have made their worship conspicuous and attractive; though no historian has described, with vivid and touching pathos, those scenes of martyrdom where scores of thousands yielded up their lives rather than deny their faith; though no troubadour has given immortality to their paeans of victory, as the flames enwrapped them in a glorious winding-sheet,—yet their record is on high, and He whose approval is worth infinitely more than all the applause of men, has inscribed on the banner of His love, which surrounds and protects the humblest of those who suffered for His sake, the legend, " BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART; for they shall see God."
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THE BOGOMILS OF BULGARIA AND BOSNIA PART III
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THE BOGOMILS OF BULGARIA AND BOSNIA PART I
TO OF CONTENTS OF PART II