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The ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) online

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ments under a different form at every audience.

^ III.] SIXTUS V. 217

received him with the declaration, that he rejoiced
that a cardinal of his choice had obtained such uni-
versal approbation*. He was led out to table by
Donna Camilla.

How great must have been the astonishment of
the high catholic party at this change ! The pope
leaned to a protestant whom he had himself excom-
municated, and whom, according to the ancient
maxims of the church, a double apostasy had ren-
dered incapable even of receiving absolution !

It is in the nature of things that this should oc-
casion a reaction. The strict catholic party was
not so absolutely dependent on the pope, that it
could not set itself in opposition to him ; and the
Spanish power afforded them a prop to which they
eagerly clung.

The French leaguers accused the pope of ava-
rice ; they said that he would not open his purse-
strings, and that he w^anted to save all the gold
which he had accumulated in the castle of St. An-
gelo, for his nephews and kinsfolk. In Spain a
Jesuit preached on the deplorable condition of the
church. " Not only does the republic of Venice fa-
vour the heretics, but, — hush ! hush ! " said he, lay-
ing his finger on his lips, — " but the pope himself."
All this was re-echoed in Italy. Sixtus V. was
already become so sensitive, that he took an admo-
nition to a day of public humiliation which the ge-

* Dispaccio, 3 Marzo. " Dice di consolarsi assai ch' cgli soa
creatura fusse di tutti tanto celebrato. II cl™° Moiosini acqui-
sta molto honore e riputatione per la soa relatione delle cose di


neral of the capuchins had pubhshed, '' in order to
invoke the grace of God on the affairs of the
church," as a personal affront, and suspended the

Things did not, however, stop at mere hints, or
private and unauthorized complaints. On the 22nd
of March, 1590, the Spanish envoy appeared in
the papal apartments and formally protested in his
master's name against the conduct of the pope*.
We perceive that there were opinions more ortho-
dox, more catholic, than the head of the church
himself ; to these opinions the Spanish envoy gave
utterance and expression in the very face of the
pope. Strange proceeding ! The envoy knelt down
on one knee and prayed his holiness to permit him
to execute the commands of his master. The pope
sought to raise him up. He said it was heresy to
behave as he meditated doing to the vicegerent of
Christ. The envoy would not be deterred from
his purpose. " His holiness," he began, " was
entreated to utter sentence of excommunication
against all the adherents of Navarre without di-
stinction — to declare that Navarre himself was, in
every case and for all time, incapable of succeed-

* As early as the lOtli of March the ambassador had proposed the
following questions to the pope : "Li ha ricercato la risposta
sopra le tre cose, cioe di licentiar Lucenburg, iscommunicar li
c^i et altri prelati che seguono il Navarra, e prometter di non ha-
bilitar mai esso Navarra alia successione della corona ;" — and had
announced a protest against him. On this the pope threatened
excommunication : " Minaccia di iscommunicar quel e castigarli
nella vita che ardiranno di tentar quanto egli li havea detto,
cacciandolo inanzi e serrandogli in faccia la porta."

^ III.] sixTUS V. 219

ing to the throne of France. If not, the cathoUc
king would throw off his allegiance to his holiness ;
his majesty could not suffer that the cause of Christ
should be sacrificed*." The pope hardly allowed
him to proceed thus far in his speech ; he ex-
claimed that this was not the king's business. The
ambassador rose, then knelt down again, then at-
tempted to proceed. The pope called him a stone
of offence, and went away. But Olivarez was not yet
satisfied ; he declared that he would and must utter
his protest to the end, even though the pope were to
cut off his head for it. He knew well, he said, that
the king would avenge him, and would requite his
fidelity to his children. On the other hand, Six-
tus V. was inflamed with rage. He declared that
no prince on earth was authorized to school the
pope, who was set by God as master over all
others ; whereas the behaviour of the envoy had
been utterly at variance with decency ; that his in-
structions only warranted him in making a protest,
in case the pope should show himself lukewarm in
the affairs of the League. How ! did the envoy
want to direct the steps of his holiness ?

Genuine cathoHcism seemed to have only one
aim, one undivided thought ; it seemed in the road
to victory and on the point of success, when unex-

* " Che S. S^ dichiari iscommunicati tutti quei che seguitano
in Francia il Navarra e tutti gli altri che quovis modo li dessero
ajuto, e che dichiari esso Navarra iucapace perpetuamente alia
corona di Francia : altramente che il re suo si levera dalla obe-
dienza della chiesa, e procurera che non sia fatta ingiuria alia
causa di Christo e che la pieta e la religione soa sia conosciuta."


pectedly two parties, two opinions, formed them-
selves within its bosom, opposed both poUtically
and religiously; the one organized for attack, the
other for resistance. They began their struggle by
labouring, each with all its might, to win over the
head of the church to itself. The one had already
possession of the pope, and strove to hold him
fast by means of bitterness, of threats, almost of
force. Moved by his secret feelings, he had inclined
to the other on one important occasion, and it now
sought to gain him over completely; to seduce him
by promises, to allure him with the most brilliant
visions of the future. It w^as of the highest import-
ance to the result of their struggle, which side he

The demeanor of this pope, so renowned for his
energy and determination, fills us wäth amazement.

When letters from Philip II. arrived, in w^hich
that king declared that he w^ould defend the just
cause ; that he would support the League with all
the forces of his kingdom and with his own blood,
the pope was filled with zeal, and declared that he
would never bring on himself the reproach of not
having opposed a heretic like Navarre*.

Yet these protestations did not prevent his incli-
ning again to the other side. When the difficulties

* He declares even in the consistory, " di haver scritto al
re con sua propria mano, che procurera sempre con tutte Ic
sue forze spirituali e temporali che mai riesca re di Francia
alcuno che non sia di compita sodisfattione alia S. Caf^'"* M^."
In January, 1590, the ambassadors already said, " II papa nellc
trattationi parla con uno ad un modo con suoi disegni et ad un
altro con altri (disegni)."

§ III.] sixTUS V. 221

in which French affairs were involved, were repre-
sented to him, he exclaimed, " If Navarre were
here, I would beseech him on my knees to become
a catholic."

Never did sovereign stand in a more extraor-
dinary relation to his plenipotentiary, than pope
Sixtus to the legate Gaetano, whom he had sent to
France in the time of his intimate alliance with
Spain. The pope was now not indeed gone over to
the side of the French, but was brought into a neu-
tral, irresolute state of mind. The legate followed
his original instructions, without paying the slight-
est regard to this change. When Henry IV., after
the victory of Ivry, besieged Paris, it was the pope's
legate who made the most effective resistance to
him : it was in his hands that committees and ma-
gistrates swore never to capitulate with Navarre;
and it was by his dignity as a minister of the church,
and by a demeanor equally marked by address
and by firmness, that he held them to their pro-

In the end, the inflexibly orthodox opinions dis-
played the greatest strength.

Olivarez compelled the pope to dismiss Luxem-
burg, though indeed under the appearance of a
pilgrimage to Loreto. The pope had fixed upon
monsignore Serafino, who was reputed to hold
French opinions, for a mission to France. Olivarez
loudly complained of this appointment, and declared
that he would come no more to the audience ; the

* Discours veritable et notable du siege de la ville de Paris en
I'an 1590. Villeroy, Memoires d'Estat, torn. ii. p. 417.


pope replied that lie might depart in God's name ;
nevertheless, in the end Olivarez prevailed, and
Serafino's mission was put off. There lies an incre-
dible power in an orthodox faith, held with inflexible
steadiness ; especially when its champion is an able
and energetic man. Olivarez had the congregation,
which was occupied with French affairs and which
had been formed in earlier times, on his side. In
July 1 590, negotiations were set on foot for a new
treaty between Spain and the pope ; Sixtus declared
he must do something in favour of that kingdom*.
Let it not however be imagined that he had given
up the other party. At this very time he had an
agent of one of the leaders of the huguenots, Lesdi-
guieres, near his person ; there were also a charge
d'affaires of the Landgrave, an emissary from En-
gland, and already the imperial ambassador was in
dread of the suggestions of the Saxon ambassador,
who was again expected, and was striving to anti-
cipate and prevent their effect ; the manoeuvres of
chancellor Crell extended even to Romef.

* The king was to send into the field 20,000 foot and 3000
horse ; the pope 15,000 foot and 2000 horse. " Li ambasciatori
sollicitano con li cardinah la conclusione e sottoscrittione del
capitolato." (Disp. 14 Luglio.) The pope proposed the question
in the congregation : " An electio regis Francise vacante principe
ex corpore sanguinis spectet ad pontificem ? Esortato a star
neutrale, laudando il consiglio risponde non poter restar a far
qualche cosa." (Disp. 28 Luglio.) In the Disp. 21 Luglio it is
however recorded, " Laodigeres haveva mandato un suo huomo a
trattar con S. S", il quale ha trattato lungamente seco."

f We cannot otherwise account for the warning given by the
imperial ambassador to the pope not to listen to Saxon insi-
nuations. "L' ambasciatore dell' imperatore prega il pontefice

§ III.] sixTUs V. 223

Thus did the puissant ecclesiastical prince, who
lived in the persuasion that a direct power over all
the earth was entrusted to him, — who had accumu-
lated a treasure which would have enabled him to
strike an important blow, — remain at the decisive
moment irresolute and vacillating.

Ought we to impute this to him as a fault ? I
fear we should do him injustice. He saw through
the situation of things ; he perceived the dangers on
both sides ; he listened to conflicting opinions, and
no crisis forcing him to take a iinal decision pre-
sented itself. The elements which divided the world
warred even in his soul, and neither obtained a con-
clusive mastery.

Certainly however, by this course, he put it com-
pletely out of his own power to subdue Europe,
or to exercise any mighty influence over it. On
the contrary, the causes which then agitated society
reacted upon him ; and this reaction assumed the
most extraordinary form.

Sixtus had subjugated the banditti, chiefly by
maintaining a good understanding with his neigh-
bours. But as this was now interrupted ; as Venice
and Tuscany now held different opinions from those
Avhich prevailed in Naples and Milan ; as the pope
decided for neither, and was therefore alternately an
object of suspicion to both, the banditti once more
rose into activity.

In April 1590, they appeared again, led, in the

di non voler ascoltare quel huomo che vien detto esser mandate
dal duca di Sassonia, in quello die fusse di pregiuditio del suo
patron e della casa d' Austria : e cosi li vien promesso."


Maremma by Sacripante, in Romagna by Piccolo-
mini, and in the Campagna of Romeby Battistella.
They were abundantly provided with money, and
it was observed that they spent a great many Spa-
nish doubloons ; they found adherents chiefly in the
Guelf party ; they already marched about the country
in regular bands, with colours flying and drums
beating, and the papal troops had no mind to en-
gage them*. This state of things affected all the
relations of the country ; the Bolognese, for instance,
opposed the pope's project of increasing the num-
ber of the senators of the city, with an audacity
and freedom which had long been unheard of.

In this situation, — a prey to such near and press-
ing discontent, — without having so much as at-
tempted to come to a decision, or to form a resolu-
tion on the weightiest matter, — pope Sixtus V. died,
on the 27th August, 1590.

A storm burst over the Quirinal just as he ex-
pired. The stupid multitude were convinced that
Fra Felice had made a compact with the evil one,
had ascended from step to step by his aid, and that,
the term of the agreement having expired, his soul
was now carried off in a tempest.

This w^as their mode of expressing their displea-
sure at the number of new taxes he had introduced,
and their doubt of his perfect orthodoxy ; — a doubt
so frequently agitated of late years. They proceeded
in tumultuous fury to tear down the statues which

* Disp. 21 Luglio : "I fuorusciti corrono lino su le porte di
Roma." The despatches of the 17th March, 7th and 28th April,
12th May, and 2nd June contain details on this subject.

§ IV.] URBAN VII. 225

they had formerly erected to him, and a resolution
was passed in the capitol that no statue should ever
again be erected to a living pope.

THEIR CONCLAVES. 1590, 1591.

The new election was now doubly momentous.
It depended mainly on the personal inclinations of
a pope, for which of the two principles already en-
gaged in conflict he would declare himself ; and his
decision might undoubtedly lead to consequences
affecting the state of the whole world. The in-
trigues and the strife of the conclave thus acquire
a new and peculiar importance, and for a short
time demand our attention.

In the earlier half of the sixteenth century, the
electors were generally determined by the prepon-
derancy of the Imperial or the French faction ; the
cardinals had, as a pope asserted, no longer any
freedom of election. In the latter part of the cen-
tury this influence of foreign powers was greatly
diminished, and the curia was left much more to
its own decisions. In the ferment of its intestine
agitations, a principle was generated which gave rise
to a custom of a most singular kind.

Every pope used to nominate a number of car-
dinals, who in the next conclave attached them-
selves to the kinsmen of the deceased pope, con-


226 URBAN VII. [book vi.

stituted a new power, and generally tried to raise
one of their own number to the papal throne. It
is very remarkable that they never succeeded ; that
the opposition was invariably victorious, and gene-
rally elected an adversary of the late pope.

I shall not attempt to explain this fact at length.
We are in possession of documents relating to these
elections, which are not wholly unworthy of credit ;
but it would be impossible to give a vivid or correct
view of the personal relations and motives which
really influenced them ; our delineations would be
mere shadows.

Let it suffice that we note the principle. With-
out an exception, during the period in question, it
was not the adherents, but the opponents of the
last pope, — the creatures, that is, of the last but
one, — who were victorious. Paul IV. was raised
to the papacy by the creatures of Paul III. ; Pius
IV. by the enemies of Caraffa and of Paul IV. The
nephew of Pius IV., Borromeo, was capable of the
highest self-sacrifice, and voluntarilvgave his vote to
a man of the opposite party, whom he esteemed the
most truly devout, — Pius V. ; but he did this amidst
the vehement remonstrances of his uncle's crea-
tures, who, as the report expresses it, could hardly
believe that they saw what they saw, or did what
they did. Nor did they neglect on the next oppor-
tunity to turn this concession to account. They
endeavoured to cause this custom to be acknow-
ledged as a rule ; and in fact they chose the suc-
cessor of Pius V. out of the creatures of Pius IV.
Tlie same took place at the election of Sixtus V.,

§ IV.] URBAN VII. 227

who was elevated from among the adversaries of
his predecessor, Gregory.

It is therefore no wonder if we always find men
of opposite character succeeding each other in the
possession of the tiara. The different factions
drove each other successively from the field.

At the moment we are treating of, this usage
opened a briUiant prospect to the opponent of
Sixtus V. ; especially of the last turn of his policy.
Sixtus V. had made his nephew extremely powerful,
and he now entered the conclave, attended by a
band of devoted cardinals, as numerous as any
that had ever been bound together by a common
interest and common feelings. But in spite of all
these apparent advantages, he was obliged to give
way. The creatures of Gregory raised to the papal
chair an enemy of the former pope, one who had
been peculiarly offended by him, a man of un-
questionable attachment to the Spanish party, —
Giambattista Castagna, who assumed the name of
Urban VII.*

This choice was, however, unfortunate. Urban
VII. died on the twelfth day of his pontificate, be-
fore he was crowned, before he had nominated a
single prelate, and the contest immediately opened

* Conclave di papa Urbano VII. MS. " La pratica (di questa
elettione) fu guidata dal card' Sforza (capo delle creature di papa
Gregorio XIII.) e da cardinal! Genovesi." In a despatch from
Maisse, the French ambassador at Venice, F. Raumer's Histor.
Briefen, i. 360, it is stated that Sforza dragged Colonna from
the papal chair, on which he had already placed himself; but Ave
can hardlv understand tliis literallv.



It differed from the former, inasmuch as the
Spaniards now took the most active part in it.
They saw distinctly how important the event was
to the affairs of France. The king resolved on a
step which was regarded in Rome as a dangerous
innovation, and which even his partisans could
only justify on the plea of the urgency of the
circumstances wherein he was then placed*. He
nominated seven cardinals who appeared likely to
he serviceable to him ; he would accept no others.
At the head of his nominees stood the name of
Madruzzi, and with him, as their leader, the Spa-
nish cardinals immediately made an effort to carry
their point.

But they encountered a stubborn resistance.
The conclave would not have Madruzzi because he
was a German ; because it would be a shame again to
suffer the papacy to fall into the hands of a barba-
rianf ; nor would Montalto consent to the election
of any of the others. Montalto had indeed tried
in vain to secure it for one of his followers ; but
he had at least the negative power of excluding.
The conclave was protracted to an undue and un-
precedented length ; the banditti were masters of
the country, there were daily reports of property
plundered and villages burned, and there were fears
of disturbances in Rome itself.

* II grande Interesse del re cattolico e la sjoesa nella quale si
trova scnza ajuto nissuno ]5cr servitio della Cliristianita fa che
gli si debbia coiidonarc.

■|- C' Morosini said, " Italia anderebbe in prcda a' barbari,
che farebbc una vergogna." Concl. della sede vacante di Ur-
bane VII.


There was only one means of bringing things to
the desired end ; — to pick out the one from among
the candidates who was the least disagreeable to
the kinsmen and followers of Sixtus V. In the
Florentine Memoirs* it is stated that the grand-
duke of Tuscany ; in the Roman, that cardinal
Sforza, the head of the Gregorian cardinals, prin-
cipally contributed to bring this about. Secluded
in his cell (perhaps for the very reason that he had
been told that his interests would be best advanced
by silence), and suffering from fever, lived cardinal
Sfondrato, one of the Seven. Upon him the parties
agreed, and a family alliance between the house of
Stbndrato and Montalto was immediately discussed
as a preliminary measure. Thereupon Montalto
visited the cardinal in his cell ; he found him on his
knees before the crucifix, still not wholly free from
fever, and told him that on the morrow he should
be elected. On the morrow (5th Dec. 1590), he
and Sforza led him into the chapel where the votes
were given. Sfondrato w^as elected, and took the
name of Gregory XIV. f

He was a man who fasted twice a week, said
mass daily, always recited the prescribed number
of prayers on his knees, and then devoted an hour
to his favourite author, St. Bernard, out of whom
he carefully noted the sentences which particularly
struck him ; — a soul of virgin innocence. It was
remarked half jestingly, that he had come into the

* Galluzzi, Storia del Granducato di Toscano, v. 09.
t T. Tasso celebrated this elevation to the throne in a mag-
nificent canzone, " Da gran lode immortal."


world too early (at seven months), and was reared
with difficulty ; and that he had therefore too little
of earthly elements in his composition. He had
never heen able to understand the practice or the
intrigues of the curia. The cause which the Spa-
niards defended, he implicitly held to be the cause
of the church. He was a born subject of Philip H.
and a man after his own heart. Without hesita-
tion or delay, he declared himself in favour of the

" Do you," he writes to the Parisians, " who
have made so laudable a beginning, persevere to
the end, and stay not until you have reached the
goal of your course. Inspired by God, we have
determined to come to your aid. First, we send
you assistance in money, and truly beyond our
means. We likewise despatch our nuncio, Lan-
driano, to France, in order to bring back all deserters
into your union. Lastly, we send, though not
without a heavy burthen on the church, our dear son
and nephew, Ercole Sfondrato, duke of Montemar-
ciano, with horse and foot, to employ their arms in
your defence. Should you stand in need of yet
more, we will also provide you with itf."

This letter contains the entire policy of Gregory
XIV. It was, however, very effective. The de-
claration itself, the repetition of the excommunica-

* Cicarella de Vita Gregorii XIV., contained in all the later
editions of Platina.

f " Gregoire pape XIV. ä mes fils bien aymes les gens du
conseil des seize quartiers de la ville de Paris." Cayet, Chrono-
logie novenaire, Memoires coll. univ., torn. Ivii, p. 62,


tion of Henry IV., which was connected with it, and
lastly the citation to all the clergy, the nobles, the
judicial officers, and the third estate, to sever them-
selves, under pain of severe penalties, from Henry
of Bourbon, of which Landriano was the bearer,
produced a deep impression*. There were many
strict catholics on the side of Henry IV., who were
perplexed by this decisive step of the head of their
church. They declared that not only the kingdom,
but the church, had a succession, and that it was
as unlawful to change the religion as the dynasty.
From this time may be dated the formation, among
the king's adherents, of what was called the third
paiiy, which incessantly urged him to return to
Catholicism ; which remained true to him only
under this condition and with this expectation, and
was the more important, inasmuch as the most
powerful men who immediately surrounded him
were among its members.

But the other measures which the pope an-
nounced in this letter, and which he delayed not
to carry into execution, produced still greater con-
sequences. He remitted to the Parisians a monthly
subsidy of 15,000 scudi ; he sent colonel Lusi into
Switzerland to levy troops ; and after having so-
lemnly committed the standard of the church to
his nephew, Ercole, in Santa Maria Maggiore, as

* Cayet observes this. " Le party du roy estoit sans aucune
division. Ce qui fut entretenu jusques au temps de la publication
des bulles monitoriales du pape Gregoire XIV., que d'aucuns
volurent engendrer un tiers party et le former des catholiques,
qui ^toit dans le party royal."


their general, he sent him to Milan, where his army
was to assemhle. The commissary who accom-
panied him, archbishop Matteuci, was abundantly

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