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the expense of the obsequies of a Pope. At last a canon, who had been in the Pope's service for many years, but who had for a long time past been out of favour, came forward, and at the sacrifice of a considerable sum paid the last honours to his old patron.
For the first time for many years there had been a Papacy without nepotism, and without a reigning cardinal nephew. And though, as regarded the administration of the Holy See, the credit of the Papacy, and the general tone of morality in the Apostolic Courts, matters had, in this absence of nepotism, changed for the worse, yet at Innocent's death the change that hence arose was seen to be a very important one. The Conclave was without a natural leader, nor was there any bond which as usual banded together the "creatures" of Innocent X. An anecdote was current, which has been preserved by Eanke, that when a proposal was made that they should choose a leader—a "head" whose captaincy they should follow in the Conclave (most naturally the Cardinal Medici, who was the senior of Innocent's creatures)—some of them replied that each man had a head as well as feet of his own, and needed no other. The conclavist who has narrated the story of the Conclave that followed the death of Innocent declares that no less than twenty-two of the "creatures" of Innocent aspired to the Papacy, each for himself! The Spanish ambassador, the Duca di Terranuova, gave them the name of the "squadrone volante," and to a certain degree they seem to have acted together.
It is said that the Cardinal Ottobuono, one of them, exclaimed at the death-bed of Innocent, "What we have to do is to elect an honest man!" "If you are in search of an honest man," replied Cardinal Azzolini, another of " the squadron," "there is one there," pointing to the Sienese Cardinal Chigi as he spoke. Chigi, in fact, in the course of the affairs, mainly diplomatical, which his life had been passed in transacting for the Apostolic See, had acquired the reputation of an upright, able, and moderate man, of blameless life, and was further known to condemn very strongly the corruptions and abuses which had characterized the pontificate that had just come to a conclusion. The way to elect Chigi Pope, however, was by no means clear. He was strongly opposed by the whole force of the French interest. Chigi had been nuncio at Cologne when Mazarin, driven from France by the fronde, was in Germany striving to prepare the means of recovering the power and position he had lost; and Mazarin perceived, or imagined himself to perceive, that Chigi had not given him the support which he had expected from him. From that time Mazarin was his enemy, and did his utmost to prevent his election to the Papacy.
But there was another strong influence and power in the Conclave—that of Cardinal Barberini. We parted from him and his when, vanishing behind a cloud, they went down in the first days of Innocent's Papacy. But now was the time for them to raise their heads, bruised but not crushed by the stomi, once again. It might have been supposed that the least likely of all alliances would have been one between the Barberini and the popess of the Pope who had so severely punished them. But a common misfortune, like a common failing, makes one wondrous kind and forgiving. Olympia, as has been said, had an unlimited faith in the omnipotence of money. Barberini -was a fervent worshipper at the same shrine. To Olympia it was all important that a Pope should be elected who should condone her past; and Barberini was deeply interested in the election of one who would not be likely to pursue and renew the severe measures against his family to which Innocent had lent himself at the beginning of his Papacy. And Olympia had contrived, it must be supposed by the influence of the god which she trusted and placed her faith in, to make a party of friends in the Conclave, mainly, of course, among the members of the " squadrone volante."
Chigi was not the man, however, that either Barberini or Olympia would have chosen could they have had their way. But though strong enough to prevent, they were not strong enough to secure the election of a Pope. And this is the most constantly recurring phenomenon in the history of the Conclaves. No party, no person, is ever able to obtain that the person they wish to make the Pope becomes such. Each party has to limit his hopes to the exclusion of such candidates as are especially obnoxious to him. And at last the efforts of the strongest party leader in the Conclave content themselves with securing the election of him who stands perhaps the fifth or sixth on their list drawn up in order of preference, who may probably also be sixth or seventh on the list of a rival party. Thus the majority of the Popes have been elected by force of pis aller.
In the Conclave of which we are now speaking, it was discovered at an early day, to the entire conviction of all who understood the work they were about, that no Pope could be elected against the will of Barberini. The question was, not whether that will should be set aside, but to what extent it should be allowed to prevail. The French interest was powerful; and it was this struggle which caused the Conclave to be of unusual length, at least for recent times. It lasted over three months, at the end of which the "squadrone volante," with the acquiescence and help of Barberini, elected Fabio Chigion the 7th of April, 1655.
As so much has been said of Donna Olympia Pamfili, and her influence was so largely felt in the Conclave, this chapter may be concluded by giving in a few words the end of her story. As Chigi was one of the "creatures" of Innocent, and was considered a moderate man, it was thought that he would not be likely to molest the sisterin-law, favourite, and governante of his old patron. It never seems to have occurred to her or her friends that the new Pope might demand a strict account from her merely from considerations of abstract right and justice. She was among the first to compliment him on his accession, and at an early day asked for an audience. The answer was not calculated to reassure her. Alexander sent her word that it was not his intention to receive ladies except on important matters of business. Still she determined not to give up the game, and repeated her application to be allowed to speak with his Holiness with increased urgency; but she only obtained the still more alarming reply that "Donna Olympia had had but too much conversation with Popes,
and that she must understand that things would henceforth be very different."
So much time elapsed, however, before any step was taken with regard to her, that Olympia began to hope that she would be left alone with her enormous hoards. But Alexander, unwilling to incur the blame of acting passionately or hastily upon the subject, was listening to the innumerable proofs of her ill-doings, and quietly making up his mind on the matter. Suddenly an order reached her to quit Rome within three days, and to be at Orvieto within eight. It came upon her like a thunderbolt, for she felt that it was the beginning of the end.
A commissary was sent after her thither to require a strict account from her of all the State moneys that had passed into her hands, immediate restitution of the jewels and other valuables carried off by her from the Vatican, and her answer to the innumerable charges against her of selling offices, benefices, and pardons. She answered by general denials, and by asserting that whatever money had passed into her hands had been paid over to her by Innocent. The next step, it was expected, would have been her imprisonment. But at this stage of the business an unexpected and terrible ally stepped in to save, not the wretched woman herself, but at least her infamously gotten wealth to the Pamfili family. This ally was the pestilence, which invaded Italy, and specially Eorne, with such violence, that it threw other matters into abeyance by concentrating on itself all the care and attention of Alexander and his government.