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Sacred College at the Death of Gregory XI.-Anecdotes of the Conclava
that elected Urban VI.-Turbulence of the Roman People. — Alarm of the Cardinals.-Circumstances which led to the great Schism.-Doubts respecting the Canonicity of the Election of Urban VI.Other Causes leading to the Schism.-Irregular Election of Robert of Geneva by the dissenting Cardinals as Clement VII., who has always been held to be an Antipope.—Schism of thirty-nine Years.
THE death of Gregory XI., which overtook him at Rome when he was meditating his return to Avignon, was the means of restoring the Papacy to the Eternal City, but by no means smoothed away or cut the knot of the difficulties by which that restoration was surrounded. The details of the story of the Conclave which elected his successor, Bartolommeo Prignani, Archbishop of Bari, who was not a cardinal,* as Urban VI., are curious and strongly marked by the characteristics of the times. They have been preserved in the Latin relation of a contemporary, probably a “Conclavista,”+ which is printed in the collection published in 1691, by G. L.I
* Since him no Pope has been elected who was not at the time a member of the Sacred College.
+ I.e., one of the “ attendants” provided for in the constitutions of Gregory. They may in accordance with them be either clerks or laymen. In practice they are always clerks.
I Gregorio Leti. The edition cited is a reprint made at Cologne, and is in 12mo. The original edition in 4to. has no date of place or year. Gregorio Leti was born in 1630. His inexactitude as an historian is notorious. But in the case of these relations of the Conclave, he is merely the collector of the accounts of others. That of the Conclave of
Gregory left the Sacred College consisting of twentythree cardinals, of whom four only were Italian. There was one Spaniard, and all the others were French. Some of these had remained at Avignon; and sixteen only (as Moroni says, reckoning one Spaniard, eleven French, and four Italians; or seventeen, as the old Conclavista says) entered into Conclave on the 7th of April, 1378.* But, as the Conclavista relates, without the smallest appearance of any consciousness that he is telling that which vitiated the whole election, t they met before entering into Conclave to discuss the matter, and see what prospect there was of coming to an agreement. This at once appeared to be but small. For although the eleven French cardinals were strong enough to have elected one of their own body, who would have carried the Papacy back into France, as they ardently wished, if they had been unanimous, there was a principle of division among them which deprived them of their power. The difficulty arose from the fact that the French cardinals, though all French, were not all from the Diocese of Limoges; as (from the circumstance of three out the line of seven French Popes, Clement VI., Innocent VI., and Gregory XI., having been natives of Urban VI. is shown to be by a contemporary, by the statement that Joanna of Naples “was and is ” a person much esteemed by the cardinals.
• Cancellieri, with his usual carelessness, says on the 11th of September, which could in no wise have been the case; a blunder which is the moro strange in that in the same passage he quotes Leti's Conclavista, who gives the date correctly.
† His words are, “ Cardinales ante ingressum Conclavis simul in certo loco aliquando congregati inter se colloquium habuerunt super persona (sic) futuri Pontificis tractantes et colloquentes, qui tamon non potuerunt concordare.” Compare this with the 14th of Gregory X.'s rules.
that diocese) was the case with a considerable number among them. The other French cardinals, determined that the Papacy should not become the hereditary property of the Limoges clergy,* were ready to unite with the Italian cardinals even in the election of an Italian, if by no other means could they prevent the election of a Limoges man. In this frame of mind they cast their eyes upon the Archbishop of Bari,—“unum Archiepiscopum Barensem,” as the Roman Conclavista somewhat contemptuously calls him,- no other indeed than our Bartolommeo Prignani, who, if to a Roman conclavist he was "one Archbishop of Bari,” was sufficiently well known in the ecclesiastical world of Christendom, and who eventually became Urban VI. The reasons for the choice are given as follows by the conclavist : It was hoped that the Italian cardinals would agree to elect him, an Italian, rather than another Frenchman; while it was thought on the other hand that the Ultramontanet cardinals would agree “because the Bari Archbishop was a very learned man, used to business, erudite, and instructed in the style of the Curia and Chancery,"I and from his early years the familiar companion and domestic chaplain of the Cardinal Vice
"Concordarunt cum cardinalibus Italicis de habendo potius Italicum quam unum Lemovicensem, dicentes apertė quod totus mundus admodum erat attediatus de Lemoyicensibus, qui tanto tempore Papatum possiderant quasi hereditarium;" saying openly that all the world was very tired of the Limogians, who had possessed the Papacy so long as though it were hereditary among them.-Conclavi dei Pontific. Colonia, 1691. V. i. p. 24.
† 1.e. the cardinals from the northern side of the Alps. The change of meaning and relative position in the current talk of the day is not unworthy of notice.
I “Instructus in Stylo Curiæ et Cancellariæ.”
Chancellor, who was himself of Limoges. So much so that the French cardinals considered this Bishop of Bari to be as it were one of themselves, and conformable* to their ways. Lastly, it was a reason in favour of the choice that the Archbishop was a Neapolitan, “ of which kingdom the Serenissima Joanna,t who was exceedingly devoted to the Holy Church, and very acceptable to and beloved by the cardinals, was mistress. These grounds for the choice appeared to have approved themselves to the majority of the cardinals, and it was well understood before they went into Conclave that the Archbishop of Bari was to be the man. So much so that on entering Conclave, as soon as the appointed mass “De Spiritu Sancto" had been performed, the Cardinal de Agrifoglio, addressing his colleagues, said, I “Let us set to work at once, for I feel sure that we shall make an election out of hand.” But the Cardinal Orsini, who was believed to be himself an aspirant to the Papacy, and who saw that the election of the Archbishop of Bari was imminent, wishing to gain time, and ut creditur, to get rid of it altogether, spoke thus, or to this effect: “Let us, your eminences—Domini mei—defer this election to another time, that we may elude-ut deludamus—this Roman people, who wish to have a Roman citizen for Pope; and let us summon some Minorite friar, and let us put the papal cope and mitre on him, 'and pretend that we have elected him for Pope; and so let us get away from this place, and elect somebody else elsewhere.” For, explains the conclavist, there was a crowd in the Piazza in front of the palace, “not violent, however, or making any threats” (this, as will be seen, was an important point); but imprudently—incauti—crying out, “We want a Roman for Pope,” their real object being rather to run off to plunder the house of the new Pope, according to custom, as soon as the election should be announced, than really to influence in any way the election; as in truth they did nothing when subsequently one who was not a Roman was elected. But the other cardinals, in reply to the Cardinal Orsini, said, “Certainly we will not do this thing. For we will not make the people idolaters—(as they would be, that is to say, if we deceived them into adoring as Pope one who was not so in reality),—nor will we deceive them to the damnation of our own souls. On the contrary, it is our intention forthwith to elect, and we will elect a true Pope; and for the words and clamours of those people we care not."
• “Ipsorum moribus conformem.”
f It may be as well to remind the reader that this most Serene favourite of the cardinals was the woman who incited her lover to murder her husband, who used means of nameless infamy to escape public denunciation for the crime, who was the consistently adulterous wife of four husbands, who espoused subsequently the cause of the Antipope against the Pope, and was ultimately stifled under a feather bed in a remote castle in the Apennines by the order of her murdered husband's nephew.
| “Dixit hæc verba," says the conclavist.
Cardinal Orsini, however, making one more attempt to prevent the election of the Archbishop, attempted to persuade his colleagues to elect Francesco, Cardinal of St. Sabine, a Roman, upon which one of the Limoges cardinals said that although the Cardinal of St. Peter's (his Eminence of St. Sabine was so called) was a good and holy man, they would not elect him ; in the first place because he was a Roman, and by doing so the Conclave