Leopold von Ranke.

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

. (page 37 of 39)
Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 37 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


to a certain station in the curia. MafFeo also en-
tered upon the same career ; in which he was not
only supported by the opulence of his family, but
distinguished by his own rare talents. At every
step of his rise, his fellow-labourers recognised his
superiority ; but he was chiefly led to entertain
loftier views by his success in conciliating the
full confidence and regard of the court of France,
during a nuntiatura which he held in that country.
After the death of Gregory XV., the French party
immediately fixed their eyes on MafFeo as his suc-
cessor.

The character of this conclave differed from the
former ones in consequence of the shortness of the
late pope's reign. Although he had nominated a
considerable number of cardinals, yet the creatures
of his predecessor were not less numerous ; and the
two nephews, of the last pope and of his predecessor,
stood opposed with nearly equal forces. It appears
that Mafteo Barberini gave each of them to under-
stand that he was the enemy of the other ; and it
is asserted that he was in consequence supported
by each, out of hatred to the other. But he doubt-
less acquired still greater influence by appearing as
the constant assertor of the jurisdictional claims of
the Roman curia, and thus gaining the good-will
of the majority of the cardinals. In short, by the
aid at once of his own merit and of the support of
others, MafFeo Barberini triumphed over all ob-



554 URBAN VIII. [book VII.

Stades, and at the early age of fifty-five rose to the
dignity of the papacy.

The court very soon perceived a wide difference
between him and his predecessor. Clement VIII.
was generally found busied in the study of St. Ber-
nard, Paul V. in that of Justinian of Venice; but
the table of Urban VIII. was covered with the newest
poems, or with plans of fortifications.

It may generally be observed, that the period in
a man's life in which his character takes a decided
bent, is that of the first bloom of manhood ; it is
then that he begins to take an independent share
in literature or public aftairs. The youth of Paul
v., born in 1552 ; that of Gregory XV., born in
1554, belonged to an epoch in which the principles
of the catholic restoration strode onwards with
full and uninterrupted career ; and by these prin-
ciples their minds were completely subjugated and
fashioned. The first active years of the life of
Urban VIII., born in 1568, fell, on the contrary, in
the times of the opposition of the papal govern-
ment to Spain, and the re-estabUshment of Catholi-
cism as the dominant religion of France. "We find
that his inclinations now followed the bent thus im-
pressed upon them.

Urban VIII. regarded himself mainly in the light
of a temporal prince.

His favourite notion was, that the States of the
Church must be secured by fortifications, and be-
come formidable by their own arms. When the
marble monuments of his predecessors were pointed
out to him, he said he would erect one for himself



/



CH.IV. §11.] URBAN VIII. 555

of iron. On the Bolognese frontier he built Castel-
Franco, also called Fort Urbano ; although its mili-
tary aim was so little clear and obvious, that the
Bolognese suspected it was built rather to overawe
than to protect them. In Rome (in the year 1625)
he fortified Castel St. Angelo with new breast-
works, and immediately stored it with munitions
of war and provisions, as if the enemy had been
at the gates ; he constructed the high walls which
inclose the papal gardens on Monte Cavallo, with-
out heeding the destruction of the magnificent
remains of antiquity in the Colonna gardens. A
manufactory of arms was established at Tivoli* ;
the vaults under the Vatican library were used
as an arsenal ; soldiers swarmed in the streets,
and the centre of the supreme spiritual power of
Christendom, the peaceful inclosures of the Eternal

* A Contarini, Rel"^ cU 1635 : " Quanto alle armi, i papi n'
erano per I'addietro totalmente sproveduti, perche confidavano
piu neir obligarsi i principi con le gratie che nelle difese tem-
porali. Hora si e mutato registro, et il papa presente in parti-
colare vi sta applicatissimo. A Tivoli egli ha condotto un tal
Ripa Bresciano, suddito di V. Ser*^ il quale poi di tempo in
tempo e andato sviando molti operai della terra di Gardon,
Quivi costui fa lavorare gran quantita d'arme, prima facendo
condurre il ferro grezzo dal Bresciano et hora lavorandone qualche
portione ancora di certe miniere ritrovate nell' Umbria : di che
tutto diedi avviso con mie lettere a suo tempo, che m'imagino
passassero senza riflessione. Di queste armi ha il papa sotto la
libreria del Vaticano accomodate un'arsenale, dove con buon
ordine stanno riposti moschetti, picche, carabine e pistole per
armare trentamila fanti e cinquemila cavalli oltre buon numero
che dalla medesima fucina di Tivoli si e mandato a Ferrara
e Castelfranco in queste ultime occorrenze." See App. No.
115.



556 URBAN VIII. [book VII.

City, resounded "vvith the din of arms. It was,
he said, indispensable too to a well-ordered state
to have a free port, and accordingly Civita Vecchia
was, at great cost, adapted to that end. But the
results were more answerable to the situation of
things than to the views of the pope. The Barbary
corsairs sold at Civita Vecchia the plunder they
had taken from christian merchants and travellers.
Such was the result of the exertions of the sove-
reign pastor of Christendom.

In all these things pope Urban acted with un-
limited and autocratic power ; at least in the first
years of his reign, he even surpassed his predecessors
in the absoluteness of his sway.

If it was proposed to him to take counsel of the
college, he replied, that he understood more than
all the cardinals put together. Consistories were
but rarely held, and even then, few had courage to
express their opinions freely. The congregations
assembled in the accustomed manner, but no im-
portant question was laid before them, and their
decisions were little heeded*. Nor did Urban
form any regular consulta for the administration
of the civil government such as had been established
by his predecessors. His nephew, Francesco Bar-
berino, was perfectly right in refusing, during the
first ten years of the pontificate, to take the respon-
sibility of any measure that had been adopted, let its
,nature be what it might.

The foreign ambassadors were distressed at the

* " Le congregationi servono," says Aluise Contaiini, " per
coprire talvolta qualche errore."



y



CIL IV. ^ II.] URBAN VIII. .557

impossibility of transacting business with the pope.
At the audiences he talked more than anybody*,
lectured, and continued with one the conversation
he had begun with another. All present must
listen to him, admire him, and address him with
an air of the greatest reverence, even when he
refused their requests. Other popes often gave
unfavourable answers to petitions, but from some
principle, either religious or political ; in Urban
this was evidently the result of humour and ca-
price.

People never knew whether to expect a yes or a
no from him. The shrewd and acute Venetians
found out that he loved contradiction, and that he
had an almost involuntary proneness towards the
opposite of what was proposed to him ; when there-
fore they had a point to carry, they resorted to the
expedient of starting objections to it themselves.
The pope, in seeking about for arguments to con-
fute them, fell of himself upon propositions which
no persuasions in the world would ever have in-
duced him to listen to.

* Pietro Coaitarini, Rel"^ di 1627. " Abbonda con grande fa-
Cöndia nelli discorsi, e copioso nelli suoi ragionamenti, di cose
varie argomenta, e tratta nelli negotj con tutte le ragioni che in-
tende e sa, a segno che le audienze si rendono altrettanto e piu
lunghe di quelle de' precessori suoi : e nelle congregationi dove
interviene segue pur il medesimo con grande disavantaggio di
chi tratta seco, mentre togliendo egli la maggior parte del tempo
poco ne lascia agli altri ; et ho udito io dire ad un card'*^ che
andava non per ricever I'audienza ma per darla al papa, poichö
era certo che la S'^ S. piu avrebbe voluto discorrere che ascol-
tarlo ; e molte volte e accaduto che alcuni entrati per esporre
le propria loro istanze, postosi egli nei discorsi, se ne sono usciti



558 URBAN VIII. [book VII.

This is a sort of temper which we sometimes
find in subordinate stations, and was not unfrequent
at that time among Spaniards and Italians. Such
men regard a pubUc post as a tribute due to their
personal merits ; and consequently, in the admi-
nistration of their office, they attend far more to
their personal feelings and impulses, than to the
exigencies of the case. Their conduct is not much
unlike that of an author, who, filled with the con-
sciousness of his talent, does not confine himself
to the subject before him, but gives free course to
the sports of his fancy.

Urban belonged in fact to this class of authors.
The poems of his which are extant give evidence
of wit and talent ; but how strangely are sacred
subjects handled in them ! The songs and apoph-
thegms of both the Old and the New Testament are
forced into Horatian metres ; the song of praise of
the aged Simeon into two Sapphic strophes! No
trace, of course, remains of the peculiar character-
istics of the text; the matter is compelled to assume
a form utterly discordant with it, merely in com-
pliance with the whim of the author.

But these talents, the brilliancy with which they
invested the person of the pope, nay, even the
athletic health he enjoyed, all tended to increase
that self-complacency, and to raise those personal
pretensions with which his lofty station was of itself
sufficient to inspire him*.

senza poter de' loro interessi dirle cosa alcuna." See App.

No. 111.

* This had been remarked from the beginning. Relatione



/



CH. IV. § II.] URBAN VIII. 559

It appears to me that no pope ever raised such
arrogant claims to personal respect. An objection
drawn from the old papal constitutions was once
made to some argument of his; he replied, " that
the judgement of a living pope was worth more
than the maxims of a hundred dead ones."

He abrogated the resolution of the Roman people
never again to erect a statue to a living pope, by
saying, " that such a resolution could not apply to
such a pope as he was."

The conduct of one of his nuncios in a difficult
affair being once commended to him, he replied,
" that the nuncio had acted upon his instruc-
tions."

Such a man was Urban ; so filled with the idea
of being a mighty prince ; so attached to France,
both in consequence of his former occupations and
of the support he had received from that country ;
so self-willed, energetic, and full of his own im-
portance ; such was the man upon whom at this
moment the conduct of the highest spiritual power
of catholic Christendom had devolved.

His decisions, and the attitude which he might
assume in the centre of the catholic powers, were
of infinite consequence to the progress or the inter-
ruption of the universal restoration which now oc-
cupied mankind.

de' quattro ambasciatori, 1G24: " Ama le proprie opinioni e si
lascia usingare dal suo genio, a che conseguita una salda tena-

cita dei proprj pensieri : e sempre intento a quelle cose che

possono rhigrandire il concetto della sua persona." fSee App.
No. 104.



500 URBAN VIII. [book VII.

Frequently, Jiowever, people had thought they
remarked in the pontiff an antipathy to Spanish
Austria*.

No later than the year 16145, cardinal Borgia
complained of his harshness and severity ; he said
" that the king of Spain could not obtain the
smallest concession ; everything was refused him."

Cardinal Borgia maintained that pope Urban
VIII. did not willingly terminate the affair of the
Valtelline ; that the king had offered to abandon
the contested passes, and that the pope never chose
to take any notice of the offer.

Nor indeed is it to be denied that Urban was in
part the cause of the failure of the project of an
alliance between the houses of Austria and Eng-
land. When executing the dispensation which
had been prepared by his predecessor, he added to
the existing conditions, the stipulation that there
should be in every county of England public
churches erected for catholic worship ; a demand
which the majority of an excited protestant popu-
lation rendered it absolutely impossible to comply
with, and which the pope himself subsequently
abandoned on occasion of the French marriage. In
truth, he seemed to see with repugnance the aug-
mentation of power which Spain would have ac-

* Marquemoat (Lettres in Aubery, Memoires de Richelieu,
i. p. 65) notices this from tlie very beginning. It will not be
very difficult, he says, to manage the pope ; his inclinations are
on the side of the king and France ; from prudence, however, he
will try to satisfy the other sovereigns. The pope became imme-
diately aware of the aversion of the Spaniards.



CH. IV. § II.] URBAN VIII. 5G1

quired by the connexion with England. The nun-
cio, at that time resident at Brussels, carried on se-
cret negotiations with a view to a marriage of the
electoral prince palatine, not with an Austrian but
with a Bavarian princess*.

Nor had the pope a less material share in the
complicated affairs of the Mantuan succession.
The secret marriage of the young princess with
Rethel, on which every thing turned, could not
have been effected without a papal dispensation.
This pope Urban granted, without having so much
as asked her nearest relations, the emperor or the
^the king ; and granted it, too, exactly at the critical
moment.

These circumstances were quite sufficient to
show the sentiments of the pope. Like the other
Italian powers, his first wish was to see a prince
independent of Spain on the throne of Mantua.

Nor did he wait for any attack from Richelieu.
As his application to the imperial court produced
no effect ; as, on the contrary, the proceedings of
that court were more and more hostile, and the
siege of Casale continued, the pope now turned to
France.

He sent the most earnest entreaties that the
king would bring an army into the field, even be-
fore La Rochelle should be taken ; he urged that an
enterprise in the cause of Mantua was not less
pleasing in the sight of God, than the siege of that

* The emissary of the nuncio was a capuchin, Francesco della
Rota. Russdorf, Negociations, i. 205, dwells with great minute-
ness upon his transactions.

VOL. II. 2 o



562 URBAN VIII. [book VII.

grand citadel of the huguenots ; if the king would
only appear in Lyons, and declare himself for the
freedom of Italy, he, the pope, also would imme-
diately bring an army into the field, and would
unite his forces with those of the l<ing*."

Richelieu had therefore at present nothing to
fear from this side, if he should see fit to resume
that opposition to Spain which had proved abor-
tive three years before. But he determined to pro-
ceed with perfect security ; he was not in the same
haste as the pope, nor would he be in any degree
diverted from the siege, success in which at that
moment enchained his ambition.

But he appeared only the more resolute as soon
as La Rochelle had fallen. " Monsignore," said
he to the papal nuncio, whom he instantly sent
for, ' ' now we will not lose another moment ; the
king will enter upon Italian aflairs with all his
mightf."

That enmity to Spain and Austria which had so
often agitated Europe, thus burst forth with greater
force than ever. The jealousy of Italy once more
stimulated the ambition of France. The state of
things appeared so urgent, that Louis XIII. would
not wait the return of spring ; in the middle of
January 1629, he quitted Paris, and took the road
towards the Alps. In vain did the duke of Savoy,
who, as we have said, adhered to the side of Spain,
offer resistance ; his passes, which he caused to be

* Extracts from the despatches of Bethunc, of the '23rd Sept.
and the 8th Oct. 1628, in Siri, Memoric, vi. p. 478.
t Dispaccio Bagni, 2 Nov. 1628.



CH. IV. § II.] URBAN VIII. 563

barricaded, were stormed at the first assault, and
Susa taken ; no later than March he was forced to
make terms, and the Spaniards found themselves
compelled to raise the siege of Casale*.

The two leading powers of catholic Christendom
were thus once more arrayed in arms against each
other, and Richelieu resumed his most daring
schemes against the joint power of Spain and
Austria.

But if we institute a comparison between the
times, we shall find that he now stood upon a far
more solid and tenable ground, than at the period
of his projects with regard to the Grisons and the
Palatinate. Then, the huguenots might have seized
the moment to renew intestine wars. Now, they
were not indeed completely subjugated, but since
they had lost La Rochelle, they could no longer in-
spire alarm or solicitude ; they sustained an uninter-
rupted series of losses and defeats, nor were they
strong enough even to make a diversion. It was
perhaps still more important, that Richelieu now
had the pope on his side. In his former enterprise
he endangered even his position in France, by run-
ning counter to the policy of Rome ; whereas the
present was instigated by Rome itself, for the in-
terests of the Roman temporal sovereignty. Riche-
lieu deemed it generally expedient to attach him-
self as closely as possible to the papacy ; thus,
in the contest between Roman and Galilean doc-



* Recueil de diverses relations des guerres d'ltalie, 1629-31.
Bourg en Bresse, 1632.

2o2



564 THE POWER OF FERDINAND II. [bOOK VII.

trines, he adhered to the Roman, and renounced
the Galilean.

The momentous consequences of the hostility of
Urban VIII. to the house of Austria now became
evident.

With the development of religious opinions and
the progress of the catholic restoration, were im-
plicated political changes, the principle of which
became more and more powerful and active, and
now opposed a formidable resistance to the eccle-
siastical princii^le.

The pope entered the lists against that very
power which had evinced the greatest zeal in the
re-establishment of Catholicism.

The question was, what attitude this power (and
the emperor Ferdinand more especially, in whose
hands the work of that re- establishment chiefly
rested) would assume in presence of so potent and
so menacing an opposition ?



§ 3. THE POWER OF FERDINAND II. IN THE
YEAR 1629.

The emperor appeared as if nothing had hap-
pened.

It is true, that under the existing circumstances
he could promise himself no favour from the pope.
He experienced resistance to his will in the most
trifling things ; for instance, in an afiair relating to



CH. IV. § III.] IN 1629. 565

the abbey of St. Maximian ; nay, even in the most
pious proposals — among which Avas his earnest de-
sire to have St. Stephen and St. Wenceslaus received
into the Roman calendar, on account of the great ve-
neration paid to the one in Hungary and to the other
in Bohemia. All his requests were refused. But not-
withstanding these discouragements, he issued the
edict of restitution on the sixth of March, 1629. It
may be regarded as the final sentence in a great suit
which had been going on for more than a century.
The protestants were condemned without appeal,
y and judgement given absolutely in favour of the
catholics. " Nothing remains for us," says the em-
peror, " but to give our support and assistance to
the injured party, and to command our commission-
ers to reclaim from their present unauthorized pos-
sessors, all archbishoprics, bishoprics, prelatures,
monasteries, and other ecclesiastical property, con-
fiscated since the treaty of Passau." The commis-
sions instantly made their appearance, and a spe-
cial one for each circle of the empire entered upon
its functions, which were executed in the most
resolute and arbitrary manner.

One would have thought that the pope would at
all events be appeased by these manifestations of
zeal for the church, and would be moved to some
favour and kindness. Pope Urban received them
as the simple fulfilment of a duty. The emperor
begged for the privilege of nominating at least
the first occupants of the ecclesiastical offices re-
covered by means of the edict of restitution ; but
the pope refused him even this, alleging that he



566 THE POWER OF FERDINAND II. [bOOK VII.

could not violate the concordats, which were ob-
served even in France*. There is a sort of bitter
irony in this refusal, for the French concordat se-
cured to the king the very right solicited in vain
by the emperor. The emperor wished to have
power to transform the restored monasteries into
Jesuits' colleges : the pope answered that the mona-
steries must be accounted for directly to the bishops.

Meanwhile the emperor, who looked upon him-
self as the great champion of the catholic church,
pursued his own course, regardless of the displea-
sure of the pope.

He brought into the field three armies at once.

The first came in aid of the Poles against the
Swedes, and succeeded in restoring, to some extent,
the fortunes of the former. But this was not the
only object ; this campaign was designed at the
same time to restore Prussia to the empire and the
Teutonic order, from which it had been wrested*.

Another army marched upon the Netherlands,
to co-operate with the Spaniards in the reduction
of those provinces. The troops poured themselves
across the plain of Utrecht towards Amsterdam, and

* Lettera di segreteria di stato al nuntio Pallotta li 28 Aprile,
1629. The pope destined his nuncio at Cologne, Pier Luigi
CarafFa, for Lower Saxony, " con titolo per la restitutione de'
beni ecclesiastici, e delibero di dargli anche le facolta a parte se
fosse stato bisogno di usarle nelle controvcrsie fra ecclesiastici ed
ecclesiastici."

f Memoires et negotiations de Rusdorf, ii. 724 : " Comiti
Negromontano (Schwarzenberg) \'ienn8e nuper claris verbis a
consiliariis et ministris Cscsaris dictum fuit, imperatorem scihcct
sibi ct imperio subjecturum quidquid milite suo in Borussia oc-
cuparit et ceperit."



CH. IV. §111.] IN 1629. 567

it was only the accident of a surprise they encoun-
tered at Wesel, which prevented great results from
this combination.

Meanwhile a third army assembled at Memmin-
gen and Lindau, destined to proceed into Italy and
to decide the Mantuan question by the sword.
The Swiss could not be prevailed on to allow the
troops a passage ; it was therefore forced : at the
same moment Luciensteig, Chur and all the Ori-
son passes to the lake of Como were occupied, and
the army, to the number of 35,000 men, descended
the vallies of the Adda and the Oglio.

The duke of Mantua was once more summoned
to submit. He replied that he was under the pro-
tection of the king of France, and that any de-
mands or conditions must be addressed to that
monarch. While the Germans moved upon Man-
tua and the Spaniards upon Montferrat, the French
likewise appeared a second time in the field. This
time, too, they obtained some successes ; they took
Saluzzo and Pinerolo, but they accomplished no-
thing decisive of the matter at issue ; nor were
they even able to bend the duke of Savoy again to
their will.

The Spaniards laid siege to Casale ; the Ger-
mans, after a short truce, to Mantua*, and had a
decided superiority.

It was no wonder if this state of things sug-
gested recollections of the ancient supremacy of
the emperor, or that these were currently expressed

* The 11th book of the Istoria di Pietro Giov. Capriata in-
vestigates the particular importance of each of these events.



508 THE POWER OF FERDINAND II. [bOOK VII.

in Vienna. " We will show the Italians," said they,
" that there is still an emperor, and that he will
call them to account."

Venice had more especially drawn upon herself
the hatred of the house of Austria. It was judged
at Vienna, that when once Mantua had surrendered,
the terra-firma of Venice could no longer resist. In
a few months it must fall into the hands of Austria,
who would then demand the restitution of the im-
perial fiefs. The Spanish ambassador went still
further. He compared the Spanish-Austrian power
with that of Rome, and the Venetian with that of
Carthage. " Aut Roma," exclaimed he, " aut Car-
thago delenda est."

Here, too, the temporal rights of the empire, as
against the papacy, were called to mind.

Ferdinand II. desired to be crowned, and re-
quested that the pope would meet him for that



Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 37 of 39)