Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/257

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might come into collision with the interests of the Church. After his death these relatives would no longer be anything, except in so far as he had been able to create a permanent position for them, and this, rather than the public good, was too likely to be the goal of his exertions. Hence the papal aggrandisement has brought an odium upon the Popes of this age unshared by the contemporary secular sovereigns, and which, in so far as they were actuated by private motives, cannot be said to be undeserved. Sixtus IV, though the era of papal conquests dates from him, and though no Pope wrought more persistently or unscrupulously to secure for the Papacy a commanding position in Italy, must rank rather as an accidental promoter than as a deliberate creator of the Temporal Power, since the mainspring of his policy was manifestly the advantage of his nephews. This cannot be said of one of the two great architects of the Temporal Power-Julius II; whether it applies to his precursor is one of the problems of history. Before, however, the question could arise concerning Alexander VI, there was to be an interval of quiet under a feeble Pope who did little for his family and nothing for the Church, but who admirably suited the circumstances of his time.

Sixtus IV had succeeded well in promoting the interests of his house. Imola and Forli made an excellent establishment for one nephew, Girolamo Riario; another, Giuliano della Rovere, was one of the most commanding figures in the College of Cardinals. In every other point of view the policy of Sixtus had been a failure; he had lowered the moral authority of the Papacy without any compensating gain in the secular sphere, and had only bequeathed an example destined to remain for a while inoperative. The election of his successor Innocent VIII (August, 1484) was blamed by contemporaries, and pronounced by the Notary Infessura worse even than that of Sixtus, in which bribery had a notorious share. The Notary's charges, notwithstanding, are wanting in definite-ness; and it seems needless to look beyond the natural inclination of powerful competitors, neither of whom could achieve the Papacy for himself, to agree upon some generally acceptable person. It is also generally observed that, as the human frailties which in some shape must beset every Pope are especially manifest at the time of his decease, the choice naturally tends towards someone apparently exempt from these particular failings, and hence towards a person different in some sort from his predecessor. As Calixtus had been unlike Nicholas, and Pius unlike Calixtus, and Paul unlike Pius, and Sixtus unlike Paul, it was but in accordance with precedent that the passionate imperious unscrupulous Franciscan should give place to a successor who might have sat for the portrait of an abbe in Gil Bias. On August 29, 1484, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Cibo became Pope under the name of Innocent VIII. There was probably no more colourless figure in the Sacred College. He had owed the Cardinalate, which he had enjoyed for eleven years,