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Pageant of the Popes, by John Farrow, [1942], at

Sixteenth Century

Italy and France and Spain all struggled to control the next conclave and the latter two powers did not hesitate to try and enlist the aid of Caesar Borgia. But happily the sinister creature was not as active at this important time as he could have been; for he was yet weak from his illness. "I had counted on the death of my father and had made every preparation for it," he lamented, "but it never occurred to me that I should have at the same time to fight death myself." However he threw his influence to favor the candidate of the French king. But to thwart him there now returned to Rome, after an exile of nearly ten years, the antagonist of his father, the experienced and veteran Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere who, friendly though he himself had been with the French, warned the cardinals that if a Frenchman were elected the papacy faced the danger of being returned to Avignon. There seemed then every chance of a deadlock but this prospect was so distasteful to the Sacred College that a name hitherto not mentioned was quickly presented and acclaimed and a month after Alexander's death the Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini, nephew of Pius II, became Pope Pius

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[paragraph continues] III. He was sixty-four years old and was a hopeless invalid; this latter circumstance was probably the real reason that won for him the votes of the conclave for his tenure was expected to be short. Nor were the macabre expectations disappointed. He died in less than a month but during that brief time displayed much charity and kindness and announced reform to be his aim.

There was no deadlock at the next conclave for by bargain and by bribe Cardinal della Rovere secured for himself thirty-seven of the thirty-eight votes in proceedings that did not extend a full day. After long years he had finally won the tiara and triumphantly taking the name of Julius II he set out to restore the strength and possessions of the Papal States. This was no easy task, for Alexander had left a sad confusion of debts and trouble, and great properties rightfully belonging to the Church were in the clutches of his son. The Republic of Venice was noisily claiming Romagna, Spain was occupying Sicily and Naples, and the French, ever resolved to maintain a foothold in Italy were willing to resort to arms against any who would oppose them. Julius had been given a domain bankrupt in treasury and bereft of defence but not for nothing had he earned the description of terrible. He was possessed of enormous physical strength and had the courage of a lion, and his will and determination matched both these qualities. His abilities were those of a warrior statesman rather than those of an ecclesiastic but they were talents appreciated by the Romans at this time. He was not a saint and three daughters were testimony that his earlier life had been no better than that of other Renaissance prelates; but, although he had a few relations in high places, the charge of nepotism has never been levelled against him. He won, it is true, elevation to the chair of St. Peter by dubious tactics but once enthroned he acted

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only for the betterment, as he saw it, of that which had been placed in his care. In spite of his considerable years he was possessed of a driving energy. "No one has any influence over him," reported the Venetian Ambassador. "He consults few or none. Anything he has been thinking of overnight has to be carried out immediately the next morning, and he insists on doing everything himself. It is impossible to describe how headstrong and violent and difficult to manage he is. Everything about him is on a magnificent scale. There is nothing in him that is small or meanly selfish. Whatever is in his mind must be carried through, even if he himself were to perish in the attempt."

He despised the name of Borgia yet at the beginning of his reign there was no rupture with Caesar Borgia because of a pact made before his election. At that time he had made sure there would be no opposition from any quarter and Caesar Borgia might have possessed some influence with those cardinals who owed their preferment to his father. But when he became Pope the ill begotten territories of the wicked Duke were included in his program of independence via restoration. Venice had designs on these properties also and there was long disagreement with that Republic. "From the beginning of Our reign," the Doge of Venice was informed, "it has been Our steadfast purpose to restore to the Church the territories of which she has been despoiled; to this We hold fast, and shall ever do so . . . Nothing shall induce Us to desist from demanding the restitution of these places . . . Therefore We again admonish your Highness with all paternal kindness, and command you in the name of the Lord to do freely and at once that which in justice you are bound to do." The Venetians were obstinate but in the end Julius was victorious and the banner of the Papal States was unfurled again over the coveted places. Meanwhile the decline of

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[paragraph continues] Caesar Borgia was startlingly rapid and the man who had been so flamboyantly master of all Italy soon found himself without friends or troops. Julius placed him under a form of arrest and then he was released but only to be imprisoned again. After a captivity of two years he escaped and a few months later was killed whilst fighting with the army of his French brother-in-law.

The intrepid and impatient Pope would allow nothing to stand in the way of his plans and he marched with his troops and led them to victory at Orvieto and Perugia and Urbino. Other times the fortunes of war would turn but he was no poltroon and to the despair of less hardy members of his suite he would remain with the warriors, sharing their dangers and discomforts and inspiring them with example. To fit his policies he made and discarded allies as quickly as he made decisions and so the French were invited to assist him vanquish the Venetians and in turn, when the French became too demanding, he enlisted the support of other nations including the Venetians, to drive the French back to France. Before his election he had promised the cardinals that they should have some rights of consultation but any projected opposition from this body was made ineffectual by the creation at various times of twenty-seven new cardinals. A few discontented wearers of the Red Hat were induced by two irate monarchs, Louis XII of France and the Emperor Maximilian, to a foolish rebellion. Both rulers, with designs of their own upon Italy, were alarmed at the Pope's attempts at independence and at their instigation the renegade cardinals convoked a Council at Pisa. The scheme was a pitiful failure. A small number of churchmen did finally assemble but the townspeople were so hostile that the pseudo-Council was forced to adjourn and continue its futile mummery at another place. The world was weary

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of this brand of schism and the activities of the rebels never achieved importance save as a temporary annoyance to the Pope. It might have been otherwise if the French had gained the final victory and indeed for a gloomy time it appeared they would. A series of brilliant successes were achieved by the soldiers of Louis, aided by those of the Emperor, and there was strong likelihood that Rome would be sacked. Further gloom came when the strain imposed upon the overworked Pope had the expected result and he was stricken by an illness so grievous that the physicians pronounced his recovery impossible. Arrangements were made for his funeral and a panic descended upon the city when the news was known. "Never," wrote the Venetian Ambassador, "has there been such a clang of arms round the death-bed of any former Pope; never has the danger been greater than it is now. May God help us!"

To the amazement of all and to the dismay of his enemies the Pope recovered and quickly restored order to Rome with an iron hand. He was not yet discouraged and with typical determination he set out to win even at this apparently hopeless stage. And win he did for by extraordinary diplomatic skill he succeeded in inducing Maximilian to withdraw his support and separate his troops from the French army. Furthermore the Emperor, suddenly alarmed at the prospect of a French-controlled Italy, permitted Swiss soldiers to pass through his dominions. The Swiss had come in answer to the Pope's pleas and it was they who decisively routed the French. A wild joy prevailed in Rome and thunderous adulation was heard when Julius returned to the Vatican. "Never," reported the observant Venetian envoy, "was any Emperor or victorious general so honored on his entry into Rome as the Pope has been today."

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Julius II. Reigned 1503 to 1513.

Pope Julius II.
Click to enlarge

Pope Julius II.

This is the man who climbed up on the scaffolding to argue with Michael Angelo. See pages 229 to 235.

No details seem to miss the attention of this prodigious worker. The vexations and colossal labors of his martial campaigns and political efforts did not hinder a keen interest in the establishment of the bishoprics in the New World; a legate from an important court, a soldier with news from the army, a missionary returned from a remote place, all alike received his rapt interest. Laws and statutes were examined with meticulous care and the machinery of civil law was made less cumbersome. Roads and bridges were built or repaired throughout the Papal States and long needed measures were taken to protect the farmers and their crops from the avarice of the overlords and from the depredations of their soldiery. No matter how great the burden of his anxieties the Pope somehow in the interest of his subjects found the time to write such letters as he wrote to one of his governors: "A citizen of Bertinoro has complained to the Pope that the Castellan has taken wood from him and injured him in other ways. Let the Castellan and his abettors be punished without fail and take care that no harm comes to the complainant."

Nor did the realm of art escape the interest of the amazing man. Surpassed even were the examples of predecessors in this respect and his intense antipathy to all things connected with the Borgia name did not prevent him from continuing with projects commenced in Alexander's reign. Bramanti, the architect, was given the task of rebuilding St. Peter's basilica into a structure vast and magnificent and it was the beginning of the great edifice which stands today. Michael Angelo was called to Rome and the world is aware of the splendid results produced by that inspired summons. The genius of Rafael and the prowess of his gifted colleagues flowered under the warmth of papal encouragement and subsidy. Julius had a rare sympathy for the artistic mind and he understood well, as he put it, "the

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humors of such men of genius." When Michael Angelo had rushed from Rome in a rage swearing that he would leave his work uncompleted an astonished and shocked official in Florence told him, "You have behaved towards the Pope in a way that the King of France himself would not have ventured upon. There must be an end of this. We are not going to be dragged into a war, and risk the whole state for you. Go back to Rome." The obstinate artist took his time but finally returned and when he appeared before Julius a prelate thought to save him from the expected wrath by pleading, "Your Holiness should not be so hard on this fault of Michael Angelo; he is a man who has never been taught good manners, these artists do not know how to behave, they understand nothing but their art." The Pope turned the full force of his anger upon the unfortunate cleric. "You venture," he roared, "to say to this man things I should not have dreamt of saying. It is you who have not manners. Get out of my sight, you miserable, ignorant clown." From this time on there were no great differences between the Pope and the great man of art, although there were many noisy arguments. Court attendants would marvel at the sight of their formidable master abandoning all dignity and clambering up the dusty scaffolding which festooned the Sistine Chapel. A grimy hand to help him would be extended by the busy genius, sometimes irritated at being interrupted, and there the two would discuss the details and progress of the superb frescoes.

After Julius had secured temporal strength and independence and brought order and prosperity to the States of the Church his restless mind became occupied with the gigantic problem of sorely needed Church reform. He had already issued a pungent bull against simony in papal elections and now he assembled in Rome, after a year of careful

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preparation, a heavily attended Council of the Church. By this time the exhausted and aged pontiff was nearing his end but what he wished to say was read by a cardinal. The congregated dignitaries of all nations were told frankly the critical time had come when drastic measures had to be taken to correct the dreadful state of Church discipline. Would that he had lived longer to employ the full force of his vigor on this project. But his time was run and he was soon on his death bed. Even there the great, if imperfect Pope, weakened though he was, behaved as his usual self, calmly giving the necessary instructions for his funeral, uttering measured words of farewell to his weeping friends, and arranging prayers to be said for his soul. He then died and "Rome felt that the soul which had passed from her had been of royal mould," recorded a friend. "I have lived forty years in this city, but never yet have I seen such a vast throng at the funeral of any former Pope. The guards were overpowered by the crowds insisting on kissing the dead man's feet. Weeping they prayed for his soul, calling him a true Pope and Vicar of Christ, a pillar of justice, a zealous promoter of the Apostolic Church, an enemy and queller of tyrants."

The Bull against simony was read aloud at the next conclave and such elaborate precautions were taken to prevent the odious practice that no suspicion of this nature can darken the memory of the next pope, the thirty-eight year old Giovanni de Medici who became Leo X. Certainly a factor to contribute heavily to his winning the majority of the votes was his membership in the powerful Florentine family: although it is true that his life was without scandal and it is also true that to fit him for high ecclesiastical rank he had received a special and comprehensive education from a carefully selected group of distinguished tutors. He was the son of one of the most

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strong and colourful figures of the Renaissance, Lorenzo de Medici, the ruler of Florence who was called the Magnificent. At thirteen years of age he had been given the dignity of the cardinalate although up to the time of his elevation to the papacy the extent of his clerical progress was a deacon's orders. After receiving the acclaim of the conclave he was ordained priest, consecrated bishop two days later, and then solemnly and with splendor given the tiara on the steps of the now half demolished Basilica of St. Peter.

The debris of the broken structure was a strangely fitting background for his coronation because the rebuilding of this edifice provided the incident which in this reign was to bring unparalleled sorrow and disaster to the Catholic Church. To provide the funds for the erection of the new St. Peter's, indulgences were unfortunately offered for money and in Germany an outraged Augustinian friar protested vigorously by writing a series of ninety-five theses against such abuses and nailing his manuscript to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg. The name of the friar was Martin Luther, the fateful day was the 31st of October 1517, and the historic and so tragically symbolic wielding of hammer against church door occurred in the fifth year of Leo's reign. And it was an event which, while receiving instantaneous attention throughout Germany, failed to cause alarm or immediate interest in Rome.

The storm had broken, the most critical time in the long history of the Church had arrived, and there was nought but apathy on the part of the Pope. Absorbed in the unsavory intricacies of his politics and pleasures, Leo failed to recognize the importance of Luther's initial deed and there can be little excuse for his catastrophic lethargy. There was no lack of warning. For years past the clamor

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for reform within the Church had been steadily increasing throughout Europe and matching this spirit in growth and volume was contempt for ecclesiastical authority. At the council which his predecessor had inaugurated and which had continued on into his own reign, lengthy and complicated resolutions had been proposed and accepted; but, as a layman who attended the Council complained, "We have heard a great deal about the making of laws, but very little about their observance." In many ways the new Pope seemed to resemble Alexander VI rather than Julius. His family was enriched and given favours whenever possible and his court, thronged by artists and writers and frivolous noblemen, was that of a gay and youthful prince rather than that of the Bishop of Rome. The delights of the banqueting table, the amusements of dramatic pageants, the mummery of buffoons, the thrill of the hunting field, all these things occupied the time and interest of the man who was pope when Luther began his attack and who, endowed with the tastes and principles of his family, wove a mesh of political activities which kept him continuously embroiled with the various rulers of Europe.

Deceit and treachery were the habitual characteristics of this dangerous game as played by him and consequently when he tried to raise funds for the prosecution of a new crusade, the response from the nations was mostly a cynical indifference. A Florentine statesman who frequently served and advised him was Niccolo Machiavelli whose name has endured as a synonym for subterfuge and intrigue of the basest type. So it was not unnatural that antipathy to Rome fattened upon the lavish duplicity which was presented as papal diplomacy. The unreal title of Emperor was still desired by kings and this vanity the Pope used freely in his schemes, openly supporting one

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aspirant for the historic but illusory honor while at the same time his legates would be whispering encouragement to another deluded prince. The intention behind Leo's ceaseless and complicated negotiations was to keep Spain and France and Germany from further encroachments in Italy. Once in his reign the French did attempt an invasion but they were driven back before the fury of the Swiss mercenaries. In the peace which followed it was agreed that the unsuccessful schism which had begun under French auspices at Pisa should now be abandoned and that, while the French monarch should possess the right of nomination in regard to benefices, canonical investiture could only be given by the pope.

Despite the resolutions of the recent Council clerical abuses continued and increased, and in Rome when thirty-one cardinals were made at one creation it was well known that although a few new wearers of the purple were indeed worthy men, the majority of their colleagues had openly purchased the honor. One of these was Ferdinando Ponzetti who had commenced life as a physician and who now was able to pay 30,000 ducats for his new rank. At least six wearers of the Red Hat certainly paid nothing, for this number of the Pope's relatives were so honored, and while his brother Giuliano paraded Rome with the title of Captain General of the Church, still another kinsman ruled Florence as temporal overlord. There was great discontent amongst certain of the younger cardinals who had voted for the Pope at the conclave and who felt that they had not been rewarded suitably. One of these unhappy prelates, the Cardinal Petrucci, brooding over supposed injustices, instigated a plot to murder the Pope and the condition and standard of the Sacred College at this time is shown by the dismal fact that four other of its members, including the Dean, gave their support to the

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proposed crime. A conscienceless physician was bribed to commit the murder while attending the pontiff but fortunately for the latter, who trusted few men, a letter was intercepted and the evil scheme revealed. Swift punishment came to the physician and to Petrucci. Both were executed along with a few accomplices, but the other guilty cardinals, perhaps because of the Pope's charity or, more probably, because of the influence of powerful friends, were neither hung nor strangled but merely fined heavily, deprived of their electoral privileges, and banished from the city.

Such conditions brought strong discontent everywhere and particularly in Germany where Luther found willing audiences, not because of the soundness of his theology, but because of the appalling abuses permitted and practised by those whom he attacked. The traffic in benefices, the ceaseless appeals from Rome for money, and the harsh fact that in Germany most of the great bishoprics were possessed by scions of royalty and nobility, overshadowed the efforts of those who were desperately working for reform from within the Church. Such men there were but, as is common, virtues and good deeds were submerged beneath the vices and wrongdoings of the spectacularly wicked; and despite the many examples of sincere vocations, the lamentable state of Church discipline was a fact acknowledged and deplored on all sides. More and more the cupidity of the Roman court was being resented and a steadily increasing spirit of nationalism was adding force to this feeling. "From his own dominion," went the words of a widely circulated pamphlet, "streams of wealth flow in to the Pope as to no other Christian prince; yet we have to pay for palliums, and send asses laden with gold to Rome, and exchange gold for corn, and rest content with blood-lettings—pardon me, I mean with indulgences!

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[paragraph continues] Woe to this monster of avarice which is never satisfied! The craftiness of the Florentine discovers a thousand devices, each one more execrable than the last. Let German freedom be mindful not to become tributary, and not to pay tithes." Such sentiments as these were echoed vigorously by the type of Humanists, extreme and violently anti-Christian, who at this time possessed great influence in the German universities. Their brand of philosophy frankly glorified paganism and of course viewed all activities of the Church with repugnance and contempt. "The Pope is a bandit," wrote one of the leaders of this movement, "and the Church is his army."

About this time a youthful but powerful prince in Holy Orders, the Elector Albert of Brandenburg, already Archbishop of Magdeburg and Administrator of the See of Halberstadt, was made Archbishop of Mayence. He wished to retain his former sees and after much negotiation with the papal representative he was allowed to do so but on the condition he pay a fee of fourteen thousand ducats besides a special tax of ten thousand of the same coin. It was a shameful transaction but not even yet complete. A banker, Jacob Fugger, advanced the over-beneficed prince the ready gold and then to enable settlement of the banker's loan, Albert was given the privilege of proclaiming the grant of St. Peter's Indulgence through his territories on the terms that he should share equally with Rome all funds so collected.

In an age when bribery and simony were to be found in high places, it is not surprising that the granting of indulgences should sometimes be tainted by mercenary consideration although the doctrine of the Church leaves no doubt as to the invalidity of any accepted with the knowledge of such an arrangement. The term Indulgence is derived from the Latin indulgere meaning to be kind 

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and it is an excellent explanation for, as defined by the Church in the XIII century, an indulgence is the remission of temporal punishment due to sin after guilt has been forgiven. It is Catholic teaching that even after the guilt of a sin has been forgiven, there may still remain due to the justice of God some measure of punishment (called temporal to distinguish it from the eternal punishment of sin not forgiven because not repented). It is with this temporal punishment, and not with the sin or its guilt, that the Indulgence is concerned. To earn such a favor the suppliant must, in addition to possessing the habitual intention, be in that state of grace which is achieved by true repentance and sincere confession and by the performance of good works such as prayer and charitable undertakings. There are partial indulgences which remit, as the name implies, only in part and there are plenary indulgences which, given by the Pope alone, cancel all temporal punishment due to sin. There are indulgences for the living and those for the dead which actually, because departed souls are of course beyond the Church's jurisdiction, are nothing more than solemn requests for the divine mercy. An indulgence had been proclaimed in the reign of Pope Julius for those who, in addition to fulfilling the usual requirements of penance and contrition, should contribute to the rebuilding of St. Peter's. Because of the eager and none too scrupulous manner in which the monies were gathered and because of the intense and mounting anti-Roman feeling already strong in Germany, there were grave and spirited protests from that country when Leo X, upon becoming Pope, not only renewed the same indulgence but thought by means of it to gather even greater sums for his treasury.

The warnings were unheeded and after prolonged bickering the disgraceful arrangement with Albert of Mayence

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was concluded. The next step towards disaster came when the latter placed the responsibility of bringing the fateful Indulgence to the people in the hands of John Tetzel, a Dominican orator who had considerable experience in such enterprises and who was well known for his skill in gathering the lucre. It was a reputation not at all popular and even one of his brother Dominicans wrote angrily of him that he "devised unheard-of means of making money. He was far too liberal in conferring offices; he put up far too many public crosses in towns and villages, which causes scandal and breeds complaints among the people." This man now embarked upon the money raising campaign, for that is what it frankly was, with more zeal than doctrinal authority; for while he did not err in naming the requirements necessary to obtain indulgences for the living, he did make the mistake of declaring those for the dead could be gained by money alone. His statement was clearly contrary to the doctrines of the Church and the leading theologian of the time, the Cardinal Cajetan, was vehemently positive on the subject of such erroneous teachings. "Preachers speak in the name of the Church," said he, "only so long as they proclaim the doctrine of Christ and His Church; but if, for purposes of their own, they teach that about which they know nothing, and which is only their own imagination they must not be accepted as mouth pieces of the Church. No one must be surprised if such as these fall into error."

Tetzel's route took him to Wittenberg where the district vicar and university lecturer, a thirty-four year old Augustinian priest named Martin Luther, impatiently awaited him with strong opinions and an able pen. Luther had once made a journey to Rome and although at that time he displayed no symptoms of displeasure he later claimed he had been disillusioned and angered at what he

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had seen. By nature he was deeply impressionable as well as self confident and strong willed. His adoption of the clerical state had not been the result of long and careful consideration but was because the sudden death of a close friend who had been destined for the priesthood convinced him he should take his place. This was done against the earnest pleas of his father, for the young Luther had studied for the law, a process involving hardship and sacrifice both to him and his family who were of humble circumstance. After his reception into monastic life the approval of his superiors encouraged his studies and conduct, and at the age of twenty-five he had become a professor at the new university of Wittenberg. Any measure of success is apt to be a hazard to the restraints of discipline and the academic triumphs of the young monk proved a dangerous stimulant to a proud and stubborn nature. In many ways he resembled Savonarola and even his vocabulary was marked by a similar bitter violence. "Knaves, dolts, pigs, asses, infernal blasphemers" were terms he hurled at his opponents with the harsh emphasis akin to that which had stirred the congregations of Florence. But where the Italian had been content to attack the person of a Pope and had not questioned the authority of the Church, the German was to take this fatal step and make denial and offer challenge to orthodox dogma. His "Ninety-five Theses" were nailed to the church door and soon all Germany rocked with the altercation which followed.

Tetzel, unlike many other churchmen, immediately realized the dangers underlying Luther's attack, and he countered with a carefully prepared work in which he emphasized that the affair was not a matter of indulgences alone but because of it "many will be led to despise the authority and supremacy of the Pope and the Holy

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[paragraph continues] Roman See." His apprehension did not disturb the equanimity of the Curia or bring any vigorous action from the hierarchy. Luther sent a copy of his theses to the Metropolitan who on the advice of his counsellors referred the matter to Rome with an accompanying letter which expressed the hope "that His Holiness would grasp the situation so as to meet the error at once, as occasion offers and as the exigency requires and not lay the responsibility on us."

The apparatus of correction and discipline moved slowly and ineffectually while the new movement, as yet not organized or recognized as such, spread with the rapidity of a fierce and sudden conflagration. The dislike held for Rome and the political and social state of Germany all made for the cause of Luther. The nobles coveted the properties of the Church. The intellectuals, dominated and excited by the Humanist movement, were delighted at an opportunity to destroy the conventional religion. And the peasantry, told of Roman iniquities in the most inflammatory terms, were given the chimerical hope that the new order would better their miserable lot. In the year following the gesture at Wittenberg the Pope instructed the Vicar General of the Augustinians to silence the unruly monk; but Luther disregarded such measures and anticipating excommunication boldly preached that the sentence would be futile because "the real communion of the Church was invisible and that no one could be affected by it." A few months later the Emperor Maximilian, now thoroughly alarmed by the numbers and attitude of the priest's adherents, .wrote to the Pope and declared serious measures should be immediately taken to quell him. Canonical processes commenced and Luther was summoned to Rome; but the only answer was the publication of a series of new pamphlets filled with heresy.

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A Legate, the gentle and learned Cardinal Cajetan, went to Germany where after some difficulty Luther consented to meet him but would give no retractation. At intervals there were further negotiations with other emissaries and there were public debates with such skilled theologians as Johann Eck defending orthodoxy. Sometimes it seemed reconciliation might be possible, for often it was Luther's mood that he would not break with Rome and at these times he would profess obedience to the Pope. But never would he make retractation or express sorrow for his past actions; and as his words grew fiercer the hope became irretrievably lost and there remained only one road for his proud and stubborn nature to follow. Irrevocably he was committed to rebellion and with the full and powerful influence of the Humanists strong upon him politics gradually crowded theology to a lesser position in his sermons. Liberty and patriotism are the unfailing slogan of the revolutionary and to these inflammatory words was now added the name of the Gospel. "Liberty! Fatherland! Gospel!" The battlecry was made. "I have cast the die," he boasted, "I now despise the rage of the Romans as much as I do their favor. I will not reconcile myself to them for all eternity . . . If a thief is punished by a halter, a murderer by the sword, and a heretic by fire, why should not we, with all our weapons attack these teachers of corruption, these Popes, Cardinals, and all the rabble of the Roman Sodom, and wash our hands in their blood."

Thirty-two months after the incident at Wittenberg a Bull was issued by Leo condemning forty-one propositions extracted from the writings of Luther and excommunicating him unless he retracted within sixty days. But by now the Friar was firmly entrenched in Germany and had gained the protection of a powerful prince, the Elector

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of Saxony. Scornfully the claims of discipline were dismissed and with ceremony and to the cheers of the populace he publicly burned the Bull and told the students of Wittenberg that "It is now full time the Pope himself is burned. My meaning is that the Papal chair, its false teachings, and its abominations, should be given to the flames." The parchment burned brightly and the crowd roared lusty approval; and in the lurid glow of the noisy scene Protestantism thus became a fact although it was not until a decade later that the name came into use. This was at the Diet of Speyer where it was resolved that the new religion was established but that its adherents must not interfere with or hinder Catholic worship. The followers of Luther protested vigorously at the tolerant decree and hence the term, Protestant.

Leo died after a reign of eight years and before him the Emperor Maximilian had gone also. He was succeeded by his grandson, Charles of Spain. Henry VIII of England had been a candidate for the Imperial honor and at the long conclave which proceeded the election of the next Pope the name of Henry's counsellor, the great Cardinal Wolsey, received serious consideration. However, the Medici family was resolved that a cousin of Leo should secure the ballots and possibly to avert the evils of deadlock an unexpected name was finally announced, that of the Cardinal Adrian Dedel who in keeping his own name as Pope Adrian VI was to break a two hundred year old tradition. The fact that he possessed the friendship and respect of the new Emperor must have influenced the decision of the cardinals but it was a decision certainly not sought by the man whom it favored. He had not attended the conclave and it was with reluctance that he embarked upon the journey from Spain to accept the responsibilities of the tiara. Born at Utrecht in Holland he was the son

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of a shipwright and by ability and diligence had risen to the position of tutor to the young Charles who was impressed by his talents and his honesty and who never had reason to change the opinion. Successive and successful stages of advancement had eventually brought the Netherlander to the high position of Viceroy in Spain and now had come the Papacy. It was eight months before he was crowned in Rome and it was with coldness that the people of the City greeted him for he was in every way utterly unlike the great prince prelates to whom they were accustomed. Pomp he detested, flattery too, and those noisy and undisciplined crowds of artists and poets and merchants who had fattened on the generosity of former reigns quickly discovered that papal patronage had ceased to be. No lavish court or costly pageants or feasts and games or chances for easy or dubious riches could be expected during the time of this scrupulous northerner who earnestly desired reform and a united and tranquil Christendom. These were his aims, together with plans for a crusade against the Turks who had already won the island of Rhodes, but the obstacles he had inherited seemed insurmountable; he was too late and perhaps it was this realization that hastened his end. He died less than two years after his election.

The Romans received a pope more suited to their taste in the person of his successor for this time the plans of the Medici were triumphant. Giulio de Medici, cousin of Leo X, took his place as Clement VII. It was not an easy victory, for the Emperor, the Kings of France and England, the Italian factions, all had their candidates and the conclave lasted fifty days. The struggle for ballots was most lively and for a while it again seemed as though the Englishman, Wolsey, might win; but the supporters of the Medici redoubled their efforts and enlarged their

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promises and so won the majority necessary for their candidate.

Unfortunately he was in no way equal to the responsibilities and burdens of the great position. He was a cultured and handsome man of fifty-six and was possessed of a grace of manner and ability expected of his birth and breeding. But these values were not sufficient to cope with the complex problems, both temporal and spiritual, which now confronted the papacy and disturbed the world. From the beginning misfortune attended his venturings in the intricate and dubious intrigues which constituted the diplomacy of his day. The Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France were at war and the Pope adopted a faltering policy of pseudo-neutrality which under the existing circumstances was neither possible nor sincere and which quickly lost him the respect of both princes. Francis repelled a German invasion on his own soil and then marched to enforce his claims in Italy; but at Pavia the Imperial troops engaged again and this time the French were beaten and their monarch taken prisoner. Hopes for a united Christendom had been woefully shattered when, before this battle, the French king, made desperate by impending defeat, had tried unsuccessfully to make an alliance with the Turks. As a prisoner he concluded a treaty of surrender with Charles but the terms were harsh and secretly he plotted to form a new combine. In an effort to escape Teutonic dominance the Milanese and Venetians were susceptible to the arguments of this would-be ally of the Turk and so unfortunately was the Pope.

When the Emperor learned of the covert negotiations his rage was kindled and soon his troops, a wild and long unpaid army of German and Spanish mercenaries, were unleashed upon the Papal States. Rome was defended with spirit and the commander of the attacking forces was

Leo X. Reigned 1513 to 1521.

Pope Leo X.
Click to enlarge

Pope Leo X.

Machiavelli advised him: Luther defied him. See pages 235 to 246.

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killed but a breach was made in the walls and the city, so rich a prize, was open to a horde of ruffians savagely hungry for loot. All vestiges of discipline disappeared during orgies of killing, burning, sacrilege, and rape which followed. For centuries the sack of Rome had been the terror of those who feared the Turk. It was now a horrible fact but the despoilers of the churches and defilers of the altars did not carry the insignia of Islam. They called themselves Christians and their absent master proudly flaunted Charlemagne's grandiose title, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The Pope and seven of his cardinals fled to a fortress at Orvieto and there remained for many long months; and when he did return to the city it was a ruined and broken landscape which saddened his eye and spirit. He was forced to a peace with Charles and on Imperial terms. Thus papal dignity was sacrificed when the Pope obeyed and travelled to Bologna where with the pomp of ancient ceremony he presided at the Imperial coronation. Another journey made at royal behest and destined to bear great and grave consequences was his voyage to France when his niece married the Duke of Or- leans. It was an opportunity not neglected for the French monarch to discuss many momentous matters, including the historic demand from across the channel that the marriage of Henry VIII and his Queen be dissolved. Francis made plea for the English king and even hinted of the danger to the papacy of incurring a united French and English enmity. The Pope listened and was aware of the peril but he also remembered that the unwanted wife was the niece of the Emperor Charles.

Henry had married Catherine of Aragon, the young widow of his sickly elder brother, after special permission had been granted by Rome on the grounds that the first marriage had never been consummated. Five children

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had been born of this union between Spanish Princess and English King but only one survived, Mary, later to be Queen. That the popular and gifted Henry had no sympathy for Luther is a well known story for with a great flourish he banned the Reformer's books from England and composed, with the aid of his divines, the famous treatise in Latin, A Defence of the Seven Sacraments against Martin Luther. In return he received violent abuse from the monk but also the gratitude of the Pope in the form of a title, Defender of the Faith, an honor which was not relinquished for Henry never considered any deed of his to be Protestant in act or intent. Seventeen years he had lived with Catherine before he developed scruples regarding the validity of their marriage and these stirrings were not the product of a stern conscience or sincere canonical doubt but were born of an illicit if not obscure love affair. It would seem that all any man could desire on earth had been Henry's inheritance for not only did the favor of exalted birth give him rank and possessions but he was also superbly endowed in physique and mind. It was natural he should receive vast measure of adulation and flattery and perhaps it was equally natural he should fall prey to such subtle poisons. Maturity usually remedies the weaknesses of adolescence with that kind of sagacity which is born of time and pain, but on those occasions when the circumstances of life are made too easy the passing of years merely serves to ripen the young fruit to rot.

So it was with Henry, whose intelligence and body were subjected to temptation in numerous and elaborate forms of enticement and cunning. Self-discipline faded away and the noble ideals of youth became dim and distorted before the capricious demands of gluttony and sensual appetite. One of his mistresses had been Mary

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[paragraph continues] Boleyn and it was her sister Anne, who inflamed his fickle passion and distorted his judgment to such a degree that he became determined she should be his Queen. Eventually he made her so, but not with the sanction of the Pope and this fact stands out, cold and clear, from the morass of intrigue and procrastination which accompanied the royal folly. For six years the headstrong monarch tried by all means possible to win the necessary permission and the complicated negotiations which took place leave little credit to either side. Proceedings dragged on and papal and royal emissaries travelled busily to and fro, laden with the appurtenances of mystery and plot. Hopes were falsely kindled and threats rashly made. Universities were bribed to give opinions in favor of the divorce and crowds of servile courtiers masquerading as prelates eagerly and without shame prostituted their faith and their learning to assure the enamoured monarch that his conduct was correct. Counsellors of this mould even suggested that a solution of the problem would be for the Pope to grant a special dispensation allowing Henry to possess two wives! When the infatuated prince finally made Anne a Marchioness and took her to France where she was presented as the future Queen of England the Pope was forced to action. He threatened excommunication to both if they did not separate. The new Marchioness was pregnant but before her child was born a marriage ceremony was performed and the crown was placed atop her comely head amidst scenes of formal splendour.

The time, long dreaded by the timid and procrastinating Pope, had arrived and to his honour he remained firm and true to dignity and responsibility. The loss of allegiance to papal authority in Europe had been devastating and now England's loyalty could be kept at the cost of one divorce. Temptation must have been great but with clarity

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the final decision was pronounced in Rome; Catherine was the lawful wife of the English King. Persistent and contemptible attempts had been made upon the unfortunate woman by her deluded husband to have her resign her rights, but no argument or humiliation could wring from her an admission that the long years of her married life had been merely a term of concubinage and that their daughter, Mary, was illegitimate.

King and Queen met before a court of bishops and Catherine spoke with the calm dignity of a faithful wife and good mother. "I take God and all the world to witness that I have been to you a true, humble, and obedient wife, ever comportable to your will and touch . . ." Only once did she pause and then her voice became lower. "This twenty years or more I have been your true wife, and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them from this world . . . And when he had me at the first, I take God to be my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether this be true or no, I put it to your conscience." Pressure was exerted to have her enter a convent and take vows but despite her great piety the cloisters were also rejected. Anne might occupy the royal bed but Catherine knew she was wife and Queen and no act of Henry could change the fact. This was the attitude firmly maintained to her death when with superb charity she wrote to her "Dear husband and King" and gave him her forgiveness. "For the rest, I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I solicit the wages due them and a year more, lest they be improvided

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for. Lastly, I make this vow, that my eyes desire you above all things."

Because of the failure of the divorce proceedings in Rome the mighty Wolsey lost the favor of his master and after a rapid series of degradations was charged with High Treason. A natural death intervened to save him from a shameful end and before he expired he uttered the pathetic words which were long to be remembered. "If I had served God as diligently as I have done my King, He would not now have given me over in my grey hairs." With the aid of evil Thomas Cromwell, master architect of terror, Henry made himself supreme head of the Church in England and with bloody prodigality the block and the gallows were invoked against the many who would not admit of this presumption. England's greatest Chancellor, the scholar who held the esteem of all Europe, joined the march to the scaffold. "I die," Thomas More said, "the King's good servant, but God's first." Monasteries were suppressed, churches and shrines robbed, yet the outward forms of religion were not changed in Henry's time: his rejection of papal authority brought no sympathy or tolerance for Protestantism or its author.

It was different on the continent. The Scandinavian countries were fast adopting Lutheranism, and Switzerland was falling under the influence of a similar-minded and equally eloquent ex-priest, Zwingli. In France the harsh and melancholy doctrines of Calvin were being given attention and in Hungary the prayers of the faithful were disturbed by the dreary wail of muezzins, calling to Allah, for the Turks had become masters of that country and a triumphant Mohammedan army even possessed Vienna.

After eleven unhappy years as Pope, Clement died unexpectedly, leaving both his spiritual and temporal domains in chaotic condition. His unfortunate pontificate marked

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the end of the Renaissance and had witnessed the birth of the so-called Reformation; but it also cradled the stirrings of a real reformation within the Church for great forces and good men were at work with a sincerity and zeal and genius which could not be denied success. The Lateran Council had been warned that "men must be transformed by religion, not religion by men" and these words typified the new spirit. A unity of belief might have been lost but the faith that remained was to be the sturdier because of surviving the storms of doubt and oppression. Spontaneously the new mood invigorated both the secular clergy and the ancient Orders and also caused the formation of other groups of devoted men and women who were moved to unselfish service of God and mankind. There were the Capuchins, the Clerks Regular, the Theatines, the Barnabites, the Somaschi, the Lazarists, the Sisters of Charity, the Ursulines, and others. And the same year that Pope Clement died, an ex-soldier of noble Spanish birth, Don Inigo Lopes Ricalda y Loyola, better known to history as Ignatius of Loyola, banded together a small number of similar-minded friends and communicated to them his enthusiasm and plans. Thus, in Paris, was commenced the disciplined organization which from then on has ever been an important influence in the story of the Church. The Society of Jesus was on the march.

An astonishingly rapid election brought success and fulfillment to the plans and ambitions of Alexander Farnese, Paul III, who had been a cardinal for forty years. He was sixty-six years old and was of an ancient Roman family which, in adherence to the obnoxious custom, was now to be deluged with riches and honors. His sons and daughters—for these, true child of the Renaissance that he was, he possessed—were favored in every way possible and two of his nephews, aged fourteen and sixteen, were

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promptly made cardinals at the commencement of his reign. He had been a cardinal during the reign of Alexander VI and in some respects his life followed the Borgia pattern; yet he often was to display a majesty of purpose akin to that possessed by Julius II and at other times it would seem as though he were moved by the same high motives which had guided the austere Adrian. That he had enjoyed the favour of these popes, so varying in character, and of the Medici too, is proof enough of his skill in diplomacy, apropos of which an ambassador to his court complained that an annoying and typical trait of the Pope was a "scrupulous avoidance" of ever uttering a positive "Yes" or "No." Save for his extravagant nepotism he was an extremely cautious and sagacious man and he embarked upon a policy of wily neutrality between the ever clashing schemes of the French king and the Emperor. It was a difficult policy to maintain but for the first years of his pontificate it was to have a certain if uneasy degree of success. It was unforgivable that he should have bestowed the Red Hat upon his young relatives but most other cardinals of his creation were noted for their worthiness. The English bishop, John Fisher, languishing in prison and soon to lose his head on the block was thus honored and so too was another deserving Englishman, Reginald Pole, a cousin of Henry VIII, who was in Italy and so safe from the ire of his vindictive kinsman.

The menace of Turkish attack was seldom absent from the cares of Paul III. Rakish craft, their lateen sails emblazoned with the Crescent, their decks crammed with blood-hungry warriors, had become a terror to shipping in the Mediterranean until the Emperor, at the behest of the Pope and with money and galleys from the same source, stormed the piratical stronghold at Tunis and administered a thorough and salutary defeat. But when

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war, despite the urgent entreaties of the pontiff, broke out again between France and Spain and the Emperor's troops became occupied in that direction, Barbarossa, daring chief of the Mohammedan buccaneers, recommenced his depredations upon the Italian coast and it became the boast of the Turkish Sultan that his seraglio would be moved to Rome. There were signs of panic in the Eternal City at this news for the potentate's announcement had strong chances of realization; but by the exercise of great and desperate ingenuity Paul caused an armistice to be declared between the Emperor and the French monarch and together they joined him in the formation of a Holy League. The Venetians, who held a treaty with the Turks, were persuaded that such a pact was wrong and they too became partners in the new alliance, and thus Rome remained unscarred by the scimitar.

Notwithstanding his own weaknesses Paul was acutely aware of other and less tangible evils which were besieging the papacy and with acrimony the more worldly of his cardinals were told "they should set an example to others by reforming themselves." To introduce peace and authority into the babel of contemporary theological dispute and to muster a united strength against the onslaughts of the papacy's antagonists Paul III made careful plans for the convocation of a General Council, for he was of the opinion that the voice of a Council was needed to reaffirm and clarify ancient dogma and to endorse authority. The scheme was commendable and simple in thought but in actual execution fraught with difficulty and danger. His own temporal strength was negligible and he had no wish, and there was the danger, for any one sovereign or nation to exert influence upon the decision of so important a body under the guise of patronage or protection. Prejudice and patronage must be avoided and the judgments of the

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[paragraph continues] Fathers left unhindered. With all the genius of his diplomatic talent he fought desperately to have it so. The idea of the Council was received with enthusiasm, even by some of the Protestant princes, but as the Pope had anticipated there were many who saw the convention as an avenue for their own designs and innovations.

The support of the Emperor was necessary, indeed the approval of all Christians was desired, and unwearyingly the Pope toiled to gain the good will of all and the interference of none. The Emperor was sincerely enthusiastic for he readily perceived that under such auspices the Empire might be strengthened; but the Pope, with wider horizons beckoning, regarded the Imperial zeal with apprehension and even despair and many conflicts arose between the two regarding the policies, the procedure, and even the location of the Council. Usually it was the patient pontiff who was victorious but not without the penalties of strife. Charles was of the opinion that ecclesiastical discipline should be the first concern of the meeting but the Pope held to his plan that questions appertaining to doctrine should be settled before the discussion of a workable policy of discipline.

After many vexations and delays the Council assembled at Trent, in the Austrian Tyrol, on the 13th December, 1543, the eleventh year of Paul's reign. Ten times it was to meet during the remaining four years of his life and it was not to be formally dissolved, although on several occasions it suffered interruptions and a change of scene, until 1563. The decisions made and decrees issued, defining Catholic doctrine, provided splendid support for the champions of the Counter Reformation. By this time the Reformation was rapidly flowering to full development but the Council of Trent was, by a program of practical reform and definition, able to restore vigor to orthodoxy

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and bring strength and hope to the faithful again. The storms of altercation following Luther's outburst, the long theological arguments, the many and confusing interpretations of the Gospels, the admitted need for clerical reform, had brought perplexity to many a simple priest and layman. But now all was to be made clear and the road illuminated. The dogmas of original sin, justification, the sacraments, were explained with exactitude and so too were many other subjects of attack and dispute such as the veneration of saints and the granting of indulgences. Errors in clerical conduct were not merely censured but were exhaustively examined and practical measures for removing abuses were promulgated and adopted. A system of reform was founded which could survive and indeed grow in strength. Precise in its condemnations, constructive in its suggestions, grand in its scope, the Council of Trent can rightfully be regarded as one of the great bulwarks of Catholicity. "Thus the Council," wrote the Protestant historian Ranke, "that had been so vehemently demanded, and so long evaded, that had been twice dissolved, had been shaken by so many political storms, and whose third convocation, even, had been beset with danger, closed amid the general harmony of the Catholic world . . . Henceforth Catholicism confronted the Protestant world in renovated collected vigor."

Paul III lived with all the gaudy and benevolent luxury of a Renaissance prince and Rome benefited in many ways from his generosity and his appreciation of the arts. New streets were built, churches restored, great bastions were erected, engineers worked diligently on new schemes of fortifications, and scholars toiled over the long catalogues of the Vatican library. Titian, like many a lesser colleague, was subsidized and the classic beauty of St. Peter's dome, superb symbol of the supreme authority, was raised by

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[paragraph continues] Michael Angelo. Paul III had done well and should have died content but the fruits of his nepotism made his end miserable and unhappy. An ungrateful and predatory grandson, with clamor and with violence, was claiming the duchy of Parma as his personal property. "My sin is ever before me," grieved the dying Pope. "If they had not the mastery over me, then I should have been without great offence."

It took the cardinals ten weeks to select a successor, Giovanni Ciocchi del Monte, who took the name of Julius III. For a time, at this conclave, it seemed as though the votes would go to Reginald Pole but the conscientious Englishman refused to bargain or make promises and his moment passed. Later, when Mary became Queen, Pope Julius sent him to his native country as Legate and there he officiated as Archbishop of Canterbury, the last of his faith to take that ancient title. The new Pope was friendly with the Emperor, soon to be fighting the French again, but neither alliance with that forceful ruler nor the great responsibilities of his own position gave him the confidence or strength of purpose which had characterized the previous reign. When the Protestant allies of France invaded the Tyrol and caused an adjournment of the Council of Trent, resignation to circumstances was the attitude of the Pope. He seemed overwhelmed by the number and magnitude of his problems, and frankly abandoning all pretence of active policy he retired to the peace of his gardens. Fortunately such indolence was not reflected in the toiling body of the Church for this was the time of such men as the indefatigable Jesuit, Francis Xavier, who before embarking for hostile and unknown shores cheerfully told his fellow adventurers, "The greatest trials you have until now endured are small in comparison with those you will experience in Japan. Prepare

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yourself for difficulties, by setting aside all consideration for your own interests." And later the pen of the same brave man inscribed: "I am journeying, deprived of all human protection, to the island of Canton, in the hope that a friendly heathen will take me over to the continent of China."

The pontificate of Julius III lasted five years. The next Pope was Marcellus II of whom much was expected, for as a cardinal and as a priest Marcello Pervino had earned an enviable reputation. Immediately after his enthronement he enthusiastically turned to the subject of reform and one of his first acts was to prohibit any member of his family from coming to Rome. Luxury was banned from his household and the customary elaborate ceremonies of coronation were avoided. In every way the hopes of the pious were fulfilled in the person of this pontiff but unfortunately their jubilance was brief for he was of delicate health and his reign ended abruptly, to the sorrow of all, after a mere twenty-two days. The name of Reginald Pole was mentioned again at the following conclave but he was absent in England and the Spanish influence which favored him was not strong enough to achieve its purpose. Elected instead, and after considerable balloting, was the seventy-nine-year-old Giovanni Pietro Caraffa whose advanced age showed no traces of senility—but neither had it brought that mellowness of thought and judgment which usually comes with the years.

Paul IV was a severe and bad tempered old man, somewhat eccentric in manner, who often times affected the simplicity of a monk but on other occasions could formidably play the despot. He was of the reform school and was a founder of the first congregation of Clerks Regular yet he was not exempt from the disease of nepotism and one of his first actions as pope was to bestow

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the Red Hat upon the head of his undeserving nephew, Carlo Caraffa. His support went to the French in the war with Spain; and guided by his nephew this policy brought matters to such a deplorable state that it was found necessary to employ Protestant mercenaries from Germany to protect the papal provinces from the invading army of the Duke of Alva. Meanwhile the French were defeated elsewhere and the Pope was forced to sue for peace, a costly and humiliating process for one so proud. His reign was characterized by the unbending severities of the true martinet and the punishments which came to those who crossed his will or broke the laws were as heavy as they were prompt. Eventually rumors came to him of the base conduct of his nephew and for once the ties of blood were spurned and the ungrateful and unfit wearer of the purple was expelled from Rome. Paul IV was an ardent supporter of the Inquisition, which as a cardinal he had reorganized, and wide use of its dreaded powers was made during his term. Even the Cardinal Morone, a highly respected member of the Sacred College, became enmeshed in the web of terrible accusation and to prison he went on the grounds of heresy. "Even if my own father were a heretic," said this Pope, refusing a petition for clemency, "I would gather the wood to burn him."

Reginald Pole was another object of his pessimism and suspicion but Pole was in England and had the wisdom to keep from Rome. Clergy of lesser rank looked nervously to their conduct when at one sweep a hundred vagrant monks were despatched to the galleys or to the dungeons. Mercy was a quality lacking in this stern old man and when he died, after being pope four years, the mobs rioted to show their pleasure and to hurl hatred upon his memory. Down toppled his statue to be broken and defiled and with similar demonstrations of insult and delight

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the gates of the prison of the Inquisition were swept open and the inmates released.

Nearly four months dragged by before the next conclave was concluded and devious and ugly were the intrigues which hindered the cardinals from making a quick decision. "It is not of the least consequence," wrote the obnoxious Cardinal-nephew of Paul IV, "who will be Pope, the only thing of importance is that he who is chosen should realize that he owes the dignity to the Caraffa. This house does not enjoy any favor with the Spanish or French kings, and everything therefore depends on securing the favor of the future Pope, as otherwise the ruin of the family is assured." Other Italian clans had similar ideas and in addition to their dark activities there were the schemes of the various ambassadors, all determined to secure the election of a Pope who would favor their particular national interests. In such an atmosphere the most extravagant promises were made and cunning plots formulated; the audacious Ambassador of Spain even went so far as to gain, by window or secret door, access to the quarters of cardinals, supposedly shut off from the world, and there in the dim night hours whisper his bribes and subtly phrased threats. Finally, out of the tangle of discussion, the name of the Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Medici was proclaimed and this despite the fact that but a short time previously he had disturbed the conclave by remarking during a conversation with another cardinal that, "as regards the Germans, we should have to summon a Council to see if some concessions could not be made to them with regard to the marriage of priests and Communion under both kinds." That the startling statement did not prevent him from becoming Pius IV is indicative of the understanding his colleagues had of an

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expansive nature which was tolerant and easy going to a fault.

In all ways he was unlike his dour predecessor and he was famous for his disregard of formality and ceremony, and the conduct of his private life was continually marked by homely incidents which endeared him to the public. He was a fat man and long appreciation of the pleasures of the table had brought the gout. Thinking to reduce his corpulence and nullify the encroachments of his sickness it became his habit to take long walks. These perambulations, much to the disgust of his court, were conducted at a rapid pace and for considerable distances. "Exercise," he affirmed, "maintains good health and keeps away illness, and I do not wish to die in bed." The traditional geniality which is ascribed to rotundity was indisputably his and the clouds of gloom and suspicion which had hung over Rome during the previous pontificate now disappeared. He displayed no ill-will to the arrogant nephews of Paul IV after his reception of the tiara, but their crimes were many and foul and their enemies so powerful and determined for revenge that retribution was inevitable. A particularly horrible murder within the hated family began the forces of its destruction.

The Duke of Paliano, brother of the Cardinal Carlo Caraffa, believed his wife unfaithful, and governed by extravagant ideas of honor he ordered her unfortunate supposed paramour dragged before him and then with shouts of rage he plunged his dagger again and again into the bound body of the wretch until he was dead. The drama became more horrible when the wretched Duchess, pregnant and crying her innocence, was strangled by her own brother, the Count d’Alife. That the Cardinal Carlo Caraffa was a party, by knowledge and condonement, to the bloody wickedness could not be denied and with no

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alternative possible the Pope reluctantly set the processes of accusation and judgment in motion. "If only to secure order," he said, "I have no choice but to bring the haughty nephews of Paul IV to submission." A long list of charges was prepared, varying from murder and high treason to heresy, and brought to justice was the Cardinal Carlo, his brother the Duke of Paliano, the brother-in-law the Count d'Alife, and a younger relative, the Cardinal Alphonso Caraffa. After a long trial the latter was pardoned but the others, despite their rank, were given the supreme penalty. All three faced the executioner with dignity, and a letter to his son by the fierce Duke—who was comforted by the Jesuits during his last hours—is a missive to remember because of its faith and beauty: "This paper contains, I believe, the last words and advice I shall be able to address you in this life," he wrote. "I pray God that they may be such as a father should address his only son. . . . Flee from sin and have compassion on the misery of others; practice works of piety, and flee from idleness, and conversations and pursuits which are not fitting for you; take pains to acquire some knowledge of science and letters, for these are very necessary for a true nobleman, especially for one who has power and vassals, as well as to be able to enjoy the sweet fruits of the Holy Scriptures, which are so precious for both soul and body. If you savour such fruits, then you will despise the things of this sorrowful world, and find no small consolation in the present life. I wish you to show indomitable courage at my death, not behaving like a child, but as a reasonable man, and not listening to the promptings of the flesh, or to the love of your father, or to the talk of the world. For your consolation ponder well the fact that whatever happens is ordained by the decrees of the great God, Who rules the universe with infinite wisdom, and,

Clement VII. Reigned from 1523 to 1534.

Pope Clement VII.
Click to enlarge

Pope Clement VII.

He excommunicated Henry VIII. See pages 247 to 254.

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as it appears to me, shows me great mercy by taking me hence in this manner, rather than in any other way, for which I always thank Him, as you also must do. May it only please Him to exchange this my life for that other, the false and deceitful for the true. Do not be troubled by whatever people may say or write; say to everyone: My father is dead, because God has shown him great grace, and I hope He has saved him, and granted him a better existence. Therewith I die, but you shall live, bear no one ill-will of my death."

Conciliatory measures were employed with the rulers of Europe by Pius IV, and ably representing him in many important conferences north of the Alps was the Cardinal Morone who had suffered imprisonment because of the delusions of the late pope. Nepotism was not absent from Rome for this Pope had his nephews too, but for once the custom brought glory instead of disgrace: one of these relatives was the Cardinal Charles Borromeo, a truly devout and talented character devoted to reform and good works who was, under the dispassionate scrutiny of a later generation, to be judged worthy of canonization. The goodness and ability of the young Cardinal was responsible for the resumption of the labors of the Council of Trent and in several sessions many important and historic decrees were formulated and in turn confirmed and strengthened by papal Bull. The influence of Cardinal Borromeo did not wane with the death of his uncle for happily the next pope, Pius V, a true and zealous churchman, was of a similar mind and purpose and the work of reform swept on. The new pope was the former Cardinal Michele Ghislieri. He was born of poor parents and had been a member of the Dominican Order since his early youth. As a friar he had taught and preached for twenty-eight years, then episcopal responsibilities had

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been given him and later had come the Red Hat and the stern duties of Inquisitor General under Paul IV. He had been well liked by that severe ruler and when he was given the supreme honor the people feared a return to the harsh discipline of the hated regime. There was, it is true, an immediate tightening of the laws, and justice was to move more swiftly than hitherto, but unlike his patron Pius V tempered strictness with mercy and understanding. He was determined Rome should be the model Capital of Christendom and a courtier, sighing for the riotousness of former days, complained that the entire city was taking on the air of a monastery. The courts were purged of bribery, the streets of prostitutes and thieves, and a ruthless war was made on corrupt officials and unjust taxes. The finances of the Papal States were subjected to critical and profound examination and many changes were made. When an enthusiastic official suggested a new scheme for bringing added revenues to the treasury, the Pope chided him and remarked that instead of amassing monies more thought should be given to collecting the allegiance of those nations which had broken away from the church. The papal army was reduced to a few companies, for he was averse to becoming embroiled in martial adventures; although his belief in the wide authority of the Holy See over the conduct of secular princes was unwavering.

This belief was responsible for the issuance of a Bull which excommunicated Elizabeth of England and released her subjects from their allegiance to her. The pronouncement was a mistake which only served to bring further resentment against Rome and misery to the English Catholics for the power of England was mounting, new triumphs were being won on and across the seas, and the Queen's name was tightly woven into the cloth of

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national honor and patriotism. A few years after the papal sentence sturdy seamen, Protestant and Catholic alike, cheered for their good Queen Bess and merry England when they turned their small craft to meet the Armada. The vast array of great ships was laden with the flower of Spanish chivalry and carried the papal benediction but was doomed to an utter and terrible destruction.

Ambition had not brought the tiara to Pius V and he had wept when informed of the decision of the cardinals. But once elected he worked at the great duties with unflagging energy and scrupulous honesty. It was fortunate that such a man should occupy the papacy so soon after the conclusion of the Council of Trent. The value of his administration to the decrees and decisions of the Council can be likened to the worth of a good cannon to the proper ammunition. Drastic changes were made in Rome. The Curia was reformed, the conduct of the cardinals examined and criticized, and stern measures were undertaken to make bishops reside in their sees. Such important works as the Catechism and the New Breviary and the New Missal were published, the value of seminaries was emphasized, and a vigilant eye was turned upon both the secular clergy and the Orders. One cardinal, an irresponsible creature who owed his Hat to the laxity of a previous reign, was confined in a monastery and placed under the conscientious care of Jesuit chaplains. Indeed no great fondness was held for the majority of the cardinals and once when the Pope was ill he was heard to remark that he was sorry death was approaching, not because he was afraid to face his Maker, but because he was leaving on earth a Sacred College filled with conniving and undeserving men. The acquisition of his high rank had brought no great change in the lowly circumstances of his family, most of whom were forbidden to enter

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[paragraph continues] Rome. "God has called me to be what I am, in order that I may serve the Church," he said, "and not that the Church might serve me." It is true that two nephews received his favor, if such a word can be applied to his austere patronage, but this was only because of his mistrust of the cardinals and the ceaseless intrigues kept in motion by the various ambassadors and faction leaders. In order to find a confidential secretary whose loyalty was beyond all doubt he turned to his family and thus his nephew Michele Bonelli who was also a Dominican became a cardinal. The Pope never quite forgave himself for this action and consequently made life miserable for his relative by a constant inquisitiveness as to his way of living and an equally constant criticism. The unfortunate prelate was seldom at ease and at any hour his larder, his table, his conduct, was liable to a surprise inspection from his uncle. His income was kept at a minimum, he was not allowed silver on his table, and he was even denied the consolation of his parents visiting him. His cousin, a soldier by profession, was made a Captain of the Papal Guard but from the beginning of his service he was in trouble with the Pope who expected his soldiery to live like monks. Finally the warrior, who had far different ideas, was arrested and hauled before the civil court where in the presence of his forbidding kinsman he heard that he was "to forfeit all his goods and revenues, and under pain of death to leave the Vatican within two days, the Borgo within three, and the Papal States within ten." It was a drastic sentence and nothing could induce the Pontiff to extend leniency.

Little escaped his stern eye, and the devotees of the bull fight learnt that "these spectacles, where bulls and wild beasts are baited in a circus or amphitheatre, are contrary to Christian mercy and charity, suitable to demons rather than men. We forbid all clerics, regular and secular, to

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be present. . . ." His dislike of war did not prevent him from sending ships and men to Malta where the Knights were besieged by the Turks and later his encouragement helped mould a Christian Alliance which was able to inflict a shattering and decisive defeat upon the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. Throughout his entire reign he suffered from a painful disease which was finally the cause of his death. Pain was seldom absent from his tortured body but he never complained. "Increase, O Lord, my pains," he once cried, "so long as Thou wilt increase my patience also." He was not the kind of man to court popularity and when he had been elected there had been little rejoicing. But when he died there were true tears and the streets of Rome were silent with respect. It was as he would have wished, and so passed Pius V, the last of the popes whose memory has been honored by canonization.

In less than two weeks his successor was named, the seventy-year-old Cardinal Ugo Buoncompagni, Pope Gregory XIII, who as a youth had fully enjoyed Renaissance pleasures but who had with the progress of time turned to the sterner delights of duty and reform. As prelate and papal official he had served for many years with distinction and had won considerable renown as a jurist, but neither the course of righteousness nor the possession of judicial talent prevented him on becoming pope from lavishing favors upon two nephews and a son whom he frankly acknowledged. This son was made Governor of St. Angelo while his cousins were invested with the purple. Easy-going to a fault Gregory was inferior to his predecessor; nevertheless the good works begun in the earlier reign did not cease and they continued on before an impetus steadily supplied by individual churchmen and the Orders. The great and main attack of Protestantism had been halted and a vigorous and purified

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[paragraph continues] Catholicism was on the increase. Gregory's chief accomplishments were in the field of education and no fewer than twenty-three new colleges opened their doors during his pontificate. Over two million Roman scudi were expended to help deserving but needy students and besides founding the English, German, Greek, and Maronite colleges in Rome the institution, later to be called the Gregorian College, which owed its existence to St. Ignatius was enlarged to accommodate scholars of all nations. Another inauguration to carry his name through the centuries was the calendar which supplanted the Julian calendar. Neither his relations with other sovereigns nor his temporal rule of the Papal States were blessed by good fortune and when he died after a three years' reign there were difficult problems of government and diplomacy both within and without the papal boundaries to greet his successor, Sixtus V.

The former Cardinal Felice Peretti, who as a boy had been a swineherd, was the son of a vineyard laborer and had entered the Franciscan Order in his early adolescence. In nature and bent he resembled his patrons Paul IV and Pius V rather than his immediate predecessor and from the beginning of his reign these stern traits were revealed. The brigandage and disorder which were disturbing the papal territories at the close of the former reign were stamped out by ruthless methods and by the end of his rule his temporal domain had become the most orderly in Europe and an empty treasury had become filled with gold. Imposition of new taxes accomplished this latter feat and it was not a way for him to win the cheers of either the nobles or the merchants; but he cared little for the applause of men and his only interest was his mission. The former swineherd was Pope and he was resolved to exercise without fear and with dignity the majesty

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and authority of his office in all spheres. In support of the Catholic League he excommunicated the King of Navarre, heir presumptive to the French throne, in order to prevent a Protestant from ruling a Catholic nation. It was not a popular decision in France and later the monarch, after becoming a Catholic, was as Henry IV, to make peace with another pope. Sixtus also supported Spain in that country's disastrous war with England, but despite the utmost pressure he would not endorse the Spanish King's designs upon France. Grandiose schemes were propounded by him for the complete overthrow of the Turkish Empire and he dreamed of joining the Red Sea with the Mediterranean and "thus restoring the commerce of the ancient world." Preservation of the historic beauty of Rome and additional architectural projects were tasks he assumed with enthusiasm and an ingenious system, both practical and ornamental, of nobler and wider avenues in the city was devised and commenced.

The important decree was issued in this reign which limited the membership of the Sacred College to a maximum number of seventy cardinals and these were ranked in three divisions, six bishops, fifty priests, and fourteen deacons. The rule was to stand and equalling it in importance was the bull Immensa issued by the same pope which systemized the centralized government of the Church by forming fifteen Congregations, each consisting of churchmen and officials of varying rank, to assume in specialized departments the burden of detailed administration. Thus, with no diminution of his authority, an immense amount of routine work was lifted from the person of the pope.

The five years in which Sixtus occupied the throne of St. Peter were crowded with wise and good works but there were some blemishes to mar the record—his severity and

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his nepotism. For he too succumbed to what by this time appeared to be a papal tradition and a fourteen year old relative was elevated to the cardinalate. There can be no justification for such an act; but the contemporary mind was neither surprised nor shocked, and as with former and later reigns the hateful practice was accepted by the majority of both clergy and people with that equanimity which is the due of precedent and tradition. After the death of Sixtus three worthy but ancient prelates in rapid succession and within sixteen months were elected to the papal throne. No grave mistake or scandal can assault their reputations but neither can any of the three be credited with the deeds that are born of exceptional leadership or great initiative. The same pope, Gregory XIII, had made them cardinals on the same day and they were all of an equal age, past seventy. The first to follow Sixtus was Giovanni Batista Castagna, Urban VII, noted for his charities and diplomatic skill. He reigned thirteen days and then came Nicolo Sfondrato of Cremona who in honor of his patron took the name of Gregory XIV. The policies of preceding pontificates remained unchanged during his term which did not last a year and then called was the Cardinal Giovanni Facchinetti who became Innocent IX. Within a few months he too was in his tomb and the Sacred College, after great discussion, decided that the Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini should be Pope. He took the name of Clement VII.

The choice was a bitter blow to Spanish hopes and indeed the far seeing policies of the new pontiff were to effect a tremendous change in the destiny of that country which was now at the peak of its glory. Clement "by peaceful means, little by little, without disturbance or excitement, but with all the more security," was to strengthen the independence of the papacy by effecting

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happier relations with France and this circumstance was one of the factors which halted the expansion of Spanish power and made way for the decline of a proud and great nation. During the preceding pontificates Spanish influence upon the diplomatic course of the papacy had gradually become so strong that when Clement took his throne he felt Rome was almost the vassal of Madrid. This meant that the enemies of Spain were automatically on ill terms with the Holy See and no great perception was needed by the pontiff to realize the danger of a permanent rupture with France, the most hated foe of Spain. Henry IV, master of France, had been excommunicated; but now, seeking the united allegiance of his subjects he was imploring to be readmitted to the communion of the Church. Was it the gesture of one who was alleged to have remarked "Paris is well worth a mass," or was the prince truly sincere in his repentance? It was a delicate problem for the Pope. If he were over-severe, schism would be assured and France surely would go the way of England; but if he were foolishly lenient then contempt for papal authority would grow everywhere. A constant clamor of both plea and threat came from the nations involved but the cautious and conscientious Pope trod the difficult and torturous path of negotiation with extraordinary diplomatic skill and never once was principle or scruple sacrificed. He well realized that independence of the Holy See demanded relief from the ever growing dominance of Spain and that relief was possible only with France active as a counter balance; yet the sentence of excommunication could not be lifted lightly, and often the French envoys were in despair. "Would to God," the Pope told an official, "that we could trust Henry. But what has he done to deserve absolution? . . . Is it enough that he now once makes the Sign of the Cross?"

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At length repeated argument and evidence convinced him that the prince indeed was truly penitent and with a great and solemn ceremony, and much to the consternation of Spain, the dreaded sentence was lifted. "I have no words to praise the kindness of Your Holiness as it deserves," Henry wrote with gratitude. "My life henceforth shall have no other purpose than to glorify God by meritorious obedience. . . ." The extravagant promise was never to be completely fulfilled but an alliance had been made which brought advantages to both Pope and King. France remained a Catholic country and the papacy was no longer at the mercy of the pretentious dictates of Philip II of Spain who was an absolutist and harbored ambitions of functioning as a kind of Pope-Emperor. When the Duchy of Ferrara was left empty of a legitimate heir the Spanish king presented a candidate to contest the claims of the Pope; but supported by the new friendship of France, Clement was able to remain firm and in the end the Duchy was returned to the Papal States. In pursuance of the papal dream of a united and tranquil Christendom the Pope was able on several occasions to act as a peacemaker between the nations: products of his diplomacy were the Peace of Vervins between Spain and France and the Treaty of Lyons between the latter nation and Savoy.

Next: Seventeenth Century