Council Of (Concilium Tridentinum) Trent, the 19th oecumenical council, according to the Roman Catholic church. The first occasion for an oecumenical council in the 16th century was furnished by Luther, who on Nov. 28, 1518, appealed from the Dull of Leo X. to a general council, and was supported by the Protestant princes. The Catholic sovereigns also desired that a council should be convened.
Three popes, Leo X., Adrian VI., and Clement VII., died before the demands of the Germans were complied with. At length Paul III., after failing in attempts (1536-'8) to convene a council at Mantua, and next at Vicenza, convoked it for Nov. 1, 1542, to assemble at Trent; but on account of the war between the emperor Charles V. and Francis I. of France he again put off the day of opening to March 15, 1545, and the actual opening did not take place until Dec. 13, 1545. The objects of the council were to effect a reformation of the church, to define more explicitly the impugned doctrines of the church, and, if possible, to induce the Protestants to return to the old faith. At the second session (Jan. 7, 1546) the council fixed the mode of transacting business. The discussions and deliberations were to take place in private congregations; subsequently general congregations were to draft the resolutions, which finally were to be promulgated in public sessions as decrees. In the third session (Feb. 4) the Nicene creed was read and declared to be the basis of the further proceedings.
In the fourth session (April 8) tradition was declared to be equally with the Bible a rule of faith; the Apocrypha of the Old Testament were included in the Biblical canon; the Vulgate was proclaimed to be the authentic version of the Bible, and the church its only legitimate interpreter. In the three following sessions (June 17, 1546; Jan. 13 and March 3, 1547), the Catholic doctrines of original sin, justification, and the sacraments were defined, and an anathema pronounced upon all who rejected these doctrines. In the eighth session (March 11), 38 of the 56 bishops present, together with the papal legate, determined, on the ground of being exposed at Trent to the plague, to adjourn to Bologna, notwithstanding the decided opposition of the emperor, at whose request 18 German and Spanish bishops remained at Trent. At Bologna, where 6 archbishops, 32 bishops, and 4 generals of religious orders were present, the 9th and 10th sessions were held (April 21 and June 2); but, at the express order of the pope, who had some apprehensions of a schism, no decrees were promulgated, except decrees of prorogation.
As Charles V. could not be prevailed upon to recognize the council of Bologna, the council was indefinitely prorogued by a bull of Pope Paul III., dated Sept. 17, 1549. The pope died in November, 1549, and on May 1, 1551, the council was reopened at Trent by order of Julius III. France protested against the continuation, and all the French bishops and theologians withdrew. In the succeeding transactions the Jesuits Laynez and Salmeron, who were sent to the council as papal theologians, took a leading part. There appeared also representatives from the Protestant princes of Wurtemberg and Brandenburg, and even Melanchthon was summoned there by order of the elector Maurice of Saxony; but it was found impossible to effect a reunion, and soon the outbreak of a new war of the Protestant princes against the emperor caused the assembled fathers (April 28, 1552) to suspend their deliberations. During this period, extending from the 11th to the 16th session, the doctrines of the eucharist, confession, and extreme unction, and two reformatory decrees on the jurisdiction of the bishops, were promulgated.
Paul IV. was anxious to assemble the council at Rome, but Pius IV. consented to its reopening at Trent, which took place on Jan. 18, 1562, through the cardinal legate Prince Ercole Gonzaga of Mantua. The representatives of Charles IX. of France and the emperor Ferdinand I. wished to conciliate the Protestants by granting the cup to the laity, and the duke of Bavaria demanded the abolition of celibacy. The former question was referred to the pope; the latter was unanimously rejected. On Nov. 13 the cardinal of Lorraine arrived, with 14 bishops, 3 abbots, and 18 theologians from France, and presented in the name of his nation 34 reformatory articles, but subsequently abandoned their advocacy. On the question whether episcopal jurisdiction proceeds immediately from Christ, or mediately only and through the pope, no decree was arrived at; it being simply declared that " bishops are established by the Holy Ghost, to rule the church of God." Decrees were adopted ordering an index of prohibited books to be made, and defining the doctrines of the mass, ordination, the hierarchy, marriage, celibacy, purgatory, the veneration of saints, relics, and images, monastic vows, indulgences, and fasting and abstinence.
Several "reformatory" decrees were also passed, the most important of which enjoined the establishment of theological seminaries. The close of the council was hastened by a serious sickness of the pope, and his fear that his death might lead to a schism. It took place on Dec. 4,1563, at its 25th public session. The decrees were signed by 255 members, consisting of 4 legates, 2 other cardinals, 3 patriarchs, 25 archbishops, 168 bishops, 39 representatives of absent bishops, 7 abbots, and 7 generals of religious orders. An authentic copy was also signed by the ambassadors of the secular governments, with the exception of the ambassador of Spain, who was without instruction, and the ambassador of France, who was absent. The decrees were confirmed by the pope, with the unanimous consent of the cardinals, in the consistory of Jan. 26, 1564; but the pope reserved to himself the right of explaining obscure or controverted points. The council was accepted unconditionally by most of the Italian states, by Portugal, Poland, and the German emperor; with a reservation of the royal prerogatives by Spain, Naples, and the Netherlands; withsome exceptions by Switzerland and Hungary; and only so far as respects doctrines by France. - The "Canons and Decrees " of the council were printed by Aldus Manutius (Rome, 1564). The "Catechism," an authorized summary of the faith drawn up by order of the council, appeared at Rome in 1566, and the collection of documents relating to its history was edited by Le Plat (7 vols. 4to, Louvain, 1781). The first complete history of the council was written by Paolo Sarpi (London, 1619; English translation by Brent, London, 1676), in a spirit of decided opposition to the papal court.
Against him wrote Cardinal Sforza-Pallavicino (2 vols., Rome, 1656-'7). A work on the discrepancies of both has been published by Dr. Brischar (2 vols., Tubingen, 1843). Mendham's "Memoirs of the Council of Trent" (London, 1834) contains extracts from 28 volumes of manuscripts collected in Italy by Lord Guilford. See also Waterworth's history of the council prefixed to his translation of its canons and decrees (London, 1848), and Etude historique sur le concile de Trente, by L. Maynier (part i., Paris, 1874). Important " Documents relating to the History of the Council of Trent" have been published from Austrian archives by Tickel (Vienna, 1872). The long expected publication of the original acts of the council, by Au-gustin Theiner, prefect of the Vatican council, took place in 1874 (Acta genuina Ss. Oecume-nici Concilii Tridentini, Agram); the work is believed to give, not the minutes of the council as they were taken down by the secretary, but a careful revision.