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Chapter LXX: Final Settlement Of The Ecclesiastical State.—Part III.
Without drawing his sword, count Pepin restored the aristocracy and the church; three senators 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 laboring, 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, a confraternity of the Virgin Mary protected or avenged the republic: the bell of the Capitol was again tolled, the nobles in arms trembled in the presence of an unarmed multitude; and of the two senators, Colonna escaped from the window of the palace, and Ursini was stoned at the foot of the altar. The dangerous office of tribune was successively occupied by two plebeians, Cerroni and Baroncelli. The mildness of Cerroni was unequal to the times; and after a faint struggle, he retired with a fair reputation and a decent fortune to the comforts of rural life. Devoid of eloquence or genius, Baroncelli was distinguished by a resolute spirit: he spoke the language of a patriot, and trod in the footsteps of tyrants; his suspicion was a sentence of death, and his own death was the reward of his cruelties. Amidst the public misfortunes, the faults of Rienzi were forgotten; and the Romans sighed for the peace and prosperity of their good estate.83958395 The troubles of Rome, from the departure to the return of Rienzi, are related by Matteo Villani (l. ii. c. 47, l. iii. c. 33, 57, 78) and Thomas Fortifiocca, (l. iii. c. 1—4.) I have slightly passed over these secondary characters, who imitated the original tribune.
After an exile of seven years, the first deliverer was again restored to his country. In the disguise of a monk or a pilgrim, he escaped from the castle of St. Angelo, implored the friendship of the king of Hungary at Naples, tempted the ambition of every bold adventurer, mingled at Rome with the pilgrims of the jubilee, lay concealed among the hermits of the Apennine, and wandered through 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 downfall of tyranny and the kingdom of the Holy Ghost.83968396 These visions, of which the friends and enemies of Rienzi seem alike ignorant, are surely magnified by the zeal of Pollistore, a Dominican inquisitor, (Rer. Ital. tom. xxv. c. 36, p. 819.) 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 treason, without offending the Roman people. * Note: So far from having magnified these visions, Pollistore is more than confirmed by the documents published by Papencordt. The adoption of all the wild doctrines of the Fratricelli, the Spirituals, in which, for the time at least, Rienzi appears to have been in earnest; his magnificent offers to the emperor, and the whole history of his life, from his first escape from Rome to his imprisonment at Avignon, are among the most curious chapters of his eventful life.—M. 1845. 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 savior 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 malefactor; 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 of the popes; the duty of residence; the civil and ecclesiastical privileges of the clergy and people of Rome. The reigning pontiff well deserved the appellation of Clement: the strange vicissitudes and magnanimous spirit of the captive excited his pity and esteem; and Petrarch believes that he respected in the hero the name and sacred character of a poet.83978397 The astonishment, the envy almost, of Petrarch is a proof, if not of the truth of this incredible fact, at least of his own veracity. The abbé de Sade (Mémoires, tom. iii. p. 242) quotes the vith epistle of the xiiith book of Petrarch, but it is of the royal MS., which he consulted, and not of the ordinary Basil edition, (p. 920.) Rienzi was indulged with an easy confinement and the use of books; and in the assiduous study of Livy and the Bible, he sought the cause and the consolation of his misfortunes.
The succeeding pontificate of Innocent the Sixth opened a new prospect of his deliverance and restoration; and the court of Avignon was persuaded, that the successful rebel could alone appease and reform the anarchy of the metropolis. After a solemn profession of fidelity, the Roman tribune was sent into Italy, with the title of senator; but the death of Baroncelli appeared to supersede the use of his mission; and the legate, Cardinal Albornoz,83988398 Ægidius, or Giles Albornoz, a noble Spaniard, archbishop of Toledo, and cardinal legate in Italy, (A.D. 1353—1367,) restored, by his arms and counsels, the temporal dominion of the popes. His life has been separately written by Sepulveda; but Dryden could not reasonably suppose, that his name, or that of Wolsey, had reached the ears of the Mufti in Don Sebastian. a consummate statesman, allowed him with reluctance, and without aid, to undertake the perilous experiment. His first reception was equal to his wishes: the day of his entrance was a public festival; and his eloquence and authority revived the laws of the good estate. But this momentary sunshine was soon clouded by his own vices and those of the people: in the Capitol, he might often regret the prison of Avignon; and after a second administration of four months, Rienzi was massacred in a tumult which had been fomented by the Roman barons. In the society of the Germans and Bohemians, he is said to have contracted the habits of intemperance and cruelty: adversity had chilled his enthusiasm, without fortifying his reason or virtue; and that youthful hope, that lively assurance, which is the pledge of success, was now succeeded by the cold impotence of distrust and despair. The tribune had reigned with absolute dominion, by the choice, and in the hearts, of the Romans: the senator was the servile minister of a foreign court; and while he was suspected by the people, he was abandoned by the prince. The legate Albornoz, who seemed desirous of his ruin, inflexibly refused all supplies of men and money; a faithful subject could no longer presume to touch the revenues of the apostolical chamber; and the first idea of a tax was the signal of clamor and sedition. Even his justice was tainted with the guilt or reproach of selfish cruelty: the most virtuous citizen of Rome was sacrificed to his jealousy; and in the execution of a public robber, from whose purse he had been assisted, the magistrate too much forgot, or too much remembered, the obligations of the debtor.83998399 From Matteo Villani and Fortifiocca, the P. du Cerçeau (p. 344—394) has extracted the life and death of the chevalier Montreal, the life of a robber and the death of a hero. At the head of a free company, the first that desolated Italy, he became rich and formidable be had money in all the banks,—60,000 ducats in Padua alone. A civil war exhausted his treasures, and the patience of the city: the Colonna maintained their hostile station at Palestrina; and his mercenaries soon despised a leader whose ignorance and fear were envious of all subordinate merit. In the death, as in the life, of Rienzi, the hero and the coward were strangely mingled. When the Capitol was invested by a furious multitude, when he was basely deserted by his civil and military servants, the intrepid senator, waving the banner of liberty, presented himself on the balcony, addressed his eloquence to the various passions of the Romans, and labored to persuade them, that in the same cause himself and the republic must either stand or fall. His oration was interrupted by a volley of imprecations and stones; and after an arrow had transpierced his hand, he sunk into abject despair, and fled weeping to the inner chambers, from whence he was let down by a sheet before the windows of the prison. Destitute of aid or hope, he was besieged till the evening: the doors of the Capitol were destroyed with axes and fire; and while the senator attempted to escape in a plebeian habit, he was discovered and dragged to the platform of the palace, the fatal scene of his judgments and executions. A whole hour, without voice or motion, he stood amidst the multitude half naked and half dead: their rage was hushed into curiosity and wonder: the last feelings of reverence and compassion yet struggled in his favor; and they might have prevailed, if a bold assassin had not plunged a dagger in his breast. He fell senseless with the first stroke: the impotent revenge of his enemies inflicted a thousand wounds: and the senator's body was abandoned to the dogs, to the Jews, and to the flames. Posterity will compare the virtues and failings of this extraordinary man; but in a long period of anarchy and servitude, the name of Rienzi has often been celebrated as the deliverer of his country, and the last of the Roman patriots.84008400 The exile, second government, and death of Rienzi, are minutely related by the anonymous Roman, who appears neither his friend nor his enemy, (l. iii. c. 12—25.) Petrarch, who loved the tribune, was indifferent to the fate of the senator.
The first and most generous wish of Petrarch was the restoration of a free republic; but after the exile and death of his plebeian hero, he turned his eyes from the tribune, to the king, of the Romans. The Capitol was yet stained with the blood of Rienzi, when Charles the Fourth descended from the Alps to obtain the Italian and Imperial crowns. In his passage through Milan he received the visit, and repaid the flattery, of the poet-laureate; accepted a medal of Augustus; and promised, without a smile, to imitate the founder of the Roman monarchy. A false application of the name and maxims of antiquity was the source of the hopes and disappointments of Petrarch; yet he could not overlook the difference of times and characters; the immeasurable distance between the first Cæsars and a Bohemian prince, who by the favor of the clergy had been elected the titular head of the German aristocracy. Instead of restoring to Rome her glory and her provinces, he had bound himself by a secret treaty with the pope, to evacuate the city on the day of his coronation; and his shameful retreat was pursued by the reproaches of the patriot bard.84018401 The hopes and the disappointment of Petrarch are agreeably described in his own words by the French biographer, (Mémoires, tom. iii. p. 375—413;) but the deep, though secret, wound was the coronation of Zanubi, the poet-laureate, by Charles IV.
After the loss of liberty and empire, his third and more humble wish was to reconcile the shepherd with his flock; to recall the Roman bishop to his ancient and peculiar diocese. In the fervor of youth, with the authority of age, Petrarch addressed his exhortations to five successive popes, and his eloquence was always inspired by the enthusiasm of sentiment and the freedom of language.84028402 See, in his accurate and amusing biographer, the application of Petrarch and Rome to Benedict XII. in the year 1334, (Mémoires, tom. i. p. 261—265,) to Clement VI. in 1342, (tom. ii. p. 45—47,) and to Urban V. in 1366, (tom. iii. p. 677—691:) his praise (p. 711—715) and excuse (p. 771) of the last of these pontiffs. His angry controversy on the respective merits of France and Italy may be found, Opp. p. 1068—1085. The son of a citizen of Florence invariably preferred the country of his birth to that of his education; and Italy, in his eyes, was the queen and garden of the world. Amidst her domestic factions, she was doubtless superior to France both in art and science, in wealth and politeness; but the difference could scarcely support the epithet of barbarous, which he promiscuously bestows on the countries beyond the Alps. Avignon, the mystic Babylon, the sink of vice and corruption, was the object of his hatred and contempt; but he forgets that her scandalous vices were not the growth of the soil, and that in every residence they would adhere to the power and luxury of the papal court. He confesses that the successor of St. Peter is the bishop of the universal church; yet it was not on the banks of the Rhône, but of the Tyber, that the apostle had fixed his everlasting throne; and while every city in the Christian world was blessed with a bishop, the metropolis alone was desolate and forlorn. Since the removal of the Holy See, the sacred buildings of the Lateran and the Vatican, their altars and their saints, were left in a state of poverty and decay; and Rome was often painted under the image of a disconsolate matron, as if the wandering husband could be reclaimed by the homely portrait of the age and infirmities of his weeping spouse. 84038403 Squalida sed quoniam facies, neglectaque cultû Cæsaries; multisque malis lassata senectus Eripuit solitam effigiem: vetus accipe nomen; Roma vocor. (Carm. l. 2, p. 77.) He spins this allegory beyond all measure or patience. The Epistles to Urban V in prose are more simple and persuasive, (Senilium, l. vii. p. 811—827 l. ix. epist. i. p. 844—854.) But the cloud which hung over the seven hills would be dispelled by the presence of their lawful sovereign: eternal fame, the prosperity of Rome, and the peace of Italy, would be the recompense of the pope who should dare to embrace this generous resolution. Of the five whom Petrarch exhorted, the three first, John the Twenty-second, Benedict the Twelfth, and Clement the Sixth, were importuned or amused by the boldness of the orator; but the memorable change which had been attempted by Urban the Fifth was finally accomplished by Gregory the Eleventh. The execution of their design was opposed by weighty and almost insuperable obstacles. A king of France, who has deserved the epithet of wise, was unwilling to release them from a local dependence: the cardinals, for the most part his subjects, were attached to the language, manners, and climate of Avignon; to their stately palaces; above all, to the wines of Burgundy. In their eyes, Italy was foreign or hostile; and they reluctantly embarked at Marseilles, as if they had been sold or banished into the land of the Saracens. Urban the Fifth resided three years in the Vatican with safety and honor: his sanctity was protected by a guard of two thousand horse; and the king of Cyprus, the queen of Naples, and the emperors of the East and West, devoutly saluted their common father in the chair of St. Peter. But the joy of Petrarch and the Italians was soon turned into grief and indignation. Some reasons of public or private moment, his own impatience or the prayers of the cardinals, recalled Urban to France; and the approaching election was saved from the tyrannic patriotism of the Romans. The powers of heaven were interested in their cause: Bridget of Sweden, a saint and pilgrim, disapproved the return, and foretold the death, of Urban the Fifth: the migration of Gregory the Eleventh was encouraged by St. Catharine of Sienna, the spouse of Christ and ambassadress of the Florentines; and the popes themselves, the great masters of human credulity, appear to have listened to these visionary females.84048404 I have not leisure to expatiate on the legends of St. Bridget or St. Catharine, the last of which might furnish some amusing stories. Their effect on the mind of Gregory XI. is attested by the last solemn words of the dying pope, who admonished the assistants, ut caverent ab hominibus, sive viris, sive mulieribus, sub specie religionis loquentibus visiones sui capitis, quia per tales ipse seductus, &c., (Baluz. Not ad Vit. Pap. Avenionensium, tom. i. p. 1224.) Yet those celestial admonitions were supported by some arguments of temporal policy. The residents of Avignon had been invaded by hostile violence: at the head of thirty thousand robbers, a hero had extorted ransom and absolution from the vicar of Christ and the sacred college; and the maxim of the French warriors, to spare the people and plunder the church, was a new heresy of the most dangerous import.84058405 This predatory expedition is related by Froissard, (Chronique, tom. i. p. 230,) and in the life of Du Guesclin, (Collection Générale des Mémoires Historiques, tom. iv. c. 16, p. 107—113.) As early as the year 1361, the court of Avignon had been molested by similar freebooters, who afterwards passed the Alps, (Mémoires sur Pétrarque, tom. iii. p. 563—569.) While the pope was driven from Avignon, he was strenuously invited to Rome. The senate and people acknowledged him as their lawful sovereign, and laid at his feet the keys of the gates, the bridges, and the fortresses; of the quarter at least beyond the Tyber.84068406 Fleury alleges, from the annals of Odericus Raynaldus, the original treaty which was signed the 21st of December, 1376, between Gregory XI. and the Romans, (Hist. Ecclés. tom. xx. p. 275.) But this loyal offer was accompanied by a declaration, that they could no longer suffer the scandal and calamity of his absence; and that his obstinacy would finally provoke them to revive and assert the primitive right of election. The abbot of Mount Cassin had been consulted, whether he would accept the triple crown84078407 The first crown or regnum (Ducange, Gloss. Latin. tom. v. p. 702) on the episcopal mitre of the popes, is ascribed to the gift of Constantine, or Clovis. The second was added by Boniface VIII., as the emblem not only of a spiritual, but of a temporal, kingdom. The three states of the church are represented by the triple crown which was introduced by John XXII. or Benedict XII., (Mémoires sur Pétrarque, tom. i. p. 258, 259.) from the clergy and people: "I am a citizen of Rome,"84088408 Baluze (Not. ad Pap. Avenion. tom. i. p. 1194, 1195) produces the original evidence which attests the threats of the Roman ambassadors, and the resignation of the abbot of Mount Cassin, qui, ultro se offerens, respondit se civem Romanum esse, et illud velle quod ipsi vellent. replied that venerable ecclesiastic, "and my first law is, the voice of my country."84098409 The return of the popes from Avignon to Rome, and their reception by the people, are related in the original lives of Urban V. and Gregory XI., in Baluze (Vit. Paparum Avenionensium, tom. i. p. 363—486) and Muratori, (Script. Rer. Italicarum, tom. iii. P. i. p. 613—712.) In the disputes of the schism, every circumstance was severely, though partially, scrutinized; more especially in the great inquest, which decided the obedience of Castile, and to which Baluze, in his notes, so often and so largely appeals from a MS. volume in the Harley library, (p. 1281, &c.)
If superstition will interpret an untimely death,84108410 Can the death of a good man be esteemed a punishment by those who believe in the immortality of the soul? They betray the instability of their faith. Yet as a mere philosopher, I cannot agree with the Greeks, on oi Jeoi jilousin apoqnhskei neoV, (Brunck, Poetæ Gnomici, p. 231.) See in Herodotus (l. i. c. 31) the moral and pleasing tale of the Argive youths. if the merit of counsels be judged from the event, the heavens may seem to frown on a measure of such apparent season and propriety. Gregory the Eleventh did not survive above fourteen months his return to the Vatican; and his decease was followed by the great schism of the West, which distracted the Latin church above forty years. The sacred college was then composed of twenty-two cardinals: six of these had remained at Avignon; eleven Frenchmen, one Spaniard, and four Italians, entered the conclave in the usual form. Their choice was not yet limited to the purple; and their unanimous votes acquiesced in the archbishop of Bari, a subject of Naples, conspicuous for his zeal and learning, who ascended the throne of St. Peter under the name of Urban the Sixth. The epistle of the sacred college affirms his free, and regular, election; which had been inspired, as usual, by the Holy Ghost; he was adored, invested, and crowned, with the customary rites; his temporal authority was obeyed at Rome and Avignon, and his ecclesiastical supremacy was acknowledged in the Latin world. During several weeks, the cardinals attended their new master with the fairest professions of attachment and loyalty; till the summer heats permitted a decent escape from the city. But as soon as they were united at Anagni and Fundi, in a place of security, they cast aside the mask, accused their own falsehood and hypocrisy, excommunicated the apostate and antichrist of Rome, and proceeded to a new election of Robert of Geneva, Clement the Seventh, whom they announced to the nations as the true and rightful vicar of Christ. Their first choice, an involuntary and illegal act, was annulled by fear of death and the menaces of the Romans; and their complaint is justified by the strong evidence of probability and fact. The twelve French cardinals, above two thirds of the votes, were masters of the election; and whatever might be their provincial jealousies, it cannot fairly be presumed that they would have sacrificed their right and interest to a foreign candidate, who would never restore them to their native country. In the various, and often inconsistent, narratives,84118411 In the first book of the Histoire du Concile de Pise, M. Lenfant has abridged and compared the original narratives of the adherents of Urban and Clement, of the Italians and Germans, the French and Spaniards. The latter appear to be the most active and loquacious, and every fact and word in the original lives of Gregory XI. and Clement VII. are supported in the notes of their editor Baluze. the shades of popular violence are more darkly or faintly colored: but the licentiousness of the seditious Romans was inflamed by a sense of their privileges, and the danger of a second emigration. The conclave was intimidated by the shouts, and encompassed by the arms, of thirty thousand rebels; the bells of the Capitol and St. Peter's rang an alarm: "Death, or an Italian pope!" was the universal cry; the same threat was repeated by the twelve bannerets or chiefs of the quarters, in the form of charitable advice; some preparations were made for burning the obstinate cardinals; and had they chosen a Transalpine subject, it is probable that they would never have departed alive from the Vatican. The same constraint imposed the necessity of dissembling in the eyes of Rome and of the world; the pride and cruelty of Urban presented a more inevitable danger; and they soon discovered the features of the tyrant, who could walk in his garden and recite his breviary, while he heard from an adjacent chamber six cardinals groaning on the rack. His inflexible zeal, which loudly censured their luxury and vice, would have attached them to the stations and duties of their parishes at Rome; and had he not fatally delayed a new promotion, the French cardinals would have been reduced to a helpless minority in the sacred college. For these reasons, and the hope of repassing the Alps, they rashly violated the peace and unity of the church; and the merits of their double choice are yet agitated in the Catholic schools.84128412 The ordinal numbers of the popes seems to decide the question against Clement VII. and Benedict XIII., who are boldly stigmatized as antipopes by the Italians, while the French are content with authorities and reasons to plead the cause of doubt and toleration, (Baluz. in Præfat.) It is singular, or rather it is not singular, that saints, visions and miracles should be common to both parties. The vanity, rather than the interest, of the nation determined the court and clergy of France. 84138413 Baluze strenuously labors (Not. p. 1271—1280) to justify the pure and pious motives of Charles V. king of France: he refused to hear the arguments of Urban; but were not the Urbanists equally deaf to the reasons of Clement, &c.? The states of Savoy, Sicily, Cyprus, Arragon, Castille, Navarre, and Scotland were inclined by their example and authority to the obedience of Clement the Seventh, and after his decease, of Benedict the Thirteenth. Rome and the principal states of Italy, Germany, Portugal, England,84148414 An epistle, or declamation, in the name of Edward III., (Baluz. Vit. Pap. Avenion. tom. i. p. 553,) displays the zeal of the English nation against the Clementines. Nor was their zeal confined to words: the bishop of Norwich led a crusade of 60,000 bigots beyond sea, (Hume's History, vol. iii. p. 57, 58.) the Low Countries, and the kingdoms of the North, adhered to the prior election of Urban the Sixth, who was succeeded by Boniface the Ninth, Innocent the Seventh, and Gregory the Twelfth.
From the banks of the Tyber and the Rhône, the hostile pontiffs encountered each other with the pen and the sword: the civil and ecclesiastical order of society was disturbed; and the Romans had their full share of the mischiefs of which they may be arraigned as the primary authors.84158415 Besides the general historians, the Diaries of Delphinus Gentilia Peter Antonius, and Stephen Infessura, in the great collection of Muratori, represented the state and misfortunes of Rome. They had vainly flattered themselves with the hope of restoring the seat of the ecclesiastical monarchy, and of relieving their poverty with the tributes and offerings of the nations; but the separation of France and Spain diverted the stream of lucrative devotion; nor could the loss be compensated by the two jubilees which were crowded into the space of ten years. By the avocations of the schism, by foreign arms, and popular tumults, Urban the Sixth and his three successors were often compelled to interrupt their residence in the Vatican. The Colonna and Ursini still exercised their deadly feuds: the bannerets of Rome asserted and abused the privileges of a republic: the vicars of Christ, who had levied a military force, chastised their rebellion with the gibbet, the sword, and the dagger; and, in a friendly conference, eleven deputies of the people were perfidiously murdered and cast into the street. Since the invasion of Robert the Norman, the Romans had pursued their domestic quarrels without the dangerous interposition of a stranger. But in the disorders of the schism, an aspiring neighbor, Ladislaus king of Naples, alternately supported and betrayed the pope and the people; by the former he was declared gonfalonier, or general, of the church, while the latter submitted to his choice the nomination of their magistrates. Besieging Rome by land and water, he thrice entered the gates as a Barbarian conqueror; profaned the altars, violated the virgins, pillaged the merchants, performed his devotions at St. Peter's, and left a garrison in the castle of St. Angelo. His arms were sometimes unfortunate, and to a delay of three days he was indebted for his life and crown: but Ladislaus triumphed in his turn; and it was only his premature death that could save the metropolis and the ecclesiastical state from the ambitious conqueror, who had assumed the title, or at least the powers, of king of Rome.84168416 It is supposed by Giannone (tom. iii. p. 292) that he styled himself Rex Romæ, a title unknown to the world since the expulsion of Tarquin. But a nearer inspection has justified the reading of Rex Ramæ, of Rama, an obscure kingdom annexed to the crown of Hungary.
I have not undertaken the ecclesiastical history of the schism; but Rome, the object of these last chapters, is deeply interested in the disputed succession of her sovereigns. The first counsels for the peace and union of Christendom arose from the university of Paris, from the faculty of the Sorbonne, whose doctors were esteemed, at least in the Gallican church, as the most consummate masters of theological science. 84178417 The leading and decisive part which France assumed in the schism is stated by Peter du Puis in a separate history, extracted from authentic records, and inserted in the seventh volume of the last and best edition of his friend Thuanus, (P. xi. p. 110—184.) Prudently waiving all invidious inquiry into the origin and merits of the dispute, they proposed, as a healing measure, that the two pretenders of Rome and Avignon should abdicate at the same time, after qualifying the cardinals of the adverse factions to join in a legitimate election; and that the nations should subtract84188418 Of this measure, John Gerson, a stout doctor, was the author of the champion. The proceedings of the university of Paris and the Gallican church were often prompted by his advice, and are copiously displayed in his theological writings, of which Le Clerc (Bibliothèque Choisie, tom. x. p. 1—78) has given a valuable extract. John Gerson acted an important part in the councils of Pisa and Constance. their obedience, if either of the competitor preferred his own interest to that of the public. At each vacancy, these physicians of the church deprecated the mischiefs of a hasty choice; but the policy of the conclave and the ambition of its members were deaf to reason and entreaties; and whatsoever promises were made, the pope could never be bound by the oaths of the cardinal. During fifteen years, the pacific designs of the university were eluded by the arts of the rival pontiffs, the scruples or passions of their adherents, and the vicissitudes of French factions, that ruled the insanity of Charles the Sixth. At length a vigorous resolution was embraced; and a solemn embassy, of the titular patriarch of Alexandria, two archbishops, five bishops, five abbots, three knights, and twenty doctors, was sent to the courts of Avignon and Rome, to require, in the name of the church and king, the abdication of the two pretenders, of Peter de Luna, who styled himself Benedict the Thirteenth, and of Angelo Corrario, who assumed the name of Gregory the Twelfth. For the ancient honor of Rome, and the success of their commission, the ambassadors solicited a conference with the magistrates of the city, whom they gratified by a positive declaration, that the most Christian king did not entertain a wish of transporting the holy see from the Vatican, which he considered as the genuine and proper seat of the successor of St. Peter. In the name of the senate and people, an eloquent Roman asserted their desire to cooperate in the union of the church, deplored the temporal and spiritual calamities of the long schism, and requested the protection of France against the arms of the king of Naples. The answers of Benedict and Gregory were alike edifying and alike deceitful; and, in evading the demand of their abdication, the two rivals were animated by a common spirit. They agreed on the necessity of a previous interview; but the time, the place, and the manner, could never be ascertained by mutual consent. "If the one advances," says a servant of Gregory, "the other retreats; the one appears an animal fearful of the land, the other a creature apprehensive of the water. And thus, for a short remnant of life and power, will these aged priests endanger the peace and salvation of the Christian world."84198419 Leonardus Brunus Aretinus, one of the revivers of classic learning in Italy, who, after serving many years as secretary in the Roman court, retired to the honorable office of chancellor of the republic of Florence, (Fabric. Bibliot. Medii Ævi, tom. i. p. 290.) Lenfant has given the version of this curious epistle, (Concile de Pise, tom. i. p. 192—195.)
The Christian world was at length provoked by their obstinacy and fraud: they were deserted by their cardinals, who embraced each other as friends and colleagues; and their revolt was supported by a numerous assembly of prelates and ambassadors. With equal justice, the council of Pisa deposed the popes of Rome and Avignon; the conclave was unanimous in the choice of Alexander the Fifth, and his vacant seat was soon filled by a similar election of John the Twenty-third, the most profligate of mankind. But instead of extinguishing the schism, the rashness of the French and Italians had given a third pretender to the chair of St. Peter. Such new claims of the synod and conclave were disputed; three kings, of Germany, Hungary, and Naples, adhered to the cause of Gregory the Twelfth; and Benedict the Thirteenth, himself a Spaniard, was acknowledged by the devotion and patriotism of that powerful nation. The rash proceedings of Pisa were corrected by the council of Constance; the emperor Sigismond acted a conspicuous part as the advocate or protector of the Catholic church; and the number and weight of civil and ecclesiastical members might seem to constitute the states-general of Europe. Of the three popes, John the Twenty-third was the first victim: he fled and was brought back a prisoner: the most scandalous charges were suppressed; the vicar of Christ was only accused of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy, and incest; and after subscribing his own condemnation, he expiated in prison the imprudence of trusting his person to a free city beyond the Alps. Gregory the Twelfth, whose obedience was reduced to the narrow precincts of Rimini, descended with more honor from the throne; and his ambassador convened the session, in which he renounced the title and authority of lawful pope. To vanquish the obstinacy of Benedict the Thirteenth or his adherents, the emperor in person undertook a journey from Constance to Perpignan. The kings of Castile, Arragon, Navarre, and Scotland, obtained an equal and honorable treaty; with the concurrence of the Spaniards, Benedict was deposed by the council; but the harmless old man was left in a solitary castle to excommunicate twice each day the rebel kingdoms which had deserted his cause. After thus eradicating the remains of the schism, the synod of Constance proceeded with slow and cautious steps to elect the sovereign of Rome and the head of the church. On this momentous occasion, the college of twenty-three cardinals was fortified with thirty deputies; six of whom were chosen in each of the five great nations of Christendom,—the Italian, the German, the French, the Spanish, and the English:84208420 I cannot overlook this great national cause, which was vigorously maintained by the English ambassadors against those of France. The latter contended, that Christendom was essentially distributed into the four great nations and votes, of Italy, Germany, France, and Spain, and that the lesser kingdoms (such as England, Denmark, Portugal, &c.) were comprehended under one or other of these great divisions. The English asserted, that the British islands, of which they were the head, should be considered as a fifth and coördinate nation, with an equal vote; and every argument of truth or fable was introduced to exalt the dignity of their country. Including England, Scotland, Wales, the four kingdoms of Ireland, and the Orkneys, the British Islands are decorated with eight royal crowns, and discriminated by four or five languages, English, Welsh, Cornish, Scotch, Irish, &c. The greater island from north to south measures 800 miles, or 40 days' journey; and England alone contains 32 counties and 52,000 parish churches, (a bold account!) besides cathedrals, colleges, priories, and hospitals. They celebrate the mission of St. Joseph of Arimathea, the birth of Constantine, and the legatine powers of the two primates, without forgetting the testimony of Bartholomey de Glanville, (A.D. 1360,) who reckons only four Christian kingdoms, 1. of Rome, 2. of Constantinople, 3. of Ireland, which had been transferred to the English monarchs, and 4, of Spain. Our countrymen prevailed in the council, but the victories of Henry V. added much weight to their arguments. The adverse pleadings were found at Constance by Sir Robert Wingfield, ambassador of Henry VIII. to the emperor Maximilian I., and by him printed in 1517 at Louvain. From a Leipsic MS. they are more correctly published in the collection of Von der Hardt, tom. v.; but I have only seen Lenfant's abstract of these acts, (Concile de Constance, tom. ii. p. 447, 453, &c.) the interference of strangers was softened by their generous preference of an Italian and a Roman; and the hereditary, as well as personal, merit of Otho Colonna recommended him to the conclave. Rome accepted with joy and obedience the noblest of her sons; the ecclesiastical state was defended by his powerful family; and the elevation of Martin the Fifth is the æra of the restoration and establishment of the popes in the Vatican.84218421 The histories of the three successive councils, Pisa, Constance, and Basil, have been written with a tolerable degree of candor, industry, and elegance, by a Protestant minister, M. Lenfant, who retired from France to Berlin. They form six volumes in quarto; and as Basil is the worst, so Constance is the best, part of the Collection.
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