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by him so pre-eminently that a great many contemporary writers, thinking it strange that he should prefer them to those of his own name, have asserted that they were, in fact, his sons.* Giuliano della Rovere, the eldest of all the nine, who received a cardinal's hat from his uncle, but could obtain from him no further favour, was, nevertheless, destined, as Pope Julius II., to become by far the most important pillar of the family greatness. His sister's son, Peter Riario, was, like his uncle, a Franciscan t monk, and was twenty-six years old when the latter was elected. Within a very few months he became Bishop of Treviso, Cardinal-Archbishop of Seville, Patriarch of Constantinople, Archbishop of Valentia, and Archbishop of Florence! From his humble cell, from his ascetic board, from his girdle of rope and woollen frock, baked yearly to destroy the vermin bred in its holy filth, this poverty-vowed mendicant suddenly became possessed of revenues so enormous, that his income is said to have been larger than that of all the other members of the Sacred College put together! The stories which have been $ preserved of his reckless and unprecedented expenditure at Rome would seem incredible, were they not corroborated by the fact that
* Corio, the contemporary annalist of Milan, writes; “Hebbe due che egli chiamava Nipoti. — Istoria Milanesi, p. 974. Machiavelli says, “ Secundo che ciascuno credeva, erano suoi figliuoli.”—Storia, Lib. vii.
+ Those who have had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the nature of the tie which usually binds a friar to his order, and with. the amount of feeling and sentiment frequently generated by it, will be likely to find in the fact mentioned in the text a sufficient motive for the preference shown to Peter over the other nephews of Sixtus.
I “Papiensis Cardinalis,” Epis. 548; but especially, “Infessura. Diario,” p. 1144.
he had in a very short time, besides dissipating the enormous wealth assigned to him, incurred debts to the amount of sixty thousand florins. He gave a banquet to the French ambassador, which cost twenty thousand crowns, a sum equal to more than ten times the same nominal amount at the present day. “Never," says the Cardinal of Pavia, “has pagan antiquity seen anything like it. The whole country was drained of all that was rare and precious, and the object of all was to make a display such as posterity might never be able to surpass. The extent of the preparations, their variety, the number of the dishes, the price of the viands served up, were all registered by inspectors, and were put into verse, of which copies were profusely circulated, not only in Rome but throughout Italy, and even beyond the Alps."
The diarist Infessura, in his valuable chronicle of the events which occurred at Rome from A.D. 1294 to A.D. 1494, the events of the latter years of which period are recorded with great and most amusing detail, says that the viands on the occasion of this remarkable festival were gilt! He especially notes, as a marked indication of reckless extravagance, that sugar was lavishly used. In recording another equally magnificent festival given by this mendicant friar to Leonora, daughter of King Ferrante, who passed through Rome on her way northwards to be married to the Duke of Ferrara, Infessura tells us * that this Franciscan mendicant turned cardinal caused the bed-chamber of the princess, and those of all the ladies of her court, to be furnished with certain implements, of a kind generally deemed more useful than
* Rerum Ital. Scrip., tom. iii., pars ii, p. 1144.
ornamental, made of gold! “Look now,” cries the diarist, as he well might, “ in what things the treasure of the Church has to be squandered !” *
Such was the great Sixtus IV., the first of the Popes who conceived the ambition of making the universal bishopric of souls subservient to the schemes of leaving their kinsmen in the position of sovereign princes ! an example but too readily followed by the more powerful among his immediate successors, with results to Italy fatal, though it may be hoped not finally fatal; but to the Church, if not so perceptibly and unmistakably, and immediately, yet probably more ultimately fatal still, in their far-reaching consequences. He had lived (as Pope) but for one object, and despair of obtaining it seems to have killed him.
On the 10th of August, 1484, he was seen at vespers with his hands clasped together, and very sad. The next day the ambassadors of the confederated Italian States, thinking t to bring him news that would cheer and comfort him, came to him and set forth how that peace had been concluded in all Italy, and all the powers of the League and Confederation had come to an agreement! At which, marvelling much that this should have been done without him, he was amazed ; and finding, on questioning them, that he had no power to undo what had been done, he was smitten with great grief. And the cause of his sorrow was, as all men deemed, this : " that whereas he had lived, and lighted war in Italy, and spent the treasure of the Church only to secure the greatness of his family, he now saw that all had been done in vain. "So crushed, both by the first of these sorrows (the ruin of his hopes for his family), as well as by the second (the consideration of all the terrible ill he had done to secure that object), he was seized by fever, took to his bed, and said never a word;" * and on the evening of the 12th of August breathed his last. “All,” continues the recorder of the Conclave which assembled on his death, who writes in Latin worse even than that of the conclavist at Urban VI.'s election a hundred years before, from which I quoted in a former chapter, “all spoke ill of him, nor was there any man to say a word in his favour, save a certain Franciscan friar, who alone watched the body during that day, despite the dreadful effluvium. Many verses were made against him, perhaps because he had always been the enemy of literary men, and of all who lived good lives. Here is a specimen." +
*“Oh! guarda ! in quale cosa bisogna che si adoperi lo tesauro della Chièsa."
+ The genuineness of their thoughts upon this subject appears to me not a little questionable. Doubtless in addressing the Pope they pretended to think that their news would be acceptable to him, but they must have known right well, that they were plunging daggers into his heart.
It may be worth while, inasmuch as one very notable speciality of the Conclaves for the election of the Popes has always been the social condition of the city of Rome while the cardinals were engaged in the choice of a new sovereign, to give here a few notices of the
* “ Conclavi de' Pontifici,” V. i. p. 119.
f I will give the specimen in this note, because it is also a specimen of the times, and of the feeling which the Pontificate of Sixtus had created among the Romans. But I do not think it necessary to translate it.
“Leno, Vorax, Pathicus, Meretrix, Idolater, Adulter,
Si Romam venerit, illico Cræsus erit.”
state of things that followed the death of Sixtus, as a specimen of an interregnum in the fifteenth century.
No sooner was the death of the Pope known than a band of young men, armed to the teeth, rushed to the palace of the Count Girolamo—the Pope's other favourite nephew, the brother of that Cardinal Peter, of whose magnificence some full account has been given-hoping to find him there. But he had not waited for the bursting of the storm, and the house was found deserted. Thereupon, with a cry of “A Colonna ! a Colonna !” they proceeded to wreck the palace, destroying and despoiling everything, “smashing the doors and the marble window-frames with two-handed axes, and carrying off everything. They destroyed the greenhouse, pulling up the trees by the roots, so that not a door nor a window was left, as may be seen at the present time. On the same day the young men of the city, with similar clamour, went into the Trastevere; and there, finding near the river bank two magazines full of goods, the property of certain traders from Genoa, they, as is said, sacked them entirely. Then they entirely carried off two boats, the property of a citizen of Genoa, together with all the nautical apparatus belonging to them. Then, returning to the city, they similarly treated every house or goods that could be found belonging to any Genoese. * And some went to the villa of the Countess (the wife of
• The sort of " solidarity” recognized as existing between all the citizens or natives of any one of the rival Italian cities during the Middle Ages, is worthy of notice. The instance in the text is one of a thousand such; and the feeling is one of the most constant and curious factors among the causes of events in Italian history. The Genoese wero deemed legitimate objects of plunder because the Pope had belonged to that province.