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The Role of the Venetian Oligarchy in the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Enlightenment and the Thirty Years' War -- Preface

by Lyndon LaRouche

Printed in The American Almanac, March 22, 1993.

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Preface -- by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
January 9, 1993


The evaluation of the respective roles of the Protestant and Catholic churches, in respect to the sixteenth-century schisms between Reformation and Counter Reformation, requires a few points of emphasis for clarity.

In point of fact, as we know in the case of the English established church, currents within that English established church did retain crucial, traditional elements of Christian belief, despite the fact that the schism of Henry VIII was completely a Venetian-orchestrated event, a playing upon the susceptibilities of a monarch who was, to all intents and purposes, clinically insane. [fn1]

The cases of the Calvinists and Lutherans is more complex. Let us turn to the case of Luther first, and then consider the Counter Reformation and the Council of Trent itself.

Essentially, whatever Luther may have believed otherwise, and whatever the Lutheran Church may have been otherwise, the fact is, that the essential issue of controversy over Lutheran doctrine involved in the schism, places Luther not only in mere opposition to Catholicism, but in opposition to the most fundamental principle of Christianity: such that, if one were to assume Luther's stated doctrine to be the true belief of Luther himself, rather than probably a factional sophistry, one would have to conclude that Luther were not a Christian. It is not a question of division of opinion, or a division of anything, in the ordinary sense; but Luther's constructed rationalization of his schismatic act is, in its ostensible form, a rejection of Christianity in its entirety.

The issue is as follows:

The essence of Christianity, and of Mosaic Judaism, is identified historically first, by Philo Judaeus in his commentary on the first chapter of Genesis, that is, the account of Creation given by Moses. The point to be emphasized, is that man is defined in the image of God: not by virtue of any outward physical attributes of form, but rather by the fact that man, unlike all animals, contains that spark of creativity which places the human species apart from and above the animals in general. That spark is the crucial thing.

This view of man, which is emphasized for Christianity by God become man in the form of Christ, defines all human beings as potentially reconciled with God, because of that within them, that divine spark, which is in the image of God.

Thus, the notion of any form of elect, or a preselection by grace, except by a merit of choice by the individual who is self-selected, is an abomination. It is an abomination, because it denies the fundamental principle of Mosaic Judaism and Christianity, the species of individual man in the image of God, by virtue of man's creative mental powers.

By creative mental powers, we mean to include the notions of agapë or caritas; formally, we signify those powers by which man changes human society's behavior through progress in scientific and technological progress. This does not mean that this exercise of creative powers is limited to that. It means, that without that included manifestation, the agapic function of the creative powers of man are certainly not realized, the self-development of man in the image of God, is not realized.

This is the point on which all these issues hang. It is a fact--forget the formalities of other kinds of argument--that, if one believes in an Aristotelian deductive system, then, for that person, as Philo indicated, God does not exist, and certainly God in the image of man does not exist. Thus, we have all the problems concerning the Averroists and the Aristotelians and the definition of the soul, including, of course, the case of the influential Pompanazzi.

All of this hangs on the one point: That man is in the image of God by virtue of his agapic creative powers, and not by virtue of anything else.

The Myth of Protestantism

The popular falsehood, the myth which is pushed by the British Fabians and similar types, is that the rise of Protestantism was based and impelled by the rise of the modern nation-state. That myth is pure bunk, despite the fact that it is heavily documented to be bunk.

The concept of the modern nation-state was first defined as we have defined it many times, in terms of the work of Dante Alighieri, particularly in the issues pertaining to De Monarchia. The resolution of the idea of the state, was clarified as the doctrine by Nicolaus of Cusa, over the course of his work, initially in his major work of 1431, Concordantia Catholica which is written in the conciliar context, but nonetheless the argument there bears out, even though Cusa himself modified his sense of what the application of that meant in the process of writing his Concordantia.

So the idea of the modern nation-state, under a Concordantia Catholica of sovereign nation-states, was established by the Catholic Church in the middle of the fifteenth century. Thus, it is absolutely absurd to suggest that later, in the early part to middle of the sixteenth century, that this issue became the crux of division between the Catholic Church and the emerging nation-states. That sophist explanation of Protestantism is absolute nonsense, and there is obviously no ground on which to perpetuate that sophist explanation of Protestantism.

The problem is essentially the problem of Venice, as Webster Tarpley has documented below. The essential evidence, as opposed to the apologetics written from the North later on, is, that, as Paolo Sarpi's crowd emphasizes, that the Protestant formations in the North, were the basis for the casa nuovi, the group which became the modern imperialist group, the modern British Anglo-Dutch imperialist group. And, that the other part of the Venetian oligarchical faction remained with its emphasis upon penetrating and corrupting the Catholic South.

Here is where the problem has arisen, the point which Webster Tarpley addresses.

There is no doubt, except to people who refuse to face facts, that the Protestant political formation in the North, was essentially, relative to Christianity, something rather evil, which moved men and women in society generally away from Christianity. This schism was the political basis for the emergence of the Enlightenment, which was the evil which threatened to destroy Europe from the inside.

But the other side of the matter, the casa vecchi, the Southern part of the usurious oligarchy, which professed to ally itself with the Counter Reformation, was essentially just as evil as that which went North--in the sense that what it did, is to focus on destroying the reconstituted church of the middle of the fifteenth century. As Webster Tarpley identifies the fact, the Reformation and Counter Reformation were both an attempt to eradicate the church associated with Nicolaus of Cusa and to eradicate Cusa's influence specifically. [fn2]

The unfortunate thing has been that (putative) modern historians and other related commentators, have written on this subject from the standpoint of adhering to and apologizing for one faction or the other, Reformation or Counter Reformation as defined in the simplest terms, and have refused to see the matter from a truthful standpoint, from the standpoint of imago viva Dei and its implications, and to see it from the practical historical standpoint of the fifteenth-century reemergence of the church, in the context of the Council of Florence from the fourteenth-century Dark Age.

The Crucial Issue

Now, focus more on the crucial issue. The key to understanding the religious schisms and wars of sixteenth-century Europe, is irreconcilable opposition by Venice and Genoa's usurers to that principled conception of imago Dei which is the common feature of Philo's Mosaic Judaism and of Christianity. On account of this central issue, the oligarchy of usury-practicing families hated that Christian church which this oligarchy sought then, and still today, to divide and conquer. These usurers and slave-traders hated most fiercely the 1439-1440 Council of Florence, which had reunited the church temporarily. They hated in the highest degree that Cardinal Nicolaus of Cusa who had played a crucial role in bringing about that reunification, and who was, not incidentally, also the Platonist founder of modern physical science. The reason for this usurer's murderous hatred against the church and against Cusa is elementary.

The principle of imago Dei, as Cusa defined it, or, Philo nearly 1,500 years earlier, signifies that there exists but one, indivisible human race, such that every individual member of humanity is born with an innate distinction which sets all mankind apart from, and above the beasts. This quality, which casts the individual person in the image of God, is that divine spark of potential for developing the agapic power of true creative reason. This creativity, and nothing else, is the image of God in man.

This agapic creative reason is the power to create illustrated by the initial discovery, or fresh rediscovery of a valid, axiomatic-like principle of nature. This point is treated at length in sundry published locations, and so need not be redeveloped here. It is that quality of creative reason which renders each human life sacred, and defines all persons as born in the image of God, as imago viva Dei.

This principle of the first Mosaic Book of Genesis defines as a most horrid abomination the holding of any person in chattel slavery or any like condition of oppression. For related reasons, the practice of usury is among the most monstrous of all crimes against humanity. Venice's ruling oligarchy owed the basis for its wealth and international power chiefly to usury, but also to Venice's leading position in the Mediterranean slave-trade. Hence, the usury-practicing oligarchy, then, or, now, like the evil Confederacy of President Lincoln's adversaries, continues to be the mortal enemy of Christianity.

In Mediterranean history, since the time of Plato, Plato's deadly adversary Aristotle has been used as the leading apologist for slavery and usury, and as the official philosopher of those who denied the existence and free choice of the individual human soul. The importance of Aristotle in service to the enemies of Mosaic Judaism and Christianity is located in Aristotle's deductive system of formal argument. In Aristotle's essentially nominalist system of deductive sophistries, the individual soul cannot exist except as something arbitrary deus ex machina. Aristotle's formalist method stultifies science, and eliminates the notion of imago Dei. For such and related reasons, the usurious oligarchy has adopted Aristotle as its official court philosopher.

The notion that God chooses arbitrarily to bestow the grace of election (of those to be saved) upon some members of society, is the most notable way in which these Venetian-sponsored sectarians rejected the principle of imago Dei, and allowed usury and chattel slavery in their system.

The schismatic quarrel of the sixteenth century is a reflection of about 2,600 years of European civilization to date, a continuation of the conflict between the evil, oligarchical model of slave society, Lycurgus's Sparta, and the contrasting overthrow of usury by the great Solon of Athens. Thus, are the issues of Christianity and law of nations joined still today. If the person is imago Dei, then the welfare and creative self-development of all persons, and of all family households which give birth and nurture to new persons, are the standard of performance by which nations and laws as well as churches are to be judged.


  1. In fact, there are strong indications, that the entire family was clinically insane. I'm not suggesting any necessary hereditary reason for this, it probably was simply that they were all raised in the same, continuing, extended family household, which probably was not good for their mental health. Return to text
  2. Writing in his 1540s Harmonice Mundi, the Venetian Francesco Giorgi (Szorzi) attacked Nicolaus of Cusa's De Docta Ignorantia as follows: ``Those who retreat from the direct knowledge of the universe will retreat into the Docta Ignorantia'' (as quoted in Francis A. Yates, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979). Return to text.

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The preceding article is a rough version of the article that appeared in The American Almanac. It is made available here with the permission of The New Federalist Newspaper. Any use of, or quotations from, this article must attribute them to The New Federalist, and The American Almanac.

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