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II: THE BORGIAS AND THEIR LATEST HISTORIAN - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Historical Essays and Studies 
Historical Essays and Studies, by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, edited by John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907).
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THE BORGIAS AND THEIR LATEST HISTORIAN1
The Renaissance is the only epoch of history that has equal charms for idle and for thoughtful men, and stands in visibly intimate connection with the civilisation of the present time, yet beyond the range of its controversies. The interest it awakens is undisturbed by the contests that immediately followed it. Neither religious nor political differences affect the feelings with which men regard the age to which they owe the knowledge of Pagan, of Jewish, and of Christian antiquity, the formation of modern literature, and the perfection of art. The degradation which Italy suffered under native tyrants cannot prevent the pride with which she remembers the days of her national independence and her intellectual supremacy. Stores of new materials continue to be produced in uninterrupted profusion by patriotic scholars; and the way in which they modify the aspects of the fifteenth century is shown in several recent works. Zeller’s Italic et Renaissance and Reumont’s Geschichte der Stadt Rom mark the progress which has been made beyond the range of Roscoe and Sismondi. Both are well-written books, and the authors are perfectly familiar with the spirit of those brilliant times. Burckhardt’s Cultur der Renaissance in Italien is the most penetrating and subtle treatise on the history of civilisation that exists in literature; but its merit lies in the originality with which the author uses common books, rather than in actually new investigations. The last traveller over the ground is Gregorovius.
The seventh volume of his History of Mediæval Rome virtually completes his task, for it reaches the beginning of the sixteenth century. Another volume will include the age of Leo X. and terminate with the siege and devastation of the city in 1527. The work gains in breadth and variety as it proceeds, and at times it is little less than a history of the Popes. The treatment is unequal. Pius II., the ablest and most interesting pontiff of the fifteenth century, receives but little attention, probably because a voluminous life of him appeared only a few years ago. But the pontificate of Alexander VI. is described with elaborate care, and occupies great part of the volume. These chapters are amongst the best and most solid that Gregorovius has written. Continuous reports by the envoys of Florence, Venice, and Ferrara at the court of Rome enable him to emancipate himself from the trivial diarists on whom every writer since Raynaldus has been obliged to depend for the secret history of the Vatican. He is so well supplied with unpublished documents, and he employs them with so little regard for purposes of vulgar controversy, that his estimate of Alexander, which contradicts the unanimous judgment of all the contemporaries of the Pope, cannot be put aside at once, and without examination, amongst historical paradoxes. Alexander VI. is described by his latest historian as a man whose everyday mediocrity reflects the sinfulness of a godless age, whose motives were the love of pleasure and the advancement of his family, who had neither political capacity nor serious design, and whose nature was too frivolous and too passive even for ambition.1
This excessive depreciation of a man whose talents and success were the admiration of Europe in his time is not due to an irrelevant indignation at his depravity, but to the historian’s habit of avoiding the ecclesiastical part of his subject. Looking at secular and profane things only, he does not see that Alexander fills a great space in history, because he so blended his spiritual and temporal authority as to apply the resources of the one to the purposes of the other. The strain which his policy as an Italian sovereign laid on his power in the Church was fruitful of consequences in the next generation, and for all later times. His energy in making the prerogative of the Holy See profitable and exchangeable in the political market was an almost immediate cause of the revolt of Northern Europe. The system which Luther assailed was the system which Alexander VI. had completed and bequeathed to his successors. It was his work and example that Adrian meant to repudiate when he attributed the corruption of the Church to the recent usurpation and immorality of the papacy.1 And Julius II. attempted to liberate the Church from the responsibility of his acts by declaring that a Pope elected by simony could never become legitimate.2
The leading fact that governs his whole pontificate is the notorious invalidity of his election. There had been no hypocrisy in the transaction; and all Europe was able to learn the exact sums that he had paid or promised to his supporters, and even to their attendants. His seat never became secure. His right was permanently threatened. The shadow of an impending Council darkened his life, and ruined his authority. He was obliged to create for himself the power which belonged in theory to his See. He could not have held his position without perpetual activity and effort.
He was hailed at first with flattery so general and excessive that it must have been more than conventional. Men said that he was more than human, that he surpassed all mankind in righteousness, that the splendour of Christ Himself shone forth when he ascended the throne.1 His very countenance was divine. The golden age came back again; Astraea returned to earth at his accession. It was really believed that he would be a glorious pontiff.2 Ferrante of Naples and Ferdinand of Aragon were hostile to him from the beginning; but in many countries the illusion was not dispelled until the cardinals who had refused his bribes published his iniquity. Julian della Rovere, afterwards Pope Julius II., insisted that a Council should be summoned in order to judge him.3
The idea was taken up by the Court of France, when the Pope appointed one of his kinsmen to the archbishopric of Rouen, whilst the Chapter elected George d’Amboise.4 The ministers boasted that the king possessed an infallible means of subjugating Alexander by calling a Council.1 Charles VIII. claimed the crown of Naples, and threatened, if investiture should be refused, to depose the Pope, not by force, but by canonical proof that he was a heretic and an intruder.2 When Alexander took the side of the house of Aragon, and the French invaded Italy, his prospects seemed hopeless. He expected to be deposed.3 The Cardinal of Siena, whom he sent to mollify the King of France, could not obtain an audience, and wrote to warn his master of the approaching danger.4 The French intended to summon a Council at Ferrara to sit in judgment on the Pope,5 and they believed that the consciousness of his guilt would make him pliable.6 They occupied Rome without resistance. Alexander shut himself up in St. Angelo, with a small group of faithful prelates; but the majority of the Cardinals were urging the king to depose him.7 The instrument pronouncing his deposition was drawn up:1 French cannon were pointed against the fort; and part of the walls suddenly gave way. When it seemed that nothing could save Alexander, Charles relented and made terms with him. The reforming cardinals quitted Rome, indignant at the failure of their design. As the Pope instantly broke the treaty that had been forced upon him, Briçonnet himself thought that the king would proceed to extremities against him on his return from Naples.2 Alexander escaped by flight. He afterwards said that Charles had been restrained from acts of violence by the piety of his courtiers;3 but the language of Briçonnet and Comines proves that the opinion of the French camp was in favour of a bolder policy, and the king had not courage to attempt it. When he was gone and the danger was over Alexander excommunicated him. Shortly before he died the Sorbonne exhorted him to convoke a Council, and accomplish the reforms which the Pope persisted in refusing.
Under his successor, Lewis XII., the plan was revived. The Cardinal d’Amboise opened negotiations with Ferdinand and Maximilian with a view to a new election.4 In the summer of the year 1501, Piccolomini, Cardinal of Siena, who became Alexander’s successor, proposed to him to call together a Council and undertake reforms himself, lest the thing should be done in spite of him, to the detriment of the papacy, by the cardinals who were living abroad. Alexander entertained the idea for a moment, and then gave it up when he was reminded that Piccolomini was a nephew of Pius II., “un concilionista,” whose advice in these matters was open to suspicion.1 In the following year it was reported in Rome that the French were resolved to depose him. There is a celebrated medal bearing the effigy of Lewis XII., with the lilies, and the words “Perdam Babylonis nomen,” which is ascribed to the time of the deadly quarrel between Lewis and Julius II. It belongs to the times of Alexander VI. Constabili speaks of it, and describes the sensation which it made at Rome, in a letter to the Duke of Ferrara, on the 11th of August 1502.
The aspiration of the Councils of Constance and Basel, the hope of honest reforms, had remained unsatisfied, and was kept up by the condition of the Roman Court during several pontificates. It was scarcely worse under Alexander than under his predecessors, and the zeal of the French Government was not attributable exclusively to disinterested motives of conscience. The flaw in his election was too tempting an instrument to be neglected. There was more to gain by practising on his fears than by deposing him. Neither Germany nor Spain was willing to accept a Pope created by the King of France.2
King Ferdinand continually impressed on Alexander that he heartily despised him. Gonzalvo of Cordova came to Rome and spoke out the indignation and horror of Europe.3 A joint embassy was despatched by the Kings of Spain and Portugal to protest against the scandals of the papacy.1 Alexander received the envoys in the presence of five cardinals. They represented the immediate necessity of a thorough reformation; they demanded that a Council should be assembled at the Lateran; they informed the Pope that all Italy could bear witness that his election was void.2 He replied that their king was excommunicated, and that it was well for them that Cæsar Borgia did not hear them. Later on he made one concession. He promised that the Duchy of Benevento should not be alienated from the See of Rome. He had conferred it on his son, the Duke of Gandia, who was almost immediately murdered; and the Spanish Ambassador had resisted, and declared that it should not be done.
Grief for the loss of his son roused the conscience of the Pope, and he spoke of abdicating the throne and changing his life. He would send Cæsar to reside in his diocese of Valencia. He would resign the Government into the hands of the cardinals. A commission of six was appointed on the 17th of June 1497, and drew up in the following month a scheme of reform which has not been noticed by Gregorovius.3 Their proposals were quickly forgotten; but two months later they were still acting as advisers of the Pope in the affair of Savonarola.4
During the short interregnum over which the promise of improvement lasted, Cardinal Borgia was sent with the powers of a papal legate into Umbria. His letters to Alexander VI., written in the summer of 1497, are the most eloquent testimony we possess touching the state of society which the Borgias set themselves to abolish in the dominions of the Church, and the influences which determined their unrelenting policy.1 It was a pacific mission. The legate went unarmed to try the force of persuasion, and to test the moral authority of the papacy in a district where the idea of the State was quenched in feudal strife, and each man’s safety consisted in the terror he was able to inspire. In his first letter, on the day of his arrival at Narni, he announced that he could accomplish nothing without troops, as the demons he had to deal with were not to be frightened with holy water.2 The presence of a legate was so little heeded that Alviano, the same who afterwards commanded the Venetians when their power was broken at Agnadello, seized a town belonging to the Pope and sacked it almost before his face. Borgia sent for him, and summoned him to keep the peace. Alviano replied that he would gladly help the Pope to subdue his neighbours, but that he would destroy the town rather than give it up.3 It was soon discovered that the legate was not followed by an army; and things grew worse.4 The country was without police or law. The inhabitants of Todi, finding that there was no government to protect them, deserted the town in despair.5 Brigands held unmolested sway, and were only checked by rival bands. At Perugia the legate caused a murderer to be put to death.6 It was an immense achievement. Murder was common, but legal punishment was a thing almost unknown. Perugia, in consternation, became an altered city. Borgia was proud of his success. He assured the Pope that the rest of the country could be reduced to order and peace by measures of exceeding rigour.
Reigning over subjects unaccustomed to obey, befriended by no Power in Europe except the Turk, surrounded by hostile cardinals, with a flaw in his title which invited defiance and contempt, Alexander found himself in a position of the utmost danger. In the natural course of things, a power so wrongfully acquired, and so ill secured would have fallen speedily; and the Papacy bearing the penalty of its corruption would have been subjugated. It was only by resorting to extraordinary artifice of policy, by persisting in the unlimited use of immoral means, and creating resources he did not lawfully possess, that Alexander could supply the total want of moral authority and material force. He was compelled to continue as he had begun, with the arts of a usurper, and to practise the maxim by which his contemporaries Lewis XI., Ferrante of Naples, and Ferdinand of Aragon prevailed over the disorganised and dissolving society of feudalism, that violence and fraud are sometimes the only way to build up a State.1 He depended on two things—on the exchange of services done in his spiritual capacity for gold, troops, and political support; and on the establishment of principalities for his own family. The same arts had been employed by his predecessors with less energy and profit. It was an unavoidable temptation, almost a necessity of his position, to carry them to the furthest excess.
The theory of the Papal prerogative was already equal to the demands he made on it. Flatterers told him that he was invested with the power of Almighty God on earth, that he was supreme in the temporal as well as the spiritual order, that no laws or canons could bind him, for he himself was the animated law and the rightful judge over the princes of the world.1 He made the most of this doctrine, and resolutely applied it in practice. He declared that his authority was unlimited, that it extended over all men and all things.2 In virtue of this claim he bestowed Africa and America on the kings of Spain, excommunicating beforehand all who would presume to trespass on these regions without licence.3 The plenitude of power thus exercised was justified by an enlargement of the mediæval theory, which adapted it to the enlarged horizon of the Church. It is the Pope’s office, it was argued, to teach the Gospel to all nations, and to compel observance of natural law. But the heathen will not hear the Gospel, and will not keep the law, unless they are made subject to Christians. Conquest, said one of the best writers of the next generation, makes more converts in a few days than mere preaching in three hundred years. Civil rights and authorities cannot lawfully obstruct the propagation of the faith.4 The Spanish Government profited by this sweeping grant, but attached no religious value to it, for they soon after agreed with Portugal to shift the line of partition which the Pope had drawn across the earth.
Alexander VI. employed the terrors of excommunication with a sparing hand. The risk was great and the weapon blunted. His censures against the King of France were effectually suppressed by Cardinal Julian. The Sorbonne declared that his threats might be disregarded with a safe conscience. They were of no avail when unsupported by material force. But in Italy, where they were backed by carnal weapons, men thought of them with awe, and the Venetians dreaded them even when unjust.1 Accordingly, the Pope used excommunication as a way of declaring war on those whom he was about to attack. The rebellious vassals were assailed with spiritual arms on account of their impiety as a prelude to the arrival of Cæsar’s army.2
It was by squandering ecclesiastical privileges, by the profusion of graces and dispensations, that he disarmed enemies, made friends, and got money. The Venetians accused him of abetting the Turks against them,3 and they dreaded extremely the progress of Cæsar Borgia in Romagna. Yet they feared to oppose him, for they required the Pope’s aid in taxing the clergy, and in raising money from the people. They gained 120,000 ducats by the Jubilee in 1501.
Marriage dispensations became, by careful management, productive sources of revenue and of political influence. Charles VIII. wished to marry the betrothed bride of the King of the Romans, and the Pope was solicited on either side to permit or to prevent the match. He informed Valori that he meant to decide in favour of France, as the stronger and more useful power.1 But he said the thing was too scandalous to be done publicly, and afterwards spoke of the marriage as invalid.2 Divorce served him better even than dispensations. Lewis XII. wished to marry the widow of his predecessor, whose dower was the duchy of Brittany. He was already married; but Cæsar was despatched to France with the permission for the king to put away his wife. He was rewarded by a French principality, a French wife, and a French army wherewith to conquer Romagna. Ladislaus of Hungary desired to put away his wife, the widow of Mathias Corvinus. The Pope gave him leave, and earned 25,000 ducats by the transaction. He twice dissolved the marriage of Lucretia. The King of Poland had married a princess of the Greek Church, and had bound himself by oath not to compel her to change her religion. The Pope informed him that the oath was illegal, and not only absolved him from it, but required that compulsion should be used, if necessary, in order to convert her. But if neither ecclesiastical nor secular weapons should avail to subdue her obstinacy, then he commanded that she should be punished by having her goods confiscated, and by being turned out of her husband’s house.3
In order to make money by Indulgences, Alexander claimed jurisdiction over the other world. When the Jubilee of 1500 was celebrated, he was advised that it would produce far more if it were made applicable to the dead. Divines reported that this power was included in the Pope’s prerogative.1 Sixtus IV. had attempted to restrain this superstition, but Alexander allowed it to prevail, and the idea that the release of a soul could be insured by a mass at a particular altar became in his time the recognised belief in Rome.2 It was supposed that the two last kings of Portugal had died under sentence of excommunication. The Pope gave them posthumous absolution, on condition that their successor discharged their debts to the Church.3 It was he who simplified and cheapened the deliverance of souls in purgatory, and instituted the practices which Arcimboldus and Prierias, in an evil hour, set themselves to defend. The mass was not held necessary; to visit the churches did as well.4 Neither confession nor contrition was required, but only money.5 It came to be the official doctrine that a soul flew up to heaven as fast as the money chinked in the box.1 Whoso questioned the rightfulness of the system was delared a heretic.2
By these measures in the spiritual order Alexander exercised vast influence over the future of the Catholic Church, whilst by his nepotism he caused the Papacy to become a political power in Italy. His nepotism is commonly explained by his desire to enrich his kindred. But there was more than this. There was the desire to put in the place of almost independent feudatories a prince who represented the person, and could be trusted to do the will, of the Pope, and to strengthen and sustain the Papacy by the introduction of an hereditary element. It is a wise saying of Guicciardini, that the Popes were badly served because their reigns were short, but that the Borgias proved what could be accomplished by a well-served Pope.3 It was a substitute for the security derived from dynastic interests and influence. There was a vulgar nepotism in the solicitude of Alexander to heap wealth and titles on his obscurer sons and kinsmen. But Cæsar’s career of conquest, the great reproach of the Borgias, was not a mere pursuit of mean and sordid objects; it belonged to a system of policy founded on reason and design, and pregnant with consequences not yet extinct.
The secret of Cæsar’s power over his father was not love but fear. Machiavelli saw that he really controlled the action of the pontiff, and advised the Florentines that they would obtain more by keeping an agent at Cesena than by their embassy at Rome;4 but he did not discover the nature of the relations that existed between the father and the son. There was complicity, mutual dependence, even confidence, but not affection. The immense value which Alexander set on the advancement of his son, the perils and sacrifices he incurred to promote it, were not caused by family feelings. He justified his resignation of the Cardinal’s hat, and his marriage, by saying that his presence among the clergy was enough to prevent their reformation.1 He spoke of Cæsar with the bitterness of aversion. When the Spanish and Portuguese ambassadors boldly reproached him with his nepotism, he answered helplessly that Cæsar was terrible, and that he would give a quarter of his dominions to keep him from Rome.2 At other times he complained that he could not be made to reside there,3 and that, when he did, he allowed ambassadors to wait an audience for months, and turned night into day, so that it was doubtful whether after his own death his son would be found capable of keeping what he had got.4 The year before his death he said to an envoy who was trusted with his secret plans, that he hoped Cæsar’s character would change, and that he would learn to tolerate advice.5 Twelve months later, when he was at the height of his fortunes, Alexander was still lamenting that he would listen to nobody, that he made enemies everywhere, and all Italy cried out against him as a bastard and a traitor.6 At last, when nothing else would restrain him from attacking Siena, the Pope threatened him with excommunication.7
When Alexander was dead, Cæsar Borgia attempted to excuse himself by attributing his own acts to his father’s will. He wrote to Ferdinand that he had sought the French alliance against his own wishes, in obedience to the Pope. He tried to conciliate the Duke of Urbino, the most tame and patient vassal of the Church, whom he had twice driven into exile. Cæsar knelt before him, pleaded his own youth, and cursed his father’s soul, whose baseness had led him astray.1
One point of contrast between the two, which the Pope was in the habit of urging, is curious, for it does not turn quite to Cæsar’s disadvantage. The Pope used to represent him as implacably cruel in punishing his enemies, and loved to dwell on his own generosity towards those who had injured or insulted him. In Rome he said speech was free, and he cared not for the things which were published against himself.2 This praise was not quite hollow. That he was not excessively sensitive, that he could bear with adversaries, appears from the fact that he sent Ludovico di Ferrara to offer a cardinal’s hat to Savonarola.3 He did not proceed to extremities against him until Savonarola had written to the monarchs of Europe bidding them make a new Pope. Cæsar was capable of equal self-restraint, less from temperament than his father, and more from calculation. When, by an act of consummate treachery, he made himself master of Urbino, he published a general amnesty, and observed it even against his worst enemies.4 But he caused all those to be seized and punished who had betrayed their former master to him, showing, says the chronicler, that he hated the traitor though he loved the treason.5
It was said with truth that Alexander VI. succeeded beyond his designs.1 When Cæsar stood at the head of a victorious army, the only Italian army in existence, the ambition of the Borgias soared to great heights. They were absolute in Central Italy, where no Pope had exercised real direct authority for ages.2 The kingdom of Naples was the Pope’s to grant, to take away, or to distribute. Lucretia was married to the heir of Ferrara. A marriage was proposed between an infant Borgia and the Duke of Mantua. Cæsar possessed Piombino; he threatened Florence, Siena, Bologna, Ravenna, even Venice. He received tribute as condottiere from the chief independent States of Italy. The King of France offered Naples to the Pope.3 The King of Aragon proposed that Cæsar should receive Tuscany with the title of king.4 Men spoke of him as the future emperor, and dreamed of Italy united and independent, under the sceptre of a papal dynasty.5 Public expectation went at least as far as the secret hopes of Borgia. And it is certain that Cæsar, hateful as he was, and hated by the great families he had overthrown, was not disliked by the masses of the people whom he governed.6
It is not just to condemn the establishment of a powerful dynasty in Romagna as an act of treason against the rights of the Church. Though not done for her sake, it was not done at her expense. Cæsar was more powerful than Malatesta or Varano, but not practically more independent. Rome had derived little benefit from her suzerainty over the petty tyrants whose dominions were merged in the new duchy of Romagna, and incurred no positive loss by the change. In reality there was closer connection with Cæsar than with the vassals he had deposed, and more reliance to be placed in him. His fidelity was secured, for he could not maintain himself in opposition to the Pope. He had no friends in the other Italian States. Supported by the inexhaustible wealth of the Church, he could keep up an army which no power in Italy could resist; and the Papacy, assured of his fidelity, obtained for the first time a real material basis of independence. Before the French invasion of 1494, the Italians had so little habit of serious warfare that the various States enjoyed a sort of inert immunity from attack.1 The expedition of Charles VIII. showed how little there was of real security in the general proneness to inaction. By the aid of Cæsar Borgia the Papacy became a military power. That aid was purchased at a great price, but it was sure to be efficient.
The danger was not that the provinces would be alienated, but that the Papacy would fall under the sway of its formidable vassal. Alexander not only foresaw this result, but anxiously contrived to make it certain. It meant that his family should not relax their hold on the Church, to which they owed their elevation. He did not wish to weaken the staff on which they were obliged to lean. His purpose was not to dismember the State, but to consolidate part of it in such a way that his descendants should be the servants and yet the masters of his successors, and that a dynasty of Borgias should protect and should control the Papacy. There was ruin in the scheme, but not the obvious ruin commonly supposed. It was not inspired by religion or restrained by morality, but it was full of intelligent policy of a worldly sort. Cæsar’s principality fell to pieces, but the materials enabled Julius II. to build up the Roman State, which was destined to last so long. The Borgias had laid so firmly the foundations of their power, that the death of the Pope would not have shaken its stability if Cæsar had not been disabled for action at the moment when he was left to his own resources.1
Gregorovius, like Ranke, accepts the story that Alexander perished by poison which had been prepared for others. It was the common rumour. Two other guests at the fatal supper, Cæsar and Cardinal Adrian, were seized with illness at the same time, and the latter assured Giovio that he had been poisoned. This statement, recorded by Giovio, is the only evidence that positively supports the suspicion. The report arose before the Pope was dead, as soon as the sudden illness of the others became known.2 But it was founded entirely on conjecture. Guicciardini, who did much to spread it, possessed no proof. He says that the story is confirmed by the fact that the Pope died within twenty-four hours.3 In reality he died on the seventh day after his attack. The witness who has been hitherto the principal authority proves, therefore, to have no evidence. There are almost daily accounts of the Pope’s state between the 12th and the 18th August from Giustinian to Constabili. They suggest nothing more unusual than a violent Roman fever.
[1 ]The North British Review, January 1871.
[1 ] In Wahrheit zeigt es sich, wie gewhnlich und klein dieser Mensch gewesen ist. . . . Sein ganzer Pontifikat zeigt keine einzige grosse Idee weder in Kirche noch Staat. . . . Nichts von jenem rastlosen Thatendrange und Herrschersinn eines Sixtus IV. oder Julius II. erscheint in der wollustigen und passiven Natur dieses kleinen Genussmenschen (pp. 500-502).
[1 ] Scimus in hac sancta sede aliquot jam annis multa abommanda fuisse, abusus in spiritualibus, excessus in mandatis, et omnia demque in pervorsum mutata (Indicat hic optimus Pontifex ea, quae nos in Alexandro VI. deploravinius); nec nurum si aegritudo a capite in membra, a summis Pontificibus in alios inferiores praelatos descenderit (Raynaldus, Annales Ecclesiastici. 1522, p. 70).
[2 ] Contra dictum sic electum vel assumptum de simoniaca labe a quocumque Cardinali, qui eidem electioni interfuerit, opponi et excipi possit, sicut de vera et indubitata haeresi (Raynaldus, 1906, p. 1).
[1 ] Politian, speaking in the name of Siena, said: “Praestans animi magnitudo, qua mortales crederes omnes antecellere—Magna quaedam de te nobis rara, ardua, singularia, incredibilia, inaudita pollicentur.” The Orator of Lucca: “Quid est tuus divinus et majestate plenus aspectus?” The Genoese: “Adeo virtutum gloria et disciplinarum laude, et vitae sanctimonia decoraris, et adeo singularum, ac omnium rerum ornamento dotaris, quae talem summam ac venerandam dignitatem praebeant, ut valde ab omnibus ambigendum sit, tu ne magis pontificatui, an illa tibi sacratissima et gloriosissima Papatus dignitas offerenda fuerit” (Ciaconius, Vitae Pont., iii. 152, 159). The Venetian Senate rejoiced: “Propter divinas virtutes et dotes quibus ipsum insignitum et ornatum conspiciebamus, videbatur a divina providentia talem pastorem gregi, dominio et sacrosanctae romanae ecclesiae vicarium suum fuisse delectum et praeordinatum” (Romanin, Storia di Venesia, v. 10). The Archbishop of Colocza wrote: “Omnes id satis exploratum habent, mitiorem Pontificem nec optari, nec creari potuisse, cui tantum sapientiae, probitatis, experientiae, ac integritatis est, quantum in quovis alio unquani audiverimus” (Petrus de Warda, Epistolae, 33). A priest of Parma wrote: “Hominem non dicam, sed divinum hominem, magnanimum pietate gravem ac meritis sapientissimum, ingenio praestantem, consiliis et sententiis probatissimum, omnibus denique virtutibus ornatissimum.”
[2 ] Dicesi che sarà glorioso pontefice (Manfredi to the Duchess of Ferrara, Aug. 17, 1492; Atti e Memorie, iv. 323).
[3 ] Quid enim felicis recordationis Alexandro VI. Romano Pontifici praedecessori nostro magis nos odiosos fecit, nisi studium et cura generalis concilii celebrandi? Quid nos terra marique jactavit, cum nobis idem Alexander praedecessor esset infensus? quid toties Alps transcendere transalpinas, Gallias peragrare per aestus, nives et glacies compulit, nisi quod nitebamur, ut a Romano Pontifice concilium indiceretur, convocaretur et celebraretur? (Raynaldus, 1511, 10).
[4 ] Sdegnati di questa collazione contro del Papa, il Re tenne il di medesimo gran consiglio, dove furono proposte e trattate più cose contro del Papa, in riformazione della chiesa (Desp. of Aug. 31, 1493; Canestrini, Négociations avec la Toscane, i. 249).
[1 ] Venetian despatches of the same month of August, in Romanin, v. 33.
[2 ] Soggiungeva che rifiutando le cose che ricercava, considerasse bene essere a Carlo cosa libera, poichè adjutato dall’ imperatore de’ Romani il quale da pochi giorni s’ era seco lui confederato, era per privarlo dalla dignità apostolica, non solo colle armi colle quali superava tutti gli altri, ma per diritto, radunando un concilio de prelati, i quali potevano giustamente pronunziare avere egli comperato la pontificia dignità, di maniera che non si poteva chiamare vero pastore di Santa Chiesa (Corio, Storia de Milano, iii. 525).
[3 ] Dubitava che il rè lo dimitesse del Papato (Marin Sanuto, in Cherrier, Hist. de Charles VIII., ii. 61).
[4 ] Aiunt etiam multo vulgo inter illos iactari, regem Romam venturum et statum Romanae Ecclesiae reformaturum (Piccolomini to Alexander, Lucca, Nov. 4, 1494).
[5 ] Le quali cose sono di qualità, secondo che me concluse dicto oratore (the French envoy at Florence), che daranno materia al prefato Rè Christ., de fare praticha con qualche Cardinale, come già se fece, de chiamare Sua Santità a Concilio, dicendomi che el credeva che non passariano molti giorni che ’l se ordinaria dicto Concilio, et di farlo a Ferrara, dove pare che se debba fare per omni rispecto. Et a questo gli è molto inclinata prefata Regia Mtà (Manfredi to Duke of Ferrara, Feb. 16, 1495; Atti e Memorie, iv. 341.
[6 ] Crediamo che la Santità di nostro Signore, il quale di sua natura è vile e è conscius criminis sui, ancora de facili si potrebbe ridurre alle cose oneste, per dubio delle cose di qua (Florentine Desp., Lyons, June 6, 1494; Canestrini, i. 399). Eulx deux (Borgia and Sforza) estoient a l’envy qui seroit Pape. Toutesfois je croy qu’ilz eussent consenty tous deux d’en faire ung nouveau au plaisir du Roy, et encores d’en faire ung francois (Comines, Memoires, ii. 386).
[7 ] Nostre Saint Père est plus tenu au roy qu’on ne pense, car si ledit seigneur eust voulu obtemperer à la plupart de Messeigneurs les Cardinaulx, ilz eussent fait ung autre pappa en intention de refformer léglise ainsi qu’ilz disaient (Briçonnet to Queen of France, Rome, Jan. 13, 1495; De la Pilorgerie, Campagne d’Italie, 135).
[1 ] This was stated by Paul IV.: “Sua Santità entro a deplorar le miserie d’ Italia et narrò l’ historia dal principio che fù chiamato Rè Carlo in Italia da Ludovico Moro et Alfonso d’ Aragona, con li particolari del parentado fra questi due, la causa dell’ inimicitia, il passar Rè Carlo per Roma, la paura di Papa Alessandro di esser deposto, come publicamente dicevano li Cardinali che vennero co ’l Rè tra quali erano S. Pietro in Vincola, che fu poi Giulio Secondo: che furno fatti li capitoli della privatione da un Vicentino Vescovo di (illegible), all’ hora auditor della Camera” (Desp. of B. Navagero, Rome, May 21, 1577; MS. Foscarini, 6255).
[2 ] Divinendo in ragionamento col Card. de S. Malo (Briçonnet) del facto del Papa, sua Revma Sigria me disse che il Re chnio non ne remaneva cum quella bona satisfactione che ’l sperava, havendose portato non troppo bene in queste pratiche de Spagne, etc., concludendo dicto Carde che ’l dubitava assai, che, finita che fosse questa impresa del Reame de Napoli, la Mtà del Rè non se desponesse a pigliare qualche expediente per reformare la chiesa, parendogli che ’l sia molto necessario, vedendosi come sono gubernate le cose della chiesa et sede apostolica (Manfredi to Duke of Ferrara, Feb. 25, 1495; Atti e Memorie, iv. 342).
[3 ] Adducendo su questo proposito quello che accadette al Christianissimo Rè Carlo quando andava in lo reame: che avendo pur contra sua santità malo animo, non solo fù consentito per li Sigri francesi che ageret contra eam, ma fù necessitato ad inclinarseli et basarli lo pede, et tenerli la staffa in mezo la fango (Desp. of Saracini to Duke of Ferrara, Rome, Oct. 27, 1501).
[4 ] Le Gendre, Vie du Cardinal d’Amboise, i. 245.
[1 ] Constabili to Duke of Ferrara, Rome, Feb. 23, 1502.
[2 ] Cardinal Perrauld said to the Venetian Ambassador at the Court of Maximilian: “Non se parla de deporre el Pontifice; ma se vol provvedere che el stato della chiesa non sia tirannizzato, ovviar alla simonia, coreger la vita dei prelati et levare le estorsioni che se fano nela cancelaria” (De Leva, Storia di Carlo V., i. 73).
[3 ] Zurita, Historia tel Rey Don Hernando, i. 117.
[1 ] Mores esse profligatos, pietatis studium restinctum, flagitiorum licentiam solutam, res sanctissimas pret o indignissimis addiei—remque esse in extremum paene diserimen adductam (Osorius, “De rebus gestis Emanuelis,” Opera, i. 595).
[2 ] Italia tutta aviebbe dimostrato lui non esser vero Pontence (Marin Sanato, in De Leva, 61). Que eran notorias las formas que se tuvieron en su eleccion, y quan graves cosas se intentaron, y quan escandalosos (Zurita, 159).
[3 ] Raynaldus, who is his sole authority here, depends upon Zurita, and Zurita gives no particulars. The plan is in Malipiero (Annali Veneti, 494).
[4 ] Se era deliberato per el Papa et per li sei Cardinali deputati pro reformatione, che ullo pacto non se dasse la absolutione che addimandava questa Signoria per fra Hieronimo nostro, nisi prius pararet mandatis del suo generale et del Papa, non se attendendo alli ragionamenti facti per li antedicte Cardinali de suspendere le censure per duos menses (Manfredi to Duke of Ferrara, Aug. 16, 1497; Atti e Memorie, iv. 585).
[1 ] The originals are among the manuscripts in St. Mark’s Library (Lat. Cl. x. 176).
[2 ] E molto necessaria la provvisione de le genti d’ arme contro questi demonii che non fugono per acqua sancta (July 16, 1497).
[3 ] Intendendo che quando l’ antique sue rasom non li siano sopra de quella da la Sta vostra instaurate, spianarla per modo che dire sepossa, qui fù Lugnano (July 17).
[4 ] Solo in la mia prima ionta in provintia cessarono un poco per timore dele gente d’ arme, fo dieto me seguitavano, ma hormai reassicurati comensano nel primo modo offenderse et non dare leco ad mei commandamenti (July 27).
[5 ] Ricevo ad ogni hora da quelli proveri loro castelli querele miserabili che le prede et occisioni se le fanno tutta via maiuri. Per la qual cosa la Sa Va po ben comprendere che tucto lo remedio de questi mali consiste in la venuta de la gente d’ arme, le quali tardando piu forniscese el paese de Tode da desolare, essendo da la partua mia in qua la cita totalmente derelicta et lassata vacua (July 30).
[6 ] In questa cita hieri si fecero li bannamenti et con maraviglioso consenso sonno da tucti posti in observantia, et procedono le cose qui con tanta obedientia et quiete che meglio non si potriano desiderare (July 30). Dopo li Bandimenti, dui becharini homicidi ho facti pigliar, et son stati senza tumulto et piacer del popolo menati in presione. Cosa da bon tempo in qua insolita in questa cita, et questa matina ne è stato appichato uno (Aug. 2).
[1 ] Uno in una città disordinata merita laude, se, non potendo riordinarla altrimenti, lo fa con la violenza e con la fraude, e modi estraordinarii (Guicciardini, in Opere Inedite, i. 22).
[1 ] Tibi supremi rerum omnium opificis potestas in terris concessa est. Pontifex est, qui Lege, Canone, et propria constitutione Papali solutus, ea tamen vivere non dedignatur; qui Canon in terris animatus vocatur: qui denique omnium Principum, Regum et Imperatorum Judex legitimus appellatur. Negabit ergo quispiam, quod gladii potestatem utriusque a vero Deo demandatam non obtineas? (Ciaconius, 155, 158).
[2 ] Altissimus, sicut in Beato Petro, Apostolorum Principe, aeternae vitae clavigero, omnes atque omnia, nullo prorsus excepto, ligandi atque solvendi plenariam tribuit potestatem, ita Nos, super gentes et regna constitutos . . . in Prophetam mandavit (to Charles VIII., Aug. 5, 1495).
[3 ] Auctoritate omnipotentis Dei nobis in Beato Petro concessa, ac vicariatus Jesu Christi qua fungimur in terris. Ac quibuscunque personis cujuscumque dignitatis, etiam imperialis et regalis status gradus ordinis vel conditionis sub excomunicationis latae sententiae poena, quam eo ipso, si contra fecerint, incurrant districtius inhibemus ne ad insulas et terras firmas inventas et inveniendas . . . accedere praesumant.—Auctoritate nobis in B. Petro concessa, de ipsa Africa omnibusque regnis, terris et dominiis illius sine alicujus Christiani principis praejudicio, auctoritate apostolica tenore praesentium . . . plene investimus (Raynaldus, 1493, p. 22; 1494, p. 36).
[4 ] Habet igitur Papa potestatem ubique gentium, non solum ad praedicandum Evangelium, sed etiam ut gentes si facultas adsit, cogat, legem naturae cui omnes homines subjecti sunt, servare. . . . Ut autem infideles Evangelicam praedicationem audire et legem naturae servare cogantur, necesse est ut Christianorum imperio subjiciantur. . . . Hac ratione paucis diebus plures et tutius ad Christi fidem convertuntur, quam fortasse trecentis annis sola predicatione converterentur. . . . Quanquam enim Ecclesiastica potestas, quam Christus tradidit Vicario suo, in iis potissimum rebus versatur, quae religionem attingunt, patet tamen latissime in omni terrarum orbe, pertinetque etiam ad imperia civilia et omne genus, si hoc religionis moderandae vel propagandae ratio postulare videatur. . . . Belli parandi classisque mitendae gravissimus auctor fuit Alexander VI. Pontifex Max. cujus Pontificis auctoritas ea est ut ejus legibus atque decretis publice factis obsistere vel contradicere nefas sit, et sacrorum interdicto haereticorumque poenis sancitum (Sepulveda, Opera, iv. 334, 335, 340; iii. 12, 15).
[1 ] Perchè giusta vale, ingiusta timenda est. . . . Con veritade il favor d’ un Papa è più grande di quello che cadauno può considerare. . . . Perchè l’ auttoritá sua vale assai, edico grandemente apud Deum et homines (Priuli, May 25, June 10, Aug. 23, 1501).
[2 ] Alexander to the Magistrates of Bologna, Jan. 28, 1501, in Gozzadini, Memorie di Bentivoglio, Doc. 75.
[3 ] Se la stessa Santitá Vostra persuade altrui ci si lasci punire e battere dagli infedeli, convien pur dire si voglia e si desideri che prima noi, e poco dopo l’ universa religione cristiana vada in ruina (Council of Ten to the Pope, June 30, 1500; De Leva, i. 69).
[1 ] Lo ricercammo, qual era in secreto la intenzione sua. Rispose che in ultimo satisfarebbe al Re di Francia, e terrebbe più conto di lui che del Re de’ Romani; non solo perchè la Francia è più potente, ma anco perchè quella casa è stata sempre amica e difensora di Santa Chiesa (Desp. Rome, March 31, 1493; Canestrini, i. 486).
[2 ] Publicava que la dispensacion que el Rey Carlos tenia, con la qual casò con la duquesa de Bretaña, era de ningun efecto . . . y dezia, que en publico no queria concenderla, por el escandalo (Zurita, 27).
[3 ] Pollicitus es, quod eciam iuramento forte dictorum oratorum sub nomine tuo confirmatum extitit, nunquam eandem compulsurum ad ritum Romane ecclesie suscipiendum: sed si sponte sua ad eandem Romanam ecclesiam venire vellet, libertati sue in hoc eam dimitteres, que tua Nobilitas, quamvis perniciosa satis et iuri contraria fuerint, per quinquennium observare curavit. . . . Volumus, teque oneramus, ut non obstantibus promissionibus et iuramentis predictis, quibus te nullatenus teneri tenore presentium declaramus, denuo tentes, ac ea omnia agas, que tibi necessaria videbuntur quo eadem uxor tua, relicta pessima Ruthenorum secta, tandem resipiscat (to Alexander of Lithuania, June 8, 1501). Per censuras ecclesiasticas et alia iuris remedia, etiam cum invocacione, si opus fuerit, brachii secularis, cogas et compellas . . ., Concedens licentiam eidem Alexandro ipsam Helenam auctoritate nostra apostolica ex lecto, domo et omni maritali consorcio penitus excludendi, illamque pro merits errorum suorum, etiam dotem et omnia alia bona eiusdem confiscata declarando, punias. . . . Non obstantibus quibus vis promissionibus eciam iuramento firmatis (to Bishop of Wilna; Theiner, Monumenta Poloniae, ii. 288-90).
[1 ] Duke of Ferrara to Cardinal of Modena, Jan. 1, 1501.
[2 ] It was officially affirmed by the legate Raymundus at the Jubilee of 1500.
[3 ] Tibi per presentes committimus et mandamus ut Alfonsum et Joannem, si in eorum obitu manifesta penitentie signa apparuerunt, ab excommunicationis sentencia necnon aliis censuris et penis ecclesiasticis si quas propterea incurrerunt . . . absolvas (to Bishop of Oporto, July 3, 1502; Corpo Diplomatico Portuguez, i. 39).
[4 ] Quam Ecclesiam (St. Laurentii) si quis visitaverit in omnibus diebus Mercurii per totum annum, habet a Deo et Sanctis Laurentio et Stephano istam gratiam extrahendi unam animam de purgatorio (Raymundus, in Amort, De Origine Indulgentiarum, ii. 283).
[5 ] Valde iniquum est quod pauper defunctus gravissimis peccatorum penis tamdiu affligatur, qui liberari posset pro modica substantie parte, quam post se reliquit. . . . Neque in hoc casu erit opus contribuentibus esse corde contritos et ore confessos, cum talis gratia charitati, in qua defunctus decesserit, et contributioni viventis duntaxat innitatur (Instructiones Arcimboldi, 1514; Kapp, Urkunden, iii. 190, 191).
[1 ] Praedicator, animam quae in Purgatorio detinetur, adstruens evolare in eo instanti, in quo plene factum est illud, gratia cujus plena venia datur, puta dejectus est aureus in pelvim, non hominem, sed meram et catholicam veritatem praedicat (Prierias, “Dialogus,” in Luther, Opera Latina, i. 357).
[2 ] Qui circa indulgentias dicit, ecclesiam Romanam non posse facere id quod de facto facit, haereticus est (Prierias, Ibid.).
[3 ] Essendo communemente di brieve vita, non hanno molto tempo a fare uomini nuovi; non concorrono le ragioni medesime di potersi fidare de quelli che sono stati appresso allo antecessore . . . in modo che è periculo non sano più infedeli e manco affezionati al servizio del padrone, che quelli che servono uno principe seculare. Dimostro quanto fussi grande la potenza di un pontefice, quando ha uno valente capitano e di chi si possa fidare (Guicciardini, Opere Inedite, i. 87; iii. 304).
[4 ] Se ne ha contentare costui, e non il Papa, e per questo le cose che si concludessino dal Papa possono bene essere ritrattate da costui, ma quelle che si concludessino da costui non saranno gia ritrittate dal Papa (Desp. Cesena, Dec. 14. 1502; Opere, v. 354).
[1 ] Una de las mas principales causas que dava, para que el Cardenal de Valencia dexasse el capelo era, porque siendo aquel Cardenal, mientras en la Iglesia estuviesse, era bastante para impedir que no se hiziesse la reformacion (Zurita, 126).
[2 ] Que bien conocia que era muy terrible: y que el daria la quarta parte del Pontificado, porque no bolviesse a Roma (Ibid. 160).
[3 ] Saraceni to Duke of Ferrara, Sept. 22, 1501.
[4 ] The same, Oct. 6.
[5 ] Dicendomi Sua Santità che epso Ilmo Sigr Duca era uno bello Signore, et che sperava mutaria natura, et se lasaria parlare (the same, April 6, 1502).
[6 ] Constabili to Duke of Ferrara, Jan. 23, 1503.
[7 ] The same, March 1, 1503.
[1 ] Incolpando la giovintu sua, li mali consigli soi, le triste pratiche, la pessima natura del Pontifice, et qualche uno altro che ’l haveva spirito a tale impresa; dilatandosi sopra el Pontefice, et maledicendo l’ anima sua (Letter from Rome in Ugolini, Duchi d’ Urbino, ii. 524).
[2 ] Constabili to Duke of Ferrara, Feb. 1, 1502.
[3 ] Quétif et Echard, Script. O. P., i. 883.
[4 ] Ugolini, ii. 111.
[5 ] Per dar ad intender a tutti, che ’l Signor over Signori hanno appiacer del tradimento, ma non del traditore (Priuli, July 6, 1502).
[1 ] Furono i successi sua più volte maggiori che i disegnl (Guicciardini, Opere Inedite, iii. 304).
[2 ] Fu più assoluto Signore di Roma che mai fussi stato Papa alcuno (Ibid.). Donde viene che la Chiesa nel temporale sia venuta a tanta grandezza, conciossiachè da Alessandro indietro i potentati Italiani, e non solamente quelli che si chiamono potentati, ma ogni Barone e Signore, benchè minimo, quanto al temporale, la stimaba poco; e ora un Rè di Francia ne trema (Machiavelli, “Principe,” Opere, i. 55).
[3 ] Constabili to Duke of Ferrara, Aug. 3, 1503.
[4 ] Zurita, 242.
[5 ] Nobody execrated the Borgias more than the Venetian chronicler Priuli. After the destruction of the Condottieri at Sinigaglia, he writes: “Alcuni lo volevano far Re dell’ Italia, e coronarlo, altri lo volevano far Imperator, perche ’l prosperava talmente, che non era alcuno li bastasse l’ animo d’ impedirlo in cosa alcuna” (Jan. 11, 1503).
[6 ] Aveva il Duca gittati assai buoni fondamenti alla potenza sua, avendo tutta la Romagna con il ducato di Urbino, e guadagnatosi tutti quei popoli, per avere incominciato a gustare il ben essere loro (Machiavelli, “Principe,” Opere, i. 35).
[1 ] Chi aveva uno Stato era quasi impossible lo perdessi (Guicciardini, Opere Inedite, i. 109).
[1 ] Se nella morte di Alessandro fusse stato sano, ogni cosa gli era facile (Machiavelli, “Principe,” Opere, i. 39).
[2 ] Per la qual infermità si giudicava fosse stato avoelenato, e questo perchè etiam il giorno sequente il prefato Duca Valentino et il Cardl s’ erano buttati ai letto con la febre (Priuli, Aug. 16, 1503).
[3 ] Guicciardini, Istoria d’ Italia, iii. 162. E che questa sia la verita, ne fa fede che lui mori o la notte medesima o il di seguente (Opere Inedite, iii. 302).