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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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their aid with all their forces in the following

It does not appear very clearly from our accounts,
how Spain and France intended to divide the spoil;

* Lettere del nunzio, 9 Aprile, 1627 : " Torno a Parigi il prefato
corriere di Spagna con avvisi che il re cattolico contentavasi di
muoversi il primo, come veniva desiderate da Francesi, purch^ da
quest! si concedessero unitamente le due ofFerte altre volte alter-
nativamente proposte, cioe che il christianissimo si obligasse di
muoversi nel mese di maggio o di giugno dell' anno seguente e
che presentemente accomodasse I'armata cattolica di alcune
galere ed altri legni. Porto anche nuova il medesimo corriere
che il conte duca haveva in Ispagna staccata la pratica e dato
ordine che se ne staccasse una simile in Fiandra col re d'lnffhil-
terra il quale ofFriva al cattolico sospensione d'armi per tre anni
o altro piu lungo tempo tanto a nome del re di Danimarca quanto
degli Olandesi."


but thus much is evident, that even in this matter
the pope was not forgotten. Berulle disclosed to
the nuncio in the profoundest secrecy, that if they
were successful, Ireland was to fall to the share of
the holy see ; in which case the pope would proba-
bly govern it by a viceroy. The nuncio received
this communication with extreme satisfaction ; he
however recommended his holiness not to allow the
least rumour of it to get wind ; lest it should ap-
pear as if their schemes for the advancement of
religion were in any degree mixed with worldly

The interests of Germany and Italy were also
kept in view.

It seemed yet possible to destroy the superiority
of the naval power of England and Holland by
means of a general combination. The idea was
suggested of forming an armed company, under the
protection of which a direct communication be-
tween the Baltic, Flanders, the French coast, Spain
and Italy might be maintained, without the parti-
cipation of the two maritime powers. The emperor
even made proposals to that effect to the Hans
towns ; and the Infanta at Brussels wished that a
port of the Baltic might be ceded to the Spaniards*.
Negotiations were also set on foot with the grand-
duke of Tuscany, to the end that the Spanish and
Portuguese trade might pass through Leghornf.

* Pope Urban says this in a letter of instruction to Ginetti, in
Siri, Mercurio, ii. 984.

t Scrittura sopra la compagnia militante, MS. in the Archivio
Mediceo, contains a discussion of the practicability of this plan :


Things did not indeed go the length proposed.
In consequence of the intricacy of the relations,
events took a far different turn, yet one which
eventually led to a result extremely favourable to
the cause of Catholicism.

TMiile the catholic powers were devising this
vast plan of an attack on England, it fell out that
they themselves were surprised by an attack from

In July 1627. Buckingham appeared off the
coast of France with a stately fleet ; he landed in
the isle of Rhe', and occupied it all except the cita-
del of St. Martin, to which he immediately laid
siege, and called upon the huguenots to make a
fresh effort in defence of their hberties and their re-
ligious independence, which were daily more im-
minently threatened.

The English historians usually attribute this ex-
pedition to a romantic passion of Buckingham for
Anne of Austria. AMiether he reaUy entertained
any such passion or not, a very different, but
doubtless a more substantial, ground of his enter-
prise is to be found in the grand course of events.
Was Buckingham to await in England the projected
attack? It was doubtless better to anticipate it, and
to carry the war into France*. A more favourable

" Si propone che i popoli delle citta anseatiche entreranno nella
compagnia militante per fame piacere all' imperatore e che i
Toscani non abbino a ricusare come chiamati da si gran mon-

* We might ask whether Buckingham had not come to the
knowledge of this secret design : it is at any rate highly pro-
bable, considering how very seldom a secret is kept so entirelr.


moment could not be fomid : Louis XIII. was dan-
gerously ill, and Richelieu involved in a struggle
with powerful factions. After some delay, the hu-
guenots actually took up arms anew, and their va-
liant and veteran leaders appeared once more in
the field.

Had Buckingham followed up the war with more
energy and been better supported, he must have
succeeded ; but king Charles I. admits in all his
letters that this was not the case. Things were so
conducted that the English were soon no match for
cardinal Richelieu, whose genius unfolded its re-
sources with redoubled vigour in moments of diffi-
culty, and who had never shown himself more re-
solute, firm, and indefatigable, than in the present
exigency. Buckingham saved himself by a retreat.
His enterprise, which might have brought the
French government into extraordinary peril, had
in fact no other consequence than to let loose the
whole power of the country, wielded by the cardi-
nal, with new violence on the huguenots.

The focus of the huguenot force was unquestion-
ably La Rochelle. Years before, when Richelieu

that some portion does not transpire. "We certainly know
that it immediately came to the ears of the Venetian ambassador,
Zorzo Zorzi, who arrived in France at the time those arrange-
ments were in course of conclusion. " Si aggiungeva che le
due corone tenevano insieme machinatione e trattati di assalire
con pari forze e dispositioni I'isola d'Inghilterra." It seems very
improbable that the aftair should not have been known in Eng-
land ; the Venetians were on the best understanding with Eng-
land, and had even fallen under the suspicion of having advised
the expedition against the isle of Rhc. (Rel. di Francia, 1628.)


resided at his see of Lucon in that neighbourhood,
he had meditated on the possibihty of conquering
that place ; he now saw himself called upon to
conduct such an undertaking, and determined to
execute it, cost what it would.

It happened most strangely, that nothing con-
tributed so much to his success as the fanaticism
of an English puritan.

Buckingham had at last prepared to relieve La
Rochelle ; his honour was engaged ; his position in
England and the world depended upon this enter-
prize, and doubtless he would have strained every
nerve to accomplish it: this was the moment chosen
by a fanatic, goaded by revenge and inflamed by
mistaken zeal for religion, to assassinate him.

In great conjunctures, it is necessary that pow-
erful men should make a public undertaking their
own personal affair. The siege of La Rochelle was
a duel between the two ministers. Richelieu was
now the survivor. There was no one in England
to occupy Buckingham's place, no one to adopt
the defence of his honour ; the English fleet ap-
peared in the roads, but struck no decisive blow.
It was said that Richelieu knew that this would be
the case. He persevered with unshaken flrmness,
and in October 1628, La Rochelle surrendered.

After the principal fortress had fallen, the
neighbouring places despaired of being able to hold
out — their only sohcitude was to make tolerable

* Zorzo Zorzi, Relatione di Francia, 1629 : " L' acquisto di
Rocella ultimate sugli occlii dell' armata Inglese, che professava


Thus, out of all these political complexities,
which at first appeared favourable to the protest-
ants, sprang in the end decisive victories and enor-
mous advances on the side of Catholicism. The
north-east of Germany and the south-west of
France, which had so long resisted, were both sub-
dued. Nothing seemed now to be necessary but
to subject the conquered foe for ever by laws and
by institutions of permanent influence.

The assistance which Denmark had afforded to
the Germans, and England to the French, proved
injurious rather than useful ; they had brought
upon them a resistless enemy ; and these powers
were now themselves endangered, or even attacked.
The imperial troops penetrated as far as Jutland,
and negotiations were actively renewed between
France and Spain, with a view to the projected
combined attack upon England (A.D. 1G28).

di sciogliere I'assedio et introdurvi il soccorso, I'impresa contro
Roano, capo et anima di questa fattione, i progress! contra gli
Ugonotti nella Linguadocca colla ricuperatione di ben 50 piazze
hanno sgomentato i cuori e spozzato la fortuna di quel partito,
che perdute le forze interne e mancategli le intelligenze straniere
si e intieramente rimesso alia volonta e clemenza del re." He
notices that the Spaniards came certainly at a late hour, and
then but with fourteen vessels, but that still they did come to
take part in the siege of La Rochelle. He ascribes their acces-
sion to the " certezza del fine," and to the desire " participar
affli onori."




A.T the first glance, the course of human events,
the march of the human mind in any direction it
has once taken, present an aspect of undeviating

But on a nearer observation, we not unfrequently
perceive that the fundamental circumstance which
determines the whole progress of things, is but
slight and feeble ; — often little more than personal
sympathy or antipathy, which it would not be dif-
ficult to disturb.

If we inquire what were the main causes of the
recent amazing successes of the catholic restora-
tion, we find that they were not so much the ar-
mies of Tilly and Wallenstein, or the military su-
periority of Richelieu over the huguenots, as the
renewed alliance between France and Spain, with-
out which neither nation would have been able to
accomplish anything of moment.

From the year 1626 protestantism no longer
made any independent resistance, and was only
emboldened to attempt it again by the disunion of


the catholic powers ; their reconcihation therefore
caused its downfall.

But it required no extraordinary sagacity to per-
ceive how slight a cause would suffice to disturb
their union.

Within the pale of Catholicism even, two distinct
and opposite impulses had arisen by an equal and
inevitable necessity ; — the one religious, the other

The former demanded union, propagation of the
faith, and disregard of all other considerations ; the
latter incessantly stimulated the rivalry of the great
powers for precedence in dignity and authority.
It could not be said that the balance of power in
Europe had been disturbed by the course of events.
The balance of power in those times depended on
the hostile interests of France and Austrian- Spain,
and recent occurrences had greatly increased the
strength of France and had placed her more nearly
on an equality with her rival.

But nations are excited to action no less by the
anticipation of future dangers, than by the pressure
of present evils ; and it now seemed as if the natu-
ral course of things was pregnant with general in-
security and confusion.

The north of Germany, the ancient seat of pro-
testantism, was overrun by Wallenstein's troops;
and this opened the possibility of restoring the
imperial sovereignty over the whole of Germany,
(which, with the exception of a short period
in the life of Charles V., had for centuries been
a mere shadow,) to real power and substantial


importance. If the catholic restoration went on in
the way it had begun, this result was inevitable.

The king of France, on the other hand, had no
equivalent to expect ; — when once he had subdued
the huguenots, he had nothing more to gain. But
the Italians had the greatest cause for anxiety ;
the renovation of a powerful imperial government
which had such manifold claims in Italy, and was
so immediately connected with the hated power of
Spain, was in their eyes perilous and insupportable.

The question once more arose, whether the exer-
tions in the cause of Catholicism would be con-
tinued without regard to this state of things, and
would again carry all before them '? or whether
political considerations would preponderate, and
would put a stop to these exertions ?

Whilst the torrent of the catholic restoration
swept with full force over France and Germany,
an event occurred in Italy, the result of wdiich was
to decide this question.


At the close of the year 1G27, died Vincenzo II.,
duke of Mantua, of the house of Gonzaga, without
issue. His nearest agnate was Carlo Gonzaga,
Due de Nevers.

The succession was in itself subject to no difS-
culties, since no doubt existed as to the rights of

VOL. II. 2 N


the agnate. But it involved a political change of
great importance.

Charles de Nevers was born in France, and was
of course regarded as a Frenchman ; and it was
thought that the Spaniards would not suffer a
Frenchman to acquire power in the north of Italy,
which they had always striven with especial jea-
lousy to guard from all French influence.

If, after the lapse of so many ages, we endeavour
to obtain an accurate understanding of this affair,
we find that neither the court of Spain nor that of
Austria had at first any thought of excluding him
from the succession. He was related to the impe-
rial house, since the empress was a Mantuan prin-
cess, and always warmly attached to his interests.
" At first," says Khevenhiller, who was employed
in Mantuan aftairs, " nothing hostile to his interests
was required of him ; on the contrary, they deli-
berated how to conciliate his devotion to the im-
perial house*." Olivarez, too, expressly affirms the
same thing ; he relates that when the news arrived
of the dangerous illness of Don Vincenzo, it w^as
determined that a courier should be immediately
despatched to the duke de Nevers, to offer him the
protection of Spain in a pacific occupation of Man-
tua and Montferratt- It is indeed possible, that

* Annales Ferdinandei, xi. p. 30.

t Francesco degli Albizi, negotiate di Mons"" Cesare Monte :
" S. M%" says Olivarez, " in sentire la grave indispositioiie del
duca Vincenzo ordino che si dispacciasse corriero in Francia al
medesimo Nivers promettendogli la j^rotettione sua accio egli po-
tesse pacificamente ottenere il possesso di Mantova e del Men-


conditions would have been imposed on him, and
guarantees demanded, but there was no thought of
depriving him of his rights.

The mode in which this natural course of things
was arrested, is very remarkable.

The Italians did not give the Spaniards credit for
so much justice as would have been evinced by this
line of conduct. They had never believed all the
former assurances of Spain, that she would respect
Gonzaga's rights and make no resistance to his
succession*. The Spanish governors in Italy had
brought upon themselves the suspicion of grasping
at boundless power, even by unjust and unlawful
means ; nor were people now to be persuaded that
they would not try to raise some member of the
house of Gonzaga more devoted to their interests,
to the dukedom of Mantua.

We will, however, admit that the wish of the
Italians to see a prince naturally allied to France,
and independent of Spain, on the throne of Mantua,
had a great deal to do with this opinion. They
would not believe that Spain would relinquish a
thing which would have been welcome to them-

ferrato : ma appena consegnati gli ordini, si era con altro cor-
riere venuto d'ltalia intesa la morte di A^incenzo, il matrimonio
di Retel senza participatione del re," etc.

* " Ne si deve dar credenza," says Mulla, the Venetian am-
bassador at Mantua in 1615, " a (^uello che si e lasciato intender
piü volte il marchese di Inoiosa, gia governator di Milano, che
Spagnoli non porterebbono, quando venisse il caso, mai altri alio
stato di Mantoa che il duca di Nivers :" — why not however?
We have only the fact ; the governor affirms it, the Italians do
not believe it ; nevertheless, there is no doubt about the matter.

2 N 2


selves, precisely in proportion as it was injurious
to Spanish interests. They persuaded the rightful
heir to think as they did, and he accordingly deemed
it hest to enter upon possession in whatever way he

The political was now like the animal body. The
internal disease only waited for some occasion —
for some wounded part — to break out.

Even before the decease of Vincenzo, the young
Gonzaga Nevers, due de Rethel arrived in the pro-
foundest secrecy in Mantua, where a Mantuan
minister, named Striggio, attached to the anti-
Spanish party, had prepared everything for his
reception. The old duke made no difficulty of ac-
knowledging the rights of liis cousin. There was
still existing a female descendant of the direct and
native line, — grand-daughter of Philip IL of Spain
by his youngest daughter, who had married into
the house of Savoy, — and it appeared most im-
portant that the young duke should marry her*.
Accidental circumstances retarded their union, and
it was not till after the death of Vincenzo that the
young princess was fetched by night from the con-
vent in which she had been educated, and conduct-
ed to the palace, where the marriage was imme-
diately solemnized. Not till then was the death of
the prince made public, and Rethel was saluted as
duke of Mantua, and received the homage of his
subjects. An envoy from Milan was kept at a

* Nani, Storia Veneta, i, 7, p. 350, and Siii, Memorie re-
condite, vi. 309, both state this fact; the latter takes it from a
letter of Öabrau to the French court.


distance till all was completed, and then, — not
without a sort of mockery, — made acquainted with
the whole transaction.

The news of the marriage and accession of the
young duke reached Vienna and Madrid simulta-
neously with that of Vincenzo's death.

It must be acknowledged that it was well calcu-
lated to irritate and incense such puissant princes,
who delighted to assume a character of sacred ma-
jesty. Their near kinswoman had been married
without their consent, or even knowledge,' — nay,
with a kind of force ; and possession taken of a
. considerable fief without the smallest deference for
the feudal lords !

The measures taken by the two courts were how-
ever different.

Olivarez, proud as a Spaniard, prouder as mi-
nister of so mighty a king, and filled with the
most arrogant sense of his own importance, was
little disposed to make any advances to the duke ;
he determined, if he could do no more, at least,
to use his own expression, to mortify him*. His
demeanour was indeed openly hostile ; nor could
the important city of Montferrat, regarded as the
outwork of Milan, be entrusted to him after such

* Nicoletti, ^^ita di papa Urbano, from a despatch of the nun-
cio Pamfilio : " Dichiaravasi il conte duca che per lo meno voleva
mortificare il duca di Nivers per lo poco rispetto portato al re nella
conclusione del matrimonio senza parteciparlo : ma a qual seo-no
potesse giungere la mortificatione, non poteva il nuntio fame
congettura, e tanto piu che le ragioni che avevano mosso il papa
a concedere la dispensa, erano acerbaraente irapugnate dal mede-
simo conte duca."


evidence of his dispositions. The duke of Guas-
talla laid claim to Mantua ; the duke of Savoy to
Montferrat, and the Spaniards now entered into
an alliance with both these princes : both parties
took up arms ; the duke of Savoy inarched upon
Montferrat from the one side, don Gonzalez de
Corduba, governor of Milan, from the other. The
French had already retreated to Casale, which don
Gonzalez now hastened to besiege. He was con-
fident of speedily reducing it, — the more so as he
reckoned on co-operation within.

The emperor acted with less precipitation. He
was persuaded, he said, that God would defend him,
since he trod the paths of justice. He disapproved
the proceedings of the Spaniards, and caused his
disapprobation to be formally notified to don Gon»
zalez. On the other hand, he was determined to
exercise his functions as supreme judge without the
smallest reserve. He uttered sentence of seques-
tration against Mantua, till he should have decided
to which of the several pretenders the succession
belonged. As the new duke of Mantua, who had
now arrived in person, would not submit, the se-
verest mandates were issued against him*. But

* The views of the imperial court may be gathered from the
report of Pallotta, 10th of June, 1628, an extract of which is
given by Nicoletti : " II nunzio ogni di piü accorgevasi, che era
malissima I'impressione contro il duca di Nivers, che havesse
disprezzato il re di Spagna e molto piii I'imperatore conchiu-
dendo matrimonio senza sua jiarticipazione col possesso dello
stato senza investitura, anzi senza indulto imperiale, che fosse
nemico della casa d' Austria, che avesse intelligenza e disegno
co' Francesi di dare loro mano nell' invasione dello stato di Mi-



whatever might be the difference in the origin and
spirit of these measures, they conspired to produce
the same effect. Nevers was not less formidably
menaced by the legal claims of the German line of
the house of Austria, than by the open hostilities of
the Spanish ; in thinking to elude the danger, he
had drawn it down upon his head.

At first his prospects were very bad. Some of
the cities of Italy, it is true, regarded his cause as
their own, and left no means untried to keep him
steady to his determination of resistance ; but they
had not strength to give him any effectual succour.

Richelieu had also promised that he would not
suffer him to fall if he would only hold out till
France could come to his aid. But the question
was, when that would be.

The situation of Mantua was rendered much
more critical by the siege of La Rochelle, before
the fall of which Richelieu could not move a step.
He did not dare again to engage in hostilities with
Spain, so long as they might give rise to another
dangerous insurrection of the huguenots.

But his previous experience also compelled him
to attend to other considerations. On no account

lano; e che non di meno S. M*^ Ces^ havesse grandissima incli-
natione alia pace, e con questo fine havesse fatto il decreto del
sequestro per levare I'armi dalle mani di Spagnuoli e di Savojardi
stanti le ragioni che pretendevano Guastalla, Savoja, Lorena e
Spagna negli stati di Mantova e Monferrato : che dapoi il duca
havesse di nuovo ofFeso I'imperatore col disprezzo de' commissarj
non dando loro la mano dritta e non gli ammettendo in Mantova
e sopra tutto col appellazione e protesta che I'imperatore fosse
caduto dalla ragione e euperioritä, di detti feudi."

552 URBAN VIII. [book VII.

dared he quarrel with the rigid cathoh'c party in
his own country. He dared not venture to break
with the pope, nor even to adopt a hue of pohcy
displeasing to him.

Here too the inchnations of the pope were once
more of the last importance. His position, and the
nature of his office, required him to use every effort
for the maintenance of the peace of the catholic
world ; as an Italian prince he had an incontestable
influence on his neighbours, while the measures,
even of France, must, as w^e have seen, be deter-
mined by those he might think fit to pursue. Every
thing depended upon whether he w^ould avert the
outbreak of a quarrel, or would himself become a
party to it.

In the former political involvements. Urban VIII.
had found his line of policy already marked out, —
his course prescribed. On this occasion his own
character and sentiments first came to view more
completely, and at the same time with more autho-
ritative influence on the affairs of the world.


Among the foreigners w^ho acquired considerable
wealth by the commerce of Ancona, during the
prosperity it enjoyed in the IGth century, the Flo-
rentine house of Barberini distinguished itself by
capacity for and success in business. A scion of

CH. IV. § 11.] URBAN VIII. 553

this house, MafFeo, born in the year 1568, at Flo-
rence, was taken, after the early death of his father,
to Rome, where an uncle of his had raised himself

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