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INCLUDING THAT OF
THE PONTIFICATE OF NICOLAS V.
BY HENRY HART MILMAN, D.D.,
DEAN OF ST. PAUL'S.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
The History of Latin Christianity is a continuation of “ The History of Christianity to the Extinction of Paganism in the Roman Empire.” But Latin Christianity appears to possess such a remarkable historic unity, that I have thought fit, in order to make this work complete in itself, to trace again its origin and earlier development, and to enter in some respects with greater fulness, yet without unnecessary repetition, into its history during the first four centuries. On one extremely dark part of that history a book but recently discovered has thrown unexpected light.
The sentence of Polybius which describes the unity, and the plan of his History of Republican Rome, might be adopted by the historian of the Rise and Progress of Christian Rome. "Οντος γαρ ενός έργου και θεάματος ενός του σύμπαντος, υπέρ τούτου γράφειν επεκεχειρήκαμεν του, πως και πότε, και διά τί πάντα τα γνωριζόμενα μέρη της οικουμένης υπό την Ρωμαίων δυναστείαν εγένετο.-1. iii. C. 1. “ The work which we have undertaken being one, the whole forming one great design, how, when, and by what means all the known world became subject to the Roman rule.” Though the great sphere of Latin Christianity was Western Europe, yet, during the first seven or eight centuries, it is so mingled up with the
religious history of the Greek empire; the invasion of Western Europe by the Mohammedans, and the Crusades, so involved it again in the affairs of the East; that in its influence at least it extended to the limits of the known world.
My aim has been to write a history, not a succession of dissertations on history; to give with as much life and reality as I have been able, the result, not the process, of inquiry. This, where almost every event, every character, every opinion has been the subject of long, intricate, too often hostile controversy, was a task of no slight difficulty. Where the conflicting authorities have seemed to be nearly balanced, I have sometimes, but rarely, admitted them into the text, not desiring to speak with certainty, where certainty appeared unattainable; in general I have reserved such discussions, when inevitable, for the notes. Even in the notes I have endeavoured to avoid two things—a polemic tone and prolixity. 1.—I have cited the names of modern writers, in general, only when their observations have been remarkable in themselves, as original, or as characteristic of the progress of opinion. II.—I have usually contented myself with quoting the authority which after due consideration I have thought it right to follow, instead of occupying a large space with concurrent or conflicting statements. Nothing can be more easy, now that we possess such admirable manuals of ecclesiastical history (especially the invaluable one of Gieseler), to heap together to immeasurable extent citations from ancient authors or the opinions of learned
I notice this solely that I may not be suspected either of the presumption of having neglected the
labours, or of want of gratitude for the aid, of that array of writers who—from the Magdeburg Centuriators, Baronius and his Continuators, through the great French scholars, Tillemont, Fleury, Dupin ; the Germans, Mosheim, Schroeck, Neander, and countless others (where, alas! are the English historians of those times ?)—have wrought with such indefatigable industry on the annals of Christianity. I have studied compression and condensation, rather than fulness and copiousness, simply in order to bring the work within reasonable compass.
The continuation of the History to the close of the Pontificate of Nicolas V. is far advanced, and indeed is nearly complete, so far as a work on a subject so inexhaustible can pretend to completeness.