Arnold (Arnoldo, Arnaud) of Brescia

Arnold (Arnoldo, Arnaud) Of Brescia was born in the town of Brescia: about the beginning of the twelfth century. Our information as to his history is scant-, and depends chiefly upon the accounts of his enemies. The chief sources are Otto of Freisingen, de Gestis Frider. I, and Ginther, Lgurinus (12th cent., both printed together, Basle, 1569, fol.). He studied under Abelard at the desert of Nogent. Having returned to Italy he became a monk. The corruption of the clergy was very great at that time, and Arnold, endowed with an impassioned oratory, began to preach against the ambition and luxury of abbots, prelates, and cardinals, not sparing the pope himself. He maintained that ecclesiastics as well as laymen ought to be subordinate to the civil power; that the disposal of kingdoms and principalities did not belong to the Church of Christ; that the clergy should not accumulate wealth, but should depend upon the offerings of the faithful, or, at most, upon tithes, for their support. His vehement eloquence inflamed the minds of the people, who had been alienated from the clergy before by the excessive corruption of the times. Brescia revolted against its bishop, the fermentation spread to other towns, and complaints against the author of all this poured in at Rome. Innocent II had Arnold condemned, together with other heretics, in the council of Lateran, in 1139. Such, at least, is the positive statement of Otto of Freisingen and other historians of those times, but Arnold's name is not mentioned in the canons of the council; and it is only clear that, by Innocent's order, he was prohibited from preaching, was banished from Italy, and forbidden to return without the pope's permission. He then proceeded to France, where he fell in with an old fellow-student, the papal legate Guido, afterward Pope Celestinus II; but he met with an unrelenting adversary in Bernard of Clairvaux, who forced him to seek refuge at Zirich, and afterward at Constance (about 1140). He there resumed his preaching against the abuses of the clergy, and found many favorable listeners. But Bernard traced him there also, and caused the Bishop of Constance to banish him. After the death of Innocent II (1143), Arnold returned to Italy, and, hearing that the people of Rome had revolted against the pope, he put himself at the head of the insurrection. Lucius II had died of the wounds received in a popular affray, and Eugenius III, a disciple of Bernard, succeeded him in the papal chair, but was driven away from the city by the people and the senate. The multitude hurried on to excesses which Arnold probably had never contemplated. They attacked the houses of the cardinals and nobles, and shared the plunder. Arnold, however, still remained poor; he really despised wealth, and his morals were irreproachable. Rome continued for ten years in a state of agitation little differing from anarchy, at war with the pope and the people of Tibur, and at variance within itself. Bernard, in his epistles, draws a fearful picture of the state of the city at that time. Eugenius III died in 1153, and his successor, Anastasius IV, having followed him to the grave shortly after, Adrian IV was elected pope in 1154. He was a man of a more determined spirit than his predecessors. A cardinal having been attacked and seriously wounded in the streets of Rome, Adrian resorted to the bold measure of excommunicating the first city in Christendom, a thing without a precedent. The Romans, who had set at naught the temporal power of the pope, quailed before his spiritual authority. In order to the reconciled to the pontiff they exiled Arnold, who took refuge among some friendly nobles in Campania. When the Emperor Frederick I came to Rome to be crowned, the pope applied to him to have Arnold arrested. Frederick accordingly gave his orders, and Arnold was strangled, his body burnt, and the ashes thrown into the Tiber in the year 1155 (Penny Encyclopaedia). SEE ADRIAN IV. The Roman Catholic writers naturally give Arnold a bad character. In truth, he was a great reforming spirit-the Savonarola or Luther of his time -but driven by the evil circumstances of his age into errors and excesses. Neander is doubtless only just in saying that the inspiring idea of his movements was that of a holy and pure church, a renovation of the spiritual order after the pattern of the apostolic church. Baptist writers class him among the forerunners of their church, as one of the charges brought against him in 1139 was the denial of infant baptism. Baronius calls him "the patriarch of political heretics" (Annals, anno 1155). See Koler, De Arnoldo Brixiensi (Gott. 1742, 4to); Francke, Arnold v. Brescia u. seine Zest (Ziurich, 1825, 8vo).-Biog. Diet. Soc. Useful Knowl.; Neander, Ch. Hist. 4:149 sq.; Mosheim, Ch. Hist. cent. 12:pt. ii, ch. v, § 10; N. Brit. Rev. i, 458; Bohringer, Die Kirche Christi und ikre Zeugen, ii, 719; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, iii, 276. Compare SEE ARNOLDISTS.

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