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OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. 319
behaviour provoked the displeasure of the most im- c H A P.
placable of mankind. The two cardinals, the uncle o:and the nephew, denied the election of Boniface the Eighth; and the Colonna were oppressed for a moment by his temporal and spiritual arms". He proclaimed a crusade against his personal enemies; their estates were confiscated ; their fortresses on either side of the Tyber were besieged by the troops of St Peter and those of the rival nobles; and after the ruin of Palestrina or Praeneste, their principal seat, the ground was marked with a ploughshare, the emblem of perpetual desolation. Degraded, banished, proscribed, the six brothers, in disguise and danger, wandered over Europe without renouncing the hope of deliverance and revenge. In this double hope, the French court was their surest asylum; they prompted and directed the enterprise of Philip ; and I should praise their magnanimity, had they respected the fortune and courage of the captive tyrant. His civil acts were annulled by the Roman people, who restored the honours and possessions of the Colonna; and some estimate may be formed of their wealth by their losses, of their losses by the damages of one hundred thousand. * Petrarch's attachment to the Colonna, has authorised the Abbé de Sade to expatiate on the state of the family in the fourteenth century, the persecution of Boniface VIII, the character of Stephen and his sons, their quarrels with the Ursini, &c. (Memoires sur Petrarque, tom. i. p. 98–11o. 146– 148. 174—176. 222—230.275—28o.). His criticism often rectifies the hearsay-stories of Villani, and the errors of the
less diligent moderns. I understand the blanch of Stephen to be now extinct.
sand gold florins, which were granted them against the accomplices and heirs of the deceased Pope. All the spiritual censures and disqualifications were abolished " by his prudent successors; and the fortune of the house was more firmly established by this transient hurricane. The boldness of Sciarra Colonna was signalized in the captivity of Boniface; and long afterwards in the coronation of Lewis of Bavaria; and by the gratitude of the Emperor, the pillar in their arms was encircled with a royal crown. But the first of the family in fame and merit was the elder Stephen, whom Petrarch loved and esteemed as an hero superior to his own times, and not unworthy of ancient Rome. Persecution and exile displayed to the nations his abilities in peace and war; in his distress, he was an object, not of pity, but of reverence; the aspect of danger provoked him to avow his name and country; and when he was asked, “Where is now your for“ tress ** he laid his hand on his heart, and answered, “Here.” He supported with the same virtue the return of prosperity; and, till the ruin of his declining age, the ancestors, the character, and the children of Stephen Colonna, exalted his dignity in the Roman republic, and at the court of Avignon. II. The Ursini migrated from Spoleto; * Alexander III. had declared the Colonna who adhered to the Emperor Frederic I. incapable of holding any ecclesiastical benefice, (Villani, l. v. c. 1.); and the last stains of annual excommunication were purified by Sixtus V. (Vita di
Sisto V. tom. iii. p. 416.). Treason, sacrilege, and proscription, are often the best titles of ancient nobility.
leto *; the sons of Ursus, as they are styled in c H A P.
the twelfth century, from some eminent person who is only known as the father of their race. But they were soon distinguished among the nobles of Rome, by the number and bravery of their kinsmen, the strength of their towers, the honours of the senate and sacred college, and the elevation of two Popes, Celestin the Third and Nicholas the Third, of their name and lineage f. Their riches may be accused as an early abuse of nepotism; the estates of St Peter were alienated in their favour by the liberal Celestin f; and Nicholas was ambitious for their sake to solicit the alliance of monarchs; to found new kingdoms in Lombardy and Tuscany; and to invest them with the perpetual office of senators of Rome. All that has been observed of the
Vol. XII. Y greatness
+ Vallis te proxima misit Appenninigenae quâ prata virentia sylvae Spoletana metunt armenta greges protervi. Monaldeschi (tom. xii. Script. Ital. p. 533.) gives the Ursini a French origin, which may be remotely true. + ln the metrical life of Celestin V. by the Cardinal of St George, (Muratori, tom. iii. p. i. p. 613. &c.), we find a luminous, and not inelegant passage, (l. i. c. iii. p. 203. &c.): * genuit quem nobilis Ursae (Urrio). Progenies, Romana domus, veterataque magnis Fascibus in clero, pompasque experta senatus, Bellorumque manu grandi stipata parentum Cardineos apices necnon fastigia dudum Papatis iterata tenens. Muratori (Dissert, lii. tom, xiii. p. .) observes, that the first Ursini pontificate of Celestin III. was unknown; he is inclined to read Ursi progenies. I Filii Ursi, quondam Coelestini papae nepotes, de bonis ecclesiae Romanac ditati (Vit. Innocent. III. in Muratori, Script. tom. iii. p. i.). The partial prodigality of Nicholas III. is more conspicuous in Villani and Muratori. Yet the Ursini would disdain the nephews of a modern Pope.
greatness of the Colonna, will likewise redound to the glory of the Ursini, their constant and equal
antagonists in the long hereditary feud, which dis
tracted above two hundred and fifty years the ecclesiastical state. The jealousy of pre-eminence and power was the true ground of their quarrel; but, as a specious badge of distinction, the Colonna embraced the name of Ghibelines and the party of the empire; the Ursini espoused the title of Guelphs and the cause of the church. The eagle and the keys were displayed in their adverse banners; and the two factions of Italy most furiously raged when the origin and nature of the dispute were long since forgotten ". After the retreat of the Popes to Avignon, they disputed in arms the vacant republic; and the mischiefs of discord were perpetuated by the wretched compromise of electing each year two rival senators. By their private hostilities, the city and country were desolated, and the fluctuating balance inclined with their alternate success. But none of either family had fallen by the sword, till the most renowned champion of the Ursini was surprised and slain by the younger Stephen Colonna f. His triumph is stained with the reproach of violating the truce; their defeat was basely avenged by the assassination, before the church-door, of an innocent boy and his two servants. Yet the victorious Co
* In his 51st Dissertation on the Italian Antiquities, Muratori explains the factions of the Guelphs and Ghibelines.
+ Petrarch (tom. i. p. 222—230.) has celebrated this victoy according, to the Colonna; but two contemporaries, a Florentine (Giovanni Villani, l. x. c. 22c.) and a Roman
(Ludovico Monaldeschi, p. 533, 534.), are less favourable to their arms.
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. 323
lonna, with an annual colleague, was declared se- C H A P. nator of Rome during the term of five years. And tothe muse of Petrarch inspired a wish, a hope, a prediction, that the generous youth, the son of his ve- a nerable hero, would restore Rome and Italy to their pristine glory; that his justice would extirpate the wolves and lions, the serpents and bears, who laboured to subvert the eternal basis of the marble
* The Abbé de Sade (tom. i. Notes, p. 61–66,) has applied the 7th Canzone of Petrarch, Spirto Gentil, Soc. to Ste. phen Colonna the Younger. Orsi, lupi, leoni, aquile e serpi Ad una gran marmorea colonna Fanno noja savente e à se damno.