HISTORY of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH*
THE LAST POPES OF THE MIDDLE AGES. 1447–1521
§ 48. Literature and General Survey.
Works on the Entire Chapter.—Bullarium, ed. by Tomasetti, 5 vols., Turin, 1859 sq.—Mansi: Councils, XXXI., XXXII.—Muratori: Rerum ital. scriptores. Gives Lives of the popes.—Stefano Infessura: Diario della città di Roma, ed. by O. Tommasini, Rome, 1890. Extends to 1494, and is the journal of an eye-witness. Also in Muratori.—Joh. Burchard: Diarium sive rerum urbanarum commentarii, 1483–1506, ed. by L. Thuasne, 3 vols., Paris, 1883–1885. Also in Muratori.—B. Platina, b. 1421 in Cremona, d. as superintendent of the Vatican libr., 1481: Lives of the Popes to the Death of Paul II., 1st Lat. ed., Venice, 1479, Engl. trans. by W. Benham in Anc. and Mod. Libr. of Theol. No date.—Sigismondo Dei Conti da Foligno: Le storie de suoi tempi 1475–1510, 2 vols., Rome, 1883. Lat. and Ital. texts in parallel columns.—Pastor: Ungedruckte Akten zur Gesch. der Päpste, vol. I., 1376–1464, Freiburg, 1904.—Ranke: Hist. of the Popes.—A. von Reumont: Gesch. d. Stadt Rom., vol. III., Berlin, 1870.—*Mandell Creighton, bp. of London: Hist. of the Papacy during the Period of the Reformation, II. 235-IV., London, 1887.—*Gregorovius: Hist. of the City of Rome, Engl. trans., VII., VIII.—*L. Pastor, R. Cath. Prof. at Innsbruck: Gesch. der Päpste im Zeitalter der Renaissance, 4 vols., Freiburg, 1886–1906, 4th ed., 1901–1906, Engl. trans. F. I. Ambrosius, etc., 8 vols., 1908.—Wattenbach: Gesch. des röm. Papstthums, 2d ed., Berlin, 1876, pp. 284–300.—Hefele-Hergenröther: Conciliengeschichte, VIII. Hergenröther’s continuation of Hefele’s work falls far below the previous vols. by Hefele’s own hand as rev. by Knöpfler.—The Ch. Histt. of Hergenröther-Kirsch, Hefele, Funk, Karl Müller.—H. Thurston: The Holy Year of Jubilee. An Account of the Hist. and Ceremonial of the Rom. Jubilee, London, 1900.—Pertinent artt. in Wetzer-Welte and Herzog. The Histt. of the Renaissance of Burckhardt and Symonds.—For fuller lit., see the extensive lists prefixed to Pastor’s first three vols. and for a judicious estimate of the contemporary writers, see Creighton at the close of his vols.
Note. – The works of Creighton, Gregorovius and Pastor are very full. It is doubtful whether any period of history has been treated so thoroughly and satisfactorily by three contemporary historians. Pastor and Gregorovius have used new documents discovered by themselves in the archives of Mantua, Milan, Modena, Florence, the Vatican, etc. Pastor’s notes are vols. of erudite investigation. Creighton is judicial but inclined to be too moderate in his estimate of the vices of the popes, and in details not always reliable. Gregorovius’ narration is searching and brilliant. He is unsparing in his reprobation of the dissoluteness of Roman society and backs his statements with authorities. Pastor’s masterly and graphic treatment is the most extensive work on the period. Although written with ultramontane prepossessions, it is often unsparing when it deals with the corruption of popes and cardinals, especially Alexander VI., who has never been set forth in darker colors since the 16th century than on its pages.
§ 49. Nicholas V.—Lives by Platina and in Muratori, especially Manetti.—Infessura: pp. 46–59.—Gibbon: Hist. of Rome, ch. LXVIII. For the Fall of Constantinople.—Gregorovius: VII. 101–160.—Creighton: II. 273–365.—Pastor: I. 351–774.—Geo. Findlay: Hist. of Greece to 1864, 7 vols., Oxford, 1877, vols. IV., V.—Edw. Pears: The Destruction of the German Empire and the Story of the Capture of Constantinople by the Turks, London, 1903, pp. 476.
§ 50. Pius II.—Opera omnia, Basel, 1551, 1571, 1589.—Opera inedita, by I. Cugnoni, Rome, 1883.—His Commentaries, Pii pontif. max. commentarii rerum memorabilium quae temporibus suis contigerunt, with the continuation of Cardinal Ammanati, Frankfurt, 1614. Last ed. Rome, 1894.—Epistolae, Cologne, 1478, and often. Also in opera, Basel, 1551. A. Weiss: Aeneas Sylvius als Papst Pius II. Rede mit 149 bisher ungedruckten Briefen, Graz, 1897.—Eine Rede d. Enea Silvio vor d. C. zu Basel, ed. J. Haller in Quellen u. Forschungen aus ital. Archiven, etc., Rome, 1900, III. 82–102.—Pastor: II. 714–747 gives a number of Pius’ letters before unpubl.—Orationes polit. et eccles. by Mansi, 3 vols., Lucae, 1755–1759.—Historia Frid. III. Best ed. by Kollar, Vienna, 1762, Germ. trans. by Ilgen, 2 vols., in Geschichtschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit., Leipzig, 1889 sq.—Addresses at the Congress of Mantua and the bulls Execrabilis and In minoribus in Mansi: Concil., XXXII., 191–267.—For full list of edd. of Pius’ Works, see Potthast, I. 19–25.—Platina: Lives of the Popes.—Antonius Campanus: Vita Pii II, in Muratori, Scripp., III. 2, pp. 969–992.—G. Voigt: Enea Silvio de’ Piccolomini als Papst Pius II. und sein Zeitalter, 3 vols., Berlin, 1856–1863.—K. Hase: Aen. Syl. Piccolomini, in Rosenvorlesungen, pp. 56–88, Leipzig, 1880.—A. Brockhaus: Gregor von Heimburg, Leipzig, 1861.—K. Menzel: Diether von Isenberg, als Bischof von Mainz, 1459–1463, Erlangen, 1868.—Gregorovius: VII. 160–218.—Burckhardt.—Creighton: II. 365–500.—Pastor: II. 1–293. Art. Pius II. by Benrath in Herzog, XV. 422–435.
§ 51. Paul II.—Lives by Platina, Gaspar Veronensis, and M. Canensius of Viterbo, both in Muratori, new ed., 1904, III., XVI., p. 3 sqq., with Preface, pp. i-xlvi.—A. Patritius: Descriptio adventus Friderici III. ad Paulum II., Muratori, XXIII. 205–215.—Ammanati’s Continuation of Pius lI.’s Commentaries, Frankfurt ed., 1614. Gaspar Veronensis gives a panegyric of the cardinals and Paul’s relatives, and stops before really taking up Paul’s biography. Platina, from personal pique, disparaged Paul II. Canensius’ Life is in answer to Platina, and the most important biography.—Gregorovius: VII.—Creighton: III.—Pastor: II.
§§ 52, 53. Sixtus IV., Innocent VIII.—Infessura, pp. 75–283.—Burchard, in Thuasne’s ed., vol. I.—J. Gherardi da Volterra: Diario Romano, 1479–1484, in Muratori, Scripp., XXIII. 3, also the ed. of 1904.—Platina in Muratori, III., p. 1053, etc. (accepted by Pastor as genuine and with some question by Creighton).—Sigismondo dei Conti da Foligno: vol. I. Infessura is severe on Sixtus IV. and Innocent VIII. Volterra, who received an office from Sixtus, does not pronounce a formal judgment. Sigismondo, who was advanced by Sixtus, is partial to him.—A. Thuasne: Djem, Sultan, fils de Mohammed II. d’après les documents originaux en grande partie inédits, Paris, 1892.—Gregorovius: VII. 241–340.—Pastor: II. 451-III. 284.—Creighton: III. 56–156.—W. Roscoe: Life of Lorenzo the Magnificent, 2 vols., Liverpool, 1795, 6th ed., London, 1825, etc.
§ 54. Alexander VI.—Bulls in Bullarium Rom.—The Regesta of Alex., filling 113 vols., in the Vatican, Nos. 772–884. After being hidden from view for three centuries, they were opened, 1888, by Leo XIII. to the inspection and use of Pastor.—See Pastor’s Preface in his Gesch. der Päpste, Infessura. Stops at Feb. 26, 1494.—Burchard: vols. II., III.—Sigismondo de’ Conti: Le storie, etc.—Gordon: Life of Alex. VI., London, 1728.—Abbé Ollivier: Le pape Alex. VI. et les Borgia, Paris, 1870.—V. Nemec: Papst Alex. VI., eine Rechtfertigung, Klagenfurt, 1879. Both attempts to rescue this pope from infamy.—Leonetti: Papa Aless. VI., 3 vols., Bologna, 1880.—M. Brosch: Alex. VI. u. seine Söhne, Vienna, 1889.—C. von Höfler: Don Rodrigo de Borgia und seine Söhne, Don Pedro Luis u. Don Juan, Vienna, 1889.—Höfler: D. Katastrophe des herzöglichen Hauses des Borgias von Gandia, Vienna, 1892.—Schubertsoldem: D. Borgias u. ihre Zeit, 1907.—Reumont: Gesch. der Stadt Rom. Also art. Alex. VI. in Wetzer-Welte, I. 483–491.—H. F. Delaborde: L’expédition de Chas. VIII. en Italie, Paris, 1888.—Ranke: Hist. of the Popes.—Roscoe: Life of Lorenzo.—Gregorovius: Hist. of City of Rome, vol. VII. Also Lucrezia Borgia, 3d ed., Stuttgart, 1875. Engl. trans. by J. L. Garner, 2 vols., New York, 1903.—Creighton: III.—Pastor: III.—Hergenröther-Kirsch: III. 982–988.—* P. Villari: Machiavelli and his times, Engl. trans., 4 vols., London, 1878–1883.—Burckhardt and Symonds on the Renaissance.—E. G. Bourne: Demarcation Line Of Alex. Vi. In Essays In Hist. Criticism.—Lord Acton: The Borgias and their Latest Historian, in North Brit. Rev., 1871, pp. 351–367.
§ 55. Julius II. Bullarium IV.—Burchard: Diarium to May, 1506.—Sigismondo: vol. II.—Paris de Grassis, master of ceremonies at the Vatican, 1504 sqq.: Diarium from May 12, 1504, ed. by L. Frati, Bologna, 1886, and Döllinger in Beitäge zur pol. Kirchl. u. Culturgesch. d. letzen 6 Jahrh., 3 vols., Vienna, 1863–1882, III. 363–433.—A. Giustinian, Venetian ambassador: Dispacci, Despatches, 1502–1505, ed. by Villari, 3 vols., Florence, 1876, and by Rawdon Browning in Calendar of State Papers, London, 1864 sq.—Fr. Vettori: Sommario delta storia d’Italia 1511–1527, ed. by Reumont in Arch. Stor. Itat., Append. B., pp. 261–387.—Dusmenil: Hist. de Jules II., Paris, 1873.—* M. Brosch: Papst Julius II. und die Gründung des Kirchenstaats, Gotha, 1878.—P. Lehmann: D. pisaner Konzit vom Jahre, 1511, Breslau, 1874.—Hefele-Hergenröther: VIII. 392–592.—Benrath: Art. Julius II., in Herzog, IX. 621–625.—Villari: Machiavelli.—Ranke: I. 36–59.—Reumont: III., Pt. 2, pp. 1–49. Gregorovius: VIII.—Creighton: IV. 54–176.—Pastor: III.
§ 56. Leo X.—Regesta to Oct. 16, 1515, ed. by Hergenröther, 8 vols., Rome, 1884–1891.—Mansi: XXXII. 649–1001.—Paris de Grassis, as above, and ed. by Armellini: Il diario de Leone X., Rome, 1884. Vettori: Sommario.—M. Sanuto, Venetian ambassador: Diarii, I.-XV., Venice, 1879 sqq.—*Paulus Jovius, b. 1483, acquainted with Leo: De Vita Leonis, Florence, 1549. The only biog. till Fabroni’s Life, 1797.—* L. Landucci: Diario Fiorentino 1450–1516, continued to 1542, ed. by Badia, Florence, 1883.—*W. Roscoe: Life and Pontificate of Leo X., 4 vols., Liverpool, 1805, 6th ed. rev. by his son, London, 1853. The book took high rank, and its value continues. Apologetic for Leo, whom the author considers the greatest pope of modern times. Put on the Index by Leo XII., d. 1829. A Germ. trans. by Glaser and Henke, with valuable notes, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1806–1808. Ital. trans. by Count L. Bossi, Milan, 1816 sq.—E. Muntz: Raphael, His Life, Work, and Times, Engl. trans., W. Armstrong, London, 1896.—E. Armstrong: Lor. de’ Medici, New York, 1896.—H. M. Vaughan: The Medici Popes (Leo X. and Clement VII.), London, 1908. Hefele-Hergenröther: VIII. 592–855.—Reumont: III. Pt. 2, pp. 49–146. Villari: Machiavelli.—Creighton: IV.—Gregorovius: VIII.—Pastor: IV.—Köstlin: Life of Luther, I. 204–525.—*A. Schulte: Die Fugger in Rom. 1495–1523, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1904.—Burckhardt.—Symonds.
Popes.—Nicolas V., 1447–1455; Calixtus III., 1455–1458; Pius II., 1458–1464; Paul II., 1464–1471; Sixtus IV., 1471–1484; Innocent VIII., 1484–1492; Alexander VI., 1492–1503; Pius III., 1503; Julius II., 1503–1513; Leo X., 1513–1521.
The period of the Reformatory councils, closing with the Basel-Ferrara synod, was followed by a period notable in the history of the papacy, the period of the Renaissance popes. These pontiffs of the last years of the Middle Ages were men famous alike for their intellectual endowments, the prostitution of their office to personal aggrandizement and pleasure and the lustre they gave to Rome by their patronage of letters and the fine arts. The decree of the Council of Constance, asserting the supreme authority of oecumenical councils, treated as a dead letter by Eugenius IV., was definitely set aside by Pius II. in a bull forbidding appeals from papal decisions and affirming finality for the pope’s authority. For 70 years no general assembly of the Church was called.
The ten pontiffs who sat on the pontifical throne, 1450–1517, represented in their origin the extremes of fortune, from the occupation of the fisherman, as in the case of Sixtus IV., to the refinement of the most splendid aristocracy of the age, as in the case of Leo X. of the family of the Medici. In proportion as they embellished Rome and the Vatican with the treasures of art, did they seem to withhold themselves from that sincere religious devotion which would naturally be regarded as a prime characteristic of one claiming to be the chief pastor of the Christian Church on earth. No great principle of administration occupied their minds. No conspicuous movement of pious activity received their sanction, unless the proposed crusade to reconquer Constantinople be accounted such, but into that purpose papal ambition entered more freely than devotion to the interests of religion.
This period was the flourishing age of nepotism in the Vatican. The bestowment of papal favors by the pontiffs upon their nephews and other relatives dates as a recognized practice from Boniface VIII. In vain did papal conclaves, following the decree of Constance, adopt protocols, making the age of 30 the lowest limit for appointment to the sacred college, and putting a check on papal favoritism. Ignoring the instincts of modesty and the impulse of religion, the popes bestowed the red hat upon their young nephews and grandnephews and upon the sons of princes, in spite of their utter disqualification both on the ground of intelligence and of morals. The Vatican was beset by relatives of the pontiffs, hungry for the honors and the emoluments of office. Here are some of those who were made cardinals before they were 30: Calixtus III. appointed his nephews, Juan and Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI.), the latter 25, and the little son of the king of Portugal; Pius II., his nephew at 23, and Francis Gonzaga at 17; Sixtus IV., John of Aragon at 14, his nephews, Peter and Julian Rovere, at 25 and 28, and his grandnephew, Rafaelle Riario, at 17; Innocent VIII., John Sclafenatus at 23, Giovanni de’ Medici at 13; Alexander VI., in 1493, Hippolito of Este at 15, whom Sixtus had made archbishop of Strigonia at 8, his son, Caesar Borgia, at 18, Alexander Farnese (Paul III.), brother of the pope’s mistress, at 25, and Frederick Casimir, son of the king of Poland, at 19; Leo X., in 1513, his nephew, Innocent Cibo, at 21, and his cousin, the illegitimate Julius de’ Medici, afterwards Clement VII., and in 1517 three more nephews, one of them the bastard son of his brother, also Alfonzo of Portugal at 7, and John of Loraine, son of the duke of Sicily, at 20. This is an imperfect list.721 Bishoprics, abbacies and other ecclesiastical appointments were heaped upon the papal children, nephews and other favorites. The cases in which the red hat was conferred for piety or learning were rare, while the houses of Mantua, Ferrara and Modena, the Medici of Florence, the Sforza of Milan, the Colonna and the Orsini had easy access to the Apostolic camera.
The cardinals vied with kings in wealth and luxury, and their palaces were enriched with the most gorgeous furnishings and precious plate, and filled with servants. They set an example of profligacy which they carried into the Vatican itself. The illegitimate offspring of pontiffs were acknowledged without a blush, and the sons and daughters of the highest houses in Italy, France and Spain were sought in marriage for them by their indulgent fathers. The Vatican was given up to nuptial and other entertainments, even women of ill-repute being invited to banquets and obscene comedies performed in its chambers.
The prodigal expenditures of the papal household were maintained in part by the great sums, running into tens of thousands of ducats, which rich men were willing to pay for the cardinalate. When the funds of the Vatican ran low, loans were secured from the Fuggers and other banking houses and the sacred things of the Vatican put in pawn, even to the tiara itself. The amounts required by Alexander VI. for marriage dowries for his children, and by Leo X. for nephews, were enormous.
Popes, like Sixtus IV. and Alexander VI., had no scruple about involving Italy in internecine wars in order to compass the papal schemes either in the enlargement of papal domain or the enrichment of papal sons and nephews. Julius II. was a warrior and went to the battle-field in armor. No sovereign of his age was more unscrupulous in resorting to double dealing in his diplomacy than was Leo X. To reach the objects of its ambition, the holy see was ready even to form alliances with the sultan. The popes, so Döllinger says, from Paul II. to Leo X., did the most it was possible to do to cover the papacy with shame and disgrace and to involve Italy in the horrors of endless wars.722 The Judas-like betrayal of Christ in the highest seat of Christendom, the gayeties, scandals and crimes of popes as they pass before the reader in the diaries of Infessura, Burchard and de Grassis and the despatches of the ambassadors of Venice, Mantua and other Italian states, and as repeated by Creighton, Pastor and Gregorovius, make this period one of the most dramatic in human annals. The personal element furnished scene after scene of consuming interest. It seems to the student as if history were approaching some great climax.
Three events of permanent importance for the general history of mankind also occurred in this age, the overthrow of the Byzantine empire, 1453, the discovery of the Western world, 1492, and the invention of printing. It closed with a general council, the Fifth Lateran, which adjourned only a few months before the Reformer in the North shook the papal fabric to its base and opened the door of the modern age.
§ 49. Nicolas V. 1447–1455.
Nicolas V., 1447–1455, the successor of Bugenius IV., was ruled by the spirit of the new literary culture, the Renaissance, and was the first Maecenas in a line of popes like-minded. Following his example, his successors were for a century among the foremost patrons of art and letters in Europe. What Gregory VII. was to the system of the papal theocracy, that Nicolas was to the artistic revival in Rome. Under his rule, the eternal city witnessed the substantial beginnings of that transformation, in which it passed from a spectacle of ruins and desertion to a capital adorned with works of art and architectural construction. He himself repaired and beautified the Vatican and St. Peter’s, laid the foundation of the Vatican library and called scholars and artists to his court.723
Thomas Parentucelli, born 1397, the son of a physician of Sarzana, owed nothing of his distinction to the position of his family. His father was poor, and the son was little of stature, with disproportionately short legs. What he lacked, however, in bodily parts, he made up in intellectual endowments, tact and courtesies of manner. His education at Bologna being completed, his ecclesiastical preferment was rapid. In 1444, he was made archbishop of Bologna and, on his return from Germany as papal legate, 1446, he was honored with the red hat. Four months later he was elevated to the papal throne, and according to Aeneas Sylvius, whose words about the eminent men of his day always have a diplomatic flavor, Thomas was so popular that there was no one who did not approve his election.
To Nicolas was given the notable distinction of witnessing the complete reunion of Western Christendom. By the abdication of Felix V., whom he treated with discreet and liberal generosity, and by Germany’s abandonment of its attitude of neutrality, he could look back upon papal schism and divided obediences as matters of the past.
The Jubilee Year, celebrated in 1450, was adapted to bind the European nations closely to Rome, and to stir up anew the fires of devotion which had languished during the ecclesiastical disputes of nearly a century.724 So vast were the throngs of pilgrims that the contemporary, Platina, felt justified in asserting that such multitudes had never been seen in the holy city before. According to Aeneas, 40,000 went daily from church to church. The handkerchief of St. Veronica,—lo sudario,—bearing the outline of the Lord’s face, was exhibited every Sabbath, and the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul every Saturday. The large sums of money which the pilgrims left, Nicolas knew well how to use in carrying out his plans for beautifying the churches and streets of the city.
The calamity, which occurred on the bridge of St. Angelo, and cast a temporary gloom over the festivities of the holy year, is noticed by all the contemporary writers. The mule belonging to Peter Barbus, cardinal of St. Mark’s, was crushed to death, so dense were the crowds, and in the excitement two hundred persons or more were trodden down or drowned by being pushed or throwing themselves into the Tiber. To prevent a repetition of the disaster, the pope had several buildings obstructing the passage to the bridge pulled down.725
In the administration of the properties of the holy see, Nicolas was discreet and successful. He confirmed the papal rule over the State of the Church, regained Bolsena and the castle of Spoleto, and secured the submission of Bologna, to which he sent Bessarion as papal legate. The conspiracy of Stephen Porcaro, who emulated the ambitions of Rienzo, was put down in 1453 and left the pope undisputed master of Rome. In his selection of cardinals he was wise, Nicolas of Cusa being included in the number. The appointment of his younger brother, Philip Calandrini, to the sacred college, aroused no unfavorable criticism.
Nicolas’ reign witnessed, in 1452, the last coronation in Rome of a German emperor, Frederick III. This monarch, who found in his councillor, Aeneas Sylvius, an enthusiastic biographer, but who, by the testimony of others, was weak and destitute of martial spirit and generous qualities, was the first of the Hapsburgs to receive the crown in the holy city, and held the imperial office longer than any other of the emperors before or after him. With his coronation the emperor combined the celebration of his nuptials to Leonora of Portugal.
Frederick’s journey to Italy and his sojourn in Rome offered to the pen of Aeneas a rare opportunity for graphic description, of which he was a consummate master. The meeting with the future empress, the welcome extended to his majesty, the festivities of the marriage and the coronation, the trappings of the soldiery, the blowing of the horns, the elegance of the vestments worn by the emperor and his visit to the artistic wonders of St. Peter’s,—these and other scenes the shrewd and facile Aeneas depicted. The Portuguese princess, whose journey from Lisbon occupied 104 days, disembarked at Leghorn, February, 1452, where she was met by Frederick, attended by a brilliant company of knights. After joining in gay entertainments at Siena, lasting four days, the party proceeded to Rome. Leonora, who was only sixteen, was praised by those who saw her for her rare beauty and charms of person. She was to become the mother of Maximilian and the ancestress of Charles V.726
On reaching the gates of the papal capital, Frederick was met by the cardinals, who offered him the felicitations of the head of Christendom, but also demanded from him the oath of allegiance, which was reluctantly promised. The ceremonies, which followed the emperor’s arrival, were such as to flatter his pride and at the same time to confirm the papal tenure of power in the city. Frederick was received by Nicolas on the steps of St. Peter’s, seated in an ivory chair, and surrounded by his cardinals, standing. The imperial visitor knelt and kissed the pontiff’s foot. On March 16, Nicolas crowned him with the iron crown of Lombardy and united the imperial pair in marriage. Leonora then went to her own palace, and Frederick to the Vatican as its guest. The reason for his lodging near the pope was that Nicolas might have opportunity for frequent communication with him or, as rumor went, to prevent the Romans approaching him under cover of darkness with petitions for the restoration of their liberties.727 Three days later, March 19, the crown of the empire was placed upon Frederick’s head.728 With his consort he then received the elements from the pope’s hand. The following week Frederick proceeded to Naples.729
Scarcely in any pontificate has so notable and long-forecasted an event occurred as the fall of Constantinople into the hands of the Turks, which took place May 29, 1453. The last of the Constantines perished in the siege, fighting bravely at the gate of St. Romanos. The church of Justinian, St. Sophia, was turned into a mosque, and a cross, surmounted with a janissary’s cap, was carried through the streets, while the soldiers shouted, "This is the Christian’s God." This historic catastrophe would have been regarded in Western Europe as appalling, if it had not been expected. The steady advance of the Turks and their unspeakable atrocities had kept the Greek empire in alarm for centuries. Three hundred years before, Latin Christendom had been taught to expect defeats at the hands of the Mohammedans in the taking of Edessa, 1145, and the fatal battle of Hattin and the loss of Jerusalem, 1187.
In answer to the appeals of the Greeks, Nicolas despatched Isidore as legate to Constantinople with a guard of 200 troops, but, as a condition of helping the Eastern emperor, he insisted that the Ferrara articles of union be ratified in Constantinople. In a long communication, dated Oct. 11, 1451, the Roman pontiff declared that schisms had always been punished more severely than other evils. Korah, Dathan and Abiram, who attempted to divide the people of God, received a more bitter punishment than those who introduced idolatry. There could not be two heads to an empire or the Church. There is no salvation outside of the one Church. He was lost in the flood who was not housed in Noah’s ark. Whatever opinion it may have entertained of these claims, the Byzantine court was in too imminent danger to reject the papal condition, and in December, 1452, Isidore, surrounded by 300 priests, announced, in the church of St. Sophia, the union of the Greek and Latin communions. But even now the Greek people violently resented the union, and the most powerful man of the empire, Lucas Notaras, announced his preference for the turban to the tiara. The aid offered by Nicolas was at best small. The last week of April, 1453, ten papal galleys set sail with some ships from Naples, Venice and Genoa, but they were too late to render any assistance.730
The termination of the venerable and once imposing fabric on the Bosphorus by the Asiatic invader was the only fate possible for an empire whose rulers, boasting themselves the successors of Constantine, Theodosius and Justinian, Christian in name and most Christian by the standard of orthodox professions, had heaped their palaces full of pagan luxury and excess. The government, planted in the most imperial spot on the earth, had forfeited the right to exist by an insipid and nerveless reliance upon the traditions of the past. No elements of revival manifested themselves from within. Religious formulas had been substituted for devotion. Much as the Christian student may regret the loss of this last bulwark of Christianity in the East, he will be inclined to find in the disaster the judgment realized with which the seven churches of the Apocalypse were threatened which were not worthy. The problem which was forced upon Europe by the arrival of the Grand Turk, as contemporaries called Mohammed II., still awaits solution from wise diplomacy or force of arms or through the slow and silent movement of modern ideas of government and popular rights.
The disaster which overtook the Eastern empire, Nicolas V. felt would be regarded by after generations as a blot upon his pontificate, and others, like Aeneas Sylvius, shared this view.731
He issued a bull summoning the Christian nations to a crusade for the recovery of Constantinople, and stigmatized Mohammed II. as the dragon described in the Book of Revelation. Absolution was offered to those who would spend six months in the holy enterprise or maintain a representative for that length of time. Christendom was called upon to contribute a tenth. The cardinals were enjoined to do the same, and all the papal revenues accruing from larger and smaller benefices, from bishoprics, archbishoprics and convents, were promised for the undertaking.
Feeble was the response which Europe gave. The time of crusading enthusiasm was passed. The Turk was daring and to be dreaded. An assembly called by Frederick III., at Regensburg in the Spring of 1454, at which the emperor himself did not put in an appearance, listened to an eloquent appeal by Aeneas, but adjourned the subject to the diet to meet in Frankfurt in October. Again the emperor was not present, and the diet did nothing. Down to the era of the Reformation the crusade against the Turk remained one of the chief official concerns of the papacy.
If Nicolas died disappointed over his failure to influence the princes to undertake a campaign against the Turks, his fame abides as the intelligent and genial patron of letters and the arts. In this rôle he laid after generations under obligation to him as Innocent III., by his crusading armies, did not. He lies buried in St. Peter’s at the side of his predecessor, Eugenius IV.732
The next pontiff, the Spaniard, Calixtus III., 1455–1458, had two chief concerns, the dislodgment of the Turks from Constantinople and the advancement of the fortunes of the Borgia family, to which he belonged. Made cardinal by Eugenius IV., he was 77 years old when he was elected pope. From his day, the Borgias played a prominent part in Rome, their career culminating in the ambitions and scandals of Rodrigo Borgia, for 30 years cardinal and then pope under the name of Alexander VI.
Calixtus opened his pontificate by vowing "to Almighty God and the Holy Trinity, by wars, maledictions, interdicts, excommunications and in all other ways to punish the Turks."733 Legates were despatched to kindle the zeal of princes throughout Europe. Papal jewels were sold, and gold and silver clasps were torn from the books of the Vatican and turned into money. At a given hour daily the bells were rung in Rome that all might give themselves to prayer for the sacred war. But to the indifference of most of the princes was added active resistance on the part of France. Venice, always looking out for her own interests, made a treaty with the Turks. Frederick III. was incompetent. The weak fleet the pope was able to muster sailed forth from Ostia under Cardinal Serampo to empty victories. The gallant Hungarian, Hunyady, brought some hope by his brilliant feat in relieving Belgrade, July 14, 1456, but the rejoicing was reduced by the news of the gallant leader’s death. Scanderbeg, the Albanian, who a year later was appointed papal captain-general, was indeed a brave hero, but, unsupported by Western Europe, he was next to powerless.
Calixtus’ unblushing nepotism surpassed anything of the kind which had been known in the papal household before. Catalan adventurers pressed into Rome and stormed their papal fellow-countrymen with demands for office. Upon the three sons of two of his sisters, Juan of Milan, son of Catherine Borgia, and Pedro Luis and Rodrigo, sons of Isabella, he heaped favor after favor. Adopted by their uncle, Pedro and Rodrigo were the objects of his sleepless solicitude. Gregorovius has compared the members of the Borgia family to the Roman Claudii. By the endowment of nature they were vigorous and handsome, and by nature and practice, sensual, ambitious, and high-handed,—their coat of arms a bull. Under protest from the curia, Rodrigo and Juan of Milan were made cardinals, 1457, both the young men still in their twenties.
Their unsavory habits were already a byword in Rome. Rodrigo was soon promoted over the heads of the other members of the sacred college to the place of vice-chancellor, the most lucrative position within the papal gift. At the same time, the little son—figliolo — of the king of Portugal, as Infessura calls him, was given the red hat.
With astounding rapidity Pedro Luis, who remained a layman, was advanced to the highest positions in the state, and made governor of St. Angelo and duke of Spoleto, and put in possession of Terni, Narni, Todi and other papal fiefs.734 It was supposed that it was the fond uncle’s intention, at the death of Alfonso of Naples, to invest this nephew with the Neapolitan crown by setting aside Alfonso’s illegitimate son, Don Ferrante.
Calixtus’ death was the signal for the flight of the Spanish lobbyists, whose houses were looted by the indignant Romans. Discerning the coming storm, Pedro made the best bargain he could by selling S. Angelo to the cardinals for 20,000 ducats, and then took a hasty departure.
Like Honorius III., Calixtus might have died of a broken heart over his failure to arouse Europe to the effort of a crusade, if it had not been for this consuming concern for the fortunes and schemes of his relatives. From this time on, for more than half a century, the gift of dignities and revenues under papal control for personal considerations and to unworthy persons for money was an outstanding feature in the history of the popes.
§ 50. Aeneas Sylvius de’ Piccolomini, Pius II.
The next pontiff, Pius II., has a place among the successful men of history. Lacking high enthusiasms and lofty aims, he was constantly seeking his own interests and, through diplomatic shrewdness, came to be the most conspicuous figure of his time. He was ruled by expediency rather than principle. He never swam against the stream.735 When he found himself on the losing side, he was prompt in changing to the other.
Aeneas Sylvius de’ Piccolomini was born in 1405 at Corsignano, a village located on a bold spur of the hills near Siena. He was one of 18 children, and his family, which had been banished from Siena, was poor but of noble rank. At 18, the son began studying in the neighboring city, where he heard Bernardino preach. Later he learned Greek in Florence. It was a great opportunity when Cardinal Capranica took this young man with him as his secretary to Basel, 1431. Gregorovius has remarked that it was the golden age of secretaries, most of the Humanists serving in that capacity. Later, Aeneas went into the service of the bishop of Novaro, whom he accompanied to Rome. The bishop was imprisoned for the part he had taken in a conspiracy against Eugenius IV. The secretary escaped a like treatment by flight. He then served Cardinal Albergati, with whom he travelled to France. He also visited England and Scotland.736
Returning to Basel, Aeneas became one of the conspicuous personages in the council, was a member, and often acted as chairman of one of the four committees, the committee on faith, and was sent again and again on embassies to Strassburg, Frankfurt, Trent and other cities. The council also appointed him its chief abbreviator. In 1440 he decided in favor of the rump-synod, which continued to meet in Basel, and espoused the cause of Felix V., who made him his secretary. The same year he wrote the tract on general councils.737 Finding the cause of the anti-pope waning, he secured a place under Frederick III., and succeeded to the full in ingratiating himself in that monarch’s favor. His Latin epigrams and verses won for him the appointment of poet-laureate, and his diplomatic cleverness and versatility the highest place in the royal council. At first he joined with Schlick, the chancellor, in holding Frederick to a neutral attitude between Eugenius and the anti-pope, but then, turning apostate to the cause of neutrality, gracefully and unreservedly gave in his submission to the Roman pontiff. While on an embassy to Rome, 1445, he excused himself before Eugenius for his errors at Basel on the plea of lack of experience. He at once became useful to the pope, and a year later received the appointment of papal secretary. By his persuasion, Frederick transferred his obedience to Eugenius, which Aeneas was able to announce in person to the pope a few days before his death. From Nicolas V. he received the sees of Trieste, 1447, and Siena, 1450, and in 1456 promotion to the college of cardinals.
At the time of his election as pope, Aeneas was 53 years old. He had risen by tact and an accurate knowledge of men and European affairs. He was a thorough man of the world, and capable of grasping a situation in a glance. He had been profligate, and his love affairs were many. A son was born to him in Scotland, and another, by an Englishwoman, in Strassburg. In a letter to his father, asking him to adopt the second child, he described, without concealment and apparently without shame, the measures he took to seduce the mother. He spoke of wantonness as an old vice. He himself was no eunuch nor without passion. He could not claim to be wiser than Solomon nor holier than David. Aeneas also used his pen in writing tales of love adventures. His History of Frederick III. contains prurient details that would not be tolerated in a respectable author to-day. He was even ready to instruct youth in methods of self-indulgence, and wrote to Sigismund, the young duke of the Tyrol, neither to neglect literature nor to deny himself the blandishments of Venus.738 This advice was recalled to his face by the canonist George von Heimburg at the Congress of Mantua. The famous remark belongs to Aeneas that the celibacy of the clergy was at one time with good reason made subject of positive legislation, but the time had come when there was better reason for allowing priests to marry. He himself did not join the clerical order till 1446, when he was consecrated subdeacon. Before Pius’ election,739 the conclave bound the coming pope to prosecute the war against the Turk, to observe the rules of the Council of Constance about the sacred college and to consult its members before making new appointments to bishoprics and the greater abbeys. Nominations of cardinals were to be made to the camera, and their ratification to depend upon a majority of its votes. Each cardinal whose income did not amount to 4,000 florins was to receive 100 florins a month till the sum of 4,000 was reached. This solemn compact formed a precedent which the cardinals for more than half a century followed.
Aeneas’ constitution was already shattered. He was a great sufferer from the stone, the gout and a cough, and spent many months of his pontificate at Viterbo and other baths. His rule was not distinguished by any enduring measures. He conducted himself well, had the respect of the Romans, received the praise of contemporary biographers, and did all he could to further the measures for the expulsion of the Turks from Europe. He appointed the son of his sister, Laodamia, cardinal at the age of 23, and in 1461 he bestowed the same dignity on Francis Gonzaga, a youth of only 17. These appointments seem to have awakened no resentment.
To advance the interest of the crusade against the Turks, Pius called a congress of princes to meet in Mantua, 1460. On his way thither, accompanied by Bessarion, Borgia and other cardinals, he visited his birthplace, Corsignana, and raised it to a bishopric, changing its name to Pienza. He also began the construction of a palace and cathedral which still endure. Siena he honored by conferring the Golden Rose on its signiory, and promoting the city to the dignity of a metropolitan see. He also enriched it with one of John the Baptist’s arms. Florence arranged for the pope’s welcome brilliant amusements,—theatrical plays, contests of wild beasts, races between lions and horses, and dances,—worldly rather than religious spectacles, as Pastor remarks.
The princes were slow in arriving in Mantua, and the attendance was not such as to justify the opening of the congress till Sept. 26. Envoys from Thomas Palaeologus of the Morea, brother of the last Byzantine emperor, from Lesbos, Cyprus, Rhodes and other parts of the East were on hand to pour out their laments. In his opening address, lasting three hours, Pius called upon the princes to emulate Stephen, Peter, Andrew, Sebastian, St. Lawrence and other martyrs in readiness to lay down their lives in the holy war. The aggression of the Turks had robbed Christendom of some of its fairest seats,—Antioch, where the followers of Christ for the first time received the name Christians, Solomon’s temple, where Christ so often preached, Bethlehem, where he was born, the Jordan, in which he was baptized, Tabor, on which he was transfigured, Calvary, where he was crucified. If they wanted to retain their own possessions, their wives, their children, their liberty, the very faith in which they were baptized, they must believe in war and carry on war. Joshua continued to have victory over his enemies till the sun went down; Gideon, with 300, scattered the Midianites; Jephthah, with a small army, put to flight the swarms of the Ammonites; Samson had brought the proud Philistines to shame; Godfrey, with a handful of men, had destroyed an innumerable number of the enemy and slaughtered the Turks like cattle. Passionately the papal orator exclaimed, O! that Godfrey were once more present, and Baldwin and Eustache and Bohemund and Tancred, and the other mighty men who broke through the ranks of the Turks and regained Jerusalem by their arms.740
The assembly was stirred to a great heat, but, so a contemporary says, the ardor soon cooled. Cardinal Bessarion followed Pius with an address which also lasted three hours. Of eloquence there was enough, but the crusading age was over. The conquerors of Jerusalem had been asleep for nearly 400 years. Splendid orations could not revive that famous outburst of enthusiasm which followed Urban’s address at Clermont. In this case the element of romance was wanting which the conquest of the Holy Sepulchre had furnished. The prowess of the conquering Turks was a hard fact.
During the Congress of Mantua the controversy broke out between the German lawyer, Gregor of Heimburg, and Pius. They had met before at Basel. Heimburg, representing the duke of the Tyrol, who had imprisoned Nicolas of Cusa spoke against the proposed crusade. He openly insulted the pope by keeping on his hat in his presence, an indignity he jokingly explained as a precaution against the catarrh. From the sentence of excommunication, pronounced against his ducal master, he appealed to a general council, August 13, 1460. He himself was punished with excommunication, and Pius called upon the city of Nürnberg to expel him as the child of the devil and born of the artifice of lies. Heimburg became a wanderer until the removal of the ban, 1472. He was the strongest literary advocate in Germany of the Basel decrees and the superiority of councils, and has been called a predecessor of Luther and precursor of the Reformation.741 Diether, archbishop of Mainz, another advocate of the conciliar system, who entered into compacts with the German princes to uphold the Basel decrees and to work for a general council on German soil, was deposed, 1461, as Hermann, archbishop of Cologne, was deposed a hundred years later for undertaking measures of reform in his diocese.
Pius left Mantua the last of January, 1461, stopping on the return journey a second time at his beloved Siena, and canonizing its distinguished daughter, Catherine.742 Here Rodrigo Borgia’s gayeties were so notorious as to call forth papal rebuke. The cardinal gave banquets to which women were invited without their husbands. In a severe letter to the future supreme pontiff, Pius spoke of the dancing at the entertainments as being performed, so he understood, with "all licentiousness."
The ease with which Pius, when it was to his interest, renounced theories which he once advocated is shown in two bulls. The first, the famous bull, Execrabilis, declared it an accursed and unheard-of abuse to make appeal to a council from the decisions of the Roman pontiff, Christ’s vicar, to whom it was given to feed his sheep and to bind and loose on earth and in heaven. To rid the Church of this pestiferous venom,—pestiferum virus,—it announced the papal purpose to damn such appeals and to lay upon the appellants a curse from which there could be no absolution except by the Roman pontiff himself and in the article of death.743 Thus the solemn principle which had bloomed so promisingly in the fair days of the councils of Constance and Basel, and for which Gerson and D’Ailly had so zealously contended, was set aside by one stroke of the pen. Thenceforward, the decree announced, papal decisions were to be treated as final.
Three years later, April 26, 1463, the theory of the supremacy of general councils was set aside in still more precise language.744 In an elaborate letter addressed to the rector and scholars of the University of Cologne, Pius pronounced for the monarchical form of government in the church—monarchicum regimen — as being of divine origin, and the one given to Peter. As storks follow one leader, and as the bees have one king, so the militant church has in the vicar of Christ one who is moderator and arbiter of all. He receives his authority directly from Christ without mediation. He is the prince—praesul — of all the bishops, the heir of the Apostles, of the line of Abel and Melchisedek. As for the Council Of Constance, Pius expressed his regard for its decrees so far as they were approved by his predecessors, but the definitions of general councils, he affirmed, are subject to the sanction of the supreme pontiff, Peter’s successor. With reference to his former utterances at Basel, he expressly revoked anything he had said in conflict with the positions taken in the bull, and ascribed those statements to immaturity of mind, the imprudence of youth and the circumstances of his early training. Quis non errat mortalis—what mortal does not make mistakes, he exclaimed. Reject Aeneas and follow Pius—Aeneam rejicite, Pium recipite — he said. The first was a Gentile name given by parents at the birth of their son; the second, the name he had adopted on his elevation to the Apostolic see.745
It would not be ingenuous to deny to Pius II., in making retractation, the virtue of sincerity. A strain of deep feeling runs through its long paragraphs which read like the last testament of a man speaking from the heart. Inspired by the dignity of his office, the pope wanted to be in accord with the long line of his predecessors, some of whom he mentioned by name, from Peter and Clement to the Innocents and Boniface. In issuing the decree of papal infallibility four centuries later, Pius IX. did not excel his predecessor in the art of composition; but he had this advantage over him that his announcement was stamped with the previous ratification of a general council. The two documents of the two popes of the name Pius reach the summit of papal assumption and consigned to burial the theories of the final authority of general councils and the infallibility of their decrees.
Scarcely could any two things be thought of more incongruous than Pius II.’s culture and the glorious reception he gave in 1462 to the reputed head of the Apostle Andrew. This highly prized treasure was brought to Italy by Thomas Palaeologus, who, in recognition of his pious benevolence toward the holy see, was given the Golden Rose, a palace in Rome and an annual allowance of 6,000 ducats. The relic was received with ostentatious signs of devotion. Bessarion and two other members of the sacred college received it at Narni and conveyed it to Rome. The pope, accompanied by the remaining cardinals and the Roman clergy, went out to the Ponte Molle to give it welcome. After falling prostrate before the Apostle’s skull, Pius delivered an appropriate address in which he congratulated the dumb fragment upon coming safely out of the hands of the Turks to find at last, as a fugitive, a place beside the remains of its brother Apostles. The address being concluded, the procession reformed and, with Pius borne in the Golden Chair, conducted the skull to its last resting-place. The streets were decked in holiday attire, and no one showed greater zeal in draping his palace than Rodrigo Borgia. The skull was deposited in St. Peter’s, after, as Platina says, "the sepulchres of some of the popes and cardinals, which took up too much room, had been removed." The ceremonies were closed by Bessarion in an address in which he expressed the conviction that St. Andrew would join with the other Apostles as a protector of Rome and in inducing the princes to combine for the expulsion of the Turks.746
In his closing days, Pius II. continued to be occupied with the crusade. He had written a memorable letter to Mohammed II. urging him to follow his mother’s religion and turn Christian, and assuring him that, as Clovis and Charlemagne had been renowned Christian sovereigns, so he might become Christian emperor over the Bosphorus, Greece and Western Asia. No reply is extant. In 1458, the year before the Mantuan congress assembled, the crescent had been planted on the Acropolis of Athens. All Southern Greece suffered the indignity and horrors of Turkish oppression. Servia fell into the hands of the invaders, 1459, and Bosnia followed, 1462.
Pius’ bull of 1463, summoning to a crusade, was put aside by the princes, but the pontiff, although he was afflicted with serious bodily infirmities, the stone and the gout, was determined to set an example in the right direction. Like Moses, he wanted, at least, to watch from some promontory or ship the battle against the enemies of the cross. Financial aid was furnished by the discovery of the alum mines of Tolfa, near Civita Vecchia, in 1462, the revenue from which passed into the papal treasury and was specially devoted by the conclave of 1464 to the crusade. But it availed little. Pius proceeded to Ancona on a litter, stopping on the way at Loreto to dedicate a golden cup to the Virgin. Philip of Burgundy, upon whom he had placed chief reliance, failed to appear. From Frederick III. nothing was to be expected. Venice and Hungary alone promised substantial help. The supreme pontiff lodged on the promontory in the bishop’s palace. But only two vessels lay at anchor in the harbor, ready for the expedition. To these were added in a few days 14 galleys sent by the doge. Pius saw them as they appeared in sight. The display of further heroism was denied him by his death two days later. A comparison has been drawn by the historian between the pope, with his eye fixed upon the East, and another, a born navigator, who perhaps was even then turning his eyes towards the West, and before many years was to set sail in equally frail vessels to make his momentous discovery.
On his death-bed, Pius had an argument whether extreme unction, which had been administered to him at Basel during an outbreak of the plague, might be administered a second time. Among his last words, spoken to Cardinal Ammanati, whom he had adopted, were, "pray for me, my son, for I am a sinner. Bid my brethren continue this holy expedition." The body was carried to Rome and laid away in St. Peter’s.
The disappointment of this restless and remarkable man, in the closing undertaking of his busy career, cannot fail to awaken human sympathy. Pius, whose aims and methods had been the most practical, was carried away at last by a romantic idea, without having the ability to marshal the forces for its realization. He misjudged the times. His purpose was the purpose of a man whose career had taught him never to tolerate the thought of failure. In forming a general estimate, we cannot withhold the judgment that, if he had made culture and literary effort prominent in the Vatican, his pontificate would have stood out in the history of the papacy with singular lustre. It will always seem strange that he did not surround himself with literati, as did Nicolas V., and that his interest in the improvement of Rome showed itself only in a few minor constructions. His biographer, Campanus, declares that he incurred great odium by his neglect of the Humanists, and Filelfo, his former teacher of Greek, launched against his memory a biting philippic for this neglect. The great literary pope proved to be but a poor patron.747 Platina’s praise must not be forgotten, when he says, "The pope’s delight, when he had leisure, was in writing and reading, because he valued books more than precious stones, for in them there were plenty of gems." What he delighted in as a pastime himself, he seems not to have been concerned to use his high position to promote in others. He was satisfied with the diplomatic mission of the papacy and deceived by the ignis fatuus of a crusade to deliver Constantinople.
Platina describes Pius at the opening of his pontificate as short, gray-haired and wrinkled of face. He rose at daybreak, and was temperate at table. His industry was noteworthy. His manner made him accessible to all, and he struck the Romans of his age as a man without hypocrisy. Looked at as a man of culture, Aeneas was grammarian, geographer, historian, novelist and orator. Everywhere he was the keen observer of men and events. The plan of his cosmography was laid out on a large scale, but was left unfinished.748 His Commentaries, extending from his birth to the time of his death, are a racy example of autobiographic literature. His strong hold upon the ecclesiastics who surrounded him can only be explained by his unassumed intellectual superiority and a certain moral ingenuousness. He is one of the most interesting figures of his century.749
§ 51. Paul II. 1464–1471.
The next occupant of the papal throne possessed none of the intellectual attractiveness of his predecessor, and displayed no interest in promoting the war against the Turks. He was as difficult to reach as Pius had been accessible, and was slow in attending to official business. The night he turned into day, holding his audiences after dark, and legates were often obliged to wait far into the night or even as late as three in the morning before getting a hearing.
Pietro Barbo, the son of a sister of Eugenius IV., was born in Venice, 1418. He was about to set sail for the East on a mercantile project, when the news reached Venice of his uncle’s election to the papacy. Following his elder brother’s advice, he gave up the quest of worldly gain and devoted himself to the Church. Eugenius’ favor assured him rapid promotion, and he was successively appointed archdeacon of Bologna, bishop of Cervia, bishop of Vicenza, papal pronotary and cardinal. On being elected to the papal chair, the Venetian chose the name of Formosus and then Mark, but, at the advice of the conclave, both were given up, as the former seemed to carry with it a reference to the pontiff’s fine presence, and the latter was the battle-cry of Venice, and might give political offence. So he took the name, Paul.
Before entering upon the election, the conclave again adopted a pact which required the prosecution of the crusade and the assembling of a general council within three years. The number of cardinals was not to exceed 24, the age of appointment being not less than 30 years, and the introduction of more than one of the pope’s relatives to that body was forbidden.750
This solemn agreement, Paul proceeded at once summarily to set aside. The cardinals were obliged to attach their names to another document, whose contents the pope kept concealed by holding his hand over the paper as they wrote. The veteran Carvajal was the only member of the curia who refused to sign. From the standpoint of papal absolutism, Paul was fully justified. What right has any conclave to dictate to the supreme pontiff of Christendom, the successor of St. Peter! The pact was treason to the high papal theory, and meant nothing less than the substitution of an oligarchy for the papal monarchy. Paul called no council, not even a congress, to discuss the crusade against the Turks, and appointed three of his nephews cardinals, Marco Barbo, his brother’s son, and Battista Zeno and Giovanni Michïel, sons of two sisters.751 His ordinances for the city included sumptuary regulations, limiting the prices to be paid for wearing apparel, banquets and entertainments at weddings and funerals, and restricting the dowries of daughters to 800 gold florins.
A noteworthy occurrence of Paul’s pontificate was the storm raised in Rome, 1466, by his dismissal of the 70 abbreviators, the number to which Pius II. had limited the members of that body. This was one of those incidents which give variety to the history of the papal court and help to make it, upon the whole, the most interesting of all histories. The scribes of the papal household were roughly divided into two classes, the secretaries and the abbreviators. The business of the former was to take charge of the papal correspondence of a more private nature, while the latter prepared briefs of bulls and other more solemn public documents.752 The dismissal of the abbreviators got permanent notoriety by the complaints of one of their number, Platina, and the sufferings he was called upon to endure. This invaluable biographer of the popes states that the dispossessed officials, on the plea that their appointment had been for life, besieged the Vatican 20 nights before getting a hearing. Then Platina, as their spokesman, threatened to appeal to the princes of Europe to have a general council called and see that justice was done. The pope’s curt answer was that he would rescind or ratify the acts of his predecessors as he pleased.
The unfortunate abbreviator, who was more of a scholar than a politician, was thrown into prison and held there during the four months of Winter without fire and bound in chains. Unhappily for him, he was imprisoned a second time, accused of conspiracy and heretical doctrine. In these charges the Roman Academy was also involved, an institution which cultivated Greek thought and was charged with having engaged in a propaganda of Paganism. There was some ground for the charge, for its leader, Pomponius Laeto, who combined the care of his vineyard with ramblings through the old Roman ruins and the perusal of the ancient classics, had deblaterated against the clergy. This antiquary was also thrown into prison. Platina relates how he and a number of others were put to the torture, while Vienesius, his Holiness’ vice-chancellor, looked on for several days as the ordeal was proceeding, "sitting like another Minos upon a tapestried seat as if he had been at a wedding, a man in holy orders whom the canons of the Church forbade to put torture upon laymen, lest death should follow, as it sometimes does." On his release he received a promise from Paul of reappointment to office, but waited in vain till the accession of Sixtus IV., who put him in charge of the Vatican library.753
Paul pursued an energetic policy against Podiebrad and the Utraquists of Bohemia and, after ordering all the compacts with the king ignored, deposed him and called upon Matthias of Hungary to take his throne. Paul had rejected Podiebrad’s offer to dispossess the Turk on condition of being recognized as Byzantine emperor.754
In 1468, Frederick, III. repeated his visit to Rome, accompanied by 600 knights, but the occasion aroused none of the high expectation of the former visit, when the emperor brought with him the Portuguese infanta. There was no glittering pageant, no august papal reception. On receiving the communion in the basilica of St. Peter’s, he received from the pontiff’s hand the bread, but not the "holy blood," which, as the contemporary relates, Paul reserved to himself as an object-lesson against the Bohemians, though it was customary on such occasions to give both the elements. The successor of Charlemagne and Barbarossa was then given a seat at the pope’s side, which was no higher than the pope’s feet.755 Patritius, who describes the scene, remarks that, while the respect paid to the papal dignity had increased, the imperium of the Roman empire had fallen into such decadence that nothing remained of it but its name. Without manifesting any reluctance, the Hapsburg held the pope’s stirrup.
Paul was not without artistic tastes, although he condemned the study of the classics in the Roman schools,756 and was pronounced by Platina a great enemy and despiser of learning. He was an ardent collector of precious stones, coins, vases and other curios, and took delight in showing his jewels to Frederick III. Sixtus IV. is said to have found 54 silver chests filled with pearls collected by this pontiff, estimated to be worth 300,000 ducats. The two tiaras, made at his order, contained gems said to have been worth a like amount. At a later time, Cardinal Barbo found in a secret drawer of one of Paul’s chests sapphires valued at 12,000 ducats.757 Platina was probably repeating only a common rumor, when he reports that in the daytime Paul slept and at night kept awake, looking over his jewels.
To this diversion the pontiff added sensual pleasures and public amusements.758 He humored the popular taste by restoring heathen elements to the carnival, figures of Bacchus and the fauna, Diana and her nymphs. In the long list of the gayeties of carnival week are mentioned races for young men, for old men and for Jews, as well as races between horses, donkeys and buffaloes. Paul looked down from St. Mark’s and delighted the crowds by furnishing a feast in the square below and throwing down amongst them handfuls of coins. In things of this kind, says Infessura, the pope had his delight.759 He was elaborate in his vestments and, when he appeared in public, was accustomed to paint his face.
The pope’s death was ascribed to his indiscretion in eating two large melons. Asked by a cardinal why, in spite of the honors of the papacy, he was not contented, Paul replied that a little wormwood can pollute a whole hive of honey. The words belong in the same category as the words spoken 300 years before by the English pope, Adrian, when he announced the failure of the highest office in Christendom to satisfy all the ambitions of man.
§ 52. Sixtus IV. 1471–1484.
The last three popes of the 15th century, Sixtus IV., Innocent VIII. and Alexander VI., completely subordinated the interests of the papacy to the advancement of their own pleasure and the enrichment and promotion of their kindred.760 The avenues of the Vatican were filled with upstarts whose only claim to recognition was that they were the children or the nephews of its occupant, the supreme pontiff.
The chief features of the reign of Sixtus IV., a man of great decision and ability, were the insolent rule of his numerous nephews and the wars with the states of Italy in which their intrigues and ambitions involved their uncle. At the time of his election, Francesco Rovere was general of the order of the Franciscans. Born 1414, he had risen from the lowest obscurity, his father being a fisherman near Savona. He took the doctor’s degree in theology at Padua, and taught successively in Bologna, Pavia, Siena, Florence and Perugia. Paul II. appointed him cardinal. In the conclave strong support is said to have come to him through his notorious nephew, Peter Riario, who was active in conducting his canvas and making substantial promises for votes.
The effort to interest the princes in the Turkish crusade was renewed, but soon abandoned. Cardinals were despatched to the various courts of Europe, Bessarion to France, Marco Barbo to Germany, and Borgia to Spain, but only to find these governments preoccupied with other concerns or ill-disposed to the enterprise. In 1472, a papal fleet of 18 galleys actually set sail, with banners blessed by the pope in St. Peter’s, and under the command of Cardinal Caraffa. It was met at Rhodes by 30 ships from Naples and 36 from Venice and, after some plundering exploits, returned with 25 Turkish prisoners of war and 12 camels,—trophies enough to arouse the curiosity of the Romans. Moneys realized from some of Paul II.’s gems had been employed to meet the expenditure.
Sixtus’ relatives became the leading figures in Rome, and in wealth and pomp they soon rivalled or eclipsed the old Roman families and the older members of the sacred college. Sixtus was blessed or burdened with 16 nephews and grandnephews. All that was in his power to do, he did, to give them a good time and to establish them in affluence and honor all their days. The Sienese had their day under Pius II., and now it was the turn of the Ligurians. The pontiff’s two brothers and three, if not four, sisters, as well as all their progeny, had to be taken care of. The excuse made for Calixtus III. cannot be made for this indulgent uncle, that he was approaching his dotage. Sixtus was only 56 when he reached the tiara. And desperate is the suggestion that the unfitness or unwillingness of the Roman nobility to give the pope proper support made it necessary for him to raise up another and a complacent aristocracy.761
Sixtus deemed no less than five of his nephews and a grandnephew deserving of the red hat, and sooner or later eight of them were introduced into the college of cardinals. Two nephews in succession were appointed prefects of Rome. The nephews who achieved the rank of cardinals were Pietro Riario at 25, and Julian della Rovere at 28, in 1471, both Franciscan monks; Jerome Basso and Christopher Rovere, in 1477; Dominico Rovere, Christopher’s brother, in 1478; and the pope’s grandnephew, Raphael Sansoni, at the age of 17, in 1477. The two nephews made prefects of Rome were Julian’s brother Lionardo, who died in 1475, and his brother Giovanni, d. 1501. Lionardo was married by his uncle to the illegitimate daughter of Ferrante, king of Naples.762
Upon Peter Riario and Julian Rovere he heaped benefice after benefice. Julian, a man of rare ability, afterwards made pope under the name of Julius II., was appointed archbishop of Avignon and then of Bologna, bishop of Lausanne, Constance, Viviers, Ostia and Velletri, and placed at the head of several abbeys. Riario, who, according to popular hearsay, was the pope’s own child, was bishop of Spoleto, Seville and Valencia, Patriarch of Constantinople, and recipient of other rich places, until his income amounted to 60,000 florins or about 2,500,000 francs. He went about with a retinue of 100 horsemen. His expenditures were lavish and his estate royal. His mistresses, whom he did not attempt to conceal, were dressed in elegant fabrics, and one of them wore slippers embroidered with pearls. Dominico received one after the other the bishoprics of Corneto, Tarentaise, Geneva and Turin.
The visit of Leonora, the daughter of Ferrante, in Rome in 1473, while on her way to Ferrara to meet her husband, Hercules of Este, was perhaps the most splendid occasion the city had witnessed since the first visit of Frederick III. It furnished Riario an opportunity for the display of a magnificent hospitality. On Whitsunday, the Neapolitan princess was conducted by two cardinals to St. Peter’s, where she heard mass said by the pope and then at high-noon witnessed the miracle play of Susanna and the Elders, acted by Florentine players. The next evening she sat down to a banquet which lasted 3 hours and combined all the skill which decorators and cooks could apply. The soft divans and costly curtainings, the silk costumes of the servants and the rich courses are described in detail by contemporary writers. In anticipation of modern electrical fans, 3 bellows were used to cool and freshen the atmosphere. In such things, remarks Infessura, the treasures of the Church were squandered.763
In 1474, on the death of Peter Riario, a victim of his excesses and aged only 28,764 his brother Jerome, a layman, came into supreme favor. Sixtus was ready to put all the possessions of the papal see at his disposal and, on his account, he became involved in feuds with Florence and Venice. He purchased for this favorite Imola, at a cost of 40,000 ducats, and married him to the illegitimate daughter of the duke of Milan, Catherine Sforza. The purchase of Imola was resented by Florence, but Sixtus did not hesitate to further antagonize the republic and the Medici. The Medici had established a branch banking-house in Rome and become the papal bankers. Sixtus chose to affront the family by patronizing the Pazzi, a rival banking-firm. At the death of Philip de’Medici, archbishop of Pisa, in 1474, Salviati was appointed his successor against the protest of the Medici. Finally, Julian de’ Medici was denied the cardinalship. These events marked the stages in the progress of the rupture between the papacy and Florence. Lorenzo, called the Magnificent, and his brother Julian represented the family which the fiscal talents of Cosmo de’Medici had founded. In his readiness to support the ambitions of his nephew, Jerome Riario, the pope seemed willing to go to any length of violence. A conspiracy was directed against Lorenzo’s life, in which Jerome was the chief actor,—one of the most cold-blooded conspiracies of history. The pope was conversant with the plot and talked it over with its chief agent, Montesecco and, though he may not have consented to murder, which Jerome and the Pazzi had included in their plan, he fully approved of the plot to seize Lorenzo’s person and overthrow the republic.765
The terrible tragedy was enacted in the cathedral of Florence. When Montesecco, a captain of the papal mercenaries, hired to carry out the plot, shrank from committing sacrilege by shedding blood in the church of God, its execution was intrusted to two priests, Antonio Maffei da Volterra and Stefano of Bagnorea, the former a papal secretary. While the host was being elevated, Julian de’Medici, who was inside the choir, was struck with one dagger after another and fell dead. Lorenzo barely escaped. As he was entering the sanctuary, he was struck by Maffei and slightly wounded, and made a shield of his arm by winding his mantle around it, and escaped with friends to the sacristy, which was barred against the assassins. The bloody deed took place April 26, 1478.
The city proved true to the family which had shed so much lustre upon it, and quick revenge was taken upon the agents of the conspiracy. Archbishop Salviati, his brother, Francesco de’ Pazzi and others were hung from the signoria windows.766 The two priests were executed after having their ears and noses cut off. Montesecco was beheaded. Among those who witnessed the scene in the cathedral was the young cardinal, Raphael, the pope’s grandnephew, and without having any previous knowledge of the plot. His face, it was said, turned to an ashen pallor, which in after years he never completely threw off.
With intrepid resolution, Sixtus resented the death of his archbishop and the indignity done a cardinal in the imprisonment of Raphael as an accomplice. He hurled the interdict at the city, branding Lorenzo as the son of iniquity and the ward of perdition,—iniquitatis filius et perditionis alumnus,—and entered into an alliance with Naples against it. Louis XI. of France and Venice and other Italian states espoused the cause of Florence. Pushed to desperation, Lorenzo went to Naples and made such an impression on Ferrante that he changed his attitude and joined an alliance with Florence. The pope was checkmated. The seizure of Otranto on Italian soil by the Turks, in 1480, called attention away from the feud to the imminent danger threatening all Italy. In December of that year, Sixtus absolved Florence, and the legates of the city were received in front of St. Peter’s and touched with the rod in token of forgiveness. Six months later, May 26, 1481, Rome received the news of the death of Mohammed II., which Sixtus celebrated by special services in the church, Maria del Popolo,767 and the Turks abandoned the Italian coast.
Again, in the interest of his nephew, Jerome, Sixtus took Forli, thereby giving offence to Ferrara. He joined Venice in a war against that city, and all Italy became involved. Later, the warlike pontiff again saw his league broken up and Venice and Ferrara making peace, irrespective of his counsels. He vented his mortification by putting the queen of the Adriatic under the interdict.
In Rome, the bloody pope fanned the feud between the Colonna and the Orsini, and almost succeeded in blotting out the name of the Colonna by assassination and judicial murder.
Sixtus has the distinction of having extended the efficacy of indulgences to souls in purgatory. He was most zealous in distributing briefs of indulgence.768 The Spanish Inquisition received his solemn sanction in 1478. Himself a Franciscan, he augmented the privileges of the Franciscan order in a bull which that order calls its great ocean—mare magnum. He canonized the official biographer of Francis d’Assisi, Bonaventura.
He issued two bulls with reference to the worship of Mary and the doctrine of the immaculate conception, but he declared her sinlessness from the instant of conception a matter undecided by the Roman Church and the Apostolic see—nondum ab ecclesia romana et apostolica sede decisum.769 In all matters of ritual and outward religion, he was of all men most punctilious. The chronicler, Volterra, abounds in notices of his acts of devotion. Asa patron of art, his name has a high place. He supported Platina with four assistants in cataloguing the archives of the Vatican in three volumes.
Such was Sixtus IV., the unblushing promoter of the interests of his relatives, many of them as worthless as they were insolent, the disturber of the peace of Italy, revengeful, and yet the liberal patron of the arts. The enlightened diarist of Rome, Infessura,770 calls the day of the pontiff’s decease that most happy day, the day on which God liberated Christendom from the hand of an impious and iniquitous ruler, who had before him no fear of God nor love of the Christian world nor any charity whatsoever, but was actuated by avarice, the love of vain show and pomp, most cruel and given to sodomy.771
During his reign, were born in obscure places in Saxony and Switzerland two men who were to strike a mighty blow at the papal rule, themselves also of peasant lineage and the coming leaders of the new spiritual movement.
§ 53. Innocent VIII. 1484–1492.
Under Innocent VIII. matters in Rome were, if anything, worse than under his predecessor, Sixtus IV. Innocent was an easy-going man without ideals, incapable of conceiving or carrying out high plans. He was chiefly notable for his open avowal of an illegitimate family and his bull against witchcraft.
At Sixtus’ death, wild confusion reigned in Rome. Nobles and cardinals barricaded their residences. Houses were pillaged. The mob held carnival on the streets. The palace of Jerome Riario was sacked. Relief was had by an agreement between the rival families of the Orsini and Colonna to withdraw from the city for a month and Jerome’s renunciation of the castle of S. Angelo, which his wife had defended, for 4,000 ducats. Not till then did the cardinals feel themselves justified in meeting for the election of a new pontiff.
The conclaves of 1484 and 1492 have been pronounced by high catholic authority among the "saddest in the history of the papacy."772 Into the conclave of 1484, 25 cardinals entered, 21 of them Italians. Our chief account is from the hand of the diarist, Burchard, who was present as one of the officials.
His description goes into the smallest details. A protocol was again adopted, which every cardinal promised in a solemn formula to observe, if elected pope. Its first stipulation was that 100 ducats should be paid monthly to members of the sacred college, whose yearly income from benefices might not reach the sum of 4,000 ducats (about 200,000 francs in our present money). Then followed provisions for the continuance of the crusade against the Turks, the reform of the Roman curia in head and members, the appointment of no cardinal under 30 for any cause whatever, the advancement of not more than a single relative of the reigning pontiff to the sacred college and the restriction of its membership to 24.773
Rodrigo Borgia fully counted upon being elected and, in expectation of that event, had barricaded his palace against being looted. Large bribes, even to the gift of his palace, were offered by him for the coveted prize of the papacy. Cardinal Barbo had 10 votes and, when it seemed likely that he would be the successful candidate, Julian Rovere and Borgia, renouncing their aspirations, combined their forces, and during the night, went from cell to cell, securing by promises of benefices and money the votes of all but six of the cardinals. According to Burchard, the pope about to be elected sat up all night signing promises. The next morning the two cardinals aroused the six whom they had not disturbed, exclaiming, "Come, let us make a pope." "Who?" they said. "Cardinal Cibo." "How is that?" they asked. "While you were drowsy with sleep, we gathered all the votes except yours," was the reply.
The new pope, Lorenzo Cibo, born in Genoa, 1432, had been made cardinal by Sixtus IV., 1473. During his rule, peace was maintained with the courts of Italy, but in Rome clerical dissipation, curial venality and general lawlessness were rampant. "In darkness Innocent was elected, in darkness he lives, and in darkness he will die," said the general of the Augustinians.774 Women were carried off in the night. The murdered were found in the streets in the morning. Crimes, before their commission, were compounded for money. Even the churches were pilfered. A piece of the true cross was stolen from S. Maria in Trastavere. The wood was reported found in a vineyard, but without its silver frame. When the vice-chancellor, Borgia, was asked why the laws were not enforced, he replied, "God desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should pay and live."775 The favorite of Sixtus IV., Jerome Riario, was murdered in 1488. His widow, the brave and masculine Catherine Sforza, who was pregnant at the time, defended his castle at Forli and defied the papal forces besieging it, declaring that, if they put her children to death who were with her, she yet had one left at Imola and the unborn child in her womb. The duke of Milan, her relative, rescued her and put the besiegers to flight.
All ecclesiastical offices were set for sale. How could it be otherwise, when the papal tiara itself was within the reach of the highest bidder?776 The appointment of 18 new papal secretaries brought 62,400 ducats into the papal treasury. The bulls creating the offices expressly declared the aim to be to secure funds. 52 persons were appointed to seal the papal bulls, called plumbatores, from the leaden ball or seal they used, and the price of the position was fixed at 2,500 ducats. Even the office of librarian in the Vatican was sold, and the papal tiara was put in pawn. In a time of universal traffic in ecclesiastical offices, it is not surprising that the fabrication of papal documents was turned into a business. Two papal notaries confessed to having issued 50 such documents in two years, and in spite of the pleas of their friends were hung and burnt, 1489.777
Innocent’s children were not persons of marked traits, or given to ambitious intrigues. Common rumor gave their number as 16, all of them children by married women.778 Franceschetto and Theorina seem to have been born before the father entered the priesthood. Franceschetto’s marriage to Maddalena, a daughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent, was celebrated in the Vatican, Jan. 20, 1488. Ten months later, the pope’s granddaughter, Peretta, child of Theorina, was also married in the Vatican to the marquis of Finale. The pontiff sat with the ladies at the table, a thing contrary to all the accepted proprieties. In 1492, another grandchild, also a daughter of Theorina, Battistana, was married to duke Louis of Aragon.779
The statement of Infessura is difficult to believe, although it is made at length, that Innocent issued a decree permitting concubinage in Rome both to clergy and laity. The prohibition of concubinage was declared prejudicial to the divine law and the honor of the clergy, as almost all the clergy, from the highest to the lowest, had concubines, or mistresses. According to the Roman diarist, there were 6,800 listed public courtezans in Rome besides those whose names were not recorded.780 To say the least, the statement points to the low condition of clerical morals in the holy city and the slight regard paid to the legislation of Gregory VII. Infessura was in position to know what was transpiring in Rome.
What could be expected where the morals of the supreme pontiff and the sacred senate were so loose? The lives of many of the cardinals were notoriously scandalous. Their palaces were furnished with princely splendor and filled with scores of servants. Their example led the fashions in extravagance in dress and sumptuous banquetings. They had their stables, kennels and falcons. Cardinal Sforza, whose yearly income is reported to have been 30,000 ducats, or 1,500,000 francs, present money, excelled in the chase. Cardinal Julian made sport of celibacy, and had three daughters. Cardinal Borgia, the acknowledged leader in all gayeties, was known far and wide by his children, who were prominent on every occasion of display and conviviality. The passion for gaming ran high in the princely establishments. Cardinal Raphael won 8,000 ducats at play from Cardinal Balue who, however, in spite of such losses, left a fortune of 100,000 ducats. This grandnephew of Sixtus IV. was a famous player, and in a single night won from Innocent’s son, Franceschetto, 14,000 ducats. The son complained to his father, who ordered the fortunate winner to restore the night’s gains. But the gay prince of the church excused himself by stating that the money had already been paid out upon the new palace he was engaged in erecting.
The only relative whom Innocent promoted to the sacred college was his illegitimate brother’s son, Lorenzo Cibo. The appointment best known to posterity was that of Giovanni de’ Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, afterwards Leo X.
Another appointment, that of D’Aubusson, was associated with the case of the Mohammedan prince, Djem. This incident in the annals of the papacy would seem incredible, if it were not true. A writer of romance could hardly have invented an episode more grotesque. At the death of Mohammed II., his son, Djem, was defeated in his struggle for the succession by his brother Bajazet, and fled to Rhodes for protection. The Knights of St. John were willing to hold the distinguished fugitive as prisoner, upon the promise of 45,000 ducats a year from the sultan. For safety’s sake, Djem was removed to one of the Hospitaller houses in France. Hungary, Naples, Venice, France and the pope,—all put in a claim for him. Such competition to pay honor to an infidel prince had never before been heard of in Christendom. The pope won by making valuable ecclesiastical concessions to the French king, among them the bestowal of the red hat on D’Aubusson.
The matter being thus amicably adjusted, Djem was conducted to Rome, where he was received with impressive ceremonies by the cardinals and city officials. His person was regarded as of more value than the knowledge of the East brought by Marco Polo had been in its day, and the reception of the Mohammedan prince created more interest than the return of Columbus from his first journey to the West. Djem was escorted through the streets by the pope’s son, and rode a white horse sent him by the pope. The ambassador of the sultan of Egypt, then in Rome, had gone out to meet him, and shed tears as he kissed his feet and the feet of his horse. The popes had not shrunk from entering into alliances with Oriental powers to secure the overthrow of Mohammed II. and his dynasty. Djem, or the Grand Turk, as he was called, was welcomed by the pope surrounded by his cardinals. The proud descendant of Eastern monarchs, however, refused to kiss the supreme pontiff’s foot, but made some concession by kissing his shoulder. He was represented as short and stout, with an aquiline nose, and a single good eye, given at times inordinately to drink, though a man of some intellectual culture. He was reported to have put four men to death with his own hand. But Djem was a dignitary who signified too much to be cast aside for such offences. Innocent assigned him to elegantly furnished apartments in the Vatican, and thus the strange spectacle was afforded of the earthly head of Christendom acting as the host of one of the chief living representatives of the faith of Islam, which had almost crushed out the Christian churches of the East and usurped the throne on the Bosphorus.
Bajazet was willing to pay the pope 40,000 ducats for the hospitality extended to his rival brother, and delegations came from him to Rome to arrange the details of the bargain. The report ran that attempts were made by the sultan to poison both his brother and the pope by contaminating the wells of the Vatican. When the ambassador brought from Constantinople the delayed payment of three years, 120,000 ducats, Djem insisted that the Turk’s clothes should be removed and his skin be rubbed down with a towel, and that he should lick the letter "on every side," as proof that he did not also carry poison.781 Djem survived his first papal entertainer, Innocent VIII., three years, and figured prominently in public functions in the reign of Alexander VI. He died 1495, still a captive.
Another curious instance was given in Innocent’s reign of the hold open-mouthed superstition had in the reception given to the holy lance. This pretended instrument, with which Longinus pierced the Saviour’s side and which was found during the Crusades by the monk Barthélemy at Antioch, was already claimed by two cities, Nürnberg and Paris. The relic made a greater draft upon the credulity of the age than St. Andrew’s head. The latter was the gift of a Christian prince, howbeit an adherent of the schismatic Greek Church; the lance came from a Turk, Sultan Bajazet.
Some question arose among the cardinals whether it would not be judicious to stay the acceptance of the gift till the claims of the lance in Nürnberg had been investigated. But the pope’s piety, such as it was, would not allow a question of that sort to interfere. An archbishop and a bishop were despatched to Ancona to receive the iron fragment, for only the head of the lance was extant. It was conducted from the city gates by the cardinals to St. Peter’s, and after mass the pope gave his blessing. The day of the reception happened to be a fast, but, at the suggestion of one of the cardinals, some of the fountains along the streets, where the procession was appointed to go, were made to throw out wine to slake the thirst of the populace. After a solemn service in S. Maria del Popolo, on Ascension Day, 1492, the Turkish present, encased in a receptacle of crystal and gold, was placed near the handkerchief of St. Veronica in St. Peter’s.782
The two great stains upon the pontificate of Innocent VIII., the crusade he called to exterminate the Waldenses, 1487, and his bull directed against the witches of Germany, 1484, which inaugurated two horrible dramas of cruelty, have treatment in another place.
Innocent was happy in being permitted to join with Europe in rejoicings over the expulsion of the last of the Moors from Granada, 1492. Masses were said in Rome, and a sermon preached in the pontiff’s presence in celebration of the memorable event.783 With characteristic national gallantry, Cardinal Borgia showed his appreciation by instituting a bull-fight in which five bulls were killed, the first but not the last spectacle of the kind seen in the papal city. In his last sickness, Innocent was fed by a woman’s milk.784 Several years before, when he was thought to be dying, the cardinals found 1,200,000 ducats in his drawers and chests. They now granted his request that 48,000 ducats should be taken from his fortune and distributed among his relatives.
§ 54. Pope Alexander VI—Borgia. 1492–1503.
The pontificate of Alexander VI., which coincides with the closing years of the 15th century and the opening of the 16th, may be compared with the pontificate of Boniface VIII., which witnessed the passage from the 13th to the 14th centuries. Boniface marked the opening act in the decline of the papal power introduced by the king of France. Under Alexander, when the French again entered actively into the affairs of Italy, even to seizing Rome, the papacy passed into its deepest moral humiliation since the days of the pornocracy in the 10th century.
Alexander VI., whom we have before known as Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, has the notorious distinction of being the most corrupt of the popes of the Renaissance period. Even in the judgment of Catholic historians, his dissoluteness knew no restraint and his readiness to abase the papacy for his own personal ends, no bounds.785 His intellectual force, if used aright, might have made his pontificate one of the most brilliant in the annals of the Apostolic see. The time was ripe. The conditions offered the opportunity if ever period did. But moral principle was wanting. Had Dante lived again, he would have written that Alexander VI. made a greater refusal than the hermit pope, Coelestine V., and deserved a darker doom than the simoniac pope, Boniface VIII.
At Innocent VIII.’s death, 23 cardinals entered into the conclave which met in the Sistine chapel. Borgia and Julian Rovere were the leading candidates. They were rivals, and had been candidates for the papal chair before. Everything was to be staked on success in the pending election. Openly and without a blush, ecclesiastical offices and money were offered as the price of the spiritual crown of Christendom. Julian was supported by the king of France, who deposited 200,000 ducats in a Roman bank and 100,000 more in Genoa to secure his election. If Borgia could not outbid him he was, at least, the more shrewd in his manipulations. There were only five cardinals, including Julian, who took nothing. The other members of the sacred college had their price. Monticelli and Soriano were given to Cardinal Orsini and also the see of Cartagena, and the legation to the March; the abbey of Subiaco and its fortresses to Colonna; Civita Castellana and the see of Majorca to Savelli; Nepi to Sclafetanus; the see of Porto to Michïel; and rich benefices to other cardinals. Four mules laden with gold were conducted to the palace of Ascanio Sforza, who also received Rodrigo’s splendid palace and the vice-chancellorship. Even the patriarch of Venice, whose high age—for he had reached 95—might have been expected to lift him above the seduction of filthy lucre, accepted 5,000 ducats. Infessura caustically remarks that Borgia distributed all his goods among the poor.786
The ceremonies of coronation were on a scale which appeared to the contemporaries unparalleled in the history of such occasions. A figure of a bull, the emblem of the Borgias, was erected near the Palazzo di S. Marco on the line of the procession, from whose eyes, nostrils and mouth poured forth water, and from the forehead wine. Rodrigo was 61 years of age, had been cardinal for 37 years, having received that dignity when he was 25. His fond uncle, Calixtus III., had made him archbishop of Valencia, heaped upon him ecclesiastical offices, including the vice-chancellorship, and made him the heir of his personal possessions. His palace was noted for the splendor of its tapestries and carpets and its vessels of gold and silver.787 The new pope possessed conspicuous personal attractions. He was tall and well-formed, and his manners so taking that a contemporary, Gasparino of Verona, speaks of his drawing women to himself more potently than the magnet attracts iron.788 The reproof which his gallantries of other days called forth from Pius II. at Siena has already been referred to.
The pre-eminent features of Alexander’s career, as the supreme pontiff of Christendom, were his dissolute habits and his extravagant passion to exalt the worldly fortunes of his children. In these two respects he seemed to be destitute at once of all regard for the solemnity of his office and of common conscience. A third feature was the entry of Charles VIII. and the French into Italy and Rome. During his pontificate two events occurred whose world-wide significance was independent of the occupant of the papal throne,—the one geographical, the other religious,—the discovery of America and the execution of the Florentine preacher, Savonarola. As in the reign of Calixtus III., so now Spaniards flocked to Rome, and the Milanese ambassador wrote that ten papacies would not have been able to satisfy their greed for official recognition. In spite of a protocol adopted in the conclave, a month did not pass before Alexander appointed his nephew, Juan of Borgia, cardinal, and in the next years he admitted four more members of the Borgia family to the sacred college, including his infamous son, Caesar Borgia, at the age of 18.789
Alexander’s household and progeny call for treatment first. It soon became evident that the supreme passion of his pontificate was to advance the fortunes of his children.790 His parental relations were not merely the subject of rumor; they are vouched for by irresistible documentary proof.
Alexander was the acknowledged father of five children by Vanozza de Cataneis: Pedro Luis, Juan, Caesar, Lucretia, Joffré and, perhaps, Pedro Ludovico. The briefs issued by Sixtus IV. legitimating Caesar and Ludovico are still extant.791 Two bulls were issued by Alexander himself in 1493, bearing on Caesar’s parentage. The first, declaring him to be the son of Vanozza by a former husband, was intended to remove the objections the sacred college naturally felt in admitting to its number one of uncertain birth. In the second, Alexander announced him to be his own son.792 Tiring of Vanozza, who was 11 years his junior, Alexander put her aside and saw that she was married successively to three husbands, himself arranging for the first relationship and making provision for the second and the third.793 In her later correspondence with Lucretia she signed herself, thy happy and unhappy mother—la felice ed infelice matre.
These were not the only children Alexander acknowledged. His daughters Girolama and Isabella were married 1482 and 1483.794 Another daughter, Laura, by Julia Farnese, born in 1492, he acknowledged as his own child, and in 1501 the pope formally legitimated, as his own son, Juan, by a Roman woman. In a first bull he called the boy Caesar’s, but in a second he recognized him as his own offspring.795
Among Alexander’s mistresses, after he became pope, the most famous was cardinal Farnese’s sister, Julia Farnese, called for her beauty, La Bella. Infessura repeatedly refers to her as Alexander’s concubine. Her legal husband was appeased by the gift of castles.
The gayeties, escapades, marriages, worldly distinctions and crimes of these children would have furnished daily material for paragraphs of a nature to satisfy the most sensational modern taste. Don Pedro Luis, Alexander’s eldest son, and his three older brothers began their public careers in the service of the Spanish king, Ferdinand, who admitted them to the ranks of the higher nobility and sold Gandia, with the title of duke, to Don Pedro. This gallant young Borgia died in 1491 at the age of 30, on the eve of his journey from Rome to Spain to marry Ferdinand’s cousin. His brother, Don Juan, fell heir to the estate and title of Gandia and was married with princely splendor in Barcelona to the princess to whom Don Pedro had been betrothed.
Alexander’s son, Caesar Borgia was as bad as his ambition was insolent. The annals of Rome and of the Vatican for more than a decade are filled with his impiety, his intrigues and his crimes. At the age of six, he was declared eligible for ordination. He was made protonotary and bishop of Pampeluna by Innocent VIII. At his father’s election he hurried from Pisa, where he was studying, and on the day of his father’s coronation was appointed archbishop of Valencia. He was then sixteen.
Don Joffré was married, at 13, to a daughter of Alfonso of Naples and was made prince of Squillace.
The personal fortunes of Alexander’s daughter, Lucretia, constitute one of the notorious and tragic episodes of the 15th century.
The most serious foreign issue in Alexander’s reign was the invasion of Charles VIII., king of France. The introductory act in what seemed likely to be the complete transformation of Italy was the sale of Cervetri and Anguillara to Virginius Orsini for 40,000 ducats by Franceschetto, the son of Innocent VIII. This papal scion was contented with a life of ease and retired to Florence. The transfer of these two estates was treated by the Sforza as disturbing the balance of power in the peninsula, and Ludovico and Ascanio Sforza pressed Alexander to check the influence of Ferrante, king of Naples, who was the supporter of the Orsini. Ferrante, a shrewd politician, by ministering to Alexander’s passion to advance his children’s fortunes, won him from the alliance with the Sforza. He promised to the pope’s son, Joffré, Donna Sancia, a mere child, in marriage. Ludovico Sforza, ready to resort to any measure likely to promote his own personal ambition, invited Charles VIII. to enter Italy and make good his claim to the crown of Naples on the ground of the former Angevin possession. He also applauded the French king’s announced purpose to reduce Constantinople once more to Christian dominion.
On Ferrante’s death, 1494, Alfonso II. was crowned king of Naples by Alexander’s nephew, Cardinal Juan Borgia. Charles, then only 22, was short, deformed, with an aquiline nose and an inordinately big head. He set out for Italy at the head of a splendid army of 40,000 men, equipped with the latest inventions in artillery. Julian Rovere, who had resisted Alexander’s policy and fled to Avignon, joined with other disaffected cardinals in supporting the French and accompanying the French army. Charles’ march through Northern Italy was a series of easy and almost bloodless triumphs. Milan threw open its gates to Charles. So did Pisa. Before entering Florence, the king was met by Savonarola, who regarded him as the messenger appointed by God to rescue Italy from her godless condition. Rome was helpless. Alexander’s ambassadors, sent to treat with the invader, were either denied audience or denied satisfaction. In his desperation, the pope resorted to the Turkish sultan, Bajazet, for aid. The correspondence that passed between the supreme ruler of Christendom and the leading sovereign of the Mohammedan world was rescued from oblivion by the capture of its bearer, George Busardo.796 40,000 ducats were found on Busardo’s person, a payment sent by Bajazet to Alexander for Djem’s safe-keeping. Alexander had indicated to the sultan that it was Charles’ aim to carry Djem off to France and then use him as the admiral of a fleet for the capture of Constantinople. In reply, Bajazet suggested that such an issue would result in even greater damage to the pope than to himself. His papal friend, whom he addressed as his Gloriosity—gloriositas, might be pleased to lift the said prisoner, Djem, out of the troubles of this present world and transfer his soul into another, where he would enjoy more quiet.797 For performing such a service, he stood ready to give him the sum of 300,000 ducats, which, as he suggested, the pope might use in purchasing princedoms for his children.
On the last day of 1494, the French army entered the holy city, dragging with it 36 bronze cannon. Such military discipline and equipment the Romans had not seen, and they looked on with awe and admiration. To the king’s demand that the castle of S. Angelo be surrendered, Alexander sent a refusal declaring that, if the fortress were attacked, he would take his position on the walls surrounded with the most sacred relics in Rome. Cardinals Julian Rovere, Sforza, Savelli and Colonna, who had ridden into the city with the French troops, urged the king to call a council and depose Alexander for simony. But when it came to the manipulation of men, Alexander was more than a match for his enemies. Charles had no desire to humiliate the pope, except so far as it might be necessary for the accomplishment of his designs upon Naples. A pact was arranged, which included the delivery of Djem to the French and the promise that Caesar Borgia should accompany the French troops to Naples as papal legate. In the meantime the French soldiery had sacked the city, even to Vanozza’s house. Henceforth the king occupied quarters in the Vatican, and the disaffected cardinals, with the exception of Julian, were reconciled to the pope.
On his march to Naples, which began Jan. 25, 1495, Charles took Djem with him. That individual passed out of the gates of Rome, riding at the side of Caesar. These two personages, the Turkish pretender and the pontiff’s son, had been on terms of familiarity, and often rode on horseback together. Within a month after leaving Rome, and before reaching Naples, the Oriental died. The capital of Southern Italy was an easy prize for the invaders. Caesar had been able to make his escape from the French camp. His son’s shrewdness and good luck afforded Alexander as much pleasure as did the opportunity of joining the king of Spain and the cities of Northern Italy in an alliance against Charles. In 1496, the alliance was strengthened by the accession of Henry VII. of England. After abandoning himself for several months to the pleasures of the Neapolitan capital, the French king retraced his course and, after the battle of Fornuovo, July 6, 1495, evacuated Italy. Alexander had evaded him by retiring from Rome, and sent after the retreating king a message to return to his proper dominions on pain of excommunication. The summons neither hastened the departure of the French nor prevented them from returning to the peninsula again in a few years.798
The misfortunes and scandals of the papal household were not interrupted by the French invasion, and continued after it. In the summer of 1497, occurred the mysterious murder of Alexander’s son, the duke of Gandia, then 24 years old. It was only a sample of the crimes being perpetrated in Rome. The duke had supped with Caesar, his brother, and Cardinal Juan Borgia at the residence of Vanozza. The supper being over, the two brothers rode together as far as the palace of Cardinal Sforza. There they separated, the duke going, as he said, on some private business, and accompanied by a masked man who had been much with him for a month past. The next day, Alexander waited for his son in vain. In the evening, unable to bear the suspense longer, he instituted an investigation. The man in the mask had been found mortally wounded. A charcoal-dealer deposed that, after midnight, he had seen several men coming to the brink of the river, one of them on a white horse, over the back of which was thrown a dead man. They backed the horse and pitched the body into the water. The pope was inconsolable with grief, and remained without food from Thursday to Sunday. He had recently made his son lord of the papal patrimony and of Viterbo, standard-bearer of the church and duke of Benevento. In reporting the loss to the consistory of cardinals, the father declared that he loved Don Juan more than anything in the world, and that if he had seven papacies he would give them all to restore his son’s life.
The origin of the murder was a mystery. Different persons were picked out as the perpetrators. It was surmised that the deed was committed by some lover who had been abused by the gay duke. Suspicion also fastened on Ascanio Sforza, the only cardinal who did not attend the consistory. But gradually the conviction prevailed that the murderer was no other than Caesar Borgia himself, and the Italian historian, Guicciardini, three years later adopted the explanation of fratricide. Caesar, it was rumored, was jealous of the place the duke of Gandia held in his father’s affections, and hankered after the worldly honors which had been heaped upon him.
When the charcoal-dealer was asked why he did not at once report the dark scene, he replied that such deeds were a common occurrence and he had witnessed a hundred like it.799
In the first outburst of his grief, Alexander, moved by feelings akin to repentance, appointed a commission of six cardinals to bring in proposals for the reformation of the curia and the Church. His reforming ardor was, however, soon spent, and the proposals, when offered, were set aside as derogatory to the papal prerogative. For the next two years, the marriages and careers of his children, Caesar and Lucretia, were treated as if they were the chief concern of Christendom.
Lucretia, born in 1480, had already been twice betrothed to Spaniards, when the father was elected pope and sought for her a higher alliance. In 1493, she was married to John Sforza, lord of Pesaro, a man of illegitimate birth. The young princess was assigned a palace of her own near the Vatican, where Julia Farnese ruled as her father’s mistress. It was a gay life she lived, as the centre of the young matrons of Rome. Accompanied by a hundred of them at a time, she rode to church. She was pronounced by the master of ceremonies of the papal chapel most fair, of a bright disposition, and given to fun and laughter.800 The charges of incest with her own father and brother Caesar made against her on the streets of the papal city, in the messages of ambassadors and by the historian, Guicciardini, seem too shocking to be believed, and have been set aside by Gregorovius, the most brilliant modern authority for her life. The distinguished character of her last marriage and the domestic peace and happiness by which it was marked seem to be sufficient to discredit the damaging accusations.
The marriage with the lord of Pesaro was celebrated in the Vatican, after a sermon had been preached by the bishop of Concordia. Among the guests were 11 cardinals and 150 Roman ladies. The entertainment lasted till 5 in the morning. There was dancing, and obscene comedies were performed, with Alexander and the cardinals looking on. And all this, exclaims a contemporary," to the honor and praise of Almighty God and the Roman church!"801
After spending some time with her husband on his estate, Lucretia was divorced from him on the charge of his impotency, the divorce being passed upon by a commission of cardinals. After spending a short time in a convent, the princess was married to Don Alfonso, duke of Besiglia, the bastard son of Alfonso II. of Naples. The Vatican again witnessed the nuptial ceremony, but the marriage was, before many months, to be brought to a close by the duke’s murder.
In the meantime Donna Sancia, the wife of Joffré, had come to the city, May, 1496, and been received at the gates by cardinals, Lucretia and other important personages. The pope, surrounded by 11 cardinals, and with Lucretia on his right hand, welcomed his son and daughter-in-law in the Vatican. According to Burchard, the two princesses boldly occupied the priests’ benches in St. Peter’s. Later, it was said, Sancia’s two brothers-in-law, the duke of Gandia and Caesar, quarrelled over her and possessed her in turn. Alexander sent her back to Naples, whether for this reason or not is not known. She was afterwards received again in Rome.
Caesar, in spite of his yearly revenues amounting to 35,000 ducats, had long since grown tired of an ecclesiastical career. Bishop and cardinal-deacon though he was, he deposed before his fellow-cardinals that from the first he had been averse to orders, and received them in obedience to his father’s wish. These words Gregorovius has pronounced to be perhaps the only true words the prince ever spoke. Caesar’s request was granted by the unanimous voice of the sacred college. Alexander, whose policy it now was to form a lasting bond between France and the papacy, looked to Louis XII., successor of Charles VIII., for a proper introduction of his son upon a worldly career.802 Louis was anxious to be divorced from his deformed and childless wife, Joanna of Valois, and to be united to Charles’ young widow, Anne, who carried the dowry of Brittany with her. There were advantages to be gained on both sides. Dispensation was given to the king, and Caesar was made duke of Valentinois and promised a wife of royal line.
The arrangements for Caesar’s departure from Rome were on a grand scale. The richest textures were added to gold and silver vessels and coin, so that, when the young man departed from the city, he was preceded by a line of mules carrying goods worth 200,000 ducats on their backs. The duke’s horses were shod with silver. The contemporary writer gives a picture of Alexander standing at the window, watching the cortege, in which were four cardinals, as it passed towards the West. The party went by way of Avignon. After some disappointment in not securing the princess whom Caesar had picked out, Charlotte d’Albret, then a young lady of sixteen, and a sister of the king of Navarre, was chosen. When the news of the marriage, which was celebrated in May, 1499, reached Rome, Alexander and the Spaniards illuminated their houses and the streets in honor of the proud event. The advancement of this abandoned man, from this time forth, engaged Alexander VI.’s supreme energies. The career of Caesar Borgia passes, if possible, into stages of deeper darkness, and the mind shrinks back from the awful sensuality, treachery and cruelty for which no crime was too revolting. Everything had to give way that stood in the hard path of his vulgar ambition and profligate greed. And at last his father, ready to sacrifice all that is sacred in religion and human life to secure his son’s promotion, became his slave, and in fear dared not to offer resistance to his plans.
The duke was soon back in Italy, accompanying the French army led by Louis XII. The reduction of Milan and Naples followed. The taking of Milan reduced Alexander’s former ally and brought captivity to Ascanio Sforza, the cardinal, but it was welcome news in the Vatican. Alexander was bent, with the help of Louis, upon creating a great dukedom in central Italy for his son, with a kingly dominion over all the peninsula as the ultimate act of the drama. The fall of Naples was due in part to the pope’s perfidy in making an alliance with Louis and deposing the Neapolitan king, Frederick.
Endowed by his father with the proud title of duke of the Romagna and made captain-general of the church, Caesar, with the help of 8,000 mercenaries, made good his rights to Imola, Forli, Rimini and other towns, some of the victories being celebrated by services in St. Peter’s. At the same time, Lucretia was made regent of Nepi and Spoleto. As a part of the family program, the indulgent father proceeded to declare war against the Gaetani house and to despoil the Colonna, Savelli and Orsini. No obstacle should be allowed to remain in the ambitious path of the unscrupulous son. Upon him was also conferred that emblem of purity of character or of high service to the Church, the Golden Rose.
The celebration of the Jubilee in the opening year of the new century, which was to be so eventful, brought hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to the holy city, and the great sums which were collected were reserved for the Turkish crusade, or employed for the advancement of the Borgias. The bull announcing the festival offered to those visiting Rome free indulgence for the most grievous sins.803 On Christmas eve, 1499, Alexander struck the Golden Gate with a silver mallet, repeating the words of Revelation, "He openeth and no man shutteth."
In glaring contrast to the religious ends with which the Jubilee was associated in the minds of the pilgrims, Caesar entered Rome, in February, surrounded with all the trappings of military conquest. Among the festivities provided to relieve the tedium of religious occupations was a Spanish bull-fight. The square of St. Peter’s was enclosed with a railing and the spectators looked on while the pope’s son, Caesar, killed five bulls. The head of the last he severed with a single stroke of his sword.
Another of the fearful tragedies of the Borgia family filled the atmosphere of this holy year with its smothering fumes, the murder of Lucretia’s husband, the duke of Besiglia, to whom she had borne a son.804 On returning home at night he was fallen upon at the steps of St. Peter’s and stabbed. Carried to his palace, he was recovering, when Caesar, who had visited him several times, at last had him strangled, August 18, 1500. The pope’s son openly declared his responsibility, and gave as an explanation that he himself was in danger from the prince.
With such scenes the new century was introduced in the papal city. But the end was not yet. The appointment of cardinals had been prostituted into a convenient device for filling the papal coffers and advancing the schemes of the papal family. In 1493 Alexander added 12 to the sacred college, including Alexander Farnese, afterwards Paul III., and brother to the pope’s mistress. From these creations more than 100,000 ducats are said to have been realized.805 In 1496 four more were added, all Spaniards, including the pope’s nephew, Giovanni Borgia, and making 9 Spaniards in Alexander’s cabinet. When 12 cardinals were appointed, Sept. 28, 1500, Caesar reaped 120,000 ducats as his reward. He had openly explained that he needed the money for his designs in the Romagna. In 1503, just before his father’s death, the duke received 130,000 more for 9 red hats. He raised 64,000 by the appointment of new abbreviators. Nor were the dead to go free. At the death of Cardinal Ferrari, 50,000 ducats were seized from his effects, and when Cardinal Michïel died, nephew of Paul II., 150,000 ducats were transferred to the duke’s account.
One iniquity only led to another, Cardinal Orsini, while on a visit to the pope, was taken prisoner. His palace was dismantled, and other members of the family seized and their castles confiscated. The cardinal’s mother, aged fourscore, secured from Alexander, upon the payment of 2,000 ducats and a costly pearl which Orsini’s mistress had in her possession and, dressed as a man, took to Alexander,806 the privilege of supplying her son with a daily dole of bread. But the unfortunate man’s doom was sealed. He came to his death, as it was believed, by poison prepared by Alexander.807
The last of Alexander’s notable achievements for his family was the marriage of Lucretia to Alfonso, son of Hercules, duke of Ferrara, 1502. The young duke was 24, and a widower. The prejudices of his father were removed through the good offices of the king of France and a reduction of the tribute due from Ferrara, as a papal fief, from 400 ducats to 100 florins, the college of cardinals giving their assent. While the negotiations were going on, Alexander, during an absence of three months from Rome, confided his correspondence and the transaction of his business to the hands of his daughter. This appointment made the college of cardinals subject to her.
Lucretia entered with zest into the settlement of the preliminaries leading up to the betrothal and into the preparations for the nuptials. When the news of the signing of the marriage contract reached Rome, early in September, 1501, she went to S. Maria del Popolo, accompanied by 300 knights and four bishops, and gave public thanks. On the way she took off her cloak, said to be worth 300 ducats, and gave it to her buffoon. Putting it on, he rode through the streets crying out, "Hurrah for the most illustrious duchess of Ferrara. Hurrah for Alexander VI."808 For three hours the great bell on the capitol was kept ringing, and bonfires were lit through the city to "incite everybody to joy." The pope’s daughter, although she had been four times betrothed and twice married, was only 21 at the time of her last engagement. According to the Ferrarese ambassador, her face was most beautiful and her manners engaging.809 In the brilliant escort sent by Hercules to conduct his future daughter-in-law to her new home, were the duke’s two younger sons, who were entertained at the Vatican. Caesar and 19 cardinals, including Cardinal Hippolytus of Este, met the escort at the Porto del Popolo. Night after night, the Vatican was filled with the merriment of dancing and theatrical plays. At her father’s request, Lucretia performed special dances. The formal ceremony of marriage was performed, December 30th, in St. Peter’s, Don Ferdinand acting as proxy for his brother. Preceded by 50 maids of honor, a duke on each side of her, the bride proceeded to the basilica. Her approach was announced by musicians playing in the portico. Within on his throne sat the pontiff, surrounded by 13 cardinals. After a sermon, which Alexander ordered made short, a ring was put on Lucretia’s finger by Duke Ferdinand. Then the Cardinal d’Este approached, laying on a table 4 other rings, a diamond, an emerald, a turquoise and a ruby, and, at his order, a casket was opened which contained many jewels, including a head-dress of 16 diamonds and 150 large pearls. But with exquisite courtesy, the prelate begged the princess not to spurn the gift, as more gems were awaiting her in Ferrara.
The rest of the night was spent in a banquet in the Vatican, when comedies were rendered, in which Caesar was one of the leading figures. To their credit be it said, that some of the cardinals and other dignitaries preferred to retire early. The week which followed was filled with entertainments, including a bull-fight on St. Peter’s square, in which Caesar again was entered as a matador.
The festivities were brought to a close Jan. 6th, 1502. 150 mules carried the bride’s trousseau and other baggage. The lavish father had told her to take what she would. Her dowry in money was 100,000 ducats. A brilliant cavalcade, in which all the cardinals and ambassadors and the magistrates of the municipality took part, accompanied the party to the city gates and beyond, while Cardinal Francesco Borgia accompanied the party the whole journey. In this whole affair, in spite of ourselves, sympathy for a father supplants our indignation at his perfidy in violating the sacred vows of a Catholic priest and the pledge of the supreme pontiff. Alexander followed the cavalcade as far as he could with his eye, changing his position from window to window. But no mention is made by any of the writers of the bride’s mother. Was she also a witness of the gayeties from some concealed or open standing-place?
Lucretia never returned to Rome. And so this famous woman, whose fortunes awaken the deepest interest and also the deepest sympathy, passes out from the realm of this history and she takes her place in the family annals of the noble house of Este. She gained the respect of the court and the admiration of the city, living a quiet, domestic life till her death in 1519. Few mortals have seen transpire before their own eyes and in so short a time so much of dissemblance and crime as she. She was not forty when she died. The old representation, which made her the heroine of the dagger and the poisoned cup and guilty of incest, has given way to the milder judgment of Reumont and Gregorovius, with whom Pastor agrees. While they do not exonerate her from all profligacy, they rescue her from being an abandoned Magdalen, and make appeal to our considerate judgment by showing that she was made by her father an instrument of his ambitions for his family and that at last she exhibited the devotion of a wife and of a mother. Her son, Hercules, who reigned till 1559, was the husband of Renée, the princess who welcomed Calvin and Clement Marot to her court.
Death finally put an end to the scandals of Alexander’s reign. After an entertainment given by Cardinal Hadrian, the pope and his son Caesar were attacked with fever. It was reported that the poison which they had prepared for a cardinal was by mistake or intentionally put into the cups they themselves used.810 The pontiff’s sickness lasted less than a week. The third day he was bled. On his death-bed he played cards with some of his cardinals. At the last, he received the eucharist and extreme unction and died in the presence of five members of the sacred college. It is especially noted by that well-informed diarist, Burchard, that during his sickness Alexander never spoke a single word about Lucretia or his son, the duke. Caesar was too ill to go to his father’s sick-bed but, on hearing of his death, he sent Micheletto to demand of the chamberlain the keys to the papal exchequer, threatening to strangle the cardinal, Casanova, and throw him out of the window in case he refused. Terrified out of his wits,—perterritus,—the cardinal yielded, and 100,000 ducats of gold and silver were carried away to the bereaved son.
In passing an estimate upon Alexander VI., it must be remembered that the popular and also the carefully expressed judgments of contemporaries are against him.811 The rumor was current that the devil himself was present at the death-scene and that, paying the price he had promised him for the gift of the papacy 12 years before, Alexander replied to the devil’s beckonings that he well understood the time had come for the final stage of the transaction.812
Alexander’s intellectual abilities have abundant proof in the results of his diplomacy by which be was enabled to plot for the political advancement of Caesar Borgia, with the support of France, at whose feet he had at one time been humbled, by his winning back the support of the disaffected cardinals, and by his immunity from personal hurt through violence, unless it be through poison at last. That which marks him out for unmitigated condemnation is his lack of principle. Mental ability, which is ascribed to the devil himself, is no substitute for moral qualities. Perfidy, treachery, greed, lust and murder were stored up in Alexander’s heart.813 While he shrank from the commission of no crime to reach the objects of his ambition, he was wont to engage in the solemn exercises of devotion, and even to say the mass with his own lips. To measure his iniquity, as has been said, one need only compare his actions with the simple statement of the precepts, "Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal." Elevation to a position of responsibility usually has the effect of sobering a man’s spirit, but Rodrigo Borgia degraded the highest office in the gift of Christendom for his own carnal designs. The moral qualities and aims of Gregory VII. and Innocent III., however much we may dissent from those aims, command respect. Alexander VI. was sensual, and his ability to govern men, no matter how great it was, should not moderate the abhorrence which his depraved aims arouse. The man with brute force can hold others in terror, but he is a brute, nevertheless. The standards, it must be confessed, of life in Rome were low when Rodrigo was made cardinal, and a Roman chronicler could say that every priest had his mistress and almost all the Roman monasteries had been turned into lupinaria — brothels.814 But holy traditions still lingered around the sacred places of the city; the solemn rites of the Christian ritual were still performed; the dissoluteness of the Roman emperors still seemed hellish when compared with the sacrifice of the cross. And yet, two years before Alexander’s death, October 31, 1501, an orgy took place in the Vatican by Caesar’s appointment whose obscenity the worst of the imperial revels could hardly have surpassed. 50 courtezans spent the night dancing, with the servants and others present, first with their clothes on and then nude, the pope and Lucretia looking on. The women, still naked, and going on their hands and feet, picked up chestnuts thrown on the ground, and then received prizes of cloaks, shoes, caps and other articles.815
To Alexander nothing was sacred,—office, virtue, marriage, or life. As cardinal he was present at the nuptials of the young Julia Farnese, and probably at that very moment conceived the purpose of corrupting her, and in a few months she was his acknowledged mistress. The cardinal of Gurk said to the Florentine envoy, "When I think of the pope’s life and the lives of some of his cardinals, I shudder at the thought of remaining in the curia, and I will have nothing to do with it unless God reforms His Church." It was a biting thrust when certain German knights, summoned to Rome, wrote to the pontiff that they were good Christians and served the Count Palatine, who worshipped God, loved justice, hated vice and was never accused of adultery. "We believe," they went on, "in a just God who will punish with eternal flames robbery, sacrilege, violence, abuse of the patrimony of Christ, concubinage, simony and other enormities by which the Christian Church is being scandalized."816
It is pleasant to turn to the few acts of this last pontificate of the 15th century which have another aspect than pure selfishness or depravity. In 1494, Alexander canonized Anselm without, however, referring to the Schoolman’s great treatise on the atonement, or his argument for the existence of God.817 He promoted the cult of St. Anna, the Virgin Mary’s reputed mother, to whom Luther was afterwards devoted.818 He almost blasphemously professed himself under the special protection of the Virgin, to whom he ascribed his deliverance from death on several occasions, by sea and in the papal palace.
In accord with the later practice of the Roman Catholic Church, Alexander restricted the freedom of the press, ordering that no volume should be published without episcopal sanction.819 His name meets the student of Western discovery in its earliest period, but his treatment of America shows that he was not informed of the purposes of Providence. In two bulls, issued May 4th and 5th, 1493, he divided the Western world between Portugal and Spain by a line 100 leagues west of the Azores, running north and south. These documents mention Christopher Columbus as a worthy man, much to be praised, who, apt as a sailor, and after great perils, labors and expenditures, had discovered islands and continents—terras firmas — never before known. The possession of the lands in the West, discovered and yet to be discovered, was assigned to Spain and Portugal to be held and governed in perpetuity,—in perpetuum,—and the pope solemnly declared that he made the gift out of pure liberality, and by the authority of the omnipotent God, conceded to him in St. Peter, and by reason of the vicarship of Jesus Christ, which he administered on earth.820 Nothing could be more distinctly stated. As Peter’s successor, Alexander claimed the right to give away the Western Continent, and his gift involved an unending right of tenure. This prerogative of disposing of the lands in the West was in accordance with Constantine’s invented gift to Sylvester, recorded in the spurious Isidorian decretals.821
If any papal bull might be expected to have the quality of inerrancy, it is the bull bearing so closely on the destinies of the great American continent, and through it on the world’s history. But the terms of the bull of May 4th were set aside a year after its issue by the political treaty of Tordesillas, June 7, 1494, which shifted the line to a distance 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. And the centuries have rudely overturned the supreme pontiff’s solemn bequest until not a foot of land on this Western continent remains in the possession of the kingdoms to which it was given. Putting aside the distinctions between doctrinal and disciplinary decisions, which are made by many Catholic exponents of the dogma of papal infallibility, Alexander’s bull conferring the Americas, as Innocent III.’s bull pronouncing the stipulations of the Magna Charta forever null, should afford a sufficient refutation of the dogma.
The character and career of Alexander VI. afford an argument against the theory of the divine institution and vicarial prerogatives of the papacy which the doubtful exegesis of our Lord’s words to Peter ought not to be allowed to counteract. If we leave out all the wicked popes of the 9th and 10th centuries, forget for a moment the cases of Honorius and other popes charged with heresy, and put aside the offending popes of the Renaissance period and all the bulls which sin against common reason, such as Innocent VIII.’s bull against witchcraft, Alexander is enough to forbid that theory. Could God commit his Church for 12 years to such a monster? It is fair to recognize that Catholic historians feel the difficulty, although they find a way to explain it away. Cardinal Hergenröther says that, Christendom was delivered from a great offence by Alexander’s death, but even in his case, unworthy as this pope was, his teachings are to be obeyed, and in him the promise made to the chair of St. Peter was fulfilled (Matt. 23:2, 3). In no instance did Alexander VI. prescribe to the Church anything contrary to morals or the faith, and never did he lead her astray in disciplinary decrees which, for the most part, were excellent."822
In like strain, Pastor writes:823 In spite of Alexander, the purity of the Church’s teaching continued unharmed. It was as if Providence wanted to show that men may injure the Church, but that it is not in their power to destroy it. As a bad setting does not diminish the value of the precious stone, so the sinfulness of a priest cannot do any essential detriment either to his dispensation of her sacraments or to the doctrines committed to her. Gold remains gold, whether dispensed by clean hands or unclean. The papal office is exalted far above the personality of its occupants, and cannot lose its dignity or gain essential worth by the worthiness or unworthiness of its occupants. Peter sinned deeply, and yet the supreme pastoral office was committed to him. It was from this standpoint that Pope Leo the Great declared that the dignity of St. Peter is not lost, even in an unworthy successor. Petri dignitas etiam in indigno haeredo non deficit." Leo’s words Pastor adopts as the motto of his history.
In such reasoning, the illustrations beg the question. No matter how clean or unclean the hands may be which handle it, lead remains lead, and no matter whether the setting be gold or tin, an opaque stone remains opaque which is held by them. The personal opinion of Leo the Great will not be able to stand against the growing judgment of mankind, that the Head of the Church does not commit the keeping of sacred truth to wicked hands or confide the pastorate over the Church to a man of unholy and lewd lips. The papal theory of the succession of Peter, even if there were no other hostile historic testimony, would founder on the personality of Alexander VI., who set an example of all depravity. Certainly the true successors of Peter will give in their conduct some evidence of the fulfilment of Christ’s words "the kingdom of heaven is within you." Who looks for an illustration of obedience to the mandates of the Most High to the last pontiff of the 15th century!824
§ 55. Julius II., the Warrior-Pope. 1503–1513.
Alexander’s successor, Pius III., a nephew of Pius II., and a man of large family, succumbed, within a month after his election, to the gout and other infirmities. He was followed by Julian Rovere, Alexander’s old rival, who, as cardinal, had played a conspicuous part for more than 30 years. He proved to be the ablest and most energetic pontiff the Church had had since the days of Innocent III. and Gregory IX. in the 13th century.
At Alexander’s death, Caesar Borgia attempted to control the situation. He afterwards told Machiavelli that he had made provision for every exigency except the undreamed-of conjunction of his own and his father’s sickness.825 Consternation ruled in Rome, but with the aid of the ambassadors of France, Germany, Venice and Spain, Caesar was prevailed upon to withdraw from the city, while the Orsini and the Colonna families, upon which Alexander had heaped high insult, entered it again.
The election of Julian Rovere, who assumed the name of Julius II., was accomplished with despatch October 31, 1503, after bribery had been freely resorted to. The Spanish cardinals, 11 in number and still in a measure under Caesar’s control, gave their votes to the successful candidate on condition that Caesar should be recognized as gonfalonier of the church. The faithful papal master-of-ceremonies, whose Diary we have had occasion to draw on so largely, was appointed bishop of Orta, but died two years later. Born in Savona of humble parentage and appointed to the sacred college by his uncle, Sixtus IV., Julius had recently returned to Rome after an exile of nearly 10 years. The income from his numerous bishoprics and other dignities made him the richest of the cardinals. Though piety was not one of the new pontiff’s notable traits, his pontificate furnished an agreeable relief from the coarse crimes and domestic scandals of Alexander’s reign. It is true, he had a family of three daughters, one of whom, Felice, was married into the Orsini family in 1506, carrying with her a splendid dowry of 15,000 ducats. But the marriage festivities were not appointed for the Vatican, nor did the children give offence by their ostentatious presence in the pontifical palace. Julius also took care of his nephews. Two of them were appointed to the sacred college, Nov. 29, 1503, and later two more were honored with the same dignity. For making the Spanish scholar, Ximenes, cardinal, Julius deserved well of other ages as well as his own. He was a born ruler. He had a dignified and imposing presence and a bright, penetrating eye. Under his white hair glowed the intellectual fire of youth. He was rapid in his movements even to impetuosity, and brave even to daring. Defeats that would have disheartened even the bravest seemed only to intensify Julius’ resolution. If his language was often violent, the excuse is offered that violence of speech was common at that time. As a cardinal he had shown himself a diplomat rather than a saint, and as pope he showed himself a warrior rather than a priest. When Michael Angelo, who was ordered to execute the pope’s statue in bronze, was representing Julius with his right hand raised, the pope asked, "What are you going to put into the left?" "It may be a book," answered the artist. "Nay, give me a sword, for I am no scholar," was the pope’s reply. Nothing could be more characteristic.826
Julius’ administration at once brought repose and confidence to the sacred college and Rome. If he did not keep his promise to abide by the protocol adopted in the conclave calling for the assembling of a council within two years, he may be forgiven on the ground of the serious task he had before him in strengthening the political authority of the papal see. This was the chief aim of his pontificate. He deserves the title of the founder of the State of the Church, a realm that, with small changes, remained papal territory till 1870. This end being secured, he devoted himself to redeeming Italy from its foreign invaders. Three foes stood in his way, Caesar and the despots of the Italian cities, the French who were intrenched in Milan and Genoa, and the Spaniards who held Naples and Sicily. His effort to rescue Italy for the Italians won for him the grateful regard due an Italian patriot. Like Innocent III., he closed his reign with an oecumenical council.
Caesar Borgia returned to Rome, was recognized as gonfalonier and given apartments in the Vatican. Julius had been in amicable relations with the prince in France and advanced his marriage, and Caesar wrote that in him he had found a second father. But Caesar now that Alexander was dead, was as a galley without a rudder. He was an upstart; Julius a man of power and far-reaching plans. Prolonged co-operation between the two was impossible. The one was sinister, given to duplicity; the other frank and open to brusqueness. The encroachment of Venice upon the Romagna gave the occasion at once for Caesar’s fall and for the full restoration of papal authority in that region. Supporters Caesar had none who could be relied upon in the day of ill success. He no longer had the power which the control of patronage gives. Julius demanded the keys of the towns of the Romagna as a measure necessary to the dislodgment of Venice. Caesar yielded, but withdrew to Ostia, meditating revenge. He was seized, carried back to Rome and placed in the castle of S. Angelo, which had been the scene of his dark crimes. He was obliged to give up the wealth gotten at his father’s death and to sign a release of Forli and other towns. Liberty was then given him to go where be pleased. He accepted protection from the Spanish captain, Gonsalvo de Cordova, but on his arrival in Naples the Spaniard, with despicable perfidy, seized the deceived man and sent him to Spain, August, 1504. For two years he was held a prisoner, when he escaped to the court of his brother-in-law, the king of Navarre. He was killed at the siege of Viana, 1507, aged 31. Thus ended the career of the man who had once been the terror of Rome, whom Ranke calls "a virtuoso in crime," and Machiavelli chose as the model of a civil ruler. This political writer had met Caesar after Julius’ elevation, and in his Prince827 says, "It seems good to me to propose Caesar Borgia as an example to be imitated by all those who through fortune and the arms of others have attained to supreme command. For, as he had a great mind and great ambitions, it was not possible for him to govern otherwise." Caesar had said to the theorist, "I rob no man. I am here to act the tyrant’s part and to do away with tyrants." Only if to obtain power by darkness and assassination is worthy of admiration, and if to crush all individual liberty is a just end of government, can the Machiavellian ideal be regarded with other feelings than those of utter reprobation. There is something pathetic in the recollection that, to the end, this inhuman brother retained the affection of his sister, Lucretia. She pled for his release from imprisonment in Spain, and Caesar’s letter to her announcing his escape is still extant.828 When the rumor came of his death, Lucretia despatched her servant, Tullio, to Navarre to find out the truth, and gave herself up to protracted prayer on her brother’s behalf. This beautiful example of a sister’s love would seem to indicate that Caesar possessed by nature some excellent qualities.
Julius was also actively engaged in repairing some of the other evils of Alexander’s reign and making amends for its injustices. He restored Sermoneta to the dukes of Gaetani. The document which pronounced severe reprobation upon Alexander ran, "our predecessor, desiring to enrich his own kin, through no zeal for justice, but by fraud and deceit, sought for causes to deprive the Gaetani of their possessions." With decisive firmness, he announced his purpose to assert his lawful authority over the papal territory and, accompanied by 9 cardinals, he left Rome at the head of 500 men and proceeded to make good the announcement. Perugia was quickly brought to terms; and, aided by the French, the pope entered Bologna, against which he had launched the interdict. Returning to Rome, he was welcomed as a conqueror. The victorious troops passed under triumphal arches, including a reproduction of Constantine’s arch erected on St. Peter’s square; and, accompanied by 28 members of the sacred college, Julius gave solemn thanks in St. Peter’s.829
The next to be brought to terms was Venice. In vain had the pope, through letters and legates, called upon the doge to give up Rimini, Faenza, Forli and other parts of the Romagna upon which he had laid his hand. In March, 1508, he joined the alliance of Cambrai, the other parties being Louis XII. and the emperor Maximilian, and later, Ferdinand of Spain. This agreement decided in cold blood upon the division of the Venetian possessions, and bound the parties to a war against the Turk. France was confirmed in the tenure of Milan, and given Cremona and Brescia. Maximilian was to have Verona, Padua and Aquileja; Naples, the Venetian territories in Southern Italy; Hungary, Dalmatia; Savoy, Cyprus; and the Apostolic see, the lands of which it had been dispossessed. It was high-handed robbery, even though a pope was party to it. Julius, who had promised to add the punishments of the priestly office to the force of arms, proceeded with merciless severity, and placed the republic under the interdict, April 27, 1509. In vain did Venice appeal to God and a general council. Past sins enough were written against her to call for severe treatment. She was forced to surrender Rimini, Faenza and Ravenna, and was made to drink the cup of humiliation to its dregs. The city renounced her claim to nominate to bishoprics and benefices and tax the clergy without the papal consent. The Adriatic she was forced to open to general commerce. Her envoys, who appeared in Roma to make public apology for the sins of the proud state, were subjected to the insult of listening on their knees to a service performed outside the walls of St. Peter’s and lasting an hour; at every verse of the Miserere the pope and 12 cardinals, each with a golden rod, touched them. Then, service over, the doors of the cathedral were thrown open and absolution pronounced.830 The next time Venice was laid under the papal ban, the measure failed.
Julius’ plans were next directed against the French, the impudent invaders of Northern Italy and claimants of sovereignty over it. Times had changed since the pope, as cardinal Julian Rovere, had accompanied the French army under Charles VIII. The absolution of Venice was tantamount to the pope’s withdrawal from the alliance of Cambrai. By making Venice his ally, he hoped to bring Ferrara again under the authority of the holy see. The duchy had flourished under the warm support of the French.
Julius now made a far-reaching stroke in securing the help of the Swiss, who had been fighting under the banners of France. The hardy mountaineers, who now find it profitable to entertain tourists from all over the world, then found it profitable to sell their services in war. With the aid of their vigorous countryman, Bishop Schinner of Sitten, afterwards made cardinal, the pope contracted for 6,000 Swiss mercenaries for five years. The localities sending them received 13,000 gulden a year, and each soldier 6 francs a month, and the officers, twice that sum. As chaplain of the Swiss troops, Zwingli went to Rome three times, a course of which his patriotism afterwards made him greatly ashamed. The descendants of these Swiss mercenaries defended Louis XVI., and their heroism is commemorated by Thorwaldsen’s lion, cut into the rock at Lucerne. Swiss guards, dressed in yellow suits, to this day patrol the approaches and halls of the Vatican.831
The French king, Louis XII. (1498–1515), sought to break Julius’ power by adding to the force of arms the weight of a religious assembly and, at his instance, the French bishops met in council at Tours, September, 1510, and declared that the pope had put aside the keys of St. Peter, which his predecessors had employed, and seized the sword of Paul. They took the ground that princes were justified in opposing him with force, even to withdrawing obedience and invading papal territory.832 As in the reign of Philip the Fair, so now moneys were forbidden transferred from France to Rome, and a call was made by 9 cardinals for a council to meet at Pisa on Sept. 1st, 1511. This council of Tours denounced Julius as "the new Goliath," and Louis had a coin struck off with the motto, I will destroy the name of Babylon—perdam Babylonis nomen. Calvin, in the year of his death, sent to Renée, duchess of Ferrara, one of these medals which in his letter, dated Jan. 8, 1564, he declared to be the finest present he had it in his power to make her. Renée was the daughter of Louis XII. Julius excommunicated Alfonso, duke of Ferrara, as a son of iniquity and a root of perdition. Thus we have the spectacle of the supreme priest of Christendom and the most Christian king, the First Son of the Church, again engaged in war with one another.
At the opening of the campaign, Julius was in bed with a sickness which was supposed to be mortal; but to the amazement of his court, he suddenly arose and, in the dead of Winter, January, 1511, betook himself to the camp of the papal forces. His promptness of action was in striking contrast to the dilatory policy of Louis, who spent his time writing letters and summoning ecclesiastical assemblies when he ought to have been on the march. From henceforth till his death, the pope wore a beard, as he is represented in Raphael’s famous portrait.833 Snow covered the ground, but Julius set an example by enduring all the hardships of the camp. To accomplish the defeat of the French, he brought about the Holy League, October, 1511, Spain and Venice being the other parties. Later, these three allies were joined by Maximilian and Henry VIII. of England. Henry had been honored with the Golden Rose.834 Henry’s act was England’s first positive entrance upon the field of general European politics.
In the meantime the French were carrying on the Council of Pisa. The pope prudently counteracted its influence by calling a council to meet in the Lateran. Christendom was rent by two opposing ecclesiastical councils as well as by two opposing armies. The armies met in decisive conflict under the walls of the old imperial city of Ravenna. The leader of the French, Gaston de Foix, nephew of the French king, though only 24, approved himself, in spite of his youth, one of the foremost captains of his age. Bologna had fallen before his arms, and now Ravenna yielded to the same necessity after a bloody battle. The French army numbered 25,000, the army of the League 20,000. In the French camp was the French legate, Cardinal Sanseverino, mounted and clad in steel armor, his tall form towering above the rest. Prominent on the side of the allied army was the papal legate, Cardinal de’ Medici, clad in white, and Giulio Medici, afterwards Clement VII. The battle took place on Easter Day, 1512. Gaston de Foix, thrown to the ground by the fall of his horse, was put to death by some of the seasoned Spanish soldiers whom Gonsalvo had trained. The victor, whose battle cry was "Let him that loves me follow me," was borne into the city in his coffin. Rimini, Forli and other cities of the Romagna opened their gates to the French. Cardinal Medici was in their hands.
The papal cause seemed to be hopelessly lost, but the spirit of Julius rose with the defeat. He is reported to have exclaimed, "I will stake 100,000 ducats and my crown that I will drive the French out of Italy," and the victory of Ravenna proved to be another Cannae. The hardy Swiss, whose numbers Cardinal Schinner had increased to 18,000, and the Venetians pushed the campaign, and the barbarians, as Julius called the French, were forced to give up what they had gained, to surrender Milan and gradually to retire across the Alps. Parma and Piacenza, by virtue of the grant of Mathilda, passed into his hands, as did also Reggio. The victory was celebrated in Rome on an elaborate scale. Cannons boomed from S. Angelo, and thanks were given in all the churches. In recognition of their services, the pope gave to the Swiss two large banners and the permanent title of Protectors of the Apostolic see—auxiliatores sedis apostolicae. Such was the end of this remarkable campaign.
Julius purchased Siena from the emperor for 30,000 ducats and, with the aid of the seasoned Spanish troops, took Florence and restored the Medici to power. In December, 1513, Maximilian, who at one time conceived the monstrous idea of combining with his imperial dignity the office of supreme pontiff, announced his support of the Lateran council, the pope having agreed to use all the spiritual measures within his reach to secure the complete abasement of Venice. The further execution of the plans was prevented by the pope’s death. In his last hours, in a conversation with Cardinal Grimani, he pounded on the floor with his cane, exclaiming, "If God gives me life, I will also deliver the Neapolitans from the yoke of the Spaniards and rid the land of them."835
The Pisan council had opened Sept. 1, 1511, with only two archbishops and 14 bishops present. First and last 6 cardinals attended, Carvajal, Briçonnet, Prie, d’Albret, Sanseverino and Borgia. The Universities of Paris Toulouse and Poictiers were represented by doctors. After holding three sessions, it moved to Milan, where the victory of Ravenna gave it a short breath of life. When the French were defeated, it again moved to Asti in Piedmont, where it held a ninth session, and then it adjourned to Lyons, where it dissolved of itself.836 Hergenröther, Pastor and other Catholic historians take playful delight in calling the council the little council—conciliabulum—and a conventicle, terms which Julius applied to it in his bulls.837 Among its acts were a fulmination against the synod Julius was holding in the Lateran, and it had the temerity to cite the pope to appear, and even to declare him deposed from all spiritual and temporal authority. The synod also reaffirmed the decrees of the 5th session of the Council of Constance, placing general councils over the pope.
Very different in its constitution and progress was the Fifth Lateran, the last oecumenical council of the Middle Ages, and the 18th in the list of oecumenical councils, as accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. It lasted for nearly five years, and closed on the eve of the nailing of the XCV theses on the church door in Wittenberg. It is chiefly notable for what it failed to do rather than for anything it did. The only one of its declarations which is of more than temporary interest was the deliverance, reaffirming Boniface’s theory of the supremacy of the Roman pontiff over all potentates and individuals whatsoever.
In his summons calling the council, Julius deposed the cardinals, who had entered into the Pisan synod, as schismatics and sons of darkness.838 The attendance did not compare in weight or numbers with the Council of Constance. At the 1st session, held May 3, 1512, there were present 16 cardinals, 12 patriarchs, 10 archbishops, 70 bishops and 3 generals of orders. The opening address by Egidius of Viterbo, general of the Augustinian order, after dwelling upon the recent glorious victories of Julius, magnified the weapons of light at the council’s disposal, piety, prayers, vows and the breastplate of faith. The council should devote itself to placating all Christian princes in order that the arms of the Christian world might be turned against the flagrant enemy of Christ, Mohammed. The council then declared the adherents of the Pisan conventicle schismatics and laid France under the interdict. Julius, who listened to the eloquent address, was present at 4 sessions.
At the 2d session, Cajetan dilated at length on the pet papal theory of the two swords.
In the 4th session, the Venetian, Marcello, pronounced a eulogy upon Julius which it would be hard to find excelled for fulsome flattery in the annals of oratory. After having borne intolerable cold, so the eulogist declared, and sleepless nights and endured sickness in the interests of the Church, and having driven the French out of Italy, there remained for the pontiff the greater triumphs of peace. Julius must be pastor, shepherd, physician, ruler, administrator and, in a word, another God on earth.839
At the 5th session, held during the pope’s last illness, a bull was read, severely condemning simony at papal elections. The remaining sessions of the council were held under Julius’ successor.
When Julius came to die, he was not yet 70. No man of his time had been an actor in so many stirring scenes. On his death-bed he called for Paris de Grassis, his master of ceremonies, and reminded him how little respect had been paid to the bodies of deceased popes within his recollection. Some of them had been left indecently nude. He then made him promise to see to it that he should have decent care and burial.840 The cardinals were summoned. The dying pontiff addressed them first in Latin, and implored them to avoid all simony in the coming election, and reminded them that it was for them and not for the council to choose his successor. He pardoned the schismatic cardinals, but excluded them from the conclave to follow his death. And then, as if to emphasize the tie of birth, he changed to Italian and besought them to confirm his nephew, the duke of Urbino, in the possession of Pesaro, and then he bade them farewell. A last remedy, fluid gold, was administered, but in vain. He died Feb. 20, 1513.841
The scenes which ensued were very different from those which followed upon the death of Alexander VI. A sense of awe and reverence filled the city. The dead pontiff was looked upon as a patriot, and his services to civil order in Rome and its glory counterbalanced his deficiencies as a priest of God.842
It was of vast profit that the Vatican had been free from the domestic scandals which had filled it so long. From a worldly standpoint, Julius had exalted the papal throne to the eminence of the national thrones of Europe. In the terrific convulsion which Luther’s onslaughts produced, the institution of the papacy might have fallen in ruins had not Julius re-established it by force of arms. But in vain will the student look for signs that Julius II. had any intimation of the new religious reforms which the times called for and Luther began. What measures this pope, strong in will and bold in execution, might have employed if the movement in the North had begun in his day, no one can surmise. The monk of Erfurt walked the streets of Rome during this pontificate for the first and only time. While Luther was ascending the scala santa on his knees and running about to the churches, wishing his parents were in purgatory that he might pray them out, Julius was having perfected a magnificently jewelled tiara costing 200,000 ducats, which he put on for the first time on the anniversary of his coronation, 1511. These two men, both of humble beginnings, would have been more a match for each other than Luther and Julius’ successor, the Medici, the man of luxurious culture.843
Under Julius II. the papal finances flourished. Great as were the expenditures of his campaigns, he left plate and coin estimated to be worth 400,000 ducats. A portion of this fund was the product of the sale of indulgences. He turned the forgiveness of sins for the present time and in purgatory into a matter of merchandise.844
In another place, Julius will be presented from the standpoint of art and culture, whose splendid patron he was. What man ever had the privilege of bringing together three artists of such consummate genius as Bramante, Michael Angelo and Raphael! His portrait in the Pitti gallery, Florence, forms a rich study for those who seek in the lines and colors of Raphael’s art the secret of the pontiff’s power.845 The painter has represented Julius as an old man with beard, and with his left hand grasping the arm of the chair in which he sits. His fingers wear jewelled rings. The forehead is high, the lips firmly pressed, the eyes betokening weariness, determination and commanding energy.
In the history of the Western Continent, Julius also has some place. In 1504 he created an archbishopric and two bishoprics of Hispaniola, or Hayti. The prelates to whom they were assigned never crossed the seas. Seven years later, 1511, he revoked these creations and established the sees of San Domingo and Concepcion de la Vega on the island of Hayti and the see of San Juan in Porto Rico, all three subject to the metropolitan supervision of the see of Seville.
§ 56. Leo X. 1513–1521.
The warlike Julius II. was followed on the pontifical throne by the voluptuary, Leo X.,—the prelate whose iron will and candid mind compel admiration by a prince given to the pursuit of pleasure and an adept in duplicity. Leo loved ease and was without high aims. His Epicurean conception of the supreme office of Christendom was expressed in a letter he sent a short time after his election to his brother Julian. In it were these words, "Let us enjoy the papacy, for God has given it to us."846 The last pontificate of the Middle Ages corresponded to the worldly philosophy of the pontiff. Leo wanted to have a good time. . The idea of a spiritual mission never entered his head. No effort was made, emanating from the Vatican, to further the interests of true religion.
Born in Florence, Dec. 11, 1475, Giovanni de’ Medici, the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, had every opportunity which family distinction, wealth and learned tutors, such as Poliziano, could give. At 7 he received the tonsure, and at once the world of ecclesiastical preferment was opened to the child. Louis XI. of France presented him with the abbey of Fonte Dolce, and at 8 he was nominated to the archbishopric of Aix, the nomination, however, not being confirmed. A canonry in each of the cathedral churches of Tuscany was set apart for him, and his appointments soon reached the number of 27, one of them being the abbacy of Monte Cassino, and another the office of papal pronotary.847
The highest dignities of the Church were in store for the lad and, before he had reached the age of 14, he was made cardinal-deacon by Innocent VIII., March 9, 1489. Three years later, March 8, 1492, Giovanni received in Rome formal investment into the prerogatives of his office. The letter, which Lorenzo wrote on this latter occasion, is full of the affectionate counsels of a father and the prudent suggestions of the tried man of the world, and belongs in a category with the letters of Lord Chesterfield to his son. Lorenzo reminded Giovanni of his remarkable fortune in being made a prince of the church, all the more remarkable because he was not only the youngest member of the college of cardinals, but the first cardinal to receive the dignity at so tender an age. With pardonable pride, he spoke of it as the highest honor ever conferred upon the Medicean house. He warned his son that Rome was the sink of all iniquities and exhorted him to lead a virtuous life, to avoid ostentation, to rise early, an admonition the son never followed, and to use his opportunities to serve his native city. Lorenzo died a few months later.848 Forthwith the young prelate was appointed papal legate to Tuscany, with residence in his native city.
When Julius died, Giovanni de’ Medici was only 37. In proceeding to Rome, he was obliged to be carried in a litter, on account of an ulcer for which an operation was performed during the meeting of the conclave. Giovanni, who belonged to the younger party, had won many friends by his affable manners and made no enemies, and his election seems to have been secured without any special effort on his part. The great-grandson of the banker, Cosimo, chose the name of Leo X. He was consecrated to the priesthood March 17, 1513, and to the episcopate March 19. The election was received by the Romans with every sign of popular approval. On the festivities of the coronation 100,000 ducats, or perhaps as much as 150,000 ducats, were expended, a sum which the frugality of Julius had stored up.
The procession was participated in by 250 abbots, bishops and archbishops. Alfonso of Este, whom Julius II. had excommunicated, led the pope’s white horse, the same one he had ridden the year before at Ravenna. On the houses and
[picture with title below]
Pope Leo X
on the arches, spanning the streets, might be seen side by side statues of Cosmas and Damian, the patrons of the Medicean house, and of the Olympian gods and nymphs. On one arch at the Piazza di Parione were depicted Perseus, Apollo, Moses and Mercury, sacred and mythological characters conjoined, as Alexander Severus joined the busts of Abraham and Orpheus in his palace in the third century. A bishop, afterwards Cardinal Andrea della Valle, placed on his arch none but ancient divinities, Apollo, Bacchus, Mercury, Hercules and Venus, together with fauns and Ganymede. Antonio of San Marino, the silversmith, decorated his house with a marble statue of Venus, under which were inscribed the words—
Mars ruled; then Pallas, but Venus will rule forever.849
As a ruler, Leo had none of the daring and strength of his predecessor. He pursued a policy of opportunism and stooped to the practice of duplicity with his allies as well as with his enemies. On all occasions he was ready to shift to the winning side. To counteract the designs of the French upon Northern Italy, he entered with Maximilian, Henry VIII. and Ferdinand of Spain into the treaty of Mechlin, April 5, 1513. He had the pleasure of seeing the French beaten by Henry VIII. at the battle of the Spurs850 and again driven out of Italy by the bravery of the Swiss at Novara, June 6. Louis easily yielded to the pope’s advances for peace and acknowledged the authority of the Lateran council. The deposed cardinals, Carvajal and Sanseverino, who had been active in the Pisan council, signed a humiliating confession and were reinstated. Leo remarked to them that they were like the sheep in the Gospel which was lost and was found. A secret compact, entered into between the pontiff and King Louis, and afterwards joined by Henry VIII., provided for the French king’s marriage with Mary Tudor, Henry’s younger sister, and the recognition of his claims in Northern Italy. But at the moment these negotiations were going on, Leo was secretly engaged in the attempt to divorce Venice from the French and to defeat the French plans for the reoccupation of Milan. Louis’ career was suddenly cut short by death, Jan. 1, 1515, at the age of 52, three months after his nuptials with Mary, who was sixteen at the time of her marriage.
The same month Leo came to an understanding with Maximilian and Spain, whereby Julian de’ Medici, the pope’s brother, should receive Parma, Piacenza and Reggio. Leo purchased Modena from the emperor for 40,000 ducats, and was sending 60,000 ducats monthly for the support of the troops of his secret allies.
At the very same moment, faithless to his Spanish allies, the pope was carrying on negotiations with Venice to drive them out of Italy.
Louis’ son-in-law and successor, Francis I., a warlike and enterprising prince, held the attention of Europe for nearly a quarter of a century with his campaigns against Charles V., whose competitor he was for the imperial crown. Carrying out Louis’ plans, and accompanied by an army of 35,000 men with 60 cannon, he marched in the direction of Milan, inflicting at Marignano, Sept., 1515, a disastrous defeat upon the 20,000 Swiss mercenaries.851 At the first news of the disaster, Leo was thrown into consternation, but soon recovered his composure, exclaiming in the presence of the Venetian ambassador, "We shall have to put ourselves into the hands of the king and cry out for mercy." The victory, was the reply, "will not inure to your hurt or the damage of the Apostolic see. The French king is a son of the Church." And so it proved to be. Without a scruple, as it would seem, the pope threw off his alliances with the emperor and Ferdinand and hurried to get the best terms he could from Francis.
They met at Bologna. Conducted by 20 cardinals, Francis entered Leo’s presence and, uncovering his head, bowed three times and kissed the pontiff’s hand and foot. Leo wore a tiara glittering with gems, and a mantle, heavy with cloth of gold. The French orator set forth how the French kings from time immemorial had been protectors of the Apostolic see, and how Francis had crossed the mountains and rivers to show his submission. For three days pontiff and king dwelt together in the same palace. It was agreed that Leo yield up Parma and Piacenza to the French, and a concordat was worked out which took the place of the Pragmatic Sanction. This document, dating from the Council of Basel, and ratified by the synod of Bourges, placed the nomination to all French bishoprics, abbeys and priories in the hands of the king, and this clause the concordat preserved. On the other hand, the clauses in the Pragmatic Sanction were omitted which made the pope subject to general councils and denied to him the right to collect annates from French benefices higher and lower.
The election of a successor to the emperor Maximilian, who died Jan., 1519, put Leo’s diplomacy to the severest test. Ferdinand the Catholic, who had seen the Moorish domination in Spain come to an end and the Americas annexed to his crown, and had been invested by Julius II. in 1510 with the kingdom of Naples, died in 1516, leaving his grandson, Charles, heir to his dominions. Now, by the death of his paternal grandfather Maximilian, Charles was heir of the Netherlands and the lands of the Hapsburgs and natural claimant of the imperial crown. Leo preferred Francis, but Charles had the right of lineage and the support of the German people. To prevent Charles’ election, and to avoid the ill-will of Francis, he agitated through his legate, Cajetan, the election of either Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony, or the elector of Brandenburg. Secretly he entered into the plans of Francis and allowed the archbishops of Treves and Cologne to be assured of their promotion to the sacred college, provided they would cast their electoral vote for the French king. But to be sure of his ground, no matter who might be elected, Leo entered also into a secret agreement with Charles. Both candidates had equal reason for believing they had the pope on their side.852 Finally, when it became evident that Francis was out of the race, and after the electors had already assembled in Frankfurt, Leo wrote to Cajetan that it was no use beating one’s head against the wall and that he should fall in with the election of Charles. Leo had stipulated 100,000 ducats as the price of his support of Charles.853 He sent a belated letter of congratulation to the emperor-elect, which was full of tropical phrases, and in 1521, at the Diet of Worms, the assembly before which Luther appeared, he concluded with Charles an alliance against his former ally, Francis. The agreement included the reduction of Milan, Parma and Piacenza. The news of the success of Charles’ troops in taking these cities reached Leo only a short time before his death, Dec. 1, 1521. For the cause of Protestantism, the papal alliance with the emperor against France proved to be highly favorable, for it necessitated the emperor’s absence from Germany.
In his administration of the papacy, Leo X. was not unmindful of the interests of his family. Julian, his younger brother, was made gonfalonier of the Church, and was married to the sister of Francis I.’s mother. For a time he was in possession of Parma, Piacenza and Reggio. Death terminated his career, 1516. His only child, the illegitimate Hippolytus, d. 1535, was afterwards made cardinal.
The worldly hopes of the Medicean dynasty now centred in Lorenzo de’ Medici, the son of Leo’s older brother. After the deposition of Julius’ nephew, he was invested with the duchy of Urbino. In 1518 he was married to Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, a member of the royal house of France. Leo’s presents to the marital pair were valued at 300,000 ducats, among them being a bedstead of tortoise-shell inlaid with mother-of-pearl and precious stones. They took up their abode at Florence, but both husband and wife died a year after the marriage, leaving behind them a daughter who, as Catherine de’ Medici, became famous in the history of France and the persecution of the Huguenots. With Lorenzo’s death, the last descendant of the male line of the house founded by Cosimo de’ Medici became extinct.
In 1513 Leo admitted his nephew, Innocent Cibo, and his cousin, Julius, to the sacred college. Innocent Cibo, a young man of 21, was the son of Franceschetto Cibo, Innocent VIII.’s son, and Maddelina de’ Medici, Leo’s sister. His low morals made him altogether unfit for an ecclesiastical dignity. Julius de’ Medici, afterwards Clement VII., was the bastard son of Leo’s uncle, who was killed in the Pazzi conspiracy under Sixtus IV., 1478. The impediment of the illegitimate birth was removed by a papal decree.854 Two nephews, Giovanni Salviati and Nicolas Ridolfi, sons of two of Leo’s sisters, were also vested with the red hat, 1517. On this occasion Leo appointed no less than thirty-one cardinals. Among them were Cajetan, the learned general of the Dominicans, Aegidius of Viterbo, who had won an enviable fame by his address opening the Lateran council, and Adrian of Utrecht, Leo’s successor in the papal chair. Of the number was Alfonso of Portugal, a child of 7, but it was understood he was not to enter upon the duties of his office till he had reached the age of 14. Among the other appointees were princes entirely unworthy of any ecclesiastical office.855
The Vatican was thrown into a panic in 1517 by a conspiracy directed by Cardinal Petrucci of Siena, one of the younger set of cardinals with whom the pope had been intimate. Embittered by Leo’s interference in his brother’s administration of Siena and by the deposition of the duke of Urbino, Petrucci plotted to have the pope poisoned by a physician, Battesta de Vercelli, a specialist on ulcers. The plot was discovered, and Petrucci, who came to Rome on a safe-conduct procured from the pope by the Spanish ambassador, was cast into the Marroco, the deepest dungeon of S. Angelo. On being reminded of the safe-conduct, Leo replied to the ambassador that no one was safe who was a poisoner. Cardinals Sauli and Riario were entrapped and also thrown into the castle-dungeons. Two other cardinals were suspected of being in the plot, but escaped. Petrucci and the physician were strangled to death; Riario and Sauli were pardoned. Riario, who had witnessed the dastardly assassination in the cathedral of Florence 40 years before, was the last prominent representative of the family of Sixtus IV. Torture brought forth the confession that the plotters contemplated making him pope. Leo set the price of the cardinal’s absolution high,—150,000 ducats to be paid in a year, and another 150,000 to be paid by his relatives in case Riario left his palace. He finally secured the pope’s permission to leave Rome, and died, 1521, at Naples.
One of the sensational pageants which occurred during Leo’s pontificate was on the arrival of a delegation from Portugal, 1514, to announce to the pope the obedience of its king, Emmanuel. The king sent a large number of presents, among them horses from Persia, a young panther, two leopards and a white elephant. The popular jubilation over the procession of the wild beasts reached its height when the elephant, taking water into his proboscis, spurted it over the onlookers.856 In recognition of the king’s courtesy, the pope vested in Portugal all the lands west of Capes Bojador and Non to the Indies.
The Fifth Lateran resumed its sessions in April, 1513, a month after Leo’s election. The council ratified the concordat with France, and at the 8th session, Dec. 19, 1513, solemnly affirmed the doctrine of the soul’s immortality.857 The affirmation was called forth by the scepticism of the Arabic philosophers and the Italian pantheists. A single vote recorded against the decree came from the bishop of Bergamo, who took the ground that it is not the business of theologians to spend their time sitting in judgment upon the theories of philosophers.
The invention of printing was recognized by the council as a gift from heaven intended for the glory of God and the propagation of good science, but the legitimate printing of books was restricted to such as might receive the sanction of the master of the palace in Rome or, elsewhere, by the sanction of the bishop or inquisitors who were charged with examining the contents of books.858 The condemnation of all books, distasteful to the hierarchy, was already well under way.
The council approved the proposed Turkish crusade and levied a tenth on Christendom. Its collection was forbidden in England by Henry VIII. Cajetan presented the cause in an eloquent address at the Diet of Augsburg, 1518. Altogether the most significant of the council’s deliverances was the bull, Pater aeternus, labelled as approved by its authority and sent out by Leo, 1516.859 Here the position is reaffirmed—the position taken definitely by Pius II. and Sixtus IV.—that it is given to the Roman pontiff to have authority over all Church councils and to appoint, transfer and dissolve them at will. This famous deliverance expressly renewed and ratified the constitution of Boniface VIII., the Unam sanctam, asserting it to be altogether necessary to salvation for all Christians to be subject to the Roman pontiff.860 To this was added the atrocious declaration that disobedience to the pope is punishable with death. Innocent III. had quoted Deut. 17:12 in favor of this view, falsifying the translation of the Vulgate, which he made to read, "that whoever does not submit himself to the judgment of the high-priest, him shall the judge put to death." The council, in separating the quotations, falsely derived it from the Book of the Kings.861
Nor should it be overlooked that in his bull the infallible Leo X. certified to a falsehood when he expressly declared that the Fathers, in the ancient councils, in order to secure confirmation for their decrees, "humbly begged the pope’s approbation." This he affirmed of the councils of Nice, 325, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople, 680, and Nice, 787. 214 years before, when Boniface VIII. issued his bull, Philip the Fair was at hand to resist it. The French sovereign now on the throne, Francis I., made no dissent. The concordat had just been ratified by the council.
The council adjourned March 16, 1517, a bare majority of two votes being for adjournment. Writers of Gallican sympathies have denied its oecumenical character. On the other hand, Cardinal Hergenröther regrets that the Church has taken a position to it of a stepmother to her child. Pastor says there was already legislation enough before the Fifth Lateran sat to secure all the reforms needed. Not laws but action was required. Funk expresses the truth when he says, what the council did for Church reform is hardly worth noting down.862
In passing judgment upon Leo X., the chief thing to be said is that he was a worldling. Religion was not a serious matter with him. Pleasure was his daily concern, not piety. He gave no earnest thought to the needs of the Church. It would scarcely be possible to lay more stress upon this feature in the life of Louis XIV., or Charles II., than does Pastor in his treatment of Leo’s career. Reumont863 says it did not enter Leo’s head that it was the task and duty of the papacy to regenerate itself, and so to regenerate Christendom. Leo’s personal habits are not a matter of conjecture. They lie before us in a number of contemporary descriptions. In his reverend regard for the papal office, Luther did Leo an unintentional injustice when he compared him to Daniel among the lions. The pope led the cardinals in the pursuit of pleasure and in extravagance in the use of money. To one charge, unchasteness, Leo seems not to have exposed himself. How far this was a virtue, or how far it was forced upon him by nature, cannot be said.
The qualities, with which nature endowed him, remained with him to the end. He was good-humored, affable and accessible. He was often found playing chess or cards with his cardinals. At the table he was usually temperate, though he spent vast sums in the entertainment of others. He kept a monk capable of swallowing a pigeon at one mouthful and 40 eggs at a sitting. To his dress he gave much attention, and delighted to adorn his fingers with gems.
The debt art owes to Leo X. may be described in another place. Rome became what Paris afterwards was, the centre of luxury, art and architectural improvement. The city grew with astonishing rapidity. "New buildings," said an orator, "are planted every day. Along the Tiber and on the Janicular hill new sections arise." Luigi Gradenigo, the Venetian ambassador, reports that in the ten years following Leo’s election, 10,000 buildings had been put up by persons from Northern Italy. The palaces of bankers, nobles and cardinals were filled with the richest furniture of the world. Artists were drawn from France and Spain as well as Italy, and every kind of personality who could afford amusement to others.
The Vatican was the resort of poets, musicians, artists, and also of actors and buffoons. Leo joined in their conversation and laughed at their wit. He even vied with the poets in making verses off-hand. Musical instruments ornamented with gold and silver he purchased in Germany. With almost Oriental abandon he allowed himself to be charmed with entertainments of all sorts.
Among Leo’s amusements the chase took a leading place, though it was forbidden by canonical law to the clergy. Fortunately for his reputation, he was not bound, as pope, by canon law. As Louis XIV. said, "I am the state," so the pope might have said, "I am the canon law." Portions of the year he passed booted and spurred. He fished in the lake of Bolsena and other waters. He takes an inordinate pleasure in the chase, wrote the Venetian ambassador. He hunted in the woods of Viterbo and Nepi and in the closer vicinity of Rome, but with most pleasure at his hunting villa, Magliana. He reserved for his own use a special territory. The hunting parties were often large.864 At a meet, prepared by Alexander Farnese, the pope found himself in the midst of 18 cardinals, besides other prelates, musicians, actors and servants. A pack of sixty or seventy dogs aided the hunters. Magliana was five miles from Rome, on the Tiber. This favorite pleasure castle is now a desolate farmhouse. In strange contrast to his own practice, the pope, at the appeal of the king of Portugal, forbade the privileges of the chase to the Portuguese clergy.
The theatre was another passion to which Leo devoted himself. He attended plays in the palaces of the cardinals and rich bankers and in S. Angelo, and looked on as they were performed in the Vatican itself. Bibbiena, one of the favorite members of his cabinet, was a writer of salacious comedies. One of these, the Calandria, Leo witnessed performed in 1514 in his palace. The ballet was freely danced in some of these plays, as in the lascivious Suppositi by Ariosto, played before the pope in S. Angelo on Carnival Sunday. Another of the plays was the Mandragola, by Machiavelli, to modern performances of which in Florence young people are not admitted.865 An account given of one of these plays by the ambassador of Ferrara, Paolucci, represented a girl pleading with Venus for a lover. At once, eight monks appeared on the scene in their gray mantles. Venus bade the girl give them a potion. Amor then awoke the sleepers with his arrow. The monks danced round Amor and made love to the girl. At last they threw aside their monastic garb and all joined in a moresca. On the girl’s asking what they could do with their arms, they fell to fighting, and all succumbed except one, and he received the girl as the prize of his prowess.866 And Leo was the high-priest of Christendom, the professed successor of Peter the Apostle!
Festivities of all sorts attracted the attention of the good-natured pope. With 14 cardinals he assisted at the marriage of the rich Sienese banker, Agostino Chigi, to his mistress. The entertainment was given at Chigi’s beautiful house, the Farnesina. This man was considered the most fortunate banker of his day in Rome. The kings of Spain and France and princes of Germany sent him presents, and sought from him loans. Even the sultan was said to have made advances for his friendship. His income was estimated at 70,000 ducats a year, and he left behind him 800,000 ducats. This Croesus was only fifty-five when death separated him from his fortune. At one of his banquets, the gold plates were thrown through the windows into the Tiber after they were used at the table, but fortunately they were saved from loss by being caught in a net which had been prepared for them. On another occasion, when Leo and 18 cardinals were present, each found his own coat-of-arms on the silver dishes he used. At Agostino’s marriage festival, Leo held the bride’s hand while she received the ring on one of her fingers. The pontiff then baptized one of Chigi’s illegitimate children. Cardinals were not ashamed to dine with representatives of the demi-monde, as at a banquet given by the banker Lorenzo Strozzi.867 But in scandals of this sort Alexander’s pontificate could not well be outdone.
With the easy unconcern of a child of the world, spoiled by fortune, the light-hearted de’ Medici went on his way as if the resources of the papal treasury were inexhaustible. Julius was a careful financier. Leo’s finances were managed by incompetent favorites.868 In 1517 his annual income is estimated to have been nearly 600,000 ducats. Of this royal sum, 420,000 ducats were drawn from state revenues and mines. The alum deposits at Tolfa yielded 40,000; Ravenna and the salt mines of Cervia, 60,000; the river rents in Rome, 60,000; and the papal domains of Spoleto, Ancona and the Romagna, 150,000. According to another contemporary, the papal exchequer received 160,000 ducats from ecclesiastical sources. The vendable offices at the pope’s disposal at the time of his death numbered 2,150, yielding the enormous yearly income of 328,000 ducats.869
Two years after Leo assumed the pontificate, the financial problem was already a serious one. All sorts of measures had to be invented to increase the papal revenues and save the treasury from hopeless bankruptcy. By augmenting the number of the officials of the Tiber—porzionari di ripa — from 141 to 612, 286,000 ducats were secured. The enlargement of the colleges of the cubiculari and scudieri, officials of the Vatican, brought in respectively 90,000 and 112,000 ducats more. From the erection of the order of the Knights of St. Peter,—cavalieri di San Pietro,—with 401 members, the considerable sum of 400,000 ducats was realized, 1,000 ducats from each knight. The sale of indulgences did not yield what it once did, but the revenue from this source was still large.870 The highest ecclesiastical offices were for sale, as in the reign of Alexander. Cardinal Innocent Cibo paid 30,000 ducats or, at; another report went, 40,000, for his hat, and Francesco Armellini bought his for twice that amount.871
The shortages were provided for by resort to the banker and the usurer and to rich cardinals. Loan followed loan. Not only were the tapestries of the Vatican and the silver plate given as securities, but ecclesiastical benefices, the gems of the papal tiara and the rich statues of the saints were put in pawn. Sometimes the pope paid 20 per cent for sums of 10,000 ducats and over.872 It occasions no surprise that Leo’s death was followed by a financial collapse, and a number of cardinals passed into bankruptcy, including Cardinal Pucci, who had lent the pope 150,000 ducats. From the banker, Bernado Bini, Leo had gotten 200,000 ducats. His debts were estimated as high as 800,000 ducats. It was a common joke that Leo squandered three pontificates, the legacy Julius left and the revenues of his successor’s pontificate, as well as the income of his own.
For the bankers and all sorts of money dealers the Medicean period was a flourishing time in Rome. No less than 30 Florentines are said to have opened banking institutions in the city, and, at the side of the Fuggers and Welsers, did business with the curia. The Florentines found it to be a good thing to have a Medicean pope, and swarmed about the Vatican as the Spaniards had done in the good days of Calixtus III. and Alexander VI., the Sienese, during the reign of Pius II., and the Ligurians while Sixtus IV. of Savona was pope. They stormed the gates of patronage, as if all the benefices of the Church were intended for them.873
Leo’s father, Lorenzo, said of his three sons that Piero was a fool, Giuliano was good and Giovanni shrewd. The last characterization was true to the facts. Leo X. was shrewd, the shrewdness being of the kind that succeeds in getting temporary personal gain, even though it be by the sacrifice of high and accessible ends. His amiability and polish of manners made him friends and secured for him the tiara. He was not altogether a degenerate personality like Alexander VI., capable of all wickedness. But his outlook never went beyond his own pleasures. The Vatican was the most luxurious court in Europe; it performed no moral service for the world. The love of art with Leo was the love of color, of outline, of beauty such as a Greek might have had, not a taste controlled by regard for spiritual grace and aims. In his treatment of the European states and the Italian cities, his diplomacy was marked by dissimulation as despicable as any that was practised by secular courts. Without a scruple be could solemnly make at the same moment contradictory pledges. Perfidy seemed to be as natural to him as breath.874
At the same time, Leo followed the rubrics of religion. He fasted, so it is reported, three times a week, abstained from meat on Wednesday and Friday, daily read his Breviary and was accustomed before mass to seek absolution from his confessor. But he was without sanctity, without deep religious conviction. The issues of godliness had no appreciable effect upon him in the regulation of his habits. Even in his patronage of art and culture, he forgot or ignored Ariosto, Machiavelli, Guicciardini and Erasmus. What a noble substitution it would have been, if these men had found welcome in the Vatican, and the jesters and buffoons and gormandizers been relegated to their proper place! The high-priest of the Christian world is not to be judged in the same terms we would apply to a worldly prince ruling in the closing years of the Middle Ages. The Vatican, Leo turned into a house of revelling and frivolity, the place of all others where the step and the voice of the man of God should have been heard. The Apostle, whom he had been taught to regard as his spiritual ancestor, accomplished his mission by readiness to undergo, if necessary, martyrdom. Leo despoiled his high office of its sacredness and prostituted it into a vehicle of his own carnal propensities. Had he followed the advice of his princely father, man of the world though he was, Leo X. would have escaped some of the reprobation which attaches to his name.
There is no sufficient evidence that Leo ever used the words ascribed to him, "how profitable that fable of Christ has been to us."875 Such blasphemy we prefer not to associate with the de’ Medici. Nevertheless, no sharper condemnation of one claiming to be Christ’s vicar on earth could well be thought of than that which is carried by the words of Sarpi, the Catholic historian of the Council of Trent,876 who said, "Leo would have been a perfect pope, if he had combined with his other good qualities a moderate knowledge of religion and a greater inclination to piety, for neither of which he shewed much concern." Before Leo’s death, the papacy had lost a part of its European constituency, and that part which, in the centuries since, has represented the furthest progress of civilization. The bull which this pontiff hurled at Martin Luther, 1520, was consumed into harmless ashes at Wittenberg, ashes which do not speak forth from the earth as do the ashes of John Huss. To the despised Saxon miner’s son, the Protestant world looks back for the assertion of the right to study the Scriptures, a matter of more importance than all the circumstance and rubrics of papal office and sacerdotal functions. Not seldom has it occurred that the best gifts to mankind have come, not through a long heritage of prerogatives but through the devotion of some agent of God humbly born. It seemed as if Providence allowed the papal office at the close of the mediaeval age to be filled by pontiffs spiritually unworthy and morally degenerate, that it might be known for all time that it was not through the papacy the Church was to be reformed and brought out of its mediaeval formalism and scholasticism. What popes had refused to attempt, another group of men with no distinction of office accomplished.
* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.
721 Among other youthful appointments to the dignity of cardinal are Jacinto Bobo, afterwards Coelestine III., at 18, by Honorius III., 1126; Peter Roger, afterwards Gregory XI., at 17, Hercules Gonzaga, by Clement VII., at 22; Alexander Farnese, by his uncle, Paul III., at 14, who also appointed his grandsons, Guida Sforza at 16 and Ranucio Farnese at 15; two nephews, at the ages of 14 and 21, by Julius III., d. 1555, and also Innocent del Monte at 17; Ferdinand del Medici at 14, by Pius IV., d. 1565; Andrew and Albert of Austria, sons of Maximilian II., at 18, by Gregory XIII., and Charles of Loraine at 16; Alexander Peretti at 14, by his uncle, Sixtus V., d. 1590; two nephews at 18, by Innocent IX., d. 1591; Maurice of Savoy at 14, and Ferdinand, son of the king of Spain, at 10, by Paul V., d. 1621; a nephew at 17, by Innocent X., d. 1655; a son of the king of Spain, by Clement XII., d. 1740.
722 Papstthum, p. 192.
723 Pastor heads his chapter on Nicolas with the caption Nicolas V., der Begründer des päpstlichen Maecenats.
724 Pastor, I 417 sq., emphasizes these consequences of the Jubilee Year.
725 Infessura, p. 48; Platina, II. 242; Aeneas: Hist. Frid. 172; Ilgen’s trans., I. 214.
726 Infessura, p. 52, says that language could not exaggerate Leonora’s beauty, bella quanto si potesse dire. Aeneas, Hist. Frid., 265, speaks of her dark complexion, jet-black and lustrous eyes, her soft red cheeks, her intelligent expression, and her snow-white neck, "in every particular a charming person."
727 Hist. Frid., 294; Ilgen, II. 84 sq. Aeneas gives the alternate reason for the hospitality shown to his master.
728 The crown used on the occasion was reputed to be the one used by Charlemagne which Sigismund had removed to Nürnberg. Aeneas, with his usual journalistic love of detail, noticed the Bohemian lion of Charles IV. engraven on the sword, which also was brought from Nürnberg.
729 Aeneas, p. 303, who is scrupulous in stating from time to time that Frederick and Leonora lodged in different palaces or tents, now gives a detailed account of the circumstances attending their first lodging together as man and wife in Naples. The account is such as we might expect from Boccaccio and not from a prelate of the Church, but Aeneas’ own record fitted him for entering with pruriency into realistic details. They are characteristic of the times and of Spanish customs.
730 Pastor, I. 588 sqq., devotes much space to an attempt to show that Nicolas made an effort to help the Greeks. Infessura blames him for making none.
731 Aeneas wrote, July 12, 1453, to the pope: "Historians of the Roman pontiffs, when they reach your time, will write, ’Nicolas V., a Tuscan, was pope for so many years. He recovered the patrimony of the Church from the hands of tyrants, he gave union to the divided Church, he canonized Bernardino, he built the Vatican and splendidly restored St. Peter’s, he celebrated the Jubilee and crowned Frederick III.’ All this will be obscured by the doleful addition, ’In his time Constantinople was taken and plundered by the Turks.’ Your holiness did what you could. No blame can be justly attached to you. But the ignorance of posterity will blame you when it hears that in your time Constantinople was lost." Gibbon makes the observation that "The pontificate of Nicolas V., however powerful and prosperous, was dishonored by the fall of the Eastern Empire," ch. LXVIII. It was not within Nicolas’ power to avert the disaster.
732 His epitaph is given by Mirbt, p. 169.
733 Mansi, XXXII. 159 sq.
734 Pastor, I. 747, says ein solches Verfahren war unerhört, it was an unheard-of procedure.
735 Enea ist seiner Tage nie gegen den Strom geschwommen. Haller In Quellen, etc., IV. 83.
736 London he found the most populous and wealthy city he had seen. Scotland he described as a cold, barren, and treeless country.
737 Libellus dialogorum de generalis concilii auctoritate.
738 Aeneas aided Chancellor Schlick in some of his love adventures, and described one of them in the much-read novel, Eurialus et Lucretia. His letters from 1444 on, show a desire to give up the world. He declared he had had enough of Venus, but he also wrote that Venus evaded him more than he shrank from her. He seems to have passed into a condition of physical infirmity, and to have been forced to abandon his immoral courses. He, however, also indicates he had begun to be actuated by feelings of penitence, whether from motives of policy or religion cannot be made out. Gregorovius, VII. 165, combines the inconsistent passages from Pius, letters when he says that, after long striving to renounce the pleasures of the world, exhaustion and incipient disease facilitated the task.
739 The election was by the accessus, that is, after the written ballot was found to be indecisive, the cardinals changed their votes by word of mouth. See Hergenröther, Kath. Kirchenrecht, p. 273.
740 Mansi, XXXII. 207-222.
741 Gregorovius, VII. 184. His tract Admonitio de injustis usurpationibus paparum rom. ad imperatorem ... sive confutatio primatus papae, and other tracts by Heimburg, are given in Goldast, Monarchia. See art. Gregor v. Heimburg, by Tschackert in Herzog, VII. 133-135, and for quotations, Gieseler.
742 A full translation of the letter is given by Gregorovius in Lucrez. Borgia, p. 7 sq.
743 Mansi, XXXII. 259 sq.; Mirbt, p. 169 sq.
744 Mansi, XXXII. 195-203. Gieseler quotes at length. Aeneas had written a letter to the rector of the Univ. of Cologne with the same import, Oct. 13, 1447.
745 The same time that Pius issued his bull of retractation, Gabriel Biel, called the last of the Schoolmen, issued his tract on Obedience to the Apostolic see, taking the same ground that Pius took.
746 Pastor, II. 233-236, and Creighton, II. 436-438, give elaborate accounts of this curious piece of superstition.
747 Creighton, II. 491. Pastor, II. 28-31, makes a belabored effort to remove in part this stigma, and excuses Pius II. by the lack of funds from which he suffered and his engrossment in the affairs of the papacy. Pius chartered the universities of Nantes, Ingolstadt and Basel.
748 Hist. rerum ubique gestarum cum locorum descriptione non finita, Venice, 1477, in the Opera, Basel, 1551, etc.
749 Voigt and Benrath are severe upon Pius II., and regard the religious attitude of his later years as insincere and the crusade as dictated by a love of fame. Gregorovius’ characterization is one of the least satisfactory of that impartial historian’s pen. He says, "There was nothing great in him. Endowed with fascinating gifts, this man of brilliant parts possessed no enthusiasms," etc., VII. 164. Pastor passes by the failings of Aeneas’ earlier life with a single sentence, but gives, upon the whole, the most discriminating estimate. He sees only moral force in his advocacy of the crusade, and pronounces him, with Nicolas V., the most notable of the popes of the 15th century.
750 The document Is given by Raynaldus and Gieseler.
751 Pastor, II. 307, fully justifies Paul for setting aside the pact on the ground that every pope gets plenary authority directly from God.
752 Hergenröther: Kath. Kirchenrecht, p. 299
753 Jacob Volaterra in Muratori, new ed., XXIII. 3, p. 98.
754 Pastor, II. 358 sqq., makes a heroic effort to exempt Paul from the guilt of neglecting the crusade against the Turks. In a letter written by Cardinal Gonzaga, which he prints for the first time (II. 773), the statement is made that Paul was quietly laying aside one-fourth of his income to be used against the Turks. There is no mention of any sum of this kind among the pope’s assets.
755 Patritius in Muratori, XXIII. 205-215.
756 Pastor, II. 347, tries to show that Paul had some mind for humanistic studies. During his pontificate, 1467, the German printers, Schweinheim and Pannarts, set up the first printing-presses in Rome, but not under Paul’s patronage.
757 Infessura, p. 167.
758 A quotation given by Gregorovius, VII. 226, probably exaggerates when it states he filled his house with concubines—ex concubina domum replevit.
759 Et di queste cose lui-si pigliava piacere, p. 69.
760 Den nächst-folgenden Trägern der Tiara schien dieselbe in erster Linie ein Mittel zur Bereicherung und Erhöhung ihrer Familien zu sein. Diesem Zwecke wurde die ganze päpstliche Macht in rücksichtslosester Weise dienstbar gemacht, Hefele-Knöpfler, Kirchengesch., p. 483.
761 Hergenröther-Kirsch, II. 979. These most reputable Catholic historians intimate rather than emphasize this consideration.
762 A useful genealogical tree of the Rovere is given by Creighton, III. 100. Pastor takes no pains to hide his righteous indignation at Sixtus’ exhaustive provision for his relatives,—seine zahlreiche und unwürdige Verwandten, as he calls them.
763 Diario, p. 77. At the chief banquet, the menu comprised wild boars roasted whole, bucks, goats, hares, pheasants, fish, peacocks with their feathers, storks, cranes, and countless fruits and sweetmeats. An artificial mountain of sugar was brought into the dining-chamber, from which a man stepped forth with gestures of surprise at finding himself amid such gorgeous surroundings.
764 Sixtus reared to him a splendid monument in the Church of the Apostles. Peter and his brother Jerome are represented as kneeling and praying to the Madonna. See Pastor, II. 294 sq.
765 So Pastor, II. 535, Gregorovius, VII. 239, Karl Müller, II. 130 and Creighton, III. 75. They all agree that Sixtus knew the details of the plot, and approved them, except in the matter of the murder, which, however, he did not peremptorily forbid.
766 See the account of the legate of Milan, publ. by Pastor, II. 785 sq. Of Sixtus’ connivance at the plot against the Medici, Pastor, II. 541, says, "It calls for deep lament that a pope should play a part in the history of this conspiracy."
767 Infessura, p. 86.
768 Pastor, II. 610 sqq., is very cautious in his remarks on the subject of Sixtus’ indulgences, almost to reticence.
769 Mansi, XXXII. 374 sqq., gives the bull on the immaculate conception dated Sept. 5, 1483; also Mirbt, p. 170.
770 In quo felicissimo die, etc., pp. 155-158.
771 This charge, which Infessura elaborates, Creighton, III. 115, 285, dismisses as unproved; Pastor, II. 640, also, but less confidently. Infessura was a friend of the Colonna, to whom Sixtus was bitterly hostile. Burchard, I. 10 sqq., gives a very detailed account of Sixtus’ obsequies. He spoke from observation as one of the masters of ceremonies. Pastor makes a bold effort to rescue Sixtus from most of the charges made against his character by Infessura.
772 Pastor, III. 178.
773 Burchard, I. 33-55
774 Infessura, p. 177. The Augustinian was thrown into prison for making the remark. Infessura returns again and again, pp. 237 sq., 243, 256 sq., to the reign of crime going on in the city.
775 Infessura gives the case of a father who, after committing incest with his two daughters, murdered them and was set free upon the payment of 800 ducats. Gregorovius, VII. 297, says of the Italian character of the last 30 years of the 15th century that "it displays a trait of diabolical passion. Tyrannicide, conspiracies and deeds of treachery are universal, and criminal selfishness reigns supreme."
776 Funk, Kirchengesch., 373, says, In Rom. schien alles käuflich zu sein.
777 · For the details, see Burchard, I. 365-368.
778 So Marullus in his epigram—
Octo nocens pueros genuit totidemque puellas,
Hunc merito poterit dicere Roma patrem.
Illegitimately he begat 8 boys and girls as many.
Hence Rome deservedly may call him father.
Burchard, I. 321, calls Franceschetto bastardus.
779 Burchard, I. 323, 488. In 1883, the Berlin Museum came into possession of a bust of Theorina bearing the inscription,"Teorina Cibo Inn. VIII. P. M. f. singuli exempli matrona formaeque dignitate conjuaria."
780 Infessura, p. 259 sq. Pastor, III. 269, pronounces Infessura’s statement altogether incredible,—gänzlich unglaubwürdig,—and blames Infessura’s editor, Tommasini, for allowing the statement to pass in his edition without note or comment. Pastor, in his 1st ed., III. 252, had pronounced the statement of the Roman diarist eine ungeheuerliche Behauptung.
781 Totam ab omnibus ejus lateribus lingua sua lambivit. Infessura, p. 263. For the letter of the painter Mantegna to the duke of Mantua and its curious details, June 15, 1489, see Pastor, 1st ed., III. 218. The picture of the Disputation of St. Catherine in the sala dei santi in the Vatican contains a picture of Djem riding a white palfrey. Infessura and Burchard enter with journalistic relish into the details of Djem’s appearance and treatment In Rome.
782 Infessura p. 224, and especially Burchard, I. 482-486, and Sigismondo, II. 25-29, 69, give extended accounts of the honors paid to the piece of iron, the sacratissimum ferreum lanceae. The sultan’s representative, Chamisbuerch, who was also present, was reported to have handed the pope a package containing 40,000 ducats. Sigismondo uses the word spicula, little point, for the lance.
783 Burchard, I. 444 sqq.
784 The harrowing story was told that, at the suggestion of a Jewish physician, the blood of three boys was infused into the dying pontiff’s veins. They were ten years old, and had been promised a ducat each. All three died. The Jewish physician lied. The story is told by Infessura and repeated by Raynaldus. It is pleasant to have Gregorovius, VII. 338, as well as Pastor, III. 275 sq., give it no credence.
785 Pastor, III. 278, says that, "from the moment he received priestly consecration to the end of his life, he was a slave to the demon of sensuality." Hefele-Knöpfler, Kirchengesch., p. 485, speaks of his career before he reached the papal office as having been "very dissolute"—sehr dissolut. Prof. Villari, Machiavelli, I. 279, calls Alexander the worst of the popes, whose "crimes were sufficient to upset any human society." Gregorovius and Pastor have carried on the most notable researches in this period, and rivalled one another in the brilliant description of Alexander’s reign and domestic relations.
786 P. 281. In his despatch to the duchess of Este, published by Pastor, 1st ed., III. 879, Giovanni Boccaccio, bishop of Modena, gives an estimate of Borgia’s ability to pay for the tiara, the vice-chancellorship worth 8,000 ducats, the cities of Nepi and Civita Castellana, abbeys In Aquila and Albano, each worth 1,000 ducats a year, two large abbeys in the kingdom of Naples, the abbey of Sabiaco, worth 2,000 a year., abbeys in Spain, 16 bishoprics in Spain, the see of Porto, worth 1,200 ducats, and numerous other ecclesiastical places.
787 The letter of Cardinal Sforza to his brother, dated 1484, and publ. by Pastor, III. 876, gives a description of his associate’s palace.
788 Sigismondo, II. 53, ascribes to Alexander majestas formae.
789 Burchard, I. 577.
790 Seine Kinder zu erhöhen war sein vorzüglichstes Ziel is the statement of the calm Catholic historian, Funk, p. 373.
791 They are given in Burchard, Supplement to vol. III, and dated Oct. 1, 1480, and Nov. 4, 1481.
792 See W. H. Woodward, Two Bulls of Alex. VI., Sept., 1493, in Engl. Hist. Rev., 1908, pp. 730-734.
793 Vanozza outlived Alexander 15 years, dying 1518. Her epitaph formerly in S. Maria del Popolo reads, Vanotiae Cathanae, Caesare Valentiae, Joane Candiae, Jufredo Scylatii et Lucretiae Ferrariae, ducibus filiis, etc. See Creighton, III. 163, Pastor, III. 279. Pastor says that to deny the authenticity of this inscription as Ollivier does is nothing less than ridiculous—geradezu lächerlich. On Ollivier’s attempt to rehabilitate Alexander, see Pastor’s caustic words in 1st ed., I. 589. Burchard constantly calls Lucretia papae filia, II. 278, 386, 493, etc., and Joffré and the other boys his sons. So also Sigismondo II. 249, 270, etc. The nativity of Pedro Ludovico is not absolutely certain, but it is highly probable that Vanozza was his mother.
794 Gregorovius, Lucrezia Borgia, p. 19, and Appendix, Germ. ed., where the marriage contract of Girolama is given.
795 These two bulls, extant at Mantua and first published by Gregorovius, Lucr. Borgia, Appendix, 76-85, were issued the same day. Burchard, III. 170, calls the child’s mother quaedam Romana. Following Burchard, Gregorovius and Pastor have no doubt that it was Alexander’s own child. Pastor, III. 475, says that the bull is unquestionably genuine. A satire of the year 1500 ascribes to Alexander 3 or 4 children by Julia Farnese. According to Villari, Life of Savonarola, p. 376, note, the Civilta cattolica, the papal organ at Rome, March 15, 1873, acknowledged the existence of Giovanni, as Alexander’s sixth or seventh child.
796 These letters are given in full by Burchard, II. 202 sqq. Alexander’s letters Gregorovius pronounces to be genuine beyond a doubt. The sultan’s are matter of dispute. Ranke discredited them, but Gregorovius regards their contents as genuine, though the form may be spurious. Creighton, III. 300 sqq., gives reasons for accepting them.
797 Dictum Gem levare facere ex angustiisistius mundi et transferre ejus animan in aliud seculum ubi meliorem habebit quietem, Burchard, II. 209.
798 The French left behind them a terrible legacy in the disease which they are said to have carrried during the Crusades and again a century ago, under Napoleon, to Syria, and known as the French disease. See Pastor, III. 7.
799 Burchard’s account of the tragedy, II. 387-390. Gregorovius, VIII. 424, confidently advocates the theory of fratricide. This explains why Alexander dropped the investigation two weeks after it was begun, and why he and Caesar in the first meetings after the event were silent in each other’s presence. However, it is almost too much to believe that Alexander would at once begin to heap honors upon Caesar, as he did, if the father believed him to be the murderer. Roscoe, I. 153 sq., and Pastor discredit the theory of fratricide, to which Creighton, III. 388, also inclines. Don Juan was the only one of the Borgias that founded a family.
800 Burchard, II. 280, 493, filia clarissima, filia jocosa et risoria.
801 Infessura, p. 286 sq., closes his account by saying he would not tell all, lest it might seem incredible. The account of Boccaccio, ambassador of Ferrara, who was present, is given by Gregorov., Lucr. Borgia, pp. 59-61.
802 Alexander had courteously attended a mass for the repose of the soul of his old enemy, Charles, in the Sistine chapel, Burchard, II. 461.
803 Burchard, II. 591-593.
804 Rodrigo, who was baptized in St. Peter’s, Nov. 1, 1499, the 16 cardinals then in Rome, many ambassadors and other dignitaries being present. In 1501 he was invested with the duchy of Sermoneta. Burchard, II. 675, 578; III. 170.
805 Infessura, p. 293.
806 Burchard, III. 236.
807 So Pastor, though with some hesitation, III. 491. Even Creighton, IV. 40, is unwilling to dismiss the charge as groundless. But in another place, p. 265, he seems to contradict himself.
808 Burchard, III. 161 sq.
809 The letter is given in Gregor., Lucr. Borgia, p. 212.
810 The question of whether or no poison was the cause of the pope’s death must be regarded as an open one. This is the view taken by Gregorovius, Roscoe, I. 193 sq., Reumont, Pastor, III. 499. Creighton, IV. 43, and Hergenröther, III. 987, are against the theory of poisoning. Neither Burchard nor the ambassador of Venice speak of poison. The ambassador of Mantua, writing on the 19th, denies the charge, which was freely made on the streets. Ranke, D. röm. Päpste, p. 35, distinctly decides for poisoning. So also Hase, Kirchengesch., III. 353. Many contemporary writers pronounced for poisoning, Guicciardini, Cardinal Bembo, Jovius, Cardinal Aegidius, etc. Alexander’s physician gave as the immediate cause of death apoplexy. Against the theory of poisoning is the fact that Cardinal Hadrian was also taken sick. On the other hand is the evidence that Alexander’s body immediately after death was bloated and disfigured and his mouth was filled with foam, and that Caesar was taken sick at the same time with the same symptoms, a fact which Gregorovius, VII. 521, pronounces the strongest evidence for the theory of poisoning.
811 There is one exception, the address made in the conclave after Alexander’s death by the bishop of Gallipolis. See Garnett’s art. Engl. Hist. Rev., 1892, p. 311 sq., giving the text of the British Museum, the only copy in existence.
812 The duke of Mantua, whose camp was near Rome, wrote to his duchess that seven devils appeared in the pope’s room at the moment of his death, that the body swelled and was dragged from the bed with a cord. Gregorovius, Lucr. Borgia, p. 288.
813 Bishop Creighton, IV. 44, lays stress on the fact that hypocrisy was not added to Alexander’s other vices.
814 Infessura, p. 287.
815 Burchard, III. 167, who reports the wild scene, was reticent about many of the evil happenings in the papal palace. The other authorities for the orgy may be seen in Thuasne’s ed. of Burchard. See also Villari, Machiavelli, I. 538. When we are taken to the square of St. Peter’s, where the pope and the cardinals watched a feat of tight-rope walking, an expert walking with a child in his arms, we may easily applaud or tolerate the recreation, Burchard, III. 210; but the dark furies of evil seem at will to have had mastery over Alexander’s soul.
816 Burchard, III. 110.
817 Mansi, XXXII. 533 sq.
818 Calvin spoke of having been taken as a child by his mother to the abbey of Ourscamp, near Noyon, where a part of St. Anna’s body was preserved, and of having kissed the relic.
819 Decretum de libris non sine censura imprimendis, 1501. Reusch, Index, p. 54.
820 , De nostra mera liberalitate ... auctoritate omnip. Dei, nobis in beato Petro concessa, ac vicariatus J. Christi, qua fungimur in terris. For the bull, see Mirbt, pp. 174-176. Also Fiske, Disc. of Am., I. 454-458; II. 581-593.
821 Pastor, III. 520, seeks to break the force of the charge that Alexander’s gift was a short-sighted piece of work by putting the unnatural interpretation upon donamus et assignamus, that it referred only to what Portugal and Spain had already acquired. But the very wording of the bull makes this impossible, for it is distinctly said that all islands and continents were given to Spain and Portugal which were to be discovered in the future, as well as those which were already discovered—omnes insulas et terras firmas inventas et inveniendas, detectas et detegendas. For the bull of Sept. 26, 1493, giving India to Spain, see Davenport in Am. Hist. Rev., 1909, p. 764 sqq.
822 Hergenröther-Kirsch, II. 987.
823 III. 503
824 Pastor, in the course of prolonged estimates, Gesch. der Päpste, III. pp. vi, 601sq., etc., says: "The life of this voluptuary—Genussmenschen —a man of untamed sensuality, contradicted at every point the demands of him he was called upon to represent. With unrestrained abandon, he gave himself up to a vicious life until his end." Ranke thus expresses himself, Hist. of the Popes, Germ. ed., I. 32. "All his life through, Alexander was bent on nothing else than to enjoy the world, to live pleasurably, to satisfy his passions and ambitions." The estimate of Gregorovius, City of Rome, VII. 525, is this: "No one can ever discover in Alexander’s history any other guiding principle than the contemptible one of aggrandizing his children at any cost. To the despicable objects of nepotism and self-preservation he sacrificed his own conscience, the happiness of nations, the existence of Italy and the good of the Church." Bishop Creighton, IV. 43-49, lays such elaborate emphasis upon Alexander’s knowledge of politics, firmness of purpose and affability of manners that one loses the impression of the baseness of his morals and the sacrilege to which he subjected his office and himself. He seems to have been influenced by Roscoe’s presentation of Alexander’s "many great qualities," I. 195.
825 The Prince, ch. VII.
826 The statue was placed in front of St. Petronio in Bologna. The left hand held neither book nor sword, but the keys. Pastor, III. 569, says,in einer derartigen Persönlichkeit lag mehr Stoff zu einem Könige und Feldherrn als zu einem Priester.
827 The Prince, written in 1515, was dedicated to Leo X.’s nephew, Lorenzo de’ Medici, at a time when it was contemplated giving Lorenzo a large slice of Italian territory to govern. See Villari: Machiavelli, III. 372-424. Also Louis Dyer: Machiavelli and the Modern State, Boston, 1904. Caesar Borgia had his laureate, who sung his praises in 12 Latin lyrics, Peter Franciscus Justulus of Spoleto. Jupiter, who is represented as about to destroy the world for its wickedness, perceives that it contains at least one excellent young man, Caesar, and sends Mercury to urge him to take up arms for the world’s deliverance. Engl. Hist. Rev., Jan., 1902, pp. 15-20.
828 The letter is given by Gregorovius, Lucr. Borgia, p. 319.
829 The expedition is described by de Grassis, the new master of ceremonies at the papal palace, who accompanied the expedition, and also by Aegidius of Viterbo,
830 Pastor, III. 643, contents himself with the simple mention of the absolution of the Venetian’s, and omits all reference to the humiliating conditions. The Venetian scribblers let loose their pens against Julius and, among other charges, made against him the charge of sodomy. Pastor, III. 644, Note.
831 Zwingli’s friend, Thomas Platter (1499-1582), in speaking in his Autobiography of his travels in Germany as a boy to get knowledge and begging his bread, mentions how willing the people were to give him ear, "for they were very fond of the Swiss." At Breslau a family was ready to adopt him partly on this ground. After the defeat of Marigano, 1515, it was a common saying, so Platter says, "The Swiss have lost their good luck." On one occasion near Dresden, after a good dinner, to which he had been treated, he was taken in to see the mother of the home, who was on her death-bed. She said to Platter and his Swiss companions, "I have heard so many good things about the Swiss that I was very anxious to see one before my death." See Whitcomb, Renaissance Source-Book, p. 108; Monroe, Thos. Platter, p. 107.
832 Mansi, XXXII. 555-559.
833 Creighton, IV. 123, unguardedly says that Julius was the first pope who let his beard grow. Many of the early bishops of Rome, as depicted in St. Peter’s, wore beards. So did Clement VII. after him, and other popes.
834 See the pope’s letter granting it, Mansi, XXXII. 554.
835 Pastor, III. 725.
836 Hefele-Hergenröther, VIII. 520.
837 See Mansi, XXXII. 570.
838 A pamphlet war was waged over the council. Among the writers on the papal side was Thomas de Vio Gaeta, general of the Dominican order and afterwards famous as Cardinal Cajetan, who had the colloquies with Luther. His tracts were ordered burnt by Louis XII. He took the ground that no council can be oecumenical which has not the pope’s support. An account of this literary skirmish is given by Hefele-Hergenröther, VIII. 470-480.
839 Tu pastor, tu medicus, tu gubernator, tu cultor, tu denique alter Deus in terris, Mansi, XXXII. 761. Hefele-Hergenröther VII. 528-531, pronounce this expression, God on earth, used before by Gregory II., a rhetorical flourish and nothing more. See also Pastor, III. 725.
840 De Grassis reports the rumors abroad concerning the pope’s mortal malady. One of them was the Gallic disease, and another that the pope’s stomach had given way under excessive indulgence. He also speaks of the great number who went to look at the pope’s corpse and to kiss his feet. Döllinger, III. 432.
841 A satire, called Julius exclusus, which appeared after the pontiff’s death, represented him as appearing at the gate of heaven with great din and noise. Peter remarked that, as he was a brave man, had a large army and much gold and was a busy builder, he might build his own paradise. At the same time the Apostle reminded him he would have to build the foundations deep and strong to resist the assaults of the devil. Julius retorted by peremptorily giving Peter three weeks to open heaven to him. In case he refused, he would open siege against him with 60,000 men. This recalls a story Dr. Philip Schaff used to tell of Gregory XVI., with whom, as a young graduate of Berlin, he had an audience. Gregory had a reputation with the Romans for being a connoisseur of wines. At his death, so the Roman wits reported, he appeared at the gate of heaven and, drawing out his keys, tried to unlock the gate. The keys would not fit. Peter, hearing the noise, looked out and, seeing the bunch of keys, told his vicar that he had brought with him by mistake the keys to his wine cellar, and must return to his palace and get the right set.
842 Guicciardini pronounces Julius a priest only in name. A letter dated Rome, Feb. 24, 1513, and quoted by Brosch, p. 363, has this statement, hic pontifex nos omnes, omnem Italiam a Barbarorum et Gallorum manibus eripuit, an expression used by Aegidius and Marcello before the Lateran council. See also Paris de Grassis-in Döllinger, p. 482. Pastor, III. 732, and Hergenröther, Conciliengesch., VIII. 535, justify Julius’ attention to war on the ground that he was fighting in a righteous cause and for possessions he had held as temporal prince ever since the 8th century. The right of a pope to defend the papal state is inherent in the very existence of a papal state. Even a saint, Leo IX., urges Pastor, p. 741, followed the camp.
843 See Ranke: Hist. of the Popes, I. 35.
844 Pastor, III. 575, condemns Julius under this head, tadelnswerth erscheint dass das Ablassgeschäft vielfach zu einer Finanzoperation wurde.
845 An original cartoon of this portrait is preserved in the Corsini Florence. In 1889 I met Professor Weizsäcker of Tübingen in Florence standing before Julius’ portrait and studying it. I had been with him in his home before he started on his journey, and he told me that one of the chief pleasures which he was anticipating from his Italian trip was the study of that portrait of one of the most vigorous—thatkräftig —of the popes.
846 These words are upon the testimony of the contemporary ambassador, Marino Giorgi, and cannot be set aside. Similar testimony is given by a biographer of Leo in Cod. Vat., 3920, which Döllinger quotes, Papstthum, p. 484, and which runs volo ut pontificatu isto quam maxime perfruamur. Pastor, IV. 353, while trying to break the force of the testimony for Leo’s words, pronounces the love of pleasure a fundamental and insatiable element of his nature—eine unersättliche Vergügungssucht, etc. Hefele-Knöpfler, Kirchengesch., p. 488, speak in the same vein when they say, Des neuen Papstes vorzüglichstes Streben galt heiterem Lebensgenuss, etc.
847 See Vaughan, p. 13 sq.
848 The famous letter is given by Roscoe, Bohn’s ed., pp. 285-288, and Vaughan, p. 23 sqq.
849 See Schulte, p. 198 sq., and Reumont, III., part II., p. 67. In front of the house of the banker, Agostino Chigi, were seen two persons representing Apollo and Mercury, and two little Moors, together with the inscription—
Olim habuit Cypria sua tempora, tempora Mavors
Olim habuit, sua nunc tempora Pallas habet.
The goddess of Cyprus had her day and also Mars,
But now Minerva reigns.
850 August 15, 1513. The Scotch king, James IV., who had married Henry’s sister, Margaret, joined the French. The memorable defeat at Flodden followed, Sept. 9, 1513. James and the flower of the Scotch nobility fell. Leo recognized Henry’s victories by conferring upon him the consecrated sword and hat which it was the pope’s custom to set aside on Christmas day.
851 The battle is vividly described by D. J. Dierauer, Gesch. der schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, 2 vols., Gotha, 1892, vol. II. 451 sqq. On the second day of the battle, the arrival of the Venetian troops gave victory to the French. Of the 12,000 left on the field dead, the most were Swiss. Before entering the battle, as was their custom, the mountaineers engaged in prayer, and the leader, Steiner of Zug, after repeating the usual formula of devotion unto death, threw, in the name of the Trinity, a handful of earth over his fellow-soldiers’ heads.
852 Pastor, IV. 185 sq., strongly condemns Leo’s two-tongued diplomacy, doppelzüngiges Verhalten. Leo’s brief, authorizing Francis to make a promise of red hats to the two archbishops, is dated March 12, 1519.
853 One-half was to be paid in cash and the other half to be deposited with the Fuggers, Schulte, p. 196.
854 The investigation, started by Leo, resulted in making it appear that Julius’ mother, Floreta, and his father had agreed to regard themselves as married, though a formal service was wanting.
855 Silvio Passerini, one of the fortunate candidates, was a prince of benefice-hunters. Pastor, IV. 139, gives fifty-five notices of benefices bestowed on him from Leo’s Regesta. He calls the list of the places he received as wahrhaft erschreckend, "something terrifying."
856 The elephant became the subject of quite an extensive literature, poets joining others in setting forth his peculiarities. See Pastor, IV. 52, Note.
857 The concordat met with serious resistance in France both from parliament and the University of Paris on the ground that it set aside the decisions of the Councils of Constance and Basel on the question of conciliar authority, and thus overthrew the Gallican liberties. The rector of the university forbade the university printer issuing the document, but he was brought to time by Leo instructing his legate to pronounce censure against him and the university, who "thinking themselves to be wise, had become fools."
858 Perpetuis futuris temporibus, nullus librum aliquem seu aliam quamcunque scripturam tam in urbe nostra quam aliis quibusvis civitatibus et diocesibus imprimere seu imprimi facere praesumat, Mansi, XXXII. 912 sq. Also in part in Mirbt, p. 177.
859 Sacro concilio approbante. Döllinger, Papstthum, p. 185, affirms that, in far-reaching significance, no other rule ever passed in a Roman synod equals this bull.
860 Mansi, XXXII. 968; Mirbt, p. 178. Solum Rom. pontificem auctoritatem super omnia concilia habentem et conciliorum indicendorum transferendorum ac dissolvendorum plenum ius et potestatem habere ... et cum de necessitate salutis existat omnes Christi fideles Romano pontifici subesse, etc.
861 Petri successores ... quibus ex libri Regum testimonio ita obedire necesse est, ut qui non obedierit, morte moriatur.
862 Kirchengesch., p. 383.
863 III., part II., p. 128
864 Pastor, who gives eight solid pages, IV. 407-415, to an account of Leo’s hunting expeditions, speaks of his passion for the chase as his leidenschaftliche Jagdliebhaberei.
865 Vaughan, p. 177.
866 See Reumont, III, Part II., 134 sq.
867 Sanuto, as quoted by Pastor, IV. 384. For some of the entertainments given by Cardinal Riario Cornaro, see Vaughan, p. 186 sqq. At one of the banquets given by Cardinal Cornaro, sixty-five courses were served, three dishes to each course, and all served on silver. Such devices as a huge pie, from which blackbirds or nightingales flew forth, or dishes of peacocks’ tails, or a construction of pastry from which a child would emerge to say a piece,—these were some of the inventions prepared for the amusement of guests at the tables of members of the sacred college.
868 Vettori, a contemporary, as quoted by Villari, IV. 4, says, "It was no more possible for his Holiness to keep 1,000 ducats than it is for a stone to fly upwards of itself." Villari, IV. 45, gives a list of Leo’s enormous debts.
869 These two lists of figures are taken from the Venetian ambassadors, Giorgi and Gradenigo. Schulte, Die Fugger, p. 97 sq., gives many cases of the payment of annates and the servitia through the Fuggers.
870 Schulte, I. 174, 223 sqq.
871 Pastor, IV. 368, has said, Um Geld herbeizuschaffen schreckte man vor keinem Mittel zurück. Döllinger, Papstthum, p. 485, quotes a contemporary as saying ea tempestate Romae, sacra omnia venalia erant, etc.
872 These figures are given by Schulte, I. 224-227, upon the basis of Sanuto and other contemporary writers. The iII odor of usury was avoided by representing the charges of the bankers as gifts.
873 Pastor, IV. 371, in his striking way says,Der Zudrang der Florentiner in der ersten Zeit dieses Pontificats war ein enormer. Die Begehrlichkeit dieser Leute war grenzenlos. The Fuggers, who carried on the most extensive dealings with the papal treasury and the sacred college, had been firmly established in Rome since the beginning of Alexander VI.’s pontificate. They came originally from Langen to Augsburg, where they started business as weavers, and then branched off into trading in spices and other commodities reaching Europe through Venice, and in copper and other metals, under the name of Ulrich Fugger and Brothers (George and Jacob), and their capital, estimated by the taxes they paid, increased, between 1480 and 1501, 1,634 per cent. Schulte, p. 3. After its transfer to Rome, the house became the depository of the papal treasurer and cardinals, and was the intermediary for the payment of annates and servitia to the papal and camera treasuries. The amounts, as furnished in the ledger entries, are given by Schulte.
874 See Pastor’s terrific indictment, IV. 359 sq.
875 Quantum nobis nostrisque ea de Christo fabula profuerit, satis est omnibus saeculis notum. The words, said to have been spoken to Cardinal Bembo, were noted down for the first time by Bale in his Pageant of the Popes, ed. 1574, p. 179. Bale, bishop of Ossory, had been a Carmelite.