Index Librorum Prohibitorum


Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Today, we can wander down to the newsagents on our way to work, or take a leisurely walk on our days off to pick up a paper or even buy a book.  Which we now take for granted, even buying our children books as presents or are required as part of their curriculum throughout their schooling.  For myself, I would be lost without my books, which I am still enlarging my library, much to my wife’s consternation that I am spending her inheritance. 

Yet, if it was left to the Papacy and the Office of the Curia (not Catholic-bashing, this is factual) who supposedly supervised the morality and education of western Europe at the time. We would have no literature outside of any religious text. No fictional, non-fictional or reference books, no newspapers, magazines or any pamphlet of any kind, unless it was approved by the powers that be within the hierarchy of the church. If the church had of succeeded it would have been a return to the Stone-Age for humanity.


Until the printing press, the church had carte blanche on what was written. From about 1525 in Catholic Netherlands, the church started to censor books and other material coming off printing presses in all Catholic countries of Europe, which was most nations at the time.

The Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) was a list of publications deemed heretical or contrary to morality by the Sacred Congregation of the Index (a former Dicastery of the Roman Curia), and Catholics were forbidden to read them without permission. In 1559, Pope Paul IV (1555-59) promulgated the Index of prohibited books. Probably it is one of the times we could thank Protestant nations that took no notice of the prohibition of books. The age of knowledge was upon us, and from the lowly peasant to the wealthy nobility, reading was here for all but barred to those in Catholic enclaves and nations. Even reading the Bible in your mother tongue was outlawed. Not forgetting that the Vatican did not cease with the forbidden index until 1966, however, many historians state that the index is alive and well even to this day under Canon Law!

Some of the noteworthy authors whose works were on the Index include Daniel Defoe, Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel de Montaigne, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Baruch Spinoza, Desiderius Erasmus, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Thomas Browne, John Milton, John Locke, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, and Hugo Grotius. Are just a few of the authors that the Papacy saw as enemies of the church.


Just imagine if a German Monk had not nailed his 95 theses to a church door or an Italian Humanist had not condemned the Donation of Constantine as a fake or a Breton Abbot had not recognised the Book of Popes as a forgery?  Today, if we could read (a big if), everything readable from Bible to documentation would be in one universal language that of Latin and not your mother tongue!  God forbid if you spoke out about the church, if you were not hung at your local village, town or city gallows, you would end your days chained to the oars of a galley!  I kid you not!  

We have to thank Emmanuel II of Italy (1861-78) who freed more than 3 million from serfdom whose lives had not changed in over 1,100 years.  

Except for this clerical dominance, only 15% lived in towns of a thousand or more. Rome had only 150,000 inhabitants, and Bologna (the second largest) less than half that many.,less%20than%20half%20that%20many.


Say something nice and be kind, when you have your say on any point of the post?



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