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THE ZEALOUS POPES.
Remarks of Ranke on the Papal History of the Sixteenth Century.
Julius III.-His Character.—Conclave which elected him.- View of this Conclave by the Venetian Ambassador.-Delay in Assembling of the Conclaves after Paul III.'s Death.-Reginald Pole.—The Expectation that he would be elected.-Was all but elected.—His own scruples.—His Election lost by them.-Anecdote of his behaviour in Conclave.-Cardinal di San Marcello, afterwards Pope as Marcellus II.-Determined to elect Pole, if possible.—The Emperor appealed to by Letter. -He vetoes Cardinal Salviati.—Election of Del Monte, as Julius III.—His Character.
I HAVE given in a former chapter my reasons for drawing a line of division at the death of Paul III. Ranke says,* that the sixteenth century was especially marked by the spirit of religious creation. Even yet, in our own days, we are living on the struggles between various creeds which first broke out in that age. But if it is desired to fix with greater precision the epoch at which the separation of the creeds was consummated, we must not fix it at the first appearance of the reformers. For their opinions did not so soon succeed in establishing themselves; and for a long time there was room to hope for an agreement on the controverted points. But it was about the year 1552 that all attempts at conciliation were seen to have completely failed. A little farther on he remarks, that the most immediate obstacle which the Catholic Church had to contend against, in the effort to effect such a renovation of itself as should avail to stem the advancing tide of reformation, arose, at the very first, from the Popes themselves, from their character and their policy. And it is impossible to take even the most cursory view of the reign of Paul III. without arriving at the conviction that he, though not wholly opposed to the Council of Trent, and not by any means altogether without care for the spiritual interests of the Church (though he was far more prone and more fitted to consider its temporal affairs), must yet be counted among those Popes whose character and policy formed a terrible obstacle to any such renovation.
* Hist. Popes, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Book iii.
Nor can it be said that the successor of Paul III., Julius III., in any degree deserved a place in that series of Popes whom I have grouped together, as the subject of this division of my story, under the denomination of The Zealous Popes. In truth Giovanni Maria Del Monte, who became Pope as Julius III., was one of the last of the Popes who could be called “zealous” in any sense. And if I had been writing a compendium of the history of the Popes, with reference to that remarkable tendency to group themselves into series which I have before spoken of, I should certainly have assigned him his place as the last among the preceding group, though he cannot be said to have belonged to the series of sovereign-family-founding Popes. But inasmuch as our business is more especially with the Conclaves that
elected the Pontiffs, than with the Popes themselves, and as the rising spirit, characterised by Ranke in the above-cited passage, may be plainly discerned in the Conclave which elected Julius III., I have preferred to draw my dividing line at the death of that great and memorable Pontiff, Alessandro Farnese, Paul III.
The conclavist indeed, who has left a narrative of the proceedings of the Conclave which elected Julius, represents the motives of all concerned to have been exactly of the old sort, purely and exclusively worldly, and proceeding from low personal ambitions and enmities. He was doubtless an old hand; had probably held a similar position in other previous Conclaves, and, as one can imagine readily would be in such case the result, was utterly incapable of conceiving any other motives, or any other scheme of conducting a Papal election. But we have an account of this Conclave by a very different sort of person; who, if he made no part of the little Conclave world, and had therefore not the means of observing, as the Conclavist had, every conversation and every report, and spying every wish, was able to take a much larger and higher view of the entire matter, to interpret in a more just, as well as in a more liberal, spirit the motives of the chief actors, and to comprehend the forces which influenced them. The person in question was the old and experienced Venetian statesman, Matteo Dandolo, who had been sent by the Senate as ambassador to Paul III., and who remained at Rome during the Conclave which elected his successor. The “relation” or report of his embassy, which he read before the Senate in accordance with Venetian law, on
his return, is an extremely valuable and interesting document, and is printed in the third volume of the second series of Sign. Albéri's collection.* It has been much used by Ranke. Now, that improvement in the spirit of the Conclave, which was invisible to the conclavist, is unmistakably to be read in Dandolo's account of the election of Julius III.
Paul III. died, truly broken-hearted at the misconduct and treachery of those relatives for the aggrandizement of whom he had risked everything and sacrificed so much, on the 10th of November, 1549, having reigned fifteen years. An unduly long time elapsed before the cardinals entered Conclave at the beginning of December; the cause of the delay having probably been that some of the absent cardinals, especially the French, were waited for. Nevertheless some of these had not arrived when the Conclave commenced. The Venetian ambassador reports that the interregnum was an unusually orderly one; so much so that “save during the first days, when the shops were all shut, and some murders were committed, all passed in the quietest manner, as though the See were not vacant!” Seven thousand good troops, the same authority tells us, brought for the most part from Perugia, kept the city in order.
As the procession of cardinals passed to the Conclave, says Matteo Dandolo, the marked deference shown by all of them to the Cardinal of England (Reginald Pole) was much commented on; and the opinion was very common throughout the city that he would be the new Pope. The Conclave was mainly divided into three parties. The first consisted of those who were partisans of the Emperor (Charles V.); the second was composed of the friends of the French King (Francis); the third, perhaps the most powerful of the three, consisted of the 66 creatures” of, i.e., the cardinals created by, Paul III. Inside the Conclave the opinion was, that the making of the new Pope would, at the upshot, lie with the members of the latter. Nor was this party altogether averse to the election of Pole. So that, at the beginning of the Conclave, it was calculated that, if the election were made instantly, it would be found that the English Cardinal had three votes more than were sufficient to make the requisite two-thirds' majority. Cardinal Farnese, the recognised leader of the third of the above-named parties, and certainly the man of by far the greatest influence among the members of it, had made up his mind to elect Cardinal Pole. The Venetian ambassador gives three reasons for that determination of his; in the setting forth of which he amusingly places last that, which few, and least of all the ambassador, could fail to recognise as, not only the first, but in truth the reason that motived his decision. He had made up his mind to place the English Cardinal on the throne, says the Venetian, “because of the remarkable purity of his life and morals; because also of the great degree of authority he enjoyed, having been a cardinal for many years; and, lastly, because of the hope he had that the English Cardinal, if he became Pope, would be disposed to secure to him the dominion of Parma." In fact,
* It may be useful to students referring to this report, to mention that a very misleading misprint of “ Paul IV.” for Paul III. occurs twice in the index to this volume.