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ROBERT HALLAM (d. 1417)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 853 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ROBERT HALLAM (d. 1417), bishop of Salisbury and English representative at the council of Constance, was educated at Oxford, and was chancellor of the university from 1403 to 1405. In the latter year the pope nominated him to be arch-bishop of York, but the king objected. However, in 1407 he was consecrated by Gregory XII. at Siena as bishop of Salisbury. At the council of Pisa in 1409 he was one of the English established institutions of the country." No accusation made by a critic ever fell so wide of the mark. Absolute justice is the standard which Hallam set himself and maintained. His view of constitutional history was that it should contain only so much of the political and general history of the time as bears directly on specific changes in the organization of the state, including therein judicial as well as ecclesiastical institutions. But while abstaining from irrelevant historical discussions, Hallam dealt with statesmen and policies with the calm and fearless impartiality of a judge. It was his cool treatment of such sanctified names as Charles, Cranmer and Laud that provoked the indignation of Southey and the Quarterly, who forgot that the same impartial measure was extended to statesmen on the other side. If Hallam can ever be said to have deviated from perfect fairness, it was in the tacit assumption that the 19th-century theory of the constitution was the right theory in previous centuries, and that those who departed from it on one side or the other were in the wrong. He did unconsciously antedate' the constitution, and it is clear from incidental allusions in his last work that he did not regard with favour the democratic changes which he thought to be impending. Hallam, like Macaulay, ultimately referred all political questions to the standard of Whig constitutionalism. But though his work is thus, like that of many historians, coloured by his opinions, this was not the outcome of a conscious purpose, and he was scrupulously conscientious in collecting and weighing his materials. In this he was helped by his legal training, and it was doubtless this fact which made the Constitutional History one of the text-books of English politics, to which men of all parties appealed, and which, in spite of all the work of later writers, still leaves it a standard authority. Like the Constitutional History,the Introduction to the Literature of Europe continues one of the branches of inquiry which had been opened in the -View of the Middle Ages. In the first chapter of the Literature, which is to a great extent supplementary to the last chapter of the Middle Ages, Hallam sketches the state of literature in Europe down to the end of the 14th century: the extinction of ancient learning which followed the fall of the Roman empire and the rise of Christianity; the preservation of the Latin language in the services of the church; and the slow revival of letters, which began to show itself soon after the 7th century—" the nadir of the human mind "—had been passed. For the first century and a half of his special period he is mainly occupied with a review of classical learning, and he adopts the plan of taking short decennial periods and noticing the most remarkable works which they produced. The rapid growth of literature in the 16th century compels him to resort to a classification of subjects. Thus in the period 1520-1550 we have separate chapters on ancient literature, theology, speculative philosophy and jurisprudence, the literature of taste, and scientific and miscellaneous literature; and the subdivisions of subjects is carried further of course in the later periods. Thus poetry, the drama and polite literature form the subjects of separate chapters. One inconvenient result of this arrangement is that the same author is scattered over many chapters, according as his works fall within this category or that period of time. Names like Shakespeare, Grotius, Bacon, Hobbes appear in half a dozen different places. The individuality of great authors is thus dissipated except when it has been preserved by an occasional sacrifice of the arrangement—and this defect, if it is to be esteemed a defect, is increased by the very sparing references to personal history and character with which Hallam was obliged to content himself. His plan excluded biographical history, nor is the work, he tells us, to be regarded as one of reference. It is rigidly an account of the books which would make a complete library of the period.,' arranged according to the date of their publication and the nature of their subjects. The history of institutions like universities and academies, and that of great popular movements like the Reformation, are of course 1 Technical subjects like painting or English law have been excluded by Hallam, and history and theology only partially treated. representatives. On the 6th of June 1411 Pope John XXIII. made Hallam a cardinal, but there was some irregularity, and his title was not recognized. At the council of Constance (q.v.), which met in November 1414, Hallam was the chief English envoy. There he at once took a prominent position, as an advocate of the cause of Church reform, and of the superiority of the council to the pope. In the discussions which led up to the deposition of John XXIII. on the 29th of May 1415 he had a leading share. With the trials of John Hus and Jerome of Prague he had less concern. The emperor Sigismund, through whose influence the council had been assembled, was absent during the whole of 1416 on a diplomatic mission in France and England; but when he returned to Constance in January 1417, as the open ally of the English king, Hallam as Henry's trusted representative obtained increased importance. Hallam contrived skilfully to emphasize English prestige by delivering the address of welcome to Sigismund on his formal reception. Afterwards, under his master's direction, he gave the emperor vigorous support in the endeavour to secure a reform of the Church, before the council proceeded to the election of a new pope. This matter was still undecided when Hallam died suddenly, on the 4th of September 1417. After his death the direction of the English nation fell into less skilful hands, with the result that the cardinals were able to secure the immediate election of a new pope (Martin V., elected on the 1 rth of November): It has been supposed that the abandonment of the reformers by the English was due entirely to Hallam's death; but it is more likely that Henry V., foreseeing the possible need for a change of front, had given Hallam discretionary powers which the bishop's successors used with too little judgment. Hallam himself, who had the confidence of Sigismund and was generally respected for his straightforward independence, might have achieved a better result. Hallam was buried in the cathedral at Constance, where his tomb near the high altar is marked by a brass of English workmanship. For the acts of the council of Constance see H. von der Hardt's Cora-ilium Constantiense, and H. Finke's Acta concilii Constanciensis. For a modern account see-Mandell Creighton's History of the Papacy (6 vols., London, 1897). (C. L. K.)
End of Article: ROBERT HALLAM (d. 1417)
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