Page images

sovereignty of Avignon was afterwards purchased c H.A.P.

from the youth and distress of Jane, the first Queen of Naples, and Countess of Provence, for the inadequate price of fourscore thousand florins". Under the shadow of the French monarchy, amidst an obedient people, the Popes enjoyed an honourable and tranquil state, to which they long had

been strangers; but Italy deplored their absence;

and Rome, in solitude and poverty, might repent of the ungovernable freedom which had driven from the Vatican the successor of St Peter. Her repentance was tardy and fruitless; after the death of the old members, the sacredcollegewasfilled with French cardinalst, who beheld Rome and Italy with abhorrence and contempt, and perpetuated a series of national, and even provincial Popes, attached by the most indissoluble ties to their native country.

X 3 The

heresy of Count Raymond had given them a pretence of seizure, and they derived some obscure claim from the 11th century to some lands citra Rhodanum, (Valesii Notitia Galliarum, p. 459. 61 o. Longuerue, Description de la France, tom. i. p. 376–381.).

* If a possession of four centuries were not itself a title, such objections might annul the bargain; but the purchasemoney must be refunded, for indeed it was paid. Civitatem Avenionem emit . . . . per ejusmodi venditionem pecunia redundantes, &c. (2da Vita Clement VI. in Baluz. tom. i. p. 272. Muratori Script. tom. iii. p. ii. p. 565.). The only temptation for Jane and her second husband was ready money, and without it they could not have returned to the throne of Naples.

+ Clement V. immediately promoted ten cardinals, nine French and one English, (Vita 4ta, p. 63. et Baluz. p. 625, &c.). In 1331, the Pope refused two candidates recommended by the King of France, quod xx Cardinales, de quibus xvii. de regno Franciae originem traxisse noscuntur in memorato collegio existant, (Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i.

p. 1281.).

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

The progress of industry had produced and enriched the Italian republics; the aera of their liberty is the most flourishing period of population and agriculture, of manufactures and commerce; and their mechanic labours were gradually refined into the arts of elegance and genius. , But the position of Rome was less favourable, the territory less fruitful; the character of the inhabitants was debased by indolence, and elated by pride; and they fondly conceived, that the tribute of subjects must for ever nourish the metropolis of the church and empire. This prejudice was encouraged in some degree by the resort of pilgrims to the shrines of the apostles; and the last legacy of the Popes, the institution of the Holy YEAR", was not less beneficial to the people than to the clergy. Since the loss of Palestine, the gift of plenary indulgences, which had been applied to the crusades, remained without an object; and the most valuable treasure of the church was sequestered above eight years from public circulation. A new channel was opened by the diligence of Boniface the Eighth, who reconciled the vices of ambition and avarice; and the Pope had sufficient learning to recollect and revive the secular games, which were celebrated in Rome at the conclusion of every century. To sound, without danger, the depth of popular credulity, a sermon was seasonably pronounced, a report was artfully scattered, some aged witnesses were produced; and on the first of January


* Our primitive account is from Cardinal James Caietan, (Maxima Bibliot. Patrum, tom. xxv.); and I am at a loss to determine whether the nephew of Boniface VIII. be a fool b: a knave; the uncle is a much clearer character. } of

[ocr errors]

of the year thirteen hundred, the church of St C H A P.

Peter was crowded with the faithful, who demanded the customary indulgence of the holy time. The pontiff, who watched and irritated their devout impatience, was soon persuaded, by ancient testimony, of the justice of their claim; and he proclaimed a plenary absolution to all Catholics who, in the course of that year, and at every similar period, should respectfully visit the apostolic churches of St Peter and St Paul. The welcome sound was propagated through Christendom; and at first from the nearest provinces of Italy, and at length from the remote kingdoms of Hungary and Britain, the highways were thronged with a swarm of pilgrims who sought to expiate their sins in a journey, however costly or laborious, which was exempt from the perils of military service. All exceptions of rank or sex, of age or infirmity, were forgotten in the common transport ; and in the streets and churches many persons were trampled to death by the eagerness of devotion. The calculation of their numbers could not be easy nor accurate; and they have probably been magnified by a dextrous clergy, well apprised of the contagion of example; yet we are assured by a judicious historian, who assisted at the ceremony, that Rome was never replenished with less than two hundred thousand strangers; and another spectator has fixed at two millions the total concourse of the year. A trifling oblation from each individual would accumulate a royal treasure; and two priests stood night and day, with rakes in their hands, to collect, without counting, the heaps of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

c H.A. P. gold and silver that were poured on the altar of St

[ocr errors]

The second jubilee, A. D. 350.

Paul". It was fortunately a season of peace and
plenty; and if forage was scarce, if inns and
lodgings were extravagantly dear, an inexhaustible
supply of bread and wine, of meat and fish, was
provided by the policy of Boniface, and the venal
hospitality of the Romans. From a city without trade
or industry, all casual riches will speedily evaporate;
but the avarice and envy of the next generation
solicited Clement the Sixth t to anticipate the distant
period of the century. The gracious pontiff com-
plied with their wishes; afforded Rome this poor
consolation for his loss; and justified the change
by the name and practice of the Mosaic Jubileej.
His summons was obeyed; and the number, zeal,
and liberality of the pilgrims, did not yield to the
primitive festival. But they encountered the triple
scourge of war, pestilence, and famine; many
wives and virgins were violated in the castles of
Italy; and many strangers were pillaged or mur-
- dered
* See John Villani (1. viii. c. 36.) in the 12th, and the
Chronicon Astense in the 11th volume (p. 191. 192.) of Mu-

ratori's Collection. Papa innumerabilem pecuniam ab eisdem accepit, nam duo clerici, cum rastris, &c.

* + The two bulls of Boniface VIII. and Clement VI. are inserted in the Corpus Juris Canonici, (Extravagant. Commun. I. v. tit. ix. c. 1. 2.).

f The sabbatic years and jubilees of the Mosaic law, (Car. Sigon. de Republică Hebræorum, Opp. tom. iv. l. iii. c. 14. 1 5. p. 151. 152.), the suspension of all care and labour, the periodical release of lands, debts, servitude, &c. may seem a noble idea, but the execution would be impracticable in a proJane republic; and I should be glad to learn that this ruinous festival was observed by the Jewish people.

dered by the savage Romans, no longer moderated C.H.A.P. by the presence of their bishop ". To the impa- Jotience of the Popes we may ascribe the successive reduction to fifty, thirty-three, and twenty-five years; although the second of these terms is commensurate with the life of Christ. The profusion of indulgences, the revolt of the Protestants, and the decline of superstition, have much diminished the value of the jubilee; yet even the nineteenth and last festival was a year of pleasure and profit to the Romans; and a philosophic smile will not disturb the triumph of the priest or the happiness of the peoplef.

In the beginning of the eleventh century, Italy ..., was exposed to the feudal tyranny, alike oppres- barons of sive to the sovereign and the people. The rights “ of human nature were vindicated by her numerous. republics, who soon extended their liberty and dominion from the city to the adjacent country. The sword of the nobles was broken; their slaves were enfranchised; their castles were demolished; they assumed the habits of society and obedience; their ambition was confined to municipal honours, and in the proudest aristocracy of Venice or Genoa, each patrician was subject to the laws f. But the


* See the Chronicle of Matteo Villani, (l. i. c. 56.), in the 14th volume of Muratori, and the Memoires sur la Vie de Petrarque, tom. iii. p. 75–89. .

+ The subject is exhausted by M. Chais, a French minister at the Hague, in his Lettres Historiques et Dogmatiques, sur les Jubiles et les Indulgences; la Haye, 1751, 3 vols. in 12mo; an elaborate and pleasing work, had not the author preferred the character of a polemic to that of a philosopher.

f Muratori (Dissert. xlvii.) alledges the Annals of Florence, + - Padua,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »