The Cambridge Modern History/Volume II/Chapter I
|The Cambridge Modern History
Volume II: The Reformation
On the 18th of August, 1503, after a sudden and mysterious illness Alexander VI had departed this life—to the unspeakable joy of all Rome, as Guicciardini assures us. Crowds thronged to see the dead body of the man whose boundless ambition, whose perfidy, cruelty, and licentiousness coupled with shameless greed had infected and poisoned all the world. On this side the Alps the verdict of Luther's time and of the centuries which followed has confirmed the judgment of the Florentine historian without extenuation, and so far as Borgia himself was concerned doubtless this verdict is just. But to-day if we consider Alexander's pontificate objectively we can recognise its better sides. Let it pass as personal ambition that he should have been the first of all the Popes who definitely attempted to create a modern State from the conglomerate of the old Stati pontificii, and that he should have endeavoured, as he undeniably did, step by step to secularise that State and to distribute among his friends the remaining possessions of the Church. But in two ways his government shows undeniable progress: in the midst of constant tumult, during which without interruption tyranny succeeded to tyranny in the petty States, when for centuries neither life nor property had been secure, Cesare Borgia had established in the Romagna an ordered government, just and equal administration of the laws; provided suitable outlets for social forces, and brought back peace and security; and by laying out new streets, canals, and by other public works indicated the way to improve agriculture and increase manufacture. Guicciardini himself recognises all this and adds the important comment, that now the people saw how much better it was for the Italians to obey as a united people one powerful master, than to have a petty despot in every town, who must needs be a burden on the townsfolk without being able to protect and help them. And here Guicciardini touches the second point which marks the pontificate of Alexander VI, the appearance, still vague and confused, of the idea of a future union of the Italian States, and their independence of foreign rule and interference. Alexander played with this great political principle though he did not remain faithful to it; to what could he have been faithful? Was not his very nature immoral and perfidious to its core? But now and then at least he made as if he would blazon on his banner the motto Italia farà da se; this brought him a popularity which nowadays it is hard to understand, and made it possible for him, the most unrighteous man in Italy, to gain the victory over the most righteous man of his time and to stifle Savonarola's reforming zeal among the ashes at the stake.
The idea of a great reformation of the Church in both head and members had arisen since the beginning of the thirteenth century, and was the less likely to fade from the mind of nations since complaints of the evils of Church government were growing daily more serious and well-grounded and one hope of improvement after another had been wrecked. No means of bringing about this reform was neglected; all had failed. Francis of Assisi had opposed to the growing materialism and worldliness of the Church the idea of renunciation and poverty. But Gregory IX had contrived to win over the Order founded by the Saint to the cause of the Papacy, and to set in the background the Founder's original purpose. Thrust into obscurity in the inner sanctuary of the Order, this purpose, tinged by a certain schismatic colouring, developed in the hands of the Spirituales into the Ecclesia Spiritualis as opposed to the Ecclesia Carnalis, which stood for the official Church. Traces of this thought are to be found in Dante; we may even call it the starting-point, whence he proceeds to contrast his Monarchia with the political Papacy of the fourteenth century, and as a pioneer to develop with keen penetration and energy the modern idea of the State. The opponents of the Popes of Avignon in reality only fought against their politics without paying any attention to the moral regeneration of Christendom. Theological science in the fifteenth century raised the standard of reform against the dependence of the Papacy, the triple Schism, and the disruption of the Church. But she too succumbed, her projects foiled, at the great ecclesiastical conferences of Constance and Basel. Asceticism, politics, theology had striven in vain; the close of the Middle Ages on both sides of the Alps was marked by outbursts of popular discontent and voices which from the heart of the nations cried for reform, prophesying the catastrophe of the sixteenth century. None of these voices was mightier than Savonarola's, or left a deeper echo. He was the contemporary and opponent of the men who were to give their name to this epoch in Rome's history.
The House of the Medici passes for the true and most characteristic exponent of the Renaissance movement. We cannot understand the nature and historical position of the Medicean Papacy without an attempt to explain the character and development of this movement. The discovery of man since Dante and Giotto, the discovery of Nature by the naturalism of Florence, the revival of classical studies, and the reawakening of the antique in Art and Literature are its component parts; but its essence can only be grasped if we regard the Renaissance as the blossoming and unfolding of the mind of the Italian people. The early Renaissance was indeed the Vita Nuova of the nation. It is an error to believe that it was in opposition to the Church. Art and the artists of the thirteenth century recognised no such opposition. It is the Church who gives the artists employment and sets them their tasks. The circle of ideas in which they move is still entirely religious: the breach with the religious allegory and symbolism of the Middle Ages did not take place until the sixteenth century. In the fourteenth century the spread of naturalistic thought brought about a new conception of the beauty of the human body; this phase was in opposition to the monastic ideal, yet it had in it no essential antagonism to Christianity. It was a necessary stage of the development which was to lead from realism dominant for a time to a union of the idealist and realist standpoints. Many of the Popes were entirely in sympathy with this Renaissance; several of them opposed the pagan and materialistic degeneration of Humanism, but none of them accused the art of the Renaissance of being inimical to Christianity.
Its pagan and materialistic side, not content with restoring antique knowledge and culture to modern humanity, eagerly laid hold of the whole intellectual life of a heathen time, together with its ethical perceptions, its principles based on sensual pleasure and the joy of living; these it sought to bring to life again. This impulse was felt at the very beginning of the fifteenth century; since the middle of the century it had ventured forth even more boldly in Florence, Naples, Rome in the days of Reggio, Valla, Beccadelli, and despite many a repulse had even gained access to the steps of the Papal throne. A literature characterised by the Facetiae, by Lorenzo Valla's Voluptas and Beccadelli's Hermaphroditus could not but shock respectable feeling. Florence was the headquarters of this school, and Lorenzo il Magnifico its chief supporter. Scenes that took place there in his day in the streets and squares, the extravagances of the youth of the city lost in sensuality, the writings and pictures offered to the public, would and must seem to earnest-minded Christians a sign of approaching dissolution. A reaction was both natural and justifiable. Giovanni Dominici had introduced it at the beginning of the century, and Fra Antonino of San Marco had supported it, while Archbishop of Florence, with the authority of his blameless life devoted to the service of his fellow-men. And so Cosimo's foundation became the centre and starting-point of a movement destined to attack his own House. At the head of that movement stood Fra Girolamo Savonarola. Grief over the degradation of the Church had driven him into a monastery and now it led him forth to the pulpits of San Marco and Santa Maria del Fiore. As a youth he had sung his dirge De Ruina Ecclesiae in a canzone since grown famous; as a man he headed the battle against the immorality and worldliness of the Curia. He was by no means illiterate, but in the pagan and sensual tendency of humanist literature and in the voluptuous freedom of art he saw the source of evil, and in Lorenzo and his sons pernicious patrons of corruption. Zeal against the immorality of the time, the worldliness of prelates and preachers, made him overlook the lasting gains that the Renaissance and humanism brought to humanity. He had no sympathy with this development of culture from the fresh young life of his own people. He did not understand the Young Italy of his day; behind this luxuriant growth he could not see the good and fruitful germ, and here, as in the province of politics, he lost touch with the pulse of national life. His plan of a theocratic State governed only by Christ, its invisible Head, was based on momentary enthusiasm and therefore untenable. He was too deficient in aesthetic sense to be able to rise in inward freedom superior to discords. Like a dead man amongst the living, he left Italy to bear the clash of those contradictions which the great mind of Julius II sought, unhappily in vain, to fuse in one conciliatory scheme.
Such a scheme of conciliation meantime made its appearance in Florence, not without the co-operation and probably the encouragement of the Medici. It was connected with the introduction of Platonism, which since the time of the Council of Florence in 1438 was represented in that city by enthusiastic and learned men like Bessarion, and was zealously furthered by Cosimo, the Pater Patriae, in the Academy which he had founded. From the learned societies started for these purposes come the first attempts to bring not only Plato's philosophy but the whole of classical culture into a close and essential connexion with Christianity. Platonism seemed to them the link which joined Christianity with antiquity. Bessarion himself had taught the internal relationship of both principles, and Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola made the explanation of this theory the work of their lives. If both of them went too far in their youthful enthusiasm and mysticism, and conceived Christianity almost as a continuation of Attic philosophy, this was an extravagance which left untouched the sincerity of their own belief, and from which Marsilio, when he grew older, attempted to free himself. Giovanni and Giulio de' Medici, son and nephew of Lorenzo, were both Marsilio's pupils. Both were destined to wear the tiara and took a decided part in the scheme for conciliating these contrasts, which Julius II set forth by means of Raffaelle's brush.
The victory of the Borgia over the monk of San Marco was not likely to discourage the sceptic and materialistic tendency, whose worst features were incarnate in Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia. Pietro Pomponazzi furthered it by his notorious phrase, that a thing might be true in philosophy and yet false in theology; a formula that spread its poison far and wide. Even then in Florence a genius was developing, that was to prove the true incarnation of the pagan Renaissance and modern realism. The flames which closed over Savonarola had early convinced Niccolo Machiavelli that no reform was to be looked for from Rome.
Savonarola's distrust of humanism and his harsh verdict on the extreme realism of contemporary art were not extinguished with his life. A few years later we find his thoughts worked out, or rather extended and distorted in literature. Castellesi (Adriano di Corneto), formerly secretary to Alexander VI and created Cardinal May 31, 1503, wrote his De vera philosophia ex quattuor doctoribus Ecclesiae, in direct opposition to the Renaissance and humanism. The author represents every scientific pursuit, indeed all human intellectual life, as useless for salvation, and even dangerous. Dialectics, astronomy, geometry, music, and poetry are but vainglorious folly. Aristotle has nothing to do with Paul, nor Plato with Peter; all philosophers are damned, their wisdom vain, since it recognised but a fragment of the truth and marred even this by misuse. They are the patriarchs of heresy; what are physics, ethics, logic compared with the Holy Scriptures, whose authority is greater than that of all human intellect?
The man who wrote these things, and at whose table Alexander VI contracted his last illness, was no ascetic and no monkish obscurantist. He was the Pope's confidant and quite at home in all those political intrigues which later under Leo X brought ruin upon him. His book can only be regarded as a blow aimed at Julius II, Alexander's old enemy, who now wore the tiara and was preparing to glorify his pontificate by the highest effort of which Christian art was capable. Providence had granted him for the execution of his plans three of the greatest minds the world of art has ever known: never had a monarch three such men as Bramante, Michelangelo, and Raffaelle at once under his sway. With their help Julius II resolved to carry out his ideas for the glory of his pontificate and the exaltation of the Church. What Cardinal Castellesi wanted was a downright rebellion against the Pope; if he, with his following of obscurantists, were acknowledged to be in the right, all the plans of the brilliant and energetic ruler would end in failure, or else be banned as worldly, and Julius II would lose the glory of having united the greatest and noblest achievement of art with the memory of his pontificate and the interests of Catholicism.
The Pope gave Cardinal Castellesi his answer by making the Vatican what it is. The alteration and enlargement of the palace however passes almost unnoticed in comparison with the rebuilding of the Basilica of St Peter's, on which the Pope was resolved since 1505. With the palace (1504) Bramante seemed to have set the crown on his many works; but the plans for the new cathedral, with all the sketches and alternatives which still survive and have been analysed for us with true critical appreciation, show us Bramante not only in the height of his creative power, but as perhaps the most universal and gifted mind that ever used its mastery over architecture. The form of the Greek cross joined with the vast central cupola might be taken as a fitting symbol for Catholicism. The arms of the cross, stretched out to the four winds, tell us of the doctrine of universality; the classical forms preferred by the Latin race, the elevation with its horizontal lines accentuated throughout, bespeak that principle of rest and persistence, which is the true heritage of the Catholic south in contradistinction to the restless striving in search of a visionary ideal shown in the vertical principle of the north. St Peter's thus, in the development planned by Julius, presented the most perfect picture of the majestic extension of the Church; but the paintings and decorations of the palace typified the conception of Christianity, humanity led to Christ, the evolution and great destiny of His Church, and lastly the spiritual empire in which the Pope, along with the greatest thinkers of his time, beheld the goal of the Renaissance and the scheme of a new and glorious future, showing Christianity in its fullest realisation.
His own mausoleum gives proof how deeply Julius II was convinced that the chief part in this development fell to the Papacy in general, and to himself, Giuliano della Rovere, in particular. The instruction which he gave to Michelangelo to represent him as Moses can bear but one interpretation: that Julius set himself the mission of leading forth Israel (the Church) from its state of degradation and showing it—though he could not grant possession—the Promised Land at least from afar, that blessed land which consists in the enjoyment of the highest intellectual benefits, and the training and consecration of all faculties of man's mind to union with God. He bade Michelangelo depict on the roof of the Sistine Chapel (1508-9), how after the fall of our first parents mankind was led from afar towards this high goal; symbolising that shepherding of the soul to Christ, which Clement the Alexandrine had already seen and described. When we see the Sibyls placed among the Patriarchs and Prophets, we know what this meant in the language of the theologians and religious philosophers of that time. Not only Judaism, but also Graeco-Roman paganism, is an antechamber to Christianity; and this antique culture gave not merely a negative, but also a positive preparation for Christ. For this reason it could not be considered as a contradiction of the Christian conception: there was a positive relationship between classical antiquity and Christianity.
And so at one stroke not only the artist, but the Pope, who doubtless planned and watched these compositions, took up that mediatory and conciliating attitude, which some decades earlier had been adopted in Florence by Marsilio and Pico. But we see this thought more clearly and far more wonderfully expressed in the Camera della Segnatura (1509). If we consider what place it was that Raffaelle was painting, and the character and individuality of the Pope, we cannot doubt that in these compositions also we are concerned, not with the subjective inspiration of the artist who executed, but with the Pope's own well-considered and clearly formulated scheme. In the last few years it has been recognised that this scheme is entirely based on the ideas of the universe represented by the Florentine School. Especially it has been proved that the School of Athens is drawn after the model which Marsilio Ficino left of the Accademia, the ancient assembly of philosophers, while Parnassus has an echo of that bella scuola of the great poets of old times, whom Dante met in the Limbo of the Inferno. The four pictures of the Camera della Segnatura represent the aspirations of the soul of man in each of its faculties; the striving of all humanity towards God by means of aesthetic perception (Parnassus), the exercise of reason in philosophical enquiry and all scientific research (the School of Athens), order in Church and State (Gift of Ecclesiastical and Secular Laws), and finally theology. The whole may be summed up as a pictorial representation of Pico della Mirandola's celebrated phrase, "philosophia veritatem quaerit, theologia invenit, religio possidet"; and it corresponds with what Marsilio says in his Academy of Noble Minds when he characterises our life's work as an ascent to the angels and to God.
These compositions are the highest to which Christian art has attained, and the thoughts which they express are one of the greatest achievements of the Papacy. The principle elsewhere laid down is here reaffirmed: that the reception of the true Renaissance into the circle of ecclesiastical thought points to a widening of the limited medieval conception into universality, and indicates a transition to entire and actual Catholicity, like the great step taken by Paul, when he turned to the Gentiles and released the community from the limits of Judaistic teaching.
This expansion and elevation of the intellectual sphere is the most glorious achievement of Julius II and of the Papacy at the beginning of modern times. It must not only be remembered, but placed in the most prominent position, when history sums up this chapter in human development. Since Luther's time it has been the custom to consider the Papacy of the Renaissance almost exclusively as viewed by theologians who emphasised only moral defects in the representatives of this institution and the neglect of ecclesiastical reform. Certainly these are important considerations, and our further deductions will prove that we do not neglect them nor underestimate their immense significance for the life of the Church and Catholic unity. But from this standpoint we can never succeed in grasping the situation. Ranke in his Weltgeschichte could write the history of the first hundred years of the Roman Empire, without giving one word to all the scandalous tales that Suetonius records. The course of universal history and the importance of the Empire for the wide provinces of the Roman world were little influenced by them. Similarly, private faults of the Renaissance Popes were fateful for the moral life of the Church, but the question of what the Papacy was and meant for these times, is not summed up or determined by them. It is the right of these Popes to be judged by the better and happier sides of their government; the historian who portrays them should not be less skilful than the great masters of the Renaissance, who in their portraits of the celebrities of their time contrived to bring out the sitter's best and most characteristic qualities. Luther was not touched in the least degree by the artistic development of his time; brought up amid the peasant life of Saxony and Thuringia he had no conception of the whole world that lay between Dante and Michelangelo, and could not see that the eminence of the Papacy consisted at that time in its leadership of Europe in the province of art. But to deny this now would be injustice to the past.
The Medici had not stood aloof from this evolution, which reached its highest point under Julius II. Search has been made for the bridge by means of which the ideas of Marsilio and his fellow thinkers were brought from Florence to Rome. But there is no real need to guess at definite personages. Hundreds of correspondents had long since made all Italy familiar with this school of thought. Among those who frequented the Court of Rome, Castiglione, Bibbiena, Sadoleto, Inghirami, and Beroaldus had been educated in the spirit of Marsilio. His old friend and correspondent Raffaelle Riario was now, as Cardinal of San Giorgio and the Pope's cousin, one of the most influential personages in the Vatican. But before all we must remember Giovanni de' Medici and his cousin Giulio, the future Popes. They were Marsilio's pupils, and after the banishment of their family he remained their friend and corresponded with them, regarding them as the true heirs of Lorenzo's spirit; Raffaelle has represented the older cousin Giovanni standing near Julius II in the Bestowal of Spiritual Laws.
It was a kingdom of intellectual unity, which the brush of the greatest of painters was commissioned to paint on the walls of the Camera della Segnatura; the same idea which Julius caused to be proclaimed in 1512, in the opening speech of Aegidius of Viterbo at the Lateran Council, referring to the classical proverb: "ἁπλοῦς ὁ μῦθος τῆς ἀληθείας ἔφυ—simplex sermo veritatis." The world of the beautiful, of reason and science, of political and social order, had its place appointed in the kingdom of God upon earth. A limit was set to the neglect of secular efforts to explore nature and history, to the disregard of poetry and art, and its rights were granted to healthy human reason organised in the State; Gratiae et Musae a Deo sunt atque ad Deum referendae, as Marsilio had said.
The programme laid down by Julius II, had it been carried out, might have saved Italy and preserved the Catholic principle, when imperilled in the North. The task was to bring modern culture into harmony with Christianity, to unite the work of the Renaissance, so far as it was really sound and progressive, with ecclesiastical practice and tradition into one harmonious whole. The recognition of the rights of intellectual activity, of the ideal creations of human fancy, and of the conception of the State, were the basis for this union. It remains to be shown why the attempt proved fruitless.
The reign of Julius II was one long struggle. The sword never left his grasp, which was more used to the handling of weapons than of Holy Writ. On the whole, the Pope might at the close of his pontificate be contented with the success of his politics. He had driven the French from Italy, and the retreat of Louis XII from Lombardy opened the gates of Florence once more to the Medici. The Council of Pisa, for which France had used her influence, had come to naught, and its remnant was scattered before the anger of the victorious Pontiff. And as he had freed Italy from the ascendancy of France so he now hoped to throw off that of Spain. It may be a legend that as he was dying he murmured "Fuori i barbari" but these words certainly were the expression of his political thought. But this second task was not within his power. On the 3rd of May, 1512, he had opened the Lateran Council to counteract that of Pisa. At first none of the great Powers was represented there; 15 Cardinals, 14 Patriarchs, 10 Archbishops, and 57 Bishops, all of them Italians, with a few heads of monastic Orders, formed this assembly, which was called the Fifth General Lateran Council. Neither Julius nor Leo was ever able to convince the world that this was an ecumenical assembly of Christendom. Julius died in the night of February 20-1, 1513. Guicciardini calls him a ruler unsurpassed in power and endurance, but violent and without moderation. Elsewhere he says that he had nothing of a priest but vesture and title. The dialogue, Julius Exclusus, attributed sometimes to Hutten, sometimes to Erasmus, and perhaps written by Fausto Andrelini, is the harshest condemnation of the Pope and his reign ("O phreneticum, sed mundanum, ne mundanum quidem, sed Ethnicum, imo Ethnicis sceleratiorem: gloriaris te plurimum potuisse ad discindenda foedera, ad inflammanda bella, ad strages hominum excitandas"). But at bottom the pamphlet is exceedingly one-sided and the outcome of French party-spirit. Although in many cases the author speaks the truth, and for instance even at that time (1513) unfortunately was able to put such words into the Pope's mouth as "Nos Ecclesiam vocamus sacras aedes, sacerdotes, et praecipue Curiam Romanam, me imprimis, qui caput sum Ecclesiae," yet this is more a common trait of the office than a characteristic of Julius II. It almost raises a smile to read in Pallavicino, that on his death-bed the magnanimity of Julius was only equalled by his piety, and that, although he had not possessed every priestly perfection—perhaps because of his natural inclinations, or because of the age, which had not yet been disciplined by the Council of Trent—yet his greatest mistake had been made with the best intention and proved disastrous by a mere chance, when, as Head of the Church, and at the same time as a mighty Prince, he undertook a work that for these very reasons exceeded the means of his treasury—the building of St Peter's. We see that neither his enemies nor his apologists had the least idea wherein Julius' true greatness consisted. With such divided opinions it cannot surprise us that contemporaries and coming generations alike found it difficult to form a reasoned and final judgment of the pontificate which immediately followed.
Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici came forth from the conclave summoned on March 4, 1513, as Pope Leo X. Since Piero had been drowned on the 9th of December, 1503, Giovanni had become the head of the House of Medici. He was only 38 years of age at the election, to which he had had himself conveyed in a litter from Florence to Rome, suffering from fistula. The jest on his shortsightedness, "multi coed Cardinales creavere caecum decimum Leonem," by no means expressed public opinion, which rejoiced at his accession. The Possesso, which took place on April llth, with the great procession to the Lateran, was the most brilliant spectacle of its kind that Christian Rome had ever witnessed. What was expected of Leo was proclaimed in the inscription which Agostino Chigi had attached to his house for the occasion:
"Olim habuit Cypris sua tempora, tempora Mavors
Olim habuit, sua nunc tempora Pallas habet."
But other expectations were not wanting and a certain goldsmith gave voice to them in the line:
"Mars fuit; est Pallas; Cypria semper ero."
To Leo X the age owed its name. The Saecla Leonis have been called the Saecla Aurea, and his reign has been compared with that of Augustus. Erasmus, who saw him in Rome in 1507 and 1509, praises his kindness and humanity, his magnanimity and his learning, the indescribable charm of his speech, his love of peace and of the fine arts, which cause no sighs, no tears; he places him as high above all his predecessors as Peter's Chair is above all thrones in the world. Pallavicino says of Leo that he was well-known for his kindness of heart, learned in all sciences, and had passed his youth in the greatest innocence. That as Pope he let himself be blinded by appearances, which often confuse the good with the great, and chose rather the applause of the crowd than the prosperity of the nation, and thus was tempted to exercise too magnificent a generosity. Such expressions from one who is the unconditional apologist of all the Popes cannot make much impression, but it is noticeable that even Sarpi says: "Leo, noble by birth and education, brought many aptitudes to the Papacy, especially a remarkable knowledge of classical literature, humanity, kindness, the greatest liberality, an avowed intention of supporting artists and learned men, who for many years had enjoyed no such favour in the Holy See. He would have made an ideal Pope had he added to these qualities some knowledge of the things of religion, and a little more inclination to piety, both of them things for which he cared little."
The favourable opinion entertained of Leo X by his contemporaries long held the field in history. His reign has been regarded as at once the zenith and cause of the greatest period of the Renaissance. His wide liberality, his unfeigned enthusiasm for the creations of genius, his unprejudiced taste for all that beautifies humanity, and his sympathy for all the culture of his time have been the theme of a traditional chorus of laudation. More recent criticism has recognised in the reign of Leo a period of incipient decline, and has traced that decline to the follies and frailties of the Pontiff.
With regard to the political methods of Leo some difference of opinion may still be entertained. Some have seen in him the single-minded and unscrupulous friend of Medicean Florence, prepared to sacrifice alike the interests of the Church and of the Papacy to the advancement of his family. To others he is the clear-sighted statesman who, perceiving the future changes and difficulties of the Church, sought for the Papacy the firm support of a hereditary alliance.
Truth may lie midway between these two opinions. If we view Leo as a man, similar doubts encounter us. Paramount in his character were his gentleness and cheerfulness, his good-nature, his indulgence both for himself and others, his love of peace and hatred of war. But these amiable qualities were coupled with an insincerity and a love of tortuous ways which grew to be a second nature. Nor must we overlook the fact that Leo's policy of peace was a mere illusion; his hopes and intentions were quite frustrated by the actual course of affairs. On his personal character the great blot must rest that he passed his life in intellectual self-indulgence and took his pleasure in hunting and gaming, while the Teutonic North was bursting the bonds of reverence and authority which bound Europe to Rome. Even for the restoration of the rule of the Medici in Florence the Medicean Popes made only futile attempts. Cosimo I was the first to accomplish it. Leo had absorbed the culture of his time, but he did not possess the ability to look beyond that time. A diplomatist rather than a statesman, his creations were only the feats of a political virtuoso, who sacrificed the future in order to control the present.
Even the greatness of the Maecenas crumbles before recent criticism. The zenith of Renaissance culture falls in the age of Julius II. Ariosto's light verses, Bibbiena's prurient La Calandria, the paintings in the bath-room of the Vatican, the rejection of the Dante monument planned by Michelangelo, the misapplication of funds collected for the Crusade to purposes of mere dynastic interest, Leo's political double-dealing, which disordered all the affairs of Italy, and indeed of Christendom; all this must shake our faith in him as protector of the good and beautiful in art. His portrait by Raffaelle, with its intelligent but cold and sinister face, may assist to destroy any illusions which we may have had about his personality.
The harshness and violence of Leo's greater predecessor, Julius, brought down on him the hatred of his contemporaries and won for his successor an immense popularity without further effort. The spiritual heir of Lorenzo il Magnifico, Rome and all Italy acclaimed Leo pacis restauratorem, felicissimum litteratorum amatorem; and Erasmus proclaimed to the world that "an age, worse than that of iron, was suddenly transformed into one of gold." And there can be no doubt that when Leo X was greeted on his accession, like Titus, as the deliciae generis humani he made every disposition to respond to these expectations and prove himself the most liberal of patrons. The Pope, however, did not long keep this resolution; his weakness of purpose, his inclination to luxury, enjoyment, and pleasures, soon quenched his sense of the gravity of life and all his higher perceptions; so that a swift and sad decline followed on the first promise.
On Leo's accession he found a number of great public buildings in progress which had been begun under his great predecessor but were still unfinished. Among them were the colossal palace planned by Bramante in the Via Giulia, St Peter's also begun by him, and his work of joining the Vatican with the Belvedere, besides the loggie and buildings in Loreto. Leo, who was not in the least affected by the passion of building—il mal di pietra—did not carry on these undertakings. He even hindered Michelangelo from finishing the tomb of Julius II, so little reverence had he for the memory of the Pope to whom he owed his own position. Only the loggie were finished, since they could not remain as Bramante had left them. Even after Bramante's death there was no lack of architects who could have finished St Peter's. Besides Raffaelle, who succeeded to his post as architect, Sangallo and Sansovino, Peruzzi and Giuliano Leno waited in vain for commissions. While Raffaelle in a letter relates that the Pope had set aside 60,000 ducats a year for the continuation of the building, and talked to Fra Giocondo about it every day, he might soon after have told how Leo went no further, but stopped at the good intention. As a matter of fact work almost entirely ceased because the money was not forthcoming. There is therefore no reason to reproach Raffaelle with the delay in building. On the contrary, by not pressing Leo to an energetic prosecution of the work, Raffaelle probably did the building the greatest service; since the Pope's mind was full of plans, for which Bramante's great ideas would have been entirely forsaken. No one could see more clearly than Raffaelle the harm which would have thus resulted.
Leo X not only neglected the undertakings of his predecessor; he created nothing new in the way of monumental buildings beyond the portico of the Navicella, and a few pieces of restoration in San Cosimate and St John Lateran. The work he had done beyond the walls in his villas and hunting lodges (in Magliana, at Palo, Montalto, and Montefiascone) served only the purposes of his pleasure. Of the more important palaces built in the city two fall to the account of his relatives Lorenzo and Giulio, that of the Lanti (Piazza de' Caprettari) and the beautiful Villa Madama on the Monte Mario, begun by Raffaelle, Giulio Romano, and Giovanni da Udine, but never finished. Cardinal Giulio de' Medici it was who carried on the building of the Sacristy in San Lorenzo at Florence, in which Michelangelo was to place the tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo; but the façade which the Pope had planned for the church was never executed. Nor were any of the palaces built by dignitaries of the Church under Leo X of importance, with the exceptions of a part of the Palazzo Farnese and the Palazzo di Venezia. Even the palaces and dwelling-houses built by Andrea Sansovino, Sangallo, and Raffaelle will not bear comparison with the creations of the previous pontificate, nor with the later parts of the Palazzo Farnese at Caprarola.
Sculpture had flourished under Pius II in the days when Mino of Fiesole and Paolo Romano were in Rome; it could point to very honourable achievements under Alexander VI and Julius II (Andrea Sansovino's monuments of the Cardinals Basso and Sforza in Santa Maria del Popolo); but this art also declined under Leo X; for the work done by Andrea Sansovino in Loreto under his orders falls in the time of Clement VII, after whose death in 1534 the greater part of the plastic ornament of the Santa Casa was executed. The cardinals and prelates who died in Rome between 1513 and 1521 received only poor and insignificant monuments, and Leo's colossal statue in Ara Celi, the work of Domenico d' Amio, can only be called a soulless monstrosity.
Painting flourished more under this Pope, who certainly was a faithful patron and friend to Raffaelle. The protection he showed to this great master is and always will be Leo's best and noblest title to fame. But he allowed Leonardo to go to France, when after Bramante's death he might easily have won him, had he bestowed on him the post of piombatore apostolico, instead of giving it to his maître de plaisirs, the shallow-minded Fra Mariano (sannio cucullatus). He allowed Michelangelo to return to Florence, and, though he loaded Raffaelle with honours, it is a fact that he was five years behindhand with the payment of his salary as architect of St Peter's. A letter of Messer Baldassare Turini da Pescia turns on the ridiculous investiture of the jester Mariano with the tonaca of Bramante, performed by the Pope himself when Bramante was scarce cold in his grave. This leaves a most painful impression, and makes it very doubtful whether Leo ever took his patronage of the arts very seriously. In the same way his love of peace is shown in a very strange light during the latter half of his reign by the high-handed campaign against the Duke of Urbino (1516); the menace to Ferrara (1519); the crafty enticing of Giampaolo Baglione, Lord of Perugia, to Rome and his murder despite the safe-conduct promised him; the war against Ludovico Freducci, Lord of Fermo; the annexation of the towns and fortresses in the province of Ancona; the attempt on the life of the Duke of Ferrara; the betrayal of Francis I and the league with Charles V in 1521. The senseless extravagance of the Court, the constant succession of very mundane festivals, hunting-parties, and other amusements, left Leo in continual embarrassment for money and led him into debt not only to all the bankers but to his own officials. They even drove him to unworthy extortion, such as followed on the conspiracy of Cardinal Petrucci and the pardon granted to his accomplices, or that which was his motive for the creation of thirty-one cardinals in a single day.
All this taken together brings us to the conclusion that Leo's one real merit was his patronage of Raffaelle. Despite the noble and generous way in which his reign began the Pope soon fell into an effeminate life of self-indulgence spent among players and buffoons, a life rich in undignified farce and offensive jests, but poor in every kind of positive achievement. The Pope laughed, hunted, and gambled; he enjoyed the papacy. Had he not said to his brother Giuliano on his accession: "Godiamoci il papato poichè Dio ci l' ha dato?" Though he himself has not been accused of sensual excesses the moral sense of the Pope could not be delicate when he found fit to amuse himself with indecent comedies like La Calandria, and on April 30, 1518, attended the wedding of Agostino Chigi with his concubine of many years' standing, himself placing the ring on the hand of the bride, already mother of a large family.
Nor can Leo's reign, apart from his own share in it, be regarded as the best period of the Renaissance. The great masters had done their best work before 1513. Bramante died at the beginning of Leo's pontificate, Michelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel from 1508 to 1512, Leonardo the Cena in 1496, Raffaelle the Stanza della Segnatura, 1508-11. The later Stanze are far inferior to that masterpiece; the work of his pupils comes more to the fore in the execution of the paintings. And in his own work, as also in that of Michelangelo, the germ of decadence is already visible, and a slight tendency to barocco style is to be seen in both. The autumn wind is blowing, and the first leaves begin to fall.
The truth results that the zenith of Renaissance art falls in the time between 1496 and 1512, during which the Last Supper, the roof of the Sistine Chapel, and the Stanza della Segnatura were painted, and Bramante's plans for St Peter's were drawn up. We can even mark a narrower limit, and say that the four wall-paintings of the Stanza della Segnatura mark the point at which medieval and modern thought touch one another; the narrow medieval world ceases, the modern world stands before us developed in all its fulness and freedom. One may indeed doubt whether all the meaning of this contrast was quite clear to the mind of Julius II; but after all that is a matter of secondary importance. For it is not the individual who decides in such matters; without being aware of it he is borne on by his time and must execute the task that history has laid upon him. Great men of all times are those who have understood the cry from the inmost heart of a whole nation or generation, and, consciously or unconsciously, have accomplished what the hour demanded.
It has been in like manner represented that literature passed through a golden age under Leo X; but considerable deductions must be made from the undiscriminating eulogies of earlier writers.
Erasmus has reflected in his letters the great impression made by Rome, the true seat and home of all Latin culture. Well might Cardinal Raffaelle Riario write to him: "Everyone who has a name in science throngs hither. Each has a fatherland of his own, but Rome is a common fatherland, a foster-mother, and a comforter to all men of learning." It is long since these words were written—far too long for the honour of Catholicism and of the Papacy. But at that time, under Julius II, they were really true. A circle of highly cultured cardinals and nobles, Riario, Grimani, Adriano di Corneto, Farnese, Giovanni de' Medici himself in his beautiful Palazzo Madama, his brother Giuliano U Magnifico, and his cousin Giulio, afterwards Clement VII, gathered poets and learned men about them, that dotta compagnia of which Ariosto spoke; to them they opened their libraries and collections. Clubs were formed which met at the houses of Angelo Colocci, Alberto Rio di Carpi, Goritz, or Savoja. The poets and pamphleteers, to whom Arsilli dedicated his poem De Poetis Urbanis, gave vent to their wit on Pasquino or on Sansovino's statue in Sant' Agostino. They met in the salons of the beautiful Imperia, in the banks described by Bandello, among them Beroaldo the younger, who sang the praises of that most celebrated of modern courtesans; Fedro Inghirami, the friend of Erasmus and Raffaelle; Colocci, and even the serious Sadoleto. It is characteristic of this time, which placed wit and beauty above morals, that when Imperia died at the age of twenty-six she received an honourable burial in the chapel of San Gregorio, and her epitaph praised the "Cortisana Romana quae, digna tanto nomine, rarae inter homines formae specimen dedit." And although women no longer played so prominent a part at the papal Court as they had done under Innocent VIII and Alexander VI, yet, as Bibbiena wrote to Giuliano de' Medici, the arrival of noble ladies was extremely welcome as bringing with it something of a corte de' donne.
The activity of the greater number of literary men and wits, whose names have most contributed to the glory of Leo's pontificate, dates back to Giulio's time; so for instance Molza, Vida, Giovio, Valeriano, whose dialogue De Infelicitate Litteratorum tells of the fate of many of his friends, Porzio, Cappella, Bembo, who as Latinist was the chief representative of the cult of Cicero, and as a writer in the vulgar tongue gave Italy her prose, and Sadoleto, who chronicled the discovery of the Laocoon group. Pontano too and Sannazaro, Fracastan and Navagero had already done their best work.
Nothing could be more unjust than to deny that Giovanni de' Medici himself had a highly cultured mind and an excellent knowledge of literature. It may be that Lorenzo had destined him for the Papacy from his birth; certainly he gave him the most liberal education. He gave him Poliziano, Marsilio, Pico della Mirandola, Johannes Argyropoulos, Gentile d' Arezzo for his teachers and constant companions, and, to teach him Greek, Demetrius Chalcondylas and Petrus Aegineta. Afterwards Bernardo di Dovizi (Bibbiena) was his best known tutor. In belles lettres Giovanni had made an attempt with Greek verses, none of which have survived. Of his Latin poems the only examples handed down to us are the hendecasyllables on the statue of Lucrezia and an elegant epigram, written during his pontificate, on the death of Celso Mellini, well known for his lawsuit in 1519 and his tragic death by drowning.
Nor can it be denied that the opening years of this pontificate were of great promise, and seemed to announce a fresh impetus, or, to speak more exactly, the successful continuation of what had long since begun. Amongst the men whom the young Pope gathered round him were many of excellent understanding and character, such as the Milanese Agostino Trivulzio, who later on was to do Clement signal service, Alessandro Cesarini, Andrea della Valle, Paolo Emilio Cesi, Baldassare Turini, Tommaso de Vio, Lorenzo Campeggi, the noble Ludovico di Canossa, from Verona, most of whom wore the cardinal's hat. Bembo and Sadoleto were the chief ornaments of his literary circle; to them was added the celebrated Greek John Lascaris, once under the protection of Bessarion, then of Lorenzo il Magnifico and Louis XII, in France the teacher of Budaeus, in Venice of Erasmus. Leo X on his accession at once summoned him to Rome, and on his account founded a school of Greek in the palace of the Cardinal of Sion on Monte Cavallo. Lascaris' pupil, Marcus Musurus, was also summoned from Venice in 1516 to assist in this school. At the same time the Pope commissioned Beroaldus to publish the newly-discovered writings of Tacitus. A measure, which might have proved of the utmost importance, was the foundation of the university of Rome by the Bull Dum Suavissimos of November 4, 1513. This was a revival and confirmation of an already existing Academy, in which under Alexander VI and Julius II able men such as Beroaldo the younger, Fedro, Casali, and Pio had taught, and to which now others were summoned, among them Agostino Nifo, Botticella, Cristoforo Aretino, Chalcondylas, Parrasio, and others. Vigerio and Tommaso de Vio (Cardinal of Gaeta) also lectured on theology, and Giovanni Gozzadini on law. Petrus Sabinus, Antonio Fabro of Amiterno, and Raffaelle Brandolini are mentioned among the lecturers, and even a Professor of Hebrew, Agacius Guidocerius, was appointed. Cardinal Raffaelle Riario acted as Chancellor. The list of the professors given by Renazzi numbers 88: 11 in canon law, 20 in law, 15 in medicine, and 5 in philosophy. It was another merit of Leo's that he established a Greek printing-press, which printed several books in 1517 and 1518. Chigi had some years before set up a Greek press in his palace, from which came the first Greek book printed in Rome, a Pindar, in 1515. The Pope himself kept up his interest in Greek studies, and retained as custodian of his private library one of the best judges of the Greek idiom, Guarino di Favera, who published the first Thesaurus linguae Graecae in 1496, and whom he nominated Bishop of Novara.
Unfortunately these excellent beginnings were for the most part not carried on. It was not Leo's fault, but his misfortune, that many of the most gifted men he had summoned were soon removed by death. But we cannot acquit him of having ceded Lascaris like Leonardo to France in 1518, and allowed Bembo to return discontented to Padua; he did not secure Marcantonio Flaminio, and held Sadoleto at a distance for a very long time. The continual dearth of money in the papal treasury was no doubt the chief cause of this change of policy. Even before 1517 the salaries of the professors could not be paid, and their number had to be diminished. And this was the necessary consequence of Leo's ridiculous prodigality on his pleasures and his Court. Well might a Fra Mariano exclaim "beviamo al babbo santo, che ogni altra cosa è burla." Serious and respectable men left him and a pack of "pazzi, buffoni e simil sorta di piacevoli" remained in the Pope's audience chambers, with whom he, the Pope himself, gamed and jested day after day "cum risu et hilaritate." Such were the people that he now raised to honour and position; what money he had he spent for their carousals. No wonder that this vermin flattered his vanity and sounded his praises as "Leo Deus noster." But beside this we must remember, that, as is universally admitted, Leo was extremely generous to the poor. The anonymous author of the Vita Leonis X, reprinted in Roscoe's Life, gives express evidence as to this, "egentes pietate ac liberalitate est prosecutus," and adds that, according to accounts which are, however, not very well attested, he supported needy and deserving ecclesiastics of other nationalities. But he too remarks, that Leo's chief, if not his only, anxiety was to lead a pleasant and untroubled life; in consequence of which he spent his days at music and play, and left the business of government entirely in the hands of his cousin Giulio, who was better fitted for the task and an industrious worker. Unfortunately he admitted to his games of cards not only buffoons, but also corrupt men like Pietro Aretino, who is found living on the Pope's generosity in 1520, and who by way of return extolled him as the pattern of all pontiffs. The appointment of the German Jew Giammaria as Castellan and Count of Verrucchio was even in Rome an unusual reward for skilled performance on the lute, and even for the third successor of Alexander VI it was venturesome to let the poet Querno, attired as Venus and supported by two Cupids, declaim verses to him at the Cosmalia in 1519. We have already mentioned the scandalous carnival of that year, and the theatre for which Raffaelle was forced to paint the scenery. A year later an unknown savant, under the mask of Pasquino, complained of the sad state of the sciences in Rome, of the exile of the Muses, and the starvation of professors and literary men.
From all this data the conclusion has been drawn that Leo X was by no means a Maecenas of the fine arts and sciences; that the high enthusiasm for them shown in his letters, as edited by Bembo and Sadoleto, betrays more of the thoughts of his clever secretary than his own ideas; and that his literary dilettantism was lacking in all artistic perception, and all delicate cultivation of taste. Leo has been thought to owe his undeserved fame to the circumstance that he was the son of Lorenzo, and that his accession seemed at the time destined to put an end to the sad confusions and wars of the last decades. Moreover, throughout the long pontificate of Clement VII, and equally under the pressure of the ecclesiastical reaction in the time of Paul IV, no allusion was allowed to the wrongdoing of this Leonine period; till at last the real circumstances were so far forgotten, that the fine flower of art and literature in the first twenty years of the sixteenth century was attributed to the Medicean Pope.
But there are points to be noted on the other side. Even if we discount much of the praise which Poliziano lavishes on his pupil in deference to his father, we cannot question the conspicuous talent of Giovanni de' Medici, the exceptionally careful literary education which he had enjoyed, and his liberal and wise conduct during his cardinalship. We must also esteem it to his credit that as Pope he continued to be the friend of Raffaelle, and that in Rome and Italy at least he did not oppress freedom of conscience, nor sacrifice the free and noble character of the best of the Renaissance. Nor can it be overlooked that his pontificate made an excellent beginning, though certainly the decline soon set in; the Pontiff's good qualities became less apparent, his faults more conspicuous, and events proved that, as in so many other instances, the man's intrinsic merit was not great enough to bear his exaltation to the highest dignity of Christendom without injury to his personality.
Such a change in outward position, promotion to an absolute sway not inherited, intercourse with a host of flatterers and servants who idolised him (there were 2000 dependents at Leo's Court)—all this is almost certain to be fatal to the character of the man to whose lot it falls. Seldom does the possessor of the highest dignity find this enormous burden a source and means of spiritual illumination and moral advancement. Mediocre natures soon develop an immovable obstinacy, the despair of any reasonable adviser, and which is none the more tolerable for having received the varnish of a piety that worships itself. Talented natures too easily fall victims to megalomania, and by extravagant and ill-considered projects and undertakings drag their age with them into an abyss of ruin. Weak and sensual natures give themselves up to enjoyment, and consider the highest power merely as a licence to make merry. Leo was not a coarse voluptuary like Alexander VI, but he certainly was an intellectual Epicurean such as has seldom been known. Extremes should be avoided in forming a judgment of the pontificate and character of this prince. Not the objective historian, but the flattering politician, spoke in Erasmus when he lauded the three great benefits which Leo had conferred on humanity: the restoration of peace, of the sciences, and of the fear of God. It was a groundless suspicion that overshot the mark, when Martin Luther accused Leo of disbelief in the immortality of the soul; and John Bale (1574) spread abroad the supposed remark of the Pope to Bembo: "All ages can testifye enough, how profitable that fable of Christ has been to us and our compagnie." Hundreds of writers have copied this from Bale without verification. Much of Leo's character can be explained by the fact that he was a true son of the South, the personification of the soft Florentine temperament. This accounts for his childish joy in the highest honour of Christendom, "Questo mi da piacere, che la mia tiara!" The words of the office which he was reading, when five days before his death news was brought to him of the taking of Milan by his troops, may well serve as motto for this reign, lacking not sunshine and glory, but all serious success and all power: "Ut sine timore de manu inimicorum nostrorum liberati serviamus illi." This pontificate truly was, as Gregorovius has described it, a revelry of culture, which Ariosto accompanied with a poetic obbligato in his many-coloured Orlando. This poem was in truth "the image of Italy revelling in sensual and intellectual luxury, the ravishing, seductive, musical, and picturesque creation of decadence, just as Dante's poem had been the mirror of the manly power of the nation."
On December 27, 1521, a Conclave assembled, which closed on January 9, 1522, by the election of the Bishop of Tortosa as Adrian VI. He was born at Utrecht in 1459 and when a professor in Louvain was chosen by the Emperor Maximilian to be tutor to his grandson Charles. Afterwards he was sent as ambassador to Ferdinand the Catholic, who bestowed on him the Bishopric of Tortosa; Leo X made him Cardinal in 1517. This Conclave, attended by thirty-nine cardinals, offered a spectacle of the most disgraceful party struggles, but mustered enough unanimity to propose to the possible candidates a capitulation, by the terms of which the towns of the Papal States were divided amongst the members of the Conclave, and hardly anything of the temporal power was left to the Pope. The Cardinals de' Medici and Cajetan (de Vio) rescued the assembly from this confusion of opinions and unruly passions by proposing an absent candidate. None of the factions had thought of Adrian Dedel; the astonished populace heaped scorn and epigrams on the Cardinals and their choice. Adrian, who was acting as Charles' vicegerent in Spain at the time of his election, could not take up his residence at Rome till August 29; it then looked, as Castiglione says, like a plundered abbey; the Curia was ruined and poverty-stricken, half their number had fled before the prevailing pestilence. The simple-minded old man had brought his aged housekeeper with him from the Netherlands; he was contented with few servants and spent but a ducat a day for maintenance. He would have preferred to live in some simple villa with a garden; in the Vatican among the remains of heathen antiquity he seemed to himself to be rather a successor of Constantine than of St Peter. His plan of action included the restoration of peace to Italy and Europe, a protective war against the invading Turks, the reform of the Curia and the Church, and the establishment of peace in the German Church. Not one of these tasks was he able to fulfil; he was destined only to show his good intentions. We shall deal presently with his attempts at reformation, which have for all time made him worthy of admiration and his short pontificate memorable. He was not lacking in good intentions to make Rome once more the centre of intellectual life; but Reuchlin had lately died; Erasmus, to whom the Pope had written on December 1, 1522, preferred to remain in Germany; Sadoleto went to Carpentras; and Bembo, who thought Adrian's pontificate even more unfortunate than Leo's death, stayed quietly in northern Italy. Evidently no one had confidence in the permanency of a state of things which could not but appear abnormal to everybody. And indeed, the silent, pedantic Dutchman, with his cold nature, his ignorance of Italian, his handful of servants, "Flemings stupid as a stone," was the greatest possible contrast to everything that the refinement of Italian culture and the well-justified element of Latin grace and charm demanded of a prince. The Italians would have put up for a year or two at least with an austere and pious Pope, if his piety had been blended with something of poetry and grace; but this Dutch saint was utterly incomprehensible to them. And in truth this was not entirely their fault. As Girolamo Negri wrote, one really could apply to him Cicero's remark about Cato: "he behaves as if he had to do with Plato's Republic instead of the scum of the earth that Romulus collected." And it must have been unbearable for the Romans that the new Pope should have as little comprehension for all the great art of the Renaissance as for classical antiquity. He wanted to throw Pasquino into the Tiber because the jests pasted on the statue irritated him; at the sight of the Laocoon he turned away with the words, "These are heathen idols." He closed the Belvedere, and even a man like Negri was seriously afraid that some day the Pope would follow the supposed example of Gregory, and have all the heathen statues broken and used as building stones for St Peter's.
In a word, despite the best intentions, despite clear insight, Adrian was not adequate to his task. The moment demanded a Pope who could reconcile and unite all the great and valuable elements of the Italian Renaissance, the ripened fruit of the modern thought sprung from Dante and Petrarch, with the conceptions and conscience of the Germanic world. Both the German professors who now posed as leaders of Christendom, Adrian Dedel and Martin Luther, were lacking in the historic and aesthetic culture which would have enabled them to understand the value of Roman civilisation. Erasmus saw further than either of them, but the discriminating critic lacked the unselfish nobility of soul and the impulse which can only be given by a powerful religious excitement, an unswerving conviction, the firm faith in a personal mission confided by Providence. He too, despite his immense erudition, his deep insight, left the world to its own devices when it required a mediator; for a gentle and negative criticism of human folly is, taken by itself, of little value.
Adrian could neither gain the mastery over Luther's Reformation, nor succeed in reforming even the Roman Curia, to say nothing of the whole Church. The luxurious Cardinals went on with their pleasant life; when he came to die they demanded his money and treated him, as the Duke of Sessa expressed it, like a criminal on the rack. The threat of war between France and the German Empire lay all the while like an incubus on his pontificate. With heavy heart the most peace-loving of all the Popes, reminded by Francis I of the days of Philip the Fair, was at last obliged to enter into a treaty with England and Germany. Adrian survived to see war break out in Lombardy; he died on the day when the French crossed the Ticino, September 14, 1523. Giovio and Guicciardini relate that some wag wrote on the door of his physician, "To the deliverer of the Fatherland, from the senate and people of Rome." Little as the people were delighted with the pontificate of this last German Pope, he was no better pleased with it himself. He spoke of his throne as the chair of misery, and said in his first epitaph, that it was his greatest misfortune to have attained to power. The epitaph written for his tomb in Santa Maria dell' Anima by his faithful servant, the Datary and Cardinal Enckenvoert, was certainly the best motto for this man and his pontificate: "Proh dolor! quantum ref'ert in quae tempora vel optimi cuiusque virtus incidat."
A Conclave of thirty-three electors assembled on the 1st of October, 1523. Some sided with the Emperor, some with the French, but the imperial party was also divided. Pompeo Colonna made an enemy of the future Pope by opposing his candidature, and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in vain offered the ambassadors of both sides 200,000 ducats. Cardinal Wolsey once again made all kinds of offers, but there was now a feeling against all foreigners. During the night of the 18th-19th of November Giulio de' Medici was elected. He was the son of Giuliano, who fell in the Pazzi conspiracy. A certain Fioretta, daughter of Antonia, is mentioned as his mother; little or nothing was known in Florence about her and her child. Lorenzo took the orphan into his house and had him brought up with his sons. In 1494 Giulio, then sixteen years of age, followed them into exile. Living for some time in Lombardy, but mostly with Giovanni, on his cousin's rise in power he too was quickly promoted. Leo nominated him Archbishop of Florence, having specially dispensed him from the canonical hindrance of his illegitimate birth. At his very first creation of Cardinals on September 23, 1513, the Pope bestowed on him the title of Cardinal of Santa Maria in Dominica and made him Legate of Bologna, witnesses having first sworn to the virtual marriage of his father Giuliano with Fioretta. During Leo's reign, as we have already seen, Cardinal Giulio had almost all the business of government in his own hands. He secured the election of Adrian, but left Rome and the Pope on October 13, 1522, in the company of Manuel, the imperial envoy, in order to retire to Florence. A difference with Francesco Soderini brought him back in the following April to the Eternal City. He entered it with two thousand horse, and already greeted as the future Pope kept great state in his palace. A few days later Francesco Soderini, accused of high treason, disappeared into the Castle of St Angelo; he was released during the next Council. With the new reign a return of happier times was expected—una Corte florida e un buon Pontefice; the restoration of literature, fled before the barbarians; "est enim Mediceae familiae decus favere Musis." And indeed many things seemed to point to a fortunate pontificate. The new Pope was respected and rich, and now of a staid and sober life. He had ruled Rome well in Leo's day, and as Archbishop of Florence had used his power successfully. He was cautious, economical, but not avaricious; though not an author himself, an admirer of art and science; a lover of beautiful buildings, as his Villa Madama gave proof, and free from his cousin's unfortunate liking for the company of worthless buffoons. He did not hunt, but he was fond of good instrumental music, and liked to amuse himself at table with the conversation of learned men.
Very soon it became clear that Clement VII was one of those men, who, though excellent in a subordinate position, prove unsatisfactory when placed at the head. The characters of both Medici Popes are wonderfully conceived in Raffaelle's portraits: in Leo's otherwise intellectual face there is a vulgarity that almost degenerates into coarseness and sensuality, and with Clement the cold soul, lacking all strong feeling, distrustful, never unfolding itself. "In spite of all his talents," said Francesco Vettori, "he brought the greatest misery on Rome and on himself; he lost courage at once and let go the rudder." Guicciardini too complains of Giulio's faintheartedness, vacillation and indecision as the chief source of his misfortune. This indecision kept him wavering between the counsels of the two men, in whom from the beginning of his reign he placed his confidence; one belonging to the French faction, the other to that of the Emperor. One was like himself a bastard, Giammatteo Giberti, rightly valued by all his contemporaries for his piety, honesty, and insight. He took an active part in the foundation of the Order of the Theatines (1524) by the pious Gaetano da Thiene, afterwards canonised, in company with Caraffa. He was appointed Datary by Clement, and afterwards Bishop of Verona. Gasparo Contarini, writing in 1530, says that he was on more intimate terms with the Pope than were any of his other counsellors, and that in politics he worked in the French interest. He left the Court in 1527 to retire to his bishopric, which he made a model of good government. In Verona he founded a learned society and a Greek printing-press, which published good editions of the Fathers of the Church. Paul III summoned him to Rome several times; it was on his way back that he died in 1543. The Emperor's interests were represented by Clement's other counsellor, Nikolaus von Schomberg, of Meissen, in Saxony. On the occasion of a journey to Italy in 1497, carried away by the preaching of Savonarola in Pisa, he had joined the same monastery. Later, scorned by the populace as a Judas, he had gone over to the party of the Medici, was summoned to Rome as Professor of Theology by Leo X, created Archbishop of Capua in 1520, and often entrusted with diplomatic missions, in which capacity Giulio came to know and value him. Contarini speaks well of him, but evidently only half trusted him. Schomberg received the Cardinal's hat from Paul III in 1534, and died in 1537.
Clement's accession had at once brought about a political change in favour of France. The Pope's policy wavered long between the King and the Emperor; weak towards both of them, undecided, and on occasion faithless enough. On January 5, 1525, he himself announced to the Emperor the conclusion of his treaty with Francis I. The Battle of Pavia, the greatest military event of the sixteenth century (February 24, 1525), made Charles V master of Italy and Francis I his prisoner. By April 1 Clement had made his peace with the Emperor, but soon began to intrigue and tried to form a league against him with Venice, Savoy, Ferrara, Scotland, Hungary, Portugal, and other States; this was mainly the work of Giberti. At this time the bold plan of a League of Freedom, which was to claim the independence of Italy from foreign Powers, was formed by Girolamo Morone; Pescara, the husband of Vittoria Colonna, the real victor at Pavia, was to stand at its head. The conspiracy in which Clement on his own confession (see his letter to Charles V of June 23, 1526) had taken part, was betrayed by Pescara himself; at his instigation Morone named the Pope as the originator of the offers made to Pescara. The veil of secrecy still covers both Pescara's action—Guicciardini characterised it as eterna infamia—and his early death, which occurred on March 30, 1525. The Emperor freely expressed his opinion of the Pope's faithlessness (September 17, 1526). On May 22, 1526, Clement concluded the Holy League of Cognac with Francis, who had returned to France at the beginning of March, his captivity over. This brought on open war with the Emperor, the attack on Rome by the Colonna (September 20), the plundering of the Borgo, the march of the Imperial troops against Rome under the command of Bourbon, the storming of the part of the city named after Leo in which Bourbon fell (May 6, 1527), the flight of the Pope to the Castle of St Angelo, and finally the storming of Rome and the sack which followed it; cruel and revolting to all Christian feeling, it remains to this day a memory of terror for all Italians. No Guiscard appeared this time, as in the days of Gregory VII, to save the beleaguered Pope. On June 5, 1527, he was forced to capitulate, yield the fortress and give himself up to the mercy of the Emperor. When a prisoner and deprived of all his means, Clement bade Cellini melt down his tiara, a symbol of his own position; for the whole temporal power of the Papacy lay at the feet of the Emperor, who could abolish it if he chose. We know that this policy was suggested to him: we know also that Charles had serious thoughts of utilising the position of the Pope for an ecclesiastical reformation, and forcing him to summon the General Council, which all sides demanded. But France and England declared they would recognise no Council until the Pope was set free again, and the Spanish clergy also petitioned for the release of the Head of the Church. Once more the Imperial troops returned to Rome from their summer quarters, and in September, 1527, the city was once more sacked. Veyre arrived as the Emperor's agent to offer Clement freedom on condition of neutrality, a general peace, and the promotion of reform by means of a Council. The agreement was signed on November 26; but on December 8 the Pope escaped to Orvieto, whence on June 1, 1528, he removed to Viterbo. The war proved disastrous for France; Lautrec's defeats, his death by plague (August 15), the terrible state of Italy, which was now but one vast battlefield strewn with corpses, induced Clement at last to side with the Emperor. On October 8, 1528, he returned horror-stricken to half-burnt, starving Rome. Harried by the plague, her population diminished by one-half; her importance for the literary and artistic life of humanity had been for ever marred by the awful events of the year 1527. Those of her artists and learned men who had not fled were maltreated and robbed during the Sack: those that were left were beggars and had to seek their bread elsewhere. Erasmus wrote to Sadoleto (October 1, 1528) that not the city, but the world had perished, and that the present sufferings of Rome were more cruel than those brought on her by the Goths and the Gauls. From Carpentras in 1529 Sadoleto wrote a mournful letter to Colocci, in which he speaks of past glories—a letter aptly called by Gregorovius the swan's song, the farewell to the cheerful world of humanist times.
Clement's participation in the league against Charles and the Empire had favoured the spread of the Lutheran Reformation in Germany. Unwittingly the Pope had become Luther's best ally at the very moment when for Catholicism everything depended on strengthening the Emperor's opposition to the Reformation, which had the hour in its favour. Even after the Sack the Pope was not chiefly concerned for the preservation and improvement of the Church, or for the reparation of the evil done to Rome. What absorbed his attention were the dynastic interests of his own House, which had once more been expelled from Florence, and the restoration of the Papal State. The Emperor could have ended the Temporal Power with a stroke of the pen had he not feared the immense influence of the clergy and the threatening voice of the Inquisition, which did not hesitate to cross the threshold even of the most mighty. Charles needed the Pope, since a lasting enmity with him would have cut the ground from under his feet both in Spain and Germany. He needed him in order to keep his hold on Italy, and by his influence to divide the League. And so the Treaty of Barcelona was brought about (June 29, 1529), whereby the Emperor acknowledged the power of Sforza in Milan, gave the Papal State back to the Pope, undertook to restore Florence to the Medici by force of arms, and as a pledge of friendship to give his illegitimate daughter Margaret to Alessandro de' Medici. The Imperial coronation was moreover to take place in Italy. The "Ladies' Peace" of Cambray (August 5, 1529) confirmed Spanish rule in Italy. Clement crowned Charles Emperor on February 24, 1530, in Bologna, having come thither with sixteen Cardinals. The Emperor left for the diet at Augsburg on June 15. The Pope returned to Rome on April 9; and on August 12 Florence fell after a heroic death-struggle, burying the honour of the Pope in its fall, since he had not hesitated to hand over the freedom of his native town to his family. The republican constitution of the town was formally annulled on April 27, 1532, and Alessandro de' Medici was proclaimed Duke of Florence.
Clement VII is said to have sighed during the siege: "Oh that Florence had never existed!" The Papacy itself, as well as its representative in that time, had good reason to utter this cry; for the fall of the Republic brought about by the Pope and accomplished by the Emperor and his bands of foreign mercenaries, joined the Papacy henceforth to all movements inimical to the freedom and unity of Italy. It delivered over Italy and the Church to the idea of an ecclesiastico-political despotism native to Spain; it severed the bond which in the Middle Ages had kept Rome in touch with the national aims of the Italian people. In December, 1532, Emperor and Pope met once more in Bologna in order to conclude an Italian league. At the same moment Clement was negotiating with France, who did her utmost to draw the Papacy from the embrace of Spain. Francis I proposed the marriage of his second son Henry with Catharine, daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici the younger, and did his very best to help Clement to prevent an assemblage of the Council, as we now know from the disclosures of Antonio Soriano. The marriage of Catharine de' Medici, through whom her House attained to royal honour, was celebrated with great solemnity at Marseilles in October, 1533. Clement himself had come to witness the triumph of his family in the person of his great-niece. The young girl, scarcely more than a child, whom he handed over to the royal House of France, proved a terrible gift to the land; for some thirty-eight years later she contrived the Massacre of St Bartholomew. The jewels which Filippo Strozzi counted over to the French as forming part of the dowry of the little princess,—Genoa, Milan, Naples,—never came into the possession of France, and Henry was forced in the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis to yield all the gains of the French policy of annexation in Italy.
Clement was back in Rome by December 10, 1533, and in the following March annulled Thomas Cranmer's declaration that the marriage of Henry VIII with his sister-in-law Catharine of Aragon was void. The Pope threatened the King with excommunication if he did not re-establish the marriage. The King's answer was the separation of England from the obedience of Rome. Shortly before this the articles of the League of Schmalkalden had recorded the desertion of a considerable part of South Germany to the Reformation. The Council which was to have restored unity to the Church had not come into being. Clement certainly raised hopes of it in the near future at Bologna (January 10, 1533), but only for the sake of appearances. In reality he had every reason to prevent all discussion by a Council of his personal and dynastic policy, and he attained his end by excuses and means which led the Emperor's confessor, Cardinal Garcia de Loaysa (May, 1530), to write to Charles V that this Pope was the most mysterious of beings, that he knew more ciphers than anyone else on earth, and that he would not hear of a Council at any price.
Even the last act of the dying Pope leaves a painful impression. On September 23, 1534, he wrote a long letter to the Emperor, to recommend to his care, not the welfare of the Church or of Italy, but the preservation of the rule of the Medici in Florence, and the protection of his two beloved nephews, the Cardinal Ippolito and Alessandro, whom Clement had appointed to be his heirs.
After a painful illness Clement VII died on September 25, 1534. His friend Francesco Vettori gives testimony that for a century no better man had occupied Peter's Chair than Clement, who was neither cruel nor proud, neither venal, nor avaricious, nor luxurious. And despite of this, he continues, the catastrophe came in his time, while others stained with crime lived and died happily. And indeed many an excellent quality seemed to promise this Medici a happier reign; but he had to atone for his dynastic egotism and for the sins of his predecessors. A fatal confusion of politics and religion bore its bitterest fruits in his pontificate. Rome was ruined, Italy from Milan to Naples was turned into a field of slaughter bathed in blood and tears; the unity of the Church was destroyed, and half Europe fell away from the centre of Christianity. All this was a painful commentary on the theories of political Catholicism and the esteem of that temporal sway over the world which some still affirm to be useful or even necessary to the cause of Christ.
The harmonious union of medieval with modern thought, the organic arrangement of the ideas brought by the Renaissance in the system of Christian Ethics, the inner development of Catholicism on the basis of this harmony as planned in the scheme of the Camera della Segnatura; all this miscarried, and was bound to do so, since the acting powers, on whom devolved the accomplishment of this great scheme, conceived in the true spirit of the Apostle Paul, lacked the ability and enthusiasm necessary for the execution of so enormous a task. The preceding paragraphs have shown to what extent these acting powers were incapable of fulfilling the mission set before them.
The powers at work were two in chief, the Papacy and the Italian nation. We have seen the Papacy of Medicean Rome swayed by political, by worldly considerations, guided in all its actions and decisions by the dynastic interests of its rulers. The religious and moral point of view was ignored in this domain of worldly aims and ideas. The pontificate of Adrian VI, that came as an interlude between those of Leo X and Clement VII, certainly was representative of religious Catholicism,—honourable, wise, sincere. But on the one hand it was of too short a duration to ripen any of its fruits, and on the other it failed, not only because of Italian corruption and the general dislike to foreigners, but also because the last Teutonic Pope could not comprehend the development of Italian culture, the right of the Latin world to its own characteristics, and the aesthetic interests swaying all minds south of the Alps. The predominance of the worldly and sensuous elements in life, in science, and even in art came into play; they did their part in preventing the victory of idealistic views.
Although the Curia was not equal to its task, had Italy been still in a healthy state the nation and public opinion could have forced the Papacy into right courses. But here also corruption had long since set in. Strong moral force, such as proclaims itself in Dante, in Caterina of Siena, was gone from the people; they had but lately given its last prophet to the flames in the Piazza della Signoria at Florence. No nation can sin thus against its best men without punishment. The people of Italy could not put new blood and fresh life into the Curia, because in them the law of the body had triumphed over the law of the spirit. The same observation has to be made in the province of literature. We have spoken of Ariosto; the other productions of the Medicean period in the domain of literature are for the most part trifling and frivolous in their contents. As Gregorovius says, their poets sang the praises of Maecenas and Phryne, they wrote pastorals and epics of chivalry, while the freedom of Italy perished. The theatre, still more early and markedly than pictorial art, cut itself adrift from ecclesiastical subjects and from the whole world of religious ideas. It became not merely worldly, but distinctly pagan, and at the same time incapable of any great creation of lasting value which could touch the heart of the nation. Serious theological literature was almost entirely lacking at Leo's Court and during his pontificate, with the exception of two or three names, such as Sadoleto, Egidio of Viterbo, and Tommaso de Vio. After the death of Raffaelle and Leonardo painting and sculpture at once took a downward path. Michelangelo upheld for himself the great traditions of the best time of the Renaissance for almost another quarter of a century; but he was soon a very lonely man. Decadence showed itself directly after Raffaelle's death, when Marcantonio engraved Giulio Romano's indecent pictures, and Pietro Aretino wrote a commentary on them of still more indecent sonnets. Clement VII, who had at one time received this most worthless of all men of letters as a guest in his Villa Careggi, repulsed him after this. But Aretino was characteristic of his time; what other would have borne with him?
After Raffaelle's death ideas were no longer made the subject of paintings; the world of enjoyment, sweet, earthly, sensual enjoyment, was now depicted before art declined into a chilly mannerism and the composite falseness of eclecticism. A time which is no longer able to give an artistic rendering of ideas is incapable of resolution and of great actions. Not only the Muses and the Graces wept by Raffaelle's grave, the whole Julian epoch was buried with him. During Leo's reign he had undertaken with feverish activity to conjure up not only ancient Rome but the antique ideals. In vain. His unaided force was not enough for the task, and he saw himself deserted by those whom he most needed and on whom he relied. And then came the Sack of Rome; it was the tomb of all this ideal world of the Renaissance period. From the smoking ruins of the Eternal City rose a dense, grey fog, a gloomy, spiritless despotism, utterly out of touch with the joyous spring of the mind of the Italian people whose harbinger was Dante. Under its oppression the intellectual life of the nation soon sank asphyxiated.
The Guelf movement of the Middle Ages, which had its home in the free States of Tuscany and North Italy, was dead and gone; it could no longer give life or withhold it. And the old Ghibelline principle was dead too. No German Emperor arose in whom the dreams of Henry VII could live again. What Charles V sought and attained in the two conferences at Bologna and during his subsequent visit to Rome (April 5, 1536) had nothing whatever to do with the plans of the Emperors before him. The restoration of the Medici in Florence and the Emperor's dealings with the doomed Republic inaugurated that unhappy policy which down to 1866 continued to make the Germans enemies of the Italians. This it was that, after the tribulations of Metternich's government, brought on the catastrophe of Solferino and Sadowa.
The programme of 1510 demanded in the first place a reformation of the Church, both in its head and its members. Let us consider the attitude of Rome under the Medici with regard to this question.
The reformations attempted by the Councils of Constance and Basel had utterly failed. Since Martin V had returned to Rome the Papacy could consider nothing beyond the governing of the Papal State, and since Calixtus III it was involved in dynastic intrigue. Æneas Silvius had stated with the utmost clearness thirteen years before he became Pope that no one in the Curia any longer thought of reformation. Then Savonarola appeared; France and Germany cried out for reform. At the synods of Orleans and Tours (1510) the French decided on the assembling of an Ecumenical Council. In view of the decree Frequens of the Council of Constance, the dilatoriness of the Pope, and the breaking of the oath he had sworn in conclave, the Second Synod of Pisa was convoked (May 16, 1511). It was first and foremost a check offered to Julius II by French politicians, but was also intended to obtain a general recognition by the Church of the principles of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1438 drawn from the articles of the Basel and Constance conventions. This pseudo-synod was attended only by a few French prelates and savants. Meantime the Emperor Maximilian had conferred with the leading theologians of his Empire, such as Geiler von Kaisersberg, Wimpheling, Trithemius, Johann Eck, Matthäus Lang, and Conrad Peutinger, about the state of the Church. In 1510 he commissioned the Schlettstadt professor, Jakob Wimpheling, to draw up a plan of reform, which the latter published in his Gravamina Germanicae Nationis cum remediis et avisamentis ad Caesaream Maiestatem. It is composed of an extract from the Pragmatic Sanction, an essay on the machinations of courtiers, another on the ten grievances, with their remedies, notifications for the Emperor, and an excursus concerning legates. The ten gravamina are the same which Martin Mayr had mentioned as early as 1457 in his epistle to Æneas Silvius.
The Emperor, who since 1507 cherished the wild plan of procuring his own election to the Papacy on the death of Julius, at first gave his protection to the Council of Pisa. Afterwards he withdrew it, and the German Bishops also refused to have anything to do with the schismatic tendencies of the French. On July 18, 1511, Julius II summoned an Ecumenical Council to Rome; it assembled there on April 19, 1512, with a very small attendance composed entirely of Italian prelates. The Spaniards also showed an interest in the work of reformation, as is proved by the noteworthy anonymous Brevis Memoria, published by Döllinger; but they took no part in the Council. Before the opening of the Lateranense V a controversy had arisen on the powers within the scope of Councils. The Milanese jurist Decius had upheld the side of the Pisan Council, so had the anonymous author of the Status Romani Imperii, published in Nardouin, and Zaccaria Ferreni of Vicenza; the chief disputant on the side of the Curia was Tommaso de Vio (Cajetan).
It was a good omen for the Council that the best and most pious man of intellect then in Rome made the opening speech. Aegidius of Viterbo as Principal of the Augustinian Order had worked energetically at the reform of his own Order ever since 1508. Bembo and Sadoleto praised his intellect and his learning, and the latter wrote to the former that, though humanity and the artes humanitatis had been lost to mankind, yet Aegidius alone and unaided could have restored them to us. In his opening speech Aegidius uttered some earnest truths and deep thoughts. He touched on the real source of decadence in the Church, when, perhaps in allusion to Dante's words about the donation of Constantine, he said, "Ita ferme post Constantini tempora, quae ut sacris in rebus multum adiecere splendoris et ornamenti, ita morum et vitae severitatem non parum enervarunt; quoties a Synodis habendis cessatum est, toties vidimus sponsam a sponso derelictam."
Unfortunately the Council did not fulfil the expectations which might have been based on this inaugural address. When Leo X opened the sixth sitting (April 27, 1513) the assembly numbered, besides 22 cardinals and 91 abbots, only 62 bishops. Bishop Simon, of Modena, appealed to the prelates to begin by reforming themselves. At the seventh sitting the preacher, Rio, revived the theory of the two swords. On December 19, 1513, France was officially represented, and at the eighth sitting the Council condemned the heresies taken from the Arabs concerning the human soul, which was explained as humani corporis forma. These had already been denounced at Vienne. Then the theologians were called on to prune "the infected roots of philosophy and poetry." Philosophers were to uphold the truth of Christianity. Bishop Nicholas of Bergamo and Cardinal Cajetan opposed this measure; the first did not wish restrictions to be imposed on philosophers and theologians, the second did not agree that philosophers should be called upon to uphold the truth of the Faith, since in this way a confusion might arise between theology and philosophy, which would damage the freedom of philosophy. At the ninth sitting the curialist, Antonio Pucci, spoke on reform, and said that the clergy had fallen away from love; that the tyranny of inordinate desire had taken its place; that their lives were in opposition to the teaching and canons of the Church. The bull of reformation published after this, Supernae dispositionis arbitrio, was concerned with the higher appointments in the Church, elections, postulations, provisions, the deposing and translation of prelates, commendams, unions, dispensations, reservations; with Cardinals and the Curia; reform in the life of priests and laity; the incomes and immunities of clerics; the wide spread of superstition and false Christianity. The reform of the Calendar was also debated, but at the tenth sitting (May, 1515) proved still unripe for discussion; the sitting was then devoted to the contentions of the bishops and the regular clergy; resolutions were passed concerning money-lenders; and Leo's bull pointed out the duty of furthering beneficial modern institutions. Of great interest is the bull concerning the printing and publishing of books: it attributes the invention of printing to the favour of Heaven, but adds that what was made for the glory of God ought not to be used against Him, for which reason all new books were to be subjected to the censorship of the Bishops and Inquisitors.
The eleventh sitting was occupied with the complaints of the Bishops against the Regulars, whom Aegidius of Viterbo defended (December 19, 1516). It was declared unlawful to foretell coming misfortunes from the pulpit with any reference to a definite date; this was probably a retarded censure on Savonarola. The bull Pastor Aeternus was issued, which proclaimed the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction. Leo declared it null and void, and confirmed the decision of the bull Unam Sanctam issued by Boniface VIII, that all Christians are subject to the Pope. At this point the ordinances for the clergy and their privileges were read. At the twelfth sitting Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola presented his Oratio de Reformandis Moribus to the Pope. In it he announces to Leo that should the Pope delay healing the wounds of society, He whose representative the Pope was would cut off the corrupted members with fire and sword, and scatter them abroad, sending a terrible judgment on the Church. Christ, he said, had cast out the doves and pigeons that were sold in the Temple; why should not Leo exile the worshippers of the many Golden Calves, who had not only a place, but a place of command in Rome? This again was a reminiscence of Savonarola's sermons. Pico had constituted himself his biographer and apologist. It was strange that the flaming words of the prophet should rise once more from the grave at the moment when their terrible prophecy was to be fulfilled in Germany.
On March 16, 1517, the Council closed with its twelfth sitting. It had made many useful orders, and shown good intentions to abolish various abuses. But the carrying out of the contemplated reforms of the Curia was entirely neglected. The Council was from first to last a dead letter, and, even had it gained effect for its resolutions, the catastrophe in the north would not have been averted. For there an inward alienation from Rome had long been going on, ever since the days of Ludwig the Bavarian; little was needed to make it externally also an accomplished fact. Neither Leo nor his Lateran Council had the slightest conception of this state of affairs north of the Alps.
The government of the Church was entirely in the hands of Italians; the Curia could count scarcely more than one or two Germans or English in their number. Terrible retribution was at hand. Leo X had seen no trace of the coming religious crisis, although its forerunners Reuchlin and Erasmus, Wimpheling and Hutten, and the appearance of Obscurorum Virorum Epistolae might well have opened his eyes. His announcement in the midst of all this ferment of the great Absolution for the benefit of St Peter's was a stupendous miscalculation, due to the thoughtless and contemptuous treatment vouchsafed to German affairs in Rome. Instead of directing his most serious attention to them Leo had meantime made his covenant with Francis I at Bologna (December, 1515), on which followed directly the French treaty of 1516. At Bologna the King had renounced the Pragmatic Sanction, in return for which the Pope granted him the right of nomination to bishoprics, abbeys, and conventual priories. It was the most immoral covenant that Church history had hitherto recorded, for the parties presented each other with things that did not belong to them. The French Church fell a victim to an agreement which delivered over her freedom to royal despotism; in return Francis I undertook that the Pope's family should rule in Florence, and as a pledge of the treaty gave a French Princess to the Pope's nephew Lorenzo in marriage.
The hour in which this compact was made was the darkest in Leo's pontificate. North of the Alps this act undermined all confidence in him or in his cousin Clement VII. No further reform of the Church was expected of two Popes who cared more for their dynasty than for the welfare of Christendom. The short interregnum of Adrian VI was, as we have seen, not equal to the task of carrying out the reformation. But it must be remembered that in his reign the worthiest representative of the Church's conscience during the Medicean era came forward once more with a plea for reform. The great document, laid before the Pope at his command, by Aegidius of Viterbo, revealed the disease, when it pointed to the misuse of papal power as the cause of all the harm, and demanded a limitation to the absolutism of the Head of the Church. This tallied with the Pope's ideas, and the celebrated instruction issued to the Nuncio Chieregato (1522), which announced that the disease had come from the head to the members, from the Pope to the prelates, and confessed, "We have all sinned, and there is not one that doeth good."
Alessandro Farnese came forth from the Conclave of 1534 on October 12 as Paul III. A pupil of Pomponio Leto, and at the age of twenty-five, in 1493, invested with the purple by Alexander VI, he had taken part in all phases of the humanistic movement, and shared its glories and its sins. Now the sky had become overcast, but a clear sunny gleam from the best time of the Renaissance still lay over him, though his pontificate was to witness the inroad of Lutheranism on Italy, the appearance of the doctrine of justification by faith, and on the other hand the foundation of the Society of Jesus (September 3, 1539), the convocation of the long wished-for Ecumenical Council of Trent (1542), and also the reorganisation of the Inquisition (1541).
The last Pope of the Renaissance, as we must call Farnese, left as the brightest memory of his reign the record of an effort, which proved fruitless, to unite the last and noblest supporters of the Renaissance who still survived in the service of the Church, for an attempt at reformation. This is celebrated as the Consultum delectorum Cardinalium et aliorum prelatorum de emendanda Ecclesia, and bears the signatures of Contarini, Caraffa, Sadoleto, Reginald Pole, Federigo Fregoso, Giberti, and Cortese. Contarini must be acknowledged to have been the real soul of the movement, which aimed at an inward reconciliation with the German party of reform. All these ideas had root in the conception represented by the scheme of Julius II. The greater number of those who worked at the Consultum of 1538 must be regarded as the last direct heirs of this great inheritance. The Religious Conference of Ratisbon in 1541 forms the crisis in the history of this movement: it was wrecked, not, as Reumont states, by the incompatibility of the principle of subjective opinion with that of authority, but quite as much, if not more so, by the private aims of Bavaria and France. So ended the movement towards reconciliation, and another came into force and obtained sole dominion. This regarded the most marked opposition to Protestantism as the salvation of the Church, and to combat it summoned not only the counter-reformation of the Tridentinum, but every means in its power, even the extremest measures of material force, to its assistance. The representatives of the conciliatory reform movement, Contarini, Sadoleto, Pole, Morone, became suspect and, despite their dignity of Cardinal, were subject to persecution. Even noble ladies like Vittoria Colonna and Giulia Gonzaga were not secure from this suspicion and persecution.
Paul IV (1555-9) and Pius V (1566-72) carried out the Counter-Reformation in Italy. While the pagan elements of humanism merged in the Antitrinitarian and Socinian sects, the Inquisition was stamping out the sola fides belief, but its terrorism at the same time crushed culture and intellectual life out of Italy. The city of Rome recovered from the Sack of 1527; but from the ruin wrought by Caraffa, the nation, or at any rate Papal Rome, never recovered. Whatever intellectual life still remained was forced in the days of Paul III to shrink more and more from publicity. The sonnets which Vittoria Colonna and Michelangelo exchanged, the converse these two great minds held in the garden of the Villa Colonna, of which Francesco d' Ollanda has left us an account, were the last flickerings of a spirit which had once controlled and enriched the Renaissance.
What comparisons must have forced themselves on Michelangelo as all the events since the days of Lorenzo il Magnifico, his first patron, whom he never forgot, passed in review before his great and lonely spirit, now sunk in gloom. We know from Condivi that the impressions Buonarotte had received in his youth exercised a renewed power over his old age. Dante and Savonarola were once his leaders, they had never entirely forsaken him. Now the favole del mondo, as his last poems bear witness, fell entirely into the background before the earnest thoughts that had once filled his mind at the foot of the pulpit in San Marco. His Giudizio Universale sums up the account for his whole existence, and is at the same time the most terrible reckoning, made in the spirit of Dante, with his own nation and its rulers. All that Italy might have become, had she followed the dictates of Dante and Savonarola, floated before his eyes as his brush created that Judge of all the world whose curse falls on those that have exiled and murdered His prophets, neglected the Church, and bartered away the freedom of the nation. His Last Judgment was painted at the bidding of the Pope. Paul III can scarcely have guessed how the artist was searching into the consciences of that whole generation, which was called to execute what Julius had bidden Raffaelle and Michelangelo depict for all Christendom, and which had ignored and neglected its high office.
Since 1541 the Schism was an accomplished fact, a misfortune alike for North and South. The defection of the Germanic world deprived the Catholic Church of an element to which the future belonged after the exhaustion of the Latin races. Perhaps the greatest misfortune lay and still lies, as Newman has said, in the fact that the Latin races never realised, and do not even yet realise, what they have lost in the Germanic races. From the time of Paul III, and still more from that of Paul IV onwards, the old Catholicism changes into an Italianism which adopts more and more the forms of the Roman Curialism. The idea of Catholicity, once so comprehensive, was sinking more and more into a one-sided, often despotic insistence on unity, rendered almost inevitable by the continual struggle with opponents. And this was due, not to the doctrines of the Church, but to her practice. Romanism alone could no longer carry out a scheme such as that of which Julius II had dreamed. It is now clear to all minds what intellectual, moral, and social forces the schism had drawn away; this is manifest even in the fate of Italy. The last remnant of Italian idealism took refuge in the idea of national unity and freedom which had been shadowed forth in the policy of Alexander VI and Julius II, and which Machiavelli had written on the last wonderful page of his Principe as the guiding principle for the future. This vision it was which rose dimly in Dante's mind; for its sake the Italian people had forgiven the sins of the Borgia and of della Rovere; it had appeared to Machiavelli as the highest of aims; after another three hundred years of spiritual and temporal despotism it burst forth once more in the minds of Rosmini, Cesare Balbo, Gioberti, and Cavour, and roused the dishonoured soul of the nation.