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History of the Catholic Church from the Renaissance to the French Revolution — Volume 1 by James MacCaffrey
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fast becoming more secular in its tendencies, and, as a necessary
result, theories and principles that had met till then with almost
universal acceptance in literature, in art, in education, and in
government, were challenged by many as untenable.

Scholasticism, which had monopolised the attention of both schools and
scholars since the days of St. Anselm and Abelard, was called upon to
defend its claims against the advocates of classical culture; the
theocratico-imperial conception of Christian society as expounded by
the canonists and lawyers of an earlier period was forced into the
background by the appearance of nationalism and individualism, which
by this time had become factors to be reckoned with by the
ecclesiastical and civil rulers; the Feudal System, which had received
a mortal blow by the intermingling of the classes and the masses in
the era of the Crusades, was threatened, from above, by the movement
towards centralisation and absolutism, and from below, by the growing
discontent of the peasantry and artisans, who had begun to realise,
but as yet only in a vague way, their own strength. In every
department the battle for supremacy was being waged between the old
and the new, and the printing-press was at hand to enable the patrons
of both to mould the thoughts and opinions of the Christian world.

It was, therefore, an age of unrest and of great intellectual
activity, and at all such times the claims of the Church as the
guardian and expounder of Divine Revelation are sure to be questioned.
Not that the Church has need to fear inquiry, or that the claims of
faith and reason are incompatible, but because some daring spirits are
always to be reckoned with, who, by mistaking hypotheses for facts,
succeed in convincing themselves and their followers that those in
authority are unprogressive, and as such, to be despised.
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