Milan, Archbishopric of
Milan, Archbishopric Of.
We have no trustworthy information as to its early history. There is a vague tradition that Barnabas (q.v.), the colaborer of the apostle Paul, established the Christian Church at Milan, and was the first bishop. This account lacks support, and scarcely deserves notice. But though of no historical value, the legend is significant in regard to the position which the archbishopric of Milan held in the controversies between the Oriental and Occidental churches. It has been aptly remarked by Reuchlin that, "just as Barnabas was the connecting link between Paul and the other apostles, so the Church of Milan attempted to reconcile the Greek and Roman opinions." The first bishop of Milan, of whom we have any historical knowledge, is Auxentius (q.v.), A.D. 355-374. He was the leader of the Arians in the Western churches. When the orthodox bishops, at a provincial synod held at Rome in 369, condemned Arianism, they did not dare to pronounce the anathema against Auxentius, because they knew him to be protected by the emperor Valentinian I. Although they were at last prevailed upon by Athanasius to pronounce against Auxentius in their synodal epistle to the Illyrians, Auxentius maintained himself in his see until his death. But the divisions thus created in the Church by the Arian heresy (q.v.) rendered the election of a successor to Auxentius no easy matter. The contest was carried on between Catholics and Arians with such violence that Ambrose, who was the consular prefect of Liguria and AEmilia, was obliged to proceed himself to the church to exhort the people to order. At the close of his speech the whole assembly, Catholics and Arians, with one voice demanded him for their bishop, and he was constrained to accept the proffered honor. Ambrose devoted himself to his work with great zeal, and soon acquired great influence both with the people and the emperor Valentinian. He opposed the Arians from the very beginning of his episcopacy, and in 382 presided at an episcopal synod at Aquileia, at which the Arian bishops Palladius and Secundianus were deposed. Ambrose died at Milan, April 4, 397. All succeeding archbishops and bishops were in like manner elected by the people, the Church of Milan not being subject to the Roman bishop until the days of Gregory the Great (q.v.). After the overthrow of the Gothic kingdom, the archbishops of Milan, owing to the religious differences and the feeling of enmity which existed between the people and their conquerors, the Lombards (q.v.), resided at Geneva. But when, in 653, Aribert, the son of duke Garduald, was chosen king of the Lombards, matters changed. "Rex Heribertus," says Dollinger, "pius et catholicus. Arianorum abolevit haeresem et Christianam fidem fecit crescere." The Lombards now became enthusiastic churchmen, and the archbishop returned to Milan. But although the archbishop of Milan was henceforth considered the first bishop of the kingdom, crowning the kings with the so called iron crown, and obtaining increasing power, he nevertheless remained subject to the king, and the inferior clergy to the subordinate judges — in short, the Church was subject to the State. After the downfall of the Longobard kingdom, the archbishops of Milan at first lost much of their power; but during the fights and quarrels of the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries, they not only regained their former influence, but became even more independent than ever before. Owing. to the then prevailing German policy, large feudal estates were bestowed upon the bishops of Milan, and, during the reign of the Ottos (q.v.), the archbishops of Milan were considered the most influential allies of the German emperors.
Eriberto di Argago, who filled the archiepiscopal chair of Milan from 1019 to 1045. was one of the most powerful princes, and though unsuccessful in the revolt which he organized in 1034 against emperor Conrad the Salic, his influence was scarcely diminished after his return from the expulsion to which his rebellion had subjected him. At the time of his death, Milan 'was passing through one of its accustomed civil dissensions, and the election of Eriberto's successor caused great excitement. Erlembaldo, the popular chief (dominus populi), called the citizens together to nominate candidates, and induced them to select four. These four were sent to the emperor Henry III (q.v.), for him to make the appointment; but the faction of the nobles despatched a rival in the person of Guido di Valate, who had recommended himself to the emperor by his zealous services, and who was given the coveted dignity, to the great disgust of the popular nominees. Their expostulations were unavailing with the emperor, and both parties returned Guido to assume an office harassed by the opposition of the people on whom he had been forced, and the disappointed candidates to brood over the wrongs they had experienced. We shall presently see how thoroughly these men avenged themselves on Guido, with whom the independence of the Milanese archbishopric came to an end.
It is historically evident, then, that Milan was at one time completely independent of the papacy. Rome was not even thought of in creating the archbishop, whose spiritual and temporal power were granted by the imperial investiture. But when, soon after, the German popes had rescued the pontificate from the contempt into which it had fallen, its domination over Milan became a necessary step in its progress to universal supremacy.
Marriage, at that time, was a universal privilege of the Milanese clergy. Pope Leo IX (q.v.) and his successors attacked the Milanese on this account, and, in a council held at Rheims by Leo IX in 1049, many laws were enacted against clerical matrimony. Archbishop Guido defended the position of the Milanese clergy, not only by Scripture texts, but also by a decision which he affirmed was rendered by St. Ambrose, to whom the question of the permissibility of sacerdotal marriage had been referred by the pope and bishops. The popes by their emissaries excited great tumults in Milan, inflaming the popular passion against, what they called, the irregularities of the clergy. Guido in vain endeavored to repress the agitation thus produced, and argued in favor of the married clergy. Armed resistance was offered to the papal faction, the result of which was incessant fights and increasing bloodshed. Nicholas II (q.v.), who then occupied the papal chair, sent Hildebrand and Anselm on a mission to Milan, with instructions to allay the passions which led to such deplorable civil strifes. The milder Anselm might perhaps have succeeded in this errand of reconciliation, but the unbending Hildebrand refused to listen to aught but unconditional subjection to Rome. The quarrel, therefore, waxed fiercer and deadlier (see Arnulf, Gest. Archiep. Mediolan. lib. 3, c. 9; Landulf, Sen. lib. 3, c. 9).
In 1059 another papal legation was sent, with full authority to force the recalcitrant archbishop and clergy to submission. An assembly was held, where the legates asserted the papal pre-eminence by taking the place of honor, to the general indignation of the Milanese, who did not relish the degradation of their archbishop before the representatives: of a foreign prelate. The authority of Rome, which at first was stoutly denied by the archbishop, was finally acknowledged, the archbishop and the clergy signing a paper in which they expressed their contrition in the most humiliating terms (see Damiani, Opusc. 42, c. 1).
The pride of the Milanese, however, was deeply wounded by such a subjection to Rome, unknown for many generations, and ill endured by men who gloried in the ancient dignity of the Ambrosian Church. When, therefore, in 1061, after Nicholas's death, their townsman, Anselm, was elevated from the episcopate of Lucca to that of the holy see, under the name of Alexander II, the Milanese Church attempted to regain its former independence. A council of German and Lombard bishops convened at Basle, and unanimously elected as pontiff Cadalus, bishop of Parma, under the title of Honorius II. By the assistance of the German emperors, the Lombard bishops, with Guido, the archbishop of Milan, at their head, assembled a considerable army in 1062, with which they conducted their new pope to Rome, while the popular party in Milan and Northern Italy assumed a formidable aspect in its alliance to the Lombard bishops. At this juncture Alexander II was rescued from probable defeat by the occurrence of a most unexpected event — the German bishops, under the influence of Hanno, archbishop of Cologne, sided with Alexander, and in 1064 the Synod of Mantua pronounced the deposition of Honorius. The archbishop of Milan, being unable to support the pretensions of the rival pope Without German aid, of which there was no prospect, yielded, and was excommunicated by the pope in 1066. Guido, however, disregarding this excommunication, resolved to officiate in the solemn services of Pentecost (June 4, 1066), and, braving all opposition, appeared at the altar. Excited to fury at this unexpected contumacy, the papal party attacked him in the church; his followers rallied in his defence, but, after a stubborn fight, were forced to leave him in the hands of his enemies, by whom he was nearly beaten to death. Some few months later archbishop Guido succeeded in reorganizing his party, and the war was for several years carried on with varying fortune. At last, in 1069, Hildebrand proposed that both the Milanese clergy and laity should take an oath that in future their archbishops should apply to the pope, and not to the emperor, for confirmation. Guido sought to anticipate this movement, and, old and wearied with the endless strife and contention, resigned his archbishopric to the subdeacon Gotefrido, who had long been his principal adviser. The latter procured his confirmation from Henry IV (q.v.), but the Milanese, defrauded of their electoral privileges, refused to acknowledge him. The papal party, taking advantage of this popular feeling, excited a tumult, and Gotefrido was glad to escape at night from the rebellious city.
Meanwhile Azzo, the papal aspirant, fared no better than his rival. The people rushed in to his inaugural banquet, unearthed him from the corner where he had hidden himself, dragged him by the heels in the street, and, placing him in a pulpit, forced him to swear that he would make no further pretensions to the see, and Azzo quitted the city, content to have saved his life.
The city remained thus without an archbishop, and in 1074 Hildebrand, who in April, 1073, had succeeded to Alexander, launched an interdict against Milan. The Milanese were disposed to disregard the interdict, and applied to Henry IV, requesting the appointment of another archbishop. To this the emperor responded by nominating Tedaldo, who was duly consecrated. Tedaldo was the leader of the disaffected bishops, who at the Synod of Pavia, in 1076, excommunicated pope Gregory himself; and though, after the interview at Canossa in 1077, the Milanese, disgusted with Henry's voluntary humiliation before that papal power which they had learned to despise, abandoned the imperial party for a time, yet Tedaldo kept his seat until his death in 1085, notwithstanding the repeated excommunications launched against him by Gregory (see Arnulf, lib. 4; 5, c. 2, 5, 9;. Landulf, Sen. lib. 3, c. 29; 4:2; Muratori, Annales, ann. 1085). With his death the independence of the Milan archbishopric ceased.
At present the clergy of Milan seem to be inclined to follow the lead of the Old Catholic party. Their programme, which contains the following reforms: election of the priests by the parish, the use of the vernacular at all Church-services, reform of Mariolatry and adoration of saints, marriage of the priests, etc., shows a healthy reaction against papal abuses. E. Serra Gropelli may be pointed out as the leader of the Milanese reform party.
See Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, 4:297 sq.; Riddle, Hist. of the Papacy, 2:119 sq.; Dupin, Eccles. Hist. 9, chapter 8; Mosheim, Church Hist. 3:11, part 2; Lea, Hist. of Sacerdotal Celibacy, chapter 13; Schrockh, Kirchengesch. 22:523 sq.; Bohringer, Kirche Christi, 1:90; 3:92 sq.; Milman, Hist. of Lat. Christianity, 3:240 sq.; Reichel, Roman See in the Middle Ages, pages 189, 191 sq.; Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon, 5:318 sq.; Herzog, Real Encyklop. 20:72 sq.