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occasioned serious disputes between him and Joanna, which
terminated in his being obliged to quit the territories of
Naples, and flee to France. Soon after his arrival in that
country he renounced the pursuit of secular concerns, and
assumed the habit of the Franciscan order. In this con-
juncture, Louis III. of Anjou revived the claims of his house
upon the throne of Naples, and marched into Italy, at the
head of a considerable army, with the intention of prosecut-
ing his rights by the sword.*f" Seeing the necessity of oppos-

* Of this great personage Poggio has recorded an ancedote, which at once com-
memorates her reputation for gallantry, and her ready wit. " The Florentines,"
says he, " once sent a certain doctor of laws of the name of Francesco as their
" embassador to the court of Naples. Francesco being apprised of the amorous
" disposition of the reigning queen Joanna, requested on his second interview
" with her majesty, that she would grant him a private audience, as he was in-
" structed by his republic to communicate certain matters to her majesty alone.
" The queen accordingly withdrew with him into an inner apartment, where
" after a short preliminary conversation, he abruptly made to her a declaration
" of love ; on which Joanna looked upon him with a pleasant smile, and said,
" Was this alsrt in your instructions 9"

Poggii Opera, 448.

f- Whilst Louis II., on whose claim that of Louis III. was founded, was on
his march from Provence to the Neapolitan frontier, he was visited in his camp
by Rodolfo of Camerino, to whom he made an ostentatious display of a valuable
assortment of jewels, which he destined as ornaments of the regal state, which
he flattered himself he should shortly attain. Rodolfo, unmoved by the brilliant
spectacle, asked him what was the value and use of this collection. Louis
answered, that it was very valuable, but of no utility. " I can show you at my


ing against this invader an adversary of distinguished
abilities, Joanna adopted as her son, Alfonso, king of
Arragon, a prince of great courage and military skill, by
whose active exertions, Louis of Anjou was soon driven
from the Neapolitan territories. The adopted son of Joanna
being unfortunately influenced by the views of her late
husband, and wishing to rule by his own sole authority, that
princess was justly disgusted by his ingratitude, and in the
year 1423, she annulled the act of his adoption, substituting
in his place his rival, the duke of Anjou. This circum-
stance gave rise to an obstinate war between the two parties,
in the commencement of which Martin entered into an
alliance with Louis, and by bestowing on him the investi-
ture of the kingdom of Naples, supported his claims, in
opposition to those of Alfonso. Prompted by the spirit
of revenge, the Arragonese monarch exerted all his influence
to raise a party against Martin in the council of Siena. The

" house," replied Rodolfo, " a pair of stones which cost only ten florins, and
u annually produce me a revenue of two hundred." The duke was astonished
at this assertion ; but Rodolfo soon solved the riddle, by shewing him a mill
which he had lately erected, intimating at the same time, that a wise man will
always prefer utility to finery.

Poffffii Opera, p. 440.

Rodolfo was indeed a man of very phlegmatic humour, as appears by the
advice which he gave to one of his fellow-citizens, who informed him of his
intention of travelling with a view of seeing the curiosities of different countries.
" Go," said he, " to the neighbouring town of Macerata, and there you will see
" hills, valleys, and plains, wood and water, lands cultivated and uncultivated.
" This is the world in miniature ; for travel as far as you please, and you will
" see nothing else."

Popgii Opera, p. 441.

146 CHAP. iv.

pontiff, alarmed by the intrigues of Alfonso, hastily dis-
solved that assembly early in the year 1424, summoning
another to meet at the end of seven years, in the city of

But the dissolution of the council did not shelter Martin
from the consequences of Alfonso's indignation. Braccio
di Montone, taking advantage of the embarrassments of the
pontiff, again invaded the states of the church ; and after
making himself master of several towns in the ecclesiastical
district, laid siege to Aquila. Alarmed by the loss of these
places, and apprehensive, that should Braccio make him-
self master of Aquila, he would in fact keep Rome itself
in a state of blockade, the pontiff applied for succour to
Joanna of Naples, and by the assistance of that princess
raised a considerable body of forces, which he sent to stop
the career of the invader. In this expedition the army of
the church was signally successful. Braccio quitting a most
advantageous position, advanced to give battle to the pon-
tifical troops in the open field, on the second day of June,
1424. The encounter of his cavalry was fierce and impe-
tuous ; but in consequence of his rashness, his army was
defeated, and Braccio himself, being mortally wounded,
was carried prisoner into Aquila, where he died in the
course of a few hours after his arrival. His body was
conveyed to Rome, and buried without the walls in uncon-
secrated ground. By the death of Braccio, the pontiff

" Platina, p. 399.Tiraboschi sloria della Letteratura Ital. torn. vi. p. 8.

CHAP. IV. 147

recovered Perugia, Assisi, and the other cities, which the
successful rebellion of that chieftain had compelled him to
yield to his dominion. The states of the church were now
restored to tranquillity. The roads were cleared of the
banditti by which they had been so long infested the
traveller journeyed without molestation or fear the laws
were respected, and peace and order succeeded to anarchy
and rapine.* The quiet of the church was -also further
secured by the death of Benedict XIII., who in the begin-
ning of this year closed his earthly career at Paniscola, at
the advanced age of ninety.-f- In the summer of this year,
the Pontiff having retired to Tivoli to avoid the plague,
which was raging in Rome, Poggio went to Rieti, where
he remained two months, entirely occupied with literary
pursuits. This appears from a letter addressed by him to
Niccolo Niccoli after his return to Rome, in which he
laments the loss of a brother on whom he had depended
as the support of his family, and especially of his mother,
who was then labouring under the evils of old age and

About this time Martin had an opportunity of grati-
fying the animosity which he entertained against the Floren-
tines, by secretly fomenting certain disputes which had
taken place between the administrators of their republic and

* Muratori Annali, lorn. ix. p. 114, 119, 120, 121.

t Ibid, p. 118.

J Popgii Epitt. a Toncl. lib. i. ep. 17.

148 CHAP. IV.

the duke of Milan. Encouraged by the connivance of the
pontiff, that prince declared war against the Tuscan state,
the territories of which he menaced with a considerable
army. In the course of this contest, which was singularly
obstinate and bloody, the pontiff had the satisfaction of
retaining in his own hands the balance of power ; and of
beholding the supercilious Tuscans, humbled by disasters
and defeats, sueing to him for assistance, and entreating his
mediation for the restoration of peace. Martin, though he
professed the strictest impartiality between the hostile
parties, not only refused to assist the Florentines, but still
continued secretly to stimulate the ambition of their adver-
sary. Being thus disappointed in their application to the
pontiff, the Florentines had recourse to the Venetians,
whose dread of the growing power of the duke of Milan
induced them readily to enter into an alliance with his
antagonists. Animated by this accession of strength, the
Florentines prosecuted the war with renewed vigour, and
with such success, that the duke was glad to accept of the
mediation opportunely proffered by his friend the pontiff,
under whose auspices a peace was concluded at Ferrara in
the year 1428.*

* Poggii Hist. Florent. p. 253. In his Facetiae, Poggio relates the fol-
lowing instance, which occurred during the course of this contest, of the free-
dom of speech in which Filippo Maria permitted one of his domestics to indulge

" The old duke of Milan, a prince in all respects of singular good taste,
" had an excellent cook, whom he had sent to France to learn the art of dressing
' nice dishes. In the great war which he carried on against the Florentines, he
" one day received some bad news, which gave him a good deal of uneasiness.

CHAP. IV. 149

When the pontiff had declared his readiness to inter-
pose his good offices between the contending powers, for
the restoration of peace, the Florentines sent Leonardo
Aretino to the Roman court, invested with the dignity of
embassador of the Tuscan republic.* In the nomination
of their representative, they gratified the wishes of Martin V.
who had long entertained a great respect for Leonardo,
and had in vain attempted, by the offer of considerable
preferment, to induce him to enter into his service.^ So
highly did Leonardo's constituents approve of his conduct
in his diplomatic capacity, that immediately after his return
to Florence, in the latter end of the year ] 427, they
appointed him to fill the honourable and lucrative office of
Secretary or Vice-chancellor of the Florentine state. If
credit may be given to his own assertion in a letter to
Feltrino Boiardo, he accepted this dignity with reluctance,
and lamented the imperious necessity, which compelled him,
from a sense of duty, to relinquish the pleasures of literary

" Soon after the arrival of this intelligence he sat down to dinner. The dishes
" not at all pleasing him, he sent for his cook, and reproved him severely for
" his unskilfulness. The cook, who was accustomed to take great liberties with
" his master, replied, I can assure your highness that the dishes are excellently
" dressed And if the Florentines have taken away your appetite, how am I to
" blame ?"

Poggii Opera, p. 425.

This anecdote proves that Filippo inherited from his father a fondness of
good living, and also intimates, that even at this early period, our Gallic neigh-
bours were noted for their skill in cookery.

* Mehi Vita Leonard! Arelini. p. xliv.
+ Ibid.

150 CHAP. IV.

retirement, for the cares incident to a public station.* His
reluctance is, however, otherwise accounted for in an epistle
which Poggio wrote to him on this occasion, and from
which it appears, that when the office in question was first
offered to his acceptance, it was proposed that the marks of
dignity usually attached to it should be withdrawn ; but
that on his refusal to accept it on those conditions, the
administrators of the government agreed to confer upon
him the full honours which had been received by preceding
Vice-chancellors, to which terms he acceded. When Pog-
gio was informed that his friend was established in his new
office, he congratulated him by letter on this accession to
his civic honours, which, however, he observed, was, like
matrimony, likely to be attended with considerable diffi-
culty, trouble, and uneasiness.-f-

The satisfaction which Martin V. experienced in wit-
nessing the peaceful and happy condition of that portion of
Christendom, the civil interests of which were intrusted to
his immediate care, was not a little lessened by the contu-
macy and rebellion of the Bohemian reformers. These
high-spirited men had been fired with indignation, when
they were informed of the sad catastrophe of their beloved
apostles, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague. The cen-

* Mehi Vita Leonardi Aretini, p. xliv.

f " Volui satisfacere amori in tc meo, et tecum rongratulari, quemadmo-
" dum solemus ci, qui uxorem duxit, cum onus subeat grave, difficile et mo-
" lestum."

Poffyii Epistoltc Ivii. p. 167.

CHAP. IV. 151

sures of the church, which were fulminated against their
opinions, they treated with contempt. Taking advantage
of the weakness of Winceslaus, their king, they possessed
themselves of several churches in Prague and its environs,
where they caused the communion to be administered in
both kinds, and openly defied the pope, the emperor, and
the council of Constance. Upon the death of Winceslaus,
their confidence in their strength, and the ardour of their
zeal, impelled them, to risk a contest with the power of
Sigismund, his successor. Led on by the intrepid Zisca,
they encountered danger without fear ; and in the shock of
battle, their impetuosity was irresistible. For the space of
four years, the military talents of their favourite commander
discomfited the armies of the emperor, who was at length
reduced to the mortifying necessity of entering into a treaty
with a man, whom he could regard in no other light than
as an obstinate infidel, and a rebellious subject. This
treaty was interrupted by the death of Zisca, who was cut
off by the plague, on the sixth of October, 1424, at
the castle of Priscow. After the death of this formidable
antagonist, Sigismund, in hopes that the courage of the
Bohemians would expire with their chieftain, again ap-
pealed to arms. But he was disappointed in his expectation.
Great occasions produce great men. The heretics chose
as the successor to Zisca, Procopius, an officer whose
valour and skill they had frequently seen put to the proof.
Procopius maintained the contest with courage, conduct,
and success, and worsted the imperial forces in various
engagements. The intelligence of these continued dis-
asters filled the mind of the pontiff with vexation. Re-

152 CHAP. IV.

solving to aid the emperor with the temporal and spiritual
power of the church, he proclaimed a crusade against the
heretics, and sent a commission to cardinal Beaufort,
authorizing him, in quality of legate, to wield the sword
of the church, and chastise her rebellious sons. This
commission was by no means disagreeable to the turbulent
spirit of Beaufort. In pursuance of the instructions which
he received from the pontiff, he appropriated to the pur-
poses of the crusade, a tenth part of the revenues which
accrued from England to the Roman see.* With this

* It should seem that Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, who at this time
governed the kingdom of England in quality of Protector, regarded this com-
mission of the cardinal's with a jealous eye. With a view of preventing the
mischiefs which might ensue upon the exercise of foreign authority in the
English dominions, he summoned Beaufort into his presence ; and by a formal
and express act, which set forth, that the legates of the pope had never been
permitted to enter into England, except by summons, invitation, or permission
of the king, which summons, invitation, or permission, Beaufort had not
received, protested against his exercising the authority of legate in the king's
dominions in any form or manner whatever. To this protest Beaufort put
in a formal answer, that it was not his intention in any thing to derogate from,
or contravene the rights, privileges, liberties, or customs of the king or king-
dom. This protest was made November llth, 1428. It is printed in the
appendix to Browjjs Fasciculus Rerun expetendarum et Fugiendarum, p.
1J18, from an ancient register, formerly in the possession of archbishop Sancroft.

For the purpose of raising money to defray the expense of the crusade, boxes
emblazoned with the sign of the cross were fixed in the churches, in which the
friends of the true faith were exhorted to deposit their contributions. To give
additional stimulus to the zeal of the pious, the pontiff issued a bull, whereby
he granted an indulgence of one hundred days to those who should attend the
preaching of the crusade a full pardon of all their sins, and an assurance of
eternal happiness, to those who took the cross and served against the heretics at
their own expense. The same premium was offered to those, who fully intend-
ing to perform this meritorious service, should happen to die before they joined

C'HAP. IV. 153

money he raised an army of four thousand men, at the
head of which he encamped in the neighbourhood of Do-
ver, waiting for a favourable wind to pass over to Flanders.
{A. D. 1429.] Here he received letters from the duke
of Gloucester, regent of the kingdom, requesting him to
transport his troops into France, and march to the assist-
ance of the duke of Bedford, who was at that time hard
pressed by the Dauphin. In compliance with the regent's
request, Beaufort repaired with his army to Paris, whence
he soon afterwards proceeded to Bohemia. The terrors of
the crusade, thus aided by the power of the cardinal legate,
did not dismay the heretics, who rushed to the combat with
unabated fury, and routed the army of the church. The
pontiff, sensibly mortified by this disaster, and attributing
the ill success of his arms to the imprudence of Beaufort,
recalled that haughty prelate, substituting in his place
Bartolomeo da Piacenza. The new legate was not more
fortunate than his predecessor. The orthodox army still
continued to experience a series of defeats. Hoping that
a change of his representative might effect a change in the
fortune of his arms, Martin superseded Bartolomeo da

the army -, and to those who should send a soldier or soldiers to fight, at their
expense, for the propagation of the true faith. This latter provision was particu-
larly addressed to the women, who were graciously informed by the cardinal, that
those females, who, being prevented by their poverty from maintaining each a
warrior at their own expense, should enter into joint subscriptions for the pur-
pose, should be entitled to considerable privileges ; and so grateful was his
holiness even for the gift of good wishes, that he granted six days' indulgence
to those who fasted and prayed in order to promote the success of the expedition.
Appendix to Brown" a Fasciculus, p. 621, 625, 630.

154 CHAP. IV.

Piacenza, and committed the direction of the war to
Giuliano Csesarino, Cardinal of St. Angelo.*

This was one of the last acts of the pontificate of
Martin V., who died on the 20th of February, 1431.
Though this pontiff was unable to accomplish the extinction
of heresy, he had the good fortune to witness the termina-
tion of the famous schism of the West. Benedict XII.
dying at Paniscola in the year 1424, two cardinals who had
adhered to him in the midst of his misfortunes, at the
instance of Alfonso of Arragon elected as his successor the
Canonico Egidio of Barcelona, who, accepting the empty
title bestowed upon him by this diminutive conclave, assu-
med the appellation of Clement VII. But soon after this
transaction, Martin, having composed his differences with
Alfonso, sent a legate into Spain, who easily persuaded
Egidio, in consideration of the gift of the bishopric of
Majorca, to abdicate the vain honours which rendered him
ridiculous, and to renounce all claim to the pontifical dig-
nity. In order to prevent the cardinals who had placed the
tiara on the head of Egidio from again disturbing the
peace of the church by proceeding to a new election, the
Italian legate caused them to be arrested and thrown into

Thus were the latter days of Martin V. passed in

* HottinsheacTs Chronicle^ vol. ii. p. 602. Stowe's Annals, p. 371 .
Platina, p. 400.

f Muratori Annali, torn. ix. p. 136. Platina, p. 401.

I'HAP. IV. 155

a state of tranquillity, which was disturbed only by the
rumours of the distant war in Bohemia, and by a transitory
revolt of the citizens of Bologna, who, after a feeble at-
tempt to vindicate their freedom, were soon reduced to
their wonted subjection. The fear of the plague, indeed,
which at this period occasionally manifested itself at Rome,
compelled the Pontiff to fly for safety to the neighbouring
villages. When on these hasty removals his master
required his attendance, Poggio devoted himself to a
careful examination of the remains of antiquity, which
were to be found in the places where the Papal court from
time to time fixed its temporary residence. But whenever
he was enabled to return to Rome, he took advantage of
this period of domestic quiet to prosecute his studies-*
He was now deeply engaged in the composition and correc-
tion of various works, and among the rest, of his dialogue
on Avarice, which he submitted to the inspection of Niccolo
Niccoli and others of his literary friends, in the year 1429.
In the prefatory address to Francesco Barbaro, which is
prefixed to this dialogue, he intimates, that he had not yet
made a sufficient progress in the Greek language to be able
to present to the public what was at that time held in the
highest estimation a version of any of the Graecian clas-
sics ; but at the same time expresses his hopes, that this his
first essay may be deemed not altogether destitute of merit.
It should seem, however, that when he had given the last
polish to his work, he was induced for a while to suppress it.
Martin V. was impeached of the vice of avarice ; and his

* Ton. Tr. vol. i. p. 155.

156 CHAP. IV.

secretary, whilst he did ample justice to the kind feelings
of his master, was doubtful how far it would be prudent,
by the publication of his dialogue, to run the risk of the
imputation of making his sole failing the object of satirical
comment.* Besides this, Niccolo Niccoli, in perusing the
work in question, without reserve declared his opinion that
it was by no means worthy of the known talents of the
author. + Encouraged however by the flattering encomiums
of Francesco Barbaro, and others of his literary friends,
to whom he had communicated his manuscript, and em-
boldened by the consciousness which he felt, that when com-
pared with the productions of the times, his dialogue was
possessed of considerable merit, he yielded to the sugges-
tions of scholastic ambition ; and immediately after the
death of Martin V. by its publication proclaimed himself a
candidate for the laurel of literary fame.J

In the introduction to the dialogue on Avarice, Pog-
gio intimates that Antonio Lusco, Cincio, and others of
the pope's secretaries, paying a visit to Bartolomeo di
Montepulciano, the conversation after supper turned upon
the character of Bernardino, a famous preacher who was

* Poggii Epistolce Ivii. p. 1J3.

j- Tonelli Poggii Epist. torn. \. lib. iii. ep. xxxv.

Poggii Epist. Ivii. p. 178. Ambrogii Traversarii Opera, lorn. ii. p. 97ft.

This Bernardino had for some time preached with uncommon applause to
crowded audiences in the churches of Florence. The talents of a popular orator
generally procure their possessor as many enemies as friends. Several eccle-
siastics, who were envious of the reputation of Bernardino, took advantage of
a daring flight of rhetoric, into which he was betrayed by the enthusiasm of his


at that time exercising his talents at Rome. After a very
favourable testimony to this preacher's merits on the part
of Lusco, Cincio observes, " In one respect both Bernar-
" dino and other preachers of the same description seem to
" me to fall into an error. They do not preach with a
" view of doing good, but for the purpose of displaying
" their eloquence. They are not so anxious to cure the
" mental diseases which they profess to heal, as to obtain
" the favour and applause of the mob. They learn a few
" phrases by heart, and utter them indiscriminately before
" audiences of every description. Treating of recondite
" and obscure matters, they soar beyond the comprehension
" of the vulgar, and tickle the ears of women and fools,
" whom they dismiss as ignorant as they found them.
" Some vices they reprove in such a manner that they seem
" rather to teach, than to correct them, and in their thirst
" for gain, they forget the promotion of the cause of
" religion."

zeal, to endeavour to accomplish his ruin. In order to enforce his eloquence, in
describing some impressive scene, (probably the sufferings of Christ) he ex-
hibited to the people a picture, in which the transaction to which he alluded was
delineated. Of this exhibition his detractors complained to the pope, as a kind
of profanation cf the rites of the church ; and Bernardino was obliged to repair
to Rome to vindicate his cause. Though the pontifical court was inflamed with
prejudice against him by the artifices of his accusers, so captivating was his
eloquence, that when he was permitted to preach in Rome, the ecclesiastics of
the highest eminence; as well as the populace, being attracted by his fame to
hear his discourses, listened to him with enthusiastic admiration. Martin V.

Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdThe life of Poggio Bracciolini → online text (page 11 of 31)