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expose with those of the vilest malefactors, were
* The convent of St Silvester was founded, endowed, and protected by the Colonna cardinals, for the daughters of the family who embraced a monastic life, and who, in the year 1318, were twelve in number. The others were allowed to marry with their kinsmen in the fourth degree, and the dispensation was justified by the small number and close alliance
of the noble families of Rome, (Memoires sur Petrarque,
+ Petrarch wrote a stiff and pedantic letter of consolation, (Fam. 1. vii. epist. 13. p. 682, 683.). The friend was lost in the patriot. Nulla toto orbe principum familia carior; carior tamen respublica, carior Roma, carior Italia.
Je rends graces aux Dieux de n'etre pas Romain.
f This council and opposition is obscurely mentioned by Pollistore, a contemporary writer, who has preserved some curious and original facts, (Rer. Italicarum, tom. xxv. c. 31.
of Perugia, thirty-nine members voted against his measures; repelled the injurious charge of treachery and corruption; and urged him to prove, by
their forcible exclusion, that, if the populace adhe
red to his cause, it was already disclaimed by the most respectable citizens. The Pope and the sacred college had never been dazzled by his specious professione; they were justly offended by the insolence of his conduct; a cardinal legate was sent to Italy, and, after some fruitless treaty, and two personal interviews, he fulminated a bull of excommunication, in which the Tribune is degraded from his office, and branded with the guilt of rebellion, sacrilege, and heresy". The surviving barons of Rome were now humbled to a sense of allegiance; their interest and revenge engaged them in the service of the church; but as the fate of the Colonna was before their eyes, they abandoned to a private adventurer the peril and glory of the revolution. John Pepin, Count of Minorbinof, in the kingdom of Naples, had been condemned for his crimes, or his riches, to perpetual imprisonment; and Petrarch, by soliciting his release, indirectly contributed to the ruin of his friend. At the head of one
hundred and fifty soldiers, the Count of Minorbino
introduced himself into Rome; barricaded the
A a 2 quarter
* The briefs and bulls of Clement VI. against Rienzi, are translated by the P. du Cetceau (p. 196, 232), from the Ecclesiastical Annals of Rodericus Raynaldus (A. D. 1347, No.
15. 17. 21. &c.), who found them in the archives of the Vatican.
+ Matteo Villani describes the origin, character, and death of this Count of Minorbino, a man de natura inconstanté e senza sede, whose grandfather, a crafty notary, was entiched and ennobled by the spoils of the Saracens of Nocera, (l. vii. c. 102, IoS.). See his imprisonment, and the efforts of Petrarch, tom. ii. p. 149–151.
quarter of the Colonna; and found the enterprise
were chosen, and the legate, assuming the first rank, accepted his two colleagues from the rival families of Colonna and Ursini. The acts of the Tribune were abolished, his head was proscribed; yet such was the terror of his name, that the barons hesitated three days before they would trust themselves in the city, and Rienzi was left above a month in the castle of St Angelo, from whence he peaceably withdrew, after labouring, without effect, to revive the affection and courage of the Romans. The vision of freedom and empire had vanished ; their fallen spirit would have acquiesced in servitude, had it been smoothed by tranquillity and order; and it was scarcely observed, that the new senators derived their authority from the Apostolic See; that four cardinals were appointed to reform, with dictatorial power, the state of the republic. Rome was again agitated by the bloody feuds of the barons, who detested each other, and despised the commons; their hostile fortresses, both in town and country, again rose, and were again demolished; and the peaceful citizens, a flock of sheep, were devoured, says the Florentine historian, by these rapacious wolves. But when their pride and
avarice had exhausted the patience of the Romans,
the good estate ".
* The troubles of Rome, from the departure to the return of Rienzi, are related by Matteo Villani (!. ii. c. 47. l. iii. c. 33. 57.78.), and Thomas Fortificeca (l. iii. c. 1–4.). I
have slightly passed over these secondary characters, who imitated the original Tribune.
the cities of Italy, Germany, and Bohemia. His
person was invisible, his name was yet formidable; and the anxiety of the court of Avignon supposes, and even magnifies, his personal merit. The Emperor Charles the Fourth gave audience to a stranger, who frankly revealed himself as the Tribune of the republic; and astonished an assembly of ambassadors and princes, by the eloquence of a patriot, and the visions of a prophet, the downfal of tyranny, and the kingdom of the Holy Ghost”. Whatever had been his hopes, Rienzi found himself a captive; but he supported a character of independence and dignity, and obeyed, as his own choice, the irresistible summons of the supreme Pontiff. The zeal of Petrarch, which had been cooled by the unworthy conduct, was rekindled by the sufferings and the presence of his friend; and he boldly complains of the times, in which the saviour of Rome was delivered by her Emperor into the hands of her bishop. Rienzi was transported slowly, but in safe custody, from Prague to Avignon; his entrance into the city was that of a maelefactor; in his prison he was chained by the leg; and four cardinals were named to inquire into the crimes of heresy and rebellion. But his trial and condemnation would have involved some questions, which it was more prudent to leave under the veil of mystery; the temporal supremacy cf the Popes;
* T he se visio s, of which the friends and enemies of Rienzi seein alike ignorant, are surely magnifica by the zeal ct Poloistore, a Dominican inquisitor, (Rer. It al. tom. xxv. c. 36. p. 8, 9.). Had the Tribune taught, that Christ was succeeded by the Holy Ghost, that the tyranny of the Pope would be abolished, he might have been convicted of heresy and tita323, without cfc.cirg toe Roman people.