VI. THE HILDEBRANDINE CHURCH
In justice to the official Church it must be remembered that, whether she had to deal with kings or heretics, the peculiar nature of her power forced her to work through instruments which she was powerless to keep in hand, and in which she had placed her confidence with the temerity of desperation. There can be no greater contrast than that between the Hildebrandine programme and the measures by which it was incompletely realised. To enforce the celibacy of the clergy the mobs of Milan and the South-German cities were commissioned to rabble married priests. To make an end of simony the German princes were encouraged in a policy of provincial separatism, a premium was placed on perjured accusations, and a son was suborned to betray his father. That the tide of the Albigensian heresy might be stemmed, Innocent III launched against the brilliant civilisation of Languedoc the brutal and avaricious feudalism of the North. Sometimes the error was recognised after it had been committed. But no experience could cure the official Church of the delusion that every volunteer must be credited with the purest motives until the contrary is proved. The same ignorance of human nature characterised her methods of administrative routine. Even if, for the sake of argument, we admit the truth of the principles which were alleged to justify the Papal Inquisition, or the censorship of the bishops' courts, or the appellate jurisdiction of the Curia, the fact remains that these institutions were so organised and so conducted that the most flagrant abuses were only to be expected. A system which, if staffed with saints, would have been barely tolerable, became iniquitous when it was committed to the charge of petty officials, ill-paid, ill- supervised, and ill-selected. To a great extent the crimes and follies of the medieval Church were those of a complex bureaucracy in a half-civilised state. Such a system fails through being too ambitious; the founders have neither the technical experience requisite for a satisfactory arrangement of details, nor the subordinates who can repair the defects of the machine by the efficiency and honesty with which they tend it; and yet because the aim is grandiose, because the supporters of the scheme proclaim their readiness and their capacity to regenerate the State and human nature, they are hailed as the prophets of a new order; they are allowed to plead the excellence of their motives in extenuation of all and any means; and they end by creating new evils without appreciably diminishing the old.