COUNCIL OF BASEL 223
compelled after many evasions to summon the Council of Basel. Car- dinal Giuliano Gesarini, who had preached the crusade against the powerful rebellion of the Hussites, wrote the Pope that it was high rime to act. Martin appointed the Cardinal president of the Council and thereupon died.
Constance was dominated by an idea of the Papacy, the bearer of which (reminiscent of Dante's imperial president of the peoples) was to be caput ministeriale, a serving head, and so to strive to bring about through free co-operation with the members of the body of the Church the subordination of all things earthly to the laws of Christ, If one compares the spirit of this Council with the attitude of the old Church, one sees that in spite of many resemblances of a superficial kind there had taken place during a thousand years a transition from enthusiasm to reason and from visionary yearning for the Civitas Dei to a query put by men who knew history as to what the function of the Church really was. What place did philosophy and law assign to it in the complex of human existence, and what form of adjustment between the Church and the Papacy was desirable? This new structure had been half completed at Constance but it was to fall into complete ruin at Basel. Nevertheless the event also had its meaning and its conse- quences.
Eugene IV (14311447), an honest, strict Venetian religious, gave the Conclave the promise it exacted that he would carry out a reform of the Church and the Curia. He did not lack fanatical zeal, but he was wholly without political skill and intellectual vision. Though he may have been bound by the agreement made by his predecessor to summon a future Council of Union on the southern coast of Italy, his attempt to suspend the deliberations of Basel after they had scarce be- gun and to choose another site compelled all those who participated in the Council to oppose him from the beginning. Sigismund, the German princes and the King of France adopted a hostile attitude; Cardinal Oesarini joined forces with them and finally persuaded the Pope himself to abandon his plan. The decision of Constance that the highest powers of the Church were lodged in the Council was proclaimed anew; Pope Eugene was called upon to justify his attitude, and a movement to depose him was threatened. Sigismund went to Rome and during the last days of May, 1433, managed to have him-