First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Thomas Aquinas, of the Preaching Order, a teacher, and a disciple of Albertus Magnus, was born of a noble family in the vicinity of Apuleia and Sicily. During these uncertain times of change and turmoil in the kingdom of Sicily (during which King Conrad the Swabian destroyed the city of Aquino), the noble parents of Thomas, being the foremost family in that town, fled from there, placing Thomas under the care of the brothers of Monte Cassino, to be brought up there. Here he devoted himself to learning and spirituality; and afterwards, through the guidance of divine grace with which he was endowed from childhood, he entered the Dominican Order. To the end he lived a very spiritual and perfect life, during which he attained to such extraordinary ability in the Scriptures and in philosophy that no one was found to excel him. For he went to Cologne and advanced to such an extent that after the lapse of several years he became the foremost teacher in Paris. There he wrote four excellent books, and became known as the angelic teacher. Later he was called to Rome by Pope Urban, and offered a higher dignity; but he ignored the offer, and devoted himself entirely to study and writing, producing many vigorous and commendable works, as well as clear and commendable expositions and interpretations, not only of the Holy Scriptures, but also in natural philosophy. Moreover, he became very renowned for his miracles. Finally he was again summoned to Rome, to proceed from there to the Council at Lyons, called by Gregory X. But when he reached Monte Cassino, he was seized with illness; and he journeyed to the Lord in blessedness, on the Nones of March in the Year of the Lord 1274. Because of his manifold miracles he was enrolled among the saintly confessors by Pope John XXII at Avignon on the 15th day of the Kalends of August in the year 1323, fifty years after his exit from the world.

Thomas Aquinas (Thomas of Aquino), prince of scholastic philosophers, and known as Doctor Angelicus (‘Angelic Teacher’) was born at the castle of Roccasecca, near Aquino in the province of Naples, about 1225. Having received his elementary education at the abbey of Monte Cassino, in 1239 he went to study the seven liberal arts at the University of Naples. There, five years later, he entered the Order of Saint Dominic against the wishes of his family. From 1245-48 he studied in Paris under Albertus Magnus, and, when Albert returned to Cologne in 1248, Thomas went with him. In 1252, he was again in Paris, where four years later, after composing the commentaries on the Bible and on the Sentences, he received the degree of Licentiate in Theology, and shortly thereafter that of Master in Theology. For the next few years, he was engaged in teaching and defending the rights of his Order against William of St. Amour, the spokesman of the University of Paris. From 1259-68 he taught at the Pontifical Curia in Rome, and again in Paris from 1268-72, where he began his opposition to Siger of Brabant and the Latin Averroists, and to the Franciscan supporters of Augustinianism. In 1272, he was recalled to his native country to teach at Naples. Like his friend, Bonaventura, he was summoned by Gregory X to the General Council of Lyons (1274) which proposed to reconcile the differences between the Greek and Latin churches, but, while on his way to Lyons, he died on March 7th, 1274.

In spite of the condemnation of many of his doctrines by various churchmen, Thomas was canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII, and, in 1567, his festival was ranked by Pius V with those of the four great Latin fathers – Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory. No theologian, save Augustine, has had an equal influence on the theological thought of the Western Church, a fact strongly emphasized by Leo XII in his Encyclical of August 4th, 1879, which directed that the teachings of Thomas should be taken as the basis of theology. At least three further justifications for bestowing this honor could be suggested: (1) Thomas was a many-sided nature, as keenly interested in politics or mysticism as in metaphysics or theology. (2) He was the ideal scholar, persuading instead of denouncing his opponents, critical within reason, sober in judgment, and proving all things while holding fast to that which is good. (3) He was the producer of a most astounding Synthesis of past philosophical thought.

All the many writings of Thomas are preparatory to his great work, the Summa Theologica. He began, in 1254, with his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter the Lombard, a work in which the influence of Albertus Magnus and of Augustinianism that he was to desert later, is very evident. Then came his deliverances upon speculative theological problems and his commentaries on certain of the Scriptures. About the same time, he was producing commentaries on Boethius and on certain works of Aristotle. Most of the important doctrines of all these works and the later Opuscula, are set forth in a simplified manner in the two great Summae, the Summa contra Gentiles, and the Summa Theologica.

In the Summa contra Gentiles, the chief work of the Middle Ages on natural theology, Thomas attempts to meet the views and objections of non-Christians by clearly distinguishing the spheres of natural reason and faith. Reason and faith, he thinks, are both concerned with the same object, but in different ways; the former starts from sense-data, and attains to a knowledge of the existence, unity, goodness, intelligence and will of God; the latter rests on revelation and authority, and attains to a knowledge of God as a purely spiritual Being, that is, a Being with a Trinity of persons. Each requires to take into account the knowledge arrived at by the other, and, on account of the difference in their method, there need be no fear of contamination; they cannot be confused and they should not be isolated. Of the two, faith is the more important, because it bestows on man knowledge that he could not ordinarily possess, and thus it is said to transcend reason. True reason and faith can never be contradictory, for they both come from the one source of all truth, God, the Absolute One.

In 1265, Thomas began his Summa Theologica, intended to be the sum of all known learning. It is divided into three parts—God, Man, and the God-Man. The first and second parts are wholly his own work, but in the third only the first 90 questions are his; the rest of it was finished in accordance with his designs by Reginald of Piperno. Part I treats of the existence of God, of his nature and attributes, of the Trinity, of the Creation, of problems pertaining to the angels and to man, and lastly, of the divine government of the world. Part II deals firstly of general morality as founded on the ethics of Aristotle, and including man’s end, his will, the passions of his soul, virtue in general, sin, the old law and the new law of grace—the latter dealing with special morality, including the theological and cardinal virtues which raise numerous practical issues, and the contemplative life. In the third part of the Summa, Thomas discusses the person, office, and work of Christ, and had begun to discuss the sacraments when death ended his labors.

Charles (Carolus), brother of King Louis (Ludovici) of France, was declared king of Sicily by Pope Clement upon the death of Manfred; and he reigned 7[Charles I ruled Sicily for 17 years (as the German edition states), not 7 years.] years. Not long afterwards he brought the kingdom of Sicily and Apuleia under his dominion. Then he proceeded to Viterbo to help the pope with his entire army. But when he learned that the youthful Conrad, grandson of King Conrad the Swabian, had been called forth to proceed against the Guelphs in Italy, he marched into Etruria. And there occurred a great battle in which Conradin was taken prisoner and beheaded. After this Charles made peace with the Pisans, and with them he went to the assistance of his brother King Louis. But when he found his brother dead, he made peace with the king of Tunis, upon condition that he pay the king and his successors, forever, an annual tribute.

Charles I (1226 –1285), king of Naples and Sicily, and count of Anjou, was the seventh child of Louis VII of France and Blanche of Castile. Louis died a few months after Charles’ birth and was succeeded by his son, Louis IX (St. Louis), and, on the death in 1232 of the third son, John, count of Anjou and Maine, those fiefs were conferred on Charles. In 1248, Charles accompanied Louis in the crusade to Egypt, but, on the defeat of the Crusaders, he was taken prisoner with his brother. He was ransomed and returned to Provence in 1250. In 1262 Pope Urban IV determined to destroy the power of the Hohenstaufen in Italy, and offered the kingdom of Naples and Sicily to Charles of Anjou, in consideration of a yearly tribute. Charles accepted and collected a large army to take possession. Pope Clement IV conferred on the expedition all the privileges of a crusade. After narrowly escaping capture by Manfred’s fleet, Charles reached Rome safely and was there crowned king of the Two Sicilies. In 1266, he encountered his rival Manfred, son of Emperor Frederick II, at Benevento, where Manfred was defeated and slain, and the whole kingdom was soon in Charles’ possession. In 1268 he defeated Conradin, Frederick’s grandson and last legitimate descendant of the Hohenstaufen, at Tagliacozza. Conradin was taken prisoner, tried as a rebel, and executed at Naples.

In 1272, Charles took part with Louis IX in a crusade to North Africa. The election of Rudolf of Hapsburg as German king, and that of Nicholas III to the Holy See, diminished Charles’ power. The cruelty of the French rulers of Sicily provoked in 1282 the rebellion known as the Sicilian Vespers. Charles determined to subjugate the island, but his fleet was completely destroyed, as was also that of Charles’ son, who was taken prisoner. Charles came to Naples with a new fleet, and was preparing to invade Sicily again, when he died at Foggia in 1285.

The sect of the Flagellants had its origin in Italy; and from theree permeated into Germany and France. They whipped themselves with scourges provided with knots and barbs. Out of this practice originated many errors of faith and in the sacrament. To some extent this sect was finally exterminated by fire and sword.

A sect of fanatics (Flagellants) started in Perugia in 1260, flourished for a brief while in Italy, and were almost forgotten, when the ravages of the Black Plague in Europe (1347-1349) caused their revival, appearing first in Magdeburg in 1349. Believing that their sins had called down the vengeance of heaven, vast processions of penitents passed through the streets, armed with scourges, lashing themselves and one another until the blood flowed. They marched with torches and banners at night in the winter, and penetrated into the solitudes of mountain and forest. The penance was repeated twice a day—morning and evening, and continued for thirty-three and one half days, in memory of Christ’s earthly life.

The greatest enthusiasm was excited on their behalf throughout Germany. It often happened that after they had lashed themselves in the churches, they were entertained in the market place. Clement IV and succeeding pontiffs issued bulls against them, and they were condemned by the Council of Constance in 1414.

The theologians say that at this time the following prayer was praised by the upper classes, Blessed be the sweet name of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary, forever and ever. Amen. The Virgin Mary and her good Son bless us. Amen. And whoever should say this or make this prayer was, at the request of Louis (Ludovici) the Saint, King of France, rewarded by Pope Innocent with an indulgence of three years, for each time it was repeated.

Philip, son of Saint Louis (Ludovici), the king, assumed the sovereignty upon the death of his father and brother in Africa. He reigned fifteen years and resembled his father in piety of life. He fled from the plague in Africa into Italy, and established a five years’ truce between the Genoese and the Venetians. For the sake of the Christian faith he performed many commendable deeds of kindness at home and abroad. He provided a beautiful sepulcher for the remains of Mary Magdalene, and a larger chapel, and locked her head in a little silver shrine. He also did many similar and far greater things.[Philip III (1245 – 1285), surnamed ‘the Bold,’ king of France, son of Louis IX, had many of the virtues of his father, but neither decision of character nor devotion to duty. He was pious, charitable, of unimpeachable morality, quick tempered, but forgiving, no great scholar, and energetic only as a hunter. His lack of fitness to rule made his court the arena of intriguing factions, which, in reality, ruled France during his reign of fifteen years. Mathew of Vendome, abbot of St. Denis, an old servant of Louis IX, acted as Philip’s counselor throughout the reign. He died in 1285.]


Thomas Aquinas. The angelic doctor, fully robed as man of learning, holds an open book before him. A dove, probably symbolic of the Holy Spirit, has alighted on his shoulder and appears to be whispering in his ear.