This it was, however, in a deep and true sense of the word. The force of the Renaissance was exhausted, and a time of relaxation had to be passed through, before the reaction known as the Counter-Reformation could make itself felt in art. Then, and not till then, a new spiritual impulse produced a new style.
All the Italian literature of that time is full of ridicule and invective aimed at the begging friars. It can hardly be doubted that the Renaissance would soon have destroyed these two Orders, had it not been for the German Reformation and the Counter-Reformation which intervened. Their saints and popular preachers could hardly have saved them.
But in the great religions, which have a soul of goodness and sincerity, we may be sure that reformers will arise, prophets and saints who, as of old, will preach the living word of God. In many churches today we can see the beginning of that new Counter-Reformation.
But the enslavement of the country, together with the counter-Reformation, suspended the Renaissance in mid-career; and what remains of Italian art is incomplete.
But practically the policy of Mary and Philip worked forward to the same end. While the Scottish Queen prepared her counter-reformation in England and Scotland, Philip was gathering a formidable host which was to suppress Calvinism as well as liberty in the Netherlands.
Hand in hand with political despotism marched religious tyranny. The Counter-Reformation over which the Inquisition presided, was part and parcel of the Spanish policy for the enslavement of the nation no less than for the restoration of the Church.
From these he passes to the Mysticism of the counter-Reformation, especially to the two great Spanish mystics, St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross. Here again he is new and interesting; but we must regret that he has not been as merciful to Theresa as he has to poor little John.
Marlowe makes the ghost of the great Florentine speak prologue to the Jew of Malta thus I count religion but a childish toy, And hold there is no sin but ignorance. When the Counter-reformation had begun in Italy, and desperate efforts were being made to check the speculative freedom of the Renaissance, the Principe was condemned by the Inquisition.
The harsh intolerance which came with the Spanish Counter-Reformation manifested itself oftentimes in acts of cruelty and oppression which are almost beyond belief.
Teresa performed a splendid service inside the Church to which she belonged: but that service was wholly confined to the Religious Houses that she founded and reformed. Teresa's was intended to be a kind of counter-reformation to the reformation of Luther and Melanchthon and Valdes and Valera.