Page images
PDF
EPUB

- Viterbo, in the ecclesiastical state, with the whole C H A P.

force of the city; by a rare coalition, the Teutonic eagle was blended, in the adverse banners, with the keys of St Peter; and the Pope's auxiliaries were commanded by a Count of Thoulouse and a bishop of Winchester. The Romans were discomfited with shame and slaughter; but the English prelate must have indulged the vanity of a pilgrim, if he multiplied their numbers to one hundred, and their

[ocr errors]

1234.

loss in the field to thirty thousand men, Had the

policy of the senate, and the discipline of the
legions, been restored with the Capitol, the divided
condition of Italy would have offered the fairest
opportunity of a second conquest. But in arms,
the modern Romans were not above, and in arts
they were far below, the common level of the neigh-
bouring republics. Nor was their warlike spirit of
any long continuance; after some irregular sallies,
they subsided in the national apathy, in the neglect
of military institutions, and in the disgraceful and
dangerous use of foreign mercenaries.
Ambition is a weed of quick and early vegetation
in the vineyard of Christ. Under the first Christian
princes, the chair of St Peter was disputed by the
votes, the venality, the violence, of a popular elec-
tion; the sanctuaries of Rome were polluted with
blood; and, from the third to the twelfth century,
the church was distracted by the mischief of fre-
quent schisms. As long as the final appeal was
determined by the civil magistrate, these mischiefs
were transient and local ; the merits were tried by
equity or favour; nor could the unsuccessful com-
- petitor

The elec. tion of the

Popes.

c H.A.P. petitor long disturb the triumph of his rival. But ** after the Emperors had been divested of their prerogatives, after a maxim had been established, that the vicar of Christ is amenable to no earthly tribunal, each vacancy of the holy see might involve Christendom in controversy and war. The claims of the cardinals and inferior clergy, of the nobles and people, were vague and litigious; the freedom of choice was over-ruled by the tumults of a city that no longer owned or obeyed a superior. On the decease of a Pope, two factions proceeded, in different churches, to a double election; the number and weight of votes, the priority of time, the merit of the candidates, might balance each other; the most respectable of the clergy were divided; and the distant princes who bowed before the spiritual throne, could not distinguish the spurious from the legitimate idol. The Emperors were often the authors of the schism, from the political motive of opposing a friendly to an hostile pontiff; and each of the competitors was reduced to suffer the insults of his enemies, who were not awed by conscience; and to purchase the support of his adherents, who were instigated by avarice or ambition. A peaceful and perpetual succession was ascertained Right of by Alexander the Third", who finally abolished the the cardii. e.t. tumultuary votes of the clergy and people, and de

... fined the right of election in the sole college of

III. cardinals.

* See Mosheim, Institut. Histor. Ecclesiast. p. 401. 405. Alexander himself had nearly been the victim of a contested election; and the doubtful merits of Innocent had only preponderated by the weight of genius and learning which St Bernard cast into the scale, (see his life and writings).

[ocr errors]

cardinals". The three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons, were assimilated to each other by this important privilege; the parochial clergy of Rome obtained the first rank in the hierarchy; they were indifferently chosen among the nations of Christendom; and the possession of the richest benefices, of the most important bishoprics, was not incompatible with their title and office. The senators of the Catholic church, the coadjutors and legates of the supreme Pontiff, were robed in purple, the symbol of martyrdom or royalty; they claimed a proud equality with kings; and their dignity was enhanced by the smallness of their number, which, till the reign of Leo the Tenth, seldom exceeded twenty or twenty-five persons. By this wise regulation, all doubt and scandal were removed, and the root of schism was so effectually destroyed, that in a period of six hundred years a double choice has only once divided the unity of the sacred college. But as the concurrence of two thirds of the votes had been made necessary, the election was often delayed by the private interest and passions of the cardinals; and while they prolonged their independent reign, the Christian world was left destitute of an head. A vacancy of almost three years had preceded the elevation of Gregory the tenth, who resolved to prevent the future

• abuse;

* The origin, titles, importance, dress, precedency, &c. of the Roman cardinals, are very ably discussed by Thomassin, (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 1262–1287.); but their purple is now much faded. The sacred college was raised to the definite number of seventy-two, to represent, under his vicar, the disciples of Christ.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

C.H.A.P. abuse; and his bull, after some opposition, has

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

been consecrated in the code of the canon law ". Nine days are allowed for the obsequies of the deceased Pope, and the arrival of the absent cardinals. On the tenth, they are imprisoned, each with one domestic, in a common apartment, or conclave, without any separation of walls or curtains; a small window is reserved for the introduction of necessaries; but the door is locked on both sides, and guarded by the magistrates of the city, to seclude them from all correspondence with the world. If the election be not consummated in three days, the luxury of their tables is contracted to a single dish at dinner and supper; and after the eighth day, they are reduced to a scanty allowance of bread, water, and wine. During the vacancy of the holy see, the cardinals are prohibited from touching the revenues, or assuming, unless in some rare emergency, the government of the church; all agreements and promises among the electors are formally annulled; and their integrity is fortified by their solemn oaths, and the prayers of the Catholics. Some articles of inconvenient or superfluous rigour have been gradually relaxed, but the principle of confinement is vigorous and entire; they are still urged by the personal motives of health and freedom, to accelerate the moment of their deliverance; and the improvement of ballot, or secret votes, has

wrapt

* * See the bull of Gregory X, approbante sacro concilio, in

the Sexte of the Canon Law, (l. i. tit. 6. c. 3.) a supplement to the Decretals, which Boniface VIII. promulgated at Rome in 1298, and addressed to all the universities of Europe.

wrapt the struggles of the conclave" in the silky c.H.A.P.

veil of charity and politenessf. By these institutions, the Romans were excluded from the election of their prince and bishop; and in the fever of wild and precarious liberty, they seemed insensible of the loss of this inestimable privilege. The Emperor Lewis of Bavaria revived the example of the great Otho. After some negociation with the magistrates, the Roman people was assembled ; in the square before St Peter's; the Pope of Avignon, John the Twenty-second, was deposed; the choice of his successor was ratified by their consent and applause. They freely voted for a new law, that their bishop should never be absent more than three months in the year, and two days journey from the city; * The genius of Cardinal de Retz had a right to paint a conclave (of 1665), in which he was a spectator and an actor, (Memoirs, tom. iv. p. 15–57.); but I am at a loss to appreciate the knowledge or authority of an anonymous Italian, whose history (Conclavi de Pontifici Romani, in 4to, 1667) has been continued since the reign of Alexander VII. The accidental form of the work furnishes a lesson, though not an antidote, to ambition. From a labyrinth of intrigues, we

emerge to the adoration of the successful candidate; but the next page opens with his funeral.

+ The expressions of Cardinal de Retz are positive and picturesque : On y vecut toujours ensemble avec même respect, et la même civilité que l’on observe dans le cabinet des rois, avec la même politesse qu'on avoit dans la cour de Henri III. avec la méme familiarité que l’on voit dans les colleges; avec la méme modestie, qui se remarque dans les noviciats; et avec la méme charitē, du moins en apparence, dui pourroit étre entre des freres parfaitement unis.

t Rechiesti per bando, (says John Villani) sanatori di Roma, e 52 del popolo, et capitani de' 25. e consoli (convoli PJ, et 13 buone huomini, uno per rione. Our knowledge is two imperfect to pronounce, how much of this constitution was temporary, and how much ordinary and permanent. Yet it is faintly illustrated by the ancient statutes of Rome.

[ocr errors]

A. D. 1318.

« PreviousContinue »