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remedies the constitution of the Church yet suffers, and all the insuperable difficulties imported into the theory of the existence and government of the Eoman Church, were caused by small circumstances in that fourteenth century Conclave which elected Urban VI., such as it has been the object of all the voluminous ceremonial and minutely precise regulations which govern those assemblies to render impossible.
Otto Colonna Pope as Martin V.—Conclave for the Election of Eugenius IV.—Contest between Pope and Council.—Anecdote of the Deathbed of Eugenius IV.—Anecdotes of the Conclave that elected Nicholas V.—Violence of the Eoman Barons.—Prospero Colonna.— Cardinal Nephews.—Election of Nicholas V.—Condition of Italy. —Failure of the Attempt to unite the Latin and Greek Churches.— Nicholas a Patron of the new learning.—Other Doings of Nicholas. —Anecdote of his Mother.—Conclave which elected Calixtus III.— Cardinal Bessarion.—Conclave which elected JEneas Sylvius Piccolomini as Pius II.—Efforts of the Cardinal of Kouen to prevent the Election, and to secure his own.—Mode of Pius II.'s Election.
Otto Colonna, Pope Martin V., thus elected by the authority of the Council in the November of 1417, was then in sound health, and fifty years old, and he reigned thirteen years and three months, not without some success in reducing the confused state of things in the Church to some degree of regularity and order. It was but little he could do or even attempt towards achieving as much for Italy, which was torn by war from end to end. But as has mostly been the case, the Eoman Colonna Pope, object of jeers* as he may have been elsewhere, was liked, and seems to have done well at Eome, where, as an old contemporary diarist tells us, lie ''kept his dominions quiet and tranquil, so that one could go about with gold in one's hands for a couple of hundred miles around Eome, and be safe by day or by night; and he did great good to the city of Eome."* I should not have liked to make the experiment suggested. But the statement may be taken to indicate the general impression made at Eome by the pontificate of Martin V. He died on the 13th of February, 1431; and on the 2nd of March, six days, it will be observed, after the due time, thirteen cardinals went into Conclave at Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and on the following day elected the Venetian Gabriel Condulmieri Pope as Eugenius IV. If Pope Martin had kept Eome quiet while he lived, all law seemed to have come to an end there at his death and during the pontificate of his successor. The Colonnas, the late Pope's kinsmen, seized on the treasure of the Church, and very nearly succeeded in their rebellion against Eugenius. They had to be, and by the assistance of Florentine and Venetian troops were, put down; and the Pope launched against them the first of those excommunications of which he had to make such frequent use in the course of his pontificate of all but sixteen years, for the whole course of it was one continual struggle with opponents and rival authorities of all kinds. The history of his reign, a very interesting one, cannot be entered on here. And it must suffice to remark that the story goes to show that the Church had learned nothing of moderation, of prudence, or of the duty of preferring the welfare of Christendom to the
* The rhymes sung under his window at Florence by the Florentine street boys, then as lawless, and as incapable of reverencing aught save cash, as now, are well known.
screamed the boys, imputing to the new Pope the only fault which they could comprehend to be such.
most paltry private interests, by the terrible misfortunes through which it had so recently passed. A new schism, though, as it chanced, a less important one than the last, was created. Pope and Council were again opposed to each other, the Pontiff dissolving the Council by Bull, and the Council deposing the Pontiff! Nevertheless, Eugenius did contrive to live and die as Pope, exclaiming, we are told, on his death-bed, as well he might, "Ah, Gabriel! How much better for thee it would have been, instead of being either cardinal or Pope, to live and die in thy cloister,* occupied with the exercises of the monastic rule!"
Eugenius IV. died on the 28th February, 1447; and on the 4th of March their Eminences went into Conclave—too soon this time, as on the last occasion the Conclave had been deferred too long, possibly in deference to words which fell from the dying Pope in his last address to the cardinals whom he had assembled around his bed. "Further," he concluded, after many exhortations to unity and concord, "I earnestly beg of you all that, as soon as I shall have passed from this life, you lose no time in matters of pompous exequies." It may have been considered that these words constituted a dispensation from the exact observance of the Gregorian rule, which required a lapse of nine days between the death of a Pope and the entrance of the cardinals into Conclave. Eugenius IV. left a College consisting of twenty-four cardinals, all save one created by himself, of whom eighteen (all who were then present in Eome) entered into Conclave, in the dormitory of the monks of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, much against the will of that body, who maintained that the Vatican was the proper place to hold the Conclave in. It is recorded that on this occasion the cells for the cardinals were not constructed, as was usual, of wood, but of green or violet-coloured cloth, save only that of the Cardinal of Bologna, who gave especial orders that his cell should be of white material—"perhaps," says slily the conclavist who has written an extant account of this Conclave, "because his mind was neither more white nor more black than that of the others."
* He had belonged to the congregation of Celestines of St. Giorgio, in Alga, at Venice.
The first incident in this Conclave was an irruption of several of the Eoman barons, who pretended the right of taking part in—or perhaps the word used may signify only being present at—the election. But the cardinals would not submit to this, and succeeded in getting rid of the intruders, the most obstinate of whom was the aged Gio Baptista Savelli, who furiously protested that he had a right to be there by virtue of a special papal grant. What the old blockhead had got in his thick baron's head was the privilege granted to his family by Gregory X. to hold the hereditary position of keepers of the Conclaves, which duty required him to be on the outside and not on the inside of the door!
When the cardinals went into Conclave, the universal opinion was that Prospero Colonna would be elected. He must have been the Dean of the Sacred College, for it is recorded that all the cardinals save one were of the creation of Eugenius IV.; and Colonna must have been that one—a creation of his kinsman, Martin V.—for