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Struggle of Faith and Reason: A History of Intolerance and Punitive Censorship

Part II: From Mediaeval Cathars to Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini

Juhani Sarsila

Humanists look up to Hellas as the cradle of European culture. The book spans nearly five centuries of a later epoch of this worthy tradition. Starting with the awesome high-mediaeval Cathars, the exposition proceeds in chronological order. Eventually, we meet Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini, both of them red-letter heretics. The work affords cognisance of a neglected branch of learning. History of morals in general, and that of the struggle of faith and reason in particular, provides in-depth insights into the allotted fate of dissentient man. A potentially fateful nexus appears to be interweaving between book and author. Organised religion is evermore based on the politically beneficial idea of anthropomorphism or metaphysical projection. For has Man not made God in his image?

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VII John Hus: A Wyclifite in Prague



The fifteenth century proves at least as, if not more, dramatic as the fourteenth in the annals of censorship and sufferings of both men and their books. Be it as it may, the sixteenth century was to surpass the earlier centuries, to a great degree due to the art and practice of printing that signalled the end of the mediaeval ‘darkness’ and the onset of new era. Both the production of books and literacy increased to a nigh incredible extent. As a prelude, we still remain for a moment in the fourteenth century. In 1387, King Richard II, who believed he was a good Catholic, prohibits, under penalty of presentment and confiscation of personalty, the sale or purchase of the pamphlets of Wyclif and Nicholas Hereford. Wyclif had ended his earthly career after conflicts between his person and the clerical authorities, and yet was peacefully buried as a goodish Christian (Putnam 1906, I, 70). Wyclif judged in his theses both the pope and the Mother Church as perverted, diabolic institutions, for which he had to pay a rather high price posthumously, by which eternal damnation is not imported here.

The English Reformer had kindled the light of Reformation. It illuminated the darkest corners of popery and papist nescience, as soon as his doctrines reached Bohemia after the matrimony of King Wenceslaus’ sister, Anne, with Richard II of England. Politics brought about repercussions on theology and philosophy – and, again, in politics....

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