Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/302

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Henry III summoned the Protestant Bourbon Henry of Navarre to his aid; and when he himself was murdered, this same Bourbon ascended the throne in 1589 as Henry IV. He quelled the fighting between the religious factions, healed the wounds of a thirty-year-old civil war, granted the Huguenots freedom of religious worship by the Edict of Nantes, and welded the now united national forces together in oppo- sition to the common Spanish foe. But the great achievements of his reign, the strengthening of the crown against the power of the Dukes and the escape from the threatening absorption of France into the Spanish world empire, could not have succeeded had he not been con- verted to the Catholic Church in 1593. When he fell in 1610 by the hand of Ravillac, national France was also a Catholic power. Two princes of the Church, Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin, managed, un- der the kings who followed Henty, to defend the crown against domes- tic peril at the hands of the nobles, and against foreign peril at the hands of the Habsburgs. Louis XIV, Le Roi Soleil, clung to the straight course of their policy. His generals led France to power and super-power of a kind Europe had not seen for centuries. But under this absolutism the inner energies of the state, of society, industry,- and of spiritual life were drained. France profited as little from the spirit of Versailles as did the other European states. This Palace of Pleas- ures has since met the same fate that history meted out to its sombre rival, the granite, monastic palace of Philip on the bleak, raw Sierra of Guadarrama.

What attitude did the Papacy adopt toward this wrestling bout between Catholic powers? How did it escape the danger of becoming the vassal of the one and the enemy of the other?

Pope Sixtus V had, as Felice Peretto, herded his father's swine and had then run off to the Franciscans in order to learn how to read and write. He was born in the year Pope Leo X died (1521), and had been a witness to the debate between the Renaissance and the Counter- reformation. He seemed to have reconciled both in his person. From 1551 on he exercised vast influence as a Roman pulpit orator; and those who desired reform the Zelanti met in his cell, among them being Ignatius of Loyola, Charles Borromeo, and Philip Neri. Pope Pius V made him a cardinal and his personal confessor. During