Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/707

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nothing to the Holy See, but brought in revenue; and its exactions rendered it an object of execration throughout Christendom.

The administration of justice was provocative of even greater detestation. The business flowing in from every part of Europe was necessarily enormous, and the effort seems to have been not to expedite, but to prolong it, and to render it as costly as possible to the pleader. We hear incidentally of a suit between the Teutonic Order and the clergy of Riga, concerning the somewhat trivial question whether the latter were privileged to wear the vestments of the Order, in the course of which, in 1430, the agent of the Order writes from Rome that he had already expended on it 14,000 ducats, and that 6000 more would be required to bring it to a conclusion. The sale of benefices and expectatives was in itself a most lucrative source of profit to the Roman Courts; for, in the magnitude and complexity of the business, mistakes, accidental or otherwise, were frequent, leading to conflicting claims which could be adjudicated only in Rome. The Gallican Church, assembled at the Council of Bourges, in 1438, declared that this was the cause of innumerable suits and contentions between the servants of God; that quarrels and hatreds were excited, the greed of pluralities was stimulated, the money of the kingdom was exhausted; pleaders, forced to have recourse to the Roman Courts, were reduced to poverty, and rightful claims were set aside in favour of those whose greater cunning or larger means enabled them to profit through the frauds rendered possible by the complexities of the papal graces. France protected herself by the Pragmatic Sanction, until its final abrogation, in 1516, by the Concordat between Francis I and Leo X excited intense dissatisfaction and was one of the causes which favoured the rapid spread of the Lutheran heresy there. Germany had not been so fortunate, and among the grievances presented, in 1510, to the Emperor Maximilian was enumerated the granting of expectatives without number, and often the same to several persons, as giving rise to daily law-suits; so that the money laid out in the purchase and that expended in the suit were alike lost, and it became a proverb that whoever obtained an expectative from Rome ought to lay aside with it one or two hundred gold pieces to be expended in rendering it effective. Another of the grievances was that cases, which ought to have been decided at home where there were good and upright judges, were carried without distinction to Rome. There was, in fact, no confidence felt in the notoriously venal Roman Courts, and their very name was an abomination in Germany.

The pressing necessities of the papacy had found another source of relief which did not bear so directly on the nations but was an expedient fatally degrading to the dignity and character of the Holy See. This was the sale of the highest office in the Church next to the papacy itself—the red hat of the cardinalate. The reputation of the Sacred College was already rapidly deteriorating through the nepotism of the Pontiffs,