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On the 27th of December thirty-eight cardinals went into Conclave at the Vatican, but it was not till the 30th that the first scrutiny took place. The intervening time had been employed in receiving the envoys of the different Powers, and in making rules now observed for the first time as to the method of voting and the preparation of the voting papers. It was on this occasion finally decided that the voting should be secret, and the papers so arranged as to disclose the name of the person voted for without allowing the name of the voter, also written in the paper, to be seen. Minute precautions also were adopted to prevent fraud in giving the votes per accessum, as will be more fully explained in a future page. Besides the arrangement of these matters, after considerable debate, the Bull of Julius against simony was solemnly read, and all present swore by their hope of eternal salvation to observe its provisions to the letter! Then on the 30th the bargaining began, “without any reserve” (senza rispetto), says the Venetian ambassador.
The election in which this Conclave resulted was assuredly as pure from all taint of simony as any in the whole long roll of the Popes. But none the less did the Conclave reek with simony; only the chapmen in the field were so numerous that they spoiled the market, and rendered simony for once ineffective. Gradenigo, the Venetian ambassador, gives the process and result of the Conclave in compendious form thus: “ All the cardinals received the Eucharist, and forthwith all began bargaining for the Papacy without any regard for decency. The cardinals in Conclave were thirty-eight; fifteen of whom were in favour of Cardinal de' Medici, (Giulio de' Medici, afterwards Clement VII.*) and twenty-three against him; of which twenty-three eightteen wished each to be Pope himself. And after the first scrutiny the Cardinal Grimani, seeing that he had no chance, left the Conclave.” (The conclavist, who has left a narrative of the Conclave, says that Grimani went out from the Conclave because his conscience revolted from the things he saw done there.) “The Cardinal Farnese” (he who was afterwards Paul III.) “ had twenty-two votes ; but the Cardinals Egidio and Colonna would not give him their votes. Had they done so, he would have been Pope. Farnese gave a promise to Medici to secure to him all he had, and to make him greater than ever. But the Cardinal Adrian, who was in Spain, was elected.” But the conclavist, less exclusively interested in the result, gives at length the particulars of nine scrutinies which took place before the election was effected. It would be wearisome to give all these details of the various fluctuations of the votes among eighteen different names, most of which are now wholly forgotten. There absolutely were at least eighteen candidates, and the statement of the Venetian was no mere exaggerated phrase. At each new voting the numbers varied, and the chances of the election seemed to defy all prognostication. The only remaining interest in the facts, however, is this—that it was only as an escape from insoluble difficulties, and when their
* Sometimes called the cousin and sometimes the nephew of Leo X. He was in fact not legally related to him in any way, being of illegitimate birth. He was the son of the Giuliano who was killed in the conspiracy of the Pazzi.
Eminences were truly at their wits’ end, that they determined on electing a man who had no recommendation whatever save his real fitness for the promotion. In fact, this poor Flemish professor, Adrian, who had come to be a cardinal in consequence of having been Charles V's. tutor, was wholly unknown at Rome, save by the general report of his piety and worth. And, to cite again the Venetian ambassador, “When they had elected him, the cardinals were like dead men at the thought that they had elected one whom they had never seen. And as they came out of the Conclave, a terrible outcry was raised against them by the people, who cried out, why could you not elect one of yourselves! And so strong was this feeling that placards were stuck up about the city with Roma est locanda,* that is to say, Rome is to be let! because all thought that Adrian would take the Papacy to Spain.”+
But the cardinals soon found that they had brought a worse fate upon themselves and upon Rome than even such a second Babylonish captivity. Adrian came to Rome, but came in all the simplicity of his northern piety, actually taking the duties and responsibilities of the Papacy au sérieux, and minded, as far as was in him, to act up to them! The astonishment, dismay, and disgust of all the cardinals, and all the Apostolical Court, and indeed of all Rome, at such an incredible and unprecedented phenomenon may readily be imagined. Of course poor Adrian was an utter failure ! No doubt
* The words still used in Rome to signify that any tenement is to be let.
† Loc. cit., p. 74.
it was as happy a fate for himself as it was a source of immense rejoicing to Rome, when he died, after an unhappy reign of one year and eight months. And never, since that time, have their Eminences of the Sacred College made the mistake of electing any save an Italian to the chair of St. Peter!
Conclave which elected Clement VII.—Change in the Characteristics of
the Conclaves.-Anecdote of Adrian's narrow Escape from being killed, and of the hatred felt by the Roman Clergy against him.Roman and Florentine rivalry in the Conclave.—Intrigues in the Conclave.-The Plan of Making a Pope by “Adoration.”—Crafty Trick of Giulio de' Medici.-His Election.—And reign.-Conclave which elected Farnese as Paul III.-Circumstances of his election. -His Character.
THE Conclave which elected Giulio de' Medici as Adrian's successor, by the name of Clement VII., was an interesting one, as being, probably, the first in which the more modern spirit of finesse and intrigue seems to have prevailed over the nakedly simoniacal method of proceeding of earlier times. The menacing growlings of the storm that was about to break over the Church were beginning to be heard from the other side of the Alps. That word of dread—as it was to the Popes of those days—"an Ecumenical Council,” had been heard; and the Church began to affect a show of decency. The motives which produced the election of Clement VII. were as far removed from any such as should have dictated the choice of a vicegerent of God upon earth as they well could be. But the election does not seem to have been an openly simoniacal one.
Adrian died on the 14th of September, 1523. When