« PreviousContinue »
must be richer now than it was. Europe was now again divided by the rivalry of France and the Austrian-Spanish house. England, distracted by civil wars, had lost all European influence. On one side were arranged the Emperor at the head of his triumphant armies and the King of Spain. On the other, France, some of the Catholic princes of Germany, the Protestants, with the King of Sweden at their head, and the Pope -So formidable was the league, that the Emperor was obliged to surrender, at the Diet of Ratisbon, all his advantages in Italy, and to abandon Wallenstein to his foreign enemies. By the disgrace of Wallenstein he dissolved his army.
Yet Urban obstinately persisted in closing his eyes to the fact, which the rapid and brilliant successes of Gustavus Adolphus made daily more manifest, that the Thirty Years' War was a war of religion. The Emperor vainly pressed him to assist, by espousing his cause, the falling fortunes of Catholicism, and implored subsidies from the Papal treasury against the common enemy. • The King of Sweden,' said Ferdinand's ambassador, “if the Emperor is supported, may easily be conquered, he has but 30,000 men. With 30,000 men,' said the Pope, Alexander conquered the world. It was not till the victorious Swede, having overrun the Palatinate, occupied Bavaria, and actually approached the Alps, that the Pope awoke from his dream of security.
The Thirty Years' War was, as it were, the last general effort of the two conflicting systems. The Peace of Westphalia not merely silenced the strife of arms, but, at least in Germany, the strife of religion. Each party was content to rest upon its present possessions. In both the aggressive power was worn out. The strong impulse of Protestantism had long subsided, that of Roman Catholic re-action expired in the same manner. The torpor of death seemed to have succeeded to these last, these most violent and exhausting convulsions.
But from the instant that Romish re-action ceased, the Pope sunk into the respected, but neither feared nor courted, primate
of his own Church, and an Italian prince of moderate dominions. The only considerable encroachment on the interests of Protestantism was the revocation of the edicts of Nantes and the persecution of the Protestants. But this, though its primary motive was the bigotry of a mistress working on the enfeebled mind of an aged king, was after all an act of political despotism rather than of genuine religious zeal. effected altogether by force; the missionaries would have done little without the dragoons. It was neither sanctioned nor applauded by the general voice of Catholic Europe. Not only was the Pope in no respect the prime mover in these affairs, but he expressed, to his honour, his public disapprobation of these unchristian modes of conversion by the sword. But his remonstrances were unheard or unnoticed; and he must have looked on equally without power of interference, if that capricious tyranny had taken another course.
The Papal annals now become barren of great events: they had nothing to call forth great minds, if great minds there were in the long line of pontiffs from the middle of the seventeenth century to the present age. The election to the Papacy became an affair of comparative apathy; instead of being watched in anxious suspense by wondering Europe, it created some stir in the city, and some activity among the diplomatic agents of the different courts, and that was all. The fortunate candidate was announced, but whether it was an Innocent or a Clement, a Pius or a Gregory, created little interest. The temporal power was in the ascendant; the spiritual in the wane. The personal character therefore was less developed, or if developed, its influence was confined within the narrow sphere of his temporal dominions. Mr. Ranke seems conscious that the interest of his story is dying away, and conducts the several pontiffs across the scene with rapid indifference. The chapters which relate to the finances of the Papal dominions are however very curious. The late Popes had succeeded in adding Urbino and Ferrara to their dominions, Urban made a desperate attempt to dispossess the Farneses of Parma. His death is said to have
been hastened by his disappointment; instead of leaving an accession of territory, he left an enormous increase of debt.
Modern Rome is another striking illustration of the bad policy and, unhappily, of the fatal financial system, adopted by all the later Popes of the seventeenth century, and pursued till the Romagna has gradually become what it is—a vast wilderness, a comparatively dispeopled waste.
The vestige of splendour which each Pope has left is the palace of his descendants; and to enrich these descendants there were resources but the taxation of the country, the accumulation of the debt, or the alienation of the domains of the see. The memory of the four last Popes whose lives we have briefly related, the Aldobrandini, the Ludovisi, the Borghese, the Barberini, lives, or did recently live, in the noble family which each created and endowed. The next Pope, Innocent X., was a Panfili. Excepting that a new influence, that of female relations, rose up and distracted the Papal court, Innocent was an active, just, and influential pontiff. He inclined strongly to the Spanish interest, and by renewing a friendly intercourse with the Italian powers, who had been alienated by Urban VIII., he did not, indeed, reduce the Farneses to subjection, but he forced them to submit to the claims of justice. Alexander VII. (Chigi) succeeded in 1655. Chigi at first showed an unprecedented and “heroic' resistance to the claims of kindred. But the unanswerable arguments which were urged in favour of the good old practice of nepotism--the indecency of permitting the Pope's relations to remain the simple citizens, perhaps of some insignificant town -- the greater confidence entertained by foreign powers if the missions should be filled by the Pope's relations—overcame his narrow scruples ; he yielded, and surrendered himself with the zeal of a proselyte to the venerable usage. It was this Pope, if we remember right, the smallness of whose mind Cardinal de Retz inferred from his boasting that he had written almost all his life with only one pen! Cardinal Bernini came to the same conclusion, because, when a fine statue was shown him, he seemed to
observe nothing but the border at the bottom of the robe. Such remarks,' says the shrewd De Retz, 'may appear trifling, but they are conclusive.' Mr. Ranke, we observe in passing, does not seem to have availed himself much of the clever French cardinal's account of his share in the intrigues of the Roman court. Under Alexander the management of affairs fell into the hands of the Congregation of State, which gradually became the ruling power.
The next Pope was Clement IX., Rospigliosi, and his successor Clement X., Altieri. The first less openly, the second avowedly, espoused the Spanish interests. Innocent XI. (Odescalchi) was a man of higher character-the mildest of men : he was accustomed to request the attendance of his servants if they were not otherwise engaged. His confessor declared that he had never discovered anything in the soul of Innocent which could estrange him from God. With all this gentleness, Innocent undertook the papal function with the most pure and conscientious determination to discharge the duties of that supreme dignity. He turned his attention to the appalling disorder of the finances. The successive Popes had gone on gradually increasing the capital of the debt, which even at the end of the reign of Urban VIII. had grown to an overwhelming magnitude. At length the dataria, the revenue from foreign countries, hitherto religiously reserved for the expenses of the Pope and his court, was burthened with Luoghi di Monte. Still, however, the price of Papal funds was high, and Alexander VII. obtained temporary relief by lowering the whole debt, first the unfunded, then the funded, from 101 to 6 per cent.: it seems subsequently to have been reduced to four, and Innocent XI. entertained the design of bringing it down to three. But on the accession of Innocent, the Papal expenditure amounted to 2,578,106 sc. 91 baj.--the income, including the dataria, only to 2,408,500. 71.— leaving an annual deficiency of 170,000 scudi, and threatening almost immediate bankruptcy. By prudent and rigid economy, by abstaining from nepotism, by the suppression of useless places, and the general investiga
tion of abuses, Innocent brought the expenditure within the income.
The firmness of Innocent was severely tried in his conflict with Louis XIV. We have no space to enter into the detail of the encroachments which Louis, in the overbearing consciousness of power, ventured against the See of Rome. Innocent resisted with decision and dignity. He received at his court with signal favour two Jansenist bishops who had been disgraced on account of their resistance to the ecclesiastical measures of Louis. He addressed three several admonitions to the king. When Louis, in the assembly of 1682, caused the four famous articles declaratory of the independence of the Gallican Church, and almost amounting to the total abrogation of the Papal authority, to be passed by the clergy of his kingdom, Innocent declared that he would endure every extremity rather than yield; "he gloried only in the cross of Christ. He resolutely refused the canonical institution of all those whom Louis, for their service in that assembly, hastened to promote to bishoprics. When the French ambassador, to defend the privilege of asylum which he claimed in Rome, not merely for the precincts of his own palace but for the neighbouring streets, rode through Rome with a bodyguard of two troops of horse; and thus armed, defied the Pope in his own capital — Thou comest,' said Innocent, 'with horse and chariot, but I will go forth in the name of the Lord. The Pope's disapprobation of the persecutions against the Protestants at this time, when he was committed with Louis on other points, and might have been tempted to win the favour of the king by recognizing him as the champion of Catholicism, is a still higher testimony to his noble courage. He has been suspected at least of secret connivance at these barbarous proceedings. Mr. Ranke entirely acquits him of this charge, and declares that he couched his protestation in the remarkable words, — “It is right to draw men into the temple, not to drag them by force. Innocent died before the termination of these disputes. The short papacy of Alexander VIII. and that of Innocent XII. (Pignatelli) occupy the few