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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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fairest state in the world, defended by arms and by
its population ; strong in its alliances on either side
the Alps. Having said this, Alfonso II. expired,
on the 27th October, 1597.

* Relatione di quello die e successo in Ferrara dopo la
Morte delDuca Alfonso (MS. Barber.). " II duca fra I'anno con-
cessogli di tempo alia dichiaratione scrisse di suo pugno una let-
tera all' imperatore e noraino Don Cesare, pregando caldamente
S. M. Ces^ che in confirmatione del nominato sottoscrivesse la
sua, quale sigillata senza publicare il fatto la rimandasse indietro
per il conte Ercole Rondinelli, conferendogli altramente il nego-
tio. II tutto faceva S.A. accio Don Cesare non s' insuperbisse ne
della nobilta fusse riverito e corteggiato come lor principe."

278 CONQUEST [book vi.


Cesare took possession of the fiefs of the empire
without opposition, and even those of the pope did
him homage ; in Ferrara he was invested by the
magistrate with the ducal mantle, and greeted by
the people with shouts and acclamations as their
new sovereign.

But he was soon in a position to put to the
proof the domestic power and the foreign support
of which his predecessor had boasted.

Clement remained unshaken in his determina-
tion to reduce Ferrara into the possession of the
church. He thought he should obtain eternal fame
if he could accomplish what had been vainly at-
tempted by so many of his predecessors. On the
news of Alfonso's death, he declared that he was
sorry that the duke left no son ; but that the
church must have her own again. He would not
listen to Cesare's ambassadors, and called his ta-
king possession an usurpation ; he threatened him
with excommunication unless he abdicated within
a fortnight ; and to give force to his words, he im-
mediately began to prepare .to carry his menace
into effect. A new loan was made and a new monte
founded, in order not to touch the money in the
castle*. In a short time, the pope's nephew,

* Many however maintain that this money was really used.
Delfino says, on the other hand, " Con gran strettezza de'danari,
senza metter mano a quelli del castello per conservar la ripu-
tatione della chiesa, in poco piu di un mese ha posto insieme un
esercito di 22 m. fanti e 3 m. cavalli."


cardinal Pietro Aldobrandino, surrounded by ex-
perienced captains, proceeded to Ancona to col-
lect forces ; he sent recruiters in all directions,
and heavy contributions were levied on the pro-

Nor did Cesare betray any want of courage at
first*. He declared that he would defend his good
right to the last drop of his blood ; that neither his
religion nor his salvation would suffer : he repaired
the fortifications of his strong places ; the militia
took up arms ; a body of troops advanced to the
frontier of the states of the church, and we find an
invitation to them to enter Romagna, where the
people were discontented with the papal yoke and
only desired an opportunity to throw it off. It was
likewise his good fortune that the neighbouring
Italian states took part with him. His brother-in-
law, the grand duke of Tuscany, declared that he
would never desert him. The republic of Venice
prevented the pope from recruiting in Dalmatia,
and refused him the munitions of war which he
wanted to draw from Brescia. The aggrandise-
ment of the states of the church was intensely hate-
ful to all the other Italian powers.

Had Italy been in the same situation as a cen-
tury earlier, — tolerably independent of foreign influ-

* Niccolo Contarini delle Historie Venetiane, MS., torn. i. lib.
i. " Cesare nel principio si mostro molto coraggioso in voler di-
fender le sue ragioai, o perche non prevedeva il contrasto o pur
perche gl' inesperti come nei vicini pericoli s'atterriscono cosi
nelli lontani si manifestano intrepidi," Contarini's narrative con-
tains a great deal of accurate and striking information on this

280 CONQUEST [book VI.

eiices and relying only on herself, — it is probable
that Clement VIII. would not have effected more
than Sixtus IV. ; but those times were over ; every-
thing was now referred to the general relations of
Europe, and to the great powers ofthat time, France
and Spain.

The inclinations of the Spaniards were no longer
doubtful. Cesare d'Este had such implicit confi-
dence in Philip II. that he proposed him to the
pope as umpire ; the governor of Milan distinctly
declared himself for Cesare, and offered him Spa-
nish garrisons for his fortresses. It was however
manifest, that the king, who had all his life re-
pressed every commotion in Italy, hesitated at his
advanced age to give occasion to a war, and con-
ducted himself with extreme caution, which was
also observed by his ambassador at Rome*.

Under these circumstances, the war depended
on the decision of Henry IV. The restoration of
France as a mighty and catholic power, was evident-
ly pregnant with the most important consequences
to Italy. Strengthened by the alliance of the Itahan
princes, Henry IV. had victoriously defended his
right, and they did not doubt that gratitude would
now lead him to take their side in their differences
with the Holy See. Independently of this, the
crown of France was much bound to the house

* Delfino relates how much was feared from him at Rome :
" Vi 6 un pensiero radicato a buon fundamento che la benedi-
zione data al re di Franza sia stata ofFesa tale al cattolico e a
Spagnuoli che non siano per scordarsela mai, e pare a S. S^ es-
serne molto ben chiarita in questa occasione di Ferrara,"


of Este. During the civil war, that family had ad-
vanced above a milUon of scudi to the royal house ;
this sum, which was not yet repaid, would now
have sufficed to recruit an army to which no pope
could have offered effectual resistance.

These, however, were not the considerations
which determined Henry IV. Spite of his conver-
sion to Catholicism, he would always be compelled to
do many things which could not be otherwise than
displeasing to the court of Rome ; in the affair of
Ferrara he beheld only an opportunity of procuring
oblivion for these things, and of raising the lilies
(as his statesmen expressed it) once more at the
court of Rome. Without the least hesitation or
wavering, he offered the succour of France to the
Holy Father. He was not only ready, he said,
as soon as the pope desired, to send an army
across the Alps, but also in case of necessity
to come in person with all his forces to his assist-

It was this declaration which decided the affair.
The court of Rome, already conscious of all the diffi-
culties in which the coldness of its neighbours and
the open resistance of Ferrara might place it, now
drew breath. " I cannot express," writes Ossat to
the king, " what cordiality, praises, and blessings
have been bestowed upon your majesty in return
for your offer." He promises his royal master, that
if his performance keep pace with his professions,
he will stand in the same relation to the church as
Pepin or Charlemagne.

The pope, on his side, now made immediate pre-

282 CONQUEST [book vi.

parations for the formal excommunication of his

Tiie princes were surprised and alarmed ; they
talked of black ingratitude ; they lost courage to
support Ferrara, which otherwise they would un-
questionably have done, openly or covertly, with
all their might.

The influence of these circumstances was imme-
diately felt by Ferrara. Alfonso's harsh sway had
necessarily created much discontent. Cesare was
new to government, without the requisite talents,
and entirely without experience. He had almost to
make the acquaintance of his privy councillors at
his first sittings as their prince*; and as he had
despatched to difterent courts his old friends who
knew him, and on whom he could rely, he had
no one about him in whom he had any real confi-
dence, or witii whom he could have any frank in-
terchange of opinions. It was impossible for him
to avoid false steps. From the very first, every
one around him seemed infected by that feeling of

* Niccolo Contarini : " Cesare si ridusse in camera co' suoi soli
consiglieri, de' quali molti, per la ritlratezza nella quale era vis-
suto cosi volendo chi comandava, non conosceva se non di faccia,
et egli non sufficiente di prender risolutione da se, vacillava nei
concetti perche quelli che consigliavano erano pieni di passioni
particolari e per le speranze di Roma in cui miravano infetti di
grandi contamination!. " Ossat too, Lettres, i. 495, gives as the
reason of his misfortunes, " le peu de fidelite de ses conseillers
memes, qui partie pour son peu de resolution, partie pour avoir
des rentes et autres biens en I'etat de I'eglise et esperer et crain-
dre plus du St. siege que de lui, regardoient autant ou plus vers
le pape que vers lui."


insecurity which is usually the forerunner of ruin.
The great and powerful already began to calculate
what advantage might possibly result to them from
a change ; they tried to make a secret treaty with
the pope, and despatched Antonio Montecatino as
their delegate to Rome. But the most terrible ca-
lamity was, that a division arose in the house of
Este itself. Lucrezia had hated Cesare's father ;
she hated Cesare himself no less, and could not
endure to be his subject ; she herself, the sister of
the late duke, did not scruple to form an alliance
with the pope and cardinal Aldobrandino.

Meanwhile the pope had performed the act of ex-
communication. On the 22nd of December, 1597,
he went in procession to St. Peter's, and ascended
the loggia of that church with his immediate re-
tinue. A cardinal read the bull, in which Don Ce-
sare d'Este was declared an enemy to the church
of Rome, guilty of high treason, fallen under the
heaviest censure, and under sentence of anathema ;
his subjects were absolved from their oath of alle-
giance ; the officers of his government were warned
to quit his service. After the bull was read, the
pope with a wrathful countenance threw down a
large burning taper on the ground. Trumpets
and drums sounded, cannons were fired, and the
noise of both was drowned in the cries of the

Circumstances were of such a nature, that this
excommunication could not fail to produce its full
effect. An inhabitant of Ferrara itself brought a
copy of the bull, sewed up in his clothes, into the

284 CONQUEST [book VI.

city, and delivered it to the bishop*. The next
morning, 3 1st of December, 1597, was fixed for
the burial of a canon ; the church was hung with
black and the people assembled to hear the funeral
sermon. The bishop ascended the pulpit and began
to speak of death. " But far worse," exclaimed he
suddenly, " than the death of the body, is the de-
struction of the soul, which now threatens us all."
He paused, and ordered the bull to be read, in which
all who refused to separate themselves from Don
Cesare were menaced "to be hewn off, as withered
branches, from the tree of spiritual life." Here-
upon the bull was fixed upon the church door ; the
church was filled with sighs and lamentations, and
fear fell upon the whole city.

Don Cesare was not the man to arrest the course
of such an agitation. He had been advised to en-
list Swiss and Germans in his service, but he had
never been able to resolve on such a step. Catho-
lics he would not have, because they were adhe-
rents of the pope ; and still less protestants, be-
cause they were heretics; "just as if it was his
business," said Niccolo Contarini, " to perform the
office of an inquisitor," He now asked his confes-
sor what he was to do ; Benedetto Palma was a Je-
suit ; he advised him to submit.

* A certain Coralta. " Ributtato al primo ingresso da' soldati
se escuso che lui ivi dimorava ne era ancora partito per Bologna,"
(whence however he Avas just arrived : he had dismounted from
liis horse at some distance from the gate,) " e ragiouando si pose
fra loro a sedere, finalmcnte assicurato si licentio della guardia,
entro nella citta, presento al vescovo la scommunica con la Ict-
tera del arcivescovo di Bologna." (Relatione di quello che, etc.)


Don Cesare was in such a situation, that in or-
der to make this submission under favourable con-
ditions, he was compelled to have recourse to her
whom he knew to be his worst enemy ; he was
compelled to make use of the secret, and in a cer-
tain sense treasonable, connexion which Lucrezia
had formed with Rome, to secure a tolerable re-
treat for himself*. At his request she repaired,
with her accustomed magnificence, to the enemy's

Cesare 's adherents always maintained that she
might have made better terms for him ; bat allured
by the promise of possession for life of Bertinoro,
with the title of duchess, and personally captivated
by the young and witty cardinal, she conceded
everything that was desired of her. On the 12th
of January, 1598, the agreement was drawn up, in
virtue of which Cesare was to make a formal re-
nunciation of Ferrara, Comacchio, and his part of
Romagna, and in return to be freed from the ana-
thema of the church. He had flattered himself
that he should save at least something, and this

* Contaiini : " Come chi abandona ogni speranza, piü facil-
mente si rimette nell' arbitrio dell' inimico che nella confidenza
deir amico, ando (Cesare) a ritrovare la duchessa d' Urbino, et a
lei, la qual ben sapeva haver pur troppo intelligenza col C^ Al-
dobrandino, rimise ogni sua fortuna. Accetto ella allegramente

r impresa ridotta dove al principio haveva desiderate Con

molta comitiva quasi trionfante, accompagnata dal marchese Ben-
tivoglio, capo delle militie del duca, faceva il suo viaggio." He
describes Lucrezia as " di pensieri torbidi : bench^ simulasse
altrimente, era non di meno di lungo tempo acerrima nemica di
Don Cesare."

286 CONQUEST [book vi.

total loss of his possessions appeared very hard to
him; he once more summoned the chief magistrates
of the city, the Giudice de' Savj, and certain doc-
tors and nobles, to council. They gave him no
comfort ; every man was already thinking only how
to place himself on a good footing with the new
power which was expected ; already they vied with
each other in eagerness to pull down the arms of
the Este and to drive out their officers. Nothing
remained for the duke, but to sign his abdication
and to quit the inheritance of his fathers.

Thus did the house of Este lose Ferrara. Ar-
chives, museum, hbrary, and a part of the artillery
which Alfonso I. had cast with his own hands,
were taken to Modena ; all the rest was dispersed
or destroyed. Alfonso's widow carried away her
property, which filled fifty waggons ; his sister,
married in France, took upon herself the claims of
her house to the crown of that kingdom. But the
most unlooked-for conduct was that of Lucrezia.
Precisely a month after she had concluded the
above-mentioned treaty, on the 12th of February,
she died. When her will was opened, it was found
that she had made cardinal Aldobrandino, the very
man who had driven her family from their ancient
seat, heir to all her property. She had even be-
queathed to him her claims, which now remained
to be contested with Cesare himself. It was as if
she had wished to bequeath to her ancient foe an
adversary who might embitter the whole of his re-
maining life. There is something demoniacal in
the satisfaction and pleasure which this woman


seems to have felt in leading on her own house to

In this manner did the papal supersede the ducal
sway. On the 8th of May the pope entered Fer-
rara in person. He wished immediately to enjoy
the sight of his new acquisition, and to bind it to
the church by suitable institutions.

He began his work with gentleness and mercy.
A certain number of the principal men of Ferrara
were invested with ecclesiastical dignities*. Car-
dinals' hats, bishoprics, and auditorships w^re dis-
tributed ; among those thus distinguished was the
young Bentivogho, the historian, the privy cham-
berlain of the pope. The duke's power had rested
on the possession of municipal privileges ; the pope
resolved to restore to the citizens their ancient
rights. He formed a council out of the three
classes, in which the higher nobility possessed
twenty-seven, the inferior nobility and the better
sort of citizens fifty-five, and the trades eighteen
seats. Their rights were carefully distinguished ;
those of the first class were the most considerable,
but, on the other hand, their nomination depended
chiefly on the pope. To this council the pope
committed the superintendence of the provisions,
the regulation of the rivers, the nomination of the
judges and podestas, and even the filling the chairs

* Contarini : " Al Bevilacqua, che era di molto potere, fu dato
il patriarcato latino di Constantinopoli. II Saciato fu creato au-
ditor di rota. Ad altri si dispensarono abbatie."


in the university ; — all rights which the duke had
jealously retained in his own hands ; and, as may
he imagined, a new state of society was introduced
hy this important change. Nor were the interests
of the humbler classes neglected ; many of the
strict fiscal regulations were abolished*.

But affairs could not all be conducted in this
temper, nor was even the sway of the church all
mildness. The judicial duties of ecclesiastical
officials very soon became burthensome to the
nobility; the first Giudice de' Savj, Montecatino,
of whom mention has already been made, was in-
tensely disgusted at the manner in which the rights
of his office were limited, and sent in his resigna-
tion. It excited universal discontent, that pope
Clement deemed it necessary to secure his con-
quest by the erection of a fortress. The represen-
tations which the inhabitants made against this
project, however urgent and humble, wxre vain ;
and one of the most populous parts of the city was
selected for the citadel f. Whole streets were
pulled down ; churches, oratories, hospitals, the
banqueting-houses of the duke and of his court,
the beautiful Belvedere, celebrated by so many
poets, — all were levelled to the ground.

It was perhaps imagined that the memory of the
ducal house would be thoroughly obliterated by the

* Frizzi, Memorie v. p. 25.

t Dispaccio Delfino, 7 Giugno, 1598. "Si pensa dal papa di
far una citadella della parte verso Bologna, per la iioca sodisfat-
tione che ha la nobiltä per non esser rispettata dalli ministri
della giustitia e che non li siano per esser restituiti le entrate
vecchie della community — dolendosi di esser ingannati."


destruction of these buildings ; on the contrary,
more effectual means could not have been taken to
revive it : the almost quenched attachment to the
hereditary sovereign race was rekindled. All those
who had belonged to the court removed to Modena ;
and Ferrara, already rather gloomy, became more
and more deserted.

But all who were desirous of following the court
were not permitted to do so. There is extant a
MS. chronicle by an old servant of the ducal house,
in which he dwells with delight on the court of
Alfonso, its amusements, its concerts, and sermons.
" But now," says he at the conclusion, " all these
things are over. There is now no longer a duke
in Ferrara ; there are no longer princesses ; no
concerts, or concert-givers : so passes this world's
glory. For others the world may be made pleasant
by changes ; but not for me, for I remain alone,
old, decrepid, and poor. Nevertheless, God be


It is obvious that the grand results which Clement
VIII. had attained in accordance with the policy of
France, necessarily bound him more and more closely

* Cronica di Ferrara : " Sic transit gloria mundi. E per tale
variare natura e bella, ma non per me, che io son restato senza
patrone, vecchio, privo di tutti i denti e povero, Laudetur Deus."


to that power. He now found the advantage of
the moderation he had observed in the affairs of
the League ; he rejoiced that he had opposed no
obstacle to the development of events in France,
and had finally determined to grant the king abso-
lution. The court of Rome took the same interest
in the war which v/as waging on the frontiers of
Flanders and of France, as if the cause had been
its own; and that interest was entirely on the side
of France. The conquest of Calais and Amiens by
the Spaniards excited a displeasure at the court of
Rome "which cannot be described," says Ossat ;
" an extreme melancholy, shame and indigna-
tion*." " The pope and his kinsmen feared," ob-
serves Delfino, " that the Spaniards might wreak
upon them the resentment they felt at the king's
absolution." Fortunately Henry IV. quickly re-
stored his damaged reputation by the reconquest
of Amiens.

Not that the court of Rome had begun to love
those with whom it had formerly been at enmity ;
those leaders of the clergy who had first taken part
with Henry, and had founded the opposition we have
described, were never forgiven; and promotion was

* Ossat a Villeroy, 14 Mai, 1596; 20 Avril, 1597, i. 251, 45S.
Delfino : " Li pericoli di Marsiglia fecero stare il papa in gran
timore e li nepoti : la perdita di Cales e poi quella di Amiens
apport^ loro gran mestitia e massime che si dubitö allora per le
voci che andavano attorno di peggio, temendo quelli che ogni
l^oco che cadeva piu la riputatione de' Francesi, i Spagnoli non
avessero mostrato apcrtamente lo sdegno che hanno avuto della
resolutione (absolutione ?) loro e la sua mala volonta : per questa
causa principalmente hanno avuto carissimo il bene della Franza."


always bestowed by preference on those adherents
of the League who were the last to relinquish their
hostility to Henry ; i. e. who were in precisely the
same predicament as the curia itself. But (as the
opinions of men, however nearly they may ap-
proximate, yet betray varieties of character and
inclination,) a catholic party soon appeared, even
among the adherents of the king, affecting extra-
ordinary rigour, with a view to maintain a good
understanding with the court of Rome ; to this
party the pope chiefly attached himself, in the hope
of reconciling all the differences which still existed
between the interests of Rome and of France ; but
above all, it was his wish and his endeavour to
restore the Jesuits, who had been driven out of that
kingdom, and thus, in defiance of the course which
things had taken in France, to give greater currency
to Romish doctrines.

His designs were aided by a movement in the
order itself, which, though originating in its bosom,
had a great analogy with the general tendencies of
the court of Rome.

So strangely involved are often the affairs of this
world, that at the moment in which the gravest
charge brought by the university of Paris against
the Jesuits was their connexion with Spain ; — in
which it was a common saying and belief in France,
that every Jesuit put up dailyprayersforkingPhilip"^,
and was bound by a fifth vow to devote himself to
Spain ; — at that very moment the institute of the
Company of Jesus was violently attacked in Spain

* " pro nostro rege Philippe."
u 2


by discontented members of its own body, by tbe
inquisition, by another monastic order, and lastly
by the king himself.

This turn of affairs was attributable to several
causes, the proximate one of which wus as follows.
In the early years of the order, the elder and more
accomplished men who entered it were chiefly
Spaniards ; those of other nations were generally
young men who had their education still to go
through. Hence it naturally followed that the go-
vernment of the company fell, during the first ten
years, almost entirely into the hands of Spaniards.
The first general congregation consisted of twenty-
five members, eighteen of whom w'ere Spaniards*.
The three first generals belonged to the same nation.
After the death of the third, Borgia, in the year
1573, Polanco, also a Spaniard, had the best pro-
spect of succeeding him.

It became evident, however, that even in Spain
itself, his elevation w'ould not be regarded with
satisfaction. The company contained many recent
converts from Judaism, tow^hich class Polanco himself
belonged, and it was not thought desirable that the

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