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THE PAPAL CONCLAVES. him and De' Medici. “Well, it looks very like it !” replied the dignitary questioned. “But,” cried Colonna, who felt that, if he was to avoid having his old enemy Orsini as a master over him and all the other Colonnas, there was not a moment to be lost, “I thought it had been understood that we-I and my friends were ready to give our votes to the Cardinal De' Medici ! I am not the man to promise what I do not mean. We are ready to elect De' Medici Pope on the spot, and this instant !" Whereupon a shout was raised for De' Medici, and an “Adoration” followed, unanimous, or nearly so, on the part of all present. Giulio De' Medici, however, who was as careful and cautious a man, as his relative, Leo X., was the reverse, begged his friends to proceed to the more regular process of a scrutiny, which was done accordingly, and he was duly elected as Clement VII. by an unanimous vote, on the fiftieth day of he Conclave, the 18th November, 1523.
Clement reigned ten troublous and disastrous years. His life as Pope was like that of a hunted hare. He lived in perpetual fear-fear of the lawless bands of the Constable Bourbon, who sacked his capital and threatened his life ; fear of the raising of the question of the canonical validity of this election, on the ground of his illegitimacy; fear of the rivals Charles V. and Francis I.; fear of the treacheries by which he strove to cheat and deceive both of them being found out; fear, perhaps the worst of all, of the General Council, which he did manage to stave off, but which could no longer be stayed off by his equally unwilling, but bolder successor.
The Papacy of that successor, Paul III., was a notable and highly important one. But the Conclave which preceded it was one of the shortest and most uneventful in the whole list.
The cardinals went into Conclave on the 11th of October, 1534, and elected Alessandro Farnese Pope by the name of Paul III. unanimously, and at the first scrutiny. In fact, there are few, if any other, instances in the history of the Popes, of its having been so well known, and so entirely a foregone conclusion, who the Pope was to be, as in the case of Paul III. All Rome knew perfectly well that Farnese was to be Pope, before the Conclave was begun. In fact, he was abundantly marked out for the choice of his colleagues. He was then in his sixty-eighth year, and he had been forty years a cardinal! He was a man of good character, born to rule, and of a very noble presence. And had he had no nephews or sons, would have made a very good Pope. As it was, he made one very fatal to the interests of the Church.
This election was certainly untainted by simony. The Farnese proceeded with refractory voters otherwise than by buying them. It is related that, having heard that one of the younger cardinals in the Conclave was speaking against him, and striving to organize a party in opposition to his election, he proceeded straight to the cell of the offender, and there—voice, eye, and mien assisting him—administered such a verbal castigation to the offender, that he professed repentance, implored pardon, and on receiving it became one of Farnese's fastest friends.
And so ends that portion of our story which falls within the period that has been called the Middle Ages ; if not quite accurately so according to the almanac, yet sufficiently so in respect to the animating spirit of the times, and the influence of that spirit on the Papal Conclaves, to justify the adoption of it as a story-shed dividing the old time from the new.