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986
CONSTANCE, LAKE OF—CONSTANS

the greatest congress of people the world has ever seen. From the outset, voting by count of heads had been superseded by voting according to nations, i.e. all questions were deliberated and settled in four distinct assemblies—the Italian, the French, the German and the English,[1]—the decisions of the nations being merely ratified afterwards pro forma by the council in general congregation, and also, if occasion arose, in public session. These four groups, however, were of unequal importance, and thanks to this arrangement the English, although weakest in point of numbers, were able to exercise the same influence in the council as if they had formed a fourth of the voters—the same influence, for instance, as the Italians, who had an imposing numerical force. This anomaly aroused lively protests, especially in the French group, after the battle of Agincourt had rekindled national animosity on both sides. The arrival of the Spaniards at Constance necessitating the formation of a fifth nation, Pierre d'Ailly availed himself of the opportunity to ask either that the English nation might be merged in the German, or that each great nation might be allowed to divide itself into little groups each equivalent to the English nation. It is not difficult to imagine the storms aroused by this indiscreet proposal; and had not the majority of the Frenchmen assembled at Constance had the sagacity to refuse to uphold the cardinal of Cambrai on this point, the upshot would have been a premature dissolution of the council.

Another source of trouble was the attitude of the emperor Sigismund, who, not content with protecting by his presence and as far as possible directing the deliberations of the “Universal Church,” followed on more than one occasion a policy of violence and threats, a policy all the more irritating since, weary of his previously assumed rôle of peacemaker between the Christian powers, he had abruptly allied himself with the king of England, and adopted an extremely hostile attitude towards the king of France.

The reform which the council had set itself to effect was a subject the fathers could not broach without stirring up dissension: some stood out obstinately for preserving the status quo, while others contemplated nothing less than the transformation of the monarchical administration of the church into a parliamentary democracy, the subordination of the sovereign pontiff, and the annihilation of the Sacred College. In view of these difficulties, the opinion which tended to assure the success of one at least of the great tasks before the council, viz. the re-establishment of unity by the election of a single pope, finally prevailed in despite of Sigismund. The general reform on which the council had failed to come to an understanding had to be adjourned, and the council contented itself with promulgating, on the 9th of October 1417, the only reforming decrees on which an agreement could be reached. The principle of the periodicity of the councils was admitted; the first was to assemble after the lapse of five years, the second within the next seven years, and subsequent councils were to meet decennially. In the event of a fresh schism, the council, which bound itself to assemble immediately, even without formal convocation, was to remain sole judge of the conflict. After his election the pope had to make a profession of the Catholic faith, and give guarantees against arbitrary translations. Finally, the council pronounced in favour of the pope's renunciation of the right to the movable property of deceased prelates (spolium) as well as of the right of procurations. The execution of the surplus of the general reform of the church in its head and members was left in the hands of the future pope, who had to proceed conjointly with the council, or rather with a commission appointed by the nations—in other words, once the new pope was elected, the fathers, conscious of their impotence, were disinclined to postpone their dispersion until the laborious achievement of the reform. They were weary of the business, and wished to be done with it.

In order to rebuild the see of St Peter on a basis now cleared of obstacles, an attempt was made to surround the election of the future pope with all the necessary guarantees. The authority of the cardinals, who were the only persons judicially invested with the right of electing the pope, emerged from the crisis through which the church had just passed in far too feeble and contested a condition to carry by its own weight the general assent. It was therefore decided that with the cardinals each nation should associate six delegates, and that the successful candidate should be required to poll two-thirds of the suffrages, not only in the Sacred College, but also in each of these five groups. The advantage of this arrangement was that the choice of the future pope would depend, not only on the vote of the cardinals, thus safeguarding tradition, but at the same time on the unanimous consent of the various nations, by which the adhesion of the whole Catholic world to the election would be guaranteed. There was, indeed, a danger lest the rivalries in the assembly might render it exceedingly difficult, not to say impossible, to obtain such unanimity. But at the end of three days the conclave resulted in the election of Cardinal Otto Colonna, who took the name of Martin V. (11th of November 1417), and the Great Schism of the West was at an end.

To conform to the decrees of the council, the new pope drew up a project of reform with the concurrence of the fathers still remaining at Constance, and subsequently made various reforming treaties or concordats with the nations of the council, which finally broke up after the 45th session, held on the 22nd of April 1418. To all seeming the pope had admitted the canonicity of several of the decrees of Constance—for instance, he had submitted to the necessity of the periodical convocation of other councils; but from his reticence on some points, as well as from his general attitude and some of his constitutions, it appeared that the whole of the decrees of Constance did not receive his unqualified approval, and without any definite pronouncement he made some reservations in the case of decrees which were detrimental to the rights and pre-eminence of the Holy See.

See H. von der Hardt, Magnum oecumenicum Constantiense concilium (Frankfort, 1700); Ulrich von Richental, Das Conciliumbuch zu Constanz, ed. by Buck in the Bibliothek des liter. Vereins (Stuttgart, 1882); H. Finke, Forschungen und Quellen zur Gesch. des Konstanzer Konzils (Paderborn, 1889), and Acta concilii Constantiensis, vol. i. (Münster, 1896); N. Valois, La France et le grand schisme d’Occident, vol. iv. (Paris, 1902).  (N. V.) 


CONSTANCE, LAKE OF (called by the Romans Lacus Brigantinus or lake of Bregenz, and now usually named in German Bodensee, as well as the “Swabian Sea”), the most extensive sheet of water in the Alpine region, after the Lake of Geneva. It is situated on the north-east frontier of Switzerland, and is formed by the Rhine. Its shape is oblong, while at its north-western extremity it divides into two arms, the Untersee (from Constance to Stein-am-Rhein) and the Überlingersee (running up to Ludwigshafen). The length of the lake from Bregenz to Stein-am-Rhein is 46½ m., while that from Bregenz to Ludwigshafen is but 40 m. Its surface is 1309 ft. above sea-level, the greatest width is 10½ m., and the greatest depth 827 ft. The area of the lake is 204¾ sq. m., of which 81¼ sq. m. have belonged to Switzerland since 1803, the canton of Thurgau holding 59¾ sq. m. and that of St Gall 21½ sq. m. Austria has held Bregenz, at the south-eastern angle of the lake, since 1451, while the north end of the lake belongs to Baden (Constance held since 1805), and bits of its eastern shore form part of Württemberg (Friedrichshafen, formerly called Buchhorn, since 1810) and of Bavaria (Lindau since 1805). The first steamer was placed on its waters in 1824. Numerous remains of lake-dwellings have been found on the shores of this lake (see E. von Tröltsch, Die Pfahlbauten des Bodenseegebietes, Stuttgart, 1902).  (W. A. B. C.) 


CONSTANS, JEAN ANTOINE ERNEST (1833–), French statesman, was born at Béziers. He began his career as professor of law, and in 1876 was elected deputy for Toulouse. He sat in the Left Centre and was one of the 363 of the 16th of May 1877. Re-elected in October 1877, he joined Freycinet as minister of the interior in May 1880, holding this portfolio until the 14th of November 1881. On the 22nd of February 1889 he again assumed the same office in the Tirard cabinet. He became prominent as a stalwart opponent of the Boulangist party,

  1. The English, who had hitherto been considered to form part of the German “nation,” were recognized as a separate nation at this council for the first time.