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Still the Ludovisians, though they could not make, could yet mar any possible election. The days dragged on in various futile attempts till all were tired out; and many feared that, if the Conclave were prolonged at that season of the year, the same fate would overtake them that had stricken Borghese. .
So at last Barberini was named, as upon the whole the candidate to whom the greatest number had the least objection; and thus Urban VIII. became yet one more pis aller Pope. The election was so far a triumph for Borghese and the Paoline party that Barberini was among the number of his adherents; and it was in so far a triumph for the Ludovisi faction, as that they had compelled their adversaries to be content with one against whom Paul V., and, by that law of inheritance which no statute of limitations ever sets aside in the priestly world of Rome, his nephew the Cardinal Borghese, had sundry old grudges of long standing. As it was, the election was, by virtue of an understanding between the parties, unanimous, with the exception of three of the oldest cardinals, who, remaining in their cells, had been unaware of what was being done.
But this account of the result of the Conclave gives but a very inadequate idea of what a Conclave in the month of July—or August or September—was (and would be again) at Rome. The obstinacy and jealousies of the rival factions needed to be backed and sustained in their Eminences by a degree of determined tenacity of purpose which was proof against suffering of no ordinary kind, and which almost deserves to be called,
heroic. The result of the Conclave, as regards the election, has been told. Here are some of the results of it from another point of view, as given in Cancellieri's gossiping and curious little volume.
"On Wednesday, the 29th of July, 1623, about sixty cardinals entered into Conclave, and were shut up that same night. But it appeared as if the election of the new Pope would be an abnormally long affair. Nevertheless the heat of the weather, in the severest (più aspro) season of the year, and the discomfort which the cardinals suffered in Conclave, and the imminent danger of falling ill and of dying, made them determine to despatch the business more quickly than they would have otherwise done. The see was vacant twenty-eight days. On the 4th of August Cardinals Peretti and Girardi went out from the Conclave ill. And a great many of the others, including the Cardinal Borghese, began to suffer.
“On the 6th of August, the festival of the Transfiguration, which was a Sunday, Cardinal Maffio Barberini was elected Pope, in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and assumed the name of Urban VIII., and was proclaimed at the nineteenth hour (i.e. about three o'clock in the afternoon). As soon as they came out of conclave nearly all the cardinals fell ill; many were at death's door, and some died. As for the conclavists, they almost all died. Shortly Pope Urban himself fell ill. On the 14th of August Cardinal Pignatelli died, in his forty-third year, and his body was buried at the Minerva. He was a man of low birth, but a very clever negotiator, and therefore much esteemed by Borghese, who caused
his elevation to the purple, and whose most intimate counseller he was. On the 19th of August died Cardinal Serra, of Genoa, in his fifty-third year, and was buried at the Pace Church. On the 23rd of August Cardinal Saoli, of Genoa, the Dean of the Sacred College, died in his eighty-sixth year, and was buried at the church of La Madonna del Popolo. On the 1st of September Cardinal Gozzadino, of Bologna, died in his fifty-first year. It had been many years previously predicted to him by an astrologer that he should die from imprisonment. He was much in debt, and it was supposed that the astrologer took his hint from that. But when his uncle, Gregory XV., was elected Pope, he said that he now felt safe from the prediction. But on his death-bed he declared that the astrologer had spoken the truth, for that, in fact, the imprisonment of the Conclave had killed him; for, in truth, the Conclave was a prison, and a prison of the very worst description for him and for the others ! Finally, the Cardinal Girardo died, in the forty-seventh year of his age, on the 1st of October.”
The worthy gossip gives us the chronicle of this terrible mortality on the fifty-fifth page of his volume, utterly and very amusingly forgetful that he had begun his work by the statement that, “ although many Conclaves have occurred during the hot months, yet no example of epidemic infection has happened in them; all those who have taken part in them having almost always come out from them without any injury to their health.”
Reign and Works of Urban VIII.-Change in the Position of the Popes.
No more Possibility of obtaining Sovereignties for Papal Nephews. -Accumulation of wealth by the Papal Families.—Sixtus V.Gregory XIV.-Clement VIII.-Paul V.-Gregory XV.-Urban VIII.--Amount of dotation permissible to a Papal Nephew.-Persecution of one papal family by another.Conclave at the death of Urban.— Parties and interest at Rome much changed since the last Conclave.-Cardinal Pamphili elected as Innocent X.-The Barberini driven from Rome.
URBAN VIII., who left so large a material mark at Rome, both by what he built and by what he destroyed, is he of whom and of whose kinsmen it was said, and is remembered, that “ Quod non fecerunt Barbari, id fecere Barberini.” Even to the present day it is impossible to walk through the streets of Rome without being reminded, almost at every turn, of the building propensities of Urban and his enriched family by the frequent appearance of the bees, his family cognisance. And when these same “busy” creatures are recognised on the colossal bronze canopy over the high altar in St. Peter's, we are reminded of the above-quoted sarcasm, and of the fate of the Pantheon robbed of its bronze covering to deface the nave of Michael Angelo's church by a tasteless monstrosity. But there are no bees at the Coliseum to record the irreparable mischief done by Barberini hands in carting away the materials for their modern buildings !
Urban reigned all but twenty-one years, and the conditions of the Papacy were more changed during this period than had been the case during any previous Pontiff's reign for a very long time. It was the beginning of the long down-hill course on which the power and importance of the Popes has been moving ever since, till the entire loss of temporal dominion, reached at the bottom of that long incline, has, in the opinion of many, opened the way for a return to extended power by a different path. The long hill which has been spoken of was somewhat steep in the earliest portion of it, and became very steep just before the bottom was reached. But the intervening slope was long and very gradual.
The change, of course, necessarily produced a series of prince Popes, as I have called them—of sovereigns who were temporal princes first and churchmen afterwards ; for the Popes could only play a great part in European state affairs as Churchmen. The Vicegerency of Heaven had to be put prominently forward in advancing a claim to supremacy over crowned heads. From the time of Urban the Popes became resignedly the petty sovereigns of a petty state; or if, theoretically, not resignedly, their protests against being considered only such were made but for theory and form's sake.
With this decadence from a position of European importance, the completion of the dominions of the Church as they have existed in modern times coincided. For it was not till the reign of Urban VIII. that the duchy of Urbino formed part of the possessions of the Apostolic See. The family of the Della Rovere Dukes-about the