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Renaissance in Italy, Volume 1 (of 7)
by John Addington Symonds
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Hitherto we have been considering how the state acquired by a conqueror should be incorporated with his previous dominions. The next section of Machiavelli's discourse is by far the most interesting. It treats of principalities created by the arms, personal qualities, and good fortune of adventurers. Italy alone in the sixteenth century furnished examples of these tyrannies: consequently that portion of the Principe which is concerned with them has a special interest for students of the Renaissance. Machiavelli begins with the founders of kingdoms who have owed but little to fortune and have depended on their own forces. The list he furnishes, when tested by modern notions of history, is to say the least a curious one. It contains Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, and Theseus. Having mentioned Moses first, Machiavelli proceeds to explain that, though we have to regard him as the mere instrument of God's purpose, yet the principles on which the other founders acted were 'not different from those which Moses derived from so supreme a teacher.' What these men severally owed to fortune was but the occasion for the display of the greatness that was in them. Moses found the people of Israel enslaved in Egypt. Romulus was an exile from Alba. Cyrus had to deal with the Persian people tired of the empire of effeminate Medes. Theseus undertook to unite the scattered elements of the Athenian nation. Thus each of these founders had an opening provided for him, by making use of which he was able to bring his illustrious qualities into play. The achievement in each case was afterwards due solely to his own ability, and the conquest which he made with difficulty was preserved with ease. This exordium is not without practical importance, as will be seen when we reach the application of the whole argument to the house of Medici at the conclusion of the treatise. The initial obstacles which an innovator has to overcome, meanwhile, are enormous. 'He has for passionate foes all such as flourish under the old order, for friends those who might flourish under the new; but these are lukewarm, partly from fear of their opponents, on whose side are established law and right, partly from the incredulity which prevents men from putting faith in what is novel and untried.' It therefore becomes a matter of necessity that the innovator should be backed up with force, that he should be in a position to command and not obliged to sue for aid. This is the reason why all the prophets who have used arms to enforce their revelations have succeeded, and why those who have only trusted to their personal ascendency have failed. Moses, of course, is an illustrious example of the successful prophet. Savonarola is adduced as a notable instance of a reformer 'who was ruined in his work of innovation as soon as the multitude lost their faith in him, since he had no means of keeping those who had believed firm, or of compelling faith from disbelievers.' In this critique Machiavelli remains true to his positive and scientific philosophy of human nature. He will not allow that there are other permanent agencies in the world than the calculating ability of resolute men and the might derived from physical forces.

Among the eminent examples of Italian founders who rose to princely power by their own ability or by availing themselves of the advantages which fortune put within their reach, Machiavelli selects Francesco Sforza and Cesare Borgia. The former is a notable instance of success achieved by pure virtu: 'Francesco, by using the right means, and by his own singular ability, raised himself from the rank of a private man to the Duchy of Milan, and maintained with ease the mastery he had acquired with infinite pains.' Cesare, on the other hand, illustrates both the strength and the weakness of fortuna: 'he acquired his dominion by the aid derived from his father's position, and when he lost that he also lost his power, notwithstanding that he used every endeavor and did all that a prudent and able man ought to do in order to plant himself firmly in those states which the arms and fortune of others had placed at his disposal.' It is not necessary to dwell upon the career of Francesco Sforza. Not he but Cesare Borgia is Machiavelli's hero in this treatise, the example from which he deduces lessons both of imitation and avoidance for the benefit of Lorenzo de' Medici. Lorenzo, it must be remembered, like Cesare, would have the fortunes of the Church to start with in that career of ambition to which Machiavelli incites him. Unlike Francesco Sforza, he was no mere soldier of adventure, but a prince, born in the purple, and bound to make use of those undefined advantages which he derived from his position in Florence and from the countenance of his uncle, the Pope. The Duke Valentino, therefore, who is at one and the same time Machiavelli's ideal of prudence and courage in the conduct of affairs, and also his chief instance of the instability of fortune, supplies the philosopher with all he needed for the guidance of his princely pupil. With the Duke Valentino Machiavelli had conversed on terms of private intimacy, and there is no doubt that his imagination had been dazzled by the brilliant intellectual abilities of this consummate rogue. Dispatched in 1502 by the Florentine Republic to watch the operations of Cesare at Imola, with secret instructions to offer the Duke false promises in the hope of eliciting information that could be relied upon, Machiavelli had enjoyed the rare pleasure of a game at political ecarte with the subtlest and most unscrupulous diplomatist of his age. He had witnessed his terrible yet beneficial administration of Romagna. He had been present at his murder of the chiefs of the Orsini faction at Sinigaglia. Cesare had confided to him, or had pretended to confide, his schemes of personal ambition, as well as the motives and the measures of his secret policy. On the day of the election of Pope Julius II. he had laid bare the whole of his past history before the Florentine secretary, and had pointed out the single weakness of which he felt himself to have been guilty. In these trials of skill and this exchange of confidence it is impossible to say which of the two gamesters may have been the more deceived. But Machiavelli felt that the Borgia supplied him with a perfect specimen for the study of the arts of statecraft; and so deep was the impression produced upon his mind, that even after the utter failure of Cesare's designs he made him the hero of the political romance before us. His artistic perception of the perfect and the beautiful, both in unscrupulous conduct and in frigid calculation of conflicting interests, was satisfied by the steady selfishness, the persistent perfidy, the profound mistrust of men, the self-command in the execution of perilous designs, the moderate and deliberate employment of cruelty for definite ends, which he observed in the young Duke, and which he has idealized in his own Principe. That nature, as of a salamander adapted to its element of fire, as of 'a resolute angel that delights in flame,' to which nothing was sacred, which nothing could daunt, which never for a moment sacrificed reason to passion, which was incapable of weakness or fatigue, had fascinated Machiavelli's fancy. The moral qualities of the man, the base foundations upon which he raised his power, the unutterable scandals of his private life, and the hatred of all Christendom were as nothing in the balance. Such considerations had, according to the conditions of his subject, to be eliminated before he weighed the intellectual qualities of the adventurer. 'If all the achievements of the Duke are considered'—it is Machiavelli speaking—'it will be found that he built up a great substructure for his future power; nor do I know what precepts I could furnish to a prince in his commencement better than such as are to be derived from his example.' It is thus that Machiavelli, the citizen, addresses Lorenzo, the tyrant of Florence. He says to him: Go thou and do likewise. And what, then, is this likewise?

Cesare, being a Pope's son, had nothing to look to but the influence of his father. At first he designed to use this influence in the Church; but after murdering his elder brother, he threw aside the Cardinal's scarlet and proclaimed himself a political aspirant. His father could not make him lord of any state, unless it were a portion of the territory of the Church: and though, by creating, as he did, twelve Cardinals in one day, he got the Sacred College to sanction his investiture of the Duchy of Romagna, yet both Venice and Milan were opposed to this scheme. Again there was a difficulty to be encountered in the great baronial houses of Orsini and Colonna, who at that time headed all the mercenary troops of Italy, and who, as Roman nobles, had a natural hatred for the Pope. It was necessary to use their aid in the acquisition of Cesare's principality. It was no less needful to humor their animosity. Under these circumstances Alexander thought it best to invite the French king into Italy, bargaining with Louis that he would dissolve his marriage in return for protection awarded to Cesare. The Colonna faction meanwhile was to be crushed, and the Orsini to be flattered. Cesare, by the help of his French allies and the Orsini captains, took possession of Imola and Faenza, and thence proceeded to overrun Romagna. In this enterprise he succeeded to the full. Romagna had been, from the earliest period of Italian history, a nest of petty tyrants who governed badly and who kept no peace in their dominions. Therefore the towns were but languid in their opposition to Cesare, and were soon more than contented with a conqueror who introduced a good system for the administration of justice. But now two difficulties arose. The subjugation of Romagna had been effected by the help of the French and the Orsini. Cesare as yet had formed no militia of his own, and his allies were becoming suspicious. The Orsini had shown some slackness at Faenza; and when Cesare proceeded to make himself master of Urbino, and to place a foot in Tuscany by the capture of Piombino—which conquests he completed during 1500 and 1501—Louis began to be jealous of him. The problem for the Duke was how to disembarrass himself of the two forces by which he had acquired a solid basis for his future principality. His first move was to buy over the Cardinal d'Amboise, whose influence in the French Court was supreme and thus to keep his credit for awhile afloat with Louis. His second was to neutralize the power of the Orsini, partly by pitting them against the Colonnesi, and partly by superseding them in their command as captains. For the latter purpose he became his own Condottiere, drawing to his standard by the lure of splendid pay all the minor gentry of the Roman Campagna. Thus he collected his own forces and was able to dispense with the unsafe aid of mercenary troops. At this point of his career the Orsini, finding him established in Romagna, in Urbino, and in part of Tuscany, while their own strength was on the decline, determined if possible to check the career of this formidable tyrant by assassination. The conspiracy known as the 'Diet of La Magione' was the consequence. In this conjuration the Cardinal Orsini, Paolo Orsini, his brother and head of the great house, together with Vitellozzo Vitelli, lord of Citta di Castello, the Baglione of Perugia, the Bentivoglio of Bologna, Antonio da Venasso from Siena, and Oliverotto da Fermo took each a part. The result of their machinations against the common foe was that Cesare for a moment lost Urbino, and was nearly unseated in Romagna. But the French helped him, and he stood firm. Still it was impossible to believe that Louis XII. would suffer him to advance unchecked in his career of conquest; and as long as he continued between the French and the Orsini his position was of necessity insecure. The former had to be cast off; the latter to be extirpated; and yet he had not force enough to play an open game. 'He therefore,' says Machiavelli, 'turned to craft, and displayed such skill in dissimulation that the Orsini through the mediation of Paolo became his friends again.' The cruelty of Cesare Borgia was only equalled by his craft; and it was by a supreme exercise of his power of fascination that he lured the foes who had plotted against him at La Magione into his snare at Sinigaglia. Paolo Orsini, Francesco Orsini, duke of Gravina, Vitellozzo Vitelli, and Oliverotto da Fermo were all men of arms, accustomed to intrigue and to bloodshed, and more than one of them were stained with crimes of the most atrocious treachery. Yet such were the arts of Cesare Borgia that in 1502 he managed to assemble them, apart from their troops, in the castle of Sinigaglia, where he had them strangled. Having now destroyed the chiefs of the opposition and enlisted their forces in his own service, Cesare, to use the phrase of Machiavelli, 'had laid good foundations for his future power.' He commanded a sufficient territory; he wielded the temporal and spiritual power of his father; he was feared by the princes and respected by the people throughout Italy; his cruelty and perfidy and subtlety and boldness caused him to be universally admired. But as yet he had only laid foundations. The empire of Italy was still to win; for he aspired to nothing else, and it is even probable that he entertained a notion of secularizing the Papacy. France was the chief obstacle to his ambition. The alarm of Louis had at last been roused. But Louis' own mistake in bringing the Spaniards into Naples afforded Cesare the means of shaking off the French control. He espoused the cause of Spain, and by intriguing now with the one power and now with the other made himself both formidable and desirable to each. His geographical position between Milan and Naples enforced this policy. Another difficulty against which he had to provide was in the future rather than the present. Should his father die, and a new Pope adverse to his interests be elected, he might lose not only the support of the Holy See, but also his fiefs of Romagna and Urbino. To meet this contingency he took four precautions, mentioned with great admiration by Machiavelli. In the first place he systematically murdered the heirs of the ruling families of all the cities he acquired—as for example three Varani at Camerino, two Manfredi at Faenza, the Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigaglia, and others whom it would be tedious to mention. By this process he left no scion of the ancient houses for a future Pope to restore. In the second place he attached to his person by pensions, offices, and emoluments, all the Roman gentry, so that he might be able to keep the new Pope a prisoner and unarmed in Rome. Thirdly, he reduced the College of Cardinals, by bribery, terrorism, poisoning, and packed elections, to such a state that he could count on the creation of a Pope, if not his nominee, at least not hostile to his interests. Fourthly, he lost no time, but pushed his plans of conquest on with utmost speed, so as, if possible, to command a large territory at the time of Alexander's death. Machiavelli, who records these four points with approbation, adds: 'He therefore, who finds it needful in his new authority to secure himself against foes, to acquire allies, to gain a point by force or fraud, etc., etc., could not discover an ensample more vigorous and blooming than that of Cesare.' Such is the panegyric which Machiavelli, writing, as it seems to me, in all good faith and innocence, records of a man who, taken altogether, is perhaps the most selfish, perfidious, and murderous of adventurers on record. The only fault for which he blames him is that he did not prevent the election of Pope Julius II, by concentrating his influence on either the Cardinal d'Amboise or a Spaniard.

It is curious to read the title of the chapter following that which criticises the action of Cesare Borgia: it runs thus, 'Concerning those who have attained to sovereignty by crimes.' Cesare was clearly not one of these men in the eyes of Machiavelli, who confines his attention to Agathocles of Syracuse, and to Oliverotto da Fermo, a brigand who acquired the lordship of Fermo by murdering his uncle and benefactor, Giovanni Fogliani, and all the chief men of the city at a banquet to which he had invited them. This atrocity, according to Machiavelli's creed, would have been justified, if Oliverotto had combined cruelty and subtlety in proper proportions. But his savagery was not sufficiently veiled; a prince should never incur odium by crimes of violence, but only use them as the means of inspiring terror. Besides, Oliverotto was so simple as to fall at last into the snare of Cesare Borgia at Sinigaglia. Cesare himself supplies Machiavelli with a notable example of the way in which cruelty can be well used. Having found the cities of Romagna in great disorder, Cesare determined to quell them by the ferocity of a terrible governor. For this purpose he chose Messer Ramiro d' Orco, 'a man cruel and quick of action, to whom he gave the fullest power.' A story is told of Messer Ramiro which illustrates his temper in a very bizarre fashion: he one day kicked a clumsy page on to the fire, and held him there with a poker till he was burned up. Acting after this fashion, with plenipotentiary authority, Ramiro soon froze the whole province into comparative tranquillity. But it did not suit Cesare to incur the odium which the man's cruelty brought on his administration. Accordingly he had him decapitated one night and exposed to public view, together with the block and bloody hatchet, in the square at Cesena. Of the art with which Cesare first reduced Romagna to order by the cruelty of his agent, and then avoided the odium of this cruelty by using the wretched creature as an appalling example of his justice and his power, Machiavelli wholly approves. His theory is that cruelty should be employed for certain definite purposes, but that the Prince should endeavor to shun as far as possible the hatred it inspires. In justice both to Machiavelli and to Cesare, it should be said that the administration of Romagna was far better under the Borgia rule than it had ever been before. The exhibition of savage violence of which Machiavelli approves was perhaps needed to cow so brutalized a population.

In those chapters which Machiavelli has devoted to the exposition of the qualities that befit a Prince, it is clear that Cesare Borgia was not unfrequentlv before his eyes.[1] The worst thing that can be said about Italy of the sixteenth century is that such an analyst as Machiavelli should have been able to idealize an adventurer whose egotistic immorality was so undisguised. The ethics of this profound anatomist of human motives were based upon a conviction that men are altogether bad. When discussing the question whether it be better to be loved or feared, Machiavelli decides that 'it is far safer to be feared than loved, if you must choose; seeing that you may say of men generally that they are ungrateful and changeable, dissemblers, apt to shun danger, eager for gain; as long as you serve them, they offer you everything, down to their very children, if you have no need; but when you want help, they fail you. Therefore it is best to put no faith in their pretended love.' This is language which could only be used in a country where loyalty was unknown and where all political and social combinations were founded upon force or convenience. Princes must, however, be cautious not to injure their subjects in their honor or their property—especially the latter, since men 'forget the murder of their fathers quicker than the loss of their money.' Under another heading Machiavelli returns to the same topic, and lays it down as an axiom that, since the large majority of men are bad, a prince must learn in self-defense how to be bad, and must use this science when and where he deems appropriate, endeavoring, however, under all circumstances to pass for good.

[1] In a letter to Fr. Vettori (Jan. 31, 1514) he says: 'Il duca Valentino, l' opere del quale io imiterei sempre quando fossi principe nuove.

He brings the same desperate philosophy of life, the same bitter experience of mankind, to bear upon his discussion of the faith of princes. The chapter which is entitled 'How princes ought to keep their word' is one of the most brilliantly composed and thoroughly Machiavellian of the whole treatise. He starts with the assertion that to fight the battles of life in accordance with law is human, to depend on force is brutal; yet when the former method is insufficient, the latter must be adopted. A prince should know how to combine the natures of the man and of the beast; and this is the meaning of the mythus of Cheiron, who was made the tutor of Achilles. He should strive to acquire the qualities of the fox and of the lion, in order that he may both avoid snares and guard himself from wolves. A prudent prince cannot and must not keep faith, when it is harmful to do so, or when the occasion under which he promised has passed by. He will always find colorable pretexts for breaking his word; and if he learns well how to feign, he will have but little difficulty in deceiving people. Among the innumerable instances of successful hypocrites Machiavelli can think of none more excellent than Alexander VI. 'He never did anything else but deceive men, nor ever thought of anything but this, and always found apt matter for his practice. Never was there a man who had greater force in swearing and tying himself down to his engagements, or who observed them less. Nevertheless his wiles were always successful in the way he wished, because he well knew that side of the world.' It is curious that Machiavelli should have forgotten that the whole elaborate life's policy of Alexander and his son was ruined precisely by their falling into one of their own traps, and that the mistake or treason of a servant upset the calculations of the two most masterly deceivers of their age.[1] Following out the same line of thought, which implies that in a bad world a prince cannot afford to be good, Machiavelli asserts: 'It is not necessary that a prince should be merciful, loyal, humane, religious, just: nay, I will venture to say, that if he had all these qualities and always used them, they would harm him. But he must seem to have them, especially if he be new in his principality, where he will find it quite impossible to exercise these virtues, since in order to maintain his power he will be often obliged to act contrary to humanity, charity, religion.' Machiavelli does not advise him to become bad for the sake of badness, but to know when to quit the path of virtue for the preservation of his kingdom. 'He must take care to say nothing that is not full of these five qualities, and must always appear all mercy, all loyalty, all humanity, all justice, all religion, especially the last.' On the advantage of a reputation for piety Machiavelli insists most strongly. He points out how Ferdinand the Catholic used the pretext of religious zeal in order to achieve the conquest of Granada, to invade Africa, to expel the Moors, and how his perfidies in Italy, his perjuries to France, were colored with a sanctimonious decency.

[1] Perhaps this is an indirect argument against the legend of their death.

After reading these passages we feel that though it may be true that Machiavelli only spoke with scientific candor of the vices which were common to all statesmen in his age—though the Italians were so corrupt that it seemed hopeless to deal fairly with them—yet there was a radical taint in the soul of the man who could have the heart to cull these poisonous herbs of policy and distill their juices to a quintessence for the use of the prince to whom he was confiding the destinies of Italy.[1] Almost involuntarily we remember the oath which Arthur administered to his knights, when he bade them 'never to do outrage nor murder, and always to flee treason; also by no means to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asked mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore.' In a land where chivalry like this had ever taken root, either as an ideal or as an institution, the chapters of Machiavelli could scarcely have been published. The Italians lacked the virtues of knighthood. It was possible among them for the philosophers to teach the princes that success purchased at the expense of honor, loyalty, humanity, and truth might be illustrious.

It is refreshing to turn from those chapters in which Machiavelli teaches the Prince how to cope with the world by using the vices of the wicked, to his exposition of the military organization suited to the maintenance of a great kingdom. Machiavelli has no mean or humble ambition for his Prince: 'double will his glory be, who has founded a new realm, and fortified and adorned it with good laws, good arms, good friends, and good ensamples.' What the enterprise to which he fain would rouse Lorenzo really is, will appear in the conclusion. Meanwhile he encourages him by the example of Ferdinand the Catholic to gird his loins up for great enterprises. He bids him be circumspect in his choice of secretaries, seeing that 'the first opinion formed of a prince and of his capacity is derived from the men whom he has gathered round him.' He points out how he should shun flattery and seek respectful but sincere advice. Finally he reminds him that a prince is impotent unless he can command obedience by his arms. Fortresses are a doubtful source of strength; against foreign foes they are worse than useless; against subjects they are worthless in comparison with the goodwill of the people: 'the best fortress possible is to escape the hatred of your subjects.' Everything therefore depends upon the well-ordering of a national militia. The neglect of that ruined the princes of Italy and enabled Charles VIII. to conquer the fairest of European kingdoms with wooden spurs and a piece of chalk.[2]

[1] In the Discorsi, lib. i. cap. 55, he calls Italy 'la coruttela del mondo,' and judges that her case is desperate; 'non si puo sperare nelle provincie che in questi tempi si veggono corrotte, come e l' Italia sopra tutte le altre.'

[2] The references in this paragraph are made to chapters xx.-xxiv. and chapter xii. of the Principe.

In his discourse on armies Machiavelli lays it down that the troops with which a prince defends his state are either his own, or mercenaries, or auxiliaries, or mixed. 'Mercenary and auxiliary forces are both useless and perilous, and he who founds the security of his dominion on the former will never be established firmly: seeing that they are disunited, ambitious, and undisciplined, without loyalty, truculent to their friends, cowardly among foes; they have no fear of God, no faith with men; you are only safe with them before they are attacked; in peace they plunder you; in war you are the prey of your enemies. The cause of this is that they have no other love nor other reason to keep the field, beyond a little pay, which is far from sufficient to make them wish to die for you. They are willing enough to be your soldiers so long as you are at peace, but when war comes their impulse is to fly or sneak away. It ought to be easy to establish the truth of this assertion, since the ruin of Italy is due to nothing else except this, that we have now for many years depended upon mercenary arms.'[1] Here he touches the real weakness of the Italian states. Then he proceeds to explain further the rottenness of the Condottiere system. Captains of adventure are either men of ability or not. If they are, you have to fear lest their ambition prompt them to turn their arms against yourself or your allies. This happened to Queen Joan of Naples, who was deserted by Sforza Attendolo in her sorest need; to the Milanese, when Francesco Sforza made himself their despot; to the Venetians, who were driven to decapitate Carmagnuola because they feared him. The only reason why the Florentines were not enslaved by Sir John Hawkwood was that, though an able general, he achieved no great successes in the field. In the same way they escaped by luck from Sforza, who turned his attention to Milan, and from Braccio, who formed designs against the Church and Naples. If Paolo Vitelli had been victorious against Pisa (1498), he would have held them at discretion. In each of these cases it was only the good fortune of the republic which saved it from a military despotism. If, on the other hand, the mercenary captains are men of no capacity, you are defeated in the field.

[1] See chapter xii. of the Principe.

Proceeding to the historical development of this bad system, Machiavelli points out how after the decline of the Imperial authority in Italy, the Papacy and the republics got the upper hand. Priests and merchants were alike unwilling to engage in war. Therefore they took mercenary troops into their pay. The companies of the Sforzeschi and Bracceschi were formed; and 'after these came all those others who have ruled this sort of warfare down to our own days. The consequence of their valor is that Italy has been harried by Charles, plundered by Louis, forced by Ferdinand, insulted by the Swiss. Their method has been to enhance the reputation of their cavalry by depressing the infantry. Being without dominion of their own, and making war their commerce, a few foot soldiers brought them no repute, while they were unable to support many. Therefore they confined themselves to cavalry, until in a force of 20,000 men you could not number 2,000 infantry. Besides this they employed all their ingenuity to relieve themselves and their soldiers of fatigue and peril, by refraining from slaughter and from taking prisoners without ransom. Night attacks and sorties were abandoned; stockades and trenches in the camp were given up; no one thought of a winter campaign. All these things were allowed, or rather introduced, in order to avoid, as I have said, fatigue and peril. Whereby they have reduced Italy to slavery and insult.' Auxiliaries, such as the French troops borrowed by Cesare Borgia, and the Spaniards engaged by Julius II., are even worse. 'He who wants to be unable to win the game should make use of these forces; for they are far more dangerous than mercenaries, seeing that in them the cause of ruin is ready made—they are united together, and inclined to obey their own masters. Machiavelli enforces this moral by one of those rare but energetic figures which add virile dignity to his discourse. He compares auxiliary troops to the armor of Saul, which David refused, preferring to fight Goliath with his stone and sling. 'In one word, arms borrowed from another either fall from your back, or weigh you down, or impede your action.' It remains for a prince to form his own troops and to take the field in person, like Cesare Borgia, when he discarded his French allies and the mercenary aid of the Orsini captains. Republics should follow the same course, dispatching, as the Romans did, their own citizens to the war, and controlling by law the personal ambition of victorious generals. It was thus that the Venetians prospered in their conquests, before they acquired their provinces in Italy and adopted the Condottiere system from their neighbors. 'A prince, therefore, should have but one object, one thought, one art—the art of war.' Those who have followed this rule have attained to sovereignty, like Francesco Sforza, who became Duke of Milan; those who have neglected it have lost even hereditary kingdoms, like the last Sforzas, who sank from dukedom into private life. Even amid the pleasures of the chase a prince should always be studying the geographical conformation of his country with a view to its defense, and should acquire a minute knowledge of such strategical laws as are everywhere applicable. He should read history with the same object, and should keep before his eyes the example of those great men of the past from whom he can learn lessons for his guidance in the present.

This brings us to the peroration of the Principe, which contains the practical issue toward which the whole treatise has been tending, the patriotic thought that reflects a kind of luster even on the darkest pages that have gone before. Like Thetis, Machiavelli has dipped his Achilles in the Styx of infernal counsels; like Cheiron, he has shown him how the human and the bestial natures should be combined in one who has to break the teeth of wolves and keep his feet from snares; like Hephaistos, he has forged for him invulnerable armor. The object toward which this preparation has been leading is the liberation of Italy from the barbarians. The slavery of Israel in Egypt, the oppression of the Persians by the Medes, the dispersion of the Athenians into villages, were the occasions which enabled Moses and Cyrus and Theseus to display their greatness. The new Prince, who would fain win honor in Italy and confer upon his country untold benefits, finds her at the present moment 'more enslaved than the Hebrews, more downtrodden than the Persians, more disunited than the Athenians, without a chief, without order, beaten, despoiled, mangled, overrun, subject to every sort of desolation.' Fortune could not have offered him a nobler opportunity. 'See how she prays God to send her some one who should save her from these barbarous cruelties ind insults! See her all ready and alert to follow any standard, if only there be a man to raise it!' Then Machiavelli addresses himself to the chief of the Medici in person. 'Nor is there at the present moment any place more full of hope for her than your illustrious House, which by its valor and its fortune, favored by God and by the Church, whereof it is now the head, might take the lead in this delivery.' This is followed by one of the rare passages of courtly rhetoric which, when Machiavelli condescends to indulge in them, add peculiar splendor to his style. Then he turns again to speak of the means which should immediately be used. He urges Lorenzo above all things to put no faith in mercenaries or auxiliaries, but to raise his own forces, and to rely on the Italian infantry. If Italian armies have always been defeated in the field during the past twenty years, it is not due so much to their defective courage as to the weakness of their commanders. Lorenzo will have to raise a force capable of coping with the Swiss, the Spanish, and the French. The respect with which Machiavelli speaks at this supreme moment of these foreign troops, proves how great was their prestige in Italy; yet he ventures to point out that there are faults peculiar to each of them: the Spanish infantry cannot stand a cavalry charge, and the Switzers are liable to be disconcerted by the rapid attack of the wiry infantry of Spain. It is therefore necessary to train troops capable of resisting cavalry, and not afraid of facing any foot soldiers in the world. 'This opportunity, therefore, must not be suffered to slip by; in order that Italy may after so long a time at last behold her saviour. Nor can I find words to describe the love with which he would be hailed in all the provinces that have suffered through these foreign deluges, the thirst for vengeance, the stubborn fidelity, the piety, the tears, that he would meet What gates would be closed against him? What people would refuse him allegiance? What jealousy would thwart him? What Italian would be found to refuse him homage? This rule of the barbarians stinks in the nostrils of us all. Then let your illustrious House assume this enterprise in the spirit and the confidence wherewith just enterprises are begun, that so, under your flag, this land of ours may be ennobled, and under your auspices be brought to pass that prophecy of Petrarch:—

'Lo, valor against rage Shall take up arms, nor shall the fight be long; For that old heritage Of courage in Italian hearts is stout and strong.

With this trumpet-cry of impassioned patriotism the Principe closes.

Hegel, in his 'Philosophy of History,' has recorded a judgment of Machiavelli's treatise in relation to the political conditions of Italy at the end of the mediaeval period, which might be quoted as the most complete apology for the author it is possible to make. 'This book,' he says, 'has often been cast aside with horror as containing maxims of the most revolting tyranny; yet it was Machiavelli's high sense of the necessity of constituting a state which caused him to lay down the principles on which alone states could be formed under the circumstances. The isolated lords and lordships had to be entirely suppressed; and though our idea of Freedom is incompatible with the means which he proposes both as the only available and also as wholly justifiable—including, as these do, the most reckless violence, all kinds of deception, murder, and the like—yet we must confess that the despots who had to be subdued were assailable in no other way, inasmuch as indomitable lawlessness and perfect depravity were thoroughly engrained in them.'

Yet after the book has been shut and the apology has been weighed, we cannot but pause and ask ourselves this question, Which was the truer patriot—Machiavelli, systematizing the political vices and corruptions of his time in a philosophical essay, and calling on the despot to whom it was dedicated to liberate Italy; or Savonarola, denouncing sin and enforcing repentance—Machiavelli, who taught as precepts of pure wisdom those very principles of public immorality which lay at the root of Italy's disunion and weakness; or Savonarola, who insisted that without a moral reformation no liberty was possible? We shall have to consider the action of Savonarola in another place. Meanwhile, it is not too much to affirm that, with diplomatists like Machiavelli, and with princes like those whom he has idealized, Italy could not be free. Hypocrisy, treachery, dissimulation, cruelty are the vices of the selfish and the enslaved. Yet Machiavelli was led by his study of the past and by his experience of the present to defend these vices, as the necessary qualities of the prince whom he would fain have chosen for the saviour of his country. It is legitimate to excuse him on the ground that the Italians of his age had not conceived a philosophy of right which should include duties as well as privileges, and which should guard the interests of the governed no less than those of the governor. It is true that the feudal conception of Monarchy, so well apprehended by him in the fourth chapter of the Principe, had nowhere been realized in Italy, and that therefore the right solution of the political problem seemed to lie in setting force against force, and fraud against fraud, for a sublime purpose. It may also be urged with justice that the historians and speculators of antiquity, esteemed beyond their value by the students of the sixteenth century, confirmed him in his application of a positive philosophy to statecraft. The success which attended the violence and dissimulation of the Romans, as described by Livy, induced him to inculcate the principles on which they acted. The scientific method followed by Aristotle in the Politics encouraged him in the adoption of a similar analysis; while the close parallel between ancient Greece and mediaeval Italy was sufficient to create a conviction that the wisdom of the old world would be precisely applicable to the conditions of the new. These, however, are exculpations of the man rather than justifications of his theory. The theory was false and vicious. And the fact remains that the man, impregnated by the bad morality of the period in which he lived, was incapable of ascending above it to the truth, was impotent with all his acumen to read the deepest lessons of past and present history, and in spite of his acknowledged patriotism succeeded only in adding his conscious and unconscious testimony to the corruption of the country that he loved. The broad common-sense, the mental soundness, the humane instinct and the sympathy with nature, which give fertility and wholeness to the political philosophy of men like Burke, are absent in Machiavelli. In spite of its vigor, his system implies an inversion of the ruling laws of health in the body politic. In spite of its logical cogency, it is inconclusive by reason of defective premises. Incomparable as an essay in pathological anatomy, it throws no light upon the working of a normal social organism, and has at no time been used with profit even by the ambitious and unscrupulous.



CHAPTER VII.

THE POPES OF THE RENAISSANCE.

The Papacy between 1447 and 1527—The Contradictions of the Renaissance Period exemplified by the Popes—Relaxation of their hold over the States of the Church and Rome during the Exile in Avignon—Nicholas V.—His Conception of a Papal Monarchy—Pius II.—The Crusade—Renaissance Pontiffs—Paul II.—Persecution of the Platonists—Sixtus IV.—Nepotism—The Families of Riario and Delia Rovere—Avarice—Love of Warfare—Pazzi Conspiracy—Inquisition in Spain—Innocent VIII.—Franceschetto Cibo—The Election of Alexander VI.—His Consolidation of the Temporal Power—Policy toward Colonna and Orsini Families—Venality of everything in Rome—Policy toward the— Sultan—The Index—The Borgia Family—Lucrezia—Murder of Duke of Gandia Cesare and his Advancement—The Death of Alexander—Julius II.—His violent Temper—Great Projects and commanding Character—Leo X.—His Inferiority to Julius—S. Peter's and the Reformation—Adrian VI.—His Hatred of Pagan Culture—Disgust of the Roman Court at his Election—Clement VII.—Sack of Rome—Enslavement of Florence.

In the fourteenth and the first half of the fifteenth centuries the authority of the Popes, both as Heads of the Church and as temporal rulers, had been impaired by exile in France and by ruinous schisms. A new era began with the election of Nicholas V. in 1447, and ended during the pontificate of Clement VII. with the sack of Rome in 1527. Through the whole of this period the Popes acted more as monarchs than as pontiffs, and the secularization of the See of Rome was earned to its utmost limits. The contrast between the sacerdotal pretensions and the personal immorality of the Popes was glaring; nor had the chiefs of the Church yet learned to regard the liberalism of the Renaissance with suspicion. About the middle of the sixteenth century the Papal States had become a recognized kingdom; while the Popes of this later epoch were endeavoring by means of the inquisition and the educational orders to check the free spirit of Italy.

The history of Italy has at all times been closely bound up with that of the Papacy; but at no period has this been more the case than during these eighty years of Papal worldliness, ambition, depotism, and profligacy, which are also marked by the irruption of the European nations into Italy and by the secession of the Teutonic races from the Latin Church. In this short space of time a succession of Popes filled the Holy Chair with such dramatic propriety—displaying a pride so regal, a cynicism so unblushing, so selfish a cupidity, and a policy so suicidal as to favor the belief that they had been placed there in the providence of God to warn the world against Babylon. At the same time the history of the Papal Court reveals with peculiar vividness the contradictions of Renaissance morality and manners. We find in the Popes of this period what has been already noticed in the despots—learning, the patronage of of the arts, the passion for magnificence, and the refinements of polite culture, alternating and not unfrequently combined with barbarous ferocity of temper and with savage and coarse tastes. On the one side we observe a Pagan dissoluteness which would have scandalized the parasites of Commodus and Nero; on the other, a seeming zeal for dogma worthy of S. Dominic. The Vicar of Christ is at one time worshiped as a god by princes seeking absolution for sins or liberation from burdensome engagements; at another he is trampled under foot, in his capacity of sovereign, by the same potentates. Undisguised sensuality; fraud cynical and unabashed; policy marching to its end by murders, treasons, interdicts, and imprisonments; the open sale of spiritual privileges; commercial traffic in ecclesiastical emoluments; hypocrisy and cruelty studied as fine arts; theft and perjury reduced to system—these are the ordinary scandals which beset the Papacy. Yet the Pope is still a holy being. His foot is kissed by thousands. His curse and blessing carry death and life. He rises from the bed of harlots to unlock or bolt the gates of heaven and purgatory. In the midst of crime he believes himself to be the representative of Christ on earth. These anomalies, glaring as they seem to us, and obvious as they might be to deeper thinkers like Machiavelli or Savonarola, did not shock the mass of men who witnessed them. The Renaissance was so dazzling by its brilliancy, so confusing by its rapid changes, that moral distinctions were obliterated in a blaze of splendor, an outburst of new life, a carnival of liberated energies. The corruption of Italy was only equaled by its culture. Its immorality was matched by its enthusiasm. It was not the decay of an old age dying, so much as the fermentation of a new age coming into life, that bred the monstrous paradoxes of the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. The contrast between mediaeval Christianity and renascent Paganism—the sharp conflict of two adverse principles, destined to fuse their forces and to recompose the modern world—made the Renaissance what it was in Italy. Nowhere is the first effervescence of these elements so well displayed as in the history of those Pontiffs who, after striving in the Middle Ages to suppress humanity beneath a cowl, are now the chief actors in the comedy of Aphrodite and Priapus raising their foreheads once more to the light of day.

The struggle carried on between the Popes of the thirteenth century and the House of Hohenstauffen ended in the elevation of the Princes of Anjou to the throne of Naples—the most pernicious of all the evils inflicted by the Papal power on Italy. Then followed the French tyranny, under which Boniface VIII. expired at Anagni. Benedict XI. was poisoned at the instigation of Philip le Bel, and the Papal see was transferred to Avignon. The Popes lost their hold upon the city of Rome and upon those territories of Romagna, the March, and S. Peter's Patrimony which had been confirmed to them by the grant of Rodolph of Hapsburg (1273). They had to govern their Italian dependencies by means of Legates, while, one by one, the cities which had recognized their sway passed beneath the yoke of independent princes. The Malatesti established themselves in Rimini, Pesaro, and Fano; the house of Montefeltro confirmed its occupation of Urbino; Camerino, Faenza, Ravenna, Forli, and Imola became the appanages of the Varani, the Manfredi, the Polentani, the Ordelaffi, and the Alidosi.[1] The traditional supremacy of the Popes was acknowledged in these tyrannies; but the nobles I have named acquired a real authority, against which Egidio Albornoz and Robert of Geneva struggled to a great extent in vain, and to break which at a future period taxed the whole energies of Sixtus and of Alexander.

[1] See Mach. Ist. Fior. lib. i.

While the influence of the Popes was thus weakened in their states beyond the Apennines, three great families, the Orsini, the Savelli, and the Colonnesi, grew to princely eminence in Rome and its immediate neighborhood. They had been severally raised to power during the second half of the thirteenth century by the nepotism of Nicholas III., Honorius IV., and Nicholas IV. This nepotism bore baneful fruits in the future; for during the exile at Avignon the houses of Colonna and Orsini became so overbearing as to threaten the freedom and safety of the Popes. It was again reserved for Sixtus and Alexander to undo the work of their predecessors and to secure the independence of the Holy See by the coercion of these towering nobles.

In the States of the Church the temporal power of the Popes, founded upon false donations, confirmed by tradition, and contested by rival despots, was an anomaly. In Rome itself their situation, though different, was no less peculiar. While the factions of Orsini and Colonna divided the Campagna and wrangled in the streets of the city, Rome continued to preserve, in form at least, the old constitution of Caporioni and Senator. The Senator, elected by the people, swore, not to obey the Pope, but to defend his person. The government was ostensibly republican. The Pope had no sovereign rights, but only the ascendency inseparable from his wealth and from his position as Primate of Christendom. At the same time the spirit of Arnold of Brescia, of Brancaleone, and of Rienzi revived from time to time in patriots like Porcari and Baroncelli, who resented the encroachments of the Church upon the privileges of the city. Rome afforded no real security to the members of the Holy College. They commanded no fortress like the Castello of Milan, and had no army at their disposition. When the people or the nobles rose against them, the best they could do was to retire to Orvieto or Viterbo, and to wait the passing of the storm.

Such was the position of the Pope, considered as one of the ruling princes of Italy, before the election of Nicholas V. His authority was wide but undefined, confirmed by prescription, but based on neither force nor legal right. Italy, however, regarded the Papacy as indispensable to her prosperity, while Rome was proud to be called the metropolis of Christendom, and ready to sacrifice the shadow of republican liberty for the material advantages which might accrue from the sovereignty of her bishop. How the Roman burghers may have felt upon this point we gather from a sentence of Leo Alberti's, referring to the administration of Nicholas: 'The city had become a city of gold through the jubilee; the dignity of the citizens was respected; all reasonable petitions were granted by the Pontiff. There were no exactions, no new taxes. Justice was fairly administered. It was the whole care of the Pontiff to adorn the city.'[1] The prosperity which the Papal court brought to Rome was the main support of the Popes as princes, at a time when many thinkers looked with Dante's jealousy upon the union of temporal and spiritual functions in the Papacy.[2] Moreover, the whole of Italy, as we have seen in the previous chapters, was undergoing a gradual and instinctive change in politics; commonwealths were being superseded by tyrannies, and the sentiments of the race at large were by no means unfavorable to this revolution. Now was the proper moment, therefore, for the Popes to convert their ill-defined authority into a settled despotism, to secure themselves in Rome as sovereigns, and to subdue the States of the Church to their temporal jurisdiction.

[1] See history of Porcari's Conspiracy (Muratori, vol. xxv.).

[2] Lorenzo Valla's famous declamation against the Donation of Constantine, which appeared during the pontificate of Nicholas, contained these reminiscences of the 'De Monarchia': 'Ut Papa tantum vicarius Christi sit et non etiam Caesaris ... tune Papa et erit et dicetur pater sanctus, pater omnium, pater ecclesae.'

The work was begun by Thomas of Sarzana, who ascended the Chair of S. Peter, as Nicholas V., in 1447. One part of his biography belongs to the history of scholarship, and need not here be touched upon. Educated at Florence, under the shadow of the house of Medici, he had imbibed those principles of deference to princely authority which were supplanting the old republican virtues throughout Italy. The schisms which had rent the Catholic Church were healed; and finding no opposition to his spiritual power, he determined to consolidate the temporalities of his See. In this purpose he was confirmed by the conspiracy of Stefano Porcari, a Roman noble who had endeavored to rouse republican enthusiasm in the city at the moment of the Pope's election, and who subsequently plotted against his liberty, if not his life. Porcari and his associates were put to death in 1453, and by this act the Pope proclaimed himself a monarch. The vast wealth which the jubilee of 1450 had poured into the Papal coffers[1] he employed in beautifying the city of Rome and in creating a stronghold for the Sovereign Pontiff. The mausoleum of Hadrian, used long before as a fortress in the Middle Ages, was now strengthened, while the bridge of S. Angelo and the Leonine city were so connected and defended by a system of walls and outworks as to give the key of Rome into the hands of the Pope. A new Vatican began to rise, and the foundations of a nobler S. Peter's Church were laid within the circuit of the Papal domain. Nicholas had, in fact, conceived the great idea of restoring the supremacy of Rome, not after the fashion of a Hildebrand, by enforcing the spiritual despotism of the Papacy, but by establishing the Popes as kings, by renewing the architectural magnificence of the Eternal City, and by rendering his court the center of European culture. In the will which he recited on his death-bed to the princes of the Church, he set forth all that he had done for the secular and ecclesiastical architecture of Rome, explaining his deep sense of the necessity of securing the Popes from internal revolution and external force, together with his desire to exalt the Church by rendering her chief seat splendid in the eyes of Christendom. This testament of Nicholas remains a memorable document. Nothing illustrates more forcibly the transition from the Middle Ages to the worldliness of the Renaissance than the conviction of the Pontiff that the destinies of Christianity depended on the state and glory of the town of Rome. What he began was carried on amid crime, anarchy, and bloodshed by successive Popes of the Renaissance, until at last the troops of Frundsberg paved the way, in 1527, for the Jesuits of Loyola, and Rome, still the Eternal City, cloaked her splendor and her scandals beneath the black pall of Spanish inquisitors. The political changes in the Papacy initiated by Nicholas had been, however, by that date fully accomplished, and for more than three centuries the Popes have since held rank among the kings of the earth.

[1] The bank of the Medici alone held 100,000 florins for the Pope. Vespasiano, Vit, Nic. V.

Of Alfonso Borgia, who reigned for three years as Calixtus III., little need be said, except that his pontificate prepared for the greatness of his nephew, Roderigo Lenzuoli, known as Borgia in compliment to his uncle. The last days of Nicholas had been imbittered by the fall of Constantinople and the imminent peril which threatened Europe from the Turks. The whole energies of Pius II. were directed towards the one end of uniting the European nations against the infidel. AEneas Sylvius Piccolomini, as an author, an orator, a diplomatist, a traveller, and a courtier, bears a name illustrious in the annals of the Renaissance. As a Pope, he claims attention for the single-hearted zeal which he displayed in the vain attempt to rouse the piety of Christendom against the foes of civilization and the faith. Rarely has a greater contrast been displayed between the man and the pontiff than in the case of Pius. The pleasure-loving, astute, free-thinking man of letters and the world has become a Holy Father, jealous for Christian proprieties, and bent on stirring Europe by an appeal to motives which had lost their force three centuries before. Frederick II. and S. Louis closed the age of the Crusades, the one by striking a bargain with the infidel, the other by snatching at a martyr's crown. AEneas Sylvius Piccolomini was the mirror of his times—a humanist and stylist, imbued with the rhetorical and pseudo-classic taste of the earlier Renaissance. Pius II. is almost an anachronism. The disappointment which the learned world experienced when they discovered that the new Pope, from whom so much had been expected, declined to play the part of their Maecenas, may be gathered from the epigrams of Filelfo upon his death[1]:—

Gaudeat orator, Musae gaudete Latinae; Sustulit e medio quod Deus ipse Pium. Ut bene consuluit doctis Deus omnibus aeque, Quos Pius in cunctos se tulit usque gravem. Nunc sperare licet. Nobis Deus optime Quintum Reddito Nicoleon Eugeniumve patrem.

and again:—

Hac sibi quam vivus construxit clauditur arca Corpore; nam Stygios mens habet atra lacus.

Pius himself was not unconscious of the discrepancy between his old and his new self. AEneam rejicite, Pium recipite, he exclaims in a celebrated passage of his Retractation, where he declares his heartfelt sorrow for the irrevocable words of light and vain romance that he had scattered in his careless youth. Yet though Pius II. proved a virtual failure by lacking the strength to lead his age either backwards to the ideal of earlier Christianity or forwards on the path of modern culture, he is the last Pope of the Renaissance period whom we can regard with real respect. Those who follow, and with whose personal characters, rather than their action as Pontiffs, we shall now be principally occupied, sacrificed the interests of Christendom to family ambition, secured their sovereignty at the price of discord in Italy, transacted with the infidel, and played the part of Antichrist upon the theater of Europe.

[1] Rosmini, Vita di Filelfo, vol. ii. p. 321.

It would be possible to write the history of these priest-kings without dwelling more than lightly on scandalous circumstances, to merge the court-chronicle of the Vatican in a recital of European politics, or to hide the true features of high Papal dignitaries beneath the masks constructed for them by ecclesiastical apologists. That cannot, however, be the line adopted by a writer treating of civilization in Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. He must paint the Popes of the Renaissance as they appeared in the midst of society, when Lorenzo de' Medici called Rome 'a sink of all the vices,' and observers so competent as Machiavelli and Guicciardini ascribed the moral depravity and political decay of Italy to their influence. It might be objected that there is now no need to portray the profligacy of that court, which, by arousing the conscience of Northern Europe to a sense of intolerable shame, proved one of the main causes of the Reformation. But without reviewing those old scandals, a true understanding of Italian morality, and a true insight into Italian social feeling as expressed in literature, are alike impossible. Nor will the historian of this epoch shrink from his task, even though the transactions he has to record seem to savor of legend rather than of simple fact. No fiction contains matter more fantastic, no myth or allegory is more adapted to express a truth in figures of the fancy, than the authentic well-attested annals of this period of seventy years, from 1464 to 1534.

Paul the Second was a Venetian named Pietro Barbi, who began life as a merchant. He had already shipped his worldly goods on board a trading vessel for a foreign trip, when news reached him that his uncle had been made Pope under the name of Eugenius IV. His call to the ministry consisted of the calculation that he could make his fortune in the Church with a Pope for uncle sooner than on the high seas by his wits. So he unloaded his bales, took to his book, became a priest, and at the age of forty-eight rose to the Papacy. Being a handsome man, he was fain to take the ecclesiastical title of Formosus; but the Cardinals dissuaded him from this parade of vanity, and he assumed the tiara as Paul in 1464. A vulgar love of show was his ruling characteristic. He spent enormous sums in the collection of jewels, and his tiara alone was valued at 200,000 golden florins. In all public ceremonies, whether ecclesiastical or secular, he was splendid, delighting equally to sun himself before the eyes of the Romans as the chief actor in an Easter benediction or a Carnival procession. The poorer Cardinals received subsidies from his purse in order that they might add luster to his pageants by their retinues. The arts found in him munificent patron. For the building of the palace of S. Marco, which marks an abrupt departure from the previous Gothic style in vogue, he brought architects of eminence to Rome, and gave employment to Mino da Fiesole, the sculptor, and to Giuliano da San Gallo, the wood-carver. The arches of Titus and Septimius Severus were restored at his expense, together with the statue of Marcus Aurelius and the horses of Monte Cavallo. But Paul showed his connoisseurship more especially in the collection of gems, medals, precious stones, and cameos, accumulating rare treasures of antiquity and costly masterpieces of Italian and Flemish gold-work in his cabinets. This patronage of contemporary art, no less than the appreciation of classical monuments, marked him as a Maecenas of the true Renaissance type.[1] But the qualities of a dilettante were not calculated to shed luster on a Pontiff who spent the substance of the Church in heaping up immensely valuable curiosities. His thirst for gold and his love of hoarding were so extreme that, when bishoprics fell vacant, he often refused to fill them up, drawing their revenues for his own use. His court was luxurious, and in private he was addicted to sensual lust.[2] This would not, however, have brought his name into bad odor in Rome, where the Holy Father was already regarded as an Italian despot with certain sacerdotal additions. It was his prosecution of the Platonists which made him unpopular in an age when men had the right to expect that, whatever happened, learning at least would be respected. The example of the Florentine and Neapolitan academies had encouraged the Romans to found a society for the discussion of philosophical questions. The Pope conceived that a political intrigue was the real object of this club. Nor was the suspicion wholly destitute of color. The conspiracy of Porcari against Nicholas, and the Catilinarian riots of Tiburzio which had troubled the pontificate of Pius, were still fresh in people's memories; nor was the position of the Pope in Rome as yet by any means secure. What increased Paul's anxiety was the fact that some scholars, appointed secretaries of the briefs (Abbreviatori) by Pius and deprived of office by himself, were members of the Platonic Society. Their animosity against him was both natural and ill-concealed. At the same time the bitter hatred avowed by Laurentius Valla against the temporal power might in an age of conjurations have meant active malice. Leo Alberti hints that Porcari had been supported by strong backers outside Rome; and one of the accusations against the Platonists was that Pomponius Laetus had addressed Platina as Holy Father. Now both Pomponius Laetus and Valla had influence in Naples, while Paul was on the verge of open rupture with King Ferdinand. He therefore had sufficient grounds for suspecting a Neapolitan intrigue, in which the humanists were playing the parts of Brutus and Cassius. Yet though we take this trouble to construct some show of reason for the panic of the Pope, the fact remains that he was really mistaken at the outset; and of the stupidity, cruelty, and injustice of his subsequent conduct there can be no doubt. He seized the chief members of the Roman Academy, imprisoned them, put them to the torture, and killed some of them upon the rack. 'You would have taken Castle S. Angelo for Phalaris' bull,' writes Platina; 'the hollow vaults did so resound with the cries of innocent young men.' No evidence of a conspiracy could be extorted. Then Paul tried the survivors for unorthodoxy. They proved the soundness of their faith to the satisfaction of the Pope's inquisitors. Nothing remained but to release them, or to shut them up in dungeons, in order that the people might not say the Holy Father had arrested them without due cause. The latter course was chosen. Platina, the historian of the Popes, was one of the abbreviatori whom Paul had cashiered, and one of the Platonists whom he had tortured. The tale of Papal persecution loses, therefore, nothing in the telling; for if the humanists of the fifteenth century were powerful in anything it was in writing innuendoes and invectives. Among other anecdotes, he relates how, while he was being dislocated on the rack, the inquisitors Vianesi and Sanga held a sprightly colloquy about a ring which the one said jestingly the other had received as a love-token from a girl. The whole situation is characteristic of Papal Rome in the Renaissance.

[1] See Les Arts a la Cour des Papes pendant le XV. et le XVI. Siecles, E. Muentz, Paris, Thorin, 2me Partie. M. Muentz has done good service to aesthetic archaeology by vindicating the fame of Paul II. as an employer of artists from the wholesale abuse heaped on him by Platina. It may here be conveniently noticed that even the fierce Sixtus IV. showed intelligence as a patron of arts and letters. He built the Sistine Chapel, and brought the greatest painters of the day to Rome—Signorelli, Perugino, Botticelli, Cosimo, Rosselli, and Ghirlandajo. Melozzo da Forli worked for him. One of that painter's few remaining masterpieces is the wall-picture, now in the Vatican, which represents Sixtus among his Cardinals and Secretaries—a magnificent piece of vivid portraiture. Sixtus again threw the Vatican library open to the public, and In his days the Confraternity of S. Luke was founded for the encouragement of design. Rome owes to him the hospital of S. Spirito, a severe building, by Baccio Pontelli, and the churches of S. Maria del Popolo and S. Maria della Pace. Innocent VIII. added the Belvedere to the Vatican after Antonio del Pollajuolo's plan, and commenced the Villa Magliana. Alexander VI. enriched the Vatican with the famous Borgia apartments, decorated by Pinturhicchio. He also began the Palace of the University, and converted the Mausoleum of Hadrian into the Castle of S. Angelo. These brief allusions must suffice. It is not the object of the present chapter to treat of the Popes as patrons; but it should not be forgotten that, having accepted a place among the despots of Italy, they strove to acquit their debt to art and learning in the spirit of contemporary potentates.

[2] Corio sums up his character thus: 'Fu costui uomo alla libidine molto proclivo; in grandissimo precio furono le gioie appresso di lui. Del giorno faceva notte, e la notte ispediva quanto gli occorreva.' Marcus Attilius Alexius says: 'Paulus II. ex concubina domum replevit, et quasi sterquilinium facta est sedes Barionis.' See Gregorovius, Stadt Rom, vol. vii. p. 215, for the latter quotation.

Paul did not live as long as his comparative youth led people to anticipate. He died of apoplexy in 1471, alone and suddenly, after supping on two huge watermelons, duos praegrandes pepones. His successor was a man of base extraction, named Francesco della Rovere, born near the town of Savona on the Genoese Riviera. It was his whim to be thought noble; so he bought the goodwill of the ancient house of Rovere of Turin by giving them two cardinals' hats, and proclaimed himself their kinsman. Theirs is the golden oak-tree on an azure ground which Michael Angelo painted on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in compliment to Sixtus and his nephew Julius. Having bribed the most venal members of the Sacred College, Francesco della Rovere was elected Pope, and assumed the name of Sixtus IV. He began his career with a lie; for though he succeeded to the avaricious Paul who had spent his time in amassing money which he did not use, he declared that he had only found 5,000 florins in the Papal treasury. This assertion was proved false by the prodigality with which he lavished wealth immediately upon his nephews. It is difficult even to hint at the horrible suspicions which were cast upon the birth of two of the Pope's nephews and upon the nature of his weakness for them. Yet the private life of Sixtus rendered the most monstrous stories plausible, while his public treatment of these men recalled to mind the partiality of Nero for Doryphorus.[1] We may, however, dwell upon the principal features of his nepotism; for Sixtus was the first Pontiff who deliberately organized a system for pillaging the Church in order to exalt his family to principalities. The weakness of this policy has already been exposed[2]: its justification, if there is any, lies in the exigencies of a dynasty which had no legitimate or hereditary succession. The names of the Pope's nephews were Lionardo, Giuliano, and Giovanni della Rovere, the three sons of his brother Raffaello; Pietro and Girolamo Riario, the two sons of his sister Jolanda; and Girolamo, the son of another sister married to Giovanni Basso. With the notable exception of Giuliano della Rovere,[3] these young men had no claim to distinction beyond good looks and a certain martial spirit which ill suited with the ecclesiastical dignities thrust upon some of them. Lionardo was made prefect of Rome and married to a natural daughter of King Ferdinand of Naples. Giuliano received a Cardinal's hat, and, after a tempestuous warfare with the intervening Popes, ascended the Holy Chair as Julius II. Girolamo Basso was created Cardinal of San Crisogono in 1477, and died in 1507. Girolamo Riario wedded Catherine, a natural daughter of Galeazzo Sforza. For him the Pope in 1473 bought the town of Imola with money of the Church, and, after adding to it Forli, made Girolamo a Duke. He was murdered by his subjects in the latter place in 1488, not, however, before he had founded a line of princes. Pietro, another nephew of the Riario blood, or, as scandal then reported and Muratori has since believed, a son of the Pope himself, was elevated at the age of twenty-six to the dignities of Cardinal, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Archbishop of Florence. He had no virtues, no abilities, nothing but his beauty, the scandalous affection of the Pope, and the extravagant profligacy of his own life to recommend him to the notice of posterity. All Italy during two years rang with the noise of his debaucheries. His official revenues were estimated at 60,000 golden florins; but in his short career of profligate magnificence he managed to squander a sum reckoned at not less than 200,000. When Leonora of Aragon passed through Rome on her way to wed the Marquis of Ferrara, this fop of a Patriarch erected a pavilion in the Piazza de' Santi Apostoli for her entertainment.[4] The square was partitioned into chambers communicating with the palace of the Cardinal. The ordinary hangings were of velvet and of white and crimson silk, while one of the apartments was draped with the famous tapestries of Nicholas V., which represented the Creation of the World. All the utensils in this magic dwelling were of silver—even to the very vilest. The air of the banquet-hall was cooled with punkahs; ire mantici coperti, che facevano continoamemte vento, are the words of Corio; and on a column in the center stood a living naked gilded boy, who poured forth water from an urn. The description of the feast takes up three pages of the history of Corio, where we find a minute list of the dishes—wild boars and deer and peacocks, roasted whole; peeled oranges, gilt and sugared; gilt rolls; rosewater for washing; and the tales of Perseus, Atalanta, Hercules, etc., I wrought in pastry—tutte in vivande. We are also told how masques of Hercules, Jason, and Phaedra alternated with the story of Susannah and the Elders, played by Florentine actors, and with the Mysteries of San Giovan Battista decapitato and quel Giudeo che rosfi il corpo di Cristo. The servants were arrayed in silk, and the seneschal changed his dress of richest stuffs and jewels four times in the course of the banquet. Nymphs and centaurs, singers and buffoons, drank choice wine from golden goblets. The most eminent and reverend master of the palace, meanwhile, moved among his guests 'like some great Caesar's son.' The whole entertainment lasted from Saturday till Thursday, during which time Ercole of Este and his bride assisted at Church ceremonies in S. Peter's, and visited the notabilities of Rome in the intervals of games, dances, and banquets of the kind described. We need scarcely add that, in spite of his enormous wealth, the young Cardinal died 60,000 florins in debt. Happily for the Church and for Italy, he expired at Rome in January 1474, after parading his impudent debaucheries through Milan and Venice as the Pope's Legate. It was rumored, but never well authenticated, that the Venetians helped his death by poison.[5] The sensual indulgences of every sort in which this child of the proletariat, suddenly raised to princely splendor, wallowed for twenty-five continuous months, are enough to account for his immature death without the hypothesis of poisoning. With him expired a plan which might have ended in making the Papacy a secular, hereditary kingdom. During his stay at Milan, Pietro struck a bargain with the Duke, by the terms of which Galeazzo Maria Sforza was to be crowned king of Lombardy, while the Cardinal Legate was to return and seize upon the Papal throne.[6] Sixtus, it is said, was willing to abdicate in his nephew's favor, with a view to the firmer establishment of his family in the tyranny of Rome. The scheme was a wild one, yet, considering the power and wealth of the Sforza family, not so wholly impracticable as might appear. The same dream floated, a few years later, before the imagination of the two Borgias; and Machiavelli wrote in his calm style that to make the Papal power hereditary was all that remained for nepotism in his days to do.[7] The opinion which had been conceived of the Cardinal of San Sisto during his two years of eminence may be gathered from the following couplets of an epigram placed, as Corio informs us, on his tomb:—

Fur, scortum, leno, moechus, pedico, cynaedus, Et scurra, et fidicen cedat ab Italia: Namque illa Ausonii pestis scelerata senatus, Petrus, ad infernas est modo raptus aquas.

After the death of Pietro, Sixtus took his last nephew, Giovanni della Rovere, into like favor. He was married to Giovanna, daughter of Federigo di Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and created Duke of Sinigaglia. Afterwards he became Prefect of Rome, upon the death of his brother Lionardo. This man founded the second dynasty in the Dukedom of Urbino. The plebeian violence of the della Rovere temper reached a climax in Giovanni's son, the Duke Francesco Maria, who murdered his sister's lover with his own hand when a youth of sixteen, stabbed the Papal Legate to death in the streets of Bologna at the age of twenty, and knocked Guicciardini, the historian, down with a blow of his fist during a council of war in 1526.

[1] The infamous stories about Sixtus and Alexander may in part be fables, currently reported by the vulgar and committed to epigrams by scholars. Still the fact remains that Infessura, Burchard, and the Venetian ambassadors relate of these two Popes such traits of character and such abominable actions as render the worst calumnies probable. Infessura, though he expressed horror for the crimes of Sixtus, was yet a dry chronicler of daily events, many of which passed beneath his own eyes, Burchurd was a frigid diarist of Court ceremonies, who reported the rapes, murders, and profligacies of Alexander with phlegmatic gravity. The evidence of these men, neither of whom indulges in satire strictly so called, is more valuable than that of Tacitus or Suetonius to the vices of the Roman emperors. The dispatches of the Venetian ambassadors, again, are trustworthy, seeing they were always written with political intention and not for the sake of gossip.

[2] See ch. iii. p. 113.

[3] As Julius II., by far the greatest name in his age. Yet even Giuliano did not at first impress men with his power. Jacobus Volaterranus (Mur. xxiii. 107) writes of him: 'Vir est naturae duriusculae, ac uti ingenii, mediocris literaturae.'

[4] For what follows read Corio, Storia di Milano, pp. 417-20.

[5] Mach. 1st. Fior. lib. vii.; Corio, p. 420.

[6] See Corio, p. 420. Corio hints that the Venetians poisoned the Cardinal for fear of this convention being carried out.

[7] 1st. Fior, lib. i. vol. i. p. 38.

Sixtus, however, while thus providing for his family, could not enjoy life without some youthful protege about his person. Accordingly in 1463 he made his valet, a lad of no education and of base birth, Cardinal and Bishop of Parma at the age of twenty. His merit was the beauty of a young Olympian. With this divine gift he luckily combined a harmless though stupid character.

With all these favorites to plant out in life, the Pope was naturally short of money. He relied on two principal methods for replenishing his coffers. One was the public sale of places about the Court at Rome, each of which had its well-known price.[1] Benefices were disposed of with rather more reserve and privacy, for simony had not yet come to be considered venial. Yet it was notorious that Sixtus held no privilege within his pontifical control on which he was not willing to raise money: 'Our churches, priests, altars, sacred rites, our prayers, our heaven, our very God, are purchasable!' exclaims a scholar of the time; while the Holy Father himself was wont to say, 'A pope needs only pen and ink to get what sum he wants.'[2] The second great financial expedient was the monopoly of corn throughout the Papal States. Fictitious dearths were created; the value of wheat was raised to famine prices; good grain was sold out of the kingdom, and bad imported in exchange; while Sixtus forced his subjects to purchase from his stores, and made a profit by the hunger and disease of his emaciated provinces. Ferdinand, the King of Naples, practiced the same system in the south. It is worth while to hear what this bread was like from one of the men condemned to eat it: 'The bread made from the corn of which I have spoken was black, stinking, and abominable; one was obliged to consume it, and from this cause sickness frequently took hold upon the State.'[3]

[1] The greatest ingenuity was displayed in promoting this market. Infessura writes: 'Multa et inexcogitata in Curia Romana officia adinvenit et vendidit,' p. 1183.

[2] Baptista Mantuanus, de Calamitatibus Temporum, lib. iii.

Venalia nobis Templa, sacerdotes, altaria, sacra, coronae, Ignes, thura, preces, coelum est venale, Deusque.

Soriano, the Venetian ambassador, ap. Alberi ii. 3, p. 330, writes: 'Conviene ricordarsi quello che soleva dire Sisto IV., che al papa bastava solo la mano con la penna e l'inchiostro, per avere quella somma che vuole.' Cp. Aen. Sylv. Picc. Ep. i. 66: 'Nihil est quod absque argento Romana Curia dedat; nam et ipsae manus impositiones et Spiritus Sancti dona venduntur, nec peccatorum venia nisi nummatis impenditur.'

[3] Infessura, Eccardus, vol. ii. p. 1941: 'Panis vero qui ex dicto frumento fiebat, erat ater, foetidus, et abominabilis; e ex necessitate comedebatur, ex quo saepenumero in civitate morbus viguit.'

But Christendom beheld in Sixtus not merely the spectacle of a Pope who trafficked in the bodies of his subjects and the holy things of God, to squander basely gotten gold upon abandoned minions. The peace of Italy was destroyed by desolating wars in the advancement of the same worthless favorites, Sixtus desired to annex Ferrara to the dominions of Girolamo Riario. Nothing stood in his way but the House of Este, firmly planted for centuries, and connected by marriage or alliance with all the chief families of Italy. The Pope, whose lust for blood and broils was only equaled by his avarice and his libertinism,[1] rushed with wild delight into a project which involved the discord of the whole Peninsula. He made treaties with Venice and unmade them, stirred up all the passions of the despots and set them together by the ears, called the Swiss mercenaries into Lombardy, and when finally, tired of fighting for his nephew, the Italian powers concluded the peace of Bagnolo, he died of rage in 1484. The Pope did actually die of disappointed fury because peace had been restored to the country he had mangled for the sake of a favorite nephew.

[1] This phrase requires support. Infessura (loc. cit. p. 1941) relates the savage pleasure with which Sixtus watched a combat 'a steccato chiuso.' Hearing that a duel to the death was to be fought by two bands of his body-guard, he told them to choose the Piazza of S. Peter for their rendezvous. Then he appeared at a window, blessed the combatants, and crossed himself as a signal for the battle to begin. We who think the ring, the cockpit, and the bullfight barbarous, should study Pollajuolo's engraving in order to imagine the horrors of a duel 'a steccato chiuso.' Of the inclination of Sixtus to sensuality, Infessura writes: 'Hic, ut fertur vulgo, et experientia demonstravit, puerorum amator et sodomita fuit.' After mentioning the Riarii and a barber's son, aged twelve, he goes on: 'taceo nunc alia, quae circa hoc possent recitari, quia visa sunt de continuo.' It was not, perhaps, a wholly Protestant calumny which accused Sixtus of granting private indulgences for the commission of abominable crimes in certain seasons of the year.

The crime of Sixtus which most vividly paints the corruption of the Papacy in his age remains still to be told. This was the sanction of the Pazzi Conjuration against Giuliano and Lorenzo de' Medici. In the year 1477 the Medici, after excluding the merchant princes of the Pazzi family from the magistracy at Florence and otherwise annoying them, had driven Francesco de' Pazzi in disgust to Rome. Sixtus chose him for his banker in the place of the Medicean Company. He became intimate with Girolamo Riario, and was well received at the Papal Court. Political reasons at this moment made the Pope and his nephew anxious to destroy the Medici, who opposed Girolamo's schemes of aggrandizement in Lombardy. Private rancor induced Francesco de' Pazzi to second their views and to stimulate their passion. The three between them hatched a plot which was joined by Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa, another private foe of the Medici, and by Giambattista Montesecco, a captain well affected to the Count Girolamo. The first design of the conspirators was to lure the brothers Medici to Rome, and to kill them there. But the young men were too prudent to leave Florence. Pazzi and Salviati then proceeded to Tuscany, hoping either at a banquet or in church to succeed in murdering their two enemies together. Bernardo Bandini, a man of blood by trade, and Francesco de' Pazzi were chosen to assassinate Giuliano. Giambattista Montesecco undertook to dispose of Lorenzo.[1] The 26th of April 1478 was finally fixed for the deed. The place selected was the Duomo.[2] The elevation of the Host at Mass-time was to be the signal. Both the Medici arrived. The murderers embraced Giuliano and discovered that this timid youth had left his secret coat of mail at home. But a difficulty, which ought to have been foreseen, arose. Monteseoco, cut-throat as he was, refused to stab Lorenzo before the high altar: at the last moment some sense of the religio loci dashed his courage. Two priests were then discovered who had no such silly scruples. In the words of an old chronicle, 'Another man was found, who, being a priest, was more accustomed to the place and therefore less superstitious about its sanctity.' This, however, spoiled all. The priests, though more sacrilegious than the bravos, were less used to the trade of assassination. They failed to strike home. Giuliano, it is true, was stabbed to death by Bernardo Bandini and Francesco de' Pazzi at the very moment of the elevation of Christ's body. But Lorenzo escaped with a slight flesh-wound. The whole conspiracy collapsed. In the retaliation which the infuriated people of Florence took upon the murderers, the Archbishop Salviati, together with Jacopo and Francesco de' Pazzi and some others among the principal conspirators, were hung from the windows of the Palazzo Pubblico. For this act of violence to the sacred person of a traitorous priest, Sixtus, who had upon his own conscience the crime of mingled treason, sacrilege, and murder, ex-communicated Florence, and carried on for years a savage war with the Republic. It was not until 1481, when the descent of the Turks upon Otranto made him tremble for his own safety, that he chose to make peace with these enemies whom he had himself provoked and plotted against.

[1] His 'Confession,' printed by Fabroni, Lorenzi Medicis Vita, vol. ii. p. 168, gives an interesting account of the hatching of the plot. It is fair to Sixtus to say that Montesecco exculpates him of the design to murder the Medici. He only wanted to ruin them.

[2] It is curious to note how many of the numerous Italian tyrannicides took place in church. The Chiavelli of Fabriano were murdered during a solemn service in 1435; the sentence of the creed 'Et incarnatus est' was chosen for the signal. Gian Maria Visconti was killed in San Gottardo (1412), Galeazzo Maria Sforza in San Stefano (1484). Lodovico Moro only just escaped assassination in Sant' Ambrogio (1484). Machiavelli says that Lorenzo de' Medici's life was attempted by Batista Frescobaldi in the Carmine (see 1st. Fior. book viii. near the end). The Bagliani of Perugia were to have been massacred during the marriage festival of Astorre with Lavinia Colonna(1500). Stefano Porcari intended to capture Nicholas V. at the great gate of S. Peter's (1453). The only chance of catching cautious princes off their guard was when they were engaged in high solemnities. See above, p. 168.

Another peculiarity in the Pontificate of Sixtus deserves special mention. It was under his auspices in the year 1478 that the Inquisition was founded in Spain for the extermination of Jews, Moors, and Christians with a taint of heresy. During the next four years 2,000 victims were burned in the province of Castile. In Seville, a plot of ground, called the Quemadero, or place of burning—a new Aceldama—was set apart for executions; and here in one year 280 heretics were committed to the flames, while 79 were condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and 17,000 to lighter punishments of various kinds. In Andalusia alone 5,000 houses were at once abandoned by their inhabitants. Then followed in 1492 the celebrated edict against the Jews. Before four months had expired the whole Jewish population were bidden to leave Spain, carrying with them nothing in the shape of gold or silver. To convert their property into bills of exchange and movables was their only resource. The market speedily was glutted: a house was given for an ass, a vineyard for a suit of clothes. Vainly did the persecuted race endeavor to purchase a remission of the sentence by the payment of an exorbitant ransom. Torquemada appeared before Ferdinand and his consort, raising the crucifix, and crying: 'Judas sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver; sell ye him for a larger sum, and account for the same to God!' The exodus began. Eight hundred thousand Jews left Spain[1]—some for the coast of Africa, where the Arabs ripped their bodies up in search for gems or gold they might have swallowed, and deflowered their women—some for Portugal, where they bought the right to exist for a large head-tax, and where they saw their sons and daughters dragged away to baptism before their eyes. Others were sold as slaves, or had to satisfy the rapacity of their persecutors with the bodies of their children. Many flung themselves into the wells, and sought to bury despair in suicide. The Mediterranean was covered with famine-stricken and plague-breeding fleets of exiles. Putting into the Port of Genoa, they were refused leave to reside in the city, and died by hundreds in the harbor.[2] Their festering bodies, bred a pestilence along the whole Italian sea-board, of which at Naples alone 20,000 persons died. Flitting from shore to shore, these forlorn specters, the victims of bigotry and avarice, everywhere pillaged and everywhere rejected, dwindled away and disappeared. Meanwhile the orthodox rejoiced. Pico della Mirandola, who spent his life in reconciling Plato with the Cabala, finds nothing more to say than this: 'The sufferings of the Jews, in which the glory of the Divine justice delighted, were so extreme as to fill us Christians with commiseration.' With these words we may compare the following passage from Senarega: 'The matter at first sight seemed praiseworthy, as regarding the honor done to our religion; yet it involved some amount of cruelty, if we look upon them, not as beasts, but as men, the handiwork of God.' A critic of this century can only exclaim with stupefaction: Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum! Thus Spain began to devour and depopulate herself. The curse which fell upon the Jew and Moor descended next upon philosopher and patriot. The very life of the nation, in its commerce, its industry, its free thought, its energy of character, was deliberately and steadily throttled. And at no long interval of time the blight of Spain was destined to descend on Italy, paralyzing the fair movements of her manifold existence to a rigid uniformity, shrouding the light and color of her art and letters in the blackness of inquisitorial gloom.

[1] This number is perhaps exaggerated. Limborch in his History of the Inquisition (p. 83) gives both 800,000 and 400,000; he also speaks of 170,000 families as one calculation.

[2] Senarega's account of the entry of the Jews into Genoa is truly awful. He was an eye-witness of what he relates. The passage may be read in Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella, chapter 17.

Most singular is the attitude of a Sixtus—indulging his lust and pride in the Vatican, adorning the chapel called after his name with masterpieces,[1] rending Italy with broils for the aggrandizement of favorites, haggling over the prices to be paid for bishoprics, extorting money from starved provinces, plotting murder against his enemies, hounding the semi-barbarous Swiss mountaineers on Milan by indulgences, refusing aid to Venice in her championship of Christendom against the Turk—yet meanwhile thinking to please God by holocausts of Moors, by myriads of famished Jews, conferring on a faithless and avaricious Ferdinand the title of Catholic, endeavoring to wipe out his sins by the blood of others, to burn his own vices in the autos da fe of Seville, and by the foundation of that diabolical engine the Inquisition to secure the fabric his own infamy was undermining.[2] This is not the language of a Protestant denouncing the Pope. With all respect for the Roman Church, that Alma Mater of the Middle Ages, that august and venerable monument of immemorial antiquity, we cannot close our eyes to the contradictions between practice and pretension upon which the History of the Italian Renaissance throws a light so lurid.

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