Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/259

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entirely justified in seeking refuge abroad, should nothing less avail to preserve the dignity of the Holy See. Other Popes had done the like, and had returned with fame and honour."

If such was the situation,—and Innocent certainly did not exaggerate it,—the Popes of his day are clearly not to be censured for endeavouring to put it upon a different footing. It might indeed be said that they ought to have renounced the Temporal Power altogether, and gone forth scripless into the world in the fashion of the Apostles; but in their age such a proceeding would have been impracticable, nor could the thought of it have hardly so much as entered their minds. The incurable vice of their position was, that the mutation in things temporal absolutely necessary for the safety and well-being of the Church could not be brought about by means befitting a Christian pastor. The best of men could, upon the papal throne, have effected nothing without violence and treachery. Innocent's successors were not good men, and recourse to means which would have shocked a good man cost them nothing. But they were indisputably the men for the time.

The mission which we have attributed to Innocent of practically demonstrating the need for a strong man in the chair of St Peter, was worked out through a troubled and inglorious pontificate, whose incidents are too remotely connected with the history of the Temporal Power to justify any fulness of treatment in this place. They turn principally upon his relations with Naples and Florence. Having in 1485 entered upon an unnecessary war with Naples, Innocent soon became intimidated, and made peace in 1486. This led to the temporary disgrace of Cardinal della Rovere; and the marriage of the Pope's illegitimate son to the daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici brought him under the influence of the Florentine ruler. It was the best thing that could have happened for the tranquillity of Italy. Lorenzo was a miniature Augustus, intent, indeed, on personal ends in the first instance, but with a genuine fibre of patriotism, and not insatiable or even rapacious. Alone among the rulers of Italy he had the wisdom to discern when acquisition had reached its safe limits, and thenceforth to dedicate his energies to preservation. Hence he was the friend of peace, and the influence he had obtained with the Pope and the King of Naples was devoted to keeping them on amicable terms. In pursuance of this policy he prevented the Pope from allying himself with Venice, and successfully laboured to induce the King to pay to Rome the tribute which he had endeavoured to withhold. No wonder that a course so conducive to the material prosperity of Italy earned Lorenzo her thanks and blessings: yet the unity of Italy, in the last resort her only safety, could only have sprung from national strife. During the generally uneventful decade of 1480-90 the power of France and Spain was growing fast, and a land partitioned between petty principalities and