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regulations to the Gregorian constitutions. And this second book of my story shall consist of such notices of the Conclaves during this period of two hundred and seventy-nine years, from the death of Gregory X. to the election of Paul IV. (1555) as can be found, and seem to offer any points of interest.
Regularity is an essential characteristic of modern times, of an adult state of society, that is to say. And regularity means, in the case of an individual, the subjection of his impulses to rule, and in the body social the subjection of all that makes and marks individuality to rule. And regularity has a tendency to degenerate into that condition of senile induration in which custom is held to be the most sacred of all rules. This, to a curiously marked degree, has been the condition of the ecclesiastical world at Rome in these latter generations. Hence the immense contrast between its ways and doings in the last two centuries, and those ages with which we have now to occupy ourselves. Some poet * of our days has likened the ways and works of the men of the times in question to those of “noble boys at play.” Unquestionably there is a nobility of its own about marked and strong individualism. And so much of it as may be discoverable in the Church we may attribute to those masterful Churchmen of the medieval times who were men first and priests afterwards, instead of, as their successors of a more tranquil time may be said to have been, priests first and men afterwards.
* I beg his pardon for forgetting the name of a writer whose expression struck me by its justness. I have not, unfortunately, the means of verifying the references at hand.
For these reasons the ecclesiastical fasti of this period offer an interest of a different kind, and one marked off from those of the subsequent period.
There is also another reason for drawing a line at the death of Paul III. (ob. 1549), and making a fresh start thence. I have spoken above of the election of Paul IV. as the point from which what may be called the modern history of the Papacy may be held to begin. There may seem, therefore, to be some inconsistency in making the death of Paul III. the closing event of the former period. For Paul III., Farnese, was not the immediate predecessor of Paul IV.; and I have, moreover, referred to the new set of supplementary rules for the holding of the Conclaves promulgated by Pius IV. as a reason for closing the one period and opening a new one.
The matter stands thus:
Paul III., Farnese, died 1549.
Nevertheless, I close an epoque with the death of Paul III., and open the next with the accession of Paul IV., although it was his successor, Pius IV., who enacted the new constitutions which, in some degree, placed the Conclaves on a new basis. And my reasons for doing so are as follows.
Despite the favourite boast of the Church that she has y been semper eadem—always the same the fact is, that the Church has varied from age to age almost as much as most other human institutions, having been ever the
| same only in this: that it has never varied in or lost
sight of its object to make clerical power dominant in the world—an object that was abundantly beneficent in days when clerks were more fit than laymen to rule, but which has become still more largely noxious when the relative positions of clerk and layman in this respect were manifestly reversed. In all other points the Church has been by no means semper eadem. But although it is true that the character of the reigning Pope has often influenced to a very important degree the character, policies, and practices of the institution, as might be expected to be the case, yet the fact that the Church has been to a far more important degree influenced in all these respects by the general complexion of the times and the character of the age athwart which it was at the time passing, is curiously proved by a circumstance which must suggest itself to the observation of the most superficial reader of ecclesiastical history—the singular and marked divisibility of the long line of Popes into groups. Apostle Popes, warrior Popes, priest Popes, mundane Popes, pagan Popes, bigot Popes, fainéant Popes, easy-going Popes, respectable Popes, occur in the list not singly, but in groups ! To a certain degree this tendency may be perceived to have been assisted by the fact that the creatures* of each Pope are mostly they who, in their turn, create his successor. But the ruling cause of the phenomena will be found in the aspect and bearing of the time.
* I use the word not in the common depreciatory sense, but according to the technical use of the word, as referring to the members of the Sacred College. The cardinals created by each Pope are said to be his creatures.
Now Paul III. was in a very marked manner the last of a group of Popes. He was the last Pope whose nepotism soared to the height of making his descendants sovereign princes. Subsequent equally mundane Popes ambitioned the founding of princely Roman houses, and founded plenty such. Paul the Farnese was the last who sought to carve out of Italy a sovereign principality for those of his name. He was the last, too, for the nonce, of the thoroughly mundane and grand seigneur class of Popes; and is followed by a group of Popes of a very different and contrasted class—the earnest, zealous, bigot Popes, of which group I consider the Paul IV. as the first. For in fact the two intervening Papacies of Julius III., who reigned five years, and of Marcellus II., who reigned twenty-three days, were historically unimportant, and may be left out of the account.
And we will make the story of the modern Papacy begin with Paul IV., and not with his successor Pius IV., notwithstanding that it was the latter who enacted the new constitutions for the regulation of the Conclaves, because Caraffa, Paul IV., was in a very marked and emphatic degree the beginner of a new epoch. In this case both the especial aspect of the times, and the strongly marked character of the man himself, contributed with a singular similarity and coincidence of tendency to bring about the change which at that time came over the spirit of the Papacy. The ruling cause, of course, is to be found in the growling of that Ultramontane tempest which, with so terrible a voice, was warning Rome to put her house in order. But Caraffa
was, if any dyke was to be erected to save a remnant of the Church from the advancing waves of heresy, eminently the right man in the right place! Not at all the right man if the object were so to obey, and while obeying use, the tendencies of the time, as to avail himself of them, for such refitting of St. Peter's barque as should make it seaworthy for many a century to come; but eminently the right man to force it through the breakers with an unflinching eye and iron-strong hand .on the helm, on the sint ut sunt, aut non sint prin
ciple. And Paul was, in accordance with the apparently historic law which I have indicated, the first of a group of such Popes.
These, then, are my reasons for considering the death of Paul III. as the closing event of an epoch in Papal history. And I will occupy the other chapters of this second book with such extant notices of the elections of the thirty-eight Popes who ruled the Church during the two hundred and seventy-three years which elapsed from the death of Gregory X. (ob. 1276) to that of Paul III. (ob. 1549) as may seem to have any interest in them. It will be observed that these thirty-eight Popes reigned a fraction more than seven years each on an average. I will conclude this chapter by giving a list of them, which may be found useful.
1276 . . . 1276
1276 ... 1277