Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/706

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as a place where justice was put up to auction for the highest bidder; and similar complaints continue through the Middle Ages with ever-increasing vehemence, as its sphere of operations widened and its system became more intricate and more perfect. As Dietrich of Nieheim says, it was a gulf which swallowed everything, a sea into which all rivers poured without its overflowing, and happy was he who could escape its clutches without being stripped. Even Aeneas Sylvius, before he attained the papacy, had no scruple in asserting that everything was for sale in Rome and that nothing was to be had there without money. The enormous business concentrated in the holy city from every corner of Christendom required a vast army of officials who were supported by fees and whose numbers were multiplied oppressively, especially after Boniface IX had introduced the sale of offices as a financial expedient. Thus, in 1487, when Sixtus IV desired to redeem his tiara and jewels, pledged for a loan of 100,000 ducats, he increased his secretaries from six to twenty-four and required each to pay 2600 florins for the office. In 1503, to raise funds for Cesare Borgia, Alexander VI created eighty new offices and sold them for 760 ducats apiece. Julius II formed a “college” of a hundred and one scriveners of papal briefs, in return for which they paid him 74,000 ducats. Leo X appointed sixty chamberlains and a hundred and forty squires, with certain perquisites for which the former paid him 90,000 ducats and the latter 112,000. Places thus paid for were personal property, transferable by sale; and Leo X levied a commission of five per cent, on such transactions, and then made over the proceeds to Cardinal Tarlato, a retainer of the Medici family. Burchard tells us that in 1483 he bought the mastership of ceremonies from his predecessor Patrizzi for 450 ducats, which covered all expenses, and that in 1505 he vainly offered Julius II 2000 for a vacant scrivenership; but soon afterwards he bought the succession to an abbreviatorship for 2040. As Burchard was still master of ceremonies and Bishop of Orta it is evident that this was simply an investment for the fees of an office which carried with it no duties.

The whole machinery was thus manifestly devised for the purpose of levying as large a tax as possible on the multitudes whose necessities brought them to the Curia, and its rapacity was proverbial. The hands through which every document passed were multiplied to an incredible degree and each one levied his share upon it. Besides, there were heavy charges which do not appear in the rules of the Chancery and which doubtless enured to the benefit of the papal Camera, so that the official tax-tables bear but a slender proportion to the actual cost of briefs to suitors. Thus certain briefs obtained for the city of Cologne, in 1393, of which the charge, according to the tables, was eleven and a half florins, cost when delivered 266, and, in 1423, some similar privileges for the abbey of St Albans were paid for at forty times the amount provided in the tables. Thus the army of officials constituting the Curia not only cost