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ALEXANDER: The name of eight popes.
Alexander I.: Bishop of Rome in the early years of the second century, successor of Evaristus and predecessor of Xystus I. The statement of the Liber pontificalis (ed. Duchesne, i. xci.-xcii., 54) and the Acta Alexandri (ASB, May, i. 371-375) that he died a martyr, with two companions, Eventius and Theodulus, and was buried on the Via Nomentana, is improbable. The excavations made on the spot designated by the Liber pontificalis have indeed led to the discovery of a fragment of an inscription concerning a martyr Alexander, but he is not called a bishop. The year of Alexander’s consecration is variously given: Eusebius names 103 in his Chronicon, and 108 in his Historia ecclesiastica; the Catalogue Liberianus, 109. The year of his death is given as 114, 116, and 118. Three letters falsely ascribed to him are in the Pseudo-Isidore (ed. Hinschins, Leipsic, 1863, pp. 94-105).
Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, i. xci. sqq., 54, Paris, 1886; Bower, Popes, i. 10; R. A. Lipsius, Die Chronologie der römischen Bischöfe, pp. 167 sqq., Kiel, 1869; B. Jungmann, Dissertationes selectæ in Hist. eccl., i. 134 sqq., Regensburg, 1880; J. Langen, Geschichte der römischen Kirche, Bonn, 1881; Jaffé, Regesta, i. 5.
Alexander II. (Anselm Badagius, sometimes called Anselm of Lucca): Pope Sept. 30, 1061–Apr. 21, 1073. He was born of a noble family at Baggio, near Milan. When the Patarene movement for reform began in 1056 (see Patarenes), he seems to have joined it. The archbishop Guido removed him by sending him on an embassy to the imperial court. Here he won the confidence of Henry III., which gained for him the bishopric of Lucca (1057). He was sent to Milan in 1057 and 1059 as legate in connection with the questions raised by the Pataria. On the death of Nicholas II. (1061), he was elected pope through Hildebrand’s influence. This was in direct contravention of the imperial rights, confirmed by Nicholas II. himself in 1059. The empress Agnes, as regent, convoked an assembly of both spiritual and temporal notables at Basel, and Cadalus of Parma was chosen pope by the German and Lombard bishops. He assumed the title of Honorius II., and had already defeated the adherents of his rival in a bloody battle under the walls of Rome, when Godfrey of Lorraine appeared and summoned both claimants to lay the election before the young king Henry IV. At a synod of German and Italian bishops held at Augsburg in Oct., 1062, Hanno of Cologne, now regent, arranged that his nephew Burchard of Halberstadt should be sent to Rome to examine the case and make a preliminary decision. Burchard decided in favor of Alexander, who returned to Rome in the beginning of 1063, and held a synod at Easter, in which he excommunicated Honorius. The final decision of the contest was to be made at a synod of German and Italian bishops called for Pentecost, 1064, at Mantua. This was in favor of Alexander. See Honorius II., antipope.
Honorius did not abandon his pretensions until his death in 1072, though his power was confined to his diocese of Parma. Even during the contest, Alexander had exercised considerable authority over the Western Church, and after the decision at Mantua he extended his claims in Germany, and put Archbishop Hanno of Cologne to penance for having visited Cadalus on a secular errand. Henry IV. himself was made to feel the papal power. When he desired to effect a divorce from his wife Bertha, Peter Damian threatened him with the severest ecclesiastical penalties at a diet held in Frankfort Oct., 1069. Alexander also came into conflict with Henry over several ecclesiastical appointments, of which the most important was the archbishopric of Milan, and when the king persisted in having his candidate Godfrey consecrated, though the pope had adjudged the latter guilty of simony, the royal counselors were excommunicated as having endeavored to separate their master from the unity of the Church. This was but the beginning of the long struggle which was left to the next pope, Gregory VII.
Alexander dealt in a similarly determined manner with other nations. He supported the Normans, 116both in the north and south of Europe, in their career of conquest, and aided William the Conqueror to consolidate his newly gained power in England by directing his legate to appoint Normans to the episcopal sees of that country; the archbishopric of Canterbury was given to Lanfranc, abbot of Bec, under whom Alexander himself had received his early training. His wide claims of universal jurisdiction were in sharp contrast with his weakness within Rome itself, where the turbulent factions maintained an unceasing struggle against him as long as he lived. His letters and diplomas are in MPL, cxlvi. 1279-1430.
Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, ii. 281, Paris, 1892; Jaffé, Regesta, i. 566-592, ii. 750; Gesta Alexandri II., in Bouquet, Recueil, xiv. 526-531; W. Giesebrecht, Die Kirchenspaltung nach dem Tode Nikolaus II., appended to his Annales Altahenses, Berlin, 1841; Bower, Popes, ii. 370-377; M. Watterich, Romanorum pontificum . . . vitæ, i. 235-236, Leipsic, 1862; C. Will, Benzos Panegyricus auf Heinrich IV. mit . . . Rücksicht auf den Kirchenstreit Alexanders II. und Honorius II., Marburg, 1863; R. Baxmann, Die Politik der Päpste von Gregor I. bis auf Gregor VII., 2 vols., Elberfeld, 1868-69; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, iv. 851-893; B. Jungmann, Dissertationes selectæ in Hist. eccl., iv. 242 sqq., Ratisbon, 1880; J. Langan, Geschichte der römischen Kirche, pp. 532 sqq., Bonn, 1892; Milman, Latin Christianity, iii. 321-353; W. Martens, Die Besetzung des Päpstlichen Stuhles unter den Kaisern Heinrich III. und Heinrich IV., Freiburg, 1886; C. Fetzer, Voruntersuchungen zu einer Geschichte Alexanders II., Strasburg, 1887; Hauck, KD, iii. (1906) 704-753.
Alexander III. (Roland Bandinelli): Pope 1159-81. He was born at Sienna and lectured in canon law at Bologna, leaving a memorial of this part of his career in the Summa Magistri Rolandi, a commentary on the Decretum of Gratian. Eugenius III. brought him to Rome about 1150, and made him a cardinal. In 1153 he became papal chancellor, and during the reign of Adrian IV. was the moving spirit of the antiimperial party among the cardinals, who advocated a close alliance with William of Sicily. His determined opposition to Frederick Barbarossa led to a deep personal enmity on the emperor’s part, which was not appeased when Roland appeared at the Diet of Besançon in 1157 as papal legate, and boldly proclaimed that the emperor held his lordship from the pope. Adrian IV. died Sept. 1, 1159. Six days later all the cardinals but three (some say nine) voted for Roland as his successor, and he was consecrated Sept. 20. The minority chose the imperialist cardinal Octavian, who assumed the title of Victor IV. Frederick, naturally disposed toward his own partizan, called a council at Pavia which, as was to be expected, declared Octavian the lawful pope (Feb. 11, 1160), and two days later proclaimed Alexander an enemy of the empire and a schismatic. Alexander answered from Anagni on Mar. 24 by excommunicating the emperor and absolving his subjects from their allegiance; the antipope had been excommunicated a week after Alexander’s consecration.
Alexander had not the power to carry his hostility further. It is true that in Oct., 1160, at a council at Toulouse, the kings of England and France and the bishops of both countries declared for him; and Spain, Ireland, and Norway followed their lead. But he was unable to maintain a foothold in Italy. By the end of 1161 he was forced to leave Rome, and in the following March fled across the Alps to take refuge in France. The conflict might have come to an end with the death of Victor IV. at Lucca in Apr., 1164, had not Reginald, archbishop of Cologne, the imperial representative in Italy, without either the emperor’s sanction or a regard for canonical forms, set up another antipope, Guido, bishop of Crema, under the title of Paschal III. In the diet held at Würzburg at Pentecost, 1165, Reginald (possessed by the conception of a German national Church independent of every one but the emperor) talked Frederick and the magnates into the irrevocable step of taking an oath never to recognize Alexander III. or any pope chosen from his party, and to support Paschal III. with all their power. But on the whole Alexander’s cause was gaining. In the autumn of 1165 he left France, and by Nov. 23 he was able to reenter Rome. A year later, Frederick crossed the Alps to unseat him, and by the following summer was able to take possession of St. Peter’s and install Paschal there. Alexander fled once more, but Frederick’s triumph was short-lived. The plague robbed him of several thousand soldiers and drove him from Rome; in December the principal Lombard cities formed a league against the oppressive dominion of the empire, and found a protector in Alexander, in whose honor they named the new city of Alessandria; finally the antipope died (Sept. 20, 1168). The Roman partizans of Frederick, without waiting for instructions, set up a new pope in the person of John, cardinal-bishop of Albano, under the name of Calixtus III. But Frederick was weary of the strife, and hardly five months had passed before he was negotiating with Alexander. Nothing resulted, however, and the emperor took up arms once more against the pope and the Lombard League; but the battle of Legnano (May 29, 1176) was so decisively against him that he was obliged to yield on any terms. He began fresh negotiations with Alexander at Anagni in October; and at Venice the disputed matters were discussed also with the cities, as well as with William II. of Sicily and the Eastern emperor, both of whom had joined Frederick’s opponents. Peace was made Aug. 1, 1177, the emperor acknowledging Alexander’s title and abandoning Calixtus, who was to receive an abbey in compensation. Both sides agreed to restore whatever possessions they had taken from each other.
A still greater triumph was won by Alexander over Henry II. of England. From 1163 onward the English king was involved in a more and more acute contest with Rome, growing out of his difficulties with Thomas Becket. He demanded the deposition of the archbishop, and, on the pope’s refusal, opened negotiations with Frederick, and was represented at the Diet of Würzburg, with a view to supporting Reginald of Cologne’s far-reaching plans. But threats of excommunication and interdict brought him back to an apparently peaceful attitude. The murder of Becket (Dec. 29, 1170) brought things to a crisis. The king was forced to do humiliating penance at Becket’s tomb and 117 to submit wholly to the papal demands. The culminating point of Alexander’s success was marked by the Third Lateran Council (Mar., 1179). Besides approving the crusade against the Cathari of southern France, which had been inaugurated by Raymond of Toulouse with the support of Louis VII., the pope’s friend and protector, the 300 bishops of this brilliant assembly passed an important canon regulating papal elections, which confined the electoral power to the cardinals, excluding the lower clergy and the laity and making no mention of imperial confirmation, and required a two-thirds vote to elect.
In spite of his apparently complete triumph over his enemies, Alexander never really conquered the Roman people. Soon after the close of the council they drove him once more into exile; and a month after Calixtus III. had formally renounced his pretensions, a new antipope was set up, who took the name of Innocent III. Alexander succeeded in vanquishing this rival, but never returned to Rome, and died at Civita Castellana Aug. 30, 1181, his corpse being followed to its sepulcher in the Lateran by cries of implacable hostility from the populace. His letters are in MPL, cc.; his Summa was edited by F. Thaner (Innsbruck, 1874), and his Sententiæ by A. M. Gietl (Freiburg, 1891).
Bibliography: Liber pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, ii. 397-446, Paris, 1892; Gesta Alexandri III., in Bouquet, Recueil, xv. 744-977; Jaffé, Regesta, ii. 145 sqq., 761; M. Watterich, Romanorum pontificum . . . vitæ, ii. 377-451, Leipsic, 1862; K. L. Ring, Friedrich I. im Kampf gegen Alexander III., Stuttgart, 1838; Bower, Popes, ii. 502; H. Reuter, Geschichte Alexanders III. und der Kirche seiner Zeit, 3 vols., 2d ed., Leipsic, 1860-64; P. Scheffer-Boichorst, Kaiser Friedrichs I. letzter Streit mit der Kurie, Berlin, 1866; J. Langen, Geschichte der römischen Kirche, pp. 439 sqq., Bonn, 1893; Milman, Latin Christianity, iv. 288-438; G. Wolfram, Friedrich I. und das Wormser Concordat, Marburg, 1883; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, v. 571-722; J. R. Green, History of the English People, vol. i., London, 1888-92; A. M. Gietl, Die Sentenzen Rolands, nachmals Papstes Alexander III., Freiburg, 1891; Hauck, KD, iv. 227-302.
Alexander IV. (Rinaldo de Conti): Pope 1254-61. He was made a cardinal-deacon in 1227 by his uncle, Gregory IX., and in 1231 cardinal-bishop of Ostia. As a cardinal, he does not seem to have been strongly anti-imperialistic, and Frederick II. is found in 1233 and 1242 writing in a tone of friendship to him. On the death of Innocent IV. (Dec.13, 1254), Alexander was elected to succeed him, and at once began to follow the policy of his predecessors. Conrad IV., on his death-bed, had commended to the guardianship of the Church his two-year-old son Conradin, heir to the duchy of Swabia and the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Sicily. Alexander accepted the charge with the most benevolent promises, but less than two weeks later he demanded that the Swabian nobles should desert Conradin for Alfonso of Castile. On Mar. 25, 1255, he excommunicated Manfred, Conradin’s uncle, who had undertaken to defend the kingdom of Sicily in the child’s name, and on Apr. 9 he concluded an alliance with Henry III. of England, on whose son Edmund he bestowed Sicily and Apulia, to be held as papal fiefs. When some of the German princes talked in 1254 of setting up Ottocar of Bohemia as a claimant of the throne in opposition to William of Holland, the papal protégé, he forbade them to take any steps for the election of a king in William’s lifetime; and when William died, he forbade the archbishops of Cologne, Treves, and Mainz to place Conradin on the throne of his father. In the contest for the crown which now arose between Alfonso X. of Castile and Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III. of England, the pope, whose support was asked by both, took the side of the latter, promising him (Apr. 30, 1259) not merely the support of his legates in Germany, but holding out hopes of the imperial crown. In this he was influenced by the English king’s money, which was necessary to him in his contest against Manfred. In Aug., 1258, on a rumor of the death of Conradin, Manfred himself assumed the crown of Sicily, and was recognized in northern and central Italy as the head of the Ghibelline party. After the decisive victory of Montaperto had put Florence, the Guelph bulwark, in Manfred’s power, Alexander excommunicated every one who should help him in any way, and laid all his dominions under an interdict (Nov. 18, 1260). This was all he could do, since an appeal to the kings of England and Norway to undertake a crusade against Manfred, and a demand for a tenth of the income of the French clergy for the same purpose had both proved unsuccessful.
Alexander had better luck against the notorious Ezzelino da Romano, son-in-law of Frederick II. and leader of the Ghibellines in northern Italy. An army raised by the pope for a crusade against this monster had accomplished little, but finally in 1259 he succumbed to a combination of princes and cities. In Rome, however, the party of Manfred was gaining strength, and in 1261 he was elected to the highest office in the gift of the people, that of senator. How terribly Italy suffered from the demoralization which followed this relentless warfare is evident from the spread of the Flagellants (See Flagellation, Flagellants), whose fanatical processions took place even in Rome (1260). A council was called to meet at Viterbo for the purpose of setting on foot a crusade against the Tatars, but before it convened Alexander died in that city (May 25, 1261).
Bibliography: Bouret de la Roncière, Les Registres d’Alexandre IV., parts 1-4, Paris, 1895 sqq.; MGH, Epist. sæculi xiii., iii. (1894) 314-473, 729-730, and Leg, iv., 1896; W. H. Bliss, Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland, Papal Letters, i. 309-376, London, 1893; A. Potthast, Regesta, ii. 1286 sqq., Berlin, 1875; C. J. de Cherner, Histoire de la lutte des papeset des empereurs de la maison de Souabe, Paris, 1858; O. Posse, Analecta vaticana, 1 sqq., 120 sqq., Innsbruck, 1878; G. Digard, La Série des registres pontificaux du treizième siècle, Paris, 1886; E. Engelmann, Der Anspruch der Päpste auf Confirmation und Approbation, 1077-1379, pp. 53 sqq., Breslau, 1886; Bower, Popes, ii. 567-571.
Alexander V. (Peter Philargi): Pope 1409-10. He was an orphan boy from Crete, brought up by the Minorites, which order he afterward entered. After traveling in Italy, England, and France, he acquired a name as a teacher of rhetoric in the University of Paris. Later he held a dignified position at the court of Ginn Galeazzo Visconti in Milan, of which see he became archbishop in 118 1402. Innocent VII. made him a cardinal. In 1408 he was one of those who deserted Gregory XII. with a view to compelling an end of the schism, and in the same year he had invited the pope to the Council of Pisa as a representative of the cardinals. After both Gregory XII. and Benedict XIII. had been deposed, he was unanimously elected pope by the influence of cardinal Balthasar Cossa (July 26, 1409). Like all the other cardinals present, he had signed an agreement that, if he should be elected pope, he would continue the council until the Church had received a thorough reformation in head and members; but, once crowned as pope, he dismissed the members to their dioceses, there to take counsel on the points which needed reform.
The schism was not ended by his election; Benedict XIII. was still recognized by Spain, Portugal, and Scotland; Gregory XII., by Naples, Hungary, the king of the Romans, and some other German princes. The greater part of Germany; with England and France, declared for the choice of the council, as well as the reforming leaders Gerson and Pierre d’Ailly. Alexander was more concerned with the recovery of the States of the Church than with reform. Rome and Umbria were in the possession of Ladislaus of Naples, the protector of Gregory XII. Alexander excommunicated him, declared his crown forfeit, and transferred it to Louis II. of Anjou, who, with Cardinal Cossa, commanded the force sent against Rome. Though this expedition was unsuccessful, Alexander’s adherents succeeded in the last few days of 1409 in getting the upper hand in the city. Alexander, however, did not return, but remained in Bologna, a pliant instrument in the hands of his Franciscan brethren and Balthasar Cossa. The friars induced him to issue a bull (Oct. 12, 1409), which confirmed all the extensive privileges of the mendicant orders in the confessional and practically crippled the jurisdiction of the parish priests. When he indicated his intention of extending this ruling to France, the University of Paris, with Gerson at its head, threatened to retaliate by excluding the friars from the platform and pulpit. Alexander died before this ultimatum reached Rome (May 3, 1410). By modern Roman Catholic historians, as the creation of the illegitimate council of Pisa, he is not considered strictly a lawful pope, though included in their lists.
Bibliography: Vita, in L. A. Muratori, Rer. Ital. script., iii. 2, p. 842, Milan; Bower, Popes, iii. 167-171; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vi. 1033; Creighton, Papacy, i. 257-265 (the best); Pastor, Popes, i. 190-191 (from the Roman Catholic side).
Alexander VI. (Rodrigo Lanzol): Pope 1492-1503. He was born at Xativa, near Valencia, in 1430 or 1431 and was adopted by his uncle, Calixtus III., into the Borgia family and endowed with rich ecclesiastical benefices. In 1455 he became apostolic notary; in 1456, a cardinal-deacon; and in 1457, vice-chancellor of the Roman curia. He held also the bishoprics of Valencia, Porto, and Cartagena. These positions brought in vast wealth, which he spent in ostentatious luxury and riotous living. A glimpse of his life at this period is afforded by a letter of Pius II. (June 11, 1460), reproaching him for his participation in an indescribable orgy at Sienna, and rebuking him for having no thought but pleasure. At least seven—possibly nine—children were born to him as cardinal, four of whom, Giovanni, Cesare, Gioffrè, and Lucrezia, the offspring of his favorite mistress Vanozza Catanei, were the objects of his special love. On the death of Innocent VIII. he reached the height of his ambition by his election to the papacy (Aug. 11, 1492), won, it was generally believed, by simony and other corrupt practises.
Alexander was unquestionably a man of great gifts, able, eloquent, versatile, strong in mind as in body; but all these gifts were defiled by the immorality of his life, which was in no respect different as pope from what it had been as cardinal. So much may be safely said, even if certain specific accusations made by his contemporaries, such as that of incest with his daughter Lucrezia, are shown to be calumnies. The remonstrances of secular powers like Spain and Portugal against the immorality of the papal court were as vain as the denunciations of Savonarola. The former were put off with promises; the latter’s mouth was stopped by excommunication (May 12, 1497), when he was endeavoring to arouse all Italy against the papacy.
Alexander’s main aim, outside of the gratification of his passions, was the elevation of his children to power and wealth. While still a cardinal, he had obtained the Spanish duchy of Gandia for his eldest son, Pedro Luis, who was succeeded, on his early death, by Giovanni. Alexander invested the latter with the duchy of Benevento, together with Terracina and Preticorvo; but a few days later (June 14, 1497) he was mysteriously murdered. For a moment the pope was shocked into penitence, and talked of a reform of his court and even of abdication, but no lasting change resulted. The making of a brilliant match for Lucrezia was long an important factor in his policy. The first connection attempted was with the Sforza family. Lodovico il Moro, governor of Milan for his nephew Giangaleazzo, desired the sovereignty for himself, but was hindered by the grandfather of Giangaleazzo’s wife, Ferdinand of Naples. To get the better of him, Lodovico planned a league into which the Pope should be drawn by a marriage between Lucrezia and Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro. The league was founded April 25, 1493, and included, besides Lodovico and Alexander, Venice, Sienna, Ferrara, and Mantua. Ferdinand, however, succeeded in detaching the pope from this alliance, probably through the influence of Spain, and married the natural daughter of his son Alfonso to Gioffre, Alexander’s fourth son. The alliance with Naples, however, brought the pope into difficulties. Lodovico, deserted, summoned Charles VIII. of France to take the crown of Naples for himself and try a simoniacal pope at the bar of a general council. Charles descended into Italy in autumn, 1494, and on the last day of the year, Alexander being unable to oppose him, made a magnificent public entry into Rome. The pope agreed to allow his army free passage toward Naples, and to reinstate the cardinals of the opposition faction. In return Charles paid him all the outward signs of homage, 119 and continued his journey toward Naples, where he was able to be crowned on May 12, Alfonso II. having fled. Alexander, however, joined the league founded at Venice (March 31) to drive him out of Italy and to support the house of Aragon in reconquering Naples. In return Alexander asked the hand of Carlotta, Princess of Naples, for his son Cesare, whom he had made archbishop of Valencia immediately after his own elevation and cardinal a year later. It was necessary to divorce Lucrezia from her husband Giovanni Sforza and marry her to a natural son of Alfonso II., the Duke of Bisceglia, which was accomplished in 1498. Cesare’s marriage fell through, however; and, after resigning as cardinal, he married Charlotte d’Albret, sister of the King of Navarre, being made Duke of Valentinois by Louis XII., who received in return permission to divorce his wife.
Cesare went on with designs for an extensive temporal lordship by fair means and foul. The ruling families of the Romagna having been expelled or assassinated, Alexander gave him the title of Duke of Romagna in 1501. The hatred of father and son for the house of Aragon went further. Lucrezia’s second husband was murdered by Cesare’s orders in 1500; and a year later Alexander joined the league of Louis XII. and Ferdinand of Spain for the division of the kingdom of Naples between them. The years 1502 and 1503 mark the height of this dominion founded on blood. Alexander was already thinking of asking the emperor for Pisa, Sienna, and Lucca for his son and making him king of Romagna and the Marches, when death cut short his plans, through an attack of malarial fever (Aug. 18, 1503).
Of what his contemporaries thought Alexander capable may be seen from the story, long believed, that he was the victim of poison prepared by his orders for one of the cardinals whose estates he coveted. In recent years Alexander has been regarded by some as an unselfish pioneer of the unification of Italy, and attempts have even been made to represent him as a true follower of Christ; but his unworthiness is generally admitted, even by Roman Catholic writers.
Bibliography: Creighton, Papacy, iv. 183–end, v. 1-57 (very full, valuable appendices of documents); Pastor, Popes, v. 375-523, vi. 1-180 (the Romanist side, with appendices of documents); A. Gordon, The Lives of Pope Alexander VI. and . . . Cæsar Borgia, 2 vols., London, 1729 (has appendix of documents); Bower, Popes, iii. 259-277; J. Fave, Études critiques sur l’histoire d’Alexandre VI., St. Brienc, 1859; M. J. H. Ollivier, Le Pape Alexandre VI., Paris, 1870; F. Gregorovius, Lucrezia Borgia, 2 vols., Stuttgart, 1875, Eng. transl., London, 1904; Kaiser, Der vielverlsumdete Alexander VI., Ratisbon, 1877; V. Nemec, Papst Alexander VI., Klagenfurt, 1879; J. Burchard, Diarium sive rerum urbanarum commentarii, 3 vols., Paris, 1883-85 (consult Index); Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, viii. 300; C. G. Robertson, Cæsar Borgia, London, 1891; Ranke, Popes, i. 35-36; F. Corvo, Chronicles of the House of Borgia, New York, 1901. On Lucrezia Borgia consult F. Gregorovius, Lucretia Borgia, ib. 1903.
Alexander VII. (Fabio Chigi): Pope 1655-67. He was nuncio in Cologne from 1639 to 1651, and took part in the negotiations which led up to the peace of Westphalia, but declared that he would enter into no communications with heretics, and protested against the validity of the treaties of Münster and Osnabrück. Innocent X. took a similar view, and on his return from Germany he made Chigi cardinal and finally secretary of state. It was due to the influence of Chigi that Innocent condemned the famous five propositions alleged to have been extracted from the Augustinus of Jansen. Innocent died Jan. 7, 1655, and a strong party in the conclave favored Chigi as one who would be likely to be free from the reproach of nepotism; but, though Spain supported him, the opposition of France (Mazarin had been for years his personal enemy) delayed the election until Apr. 7.
Alexander VII. had the satisfaction of seeing the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, Christina of Sweden, enter the Church, though her prolonged residence in Rome became a burden to him later. He was a consistent supporter of the Jesuits, whom he succeeded in restoring to Venice, from which city they had been excluded since the conflict with Paul V. He took their side wholly in the struggle with the Jansenists (see Jansen, Cornelius, Jansenism). He became embroiled with Louis XIV., first through the refusal of the French ambassador in Rome, the Duke of Créqui, to pay certain conventional civilities to the relatives of the pope, and then through an attack on the ambassador’s servants and palace made by the Corsican guards of the pope. Louis was already displeased with Alexander for his consistent support of Cardinal de Retz against Mazarin, and for his retention, in spite of Louis’s intercession in their behalf, of certain possessions to which the Farnese and Este families laid claim. In such a mood he took up the Corsican affair hotly, and wrote to Alexander of a breach of the law of nations, a crime whose parallel could hardly be found among barbarians. The papal nuncio was obliged to leave Paris, and French troops occupied Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin and threatened to invade the Italian states of the Church. Alexander, unable to find any allies, saw himself compelled to accede to the most humiliating demands of France in the treaty of Pisa (1664). He was obliged not only, by a special mission of two cardinals to Paris, to beg the king’s pardon, but also that of the Duke de Créqui, and to erect a pyramid in a public place in Rome, with an inscription declaring the Corsicans incapable of serving the Holy See.
Since Alexander, like his predecessor, was closely allied with Spain, he was obliged to carry Innocent’s policy still further when a struggle with Portugal arose. Innocent had refused to recognize Portugal as an independent monarchy when in 1640 it broke away from Spain under the house of Braganza; and had declined to confirm the bishops nominated by King John IV. Alexander took the same course in regard to the bishops; the king accordingly allowed the bishoprics to remain vacant, and divided their estates and revenues among his courtiers, even thinking at one time of the extreme measure of an absolute breach with Rome and the establishment of a national Church, whose bishops should need confirmation from no one but the metropolitan. The conflict was finally settled by Clement IX. in 1669.120
Much as he had had to do with affairs of state before his elevation to the papacy, Alexander found them wearisome, and left their administration as much as possible to the congregation of cardinals entrusted with their consideration. He was a cultured friend of literature and philosophy, and took much pleasure in his intercourse with learned men, among whom Pallavicini, the historian of the Council of Trent, was conspicuous. He tried his own hand at literature; a collection of his verses, under the title Philometi labores juveniles appeared in Paris in 1656. He died May 22, 1667.
Bibliography: Ranke, Popes, ii. 33 sqq.; J. Bargrave, Pope Alexander VIII. and the College of Cardinals, in Publications of the Camden Society, xcii., London, 1867; R. Chautelause, Le Cardinal de Retz et ses missions diplomatiques à Rome, Paris, 1879; A. Gézier, Les Dernières Années du Cardinal de Retz, Paris, 1879; A. Reumont, Fabio Chigi in Deutschland, Aachen, 1885; Gérin, L’Ambassade de Crequy à Rome et le traité de Pise, 1662-1664, in Revue des questions historiques, xxviii. (1893) 570; Bower, Popes, iii. 331-332.
Alexander VIII. (Pietro Ottoboni): Pope 1689-91. He came of a Venetian family, was made cardinal by Innocent X., and, later, Bishop of Brescia and datarius apostolicus. When Innocent XI. died (Aug. 11, 1689), much depended on the choice of his successor, both for Louis XIV. and for the League of Augsburg, formed to oppose him. His ambassador, the Duke de Chaulnes, succeeded on Oct. 6 in accomplishing the election of Cardinal Ottoboni. Louis, whom the coalition had placed in a critical situation, believed that he would find the new pope more complaisant in some disputed points than his predecessor had been. He attempted to conciliate the curia by restoring Avignon, and abandoned the right of extraterritorial immunity which he had so stubbornly claimed for the palace of his ambassador in Rome. Alexander showed a friendly spirit, and made the Bishop of Beauvais a cardinal. The coalition urged the pope neither directly nor indirectly to approve the four articles of the “Gallican liberties” of 1682, on which the strife had turned between the king and the clergy of his party, on one side, and Rome, on the other. Alexander might have been willing to confirm the bishops whom Louis had nominated in return for their part in bringing about this declaration, if they would avail themselves of the pretext that they defended the articles only in their private capacity. Louis rejected this accommodation, and the pope condemned the declaration and dispensed the clergy from the oath they had taken to uphold it.
Alexander made his name memorable in Rome by many benefits to the city, and showed his love for learning by the purchase for the Vatican library of the rich collection of Christina of Sweden. He is reproached, however, for yielding completely to the inroads of nepotism, which his predecessors had driven out. He died Feb. 1, 1691.
Bibliography: Gérin Pape Alexandre VIII. et Louis XIV. d’après documents inédits, Paris, 1878; Petrucelli della Gattina, Histoire diplomatique des conclaves, iii. 213, Paris, 1865; A. Reumont, Geschichte der Stadt Rom, iii. 2, 639, Berlin, 1870; Bower, Popes, iii. 334-335; Ranke, Popes, ii. 424. iii. 461.
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