POPE PIUS II, A.D.1458-1464
1. ELECTION OF PIUS II. A.D.1458 .-2. THE EASTERN QUESTION AND THE CONGRESS OF MANTUA. -3. THE CONTEST FOR THE NEAPOLITAN THRONE. 4. OPPOSITION TO PAPAL AUTHORITY .-5. ATTEMPTED RECONCILIATION OF BOHEMIA WITH THE CHURCH. -6. THE EASTERN QUESTION, 1460-1463. -7. PLANS OF REFORM .-8. THE CRUSADE AND DEATH OF PIUS II. A.D. 1464.
UNDER Nicholas V, the founder of the Vatican Library, that great movement in the history of culture, which we call the Renaissance, had fairly taken root in Rome. The capital of Christendom, now become the centre of learning and art, was flooded with the light of the new dawn.
Then came the fall of Constantinople; a shock, of which the reverberations have not yet died away. It soon became only too clear that this victory of the Turks had dealt a grievous blow to all the Western Nations. “The Turkish power in all the fierce strength of its eager youth took the place of the worn-out Eastern Empire, and challenged the whole of Europe. It seemed for a time as if the Cross must succumb in the battle”. A ruder and more anxious task than the peaceful labours of Nicholas V in the cause of Literature and Art was allotted to his successor. Calixtus III rightly judged that the main object of his life must be to save Christendom and Western culture from being overwhelmed by the flood of Turkish invasion. But in spite of the heroic efforts of the Spanish Pope, who pledged his mitre and his plate in order to raise money enough to equip a fleet, nothing worthy of the cause was accomplished. Not a single Prince or nation came forward to redeem their promises. The fire and enthusiasm which in former days had moved all Europe to fly as one man to the rescue of the Holy Places, now burnt itself out in internal dissensions and jealousies. Not a hand was lifted to check the rapid advance of the Ottoman arms.
One disaster followed another in the East all through the summer of 1458. The Morea and Attica were overrun and devastated by the Mahometan troops. In June, Athens fell; in August, Corinth. The subjugation of Serbia was begun in the same month.
On the very day on which the key of the Peloponnesus was lost to Christendom, the aged Calixtus, wearied and disappointed, at last sank to rest.
The question who should be the next .occupant of the Papal throne was now of deeper importance than ever. In addition to the defence of Europe, an even more difficult and dangerous task than this was awaiting him, namely, the internal reform of the Church.
No one appeared more adapted for the solution of this problem than the noble and gifted Cardinal Capranica. His death, from a violent attack of fever, just before the Conclave opened (August 14), was a heavy blow to the Church, for his election was almost a certainty. Rome was plunged in grief. A contemporary writes of him: “He was the most accomplished, the most learned, and the holiest Prelate that the Church possessed in our days”. A completely new situation was created, upsetting all previous calculations.
ELECTION OF PIUS II
The excitement periodically caused in Rome by every vacancy of the Holy See reached an unwonted height in the August of 1458. The confusion was aggravated both there and in the States of the Church by the general movement against the hated Spaniards and Neapolitans, “The Catalans”, as they were called, and by the action of Jacopo Piccinino, who had seized Assisi, Nocera, and Gualdo, and was now encamped near Foligno. It was believed that a secret understanding existed between this “landless Count” and the King of Naples, and that the latter sought by his means to prevent the election of a French Pope!
The great question which for the time took precedence of all others, was whether an Italian or a Frenchman should occupy the Chair of St. Peter.
Of the eighteen Cardinals who assembled in Conclave on the 16th August, eight were Italians, five Spaniards, two very influential Frenchmen, one a Portuguese, and two Greeks. The foreigners accordingly outnumbered the Italians, but they did not constitute the majority of two-thirds requisite for an election.
The prospect of an increased preponderance of French influence in the Peninsula caused great anxiety to the Italian Powers, especially to the Genoese, the King of Naples, and the Duke of Milan. The latter Prince seemed almost haunted by his dread of France. We cannot therefore wonder if on the death of Calixtus the whole weight of his influence was exerted to promote the election of an Italian Pope. Cardinal Capranica was the candidate of his choice. In the instructions sent in cipher on the 2nd August, 1458, to Otto de Carretto, he desires him to use every effort in his power on behalf of this excellent man. Should it be impossible to ensure his election, he must endeavour to obtain that of Cardinal Prospero Colonna. Failing this, he is to be guided entirely by the advice of Capranica. Death silenced the voice of this counsellor on the 14th August; there was no time to receive further instructions, and Carretto was compelled to act on his own judgment. He naturally turned to Cardinal Piccolomini, who was friendly to the Duke, and “while Bishop of Siena had laboured to obtain for him the imperial investiture, and the recognition of his legitimacy”. In a dispatch of that eventful 14th August, the Envoy expresses his hope of being able, even under these altered circumstances, to bring matters to a sufficiently satisfactory conclusion. “I am”, he adds, “not without hope for Cardinal Colonna, but it would be easier to carry the election of the Cardinal of Siena, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini; he is liked by all parties, and the Ambassadors of the King of Naples favour him”. On the following day, the Neapolitan, Galeotto Agnensis, wrote to inform Francesco Sforza that he had succeeded in bringing about a matrimonial alliance between the houses of Colonna and Orsini, which had almost always been at variance, and that he was now endeavouring to gain the votes assured to Cardinal Capranica for the Cardinal of Siena, whose elevation would be welcome alike to the Duke and to the King of Naples. “Thank God”, continues Galetto, “Cardinal Orsini has consented, and I have a good hope of success”.
The learned Torquemada and the popular Calandrini were also spoken of by many as candidates for the supreme dignity. Piccolomini had, however, far more formidable rivals in Pietro Barbo, and the wealthy and distinguished Guillaume d'Estouteville, the head of the French party.
The Conclave was held in the Apostolic Palace at St. Peter’s. Cells, in which the Cardinals were to eat and to sleep, were prepared in the largest hall; a smaller hall bearing the name of St. Nicholas was to serve for the deliberations and for the actual business of the election. The fact that the Envoys sent to the Sacred College by Ferrante, during the last illness of Calixtus III, were admitted as Royal Ambassadors to watch the Conclave, was much noticed.
The customary Sermon addressed to the Cardinals before their entry into Conclave was delivered by the Humanist Domenico de Domenichi, Bishop of Torcello. He began with the words from the Acts of the Apostles, I, 24: “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show whether of these two Thou hast chosen to take the place of this ministry and apostleship”. After pronouncing a eulogy on the deceased Pontiff, Domenichi exhorted the electors to lay aside all ambition, intrigue, and contention. The prevalence of the first of these vices was denounced with special severity. “How many”, he said, “would in better days have been contented with a small preferment, who now aspire to the highest dignities”. After citing several examples from classical antiquity he continued : “Those who wish to be counted as Romans, should take for their models men like Decius, Brutus, Cato, Gracchus, and Regulus, whose glorious deeds, to use the words of St. Jerome, shine like stars in Roman history”.
The orator dwelt on the special importance of this election in regard to the badness of the times. “The secular Princes”, he exclaimed, “wrangle with each other, and turn against their own flesh the weapons which ought to be directed against the Turks. There has been no peacemaker. The morals of the clergy are corrupt, they have become a scandal to the laity, all order is at an end. Day by day the authority of the Church diminishes, her censures are unheeded, there has been no one to enforce them. The Roman Court is full of abuses. Who has made any attempt to reform it?”
Domenichi also deals with the Turkish question. He specially deplores the horrors inflicted by these barbarians on Greece.
In conclusion, he points out the important problems which the new Pope would have to solve. “The dignity of the Church must be reasserted, her authority revived, morals reformed, the Court regulated, the course of justice secured, the faith propagated, captives set free, lost cities regained, and the faithful armed for the Holy War”.
It soon became manifest in the deliberations of the Conclave how deeply the Cardinals had resented the highhanded manner in which they had been treated by the late Pope. A Capitulation was drawn up, extending the rights of the Sacred College, and limiting the power of the Pontiff. The articles of this Capitulation, which was framed on the model of that of 1431, bound the future Pope to carry on the war against the Turks according to the advice of the Cardinals, and to reform the Court to the best of his power; it also enjoined him to consult the Sacred College in making appointments to offices at Court, and in the bestowal of Bishoprics and the greater Abbeys. In future, the Decree of Constance regarding the number and character of the Cardinals, and that requiring the consent of the majority of the Sacred College given in Consistory to their nomination, was to be strictly observed. Several Articles were concerned with safe-guarding the interests of the Cardinals in the matter of Benefices and In Commendams. Rights of nomination or presentation were to be granted to ecclesiastical or temporal Princes only with the approval of the Sacred College, and existing concessions contrary to this provision were to be repealed. Moreover, the Pope was not to grant to any one a tax upon the clergy or the goods of the Church. In relation to the government of the States of the Church, the strict limitations imposed upon the Papal power by the Conclave which elected Eugenius IV were re-enacted. The Capitulation contained a new resolution requiring the Pope to allow to every Cardinal whose income was less than 4,000 golden florins, 100 florins a month out of the Apostolic Treasury, until that sum was made up. Once in every year the Cardinals were to inquire into the manner in which these Articles had been observed, and if they had been infringed, charitably to admonish the Pope three times.
On the third day of the Conclave the business of the Election commenced. In the first scrutiny the Cardinals of Siena and Bologna, Piccolomini and Calandrini, had each five votes, and no other Cardinal more than three. And now those who aspired to the supreme dignity began the work of canvassing. No one was more zealous than the ambitious d'Estouteville, who was closely allied with Cardinal Alain. Our information in regard to the means employed by this leader of the French party is derived entirely from his rival, Piccolomini, who certainly is not an unprejudiced authority. According to his report, d'Estouteville, on the one hand, made brilliant promises, and on the other sought in every way to depreciate the Cardinals of Bologna and Siena. “How”, he asked, “can Piccolomini be thought fit for the Papacy? He suffers from the gout, and is absolutely penniless. How can he succour the impoverished Church, or, infirm as he is, heal her sickness? He has but lately come from Germany; we do not know him; perhaps he will remove the Court thither. Look at his devotion to the heathen Muses. Shall we raise a poet to the Chair of St. Peter, and let the Church be governed on Pagan principles?”
The same authority declares that not only Alain, but Bessarion, Fieschi, Torquemada, Colonna, and Castiglione bound themselves by oath to vote for the French candidate. Piccolomini, however, by skilfully insisting on the national aspect of the case, succeeded in winning over Castiglione, and also in obtaining the support of those Cardinals who had been as yet undecided.
The energetic action of Cardinal Barbo was of the greatest importance in the Election. After he had given up all hope of himself wearing the tiara, he determined at least to make every possible effort to obtain it for one of his own nation. Assembling the Italian Cardinals, with the exception of Colonna, he proposed to them that member of the Sacred College who, above all others, was distinguished by keenness of intellect, varied learning, experience of the world, and diplomatic ability,—Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini. In the following scrutiny, on the 19th August, the latter accordingly had nine votes and d'Estouteville only six!
The decision was then arrived at by the method called Accessus. Rodrigo Borgia was the first to break the hush of expectation with the words: “I vote for the Cardinal of Siena”. A second and longer silence ensued. Cardinals Isidore and Torquemada made a fruitless attempt to adjourn the election, but Cardinal Tebaldo now giving his vote for Piccolomini, only one more was needed. Again there was a pause of breathless suspense. Then, in spite of those who tried to hold him back, Prospero Colonna stood up and said: “I also vote for the Cardinal of Siena, and make him Pope”. All then arose and offered their first homage to the newly elected Pontiff. Having returned to their seats, they unanimously proclaimed the election valid, and Bessarion made a speech congratulating the new Head of the Church.
Piccolomini, who had been only twenty months a Cardinal, was greatly overcome by his election. “The burden of the future fell upon his soul; he understood the height of his calling”. Campano, his biographer, tells us that he burst into tears and for some time could hardly command himself. When he had recovered his composure, he said to the friends who were encouraging him, that none could rejoice at being raised to such a dignity save those who forgot its attendant dangers and toils. It was now for him to accomplish that which he had formerly demanded from others.
After he had assumed the white cassock of a Pope, he announced that he would take the name of Pius II, and in this name again swore to observe the Capitulation, adding, however, the proviso: “As far as I am able, with the help of God, and consistently with the honor and the integrity of the Apostolic See”.
Besides the account written by the newly elected Pope himself, our sources of information regarding the Conclave of 1458 consist of a few dispatches from the Milanese Envoys, the most important of which is one written by Otto de Carretto on the 20th August. It was only natural that the envoy should make the most of his own share in the election; but on the other hand his account of the attitude of Cardinal Colonna is striking. In consequence of the family alliance which we have mentioned between the Orsini and the Colonna, both Cardinals with their adherents agreed, according to him, to elect Piccolomini. Carretto himself gained for him the support of the Neapolitan Envoys, of Cardinal de la Cerda, and of Cardinals Mila and Borgia, the nephews of the deceased Pope; the two last were influenced by the hope that Ferrante would be favourable to them. The Commentary of Pius II, however, represents Cardinal Colonna as a firm partisan of d'Estouteville up to a short time before the final decision; he alone failed to take part in the deliberations to which the Italian Cardinals were invited by Barbo. The report of the Milanese Envoy, written as it was immediately after the election, is certainly more direct evidence than the Commentary of Pius II, which is of a much later date. On the other hand, we must remember that Carretto, who, in pursuance of the instructions received from his master, was bound to promote the cause of Colonna, had an interest in exaggerating the part taken by this Cardinal in Piccolomini’s election. Prospero Colonna himself, after having given the vote which decided the election of Pius II, may have been anxious that his former efforts on behalf of d'Estouteville should be forgotten. It is to be hoped that future discoveries in the Archives may throw further light on this, point. There is, however, no doubt that Piccolomini’s election was zealously promoted by the Milanese and Neapolitan Envoys. Francesco Sforza expressly says in his letter of the 14th September that Pius II was elected through the influence of King Ferrante, and this statement is borne out by the favour which the new Pope showed to the King of Naples.
In Rome the election of Piccolomini was welcomed with unmixed satisfaction. The people threw away their arms, and with cries of “Siena, Siena, Evviva Siena!” hastened to St. Peter’s to pay homage to the newly made Pope. At nightfall bonfires were kindled, and lights shone forth from all the towers of the city. Jubilant crowds thronged the streets, which re-echoed with songs and the sound of horns and trumpets. Old people declared that they had never seen such an outburst of rejoicing in Rome. The Ambassadors congratulated the Pope immediately after his return from St. Peter’s; they found him greatly wearied, but still as witty and genial as when he was a Cardinal. On the following evening the nobles of the city came on horseback, bearing torches, to offer their felicitations. The splendid procession filled the Borgo from the Castle of St. Angelo to St. Peter’s.
At the home of the new Pope at Corsignano and Siena, the rejoicings were naturally very great. The spirit of the Renaissance displayed itself in splendid pageants in most of the other cities of the Peninsula. All the Italian powers, with the exception of Florence and Venice, were delighted at the elevation of the pacific and statesmanlike Piccolomini. Men breathed more freely now that the danger of a foreign Pope had been averted. The fear that a Frenchman might be raised to the supreme dignity is manifested in the reports of the Ambassadors then in Rome. “As your Excellency is aware," wrote Antonio da Pistoia on the 21st August to Francesco Sforza, “we were in great danger of having a French Pope. D'Estouteville and Alain had managed matters in such a way that the Papacy seemed almost certain to devolve upon one or other of them. Thanks be to God, it remains in Italy”.
Beyond the limits of the Italian Peninsula the result of the election was welcomed by all, except France and the other opponents of the Emperor. Frederick III was greatly pleased. On the very day of his election, the new Pontiff addressed two letters to him, one official and the other private. He would indeed have scarcely recognized his former Secretary, so heavily and so quickly had time told upon him. Though but fifty-three, Pius II was already an old man. His bodily strength was broken, and he suffered much from gout in the feet. This malady had been contracted in Scotland when he went barefooted on a pilgrimage through snow and ice to a Church of Our Lady in fulfilment of a vow made during a storm at sea. The tortures which he endured from the gout were such that he was often quite unable to move. He was also afflicted with stone and with a constant cough. Yet he kept up with surprising energy. “The habit of suffering had given him such mastery over himself, that even when tortured by the stone, he could repress every sign of the anguish he was enduring. But his grey hair and the ashy paleness of his complexion, which became almost livid with the slightest indisposition, bore witness to the ravages of disease. Andrea Guazzalotti’s medal, which was considered a masterpiece of portraiture, represents a worn countenance and sunken eyes”.
The election of a poet, historian, humanist, and statesman of European fame, was an event of far-reaching importance. The Papal chair was now filled by a man who really stood at the head of his age, and who was capable of understanding both its past and its present. Amongst his contemporaries there was not one who even approached Piccolomini in the insight he possessed in regard to the moral and physical forces at work in the period. He had learned from his own observation and experience the circumstances and the views of both friend and foe, for we may say no party existed in whose camp he had not sojourned for a while. No one could have been better fitted to restore the ancient greatness and glory of the Papacy. His immediate predecessors had indeed done much in this direction since the dissolution of the Council of Basle; but the crowning of the edifice remained for him.
The master-thought which filled the mind of Pius II and governed all his actions during the whole six years of his pontificate, was his noble project of freeing Europe from the disgrace of Turkish domination, by uniting all Christian nations in a general crusade. To repel the advance of the barbarians of the East by the united power of the West, was the great purpose to which, regardless of his bodily weakness, he devoted himself with all the enthusiasm of a young man, and with a marvellous constancy and energy. “As he watched the steady advance of Mahometanism from Africa, through Granada and Spain, and from Asia over the ruins of the Byzantine Empire, and along the banks of the Danube, he became convinced that nothing less than the united forces of the whole of Christendom could suffice to avert the danger”.
On the very day of his election, Pius II spoke plainly to the Milanese Ambassador, in no uncertain tones, of the great war which must be undertaken by the Christians against the Turks. The next morning he summoned the Sacred College to consider the measures to be adopted. The restoration of tranquillity in the States of the Church was a matter of the most urgent importance. It was necessary to remove the Catalan governors, and above all to avert the danger threatened by Piccinino. This could only be effected in concert with Naples. The French party was averse to the recognition of Ferrante. Pius II met their remonstrances with the simple question, “Will King René, the French candidate, free the Church from Piccinino?”. Accordingly, it was determined, on the 20th August, that the Neapolitan Ambassadors should be treated in every way as Royal Ambassadors, and that Ferrante should be styled “his Majesty”. Negotiations were at once entered into with Don Pedro Luis Borgia, who still had possession of Cività Vecchia, Spoleto, and other strongholds. It was feared that he would combine with Piccinino in an attack on the defenceless Pope.
The anxiety of Pius II was aggravated by tidings of the constant advance of the Turks which reached him from the East. No wonder that even during the festivities of the succeeding days he appeared preoccupied and almost melancholy. On Sunday, the 3rd September, in front of St. Peter’s, he received the tiara from the hands of Cardinal Colonna, and afterwards solemnly took possession of the Lateran. A tumult among the populace, who prematurely sought to seize the Papal palfrey, disturbed this ceremony, which a fellow-countryman of the Pope’s describes as most magnificent, Pageants of the kind derived a special charm from the fresh impulse which the Renaissance had given to art. The fact that a master like Benozzo Gozzoli painted the flags and banners used on this occasion, may give us some idea of its artistic beauty.
The 3rd September also brought Pius II the satisfaction of seeing an agreement concluded with Don Pedro Borgia, whose death on the 26th delivered the Pope from all further apprehensions on his account.
The succeeding days were fully occupied by the reception of the Embassies sent to do homage to the Pope, and by anxious deliberations concerning the measures to be taken to resist the Turks, whose progress in Serbia became more and more threatening. On the 7th October the Envoys of the Republic of Florence arrived. Among them were Cosmo’s nephew, Pier Francesco de' Medici and St. Antoninus, the holy Archbishop, who had already congratulated the predecessor of Pius II on his elevation to the Papacy. The 10th was the day fixed for the reception of the Florentines. When the Consistory was about to assemble, the aged Archbishop, worn out with years and austerities, seemed to be sinking; they gave him a cordial to strengthen him, and then, to the astonishment of all present, he poured forth an eloquent address to the Pope, lasting nearly an hour. Pius II was greatly touched by the hopes which St. Antoninus expressed of victory over the Turks, and his reply was worthy of the discourse which called it forth. Afterwards, when the Florentines were commending some of their fellow-countrymen to his favour, he asked them, half in jest, why they said nothing for their Archbishop. “The Archbishop”, they replied, “needs no recommendation but himself”.
From the reports of the Envoys it appears that the Pope was wholly engrossed by the one idea of war against the Turks. On the 12th October he made known the decision at which he had arrived, after mature consideration and lengthened deliberations with the Cardinals. The most distinguished members of the Sacred College, many bishops and prelates belonging to the Court, together with all the Ambassadors then in Rome, were assembled on that day in the chapel of the Papal Palace. In an exhaustive speech he enumerated the defeats which the Turks had inflicted upon the Christians, and showed that they aimed at the annihilation of Christendom. For the protection of religion he had resolved to attack the enemy. As it was impossible to do so without the assistance of the Christian Princes, he purposed to hold a Congress at Mantua or Udine, and would, with the Cardinals, proceed thither in the beginning of June, thus meeting half-way those who were coming from the other side of the Alps. He would then hear the opinions of those whose help he was about to ask. It was painful to him to leave Rome, the See of St. Peter and the rock of Christendom; but it would give him infinitely more pain if, under his Pontificate, the Faith were to suffer, for which he was ready to risk not only the whole world and the Patrimony of St. Peter, but also his life. Old and infirm as he was, he would not shrink from crossing mountain or river to take counsel with the Christian Princes for the welfare of religion. This determination was commended by the Cardinals, Bishops, Envoys, and all present.
On the following day Pius II published a Bull, earnestly inviting all the European Princes to the Congress. Since the Emperor Constantine had given peace to the Church, she had never, he said, been so trampled upon as she now was by the adherents of the “false prophet Mahomet”— the bloodthirsty hosts of the “venomous dragon”. It was a punishment from Heaven for the sins of the nations. God had raised him to the See of Rome that he might deliver the world from this peril. The task laid upon him was most difficult, but he did not despair. “The bark of the Church often rocks to and fro, but it does not sink; it is buffeted, but not shattered; it is assailed, but not wrecked; God permits His people to be tried, but He will not suffer them to be overwhelmed”.
Besides this general Bull, special letters of invitation were addressed not merely to the great Powers, but also to the smaller Princes, States, and Cities. All these letters contained an earnest request that the Envoys should be persons of distinction, and be provided with ample powers.
Before anything effectual could be attempted against the Turk it was essential that tranquillity should be restored in Italy. Pius II undertook this difficult task with the greatest zeal. He began with the States of the Church, which, owing to the misrule of the Borgias, were in great disorder. All the Catalan governors were, like Don Pedro Borgia, paid to give up their fortresses.
The worst legacy left to the new Pope by his predecessor was the difference with Naples. The first steps towards its settlement had been taken before his coronation. Difficulties had subsequently been caused by the interference of various persons. Then the opposition of the French party in the Sacred College placed further obstacles in the way, and Ferrante himself, looking on many of the Pope’s conditions as too hard, was slow in accepting them. Pius II, however, adhered to the demands which he had made in the interests of the Church, and sent word to the King that he was not like a merchant making a bargain, and asking the double to obtain the half. Ferrante, to whom a declaration of legitimacy from the Holy See was a matter of great importance, was finally compelled to yield. On the 17th October a treaty was concluded in Rome, by which the Pope undertook to remove the censures inflicted by his predecessor, and to grant him the right of succession and investiture in the accustomed form, without prejudice however to the claims of others. A Legate a latere was, as usual, to perform the ceremony of coronation. The Neapolitan King on his part solemnly bound himself to pay yearly to the Holy See a certain tribute, to give up Benevento at once, and Terracina in ten years’ time, and also to compel the Condottiere Piccinino to restore the territories which he had taken from the Church.
On the 10th November the Bull of Investiture was published, together with the oath to be taken by Ferrante. The ecclesiastical and sovereign authority of the Pope was safe-guarded by a repetition of the conditions formerly agreed upon between Charles I and Clement IV. At the conclusion of the Bull it was expressly laid down that the claims of other persons were not to be prejudiced by it. The document was signed by only thirteen Cardinals, those of the French party holding aloof.
At the same time Pius II issued another Bull absolving Ferrante from all censures pronounced against him by Calixtus III and requiring his subjects to render him obedience.
Cardinal Orsini was on the 1st December charged to receive the oath of fealty and to perform the Coronation, and soon after, Niccolo Forteguerri who had been appointed Bishop of Teano, was sent on a secret mission to Naples. Its object was to treat of a betrothal between the natural daughter of the King and Antonio Piccolomini, the nephew of the Pope, a union by which the newly established good relations between Rome and Naples were to be yet more closely cemented. The effects of the alliance were soon visible in the condition of the States of the Church. The menaces of Ferrante, coupled with those of the Duke of Milan, induced Piccinino, early in the year 1459, to yield up his spoils in consideration of an indemnity of 30,000 ducats. The Pope also used every means in his power to restore order in Rome. He summoned the Barons and made them take an oath to keep the peace during his absence, pronouncing the severest penalties against those who should violate it. The privileges enjoyed by the cities and Princes of the States of the Church were confirmed, and a portion of their tribute remitted for three years.
The important post of Prefect of the City having become vacant by the death of Don Pedro Luis Borgia, Pius II conferred it on the 16th December, upon Antonio Colonna, with the right of succession to his eldest son. By this means he attached to his own interest the most powerful of the Roman parties. Antonio Piccolomini had been nominated Governor of St. Angelo on the 1st of September.
The Romans, however, could not reconcile themselves to the idea of a protracted absence of the Pope from their city, and its consequent loss of the advantages derived from the presence of the Court. The distressful period, during which Eugenius IV was away from Rome, was still fresh in the memory of many. The intentions of the Pope were mistrusted, and the Congress at Mantua was looked upon as a mere pretext. It was feared that he would linger in Siena, and enrich his own home. Some said that Pius II, who had grown up among the Germans, would ultimately live entirely in their country, and would not deem it beneath his dignity to transfer the Chair of Peter to the other side of the Alps. Others again were full of apprehension lest the aged and sickly Pontiff might never return. Intense excitement prevailed in the city; the women lamented, the youths and men cursed and reviled the Pope, and a number of the old and more influential Romans went to him in a body and besought him not to leave them. Pius II did his best to reassure them, pointed out the necessity for his departure, and promised soon to return.
In order the better to tranquillize the public mind, it was decided that a certain number of the Court officials and a few of the Cardinals were to remain in Rome and carry on current business without interruption. A special Bull made provision for the next Papal election, which was to take place only in the Eternal City. On the 11th January, 1459, Pius II entrusted the important post of Papal Vicar-General in Rome and the Patrimony of St. Peter to his old friend the German Cardinal, Nicholas of Cusa, who had returned there in the end of September. Galeazzo Cavriani, Bishop of Mantua, was appointed Governor of the City on the 15th January, 1459.
Platina, Campano, and other authorities, have furnished us with ample materials for forming an idea of the character and mode of life of Pius II. All concur in their estimate of his many-sided culture, his great intellectual powers, his affability, gentleness, and simplicity. Like all really able men, he hated pedantry, and did not care for display, although he could, when it was necessary, maintain the dignity of his position with suitable magnificence. The simplicity of his life formed a striking contrast to the pomp and show in which d'Estouteville, Borgia, and some of the Cardinals delighted. His retainers were often in despair when, in course of his numerous journeys, the Pope had to stay in poor country villages and decayed convents, where it was difficult to obtain even the barest necessaries of life. On such occasions Pius himself was content with everything; he did not object to use the coarsest and commonest ware, and to sojourn in monasteries which could hardly afford shelter from wind and weather. The provisions served at the Pope’s table were of the homeliest kind; there was but little wine, and he seldom ordered any delicacy for himself.
The Papal account-books corroborate the statements of his biographers. A careful student of these volumes has arrived at a result which does honour to the Popes of the early Renaissance period, and to Pius II in particular. “On the whole”, he says, “the simplicity and frugality of the Papal table was amazing. It was like a convent refectory. The household expenses of Pius II are the lowest recorded. They generally amount to six, seven, or eight ducats a day”. The marvellous cheapness of provisions at this period is, of course, to be taken into consideration; but when we remember that this small sum sufficed for the support of from 260 to 280 persons, it must be confessed that declamations against the luxury of the Court are altogether out of place.
Pius II had the reputation of being very methodical in the regulation of his time. When in health he rose at daybreak, recited his office, said or heard Mass, and then went at once to work. Until the Cardinals arrived, he gave audiences and attended to other business. A short walk in the garden was his only recreation before dinner, after which he conversed with those around him, and took a brief siesta. He then dictated letters, or employed himself in literary work, and again gave audiences until supper-time. Current business was next dispatched with Ammanati and Gregorio Lolli, and accounts settled. In addition to these two persons, his nephew, Francesco Piccolomini, Bernardo Eroli, the grave and learned Bishop of Spoleto, Niccolo Forteguerri of Pistoja, and Giacomo di Lucca, enjoyed his special confidence. The Cardinals most intimate with him were Calandrini, Castiglione, Cusa, Carvajal, and Bessarion. Before going to rest Pius II said the remainder of his office; he often read and dictated in his bed, as he needed but from five to six hours’ sleep.
Platina gives us a description of the outward appearance of the Pope. He was small of stature; his hair became prematurely grey, which gave him, even in the prime of life, the appearance of age. The expression of his countenance was kindly, but grave. In his dress he avoided both negligence and elegance. He had been accustomed to hardships, and bore hunger and thirst with equanimity. His naturally strong frame had been worn by many journeys, labours, and vigils. Although often suffering from a chronic cough, from stone, and from gout, he was accessible to all, and unwilling to refuse any petition. Campano says that on one occasion, when an attendant endeavoured to make signs to a garrulous old man to curtail his discourse, Pius II gently told him to go on, but said sharply to the servant: “Do you not know that as Pope I have to live, not for myself, but for others?”. He spent all that he received. He had no desire to be rich, and left the reckoning of his money to others, but at the same time he understood its value. In consequence of the war, his coffers were constantly empty, so that he was often oppressed by debt. He hated liars and hypocrites, was quickly angry, but as quickly pacified. Personal injuries were readily forgiven, but he firmly resisted any attack upon the Holy See. He was kindly and genial in his intercourse with those around him, and witty in conversation. He was indifferent to what was said of him, and to the blame cast on his frequent journeys. Fear and vacillation had no place in his nature; he was never seen to be elated by prosperity nor downcast in adversity. His leisure hours were spent in reading or in literary work. He was sincerely devoted to the Christian Faith, and frequently approached the Sacraments.
A few more touches may still be added to this picture which is drawn by a grateful hand. The strictness with which Pius II kept the laws of the Church appears from the fact that his friends endeavoured in vain to hinder him from fasting, when suffering from illness. The Pope had a great veneration for the Blessed Virgin. He looked upon her as, in a special manner, his Protectress; he made frequent pilgrimages to her shrines, and enriched them with many gifts. He also composed some hymns in her honor.
The great love of travelling, which Platina mentions as a characteristic of Pius II, deserves further notice. Few of the Popes have seen as much of the world, although some may have taken longer journeys. The epithet of “Apostolic Wanderer”, which the prophecy of Malachy bestows upon Pius VI, was equally applicable to him. Considerations of policy and health, an insatiable thirst for knowledge, a delight in unrestrained social intercourse, and finally, an enthusiastic admiration of the beautiful scenery of his country, furnished the motives for an amount of travelling unusual in his days. A visit to the country was the chief solace which he allowed himself when pestilence and excessive heat made the low-lying districts insupportable. The summer sojourn of the Pope on Monte Amiata, of which we have a description from his own pen, has often been mentioned. During the hot season of the year 1462, he took up his abode in the Abbey of San Salvatore, which is situated half-way up the mountain. “Splendid chestnut trees clothe the edge of the precipice, which commands a view of the whole of southern Tuscany with the towers of Siena in the distance”. An inscription still reminds the traveller that under one of the finest of these trees the affairs of both Church and State were dispatched by the Pope. He never allowed his love of travelling to interfere with business. He made a point of discharging the duties of his office both personally and promptly. “Often and often did he hold Consistories and sign state papers, and give audiences to Ambassadors beneath the giant old chestnuts or in the shade of olive trees, on the green sward, by murmuring waters”.
The beautiful descriptions of his travels left by Pius II are justly esteemed, and even at the present day excite the admiration of those who can appreciate the charm of Italian scenery. “Diana’s hiding place” on the blue lake of Nemi, Todi, enthroned amid vineyards and olive-covered slopes, Subiaco in its wild solitude, the view from the summit of the Alban hills over “the wide Campagna studded with the ruins of a primitive civilization, the mountain heights of Central Italy, with woods and valleys and shining lakes at their feet”, had never before been portrayed with such enthusiasm and in such detail. “All things that give charm to a landscape, corn-fields, and meadows, high mountains and low-lying lakes, the rushing brook, the murmuring river overhung with dusky foliage, the contrasted hues of the blue waving flax and the yellow broom, the distant prospect over land and sea, city, mountain and valley”, were all observed by the delighted eye of the Pope, and recorded by his pen.
Nor was his interest less in the memorials of antiquity and the treasures of art which he met with in his travels; no relic of the Christian or heathen past escaped him. In the convents he had all the old manuscripts brought to him; at Chiusi he sought for the Labyrinth mentioned by Pliny; at Mincio he visited Virgil’s Villa, and in the neighbourhood of Rome he traced out the old Roman roads and aqueducts, and endeavoured to determine the boundaries of the ancient tribes. In Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli he tried “to interpret the fragments of walls, and in imagination to restore their former connection”. “Time”, he writes in his Memoirs, “has here defaced everything. The walls, which were once adorned by coloured tapestry and gold-embroidered hangings, are now clothed with wild ivy. Thorns and briars are growing where the Tribunes once sat in purple, and snakes are dwelling in the chambers of queens. Such is the transitory nature of all earthly things”.
The constant pecuniary difficulties of Pius II in some measure account for the remarkable fact that very little was done for the Humanists during his reign. His election had awakened great expectations among them, and their disappointment was all the keener. Moreover, the Pope, who was himself a distinguished author, proved a very fastidious critic. Orators and poets, he used to say, must be really original, else they are worthless. During the early years of his Pontificate, death removed several prominent Humanists; Vegio died in 1458, Manetti, Poggio and Aurispa in 1459; and some of their successors were of little note. Versifiers of the calibre of Giantonio Porcello evidently could have little interest for a man of Pius II’s intellect. Filelfo ruined his fortunes by his “shameless importunity”. The value to be attached to the complaints of other Humanists is uncertain. Until the manuscripts bearing on the subject have been thoroughly examined it will not be possible to come to a definite conclusion in regard to the relations of Pius II with the literary men of his day. The following may serve as an instance of the caution required. One who is thoroughly versed in the literary affairs of the period asserts that “the translators of Nicholas V’s time were a jealous and quarrelsome set, and were entirely unnoticed by Pius II”. In contradiction to this statement we have the fact that Francesco d'Arezzo, a disciple of Valla’s was expressly charged by the Pope to complete his master’s translation of the Iliad, and to undertake a translation of the Odyssey as a companion volume. In return for his labours he received a permanent appointment, which “not only sufficed for his own necessities, but also enabled him to carry out his long-cherished wish of providing for his mother and sister”. Several Humanists were, during this Pontificate, employed in the College of Abbreviators; amongst others we may mention Bartolomeo Platina, Leodrisio Crivelli, and Battista Poggio.
While it is true that the scholarly Pope did not neglect the Humanists to the degree that his latest biographer has supposed, it cannot be denied that a certain reserve is evident in his conduct towards them. This fact has been accounted for by his pecuniary necessities, by his engrossing ecclesiastical and political cares, and by his zeal for the Crusade. We may add another motive, which is to be found in the Pope’s aversion for the false Renaissance. Pius II was but too well-acquainted with this dangerous aspect of the movement which he had once favoured, and, after his elevation to the chair of St. Peter, resolutely opposed it. Here, too, it may be said that Aeneas was now forgotten and Pius alone remained. Christian works formed the principal part of his private library, and heathen authors were little regarded. In his own writings he scrupulously avoided everything which could be looked upon as an approach to heathenism. If the ancient gods were mentioned they were spoken of as demons or idols; the ideas and opinions of Roman philosophers were corrected and conformed to the Christian standard. “Scepticism and criticism were silenced in presence of the authority of the Church”. Authors whose lives were immoral, as for example A. Contrarius, were relentlessly banished. The representatives of the Christian Renaissance, on the other hand, such as Flavio Biondo, enjoyed the special favour of Pius II. Biondo accompanied the Pope on his excursions in the beautiful neighbourhood of Rome and recalled the various historical associations of the landscape. He also took part in the Congress of Mantua, and, while in that city, completed his “Roma Triumphans”. This work, “the first great attempt at a general picture of Roman antiquity”, was dedicated to Pius II. The high esteem in which the Pope held this good man may be gathered from the fact that he made an abstract of Biondo’s great historical work, the first twenty books of the “Decades”, and also made his son Gasparo notary to the Papal Treasury. In the spring of 1463, when Biondo became very ill, the Pope sent his own Confessor to visit him, and he afterwards provided for his burial. Gasparo at once succeeded him as secretary.
Pius II also endeavoured to attract to Rome some scholars from other countries, as for example the celebrated astronomer, Battista Piasio, and the learned German theologian, Gabriel Biel; the latter, a simple and modest man, declined the invitation. Niccolo Sagundino of Negroponte went to Rome and died there in 1463.
Two Sienese, Agostino and Francesco de' Patrizzi; the Roman, Agapito di Cenci de' Rustici; Jacopo Ammanati; and the witty and genial Giantonio Campano, shared with Biondo the special favour of the Pope. Campano, “a master of style”, was the Court Poet of Pius II, who thought so highly of his productions that he inserted a number of them in his Memoirs. These Memoirs were the constant occupation of his leisure hours; many portions are apparently written by his own hand, and others were dictated. He saw, with regret, that time would not permit him to give his work the finishing touches he might have desired. Yet the original manuscript contains numerous literary corrections. Pius II also purposed to reform the style of the Papal Bulls, but was obliged to relinquish the attempt, as he found that the changes made gave rise to suspicions of their authenticity. He used himself to compose Briefs and Bulls of importance. “Though sentences and images from Holy Scriptures took the place of quotations from Horace and Virgil in the Pope’s discourses, their elegant and flowing style proved to the world that he was both a scholar and a man of modern culture”.
It is really wonderful that, notwithstanding his constant sufferings and the immense burden of affairs which pressed upon him, the Pope found time for serious literary work. During the first years of his Pontificate, in hours stolen from sleep, he laboured to carry out his magnificent project of writing “A geographical and ethnographical description of the whole of the known world with historical illustrations”. Asia, the first part, which Pius had begun when a Cardinal, and which had occupied him during his summer sojourn at Tivoli in 1461, alone was completed. In the unfinished section on Europe the history of recent events fills a considerable place. Germany is treated in detail, and many errors which prevailed in Italy regarding that country are corrected. A far from indulgent critic praises the elevation of thought displayed in this acute and learned work, and declares that a book which exercised such a powerful influence on Christopher Columbus must not be lightly esteemed.
Nor is less importance to be attached to the Memoirs of Pius II, to which allusion has frequently been made in these pages. In the spirit of a genuine historian Piccolomini had, throughout the whole of his eventful life, made notes of all that had befallen him, and all that he had seen, and also of what he had heard and learned from others. As Pope he still kept up the custom, and this was the origin of his Autobiography, the most comprehensive and characteristic of his writings. This work is, at once, a history of the remarkable period during which he occupied the Papal chair, and a portrait of it as reflected in his mind. He was generally so overwhelmed with business that it was but seldom that he could devote two consecutive hours to his task, and, if he did, they were mostly borrowed from his sleepless nights. “Accordingly, the Memoirs are composed of a multitude of fragments of different length, whose connection is but slight, and, in many cases, merely arbitrary. The first book, his life previous to his elevation to the Papacy, is the only one which is more than a rough draft. He often made his secretaries write down the events of the few preceding days, both personal and political, adding historical or geographical matter culled from the treasures of his memory, or from his collections of extracts. Here and there unconnected episodes are introduced”. The narrative proceeds from day to day like a journal, “and only ceases with the commencement of his last illness”. Pius II was well aware of the defects necessarily incidental to a work composed in this manner, and Campano was entrusted with the duty of removing them. It was well for posterity that the Court Poet did not expend much labour on the task.
Delicate and sympathetic observation of men and things, sound judgment, a youthful freshness of perception and description, are merits universally conceded to this remarkable work. If it is not exempt from the faults which characterize the historical writings of the time, and of Memoirs in general, it still remains a highly valuable authority. The narrative in its details may often fail in accuracy and impartiality; but from this, as from everything written by this gifted man, we carry away a “vivid and personal impression, which has a value of its own quite as real as that of historical documents”. The unprejudiced reader of the geographical and historical works produced by Pius II during the period of his Pontificate will not fail to agree with the verdict of a non-Catholic writer, who declares that they furnish ample testimony of the genuine love of art and learning, and the noble aspirations by which he was animated.
The Eastern Question and the Congress at Mantua.
The beginning of February 1459 had been fixed as the date of the Pope’s departure from Rome, but the tidings of the victorious advance of the Turks into Serbia induced him, notwithstanding his weak state of health, to resolve on setting out on his journey in January. The Venetians, afraid of disturbing their commercial relations with the Porte, refused to let the Congress be held at Udine, and Mantua was finally selected as its place of meeting.
With the object of protecting the Christians in the Greek waters against the rapidly increasing naval power of the Turks, the Pope, shortly before his departure, instituted a new religious Order of Knights. This Order was framed on the model of that of St. John at Rhodes. It was to bear the name of Our Lady of Bethlehem, and to have its headquarters in the Island of Lemnos.
On the 20th January, 1459, Pius II left the Vatican for Sta. Maria Maggiore, where he spent the following day, and gave his blessing to the sorrowing people. An attempt was again made to dissuade him from his journey on the ground of his state of health and of the inclement season of the year. When these arguments proved unavailing, the dangers which threatened the States of the Church were laid before him. As soon as he was known to have crossed the Po, the tyrants would, it was predicted, rush like ravening wolves upon the patrimony of St. Peter, and on his return, he would not know where to lay his head. But the Pope replied that Mahomet was menacing his spiritual authority, and that its recovery would be a matter of far greater difficulty than that of the States of the Church, which had already been often lost and as often regained.
On the 22nd January Pius II accordingly took leave of Rome. Among those who accompanied him were Cardinals Calandrini, Alain, d'Estouteville, Borgia, Barbo, and Colonna, with a number of courtiers and Envoys. They passed out of the city by the Ponte Molle, and travelled as far as Campagnano, where the Orsini, to whom this place belonged, had prepared a splendid reception. The next day, on the way to Nepi and Civita Castellana, the Pope was met by the joyful tidings of Piccinino’s submission. At Civita Castellana, picturesquely planted on a rock of tufa, he enjoyed the satisfaction of meeting in its Bishop his old friend, Nicholas Palmerius. At Magliano he crossed the Tiber by a wooden bridge, which was richly decorated. Everywhere laity and clergy vied with each other in manifesting their respect for the Vicar of Christ. Youths and maidens crowned with laurel, and bearing olive branches in their hands, wished long life and happiness to their noble guest. The streets and roads were strewn with green boughs, and filled with crowds who deemed it a happiness even to touch the hem of the Pope’s garment. Thus Pius II passed through Narni and Terni to Spoleto, where he remained two days.
Even on this journey the indefatigable Pope allowed himself no rest. From Terni he wrote to Duke Sigismund of the Tyrol, to the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg, and to Duke Frederick of Saxony about the Congress. During the following days, while at Spoleto, he addressed similar letters to Cardinal Carvajal, to the Emperor’s Council, to the Emperor himself, to the Bishops of Eichstadt, Wurzburg and Bamberg, and to the cities of Strasburg, Basle and Constance.
In the monastic city of Assisi, the Pope was received with special rejoicing. He visited the walls and fortifications which Nicholas V had restored, and desired that they should be strengthened. He also received the oath of fealty of the citizens. Even greater honours awaited him in Perugia, where no Pope had been seen for eighty years. All the houses and churches of the city were splendidly decorated; the keys of its gates were presented to the Pontiff, who immediately returned them to the magistrates. The joy of the people was deep and heartfelt. The Chronicle of Perugia describes his solemn entry on the 1st February, when, in Pontifical vestments and wearing the mitre, he was borne through a delighted throng, in a litter adorned with purple and gold. In the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, where three of his predecessors repose, he adored the Blessed Sacrament, and thence proceeded to the Governor's Palace. During the succeeding days the inhabitants paid the Pope every possible honour. He remained for three weeks in the city, and consecrated the Church of San Domenico. He did his best to reconcile its contending factions, issued fresh invitations to the Congress, and received the Envoys of the Duke of Savoy and of Federigo, Count of Urbino. A mission also arrived from Siena to endeavour to compose the differences which made it doubtful whether the Pope would visit his birth-place.
Even while Bishop of Siena, Pius II had had to contend against the distrust of his fellow-countrymen. “He was looked upon as a partisan of the nobles who had been driven out of the Government, and since his elevation to the purple he had never entered the city”. After his election to the Papacy, the dignities and offices of State had been again opened to the Piccolomini family. This, however, was far from satisfying Pius II, who required that the nobles in general should be eligible to all posts. An autograph Brief of energetic remonstrance, addressed to his fellow-countrymen on the 25th November, 1458, had removed all possible doubts as to his views. An Embassy sent to Rome in December was informed that the Pope would not inflict any punishment upon the Sienese for their contumacy, but that if his demands were not complied with, he would withhold the favours which he had intended to confer upon the city. He also allowed it to be understood that he would not pass through Siena on his journey. The popular party yielded to this pressure in so far as somewhat to modify their resolutions against the nobles. A special Mission was dispatched to Perugia to acquaint the Pope with this decision, and to urge him to visit Siena. Pius II graciously accepted the invitation and the concession, at the same time expressing a hope that more would follow. He refused to agree to the demand of the Envoys that no further mention should be made of the questions at issue.
On the 19th of February, amidst the regrets of its citizens, the Pope left Perugia. On the frontier of the Sienese territory a solemn deputation awaited his arrival. The people everywhere received him “with heartfelt joy”. His journey lay through Chiusi and Sarteano to Corsignano, the home which he had left as a penniless lad, and now revisited as the Head of Christendom. “There upon the hill, and above the vineyards, stood the lowly houses in which the Piccolomini had dwelt, and there was the old parish church”. The Pope’s joy in again beholding the home of his youth was deep and tender; but many of his contemporaries were dead, and those who survived were confined to their houses by age and sickness, or so altered that he could with difficulty recognise them. It was on this occasion that an aged priest came and cast himself at the Pope’s feet—the Father Peter, who had taught the now learned and famous author to read and write. Pius II spent three days in the little town, all too short a time for its inhabitants, who could never have enough of gazing at their renowned fellow-citizen. “On the feast of St. Peter’s Chair (22nd February), he celebrated the High Mass in the lowly parish church”.
Before his departure, Pius II made the necessary arrangements for the erection of a Cathedral and of a Palace; for Corsignano, under the name of Pienza, was now to become the See of a Bishop.
On the 24th February the Pope entered Siena, where his arrival was awaited by the dominant party with feelings of anxious suspense. His reception, although not wanting in suitable magnificence, was cold. Attentive observers were struck by the contrast which it formed with the enthusiastic welcome of Perugia. Pius II nevertheless manifested “nothing but goodwill and kindness”. The Golden Rose was bestowed on the Prior of the Balia, with a speech from the Pope in praise of the city.
The lengthened sojourn of Pius II brought unwonted animation to the quiet streets of Siena, and the price of provisions at once rose considerably. The Kings of Castille, Aragon, Portugal, Hungary, and Bohemia, Dukes Philip of Burgundy and Albert of Austria, and the Margraves Albert and Frederick of Brandenburg, all sent their representatives thither to do homage. The Pope answered all the addresses with his wonted eloquence. The Emperor, to whom he had written from Spoleto, and again on the 28th February from Siena, urgently pressing him to come to Mantua, sent men of comparatively inferior rank. They showed their annoyance with the Pope for having addressed Matthias Corvinus as King of Hungary, by putting off for a while their arrival at Siena. But Pius II appealed to the example of his predecessor and to the custom of the Holy See, by which the title of King is given to the actual possessor of the kingdom without prejudice to the rights of others. The Humanist Hinderbach made the profession of obedience on behalf of the Imperial Embassy, to which the Pope graciously replied.
Not till towards the end of his stay in Siena did the Pope speak of his wishes in regard to the Sienese Constitution. He again asked for the restitution of the nobles as a body, and desired that party names might be laid aside, for they kept up irritation amongst the people and fostered strife. Long deliberations ensued, in the course of which “some of the nobles proposed to rouse the mob, and carry their point by a coup de main; but Pius II refused to sanction this. He would not do violence to his native city; at worst he would only withhold the favours that he had meant to bestow”. It was finally decided that the nobles should be eligible for all posts and dignities, but that their actual share of preferment at any given time should be limited to a fourth, or, in some cases, an eighth part. So small a concession could not have satisfied the Pope, yet he accepted it graciously, at the same time expressing a hope that more would hereafter be done to carry out his wishes. As a token of his gratitude, he raised Siena to the dignity of a Metropolitan Church, and conferred the little town of Radicofani on the Republic as a perpetual fief.
Before the departure of Pius II from Siena, attempts were again made to dissuade him from holding a Congress. Its opponents not only sought to alarm him by representing all its possible dangers, but endeavoured also to prove that it was both useless and injurious.
Some Cardinals, devoted to the interests of France, even ventured to attempt to prejudice King Charles VII against it. A letter written with this object fell into the Pope’s hands, and nothing but the fear of a scandal deterred him from punishing its author. Meanwhile those who flattered themselves with the hope that Pius II would be in any degree influenced by such arts were greatly mistaken. Firmly resolved to accomplish the promise which he had made before the whole world, he steadily pursued his journey.
The Florentine Envoys received him at the frontier. Others awaited him at San. Casciano. Next came the Lords of Rimini, Forli, Faenza, and Carpi, and finally Galeazzo Maria Sforza, aged sixteen, the son of the Duke of Milan, attended by a retinue of 350 horsemen. The reception took place at the Certosa. Young Sforza leaped from his horse, kissed the Pope’s foot and bade him welcome in a speech composed by the Humanist Guiniforte da Barzizza. The Gonfaloniere, Angelo Vettori, went before the Pope, whose litter was borne by the Lords, in some cases “reluctantly”, to the Cathedral, and thence to Sta. Maria Novella, which had also been the residence of Martin V and Eugenius IV. Theatrical performances, combats of wild beasts, races and balls were given in honor of the illustrious guest. “The learned and artistic Pope fully appreciated all the beautiful things which the wealthy city had to show him”. Cosmo de' Medici, having on the plea of indisposition excused himself from appearing, no business could be transacted. The only exception was the election of an Archbishop, St. Antoninus having just died (2nd May). The Florentines prayed that one of their fellow-citizens should be chosen, and Pius II acceded to their wishes. The Pope had intended to leave Florence on the 4th May, but remained there one day longer. On the 9th of the month he was at Bologna. In crossing the Appenines, he ventured on dangerous ground. Latium, Sabina, Spoleto, and Tuscany were at least “within the sphere of Rome’s influence, even if her hold on them was somewhat insecure. But on the other side of the Appenines, the Marches and Romagna, though included among the States of the Church, had their political centre in Milan and Venice”.
Bologna, proud of her freedom, was in a state of perpetual disquiet. The dominant party was as averse to the authority of the new Pope, as it had been to that of his predecessor, and long deliberations had been held in reference to this journey. At last it had been decided that Pius II should be invited to Bologna, but that at the same time Milanese forces should be brought into the city. The Pope consented to this arrangement on condition that the troops should swear fealty to him. The command was entrusted to Galeazzo Maria Sforza, who had already given proofs of his devotion to the Holy See. These circumstances are sufficient to account for the shortness of his stay in the unfriendly city, which lasted only from the 9th to the 16th of May. From thence he sent a Brief to King Rene of Provence, who, resenting the Coronation of Ferrante of Naples, would not permit it to be published. He also sent Briefs to King John II of Aragon, and Henry VI of England, both of whom he invited to take part in the Congress.
Pius II made his entry into Ferrara under a gold-embroidered baldacchino on the 17th May. His reception was magnificent. The streets were strewn with green branches, the windows adorned with splendid hangings and garlands of flowers, music and singing resounded on all sides. Borso, the Duke of Modena, did everything in his power to show extraordinary honor to the Pope. But the long list of requests which he produced, considerably marred the effect of all this homage. Pius II was not able to satisfy him completely. On the 25th May he bade farewell to his host, “whose petitions kept pace with his demonstrations of respect”. Thence the Pope passed on through Revere to the marshy plain in which lies the city of Virgil.
It was on the 27th May that Pius II entered Mantua, where he was welcomed with a splendour rivalling that which had been displayed at Perugia. “Three banners were carried before him; one of them bore the Cross, another the keys of the Church, and the third the arms of the Piccolomini, five golden crescents on an azure cross. The Pope, in gorgeous vestments, resplendent with purple and jewels, was borne in a litter by the nobles and vassals of the Church. At the gate, the Marquess Lodovico Gonzaga dismounted from his horse and presented him with the keys of the city. Perugia and Florence were the only other places where this had been done. Carpets were laid down in the streets, the houses were almost hidden by flowers, and the balconies and roofs were filled with richly-dressed ladies. The streets through which the Pope passed to the Palace were thronged with people shouting, Evviva Pio Secondo”.
The Duke of Milan had sent his consort to Mantua to welcome the Head of the Church. On the following day the Duchess and her children appeared before the Pope. Sforza’s charming daughter, Ippolita, who was but fourteen years of age, on this occasion made a speech in Latin, which excited general admiration. “A Goddess could not have spoken better”, wrote Luigi Scarampo to a friend.
But all this outward show of respect could not blind Pius II to the real state of affairs. The city was crowded with strangers; excellent arrangements had been made for his accommodation; but of all the Christian Kings and Princes to whom he had addressed repeated and urgent invitations, not one had taken the trouble to appear, and notwithstanding all their promises they had not deemed it necessary to send representatives invested with full powers. Such want of consideration towards the Pope, who had himself arrived some days before the appointed time, promised ill for the future. Processions were at once made to implore the protection of the Almighty for the assembly.
On the 1st June, Pius II opened the Congress with a solemn Mass and a discourse in which he made no secret of his dissatisfaction. At the same time he declared himself resolved to persevere. If those who were invited did not come it would at least be evident that it was not the Pope who had been wanting in good will. A circular letter to the same effect, and bearing the same date, was dispatched to all the Christian Powers, and was immediately followed by exhortations to send Envoys invested with full powers.
Under these circumstances it was impossible that business should be definitely commenced. We cannot but admire the energy of the suffering Pontiff, who firmly refused to leave Mantua, though all those by whom he was surrounded did everything in their power to induce him to do so. The Pope, they complained, had acted without due consideration in coming to this place. Few Envoys were present. The situation was marshy, unhealthy, and hot, the wine and provisions bad. Many had fallen sick, pernicious fevers were carrying off not a few, and there was nothing to be heard but the croaking of frogs.
The attitude of a certain number of the Cardinals was particularly distressing to the Pope. Those who, on different pretexts, departed from the dreary city, or who engaged in the pursuit of pleasure, were by no means the worst. Others, especially those who sympathized with France, sought to defer the meeting of the Congress. No one spoke of the Pope more contemptuously than did Cardinal Scarampo. He characterized his scheme as childish; the Pope, he said, had left Rome and was now wandering hither and thither asking for hospitality, and hoping by his persuasions to involve the Princes in the war, and to annihilate the Turks, whose troops were invincible. He would have done better to stay at home and take care of the Church. Scarampo even went so far as to dissuade the Venetians from sending representatives. Cardinal Tebaldo declared that the Pope had foolishly come to Mantua to enrich strangers, while he left his own people in poverty. Other Cardinals asked Pius II to his face whether he wished them all to die of fever in the pestilent air of Mantua. He ought, they said, to return to Rome; having come to the appointed place of meeting he had clone enough to satisfy his honour. Did he really believe that he could by himself conquer the Turks?
Notwithstanding all these efforts the Pope held firmly to his purpose of doing everything in his power for the defence of Western Christendom; Cardinals Bessarion and Torquemada stood by him loyally. Again he issued letters of warning and of menace to all parts of the world; “but only slowly, and very slowly, did Envoys appear from one quarter and another”. The European Princes in general showed the greatest indifference. They had no sympathy with the noble aspirations of Pius II, “who aimed at reviving the era of the Crusades”.
The conduct of the Emperor was deplorable. On him, as the defender of Christendom, devolved, according to medieval ideas, the duty of protecting the West against the attacks of Islam. Even if the Imperial dignity of that day was but a shadow of what it had been in the past, a certain prestige still clung to the throne of Charles the Great. Pius II therefore, from the beginning, attached special importance to the personal appearance of Frederick III at Mantua, hoping that it would be the means of attracting the other Princes to the Congress . The excuses of the Emperor were pitiful. He pleaded urgent affairs in Austria, and represented that he was not bound to attend, because the invitation had been indefinite, either to Udine or Mantua. “The reply which our envoy at your Court transmits to us”, wrote Pius II, on 26th January from Spoleto to the Emperor, “meets neither our expectations nor the necessities of the case. If you remain absent everyone will deem himself sufficiently excused. For the honor, therefore, of the German nation, for the glory of your own name, for the welfare of the Christian religion, you are entreated to reconsider the matter and decide on attending the assembly”.
Frederick III was, when these exhortations reached him, engaged in political schemes directly opposed to the Pope’s plans. “Instead of upholding Hungary in its integrity as the bulwark of Germany and of his own States, he entered upon a course calculated to break, or at least greatly weaken, the defensive power of that kingdom”. He made an alliance with that party of Hungarian magnates which was hostile to the house of Corvinus, and, on the 4th March, 1459, had himself proclaimed King of Hungary.
Pius II had sought to assuage the strife between these two Princes, which interfered so seriously with his hopes, and enlist them both in the war against the Turks. He was in Siena when the tidings of Frederick’s usurpation arrived, and lost no time in remonstrating with him.
“While the King of Hungary”, he wrote on the 2nd April, “would willingly draw his sword against the Turks, he is harassed by hindrances from Christians. Discontented magnates persuade your Highness to take part in a change of government in this kingdom. We exhort You, for the sake of your own honor as well as for the common welfare of Christendom, to cease to give ear to the counsels of restless persons. For if, as may easily happen, war should break out in consequence of your action, the King, should he seek deliverance by a peace with the Turks, will be less to blame than he who has constrained him to so shameful a treaty. This kingdom is the shield of all Christendom, under cover of which we have hitherto been safe. But if the road is thus opened to the barbarians, destruction will break in over all, and the consequences of such a disaster will be imputed by God to its author”. Cardinal Carvajal, the Papal Legate in Hungary, was charged to use all diligence to avert violent proceedings and procure at least a truce for the ensuing summer. But his labours were vain, and open war was declared between Frederick III and Matthias Corvinus.
The Emperor soon caused fresh trouble to the Pope. Instead of the distinguished embassy which had been expected, men of so little consequence appeared on his behalf that Pius II at once dismissed them, requiring him to send personages fitted by their rank, to represent him worthily at the assembly and have a decisive voice in its deliberations. On the nth June, Pius II again addressed the Emperor. “We have learned”, he says, “that our beloved son in Christ, the illustrious King of France, is negotiating with your Highness for the transfer of the present Congress of Mantua to some place in Germany. If this be the case the labour will be lost, for as we have left our Apostolic Chair and come a distance of two hundred and fifty miles, not without great personal inconvenience, to meet your Highness and the other Christian Princes, it is right that they also should leave their courts, and at the summons of the Vicar of Christ, have the affairs of the Faith laid before them and consider their duty. We beg your Highness to give no encouragement to such suggestions”.
On the 6th July, Pius II admonished the Emperor in view of the complaints which might be expected from the Hungarian Envoys, quickly to appoint suitable representatives. Finally, the Pontiff sent him a blessed sword and hat to remind him of his duty. All, however, was in vain. The autumn arrived and no Imperial mission was yet in sight. The German Princes were not more zealous than their Head; repeatedly and in vain were they summoned, and when, after considerable delay, some came or sent Envoys, it was not on account of the Turks or of the Faith, but from merely selfish motives.
“Day and night”, wrote the Pope on the 11th June to Cardinal Carvajal, “We are unwearied in exhorting the Christian Princes and powers to unite for the salvation of Christendom. We shall not cease to labour to the end; We shall neglect nothing that seems to be pleasing to God and Our duty, hoping that the Divine goodness will not permit our efforts to be fruitless”. Pius II certainly was not wanting in zeal, but all his eloquence did not avail to rouse the German Princes from their lethargy.
Worse even than the indifference of Germany was the hostile attitude of France, the second of the great Powers of Christendom. Ever since Ferrante’s investiture with Naples, the French King, Charles VII, who favoured the pretensions of Anjou, had constantly aimed at reversing this act. He hoped to attain his object by making his cooperation in the Crusade conditional on a change in the Italian policy of Pius II. The King next manifested his discontent by answering the Pope’s letter of invitation by a “significant menace”, reminding him of the anti-Roman Assembly of Bourges, and then, in spite of all exhortations, delaying as long as possible in sending his Envoys. No one at the Papal Court doubted that violent dissensions were to be expected when they arrived.
The Republics of Florence and Venice used the Neapolitan difficulties as a cloak to cover that aversion to the war which was really due to their mercantile interests. Pius II ceased not to exhort them both by messengers and by Briefs. On the 14th of May, when at Bologna, he had again called upon the Florentines to send Envoys to the Congress, invested with full powers. On the 1st and on the 12th June the same request was repeated from Mantua, but in vain. Accordingly, on the 28th July, another letter was addressed to Florence. It proved as ineffectual as its predecessors. On the 16th of August, Pius II complained that the Florentines, although so near to the city where the Congress was to meet, had not yet sent any representatives. He had, he said, waited for eighty days; his patience was now exhausted, and, if this last summons should remain unheeded, he would be compelled to bring a public accusation against Florence.
Meanwhile, living witnesses to the danger which threatened from the East had arrived in Mantua. Messengers imploring succour came from Epirus, Cyprus, Rhodes, and Lesbos, together with Envoys from the hard-pressed Thomas Palaeologus. These latter, who brought the Pope sixteen Turkish captives, declared, with true Byzantine boastfulness, that a small army of assistance from Italy would suffice to drive the Turks from the Peninsula! When the matter was discussed in Consistory, the Pope justly observed that so small a force would be utterly insufficient. Only the representations of the enthusiastic and unpractical Bessarion induced him to grant the troops, a third part of which were furnished by the Duchess of Milan. The event proved the Pope to have been right. The Crusaders arrived in time to assist Thomas in a fresh and fruitless siege of Patras, and then dispersed and scattered themselves over the unhappy land, plundering and devastating as they went.
The representatives of Matthias Corvinus reached Mantua in the end of July, and were received as Royal Envoys. They had been preceded by messengers from the King of Bosnia asking for assistance, and then the alarming tidings had come that the important fortress of Smedervo, at the junction of the Morawa with the Danube, was in the hands of the infidels. “There is nothing now”, said the Pope, “to prevent the Turks from attacking Hungary”.
For eleven weeks Pius II waited, but as yet none of the European sovereigns had arrived, and of the Italian Princes the King of Naples alone had sent representatives. There was no prospect of a commencement of business. In order to avoid vexatious disputes, such as had already broken out among the members of the Court, the Pope, on the 15th August, issued a proclamation to the effect that the order of precedence adopted in the Assembly should not prejudicially affect any future claims on that point.
At last, in the middle of August, to the great relief of Pius II a brilliant Embassy from the powerful Duke of Burgundy made its entry into Mantua. The Duke, indeed, did not appear in person as he had promised, but in his stead he sent his nephew, Duke John of Cleves, and Jean de Croix, the Lord of Chimay, with a retinue of 400 horse. The Marquess of Mantua, with an equally splendid suite, and several of the Cardinals, went forth to greet Duke John, who, on the following clay, appeared before the Pope in Consistory. Jean Jouffroy, Bishop of Arras, who accompanied the Duke, made a speech in which he excused his master’s absence, and gave assurances of his readiness to take part in the defence of Christendom. The little importance to be attached to these professions became evident during the ensuing days, when negotiations were entered on in detail. The Duke of Cleves declared that he could not enter upon Turkish affairs until the Pope had complied with his wish in regard to the affair of Soest. Pius II yielded, but gained no thanks by his concession. The Envoys then explained that their master had only agreed to cooperate in the Crusade if some other of the Princes first set the example, and the Pope had to content himself with a promise that the Duke would send 2000 horsemen and 4000 foot soldiers to the relief of Hungary. The Duke of Cleves now wished to return home, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the Pope induced him to defer his departure until the 6th, and afterwards until the 10th September, when the Duke of Milan and Borso d'Este were to arrive. As, however, to the Pope's great annoyance, the latter retracted his promise, and Francesco Sforza again postponed his arrival, Duke John refused to wait any longer. The Lord of Chimay, who was suffering much from fever, also left Mantua. “With difficulty the Pope detained two subordinate members of the Embassy, so that Burgundy might not be altogether unrepresented. For several days he was nearly alone with the members of his Court and the Eastern Envoys. Three months had now passed since the day appointed for the opening of the Assembly, and with the exception of the Imperial Embassy which Pius II had sent back, the Burgundian Mission which he had been unable to detain, and some unimportant Envoys from certain Bishops and Cities who were carrying on business of their own at the Court, no representatives had appeared, save those sent by Ferrante of Naples”.
A change for the better took place in the latter part of September, when Francesco Sforza, after repeated invitations from the Pope, at last came in person to the Congress. He arrived in the Mincio with forty-seven ships; the Marquess of Mantua, and his Consort Barbara, with twenty-two vessels, went some way out to meet him. A Mantuan chronicler gives a vivid description of the approach of this magnificent fleet to the City. The Duke and his sumptuous retinue excited universal admiration. On the following day he went with great pomp to the Pope. Pius II received him in open Consistory and assigned him a seat immediately after the Cardinal Deacons. The Humanist Filelfo made a speech; he promised that his master would, at the Pope’s command, devote all his energies to the war against the Infidel, “as far as the state of Italy permitted”. This last point was warmly discussed in the private interviews which took place on the ensuing days between the Duke and the Pope. Neapolitan affairs formed the subject of consideration.
The party opposed to Ferrante, headed by Giovanni Antonio degli Orsini, the tyrannical Prince of Taranto, had, even as early as the commencement of 1459, begun to agitate against the King. Pius II had at once done his best to meet the danger which thus threatened the peace of Italy. But the Prince of Taranto never rested until, in August, an open insurrection against Ferrante broke out. Jean, the son of René, the French claimant, was summoned to support the rising, and assumed the title of Duke of Calabria. The success of this chivalrous Prince in Naples would have given Sforza reason to fear a similar attack from Orleans on the Duchy which he had won with no small difficulty, and his title to which had not yet been recognized by the Emperor. Moreover, French influence would have become predominant in Italy, and a death-blow been struck at its existing political constitution. In view of the opposition of France to the Crusade, Sforza had no difficulty in inducing Pius II to support Ferrante.
The immediate effect of the presence of the most distinguished of Italian Princes at Mantua was to induce most of the other States of the Peninsula to send representatives. Almost every day witnessed a fresh arrival. The Sienese Envoys, writing on the 25th September, were able to describe the beautiful city of Mantua as adorned by the presence of many Prelates, many Lords, Ambassadors and Courtiers. Even the Venetians at last made up their minds to send a mission. This determination was arrived at after long and animated discussions. The most influential personages in the city opposed the Crusade from purely commercial considerations, because it threatened to put a stop to their profitable trade with Turkey. The Doge, Pasquale Malipiero, “a great friend of peace, a lover of good cheer, and of the fair sex”, kept up very amicable relations with the Sultan. Efforts had at first been made to put the Pope off with fair promises; at last, after repeated importunities on his part, on the 29th July, Orsato Giustiniani and Luigi Foscarini were chosen to represent the Republic at the Congress. All through the month of August their departure was delayed in the hope that Pius II would be wearied out by procrastination and disappointments. As early as the 3rd August he had exhorted the Doge to send the Envoys who had then just been elected. On the 25th of the same month he issued another Brief to the Venetians, complaining bitterly of their delay. He now adopted “a tone of reproach instead of one of supplication; it was whispered”, he said, “that the Venetians held more with the Turks than with the Christians, and were concerned for their trade, not for faith and religion”. At the same time Pius II declared his settled determination of beginning the business of the Congress on the 1st September. If Venice still tarried he would be constrained to complain publicly of the bad dispositions of the Republic. The Signoria, on the 3rd September, made answer that their representatives would without fail set out on the 15th. This promise was due to the appearance of the Duke of Milan at Mantua. A glance at the instructions given to the Ambassadors reveals the real purpose of the Republic: “They are only to give a general promise, that if the Christian Princes unite their forces in a common expedition against the infidels, Venice will do her duty”. On the evening of the 23rd September, the Venetian Envoys, escorted by 500 horsemen, made their entry into Mantua with great pomp. The whole Court and all the Princes who were there, including even the Duke of Milan, went forth to meet them. On the following day they were received in public Consistory. Foscarini promised great things if the expedition against the Turks were taken up by all the Christian powers in union. “It was evident that this condition would furnish a ready pretext for evading an engagement which was only made because it could not be avoided. How could it be expected that all nations without exception would join in this expedition?”. The Pope in his reply pointed out the difficulty of this condition. He also could not refrain from reproaching the Venetians for being, although the nearest to Mantua, the last to appear there. In all else he commended the good intentions of the Republic.
At last, on the 26th September, four months after the arrival of the Pope, it was possible to hold the first sitting of the Congress. The assembly was to meet in the Cathedral. After a Mass of the Holy Ghost had been said, the Pope rose, and, in a carefully considered discourse, which lasted two hours, explained the necessity and the object of a general crusade, the means by which its success might be assured, and the reward which awaited those who should take part in it.
Pius II began his address with a prayer, and then proceeded in eloquent terms to describe the losses which Christendom had suffered at the hands of the unbelievers. “The Holy Land flowing with milk and honey, the soil which brought forth the Saviour, the temple of Solomon, in which He so often preached, Bethlehem, where He was born, the Jordan, wherein He was baptized, the Mount of the Transfiguration, Calvary, whereon His Precious Blood was shed, the Sepulchre, in which His Sacred Body had rested, all have long been in the hands of our enemies; without their permission we cannot look upon these Holy places. But these are ancient losses; let us turn to what has happened in our own days and through our own fault. We ourselves, and not our fathers, have allowed Constantinople, the chief city of the East, to be conquered by the Turks, and while we sit at home in slothful ease, they are pressing on to the Danube and the Save. In the royal city of the East they have slain the successor of Constantine and his people, desecrated the temples of the Lord, defiled the noble church of Justinian with their Mahometan abominations. They have destroyed the images of the Mother of God and of the Saints, cast down altars, thrown the relics of the Martyrs to the swine, killed the priests, dishonoured wives and daughters, even consecrated virgins, and murdered the nobles of the city. At the Sultan’s banquet, the image of our crucified Redeemer was dragged through the mire and spat upon, while they shouted: ‘This is the God of the Christians!’. All these things have been done before our eyes, yet we remain as it were asleep, though indeed we are alert enough in fighting among ourselves. Christians fly to arms and shed each other’s blood for any trifle, but no one will raise a hand against the Turks who blaspheme our God, who destroy our Churches, and seek utterly to root out the Christian name. Truly, ‘all have turned from the way; they are become unprofitable together; there is none that doth good, no, not one!’. People say, indeed, that these things are past and cannot be undone, that now we shall have peace; but can we expect peace from a nation which thirsts for our blood, which has already planted itself in Hungary, after having subjugated Greece? Lay aside these infatuated hopes. Mahomet will never lay down his arms until he is either wholly victorious or completely vanquished. Each success will be only a stepping-stone to the next until he has mastered all the Western Monarchs, overthrown the Christian Faith, and imposed the law of his false prophet on the whole world”.
After showing that in the populous countries of the West it was possible to levy forces amply sufficient to cope with the Turks, he concludes by exclaiming: “Oh, that Godfrey, Baldwin, Eustace, Hugh, Boemund, Tancred, and those other brave men who reconquered Jerusalem, were here! Truly they would not need so many words to persuade them. They would stand up and shout as they did of old before Our predecessor Urban II: ‘God wills it! God wills it!’. You wait in silence and unmoved for the end of Our discourse. And it may be that there are some among you who say: ‘This Pope exhorts us to fight, and expose our lives to the sword of the enemy; that is the way of priests. They lay heavy burdens on others, and will not themselves touch them with a finger’. Do not believe it, my Sons! No one who, within the memory of your fathers, has occupied this chair has done more for the faith of Christ than We, with your help and the grace of God, will do. We have come here, weak enough, as you see, not without bodily risk, and not without detriment to the States of the Church. We have deemed the defence of the Faith of more value than the Patrimony of St. Peter, than our own health and repose. Oh, had We but the youthful vigour of former days, you should not go without us into battle or into danger. We ourselves would bear the Cross of our Lord; We would uphold the banner of Christ against the infidel, and would think ourselves happy if it were given to us to die for the Faith. And now, if it seems well to you, We will not hesitate to devote our sickly body and our weary soul to Christ the Lord in this holy enterprise. Gladly, if you advise it, will We be borne in our litter into the camp, and into the battlefield itself. Go and take counsel, and see what may be most profitable to the Christian cause. We do not deal in fine words, hiding a cowardly heart. We will hold nothing back, neither person nor goods”.
Bessarion, the one among the Cardinals who had always taken the most lively interest in Oriental affairs, answered in the name of the Sacred College. He began by praising the Pope, and declaring that the Cardinals were well inclined for the Holy War. In a discourse amply garnished with Christian and classical allusions, he described the deeds of horror perpetrated by the Turks, and the danger which threatened religion, concluding by calling upon all Christian Princes and nations, for whom our Lord had shed His blood, to take up arms against the infidels with full confidence in the help of God.
The Ambassadors now all expressed their adhesion, and Francesco Sforza also declared himself ready to comply with the Pope’s wishes. The Bishop of Trieste, who acted as the Emperor’s representative, kept silence, even when the Hungarian Ambassadors made bitter complaints against Frederick III. Pius II rebuked them for this unseemly introduction of their private quarrels. At last the Assembly unanimously resolved on war against the Turks. For the carrying out of this determination, the Pope adopted the “only expedient possible” under the existing circumstances. He did not again call the Congress together, but treated with each of the several nations separately.
The first consultation was with the Italians, and took place on the 27th September. The Duke of Milan, the Marquess of Mantua, and the Marquess of Montferrat, the Lord of Rimini, Sigismondo Malatesta, the Envoys of the King of Naples, and those of the King of Aragon, as ruler of Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia, with the representatives of Venice, Florence, Siena, Ferrara, Lucca, and Bologna, were present. After some introductory remarks from the Pope, the details of the expedition came under consideration. In regard to the operations by sea, the Venetian Envoys, though they only took part in the Council as private individuals, were given a decisive voice. For the prosecution of the war on land, Francesco Sforza recommended that the best soldiers from the countries nearest to Turkey should be chosen, because they had most knowledge of the enemy, while Italy and the more distant countries should contribute only money. All present agreed to this, except Sigismondo Malatesta. “I also”, replied Pius II, with his usual tactful consideration for the susceptibilities of his fellow-countrymen, “should advocate the choice of Italian soldiers, whose prowess in the field is unsurpassed, were any other nation capable of furnishing pecuniary aid. But Italy alone can do this, and therefore the other nations must provide men and ships, that all the burden may not fall on one. We must also consider that it would be difficult for us to call on our captains to fight in a foreign country. Here war is carried on with no danger to life, and for high pay. With the Turks the strife is deadly, and the reward rather in the next world than in this. We, therefore, advise that for three years the clergy shall contribute the tenth, the laity the thirtieth, and the Jews the twentieth part of their income to the support of the war”.
The representatives of Venice and Florence, the States which had the largest resources at their command, raised the greatest objections to this proposal. Both of these Republics leaned to the side of France, which maintained the claims of Anjou on Naples, and were accordingly already ill-inclined towards the Pope; but the narrow and selfish policy of these mercantile States, which considered nothing but their own commercial interests, was the chief cause of their opposition to the war.
On the 30th September the representatives of the Italian powers again assembled. The Pope insisted that all present should, with their own hands, sign the decree regarding the tenth, twentieth and thirtieth part. None but the Venetian Envoys openly refused to comply with his desire. The attitude of the Florentines was doubtful, but it was believed that they would follow the example of the Venetians. Pius II, however, succeeded in making a secret agreement with them; but all his efforts to win Venice were in vain. This State continued to pursue its ancient policy of laying down impossible conditions. It claimed the sole command of the naval forces, the possession of all the spoil that might be acquired, indemnification for all expenses; 8000 men for service on its ships, and a maintenance of an army of 50,000 horse and 20,000 foot on the Hungarian frontier. The Pope could not conceal his anger at the conduct of this great power, which might have been expected to take the foremost place in the enterprise. “You demand impossibilities”, he is said to have exclaimed. “Your Republic has, indeed, degenerated. Once it prepared a magnificent fleet for the defence of the Faith, and now it cannot furnish a single ship. You have fought well for your allies and subjects against the Pisans and Genoese, against Emperor and King; and now, when you ought to fight for Christ against the Infidels, you want to be paid. If arms were given to you, you would not take them. You only raise one difficulty after another in order to prevent the war, but if you succeed, you will be the first to suffer”. All was in vain; the Venetian Envoys remained inflexible.
The representatives of the Polish monarch afforded little satisfaction to the Pope; a profusion of words took the place of actual offers of assistance, and all his concessions failed to bring about a better state of feeling.
The results as yet obtained were small enough, but those who surrounded the Pope deemed them sufficient to justify a return to Rome, for Pius II could not consider his task accomplished while many Envoys and Princes from France as well as from Germany were still expected.
The Duke of Milan bade farewell to the Pope on the 2nd of October. He was, as he informed his wife, so busy during his last days at Mantua that he had scarcely time to eat. He left the city on the 3rd of the month.
At length, before the end of the month, the representatives of Duke Louis of Savoy arrived. Notwithstanding all the Pope's exhortations, this Prince, whose sympathies were French, had delayed so long that the consultations with the Italian Envoys had already been concluded. On the 19th October, when at last the Envoys appeared, Pius II received them in a public Consistory, and in his address expressed his dissatisfaction in severe terms, almost amounting to a reprimand. In the afternoon he left Mantua to pay a visit to the Church of Sta. Maria delle Grazie. This venerable sanctuary lies on the other side of the lake, five miles to the west of the City. He spent four days in the adjacent convent; on the Sunday he said Mass in the Chapel of the Miraculous Picture, and granted an Indulgence to all the faithful who should visit the church and receive Holy Communion there on the first Sunday of October.
On his return to Mantua, where his absence had been kept secret, Pius II encountered fresh mortifications. The first German Embassy that appeared was that of the Archduke Albert of Austria, and its mouthpiece was Gregor Heimburg, who, with his wonted coarseness, laid himself out to annoy and insult the Pope. At the audience accorded to him on the 29th October, he did not even uncover his head, and the tone of his speech was sneering and contemptuous. On two other occasions Heimburg spoke in the Pope’s presence, once in the name of Duke William of Saxony, and again in that of Duke Sigismund of the Tyrol, who, himself, came in person on the 10th November. In the last of these discourses he had the insolence to remind Pius II of the love-letters which, as Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, he had composed for the youthful Sigismund.
The appearance of the Tyrolese Duke in Mantua was not due to the Turkish question, but merely to a private dispute with Cardinal Cusa, who had already betaken himself to the Pope.
The Envoys from France and Germany, who appeared in the latter part of November, displayed no more zeal than their predecessors. The fact that the representatives of these great powers, who ought to have been the first to answer the Pope’s summons, did not come until the end of the Congress was in itself sufficiently strange. It would have been well if even then they had manifested some goodwill towards the great cause which filled the soul of the Pope.
The dislike of Charles VII of France, to the Crusade, was evinced by the efforts made by his Envoys in Venice to dissuade the Republic from taking part in it. In Mantua they pursued the same course. On the 14th November they reached the city simultaneously with the Envoys of King René and of the Duke of Brittany.
Soon afterwards came the Margrave Charles of Baden, and the Bishops of Eichstatt and Trent. In the first audience granted to the French on the 21st November, they did homage, and everything passed quietly. Pius II in the discourse which he addressed to them insisted on the plenitude of the Papal power. No one, he said, was to imagine that the authority of Councils could limit the power which God Himself had established in the throne of St. Peter. To oppose to it the opinions of any body of men, however learned, was wholly inadmissible, and had been condemned by the Council of Florence. All Catholic Princes are subject to the Roman Church.
The deliberations on the Neapolitan affairs demanded by the Envoys took place on the 30th November. Those of King René and of the Genoese were present, also the Margrave of Baden, not, however, in his character of Imperial Ambassador. The Dukes of Brittany and Savoy were represented, but no one appeared on behalf of Burgundy or of Venice. Sigismund of the Tyrol did not take part in the audience. To the great regret of the Pope he suddenly left Mantua just before it, without having settled his dispute with Cusa. The spokesman of the French Embassy began by an enthusiastic eulogy of the “nation of the Lily” and its King, whose right to Naples he sought to establish, and then bitterly attacked the Pope’s Italian policy. Ferrante’s investiture was a wrong to the Royal House of France, and the refusal to allow Piccinino to pass through the Papal States an act of injustice. Finally, he demanded that Pius II should cancel all that he had done in Ferrante’s favour, and confer Naples on King Rene. The Pope, who listened with much patience to the discourse, answered in a few words. Hitherto, he informed them, in dealing with questions of this kind he had always acted in conjunction with the Sacred College, and from this practice he did not mean to depart. At the same time he requested the French to present their claims in writing, as was usual at the Papal Court.
On the following day Pius II received the representatives of the Emperor and the other German powers, and at a later hour those of the Duke of Brittany; the latter were especially praised, because their master had repudiated the Pragmatic Sanction, and adhered faithfully to the Holy See. After this the Pope sent word that he was ill.
The French now gave in their proposals in writing. The speech in which Pius II replied is a masterpiece of its kind. He would not deny, he said, at the beginning of a discourse which took three hours to deliver, that he was a sinner, but he had yet to be convinced that he had done any injustice to France. France had done much for the Church, but the Church had also done much for France. They required impossibilities. He could not remove the Archbishop of Genoa without transgressing the Canon Law, according to which bishops might not be translated against their will without trial. What had been done in Naples was in accordance with reason and justice. Going back to the past, he urged, in defence of the changeable policy of his predecessors, the necessities of the times, and justified his own action by the force of circumstances. It was not he who had excluded the French from Lower Italy; he had found them already shut out. The Aragonese claimant had been acknowledged by the Barons at Capua; not a single voice was then raised in favour of René. The chief powers of Italy, Venice, Milan and Florence begged us to grant investiture to Ferrante; had we refused them, the Church was threatened with a dangerous war. We could only have supported the Duke of Calabria if he had been on the spot, and as powerful as his rival. Therefore, in consideration of the danger to the States of the Church, and in view of the most necessary war with the Turks, we determined to grant investiture to Ferrante; his coronation was a necessary consequence of this step which we were compelled to take. The Pope further maintained, that he had never injured King Rene, but had been repeatedly injured and deceived by him; above all he had been greatly distressed by the dispatch of a fleet against Naples during this very Congress, and the consequent disturbance of the peace of Italy.
It was impossible to cancel all that had been granted to Ferrante in favour of Rene without giving the former a hearing. The Pope had not deprived René of anything, or even denied his right to the throne. How could he now dispossess Ferrante until his cause had been heard? If a legal decision were desired, the sword must be sheathed. He would be a just judge.
In regard to the other demand of a free passage through the States of the Church for Piccinino, Pius II insisted on the untrustworthiness of the promises given by such mercenary chiefs. He solemnly declared it to be the duty of Christians, in presence of the danger threatened by the Turks, to preserve peace among themselves. On no condition would he permit the Neapolitan difference to be settled by war. If an appeal to arms were resorted to in this case there was reason to fear that the whole of Italy might become involved. This was the ardent desire of the Turks. But it was the duty of the French, formerly such powerful champions of the Catholic Faith, now to help in attacking the enemy. The French Monarch, called by universal consent the Most Christian King, had a great task before him, and the Pope awaited suitable proposals from his Ambassadors.
At the conclusion of his discourse, the Pope spoke of his desire that the French nation should be blameless. This, however, could not be the case until the stain of the Pragmatic Sanction was effaced. By this measure the authority of the Holy See was impaired, the power of religion weakened, the Church robbed of her freedom and universality. Laymen were constituted judges of the clergy. The Bishop of Rome, whose cure extends over the whole world, and is not bounded by any ocean, is only allowed in France such jurisdiction as it pleases the Parliament to grant him. “If we let this continue”, said the Pontiff, “we destroy the liberty and unity of the Church, and turn her into a many-headed monster. The King has not indeed perceived this; it must be pointed out to him, that he may abandon this course, and really merit the name of Most Christian”.
The French Envoys in a private audience made a feeble reply. Their chief endeavour was to justify the action of their King in regard to the Pragmatic Sanction; they again recommended their petitions to the consideration of the Holy Father.
The audiences of the representatives of King René and the Duke of Calabria gave rise to somewhat stormy encounters. The former desired to issue a protest against the adverse attitude of the Pope in regard to the investiture, and Pius II threatened, if they adopted this course, to proceed against them as heretics. “But the full vials of his wrath were poured out upon the Envoys of the Duke of Calabria, who had carried off the fleet destined to attack the Turks from Marseilles, and begun the disturbances in Italy. The Pope received them with angry looks, and would hardly listen to their address”.
The real object of the Congress was thus thrust into the background by the Neapolitan question. When Pius II again insisted upon it, and plainly asked the French Envoys what assistance their King meant to give, they answered that it was useless to discuss this matter so long as the war between France and England continued. When the Pope expressed his intention of summoning an assembly to arrange these differences, they replied that the initiative must rest with their King. They also declined to furnish even a small body of troops. The representatives of Genoa and of King Rene spoke, as was to be expected, in the same sense. Envoys at last arrived from England, “but they came rather with a view of finding some remedy for the unhappy condition of their country than with the intention of doing anything for the cause of Christendom”.
Notwithstanding his frequent disappointments, the Pope still cherished some hope of better success with the Germans. But here also disunion reigned supreme. “The representatives of the Emperor could not come to an agreement with those of the Electors and Princes, nor the latter with each other or with the Envoys of the cities”.
These dissensions were zealously fomented by Gregor Heimburg. With a mind soured by disappointment, and steeped in the ideas of the Council of Basle, he raged equally against both Pope and Emperor. Pius II, therefore, must have greatly rejoiced when, on the 19th of December, the Germans came to an agreement with each other, which had at least a show of sincerity, although in reality the strife was merely postponed. The contingent of 32,000 infantry and 10,000 horse, formerly promised to Nicholas V, was granted. The details were to be arranged with the Apostolic Legates in two diets, one of which was to be held in Nuremberg and the other in Austria, in order to settle the dispute between the Emperor and Hungary.
On the following day letters of invitation were sent to all the Princes and States of the Empire. The Pope, in the most pressing terms, urged them to appoint Envoys with full powers. The diet at Nuremberg was to be held on Invocavit Sunday, 2nd March, and that at the Emperor’s Court on Judica Sunday, 30th March. Similar summonses were issued on the 21st January 1460, in the name of Frederick III.
The thorny post of German Legate was confided to Cardinal Bessarion. The Emperor, by a Bull of the 12th January, 1460, was appointed commander of the German Crusading army, and if unable personally to take part in the expedition, he was empowered to appoint a German Prince to take his place.
The Pope made it very evident that he wished this post conferred on the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg, who, to his great joy, had arrived in Mantua at the end of 1459. Pius II had always had great confidence in the military capacity of this Prince, and now showered praises and presents upon him. The German “Achilles” saw his opportunity, and while flattering to the utmost the fancies of the Pope, sedulously applied himself to obtaining Bulls from him curtailing the jurisdiction of the Bishops of Wurzburg and Bamberg, and enabling him to gain a firmer footing in Franconia.
On the 14th January, special Collects composed for the occasion were introduced in the High Mass celebrated by the Pope. At its conclusion the Bull ordaining a three years’ crusade against the Turks was published. It was decreed that on every Sunday during Holy Mass the Divine assistance should be invoked for the Christian arms. A Plenary Indulgence was granted to everyone who, for the space of eight months, should personally take part in the expedition. The same Indulgence was granted to all convents and religious communities which should maintain for eight months, at their own expense, one soldier for every ten of their members.
The necessary Decrees for obtaining the pecuniary resources required for the Holy War were issued simultaneously with this Bull. The Holy See “itself led the way with a good example”. The whole Papal Court, that is to say, all officials paid by the Holy See and out of the Papal treasury, were required, like the rest of the clergy, to contribute a tithe of their income. The laity, especially those in Italy, were to pay a thirtieth, and the Jews a twentieth part. Collectors were appointed in great numbers to gather in the money.
In his farewell discourse Pius II again summed up the results of the Assembly; he looked upon them as far from satisfactory, yet not altogether hopeless. He then closed the Congress with a solemn prayer: “Almighty, eternal God, who hast deigned to redeem the human race by the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, and to raise the world which was sunk in darkness to the light of the Gospel, grant, we beseech Thee, that the Christian Princes and nations may so valiantly take up arms against the Turks and all the other enemies of the Cross, that they may be victorious, to the Glory of Thy Name”.
On the 19th January, 1460, the Pope left Mantua for Siena, his feeble health making a season of rest absolutely necessary after the labours and agitations of the Congress.
A short time before his departure, Pius II had published an important Bull in defense of the monarchical constitution of the Church. It was directed against the custom of appealing from the Pope to a general Council, which was an outcome of the false teaching regarding the supremacy of Councils, and which still prevailed, notwithstanding the prohibition of Martin V. Under Calixtus III, the clergy of Rouen and the University of Paris appealed against the levy of the Turkish tithes. It was to be expected that such appeals, which had always been the war-cry of the opposition, would now be repeated in connection with a similar question.
Pius II said that the continuation of this practice “must end in the complete degradation of the Papal authority and the dissolution of all ecclesiastical orders. It was in itself an absurdity to appeal to a non-existent judge, to a tribunal which, even if the decrees of the Council of Constance were literally carried out, would meet only once in ten years”. Accordingly, with the consent of the Cardinals, he renewed for the future, under pain of excommunication, the prohibitions of previous Popes and denounced all such appeals as had already-been made.
THE CONTEST FOR THE NEAPOLITAN THRONE.
While Pius II was seeking to unite the Christian Princes against Islam, the dispute in Italy between the houses of Anjou and Aragon had broken out into open war. King Charles VII. of France espoused the Angevine party, and made over to King Rene for the expedition against Ferrante of Naples, the twenty-four galleys which Cardinal Alain had collected for the Turkish war. In the beginning of October 1459, René’s son, Duke John of Calabria, appeared before Naples with these ships. His hope that an insurrection would break out against the King, who was absent in Calabria, was disappointed. Accordingly he sailed back and landed at the mouth of the Volturno. This was the signal for a general rising against Ferrante under the leadership of the ancient Angevine party and the most powerful of the feudal lords, and the cause of the house of Aragon seemed lost.
Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, strenuously opposed the pretensions of the Angevines. Clearly perceiving that the success of the French in Italy, and their establishment in Naples, must destroy the political independence of the Peninsula, he induced the Pope to take Ferrante’s part. Florence and Venice professed neutrality; on the other hand, the Condottiere, Jacopo Piccinino, managed to elude the Papal Legate and Federigo of Urbino, and march southwards along the coast to assist the insurgents.
Military operations began in the spring of 1460. The Milanese forces were commanded by Alessandro, Francesco’s brother, and the Papal troops by Simonetto. When the Duke of Calabria approached the city of Nola, Ferrante, with the army of the Pope, advanced to meet him. On the 7th July the Neapolitan king having rashly attacked the enemy, who was encamped in the little town of Sarno, a few miles from the capital, was completely defeated. His troops were for the most part taken prisoners, and he himself escaped with but twenty horsemen to Naples. Almost all the chiefs, and most of the cities of the Campagna, with the exception of Naples, joined the Angevine party.
Had the enemies of Ferrante been more united among themselves, and more energetic, the consequences of the victory at Sarno might have been far more serious than they were. As it was, the King, who was powerfully supported by Milan, found time to recover his strength.
At the end of July a sharp encounter also took place in the north. On the 22nd of the month, at San Fabiano, not far from Ascoli, Piccinino attacked the army commanded by Alessandro Sforza and Federigo of Urbino, and a sharp engagement ensued. Neither side could claim the victory, but eventually Alessandro and Federigo were obliged to retreat.
Pius II, who had been at the baths of Macerata and Petriolo to seek relief from his old enemy the gout, was at Siena when he received the evil tidings. As early as May, King René had sent an unsuccessful embassy to induce the Pope, by threats of insurrection in Avignon and an appeal to a Council, to abandon the cause of Ferrante. But the unfortunate issue of the battles at Sarno and San Fabiano so alarmed Pius II that he began to waver. He seems even to have thought of “yielding to the pressure of the French and forsaking Ferrante”. The representations of the Duke of Milan, who “had the most urgent interest in this war”, and the concessions of Ferrante, held the Pope in this critical moment to his agreement. Ferrante not only made over the little city of Castiglione della Pescaja, in Tuscany, and the island of Giglio to the Pope’s nephew, Andrea, but also renounced his claim to Terracina. After the battle of Sarno, a party adverse to the French interest had there arisen which besought the protection of the Church. Pius II upon this sent his nephew Antonio, who occupied this important city, which was the key of the Campagna. The King of Naples and Francesco Sforza were both equally dissatisfied with this proceeding, but they were compelled to submit if they wished to retain the alliance of Pius II. The Pope won the goodwill of the inhabitants by confirming their municipal constitution and other privileges, and acceding to their request that the Jews might be allowed to settle in their city, and enjoy its freedom and rights.
Meanwhile the strife in Naples was reacting most injuriously on Rome. As long as Nicholas of Cusa, who had been appointed Papal Vicar-General, remained in the city, all was quiet, a fact acknowledged with commendation in many of the Pope’s Briefs. Soon after his departure, however, we hear of riots and outrages, and the citizens anxiously desired the return of the Pope. In a Brief of February 1st, 1460, Pius again alludes to disturbances in Rome, and charges the Senators of the city to repress these “daily recurring scandals”. Contemporary chroniclers inform us that two bands of lawless youths had formed themselves in Rome, who were perpetually at war with each other, and had ended by establishing a veritable reign of terror. Rape, plunder, and murder were the order of the day. The municipal authorities did little or nothing to restore order, hoping that the continuance of this state of anarchy would induce Pius II to return. On the 30th March the Pope expressed to the Conservators his surprise that they could suffer these excesses to be perpetrated by the youth of the City; and informed them that if they expected by such means to force him to come back they were greatly mistaken. He might be moved by submission and obedience, but never by turbulence. The situation soon became so critical, that the Governor withdrew from the Vatican, and asked for military assistance, which Pius II at once granted.
In the month of May the troubles increased. It now appeared that the party of revolt in the city had warm supporters in the Savelli, the Colonna, and the Anguillara. “For these Barons again lifted their heads when the Neapolitan war broke out; they espoused the cause of Anjou, and entered into an alliance with Piccinino and Malatesta”. Jacopo Savelli afforded a secure asylum to the Roman banditti in Palombara, at the foot of Monte Gennara. On the 16th May a young Roman, surnamed, on account of his amorous propensities, the Innamorato, carried away a maiden who was about to be married; he was arrested for this offence, and delivered to the Senate. His friends at Palombara at once hastened to rescue him. The band was headed by Tiburzio and Valeriano di Maso, two brothers, who belonged to a family of conspirators. Their father, brother-in-law to Stefano Porcaro, had, together with his elder brother, been executed as principal accomplices in Porcaro’s plot. Tiburzio and Valeriano wished “to avenge these martyrs of liberty, to cast off the yoke of the priests, to restore the ancient Republic”. They fortified themselves in the Pantheon, laid the surrounding quarter under contribution, and never rested until they had procured the liberation of the Innamorato. As time went on, things got worse in the city, where the absence of the Pope, and his participation in the Neapolitan contest, caused great dissatisfaction. A new band was formed, and under the leadership of a certain Bonanno Specchio, committed all sorts of crimes. A tower near San Lorenzo in Lucina served as a hiding-place for these rebels, who when driven hence by the Pope’s nephew, Antonio, fortified themselves in the Capranica Palace. Here they spent their days in revelry, and at night sallied forth to plunder. Tiburzio was their king.
On hearing of these disorders, Pius II seriously thought of returning to Rome. The city continued unquiet, even after Tiburzio, at the request of some of the nobles, had gone back to Palombara. Unarmed citizens were maltreated in the open streets, women and maidens outraged, and a convent situated near the city completely sacked. The Pope now saw that his presence was the only remedy, and he resolved to put an end to these disturbances.
The beginning of September brought terrible tidings. Piccinino had burst into the Sabina, plundering and murdering as he went, and threatened, with the help of the Ghibelline Barons, to attack Rome, Cardinal Colonna had great difficulty in keeping Tivoli quiet, where the Ghibelline party supported Piccinino, whose troops, harboured by Jacopo Savelli in Palombara, from thence ravaged the surrounding country. “Confusion and terror reigned in Rome. From the walls and heights of the city, burning castles and villages were to be seen, and it was expected that the enemy would soon enter its gates. The party of revolt within was in communication with the Condottiere. Everso of Anguillara had resumed his raids, and Malatesta openly espoused the cause of Anjou”.
Meanwhile the Roman police arrested a certain Luca da Tozio, whose confessions “revealed the abyss of danger in all its depths to the Pope”. In the castle of St. Angelo, without being subjected to torture, he declared that Piccinino had been invited into the Roman territory by the Prince of Tarento, Everso of Anguillara, Jacopo Savelli and the Colonna, and that Tiburzio and his band were to open the gates of Rome to the Condottiere, after which the city was to be plundered, and the Pope’s nephew slain.
Ill though he was, the Pope, on receiving these tidings, resolved to start as soon as possible. After having prepared the way for peace between the contending parties in Orvieto, he set out and reached Viterbo on the 30th September. The Roman Envoys here awaited him and begged him to pardon the excesses of the Roman youths. “What city”, the Pope is said to have replied, “is freer than Rome? You pay no taxes, you bear no burdens, you occupy the most honourable posts, you sell your wine and corn at the price you choose, and your houses bring you in rich rents. And, moreover, who is your ruler? Is he a Count, Marquess, Duke, King or Emperor? No! one greater than all these, the Roman Pontiff, the successor of St, Peter, the Vicar of Christ. He it is who brings you glory and prosperity and attracts the wealth of the whole world to your gates”.
On the 4th October, Pius II started for Rome escorted by five hundred horsemen, sent at his urgent request by the Duke of Milan. On the 6th, to the great joy of the inhabitants, he entered the city. He at once summoned the Conservators and chief citizens, and, in a discourse lasting two hours, put before them the necessity of resisting John of Calabria, Piccinino, and the other authors of agitation.
The presence of the Pope produced a momentary calm, but the situation continued very perilous. In the middle of October a report was current to the effect that Piccinino was planning a last and decisive attack on Rome, and had secured the assistance of the Neapolitan Insurgents. In the same month Tiburzio destroyed himself by an act of foolhardiness. Bonanno Specchio, venturing into the city on the 29th October, fell into the hands of the police. Tiburzio immediately hastened from Palombara with fifteen companions, and called upon the Roman populace to rise. “It is too late”, was the reply. The agitators were as little prepared for this want of sympathy, as for the energetic opposition offered by the friends of order and the Papal soldiers. They sought safety in flight; a certain number succeeded in escaping, but Tiburzio was captured, together with five of his associates. On the scaffold he acknowledged that he had intended, with the help of the Ghibelline Barons and of Piccinino, to overthrow the Government of the Pope, and to plunder the rich merchants and Cardinals. Soothsayers had persuaded him that the power of the priests was to be overthrown that year; he did not ask for mercy, only for a speedy death. His companions expressed similar sentiments. The Pope forbade them to be tortured; but on the last day of October, Tiburzio, Bonanno Specchio, and six others, were hanged in the Capitol. “If in Porcaro the democratic movement had already degenerated to the level of Catiline, in Tiburzio and Valeriano, the heroes of 1460, it had sunk to that of mere brigandage”.
The position of Pius II, threatened as he was by Piccinino, was so precarious that he offered on fair conditions to make peace with Jacopo Savelli. Early in December a reconciliation with this “most audacious opponent” of the temporal power of the Pope seemed actually effected; but Piccinino again advanced with his troops, whereupon Savelli broke off the negotiations.
The misunderstandings between Alessandro Sforza and Federigo of Urbino, and the irritation of the former at the occupation of Terracina by the Pope, account for the fact that they did not pursue Piccinino “when he attacked the territory of the Church”. In the end, however, by their efforts he was induced to retire to the Abruzzi for the winter.
The French suffered a serious disaster in the spring of 1461. A revolution broke out in Genoa in the month of March; the French garrison was compelled to retire into the fortress, and was there besieged. Milan supported the revolutionists. King Rene, who himself came to the rescue, was completely defeated, and finally the fortress was taken.
This was a terrible blow to the Angevine party in the Kingdom of Naples. No decisive battle took place during the summer of 1461. Skanderbeg appeared in August, with between two and three thousand Albanians to support Ferrante in Apulia, but his undisciplined hordes only added to the general con fusion.
The Pope meanwhile was labouring earnestly for the restoration of peace in his own immediate neighbourhood. Rome was full of fear and excitement; the Palaces of the Cardinals were fortified and occupied by armed men. In March, 1461, eleven other members of Tiburzio’s band, who had ventured from Palombara to Rome, were executed. In May it was given out that the Pope intended to make a supreme effort to rid himself of Jacopo Savelli, who, in his own immediate neighbourhood, was constantly threatening him. Great apprehensions were entertained that this attempt might prove a failure, but Federigo of Urbino fully justified his reputation for generalship. By the beginning of July the whole of the Sabina was subdued; Savelli, shut up in Palombara, was compelled to capitulate. On the 10th he threw himself at the feet of the Pope, who received him graciously, and in consideration of his connection with the Colonna, granted peace on moderate terms.
Rome, however, still continued restless. If an ox was stolen, as Pius II told the Milanese Envoys, the people were all in commotion. At the end of July a plot to blow up the castle of St. Angelo was discovered. At the beginning of the following month, bearing arms within the City was severely punished. A fresh outbreak of disturbance occurred when the Pope, who had been ill ever since the spring, left Rome on the 21st July for Tivoli, to escape from the heat. The authorities had great difficulty in restoring order. The Envoy from Mantua relating these occurrences, expresses his fear that the Sicilian Vespers would be repeated in Rome. The citizens were utterly ungovernable. Mildness and severity were alike unavailing.
During his summer sojourn at Tivoli the Pope was not inactive. Considering the defenceless state of this City, which commanded the passes, he ordered a citadel to be built, and he also reformed its Franciscan Convent. Besides this he found time for scientific studies; he was then working at his description of Asia. He also frequently-sought refreshment for mind and body by making excursions in the beautiful neighbourhood.
The peace of the States of the Church was at this time disturbed not only by the Neapolitan war, but also by the hostile attitude of Sigismondo Malatesta. The despot of Rimini is not only the most horrible figure in the history of the early Renaissance, but “one of the most detestable rulers of any age. Bold, skilful, and frequently successful, he united the characteristics of the fox and the wolf, which Machiavelli holds to be necessary for the establishment of a tyranny”. He was withal a patron of learning and art, and himself a poet, philosopher, and scholar. But all this humanistic culture did not hinder Sigismondo from sinking to the lowest depths of moral depravity. There was no crime which this reckless heathen “had not committed, or at least was not deemed capable of committing. From jealousy or passion he murdered or put away two wives, and outside his own family circle his insatiable sensuality and cruelty drove him to commit the most horrible crimes”. His quarrel with Pius II dated from the peace to which the Pope had constrained him at Mantua. Sigismondo took advantage of the invasion of the States of the Church by Piccinino to resume possession of the territory which he had then surrendered. In November, 1460, Pius II had invoked the assistance of the Duke of Milan against him, and had also commenced legal proceedings.
On the 25th December he was excommunicated as a notorious criminal, and declared to have forfeited his dominions.
Heathen as he was, he merely mocked at the sentence, and jestingly asked whether excommunicated persons could still taste good wine and relish the pleasures of the table. The Pagan Humanism found a congenial soil in his depraved and defiant nature. He had already shown his contempt for the ceremonies of the Church. It is said that on one occasion, as he was returning from a banquet, he caused the holy water stoup of a church to be filled with ink. The unchristian temper of his mind was also exhibited in the extraordinary edifice to which his contemporaries gave the name of the “Temple of Malatesta”.
All historians of art agree in saying that the Church of San Francesco, when rebuilt according to the plan of Leon Battista Alberti in the newly-revived Classical style, had far more resemblance to a heathen temple than to a Christian church. The only difference, as a witty observer puts it, is that it was destined, not for the worship of Juno, Venus, or Minerva, but for that of Sigismondo’s mistress (afterwards his wife), the beautiful Isotta.
The profane character of the “Temple of Malatesta” was strikingly manifested in the interior, which was adorned with royal magnificence. “In all the marble tablets lavishly spread over the walls, scarcely a single Christian symbol, or figure from any saintly legend, is to be seen”. Of the numerous inscriptions but one has a doubtful reference to religion. The cross, the Christian symbol of victory, seems to be purposely avoided in the decoration. On the other hand “heathen allusions abound, and Isotta and Sigismondo appear as the presiding genii of the edifice, the divinities to be honoured in the temple”. On the balustrades, friezes, arches, vaults, everywhere the interlaced letters I (sotta) and Sigismondo), together with the arms and emblems of Malatesta, are introduced. Some of the inscriptions deify the builder as the Jupiter or the Apollo of Rimini. Diana, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, even Venus arising from the sea, together with almost all the other personages of the heathen Olympus, are portrayed in the Chapel of St. Jerome! The sarcophagus of Sigismondo, and the splendid monument of Isotta, which rests on two elephants, the armorial supporters of the Malatesta, are equally devoid of any Christian symbol. Isotta’s monument, erected in her lifetime, has an inscription in which the title of Diva is bestowed upon her! Many of the sculptures are illustrations of a love-poem addressed by Sigismondo to Isotta.
Certainly such an edifice as this fully merited the condemnation of Pius II, who says in his Memoirs that San Francesco at Rimini appeared to be a temple for heathen rather than for Christian worship.
The sympathies of the Duke of Milan were not altogether with the Pope’s expedition against Malatesta, for he would rather have seen all forces directed to the Neapolitan war. Pius II, however, was not to be deterred, and sent 5000 men, under the command of Bartolomeo Vitelleschi, Archbishop of Corneto, against the tyrant. The two armies met at Nidastore in the Marches, on the 2nd July, 1461. Sigismondo fought like a “furious bear”, and completely routed the Papal troops.
The Venetians rejoiced at the issue of this conflict, and took the opportunity of accepting from Sigismondo a mortgage on Monte Marciano. The Pope remonstrated, but without effect, for it was the policy of the Signoria “gradually to acquire territory on the coast”. Piccinino and the Prince of Tarento aided Sigismondo by sending him 16,000 ducats.
The defeat at Nidastore greatly alarmed the Pope, but did not dishearten him. He commanded the Legate of the Marches to collect more troops, and took Napoleone Orsini into his service. In August, 1461, he even seemed not indisposed to grant a truce to his enemy.
The position of Pius II was at this time most precarious. His finances were exhausted, his troops hardly sufficed to resist Sigismondo. The Duke of Milan fell seriously ill, and the French party at his Court used every effort to break the alliance with Naples. The Pope now began to say that “it was impossible for him longer to endure the complaints and grievances daily brought forward by the King of France, by most of the Prelates, and almost all the Court; he had exposed the Church to much danger on Ferrante's account, whose enemies were increasing in number like the heads of the Hydra; it would therefore be much better to be neutral and await the issue of the struggle, to take care of the States of the Church, and spend the money on the war with the Turks”. But Francesco Sforza stood firm, and the marriage of the Pope's nephew Antonio to Maria, the natural daughter of Ferrante, which took place late in the autumn, was a fresh tie binding him more closely to the house of Aragon. Antonio, who already bore the title of Duke of Sessa, was now made Chief Justice of the Kingdom and Duke of Amalfi.
In the following March (1462) a brilliant Embassy from Louis XI, the new King of France, arrived in Rome, and made fresh efforts to win over the Pope to the side of Anjou. After a short period of indecision, however, Pius II determined to adhere to his alliance with Ferrante.
The summer of the same year witnessed the close of the struggle which had so terribly devastated the Neapolitan kingdom. On the 18th August, 1462, Ferrante and Alessandro Sforza gained a decisive victory at Troja over Piccinino and John of Calabria. Its immediate result was that the Prince of Tarento made his peace with Ferrante. And this was the turning-point of the war.
As might have been anticipated, events now succeeded each other somewhat rapidly. In the autumn of the following year (1463), Piccinino entered the service of the victor for high pay. Aquila, “which had ever since 1460 displayed the banner of Anjou”, capitulated; at last Marzano, Duke of Sessa and Prince of Rossano, also yielded. The unfortunate Duke of Calabria fled in September, 1463, to Ischia. In the middle of October the Pope was able to recall his troops from Naples. On the death of the Prince of Tarento in the following month, Ferrante appropriated his treasure and his fiefs. There was no further hope for the house of Anjou, and in the spring of 1464, Duke John returned to Provence.
It has been already stated that Antonio Piccolomini had been invested by Ferrante with the Duchies of Sessa and Amalfi, in recognition of the assistance rendered by Pius II in the war with Anjou. The ambition of the Pope’s nephew was not, however, satisfied, and, with the help of his powerful patron, he succeeded in 1463 in also becoming Count of Celano.
His too great attachment to his relations is an often recurring blot on the Pontificate of Pius II. Laudomia, his sister, who had married Nanni Todeschini, had, besides Antonio, three other sons, named Andrea, Giacomo, and Francesco. Small fiefs were granted by the Pope to Andrea and Giacomo, and Francesco was in March, 1460, raised to the purple. Niccolo Forteguerri, a maternal kinsman of Pius II, was also promoted to the same dignity. “A crowd” of Sienese relations was introduced into the Prefectures of the States of the Church.
This favour was extended to the Sienese in general. The Pope clung with enthusiastic affection to the home of his youth, to the undulating hills, the orchards and vineyards which he has so gracefully described. He loved to dwell in the rural solitude of Corsignano, or in Siena, the city of castellated towers, which still retains many memorials of his frequent visits. The principal scenes of his eventful life are depicted in its Cathedral Library in the great historical frescoes of Pinturicchio.
Those who surrounded the Pope were “almost all Sienese, and of these Sienese the majority were Piccolomini”. His Maggiordomo was Alessandro de Miraballi-Piccolomini, also Prefect of Frascati from the year 1460. His special confidants were Jacopo Ammanati, created Cardinal in 1460, and Gregorio Lolli, the son of his aunt, Bartolomea; “but at any rate Pius II did not enrich his nephews at the expense of the States of the Church, and he observed the same discretion even after Malatesta had been subdued”.
At the very time when the fate of the house of Anjou was decided at Troja, fortune also turned against Sigismondo. In the spring of 1462, Pius II had plainly manifested his intention of inflicting exemplary punishment on the tyrant. In two different parts of Rome his effigy, a speaking likeness from the hand of Paolo Romano, was burned, an inscription in these words being affixed to it: “This is Sigismondo Malatesta, king of traitors, enemy of God and man, condemned to the fire by the decision of the Sacred College”. Sigismondo not only sought to avenge himself with his pen for these words, which expressed the general opinion, but also determined to defend himself with the sword to the last drop of his blood, for, as he wrote to the Duke of Milan, a brave death ennobles a whole life.
On the 12th August, 1462, after suffering a severe defeat at Sinigaglia from Federigo of Urbino, he fled to Apulia. He intended to seek assistance from John of Calabria and the Prince of Tarento, but their power had been broken at Troja, and Sigismondo found but the fragments of the Angevine army. “He returned to Rimini even more disheartened than he had started”. His last hope was in Venice. The Republic had formerly given secret support to his family, and now by letters and Ambassadors importuned the Pope to grant favourable terms to the rebel, to whom, at the same time, pecuniary assistance was privately afforded. Meanwhile, Federigo, rejecting the attempts made by Malatesta to shake his allegiance to his master, vigorously followed up his victory; while none of Malatesta’s subjects raised a hand to defend the tyrant they abhorred. Diplomatic intervention in favour of Sigismondo led to nothing. Pius II was evidently determined to crush the tyrant.
In the following year, 1463, as soon as the season was sufficiently advanced, Federigo again took the field against the rebel, whose condition became more and more hopeless. His younger brother, Domenico, despairing of any change of fortune, sold Cervia for 4000 ducats to Venice, which had recently taken forcible possession of Ravenna.
From the month of June the conflict was carried on chiefly round Fano, a strong place to which Federigo laid siege by land, while Cardinal Forteguerri strove to cut off all access to it by sea. Early in August the Papal fleet gained a victory over that of Malatesta; “but two Venetian galleys appeared, released Malatesta’s ships and chased the Armada of the Pope back to Ancona”. Venice continued to succour the beleaguered city, but it was finally taken by the Papal troops on the 25th September. Sinigaglia next surrendered. The Papal force then advanced to Rimini, where Sigismondo, “completely broken in spirit, awaited his fate”.
To the intercession of Venice, supported by Florence and Milan, the tyrant owed the pardon granted to him by the Pope. Its conditions, however, were so hard that his power was thoroughly shattered; Venice had to raise the siege of Trieste, of which Pius II had once been Bishop. Sigismondo, who was required to abjure his “heresy”, retained possession of the city of Rimini, with a territory of five miles in circumference, while his brother occupied one of similar extent around Cesena. Both undertook to pay an annual tribute to the Apostolic See, and in the event of their death without legitimate heirs their lands were to revert to the Church.
Thus did the most powerful of all the despots of Italy, the man who “for twenty years had been the terror of Princes and Popes”, fall before the unwarlike Pius II. “He could now look down with satisfaction from Monte Cavo, the highest of the Alban Hills, which commands the plain from Terracina to Capo Argentaro, on the broad States of the Church—a country which, if it contained nothing but Alma Roma, contains that which suffices to make its rulers the equals of Emperors”.
OPPOSITION TO PAPAL AUTHORITY
The state of ecclesiastical and political affairs in France and Germany was such as to cause the Pope even greater anxiety than the troubles of his native land. The indifference of these two great powers to the Crusade was in itself a serious sign of the lessening influence of the Church. The effects of the false doctrines promulgated at Constance and Basle manifested themselves in both countries in a yet more alarming manner, in persistent efforts to destroy her monarchical constitution. All attempts of this kind were resisted by Pius II with a clear apprehension of the dignity of his office as Head of the Priesthood. His zeal and firmness in vindicating the authority and the inalienable rights of the Holy See against the assaults of the Conciliar and national parties are doubly admirable when we consider the difficult circumstances of his time.
Twenty years had elapsed since, by the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (July 7th, 1438), France had assumed a semi-schismatical position. The Resolutions drawn up during that period of confusion hardly left to the Pope any influence in ecclesiastical appointments in France, and also deprived his Court of the revenues formerly drawn from that country. Moreover, since they reaffirmed the Decree regarding the Superiority of Councils, they also threatened the monarchical constitution conferred by Christ on His Church. The Pragmatic Sanction, in the opinion of a non-Catholic student, was an abiding memorial of the Conciliar ideas, principles and aims, and of the opposition of the national spirit to the theory of the Universal Church. It expressed the pretension of the temporal ruler to order ecclesiastical matters in his kingdom according to his own good pleasure. As long as France adhered to it, a precedent existed to which other nations could appeal, and which constituted a perpetual menace to the Papal power. While it remained in force the restored Papacy could not consider its authority to be perfectly re-established. France had based her position on the Decrees of Constance and Basle, and was accordingly compelled to sympathize with every movement which aimed at the maintenance of the superiority of Councils over the Pope.
Efforts had not been wanting to procure the repeal of this law, which had proceeded from an authority absolutely incompetent to deal with ecclesiastical matters. Eugenius IV, Cardinal d'Estouteville, acting for Nicholas V, and finally Calixtus III, had all laboured, though vainly, in this direction.
Pius II took up the question energetically. The picture which he drew in his Memoirs of the effects of the Pragmatic Sanction shows how deeply impressed he was with the necessity of obtaining its revocation. “The French Prelates”, he writes, “supposed they would have greater liberty; but, on the contrary, they have been brought into grievous bondage, and made the slaves of the laity. They are forced to give an account of their affairs to Parliament; to confer benefices according to the good pleasure of the king and the more powerful nobles; to promote minors, unlearned, deformed and illegitimate persons to the priestly office; to remit the punishment of those whom they have justly condemned; to absolve the excommunicated without satisfaction. Any one conveying into France a Bull contrary to the Pragmatic Sanction is made liable to the penalty of death. Parliament has meddled with the affairs of the Bishops, with Metropolitan Churches, with marriages and matters of faith. The audacity of the laity has gone so far that even the most Holy Sacrament has been stopped by order of the King when borne in procession for the veneration of the people or for the consolation of the sick. Bishops and other Prelates and venerable priests have been cast into common prisons. Church property and the goods of the clergy have been confiscated on trifling pretexts by a secular judge, and handed over to lay people”.
At the Congress of Mantua, Pius II had made no secret of his opinions. In the memorable audience in which he justified his action in favour of Ferrante and against the Angevine claims supported by France, he strongly expressed his disapprobation of the abnormal position of the Church in that country of which the Pragmatic Sanction was the cause. The prohibition of appeals from the Pope to a Council, published at the conclusion of the Congress, was explicitly directed against the theory on which the French law rested.
The irritation produced in Paris by this measure was evinced by the attitude of the University quite as much as by that of the king. This body, which from the first had been bitterly hostile to Pius II, had, even in the time of Calixtus III, nominated a committee for the interpretation and execution of the Pragmatic Sanction. On the 16th May, 1460, it further determined that these delegates should receive a salary. Negotiations with the king and the Parliament for the defence of the so-called liberties of the Gallican Church were also set on foot. Charles VII was all the more disposed to take up the matter, on account of his grudge against Pius II in regard to the contest for the throne of Naples. Through his Procurator-General, Jean Dauvet, he published a very disrespectful protest against the Pope's discourse at Mantua. Pius II was attacked for his “praise of the Bastard, which he would have done better to keep to himself”; he was admonished to take care what he did against France, to leave the Council and its decrees in peace, and to summon a free Council, not in the Lateran, but in France. Meanwhile the King would uphold the Conciliar decisions in his dominions, and should the Pope trouble him or his subjects on this account, he would appeal to a future Council; and if the Pope failed to call one in a free place, he, together with other Princes, would take the matter into his own hands. The Pope was still further insulted by the contemptuous treatment of the ambassadors whom he had sent to negotiate with Charles regarding the war against the Turks, and who were kept for months without an answer. Under these circumstances it can hardly be deemed strange that the requests of the King for the appointment of Cardinals agreeable to him were not granted. Later on, when the anti-Papal feeling in Germany had grown very strong, fears were entertained at the Roman Court that the enemies of the Holy See in France and Germany might make common cause. These apprehensions were by no means unfounded, for at this very time Gregor Heimburg, the most violent opponent of Pius II, was sent to the French Court in order to bring about a general combination against Rome, and to procure a Council. The Pope, therefore, deemed it prudent to ignore the conditional appeal of the French monarch to a Council, “a formal condemnation of the Paris acts would necessitate lengthy legal proceedings at the Court of Rome”. But he did not modify his decrees in any way, and in his Briefs to Charles VII constantly insisted on the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction.
It was an important advantage for Pius II in dealing with the ecclesiastical affairs of France, that the Dauphin Louis, then an exile in Burgundy, and uncertain as to his succession, was on his side. Negotiations conducted by the ambitious and learned Bishop of Arras, Jean Jouffroy, had resulted in a formal promise from Louis that, if he should succeed to the throne, he would abolish the Pragmatic Sanction. This event was hastened by the excesses of Charles VII, which had told most injuriously on his feeble constitution. In the summer of 1461 he was attacked by toothache; fearing poison, he refused food and drink for a considerable time, and this led to his death on the 22nd July. Louis XI became King of France.
The great question now was whether the new King would hold to the engagement which had been made under such different circumstances. The uncompromising opposition to his father’s system, which he manifested from the first moment of his accession, gave rise to the most favourable anticipations.
As early as the 18th August, 1461, the Pope, in an autograph letter, reminded him of his promise; adding that the special negotiations regarding this important matter would be entrusted to a prelate, who would be acceptable to his Majesty, Jean Jouffroy, the Bishop of Arras.
It seems, however, as if Pius II at this time had but little confidence in the progress of ecclesiastical affairs in France. The Bishop of Arras was accredited to England, Scotland, and Burgundy, but not to France, as if it was feared that in that country his authority as Legate a latere might meet with opposition. The Cardinal of Coutances was urgently exhorted to persevere in his efforts for the restoration of the Papal authority, and to do everything in his power to assist those of Louis XI.
Jouffroy, who was honourably received by the King, entered upon his task with the greatest zeal; but his zeal, and the means which he employed, were far from being pure. To this ambitious man the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction was nothing but a ladder for his own exaltation. He hoped by success in this matter to earn the Cardinal’s hat, which he had already vainly sought, through the intervention of the Duke of Burgundy. With this aim in view Jouffroy began to insinuate himself into the good graces of the new King, and thanks to the “courtly address”, which was his undoubted characteristic, he was soon successful.
The dislike of Louis to everything that his father had done greatly facilitated the accomplishment of the task entrusted to the Bishop of Arras. He also represented to the King that if once the arrangement made in 1438 were abolished, the influence of the nobles in the matter of Church preferment would be at an end. The idea of lowering and weakening the power of the Vassals of the Crown had, at this time, taken possession of the mind of Louis XI. In the course of these negotiations no doubt the old grievance in regard to the large sums of money drawn out of France by Rome was again revived. We have not sufficient information to follow in detail all Jouffroy’s intrigues, but it is probable that these apprehensions were met by the assurance that the Pope would appoint a Legate to reside in France, who would institute to all benefices, and that thus the money would remain in the kingdom.
Louis XI seems to have expressed to the Legate a confident hope that, in acknowledgment of the abrogation of the Pragmatic Sanction, the Pope would change his Neapolitan policy and favour the claims of France; and Jouffroy no doubt confirmed this expectation, although well aware of its fallaciousness. At Rome he said little or nothing of this, but dwelt much on Louis’ noble sentiments and his firm determination to repeal the anti-Papal Law by his own authority.
On the reception of these good tidings, Pius II at once wrote a long letter of thanks to the King. He commended Louis’ decision as a great and good deed, and begged him not to defer its accomplishment. “If your Prelates and the University desire anything from Us”, he says in this letter, “let them only apply to Us through You; gladly will We grant all that can fittingly be granted”. At the same time he admonished the King that it was his duty to take his part in the rescue of Christendom from the Turks.
The first and most urgent demand of Louis XI was that Jouffroy and Prince Louis d'Albret should be raised to the purple. Pius II perceived the necessity of granting this request, which had already been made by Charles VII, if the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction were to be accomplished. It cost him much trouble, however, to obtain the consent of the Sacred College. There were long and excited discussions, of which the Pope gives a detailed account in his Memoirs. Many of the Cardinals were extremely averse to any increase in the numbers of the Sacred College, others brought forward objections which as d'Albret was a man of strictly moral life, were only applicable to Jouffroy. Cardinal Alain in particular painted the character of his countryman in the darkest colours. Pius II did not contradict his statements, but pointed out the necessity, under the circumstances, of choosing the least of two evils. In the event of his refusing the king’s request, the Pragmatic Sanction would not be repealed; Jouffroy would be furious and would have no difficulty in turning Louis completely against the Pope, since he was already dissatisfied with the policy of the Holy See in regard to Naples. In the beginning of December an agreement was arrived at. On the 18th, the names of seven new Cardinals were published, and amongst them were those of d'Albret and Jouffroy.
Just at this time tidings reached Rome that Louis XI had really revoked the Pragmatic Sanction. The King himself wrote to the Pope on the 27th November, 1461, to announce the event. “As we perceive”, he said, “that obedience is better than sacrifice, we consent to admit that which you have announced to us, namely, that the Pragmatic Sanction is injurious to the Holy See, and that, originating in a time of schism and revolt, it robs You, from whom all holy laws proceed, of Your authority, and is contrary to right and justice. Although some learned men have sought to refute this and have greatly dissuaded Us from the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction, yet knowing and perceiving that You are the Prince of the whole Church, the head of religion, the Shepherd of the Lord’s flock, we follow Your teaching and cleave to it with full consent. Therefore, as You require, we set aside and proscribe the Pragmatic Sanction in our whole kingdom, in Dauphiné and all our dominions, in which from henceforth Your jurisdiction shall be unquestioned. Even as the members in the human body are directed without conflict by one head and one spirit, so will the Prelates of the Church in our kingdom yield complete obedience to Your Sacred Decrees. Should any, however, offer resistance and make objections, We pledge our royal word to Your Holiness to have Your instructions carried out, to exclude all appeals, and to punish those who should prove refractory”.
When Pius II imparted this Letter to the assembled Consistory, he could not refrain from tears of joy. His confidential secretary, Gregorio Lolli, at once sent a copy to Siena, adding that it was long since any Pope had achieved so great a victory as had now been won by their fellow-countryman.
Antonio da Noceto, a brother of the well-known Pietro da Noceto, was sent to France to convey to the King a consecrated sword. On the blade was engraved an invitation to the Turkish war composed by Pius II, who also sent an autograph letter, praising his conduct in the highest terms.
On the 26th December, 1461, Gregorio Lolli had triumphantly informed his Sienese fellow-countrymen that the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction was the most important intelligence that could have been imparted to the Apostolic See; with one stroke a country so great as France had been won back to its allegiance, and the obedience of all Christians confirmed. They ought to thank God that His Church had been thus exalted in the time of a Sienese Pope; for their fuller information, and that they might see how unreservedly Louis XI had revoked this enactment, he sent them a copy of two letters from Cardinals Longueil and Jouffroy. But by the beginning of January, 1462, a report from Jouffroy of a very different character was in the Pontiffs hands. “After Jouffroy had entered the sure haven of the Cardinalate”, Pius II writes in his Memoirs, “he brought forward that which he had hitherto concealed, namely, that the Pragmatic Sanction would certainly only be repealed when the King's wishes regarding Naples had been complied with”. Pius II answered the observations of the new Cardinal regarding the practicability of carrying out the royal Decree on the 13th January, 1462. Jouffroy would, he said, no doubt be able to remove the difficulties which were arising, he could not believe in a change of purpose on the part of the pious King. The conduct of Louis XI at this time was well calculated to confirm the Pope’s impression. The Parliament was commanded to have the letter of 27th November, 1461, registered as a Royal Ordinance; the King would brook no opposition. The objections of the Parliament and the University were sternly silenced. When a deputation from the University of Paris appeared before the King in January, 1462, while he was at Tours, “Go your ways!” he exclaimed, “I care not to trouble myself about such as you”.
Louis XI hoped that the Pope would reward this zeal by completely changing his policy in regard to Naples, and either openly espousing the cause of Anjou, or at least abandoning that of Ferrante. The monarch who, according to Monstrelet, could speak with the tones of a syren, did not hesitate on occasion to resort to threats. At the end of January, 1462, the Florentine Ambassadors had informed Cosmo de' Medici that Louis had sworn to avenge himself on the Pope in case he should refuse to support John of Calabria. A Council was to be called, and whatever else could most harass and annoy the Court of Rome was to be done. The mere mention of the word Council was enough greatly to disturb the Pope; and to trusted friends, such as the Milanese Ambassador, he spoke bitterly of Gallic pride and arrogance. But he concealed his vexation from the king, and again on the 24th February wrote to him in the most friendly manner, saying that he was awaiting proposals from Jouffroy, and would refuse nothing consistent with honour and justice.
Pius II was, in fact, at this time seriously considering the advisability of a complete change of policy in regard to Naples. The French King’s threats of an anti-Roman Council and a schism had begun to take effect. As the day of the arrival of Jouffroy and the other Ambassadors approached, his anxiety increased. Coppini, Bishop of Terni, was indefatigable on the Cardinal’s side, insisting on the threatening attitude of Louis XI, and declaring that unless Pius II took the part of Anjou, the French King would ally himself with the Venetians, send an army into Italy by way of Savoy, and so harass the Duke of Milan that he would be compelled to abandon Ferrante. Thus the whole burden of the Neapolitan war would fall on the Pope.
Pius II was able to conceal his agitation from the world at large, but to a few who enjoyed his confidence he made no secret of his uncertainties regarding the possibility of continuing to support Ferrante. A remarkable report, written by the Milanese Ambassador, Otto de Carretto, to Francesco Sforza on the 12th March, 1462, bears witness to this. “Today”, writes the Ambassador, “after having dismissed all who were present in his room, the Pope said to me : ‘Messer Otto, you are a faithful servant of your lord; and as his affairs are most closely connected with my own, I will quite secretly impart certain matters to you and then ask your advice concerning them’.”
Then, continues Carretto, Pius II proceeded to sketch the present political situation. He began with Milan and pointed out that the Duchy was surrounded by States like Savoy, Montferrat and Modena, whose sympathies were partially or entirely with France. In the case of an attack from that country, the most that could be expected from Florence would be some secret and small pecuniary aid. Venice would, no doubt, make use of a war between Milan and France for her own advantage. Francesco Sforza could reckon with certainty only on the Marquess of Mantua, whose power was not great. The discontent of many Milanese subjects, some of whom leaned to the side of France, and others to that of Venice, must also be taken into consideration.
The Pope looked upon Ferrante's position in Naples as hopeless. His treasury was empty, and his. subjects detested him; nothing but sheer force kept him on the throne. The nobles who had submitted to him might at any moment again revolt, some were already wavering; his government had no solid foundation.
He then went on to draw a melancholy and even exaggerated picture of his own difficulties. The powerful party of the Colonna was, he said, entirely devoted to France. The Savelli and Everso of Anguillara would gladly renew their alliance with Jacopo Piccinino. Many others in the dominions of the Church were discontented because their excesses had been restrained. In the Marches, the Vicar of Camerino, Giulio Cesare Varano, was a great enemy of the Holy See. He preferred to say nothing of Sigismondo Malatesta, of Forli, and the Vicars of the Romagna. Florence and Venice had no more ardent wish than that the temporal power of the Church should be weakened. He could rely on no one in Italy save the Duke of Milan, and if his resources were taxed in another direction, what was to become of the Papal Government? His treasury was exhausted, his annual revenues from all sources did not altogether amount to more than 150,000 ducats. Then the spiritual power of the Holy See was a matter of incomparably greater importance than the temporal, and what was the prospect here? In Italy the religious situation was no better than the political. In Germany, by maintaining, as he was in duty bound, the honour of the Holy See, he had incurred the enmity of the powerful Duke Sigismund of the Tyrol and of the Elector of Mayence. Several of the German Princes, and especially the Count Palatine Frederick, had joined the latter. Other Princes of the Empire were hostile to the Pope because of his friendship with the Emperor. The King of Hungary, who had entered into an alliance with Louis XI, was also against Frederick III. The King of Bohemia was half a heretic, the Duke of Cleves was also anti-Roman in his sympathies, because the Holy See had not yielded to his unjust requisitions, upon the Church of Cologne. Spain was almost entirely led by France, and so were Burgundy and Savoy. How easy would it be for the French monarch to place-himself at the head of these malcontents, especially in ecclesiastical matters. Louis XI had indeed repealed the Pragmatic Sanction, but now, it was said, he required! Rome to desist from assisting Ferrante. If his demand were refused, there was reason to fear that, under the cloak of zeal for the Church, he would insist on the summoning of a Council. All these enemies of Rome, and even many of the Cardinals, would join him in this. A schism might easily be the consequence. He greatly feared some threat of this kind from the French Ambassadors now on their way to Rome. The Cardinals, partly from fear of a schism and partly from a leaning to France, would think it better that he should make friends with the French King in time, rather than run the risk of all the troubles that might ensue. Carretto was now required to give his opinion, but he was to speak to no one of this conversation; for the Pope had as yet kept his uncertainties secret, fearing the pressure to which he might be subjected if they were known. Moreover, he had been informed that even in the Duke’s own Court there were but few who considered it expedient to persist in supporting Ferrante.
The Milanese Ambassador replied that, notwithstanding all difficulties, his master was disposed to hold to Ferrante. The French Ambassadors, he said, must be appeased by soft words. He was, however, ready to lay before the Duke the doubts which the Pope had manifested to him.
Pius II replied that Carretto was to express his views not as an Ambassador, but as a private individual. The latter then acknowledged all the difficulty of the situation, but also maintained that a change in the Italian policy of the Pope would in no way mend matters. He was in honor bound still to support Ferrante. What kind of impression would be made if Pius II, who had hitherto helped him in every possible manner, were now, on account of French threats and persuasions, to reverse all that he had done? In regard to immediate advantages, it was to be considered that the French custom was to promise much and perform little. Moreover, it was doubtful whether Louis XI would really engage so deeply in Italian politics. Venice would hardly suffer French influence to become all-powerful in Italy. In the Milanese territory the people were not so discontented as the Pope seemed to suppose. On the contrary, never had a Prince been more loved and honoured by his subjects than was the Duke; every one of them would suffer anything rather than submit to another ruler. If Louis XI were to interfere personally in Italian affairs, time would still be required for the necessary preparations, and meanwhile the rising in Naples might be quelled.
At the conclusion of his statement, Carretto again reverted to the opinion which he had expressed at the beginning. Admitting, he said, the existence of all these dangers, a change in the Italian policy of the Holy See would produce others of a yet more serious character. If France should acquire a preponderating influence in Naples, Genoa, Asti, Florence and Modena, the haughty young King, having seen that a word had sufficed to subdue the Pope and the Duke of Milan, would soon subjugate the rest of the Peninsula. Whose fault would it then be that Italy was at the mercy of France, and the Pope reduced to the position of Chaplain to her King? What, after this, could hinder Louis XI from placing a creature of his own on the Papal Throne, and again transferring the supreme government of the Church to his dominions? Italy and the Apostolic See ought not to be exposed to such dangers as these, in the vain hope that the French King would take part in the Turkish war. If the Cardinals, Prelates and others about the Court, were in favour of an agreement with France, the Pope must remember that they were actuated by selfish motives.
The day after this conversation the splendid Embassy from the King of France, headed by Count Pierre de Chaumont, arrived in Rome. It was received with great pomp and solemnity. As the Cardinals of Arras and Coutances were among the Envoys, most of the members of the Sacred College went as far as the Porta del Popolo to meet them. They alighted at the Convent at this gate, where newly-appointed Cardinals were accustomed to await their formal reception in Consistory.
During these days the Milanese Envoy was indefatigable in his activity. His representations made a great impression on the Pope, but it soon became evident that other means also must be employed to counteract the menaces of France and to hold Pius II fast to his treaty. Carretto turned to those who had most influence with the Pontiff—to Cardinals Forteguerri and Ammanati, to Gregorio Lolli, and also to Scarampo, Bessarion, Carvajal and other eminent members of the Sacred College. He deemed it a matter of the greatest importance that the French offers of large military assistance in the war against the Turks should be appreciated by that body at their real worth.
Before the reception of the French Ambassadors, Carretto had two other interviews with Pius II. In the latter of these the Pope told him that he had resolved to reply to the French in an amicable manner, and to bestow on them due praise for the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction; and with regard to Neapolitan affairs, to inform them that he must persevere in the course which he had adopted, but that he was ready to gratify Louis XI in any way consistent with his honor. Above all, he would not break with France; it was to be hoped that in the end some means might be found of reconciling conflicting claims. “My most anxious endeavour”, writes Carretto in concluding his report, “will be to keep his Holiness firm in this matter, and to take care that no one should know of his vacillations”
Cardinal Jouffroy had in the meantime also seen the Pope. Even in his very first audience, forgetful of his duty as a Prince of the Church, and a member of her Senate, he showed himself simply and solely a Frenchman, the paid agent of his King. He tried by every means in his power to turn the Pope from his alliance with Ferrante. He painted in the darkest colours the disadvantages of the policy which he had hitherto pursued, in order to contrast them with the benefits which the French King could confer, dwelling especially on the great things in store for the nephews of Pius II. The Pope replied that he duly valued the friendship of France, and was sensible of the debt of gratitude which he owed to the King for the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction; but that what Louis demanded in regard to Naples would bring disgrace on the Holy See, and that he could not, and would not, yield in this matter. In the course of a long interview, Jouffroy, acting on his own authority, proposed that Ferrante should be compensated by the grant of the principality of Tarento. Pius II expressed a doubt whether the Neapolitan King would consent to this plan, and finally the Cardinal took his leave, declaring that he hoped, on the next occasion, to find the Pope better disposed.
The solemn audience of the French Ambassadors took place on the 16th March. Pius II, in full pontificals, sat on the throne in the great Hall of the Consistory, the Cardinals were opposite to him, while the middle space was occupied by the Bishops, Prelates, Notaries, and other officials, together with numerous spectators. When the Ambassadors had kissed the foot of the Pope, and presented their credentials, Jouffroy made a long speech. After a pompous eulogy of the French nation and its monarch, he did homage on behalf of Louis XI, read the royal decree concerning the abrogation of the Pragmatic Sanction, and made magnificent promises in regard to the Turkish war. His King would lead an army of 70,000 men against Mahomet, and only asked in return that the Pope should assist him to reconquer Genoa, and support John of Calabria instead of Ferrante in the Kingdom of Naples.
All present were filled with astonishment at the eloquence and fluency of the discourse which Pius II made in reply. So deep was the silence, says a Milanese chronicler, that it seemed as if there were no one in the Hall. The Pope did not fail to praise the French King, but made no allusion to his demands in regard to Genoa and Naples. After a formal document concerning the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction had been drawn up by a notary, the hat was conferred upon Jouffroy, to whom a seat among the Cardinals was then assigned.
On the 17th March, Gregorio Lolli announced to his fellow-countrymen the unconditional revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction. This was, he declared, the most solemn and important event which had occurred for many years at the Court. It was celebrated by processions and festivities.
In Rome the tidings were received with an outburst of joy. Bonfires were kindled and the air was filled with the sound of trumpets and bells. The Pope was praised all the more highly because the expectations of success had been but small. No one, he says in his Memoirs, had looked upon the repeal of the law as a possibility; it was deemed a great thing that the evil had not extended yet further.
The event was one of those which leaves its mark in the world’s history. The Pope’s thoughts must have reverted to those days in the spring of 1447, when, as Ambassador of Frederick III, he had procured the reconciliation of the greater part of the Holy Roman Empire with the Holy See. On neither occasion can his joy have been unmixed; yet Pius II had good reason to be satisfied at the great effects which, at least for a time, were produced by the concession of Louis XI.
During the succeeding days, Cardinal Jouffroy and the Count de Chaumont had several prolonged audiences of the Pope. All their eloquence failed to bring Pius II over to the cause of Anjou. He indeed proposed a truce or a compromise, but all negotiations for this purpose proved fruitless. Threats were freely employed by the French. How, they asked, will the Pope’s resistance to the House of France be looked upon by Christendom, when it is known that Louis XI has manifested his perfect obedience by revoking the Pragmatic Sanction, and has also promised such great assistance in the war against the Turks? Will it not be said that Pius II has abdicated his position as head of the nations, and no longer concerns himself with the defence of the Faith?
The Pope, indeed, was well aware that the enemies of the Holy See might thus turn the Turkish question to account, but on the other hand he had from the first understood the real value of the magniloquent promises of France regarding this war. Any possibility of misapprehension on the subject was removed when Jouffroy and Chaumont declared that the offers of Louis XI were made only on condition that his demands in regard to Genoa and Naples should be satisfied.
On the 3rd April, after three weeks had been consumed in negotiations, the Count de Chaumont with the Bishop of Saintes left the City. The Ambassadors saw that they had failed to accomplish the principal object of their mission, and on their way back expressed their vexation in no measured terms. Chaumont, when in Florence, declared that his master would recall all the French prelates from Rome, and revenge himself in such a way as should make the Pope repent.
A new French Ambassador, the Seneschal of Toulouse, used equally menacing language. Pius II, however, was not alarmed, for he knew on good authority that the Ambassador was not empowered to carry these threats into execution.
During the whole of this time an uninterrupted correspondence was maintained between Pius II and Louis XI, but their estrangement continued to increase. On one side-question indeed an agreement was arrived at, as Louis XI gave back to the Church the Countships of Dié and Valence, which had been annexed by the last Count, and retained by Charles VII. In return for this act of restitution Louis was to keep the portions of these territories lying on his side of the Rhone. Antonio da Noceto was sent to France to take possession of those which were restored to the Holy See. Jouffroy and Louis XI again proposed a marriage between one of the Pope’s nephews and a daughter of the French Monarch. At the same time the prospect of a Franco-Bohemian alliance was used as a bugbear to constrain the Pope to alter his Italian policy; but both the proposal and the menace were fruitless. By the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction the King had expected not only to win over the Pope to the side of Anjou, but also to acquire the patronage of all the more important ecclesiastical benefices. When this anticipation also proved illusory the irritation of Louis knew no bounds. He wrote an insolent letter to the Pope and Cardinals in which he criticized all the acts of Pius II’s government, and even accused him of fomenting divisions among the Princes of Christendom, instead of uniting them for the Turkish war as he professed to do. The Pope sent Nuncios, and wrote several autograph letters to appease the wrath of Louis. All was in vain, chiefly owing to the machinations of Cardinal Jouffroy, who, fearing the discovery of his own intrigues, was more bitter even than the King against Pius II, and kept constantly fanning the flame. Amongst other serious charges against Jouffroy contained in the Memoirs, the Pope accuses him of having misrepresented to him the contents of Royal letters, and attributed to the King desires which he had never entertained, and in his reports falsely represented the Pope as an enemy of the French Dynasty, and untrue to his word.
In the autumn of 1463 the relations between Louis XI and Rome were strained to the uttermost, and alarming rumours were daily arriving from France. The King was said to have behaved very rudely to Cardinals Longueil and Alain. It was reported that the Bishoprics of Uzés and Carcassonne, the Abbey of St. Jean d'Angeli and other benefices, which the latter held in commendam, had been sequestrated. Certain Royal Edicts, directly opposed to the rights of the Holy See, were said to have been issued. It is thought, wrote the Envoy of Mantua on the 4th October, 1463, from Rome, that the King will renew the Pragmatic Sanction; he writes angry letters to the Pope in defence of Jouffroy, who is, he affirms, set aside because he does his duty!
The King did not, indeed, go so far as to re-establish the law of 1438; but on the other hand, from 1463, he did his best to recover that which he had yielded in the previous year. In 1463 and 1464, a number of Decrees were issued “to defend ourselves against the aggressions of Rome, and for the restoration of the ancient Gallican liberties”, by which most of the concessions obtained in the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction were nullified. Pius II complains in his Memoirs that the hostility to the Church manifested by Louis in these Decrees far exceeded his former loyalty and zeal in the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction. The conduct of the King in regard to two benefices which had fallen vacant in Angers and in Paris at the end of 1463 or beginning of 1464 is another instance of the high-handed tone which he now assumed. He requested the Pope to confer them upon Jean Balue, adding that this favourite had already taken possession of them, and that he would himself defend him against all opponents! Pius II refused, and asked the King if he would suffer any one to say to him, “Give me this castle freely, or I will take it by force”.
From the time that Louis’ antagonism to the Pragmatic Sanction had cooled, a good understanding had existed between him arid the national party among the French clergy, who thus unconsciously aided the King in weaving the “web in which he purposed to entangle them” and to destroy the independence which he professed to defend against the aggressions of the Pope.
Cardinal Jouffroy left Rome to return to France on the 24th October, 1463. Some curiosity may have been felt as to the reception he would meet with from Louis. He was detested by the Parisians, who had made him the subject of many satires and caricatures, and when he entered the city no one took any notice of him. But the King showed him the greatest favour. He knew that this man would now enter into his anti-Roman policy with no less zeal than that which he had formerly displayed in the opposite direction. King Louis and Cardinal Jouffroy were a well-matched pair.
Besides the revival of the so-called Gallican liberties, Louis had, in the Turkish question, another means of revenging himself on the Pope. The manner in which he thwarted the great designs of Pius II in this important matter will appear in the sequel.
While the monarchical power in France was thus gathering up all the forces of the nation to subserve its own ends, the mortal sickness which, to use the words of Nicholas of Cusa, had attacked the Holy Roman Empire, was making ceaseless progress. “God help us”, writes a contemporary, “the whole Empire is so shattered and torn on all sides that it nowhere holds together. Cities against Princes, Princes against cities, wage endless wars, and no one is of too low estate to challenge his neighbour. There is no quiet corner in the whole of Germany; turn where you will, you have to guard against ambush, robbery, and murder; the clergy enjoy no peace, the nobility no honour”.
Amidst this general confusion two princely factions became prominent, one of which, assuming a threatening attitude towards the Emperor, demanded Reform. At the head of this party, which pursued its own selfish ends under the cloak of the renovation of the Empire, were the two Princes of the House of Wittelsbach, Frederick I the Victorious, Pfalzgraf of the Rhine, and Louis the Rich, Duke of Bavaria-Landshut. The champion of the other party, who found it profitable to pursue their own interests under the shelter of the Imperial authority, was Albert Achilles, Margrave of Brandenburg. Albert, “the clever man of Brandenburg”,
Whose inventions so subtle
Are fathom'd by none,
surpassed all contemporary German Princes, not only in statesmanship and decision, but also in cunning. The fundamental idea of his policy was, with the help of the Pope and the Emperor, to obtain the chief magistracy of the Empire, and to make Franconia a Duchy and the chief Principality between the Maine and the Danube.
The House of Wittelsbach was his natural opponent, but its downfall seemed at hand when in June, 1459, the Emperor Frederick III outlawed Duke Louis of Bavaria for having violently seized upon the free Imperial City of Donauworth. Albert Achilles undertook to carry out the sentence. At this perilous crisis Pius II sent his Nuncios to an assembly held at Nuremberg in July, 1459, and succeeded in restoring peace. This, however, was of short duration, and the beginning of 1460 witnessed the outbreak of a war between the houses of Wittelsbach and Hohenzollern, which soon devastated a great part of Germany.
Just at this time Cardinal Bessarion came thither provided with the most ample powers for the promotion of the Turkish war and the pacification of the Empire. This mission undertaken by the devoted Cardinal at the age of sixty-five, and in the depth of winter, is justly described by his biographer “as a martyrdom”.
By the 20th February Bessarion had arrived in Nuremberg, where the Diet agreed upon at Mantua was to be opened on March 2nd. The Cardinal of Augsburg and the Bishops of Spires and Eichstatt attended as Commissioners from the Emperor. Of the German Princes, Albert Achilles, who was desirous of keeping up a peaceful appearance, alone was present. Duke Louis had sent his Councillors, merely charging them to make complaints of the bad faith of the Margrave. The Greek Cardinal in a striking exhortation urged upon all the preservation of peace which Christ had bequeathed to his disciples. The divisions of the Christian Princes had, he declared, increased the power of the Turks to its present extent. It would be a scandal if Germany did nothing to oppose the enemies of the Cross. The bad example alone would do incalculable harm.
These words unfortunately fell upon deaf ears, for the thoughts of all were absorbed in the struggle now imminent between the Wittelsbach party and that of the Hohenzollern. Those present, as a contemporary chronicler informs us, did nothing “but blame and revile one another”. Even when Cardinal Carvajal wrote from Hungary, telling of a fresh incursion of the Turks, and Bessarion, with tears, implored them to unite in taking up arms against the enemy, no impression was made. The utmost he could obtain was to induce them to agree that another Assembly should meet at Worms on the 25th March.
Meanwhile war had already broken out on the Rhine, in Swabia and Franconia, and as Bessarion journeyed to Worms he saw its sad traces. Under these circumstances it was not surprising that the Diet at that city was as fruitless as the one of Nuremberg had been. “Deeply dejected and discouraged, Bessarion informed the Pope of his failure and returned to Nuremberg. As Hungary could look for no external aid, Pius II was most anxious that at least her own forces should be available for the defence of the young King”. Accordingly, as early as the 28th March, he earnestly requested the King of Bohemia to use his influence to restrain the Emperor from all attacks on Hungary. On the 20th April, while in Nuremberg, the Cardinal Legate received a Brief from the Pope, “which, together with words of consolation and encouragement, contained an express charge to use all possible diligence in supporting King George”. Meanwhile Pius II, distrusting the powers of the sickly and irritable Legate, commanded the able jurist, Francis of Toledo, to repair to the Imperial Court in order to influence Frederick III. The negotiations, however, had already broken down before Bessarion had time to take part in them.
According to the decision taken at Mantua, the Diet ought to have assembled at the Imperial Court on the 30th March. But, on account of the war, Bessarion had been constrained, much against his will, to consent to its postponement until the 11th of May.
The Cardinal left Nuremberg in good time, and on the 7th May reached Vienna, where he was honourably received by the Emperor. The opening of the Diet, however, was impossible, for, instead of the Princes who were expected, only a few Ambassadors had arrived, and these few were not furnished with adequate instructions.
A further postponement until the 1st of September was inevitable. The Pope and his Legate, as well as Frederick III, issued urgent letters of invitation to this Assembly. Nevertheless, not one of the Princes appeared at the time appointed. Several weeks again were spent in anxious expectation, and not till the 17th September was the Diet opened.
Meanwhile Albert of Brandenburg, whose allies did little or nothing for him, had succumbed. On the 23 June, 1460, he had been obliged to sign the treaty of Roth, which was so unfavourable to his interests that his “eyes filled with tears”, as it was sealed. The harshness of its conditions made Pius II fear that the peace would be of short duration.
Even more distressing to Albert was the defection of Archbishop Diether of Mayence which soon followed. On the 4th July, 1460, Diether was defeated at Pfeddersheim near Worms by the Count Palatine Frederick, who constrained him to enter into alliance with him. The Archbishop’s motive in thus changing sides from the Hohenzollern party to that of Wittelsbach was the hope that the Princes who were in opposition would afford him more support against Pius II than he could have obtained from his former friends.
Diether of Isenburg belongs to that class of ecclesiastics of whom a Rhenish chronicler of the fifteenth century says: “Alas! with most Bishops the sword has supplanted the crosier; Bishoprics are sought after chiefly for the sake of the temporal power they confer. Spirituality is now the rarest of qualities in a dignitary of the Church”.
Diether, who was born about 1412, appears as a Canon at Mayence as early as the year 1427. Besides holding prebends in the Cathedrals of Cologne and Treves, he was, in 1442, appointed Provost of the Collegiate Churches of St. Victor and St. John in Mayence. In 1453 he became Custos in the Cathedral Chapter of that city. But these dignities did not suffice to satisfy the ambition of a man who was so ignorant that he scarcely knew a word of Latin. In 1465 he was a candidate for the Archbishopric of Treves, but the majority of the electors preferred the Margrave John of Baden. On the death of Dietrich I, Archbishop of Mayence, on the 6th May, 1459, Diether was again an eager aspirant for the vacant post. This time his efforts were successful and he obtained the coveted position of an independent Prince with territory and subjects. On the 18th June he was elected Archbishop by a compromise, said to be simoniacal, giving him a majority of one vote over Adolph of Nassau. Three days after his elevation, in consequence of the Election Capitulation, he was obliged to renew the league which his predecessors had concluded with Albert Achilles and Ulrich of Würtemberg against the Count Palatine Frederick. Owing to the party position in which he was thus placed from the very first, the Papal Confirmation was a matter of the greatest importance to him. He accordingly at once dispatched Envoys to Mantua, where Pius II was holding the Congress.
Immediately on hearing of the departure of this mission the Pope sent word to Diether that if he sought to obtain Confirmation he must present himself in person at the Papal Court. But the Archbishop took no notice of this admonition, even when it was soon afterwards reiterated. Pius II was already much annoyed at the non-arrival of the Princes summoned to the Congress, and this disregard of his expressed wishes on the part of a petitioner was not calculated to soothe his irritation. He made many difficulties regarding the Confirmation of the Election, and the grant of the Pallium, and he is said to have required Diether’s Envoys to pledge their master to support the levy of the tithe on all ecclesiastical revenues in the Empire, and to promise that he would never press for a Council or consent to a general Assembly of the States of the Empire without Papal permission. It cannot be ascertained with certainty whether the Pope really imposed these conditions; in any case they were not again mentioned.
The active support of the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg in Mantua did much to promote Diether’s success. A second mission from Mayence received the Bull of Confirmation and the Pallium, after having solemnly sworn that within a year Diether would appear in person, and that the Annates claimed by the Apostolic Treasury should be paid. The Treasury estimated the expenses of the Confirmation at 20,550 Rhenish florins, a sum which the Envoys do not seem “to have considered at all so excessive” as Diether afterwards represented it to be. Roman money-lenders advanced the amount, the Envoys giving a bond. When the Pope’s portion was paid, the Cardinals and inferior members of the Court also bound themselves to reimburse the money-lenders in case Diether should not discharge his debt.
Diether failed to fulfil a single one of the conditions on which the Confirmation had been granted. He did not appear at the Papal Court, he protested against the amount of the Annates, and refused to pay them. When the time allowed for the payment had elapsed, the Papal Judge pronounced the sentence of lesser excommunication; in spite, however, of this censure the Archbishop continued to be present at public worship, and even to officiate. When, soon after, the Diet met at Vienna, the first ecclesiastical Elector of the Empire appeared as the leader of the opposition against the Pope.
None of the German Princes thought of personally attending this Assembly. Many of the cities, as, for example, Mayence and Wetzlar, did not even send representatives, excusing themselves on the score of their poverty and the insecurity of the times. Bessarion lost heart so completely that Pius II found it necessary to exhort him to be patient. Events fully justified the apprehensions of the aged Cardinal. Not one of the Princes arrived, for, says the Chronicle of Spires, “they had too many quarrels among themselves on their hands to want another with the Turks”. The worst dispositions prevailed in the assembly, and the reading of the Bull conferring plenary powers upon Bessarion contributed to aggravate these. This document, without reference “to the consent of the Diet, simply directed the Legate to carry out the Papal commands”. The Envoys accordingly felt called upon to defend their right and to take counsel together and come to a decision regarding the expedition against the infidel, and the tax for the war. Their spokesman was Heinrich Leubing, Diether’s representative, who eagerly availed himself of this opportunity of resisting the Pope. It was, Leubing declared, “a praiseworthy usage and custom that when a matter so high and great, affecting the Christian faith or the Holy Roman Empire, was to be considered, this should be done by His Imperial Majesty with the Council of his Electors”. A fresh Diet must therefore be held.
In vain did Bessarion labour to influence the deputies, both privately in his own abode and collectively in their public sittings, and to awaken some enthusiasm and devotion to the holy Cause. The prospect of success grew fainter and fainter. His one consolation was the Emperor's readiness to comply with the Pope’s demands, but the only result of this was that the Assembly now turned against Frederick.
Conscious of the purity of his own motives, the Greek Cardinal became more and more embittered by the obstinate opposition of the Envoys. The terrible fate which threatened his fellow-countrymen filled him with an ardent desire to render assistance as soon as possible. Unfortunately he was utterly wanting in self-control. Regardless of his office and of his dignity, he poured forth menaces and invectives against the German Princes, and cast doubts on their good-will towards the holy Cause. The Envoys answered in a similar tone and left the Diet.
Bessarion in his grief and disappointment now begged to be recalled. But Pius II would not take such a step without first consulting his Cardinals. They were utterly opposed to it, and to any interruption of the negotiations. On the 4th November, 1460, Pius II imparted their decision to his Legate. “God’s honour”, he said, “and the honour of the Apostolic See require that we should be steadfast in hope, using every means by which the minds of men may be led to better counsels. If others withdraw from the work, it does not become us to follow their example. Perseverance in good leads to good even those who are ill disposed, and hearts that are now depraved may not be so always. The conversion of men is wrought by a hidden power, and the way of salvation often opens where no one expects it. Your departure would give a great advantage to our enemies. If the cause of Christendom seems despaired of, they will believe that everything already belongs to them, and will be more audacious in attacking us, and it will be hard for the faithful to stand firm if their hope grows faint. The Hungarians also have hitherto been restrained rather by shame than by good-will. They may seize upon this opportunity as an excuse and conclude a peace or a truce with the Turks. The disgrace then would be ours, and not that of the Germans. You know how calumnies pursue good deeds. It is therefore all the more needful, now that the negotiations have been broken off, a thing which has in itself a bad appearance, that we should aim at maintaining the reputation of the Church, and act in such a manner that the servants of the Holy See may not be blamed. Moreover, as in many places, the subsidies determined on at Mantua have been carefully collected, the perverse would take occasion from this to complain, and the dilatory would make it an excuse for altogether withholding their assistance; and thus all would fail us. Finally, as we have so often proclaimed to you, to our brethren and to the world that we will only give up the work of the Diet with life itself, our words would appear nothing but empty boasting devoid of truth and steadfastness. The glory of God, the salvation of Christendom and the liberation of your oppressed country are at stake. You can labour with great merit in this cause, both by preserving peace and by the conduct of business. Therefore, worthy brother, we encourage you to persevere until some good result appears. Let our beloved son, John Cardinal Carvajal, who is now in the fifth year of his labours as Legate, and champion of the faith, serve for your consolation and example”.
In this same Brief Pius II reverts to a bold proposal which he had already made to his Legate on the nth October. It was that the warlike head of the Wittelsbach party should receive the banner of the faith and of the Empire, insist on the payment of the tithe by the clergy, and equip the army. Should he refuse, the Legate was to turn to one of the other German Princes; if need were, as he himself had once said in Mantua, he must “beg for soldiers from door to door. If all fails, we will take this course and diligently pursue it as our last possible hope; meanwhile consider the ways and means of carrying it out and impart to us in writing what appears to you best fitted to promote the end in view”. Bessarion’s Reports are unfortunately missing. The Secret Archives of the Vatican contain only one letter from him referring to the matter. This was written on the 29th March, 1461; it justifies his proceedings, especially in regard to the question of the tithe, and gives a most interesting picture of the German situation.
In order to understand this letter, we must bear in mind that Pius II, in view of the threatening storm, and acting on the conviction that the opposition of the German Princes was chiefly occasioned by pecuniary considerations, sent two Legates to Germany, charged with reassuring explanations concerning the tithes. Moreover, on the 12th February, 1461, he sent the Cardinal of Augsburg to conduct the affair. On the 4th March, Bessarion was instructed to recall any order which he might have issued concerning the tithes, and to make it generally known alike by word and by letter that it was not the Pope’s intention to demand anything without the consent of the nation. Bessarion replied from Vienna on the 29th March:
“The excuses of the German Princes are vain and empty pretexts. In regard to the tithes I have said no more than what I have already written to your Holiness. I represented the extraordinary outlay of the Holy See for the cause of the Faith, to which I added the declaration that your Holiness does not demand from the German Princes the tithes, but the promised army. It is true that in a fatherly way I complained and admonished and counselled them as became one who had the matter much at heart. But I have not proceeded beyond remonstrances, or issued any commands regarding the levy of the tithe which, according to your instructions, I should have to recall. Their charges against me were therefore unfounded in this respect. Meanwhile, if I have wronged them in anything, it is only because they had desired that, for their excuse and justification, I should accuse the Emperor and lay everything to his charge. They had already, at that time, begun to work in secret against Frederick III, as it appeared afterwards. Seeing that for cogent reasons I would not yield to them, I became the object of their hatred; they looked upon me as quite devoted to the Emperor. In this they were by no means mistaken. I have the highest esteem for Frederick III, because I know how greatly your Holiness and the Emperor are attached to one another. This is the cause of their dissatisfaction, and they say it quite openly. Many other convincing proofs of these things are before your Holiness, amongst them the extravagances which have lately been widely circulated from the pen of the shameless heretic, Gregor Heimburg. I had scarcely the patience to read them once, and then threw them away, and I will not send them to your Holiness. Did I not know that You are well aware that the causes of this agitation are other than the tithe question, I should perish with grief. Yet, Holy Father, many causes have combined to produce this state of things. First, the disgraceful ingratitude of Diether. I will now speak freely of this man, in whose house, as Rudolf of Rudesheim informed me on my return from Worms to Mayence, Rome is daily reviled by that crazy Dominican Bishop who came to Mantua about his Confirmation, as well as by his other companions. I bring a witness; your Holiness can examine him at your pleasure. Then came the excommunication of the Archbishop of Mayence on account of the Annates, whereupon he became so excited that he threatened to move heaven and earth. He and the rest utterly disregard this excommunication. He also seeks to tread in the footsteps of his predecessor who was by no means devoted to the Holy See. Who was better acquainted with these intrigues than your Holiness, whose task it formerly was to frustrate them? From the appeal of the Princes it is evident that they do not complain of the tithes alone, but also of the Annates, Indulgences and pretended extortions of various kinds. They are also constantly stirred up by France and the perpetual complaints of Duke Sigismund. Concerning the tithes I have, as I informed your Holiness in two letters, taken sufficient care in the matter. For the rest it would be very well to send new Ambassadors, capable of settling the affair with prudence and discretion. As the Diet to be held in Frankfort is put off until Trinity Sunday, the Ambassadors might with advantage be charged in the meantime to visit the Princes individually and to treat with each in particular”.
A short time after this report was written, Pius II had himself arrived at the conviction that Germany was lost to the cause of the war. “I perceive”, he wrote to Bessarion on the 2nd May, 1461, “that almost everything for which you were sent to Germany being hopeless, the reconciliation of the Emperor with the King of Hungary is now your only remaining duty”. But the sufferings entailed on the sickly Cardinal by these numerous journeys were aggravated by vexation and the severity of the climate, and he hailed with joy the truce of Laxenburg(6th September, 1461), which permitted him to bid farewell to the Imperial Court and quit the barbarous country where” no one cared for Latin and Greek”.
In his Report to the Pope on the 29th March, 1461, Bessarion speaks of the Archbishop of Mayence and Duke Sigismund of the Tyrol as the chief authors of confusion in Germany. Some further details must be added in regard to the proceedings of these two.
The mischievous action of the Envoy from Mayence at the Diet of Vienna was a foretaste of the future. Before the conclusion of the year 1460, Diether of Isenburg and the Count Palatine Frederick, bound themselves to assist George Podiebrad, who aspired to become King of the Romans. The compact between Diether and the King of Bohemia was concluded in the early days of December. Podiebrad, in return for the support of his pretensions to the Crown of Germany, was obliged to promise that he would establish at Mayence a supreme Court of the Empire, to be called a Parliament, would preserve peace and unity, and as soon as possible, with the advice of the Electors, undertake an expedition against the Turks. He promised not to sanction the levy of the tithe, nor any other tribute imposed by Pope or Council; he undertook to cause a General Council to be assembled in a German city on the Rhine, and there to “repeat and administer” the Basle Decrees, especially those concerning Confirmations, Annates and the jurisdiction of the Roman Court, to take care that the Pope should claim from Diether for the Pallium no larger sum than was customary, and, finally, with his people to abandon the Utraquist heresy and return to the Roman Church.
Immediately after the conclusion of this compact an Assembly of the Princes took place at Bamberg, where the opposition to Pope and Emperor was strongly manifested. Princes and their Envoys spoke with unexampled bitterness against the two heads of Christendom, and, as might have been expected, Diether of Isenburg was the most violent. He it was who laid before the Assembly a document protesting against the demand of ecclesiastical tithes and appealing against all ecclesiastical censures. The Councillors of Saxony and Brandenburg, however, refused to sign this. The King of Bohemia, and Duke Louis of Landshut, led by him, would not hear of any measure against the Pope, and could not be induced to give their signatures to the appeal. The result of this meeting accordingly in no wise answered the anticipations of Diether and the other opponents of Rome. Violent language against the Holy See was again indulged in at Eger on the following day; but nothing came of it, for Podiebrad contrived to divert the stream of opposition almost entirely from Rome, and turn it against the Emperor.
Rebuffs of this kind might certainly have taught a lesson of moderation to one of another stamp, but they only roused the passionate Diether, supported by the Count Palatine Frederick, to greater energy in his agitation against the Apostolic See. On the 22nd of February, 1461, he took into his service Gregor Heimburg, the bitterest enemy of Rome and Pius II. This man had already been excommunicated by the Pope and had done much to aggravate the conflict between Duke Sigismund of the Tyrol and Cardinal Cusa.
The contest in question was closely connected with Cusa’s zeal for the liberty and purity of the Church entrusted to his care.
The ecclesiastical troubles of preceding years had paved the way for grievous abuses in the Tyrol, as well as in most parts of Germany, and fearful immorality prevailed amongst clergy and laity. It was only natural that Cusa, full of zeal as he was for the reform and welfare of his country, should concentrate all his energies on the diocese which had been entrusted to his care in the spring of 1452. The Cardinal set to work with all the vehemence of his Rhenish temperament, but the majority of his flock failed to cooperate as they ought to have done in his labours for the true welfare of their country. Cusa was too great for the narrow politics of the Tyrol, the extraordinary powers entrusted to him by Rome were not respected, and conflicts arose on every side.
Difficulties such as these would have damped the courage of an ordinary man, but that of Cusa rose to the occasion. He was resolved at any cost to carry out the reform of his Diocese; his special attention was directed to the Religious Orders, the scandal of whose moral corruption was aggravated by their profession of a life of poverty and self-abnegation. The extent of the evil may be estimated by the violent opposition which the regulations of the new Bishop encountered. The Poor Clares of Brixen in particular were distinguished by the obstinacy of their resistance, and even the intervention of the Holy See was ineffectual. The nuns treated the Papal Brief with as little respect as the Interdict and Excommunication pronounced by the Cardinal. Experience has long since shown that the only effectual resource in such cases is the introduction of fresh members thoroughly imbued with the religious spirit, and by this means Cusa at length succeeded in improving the state of the Brixen Convent. In other places also, as, for example, in the ancient Premonstratentian Monastery of Wilten, near Innsbruck, he accomplished the necessary reform by summoning monks from a distance.
Cusa’s most serious contest was with the nuns of the Benedictine Convent of Sonnenburg, in the Pusterthal, where a secular spirit had made terrible inroads. The right of jurisdiction over this house was doubtful. A dispute had arisen between the nuns and their dependents in Enneberg, and the former had applied to Duke Sigismund as Governor and Sovereign, and the latter to the Bishop of Brixen. Both Cusa and Sigismund brought the matter before their respective tribunals, and a violent quarrel was the result. Cusa thought it right to cling all the more firmly to his claim of jurisdiction over the Convent as a means of carrying out the ecclesiastical reform which he had so much at heart. This, however, was precisely what the nuns of Sonnenburg were determined to resist. They maintained that the Cardinal had no concern with the reform, but only with the temporalities of the Convent. When he insisted on the observance of the decisions of the Synod held at Salzburg in 1451, especially of those regarding enclosure, they turned to Duke Sigismund for protection. This dissolute Prince was a strange champion for a convent of nuns, but he was equal to the occasion. The assistance which he promised to the nuns rendered them so stiff-necked that Cusa thought it necessary to adopt strong measures. In 1455, the sentence of greater excommunication was pronounced on the obstinate inmates of the convent, who thereupon appealed to the Pope. Calixtus III disapproved of the Cardinal’s severity, and recommended, for the sake of avoiding scandal, that the matter should be amicably adjusted. Cusa, however, would yield nothing, and the nuns persevered in their resistance, relying on the protection of the Duke.
The Sonnenburg dispute caused the learned Cardinal to make a thorough investigation of the old documents, charters and privileges of his Church. The result of his researches was to convince him of his right to claim the dignity of a Prince of the German Empire, ranking immediately after the King of the Romans. Sigismund declared these pretensions outrageous on the ground that they ignored the legitimate developments of more recent events. The Sonnenburg question soon fell into the background and resolved itself into a contest between the sovereignty which had grown up and the imposing immunities of the early mediaeval period.
Cusa’s severity towards the Sonnenburg nuns is hardly surprising when we find that so hostile a spirit soon manifested itself against him as a “stranger”, and he seriously thought of abandoning a sphere in which he encountered so many hindrances, and even commenced negotiations for resigning his Bishopric to a Bavarian Prince. The situation became more and more insupportable. The secular and regular clergy, who had no wish to be reformed, vied with each other in placing difficulties in the way of their Bishop. “Since the rebellion of Jezabel” (the Abbess of Sonnenburg), wrote Cusa to his confidential friend, the Prior of Tegernsee, “the Poor Clares at Brixen have also become incredibly audacious. The Premonstratentians at Wilten, who had begun to walk in the way of salvation, are looking back; my doings are not to the taste of my Cathedral Chapter, for they love the peace of this world. The nobles threaten more and more. The Prince keeps silence or favours ;my adversaries, and as they cannot yet reach me, they stir up others to violence in order to intimidate me”. The common people disregarded the Cardinal’s commands even when accompanied by threats of the severest penalties. Under these circumstances “Cusa everywhere suspected plots even against his life, and saw dangers where none really existed”. To escape from these supposed perils he fled in July, 1457, to Andraz, an almost inaccessible mountain fortress in Buchenstein, hired mercenary troops in the Venetian territory, and accused Duke Sigismund to the Pope of intending to take his life. Calixtus III accordingly threatened the Duke with excommunication, and his dominions with an Interdict. Eight days were allowed him to restore to the Cardinal that perfect liberty and security which he required for the exercise of his pastoral office.
The Duke on receiving the Pope’s Bull applied to a friendly lawyer, and by his advice issued on the 1st November, 1457, a protest against the sentence of the Holy See, founded, he complained, on a mere rumour, and appealed to the Pope better informed. At the same time he sent a safe-conduct to Cusa signed with his own hand. There can be no doubt that the friend whose influence induced the Duke to take this momentous step was Gregor Heimburg, the declared enemy of the Holy See. This highly gifted, but violent man, “henceforth became the leading spirit in all the serious opposition to Rome”. From the time that Heimburg took part in the dispute there was small hope of coming to a satisfactory arrangement. The breach was further widened, and its bitterness intensified by the claims which Cusa’s representative urged at the Diet of Bruneck (13th January, 1458). He demanded the restoration of the Castles which had in ancient times been taken from the Church of Brixen, the recognition of the Cardinal as the lawful ruler of the Innthal and Norithal, and the restitution of all fiefs of the Diocese held by Duke Sigismund in these valleys, on the ground that they had escheated. On the 6th of February, 1458, Sigismund made a second appeal, accompanying it with a declaration that he did not acknowledge the Interdict. The spirit which at this time prevailed among the Tyrolese clergy is shown by the fact that the greater number joined in the appeal and paid no heed to the sentence.
The death of Calixtus III summoned Cusa to Rome, where he found his friend Aeneas Sylvius, under the title of Pius II, in the chair of St. Peter. The new Pope at once undertook the part of a mediator, and summoned Cusa and Sigismund to appear in his presence at Mantua in November, 1459. The appointment of Gregor Heimburg as his agent was a strange return for the fatherly kindness with which Pius II received Sigismund. We have already spoken of Heimburg’s intrigues against the crusade, and of his abuse of the Pope. The selection of such a man to conduct negotiations on his behalf was little calculated to promote the restoration of peace, and Cusa’s irritation and his claim to the exercise of absolute spiritual and temporal power within the limits of his diocese destroyed any lingering hope of success. Notwithstanding the exasperation of the contending parties, Pius II still strove to mediate between them, and to bring about an agreement clearly defining the relations between the Bishop of Brixen and the temporal lord of the Tyrol. Sigismund rudely rejected these proposals, he even protested against the competency of the Papal tribunal, and, to the great grief of Pius II, left Mantua on the 29th of November.
In spite of this failure the Pope again resumed the negotiations, but his efforts were frustrated by the persistent and increasing animosity of the two opponents. In March, 1460, at a Synod at Bruneck, Cusa renewed the Interdict which the Pope had suspended for two years, and proceeded to inform the Duke that, in the event of mild measures proving ineffectual, he would make over to the Emperor all the fiefs of the Church of Brixen. Sigismund then resolved upon an act of violence, and, on Easter Day, caused the unsuspecting Cardinal to be arrested and imprisoned at Bruneck. Cusa was not released until he had signed an unfavourable treaty.
The consternation of Pius II was extreme when he heard of the outrage offered to a Prince of the Church, one personally dear to him and bearing a name honoured alike throughout Eastern and Western Christendom. The deed perpetrated at Bruneck was in his eyes a grievous insult to the Apostolic See, to the Sacred College, and to the Church at large. It was an encouragement to all who had a mind to lay violent hands on her property or her dignitaries, an attack on her liberty and on the inviolability of her members and possessions, and a challenge to her authority. He therefore resolved to withstand the Duke with all the resources of his spiritual power. Legal proceedings were at once commenced, and Sigismund was required to appear in person and answer for himself on the 4th August.
The Duke’s reply was an appeal from the Pope ill-informed, to the Pope better informed, and in this appeal the majority of the Tyrolese Clergy supported him. On the 8th August, in consequence of his disobedience to the Papal summons, the sentence of greater excommunication was pronounced at Siena against him and his adherents. Even before the tidings of this excommunication reached the Ducal Court at Innsbruck, Sigismund took a step “which was in every way calculated to render the breach irreparable”. He entrusted the whole conduct of his affairs to the impetuous Heimburg, who carried the irresolute Duke away with him in his passionate and reckless opposition to the Holy See, in which personal aversion had no small share. On the 13th August, Sigismund issued a fresh and yet stronger appeal to the future Roman Pontiff and to a general Council, utterly disregarding the decree of the Pope at Mantua, which expressly prohibited such a course. Heimburg was the author of this document.
The revolt was now fairly inaugurated, and Pius II at once met it by decisive measures. Briefs were dispatched in all directions, announcing the excommunication of Sigismund, and prohibiting all intercourse with him or his territory. A manifesto of the 19th August detailed the reasons of the excommunication, and the Emperor and the Bund were required to wrest the Tyrol from the Duke. Switzerland was the only country in which this proclamation had any effect. The German Princes condemned the action of the Pope, the majority of them openly espousing the cause of Sigismund; the prohibition of intercourse was disregarded by almost all the cities. Even the Princes of the Church for the most part neglected to take any measures for carrying out the Papal commands. In the Tyrol itself the laity and most of the clergy declared themselves on the side of the Duke, who displayed a feverish energy in face of the dangers which threatened him. He applied for assistance not only to his father-in-law, King James of Scotland, but to other Princes who, like Diether of Isenburg and Charles VII of France, were more or less hostile to the Holy See. A memorial against the Pope was at once drawn up in Latin and circulated throughout the Tyrol; and in the beginning of September a defence in Latin and German was sent out from Innsbruck to the temporal and spiritual Princes far and near. This document strongly insisted on Sigismund’s “rights as Lord of the country”. On the 9th September, the appeal of the 13th August was reiterated. The Cathedral Chapter of Brixen also appealed and declared the Papal Interdict invalid.
Sigismund’s new appeal and the defence both proceeded from the pen of Heimburg. These writings, like the productions of Luther and Hutten in a succeeding generation, were disseminated throughout the whole of Germany with extreme rapidity. The numerous copies to be found in the German Libraries bear witness to their extensive circulation. The appeals were like the Papal Indulgences affixed to the Church doors in Germany and Italy, and even as a hostile demonstration in Florence and Siena.
In the autumn of 1460 Pius II took proceedings against Heimburg in person as the chief instigator of the Duke, and the author of the obstinate opposition to the Apostolic See. He was excommunicated by name, and all the ecclesiastical and temporal authorities of Germany were desired to seize this “son of the devil”.
Heimburg now gave free vent to his rage. He began by appending a series of abusive marginal notes to the Bull which condemned him, directed not only against the person, but also against the Primacy of the Pope. This was followed by a new appeal to a Council, an invective exceeding all former attacks in violence. He accuses the Pope of being more garrulous than a magpie, and of having at Mantua praised adultery and crimes against public morality, and maintains the supremacy of Councils. “Hold fast what you have gained”, he says to the clergy, “the Council is the fortress of your liberties, the corner-stone of your dignity. Rend the feeble nets and break the worthless bonds which you have taken pains to forge for yourselves in your scholastic philosophy. And you, Princes and soldiers, who are accustomed in warfare to exercise your skill in seizing the best positions before the enemy can reach them, make haste to secure this most important point of the General Council, Should the Pope succeed in wresting this stronghold from you, you will find yourselves left without shield or spear and constrained to buy your lives at a heavy price, in the tribute which, under the mask of the Turkish war, is levied only to be spent for shameful and criminal purposes”. The Decree of Mantua is stigmatized by Heimburg as vain and senseless and the Pope is called a dotard and a heretic.
Pius II meanwhile had taken a further step against the Tyrolese rebels. On the 23rd January, 1461, he summoned Duke Sigismund, Gregor Heimburg, Lorenz Blumenau, Bishop George of Trent, all the Duke’s Counsellors, the Cathedral Chapter of Brixen, most of the Abbots of the Tyrolese Convents, a number of other spiritual and temporal Lords, and all clergy and laity of the Tyrol who had condemned the ecclesiastical Interdict, to appear within fifty days before his Tribunal to vindicate their orthodoxy, especially in regard to the article, “I believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”.
Heimburg replied on the 16th of May, 1461, by another appeal or rather manifesto, pouring contempt on the Papal summons, and full of revolutionary doctrines in regard to the spiritual power of the Papacy. “This appeal”, to quote the words of an historian who favours the Duke, “was certainly a considerable advance on the part of Sigismund and Heimburg, and it might seriously be asked whether they still remained within the sphere of the Catholic body, or had withdrawn from it and taken refuge in that abstract and universal church which exists only in the imagination”. On Wednesday in Holy Week, 1461, Pius II solemnly excluded Gregor Heimburg as a heretic from the Communion of the Church. On Maundy Thursday (2nd April) he reiterated the sentence of greater excommunication pronounced against him, as well as against Sigismund and his adherents. Sigismund retorted by causing Heimburg’s insolent manifesto of the 16th of March to be posted up in four places in Rome, but it was immediately torn down by the incensed populace.
The bad effects of the Duke’s example were but too apparent in the hostile attitude assumed by the Archbishop of Mayence in the spring of 1461. Heimburg had brought about an alliance between these two Princes. The day after he entered Diether’s service, the deliberations of the Diet of Nuremberg began (23rd February, 1461). In this Electoral Diet the anti-Papal opposition reached its climax.
Diether of Isenburg was the leading spirit of this Assembly. The lesser excommunication pronounced by the Papal judge in consequence of his non-payment of the Annates had so incensed him that he threatened to do his utmost against Rome. Emboldened by finding such a goodly array of Princes assembled in Nuremberg in answer to his summons he cast aside all consideration for the Head of the Church.
However unbecoming the action of the Papal judge might have been in thus proceeding against the first Prince of the Empire, it certainly was neither so important nor so irrevocable as to justify the extraordinary step at once taken by Diether. For, instead of availing himself of the nearest legal remedy, or complaining to the Pope of the treatment to which he had been subjected, he issued a formal appeal to a Council which, according to the decisions of Constance and Basle was to be held once in every ten years, committing himself, his Church and all who would join him to its protection. He declared that he could not appeal to the Pope, inasmuch as it was thought that he was a party to the judge’s act. Nevertheless, he was willing to do so if Pius II would refer the matter to the arbitration of some Prelate who was above suspicion; otherwise he appealed to his successor, who would have the right to revise his proceedings.
A Protestant historian considers that it would have been almost impossible to offer a deeper insult to Pius II than such an appeal, which passed over all the ordinary legal means and completely ignored the authority of the Pope. It was true that he had himself in former days at Basle defended this method of procedure. But his recent decree at Mantua had expressly forbidden it, denounced the principle on which it rested as a dangerous and destructive heresy, and declared that all authors and abettors of such an appeal from the Emperor himself down to the clerk who transcribed it would thereby incur the greater excommunication from which the Pope alone could absolve them at the hour of death. Most probably it was Heimburg, who was at this time in Nuremberg, who induced the Archbishop to take this rash step. The appeal bears marks of having been written by him. Diether’s rupture with Rome was now final.
In obedience to the Pope’s command, Cardinal Bessarion had at once sent an Embassy to Nuremberg to explain that it was not the intention of Rome to demand anything, however small, without the consent of the nation. Neither this Embassy, however, nor the two Nuncios seem to have arrived in time to intervene in the deliberations of the Diet.
Diether had now full scope for his anti-Roman agitation. He enjoyed the triumph of seeing not only the Count Palatine Frederick, but also the Elector Frederick of Brandenburg, his brothers, Albert and John, together with the Bishop of Wurzburg, likewise appeal. The Bohemian Ambassadors alone held aloof from this demonstration, as their master had good reasons for not breaking with Rome.
Frederick III also was bitterly attacked at Nuremberg. Antagonism towards him was in many ways interwoven with opposition to the Pope, and each gathered strength from the other. On the 1st of March the Electors of Mayence, of the Palatinate, and of Brandenburg, addressed a threatening letter to the Emperor. They described the deplorable condition of the Empire, complained of the negligence of Frederick, who for fifteen years had not been seen in this portion of it, and invited him to a Diet at Frankfort on the Sunday after Pentecost (31st May). Should the Emperor fail to appear they would decide and act without him, as might be necessary for the welfare of the Empire. On the same day the Electors bound themselves by a solemn promise, equivalent to an oath, not to suffer themselves to be turned from their purpose by Pope or by Emperor.
On the 2nd March the Elector Frederick and the Margraves, Albert and John, together with the Count Palatine, addressed a letter to the Pope expressing their astonishment that he should have required from Archbishop Diether a larger sum than his predecessors had paid for the Pallium. This demand, they declared, inflicted fresh injury on the Church of Mayence, which was once the most powerful in the Empire, but had suffered considerably from wars and calamities, it infringed the rights of the Councils, and violated the Concordats which former Popes had concluded with the German nation, and would lead to the ruin of the Church in Germany. They most humbly begged His Holiness to be satisfied with the ancient tax which the Archbishop was ready at any moment to pay and to remove the penalties inflicted upon him and his adherents. If the Pope refused to grant their request, concluded the letter in a tone of menace, they and almost all the Princes of the German nation would range themselves on Diether’s side and support him by word and act.
As if the Apostolic See had not been sufficiently offended by his first appeal, Diether shortly afterwards issued a second. In this he complained of the attitude of Bessarion in Vienna, and of the numerous Indulgences by which the coffers of the devout were emptied and of the exorbitant claim of Annates. This appeal and a joint manifesto in accordance with it were signed by a large number of the Princes and Envoys. A yet more important symptom of the general feeling was the fact that the Council of Archbishop John of Treves eagerly took part in all these measures against the Holy See. The ultimate goal of the opposition conducted by Diether and Heimburg was evidently a German imitation of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges; the bond between the German Church and the centre of unity was to be as far as possible loosened, and Germany placed in a semi-schismatical position.
It is very remarkable that the opposition should have been so strong in Germany against a Pope whose own countrymen accused him of German sympathies. But it is easy to see how little importance is to be attached to all these fine words about the liberty and honour of Germany; they were but a mask to cover selfish aims and private interests. Where was the patriotism of men who did not shrink from an alliance with the French monarch who was still hankering after the Rhine country? Full details are wanting, but it is a fact that Heimburg was sent to the French Court to consult with the King as to measures to be taken by the German and French opposition in common. Nor did the German Princes scorn other foreign assistance, they thought of a treaty with King Rene, who was in active antagonism to the Pope on the Neapolitan question. It is obvious that the triumph of King Rene, and with him of French influence in Italy, would not have promoted the interests of Germany.
After the Count Palatine Frederick and Diether had on the 6th March joined the Electoral Union, the dissolution of the Diet was decided upon. This body demanded amongst other things a general Council and a fresh Assembly in Frankfort on the 22nd May; all private negotiations with the Roman Court were prohibited.
The dissolution of the Diet was accepted unanimously, but discontent and mistrust soon broke forth again among the confederates, who were occupied solely with their own private interests, and no one of whom was prepared to make any sacrifice for the cause which he professed to advocate. The Assembly which had seemed so seriously to threaten the two chief powers of Christendom had but glossed over for a time the ancient party strifes. Margrave Albert discovered to the Emperor “in profound secrecy” the plans which had been framed in the Diet, and in the course of a few months Diether’s work was undone, and everything that had been sealed and sworn to at Nuremberg was forgotten.
The tidings of these proceedings had caused the greatest consternation alike at the Imperial and the Papal Courts. Frederick III turned to Pius II for assistance. “Consider, Holy Father”, he wrote on the 7th April, “how rampant the factions in the Empire have grown. See how they presume to lay down the law to Us both. It is absolutely necessary that We should at once combine to oppose their designs. We beg Your counsel and assistance. In Diether you may see the consequence of granting ecclesiastical confirmation without consulting the temporal ruler. At any rate do not let him be consecrated Archbishop”. Frederick III sent his Marshal, Henry of Pappenheim, throughout the Empire to dissuade and threaten those who might have been disposed to attend the proposed Diet at Frankfort.
The dangerous nature of the situation had been recognized first in Rome, and decisive measures had been taken. Even before the arrival of the alarming tidings from Germany, Pius II, ever watchful and armed, had dispatched, as his Nuncios to that country, the Canon Francis of Toledo and Rudolf of Rüdesheim, the Dean of the Cathedral Chapter of Worms. They were to treat with the German Princes in regard to their grievances, and in particular to give reassuring explanations on the subject of the levy of the tithes. They showed great skill in accomplishing the difficult task of quieting the storm which threatened ecclesiastical authority. No doubt in their conflict with this many-headed movement, they were at an advantage in being the servants of a united power. Still it is greatly to their credit that they were able so completely to soothe the partisans of the Council, and to separate them from the Archbishop of Mayence, as Pius desired.
The Papal Nuncios next succeeded in detaching Albert Achilles from the party of opposition. They assured him that it was not the Pope's intention to impose the tithes without the consent of the nation. They formally apologized for Bessarion’s threatening language in Vienna. He had had no such instructions from the Pope, but had been carried away by his own eager interest in the matter and wounded feelings. They also justified Pius II’s proceedings against Duke Sigismund and the friendly relations with the King of Bohemia, which he had hitherto maintained. In regard to the Council they declared that Pius II. would consent to it on condition that the temporal powers should cooperate in carrying out the reforms decreed by the Bishops.
When the Nuncios had also induced the Count Palatine Frederick and the Archbishop of Treves to withdraw from the appeal, the isolation of Diether was almost complete; and the failure of the Assembly at Frankfort which was opposed by the Pope as strongly as by the Emperor, might be predicted with certainty. Nevertheless, following the counsels of the impetuous Heimburg, he would not hear of yielding. In vain did his clergy urge him to retrace his steps, in vain did the Papal Nuncios declare themselves ready to come to terms if the Archbishop would but recall his appeal. When Frankfort, the Imperial city of Germany, at the command of Frederick III, refused to receive the proposed Assembly, he changed its place of meeting to his own Episcopal City.
The Diet of Mayence was very ill-attended, “the Imperial Cities in general, as well as the Electors of Cologne, Treves, and Bohemia were unrepresented. The Archbishop, in fact, stood alone with the Tyrolese Envoys; there were no others, and these had private reasons for their hostility to the Church”.
The proceedings began on the 4th June with a defeat for the opposition, for the excommunicated Heimburg was prevented by the Papal Nuncios from attending the Sessions. On the following day Diether, in a long speech, brought forward his complaints against Rome and demanded a General Council as the only remedy against the encroachments of the Apostolic See. He characterized the Tithes and Indulgences as frauds, and the Turkish war as merely a pretext to support them.
Rudolf of Rüdesheim, distinguished alike as a diplomatist and a canonist, defended the Holy See against Diether’s attacks with equal courage and success. His discourse was a masterpiece, temperate in its language, prudent and conciliatory in its treatment of questions of general interest, broad in its point of view, uncompromising and trenchant in dealing with the particular cases which touched the authority and doctrines of the Church. At the same time the two Nuncios emphatically declared that it had never been the intention of the Pope, and was not now his will to burden the German nation in opposition to the wishes of its Princes and Prelates with the imposition of the tithe determined at Mantua, nor to inflict on any one the spiritual penalties threatened in the Bull on this subject.
These words dealt a heavy blow to the opposition. These ardent reformers once convinced that they would not be required to put their hands in their pockets for the expenses of the Crusade, forgot all about the oppressions of Rome, together with their grand projects of a General Council and a Pragmatic Sanction, and left Diether to his fate.
The defeat of the Conciliar Party was sealed shortly afterwards by Diether’s promise, in the hope that the Pope would also make some concession or would extend the time for the payment of the Annates, to desist from whatever was displeasing to the Holy Father and to comply with his wishes. We can hardly be surprised that this unprincipled man was not trusted in Rome, especially when we find that he soon made a fresh attempt at opposition. With a view of bringing pressure to bear upon the Pope, he invited the German Princes, Prelates and Universities to resume the Diet of Mayence at Michaelmas, in order again to discuss the Turkish war, the tithes and the grievances of the nation and adopt suitable resolutions.
This meeting did not take place. Pius II having found another candidate for the Archbishopric in the person of the Canon Adolph of Nassau, secretly sent John Werner of Flassland as his agent to Germany, with Bulls, depriving Diether, and granting the Papal institution to his opponent. Flassland arrived safely at Mayence, where Adolph of Nassau at once summoned a meeting of the Cathedral Chapter. Diether, who had heard of the danger which threatened him, was present. Adolph, however, was by no means perplexed; with the Papal Bull in his hand he announced Diether’s deposition and his own appointment. The former at once protested and appealed from the Pope ill-informed to the Pope better informed, but he was not able to hinder the enthronement of his adversary. He also issued a violent defence, in which he related his whole contest with Rome, protested against his deposition, and declared that he did not acknowledge the prohibition of appeal on the ground that it had not the sanction of the Council, and was contrary to all justice, human and divine. “If”, he said, “no one is to appeal from the oppression of a Pope to a future General Council, then we are all at the Pope’s mercy”.
Diether’s position was from the first far from encouraging, for the Imperial party, led by Albert Achilles, which had opposed him before now, unanimously took the side of Adolph of Nassau. The deposed Prelate nevertheless determined to fight. He trusted in the powerful Count Palatine, but when this crafty Prince assumed a procrastinating attitude, he for a moment completely lost courage.
Unprincipled as ever, wavering between submission and defiance, he at first promised to yield, and then again took up arms. On the nth November, 1461, Diether entered into a solemn agreement with Adolph, by which he undertook to give up his See on condition of receiving absolution from excommunication and a considerable indemnity in land and men at the expense of the Church of Mayence. Peace seemed to be thus restored, but on the very day when this contract was sealed and sworn, Diether sought assistance against Adolph. On the 12th November his Envoys absolutely denied, in a letter to the Council of Mayence, the existence of any treaty between them. On the 19th he made a fresh alliance with the Count Palatine for the vindication of his claim to the Archbishopric, assigning to him the cities and castles of the Bergstrasse as the price of the aid he was to render.
A fierce conflict now broke forth, involving all the country bordering on the Rhine in the miseries and horrors attendant on the warfare of the period. Early in the following year the feud between the families of Hohenzollern and Wittelsbach blazed forth afresh, and the greater part of the Empire was filled with the din of arms. The vicissitudes of this struggle do not enter into the scope of our work.
On the 8th January, 1462, Pius II published a severe Bull against Diether. He required him within the space of eighteen days to give up all lands belonging to the archbishopric; in the event of his disobedience the heaviest ecclesiastical penalties were to be inflicted on him and his adherents, and all places in which they might sojourn were to be laid under an Interdict. Immediately after this, urgent requisitions were sent from Rome to the cities of Cologne and Frankfort, calling upon them to support Adolph of Nassau. On the first February the proceedings against Diether were justified in a detailed memorandum which also claimed help for Adolph, and insisted on the execution of the Papal censures. Francis of Toledo and Pietro Ferrici were sent to Germany as Nuncios to labour in the cause of the Pope, which they zealously did by word of mouth, by letters and manifestoes. But this time success was more difficult, for the rebels were now attached to Diether’s cause by-strong ties of material interest and advantage, both actual and prospective.
At Spires the Papal Bull of excommunication was torn down from the Cathedral door; the Count Palatine forbade its publication in his camp under pain of death. He, like Diether, appealed to the Council, as if he could thus wipe out the Pope. On the 30th March Diether addressed a manifesto from Höchst to all temporal and spiritual Princes, calling upon them to take to heart and consider how very unjustly and dishonourably he had been treated, imploring them not to hinder him in the maintenance of his righteous cause, but rather to punish such ungodly dealing, and to grant him help and support. By means of Gutenberg's printing-press, numerous copies of this manifesto which, it was hoped, would arouse a strong feeling against Rome, were disseminated throughout Germany.
Pius II had no thought of yielding. A fresh Encyclical of May 1st, 1462, called upon all the Estates of the Empire to assist Adolph of Nassau
Diether made great efforts to prevent the clergy from observing the Interdict. With this object in view he appeared in person at Frankfort-on-Maine on the 19th September, 1462. The Town Council would not allow him to proceed against the loyal clergy within the walls. The Archbishop, however, could not be prevented from going to St. Bartholomew’s. Here the doors were of course shut, but he was not to be so easily hindered; he caused the doors to be broken open, and as far as was necessary, the windows, and thus by main force celebrated Divine worship in the Church which had for weeks been closed on account of the Interdict.
The capture of the City of Mayence by his enemies on the 28th October, 1462, was a serious blow to Diether. Deprived of this stronghold he became more and more dependent on the Count Palatine. Many attempts were made to end this unholy warfare. But all were fruitless until the spring of 1463, when Rupert, brother of the Count Palatine, was elected Archbishop of Cologne, and anxious to secure the Confirmation of his Election, made serious efforts to bring about a peace. At Oppenheim he succeeded in inducing the contending parties to consent to a truce from April 24th to November nth, 1463. At the expiration of this period, it seemed likely that war would break forth anew, when affairs took a most unexpected turn.
The adherents of Nassau had long been desirous of breaking the alliance between Frederick and Diether. This at length came to pass. Diether, who had some reason to distrust his self-interested friend, entered into an agreement with Adolph in October, 1463. In consideration of being left in possession of a small territory, he renounced the Archbishopric, while Adolph promised to be responsible for all his debts and to bring about his reconciliation with the Pope and the Emperor. This agreement was soon afterwards ratified at Frankfort in presence of Pietro Ferrici, the Nuncio to whom Pius II had entrusted plenary powers. Diether, in token of his abdication, gave up his Electoral sword to Archbishop Adolph in a public assembly and did homage to him as his Lord. Then on his knees he asked for and received absolution from the sentence of excommunication.
The Count Palatine Frederick was more difficult to deal with; at length, however, the representations of his brother Rupert induced him to agree to a peace on very favourable terms. Adolph promised to obtain absolution for him and his followers from the Pope, and together with his Cathedral Chapter, acknowledged the mortgage on the Bergstrasse. In the middle of March, 1464, at a Diet at Worms, he was solemnly received back into the Communion of the Church by Bishop Onofrio of Tricarico, and Canon Pietro Ferrici, the Papal Legates. Before his absolution the Count was required to make a declaration that during the contest he had never intended to withdraw from submission to the Apostolic See and that for the future he would always be loyal and obedient to it.
These two leaders of the anti-Papal opposition in Germany were far surpassed in obstinacy by Duke Sigismund of the Tyrol. The conflict between the democratic Conciliar theory, represented by Heimburg and Sigismund, and the monarchical constitution of the Church upheld by the Pope, had reached its climax in the Manifesto of the 16th March, 1461. The contest now entered upon its last stage, that of negotiations for peace. The exasperation of both parties was still intense; the violent measures of the Duke against those who respected the Papal censures must have produced a very painful impression in Rome. Yet fresh proposals of mediation were constantly brought forward. The inefficacy of the Papal penalties, together with the course of events in Germany, induced Pius to consent to negotiations. But Sigismund would not hear of making any kind of apology until the Pope should have withdrawn his censures. This, and the large demands made by Cusa, frustrated the conciliatory efforts of the Venetians who earnestly desired the end of a contest which seriously impeded their trade through the Tyrol.
In consequence of a happy combination of circumstances, a solution was at length brought about by means of the Emperor. “Most Holy Father”, wrote Frederick III on the 2nd February, 1464, “it is time that this matter should be settled. The authority of the Church, as we see, is too little respected. In consideration of the times in which we live a little indulgence is necessary. We beg your Holiness to consent to our continuing the negotiation and to commission the Bishop of Lepanto to return to us and to give him authority when the matter is settled and absolution is sought, to grant it together with the removal of the Interdict and whatever else may be necessary for the complete restoration of peace. For as soon as an arrangement has been arrived at in regard to the restitution and things depending thereon, We, in the name and stead of our cousin, in accordance with the Mandate which We shall receive, will solemnly and humbly beg of your Holiness or your Commissary, absolution, removal of penalties, restitution, and everything that is required”.
The sudden death of Cusa (11th August, 1464), which was followed three days later by that of Pius II, brought all these troubles to an end. On the 25th August, the proposals which had been solemnly presented by the Emperor on the 12th June were accepted. The principal articles were the following: The Bishopric of Brixen was to be restored to the Cardinal who was to hold it as his predecessors had done before the Compact of Bruneck, which was to be considered null and void. Obligations contracted previously to that event were to continue in force. All ecclesiastical and secular persons were to be reinstated in their former possessions and dignities. The Poor Clares whom Sigismund had banished from Brixen were to return to their convent. In regard to the jurisdiction over the convent of Sonnenburg and other points left undecided by this Convention, they were to be arranged in accordance with former deeds. The Cardinal, as Bishop of Brixen, was to grant investiture to the Duke, in the same manner as his predecessors had granted it to the Duke’s forefathers. All who have adhered to Sigismund are to be absolved; the Chapter of Brixen retains its ancient privileges. Frederick III having, with head uncovered, besought pardon and absolution for Sigismund from the Papal Legate, the latter absolved the Duke from excommunication and the other censures, and removed the Interdict. Heimburg was not absolved; from the time that the Emperor undertook the work of reconciliation, he vanishes from the scene in the Tyrol. The Czech King, George Podiebrad, subsequently furnished him with another opportunity of joining battle with Rome.
ATTEMPTED RECONCILIATION OF BOHEMIA WITH THE CHURCH
The opposition to the authority of the Holy See in both France and Germany proceeded from the Princes and men of learning, and was schismatical rather than heretical in its character. In Bohemia, however, the case was different, and the movement was all the more dangerous because most of the people had become alienated from the teaching of the Church.
In the summer of 1451, as Nuncio in Bohemia, Pius II had been able, from personal observation, to judge what deep roots these anti-Papal sentiments had taken in the nation. The so-called Compact, concluded in 1433, between the Bohemians and the Synod of Basle, had soon proved an absolutely insufficient basis for the establishment of a true and lasting peace. The Basle party to whom it was of the utmost importance to gain a palpable advantage over Eugenius IV, acted with as little good faith as the Bohemians. The document which granted the chalice to the laity was amply furnished with evasive clauses, and the Bohemians took it as a simple confirmation of their heresy with all its varying doctrines, forms and rites, without troubling themselves as to the exact import of the articles. On the 5th July, 1436, the Compact was published at the Diet at Iglan in Sigismund’s presence, but on the very next day fresh differences regarding the administration of the Sacrament arose between Rokyzana and the Legate from Basle, and they parted without being able to agree. No formal decision was given for a long time with regard to a great many of the disputed points, and no agreement was ever arrived at in regard to the reception of the Eucharist by children. Both parties were interested in ostentatiously misrepresenting the Compact. The Council acted as if the Bohemians had submitted, and the Bohemians as if their heresy had been sanctioned.
The concessions contained in the Compact were accepted by the Utraquists, but the accompanying conditions and obligations were utterly disregarded. Accordingly the Utraquist Clergy, while administering the Blessed Sacrament under both kinds to the laity, neglected to remind them that Christ was wholly and entirely present in each species, although the Compact plainly required them to do so. The conditions which bound them to conform to the Church in other matters of Dogma and Ritual were no better observed; they continued to deny the Catholic doctrine regarding Purgatory, Prayers for the Dead, Indulgences, and the use of images of the Saints. In 1448 the Councillors of Prague went so far as to forbid the private or public administration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist under one kind, at the same time proclaiming “with curious logic”, that the Compact was to be maintained inviolate! The meaning of all this was made clear when negotiations with the Byzantine Schismatics were set on foot. In this same year, 1448, the Catholic Cathedral Chapter and all the German Professors and students were compelled to leave Prague because they would not recognize Rokyzana, who had not received Archiepiscopal confirmation from Rome. Utraquism ruled supreme in the Bohemian capital. From the pulpit of the Teyn Church, Rokyzana could, without let or hindrance, abuse the Roman Church and proclaim the Pope to be closely connected with the Beast in the Apocalypse.
Thus it will be seen that the Compact had long been broken before Rome formally annulled it. The Holy See had always abstained from any recognition of the agreement entered into with the Synod of Basle. Throughout the weary period of the contest with the Conciliar Party the Popes had silently tolerated the exceptional position of affairs in Bohemia, while they clearly perceived that its continuance would constitute a danger to the Church.
The action of Rome in annulling the Compact was amply justified by the practical working of the treaty which proved more and more adverse to Catholic interests, while an Utraquist Church was growing up with the granting of the Chalice to the laity as its distinctive symbol. It was plain that no less decided measures would suffice to reunite Bohemia to the Church. But all efforts in this direction were frustrated by the fanaticism of the Czechs in regard to Communion under both kinds.
Better days seemed to dawn with the accession of George Podiebrad to the throne. His abjuration of the Hussite heresy and his Coronation Oath must have awakened hopes in Rome, that with his assistance the nation might be brought back to Unity. But his habitual duplicity was not laid aside in his dealings with the Apostolic See. Previously to his Coronation he had solemnly sworn, before two Catholic Bishops and a small number of witnesses, not only to be himself loyal and obedient to the Church and her Head, but also to bring his people back from all errors and heresies to complete obedience to the Roman Church, and union with Rome in ritual and worship. This oath was thoroughly Catholic, and left no room for any Utraquistic interpretation. It abandoned the Compact; nevertheless, the King made no difficulty in swearing to maintain the privileges of the Bohemian kingdom, amongst which the Utraquists reckoned this agreement. It was evident that he was aware of the contradiction between these two oaths from the pains which he took to keep both his abjuration of heresy and the Coronation Oath a profound secret.
It was only to be expected that double-dealing of this kind would sooner or later bring its own punishment. The non-fulfilment of his Coronation Oath exposed the King to the well-merited reproaches of the Holy See, while the attempt to redeem his solemn promise was equivalent to a declaration of war against the Utraquists, who were his most important partisans. All Podiebrad’s ingenuity was accordingly exercised in postponing the decisive moment when he must lay aside the mask and openly declare himself for or against Rome, in the meantime deriving all possible advantage from his ambiguous position.
At first things went better than he could have expected. In the beginning he had stipulated that time should be allowed him for the fulfilment of his promises, and this made it the more easy for him to put off the Holy See. Moreover, circumstances were taken into account at Rome, and the King was not pressed to hurry on the work of reunion.
In order to keep the Papal Court in good humour, George Podiebrad at once took up the question which was justly considered as the most important of the day, and as a matter of life or death to Christendom. He had already made splendid promises to the aged Pope, Calixtus III, in regard to the Turkish War, and he now continued to speak in the same tone to Pius II. It is not surprising, therefore, that it was determined in Consistory to send the Bohemian King an invitation to the Congress at Mantua, similar to that which was addressed to the other Christian Princes. Podiebrad lost no time in making use of this Brief, in which the Pope addressed him as “dear son”, for his own profit, and, as a matter of fact, the “little letter” brought many cities and districts to his feet. But, on the other hand, these evidences of friendly relations with Rome incited Rokyzana to fresh attacks upon the Catholics. By the instigation of this leader, Decrees were published in 1459, in the Utraquist districts, to the effect that no one should enter into possession of an inheritance, or acquire property unless he bound himself by oath to live and die in the use of the Chalice. Marriage in the Church and burial in consecrated ground, the right of citizenship in Prague and of admission to the Corporation, as well as the power of exercising a handicraft were all made dependent on the same condition. The great influence possessed by Rokyzana, as head of the Utraquist party, induced the King to tolerate, if not to sanction, this Edict which was equivalent to a breach of the Compact. If Pius II took account of these circumstances, and attributed the Edict to Rokyzana, and not to the King, yet he was evidently aware that the Bohemian monarch was playing the same game with him that he had so long carried on with his predecessor, Calixtus. The solemn Embassy, which had been empowered to complete the Union promised to that Pontiff, never arrived. By holding out expectations and making empty promises, George sought to obtain from the Holy See a full recognition of his position, and at the same time to avoid any step which would compromise him before the Hussites. He was most anxious that the validity of his title should be acknowledged by the whole Catholic world at the approaching Congress, if he made up his mind to send representatives there. But the Pope demanded a complete and public profession of obedience in his own name and that of the kingdom of Bohemia, and George did not think it possible to go so far. Accordingly, in February, 1459, Provost John of Rabenstein was sent to the Papal Court to promise obedience to the Pope in the name of the King and the Royal family, but not in that of the kingdom, and this act was to be performed in a Secret Consistory. Pius II continued firm in his determination not to recognize George publicly as King until he should have made a public profession of obedience.
The Congress which had now just opened at Mantua gave Podiebrad a very favourable opportunity for treating with the Pope. Pius II, whose mind was almost exclusively engrossed by the Turkish War, here experienced the first great disappointment of his Pontificate. The more indifferent the Christian Princes in general appeared in this matter, the greater was the apparent zeal on the part of Podiebrad. He announced the speedy arrival of his Envoys, and broadly hinted that he hoped to stifle the arrogance of the Hussites, and wipe out the stain of heresy in the war against the Turks. The effect of this crafty policy was to induce Pius II. to modify his attitude. In his answer to the announcement that Bohemian Envoys would appear at the Congress, he for the first time, without circumlocution, styled George, King, begging him to come in person to Mantua, or to send Ambassadors; and further explained that if Rabenstein had not been received as a Royal Envoy, it was because he had come in a private manner.
Podiebrad neither came in person nor sent representatives to the Congress, excusing himself on the plea that until he was lord over all his subjects, he could undertake no step in the matter of union. This had reference especially to the people of Breslau, who withheld their allegiance on the ground that he was a heretic. In the beginning of September, Jerome Lando, Archbishop of Crete, and Francis of Toledo were sent to Silesia to settle this difference. As they were also to treat of the Turkish War and the reconciliation of Bohemia with the Church, they went, in the first instance, to Prague. Here George used every effort to win over the Papal Nuncios, and was completely successful. At Breslau, where he was hated more as a Czech than a heretic, they experienced considerable difficulty. At length, however, they were able to bring about a settlement, and it was arranged that, after the expiration of three years, homage should be rendered to him as a Catholic King.
The last remaining antagonism to Podiebrad was thus removed by Papal intervention. The King was lavish in expressions of gratitude, and declared that nothing lay nearer to his heart than the reconciliation of Bohemia with the Church, and the war against the Turks. But his deeds did not correspond with his words. Month after month went by, yet his Envoys did not arrive at Mantua. The delay necessarily awakened distrust in the mind of the Pope, who, unable any longer to conceal his impatience, sent the Royal Procurator, Fantino de Valle, who was at the time in Rome, to Prague to remonstrate with Podiebrad. But the Bohemian monarch contrived so thoroughly to convince this messenger of his sincerity that from henceforth he became his most ardent defender in Rome. On the 12th September, 1460, the King assured the Pope that he adhered with unchanging fidelity to his oath; his delay arose from the difficulties of his position, but in the following February at the latest his Embassy would arrive to do homage; his sincere desire was by prudence to prepare the way for the restoration of the true faith.
Meanwhile, in reality George’s mind was occupied with matters of a very different nature. He sought to win the Crown of Germany, and as, with this object in view, he entered into a close alliance with the anti-Papal party there, he naturally again aroused the suspicions of the Roman Court; when this project failed, he next conceived the bold idea of becoming King of the Romans with the help of the Pope. Had Podiebrad really been a champion and Martyr of the Hussites, as some prejudiced historians have represented, it would have been impossible for him to have cherished such a- scheme as this. In reality his religious convictions, as far as the term has any meaning as applied to a man of his stamp, always retired out of sight whenever his political interest or his schemes of personal aggrandizement required them to disappear.
Accordingly he now offered his services to Pius II, against the German opponents of the Papacy, formerly his own political friends, for he really cared as little about a rearrangement of ecclesiastical affairs in Germany as about the so-called reform of the Empire. This is proved by the Instruction for treating with the Pope, a draft which, though never seen by Pius II, is still a most important document. How, it may be asked, did George intend to win the Pope to his views? By nothing less than the reunion of Bohemia with the Church. He declared himself ready to consent that the Pope should appoint an Archbishop of Prague, or invest a worthy ecclesiastic with Archiepiscopal powers until such time as one should be lawfully appointed. If Pius II would send a qualified Legate to Bohemia, the King, conjointly with the Administrator of the Archdiocese, would find means to restore the unity of faith in the kingdom without bloodshed. Nor would he have any difficulty in publicly and solemnly doing homage and professing obedience to the Holy See in the name of his whole kingdom, as his predecessors had done before him. The severe measures taken by the King against the smaller sects in his kingdom (from March, 1461) seemed in harmony with these professions. The Utraquists became very uneasy, and the storm broke when, on Maundy Thursday, 1461, the Bishop of Breslau, of course in the absence of the wily Podiebrad, preached openly in the Castle of Prague against the administration of the Chalice to the laity. It now became evident that Rokyzana, supported by the Utraquist mob, was more powerful than the King, who, while stretching out his hand to grasp the Roman Crown, felt the ground beginning to give way under his feet. The excitement in Bohemia reached such a pitch that he deemed it prudent to abandon his hopes of the crown, and unreservedly to recognize Utraquism. An extraordinary Diet was assembled at Prague in the month of May, at which he solemnly promised to maintain the use of the Chalice for the laity, and also the Compact.
Meanwhile Podiebrad had come to be thoroughly distrusted in Rome. “If the Bohemian Envoys do not soon arrive” wrote the faithful Fantino, “your Majesty will be disgraced; all now look on me as a liar”. A letter of safe-conduct for the Bohemians had been issued on the 30th June, 1461, but still no one came. Pius II waited yet another half-year, and at the end of that time his patience was at length exhausted. On the 1st January, 1462, he wrote to the Archbishop of Crete, whom he had sent to Vienna, Prague, and Breslau, and empowered him, in case the King should still delay to carry out his obligations as to the question of faith, indefinitely to postpone the submission of the citizens of Breslau. He was also to bring about an alliance against the King between that city and all the neighbouring powers, both within Silesia and beyond it, and pronounce void all contrary oaths, promises and agreements.
At length, after three years of delay, Podiebrad made up his mind to send the Embassy. Its object was twofold, to do homage to the Pope in the name of the kingdom of Bohemia, and at the same time to ask for the confirmation of the compact! Its composition was in harmony with its purpose, for it had two chiefs—the Catholic Chancellor Procopius von Rabenstein, and the Hussite, Zdenko Kostka, of Postupitz. Two Utraquist theologians, Wenzel Wrbensky and Wenzel Koranda, were among its members, and most of our information regarding the ensuing events is derived from the reports of these last.
The Envoys travelled slowly southwards, passing through Vienna, where Wolfgang Forchtenauer joined them as the representative of the Emperor. They reached Rome on the 10th of March. Here the general feeling was very unfavourable to the King. It was well-known that he only adopted this line of action because his plans had failed in Germany. Cardinal Cusa, whom the Pope had charged to examine the Bohemian affairs, was full of distrust. Pius II himself, on the 11th of March, told the Milanese Ambassador in confidence that “the semi-heretical King of Bohemia was utterly untrustworthy, and had been a dissimulator from his childhood”. No more unfortunate moment could have been selected by George for obtaining concessions which had hitherto been steadily refused by the Papal Court. The whole position of ecclesiastical and political affairs had apparently changed greatly to the advantage of the restored Papacy. Sigismund of the Tyrol persevered in his revolt, but the Archbishop of Mayence was virtually subdued, the German Conciliar party was broken up, and now the King of France was abandoning the Pragmatic Sanction. By a strange coincidence the Bohemian Ambassadors arrived just in time to witness this fresh triumph of the Papacy. In a private interview, Cardinal Bessarion at once pointed out to them the splendid example of Louis XI, who had renounced the Pragmatic Sanction; “and you must know”, he added, “that in France one hundred and one Bishops, many great Abbeys, and a large number of the Clergy opposed this measure with all their might, but the King’s determination carried it through. You see what renown he has gained by this. Your King has only to act in a similar manner to obtain a like reward”.
On Friday, the 19th March, Kostka, the most confidential Councillor of King George, was summoned alone into the Pope’s presence. In this interview Pius II vainly endeavoured to convince the Bohemian Baron that the Compact was no longer valid, inasmuch as the generation to which it had been granted had nearly died out; moreover the Bohemians had violated it in many ways, and thus forfeited all right to it.
On the following day the Envoys had their audience. After an introductory discourse from the Imperial Plenipotentiary Forchtenauer, Chancellor Rabenstein spoke, excusing his master's long delay and proffering the profession of obedience in his name. Upon this the Pope remarked, “You make the profession of obedience in the King’s name alone, whereas it is customary to make it in the name of the kingdom”. The Chancellor hesitated, and did not venture to satisfy the Pope until Kostka, who was standing near him, had given his consent. Pius II then asked if they had anything further to say, whereupon Professor Wenzel Koranda, who was opposite the Pope, began his address. “He spoke rapidly in a loud voice, and in the bold and arrogant tone which was usual among the Hussite preachers and disputants”. His long discourse culminated in a request that the Pope would confirm the Compact.
The Utraquist Professor in his conceit imagined that he had acquitted himself brilliantly; but the impression left upon his Roman audience was that the Bohemian movement was, as it had formerly been, a revolutionary one, and that its spirit was thoroughly antireligious. Its dangers were more clearly perceived than they had been, and there was a stronger conviction of the necessity of eradicating it at any cost. He was not ashamed, wrote one who had been present at the audience, to maintain before these learned fathers that Communion in both kinds was necessary to salvation, being in accordance with the appointment of Jesus Christ; much of what he said was not to the point, and indeed simply ridiculous.
Pius II at once replied. Well acquainted as he was with Bohemian affairs he had no difficulty in thoroughly confuting his adversary. His address lasted two hours. He went back to the origin of the State of Bohemia and its conversion to Christianity. He painted in glowing colours the intellectual and material prosperity of the country, and the happiness of the nation in the 13th and 14th centuries, while it remained in the unity of the Faith and enjoyed the blessings of a truly Christian life. Then, turning to the period since the rise of the Hussite heresy, he pointed out the contrast. The country was devastated. Learning had fallen into decay, and the political power of the nation was weakened, and its internal peace destroyed by the division of the people into two bitterly hostile religious bodies. The Compact, he said, was the melancholy symbol of this confusion. It had never been formally acknowledged by the Church, and on that very account was strenuously supported by the Hussites. Far from being a means for the restoration of a union between Bohemia and the Church, and of internal peace which the Holy See so earnestly desired, it was the chief hindrance in the way.
The question to be considered, therefore, was not how these articles might be confirmed, but how they might be set aside, and as the matter was one of the greatest importance, out of respect for the King, the Pope wished to take counsel with the Cardinals before giving a final answer to the Envoys.
Fresh negotiations took place between the Bohemians and a Commission of Cardinals, but with no result. It was only agreed that Rome should send a Legate to Bohemia to treat with the King of matters for which the Envoys had no powers.
Meanwhile Pius II had determined to draw out the logical conclusions which followed from the profession of obedience. On the 31st March an open Consistory was held in the presence of four thousand persons. In calm and unimpassioned language, the Pope explained the reasons which made it impossible for him to recognize the Compact. It had only, he said, been agreed to on certain conditions. The Chalice had been granted to the laity on the understanding that in every other matter they should conform to the Church; this condition had never been fulfilled, and therefore the concession which depended on it did not hold. “We, with our brethren the Cardinals, have revised the copies of that agreement and found, and hereby publicly declare, that your priests cannot lawfully give the Chalice to the laity. You have, indeed, requested us to grant permission, but this is for many reasons impossible. In the first place, our predecessors have constantly refused to do so, and the concession would give scandal to the rest of Christendom. In the second place, it would be prejudicial to you, for there would be danger of encouraging a heretical belief that Christ is not wholly present under one species. A third reason is the risk of spilling the Precious Blood on the ground, which has often happened in former times. Fourthly, the unity and peace of your kingdom would be endangered, for the majority of the Bohemians will not hear of Communion under both kinds. Concessions cannot be required from those who are walking in the footsteps of their forefathers, but rather from those who have turned aside to novelties. Fifthly, should we accede to your desires, your good relations with your neighbours would be imperilled. You do not know what a hurtful thing you are asking. As a faithful shepherd guards his sheep that they may not stray, so are We bound to watch that the nations do not wander from the way of salvation. Because We desire your salvation therefore We refuse your request. Unite yourselves with the rest of Christendom, and the glory and peace of former days will again return to your kingdom”.
When the Pope had concluded his speech, Antonio da Gubbio, Commissary for matters of Faith, read the following declaration:—“The Compact which the Council of Basle granted to the Utraquists is annulled and abolished; Communion under both kinds is not necessary to salvation; the Holy Father will not recognize the obedience professed in the name of the King of Bohemia, until both the King and the nation shall have conformed to the Catholic Church in every particular”.
The abolition of the Compact was a most important step, and was not determined upon without anxious deliberation on the part of the Holy See. The matter did not admit of further delay: “now that the reforms of Basle had been almost universally repudiated, the Compact would have been a scandal to the other nations, and a constant danger of schism and heresy to the Bohemians”. Moreover, the Compact had been intended to bring about the reunion of Bohemia with the Church, in return for the grant of the Chalice to the laity; the Bohemians, however, used it as an instrument for the destruction of all conformity with the Church. What right had they now to complain of the repeal of an agreement which they had themselves so often broken and so greatly abused? Was the Compact, as it was now interpreted, the same as that made by the Council of Basle? Was not this request for its confirmation equivalent to a demand for the sanction of the abuses which had been practiced by its means?
Podiebrad did not at once stand up to defend the Compact, but let a considerable time pass before he declared himself. His position had from the first been a false one, since in his secret Coronation Oath he had promised that it should be abolished. It had now become impossible for him to fulfil his engagement. Hitherto the existence of this Oath had been concealed from all but a few confidential persons. In May the Pope resolved to make it more widely known. By this means pressure would be brought to bear upon George, for Pius II still hoped that the King could be induced to submit. If he could be persuaded to set the example by conforming to the Catholic ritual, the people were sure to follow. Such was the spirit of the instructions given to Fantino de Valle, formerly Procurator to the King, when he was sent to Prague. Fantino had up to this time confidently maintained in Rome that the King intended to fulfil his Coronation Oath. Who could be better fitted now to call upon him to redeem his word?
The Legate reached Prague in the fourth week after Easter, but had to wait a long time for an audience from the King, who hoped by delay to strengthen and improve his position. He was at this time much occupied with an extravagant project suggested to him by Antoine Marini, a Frenchman, who had recently entered his service. The fundamental idea of Marini's scheme was that all Christian Princes and nations would never cease to cling to Rome and be loyal to her as long as the Holy See alone took thought for the defence of Christendom against the advance of the Turk. The Turkish question must therefore be taken out of the hands of the Pope. It was to be solved, and the pacification of Christendom was to be secured by a grand Alliance to be concluded between Bohemia, Poland Hungary, France, Burgundy, and Venice. The Holy See, was thus to be deprived of its European influence, and George was to obtain the Imperial Crown of Byzantium. A General Council, moreover, was to assemble to reform the Church, that is to say, to depose the Pope and confirm the Compact. The plan also included an International Court of Justice, and a Parliament of States, in which, apparently, the French King was to preside, and which was to settle all disputes among the Confederates.
This wild project, which aimed at revolutionizing the whole political system of Europe, found little favour at the different Courts. Casimir of Poland, indeed, who was involved in a serious contest with the Pope regarding the appointment of the Bishop of Cracow, developed a sudden zeal for the war against the Infidel. But the powerful Republic of Venice, although at the time somewhat at variance with Rome on account of Malatesta, was utterly opposed to the exclusion of the Holy See from the Turkish war. The Duke of Burgundy, who was friendly to the Pope, showed no disposition to let himself be beguiled by Marini. Louis XI treated him with more courtesy; an alliance between France and Bohemia might be useful for bringing pressure to bear on Pius II, but the Council was rejected by the French monarch, and he was by no means overzealous in promoting a scheme by which Podiebrad would be the chief gainer.
Meanwhile diplomatic action on the side of Rome had also commenced. It was characterized by a far greater unity of purpose and practical efficiency than that of its opponents, being based upon fixed principles and real existing relations. Fantino had now received special powers enabling him to enter into alliances with the Catholic Lords of Bohemia, the Silesian Princes and the Bishop of Breslau, and to treat more fully with the City. Next came the publication of the Secret Coronation Oath.
This was a well-considered step; if the King kept his promises the Document revealed only that which all the world might know; if he did not, it convicted him of perjury and duplicity. The Czech monarch preferred the latter alternative.
On the 12th of August, 1462, negotiations were opened at Prague with the Court, which had been transferred thither, and Podiebrad, emboldened by the improvement in his position, determined to lay aside the mask by which, at the time of his election and Coronation, he had sought to gain the Pope, the Bishops, and the Catholic Party. He now formally and solemnly declared himself an Utraquist. He concluded his speech on that day with the following words:—“Let all men know that we have been born, brought up, and by the Grace of God have ascended the Throne in the practice of Communion under both kinds. We are resolved to maintain it, and to live and die in it. Our Consort, our Children, and all who love us must likewise uphold the Compact”.
George’s speech had a twofold object: first, by a strong demonstration in favour of the grant of the Chalice to the laity, he meant to secure the Utraquists, and secondly, to take the Catholics by surprise. He hoped to raise his own personal quarrel to the rank of a question of State, and to obtain the sanction of the nation for his double-dealing. He completely failed, though Kostka, as the spokesman of the Utraquists, promised unconditional adhesion, Zdenko of Sternberg, the leader of the Catholics, declared that in temporal matters they would render obedience to him, but they had never had anything to do with the Compact. He had taken it up without asking their advice; let those now help him who had counselled the step.
On the 13th August Fantino was admitted to the King's presence, but he was not given the rank of a Papal Nuncio. He began by claiming the freedom of speech conceded to Ambassadors, well aware that in the King's present temper an appeal to the right of nations was by no means superfluous. He then enlarged on the absolute necessity of the abolition of the Compact, and insisted that, in virtue of his Coronation Oath and of his profession of Obedience, Podiebrad was bound to carry out the reunion of Bohemia with the Church. If we may believe the Breslau chronicler, who from his party position was deeply interested in the course of these events, the Catholics were much encouraged by the clear and practical discourse of the Legate, which made an impression also on the advocates of the Chalice. Had Girsik (George), says the chronicler, but said the five words, “I will obey the Pope”, the whole nation would have stood by him. The King, however, bluntly rejected the demand of the Papal Legate. It had never crossed his mind, he said, to abolish the Compact; on the contrary, he meant to live and die in it.
If we remember how firm a champion Fantino had hitherto been of George’s good faith, we can understand the shock which the Legate must have received on hearing this cynical denial of his obligations. He stood speechless for a moment, as if stunned by a blow. Then he reminded the King of his engagement, adding that if he persisted in adhering to this declaration he might justly be charged with perjury. The King angrily interrupted him, but the Nuncio was not to be intimidated. In a louder tone he proclaimed all ecclesiastics who held to the Compact to have forfeited their posts; should the King and his family persist in their error they too would incur the penalties of the Church. As he had himself become the King’s Procurator in the firm belief that he would give up the Compact and Communion under both kinds, he now resigned his office.
For a moment it seemed as if the King, who was pale with rage, would have sprung upon his adversary, and it was with some difficulty that he at length controlled himself sufficiently to allow Fantino to depart. But as soon as he was gone his wrath burst forth afresh; he would not live another moment without avenging himself; Rome was not the Holy See, but a plague spot; the Holy See was formed by the union of all the faithful, and that was certainly not to be found in Rome.
The effect produced by the uncompromising attitude of the Champion of the Roman Church can hardly be overestimated. It was, indeed, long since such words had been heard in Bohemia! Many a one, while adhering to the Chalice, had deemed himself by virtue of the Compact a good Catholic Christian. Now he found both it and himself condemned by the Pope. Many another, while rejecting the Chalice, had, for the sake of peace, held fellowship with those who received it, and now it appeared that the Pope judged such peace and fellowship a sin. Decision and courage in the defenders of a cause go a great way in making it popular Recognizing this danger, the faithless King took a fresh step on the downward path, and on the morrow, in gross violation of the right of nations, sent the Papal Envoy to prison.
At this direct outrage on the Pope and the Catholics, the Bishop of Breslau, Sternberg, and other noblemen indignantly left the Bohemian capital. The breach with Rome and with the Catholics of Bohemia was now an accomplished fact.
When King George came to himself he perceived that his impetuosity had driven him to the brink of an abyss. He wrote letters to friendly Princes, and one even to the Holy Father himself, in which he styled himself his obedient son, and sought to palliate conduct which was in fact inexcusable. Pius II, in firm but calm language, required that Fantino should be released; and on the 26th of October he was set free, his servants and horses, however, being retained. From this time forth George strained every nerve to avert by diplomacy and dissimulation any decided action on the part of Rome, and even to obtain the confirmation of the Compact.
It is difficult to understand how the Czech monarch could cherish such vain hopes. The explanation is perhaps to be found in his early training. Reared from his childhood in party strife, George Podiebrad was an adept in political chicanery, and had unlimited faith in the power of corruption and intimidation, and all the arts of diplomacy. It was incredible to him that any political power could be really guided by principles or by moral motives. He supposed the differences between himself and the Holy See to be merely a question of politics, and therefore capable of being solved at any moment by a change of circumstances.
The King of Bohemia had gained an important advocate in the Emperor. Frederick undertook, as a reward to Podiebrad for having delivered him out of the hands of the rebels at Vienna, to arrange the dispute with Rome and avert its unpleasant consequences. His influence with the Holy See did in effect prove strong enough to induce the Pope, at the end of 1462, to suspend all the ecclesiastical penalties incurred by George. He chose, however, to understand the settlement as including a confirmation of the Compact, an interpretation which, it need hardly be said, was at once repudiated by Pius II. When, soon after, the Pope took the people of Breslau under his protection, the King reverted to his project of a European Confederation of Princes. Formerly he had endeavoured to win the Pope by fair words and promises, now he intended to intimidate him by menaces Louis XI’s irritation against the Holy See seemed likely to make him look with favour on a scheme which meant opposition to Rome, and, in fact, he appeared to welcome the proposals of the King. He kept clear, however, of any definite engagements; and when Marini visited Venice in February, 1463, the promise of a levy of forces against the Turks was gratefully acknowledged, but the necessity of an understanding with Rome, as well as with Hungary, was also insisted on.
Through Antonio da Noceto, who was in his service and living in France, Pius II had in January, 1463, heard of Marini’s intrigues at the French Court and lost no time in taking measures to counteract them. In October of this year, Rome, Burgundy and Venice entered into a League against the Turks, and thus effectually worsted the Bohemian King and his hare-brained Councillor.
The Pope had accordingly nothing further to fear from this side. Why, it may be asked, did he, notwithstanding the importunity of the citizens of Breslau, still hesitate to proceed further with the Bohemian question? Many motives combined to keep him back. In the first place, Pius II was naturally averse to violent measures. And, in spite of all that had taken place, he was not exasperated against George, whose difficult position he understood, and who, he believed, had power and skill enough, if he would be firm and courageous, to bring the Hussites back to the Church. Then the ever-growing danger from the Turks drove the interests of Bohemia into the background. Finally, it was an ancient and abiding principle with Rome to neglect nothing, but to hurry nothing. In the end, however, the patience of Pius II was exhausted by the perpetual prevarications of the King, who only aimed at gaining time and bringing Breslau into subjection. In the spring of 1464, in the midst of the preparations for the expedition against the Turks, proceedings founded on his Coronation Oath were commenced against George as a perjured and relapsed heretic. In an open Consistory (16th June, 1464), it was decided that he should be summoned to Rome and the Bull of Citation had actually been drawn up when the Pope died.
THE EASTERN QUESTION, 1460-1463.
WHILE Western Christendom was consumed by internecine strife, the Conqueror of Constantinople pursued his victorious course in the East. In order to complete the circle of his Empire in this region, it was necessary to bring into subjection the independent Greek, Albanian, and South Slavonian countries that lay scattered within its boundaries, on the broad line between the limits of the Venetian territory and Trebizond. Fortune favoured the Turks, and the new power that had arisen on the shores of the Bosphorus threatened to be a greater danger to Western Christendom with its thousand divisions than the inroads of the Hun and the Mongol in former days. In the summer of 1459 Serbia had been constrained to bow beneath the Ottoman yoke. The Greek Schismatics preferred Islam to union with the Catholic Church, and the Papal garrison of the Island of Lemnos had been overpowered through their treachery. In 1460 the power of the Palaeologi in the Morea was crushed, and the glorious Parthenon changed from a Church of our Lady into a Mosque. Onward and onward the Turk pressed with fire and sword, filling these countries, once the most beautiful and flourishing in the world, with ruin and desolation. The Eastern question became more and more alarming; it was the oldest and most important of all the questions of foreign policy that Christendom had ever had to deal with.
The life or death character of the struggle with the barbarism of Islam in which Christian civilization was engaged was fully appreciated at Rome. From the time of his accession, Pius II had, like his predecessor Calixtus III, been anxiously occupied with the affairs of the East; but in the early days of his Pontificate, at the Congress of Mantua, he had to endure bitter disappointments. During the troubles which followed the arrival of the Duke of Calabria in Naples he had never lost sight of his great object.
The first thing to be done was to obtain the accomplishment of the promises solemnly made at the Congress. Even during his journey from Mantua to Siena, Pius II urged this matter on the different powers. But he met with hardly any response. Evasive and unsatisfactory answers reached him from various quarters. Duke Borso of Este, although he had with his own hand signed the Decree regarding the levy of the tithes, would not be the first to let the collection take place in his territory, and sent back the Papal messengers. In vain did the Pope reproach him with his ingratitude and faithlessness, in vain did he threaten him with Excommunication. Borso would not keep his word, and at a later period even supported Sigismondo Malatesta in his attack on the States of the Church.
The wealthy Florentines behaved no better. When Pius II, during his sojourn in their city, spoke to them of the fulfilment of the decrees of Mantua, he was informed that the promises of the Envoys must be confirmed by the Great Council, and that there was no prospect that it would permit the tax to be levied on the laity. Hopes were held out that the tithes from the clergy might be collected, but when it came to the point this also was prohibited.
Hoping that some change of mind might have taken place among the influential leaders of the Republic, Pius II sent his confidential friend Goro Lolli to Venice, but his representations were without effect. The cold and calculating policy of the Signoria, whatever might befall, was to keep on good terms with the powerful enemy of Christendom.
The exhortations of the Pope were thrown away on these short-sighted worshippers of Mammon. And even the threat of severe spiritual penalties produced little effect in Bologna and other places. Many who would not pay were not frequenters of the Sacraments. The chronicler, who relates this, adds that the money was by no means destined for the Turkish war, that it was all a cheat, and that the contributions were not demanded anywhere, save in Bologna. On the other hand, it was asserted that a great deal of money had been collected in that city for the defence of the Faith. All the inhabitants did not share the anti-Roman sentiments of the chronicler. A glance at the Registers in the Secret Archives of the Vatican suffices to show the falsity of the assertion, that tribute for the Turkish war was not claimed from other states. Even during the Congress, and immediately after its close, Nuncios and Collectors were sent to Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, various districts in Germany and Italy, to England, Scotland, Ireland, Aragon, Castille, and Leon. Some of the Briefs on this subject are dated from Siena, and some from the Baths of Macereto and Petriolo, an evidence of the zeal and earnestness displayed by the Pope.
The results, obtained were certainly small; a strange indifference prevailed in almost all the Christian States regarding the danger which threatened from the East, although it was a favourite subject with the Humanistic Poets and Rhetoricians. The Decree for the levy of the Tithes from the members of the Roman Court was published at Siena on the 24th February, 1460. Soon, however, it became known that some Prelates and Cardinals, especially those whose sympathies were with France, did not set the good example of paying, but the evil one of murmuring and resisting. In Italy, Pius II complains to Cardinal Bessarion in May, 1460, that people are far from manifesting the alacrity we had hoped for. Few are mindful of the engagements they made at Mantua. France and Germany, the most war-like of the Western powers, were even less zealous than Italy. The fair promises in most cases came to nothing.
In this deplorable state of things, any great undertaking was impossible. Pius II had for the time to content himself with giving assistance to the most oppressed, as far as his small means and the troubles in Naples and the States of the Church permitted, and with keeping the idea of a Crusade alive until better days should dawn. His strongest opponents cannot deny that he did this to the utmost of his power.
While the Pope was at Siena, Moses Giblet, Archdeacon of Antioch, a scholar well versed in Greek and Syrian literature, arrived in that city. He came as Envoy from the Greek Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria, the Prince of Caramania, Ibrahimbeg, and other Oriental Rulers who hoped that Pius II would deliver them from the Turkish yoke. He bore letters from these various Eastern potentates declaring their adhesion to the Florentine Union. Pius received him both in private audience and publicly, and on the 21st April, 1460, caused a memorandum to be drawn up recording these professions of obedience. This Document, together with a Latin translation of the letters of the Patriarchs and Princes, was deposited in the Archives of the Church. It is preserved in a book prepared for the purpose, and distinguished from other contemporary Registers by its careful penmanship and arrangement. It was called “The Red Book” on account of its handsome red binding.
It is worthy of notice that Pius II never again mentioned this great event. Possibly, even at the time, he may have had doubts of the genuineness of the mission and the letters.
At the end of December of this year (1460), a fresh Embassy from the East arrived in Rome, whither the Pope had by that time returned. The Romans were astonished at the appearance of the Envoys of Emperor David of Trebizond, of the King of Persia, the Prince of Georgia, and other Eastern Rulers in their strange Oriental attire. The Persian and Mesopotamian Envoys attracted particular attention; the latter had his head smooth-shaven like a monk, with the exception of a little crown of hair and a tuft at the top. The travellers had come through Austria and Hungary to Venice, and had there been honourably received, a circumstance which convinced the Pope of the genuine character of the Embassy. They presented letters in grand eloquent language from their Princes. Their interpreter and guide was Lodovico of Bologna, a Franciscan Observantine, who, in the days of Nicholas V and Calixtus III, had travelled much in the East and made many friends there. He now held out hopes of a political combination, such as had often been contemplated in Western Christendom. The attack of the European powers on the Turks was to be seconded by parallel action on the part of the Oriental Rulers. Lodovico made the most splendid promises as to the immense number of troops they would furnish. Pius II, who had already entered into alliance with the Prince of Caramania, entertained the Envoys at his own expense, and advised them to visit, not only the Italian Princes, but the King of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, without whose cooperation the Crusade could scarcely be undertaken. They agreed to follow this advice, but asked the Pope to supply them with money for their journeys, and to appoint Lodovico of Bologna Patriarch of the Oriental Christians.
Although provided with Papal letters of recommendation, the Easterns brought nothing back, either from the French or the Burgundian Court, but empty words. This time their reception was less friendly; suspicions of fraud had arisen. Lodovico had, on his own authority, assumed the title of Patriarch, granted dispensations, and collected money everywhere. The Pope gave the Envoys money for their journey home, but refused to nominate Lodovico Patriarch. Soon afterwards, learning that he had carried his audacity so far as to contrive, on false pretences, to obtain consecration in Venice, Pius II gave orders for his imprisonment. Warned by the Doge, Lodovico fled, and the Pope, who, from henceforth, looked with suspicion on all messages from the East, never again heard of him.
It is difficult to say, from the reports of this Embassy which are before us, and considering the defective means of communication in those times, how far it was fictitious in its character. We may at least affirm that Michele degli Aldighieri, the representative of the Emperor of Trebizond, was no deceiver. It can hardly be supposed that a man of his stamp would have travelled through Europe in the company of impostors. Whatever may have been the real nature of this Embassy, it is, however, certain that the efforts of the Pope to call forth a Crusade, elicited a movement amongst Mahomet’s enemies in Asia, which, under more favourable circumstances, might have proved a serious danger to him.
A deeper sensation than that caused by the appearance of the Envoys was soon aroused in Rome by that of the dethroned Eastern Princes, who now began to arrive. It had long been one of the most treasured privileges of the Holy See to shelter and befriend the exiled and the unfortunate, and seldom had the claims on that hospitality been more urgent than at this period.
On the 7th May, 1461, Thomas, the dethroned Despot of the Morea, came to Rome. In the beginning of the previous year he had been rash enough to break a treaty made with the Porte, and to quarrel with his brother Demetrius. The consequence was that Mahomet determined to bring the rule of the Palaeologi in the Morea to an end. The cowardice and degeneracy of the Greeks were now deplorably manifested. Demetrius submitted, and gave the Sultan his daughter for his harem. Mahomet plainly told him that he meant to get rid of the Palaeologi. The whole country was devastated, and horrible outrages were committed. On the 28th July, 1460, Thomas quitted the Peloponnesus in despair, and sought shelter in Venice. From thence, on the 16th November, by the Pope’s invitation, he proceeded to Ancona, bringing with him a precious relic, the head of the Apostle St. Andrew from Patras. This he gave to Cardinal Oliva, who, by order of Pius II, deposited it provisionally in the strong fortress of Narni.
The Lord of the Morea bore a striking resemblance to the statue of St. Paul which formerly stood in front of St. Peter’s. He is described as a grave and handsome man, about fifty-six years of age. He wore a long black cloak and a white hat of a material resembling velvet. Of the seventy horses which formed his train, three only were his own. The Pope received the unfortunate Prince in a Consistory held in the Hall of the Papagallo, assigned to him as his abode the Palace near SS. Quattro Coronati, and provided for his maintenance. On Laetare Sunday he sent him the Golden Rose, and, with the assistance of the Cardinals, granted him a yearly pension of 6000 ducats.
In the spring of 1462 Thomas, who could not forget that he was the sovereign and heir of Byzantium, made a vain attempt to induce Siena, Milan, and Venice to espouse his cause. Pius II, by a solemn Bull, called upon all the faithful to furnish him with troops and arms, and thus give him the support which he himself was unable to afford. An indulgence was also promised to all who should aid him to recover his throne. When all these efforts proved fruitless, Thomas seems to have found it impossible to resign himself to his dependent position. Melancholy and disappointment consumed him, and on the 12th May, 1465, he died forgotten in the Hospital of Sto Spirito. His wife Catherine had preceded him in 1462. Thomas had two daughters, Helena, Queen of Serbia, who died in a convent at Leucadia in 1474, and Zoe; also two sons, Andreas and Manuel. The latter of these two returned to Constantinople, became a Mussulman, and received a pension from the Porte. Andreas, whom Pius II acknowledged as titular Despot of the Morea, remained in Rome, but injured his position by marrying a woman of bad reputation. His schemes of reconquering the Peloponnesus by the assistance of Naples or of France came to nothing. In 1502 he died in misery, having bequeathed his kingdom to Ferdinand the Catholic, and Isabella of Castille. Zoe, who was very beautiful, lived in Rome under the guardianship of Cardinal Bessarion, and, in 1472, received a dowry from the Pope, and married the Grand Duke Iwan Wassilijewitsch III of Russia, transmitting her claims to the throne to her only daughter Helena and her son-in-law, Alexander I of Poland, who belonged to the Jagellon family.
In the beginning of October, 1461, it was rumoured that Charlotte of Lusignan, the youthful Queen of Cyprus, a relation of the Palaeologi, meant to come in person, and seek assistance from the Pope. This unhappy Princess, who had ascended the throne in 1458, was married to Prince Louis, son of the Duke of Savoy. But the young Queen and her weak consort were unable to rule their distracted kingdom. Charlotte had both courage and strength of will, but could not prevent her half-brother James, with the assistance of the Sultan of Egypt, from usurping her throne. Louis of Savoy was surrounded by his enemies in the fortress of Cerines, and Charlotte hastened to Rhodes and then to Rome in search of aid.
The prospect of this visit was by no means agreeable to the Pope, who had little reason to be pleased with the conduct of the House of Savoy, or the loyalty of Cyprus.
He sent Cardinal d'Estouteville to Ostia to dissuade the Queen from her purpose. This proved impossible, and Pius II received her with sympathy and kindness. On the 14th October she landed at S. Paolo, and on the following day made her entry into Rome; nine Cardinals met her, and she was received with all the honour due to a Queen. In his Memoirs, Pius II thus describes this lady: “She seemed to be about twenty-four years of age, and was of middle height. Her eyes had a kindly look, her complexion was pale and rather dark, her speech, as is common with the Greek, winning and fluent. She dressed in the French style, and her manners were dignified”.
Pius II received the Queen in Consistory with the greatest kindness, and when she knelt he made her rise immediately. He assigned her as her residence a palace in the immediate neighbourhood of the Vatican. The next day, with many tears, she told her sad story to the Pope, besought his help for her besieged husband, and entreated him to furnish her with the means of continuing her journey, for she had been plundered by pirates on her way. Pius II promised to grant her requests, but could not help reminding her of the contempt of the Holy See, and disregard of the interests of Christendom, which her husband and her father-in-law had manifested during the Congress of Mantua.
Charlotte remained in Rome till the 29th October, and visited the Holy Places. Meanwhile the Pope had provided for her travelling expenses, and caused an escort of fifty men to be prepared. Thus attended, the Queen passed through Siena, Florence, and Bologna, to the home of her husband. Everywhere she was received with sympathy, and hospitality was shown to her and to her escort. But she found her father-in-law so little disposed to render assistance that she gave up her intended journey to France. In the end all her efforts to interest the Christian Princes in her cause proved fruitless, and in the autumn of 1462 she embarked at Venice to return to Rhodes. The letter in which she describes her forlorn and helpless condition is very touching.
Even before the arrival of the Queen of Cyprus, heavy tidings from the East had again reached Rome. In the end of September, letters from Venice declared that the Principality of Sinope and the Empire of Trebizond were in the hands of the Infidels.
At the very time when the Pope thus learned that the northern shore of Asia Minor was lost to Christendom, he was in the midst of the troubles of the Apulian war, and in extreme financial difficulties. The news from the East, together with the indifference of the Western Powers in regard to the danger threatened by Turkey, may have been the immediate occasion which suggested to him the bold idea of making an attempt to convert the Sultan. The learned Pope’s letter to Mahomet is so comprehensive that it deserves rather to be called a treatise. It breathes the conviction, which subsequent history has confirmed, that the Koran can never ultimately prevail against Christian civilization. This remarkable document is far more impassioned in style than any of Pius II’s other works. It laid before the Sultan the teachings of Christianity, contrasting them with those of Islam, and expressed the ardent desire of the writer that he might turn to the truth. “Were you to embrace Christianity”, the Pope writes, “there is no Prince upon earth who would surpass you in glory or be your equal in power. We would acknowledge you as Emperor of the Greeks and of the East, and that which you have now taken by violence, and retain by injustice, would then be your lawful possession. We would invoke your aid against those who usurp the rights of the Roman Church, and rend their own Mother. And as our predecessors, Stephen, Adrian, and Leo summoned Pepin and Charles the Great to assist them, and transferred the Empire from the Greeks to their deliverers, so should we also avail ourselves of your help in the troubles of the Church, and liberally reward it. O! what a fullness of peace it would be! The Golden Age of Augustus sung by the Poets would return. If you were to join yourself to us, the whole of the East would soon turn to Christ. One will could give peace to the whole world, and that will is yours!”. The Pope went on to show the Sultan, from history, that such a conversion would not remain isolated; the Franks had been converted with Clovis, the Hungarians with Stephen, the Western Goths with Reccared, and with Constantine heathen Rome itself became Christian. This latter example was well worthy of his imitation, and the Pope, with the help of God, would bestow the dignities promised
In the Holy Week of 1462 the head of St. Andrew was brought from Narni into Rome with great pomp and solemnity, by order of the Pope, and it may be with the hope of re-awakening the smouldering zeal for the Crusade. Three Cardinals, Bessarion, Oliva, and Piccolomini, had been sent to Narni to fetch the precious relic, and they brought it to Rome on Palm Sunday (11th April). On the following day, the Pope, with all the Cardinals, Prelates, Ambassadors, and Magnates of the City, went in procession to the meadows on the Romeward side of the Ponte Molle. A high tribune with an altar had here been erected; it was ascended by two corresponding flights of stairs; the one next the bridge was destined for the Cardinals bearing the Holy Head, and by the other, which was on the side of the City, Pius II went up to receive the treasure. Bessarion, a venerable man, with a long beard, was the representative of the Greeks. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he delivered the reliquary to the Pope, who, also deeply moved, prostrated himself before the sacred relic. Then, rising, in accordance with the fashion of that rhetorical age, he pronounced a Latin oration in honour of its advent. The Pope’s voice trembled with emotion as, in presence of an immense crowd, he began:
“You are here at last, O sacred head, driven from your resting-place by the fury of the Turk. You come as a fugitive to seek an asylum with thy brother, the Prince of the Apostles. O happy exile that brings you here! You see before thee Alma Roma, hallowed by thy brother’s blood. Here is the nation won by Peter and Paul for Christ. We rejoice, we exult in being able to welcome you here. Come into our holy City, and be gracious to the Roman people. Be our advocate in Heaven, and, together with the Prince of the Apostles, protect Rome and the whole of Christendom. Turn the anger of the Almighty against the godless Turks and Barbarians who despise Christ our Lord”.
After the Pope and all present had venerated the relic, and Pius II had invoked the protection of St. Andrew against the Turks, the Te Deum and other festal hymns were sung. Then the solemn Procession moved towards Rome, the Pope bearing the Apostle’s head. The Via Flaminia was filled with multitudes of people; and, as an Indulgence had been proclaimed for the feast, countless Pilgrims had flocked together, not merely from all parts of Italy, but even from France, Germany, and Hungary. The relic was laid on the High Altar in Sta Maria del Popolo, and on the 13th of April carried thence to St. Peter’s.
In his Report to the Sienese, Augustinus Dathus says that so grand a function had not been seen for centuries. The streets were strewn with flowers and fragrant herbs, and sheltered with rich tapestry from the rays of the sun. The great men of the City and the Cardinals, in particular Alain and Borgia, had vied with one another in the adornment of their Palaces, and the Churches displayed all their relics and treasures. Lights were burning everywhere, and sacred music filled the air. The streets were thronged with worshippers, and it was believed that so many had not been present on any single day of the Jubilee of 1450. The Procession went round and through the City, and the Pope had given orders that all who took part in it, even the Cardinals, should go on foot. It was touching to see Princes of the Church, bowed down with age and infirmity, clad in their gorgeous vestments, and with palms in their hands, following it, and praying fervently. All the Clergy and Magistrates, the Ambassadors, and the great men of Rome walked in this Procession carrying lighted tapers. The Pope, although suffering from gout, was there in full pontificals. Seated on a golden chair of state, beneath a Baldacchino, he bore the Holy Head to St. Peter’s, which was brilliantly illuminated. It was deposited in front of the Confession. In a lengthy oration, Bessarion invoked the aid of St. Andrew and the Princes of the Apostles for the Crusade. When he had done, the Pope stood up and spoke again: “We promise you”, were his concluding words, “Holy Andrew, most worthy Apostle of Christ, to do our utmost to regain possession of your earthly abode, and of your flock. We have nothing so much at heart as the defence of the Christian religion and of the true Faith, which the Turks, your enemies and ours, are threatening to destroy. If the Christian Princes will listen to our voice, and will follow their Shepherd, the whole Church will rejoice that we have not neglected what belongs to our office, and that you have not sought a brother’s aid in vain”. The relic was then exposed for the veneration of the faithful; and the Festival was closed by the Papal Benediction and the publication of a plenary Indulgence.
In the month of May of this same year, the rich alum-bed of Tolfa was discovered by Giovanni de Castro, a Paduan, and son of the celebrated jurist Paolo. Until 1453, de Castro had managed extensive dye-works in Constantinople, and there he had become acquainted with the Levantine alum and the places where it was found. Pius II, in his Memoirs, tells us that Giovanni de Castro, wandering about the mountains, which extend from near Cività Vecchia to the sea, and are rich in springs and in forests, found an herb in the March of Tolfa, which also grows on the Alum Mountains of Asia Minor, and then observed white stones which had a saltish taste, and on being submitted to the fire proved to be alum. Giovanni hastened to the Pope to inform him of the discovery. “Today”, he cried, “I bring you a triumph over the Turk. Every year he receives more than 300,000 ducats from Christendom for alum. I have found seven mountains full of this substance, which elsewhere in the West is only obtained in small quantities, and in a few places. There is enough here to supply seven-eighths of the world, and plenty of water near at hand. This, and the proximity of the sea, gives every advantage for the working of the beds. Thus, a great gain may be withdrawn from Turkey, and fresh resources for carrying on the Holy War’ may be furnished to you”.
Pius II at first looked on the whole affair as the dream of an astrologer, but experts confirmed its reality. Some Genoese, who had learned the way of working alum in the East, were summoned: “They shed tears of joy when they recognized the mineral. The process of baking proved the quality to be excellent; 80 pounds of it were worth 100 of the Turkish alum. The Pope determined to employ the gift of God to His glory in the Turkish war; he exhorted all Christians henceforth to buy alum only from him and not from the Unbelievers”. The working of the beds was at once begun; and, according to the chronicler of Viterbo, 8000 persons were employed in it as early as the year 1463. The technical part of the business was, from the first, left by Pius II entirely to the discoverer who, conjointly with a Genoese and a Pisan, founded an Alum Company; this company took the Apostolic Treasury into partnership. The Tolfa alum, which is still highly esteemed, was soon in general request, and Castro became famous; his discovery brought a yearly income of 100,000 ducats to the Papal Treasury.
While this new and unexpected source of revenue had been opened to assist the Pope in his war, the Infidels had brought nearly the whole Archipelago into subjection. Almost immediately after the fall of Sinope and Trebizond, Mahomet had sent a powerful fleet to the Aegean Sea. The object of this expedition was to put an end to the Genoese rule in Lesbos, to extort a higher tribute from the Maona of Chios and the Duke of Naxos, and, if possible, to expel the Knights of St. John from Rhodes and its dependent islands. These last, on whose behalf the Pope subsequently appealed to Germany, were able to hold their own; but in September, 1462, the rich Island of Lesbos was conquered by the Turks, and fearfully devastated.
In the following year the Unbelievers directed their forces against the few remaining Southern Slavs, who still retained their independence. Bosnia was in the greatest danger, and the designs of Mahomet were greatly forwarded by the unfortunate state of its internal affairs. The country was distracted by feuds, there was discord among the members of the ruling house, and fierce sectarian dissensions. Stephan Thomaschewitsch, who came to the throne in 1461, had much to suffer from this last cause.
Stephan made peace with his step-mother Queen Catherine, and with Matthias Corvinus, and in every way favoured the Catholic Church. “The Slavs, following the example of the Roumanians, preferred servitude under the Turks to the freedom which the Latin world brought them”. The numerous Patarenes in Bosnia entered into secret alliances with the Sultan, and slowly prepared the storm which at last was to shroud their country in “the lasting night of Ottoman bondage”.
The Bosnian King’s refusal to pay tribute in 1462 finally determined Mahomet II to carry out his purpose of reducing the country to the condition of a Turkish Pashalik. Being at the time occupied in Wallachia, he postponed his vengeance until the following spring. Stephan Thomaschewitsch employed this interval in preparing, as best he could, to meet the threatening danger. The Pope helped him according to his ability. Venice, of all powers the one best able to grant assistance, was indifferent, and absolutely rejected the proposals of the Bosnian Ambassadors for an alliance against the common enemy.
The Sultan’s plan was to take the King by surprise before help could reach him from any quarter. He kept the project secret, and granted a truce of fifteen years to Stephan, who was terribly alarmed by the immense warlike preparations of Turkey. Mahomet then advanced with 150,000 men, sent some of his troops against the Save to keep Matthias Corvinus employed, and with the rest proceeded to the Bosnian frontier. In May, 1463, the Turkish host encamped before the fortress of Bobovatz. Mahomet had made up his mind to a protracted siege; but after a few days, Radak the Commandant, a Patarene at heart, gave up the bulwark of the country. When this traitor claimed the reward promised by the Sultan, the tyrant caused him to be beheaded.
The general consternation produced by the fall of Bobovatz, to which further treachery was added, facilitated the work of conquest. The unfortunate King, who had fled to the strong Castle of Kljutsch on the Save, was beleaguered by the Turks. Want of victuals and ammunition constrained him to capitulate; life and liberty were promised him on condition that he would himself summon all places, not yet conquered, to surrender to the Turks. And now all the horrors by which the cruel policy of the Sultan loved to break conquered nations fell upon the land. Those who could sought safety in flight. A brave Franciscan drew Mahomet’s attention to the threatened depopulation of the territory he had just acquired, and the Sultan granted to his Order a Deed by which the free exercise of their religion was permitted to the Christians. From this time forth the Franciscans were the only shield and refuge of all Bosnian Christians.
Not content with the subjugation of Bosnia, Mahomet next cast his eyes on Herzegovina, but soon found that the conquest of that mountainous country could not be so easily accomplished. On his way back to Adrianople, he caused the letters he had granted, ensuring freedom to the King of Bosnia, to be declared invalid, and had him beheaded, together with his uncle and nephew. The Queen Maria and the Queen-mother Catherine escaped death by flight; the latter lived first at Ragusa, and, from the year 1466, in Rome. Supported by the Pope, she, with other noble Bosnian lords and ladies, inhabited a house near St. Mark’s, and afterwards one in the Leonine City. Here she died on the 25th October, 1478, at the age of fifty-three, having bequeathed her kingdom to the Holy See, unless her children, who had become Mahometans, should return to the Catholic Church. The grave of the landless Queen is to be seen in Sta Maria Araceli. Her full-length figure is sculptured on the stone, her crowned head resting on a pillow, at whose sides are two coats of arms; her hands are laid upon a book, with an inscription which describes her lineage, dignity, and age.
Even before the tidings of the subjugation of Bosnia had reached Italy, the Pope, during many sleepless nights, as he himself declared, had thought of a new expedient for infusing fresh vigour into the struggle with the Turks: sickly as he was, and feeble from age, he would undertake in person the Leadership of the Holy War.
Pius II imparted the project, in the first place, to six Cardinals in whom he placed special confidence, supporting his view by a retrospect of his former fruitless efforts to unite Christians against the common foe. “When the idea of a Convention occurred to us”, he said, “what occurred at Mantua showed us that the plan was a vain one. When we send Ambassadors to ask the aid of the Princes they are mocked. If we impose a tithe on the Clergy, appeal is made to a future Council. If we publish Indulgences, and invite contributions, by means of spiritual favours, we are charged with greed. People think all this is done merely for the sake of extorting money; no one trusts us. We have no more credit than a bankrupt merchant. Whatever we do is interpreted in the worst manner; people measure our sentiments by their own. We see but one resource, perhaps the last. In the year that Constantinople fell Duke Philip of Burgundy made a solemn vow to take the field against the Turks if some great Prince would place himself at the head of the expedition. Up to this time no one has offered. Well, then, in spite of our age and infirmity, we will take upon ourselves the warfare for the Catholic Faith. We will go into the battle, and call upon the Duke of Burgundy to follow. If the Vicar of Christ, who is greater than the King and the Emperor, goes to the war, the Duke, when his oath is appealed to, cannot with honour stay at home. If Philip embarks at Venice we will wait for him at Ancona, with as many Galleys as we can make ready, and with our whole force. The Duke will bring about 10,000 men. The French King will be ashamed not to send at least as many, for he promised 70,000. Volunteers will come from England, Germany, and Spain; those who are threatened by the Turks will rise everywhere, in Europe as well as in Asia. Who will refuse his aid when the Bishop of Rome offers his own person? Above all, however, the Venetians must be induced really to take part, for they best know how the Turks should be attacked, and all the seas are open to them. If they agree, and if Burgundy and France also consent, we mean to proceed boldly to impose on all Christians a five years’ truce under pain of Excommunication, to lay a contribution on all the clergy under the same penalty, and to invite the support of the laity by granting Indulgences and spiritual favours. We hope that the publication of this determination will act as a thunder-clap to startle the nations from their sleep, and inflame the minds of the faithful to stand up in earnest for their Religion”.
PLANS OF REFORM
By the Capitulation Act at the Election of 1458, the new Pope was expressly bound to undertake the reform of the Court of Rome. In the case of a man like Pius II, this motive of action was scarcely needed, for he had learnt life in all its phases, and amassed a wealth of experience, combined with multifarious knowledge, which was unequalled amongst his contemporaries. No one knew better than he that great and terrible evils existed in all the other countries of Christendom, as well as in Rome and Italy. At the beginning of his Pontificate, Pius II certainly was not wanting in zeal for the work before him. Evidence of this disposition is found in a fact which has hitherto remained unknown to students of history. The Pope appointed a Commission, composed of several Cardinals, Bishops, Prelates, and Doctors, to deliberate concerning the Reform of the Roman Court. “Two things are particularly near my heart”, said Pius to the members, of this Committee,—“the war with the Turks, and the Reform of the Roman Court. The amendment of the whole state of ecclesiastical affairs, which I have determined to undertake, depends on this Court as its model. I purpose to begin by improving the morals of the ecclesiastics here, and banishing all simony and other abuses from hence”.
Of the projects brought forward on this occasion, two are before us, that of the learned Venetian, Domenico de' Domenichi, and that of Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, which latter was embodied in a Papal Bull. The Cardinal, who was an intimate friend of the Pope, took a wider view of the question than Domenichi, and drew up a scheme for the general reform of the Church. According to it, three Visitors were to be chosen; and, beginning with Rome and the Court, were gradually to extend their labours throughout the whole Church. Fourteen Rules were laid down for the guidance of these Visitors, who are to be “grave and proved men, true copies of Christ our model, preferring Truth before all else, combining knowledge and prudence with zeal for God, not striving for honor and riches, but detached from all things, and spotless in thought and deed, a burden to none, contenting themselves for food and raiment with what is appointed by the Canons, to which they are bound by oath”.
The substance of the Rule for the Visitors may be summed up as follows : From among those to be visited, three sworn men are to be chosen, with whose cooperation the reform is to be carried out. Its ultimate aim is a return to primitive conformity with the precepts of the Church, so that everyone, ecclesiastics and laity, may live in a manner befitting his vocation and, condition. Detailed directions are given in regard to beneficed persons, specially aimed at the abolition of pluralities; the incorporation of Church preferment in Chapters and Convents is strictly forbidden; a very important clause threatens all secular and regular Clergy, who, under pretext of Papal privilege, oppose the reform, with the loss of their prerogatives. Those who despise Papal censures are to be deprived of their benefices, and the faithful to be forbidden to attend their ministrations. The Visitors are recommended to pay special attention to Hospitals, to the fabric of Churches, to fraudulent dealers in Indulgences, to the enclosure of nuns, to the genuineness of Relics, and whether the veneration in which they are held is excessive, also the reality of alleged miracles, particularly Bleeding Hosts. Finally, the Visitors are to be zealous in eradicating open usury, adultery and contempt of the commands of the Church; to suppress all factions, to cleanse all places from the defilement of soothsayers, sorcery, and all such sins, by which the Divine Majesty and the Christian commonweal are offended, and to do their best to bring back the purity of the early Church.
The second part of Cusa’s project concerns the amendment of the Court of Rome. Beginning from the Pope, a list of reforms is called for affecting the Cardinals, the Court officials, and the Roman clergy. He who remarks anything calculated to give scandal, even in the Supreme Head of the Church, is to speak out freely. The Court is not to be an asylum for idle and roaming Prelates, Beneficiaries, and Religious, or to furnish them with opportunities for suing for higher dignities and amassing benefices. All who, for any just reason, are detained there, must conform to the rules of the Church, in conduct, morals, clothing, tonsure, and observance of the Canonical hours. Members of the Court, even laymen, who lead immoral lives, are to be sent away. The office of the Penitentiary is to be most closely examined. Here, as well as in the other offices, Cusa urges the removal of novelties which have been introduced for the sake of gain; if nothing better can be done at present, at least the Court might be brought back to the state it was in at the accession of Martin V.
The plan of Domenico de' Domenichi is equally bold. His long residence in Rome had given this distinguished scholar and diplomatist a thorough acquaintance with existing evils. The scheme of reform for the Roman Court, which he submitted to the Pope, is divided into twenty-two sections. The first two are directed to prove the necessity of Reform, and depict in dark colours the prevailing corruptions. Hence Domenichi concludes that the work of renovation must begin with the Pope and the Cardinals, then be extended to the Bishops, and ultimately to the other members of the Church, and that none should venture to put hindrances in the way. The fifth section brings him to his special subject. He begins with Public Worship, the ceremonies to be observed by the Pope, and of the silence which should be maintained by the Cardinals and Prelates in Church. A Chapter is devoted to the duty of Almsgiving, especially as incumbent on the Pope, who should be the father of the poor. Indulgences, according to Domenichi, should be granted but rarely. Nepotism is strongly condemned; in making appointments, good and learned men are always to be preferred; but Domenichi does not disapprove of the advancement of virtuous members of the Pope’s family! Those who immediately surround the Supreme Head of the Church must be blameless; above all, they must be absolutely incorruptible.
In the eleventh section Domenichi touches a fundamental ecclesiastical abuse; that of the plurality of benefices. This demands strong measures, especially in the case of reversions. Sections 12-17 refer to the life of the Cardinals and higher Prelates. Those who compose the Supreme Senate of Christendom are to set a good example, to hear Mass in public, to eschew all luxury and pomp; the members of their households are to wear the tonsure, and to be clad as clerics. Grievous abuses have crept in, and give great scandal to those who come to the Court. Sumptuous banquets must not be given by the Cardinals and Prelates, not even to do honour to Ambassadors; Domenichi would have jewels and gold and silver plate almost completely banished from the houses of Prelates. In the case of Bishops and beneficed Clergy, the duty of residence is strongly urged. Young men who frequent the Court instead of devoting themselves to study, and seek to rise to ecclesiastical dignities by the favour of Cardinals, are severely blamed. A special Commission to insist on the duty of residence is suggested. The eighteenth chapter condemns the custom which prevailed at the Papal Court, of allowing Protonotaries and Ambassadors to take precedence of Bishops. Penitentiaries should be forbidden to receive anything from those who made confession to them. Above all, a regular salary ought to be assigned to the Court officials, especially to the Abbreviators and members of the Rota, and all other gains be forbidden. Finally, Domenichi expresses the wish that the Decrees of Constance and Basle, for the amendment of the Court, may be carried out as far as they suit present circumstances. In the last section he recommends the institution of a Congregation of Cardinals and Prelates to effect the reform of the Court officials, especially those of the Chancery, who should make it their business to eradicate everything approaching to Simony.
Unfortunately these extensive reforms were only partially undertaken. The fact that Pius II summoned such a man as St. Antoninus to take part in his Commission, and also caused a Bull to be drafted directed against the prevailing abuses, will prove that, for a time, he seriously intended to carry out this important work. But, in the end, he did not venture to engage in a gigantic conflict with all the evils which had invaded the Church, and contented himself with opposing isolated abuses. The alarming advances of the Turks, and the struggle for the existence of Christendom, soon engrossed his attention, and, if his whole energies were not absolutely absorbed by the Turkish question, an unusual combination of troubles in Italy, France, Germany, and Bohemia, claimed a part of his care. The question of Reform was driven more and more into the background, and in the interests of the Church, this cannot be sufficiently regretted. It remains certain, however, that Pius II was not altogether inactive in this matter. As early as June, 1459, the Bishops were restored to their proper precedence over the Protonotaries. The Apostolic Referendaries were required, on their entrance on office, to swear that they would not receive any presents. It is evident that the abuses in the Penitentiaries must also have been corrected, for the simple, moderate, and upright Calandrini was appointed Grand Penitentiary. Pius II carried out an expressed desire of Domenichi’s when, in the year 1460, he set on foot a thorough visitation and Reform of the Penitentiaries of St. Peter’s, the Lateran, and Sta Maria Maggiore. Ordinations not in accordance with the canonical prescriptions were strictly forbidden by a Bull, issued in 14614 Strong measures for the suppression of concubinage among Seculars and Regulars in the Diocese of Valencia were adopted in 1463. Peter Bosham, who went as Nuncio to Scandinavia in 1463, received a special charge to see to the reform of the clergy in those parts. Pius II also took pains to enforce the duty of residence on incumbents in the Venetian territory.
Cardinals who, like Rodrigo Borgia, forgot the dignity of their position and gave themselves up to a licentious life, and worldly members of the Sacred College and of the Roman Court, were often sharply rebuked by the Pope. His zeal for the restoration of Monastic Discipline is especially worthy of praise. The terrible descriptions given by well-informed contemporaries, such as Johannes Ruysbrock, Johannes Busch, and Jakob von Jüterbogk, bear witness to the enormity of the abuses. Soon after his accession the Pope published a Decree to hinder members of Mendicant Orders from withdrawing themselves from the jurisdiction of their superiors, under pretext of studying. Later on we find him proceeding against relaxed Convents in different countries, especially in Italy, Germany, and Spain. He bestowed many favours on the admirable and exemplary Benedictine Congregation of St. Justina, at Padua; confirmed all its former privileges, and aggregated to it convents which were in need of reform.'! The amendment of the Convents of the Order of Vallombrosa was undertaken in 1463. In Florence and Siena, Pius II sought to restore Monastic Discipline. Measures were taken for the Reform of the Humiliati in Venice, of the Dominicans at Forli and Reggio, and of the Carmelites at Brescia. Martial Auribelle, the unworthy General of the Dominicans, was removed from his position by the command of the Pope. Pius II was encouraged to take a peculiar interest in the renovation of the Carmelites, on account of the character of their General, John Soreth, a man who combined gentleness with austerity, and who had all the knowledge of the necessities of the case demanded by such a work.
The Pope did, comparatively speaking, a great deal for the improvement of the German Convents. Amongst other entries of the kind in his Registers are ordinances for the reform of the Scotch Abbey at Ratisbon, and of the Poor Clares at Basle, Eger, and Pfullingen. At the very outset of his reign he warmly acknowledged and commended the devoted labours of the Benedictine Congregation at Bursfeld, and extended to it the privileges which Eugenius IV had granted to that of St. Justina in Padua Subsequently he supported this Union of German Benedictines in various ways; two Bulls in their favour bear date 1461.
It has been remarked that the external constitution of the Bursfeld Congregation was characterized by a centralization which did not belong to the original Benedictine rule. This change was due to the circumstances of the period. Isolation had latterly brought much evil to Convents. In consideration of this fact Pius II, in 1461, contemplated the union of the three Congregations of Bursfeld, Castel, and Mölk. Although this great scheme was not carried into execution, this was not due to any diminution in the reforming zeal of the Pope. In April 1464, the Papal Nuncio, Jerome, Archbishop of Crete, in support of the reform of the Benedictine Convents, declared that nothing was more pleasing to the Pope than this salutary work. The nobles, however, were its chief opponents. In Bamberg there seemed danger that the occupation of the Abbey of St. Michael’s Mount by reformed monks not belonging to the Franconian nobility would provoke a civil war. When we consider the wealth of the Benedictine Order, we can understand the interest of the nobility in preventing the Reform of these Abbeys. The reform of the Bavarian Premonstratensians, and of the Dominicans in the Netherlands, was also promoted by Pius II.
Among the Franciscans he favoured the strictest, that is to say, the Observantines. A series of Bulls shows that he confirmed donations made to them, permitted them in some places to build new houses, and conferred privileges on them; favours calculated to give them a greater hold on the people. In his many journeys the Pope loved to rest at their houses. In obedience to a Papal command the Conventuals withdrew from the Convents at Tivoli and Sarzana to make way for the Observantines. In Spain and Germany, also, he befriended them, and they, on their side, were indefatigable in preaching the Crusade. In 1464 he gave to the Vicar-General of the Observantines out of Italy authority to proceed independently against any members of the Order who might fall away from the Faith, a privilege which was, however, withdrawn by later Popes. The favors shown to the Observantines advanced the cause of real Reform, for their preachers in Italy were most successful in combating the prevalent immorality; the party passions that burst through all bonds; and the usury by which the people were impoverished. They were the chief originators and promoters in Italy of one of the most useful Institutions of that time, the public pawn-offices. These Montes pietatis, as they were called, relieved the immediate necessities of the poor, and saved them from becoming the prey of the usurer.
No less fruitful were the labours of the Franciscan Observantines among the heathens and Infidels. In their missionary work they displayed a courage and constancy such as were no longer to be found among the Secular Clergy or the other Religious Orders. In Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Croatia, in Moldavia and Wallachia, in all provinces which had already fallen or were inevitably falling under the power of the Crescent, the Observantines, step by step, and often sword in hand, defended the Christian faith. They had houses in Jerusalem near the Holy Sepulchre, and in other parts of the Holy Land, in Rhodes, and in Crete. They were established in Minorca and Iviza, and thence they accompanied the expeditions to the Canary Isles and Guinea, where there was a great dearth of Secular Clergy. There, on the West African Coast, Negro slavery in the time of Eugenius IV had just begun to appear. In the days of Pius II it had attained such proportions that even the converts of the Missionaries were not safe from Christian slave-dealers. When the Pope heard of these doings, he at once, in a Brief of the 7th October 1462, to the Bishop of Ruvo, condemned the nefarious traffic, and threatened all Christians who should dare to drag the new converts into slavery, with severe ecclesiastical penalties. Pius II also actively promoted the ransom of Christians who were in captivity among the Turks.
The Jews, who in those days were often the victims of much unjust oppression, also excited the compassion of the Pope. During the Congress at Mantua, a Jewish Deputation brought their grievances before him. He desired the Bishop of Spoleto to examine carefully into their complaints, and then issued a solemn Decree, forbidding the baptism of Jewish children under twelve, against the will of their relations, and also the practice of compelling the Jews to do servile work on Saturday. He manifested the same freedom of spirit in regard to astrology, the interpretation of dreams, and other forms of magic, which, in those days, were so much in vogue.
The foregoing pages have brought Pius II before us as the zealous opponent of the adherents of National Churches and the Supremacy of Councils. As there were in his earlier writings, especially those belonging to the period of his sojourn in Basle, many things to which this party could appeal in support of their opinions, he felt called upon to make a solemn retractation of his former errors. This was done in the celebrated Bull of Retractation, addressed to the University of Cologne on the 26th April 1463. Pius II begins by recalling to mind the Dialogues which, while as yet only in minor orders, he had addressed to the University of Basle, in defence of the Supremacy over the Pope, claimed by the Council held in that City. “Perhaps”, he proceeded, “this may have led some of you into error. If God should now require this blood at our hands We can only answer by an acknowledgment of our sin. But it is not enough to pray for mercy from God, We must also seek to repair our fault. Misled, like St. Paul, We have said, written, and done much that is worthy of condemnation, and, in ignorance, have persecuted the Church of God and the Roman See. Therefore We now pray : Lord, forgive us the sins of our youth! Meanwhile our writings are no longer in our own power but in the hands of many, and may, if misused by the evil-minded, do great harm.
“We are therefore obliged to imitate St. Augustine, and retract our errors. We exhort you, then, to give no credit to those earlier writings which oppose the Supremacy of the Roman See, or contain anything not admitted by the Roman Church. Recommend and counsel all, especially to honour the throne on which our Lord has placed His Vicar, and do not believe that the Providence of God, which rules all things and neglects none of His creatures, has abandoned the Church Militant alone to a state of anarchy. The order given by God to His Church requires that the lower should be led by the higher, and that all, in the last resort, be subject to the one Supreme Prince and Ruler who is placed over all. To St. Peter alone did the Saviour give the plenitude of power: he and his lawful successors are the only possessors of the Primacy. If you find in the Dialogues, or in our letters, or in our other works—for in our youth we wrote a great deal—anything in opposition to this teaching, reject and despise it. Follow that which we now say; believe the old man rather than the youth; do not esteem the layman more highly than the Pope; cast away Aeneas, hold fast to Pius”.
To confute those who attributed his change of mind to his promotion to the Papal dignity, Pius takes a retrospect of the Basle period, and shows that he had come to acknowledge the truth long before his elevation. This is proved by the letter of recantation which Aeneas Sylvius addressed to the Rector of the Academy of Cologne, in August 1447.
At the conclusion of the Bull the Pope again insists on the monarchical constitution of the Church. What St. Bernard taught regarding Eugenius III is to be applied to Eugenius IV, and to all successors of St. Peter. The summoning of General Councils and their dissolution appertains to the Pope alone; from him, as from the head, all power flows into the members.
The decision with which Pius II resisted the Conciliar Party was also manifested in regard to the encroachments of the temporal power on the liberty of the Church. In Italy he had to defend himself against attacks of this kind from Siena and Venice, and from Borso d'Este. The appointment of Bishops to the Sees of Cracow and Leon involved him in disputes with the monarchs of Poland and Castile and Leon. In these two cases he was defeated, but in Aragon a Pragmatic Sanction, which threatened the liberty of the Church, was annulled. This matter was brought to a satisfactory conclusion by Stefano Nardini.
If Pius II pronounced many censures, the circumstances of the time were the cause. As far as in him lay he was circumspect in the employment of these weapons, and their increasing inefficacy is one of the most serious tokens of the waning influence of the Church.
In 1459 he felt bound, in defence of the integrity of the Faith, to take measures against the heretical writings of Reginald Pecock, who was tainted with the errors of Wickliffe, and had, in 1457, been deprived of the Bishopric of Chichester. The Pope also gave orders for the punishment of a rigorist sect which declared celibacy to be necessary for salvation. These errors sprang up in Brittany while Picardy was infested by numerous Waldenses, against whom Pius II pronounced severe sentences. “In the very States of the Church a sect appeared which would acknowledge no one as successor of St. Peter who did not follow his Master in poverty”, a description which must apply to the Fraticelli. In Bergamo a Canon of the Cathedral taught that Christ suffered, not from love to the human race, but constrained by astral influences; that in the consecrated Host He is present, not in His Humanity but only in His Divinity; and that theft and robbery are not mortal sins. The Dominican, Giacomo da Brescia, and the Papal Auditor, Bernardo da Bosco, induced the unhappy man to abjure his errors, which, by the Pope’s command, he expiated by confinement in a convent for the rest of his life.
The name of Giacomo da Brescia is connected with a dogmatic dispute which, even in the time of Clement VI, had divided the Franciscans and Dominicans. The question between them was, whether the Blood shed by our Lord in His Passion, and reassumed at His Resurrection, was, during the three days He remained in the Sepulchre, hypostatically united with the Godhead, and therefore entitled to worship? The celebrated Minorite Preacher, St. Jacopo della Marca, in the pulpit at Brescia, on Easter Sunday, 1462, maintained the negative, and was, at the instance of the Dominican, Giacomo da Brescia, publicly accused of error and heresy. A hot dispute at once arose between the Franciscans and Dominicans which the Bishop of Brescia in vain endeavoured to appease. Then Pius II, under pain of Excommunication, forbade any one to preach publicly or privately on the question. Notwithstanding this prohibition the agitation continued, and accordingly, at Christmas, 1462, a great Disputation was held by the Pope’s order, and in his presence. Domenico de' Domenichi, Lorenzo Roverella, and the Franciscan, Francesco della Rovere, greatly distinguished themselves. After three days of discussion a consultation was held with the Cardinals, most of whom, as well as Pius II, pronounced in favour of the Dominican opinion. A definite Decree on the subject, however, was deemed inopportune; the services of the Minorites as preachers of the Crusade were indispensable, and Pius II was therefore unwilling to offend them. The fact that, in August, 1464, the Pope was again obliged to forbid preaching and disputation on this point, shows that the conflict continued.
Although Pius II did not follow the example of his predecessors in instituting any new Church festivals, he observed those which already existed with great solemnity. This remark is especially applicable to the Feast of Corpus Christi. In 1461 Pius was in Rome at the time, and himself carried the Host in the great Procession, in order to express his veneration for the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. In the following year, when he was at Viterbo seeking relief from the gout which caused him so much suffering, the Feast was celebrated with surpassing splendour. All the pomp and pageantry of the Renaissance were pressed into the service of religion. From the Church of St. Francesco to the Cathedral, in the streets through which the Procession was to pass, all booths and other obstructions were cleared away, and the work of adorning the houses was distributed amongst the Cardinals, Prelates, and members of the Court then in the City, the Pope reserving a share for himself. The rich tapestries of the French Cardinals were a marvel to behold. Other members of the Sacred College prepared Tableaux Vivants representing appropriate scenes. Torquemada exhibited the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist: a statue of St. Thomas Aquinas was included in the group. Carvajal depicted the fall of the Angels; Borgia had a fountain of wine symbolizing the Blessed Sacrament, with two adoring angels; Bessarion’s represented a choir of angels. There were also exhibitions which we can scarcely understand in the present day, such as combats of savages with wolves and bears. A Holy Sepulchre was erected in the market-place, from which, as the Pope drew near, the Saviour arose, and, in Italian verse, announced the redemption of the world. The tomb of the Blessed Virgin was also to be seen, and, after High Mass and Benediction, her Assumption was represented by living figures. The streets through which the Procession took its course were hung with garlands ; there were sky-blue awnings decorated with golden stars; gorgeous triumphal arches and altars of repose had been erected, and sacred music resounded on every side. Thousands of persons had congregated from the surrounding neighbourhood. Pius II in full pontificals bore the Blessed Sacrament. The chroniclers of Viterbo affirm that so glorious a festival had never been celebrated, either in their City or in any part of Italy.
Canonizations were always celebrated by the Popes with great magnificence. The Pontificate of Pius II witnessed only one event of this kind, that of St. Catherine of Siena. She died at the age of thirty-three, and, like St. Francis of Assisi, was at once venerated by the people as a Saint. Her letters were widely read; even a rationalistic historian describes them as a magnificent book of devotion, parts of which seem more like the words of an Apostle than those of an unlearned maiden. Her likeness, copies of which had, by the beginning of the 15th century, been multiplied in Venice, was in the possession of thousands. Yearly, on the day of her death, her feast was kept at the Dominican Convent, her panegyric preached, and wreaths of flowers and crowns were laid before her picture. In the evening a dramatic representation of the principal scenes of her life was performed in the Court of the Convent. The choruses sung on this occasion are still preserved; the following is one of them: “O sweet city of ours, Siena, birth-place of the Holy Virgin, the glory of this poor maiden outweighs all thy other glories”.
The Holy See had never forgotten its debt to this simple nun. Several of the Popes, especially Gregory XII, had taken the cause of her Canonization in hand, but the troubles of the time, and afterwards the jealousy of the Franciscans, prevented its completion. The question was again raised by the Sienese Ambassadors in the time of Calixtus III. Pius II gave it his attention immediately on his accession, and entrusted the necessary investigations to certain Cardinals. At the Congress of Mantua further progress was made in the matter, but, as the Holy See proceeded with its usual circumspection, it was not concluded until 1461. Consistories were held on the 8th and 15th June, and in the latter the Canonization was finally decided. Great preparations were made; an Ambassador estimates the expenses at 3000 ducats. On the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, Siena’s most distinguished son declared that the Church had raised the greatest of her daughters to the Altar. The Pope himself drew up the Bull of Canonization. To a Sienese”, he says, “has been granted the happy privilege of proclaiming the sanctity of a daughter of Siena”. Pius II further composed an Epitaph, the Office, and several Latin hymns in honour of the new Saint.
The Italians, in whose hearts the memory of Catherine was ever fresh, were full of joy, which found expression in solemn processions. The inhabitants of Fontebranda, the quarter of Siena in which she was born, turned the house into an Oratory. This Sanctuary has been beautifully decorated, and still contains many relics of the Saint. Other memorials of her abound in the ancient city. Pinturicchio painted her Canonization in the library hall of the Cathedral, and in the Chapel of S. Domenico, where her head is preserved, Sodoma’s picture is perhaps the most beautiful and touching likeness of her that exists. Rome also has many memorials of the Saint; in 1855, when Pius IX laid her body in a new resting-place beneath the High Altar of S. Maria Sopra Minerva, and again, in 1866, when the same Pontiff added a fresh jewel to her Crown by declaring her Patroness of the Eternal City, the Romans did not fail to pay due honour to her memory.
After the election of Pius II the Sacred College numbered twenty-three, members, of whom only seventeen were then present in Rome. Late in the summer of 1459, when James of Portugal and Antonio de la Cerda were removed by death, the Pope had but fifteen Cardinals around him. This circumstance, and the opposition manifested by the French party immediately after the Conclave, compelled him at once to consider the question of further creations. These were violently opposed by some Cardinals, especially by Scarampo. The Pope, however, stood firm; it was necessary that he should secure a devoted majority. This must be remembered in our judgment of the much blamed practice of promoting relations. In the Apostolic Senate, as he found it, Pius II had determined adversaries and few friends, and this compelled him to make fresh nominations.
Not until March, 1460, was all opposition overcome; on the 5th of that month Pius II created his first batch of Cardinals at Siena. Those chosen were all excellent men. Angelo Capranica, brother of the estimable Cardinal Domenico, was distinguished by his austerity, piety, and uprightness, and was also considered to be an admirable administrator. Bernardo Eroli was celebrated for similar qualities. Although raised to the Bishopric of Spoleto, and invested with several small offices, he had continued poor. Pius II had the greatest confidence in him, and showed him marked favour. Some of the Cardinals opposed his elevation on account of his plebeian origin and needy position, but the Pope took no heed of their objections. He made him Legate for Perugia, and Eroli held this appointment until his death, many years later. He was stern in manner, even harsh and rough, but all who knew him were obliged to confess that he not only thoroughly understood justice, but also practised it.
The brave Niccolò Forteguerri, the third of the Cardinals created on this occasion, combined diplomatic skill with remarkable military talents, and was distantly related to the Pope. The reader will remember the services he rendered to the Papal cause in the war against the party of Anjou and Malatesta. The assertion of a modern historian that there was more of the soldier than of the priest in Forteguerri, is contradicted by the opinion of well-informed contemporaries.
His youthful age was all that could be brought against Francesco de' Todeschini-Piccolomini, son of the Pope’s sister, Laudomia. He was a man of distinguished culture, versatile capacity, and estimable life.
Alessandro Oliva, General of the Augustinians, was in every sense an admirable man. Pius II introduced him to the Cardinals, “elect of God, and perfect like Aaron”. In the fifth year of his age, his parents had consecrated him to God and the Blessed Virgin; for forty-two years he had belonged to the Augustinian Hermits, who adhered strictly to the ancient rule, and laboured assiduously to restore the failing credit of the Order. He had for many years been professor of Philosophy at Perugia. Later he traversed the greater part of Italy as a zealous and inspired preacher. Elected General of his Order in 1458, his life was a shining example of perfection. From his unwearied efforts to appease party contests in the Italian cities, he was called the angel of peace. His summons to the Senate of the Church took him completely by surprise, and his friends had to supply the necessary outfit. Elevation to the purple made no change in his austere life, or his rule of devoting six hours every day to the Canonical Office. He was often seen to shed tears when offering the Holy Sacrifice. Although his income was but small, Oliva was always ready to help the poor Exiles, needy Churches and Convents, and Greek Schismatics returning to the Church. He was a zealous patron of learned men. Gentle towards others he was severe towards himself, and wore a hair shirt beneath the purple. He never quitted his modest dwelling except to visit the Pope, the Cardinals, or the Churches. A heavy blow was dealt to the Church, when, in August, 1463, he was carried off by a fever at the age of fifty-five. Pius II himself undertook the charge of his funeral, and presided at his obsequies. In his Memoirs, he writes of him with deep feeling: “He was an ornament to the Sacred College. The lustre shed by his learning was only equalled by the radiant purity of his life. Many men might have died, and no harm be done; this death inflicted a severe wound on the Church”.
If to have made such a man Cardinal, is one of the glories of Pius II, the general belief which prevailed that Oliva, if he had lived long enough, would have been the next Pope, reflects equal credit on the Sacred College.
The sixth new Cardinal, Burchard of Weissbriach, Archbishop of Salzburg, was retained in petto, as the Pope did not wish to offend the other ultramontane Princes. The rest were, contrary to all expectation, published at once on the 5th March 1460. Pius II admonished them in an impressive address on the duties of their high office. On the 8th March, Forteguerri, Eroli, and Oliva received the red hat, and on the 19th their titular Churches of S. Cecilia, S. Sabina, and S. Susanna. On the 21st of March Capranica and Todeschini-Piccolomini also arrived, and, five days later, the Churches of S. Croce in Gerusalemme and S. Eustachio were assigned to them. Cardinal de Castiglione dying on the 14th April, Todeschini-Piccolomini was, on the last day of that month, appointed Legate of the Picentine Marches.
All the Cardinals published on the 5th March were Italians. It was impossible, however, permanently to disregard the feelings of the Ultramontane powers. As early as December, 1460, Pius II began to speak of the necessity of showing them consideration in this matter, but he again encountered violent opposition. A year elapsed before he was able to carry out his purpose. On the 18th December, 1461, three Italians and three Ultramontanes were added to the Sacred College. Among the Ultramontanes, the names of Jouffroy and d'Albret have already come before us. Their elevation, like that of Jayme de Cordova, Bishop of Urgel, and of Francesco Gonzaga, was due to princely influence. From the time of the Turkish Congress close relations had existed between Pius II and the family of Gonzaga, and from a yet earlier period between the Pope and the Hohenzollerns. Lodovico, the most cultured noble of an intellectual age, sympathized with the Pope in his efforts for the promotion of Science and Art. Francesco, who was twenty years of age, was pursuing his studies at Padua when the Purple was conferred upon him. His tendencies were anything but ecclesiastical. He took, however, a lively interest in Literature and Art.
The two other Italians who entered the Sacred College, Bartolomeo Roverella and Jacopo Ammanati, came of poor families, and were distinguished by a good humanist culture. Roverella had to thank Nicholas V for his nomination to the Archbishopric of Ravenna. From that time forward, he had been unceasingly occupied in political Embassies or the administration of the States of the Church, under Pius II he had governed the March of Ancona and Umbria, and he had especially distinguished himself in the Legation in the kingdom of Naples during the war against the Anjou. Vespasiano da Bisticci praises the conscientiousness, the fear of God, the simplicity and humility of Roverella. Ammanati was born in 1422, at Villa Basilica near Lucca, and went at an early age to Florence, where he laid the foundation of his classical studies. In the time of Nicholas V he came to Rome; there he lived in the greatest poverty, entered the service of Capranica, and under Calixtus III became Apostolic Secretary. Pius II, on the very day of his election, confirmed him in this appointment. It soon became evident that he enjoyed the special favour of the new Pope, who, in 1460, conferred upon him the Bishopric of Pavia. His episcopal labours were most fruitful, and during his long absence he took care that his place should be properly filled. Ammanati looked up to Pius II, who had received him into the Piccolomini family, and invested him with the rights of a citizen of Siena, with affectionate reverence. The Sienese Pontiff was his ideal in literary matters. His continuation of the Commentaries, and his numerous letters, are quite in the Pope’s style; they are among the most important historical authorities of the period. The loss of his Life of Pius II is greatly to be regretted. Although not perfectly free from Humanistic vanity and irascibility, the Cardinal of Pavia was a good man: his will bears witness to the generosity and kindliness of his disposition.
The elevation of the Archbishop of Salzburg was not published till the 31st May, 1462, at Viterbo. There is no authority for the assertion that the Bishop of Eichstatt, John III von Eich, was also at this time raised to the Purple. There can be no doubt that his zeal in the reformation of his diocese well deserved such a distinction; but the Calendars of Eichstatt do not mention it, and the fact that the Consistorial Acts of the Secret Archives are equally silent is conclusive. In the year 1463 the Sacred College lost two of its members, Prospero Colonna and Isidore. Their places, however, were not filled, though, during the remainder of Pius II’s Pontificate some princes sought to bring about fresh creations of Cardinals.
Pius II was not an enthusiast for Art, like his predecessor Nicholas V, or his successors Paul II and Leo X; nevertheless he appreciated it keenly, and did much for its promotion. Numerous architects, sculptors, painters, goldsmiths, and miniature painters were employed by him; but the government of the Church was the engrossing interest of his life.
Both the Vatican Palace and St. Peter’s were embellished by this Pontiff. The tribune for the Papal Benediction, and the new Chapel of St. Andrew, which he caused to be erected, are important works, and deserve special notice. “A spacious platform, to which an imposing flight of steps 133 feet wide led up, then occupied that side of the Piazza of St. Peter’s, where Bernini’s colonnades now meet. Beyond this platform was the entrance to the Atrium, supported by columns, which had to be traversed in order to reach the five doors of the ancient Church. On this platform Pius II erected the new tribune, having first restored the steps which were much dilapidated, and adorned them with colossal statues of SS. Peter and Paul”. In 1463 the celebrated Mino da Fiesole was employed here. Antique pillars supported the tribune, which was covered with marble sculptures. The Chapel of St. Andrew, to the left of the principal entrance of the ancient Church, was built to receive the head of that Apostle. This beautiful shrine was destroyed when the Basilica was rebuilt. Some fragments of the magnificent reliquary, in which the head of the Saint was kept, are preserved in the Grotto of St. Peter’s. Recent investigations have proved that all Pius II’s great works were carried out under the direction of the sculptors, Paolo di Mariano (Romano), and Ysaias of Pisa.
The roof of St. Peter’s, the Lateran, Sta Maria Maggiore, S. Stefano, Sta Maria Rotunda (Pantheon), the Capitol, many of the bridges, and also the wall encircling the city, were repaired by Pius II. It is evident that the mighty projects of Nicholas VI had no attraction for him. Rome was to him the city of ruins. While yet a Cardinal he gave expression, in a well-known epigram, to that sense of the transitory nature of all earthly things which the Eternal City, more than any other' place in the world, tends to impress on the mind.
O Rome! thy very ruins are a joy,
Fall'n is thy pomp, but it was peerless once!
The noble blocks wrench'd from thy ancient walls
Are burn'd for lime by greedy slaves of gain.
Villains! If such as you may have their way
Three ages more, Rome's glory will be gone.
This feeling comes out still more strongly in the Bull issued by Pius II, on the 28th April, 1462. In it he forbids the injury or breaking down of ancient buildings in Rome, and in the Campagna, even on private property, reserving to himself the right of making any alterations that may become necessary. The Pope’s account books show that he frequently availed himself of this right. A Roman citizen, Lorenzo, the son of Andrea Mattei, was appointed architectural superintendent of the City. Many buildings were erected, mostly for military purposes, and various restorations carried out in the States of the Church by the Pope’s order, and at this expense, at Assisi, Civita Castellana, Civit’a Vecchia, Narni, Nepi, Orvieto, and Viterbo. A new harbour was made at Corneto, and, as we have already mentioned, a fort was built at Tivoli.
The ancient city of Siena is still full of memories of Pius II and the Piccolomini. In the Cathedral an inscription records his gift to it of an arm of St. John the Baptist; also that he had raised it to the rank of a Metropolitan Church, and, in 1460, granted an Indulgence there. A second inscription on the uncompleted wall of the projected larger Cathedral commemorates his prolonged stay at Siena. We have more than once mentioned the frescoes in the Cathedral Library, which are so striking a memorial of this Pope, “in their abiding freshness and the splendour of their unfading colours”.
The lover of the past, as he walks through the streets of the City, which still retains a mediaeval air, will notice on many of its houses and palaces the armorial bearings of the Piccolomini; he will admire the graceful vaulted hall (Loggia del Papa) which, according to the inscription, Pius II dedicated to his family. The builder of this Loggia, commenced in 1460, was Antonio Federighi. The architect, Bernardo, designed the plans for the dwelling which Pius II caused to be erected for his sister, Caterina, in the principal street of Siena (Palazzo Piccolomini della Papesse, now Nerucci), and also for the magnificent Palace commenced by Giacomo and other Piccolomini, which still bears their name. The stately splendour of the early Renaissance architecture is strikingly exemplified in this building, and yet more in the magnificent works in the Pope’s birthplace.
Midway between Orvieto and Siena, near the ancient military road to Rome, and at three hours’ distance from Montepulciano (famed for its wine), the Episcopal City of Pienza is enthroned upon a hill of Tufa. It is a straggling place, almost isolated in the Valley of Orcia, and the hill on which it is built slopes steeply down towards the South East. Here once stood the Castle of Corsignano, and, in its neighbourhood, the country-house where the Pope was born. While still a Cardinal, Pius II, with “that warm love of home, which was a marked feature in his character”, had adopted the poor parish; in 1459, after his elevation to the Papal Throne, he determined to adorn it with a new Cathedral and a Palace. The works were at once begun; and, in 1460, the Pope personally inspected their progress. On account of the strained relations between Pius II and the Republic, he did not visit Siena in 1461, or either of the two succeeding years, and devoted all the more attention to his birth-place. In 1462 it was invested with municipal privileges, and named Pienza, and the Cardinals and Court officials were called upon to build residences there. By the month of June, 1462, the Cathedral was sufficiently completed to be consecrated; and, in August of the same year, the City was made an Episcopal See.
Pius II calls the Director of these works by the name of Bernardus Florentinus, and in the Papal accounts he is styled Mastro Bernardo di Fiorenza. It is not, however, clear whether he is the same as Bernardo Rosellino, or Bernardo di Lorenzo, who built the vestibule of S. Marco in Rome. The original estimate was considerably exceeded, yet Bernardo continued in favour with the Pope, and was even entrusted with fresh commissions. The Bishop’s Palace, the Canon’s residence, and the Town Hall are also his work.
The buildings we have mentioned are picturesquely grouped round a little square in which a fountain plays; to the south is the Cathedral, with its beautiful facade; near it, on the eastern side, is the grave and simple House of the Bishop (Vescovado); on the west the great Palace of the Piccolomini, an imposing edifice in the Florentine rustic style. Though now sadly dilapidated, the interior, with its richly-coloured coffered ceilings, and beautiful doors and chimney-pieces, bears witness to the taste of the truly artistic Prince. Each of the three storeys on the southern side, overlooking the garden, has an open gallery which commands that magnificent view of the Etruscan hills, on to the basalt summits of Monte Amiata and wild Radicofani, which had such charms for a lover of nature like the Pope. Almost opposite the Cathedral, and separated from the Bishop’s Palace by the principal street, is the Town Hall (Palazzo del pretorio), richly decorated in Sgraffito; a true work of the bright and joyous early Renaissance. It has an open court, and at one corner a beautiful Campanile ornamented with elaborate iron-work. The Cathedral, which has three doors, stands like that of Siena, with its choir overhanging the steep slope of the hill, and has under the High Altar, in imitation doubtless of that church, a Crypt accessible from the interior, which forms the Baptistery. The plan of the edifice is that of a Church with three Naves of equal height, an arrangement very unusual in Italy. It appears to have been begun from the choir; there are many traces of the Northern Gothic style, the pointed windows have rich late Gothic ornaments. When we come to the beautiful facade, all these disappear, and the Renaissance reigns supreme. It is interesting to note the circle of chapels round the choir, contrary to the manner of the Italians. The general impression conveyed by the whole is that the architect had been desired to introduce certain Northern ideas, and this accords with the statement in the Pope’s Memoirs. He says he had decided on the form of a church with Tribunes, because, from the examples which he had seen in Austria, it appeared to him more beautiful and lighter. The Castle Church at Wiener-Neustadt (A. D. 1449), the Cathedral at Graz (A. D. 1449), and St. Stephen's at Vienna, may have suggested this type to him.
The interior of the Cathedral was cased with marble, and the Pope issued a special Bull prohibiting the introduction of paintings, tablets, or any kind of adornment that could interfere with the effect of its glistening whiteness. The stalls in the choir are extremely beautiful, with the Italian-Gothic carving and intarsia work, and on them the Pope’s armorial bearings, supported by angels, with the date 1462, are introduced. On the other hand, almost all the furniture of the Church, holy water stoups, lectern, font, are of the best early Renaissance. A tabernacle in the same style as the Church is still to be seen in a chapel to the left, near the High Altar; in the other chapels are three altars with Italian wood-carvings in basso relievo, and pictures of the Sienese School. In one of these chapels relics are kept, amongst others a portion of the head of St. Andrew.
Pius II’s Gothic Pectoral Cross and Chalice are preserved there, the latter high and wide in the cup. The richly embroidered Cope of the Pope is also there, with a number of more modern vestments.
Campanus, Pius II’s Court Poet, celebrated in verse the new creation of the early Renaissance, the effect of which is indeed strikingly complete and harmonious :—
If I, Pientia, stand on high
In pomp and splendour drest,
My very name will tell you why
To me above the rest
Of country-towns there should be giv'n
A city's laws and state,
A rich Cathedral, solid walls,
A Palace fair and great.
Pius, the Pontiff, loves full well
The cradle of his race,
Envy me not, that he bestows
On me his special grace!
THE CRUSADE AND DEATH OF PIUS II
THE Pope’s heroic determination to place himself personally at the head of the Crusade, in hope of thus inducing all the Christian Powers to take part in it, had at first been kept secret. In March, 1462, it was communicated to six of the Cardinals, and was approved by them. They considered that it well became the Vicar of Christ to follow the example of his Master by giving his life for his sheep.
Pius II had also, in a confidential autograph letter, informed the Doge of Venice, Prospero Malipiero, of his purpose. The reply of the Venetians was favourable, but so vague in its terms that it gave no indication as to whether they contemplated any change of policy. Hitherto these selfish traders, looking to their commercial interests alone, had been careful to keep as far as possible on good terms with the Porte. At all the Conventions for organizing united resistance to the Turks, their ambassadors either kept away altogether, or arrived too late, or unprovided with sufficient powers, or else they insisted on impracticable conditions. The Pope’s exhortations were all in vain. The Venetian Government was unremitting in its preparations for the struggle which must eventually break out between the first naval power of the West and the new Empire on the Bosphorus. But, meanwhile, it was resolved to put off the evil day as long as might be.
The Doge, Prospero Malipiero, the leader of the peace party, died on the 5th May, 1462, and on the 12th of the same month Cristoforo Moro was elected as his successor. Great hopes of a change of policy, favourable to the Christian cause, seem to have been entertained at Rome. Cardinal Bessarion, in his letter of congratulation, said that a staunch defender had been won for the cause of religion, by this election. The Pope, not content with merely writing, sent a special Ambassador, who made an oration in the style of the period, expressing the joy with which he welcomed the elevation of the Doge. Most of the Cardinals wrote separately in the same strain.
The desired change, however, did not immediately take place, and Venice, while diligently continuing to make ready for war, was equally assiduous in her efforts to defer it. In September, 1462, Lesbos was conquered by the Turks, while the Venetian Captain-General looked on at the head of a well-armed squadron of twenty-nine galleys without venturing to interfere. The extraordinary activity now displayed by the Sultan in strengthening and organizing his naval forces made it evident that the commencement of the decisive struggle was not far distant. Nevertheless, a powerful party still remained in Venice, which advocated conciliation and diplomacy.
The refusal of the Venetian authorities at Modon to give up a Christian slave, although in itself a trivial matter, at last brought down the avalanche. In November, 1462, Omar Pasha ravaged the environs of Lepanto. The Pasha of the Peloponnesus in the following spring attacked the Venetian colonies in Argolis, and on the third of April, with the assistance of a treacherous Greek priest, obtained possession of Argos. Although it was now perfectly evident that the Porte meant the annihilation of the Venetian power, the Signoria still hesitated to declare war. In the same spirit the Republic received the Ambassadors of the oppressed King of Bosnia very coldly, and absolutely declined the alliance which they proposed. Its action was very different when it was a question of supporting Malatesta in his revolt against Pius II, and appropriating the territory of the Church on the shores of the Adriatic. Accordingly, by the end of June, Bosnia had become a Turkish province. The danger to Ragusa and the coast of Dalmatia caused great agitation throughout the whole of Italy, and the war party took advantage of this to make another attempt to obtain a hearing. Vittore Capello, a man of strong and resolute character, was at their head. In a long speech he asserted that further delay was treason to the Republic. He pointed out that the seizure of Argos clearly showed that the Sultan meant to try how far he could go. If his course were not checked, he would take possession of the other Venetian cities in the Peloponnesus, and even of Negroponte. It was necessary at last to show this barbarian the power of the Christians; Constantinople, the Peloponnesus, and, finally, Bosnia, had been lost by delay. If they still remained with folded hands what could be expected but that the rest of the possessions of the Republic would be taken, and her subjects reduced to slavery. The war party now became predominant, although their opponents still formed a considerable body.
The panic occasioned in Venice by the conquest of Bosnia is evidenced by the altered tone of the instructions given to Bernardo Giustiniano, the Venetian Ambassador to Rome. On the 10th June he was commissioned to impart the sad tidings to the Pope and the Cardinals. A fortnight later he was instructed to describe the further advance of the Turks into Croatia, and the danger which threatened Italy, and also to declare that his government had resolved to resist the enemy to the utmost. The Ambassador was to request the Pope’s permission for the levy of the tithes, and the twentieth and thirtieth parts by the Signoria in their dominions, so that the war might be carried on, not merely for their own defence, but also for that of the other Christians.
In spite of all these fair promises it soon appeared that the Venetians meant to carry on the inevitable war, as far as possible, with a view to their own private interests. These intentions were not hidden from their contemporaries. Pius II drily says that the commercial position of the Morea, and the 300,000 ducats yearly derived from its customs, had won the Venetians over to the war.
Another consequence of the fall of Bosnia was the termination of the unholy war which had divided the forces of the Hungarian kingdom, and dangerously weakened this strongest bulwark of Christendom against Islam. To the Legate, Cardinal Carvajal, belongs the credit of having recognized the real position of affairs, as well as the needs of Christendom, and laboured unremittingly for peace while keeping aloof from the dynastic questions whose evil effects were before his eyes. The actual conclusion of the treaty in the year 1463 (24th July), at Wiener-Neustadt, was brought about through the mediation of the Pope. In it Corvinus was acknowledged as King for life, and in the case of his death, without legitimate issue, the succession was secured to the House of Hapsburg.
The Pope, however, could not be satisfied with the adhesion of the Hungarians and Venetians alone. To succeed in such a task the cooperation of the whole of Italy and the Emperor, together with France and Burgundy, must also be secured. Bishop Lorenzo Roverella of Ferrara had been sent at Easter, 1462, to the last-named countries. But Louis XI would have nothing to say to the war, which he declared to be a mere trick designed to shelve the affairs of Naples. Philip of Burgundy, who was ill at the time, promised to send Envoys to Rome. As they did not arrive, Pius II sent Lucas, the Dalmatian, as Nuncio, to hasten them. He was not at first more successful than his predecessor, but the Duke, being again attacked by serious illness, looked upon this as an admonition to fulfil his vow. The moment he recovered he announced himself ready to accomplish it.
The Pope received these happy tidings on the 2nd July, and at once imparted them to the Italian powers, and invited them to a Congress at Rome. At this moment he might have cherished the hope of at last seeing the work, to which he had devoted the labour of years, worthily carried out. On the 5th of July Bessarion went as Legate to Venice. The object of his mission was to induce the Signoria formally to declare war against the Turks, to arrange details in regard to the general Crusade, and to settle the dispute between Venice and the Emperor about Trieste.
The Greek Cardinal arrived on the 22nd of July in Venice, and was received almost as if he had been a crowned head, but his negotiations were not rewarded by the immediate success which his zeal for the holy cause had expected. The Signoria gratefully accepted the Pope’s support, and the permission to levy tithes, twentieths and thirtieths in its territory, but made difficulties as to the formal declaration of war, and did not fail to intercede for the rebellious Malatesta. “Most Holy Father”, wrote Bessarion, on the 26th July, “I do not understand, and very greatly wonder, why the Venetians make such difficulties about a formal breach with the Turks, for they have already made, and are continuing to make, great preparations by land and sea. This is now done quite openly; whereas, formerly, the very appearance of preparation was avoided. Therefore I hope that they will soon come to the point”. By dint of unremitting exertions he was able, on the 29th of July, to write to Rome announcing that the declaration of war with the Porte had been decided on the day before. Yet a full month more passed before the Crusade was publicly preached in Venice, or the levy of the tithes—twentieths and thirtieths, in accordance with the Decree of Mantua—proclaimed for the whole territory of the Republic.
A part of the Legate’s commission was now discharged, but the negotiations regarding the general Crusade presented difficulties of a yet more serious character. The Venetians again put in a plea for Malatesta. Bessarion applied for further Instructions and the Legate’s request for the cessation of the war with Trieste was at first unheeded; peace was not made until the 14th November, and was but of short duration.
An offensive alliance entered into in September, 1463, between Venice and Hungary, was a most important event. These two powers, equally threatened as they were by the aggressive policy of Turkey, bound themselves only to lay down their arms by mutual consent. The Venetians were to attack the enemy with a force of forty Galleys, and also to send cavalry and infantry to the Morea and Dalmatia, while the Hungarians were to advance with a strong force on the northern frontier provinces. This compact was communicated to all the other Kings or Princes.
Pius II lost no time in appealing for assistance to Skanderbeg, whose very name was already a terror to the Turks. His harbours and fortresses were advantageously situated for the disembarkation of the Italian troops. The Archbishop of Durazzo was commissioned to call upon the Albanian hero to take part in the contest on which the Western powers were about to enter. He responded by at once commencing hostilities against the Turks, without even waiting to declare war.
Meanwhile the long-looked-for Burgundian mission had reached Tivoli where the Pope was spending the summer. The splendid promises made by its spokesman, the Bishop of Tournay, filled his heart with joy and hope.
The official reception of the Burgundians took place on the 19th September in a public Consistory in Rome, whither Pius II had returned a short time previously. The Bishop of Tournay spoke with enthusiasm of the Crusade, and promised that his master would, in the following spring, begin the war in good earnest, and would, if possible, himself join the expedition, or if unable to do this, would send a representative. The Pope warmly commended the Duke’s zeal, and spoke of the Congress of Italian Envoys which was to open immediately.
The political condition of Christendom seemed at this time to promise well for the Crusade. The contest for the throne of Naples was at an end, turbulent Malatesta had been subdued, all Italy was for the moment at peace. “Venice and Hungary, who had already taken up arms, formed a solid coalition, able, without extraneous assistance, to put forth considerable power, and yet happy to accept the cooperation of others. Pius II hoped in the Congress to recover the direction of the whole scheme, and by the offering of his own person, the last means at his disposal, to regain the leadership of the enterprise”.
The negotiations with the Envoys of the Italian powers opened on the 22nd September. The Pope informed them of the promises made by the Duke of Burgundy, and enquired what they proposed to do for the defence of the Catholic Faith. The replies of the Neapolitan and Venetian Envoys sounded satisfactory, but that of the Milanese was completely different in its tone. The import of their many words was merely that they had not sufficient powers, and must communicate with the authorities at home. The Florentines adopted the same line, but their reply was even less encouraging, for they insisted on the co-operation of the French King, of whose aversion to the Crusade they were well aware. The Sienese, Bolognese, Lucchese, and Mantuan deputies also declared themselves obliged to consult their respective governments, and receive fresh instructions.
In his answer, Pius II dealt, in the first place, with the question of the tithes, and referred to the resolutions framed at Mantua, and there approved by all parties, with the exception of the Venetians, who, however, were now full of good-will. Every prince might, he said, collect the money in his own dominions, enlist troops, and prepare ships; he would not touch it, only provision must be made for seeing to its proper expenditure. With regard to the condition laid down by the Florentines, he maintained that Italy, being the country most immediately threatened, ought to be the one to begin the Crusade. The Envoys, however, stood firm, and declared themselves unable to enter into any engagement until they had received further powers from their governments; the Venetian Envoys alone formed an honourable exception to this line of conduct.
As time went on the duplicity of the Florentines became more and more apparent, and they proved the most cunning and obstinate opponents of the Crusade. Their conduct was prompted by their jealousy of the projects of political aggrandizement in Italy cherished by the Republic of St. Mark, and the rivalry between the two powers for the possession of the trade of the Levant. The secret hope of the Florentines was that Venice would exhaust herself in single combat with the Turks. Accordingly they were most anxious that the war should not be made the common affair of the West and to effect this object their Envoys shrank from no intrigue. In a private audience they represented to the Pope that the war against the Turks was, after all, taken in hand merely for the benefit of the Venetians, who, dreaming themselves the successors of the ancient Romans, and the inheritors of their world-wide dominion, aspired, after the conquest of Greece, to subject Italy to their yoke. Would the Roman Church in such a case be able to retain her independence and dignity? The Venetians and the Turks ought to be left completely to themselves; the result would be a protracted war by which both powers would be weakened to the great advantage of Italy and the Christian world.
Pius II pronounced such a policy to be short-sighted, ignoble, and unworthy of the Vicar of Christ. The ambition of the Venetians might indeed be excessive, but dependence on Venice was to be preferred to dependence on the Porte. Even though she might be selfishly aiming at the possession of the Peloponnesus, still her discomfiture by the Turks would be a disaster for Christendom. In the present crisis the only thing to be thought of was how the Turks could be repelled, and the liberty of Europe secured. The future must be left to take care of itself. All must unite, with his assistance and the support of the Duke of Burgundy, the King of Hungary, and the enemies of Turkey in Asia, to attack and vanquish the common foe. In order to make it plain to the Florentines that the conquered territories would not all become the property of Venice, the Pope unfolded a plan for the partition of Turkey. This is the first of many similar projects. The Venetians were to have the Peloponnesus, Boeotia, Attica, and the cities on the coast of Epirus; Skanderbeg was to receive Macedonia. Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Wallachia, and all the country as far as the Black Sea, were to belong to Hungary; while other portions of the Byzantine Empire were to fall to the share of various distinguished Greeks. The Envoys also laid great stress on the difficulty that there would be in getting money from the Florentines.
On the following day (23rd September) the Pope in a Secret Consistory laid his scheme before the assembled College of Cardinals. In a long and earnest address, in the course of which he even shed tears, he strove to meet all objections to the undertaking. Peace being restored in Italy, it was now possible, he said, to take up arms against the Turks, and this ought to be done without delay. Now was the time to prove whether the Cardinals’ zeal for the Faith had been merely a pretence, or whether they would follow the Pope. He meant to equip as large a fleet as the resources of the Church would permit; and, feeble and old as he was, to take ship himself and proceed to Greece and Asia. “It will be said, of course, what has this sickly old man, this priest, to do with the war? What business have Cardinals and officials of the Roman Court in the Camp? Why do they not stay at home and send a fleet with troops accustomed to fight? Whatever we do people take it ill. They say that we live for pleasure, accumulate wealth, bear ourselves arrogantly, ride on fat mules and handsome palfreys, trail the fringes of our cloaks after us, and show round plump faces beneath the red hat and the white hood, keep hounds for the chase, spend much on actors and parasites, and nothing in defence of the Faith. And there is some truth in their words: many among the Cardinals and other officials of our Court do lead this kind of life. If the truth be confessed, the luxury and pomp at our Court is too great. And this is why we are so detested by the people that they will not listen to us, even when what we say is just and reasonable. What do you think is to be done in such a shameful state of things? Must we not take some steps to regain the confidence which we have lost? You will ask what steps? Truly none that we find ready in these days: we must enter upon new paths, we must enquire by what means our predecessors won for the Church the authority and consideration that she has. These means we also must employ. Her authority must be maintained by the same means which originally served to acquire it. Temperance, chastity, innocence, zeal for the Faith, ardour in the cause of religion, contempt of death, and the desire for martyrdom, have exalted the Roman Church, and made her mistress of the world. She cannot maintain her position unless we follow in the footsteps of those who created it. It is not enough to profess the Faith, to preach to the people, to denounce crime, and extol virtue. We must make ourselves like those who offered their lives for the heritage of the Lord. We must suffer all things for the flock entrusted to our care, even unto death. The Turks are devastating one Christian country after another. What shall we do? Send troops against them? There is no money to arm them. Shall we exhort the Princes to go forth and drive the enemy out of our borders? That course has already been tried in vain, without success.
“Our cry, Go forth! has resounded in vain. Perhaps, if the word is, Come with me! it will have more effect. This is why we have determined to proceed in person against the Turks, and by word and deed to stir up all Christian Princes to follow our example. It may be that, seeing their Teacher and Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ, a weak and sickly old man, going to the war, they will be ashamed to stay at home. Should this effort also fail, we know of no other means to try. We are well aware that at our age we are going to meet an almost certain death. But let us leave all to God, His holy will be done! Nevertheless, we are too weak to fight sword in hand, and this is not the priest’s office. But we will imitate Moses, who prayed upon a height while the people of Israel were doing battle with the Amalekites. On the prow of a ship, or on the summit of a mountain, we will beseech our Lord, whose Holy Body will ever be with us, to grant us deliverance, and victory”.
The Pope concluded by calling upon the Cardinals to follow him; only the aged and infirm were to remain at home, with one Legate for ecclesiastical and another for secular affairs, the latter of whom was to be supported by a force of 5000 men, under the command of Antonio Piccolomini. “Thus we commend our grey hair and feeble body to the mercy of God. He will care for us, and, if He does not permit us to return, He will receive us into Heaven, and will preserve the See of Rome, and His Bride the Church, unharmed”.
In spite of these stirring words, the French party in the Sacred College protested against the Pope’s plan. Men like d'Estouteville or Jouffroy were utterly incapable of understanding Pius II’s resolve to imitate the martyr-popes of old. The majority of the Cardinals, however, agreed with him. Carvajal, old as he was, exclaimed with enthusiasm: “It is the voice of an angel. I follow, for it is to heaven that you are leading us”.
During the ensuing weeks the Pope was fully occupied with the details of the enterprise. A commission of Cardinals was appointed to carry on the preparations in the States of the Church, I and consultations with the Envoys, regarding the Burgundian proposals, took place almost daily. The difficulties of the expedition were clearly perceived by Pius II, who studied day and night how to overcome them, and the reproaches and objections of the French King, who again threatened Christendom with a Council, only served to inflame his zeal.
On the 6th October, in an assembly composed of the Cardinals and Envoys, the Pope laid down the following regulations in regard to the Crusade:—The war, he said, is to be undertaken in the name of God, and under the banner of the Holy Cross. A supreme leader is to be chosen on behalf of the Church, and is to be obeyed by the others. The spoils are to be divided according to the service rendered by each. As the Duke of Burgundy will set forth next May, everyone is to be ready at that time, and furnished with provisions for a year. In order to avoid differences, a monetary exchange was to be established. All the Envoys, with the exception of the representative of Venice, agreed to these arrangements. He, however, objected to the disposition of the spoils, and to fighting under the banner of the Church. Before the Assembly broke up the Pope asked those present whether any answer regarding the tax of the thirtieth had been received from their governments. Only Lucca and Bologna replied in the affirmative; the others hoped to receive a reply by the next dispatch.
The negotiations were extremely protracted. The Florentines made more excuses than any of the other powers; Pius II perceived very clearly that they meant to do as they had already done at Mantua. Milan, too, showed but little zeal. The Pope was greatly pained by the conduct of his native city, for which he had done and suffered so much. As long as it was possible they deferred giving any decided answer. Notwithstanding repeated and urgent remonstrances from the Pope, November had arrived, and still no instructions had been received by the Sienese Envoy. On the 5th of that month he informed his government that others besides the Pope were astonished at their conduct. On the 12th, he again wrote, adding that Pius II was extremely indignant that they who ought to have been first were the last in this matter. After endless negotiations they finally made up their minds to pay 10,000 ducats, excusing themselves from a larger contribution on the plea of poverty.
Meanwhile the Commission of Cardinals were taking strenuous measures to collect the necessary funds. Tithes, twentieths, and thirtieths were to be levied throughout all the States of the Church; all superfluous ornaments, chalices, &c, were to be sold, and a contribution was to be laid upon all convents without exception. The Crusade was to be published throughout the world, and all Indulgences, but those granted on its behalf, were to be suspended.
On the 19th October, 1463, the Pope and the Duke of Burgundy entered into an alliance with Venice, by which each of the contracting parties undertook to prosecute the war against the Turks, with all the resources they had, from a period of from one to three years, and only to conclude peace by common consent. Pius II also promised that when the Duke of Burgundy came to Italy he would himself set out with him.
It was evident that if other distinguished princes could also be induced personally to take part in the Crusade, as their forefathers had done in the happier days of faith, its importance would be greatly enhanced. Pius I did his best to win such adherents to the cause. In the first instance he applied to his friend and ally, the Duke of Milan, and afterwards to the Kings of Castile, and Portugal.
Francesco Sforza gave an evasive answer, to the bitter disappointment of the Pope, who had hoped to be able to announce the cooperation of this powerful Prince in the Bull which was to make the Crusade known to the whole of Christendom. This Bull had already been approved in a Secret Consistory on the 5th October; and to delay its publication was scarcely possible, for the Burgundian Envoys were anxious to depart, and a pestilence had broken out in Rome.
Accordingly, in the evening of the 21st of October, the Pope summoned the Cardinals and the Italian Envoys to his palace, and called upon them solemnly to bind themselves to carry out the Decree of Mantua on the contributions for the war. All present, first the Envoys of the King of Naples, then those from Milan, Modena, Mantua, Bologna, and Lucca, consented. Details as to the time and the manner of collecting the funds were not discussed. The Florentine and Sienese Envoys were not present at this meeting, not having yet received instructions from their governments. Genoa, Savoy, and Montferrat were not even represented at the Congress.
On the morning of the following day, Saturday, the 22nd October, a Public Consistory was held in presence of the whole Court and of all the Envoys. Goro Lolli read the Bull of the Crusade in which the Pope solemnly announced that he and the Duke of Burgundy would take part in the Holy War. Immense spiritual favours were promised to all who should support it. Those who should personally join the expedition, and remain in the field for at least six months, as well as those who should give money according to their power, were to gain a Plenary Indulgence. High and low were called upon in impassioned words to come and join the expedition. “O stony-hearted and thankless Christians! who can hear of all these things, and yet not wish to die for Him Who died for you. Think of your hapless brethren groaning in captivity amongst the Turks or living in daily dread of it. As you are men, let humanity prompt you to help those who have to endure every sort of humiliation. As you are Christians, obey the Gospel precept which bids you love your neighbour as yourself. Think of the miseries inflicted on the faithful by the Turks. Sons are torn from their fathers, children from their mother’s arms, wives are dishonoured before the eyes of their husbands, youths are yoked to the plough like cattle. Take pity on your brethren, or, in any case, take pity on yourselves; for the like fate is hanging over you, and if you will not assist those who live between you and the enemy, those who live further away will forsake you also when your turn comes. You Germans who will not help the Hungarians, how can you expect assistance from the French—and you Frenchmen how can you count upon the aid of the Spaniards if you do nothing for the Germans? With what measure you mete the same shall be measured to you again! The ruin of the Emperors of Constantinople and Trebizond, of the Kings of Bosnia and Rascia, and other princes who have been overpowered, one after another, proves how disastrous it is to stand still and do nothing. As soon as Mahomet has subdued the East, he will quickly master the West”.
Two full hours were devoted to the reading of the Bull: the Pope then announced, for the satisfaction of the Romans, who were extremely averse to his departure, that he would appoint a spiritual as well as a secular Legate, and would confer on him ample powers during the time of his absence. Further, the Chancery, the Apostolic Treasury, the Rota, and the Grand Penitentiary would remain in Rome, so that the faithful might suffer no inconvenience from his absence.
Many people up to this time had looked upon the whole affair as an impracticable dream, but the publication of the Bull produced a great change of feeling. A general opinion began to gain ground that if the Pope and the Duke of Burgundy were spared, the enterprise might be both successful and glorious. The Milanese Envoys concluded their report with the words: “May God, whose cause is at stake, grant long life to the Pope and the Duke”.
In this Bull Pius II took his stand as head of the Christian Religion, and protector of humanity, liberty, and civilization. It was at once promulgated in all directions. Nuncios, Collectors, and preachers of the Crusade were also-appointed, not only for the whole of Italy, but for most of the other States of Europe. All Europe resounded with the cry of the Holy War. The Minorites were foremost in this work, while the Nuncios were indefatigable in calling on the people to render assistance, and in urging their rulers to support the cause. Their success fell far short of what had been hoped. Those in high places had lost the enthusiasm which in the Middle Ages had drawn the Christian world to flock to the scenes where our Saviour had lived and shed His Blood. Scarcely a trace remained of the chivalrous spirit which made men willing to devote their lives to the rescue of the Holy Places out of the hands of the Infidels. Only the middle and lower classes responded, and this chiefly in Germany. In many parts there, the excitement was so great that, as the Hamburg Chronicle tells us the people forsook their wagons and ploughs to hasten to Rome to take arms against the Turks.
During the later months of the year 1463, Pius II had to carry on wearisome negotiations with the Florentine, Mantuan, and Sienese Envoys, in order to obtain some assistance from the States they represented. The Plague was raging in Rome, many of the Cardinals fled, but the Pope, although suffering much from gout, remained, and sought by every means in his power to promote the great cause he had at heart. He promised to fit out three Triremes and several transports at his own expense, seven of the Cardinals undertook each to provide a Galley, and the others gave hope of further assistance. Among the Italian powers, Borso d'Este, Lodovico of Mantua, and the Republics of Bologna and Siena, engaged themselves to furnish two triremes; Cosmo de' Medici and the Lucchese each one trireme; and Genoa eight large vessels. On the 5th November, 1463, a Decree was published, requiring all the officials of the Roman Court, of whatever degree, to contribute a tenth part of their income for the expenses of the Turkish war. A tax was at the same time imposed on all who should receive benefices within the ensuing six months, and it was decided that the property of all Prelates dying during the continuance of the Holy War should be devoted to defraying its expenses.
A special Treasurer was now appointed to manage the moneys for the Crusade, and this duty was confided to the care of Niccolò Piccolomini, private Treasurer to the Pope His Crusade Account Book, bound in red morocco, and bearing on its cover the cross and the arms of Pius II, is still preserved. It commences in November, 1463, and is continued until after the death of the Pope. Receipts, as well as payments are accurately entered. The charge made by the personal enemies of the Pope, that he had neglected to make due preparations for the Crusade, is here disproved by documentary evidence. Between the 15th November, 1463, and the 10th April, 1464, 27,255 ducats were expended for this purpose. From the beginning of the new year the amounts paid out became larger. In January, 5000 ducats were spent on provisions; in February, 4500 for the hire of vessels from Rhodes, and 1000 for the Galleys to be fitted out at Pisa; the same sum occurs again in March; in May it rises to 2500 ducats. In that month no less than 12,639 ducats were disbursed, and by August the sum total amounted to 62,309.
“The Holy Father”, writes the Sienese Envoy on the 12th November, 1463, “is indefatigable in his efforts on behalf of the Crusade. His Bull on the subject has been sent into all Christian countries, and will, I believe, lead many to take part in it. God has indeed sent this Pope for the salvation of His people, whose Princes have forsaken them, and left them a prey to the attacks of the Turks”. The Envoy then enumerates all the efforts which Pius II had made from the beginning of his reign, and the obstacles which he had encountered, and rejoices at the alliance entered into with Burgundy, Venice, and Hungary. “If”, he concludes, “the Pope had not taken all these precautions, we should have been worse off now than in the time of the invasion of the Barbarians”.
The Turkish question was at this time the predominant subject in all the Pope’s negotiations and interviews with the representatives of foreign powers. In the beginning of November, he said to the Sienese Envoys: “In consequence of the lukewarmness and negligence of Christian Princes, I am constrained to place myself at the head of the Crusade. If we allow the Turks to advance, as they have done of late years, we shall soon all be subjugated. I will do what is in my power; God will help me!”
The zeal of Pius II, and his anticipations of success, received a fresh impulse from the good tidings which came from Greece. General Bertoldo of Este had commenced operations in July, and all the Greeks and Albanians throughout the Peloponnesus had at once risen in arms. Vostitza and Argos were recovered, and in a fortnight the entrenchments of the Flexamilion were restored. When the Pope was informed of these events by Bernardo Giustiniani, the Venetian Envoy, he immediately summoned a Consistory, and announced the victories in an enthusiastic address.
By the middle of November the death of the Prince of Tarento had almost brought the war in the Kingdom of Naples to an end; and the main hindrance to the Crusade being thus removed, great hopes for the future were entertained. The expectation that Ferrante I would himself take part in the expedition proved delusive. The Pope then tried to obtain the 60,000 ducats which his father had left by will for the Turkish war, but only succeeded in inducing Ferrante to send half the amount in the following March.
On the 25th of October, Pius II had addressed a stirring Brief to Cristoforo Moro, the Doge, calling on him to join the Crusade in person. When the matter came under discussion at Venice, the Doge made difficulties on account of his advanced age, and his want of experience in naval affairs, which made Vittore Capello exclaim: “If your Excellency will not embark of your own free will, we will use force, for we value the welfare and the honour of this country more than your person”. The final decision was that the Doge must proceed with the fleet, but four military councillors were given him; and, by his desire, Lorenzo Moro, Duke of Candia, was appointed Admiral of the Fleet. It was also determined that an attempt should be made on the Sultan’s life. Preparations for war were carried on with all possible speed; Ambassadors were sent to France and to Burgundy, and negotiations were begun with Usunhassan, Prince of the Turcomans.
Good news had, meanwhile, been received from the King of Hungary. At the end of September he had led his army across the Save, and invaded Bosnia, then advanced by forced marches to the very walls of Jaitza. On the 1st October this important city was retaken; the Citadel held out till December. The severe winter and the utter devastation of the country alone hindered the further advance of King Matthias.
Venice zealously supported the King, in the hope that the Turkish forces, being fully occupied on the Danube and the Save, their action in the South would be hampered. But the power of the Sultan was so great that these anticipations were disappointed. Misfortune after misfortune overtook the Venetians. Bertoldo died of his wounds, the rising in the Peloponnesus subsided, and sickness broke out. The siege of Corinth and of the Hexamilion had to be abandoned, and the arrival of a Turkish army, 80,000 strong, soon reversed almost all the previous success.
The Venetian disasters were far from unwelcome to the Duke of Burgundy. He gladly took advantage of this opportunity to express his misgivings, and defer his departure for two months. Pius II, however, was not inclined to tolerate his delay. On three successive days he wrote to the Duke to encourage him, and keep him to his purpose.
In Venice, as in Rome, the Duke of Burgundy’s change of mind caused much surprise; and it was decided that Marcus Donatus should be sent to remonstrate with him on behalf of the Republic. Warlike preparations were pushed on, and Sigismondo Malatesta was taken into the Venetian Service. The report that negotiations for peace were in progress between Venice and the Porte was denied by the Envoys of the former power.
When the Pope declared that he would proceed without the Duke of Burgundy, Venice also resolved not to be deterred by his defection.
From the month of September the personal cooperation of the Duke of Milan had been under discussion. Notwithstanding the evasive answer given by Francesco Sforza, the Pope made repeated efforts to win him to the cause. The position of the Milanese Envoys was at this time a difficult one. Francesco Sforza blamed them for not having kept him sufficiently informed of all that passed at the Roman Court, and especially of the Pope’s alliance with Venice; and they, in a long letter, endeavoured to show that his reproaches were undeserved. On the other hand, they were obliged continually to find excuses to make to the Pope for their master’s failure to take part in the Crusade. From the correspondence of this period we learn that many in Rome were of opinion that the only object of the Doge of Venice, in promising to join in the war, had been to exclude the Duke of Milan. In December, 1463, the Pope endeavoured to induce Francesco Sforza at least to undertake to appear in person later on, and the Envoys deemed it advisable not to destroy all such hopes, although they well knew that their master had no intention of the sort. For a long time the preaching of the Crusade was forbidden in the Milanese dominions on the pretext of the Plague. When Francesco Sforza, after continued pressure on the part of the Pope, at last promised to send 3000 men under the command of his son, the promise was not made in good faith. Later on, it was discovered that he had even been working at the French Court to dissuade the Duke of Burgundy from the expedition.
The Duke of Milan was at this time occupied with very different matters from the defence of Christendom. While Venice was most deeply involved in the Eastern war, and was compelled after her reverses to send fresh forces to the scene of action, Sforza seized the opportunity to try to gain Genoa and Savona over to his side. The naval supremacy of Venice would be seriously threatened by an alliance between a great Italian power and these important maritime cities. The negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion on the 22nd December, 1463. In the beginning of February the news reached Rome, the Pope having, up to that time, been entirely ignorant of what was going on. At the Papal Court Sforza was believed to have promised that the French King should be made Emperor. Pius II declared to the Milanese Envoy that he would suffer martyrdom rather than permit such a thing to take place.
These proceedings in Upper Italy not only dealt a heavy blow to Venice, but seriously hindered the war against the Turks. The Republic of Genoa had promised to furnish eight large transports which were urgently required; there was now no hope that these would be forthcoming.
The disinclination of Florence for the Turkish war was much more openly expressed. The Milanese Envoy, writing on the nth June, 1463, says: “It is here considered a misfortune that the Turks have conquered Bosnia; but it is not considered to be amiss that the Venetians should have met with a repulse”. The opposition of the Florentines to the Crusade was very evident in the instructions given to their Envoy at Rome. The proposals which he was empowered to make were thoroughly unsatisfactory; and when the grant of troops and money could no longer in honour be delayed, it was made as small a one as possible. Hatred of Venice was so deeply rooted in the City that the tidings of disaster which came from Greece were joyfully welcomed. A Florentine chronicler even declares that his countrymen handed over to the Sultan intercepted letters from the Venetians, explaining the plans of the Signoria.
The evident disinclination to forward his undertaking among even most of those nearest to him, was very discouraging to the Pope. In the States of the Church the collection of money for the Crusade was opposed by the laity as well as the Clergy. Pius II was constrained formally to impose contributions, and to insist on their payment. The spirit of cheerful sacrifice on which he had reckoned was quite wanting. In Corneto, for instance, when he ordered ship biscuits to be prepared, he heard that the Commune meant to levy a mill-tax on the flour employed. Threats of an Interdict were required to make the wealthy city of Perugia do her part. The Bolognese had made the fairest promises; they were only required to provide two Galleys, but even this demand was thought excessive. The Cardinals were very slow in getting their Galleys fitted out. Under these circumstances it was not surprising that no decisive measures could be contemplated for the moment.
The most bitter of his many disappointments was yet in store for Pius II: the Duke of Burgundy broke the vow by which he had bound himself to take part in the Crusade. The party of the Lords of Croix, who were opposed to the war, met with but little resistance from Philip, who was thoroughly enervated by his excesses. In February, 1464, they brought about a meeting between him and the French King. The latter forbade the Duke, who was his vassal, to go to the war, alleging as a reason that the Pope’s enterprise would only be to the advantage of the Greeks and the Venetians, and was not for the welfare of Christendom. Philip now thought he had before him a way of breaking his vow and the treaty without disgrace. On the 8th of March he caused his States to be informed that, at the command of the French King, he had been obliged to defer his Expedition for a year. His illegitimate son, Antoine, might, in the meantime, set out with 3000 men. Well-informed persons at once asserted that this offer of assistance would come to nothing. The event proved them to be in the right.
Pius II was at this time at Siena, whence, by the urgent advice of his physicians, he meant to proceed to the Baths of Petriolo. He was so ill that he had not been able to hold a single Consistory, and was harassed with anxiety lest the complications at Genoa should render the Crusade impossible. From beyond the Alps the tidings which reached him were by means cheering. King René had set his face against the Collection of contributions from the clergy in his dominions, and had also appealed to a Council. But the thing which most of all distressed the sick Pontiff was the conduct of the Duke of Burgundy. At first a change of purpose on the part of Philip had appeared to Pius II hardly credible; once more he reminded him of his public and irrevocable vow, and appealed to his honor. The Bull of Maundy Thursday threatened all Kings who should put hindrances in the way of the Crusade with Excommunication. This was aimed at the author of the Duke’s defection. Philip’s letter to the Pope, received on the following day, made doubt no longer possible, and Pius II declared that its receipt coincided well with Passiontide.
At Easter he heard that the King of Hungary had received the consecrated sword with enthusiasm, but this brief joy was soon mingled with gall. Disastrous news came from the Morea; preparations at Venice were arrested by an outbreak of pestilence; and, furthermore, a Turkish Envoy was reported to be on his way to that City with a view to negotiations for peace.
“It might have been thought that the failure of so many efforts, and the disappointment of so many hopes, would have been enough to cool the zeal of the most ardent soul, and to wear out the patience of the most constant mind. But it was not so with Pius II. As difficulties multiplied, his unwearied diligence kept pace with them, and in proportion to the disregard of his exhortations, his voice grew louder, and its tones more penetrating”. On the 4th April, 1464, he went with much reluctance to the Baths of Petriolo. So greatly did he long to reach Ancona, that, as the Mantuan Envoy repeatedly declares, every day seemed to him almost as long as a year. His indignation with the Burgundians was intensified when the news arrived, on trustworthy authority, that no reliance was to be placed even on the Bastard’s expedition. The part played by the crafty Louis XI in these affairs so incensed the Pope that at the end of April he spoke of excommunicating him.
Many of the Cardinals, especially those of French nationality, were of opinion that as Duke Philip was not coming, the Pope would be fully justified in staying at home. Pius II, however, would not listen to this for a moment. Even those Envoys, who were averse to the undertaking, in their reports bear witness that the Pope was determined in any case to keep his promise, and go in person to Ancona, there to await his Galleys and the Venetian fleet, and then to proceed to Ragusa, where he hoped to join the King of Hungary and Skanderbeg.
In the face of suspicions expressed at the time, and subsequently reiterated, it is important to observe that the Milanese Envoy was so thoroughly persuaded of the sincerity of Pius II that he asked leave to settle his domestic affairs before entering on this long journey. Indeed, after he had so solemnly announced his intention to the world, it would have been impossible, even if he had wished it, for the Pope to draw back. On the 4th May Cardinal Forteguerri was appointed Legate of the Fleet. A few days later, he, with the Pope’s nephew, Giacomo, went to Pisa to superintend the equipment of the Galleys; while on the 7th of May, Pius II himself left Siena for Rome, where he arrived on the 19th.
The agitation in the College of Cardinals, caused by the Pope’s project, was extreme. With the exception of Carvajal, Cusa, and Bessarion, few, if any, of its members were capable of appreciating or seconding the magnanimous resolve of the feeble Pontiff. The idea of following the army into these barbarous Eastern countries was absolutely intolerable to the majority of these ostentatious Princes of the Church. The French Cardinals were particularly opposed to the undertaking. Every possible effort was made to frustrate it. The dangers from the Plague, which was said to have broken out at Ragusa, and from the hostility of the Patarenes in Bosnia, were painted in the darkest colours. The diplomatists joined their voices with those of the Cardinals, but all was in vain. Pius II was not to be moved. None but the aged and sick among the Cardinals, and those entrusted with the affairs of government, were to remain in Rome. All the others were to accompany the Pope. At the end of May he had a fresh attack of gout, accompanied by fever. It was generally considered impossible that he should endure the hardships of the journey. Nevertheless, he declared that he was quite determined to set forth on the promised expedition, even if he were to die by the way.
A last attempt to detain the Pope was made on the 6th of June by the Duke of Milan’s Envoy. He explained that his colleague at the French Court was preparing to mediate between Pius II and Louis XI, and to persuade the King to give energetic support to the Crusade in the following spring. To secure this it would be necessary for the Pope to defer his expedition till then.
Pius II understood only too well the real object of this proposition. The King of France had begun by treating him with the greatest insolence, threatening him with a Council, and other vexatious measures. He had also, by keeping back the Duke of Burgundy, done his best to render the Crusade impossible. As threats had proved unavailing, he was now trying another way. From former experience the Pope had lost all confidence in the King’s promises. “I have no doubt”, he said to the Envoy, “that Louis XI will allow the tithes to be levied, but in the end he will keep them for himself”.
That the Pope did not take an exaggerated view of the case is evident from the Reports of the Milanese Ambassador at the French Court. On the 26th May, writing from Paris, he says that the King is extremely incensed against the Pope, who would not gratify him in regard to the appointments of several Bishops. “The Papal Nuncio”, Louis XI declared, “gives himself unnecessary trouble; go and tell him in my name that I will not consent to the levy of the tithes, and that I have no further communication to make to him”. He adds that the King repeated this twice. In the course of the interview, Louis XI also spoke of the King of Bohemia’s agitation in favour of an anti-Papal Council. Hitherto he had not entered into this movement, but now he was expecting a fresh Mission to treat of this subject. The representative of Milan expresses his conviction that, unless something be shortly done to counteract these measures, a great scandal will arise, especially as the Pope will soon leave Rome to proceed against the Turks; I look upon it as certain that a General Council will be attempted.
Those immediately around the Pope united their remonstrances to those of the Cardinals and Ambassadors, but with no better success. Almost as soon as the fever had left him, Pius II again declared that he would start on this expedition, even if it should cost him his life. On the nth June he appointed Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini his Vicar in Rome and the States of the Church.
In the meantime the arrival of large bands of Crusaders in Italy was reported. The idea of a Pope leading the Crusade in person was peculiarly calculated to touch the lower classes in distant lands. Thousands from Germany, the Low Countries, France, and even from Scotland and Spain, flocked to Venice, Rome, and Ancona. The people had been greatly stirred by the Pope’s appeal: If the Princes and Nobles had been what they were three centuries earlier, all the West would have been aroused. Those who came belonged chiefly to the lower ranks of society, and among them were numerous adventurers; many had neither arms nor money. To the Archbishop of Crete was given the double charge of inducing the useless ones to return to their homes, and of providing for those who were fit for war.
It was also reported that some of the Saxon nobles were on their way with well-armed troops; letters were received in Rome, in which they complained of bad treatment from the Duke of Modena, and expressed their confident hope of finding the Pope at Ancona.
Ill as he was, Pius II could no longer be restrained; his friends and physicians might say what they would, the 18th of June was irrevocably fixed for the start. On that day he took the Cross in the Vatican Basilica; commended himself and his cause to the intercession of the Princes of the Apostles; and in a short address, again declared that it was absolutely necessary that he should set forth himself, is spite of his age and failing strength. “Otherwise”, he said, “nothing would be done”. At Ancona he confidently expected to find not only the Doge but Sforza's two sons, with a splendid band of horsemen and foot soldiers, together with supplies from Siena, from Borso of Modena, and the Marquess of Mantua, from Bologna, Lucca, Ragusa, and Rhodes.
Immediately after this ceremony Pius II left the City. “Farewell, Rome”, he exclaimed with emotion, “never will you see me again alive”. The journey to Otricoli was made by water, as being easier to the Pope, who still suffered from gout and fever. He also slept on board the vessel, as every movement caused him pain, and mental distress was added to his bodily torments. Cardinal Forteguerri, who was supposed to be already on his way to Ancona, appeared on the second day after the Pope’s departure from Rome, and reported that the Galleys at Pisa were not yet completely equipped. At the same time it became known that many of the Crusaders, who had started without resources, and with no idea of the difficulties to be encountered, were returning to their homes. To save the Pope as much as possible from such disheartening sights, the curtains of his litter were let down whenever a band of these fugitives passed by.
About 5000 Crusaders were on their way to Rome. Cardinal Cusa was sent to meet them, and the difficult task of keeping the impatient crowds at Ancona in order, and superintending their embarkation, was entrusted to Carvajal. Pius II implored, rather than commanded, him to undertake it. “I alone”, says Ammanati, “was present at the interview. Carvajal responded, as usual, bravely and heartily, “Holy Father, if I am the man whom you consider most fit for such great things, I will at once obey your orders, and follow your example. Are not you risking your life for me and for your flock? You have written to me to come—here I am; you command me to go—I go. How can I refuse this little end of my life to Christ”. Accordingly he started immediately for Ancona.
The weakness of the Pope, and the intense heat, made it necessary to travel very slowly. At Terni, Cardinals d'Estouteville, Borgia, and Eroli joined the Pope’s train. At this time a pestilence was raging throughout the neighbouring country, and at Spoleto Cardinal Ammanati fell sick. In the fortress of that city there was a man from the East who professed to be the exiled brother of the Sultan, and many hopes were built on the help he was expected to give in the attack upon the Turks. In Venice, also, the identity of this precursor of the celebrated Dschem was believed, and he was allowed to join the Pope’s company from Spoleto. On the 3rd of July Assisi was reached, and on the 7th, Fabriano. Here Count Federigo of Urbino met the Pope, and made a fresh attempt to dissuade him from proceeding any further; but Pius II, who was now somewhat better from the change of air, would not listen to him for a moment.
At Loreto the Pope offered to the Blessed Virgin a golden chalice, bearing the following inscription : “Holy Mother of God, we know that Thy power is without limit, and Thy wonders fill the world; but, as it is Thy will to show it forth, more especially in certain places, and Thou dost daily sanctify this acceptable spot of Loreto with Thy favours, I, a wretched sinner, turning to Thee with my whole heart, beseech Thee to cure me of this consuming fever and cough, and to restore strength to my failing limbs, in the desire and hope that this may be for the advantage of Christendom. Meanwhile accept this gift as a token of my homage. Pope Pius II, in the year of Salvation, 1464”.
By the time the Pope reached Ancona, on the 19th July, he was seriously ill. Many of the inhabitants mistrusted him, and dreaded his arrival, on account of the frequent differences which had arisen between him and the city.
The Pope took up his abode in the Episcopal Palace, near the beautiful Cathedral Church of S. Ciriaco, which was built on the site of the temple of Venus. The height on which this ancient Basilica stands commands a charming view of the old city, the picturesque line of coast, and the sea beyond. “The refreshing breezes which blow there, and the brilliant sunshine, seem like air and light from Heaven and the East”
The first act of Pius II was to order public prayers, and to send Cardinals Carvajal and d'Estouteville to quiet the Crusaders, most of whom were Spaniards or French, and spent their time in quarrelling with each other. The majority of them belonged to the poorest class, or were mere vagrants. They had set out without leaders, arms, or money, expecting to have everything provided for them by some miracle. They laid all the blame of their miseries on the Pope, but the summons of Pius II had only been addressed to soldiers well-armed, and fully provisioned for at least half a year. The first thing to be done was to separate those who were without means from those who were sufficiently equipped. This was the task of the two Cardinals, but they were empowered to grant the Crusade Indulgence to those who had to be dismissed, as though they had been accepted.
Greater efforts even than those made in Rome were now used to detain Pius II. An Envoy, writing on the 22nd July, declared that the Cardinals, the whole Court, and those who immediately surrounded the Pope, were all opposed to his journey. The Cardinals appealed to the Election Capitulation which forbade the Court to be moved without their consent. The physicians told Pius II that if he embarked he would not live more than two days. The Diplomatists pointed out the dangers which threatened the Churches of France and Bohemia; but the Pope informed them that he was not afraid of Louis XI, nor yet of the King of Bohemia, who had lately been summoned to give an account of himself; he was resolved to go.
If the whole Pontificate of Pius II was more or less a series of disillusions, their climax was reached in these last days of his life. To the bodily torments of gout, stone, and fever was added the mental anguish of foreseeing that the humiliations of Christendom, and the dangers which threatened it, would continue and increase. The preparations for the expedition had proved so insufficient that it was not possible to think of starting at once. The only power that was ready was Venice, and that was not trustworthy. The Milanese troops were promised, but they did not come. What Florence sent, after lengthened negotiations, was useless. Few among the Cardinals fulfilled their promises. The death of the Pope seemed so near now that all thoughts were occupied with the approaching Conclave. The delusion under which Pius II laboured, as to the possibility of the Crusade, can only be accounted for by his illness, which must have dimmed his naturally clear perceptions.
At Ancona the state of things became more and more serious. There was not sufficient house-room or water; and, with the great heat of the beginning of August, a pestilence broke out, which not only carried off many of the Crusaders, but claimed many victims also from the Cardinals’ households.
Extreme was the dismay, when the news came from Ragusa that a large Turkish force was advancing towards the city, threatening it with complete destruction unless tribute were paid, and the vessels which had been promised to the Pope withdrawn. Pius II at once embarked the 400 Archers, who composed his body-guard, in ships well-laden with corn. He then took counsel with Carvajal and Ammanati as to what should be done if Ragusa were besieged. Carvajal, ever ready to sacrifice himself in the service of God, offered to start that very night with the Galleys then lying in the harbour. “And what should hinder me from sailing with you?”, said Pius II. “I am resolved to go, if the Turks advance and invest the place”. The suffering Pope still believed in the moral effect his presence would have in striking terror amongst the Turks, and in attracting multitudes of Christians. Carvajal agreed with him. “But poor creature that I am”, says Ammanati, “I spoke strongly against this plan, for, weakened as I was with fever, I feared that I should die on the way”. Carvajal and the Pope, however, adhered to their purpose, until, four days later, they heard of the departure of the enemy.
“Pius II almost succumbed beneath the burden laid upon him by his zeal for the accomplishment of the holy work which he had undertaken. Worn out as he was with bodily suffering, the continued mental strain produced a distressing state of feverish excitement”. His agitation was increased by the unaccountable delay of Cardinal Forteguerri and the Venetians, whose ships he had so confidently expected. The Cardinal had at first been hindered by contrary winds; and on the 1st August tidings came that the Plague had broken out in his ships, and in consequence he could not arrive till at least twelve clays later; but the conduct of Venice was of itself enough to wreck the Crusade.
From the first, the views of the Republic had differed widely from those of the Pope. Pius II had desired that common cause should have been made against the Infidels in a holy war; but to the Venetians, the defense of Christianity was a mere pretext, their real aim being the conquest of the Peloponnesus, a matter of extreme importance to their commercial interests. When they concluded their alliance with the Pope, they may have flattered themselves that he might be led to connive at their purpose. As soon as it became evident that, looking at matters from a higher point of view, he was bent on uniting all Christendom in a common enterprise, their relations with Rome again became strained. Efforts on their part were not wanting to induce the Head of the Church to give up his independent attitude. With a show of zeal for the Faith the Venetian Envoy repeatedly represented the needs of Hungary to the Pope, and urged him to devote all his forces to the war on the mainland; Venice, herself, wishing to keep in her own hands the sole conduct of the naval operations. In the middle of January, 1464, the Venetian Envoy urged that the number of Galleys intended to accompany the Pope should be reduced, and the money to be spent on them sent instead to Hungary. Pius II replied that it would be more to the purpose if Venice were to abstain from arming a few of her own Galleys, and devote the money to Hungary; the number of those destined for the Pope was already less than befitted his dignity. This answer so incensed the representative of the Republic of St. Mark that he declared he had much rather the Pope should stay at home altogether.
Venice continued to make every effort to carry out her purpose. Her Envoys were repeatedly charged to work in this direction, and to quiet the Pope by assuring him that the Republic would have more than forty triremes afloat, which he might look upon as his own, and which would always be completely at his disposal.
The real worth of these promises was soon evident. In April, when the Bishop of Torcello, speaking in the Pope’s name, requested Venice to furnish means of transport for a portion of the Crusading army, the Signoria declared that their ships were for the moment employed in the convoy of troops to Greece, and that it would be better for the Crusaders to go by way of Hungary. In the summer, when they began to arrive in considerable numbers in Italy, those who went to Venice did not find a single ship ready for them. In January, forty triremes were to be placed at the sole disposal of the Pope; on the 21st of June, two ships for the transport of the soldiers, then in Ancona, were all that was promised. But how was even this miserable promise kept?
Three weeks more went by; the Pope was at the gates of Ancona, but no Venetian ship had appeared. The Envoy who accompanied Pius II was instructed to report upon the number of Crusaders then at Ancona, and the Pope was assured for his comfort that two large transports were in readiness at Venice. Another week elapsed before they were really sent. When, they at length reached Ancona, on the nth August, they found but a small number of Crusaders waiting to embark. For most of them, wearied with waiting, had left the city at the end of July. According to Ammanati, this was the Pope’s death-blow.
What interest in the holy cause could be expected from a government which, in the midst of the preparations for the campaign against the Turks, renewed their war on Trieste? In July, 1464, a detachment of Venetian troops invaded the territory belonging to that city, destroyed the salt works in the Valley of Zaule, and then retired.
The delay of the Doge’s departure was equally disgraceful. His reluctance to take part in the war was an open secret. In Venice, however, where the interest of the State was predominant, his personal feelings would have signified little had there been a real desire for the Crusade. The representations made by the Venetian Envoy, at the end of April, to the Pope, would lead us to believe that such existed. Pius II was urged to come to Ancona with all possible speed. But at this very time, as a matter of fact, the only preparations that were being seriously pressed on were those for the war in Greece. The arming of the fleet, which was to sail with the Pope, proceeded so slowly that in June one of the Envoys was of opinion that it would never be completed. At the end of January the number of ships which were to accompany the Doge was fixed at ten. By the 12th July five triremes only were ready. When once the Pope had reached Ancona, further delay would have given open scandal. Accordingly, it was at last determined, on the 26th July, that the Doge should put to sea on Sunday 29th; but Cristoforo Moro still lingered, and a fresh summons on the 2nd August was required to make him leave Venice; even then he did not proceed straight to Ancona, but went first to Istria to complete the equipment of his vessels.
The dissatisfaction caused at Ancona by all this delay was universal. Well-informed persons were of opinion that the Doge would not come; and even after he had left Venice, the Duke of Milan was convinced that Cristoforo Moro would sail home again.
Pius II was in a state of most distressing uncertainty, for, from the time of his arrival at Ancona, no communication regarding the Doge’s movements had reached him from Venice. Without the Venetian fleet it was evidently impossible to commence operations; had it arrived in due time, an attempt might have been made to secure the Dalmatian Coast and Ragusa, which was threatened by the Turks. Such had been the intention of the Pope and Carvajal. But day after day passed, and Pius II grew daily worse”.
On the 11th August a slight improvement in the Pope’s condition was apparent, though the fever still continued. His vital energies seemed to rally for a time, when, at last, on the 12th August, the approach of the Venetian ships was announced. He desired that his Galleys with five of the Cardinals should go to meet them. Then, with great difficulty, he had himself carried to a window of his bedchamber, which looked upon the harbour and the sea. A flood of despondency overwhelmed his spirit as he watched the ships coming in, and, with a deep sigh, he murmured, “until this day the fleet was wanting for my expedition, and now I must be wanting to the fleet!”
It was not long before death set the Pope free from his sufferings of mind and body. On the morning of the 13th August he received the Holy Viaticum, in the presence of his household, and addressed them in words befitting the Vicar of Christ. On the following day the Cardinals gathered round his death-bed. He gathered up his failing powers once more to impress upon their minds the holy work to which he had devoted his life. “My well-beloved Brethren”, he said in his gentle and often broken voice, “my hour is drawing near: God calls me. I die in the Catholic Faith in which I have lived. Up to this day I have taken care of the sheep committed to me, and have shrunk from no danger or toil. You must now complete what I have begun but am not able to finish. Labour therefore in God’s work, and do not cease to care for the cause of the Christian Faith, for this is your vocation in the Church. Be mindful of your duty, be mindful of your Redeemer, who sees all, and rewards every one according to his deserts. Guard the States of the Church also, that they may suffer no harm. Beloved Brethren, as Cardinal and as Pope I have committed many faults in my dealings with you. I have offended God, I have wounded Christian charity. For those offences may the Almighty have mercy on me; for that in which I have failed towards you, forgive me, beloved brethren, now, in the presence of death. I commend to you my kindred, and those who have served me, if they prove worthy. Farewell, Brethren! May the peace of God and heavenly grace be with you”. The Cardinals listened in tears. For a long time not one could speak. At length Bessarion, in the name of all, made a short reply; they then knelt round the bed to kiss his hand.
The next day being the Feast of the Assumption, Pius II wished again to receive the Blessed Sacrament, and his friend, Cardinal Ammanati, was to bring It to him; but the Pope was not destined to celebrate the Feast on earth. After he had been anointed, he again expressed his desire that the Crusade should be persevered with, and then fell asleep peacefully about the third hour of the night. His last words were addressed to Ammanati. They were a request to be remembered in his prayers. “Such was the end of Aeneas Sylvius, his last hours bearing witness to the depth and earnestness of his zeal for the Crusade”.
The body was laid out in the Cathedral on the Feast of the Assumption (August 15, 1464), and afterwards, in accordance with the desire of the deceased Pope, conveyed to Rome, where it was buried in the Chapel of St. Andrew, which he had built.
Pius II had been the soul of the Crusade, and it came to an end with him; his death was “a heavy blow not only to Western Christendom, but also to the Christians of the East, who were already beginning to feel the pressure of the Turkish yoke”.
On hearing of the Pope’s death, the Doge landed. Francesco Gonzaga, who had recently arrived in his Galley, met him with three other Cardinals, and accompanied him to S. Ciriaco. Here Cristoforo Moro at once had a conference with some of the members of the Sacred College, Cardinals Barbo and Borgia being prevented by illness from taking part in it. At the same time came the tidings of the death of the celebrated Cardinal Cusa, which had taken place at Todi on the 11th August.
From one of the accounts of the conference between the Cardinals and the Doge who had undertaken the expedition much against his will, we learn that the latter made demands which it was impossible to concede. On the 16th August the Archbishop of Milan expressed his opinion that the Venetians evidently repented of their voyage to Ancona and the whole expedition against the Turks
After the Doge had returned to his ship, the Cardinals, who were longing to get back to Rome, determined to give over the Galleys which were lying ready in the harbour to the Republic, on condition, however, that they should be restored if the new Pope were not to approve of the arrangement, or should himself wish to undertake a Crusade. It was, moreover, resolved that the 40,000 ducats which remained of the money collected for the Turkish war should be entrusted to the Venetians for transmission to the King of Hungary. These decisions were imparted to the Doge on the following day. On the 17th, the Pope’s body was removed to Rome; his viscera were buried in the Choir of S. Ciriaco. Some of the Cardinals left Ancona the same day, the rest soon followed, for all were anxious to be in good time for the new election.
The Doge left Ancona in the night of the 18th August, and went, in the first instance, to Istria with his squadron. And now came the fulfilment of Pandolfo Contarini’s predictions to the Duke of Milan when the Venetian fleet first set sail for Ancona. Cristoforo Moro returned to Venice, and orders were issued at once that the squadron should be dismantled.
A glance at the energy with which Pius II, like his predecessor, Calixtus III, sought to resist the power of the Turks, suffices to show the injustice of the reproach of recent days, that the Popes were responsible for the incubus which even now presses upon Europe in the form of the Eastern question. The Papacy never forgot, in the face of difficulties of all sorts, its duty of Christianizing the East, and was equally persevering in its advocacy of the Crusades as the only way in which the increasing danger of Turkish invasion could be met. The Popes did more in proportion to their material resources than any European power, for the defence of Christendom against this terrible foe. Pius II, on his death-bed while the Crusaders’ fleet sailed into Ancona, was the champion and exponent of a great idea, whatever opinion may be formed as to the suitability of the means by which it was to have been realised.
Pius II is one of those Pontiffs whose life and character has called forth the most conflicting appreciations. This is not surprising, if we consider his great talents and varied attainments, so far surpassing those of the majority of his contemporaries, and the many changes which marked the course of his eventful life. It is impossible to defend much of his conduct in his earlier days, or his nepotism when raised to the Papal Throne. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that, as Head of the Church, Pius II did much to restore the dignity and authority of the Holy See; and that, in cultivation and learning, this gifted and genial Pope has had hardly an equal among Princes. The greatest authority on the Renaissance period places him next in order of merit to Nicholas V, admittedly the best of the 15th century Popes. And, besides this, we cannot withhold our admiration and esteem from the untiring zeal with which, although feeble with age and tortured by bodily suffering, he laboured in what he must have felt to be the almost hopeless cause of the Crusade, striving with might and main to organize the forces of the West to resist the imminent destruction with which they were threatened by the Turkish power. This alone will secure for him an honoured remembrance throughout all ages.
Under Nicholas V, the Renaissance took root in Rome
Prevalence of Heresy in Bohemia . Failure of the Compact between Bohemia and the Council of Basle . The Utraquist Clergy do not fulfil the conditions of the Compact . Administration of the Eucharist under one kind for bidden by the Councillors of Prague . The Compact never recognised by the Holy See . Its efforts frustrated by the fanaticism of the Czechs . Accession of George Podiebrad, his duplicity and fair promises
Cardinal Cusa in the Tyrol, his zeal for reform. Opposition of the Poor Clares in Brixen . Dispute with Sigismund as to the jurisdiction over the Convent of Sonnenburg . Resistance of the Nuns . Calixtus III recommends a compromise in vain . Cusa claims the rank of a Prince of the Empire, denied by Sigismund
Calixtus III attempts to save Christendom from the Turks. His efforts not seconded by the Princes of Europe. Hostility shown to Cusa, his flight to Andraz . Sigismund threatened with Excommunication by Calixtus III . Sigismund appeals against the Papal Bull, intervention of Heimburg
Claims of Cusa at the Diet of Bruneck. Interdict not acknowledged . Death of Calixtus III and that of Cardinal Capranica . The Italian powers favour Cardinals Cardinal Piccolomini .
Efforts of d'Estouteville against Piccolomini. Influence of Cardinal Barbo in his favour. He is elected Pope by the method called "accessus". He takes the name of Pius II. Satisfaction of the Emperor Frederick III. He recognises Ferrante as King of Naples.
Death of Don Pedro Borgia. The Pope urges War against the Turks. Publication of the Bull of Investiture.
Marriage arranged between Ferrante's Daughter and Antonio Piccolomini. Antonio Colonna made Prefect of Rome
Pius II appoints Commission to consider the reform of the Roman Court . Cardinal Cusa's scheme of reform of the whole Church . Rule for the three Visitors chosen to execute the reform . Domenichi condems nepotism. Pius II abandons the idea of a general reform
Rapid progress of the Turkish power. Fall of Servia and of the Morea. Anxiety of Pius II.
Cardinal Cusa made Vicar-General of Rome . Foundation of the Knights of our Lady of Bethlehem . Bestows the Golden Rose on the Prior of the Balia
Podiebrad is invited to the Congress of Mantua . Rokyzana procures Decrees against the Church . Pius II requires public profession of obedience from George Podiebrad . Podiebrad styles him King at Mantua . Nuncios sent to settle his differences with the people of Breslau . They effect settlement, but Podiebrad delays coming to Mantua . He desires to win the Crown of Germany by help of the Pope .
Annoyance of the Emperor at the recognition of the King of Hungary by the Pope
Fresh attempts are made to dissuade Pius II from the Congress. Some Cardinals endeavour to prejudice Charles VII against it
Reception of Pius II at Florence. Death of St. Antoninus, May 2nd, and Election of his Successor
Pius II crosses the Appenines and enters Bologna on the 9th of May. Unfriendly feeling in Bologna. His magnificent reception at Ferrara on the 17th of May. He is received at Mantua by the Duchess of Milan, on the 27th of May.
Pius II finds no Princes or Envoys awaiting him at Mantua. Hostile attitude of many Cardinals, especially Cardinal Scarampo. Loyalty of Cardinals Bessarion and Torquemada . Indifference of the European Princes
War declared betweeen Frederick III and Matthias Corvinus
War against the Turks. Envoys arrive from France and Germany. hostility of Charles VII to the Crusade
Disputes fomented by Heimburg . Confidence of the Pope in the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg
Close of the Congress, departure of the Pope to Siena on the 19th of January.
Pius II corrects certain local abuses . His zeal for the restoration of Monastic Discipline . Deposition of Martial Auribelle, General of the Dominicans
Cusa renews the Interdict, he is imprisoned by Sigismund . Indignation of Pius II, he summons Sigismund to appearr before him; Sigismund refuses to obey, and is excommunicated . Sigismund, instigated by Heimburg, appeals to General Council . The German Princes take his side against the Pope . Sigismund draws up Memorial against the Pope . Excommunication of Heimburg—his rage . Reply of Teodoro Lelli, and retort of Sigismund
Opposition to Papal authority in France and Germany. The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (July 7, 1438). Efforts of different Popes to procure its repeal. Its results as described by Pius II. His prohibition at Mantua of appeals to Council directed against the Pragmatic Sanction. Irritation in France. Insulting protest of Charles VII. Apprehensions of the Pope he ignores the appeal of Charles VII, The Dauphin promises to abolish the Pragmatic Sanction
War breaks out between King René and Ferrante
The Pope and the Duke of Milan espouse Ferrante's cause. Ferrante is defeated at Sarno by the Angevines.
The Pope sends his nephew Antonio to occupy Terracina. The strife in Naples produces disturbances in Rome. The Governor asks for military assistanc.e The Savelli, Colonna, and Anguillara join the revolt. The rebels take Tiburzio di Maso for their leader. Piccinino attacks the Papal States, and threatens Rome. Pius II is met by the Roman Envoys at Viterbo. He returns to Rome.
Capture and execution of Tiburzio. The Pope tries to make peace with Jacopo Savelli.
War between the Houses of Wittelsbach War and Hohenzollern . Mission of Cardinal Bessarion . Opening of the Diet of Nuremberg Bessarion's Address . His entreaties are useless, a fresh Diet meets at Worms . War breaks out on the Rhine. The Diet at Worms is a failure . Pius II's efforts in favour of Hungary . Postponement of the Diet of Vienna . Defeat of Albert of Brandenberg. Defection of the Archbishop of Mayence . Character and Life of Archbishop Diether of Mayence . The confirmation of his election obtained with difficulty . Pecuniary conditions which Diether fails to keep . The sentence of lesser Excommunication pronounced against him . He leads the opposition to the Pope at the Diet of Vienna . None of the German Princes attend the Diet . Opposition of the Envoys anger of Bessarion . He asks to be recalled, and is refused . The Pope encourages him to persevere
The Italian powers refuse the Tithes for the Crusade . The Pope sends Collectors to all the European States . General Indifference small results obtained . Arrival of an Envoy from the Eastern Patriarchs promising obedience . The genuineness of the Embassy doubtful . fresh Embassy arrives from the far East, welcomed by Pius II. Its doubtful character deceit of its interpreter, Fra Lodovico
Pius II creates six new Cardinals . Merits of Cardinal Oliva, his early Death (1463)
Podiebrad proposes to effect the reunion of Bohemia with the Church . Excitement in Bohemia. The King recognises Utraquism
Death of Charles VII, July 22 . Accession of the Dauphin to the throne of France as Louis XI. Pius II sends Jouffroy, Bishop of Arras, to negotiate with him. Ambitious motives of Jouffroy. Louis XI demands the Cardinal's Hat for Jouffroy and d'Albret. Pius II creates them Cardinals in spite of the objections os the Sacred College. Louis XI revokes the Pragmatic Sanction. Gregorio Lolli on the revocation
Piccinino retires to the Abruzzi. Revolution in Genoa. Federigo of Urbino compels Savelli to capitulate. Fresh disturbances in Rome. The Pope retires to Tivoli for the summer.
Character of Sigismondo Malatesta, his hostility to the Pope. He defies the Pope's Excommunication. He builds of the Temple of Malatesta. The Venetians encourage Malatesta. Marriage of the Pope's nephew Antonio with Ferrante's daughter.
Bessarion leaves Germany . Diether and the Count Palatine bind themselves to assist George Podiebrad . Diet of Bamberg failure of the anti-Papal party . Diether takes Heimburg into his service .
Pius II summons the Tyrolese Rebels to ppear Sigismund before him, they issue violent manifesto . Excommunication of Heimburg . Alliance between Si gismund and Diether . Diet of Nuremburg, anti-Papal opposition reaches its climax . Diether appeals from the Papal judge to future Council . The Electors appeal to the Pope on behalf of Diether . The German Princes consult the French King. The Electoral Union . The Diet of Nuremberg dissolved. Collapse of the Opposition . The Emperor appeals to Pius II for help. The Pope sends Nuncios . Their success in calming the German Princes . And in isolating Diether, who refuses to yield . Diet of Mayence attended only by the Tyrolese Envoys . Rudolf of Rudesheim defends the Pope. Promises of the Nuncios . Defeat of the Conciliar party. Fresh attempts of Diether . Adolph of Nassau replaces Diether at Mayence . Diether's violent protestations . His unprincipled and vacillating conduct . Fresh struggle between the Houses of Hohenzollern and Wittelsbach.
Arrival of Thomas, the dethroned Lord of the Morea, he brings with him the head of St. Andrew the Apostle . He is well received by the Pope, who gives him the Golden Rose and pension
The Queen of Cyprus seeks aid from Pius II. Her reception by the Pope, and personal appearance . Assistance given to her by Pius II. She fails to obtain it from the Christian Princes . News of the Fall of Sinope and Trebizond arrives in Rome 255 Letter of Pius II. to the Sultan attempting his con version . Representations and promises of the Pope
The Canonisation of St. Catherine of Siena
Creation of three Italian and three Ultramontane Cardinals . Good Humanist culture of Cardinals Roverella and Ammanati
The Benedictine Congregation at Bursfield . Opposition of the Nobility to the reform of the Abbey . Love of Pius II for the Franciscan Observantines . The zeal of the Observantines for reform and missionary work . Pius II. condemns negro slavery, which had just begun to appear, he defends the Jews . Bull of Retractation of Pius II . He defends the Monarchical Constitution of the Church . Dispute between the Franciscans and Dominicans . Pius II in vain forbids public discussion on the subject of the Precious Blood
After great disputation decides in favour of the Dominicans.
Publication of the name of the Archbishop of Salzburg
Embassy from Louis XI to the Pope. Defeat of the Angevines by Ferrante and Sforza . Jouffroy represents the repeal as dependent on affairs at Naples. Louis threatens to call an Anti-Roman Council. Anxiety and Indecision of the Pope . He confides his uncertainty to Carretto, the Milanese Ambassador . And explains the difficulty of his position . Carretto encourages the Pope to continue his support to Ferrante . And points out the danger of yielding to French influence in Italy . Arrival of the French Embassy in Rome . Carretto holds interviews with the Cardinals and the Pope Pius II decides to uphold Ferrante his interview with Jouffroy . Solemn reception of the French Ambassadors . Proposals of Louis XI . Reply of Pius II. The Cardinal's Hat conferred upon Jouffroy . The Pragmatic Sanction unconditionally revoked . Great Joy in Rome . Interviews between Pius II and the French Ambassadors . Pope refuses to give way. Louis's offers are conditional . Departure of the French Ambassadors their threatening language
Pius II lays Diether under an Interdict . The Count Palatine supports Diether in defying the Pope, who issues new Encyclical, May 1st . Diether celebrates Mass by force he loses the City of Mayence .The Archbishop of Cologne arranges truce
Distrust of Podiebrad at Rome. The submission of Breslau postponed . Podiebrad sends the Embassy to Rome . Feeling against Podiebrad in Rome . Improved position of the Papacy . Reception of the Bohemian Envoys by the Pope . Utraquist Address . Reply of Pius II, he condemns the Compact . And in open Consistory refuses to recognise it . The Compact is formally abolished . Podiebrad dares not fulfil his engagement to abolish the Compact . The Pope sends Fantino de Valle to Prague . Marini's project of revolutionising the European system . Which finds favour nowhere . The Pope publishes Podiebrad's Coronation Oath . Podiebrad openly declares himself an Utraquist . And rejects Fantino's demand to abolish the Compact . The Nuncio denounces the Compact, rage of Podiebrad . Podiebrad endeavours to temporise. Fantino is released . The Emperor undertakes to mediate . Marini's intrigues at the French Court
Determination of Pius II to lead the Crusade in person . Cristoforo Moro elected Doge . The Turks attack the Venetian Colonies and seize Argos . Conquest of Bosnia. Vittore Capello urges war with the Turks . Altered tone in Venice they propose to raise money for the war
Final defeat of the Duke of Calabria, who returns to Provence.
Ambition of Antonio Piccolomini. Nepotism of Pius II. Pius II's attachment to Siena, he is surrounded by Sienese. He resolves to crush Malatesta, who is defeated at Sinigaglia by Federigo of Urbino. The Venetians plead his cause in vain
Lesbos greatly falls into the hands of the Turks
Diether resigns and receives Absolution
The Siege of Fano, which is taken by the Papal troops. Malatesta is pardoned, but his power is destroyed.
Estrangement between Pius II and Louis XI. Intrigues of Cardinal Jouffroy . Alarming rumours from France. Hostility of Louis XI, his understanding with the national party . Revival of the Gallican liberties . Disorganisation of the Empire
The Pope delays to take actions against Podiebrad
Mahomet II conquest Bosnia . The Bosnian Christians allowed the free exercise of their religion . The King of Bosnia is beheaded, the Queen-mother takes refuge in Rome. Pius II undertakes to lead the crusade
Pius II. embellishes St. Peter's building, the Tribune for Benediction, and the new Chapel of St. Andrew . His repairs in the City and Churches . His love and protection of the ruins in Rome and the Campagna . Memorials of Pius II at Siena
Peace concluded in Hungary through the mediation of the Pope . Louis XI refuses to take part in the Crusade . The Duke of Burgundy at length fulfils his promise . The Pope invites the Italian powers to Congress . Bessarion is sent as Legate to Venice . Venice at length declares war against the Turks . Alliance against the Turks concluded between Venice and Hungary . Skanderbeg attacks the Turks. Reception of the Burgundian Envoys . Good prospects of the Crusade. Meeting of the Italian Congress . Unsatisfactory answers of the Italian States . Reply of Pius II. Selfish duplicity of the Florentines . Their intrigues against Venice . Regulations in regard to the Crusade . Delays of Florence, Milan, and Siena . Measures taken by the Cardinals to collect funds . Alliance between the Pope, the Duke of Burgundy, and Venice . Pius II provides for the government of Rome during his absence . The promulgation throughout Europe, where it meets with little response . The Crusade Account Book . Victories over the Turks. Recovery of Vostitza and Argos . Death of the Prince of Tarento . The King of Hungary recovers Jaitza. Misfortunes of the Venetians . Defection of the Duke of Burgundy .. The Duke of Milan's evasive conduct 341 His intrigues against Venice . Opposition of the Florentines to the Crusade
Reconciliation of the Count Palatine Frederick . Obstinacy of Sigismund . His Mediation of the Emperor accepted. Death of Cusa . Reconciliation of Sigismund .
Proceedings against Podiebrad stopped by the death of Pius II.
Louis XI forbids the Duke of Burgundy to take part in the war . More bad news from Greece. Perseverance of the Pope . He threatens to Excommunicate Louis XI. His resolution to embark at Ancona for Ragusa . Cardinal Forteguerri appointed Legate of the Fleet . Pius I. leaves Siena for Rome. Agitation of the Cardinals against the Crusade . The Pope's illness, he persists in setting out . Anger of Louis XI, threat of General Council . Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini appointed Vicar of Rome . Arrival of large numbers of Crusaders in Italy . The Pope takes the Cross in the Vatican Basilica . Delays at Pisa, many of the Crusaders return home . Illness of Cardinal Ammanati. Pius II falls seriously ill at Ancona . A pestilence breaks out at Ancona the Pope . Venice refuses to find transport for the Crusaders . The Venetians attack Trieste . Delay in the arrival of the Doge at Ancona . Increased illness of Pius II. Arrival of the Venetian fleet . The Pope receives Holy Viaticum his address to the Cardinals
Death of Pius II. on the Eve of the Assumption 370 His death brings the Crusade to an end
Death of the Despot of the Morea . His claims descend to the Jagellon family