Julian(Us) Cesarini, Cardinal
Julian(Us) Cesarini, Cardinal, one of the most distinguished characters of the Church of Rome in the Middle Ages prominently connected with the efforts to heal the dissensions within the pale of the Romish Church of the 15th century, and the union of the Eastern and Western churches at the Council of Florence; was born at Rome in 1398, the descendant of a noble family noted in the annals of Italian history. He was educated at the University of Perugia, and early evinced the possession of great ability and uncommon talents. He particularly interested himself in the study of the Roman law, and soon acquired the reputation of being one of the foremost thinkers, and was honored with a professor's chair at Padua. He was not suffered, however, to continue long in the rostrum, for the Church of his day needed men of decision and energy to allay the strife which was raging fiercely, and threatening the destruction of the hierarchical edifice so lately dishonored in the occupation of the papal chair by licentious characters. sometimes familiarly termed the Babylonish captivity of the Church of Rome, the illustrious Colonna, better known as Martin V, was to obliterate, as well as to rebuild on a firm foundation both the moral and material influence of the papacy. For such a task his own talents, however great, were not sufficient, and the wise, far seeing pontiff was not slow to recognize the uncommon endowments of young Julian, who was accordingly appointed apostolic prothonotary, and, later, auditor of the Rota Romana. Cardinal Brunda in particular became interested in the rising Cesarinus; and when, in 1419, he was sent as papal legate to Bohemia to bring back the erring (?) sheep of the Slavonic fold, Julian was the legate's companion and mainstay. Though this mission failed to accomplish its objects, at the Diet of Brunn, Julian won golden opinions from the Romans, and in 1426 (May 22) was promoted to the cardinalate of Santo Angelo. When, in 1431, a diet was summoned at Nuremberg "to concert immediate and vigorous action for crushing the hitherto successful rebellion," it was none other than cardinal Julian whom Martin V selected (after his death confirmed by Eugenius IV) to represent him in that ecclesiastical body, as well as in the general council which, in accordance with the celebrated decree "Frequens" of the Council of Constance, was soon to meet at Basle. It had been determined to extirpate the Hussites by all means. As kind words would not bring them back to the open arms of the Church the cardinal legate boldly exchanged the mitre for the helmet. Quickly an army of Crusaders was gathered, and in himself blending together the characters of the priest and the soldier he sought to kindle in their hearts the fires of religious zeal and patriotic devotion. But neither the potency of a blessed banner and a consecrated sword nor the spectacle of an ecclesiastic urging on an army to a war of faith, had sufficiently impressed Rome's most faithful adherents to brave "The face of a religious influence like that of Hussitism, which was rooted in national sympathies, such as Rome could never awaken in the day of her greatest power," and ignominiously the papal legate again failed in his mission. Meanwhile, however, the Council of Basle had convened, opened in the absence of the legate by two of his deputies, and thither Julian directed his steps. He assumed its presidency Sept. 9, 1431, determined by peaceful measures to essay once more the accomplishment of a task which he had found it impossible to secure on the field of battle; and to his honor be it said that all the inducements which were now held out to the Hussites were the offerings of a sincere and pious soul, which desired above all things else the glory of God and the honor of his Church. "The sanguine and undaunted legate, who had been the first to reckon on the military campaign as the only remedy for the spreading disease; was now the first to fall back upon the council from which he had hitherto augured so little good. 'As I saw no other remedy left' (are his own words), I animated and encouraged all to remain steadfast in the faith, and to fear nothing, since on this very account I was going to the council where the whole Church would assemble'" (Jenkins). How much Julian did to obtain Eugenius' sanction to the continuation of the council which that pontiff was determined to abrogate, and how Julian, not withstanding the publication of a bull abrogating the council, and convoking it eighteen months later at Bologna continued the session, and with what liberality sagacity he counseled in the deliberations of this synod, and with what earnestness and zeal he defended the independence of the council and its superiority over the pontiff we have already mentioned in the article on SEE BASLE, COUNCIL OF (q.v.). Suffice it to say that, had the wise and all seeing policy of the legate been allowed to be carried out in the name and with the full consent of the Roman pontiff, the Hussites would have been redeemed and the Church of Rome been spared the reductions which she suffered in the 16th century, and which even now threaten her very existence. SEE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH. Annoyed and distracted by the opposition of Eugenius, the president hardly knew how to dispose of the Bohemian question, and the Hussites, doubting the sincerity of the cardinal, received every advance with distrust, and misinterpreted every utterance of Julian; till it finally became evident to both parties that their mission was fruitless, and that it had only opened another and a still more intricate chapter in the history of this long and eventful controversy. SEE HUSSITES. But if Julian had battled for reform within the Church, and had boldly argued in favor of the council's supremacy over the incumbent of the papal chair, he had yet faithfully adhered to the Roman pontificate; and when, as he believed, the fathers of the Church determined to deprive Eugenius of a portion of his support, he as earnestly defended the pontiffs cause, and suddenly the council found itself at variance with its able president, and the Church threatened with a greater schism than she had ever yet endured. It is true Julian had been one of the prime and most zealous leaders in abolishing the annates (q.v.), but he staunchly insisted with the same zeal for some compensation from other sources; and when he found the council indisposed to meet his views, he quickly changed front, and became one of Eugenius' most outspoken adherents. The breach had opened in February 1437; in September, the arrival of a papal bull ordering a synod at Ferrara to consider the question of uniting the Eastern and Western churches obliged Julian to resign the presidency, and on Jan. 9, 1438, he quitted Basle, and, after a short visit to Rome, hastened to Ferrara. SEE FLORENCE, COUNCIL OF; SEE FELIX V. This sudden change of Julian from an opponent to an adherent of the Eugenian party has led historians to doubt the sincerity of the cardinal; but when we consider that Julian's great object was the union of the Eastern and Western churches, the healing of schisms within either, and a thorough reformation to suit the wants of the day, this action explains itself to us as really the natural development of those great principles of ecclesiastical policy upon which Julian had acted from the beginning; and "while the advocates of the pope were rejoicing over the immediate fruits of a successful duplicity, that vigorous and impulsive mind, which had guided the intellectual strength of Christendom in the freest and most enlightened council that had assembled since the apostolic age, was preparing itself for a future of more enduring triumph. The long and dreary night of schisms and controversies seemed now far spent, and the day of strength and reunion was at hand. How sublime was the prospect now opening upon an earnest and sanguine mind. The restoration of the Church to its first beauty and integrity; its reformation by the recovery of its first estate, and of that spirit which made it one in Christ; the overthrow of the infidel and the enemy of the Church by a warfare of whose glories the earlier Crusades would become but a faint prophecy; the extension of the power of the papacy over all Christendom, and the restoration of the episcopacy to its pristine beauty under the one universal patriarch — these were the most prominent features of this vision of things to come. We cannot wonder that, with such a view before him the great reformer of the Church at Basle laid down the work of reformation to take up that of union; and while keeping still, as the rule of all his labors, the truth proclaimed at Constance, 'There can be no real union without reformation, nor true reformation without union,' he fell back upon the work of union when that of reformation became impossible. To one who regards his course from this point every stage of his transition from Basle to Florence will become clear and consistent. Everywhere we shall recognize a careful provision for the exigencies of the Church, formed from the matured experience of its past dangers, and a disinterested zeal which, in an age of selfish intrigue, was as naturally misrepresented as it was willfully misunderstood. The insinuation of Gibbon is at once confronted by the fact that if Julian had not sought the peace of the Church rather than his own aggrandizement, he might have grasped at this moment the papacy itself, and wrested from Eugenius that authority under which he was content to close a life of brilliant but ill requited service" (Jenkins, p. 266-268).
But if the conduct of Julian had hitherto been the outgrowth of a sincere heart, we can only look with suspicion upon his actions in the Council of Florence, removed thither from Ferrara. His name deserves to be treated with ignominy for the duplicity he manifested towards the leading prelates of the Eastern Church, and from this time dates the earliest "moral declension in the course of Julian, which was at once closed and expiated in the dark page of the Hungarian legation." SEE FLORENCE, COUNCIL OF; SEE PURGATORY; SEE FILIOQUE; SEE JOSEPH OF CONSTANTINOPLE. For his valuable services to the papacy, Eugenius bestowed on him the bishopric of Frascati, and in 1443 further evinced his recognition of Julian's efforts by appointing him legate to Hungary, which country, the very bulwark against further advances of the Turks, was at this time threatened by civil dissensions, and was fast developing many causes of as serious apprehensions to the court of Rome as Bohemia had done in the previous century. SEE SIGISMUND; SEE WLADISLAS. Again Julian was obliged to lay aside his spiritual weapons, and to draw the temporal sword which he had once before wielded so unsuccessfully. But not only did he change the manner and weapons of warfare, but even the principles for which he fought; and hereafter Julian is marked by an unscrupulous pursuit of his object, and it becomes really difficult to detect, under the strange disguise which he henceforth assumes "the features of that enlightened mind which inspired the decrees and directed the correspondence of the Council of Basle." His task was to heal the dissensions of the Hungarian royalty, and to enlist that country, in union with all the rest of Christendom, to check the further advance, and, if possible, bring about the utter annihilation of the Turks; and when the sudden death of the queen regent Elizabeth (which is oftentimes said to have been caused by Julian Cesarinus) and the accession of Wladislas had secured to the Turks a peace of ten years, it was Julian who came forward to argue with the king on the fallacy of adhering to a compact with heretics, especially as the treaty had been made without the sanction of the holy see. The apostolic authority served to free Wladislas from his obligation, and the war with the Saracens began anew, in which both king and papal legate fell a prey to Mohammedan defenders at the battle of Varna (1440). According to some, Julian was murdered in his flight by a Wallachian who saw gold on his clothes; others say that the Hungarians killed him in punishment for his evil advice; while others, again, say that he died in 1446, in consequence of a wound received while leading on the Christians; and some Romish historians even claim that he suffered martyrdom in the camp of the Turks; but as none of the contemporary historians knew anything of the kind to have occurred, it seems useless to refute the statement. His speeches are contained in the Acts of Councils, and his two letters to Eugenius concerning the Council of Basle in the Fasciculus rerum expetend. (Col. 1535), p. 27 sq. See Jenkins Life and Times of Cardinal Julian (London, 1861, 8vo); Hefele, Quartalschrift, 1847, 2; Cave, Scriptores Ecclesiastes; Schröckh, Kirchengeschichte, 32, 11 sq.; Milman, Latin Christianity (see Index in vol. 8). (J.H.W.)