JOHN X. AND THE IRON CENTURY
T HE next great stride in the development of the Papacy is taken by Gregory VII., the true successor of Nicholas I. and Gregory I. Europe seemed, indeed, entirely prepared for that last development of the Papal system which we connect with the name of Hildebrand, and a student of its essential growth may be tempted to pass at once from the ninth to the eleventh century. But to do so would be to omit one of the most singular phases of the story of the Papacy and leave in greater obscurity than ever one of its most interesting problems. How comes it that a Century of Iron, as Baronius has for ever branded the tenth century, falls between the work of Nicholas and the still greater work of Gregory? May we trust those modern writers who contend that the devout father of ecclesiastical history was gravely unjust to the Papacy, and that we may detect the play of a romantic or a malicious imagination in the familiar picture of Theodora and Marozia controlling the chair of Peter and investing their lovers or sons with the robes of the Vicar of Christ? Some consideration must be given to this phase, and it will be convenient to take John X. as its outstanding and characteristic figure.
I have already observed that few really unworthy men sat in the chair of Peter until the close of the ninth century. Among the hundred Popes who preceded Nicholas I. there had been, it is true, few men of commanding personality, but there had been still less men of ignoble character. They had been, on the whole, men whose real mediocrity is not obscured by the fulsome praises of their official panegyrists, yet, for the most part, men of blameless life. In the ninth century we see a gradual deterioration. Hadrian II. tries, with equal sincerity though less personality, to play the great part of Nicholas, and it is from no fault of character that he fails to coerce princes and prelates. John VIII. plays a not ignoble human part during the calamitous decade of his Pontificate, though there is more soldierly ardour than religious idealism in his defence of the Papacy. After him, in quick succession, come five Popes of little-known character, and then we have that famous Stephen VI. who digs the half-putrid body of a predecessor, Formosus, from its grave and treats it with appalling outrage. In the gloom which now descends on Rome, we follow with difficulty the passionate movements of the rival parties, but we know that after Formosus there were nine Popes in eight years ( 896-904). With Sergius III. ( 904-911), the Century of Iron fitly opens, and his name and that of John X., who became Pope in 914, are chiefly associated with the names of Theodora and Marozia.
The general causes of this deterioration are easily assigned. In that age of violent character, uncontrolled by culture, a multiplication of small princedoms was sure to lead to bloody rivalries. To this the dissolution of the Empire of Charlemagne and the feebleness of his descendants had led, especially in Italy, where the weakness of a sacerdocracy--that is to say, its liability, if not obligation, to use temporal resources for religious rather than military and civic purposes-soon became apparent. The Papacy had the further weakness that, being nominally independent yet unable to defend itself, it was ever on the watch for another Pippin--a monarch who would protect it and not govern it--and it dangled its tawdry imperial crown before the eyes of the kings of Italy, France, and Germany, to say nothing of the smaller princes of Italy. Hence arose the factions which rent a degraded Rome. We must remember, too, that this was a fresh period of invasion and devastation: the waves of Saracen advance lapped the walls of Romefrom the south and the fierce Hungarians reached it from the north.
These general causes of decay are substantial, yet we must not be too easily contented with them. Some day a subtler or more candid science will tell the whole story of the making of the Middle Ages. I need note only that the disorder existed in Rome, and often burst its bonds, long before the time of Stephen VI. Even under Hadrian I. we saw relatives and friends of the Pope promoted to high office, yet in the end betraying characters of revolting brutality. We remember also a certain legate of Nicholas I., Bishop Arsenius, who handled anathemas with such consummate ease. This man's nephew abducted the daughter of Pope Hadrian II., and, when he was pursued, murdered her and the Pope's wife. There was some taint in the blood--or the brain--of this new Roman aristocracy which gathered round the Lateran. Under John VIII., the strongest successor of Nicholas, they broke into appalling disorders. "Their swinish lust," says one of the most conservative and most reticent of recent writers on the Popes, speaking of the leading Papal officials of the time, "was only second to their cruelty and avarice." 1 Hadrian II. had the widow of one of these officials whipped naked through the streets of Rome, and had another official blinded. Under StephenVI. and Sergius III. these corrupt Roman families come into clearer light, and the domination of Theodora and Marozia is merely one episode in this lamentable development, which has been recorded more fully because of the piquancy of this feminine ascendancy in a nominal theocracy.
The period with which we are concerned really opens with Pope Formosus, a not unworthy man, who looked for support to Arnulph of Germany. The Italian faction, which looked to Guido of Spoleto and Adalbert of Tuscany, regarded this "treachery" with the bitterest rancour and imprisoned the Pope. One of the leaders of this section was the deacon (later Pope) Sergius. Arnulph came to Rome, and swept the TuscanSpoletan faction, including Sergius, out of the city. Formosus died in 896, his gouty successor followed him within a fortnight, and Stephen VI. was elected. As soon as Arnulph had left Rome, the Pope surrendered to the Italian faction, and the Lateran witnessed that ghastly outrage of the trial of the mouldering corpse of Formosus: on the nominal charge of having exercised his functions after being deposed and having passed from another bishopric to that of Rome. There seems to be some lack of sense of moral proportion in historians who, knowing these far graver things, make elaborate efforts to disprove the love-affairs of one or two Popes of the period. Three not unworthy Popes filled, and soon quitted, the Roman See after Stephen. The last of these, Leo V., was dethroned and imprisoned
1 Dr. Mann, iii., 285.
by the cardinal-priest Christopher, who seized the Papacy. Sergius and his friends in exile now entered into correspondence with the dissatisfied Romans, mastered the city with an army, and threw Christopher in turn into a dungeon. This was the rise to power of Sergius III.; the beginning of what has been called, with more vigour than accuracy, the Pornocracy. 1
With the weakening of the Empire, the Roman nobles had wrested from the Popes the political control of the city, and we gather from the titles assigned to them that there was a debased restoration of the old republican forms. The head of one of the leading families, Theophylactus, is described as Master of the Papal Wardrobe, Master of the Troops, Consul, and Senator. His wife, Theodora, called herself the Senatrix: their elder and more famous daughter Marozia is named the Patricia. The family belonged, of course, to the Tuscan-Spoletan faction which triumphed with Sergius. Culture had now fallen so low at Rome that there is no writer of the time able or willing to leave us a portrait of these remarkable ladies; the nearest authority, the monk Benedict of Soracte, is so far from artistic feeling that it would be literally impossible to write a grosser and more barbarous Latin than he does. From some documents of the time it appears that there were ladies of this great family who could not write their names, and we may presume that this was their common condition. But it is uniformly stated that they were women of great beauty and ambition: it is certain that Marozia was the mother of John XI., and that she put him on the Papal throne: and it is claimed that Sergius was the father of John XI., and that John X. was the lover of Theodora.
1 Inaccurate because, however many lovers Theodora and Marozia may have had, they were certainly not courtesans.
These stories of amorous relations would not in themselves deserve a severe historical inquiry, but they have been made a test of the accuracy or inaccuracy of our authorities. The older ecclesiastical historians admitted them without demur. In the pages of Baronius Theodora is "that most powerful, most noble, and most shameless whore" and Sergius is the lover of that "shameless whore" Theodora. Pagi and Mansi reproduce these words, and they are complacently prefixed to the collection of John's letters in the Migne edition. 1 More recent writers like Duchesne and Dr. W. Barry admit the charge against Sergius; but the learned Muratori boldly questioned the whole tradition, and various modern Italian writers have attempted to support his case. 2
The claim that we have discovered, since the days of Baronius, new documents which materially alter the evidence, must at once be set aside. Of the Formosian writers of the time whose pamphlets have been recovered, the priest Auxilius throws no light on this subject and the grammarian Vulgarius is unreliable. We have letters and poems in which Vulgarius hails Pope Sergius as "the glory of the world" and "the pillar of all virtue," and professes a profound regard for the matchless virtue and the "immaculate bed" of Theodora. 3
1 See Baronius, year 912, and Mansi, xviii., 314 and 316.
2 Barry Papal Monarchy ( 1902), pp. 146 and 150. For criticism of the tradition see F. Liverani study of John X. in vol. ii. of his Opere ( 1858) and P. Fedele " Ricerche per la Storia da Roma e del Papato nel Secolo X. " in the Archivi della R. Società Romana di Storia Patria (vols. xxxiii. and following). Dr. Mannfollows these critics in his chapters on Sergius and John (vol. iv.).
3 Published by E. Dümmler in his Auxilius und Vulgarius ( 1866), pp. 139-146.Dr. Mann( iv., 139 and 141) thinks it incredible that if Theodora were a vicious woman any man should write thus; but two pages later he recollects that Vulgarius has accused Pope Sergius of
The fact is that Vulgarius had previously indicted Sergius in lurid terms and had been significantly summoned to Rome by that vigorous Pontiff. His charges of murder and outrage then changed into the most fulsome flattery, to which we cannot pay the slightest regard. His earlier charges are more serious, as, writing only six years after the events, he appeals to the still fresh recollection in the minds of the Romans that Sergius had had his two predecessors murdered in prison. 1
We have no serious reason to differ from Baronius. Liutprand, Bishop of Cremona, is the chief accuser. As servant of the court of Berengar II. and then of Otto I., he often visited Rome in the first half of the tenth century, and he knew the city well during the Pontificate of John XI., the son of Marozia. He says that Theodora, "a shameless whore," was all-powerful at Rome: that she was the mistress of John X., whom she promoted to the See of Ravenna and then to that of Rome: that her daughters Marozia and Theodora were more shameless than she: and that John XI. was the son of Sergius and Marozia. 2 Liutprand would hardly scruple to reproduce gossip, and he is often wrong, so that one reads him with caution. Yet his statement about Sergius is so far confirmed that so careful a writer on the Popes as Duchesne is compelled to accept it. 3
Benedict of Soracte, a very meagre and confused chronicler, gives Marozia a dark character in his
1 De Causa Formosiana, c. 14.
2 Antapodosis, ii., 48.
3 murdering his two predecessors, and he advises us to place no reliance on the word of such a "wretched sycophant."
3 In the notes to his edition of the Liber Pontificalis.
Chronicle. 1 Her son Alberic was, he says, born out of wedlock: presumably before she married the father, Alberic I. Flodoard, the most respectable chronicler of the time, tells us in his Annals (year 933) that John XI. was the son of Marozia and the brother of Alberic II.; but neither there nor elsewhere does he mention the father, and the omission is significant. Flodoard, a deeply religious monk, under personal obligations to the Papacy, was not the man to repeat scandalous Roman gossip; yet in his long poetic history of the Papacy he brands Marozia as an incestuous woman united to an adulterer, and he describes John XI., whom he disdains, as so puny a thing that we can scarcely conceive him as a son of the vigorous Alberic. 2 Lastly, the one-line notice of John XI. in the Liber Pontificalis says that he was "the son of Sergius III." We do not know when or by whom this was written, but recent attempts to represent it as an echo of Liutprand have failed. We must agree with Duchesne that it is a distinct testimony and "more authoritative" than that of Liutprand.
I have analyzed afresh the original evidence on this not very important point merely in order to show the futility of recent attempts to rehabilitate the age of John X. Pope Sergius, the chief ecclesiastic of the Italian faction to which John belonged, was a violent and unscrupulous man. He resigned a bishopric, and returned to the rank of deacon, in order that he might have a better chance of the Papacy. He was AntiPope to John IX. in 898, and was excommunicated and driven from Rome; and he forced his way back at the point of the sword. The charge that he was respon-
2 De Christi Triumphis apud Italiami, xii., 7. sible for the death of his two predecessors cannot be disregarded, and he certainly dealt violently with his opponents. The charge of loose conduct is not more serious than these things, and it rests on strong evidence.
To this party John X. belonged. His early career is not very plain, but he appears first as a deacon at Bologna. He was chosen to succeed Bishop Peter of that city, but, before he was consecrated, Archbishop Kailo of Ravenna died, and John passed to Ravenna and occupied its See. Nine years later, in 914, he was elected Bishop of Rome. It was scarcely thirty years since his party had foully treated the body of Formosus, partly on the charge of passing from another bishopric to that of Rome. One naturally suspects ambition in John and powerful influence in his favour at Rome. We know, in fact, that he was on excellent terms with Theophylactus and Theodora, 1 and no one now doubts that they secured his election. We are therefore not wholly surprised, considering the age, when Liutprand assures us that he was a charming man, and that Theodora, meeting him during one of his missions to Rome, conceived a passion for him.
It is neither possible not profitable to linger over the subject, and the impartial student will probably neither assent to nor dissent from this unconfirmed statement of the Bishop of Cremona. Liverani ridicules it on the ground that Theodora must have been far from young, since her daughter Marozia married Albert of Camerino about the year 915. It is curious to find a native of Italy, where girls are often mature at twelve, and were in the old days often mothers at thirteen, raising such an objection. Theodora may quite well have been still in her thirties in 915. I would, however,
1 See a letter from him at Ravenna to them In Liverani, Opere, iv., 7.
rather call attention to the moral condition of Europe at the time. The pious Bishop of Verona, Ratherius, gives us an extraordinary picture of the life of some of his episcopal colleagues. 1 They rush through their mass in the morning, don gorgeous dresses and gold belts, and ride out to hunt on horses with golden bridles: they return at night to rich banquets, with massive goblets of good wine, and dancing girls for company, and dice to follow: and they retire, too often with their companions, to beds that are inlaid with gold and silver and spread with covers and pillows of silk. Bishop Atto of Vercelli gives us a corresponding picture of the lives of the lower clergy and their wives and mistresses. 2 The proceedings of the Council of Troslé, in the year 909, confirm and enlarge this remarkable picture. 3 Assuredly no historian who knows the tenth century will find the charges against Sergius and John implausible.
Whatever may be their value, John was no idle voluptuary. He found the Saracens still devastating southern Italy and he helped, in 915, to form a great league against them. When the Duke of Capua led out his troops, and the Spoletans and Beneventans fell into line at last, and even the Greeks sent a fleet, the Roman militia was marshalled, and John rode at their head beside the fiery young Alberic of Camerino. He was not the first of the many fighting Popes: John VIII. had built a Papal navy and dealt the Saracens some shrewd blows. But John X. was the first Pope to take the field in person, and we lament that the wretched scribes of the time have left us no portrait of the consecrated warrior. We know from his letters
1 Præloquia, v., 7.
2 Ep. , ix.
3 Mansi, xviii., 263.
that he exposed himself on the field, and from the chronicles that he fired the troops. The Saracens were at last pinned in their camp on a hill near the mouth of the Garigliano, and, after a long blockade, were annihilated.
John and the Marquis Alberic enjoyed a splendid ovation at Rome, and it was probably at this date that the hand of Marozia was bestowed on Alberic. But the victory had its price. John had to surrender some of his patrimonies to the Duke of Gaeta and to confer the imperial crown on King Berengar for his assistance. When Berengar came to Rome, and promised to maintain all the rights and properties of the Papacy as other Emperors had done, and received the crown from the hand of the Pope, it must have seemed that a brighter day had dawned at last on Italy. But the restless factions murmured, and in a few years Rudolph II. of Burgundy was invited to come and seize the crown. Berengar brought the half-civilized Hungarians to his aid, and a fresh trail of blood and fire marred the face of Italy. He lost, and was assassinated ( 924); but Rudolph, who won only the crown of Italy, was not left long in peaceful possession of it, and the next movement of Italian politics shows John in a singular situation at Rome.
An earlier chapter of this history was enlivened by the amours of Lothair of Lorraine and Waldrada. They left behind them an illegitimate daughter, Bertha, who had all the spirit and more than the ambition of her mother. There were many women of commanding personality (and, usually, little scruple) in the early Middle Ages, and the story of Theodora and Marozia must not be regarded as very exceptional. Bertha made vigorous efforts to win Italy for her favourite son, Hugh of Provence, and, when she died in 925, his sister, Irmengard, a fascinating woman who maintained the domestic tradition, won the bishops and nobles of Lombardy for him by an unsparing use of her charms. He was presently invited to come and drive the Burgundians out of Italy. John X. joined in the invitation and went to Mantua to meet him.
It is recorded that the Pope made some obscure bargain with him at Mantua, and there can be little doubt that he asked Hugh's aid against Marozia. Theophylactus and Theodora were dead, and Marozia was at deadly feud with the Pope. Her first husband seems to have died about 925, and she had married Guido of Tuscany. Whether her quarrel with John began before her marriage we do not know, but Liutprand tells us that she and Guido wanted to depose the Pope. Both Liutprand and Benedict I make the cause of the quarrel clear. John had called his brother Peter to his side at Rome, and the power he gave to his brother, and therefore withdrew from the lay nobles, infuriated his earlier supporters. He turned, as so many Popes had done, to a distant prince, and his career soon came to a close.
The chronicle is crude and meagre, but it suggests elementary and unbridled passions. "The Marquis Peter," says Benedict, "so infuriated the Romans that he was compelled to leave the city." He fortified himself in Horta and summoned the dreaded Hungarians to his aid: than which there could hardly be a graver crime in an Italian of the time. They came in large numbers and trod the life out of the Roman province. When Peter concluded that his opponents were sufficiently weakened, he returned to Rome and gathered
I Antapodosis, iii., 43 ; Chronicon, c. 29.
troops about him. There must have been sombre days in the city in that year 928. One day, however, when it was observed that few of Peter's men had accompanied him to the Lateran, a band of Marozia's followers burst into the palace and laid him dead at the Pope's feet. John himself was taken from the palace and imprisoned, and he died in prison in the following year ( 929). Whether he was murdered or died a natural death is uncertain. I
Such was the not unnatural termination of one of the longest Pontificates in the history of Rome, and we have no reason to suppose that, if we had fuller narratives than those I have quoted, they would redeem the character of John X. His desertion of Bologna for Ravenna, and his transfer to Rome within twenty years of the time when his party had foully treated a dead man for just such an irregularity: his alliance with the unscrupulous house of Theophylactus: his quite superfluous appearance on the battlefield: his easy distribution of royal and imperial crowns: and, above all, the maintenance of his unprincipled brother in the teeth of deadly hostility, sufficiently indicate his character. He was an accomplished adventurer. He writes a very good Latin for the period, and may well have been a charming and handsome and brave man. It is recorded that he richly decorated the Lateran Palace. But he was a child of his age, and the historian finds it easier to respect the sad and sincere reflection of the older ecclesiastical writers--that Christ then slumbered in the tossing barque of Peter--than the
I Benedict merely records his death. Flodoard ( Annals, year 929) says that "some attributed his death to violence, but the majority to grief." Liutprand ( iii., 43 ) affirms that he was smothered with a pillow.
strained efforts of a few modern writers to convince us that the chosen Pope of an aristocracy which they depict in the darkest colours was merely the victim of calumny.
The little Pontifical work which John did during his fourteen years as Pope does not dispose us to alter this estimate. The score of his letters which survive generally relate to privileges of abbeys or prelates which he was asked to grant or confirm. He gave support to the monks of Fulda, 1 of St. Gall, 2 and of Cluny. 3 He sent legates on a vague mission to Spain and granted a pallium to the Bishop of Hamburg, who was converting the far north. He intervened in the religious troubles of Dalmatia, at the invitation of the local prelates, and wrote them many letters 4 for the regulation (or Romanization) of their Slav liturgy and discipline. Even to Constantinople, which had one of its rare moods of affection for Rome, he sent legates to assist the Greeks in obliterating the effects of their latest quarrel.
His work in Bulgaria is not wholly clear, or it might be interesting. King Simeon quarrelled with the Eastern Church and turned to Rome, and John naturally encouraged him. He sent legates to Bulgaria, and we learn from a letter of Innocent III., long afterwards, that they presented Simeon with a golden crown from John. It looks as if the Pope gave Simeon some kind of imperial rank, but he did not secure the adhesion to Rome of the Bulgarian Church.
A few letters to France and Germany are hardly more instructive. Heribert of Vermandois seized the person of Charles the Simple, and, when he was threatened with excommunication, hoodwinked the Pope. Heri-
1 Ep. , ii.
2 Ep. , iv.
3 Ep. , xiv.
4 Published by Liverani, iv., 76 - 79.
bert then, in 925, conferred the rich See of Rheims on his five-year-old son, and John--either in order to secure the release of the King or dreading worse things-acquiesced. 1 In Germany John sent his brother to assist in the restoration of discipline at the Synod of Altheim ( 916). A few years later he summoned Herimann, Archbishop of Cologne, and Hilduin and Richer, rival bishops of Liège, to the bar of Rome. But in this apparent assertion of authority he was really acting under pressure of the Emperor Berengar, and the sequel is not flattering. There was a complicated quarrel about the bishopric of Liege, and, when the litigants refused to come to Rome, John laid down a principle which would have seemed to Nicholas I. or Gregory VII. an outrage. He rebuked Herimann on the ground of "an ancient custom that none save the King, to whom the sceptre is divinely committed, shall confer a bishopric on any cleric."
These letters, a poor record of official work for so long a Pontificate and in so disordered a world, do not alter our impression of John. Rome shared the gloom which lay over Europe, and it is foolish to suppose that the degenerate nobles who ruled the Papacy would put on its throne a man who would rebuke their vices or resent their domination. Indeed, it will be useful to follow the lamentable story a little further, as an introduction to the revival which culminates in Gregory VII.
Marozia crowned her adventurous life in 932 by marrying the step-brother of her late husband--the licentious Hugh of Provence whom John had helped to put on the throne of Italy. In the preceding year she had put in the chair of Peter her son, John XI., a
1 Flodoard, iæ Remensis Historia, iv., 20.
mere shadow of a Pope. But the disgusted Romans flew to arms, imprisoned John and Marozia, and sent the brutal Hugh flying for his life. Alberic II. then controlled the city and the Papacy for twenty years, and a series of obscure, though apparently not unworthy, men were appointed to discharge the scanty spiritual duties which Popes could or would perform in that darkest of the dark ages. Alberic bequeathed his power to his illegitimate son Octavian, and compelled the nobles and clergy to swear to make him Pope at the next vacancy. John XII., as he called himself, proved the worst Pope yet recorded: more at home in the helmet than the tiara, and more expert in the cultivation than in the suppression of vice. When his own sword proved incapable of securing his rights, he summoned Otto I., with the customary bribe of the imperial crown. Otto at length deposed him, after six years of scandalous abuse of the Papacy, and he disappears from history in a singular legend; he died, it was said, of a blow on the temples given him by the devil--possibly in the person of the injured husband--during one of his amorous adventures.
Ten Popes and Anti-Popes, generally men of no distinction either in vice or virtue, succeeded each other in the next thirty years. The factions at Rome became more and more violent, and Europe sank deeper and deeper into the corruption from which Gregory VII. would endeavour to rouse it. The Iron Century closed, oddly enough, with the appearance on the Papal throne of one of the first scholars of Christian Europe, the famous Gerbert ( Silvester II.), but his brief and premature Pontificate made no impression on that dark age. Under Sergius IV. the Roman faction was at length destroyed, but the counts of Tusculum now dragged the unhappy Papacy to a lower depth. Two sons of the first Count, Benedict VIII. and John XIII., successively purchased the votes of the electors, and, by their venality and violence, added fresh stains to the Papal chronicle. The third son of the Count then placed his own youthful offspring in the chair of Peter, and, under the name of Benedict IX., this youth degraded it with crimes and vices so well authenticated that even the most resolute apologist cannot challenge the indictment. Pope Victor III., a few years later, shudders to mention the "murders and robberies and nameless vices" of Benedict, 1 and his vague charges, supported by Raoul Glaber and other authorities, suggest that the Lateran Palace must have recalled to the mind of any sufficiently informed Roman some of the scenes which had been witnessed in Nero's Golden House in the lowest days of paganism. At length, after being twice expelled from Rome, he wearied of the Papacy --one authority says that he wished to marry-and sold it to his uncle John Gratian for one or two thousand pounds of gold. By this time there was a certain young Hildebrand studying in the Lateran School, and the story of his life will tell us the sequel of this extraordinary chapter of Papal history.
1 Dialogues, bk. iii.
THE historian might almost venture to say that the Papacy was not evolved, but created. It has assuredly, in its varying fortunes, reflected as faithfully as any other institution the changes of its human environment, yet for each new adaptation to favouring circumstances it has had to await the advent of a great Pope. Seven men, one might say, created the Papacy: Gelasius I., Leo I., Gregory I., Hadrian I., Nicholas I., Gregory VII., and Innocent III. Each one of these deepened the foundations and enlarged the fabric of the great religious principality. They have had illustrious successors, and, in some respects, the frame of the Papacy has been further strengthened; but, on the whole, the last five hundred years have been filled with a mighty and unavailing struggle against disintegration.
Of the seven men I have enumerated Gregory VII., or Hildebrand as historians still like to call him, was the most romantic and the most singularly creative. He was born about the year 1025, of humble parents, in a Tuscan village near Sovana. An uncle of his was abbot of a monastery on the Aventine at Rome, and young Hildebrand was at an early date sent to be educated under his direction. We recognize in this accident the chief clue to the personality and achievements of Gregory VII. A century earlier a group of monks at Cluny had reformed their ways, and their stricter ideas had slowly spread from one isolated monastery to another. The monastery of St. Mary on the Aventine was one of these rare centres of sincere asceticism, and in it the boy would hear talk of the appalling degradation which had come over the Church of Christ. It seems, however, very doubtful whether he ever made the vows of a monk. He certainly wore the monk's habit, and no epithet is more common on the lips of his opponents than "vagabond monk"; while, on the other hand, his admirers accept the monastic title, and justify the "vagabondage," by various unreliable stories about his connexion with the Benedictines. But he never describes himself as a monk, and he is not so described in the most reliable documents. The point is of slight importance, since Hildebrand certainly adopted the sentiments of the monastic reformers, and I will not linger over the extensive and conflicting evidence. 1 Gregory's fiery and aggressive nature would not suffer him to contemplate the triumph of evil from the remote impotence of a monastery, but he learned
1 The two ablest recent writers on Hildebrand, the Right Reverend Dr. A. H. Mathew ( The Life and Times of Hildebrand, 1910) and Dr. W. Martens ( War Gregor VII Mönch? , 1891, and Gregor VII. , 2 vols. 1894--an invaluable study), hold that he never took the vows. The chief biography of Hildebrand on the Catholic side is now the Abbé O. Delarc's Grégoire VII. et la Réforme de l'Église au XI siècle ( 3 vols., 1889). Slight but excellent sketches will be found in F. Roquain La Papauté au moyen âge ( 1881) and Hildebrand and His Times ( 1888) by W. R. W. Stephens. Older writers like Voigt, Gfrörer, Villemain, and Bowden are now of little use. The original authorities are as numerous as they are unreliable. The partisans of Gregory (chiefly Bonitho and Donizo) are scarcely more scrupulous than the partisans of Henry ( Benzo, Benno, Guido, etc.), or those of Rudolph ( Lambert, Berthold, Bruno, etc.). Fortunately we have a large number of Gregory's letters, and, as usual, I rely chiefly on these.
his lesson from monks and would rely on them throughout life.
He went also to the Lateran School, where John Gratian, whom we described in the last chapter as buying the Papacy from his nephew Benedict IX., was a teacher. Gratian marked the ecclesiastical promise of the dark and ill-favoured little Tuscan, and, when he bought the title of Gregory VI., made him one of his capellani : at that time a body of lay officials. The work suited Hildebrand, who was even more of a soldier than a monk. The road to Rome was lamentably beset by brigands; the houses of many of the nobles in the city itself were, in fact, little better than the fortified dens of wealthy banditti, and the crowds of pilgrims might have their gifts torn from their hands at the very steps of Peter's altar. So Hildebrand organized a militia and made some impression on the robbers.
Gregory VI. was a more religious man than his purchase of the See would suggest. He was conspicuous for chastity at a time when, a caustic contemporary said, it was regarded at Rome as an angelic virtue. There is every reason to believe that he bought the Roman See with the best of intentions. Unhappily, Benedict IX. exhausted his treasury and returned to claim his dignity; while another faction of the Romans set up a pretender under the name of Silvester II. Gregory ruled his flock--there' was very little Papal ruling of the world in those days--from Sta. Maria Maggiore: Silvester controlled St. Peter's and the Papal mansion on the Vatican: Benedict held the Lateran. This squalid spectacle must have sunk deep into the soul of the young reformer. But there were religious men in Rome, and the virtuous Henry III. was summoned from Germany. The remedy was almost as humiliating as the disorder. Henry scattered the rivals and, observing that there was no member of the Roman clergy fit to occupy the See, he put into it one of his German bishops, with the title of Clement II.
Hildebrand went with his patron, in the King's train, to Germany, but the more rigorous climate soon made an end of John Gratian. It is said, but is by no means certain, that Hildebrand then went to Cluny for a time. It is at all events certain that in 1049, the Roman climate having killed two German Popes in two years, Hildebrand returned to Italy in the train of Bishop Bruno. Under the name of Leo IX. this handsome, stately, and deeply religious Pontiff spent the next six years in a devoted effort to reform the Church. The magnitude of his task may be measured by that appalling indictment of clerical and monastic vice, the Book of Gomorrha, which Peter Damiani wrote under Leo IX., and with his cordial approval. Leo visited the chief countries of Europe, but he could make little impression on that stubborn age and he died almost broken-hearted. Under him Hildebrand served his apprenticeship. He became a cardinal-subdeacon, a guardian of St. Peter's, and rector of the monastery of St. Paul: in which, to his fine disgust, he found women serving the monks. He went also as legate to France, where he dealt leniently with and learned to esteem the chief heretic of the age, Bérenger. Hildebrand had little insight into character and less into speculative theology. To the end of his life he befriended Bérenger.
Leo died in 1055, and Hildebrand was sent to ask Henry III. to choose a successor. Henry in turn died in 1056, and, as the Roman See was again vacant in the following year and the Romans were emboldened to choose their own Pope, Hildebrand was sent to concili- ate the Empress Agnes. We must not exaggerate his influence at this time, but undoubtedly the new Pope, Stephen X., and his fanatical Cardinal, Peter Damiani-both monks of the reforming school,--regarded him as one of their most ardent lieutenants. Indeed from that time we trace the adoption at Rome of a policy which is clearly due to Hildebrand. The Papacy began to look to the Normans, who had conquered southern Italy, to save it from the overlordship of the German court, and to wage a stern war against simony and clerical incontinence. Hildebrand, who had a strange fascination for pious women, easily won the Empress Agnes, but she was surrounded or controlled by simoniacal prelates and nobles. Rome must once more change its suzerain, or its sword-bearer.
In the campaign for enforcing celibacy on the clergy the monastic reforming school provided fresh allies. There was in the city of Milan a young priest named Anselm of Baggio, who had studied under Lanfranc at Bec. This enthusiast for the new ideas began a notable campaign against clerical marriage, and, when his archbishop genially transferred him to the remote bishopric of Lucca, he left his gospel in charge of two other enthusiasts named Ariald and Landulph. It must be recollected that clerics did not at that time take any vow of chastity, and there were only a few disciplinary decrees of earlier Popes to curtail their liberty. Most of the priests of every country were legally married, though in some places the law of celibacy was enforced and they simply had mistresses. Against both wives and mistresses a furious campaign was now directed by the Patarenes. 1 The vilest names
1 The reformers of Milan worked chiefly among the poor, especially in the "old-clothes quarter," or Pataria. Hence the name of the party.
were showered on the unhappy wives and children: the priests, who said that they would rather desert their orders than their wives, were torn from the altars: the most lamentable excesses in the cause of virtue were committed in the churches. Hildebrand, and afterwards Damiani, were sent to enforce what is described as the "pacifying policy" of Rome, and we read that Milan approached the verge of civil war.
While Hildebrand was still inflaming the enthusiasts of the north, Stephen X. died, and the party opposed to the Puritans at Rome at once elected a Pope of their own school. The young subdeacon now plainly showed his character and masterfulness. He persuaded the virtuous archbishop of Florence to accept the title of Nicholas II., begged a small army from the Duke of Tuscany, entered Rome at the head of his soldiers, and swept "Benedict X." and his supporters out of the city. The cause of virtue was to be sustained, at whatever cost: the keynote of his life was sounded. We may also confidently see the action of Hildebrand in a very important decision of a Lateran synod held under Nicholas that year ( 1059). In future the choice of a Pope was to be confined to the cardinal-bishops, who would submit their decision to the cardinal-priests and deacons. 1 The rest of the clergy and the people were merely to signify their assent by acclamation, and the decree contains a vague expression of respect for "the rights of the Emperor." A sonorous anathema
1 The word "cardinal" occurs occasionally in early ecclesiastical literature in its literal meaning of "important," and is applied to clerics of various orders. After the fifth century it is restricted at Rome to the first priests of each of the tituli (quasi-parishes) into which the city was divided. They numbered twenty-eight in the eleventh century. In the course of time the name was also given to the seventeen leading deacons of Rome and the seven suburbicarian bishops.
was laid on any who departed from this decree; and I may add at once that Hildebrand, who was probably its author, entirely ignored it in making the next Pope and in his own election. It was the first phase in the struggle with the Empire. The German court was distracted by the intrigues of rival prelates to secure the control of the Empress and her son, while the Papacy now had the support of the Norman Richard of Capua (whom Hildebrand induced to swear fealty to the Papacy), the troops of Tuscany, and the staves of the Patarenes. The German court replied by refusing to acknowledge Nicholas II.
Hildebrand rose to the rank of deacon, then of archdeacon: the straightest path to the Papacy. Had he willed, he could have become Pope in 1061, when Nicholas died, but the time was not ripe for his colossal design. The anti-Puritans now sought alliance with the German court against him, but he summoned a band of Normans and, with the aid of their spears, put Anselm of Lucca on the Papal throne: completely ignoring the decree of 1059. The anti-Puritans of Rome and Lombardy now united with the Imperialists, and Bishop Cadalus of Parma was made Anti-Pope. The war of words which followed was disdainfully left by Hildebrand to Damiani, who, in a page of almost indescribable invective, assures us that Cadalus was "the stench of the globe, the filth of the age, the shame of the universe," and that his episcopal supporters were better judges of pretty faces than of Papal candidates. The Imperialist Bishop Benzo of Albi, a genial Epicure who united an equal power of invective with a more polished culture, retorted heavily on the "vagabond monks" ( Damiani and Hildebrand). At last it came to blows, and Hildebrand acted. Cadalus de- scended on Rome with German and Lombard troops: Hildebrand summoned the Normans, and a fierce battle was waged for the tiara under the very shadow of St. Peter's. Then Godfrey of Tuscany appeared on the scene with his army, and the decision was remitted to a synod at Augsburg. Hildebrand was content, for a revolution had occurred at the German court, and Damiani was sent to win the verdict at Augsburg by the ingenious expedient of being himself counsel for both sides.
The way was now rapidly prepared for the Pontificate of Hildebrand. Godfrey of Tuscany died, and his pious widow Beatrice and still more impressionable daughter Mathilda were prepared to put their last soldier at his disposal. The Patarenes were reinforced by the knight Herlembald (whose lady-love had been seduced by a priest), and were dragging the married priests from their churches and destroying their homes in many parts of north Italy. At Florence the monks of Vallombrosa lent their fiery aid, even against the troops, and one of their number passed unscathed through the ordeal of fire before an immense concourse of people. In the south Robert Guiscard was expelling the last remnants of the Saracens and founding a powerful Norman kingdom. All these forces marched under banners blessed and presented by the Pope. One banner advanced by the side of the ferocious Herlembald: one shone at the head of the Norman troops in Calabria: one was seen in the ranks of William of Normandy when he made his successful raid upon England. 1
1 In this last case we have the assurance of Hildebrand himself that he dictated the Papal policy. Years afterwards he wrote to William ( Ep., vii., 23 ) that, when the Norman envoys came to ask Papal approval of his design, it was generally censured as an unjustifiable raid,
Alexander closed his short and earnest Pontificate on April 21, 1073. Hildebrand, in his capacity of archdeacon, took stringent measures for the preservation of order, or the coercion of the Imperialist faction; yet, when the voice of the people demanded that he should be Pope, his troops made no effort to secure an election according to the decree of 1059. He was conducting the funeral service over the remains of Alexander, on April 22d, when the cry, "Hildebrand bishop," was raised. He protested, but Cardinal Hugh Candidus, one of the most versatile clerical politicians of the time and afterwards the Pope's deadly enemy, stood forth and insisted that the cry was just. Hildebrand was seized and conducted, almost carried, to the church of St. Peter in Chains, where he was enthroned, as he afterwards wrote to Abbot Didier, 1 by "popular tumult." It is not certain, but is entirely probable, that he sought the imperial ratification. We may conclude that he did this, since, when he was consecrated on June 30th, the Empress Agnes and the imperial representative in Italy were present.
In the letters which Gregory issued to his friends throughout Europe immediately after his election he observes that the strain and anxiety have made him ill. We can well believe that when the hour arrived for him to mount the throne of Peter, instead of standing behind it, he felt a grave foreboding. No man had ever yet ascended that throne with so portentous an
and Hildebrand alone induced Pope Alexander to send the Normans a banner: on condition, he adds, that William secured the payment of Peter's Pence by the reluctant English and in other ways promoted the interests of Rome. But even William did not dream that his acceptance of the banner made England, in Hildebrand's opinion, a fief of the Roman See!
1 Ep., i., 1.
idea of its prestige and responsibility, and no Pope had ever confronted a more disordered Christendom. There had been good men at the Lateran for thirty years, yet in the eyes of Hildebrand they must have seemed idle, timid, and ineffective. A Pope must wear out his body and lay down his life in the struggle with triumphant evil: must smite king or prelate or peasant without a moment's hesitation: must use every weapon that the times afforded--excommunication or imprecation, the spear of the Norman or the sword of the Dane, the staff of the ignorant fanatic or the tender devotion of woman. "The Blessed Peter on earth," as Hildebrand called himself, had a right to implicit obedience from every man on earth, on temporal no less than on spiritual matters. Kings were of less consequence than the meanest priests. If kings and dukes resisted his grand plan of making the whole of Christendom "pure and obedient," why not make their kingdoms and duchies fiefs of the Holy See, to be bestowed on virtuous men? Why not make Europe the United States of the Church, governed despotically by the one man on earth who was "inspired by God"? If anathemas failed, there were swords enough in Europe to carry out his plan. That, literally, was the vision which filled the feverish imagination of Gregory VII. when he looked down from his throne over the world.
It was the dream of a soldier-monk, unchecked by understanding of men or accurate knowledge of history. Such reformers as Cardinal Damiani and Abbot Didier resented Gregory's aims and procedure: they were most appreciated by women like the Countess Mathilda. Hildebrand is said to have been a learned man, but we have cause to take with reserve mediæval compliments of this kind. He knew the Bible well, and was steeped in the congenial atmosphere of the Old Testament. He knew Church-history and law well: as they were told at the Lateran. Döllinger has shown that his principal lieutenants in the work of reform--Bishop Anselm of Lucca (a second Anselm), Bishop Bonitho, and Cardinal Deusdedit--were unscrupulous in their use of historical and canonical documents, and that Gregory relied on these as well as on the older forgeries. 1 I am, however, chiefly concerned with the limitations of his knowledge, and will observe only that his letters, written in robust and inelegant Latin, give no indication of culture beyond this close acquaintance with very dubious history and law. The Arab civilization had by this time enkindled some intellectual life in Europe: men were not far from the age of Abélard. But in this new speculative life Gregory had no share. If we find him, with apparent liberality, acquitting Bérenger in 1049 and 1079, we must ascribe it rather to incapacity and disinclination for speculative matters.
This restriction and inaccuracy of culture strengthened Gregory in his peculiar ideal, and it was much the same with his poor judgment of character, which brought many a disaster on him. Probably men like Hildebrand and Damiani enjoyed a physical debility in regard to sex-life, and sincerely failed to realize that
1 Das Papstthum ( 1892), ch. ii., § 2. See also F. Roquain La Papauté au moyen âge. Roquain observes, leniently, that Gregory was "not entirely exempt from reproach in the use of means to attain his ends" (p. 127 ) and fell into "excesses unworthy of his great soul" (p. 131 ). In his famous letter to the Bishop of Metz ( viii., 21 ) Gregory omits an essential part of a passage which he quotes from Gelasius and materially alters its meaning. When we further find him writing ( ix., 2 ) that "even a lie that is told for a good purpose in the cause of peace is not wholly free from blame," we fear that he was not far from the maxim that the end justifies the means.
the abolition of clerical marriage would inevitably lead to worse evils. The ideal they worked for--the establishment of a spiritual army dead to every human affection, and therefore incorruptible--was magnificent but impossible. Similarly, in the campaign against simony, Gregory never realized the roots of the evil. Bishops were politicians, the supporters or thwarters of the counsels of princes; intellectual culture was, in fact, almost confined to bishops and abbots, and their advice was (apart from their wealth, their troops, and their feudal duties) needed as much as that of unlettered soldiers. Hence princes had a real and deep interest in their appointment. The intrigue for political power at that very time of the great prelates of Germany was notorious. If Gregory had at least confined his strictures to simony in the strict sense, he might have had some prospect of success, for his cause was obviously just. But by his attack on "investiture" 1 he would take away from princes the control of some of their most powerful, and often most mischievous, vassals.
Yet, instead of seeking to deprive bishops and abbots of wealth and troops and political influence, Hildebrand wanted them to have more. He encouraged Anselm of Lucca to lead the Tuscan troops; he proposed in person to lead the Christian armies against the Turks. Throughout life he called for more men and more money, and he never hesitated an instant to set swords flying if he could gain his religious aim by that means.
1 The secular ruler had long been accustomed to bestow the crozier and ring on his nominee for a bishopric, and this was known as "investiture." The practice undoubtedly led to much simony and to the appointment of unworthy men, but, as the event proved, a compromise was possible.
He was as warlike as a full-blooded Norman. Bishop Mathew calls him "truculent," and reminds us how, before he became Pope, Abbot Didier wanted to punish an abbot, who had gouged out the eyes of some of his monks for their sins, but Hildebrand protected the man and afterwards made him a bishop. Didier and Damiani were equally shocked at his political activity. He scorned the distinction between spiritual and temporal things--except when he was endeavouring to keep laymen in their proper place--and argued repeatedly that, if a Pope had supreme power in matters of religion, he very clearly had it in the less important concerns of earth: if a Pope could open and close the gates of heaven, he could most assuredly open and close the gates of earthly kingdoms. He went so far as to say that "all worldly things, be they honours, empires, kingdoms, principalities, or duchies," he could bestow on whomsoever he wished. 1 On this ground he, as we shall see, grasped the flimsiest pretexts for claiming a kingdom as a fief of the Roman See, relying often on forged or perverted texts, and he quite clearly aimed at bringing all the countries in Christendom under the feudal lordship of the Papacy, to be bestowed for "obedience" and withdrawn for "disobedience" at the will of the Pope. I do not admit that he was ambitious, even ambitious for his See. He believed that this sacerdocracy was willed by God and was the only means of maintaining religion and morality in Europe. But there were human aspects of these questions which Gregory ignored, and his bitter and numerous opponents retorted that he was a fool or a fanatic.
This ideal did not merely grow in Gregory's mind in
1 Speech to the Roman synod of the year 1080 ( Migne, vol. cxlviii., col. 816). Compare Ep. , viii., 21. the heat of his combats. It is seen in his earliest letters. Before he was consecrated he wrote to remind "the Princes of Spain" that that country belonged to the Roman See: that the Popes had never abandoned their right to it, even when it was held by the Moors: and that the kings who were now wresting it from the Moors held their kingdoms "on behalf of St. Peter" ( ex parte S. Petri ) and on condition that they rendered feudal military service when summoned to do so. 1 A few weeks later he wrote to Duke Godfrey, referring to Henry IV.: "If he returns hatred for love, and shows contempt for Almighty God for the honour conferred on him, the imprecation which runs, 'Cursed is he that refraineth his sword from blood,' will not, with God's help, fall on us." 2 In June he told Beatrice and Mathilda that he would resist the King, if necessary, "to the shedding of blood." 3 In the same month he compelled Landulph of Benevento and Richard of Capua to swear fealty to the Roman See. In November he told Lanfranc, the greatest prelate of England, that he was astounded at his "audacity" ( frons ) in neglecting Papal orders. 4 In December he wrote to a French bishop that if King Philip did not amend his ways he would smite the French people with "the sword of a general anathema" and they would "refuse to obey him further." 5 A remarkable record for the first nine months of his Pontificate. I shall not in the least misrepresent his work if I dismiss other matters briefly and enlarge on his attempts to realize his sacerdocratic ideal: especially his struggle with Henry IV. His campaign against simony and clerical incontinence fills the whole period of his Pontificate, but cannot be described in detail. Year by
1 Ep. , i., 7.
2 Ep. , i., 9.
3 I., 11.
4 I., 31.
5 I., 35.
year his handful of Italian bishops--remoter bishops generally ignored his drastic orders to come to Rome-met in Lenten synods at Rome, held their lighted candles while he read the ever-lengthening list of the excommunicated, and shuddered at his vigorous imprecations. Then his legates went out over Europe, but few prelates were willing or able to promulgate the decrees they brought, and the campaign succeeded only where it could rely on the staves of the Patarenes or the swords of the Pope's allies. Other episcopal functions, such as settlements of jurisdiction, occupy a relatively small part of his correspondence. It is enough to say that his eye ranged from Lincoln to Constantinople, from Stockholm to Carthage.
In Italy, his chief concern was to concentrate the southern States under his lead and form a military bulwark against the northerners. The Roman militia was strengthened: the petty princes of Benevento and Capua were persuaded that their shrunken territories were safer from the aggressions of Robert Guiscard if they paid allegiance to St. Peter: Mathilda of Tuscany did not even need to be persuaded to hold her troops at his disposal. It would be safe to say that Italy alone would have wrecked Gregory's policy but for the lucky accident of Tuscany passing to the pious Mathilda. She clung to Gregory so tenaciously that his opponents affected to see a scandal in the association.
The chief thorn in his side was Robert Guiscard, who had founded a kingdom in southern Italy and refused to do homage. He laid waste the territory of the Pope's allies, and smiled at the anathema put on him. Gregory, as usual, turned to the sword. The Eastern Emperor had asked aid against the Turks, and Gregory summoned all Christian princes to contribute troops.
He would lead the army in person, he said: supported by the aged Beatrice and the tender Mathilda. The northern princes smiled, and the plan of a crusade came to naught. But it was not merely concern for Constantinople which made Gregory dangerously ill when his plan miscarried. Historians generally overlook his letter to William of Burgundy, 1 in which he plainly states that he wants the troops for the purpose of intimidating--if not conquering--Robert: "perhaps," he says, they may afterwards proceed to the East. He was still more irritated when Robert himself entered into an alliance with Constantinople. Gregory angrily wrote to ask the King of Denmark to send his son with an army and wrest the south of Italy from the "vile heretics" who held it. 2
He was similarly thwarted in nearly every country in Europe, and his anathemas were terrible to hear. I have already referred to his haughty language to Lanfranc, yet the English bishops continued, year after year, to ignore the imperious summons to attend his Roman synods. In 1079 Gregory wrote to Lanfranc that he understood that the King prevented them from coming, and was surprised that the "superstitious love" or fear of any man should come between him and his duty. 3 Lanfranc still evaded, almost fooled, him, and, when Gregory threatened to suspend him, affected to be engaged in examining the claims of an Anti-Pope whom Henry IV. had set up. With William himself Gregory was bitterly disappointed. When, in 1080, he ordered the King to collect the arrears of Peter's Pence and acknowledge his feudal obligations to Rome, William somewhat contemptuously replied that he would forward the money, but would pay allegiance to
1 I., 46.
2 II., 51.
3 VI., 30.
no man. Gregory was so angry that he told his legates that the money was no use without the "honour." 1
The bishops of France were equally deaf to his annual summons to his Lenten synods and his orders that they should punish their King. He threatened, not only to pronounce an interdict, but that he would "endeavour in every way to take the kingdom of France from him." 2 A similar threat of military action was sent to Spain. King Alphonso of Leon married a relative, and Gregory wrote to the abbot of Cluny that if the King did not obey his orders and dismiss her he would "not think it too great a trouble to go ourselves to Spain and concert severe and painful action [evidently military action] against him." 3 This policy of promoting or blessing invasions and usurpations was carried out in the case of smaller kingdoms. King Solomon was ejected from Hungary and appealed to Rome. Gregory blessed the usurper (who craftily promised to be a good son of the Church) and told Solomon that he had deserved the calamity by receiving his kingdom, which had been given to St. Peter by the earlier King Stephen, at the hand of Henry IV. 4 Then Ladislaus of Hungary seized Dalmatia and sought to strengthen his position by paying fealty to the Pope for it; so that, when the Dalmatians attempted to recover their independence, Gregory denounced them as "rebels against the Blessed Peter." 5 Lastly, when the Russian king was displaced by his brothers, and promised to acknowledge the feudal supremacy of
1 VII., 1.
2 II., 5 and 32.
3 VIII., 2.
4 In both statements of fact Gregory was wrong. Stephen had merely accepted a consecrated banner from the Anti-Pope Silvester II.; and Solomon had voluntarily chosen Henry as his suzerain.
5 VIII., 4
Rome if he were restored, Gregory induced Boleslaus of Poland to restore him.
If this kind of procedure incurred the censure of Gregory's great friend and successor, Abbot Didier, we can easily understand the violent language of his opponents. These are usually writers of the LombardGerman faction, and we must now endeavour to disentangle from the contradictory narratives of the partisan writers the truth about his relations with Henry IV. The facts I have hitherto given are taken from the authentic letters of Gregory. Henry IV. was a boy at the time of his father's death, and it is beyond dispute that the prelates and nobles who quarrelled for power shamefully neglected, or consciously misdirected, his education. When he came to the throne he was a wilful, loose-living, and imperious young man, forced into marriage with a woman whom he disliked. Exhortations to abandon simony and avoid evil companions fell lightly on such ears, and, as we saw, Gregory's early letters threatened war. Five of Henry's favourites were under sentence of excommunication, yet the young King would not part with them. Gregory turned to the bishops, but they flatly refused to allow his legates to call a synod in Germany, and his excommunication of the Archbishop of Hamburg only embittered them. Suddenly, however, before the end of 1073, Gregory was delighted to receive a most humble and submissive letter from Henry, and legates were sent to absolve him.
The cause of this action of the imperious young King gives us at once a most important clue to what is called the later triumph of Gregory at Canossa. The popular impression that that famous scene represented a triumph of spiritual power over the passions of man is wholly wrong. It was an episode in a political struggle. Henry's kingdom embraced Saxony and Swabia; and the Saxons cherished a sombre memory of their recent incorporation, while Rudolph of Swabia had a mind to make profit by the troubles of his suzerain and astutely courted the favour of the Pope. Gregory could not fail to grasp the situation, and his struggle against Henry is a series of attempts by the Pope to foment and take advantage of Henry's difficulties with his vassals, ending in the complete triumph of the King.
Henry's submission in 1074 meant that there was a dangerous rebellion in Saxony. The King did not, in fact, part entirely with his excommunicated favourites, and the anathema on them was renewed at the synod of 1075, which also laid a heavy censure on "any emperor, duke, marquis, count, or any temporal lord, or any secular person whatsoever," who claimed the right of investiture. Henry remained friendly: the Saxon war dragged on. In October Henry was sending legates to Rome to confer with the Pope, who had hinted at compromise on the subject of investitures. But the Saxon rebellion suddenly came to an end, and three legates were now sent with a less pleasant message: probably a peremptory claim of the imperial crown. Henry had not only a united Germany, but a strong party in Lombardy. Herlembald was killed, and the Patarenes held in check. Moreover, the recalcitrant bishops were now joined by the Archbishop of Ravenna (who had been hastily excommunicated by Gregory for not attending the Lenten synod) and Cardinal Hugh Candidus. Elated with this support, the young King acted wilfully. He sent one of his excommunicated nobles to Lombardy, crushed the Patarenes, and set up a third Archbishop of Milan, Tedald. 1
Gregory was alarmed at this combination and at first temporized. He invited Tedald to come to Rome for a polite discussion of his claims; he sent Henry a "doubtful blessing" and would compromise on investitures and consider his further demands, if he abandoned the excommunicated nobles. 2 But he gave Henry's envoys, to whom he handed the letter, a verbal message of a more drastic nature. He threatened to depose Henry for his "horrible crimes," and there is good reason to suppose that these "crimes" were, in part at least, the slanderous fictions of Henry's enemies.3 Both were men of fiery and indiscreet impulses, and this impolitic act of Gregory kindled the conflagration.
Meantime a remarkable experience befell Gregory at Rome, and it is not unlikely that he held Henry responsible for it; though it is practically certain that Henry was wholly innocent. The increasing difficulties of the Pope encouraged the anti-Puritans at Rome, and one of them, Cenci, a notorious bandit, burst into the church of Sta. Maria on the Esquiline while Gregory was saying midnight mass there on Christmas day ( 1075). His men scattered the attendants, and one of them struck the Pope with a sword, causing a wound on the forehead. Gregory was stripped of his sacerdotal robes, thrust on a horse behind one of the
1 There was a Gregorian archbishop in exile. The actual prelate may not have been zealous enough for Henry.
2 Iii., 10.
3 A good deal of controversy has been expended on the question whether Gregory did or did not threaten at this stage to depose Henry. Gregory's letter xxvi. (not in his Register, but of undoubted authenticity) to "the German People" expressly admits, or boasts, that he did. For further evidence see Dr. Martens, Gregor VII. , i., 86-91.
soldiers, and hurried to Cenci's fortified tower. Some noble matron was taken with him--one of the strangest circumstances of the whole mysterious episode--and she bound his wounds as he lay in the tower, while Cenci threatened to kill him unless he handed over the keys of the Papal treasury. It is fairly clear that the motive was robbery. Meantime the bells and trumpets had spread the alarm through Rome, and the militia beset the tower and relieved the Pope. This remarkable picture of a winter's night in the capital of Christendom ends with Gregory, who cannot have been severely wounded, calmly returning to the altar and finishing his mass.
Henry's envoys had left Rome before Christmas, and it is therefore a mistake to suppose that the message they brought from Gregory had any reference to the violence of Cenci. They reached the court at Goslar on January 1, 1076, and we can easily believe that they would not moderate the offensiveness of the oral message. Gregory had a deliberate policy of preferring oral to written messages. There may at times have been an advantage in this, but in the present instance it was gravely imprudent. Henry's friends urged him to avenge the insult, and three weeks later a synod of twenty-six German bishops, with a large number of abbots, met at Worms and declared Gregory deposed. The irregularity of his election, the despotism of his conduct, and what was described as his scandalous association with women, were the chief reasons assigned for this action. The decree was sent to the insurgent bishops of north Italy, who met in council and endorsed it, and a priest of the church of Parma volunteered to serve the sentence on Gregory. He reached Rome at a moment when Gregory was presiding at a large synod in the Lateran Palace, and boldly read the sentence to the assembled bishops. Lay nobles drew their swords upon the audacious priest, but Gregory restrained them and bade them hear the words of Henry. His intemperate and insulting letter--so intemperate that the Pope could easily remain calm and dignified-could receive only one reply. The King and all his supporters were excommunicated, and Gregory issued a not unworthy letter "To All Christians" 1 informing them that the subjects of King Henry of Germany were released from their allegiance.
There can be no doubt that Henry IV. had merited a sentence of excommunication, and it is a nice point whether a King could continue to rule his territory when he was thus cut off from communication with his subjects. We may, at all events, gravely question whether the Pope was either politic or just in going on formally to depose the King, and, as the news of this unprecedented action spread through Christendom, even religious prelates shook their heads. Throughout the rest of his life Gregory had repeatedly to defend his conduct, not against the partisans of Henry, but against some of his own supporters. His chief apology is contained in a letter to the Bishop of Metz 2 and is invalid and illogical. He relies on a forged letter of St. Peter, and he appeals to the excommunication of Theodosius by St. Ambrose and the "deposition" of Childeric by Pope Zachary in 753; the former was in no sense a precedent, and in the latter case the Pope merely confirmed the design of Pippin and the Franks. There was no precedent whatever for deposition, and Gregory is severely censured even by modern writers
1 Iii., 6.
2 Viii., 21.
for not observing the canonical forms in his excommunication of Henry. 1
Gregory at once prepared for war. The Duchess Beatrice died in April, and the devoted Mathilda, who was so pointedly insulted, though not named, in her royal cousin's manifesto, put the troops of Tuscany at the Pope's disposal. Gregory also tried to reconcile the Normans with each other and weld them into a common army for the defence of Rome. But his chief reliance was on the Germans themselves. He knew well, when he excommunicated Henry, that the embittered Saxons would leap with joy at the fresh pretext of rebellion, and the intriguing Swabians would secretly welcome the censure. Henry found himself very soon on the road to Canossa. He summoned two councils in rapid succession, but their defiance of the Pope brought him little pleasure when he noted the small number of his supporters. Saxony threw off his yoke at once, and prelates and nobles began to fall away from his cause. Gregory pressed his advantage with fiery energy, showering letters upon the German clergy and people, and in the middle of October a large body of the nobles and prelates (chiefly Saxon and Swabian) met at Tribur, near Darmstadt, to consider the position of the kingdom. Two Papal legates and Rudolph of Swabia presided, and Henry watched the proceedings from the other side of the river.
From this stage onward we are compelled to consult the contemporary chroniclers, and it is almost impossible to disentangle the truth from their contradictory and mendacious statements. It is clear that for seven
1 See C. Mirbt special study of the conflict, Die Absetzung Heinrichs IV. ( 1888), p. 103.
days the Diet held long debate on the situation. Undoubtedly they wished to depose Henry, but, apparently, they were unwilling to recognize in the Pope this dangerous power of deposing kings, and the Diet seems to have ended with an injunction to Henry to make peace with the Pope. According to the monk Lambert of Hersfeld, who seems to have gathered into his Chronicle all the wild cloister-gossip of the time, the Diet decided that, according to the "Laws of the Palace,"--there were no such laws at that time,--Henry forfeited his crown if he remained excommunicated a year and a day, and commanded him to retire into private life at Spires until Gregory should come to Germany and decide the case. The Gregorian writer, Bishop Bonitho, 1 contrives in this instance to improve on Lambert; he tells us that, if Henry submitted, the nobles would accompany him to Rome, where he would receive the imperial crown, and they would then sweep the Normans out of south Italy. One suspects that in this the Bishop of Sutri is betraying a design of Gregory which was certainly not endorsed by the Diet.
The most authentic evidence is the Promissio (or Letter of Apology) which, at the dictation of the Diet, Henry submitted to the Pope. 2 He expressed regret for any affront he may have put on the dignity of the Pope, promised obedience on spiritual matters, and declared that on certain other grave matters he would vindicate his innocence. When this short and dry letter was eventually handed to the Pope by one of the chief prelates of Germany, Gregory was outraged to find that its concluding sentence ran: "But it befitteth
1 Liber ad Amicum, 1. viii.
2 A translation may be read in Delarc, iii., 252.
thy Holiness not to ignore the things repeated about thee which bring scandal on the Church, but to remove this scruple from the public conscience and provide in thy wisdom for the tranquillity of the Church and the kingdom." Gregorian writers insist that this was added by Henry to the draft approved by the Diet, but this is by no means certain. Henry was not a broken man. He had a considerable force with him, and Rudolph of Swabia evidently found that it would be no easy task to displace him. The edict which Henry published at the same time, declaring that he had been misled when he obtained a censure of the Pope, gives one the same impression. He had still a powerful following, and it was agreed to avert civil war by reconciliation and by inviting Gregory to preside at a Diet at Augsburg.
Gregory, in spite of the advice of his friends (except Mathilda, who spurred him on), at once set out for the north. His impetuous journey was, however, arrested in the north of Italy by the news that the German nobles had failed to send an escort for him, and that Henry himself was crossing the Alps with a large army. Mathilda persuaded him to retire to her impregnable fortress of Canossa, and there, about the end of January, Henry enacted his historic part of penitent.
Here the chroniclers are hopelessly discordant, and the full picturesque narrative of Lambert of Hersfeld, on which some historians still implicitly rely, has been riddled by modern critics. 1 It is clear that Henry wished to keep the Pope out of Germany, and he there-
1 One recent student, Dr. Albert Dammann ( Der Sieg Heinrichs IV. in Kanossa, 1907 and 1909), goes to the other extreme, and concludes that Henry blockaded Canossa with a large army and compelled the Pope to withdraw his censure, without a single act of penance.
fore hastily crossed the Alps in the depth of winter. It is clear that a "vast army" (in the words of Lambert himself) gathered about him in rebellious Lombardy, but he pushed on with a few followers (incidentally admitted by Lambert) to Canossa. It is clear that Gregory, on the other hand, was desperately bent on presiding over a council in Germany, and shocked his friends by his obstinacy in refusing to be reconciled 1 ; he had condemned Henry without trial, but he would not absolve him without trial. And, obviously inaccurate as the narrative of Lambert is, 2 it seems to me certain that Henry went through the form of penance on the icy platform before the gate of Canossa. In the letter written immediately afterwards to the nobles and prelates of Germany, 3 Gregory describes Henry as doing penance for three days, in bare feet and woollen robe, before the gates. However impolitic and irritating it was for Gregory to write such a letter, Dr. Dammann seems to me to fail to impeach its genuineness. Indeed in his great speech to the Roman synod of 1080, when he excommunicated Henry a second time, Gregory says that in 1076 Henry came to him "in confusion and humiliation" at Canossa to ask absolution.
Thus the scene which has ever since impressed the imagination of Europe is in substance authentic; though we are by no means compelled to think that Henry literally stood in the snow for three whole days. But the common interpretation of the scene is quite
1 Ep., iv., 12.
2 For instance he describes a dramatic scene in which Henry shrinks from receiving the sacred host, whereas Gregory says ( Ep., iv., 12) that he admitted Henry to communion. His story is full of contradictions.
3 Iv., 12.
false. It was not a spiritual triumph, but a political pseudo-triumph. In reality, it was Henry who triumphed; and one can imagine him jesting merrily afterwards about his bare feet and coarse robe of penitence. He promised to amend his ways, and then proceeded to make a tour of Italy in light-hearted confidence and with all his old wilfulness. He refused to interfere when a Papal Legate was thrown into prison at Piacenza; and he refused to provide Gregory with an escort when the Germans invited the Pope to come and preside at their new Diet. 1 Gregory soon realized that the war had merely passed into a new and more difficult phase, and we must follow it swiftly to its tragic end in the utter defeat of the Pope.
Gregory sent two Legates to the Diet of Forchheim on March 13th, where, with their consent, Rudolph of Swabia was declared King of Germany. The Papal Legates exacted that he should not claim the succession for his family--apparently Germany was to be the next fief of the Roman See--and should abandon investiture. When Henry pressed the Pope to excommunicate Rudolph, he replied that he had not yet heard Rudolph's case--an "unworthy subterfuge," Bishop Mathew justly remarks--and Henry set out for Germany. In the three-years struggle which followed, the Pope adopted a policy which few historians hesitate to condemn. He sent Legates repeatedly, claiming that he alone was the judge: that "if the See of the Blessed
1 Gregorian writers said afterwards that Henry's royal dignity was not restored at Canossa. In point of fact he actually signed his promise of reform as "king" and he refused to take an oath on the express ground that the word of a king of Germany sufficed. Gregory made no complaint on this score until years afterwards, though Henry resumed his royal character the moment he left Canossa.
Peter decides and judges heavenly and spiritual things, how much the more shall it judge things earthly and secular." 1 He even promised the crown to whichever of the combatants should respect his Legates: a remarkable test of the justice he promised to administer. He evidently hoped that Rudolph would win, but feared that the victory might fall to Henry; and, above all, he desired to judge the princes of the earth. At last the Saxons in turn began to abuse him. His Legates, they said, were offering his verdict to the highest bidder--assuredly without his knowledge--and his policy was unintelligible. Bishops were saying that the Papacy had become "the tail of the Church."
At the Lenten synod of the year 1080 representatives of both princes came before Gregory and his bishops, and the great decision was taken. Henry was found guilty of "disobedience," and, after a long and eloquent speech, Gregory excommunicated him once more and confirmed Rudolph in the kingdom of Germany. Bishop Bonitho 2 tells us that Henry had sent an ultimatum: if Gregory did not at once condemn Rudolph he would appoint another Pope. This is, apparently, the real inspiration of the synod and of Gregory's fiery speech. 3 Henry's partisans retorted by excommunicating Gregory and consecrating Guibert of Ravenna as Anti-Pope, and, as Rudolph fell in battle in October, the Gregorian cause was in a lamentable plight. Gregory had, in his extremity, overlooked all the crimes of Robert Guiscard--"for the present" he quaintly
1 Iv., 24.
Bk. ix. 3 It may be read in Migne, vol. cxlviii., col. 816. It includes the imprecation on Henry, "May he gain no victory as long as he lives," and again asserts that all honours and powers are the disposal of the Pope.
said in the treaty--and made an alliance with him, but Robert was still engaged in the East, and Henry's troops made great havoc in Mathilda's dominions. Yet Gregory repeated his excommunication of the King, and wrote letters all over Europe to defend his action and obtain money and troops.
Several years passed in this indecisive warfare, Henry wearing down the Tuscan troops and cutting off supplies from Rome. At length, toward the end of March, 1084, the Romans, weary of the long siege, opened their gates to Henry, and Gregory shut himself in the impregnable fortress of Sant' Angelo. From the windows, for two dreary months, Gregory had to watch the progress of the victorious Imperialists and the triumph of the Anti-Pope, Clement III. In May he was elated by the message that Henry had fled and Robert Guiscard was marching to Rome with a large force. But his joy was brief. A brawl with the Romans let loose the half-barbaric Normans, and the city was visited with one of the most pitiless raids in its eventful history. Thousands of the Romans were sold into slavery: sacred virgins and matrons were savagely raped: large districts of the city were burned to the ground. For this the infuriated Romans cast the whole blame on the Pope, and he was forced to retire with Robert. In penury and impotence he rode into the abbey of Monte Cassino, where Abbot Didier would hardly fail to remind him that they who appeal to the sword are apt to perish by the sword, and then on to Salerno. Surrounded by the shrunken remains of his supporters he made a last appeal to the Christian world to espouse his cause, and he feebly cast forth his last anathemas. But the fight was lost, and he wearily drew his last breath on May 25, 1085. "I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile," he said. It was not wholly true. He was exiled by the people of Rome, whose devastated homes made them heap curses on his iron policy. History honours the purity of his ultimate aim, the heroism with which he pursued it, the greatness, with all its defects, of his character; it sternly condemns the means he employed, the tortuous and dangerous character of his reasoning, the appalling claim that kingdoms were toys in his hand. He failed; but he had, in reality, so strengthened the frame of the Papacy that it would take an earthquake to shake it.
INNOCENT III.: THE PAPAL ZENITH
THAT Papal policy or ideal of which we have traced the development in the minds of the greater Popes attains its fullest expansion during the Pontificate of Innocent III. Historians usually assign the year 1300 as the date of the culmination of the Papal system, but it had in reality attained its full stature under Innocent III. It did indeed make its last impressive display of world-power under Boniface VIII., but there had been no material contribution to its frame since the death of Innocent, and the thirteenth century had fostered the growth of the influences which were destined to undo it. In the fourteenth century came the demoralizing residence in Avignon and the Great Schism: in the fifteenth century the renaissance of culture and development of civic life, which enfeebled the Popes and strengthened their subjects, were completed: in the sixteenth century Luther and Calvin smote the colossus. Innocent III. is the last great maker of the Papacy.
The work of the eighteen Popes who occupied the throne between the death of Gregory VII. and the election of Innocent might not ineptly be described in a line: they sought, and failed, to wield the heavy weapons of Hildebrand. In virtue of the falsified letters, canons, charters, and chronicles which were now accepted throughout Europe, they proclaimed that they had the disposal of earthly kingdoms no less than of seats in heaven, and they thus brought on themselves a century of strife in which only the stronger men could find much time for strictly Pontifical duties. They were men of sober life and, generally, high character, yet the very nature of their ideal involved such struggles that the Papacy had to await a fortunate conjunction of circumstances before the ideal could be realized. The conflict with Henry IV. continued until, his two sons having been persuaded to rebel against him and his second wife encouraged to besmirch his reputation, before the assembled prelates of Christendom, with charges as foul as they were feeble in evidence, he, in 1097, quitted Italy for ever. Then Urban II., who was responsible for this gross travesty of spiritual justice, cleared Rome by means of Norman swords and rallied Christendom about him by a declaration of the First Crusade. But so tainted a legacy of peace could not last. Henry V. proved more exacting than his father, and another prolonged struggle absorbed the energy of the Popes until the fifty years' war over investiture was settled by a compromise at Worms in 1122. 1
Bernard of Clairvaux, rather than the successive Popes, was the spiritual master of Europe in the comparative peace after Worms. During nearly the whole of the second half of the twelfth century the Papacy
1 The clergy were to be free to elect their bishop, though in Germany the election had to take place in the presence of the Emperor or his representatives; this was a virtual retention of the imperial veto. Investiture with ring and crozier was replaced by a touch with the royal sceptre.
was distracted by the incessant revolts of the Romans. The streets, even the churches, of Rome were stained with blood, year after year, and the Popes repeatedly fled. The rise of Frederic Barbarossa complicated the struggle, and the Popes had little opportunity to exercise the powers they had won, without thinking of any extension of their claims. At last, in 1198, the Papacy once more fell to a man of commanding personality and was lifted to the zenith of its power.
Lothario de'Conti di Segni was born about the year 1160. His father was Count Trasimondo of Segni: his mother belonged to the noble Roman family of the Scotti, which included several cardinals of the antiImperialist school. After receiving an elementary education at Rome, he was sent to Paris for theology, and to Bologna for law. The scholastic movement was now stimulating Europe and creating great schools; indeed Pope Alexander III. had, though not from cultural motives, fostered the movement by favouring the activity of free teachers. Profane letters were, however, still little cultivated. Lothario took a degree in the liberal arts, but he was soon wholly absorbed in theology and canon law; the correct and virile Latin of his letters is very far from the classical models. Under the Pontificate of his maternal uncle, Clement III., he returned to Rome a young man of the most ascetic character and most finished ecclesiastical culture. He was made a canon of St. Peter's, and, in his twenty-ninth year, a cardinal of the Roman Church.
The Pontificate of Clement ended, apparently, the long struggle of the Popes and the Romans. The Roman nobles were as turbulent as ever, but one finds a more respectable element of dissension in the city at this time. The democratic ideas of that brilliant and too little appreciated thinker, Arnold of Brescia, had taken root in Rome, and a Republic, with a Senate of fifty-six members, had been established in the Capitol. Hadrian IV. had blighted this premature experiment by an interdict in 1155, but the struggle continued and the Popes lived little in the capital until the year 1188. Clement, a courtly and diplomatic Roman, made peace with his countrymen, and damped the democratic ardour by a shower of gold and of ecclesiastical favours. The Papacy resumed the government of the city, and the nominal power of the Senate was allowed to pass into the hands of one man, "the Senator." Clement died in 1190, and, as his successor, Celestine III., was a member of the Orsini family, which was bitterly hostile to the Scotti, there was no room in the Lateran for Lothario Conti. Nepotism was now so far accepted in the Papal palace that we shall find Innocent himself following the tradition. The leisure was fortunate in one respect, as Lothario used it for the purpose of writing a book, On Contempt of the World, which gives us a most interesting revelation of his innermost thoughts at the time when he became Pope. The book is a distillation of the extreme monastic views of the time; it is full of fables, and it depicts man as the very vilest thing in a world which was made solely for the disdain of the ascetic. It was from this morbidly tinted sanctuary that Lothario Conti surveyed the life of his time, which he was soon summoned to rule. In September, 1197, Henry VI., who had duly incurred the imperial legacy of excommunication, died and left his kingdom to his baby-boy Frederic: and on January 8, 1198, Lothario Conti, in the prime of life and the most sombre stage of his meditations, became Innocent III.
Although he occupied the Papal throne only eighteen years, we have more than five thousand letters, or parts of letters, dispatched by him to all parts of Christendom: more than five hundred of them were written in the first year of his Pontificate. Their range stretches from Ireland and Scandinavia to Cairo and Armenia. In that vast territory nothing of importance happened in which he did not intervene; and there was hardly a prince or baron whom he did not excommunicate, or any leading country which he did not place under interdict. His ideal was that of Gregory VII: the Papal States of Europe--he wanted to add nearer Asia --trembling under the Roman rod. Writing to the Emperor of Constantinople he elaborated his famous conception of earthly empire as the moon, shining faintly by light borrowed from the spiritual power. The Papal theory had reached its culmination, and we may proceed at once to attempt to compress the portentous activity of Innocent III. into a few compartments. 1
One naturally inquires first how this spiritual autocrat confronted the democratic faction at Rome. At the outset he showed a little of the accommodating temper which he always held in reserve behind his profession of rigour. His attendants flung showers of coin on the greedy people when he first passed between them, and, reluctantly, and on the lowest known scale, he distributed the backsheesh with which each incoming
1 Fortunately, his work is little complicated by dispute, since his letters are so abundant. There is a contemporary life or panegyric ( Gesta Innocentii Tertii ), but it must be read with caution. Of modern biographies the great work of Achille Luchaire (6 vols., 1904-8) has superseded all others; though, as it scarcely ever indicates its authorities, the less discriminating work of Hurter is still useful. In English there is a good, but rather affected, sketch by C. H. C. Pirie-Gordon, Innocent the Great ( 1907). Milman is particularly good on Innocent III.
Pope had to win the smiles of every official in the Palace and the city. There were murmurs, and they increased when he proceeded to compel the Prefect (who was understood to represent the Empire) and the Senator (who represented the Romans) to take oaths of allegiance to himself. By this stroke he expelled the last bit of reality out of the "free commune" of Rome, and cast off the last trace of an imperial yoke. He abolished the Noble Guard and the lay officials of the Palace: he deposed the judges appointed by the Senator and appointed less corrupt men: he drove the money-changers and merchants out of the Lateran courtyard, stamped on the parasites who fed on foreign pilgrims, and drew up a strict tariff of fees for the Papal services. He was by no means indifferent to money, as his fighting policy demanded enormous sums. No Pope could be keener on Peter's Pence, and no abbot or bishop dare approach him with a gift not proportionate to his wealth. But it is almost superfluous to say that he was a man of the most rigorous sentiment of justice, and, as long as he lived, the more selfish kind of rapacity at Rome was repressed.
The nobles who led the democratic party, chiefly Giovanni Pierleone and Giovanni Capocci, looked with concern on his tendency and, when he put a Papal governor over the Maremma and the Sabina, instead of the one appointed by the Senate, they pressed the Romans to see that their privileges were being stolen. In 1200 Innocent extricated himself from a difficult situation. Vitorchiano was threatened by Viterbo and declared itself a Papal fief. As Viterbo also was part of the patrimony, and the Romans hated it, Innocent was perplexed. The Romans took the field in spite of him, and won; but, as he happened to be saying mass at the time of the victory, it was ingeniously ascribed to his prayers. In the following year, however, there was more serious trouble. Two small provincial nobles took possession of some estates on the Campagna, and, when Innocent ordered them to restore, they said that they held them of the democratic leaders, Pierleone and Capocci. There was an outcry, but Innocent sent his troops to lay waste the properties of the two nobles in the grimmest mediæval manner, and, in an eloquent speech at Rome, completely vanquished his critics. Then in 1202, during his customary summer absence, the feud of the Scotti and the Orsini broke out with frightful violence, and in the following year the antagonism to the Pope reached its height.
Innocent had, for his own protection, greatly enriched his brother Ricardo, and Ricardo had purchased the mortgages on the estates of one of the democrats, Oddo Poli. As far as we can see, Ricardo acted with legal correctness, but Rome was soon aroused by the sight of Poli and his friends coming naked to church, as a symbol of the "spoliation," and democratic rhetoric rose to white heat. There was a popular rising; Ricardo's towering mansion was burned, and Innocent himself had to fly to Ferentino ( May, 1203). The Romans restored their Senate, and swore to have no more of this Papal nepotism and despotism, but from his retreat Innocent fostered the intestine quarrels of the victorious people, and before long the city was in a state of murderous anarchy. The two hundred mansions of its wealthier citizens were, and had been for ages, real fortresses, and during the whole summer of 1203 their castellated walls were lined with archers, and bands issued forth, with all the engines of war, to assault and burn the fortress of some neighbour. It still remains for some historian of the Papacy to explain this chronic violence and vice in the centre of Christendom during so many centuries. The trouble ended in the Pope resuming the government of the city, and his rule was further disturbed only by one of these popular revolts, in 1208.
We do not fully appreciate the strength of Innocent unless we realize how, while his eyes wandered over the globe, Rome itself demanded so much attention. But he was not merely concerned with its misconduct. He organized the work of charity in the city and did something to promote its commerce. He built a foundling hospital, trusting to reduce the infanticide which he found so common at Rome, and was very generous to the churches and the clergy. From his time the Popes began to use more and more the Palace beside St. Peter's, which he enlarged and fortified, and he spent large sums in adorning other churches and enhancing the splendour of the worship. But these and the other Roman reforms I have mentioned are the mere incidents of his domestic life, so to say. His work was the ruling of the world, and assuredly we must recognize a mind of high quality and prodigious energy when we read the volumes of letters that poured from the Lateran during those eighteen years, and imagine the vast crowds that came from every part of the world to do homage, to ask counsel, and to report the minutest circumstances of their abbeys or bishoprics or principalities.
Italy alone might have absorbed a weaker man during his earlier years. Papal rule was acknowledged--in the manner we have seen--only in the immediate neighbourhood of the city. Over the south and Sicily the widow of Henry VI. ruled in the name of her child: in the north were the leagues of free cities, and the isolated free cities, which had won independence: and the whole country apart from these was falling into the hands of the German generals whom Henry VI. had left there at his death. Innocent, like all the Popes after Hadrian, believed in the Donation of Constantine, to say nothing of the Donations of Pippin and Charlemagne and Otto and Mathilda. Italy belonged almost entirely to the Papacy, and must be recovered. Some historians hail Innocent as a great apostle of the "Italia Una" ideal, and he sometimes presses on particular towns "the interests of the whole of Italy." It is, however, absurd to associate his feeling with the later ideal of Italian unity. He cared for the unity of Italy only in the sense that the Pope was to be its unique ruler. Those Germans--he scorns them--must be driven out. Those free cities, always at war with each other, must be persuaded that the Papal seal will be their best protection. Even that kingdom of Naples and Sicily must somehow pass under Rome; in spite of the fact that Innocent had solemnly accepted the guardianship of the young king.
It is commonly said that the German generals in Italy, like Markwald of Anweiler, were ferocious adventurers eager only to carve little principalities for themselves out of the helpless country. This is the partisan version left us by Innocent's anonymous biographer. They were, with German troops, guarding the Empire for the successor of Henry VI.; they acknowledged Philip of Swabia; and Innocent was at a later date "warned" by an influential group of German prelates and nobles not to interfere with them. But Innocent had several advantages. Henry VI. had treated Italy with barbarity, and numbers of cities threw off the German yoke when he died; on the other hand, Markwald and his colleagues were under standing sentence of excommunication for occupying Papal fiefs like Tuscany. Innocent began by sending men and money to the revolted cities, and inviting them to put themselves under Rome's sacred banner. He travelled through central Italy in 1198, and received the allegiance of many towns. Markwald, the chief enemy, was driven to the south, and Innocent pressed the southerners to rise against him.
Here the Pope had the familiar advantage of Papal policy--a woman on the throne--and he made a use of it that cannot very well be defended. Henry's Norman widow, Constance, was not unwilling to break her connection with Germany, and she seems to have had little appreciation of the political meaning of making Sicily a fief of the Roman See. She was very ill and distracted, and no doubt felt that she was consulting the interest of her son in putting him and the kingdom (of Sicily and Naples) under Papal charge. She did indeed hesitate when Innocent told her the price of his protection. Sicily was to sacrifice all the privileges which William I. had wrung from the Papacy, to pay an annual tribute to Rome, and to render feudal service whenever required. 1 But Constance was forced to yield, and she died soon afterwards ( November 27, 1198), appointing Innocent the guardian of her son and allotting him an annual fee of thirty thousand gold pieces.
Innocent accepted the guardianship of Frederic, and historians comment severely on his next step. In spite of all his fiery letters to the southern clergy and people--even to the Saracens 2 --inciting them to resist
1 Ep., i., 410. 2 Ii., 226.
the Germans, Markwald made considerable progress. Then there came to Rome a certain French adventurer named Walter de Brienne, who had married a daughter of Tancred of Sicily. Tancred had, on resigning Sicily, retained Lecce and Tarentum, and Walter claimed these as his wife's inheritance. Whether or no Innocent had actually promoted the marriage and invited Walter to Italy 1 we cannot confidently say, but it was assuredly dangerous to let such a man get a footing in southern Italy; it was probable enough that he would eventually claim the whole kingdom taken from Tancred. However Innocent blessed and financed his enterprise, on the formal condition that he would respect the rights of Frederic, and soon had a French troop waging more effective war upon the Germans. The struggle ceased with the death of Markwald in 1202, and of Walter in 1205, and Innocent then pressed a design of marrying the young Frederic to Constanza of Aragon. For the time Frederic's rights were respected, but there can be no doubt that these early years spent amidst intrigue and treachery contributed to the development of his anti-clerical spirit.
There was, in fact, a good deal of anti-clericalism growing in Italy. The development of civic and communal life and the comparative enlightenment which was spreading turned many critical eyes on the Roman system. Heresy descended the Alps and found favour in the free cities; even, at times, in Papal cities. I have described how Viterbo was crushed by the Roman troops. Innocent intervened in its favour, after its defeat, and he was then outraged to learn that Viterbo was, like many other cities, appointing heretics (the
1 This is affirmed in the contemporary Chronique d'Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier, ch. xxx.
Cathari) to high places. He spent the summer of 1207 in Viterbo, and enforced very stringent rules for the repression of heresy. These laws were extended to all the Papal dominions, but we shall see the Pope's attitude more clearly when we deal with the crusade against the Albigensians. Innocent was not less emphatic in denouncing the incessant wars of the rival cities, and his correspondence is largely occupied with his endeavours to secure their feudal allegiance to Rome.
A graver problem, in the solution of which his character is often obscured, was presented by the struggle of Ghibellines (or followers of Philip of Swabia) and Guelphs (supporters of Otto of Brunswick) for the imperial crown. Frederic, the son and heir of Henry, being still a boy of tender years, his uncle Duke Philip of Swabia desired to keep the crown securely in the Hohenstauffen family by wearing it himself. Otto of Brunswick also made a fantastic claim to it, got himself proclaimed Emperor at Cologne in 1198, and sought the support of the Pope. Innocent undoubtedly favoured from the start the baseless claim of Otto. The Papacy had come to regard the Hohenstauffens almost as hereditary foes, and Philip actually lay under sentence of excommunication for holding the territory bequeathed by Mathilda to the Papacy; while Otto flattered the Pope by professions of loyalty and docility. But Philip had the better prospect, if there was an appeal to the sword, and Innocent refused for some years to commit himself. He summoned Philip to surrender the Italian prisoners and the Papal provinces taken by Henry, and sent the Bishop of Sutri to absolve him if he complied. To his extreme annoyance the not very clear-headed Bishop gave Philip an uncondi- tional absolution--for which Innocent promptly imprisoned the Bishop for life in a monastery--and thus surrendered the Pope's chance of profiting by the situation.
The rivals appealed to the sword, and Innocent bitterly complained that Philip did not ask his arbitration. 1 He alone, he declared to the princes and prelates of Germany, was the judge of such high causes: to which the princes and prelates replied, in very firm and dignified language, that they would have no Papal interference in the secular concerns of Germany. 2 As the war proceeded, Innocent made it clear that he favoured Otto. He warned the German prelates not to choose an Emperor on whom he could not bestow the crown, and in a letter to the Eastern Emperor he afterwards boasted that he alone kept Philip from the throne. But the war went in favour of Philip, and even when, in 1200, both men sent representatives to Rome, Innocent would not commit himself to more than an eloquent proof that priests were exalted above kings. 3 At the beginning of the following year, however, he declared openly for Otto. He sent Cardinal Pierleone to Germany with the Bull Interest Apostolic£ Sedis, in which he drew up a violent and unjust indictment of Philip and awarded the crown to the loyal and virtuous Otto. The Bull is painfully casuistic, and would have been better if it had stopped at the bold declaration that the Papacy had created the Empire and could bestow it according to its pleasure. While, for instance, it charges Philip with treachery to the interests of his young nephew, it exonerates all others from the oath of fidelity to Henry's son on the ground that an oath
1 Ep., ii., in the Register, " On the Affairs of the Empire ": Migne col. ccxvi.
2 Ep., xiv 3 Xviii
to an unbaptized infant was invalid. 1 The imperial crown was, in plain terms, allotted in the interests of the Church, in defiance of the wishes of the majority of the German nation. Otto hastened to swear that he would defend the Papal possessions (including Sicily), and was proclaimed by a Papal Legate in Cologne cathedral on July 3, 1201.
Innocent now sent out a flood of letters on behalf of his candidate, but the result was irritating. Philip of France roughly refused to recognize Otto; and a letter signed by two German archbishops, ten bishops, and other clerics and nobles, sternly rebuked the Pope for his "audacity" in meddling with things which did not concern him. 1 Innocent's Legates vainly scattered threats of excommunication in Germany. Hardly a single prelate recognized Otto, and, after seven years of the most brutal civil warfare, he was driven out of the country. We are not impressed by the Pope's feverish protests that he was not responsible for this desolation. In 1208, however, Philip, who had been reconciled with Rome in the previous year, was assassinated, and Otto, with Innocent's approval, mounted the throne. To the intense indignation of the Pope, the new Emperor at once cast his oaths of fidelity to the wind and told Innocent to confine himself to spiritual matters. He annexed Tuscany and Spoleto, in spite of all the Pope's entreaties and threats, and was about to march against Naples and Apulia when Innocent launched against him a sentence of excommunication and deposition. Otto was, for the time, an excellent ruler: he had been educated in the English ideas of
1 The Deliberatio, or essential part of the Bull, is given in Migne's " Register of Imperial Concerns," no. xxix. See also the decretal Venerabilem Fratrem, no. lxii
government. But he had refused to be subservient to the clergy, and the German prelates now summoned Frederic from Sicily. Innocent approved the election of Frederic as easily as he had approved that of Philip and of Otto, but he did not live to see how that Emperor in turn defied the Papacy and scorned its political pretensions. 1
Next in interest and importance were Innocent's relations with England. With Richard the Lion-Heart the Pope maintained a friendly correspondence, nor did he annoy the English prelates by any inconvenient censure of the condition of the English Church. In 1199 John Lackland succeeded his brother, and Innocent was even more indulgent to that barbarous and unscrupulous monarch. Into the death of Prince Arthur he made no indiscreet inquiry; he confirmed the dissolution of John's marriage, and, for his shameful theft of the love of the betrothed of the Count de la Marche, imposed on him only the light and useful penance of a general confession and the equipment of a hundred knights for Palestinian service. During the war which followed he made earnest efforts to mediate, though even these were at times marred by his temporizing policy and his determination not to alienate the kings. When the bishops of Normandy, after the capture of that province by Philip, asked him how they were to adjust their allegiance, he weakly replied that Philip seemed to rely on some claim which he could not understand and they must judge for themselves. 2 At length a famous quarrel about the archbishopric of Canterbury
1 See R. Schwemer, Innocenz III. und die Deutsche Kirche während des Thronstreites von 1198-1208( 1882), and E. Englemann, Phillip von Schwaben und Innocenz III. ( 1896). 2 Ep., viii., 7.
drew him into a stern and triumphant conflict with John.
The Archbishop, a worldly-minded courtier of the familiar type, died in 1205, and the Canterbury monks, who claimed the right of nomination, met hastily, by night, without awaiting the royal license to proceed to an election, and nominated their sub-prior Reginald. They sent Reginald at once to Rome, enjoining on him the strictest secrecy until he was consecrated, but the monk made a parade of his high condition as soon as he reached the continent and there was great indignation in England. The Chapter, which disputed the arrogant claim of the monks, elected the Bishop of Norwich, and many of the monks, alarmed at their action or disgusted with their sub-prior, joined in the election. Sixteen monks accompanied the second deputation to Rome, and they supported the declaration of the Court and the Church that Reginald's election was invalid. As, however, the Bishop of Norwich was one of the indulgent prelates, Innocent casuistically annulled both elections and imposed Stephen Langton on the English. John furiously protested that the Pope had insulted his state and threatened to withdraw the English Church from his jurisdiction; shrewdly reminding the Pope that he received more money from England than from any other country.
John seems to have misunderstood the earlier complaisance of the Pope. Innocent was not the man to yield to a threat of financial loss, and he at once consecrated Langton and laid England under an interdict. For some years the affrighted people saw the doors of their churches closed against them and imagined the jaws of a mediæval hell gaping wide for their souls. There was no Christian marriage for their sons and daughters, no Christian burial for their aged; and only to dying persons could the consoling sacrament be administered. In his fury John drove priests and prelates out of his kingdom, but his cruel and extortionate government had lost him the compensating strength of the affection of his people. In 1211 he was forced to seek terms, and a Papal Legate reached England. Between the arrogance of Legate Pandolpho and the passion of the King the negotiation failed, and John was deposed by the Pope. England, Rome repeated, had been a fief of the Apostolic See since William the Conqueror; it was now open to any Christian monarch to invade and possess it. This was a direct invitation to Philip of France to renew those horrors of warfare which Innocent had so eloquently denounced, 1 and, to the intense mortification of the French King, John abjectly submitted (1213). He even handed to the proud Legate a solemn declaration that England and Ireland were fiefs of the Apostolic See, and that he would pay a thousand marks a year for vassalage. The clergy were recalled and compensated, the interdict was raised, and Legate Pandolpho stalked the land with the insufferable air of a conqueror.
If, however, this conflict gives an honourable prominence to the sterner qualities of Innocent, its sequel no less illustrates the weakness which seemed inseparable from the Papal policy, even when it was embodied in a lofty character. Pandolpho behaved so wantonly in resettling the clergy that he presently fell foul of the high-minded Langton: John behaved with a ferocity which drove nobles and commoners to the step of rebellion. Yet Innocent maintained his mischievous Legate against Langton, and laid a Papal malediction
1 Ep., vi., 163.
on the just aspirations of the people. He rebuked the barons for their "nefarious presumption" in taking arms against a vassal of the Roman See; he denounced Magna Charta as a devil-inspired document, and forbade "his vassal" to accede to its unjust demands. He excommunicated the barons when they refused to lay down their arms, and suspended Langton when that prelate refused, on the ground that it was dictated by false representations, to promulgate his sentence. When the barons offered the crown to Louis, son of Philip of France, he issued an anathema against Louis; and in 1216 he issued a sentence of excommunication against Philip himself for encouraging his son. He died before his sombre use of his spiritual weapons, in a carnal cause, was completed. He had, within ten years, raised Papal power in England to its supreme height and then dealt it a blow from which it would never recover. It is futile to plead that he was ill informed on the situation. He knew John, and he knew Langton; he ought to have known Pandolpho. In point of fact, there is no reason to think that he was radically misinformed. His whole action is plainly inspired by the interest, as he conceived it, of the Papacy. 1
I must dismiss very briefly his relations with other Christian countries. Philip of France had, like John of England, discarded his wife and married a woman he loved. But the Papal miscroscope refused, in his case, to discover the remote affinity which, Philip said, made his first marriage void, and an interdict was laid on his kingdom. The terrified priests and people tore Philip from the arms of Agnes de Meran, the mother of three of his children, and forced him to submit.
1 See E. Gütschow, Innocenz III. und England ( 1904)
Only under the later pressure of his conflicts with Otto and John did Innocent discover that there was sufficient prima facie evidence to spend several years in negotiation about a divorce, and, by an extraordinary use of his high powers, he declared the children of Agnes legitimate.
In Spain and Portugal, Innocent found irregular marriages almost as numerous as regular, and his interventions show the same unedifying mixture of priestly rigour and political compromise. Sacerdotal legislation had by this time surrounded marriage with a portentous series of obstacles--forbidden degrees of spiritual and carnal affinity--which sacerdotal power alone could remove, yet the isolated princes of the Peninsula were compelled to marry constantly into each other's families and did not always ask the costly blessing of the Papacy. That this legislation did not improve the sex-morals of Europe, which were at least no better than they had been in pagan times, is well known. Spain was particularly lax, having contracted the gaiety of neighbouring Provence, and her kings may have felt that where unwedded love was so genially tolerated, these academic restraints on wedded love might be disregarded.
Innocent placed the kingdoms of Leon and Castile under an interdict because the King of Leon had married his cousin, Berengaria of Castile, and, when the court of Leon ignored his censures, he predicted that there would be a horrible issue of the unhallowed union. Its first fruit was St. Ferdinand; but Berengaria nervously retired after a few years and left the King to bear his excommunication with Spanish dignity. The King of Castile soon obtained the removal of the interdict, on the ground that it favoured the growth of heresy, but he was then threatened with excommunication because he permitted the Jews to become rich while the Church was poor. Pedro of Aragon was more fortunate. In the course of a journey to Rome he married the wife of the Count de Comminges, and the Pope at once accepted her assurance that the Count had two wives living when he married her, and blessed the union. Pedro, it should be added, swore fealty and an annual subsidy of two hundred gold pieces to the Pope. The King of Navarre incurred an interdict for allying himself with the Moors. All that one can seriously put to the credit of Innocent is that he greatly aided the unification of Spain by spurring its kings to a common crusade against the Moors; if we may assume that the crusade favoured the progress of civilization in the country. Sancho of Portugal also felt, and disdained, the touch of the Papal whip. When Innocent complained of his oppression of the clergy, he threatened--in a letter which Innocent describes as the most insolent ever written to a Pope--to strip his corrupt priests of all their wealth. Innocent at once temporized, but a dangerous illness and fit of repentance soon put Sancho and the kingdom of Portugal at his feet. At his death Sancho left the kingdom wholly subject to Rome and the clergy, though it was not many years before the quarrels of his children again drew upon it the spiritual blight of an interdict.
It would be tedious to describe in detail all the similar interventions of the Pope in other countries. He refused to let Marie of Brabant marry the Emperor Otto, and refused to dissolve the marriage of the King of Bohemia; indeed, he sternly rebuked the King of Bohemia for receiving his crown at the hands of Philip of Swabia. In Hungary he scolded Prince Endre for rebelling against his brother, and he raised Bulgaria to the rank of a kingdom, on condition that it recognized Roman supremacy. He claimed, in a word, to be the king of kings, the temporal as well as religious master of Europe. But we shall more clearly appreciate the qualities of his character and shades of his standard of action if we examine more fully his connection with the Fourth Crusade and the crusade against heresy.
Tripoli, Antioch, and a few small Palestinian towns were all that remained of the European conquests from the Saracen, and Innocent's constant correspondence with the Christian prelates who lingered in the East made him eager, from the beginning of his Pontificate, to inspire Europe to make one more grand attempt to rescue the holy places. For several years he sought, by letters and Legates, to fire the Christian princes, to divert the swords of France and England to the breast of the Mohammedan, and to melt the cold calculations of Venice. But the memory of the last colossal failure--of all the blood and treasure that had been expended on the stubborn task--was too fresh in Europe. In vain he promised, to all who took the cross, a sure entry into Paradise, and hinted not obscurely at the damnation which awaited those who refused. Thin bands of zealots responded to the call, and a larger multitude were induced to take the cross by Innocent's princely declaration that the earthly debts of all who joined the Crusade would be cancelled, and the Jews would be forced to forswear their legitimate interest. The knights of Europe, to his fiery indignation, still wasted their spears on each other, or continued the more pleasant pastimes of the chase and the tournament. Innocent, in a flood of eloquent letters, taxed the clergy, confiscated the funds of erratic monks, and forbade the lay nobles to wear costly furs or eat costly dinners or indulge in tournaments. There were murmurs that the Christians of the East needed no aid, since they were on excellent terms with the Saracens, as the Pope was painfully aware; and that the only sure effect of Crusades was to increase the power and the wealth of the Papacy which organized them. Even the clergy and the monks refused the subsidies he demanded, and he was compelled to sanction a practice which would in time prove the most terrible and destructive abuse of the mediæval Papacy: the penance imposed on confessing sinners was to take the form of a money-contribution. To this day the indulgences which are sold in Spain trace their origin to the Crusades, as the printed bula declares.
At length, in the year 1200, Baldwin of Flanders and a few bishops and nobles formed the nucleus of a Crusade, and the astute Venetians were invited to provide for the transport of an army. In the spring of 1202 the streams of soldiers and priests converged upon Venice, and an army of 23,000 assembled for the fourth assault on the Saracens. But the Pope's joy was soon overcast, and the Crusade proved to be the second most lamentable occurrence of his Pontificate.
When the army assembled near Venice, it was discovered that neither the soldiers nor the Pope had money enough to pay their passage to the East. Venice had by that time fully developed its hard commercial spirit, and its famous blind Doge proposed to remit the debt if the Crusaders would, on their way, retake Zara (in Dalmatia) from the Hungarians for the Venetians. Innocent made the most violent opposition, but the Venetians, disdaining his threats, compelled the im- poverished soldiers to consent, and on October 8th they set sail, under threat of excommunication, to begin their Crusade by the shedding of Christian blood. They took Zara, and incurred excommunication; but Innocent could not reconcile himself to the complete failure of his grand plan. He withdrew the censures they had so flagrantly defied, and admitted, or stated, that they had acted under "a sort of necessity." They were to make some vague "satisfaction" for their misdeed, and push on, with clean souls, to the East. The Venetians alone were not relieved of the censure, but, though knights of a more tender conscience were painfully perplexed to find themselves in the same galleys with excommunicated men, the Venetians showed no concern. They had another check in reserve for the Pope.
Before they left Italy, Alexis Comnenus had arrived from Constantinople to ask their aid in restoring his father to the throne he had just lost, and they were disposed to assist him. One could not, of course, expect the Pope to show the same concern for the blood of schismatics as for the blood of the Hungarians, yet his consent to this fatal and lamentable enterprise is a stain on his record. The sordid squabble of the Comneni family did not deserve the sacrifice of a single knight, and the part of Isaac Comnenus was espoused by the Crusaders and the Pope only because the young Alexis promised money and provisions to the troops and the subjection of the Greek Church to the Lateran. The issue is well known. The Crusaders took Constantinople, sacked the city, and desecrated the churches with a brutality that must have shocked the Saracens; and they then settled down to divide its territory between themselves and the Venetians. The letters which Innocent sent, as the successive news arrived, are painful reading. He must blame their excesses, he says at first, but, after all, these outrages had been merited by the sins of the Greeks; let the Crusaders inform him that the submission of the Greek Church has been secured. At last they send him, for his confirmation, a treaty from which he learns that they have arranged all the affairs, spiritual as well as secular, of the new Empire without consulting him, and he writes more warmly. 'To the outrage they have committed he is still almost insensible; it is their audacity in ruling the new Church--in permitting the hated Venetians to select a Patriarch--which excites his anger.
The last phase of the enterprise caused him grave distress. Instead of proceeding to the East, the Latins set up an Empire and several petty princedoms, and the Greeks disdainfully watched their quarrels and awaited their own opportunity. Monks and priests were summoned from France, but the people were secretly wedded to their old religion and the new Church was a hollow sham. For years Innocent had to maintain a fretful correspondence, settling quarrels about jurisdiction and property, and scolding his Crusaders for their oppression and spoliation of the clergy. But it is needless to recount all the details of that historic failure. The weariness of Innocent may be appreciated from the fact that in 1213 he naïvely wrote to the Khalipha himself, beseeching him "in all humility" to restore to the Christians the land which they had not the courage or the interest to win by the sword.
The crusade against the Albigensians was more successful, and even more lamentable, and I need do no more here than elucidate Innocent's relation to that monstrous crime. The degradation of morals and of religious practice, the corruption of the clergy, and the stupendous claims of the Papacy, had already provoked in Europe the beginnings of protest. A somewhat modified form of Christianity's old rival, Manichæism, had lingered in the East and had in time mingled with the austere Christianity of the Pauline Epistles. From the Eastern Empire it had spread to Bulgaria, and from there, in the thirteenth century, it passed rapidly over Europe, assimilating all the anti-clerical and antiritualist feeling which the corruption of the time inspired. In one or other form it obtained considerable strength in Switzerland, Piedmont, and the south of France, and it was fast gathering recruits in Italy and Spain. The light-living princes of Languedoc had little inclination to persecute; nor would they think that, if one might sing ribald contempt of the ecclesiastical system in the tavern and the monastery, this disdain was less respectable in the mouths of a generally sincere and upright body of fanatics.
In the first year of his Pontificate Innocent sent two Cistercian monks, Guy and Renier, to convert the heretics and incite the civil and religious authorities to enforce the law. Of corporal persecution he assuredly did not dream at that time, and indeed his letters made it clear that he preferred persuasion to coercion of any kind. The monks failed either to convert the heretics or to induce the bishops and princes of the south of France to persecute (by confiscation and exile), and they were replaced by the more vigorous monklegates, Pierre de Castelnau and Raoul, to whom the resolute Abbot Arnold of Citeaux was afterwards added. Their powers set aside all ordinary episcopal jurisdiction, and, in pursuance of their policy of displacing lax and reluctant prelates, they put the fanatical Foulques of Marseilles in the bishopric of Toulouse. For eight years these energetic apostles worked almost in vain among the heretics. Apparently at the suggestion of St. Dominic, who was just entering the history of Europe, the Pope directed them to raise a corps of Cistercian monks who should live and preach on the model of the coming mendicant friars, but even this device made little impression on the heretics or the light-living Catholics. Arnold and Foulques, in particular, became desperate, and the lamentable policy of persecution began to grow in their minds and that of the Pope.
The principle of persecution had, as we saw, been established in the Lateran centuries before, and the only thing that restrained Innocent from applying it, in its bloodless form, was the refusal of the secular rulers to co-operate. Raymond of Toulouse was too healthily Epicurean to favour either the sombre creed of the heretics or the more sombre creed of the persecutor. Apologetic writers speak with horror of the number of his wives and fair friends, but we do not find that his conduct in this regard, or the similar conduct of other princes and prelates, attracted the attention of the Pope. When, however, he slighted a sentence of excommunication and still refused to persecute his excellent but unorthodox subjects, he received a withering letter. 1 "Who does he think he is?" the Pope asks scornfully, to disobey one before whom the greatest monarchs of the earth bow. Let him cease to "feed on corpses like a vulture"--to break a lance with his neighbours--and obey the Legates, or the Pope will invite a more powerful prince to displace him. As early as November 17, 1207, Innocent bade the King
1 X., 69.
of France, the Duke of Burgundy, and other nobles, prepare for an expedition to Toulouse; and the privileges of Crusaders were promised to all who joined it. Raymond was more moved by the political threat than by the spiritual censures, but there was sullen anger amongst his followers, and on January 15, 1208, the Legate Pierre de Castelnau was assassinated. There is not a tittle of evidence to incriminate Raymond, and it is in the highest degree improbable that he would thus open the gates to his greedy neighbours, but Innocent chose to believe that he had directed the murder. Without trial, he declared that Raymond had forfeited the allegiance of his subjects, and his dominions might be seized by any Christian prince. He spurred Philip of France--who must have been flattered to find himself now described as "exalted amongst all others by God"--to the attack. 1 He addressed a fiery summons to "all the nobles and people of France" to "avenge this terrible insult to God." 2 Philip wanted Toulouse, but he overreached himself in making terms and he dreaded England. There were, however, plenty of nobles willing to lead their men to the plunder of prosperous Provence, and the clergy had become seriously alarmed at the spread of the heresy in France. A vast army, joyous at the rich prospect of loot, converged upon the southern State. Innocent III. knew better than we know the forces he had set in motion. The end sanctified the means.
The next phase was pitiful: the issue is one of the most horrible pages of mediæval history. Raymond sent representatives to Rome to offer submission, and the Pope and his Legates were embarrassed and be-
1 Xi., 28.
2 Xi., 29.
haved abominably. When Raymondjustly complained of the bitterness of Arnold of Citeaux, the Pope sent a peaceful notary from the Lateran; giving the man secret instructions to take no step without the directions of Arnold, who was to be in the background, and writing to Arnold that this Legate Milo is to be only "the bait to conceal the hook of thy sagacity." Arnold, meanwhile, went to organize the crusade, for they intended to impose on Raymond terms which seemed impossible. The helpless Raymond licked the dust: he was stripped and scourged, he had to surrender seven of his chief castles as hostages, and he was forced to promise to lead the troops against his own subjects. Innocent sank deeper into his awful policy. In an amazing letter to his Legates 1 he reminded them of the words of Paul ( II. Corinthians, xii., 16):"Being crafty, I caught you with guile." They were to affect to regard the repentance of Raymond as sincere, and, "deceiving him by prudent dissimulation, pass to the extirpation of the other heretics." In other words, they were to crush Raymond's chief nobles and then, if he winced, crush him. Raymond did not wince, yet the army, with Abbot Arnold as Captain General, moved southward to that historic butchery of the Albigensians.
The modern plea that Innocent could not arrest the avalanche is as wanton as the idea that he was moved by "social considerations." A sentence of excommunication, promulgated by Arnold of Citeaux, would have reduced the army to impotent proportions. Innocent would not disappoint Arnold and Foulques, and those who had responded to his summons; and he felt more sure of success this way. After the first two months of butchery and seizure of cities, he sent his
1 Xi., 232.,
blessing to the ambitious de Montfort. He was, however, superior to his Legates. The ferocious Arnold made every effort to goad Raymond to rebellion, and at last excommunicated him again on the plea that he had not fulfilled his promises. Innocent tried--rather tamely--to restrain Arnold, refused to confiscate Raymond's castles (as Arnold demanded) until he had a just trial, and received him courteously at Rome. At last, utterly revolted by the baseness of the Legates, Raymond winced. He was denounced to Rome, was confronted with terms which no man with a spark of honour could accept, and, when he refused, was excommunicated: the Pope confirming the sentence. Raymond's dominions were transferred to " the Blessed Peter," and de Montfort was to levy an annual tax-on which Innocent is painfully insistent--for the Papacy.
Two years butchery of men, women, and children had not yet broken the spirit of the Albigensians, and at the beginning of 1213, the Legates and Simon were dismayed to hear from Innocent that the crusade was over, and the troops had better proceed against the Saracens; that Raymond had not yet been legally convicted of heresy and murder, and had not therefore forfeited his fief; that, in any case, Raymond's sons, rather than Simon de Montfort, were his natural successors. Two Bulls ( January 17 and 18, 1213) and four letters in quick succession apprised the miserable group that Innocent--largely owing to the intervention of Pedro of Aragon--at length appreciated their misconduct or had the courage to consult his better feelings. Unhappily, his courage did not last long. They stormed Rome with their remonstrances, and Innocent yielded. As, moreover, the King of
Aragon failed in his attempt to reduce them by arms, the cause of Raymond was utterly lost and his territory was made over to Rome. To the end Innocent wavered between his more humane feeling and the policy he had so long countenanced. He refused to confirm the appointment of Simon as sovereign (under Rome) of the whole territory, and when Arnold (who was now Archbishop of Narbonne) quarrelled with Simon over the title of Duke of Narbonne, he supported Arnold. At the Lateran Council, which was to decide the issue, he made a plea for leniency to Raymond and justice to his heirs, but he yielded to the truculent priests, and the unhappy prince was cast aside with an annual pension of four hundred marks. Innocent did not live to see the arrogant Arnold excommunicate de Montfort, and the two Raymonds return and win back much of their estate.
Causa caustæ est causa causati, the schoolmen used to say. The Pope who maintained Arnold of Citeaux, Foulques of Marseilles, and Simon de Montfort in their positions when their characters were fully revealed, and the whole of Europe knew the atrocities they committed, bears the guilt of the massacre of the Albigensians.
The fourth Lateran Council was his last work, and one of the most important Councils of the Middle Ages. He summoned all the bishops, abbots, and priors of Christendom to come, on November 1, 1215, to discuss the reform of the Church, the suppression of heresy, and the recovery of Palestine. A vast audience listened to his opening sermon on November 11th, and for nineteen days they framed laws against heretics, Jews, and schismatics: vainly thundered against the vice, sensuality, and rapacity of the clergy: reduced the forbidden degrees of kindred (in marriage) to foursince there were only four humours in the body: imposed on all Christians a duty of confessing at least once a year: and fixed the next Crusade for June 1, 1216. But Innocent, if he marked with pride the contrast of that gorgeous assemblage to the little group of Christians who had met in an inn in the Transtiberina a thousand years earlier, cannot have been content. Not a single Greek had responded to his summons: grave murmurs at his hard policy and despotic action arose in the Council itself: half the prelates, at least, were unfit to impose reforming measures on their priests: and the ghastly mockery of his last Crusade gave little hope for the future. He did not even appreciate the new forces for good which were rising. He had coldly received, if not actually discouraged, Dominic and Francis. His ideal was power: of love he knew nothing. He flung himself ardently into the preparation for the new war on the Saracens, and died, on June 16, 1216, with the call to arms on his lips. He sacrificed himself nobly in the interest of his high ideal, and was one of the greatest makers of the Papacy, but he sacrificed also much that men inalienably prize, and he began the unmaking of the Papacy.
JOHN XXII.: THE COURT AT AVIGNON
IN maintaining that the power of the Papacy waned after the Pontificate of Innocent III., I do not mean that there was such visible decay as even the most acute contemporary observer might have detected. The thirteenth century must have seemed to the statesmen of the time to strengthen the Papacy. The Dominican and Franciscan friars, quickly recognized by Innocent's successors, impressed on Europe the duty of implicit obedience. The great canonists began to make an imposing body of law out of the decrees of the Popes. Art developed in close association with religious sentiment. The hereditary feud with the Hohenstauffens ended, fifty years after the death of Innocent, with the complete overthrow of the son and grandson of Frederic II. Yet most historians now recognize that the thirteenth century was, for the Papacy, a period of slow and subtle decay. The mighty struggle with Frederic, Manfred, and Conradin exhausted the highminded, but not heroic, successors of Innocent, and it ended only when, by summoning Philip of Anjou, they substituted French for German predominance and inaugurated another exacting period of conflict. The alternative was a period of comparative impotence and flabby parasitism. Into this the Papacy passed; and, unfortunately for it, the degeneration occurred just when the eyes of Europe were growing sharper. It was the date of the early renaissance of culture, inspired by the Moors: it was a rich period of civic development and prosperity: it was the time when castes of keen-eyed lay lawyers and scholars were growing. Arms were yielding to togas in the work of restricting the growth of the Papacy. Boniface VIII. ( 1294-1303) is the last great representative of the Papal ideal in its earlier and more austere mediæval form. His Bull Clericis laicos ( 1296) which declared all clerical and monastic property in the world to be under his protection and sternly bade secular rulers respect it, was one of the last Olympic fulminations; and it was defeated by England and France. Then, in 1300, he declared the Jubilee; and some historians see in that prostration of Christendom at the feet of the Papacy the last notable expression of its world-power. Men said at the time--I am not pressing it as fact--that Boniface was so exalted by the spectacle that he put on the imperial crown and sandals. No one questions that the Papacy decayed from that year. Under the banner of Papal absolutism Boniface made war on the great Ghibelline family of the Colonnas, and on Philip the Fair and his lawyers, and he ignominiously fell. The blameless and gentle Dominican, Benedict XI., who succeeded him, could not sustain for more than a few months the struggle he had inherited, and the Gascon Clement V. then inaugurated what has been too forcibly called "the Babylonian Captivity."
After a secret compact with Philip, after a complete sacrifice of his ideals, and after the distribution of much French gold among the cardinals, he obtained the tiara ( 1305). In 1309 he settled at Avignon, basely surren- dered the Templars (after an appalling travesty of justice) to the cupidity of the King, and settled down, in the company of his sister and niece and dear friend the Countess of Talleyrand-Périgord, to a life of sensuous luxury and the accumulation of wealth. He died on March 12, 1314, leaving 1,078,800 florins (about £500,000) nearly the whole of which went to his family and friends, and the cardinals gathered anxiously to choose his successor.
Clement had died near Carpentras, about fifteen miles from Avignon, and the cardinals met in the episcopal palace of that town. The austere Gregory X. had decreed in 1274 that the cardinal electors should be walled into their chamber (or Conclave) until they had chosen a Pope, and the twenty-three princes of the Church prepared for a desperate encounter in their isolated quarters. There were six Italians, eager to tell a pitiful story of the ruin of Rome and the patrimonies because of the absence of the Pope from Italy. But there were nine Gascons--three of them nephews of Clement, all creatures of Clement--and, as two of the eight French cardinals supported the Gascons, they made a formidable majority and demanded an Avignon Pope: in fact, a Gascon Pope. Day followed day in angry discussion, and the cries of the infuriated followers of the Gascon cardinals without grew louder and louder. At last, on July 23d, there came a thundering on the doors, and the terrified cardinals, breaking through the wall, fled from the town and dispersed. For two years, to the grave scandal of Christendom, they refused to agree on a place of meeting, until at last Philip of Valois enticed them to Lyons, entrapped them into a monastery, and told them that they were prisoners until they made a Pope.
Under these auspices Jacques de Cahors, Cardinal of Porto, became John XXII. He was a little, dry, bilious old man of seventy-two: but an able lawyer and administrator, and a man of wonderful vigour for his age. In his case the more careful research of modern times and the opening of the Vatican Archives have tended to give him, in some respects, a more honourable position in history than he had hitherto occupied. The reader will hardly find him morally and spiritually attractive, but he had a remarkable and powerful personality, and he achieved more than has been supposed. His "Register" in the Vatican Archives contains 65,000 letters. Most of these are very brief notes written by the Papal clerks, but there are many of interest and they enable us at times to correct the anecdotists of his age. He had virulent enemies, and they must be read with reserve. 1
Jacques d'Euse, of Cahors, is said by unfriendly writers of the time to have been the son of a cobbler (or, according to others, a tailor). As he had relatives in good positions, and received a good schooling, this is probably a legend. But his early life is obscure. He studied under the Dominicans of Cahors, and then attended the lectures at Montpellier and at Paris. The story of Ferretti di Vicenza, that he went with a
1 For the letters see Lettres de Jean XXII. ( 2 Vols., 1908 and 1912), edited by Arnold Fayen: a selection of 3653 letters, generally business notes of little importance. Various short lives of John are given in Baluze Vitæ Paparum Avenionensium, vol. ii., and there are censorious allusions to him in G. Villani Historie Florentine : a contemporary but biassed work. Bertrandy Recherches sur l'origine, l'élection, et le couronnement de Jean XXII. ( 1854) is valuable for his early years, as well as Dr. J. Asal Die Wahl Johann's XXII. ( 1910). V. Verlaque Jean XXII. ( 1883), is foolishly partisan, and declares John "one of the greatest successors of St. Peter." Sectional studies will be noticed in the course of the chapter.
trading uncle to Naples and became tutor to the sons of Charles II., does not harmonize with these facts, and we must therefore reject the further charge that he obtained his bishopric by forging a letter in the name of Charles. He seems rather to have taught civil law for a long period at Cahors, and then at Toulouse, where he earned the friendship of the Bishop, St. Louis, and was thus brought to the notice and favour of the Bishop's father, the King of Naples. Charles secured the bishopric of Fréjus for him in 1300, and made him his Chancellor in 1307. When Charles died, his son Robert continued the patronage and got for him the bishopric of Avignon. Clement V. found him a useful man and pliant lawyer. It was he who did the most accommodating research for Clement in the suppression of the Templars, and he was rewarded with a red hat in 1312. He was a sober man, liking good solid fare and regular ways, and kept his energy and ambition in his eighth decade of life.
Robert of Naples pressed his candidature for the Papacy when Clement died, and the Gascons adopted him. He won the vote of Cardinal Orsini--this statement of his critics is confirmed by later events--by professing a most determined intention to transfer the Papacy to Rome. The anecdotists say that he swore never to mount a horse until he was established at the Lateran; and, after a gorgeous coronation-ceremony at Lyons on September 5th, he at once proceeded by boat to Avignon. The Italian cardinals left him in disgust, and he promptly promoted ten new cardinals, of whom nine were French (and three, including his nephew, from Cahors). Of his later seventeen cardinals, thirteen were French, three Italian, and one Spanish. The Papacy was fixed at Avignon.
The little town which Clement had chosen as the seat of the Papacy had the advantage, in John's eyes, of being separated from Philip's territory by the Rhone and being under the suzerainty of Robert of Naples. It was still a small, poorly built town. Clement had found the Dominican monastery large enough for his Epicurean establishment. John returned at first to his old episcopal palace, but the great rock on which the Papal Palace now stands soon inspired his ambition and he began assiduously to nurse the Papal income. Much of Clement's money had been removed and stored by his clever and unscrupulous nephew, the Viscount Bertrand de Goth, who would not easily disgorge it. After a time John asserted his spiritual power, and summoned the Viscount to present an account. Three times the noble ignored his summons, and then, when John was about to proceed against him, he judiciously distributed some of the money among the cardinals and had the case postponed. At length he rode boldly into Avignon to give his account. He had, he explained, with a most insolent air of simplicity and candour, received 300,000 florins from his uncle. This sum was destined to be used in the next Crusade, and he had sworn on the Gospels not to yield it for any other purpose. John was baulked and was compelled to compromise. They agreed to divide the money, and a receipt preserved at the Vatican shows that 150,000 florins were all he obtained of Clement's huge fortune. Clement had left only 70,000 florins directly to his successor, and half of this had to go to the cardinals. All the rest Clement regarded as private fortune and distributed among his friends and servants.
John turned to the organization of the Papal income, and his success in this direction is notorious. Villani says in his Florentine History 1 that at his death John left a fortune of 25,000,000 florins 2 in coin and jewels. Villani is hostile, but he affirms that he had this information from his brother, who was one of the bankers appointed to appraise the sum. Other chroniclers give different figures. It happens, however, that John's ledgers are still preserved in the Vatican archives, and as in this case they completely refute the antiPapal chroniclers--a point certainly to be carefully noted by the historian--they have been published. 3 Some of the ledgers are "missing," but there are general statements (tallying with the separate ledgers), and from these it appears that the entire income of the Papacy during the eighteen years of John's Pontificate was about four and a half million florins (or about £120,000 a year), and that the greater part of this was spent on the Italian war. There is an expenditure of nearly three millions under the humorous heading of "Wax, and certain extraordinary expenses," and the items show that the Italian campaign to recover the Papal estates absorbed most of this. At the same time the ledgers do not quite confirm the edifying tradition of John's sober and simple life. His table and cellar cost (in modern terms) nearly £3000 a year: his "wardrobe" nearly £4000 a year: and his officials and staff about £15,000 a year. Immense sums seem to have been given to relatives--there is one item of 72,000 florins paid to his brother Peter for certain estates-and we know that in 1339 he began to build the famous Papal Palace.
1 Xi., 20.
The gold florin is estimated at about ten shillings of English money.
3 Die Einnahmen der Apostolischer Kammer unter Johann XXII. ( 1910), by Dr. Emil Göller, and Die Ausgaben der Apostolischer Kammer unter Johann XXII ( 1911), by K. H. Shäfer.
In sum, the editors of John's accounts conclude that the Papal treasury would, at his death, have shown a deficit of 90,000 florins but for a loan of half a million from his private purse; and that the total amount left behind by him (besides his valuable library of 1028 volumes, his collection of 329 jewelled rings, etc.) was only about 800,000 florins. It is true that, in spite of the businesslike appearance of the ledgers, we must not take this as a statement of the Pope's entire estate. Vast sums were collected which did not pass through Avignon, but went straight to the Legate in Italy (and possibly elsewhere). Moreover, the "private purse" of the Pope is an interesting and obscure part of his system. It was discovered at his death that he had a secret "little chamber," over one of the corridors, into which a large part of the income went. There are historical indications that he diverted to his private account large sums for military and special political purposes. He did not foresee how Clement VI. would genially dissipate it, with the words: "My predecessors did not know how to live." This account was not entered in books, and we have to be content with the assurance that he left at his death rather less than a million florins in all.
Yet an income of--if we make allowance for the unrecorded sums--something like £200,000 a year, at a time when the patrimonies were mostly alienated, was enormous, and there is no reason to doubt the statement of all historians that it came largely from tainted sources. John's fiscal policy is a stage in the degeneration of the Papacy. Clement IV. had, in 1267, reserved to the Pope the income of the benefices of clerks who died at Rome, and Boniface VIII. had enlarged this by including all who died within a two days' journey of Rome. John extended the law throughout the Church and demanded three years' revenue for each that fell vacant. By his Bull Execrabilis he ordered all clerks (except his cardinals) who held several benefices to select one and surrender the rest to the Apostolic See. He created bishoprics--he made six out of the bishopric of Toulouse--by subdividing actual sees (on the plea, of course, that the duties would be better discharged), and by an astute system of promotions he, when a see fell vacant, contrived to move several men and secure the "first fruits" on their appointments: a vacant archbishopric, for instance, would be filled by a higher bishop, the higher bishopric by a lower bishop, and so on. It was possible to put a complexion of reform on all these measures, but clergy and laity muttered a charge of avarice. Then there were the incomes from kingdoms and duchies ( England, Aragon, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, and Spoleto) which owed an annual tribute, the yield of the surviving patrimonies, the taxes on dispensations and grants, and a certain beginning of the sale of indulgences which, unfortunately, we cannot closely ascertain.
John was not wholly immersed in finance and insensible of higher duties. He created universities at Cahors and Perugia, regulated the studies at Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris, and even (as we shall see) concerned himself with the state of the East. But the only council we trace under his control (held at St. Ruf, in 1326) was almost entirely concerned with ecclesiastical property and immunities, and his correspondence is, in effect, almost wholly fiscal and political. He greatly enlarged the Rota (or legal and business part of the Curia), and filled it with a cosmopolitan staff of clerks, to deal with this large and lucrative side of his affairs. It is pleaded that the Papacy could not discharge its duties without this wealth and power; and it must seem unfortunate that the acquisition and maintenance of the wealth and power left so little time for the duties they were to enable the Pope to discharge.
Watered by this stream of gold, Avignon flourished. John was generous to his family and his cardinals: palaces began to rise above the lowly roofs of the town: a gay and coloured life filled its streets. A Papal household costing £25,000 a year would of itself make an impression. We know Avignon best in the later and even richer days of Benedict XII. and Clement VI. who followed John. Not far away, even in the days of John, dwelt a writer who was destined to immortality, and he passed scathing criticisms on Avignon. Petrarch is a rhetorician and poet, as well as a fierce opponent of the Avignon Papacy, but one cannot lightly disregard his assurance that Papal Avignon was "Babylon," "a living hell," and "the sink of all vices." 1 He is chiefly describing Avignon under Clement VI., but he says that it is only a change "from bad to worse" since John's days.
An episode that occurred soon after John's elevation is, perhaps, more convincing than Petrarch's fiery rhetoric, since its features were determined in a legal process. Hugues Géraud, a favourite of Clement V., had obtained from that Pope the bishopric of Cahors, paying the Papal tax of a thousand florins for it. He
1 See, especially, the book of his letters " Sine titulo," most of which contain appalling invectives on the Popes and cardinals and clergy. Epistola xviii, is a classical picture of vice, even among the elderly clergy. Its chief defect is to associate the name of tolerably respectable Babylon with such a picture.
proceeded to make his possession as lucrative as possible and live comfortably on the revenue his clerks extorted for him. John's townsfolk appealed to him, as soon as he settled in Avignon, and he summoned the Bishop to his court. Hugues Géraud sealed the lips of his priests by an oath of silence, but, of course, a Pope could undo that seal, and the inquiry revealed enormities on the part of the Bishop. Toward the close of the inquiry certain men were arrested bringing mysterious packages into the town. They had with them various poisons and certain little wax images concealed in loaves. The Bishop and his chief clerks were at once arrested, and, although the Papal officials used torture to open their lips, the substance of their story seems reliable. Fearful of the issue, Hugues Géraud had applied to a Jew at Toulouse, and to others, for these poisons and wax images. It was proved in court that members of the Papal household, including a cardinal, were bribed to facilitate the poisoning, and that the wax images, which were not effective without the blessing of some prelate, were actually blessed by the Archbishop of Toulouse. The Archbishop pleaded that he had no suspicion of the awful purpose of these images --familiar as they were in the Middle Ages--but he soon fled from Toulouse, and it is conjectured that he had hoped that the death of the Pope would save his diocese (and income) from the threatened dismemberment. 1
Some of these images had already been smuggled into Avignon and the Bishop and his archpriest had, in the well-known mediæval manner, set up one of them
1 See a full (and conservative) analysis of the evidence in E. Abbe Hugues Géraud ( 1904). I am entirely ignoring the gossipy chroniclers of the time, whom Milman too frequently follows.
as representative of the Pope's nephew, Cardinal Jacques de Via, and stabbed it in the belly and legs with silver styles, while the wicked Jew repeated the suitable imprecations. John XXII. fully shared the views of his age in regard to these magical practices, and we can imagine how he and others were confirmed in that belief when, in the course of the trial, Jacques de Via sickened and died. The trial came to a speedy conclusion. The Bishop of Cahors was dragged by horses through the town and burned at the stake: his numerous clerical and lay accomplices were adequately punished: and John spurred the Inquisitors to a deadly campaign against magicians throughout the country. Some of the cardinals were involved in this or a similar plot, but John shrewdly disarmed them with gold rather than make powerful enemies.
These details will suffice to make clear the state of the clergy and laity at the close of a century which some writers appraise as one of profound inspiration, and we must go on to consider the large policy which John's wealth was intended to support. The central theme is, once more, the political struggle with the Emperor--the undying curse which temporal power had brought with it--but we cannot understand this aright unless we first regard a spiritual struggle of great interest.
The followers of Francis of Assisi had branched into the customary parties of rigourists and liberals. On the one hand were the great body of the friars, living in large comfortable monasteries, raising a stupendously rich church over the bones of their ascetic founder. On the other hand were the faithful minority, the genuinely ascetic, casting withering reproaches on the liberals, assimilating much of the mystic and--we may justly say--protestant feeling which was growing in Europe. There were bloody conflicts as well as highly seasoned arguments. The "Spirituals" and "Fratricelli" could not but regard the wealth and sensuality of the higher clergy as an apostasy from the Christian ideal, and they had become one of the most pronounced "protestant" sects of the time and were anathematized repeatedly by the Popes. During the Papal vacancy the Spirituals had prospered and become more strident. Christendom had apostatized, and they were the heralds of a new religion, revealed to Francis of Assisi. This arrogant Papacy and priesthood must disappear before true religion can flourish.
In the spring of 1317 John condemned them, and, when they still preached revolt, summoned about sixty of them to Avignon. They used very plain speech and received a very plain reply. The Papacy had now discovered that persistent or "contumacious" disobedience amounted to heresy, and the Inquisitors belonged to the rival Dominican order. So several sons of St. Francis were burned at the stake--four were burned at Marseilles on May 7, 1318--and many were cast into prison. But John went too far. He ordered the Franciscan authorities to consider whether absolute poverty was the genuine basis of their rule, and they decided that it was: in the sense of a Bull ( Exiit qui seminat ) of Nicholas III., which allowed them "the use" of things without the actual "ownership." John revoked the Bull, and in a Decretal of December 8, 1322 ( Ad Conditorem ), declared that this was impossible nonsense. When the friars retorted that such poverty had actually been practised by Christ and his Apostles, John consulted the learned doctors of Paris and, in the Decretal Cum inter nonnullos ( November 12, 1323), pronounced this thesis heretical. The "Spirituals" were now reinforced by abler men, who fled to Italy and joined the anti-Papal campaign of Louis of Bavaria. Michael de Cesena, the General of the Order, nailed to the door of Pisa cathedral a document in which he impeached John for heresy. William of Ockham, the English friar, one of the most acute of the later schoolmen, and others, discharged a shower of invectives which would have made the fortune of a sixteenth-century Reformer. John was "Anti-Christ," the "Dragon with Seven Heads," and so on. They induced Louis of Bavaria to declare John's Decretals heretical, and fought shoulder to shoulder with the learned Paris doctors, Marsiglio of Padua and Jean of Jandun, whose Defensor Pacis ( 1324) was a crushing indictment of the Papal pretensions and vindication of the secular power. All over Italy and Germany there was a fierce scrutiny of the bases of the Papal claims. The Reformation was commencing, two centuries before Luther.
The spiritual struggle had thus merged in the political struggle, owing to the common opposition to John XXII., and this must now be considered. Frederic of Austria and Louis of Bavaria were both chosen King of the Romans, and, as neither had had the full number of votes, there was the not unfamiliar struggle for recognition. They disregarded John's summons to his tribunal, took to the sword, and Frederic was beaten and imprisoned in 1322. John coldly acknowledged Louis's letter announcing his victory; unquestionably he from the first wanted the imperial crown to pass to France and the imperial rule to vanish from Italy. Then Louis invaded Italy, and John declared war. Italy already gave the Pope concern. The Ghibellines, or Imperialists, had grown powerful in the Pope's absence, and their chief leader, Matteo Visconti of Milan, a ruthless and exacting ruler, was " Imperial Vicar" in the country. When Visconti, in defiance of the Pope's commands, gave aid to the Ghibellines of Genoa, John, who claimed to represent the Empire during the "vacancy," withdrew his title of Vicar and awarded it to Robert of Naples. Robert went to consult John at Avignon, and a campaign followed. Cardinal Bertrand de Poyet--who was, says Petrarch, so much like John "in face and ferocity" 1 that one could easily credit the rumour that he was John's son--was sent to direct the Papal cause and to denounce the Viscontis to the Inquisition. Matteo was found guilty of heresy (or contumacious refusal to abandon the title of Vicar), and he and his son were charged with oppression of the clergy (which is plausible enough) and with a quaint and amusing mixture of magic and other devilry. 2 Possibly John relied more confidently on the troops of Philip of Valois and Henry of Austria, whom he successively summoned to Italy; but they retired almost without a blow. Matteo repented and died, but his sons and their associates continued the war.
At this juncture Louis conquered Frederic and sent word to the Legate to keep his troops out of imperial territory. When the Legate refused, he joined the Ghibellines and drew from John a vigorous denunciation. He was to abandon the "heretics" and come to
1 Ep. xvii. of the book "Sine titulo."
2 See Michel, "Le Procès de Matteo et de Galeazzo Visconti," in Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire, xxix. ( 1909), and H. Otto, "Zur Italienischen Politik Johanns XXII.," in Quellen und Forschungen aus Italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken, Bd. xix. ( 1911).
Avignon for the examination of his claim to the Empire. Louis, retorting (under the inspiration of the friars) that there were heretics at Avignon as well as in Italy, went his way, and John turned to France. Charles the Fair, the new King, had discovered that, when Clement V. had authorized his marriage with Blanche of Burgundy, a remote godmothership had been overlooked, and he was in the painful position of living with one to whom he was not validly married. John declared the marriage void, allowed Charles to marry another lady, and was soon in conference with Charles and with Robert of Naples. Germany took alarm at this plain hint of an intention to make Charles Emperor; the Italian spiritual war upon the Pope was vigorously repeated in that country, and the Diet of Ratisbon rejected John's authority and called for a General Council.
Louis, in 1326, became reconciled with Frederic of Austria and was recognized in Germany as sole Emperor, but John had gone too far to withdraw, or was too deeply involved with Charles of France and Robert of Naples. In alliance with the Ghibellines, Louis made a triumphant tour over Italy, and on April 18, 1328, to the immense joy of his throng of rebel supporters, solemnly declared, in St. Peter's, that "James of Cahors" was guilty of heresy and treason. 1 Friar Peter of Corbara was substituted for him, with the name of Nicholas V., and Rome exulted in the restoration of the Papacy. But the drama ended as it had often ended before. Louis oppressed the country and alienated his supporters; and before the end of the year Friar Peter was, with a halter round his neck, at the Pope's feet in Avignon and Louis was back in Germany.
1 Baluze, ii., 512; and a later indictment, p. 522.
John refused to compromise honourably with Louis, and the agitation against the Papacy in Germany, whither all the rebels had now gone, was more bitter than ever.
The next phase of the struggle is not wholly clear. John of Bohemia intervened and overran Italy. It seems probable that the Pope had nothing to do with this invasion, and at first suspected that John was in league with Louis; but that, as John made progress and had friendly communication with Avignon, the Pope began to hope that the new development offered him a stronger King of Italy (under Papal suzerainty) than Robert and a less oppressive protector than Philip VI. of France. 1 Philip and John visited the Pope at Avignon, and it was announced that John was to be recognized as King of part of Italy. The curious alliance of the three reveals some miscalculation. Philip must have trusted that John of Bohemia would work for him, but the Pope had assuredly no idea of abandoning his claim to Italy. The issue was singular. The Italians, in face of this alliance, united under Robert of Naples and overcame the Papal and Bohemian troops. John had, as part of the campaign, announced his intention of transferring the Papal Court to Bologna, and the Legate actually began to erect a palace for him. When the Bolognese realized that John had no serious intention of coming, they joined the Imperialists and cast out the Legate and his troops. It is said that the collapse of his costly Italian campaign weighed so heavily on the Pope that he did not leave his palace during the year of life which still remained.
John's relations with other countries are not of great interest. He was almost the master, rather than the
1 See the essay on John's policy, by H. Otto, quoted above.
slave, of the three French monarchs who ruled during his Pontificate, and some of his letters paternally chide them for such defects as talking in church. In letters to Edward of England he tried to reconcile that monarch with Robert Bruce, and he begged more humane treatment of the Irish, who had appealed for his intervention. In Poland he excommunicated the Teutonic knights for taking Danzig and Pomerania from King Ladislas. His eye wandered even farther afield. He was genuinely interested in the fate of Christians in the East, and sent a mission to the Sultan, who sharply dismissed it. No Pope had, in a sense, a wider horizon, for John not only sent friars to preach in Armenia and Persia, but actually appointed a Legate for India, China, and Thibet. Yet his ruling of the Christian world was singularly slender in comparison with that of his great predecessors. His energy was absorbed in fiscal and political matters. In co-operation with Philip he sent a fleet against the Saracens, and it won a victory, but the Crusade he announced on July 26, 1333, never went beyond that naval success. On the other hand, when the Pastoureaux, a wild rabble, marched over France proclaiming a popular Crusade, John excommunicated them for taking the cross without his permission; of their appalling treatment of the Jews he made no complaint, nor did he move when the lepers of France were brutally persecuted on some superstitious charge of the time. He was oppressive to the Jews, and ordered the burning of the Talmud. He has, in fine, the distinction of putting forward a doctrine which his Church condemns as heretical. Preaching on All Saints' Day in 1331, he suggested that probably the saints did not enjoy the direct vision (or Beatific Vision) of God in heaven, and would not do so until after the Day of Judgment. There is no doubt whatever that he held this as an opinion, though he made no effort to impose it on others; beyond a certain liberality in bestowing benefices on clerics who supported him. There was a violent agitation in France. The Dominican friars and the universities strongly opposed the view, and, when the General of the Franciscan Order thought it advantageous to support the Pope, the King of France swore that he would not have his realm sullied by the heresy. This agitation, and John's correspondence with Philip VI., make it quite clear that the Pope held the heresy, as an opinion. A few days before he died, however, he wrote a Bull-at least, such a Bull was published by his successor-endorsing the received doctrine and declaring that he had put forward his theory only "by way of conference." He died on December 4, 1334, bowed with age and saddened by the failure of his work. A more complete study of his letters than has yet been made may in some measure enlarge our knowledge of his properly Pontifical action, but there can be little doubt that money and politics chiefly engrossed his attention. The chief interest of his Pontificate is the light it throws on the preparation for the Reformation. John's fiscal policy, however much open to censure, was unselfish; but he opened to his even less religious successors the road to disaster.
JOHN XXIII. AND THE GREAT SCHISM
THE next important stage in the devolution of the Papacy is the Great Schism, the spectacle of which moved the increasing body of cultivated laymen and the better clergy to examine critically the bases of the Papal claims and seek an authority which should control the wanton conduct of the Popes. The essential mischief of the long stay of the Papal Court at Avignon is obscured when it is called a Babylonian Captivity. Few of the Popes were servile to France, and it was not France that detained them on the banks of the Rhone. The gravest consequences of their voluntary exile were, that the isolation from their Italian estates led them to pursue a corrupt and intolerable fiscal policy: that the College of Cardinals degenerated and became less scrupulous in the choice of a Pope: and, especially, that the rival ambition of French and Italian cardinals to control the Papacy led to an appalling schism. This phase will be best illustrated by an account of the antecedents and the remarkable Pontificate of John XXIII.
The return of the Papal Court to Rome was mainly due to political causes. Clement VI. ( 1342-1352), whose voluptuous indolence ignobly crowned the fiscal system of John XXII., was followed by three Popes who at least desired reform. The third of these, Gregory XI., was too weak or resourceless to curb the ruthless action of his Legates in Italy, and the sight of wild Breton mercenaries and hardly less wild English adventurers (of Hawkwood's infamous company) spreading rape and rapine under the Papal banner, disgusted the cities and states of the Peninsula. Under the lead of Florence, they proceeded to affirm and establish the independence of Italy. It was this threat, rather than the romantic rebukes of a young nun ( Catherine of Siena), which drew Gregory XI., in 1376, from the safe and luxurious palace-fortress at Avignon. A month after his arrival at Rome the Breton hirelings under Cardinal Robert of Geneva committed a frightful massacre at Cesena, and Gregory was almost driven back to Avignon by the storm which ensued. But he died on March 27, 1378, and the cardinals met nervously at Rome to choose a successor.
The din of the bloody encounter of Gascon, Breton, and Roman troops in the streets reached the cardinals in the privacy of the Conclave. One day, indeed, the armed Romans burst into the sacred chamber, and brandished their weapons before the eyes of the terrified French cardinals. Yet it is generally agreed that there was not such compulsion as to invalidate the election, and Urban VI. became the legitimate head of the Church. In the circumstances a delicate and tactful policy was required, and the austere Neapolitan, of humble birth, who secured the tiara was in this respect the least fitted of the cardinals. He violently and vituperatively denounced the wealth and luxury of his colleagues, and he alienated Italians no less than French by the grossness of his manners. Within a few months the French cardinals retired to Fondi, discovered that the election was invalid on account of intimidation, and set up Robert of Geneva, a ruthless soldier and entirely worldly-minded priest, as AntiPope, with the title of Clement VII. So the schism began, and Christendom split into two bitterly hostile "obediences." Clement retired to Avignon, and preyed on France more avariciously than John XXII. had, done: Urban's impetuous rudeness wrapped Italy in a flame of war once more. In 1389 another Neapolitan, Boniface IX., succeeded Urban, and it is during his Pontificate that there came upon the scene Baldassare Cossa, the unscrupulous adventurer who became John XXIII.
Cossa was a Neapolitan, and is said by his hostile contemporary Dietrich von Nieheim. to have been a pirate in his youth. 1 Many recent historians reject this statement, but as it is certain and admitted that Cossa's two brothers were condemned to death for piracy by Ladislaus of Naples, and it is clear that in his youth Cossa took some part in the Angevin-Neapolitan war, it is not improbable that Baldassare was himself engaged in raiding the Neapolitan commerce. He was born about 1368, of a noble but impoverished Neapolitan house, and he seems to have been known to
1 Historia de Vita Papæ, Joannis XXIII. , which must be cited with reserve, as the author had a bitter quarrel with John and is often inaccurate. See C. Hunger, Zur Geschichte Papst Johanns XXIII. ( 1876). More reliable are the references in the Commentarii rerum suo tempore in Italia gestarum (in Muratori, Rerum Italicarum scriptores, xix.), of Leonardo of Arezzo, at one time John's secretary. Leonardo's temperate verdict, that John was "a great man in temporal things, but a complete failure and unworthy in spiritual things," is endorsed by all. Exhaustive bibliographies will be found in E. J. Kitto excellent works, In the Days of the Councils ( 1908), and Pope John the Twenty-third and Master John Hus of Bohemia ( 1910).
the Neapolitan Pope. In his early twenties he forsook the army or the sea, for which alone he was qualified, and went to study law at Bologna. In 1392 Boniface made him Archdeacon at Bologna: in 1396 he was summoned to the office of Private Chamberlain at Rome, and his career began.
He was a typical Neapolitan--dark-eyed, keenwitted, of very robust frame and very frail moral instincts-and the Pope needed such men. During the first seven years of his Pontificate Boniface was kept in check by the older cardinals, but, as they died, he sought money by fair or foul means for the recovery of Italy. France and Spain sent their gifts to Avignon, and England and Germany were not generous. Benefices, from the highest to the lowest, were sold daily, and the "first fruits" were demanded in advance. As the system developed, spies were employed over Italy and Germany to report on the health of aged beneficiaries, and there was a sordid traffic in "expectations." Baldassare Cossa, the chief instrument of this gross simony, had various scales of payment, and the purchaser of the "expectation" of a benefice might find it sold over him to a higher bidder for a "preference." A Jubilee had been announced for the year 1390, and Boniface got the fruits of it, but this did not deter him from reaping another golden harvest from a Jubilee in 1400. As, moreover, many pilgrims, especially in Germany and Scandinavia, were deterred from coming to Rome by the bands of robbers and ravishers who infested the Papal estates, Boniface generously enacted that Germans might obtain the same pardon by visiting certain shrines nearer home and paying to Papal agents the cost of a journey to Rome.
These simoniacal practices are established and ad- mitted, quite apart from the testimony of Dietrich. We must, indeed, admit the evidence of Dietrich when he tells us that he saw these Papal agents spread their silk curtains and unfold their Papal banners in the churches of Germany, and heard them declare to the ignorant people that St. Peter himself had not greater power than they. We may also easily believe his assurance that many of the German clergy denounced this traffic in indulgences 1 and that it brought enormous sums to the Papacy. But the precise sums, and the romantic stories, which Dietrich gives on hearsay, especially in regard to Cossa, must be regarded with reserve. He says that Cossa, when Legate at Bologna, arrested one of these monk-agents returning to Rome with his bags of gold and relieved him; and that the monk hanged himself in despair. These are fragments of foolish rumour. We cannot deal so summarily with his statement that the Chamberlain had his percentage of the profits and let it grow in the hands of the usurers; and that he extorted money from prelates by mendaciously representing that Boniface was angry with them and offering to mediate. All that we can say with confidence is that Cossa was the chief instrument of the Pope's nefarious system, and that, although he had no private means, he amassed an enormous fortune.
1 As in modern Spain, the word "traffic" or "sale" would be resented. The theory is that you give an alms to the Church and the Church grants the indulgence. The amount of the alms is fixed according to the grace required: there are four different bulas in Spain today. It is hardly necessary to add that the agents did not officially sell the pardon of sins, but the remission of the punishment due in Purgatory for such sins as were confessed. Nevertheless we have the official assurance of the Council of Constance (art. 20) that John XXIII. "sold absolution both from punishment and guilt," and there are other indications of this grave abuse.
The Council of Constance established this charge against him, as we shall see.
In 1402, Cossa became Cardinal-deacon of St. Eustace--the Council of Constance found that he bought that dignity--and in the following year he was made Legate at Bologna. We cannot control Dietrich's statement that the Pope wished to put an end to a scandalous liaison of Cossa's at Rome. It is not improbable, and would not be very unusual at Rome, but the fact is that he knew Bologna and was a soldier, and Boniface needed a soldier-legate in the north. In a very short time Cossa won Bologna from the Milanese troops and made it a prosperous and profitable Papal possession. He fortified it and restored its institutions, even establishing a university of a very liberal character. But he ruled it with an iron hand and ground it with taxes. Even its gamblers and prostitutes had to pay the tithe of their earnings, and the grumblers who constantly revolted or attempted to assassinate Cossa were mercilessly punished. Dietrich boldly accuses him of violating two hundred maids and matrons of the city, but we can do no more than suspect that there must have been some foundation for so large a repute. Again the Council of Constance sustains the substance of the charge.
Boniface died on September 29, 1404, and Cossa was not present at the Conclave. He had constantly to lead his troops against external as well as internal enemies. The new Pope, Innocent VII., spent two futile years in dreams of peace, and in November, 1406, the See again fell vacant. Christendom now clamoured for an end of the scandalous schism, and, when Gregory XII., an ascetic and worn old cardinal, assumed the tiara, he was greeted as "an angel of light." He thanked God, with tears in his eyes, that he was chosen to end the schism; if he could not get mules or galleys, he would go on foot to meet Benedict XIII. (who had succeeded Clement at Avignon) and resign together with him. And within a few months Christendom witnessed the still more odious spectacle of the two Popes, both men of advanced years and great piety, straining every nerve to avoid each other and evade resignation. They were to meet at Savona, but, as Leonardo quaintly says, "whenever there was question of their meeting, one would, as if he were a land animal, not approach the coast, and the other, as if he were an aquatic animal, would not leave the sea." Benedict reached Savona; Gregory could not be driven beyond Lucca. The best that can be said for him is that he was ruled by greedy relatives. At last, on a pretext provided by his supporter Ladislaus of Naples, Gregory fled back to Rome and refused to listen to any further counsel of resignation.
Christendom, in disgust, now called for a General Council. France disowned Benedict and, when he excommunicated the King, tore his Bull in halves and ordered his arrest. He fled to Perpignan and Gregory to Venice, and the cardinals began to negotiate with the princes for the holding of the Council of Pisa. Cardinal Cossa, who had disdainfully taken down the arms of Gregory XII. at Bologna, and who was in league with Florence against Naples, took the lead in the new movement. When Gregory excommunicated him, he burned the Bull in the market-place. When Ladislaus of Naples advanced against Pisa, he united his troops to those of Florence and scattered the southerners. When Benedict's representatives asked for a safe-conduct through Italy, he said: "If you come to Bologna, with or without a safe-conduct, I'll burn you." So the Council met at Pisa, deposed Benedict and Gregory, and, in effect, set up a third Pope, Alexander V. The situation being without precedent, there was no canonical basis for such a Council, and no executive to enforce the Council's decisions. Benedict and Gregory--the one under the protection of Spain and the other with the support of Naples, Rimini, and part of Germany--continued to fulminate against each other, and a third discharge of anathemas only distracted Christendom the more.
Cardinal Cossa set out once more at the head of his troops, and, with the aid of Louis of Anjou and the Florentines, swept the Neapolitan troops southward and opened Rome for Alexander. But that feeble and aged Anti-Pope never reached the Lateran. He died at Bologna on May 4, 1410, and Louis of Anjou (representing the French influence) and the Florentines urged on the cardinals the election of Cossa himself. At midnight on May 17th, the expectant crowd at Bologna was informed that the cardinals had come to an agreement, and an hour later Baldassare Cossa, or John XXIII., stepped forth in the scarlet mitre and spotless robes of a Vicar of Christ. There are chroniclers who say that he had bribed the electors, and chroniclers who say that he had bullied them. The first charge is not unlikely, as bribery was now becoming common enough on the eve of or during a Conclave, but we cannot check these rumours. Dietrich von Nieheim admits that Cossa nominated another cardinal for the tiara, and the Council of Constance did not impeach the regularity of his election. He was chosen because of his vigour and military ability. Such was the condition of the Papacy that none seemed to care that he was "a complete failure and worthless in spiritual matters."
He must have been at that time about forty-three years old: a tall, spare, soldierly-looking man, with large nose and piercing dark grey eyes under bushy eyebrows. After devoting a few days to the customary festivities, he set about the work of enabling Louis of Anjou to displace Ladislaus on the throne of Naples and thus destroy Gregory's main support. It may have been in deference to the feeling of some of the cardinals that he first summoned Benedict and Gregory to resign and asked his bitter enemy Ladislaus--the man who had condemned his brothers--to pay the arrears of sixty thousand ducats which he owed to the Roman See. All three contemptuously refused to recognize him, and, as Ladislaus presently destroyed the fleet of Louis of Anjou and advanced against the Papal troops, the prospect was uncertain. John feverishly sought allies and funds. He conciliated England, where the call for a real Ecumenical Council to depose the three Popes was already heard, by suppressing an obnoxious Bull of Boniface IX. and by other graces, and he contrived--after the blunders of his legates had roused fierce opposition--to get a good deal of money from France. Spain still supported Benedict.
The uncertain element was Germany, where, at the time, the outstanding figure was Sigismund of Hungary. Sigismund had stood aloof from the Council of Pisa. For some years he had diverted all money from the Papal agents to his own pockets, because Boniface had recognized Ladislaus, and he detested the French, who had had much to do with the Council at Pisa. His support was of material importance to John, as owing to the death of Rupert the day after John's election, he became the chief candidate for the Empire. To John's delight, Sigismund now sent ambassadors to do homage, and an agreement was reached. The Pope was to validate the appropriation by Sigismund of churchmoneys and influence the Electors in his favour, and Sigismund would support John against Ladislaus. 1 But there was still an element of danger and uncertainty. Sigismund had sworn to end the Papal schism, and he was known to be favourable to the summoning of another and more weighty council. Moreover, John, who was a poor diplomatist, made a serious blunder. The elected monarch became, by law of the Empire, King of the Romans without any Papal confirmation; the imperial crown and title alone were given by the Pope. Yet John, seeking to magnify his authority, persisted in addressing Sigismund until the anxious days of the Council of Constance, as "Elected to be King."
I may tell very briefly the sequence of events in Italy. After a year at Bologna, John proceeded to Rome and flung his troops upon the Neapolitans. They won the important battle of Rocca Secca, but, owing to the incompetence of the Papal legate who held supreme command, they failed to follow up the success and Ladislaus recovered. In the next few months John heard with increasing alarm that Louis of Anjou had returned in despair to France: that the ablest Papal commander, Sforza, had transferred his services to Naples: that Malatesta of Rimini, the only other supporter of Gregory, was winning success in
1 We learn from later letters of the Pope that he worked for Sigismund in Germany, especially when a rival "King of the Romans" was elected. See the evidence in Dr. J. Schwerdfeger Papst Johann XXIII. und die Wahl Sigismunds zum römischen König ( 1895).
the north: and that the Neapolitans were marching against Rome. He levied taxes on the churches and citizens of Rome until they became restless. He petulantly had an effigy of Sforza hanged on a gallows at Rome. He pressed the sale of indulgences so flagrantly, and by such repellent agents, that the reformers of Bohemia burned his Bull in the streets. He excommunicated Ladislaus and proclaimed a crusade against him; and not a prince in Europe stirred.
Now seriously concerned, John offered to recognize Ladislaus as King of Naples if he would abandon Gregory, and that monarch at once basely deserted his Pope. He ordered the stubborn old man to quit Gaeta, and it is said that the people of Gaeta, who had grown fond of him, had to pay his passage to his last refuge, the lands of the Lord of Rimini. Ladislaus was made Gonfaloniere of the Church, and the Pope promised him 120,000 ducats. But so onerous a peace could not endure. After some mutual charges in the spring of 1413 the Neapolitan troops approached Rome. The Romans assured John that they would eat their children rather than surrender, but, when they saw the Pope and cardinals secure their own position by crossing the river, they opened the gates and admitted the Neapolitans. Their warrior-Pope, surrounded by cardinals who wept for the treasures they had abandoned in Rome, fled to the north, and at length reached Florence. Even here the citizens were afraid to admit him. They assigned him the bishop's palace outside the walls, and from this lowly centre John continued his sale of benefices and indulgences.
One other event will complete the record of John's Pontificate, before we begin the story of his undoing. The abuses of the Roman Curia had excited, or encour- aged, various hostile movements. There were Lollards in England, and followers of Hus and Jerome of Prague in Bohemia. These vague and unimportant movements--from the Papal point of view--were left to local prelates, but the growing Christian demand for another General Council was disquieting. The Council of Pisa had put itself above the Popes, and grave doctors at many universities argued that a council must effect that reform of the Church which Popes refused to effect. Probably John XXIII. did not appreciate the full significance of this Conciliar movement, but he did see that there was grave danger that a Council would depose him, as well as Benedict and Gregory, unless he controlled it. He, therefore, in 1412, announced that a General Council would be held at Rome, and he reminded prelates that the Council of Pisa had enjoined this. But only a few French and Italian prelates responded to his summons, and a strange accident increased his uneasiness. One day, when all were assembled in St. Peter's, a screech owl issued from a dark corner and perched opposite the Pope. John reddened and perspired, as he gazed into the uncanny eyes of the bird, and at last he left his seat and broke up the sitting. It was there again at the next sitting, and was killed only after a great commotion. A strange form for the Holy Ghost, the mockers said; a dreadful omen for the Pope, said others. Reforms were promised, and the works of Wyclif were condemned, but the Council was too small to have effect and it was prorogued until December 1, 1413.
Meantime John was driven to the north, and from Florence he appealed to Sigismund. Many eyes were turned to Sigismund from various parts of Europe, and that singular monarch took quite seriously the high function which was thrust upon him of saving and reforming Christendom. He was a man of considerable ability, though it was apt to take the form of cunning rather than statesmanship, but his narrow cupidity, his notorious license in morals, and his general indifference to principle made him an incongruous instrument for the reform of the Church. He at once informed John that the state of the Church was to be submitted to a General Council, and a struggle ensued between the two as to whether it should be held south or north of the Alps. We have the reliable assurance of Leonardo, John's secretary at the time, that the Pope proposed to send two cardinals with full powers to treat, which they were to show to Sigismund, and with secret instructions restricting them. John told this design, with great complacency, to his secretary, 1 1 though he did not carry it out. The Papal legates met Sigismund at Como in the autumn and were pleased to think that they made an impression on him, but John was dismayed to learn that, on October 30th, the King of the Romans issued a proclamation to the effect that a General Council would be held, under his presidency, at Constance, on All Saints' Day, 1414.
John is described as stricken with fear and grief at the prospect of a council outside Italy, but Sigismund was inflexible. They spent two months together at Piacenza and Lodi, and the Pope must have penetrated the King's design. He already leaned to the plan of deposing the three Popes and electing another. John was compelled, on December 9th, to issue a Bull convoking the Council, and he then went to Bologna to await the attack of the Neapolitans. There, about the middle of August, he received the welcome news that Ladislaus
1 Commentarii, p. 928
had been poisoned by the father of one of his mistresses. He proposed to break faith with Sigismund and disavow the Council, but the cardinals restrained him from taking this wild step, and on October 1st he set out for the north, sadly, with a troop of six hundred horse. He had for some time wavered between gloomy apprehensions of a mysterious fate which pursued him and buoyant confidence in his wealth and power.
The last words of his friends at Bologna must have recurred to him again and again as he passed up the autumnal valley of the Adige and entered the snows of the Tirol. He would not return a Pope, they said. In the Arlberg Pass his carriage was overturned, and he exclaimed, as he lay in the snow: "Here I lie, in the name of the devil, and I would have done much better to stop at Bologna". He remained for some days at Meran with Duke Friedrich, whom he made captaingeneral of the Papal troops, with a salary of six thousand ducats a year. It was well to make a friend of this powerful and discontented vassal of Sigismund. At last, on October 27th, his troops turned the crest of the last low hills before Constance, and he gazed down on the hollow between the guardian mountains. "A trap for foxes," he is said to have muttered. On the following day he rode into Constance, on his richly harnessed white horse, under a canopy of cloth of gold, and occupied the episcopal palace.
For three weeks the snowy roads down the mountainsides from all directions discharged gay streams of princes and prelates, bishops and abbots, theologians and lawyers, thieves and prostitutes, bankers and acrobats, upon the sleepy old town, until it seemed to burst with a ravening multitude. Something between fifty and a hundred thousand visitors had to be housed and entertained, and it is reported by grave observers that more than a thousand prostitutes flocked to Constance in the days of the Council. 1 1 There were, in the course of time, twenty-nine cardinals, thirty-three archbishops, a hundred and fifty bishops, a hundred and thirtyfour abbots, and a hundred doctors of law and divinity: among the latter a certain pale and thin man, Master John Hus, who did not suspect that he had come to be tried on a capital charge. But the Emperor was late--he was crowned at Aachen on November 8th-so the first sitting of the Council, on November 5th, was adjourned to the 16th, and then until the new year. Meantime the thousands of entertainers did their duty, and the city rang day and night with revelry, and a crowd speaking thirty different languages filled the streets and overflowed on to the roofs and into the sheds and even the empty tubs of Constance.
On Christmas morning, two hours after midnight, Emperor Sigismund made a stately entrance from the Lake and a vast crowd attended John's midnight mass. Then the struggle began. John's money circulated freely, yet the view that he must be deposed with the other two was gaining ground. He was gouty and his vigour was prematurely undermined, but he fought for his tiara. Envoys came to represent Benedict and Gregory, and he objected to their being received with
1 The clergy had, of course, large troops of lay followers, and numbers of lay doctors attended the Council, but we have seen often enough the moral state of the clergy themselves in the Middle Ages. A picturesque summary of the chroniclers is given by Kitto, Pope John the Twenty-third and Master John Hus of Bohemia. See also H. Blumenthal Die Vorgeschichte des Constanzer Concils ( 1897) and, for the proceedings, H. Finke Acta Concilii Constantiensis ( 1896), and H. von der Hardt Magnum (Ecumenicum Constantiense Concilium ( 1696, etc.).
honour: he was overruled. He held that none less in rank than a bishop or abbot should vote, and that the voting should be by heads, not nations; and again he was overruled, and his Italian prelates would be outvoted. Then some anonymous Italian put into circulation a memoir on his crimes and vices, and he was greatly alarmed. To avoid scandal, however,--for John admitted some of the accusations,--it was suppressed, but it was decided that he must abdicate. After some evasive correspondence, he promised to abdicate "if and when Peter de Luna and Angelo Corario" did the same, and on March 7th he was compelled to embody the formula in a Bull. He became ill and desperate, and there were rumours that he was about to fly. Sigismund put guards at all the gates, but refused to imprison him as the English, headed by the fiery Bishop of Salisbury, demanded.
On March 20th, Duke Friedrich of Tirol drew all Constance to a grand tournament outside the city, and in the midst of it he was noticed to receive a message and leave the ground. Presently it was learned that the Pope, disguised as a groom, had slipped out of the gate on a poor horse, with two companions, and Friedrich had joined them at Schaffhausen. Sigismund sternly forbade the dissolution of the Council, laid a heavy punishment on his vassal, and sent some of the cardinals to see John. The Pope declared that he had left solely on account of his illness; he would abdicate and not interfere with the Council, but the cardinals must join him at once or be excommunicated. The Council, now led by the great Gerson and other strong French doctors, ignored the Pope, and declared that it had, direct from Christ, a power to which Popes must bow. As Sigismund's troops were after them, John and Friedrich fled farther, and at last John quarrelled with his supporter and fled in disguise across the Black Forest to Freiburg. He arrived within reach of Burgundy, whose Duke was friendly, and he demanded better terms. He would resign on condition that he was appointed Perpetual Legate for the whole of Italy, with a pension of 30,000 florins; the alternative in his mind seems to have been a court at Avignon under the protection of the Duke of Burgundy.
The end of his adventures is well known. The burghers of Freiburg refused to protect him and he fled to Breisar, where the envoys of the Council came to press for his resignation. He put on his rough disguise once more, and made off with a troop of Austrian cavalry, but Friedrich, to obtain a mitigation of his own sentence, betrayed him. For several days he miserably resisted the pressure of the envoys, weeping and wailing piteously, and on May 2d the Council summoned him to appear before it within nine days to answer charges of heresy, schism, simony, and immorality. On the seventh day a troop of horse came for him, but he was ill and irresolute. On May 14th the patience of the Council was exhausted; it suspended him from office and ordered the public trial of the charges which had already been examined and on which a mass of evidence had been taken. Two days later the great assembly of prelates and doctors drew up the appalling indictment, in seventy-two articles, of Baldassare Cossa. In the main the charges referred to those acts of simony, bribery, corruption, and tyranny which I have recounted, but it should be added that he was described as "addicted to the flesh, the dregs of vice, a mirror of infamy" (art. 6), and "guilty of poisoning, murder, and persistent addiction to vices of the flesh" (art 29). The worst charges of Dietrich were solemnly endorsed by the gravest lawyers and priests of Europe.
John lay, prostrate and in tears, in an inn at Rudolphzell. He wished to submit a defence, but a few friendly cardinals advised him to submit, and when, on May 26th, he heard that the Council had endorsed the indictment, he made no further resistance. He was deposed on the 29th and accepted the sentence with words of humility and repentance. A few days later the wretched man was consigned to the castle of Gottlieben, and then to a castle at Mannheim. There was, in the following year, a futile attempt to rescue him, and he was confined in the castle of Heidelberg, where he remained three years, with a cook and two chaplains of his once magnificent establishment, composing verses on the vanity of earthly things. The hollow words of his consecration-ceremony, Sic transit gloria mundi, had for him assumed a terrible reality.
How Gregory resigned, and Benedict retired with his tawdry court to a rocky fortress of his, and the Council burned John Hus and appointed a new Pope, may be read in history. 1 Martin left Cossa in Heidelberg, but in the spring of 1419 his keeper was heavily bribed and he was allowed to escape to Italy. It must have moved many when, as Martin officiated at the altar in Florence cathedral, the familiar figure of Baldassare Cossa broke from the throng and knelt humbly at his feet. He was restored to the rank of cardinal, and, apart from a foolish attempt, a few months later, to
1 I have not dwelt on Hus, as the Pope had little to do with him. For some time, thinking to please the Emperor, John protected Hus from his rabid opponents. The shameful ensnarement of Hus seems to have been done without John's approval, and he was deposed before the trial of Hus began.
form a Lombard league against the Emperor, he lived peacefully in the house of Cosmo de' Medici until his death in December ( 1419). He was buried with pomp by the Republic, and the fine monument which Cosmo raised in the Baptistery shows that some appreciable qualities must have been united with his undisputed vices.
ALEXANDER VI., THE BORGIA-POPE
THREE grave issues had been laid before the Council of Constance: the repression of heresy, the ending of the Schism, and the reform of the Church "in head and members." In the third year of their labours the prelates and doctors put an end to the Schism and elected Martin V.; and the new Pope soon put an end to the Council before it could reform the Church. Martin was a Colonna of high ideals and considerable ability; but he was not well disposed to this democratic method of reform by Council, nor was he strong enough to sacrifice Papal revenue by suppressing the worst disorder, the Papal fiscal system. He returned to Rome, and the task of restoring the city and the Papal estates demanded such resources that he dare not abandon the corrupt practices of the Curia.
Two worthy and able Pontiffs followed Martin, and equally failed to bring about a reform. Eugenius IV., an austere, though harsh and autocratic, Venetian, found that his attempts to recover Papal territory and curb the Conciliar party would not permit him to reform the financial system. The reformers forced on him the Council of Basle in 1431, but its renewal of the Schism and creation of a last Anti-Pope, when he resisted its proposals, discredited the Conciliar move- ment. Reform must come from without: Popes and cardinals could not effect it, and in the prevailing creed there was no canonical basis for the action of a Council in defiance of them. Nicholas V., a quiet man of letters, crowned the financial and political work of his two predecessors with a great artistic restoration. He left politics to Æneas Sylvius and opened the gates of Rome to the fairer form of the Renaissance. Greek artists and scholars were now pouring into Italy--Constantinople fell to the Turks during this Pontificate ( 1453)--and fostering the growth of the Humanist movement. Rome began to assume its rich mantle of mediæval art, and the Papacy seemed to smile once more on a docile and prosperous Christendom.
But the restoration had been accomplished by an evasion of reform, and the new culture was sharpening the pens of critics. One of these inquisitive scholars, Lorenzo Valla, was actually declaring that the "Donation of Constantine" was a forgery. Many denounced, in fiery prose or with the cold cynicism of the epigram, the luxury and vice of the higher clergy. Heresy hardened in Bohemia, and, among the stricter ranks of the faithful, men like Nicholas of Cusa, John Capistrano, and Savonarola were raising ideals which, if they rebuked the laity, far more solemnly rebuked the clergy. And just at this critical period the Papacy entered upon a development which ended in the enthronement of Alexander VI., Julius II., and Leo X.; the Reformation inevitably followed.
At the death of Nicholas V., the Orsini and Colonna cardinals came to a deadlock in their struggle for the Papacy, and a neutral and innocuous alternative was sought in Alfonso Borgia (or, in Spanish style, Borja), a Spanish canonist of some scholarly distinction. Calixtus III., as he named himself, was a gouty valetudinarian who lay abed most of the day in pious conversation with friars. He very properly disdained the new art and culture, and saved the Papal funds to meet the advancing Turks. He had, however, one weakness, which was destined to prove very costly to the Papacy. There was a tradition of nepotism at Rome, and Calixtus had nephews. While he was Bishop of Valencia, his sister Isabella had come to him from Xativa, their native place, with her two sons, Pedro Luis and Rodrigo. When, in 1455, he became Pope, he sent Rodrigo to study at Bologna and enriched him with benefices. Pedro Luis was reserved for a lay career, and Juan Luis Mila, son of another sister, was sent with Rodrigo to Bologna.
At this time Rodrigo Borgia was in his twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth year: an exceptionally handsome young Spaniard, with the most charming Spanish manners, and with rich sensuous lips and an eye for maidens which escaped his uncle's notice. He and his cousin were, within a year, made cardinals. In December ( 1456) he was appointed legate for the March of Ancona, and in the following May he was, in spite of the murmurs of the cardinals, promoted to the highest and most lucrative office at the Court, the Vice-Chancellorship. His elder brother became Duke of Spoleto, Gonfaloniere of the Papal army, and (in 1457) Prefect of Rome. Other needy Spaniards came over the sea in droves, and the disgusted Romans were soon ousted from the best positions. In 1458, however, Calixtus fell ill, and was reported to be dead; and the Romans chased the "Catalans" out of the city. Rodrigo at first retired with his more hated brother, but he cour- ageously returned on August 6th, just in time to witness the actual death of his uncle.
Æneas Sylvius mounted the throne, under the name of Pius II., but the Humanists looked in vain for favour to that genial diplomatist, traveller, and littérateur. He had reached a gouty and repentant age, and his one pre-occupation was to stir a lethargic Christendom to a crusade against the Turks. Cardinal Rodrigo had been useful to him, reserving a vacant benefice for him now and again, so he kept his place and continued to win for himself wealthy bishoprics and abbeys. For a moment, in 1460, Rodrigo trembled. Pius had sent him to direct the building of a cathedral at Siena, and the Pope startled his Vice-Chancellor with a stern letter. Rodrigo and another cardinal, the Pope heard, had entertained a number of very frivolous young ladies for five hours in a private garden. They had excluded the parents of these girls, and there had been "dances of the most licentious character" and other things which "modesty forbids to recount." It was the talk of the town. 1 From the kind of dances and
1 The letter is given in Raynaldus, Annales Ecclesiastici, year 1460, n. 31, and is translated in Bishop Mathew Life and Times of Rodrigo Borgia ( 1912), p. 35. It is misrepresented in Baron Corvo Chronicles of the House of Borgia ( 1901, p. 64). The chief apologist for Alexander A. Leonetti ( Papa Alessandro VI. , 1880), made the easy suggestion that the letter was a forgery, but Cardinal Hergenroether found the original in the Vatican archives. See the able essay by Comte H. de L'Epinois (another Catholic writer) in the Revue des Questions Historiques ( April 1, 1881), p. 367. He shows, by the use of original documents, that the apologetic efforts of Ollivier, Leonetti, and a few others, are futile. Of these efforts the leading Catholic historian of the Papacy, Dr. L. Pastor, observes: "In the face of such a perversion of the truth, it is the duty of the historian to show that the evidence against Rodrigo is so strong as to render it impossible to restore his reputation" ( The History of the Popes, ii., 542).
women which Alexander had in the Vatican long afterwards we can imagine the things which startled Siena. Rodrigo urged that there had been exaggeration, but the Pope, while admitting the possibility of this, again sternly bade him mind his behaviour.
The long discussion of the morals of Alexander VI. has, in fact, now ended in entire agreement that by the year 1460, at least, he was openly immoral. The Papal and other documents relating to his children--at least six in number--which have been found in the Vatican archives and in the private archives of the Duke of Ossuna show an extraordinary laxity at Rome. There is a Bull of Sixtus IV., dated November 5, 1481, legitimizing the birth of Pedro Luis Borgia, "son of a cardinal-deacon and an unmarried woman"; he is described as "a young man," and was probably born about 1460. There is the marriage contract of Girolama Borgia, dated 1482, which refers to the "paternal love" of the Vice-Chancellor; she must then have been at least thirteen years old. There is a document, dated October 1, 1480, dispensing from the bar of illegitimacy Cæsar Borgia, "son of a cardinal-bishop and a married woman"; and he is described as in his sixth year, or born about 1475. There is a deed of gift of Rodrigo to Juan Borgia, "his carnal son," whose birth must fall either in 1474 or 1476. There are documents referring to the celebrated Lucrezia, whose birth is generally put in 1478, and to Jofre Borgia, who was born about 1480; and there are documents from which we have--as we shall see later--the gravest reason to conclude that the Pope had a son in 1497 or 1498, when he approached his seventieth year. Except that a few hesitate, in face of the strongest evidence, to admit the last child, no serious historian of any school now questions these facts, and the evidence need not be examined in detail. 1
At least four of these children were born of Vannozza (or Giovannozza) dei Catanei, a Roman lady who was the Cardinal's mistress from about 1460 to 1486. The story that she was an orphan entrusted to his care and seduced by him is not reliable. Nothing is confidently known about her early years, but her epitaph has been discovered, and it honours her, not only for her "signal probity and great piety," but because she was the mother of Caesar, Juan, Jofre, and Lucrezia Borgia. Pedro Luis and Girolama may have been born of an earlier mistress, but it is not at all certain. Vannozza, who married three times, is constantly mentioned, by the ambassadors, as Borgia's mistress. She had a handsome mansion near the Cardinal's palace and the Vatican, and she entertained there and in her country house long after Borgia became Pope and replaced her by a younger mistress.
These monuments of parentage are almost the only
1 The decisive documents, from the archives of the Duke of Ossuna, are published by Thuasne in his edition of Burchard Diarium (Appendix to vol. iii.). Dr. Pastor ( ii., 453) has a good summary of them, and there is other evidence in the Lucrezia Borgia of Gregorovius. See also the essay of Comte H. de L'Épinois, quoted above, and "Don Rodrigo de Borja und seine Söhne," by C. R. von Höfler, in the Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd. 73. The chief original authorities are J. Burchard ( Diarium, edited by Thuasne, 3 vols., 1884) and S. Infessura ( Diario, in Muratori, iii.), and the despatches of the Italian ambassadors at Rome. Burchard and Infessura are gossipy and hostile, and must be controlled. Recent works on the Borgias are too apt to reproduce lightly the romantic statements of later Italian historians or contemporary Neapolitan enemies. The work of Bishop Mathew, to which I have referred, is less judicious than his volume on Hildebrand. Bishop Creighton History of the Papacy is rather too indulgent to Alexander and needs supplementing by the documents in Pastor and Thuasne.
evidences of the existence of Cardinal Borgia under Pius II. and Paul II. In 1471 a pious and learned Franciscan friar, Sixtus IV., assumed the tiara, and it is an indication of the strange temper of the times that under such a man the Papal Court became more corrupt than ever. 1 Sixtus vigorously restored the secular rule of the Papacy and encouraged the artistic and cultural development, but his nepotism was shameless and profoundly harmful. One of the nephews whom he drew from the obscurity of a Franciscan monastery and made a prince of the Church was Pietro Riario, who spent 260,000 ducats, 2 and within two years of his promotion wore out his life in the most flagrant dissipation. His immense palace, with its magnificent treasures, its five hundred servants in scarlet silk, and its prodigious banquets, was the home of every species of vice; and it is said that his chief mistress, Tiresia, flaunted eight hundred ducats' worth of pearls on her embroidered slippers. Another nephew was the sterner, though also immoral, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere--also brought from a monastery--whom we shall know as Julius II. Other cardinals promoted by the friar-Pope were equally notorious for their indulgence and for the unscrupulous quest of money to sustain it.
1 M. Brosch, the scholarly author of a study of Julius II. ( Papst Julius II. , 1878), observes that research in the Rovere archives has discovered no trace of the Paolo Riario who is assigned as the father of Sixtus's nephews, and concludes that they were his natural sons. But Paolo Riario is expressly mentioned in the funeral oration on Cardinal Pietro Riario, and is more fully described in Leone Cobelli Cronache Forlivesi. There is no sound reason to impeach the chastity of this Pope, as even Creighton does.
2 The gold ducat is estimated at about ten shillings of English money, but probably this does not express its full purchasing power.
From the Bulls of Sixtus which I have quoted, it is clear that he was acquainted with the vices of Borgia, yet he sent him as legate to Spain, to excite interest in the crusade, in the spring of 1472. In spite of some compliments, it does not appear that Borgia did more than impress his countrymen with his display and gallantry, and he returned toward the close of 1473 and built one of the most stately palaces in the rich quarter which was now rising round the Vatican. When Sixtus died, in 1484, he made a resolute effort to get the tiara. The dispatches of the ambassadors who now represented the northern States at the Vatican afford us a valuable means of checking the chroniclers, and they put it beyond question that Borgia and Giuliano della Rovere entered upon a corrupt rivalry for the Papacy. Giuliano was now a tall, serious-looking man of forty: reserved in speech and brusque in manners, a good soldier and most ambitious courtier. Although he was known to have children, he kept a comparatively sober household and reserved his wealth for special occasions of display and for bribery. Borgia was his senior by thirteen years, but he had the buoyancy, gaiety, and sensuality of a young man. He, too, kept a moderate table and gambled little, but his amours were notorious and one could not please him better than by providing a ballet of handsome women. To these wealthy "upstarts" the haughty Orsini and Colonna were bitterly opposed, and the announcement of the death of Sixtus let loose a flood of passion. The splendid mansion of Count Riario, another nephew of the late Pope, was sacked, the Orsini entrenched themselves on Monte Giordano, and the other cardinals filled their halls with armed men.
In the Conclave it was soon apparent that neither Rodrigo nor Giuliano could command the necessary two thirds of the votes, and they agreed to adopt Cardinal Cibò, a Genoese noble who had outburned the passions of youth before he entered the service of the Church. During the night of August 28-29, when the supporters of Cardinal Barbo (who seemed to be sure of election) had confidently retired to their cells, Rodrigo and Giuliano, by intrigue and bribery, secured a majority for Cibò. 1 He became Innocent VIII. the next morning, and during the eight years of his amiable and futile Pontificate the College of Cardinals steadily sank. Innocent's natural son was drawn from his decent obscurity and made one of the richest and fastest nobles of Rome; and women were hardly safe even in their own homes when Franceschetto Cibò roamed the streets at night, with his cutthroats, in one of his wineflushed moods. He took so ardently to the new cardinalitial pastime of gambling that in one night he lost 100,000 ducats to Cardinal Riario. Cardinal la Balue left at his death a fortune of 100,000 ducats. Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, brother of the ruler of Milan, was the leading sportsman of Roman society. Cardinal Lorenzo Cibò owed his red hat to the fortunate circumstance that he was an illegitimate son of the Pope's brother. Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, who was one day to be Leo X., had received the tonsure in his eighth year and the title of cardinal in his fourteenth. Cardinals Savelli, Sclafenati, and Sanseverino were members of the fast and luxurious group. Each cardinal maintained a large palace, with hundreds of gay-liveried servants and ready swordsmen, and the wealthier seem to have studied with care the pages in which Macrobius describes the exquisite or colossal banquets of the older
1 See the dispatches quoted in Thuasne's Burchard, vol. ii.
pagans. Each--apart from the minority of grave and virtuous cardinals--had his faction in the city, and, as carnival time approached, they were engrossed for weeks in the preparation of the superb cars and brilliant troops of horse by which each sought to prove his superior fitness for the chair of Gregory I. and Gregory VII. Innocent VIII. smiled; and the thunders gathered beyond the Alps.
The state of Rome was in accord with the state of the Sacred College. We may hesitate to believe Infessura when he tells us that, if criminals were by some chance arrested, they bought their liberty at the Vatican; but we have in Burchard's Diary a sombre, incidental indication of the condition of Rome. There is in modern literature some tendency to look with indulgent eye on the coloured gaiety of late mediæval Rome, but--to say nothing of the ideals which the cardinals professed --the insecurity of life and property and the widespread brutality show that this license was far removed from genuine Humanism. Some years later, when Rodrigo's son Juan was murdered, a boatman said, when they asked why he had not reported seeing a body cast into the river, that it was not customary to have any inquiry made into a nightly occurrence of that kind. Rodrigo Borgia, the Vice-Chancellor, paid no heed to this condition of the city. He added year by year to the long list of his bishoprics and emoluments, and prepared to renew the struggle for the tiara. He lost, or discarded, Vannozza when she married her third husband in 1486 and entered upon a more sordid and equally notorious liaison. His cousin, Adriana Orsini, had charge of a young orphan, Giulia Farnese, a very beautiful, goldenhaired girl. She married Adriana's son, Orso Orsini, in 1489--her fifteenth year--and at the same time be- came the Cardinal's mistress. Adriana was rewarded with a considerable influence and the charge of the young Lucrezia Borgia. 1
The death of Innocent on July 25, 1492, led to fierce intrigue and passionate encounters. There were more than two hundred murders in Rome during the fourteen days before the Conclave, for which twentytwo cardinals were, on August 6th, immured in the Sistine Chapel. Giuliano della Rovere had spoiled his prospect by too patent a use of his influence on Innocent VIII., and Borgia set himself to win the next most important rival, Ascanio Sforza. Historians sometimes smile at the statement of Infessura, that four mule-loads of silver passed from Borgia's palace to that of Sforza, but it is not improbable. For some centuries there had been a custom (abolished a few years later by Leo X.) of sacking the palace of the cardinal who was elected Pope, and it was not unusual to take precautions. Borgia may have sent the silver on this pretext, as Infessura suggests, and he would hardly expect it to be returned. It is, in fact, now certain that Sforza was bribed with gifts far more valuable than Borgia's table silver; Borgia offered, and afterwards gave him, his splendid palace, the Vice-Chancellorship, the bishopric of Erlan (worth 10,000 ducats a year), and other appointments. The sober Cardinal Colonna accepted the abbey of Subiaco (or 2000 ducats a year). Eleven cardinals seem to have sold their votes, and Borgia already had three supporters and his own vote. He secured his majority and hastily retired
1 I may repeat that I am not reproducing disputed statements, or relying on uncertain chronicles, in these chapters. The evidence may be examined in Thuasne, Pastor, L'Épinois, Creighton, Gregorovius, and von Reumont ( Geschichte der Stadt Rom, 3 vols., 1867-8).
behind the altar, where Papal vestments of three sizes were laid out, and the genial Romans presently roared their greetings to Alexander VI. 1 Rome and Italy then sustained their parts in the comedy. Alexander, although now sixty years old, was a vigorous and capable man, and some advantage would be expected from his Pontificate. But one's sense of humour is excited when one reads in Burchard's Diary, or in the letter (reproduced by Thuasne) written by the General of the Camaldolite monks, the description of the rejoicings at Rome. After the coronation at St. Peter's on August 27th, Alexander received, on the steps of the great church, the greetings of the orators who represented the northern cities. One wonders what was the countenance of the massed prelates and nobles when the Genoese orator read: "Thou art so adorned with the glory of virtue, the merit of discipline, the holiness of thy life . . . that we must hesitate to say whether it is more proper to offer thee to the Pontificate or to offer that most sacred and glorious dignity to thee." And, as Alexander passed in stately procession to the Lateran, he read on the triumphal arches which adorned the route, such maxims as "Chastity and Charity," and "Great was Rome under Cæsar, now is she most great. Alexander the Sixth reigns: Caesar was a man, this is a God."
I make no apology for inserting these apparently trivial details in so condensed a narrative. They, most of all, illumine the next momentous phase of the history of the Papacy. In that year, 1492, a little German
1 See the evidence in Thuasne ( ii., 610), L'Épinois (pp. 389-91), and Pastor ( v., 382). A writer in the American Catholic Quarterly Review ( 1900, p. 262) observes: "That Borgia secured his election through the rankest simony is a fact too well authenticated to admit a doubt."
boy, named Martin Luther, sat at his books in the remote town of Mansfeld. Infessura records that Alexander opened his Pontificate with large promises and small instalments of reform. He was going to improve the condition of Rome and the Church, to pacify Italy, and to check the Turks; he would remove his children from Rome and reduce the number of sinecures at the Curia. He did, in fact, make a drastic beginning of the administration of justice, and even appointed certain hours during which he would himself hear grievances. Possibly he had a sincere mood of reform; though we are not disposed to be charitable when we recall the appalling levity with which, a few years later, after the murder of his son, he returned to vicious ways. Whatever his initial mood was, he soon entered upon courses which made his Pontificate one of the most degraded in the annals of the Papacy. Modern research has discredited some of the most romantic crimes attributed to him, but it leaves on his memory an indictment which no eager search for good qualities can materially lessen.
He sustained the scandal of his personal conduct until the end of his life, and I will dismiss it briefly. During the first four years of his Pontificate, the youthful Giulia Orsini was his chief favorita --others are occasionally mentioned with that title by the ambassadors--and she was known to the wits of Rome as "the Spouse of Christ." She and Adriana Orsini and Girolama (the Pope's elder daughter) are described as "the heart and eyes of Alexander," and suitors had to seek their favour. When Giulia's brother Alexander received the red hat ( Sept. 20, 1493), Rome gave the future Pope--who was by no means without personal merit--the name of "The Petticoat Cardinal." When her daughter Laura was born in 1497, the Pope was generally believed to be the father; though that remains a mere rumour. Pucci, in one of his dispatches, gives us a quaint picture. Giulia lived in Lucrezia's palace, apart from her husband, and, when the ambassador called one day in 1493, she dressed her long golden hair in his presence, and insisted that he must see the baby; and he remarks that the baby was "so very like the Pope that one can readily believe he was the father." Giulia was an almost indispensable figure for some years at the domestic (and even greater than domestic) festivities in the Vatican, laughing with the cardinals at the prurient comedies and still more prurient dances which enlivened the sacred palace. 1
The last child attributed to him, though not accepted by all the authorities, seems to have been born in 1496 (his sixty-sixth year). There is a document dated September 1, 1501, legitimizing a certain Juan Borgia, but there are two versions of this document. 2 The first version describes him as the child of Cæsar Borgia: the second says that he was born "not of the said Duke, but of us [ Alexander] and the said married woman." Creighton made the singular suggestion that possibly Alexander was giving prestige to an illegitimate offspring of his son, but it is now agreed that the second version is the more authentic; it was to be kept in reserve for some grave dispute of his rights. The distinguished Venetian Senator Sanuto tells us 3 that,
1 Again I may refer to the convenient summaries of the evidence in Pastor (v., 417), L'ápinois (398), Gregorovius(Appendix, no. 11, etc.), and Creighton (iv., 203).
2 There are copies, reproduced by Gregorovius, in the archives at the Vatican, at Modena, and at Ossuna.
3 Diarii (ed. F. Stefani), i., 369.
according to letters received from the Venetian ambassador at Rome and from private persons, the Pope had, about this time, a child by a married Roman lady, with the connivance of her father, and that the angry husband slew his father-in-law and stuck his head on a pole, with the inscription: "Head of my father-in-law, who prostituted his daughter to the Pope." These concurrent testimonies are grave. Most historians now rightly reject the charge that Alexander was intimate with his daughter Lucrezia, since it rests only on bitterly hostile Neapolitan gossip; but we cannot so easily set aside the persistent statements of the ambassadors that a new favorita appears at the Vatican from time to time. These were sometimes ladies of Lucrezia's suite. Lucrezia, a merry, childish-looking, golden-haired girl, with her father's high spirits and constant smile, is not likely to have remained virtuous in such surroundings, but there is no serious evidence of incest. Before her father's election she was betrothed to a Spanish youth of moderate family, but her father cancelled the espousals and married her, at the Vatican, in 1493, to Giovanni Sforza. She was then, it is calculated, fifteen years old. Twelve cardinals and a hundred and fifty of the great ladies of Rome attended the wedding; and some of the prettier ladies remained to sup with the Pope and cardinals, and applaud the loose comedies he provided. Giulia and Lucrezia were present. When the Pope's policy estranged him from Milan, he forced Lucrezia's husband to swear that the marriage had not been consummated, and dissolved it. It seems probable that Giovanni, in revenge, then put into circulation the suggestion of incest. Lucrezia married Alfonso of Naples, who was murdered by her brother in 1500. She then married the son of the Duke of Ferrara: and there is perhaps no more terrible indictment of the Papal Court under Alexander than the fact that, when his daughter was removed from it to Ferrara, she earned, and kept until her death, a just repute for virtue and benevolence.
These marriages introduce us to Alexander's political activity, on which some recent historians have passed a somewhat lenient judgment. Apart, however, from the treachery and brutality with which his aims were often enforced, we shall find that at his death he left the Papacy almost landless and impoverished, and we must conclude that his chief objects were his personal security and the aggrandizement of his children.
At the time of Alexander's accession, the duchy of Milan was improperly held by Lodovico Sforza, brother of the Cardinal Ascanio, who sought to convert his temporary regency into a permanent sovereignty. In this ambition he had the support of France, while Ferrante of Naples endeavoured to enforce the claim of the rightful Duke, Giovanni Galeazzo. Alexander's indebtedness to Ascanio bound him at once to the Sforzas, and the imprudence of Ferrante in helping his commander, Virginio Orsini, to purchase from the nephew of the late Pope certain towns which Alexander regarded as Papal fiefs, gave him an occasion for animosity. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere was implicated in this sale, and when the Pope angrily rebuked him, he fled to Ostia and fortified that commanding town. Alarmed at this cohesion of his enemies and the support of their designs by Florence, Alexander entered into a counter-league with Milan, Venice, Siena, Ferrara, and Mantua, and married his daughter to Giovanni Sforza. Ferrante, however, appealed to Spain, sub- mitting (with the support of Cardinal della Rovere) that the corrupt election and profligate life of Alexander demanded the attention of a General Council, and the Pope sought a compromise. The matter of the towns in Romagna was adjusted, Alexander's son Jofre was betrothed to an illegitimate daughter of Alfonso of Calabria, and his younger son, Juan, Duke of Gandia, was wedded to a Spanish princess. Cæsar was destined for the Church and was made a cardinal on September 20, 1493. As Alexander had sworn before his election not to create new cardinals, and now calmly absolved himself from his promise and promoted several, the hostile cardinals again angrily deserted him.
Ferrante died on January 27, 1494, and the Pope had to confront a delicate problem. France, instigated by Milan, pressed a claim to the kingdom of Naples, and Alfonso II. demanded the investiture in succession to Ferrante. Charles of France refused to be consoled with the Golden Rose which Alexander sent him in refusing to recognize his claim to Naples, and he threatened a General Council or a separation of the French Church. When Alexander proceeded to take Ostia by force, driving Cardinal Giuliano to France, and sent Cæsar to crown Alfonso at Naples, the French monarch announced that he would lead his army into Italy in order to recover Naples, to reform the Church, and to conquer the Turks. The latter purpose furnished the Pope with a pretext for a disgraceful move. Djem, the brother of the Sultan Bajazet, had been enjoying the dissipations of Rome since 1489, and Bajazet paid the Papacy 40,000 ducats a year to keep his younger brother in this gilded captivity. Since Alexander's accession, Bajazet had refused to pay the fee, and the Pope now wrote to the Sultan to say that the King of
France was coming to seize Djem and make him the pretext for a war on the Turks; Bajazet must at once send 40,000 ducats to enable him to resist the French. The Sultan sent the money, but his and the Pope's envoy were captured by Cardinal della Rovere's brother, and were relieved of the money and the Sultan's letter. When this letter was published, Christendom learned with horror that the Sultan had offered its Pope 300,000 ducats if he would have Djem assassinated. 1
Of the war which followed little need be said. As the victorious French advanced, Alexander tremblingly vacillated. At one moment he imprisoned the proFrench cardinals, and then released them; and at another moment he packed his treasures for flight, and then decided to meet the French King. Alfonso bewailed that the Pope's arm was too weak or too cowardly to launch an anathema against the invader. In the end the Pope met and disarmed Charles. To the intense disgust of Giuliano della Rovere, who had come with the King in expectation of the tiara, he persuaded Charles that an Italian, even in the chair of Peter, could hardly be expected to lead a saintly life; and to the equal indignation of Alfonso he, while refusing to recognize Charles's claim to the throne of Naples, abandoned the Neapolitan alliance and gave his son Cæsar as a hostage of his good behaviour. With similar treachery to the Sultan he abandoned Djem to Charles, yet stipulated that the yearly 40,000 ducats should still go to the Papal treasury. 2
1 Alexander said that the letter published was a forgery, and some historians have sought to prove this by internal evidence. It is the general feeling of recent authorities that the letter is, at leastin substance, genuine. See Creighton (iv., Appendix 9) and Pastor (v., 429).
2 Djem died shortly afterwards, and it was rumoured that Alexander Charles took Naples, and soon learned that the versatile Pope had, behind his back, entered into a league against him with Maximilian of Germany, Ferdinand of Spain, Venice, and Lodovico Sforza. Alexander prudently quitted Rome when the French King returned, and flung after him a feeble threat of anathema, as he was cutting his way through the allies. But by the aggrandizement of his family he made an evil use of the peace which followed. Caesar was made legate for Naples and his nephew Juan legate for Perugia; and to his favourite son Juan, Duke of Gandia, he assigned the important Papal fief of the duchy of Benevento, to be held by him and his heirs for ever. Even loyal cardinals grumbled at the scandal, while the outspoken and more distant critics spread in every country the story of his private life. Alexander, delivered from the menace both of France and Naples, cast aside all restraint. But his gaiety was soon darkened by a grave tragedy, and it is, perhaps, the most precise and most damning characterization of the man to record that even this appalling catastrophe, occurring near the close of his seventh decade of life, did not disturb for more than a few months the licentious course of his conduct.
On June 14, 1497, Vannozza gave a banquet to her sons and a few friends in the suburbs. Caesar and Juan returned to the city together, and were joined by a masked man who had for some weeks been seen in communication with the young Duke. Juan left his brother with a light hint that he had an assignation, and the same night he was murdered and his body
had earned the 300,000 ducats by administering a slow poison before he left Rome. But the better authorities tell us that the weakened and dissolute youth contracted a chill and died of bronchitis.
thrown into the Tiber. We are as far as contemporaries were from identifying the murderer. That it was Caesar Borgia few serious historians now believe. That suggestion did not arise until nine months after the murder, and the motives alleged are not convincing. It is more plausibly claimed that the Sforzas and the Orsini adopted this means of striking at the heart of the Pontiff, but it is equally possible that Juan incurred the penalty of some dangerous seduction. I am concerned only with Alexander. Appalled by this sudden clouding of his prosperity, the Pope summoned his cardinals and announced with tears that he would remove his children from Rome and abandon his corrupt ways. Six cardinals were at once appointed to draw up a scheme of Church-reform, and the draft of a Bull, which is still to be seen in the Vatican archives, shows with what devotion Cardinals Costa and Caraffa and their colleagues applied themselves to the longdesired task. But before the end of the year Alexander had returned to his vices and abandoned the idea of reform. He informed the cardinals that he wished to release Caesar from membership of their College, in order that he might be free to contract an exalted marriage and pursue his ambition; and it was then ( December, 1497) that he brought about the shameless divorce of Lucrezia from Giovanni Sforza. The Vatican chambers resumed their nightly gaiety.
The Orsini and the Colonna now buried their ancient and deadly feud and united with Naples, and the demand for a General Council was ominously echoed in Germany and Spain. Alexander sought at first a counterpoise in Naples, and wished to marry Caesar and Lucrezia into the family of Alfonso. After some hesitation, and with marked reluctance, Alfonso II. gave his natural son Alfonso to Lucrezia, but he refused, in spite of the political advantage, to degrade his daughter Carlotta by a marriage with Caesar. It is not immaterial to observe that Caesar had, like four other cardinals of the Church, contracted the "French disease" which was then so fiercely punishing the vice of Italy. It happened that at that time Louis XII. sought a divorce, and, at first in the hope of bringing pressure on Naples, Caesar, after resigning the cardinalate on August 17th, was sent to gratify and impress the French Court. Even Giuliano della Rovere, who lived quietly at Avignon, was induced to enter the intrigue. Carlotta and her father still disdained the connexion, but Louis offered Caesar his young and beautiful niece, Charlotte d'Albret, and the counties of Valentinois and Diois. They were married on May 22d (1499), and the Papal policy entered upon a new phase.
The Papacy and Venice, preferring their selfish interests to the welfare of Italy, allied themselves with France, and for the hundredth time an invading army descended upon the plains of Lombardy. Spain and Portugal were now angrily threatening to have the Pope--who, with equal warmth, accused Isabella herself of unchastity--tried by a General Council for his scandalous actions, and he and Caesar formed the design of establishing, with the aid of the French, a strong principality for Caesar in central Italy. The Neapolitan alliance was discarded, and Bulls were issued to the effect that the Lords of Rimini, Pesaro, Imola, Faenza, Forli, Urbino, and Camerino had failed to discharge their feudal duties to the Papacy and had forfeited their fiefs. The victorious progress of Caesar in these territories was checked for a time by a revolt at Milan, but that city was retaken by the French in 1500. The successful Jubilee of 1500, which at one time drew 100,000 pilgrims to Rome, filled the coffers and helped to exalt the spirit of the Pope. His character, indeed, seemed to become more buoyant and defiant as his age advanced. During that year he had a narrow escape from death, owing to the fall of the roof of the Sala de' Pape, and Lucrezia's husband was cut to pieces in his chamber by the soldiers, and at the command, of Caesar. These events hardly dimmed the joy of the Pope. Caesar received the Golden Rose and was made Gonfaloniere of the Church; and he was permitted to appropriate a large share of the Jubilee funds and to exact large sums from the cardinals whom the Pope promoted in 1500. Meantime, the ambassadors relate, Giulia Orsini retained her influence over the seventyyear old Pope, and other favorite made a transient appearance at the Vatican.
The next two years were employed in the establishment of Caesar's power in Romagna and the reduction of the Pope's personal enemies. Louis of France and Ferdinand of Spain drew up their famous, or infamous, scheme for the partition of Naples, and Alexander conveniently discovered for them, and proclaimed in a Bull, that Federigo of Naples had, by an alliance with the Turks, become a traitor to Christendom. The fall of Naples involved the ruin of the Colonna, and they and the Savelli were condemned to lose their estates for rebellion against the Holy See. From part of these estates the Pope formed the duchy of Sermoneta for Lucrezia's two-year-old son, Rodrigo, and the duchy of Nepi was bestowed on his own infant son Juan. Alexander next turned his attention to Ferrara, and, when Venice and Florence forbade him to attack it, he arranged a marriage of the widowed Lucrezia with the Duke's son Alfonso: overcoming the abhorrence of the proud Este family by the influence of Louis XII. and by a grant to the Duke of all Church-dues in Ferrara for three years. From Ferrara, when it fell to his sister, Caesar would have a comparatively easy march on Bologna, if not Florence.
So the year 1501 ended in such rejoicings as the fortune of the Borgia family inspired. At the date October 11, 1501, Burchard dispassionately notes in his diary that the Pope was unable to attend to his spiritual duties, but was not prevented from enjoying, in the Vatican, a "chestnut dance" and other performances of fifty nude courtesans whom Caesar introduced. 1 Lucrezia, whose purity some recent writers are eager to vindicate, was present with her father and brother. On December 30th she was married. Alexander gave her the finest set of pearls in Europe and 100,000 ducats; and for a week Rome enjoyed such spectacles and bull-fights as had not been seen for years. Within the Vatican such comedies as the Menæchmi of Plautus were enacted before the Pope and his family and cardinals. Even tolerant Italy now broke into caustic criticisms, and Caesar replied vigorously by the daggers of his followers. The Pope genially urged him to let men talk.
The last phase is, in its way, not less repulsive. By heartless treachery and brilliant fighting Caesar spread his sway over central Italy and Alexander watched and
1 Diarium, iii., 167. The details of this dance, which Burchard describes, and of the orgy which followed, may not be translated. It is absurd to question Burchard's evidence on this matter; he was then Master of Ceremonies at the Papal Court and describes every move of the Pope. The Papal servants took part in the performance, and he could easily learn the details. The Florentine and other ambassadors speak of Caesar repeatedly introducing these women into the Vatican at night.
spurred his progress. The Pope's attendants had to endure unaccustomed fits of anger and abuse when his son did not advance rapidly enough. He treacherously arrested Cardinal Orsini; and the Cardinal's aged mother, who was ejected from her palace, had to send to the Pope (by Orsini's mistress) a magnificent pearl which Alexander coveted before she was allowed to provide her son with decent food. Cardinal Orsini died, and his property was confiscated. Cardinal Michiel died, and his fortune of 150,000 ducats was appropriated. The College of Cardinals trembled and the famous legend of the Borgia poison spread over Italy. 1 Nine new cardinals, mostly of unworthy character, were created and are said to have paid 130,000 ducats for the dignity, and 64,000 ducats were raised by inventing new offices in the Curia. Alexander, although seventy-two years old, was in robust health, and looked forward to years of pleasure under the protection of his victorious son. And one night in the unhealthy heat of August (the 5th or 6th) he and Cæsar sat late at supper with Cardinal Adriano da Corneto. Romance has it that the poisoned wine they intended for their host was served to them: modern history is content with the known malaria of an autumn night. 2 On August 18th Alexander died,
1 There is, as Pastor and Creighton admit, grave reason to think that Orsini and Michiel were poisoned, but charges of this kind are difficult to check, and certainly there is a good deal of romance in the Borgia legend. The death-rate of cardinals under Alexander was not more than normal. See Baron Corvo's Chronicles of the House of Borgia ( 1901), and R. Sabatini Life of Cesare Borgia ( 1911).
2 The poison theory is not mentioned by Burchard or the chief ambassadors, and is positively advanced only by Neapolitan or later writers. No historian seems now to entertain it. Alexander's illness, which lasted thirteen days, followed a course more consistent with
and both Cæsar and Cardinal Adriano were seriously ill.
Of other actions of Alexander his connexion with Savonarola alone demands some consideration, and it must be treated briefly. On July 25, 1495, Alexander, in friendly terms, summoned Savonarola to Rome to give an account of the prophetic gifts he claimed. Alexander was very tolerant of criticisms of his vices, except where they might provoke kings to summon a council, and it is probable that he wished to silence the politician rather than the preacher; Savonarola vigorously supported the idea of an alliance of Florence with France, which the Pope opposed. Savonarola evaded the summons to Rome, and the Pope suspended him from preaching and endeavoured to destroy his authority by joining the San Marco convent to the Lombard Congregation. Savonarola defeated the Pope on the latter point, and on February 11, 1496, he returned to his pulpit, in defiance of the Pope's order and at the command of the Signoria of Florence. In explanation of his act he urged that Alexander's Brief was based on false information and invalid, and he denounced Roman corruption more freely than ever. Alexander, in November, directed that a new congregation should be formed out of the Roman and Tuscan convents, 1 and when Savonarola and his monks again defeated the project, the Pope had recourse to secular measures.
A mind like that of the exalted and feverish preacher
malaria, and the very rapid decomposition of his body, which seems to have impressed Lord Acton, is not inexplicable at that season.
1 Savonarola was head of the Tuscan Congregation of the Dominican Order, and these proposals--which were inspired by jealous colleagues at Rome--aimed at putting him under a new and hostile jurisdiction.
was not likely to escape error and exaggeration in such circumstances, and his opponents in Florence made progress. Alexander now offered the coveted possession of Pisa to the Signoria if they would desert Savonarola and the idea of a French alliance. The monk was forbidden by the authorities to preach, and his defiance of the Signoria as well as the Papacy led to disorders of which the Pope took advantage to publish a sentence of excommunication ( June 18, 1497). Alexander had meantime again listened to entreaties of delay and inquiry, but when he heard that the monk defied his anathema he said that the sentence must take its course. Up to this point the Pope had, in view of the very strong support which Savonarola had at Florence, proceeded with moderation, though we may resent the insincerity of his attack; it was not the prophecies, but the policy and the puritanism, of Savonarola which interested him. He complained bitterly to the Florentine ambassadors of Savonarola's attacks on himself and the cardinals, and was, as always, alarmed by the monk's demand of a General Council. However, the monk, not realizing the progress made by his enemies, struck a louder note of defiance, and on the plea of the public disorders to which he gave rise, he was arrested and put on trial. Alexander willingly granted the authorities a tithe on the ecclesiastical property at Florence when they announced the arrest. The sensitive monk was, by torture, driven into some vague disavowal of his supernatural pretensions, and he and two other friars were, on May 23, 1498, hanged by the Florentine authorities as "heretics, schismatics, and contemners of the Holy See." The sentence, however corruptly obtained, was technically just, since in the legislation of the time contumacious defiance of the Papacy implied heresy; but the respective positions of Savonarola and Alexander VI. in the history of religious progress are a sufficient monument to the bravery and inflexibility of the great Florentine puritan.
There are few good deeds to be put in the scale against the crimes and vices of Alexander VI. He made a considerable, though futile, effort to rouse Christendom against the advancing Turks. He fortified Sant' Angelo, and engaged Pinturicchio to decorate the Vatican apartments. He pressed the propagation of the faith in the New World, ordered the examination and authorization of printed books, endeavoured to check heresy in Bohemia, and vigorously defended the rights of the Church in the Netherlands. These things cannot alter our estimate of his character. He was a selfish voluptuary of--in view of his position--the most ignoble type; he countenanced and employed fraud, treachery, and crime; and the condition in which we shall soon find the Papacy will show that his policy had not the redeeming merit of effecting the security of the institution over which he ignominiously presided.
[ Continue to Ch.XIII ]