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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 6
by Edward Gibbon
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I have not undertaken the ecclesiastical history of the schism; but Rome, the object of these last chapters, is deeply interested in the disputed succession of her sovereigns. The first counsels for the peace and union of Christendom arose from the university of Paris, from the faculty of the Sorbonne, whose doctors were esteemed, at least in the Gallican church, as the most consummate masters of theological science. [72] Prudently waiving all invidious inquiry into the origin and merits of the dispute, they proposed, as a healing measure, that the two pretenders of Rome and Avignon should abdicate at the same time, after qualifying the cardinals of the adverse factions to join in a legitimate election; and that the nations should subtract [73] their obedience, if either of the competitor preferred his own interest to that of the public. At each vacancy, these physicians of the church deprecated the mischiefs of a hasty choice; but the policy of the conclave and the ambition of its members were deaf to reason and entreaties; and whatsoever promises were made, the pope could never be bound by the oaths of the cardinal. During fifteen years, the pacific designs of the university were eluded by the arts of the rival pontiffs, the scruples or passions of their adherents, and the vicissitudes of French factions, that ruled the insanity of Charles the Sixth. At length a vigorous resolution was embraced; and a solemn embassy, of the titular patriarch of Alexandria, two archbishops, five bishops, five abbots, three knights, and twenty doctors, was sent to the courts of Avignon and Rome, to require, in the name of the church and king, the abdication of the two pretenders, of Peter de Luna, who styled himself Benedict the Thirteenth, and of Angelo Corrario, who assumed the name of Gregory the Twelfth. For the ancient honor of Rome, and the success of their commission, the ambassadors solicited a conference with the magistrates of the city, whom they gratified by a positive declaration, that the most Christian king did not entertain a wish of transporting the holy see from the Vatican, which he considered as the genuine and proper seat of the successor of St. Peter. In the name of the senate and people, an eloquent Roman asserted their desire to cooperate in the union of the church, deplored the temporal and spiritual calamities of the long schism, and requested the protection of France against the arms of the king of Naples. The answers of Benedict and Gregory were alike edifying and alike deceitful; and, in evading the demand of their abdication, the two rivals were animated by a common spirit. They agreed on the necessity of a previous interview; but the time, the place, and the manner, could never be ascertained by mutual consent. "If the one advances," says a servant of Gregory, "the other retreats; the one appears an animal fearful of the land, the other a creature apprehensive of the water. And thus, for a short remnant of life and power, will these aged priests endanger the peace and salvation of the Christian world." [74]

[Footnote 72: The leading and decisive part which France assumed in the schism is stated by Peter du Puis in a separate history, extracted from authentic records, and inserted in the seventh volume of the last and best edition of his friend Thuanus, (P. xi. p. 110—184.)]

[Footnote 73: Of this measure, John Gerson, a stout doctor, was the author of the champion. The proceedings of the university of Paris and the Gallican church were often prompted by his advice, and are copiously displayed in his theological writings, of which Le Clerc (Bibliotheque Choisie, tom. x. p. 1—78) has given a valuable extract. John Gerson acted an important part in the councils of Pisa and Constance.]

[Footnote 74: Leonardus Brunus Aretinus, one of the revivers of classic learning in Italy, who, after serving many years as secretary in the Roman court, retired to the honorable office of chancellor of the republic of Florence, (Fabric. Bibliot. Medii AEvi, tom. i. p. 290.) Lenfant has given the version of this curious epistle, (Concile de Pise, tom. i. p. 192—195.)]

The Christian world was at length provoked by their obstinacy and fraud: they were deserted by their cardinals, who embraced each other as friends and colleagues; and their revolt was supported by a numerous assembly of prelates and ambassadors. With equal justice, the council of Pisa deposed the popes of Rome and Avignon; the conclave was unanimous in the choice of Alexander the Fifth, and his vacant seat was soon filled by a similar election of John the Twenty-third, the most profligate of mankind. But instead of extinguishing the schism, the rashness of the French and Italians had given a third pretender to the chair of St. Peter. Such new claims of the synod and conclave were disputed; three kings, of Germany, Hungary, and Naples, adhered to the cause of Gregory the Twelfth; and Benedict the Thirteenth, himself a Spaniard, was acknowledged by the devotion and patriotism of that powerful nation. The rash proceedings of Pisa were corrected by the council of Constance; the emperor Sigismond acted a conspicuous part as the advocate or protector of the Catholic church; and the number and weight of civil and ecclesiastical members might seem to constitute the states-general of Europe. Of the three popes, John the Twenty-third was the first victim: he fled and was brought back a prisoner: the most scandalous charges were suppressed; the vicar of Christ was only accused of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy, and incest; and after subscribing his own condemnation, he expiated in prison the imprudence of trusting his person to a free city beyond the Alps. Gregory the Twelfth, whose obedience was reduced to the narrow precincts of Rimini, descended with more honor from the throne; and his ambassador convened the session, in which he renounced the title and authority of lawful pope. To vanquish the obstinacy of Benedict the Thirteenth or his adherents, the emperor in person undertook a journey from Constance to Perpignan. The kings of Castile, Arragon, Navarre, and Scotland, obtained an equal and honorable treaty; with the concurrence of the Spaniards, Benedict was deposed by the council; but the harmless old man was left in a solitary castle to excommunicate twice each day the rebel kingdoms which had deserted his cause. After thus eradicating the remains of the schism, the synod of Constance proceeded with slow and cautious steps to elect the sovereign of Rome and the head of the church. On this momentous occasion, the college of twenty-three cardinals was fortified with thirty deputies; six of whom were chosen in each of the five great nations of Christendom,—the Italian, the German, the French, the Spanish, and the English: [75] the interference of strangers was softened by their generous preference of an Italian and a Roman; and the hereditary, as well as personal, merit of Otho Colonna recommended him to the conclave. Rome accepted with joy and obedience the noblest of her sons; the ecclesiastical state was defended by his powerful family; and the elevation of Martin the Fifth is the aera of the restoration and establishment of the popes in the Vatican. [76]

[Footnote 75: I cannot overlook this great national cause, which was vigorously maintained by the English ambassadors against those of France. The latter contended, that Christendom was essentially distributed into the four great nations and votes, of Italy, Germany, France, and Spain, and that the lesser kingdoms (such as England, Denmark, Portugal, &c.) were comprehended under one or other of these great divisions. The English asserted, that the British islands, of which they were the head, should be considered as a fifth and cooerdinate nation, with an equal vote; and every argument of truth or fable was introduced to exalt the dignity of their country. Including England, Scotland, Wales, the four kingdoms of Ireland, and the Orkneys, the British Islands are decorated with eight royal crowns, and discriminated by four or five languages, English, Welsh, Cornish, Scotch, Irish, &c. The greater island from north to south measures 800 miles, or 40 days' journey; and England alone contains 32 counties and 52,000 parish churches, (a bold account!) besides cathedrals, colleges, priories, and hospitals. They celebrate the mission of St. Joseph of Arimathea, the birth of Constantine, and the legatine powers of the two primates, without forgetting the testimony of Bartholomey de Glanville, (A.D. 1360,) who reckons only four Christian kingdoms, 1. of Rome, 2. of Constantinople, 3. of Ireland, which had been transferred to the English monarchs, and 4, of Spain. Our countrymen prevailed in the council, but the victories of Henry V. added much weight to their arguments. The adverse pleadings were found at Constance by Sir Robert Wingfield, ambassador of Henry VIII. to the emperor Maximilian I., and by him printed in 1517 at Louvain. From a Leipsic MS. they are more correctly published in the collection of Von der Hardt, tom. v.; but I have only seen Lenfant's abstract of these acts, (Concile de Constance, tom. ii. p. 447, 453, &c.)]

[Footnote 76: The histories of the three successive councils, Pisa, Constance, and Basil, have been written with a tolerable degree of candor, industry, and elegance, by a Protestant minister, M. Lenfant, who retired from France to Berlin. They form six volumes in quarto; and as Basil is the worst, so Constance is the best, part of the Collection.]



Chapter LXX: Final Settlement Of The Ecclesiastical State.—Part IV.

The royal prerogative of coining money, which had been exercised near three hundred years by the senate, was first resumed by Martin the Fifth, [77] and his image and superscription introduce the series of the papal medals. Of his two immediate successors, Eugenius the Fourth was the last pope expelled by the tumults of the Roman people, [78] and Nicholas the Fifth, the last who was importuned by the presence of a Roman emperor. [79] I. The conflict of Eugenius with the fathers of Basil, and the weight or apprehension of a new excise, emboldened and provoked the Romans to usurp the temporal government of the city. They rose in arms, elected seven governors of the republic, and a constable of the Capitol; imprisoned the pope's nephew; besieged his person in the palace; and shot volleys of arrows into his bark as he escaped down the Tyber in the habit of a monk. But he still possessed in the castle of St. Angelo a faithful garrison and a train of artillery: their batteries incessantly thundered on the city, and a bullet more dexterously pointed broke down the barricade of the bridge, and scattered with a single shot the heroes of the republic. Their constancy was exhausted by a rebellion of five months. Under the tyranny of the Ghibeline nobles, the wisest patriots regretted the dominion of the church; and their repentance was unanimous and effectual. The troops of St. Peter again occupied the Capitol; the magistrates departed to their homes; the most guilty were executed or exiled; and the legate, at the head of two thousand foot and four thousand horse, was saluted as the father of the city. The synods of Ferrara and Florence, the fear or resentment of Eugenius, prolonged his absence: he was received by a submissive people; but the pontiff understood from the acclamations of his triumphal entry, that to secure their loyalty and his own repose, he must grant without delay the abolition of the odious excise. II. Rome was restored, adorned, and enlightened, by the peaceful reign of Nicholas the Fifth. In the midst of these laudable occupations, the pope was alarmed by the approach of Frederic the Third of Austria; though his fears could not be justified by the character or the power of the Imperial candidate. After drawing his military force to the metropolis, and imposing the best security of oaths [80] and treaties, Nicholas received with a smiling countenance the faithful advocate and vassal of the church. So tame were the times, so feeble was the Austrian, that the pomp of his coronation was accomplished with order and harmony: but the superfluous honor was so disgraceful to an independent nation, that his successors have excused themselves from the toilsome pilgrimage to the Vatican; and rest their Imperial title on the choice of the electors of Germany.

[Footnote 77: See the xxviith Dissertation of the Antiquities of Muratori, and the 1st Instruction of the Science des Medailles of the Pere Joubert and the Baron de la Bastie. The Metallic History of Martin V. and his successors has been composed by two monks, Moulinet, a Frenchman, and Bonanni, an Italian: but I understand, that the first part of the series is restored from more recent coins.]

[Footnote 78: Besides the Lives of Eugenius IV., (Rerum Italic. tom. iii. P. i. p. 869, and tom. xxv. p. 256,) the Diaries of Paul Petroni and Stephen Infessura are the best original evidence for the revolt of the Romans against Eugenius IV. The former, who lived at the time and on the spot, speaks the language of a citizen, equally afraid of priestly and popular tyranny.]

[Footnote 79: The coronation of Frederic III. is described by Lenfant, (Concile de Basle, tom. ii. p. 276—288,) from AEneas Sylvius, a spectator and actor in that splendid scene.]

[Footnote 80: The oath of fidelity imposed on the emperor by the pope is recorded and sanctified in the Clementines, (l. ii. tit. ix.;) and AEneas Sylvius, who objects to this new demand, could not foresee, that in a few years he should ascend the throne, and imbibe the maxims, of Boniface VIII.]

A citizen has remarked, with pride and pleasure, that the king of the Romans, after passing with a slight salute the cardinals and prelates who met him at the gate, distinguished the dress and person of the senator of Rome; and in this last farewell, the pageants of the empire and the republic were clasped in a friendly embrace. [81] According to the laws of Rome, [82] her first magistrate was required to be a doctor of laws, an alien, of a place at least forty miles from the city; with whose inhabitants he must not be connected in the third canonical degree of blood or alliance. The election was annual: a severe scrutiny was instituted into the conduct of the departing senator; nor could he be recalled to the same office till after the expiration of two years. A liberal salary of three thousand florins was assigned for his expense and reward; and his public appearance represented the majesty of the republic. His robes were of gold brocade or crimson velvet, or in the summer season of a lighter silk: he bore in his hand an ivory sceptre; the sound of trumpets announced his approach; and his solemn steps were preceded at least by four lictors or attendants, whose red wands were enveloped with bands or streamers of the golden color or livery of the city. His oath in the Capitol proclaims his right and duty to observe and assert the laws, to control the proud, to protect the poor, and to exercise justice and mercy within the extent of his jurisdiction. In these useful functions he was assisted by three learned strangers; the two collaterals, and the judge of criminal appeals: their frequent trials of robberies, rapes, and murders, are attested by the laws; and the weakness of these laws connives at the licentiousness of private feuds and armed associations for mutual defence. But the senator was confined to the administration of justice: the Capitol, the treasury, and the government of the city and its territory, were intrusted to the three conservators, who were changed four times in each year: the militia of the thirteen regions assembled under the banners of their respective chiefs, or caporioni; and the first of these was distinguished by the name and dignity of the prior. The popular legislature consisted of the secret and the common councils of the Romans. The former was composed of the magistrates and their immediate predecessors, with some fiscal and legal officers, and three classes of thirteen, twenty-six, and forty, counsellors: amounting in the whole to about one hundred and twenty persons. In the common council all male citizens had a right to vote; and the value of their privilege was enhanced by the care with which any foreigners were prevented from usurping the title and character of Romans. The tumult of a democracy was checked by wise and jealous precautions: except the magistrates, none could propose a question; none were permitted to speak, except from an open pulpit or tribunal; all disorderly acclamations were suppressed; the sense of the majority was decided by a secret ballot; and their decrees were promulgated in the venerable name of the Roman senate and people. It would not be easy to assign a period in which this theory of government has been reduced to accurate and constant practice, since the establishment of order has been gradually connected with the decay of liberty. But in the year one thousand five hundred and eighty the ancient statutes were collected, methodized in three books, and adapted to present use, under the pontificate, and with the approbation, of Gregory the Thirteenth: [83] this civil and criminal code is the modern law of the city; and, if the popular assemblies have been abolished, a foreign senator, with the three conservators, still resides in the palace of the Capitol. [84] The policy of the Caesars has been repeated by the popes; and the bishop of Rome affected to maintain the form of a republic, while he reigned with the absolute powers of a temporal, as well as a spiritual, monarch.

[Footnote 81: Lo senatore di Roma, vestito di brocarto con quella beretta, e con quelle maniche, et ornamenti di pelle, co' quali va alle feste di Testaccio e Nagone, might escape the eye of AEneas Sylvius, but he is viewed with admiration and complacency by the Roman citizen, (Diario di Stephano Infessura, p. 1133.)]

[Footnote 82: See, in the statutes of Rome, the senator and three judges, (l. i. c. 3—14,) the conservators, (l. i. c. 15, 16, 17, l. iii. c. 4,) the caporioni (l. i. c. 18, l. iii. c. 8,) the secret council, (l. iii. c. 2,) the common council, (l. iii. c. 3.) The title of feuds, defiances, acts of violence, &c., is spread through many a chapter (c. 14—40) of the second book.]

[Footnote 83: Statuta alm Urbis Rom Auctoritate S. D. N. Gregorii XIII Pont. Max. a Senatu Populoque Rom. reformata et edita. Rom, 1580, in folio. The obsolete, repugnant statutes of antiquity were confounded in five books, and Lucas Paetus, a lawyer and antiquarian, was appointed to act as the modern Tribonian. Yet I regret the old code, with the rugged crust of freedom and barbarism.]

[Footnote 84: In my time (1765) and in M. Grosley's, (Observations sur l'Italie torn. ii. p. 361,) the senator of Rome was M. Bielke, a noble Swede and a proselyte to the Catholic faith. The pope's right to appoint the senator and the conservator is implied, rather than affirmed, in the statutes.]

It is an obvious truth, that the times must be suited to extraordinary characters, and that the genius of Cromwell or Retz might now expire in obscurity. The political enthusiasm of Rienzi had exalted him to a throne; the same enthusiasm, in the next century, conducted his imitator to the gallows. The birth of Stephen Porcaro was noble, his reputation spotless: his tongue was armed with eloquence, his mind was enlightened with learning; and he aspired, beyond the aim of vulgar ambition, to free his country and immortalize his name. The dominion of priests is most odious to a liberal spirit: every scruple was removed by the recent knowledge of the fable and forgery of Constantine's donation; Petrarch was now the oracle of the Italians; and as often as Porcaro revolved the ode which describes the patriot and hero of Rome, he applied to himself the visions of the prophetic bard. His first trial of the popular feelings was at the funeral of Eugenius the Fourth: in an elaborate speech he called the Romans to liberty and arms; and they listened with apparent pleasure, till Porcaro was interrupted and answered by a grave advocate, who pleaded for the church and state. By every law the seditious orator was guilty of treason; but the benevolence of the new pontiff, who viewed his character with pity and esteem, attempted by an honorable office to convert the patriot into a friend. The inflexible Roman returned from Anagni with an increase of reputation and zeal; and, on the first opportunity, the games of the place Navona, he tried to inflame the casual dispute of some boys and mechanics into a general rising of the people. Yet the humane Nicholas was still averse to accept the forfeit of his life; and the traitor was removed from the scene of temptation to Bologna, with a liberal allowance for his support, and the easy obligation of presenting himself each day before the governor of the city. But Porcaro had learned from the younger Brutus, that with tyrants no faith or gratitude should be observed: the exile declaimed against the arbitrary sentence; a party and a conspiracy were gradually formed: his nephew, a daring youth, assembled a band of volunteers; and on the appointed evening a feast was prepared at his house for the friends of the republic. Their leader, who had escaped from Bologna, appeared among them in a robe of purple and gold: his voice, his countenance, his gestures, bespoke the man who had devoted his life or death to the glorious cause. In a studied oration, he expiated on the motives and the means of their enterprise; the name and liberties of Rome; the sloth and pride of their ecclesiastical tyrants; the active or passive consent of their fellow-citizens; three hundred soldiers, and four hundred exiles, long exercised in arms or in wrongs; the license of revenge to edge their swords, and a million of ducats to reward their victory. It would be easy, (he said,) on the next day, the festival of the Epiphany, to seize the pope and his cardinals, before the doors, or at the altar, of St. Peter's; to lead them in chains under the walls of St. Angelo; to extort by the threat of their instant death a surrender of the castle; to ascend the vacant Capitol; to ring the alarm bell; and to restore in a popular assembly the ancient republic of Rome. While he triumphed, he was already betrayed. The senator, with a strong guard, invested the house: the nephew of Porcaro cut his way through the crowd; but the unfortunate Stephen was drawn from a chest, lamenting that his enemies had anticipated by three hours the execution of his design. After such manifest and repeated guilt, even the mercy of Nicholas was silent. Porcaro, and nine of his accomplices, were hanged without the benefit of the sacraments; and, amidst the fears and invectives of the papal court, the Romans pitied, and almost applauded, these martyrs of their country. [85] But their applause was mute, their pity ineffectual, their liberty forever extinct; and, if they have since risen in a vacancy of the throne or a scarcity of bread, such accidental tumults may be found in the bosom of the most abject servitude.

[Footnote 85: Besides the curious, though concise, narrative of Machiavel, (Istoria Florentina, l. vi. Opere, tom. i. p. 210, 211, edit. Londra, 1747, in 4to.) the Porcarian conspiracy is related in the Diary of Stephen Infessura, (Rer. Ital. tom. iii. P. ii. p. 1134, 1135,) and in a separate tract by Leo Baptista Alberti, (Rer. Ital. tom. xxv. p. 609—614.) It is amusing to compare the style and sentiments of the courtier and citizen. Facinus profecto quo.... neque periculo horribilius, neque audacia detestabilius, neque crudelitate tetrius, a quoquam perditissimo uspiam excogitatum sit.... Perdette la vita quell' huomo da bene, e amatore dello bene e liberta di Roma.]

But the independence of the nobles, which was fomented by discord, survived the freedom of the commons, which must be founded in union. A privilege of rapine and oppression was long maintained by the barons of Rome; their houses were a fortress and a sanctuary: and the ferocious train of banditti and criminals whom they protected from the law repaid the hospitality with the service of their swords and daggers. The private interest of the pontiffs, or their nephews, sometimes involved them in these domestic feuds. Under the reign of Sixtus the Fourth, Rome was distracted by the battles and sieges of the rival houses: after the conflagration of his palace, the prothonotary Colonna was tortured and beheaded; and Savelli, his captive friend, was murdered on the spot, for refusing to join in the acclamations of the victorious Ursini. [86] But the popes no longer trembled in the Vatican: they had strength to command, if they had resolution to claim, the obedience of their subjects; and the strangers, who observed these partial disorders, admired the easy taxes and wise administration of the ecclesiastical state. [87]

[Footnote 86: The disorders of Rome, which were much inflamed by the partiality of Sixtus IV. are exposed in the Diaries of two spectators, Stephen Infessura, and an anonymous citizen. See the troubles of the year 1484, and the death of the prothonotary Colonna, in tom. iii. P. ii. p. 1083, 1158.]

[Footnote 87: Est toute la terre de l'eglise troublee pour cette partialite (des Colonnes et des Ursins) come nous dirions Luce et Grammont, ou en Hollande Houc et Caballan; et quand ce ne seroit ce differend la terre de l'eglise seroit la plus heureuse habitation pour les sujets qui soit dans toute le monde (car ils ne payent ni tailles ni gueres autres choses,) et seroient toujours bien conduits, (car toujours les papes sont sages et bien consellies;) mais tres souvent en advient de grands et cruels meurtres et pilleries.]

The spiritual thunders of the Vatican depend on the force of opinion; and if that opinion be supplanted by reason or passion, the sound may idly waste itself in the air; and the helpless priest is exposed to the brutal violence of a noble or a plebeian adversary. But after their return from Avignon, the keys of St. Peter were guarded by the sword of St. Paul. Rome was commanded by an impregnable citadel: the use of cannon is a powerful engine against popular seditions: a regular force of cavalry and infantry was enlisted under the banners of the pope: his ample revenues supplied the resources of war: and, from the extent of his domain, he could bring down on a rebellious city an army of hostile neighbors and loyal subjects. [88] Since the union of the duchies of Ferrara and Urbino, the ecclesiastical state extends from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic, and from the confines of Naples to the banks of the Po; and as early as the sixteenth century, the greater part of that spacious and fruitful country acknowledged the lawful claims and temporal sovereignty of the Roman pontiffs. Their claims were readily deduced from the genuine, or fabulous, donations of the darker ages: the successive steps of their final settlement would engage us too far in the transactions of Italy, and even of Europe; the crimes of Alexander the Sixth, the martial operations of Julius the Second, and the liberal policy of Leo the Tenth, a theme which has been adorned by the pens of the noblest historians of the times. [89] In the first period of their conquests, till the expedition of Charles the Eighth, the popes might successfully wrestle with the adjacent princes and states, whose military force was equal, or inferior, to their own. But as soon as the monarchs of France, Germany and Spain, contended with gigantic arms for the dominion of Italy, they supplied with art the deficiency of strength; and concealed, in a labyrinth of wars and treaties, their aspiring views, and the immortal hope of chasing the Barbarians beyond the Alps. The nice balance of the Vatican was often subverted by the soldiers of the North and West, who were united under the standard of Charles the Fifth: the feeble and fluctuating policy of Clement the Seventh exposed his person and dominions to the conqueror; and Rome was abandoned seven months to a lawless army, more cruel and rapacious than the Goths and Vandals. [90] After this severe lesson, the popes contracted their ambition, which was almost satisfied, resumed the character of a common parent, and abstained from all offensive hostilities, except in a hasty quarrel, when the vicar of Christ and the Turkish sultan were armed at the same time against the kingdom of Naples. [91] The French and Germans at length withdrew from the field of battle: Milan, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and the sea-coast of Tuscany, were firmly possessed by the Spaniards; and it became their interest to maintain the peace and dependence of Italy, which continued almost without disturbance from the middle of the sixteenth to the opening of the eighteenth century. The Vatican was swayed and protected by the religious policy of the Catholic king: his prejudice and interest disposed him in every dispute to support the prince against the people; and instead of the encouragement, the aid, and the asylum, which they obtained from the adjacent states, the friends of liberty, or the enemies of law, were enclosed on all sides within the iron circle of despotism. The long habits of obedience and education subdued the turbulent spirit of the nobles and commons of Rome. The barons forgot the arms and factions of their ancestors, and insensibly became the servants of luxury and government. Instead of maintaining a crowd of tenants and followers, the produce of their estates was consumed in the private expenses which multiply the pleasures, and diminish the power, of the lord. [92] The Colonna and Ursini vied with each other in the decoration of their palaces and chapels; and their antique splendor was rivalled or surpassed by the sudden opulence of the papal families. In Rome the voice of freedom and discord is no longer heard; and, instead of the foaming torrent, a smooth and stagnant lake reflects the image of idleness and servitude.

[Footnote 88: By the conomy of Sixtus V. the revenue of the ecclesiastical state was raised to two millions and a half of Roman crowns, (Vita, tom. ii. p. 291—296;) and so regular was the military establishment, that in one month Clement VIII. could invade the duchy of Ferrara with three thousand horse and twenty thousand foot, (tom. iii. p. 64) Since that time (A.D. 1597) the papal arms are happily rusted: but the revenue must have gained some nominal increase. * Note: On the financial measures of Sixtus V. see Ranke, Dio Roemischen Paepste, i. p. 459.—M.]

[Footnote 89: More especially by Guicciardini and Machiavel; in the general history of the former, in the Florentine history, the Prince, and the political discourses of the latter. These, with their worthy successors, Fra Paolo and Davila, were justly esteemed the first historians of modern languages, till, in the present age, Scotland arose, to dispute the prize with Italy herself.]

[Footnote 90: In the history of the Gothic siege, I have compared the Barbarians with the subjects of Charles V., (vol. iii. p. 289, 290;) an anticipation, which, like that of the Tartar conquests, I indulged with the less scruple, as I could scarcely hope to reach the conclusion of my work.]

[Footnote 91: The ambitious and feeble hostilities of the Caraffa pope, Paul IV. may be seen in Thuanus (l. xvi.—xviii.) and Giannone, (tom. iv p. 149—163.) Those Catholic bigots, Philip II. and the duke of Alva, presumed to separate the Roman prince from the vicar of Christ, yet the holy character, which would have sanctified his victory was decently applied to protect his defeat. * Note: But compare Ranke, Die Roemischen Paepste, i. p. 289.—M.]

[Footnote 92: This gradual change of manners and expense is admirably explained by Dr. Adam Smith, (Wealth of Nations, vol. i. p. 495—504,) who proves, perhaps too severely, that the most salutary effects have flowed from the meanest and most selfish causes.]

A Christian, a philosopher, [93] and a patriot, will be equally scandalized by the temporal kingdom of the clergy; and the local majesty of Rome, the remembrance of her consuls and triumphs, may seem to imbitter the sense, and aggravate the shame, of her slavery. If we calmly weigh the merits and defects of the ecclesiastical government, it may be praised in its present state, as a mild, decent, and tranquil system, exempt from the dangers of a minority, the sallies of youth, the expenses of luxury, and the calamities of war. But these advantages are overbalanced by a frequent, perhaps a septennial, election of a sovereign, who is seldom a native of the country; the reign of a young statesman of threescore, in the decline of his life and abilities, without hope to accomplish, and without children to inherit, the labors of his transitory reign. The successful candidate is drawn from the church, and even the convent; from the mode of education and life the most adverse to reason, humanity, and freedom. In the trammels of servile faith, he has learned to believe because it is absurd, to revere all that is contemptible, and to despise whatever might deserve the esteem of a rational being; to punish error as a crime, to reward mortification and celibacy as the first of virtues; to place the saints of the calendar [94] above the heroes of Rome and the sages of Athens; and to consider the missal, or the crucifix, as more useful instruments than the plough or the loom. In the office of nuncio, or the rank of cardinal, he may acquire some knowledge of the world, but the primitive stain will adhere to his mind and manners: from study and experience he may suspect the mystery of his profession; but the sacerdotal artist will imbibe some portion of the bigotry which he inculcates. The genius of Sixtus the Fifth [95] burst from the gloom of a Franciscan cloister. In a reign of five years, he exterminated the outlaws and banditti, abolished the profane sanctuaries of Rome, [96] formed a naval and military force, restored and emulated the monuments of antiquity, and after a liberal use and large increase of the revenue, left five millions of crowns in the castle of St. Angelo. But his justice was sullied with cruelty, his activity was prompted by the ambition of conquest: after his decease the abuses revived; the treasure was dissipated; he entailed on posterity thirty-five new taxes and the venality of offices; and, after his death, his statue was demolished by an ungrateful, or an injured, people. [97] The wild and original character of Sixtus the Fifth stands alone in the series of the pontiffs; the maxims and effects of their temporal government may be collected from the positive and comparative view of the arts and philosophy, the agriculture and trade, the wealth and population, of the ecclesiastical state. For myself, it is my wish to depart in charity with all mankind, nor am I willing, in these last moments, to offend even the pope and clergy of Rome. [98]

[Footnote 93: Mr. Hume (Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 389) too hastily conclude that if the civil and ecclesiastical powers be united in the same person, it is of little moment whether he be styled prince or prelate since the temporal character will always predominate.]

[Footnote 94: A Protestant may disdain the unworthy preference of St. Francis or St. Dominic, but he will not rashly condemn the zeal or judgment of Sixtus V., who placed the statues of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul on the vacant columns of Trajan and Antonine.]

[Footnote 95: A wandering Italian, Gregorio Leti, has given the Vita di Sisto-Quinto, (Amstel. 1721, 3 vols. in 12mo.,) a copious and amusing work, but which does not command our absolute confidence. Yet the character of the man, and the principal facts, are supported by the annals of Spondanus and Muratori, (A.D. 1585—1590,) and the contemporary history of the great Thuanus, (l. lxxxii. c. 1, 2, l. lxxxiv. c. 10, l. c. c. 8.) * Note: The industry of M. Ranke has discovered the document, a kind of scandalous chronicle of the time, from which Leti wrought up his amusing romances. See also M. Ranke's observations on the Life of Sixtus. by Tempesti, b. iii. p. 317, 324.— M.]

[Footnote 96: These privileged places, the quartieri or franchises, were adopted from the Roman nobles by the foreign ministers. Julius II. had once abolished the abominandum et detestandum franchitiarum hujusmodi nomen: and after Sixtus V. they again revived. I cannot discern either the justice or magnanimity of Louis XIV., who, in 1687, sent his ambassador, the marquis de Lavardin, to Rome, with an armed force of a thousand officers, guards, and domestics, to maintain this iniquitous claim, and insult Pope Innocent XI. in the heart of his capital, (Vita di Sisto V. tom. iii. p. 260—278. Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. xv. p. 494—496, and Voltaire, Siecle de Louis XIV. tom. i. c. 14, p. 58, 59.)]

[Footnote 97: This outrage produced a decree, which was inscribed on marble, and placed in the Capitol. It is expressed in a style of manly simplicity and freedom: Si quis, sive privatus, sive magistratum gerens de collocanda vivo pontifici statua mentionem facere ausit, legitimo S. P. Q. R. decreto in perpetuum infamis et publicorum munerum expers esto. MDXC. mense Augusto, (Vita di Sisto V. tom. iii. p. 469.) I believe that this decree is still observed, and I know that every monarch who deserves a statue should himself impose the prohibition.]

[Footnote 98: The histories of the church, Italy, and Christendom, have contributed to the chapter which I now conclude. In the original Lives of the Popes, we often discover the city and republic of Rome: and the events of the xivth and xvth centuries are preserved in the rude and domestic chronicles which I have carefully inspected, and shall recapitulate in the order of time.

1. Monaldeschi (Ludovici Boncomitis) Fragmenta Annalium Roman. A.D. 1328, in the Scriptores Rerum Italicarum of Muratori, tom. xii. p. 525. N. B. The credit of this fragment is somewhat hurt by a singular interpolation, in which the author relates his own death at the age of 115 years.

2. Fragmenta Historiae Romanae (vulgo Thomas Fortifioccae) in Romana Dialecto vulgari, (A.D. 1327—1354, in Muratori, Antiquitat. Medii AEvi Italiae, tom. iii. p. 247—548;) the authentic groundwork of the history of Rienzi.

3. Delphini (Gentilis) Diarium Romanum, (A.D. 1370—1410,) in the Rerum Italicarum, tom. iii. P. ii. p. 846.

4. Antonii (Petri) Diarium Rom., (A.D. 1404—1417,) tom. xxiv. p. 699.

5. Petroni (Pauli) Miscellanea Historica Romana, (A.D. 1433—1446,) tom. xxiv. p. 1101.

6. Volaterrani (Jacob.) Diarium Rom., (A.D. 1472—1484,) tom. xxiii p. 81.

7. Anonymi Diarium Urbis Romae, (A.D. 1481—1492,) tom. iii. P. ii. p. 1069.

8. Infessurae (Stephani) Diarium Romanum, (A.D. 1294, or 1378—1494,) tom. iii. P. ii. p. 1109.

9. Historia Arcana Alexandri VI. sive Excerpta ex Diario Joh. Burcardi, (A.D. 1492—1503,) edita a Godefr. Gulielm. Leibnizio, Hanover, 697, in 14to. The large and valuable Journal of Burcard might be completed from the MSS. in different libraries of Italy and France, (M. de Foncemagne, in the Memoires de l'Acad. des Inscrip. tom. xvii. p. 597—606.)

Except the last, all these fragments and diaries are inserted in the Collections of Muratori, my guide and master in the history of Italy. His country, and the public, are indebted to him for the following works on that subject: 1. Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, (A.D. 500—1500,) quorum potissima pars nunc primum in lucem prodit, &c., xxviii. vols. in folio, Milan, 1723—1738, 1751. A volume of chronological and alphabetical tables is still wanting as a key to this great work, which is yet in a disorderly and defective state. 2. Antiquitates Italiae Medii AEvi, vi. vols. in folio, Milan, 1738—1743, in lxxv. curious dissertations, on the manners, government, religion, &c., of the Italians of the darker ages, with a large supplement of charters, chronicles, &c. 3. Dissertazioni sopra le Antiquita Italiane, iii. vols. in 4to., Milano, 1751, a free version by the author, which may be quoted with the same confidence as the Latin text of the Antiquities. Annali d' Italia, xviii. vols. in octavo, Milan, 1753—1756, a dry, though accurate and useful, abridgment of the history of Italy, from the birth of Christ to the middle of the xviiith century. 5. Dell' Antichita Estense ed Italiane, ii. vols. in folio, Modena, 1717, 1740. In the history of this illustrious race, the parent of our Brunswick kings, the critic is not seduced by the loyalty or gratitude of the subject. In all his works, Muratori approves himself a diligent and laborious writer, who aspires above the prejudices of a Catholic priest. He was born in the year 1672, and died in the year 1750, after passing near 60 years in the libraries of Milan and Modena, (Vita del Proposto Ludovico Antonio Muratori, by his nephew and successor Gian. Francesco Soli Muratori Venezia, 1756 m 4to.)]



Chapter LXXI: Prospect Of The Ruins Of Rome In The Fifteenth Century.—Part I.

Prospect Of The Ruins Of Rome In The Fifteenth Century.— Four Causes Of Decay And Destruction.—Example Of The Coliseum.—Renovation Of The City.—Conclusion Of The Whole Work.

In the last days of Pope Eugenius the Fourth, [101] two of his servants, the learned Poggius [1] and a friend, ascended the Capitoline hill; reposed themselves among the ruins of columns and temples; and viewed from that commanding spot the wide and various prospect of desolation. [2] The place and the object gave ample scope for moralizing on the vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works, which buries empires and cities in a common grave; and it was agreed, that in proportion to her former greatness, the fall of Rome was the more awful and deplorable. "Her primeval state, such as she might appear in a remote age, when Evander entertained the stranger of Troy, [3] has been delineated by the fancy of Virgil. This Tarpeian rock was then a savage and solitary thicket: in the time of the poet, it was crowned with the golden roofs of a temple; the temple is overthrown, the gold has been pillaged, the wheel of fortune has accomplished her revolution, and the sacred ground is again disfigured with thorns and brambles. The hill of the Capitol, on which we sit, was formerly the head of the Roman empire, the citadel of the earth, the terror of kings; illustrated by the footsteps of so many triumphs, enriched with the spoils and tributes of so many nations. This spectacle of the world, how is it fallen! how changed! how defaced! The path of victory is obliterated by vines, and the benches of the senators are concealed by a dunghill. Cast your eyes on the Palatine hill, and seek among the shapeless and enormous fragments the marble theatre, the obelisks, the colossal statues, the porticos of Nero's palace: survey the other hills of the city, the vacant space is interrupted only by ruins and gardens. The forum of the Roman people, where they assembled to enact their laws and elect their magistrates, is now enclosed for the cultivation of pot-herbs, or thrown open for the reception of swine and buffaloes. The public and private edifices, that were founded for eternity, lie prostrate, naked, and broken, like the limbs of a mighty giant; and the ruin is the more visible, from the stupendous relics that have survived the injuries of time and fortune." [4]

[Footnote 101: It should be Pope Martin the Fifth. See Gibbon's own note, ch. lxv, note 51 and Hobhouse, Illustrations of Childe Harold, p. 155.—M.]

[Footnote 1: I have already (notes 50, 51, on chap. lxv.) mentioned the age, character, and writings of Poggius; and particularly noticed the date of this elegant moral lecture on the varieties of fortune.]

[Footnote 2: Consedimus in ipsis Tarpeiae arcis ruinis, pone ingens portae cujusdam, ut puto, templi, marmoreum limen, plurimasque passim confractas columnas, unde magna ex parte prospectus urbis patet, (p. 5.)]

[Footnote 3: AEneid viii. 97—369. This ancient picture, so artfully introduced, and so exquisitely finished, must have been highly interesting to an inhabitant of Rome; and our early studies allow us to sympathize in the feelings of a Roman.]

[Footnote 4: Capitolium adeo.... immutatum ut vineae in senatorum subsellia successerint, stercorum ac purgamentorum receptaculum factum. Respice ad Palatinum montem..... vasta rudera.... caeteros colles perlustra omnia vacua aedificiis, ruinis vineisque oppleta conspicies, (Poggius, de Varietat. Fortunae p. 21.)]

These relics are minutely described by Poggius, one of the first who raised his eyes from the monuments of legendary, to those of classic, superstition. [5] 1.Besides a bridge, an arch, a sepulchre, and the pyramid of Cestius, he could discern, of the age of the republic, a double row of vaults, in the salt-office of the Capitol, which were inscribed with the name and munificence of Catulus. 2. Eleven temples were visible in some degree, from the perfect form of the Pantheon, to the three arches and a marble column of the temple of Peace, which Vespasian erected after the civil wars and the Jewish triumph. 3. Of the number, which he rashly defines, of seven therm, or public baths, none were sufficiently entire to represent the use and distribution of the several parts: but those of Diocletian and Antoninus Caracalla still retained the titles of the founders, and astonished the curious spectator, who, in observing their solidity and extent, the variety of marbles, the size and multitude of the columns, compared the labor and expense with the use and importance. Of the baths of Constantine, of Alexander, of Domitian, or rather of Titus, some vestige might yet be found. 4. The triumphal arches of Titus, Severus, and Constantine, were entire, both the structure and the inscriptions; a falling fragment was honored with the name of Trajan; and two arches, then extant, in the Flaminian way, have been ascribed to the baser memory of Faustina and Gallienus. [501] 5. After the wonder of the Coliseum, Poggius might have overlooked small amphitheatre of brick, most probably for the use of the praetorian camp: the theatres of Marcellus and Pompey were occupied in a great measure by public and private buildings; and in the Circus, Agonalis and Maximus, little more than the situation and the form could be investigated. 6. The columns of Trajan and Antonine were still erect; but the Egyptian obelisks were broken or buried. A people of gods and heroes, the workmanship of art, was reduced to one equestrian figure of gilt brass, and to five marble statues, of which the most conspicuous were the two horses of Phidias and Praxiteles. 7. The two mausoleums or sepulchres of Augustus and Hadrian could not totally be lost: but the former was only visible as a mound of earth; and the latter, the castle of St. Angelo, had acquired the name and appearance of a modern fortress. With the addition of some separate and nameless columns, such were the remains of the ancient city; for the marks of a more recent structure might be detected in the walls, which formed a circumference of ten miles, included three hundred and seventy-nine turrets, and opened into the country by thirteen gates.

[Footnote 5: See Poggius, p. 8—22.]

[Footnote 501: One was in the Via Nomentana; est alter praeterea Gallieno principi dicatus, ut superscriptio indicat, Via Nomentana. Hobhouse, p. 154. Poggio likewise mentions the building which Gibbon ambiguously says be "might have overlooked."—M.]

This melancholy picture was drawn above nine hundred years after the fall of the Western empire, and even of the Gothic kingdom of Italy. A long period of distress and anarchy, in which empire, and arts, and riches had migrated from the banks of the Tyber, was incapable of restoring or adorning the city; and, as all that is human must retrograde if it do not advance, every successive age must have hastened the ruin of the works of antiquity. To measure the progress of decay, and to ascertain, at each aera, the state of each edifice, would be an endless and a useless labor; and I shall content myself with two observations, which will introduce a short inquiry into the general causes and effects. 1. Two hundred years before the eloquent complaint of Poggius, an anonymous writer composed a description of Rome. [6] His ignorance may repeat the same objects under strange and fabulous names. Yet this barbarous topographer had eyes and ears; he could observe the visible remains; he could listen to the tradition of the people; and he distinctly enumerates seven theatres, eleven baths, twelve arches, and eighteen palaces, of which many had disappeared before the time of Poggius. It is apparent, that many stately monuments of antiquity survived till a late period, [7] and that the principles of destruction acted with vigorous and increasing energy in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 2. The same reflection must be applied to the three last ages; and we should vainly seek the Septizonium of Severus; [8] which is celebrated by Petrarch and the antiquarians of the sixteenth century. While the Roman edifices were still entire, the first blows, however weighty and impetuous, were resisted by the solidity of the mass and the harmony of the parts; but the slightest touch would precipitate the fragments of arches and columns, that already nodded to their fall.

[Footnote 6: Liber de Mirabilibus Romae ex Registro Nicolai Cardinalis de Arragonia in Bibliotheca St. Isidori Armario IV., No. 69. This treatise, with some short but pertinent notes, has been published by Montfaucon, (Diarium Italicum, p. 283—301,) who thus delivers his own critical opinion: Scriptor xiiimi. circiter saeculi, ut ibidem notatur; antiquariae rei imperitus et, ut ab illo aevo, nugis et anilibus fabellis refertus: sed, quia monumenta, quae iis temporibus Romae supererant pro modulo recenset, non parum inde lucis mutuabitur qui Romanis antiquitatibus indagandis operam navabit, (p. 283.)]

[Footnote 7: The Pere Mabillon (Analecta, tom. iv. p. 502) has published an anonymous pilgrim of the ixth century, who, in his visit round the churches and holy places at Rome, touches on several buildings, especially porticos, which had disappeared before the xiiith century.]

[Footnote 8: On the Septizonium, see the Memoires sur Petrarque, (tom. i. p. 325,) Donatus, (p. 338,) and Nardini, (p. 117, 414.)]

After a diligent inquiry, I can discern four principal causes of the ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. I. The injuries of time and nature. II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians. III. The use and abuse of the materials. And, IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.

I. The art of man is able to construct monuments far more permanent than the narrow span of his own existence; yet these monuments, like himself, are perishable and frail; and in the boundless annals of time, his life and his labors must equally be measured as a fleeting moment. Of a simple and solid edifice, it is not easy, however, to circumscribe the duration. As the wonders of ancient days, the pyramids [9] attracted the curiosity of the ancients: a hundred generations, the leaves of autumn, have dropped [10] into the grave; and after the fall of the Pharaohs and Ptolemies, the Caesars and caliphs, the same pyramids stand erect and unshaken above the floods of the Nile. A complex figure of various and minute parts to more accessible to injury and decay; and the silent lapse of time is often accelerated by hurricanes and earthquakes, by fires and inundations. The air and earth have doubtless been shaken; and the lofty turrets of Rome have tottered from their foundations; but the seven hills do not appear to be placed on the great cavities of the globe; nor has the city, in any age, been exposed to the convulsions of nature, which, in the climate of Antioch, Lisbon, or Lima, have crumbled in a few moments the works of ages into dust. Fire is the most powerful agent of life and death: the rapid mischief may be kindled and propagated by the industry or negligence of mankind; and every period of the Roman annals is marked by the repetition of similar calamities. A memorable conflagration, the guilt or misfortune of Nero's reign, continued, though with unequal fury, either six or nine days. [11] Innumerable buildings, crowded in close and crooked streets, supplied perpetual fuel for the flames; and when they ceased, four only of the fourteen regions were left entire; three were totally destroyed, and seven were deformed by the relics of smoking and lacerated edifices. [12] In the full meridian of empire, the metropolis arose with fresh beauty from her ashes; yet the memory of the old deplored their irreparable losses, the arts of Greece, the trophies of victory, the monuments of primitive or fabulous antiquity. In the days of distress and anarchy, every wound is mortal, every fall irretrievable; nor can the damage be restored either by the public care of government, or the activity of private interest. Yet two causes may be alleged, which render the calamity of fire more destructive to a flourishing than a decayed city. 1. The more combustible materials of brick, timber, and metals, are first melted or consumed; but the flames may play without injury or effect on the naked walls, and massy arches, that have been despoiled of their ornaments. 2. It is among the common and plebeian habitations, that a mischievous spark is most easily blown to a conflagration; but as soon as they are devoured, the greater edifices, which have resisted or escaped, are left as so many islands in a state of solitude and safety. From her situation, Rome is exposed to the danger of frequent inundations. Without excepting the Tyber, the rivers that descend from either side of the Apennine have a short and irregular course; a shallow stream in the summer heats; an impetuous torrent, when it is swelled in the spring or winter, by the fall of rain, and the melting of the snows. When the current is repelled from the sea by adverse winds, when the ordinary bed is inadequate to the weight of waters, they rise above the banks, and overspread, without limits or control, the plains and cities of the adjacent country. Soon after the triumph of the first Punic war, the Tyber was increased by unusual rains; and the inundation, surpassing all former measure of time and place, destroyed all the buildings that were situated below the hills of Rome. According to the variety of ground, the same mischief was produced by different means; and the edifices were either swept away by the sudden impulse, or dissolved and undermined by the long continuance, of the flood. [13] Under the reign of Augustus, the same calamity was renewed: the lawless river overturned the palaces and temples on its banks; [14] and, after the labors of the emperor in cleansing and widening the bed that was encumbered with ruins, [15] the vigilance of his successors was exercised by similar dangers and designs. The project of diverting into new channels the Tyber itself, or some of the dependent streams, was long opposed by superstition and local interests; [16] nor did the use compensate the toil and cost of the tardy and imperfect execution. The servitude of rivers is the noblest and most important victory which man has obtained over the licentiousness of nature; [17] and if such were the ravages of the Tyber under a firm and active government, what could oppose, or who can enumerate, the injuries of the city, after the fall of the Western empire? A remedy was at length produced by the evil itself: the accumulation of rubbish and the earth, that has been washed down from the hills, is supposed to have elevated the plain of Rome, fourteen or fifteen feet, perhaps, above the ancient level; [18] and the modern city is less accessible to the attacks of the river. [19]

[Footnote 9: The age of the pyramids is remote and unknown, since Diodorus Siculus (tom. i l. i. c. 44, p. 72) is unable to decide whether they were constructed 1000, or 3400, years before the clxxxth Olympiad. Sir John Marsham's contracted scale of the Egyptian dynasties would fix them about 2000 years before Christ, (Canon. Chronicus, p. 47.)]

[Footnote 10: See the speech of Glaucus in the Iliad, (Z. 146.) This natural but melancholy image is peculiar to Homer.]

[Footnote 11: The learning and criticism of M. des Vignoles (Histoire Critique de la Republique des Lettres, tom. viii. p. 47—118, ix. p. 172—187) dates the fire of Rome from A.D. 64, July 19, and the subsequent persecution of the Christians from November 15 of the same year.]

[Footnote 12: Quippe in regiones quatuordecim Roma dividitur, quarum quatuor integrae manebant, tres solo tenus dejectae: septem reliquis pauca testorum vestigia supererant, lacera et semiusta. Among the old relics that were irreparably lost, Tacitus enumerates the temple of the moon of Servius Tullius; the fane and altar consecrated by Evander praesenti Herculi; the temple of Jupiter Stator, a vow of Romulus; the palace of Numa; the temple of Vesta cum Penatibus populi Romani. He then deplores the opes tot victoriis quaesitae et Graecarum artium decora.... multa quae seniores meminerant, quae reparari nequibant, (Annal. xv. 40, 41.)]

[Footnote 13: A. U. C. 507, repentina subversio ipsius Romae praevenit triumphum Romanorum.... diversae ignium aquarumque clades pene absumsere urbem Nam Tiberis insolitis auctus imbribus et ultra opinionem, vel diuturnitate vel maguitudine redundans, omnia Romae aedificia in plano posita delevit. Diversae qualitates locorum ad unam convenere perniciem: quoniam et quae segnior inundatio tenuit madefacta dissolvit, et quae cursus torrentis invenit impulsa dejecit, (Orosius, Hist. l. iv. c. 11, p. 244, edit. Havercamp.) Yet we may observe, that it is the plan and study of the Christian apologist to magnify the calamities of the Pagan world.]

[Footnote 14:

Vidimus flavum Tiberim, retortis Littore Etrusco violenter undis, Ire dejectum monumenta Regis Templaque Vestae. (Horat. Carm. I. 2.)

If the palace of Numa and temple of Vesta were thrown down in Horace's time, what was consumed of those buildings by Nero's fire could hardly deserve the epithets of vetustissima or incorrupta.]

[Footnote 15: Ad coercendas inundationes alveum Tiberis laxavit, ac repurgavit, completum olim ruderibus, et aedificiorum prolapsionibus coarctatum, (Suetonius in Augusto, c. 30.)]

[Footnote 16: Tacitus (Annal. i. 79) reports the petitions of the different towns of Italy to the senate against the measure; and we may applaud the progress of reason. On a similar occasion, local interests would undoubtedly be consulted: but an English House of Commons would reject with contempt the arguments of superstition, "that nature had assigned to the rivers their proper course," &c.]

[Footnote 17: See the Epoques de la Nature of the eloquent and philosophic Buffon. His picture of Guyana, in South America, is that of a new and savage land, in which the waters are abandoned to themselves without being regulated by human industry, (p. 212, 561, quarto edition.)]

[Footnote 18: In his travels in Italy, Mr. Addison (his works, vol. ii. p. 98, Baskerville's edition) has observed this curious and unquestionable fact.]

[Footnote 19: Yet in modern times, the Tyber has sometimes damaged the city, and in the years 1530, 1557, 1598, the annals of Muratori record three mischievous and memorable inundations, (tom. xiv. p. 268, 429, tom. xv. p. 99, &c.) * Note: The level of the Tyber was at one time supposed to be considerably raised: recent investigations seem to be conclusive against this supposition. See a brief, but satisfactory statement of the question in Bunsen and Platner, Roms Beschreibung. vol. i. p. 29.—M.]

II. The crowd of writers of every nation, who impute the destruction of the Roman monuments to the Goths and the Christians, have neglected to inquire how far they were animated by a hostile principle, and how far they possessed the means and the leisure to satiate their enmity. In the preceding volumes of this History, I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion; and I can only resume, in a few words, their real or imaginary connection with the ruin of ancient Rome. Our fancy may create, or adopt, a pleasing romance, that the Goths and Vandals sallied from Scandinavia, ardent to avenge the flight of Odin; [20] to break the chains, and to chastise the oppressors, of mankind; that they wished to burn the records of classic literature, and to found their national architecture on the broken members of the Tuscan and Corinthian orders. But in simple truth, the northern conquerors were neither sufficiently savage, nor sufficiently refined, to entertain such aspiring ideas of destruction and revenge. The shepherds of Scythia and Germany had been educated in the armies of the empire, whose discipline they acquired, and whose weakness they invaded: with the familiar use of the Latin tongue, they had learned to reverence the name and titles of Rome; and, though incapable of emulating, they were more inclined to admire, than to abolish, the arts and studies of a brighter period. In the transient possession of a rich and unresisting capital, the soldiers of Alaric and Genseric were stimulated by the passions of a victorious army; amidst the wanton indulgence of lust or cruelty, portable wealth was the object of their search; nor could they derive either pride or pleasure from the unprofitable reflection, that they had battered to the ground the works of the consuls and Caesars. Their moments were indeed precious; the Goths evacuated Rome on the sixth, [21] the Vandals on the fifteenth, day: [22] and, though it be far more difficult to build than to destroy, their hasty assault would have made a slight impression on the solid piles of antiquity. We may remember, that both Alaric and Genseric affected to spare the buildings of the city; that they subsisted in strength and beauty under the auspicious government of Theodoric; [23] and that the momentary resentment of Totila [24] was disarmed by his own temper and the advice of his friends and enemies. From these innocent Barbarians, the reproach may be transferred to the Catholics of Rome. The statues, altars, and houses, of the daemons, were an abomination in their eyes; and in the absolute command of the city, they might labor with zeal and perseverance to erase the idolatry of their ancestors. The demolition of the temples in the East [25] affords to them an example of conduct, and to us an argument of belief; and it is probable that a portion of guilt or merit may be imputed with justice to the Roman proselytes. Yet their abhorrence was confined to the monuments of heathen superstition; and the civil structures that were dedicated to the business or pleasure of society might be preserved without injury or scandal. The change of religion was accomplished, not by a popular tumult, but by the decrees of the emperors, of the senate, and of time. Of the Christian hierarchy, the bishops of Rome were commonly the most prudent and least fanatic; nor can any positive charge be opposed to the meritorious act of saving or converting the majestic structure of the Pantheon. [26] [261]

[Footnote 20: I take this opportunity of declaring, that in the course of twelve years, I have forgotten, or renounced, the flight of Odin from Azoph to Sweden, which I never very seriously believed, (vol. i. p. 283.) The Goths are apparently Germans: but all beyond Caesar and Tacitus is darkness or fable, in the antiquities of Germany.]

[Footnote 21: History of the Decline, &c., vol. iii. p. 291.]

[Footnote 22:———————————vol. iii. p. 464.]

[Footnote 23:———————————vol. iv. p. 23—25.]

[Footnote 24:———————————vol. iv. p. 258.]

[Footnote 25:———————————vol. iii. c. xxviii. p. 139—148.]

[Footnote 26: Eodem tempore petiit a Phocate principe templum, quod appellatur Pantheon, in quo fecit ecclesiam Sanctae Mariae semper Virginis, et omnium martyrum; in qua ecclesiae princeps multa bona obtulit, (Anastasius vel potius Liber Pontificalis in Bonifacio IV., in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. iii. P. i. p. 135.) According to the anonymous writer in Montfaucon, the Pantheon had been vowed by Agrippa to Cybele and Neptune, and was dedicated by Boniface IV., on the calends of November, to the Virgin, quae est mater omnium sanctorum, (p. 297, 298.)]

[Footnote 261: The popes, under the dominion of the emperor and of the exarchs, according to Feas's just observation, did not possess the power of disposing of the buildings and monuments of the city according to their own will. Bunsen and Platner, vol. i. p. 241.—M.]

III. The value of any object that supplies the wants or pleasures of mankind is compounded of its substance and its form, of the materials and the manufacture. Its price must depend on the number of persons by whom it may be acquired and used; on the extent of the market; and consequently on the ease or difficulty of remote exportation, according to the nature of the commodity, its local situation, and the temporary circumstances of the world. The Barbarian conquerors of Rome usurped in a moment the toil and treasure of successive ages; but, except the luxuries of immediate consumption, they must view without desire all that could not be removed from the city in the Gothic wagons or the fleet of the Vandals. [27] Gold and silver were the first objects of their avarice; as in every country, and in the smallest compass, they represent the most ample command of the industry and possessions of mankind. A vase or a statue of those precious metals might tempt the vanity of some Barbarian chief; but the grosser multitude, regardless of the form, was tenacious only of the substance; and the melted ingots might be readily divided and stamped into the current coin of the empire. The less active or less fortunate robbers were reduced to the baser plunder of brass, lead, iron, and copper: whatever had escaped the Goths and Vandals was pillaged by the Greek tyrants; and the emperor Constans, in his rapacious visit, stripped the bronze tiles from the roof of the Pantheon. [28] The edifices of Rome might be considered as a vast and various mine; the first labor of extracting the materials was already performed; the metals were purified and cast; the marbles were hewn and polished; and after foreign and domestic rapine had been satiated, the remains of the city, could a purchaser have been found, were still venal. The monuments of antiquity had been left naked of their precious ornaments; but the Romans would demolish with their own hands the arches and walls, if the hope of profit could surpass the cost of the labor and exportation. If Charlemagne had fixed in Italy the seat of the Western empire, his genius would have aspired to restore, rather than to violate, the works of the Caesars; but policy confined the French monarch to the forests of Germany; his taste could be gratified only by destruction; and the new palace of Aix la Chapelle was decorated with the marbles of Ravenna [29] and Rome. [30] Five hundred years after Charlemagne, a king of Sicily, Robert, the wisest and most liberal sovereign of the age, was supplied with the same materials by the easy navigation of the Tyber and the sea; and Petrarch sighs an indignant complaint, that the ancient capital of the world should adorn from her own bowels the slothful luxury of Naples. [31] But these examples of plunder or purchase were rare in the darker ages; and the Romans, alone and unenvied, might have applied to their private or public use the remaining structures of antiquity, if in their present form and situation they had not been useless in a great measure to the city and its inhabitants. The walls still described the old circumference, but the city had descended from the seven hills into the Campus Martius; and some of the noblest monuments which had braved the injuries of time were left in a desert, far remote from the habitations of mankind. The palaces of the senators were no longer adapted to the manners or fortunes of their indigent successors: the use of baths [32] and porticos was forgotten: in the sixth century, the games of the theatre, amphitheatre, and circus, had been interrupted: some temples were devoted to the prevailing worship; but the Christian churches preferred the holy figure of the cross; and fashion, or reason, had distributed after a peculiar model the cells and offices of the cloister. Under the ecclesiastical reign, the number of these pious foundations was enormously multiplied; and the city was crowded with forty monasteries of men, twenty of women, and sixty chapters and colleges of canons and priests, [33] who aggravated, instead of relieving, the depopulation of the tenth century. But if the forms of ancient architecture were disregarded by a people insensible of their use and beauty, the plentiful materials were applied to every call of necessity or superstition; till the fairest columns of the Ionic and Corinthian orders, the richest marbles of Paros and Numidia, were degraded, perhaps to the support of a convent or a stable. The daily havoc which is perpetrated by the Turks in the cities of Greece and Asia may afford a melancholy example; and in the gradual destruction of the monuments of Rome, Sixtus the Fifth may alone be excused for employing the stones of the Septizonium in the glorious edifice of St. Peter's. [34] A fragment, a ruin, howsoever mangled or profaned, may be viewed with pleasure and regret; but the greater part of the marble was deprived of substance, as well as of place and proportion; it was burnt to lime for the purpose of cement. [341] Since the arrival of Poggius, the temple of Concord, [35] and many capital structures, had vanished from his eyes; and an epigram of the same age expresses a just and pious fear, that the continuance of this practice would finally annihilate all the monuments of antiquity. [36] The smallness of their numbers was the sole check on the demands and depredations of the Romans. The imagination of Petrarch might create the presence of a mighty people; [37] and I hesitate to believe, that, even in the fourteenth century, they could be reduced to a contemptible list of thirty-three thousand inhabitants. From that period to the reign of Leo the Tenth, if they multiplied to the amount of eighty-five thousand, [38] the increase of citizens was in some degree pernicious to the ancient city.

[Footnote 27: Flaminius Vacca (apud Montfaucon, p. 155, 156. His memoir is likewise printed, p. 21, at the end of the Roman Antica of Nardini) and several Romans, doctrina graves, were persuaded that the Goths buried their treasures at Rome, and bequeathed the secret marks filiis nepotibusque. He relates some anecdotes to prove, that in his own time, these places were visited and rifled by the Transalpine pilgrims, the heirs of the Gothic conquerors.]

[Footnote 28: Omnia quae erant in aere ad ornatum civitatis deposuit, sed e ecclesiam B. Mariae ad martyres quae de tegulis aereis cooperta discooperuit, (Anast. in Vitalian. p. 141.) The base and sacrilegious Greek had not even the poor pretence of plundering a heathen temple, the Pantheon was already a Catholic church.]

[Footnote 29: For the spoils of Ravenna (musiva atque marmora) see the original grant of Pope Adrian I. to Charlemagne, (Codex Carolin. epist. lxvii. in Muratori, Script. Ital. tom. iii. P. ii. p. 223.)]

[Footnote 30: I shall quote the authentic testimony of the Saxon poet, (A.D. 887—899,) de Rebus gestis Caroli magni, l. v. 437—440, in the Historians of France, (tom. v. p. 180:)

Ad quae marmoreas praestabat Roma columnas, Quasdam praecipuas pulchra Ravenna dedit. De tam longinqua poterit regione vetustas Illius ornatum, Francia, ferre tibi.

And I shall add from the Chronicle of Sigebert, (Historians of France, tom. v. p. 378,) extruxit etiam Aquisgrani basilicam plurimae pulchritudinis, ad cujus structuram a Roma et Ravenna columnas et marmora devehi fecit.]

[Footnote 31: I cannot refuse to transcribe a long passage of Petrarch (Opp. p. 536, 537) in Epistola hortatoria ad Nicolaum Laurentium; it is so strong and full to the point: Nec pudor aut pietas continuit quominus impii spoliata Dei templa, occupatas arces, opes publicas, regiones urbis, atque honores magistratuum inter se divisos; (habeant?) quam una in re, turbulenti ac seditiosi homines et totius reliquae vitae consiliis et rationibus discordes, inhumani fderis stupenda societate convenirent, in pontes et mnia atque immeritos lapides desaevirent. Denique post vi vel senio collapsa palatia, quae quondam ingentes tenuerunt viri, post diruptos arcus triumphales, (unde majores horum forsitan corruerunt,) de ipsius vetustatis ac propriae impietatis fragminibus vilem quaestum turpi mercimonio captare non puduit. Itaque nunc, heu dolor! heu scelus indignum! de vestris marmoreis columnis, de liminibus templorum, (ad quae nuper ex orbe toto concursus devotissimus fiebat,) de imaginibus sepulchrorum sub quibus patrum vestrorum venerabilis civis (cinis?) erat, ut reliquas sileam, desidiosa Neapolis adornatur. Sic paullatim ruinae ipsae deficiunt. Yet King Robert was the friend of Petrarch.]

[Footnote 32: Yet Charlemagne washed and swam at Aix la Chapelle with a hundred of his courtiers, (Eginhart, c. 22, p. 108, 109,) and Muratori describes, as late as the year 814, the public baths which were built at Spoleto in Italy, (Annali, tom. vi. p. 416.)]

[Footnote 33: See the Annals of Italy, A.D. 988. For this and the preceding fact, Muratori himself is indebted to the Benedictine history of Pere Mabillon.]

[Footnote 34: Vita di Sisto Quinto, da Gregorio Leti, tom. iii. p. 50.]

[Footnote 341: From the quotations in Bunsen's Dissertation, it may be suspected that this slow but continual process of destruction was the most fatal. Ancient Rome eas considered a quarry from which the church, the castle of the baron, or even the hovel of the peasant, might be repaired.—M.]

[Footnote 35: Porticus aedis Concordiae, quam cum primum ad urbem accessi vidi fere integram opere marmoreo admodum specioso: Romani postmodum ad calcem aedem totam et porticus partem disjectis columnis sunt demoliti, (p. 12.) The temple of Concord was therefore not destroyed by a sedition in the xiiith century, as I have read in a MS. treatise del' Governo civile di Rome, lent me formerly at Rome, and ascribed (I believe falsely) to the celebrated Gravina. Poggius likewise affirms that the sepulchre of Caecilia Metella was burnt for lime, (p. 19, 20.)]

[Footnote 36: Composed by AEneas Sylvius, afterwards Pope Pius II., and published by Mabillon, from a MS. of the queen of Sweden, (Musaeum Italicum, tom. i. p. 97.)

Oblectat me, Roma, tuas spectare ruinas: Ex cujus lapsu gloria prisca patet. Sed tuus hic populus muris defossa vetustis Calcis in obsequium marmora dura coquit. Impia tercentum si sic gens egerit annos Nullum hinc indicium nobilitatis erit.]

[Footnote 37: Vagabamur pariter in illa urbe tam magna; quae, cum propter spatium vacua videretur, populum habet immensum, (Opp p. 605 Epist. Familiares, ii. 14.)]

[Footnote 38: These states of the population of Rome at different periods are derived from an ingenious treatise of the physician Lancisi, de Romani Cli Qualitatibus, (p. 122.)]

IV. I have reserved for the last, the most potent and forcible cause of destruction, the domestic hostilities of the Romans themselves. Under the dominion of the Greek and French emperors, the peace of the city was disturbed by accidental, though frequent, seditions: it is from the decline of the latter, from the beginning of the tenth century, that we may date the licentiousness of private war, which violated with impunity the laws of the Code and the Gospel, without respecting the majesty of the absent sovereign, or the presence and person of the vicar of Christ. In a dark period of five hundred years, Rome was perpetually afflicted by the sanguinary quarrels of the nobles and the people, the Guelphs and Ghibelines, the Colonna and Ursini; and if much has escaped the knowledge, and much is unworthy of the notice, of history, I have exposed in the two preceding chapters the causes and effects of the public disorders. At such a time, when every quarrel was decided by the sword, and none could trust their lives or properties to the impotence of law, the powerful citizens were armed for safety, or offence, against the domestic enemies whom they feared or hated. Except Venice alone, the same dangers and designs were common to all the free republics of Italy; and the nobles usurped the prerogative of fortifying their houses, and erecting strong towers, [39] that were capable of resisting a sudden attack. The cities were filled with these hostile edifices; and the example of Lucca, which contained three hundred towers; her law, which confined their height to the measure of fourscore feet, may be extended with suitable latitude to the more opulent and populous states. The first step of the senator Brancaleone in the establishment of peace and justice, was to demolish (as we have already seen) one hundred and forty of the towers of Rome; and, in the last days of anarchy and discord, as late as the reign of Martin the Fifth, forty-four still stood in one of the thirteen or fourteen regions of the city. To this mischievous purpose the remains of antiquity were most readily adapted: the temples and arches afforded a broad and solid basis for the new structures of brick and stone; and we can name the modern turrets that were raised on the triumphal monuments of Julius Caesar, Titus, and the Antonines. [40] With some slight alterations, a theatre, an amphitheatre, a mausoleum, was transformed into a strong and spacious citadel. I need not repeat, that the mole of Adrian has assumed the title and form of the castle of St. Angelo; [41] the Septizonium of Severus was capable of standing against a royal army; [42] the sepulchre of Metella has sunk under its outworks; [43] [431] the theatres of Pompey and Marcellus were occupied by the Savelli and Ursini families; [44] and the rough fortress has been gradually softened to the splendor and elegance of an Italian palace. Even the churches were encompassed with arms and bulwarks, and the military engines on the roof of St. Peter's were the terror of the Vatican and the scandal of the Christian world. Whatever is fortified will be attacked; and whatever is attacked may be destroyed. Could the Romans have wrested from the popes the castle of St. Angelo, they had resolved by a public decree to annihilate that monument of servitude. Every building of defence was exposed to a siege; and in every siege the arts and engines of destruction were laboriously employed. After the death of Nicholas the Fourth, Rome, without a sovereign or a senate, was abandoned six months to the fury of civil war. "The houses," says a cardinal and poet of the times, [45] "were crushed by the weight and velocity of enormous stones; [46] the walls were perforated by the strokes of the battering-ram; the towers were involved in fire and smoke; and the assailants were stimulated by rapine and revenge." The work was consummated by the tyranny of the laws; and the factions of Italy alternately exercised a blind and thoughtless vengeance on their adversaries, whose houses and castles they razed to the ground. [47] In comparing the days of foreign, with the ages of domestic, hostility, we must pronounce, that the latter have been far more ruinous to the city; and our opinion is confirmed by the evidence of Petrarch. "Behold," says the laureate, "the relics of Rome, the image of her pristine greatness! neither time nor the Barbarian can boast the merit of this stupendous destruction: it was perpetrated by her own citizens, by the most illustrious of her sons; and your ancestors (he writes to a noble Annabaldi) have done with the battering-ram what the Punic hero could not accomplish with the sword." [48] The influence of the two last principles of decay must in some degree be multiplied by each other; since the houses and towers, which were subverted by civil war, required by a new and perpetual supply from the monuments of antiquity. [481]

[Footnote 39: All the facts that relate to the towers at Rome, and in other free cities of Italy, may be found in the laborious and entertaining compilation of Muratori, Antiquitates Italiae Medii AEvi, dissertat. xxvi., (tom. ii. p. 493—496, of the Latin, tom.. p. 446, of the Italian work.)]

[Footnote 40: As for instance, templum Jani nunc dicitur, turris Centii Frangipanis; et sane Jano impositae turris lateritiae conspicua hodieque vestigia supersunt, (Montfaucon Diarium Italicum, p. 186.) The anonymous writer (p. 285) enumerates, arcus Titi, turris Cartularia; arcus Julii Caesaris et Senatorum, turres de Bratis; arcus Antonini, turris de Cosectis, &c.]

[Footnote 41: Hadriani molem.... magna ex parte Romanorum injuria.... disturbavit; quod certe funditus evertissent, si eorum manibus pervia, absumptis grandibus saxis, reliqua moles exstisset, (Poggius de Varietate Fortunae, p. 12.)]

[Footnote 42: Against the emperor Henry IV., (Muratori, Annali d' Italia, tom. ix. p. 147.)]

[Footnote 43: I must copy an important passage of Montfaucon: Turris ingens rotunda.... Caeciliae Metellae.... sepulchrum erat, cujus muri tam solidi, ut spatium perquam minimum intus vacuum supersit; et Torre di Bove dicitur, a boum capitibus muro inscriptis. Huic sequiori aevo, tempore intestinorum bellorum, ceu urbecula adjuncta fuit, cujus mnia et turres etiamnum visuntur; ita ut sepulchrum Metellae quasi arx oppiduli fuerit. Ferventibus in urbe partibus, cum Ursini atque Columnenses mutuis cladibus perniciem inferrent civitati, in utriusve partis ditionem cederet magni momenti erat, (p. 142.)]

[Footnote 431: This is inaccurately expressed. The sepulchre is still standing See Hobhouse, p. 204.—M.]

[Footnote 44: See the testimonies of Donatus, Nardini, and Montfaucon. In the Savelli palace, the remains of the theatre of Marcellus are still great and conspicuous.]

[Footnote 45: James, cardinal of St. George, ad velum aureum, in his metrical life of Pope Celestin V., (Muratori, Script. Ital. tom. i. P. iii. p. 621, l. i. c. l. ver. 132, &c.)

Hoc dixisse sat est, Romam caruisee Senatu Mensibus exactis heu sex; belloque vocatum (vocatos) In scelus, in socios fraternaque vulnera patres; Tormentis jecisse viros immania saxa; Perfodisse domus trabibus, fecisse ruinas Ignibus; incensas turres, obscuraque fumo Lumina vicino, quo sit spoliata supellex.]

[Footnote 46: Muratori (Dissertazione sopra le Antiquita Italiane, tom. i. p. 427—431) finds that stone bullets of two or three hundred pounds' weight were not uncommon; and they are sometimes computed at xii. or xviii cantari of Genoa, each cantaro weighing 150 pounds.]

[Footnote 47: The vith law of the Visconti prohibits this common and mischievous practice; and strictly enjoins, that the houses of banished citizens should be preserved pro communi utilitate, (Gualvancus de la Flamma in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. xii. p. 1041.)]

[Footnote 48: Petrarch thus addresses his friend, who, with shame and tears had shown him the mnia, lacerae specimen miserable Romae, and declared his own intention of restoring them, (Carmina Latina, l. ii. epist. Paulo Annibalensi, xii. p. 97, 98.)

Nec te parva manet servatis fama ruinis Quanta quod integrae fuit olim gloria Romae Reliquiae testantur adhuc; quas longior aetas Frangere non valuit; non vis aut ira cruenti Hostis, ab egregiis franguntur civibus, heu! heu' ————Quod ille nequivit (Hannibal.) Perficit hic aries.]

[Footnote 481: Bunsen has shown that the hostile attacks of the emperor Henry the Fourth, but more particularly that of Robert Guiscard, who burned down whole districts, inflicted the worst damage on the ancient city Vol. i. p. 247.—M.]



Chapter LXXI: Prospect Of The Ruins Of Rome In The Fifteenth Century.—Part II

These general observations may be separately applied to the amphitheatre of Titus, which has obtained the name of the Coliseum, [49] either from its magnitude, or from Nero's colossal statue; an edifice, had it been left to time and nature, which might perhaps have claimed an eternal duration. The curious antiquaries, who have computed the numbers and seats, are disposed to believe, that above the upper row of stone steps the amphitheatre was encircled and elevated with several stages of wooden galleries, which were repeatedly consumed by fire, and restored by the emperors. Whatever was precious, or portable, or profane, the statues of gods and heroes, and the costly ornaments of sculpture which were cast in brass, or overspread with leaves of silver and gold, became the first prey of conquest or fanaticism, of the avarice of the Barbarians or the Christians. In the massy stones of the Coliseum, many holes are discerned; and the two most probable conjectures represent the various accidents of its decay. These stones were connected by solid links of brass or iron, nor had the eye of rapine overlooked the value of the baser metals; [50] the vacant space was converted into a fair or market; the artisans of the Coliseum are mentioned in an ancient survey; and the chasms were perforated or enlarged to receive the poles that supported the shops or tents of the mechanic trades. [51] Reduced to its naked majesty, the Flavian amphitheatre was contemplated with awe and admiration by the pilgrims of the North; and their rude enthusiasm broke forth in a sublime proverbial expression, which is recorded in the eighth century, in the fragments of the venerable Bede: "As long as the Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome will fall; when Rome falls, the world will fall." [52] In the modern system of war, a situation commanded by three hills would not be chosen for a fortress; but the strength of the walls and arches could resist the engines of assault; a numerous garrison might be lodged in the enclosure; and while one faction occupied the Vatican and the Capitol, the other was intrenched in the Lateran and the Coliseum. [53]

[Footnote 49: The fourth part of the Verona Illustrata of the marquis Maffei professedly treats of amphitheatres, particularly those of Rome and Verona, of their dimensions, wooden galleries, &c. It is from magnitude that he derives the name of Colosseum, or Coliseum; since the same appellation was applied to the amphitheatre of Capua, without the aid of a colossal statue; since that of Nero was erected in the court (in atrio) of his palace, and not in the Coliseum, (P. iv. p. 15—19, l. i. c. 4.)]

[Footnote 50: Joseph Maria Suares, a learned bishop, and the author of a history of Praeneste, has composed a separate dissertation on the seven or eight probable causes of these holes, which has been since reprinted in the Roman Thesaurus of Sallengre. Montfaucon (Diarium, p. 233) pronounces the rapine of the Barbarians to be the unam germanamque causam foraminum. * Note: The improbability of this theory is shown by Bunsen, vol. i. p. 239.—M.]

[Footnote 51: Donatus, Roma Vetus et Nova, p. 285. Note: Gibbon has followed Donatus, who supposes that a silk manufactory was established in the xiith century in the Coliseum. The Bandonarii, or Bandererii, were the officers who carried the standards of their school before the pope. Hobhouse, p. 269.—M.]

[Footnote 52: Quamdiu stabit Colyseus, stabit et Roma; quando cadet Coly seus, cadet Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus, (Beda in Excerptis seu Collectaneis apud Ducange Glossar. Med. et Infimae Latinitatis, tom. ii. p. 407, edit. Basil.) This saying must be ascribed to the Anglo-Saxon pilgrims who visited Rome before the year 735 the aera of Bede's death; for I do not believe that our venerable monk ever passed the sea.]

[Footnote 53: I cannot recover, in Muratori's original Lives of the Popes, (Script Rerum Italicarum, tom. iii. P. i.,) the passage that attests this hostile partition, which must be applied to the end of the xiith or the beginning of the xiith century. * Note: "The division is mentioned in Vit. Innocent. Pap. II. ex Cardinale Aragonio, (Script. Rer. Ital. vol. iii. P. i. p. 435,) and Gibbon might have found frequent other records of it at other dates." Hobhouse's Illustrations of Childe Harold. p. 130.—M.]

The abolition at Rome of the ancient games must be understood with some latitude; and the carnival sports, of the Testacean mount and the Circus Agonalis, [54] were regulated by the law [55] or custom of the city. The senator presided with dignity and pomp to adjudge and distribute the prizes, the gold ring, or the pallium, [56] as it was styled, of cloth or silk. A tribute on the Jews supplied the annual expense; [57] and the races, on foot, on horseback, or in chariots, were ennobled by a tilt and tournament of seventy-two of the Roman youth. In the year one thousand three hundred and thirty-two, a bull-feast, after the fashion of the Moors and Spaniards, was celebrated in the Coliseum itself; and the living manners are painted in a diary of the times. [58] A convenient order of benches was restored; and a general proclamation, as far as Rimini and Ravenna, invited the nobles to exercise their skill and courage in this perilous adventure. The Roman ladies were marshalled in three squadrons, and seated in three balconies, which, on this day, the third of September, were lined with scarlet cloth. The fair Jacova di Rovere led the matrons from beyond the Tyber, a pure and native race, who still represent the features and character of antiquity. The remainder of the city was divided as usual between the Colonna and Ursini: the two factions were proud of the number and beauty of their female bands: the charms of Savella Ursini are mentioned with praise; and the Colonna regretted the absence of the youngest of their house, who had sprained her ankle in the garden of Nero's tower. The lots of the champions were drawn by an old and respectable citizen; and they descended into the arena, or pit, to encounter the wild bulls, on foot as it should seem, with a single spear. Amidst the crowd, our annalist has selected the names, colors, and devices, of twenty of the most conspicuous knights. Several of the names are the most illustrious of Rome and the ecclesiastical state: Malatesta, Polenta, della Valle, Cafarello, Savelli, Capoccio, Conti, Annibaldi, Altieri, Corsi: the colors were adapted to their taste and situation; the devices are expressive of hope or despair, and breathe the spirit of gallantry and arms. "I am alone, like the youngest of the Horatii," the confidence of an intrepid stranger: "I live disconsolate," a weeping widower: "I burn under the ashes," a discreet lover: "I adore Lavinia, or Lucretia," the ambiguous declaration of a modern passion: "My faith is as pure," the motto of a white livery: "Who is stronger than myself?" of a lion's hide: "If am drowned in blood, what a pleasant death!" the wish of ferocious courage. The pride or prudence of the Ursini restrained them from the field, which was occupied by three of their hereditary rivals, whose inscriptions denoted the lofty greatness of the Colonna name: "Though sad, I am strong:" "Strong as I am great:" "If I fall," addressing himself to the spectators, "you fall with me;"—intimating (says the contemporary writer) that while the other families were the subjects of the Vatican, they alone were the supporters of the Capitol. The combats of the amphitheatre were dangerous and bloody. Every champion successively encountered a wild bull; and the victory may be ascribed to the quadrupeds, since no more than eleven were left on the field, with the loss of nine wounded and eighteen killed on the side of their adversaries. Some of the noblest families might mourn, but the pomp of the funerals, in the churches of St. John Lateran and St. Maria Maggiore, afforded a second holiday to the people. Doubtless it was not in such conflicts that the blood of the Romans should have been shed; yet, in blaming their rashness, we are compelled to applaud their gallantry; and the noble volunteers, who display their magnificence, and risk their lives, under the balconies of the fair, excite a more generous sympathy than the thousands of captives and malefactors who were reluctantly dragged to the scene of slaughter. [59]

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