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NOBLE BOYS AT PLAY.
Latter Years of the Middle Ages, from Gregory X. to Pius IV.—Contrast of the Ecclesiastical World of those Days with Present Times.—Whero Modern History commences in the Annals of the Papacy.—Variability of the Church.—Papal History falls into Groups of Popes.—Causos of this Phenomenon.—Paul III. the last of a Group of Popes.—Paul TV. the first of a different Group.—List of Popes from 1271 to 1549.
We start fair, then, from the constitutions of Gregory X., made in the Council held by him at Lyons in 1274. But it was easier in those days to make "constitutions" than to get them observed. This, though unfortunately not a peculiarity of the Middle Ages, was yet a characteristic belonging to them in a special manner. Historians have considered these Middle Ages to last from the fifth to the fifteenth century—a thousand years. And though the days of Gregory X. were comparatively near the end of them, we are, therefore, not out of them yet when we arrive at that point. And the last quarter of the space so designated is, of course, that of which we know most, and which is infinitely the most important to us. We get well out of the epoch of the Middle Age before reaching the time when Pius IV. (ob. 1565) found it necessary to add a string of supplementary 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.
Eegularity 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 Eome 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 subseqtient 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 ITT., Farnese, died 1549.
Julius III., his successor, Giocchi, died 1555.
Varcellus II., who came next, Ceryini, died the same year, 1555.
Paul IV., succeeding Marcellus, Caraffa, died 1559.
Pius IV., his successor, Medichini, died 1565.
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 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