« EelmineJätka »
SOUTHERN FRANCE. In Eastern Europe, ancient Greek had continued for centuries to hold its place. The transference of the seat of the empire, from Rome to Constantinople, brought into it many Latin forms. Still later, the Venetian and French conquests, and the Crusades, introduced elements from Western Europe. The victories of the Arabs added many Arabic terms ; so that, by the close of this period, Greek had become Romaic, a dialect bearing the same relation to the ancient language of Greece, as does the Italian to the Latin. For centuries later, however, the ancient Greek continued to be used for ecclesiastical purposes. In England, again, the original Celtic had given place to Anglo-Saxon, and this tongue was struggling, towards the close of the twelfth century, with the influence of the Norman-French-a struggle in which, however, it was ultimately the victor. By the fourteenth century, there was to be found in all these languages, to a small extent, a national literature.
In the twelfth century, the south of France was the most flourishing and civilized district of Europe. The people had a distinct political existence, being independent of the house of Capet, who then ruled over their northern neighbours, and subject only to the counts of Toulouse. Their usages and language bespoke a mixed origin. There were traces among them of a Gothic element; and history tells us that many of the Visigoths had settled in their LANGUEDOC AND PROVENCE. 73 vicinity. Still more numerous were the traces of a Roman influence, their very language taking one of its titles (the Romance) from the prevalence in it of forms and expressions of the Latin tongue.
There was some trace also of Greek, derived probably from intercourse with the city of Marseilles, which had been centuries before occupied by a Greek colony. The soil of this region was remarkably fruitful. Amidst vineyards and corn-fields arose many noble cities and stately castles, the whole tenanted by a generous-spirited people. Here the rude, warlike genius of the middle ages first took a graceful form. A literature, rich in story and in song, sprang up and amused the leisure of knights and ladies whose mansions adorned the banks of the Rhine. Professors of the " gay science" from Languedoc and Provence won golden opinions from the courtly Saladin and lionhearted Richard in Palestine, and nearly every court in Europe did honour to their skill. Elsewhere the name of Mussulman made men's faces grow dark and fierce, but here the people lived in habits of courteous and profitable intercourse with the Moors of Spain, and gave welcome to scholars and learned leeches, who, in the Arabic seminaries of Cordova and Grenada, had become versed in the science of the east. Into this district, moreover, the inquisitive busy Greek had imported, not only the treasures of Syria and Ind, but some of the modes of thinking prevalent among his countrymen, and the marts of Toulouse and Narbonne
had become schools of eastern theology and learning. No wonder, therefore, that for ages the power of the Romish church in this district had been on the wane, and that her assumptions and corruptions were regarded with no friendly or lenient eye ; indeed, as early as the year 1163, the archbishop of Narbonne complains in an address to Lo VII. of France," that the Catholic faith is extremely shaken in this our diocese, and St. Peter's boat is so violently tossed with waves, that it is in great danger of sinking." How completely this statement was in accordance with facts, may be gathered from the notices of the author of the Belgian Chronicle." (1208 A. D.) “The error of the Albigenses," says he, "prevailed in this district to that degree, that it had infested as much as a thousand cities; and if it had not been suppressed by the swords of the faithful, I think it would have corrupted the whole of Europe." Whether, in spite of the swords of the faithful, the whole of Europe did not become corrupted, we shall presently see.
Our business is with the progress and influence of the Bible, or we might notice that, long before the period of which we are speaking, a purer faith had found refuge in this district. Here was born Vigilantius, who opposed the erroneous observances which were becoming numerous in the Romish church ; and here, after he had been condemned by Ambrose, bishop of Milan, he laboured, leaving behind him in the neighbourhood of the Alps, a namo
75 that was long fragrant. Indeed, it is expressly admitted by one of the Romish authorities, "ihat the city of Narbonne had never been clear of the detestable pestilence of heresy,” by which he meant the rejection of the dogmas of the church of Rome, and an adherence to the teaching or Scripture as the only rule of faith. But our business is with the Bible and its versions.
It was in this region, then, where the people first emerged from barbarism, where a vernacular tongue was first used in modern times for literary purposes, where the connexion with Switzerland, Italy, France, and Spain was most direct, that we find some of the most eminent of the precursors of the reformation. Here, in the twelfth century, Peter de Bruys, Henry of Toulouse, P. Waldo of Lyons, and his friend Arnold of Albi, all laboured. Though not the originators of the movements which were sometimes called by their names, they undoubtedly gave to those movements a force and impetus which were crowned with the most happy results. Their efforts had singularsuccess. The secret of that success Reimer, an inquisitor of the thirteenth century, explains. "It is owing," he says, “to the great zeal of these people: all of them, men and women, by night and hy day, never cease from teaching and learning. It is owing to their practice of translating the Old and New Testament into the vulgar tongues, and their teaching and speaking according to them.” “I have heard," he adds, "that th are many who perfectly know the New To
THE FIRST CONCORDANCE.
ment.” He complains that their numbers were so increased, that there was no country free from them, and that in the diocese of Paris alone their schools amounted to one and forty. To these Albigenses Spain owes her earliest version of Scripture. Perhaps, too, to their influence we owe some of the earliest French translations. In the British Museum there is a beautiful ms. on vellum of a French version of the Bible, which was found in the tent of king John, father of Charles V., after the battle of Poictiers, where he was taken prisoner by Edward the Black Prince.*
It was probably owing to the influence of the same body that the clergy of the south of France resolved, at a council held at Vienne, in Dauphiné, to have the oriental languages, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, and Greek, taught in the public schools, and that the sacred Scriptures in those languages should be applied to the conversion of the Saracens.
To a native of the same district we owe the first concordance of the Scriptures ever compiled. It was the work of Hugo di Caro, or cardinal Hugo, as he is commonly called. He was born at Vienne, and studied at Paris in 1225. His concordance was in Latin, and he is said to have employed five hundred monks in preparing it. He divided the Bible into chapters, and those chapters again he subdivided by putting in the margin the letters
* Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 204. + Apthorpe's Discourses on Prophecy, vol. ii. p. 368.