A Brill Calendar: January 14
The Arminian Protest
Few battles between two Professors at Leyden University were as embittered as that between the theologians Franciscus Gomarus and Jacobus Arminius.
Gomarus was appointed in 1594; studies in Oxford, Cambridge and Heidelberg qualified him for that prestigious position. When Leyden curates offered Arminius, alumnus from Geneva, a Faculty position as well in 1603 – one that had been fiercely opposed by Gomarus - the ingredients for a fatal clash were present: the bone of contention being Calvinist doctrine of predestination, and Mankind’s potential to influence decisions of its Creator.
The matter – with grave political impact outside Academia - kept festering for years; then, after a public debate lasting ten full, dramatic and consecutive days, Arminius, (who opted for views less inflexible that his opponent), suddenly died. Some three months later, on January 14 1610, Arminians filed with the Estates-General, the highest Public Body in the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, a ‘Remonstration’; protesting against recent, and not so recent, calumny and abuse. When Gomarus’s adherents followed their example in 1611 with a ‘Contra-Reformation’, the conflict had already become institutionalized.
Eventually, the Stadholder himself, Maurits, Prince of Orange, military leader of the Republic, embraced the Gomarist cause; for rather worldly reasons. It led to reprisal, discharge and banishment of leading members of the ‘Remonstrant Brotherhood’, a new Protestant community that will celebrate in 2010 AD a very special year world-wide.
And the University? Leyden replaced Arminius - very controversially - by Conradus Vorstius, who was even more bitterly opposed to the tenets of Gomarus; who abandoned his Chair and ended up a Professor in Groningen, dying there after a tenure of 23 years.