committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

SECTION XVIII.

THE ERA OF PERSECUTION.—THE CRUSADES AGAINST THE
BOGOMILS.—THE ARCHBISHOP OF COLOCZ.

WE return from this digression to an account of what befel the Bogomils of Bosnia after the death of "the good Ban Culin." After his decease, which occurred in 1205, the King of Hungary, wishing to pacify Pope Innocent III., procured the election of Zibisclav, a Sclavonian, but a strict Roman Catholic, as Ban of Bosnia. But the pure lives, the honesty, integrity, and industry, of the Bogomils, were too much for this Roman Catholic Ban, and he became a convert to the hated sect. There were peace and quiet in Bosnia till 1216, when the learned and gentle Pope Honorius III., having ascended the papal throne, believing that these heretical Bogomils could be convinced of their heresies by argument, sent the accomplished subdeacon Aconcius to Bosnia to labor for their conversion. But the arguments of the eloquent subdeacon proved no more efficacious than those of his predecessors: the heresy grew and increased, like the waters of Noah's flood, continuously. Northward and northwestward, in the provinces of Croatia, Dalmatia, Istria, Carniola, and Sclavonia, which had hitherto been strongly Roman Catholic, the number of converts multiplied daily, while at home they were fast becoming the dominant power.

In this emergency the Archbishop of Colocz, in Hungary. stood forth as a defender of the Romish faith. Armed with authority from the pope and the Hungarian king, he entered Bosnia in 1222 at the head of a host of Hungarian Catholics, and used the sword with such good effect that he had shortly possessed himself of the provinces of Bosnia, Ussora, and Soy. The Ban Zibisclav, who seems to have possessed very little of the Sclavonic pluck, notwithstanding his Sclavonic origin, was compelled to abjure his errors, and, falling humbly at the feet of the pope, Gregory IX., received from him an embrace; in return for which he professed to be willing to dedicate to his service his person, his lands, and all the goods he at that time possessed. This was in 1233.

The subjects of the Ban were not inclined to be included in this abject surrender. The violent persecution which had raged for eleven years had not terrified them, though it had subjugated their Ban, and their answer to their persecutor was the erection of more places of worship and the setting apart of a greater number of djeds, or elders, both for home and missionary work. Pope Gregory IX. was enraged at the boldness of these heretics. Provence had been overrun and purged of its heresies, the Waldenses had been driven into the fastnesses of Piedmont, and should he be thus flouted by these Serbian BogomiIs? It was not to be thought of for a moment. A new crusade was proclaimed, and Coloman, Ban of Sclavonia and brother of the King of Hungary, was to lead it. In 1238 he entered Bosnia. with a large army to exterminate the heretics. The weak and treacherous Zibisclav permitted without protest or resistance the havoc and devastation which this ruffianly crusader made among his best subjects. Coloman "purged"—so they called it—the whole kingdom, and extended his ravages through the principality of Chelm, which formed the south-western portion of the present Herzegovina. No troubadour has sung, no historian has recorded, the barbarities and atrocities of this war of extermination: we only know that many thousands were enrolled among the glorious army of martyrs, and that from under the altar, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held, uttered again their cries for vengeance on the cruel persecutor of the saints. Pope Gregory IX., in 1240, congratulated Coloman on " wiping out the heresy, and restoring the light of Catholic purity;" but ere his death, in 1241, he had discovered that his congratulations were premature.

The Tartar invasion of 1241, which weakened the power of Hungary, and in which the crusader Coloman and the base coward Zibisclav both fell on the field under the fierce assault of the Khan Ugadai, relieved the Bogomils from persecution for a time.[30]

 
 
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