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THE MEDICI POPES 




Alinari 

LEO X, CARDINAL GIULIO DE' MEDICI (CLEMENT VII) AND CARDINAL 

DE' ROSSI 



THE MEDICI POPES 

(LEO X. AND CLEMENT VII.) 



BY 

HERBERT M. VAUGHAN, B.A. 

AUTHOR OF "THE LAST OF THE ROYAL STUARTS," ETC. 



WITH TWENTY ILLUSTRATIONS 



METHUEN & CO. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON 



First Published in 1908 



5n dfcemorfam 

PIAM ET SEMPER VIRENTEM 
FRATRIS CARISSIMI 

J. P. V. 
QUI AD ALTERAM VITAM 

NUPER TRANSIVIT 
HUNC DEDICAT LIBRUM 
AUCTOR MOESTISSIMUS 

MCMVIII 



PREFACE 

A r THOUGH the names of the two great 
Popes of the House of Medici loom large 
in the annals of the Italian Renaissance, 
yet the private side of their lives and conduct has 
naturally been dwelt upon with less insistence by the 
papal historian than the leading part they took in 
the development of Italian politics or in the course 
of the Reformation throughout Europe. Even in 
William Roscoe's elaborate biography of Leo X., the 
figure of that famous pontiff is largely overshadowed 
by the momentous episodes of his reign both within 
and without Italy; "one cannot see the wood for 
the intervening trees ! " In the present volume, 
therefore, I have made the attempt of presenting to 
the reader a purely personal study, from which I 
have excluded, so far as was practicable, all reference 
to the burning theological questions of the Refor- 
mation, and have also avoided any undue amount of 
dissertation on the tortuous and complicated policy 
pursued by these Popes of the House of Medici. 
For I hope that a simple account of the personal 
career and character of Leo X. (with whom of neces- 

vii 



viii THE MEDICI POPES 

sity my work chiefly deals) will prove of some value 
to the historical student of the Renaissance, who may 
thereby become better able to comprehend the varying 
part played by the former of the two Medicean 
pontiffs in the political and religious struggles during 
the opening decades of the sixteenth century. 

The earliest, and indeed only contemporary life of 
any importance of Giovanni de' Medici, Pope Leo X., 
is the Vita Leonis X. of Paolo Giovio, Bishop of 
Nocera, himself a member of Leo's own brilliant court 
in Rome, and therefore a person well qualified to 
undertake such a task. The work of Giovio, or 
Jovius, which was first published at Florence in 1549, 
is written in Latin, and though it has been rendered 
into Italian and French, it has never, so far as I am 
aware, been translated into English. Giovio's Life, 
which is divided into four books, is a most meagre 
and disappointing narrative, scarcely a biography at 
all in the modern sense of the term, for it principally 
consists of a long rambling account of contemporary 
politics, albeit the Fourth Book contains a large num- 
ber of intimate details concerning the Pope, which 
have often been utilised by succeeding writers. Poor 
and unsatisfactory as was Giovio's Life, this work 
remained for over 250 years the sole biography of the 
great Medicean pontiff until 1797, when there appeared 
an enlarged Leonis X. Vita from the pen of the learned 
Monsignore Angelo Fabroni of Pisa. This biography, 
which was published in Latin and has never been 
translated, contains a fuller account, together with a 



PREFACE ix 

copious Appendix of original Documents discovered 
and given to the world by Fabroni himself. His work 
was followed eight years later by the justly celebrated 
biography from the pen of William Roscoe of Liver- 
pool, who based his study on Fabroni's researches. 
Roscoe's The Life and Pontificate of Leo X. was soon 
translated into Italian, and published in 1817 by Count 
Luigi Bossi of Milan, whose splendid edition in twelve 
volumes constitutes the best and fullest Life of this 
Pope in existence. Amongst more recent volumes on 
the same subject, the carefully compiled Leo X. of 
Professor Ludwig Pastor, published in 1906, may be 
mentioned. Free use has been made in the ensuing 
work of these various biographies, together with their 
voluminous Appendices. 

I have treated of Giulio de' Medici, Pope Clement 
VII., in a less detailed manner, for two reasons : first, 
because his life before obtaining the tiara is closely 
bound up with, and consequently covered by, the 
career of his more distinguished cousin, Leo X. ; and 
second, because his private biography offers far less 
of general interest. Special attention has been drawn 
throughout the book to the various existing works of 
art in Florence and Rome which are connected with 
the personal history, or are due to the bountiful patron- 
age of these two Medicean pontiffs. In accordance 
with the title chosen for this work, I have also added 
a brief account of the later Popes, Pius IV. and Leo 
XI., both of whom bore the historic name of Medici, 



x THE MEDICI POPES 

although their connection with the senior branch of the 
great Florentine House was exceedingly remote. 

In case it may be remarked that an undue propor- 
tion of space has been bestowed on the early years ot 
Leo X. (and thereby also on those of his near kinsman 
and contemporary, Clement VII.), I would reply that 
far less is generally known of the youthful struggles 
and adventures of Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici than 
of the pomp and power of his pontificate ; and that 
some acquaintance with the story of Leo X.'s early 
poverty and insignificance is essential to a clearer 
understanding of his subsequent conduct as Supreme 
Pontiff. The vast and ever-increasing mass of material 
reflecting on the life, public and private, of the Medici 
Popes has rendered my task of selection and rejection 
peculiarly difficult ; indeed, an adequate and compre- 
hensive account of the reign of Leo X. alone would 
afford occupation for a lifetime, as every historian is 
well aware. Yet I think that from the pages of this 
book the reader will contrive to obtain a tolerably 
accurate glimpse into the personality of those two great 
Popes, whose deeds and influence for good or evil did 
so much to shape the course of the political, religious, 
intellectual and artistic development of Europe during 
the early stages of the Reformation. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE i 

Aspect of Florence under the Medici Birth of Giovanni de' Medici 
His parents His childhood and education He is destined for the 
Church Quarrel between Politian and Clarice de' Medici 
Giovanni de' Medici receives the tonsure He is given preferment 
in the Church Lorenzo de' Medici is anxious to obtain a Cardinal's 
hat for Giovanni His efforts in Rome Condition of Italian 
politics Accession of Pope Innocent VIII. Giovanni is nominated 
a Cardinal Deacon He is sent to the University of Pisa Bernardo 
Dovizi of Bibbiena Giovanni receives the scarlet hat in public 
Rejoicings in Florence Giovanni sets out for Rome His reception 
by Innocent VIII. Letter of Lorenzo de' Medici to his son 
Giovanni Death of Lorenzo. 

CHAPTER II 
MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 28 

Effects of Lorenzo's death upon the politics of Florence and of Italy 
Piero de' Medici succeeds his father Lorenzo's three sons and 
their respective characters Arrival of the Cardinal in Florence 
State of Europe in the year 1492 Death of Innocent VIII. and 
election of Roderigo Borgia as Alexander VI. Giovanni returns to 
Florence Sermons and influence of Savonarola in Florence 
Critical condition of Italian politics Ludovico Sforza invites 
Charles VIII. of France into Italy Attitude of the Medici Piero's 
foolish conduct The Medici are expelled from Florence Bravery 
of the Cardinal His flight to Bologna Entry of King Charles 
VIII. into Florence Position of the Cardinal and his brothers 
Giulio de' Medici joins his cousin, the Cardinal Together they 
travel in Germany and France Meeting at Savona of Giovanni 
and Giulio de' Medici with Cardinal Delia Rovere, afterwards Pope 
Julius II. Death of Alexander VI. and election of Pius III. Early 

xi 



xii THE MEDICI POPES 

PAGE 

death of Pius III. and election of Julius II. Piero de' Medici is 
drowned in the river Garigliano His wife and family His monu- 
ment at Monte Cassino. 

CHAPTER III 
RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 52 

Improved position of the House of Medici Friendship of the Cardinal 
with the Papal nephew The Cardinal's mode of life in Rome 
Character and policy of Julius II. Contrast between the Pope and 
the Cardinal Campaigns of Julius He is accompanied by Giovanni 
and Giulio de' Medici Surrender of Perugia and Bologna to the 
Pope The League of Cambrai Loss of Bologna and murder of 
Cardinal Alidosi of Pavia Giovanni de' Medici is appointed Papal 
Legate of Bologna Gaston de Foix The battle of Ravenna The 
Cardinal-Legate a prisoner of the French He sends his cousin 
Giulio de' Medici to Rome The Cardinal and Giulio de' Medici at 
Milan Retreat of the French army Escape of the Cardinal and 
his subsequent adventures Importance of this episode in the 
Cardinal's career. 

CHAPTER IV 
RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 79 

The conference at Mantua Julius wishes to restore the Medici to 
Florence Efforts of the Cardinal and opposition of the Duke of 
Urbino to them The Cardinal with the Spanish army of Cardona 
prepares to cross the Apennines into Tuscany Public feeling in 
Florence The Gonfalionere Soderini and Niccolo Machiavelli urge 
the citizens to defend their city against the Medici Advance of 
the Cardinal towards Barberino The Florentine Republic rejects 
Cardona's offers Siege and Sack of Prato Conduct of the 
Cardinal thereat Giuliano de' Medici re-enters Florence Flight 
of Soderini The Cardinal returns to the city He is practically 
master of Florence Formation of the societies of the Diamond 
and the Bough Death of Pope Julius II. The Cardinal sets out 
for the conclave in Rome. 

CHAPTER V 
LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 100 

Last days of Julius II. The judgment of history upon him His 
portrait by Raphael The Conclave of March, 1513 Illness of 
Giovanni de' Medici He is elected Pope under the title of Leo X. 



CONTENTS xiii 

PAGE 

Rejoicings in Rome and Florence The personal appearance of 
the new Pope He is crowned in St. Peter's High hopes for his 
reign Description of Rome in the year 1513 The ceremony of 
the Sacro Possesso, or formal occupation of the Lateran by a new 
Pontiff Elaborate preparations for the procession Description of 
the pageant Decorations and laudatory verses in the city Agostino 
Chigi Progress of Leo X. across the city Return of the procession 
Letter of Gian-Giacomo Penni Opening of the Leonine Age in 
Rome. 



CHAPTER VI 
MEDICEAN AMBITION 129 

Count Alberto Pio's opinion of the new Pope The private aims and 
ambitious character of Leo X. Condition of European politics in 
1513 Giuliano de' Medici is made Gonfalionere of the Church 
Festival at the Roman Capitol Leo X. poses as the peacemaker of 
Europe Accession of Francis I. to , the throne of France He 
invades Italy with a vast army He is opposed by Leo X. The 
battle of Marignano and its results Alarm of Leo X. He .decides 
to appeal in person to Francis Leo sets out to meet the French 
King at Bologna His reception in Florence The meeting of Leo 
and Francis at Bologna Its unsatisfactory and indecisive results 
Leo returns to Florence Illness and death of Giuliano de' Medici 
Character of Giuliano The war of Urbino Lorenzo de' Medici, 
the Pope's nephew, is declared Duke of Urbino. 



CHAPTER VII 
THE COURT OF LEO X 160 

Rome the intellectual and artistic centre of the Christian world under 
Leo X. Patronage of literature by the Pope His neglect of 
Ariosto, Guicciardini, Machiavelli and Erasmus Rise of Bembo 
and Sadoleto Musicians, buffoons and Improvvisatori at the 
Vatican The Pope's love of music Camillo Querno, the arch- 
poet Practical joke played upon Baraballo Unseemly conduct at 
Leo's court Influence of Fra Mariano Fetti Beginnings of the 
Drama Performances at the Vatican The Calandria of Cardinal 
Bibbiena The Suppositi of Ariosto Other dramatic performances 
at the Papal court Leo's extravagance Condition of the papal 
finances Visit of Isabella d' Este, Marchioness of Mantua, to 
Rome Banquets and concerts of the Italian Renaissance Festi- 
vities in Rome during the Carnival of 1515 Departure of Isabella 
d' Este from Rome. 



xiv THE MEDICI POPES 

CHAPTER VIII 

PAGE 

LEO'S HUNTING 192 

Leo's devotion to sport in his youth He continues to hunt after his 
election The Papal villa of La Magliana The preserved zones 
for the Pope's hunting Methods of contemporary sport in Italy 
The Pope's head keeper, Boccamazzo Leo's chamberlain, Serapica 
The Pope hunts with Cardinal Farnese The hunting poems of 
Molosso and Postumo Description of a day's sport under Leo X. 
Criticism of Leo's conduct His actual participation in sport His 
neglect of business Sums paid for hawks for the papal mews 
before the Pope's death. 

CHAPTER IX 
LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 215 

Leo X. the chief patron of Raphael of Urbino The Pope's neglect of 
Michelangelo Reasons for this neglect Comparison of the chances 
for the papal favour of Michelangelo and Raphael Michelangelo 
is set to design a facade for the church of San Lorenzo in Florence 
Early acquaintance of the Pope with Raphael The artist 
beautifies the basilica of Santa Maria in Domenica Raphael is 
employed by Julius II. to decorate the official apartments of the 
Vatican Death of Julius and election of Leo X. Leo commands 
Raphael to complete the painting of the Stanze Portraits of 
Julius II., Leo X. and other famous personages in the frescoes of 
the Vatican Completion of the Halls of the Segnatura, the Eliodoro 
and the Incendio Wood carving and heraldic ornamentation in 
the Stanze di Raffaelo Decoration of the Loggie by Raphael and 
Giovanni da Udine The bathroom of the Cardinal Bibbiena The 
cartoons for the tapestries of the Sistine Chapel Raphael at Leo's 
suggestion writes a treatise upon ancient Rome and prepares a plan 
of the city Sudden illness and early death of the artist Grief in 
Rome Letters of Michiel and Castiglione Raphael's portrait of 
LeoX. 

CHAPTER X 
CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 244 

Dissatisfaction felt at Leo's policy in the Sacred College His early 
nominations to the Cardinalate Giulio de' Medici is made Arch- 
bishop of Florence, and later a Cardinal His unpopularity Anger 
of Alfonso Petrucci against Leo Petrucci is supported by the 
Cardinals Riario, Sauli, Soderini and Adrian of Corneto Petrucci 
conspires against the Pope's life The plot discovered Arrest and 



CONTENTS xv 



imprisonment of Petrucci and Sauli Leo calls the consistory, and 
accuses Adrian and Soderini of complicity in the plot Arrest of 
Riario The Cardinals heavily fined and punished Execution of 
Petrucci in prison Criticism of Leo's conduct Leo creates over 
thirty cardinals in one batch Important results of this step 
General distrust of the Pope's policy Betrothal of Lorenzo de' 
Medici to Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne Lorenzo's mission to 
the French Court Lorenzo and his bride return to Florence Birth 
of their daughter, Caterina de' Medici Death of Lorenzo and his 
wife Tombs of the Medici in San Lorenzo Cardinal Giulio takes 
over the government of Florence His all-powerful influence with 
the Pope Indecision of Leo He allies himself with the Emperor 
Charles V. Opening of the war between Charles V. and Francis 
of France. 

CHAPTER XI 
DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 268 

Giulio de' Medici sends news to Rome of the recapture of Parma and 
Piacenza Leo is overjoyed at the news He is seized with a 
sudden chill at his villa of La Magliana He returns to the Vatican, 
where he expires on ist December, 1513 Conflicting accounts of 
his last hours Suspicion of poison Reception of the news of the 
Pope's death in Rome He is buried in St. Peter's His monument 
in the Dominican Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva Analysis 
of Leo's personal character Opinion of Guicciardini Unfounded 
charges of immorality and impiety His inordinate craving for 
pleasure and amusement The real failings of Leo X. Conclusion. 

CHAPTER XII 

CLEMENT SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 285 

The Conclave of December, 1521 Election and Pontificate of Adrian VI. 
Cardinal Giulio de' Medici retires to Florence He returns to 
Rome later at Adrian's request Death of Adrian VI. The Con- 
clave of October, 1523 Its delays and scandals Election of Giulio 
de' Medici, who assumes the title of Clement VII. The choice 
approved by the European sovereigns Appearance and character 
of Clement VII. Renewed activity in the artistic world The Hall 
of Constantine in the Vatican completed by Giulio Romano and 
Penni Emblem of Clement VII. Clement's former patronage of 
Raphael The Villa Medici on Monte Mario The painting of 
the Transfiguration Clement gives numerous commissions to 
Benvenuto Cellini The master-jeweller's account of the Pope 



xvi THE MEDICI POPES 

PAGE 

Cellini serves the Pope faithfully during the sack of Rome 
Clement's appreciation of Michelangelo The master is com- 
missioned by Clement to erect the New Sacristy and the Laurentian 
Library at San Lorenzo in Florence Progress of this work inter- 
rupted by the siege of Florence Michelangelo is forgiven by 
Clement for his behaviour at the time of the siege The work at 
San Lorenzo left incomplete at Clement's death and never re- 
sumed. 



CHAPTER XIII 
THE SACK OF ROME 307 

Clement VII. pursues a fatal policy of vacillation between the Emperor 
and the French King The battle of Pavia Clement persists 
in his political folly and defies the Emperor Cardinal Colonna's 
raid upon Rome The united army of German landsknechts under 
Frundsberg and of Spanish veterans under the Constable of 
Bourbon advances towards Rome The Spanish fleet under the 
viceroy Lannoy reaches Gaeta Terrible position of Clement The 
battle of Frosinone Truce between the Pope and Lannoy The 
army of Bourbon continues to move southward It turns aside 
* from Florence It proceeds by way of Viterbo upon Rome Un- 
prepared state of the city Abject folly of Clement Bourbon 
attacks the walls of Rome and is killed The foreign forces enter 
the city Clement and most of the members of the Roman Court 
seek refuge in the Castle of Sant' Angelo Massacre and sack of 
the city Frightful horrors committed The return of the Cardinal 
Colonna Position of the Pope in Sant' Angelo Defence of the 
castle under Santacroce and Benvenuto Cellini News of the 
revolt in Florence and of the expulsion of the Medicean bastards 
brought to the Pope Miserable plight of the Pope He surrenders 
unconditionally to the representative of Charles V. Flight of 
Clement to Orvieto The English Embassy at Orvieto Clement is 
reconciled to the Emperor, whom he crowns at Bologna Siege 
and capitulation of Florence. 



CHAPTER XIV 
THE LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII. 329 

The Pope's relatives, Alessandro and Ippolito de' Medici Preference 
of Clement VII. for the former, who is created Duke of Florence 
Ippolito is made a Cardinal against his wish Memorials of 
Clement VII. in Florence Caterina de' Medici and Clement's 
anxiety to arrange an important marriage for her The Emperor 



CONTENTS xvii 

PAGE 

and Pope again meet at Bologna Catherine is betrothed to 
Henry, Duke of Orleans Meeting of Francis I. and Clement at 
Marseilles Marriage of Catherine in the Pope's presence Return 
of Clement to Rome His last months spent in sickness and misery 
The Pope and Benvenuto Cellini Clement's death a cause of 
popular rejoicing Estimate of Clement VII. 's character. 

CHAPTER XV 
THE LATER MEDICI POPES 347 

Gian-Angelo Medici of Milan, Pius IV. Alessandro de' Medici of 
Florence, Leo XL Leo's election and brief reign of one month 
His monument in St. Peter's. 

APPENDIX 351 

I / 

INDEX 353 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



LEO X. ATTENDED BY THE CARDINALS GlULIO DE 5 MEDICI (AFTER- 
WARDS CLEMENT VII.) AND LUIGI DE' Rossi . . . Frontispiece 

From the painting by Raphael in the Pitti Palace, Florence. 

FACING PAGE 

GIOVANNI DE' MEDICI KNEELING BEFORE HIS FATHER, LORENZO IL 

MAGNIFICO 18 

Fresco by Vasari in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, 

GlULIANO DELLA ROVERE (JULIUS II.) WITH GIOVANNI DE* MEDICI AND 

OTHER MEMBERS OF HIS COURT 56 

From the Stanze di Raffaello in the Vatican. 
FLORENCE IN THE YEAR 1529 82 

Fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. 
JULIUS II 103 

From the cartoon by Raphael in the Corsini Palace, Florence. 

LEO X. RIDING IN STATE 125 

Detail from the Flight of Attila in the Stanze di Raffaello. 
LEO X.'s PROCESSION IN FLORENCE 144 

Fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. 
TOMB AND STATUE OF GIULIANO DE' MEDICI 157 

By Michelangelo in the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo, Florence. 

EMBLEMS OF LEO X. AND THE MEDICI 172 

Wood carving in the Stanze di Raffaello. 
CARDINAL BERNARDO DOVIZI DA BIBBIENA 185 

From the painting by Raphael in the Pitti Palace, Florence. 
PAPAL ACHIEVEMENT OF LEO X 190 

By Giovanni da Udine, in the Borgia Apartments of the Vatican. 
ALESSANDRO FARNESE (PAUL III.) 200 

From the painting by Paris Bordone in the Pitti Palace, Florence. 
LA SALA DI ELIODORO 223 

Stanze di Raffaello. 



xx THE MEDICI POPES 

FACING PAGE 

LOGGIA m RAFFAELLO 233 

In the Vatican. 

LEO X.'s CREATION OF CARDINALS 257 

Fresco by Vasari in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. 

LORENZO DE' MEDICI, DUKE OF URBINO 263 

Statue by Michelangelo in the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo, Florence. 

GIULIO DE' MEDICI (CLEMENT VII.) 289 

From the painting by Bronzino in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. 

CLEMENT VII. AND THE EMPEROR CHARLES V 308 

Fresco by Vasari in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. 

CLEMENT VII. AND FRANCIS I. 326 

Fresco by Vasari in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. 
CATERINA DE' MEDICI, QUEEN OF FRANCE . . . . . . 339 

From a painting in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. 

The illustrations are from photographs by Messrs. Alinari, Florence. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



Amongst the printed works that have been consulted during the preparation 
of this volume, some of the more important and useful are enumerated below : 

Paulus Jovius [Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Nocera], Vita Leonis X. Florentiae, 

1549. (Quoted as Jovius.) 

Angelo Fabroni. Leonis X. Vita. Pisa, 1807. (Quoted as Fabroni.) 
William Roscoe. The Life and Pontificate of Leo X. Bohn's edition, London, 

1846. (Quoted as Roscoe.) 
Count Luigi Bossi. Vita e Pontificate di Leone X. di Guglielmo Roscoe. 

Milano, 1816. (Quoted as Bossi-Roscoe.) 

Francesco Nitti. Leone X. e la sua Politica. G. Barbera, Firenze, 1892. 
Professor Ludwig Pastor. Leo X. Geschichte der Pdpste seit dem Ausgang des 

Mittelalters. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1906. (Quoted as Pastor.) 
Dr. M. Creighton, Bishop of London. A History of the Papacy from the Great 

Schism to the Sack of Rome (vols. v. and vi.). Longmans, Green and 

Co., London, 1904. (Quoted as Creighton.) 

Ferdinand Gregorovius. History of Rome in the Middle Ages. Trans- 
lated by Annie Hamilton. George Bell, London, 1902. (Quoted as 

Gregorovius.) 
Jacob Burckhardt. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. Translated 

by S. G. C. Middlemore. Swan Sonnenschein & Co., London, 1892. 
M. Sanudo. / Diarii (1496-1533). Venezia, 1879-1902. 
Francesco Guicciardini. Storia d j Italia. Edited by Gio. Rosini. Capolago, 

1836. 

Lorenzo Pignotti. Storia delta Toscana. Pisa, 1813. 
H. E. Napier. Florentine History (vol. iv.). Moxon, London, 1846. 
J. Michelet. La Renaissance. Le"vy, Paris, 1898. 
G. Del Badia. Diario Fiorentino di Luca Landucci. Sansoni, Firenze, 1883. 

(Quoted as Landucci.) 

E. Bacciotti. Firenze Illustrata. Firenze, 1879. 
C. Yriarte. Florence. Sampson Lowe, London, 1882. 
W. Roscoe. Life of Lorenzo de' Medici. London, 1796. 
Professor E. Armstrong. Lorenzo de' Medici. Putnams, New York and 

London, 1896. 



xxii THE MEDICI i POPES 

C. Belviglieri. Tavole Sincrone e Genealogiche di Storia Italiana. Firenze, 

1885. 

E. Grifi. Saunterings in Florence. Bemporad e Figlio, Firenze, 1899. 
Professor Pasquale Villari. Life and Times of Niccolb Machiavelli. Translated 

by Madame Linda Villari. (Third Edition.) Fisher Unwin, London, N.D. 

(Quoted as Villari.) 

J. C. L. Sismondi. Histoire des Republiques Italiennes. Bruxelles, 1839. 
Professor R. Lanciani. The Golden Days of the Renaissance in Rome. Hough- 
ton, Mifflin and Co., Boston and New York, 1906. (Quoted as Lanciani.) 
B. Platina. Le Vite de' Pontefici. In Venetia, 1685. 
Raynaldus. Diario di Paride Grasso. 
Leopold Ranke. History of the Popes. Translated by E. Foster. Bonn's 

edition, London, 1889. 
Count Domenico Gnoli. Le Caccie di Leone X. La Nuova Antologia, vol. 

cxxvii. 
Signer Alessandro Luzio. Isabella a" Este ne 1 primordi del Papato di Leone X. 

Cogliati, Milano, 1907. 
Adolphus Trollope. The Girlhood of Catherine de Medici. Chapman & Hall, 

London, 1856. 
Scipione Ammirato. Ritratti d 1 huomini illustri di Casa Medici. (Opuscoli, 

vol. iii.) Firenze, 1640. 
Cesare Guasti. II Sacco di Prato e il Ritorno dei Medici in Firenze net 1512. 

Bologna, 1880. 

G. Milanesi. // Sacco di Roma del 1527. G. Barbara, Firenze, 1867. 
J. A. Symonds. Renaissance in Italy. Holt & Co., New York, 1887. 
J. A. Symonds. Life of Michelangelo Buonarotti. Macmillan, London, 1901. 
Benvenuto Cellini. Vita di scritta da lui medesimo. Firenze, 1842. 
Giorgio Vasari. Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Bohn's 

edition, London, 1850. 
Eugene Muntz, Raphael, His Life, Works and Times. Translated by Walter 

Armstrong. Chapman & Hall, London, 1896. (Quoted as Muntz.) 
Baldassare Castiglione. 77 Cortigiano. Vinegia, 1556. 
A. Braschet. Les Archives de la Serenissime Republique de Venise. Venise, 

1857. 



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THE MEDICI POPES 

CHAPTER I 

CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 

From the frightful spectacle of poverty, barbarity and ignorance, 
from the oppression of illiterate masters, and the sufferings of a degraded 
peasantry, which the annals of England and France present to us, it is 
delightful to turn to the opulent and enlightened states of Italy, to 
the vast and magnificent cities, the ports, the arsenals, the villas, the 
museums, the libraries, the marts filled with every article of comfort or 
luxury, the factories swarming with artisans. . . . With peculiar pleasure 
every cultivated mind must repose on the fair, the happy, the glorious 
Florence, the halls which rang with the mirth of Pulci, the cell where 
twinkled the midnight lamp of Politian, the statues on which the young 
eye of Michelangelo glared with the frenzy of a kindred inspiration, 
the gardens in which Lorenzo meditated some sparkling song for the 
May-Day dance of the Etrurian virgins (Lord Macaulay, Essay on 
Machtavelli). 

IN our efforts to realise the leading events of our own 
history we experience no small difficulty from the 
fact that so much of the face of England has com- 
pletely altered its outward appearance under the stress of 
modern development, so that we find it particularly hard 
to picture to ourselves their original setting. Our over- 
grown yet ever-spreading capital owns scarcely a feature 
to-day in common with the London of the Tudors or Plan- 
tagenets ; the relentless pushing of industrial enterprise 
has turned whole shires from green to black, from verdant 
countryside to smoke-grimed scenes of commerce. It is 
therefore well-nigh impossible for us in many cases to con- 



2 THE MEDICI POPES 

jure up the old-world conditions of Merrie England. But 
in writing of Italian annals we are confronted by no such 
problem ; altered to a certain extent no doubt is the pres- 
ent aspect of Italy, yet in Florence, Venice, Siena and 
most of her cities we still possess the empty stages of the 
pageants and deeds of long ago, all ready prepared for us 
to people with the famous figures of the historic past. 

Standing on the airy heights of San Miniato, where 
the golden mosaics of its venerable church have cauhgt 
the passing glories of the sunset for nigh upon a thousand 
years, or strolling amongst the ilex alleys of " Boboli's 
ducal bowers," we can still gaze below upon the Florence of 
the Medici, the Florence of Lorenzo the Magnificent and 
of Savonarola, the Florence of Popes Leo and Clement, 
of Michelangelo and Machiavelli. For beneath us swift 
Arno still shoots under the arches of Taddeo Gaddi's 
ancient bridge piled high with its load of tiny shops that 
Florentine goldsmiths have inhabited for the past six cen- 
turies. There still dominates the red-roofed city Brunel- 
leschi's huge cupola, and beside it still springs aloft "into 
blue aether that no clouds o'ercast" the delicate parti- 
coloured campanile of the Shepherd- Painter. Nearer to 
us the graceful yet sturdy belfry of the old civic palace 
soars majestically into the clear atmosphere, and hard by 
we note the fantastic spire of the Badia, and alongside it 
the severe outline of the turret that adjoins the grim castle 
of the Podesta. Westward the slender pinnacle of Santa 
Maria Novella greets our eyes, whilst amidst this varied 
group of towers there obtrudes on our sight the square 
mass of Or San Michele, that sacred citadel of the Flor- 
entine guilds. Oltr' Arno nestling at our feet remains 
wholly unchanged, and of a truth the only conspicuous 
objects that can interrupt our mental retrospect of the 
city of Lorenzo and Leo are the mean tower of Santa 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 3 

Croce, the long colonnades of the Uffizi, and the clumsy 
dome that surmounts the gorgeous charnel-house of the 
Medicean Grand-Dukes. To make the picture perfect, 
we must blind our eyes to these excrescences of a later age, 
and by another slight effect of the imagination we must 
behold the modern raw suburbs and their smoke-belching 
factories sink into the soil of the Florentine plain to give 
place to tracts of garden and orchard, to shady groves and 
smiling vineyards, that lie outside the broad coronal of 
towered walls, wherewith Arnolfo di Cambio endowed his 
native city for her protection. We must next conceive 
the steep hillside of Fiesole less populous than at the 
present day, less marred by quarries and mean houses, 
yet freely besprinkled with ample villas. Amidst this 
radiant scenery the practised eye can easily detect the 
chief Medicean residences; that sheltered pleasaunce 
with its long terraces below the crest of ancient Faesulae ; 
the favourite retreat of the sickly Piero and the Magnifi- 
cent Lorenzo, with its broad roof peeping forth from bosky 
thickets of elm and cypress at sunny Careggi ; and again 
by directing our glance across the fertile plain towards 
Prato, we seem to discover the whereabouts of Sangallo's 
stately palace at low-lying Cajano, where the luckless 
Clement VII. spent much of his childhood. No stretch of 
the imagination is however required on our part to realise 
the eternal hills which form the northern background to 
the City of the Lily ; for ever unchanged and unchange- 
able remain the stony stretches of familiar Monte Morello, 
the green and russet slopes of the heights that rise in end- 
less succession eastward of Fiesole, and the barren violet- 
tinted mountains bounding the plain above Prato and 
Pistoja. How exquisite, and also how unaltered even 
to-day, is the distant aspect of Florence, "la bellissima e 
famosissima figlia di Roma," as one of her most famous 



4 THE MEDICI POPES 

sons thus addressed his ancient mother ! With so superb 
a setting, amid such glorious surroundings, the past history 
of Florence becomes a living thing, which it needs no 
striving to quicken, for the true Medicean city of the 
Italian Renaissance stands before us to-day sharply 
defined in the crystal-clear air of Tuscany 

Dove '1 humano spirito si purga 
E di salir al Ciel' diventa degno. 1 

In the heart of the town itself, almost beneath the shadow 
of the vast dome, out of sight of which no true-born son 
of Florence is said ever to feel happy, rises that group 
of buildings which is so closely associated with the origin 
and fortunes of the House of Medici. Here lies the great 
basilica of San Lorenzo with its pitiful naked facade, that 
Medicean popes and princes were always intending to 
convert into a costly thing of beauty ; at its transepts up- 
rear the rival sacristies of Brunelleschi and Michelangelo, 
above which looms the red cupola of the Grand- Ducal 
mausoleum. B eside the church extends the long window- 
pierced form of the Laurentian Library, overlooking the 
quiet cloister in a dark angle of which sits eternally the 
robed and mitred figure of the grim-visaged Paolo 
Giovio, the venal Plutarch of his age and the earliest bio- 
grapher of Pope Leo X. Upon the little piazza before 
the church, nowadays the busy scene of a daily market 
of cheap or tawdry goods, abuts the massive palace which 
was the cradle of the Medicean race. Much changed 
in outward aspect is the mansion that Michelozzi con- 
structed for Cosimo il Vecchio, for the Riccardi, who 
bought this historic building in after years, must needs 
spoil its original proportions by adding largely to the 
structure. The statue-set garden wherein Cosimo and 

1 // Purgatorw, canto i. 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 5 

Lorenzo were wont to stroll has wholly disappeared, but 
the central courtyard with its antique friezes and its stone 
medallions remains intact. A most precious relic of its 
former owners it still retains in the exquisite little chapel 
covered with Benozzo Gozzoli's renowned frescoes, where- 
in are portrayed in glowing colours and in gleaming gold 
Cosimo the Elder, his son Piero, his grandchildren, and 
his Imperial guests from distant Byzantium, all riding 
with their trains of richly-clad attendants, with hawk and 
hound, and even with trained leopard, amidst a landscape 
of marvellous but fantastic beauty. The old Medicean 
mansion, lying between Piazza San Lorenzo and the 
broad curve of Via Larga, cannot perhaps aspire to the 
symmetry and rich decoration of Palazzo Strozzi hard by, 
nor can it vie in bulk and majesty with Messer Pitti's vast 
palace on the slopes of Oltr' Arno ; nevertheless it is 
a goodly building, well-proportioned and imposing, and 
withal suitably contrived for defence. 

It was in a chamber of this historic house that 
Giovanni de' Medici, afterwards Pope Leo X., first 
saw the light on nth December, 1475. Of his sire, 
the Magnificent Lorenzo uncrowned king of Florence, 
genial tyrant of an adoring populace, statesman, diplo- 
matist, banker, scholar, poet it will be superfluous to 
speak ; his mother, Clarice Orsini, a member of the 
haughty feudal Roman house, was the first " foreign" 
bride to enter the portals of the Medicean palace. She 
was a good woman and a faithful wife, but in intellect 
the inferior of her brilliant consort, whose versatile nature 
and marvellous powers often puzzled or alarmed her. 
But she had at least the merit of bestowing on her 
second son the pontifical name by which all the world 
speaks and thinks of Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici. 
For on the night before her infant was born the good 



6 THE MEDICI POPES 

Clarice had a dream, wherein she imagined herself seized 
with pangs of childbirth in the Florentine Duomo, and 
delivered of a huge but most docile lion instead of the 
expected infant. 1 Man has always been a superstitious 
animal, and in the year 1475 dreams such as Clarice's 
were taken very seriously indeed as intentional warn- 
ings or compliments from the Unseen, so that there can 
be no reasonable doubt that Giovanni de' Medici on 
being elected to fill the papal throne in after years chose 
his official title of Leo X. out of deference to his mother's 
nightmare, over the mystical meaning of which he had 
probably often pondered. 

Of the little Giovanni's brothers and sisters we must 
speak one word. First, there was Piero, the heir, who 
was four years old at Giovanni's birth, and last there 
was Giuliano, born in the year of the Pazzi conspiracy 
and so named after his ill-fated uncle. Then there were 
the four sisters Lucrezia, Maddalena, Contessina and 
Luisa of whom the three first-named were married re- 
spectively to a Cybo, a Salviati, and a Ridolfi ; whilst 
Luisa died prematurely on the eve of her nuptials with 
Giovanni, son of Pier-Francesco de' Medici, head of the 
younger branch of the Medicean House. To his chil- 
dren, Lorenzo always showed himself an affectionate and 
indulgent father, even condescending on occasions to 
take part in their noisy games of the nursery : a circum- 
stance that the merciless Machiavelli records with a sneer 
in the pages of his Florentine history " he would for- 
get the dignity of his office in romping with his children, 
for he would oftentimes indulge in any idle or childish 
amusement they might put him to ". Nevertheless, most 
persons will agree with a modern French critic, who de- 

1 Jovius, lib. i. 






CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 7 

clares that never could the great Lorenzo have shown 
himself more human or more lovable than when playing 
at soldiers with Piero and Giuliano, or rolling on the 
floor with the future Leo X. 

Giovanni must have been far too young to remember 
the conspiracy of the Pazzi with its terrible scenes, when 
the mangled corpse of his uncle Giuliano was borne from 
the cathedral to the palace that was surrounded by 
angry crowds calling for summary vengeance on the 
murderers, and professing boundless devotion towards 
their surviving ruler, who had escaped the assassin's 
knife as though by a miracle. Later, perhaps, he may 
have recalled an addition to the Medicean nursery in a 
little dark-eyed boy with the name of Giulio, the bastard 
son of the murdered Giuliano, who was sometimes 
brought to share the lessons and amusements of Lorenzo's 
own children. In any case he must have been conscious 
of the change of scene from busy crowded Florence to 
the quiet and solitude of the family estate of Caffagiolo, 
whither the Magnificent despatched his household for 
safety after the Conjuration of the Pazzi. The dark 
forests of pine and fir, the fleecy flocks, the rough but 
kindly shepherds of the hills, the keen air of the wind- 
grieved Apennines, must have had their early influence on 
any son of Lorenzo the Poet, who loved dearly the life 
and people of the Tuscan country-side. But in strange 
contrast with the rural surroundings of airy Caffagiolo on 
its distant mountain -top must have seemed the conversa- 
tions overheard by the sharp ears of the children between 
their tutor, Angelo Poliziano, and the handsome young 
Pico della Mirandola, or the abstruse arguments indulged 
in by their father with the learned Marsilio Ficino on the 
chance occasions when Lorenzo was able to join his 
family in their country retreat. But more often Politian 



8 THE MEDICI POPES 

was left alone with his charges and their mother, whose 
views by no means coincided with those of their chosen 
preceptor. Fiercely did the anxious Clarice wrangle 
with Politian over the methods of education, which she 
wanted to be conducted on her old-fashioned lines, the 
tutor complaining meanwhile to Madonna Lucrezia, 
Lorenzo's mother, a Tornabuoni by birth, to whom in 
an amusing letter he sends a comically dismal account 
of the daily life at Caffagiolo, which was by no means a 
residence to the taste of the fastidious scholar. 

" The only news I can send you is that we have here 
such continual rains that it is impossible to quit the house, 
and the exercises of the country are exchanged for 
childish sports within doors. Here I stand by the fire- 
side in my great coat and slippers, so that you might 
take me for the very figure of Melancholy. . . . Were 
we in Florence, we should have some consolation, were 
it only for that of seeing Lorenzo, when he returned 
home ; but here we are in continual anxiety, and I for 
my part am half-dead with solitude and weariness. The 
plague and the war are incessantly in my mind. I lament 
past evils, and I have no longer at my side my dear 
Madonna Lucrezia, to whom I might unbosom my 
cares." 1 

But besides complaining thus to Madonna Lucrezia, 
the spoiled Humanist does not scruple to upbraid Clarice 
to her own husband for wasting the time of his most 
promising pupil, the precocious little Giovanni, by forcing 
him to squander his newly-acquired power of reading in 
spelling through the Psalms of David instead of the 
masterpieces of antiquity. That the mother and tutor 
of Lorenzo's children were on the worst possible terms 

1 Roscoe, Life of Lorenzo de' Medici, Appendix LIX. 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 9 

at lonely Caffagiolo is evident from one of Clarice's 
letters, wherein she relates her side of the case with re- 
gard to the thorny question of education, nor does she 
shrink from abusing Lorenzo's favourite poet and com- 
panion to her husband. 

". . . I do not like Messer Angelo Poliziano threaten- 
ing to remain in the house in spite of me. You re- 
member I told you, that if it was your will he should stay, 
I was perfectly contented ; and although I have suffered 
infinite abuse from him, yet if it be with your consent, 
I am satisfied. But I cannot believe this to be the 
case." 1 

At length Lorenzo, growing weary of these appeals 
and bickerings, advised Politian to withdraw to the villa 
below Fiesole, where he quickly recovered his equanimity 
and spent a profitable time in composing his Rusticus, a 
charming Latin poem that his contemporaries did not 
hesitate to compare with the Georgics of Vergil. 

With unerring instinct Lorenzo had already perceived 
his second son's talents, and had decided to turn them to 
the advantage of his House and his policy, so that the 
little Giovanni was accordingly marked out for an ecclesi- 
astical career almost from his infancy. Before reaching 
his seventh birthday the child received the tonsure the 
solemn shaving of the scalp which notified his entry into 
the Church, and he was at the same time declared 
capable of preferment, whereupon Louis XI. of France, 
to whom Lorenzo had communicated his intention, at 
once presented the boy with the abbey of Fonte Dolce, 
and even promised him the see of Aix, until it was un- 
expectedly realised that its archbishop was still living. 
A canonry in each cathedral-church of Tuscany was 

1 Roscoe, Appendix LXI. 



io THE MEDICI POPES 

promptly bestowed on this infantile pluralist, and even 
Pope Sixtus IV., that implacable foe of the House of 
Medici, granted him a little later the rich convent of 
Passignano. A detailed list of this child's benefices 
would prove wearisome, but we may mention that he 
held twenty-seven separate offices, of which the abbeys 
of Fonte Dolce, Passignano and Monte Cassino were 
the most lucrative. No wonder then that the learned 
Fabroni, Leo's first modern biographer, exclaims in 
horrified amazement, " Dear Lord, what a mass of 
benefices concentrated in one single youth ! " Yet it is 
difficult to dissent from Roscoe's shrewd criticism on such 
a scandal, that it is of small consequence whether such 
preferment be bestowed upon an infant who is unable, 
or upon an adult who is unwilling, to perform the re- 
quisite duties. 1 

In the following year, 1483, this young ecclesiastic 
was confirmed by the bishop of Arezzo in the beautiful 
Medicean chapel with its Gozzoli frescoes ; a circumstance 
which Lorenzo naively mentions in his Ricordi: 

" On the nineteenth day of May, 1483, we received in- 
telligence that the King of France had of his own motion 
presented to my son Giovanni the abbey of Fonte Dolce. 
On the thirty-first we heard from Rome that the Pope 
had confirmed the grant, and had rendered him capable 
of holding benefices, he being now seven years of age. 
On the first day of June, Giovanni accompanied me from 
Poggio a Cajano to Florence, where he was confirmed by 
the bishop of Arezzo, and received the tonsure, and from 
henceforth was called Messire Giovanni. This ceremony 
took place in the chapel of our family." 

But it is needless to add that Lorenzo had far more 

1 Roscoe, chap, i., pp. io, u. 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE n 

ambitious ends in view than the mere obtaining of rich 
sees and abbeys for his second, who was perhaps his 
favourite, son. His many experiences of the Protean 
changes in Italian politics, of which he was now be- 
coming the acknowledged moderator " the beam of the 
Italian scales" had already impressed upon his marvel- 
lous mind the paramount importance of a close connec- 
tion between his own House and the Papacy. The 
preponderance of Italian influence in Lorenzo's days was 
divided between the duchy of Milan and the republic of 
Venice in Northern Italy, and the kingdom of Naples 
and the Papacy in the south, whilst in the centre the 
wealthy commercial state of Florence under the judicious 
sway of Lorenzo himself had for some time past managed 
to keep the balance of power between the jarring ele- 
ments of North and South, and to prevent any dangerous 
combinations amongst the four leading states, whose in- 
trigues also shaped the policy of the smaller Italian cities 
such as Mantua, Ferrara, Siena, Bologna and the like. 
But dangerous and tangled as was the skein of political 
threads held in Milan, Naples, Venice and the minor 
capitals, it was the uncertain action of the Papacy which 
the ruler of Florence had most cause to dread. For it 
had been the unconcealed hostility of Sixtus IV. that 
had made the Pazzi conspiracy possible, and it was also 
the same Pope's aggression that had later forced Lorenzo 
to risk his life at the court of the treacherous Ferdinand 
of Naples on his famous diplomatic mission of 1480. 
From a repetition of past dangers at the hands of the 
Pope, Lorenzo had fully determined to guard himself by 
obtaining the admission of his younger son into the 
College of Cardinals, whenever a favourable opportunity 
might present itself. This attempt to obtain the scarlet 
hat for Giovanni de' Medici was therefore as much an 



12 THE MEDICI POPES 

act of political foresight as an object of mere family ag- 
grandisement, since a Medicean Cardinal would not 
only help to raise the prestige of the burgher House, 
already allied with a proud Roman family, but he would 
also be able to influence the policy of the Sacred College 
and the shifting aims of successive Popes. 

So long as Sixtus IV. sat in St. Peter's chair, such 
an ambition could remain only a day-dream, but on 1 3th 
August, 1484, the Delia Rovere Pope, so dreaded by 
Lorenzo, expired unloved and unlamented. The sub- 
sequent election of Giambattista Cybo with the title of 
Innocent VIII. now placed a personal as well as a political 
friend on the pontifical throne, so that a rare chance pre- 
sented itself to Lorenzo to push his intentions at the 
Roman court. Two serious obstacles lay in the way of 
his cherished scheme ; the feeble health of the aged 
Pontiff, whose tenure of the dignity did not promise to 
be of long duration, and the extreme youth of Lorenzo's 
own little Cardinal in petto. Yet nothing daunted, the 
Magnificent at once began eagerly to press his request 
upon the new Pope, although the latter was naturally, in 
spite of his regard for the father, extremely loth to no- 
minate his infant son a prince of the Church. In fact, 
at his election Innocent had in the conclave not only 
promised never to admit any candidate to the Sacred 
College who was under thirty years of age, but also not 
to create any more members of the College itself until 
its numbers were in the course of nature reduced to 
twenty-four. These restrictions, absurd and illegal as 
they undoubtedly were, the new-made Pope could hardly 
have been expected to comply with strictly, yet certainly 
Giovanni's proposed elevation constituted an extreme 
case. To raise a mere child to the highest rank in the 
Church, even in that age of universal corruption, would 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 13 

have caused a grave scandal ; nevertheless, Innocent 
wavered between the fear of offending the Sacred College 
and a warm desire to serve his true friend, Lorenzo, who 
kept on demanding this boon from the Pontiff "with no 
less fervency than he would have asked of God the 
salvation of his soul ". l So eager and intimate an appeal 
the scruples or fears of Innocent were unable to with- 
stand, especially since in the previous year the existing 
ties between the Houses of Medici and Cybo had been 
drawn closer by the union of the Pope's son, Francesco 
Cybo, with Lorenzo's daughter Maddalena. Besides 
arranging this marriage between the two families, Lorenzo 
had left no stone unturned to obtain his desired end. By 
means of his envoy Lanfredini at the Roman court, 
the two leading cardinals, Roderigo Borgia, whose name 
was soon to become notorious throughout Christendom, 
and Ascanio Sforza, brother of the usurper of Milan, 
were approached on this delicate matter. Both cardinals 
worked diligently on little Giovanni's behalf, especially 
the cardinal of Milan, until the Pope, wearied out by this 
judicious policy of alternate teasing and flattery, finally 
complied with Lorenzo's wishes, so ardently expressed. 
On 8th March, 1489, therefore, Giovanni de' Medici was 
formally nominated a Cardinal Deacon by the title of 
Santa Maria in Domenica, the small antique church 
that stands to-day half-hidden amidst the vineyards and 
acacia groves of the deserted Coelian Hill. The Cardinal 
de Balue, Louis XL's minister, writing after the con- 
sistory to Lorenzo in Florence, thus announces the joyful 
news: " O happy man, what a blessing and what an 
honour for your most reverend son, for your own Magni- 
ficence, and for the city of Florence ! " 2 But supreme as 

1 Fabroni, Appendix II. 2 Ibid. 



i 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

was Lorenzo's satisfaction on receipt of this news, his 
transports of joy were not a little tempered by certain re- 
strictions which accompanied his son's admission into the 
College. In the first place, Innocent very reasonably 
and properly it will be admitted refused to allow the 
new-made thirteen-year-old Cardinal to wear the vest- 
ments or exercise any of the privileges of his rank for the 
space of at least three years. Lorenzo's irritation was ex- 
treme at this command, but in spite of shrewd arguments 
and persistent entreaties the Pope, to his credit, remained 
unshaken in his resolve. Another stipulation made by 
the Pope, who evidently did not consider the education 
of a Humanist as altogether sufficient for a cardinal, was 
that Giovanni should quit Florence immediately in order 
to study canon law at Pisa during his three years of pro- 
bation. Accordingly the boy was sent to Pisa, that 
magnificent failure amongst the historic cities of mediaeval 
Italy, which had lately been endowed with an university 
by Lorenzo himself. For the brooding quiet of the 
famous but derelict old city, the cheapness of lodging 
within its walls, and its central position near the coast- 
line midway between Rome and Genoa, had already 
made Pisa a flourishing seat of learning. Here then 
the future Pontiff studied diligently under Decio, Soz- 
zini and other learned professors, recently nominated 
to the various chairs of Pisa by his father, whilst his 
household was managed for him by a young scholar of 
great promise, whose career was from this time onward 
bound up closely with that of his brilliant pupil, who was 
but five years his junior. This was no less a person 
than Bernardo Dovizi of Bibbiena, whose shrewd face 
is so familiar to us from Raphael's splendid portrait 
in the Pitti Gallery at Florence, and whose attain- 
ments will ever shed reflected glory on the humble 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 15 

village amongst the Tuscan uplands that gave him 
birth : 

Fia nota per costui, dicea, Bibbiena, 
Quanto Fiorenza, sua vicina, e Siena. 1 

Meanwhile Lorenzo himself, already ailing in the prime 
of life, was kept in a perpetual fever of suspense for fear 
the Pope might die before the close of this probationary 
period, and there can be little doubt that this continual 
anxiety contributed not a little to the Magnificent's pre- 
mature decease. Nor was he idle in urging Innocent, 
by means of his ambassadors in Rome, to withdraw the 
odious conditions, so as to allow his son the full enjoy- 
ment of his rank. But the Pope continued to shut his 
ears to all appeals and arguments, so that Lorenzo had 
to rest content with vague assurances of the Pontiff's 
good- will. " Leave the fortunes of Messire Giovanni 
to me," replied Innocent to Piero Alamanni's entreaties 
on his master's behalf; "for I look upon him as my own 
son and shall perhaps make his promotion public when 
you least expect it, for it is my intention to do much 
more for his interests than I shall now express." 2 

Such promises proved cold comfort to Lorenzo, ever 
intriguing to shake Innocent's fixed resolve, and ever 
dreading each post from Rome lest it might bring tidings 
of the old Pope's death, in the event of which he foresaw 
only too clearly the certain collapse of all his secret 
schemes. For it was highly probable that a new Pontiff, 
if a virtuous reformer like Pius II., would postpone for 
many years the desired consummation ; whilst a bad 
Pope of the type of his old enemy Sixtus would either 
extort an immense sum for bestowing the hat or else 
try to repudiate altogether the promises made by 

1 Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, canto xxvi., St. 48. 
2 Fabroni, Jn vita Laurentii Medicei, p. 301. 



1 6 THE MEDICI POPES 

Innocent with regard to a child of thirteen. Nor were 
Lorenzo's fears of failure unfounded, for, as we shall see, 
the papal permission arrived only a few weeks before 
his own decease ; in short, but for the frantic efforts of 
Lorenzo, Giovanni de' Medici would never have received 
the scarlet hat, and the world's history would have lacked 
the pontificate of Leo X. 

At length the day so anxiously expected by Lorenzo 
arrived, and on the evening of 8th March, 1492, the 
young Cardinal, now aged sixteen years and three 
months, left Florence with a small train to ascend to the 
ancient abbey that stands on the fertile slopes below 
Fiesole. This church, commonly known as the Badia 
Fiesolana, adorns the left ridge of the vine- and willow- 
clad valley of the Mugnone, and lies within a few hundred 
yards of the better-known convent of San Domenico 
with its cherished memories of Fra Angelico. The 
Badia itself, with its tall tower and its picturesque fagade 
of black and white marble, had long been associated with 
the name and bounty of the Medici, so that it made a 
suitable spot for the intended ceremony of investiture, 
which, probably owing to Lorenzo's ill-health, it had been 
decided to make as simple and brief as possible. Within 
the walls, therefore, of this church distinguished by the 
gifts and emblems of his ancestors, Giovanni spent a 
long night's vigil in solitary prayer, until with the dawn 
appeared on the scene Pico della Mirandola and Jacopo 
Salviati, together with Messer Simone Stanza, the public 
notary. The young Cardinal now received the Sacra- 
ment "with the greatest devotion and humility," after 
which High Mass was sung. During the performance 
of the service the Superior of the Abbey pronounced 
a blessing on the insignia of Giovanni's rank the pallium 
or mantle, the biretum or scarlet cap, and the galerus, 






CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 17 

the broad-brimmed hat with the long depending tassels 
and these were exposed before the high altar. In its 
proper place the papal brief of 1489 was read aloud, and 
attention was openly drawn to the circumstance that the 
probationary term of three years had at last expired. 
Then the Cardinal was solemnly vested with mantle, 
cap and hat of scarlet, and also with the sapphire ring 
(emblematic of the Church's celestial foundation) at the 
hands of Canon Matteo Bosso, from whose personal 
narrative this account is largely drawn. 1 The choir 
having sung the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, the youth- 
ful Cardinal stood up to pronounce an indulgence upon 
all who had attended the ceremony that day, and also 
upon all such as should repair to the altar of the Badia 
Fiesolana on succeeding anniversaries of the event. 
Returning to the refectory, the assembled company was 
now joined by Piero de' Medici, who had ridden up from 
the city on a charger of remarkable size and spirit. 2 
Mean while an immense crowd of friends and sympathisers 
was beginning to ascend the old Fiesole road in order to 
witness the ceremony, which was already finished at so 
early an hour ; but this eager throng's progress was 
arrested at the bridge over the Mugnone, where all 
persons were compelled to await the return of the two 
brothers and their chosen suite. At the Ponte di Mugnone 
therefore the cavalcade coming from Fiesole was duly 
welcomed by deputations of the leading citizens, by the 
whole body of the Florentine clergy, and by the general 
mass of the people, who with cheers and demands for a 
blessing from the newly-vested Cardinal, accompanied 
Piero and Giovanni to the church of the Anunziata, 
where the latter alighted from his mule to perform his 

^Narrative of Canon Matteo Bosso of Verona, Fabroni, Appendix V. 
2 Ibid., " Equus mirae ferocitatis et magnitudinis ". 



1 8 THE MEDICI POPES 

orisons at the Madonna's famous shrine ; thence to the 
Duomo, where more prayers were offered up ; and finally 
to the Medicean palace, where Lorenzo, sickening with 
his mortal illness, was impatiently awaiting his younger 
son's return. Here the Cardinal was presented with a 
costly service of plate, said to be valued at 20,000 florins, 
by order of the Signory. Shows and banquets, that 
occasioned much grumbling amongst the political oppo- 
nents of the Medici, were given at the public expense in 
honour of the event, which in the words of the republican 
chemist, Luca Landucci, "ennobled the city as well as 
the House of Medici". 1 

The meeting between Giovanni and his father on 
this occasion has been commemorated for us in one of 
Giorgio Vasari's frescoes in the Sala di Lorenzo it 
Magnifico in the civic palace of Florence. Although 
not of contemporary date, this composition is of ex- 
ceptional interest, because it affords us one of the very 
few extant portraits of Leo X. in his boyhood. Lorenzo 
in a long violet robe appears seated on a throne in a 
garden ; languid and suffering, he can yet regard with 
proud satisfaction the son who kneels at his feet dressed 
in the gorgeous robes of a cardinal, and offering his 
scarlet hat to the parent whose indefatigable efforts had 
obtained for him so high an honour. Beside the form 
of Lorenzo are introduced Politian, Ficino and other 
members of his court, whilst a warrior waves aloft a 
white banner emblazoned with the Magnificent's chosen 
device of three ostrich plumes, red, white and black, 
clasped by a diamond ring. Above this group towers 
the strange head of the giraffe which the Grand Turk 
presented to Lorenzo, and the like of which, so Jovius 

1 Landucci, pp. 62, 63. 




Alinari 
CARDINAL DK' MEDICI AND HIS FATHER, LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 19 

informs us, neither the Portuguese could discover in the 
Indies nor the Spaniards in the New World. 1 True it 
is that the spotted ungainly creature, which for some 
months had been the pet of the Florentine populace, 
succumbed to the sharp Tuscan climate many years 
before the event thus commemorated, yet Vasari deemed 
it not beneath his dignity as a painter to introduce this 
departed favourite of the people into the scheme of his 
historical picture. Giovanni himself appears as a tall 
stripling with light brown hair and a fair complexion, 
whilst a medallion portrait in the same hall likewise 
presents him as a youth with a pale heavy face, with 
flabby cheeks and light hazel eyes. From the peculiar 
angle at which every portrait of the future Pope has 
been drawn, it is evident that Giovanni must have 
possessed a blemish of some sort in the right eye : in 
any case it is certain that even in these early years he 
did not share the good looks of his brothers, although 
his countenance must have been singularly attractive 
from its marked expression of intelligence and humour. 
But already at sixteen Giovanni de' Medici gave only 
too evident promise of that corpulence of body which 
was destined to become in after-life so great a hin- 
drance to the health and comfort of the Pope. 

Three days later Giovanni bade farewell to his 
father and brothers, and with a well-equipped train of 
followers took the road towards Rome. Travelling by 
easy stages, which included halts at his own abbey of 
Passignano, at Siena and Viterbo, he finally arrived at 
the Flaminian Gate of the Eternal City on 22nd March. 
Here he took up his temporary abode in the Augustinian 
convent of Santa Maria del Popolo famous in after 

1 Jovius, lib. i. 



20 THE MEDICI POPES 

years as the residence of Luther during his visit to Rome 
and made his preparations for his approaching audi- 
ence of the Pope. 

Amongst the Italian cardinals then residing in Rome 
during that momentous year 1492, Giovanni de' Medici 
was likely to find some friends, notably in the powerful 
Roderigo Borgia, papal vice-chancellor, and in Ascanio 
Sforza, both of whom had helped considerably in the 
matter of his own promotion. He could scarcely expect 
much sympathy from the two nephews of the late Pope, 
Giuliano Delia Rovere and Raffaele Riario, the latter of 
whom had been Sixtus' envoy at the time of the Pazzi 
conspiracy, and had actually been present at that 
historic service in the Florentine Cathedral, whereat 
Giuliano de' Medici had been stabbed to death by in- 
numerable dagger thrusts. According to vulgar report, 
Riario had not yet fully recovered from the alarm and 
horror of that terrible scene, whilst his nervous pallid 
face bore lasting witness to that abominable act of 
mingled sacrilege and treachery. Lorenzo Cybo, 
Innocent's own son, would of course be well-disposed to 
the new-comer, whilst out of the all-too-few members 
of the College who were conspicuous for genuine piety 
or learning, the Cardinal Piccolomini, nephew of Pius 
II., and Oliviero Caraffa of Naples, were naturally in- 
clined to take an interest in the proper development of 
Giovanni's still unformed character. And though some 
members of the diminished College were disposed to 
regard their new brother with disfavour, such persons 
with easy Italian duplicity concealed their private 
feelings, and openly at least appeared ready to extend 
a warm welcome to their young Florentine colleague. 
Thus did Giovanni de' Medici, Cardinal Deacon of 
Santa Maria in Domenica, make his first appearance 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 21 

at the age of sixteen in the midst of "that sink of ini- 
quity," as Lorenzo did not scruple in private to describe 
the seat of Western Christendom ; and his first letter 
telling of his arrival and early experiences in Rome to 
his anxious father in Florence, although couched in 
simple, rather childish terms, is not without human 
interest. 

"To LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT, BEST OF FATHERS IN 

FLORENCE 

" . . . On Friday morning I was received in 
state, being accompanied from Santa Maria del Poplo as 
far as the palace, and from the palace back to the Campo 
de' Fiori by all the Cardinals, and by nearly the whole 
court, although it was raining heavily. I was warmly 
welcomed by Our Lord ; he spoke scarcely a word, but 
the following day our envoys visited him, and they had 
a most gracious audience of him. The Pope set aside 
the next day for my own reception, that is to-day. 
Thither I went, and His Holiness addressed me in as 
loving a manner as possible. He has reminded me, and 
also exhorted me to return the Cardinals' visits, and 
this I have begun to do in the case of all who have 
visited me. I shall write another day to tell you who 
they all are ; they profess themselves to be very well 
disposed towards yourself. Of all matters that passed, 
I know you are fully informed. I shall write nothing- 
more concerning myself, except that I shall ever strive 
to do you credit. De me proloqui ulteriiis, nefas. 
The news of your much improved state of health 
has given me great joy. I have no further desire 
for myself except to hear such good tidings often, 
and for this recent information I beg to thank my 



22 THE MEDICI POPES 

brother, Ser Piero. I recommend myself to you. No 
more. 

" JOHN, YOUR SON 

"AT ROME, 2$th March, 1492 " l 

It was probably on receipt of this simple missive from 
his second-born in Rome that Lorenzo indited that 
famous letter of advice, which the good Fabroni eloquently 
calls the Magnificent's swan -song (" vox cycnea"), seeing 
that it was composed within a very few days of his 
premature death at the age of forty-two ; and indeed, 
apart from the intrinsic value of this epistle, such a 
circumstance would naturally lend it a pathetic interest. 
However early in life Lorenzo's physical powers may 
have sunk beneath the fearful strain of his public and 
private cares, this letter provides the fullest proof that 
his marvellous and versatile intellect continued unim- 
paired to the last. It was indeed a swan-song of peculiar 
strength and sweetness, wherein excellent spiritual advice, 
not unworthy of a Fenelon, was so blended with worldly 
maxims that a Chesterfield might have penned, that it is 
well-nigh impossible to separate its component elements 
of an exhortation to a Churchman's strict morality and of 
a subtle suggestion to turn an ecclesiastical career to the 
private interests of the House of Medici. That a careful 
perusal of this remarkable letter is essential to the student 
of Leo X.'s career, it is needless to state; whilst it is of 
special interest to note the extent to which the young 
Cardinal, for whose future guidance this unique piece of 
admonition was composed, either followed or deviated 
from the path thus carefully pointed out beforehand for 
him by his illustrious father. 

1 Fabroni, Appendix VI. 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 23 

" LORENZO THE MAGNIFICENT IN FLORENCE TO THE 
CARDINAL DE' MEDICI IN ROME 

" . . . You and all of us who are interested in 
your welfare ought to esteem ourselves highly favoured 
by Providence, not only for the many honours and benefits 
bestowed on our House, but more particularly for having 
conferred upon us in your person the greatest dignity we 
have ever enjoyed. This favour, in itself so important, 
is rendered still more so by the circumstances by which 
it is accompanied, and especially by the consideration of 
your youth, and of our situation in the world. The first 
thing that I would therefore suggest to you is, that you 
ought to be grateful to God, and continually to recollect 
that it is not through your prudence, or your solicitude, 
that this event has taken place, but through His favour 
which you can only repay by a pious, chaste, and 
exemplary life, and that your obligations to the per- 
formance of these duties are so much the greater, as in 
your early years you have given some reasonable ex- 
pectation that your riper age may produce such fruits. 
It would be indeed highly disgraceful, and as contrary to 
your duty as to my hopes, if at a time when others 
display a greater share of reason and adopt a better 
mode of life, you should forget the precepts of your 
youth, and forsake the path in which you have hitherto 
trodden. Endeavour therefore to alleviate the burden 
of your early dignity by the regularity of your life and by 
your perseverance in those studies which are suitable to 
your profession. It gave me great satisfaction to learn 
that in the course of the past year, you had frequently of 
your own accord gone to Confession and Communion ; 
nor do I conceive that there is any better way of ob- 
taining the favour of Heaven than by habituating your- 



24 THE MEDICI POPES 

self to a performance of these and similar duties. This 
appears to me to be the most suitable and most useful 
advice, which in the first instance I can possibly give 
you. 

" I well know that as you are now to reside in Rome, 
that sink of all iniquity, che e sentina dituttiimali, the 
difficulty of conducting yourself by these admonitions 
will be increased. The influence of example is itself 
prevalent, but you will probably meet with those who 
will particularly endeavour to corrupt and incite you to 
vice, because, as you may yourself perceive, your early 
attainment to so great a dignity is not observed without 
envy ; and those who could not prevent your receiving 
that honour will secretly endeavour to diminish it, by 
inducing you to forfeit the good estimation of the 
public, thereby precipitating you into that gulf wherein 
they have themselves fallen, in which attempt the 
consideration of your youth will give them a confidence. 
To these difficulties you ought to oppose yourself with 
the greater firmness, as there is at present less virtue 
amongst your brethren of the College. I acknowledge 
indeed that several of them are good and learned men, 
whose lives are exemplary, and whom I would recom- 
mend to you as patterns for your conduct. By emulating 
them you will be so much the more known and esteemed, 
in proportion as your age and the peculiarity of your 
situation will distinguish you from your colleagues. 
Avoid, however, as you would Scylla or Charybdis the 
imputation of hypocrisy. Guard against all ostentation 
either in your conduct or your discourse. Affect not 
austerity, nor even appear too serious. This advice you 
will in time, I hope, understand and practise better than 
I can express it. 

" You are not unacquainted with the great importance 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 25 

of the character you have to sustain, for you well know 
that all the Christian world would prosper, if the Cardinals 
were what they ought to be, because in such a case there 
would always be a good Pope, upon which the tranquillity 
of Christendom so materially depends. Endeavour 
then to render yourself such, that, if all the rest resembled 
you, we might expect this universal blessing. . . . 

" You are now devoted to God and the Church, on 
which account you ought to aim at being a good ecclesi- 
astic, and to show that you prefer the honour and state 
of the Church and of the Apostolic See to every other 
consideration. Nor, while you keep this in view, will it 
be difficult for you to favour your family and your native 
place. On the contrary, you should be the link to bind 
this city of Florence closer to the Church, and our family 
with the city, and although it be impossible to foresee 
what accidents may happen, yet I doubt not but this 
may be done with equal advantage to all, observing 
that you always prefer the interests of the Church. 

" You are not only the youngest Cardinal in the College, 
but the youngest person that was ever raised to that 
rank, and you ought, therefore, to be the more vigilant and 
unassuming, not giving others occasion to wait for you 
either in the chapel, the consistory, or upon deputations. 
You will soon get a sufficient insight into the manners 
of your brethren. With those of less respectable char- 
acter converse not with too much intimacy, not merely 
on account of the circumstance in itself, but for the sake 
of public opinion. Converse on general topics with all. 
On public occasions let your equipage and dress be 
rather below than above mediocrity. A handsome 
house and a well-ordered household will be preferable 
to a great retinue and a splendid palace. Endeavour to 
live with regularity, and gradually to bring your expenses 



26 THE MEDICI POPES 

within those bounds which in a new establishment can- 
not perhaps be expected. Silks and jewels are not suit- 
able for persons in your station. 1 Your taste will be 
better shown in the acquisition of a few elegant remains of 
antiquity, or in the collecting of handsome books, and 
by your attendants being learned and well-bred rather 
than numerous. Invite others to your house oftener 
than you yourself receive invitations. Practise neither 
too frequently. Let your own food be plain, and take 
sufficient exercise, for those who wear your habit are 
soon liable, without great caution, to contract infirmities. 
The situation of a Cardinal is not less secure than ele- 
vated, on which account those who arrive at it too 
frequently become negligent, conceiving that their object 
is attained and that they can preserve it with little 
trouble. This idea is often injurious to the life and 
character of those who entertain it. Be attentive there- 
fore to your conduct and confide in others too little rather 
than too much. There is one rule which I would re- 
commend to your attention in preference to all others : 
Rise early in the morning. This will not only contribute 
to your health, but will enable you to arrange and ex- 
pedite the business of the day, and as there are various 
duties incident to your station, such as the performance 
of Divine service, studying, giving audience, etc., you 
will find the observance of this admonition productive 
of the greatest utility. Another very necessary pre- 
caution, particularly on your entrance into public life, is 
to deliberate every evening on what you have to per- 
form the following day, that you may not be unpre- 
pared for whatever may happen. With respect to your 

1 Compare with this Lord Chesterfield's advice to his son, a 
fashionable layman : " Let your lodging be equal to your means ; 
your living below your means, and your dress above your means ". 



CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH IN FLORENCE 27 

speaking in the consistory, it will be most becoming for 
you at present to refer the matters in debate to the 
judgment of His Holiness, alleging as a reason your 
own youth and inexperience. You will probably be 
desired to intercede for the favours of the Pope on 
particular occasions. Be cautious, however, that you 
trouble him not too often, for his temper leads him to be 
most liberal to those who weary him least with their 
solicitations. This you must observe, lest you should 
give him offence, remembering also at times to converse 
with him on more agreeable topics ; and if you should be 
obliged to request some kindness from him, let it be 
done with the modesty and humility which are so pleas- 
ing to his disposition. Farewell." 

Scarcely had the young Cardinal received this extra- 
ordinary proof of a father's devotion and wisdom, than 
there was brought to Rome news of the Magnificent's 
fatal illness and death at the Careggi villa on 8th April. 
And thus at the very outset of his career in the Church 
was the youthful Giovanni de' Medici deprived of a loving 
parent and a judicious guide, who perhaps whilst he was 
inditing his final letter to his absent son realised only too 
well the impending disaster of his own death. 

1 Fabroni, Appendix VII. Roscoe, Life of Lorenzo the Magnificent, 
vol. ii., pp. 146-151. 



CHAPTER II 

MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 

Italy ! O Rome ! I am going to deliver you into the hands of 
a people that will wipe you out from amongst the nations. I behold 
them descending upon you like famished lions. Hand in hand with 
War stalks Pestilence. And the mortality will be so great that the 
grave-diggers will pass through your streets calling aloud for the dead 
bodies. And then will one bear a father to the charnel-house, and 
another his son. O Rome ! again I warn you to repent. Repent, 
O Venice ! Repent, O Milan ! . . . Florence, what have you done ? 
Shall I tell you ? The cup of your iniquities is full, therefore stand 
prepared for some great vengeance (Sermons of Savonarola). 

K) MA NCR and mystery have ever brooded over 
the death-bed of the Magnificent Lorenzo from 
contemporary times to the present day. His- 
torians still disagree concerning the real facts of Savona- 
rola's undoubted visit to the dying prince at Careggi, 1 
whilst his end was accompanied by strange portents or 
coincidences in Florence itself, which at the moment 
excited the alarm alike of the learned and the vulgar. Not 
many hours before he expired, there fell from the cupola 
of the Cathedral a huge fragment of stone-work with a 
fearful crash in the dead of night, striking the pavement 
on the side towards the Medicean palace, whereat it was 
commonly reported that Lorenzo himself recognised his 

1 The reader is referred to Professor Pasquale Villari, Life and 
Times of Savonarola (book i., chap, ix., Appendix), and to Professor 
Armstrong, Lorenzo de* Medici (chap, viii.) for accounts of this famous 
incident. 

28 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 29 

coming dissolution in this mysterious accident. Men 
told each other also how a fine lion kept at the public 
expense had sickened and died, and again certain of the 
more credulous spoke of comets trailing their light over 
Careggi and of a fire-breathing monster which had been 
seen in Santa Maria Novella. There was an universal 
feeling of restlessness and expectancy in the air ; a vague 
presentiment of coming peril, as men began dimly to 
realise that the loss of their beloved Lorenzo, " the most 
glorious man that could be found," 1 must of necessity cause 
far-reaching changes not only in Florence, but through- 
out all Italy. Yet Piero Piero the Second, as he is 
sometimes called was straightway confirmed in the ex- 
alted position held by his late father, and in particular 
the French King's envoy was instructed to recognise the 
transfer of the dignity from parent to heir, so that out- 
wardly at least, the state of Florence pursued its normal 
course, as though it had been guided for generations 
under an hereditary monarchy. 

As soon as the fatal news reached Rome, it was at 
once suggested that the young Cardinal should return to 
Florence, in reality for the purpose of strengthening his 
brother's hands, but ostensibly on account of the coming 
heats, which the Florentine envoy in Rome affected to 
consider injurious to the health of young persons. 2 During 
the short space of his residence in the Eternal City it is 
evident that Giovanni de' Medici had gained golden 
opinions from the Pope, who had been favourably im- 
pressed both by the Cardinal's modesty and by his ap- 
plication to business. How far the papal satisfaction 
was shared by the Sacred College at large, it is difficult 

1 Landucci. 

2 Fabroni, Appendix V. : " Questa aria a giovani maxime non 
suol esser buona ". 



3 o THE MEDICI POPES 

to determine ; yet everyone expressed pleasure when 
Innocent announced his intention of investing this fortun- 
ate youth with legatine authority in Tuscany, so that 
these additional powers might prove of service to his elder 
brother, thus suddenly called upon to fill the difficult post 
of an uncrowned and officially unrecognised monarch. 
The legatine authority was formally bestowed on 
Giovanni de' Medici in the Sistine Chapel during the 
ceremony of the blessing of the palms on Palm Sunday, 
and the news of this honour, according to the young 
Cardinal's tutor, Stefano di Castrocaro, made a profound 
sensation at the Roman court, so that we cannot help 
reflecting on the gratification which this early mark of 
favour would have afforded to the ambitious Lorenzo, 
had he been still living. Yet Castrocaro's report also 
contains a curious postscript addressed to the Florentine 
envoy, whom he exhorts to speak seriously to the young 
Cardinal concerning his present mode of life, which differs 
much from that pursued by his colleagues, so the writer 
avers. He will not rise betimes of a morning, and will 
sit up too late at night, whereat the tutor is much con- 
cerned, since such irregular habits are likely to injure his 
general health. 1 On this vital point, therefore, upon 
which his father had laid such stress, Giovanni evidently 
did not intend to follow the excellent advice bequeathed 
him, and, as we know, his lazy habits in later life are 
severely commented on by those candid critics, the 
Venetian ambassadors in Rome. 

The Cardinal, who did not return to his native city 
till 2Oth May, had early written to his brother, bewailing 
their irreparable loss and also expressing a subject's deep 
devotion towards one who was now both an elder brother 

1 Fabroni, Appendix V. 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 31 

and a sovereign, although Giovanni's profession of un- 
questioning loyalty is tempered by a delicate hint as to 
future conduct on Piero's side : 

" JOHANNES FRANCISCUS, CARDINAL DE' MEDICI, TO HIS 
MAGNIFICENCE, PIERO DE' MEDICI 

" DEAREST BROTHER AND SOLE PILLAR OF OUR 

HOUSE! 

" What am I to write, brother mine, for there is 
nought save tears to tell of, and of a truth in dwelling 
upon the pious memory of our father, mourning seems 
better than language? And what a father he was to 
us ! That no parent was ever more indulgent to his 
sons, there needs no witness save his own conduct. No 
wonder therefore that I lament with tears and find no 
repose ; yet sometimes, dear brother, I obtain consolation 
in the thought that I have yourself to regard ever in the 
light of our lost parent. Yours it will now be to com- 
mand, and mine to obey cheerfully, for it will give me 
the highest pleasure possible to perform your orders. 
Despatch me into dangers ; command me ; for there is 
nothing wherein I would not assist your ends. Never- 
theless, I implore you, Piero mine, for my sake to con- 
trive to show yourself generous, courteous, friendly and 
open towards all, but especially towards our own followers, 
for by such qualities there is nothing one cannot achieve 
or keep. But I do not remind you of this for lack of 
confidence in your powers, but because I feel it my duty 
to mention it. Many things go to strengthen and con- 
sole me the crowds of mourners at our gates, the grief- 
stricken aspect of the city, the public lamentations in 
Florence, and all those other details which help to allevi- 
ate sorrow like ours but what solaces me more than 
aught else is my having yourself, since I trust in you to 



32 THE MEDICI POPES 

a degree I cannot easily express. . . . Fare you well ! 
As for myself, I am in such health as my grief permits. 

" From the City 

" izth April, 1492 M1 

Of his three sons, Lorenzo had long ago predicted 
that Piero would grow up headstrong (unpazzo), Giovanni 
a scholar ^tn savio\ and Giuliano good (un buono), and 
as usual the Magnificent's shrewd judgment was proved 
by time to be correct. The new ruler of Florence, 
though not wholly destitute of virtues, for he was 
generous, cultured and accounted brave, was far too hot- 
headed and fond of pleasure to carry out adequately the 
exalted but delicate duties which his father had performed 
with such marked ability and success for the last twenty 
years. Addicted to street brawling and to nocturnal 
amours, Piero was quite unfit to set an example to the 
Florentine people. His love of costly tournaments, 
wherein his undoubted skill often bore away the palm ; 
his excellence at that rough species of Florentine foot-ball, 
the calcio ; and his acknowledged prowess at pallone, the 
popular Tuscan game at ball which requires both an un- 
erring eye and brute strength of arm, served to endear 
their new ruler to the idle and rich young men ; but such 
accomplishments scarcely commended themselves to the 
graver citizens, whilst they excited the contemptuous 
dislike of the old-fashioned adherents of the Republic. 
Piero's mother had been an Orsini, and in her eldest 
son's character the feudal pride of the Roman house 
dominated the more crafty qualities derived from the 
burgher blood ; his wife, Alfonsina Orsini, came of the 
same turbulent stock, and her injudicious advice went 
far towards increasing her husband's natural arrogance. 

1 Fabroni, Appendix VII. 






MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 33 

Tactless and violent, inordinately fond of sports and im- 
patient of the routine of business, Piero could never have 
held the mastery of Florence for any great length of time, 
and on the whole it seems rather remarkable that more 
than two years were allowed to elapse before the offended 
citizens expelled with ignominy this incapable young ruler 
from their midst. As to Giovanni and his possible restrain- 
ing influence over his elder brother, we must bear in mind 
that he had not yet attained his nineteenth year, when 
the final catastrophe of 1494 overwhelmed the Medicean 
family, and even assuming that he tendered good advice, 
it does not appear probable that the rash and conceited 
Piero would have consented to listen to a younger 
brother's solemn warnings. On the other hand, had 
Giovanni possessed Piero's splendid opportunities and 
additional years of experience ; had he been educated 
by Lorenzo as his political heir rather than as a future 
Churchman, we agree with a modern critic in believing 
that the forcible expulsion of the Medici in the autumn of 
1494 might certainly have been averted. 

Of a truth, the times were too fateful to allow of medio- 
crity, far less of downright incompetence, for the year 
1492, that annus mirabilis, may be described as definitely 
marking the boundary line between the world of the 
middle ages and that of modern thought and civilisation. 
Europe was passing through a series of changes moral, 
social and political with appalling rapidity. That 
memorable year saw the expulsion of the Moslem from 
Granada, and with it the first blow to the overweening 
power of the Turk and the early rise of the vast but 
short-lived Spanish empire ; it saw too the voyage of 
Columbus into the New World, that prelude to the dis- 
coveries of Vasco da Gama and of Sebastian Cabot, 
which were destined to stultify the whole system of 

3 



34 THE MEDICI POPES 

mediaeval geography and astronomy, and to prepare the 
way for the theories of Copernicus and Galileo. To 
Italy itself that year was doomed to be climacteric, for 
the death of Lorenzo de' Medici, that typical product of 
the earlier Renaissance, broke up for ever the artificial 
system of balance of power within the peninsula, of which 
the late ruler of Florence had been the main director ; 
whilst fresh and unheard-of complications were about to 
arise on the decease of the aged Pope. Poor Piero's 
abilities were of course quite unequal to cope with this 
universal upheaval ; indeed, it is very doubtful if all the 
skill of his father could have saved Italy from the terrible 
wrath to come. 

Scarcely had Piero been three months at the head of 
the Florentine state, than news was brought of the fatal 
illness of Innocent VIII., "the constant guardian of the 
peace of Italy," the firm friend of the Medici and the 
patron of Andrea Mantegna. The Cardinal now hastened 
to Rome where a conclave of twenty-three members (for 
to such meagre proportions had the selfish attitude of the 
Cardinals reduced the Sacred College in Italy) met to 
select a successor to Innocent. The conclave was of brief 
duration, for of the two likely candidates for the tiara 
Roderigo Borgia and Ascanio Sforza the former by un- 
scrupulous methods soon induced his possible rival to waive 
his claims. Five asses laden with bags of gold were seen 
to enter the courtyard of Sforza's palace, and even this 
was but an earnest of what the Spanish Cardinal promised 
to his Milanese opponent in return for his support. 
Smaller largesse was sufficient for the other members of 
the conclave, all of whom save five are said to have re- 
ceived pay or promises from Borgia in return for their 
votes. The opposition of the pious Piccolomini and 
Caraffa, of Giovanni Colonna and of the young Medici, 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 35 

and the fierce diatribes of Cardinal Giuliano Delia Rovere 
proved of no avail; on nth August, within three weeks 
of Innocent's death, Roderigo Borgia was elected Pope 
under the name of the invincible Alexander at his own 
request. The elevation of the Borgia was in short almost 
an exact historical repetition of that disgraceful incident 
during the decadence of the Roman Empire, when the 
Pretorian Guard put up the sovereignty of the Roman 
world for sale to the highest bidder, the merchant Julius 
Didianus. The evil reputation of the new Pope and the 
open bribery he had used to accomplish his aims sent a 
thrill of horror throughout the courts of Italy. The hard- 
hearted Ferdinand of Naples, who had never been known 
to weep, even at the death of his own child, burst into 
tears of rage and fright at the receipt of this news, whilst 
the intrepid Cardinal Delia Rovere hurried from the city 
to the castle of Ostia, whence he denounced the late elec- 
tion as null and void, loudly appealing to the princes of 
Christendom to call a general council to depose this false 
Pontiff, this betrayer of the Church. Nevertheless, 
Alexander held his own despite the outcry, and at least 
in Rome itself his accession was far from being considered 
altogether a calamity. For if the new Pontiff had many 
acknowledged vices (which Italian historians and gossips 
have perhaps unduly blackened in the case of a foreign 
Pope) he certainly owned qualities which might have 
rendered him an able and even a beneficent administrator. 
With justice but without mercy the disgraceful state of 
crime and brigandage, which had prevailed in the Roman 
States under Innocent's feeble sway, was promptly sup- 
pressed, and for this and similar measures on behalf of the 
public safety the Roman people felt not a little grateful. 
" Vive diu, Bos! O Borgia, live for ever!" cried the 
admiring throngs in allusion to the heraldic bull on the 



36 THE MEDICI POPES 

Borgian shield, whilst during the coronation festivities one 
of the many laudatory inscriptions bore the fulsome and 
almost blasphemous legend 

In Alexander, Caesar is surpast, 

The former is a God, a man the last ! 1 

But however much the populace of Rome may have ap- 
plauded on this occasion, such of the cardinals as had 
opposed Alexander's election at once perceived the ad- 
visability of withdrawing quickly from the city. Amongst 
these was the Cardinal de' Medici, who has been credited, 
on the authority of Burchard, the papal master of cere- 
monies, with a remark addressed to his neighbour in the 
conclave, Lorenzo Cybo : "We are in the jaws of a 
rapacious wolf! If we neglect to flee, he will devour us." 
Whether or no Giovanni actually expressed himself thus, 
it is certain that he deemed it prudent to retire to Florence, 
where he resided until the expulsion of his House in 1494, 
inhabiting during this period a palace in the quarter of 
Sant' Antonio near the Faenza Gate. 2 

The many snares in the existing situation at home 
must have been soon perceived by the sharp eye of the 
young Cardinal, who did what he could to render the tenure 
of the city by his family less insecure. With the political 
world without ready to fall into confusion, Florence itself 
was seething with discontent and with a general desire 
for reform, a desire which found voice in the impassioned 
sermons of the prior of San Marco, Fra Girolamo 
Savonarola. His Advent and Lenten addresses, given 
within the spacious nave of the Duomo, were attracting 
vast crowds of citizens, bent equally on bewailing their 

1 " Caesare magna fuit, nunc Roma est maxima : Sextus Regnat 
Alexander; ille vir, iste deus." Creighton, vol. iv., p. 189, note 2. 

2 This quarter of the city was dismantled during the siege of Flor- 
ence in 1529, and its site is now occupied by the Citadel of the Grand- 
Dukes of Tuscany. N. Richa, Chiese Florentine. 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 37 

own sins and deploring the wickedness of those in high 
places. The recent election of Alexander VI. had caused 
the deepest indignation to the prior, who was already 
expounding his predictions of impending disaster to his 
overflowing audiences, ending each discourse with his 
three famous " Conclusions," on which all his exhortations 
were based ; namely, that the Church would be chastised 
for her present state of corruption ; that she would be 
regenerated ; and that these measures of punishment and 
reformation were close at hand. From his conclusions 
the preacher advanced to attack in scathing language the 
lives and practices of the prelates of the day, who cared 
only for the outward adornments of Holy Church for 
the ceremonies and vestments, the jewelled mitres and 
golden chalices, the notes of sweet-toned organs and the 
chaunting of choristers and who only tickled men's ears 
with pagan arguments from Plato or Aristotle, instead of 
attending to the true salvation of the soul. From the 
princes of the Church Savonarola passed to the condem- 
nation of the secular rulers of Italy, and here his burning 
indignation knew no bounds ; " these wicked princes are 
sent to chastise the sins of their subjects ; they are truly 
a sad snare for souls ; their courts and palaces are the 
refuge of all the beasts and monsters of the earth, for they 
give shelter to ribalds and malefactors ". From princes, 
Savonarola proceeded to " flattering philosophers and 
poets, who by force of a thousand lies and fables trace 
the genealogy of these evil princes back to the gods ". 
And in connection with this last piece of fulmination, we 
can imagine with what degree of disgust the prior of St. 
Mark's must have heard of the canonry in the Duomo 
conferred by the Cardinal de' Medici upon his old tutor, 
the humanist and reputed pagan, Politian. 

Names were invariably omitted by the preacher, yet 



3 8 THE MEDICI POPES 

for this general indictment of secular and ecclesiastical 
corruption in Italy, it was no difficult matter for the vast 
congregation, much of it already hostile to the Medicean 
rule, to apply the prior's statements and warnings directly 
to the sins of the prince and prelate in their midst : the 
supposed tyranny of Piero and the worldliness of the 
Cardinal. Nevertheless, Piero was unable or unwilling 
to take any decided step for the arrest or silencing of 
this uncompromising monkish agitator. For a short 
time, it is true, during the summer of 1493, the nominal 
ruler of Florence, probably at the suggestion and cer- 
tainly with the help of his younger brother, had contrived 
by means of the superiors of the Dominican Order in 
Rome to obtain Savonarola's peaceful transference to 
Bologna ; yet by an unaccountable act of folly Piero had 
later allowed the all-powerful preacher to return to 
Florence, thereby proving beyond the shadow of a doubt 
that the great Lorenzo's heir was indeed a positive fool, 
wholly unable to read aright the manifest signs of his 
times. 

The evil effects of Lorenzo's loss and of Alexander's 
election soon became apparent, for the three states of 
Florence, Milan and Naples were already falling into 
political entanglements, which the constant intrigues of 
three ambitious women Alfonsina Orsini in Florence, 
Beatrice d'Este in Milan and the Duchess Isabella at 
Pavia made yet more complicated. Almost immedi- 
ately after his father's death, Piero had begun to exhibit 
a certain degree of coolness towards the usurper of 
Milan (whom Lorenzo had always done his best to con- 
ciliate) and to coquet politically with Ludovico Sforza's 
deadly enemy, King Ferdinand of Naples ; an attitude 
which eventually drove the exasperated and nervous 
Duke of Milan to take a step fraught with the utmost 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 39 

importance for the future of Italy. Dreading a combina- 
tion of the Florentine state with his arch-enemy, Ferdin- 
and of Naples, the Sforza now determined to save 
himself from impending ruin by no less a measure than 
the total banishment of the dynasty of Aragon from 
Naples, by inciting the young Charles VIII. of France 
to take forcible possession of that kingdom, which he 
claimed as heir of the former monarchs of the House of 
Anjou. The devil, says the proverb, is at all times 
easier to raise than to lay ; and in this instance Ludovico 
Sforza of Milan has gained an unenviable notoriety as the 
original promoter of that detestable policy of foreign in- 
vasion, from the evil effects of which Italy has been 
suffering almost until our own days. But at this period 
the aims of every government and ruler throughout 
Italy were mean, selfish and provincial to a degree which 
we find it hard at this distance of time to realise ; the 
very notion of Italian patriotism, of Italian unity, was 
practically non-existent in the year 1492. Even the 
shrewd Lorenzo had always regarded his native land as 
a mere conglomerate mass of hostile and disunited states, 
which it required a master -hand like his own to manipu- 
late, so as to preserve peace throughout the whole 
peninsula. Nevertheless, it was reserved for a Floren- 
tine thinker, an obscure and needy citizen, who was 
twenty-three years of age at Lorenzo's death, to propound 
to an unheeding Italy the tenets of true patriotism and 
their surest means of attainment. 1 

After much hesitation and in opposition to public 
opinion in France itself, the young French monarch 
finally accepted the Sforza's selfish invitation, and at last 
the vast army of Charles VIII., 60,000 men strong and 
supported by the finest artillery of that age, crossed the 

1 Niccol6 Machiavelli in // Principe, Gli Discorsi, etc. 



40 THE MEDICI POPES 

snowy barrier of the protecting Alps, which, in the words 
of Michelet, were now levelled henceforth and for ever- 
more. After a long period spent partly in feasting and 
dallying at Asti and Turin, and partly in recovering from 
the ill-effects of his excesses at these entertainments, 
Charles was again able to proceed, and his splendid army 
with its fine French cavalry, its sturdy German Lands- 
knechts, its Swiss mountaineers and its Scottish archers, 
once more continued on its course towards Naples, where 
the aged Ferdinand was making feverish but belated 
efforts in defence of his coveted kingdom. The king's 
son, the Duke of Calabria, was meanwhile preparing to 
oppose the French advance by way of the Adriatic 
coast-line, but it lay with Piero de' Medici to decide 
whether or no the invaders were to be allowed to pass 
unmolested through Tuscan territory on the western 
side of the Apennines. Intense was the excitement pre- 
vailing in Florence at the news of Charles' progress, and 
the general concern was further increased, when it be- 
came known that Piero, anxious to imitate his father's 
diplomatic methods, had at his own initiative set out for 
the French camp to treat in person with the king. Both 
Medicean and popular parties awaited in tense anxiety 
the result of this mission, and loud were the execrations 
of the latter party and dire the dismay of the Palleschi, 
the adherents of the Medici, when authentic details of 
Piero's bungling diplomacy were brought to the city. 
For the foolish and incompetent prince " II Gran Lom- 
bardo," as he was styled by the French court for want 
of a recognised official title had actually ceded the 
Tuscan fortresses of Sarzana and Sarzanella, the keys 
of the road to Rome and Naples, to the King of France. 
Yet so blind was Piero to the inglorious nature of his 
late pact with Charles, that he ventured to return to the 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 41 

city on 8th November, and throwing open the doors of 
his palace gave cakes and wine to a number of the popu- 
lace, whom he assured with a cheerful countenance that 
now both he himself and the state of Florence were safe 
from danger owing to his judicious treaty with the in- 
vincible invader of Italy. But Piero's self-satisfaction, as- 
suming it to have been genuine, was not of long duration, 
for on the following day he attempted to force his way 
into the palace of the Signory in order to explain his 
late unpopular action, with the result that he was ig- 
nominiously forced to return to his house amidst the 
ringing of alarm bells and shouts of contemptuous hatred. 
Terrified at the hostile aspect of the city, Piero after a 
short period of wavering finally decided upon flight, 
thereby committing the last of the many follies which 
had characterised his brief rule of Florence ; indeed, 
this final action proved Lorenzo's heir to be not only in- 
capable but also cowardly. Together with his youngest 
brother, Giuliano, then sixteen years old, the self-exiled 
prince hurried to the Porta San Gallo, where horses 
were waiting in readiness to carry them over the passes 
of the Apennines to Bologna. Even his voluntary 
choice of an objective in his flight proves Piero's hopeless 
incompetence, for his natural bourne under the circum- 
stances should have been the camp of the French King, 
with whom he had so recently made a treaty in the 
name of the state he was supposed to represent. As 
it so fell, the unlucky prince richly deserved the taunts, 
however ungenerous, of Giovanni Bentivoglio, tyrant of 
Bologna, who did not hesitate to twit the head of the 
once-powerful Medicean House with his late surrender 
of Florence practically without a protest, certainly with- 
out a struggle. 

During this acute crisis produced by threats of ex- 



42 THE MEDICI POPES 

ternal invasion and by dissensions within the city, what 
had been the conduct of the Cardinal ? Shortly before 
the approach of Charles towards Sarzana, Giovanni de' 
Medici had, it seems, been summoned specially to Rome 
by the Pope. Not daring to disobey Alexander's ex- 
plicit message, although the Pontiff's request was gener- 
ally interpreted as a device to obtain Giovanni's person 
as a hostage for Piero's future obedience to the Holy See, 
the Cardinal set out for Rome. He had proceeded as 
far as his own abbey of Passignano, when he was hastily 
informed of Piero's mission to the French King, where- 
upon he quickly returned to Florence, now filled with 
tumult and with the mass of its citizens avowedly hostile 
to the House of Medici. On that memorable Sunday 
of Qth November, 1494, the Cardinal, in order to assist 
his brother's efforts to force an entrance into the palace 
of the Signory, issued from his house at Sant' Antonio 
clad in his robes and attended by a number of armed 
servants. Riding by way of the narrow Corso and 
shouting Palle ! Palle f the young Churchman contrived 
to reach the chapel of Or San Michele despite the 
threatening attitude of the mob and the repeated cries 
of Popolo e Liberfa ! Muoiano i tiranni ! with which 
the air resounded. Although the Cardinal kept bitterly 
reproaching the Florentine crowd for its ingratitude to 
his House, the red robe was for a while respected ; but 
in front of Or San Michele, Giovanni was compelled to 
retire at the risk of his life. An attempt to rouse the 
poor quarter round San Gallo, hitherto notable as a 
stronghold of the Palleschi, ended in like failure. The 
Cardinal now made his way to the convent of San Marco, 
whereupon the monks ungraciously refused to unbar 
their doors to a prince of the Church, the son of their 
former benefactor, Lorenzo de' Medici. Thus repulsed 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 43 

at San Marco, Giovanni retired to his own house, where, 
later, information was sent to him of Piero's unmanly 
flight. Angry crowds were now gathering round the 
doors of the palace in Sant' Antonio, where Luca 
Landucci, no friend to the Medici, declared that he saw 
the Cardinal's form through the open casement, kneeling 
in prayer with clasped hands, at which, remarks the good 
Landucci, " I felt very sorry for him, for I reckoned him 
to be a worthy young man with excellent intentions". 1 
The beleaguered Cardinal now hastily exchanged his 
rich vestments for the coarse brown habit of a Franciscan 
friar, and quitting his palace unnoticed in this garb and 
mingling with the crowd bent on his own destruction he 
escaped under cover of the shades of evening to the 
Porta San Gallo, whence, following in the tracks of his 
brothers across the Apennines, he arrived a few hours 
after them at the gates of Bologna. 

On hearing of the departure of the three Medici, the 
Florentine populace grew fiercer and more uproarious, 
so that the proposal to sack the deserted palaces of their 
late rulers was greeted with shouts of approval. The 
Casino of San Marco, with its adjacent gardens and 
academy provided by the Magnificent for the public study 
of sculpture, was speedily denuded of its treasures, the 
ignorant rabble hacking to bits the masterpieces of art, 
which were too bulky for removal. The Cardinal's re- 
sidence at Sant' Antonio was next destroyed, and its 
valuable collections all stolen or scattered ; so violent 
was the behaviour of the mob here that the very fabric 
of the house was threatened with collapse, and the 
Cardinal's servants were scarcely permitted to escape 
with their lives. The great palace in Via Larga was 

1 Landucci, p. 75. 



44 THE MEDICI POPES 

however protected by express order of the Signory, not 
out of any motive of compassion for its luckless owner, 
but because it had been proposed to lodge the King of 
France under its roof on his expected arrival. Quantities 
of works of art and pieces of plate were, however, pilfered, 
and whatsoever the Florentines spared the retinue of 
Charles removed a little later, so that it is no exaggeration 
to say that all the Medicean palaces were sacked and their 
possessors absolutely despoiled of all their private wealth. 
Nor was this all, for the Signory, after decreeing the con- 
fiscation of their goods, next set a price upon the heads 
of the two elder brothers, now declared outlaws, pro- 
mising by open proclamation 2000 ducats to the slayer 
of Piero and half that sum to the lucky assassin of the 
Cardinal. 1 

But before pursuing further the fortunes of the exiled 
Cardinal, it is impossible to avoid making reference, 
although such may naturally be accounted a digression, 
to the coming " Restorer and Protector of the liberties 
of Florence," as the name of Charles of France was 
enrolled officially in the archives of the revived Republic. 
Exactly a week from the violent expulsion of the Medici, 
late in the evening of I7th November, appeared Charles 
VIII. as a conqueror with couched lance at the open 
gate of San Frediano. Mounted on a magnificent 
charger and clad in black velvet with flowing mantle 
of cloth-of-gold, surrounded by the flower of French 
chivalry, Charles made an imposing figure at his entry 
into Florence. But on his alighting at the portals of the 
cathedral and thus giving a nearer view of his person to 
the applauding citizens, general surprise and disappoint- 

1 Landucci, p. 75 : "E in questo tempo mandorono un bando 
in piazza, che chi amazzava Piero de' Medici guadagniassi 2000 
ducati, e chi amazzava el Cardinale n' avesse 1000 ". 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 45 

ment were expressed at the deformed little monster of a 
man with the inane face, the staring expressionless eyes, 
the long nose, the tiny trunk and the spindling legs ending 
in feet so enormous that vulgar tradition credited their 
owner with the possession of a sixth toe. " He was in- 
deed a mannikin ! " l sighs the aggrieved Landucci, who 
however adds that all the Florentine women were in 
love with him, old and young, small and great. But 
perhaps it might be thought that Nature, who in a 
malignant sportive mood had bestowed so mean a pre- 
sence upon a great monarch, had presented him by way 
of compensation with surpassing gifts of intellect. The 
King's mind, however, was fully as mis-shapen as his 
diminutive body, for according to all contemporary 
chroniclers, Charles of France was weak, vacillating, 
timid, cunning and appallingly ignorant ; indeed, his sole 
distinguishing quality, which was not a vice, seems to 
have been a vague but insatiable craving for military 
glory. His lust and gluttony were patent to all, whilst 
his vaunted virtues were imperceptible ; he had the brain 
of an idiot and the tastes of a satyr. Such was the 
sovereign whom Ludovico Sforza had called upon to 
cross the Alps and act as the arbiter of the fortunes of 
Italy ; such was the creature whom Savonarola now pre- 
sented to the people of Florence as the scourge of tyrants 
and the champion of popular rights, as God's own des- 
tined instrument to chastise and purge His Church. 

It was not long before the three brothers were joined 
at Bologna by another fugitive member of their House, 
Giulio, the bastard son of Giuliano the Elder, who had 
managed to escape from Pisa, where he was then study- 
ing. Nearly of an age with his cousin Giuliano the 

1 Landucci, p. 80 : " In vero era molto piccolo uomo ! " 



46 THE MEDICI POPES 

Younger, Giulio had originally been brought up as a 
soldier by his uncle Lorenzo, who had acknowledged 
him for a nephew and had contrived to get him enrolled 
one of the Knights of Rhodes ; but later, on the boy's 
expressing a desire for an ecclesiastical career, he had 
been nominated prior of Capua and despatched, like his 
cousin Giovanni before him, to study canon law at Pisa. 
As a recognised bastard of a great house, Giulio took an 
unbounded pride in his family, and manifested an intense 
desire to serve it in every way, so that early in life he 
began to attach himself to his cousin Giovanni, following 
and waiting on the latter alike in good and evil fortune 
till the day of his death. The three brothers quickly 
dispersed to different parts of Italy ; Piero following the 
camps, Giuliano chiefly remaining at the courts of Urbino 
and Mantua, where his accomplishments no less than his 
buoyant good nature made him a special favourite with 
the reigning families of Gonzaga and Montefeltre ; whilst 
the Cardinal, always accompanied by the faithful Giulio, 
spent much of his time in Rome, although the Eternal 
City under the rule of the Borgias was scarcely reckoned 
either a safe or a respectable residence for a young prince 
of the Church. During the years succeeding the events 
of November, 1494, no fewer than five attempts were 
made by the expelled Medici to regain the city of Flor- 
ence with the assistance of their political friends, but all 
failed miserably, partly owing to the unforeseen chances 
of an adverse fate, but largely on account of Piero's un- 
rivalled incapacity. It is wholly beyond the scope ofjl 
this work to follow in detail the course of these fruitless 
efforts or their accompanying intrigues, except to state 
that ere long both Giovanni and Giuliano relinquished 
all chance of success for the time being. At length, 
wearied out with the hopeless task of attempting to re- 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 47 

cover that which seemed for the nonce irretrievably lost, 
and living in constant dread of Alexander's suspected 
enmity, the young Cardinal applied to the Pope for per- 
mission to leave Italy in order to travel in foreign lands. 
As Giovanni de' Medici was not rich nor his family any 
longer of importance in Italian politics, so that he pos- 
sessed little value as a hostage, the Pontiff consented to 
this request, whereupon the future Leo X. and the future 
Clement VII., with ten chosen friends of congenial habits 
and ideas, departed from Rome on their intended ex- 
pedition. Having reached Venice, the Cardinal laid 
aside the signs of his rank, so that the whole party might 
appear dressed alike, and in this manner the twelve 
travellers crossed the Alps to seek consolation for the 
fallen fortunes of the House of Medici in the novel ex- 
citement of beholding strange nations and of visiting the 
famous towns of Northern Europe. 

Their first country to sojourn in was Bavaria, where 
they expressed their delight at the beautiful buildings 
of Nuremberg and Ratisbon, nor was their pleasure 
lessened by the terms of perfect equality on which all 
existed. For every night it was customary amongst 
them to choose by lot a leader for the ensuing day, 
whose commands all were obliged to obey without 
question. And in thus manfully setting at defiance 
the blows of ill-fortune, the Medici was wont to declare 
in after years that neither before nor since had he en- 
joyed so much true freedom of thought and action. At 
Ulm, however, the identity of this distinguished traveller 
became recognised, on which the Emperor Maximilian, 
who had always kept the warmest regard for the memory 
of the Magnificent Lorenzo, at once summoned his old 
friend's son to his presence. On hearing from Giovanni's 
own lips the reason of this pilgrimage, Maximilian's 



48 THE MEDICI POPES 

admiration was raised, and after prophesying a brighter 
future for the Medici, he immediately congratulated his 
visitor upon his recent decision thus to turn his evil fate 
to such good account ; far better it was, said he, for a 
man, however highly placed, to enlarge his mind by the 
study of men and manners abroad, than to sulk in luxuri- 
ous idleness at home. 1 

Wending their way up the rich valley of the Rhine 
with its thriving towns, this band of Italian exiles reached 
Brussels, where they were hospitably entertained by 
Don Philip, the Emperor's son, on the strength of his 
father's warm recommendation. From Brussels Giovanni 
and his companions proceeded westward till they found 
themselves at Terouenne near the Flemish coast, at 
which point a difference of opinion arose as to the advis- 
ability of crossing the sea so as to visit England, a pro- 
ject on which the future Leo X. it seems had set his 
heart. It would indeed have been interesting to be able 
to record a visit of the Medici to our island, and still 
more so to learn his impressions of London and its in- 
habitants, but unfortunately the Cardinal's plan was 
over-ruled by the majority of the party, who positively 
refused to embark. Their course was accordingly 
directed into France, in which country a curious mis- 
adventure befel the whole party, for at Rouen the 
magistrates of that town made them all prisoners in 
spite of Giovanni's protestations and open disclosure of 
his rank ; nor was it until letters from King Louis had 
been received that the innocent wanderers were released 
by the obstinate Frenchmen, whom Giovio consequently 
describes as hasty and suspicious as a nation. On be- 
ing at last set at liberty, the Cardinal and his frien< 

1 Jovius, lib. i. 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 49 

were allowed to travel unmolested across France, until 
they reached Marseilles, where they chartered a ship for 
their conveyance to Italy, for apparently the aspect of 
the sunny Mediterranean did not appear so alarming to 
the less adventurous members of the party as the grey 
waters of the English Channel. But scarcely had they 
embarked than a succession of inopportune squalls com- 
pelled the captain to keep under lee of the Genoese 
coast, until worn and weakened by the discomforts of 
their protracted voyage, by an unanimous vote they 
decided to land at Savona. Here, in the native town 
of his own humble ancestors, they unexpectedly found 
Cardinal Giuliano Delia Rovere, an exile from Alexander's 
wrath, who gave a warm welcome to Giovanni and 
Giulio de' Medici, and at this point Leo's first biographer 
mentions with proud satisfaction a certain historic meal, 
whereat there sat down to table the three famous 
Churchmen, each of them at that moment in evil plight, 
but each destined later to wear the tiara successively 
as Julius II., Leo X. and Clement VII. Bidding fare- 
well to Delia Rovere, Giovanni de' Medici continued 
his journey to Genoa, where he remained for some time 
as the guest of his sister Maddalena, the wife of the 
peace-loving Francesco Cybo. 1 

With the opening of the new century the political 
situation in Italy underwent a complete transformation. 
In the summer of 1503, Alexander expired suddenly at 
the Vatican, and, as Caesar Borgia lay helpless on a 
sick-bed at this critical moment, the conclave was en- 
abled to hold its proceedings without fear of any disturb- 
ing influence from that dreaded quarter. On this occasion 
the most exemplary member of the Sacred College was 

1 Jovius, lib. ii. 



50 THE MEDICI POPES 

elected to the vacant throne in the person of Francesco 
Piccolomini, who out of compliment to his famous uncle 1 
assumed the title of Pius III. But the new Pontiff was 
already fast sinking to the grave at the very time of the 
conclave a circumstance that perhaps in some degree 
prompted the choice of the cardinals. To the disappoint- 
ment of all Italy, but scarcely to the surprise of the 
Roman court, the new Pope only survived his elevation 
twenty -six days, dying on i8th October ''What boots 
it to be pious, when an evil Alexander is permitted to 
reign for years, and a Pius for scarce a month ? " de- 
manded an indignant epigrammatist, when the fatal in- 
telligence was spread abroad. Once more the conclave 
assembled, and as on this occasion Giuliano Delia 
Rovere, by means of a secret compact with the now 
partially recovered Caesar Borgia, obtained the votes 
of the Spanish cardinals, he was finally chosen Pope on 
ist November by the name of Julius II. Nor did 
this fateful year draw to its close without producing 
one more event of importance to the House of Medici, 
for on 28th December, during the rout of the French by 
the Spaniards under the celebrated "Gran Capitan," 
Gonsalvo da Cordova, poor Piero de' Medici, who as 
usual was serving with the losing army, terminated his 
useless existence. For on trying to cross the swolle 
stream of the Garigliano after the battle, the vessel bear- 
ing Piero and his cousin Paolo Orsini, together with 
number of refugees and four pieces of artillery, foundere< 
and sank in deep water. Piero's body, recovered man] 
days later in the shallows near the river's mouth, w; 
conveyed to the great Benedictine abbey of Monte 
Cassino hard by, of which his brother the Cardinal 

Sylvius Piccolomini of Siena, Pope Pius II. 



MISFORTUNE AND EXILE 51 

titular abbot, and here it was buried with due display of 
military honours. Yet nearly fifty years were allowed 
to elapse before a monument was erected to the deceased 
prince, whose memory was perhaps not held very dear 
by his surviving brothers. In 1552, however, the first 
rrand-Duke of Tuscany caused a splendid tomb from 
the chisel of Francesco Sangallo 1 to be raised in the abbey 
church, although it is significant to note that in its ac- 
companying epitaph no mention is made of the unhappy 
urince's career save to state the cause of his early death, 
and to tell the chance visitor that he was the son of the 
Magnificent Lorenzo, the brother of Leo X., and the 
cousin-german of Clement VII. 

By his wife, Alfonsina Orsini, Piero de' Medici left 
two children : a daughter Clarice, who was later married 
to the Florentine merchant-prince, Filipppo Strozzi ; and 
son and heir, Lorenzo, afterwards Duke of Urbino, 
who had been born two years prior to his father's head- 
long flight from his capital in 1494. It is a striking but 
hardly an inexplicable circumstance that with the pre- 
mature end of Piero il Pazzo, the fortunes of the depressed 
House of Medici began steadily to improve, as the old 
Emperor Maximilian had predicted to the despondent 
Cardinal during his visit to Germany. 

1 Vasari, Life of Fr. Sangallo. 



CHAPTER III 

RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 

Julius Secundus loquitur. " I raised the revenue. I invented new 
offices and sold them. I invented a way to sell bishoprics without 
simony. ... I recoined the currency and made a great sum that 
way. Then I annexed Bologna to the Holy See. I beat the 
Venetians. I jockeyed the Duke of Ferrara. I defeated the schis- 
matical Council by a sham Council of my own. I drove the French 
out of Italy, and I would have driven out the Spaniards too, if the 
Fates had not brought me to death. I have set all the princes of 
Europe by the ears. I have torn up treaties, and kept large armies 
in the field. I have covered Rome with palaces, and I have left 
five million ducats in the treasury behind me. ... I have done it 
all myself too. I owe nothing to my birth, for I don't know who 
my father was ; nothing to learning, for I have none ; nothing to 
youth, for I was old when I began ; nothing to popularity, for I was 
hated all round " (Julius Secundus Exclusus). 

CARDINAL Giovanni de' Medici had tasted 
enough of the bitter of adversity to appre- 
ciate his improved position due to the death 
of Alexander VI. and the election of Julius II. For 
the last nine years he had experienced what was 
practically double exile, being forcibly kept out of his 
native Florence and at the same time rendered chary 
of settling permanently in Rome, which was in reality 
also his rightful abode. Although as a nephew of 
Sixtus IV. the new Pope looked with no favourable 
eye upon the political pretensions of the House of 
Medici, yet Julius was personally at least well-disposed 
towards the young Cardinal. In any case, through th< 
untimely, or timely, death of Piero, Giovanni de' Medici 

52 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 53 

lad become a personage of increased consequence in 
the world of Italian politics. Piero's only son, Lorenzo, 
was but eleven years old when his parent was drowned 
n the Garigliano, so that Giovanni now came to be 
regarded as the real head of his family, and it was to 
the Cardinal that the Medicean party, crushed but still 
capable of future action, now turned with renewed hopes 
of success. Living with Giovanni in his Roman palace 
later known as the Palazzo Madama), not far from the 
venerable Pantheon in the heart of the mediaeval city, 
were the cunning Bernardo Dovizi and the ever -faithful 
riulio ; whilst often residing with his elder brother in 
Rome was Giuliano de' Medici, one of the most esteemed 
Drinces and most charming personalities of the Italian 
Renaissance, " pre-eminent above all other men," quaintly 
Dbserves Giovio, "by reason of the perfect harmony of 
virtues abiding in his nature and conduct". 1 This im- 
>roved position Giovanni was astute enough to strengthen 
yet further by trying to obtain the good graces of the 
youthful Cardinal Galeotto Franciotto, the Pope's favourite 
tephew and papal vice-chancellor. Although Giovio 
tates explicitly that this newly formed intimacy between 
he Medici and Franciotto had its origin in the diplomatic 
aims of the former rather than in any mutual inclination 
the two young men, yet it is certain that ere long 
Griovanni grew deeply attached to Galeotto, and that 
he sorrow expressed by him at the papal nephew's 
udden and premature death was both genuine and 
ibiding, for on the testimony of Tommaso Inghirami, 
learn that in after years, when the Cardinal de' 
Vtedici had been transformed into the Pontiff Leo X., 
could not endure to hear Galeotto 's name men- 

1 Jovius, lib. i. 



54 THE MEDICI POPES 

tioned in his presence, and if anyone were so care- 
less as to allude to his passed friend, the Pope would 
invariably turn aside his face to hide the tears he was 
unable to repress. And in the Medici's case this instance 
of real affection is of peculiar interest, for with the excep- 
tion of his brother Giuliano, there exists no record of 
Leo showing any strong affection towards any one of 
his contemporaries save this nephew of Julius II. 

With the renewal of public confidence in Rome, 
Giovanni prepared to enjoy the pleasant existence of a 
prince of the Church, whose personal tastes, derived from 
his illustrious father, had early marked him out as a 
leading patron of the literature and fine arts of his day, 
so that the hospitable Palazzo Medici soon became known 
as a prominent literary and artistic centre. Painters, 
sculptors, jewellers, poets and scholars all found a hearty 
welcome in the saloons of the Medici, whose natural 
delight in music also induced him to encourage singers 
and players of instruments, who were engaged to perform 
at the many sumptuous banquets that he gave, notwith- 
standing the dying Lorenzo's earnest counsel to be 
moderate in all things. For in spite of numerous bene- 
fices the Cardinal was not nearly so opulent as many of 
the colleagues with whom he endeavoured to vie, nor 
was his extravagant style of living compensated for by 
any aptitude for household management on his part. 
Even the prudent Giulio's economy was unable to pre- 
vent his cousin from running continually into debt, 
inconvenience which seemed however to sit very lightly 
on the easy-going Cardinal, although oftentimes the well- 
spread table stood depleted of its choicest silver vases 
and goblets, owing to the fact that the plate had been 
deposited temporarily with the Roman butchers and fish- 
mongers for lack of ready money. As the Cardin; 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 55 

preferred to risk his credit rather than to retrench, debts 
rapidly accumulated, yet he only declared cheerfully that 
men of mark like himself were specially provided for by 
Heaven, so that they need never lack long for all that 
was necessary, if only they kept a lively faith in their 
predestined good fortune. 1 When the daily audiences 
were finished, and the last scholar with his poem in 
manuscript or goldsmith with some graceful design for a 
ring or chalice had been dismissed, the Cardinal usually 
rode out into the Campagna to amuse himself with hawk- 
ing or hunting, for he had inherited his father's love of 
outdoor sport. This period of daily exercise in the fresh 
air was of peculiar value in helping to reduce the already 
bulky frame, which threatened its owner with excessive 
stoutness at no distant date, unless he made abundant 
use of the remedies which Lorenzo had suggested long 
ago in his famous letter. But this pleasant existence, 
wherein business, sport and culture were so agreeably 
blended, this daily life of entertaining and of being enter- 
tained, of encouraging obsequious scholars who hung 
intent on his shrewd criticisms, and of examining or buy- 
ing works of art, could not long continue undisturbed 
under such a Pontiff as the vigorous old man who had 
lately ascended the throne of St. Peter. 

Julius II. undoubtedly shone as a great states- 
man, but he was in reality a greater warrior, for much 
as he busied himself in the finer arts of diplomacy,* 
in his heart he preferred the rough life of the camp to the 
deliberations of the council-chamber. At the date of 
his election all Italy was at peace, with the exception of 
the endless war between Florence and her revolted 
colony of Pisa. Yet this state of quiescence was but the 

1 Jovius, lib. ii. 



5 6 THE MEDICI POPES 

ominous lull before the approaching storm, for the ponti- 
ficate of Julius was fated to be remembered as the most 
turbulent and bloody in the annals of the Papacy, a cir- 
.' cumstance for which the ambitious policy of Julius him- 
self was mainly responsible. At his accession the French 
were firmly established in the Milanese ; the Spaniards 
were masters of Naples ; Venice was busily engaged in 
annexing* one by one the various towns of the Romagna, 
which had recently formed part of Caesar Borgia's 
short-lived duchy, whilst she was also strengthening her 
position along the seaboard of the Adriatic. Such a 
situation was bound to lead to mischief in the near future, 
and although the presence of two sets of invaders con- 
stituted at once a menace and a disgrace to Italy as a 
whole, yet it was the growing predominance of Venice 
amongst the Italian states that most of all excited the 
alarm of Julius, whose aim was now directed to prevent 
the Venetian Republic from becoming the dictator of 
Italy, in reality her only possible means of salvation from 
the designs of these foreigners. In the first place to 
humble and cripple Venice, and in so doing to extend 
the boundaries of the Holy See ; then to rouse the whole 
Italian nation and by one united effort to free Italian 
soil from the polluting presence of the " Barbarians" j 1 - 
such was the ardent desire of Julius, which like many 
another grandiose conception was entirely local and self- 
ish in its main object, and patriotic only in a secondary 
sense. 

In the military expeditions and deep-laid schemes of 

1 The contemptuous epithet of " Barbarian " is fiercely repudiated 
by the author of thefutius Exclusus, who lays stress on the mongrel 
pedigree of the Italian people, " who are but a conglomerate of all the 
barbarous nations in the world, a mere heap of dirt, yet they are 
absurd enough to call everyone not born in Italy a barbarian ! " 




JULIUS II, CARDINAL I)E' MEDICI AND OTHERS 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 57 

this Pope, the Cardinal de' Medici had for the first time 
an opportunity to display his inherent diplomatic ability 
both in humouring the irascible Julius and in silently 
building up the collapsed fortunes of his own House. 
That the utmost caution and dissimulation had always 
to be practised by the young Cardinal will appear obvious 
at once to those who care to study the characters of the 
two men, for it would be well-nigh impossible to name 
<two great historical types more diverse from every point 
of view than the reigning Pontiff and the future Leo X. 
Thus the Medici was a young man barely thirty 
years of age, just beginning to creep warily into that 
treacherous sea of Italian statecraft ; Julius, on the other 
hand, had many years behind him of varied political ex- 
perience, whilst he was considered venerable in having 
passed his sixtieth year in an age wherein medical at- 
tentions often proved more disastrous than disease itself. 
V Julius was violent, arrogant and ill-tempered; the 
Cardinal was always calm, suave and credited with a 
remarkable mildness of disposition, upon which all con- 
temporary writers emphatically dwell. The Pope, sprung 
from a plebeian stock, the grandson of a Genoese fisher- 
man, with a peasant's coarseness and garrulity ; Medici, 
a cultured Florentine scholar with a Roman princess for 
his mother, ever scrupulously courteous even under severe 
provocation and with a complete mastery over that un- 
ruly member, the tongue. The Pope was fond of an 
active military life, loving camps and sieges, not refusing 
to partake of the coarse fare of his soldiers nor even 
objecting to use their oaths under stress of excitement ; 
whilst the fastidious Cardinal had a perfect horror of 
martial savagery and bloodshed, and undoubtedly held 
opinions, which were none the less strong because they 
had to be kept secret, concerning the propriety of a Roman 



58 THE MEDICI POPES 

Pontiff taking the field in person like a general. Julius, 
, although he gave commissions to Raphael and Michel- 
angelo, had no real sympathy with art, which he regarded 
solely as an useful means of recording his own prowess ; 
he was notoriously unlearned, and at times did not hesi- 
tate to express his contempt for the classical literature 
wherewith his own court was so deeply engrossed : " Put 
a sword in my hand, not a book, for I am no schoolman ! " 
had replied the plain-spoken Pontiff to Michelangelo, 
when the sculptor asked him to suggest a fit emblem for 
the Pope's bronze statue to be erected in Bologna. Of 
the Medici's true understanding of art and letters, it is 
needless to speak here. In outward appearance, as in 
age, the two Churchmen offered the strongest contrast ; 
Julius spare, bearded he was the first Pontiff to wear 
hair on his chin alert in defiance of his years ; the 
Cardinal, corpulent despite his youth, slow in his move- 
ments and constantly requiring spectacles or spy -glass 
to aid his feeble vision. Nevertheless, although the two 
men differed in appearance, aims, ideas, age, learning, 
manners and morals, it was now the manifest duty of 
the younger man to pay court to the reigning Pope, in 
order to obtain the full amount of sympathy and con- 
fidence necessary for the intended restoration of the 
Medici to Florence, which at this period of his career 
formed without doubt the overwhelming desire of the 
future Leo X. 

In the height of the summer of 1507, Cardinal de' 
Medici received a foretaste of Julius' methods of cam- 
paigning, when he accompanied his master on the expedi- 
,,. tion to reduce Perugia and Bologna, both cities being 
nominally fiefs of the Church. Twenty-four cardinals in 
all swelled the papal train, yet only 500 men-at-arms 
were engaged for their protection, so that it speaks elo- 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 59 

quently for the intense terror which the name of Julius 
had already inspired throughout Italy, that on the Pope 
reaching Orvieto, Gian-Paolo Baglioni, tyrant of Perugia, 
should have hastened to come in person to make his sub- 
mission. Julius received this treacherous vassal of the 
Church with lofty condescension, and without waiting to 
collect an adequate army, pressed forward to seize the 
surrendered city : a piece of wilful rashness, which aroused 
the wonder, or rather the deep disappointment of 
Machiavelli, who has criticised this hasty action of the 
Pope and the cowardly complaisance of Baglioni in one 
of the most famous passages of the Discorsi. There 
could be no question that Julius ran the gravest risk in 
thus placing himself and all his court at the mercy of one 
who was in reality an aristocratic brigand with a small 
but well-trained army. The defenceless condition of the 
Pontiff and his cardinals, together with the vast amount of 
treasure in their luxurious trains, must have been apparent 
to the greedy eyes of the Umbrian tyrant ; nevertheless, 
he shrank from committing a sacrilegious crime on so 
grand a scale, and for his omission thus to purchase an 
undying reputation for good or ill, Machiavelli has cen- 
sured the hesitating Baglioni in the bitter language of 
which he was an acknowledged master, and in terms 
clearly expressive of his own detestation of the methods 
of the warrior Pope : 

"Men know not either how to be splendidly wicked 
or wholly good, and they shrink in consequence from 
such crimes as are stamped with an inherent greatness 
or disclose a nobility of nature. For which reason 
Giovanpagolo, who thought nothing of incurring the guilt 
of incest or of murdering his kinsmen, could not, or more 
truly durst not avail himself of a fair occasion to do a 
deed which all would have admired ; which would have 



60 THE MEDICI POPES 

won for him a deathless fame as the first to teach the 
prelates how little those who live and reign as they do 
are to be esteemed, and which would have displayed a 
greatness far transcending any infamy or danger that 
could attach to it." 1 

From Perugia the papal army and its followers crossed 
the Apennines by way of Gubbio to the plains of the 
Romagna, not resting till they reached Cesena, at which 
place the Pope had arranged to meet with the Cardinal 
d' Amboise, the all-powerful minister of Louis XII., who 
in return for sundry favours to himself and his nephews, 
was prepared to withhold French aid from threatened 
Bologna. Having thus bribed France to complaisance, 
Julius now launched one of his bulls of excommunication 
against Giovanni Bentivoglio, who promptly fled from 
the city to the French camp, all ignorant of the shameless 
bargain lately concluded between the Pope and the 
French cardinal. This open display of rank cowardice 
on the part of the old tyrant of Bologna must have 
afforded some measure of satisfaction to Giovanni de' 
Medici, who had certainly not forgotten Bentivoglio's 
ill-timed merry-making over the misfortunes of Piero and 
himself some thirteen years before, when the Medici had 
been forcibly driven from Florence. On nth November, 
Julius entered the city of Bologna in state, where, as befel 
every Italian conqueror in that era of perpetual change 
of masters, the indifferent populace greeted the victorious 
Pope as a liberator and benefactor, as a second and a 
more glorious Julius Caesar. Amidst waving of kerchiefs 
and showers of late-blooming roses, the self-satisfied 
Pontiff proceeded towards the vast church of San 
Petronio, nor was he aware that in the midst of the 

1 Discorsi, book L, chap, xxvii. 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 61 

applauding crowds stood a sharp-eyed observant traveller 
from the north with fur collar well tucked up to his ears, 
who was watching narrowly the passing procession. For 
by a curious chance Erasmus of Rotterdam happened 
to be visiting Bologna at the very moment of Benti- 
voglio's flight and the Pope's triumphal entry into the 
city, so that to feelings outraged by such a spectacle of 
worldliness may have been due the production of that 
striking satire called \hejulius Exclusus Pope Julius 
excluded from Paradise which has ever been attributed 
to the pen of the great Humanist in spite of his repeated 
denials. " Would that you could have seen me carried 
in state at Bologna, and afterwards in Rome ! " the boast- 
ful Pontiff is made to exclaim to the indignant Apostle 
at the gate of Heaven. " Carriages and horses, troops 
under arms, generals prancing and galloping, handsome 
pages, torches flaming, dishes steaming, pomp of bishops, 
glory of cardinals, trophies, spoils, shouts that rent the 
heavens, trumpets blaring, cannon thundering, largesse 
scattered among the mob, and I borne aloft, the head and 
author of it all ! Scipio and Caesar were nothing in 
comparison with me ! "* In any case it is certain that 
Erasmus was an interested eye-witness of the strange 
scene which is described so vividly in the Pope's apology 
for his life to the Janitor of Heaven. 

So far the cardinals, whom their militant master had 
turned into lieutenants of his warlike enterprise, had not 
suffered greatly during this autumn campaign. True, 
they had endured some degree of misery from the bites 
of the rapacious mosquitoes infesting the marshes of the 
Romagna, to which their disfigured faces bore ample 

^Julius Exclusus. A Dialogue in the form of a drama performed 
in Paris in 1514, A translation of this amusing work is included in 
Froude's Life and Letters of Erasmus, Appendix to Lecture VIII. 



6 2 THE MEDICI POPES 

testimony, 1 but the ease with which an almost unarmed 
Pope could reduce in so short a space of time and 
practically without carnage two of the most important 
towns in central Italy must have given intense satisfac- 
tion to those members of the Sacred College who shared 
their Pontiff's views. But this opening campaign, which 
seemed little short of a triumphal procession with none 
of the horrors and scarcely any of the hardships of war, 
was destined to be succeeded by many stern experiences. 
Towards the close of December, 1508, the celebrated 
League of Cambrai, the most cherished object of the 
papal diplomacy, was concluded between France, Spain, 
the Empire and the Papacy, for the admitted purpose of 
stripping Venice of all her dominions on the mainland : 
a political combination against which the Republic of St. 
Mark made a most feeble show of resistance. Defeated 
by the French troops at Vaila and despoiled of her 
colonies, the humiliated state was ere long only too 
thankful to implore for the Pope's mercy and the bless- 
ing of an alliance with the Holy See. Having thus 
reduced to impotence the sole Italian state which seemed 
capable of resisting the foreign invasion, and having got 
the towns of the Romagna into his own hands, Julius 
realised that the primary object of his detestable and 
unpatriotic policy had been secured, and now that the 
might of Venice was hopelessly broken for the sake of 
a few miserable fortresses, he was anxious to obtain 
Venetian co-operation in striking a severe blow at French 
influence in Lombardy. A reconciliation was easily 
effected, whereupon the Pope promptly seceded from 
the League of Cambrai, even boasting that by such a 
piece of perfidy " he was thrusting a dagger into the 

1 Adriano da Castello, Creighton, vol. v., p. 102, note i. 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 63 

side of the French King ". At the same time he made 
arrangements for a number of Swiss mercenaries to 
descend upon Milan under the direction of his devoted 
agent, the Cardinal Matthew Schinner of Sion in the 
Valais, who had lately supplied Julius with that historic 
bodyguard of picked mountaineers, the Swiss Guard, 
who in their quaint parti-coloured livery have continued 
for nearly four centuries to keep watch and ward at the 
portals of the Vatican. 

Of Julius' endless troubles, secular and ecclesiastical, 
of his wars and sieges, of his marches and counter- 
marches, of his massacres and excommunications, we 
have no space to speak in a work which is wholly con- 
cerned with the career and character of his successors. 
But on 1 3th May, 1511, Bologna, "the Jewel of the 
Pope's crown," was retaken with French assistance by 
Alfonso d' Este, Duke of Ferrara, who signalised his 
contempt for the spiritual fulminations of Julius by re- 
moving from the facade of San Petronio the fine bronze 
statue of the militant Pontiff, a justly admired work of 
the divine Michelangelo. Reserving the head of the 
figure to add to his stock of curiosities in the ducal 
museum at Ferrara, the dauntless prince had a large 
piece of artillery cast from the component bronze, which 
in mockery he christened " Giulio," and concerning 
which he was wont to indulge in many a coarse jest. 
But a far more serious incident than this open insult to 
the Pope succeeded the fall of Bologna : an incident 
which, there is good reason to believe, made an indelible 
impression on the mind of Cardinal de' Medici, now held 
in the highest favour by Julius and recently invested 
with the important see of Amalfi. The late capitulation 
of Bologna had not taken place without manifest signs 
of treachery on the part of its Cardinal- Legate, the 



64 THE MEDICI POPES 

worthless Francesco Alidosi, Bishop of Pavia, detested 
by all decent men but adored for some mysterious 
reason by the Pontiff, who placed absolute confidence in 
Alidosi 's good faith and personal devotion towards him- 
self. After the recapture of the city, which was on all 
sides attributed to the venal aims of this papal minion, 
the Cardinal- Legate proceeded to Ravenna, where on 
entering into the Pope's apartment, he threw himself at 
his indulgent master's feet and openly accused Julius' 
own nephew, Francesco-Maria Delia Rovere, Duke of 
Urbino, of having been the cause of the late catastrophe. 
So deep-rooted was the Pope's infatuation for Alidosi, 
that he at once turned upon the duke, who was standing 
beside his throne, and with threats and curses and 
Julius was ever an adept at foul invective drove the 
young man, his own nephew and heir, from his presence 
on the mere word of one who was commonly reported 
a liar and a villain. Successful in his mission and more 
confident than ever of the papal protection, Alidosi 
quitted the palace in high spirits to return to his castle 
of Rivo, when at an evil moment in one of the streets of 
Ravenna he chanced to meet with the retiring Duke of 
Urbino. With ill-timed levity the triumphant Legate 
must needs jeer at the crestfallen prince, whereupon, 
infuriated beyond all control by this last insult, Dell 
Rovere leaped from his horse and with naked sword 
rushed upon his traducer, flinging him off his mule and 
raining blow after blow upon the defenceless Churchman 
as he lay writhing and screaming in the mire of the 
street. " Take that, you traitor ! and that, and that, 
and that for your deserts ! " cried the duke, until having 
dealt his prostrate foe some half-dozen strokes on the 
head and body, he left the corpse to be hacked to pieces 
by some of his attendants. " A favourite has no friends," 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 65 

particularly a favourite of the type of Alidosi so that 
many persons, including the Legate's own servants, 
looked on unconcernedly upon this murder of an un- 
DOpular Churchman in broad daylight. Having corn- 
Dieted the foul deed, the living secular tyrant fled with 
lis train towards the lofty citadel of Urbino, leaving the 
dead ecclesiastical tyrant a shapeless blood-stained mass 
n the mean lane of Ravenna. Even in those days of 
universal violence and crime such an act of combined 
sacrilege and brutal revenge stands without parallel, so 
[hat it is highly probable that Leo's subsequent hatred 
of Alidosi's murderer arose originally from his feelings 
of horror at this assassination of one who, however vile 
and unscrupulous, was yet a Cardinal- Legate and a 
3ishop. But of this matter we intend to speak more 
ully in a later chapter. It is enough to state here that 
che sympathies of the common people lay as usual with 
the aggressor, and that the cry was raised on all sides, 
Blessed be the Duke of Urbino ! Blessed is the death 
of his victim ! Blessed be the name of God, from Whom 
all good things do proceed ! " In fact, Julius alone of 
all men expressed grief at the news of the wretched 
Alidosi's fate ; he beat his breast, he refused food, and 
as he was being conveyed that night towards Rimini 
"rom Ravenna a place now grown hateful to him in 
lis bereavement his attendants could hear loud cries 
of impotent rage and deep groans of sorrow issuing from 
the curtained litter of this extraordinary old man. When 
the violence of his grief had somewhat spent itself, Julius 
appointed a committee of four cardinals, amongst them 
being Giovanni de' Medici, to make a full inquiry into 
the conduct of the Duke of Urbino ; nor was it until 

1 Diary of Paris de Grassis, Creighton, vol. v., Appendix, pp. 
309-311. 

5 



66 THE MEDICI POPES 

many months had elapsed that the Pope, at last con- 
vinced of Alidosi's acts of treachery in the past, finally 
consented to receive his heir back into favour. 

At the close of this same year 1511, the Holy League 
between Spain, Venice, England and the Holy See, an- 
other political creation of the Pope's fertile brain, was in- 
augurated with the expressed object of driving the French 
out of Italy. A new papal army, composed chiefly of 
Spanish infantry under Raymond de Cardona, viceroy of 
Naples, and of Italian cavalry under Fabrizio Colonna, was 
now formed to re-conquer the lost cities of the Romagna, 
and of this mixed force Cardinal de' Medici was named 
Legate : an appointment clearly showing how successful 
had been Lorenzo's son in his supreme efforts to win the 
complete confidence of a Pope who was originally chary 
of trusting a Medici. Early in the new year the papal 
forces advanced to the siege of Bologna, now held by th< 
re-instated Bentivogli with the aid of French troops und< 
Lautrec and Yves d'Allegre. In order to effect a bread 
in the walls, the Spanish engineer, Pedro Navarro, laid 
his mines at a certain point of the rampart which was 
dominated by a chapel of the Virgin, consequently known 
as La Madonna del Barbacane. The attempt was suc- 
cessful in its initial stage, for on the fuse being ignited, th< 
Cardinal and the besieging army saw the fragment 
wall blown high into the air, and then to their amazement 
and terror (so Jovius gravely informs his readers) the] 
beheld wall and chapel descend uninjured and fit them- 
selves again into the breach made by Navarro's explosion. 3 
The spectacle of this military miracle caused a profoum 
impression both amongst the soldiers of the papal arm] 
and the defenders of the city ; and whatsoever phenomenoi 

1 Jovius, lib. ii. 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 67 

may have happened on this occasion, it is evident that 
some curious incident, ascribed by all present to Divine 
nterposition, raised the spirits of the besieged and de- 
Dressed those of their assailants at a most critical moment, 
[n any case, the delivery of the beleaguered town was 
close at hand, for the famous Gaston de Foix, a prince of 
the royal House of Navarre, who flashes for a brief moment 
ike some brilliant meteor across the troubled sky of the 
[talian wars, suddenly appeared within sight of the towers 
of Bologna. The timely arrival of Gaston and his vic- 
torious troops, fresh from the sack of unhappy Brescia, 
was the signal for the immediate retirement of the army 
of the Holy League. Having relieved Bologna, Gaston 
next pressed on to Ravenna, which was stubbornly held 
against his attack by the Colonnas and their Roman 
bllowers. Meanwhile the Cardinal- Legate, in duty 
)ound to succour Ravenna, decided to advance, and to 
encamp about three miles from the town, at a spot in the 
neighbourhood of the famous basilica of Sant' Apollinare 
n Classe. The united forces of France and of Ferrara 
lad already taken up a strong position midway between 
he streams of the Montone and the Ronco, which join at 
3 onte dell' Asse, about a mile and a half to the south of 
Ravenna. The numbers on both sides were fairly equal, 
t the advantage of generalship lay obviously with the 
French, who possessed Gaston himself, Alfonso of Ferrara, 
Yves d'Allegre, La Pallice and a host of other accom- 
)lished leaders. On the part of the League, Fabrizio 
'olonna, the cavalry commander, was reputed to be head- 
strong, whilst Raymond de Cardona, in the elegant words 
of Jovius, "shone more in civil life than on the battle- 
field". 1 

Blood-red uprose the sun upon that memorable 
1 Jovius, lib. ii. 



68 THE MEDICI POPES 

Easter morning, which fell on nth April, 1512, and the 
superstitious soldiers in either camp declared that the 
flushed skies denoted the coming death of a generalissimo, 
although whether of Gaston or of Cardona remained to 
be seen. Each army possessed its cardinal in attendance, 
for with the French was Federigo Sanseverino, one of 
Julius' most bitter opponents and a leading supporter of 
the schismatic Council of Pisa, whose gigantic form 
encased in mail was prominent on a huge charger, as h< 
rode about the French camp performing the reguh 
duties of an officer. Very different were the aspect an< 
behaviour of the orthodox legate. Habited in his flow- 
ing robes of scarlet and wearing the broad-brimmed tas- 
selled hat, the full panoply of his exalted office, Giovanni 
de' Medici made a conspicuous figure, as bestriding 
white palfrey and with silver cross borne before him, 1 h< 
passed along the ranks of the Italians and Spaniards, ex- 
horting the soldiers to acts of valour and offering up pray ei 
for victory. His naturally peaceful disposition made th< 
prospect of a bloody and confused engagement singularly 
distasteful to him, yet the position of legate in his master's 
army forbade him to retire from the scene of expected 
massacre, although in any case his defective eyesight 
rendered his presence on the battlefield useless in victory 
and a cause of anxiety in the event of defeat. 

The fight opened with a duel of artillery, for whi< 
the level nature of the battlefield gave full scope, an< 
which proved all to the advantage of the French, sin< 
Alfonso of Ferrara had long been paying special attention 
to this branch of warfare, so that his guns were the b< 
constructed and most ably served in all Italy. Colonna's 
cavalry suffered severely from this heavy and well 

1 He is so represented in the famous Tapestries of Raphael, 
chapter ix. 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 69 

directed cannonade, but the Spanish infantry, reputed 
the best foot-soldiers in Europe, escaped almost un- 
cathed owing to the foresight of the capable Navarro, 
ho bade his men lie prone upon the flat surface of the 
lain, so long as the murderous hail of bullets from across 
intervening Ronco continued. Colonna, however, 
naddened by the havoc wrought by Duke Alfonso's 
rtillery and disgusted with what he deemed the cowardice 
f the Spaniards, now charged headlong towards the 
iver, compelling the Spanish infantry to follow his lead. 
\long the banks of the Ronco raged the battle with 
Imost unparalleled ferocity, for in this case hatred and 
ealousy of race were added to the ordinary lust of 
ghting. Richly clad in a mantle distinguished by the 
eraldic devices of the royal House of Navarre and 
yith right arm left bare for the fleshing, rode hither and 
lither that splendid youth, Gaston de Foix, swearing he 
r ould never quit the field save as victor and urging the 
oops of France to pursue the hard-pressed Spaniards, 
r ho were slowly retiring in good order long after 
"olonna's cavalry had been scattered to the four winds. 
3ut at the very moment when the battle of Ravenna 
iras actually won, and the enemy's camp already cap- 
ured, Gaston de Foix, forgetting in the supreme hour of 
riumph that it is the first duty of every capable general 
safeguard his own life, must needs lose everything by 
piece of boyish folly. Streaming with sweat and 
Bespattered with human brains and blood, the young 
eader, flushed with victory and already beholding 
isions of the coveted Neapolitan crown before his 
azzled eyes, spurred in person after Cardona's retreating 
Battalions. In mid-career a stray bullet knocked the 
>rince headlong from his charger to the ground, whence 
nortally wounded he rolled down the steep bank into 



7 o THE MEDICI POPES 

the turbid waters of the Ronco. In vain did the un- 
happy youth cry aloud for quarter, shouting to the savage 
Spanish soldiery above him that he was the brother 
of their own queen ; little did they reck at such a 
moment of their victim's birth and honours. Pierced 
with a hundred wounds in every portion of his body, 
Gaston de Foix lost at once the hard-won fruits of 
his victory and also his young life at the precise moment 
when he seemed to hold all Italy in his eager and 
ambitious grasp. 

Death was busy amongst the leaders in both armies, 
but especially in that of the French, during this historic 
engagement, wherein at least 20,000 men are said to 
have perished. Amidst the universal din and confusion, 
which in this case were not a little increased by the 
slaughter of so many generals on either side, young 
Giulio de' Medici, as usual in attendance upon his 
illustrious cousin, was enabled to escape in the mass 
of terror-stricken fugitives to Cesena ; but the Cardinal- 
Legate, impeded by his blindness yet showing commend- 
able pluck and coolness in a situation of extreme peril, 
remained on the battlefield, deeply absorbed in performing 
the last sad offices for the dead and dying. He was 
engaged in this truly Christian task, when he was per- 
ceived by some common soldiers of the victorious army, 
who, recking nothing of the sanctity of a cardinal's robe 
and person, hastened to lay violent hands upon 
glorious a prize as the papal legate. The would-be 
assailants of the Medici, however, were opportunely strucl 
down by a gentleman of Bologna, named Piatese, wh< 
for his better protection handed the Legate over 
Federigo Gonzaga, of the noble House of Mantua. 
Gonzaga immediately led the captive Cardinal into th< 
presence of Sanseverino, by whom his Florentine col- 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 71 

league was received with every mark of respect. On 
the strength of his old friend's kindness, the cunning 
Medici now ventured to ask as a special favour that his 
cousin Giulio might be allowed to proceed under a safe- 
conduct to the French camp. To this seemingly in- 
nocent request Sanseverino, too much engrossed in 
quarrelling with the new French commander, La Pallice, 
to reflect upon any possible ill consequences of his 
complaisance, at once consented, so that Giulio was able 
to reach Ravenna before many hours were past. By 
means of his cousin the shrewd Cardinal- Legate obtained 
the desired opportunity of sending to Rome an authentic 
report of the late battle, and also an exact appreciation 
of the present strength of the French army. For the 
Cardinal had already perceived clearly that, although the 
forces of King Louis had indeed gained a stupendous 
victory, yet the consequences of such a success had been 
greatly impaired, if not altogether destroyed by the loss 
of Gaston de Foix, on whose able strategy and far- 
reaching aims all future policy depended. Hurrying 
from Ravenna with the Legate's minute instructions, 
Giulio arrived in Rome at a most critical juncture. 
Already stragglers from the defeated army had reached 
the Eternal City, where by the exaggerated language 
which all bearers of evil tidings are so prone to employ, 
they had spread consternation amongst Julius and his 
cardinals attendant, whilst Pompeo Colonna and the 
Roman barons were already preparing to rouse the 
populace in favour of an expected French army. The 
fortunes of Julius had now sunk to their lowest ebb, and 
so intense was his alarm that an escape by sea from 
Ostia had even been seriously suggested. To the scared 
Pontiff and his court Giulio truly brought most welcome 
relief, for he was able to explain by means of his cousin's 



72 THE MEDICI POPES 

careful instructions that the dreaded Gaston was no 
more; that the Duke of Ferrara had returned to his 
capital ; that La Pallice and Sanseverino were on terms 
of open rivalry ; and that, in short, there was little fear of 
the conquerors now descending upon Rome. Time was 
all that was needed for repairing the shattered fortunes 
of the League, since the delays and quarrels of the new 
French leaders were likely to continue indefinitely, so 
that in contriving to despatch so able a messenger to 
Rome with such speed, the captive Cardinal- Legate had 
indeed performed a signal service to the Pope and the 
Holy See. Thus reassured, Julius recovered his wonted 
presence of mind and again began to treat with the 
French King. A master-stroke, also suited to the exi- 
gencies of the moment, was the Pope's decision to 
summon a general Council to meet with all convenient 
despatch at the Lateran, an action almost certain to 
counteract the dreaded influence of the schismatic 
Council, or conciliabulo, which had recently transferred 
its sittings from Pisa to Milan. Possibly this ingenious 
idea of calling a Council in Rome itself as an antidote 
may have originated with the Cardinal- Legate, for the 
very notion of holding such an assembly had always 
been highly repugnant to the arrogant Julius ; at any 
rate, it is remarkable that this announcement followed 
close upon Medici's lucid explanation of the general 
situation in Italy after the battle of Ravenna. 

In the meantime the Legate had been escorted in 
honourable durance to Bologna, where the unfeeling citi- 
zens came in crowds to gibe at the captive prince of the 
Church and at his fellow-prisoner, Pedro Navarro. The 
Bentivogli, however, treated Giovanni with consideration, 
as did likewise Bianca Rangone at Modena, whither he 
was next transferred. This lady, a daughter of the 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 73 

House of Bentivoglio, actually stripped herself of all her 
jewels in order to provide properly for the Cardinal's 
immediate necessities, and it is pleasant to be able to re- 
cord that this act of kindness shown him in an hour of 
distress was not allowed to pass unnoticed in the days of 
prosperity and power that were now so close at hand, for 
Leo X. granted many favours to the fortunate children 
of the Lady Bianca. From Modena the Cardinal was 
taken to Milan, where he was honourably lodged in the 
house of Sanseverino, whilst many of the leading Milan- 
ese citizens came to pay him court in spite of his being 
a French prisoner of war. In fact, the situation in Milan 
was most extraordinary, seeing that here was the schismatic 
Council under the presidency of Carvajal and Sanseverino 
holding its sittings and anathematising the Roman Pontiff, 
whose captive legate meanwhile was being treated with 
marked deference by the Milanese themselves, who 
scarcely tried to hide their contempt for the Council in 
their midst ; indeed, the ambitious Carvajal was con- 
tinually assailed in the streets and mocked by the children 
as " Pope Carvajal". Hither a little later arrived the 
indefatigable Giulio, armed with letters from the Pope, 
granting to his legate plenary powers to give absolution 
to all and sundry at his discretion ; whereupon so many 
applications were made to the orthodox legate that the 
Medici's secretaries were kept busily employed day and 
night in preparing the necessary forms. Numbers of the 
French officers even openly asked for letters of absolu- 
tion for their late crime in opposing the arms of His 
Holiness at Ravenna and Bologna ; nor was any atten- 
tion paid by the governor of Milan to the indignant pro- 
tests of Carvajal and his colleagues, who complained 
bitterly of Medici's honourable treatment and his manifest 
influence. The final withdrawal of the French troops 



74 



THE MEDICI POPES 



from Milan before the advancing Swiss at the close of 
May, 1 5 1 2, at last compelled the Council, now utterly dis- 
credited in the eyes of all men, to retire with the French 
forces, intending, so it was declared, to select some safe 
spot in France for its further proceedings. As a hostage 
the Cardinal- Legate of Bologna undoubtedly possessed 
no small value in the estimation of King Louis, and ac- 
cordingly Medici was constrained to follow in the retreat- 
ing army under a strong escort. Ideas of escape had 
already suggested themselves to the Cardinal, who was 
firmly resolved not to be carried a prisoner beyond the 
Alps without making a desperate effort to regain his 
liberty. The attempt, carefully matured beforehand, 
was arranged to take place at the village of Cairo on 
the banks of the Po, at which spot the French army had 
decided to cross the river. Closely guarded and watched, 
the Cardinal by feigning illness was yet allowed to spend 
the night at the humble house of the parish-priest of 
Cairo, whilst the French ecclesiastics of the Council were 
embarking in the barges that were ready to bear them- 
selves and their attendants to Bassignano across the 
stream. That night a certain priest named Bengallo, 
who was in Medici's train and was the guiding spirit of 
the whole plan, went secretly to implore a country 
gentleman of the neighbourhood, one Rinaldo Zazzi, to 
act as his assistant in the matter of the Cardinal's escape. 
Zazzi was at first unwilling to join in so hazardous a 
scheme, even though the good priest begged him with 
tears in his eyes to rescue the Pope's legate out of the 
hands of the discomfited barbarians, yet a last appeal to 
the ever-potent memory of Lorenzo the Magnificent was 
successful in inducing the hesitating Piedmontese squire 
to give a reluctant promise of aid, but only on the con- 
dition that a local nobleman, by name Ottaviano Isim- 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 75 

bardi, should likewise be admitted into their confidence. 
The disappointed priest had perforce to agree, whereupon 
Isimbardi was sought and after additional promises and 
pleadings was gained over to the cause. Zazzi and 
Isimbardi now arranged to collect a number of peasants 
from off their estates to compass the rescue of the Cardinal, 
whose person was to be seized on the following morning 
at the river's bank, at the precise moment when he was 
preparing to step into the barge. The whole scheme, 
concocted with such care and at such risk by Bengallo 
and his new accomplices, was however nearly frustrated 
by an error of Zazzi's messenger, who addressed himself 
to the French priest in charge of Medici by mistake for 
Bengallo ; and although the servant had the wit to invent 
a reasonable explanation of his strange blunder, the 
Frenchman's suspicions were aroused, so that he gave 
the order of embarkation sooner than was anticipated. 
By a series of pretended delays, however, some little time 
was gained, with the result that as the Cardinal, who 
managed to be almost the last person left on the river- 
bank, was about to step into the boat prepared for him, 
Zazzi and Isimbardi suddenly appeared on the scene with 
a band of armed men, who quickly drove back the 
startled Frenchmen and conveyed Medici to a temporary 
hiding-place. But the Legate's troubles were as yet by 
no means finished, in spite of this successful beginning, 
for the French, furious at losing a valuable hostage by 
so simple a device, set to work to scour the surrounding 
country, though happily not before the Cardinal had been 
able to don military attire a most unsuitable disguise, 
it would seem, for one of his bulky figure and elegant 
manners and to flee in an opposite direction. Under 
the circumstances Isimbardi, who accompanied the il- 
lustrious fugitive, thought it best to seek the protection 



7 6 



THE MEDICI POPES 



of a relative, one Bernardo Malespina, although he was 
known to sympathise with the French faction. To the 
dismay of the poor Cardinal and to the genuine surprise 
of Isimbardi, Malespina however not only declined to 
assist the refugee's flight, but insisted on keeping Medici 
a close prisoner, until he had communicated with the 
French general, the celebrated Gian-Giorgio Trivulzi. 
Shut up under lock and key in a dark and dirty pigeon- 
house, the Legate had ample time to bewail his evil fate, 
for there was every reason to suppose that Trivulzi, 
though an Italian by birth, would insist on his being 
handed over to the French. But to the unbounded joy 
and relief both of the Cardinal and of Isimbardi, the 
general's reply was all in favour of the fugitive ; for 
Trivulzi informed Malespina that he might liberate the 
Cardinal, if he were so minded, seeing that fortune had 
so far helped him to elude his late captors. Malespina 
had sworn to his kinsman to abide by Trivulzi's decision, 
and although refusing actively to help in the matter 
of escape, he had no objection to leaving ajar the door 
of the dove-cote, as though by accident. Issuing thus 
from his undignified place of restraint in Malespina's 
castle, the Cardinal hastened in disguise to Voghiera 
and thence to Mantua, where he was hospitably enter- 
tained by the Marquis and his consort, the famous 
Isabella d' Este of Ferrara. Such are the bare outlines 
of the story of Leo's escape, and for its sequel we must 
add that according to his usual, if not invariable custom, 
on succeeding to the Papacy he did not fail to remember 
and reward all those devoted friends who had assisted 
in his rescue. The brave and resourceful Bengallo was 
nominated bishop of Nepi ; titles and estates were be- 
stowed on Zazzi and Isimbardi ; whilst the over-cautious 
Malespina must have lived to regret bitterly his harsh 



RISE TO POWER UNDER JULIUS II 77 

treatment of the poor wanderer imprisoned in his fowl- 
house. As a memorial of this interesting and by no 
means unimportant episode in the career of the first 
Medicean Pope, the Marchese Isimbardi caused the walls 
of the chief saloon of his villa at Cairo to be adorned 
with a series of frescoes illustrating the story of the Pon- 
tiffs flight, beneath which he added a personal inscription, 
containing the words : " O Ottaviano Isimbardi! to thy 
efforts of a truth doth Florence owe a Medicean Prince, 
Italy a Hero, and the world a Leo the Tenth!" 
Modesty was not a common attribute of the noblemen 
of the Italian Renaissance, nor self-glorification a rare 
one. 

The real political importance of the Medici's escape 
from the French army at this exact moment must not 
be overlooked. Had he not attempted, and with success, 
to break away from his captors, he would undoubtedly 
have been borne away to France and been kept there as 
a hostage, at least until the death of Julius II. In that 
case the restoration of the Medici in Florence an event 
of which we intend to speak presently would certainly 
never have occurred, whilst without this increased in- 
fluence in Italian politics, which the recovery of Florence 
gave to him, would he ever have been elected Pope, 
particularly if he were remaining a prisoner honourably 
treated, no doubt, but a prisoner none the less on alien 
soil. Nor, seeing how this extraordinary piece of good 
fortune befel the Cardinal within a few weeks of his 
triumphal entry into Florence and within a few months 
of his ascending the pontifical throne, can we wonder 
that both Jovius and Egidius of Viterbo should allude 
to this event as miraculous in an age which attributed 
all good or evil to the direct intervention of a watch- 
ful Providence. "It was the act of God," says the 



THE MEDICI POPES 



latter chronicler, "and before all other things that 
have been done in past ages, is it marvellous in our 



eyes 



I" 1 



1 Cavaliere Rosmini, Istoria del Magno Trivulzio ; Jovius, lib. ii. ; 
Roscoe, vol. i,, pp. 322-324, and p. 324, note 10. 



CHAPTER IV 
RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 

Let no man scheme to make himself supreme in Florence who is 
not of the line of the Medici, and backed besides by the power of the 
Church. None else, be he who he may, has such influence or follow- 
ing that he can hope to reach this height, unless indeed he be carried 
to it by the free voice of the people in search of a constitutional chief, 
as happened to Piero Soderini. If any therefore aspire to such 
honours, not being of the House of Medici, let him affect the popular 
cause (F. Guicciardini, Counsels and Reflections). 

THE discomfiture of the French had been so 
complete, that soon after the evacuation of 
Milan there were remaining to them scarcely 
half a dozen fortresses of all their late conquests in 
Lombardy. Once more the expelled Sforza were in- 
stalled in Milan ; Bologna was again in the hands of 
Julius II., whose fury against the unfortunate Bentivogli 
burned so fierce that he threatened to raze the whole 
city and transplant its fickle inhabitants to the town of 
Cento ; Parma and Piacenza were likewise seized by 
the ambitious but not self-seeking Pontiff, who claimed 
these important towns for the Church as forming outlying 
portions of the ancient exarchate of Ravenna ; Venice, 
now supported by her new friend and former foe, the 
Pope, was preparing to annex Brescia and Cremona, 
which were still held by French garrisons ; whilst the 
vacillating Emperor and the shrewd Ferdinand of Spain 
were silently working to obtain some substantial advant- 
age out of the recent failure of the French arms. To 

79 



8o THE MEDICI POPES 

settle the affairs of Italy and to apportion the spoils 
amongst the component members of the League, a con- 
ference had been called at Mantua in the summer of 
1512. But a more important matter than the pacifica- 
tion of Northern Italy to be discussed at this meeting 
was the question of dealing with the only independent 
state of consequence which had been openly hostile to 
the victorious League, for throughout the late campaign 
Florence had remained an acknowledged, if not a very 
active ally of the French King. The collapse of the late 
invasion had indeed imperilled the actual existence of the 
Florentine Republic, now guided by Piero Soderini, 
who in 1503 had been duly elected Gonfalionere for life 
and endowed with powers somewhat akin to those en- 
joyed by a Venetian doge. Soderini, who was an 
eminently honest but not very able public magistrate, 
had for some time past regarded this French alliance 
with serious misgiving, but partly from a natural in- 
decision of character and partly from a high-minded 
sense of loyalty to the pact made with King Louis, he 
had taken no definite step to dissociate the Republic 
from an union which was singularly distasteful to the 
Pope, whose hatred of the French amounted to a verit- 
able passion. To pursue a middle course under these 
circumstances proved a fatal mistake, and Soderini's 
recent conduct in affording shelter to the refugees of 
both armies after the battle of Ravenna had only ex- 
asperated the French without winning the gratitude of 
the League. Now, with the invaders practically swept 
out of the country, Soderini found himself and the 
Florentine Republic completely isolated, so that it is not 
difficult to understand the feelings of grave alarm where- 
with the Gonfalionere and his adherents were regarding 
this coming conference at Mantua. In order to propitiate 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 81 

the heads of the League, therefore, the perplexed ruler of 
Florence despatched to Mantua his brother, Gian- 
Vittorio Soderini, a person "more learned in the laws 
than in the higher arts of diplomacy," to treat on behalf 
of the recalcitrant Republic. 

Conspicuous amongst the representatives of the 
various powers convened at Mantua was the Emperor's 
plenipotentiary, the haughty Matthew Lang, bishop of 
Gurck, who was ready to offer his master's good-will to 
the highest bidder. The Medicean interests were in the 
hands of Giuliano de' Medici in the absence of the 
Cardinal, who was engaged in restoring order in Bologna. 
Giuliano, acting under the advice of his elder brother, 
was naturally lavish of his promises both to Lang and to 
Cardona, the leader of Ferdinand's army ; but all such 
promises, however tempting they might seem, were 
necessarily contingent on the restoration of the Medici, 
who were still exiles. Had Piero Soderini invested his 
brother with fuller powers to pledge the credit of the 
Florentine state to an unlimited extent, he might possibly 
have succeeded in buying off the representatives of both 
King and Emperor, for without the Spanish army of 
Cardona, Julius would in all probability have been unable 
to carry out his open project to overthrow the existing 
government of Soderini and to replace it by the rule of 
the Medici. For, thanks to the years of loyal service 
and his recent misfortunes in his master's cause, the 
Cardinal had completely succeeded in winning the papal 
confidence and favour, and had been actually marked 
out by Julius as a proper instrument for the chastisement 
of obstinate Florence, which had not only made an un- 
holy alliance with the detested French, but had also 
granted hospitality to the late schismatical Council at Pisa. 
But although the anxious Soderini must have been fully 

6 



82 THE MEDICI POPES 

aware that, in order to avert the papal vengeance and to 
placate the enmity of the League, there was absolute 
necessity for other and more subtle methods than mere 
appeals to fair-play and common-sense, he shrank from 
bribery on the required scale, allowing the promises of 
r ; uliano de' Medici to transcend in value his own more 
frugal offers. 

Meanwhile, the Cardinal, his brother Giuliano, their 
cousin Giulio and Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, with all 
their friends, were busily employed in furthering the 
restoration of the Medicean family in Florence, whether 
as acknowledged rulers or as private citizens ; the actual 
form of their re-entry seemed of little consequence at the 
moment. Julius now willingly invested the Cardinal 
with legatine authority in Tuscany, whilst there was 
placed at his disposal the Spanish army under Cardona, 
which was encamped near Bologna. Yet Giovanni, who 
fully realised that the precise moment for a vigorous 
effort to regain Florence had in very truth arrived, still 
met with many difficulties in his path, in spite too of the 
warm support of the Pope and the League. Cardona 
himself regarded with indifference, if not with dislike, 
this proposed descent upon Tuscany, and the Spanish 
general's aversion had to be overcome by such sums of 
money as the impoverished Cardinal could scrape to- 
gether. Even more serious and exasperating than 
Cardona's reluctance was the strong opposition of the 
papal nephew, Francesco Delia Rovere, Duke of Urbino, 
who stoutly refused to second his uncle's scheme against 
Florence in this emergency ; denied artillery to the 
Spanish army ; and even forbade the Vitelli and Orsini, 
cousins of the Medici and eager upholders of their cause, 
to quit the force, which as Captain-General of the Church 
he himself was then commanding. Whether the duke 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 83 

had been secretly bribed, or was acting thus out of a 
personal dislike of the Cardinal, who had sat as one of his 
judges in the late enquiry concerning Alidosi's murder, 
it is impossible to say ; but certain it is that his unseason- 
able attitude of sharp hostility to the Medici was one 
which he had every reason ere long to deplore under the 
Medicean pontificate, which he little dreamed was so 
near at hand. But the energy and tact of the Cardinal 
were sufficient to surmount all initial difficulties. It was 
he who contrived to purchase two pieces of the much- 
needed artillery, and during the passage of the Apennines 
it was his personal influence with the mountaineers that 
secured pack-horses and food for the ill-equipped army. 
At the village of Barberino, on the confines of the Re- 
public's territory, arrived an embassy from the city of 
Florence, offering terms to which Cardona might have 
been tempted to accede, had it not been for the presence 
of the Cardinal, who insisted before all things upon the 
acceptance of the League's late resolution a resolution 
naturally of the first importance to the struggling Medici 
that the exiled members of the family should be per- 
mitted to return to Florence as private citizens. Upon 
this vital question the negotiating parties were quite 
unable to agree, the Gonfalionere boldly stating his 
preference for an appeal to arms rather than for any 
arrangement which might include a restoration of the 
Medici ; and to this grave determination Soderini had 
been urged not a little by the arguments of Niccolo 
Machiavelli, his secretary-of-state, who had now served 
the Florentine Republic with devoted skill for the past 
fourteen years. Acting under Machiavelli's advice, 
Soderini now permitted the enrolment of a force of local 
militia, and also gave orders for the strengthening of all 
fortresses, whilst he boldly thrust into prison some twenty- 



84 THE MEDICI POPES 

five prominent supporters of the Medicean faction, who 
were already agitating noisily for the return of their 
patrons. Having taken measures so decided and alert, 
the Gonfalionere, convoking the Grand Council of the 
city, amidst breathless silence addressed his fellow-citizens 
in a speech, which for pure patriotism, sound reasoning 
and personal unselfishness must ever confer honour upon 
the speaker, and to some extent redeem his fixed reputa- 
tion for incompetence and sloth. After expressing his 
readiness to resign the office of Gonfalionere, Soderini 
warned all loyal upholders of the Republic against re- 
admitting the Medici within their walls, even in the guise 
of private citizens. For true citizens they could no 
longer be, he clearly explained, since after so many 
years of absence from civic life and of residence in foreign 
courts, they had been transformed into princes, even 
assuming they had been private persons at the time of 
their expulsion nearly twenty years before. And this 
remark would apply with special force to the young 
Lorenzo de' Medici, the heir of the family, who, having 
been an infant at that date, could not therefore possibly 
remember any of the traditions of his House, but would 
of necessity behave like a tyrant of the type of a Benti- 
voglio or a Gonzaga, relying not upon the public love 
and acquiescence in his rule, but upon force of arms and 
the support of the Papacy, which his uncle the Cardinal 
could be trusted to obtain. The Gonfalionere ended his 
oration by solemnly warning his hearers that the times 
and government of Lorenzo il Magnifico, " who was ever 
anxious to cover his real prerogative with a mantle of 
private equality rather than to make an ostentatious 
display of his power," would be reckoned as a golden 
age compared with the open tyranny which his sons and 
grandsons would inaugurate, were they admitted into the 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 85 

city. "It therefore becomes your duty," were his last 
words, "now to decide, whether I am to resign my office 
(which I shall cheerfully do at your bidding), or whether 
I am to attend vigorously to the defence of our fatherland, 
if you desire me to remain." 1 

The patriotic and sensible arguments used by Soderini 
were received with enthusiasm by his audience, and even 
by the mass of the citizens, who were distinctly averse 
to a Medicean restoration. For a time the united 
determination of the Florentines to resist any attempt 
at invasion was manifest and genuine, whilst the work 
of defence, already begun in the early summer, was 
being pushed forward with feverish alacrity, chiefly under 
the supervision of Machiavelli. But although Machiavelli 
was perhaps the greatest genius of his age and whole- 
hearted in his endeavours to defend his fatherland, yet 
his talents shone rather in the theoretical than in the 
practical art of warfare. He could give excellent advice 
on paper as to strategy and training, but as a civilian 
pure and simple he was scarcely competent to undertake 
those more laborious tasks, which necessarily belong to 
the peculiar province of skilled generals and engineers. 
Unlike his great fellow-citizen Michelangelo, who was 
destined seventeen years later to erect the fortifications 
of San Miniato during the siege of Florence, Machiavelli 
was neither architect nor mechanician ; yet it is of 
interest to recall the plain circumstance that on two 
momentous occasions Florence was prepared for defence 
by the devoted efforts of this pair of her most illustrious 
sons. 

The town of Prato with its crumbling brown walls 
1 Guicciardini, Storia d" If aha, lib. xi. 



86 THE MEDICI POPES 

and its black and white striped cathedral-tower, which 
rises so prominent a feature of the fertile and populous 
Val d 5 Arno, stands on the right bank of the rushing 
Bisenzio, and at no great distance from the western 
slopes of Monte Morello. Even to-day Prato retains 
much of its mediaeval appearance, whilst its works of art 
by Donatello and the Robbias, and also Lippo Lippi's 
glorious frescoes in the cathedral-choir, attract yearly 
many visitors to the prosperous little city that stands 
in the midst of a fruitful Tuscan landscape. Situated 
within eight miles of Florence, this place had long shared 
the political fortunes of its more important neighbour, 
and it was familiar to Giovanni de' Medici, who in the 
past had been \\spropost 0> or nominal protector, although 
his first visit hither, undertaken nearly twenty years ago, 
had been attended by a melancholy accident of a type 
common enough in those days of elaborate pageants. 
A triumphal arch, placed above the Florence gate of the 
town and intended to represent some allegorical scene, 
had suddenly collapsed on the young Cardinal's approach, 
so that two pretty children, dressed as welcoming angels, 
fell to the ground and perished miserably in the wreck- 
age : an unforeseen catastrophe which quickly changed 
the festal aspect of the town into one of universal mourn- 
ing. 1 The Pratesi now, on hearing of the advance of 
Cardona's army bearing in its ranks their late protector, 
their <4 Dolce Pastore," as certain poets had designated 
him, recalled to mind this long-passed event, and drew 
an evil augury from the near presence of the Cardinal. 
Nor were the good people deceived in their dismal 
prognostications, although the Florentine Signory had 
hastened to pour thousands of troops within their walls, 

1 Nardi, Istorie Florentine, lib. v. 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 87 

since it was openly known that Cardona, deeming his 
artillery too weak and his men too exhausted to attack 
Florence itself, was meditating an assault upon Prato, 
where he could at least obtain the means of victualling 
his famished troops. The first effort of the Spaniards 
resulted in complete failure, due rather to a lack of 
cannon than to any skill on the part of Luca Savelli, 
the Florentine commander ; but the second assault, 
made from the direction of Campi on the afternoon of 
2 Qth August, succeeded with an ease which astonished all 
who witnessed the operations. Battering down with 
the Cardinal's two pieces of cannon a portion of the 
wall near the Mercatale gate, the Spaniards rushed into 
the breach almost unopposed ; the Tuscan militia bands, a 
mere rabble of armed peasants that Machiavelli had levied 
for the defence, flying like frightened sheep before the 
onslaught of Cardona's veterans. Thereupon followed 
an indescribable scene of confusion, plunder and massacre, 
the awful effects of which have not been forgotten to 
this day in unhappy Prato, " where, rightly or wrongly, 
the name and memory of Giovanni de' Medici, Pope 
Leo X. will for ever be associated with the blood 
and tears of its citizens "- 1 For nearly two days the 
Sack of Prato of impious recollection raged unchecked. 
Neither age nor sex was spared by the ferocious soldiery, 
who were said, though probably without truth, to have 
included a large number of Moslem mercenaries. No 
quarter was granted either to peaceful merchant or to 
fleeing peasant ; priests were struck down at the altar ; 
the crucifix, and even the Host were insulted ; the 
churches were plundered ; and the famous shrine of 
the Cintola, the Madonna's girdle, which is the historic 

1 Baldanzi, Storia della Chiesa Cattedrale di Prato. 



88 THE MEDICI POPES 

relic of Prato, is said to have escaped depredation only 
by means of a timely miracle that terrified its would-be 
devastators. 1 Monasteries were set on fire, and their 
inmates stabbed or beaten ; the very convents were 
invaded by the licentious soldiery. "It was not a 
struggle, but sheer butchery," comments the historian 
Nardi ; " it was an appalling spectacle of horrors," de- 
clares the unemotional Machiavelli, whose hastily -levied 
militia had in no small degree contributed by cowardice 
and inexperience to the disaster itself. To add to the 
terrors of the scene, a fearful thunderstorm with torrents 
of rain raged all night over the town, so that the 
fiendish work of destruction and outrage was rendered 
yet more easy, and any attempt at keeping order was 
thereby rendered impossible. " The place was a verit- 
able pool of blood," writes a contemporary chronicler ; 
and indeed, when we take into account the small area 
of the town and the mass of soldiery suddenly admitted 
within the narrow compass of its walls, it becomes easy 
to understand so terrible, if exaggerated a description, 
especially on hearing that the number of those who 
perished in the sack of Prato has been estimated at so 
high a figure as 5000 persons. 

With the dawn of 3Oth August, the work of massacre 
and rapine was continued with renewed force. By the 
clearer light of day persons of every rank in life and of 
either sex were dragged from sanctuary or hiding-place, 
and after the application of rough and ready forms of 
torture (said to be a characteristic of the Spanish troopers) 
to enable their captors to discover the whereabouts of 
their supposed hoards, the unhappy victims were brutally 
slain and their bodies stripped before being flung into the 

1 Archivio Storico Italiano, vol. i. : "II Miserando Sacco di Prato," 
di Messer Jacopo Modesti. 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 89 

streets. Every well in the town was choked with naked 
corpses, and the walls of the Cathedral still bear to-day 
an inscription alluding to this horrible phase of the sack 
of Prato. After a day and a night of unsurpassed carnage 
and cruelty, the Viceroy Cardona made his state entry 
into the town, and at once gave the order for the booty 
to be sold at public auction ; " O Dio ! O Dio ! O Dio ! 
che crudelta ! " is the dismal comment of an eye-witness, 
one Pistofilo, a secretary in the train of Ippolito d' Este. 1 
The part played by the Cardinal and his brother in 
the events leading up to the sack of Prato has been 
censured in the severest terms by a modern Italian 
historian. "The Medici," declares with indignation the 
late Cesare Guasti, " descended upon the confines of their 
own fatherland (shameful to relate !) in the rear of a 
foreign army ; whilst the Cardinal, making use of his 
legatine powers, actually obtained at Bologna for this 
force the very cannon which were to open the fatal breach 
in the walls of Prato. As Cardinal- Legate he tolerated 
all the horrors committed at the sack of the town, even 
the very outrages upon persons and places devoted to 
religion." 1 That the Medici were responsible for this 
invasion of Florentine territory by a foreign force, there 
can be no question of doubt, for, as we have already shown, 
Cardona was loth to move southward, and but for the 
Cardinal's gold and arguments would never have done 
so at all. To this extent, it may be at once frankly ad- 
mitted, the Medici were directly answerable for the ensu- 
ing capture and sack of Prato, which had refused to 
capitulate at the joint request of the Cardinal- Legate and 

1 // Sacco di Prato e il Ritorno del Medici in Firenze nel MDXII. 
A collection of documents and poems edited by Cesare Guasti 
(Bologna, 1880). 

2 Ibid., Prefazione. 



9 o THE MEDICI POPES 

of Cardona, or even to supply the invading army with 
the provisions which were so badly needed. But it is 
unreasonable to accuse the Cardinal of directly instigating 
or approving the subsequent sack of the place with its 
attendant brutalities. As a Tuscan, as a prince of the 
Church, and as a human being naturally inclined to 
methods of mercy, it seems inconceivable that Giovanni 
de' Medici could have witnessed otherwise than with 
feelings of shame and indignation the cruel treatment of 
the little city which was itself almost a suburb of his 
native Florence. His real responsibility lay in his hav- 
ing raised a tempest, the fury of which he himself failed 
to foresee, and the progress of which he was absolutely 
powerless to check or even mitigate. But it appears 
illogical to brand as a crime this forcible attempt of the 
exiled Medici to return to their native land, even under 
cover of an alien army, when we take into consideration 
the previous expulsion of the Cardinal and his brothers 
from Florence, their outlawry, the seizure of their private 
estates and the blood-money set on their heads by a 
hostile government. 

" This day (29th August), at sixteen of the clock, the 
town was sacked, not without some bloodshed, such as 
could not be avoided. . . . The capture of Prato, so 
speedily and cruelly, although it has given me pain, 
will at least have the good effect of serving as an example 
and a deterrent to the others. " : Thus writes the 
Cardinal to the Pope on the very day that saw the seizure 
of the town and certain unpleasant features of the sack ; 
but it is evident from the writer's tone that the worst ex- 
cesses had not yet been committed, when Giovanni de' 
Medici was inditing his despatch to Julius II. The pro- 

i, vol. ii., p. 13, note 2. 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 91 

bability is that the Cardinal and his brother Giuliano, on 
hearing of the continuance of the sack and of the abomin- 
able acts of cruelty and sacrilege in the captured town, 
hastened to do what was possible to save the women and 
children from further outrage and the convents from 
spoliation. On the authority of Jovius, the Cardinal, his 
brother and his cousin Giulio did their utmost, " with 
prayers and even with tears," to compel Cardona and his 
officers to safeguard the women and unarmed citizens, so 
that it was due to their frenzied efforts that the Cathedral, 
which was packed with terrified refugees, was protected 
from the fury of the lawless soldiery. In the various 
accounts of contemporary writers, all of them with 
Medicean sympathies, the part played by the Cardinal 
in thus endeavouring to save the honour of the women 
and the lives of the inoffensive burghers, is constantly 
insisted on, and although the phrases used are often 
grossly flattering and the account of the Cardinal's tears 
sounds somewhat unctuous, yet it appears evident that 
the Medici did all they could to alleviate the evils of the 
town, which had thus been made the scapegoat of the 
whole Florentine state for the past ill-treatment of the 
exiled family that was now returning to power and pros- 
perity. 

Di lagrime si bagnia el viso e '1 petto 

El nostro Monsignore, anche il fratello. 

E poi diceva ; " O Cristo benedetto, 

Di rafrenar ti piaccia tal fragello ! 

O Prato mio, da me tanto diletto, 

Come ti veggo far tanto macello ! " 1 

And another poet actually goes so far as to speak 
with a dismal pun of the presence of the Medici as being 
medicina to the ills of the unhappy Pratesi ! Certainly, 
after his election to the papal throne, Leo X. received in 

1 // Sacco di Prato, p. 87. 



92 THE MEDICI POPES 

Rome a deputation from Prato with encouraging words 
of sympathy and expressions of favour, but such promises 
were for one reason or another never carried into effect, 
so that we can scarcely marvel at the evil reputation 
borne by Leo X. and the Medici even at this distance of 
time in the little city that suffered so terribly at the re- 
turn of Lorenzo's two surviving sons. 

The heart-rending reports of the excesses perpetrated 
by the Spanish soldiers, " more cruel than the Devil him- 
self," l and of the rank cowardice displayed by the Tuscan 
regiments, upon which Soderiniand the sanguine Machia- 
velli had relied to preserve the city from invasion, had 
the immediate effect of bringing the Florentines to a full 
sense of their imminent peril. A sack of Prato repeated 
on a gigantic scale in Florence itself was a possible catas- 
trophe to be averted at any price, no matter how costly 
or humiliating to the Republic. With the popular con- 
sent, therefore, the faction of the Palleschi, led by the 
Albizzi, the Strozzi, the Salviati and other families 
favourable to the Medicean cause, was requested to 
arrange for an armistice with the Viceroy Cardona, whose 
bloodthirsty troops were hourly expected to appear at the 
city gates. The terms that had been so scornfully re- 
jected at Barberino were promptly accepted, the Signory 
expressing its willingness to renounce the French alliance ; 
to pay a large indemnity to the Viceroy ; to dismiss 
Soderini from the official post he had held for the past 
nine years ; and most important concession of all to 
re-admit the exiled Medici without reserve. Piero 
Soderini himself, on being approached by the Medicean 
leaders, at once stated his intention of retiring ; where- 
upon he was escorted under a safe-conduct to Siena, 

1 Landucci, p. 323. 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 93 

whence a little later he wisely fled over -sea to Ragusa, 
in order to avoid the clutches of the revengeful Julius. 
In spite of his nerveless rule and mistaken policy, it is 
impossible not to admire poor Soderini's candour and un- 
selfishness ; yet the very qualities on which our modern 
appreciation is based are those which aroused the fierce 
contempt of his brilliant lieutenant, Machiavelli : a 
lasting contempt which found its utterance in the heart- 
less epigram composed in after years at the death of his 
master, the deposed Gonfalionere of Florence, whose 
childlike simplicity seemed only in Machiavelli's eyes to 
render his departed soul worthy to abide in Limbo, the 
bourne of unbaptised infants : 

La notte che mori Pier Soderini, 

L' alma n' ando nell' Inferno alia bocca. 

E Pluto le grido : " Anima sciocca, 

Che Inferno? Va nel Limbo del bambini ! " l 

1 1 is pathetic to reflect that this cruel verse is far better 
known than the stately epitaph upon Soderini's beautiful 
tomb by the Tuscan sculptor Benedetto da Rovezzano, in 
the choir of the Carmelite church in his own Florence, 
which stands but a few yards distant from the little 
chapel that the frescoes of Masaccio have rendered 
famous for all time. 

With the hurried departure of Soderini and the 
signing of the treaty with Cardona, the city was once 
more thrown open to the triumphant Medici after an en- 
forced absence of nearly eighteen years. Nor were 
portents lacking in that superstitious age to give timely 
warning of the return of the Magnificent Lorenzo's sons 
and grandson. Men noted that the French King's shield 
with the golden lilies the lilies of France that Savonarola 

1 (Died Soderini, and that very night 
Down to Hell's portals flew his simple soul ; 
Where Pluto cried : "Not here, O foolish sprite, 
Canst thou remain. Of babes we take no toll ! " ) 



94 THE MEDICI POPES 

always wished to unite with the crimson^T^/z of Florence 1 
had mysteriously fallen to ground during the night- 
time, and that a thunderbolt had struck the crest of the 
palace of the Signory, passing through the very chamber 
of the Gonfalionere and finally burying itself in the pave- 
ment near the foot of the grand staircase. 2 The heavens 
themselves seemed to be fighting on behalf of the illus- 
trious wanderers, who were now daily expected to return 
to the city, which their presence alone appeared likely to 
save from the ruin that had lately overtaken little Prato. 
Already masons and painters were busily engaged in re- 
storing the escutcheons of the family that had been 
pulled down by the mob in 1494, or in erasing the crimson 
cross, the heraldic emblem of the Florentine people, which 
had in certain instances replaced the familiar coat of gold 
with its red pellets, the historic palle of the Medicean 
House. And the sight of this hasty transformation of 
the Cardinal's armorial bearings on the old palace in Via 
Larga so affected a worthy citizen belonging to the 
faction of the Pallescki, by the name of Gian-Andrea 
Cellini, that, being of a poetical turn of mind although 
only an ebanista or inlayer of ivory and wood by pro- 
fession, he set himself to compose a quatrain suitable to 
the occasion, which, so we learn on the authority of his 
son Benvenuto, was quoted by the whole of Florence : 

Quest' arme, che sepolta e stata tanto 
Sotto la Santa Croce mansueta, 
Mostra or la faccia gloriosa e lieta, 
Aspettando di Pietro il sacro ammanto. 3 

1 " Gigli con gigli sempre devono fiorire." 

2 Jovius, lib. ii. 

3 Vita di Benvenuto Cellini, lib. i., cap. i. 

(This glorious shield, concealed for many a year 
Beneath the sacred Cross, that symbol meet, 
Raises once more a joyful face to greet 
Peter's successor, who approaches near.) 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 95 

The gist of this simple little epigram must have ap- 
peared obvious to all its readers. The father of the 
prince of jewellers, then a lad in his twelfth year, thus 
artlessly predicts the supreme honour which in the near 
future awaits the Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, now 
tarrying outside the gates of the city before advancing 
to occupy again the grand old mansion that had been his 
birthplace. 

Meanwhile Giuliano had already passed the walls on 
ist September and taken up his abode in the house of 
Messer Francesco degli Albizzi, one of his keenest sup- 
porters. Nevertheless, deeming that as a matter of 
course he had returned to the old palace in Via Larga, 
the fickle Florentine crowd must needs parade the broad 
space before the palace doors to cry aloud, Palle ! Palle f in 
the hope of attracting the attention and gaining a glimpse 
of the returned prince. Giuliano, however, on his part ap- 
peared most anxious to avoid all such public manifesta- 
tions, for he proceeded to walk with his friends unguarded 
about the streets, after first donning the lucco or long 
citizen's hood and shaving off beard and moustache in 
accordance with Florentine taste. So far as he was 
personally concerned, Giuliano was willing and even 
desirous to settle down as a private individual in his 
native city, where his courteous manners and innate 
modesty soon won him the affection of all save the more 
ardent members of his own party. But his liberal views 
were by no means shared by his elder brother, the 
Cardinal, who was absolutely determined to secure the 
re-instatement of the Medici in Florence beyond the 
possibility of another expulsion similar to that of 1494. 
Prompt measures, the Cardinal was convinced, must be 
taken at the present moment, when the support of 
Cardona's army lay at his back ; for, realising Giuliano's 



96 THE MEDICI POPES 

pliable nature and the young Lorenzo's utter inexperi- 
ence, he was fully aware that this unique opportunity 
might yet be wasted, and the proud position held in suc- 
cession by his father, his grandfather and his great-grand- 
father, might again be wrested from his House on the 
coming retirement of the Spaniards. Amidst wild scenes 
of enthusiasm, therefore, on the part of the more eager of 
the Palleschi, who were quick to recognise their true 
leader in the Cardinal- Legate rather than in the gracious 
and liberal-minded Giuliano, the second son of the 
Magnificent Lorenzo entered the city by the Faenza 
Gate with 400 Spanish lances and 1000 foot-soldiers, 
under the command of Ramazotto, a roving captain for 
whose head the Florentine Signory had only a few 
weeks before offered blood-money merely on account of 
his seeking service under the Medici. 1 Taking posses- 
sion in state of his former residence at Sant' Antonio, 
which the rabble had pillaged and whence as a boy of 
eighteen he had fled for his life in the dingy garb of a 
friar, thus did Giovanni de' Medici once more re-enter 
Florence as her undisputed master and the arbiter of 
her fate. "The city was reduced to the point of help- 
lessness save by the will of the Cardinal de' Medici, and 
his method was the method of complete tyranny," wails 
Francesco Vettori, when two days after his arrival at 
Sant' Antonio, Giovanni, making an ingenious use of the 
attendant Spanish army, contrived to replace the late 
system of administration by a Balia, or executive 
council, consisting of forty-five members all chosen by 
the Cardinal and all therefore devoted adherents of the 
Medici. Skilled in the peculiar diplomacy of his father 
and well versed in the traditions of his House, which 

1 Landucci, p. 321. 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 97 

always sought the substance rather than the pomp of 
power, the Cardinal was yet able to accomplish this in- 
ternal revolution without bloodshed and without flagrant 
violation of the old republican forms ; and thus the Balia, 
arranged and erected by Giovanni de' Medici, continued 
the true source of political power in Florence until the 
third and last exodus of the Medicean family in 1527. 
Nor did the victorious Cardinal disdain to make use of 
the smaller arts in winning popular applause and acqui- 
escence in his restored rule, for he organised costly 
masquerades to tickle the people's fancy, causing the old 
Carnival ditties, against which Savonarola had waged 
so fierce a war, to be sung once more in the streets, 
as in the long-past days of the Magnificent Lorenzo. 
These efforts to revive the dormant spirit of Florentine 
merriment were chiefly carried out under the auspices of 
the two newly established societies of the Diamond and 
the Broncone, or Bough, so named from the emblems as- 
sumed respectively by Giuliano and Lorenzo de' Medici. 
Emblematic heraldry being the fashion of the day, the 
prudent Giovanni himself did not despise the use of a 
personal badge, which might afford all men a clue to 
his intentions and ideas, and accordingly he selected the 
device of an ox-yoke inscribed with the single word 
Suave, in allusion to the significant circumstance that, 
however firmly fixed his rule might be over the Floren- 
tines, yet " his yoke was easy and' his burden was light". 1 
But it is impossible to dwell further on the numberless 
incidents that mark the restoration of the Medici in 1512, 
a most important episode in Florentine history, of which 
the future Leo X. is at once the presiding genius and the 
picturesque figure-head. For, apart from the diplomatic 

1 Scipione Ammirato, Ritratti de Medici (Opuscoli, vol. iii.). 
7 



98 THE MEDICI POPES 

skill exhibited by him throughout this critical period and 
the careful steps whereby he secured the political triumph 
of his House without seriously offending public opinion, 
it is necessary also to record the remarkable clemency 
which as conqueror he displayed towards the city that 
had so ignominiously, not to say unjustly, expelled and 
outlawed him in his youth. Such mild treatment goes 
to prove, if any further proof were needed, the real affec- 
tion which Leo X. bore towards Florence, as well as his 
natural inclination to mercy, a quality of which his con- 
temporaries so often speak with admiration. And when 
we reflect upon the all-pervading spirit of fury and venge- 
ance of those times, and call to mind the innumerable 
acts of bloody retribution wrought in that same spirit, it 
becomes impossible for any impartial person to withhold 
praise for the forbearance, the patience and the kindli- 
ness of a prince who had at last regained possession of 
a rebellious and ungrateful city after so many years spent 
in undeserved poverty and exile. 

As the actual, though not officially recognised head 
of the Florentine state, the Cardinal now gave audience 
to the papal datary, Lorenzo Pucci, and to other am- 
bassadors, including the powerful Bishop Lang, whom 
he entertained at the family villa of Caffagiolo, where so 
much of his own childhood had been spent. But fate 
did not intend the Cardinal's personal guardianship of 
Florence to be of long duration, for shortly after the ex- 
posure of Boscoli's abortive plot, which only served to 
rivet yet more firmly the new-forged Medicean fetters, 
there arrived in February, 1513, news first of the illness 
and then of the death of Pope Julius, who expired on the 
twentieth day of that month. Despite the fact that he 
was suffering severely from a constitutional malady and 
in consequence appeared unequal to bear the fatigues of 



RETURN OF THE MEDICI TO FLORENCE 99 

the tedious journey to Rome, the Cardinal hastily made 
arrangements for the government of the city in his ab- 
sence, and was then conveyed southward in a litter in 
order to assist at the coming conclave. Men nodded 
their heads and speculated as to the prospects of the 
Florentine Cardinal's election, for notwithstanding his 
comparative youth and his precarious health, Giovanni 
de' Medici had by sheer force of talent combined with 
patient statecraft already won back Florence ; and now 
that the Medicean star was once again in the ascendant, 
not a few persons were ready to predict that as one of the 
ablest, the noblest born and the most popular members 
of the Sacred College, the second son of Lorenzo the 
Magnificent owned an excellent chance of obtaining the 
supreme honour of Christendom, so as to complete the 
recent triumph of his illustrious House, which had at 
last recovered its old prestige and importance in the 
polity of Italy. 



CHAPTER V 
LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 

Cette Europe des premieres armies de la XVIme siecle, 
laboure'e par la guerre, decimee par la peste, ou toutes les nationalites 
de 1'Europe intermediare s'agitent en cherchant leur assiette sous 
1'unite apparent de la monarchic universelle de 1'Espagne ; ou Ton 
voit d'un meme coup d'ceil des querelles religieuses et des batailles, 
une melee inou'ie des hommes et des choses, une religion naissante 
en lutte de violence avec la religion etablie, Fignorance de 1'Europe 
occidentale se debattant contre la lumiere de 1'Italie : 1'antiquite 
qui sort de son tombeau, les langues mortes qui renaissent, la grande 
tradition litteraire qui vient rendre le sens des choses de 1'esprit a 
des intelligences perverties par les raffinements de la dialectique 
religeuse ; du fracas partout ; du silence nulle part : les hommes vivant 
comme les pelerins et cherchant leur patrie ca et la ; une republique 
litteraire et chretienne de tous les esprits eleves, reunis par la langue 
Latine, cette langue qui faisait encore toutes les grandes affaires de 
1'Europe a cette epoque ; d'epouvantables barbaries a cote d'un 
precoce e'le'gance des moeurs ; une immense melee militaire, religieuse, 
philosophique, monacale (M. Nisard, Renaissance et JKeforme). 

IT affords some satisfaction to recall that the last days 
of Pope Julius were marked by edifying conduct, 
and that he prepared for his approaching end with 
a calm dignity well befitting the august office he held. 
Summoning the Consistory to assemble a few days prior 
to his agony, the aged Pontiff, stretched on the sick-bed 
whence he was fated never to rise, despatched a peremp- 
tory message to his cardinals to refrain from all simony 
or bribery at the coming election of his own successor ; 
he lamented the defection of the rebellious Carvajal and 
Sanseverino, yet as a man he would not refuse them his 



IOO 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 101 

final blessing, although as Pontiff he was denouncing their 
late secession in terms of withering hate ; he spoke also 
of Christ's Church, with complacency designating himself 
a miserable sinner and an unworthy vice-regent, who 
had however consistently striven for the true interests of 
the Holy See. To the last the dying Pope continued 
to utter imprecations against the French and the obdu- 
rate Alfonso of Ferrara, whose fall he had been so anxious 
to accomplish ; the cry of " Fuori ! Fuori ! Barbari ! " 
(Out of Italy, ye Barbarians !) still issued from the cracking 
lips in the frequent attacks of feverish delirium, and his 
wondering attendants sometimes imagined that these 
half-conscious threats were levelled not only at the dis- 
comfited Gaul, but also at the favoured Spaniard, whose 
sword the bellicose Pontiff had not scrupled to utilise in 
his late campaigns. At length the constant flow of hazy 
invective ceased, and the old man passed away peace- 
fully, the news of his death provoking an outburst of 
genuine grief in Rome, the like of which had not been 
seen within the memory of living man, and which seems 
to have astonished the decorous Paris de Grassis, the 
papal master of ceremonies, to whom Julius had long 
since given explicit instructions as to the decent disposal 
of his corpse. Loud were the lamentations of the Roman 
populace, which was traditionally expected to curse a 
pontiff when dead, however much it may have cringed 
to him during life ; tears were falling on all sides ; women 
with dishevelled hair were weeping like children at the 
gates of the Vatican ; the crowd struggled fiercely to 
kiss the papal feet which according to ancient custom 
were made to protrude outside the enclosing grille of the 
mortuary chapel. Uomo terribile, Julius was vaguely 
accounted a patriot by the short-sighted Italians, who 
totally failed to recognise in this papal scourge of the 



102 THE MEDICI POPES 

hated foreigner the true consolidator of the temporal 
power of the Papacy. No, it was the grand Pontiff, now 
lying in state before them, who had chased the invading 
French back across the Alps ; that was all men cared to 
remember at the last hour of Julius. 

Considered solely as a secular prince and judged by 
the standard of his own turbulent age, Julius certainly 
shines as a monarch who was guided by definite and 
high-minded principles rather than by pure self-interest 
for himself or for some less worthy brother or nephew. 
He had continued the policy of the Borgia, it is true, 
but all his exertions had been made to strengthen the 
Holy See, of which he had always deemed himself but 
the temporary guardian, and not to found a principality 
for some kinsman. For with the sole exception of the 
little town of Pesaro, all the hard-won conquests of 
the late Pope had gone to swell that papal empire, which 
Julius considered absolutely essential for the proper 
maintenance and autonomy of himself and his successors. 
So far then as he is the acknowledged founder of the 
States of the Church, Julius appears as a disinterested 
and even patriotic conqueror. But if, on the other hand, 
we turn to criticise his career from a moral standpoint, 
regarding him (as he doubtless regarded himself) as the 
Vicar of Christ, the vice-regent of the Prince of Peace, 
what language can be found adequate to convey an 
opinion of the violent old man who deliberately embroiled 
all the princes of Europe, and deluged his own unhappy 
country with blood, all for the sake of a few coveted 
towns and fortresses ? Fire and sword, rapine and 
starvation, these are the characteristics of the reign of 
Julius II., who nevertheless expired perfectly contented 
with the results of his blood-stained pontificate and 
utterly unconscious of the mischief he had wrought or the 




GIULIANO DELLA ROVERE (JULIUS II) 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 103 

Divine laws he had broken. " He was so great that 
he might be accounted an Emperor rather than a Pope ! " 
remarks the half-admiring Francesco Vettori ; whilst 
Guicciardini, the Livy of his age, who after Machiavelli 
ranks as its pervading genius, expresses more forcibly 
his private opinion concerning the famous Warrior-Pope. 
" Only those who have abandoned the art of plain 
speaking and have lost the habit of right thinking extol 
this Pontiffs memory above that of his predecessors. It 
is such persons who declare it to be the Pope's duty to 
add territory to the Apostolic See by force of arms and 
spilling of Christian blood, rather than to occupy him- 
self in setting a good example, in correcting the general 
decay of morals and in trying to save the souls for whose 
sake Christ has made him His vicar on earth." But 
far more illuminating than a score of dissertations upon 
the morality and aims of Julius II. is an inspection of 
Raphael's splendid portrait of this Pope, 2 which hangs in 
the Pitti Palace at Florence. 3 The Umbrian artist, it is 
needless to relate, has depicted his subject in a most 
favourable attitude. Exhausted and anxious, the old 
man sits wearily in the broad high-backed chair, his be- 
jewelled hands clinging for support to the framework 
and his bearded chin sunk languidly upon his breast. 
Physically he is resting, but his quick mind, the painter 
clearly shows us, is still at work, for the Pope's brain was 
ever teeming with the many grandiose schemes which 
only the natural term of years forbade him to accomplish. 
It is a moment of necessary repose, but merely the repose 

1 Storia d 1 Italia, lib. xi. 

2 The original cartoon, of more interest than the painting itself, 
is preserved in the Corsini Palace in Florence. 

3 The National Gallery of London possesses a fine replica of this 
celebrated portrait. 



io 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

of a quiescent volcano that is ready at any minute to 
burst into fierce flames of passion or invective. Perhaps 
this fascinating likeness has performed better service to 
the memory of the irascible Julius than all the arguments 
of his apologists. The venerable countenance, distin- 
guished by "the natural foliage of the face" (as the 
courtly Valeriano named this novelty of a papal beard), 
the nervous supple hands, the crimson velvet vestments, 
the air of profound reflection, all appeal strongly to 
posterity on behalf of the Warrior-Pope, for they produce 
an undeniable effect of real majesty and of lofty medita- 
tion. Julius was not without his virtues, but these, as 
we have tried to explain, were more than balanced by 
his defects ; yet here in Raphael's admirable picture of 
the Pontiff, the virtues alone are apparent, the vices are 
not perceptible. The unrestrained temper, the vulgar 
peasant's suspicion, the coarseness, the indifference to 
suffering are not suggested on the canvas : only the 
grandeur of the Pope's conceptions and his stately 
presence are exhibited to our scrutiny. Magnificent as 
it undoubtedly is as a masterpiece of the great painter, 
yet Raphael's portrait of Julius II. does not afford so 
perfect a mirror of the mind as does his likeness of Leo 
X., which also adorns the collection of the Pitti Palace. 
Strange it is that both these glorious portraits of the two 
greatest of the Popes of the Renaissance, who represent 
respectively the selfish violence and the pagan culture of 
that brilliant epoch, should thus finally be placed side by 
side in a Florentine gallery, where "all the world in 
circle " can pass by and draw its own conclusions of the 
character and worth of each from the pictures of the 
divine artist of Urbino. 

There were only twenty-four cardinals in Rome 
ready to assemble in the ensuing conclave. On the 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 105 

morning of 4th March, therefore, all these attended the 
customary mass of the Holy Spirit, which owing to the 
dilapidated state of St. Peter's had to be sung in the 
adjacent chapel of St. Andrew instead of at the high 
altar. Through the chinks and crevices of the tottering 
walls the stormy winds of March shrieked and wailed, 
whilst the acolytes were kept busily employed in relight- 
ing the tapers on the altar, which the tempest would not 
permit to burn steadily. After this ceremony, of necessity 
shorn of its usual splendour, the cardinals entered the 
building, which according to the prescribed rule had 
every door locked and every window hermetically sealed, 
so that it is easy for us to comprehend how dreaded an 
ordeal a conclave always seemed to the older and feebler 
members of the Sacred College. 

Giovanni de' Medici, who on account of a terrible 
ulcer had been compelled to travel in a litter all the way 
from Florence to Rome, did not reach the conclave until 
6th March, arriving in such a state of pain and exhaustion 
that it was evident to all that the immediate attendance 
of a surgeon was imperative. A certain Giacomo of 
Brescia, 1 who had gained a high reputation for his medical 
skill, chanced to be in Rome at this moment, and he 
was accordingly admitted within the carefully guarded 
portals of the building, where he operated with success 
upon the suffering Cardinal, who for some days remained 
too ill to leave his bed, whilst his colleagues were still 
wrangling and scheming over their choice of a new Pope. 
At length on the seventh day of discussion, the guardians 
of the conclave, in order to bring to a point the delibera- 
tions of the cardinals, decided to reduce the daily meal 
of the princes of the Church to one solitary dish, and this 

1 His house, a good specimen of Renaissance architecture, is still 
standing in the Borgo Nuovo near St. Peter's. 



106 THE MEDICI POPES 

parsimonious diet combined with the stifling air of their 
present abode at last produced an universal desire in the 
imprisoned members of the College to select a Pontiff 
speedily, if only as a means of escape from the foul 
atmosphere and the scanty supply of food. The elder 
members of the conclave had now tired of their persist- 
ent but unavailing efforts on behalf of Cardinal Alborese, 
whilst the younger faction was joined by Raffaele Riario, 
cousin of the late Pope, who had originally aspired to the 
tiara himself but was beginning to realise the hopelessness 
of his secret ambition. Meanwhile the younger cardinals, 
and especially a clique formed of such as belonged to 
reigning houses, like Louis of Aragon, Ghismondo 
Gonzaga of Mantua, Ippolito d' Este of Ferrara and 
Alfonso Petrucci of Siena, were most eager to elect one 
of their own rank and ideas. They were heartily sick 
of the late Pontiffs savage wars with their attendant 
horrors and fatigues ; they were still smarting from the 
sharp reproofs and lectures of the rough Ligurian peasant 
who had been their master ; and they were consequently 
most anxious to obtain a Pope who should appear in 
every way the exact opposite of Julius II. in birth, 
manners and principles. Now, there was no one of their 
number answering better to this description than Giovanni 
de' Medici, who was the son of a sovereign, was a 
cultured man of letters and was credited with peaceful 
proclivities. Medici was likewise the most popular 
member of the Sacred College, wherein he did not 
possess a single enemy, if we except Francesco Soderini, 
brother of the recently expelled Gonfalionere of Florence, 
yet even in this solitary instance of real enmity, opposition 
was removed through the tactful machinations of Bernardo 
Dovizi, now serving as Medici's secretary in the conclave, 
who contrived to placate the hostile Florentine Cardinal 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 107 

by hinting at a possible matrimonial alliance between the 
young Lorenzo de' Medici and a daughter of the rival 
House of Soderini. Those engaging manners and 
studied efforts to please, which Medici had always culti- 
vated so assiduously, had in fact endeared him to all 
his companions in the College, whereof, though com- 
paratively still a young man, he had been a member for 
twenty-four years and had participated in four papal 
elections. The proposal of Medici's name therefore as 
being papabile, or worthy of the tiara, was received with 
general satisfaction, and now that the adhesion of both 
Riario and Soderini had been gained by the young 
Cardinal's supporters, his election became a foregone con- 
clusion. On i ith March the formal scrutiny took place, 
whereat Medici himself, as senior Deacon, had to record 
and count the votes cast into the urn. A true son of 
Lorenzo the Magnificent, the Pontiff elect showed in his 
face and manner no trace of triumph or pleasure whilst 
thus employed : a circumstance which afforded great satis- 
faction to his colleagues. With perfect calm the new 
Pope received the proffered homage of his late peers, 
and on being requested to announce the pontifical title 
which he intended to assume, Medici replied with modest 
hesitation that he would prefer to be known as Leo X., 
provided the Sacred College approved of this selection 
of a name. The title indeed caused some surprise, as 
coming from one to whom the epithet clemens or pins 
might have been deemed more appropriate ; nevertheless, 
the cardinals, who were doubtless ignorant of Medici's 
hidden reason for preferring so vigorous a title, 1 declared 
their consent, and even went so far as to call it an ideal 
name, which they themselves would have chosen had 

1 See chapter i. 



io8 THE MEDICI POPES 

similar luck befallen them. The formal preliminaries of 
an election being concluded, Alessandro Farnese now 
broke the seals laid upon the shuttered windows over- 
looking the piazza, and thrusting his head through the 
aperture, in a loud voice announced the welcome intelli- 
gence to the expectant crowd below in the usual set 
terms: " Gaudium magnum nuntio vobis! Papam 
habemus, Reverendissimum Dominum Johannem de 
Medicis, Diaconum Cardinalem Sanctae Mariae in 
Domenica, qui vocatur Leo Decimus!" (I bring you 
tidings of great joy ! We have a Pope, the most 
Reverend Lord, Giovanni de' Medici, Cardinal Deacon 
of Santa Maria in Domenica, who is called Leo X. !) 

Thus at the remarkably early age of thirty -seven was 
Giovanni, second son of Lorenzo de' Medici, late tyrant 
of Florence, elevated under the happiest of auspices to 
the highest dignity in all Christendom. For although 
the conclave of 1513 cannot be accounted free from in- 
trigue, yet it appears in striking contrast with most of the 
papal elections that had preceded it. Nor was there 
any suspicion of bribery in Medici's case, unless Bibbiena's 
successful attempt to win over the reluctant Soderini can 
be considered as such ; broadly speaking, the choice 
made was spontaneous, and one that relied solely on the 
merits and position of the person selected. Malicious 
rumour certainly hinted that the support of Riario and 
the older cardinals had been gained in their full belief 
that Medici, despite his youthful years, was not likely to 
survive his newly acquired dignity any great length of 
time, since he was in obvious ill-health and suffering, 
even in the conclave, from a painful malady, concerning 
which the accurate Paris de Grassis presents us with a 
mass of minute and revolting details. 1 This prejudiced 

1 Creighton, vol. v. 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 109 

view did not, however, reflect the general opinion of the 
time, nor has it been endorsed by modern historians, 
who are inclined to follow the more kindly criticism of 
Francesco Guicciardini : 

4 'Almost all Christendom heard with the greatest joy 
of the election of Leo the Tenth, and on all sides men 
were firmly persuaded that at last they had obtained a 
Pontiff distinguished above all others by the gifts of mind 
he had inherited from a noble father, and by the reports 
of his generosity and clemency that resounded from all 
quarters. He was esteemed chaste ; his morals were 
excellent ; and men trusted to find in him, as in his 
parent's case, a lover of literature and all the fine arts. 
And these hopes waxed all the stronger, seeing that his 
election had taken place properly, without simony or 
suspicion of any irregularity." 

In Rome itself the election of Leo X. was hailed with 
unfeigned satisfaction, and with exuberant joy in that 
world of letters and culture whereof the late Cardinal de' 
Medici had for many years been regarded as a munificent 
patron. But the expressions of content in the Eternal 
City were mild in comparison with the frantic outburst of 
popular rejoicing, which was now witnessed in Florence, 
the place of the new Pontiff's birth. The momentous 
news from Rome arrived in Florence at two of the clock 
on the Friday following the scrutiny, and when the report 
was officially confirmed, the ecstacy of the Palleschi, now 
of course the ruling party, knew no bounds of reason or 
restraint. The bells were rung madly ; fireworks were 
exploded ; artillery was fired ; and in all the streets bon- 
fires were raised of tar-barrels and brushwood, supple- 
mented in many cases by the household furniture of 
unfortunate citizens suspected of hostility to the Medici. 

1 Storia delF Italia, lib. xi. 



no THE MEDICI POPES 

The shops and dwellings of the poor Piagnoni, the puritan 
followers of Savonarola, were on all sides plundered, 
while in not a few instances the roofs were set alight by 
crowds of Medicean partisans, drunken with wine or 
enthusiasm, and shouting aloud Palle ! and Papa Leone ! 
at the top of their raucous Tuscan voices. The din was 
terrific, and the disorder finally grew so serious, that the 
Florentine Council of Eight, alarmed for the public 
safety, was compelled to issue an order threatening with 
the gallows all persons caught in the act of robbery or 
arson. This Medicean orgy questa pestilenzia, as the 
republican Landucci styles these proceedings endured 
for four days, during which time the whole town resounded 
with festal explosions and reeked with the pungent smoke 
of the bonfires, which the revellers kindled daily before 
the Palazzo Vecchio or in front of the Medicean mansion. 
Other adherents of the Medici regaled the eager crowds 
with sweet wine drawn out of gilded barrels, that had 
been set in rows upon the historic Ringkiera 1 of the 
civic palace. As a final proof of the city's intense joy 
and proud content, a deputation of prominent officials 
fetched from Impruneta the famous statue of the Madonna, 
the palladium of the Florentines, and with the effigy 
gorgeously arrayed in nine new mantles of cloth -of-gold, 
the procession halted before the portals of Casa Medici 
in Via Larga, where food and wine were provided and 
crackers exploded. But in the midst of this bout of 
unrestrained carnival over the novel honour that had 
befallen the city, there were not lacking some sober 
spirits, who were able to discern the dubious advantages 
of a Florentine Pope. "I am not surprised," remarked 
to certain bystanders the shrewd Lomellino, the 

J A stone platform extending along the northern side of the 
palace, long since removed 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS in 

historian of Genoa, who was an amused spectator of these 
scenes of popular rejoicing, "at your present satisfaction, 
since your city has never yet produced a Pope, but when 
you have once gained this experience, as has been 'our 
case in Genoa, you will grow to realise a Pontiffs dealings 
with his native land and the price his fellow-citizens have 
to pay for the honour." 1 

Giovanni de' Medici was, as we have already said, 
only in his thirty-eighth year when he attained to the 
supreme dignity, which one of his father's courtiers, the 
poet Philomus, had predicted for him nearly a quarter 
of a century before; "What joy," had cried the far- 
seeing bard, "will so high an honour afford your beloved 
parent, and what verses will Apollo inspire me to write 
in commemoration of the event ! " 

Eximiumque caput sacra redimire thyara 
Pontificis summi ; proh gaudia quanta parent! 
Turn dabis, et quantis mihi turn spirabit Apollo ! 

In outward appearance the new Pontiff was tall with 
a dignified carriage, despite a stout and unwieldy frame. 
His head was disproportionately large ; his smooth- 
shaven countenance was flushed and unhealthy in hue ; 
whilst his great prominent eyes were so feeble of vision 
that in order to perceive any person or object, no matter 
how familiar, the Pope was obliged to use continually a 
spy-glass, which was rarely absent from his hand. He 
had a short fleshy neck with a pronounced double chin, 
a broad chest and an enormous paunch, with which his 
spindling legs made a curious contrast. His only claim 
to physical beauty lay in his hands, of which their owner 
was inordinately proud and was frequently to be observed 
examining with artless satisfaction ; they were plump, 

1 Bacciotti, Firenze Illustrata, vol. i., p. 78. 

2 Roscoe, Appendix IX. 



ii2 THE MEDICI POPES 

white and shapely, and usually adorned with rare and 
splendid gems. 1 Unlike his father, whose speech was 
always rasping and singularly unpleasing to the ear, Leo 
was the happy possessor of a soft, persuasive and well- 
modulated voice ; his manner was almost invariably 
courteous and genial, and he had sedulously trained his 
natural gift of tact to the highest degree of perfection, so 
that he could always appear deferential towards his 
elders, and jocular, or even boisterous in the society of 
younger men. As may be gathered from this description, 
the youthful Pope did not enjoy robust health. 2 From 
his early years he had been the victim of a chronic 
infirmity which the ignorant quacks of that age could 
neither cure nor alleviate, and which not only caused him 
perpetual inconvenience and frequent attacks of pain, 
but also at certain times rendered the poor sufferer's 
presence most unpleasant to the friends around him. 
It speaks eloquently for Leo's natural good-nature and 
his acquired habit of self-control, that he never allowed 
this constant source of annoyance to affect his temper, 
which seems to have remained even and suave to the 
last. 

Since Giovanni de' Medici was but a deacon in the 
conclave whence he issued as Pope, with all convenient 
despatch he was ordained priest on I5th March, and 
consecrated bishop two days later, whilst on I9th March 
he was formally enthroned and crowned, the Cardinals 

1 Vita Anonyma Leonis X., Bossi-Roscoe, Appendix CCXVIII. ; 
Jovius, lib. iv. ; Scipione Ammirato, Rittrati de Medici, etc. 

2 Quod ad valetudinem attinet, ulcere quodam quod fistulam 
vocant in inferiore parte corporis quae plurime carne contecta est 
laborabat, eoque interdum graviter cruciabatur; nam cum in- 
tercluderetur plerumque sanies retentaque fluere solita erat, eum 
ita perturbabat ; atque ita de valetudine dejiciebat, ut praeter ulceris 
dolorem febre etiam corriperetur, sed ea brevi solvebatur ( Vita 
Anonyma Leonis X.) 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 113 

Farnese and Louis of Aragon placing the heavy triple 
diadem on his head. For this purpose a pavilion had 
been specially erected on the steps of the dilapidated 
basilica of St. Peter, the facade of which bore in large 
letters of gold an inscription in honour of " Leo the 
Tenth, Supreme Pontiff, Protector of the Arts and 
Patron of Good Works ". The usual ritual of a papal 
coronation was duly carried out in this meagre temporary 
building, and Paris de Grassis describes in his Diary how, 
as master of the ceremonies, he bore in accordance with 
ancient custom to the foot of the throne a rod decorated 
with a bunch of tow, which he ignited with a burning 
taper, and then, whilst the dry flax was being rapidly 
consumed in a sheet of bright flame, addressed the time- 
honoured warning : " Holy Father, thus passeth away 
the glory of this world!" And again, "Thou shalt 
never see the years of Peter," whose traditional reign as 
first Pontiff is said to have endured for twenty-five years. 1 
And yet Leo was but thirty-seven, so that, if he were to 
attain to the ordinary human age-limit of threescore 
years and ten, he would then have exceeded by eight 
summers the great Apostle's tenure of the dignity ; 
nevertheless, the young Pope's indifferent state of health 
rendered such an admonition a salutary warning in the 
midst of all this pomp and worship. 

By ancient precedent it was permitted to the cardinals 
assisting at a papal coronation to present petitions to the 
new master who had been their late colleague, and on 
this occasion Medici's reputation for lavish generosity 
and his dislike of refusal had the effect of giving rise to 

1 Of the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IX. (1846-1878) has exceeded 
" the Years of Peter," as he has himself proudly recorded above the 
Apostle's statue in the nave of the Basilica. Also Leo XIII., whose 
reign occupied twenty-five years (1878-1903). 



n 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

an extraordinary number of requests from the cardinals 
on behalf of themselves, their relations and their innumer- 
able dependants. So boundless were the extent and 
variety of their demands that Leo, half-amused and 
half-disgusted at the audacity of many of their pleas, 
rebuked the unseemly greed of the Sacred College with 
a mild but satirical reproof: " Take my tiara," exclaimed 
the Pontiff to his importunate suppliants, "and act as if 
each one of you were Pope himself! Agree among 
yourselves on what you desire, and take your fill." 1 

For the late ceremonies in the derelict basilica of St. 
Peter there had been small time for preparation and 
smaller scope for splendour. The festivities of Holy 
Week were also close at hand, and in consequence Leo 
was forced to defer the elaborate procession and act of 
public rejoicing on which his heart was set, until the 
occasion of his formal occupation of the historic church 
and palace of the Lateran. The date of this impending 
event therefore the Pope fixed not without secret satis- 
faction for nth April, the first anniversary of the battle 
of Ravenna, which had seen the papal army scattered 
and the present Pontiff a prisoner of the French King. 
This decision afforded Leo an unique opportunity for 
indulging in his inherited taste for splendid pageantry, 
since not only had he the overflowing treasury of the 
thrifty Julius at his disposal, but likewise, as he soon 
perceived, the Roman court and the Roman people 
were setting to work with feverish activity upon pre- 
parations, which were destined to make of Leo's triumphal 
progress across the city of the Caesars and the Popes 
the greatest spectacle of pomp and beauty which even 
that era could produce. But before proceeding to de- 

1 Diary of Paris de Grassis, Bossi-Roscoe, lib. iv., cap. iv., p. 18. 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 115 

scribe in detail this most famous pageant, which marks 
the opening of the Leonine Age, it will be proper for us 
in the first place to give a brief description of the Eternal 
City as it appeared in the year that witnessed the ele- 
vation of the Cardinal de' Medici to the pontifical 
throne. 

If the Florence of our own days has preserved intact 
no small portion of its ancient character, the Rome of 
King Victor-Emmanuel owns few features that were 
prominent within its walls at the date of Leo's election. 
Looking down from the carefully tended gardens of the 
Pincian Hill upon the city spread beneath us, we can 
perceive scarcely a single object which must have been 
familiar to the eyes of the Medicean Pope nearly four 
centuries ago. And yet within the memory of many 
persons living the Eternal City has undergone an almost 
complete transformation of aspect, for the Rome of Pius I X. 
was itself a totally different place from the modern 
capital of United Italy ; so many an ancient landmark 
has been recently swept away, so many obtruding public 
edifices have arisen, and so many hundreds of brand-new 
streets on a stereotyped Parisian model have been 
constructed on all sides. Rome, like a palimpsest, is 
perpetually changing her character, and it is curious to 
reflect that the great spreading capital of to-day could 
hardly appear less strange or bewildering to the con- 
temporaries of Leo X. than would the old papal seat of 
Pio Nono, which so many still love to recall with its 
stately air of repose and its picturesque scenes of ecclesi- 
astical life. Only the Pantheon with its low dome and 
lofty colonnade, the vast circle of the Colosseum and 
certain of the ruined Thermae (and these not a little 
altered or curtailed) survive from one century to another, 
linking the Rome of the Middle Ages, the Rome of the 



n6 THE MEDICI POPES 

sovereign Pontiffs and the Rome of the Italian Kings 
with the imperial city of Augustus and the Antonines. 

A very small portion of the immense area enclosed 
by the irregular ring of mouldering walls was occupied 
by houses in the year 1513, the remainder being covered 
with vineyards, gardens, groves and even with thickets 
of brier and myrtle, so dense that deer and wild boar 
occasionally sought shelter within their recesses. Out 
of this bosky expanse peeped forth at various points the 
forms of ancient churches with delicate arched campanili 
of red brick beside them ; whilst here and there were 
conspicuous huge masses of tawny ruins draped with ivy 
or eglantine that harboured myriads of pigeons, which 
the sportsmen of the city would sometimes shoot or 
snare in idle hours. The classic Forum, known by 
the humble appellation of the Cattle Market (Campo 
Vacchino) ; stretched as a long marshy scrub-covered 
expanse, wherein a few shafts of antique temples still 
rose aloft, but the Via Sacra and the foundations mark- 
ing the heart of the proud city lay hidden beneath a 
crust, some thirty feet in depth, of superincumbent soil 
and rubbish. Beyond the utter desolation of the Roman 
Forum towered the gigantic bulk of the Flavian Amphi- 
theatre, inexpressibly grand in its lonely magnificence 
and with its fabric practically intact, for the evil days of 
Roman vandalism had scarcely begun in earnest. The 
Palatine, the Coelian and the Aventine were but wooded 
hills, dotted ' with a few farms and convents, or with de- 
cayed heaps of ancient buildings, which were now form- 
ing convenient quarries for the architects of the new 
palaces and churches springing up on all sides. The 
Capitol itself with its tall towers and forked battlements 
resting on the Titanic sub-structures of antiquity still 
retained the aspect of a mediaeval fortress which had 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 117 

been bestowed upon it two centuries before by Boniface 
VIII., but the Tarpeian Rock beside it was but a barren 
cliff, as its local name of Monte Caprino the Goat's 
Hill implied. The population of Rome, computed 
at various figures but probably numbering about 60,000 
souls, was chiefly huddled into the narrow space lying 
between the Capitol and the Tiber and into the trans- 
pontine quarter of Trastevere, the denizens of which 
have always affected to boast a pure descent from the 
ancient Romans themselves gli Romani di Roma. 
These two districts together constituted the mediaeval 
town, which was still a maze of dark filthy alleys, inter- 
spersed by churches or palaces. Around the Vatican 
itself was rising a new and splendid quarter of the city, 
with residences for the princes of the Church or for the 
numerous envoys to the papal court, but in the main 
Rome still kept its mean appearance of the Middle Ages. 
The older houses, many of them overhanging the 
muddy Tiber and often entered by means of boats, 
were mostly distinguished by exterior stairways and 
by tall stone turrets, of which a few specimens survive 
to-day. On all sides the fortified ruins, including the 
arches of Constantine, Titus and Severus, bore ample 
testimony to the unsettled and lawless conditions of the 
past, and to the old-time feuds of Orsini and Colonna, 
of Frangipani and Gaetani. 

Standing on the Pincio, then clothed with vines and 
olives, the stranger would at once become aware of the 
absence of that world-famous group of buildings, which 
constitutes the most prominent object in Papal Rome. 
In the room of the great domed church and the far- 
spreading courts of the modern Vatican, there uprose to 
view only the facade of old St. Peter's, and beside it 
the tall form of the Sistine chapel and the Torre Borgia, 



n8 THE MEDICI POPES 

for Alexander VI. had embellished the papal residence, 
and had strengthened the neighbouring Castle of Sant' 
Angelo, 1 which he had joined to the Vatican itself by 
means of a stone gallery of communication, that was 
doomed to play a conspicuous part on more than one 
occasion in the later annals of the secular Papacy. But 
the glittering exterior of the venerable basilica merely 
masked what was in reality a naked ruin, whilst the 
completed portion of the palace was surrounded by a 
trampled wilderness littered with hewn and unhewn 
blocks of stone or marble, and with fine antique columns 
pilfered from the pagan fanes : evidences of the late 
Pontiffs work of demolition and his earnest desire to 
erect a Christian temple, or rather a mausoleum for 
himself, which should exceed in size and splendour every 
structure the world had hitherto beheld. At the extreme 
point east of St. Peter's within the circumference of the 
city walls, rose the second papal palace and the vast 
church of St. John's Lateran, the true cathedral of 
Rome, " the mother and head of all churches on the 
face of the earth," with the famous Baptistery beside it, 
wherein the Emperor Constantine had been made a 
Christian by Pope Sylvester. Once the seat of power 
and magnificence under such Pontiffs as Innocent III. 
and Urban IV., the Lateran had long been abandoned 
as a residence by their successors, who now only cared 
to concentrate their energy and expend their wealth 
upon the rival palace across the Tiber. Yet the 
neglected Lateran still owned a special sanctity and im- 
portance, so that a new Pope's formal procession thither 

1 The Municipality of Rome whether in a fit of moral zeal or 
of childish vandalism, we leave the reader to decide has recently 
effaced all their heraldic bearings from the escutcheons of the Borgia 
Pope on the face of the Castle of Sant' Angelo. 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 119 

was always made the occasion for a solemn display of 
pontifical majesty. At this particular moment also an 
additional interest was afforded by the circumstance 
that the council, recently convoked by Julius and re- 
garded with so many brave hopes by the would-be 
reformers of the Church, was now holding its sittings 
within these very walls, so that Leo's coming visit 
possessed even more significance in men's minds than 
was usually attached to this papal ceremony of the 
Sacro Possesso, or formal entry into the Lateran. 

It was in truth a brilliant opening to the Leonine 
Age, which was fated to prevail in Rome for fourteen 
years with one short interval, and when we contrast the 
scenes of popular delight and extravagance of 1513 with 
the awful yet inevitable catastrophe of 1527, we grow to 
comprehend dimly the close connection between the 
golden days of Leo's reign and the period of shame and 
outrage which was to terminate that glorious epoch under 
the unhappy Clement. Yet no sadness of impending 
disaster, no premonition of future destruction hung over 
the expectant city or the genial Pope, who ever since 
his coronation had been taking an almost child-like 
interest in every detail of the projected pageant, which 
the anxious Paris de Grassis was superintending. At 
length the desired morning broke, warm, sunny and 
balmy, as only a Roman spring-tide can produce, an 
ideal day for an open-air festival, of which the pro- 
gramme was arranged and developed on so grandiose a 
scale " that this spectacular representation of the secular 
Papacy in 1513 has afforded us also the most perfect 
picture of its established splendour". 1 And a truly 
marvellous sight did the Eternal City present on this 

1 F. Gregorovius, vol. vii. 



120 THE MEDICI POPES 

occasion, with every house on the line of procession 
decked with wreaths of laurel and ilex, and with every 
casement displaying rich brocades or velvets of all shades 
of colour, arranged with an exquisite taste for general 
effect. Triumphal arches, many of them real works of 
art in themselves and the invention of the leading 
painters and architects in Rome, had been erected to 
span the streets at various points, for the wealthy 
merchants, headed by the famous Sienese banker, 
Agostino Chigi, were all vying to attract the notice and 
win the praise of their new ruler. Priceless antique 
statues of the pagan gods and goddesses, the prized 
treasures of many a choice collection, had been set in 
niches of these arches, often in incongruous proximity to 
the effigies of Christian martyrs or divinities, amongst 
whom the favourite Medicean saints, St. John the 
Baptist, St. Lawrence and the Arab physicians Cosmo 
and Damiano naturally appeared conspicuous. On all 
sides were to be observed inscriptions, mostly in Latin, 
applauding the new Pontiff and calling down blessing on 
his head ; and fulsome as were many of these eulogies, 
yet there can be no question but that the city of Rome 
was as delighted with Leo at this early period, as the 
Pope himself was overjoyed at the display of all this 
adulation and festal magnificence. Of the numerous 
arches, trophies and obelisks, most people adjudged the 
palm of merit to that reared by Agostino Chigi, whose 
vast income seemed to place him at an advantage over 
other private persons. A wholly unconscious critic of 
his own times, Chigi had likewise placed in letters of 
gold upon the frieze of his eight-columned arch an elegiac 
couplet, comparing the coming reign of the Medicean 
Pontiff to that of Minerva, and naming Leo's two pre- 
decessors as votaries respectively of Venus and Mars : 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 121 

Olim habuit Cypris sua tempera ; tempora Mavors 
Olim habuit ; sua nunc tempora Pallas habet. 1 

To counterbalance Chigi's prophecy of this approaching 
intellectual millenium, the goldsmith Antonio da San 
Marco had either by accident or design inscribed below 
a statue of Aphrodite, an exquisite production of some 
Grecian chisel with which he had adorned his trophy, a 
solitary pentameter, that must have greatly tickled Leo's 
exuberant sense of humour: 

Mars fuit ; est Pallas ; Cypria semper ero. 2 
Many were the flattering sentiments conveyed thus 
to the first Medicean Pope, and many were the anxious 
hopes expressed for a coming period of peace and pro- 
sperity. " Live according to your established piety! O 
live for ever, according to your deserts ! " announced 
another of these inscriptions ; whilst on Cardinal Sauli's 
portico were to be seen verses alluding to the Pontiff's 
supposed horror of the bloodshed wherewith the late 
reign had been so disgracefully stained : 

Non de coesorum numero fusoque cruore, 
Sed de sperata pace trophaea damus. 3 

The entrance to the Capitol bore a motto with a deeper 
and more spiritual meaning: 

Genus humanum mortuos parit, quos Ecclesia vivificat ; 

which served to remind the fortunate Medici of the 
boundless powers conferred by the great Apostle of the 
gold and silver keys upon all his successors. Another 
arch, reared by the delighted Florentine residents of 

1 Venus has fled, and now the War-God's arms 

At last have yielded to Minerva's charms. 

2 Mars is fled, and Pallas reigns, 

Yet Venus still our queen remains ! 

3 Not for slain victims nor for shedding blood 

We rear these trophies, but for future peace. 



122 THE MEDICI POPES 

Rome in grateful honour of their illustrious countryman, 
was distinguished by a medley of Medicean emblems 
and heraldic devices the ring and ostrich plumes of the 
Magnificent Lorenzo, the ox-yoke of the reigning Pontiff, 
the burning branch of the youthful heir of Piero de' 
Medici and the diamond of Giuliano, whilst the address 
upon its architrave recorded the respectful homage of 
his fellow-citizens to "the Ambassador of Heaven". 
In addition to these triumphal erections, the streets had 
been strewn with sprigs of box and myrtle ; improvised 
altars had been set up at several corners, and every door- 
way was festooned with verdant wreaths. The populace 
was wearing festal attire, and in sign of the general quiet 
and sense of security all private persons were forbidden 
to wear swords. Some of the public fountains had been 
made to run with wine instead of water, and the whole 
city prepared itself to enjoy the coming procession with 
a zest and good-humour that had ever been denied to 
the late Pope's set triumphs after his vigorous campaigns. 
First to quit the broad piazza before the Vatican, 
where the huge train was being marshalled, were the 
men-at-arms followed by the households of the cardinals 
and prelates of the court, all richly clad in scarlet. These 
were succeeded by a number of standard-bearers, in- 
cluding the captains of the Rioni, or historic divisions of 
Rome, and after them thundered the cavalcade of the 
five Gonfalonieri, wielders of the more important banners 
connected with the Holy See, conspicuous in their 
number being Giulio de' Medici in the robes and insignia 
of a knight of Rhodes. Behind this group of horsemen 
with their fluttering ensigns was led a string of milk- 
white mules from the papal stables, housed in gorgeous 
trappings, whilst behind them walked over one hundred 
equerries of the court, all of noble birth and clad in gala 



I 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 123 

robes of red fringed with ermine, the hindmost four bearing 
the papal crowns and jewelled mitres upon short staves 
of office. These gave place to a second cavalcade com- 
posed of a hundred Roman barons with historic names, 
each noble being followed by an armed escort of servants 
dressed in their master's livery, prominent amongst them 
being Fabrizio Colonna and Giulio Orsini, who rode 
side by side with clasped hands in sign of present amity 
and of past discord. The notables of Rome were in their 
turn succeeded by a company of the chief citizens of 
Florence Tornabuoni, Salviati, Ridolfi, Pucci, Strozzi 
and the like many of them being related to the Su- 
preme Pontiff, in whose honour all this elaborate pageant 
had been planned. Amidst the gay trains of the Italian 
and foreign ambassadors, pursuing on the heels of the 
Florentine merchant-princes, appeared the form and re- 
tinue of the late Pope's nephew, Francesco Delia Rovere, 
Duke of Urbino, all decorously apparelled in deep 
mourning and making thereby a curious streak of sable 
amidst the glowing uniforms around them. The laity 
having all passed, the clergy now made their appearance 
in due order, escorted by a host of sacristans and pages 
in crimson velvet with silver wands, some of whom 
directed the paces of the palfrey that bore on its back the 
Sacrament in a glittering monstrance, above which Roman 
citizens upheld a canopy of cloth -of-gold. Hundreds of 
priests, lawyers and clerks in flowing robes of scarlet, 
black or violet next passed in review, preparing the way 
for the bishops and abbots to the number of two hundred 
and fifty, after whom advanced the cardinals, each prince 
of the Church bestriding a beautiful steed with trailing 
white draperies and each supported by eight chamber- 
lains. At the head of the Sacred College ambled the 
handsome and haughty Alfonso Petrucci, Cardinal of 



i2 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

Siena, little dreaming in his youthful pride of the ignomi- 
nious fate lying in store for him at no distant date ; whilst 
beside the last cardinal rode the bluff Alfonso d' Este, 
Duke of Ferrara, husband of Lucrezia Borgia and the 
undaunted opponent of the terrible Julius, but now 
obviously an eager suppliant for the good graces of his 
successor. Behind the cardinals and their equipages 
walked discreetly the Conservators of Rome, humble 
representatives of the ancient senators of the former 
Mistress of the World, and close upon their footsteps 
tramped Julius' Swiss body-guard, 1 two hundred strong, 
a corps of picked mountaineers armed with halberds and 
clothed in parti-coloured uniforms of green, white and 
yellow. Last of all rode the Supreme Pontiff himself, 
the author and object of all this magnificence, mounted 
on the white Arab stallion he had ridden on the fatal 
field of Ravenna, which until its death was always re- 
garded by its owner with a degree of affection almost 
amounting to superstitious awe. 2 Draped in snowy 
housings, the beautiful creature, after its paces were 
first tried by the haughty Duke of Ferrara in person, had 
been led by the Duke of Urbino, as Prefect of Rome, 
to the fountain in the centre of the space before St. Peter's, 
where His Holiness with the assistance of his nephew 
Lorenzo de' Medici was adroitly lifted into the saddle. 
Above horse and rider eight Roman citizens of patrician 
rank bore aloft a baldacchino or canopy of embroidered 
silk in order to shield the Sovereign Pontiff from the 
envious rays of the Sun-God, with whom not a few poets 
and courtiers were already beginning to compare the 

1 The present uniform of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican said on 
doubtful authority to have been designed by Michelangelo is com- 
posed of stripes in equal parts of red, yellow and black. 

2 Jovius, lib. iii. 




LEO X RIDING IN STATE 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 125 

fortunate, the resplendent Leo X. Sinking beneath the 
weight of triple tiara and of jewelled cope, the Pontiff 
was nevertheless sustained throughout the tedious length 
of his public progress across the city by the deep sense 
of exalted satisfaction, that was reflected in his broad 
purple face, from which the perspiration ran in streams 
as the result of the unusual exertion beneath a hot April 
sun. With hands in perfumed gloves sewn with pearls, 
the Pontiff continued to bestow blessings at regular inter- 
vals to the cheering crowds, which perhaps appreciated 
even more than the papal benedictions the silver coins 
flung ceaselessly by a pair of chamberlains, who carried 
well-filled money-bags. Led on his favourite white 
steed, with dukes and nobles beside him esteeming it a 
privilege to touch his bridle, Leo proceeded slowly in an 
ecstacy of gratified pride from the piazza of St. Peter's 
towards the bridge of Sant' Angelo. At this point, 
according to the usual custom, the Jews of Rome were 
assembled in order to request in all humility the per- 
mission to reside in the Holy City and also to present a 
copy of the Law ; and as the gorgeous figure in shining 
crown and robes approached, the rabbi meekly stepped 
forward to give the prescribed greeting and to offer the 
volume. * * We confirm your privileges, " replied the Pope, 
opening the proffered scroll, "but we reject your faith ! " 
(Confirmamus sed non consentimus !) and then allowed 
the book of the Law to fall like an accursed thing to the 
ground. 

Turning aside gladly from the group of supplicating 
Hebrews, Leo continued his course towards the Lateran 
along the historic Via Papale, the Pope's Way, doling 
out largesse and giving endless benisons, whilst the whole 
air rung with prolonged cries of Leone ! Leone ! Palle ! 
Palle f From time to time the Pope's features were 



126 THE MEDICI POPES 

seen to relax into a broad smile, as his attendants ex- 
plained to him the gist of certain of the welcoming in- 
scriptions, which his purblind eyes could not decipher ; 
and fatiguing though this prolonged ceremonial must 
have been to one in Leo's indifferent state of health, yet 
the distance between St. Peter's and the Lateran did 
not appear too lengthy to the admiring and admired 
Pontiff, who was thus taking his fill of all the pomps and 
vanities of his age in their most entrancing form, and 
tasting that sweet but seductive draught of popular 
adulation which has affected many a strong brain. 

Arrived before the pile of the Lateran, the Pope dis- 
mounted beside the equestrian statue of the Emperor 
Marcus Aurelius, which then adorned this part of the city. 1 
Tired physically with his late efforts and excitement but 
still unsated with the homage paid him, Leo took formal 
possession of that ancient seat of power, which was so 
intimately connected with the deeds of many illustrious 
predecessors. After the due performance of the rites 
incidental to the Sacro Possesso, there followed a banquet 
in the great hall of the palace, served with all the osten- 
tatious luxury of which the Italian Renaissance was 
capable. The meal ended, the glittering train prepared 
to start homewards in the glowing atmosphere of an 
April sunset. More shouts of applause, more benedic- 
tions, more largesse out of the savings of the frugal Julius 
flung to the expectant rabble, yet when the gloaming 
fell upon the scene and began to dim the brilliant hues of 
the vestments and uniforms, the long papal procession 
had scarcely reached the Campo de' Fiori. Torches and 

1 This famous statue now occupies the most prominent position 
on the Roman Capitol, whither it was moved by Michelangelo under 
Paul III., not without opposition from its owners, the canons of the 
Lateran. 



LEO DECIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 127 

tapers now began to twinkle in every window of the city, 
eclipsing the starlight of the spring evening, and pro- 
ducing a weird but lovely effect upon the returning 
cavalcade. At last even Leo had grown exhausted, so 
that on reaching the gateway of the castle of Sant' 
Angelo, whose vast circular form loomed out black and 
distinct against the star-lit sky, he dismounted to enter 
the castle portals as the guest of young Alfonso Petrucci, 
who was doomed four years later to be strangled by his 
affectionate host's command in a noisome vault below the 
gilded and painted chamber wherein he was now enter- 
taining his master. "In thinking over all the pomp and 
lofty magnificence I had just witnessed," naively records 
the simple Florentine physician Gian-Giacomo Penni in 
his lengthy account of the ceremony which he had evi- 
dently watched with envious eyes, " I experienced so 
violent a desire to become Pope myself, that I was unable 
to obtain a wink of sleep or any repose all that night. 
No longer do I marvel at these prelates desiring so 
ardently to procure this dignity, and I verily believe 
every lacquey would sooner be made a Pope than a 
Prince!" 1 

Thus terminated the supreme pageant that marked 
the happy accession of the first Medicean Pontiff and in- 
augurated with such a burst of splendour those golden 
days of culture and patronage, of license and extrava- 
gance, to which in after years the poets and scholars, who 
had participated in their delights, were wont to refer with 
affectionate regret; even exaggerating the bountiful 

1 The chief account of the Sacro Possesso of Leo X. is derived 
from this letter of Gian-Giacomo Penni, directed to Contessina 
Ridolfi, the Pope's sister, in Florence. Chronicha delle magnifiche et 
honor ate pomp e fatte in Roma per la creatione et incoronatione di Papa 
Leone X. (Bossi-Roscoe, lib. v., pp. 189-231). For another and 
shorter account, see Aless. Luzio, Appendix, Doc. 2. 



128 THE MEDICI POPES 

condescension bestowed upon arts and letters by this 
Papal Maecenas, to those less fortunate aspirants to fame 
and fortune, who had never tasted the joys of the Eternal 
City during the all-too-rapid passing of the Leonine 
Age. 



CHAPTER VI 
MEDICEAN AMBITION 

Cette grande force de Frar^ois ler n'etait pas seulement de cir- 
constance et de situation ; elle etait aussi personelle. Tout reussit a 
la jeunesse, tout lui sourit. . . . Ni Charles VIII., ni Louis XIL, les 
sauveurs predits par Savonarola, n'avaient re'pondu aux exigences de 
rimagination populaire ; Tun petit, mal bati, difforme par sa grosse 
tete ; 1'autre cacochyme, bourgeois, Roi des bourgeois. Celui-ci au 
contraire, beau de race, de fleur de jeunesse, plus beau de sa victoire, 
trouvant pour tous par sa langue facile des mots de grace et d'esper- 
ance, n'e'tait il pas enfin, pour 1'Italie et pour le monde, ce Messie 
promis, attendu ? (J. Michelet, La Renaissance). 

SPECULATION was rife throughout Europe as 
to the public policy the first Medicean Pope was 
likely to pursue, although it was no difficult matter 
for such as had followed his past career as a Cardinal 
under Julius 1 1. to make a shrewd guess at Leo's probable 
attitude towards the movements and questions of the day, 
both domestic and foreign. That he had a strong per- 
sonal dislike tc France would be a natural conclusion of 
such observers, seeing that the French King had sup- 
ported the late Florentine Republic, and that Leo himself 
only a year before had endured in the French camp some 
months of captiv ty, which had not been wholly without 
discomfort and indignity. On the other hand, Leo had 
(every reason to favour the Spaniards, whose lances had 
telped him to win back his native city for himself and 
the Medici. His late remarkable display of clemency in 
[Florence led men to expect a Pontiff averse to war and 

9 J 29 



130 THE MEDICI POPES 

strife ; his moral reputation aroused the high hopes of all 
those who were anxious to reform and purify the Church ; 
his affability invited men to look for a ruler more reason- 
able and kindly than Julius ; whilst his manifest devotion 
to literature provoked the Humanists to prepare for a re- 
turn of the golden age of Roman letters under Augustus, 
and to find in Leo X. a veritable Papal Maecenas and a 
perfect patron. 

" It is my opinion," so writes Count Alberto Pio to 
his master the Emperor, " that the Pontiff will be gentle 
(mitis] as a lamb rather than fierce as a lion. He will 
cultivate peace and not war. He will observe all his 
vows and engagements most scrupulously. He will cer- 
tainly be no friend to the French, yet on the other hand 
he will not prove himself their implacable foe, like Julius. 
He dreams of honour and glory. He will patronise men 
of letters, at least improuvisatori, poets and musicians. 
He will erect palaces. He will perform with care the 
sacred offices, and will not neglect any ecclesiastical duty. 
He will not rush into any war, except a crusade against 
the Turks, unless much provoked or absolutely compelled 
thereto. He will try to finish whatsoever he has under- 
taken. He will be unassuming in manner, and easily 
prevailed on. These are my prognostications concern- 
ing Leo, but men change from hour to hour, and the 
Divine power often plays tricks with our human calcula- 
tions." 1 

Although Pio's general estimate of character and fore- 
cast of Leo's policy sound fairly accurate, yet in the letter 
just quoted the writer evidently does not lay sufficient 
stress on the new Pontiff's overweening but carefully hidd< 
ambition, the existence of which was little suspected by 
the world at large, or even by his own intimates who had 

1 Roscoe, vol. i., p. 352, note 13. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 131 

elected him Pope. As the son of a ruler who had pur- 
posely instilled into his children's minds his own principles 
of statecraft from their earliest years, Leo possessed ad- 
vantages above most of his predecessors in that he had 
been familiar from a tender age with the subtle methods 
of a tyranny which concealed the most selfish aims under 
a beneficent guise. During the years of ignominious exile 
under Alexander VI. and of hard service under Julius II. 
the Cardinal de' Medici had been digesting the paternal 
advice he had received in his youth, whilst his late ex- 
periences of poverty and insignificance had only served 
to whet his natural appetite for pomp and power. 
Throughout this period of nearly twenty years he had 
found ample opportunity for the cultivation of those arts 
of dissimulation, whereof his father was acknowledged so 
able an exponent, and of which Leo himself was destined 
to become a yet more perfect master. As the Magnifi- 
cent Lorenzo had ever masked the machinery of his re- 
lentless tyranny by genial manners and by a wise rejec- 
tion of all the outward attributes of majesty, so Giovanni 
de' Medici had learned to hide his most cherished schemes 
in the event of future success under an aspect of careless 
gaiety, and even of idleness. But at last the wheel of 
Fortune had turned ; at last the hour for putting into 
practice the theories privately formulated in past years 
had arrived. In the spring of 1512 we find Giovanni 
de' Medici poor, an exile and even a prisoner ; twelve 
months later he is Supreme Pontiff with boundless wealth 
and undisputed master once more of the city of his 
ancestors. 

As scion of a ruling house which had held in kindly 
but undoubted thraldom for four generations one of the 
richest states of Italy, the new Pope's position was far 
superior to that of a plebeian Delia Rovere, desiring 



132 THE MEDICI POPES 

only the glory of the States of the Church, of which he 
had been elected ruler for life ; still less was it compar- 
able with the newly acquired sovereignty of an aristo- 
cratic adventurer like the Borgia, who had endeavoured 
to utilise the Papacy as a means of founding in Italy a 
new reigning dynasty. Nevertheless, Leo X. had un- 
doubtedly absorbed not a little of the polity of both his 
predecessors, for from Julius he obtained the grandiose 
idea of freeing Italy from the presence of the foreigner, 
whilst Alexander's open intention to weld Central Italy 
into one important state strongly appealed to the personal 
ambition of the Medici. In Italian politics therefore 
Leo X., following the more private aim of raising his 
House to a height hitherto undreamed of, had set his 
heart upon forming the duchies of Ferrara and Urbino 
together with the towns of Parma, Piacenza and Modena 
into a new compact realm, of which the papal nephew 
or brother was to become sovereign under Leo's own 
guidance. But this ambitious attempt to create a brand- 
new state was intended only as a step towards a far 
wider and more patriotic policy. The French, already 
discomfited at the time of Leo's election, and now by 
the recent battle of Novara driven altogether out of Italy, 
might yet in course of time be made useful instruments 
for expelling the victorious Spanish forces from the 
Milanese and the kingdom of Naples. It was in truth 
a dangerous game, this proposed setting of the two lead- 
ing European powers against each other by means of a 
delicate but unscrupulous diplomacy, which was based 
on the Pope's fixed intention of making an open pact 
with one party and of intriguing with the other. Indeed, 
Leo X. has not without reason been credited with the 
invention of the maxim recommending this tortuous 
practice, which was bound to produce ultimate disaster 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 133 

for its followers ; a result that was achieved, not indeed 
in Leo's reign, but in that of his successor and faithful 
pupil, Pope Clement VII. Julius then having scattered 
the French by means of the Spaniards, and Leo in his 
turn having removed the conquering Spanish forces by 
the subsequent aid of France, it was secretly hoped that 
Italy would by this date be sufficiently consolidated to 
prevent any further encroachment from either nation ; 
and thus the whole country would be definitely and for 
ever relieved of the presence of the "barbarian," and 
the House of Medici with Leo at its head would become 
paramount throughout the whole peninsula. With all 
the might and resources of Italy concentrated thus in 
his own family and holding the keys of St. Peter in his 
hands, Leo began to indulge in the hope of being able 
some day to dictate terms to princes beyond the Alps, 
and even perhaps to bring the Empire itself beneath the 
dominion of the Church, as had actually come to pass in 
the reign of his great predecessor and fellow-countryman, 
the monk Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII. Without 
stopping to criticise this attractive conception of a great 
Medicean supremacy, based alike on secular and ecclesi- 
astical power, or to expose the many weak places in 
this magnificent fabric of future policy, we must acknow- 
ledge that such a scheme offered a singularly brilliant 
and alluring prospect ; and that it was not altogether 
impossible of attainment may be gathered from the 
views and suggestions concerning an universal Medicean 
despotism in Italy set forth by Machiavelli in the pages 
of the Prince. 

It was Leo's particular opportunity or misfortune that 
his election had taken place at a most critical moment, 
when Europe was not only affected by the various wars 
and intrigues of her rulers, but was likely to be still 



i 3 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

further disturbed by great impending changes in the near 
future. Henry VII. had died three years before Leo's 
accession, and the English throne was now occupied by 
a talented but restless young prince ; whilst it must have 
appeared evident to the more thoughtful that the sickly 
Louis XII. of France, the aged Emperor and the cunning 
old Ferdinand the Catholic of Spain must ere long be 
replaced in the course of nature by youthful heirs. It 
was upon the young princes therefore rather than upon 
the old and passing sovereigns that the leading states- 
men of the day looked with feelings of anxiety and hope ; 
their attention being engrossed by a contemplation of 
the youthful Henry Tudor, of the stripling cousin of the 
French King, and more particularly of the Archduke 
Charles, in whom a disproportionate amount of European 
sovereignty seemed likely to centre at no distant date. 
The uncertainties of the present and the possibilities of 
the future presented therefore a wide field of operations 
to a Pontiff, who was eager to turn every combination 
and every chance in the outside world to the immediate 
advantage of his own family and to the eventual solidarity 
of Italy by means of the unique powers wherewith he had 
recently been invested. "The vigorous policy of Julius 
II.," remarks Bishop Creighton, "was now abandoned 
for one more in the temper of the age. Leo X., with a 
genial smile upon his face, pursued his ends by an elabor- 
ate system of mine and countermine." 

In accordance with this deep-laid plan of family 
aggrandisement, which during the next six years gives 
the key-note to all his policy both at home and abroad, 
Leo's first step was to create the easy-going Giuliano 
de' Medici Gonfalionere of the Church, and to nominate 
his young nephew Lorenzo governor of Florence in 
1 Creighton, vol. v., p. 229. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 135 

Giuliano's stead. For the education and guidance of 
this youth of twenty summers there had recently been 
drawn up a manual of statecraft, based on the well-known 
tenets of the Magnificent and approved, if indeed it were 
not actually composed, by the Pontiff himself, so as to 
teach the heir of the family all the devices necessary to 
the proper maintenance of a Medicean despotism in the 
city without offering open violence to the old republican 
forms. Giuliano, however, the Pope evidently pre- 
ferred to keep near his own person in Rome, partly out 
of the genuine affection he bore to his younger brother, 
but partly also, perhaps, because he had good reason to 
fear the possible effects of Giuliano's liberal views and 
simple nature in his dealings with the fickle and turbulent 
population of Florence. At the suggestion of Leo him- 
self the city of Rome now proposed to do honour to the 
Pope's brother, and arrangements on a most lavish scale 
were made to promote him to the honorary rank of a 
Roman patrician in September, 1513. For this purpose 
the palace of the Capitol had been decorated in the most 
elaborate manner with a series of pictures designed by 
Baldassare Peruzzi, who had therein portrayed numerous 
scenes illustrating the historical connection between 
Ancient Etruria and the city of Rome. The whole 
ceremony, which had been planned in detail by Gian- 
Giorgio Cesarini, Gonfalionere or standard-bearer of the 
Roman Senate and People, included a procession from 
the Vatican to the Capitol, endless addresses of welcome 
to the Medicean prince from every public body in Rome, 
long-winded Latin orations from ambitious poets, and 
finally a banquet of barbaric profusion which lasted for 
six hours. The feast was in its turn succeeded by a 
pastoral eclogue, wherein the actors, after bestowing the 
most fulsome praise on Leo, did not scruple to poke the 



136 THE MEDICI POPES 

broadest fun at the late Pope's foibles ; a piece of bad 
taste which convulsed the whole audience with laughter. 
The masque was followed by a series of allegorical scenes, 
including one in which a beautiful woman, robed in cloth- 
of-gold and intended to personify the city of Rome, was 
borne on the shoulders of a giant to Giuliano's chair to 
thank him for the gracious condescension wherewith he 
had accepted the late homage of the imperial city. After 
other conceits of this nature, the entertainment was made 
to conclude with a significant representation of Florence 
weeping for the loss of her Medicean progeny and being 
comforted by Cybele, the mother of all the gods, who 
united the two female figures of Rome and Florence and 
suggested that henceforth both cities should dwell in 
mutual concord and happiness under the rule of that 
family, which loved each with an equal devotion. Next 
day a broad Latin comedy, the Poenulus of Plautus, was 
presented in an improvised theatre "with such elegance 
that it is scarcely credible that even in the days of 
Plautus himself his play could have been performed 
better". 1 In grateful appreciation of his brother's re- 
ception by the city, the Pontiff granted various privi- 
leges, even reducing the tax upon salt always a most 
jealously-guarded source of revenue in those days, whilst 
again in return for Leo's generosity the citizens of Rome 
caused a marble effigy of the Pope, the work of Giacomo 
del Duca, one of Michelangelo's pupils, to be placed upon 
the Capitol with the brief laudatory inscription, Optimi 
Liberalissimique Pontificis Memoriae S.P.Q.R* 

The festivities held at the Capitol in honour of Giuli- 

1 Creighton, vol. v., pp. 226, 227. Lanciani, pp. 96-98. L. Pas- 
qualucci, Giuliano de' Medici eletto dttadino Romano in 1513 
(Roma, 1881). 

2 This statue of Leo X., a very feeble work, still adorns the 
palace of the Conservatori on the Capitol. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 137 

ano de' Medici and expressive of the new union between 
Rome and Florence, were succeeded two months later 
by the submission of the French King, who now re- 
pudiated the schismatic Council, that had given so much 
offence to the autocratic Julius. Since the disaster of 
Novara, Louis had lost every foothold in Northern Italy, 
besides being crippled by the defeat of Guinegatte, or 
the Battle of the Spurs, at the hands of the united English 
and Imperial forces ; whilst the hereditary ally of France 
and foe of England had recently been crushed on the 
fatal field of Flodden in this very year. Now that the 
humiliated Frenchmen had been expelled from Italian 
soil, Leo did not intend to pursue them with the unreason- 
ing rancour of his fiery predecessor ; on the contrary, 
the Pope was secretly meditating to make some use of 
the defeated nation for his cherished object of ridding 
Italy equally of the favoured Spaniards. Smooth and 
pious words were accordingly addressed to the hesitating 
Louis, and every effort was made to clear the path of 
obstacles in the way of his coming submission. The 
newly restored Maximilian Sforza, Duke of Milan, was 
urged to treat with leniency and even with generosity 
those of his subjects who had accepted the late French 
rule ; the Emperor was admonished likewise on the 
duties of mercy and forgiveness in a Christian prince ; 
and even in his congratulatory letter to Henry VIII. on 
his successful repulse at Flodden of James IV. of Scot- 
land, Leo cannot refrain from remarking that "it was 
certainly very distressing for me to hear of so much 
shedding of Christian blood, of the destruction of such 
numbers of those who are dear to Our Universal Lord, 
and especially of the evil fate of an illustrious and valiant 
Christian monarch, the husband of thine own sister". 1 

1 Leonis X. Litter ae, Roscoe, Appendix XXVII. 



138 THE MEDICI POPES 

With the Pope thus posing openly as a public peace- 
maker and exhorting the sovereigns of Europe to acts 
of Christian charity and forgiveness by means of letters 
couched in the elegant Latin of his secretary, the erudite 
Bembo, the year 1514 was everywhere marked by a 
cessation of open warfare and by an increase of diplo- 
matic intrigue. Marriages with Leo's approval were 
likewise planned with the object of ending hereditary 
feuds amongst the reigning families of Europe ; nor was 
the Medicean House itself forgotten in these undertakings 
of political matrimony, for the Pope obtained no small 
amount of satisfaction from the union of his brother 
Giuliano with the Princess Filiberta of Savoy, a sister 
of the widowed Duchess of Orleans and consequently 
aunt to the future Francis I. of France. The news 
of this alliance, a brilliant one for the quasi-royal 
House of Medici, was warmly received at the Roman 
court, where the bride's arrival was awaited with im- 
patience as the one thing needful to complete the perfec- 
tion of that ecclesiastical paradise, which alone required 
the permanent presence of a princess in its midst : 
"God be praised!" writes the delighted Cardinal da 
Bibbiena to the expected bridegroom, "for here in Rome 
we lack nothing but a court with ladies ! " But this 
period of comparative peace and repose was ere long 
rudely disturbed by the occurrence of one of those events 
which all far-seeing men must long have anticipated. 
On New Year's Day, 1515, expired Louis XII. worn 
out by the gaiety and high spirits of his young bride, 
the Princess Mary of England, 1 and his sudden demise 
raised to the throne of France the ever-famous King 
Francis I. This ambitious youth had long conceived 
an unbounded admiration for the aims and personality 

1 Sister of Henry VIII. and afterwards Duchess of Brandon. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 139 

of the brilliant but short-lived Gaston de Foix, so 
that, taking the ill-fated victor of Ravenna for his model, 
Francis now burned to revenge the late French de- 
feats in Italy and to win back that sovereignty 
which Charles VIII. had enjoyed for so brief a space. 
Except that he was youthful and vain-glorious, the new 
King of France possessed no feature either mental or 
bodily in common with the little caricature of a man, 
who had been crowned at Naples twenty years before 
and had been hailed as saviour of Italy and regenerator 
of the Church by the impassioned Savonarola. To a 
generous and heroic disposition and a shrewd if unripe 
understanding Francis added also remarkable beauty of 
form, for he was of commanding stature and owned an 
attractive face, which was distinguished rather than 
marred by a long but shapely nose, the nose that Aretino 
once celebrated in a comical yet complimentary ode. 
In short, Francis was the ideal young warrior-prince of 
his age ; handsome in person, brave in the battle-field, 
highly gifted in intellect as became a grandson of the 
poet Duke of Orleans, courteous to all in the days of 
prosperity and destined to prove himself patient and 
dignified in that hour of humiliation which lay in waiting 
for him in the distant and as yet unforeseen future. His 
adoring sister, Margaret of Valois, " la Perle des 
Valois, la Marguerite des Marguerites," hastening to 
rescue her darling, her brother, her king after the fatal 
catastrophe of Pavia, has described Francis of France 
for us in simple yet living verses of her own composi- 
tion : 

" C'est Luy qui a de tout la connoissance. . . . 
De sa beaute il est blanc et vermeil, 
Les cheveux brims, de grande et belle taille, 
En terre il est comme au ciel le soleil. 
Hardi, vaillant, sage, et preux en bataille, 



140 THE MEDICI POPES 

II est benin, doux, humble en sa grandeur, 

Fort et puissant, et plein de patience, 

Soit en prison, en tristesse et malheur. . . . 

II a de Dieu le parfait science. . . . 

Bref, Luy tout seul est digne d'etre Roi." l 

Such is the picture drawn by Margaret of Valois of 
her sovereign and brother, who now in his twenty-first 
year declared his intention to invade Italy and to succeed 
or perish in the attempt. 

With a well-equipped army of 60,000 infantry, 
30,000 cavalry and 72 pieces of artillery, Francis, ac- 
companied by the veteran Milanese general Trivulzi, 
the young Constable of Bourbon and that skilful Spanish 
engineer, Pedro Navarro, whom his master Ferdinand 
of Spain had been too mean to ransom after the battle 
of Ravenna, crossed the Alps despite all obstacles human 
and natural, and entered the plain of Saluzzo in Pied- 
mont in the early autumn of 1515. The forces of the 
Pope, the Emperor and the Duke of Milan, who had 
lately convened a league " for the defence and deliverance 
of Italy" against the new French aggression, were 
astounded and disheartened by this unexpected and 
marvellous strategy. Nor was it long before the two 
armies found themselves encamped opposite each other 
at Marignano, some few miles from Milan, the joint 
forces of the confederates consisting of the Spanish army 
under Cardona ; of a vast array of Swiss mercenaries in 
the pay of Pope and Emperor and controlled by the 
warlike Matthew Schinner, Cardinal of Sion ; and last, 
of Leo's own army commanded by his nephew, Lorenzo 
de' Medici, who had been given the title of " Captain 
of the Church and of the Florentines ". We are at this 
point offered a typical example of Leo's crooked policy 
in the circumstance that Lorenzo, who had been ap- 

1 J. Michelet, La Renaissance. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 141 

pointed to fill this post owing to the illness of his uncle 
Giuliano, had received explicit but private instructions 
from the Pope that the troops under his command were 
to be led into the fray only after the issue of the engage- 
ment had been definitely decided. But although de- 
termined to safeguard his own interests in the event of 
a possible French victory, yet so anxious was Leo for 
the defeat of the invaders, that he likewise sent secret 
orders to Schinner to urge forward the Swiss and to 
allow no chance of their defection by means of French 
gold. Following his instructions from Rome, therefore, 
Schinner addressed the 30,000 Switzers before the 
citadel of Milan, bidding them in passionate phrases to 
defend the cause of Holy Church and of the Keys of 
St. Peter by annihilating the barbarian host now en- 
camped at Marignano : " Would that I were permitted 
to wash my hands in the Frenchmen's blood ! " is 
the concluding sentence of the fierce harangue that 
Guicciardini puts into the militant cardinal's mouth. 

After some vicissitudes in the field the great battle 
of Marignano ended in a decisive victory for the French, 
who thus destroyed for ever the overweening reputation 
of that Swiss infantry, upon which Leo had calculated 
with such confidence. Unhappy Milan at once opened 
her gates to the conqueror, whilst her Sforza Duke, 
weary of being the puppet alternately of Pope, Emperor 
and French King, gladly agreed to accept a pension 
from the magnanimous Francis, who now assumed the 
sovereignty of the whole Milanese. Meanwhile, before 
the tide of success had turned definitely in favour of the 
French, the impetuous Schinner had hastily despatched 
a messenger to Rome, telling of the expected victory of 
the confederate army, and this welcome report was re- 
ceived at the Roman court with such transports of open 



i 4 2 THE MEDICI POPES 

delight, that the Cardinal Bibbiena actually gave orders 
for a public illumination. But that very evening, whilst 
the city was sparkling with the festal lights of supposed 
triumph, Marino Giorgi, the Venetian envoy, whose 
state was once more in close alliance with the invading 
French, obtained authentic information as to the true 
result of the recent battle near Milan. Early the follow- 
ing morning, therefore, Giorgi presented himself at the 
Vatican to request an immediate audience of the Pope. 
Generally unpunctual in his habits, Leo was ever a late 
riser from bed, and accordingly had to be awakened on 
so important an occasion by his chamberlain. Half- 
dressed and still heavy with sleep, the Pope anxiously 
hurried into the hall of audience. Taking a malicious 
but concealed pleasure in the Pontiffs obvious agitation 
and pretending to assume that Leo's equanimity would 
in no wise be affected by his news, the unfeeling Giorgi 
much enjoyed the delivery of his unwelcome message. 
" Holy Father, yesterday Your Holiness gave me bad 
news, which turned out to be false ; but to-day I can 
offer you information which is not only good, but also 
true. The Swiss are utterly routed ! " Glancing at the 
accompanying despatch, Leo, with the habitual smile 
for once absent from a woe-begone and terrified counten- 
ance, forgot for a brief moment his accustomed arts of 
almost oriental dissimulation. Clasping his hands he 
cried aloud with the genuine alarm of a trickster un- 
masked, "What, then, will become of us, and also of 
you?" 1 "So far as we are concerned, all will be well," 
replied the unconcerned ambassador, "seeing that we 
are the Most Christian King's own allies, nor is Your 

1 " Quid ergo erit de nobis, et quid de vobis ? " (J. Michelet, La 
Renaissance, p. 369) " Notre victoire le pressait en flagrant delit de 
duplicite." 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 143 

Holiness likely to suffer any hurt at his hands " ; and 
leaving Leo thus a prey to the alarm he had neglected 
to hide, Giorgi, highly gratified with his late diplomatic 
encounter, returned to his own house, where a barrel of 
wine was broached for himself and his companions to 
drink to the late victory and to the memory of the slain 
at Marignano. On the following day Giorgi was sum- 
moned to the Vatican, where he was angrily accused by 
Leo of having openly rejoiced at the late intelligence, to 
which the envoy replied with an air of astonished 
innocence : " Holy Father, the rejoicings were confined 
to your own palace the other evening, there were none 
in my house ! " "It was all the fault of the Cardinal of 
Santa Maria in Portico (Bibbiena)," retorted the Pope, 
"and he acted without my knowledge in the matter. 
But, my lord ambassador of Venice, we shall now see 
what the Most Christian King will do, for we shall place 
ourselves in his hands and at his mercy." " Holy 
Father," replied Giorgi, who was thoroughly enjoying 
Leo's discomfiture, "neither Your Holiness nor the Holy 
See will obtain the least hurt, for is not the Most 
Christian King a son of the Church ? " 

Having decided to seek the mercy of the Most 
Christian King, Leo proceeded without further delay, 
in spite of the alarm and opposition of the Roman court, 
to arrange for a conference with Francis who, although 
fully aware of the Pope's treachery at Marignano, was 
most anxious for various reasons to gain the latter 's 
good-will and alliance. Late in November, therefore, 
Leo arrived with an immense retinue outside the walls 
of Florence on his way northward towards Bologna, the 
fixed trysting-place of King and Pontiff, but at the 

1 Alberi, Relazioni Venete, serie 2 da , vol. iii., p. 44 ; Creighton, 
vol. v., p. 244. 



i 4 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

special request of the Signory, he consented to tarry 
awhile at the Gianfigliazzi villa in the suburb of 
Marignolle, whilst the city was busily preparing a public 
reception worthy of one who was its first citizen as well 
as its spiritual chief. It was the Medici's first entrance 
into his birthplace as Supreme Pontiff, and even his 
unbounded craving for adulation and pageantry must 
have been appeased by the sight of the triumphal arches, 
the elaborate artistic surprises and the applauding crowds 
of his own countrymen, for whom Leo with all his faults 
and selfishness bore a sincere affection. The Pope with 
eighteen cardinals and accompanied by hundreds of 
nobles and men-at-arms made his state-entry into the 
city by the Porta Romana, which still bears on its brown 
weather-stained face a broad marble tablet telling pos- 
terity of this auspicious event and of the honour conferred 
thereby on the Florentines. So vast was the papal 
train that the authorities had first removed the outer 
courtyard of the gate itself, through which the brilliant 
slow-moving throng passed on St. Andrew's Day, 3Oth 
November, 1515. At the church of San Felice below 
the Pitti Palace, through Leo's spy-glass was perceived 
the first of the many triumphal erections ; this at San 
Felice bearing on its crest a bust of the Magnificent 
Lorenzo with the legend borrowed from Holy Writ, 
" This is my beloved Son " (Hie est Filius meus dilectus), 
the sight of which made the emotional Pontiff fall into 
tears. Down the broad street of Via Maggio with its 
stately but gloomy palaces, across the old bridge of 
Santa Trinita backed by the huge form of the Spini 
mansion, and thence through the Porta Rossa, the New 
Market and the narrow Via Vacchereccia into the great 
square of the Signoria below the frowning civic palace 
wound the long papal procession, with Leo himself in 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 145 

tiara and glittering cope bestowing numberless benedic- 
tions upon his fellow-citizens to the accompaniment of a 
continuous shower of broad silver pieces amongst the 
bystanders. Beneath the wide arches of the Loggia de' 
Lanzi a huge figure of gilded wood representing Hercules 
with his club, the work of Baccio Bandinelli, had been 
erected, overtopping Donatello's group of Judith slaying 
Holofernes, which this same city of Florence had placed 
in Orcagna's beautiful arcade at the time of the expulsion 
of the Medici some twenty years before, to serve as a 
solemn warning to tyrants, as its terse inscription testifies 
to-day. 1 Sweeping past the Loggia and the historic 
statue of the Florentine Marzoceo, that placid lion clasp- 
ing the emblem of the City of the Lily in his paws, the 
cavalcade proceeded by way of the frowning mass of 
the Bargello towards the gigantic form of the Duomo, 
the Pope meanwhile surveying through his monocle the 
cheering crowds of townsmen and peasants and stopping 
ever and anon to admire the many festal surprises, or to 
read their flattering inscriptions. Possibly this enthusi- 
astic reception in his native Florence may have seemed 
even more agreeable and satisfying to the fortunate Leo 
than those splendid pageants which had marked his 
progress from St. Peter's to the Lateran, less than three 
years before ; but it was evident that the popular rejoic- 
ings were equally sincere and spontaneous in both cities. 
On reaching the Cathedral steps Leo must have ex- 
pressed his astonishment at the remarkable transforma- 
tion of its naked and unsightly front through the skill of 
the architect, Jacopo Sansovino, aided by the ready 
brush of Andrea del Sarto, then a rising young Florentine 
painter. For from the crest of the roof to the level of 

1 Exemplum Sal. Pub. Gives. Pos. Mccccxcv. 
10 



146 THE MEDICI POPES 

the ground a temporary facade adorned with columns, 
cornices, architraves and portals, all fashioned out of 
wood and plaster so as to imitate rare and antique 
marbles, had been hastily erected, with statues in its 
niches and with its flat spaces covered in chiaroscuro in 
"the Perfect Painter's" most graceful and attractive 
manner. " Everybody," says Landucci, " was filled with 
amazement at its pictures and ornaments ; saying it 
ought to serve as a model for a new facade to the 
Cathedral, since all were so pleased at its noble and 
stately appearance ; indeed, we were all distressed to 
see it dismantled and removed." 1 Within the spacious 
nave of the church itself a narrow but lofty platform had 
been constructed on trestles, whereby the Pontiff and his 
companions might advance unimpeded to the high altar, 
whilst the immense crowd below could secure a better 
view of the illustrious guest. On reaching the altar, 
His Holiness doffed jewelled tiara and gorgeous cope, 
appearing to public gaze clad in the rochet of white 
brocade, the crimson mozzetta or cape, and the loose 
skull-cap, also of crimson velvet, in which Raphael has 
depicted Leo X. for us in his most famous portrait. 
Thus arrayed, the Pontiff, after offering up prayers and 
making some splendid gifts to the Cathedral treasury, 
pursued his course amid renewed applause towards the 
great Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella, 
where a set of rooms, magnificently appointed, had 
been prepared for his reception. Luxurious quarters 
had likewise been provided for the eighteen cardinals, 
and for such distinguished guests as the poet Sannazzaro, 
the chamberlain Serapica, the papal secretaries Bembo 
and Sadoleto and others who had swelled the train of 

1 Landucci, p. 356. Vasari, Vita di Andrea del Sarto. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 147 

Leo on this occasion. Of the efforts thus made by the 
richest city in Italy to do honour to Pope Leo, her own 
citizen, Landucci mentions fifteen arches, trophies, 
obelisks, statues or emblematic figures placed at various 
points of the Pope's line of procession ; nor does he omit 
to mention the wholesale destruction of dwelling-houses 
that were thought to interfere with the pleasing effects 
aimed at by the Florentine artists, who had been entrusted 
by the Signory with the general scheme of decoration. 
Over two thousand workmen had been kept busily em- 
ployed night and day for the space of a full month, 
making use of the churches themselves as temporary 
workshops, whilst the expenses entailed amounted to no 
less a sum than 70,000 florins, a piece of civic extra- 
vagance which caused no little regret to the frugal 
Landucci, who laments this squandering of the city's 
wealth upon " such flimsy conceits, which passed away like 
a shadow," although he affects to rejoice at the benefits 
conferred thereby on the carpenters and artisans of 
Florence. 1 

On the following day, however, the Pope exchanged 
his apartments at Santa Maria Novella for the famous 
suite of rooms in the Palazzo Vecchio, still known as 
4 'the Quarter of Pope Leo X.," which in later years were 
adorned with an interesting series of frescoes from the 
brush of Vasari, who on the walls and ceilings of these 
chambers has commemorated Leo's principal achieve- 
ments, as well as those of other members of the senior 
branch of the Medicean House. Although this gallery 
of historical incidents in the careers of Leo X., Clement 
VII. and their immediate ancestors is not the work of a 
contemporaneous artist (for Vasari was but an infant at 

Landucci, p. 359. 



148 THE MEDICI POPES 

the date of Leo's official entry into Florence), yet these 
beautiful and well-preserved frescoes in the so-called 
Quartiere di Leone Decimo of the old Florentine public 
palace are deserving of more attention than is usually 
paid to them. In particular, the large composition de- 
picting the papal procession just described, with its 
interesting view of the Piazza della Signoria in Vasari's 
time and with its curious representation of Leo's eighteen 
scarlet-clad cardinals on mule-back, of the Pope himself 
borne aloft in his chair of state, and of the papal 
train, which includes portraits of Bembo, Aretino, 
Serapica, Lorenzo de' Medici and of half the notabilities 
of the Leonine Age, is especially worthy of careful inspec- 
tion by those who wish to study the gayer and more 
pleasing aspect of the life of the Italian Renaissance. 1 

But Leo's first visit to his native town was of neces- 
sity curtailed, for he was most anxious to reach his true 
destination, Bologna. After kneeling beside the tomb 
of his father in San Lorenzo, where to the edification of 
the impressed bystanders he made his orisons with tears 
streaming down his cheeks, and after spending some 
hours with the ailing Giuliano in the old mansion of his 
family, Leo prepared to leave Florence on 3rd Decem- 
ber for Bologna, which city the Pope had prudently 
selected as his place of meeting with King Francis, whom 
naturally he was anxious to avoid receiving in Rome 
whilst flushed with his recent victory. The main features 
of the coming conference had already been arranged as 
early as i5th October, between the French chancellor, 
Duprat, and Ludovico da Canossa, bishop of Tricarico, 
who was perhaps Leo's ablest diplomatic agent. Broadly 
speaking, by this suggested treaty the Pope was to re- 

1 Bacciotti, Firenze Illustrata, vol. i. 






MEDICEAN AMBITION 149 

pudiate his former alliance with the Emperor (with whom, 
it is probably needless to remark, Leo was still in con- 
stant communication) ; he was to surrender those coveted 
cities of Parma and Piacenza to the King of France, as 
conqueror of the Milanese ; and he was also required to 
restore for a fixed sum the towns of Reggio and Modena, 
which he had lately acquired from the Emperor, to their 
rightful owner, Alfonso of Ferrara, who was Francis' 
ally. In return for these concessions, Francis swore to 
protect the States of the Church and the Medicean realm 
of Florence, and also to bestow revenues and commands 
upon the papal nephew and brother ; whilst the long- 
standing dispute concerning the privileges of the Gallican 
Church was to be settled to suit the mutual convenience 
of King and Pope, without reference to the French 
people or clergy. Under the circumstances, it cannot 
be denied that this proposed compact, which was mainly 
due to the arts and blandishments of the insinuating 
Canossa, was highly favourable to the Pontiff, who hoped 
moreover to secure even better terms than these as the 
result of a personal interview with the youthful King. 

The Pope's reception by the Bolognese, many of 
whom were still regretting the expulsion of their late 
Bentivoglio rulers, offered a striking contrast with the 
late civic greetings in Florence. N either cheering crowds 
nor triumphal arches met the eyes of the entering caval- 
cade as it threaded its way through the arcaded streets 
of the town towards the great Palazzo Pubblico, where 
the leading citizens received their papal master with 
black looks and in a sulky silence, which was even broken 
once or twice by the raising of the old cry of Sega! 
Sega! of the departed Bentivogli. 1 But Leo was deter- 

1 Sega, "a saw"; the heraldic emblem of the House of Benti- 
voglio. 



150 THE MEDICI POPES 

mined to show himself gracious on this occasion, and 
therefore only reproved the indignant Paris de Grassis, 
when the latter pointed out to him that the authorities 
were treating His Holiness with scant respect, since only 
one canopy of silk and another of shabby stained cloth 
had been provided by the city to afford the customary 
shelter for the Sacrament and for the person of the 
Supreme Pontiff. 1 Yet Leo's good humour was proof 
even against conduct so dastardly as this, so that he 
merely gave orders for the silken baldacchino to be borne 
above the Host, whilst he himself dispensed altogether 
with this particular emblem of state. Under these de- 
pressing conditions of manifest disloyalty and dislike, the 
Pope formally convoked the consistory in a hall of the 
palace, where twenty cardinals were now collected, the 
most prominent absentee of the College being Francesco 
Soderini, whom Leo had left behind in Rome to act as 
legate, not out of any special confidence in the Florentine 
Cardinal's powers, but because he deemed his presence 
in Florence or Bologna as likely to excite intrigue. 

On nth December Francis was met in state by 
Giulio de' Medici at the city gates, but in spite of the 
exhortations of Paris de Grassis, the King positively re- 
fused to be made the central figure of an organised 
pageant, declaring bluntly that "he cared not a whit for 
processions ". 2 Plainly habited, the young monarch made 
his way through the pressing and staring throng of 
citizens towards the Palazzo Pubblico, where he was 
most cordially received by the Supreme Pontiff. Al- 
though the marplot of all his far-reaching schemes in 
Italy, Leo, who had a keen appreciation of youthful grace 
and beauty, could not but regard with interest, or even 

1 Diary of Paris de Grassis, Creighton, vol. v. 

2 Fabroni, Appendix XLIV. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 151 

with paternal affection this young Prince Charming, who 
was now ushered bare-headed into his presence. Kneel- 
ing at the pontifical feet, the French King made solemn 
profession in his native tongue of his intense devotion 
towards the Holy See and naively expressed his pleasure 
at thus beholding face to face for the first time " the Pope, 
the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ ". To this ingenuous 
greeting, Leo, who was perfectly versed in the art of 
public oratory, " replied in the most excellent manner, 
for fair speech was always customary with him ". The 
formal ceremonies of the meeting concluded, a private 
conference between Pope and King was next arranged, 
whereat Leo without doubt made full use of every 
Medicean art to threaten or cajole the prince into re- 
laxing some of the terms already agreed upon. But 
upon the point of Leo's surrender of Parma, Piacenza 
and Modena, the King, despite his youthful years and 
his expressed veneration for the person of the Pontiff, 
remained obdurate. Leo, therefore, much exasperated 
at this failure of the usual methods of Medicean diplomacy, 
refused on his part to listen to Francis' earnest appeal 
for the pardon of the Duke of Urbino, whose ruin the 
Pope was then certainly contemplating. Leo likewise 
received very coldly the proposal for the King's investi- 
ture of the realm of Naples, which he declared it would 
be impossible for him to grant during the lifetime of 
Ferdinand of Spain ; and it was the Medici's undoubted 
diplomatic skill that alone prevented the young King, 
elated by his recent success at Marignano and supported 
by a splendid army, from advancing southward and 
forcibly seizing that coveted kingdom, which His Holiness 
was so unwilling to bestow. On the treatment of the 
defenceless Gallican Church, in the suppression of whose 
ancient liberties both Pope and King had a special in- 



152 THE MEDICI POPES 

terest, Leo and Francis soon came to terms ; nor were 
they parsimonious in their mutual promises of honours 
and titles ; Leo bestowing a scarlet hat upon Adrian de 
Boissy, the king's tutor, and Francis creating Giuliano 
de' Medici Duke of Nemours. The main result of this 
conference, therefore, proved not particularly satisfactory 
to either party, for the King had failed to obtain his 
chief object, the investiture of the kingdom of Naples ; 
whilst Leo was greatly irritated at the enforced surrender 
of Parma and Modena. And although Alfonso of 
Ferrara had good reason to congratulate himself on the 
Pope's unwilling consent to give up Modena, yet his 
brother vassal of the Church, the Delia Rovere Duke of 
Urbino, must have foreseen his inevitable overthrow in 
the King's failure to avert the impending vengeance of 
the angry Pope. 

Francis of France tarried altogether only four days 
at Bologna, but his brief visit was naturally distinguished 
by every variety of pageant and ceremony, including a 
Mass said by Leo in person at the high altar of the great 
church of San Petronio, on which occasion the French 
monarch did not hesitate to serve the Pontiff in his holy 
office by bearing in his own royal hands the basin with 
the water at the Lavabo. In public a good deal was 
said on both sides concerning the virtue of Christian 
peace and charity, as also of the dire necessity of an 
universal campaign of Christendom against the Turks. 
Duprat, the French chancellor, even made an im- 
passioned appeal to the successor of the Fisherman to 
guide the barque of Christ's Church into the haven of 
perfect peace ; in short, both parties seem to have ex- 
hausted themselves in insincere professions of friendship 
and confidence. For nobody was deceived by these fine 
sentiments and edifying speeches ; on the contrary, all 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 153 

men present knew of the royal and papal ambitions, nor 
was anyone ignorant of the punishment that was shortly 
to fall on the erring Duke of Urbino. 

It is impossible to dwell further on the many events 
incident to this famous but indecisive conference at 
Bologna, which has been commemorated for us in one 
of Raphael's splendid frescoes in the Vatican the Coro- 
nation of Charlemagne, wherein the Prankish emperor, 
represented with the clear-cut features, the lank black 
hair, and the pallid complexion of the youthful Francis 
of France, receives the imperial diadem at the hands of 
Pope Leo III., in the guise of his namesake and suc- 
cessor Leo X. ; whilst the little Ippolito de' Medici, 
Giuliano's bastard son, in the livery of a page upholds 
the kneeling emperor's mantle. There was of course 
the customary interchange of gifts between King and 
Pope, His Holiness presenting Francis with a fine dia- 
mond and a golden reliquary containing a piece of the 
True Cross. The French monarch, however, the future 
patron of Andrea del Sarto and of Benvenuto Cellini, 
who already prided himself upon his knowledge of modern 
and antique art, appeared not a little disappointed at the 
papal presents. Assuming Leo to be the possessor of 
an abundant store of ancient statuary in Rome, the 
young prince coolly expressed to His Holiness an over- 
whelming desire to possess that marble group of the 
Laocoon, of whose beauties he had heard such glowing 
accounts. This masterpiece of classical art, which still 
remains one of the chief treasures of the Vatican galleries, 
had been excavated almost intact about seven years 
previously by the lucky owner of a vineyard on the site 
of the Baths of Titus. The finder, a certain Felice de' 
Fredis, had promptly sold his treasure-trove to the late 
Pope, but in the epitaph upon his tomb in a Roman 



i 54 THE MEDICI POPES 

church Felice proudly asserts his claim to popular re- 
membrance and gratitude as the discoverer of "this 
breathing group in marble" (respirans simulacrum]} 
The present owner of the Laocoon, Pope Leo, must 
have been indeed startled at the French King's audaci- 
ous request, but although, in the words of an unkind 
modern critic, he would sooner have surrendered up 
the genuine head of an Apostle than this cherished 
block of marble, the Pontiff managed to keep his counten- 
ance, graciously declaring his readiness to despatch the 
desired object to France. Nevertheless, having gained 
the King's warm thanks for such generosity, it is said that 
Leo merely sent instructions to that mediocre Florentine 
sculptor, Baccio Bandinelli, whose copies of the antique 
were known to be far superior to his original productions, 
to prepare a replica of the Laocoon with all speed, where- 
with to satisfy this importunate young conqueror. 

On 1 5th December Francis quitted Bologna, not 
over-pleased with the results of the late conference, 
whilst three days later the Pope himself, only tolerably 
satisfied with the French King's concessions, set out for 
Florence, arriving there on 22nd December and re- 
maining eight weeks. This, Leo's last visit to his birth- 
place, afforded small pleasure either to the Pope or to 
the Florentines, for the city was suffering from a scarcity 
of provisions, so that the starving populace was much 
scandalised at the daily spectacle of thoughtless luxury 

J The epitaph is quoted by Duppa (Life of Michelangelo, p. 50) : 
Felici de Fredis, 
Qui ob proprias virtutes, 
Et repertum Laocoontis divinum quod 
In Vaticano cernes fere 
Respirans simulacrum, 
Immortalitatem meruit 
Anno Domini MDXXVIII. 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 155 

and extravagance in a season of dearth, which was openly 
exhibited by the younger cardinals, such as Sauli and 
Petrucci. In addition to the shortage of corn and disas- 
trous floods in the Arno, the Pope was a prey to the 
deepest anxiety concerning the deplorable condition of 
his brother Giuliano, who was rapidly sinking into an 
early grave. All the males of the House of Medici 
seem to have been delicate and short-lived, and Giuliano 
was now in the last stages of a galloping consumption, 
" appearing utterly shrunken and spent like an expiring 
candle," says the historian Cambi, who adds that the 
ailing prince bore his distressing malady with exemplary 
patience and that the whole city was filled with compas- 
sion for his sufferings. Removed for change of air from 
the Medicean palace to the abbey below Fiesole, the 
dying prince was frequently visited by the Pontiff, of 
whose presence at Fiesole there still exists a memorial 
in the papal escutcheon that adorns the steep rocky path- 
way leading upward from San Domenico. Nor were 
these meetings between the two brothers rendered easier 
| or less melancholy by Giuliano's constant anxiety con- 
cerning Leo's open intention to deprive Francesco Delia 
Rovere of his dominions and to create the young Lorenzo 
Duke of Urbino in his stead. The past hospitality he 
Ihad accepted at the court of Urbino and a personal at- 
tachment to the reigning duke and the Duchess Elisa- 
jbetta made the generous Giuliano most eager to appease 
lis brother's wrath, but though as a dying man he im- 
lored Leo again and again to forgive Delia Rovere for 
lis manifest disobedience and hostility, he could obtain 
Ino satisfactory answer to his constant plea. " Think 
jfirst upon getting well, my Giuliano, for this is no meet 
;ime to vex thyself with politics," was ever the evasive 
>ly of the Pontiff, who besides being filled with an in- 



156 THE MEDICI POPES 

creasing rancour against the duke was likewise importuned 
ceaselessly by his sister-in-law, the restless Alfonsina, 
to proclaim her only son a sovereign prince in Urbino. 
On 1 9th February, Leo, recalled to Rome by news of 
the death of the aged Ferdinand of Spain, quitted for 
ever Florence and his unhappy brother, who expired a 
month later on i7th March at the abbey of Fiesole in 
the thirty-eighth year of his age, childless save for one 
illegitimate son, Ippolito de' Medici, the celebrated 
Cardinal of a later period. Four days after his death 
the body of Giuliano was interred in San Lorenzo with 
the utmost pomp and amidst the general grief of the 
citizens, for the handsome and liberal-minded if some- 
what languid and extravagant prince was undeniably the 
most popular with the Florentines of the Magnificent 
Lorenzo's three sons. He had always shown moreover 
a genuine aversion to all tyranny and double dealing, 
and these rare qualities together with his deep sense of 
gratitude towards those who had befriended him in days 
of poverty and exile mark him as worthy of special praise 
in an age of savage violence and selfish cunning. Alto- 
gether, despite many moral shortcomings, " Giuliano il 
Buono," at once the perfect courtier and judicious patron 
of letters, the intimate friend of Castiglione and Bembo, 
the handsome prince who was by choice a plain Floren- 
tine burgher in the citizen's cloak, appears to us one of 
the most attractive personalities the Italian Renaissance 
can claim to have produced. 1 And although vexed at 
his younger brother's lack of ambition and his simplicity 
of character, Leo loved him dearly, so that his death, 
though long imminent, was severely felt by the Pontiff, 
who perhaps rightly had refused to grant a favourite 

1 Giuliano's curious emblem a triangle containing the letters 
G.L.O.V.I.S. is mentioned by Scipione Ammirato (Opuscoli^ vol. iii.). 




TOMB OF GIULIANO DE' MEDICI 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 157 

brother's dying request. For it had been to Giuliano 
that Leo in the first flush of gratified ambition had 
spoken those famous words, which have never been dis- 
proved " Since God has given us the Papacy, my 
Giuliano, let us enjoy it " ; and now half his expected en- 
joyment had been removed by Giuliano's untimely 
end. It was a double blow, alike to Leo's private 
affections and to his political dreams, for undoubtedly 
the Pope did not bear the same regard towards his 
nephew Lorenzo, who through his uncle's death had 
now become the sole surviving layman of his House. 
There was of course a great display of public mourning 
in Rome, but Leo himself was plainly admonished by 
that papal Polonius, his own master of the ceremonies, 
to control his natural feelings and to show no visible 
sign of grief to those around him, " since the Supreme 
Pontiff is not a man, but a demi-god, and ought there- 
fore always to exhibit a serene and smiling countenance 
on all occasions to the people V 

It is wholly beyond the scope of the present work to 
penetrate within the maze of European politics which 
followed upon the death of Ferdinand of Spain and the 
peaceful succession of the youthful Archduke Charles to 
the thrones of Castile and Naples. Close upon this 
momentous event came the treaty of Noyon and the sub- 
sequent settlement whereby the series of wars inaugurated 
by the League of Cambrai and originally directed against 
the republic of Venice was at last terminated, leaving 
Venice herself intact indeed in territory but weakened 
by the long conflict since the evil day of Vaila. All 
Italy was therefore once more permitted to enjoy an in- 

1 Diary of Paris de Grassis. 



158 THE MEDICI POPES 

terval of precious peace with the exception of the state j 
of Urbino, which Leo, now secure from French inter- 
vention, was preparing to crush with all the military and 
spiritual weapons at his disposal. Three definite charges 
were first formulated against the trembling duke, who j 
shortly after Giuliano's death was cited to Rome to 
answer in person before the pontifical throne. Firstly, 
Francesco- Maria Delia Rovere was reminded of his 
assassination of Cardinal Alidosi four years before : a 
crime which rendered him unfit to remain a vassal and 
true protector of Holy Church ; secondly, he was accused j 
of disobedience to Julius' command to assist the return 
of the Medici to Florence in 1512, and also of intriguing 
with the French on several occasions ; and thirdly, he 
was admonished concerning his refusal to serve in the 
papal army commanded by Lorenzo de' Medici before 3 
Milan in the autumn of the previous year. All these | 
charges were unanswerable, although it was true that : 
Julius had eventually condoned his nephew's murder of 
Alidosi, and that the duke's real crime in Leo's eyes 
did not consist so much in his past treachery towards the 
Church as in his obvious hostility to the House of 
Medici and its interests. Nevertheless, it is certain that 
on two recent occasions Delia Rovere had deliberately 
refused to obey the legitimate orders of his suzerain, the 
Supreme Pontiff, and it becomes difficult, therefore, to 
understand why so many historians have set themselves 
with such ardour to blame Leo for his action in expelling 
so undesirable a vassal of the Church from the ancient : 
patrimony of the Montefeltre, to which the Delia Rovere 
duke could plead no real hereditary title. That Leo 
nursed a personal grudge against the duke and also 
harboured ulterior designs in desiring to bestow Urbino 
itself on his own nephew, does not affect the argument 



MEDICEAN AMBITION 159 

:oncerning a sovereign's right to punish or expel a danger- 
3us and disobedient feudatory prince. Likewise, the fact 
hat the subsequent war proved tedious, expensive and 
productive of intense misery, cannot well be imputed as 
i crime in the Pontiff, who certainly looked for an easy, 
f not a bloodless annexation of the duchy of Urbino. 

On Francesco's refusal to betake himself to Rome to 
inswer the charges formulated, Leo pronounced a Bull 
>f excommunication against the absent duke ; despatched 
in army under Lorenzo de' Medici into his territories ; 
ind thus speedily drove the almost friendless Delia 
^.overe tyrant to seek refuge at the hospitable court of 
Mantua. Urbino itself being quickly reduced, on i8th 
August, 1516, the papal nephew was solemnly proclaimed 
3uke of Urbino and Lord of Pesaro, and thus the first 
definite step was taken towards creating a Central 
talian state to form the nucleus of that Medicean empire 
n Italy, which was equally the fixed desire of the am- 
bitious Pontiff and of his greater compatriot, Machiavelli. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE COURT OF LEO X 

Godiamo ci il Papato, poichk Dio ci F ha dato. . . . Je crois que la 
tait vraiment sa mission, jouir de la Papaute dans toutes les aises de 
1'intelligence, et toutes les satisfactions du gout. II n'etait point 
politique ; a mon sens il etait plutot encore Athdnien que catholique ; 
Athenes d'abord, Jerusalem ensuite (Armand Braschet, La Diplo- 
matic Venitienne). 

IT was the boast of succeeding ages that the first 
Medicean Pope in his reign revived the sunken 
glories of classical Rome and made the Eternal 
City once more the true intellectual and artistic centre 
of the western world, attracting thither every poet 
and scholar, every painter and sculptor, every scientist 
and traveller to receive a warm welcome and a due re- 
ward for his talents or his services to mankind at the 
hands of the Supreme Pontiff. Certain it is that the 
court of the Vatican under Leo X. was in reality the 
most brilliant, the most cultured, and withal the most 
extravagant that Europe had beheld since the days of 
Imperial Rome, and that Leo himself moved perpetually 
in an atmosphere of flattery and splendour such as no 
Pontiff had hitherto experienced. The accession indeed 
of this Medicean prince, in whom past years of indigence 
and obscurity had only served to inflame a natural taste 
for art, literature, amusement and magnificence in every 
form, opened a new era in the annals of Rome ; an era 
which later writers have not without reason christened 

160 




THE COURT OF LEO X 161 

the Leonine Age ; whilst the city itself, named by con- 
temporaries "the Light and the Stage of the World," 
became at once the chosen seat of fashion and of learning, 
the home of the courtier no less than the haunt of the 
poet. Thus was Rome under Leo X. able to foreshadow 
the position held by Paris during the most splendid years 
of the Roi Soleil, whose personality has not a few points 
n common with that of the first Medicean Pope. Un- 
brtunately, magnificence can only be obtained by 
eckless profusion, and a brilliant court has ever been 
shown to be a corrupt one ; indeed, the patronage of 
Leo X. and the majesty of Louis XIV. proved in each 
case a fore-runner of disaster and humiliation at no dis- 
ant date. 

Leo may almost be described as having breathed a 
iterary and artistic atmosphere from his cradle. The 
erstwhile pupil of the versatile Politian and the erudite 
Demetrius of Chalcedon, and the son of a poet, Giovanni 
de' Medici had not only been at an early age accounted 
perfect Latin scholar, but also an enthusiastic student 
)f Greek letters ; whilst inherited tastes led him to 
appreciate the various writings in the Italian vernacular, 
ich the classical pedants of that age affected to despise. 
-Ie had a passion for all books and manuscripts, both in 
he dead and living languages, and these he devoured 
with avidity, remembering and quoting their contents 
nit of an excellent memory. In Rome he had long 
been recognised as a generous patron of literature in 
every form, and many a needy scholar had received a 
warm welcome at the Florentine cardinal's palace, which 
atterly contained the glorious library collected by his 
wn ancestors, but later confiscated by the Florentine 
Republic. This unique library the Cardinal had by some 

means contrived to repurchase in 1508, in which year 

ii 



1 62 THE MEDICI POPES 

its valuable contents, twice paid for by succeeding Medici, 
were brought to Rome and later were removed to the 
Vatican. This historic collection, one of the most im- 
portant and interesting in the world, was again removed 
by Clement VII. back to Florence and placed in a build- 
ing near the church of San Lorenzo, specially designed 
for its reception by Michelangelo and celebrated to-day 
as the Laurentian Library. But Leo in his youth had 
aspired to become something more than a mere patron, 
for he actually attempted to compose music and also to 
produce Latin verses, which were loudly applauded by 
the partakers of his bounty, although the only existing 
specimen of his Muse does not offer much either of 
originality of thought or charm of diction. Indeed, the 
poem in question an ode in the Iambic metre upon an 
antique statue of Lucretia, excavated in some Roman 
ruins has only drawn the faintest of praise from Leo's 
enthusiastic English biographer, who criticises his hero's 
attempt "as affording a sufficient proof, that if he had 
devoted a greater share of his attention to the cultivation 
of this department of letters, he might not wholly have 
despaired of success ". l But the worst poet often makes 
the best of patrons ; and the election of Leo X. at once 
aroused the warmest speculation in the minds of the 
learned world of Rome, of Italy, and even of Europe. 
Nor were these eager hopes doomed to disappointment, 
for that ideal reign of Minerva, for which poets and 
scholars had long been sighing, became under Leo a 
reality that surpassed the wildest dreams of the Human- 
ists who applauded the Conclave's choice. For the 
pontificate of Leo X. was in very truth the golden age 
of classical learning ; an age wherein scribblers of choice 

1 Roscoe, vol. ii. See Appendix of this book, where Leo's poem 
is quoted with a translation into English. 



THE COURT OF LEO X 163 

Latin odes or composers of fulsome epigrams gained 
such rewards as satisfied the most conceited ; an age of 
generous, if indiscriminate and undiscriminating patronage ; 
an elaborate orgy of learning and pseudo-learning; a 
millenium of poets and poetasters, of triflers, play-writers, 
musicians, singers, pedants and of every sort of personage 
who could amuse. Real native genius alone suffered 
the danger of neglect in this ecclesiastical Parnassus, so 
that men are nowadays only too apt to remember that 
the three chief contemporary writers in Italy Ludovico 
Ariosto the poet, Francesco Guicciardini the historian, 
nd Niccolo Machiavelli the unrivalled statesman ob- 
ained but a scanty share of that golden stream of patron- 
ge which flowed like a veritable Pactolus from its fount 
f honour at the Vatican. Yet Leo's love for learning 
deep and sincere, nor was his liberality, although it 
ailed to reach Ariosto, wholly confined to those medio- 
rities, the Neo-Latinists, whose output of graceful Latin 
erse actually exceeded in the few years of his reign the 
otal surviving mass of genuine classical literature. For 
was Leo who called the great Greek professor Lascaris 
o Rome, and gave every opportunity for the editing and 
rinting of the masterpieces of ancient Greece. He pro- 
ected the Roman Academy and revived its sunken 
lories ; he reorganised the University of Rome, and 
onferred such benefits upon it that his name and memory 
fere annually kept green by a special service held within 
s precincts for nearly four centuries ; a pious practice 
hich only ceased in modern times with the annexation 
f Rome to the Kingdom of Italy. 1 

Almost the first act of Leo, dating from the Conclave 
phich elected him, was the appointment of Pietro Bembo 

p. 141, 



1 64 THE MEDICI POPES 

and Jacopo Sadoleto as papal secretaries-of-state. These 
two writers, both favourable specimens of the scholar- 
ecclesiastic, who adorned the court of the cultured Leo, 
were selected for this high position on account of their 
ripe learning and elegant Latin rather than of their piety 
or attention to duty. But though guilty of moral failings, 
which the age laughed at rather than condemned in the 
case of a court prelate, the names of Bembo and Sadoleto 
undoubtedly shed a lustre on the reign of their master, 
whom they served well and faithfully on many diplomatic 
missions, and whose letters and despatches they com- 
posed in the choicest of Ciceronian Latin. The high 
favour shown to Bembo and Sadoleto not unnaturally 
aroused the envy of other aspiring Neo-Latinists, who in 
their turn easily obtained offices and preferment by 
reason of their learned or witty conversation and their 
capacity to produce poems and treatises in the dead 
languages. Thus there rose to fame and affluence a host 
of persons whose names alone would fill many pages, 
amongst them being the Neapolitan poets, Tebaldeo and 
the more famous Sannazzaro, who rated himself a second 
and superior Vergil ; Vida, the author of the Christiad ; 
the elegant Molza of Modena ; Fracastoro, the bard-! 
physician, who chose a most unpleasant theme for his- 
principal poem; that conceited but inferior genius, Ber- 
nardo Accolti of Arezzo, " the Only Aretine " /' Unicol 
Aretino, as Ariosto styled him at a court which would 
have considered crazy anyone daring to prefer his own 
impassioned cantos to the vapid productions of Accolti. 
This last was perhaps the favourite, theprimus inter pares, 
of that band of fawning Neo-Latinists on whom Leo was 
wont to shower bishoprics, canonries, governorships and 
public offices of all kinds ; the lucky members of which 
sometimes received a purse of five hundred pieces of gold 



THE COURT OF LEO X 165 

n return for a flattering epigram, or an abbey for a poem 
n the manner of Horace or Vergil to celebrate a day's 
mnting in the Campagna. 1 1 was an age that mistook the 
glitter of tinsel for pure gold, that deliberately preferred 
he frigid and artificial productions of an Accolti or a 
3embo to the immortal stanzas of an Ariosto. For in 
pite of natural talents, which the harshest critic has never 
dared to impugn, Leo in his pronounced partiality for the 
^atin tongue that bond of the literary brotherhood of 
ill Europe failed to distinguish between the excellent 
ind the mediocre ; he could pass by Ariosto's appeals 
with benevolent but condescending praise, yet in Accolti's 
ase he must needs fling open the doors of the Vatican to 
he crowd and proclaim a general holiday, in order that 
he citizens of Rome might not lose an opportunity of 
learing the recitations of one who surpassed all the poets 
>f antiquity ; he could bestow a friendly kiss on the cheek 
>f the court-bard of Ferrara, 1 but the gold and the public 
tppreciation were reserved for a pompous pedant such as 
the Only Aretine ". And in this case Leo's neglect of 
lis old friend Ariosto must be adjudged ungrateful as well 
is ungenerous ; "until the time when he went to Rome 
o be made a leo" writes the poet with suppressed bitter- 
Less in his Fourth Satire, " I was always agreeable to 
lim, and he himself apparently loved few better than my- 
elf. . . . Whilst the Lion was a whelp, he fondled his 
>laymate the spaniel, but when he arrived at lion's estate, 
found so many foxes and wolves about his den, that 
le cared little for his former playfellow." Various theories 1 
lave been propounded to account for the Pope's cold- 
less towards the first Italian poet of his age, and certain 
vriters have affected to find its true explanation in 

1 " La mano e poi le gote ambe mi prese. E' 1 santo bacio in V una 
T altra diede," 



1 66 THE MEDICI POPES 

Ariosto's political attachment to the House of Este rather 
than in an obvious lack of understanding of the merits of 
the Orlando Purioso. But whatever the cause, it remains 
an indisputable fact, that whilst the Vidas, the Beroaldos 
and the Accoltis found ample encouragement and wealth 
at Leo's court, the great poet of Ferrara was soon made 
to realise that his presence in Rome was superfluous, if 
not irksome to the Papal Maecenas. With regard to 
Guicciardini, as a prominent compatriot and a supporter 
of the Medici, the Florentine Livy obtained high diplo- 
matic posts, although his talents as a historian were 
ignored. Concerning Leo's recognition of Machiavelli's 
unique genius, we have only to record that such little 
attention as he received proceeded from the Cardinal 
Giulio de' Medici rather than from the Pope. And the 
same want of sympathy is to be observed in the case of 
the leading scholar outside Italy, for notwithstanding the 
court paid him by Erasmus, who dedicated his famous 
Greek Testament to the Pontiff, Leo ever refrained from 
inviting the greatest of the Humanists to Rome ; in spite 
too of the latter 's unmistakable hints for such a favour. 
For in April, 1515, Erasmus had written a long letter to 
the Pontiff, first excusing himself for his assurance in ad- 
dressing "one who is as high above Mankind, as is Man- 
kind above the brutes " ; and concluding with the words, 
" Oh, that it were granted me to throw myself at your 
most holy feet and imprint a kiss thereon ! " But 
although Erasmus was obviously so anxious to visit Rome 
and often spoke of his longing to return thither, his desi- 
derium Romae, His Holiness did little for him beyond 
accepting graciously the dedication of Erasmus' Testa- 
ment and giving him a letter to Henry VIII. of England. 
Even granting, therefore, that Leo's indifference to the 






THE COURT OF LEO X 167 

claims of Erasmus, Machiavelli, Guicciardini and Ariosto 
has been unfairly pressed by some modern critics, the 
simple fact remains that the four leading men of letters 
of that age received scant attention and less recom- 
pense in the golden days of Pope Leo X. 

Ranking below the classical scholars and literary 
relates of the court, but almost equally favoured by 
his Papal Maecenas, were the musicians, buffoons and 
mpr&vvisatori' "It is difficult to judge," remarks 
he satirist, Pietro Aretino, who accepted Leo's bounty 
or some years, "whether the merits of the learned or 
he tricks of the fools afforded most delight to His 
rloliness." In the science of music Leo, who possessed 
a correct ear as well as a pleasing voice, displayed an 
ntense interest, sometimes even himself condescending 
o take part in ditties, on which occasions he used in- 
variably to bestow purses of gold upon his lucky fellow- 
)erformers ; "when he sings with anyone, he presents 
lim with 200 ducats and even more " ; so writes the 
Venetian ambassador to his government. But usually 
Leo preferred to listen in a state of dreamy rapture, 
softly humming the melody to himself and gently 
waving a white be-jewelled hand in response to the 
rhythm of the song or to the delicate strains of Brando- 
lini's violin. For Raffaele Brandolini, the blind musician 
and improvvisatore, was a particular favourite with Leo 
"he was the apple of the Pope's eye" and it was 
one of the patron's delights to arrange friendly contests 
between Brandolini and another violin-player, Marone 
of Brescia, whose interesting face is so well known to 
us from Raphael's beautiful portrait. 1 Both these 
musicians ranked likewise as the leading improvvisatori 
of the court, where they were wont to practise that art 

1 Formerly in the gallery of the Sciarra-Colonna Palace, Rome. 



1 68 THE MEDICI POPES 

of giving expression to poetical feeling in impromptu 
verse which is peculiar to Italy, and was at that date 
especially appreciated by the Florentines. Leo, like 
his father before him, loved these duels of wit and 
poetry, which sometimes took the form of spoken argu- 
ments in Latin elegiacs ; indeed, the Pontiff himself on 
more than one occasion proved himself as skilful in these 
contests as any professional member of his court. This 
curious Italian art probably reached its height of elegance, 
and also of abuse, at the gay court of Leo, who not only 
applauded the choice extemporary verses and sweet 
melodies of Marone and Brandolini, but loved likewise 
to extract uproarious fun from the efforts of their feebler 
and less refined imitators. An unfortunate creature, 
Camillo Querno by name, but universally termed the 
Arch- Poet, who had composed a ridiculous epic of 
twenty thousand lines and had been formally crowned 
in derision by the wits of the Roman Academy with a 
wreath of laurel, cabbage and vine leaves in allusion to 
his bad verses and his drunken habits, was occasionally 
invited to improvise at the Pope's table. Plied with 
strong wines till he could scarce stand upright and be- 
sought to spout his halting hexameters, the poor wretch 
was continually insulted and quizzed in the presence of 
His Holiness, who even stooped on one occasion to 
bandy repartee with Querno. Turning towards the 
Arch-Poet, already hopelessly intoxicated, the Pontiff 
in his blandest manner begged him to repeat an im- 
promptu hexameter. 

" Archipoeta facit versus pro mille poetis," 
(Worthy a thousand poets thine Arch-Bard,) 

hiccoughed Querno in reply to the Pope's challenge ; 
whereupon Leo at once observed with mock severity 






THE COURT OF LEO X 169 

" Et pro mille aliis Archipoeta bibit." 
(Of all the poets none e'er drank so hard.) 

With throat parched from his recent recitation, the Arch- 
Poet next addressed his host thus : 

" Porrige quod faciat mihi carmina docta Falernum " ; 
(Grant roe good wine to make my songs more sweet ;) 

to which sentiment Leo retorted in tones of solemn 
warning : 

" Hoc enim enervat debilitatque pedes." 
(Wine enervates the brain and clogs the feet.) 1 

This spectacle of the tipsy Arch-Poet being chaffed 
y "the Jupiter of Earth," "the Thunderer of the 
r atican," "the Thirteenth Apostle" (as one clerical 
atterer did not scruple to address the first Medicean 
} ope), does not afford us an edifying picture of the 

man court ; but that love of low buffoonery and in- 
atiable craving for amusement, which seem to have been 
nnate both in Lorenzo the Magnificent and in his 
econd son, were destined to lead the Pontiff into yet 
lore outrageous follies. A certain Baraballo, a priest 
f Gaeta and a man of good family and reputation, was 
nhappily for his own peace of mind an indifferent 
Dinner of rhymes, who fancied his own feeble composi- 
ons fully equal to those of Petrarch, and therefore worthy 
f special recognition from the Supreme Pontiff. 

Arrived in Rome, the foolish Baraballo openly an- 
ounced the true cause of his visit, whereupon the 
ourtiers, scenting the possibility of a merry escapade at 
he expense of the poet's conceit and incapacity, at once 
et to flatter the vain aspirant to the top of their bent, 
public coronation on the Roman Capitol, argued they, 

1 Fabroni, pp. 163, 164. Roscoe, vol. ii., pp. 224, 225, note 



170 THE MEDICI POPES 

such as Petrarch had once received, could scarcely afford 
sufficient recompense to such a Heaven-sent genius, and 
the foolish old fellow swallowed all this nonsense with- 
out for a moment perceiving how the whole court from 
the Pope downward was giggling with suppressed mirth 
at the crude and inane verses he was made daily to re- 
cite. Finally, Leo himself with honeyed words of en- 
couragement persuaded the conceited poet to demand a 
coronation on the Capitol, such as had been conceded to 
his master, or rather fore-runner, the divine Petrarch. 
In spite of the entreaties of his horrified family, who saw 
with shame and indignation the mean trick that was 
being played on their elderly relative, Baraballo's self- 
sufficiency was so boundless that he fell easily into the 
cruel trap prepared for him. He even listened to the 
Pope's suggestion that the elephant, which King 
Manuel I. of Portugal had recently sent as a present 
to His Holiness and the like of which had not been seen 
in Rome since the days of the Empire, should be gorge- 
ously caparisoned for this very purpose, so that the unique 
bard might ride on the unique quadruped from the Vatican 
to the Capitol, where the coveted laurel wreath awaited 
him. All Rome hastened to be present at so strange 
an exhibition ; the windows and terraces of the Vatican 
were filled with cardinals, nobles and prelates, all striving 
to conceal their pent-up mirth; whilst "the Jupiter of 
Earth " himself, seated in a convenient balcony, smilingly 
surveyed the animated scene through his spy-glass. 
With some difficulty the latter-day Petrarch, clad in a 
scarlet toga fringed with gold, was lifted into a richly 
decorated saddle on the animal's back, and his sandalled 
feet thrust into a pair of gilded stirrups. The merriment 
of court and populace alike was now at its height ; the 
affair was, in fact, the extreme triumph of Renaissance 



THE COURT OF LEO X 171 

practical joking. "I could never have believed," writes 
Paolo Giovio, who was an eye-witness both of the 
splendours and the follies of the Leonine Age as well as 
of the horrors of the sack of Rome which succeeded them, 
" I could never have believed in such an incident, if I 
ad not seen it myself and actually laughed at it : the 
pectacle of an old man of sixty bearing an honoured 
ame, stately and venerable in appearance, hoary-headed, 
iding upon an elephant to the sound of trumpets ! " 
or to the accompaniment of music and the now unre- 
trained laughter of the whole assembly, this strange 
recession with Baraballo in antique festal robes, perched 
roudly aloft on an Indian elephant led by its impassive 
riental keeper, began its progress towards the Capitol, 
vhere the eager poet looked to receive the expected 
rown of merit. But the shouts of the populace, the 
raying of the trumpets, and the general absurdity of 
le whole proceeding so alarmed the sagacious beast, 
vhich certainly owned more sense than the rider on its 
ack, that it positively refused to cross the bridge at 
Sant' Angelo, whereupon Baraballo was forced to dis- 
nount amidst roars of laughter from the Pope to the 
eanest street-urchin. 2 So tickled with this feat was the 
nerry Pope, that he at once commissioned Gian Barile, 
ho was then engaged in carving the beautiful doors 
md shutters in the Vatican, to introduce the elephant's 
)icture into the cornice he was at that moment design- 

1 Jovius, lib. iv. 

2 Alexander Pope confuses and combines the two separate in- 
:idents connected with Querno and Baraballo : 

" Not with more glee, by hands pontific crowned, 
With scarlet hats wide waving circled round, 
Rome in her Capitol saw QUERNO sit 
Throned on seven hills, the Antichrist of wit ! " 

(The Dunciad, book ii., 13-16.) 



1 72 THE MEDICI POPES 

ing, and even the Prince of Painters was requested to 
confer immortality by his brush upon Baraballo's steed. 
It is not surprising, however, to learn that graver men in 
Rome, particularly foreign ambassadors and chance 
visitors, were not a little scandalised by this elaborately 
planned and unfeeling jest, as well as at the plain cir- 
cumstance that the most august personage in Christen- 
dom could obtain satisfaction out of such frivolity. Yet 
Leo was a true Florentine, and this disagreeable type of 
practical joking was prevalent in his native city, where 
even at the present day a carefully prepared hoax at the 
expense of a conceited compatriot is reckoned as the 
highest form of human wit ; nor are recent instances of 
this antiquated form of elaborate and heartless merriment 
wanting in the provincial town which was once th< 
capital of Tuscany. 

Another markedly Florentine trait in the Pope's 
character was his intense and never-failing delight in 
the antics and jests of dwarfs and buffoons, numbers of 
whom haunted the Vatican, where every description of 
silly prank was played upon human beings w T ho are 
nowadays regarded as the objects of pity rather than of 
sport. Taste in viands and in amusement has changed 
so completely, that it is difficult to realise that in Leo's 
days the presence of the half-crazy or the deformed at 
the banquet was reckoned fully as essential as the strange 
indigestible dishes that no modern palate would tolerate. 
Many and many a time was the Pope's table set in a 
roar by the sight of these hungry sycophants greedily 
devouring carrion that had been disguised in rich sauces 
under the impression they were eating choice meats 
daintily prepared ; or by the dexterity of some brutal 
courtier, who had contrived to hit one of these poor 
creatures full in the face with a bone or a hot batter 







CARVED SHUTTER WITH MEDICEAN EMBLEMS 

IN THE VATICAN 



THE COURT OF LEO X 173 

pudding; 1 even the very lacqueys were permitted to 
pander to the *r masters' perverted sense of the ridicu- 
lous by teasing and bullying these papal parasites. 

On a higher plane than these buffoons was the arch- 
jester of the court, the redoubtable Fra Mariano Fetti, 
a personage of some distinction, since he had succeeded 
the great architect Bramante in the office of plumbator, 
or keeper of the papal seals : an appointment that natur- 
ally had raised most unfavourable comment in exalted 
quarters. This strange friar, who to a certain extent pos- 
sessed the same contradictory nature as his master, is said 
to have been originally a barber in the household of 
Lorenzo the Magnificent, and later to have been con- 
verted to a serious view of life by the sermons of 
Savonarola. Entering the Dominican fraternity as a 
lay-brother, Fra Mariano became for a time one of the 
most prominent of the Piagnoni, or " Snivellers," as the 
more ardent of the followers of the prior of San Marco 
were contemptuously nicknamed ; but it is evident 
that by the time Leo X. ascended the papal throne, all 
the good effects of a religious revival had long vanished. 
His coarse but amusing sayings, his witty insolence 
towards the grandees of Rome and his insatiable appetite 
at table all combined to tickle the Pope's thoroughly 
Tuscan sense of humour, so that "the Cowled Buffoon" 
II Buffone cucullato soon grew to be a prominent 
and even an influential member of the Roman court, 
where his magic gift of arousing Leo's merriment or of 
removing his wrath at any moment and under any 

1 "The Arch-poet was so disfigured by a wound given him in 
the face by some person who had taken offence at his intemperance 
and gluttony, that he was deterred from attending the banquets of the 
Pontiff so frequently as he had before been accustomed to do " 
(Roscoe, vol. ii., p. 225). 



i 7 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

circumstances was of such obvious value that many an 
intending suppliant found it well worth his while to 
gain the Prate's good-will. He is said to have eaten 
forty eggs at a sitting in order to win a smile from His 
Holiness ; and he was the constant butt of the younger 
cardinals at the hunting-parties at La Magliana or Palo. 
Yet Fra Mariano was in reality no fool, seeing that he 
was also the discerning patron of that great master, Fra 
Bartolommeo, who adored this strange being, as well as 
of the artist Baldassare Peruzzi, who by his orders 
decorated a beautiful chapel in the church of San 
Silvestro, adjoining the Dominican convent wherein the 
Cowled Buffoon usually resided. It would not prove 
a difficult task to moralise at length upon the curious 
character of Fra Mariano and upon this highly un- 
pleasant aspect of Leo's court and daily life, as also 
upon the sharp contrast afforded by the Pope's praise- 
worthy patronage of letters and the fine arts thus 
counterbalanced by the gross pleasure derived from 
such disgusting exhibitions of human folly and weakness. 
But the Medici was a true child of his age ; a true 

O ' 

Florentine in his tastes. Moreover, every prince, and 
almost every prelate, of the Italian Renaissance possessed 
in varying degree the same love of letters, art, amuse- 
ment and ribaldry ; it was Leo's peculiar fault that he 
allowed his natural bent for frivolity and low company 
to obtain an undue ascendancy in the daily life of his 
court. 1 

Far less culpable than this passion for silly jesting 
was Leo's delight in dramatic performances, the proper 
development of which was not a little enhanced by his 
patronage. The Sophonisba of Gian-Giorgio Trissino 

1 Pastor, chap, x., pp. 350-424; Jovius, lib. iv. ; Roscoe, vol. ii., 
chap, xvii., etc., etc. 






THE COURT OF LEO X 175 

ind the Rosmunda of his own cousin, Giovanni Rucellai 
two of the earliest of historical tragedies in blank verse 
'versi scolti) and therefore the Italian fore-runners of the 
Shakespearean plays had drawn the highest of praise 
om the fastidious Leo, whose perpetual craving for 
musement, however, led him to prefer the broad comedies 
Ariosto, Machiavelli and the Cardinal Bibbiena. The 
st-named, as the author of the Calandria, has some- 
mes been styled "the Father of Italian comedy," 
though the real merit of invention undoubtedly rests 
ith Ariosto, who had already written the Cassaria and 
e Suppositi some years before the Cardinal composed 
s all-too-famous farce. The author of the Calandria, 
hich is largely adapted from a classical model, the 
^enoeckmi of Plautus, in the prologue excuses his use 
the Italian language ; ".because the tongue that God 
nd Nature have given us is worthy of no less esteem 
an Latin, Greek and Hebrew" a patriotic sentiment 
hich can hardly have been relished by the many 
edantic Neo-Latinists who witnessed it. The plot 
the play, which was arranged to suit existing conditions 
life in Italy, centres round the crass stupidity of a 
ertain Calandro, desperately in love with a charming 
rl, who has a twin-brother so closely resembling her- 
If in voice, figure and general appearance, that the 
,ger lover is completely mystified, when sister and 
rother for a freak exchange their garments. The 
elicate situations, most indelicately treated, that are 
used by this premeditated confusion form the chief 
cidents of the Cardinal's play, which is full of the 
>arsest of Tuscan humour and "little more than a farce 
uffed with gross and obscene jests". 1 Yet with the 
est actors procurable to present the piece, with the 

ri, vol. ii., p. 341. 



176 THE MEDICI POPES 

illustrious author himself superintending, with the first 
artists of the day engaged to arrange and paint the stage- 
scenery, and with a brilliant audience composed largely : 
of Florentines, it is easy to understand how the Calandria, 
was received with rapturous applause when it was acted 
at the Vatican for the special entertainment of Isabella 
d' Este in the autumn of 1514. For it was not only 
the absurdity and nastiness of the comedy that entranced 
the Pope, his guest the Marchioness of Mantua, and the; 
cardinals, courtiers, prelates and maids-of-honour, but 
likewise the excellent acting, the interludes of choice 
music, and most of all the marvellous and novel effects 
of perspective, which Baldassare Peruzzi had introduced 
into the scene-painting and which in after-years drew aj 
well-merited tribute of praise from Giorgio Vasari, the] 
Plutarch of Italian painters. Since, therefore, the Calan- 
dria may fairly be ranked as the first comedy, acted in 
the vulgar tongue, adapted to the uses and customs of the 
day, and fitted with proper stage effects and accessories, 
Vasari's brief description of this historic performance at 
the Vatican ought not to be omitted here : 

"When the Calandria, a drama written by the 
Cardinal da Bibbiena, was performed before Pope Leo, 
Baldassare prepared all the scenic arrangements for that 
spectacle in a manner no less beautiful . . . and his 
labours of this kind deserve all the more praise from the 
fact that these performances of the theatre had long 
been out of use, the festivals and sacred dramas having 
taken their place. But either before or after the re- 
presentation of the Calandria, which was one of the first 
comedies seen or recited in the vulgar tongue, in the 
time of Pope Leo X., that is to say, Baldassare painted 
two of these scenic decorations, which were surprisingly 
beautiful, and which opened the way to those of a 



THE COURT OF LEO X 177 

similar kind, which have been made in our own day. 

Now it appears difficult ever to imagine how this artist 

has found it possible, within the closely limited space to 
ich he was restricted, how he has found it possible, I 
ay, to exhibit such a variety of objects as he has depicted ; 
uch a number of streets, palaces, temples, toggle and 
nciful erections of all kinds, so perfectly represented 
lat they do not look like things feigned, but are as the 
ving reality. Neither does the piazza, which is the 
te of all these edifices, appear to be, as it is, a narrow 
Dace merely painted, but looks entirely real and of noble 
xtent. In the arrangement of the lights also, Baldassare 
lowed equal ability in those of the interior, which are 
esigned to enhance the effect of the views in perspective 

nore especially. Every other requisite demanded for 
le occasion was added with similar judgment, and this 
the more remarkable, because the habit of preparing 
uch things, as I have said, had been totally lost." 1 

The marked success of the Calandria paved the 
ay for further representations of sprightly but indecent 
irces, which even included a performance in the year 
519 of Machiavelli's Mandragola (sometimes called the 
fuias), which is still accounted one of the most witty 
omedies ever written in the Italian tongue, although its 
lain action revolves around a plot that is absolutely 
evoking to modern taste. 2 The fun, moreover, that the 
reat Florentine satirist openly pokes at the hypocrisy 
nd covetousness of the Italian clergy would seem to 

1 Vasari, Life of Baldassare Peruzzi of Siena, Bohn's edition, vol. 
, pp. 165, 166. 

2 Performances of the Mandragola (to which young persons are 
:ver admitted) are still given in Machiavelli's own city of Florence, 
here his masterpiece was acted in the autumn of 1906. For an 
nglish appreciation of the Mandragola, see Lord Macaulay's Essay 
n Machiavelli. 



178 THE MEDICI POPES 

mark this drama as more likely to offend than to amuse 
the chief priest of Christendom ; yet we learn on the 
authority of Paolo Giovio that the reported success of 
the Mandragola in Florence and its perusal in manuscript 
induced Leo to command a repetition of the play in 
Rome, with the same Florentine actors and the same set 
of stage scenery, "in order that the City might also 
participate in its delights " ; these delights including of 
course the amusing but shameless sayings of its leading 
character, Fra Timoteo, the canting parish-priest. 1 
Nevertheless, Leo X. was a true son of his House, the 
very personification of the versatile spirit of his native 
Florence, so that in his particular case nothing, however 
incredible, could be deemed impossible, although if any 
further proof were needed to testify to the appalling and 
universal corruption of Italian society, priestly and secular, 
it would be found in the circumstance that this cynical 
exposure, in the guise of comedy, of rottenness in Church 
and State was permitted openly with the approval of the 
Supreme Pontiff. Less objectionable, if less witty than 
Machiavelli's famous farce, was Ariosto's Suppositi, 
which by papal command was represented on a cele- 
brated occasion in the great hall of the castle of Sant' 
Angelo on the Sunday preceding the Carnival of 1519, 
within a few weeks, that is to say, of the young Lorenzo's 
death and of the consequent extinction of Leo's own 
family. The immense frescoed saloon was crowded with 
a jostling audience of bishops and priests, of courtiers and 
nobles, so that even the ambassadors with their trains 
came to be hustled somewhat in the assembly, which is 
said to have numbered nearly two thousand persons. 
Seated on a dais above the struggling throng of his 
guests, the Pope from beginning to end expressed his 
1 Villari, vol. ii., p. 342, note 2. 



THE COURT OF LEO X 179 

liveliest satisfaction in the entertainment. First extend- 
ing his hand in benediction above the distinguished 
crowd below, His Holiness after making a prolonged ex- 
amination of the drop-scene which concealed the stage, 
suddenly burst into unrestrained mirth, as his spy-glass 
revealed to him a clever representation from the brush 
of Raphael of poor Fra Mariano being teased by a 
lumber of tiny devils with horns, hoofs and spiky tails. 
To the softest strains of music the painted curtain was 
tien slowly raised, whereupon the stage appeared to 
w, fantastically lighted by means of numerous lamps 
)laced in clusters so as to form the official papal cipher. 
3ut more effective than this artistic illumination was the 
cenery itself, for the divine Raphael had been actively 
mployed in painting a picture of the town of Ferrara, 
which must have eclipsed easily the earlier marvels of 
is inferior rival, Peruzzi. After gazing long and lovingly 
t this triumph of scenic art, the Pope's attention was 
ext attracted by the appearance on the boards of a 
erald, who recited a prologue, so comical that it sent 
le papal court into hearty fits of laughter, and so highly 
ndecorous that the foreign envoys, even those of the 
talian states, were quite scandalised; "what a pity 
uch an unseemly prologue should be spoken in the 
Tesence of so august a sovereign ! " was the comment 
f the none-too-particular Alfonso Paolucci, the re- 
resentative of Ferrara at the papal court. In the play 
self, however, which as the work of his own compatriot, 
VEesser Ludovico Ariosto, this Ferrarese censor of Roman 
norals was bound to admire, Paolucci found nothing ob- 
ectionable, which was fortunate, since Innocenzo Cybb, 
eo's own nephew and youngest cardinal, was actually 
aking a prominent part in the dialogue. Paolucci 
kewise admired the dances and the moresca with which 



i8o THE MEDICI POPES 

the entertainment concluded ; also the incidental music, 
and particularly the sweet tones of an organ that the 
Cardinal of Aragon had lately presented to His Holiness, 
" although they were not to be compared with the 
performances at your Majesty's own court of Ferrara ". 
Perhaps the Ferrarese envoy's praise would have been 
less faint had he not nearly broke his leg, in spite of the 
Pope's preliminary benediction, in the ugly scramble 
that ensued at the close of the entertainment, whilst the 
vast audience was forcing its way into an adjoining 
room where a splendid collation was laid out for the 
papal guests ; even a pleasant conversation at the supper- 
table with the Cardinals of Aragon and Salviati, who 
of course lauded Messer Ariosto to the skies before his 
countryman, failed to remove Paolucci's chagrin. 1 

Performances of the newly-invented comedy appear 
however somewhat rare when compared with the fre- 
quent masques, ballets, processions, mummings and 
moresche, which the new dramatic revival was destined 
later to supplant in popular favour. These older-fashioned 
diversions were constantly given on the most lavish scale, 
especially at Carnival time or during any state visit to 
the city, which was thus ever kept interested and amused 
in accordance with the policy formerly pursued by Lorenzo 
the Magnificent in Florence. Nevertheless the more sea 
and the ballet were sometimes made the vehicle for ex- 
pressions of popular opinion, since Leo's notorious levity 
and intense sense of humour served to embolden the 
contrivers of these entertainments, who thus wished to 
notify their views on passing questions of the day. In- 
stead of a trite classical theme, such as the Labours of II, 
Hercules or the story of Ariadne, some burning topic of 

iReumont, Geschichte der Stadt Rom, vol. iii., pp. 133, 134; 
Pastor, chap, x., etc. 



THE COURT OF LEO X 181 

the hour would be treated in an allegorical fashion, and 
the easy-going Pope led to draw his own conclusions 
from the incidents represented. Perhaps the most re- 
markable of these mummings with a purpose was a certain 
moresca undertaken by Sienese actors in the courtyard 
of Sant' Angelo during the spring of the very year that 
witnessed Leo's own death. The schism of Luther and 
the subsequent religious struggle in Germany were in 
everyone's thoughts, and all reflecting Christians had 
lately been much excited by the action of the monks of 
Wittenberg, who had openly and with intent broken their 
monastic vows. That this heinous behaviour was not 
altogether reprobated, even in Italy, would appear evident 
from the extraordinary spectacle which Leo and his court 
witnessed apparently without protest or annoyance 
and which Castiglione has described in a letter addressed 
to the court of Mantua. On an empty stage is placed 
a pavilion of sad-coloured drapery, from which emerges 
a beautiful young female, who in elegant verses calls 
upon the Goddess of Love to procure her a husband. A 
Dlast from an unseen trumpet is supposed to announce 
that Venus has granted her fair suppliant's natural re- 
quest, whereupon eight hermits in flowing robes of dark 
grey rush upon the boards. Suddenly perceiving a 
statue of Cupid, the grey-clad figures, who presumably 
are intended to personate cloistered monks, shoot with 
arrows at the son of Venus, who promptly comes to life 
on his pedestal and runs for protection to his mother, at 
that moment advancing on to the stage. The hermits 
next accept an opiate from the hands of the rejected 
damsel, and immediately sink to sleep on the floor. 
Venus then supplies bow and arrows to her son, who in 
lis turn transfixes the prostrate bodies of the sleeping 
lermits. The slumberers thereupon awaken, and at 



i8 2 THE MEDICI POPES 

once proceed to make frantic demonstrations of love 
towards the lady that they have hitherto spurned. 
Circling madly round her, they fling aside their dusky 
weeds to appear as handsome youths, who dance a 
graceful measure to soft and seductive music. Having 
performed their measure, they invite the damsel to 
select a husband out of their number, bidding her shoot 
seven and accept the survivor ; a suggestion that the 
charming creature acts upon without further ado. The 
naive moral, that it is better for a young man to be dead 
than living as a cloistered monk, and better still to be 
married than dead, must have been thus made obvious 
to the quick intelligence of the Pontiff, who seems to 
have been amused and by no means scandalised by this 
thinly veiled satire upon the evils of clerical celibacy. 1 

Whilst a Cardinal residing in Rome, Leo had lived 
in a chronic state of debt, so that his subsequent extra- 
vagance can have caused small surprise amongst the 
princes of the Church who had elected him. Indeed, 
one of the earliest acts of his reign had been to squander 
100,000 ducats, nearly a quarter of the whole public 
treasury, upon the empty pageant of the Sacro Possesso; 
nor had many months elapsed before the papal coffers, 
filled with the savings of the frugal Julius, were practic- 
ally emptied ; in the words of a critic of the day, Leo 
managed to consume within a twelvemonth the whole 
revenues of his predecessor, of himself and of his suc- 
cessor. He was naturally a bad financier, but he seems 
in addition to have had a sovereign contempt for all 
forms of economy, public or private ; " the Pope could 
no more save a thousand ducats than a stone could fly 

1 Letter of Count Baldassare Castiglione to the Marchioness of 
Mantua, 1521. Pastor, chap. x. 



THE COURT OF LEO X 183 

up into the sky," was the caustic comment of Francesco 
Vettori upon his master's reckless expenditure. It was 
ucky for Leo's personal popularity in Rome that the 
Romans themselves were inclined to attribute the in- 
creased extravagance flaunted openly on all sides to the 
malign influence of his many Florentine dependants 
ather than to the Pope's own inclination. For city and 
:ourt alike had been overwhelmed in the late irruption 
>f sharp-witted, commercial-spirited Tuscans, high and 
ow, rich and poor, who had crowded into Rome on the 
election of their Medicean ruler to the pontifical throne. 
D revious Popes certainly had favoured their own country- 
men, but never within living memory had the Eternal 
'ity beheld such a horde of alien adventurers descending 
jpon her, all bent on obtaining offices and grants of 
monopolies, so that grumblers in Rome loudly declared 
heir city had sunk to the condition of a Florentine 
olony. On the other hand, it is fairly certain that the 
pe must ere long have been made bankrupt, had it 
lot been for the assistance of the Florentine bankers 
he Strozzi, Altoviti, Salviati and other families, who 
ivere shortly in possession of some thirty houses of 
Dusiness on the left shore of the Tiber and were ever 
eady to lighten the Medici's heavy financial burdens 
:>y advancing money at an exorbitant rate of interest, 
ometimes rising to forty per cent. Lack of funds seems 
o have been the root of all evil in Leo's case, for almost 
ivery illegal or unscrupulous act that disgraced his reign 
an generally be traced to the Pope's thriftless methods 
md inordinate love of splendour ; for never perhaps has 
my prince, outside an Eastern tale, indulged in greater 
magnificence or scattered more profuse largesse. The 
gentlemen and clerks of the court amounted to over six 
mndred, whilst the full number of attendants, valets, 



184 THE MEDICI POPES 

scullions, grooms, keepers of hawk and hound must have 
been truly prodigious, to judge from the contemporary 
accounts of the papal mode of life. But the normal ex- 
penses of the court with its daily banquets and its frequent 
entertainments were immeasurably swollen by the vast 
additional sums spent on objects so varied as the lavish 
decoration of the Apostolic palace itself ; the re-building 
of St. Peter's that fatal legacy of the grandiose Julius 
to his successors ; the buying of ancient manuscripts ; 
the endless stream of charities to the old, the poor and 
the religious ; the innumerable commissions to artists and 
goldsmiths, and the purchase of French hound and Ice- 
landic falcon for the Pope's sport. Nor in this list of 
expenses must mention be omitted of the money 
squandered at the gaming-table, where Leo was often 
wont to play for hours at his favourite primiero? punctu- 
ally paying his losses, but carelessly flinging his winnings 
over his shoulder to the surrounding crowd of parasites. 
"i A medley of intricate politics and of unseemly frivolities, 
of indecorous farces and of elaborate Church ceremonies, 
of jovial hunting-parties and of intellectual discussions, 
of extravagant entertainments and of theological debates, 
of grave discourse with foreign ambassadors and of ob- 
scene jesting in low company ; such was that "enjoy- 
ment of the Papacy," which Leo had once invited his 
brother Giuliano to share with him on his election. For 
nothing which might tend either to his amusement or in- 
struction came amiss to this true child of the Florentine 
House of Medici; "the masterpieces of antiquity and 
the admirable creations of contemporary artists did not 
interest him less than the accounts of newly-discovered 
lands, the elegant poems and tasteful speeches of the 

1 Primiero, a simple game with cards, somewhat resembling the 
English game of " Beggar-my-Neighbour ". 





CARDINAL BERNARDO DOVIZI DA B1BBIENA 



THE COURT OF LEO X 185 

iumanists ; the frivolous comedies of a Bibbiena and 
n Ariosto ; the delightful concerts of choice music ; the 
lever verses of improvvisatori and the coarse jokes of 
only too-welcome buffoons of the courts of that 
eriod. He avoided all unpleasantness as a fundamental 
ule, and gave himself up without restraint to amusement : 
trait that was peculiar to his family, and was increased 
y his surroundings. He enjoyed all with the delight 
f a spoiled child of the world." l 

Perhaps our clearest conception of these golden days 
f the first Medicean Pope can best be obtained from ex- 
iting accounts of the visit which the celebrated Isabella 

Este, Marchioness of Mantua, paid to the papal court 

uring the winter of I5i4~5, 2 when the Marchesa, to 

rhose infant son Ferrante the Pontiff had stood god- 

ather some eight years before, resided for four months 

Rome. The wit and beauty of this typical great lady 
f the Italian Renaissance immediately won the hearts 
fall the princes of the Church in Rome, who were only 
oo pleased to welcome into their midst that female 
lement, the absence of which the gallant Bibbiena was 
/ont so often to deplore. Received in full state at the 
apal frontier by her old friends Bibbiena and Giuliano 
e' Medici, Isabella made her way to the Vatican, where 
.eo received the fair diplomatist (for the Marchesa was 
ombining political business with enjoyment on this occa- 
on) in his suavest and most paternal manner, albeit the 
rinces of the Houses of Este and Gonzaga, old Medicean 
iends in days of poverty and exile, were no longer held 

good odour by the ambitious Pontiff. He even re- 
jsed to permit his graceful suppliant to remain on her 

1 Pastor, chap. x. 

2 For this incident see Signer Alessandro Luzio's study, Isabella d 1 
Iste ne primordi del Papato di Leone X., etc. (Milano, 1907). 



1 86 THE MEDICI POPES 

knees at his throne, but bade her sit beside him like a 
queen, and was lavish of gifts, promises and expressions 
of good-will towards herself, her husband and her charm- 
ing children. The Pope's cordial reception was the sig- 
nal for an endless stream of invitations to the Marchesa 
and her sprightly maids-of-honour, who during their so- 
journ in Rome found themselves plunged into a positive 
whirlpool of banquets, balls, processions, hunting-parties, 
popular festivals and dramatic performances (amongst 
the last-named being the historic production of Bibbiena's 
Calandria, already mentioned). In the rare intervals 
permitted by this sequence of gaieties, the Marchesa, 
escorted by Raphael, was wont to visit the antiquities of 
the city or to inspect the many treasures of ancient and 
contemporary art in its principal palaces. Of a truth, 
however, there was very little leisure to spare for such 
matters, seeing that the entertainments organised in her 
honour scarcely allowed her sufficient time for sleep, still 
less for intellectual study. " Yesterday," writes Isabella's 
secretary to his master in Mantua, "the very reverend 
Cardinal Riario gave us a supper so extraordinarily 
sumptuous that it might suffice for all the queens in the 
world. We sate for four full hours at table, laughing 
and chatting with those most reverend Cardinals." 3 
Contemporary accounts of these banquets leave modern 
readers astounded at the variety, quantity, and incon- 
gruity of the viands offered on state occasions. Sweet 
and savoury, pastry and game, were all served at one 
and the same time, whilst the spirit of vulgar ostentation 
was satisfied by endless courses of rich dishes, so that 
only the trained gluttons of the period, such as Fra 
Mariano, were able to do them justice. Merriment 
amongst the guests was commonly aroused by some 

1 A. Luzio, Isabella tf Este, etc. 



THE COURT OF LEO X 187 

uch device as a huge pie filled with blackbirds or 
ightingales, which, in the manner of the old nursery 
itty, flew twittering up to the ceiling when the host 
autiously cut the enclosing crust. At other times ap- 
lause was easily evoked by such puerile absurdities as 

dish of peacocks' tongues or by a monster pasty, 
^hence a child would emerge to lisp some complimentary 
r indelicate verses to the assembled guests. Loud and 
ten uncouth music was kept up incessantly throughout 
lese long-drawn-out feasts, a tolerable idea of which 
an be gleaned from the Venetian envoy's description 
: one of Cardinal Cornaro's dinners. "The meal was 
xquisite," writes the astonished ambassador; "there 
ras an endless succession of dishes, for we had sixty- 
ve courses, each course consisting of three different 
ishes, all of which were placed on the board with mar- 

illous speed. Scarcely had we finished one dainty, 
lan a fresh plate was set before us, and yet everything 
ras served on the finest of silver, of which his Eminence 
as an abundant supply. At the end of the meal we 
ose from table gorged with the multiplicity of the 
iands and deafened by the continual concert, carried 
n both within and without the hall and proceeding from 
very instrument that Rome could produce fifes, harp- 
chords and four-stringed lutes in addition to the voices 
f hired singers." 1 Nevertheless, Cornaro's festal dinner 
lust have been far inferior to the banquet provided for 
Marchioness of Mantua by Raffaele Riario, who had 
le finest palace and the largest revenue of all the 
ardinals in Rome, and whose wealth was only surpassed 
y the income of the Sienese banker, Agostino Chigi. 
"his famous merchant-prince and patron of the fine 
rts had himself on one occasion given a memorable 
1 Rdazioni degli Oratori Veneti, 



i88 THE MEDICI POPES 

entertainment to the Supreme Pontiff, whereat the feast 
was prepared in a new building fitted out for a stable. 
The walls of this beautifully proportioned hall had how- 
ever been hung with the finest of tapestry so that the 
general effect was pleasing in the extreme. The Pope 
and the distinguished guests present were astonished not 
only at the luxury of the meal and the splendid hangings 
of Chigi's supposed new dining hall, but were also amazed 
to find every piece of plate in use already engraved 
with the armorial bearings of the persons invited. At 
the conclusion of so sumptuous a feast, the Pontiff him- 
self began to congratulate his host on his magnificent 
chamber, regretting that even the Vatican could show 
no room equally spacious or richly furnished ; whereupon 
Chigi, who was evidently expecting the expression of 
some such sentiment, gave the signal to his servants to 
unfasten the cords supporting the arras, which imme- 
diately fell in a mass to the floor, exhibiting to the 
astounded Pope the empty racks and mangers of the 
steeds that were shortly to be installed in the vast 
apartment which had so excited the envious admiration 
of the splendour-loving Medici "Your Holiness, this 
is not my banqueting hall ; it is merely my stable ! " 

As Carnival approached, the fun waxed faster and 
more furious, since each cardinal in Rome strove to in- 
vent some fresh pastime for the fair stranger, who could 
bandy repartee with the witty Bibbiena or discourse well 
of Greek letters with the cultured Leo. "Yesterday," 
so writes Isabella on the 29th January, 1515, to her 
lord, "to make a beginning of the festivals and merry- 
making of Carnival, His Magnificence Lorenzo de' 
Medici invited us to dine at his house . . . where we 
saw a splendid bull-fight in which four bulls were killed. 
The performance lasted about three hours. When dusk 



THE COURT OF LEO X 189 

;et in, we fell to dancing for about three hours' space, 
t the festival appeared the most reverend the Cardinals 
>f Aragon, Este, Petrucci and Cybb, all masked; but 
;he Cardinals Bibbiena and Cornaro, who were likewise 
,upping there, went unmasked. The sisters and nephew 
>f the Pope were present. The banquet was very fine 
,nd choice, and lasted about two hours, after which we 
,gain set to dancing, and enjoyed ourselves thus until 
ight of the clock. " 

The Papal court moreover was not too proud to 
ttend at such a season the humbler diversions of the 
ieople, which included processions of triumphal cars, a 
egatta on the muddy Tiber and the time-honoured 
;eremony at the Monte Testaccio that grass-grown 
ound near the Porta San Sebastiano, which was once 
he public dumping-ground of Imperial Rome. This 
iport consisted in the rolling of barrels containing fat 
igs down the steep slopes of the hillock, whilst on the 
at sward at its base, peasants fought like wild beasts 
>r the heavy casks which were hurled with appalling 
elocity into their midst from above. Members of the 
.oman court found pleasure in this squalid spectacle, 
d from their safe post on the crest of the Testaccio 
ere greatly diverted by the quarrelling and knife- 
rusting of the contadini in their efforts to obtain these 
rizes. To "a battle of oranges," which it seems Leo 
timself with his keen Tuscan sense of humour had 
aggested as a suitable novelty for Carnival-tide, the 
/[archesa received a special invitation from the Pope. 
I was requested by His Holiness," she writes, "to go 
the Castle of Sant' Angelo to see a regatta on the 
"iber . . . after which there was a battle of oranges, 
lat would have been a delightful spectacle but for the 

1 A. Luzio, pp. i io- 1 1 2. 



1 9 o THE MEDICI POPES 

rain and storm stopping all the fun. At the end of the 
entertainment I was received most affectionately by 
His Holiness, who provided us with a most sumptuous! 
collation." 1 The battle of oranges, which the inclement 
skies of February so cruelly spoiled for the Marchesa, 
seems to have raged round a fortress, and barricades 
constructed of wood, which was defended by one party 
of the papal lacqueys against the attacks of their fellow- 
servants, both sides pelting each other vigorously with 
the yellow fruit, of which an unlimited supply had been 
provided to serve as missiles. Isabella and her august 
host were also much pleased with the time-honoured 
feste di Piazza Navona, which were on this occasion 
marked by special expenditure. Cars representing Italy, 
the Tiber, the She-wolf of Rome, Alexander the Great 
on horseback, and several of the pagan divinities slowly 
filed past the admiring eyes of the court amidst wild 
cheering from the populace, which was particularly 
attached to this local festival. Two hundred youths, 
selected for their graceful bearing and good looks, took 
part in the affair habited as Roman soldiers, whilst two 
camels and other strange animals from the gardens oi 
the Vatican were also made to figure in this incongruous 
and tasteless procession, at the rear of which followed a 
huge globe surmounted by an angel to symbolise the 
triumph of Christianity. 

These costly pageants in the city were varied by 
occasional hunting-parties in the Campagna, of which 
that arranged by the Pope on his preserves at La 
Magliana was the most remarkable, seeing that 3< 
horsemen took part in this gigantic beat (caccia), ai 
the game killed included fifty stags and twenty wild 
But so important a feature was the chase in Leo's d; 

1 A. Luzio, p. 113. 




ARMORIAL TROPHY OF LEO X 

IN THE VATICAN 



THE COURT OF LEO X 191 

I existence, that an account of the papal hunting and its 
incidents has been reserved for the following chapter. 

On 27th February, Isabella d' Este regretfully left 
Rome to return to her impatient husband at Mantua. 
Her departure, as may well be imagined, was the cause 
of genuine grief to her special friend, Bibbiena, as also 
to Petrucci d' Aragona, Cybo and the younger and less 
reputable members of the Sacred College, who had 
! thoroughly appreciated the prolonged visit of the 
Marchesa and her maids-of-honour. The gaiety, the 
vice, the paganism, the cynical indifference to religion 
and morality, the extravagance in every form of the 
| Leonine Age, all were thus seen at their worst and at 
their brightest by the pleasure-loving but shrewd Isabella 
cl' Este, who is herself the female incarnation of that 
| fascinating but corrupt period. Little could she have 
I foreseen, when she quitted the Eternal City that Febru- 
ary morning to the deep concern of Leo's frivolous 
cardinals, that twelve years later she was destined to 
behold with her own eyes the carnage and desolation 
| which were the inevitable consequence of all those 
meretricious and illicit splendours. For the Marchesa 
j was actually residing in Rome during that terrible 
summer of 1527, when her own residence, the Colonna 
| Palace, was almost the only house in the whole city that 
escaped the frenzied onslaught of bloodthirsty Spaniards 
! and heretical Germans. 1 It was indeed a strange irony 
of fate that allowed the Marchioness of Mantua to 
| participate in the glories of Leo's semi-pagan rule, and 
I later to become an eye-witness of the fearful and total 
collapse of all that glittering but insecure fabric of 
magnificence which the Medici had contrived to erect 
upon the ruins of Imperial Rome. 

1 See chapter xiii. 



CHAPTER VIII 1 

LEO'S HUNTING 

Taxing the folly and madnesse of such vaine men that spend 
themselves in those idle sports, neglecting their business and necessary 
affairs, Leo Decimus, that hunting Pope, is much discommended by 
Jovius in his life, for his immoderate desire of hawking and hunting, 
insomuch that (as he saith) he would sometimes live about Ostia 
weeks and months together, leave suters unrespected, Bulls and 
Pardons unsigned, to his own prejudice, and many private mens loss. 
" And if he had been by chance crossed in his sport, or his game 
not so good, he was so impatient, that he would revile and miscall 
many times men of great worth with most bitter taunts, look so 
sowre, be so angrie and waspish, so grieved and molested, that it is 
incredible to relate it." But if he had good sport, and bin well 
pleased on the other side, incredibili munificentia, with unspeakable 
bounty and munificence he would reward all his fellow-hunters and 
deny nothing to any suter, when he was in that mood (Burton's 
Anatomy of Melancholy, Part I., sect. 2, subsec. 13). 

IT is rarely that we find in the same individual a 
pronounced taste for letters combined with an 
insatiable passion for the chase ; indeed, in our 
own times the breach between the spheres of sport and 
of learning has been yet further enlarged, so that now an 
almost bridgeless chasm seems to yawn between the 
scholar and the sportsman. Nevertheless, Leo contrived 
to become known to posterity not only as the Papal 
Maecenas, but also as the Papal Nimrod. As a cardinal 
Giovanni de' Medici had been much addicted to hunt- 

1 Throughout this chapter considerable use has been made of 
Count Domenico Gnoli's charming and valuable study Le Caccie di 
Leone X., in La Nuova Antologia, vol. cxxvii. 

192 



LEO'S HUNTING 193 

ing in the Roman Campagna, often forming one of the 
large parties arranged by his wealthy colleagues, Ascanio 
Sforza and Alessandro Farnese. Indulgence in the 
chase had never been considered improper in the case 
of a cardinal, but as yet no Pontiff had ever condescended, 
either by reason of choice or sense of official dignity, 
to take more than a passing interest in this form of 
amusement. Leo must be adjudged therefore the first 
Pope regularly to abandon himself to sport, to organise 
hunting-parties on a scale hitherto unsurpassed and to 
preserve whole districts in the Campagna to supply 
himself and his guests with the necessary game. But 
even in this case precedent was strong, and there can be 
little doubt that at first Leo X. hesitated to persist in a 
practice that had not been seriously condemned in the 
Cardinal de' Medici. For in July, 1513, only a few 
weeks after his accession, we find him sending a regret- 
ful refusal to a tempting invitation from that inveterate 
sportsman, Cardinal Farnese : " Oh, that I could but 
enjoy your own freedom, so as to accept your offer ! " 
But if his refusal was really due to ecclesiastical scruples 
(as seems highly probable) these had certainly been over- 
come by the close of the year, since in January, 1514, 
that is within a twelvemonth of his election, we find Leo 
openly engrossed in his favourite occupation. The 
Pope's nominal excuse for this changed attitude was the 
advice of the court physicians, who insisted on a life in 
the open air as beneficial and even essential to his health. 
Yet, assuming that the doctors of their own free will 
were urging this point without merely recommending 
what was agreeable to Leo's obvious wishes, it is im- 
possible to imagine the Pope ignorant of the strict pro- 
hibition of such a form of recreation by the canon law, 
and indeed we find the Papal Nimrod in the course of 
13 



i 9 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

his reign forbidding the Portuguese clergy to indulge in 
those very pursuits to which he himself was so notoriously 
addicted. 

The chief scene of Leo's hunting expeditions was his 
favourite residence, the Villa Magliana, 1 situated on the 
road to Porto, at about five miles' distance from the 
city. Erected by Innocent VIII. and embellished by 
Julius II., the Magliana had for some time served as an 
occasional country retreat for the Popes, who seemed 
quite careless or ignorant of the unhealthy nature of its 
site ; a flat meadow reeking of fever at no great distance 
from the Tiber. To-day the old papal hunting-lodge, 
which is utilised as a farm building, though standing un- 
inhabited, presumably on account of the local malaria, 
consists of a range of low stone buildings in a fair state 
of preservation, enclosing a courtyard with a broken 
fountain, at present used as a watering trough. A 
graceful little balcony of marble looking eastward 
across the grassy plains of the Tiber towards the purple- 
hued range of the Alban Hills, as well as a loggia and a 
broad staircase on its northern side remain intact. 
Everywhere are to be seen escutcheons of the Cybo and 
Delia Rovere Popes, but by a strange coincidence not a 
single Medicean emblem has survived the ravages of 
time. From the damp dilapidated chapel and the dis- 
mantled halls the fading frescoes of Raphael and Lo 
Spagna have long since been abstracted, but it is still 
easy to trace the tinello or dining -hall, the great kitchen 
and other domestic arrangements of this tiny palace, 
"this Vatican in miniature," as contemporaries named 
the Magliana. Mulberry and acacia trees occupy the 
space once covered by the admired pleasaunce of the 

1 La Magliana stands within a stone's throw of the main line 
running north to Genoa. 



LEO'S HUNTING 195 

first Medicean Pontiff with its aviaries and fountains ; 
otherwise a flat thistle-grown expanse follows the curves 
of the river towards distant Ostia. Close to the deserted 
villa the muddy, turbulent stream of the Magliana 
rushes past through thickets of willow and aspen to join 
the yellow Tiber, whilst northward extends for miles and 
miles a scrub-covered undulating country, which even 
to-day affords ample shelter both for winged and ground 
game. The Magliana was of course papal property, 
and as all the neighbouring territory belonged to the 
Orsini family, his own relatives, it was no difficult matter 
for Leo to obtain an immense tract of land suitable for 
purposes of sport ; indeed this papal hunting estate 
stretched from the Tiber on the south into the C^mpagna 
as far north as the Isola Farnese, its .boundary to west- 
ward being the sea-coast and to eastward the ancient 
Via Cassia. At the villa itself the Pope, whose love of 
venary was by no means confined to the chase, had 
erected an enormous gazzara, or netted enclosure, where- 
in hundreds of jays (gazze), doves and herons were kept 
ready for the sport of hawking, of which Leo was pas- 
sionately fond. By thus reserving birds in confinement, 
the trouble and delay of finding the necessary quarry in 
the open were saved, so that the Pontiff could at any 
Imoment, when the desire seized him, follow with his 
|spy-glass from the balcony of the villa or from a shady 
seat in the garden the spectacle of a favourite falcon 
;and its destined prey mounting upward in graceful 
|spirals into the clear blue of the Roman sky. 1 At the 
Ipapal mews hard by were housed numerous hawks from 
pie tiny merlin to the powerful goshawk ; whilst a neigh- 
pouring structure was reserved for the ferrets. The 
Pontiff seems to have been devoted to ferreting, since 
1 Jovius, lib. iv. 



196 THE MEDICI POPES 

he had at great expense caused a large area of sandy 
waste near Palo to be surrounded by a palisade and then 
well-stocked with rabbits. The interior of this conigliare 
(which must have closely resembled the modern rabbit- 
warren constructed on so many English estates) was 
thickly planted with myrtle and juniper scrub, and large 
quantities of meal and fodder were also supplied to the 
captive coneys, as sundry entries in the papal accounts 
of the period testify. As both the rabbits in the coni- 
gliare, the birds in the gazzara and even the valuable 
French hounds suffered much from the attacks of 
scorpions and snakes, high rewards were always paid to 
the peasants for any noxious reptiles killed near La 
Magliana or the warren at Palo. 

The hunting season for ground game usually opened 
in the middle of September, and continued throughout 
the whole of the autumn and winter, during which period 
the Pope was often absent from Rome for so long a 
space as six weeks at a stretch. Popular as Leo un- 
doubtedly was and lax as was the age, yet this craving 
for sport and open indulgence in hunting at first aroused 
a certain degree of opposition at the Roman court. 
Paris de Grassis, whose varied experiences under the 
two last Pontiffs could not have rendered him particularly 
strait-laced, was horrified, at least in the opening year of 
his reign, by Leo's total disregard for papal etiquette and 
by his hunting costume which, though no doubt con- 
venient for the purpose, appeared highly indecent to his 
master of the ceremonies. " He left Rome without his 
stole, and what is worse without his rochet, and what is ; 
worst of all, he wore long riding boots (stivaK), which is 
most improper, seeing that then the people cannot 
the Pope's feet!" But in reply to the anxious 
Grassis' expostulations, the Medici only assumed 



LEO'S HUNTING 197 

blandest smile without taking further trouble to excuse 
or justify his queer apparel. And if the garb of their 

I master appeared uncanonical and unsuited to his lofty 
position, that of his accompanying cardinals showed even 
less regard for what was seemly in princes of the Church, 

! so that we read of the observant Venetian, Matteo 
Dandolo, commenting severely upon Cornaro's unclerical 
appearance in a close-fitting jacket of brown Flemish 
cloth and with a broad ungainly Spanish hat. 

The name of Domenico Boccamazzo, the Pope's 
trusted head-keeper, who was responsible for the pre- 
servation of game in the papal hunting zones at La 
Magliana, Palo, Cervetri, Toscanella and elsewhere, 
frequently occurs in the chronicle of the private expenses 

I of the papal household, and Boccamazzo has a still 
further claim on our remembrance, if not on our grati- 

| tude, as the author of a treatise composed quarter of a 
century after Leo's death, wherein he laments the passing 
of the golden days of the Papal Nimrod and relates 
some of his own experiences as papal huntsman. 1 This 
keeper of the Italian Renaissance, who as an author 
must certainly be reckoned unique in his profession, de- 
scribes with commendable exactness the terms and 
methods of the hunting of his own day, and thereby 
quite unconsciously draws for us a most valuable picture of 
that brilliant society of the Leonine Age amusing itself 
in the free air of the Campagna after a long spell of 
indulgence in the political, learned and artistic atmos- 
phere of the city. " Finding myself in a declining old 
age," writes Boccamazzo in the opening sentences of his 
modest work, "after having spent all my life and all my 
substance in the chace, ... I thought it suitable to in- 

J The title of this curious little work seems to have been // 
Cacciatore Signorik di Domenico Boccamazzo. 



198 THE MEDICI POPES 

scribe in this my book the ways of hunting and of hunt- 
ing parties in my prime ; " and it is from the pages of Leo's 
literary keeper that we are enabled to learn many in- 
teresting details of the Papal Nimrod and his court. 

On the day previous to the hunt an under-keeper, 
skilled in the lore of wild animals and assisted by a well- 
trained dog, would select a convenient spot, teeming with 
game of every description, from hares and porcupines to 
stags and wild boar. Under the eye of the capo-caccia, 
that is of Boccamazzo himself, the chosen area, which 
was probably a small woody valley debouching on the 
plain, would be wholly enclosed by immense strips of 
stout sail-cloth (tele), each piece some twenty feet long 
by six feet high and fastened together with hooks, for 
in the days of Leo the old Italian use of nets (reti) for 
this purpose had been superseded by the new French 
hunting fashions. These tele were firmly secured by 
stout poles driven into the earth and were watched 
during the progress of the day's sport by soldiers of the 
Swiss Guard aided by peasants, whose duty it was to 
prevent the terrified boars from breaking through the 
enclosing material, or the stags from leaping bodily over 
it in their frantic endeavours to escape. Next day at 
the appointed hour for the hunt, the armata, or armed 
sporting party, was carefully marshalled on the plain 
outside the enclosed space, the principal post of vantage 
being reserved for the Principe Cacciatore, or Master of 
the Hunt, that is for the Supreme Pontiff himself. The 
cardinals and nobles of the papal court were next led to 
suitable positions so as to obtain the cream of the sport ; 
riders on horseback were disposed in such a manner 
to prevent the on-rushing game from escaping inl 
neighbouring marshes or thickets; whilst the grooms 
holding the greyhounds and mastiffs in leash were lik< 



LEO'S HUNTING 199 

wise appointed to their proper places. When all was 
ready, the Principe Cacciatore gave the signal to begin 
by waving aloft a white kerchief, whereupon a long blast 
on the horn was sounded, and the under-keepers with 
peasants to act as beaters entered the enclosure with 
fearful yells, shouts, blowing of horns and even explo- 
sions of gunpowder in order to drive the imprisoned game 
out of cover towards the open, where the company was 
awaiting its appearance. Amidst the wildest excitement 
and a deafening chorus of shouting, barking and cheer- 
ing the frightened beasts rushed pell-mell hither and 
thither, being skilfully guided towards the fatal opening 
ready prepared for them. With a roar of delight 
cardinals, nobles, knights and prelates with their at- 
tendants flung themselves upon the half-stupefied prey, 
attacking with energy, but apparently without much 
science, boar, wolf, goat, deer or hare with every kind 
of weapon save the musket, which for obvious reasons 
was forbidden on these occasions. 

Whilst some of the sportsmen tried to spear the 
flying hart or, sword in hand, to face the enraged boar, 
others would follow the greyhounds on horseback across 
the open plain in pursuit of hare or bustard. Meanwhile 
His Holiness, the Master of the Hunt, a conspicuous 
figure on the white horse that had borne him at Ravenna, 
was smilingly surveying from his secure and lofty position 
the general tumult through the inevitabL glass : now 
applauding the Herculean Cardinal Sanseverino (who 
in imitation of his favourite antique god constantly bore 
a lion's skin on his broad shoulders) for his pluck in 
meeting the on-rush of a wounded boar, now warning 
some favourite page to keep clear of the fray, and anon 
laughing consumedly at the absurd antics of Fra Mariano 
struggling with a refractory mule, or at Paolo Giovio, 



200 THE MEDICI POPES 

his own historian, who in the excitement of the chase 
had come to grief in some muddy ditch and was flounder- 
ing in the oozy slime. 

Yet even more important than Boccamazzo in the 
management of the papal hunts was Leo's private 
chamberlain, Giovanni Lazzaro de' Magistris, universally 
known by his nick-name of Serapica, "the Mosquito," 
which he presumably owed to his small shrill voice. A 
hard-bitten wiry little fellow, originally a parish priest at 
Aquila in the kingdom of Naples, Serapica had gained 
the confidence of Leo equally by his tact at court and 
by his indomitable pluck in the field, where he would 
face a charging boar, and even on one occasion was 
badly tossed by a stray bull before his master's eyes. 
Both as a courtier in the palace and as custodian of the 
papal kennels, this Neapolitan sporting priest served his 
magnificent patron faithfully during his life and mourned 
him with sincerity after death. It is not difficult, however, 
to understand why Serapica's undeniable influence with 
the Pontiff became the cause of much jealousy amongst 
the more prominent members of the Roman court, whose 
outraged feelings were expressed in the foul-mouthed 
Aretino's sarcastic epigram upon Serapica's strange ad- 
vancement from the papal kennels to the papal presence. 1 
Whilst Boccamazzo was held answerable for the constant 
supply of game, Serapica was responsible for all the 
arrangements of the hunt, a matter of no small concern 
when Leo penetrated into the more remote districts of 
the Campagna, where only a few fever-stricken hamlets 
existed to afford shelter for the Pontiff and his luxurious 
suite, which often contained a hundred or more guests, 
to say nothing of the ruck of humbler followers, such as 
beaters, grooms, and dog-keepers. In fact, the expected 
1 Serapica stregghio i cani ; e poi fu papa. 




ALESSANDRO FARNESE (PAUL III) 



LEO'S HUNTING 201 

arrival of the Papal Nimrod brought no little anxiety to 
the local governors of the small towns of the Roman 
State, so that we can easily imagine the mixed feelings 
wherewith the Castellan of Civitta Vecchia must have 
received the ensuing communication from His Holiness 
on the 1 8th October, 1518: 

" MY BELOVED CASTELLAN, 

" I shall be at Civita Vecchia on the 24th day 
of this month with a large suite. You must arrange for 
a good dinner with plenty of fish for me, as I am most 
anxious to make a display of state before the men of 
letters and others who will be my companions. I shall 
reimburse all your expenses on our behalf. I command 
you to let nothing be wanting at this banquet, since I 
wish to entertain thereat persons of the highest consider- 
ation, who are very dear to my heart. We shall be 140 
in number, and that will serve to guide you, so that there 
may be no mistakes nor deficiencies through ignorance. 
I bestow my blessing upon you. 

" Your most loving 

" SOVEREIGN" 1 

But this number, large as it appears, was moderate 

in comparison with the immense crowds which attended 

the hunts of Cardinal Farnese, when he entertained the 

i Pontiff on his estates at Viterbo or Cannino. These 

i visits to the feudal domains of the Farnesi, made usually 

| in the summer months, gave occasion to immense holo- 

j causts of feathered game, chiefly pheasants, partridges and 

! quails, which were captured by most elaborate and in- 

jgenious devices, whilst smaller birds, such as thrushes, 

ortolans and larks, even robins and goldfinches, were 

snared in thousands by means of the uccellare, the 

1 Quoted by Count Gnoli (Le Caccie di Leone X.). 



202 THE MEDICI POPES 

historic bird-snare of Italy. The warm weather likewise 
drew Leo to the beautiful wooded shores of the Lake of 
Bolsena, which had long been familiar to him, since as 
legate of the patrimony of St. Peter he had occasionally 
resided at the town of Bolsena, where a stately palace and 
a fountain enriched with Florentine coloured terra-cotta 
still proclaim to-day the taste and bounty of the 
Medici. The Pontiff bore such an affection for this smil- 
ing district, partly from old associations but chiefly on ac- 
count of the splendid fishing afforded by these prolific 
waters, that a summer rarely passed unmarked by his 
presence on these shores. " Every year," sings the house- 
poet of the Farnesi, "doth Leo condescend to visit our 
domain and to bathe his holy countenance in our waves." 
Taking up his residence in a villa belonging to his host on 
the islet of Bisentina, Leo was frequently rowed over the 
shining expanse of Bolsena in a specially constructed 
barge manned by sixteen oarsmen ; sometimes to in- 
dulge in a long day's fishing or sometimes to visit his 
own preserve of pheasants on the island of Martana. 
Owing to the sparse population on the shores of Bolsena, 
boatmen and fishermen had to be brought from Lake 
Trasimeno to minister to the pontifical pleasure and to 
assist in the immense hauls of fish, and particularly of 
the famous eels of Bolsena, which, according to Dante, 
had caused the death of Leo's predecessor Pope Martin 
IV., whose gluttony for eels and white wine was punished 
by a course of starvation in Purgatory : 

" E purga per digiuno 
L' anguille di Bolsena e la vernaccia." 1 

Nevertheless, in addition to his fishing preserves at sylv; 
Bolsena, Leo had constructed near Ostia a huge be 

1 Purgatorio, canto xxiv. 



LEO'S HUNTING 203 

or artificial pond of salt water, teeming with all kinds of 
Mediterranean fishes, wherein the Pope and his guests 
frequently diverted themselves. 1 

These expeditions at Bolsena and Ostia, however, 
were reckoned as simple amusements, which could not 
be compared with the sterner pleasures of the chase, 
which afforded Leo far keener enjoyment. But although 
the author of these hunting-parties and their most devoted 
observer, we must ever bear in mind that Leo was seldom 
anything but a spectator or an umpire of the exciting 
scenes and personal encounters around him. His chronic 
malady forbade him to indulge in vigorous exercise either 
on horseback or afoot, assuming moral or official scruples 
were insufficient of themselves to restrain him ; in boggy 
or dangerous places even His Holiness had to be carried 
in a litter in order to reach the proposed scene of opera- 
tions. More than one contemporary poet has fortunately 
left us accounts of these papal hunts, and though their 
Latin verses are full of pedantic allusions and of fulsome 
praise of the Pontiff, his cardinals, his courtiers, his dogs, 
his very buffoons, we have been presented with striking 
glimpses of a day's hunting in the golden age of the first 
Medicean Pope. Through the Palietum? for example, 
of Baldassare Molosso, commonly called Tranquillo and 
known to history as the tutor of that human fiend, Pier- 
Luigi Farnese, first Duke of Parma (then a stripling 
described by Leo himself as ''possessing high courage, 
praiseworthy manners and a good disposition "), we are 

1 Jovius, lib. iv. Paolo Giovio was himself the author of one of the 
earliest Italian treatises on the natural history of fish ; his De Piscibus 
Romanis being published shortly after Leo's death. It is probable 
that the historian obtained his information on this subject during 
these fishing expeditions at Bolsena and Ostia. 

2 Tranquilli Molossi Palietum, Bossi-Roscoe, vol. xii., pp. 129- 
134- 



204 THE MEDICI POPES 

able to obtain a valuable picture of an event of this 
nature which took place on i7th January, 1514, when 
Leo was the guest of the poet's patron, Cardinal Ales- 
sandro Farnese, afterwards Pope Paul III. In graceful 
flowing hexameters Tranquillo salutes the Pontiff as 
"the Jupiter of Earth," and then alludes to the young 
Cardinal Petrucci of Siena as "that most beautiful of 
youths, to whom Cupid has yielded his bow, his arrows, 
and his very quiver, whereby to make havoc in the 
hearts of the nymphs and tender maidens ". Innocenzo 
Cybb, the Pope's own nephew, the poet flatters by 
professing to foresee in him a future Pontiff, a curious 
and rather dangerous compliment, seeing that Leo him- 
self had barely reached his thirty-ninth year. All names, 
however, are presented to us in classical guise, with the 
result that not a few of them can no longer be identified ; 
yet it is easy to recognise the intrepid little Serapica in 
the line 

Fortis equo sumptisque minax Serapitius armis. 

In the midst of this brilliant array of nobles and prelates, 
all bent on amusement, appears Leo with the genial 
smile, prominent like Jove himself surrounded by the 
minor deities of Olympus. Beside him rides Farnese, 
unarmed and only intent on his august master's wishes ; 
but the other cardinals all bear lances, swords or darts, 
which they employ with varying degrees of skill upon 
the big game that is driven for them out of the enclosed 
thickets. The gigantic Sanseverino, who once bore 
Alexander VI. in his arms like a baby and who can still 
despite his years vie in bodily strength with the younger 
cardinals, deftly transfixes with his short sword a charging 
boar of prodigious size : a daring feat which wins for him 
the warm approbation of His Holiness, who at the same 



LEO'S HUNTING 205 

time implores his host not to allow his precious heir, the 
little Pier-Luigi, to mingle in the sport for fear of some 
injury. Meanwhile Fra Mariano purposely, perhaps, 
who can tell? manages to fall off his mule within sight 
of the Pontiffs glass and thus arouses his patron's mirth 
by his comical struggles and shrill appeals for assistance. 
And thus for hours the merry-making proceeds apace to 
the united sounds of beaters calling, dogs giving tongue 
and wild beasts screaming with fear or agony. The 
sun declines towards the western horizon ; all are grown 
weary of the sport ; the enclosed space is well-nigh de- 
nuded of its game ; so that the papal command to cease 
is received with general satisfaction. In the picked 
phrases of the poet thus does the great Leo now address 
his brother prelates and sportsmen. " The Gods have 
granted our prayer, for this day's hunting has been most 
prosperous, although at the first uprising of the sun the 
morn was dim with clouds and showers. But later 
Phcebus Apollo changed his aspect and shone out 
radiantly with face serene as on a day in springtime. 
Thus do the Gods show favour to such as never despair. 1 
Enough of dart and hound ! Our slaughter for to-day 
is sufficient. Lay aside your weapons, and tie again 
the swift hounds to the leash. Whatever game remains 
in cover will afford us sport another season." 

With the setting sun the long train slowly proceeds 
homewards to Farnese's castle at Cannino, where at the 
gates of the little town groups of peasants applaud the 
returning Pontiff, who smiles genially in response and 
flings handfuls of coins from the purse of crimson velvet 
at his girdle, which it is Serapica's duty constantly to 
replenish. For Leo is very popular with the people of 
the Campagna, whom he loves to converse with and also 

1 Compare with this, chapter iii., p. 55. 



206 THE MEDICI POPES 

pays handsomely in return for any forced labour he 
may exact. Moreover, he constantly bestows largesse 
upon whole families, and gives dowries to enable pretty 
sunburnt girls to marry their sweethearts ; his very 
coming enriches the fields and brings a golden harvest, 
so aver the grateful contadini not without reason. 1 
Leaving the cheering crowd and the improvised festal 
arches of the town, Farnese's guests enter the castle 
hall, where an elaborate supper is being prepared. 
The interval of waiting is passed in animated con- 
versation concerning the incidents of the past day's 
sport, or else in admiring the fine tapestries and pictures 
of the chamber. At the conclusion of the meal, Grapaldo 
of Parma sings to his lute Latin hexameters, of which 
the theme is Diana surprised in her naked loveliness by 
the rash hunter Actaeon, whom the indignant goddess 
forthwith changes into a stag that is straightway torn to 
pieces by his own hounds. By midnight all have grown 
weary from their past fatigues or sleepy from the effects 
of the Cardinal's choice wines, and on Leo giving the 
signal to retire all gladly seek their couches. , For ten 
days this life is pursued at Cannino without a break, 
and then with hundreds of happy and enriched peasants 
wishing him God-speed, the Jupiter of Earth returns 
once more to Rome, where the citizens hasten to the 
gates to meet the papal cavalcade and to admire the 
trophies of the late hunt proudly displayed ; particularly 
the huge tusker slain by the hand of the Cardinal 
Sanseverino. Before the portals of the Vatican His 
Holiness turns to address his erstwhile companions of 
the chase : " Fellow-hunters, it is not meet that I alone 
should obtain the whole of the booty, which has been 
secured by your own exertions. Take it therefore away 

1 Jovius, lib. iv. 



LEO'S HUNTING 207 

with you, and suspend the horns of the stags as votive 
offerings above the temple doors. All the spoil belongs 
to you ; the sight of it affords sufficient pleasure to Leo." 
And with these words each sportsman selects his share 
out of the mass, and triumphantly bears it through the 
streets of Rome to his own palace. 

But a yet more lively and realistic account of one of 
these expeditions, which took place at Palo in the 
autumn of 1520, a year before the Pope's death, has 
been handed down to us from the pen of Guido Silvester, 
commonly called Postumo, a poet in the train of Cardinal 
Rangone of Modena, highly praised for his talents by 
the generous Ariosto, who speaks of this Postumo as 
doubly crowned by Minerva and Phcebus Apollo. 1 The 
writer first indites of the gay procession issuing from the 
town for the day's sport. There is the Earthly Jove, 
"the Thunderer of the Vatican," with his portly form 
enveloped in a robe of rich white brocade albo insignis 
amictu and surrounded by the Cardinals Giulio de' 
Medici, Cybo, Ridolfi and Salviati, all his near relations, 
and also by Bibbiena and Rangone, his tried and devoted 
friends. There is Bernardo Accolti, " the Only Aretine," 
swaggering and brandishing a spear, which to do full 
justice to that mediocre genius he was wont to employ 
more skilfully than his quill. That perfect courtier with 
grave face, dark hair and cold blue eyes, Baldassare 
Castiglione ; the poets Molza, Vida and Tebaldeo, with 
a host of learned members of the Roman Parnassus are 
present ; but the renowned Bembo and his colleague 
Sadoleto, being absent on their master's political mis- 
sions, are sadly missed by the remainder of the company. 
Again the poet describes for us the driving of the game 
from the enclosed area ; the tense expectation of the 

1 Ad Petrum Pactium, Bossi-Roscoe, vol. viii., Appendix CLXIX. 



208 THE MEDICI POPES 

Pope and his guests at the entrance of the plain ; and 
the ensuing scenes of confusion and slaughter. But 
Postumo mentions also certain incidents of the day's 
sport ; how he himself is knocked down and nearly 
killed by a savage boar to the momentary alarm of the 
Pontiff, who has perceived the poet's danger ; and how 
one of the knights, Licaba by name, actually spears a 
valuable shaggy hound in mistake for a wolf, which 
causes much mirth to His Holiness, when shown the 
carcase of the stupid blunderer's " wolf ". Postumo too is 
greatly diverted at witnessing a fierce duel between a 
certain Falloppio of Modena (an exile from his native 
city on account of a murder committed there) and a 
soldier called Lica, who quarrel and finally come to 
blows over the disputed possession of a slain wild boar. 
In the ensuing fight Lica loses an eye and is rescued 
with no little difficulty from the clutches of the brutal 
Falloppio, to be led away to his patron's tent blinded, 
limping and howling with the pain. But even more 
amusing in Postumo's opinion than poor Lica's fate 
appears the merry accident (focus) which terminated the 
career of Lancetto, Cardinal Cornaro's favourite kennel- 
man, celebrated equally for his skill in training dogs and 
for his drunken habits (quo non vinosior). Lancetto, 
evidently in his cups at the time, contrives to transfix 
with the spear one of his best hounds, Argo by name, 
whilst close upon the heels of a wounded boar. Hor- 
rified at his own clumsiness and maddened by the fumes 
of the wine he has lately swallowed, Lancetto with a 
mighty effort must needs leap right upon the back of the 
flying boar, and try to strangle it by squeezing its gullet 
with both his sinewy hands. But the tortured qu; 
soon succeeds in flinging its human rider to earth, where- 
upon it gores the prostrate body from head to foot, 



LEO'S HUNTING 209 

life is extinct. Lancetto's companions at length slay the 
infuriated animal and carry the mangled corpse of 
Cornaro's kennel-man to his master's pavilion, where 
the Venetian cardinal orders his dead servant's visage 
to be washed with the best of old wine, whilst he pauses 
for a moment to compose a suitable epitaph to place on 
Lancetto's tomb : " Here lies Lancetto, whose death- 
wound was the work of a wild boar, or rather of the 
wine-cup V Such a jovial adventure as this quite throws 
into the shade the drolleries of Fra Mariano (Charmides), 
who is engaged in quizzing that handsome but petulant 
youth, Valerio Orsini, for being unable to restrain his 
tears at losing the stag he has been pursuing. But the 
bag is enormous, and as the party returns to Palo, His 
Holiness can be overheard muttering to himself from 
time to time, " What a glorious day ! " 

Now is the right moment for a prelate desiring 
another commendam, or the courtier with a hankering 
after some coveted lordship, to approach and present the 
ready-drawn parchment, which requires the pontifical 
signature alone to make its terms binding. Leo is in 
high good humour, and therefore signs anything and 
everything that is placed before him, nor is he sparing 
of genial smiles to his cunning suppliants. How different 
is the behaviour of His Holiness on an evening when 
the day's sport has been poor ! Scowls and bitter 
sarcasm followed by a sharp refusal are pretty sure to 
fall upon any indiscreet applicant on such an occasion, 
no matter how simple or necessary the request. "It is 
quite incredible," observes the learned Paolo Giovio, 
who elsewhere comments on his master's invariable 
courtesy, "that after an ill day's hunting he should 

1 ... Hie Lancettus ab apro 
Sed magis a vino saucius ora jacet. 



2io THE MEDICI POPES 

exhibit so much disappointment and annoyance both in 
his face and in his temper." But sport and weather 
have alike proved propitious this fine November day, so 
that Leo will grant all demands with his accustomed 
grace and generosity. 

Nevertheless, the day's adventures are not quite 
exhausted, although the shades of evening are beginning 
to fall, for suddenly a buzzard is spied aloft hovering 
against the gold and crimson of the western sky. 
Promptly the falconer of Cardinal Orsini releases his 
master's best peregrine, which darts upward in pursuit 
of the bigger hawk and sets to attack its less active 
opponent with beak, wings and talons. But whilst the 
whole party is gazing rapturously at this aerial combat, 
suddenly there sails into ken an immense eagle, which 
in its turn assails the Cardinal's falcon. In vain does 
the anxious strozziere sound the accustomed call of 
return ; the plucky falcon engages in battle with the 
king of birds, and is incontinently slain. Headlong 
falls the lifeless mass of blood-stained feathers with a 
thud to the ground at the feet of its weeping trainer, 
whilst Orsini himself proceeds to moralise on the high 
spirit of his unfortunate pet. The gallant falcon shall 
be buried, he declares, with full honours of war upon 
the battlement of some lofty tower. Her chains and 
jesses shall lie beside her in the tomb, and an achieve- 
ment bearing the proud arms of Orsini shall mark the 
spot, above which skulls of doves and herons shall yearly 
be suspended for a votive remembrance of the bird's 
past victories. 

As in Molosso's poem, the banquet, the jest, th< 
music and the recitation, which crown the labours of the 
day, are duly recorded ; but in this case it is Messer 
Tiresia, a canon of Bologna and a papal secretary, who 



LEO'S HUNTING 211 

delights the august company with choice verses composed 
by the absent Bembo, whose genial presence and witty 
conversation are so sorely missed. 

However interesting they may be deemed from an 
historical or social point of view, these contemporary 
accounts of Leo's hunting-parties must inspire disgust 
in modern minds and serve to prejudice us against a 
Pope, who not only delighted in these crude exhibitions 
of wholesale slaughter, but also squandered vast sums 
of the public revenue upon their arrangements. We 
are shocked, and rightly so, by the callous descriptions 
of Postumo and Molosso, and still more so by the 
account of a certain driving of big game at Santa 
Marinella on the coast, whereat numbers of stags, goats 
and boar were hurried down a steep bosky ravine head- 
long into the sea. Close to the shore the papal court, 
stationed in boats, was awaiting the appearance of the 
game, which was slaughtered amidst the wildest scenes 
of noise and confusion, whilst His Holiness, seated 
comfortably in a luxurious barge amidst the blood- 
stained surf, eagerly followed every detail of a revolting 
spectacle, worthy the eyes of a Nero or a Commodus. 
Nevertheless, we must digress for a moment to remark 
that the cruelty and barbarism we so condemn were 
necessarily inseparable from the hunts of the Renais- 
sance ; nor must we forget that the dexterous use of 
modern fire-arms has deprived sport on a large scale 
of some of its objectionable features, seeing that the 
breech-loading, self-ejecting guns of to-day kill with 
merciful precision, whereas four centuries ago the victims 
of large hunting-parties, such as Leo attended, were torn 
or hacked for hours with clumsy sword or spear. As 
a son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the Pope had in- 



212 THE MEDICI POPES 

herited a natural taste for sport in the brutal forms then 
of necessity prevalent; and as a Cardinal there were 
none to forbid, and very few to censure the Medici's 
open indulgence in this form of amusement, however 
unseemly in a Churchman. And again, most of the 
younger cardinals of princely rank, his own friends and 
companions, were inordinately devoted to sport in every 
form, so that Medici was only too ready from natural 
inclination to follow their bad example. But as Supreme 
Pontiff he might and should have set his face firmly 
against such waste of time and treasure, to say nothing 
of loss of reputation, by refraining from pastimes which 
were expressly forbidden by the canon law and were 
highly indecorous in one holding the most exalted office 
in Christendom. But instead of setting a good example, 
Leo, after one feeble effort at self-control, yielded 
completely to a temptation which his wealth and position 
now offered. Nor was there a shadow of excuse for 
his doing so, since on account of his physical infirmity 
he was unable to engage actively in the sport which he 
patronised, or to share in its real dangers or fatigues, 
which form the usual excuses urged for an excessive 
devotion to the chase. On the contrary, seated in 
comfortable security he used invariably to obtain his 
satisfaction from watching thus the scenes of torture and 
massacre enacted below, whilst his active participation 
was confined to giving the required coup de grace to 
some stag or boar that had become entangled in the 
enclosing bonds. 1 On such occasions, Leo would de- 
scend from his palfrey and be led in state to the spot 
where the wounded beast was struggling hopeless!] 
in the toils. With spear poised in his right hand, an< 
with the left hand employed in holding the spy-glass t< 

1 A. Luzio, p. 64, note 3. 



LEO'S HUNTING 213 

guide the coming thrust, His Holiness amid applause of 
sycophants and servants would advance to deliver the 
final death-blow to the exhausted animal. It is therefore 
obvious that it was the actual bloodshed and brutality 
of the chase rather than its attendant risks and hardships, 
which urged Leo to these hunts ; it was the constant 
spectacle of indiscriminate slaughter and not any genuine 
desire for the pure air and free life of the open country 
(as his eulogistic biographer Giovio asserts), which in- 
duced the Pontiff to waste so much time due to public 
business and his holy office. And yet Count Bossi, the 
able Italian commentator of Roscoe's biography of Leo 
X., expressly defends the Pope's conduct for this very 
reason ; declaring him blameless, since he only honoured 
the sport by his august presence, "with all the dignity 
appertaining to his exalted office "- 1 Such is a modern 
Italian view of the ethics of papal hunting. 

But if it was unseemly, as we have already shown, 
for the Supreme Pontiff to be hunting at all, how much 
the more severely is Leo to be judged for allowing this 
forbidden pastime to become a positive craving, an 
obsession, pervading his very existence, diminishing the 
papal revenues, of which he was but the temporary 
guardian, and setting a terrible example of selfish frivolity 
to the whole Christian world, of which he was the ac- 
knowledged Head, and thereby helping not a little to 
foment that growing spirit of disaffection and schism which 
was so soon to rend in twain Western Christendom? 
As Leo's brilliant, merry, cultured life draws towards its 
close, it becomes instructive and also sad to observe 
this desire for sport assuming proportions that would 
have been reprehensible in a secular prince, and there- 
fore tenfold more culpable in the case of a Supreme 

1 Bossi-Roscoe, vol. xii., p. 130. 



2i 4 THE MEDICI POPES 

Pontiff. Like the bad King Rufus of England who 
loved the brave red deer like his own children (and 
certainly far better than his own subjects), did Leo grow 
more and more enamoured of venary in its mostbrutalising 
forms. There appears something ominous in the simple 
circumstance that during the very last days of Leo's 
reign, at a moment when all Europe was seething 
with ecclesiastical revolt and secular aggression, the 
Supreme Pontiff can yet find leisure and means to 
squander large sums on hawks for the papal mews. On 
2Oth November, 1521, the faithful Serapica makes his last 
entry in the private spese of his magnificent patron : 
"To John Brand of Malines, 30 ducats apiece for 
six jer- falcons ; 10 ducats each for two goshawks ; 
15 ducats for a tiercel jer-falcon, and 10 for a young 
goshawk ; that is in all 225 ducats". 1 Eleven days later, 
and the Papal Nimrod is lying dead in a chamber of 
the Apostolic Palace. 

1 Gnoli, Le Caccie <T Leone X. 



CHAPTER IX 

LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 

During my residence in Rome, I often saw the great Raphael 
on public occasions walk from his house, near the rising edifice of 
St. Peter's, to the court of Leo X., followed by forty or fifty artists, so 
generally was his superiority acknowledged. I also frequently met 
him at the Vatican. His celebrity made every stranger seek his ac- 
quaintance. His elegant figure and interesting physiognomy at- 
tracted attention, while the fulness of his conversation and the amenity 
of his manners fascinated the spectators of the divine creations of his 
pencil. I observed with pleasure his manner of communicating in- 
formation to his pupils. It was neither the condescension of the 
pride of knowledge, nor the forced and brief precepts of the hired 
lecturer, but the ample and generous communication of a mind as 
liberal as it was enlightened. He not only quitted his own perform- 
ances to instruct theirs, but he freely gave his pupils designs of his own 
composition, and hence it was that in my travels through Europe I 
found so many of his sketches in the cabinets of the curious. The 
kindness of Raphael's disposition diffused itself among his scholars. 
They copied his manners as well as his mind, and this honourable 
emulation therefore never degenerated into illiberality or envy (The 
Travels of Theodore Ducas). 

E~ X. was undoubtedly "the incarnation of the 
Renaissance, not in its purest but in its most 
brilliant form," and the world in consequence 
still owes a deep debt of gratitude to the liberality and 
fine taste of the first Medicean Pontiff, whose name will 
ever remain associated with that of the divine Raphael 
of Urbino. Yet the same carping criticism that has 
been passed upon his choice in literature has been even 
applied to the Pope's patronage in the domain of art. 
The ostensible reason for this dissatisfaction is to be 

215 



216 THE MEDICI i POPES 

found in the continued absence from the Roman court 
during his reign of two out of the three leading Italian 
artists of the day, namely, Lionardo da Vinci and 
Michelangelo Buonarotti. Neglect of the latter, the 
Pope's own fellow-citizen, has been constantly urged by 
modern writers as an instance of Leo's conspicuous lack 
of real artistic insight or knowledge. Nevertheless, it 
is not hard to comprehend the Medici's failure to ap- 
preciate the stupendous genius of Michelangelo, whose 
gigantic conceptions in stone or marble possessed small 
attraction for this papal patron, who seems to have been 
less partial to sculpture than to the sister arts of painting, 
engraving and architecture. Like most short-sighted 
persons, Leo found a surer delight in the minute and 
delicate productions of jewellers and goldsmiths such as 
Tagliacarne and Caradosso, which he loved to examine 
closely with spy-glass or spectacles, than in the vast 
naked groups of statuary which the Florentine master 
was then devising for the monument of the late Pope 
Julius. Nor was Leo's antipathy due merely to artistic 
reasons, for the two qualities which he specially demanded 
in the recipients of his bounty, alacrity and an unques- 
tioning obedience, were utterly absent in the egotistic 
temperament of the fierce Michelangelo. The genial 
but erratic Pope had therefore small sympathy with the 
conscientious but morose Florentine, ever nursing some 
grievance, real or imaginary, against his employer for 
the time being, and resenting the scant deference that 
was usually displayed towards the leading artists of the 
period, who were then held on a lower level than the 
scholars and poets of the court and were treated as 
skilled decorators rather than as distinguished men of 
genius. With the fiery Julius II., himself of plebeian 
origin, Michelangelo had been more content, for in that 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 217 

case both patron and sculptor were moved by the same 
combative and impatient spirit ; both shared some 
measure of that terribilith, which was so common a 
characteristic of their turbulent epoch. How different 
in the eyes of the fastidious and cultured Medici was 
the behaviour of the discreet young painter from Urbino ! 
If the great Florentine was always alert to find some 
cause of discontent, the new master from Urbino ever 
showed himself anxious to please and ready to under- 
take any task from the most profound to the most 
trivial, from decorating the halls of the Apostolic palace 
to designing the drop-scene for a licentious farce, from 
painting the Supreme Pontiff himself to drawing the 
likeness of poor Baraballo's elephant ; anything, in 
short, that the capricious mind of the mighty Leo might 
care to suggest on the spur of the moment. No wonder 
then that the Medici openly preferred the divine Raphael 
to the unique Florentine, seeing that Leo's own easy- 
going nature was not a little reflected in that of the hand- 
some and charming young painter from Urbino. Silent 
and self-centred, the great sculptor was wont to regard 
with bitterness of envy the rapid progress of his fascinat- 
ing rival, now basking in the full sunshine of the papal 
favour, whose steps were everywhere dogged by a 
crowd of admiring pupils hanging intent on every 
sentence that fell from the lips of Raphael. " You go 
about your business," said the jealous Michelangelo with 
a sneer, "like a general with his staff!" " And you," 
was the prompt retort of the artist thus needlessly pro- 
voked, "all solitary like the hangman! " 

Leo, however, did give employment to his great 
fellow-citizen, who at the Pope's suggestion reluctantly 
abandoned his cherished design of completing the 
colossal monument for the late Julius, in order to under- 



218 THE MEDICI POPES 

take the building of a fagade for the basilica of San 
Lorenzo in Florence, and on this task Michelangelo was 
nominally at least engaged from the year 1515 until the 
close of the Medici's reign. Certain biographers of 
Michelangelo have hinted that Leo was not in earnest 
when he gave this commission, 1 yet it is hard to admit 
the possibility of such a theory, seeing the peculiar con- 
nection of this famous church with the Medici and the 
boundless pride of the Medici themselves in their House. 
But it would be futile to dwell here on the miserable 
story concerning the precious years of the sculptor's life 
that were irretrievably wasted amongst the marble 
quarries of Carrara, whilst obtaining material for this 
fagade ordered by the Pope. It is sufficient to state the 
dismal fact that throughout the nine years' pontificate 
of the Papal Maecenas the marble statue of the Risen 
Christ in the Roman church of Santa Maria sopra 
Minerva was almost the sole work of note produced 
by the chisel of Michelangelo. By a strange coincidence 
this figure, which is commonly accounted one of the 
master's least happy efforts, stands close to the tomb of 
the Medicean Pope, who, whatever excuse may be ad- 
vanced on his behalf, certainly failed to avail himself 
of the most profound genius in all Italy. And even 
making full allowance for the incompatibility of temper 
in artist and patron, this treatment appears all the more 
remarkable, since the Pope had known Michelangelo 
from boyhood (the two men being almost of an age) ; 
indeed, their acquaintance dated from the early days 
when the sculptor, then a promising lad, was studying his 
art in the gardens of the Magnificent Lorenzo, before 
ever Leo had been raised to the dignity of the purple. 

1 For the cause of this theory, see J. A. Symonds, Life of 
Michelangelo, vol. i., p. 350. 



i 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 219 

In spite of all this regrettable waste of time and this 
misunderstanding, let us hope however that the Venetian 
painter, Sebastiano del Piombo, was sincere when he 
wrote to the offended master, on 27th October, 1520, a 
little more than a twelvemonth before the Pope's death ; 
" I know in what esteem the Pope holds you, and when 
he talks of you, it would seem that he were speaking 
about a brother, almost with tears in his eyes ; for he 
has told me that you were brought up together as boys, 
and shows that he knows and loves you. But you 
frighten everybody, even Popes ! " Yet in any case it 
was a heavy loss to posterity that Leo omitted to turn to 
account the talents of Michelangelo as he did those of 
Raphael, for the melancholy fact remains prominent that 
the reign of the splendid Leo constitutes a barren spot 
in the fertile garden of Michelangelo's career. 

It is a pleasant relief to turn from this sorry tale of 
neglect and misunderstanding to the account of Leo's 
patronage of Raphael. Here at all events the artistic 
temperament of the second son of Lorenzo the Magnifi- 
cent found full scope in turning the powers of the wonder- 
ful painter of Urbino to the glorification of himself and 
his House in the exquisite productions, which all admire 
to-day in those halls of the Apostolic palace, that are 
themselves called the Stanze di Raffaelo, in honour of 
him whose genius is therein shown at its best and 
brightest. Only seven years younger than the Pontiff 
he was permitted to serve so faithfully, Raffaelo Santi, 
or Sanzio, was born in the old hill-set city of Urbino 
on the sixth day of April, 1483. The little capital 
was then in the heyday of its independence, whilst the 
court of its dukes of the ancient and honoured House of 
Montefeltre was the centre of an artistic and intellectual 

1 J. A. Symonds, Life of Michelangelo, vol. i., p. 347. 



220 THE MEDICI POPES 

life, whereof Raphael's bosom friend, Baldassare Cas- 
tiglione, has left us such charming recollections in the 
pages of his Cortigiano. Sprung of a respectable but 
by no means noble stock, the youthful Raffaelo Santi, 
better known in latter days as the divine Raphael of 
Urbino, undoubtedly learned the elegant arts of the 
polite world of his time in the atmosphere of the ducal 
court of the Montefeltre, who in the painter's childhood 
frequently entertained in their beautiful palace the exiled 
members of the House of Medici, so that Raphael must 
have been slightly acquainted with the Cardinal and his 
brother Giuliano at a very early age. The Medici were 
undoubtedly glad to welcome the promising young 
painter, when in the year 1508 he made his appearance 
in Rome as a rising artist, whose increasing fame was 
likely soon to eclipse the renown of his late master, 
Pietro Perugino. In the Eternal City the ever-growing 
reputation of this youthful genius from Urbino scarcely 
seemed to need the assistance of his influential supporter, 
the great architect Bramante, for Raphael quickly ob- 
tained numerous commissions in high quarters, amongst 
his many patrons being the Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, 
who speedily formed the loftiest opinion of his capa- 
bilities. In all probability it was Raphael who now de- 
signed for the Cardinal's titular church of Santa Maria 
in Domenica on the deserted Coelian Hill its charming 
little portico with the five arches, above which appears 
the inscription that tells the stranger of the Medici's 
bounty in restoring this ancient fabric. 1 And it was 
probably also by Raphael's advice that the marble copy 
of an antique ship was erected in front of its facade, a 
circumstance which has gained for this church the local 

1 Divae Virgini Templum in Domenica dirutum Jo. Medices Diac. 
Card, instauravit. 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 221 

name of " La Navicella ". This tasteful restoration of 
an ancient Roman basilica was of course but a trifling 
event in the midst of innumerable commissions of far 
greater importance ; for in addition to other duties 
Raphael had already been entrusted by Julius II., on the 
warm recommendation of Bramante, with the re-de- 
coration of the official apartments of the Vatican, although 
these rooms were largely covered with the frescoes of 
Peruzzi, of Sodoma and of Perugino, the new master's 
own teacher, whose influence can so easily be traced in 
the earlier productions of his brilliant pupil. With that 
naive modesty which was characteristic of his sweet 
nature, Raphael pleaded earnestly for the retention of 
these beautiful but now despised frescoes, and it is solely 
due to the unselfish entreaties of the Prince of Painters 
that any portion of these already existing works was 
spared in the Halls of the Incendio, the Eliodoro and 
the Segnatura. 

Without digressing further concerning his achieve- 
ments under Julius II., it will be sufficient for us to state 
that at the Pope's death in the early spring of 1513, 
Raphael, who had not then passed his thirtieth birthday, 
had already completed the decoration of the whole of 
the Sala della Segnatura 1 with those splendid semi- 
classical, semi-theological compositions, which are perhaps 
the most truly spiritual in feeling of all his frescoes in 
the Vatican, and are generally held in the highest esteem 
by modern critics. In the adjoining Sala di Eliodoro 
he had likewise finished his glorious Expulsion of Helio- 
dorus from the Temple of Jerusalem, together with the 
still more lovely Miracle of Bolsena, two faultless 
masterpieces which represent the highest level reached 

1 So called from the signing (Segnatura] of the various papal 
briefs and documents in this chamber. 



222 THE MEDICI POPES 

in fresco and which incidentally confer an unmerited 
immortality upon the bloodthirsty old Pontiff, who was 
paying the master the not over-generous sum of 1200 
ducats for each room thus adorned with the most beautiful 
conceptions that could possibly emanate from any human 
brain. For the tall venerable figure of the warrior 
Pope is made to appear prominent in both these magni- 
ficent compositions ; borne aloft in full panoply of 
pontifical state, Julius surveys with kindling eye the 
discomfiture of the sacrilegious invader of the Jewish 
sanctuary, much as he would have regarded the butchery 
of every barbarian Frank or Spaniard still remaining on 
the sacred soil of his own Italy. The painter was still 
engaged upon this chamber when the Pope's decease 
forced him to suspend the work, until such time as the 
result of the sitting conclave of March, 1513, was made 
known a most critical and anxious period in the career 
of Raphael, who was so deeply engrossed in the task 
which was intended to rival, if not to surpass, the mighty 
achievements of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel 
hard by. 

The subsequent election of Giovanni de' Medici to 
the vacant throne at once put an end to the artist's 
suspense, for in Leo X. he felt certain of gaining a 
sympathetic and generous patron. Even were he not al- 
ready possessed of so many powerful and devoted friends, 
Raphael would soon have won the favour of the new 
Pope, "for not only had he become the most celebrated 
painter of his day, but also the most finished courtier. 
Left to himself whilst still a boy, the young Urbinese 
had felt the necessity of developing those diplomatic 
qualities wherewith Nature had so richly endowed him." ] 
Indeed, Leo, as we shall presently show, proved all too 

1 Muntz. 




- 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 223 

appreciative a patron of the master, who was evidently 
a man after his own heart, combining, as Raphael did, 
supreme genius with the graceful manners of the accom- 
plished courtier and possessed of the utmost willingness 
to work in addition to his marvellous capacity for every 
variety of task. He was courtesy itself la gentilezza 
stessa as Vasari, no blind admirer, was fain to admit ; 
4 'no less excellent than graceful, he was endowed by 
Nature with all that modesty and goodness, which may 
be occasionally perceived in those favoured persons, 
who enhance the gracious sweetness of a disposition 
more than usually gentle by the fair ornament of a win- 
, ning charm, always ready to conciliate and constantly 
giving proof of the most refined consideration for all 
persons and under every circumstance". 1 

With zest the happy artist resumed his interrupted 
labours upon his uncompleted fresco in the Stanza di 
Eliodoro, the March of Attila upon Rome, which is 
merely an allegorical painting of the recent defeat of 
the French at Novara. Before the gates of Rome, 
whose ancient walls and aqueducts are clearly delineated 
in the background, the Pope St. Leo advances to 
forbid the impious king of the invading Huns to enter 
the Holy City, whilst the Pontiff's action is supported 
by the appearance of the avenging Apostles Peter and 
Paul, who hover overhead in a blaze of golden light. 
But the artist has made no secret of his open intention 
to magnify the deeds of the Medici under this transparent 
guise. St. Leo is in fact an excellent portrait of Leo X. 
in shining robes and mounted on the milk-white palfrey 
that had borne him on the field of Ravenna, whilst the 
discomfited barbarian monarch, shrinking in terror be- 
fore the heavenly effulgence shed by the angry Apostles, 

1 Vita di Raffaello Sanzio. 



224 THE MEDICI POPES 

is none other than the Most Christian King, Louis XII. 
of France. The papal cross-bearer, who gazes with 
rapturous awe at the splendid figure of the Pontiff, is 
represented by Raphael himself, and close to him appears 
a somewhat stolid cardinal seated on a mule, whose 
features again recall those of the Medicean Pope. This 
remarkable double representation of Leo both as Pontiff 
and as Cardinal in a single group has given rise to the 
theory that Raphael, who had already completed a 
portion of this fresco at the date of the death of Julius 
II., added the portrait of the newly elected Pope, whom 
the painter had lately witnessed proceeding in full state 
from the Vatican to the Lateran in the famous pageant 
of the Sacro Possesso. 1 Certainly we have in this picture 
a clear portrait of the Medici as he rode across Rome 
on that memorable occasion, clad in the white and gold 
pontifical vestments and with the jewelled tiara on his 
head. In the same hall, at right angles to this fresco, 
Raphael added the striking Deliverance of St. Peter, 
one of his best known and most popular works, wherein 
under the incident of the Angel leading the Apostle out 
of prison, he recalls the escape, deemed almost miraculous 
at the time, of Leo X. himself a few months before his 
elevation to the papal throne. 1 The contemporary 
armour worn by the Roman soldiers in this impressive 
composition an anachronism of which the learned 
Raphael could only wittingly be guilty seems intended 
expressly to connect this story from the Acts of the 
Apostles with the fortunate liberation of the captive 
Medici during the retreat of the French army from 
Milan in the summer of 1512. 

In spite of endless interruptions caused by divergent 

1 See chapter v. 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 225 

duties, the Stanza di Eliodoro was finished by the 
middle of the year 1514, whereupon Raphael set to 
adorn the third hall, usually styled that of the Incendio, 
because one of its chief compositions commemorates a 
miraculous event, which is said to have occurred under 
Leo IV. in the ninth century, when a conflagration that 
had broken out in the Borgo, or suburb lying round the 
Vatican, was quenched by means of the earnest prayers 
of that Pope. Even so unpromising a subject for artistic 
treatment has been rendered attractive through the 
unique talent of the painter, who in this case presents us 
with a delightful composition conceived in the true spirit 
of antiquity. For Raphael has shown us here the 
destruction of ancient Troy by fire, with naked figures 
forced into graceful attitudes at the sudden impulse of 
alarm ; there is pious Aeneas escaping with the aged 
Anchises on his back ; there is the little lulus following 
in his sire's footsteps and clasping the precious Lares 
and Penates in his tiny arms ; there is the unhappy 
Cassandra mourning over her own fulfilled prophecy of 
impending disaster, whilst in the distant background 
of this scene of confusion can be observed the form of 
a mediaeval Pontiff, who tries to extinguish the raging 
flames with outstretched palms, as he stands above the 
portico of old St. Peter's, which was itself a ruin at the 
time this fresco was designed. More closely connected 
with the policy of Leo X. is the fine group of the Coro- 
nation of Charlemagne, a glorious tribute to the not 
very creditable treaty lately concluded between Pope 
and French King at Bologna. In the centre of this 
great painting kneels the Emperor with the visage of 
Francis of France before the Medici depicted as his 
predecessor Leo III., whilst the merry little page who 
upholds the imperial mantle is Giuliano's bastard son, 
15 



226 THE MEDICI POPES 

the future Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici. 1 Facing this 
fresco of the Emperor's Coronation is the Victory of 
Leo IV. over the Saracens at Ostia, wherein the 
Medici's form is prominently displayed, as he sits in a 
somewhat theatrical pose attended by his favourite 
counsellors, Bibbiena and Giulio de' Medici. This hall, 
in spite of its acknowledged beauty, exhibits only too 
plainly the effects of the high pressure of work at which 
the artist was constantly kept, for the signs of the inferior 
handiwork of pupils are everywhere apparent, causing 
us to lament uselessly that the divine Raphael was not 
permitted to secure the leisure requisite for the comple- 
tion of these magnificent creations. Still deeper is our 
regret in the Sala di Costantino, the last and most 
spacious of this suite of official rooms, for in this case 
the hand of death had already beckoned to the painter 
before ever his magic pencil had touched the walls 
of this apartment. Of its decorations, the splendid 
Triumph of Constantine, the most spirited and most 
harmonious battle-piece that ever was conceived in 
imagination, was alone copied exclusively from the 
master's original cartoon by his trusted pupil, Giulio 
Romano, whilst the remaining compositions, interesting 
as they are, owe nothing either to the hand of Raphael 
or to the bounty of Leo X. 

Apart from the inestimable artistic value of these 
frescoes, the halls of the Segnatura, the Eliodoro and 
the Incendio incidentally present us with a well-filled 
portrait gallery of those cardinals and bishops, scholars 
and diplomatists, painters and poets, who thronged the 
court of the Vatican during the pontificates of Julius II. 
and Leo X., thereby affording us an additional source 
of interest and instruction. "The rooms painted by 

1 See chapter vi. 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 227 

Raphael," so writes the learned Bembo in one of his 
letters to the Cardinal Bibbiena, "are quite beautiful, 
not only on account of the skill shown in the execution, 
but also on account of the great number of clergy whose 
portraits he has introduced." 1 We ourselves to-day, 
who can but behold all this splendour after it has been 
dulled by centuries of neglect or injured by sacrilegious 
restoration, and who must perforce survey this shrine of 
art in the company of an unromantic train of fellow- 
tourists, of necessity find it difficult to realise the original 
appearance of this series of paintings in their pristine 
freshness of colour. How entrancing must have been 
the aspect of these apartments when peopled with a 
constant come-and-go of gorgeously clad prelates and 
courtiers, who as they swept proudly through the Stanze 
paused from time to time to admire, to criticise, to com- 
pare, or to examine with pleasure or envy the speaking 
likenesses of their friends or rivals, portrayed on these 
glowing walls by the brush of the Prince of Painters ! 
On reflection, as we traverse these rooms we come 
to perceive only too clearly the havoc wrought here 
during the passage of four centuries, and to understand 
the lack of a fit environment. With such thoughts in 
our minds, we can then enter into the feelings of that 
fastidious scholar Bembo, who considered these frescoes 
merely as an adequate setting to the official court life 
of the Vatican in the golden days of the Leonine Age. 
"The halls," he writes, "which Raphael has painted, 
are already beautiful beyond compare, but their charm 
is enhanced not a little by the crowds of passing cardinals 
and prelates." 

From the gloomy grandeur of the Sistine Chapel, 
peopled with Michelangelo's stately but sinister Prophets 

1 Letter dated iQth July, 1517. Muntz, p. 154. 



228 THE MEDICI POPES 

and Sibyls, we turn to enter a new world of allegory, a 
world of light and gladness, when we ascend to the 
Rooms of Raphael. Although the beautiful frescoes of 
these halls are not without their admitted defects, yet 
the general impression produced on the beholder at 
entering the Stanze is so bright and joyous, so bewilder- 
ingly full of charm, that hostile criticism is at once dis- 
armed. The mind may become more elevated amongst 
the Titanic masterpieces of the Capella Sistina, but the 
human spirits are cheered and warmed in regarding this 
succession of pictures which present to us in alluring 
form only the pleasant side of the life of the Italian 
Renaissance. The Sistine Chapel indeed reflects the 
fierce mind and unbending nature of the rugged Julius, 
but the Stanze di Raffaello are all eloquent of the liberal, 
ostentatious, easy-going, extravagant Medici, who made 
it a fundamental rule during his short but fortunate reign 
to avoid all unpleasantness and to obtain the full enjoy- 
ment of the Papacy, which, so he verily believed, Heaven 
itself had bestowed upon him. In these splendid halls the 
divinities of Paradise and of Olympus, the philosophers 
of the antique world and the confessors and martyrs of 
Christendom, the sages of Greece and Rome and the 
poets of mediaeval Italy meet, converse and argue to- 
gether in sweet reasonableness, so that we are shown 
thereby the very essence of the Humanism of the Re- 
naissance, which did not hesitate to put the virtuous 
counsels of Socrates and Plato on an equal footing with 
the dour theology of the Middle Ages. No note of 
gloom or sorrow or pain is allowed to intrude within 
these realms of bliss and brightness. Everywhere the 
Church is made to appear triumphant, but never does 
that triumph suggest war or rapine in its train. Calmly 
do the great Pontiffs Julius and Leo watch the celestial 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 229 

emissaries scatter the evil forces of idolatry and dark- 
ness ; even the great battle-piece in the Hall of Con- 
stantine exhibits no gruesome scenes of slaughter, for 
the only harrowing incident portrayed therein is the 
pathetic sight of an old warrior bending in silent grief 
over the lifeless form of a standard-bearer slain in the 
flower of his youthful beauty. The Stanze of Raphael 
constitute in short an epic poem in painting of the pre- 
servation of the arts, the learning, the religion, and last 
but not least of the secular papacy of Italy from the 
impious hands of ignorant and brutish barbarians. And 
this work is accomplished by celestial agency, whilst her 
venerable Pontiffs, the guardians of threatened Italy, the 
seat of culture and true religion, merely stand aside, to 
permit Peter and Paul with all the heavenly host to carry 
out the pious task of deliverance. 1 Cheerfulness and 
confidence are the predominant notes in the various 
scenes depicted by the Prince of Painters ; an all-per- 
vading pessimism is the main characteristic of the Sistine 
Chapel ; 2 it is our peculiar good fortune that in these 
latter days we can derive an equal but diverse pleasure 
of the intellect from the contemplation of each of these 
shrines of Italian art. 

Of the countless thousands who annually traverse this 
world-famous suite of apartments, few persons have paused 
to admire the exquisite wood-carving that completes the 
general scheme of their ornamentation. Yet the doors 
and shutters of these rooms, which were carved by 
Giovanni Barile of Siena under the personal supervision 
of Raphael, constitute of themselves a study in Medicean 

1 " In the Stanze of Raphael the triumphs of the Popedom over 
all its foes are set forth with matchless art and with matchless unvera- 
city " (J. Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire, p. 289). 

2 J. Michelet, La Renaissance. 



2 3 o THE MEDICI POPES 

heraldry, that serves to link the series of historical 
frescoes on their glowing walls with the pontificate of 
the Medici. For every panel is carved in high relief 
with designs that embody the Diamond with the triple 
Plumes, 1 the Broncone, or branch, of the young Lorenzo, 
the Medicean lions with globes at their feet, and of 
course the inevitable ox-yoke of Leo himself with his 
favourite legend of Suave ; whilst in the central panel 
of each shutter a frieze of interlaced diamond rings sur- 
rounds the papal tiara and the familiar shield with its six 
pellets. The somewhat gloomy ante-chamber of the 
papal pages and equerries, that lies between the Sala di 
Costantino and the diminutive chapel of San Lorenzo 
wherein Leo used daily to hear Mass, is likewise heavily 
enriched with the various emblems of the Medici. In 
its splendid cassetted ceiling, gorgeously gilded and 
painted, the form of the Medicean diamond is through- 
out utilised as a pendentive, and in the flat compart- 
ments of the roof are everywhere conspicuous the well- 
known devices of Lorenzo the Magnificent and of his 
second son, the Supreme Pontiff. The heraldic and 
emblematic wood-carving in the Stanze di Raffaelo may 
be reckoned of trifling consequence to the passing visitor, 
yet in so famous a place it is interesting to note these 
memorials of the pomp and pride of the first Medicean 
Pope, to whose love and patronage of art is largely due 
the very existence of those masterpieces of the Urbinese 
artist, which engross our full attention to the exclusion 
of their historical interest. 

Whilst he was yet striving vainly to obtain the 
necessary time to complete the paintings of the Stanze, 
the over-worked artist was commissioned by his ap- 

1 The motto of this emblem consists of the erudite rebus, Super 
adamas in pennis. 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 



231 



preciative but inexorable patron to adorn the newly 
erected Loggie, or open arcades that mask the facade 
of the palace overlooking the great courtyard of San 
Damaso, which their architect Bramante had left un- 
finished at his death in 1514. This fresh task, in which 
Raphael was largely aided by his talented pupil, Giovanni 
da Udine the first decorator of his day, though not 
numbered in the front rank of its artists must have 
proceeded concurrently with the work carried on in the 
adjoining suite of the Stanze, for the so-called Loggia of 
Raphael can be entered from the portals of the Sala di 
Costantino. This spacious and lofty gallery, which was 
originally intended to lie open to the strong light and 
pure air of Heaven and was only enclosed with glass in 
the course of the past century, consists of thirteen broad 
bays, each of which contains a domed ceiling enriched 
with four subjects selected from the Old and New 
Testaments, all treated with a peculiar charm and sim- 
plicity that have earned for this series of fifty-two sacred 
pictures the well-chosen title of " the Bible of Raphael". 
More conspicuous, however, than these frescoes placed 
high in the domed ceiling amidst the usual adjuncts of 
Medicean emblems, are the countless wall-paintings, 
now terribly defaced and faded by centuries of ill-treat- 
ment and neglect, which are well known to artists from 
the engravings of Volpato and Ottaviani. This mass of 
mural paintings represents every possible variety of 
subject, antique or contemporary gods and goddesses, 
nymphs and dryads, peasants and monsters, birds, beasts, 
and fishes, garlands of fruit and flowers, fantastic archi- 
tecture, domestic implements of elegant form, and in 
short any and every object or creature that invited 
artistic treatment. This positive riot of the exuberant 
fancy of a master-mind was certainly the direct result of 



232 THE MEDICI POPES 

Raphael's deep interest in the vanished life of the 
ancient world, for he had long been an enthusiastic 
student of the grottesche? the classical wall-paintings and 
stucco designs found in the recently excavated halls of 
the Palatine and the Coelian. To transplant in an 
amended and yet more beautiful guise this long-lost art 
from the decaying chambers of pagan emperors to the 
palace of the Roman Pontiff became a cherished ambition 
of the painter, who was not only the chief artist, but also 
the first antiquary of his day. So changed, however, is 
the aspect of this Loggia since the glazing of its arches 
and so hopelessly ruined the Renaissance grottesche of 
Raphael and Giovanni da Udine, that we find it very 
difficult under present conditions to conjure up the ap- 
pearance of this broad corridor in its original state as 
Raphael designed and adorned it for the Pope. We 
miss the effect of the open air ; we note the pitiable con- 
dition of the once gay and glowing mural decorations ; 
and we look in vain for the splendid pavement of glazed 
and coloured tiles, an admirable example of Luca Delia 
Robbia's art, which has long since perished. The far- 
famed Loggia of Raphael, thanks to the ill-usage of 
man and the vagaries of the Roman climate, exhibits 
to us in these days but the shadow of its pristine glory. 
So damaged in short is this fine specimen of the arts 
and architecture of the Renaissance, that we can but 
echo the lament of the critic Lanzi, who declares "that 
the exposure of this gallery to the inclemency of the 
weather has almost reduced it to the squalid appearance 
of the ancient grotesques ; but they who saw it after it 
was finished, when the lustre of the gilding, the snowy 
whiteness of the stuccoes, the brilliance of the colours, 

1 Hence the word "grotesques," the decorations found in the 
grotte, as applied directly to this style of ornament. 




THE LOGGIA OF RAPHAEL 

IN THE VATICAN 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 233 

and the freshness of the marbles made it resplendent 
with beauty on every side, must have been struck with 
amazement as at a vision of Paradise V Says Vasari, 
" it is impossible either to execute or imagine a more 
beautiful work," and with such reflections we must try 
to picture for ourselves the general aspect of this gorgeous 
corridor, as it was originally conceived by the genius of 
Raphael and embellished by the skill of Giovanni da 
Udine. In any case, though it seems but a wreck of 
its former magnificence, the Loggia has fared better than 
another celebrated work of the master in the Vatican, 
the so-called Bath-chamber of the Cardinal Bibbiena. 
This apartment in the papal palace was undertaken at 
the request of Raphael's especial friend in the Sacred 
College, Bernardo Dovizi of Bibbiena, who himself 
proposed to Raphael the decoration of a room in the 
Vatican in imitation of one of the frescoed chambers re- 
cently unearthed in the ruins of the Palatine. "Thus 
far had I proceeded," writes Bembo to his friend Bib- 
biena in a letter dated iQth April, 1516, "when Raphael 
himself entered. He seems to have guessed that I was 
speaking of him to you, so that he begged me to add 
that he wished you to tell him any other subjects you 
might desire to have painted in your bath-room. Send 
him full details of them as soon as you can, because 
those designs already chosen will be started upon the 
walls this week." The theme chosen by the witty and 
learned cardinal was taken from the venue of classical 
mythology, for he had selected the story of Venus 
and Cupid, which, it must be frankly admitted, was 
hardly suited to the environment of the palace of the 
chief celibate in Christendom. But the commission was 
highly congenial to the taste of the artist, whose de- 
1 History of Painting, vol. i., Roman Epoch. 



234 THE MEDICI POPES 

corations of Bibbiena's bath-room, marvellously imbued 
with the true spirit of the antique, were greatly admired 
in Rome, and probably caused the envious Chigi's de- 
mand for the painting of the allegory of Venus, Cupid 
and Psyche, which the master designed for the frieze of 
a hall in the Sienese banker's splendid villa on the Tiber. 1 
This room at the Vatican with its exquisite frescoes has 
long been closed to the public, ostensibly on account of 
its almost ruined condition, but also perhaps because a 
prudish reticence refuses to allow even artists admission 
to a chamber that proclaims only too clearly the " pagan " 
proclivities of the Medicean Pontiff and his cardinals. 
Fortunately, copies have been made from time to time 
of these justly admired frescoes, so that a tolerable idea 
can still be gleaned therefrom of the original charm and 
harmony of what must have been one of the painter's 
finest works. 

Such, told briefly and baldly, is the story of Raphael's 
main achievements in the Vatican during the seven 
years from 1513 to 1520 under the direct patronage of 
Leo X., who has certainly left the mark of his taste and 
influence upon the palace of the Popes. And whilst we 
have good reason to deplore the Pontiff's attitude to- 
wards Raphael in hastening unduly the artist's labours 
and in heaping fresh tasks upon his already over- 
burdened shoulders, we ought in fairness to recognise 
our enormous debt of gratitude to the bounty and 
insight of the Medici. 

From the decoration of the actual fabric of the 
Vatican, we now pass to another celebrated work of the 
master, the set of tapestries ordered by, Leo for the 
embellishment of the blank wall-spaces in the Sistine 

1 Now known as the Villa Farnesina. It is to-day in a pitiable 
condition of neglect and dilapidation. 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 235 

Chapel, already a treasure-house of art with its painted 
roof from the brush of Michelangelo and its many frescoes 
dating from the distant reign of Sixtus IV. It was 
Leo's fixed intention to obtain two sets of tapestries, 
one to illustrate the Acts of the Apostles and thereby to 
symbolise the historical institution of the Papacy ; whilst 
the other was to represent the Life and Death of Christ. 
Upon the necessary cartoons for the former set, the 
artist hastened to employ his characteristic skill and 
energy, with the happy result that all the Christian world 
is still marvelling at the combination of simplicity and 
grandeur displayed in his conception of the leading 
events in the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul. The 
subjects chosen by Raphael are too well known to need 
any hint of description here, 1 for they have been made 
familiar to us all from our childhood, and it is truly no 
slight proof of Raphael's matchless genius that his 
pictures of the Bible appeal with equal force and charm 
both to the infant and to the scholar. Few persons 
however, even of those who visit Rome, where these 
splendid relics of the master-mind of Raphael and of the 
liberality of Leo are preserved in the Galleria degli 
Arazzi in the Vatican, have made observation of the 
smaller subjects below the large Biblical groups of 
figures. Yet these little-noticed designs serve to connect 
this famous set of tapestries with the great Pontiff who 
was primarily responsible for their production. For 
besides the customary display of Medicean shields and 
devices in the rich and variegated borders of each piece 
of tapestry, we are presented with a number of quaint 
but vigorous scenes from the early career of Giovanni 
de' Medici before he was elected Pope. Amongst the 

1 Or to remind the reader of the existence of seven of the original 
cartoons in the South Kensington Museum. 



236 THE MEDICI POPES 

many incidents of his busy life, already described in 
these pages, we can recognise the Cardinal's flight in 
disguise across the wild Apennine passes ; the looting of 
his palace in Florence ; his dramatic capture by the 
victorious French at Ravenna (perhaps the best of this 
series) ; the triumphal entry of the Cardinal into Florence 
after the sack of Prato, and his reception at the conclave 
of March, 1513, whence he emerged as Leo X. No 
doubt the second set of tapestries, illustrating the Life 
of Our Lord, was meant to contain subsidiary scenes of 
a like nature depicting Leo's pontificate. 

The cartoons, when completed, were dispatched to 
Brussels and there retained after the copies in tapestry 
had been duly sent to Rome. On the arrival of these 
precious hangings (for their cost amounted to 150,000 
ducats, all told), by order of Leo X. they were publicly 
exhibited in the Sistine Chapel on St. Stephen's Day, 
1519, and loud were the praises from all quarters 
showered upon the popular and successful artist. " All 
in the chapel," so writes Paris de Grassis, "were struck 
dumb by the sight of these hangings, for by universal 
consent there is nothing more beautiful in the world." 
Nor can we wonder at this outburst of delight and con- 
gratulation, when we recall Vasari's description of the 
splendid guise in which Raphael's majestic designs were 
thus exhibited to the admiring crowds of high and low 
in Rome on St. Stephen's Day. " The work was so 
admirably executed that it awakened astonishment in 
all who beheld it, as it still does to-day ; for the spectator 
finds it difficult to conceive how it has been found pos- 
sible to have produced such hair and beards by weaving, 
or to have given so much softness to the flesh by means 
of thread ; a work which certainly seems to have been 
performed by miracle rather than by the art of man, 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 237 

seeing that we have here animals, buildings, water, and 
innumerable objects of all kinds, so well executed that 
they do not look like a mere texture woven in the loom, 
but like paintings executed with the pencil." It is true 
that Vasari's unstinted praise is directed to the execution 
rather than to the design of these tapestries ; yet we can 
well imagine the breathless admiration of the connoisseurs 
of Leo's court before this blaze of colour and their warm 
adulation of the modest artist, whose end followed so 
quickly upon the heels of this moment of proud satis- 
faction. 

Nevertheless, all this mass of artistic employment, 
finished or unfinished, amounted to but a fraction of the 
manifold duties which the hard-pressed Raphael was 
expected to perform. Ever since the death of Bramante 
in the spring of 1514, the youthful painter had been 
entrusted by Leo with the superintendence of the rising 
edifice of the new St. Peter's ; in the actual words of 
the papal brief of appointment to this honourable but 
arduous task, the flattering reason is advanced, " because 
thou not only excellest in the art of painting, as all men 
agree, but hast also been nominated by Bramante on 
his death-bed as being skilful in the science of architec- 
ture, and fit to continue the erection of that temple to 
the Prince of the Apostles, which he began". And 
again, shortly before the over-taxed artist's death, Leo 
X. (who to his eternal credit appears as the sole Pontiff 
of the Renaissance who made some slight effort to save 
the existing relics of classical Rome from the impious 
hands of the architects and builders) charged the all-too- 
willing Raphael with the drawing-up of a full list of the 
many surviving ruins of Rome and with the compila- 
tion of a plan of the ancient city. And with commend- 
able courage the great painter, architect, scholar and 



238 THE MEDICI POPES 

antiquary in the opening lines of his report pleads to the 
sympathetic Leo for increased care in the preservation 
of the precious objects still remaining; nor does he 
scruple to remind the Medici of the evil example set by 
his own predecessors in so important a matter. "The 
very persons," so he declares, "who should have been 
the special champions of the desolate remains of ancient 
Rome, have shown themselves the most forward in 
robbing and injuring her. How many Pontiffs, O Holy 
Father, endowed with your present dignity, but pos- 
sessing neither your knowledge, your merit, nor your 
breadth of sympathy, have allowed the destruction of 
antique temples, of statues, of triumphal arches, and 
other glorious monuments of the founders of our country ! 
How many among them have permitted the foundations 
of ancient buildings to be laid bare for the sake of the 
cement, and have thus reduced them to ruin! How 
many antique figures and other carvings have been 
turned into lime! I am saying only what is true, 
when I declare that this modern Rome, with all its 
grandeur and beauty, with its churches, palaces, and 
other monuments, is built with the lime made from our 
ancient marbles." It is almost too tantalising to specu- 
late on what might have been accomplished in these 
comparatively early days of Roman vandalism, had but 
the enthusiastic Raphael and the enlightened Leo been 
spared to contrive between them an adequate scheme 
for the better preservation of the priceless antiquities of 
the city. 

It was whilst thus engrossed, amongst a multitude 
of other duties and commissions, on the preparation of 
his report on the Roman ruins that the divine artist was 
suddenly struck down with his mortal illness in the spring 
of 1520. Hastily summoned from his work at Chigi's 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 239 

villa by a message from Leo, who wished to confer with 
Raphael concerning one of his innumerable schemes, 
the master hurried on foot along the Lungara to arrive 
heated and weary at the Vatican, where he caught a 
severe chill whilst conversing with the Pontiff beneath a 
draughty arcade. A constitution naturally delicate, 
added to the ceaseless strain upon mental and physical 
powers during the last seven years, assisted the progress 
of the malady, which was further increased by the ab- 
surd treatment of the ignorant physicians, who merci- 
lessly bled and physicked their exhausted patient. The 
picturesque but melancholy story of Raphael's last days 
of his death-bed scene in the chamber containing his 
great unfinished masterpiece of the Transfiguration, 
that he was executing for the Cardinal Giulio de' Medici ; 
of the wild grief of the Roman Pontiff, court and people ; 
of his stately interment in the Pantheon of Rome ; of 
his lofty epitaph from the pen of Bembo lies outside 
the scope of a work dealing with his papal patron. On 
6th April, "on Good-Friday night, or rather at three 
o'clock on Saturday morning, expired the noble and 
excellent painter, Raffaelo da Urbino. His death 
caused universal sorrow, particularly amongst learned 
men, for whom more especially, although also for 
painters and architects, he had drawn in a book (as 
Ptolemy drew the configuration of the world) the ancient 
buildings of Rome, with their proportions, forms and 
decoration, and so faithfully, that he who has beheld these 
drawings might almost assert that he had seen antique 
Rome itself. . . . But Death interrupted this useful and 
glorious enterprise, for he carried off the young man at 
the age of thirty -four (sic). 1 The Pope himself felt 
intense grief, and he had sent at least six times during 

1 In reality thirty-seven. 



24 o THE MEDICI POPES 

the fifteen days that his illness lasted, to enquire for fresh 
news. You may judge then of what others did. And 
as on precisely the same day the Pope's palace was 
menaced with destruction, so much so, that His Holiness 
was forced to seek refuge in the apartments of Monsig- 
nore Cybb, there are many people who say that it was 
not the weight of the topmost Loggia which caused 
this accident, but that it was a portent to announce the 
passing of him who had toiled so long at the adornment 
of the palace. 

"And in truth an incomparable master no longer 
exists. Lamentations for his death should not merely 
be expressed in light and fugitive words, but by serious 
and immortal poetry. And poets, if I am not mistaken, 
are preparing in great numbers for the task. 

" It is said that he leaves a fortune of 16,000 ducats, 
5,000 being in silver specie, the greater part of which 
is to be divided amongst his friends and servants. To 
the Cardinal of Santa Maria in Portico 1 he has be- 
queathed his house, which formerly belonged to Bramante 
and which he bought for 3,000 ducats. 

" He has been interred in the Pantheon, whither he 
was borne with great honour. His soul has doubtless 
gone to contemplate the edifices in Heaven, which are not 
subject to destruction. His name and memory will live 
long in his works and in the remembrance of all honest 
men. 

" Far less important, in my opinion, although it may 
appear otherwise to the multitude, is the loss the world 
has just sustained in the death of Signor Agostino Chigi, 
which happened last night. I shall not speak much of 

J The official title of Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, commonly 
called the Cardinal Bibbiena (vide passini), who only survived 
Raphael seven months, dying on gth November, 1520. 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 241 

him here, as it is not known yet to whom he has devised 
his property. I merely gather he has left to the world 
80,000 ducats in ready money, letters of exchange, loans, 
estates, sums placed at interest in banking houses, plate 
and jewels. 

"It is rumoured that Michelangelo is ailing at 
Florence. Tell our Catena of this, that he may be upon 
his guard, since great painters are threatened. God be 
with Youth ! 

" ROME, nth April, 1520 "* 

And following on the Venetian Michiel's letter, that 
perfect courtier Castiglione writes to his mother : "I am 
in good health, but it seems that I were not in Rome, 
since my poor Raffaelo is here no longer. May his 
blessed soul be with God ! " Perhaps of all who mourned 
for the departed artist, none was more sincere or stead- 
fast in his sorrow than Castiglione, who had lately as- 
sisted Raphael in his exploration of the Roman ruins and 
whose portrait from his departed friend's hand constitutes 
to-day one of the chief treasures of the Louvre. " My 
love for my Raphael," he writes at a later period, "is 
just as strong and enduring in death as ever it was in 
life." 

Thus expired on his thirty-seventh birthday, Raffaelle 
Sanzio da Urbino, the chief glory and ornament of the 
splendid pontificate of Leo X. 

As has been already remarked, we have not enumer- 
ated a tithe of the multitude of commissions begun, if 
not completed, by Raphael during the reign of his prin- 
cipal patron, Leo X. Cardinals, foreign potentates, 
courtiers, prelates, merchants, struggling artists, all alike 

1 Extract from a Letter of Marcantonio Michiel of Venice, staying 
in Rome, to Antonio di Marsilio in Venice. Quoted by Passavant, 
Muntz, etc. 

16 



242 THE MEDICI POPES 

besieged the great master with requests for Madonnas, 
family portraits, designs for palace or villa, drawings 
of ornate chalices and ewers, whilst the good-natured 
painter, who seemed unable to say no to any suppliant, 
however importunate or however humble, sapped his 
strength in trying to satisfy their endless demands. But 
of the numerous works we are compelled to pass over, 
we must make at least one exception out of the many 
portraits executed by the master. This is of course the 
world-famous likeness of Leo X., familiar to all from 
photographs and engravings, if not from the actual 
painting which hangs in the Pitti Palace of Leo's own 
city of Florence. This work has been described again 
and again, yet it would be impossible to omit a brief 
notice of it in these pages. For here Raphael exhibits 
to us the utmost height of his genius as a portrait-painter, 
since not only does he present us with an excellent like- 
ness of the first Medicean Pontiff, but he verily seems 
to usher us into the presence of Leo himself, so natural 
is the pose and so lifelike the countenance. Seated at 
a table, covered with a cloth, whereon lies an elaborately 
chiselled bell, the great Pontiff appears to gaze straight 
into the eyes of the advancing spectator, whilst his ex- 
pressive and enquiring face seems but to lack that quality 
which alone marred the reputed perfection of Donatello's 
statue of St. George, human speech. Without stooping 
to flatter his magnificent patron, the artist has with his 
inimitable skill contrived to invest the sensual unattractive 
countenance and the ungainly form with an air of real 
majesty. The finely moulded white hands are pro- 
mirrently displayed, as with the right the Pope carelessly 
fingers a leaf of the illuminated manuscript before him, 
and with the other grasps the inevitable spy-glass. The 
crimson cap and mozzetta trimmed with fur and the rich 



LEO X. AND RAPHAEL 243 

white brocade of the rochet provide warmth of colouring 
in this splendid composition, which for historical interest 
combined with artistic treatment must stand unrivalled 
amongst the masterpieces of the world. Depicted with 
equal force of character but with less minute detail ap- 
pear the figures of the two cardinals, Leo's relatives, 
who stand beside the papal chair. These are Giulio 
de' Medici, afterwards Clement VII., whose sharp 
features and handsome but saturnine face, afford a 
marked contrast with the full fleshy countenance of his 
cousin, the Supreme Pontiff. With hands clasping the 
ornate woodwork of the Pope's chair, stands Cardinal 
Luigi de' Rossi, presenting a common-place type of 
ecclesiastic but serving admirably as a foil to the pro- 
minent central figure of the group. 1 As Rossi was one 
of that batch of thirty-one cardinals created by Leo in 
1517, and died in the year but one following, we can 
fix with tolerable accuracy both the date of the work and 
the age of the Pope, who must have been about forty-two 
or forty-three at the time of this portrait, though the 
heavy flabby countenance betokens a more advanced 
age. Nothing can give the student of the Italian 
Renaissance a closer insight into the inmost aims and 
real character of the Medicean Pope than this master- 
piece of Raphael, which clearly displays the outward 
geniality of Leo, yet hints also at the underlying ambition 
and lurking cruelty of his varied nature, so that this 
portrait seems truly a clue to all the events and actions, 
private and public, which adorned or disgraced the reign 
of the Papal Maecenas. 

1 In a fine copy of this celebrated work by Giuliano Bugiardini 
of Florence, which hangs in the Corsini Gallery at Rome, the figure 
of Luigi Rossi has been replaced by that of the Pope's nephew, 
Cardinal Innocenzo Cybo, who ordered Bugiardini to make this change 
in the copy ordered (see Vasari, Life of G. Bugiardini). 



CHAPTER X 

CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 

II n'eut jamais plus plaisant pape. Sur ce nom grave et leonin 
Jean de Mdicis etait un rieur, un farceur, et il est mort d'avoir trop 
ri d'une defaite des Francais. ... II croyait avoir peu a vivre, et 
vivait double, menant la vie comme une farce, aimant les savants, 
les artistes comme acteurs de sa come'die. . . . Ce n'est pas que 
cette cour si gaie n'ait eu aussi ses tragedies. Les cardinaux, qui 
avaient cru nommer un rieur pacifique, furent un peu etonnes lorsque, 
tout en riant, il entrangla un, le Cardinale Petrucci. Profitant de cet 
etonnement et de cette terreur, il fit (ce que n'avait ose Alexandre 
VI.) trente-et-un cardinaux en un jour, faisant d'une pierre deux 
coups, assurant a sa famille la prochaine election, et remplissant ses 
coffres par cette vente de trente chapeaux (J. Michelet, La Reforme). 

BUT Leo's gay and brilliant court, wherein the 
headlong pursuit of learning and of pleasure ran 
its course unchecked, was not fated to continue 
without its due share of gloomy and repulsive tragedies, 
nor can the Pope himself be deemed blameless for their 
occurrence. It was not long after his accession that a 
serise of disappointment began to affect the minds of 
the score or so of Italian cardinals who had elected 
Giovanni de' Medici, and though Leo both from natural 
inclination as well as from set policy showed himself in- 
variably courteous and conciliatory towards the members 
of the Sacred College, yet by degrees this simmering 
discontent tended ultimately to develop into a real 
revolt against his person and authority. The causes 

244 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 245 

contributing to this new-sprung spirit of disaffection at 
the Roman court were many and various, but the papal 
favour openly shown in Rome to the Florentine adher- 
ents of the Medici and the determined prosecution of 
the war of Urbino were of themselves capable of arous- 
ing the hostile jealousy of many members of the College. 
Amongst others, Raffaele Riario, the wealthiest Church- 
man in Rome and the senior cardinal, had been greatly 
exasperated by Leo's forcible expulsion from his realm 
of Francesco Delia Rovere, the late Pope's nephew and 
Riario's own kinsman, and this personal displeasure was 
felt, though in a less degree, by the other cardinals who 
for divers reasons were attached to the interests of the 
Delia Rovere family. Francesco Soderini shared this 
dislike, though for a totally different cause, for he had 
been greatly incensed by Leo's open determination to 
wed his nephew Lorenzo, now styled the Duke of 
Urbino, with a French princess of royal birth instead of 
with a daughter of the burgher House of Soderini, ac- 
cording to the scheme originally arranged by Bernardo 
da Bibbiena at the late conclave ; and this impending 
breach of faith on Leo's part revived more fiercely than 
ever the slumbering enmity of the Florentine Cardinal. 
The whole College moreover had been deeply angered 
by the Pope's recent bestowal of scarlet hats, contrary 
to the pledge exacted from him prior to his election, 
although the number of cardinals so created before the 
spring of 1517 had not exceeded eight in number. 1 For 
in the first year of his pontificate Leo had conferred the 
supreme honour upon his secretary Bernardo Dovizi 
and upon Lorenzo Pucci, both of them Tuscans, and 

1 Amongst them stands prominent the name of Thomas Wolsey, 
who had succeeded the late Cardinal Christopher Bainbridge in the 
see of York. 



246 THE MEDICI POPES 

also upon Lorenzo Cybb, a youth of twenty, his own 
nephew and the grandson of Pope Innocent VIII., who 
had been the original promoter of the Medici's career 
in the Church; "that which Innocent gave to me, to 
Innocent I restore," was the smiling Leo's sole retort to 
the many sharp criticisms passed upon him for this action. 
This moderate use of his legitimate prerogative proved 
however highly distasteful to the older members of the 
Sacred College, but that which especially served to rouse 
their jealousy and ire was the Pope's questionable con- 
duct in regard to his cousin Giulio de' Medici, the most 
devoted but by no means the ablest counsellor Leo had 
at his command. Giulio, who had long wavered be- 
tween the choice of a secular or an ecclesiastical career, 
had ridden at his kinsman's coronation procession in the 
capacity of a knight of Rhodes, but a few days later he 
made a final decision, accepting the archbishopric of 
Florence from Leo, who met the inevitable objection to 
Giulio's base birth by granting the new-made prelate a 
special dispensation enabling him to fill so exalted an 
office. This unusual form of favouritism gave no little 
offence, which was immeasurably increased, when 
shortly afterwards the Pope appointed a commission to 
inquire into all the circumstances of his cousin's alleged 
parentage with the obvious intention of declaring him 
the legitimate son and heir of that Giuliano de' Medici, 
who had been murdered by the Pazzi conspirators in the 
Duomo of- Florence in 1478. This inquiry was so 
patent a sham and a subterfuge, that boundless indigna- 
tion but little or no surprise was manifested, when this 
packed body of commissioners reported the new arch- 
bishop of Florence to be verily the actual child and heir 
of the murdered Giuliano by his true wife, a certain 
Florentine lady by name Simonetta Gorini, with whom 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 247 

he had contracted a secret marriage. 1 On 2Oth Septem- 
ber, 1513, accordingly, a papal proclamation, professing 
to be based on the finding of this commission, affirmed 
Giulio de' Medici to be legitimate, whereupon the 
scarlet hat was formally presented to the late Medicean 
bastard, the future Pope Clement VII. Without doubt 
it was a natural impulse in Leo to raise to the purple, 
even by an artifice, one who was both closely related to 
him and deeply attached to his private interests, yet a 
proceeding so irregular and so unpleasantly reminiscent 
of bygone Borgian methods, caused the most unpleasant 
impression throughout all Italy. Upon the newly created 
Porporato, bastard and upstart as he was generally 
regarded, fell the jealous dislike of his unwilling col- 
leagues, whose hatred waxed hotter when they began 
to perceive the immense and increasing influence wielded 
by the Cardinal Giulio. For it soon became evident 
that the more subtle and selfish counsel of this interloper 
was gradually supplanting the influence of the easy-going 
and less ambitious Bibbiena, the waning of whose in- 
timacy with Leo can be traced in the growing power of 
the Cardinal de' Medici, albeit the latter was in taste, 
character and appearance the complete antithesis of his 
master. " He was rather morose and disagreeable," 
writes Guicciardini, "than of a pleasant and affable 
temper ; reputed avaricious ; by no means trustworthy 
and naturally disinclined to do a kindness ; very grave 
and cautious in all his actions ; perfectly sejf-controlled 
and of great capacity, if timidity did not sometimes warp 
his better judgment." 2 

In spite however of the general dissatisfaction felt at 

1 Perhaps " la Bella Simonetta," whose portrait, ascribed to Botti- 
celli, hangs in the Pitti Palace in Florence (Creighton, vol. v.). 

2 Storia d' Italia, lib. xi. 



248 THE MEDICI POPES 

the sudden rise to power of this unpopular Medicean 
bastard and at the long disastrous war of Urbino, it is 
doubtful whether this state of discontent would ever have 
broken out in open insurrection, but for the unbridled 
passions of the boy-cardinal of Siena, the dissolute 
Alfonso Petrucci, who had previously shown himself so 
warm an advocate of Leo's claims during the late con- 
clave. At the time of his visit to Florence in the past 
winter, Leo had presumed to meddle in Sienese politics 
by abetting the removal of Alfonso's brother Borghese 
from the governorship of that city, and by helping to sub- 
stitute for that young tyrant the more respectable 
Raffaele Petrucci, a member of the same family, who 
was Castellan of Sant' Angelo. Alfonso, not without 
reason, now began to complain bitterly of the Pope's 
ingratitude in return for his past services, and his in- 
dignant threats of vengeance found a ready echo in the 
minds of several of his colleagues. The old Raffaele 
Riario, willing to wound in secret and yet afraid to strike 
openly, appears to have encouraged the silly youth, 
whose fury was likewise inflamed purposely by Soderini, 
Sauli and other malcontents in the Sacred College, in- 
cluding the Cardinal Adrian of Corneto, who is said to 
have desired his master's speedy death for no other 
reason than that a soothsayer had once declared to him 
that the next Pontiff wasj destined to be one Adrian, a 
person of mean birth but of great culture. 1 Assuming 
this description of Leo's successor to apply to none other 
than himself, the Cardinal Adrian with incredible folly 
did not shrink from approving of Petrucci's violent 
suggestions, which included a plan for stabbing the 
Pontiff on some convenient occasion whilst out hunting. 

1 A curious prophecy which was actually verified in the election 
of Adrian VI. in the Conclave of 1522. Jovius, lib. iii. 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 249 

Willing instruments of assassination at that time were 
never lacking for the accomplishment of any plot, no 
matter how diabolical or dangerous of execution, so that 
a certain medical charlatan from Vercelli, one Gian- 
Battista by name, on overhearing Petrucci's unguarded 
threats and complaints, at once made known his readiness 
to compass the Pope's death on consideration of a suit- 
able recompense. The plan proposed by Gian-Battista 
and adopted apparently by Petrucci and his friends, was 
that the doctor should be introduced at the Vatican as a 
skilful physician, who was well qualified to alleviate the 
Pope's painful ailment, and that, having once gained 
Leo's confidence, he should then secretly murder his 
unsuspecting patient by means of poisoned band- 
ages. A secretary of the Cardinal Petrucci and also 
a Sienese captain, bearing the suggestive nick-name 
of Poco-in-testa, offered to participate in this horrible 
scheme, which might easily have been crowned with 
success, but for Leo's unexpected reluctance to admit 
another surgeon into the palace. Efforts were still being 
made to induce the Pope to accept the new physician's 
services, when the existence of the plot was suddenly 
revealed through the carelessness of a page, although 
Petrucci's own behaviour in withdrawing from Rome and 
opening negotiations with the Pope's enemy, the dis- 
possessed Duke of Urbino, formed of itself a sufficient 
cause to excite the alarm of Leo, who, it must in fairness 
be admitted, had already warned the young cardinal of 
the peril of his treasonable conduct. Furious at his 
discovery of Petrucci's abominable plot, yet with true 
Medicean craft keeping his information a profound 
secret, Leo now invited Petrucci with affectionate words 
to return to Rome and even allowed the Spanish am- 
bassador to send the young cardinal a safe-conduct 



2 5 o THE MEDICI POPES 

couched in the most explicit terms. And the Cardinal 
of Siena, who seems to have been as gullible by nature 
as he was violent, was apparently satisfied with the papal 
promises, for he now proceeded towards Rome, although 
the court was marvelling at his extreme rashness in 
venturing thither under such circumstances. On reach- 
ing the gates, Petrucci was joined by Sauli, and the 
two princes of the Church with a large train of servants 
made their way without a thought of treachery to the 
Vatican, where on their arrival a most dramatic and 
disgraceful scene took place. For scarcely had the two 
cardinals entered the courtyard of the palace than by 
order of the Pope they were arrested and seized in spite 
of their indignant protests, Sauli tearing his rochet to 
shreds in his impotent rage, whilst Petrucci set to cursing 
Leo at the top of his voice. From the Vatican the two 
unfortunate men were forcibly removed to the castle of 
Sant' Angelo, to be thrust " into the most horrible 
of its underground dungeons, full of a cruel stench". 1 
Nor would the hard-hearted Medici allow even a single 
servant to attend to their wants, until the Sacred College 
in a body came humbly to entreat this favour on behalf 
of its imprisoned members. In vain did the Spanish 
envoy plead and reproach, quoting to the Pope the terms 
of the safe-conduct lately issued ; Leo remained fixed 
in his resolve to make an example of these two con- 
spirators against his authority. Meanwhile the Pontiff, 
who without any reasonable shadow of doubt had really 
been terrified by his late discovery, ordered the gates of 
the Vatican to be kept closed and securely guarded 
against an attempt upon his person which he averred 
was imminent. Having called public attention to his 
alarm by such measures of precaution, Leo's next step 

1 Jovius, lib. iii. 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 251 

was to order the seizure of the venerable Cardinal Riario, 
an incident which caused a profound impression in the 
city, where people were heard openly to exclaim that 
the House of Medici was at last about to wreak its long- 
delayed vengeance upon the old envoy of Sixtus IV., 
who nearly forty years before had been present at the 
conspiracy of the Pazzi in the Florentine Cathedral. So 
overcome with fear did this aged and luxurious prince of 
the Church show himself at the moment of his arrest, 
that being unable to move from sheer terror he had to be 
borne in a litter from the papal ante-chamber to a distant 
room in the Vatican, where although kept a close 
prisoner he was treated with more consideration than his 
luckless colleagues in the neighbouring fortress of Sant' 
Angelo. 

The consistory was now convoked in the utmost 
haste, and here Leo, trembling with an angry excitement, 
which some considered to be assumed rather than real, 
fiercely demanded of the cardinals present the names of 
all who were implicated in the recently unmasked plot. 
After a lengthy and most undignified altercation, which 
could be clearly overheard outside the apartment and be- 
came indeed in two hours' time the common talk of all 
Rome, the dozen members present, dreading the Pope's 
fury and quaking at the evil fate of Petrucci and Sauli, at 
last compelled Francesco Soderini and Adrian of Corneto 
to come forward and entreat for mercy upon their knees, 
albeit in all probability their crime consisted in little else 
than the uttering of coarse jests and the open expression 
of their private ill-will against Leo. The cardinals, now 
thoroughly cowed and crestfallen, gladly submitted to 
the immense fines, which were inflicted upon their com- 
panions kneeling in an agony of terror at the feet of the 
enraged Pontiff, who scarcely deigned to notice their 



252 THE MEDICI POPES 

presence or attitude. So high were the penalties fixed, 
that Soderini was shortly forced to retire from Rome, 
nor did he return thither during Leo's lifetime, whilst the 
Cardinal of Corneto at the first opportunity fled by 
stealth from the city, and having been hunted hither 
and thither by the papal minions was finally lost sight of 
and died in obscurity : truly a tragical ending to the 
prosperous career of that able but lowly born ecclesi- 
astic, who for many years held the English see of Bath 
and Wells. 1 With regard to Riario, the Pope, somewhat 
to the surprise of those around him, showed a measure 
of his traditional clemency towards the old antagonist of 
his family, who had thus fallen helplessly into the toils. 
Riario was certainly mulcted in a huge ransom, but after 
an humiliating expression of repentance in public was 
eventually re-instated in his former dignities, although 
he prudently decided to spend the few remaining years 
of his long life at Naples. 

As for the miserable Sauli and Petrucci, the former 
of whom is said to have shrieked at the very sight of 
the rack, both cardinals were before long induced to 
make a full confession of their aims, and indeed it was 
the admissions they had disclosed under stress of the 
most exquisite torture that had formed the gist of the 
charges subsequently brought against Riario, Adrian and 
Soderini. Sauli, as a Genoese citizen and therefore 
claimed as a subject by the French King, was able to 
secure the good offices of Francis I., as well as of the 
Pope's own brother-in-law Francesco Cybo, with the re- 
sult that he was finally pardoned and released from his 
pestilential dungeon in Rome to be kept under strict 

1 For an account of Adrian, or Adriano da Castello as he is some- 
times styled, the reader is referred to the article on this Cardinal in 
the Dictionary of National Biography, vol. i. 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 253 

surveillance at Mont Rotondo, where he expired after 
much suffering during the ensuing year, not without 
some suspicion of foul play. But Petrucci, that " Cupid 
of the Cardinals," the Medici's late playmate and favourite 
companion, seems to have possessed no friend powerful 
enough to intercede successfully on his behalf, and after 
some hesitation on Leo's part he was accordingly executed 
in his foul and gloomy cell by one Orlando, a Moham- 
medan hangman of the Roman court. Common report 
averred that Petrucci was strangled on the night of 6th 
July, but others declared that he was beheaded with a 
kerchief tied over his eyes, cursing his perfidious master 
to the last and angrily refusing to make his confession or 
to receive the sacraments, telling the scandalised priest 
in attendance that "if he were doomed to lose his life, 
he cared nothing what became of his soul V The corpse 
of the late Cardinal of San Teodoro, only twenty-two 
years of age, was secretly interred after nightfall outside 
the walls of the city, and though the cruel fate of this 
comely youth, "who was surely born beneath some star 
of malign influence," may excite our compassion, it must 
be borne in mind that his cold-blooded execution, how- 
ever harsh and ungenerous in Leo, succeeded in ridding 
the Sacred College of one of its most turbulent and dis- 
reputable members. But the horrible story of Petrucci's 
career and ending serves well also to illustrate for us the 
swift variations of Fortune in the days of the Italian Re- 
naissance, when in the briefest space of time a powerful 
nobleman or Churchman could be suddenly and without 
warning dashed down from a pinnacle of wealth and 
power into an abyss of infamy, such as can scarcely be 
conceived in our own days. But if the punishment 
meted out to a cardinal of loose morals be accounted 

1 Fabroni, Appendix L. 



254 THE MEDICI POPES 

bloodthirsty, what can be said concerning the awful 
barbarities perpetrated upon the more humble accessories 
to the crime Gian-Battista of Vercelli, Poco-in-testa 
and Petrucci's secretary who after endless stretchings 
upon the rack were dragged on hurdles through the 
filthy streets of Rome, torn to pieces with red-hot pincers 
and finally gibbeted whilst still breathing on the parapet 
of the bridge of Sant' Angelo ? 

Some modern writers have essayed to prove that no 
definite conspiracy ever existed on this occasion, and 
that the actions of Petrucci and his associates were con- 
fined solely to vague threats against the life or authority 
of Leo. Nevertheless, all contemporary historians seem 
to have believed in the actual existence of a deep-laid 
plot of a terrible and even of an unparalleled nature 
against the person of the Pontiff, whom the conspirators 
were anxious to replace by a master more congenial to 
their tastes and private ambitions. How many of the 
cardinals were privy to Petrucci's ''accursed madness" 
(scelerato furore), as Guicciardini styles it, it is impos- 
sible to conjecture, and of the five arrested it would be 
no easy task to apportion the exact amount of guilt ap- 
pertaining to each, though it would seem as if Riario and 
Adrian sympathised with rather than abetted the scheme 
of assassination. That Leo was truly alarmed and 
horrified there is no reason to deny, and even if his con- 
duct throughout be adjudged both harsh and treacherous, 
it is not unlikely that under the more severe Julius II., 
Sauli, Soderini, and perhaps Adrian would have shared 
the evil fate of the wretched ringleader, Petrucci. On 
the other hand, it is evident that the versatile Medici, 
perhaps at the advice of his cousin Giulio, contrived to 
turn to good account his late alarm at the discovery of 
the plot, which afforded him an excellent excuse for 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 255 

levying heavy fines wherewith to replenish the empty 
treasury out of the ill-gotten wealth of his greedy car- 
dinals, with whose pecuniary losses nobody was likely to 
sympathise ; and doubtless it was this reflection that in- 
duced Leo to extend an unexpected degree of mercy 
to the unhappy Riario. Nevertheless, regarded from 
any and every point of view, the Conspiracy of the Car- 
dinals forms one of the ugliest incidents in the whole 
course of the Italian Renaissance, leaving the most un- 
Dleasant impression of the appalling corruption of the 
Roman court and also of Leo's signal lack of that spirit 
of clemency and forgiveness which had once been 
reckoned his predominant virtue. 

Having crushed the revolt in the Sacred College by 
these prompt and drastic measures, Leo proceeded to 
make a merciless use of his late victory in deciding to 
create forthwith a batch of thirty-one cardinals : an un- 
precedented stroke of policy against which the surviving 
members of the College were now powerless to protest. 
Not only was such a step an event of the highest political 
importance at the moment, but it may also be said to 
bave destroyed for ever that supremacy which a handful 
of Italian cardinals, often consisting of the worst- 
principled members of the College, had usurped since 
the middle of the preceding century. For during the 
last four or five conclaves the election of a new Pope 
tiad rested practically in the hands of a small and by 
no means representative clique of Italian ecclesiastics, 
who had at least on one occasion openly offered the 
gravest dignity in all Christendom to the highest bidder ; 
and it is therefore to Leo X. that the definite and final 
overthrow of this corrupt and unedifying system is due, 
although he deserves perhaps little credit for his action, 
seeing that his immediate object in view was to subdue 



2 5 6 THE MEDICI POPES 

the Sacred College for his own ends rather than to 
purify it. Nor were mercenary motives for Leo's policy 
lacking, since it was no secret that the Pope was hard 
pressed to find not only the funds necessary to the up- 
keep of his luxurious court but likewise the money 
needed to prosecute the dragging campaign in Urbino. 
Very welcome in these financial straits were the fines 
lately levied from Riario and Sauli, yet the total amount 
thus raised did not prove adequate for the requirements 
of the moment, and in consequence several of these 
new-made Porporati were forced to contribute heavily 
to the papal treasury as the price of their recent honours. 
Yet it cannot be denied that Leo's choice of new 
members showed in many instances his sharp discern- 
ment of merit and his appreciation of learning and piety, ] 
since the lengthy list includes such names as those of 
the excellent Egidius of Viterbo, the historian and , 
principal of the Augustinians ; of Tommaso de Vio of 
Gaeta, head of the Dominican Order, commonly termed 
the Cardinal Cajetan and celebrated as the theological 
opponent of Martin Luther ; and the pious Adrian of 
Utrecht, the simple and austere preceptor of the Arch- 
duke Charles, who was to become Leo's own successor. 
Old kindness from the Lady Bianca Rangone of Modena 
was repaid by a hat bestowed on her son Ercole, whilst 
princes of the Royal Houses of France and Portugal 
received the highest dignity of the Church in the persons 
of Louis de Bourbon and of Alfonso, the infant son of 
King Manuel I. The ill-fated name of Petrucci was 
still commemorated in the College by the elevation of 
Raffaele Petrucci, the espousal of whose claims by Leo 
had been the original cause of the late conspiracy with 
its subsequent failure that had broken for ever the 
usurped power of the Cardinals, and at the same time 






CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 257 

had strengthened enormously the position of Leo and 
all his successors. Three Florentine relations Niccolo 
Ridolfi, Giovanni Salviati and Luigi Rossi were like- 
wise invested with the purple, and contrary to the best 
advice Leo advanced several Roman prelates, amongst 
them being that violent would-be patriot, Pompeo 
Colonna, whose bitter enmity towards the second 
Medicean Pontiff was destined ere long to prove so 
disastrous. Royal birth, learning, piety, wealth, claims 
of family, claims of gratitude all are represented in this 
list of cardinals, the largest creation in the annals of 
the Papacy. But although many types of men were 
selected, it is clear that the prevailing intention of the 
Pontiff and his cousin Giulio was to obtain a subservient 
College, upon whose attitude full reliance could be placed 
for furthering the cherished but secret policy of extend- 
ing the dominion of the Medici throughout Italy. Of 
this historic nomination of cardinals in the autumn of 
1517 an interesting memorial is still to be found in the 
great fresco executed by Vasari and his pupils in after 
years at the command of Cosimo I., the first Medicean 
Grand- Duke of Tuscany, Leo's distant kinsman in the 
male line, but his great-nephew on the distaff side, since 
Cosimo's mother had been a daughter of that Jacopo 
Salviati who had espoused Contessina de' Medici, the 
Pope's sister. This large painting, which appears above 
the mantel-piece of the ante-chamber of the Quartiere 
di Papa Leone X. in the civic palace of Florence, affords 
us portraits of almost all the personages who took part 
in this ceremony. Beneath an elaborate canopy up- 
held by twisted columns Leo X. is shown seated upon 
his throne in the act of investing the crowd of new- 
made cardinals, who pass before the papal chair in 
rapid succession. The older members of the College 
17 



258 THE MEDICI POPES 

appear sitting on benches with Giulio de' Medici and 
Bibbiena prominent in the fore-ground, whilst at the 
back of the scene the painter has introduced the figures 
of Michelangelo, Castiglione and other celebrated lay- 
men, who regard the solemn rite with a languid interest. 
This fine fresco exactly faces the large representation 
of Leo's state entry into Florence, to which we have 
already made allusion, and forms an admirable pendant j 
to it ; indeed, the whole of this spacious but rather 
gloomy apartment is decorated with scenes, real or 
allegorical, to illustrate the leading events in the career 
of Giovanni de' Medici, Pope Leo X. 

With this decisive victory over the Sacred College, 
Leo may be said to have attained the zenith of his 
fame and power, so that the road seemed clear of all 
obstacles in the way of that supreme mastery of Italy 
which constituted his hidden but undoubted aim, now 
that both Florence and Rome were safe in the hands of 
the Medici. The Council of the Lateran, so unwillingly 
convoked by the late Pope, had been already decently 
dismissed in the spring of 1517, so that there was little 
fear of inconvenient criticism in that quarter ; the sub- 
dued College of Cardinals was believed to be ready to 
abet his future policy ; his nephew, officially styled Duke 
of Urbino and created Captain- General of the Church, 
was shortly to be allied with a princess of the royal blood 
of France. In the early spring of the following year, 
1518, the haughty young Lorenzo set out with a train 
surpassing in luxury and splendour that of any reigning 
monarch, and made his way towards Paris in order to 
represent his uncle at the approaching " baptism of the 
Dauphin, as well as to celebrate his own nuptials with 
Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, cousin of the French 
King. " Now that the Duke of Urbino has been expelled 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 259 

from his dominions, a similar fate awaits His Majesty of 
Ferrara," writes a bitter German critic of Leo's ambitious 
schemes, perhaps the great Ulrich von Hutten himself. 
" When both these dukes are dispossessed of their realms, 
then we shall have to salute that Florentine merchant, 
Lorenzo Medici, as King of Tuscany ! . . . And since 
Fortune is variable and Leo may himself expire before 
his desires are fulfilled, and his successor may chase the 
papal nephew from his ill-gotten duchies, therefore 
Lorenzo must needs espouse some princess of France 
and purchase a principality in that land, in the event of 
his own expulsion from Italy in the future. Already the 
bargain has been struck, the documents have been at- 
tested, and the pledges on either side have been ex- 
changed. ' Long, aye, too long, have we remained mere 
apothecaries ' (medici), cry these upstarts, * now is our op- 
portunity to make ourselves kings and princes ' ! " * Such 
was the expression of opinion indulged in by German 
malcontents and reformers concerning the splendid em- 
bassy dispatched from Rome to the court of Francis, with 
the evident object of making the coming alliance of the 
heir of the Medici with the Princess Madeleine an im- 
posing affair in the eyes of the rulers of Europe, for it 
was intended to be a glorification, conceived in an os- 
tentatious and somewhat vulgar spirit, of the new-sprung 
sovereignty of the Florentine mercantile family which 
was now claiming to rank amongst royal Houses. 

Even the prodigal Francis of France was amazed 
and visibly impressed by the young Lorenzo's show of 
[State and by the costly nature of the Pope's gifts, which 
included thirty-six horses with attendants and fine 
harness, and also a gorgeous matrimonial bed for the 

1 Exhortatio viri cujusdem, etc., Roscoe, Appendix LXXIX., also 
[vol. ii., p. 244, note 12. 



2 6o THE MEDICI POPES 

betrothed pair constructed of tortoiseshell inlaid with 
mother-of-pearl and encrusted with numerous precious 
stones. 1 The Seigneur de Fleurange declared the 
jousts and banquets in Lorenzo's honour at the royal 
castle of Amboise to have been the most sumptuous 
ever held in France or even in all Christendom ; but he 
proceeds to pass some significant comments upon the 
bridegroom's state of health, which marked him out as 
wholly unfit for marriage, in consequence of which the 
French historian extends his pity to the innocent young 
bride, who in his sight was " trop plus belle que le marie ". 
But moral considerations weighed little or nothing in the 
selfish minds either of the King or Pope, each of whom 
had his private reasons for desiring the projected union, 
and thus this loveless political match was duly concluded 
amidst a succession of the usual bridal festivities. After 
a lengthy sojourn at the gay court of Francis, Lorenzo 
and his bride at last set their faces southward for Florence, 
where the duke, already in an advanced stage of his 
malady, took up his residence in the old palace in Via 
Larga. Haughty and self-centred, Lorenzo had ever 
been regarded with dislike or indifference by the Floren- 
tines, with the exception of the extreme partisans of his 
House, so that scant sympathy was shown for the dying 
prince or even for his youthful wife, who had also fallen 
into a pitiable state of ill-health. Restricting himself to 
the society of his secretary, Goro Gheri of Pistoja, and 
his boon companion and pander, Moro de' Nobili, the 
unpopular duke spent miserably the last months of a 
brief but wasted existence in the palace of his ancestors, 
which had once been tenanted by the wise Cosimo and 
the Magnificent Lorenzo. His increasing sickness made 
the duke either unable or unwilling to proceed to Rome, 

1 Fabroni, Appendix LXIX. 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 261 

where the greatest anxiety was felt with regard to the 
expected heir of the House of Medici, and bitter was the 
chagrin of the disappointed Pontiff, when on 1 3th April, 
1519, the news was brought him that the Duchess of 
Urbino had been delivered of a daughter. Any further 
hope of a male heir to all the newly acquired glories of 
the Medici was shattered a fortnight later, when in- 
formation was sent of the death of the unhappy Made- 
leine, who was herself followed to the grave on 6th May 
by her wretched husband, a perfect wreck of manhood, 
although only in his twenty-seventh year. 

This stream of catastrophes spread perfect consterna- 
tion within the Vatican, and moreover certainly caused 
the death of that intriguing woman, Alfonsina de' Medici, 
Lorenzo's mother, whose restless ambition had so often 
goaded on her husband, her son, and even her brother- 
in-law to acts of folly or aggression in the past. With 
the tidings of the fatal illness of the last legitimate male 
of the Medicean House (save the Pontiff himself), the 
Cardinal Giulio, now become more than ever a personage 
of importance in his family, had been hastily despatched 
to Florence, but though he arrived there before the duke's 
actual decease, he does not seem to have visited the 
dying prince, who had invariably treated the base-born 
Churchman with disdain. But on news of Lorenzo's 
death Giulio took prompt measures to ensure order 
throughout the city, and so judicious and conciliatory did 
he show himself, that public confidence was quickly re- 
stored. The Cardinal took a prominent part likewise 
in the obsequies of his late cousin, who was interred 
within the basilica of San Lorenzo, with all the dismal 
pomp but without any of the genuine regret that three 
years before had accompanied his uncle Giuliano the 
Good to the tomb. Arrogant and rough-mannered, 



262 THE MEDICI POPES 

ambitious and dissipated, Lorenzo II. was truly exhibited 
as the heir of his father Piero il Pazzo, and if we may 
draw a fair inference from the character of himself and 
of his only daughter, it appears no small fortune for 
Florence and Italy that Lorenzo's legitimate offspring 
was limited to the baby-girl, who was one day to become 
famous or infamous as Caterina de' Medici, Queen of 
France. 

Not only did the Cardinal Giulio attend his relative 
to the grave, but it was he who in after years caused 
Michelangelo to erect that pair of splendid monuments, 1 
the wonder and delight of succeeding ages, which mark 
the last resting places of Giuliano the Good and his un- 
worthy nephew amidst the chill magnificence of that 
echoing mausoleum, the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo. 
With his form clad in a warrior's tunic and with head 
covered by the plumed helmet sits eternally gazing into 
space the worthless Medici, who was chosen to be the 
ideal prince of Machiavelli's day-dreams. The statue's 
air of perfect repose and of calm meditation has won the 
epithet of // Pensieroso for the artist's work, which offers 
the strongest contrast with his feeble representation of 
the charming and more virtuous Giuliano, whose pose 
appears as stilted and affected as any despised produc- 
tion of the school of Bernini. But it is impossible for 
the beholder to resist the dread fascination of that 
mysterious half-hidden countenance of the Duke 
Lorenzo, whose earthly existence has been thus im- 
mortalised by the chisel of Michelangelo, by the brush 
of the divine Raphael, and by the pen of Machiavelli, 
albeit the sole grandson of the Magnificent Lorenzo was 
undoubtedly the least worthy of remembrance of all 
the Medici. Yet it is obvious that Michelangelo's famous 

1 See chapter xii. 




STATUE OF LORENZO DE' MEDICI, DUKE OF URBINO 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 



263 



statue does not present us with the human portraiture 
of the dissolute Lorenzo, the Medicean Duke of Urbino ; 
on the contrary, with its noble air of meditation and its 
majestic mien, it perpetuates the master's conception of 
that ideal prince, whom Italy in her hour of sore need 
and peril so urgently demanded, that perfect tyrant 
whom the House of Medici, despite all its reputation for 
genius and patriotism, signally failed to produce. Not 
only is that severe and cheerless Sacristy of San Lorenzo 
a mortuary-chapel of departed Medici, it is also the 
charnel-house of those high hopes of a free and united 
Italy, which once centred round the living members of 
the great Florentine House. 

There from age to age, 
Two ghosts are sitting on their sepulchres. 
That is the Duke Lorenzo. Mark him well. 
He meditates, his head upon his hand. 
What from beneath his helm-like bonnet scowls ? 
Is it a face, or but an eyeless skull ? 
'Tis not in shade, yet like the basilisk 
It fascinates and is intolerable. 
His mien is noble, most majestical. 1 

Cardinal Giulio de' Medici passed the whole of the 
summer of 1519 in Florence, busily engaged in making 
arrangements for the better government of the city, and 
even inviting its leading citizens, and amongst them 
Niccolo Machiavelli, who was ever striving to win the 
favour of "these Medicean lords," to draw up sugges- 
tions for his own guidance. Such marked ability did 
Giulio display with regard to Florentine affairs, and so 
tactful was his exercise of power during this and the 
following three years, that Roscoe has not hesitated to 
call them "the most brilliant period of his life". Mean- 
while the future fate of Florence was left hanging in the 

1 S. Rogers, Italy. 



264 THE MEDICI POPES 

balance, for the Pontiff's intentions towards his native 
city were quite unknown to his intimate counsellors, 
and were probably as yet unfixed in his own mind. 
For at one moment he would hint in all sincerity at a 
coming restoration of political freedom, seeing that the 
legitimate descendants of Cosimo, "the Father of his 
Country," were all extinguished save himself, whilst at 
other times it appeared evident that Leo was inclined 
to keep a firm hand upon the city which he had re- 
covered with such pains a few years before. But whilst 
Florence was thus enjoying a spell of rest and prosperity 
under the supervision of the Cardinal Giulio, it was 
finally decided that the Duchy of Urbino, which it had 
cost so much treasure to seize and still more to retain, 
should be forcibly annexed to the States of the Church, 
although Lorenzo's infant girl was officially styled 
Duchess of Urbino. The cost of this disastrous enter- 
prise, amounting to the enormous sum of 800,000 ducats, 
Leo decided to debit in part to the reluctant Florentines, 
who in return for their enforced payment were compen- 
sated with the conquered district of Montefeltre and the 
great rock-fortress of San Leo. 1 In October of this 
same year Giulio, leaving Florentine administration in 
the hands of Cardinal Passerini of Cortona, returned to 
Rome, taking in his train the little " Duchessina," Caterina 
de' Medici. On her first appearance at the Vatican the 
poor orphan girl was received in full state by the Pontiff, 
who must have regarded this frail atom of humanity, 
the offspring of diseased parents, with any but pleasur- 
able feelings. Yet such was the versatility of Leo's 
mind that he could contrive to turn even so tragical and 

1 A vigorous fresco by Vasari, commemorating the capture of 
San Leo, is included in the series of pictures in the Ante-chamber of 
the Quartiere di Papa Leone X. 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 265 

piteous an incident into an erudite jest ; Secum fert 
aerumnas Danaum ! she brings all the catastrophes of 
Hellas with her presence! observed the Pope with an 
apt quotation out of his beloved classics, and the words 
thus idly spoken proved certainly prophetic with regard 
to the country over which the little Catherine was 
eventually fated to rule. Perhaps the Pontiffs deep- 
lying chagrin might have been somewhat assuaged 
could he but have foreseen that the despised baby-girl 
before him, his great-niece, only five months of age, was 
to become a future Queen of France and the mother of 
three sovereigns and a Queen of Spain. But at this 
moment there was little indeed to cheer the mind of the 
Pope, who now found himself forced by a perverse fate 
to abandon all his cherished schemes of family ag- 
grandisement, when his own burgher line was thus 
reduced to himself and the frail Duchessina. Quest a 
e troppo gran casa per si poca famiglia / so vast a 
mansion for so small a number ! had once sighed long 
ago the Pontiffs great-grandfather, the wise Cosimo of 
pious memory, as he wandered disconsolate after the 
loss of a favourite son through the halls of the palace in 
Via Larga ; here was a repetition of Cosimo's sentiment 
in far more serious circumstances, when all the acquired 
power and splendour of the aspiring Medici were found 
concentrated in a priest and a sickly baby-girl. There 
was the Cardinal Giulio, it is true, the natural cousin 
whom he had legitimised, his most attentive counsellor 
and adherent ; and there can be little doubt that from 
Lorenzo's death onward, the influence of the Cardinal 
gained a complete ascendancy over the forlorn Pontiff, 
whose foreign policy began to reflect more and more the 
private aims of that subtle and secretive Churchman. 
In addition to Giulio, there were the two younger 



266 THE MEDICI POPES 

bastards, Giuliano's handsome and engaging little son 
Ippolito, who was a favourite with the Pope, and that 
swarthy and singularly unattractive child, Alessandro de' 
Medici, whose real parentage remains a subject of 
speculation, though in all likelihood he was the natural 
son of the Cardinal Giulio himself rather than of his 
reputed sire, the late Duke Lorenzo. Without a legiti- 
mate male heir save his distant kinsmen of the junior 
branch of the family, of whom he took little notice and 
was in fact believed to be jealous, Leo's original and 
absorbing desire of founding a Medicean empire in Italy 
was necessarily brought to an end, so that he began to 
tire of the tedious routine of public business and hence- 
forth to pursue his various amusements, particularly that 
of the chase, with an ever-increasing ardour during the 
few remaining years of his life. The conduct of foreign 
policy therefore devolved largely upon the energetic 
Cardinal, who, if he lacked Leo's natural talents, owned 
far greater powers of application to business, so that he 
now became the true exponent of Medicean statecraft 
amidst the far-reaching changes impending in Europe. 
For in the opening days of the year 1519 there had ex- 
pired the old Emperor Maximilian, for whose end all 
Europe had long been waiting with mingled feelings of 
alarm and hope, whilst on 28th June of the same year, 
in spite of strong opposition from the courts of Rome 
and Paris, the youthful Charles, King of Spain and 
Naples, was duly elected emperor with the title of Charles 
V., and thus from the very extent and resources of his 
vast realms was able to supplant the indignant Francis 
of France as the leader of Europe and the natural 
arbiter of her fortunes. For nearly two years Leo and 
the Cardinal de' Medici continued to play at their 
favourite game of political vacillation between the two 



CONSPIRACY OF THE CARDINALS 



267 



rival powers, but on 29th May, 1521, a definite treaty 
of alliance between Pope and Emperor was signed to 
the infinite alarm of the French King. Besides the 
fear of the Imperial displeasure, Charles' promise to 
restore to the Holy See the towns of Parma and 
Piacenza, the deprivation of which by Francis had never 
ceased to rankle in the Pontiffs mind, undoubtedly 
operated to impel Leo to this compact. For although 
the hope of founding a Medicean kingdom in Italy had 
perished eternally for lack of heirs, yet Leo was easily 
able to fall back on the former ecclesiastical policy of 
Julius II., which aimed at extending the papal boundaries 
and at driving the intruding foreigner out of Italy. To 
keep Urbino and Modena for the Holy See and to 
regain the lost cities of Parma and Piacenza for the 
Papacy became now the main object of the Medici's 
policy, which belongs rather to European than to Italian 
history. 

Early in the summer of the same year the long- 
threatened war between King and Emperor broke out in 
Lombardy, that favourite theatre of all military opera- 
tions. Owing to the poor tactics of the French com- 
mander, the Seigneur de Lautrec, the Imperial army, 
supported by the papal forces, was able to form a 
[junction with the Swiss mercenaries, and to proceed 
[without further difficulty towards Milan. That city 
| quickly surrendered to the vast army led by the 
Marquis of Pescara, the husband of the celebrated 
j Vittoria Colonna, and ere long Parma and Piacenza were 
also in the hands of the conquerors of Milan. 



CHAPTER XI 

DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 

What grieves me most is to hear that your bed is constantly sur- 
rounded by physicians, who never agree in any opinion, because it 
would be accounted derogatory to the dignity of the second to think 
like the first and repeat his views of the case. It is certain, as Pliny 
observes, that wishing to make a name by their discoveries they try 
all manner of experiments upon us and sport with our lives. Physi- 
cians acquire their art at our expense, by killing us they learn means 
of cure, and they are the only persons permitted to slay with im- 
punity. Holy Father ! regard as a troop of foes all that crowd of 
doctors which surrounds thee. Think of the Emperor Hadrian's 
epitaph Turbo, medicorum peril ! (I died of a multitude of doctors !) 
(Letter of Petrarch to Pope Clement IF.). 

THE news of the fall of Milan and the subsequent '! 
recovery of Parma and Piacenza by the Church 
was sent to Rome with all possible speed by 
the Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, who was with the Im- 
perial forces in person, the glad tidings reaching the 
Pope about sunset of Friday, 22nd November, 1521, at 
his villa of the Magliana. Leo had just returned from 
the chase, somewhat tired and heated, but on reading 
the Cardinal's welcome despatch, he hastily summoned 
the papal master of ceremonies to his presence in order 
to confer with him as to the propriety of having public 
rejoicings in the city. To the Pontiff's eager inquiry, 
that wary personage made reply that it was not custom- 
ary for the Holy See thus to celebrate the result of any 
battle waged between two Christian monarchs, unless 
the Church had some special interest at stake, but of 

268 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 269 

such a case the Pontiff himself, as head of the Church, 
would naturally be the best judge. Leo, amused by this 
ingenious piece of sophistry, at once answered that he 
had every reason to rejoice, whereupon Paris de Grassis 
declared it his manifest duty to return openly thanks 
to the Almighty for the late benefits obtained. The 
Pope accordingly commanded his master of the cere- 
monies to summon a full consistory of the cardinals for 
the ensuing Wednesday, and " having said this he retired 
to his chamber, where he remained resting for some 
hours, after which he was reported later to complain of 
feeling unwell. And indeed on the following Wednesday 
no consistory could be held. " Such is the bald state- 
ment that Paris de Grassis has presented to us con- 
cerning Leo's brief but fatal illness, the first symptoms 
of which undoubtedly appeared on the very evening that 
brought him the good news of the victory of the Imperial 
army and of the desired restoration of Parma and 
Piacenza to the Church, an event on which he had set 
his heart to an exorbitant degree. 

According to common belief the mental excitement 
induced by this welcome but sudden intelligence, acting 
upon an unwieldy frame already weakened by chronic 
disease, was the direct cause of Leo's premature death, 
a few days before attaining his forty-sixth birthday. 
Over-heated, fatigued and agitated by the recent news, 
the Pope was seized with a violent chill, when after a 
close damp day a bitter north wind arose at sunset, 
sweeping over the Roman Campagna and blowing with 
icy breath into the courtyard of the villa, where the 
papal servants were already lighting a huge bonfire in 
honour of the victory. Leaning from his casement in 
the teeth of the blast to applaud the efforts of his men- 

1 Roscoe, Appendix CII. 



2 70 THE MEDICI POPES 

at-arms in the courtyard, Leo certainly contracted the 
feverish catarrh, which compelled him two days after- 
wards to return to the Vatican, but which the doctors of 
the court declared to be of no great consequence, although 
he was far too unwell to attend the consistory fixed for the 
following Wednesday. As we have had many occasions 
to remark, it was a superstitious age, that drew strong 
inferences from trivial chances or portents, so that, when 
Leo on returning to the Vatican found in his own apartment 
a large model of the beautiful tomb which Torrigiano, 
the Tuscan sculptor, had been commissioned to erect in 
Westminster Abbey for the late King Henry VII. of 
England, he became not a little distressed in mind at so 
ominous a coincidence. 1 Indeed, the sight of Torrigiano's 
model seems to have inflicted a nervous shock upon the 
ailing Pontiff, who gradually grew worse until "on 
Sunday, the first day of the month of December, at 
about the seventh hour, Pope Leo X. expired of a 
violent chill without anyone warning him that his sick- 
ness was mortal, since the physicians all protested he was 
but slightly indisposed owing to the cold he had taken 
at the Magliana". 

Various highly contradictory accounts have been 
transmitted to us of the Medici's last moments. One 
of these relates how Leo expired in an agony of remorse 
for his unhappy countrymen butchered nine years before 
by the cruel Spanish soldiery at Prato, and how his 
dying ears were filled with their piteous groans, whilst 
the Pope in his terror shrieked aloud " Pratum me 
terret!" Another description is from the pen of Fra 
Piacentino, a canon of the Lateran, who moralises at 
some length upon Leo's miserable and lonely end, with 
nobody beside him save Fra Mariano Fetti, the arch- 
1 Jovius, lib. iv. 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 271 

jester, who remained with his dying master to the last, 
"as a straw clings to an empty sack". " Think upon 
God, Holy Father ! " the Cowled Buffoon is stated to 
have cried on this sad occasion, to which exhortation 
the poor Pope could only make reply by calling aloud 
thrice on the Almighty : " Dio buono ! Dio buono ! Dio 
buono ! " Jovius, on the other hand, who is a far better 
authority, attributes a more dignified as well as more 
probable termination to the career of the great Pontiff. 
" Scarcely," relates the learned Bishop of Nocera, u had 
Leo recognised the fatal character of his malady and the 
rapid approach of his last moment upon earth, than he 
lost all consciousness and was hurriedly taken from this 
world. Nevertheless, some few hours before his decease, 
he clasped his hands and raised them to Heaven in all 
humility, whilst with upturned eyes he gave thanks to 
God, openly professing that he could meet the stroke of 
death with calmness, now that he had seen Parma and 
Piacenza restored to the Church without any spilling of 
blood, and also the defeat of the Church's haughty foe, 
the King of France." : 

It is difficult to extract the true story of Leo's last 
| hours from statements so varied, but all accounts agree 
I in the circumstance that the final stage of the Pope's 
j illness was terribly swift and that a fatal ending was 
i quite unexpected both at the Roman court and in the 
1 city. That Leo really died unattended save by Fra 
i Mariano appears most improbable ; seeing that the 
i foreign ambassadors were constantly making inquiry 
I and that the Pope's own sister, Lucrezia Salviati (whom 
I the Venetian envoy accuses of laying hands on every 
: object in the Vatican at her brother's death sgombrb il 
' palazzo di tutto] was actually residing in Rome at the 

^Roscoe, vol. ii., p. 467, note 32. 2 Jovius, lib. iv. 



272 THE MEDICI POPES 

time. Nor has the well-known story, that Leo expired 
without receiving the last sacraments, ever been proved, 
though it is not impossible that his fearfully sudden end 
may have allowed no time for the due performance of 
the last rites of the Church. Nevertheless, a rumour to 
this effect afforded an opportunity to some malicious wit, 
said on doubtful authority to be no less a person than 
the poet Sannazzaro, to insult the memory of the dead 
Pontiff by the composition of a scandalous distich : 

Sacra sub extrema si forte requiritis hora 
Cur Leo non potuit sumere ; Vendiderat ! l 

" Thou didst creep into our midst like a fox ; thou 
didst live amongst us like a lion ; and thou hast died 
like a dog " 2 a repetition of the cruel epigram composed 
two centuries before on the death of Boniface VIII. 
was another of the satirical lampoons published in Rome 
concerning the deceased Pontiff, who only a few hours 
previously had been the object of universal flattery. 
Yet the sound of these chance notes of discord was lost 
in the general chorus of praise and wailing which super- 
vened on the news of Leo's demise in so sudden a 
manner and at so early an age, for the poets and scholars 
of Rome and Florence, whom the Pope had entertained 
so lavishly during his reign, were vying with each other 
in the preparation of elegies and laments for the passing 
of an ideal patron, whose equal both in learning and in 
liberality they were never likely to look upon again. 
Extravagant as it may appear, the epitaph placed on 
the Medici's temporary tomb in St. Peter's echoed 

1 Without the Church's sacraments Pope Leo died, I'm told; 
How could he e'er receive again what he himself had sold ? 

Fabroni, p. 238. 

2 Apud nos intravit ut vulpis ; vixit ut leo ; exiit ut canis. 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 273 

aithfully the heartfelt grief of the members of that papal 
p arnassus, which Leo had called into existence : 

Deliciae human! generis, Leo Maxime, tecum 
Ut simul illuxere, interiere simul. 1 

Scarcely had Leo breathed his last and the court and 
ity of Rome were filled with utter consternation, than 

physicians, with the Paduan, Bernardino Speroni, 
t their head, began to dilate upon the suspicious nature 
f the late Pope's illness and death. The cardinals at 

earnest request of the doctors accordingly ordered 
n autopsy of the body to be made, with the inevitable 
esult that these ignorant physicians at once began to 
rate of symptoms of poisoning, that universal bugbear 
f an age wherein the science of medicine had sunk to 
ts lowest depth. Many persons, from the King of France 
nd the Duke of Urbino to the meanest scullions of the 
alace, were suggested as likely individuals to have com- 
assed or carried out a fell deed, for which in reality 
lere was not a tittle of evidence forthcoming. Indeed, 
o's death constituted a typical case in which the utter 
ailure of the medical men to cure a malarial fever com- 
licated by long-standing disease, and the spirit of the 
ge which promptly sought for a criminal motive in the 
udden demise of any personage of note, combined to- 
ether in attributing so unexpected an event to the 
gency of poison. Bernarb6 Malespina, the papal cup- 
earer, was now apprehended at the request of these in- 
ompetent doctors, and cast into Sant' Angelo, whence 
le unfortunate and innocent man was only liberated by 
le order of Cardinal de' Medici, who with more common- 
ense than the physicians, promptly released Malespina 

1 Great Leo, all the joys of life that be 
Go mourning to thy tomb and die with Thee ! 

Fabroni, p. 239. 
18 



2 74 THE MEDICI POPES 

on hearing the absurd details of the charge. Even the 
faithful Serapica, who had everything to lose and nothing 
to gain by being deprived of a generous master, was 
regarded with some degree of suspicion, and the poor 
little man's decent melancholy after Leo's death was 
with true Italian reasoning set down to the deepest 
cunning to conceal his supposed crime. Possibly but for 
the mistaken handling of the medicos, Leo, though in 
delicate health, might have recovered by means of 
ordinary measures and by a strict avoidance of the ab- 
surd and dangerous drugs supplied to him by Speroni 
and his colleagues. But, like all the males of his family, 
Leo did not possess the robust constitution that the time 
required; "his head," remarks Vettori, "was always 
choked with catarrh and his appetite was so capricious 
that he would hardly touch food one day and on the 
next would eat to repletion ". l A quiet and regular mode 
of living might certainly have saved the Pope on this 
occasion, and have preserved his life for many years to 
come. For in spite of the opinions of several contem- 
poraries, who honestly believed in the fantastic theories 
of the doctors, it seems fairly obvious that Leo X. ex- 
pired as the victim of medical incompetence rather than 
of a crime for political ends, as the Venetian envoy, the 
personal friend of Speroni, at once hinted to his govern- 
ment. 

The Pope's corpse, after having been cut up and 
dissected to satisfy the curiosity of the physicians, was 
buried in St. Peter's with great haste and with small 
pomp, for the papal treasury was well-nigh empty, and 
the Florentine bankers in Rome, who saw ruin staring 
them in the face owing to Leo's untimely death, were 
naturally in no humour to advance large sums of money 

1 Villari, vol. ii., p. 254. 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 



275 



>on a costly funeral worthy of the Papal Maecenas. 

iany years, in fact, elapsed before a monument was 

iared to recall the memory of Leo X., and his existing 

>mb in the choir of the great Dominican church of 

|anta Maria sopra Minerva no inappropriate temple to 

ishrine the recollection of the brief reign of the Goddess 

Learning in Rome is due to the generosity of the 

[ope's nephew, Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, who 

lerished many instances of Leo's kindness to him in 

lildhood. Antonio da Sangallo is credited with the 

isign, and Baccio Bandinelli with the execution of this 

lediocre specimen of Renaissance art, which is wholly 

tfit to serve as the depository of the ashes of Giovanni 

Medici, Pope Leo X., or to rank as "a monu- 
tent of the Golden Age of Italy, which is for ever as- 
>ciated with the names of Leo and the Medici, just as 

age of Horace was linked with those of Maecenas 
id Augustus ". 1 In short, this erection of a later period 
>viously belongs to that type of mausoleum which 
[rives to be imposing through mere size and pathetic 
means of expense. The large white marble statue 
the Pontiff, with the left hand grasping the keys of 

Peter and with the right elevated in an eternal but 
[nguid benediction, stands out clear against the back- 
ound of dark basalt, but has a singularly heavy and 
feless aspect. Nor can the allegorical figures and bas- 
iliefs upon the monument itself claim to be considered 
lorks of art. Opposite to Leo's tomb, and identical 
jith it in treatment and design, stands that of the second 
iedicean Pope, Clement VII., whose handsome bearded 
:e and more graceful figure appear to better advan- 
[ge than the clumsy and undignified form of his happier 
edecessor. Thus in the choir of the famous church " are 

1 F. Gregorovius, Tombs of the Popes, p. 98. 



276 THE MEDICI POPES 

Fortune and Misfortune represented in the tombs of two 
kinsmen of a celebrated family ; the two reverses of the 
coin of life ". l Both monuments in their heavy classical 
setting combine ill with the Gothic architecture and the 
gaudy painted windows of the Dominican church, and 
comparatively few persons take the trouble to penetrate 
behind the choir screen to inspect these rather feeble 
productions of Florentine sculptors. At the foot of 
Leo's tomb a marble slab in the pavement proclaims to 
the passing stranger that the cultured and erudite Pietro 
Bembo, friend and secretary of the Papal Maecenas, 
reposes at the feet of the master whom he survived for 
nearly a quarter of a century. By a curious chance, at 
the rear of Leo's ponderous monument, in the northern 
ambulatory of the choir, is to be seen a simple effigy, 
which is far better known and revered than the monstre 
tombs of the Medicean Pontiffs, for it is nothing less than 
the carved slab which denotes the last resting-place of 
the gentle monk Giovanni of Fiesole, known to all the 
world as the saintly painter, Fra Angelico. It would be 
impossible to find a sharper contrast than that afforded by 
the two figures of that jovial child of Fortune, the first 
Medicean Pope, and his humble countryman, the simple 
monk from aery Fiesole, whose emaciated form, worn 
with prayer and fasting, meets our eyes with arms 
meekly folded across the breast and with the beautiful 
head reposing on its stony tasselled pillow. Yet that 
Italy could produce two such diverse types of Church- 
men in the years of the Renaissance is not the least of 
the many marvels of that incongruous age. Thus Leo 
X. stands for the power, the splendour, the paganism, 
the patronage, the learning and the intense worldliness 
of that period ; the gifted Dominican monk for the ex- 

1 F. Gregorovius, Tombs of the Popes. 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 277 

erne simplicity and piety that found their vent in the 
ainting of sacred masterpieces, such as all succeeding 
ges have failed lamentably to rival in their naive but 
xquisite loveliness. 

Non mihi sit laudi quod eram velut alter Apelles, 
Sed quod lucra tuis omnia, Christe, dabam 1 

uch are the opening lines of the Latin epitaph of the 
oly Tuscan painter, who rejected the gauds and lucre 
f this life, and worked solely for the glory of God, 
Vhose reward, he well knew, far surpassed all that the 
ulers of earth could bestow. On the other hand, we 
ehold one in whom all the pleasures and duties of life 
like were centred ; one who allowed the spiritual ideals 
f the monk of Fiesole to be utterly eclipsed by the con- 
ending forces of flattery and worldly power. Verily, 
X. and Fra Angelico have obtained a portion of 
leir due reward in the verdict of succeeding genera- 
ons. 

It ought to be unnecessary to remind the reader that 
character and career of Giovanni de' Medici, Pope 
X., ought in all fairness to be judged by a contempor- 
ry and not by a modern standard of ethics and ideas. 
Jke his father before him, Leo was essentially a 
"lorentine of the Renaissance, endowed with all the 
astes, virtues and failings of the great citizens of Flor- 
nce during that epoch. 

" In everything," remarks Herr Ludwig Pastor, 
latest German biographer, "he was truly a son of 
is time, wherein the good and the bad were so closely 
ntermingled. His whole nature reveals an extra- 

1 Apelles, fame was mine ; 'twas nought to me 
Save that, O Christ, I gave all gain to Thee ! 



278 THE MEDICI POPES 

ordinary mixture of praiseworthy and un-praiseworthy 
qualities ; that nature, light, gay and many-sided, which 
only too willingly cast aside all that was serious, deep 
and original. Shining in all branches of the intellectual 
movement of the Renaissance, he is particularly eminent 
in this, namely, that he draws to himself men of the 
most opposite character and of diverse nationality." 3 

His many political shifts, which were the despair of 
contemporary sovereigns and excite the indignant surprise 
of modern critics, were, however, by no means censured 
severely in his own age ; indeed, men found more to 
admire than to reprobate in Leo's selfish and tortuous 
policy. In any case, some excuse for this is to be 
sought in the difficult position in which he was placed on 
the papal throne, midway between the rival powers of 
the Spanish- Austrian Empire on one side and of France 
on the other. As the weakest member of the triumvirate 
of Spain, France and the Papacy, Leo always tried 
to make up in cunning what he lacked in real support. 
And, moreover, taught from his infancy at his father's 
court to be both secretive and self-seeking, he had not 
been improved by the long years of poverty and en- 
forced exile, during which he had been compelled to 
hide even his natural ambition of a Medicean restoration 
in Florence. From an excess of caution in these days 
of penury and insignificance, he had grown gradually so 
steeped in the arts of dissimulation, that on attaining to 
real and settled power, he found himself quite unable 
to follow any straight path or to commit himself to any 
fixed and open aim, like the more candid Julius II. 
In short, duplicity became a second nature to him. 
" Never," remarked the legate Aleander in after years, 
" have I met with a man so secretive and averse to 
1 Leo X., chap. x. 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 279 

lursuing a definite policy." Nevertheless, we must 
ive Leo credit for a genuine if vague desire to obtain 
le expulsion of the French and Spanish invaders out of 
talian territory. Such a noble and patriotic aspiration 
nay have been subsidiary to ignoble and private aims, 
et it undoubtedly occupied the Pope's mind, even if, 
the unkind phrases of an English critic, "it divided his 
ttention with manuscripts and sauces, painters and 
alcons ". l But the grand conception, though hidden to 
many observers, was certainly existent, and was per- 
ceptible to the sharp eyes of Machiavelli. "It was this 
great though mutable ambition of Leo's that continually 
deceived Machiavelli," writes Professor Villari. "It was 
thus that the Florentine secretary had been inspired to 
compose his Prince, and had despatched so many letters 
to Vettori and others in order to feed the flame. But 
whenever seeming to burn most brightly, the fire always 
expired on a sudden without leaving a spark behind." 2 
Of Leo's personal character, we trust a correct idea 
has been formed from the preceding pages of this work. 
That he ascended the papal throne with the highest 
reputation for culture, virtue and peaceful inclinations, 
we have already shown ; and we have also endeavoured 
to explain how this early esteem was lost, both in the 
eyes of his own generation as well as of posterity, through 
the Pope's constant frivolity and selfish ambition. It is 
possible that to a certain extent the Medici's nature was 
transformed for the worse by the new-found power, the 
wealth and the adulation, which came to him as Pope 
after many years spent in adversity ; but it seems hard to 
imagine, if he were in reality so good as he was reputed, 
that his elevation to the pontificate proved the utter ruin 

1 Macaulay, Essay on Machiavelli. 

2 Villari, vol. ii., pp. 253, 254. 



2 8o THE MEDICI POPES 

of his morals, and that he grew vicious instead of more 
virtuous. Without speculating further as to this point, 
it will be sufficient to quote Guicciardini's moderate 
appreciation of Leo X. as " a prince, who greatly deceived 
the high expectations entertained of him, when he was 
raised to the Papacy, since he therein displayed more 
cunning and less goodness than the world had imagined 
of him. . . . Yet he passed for a good prince, though I 
dare not say of an Apostolic goodness, seeing that in 
our corrupt times the virtue of a Pontiff is commended, 
when he does not surpass the wickedness of other 



men." 1 



Grave charges of immorality have been levelled at 
Leo certainly, but only by those who lived in later ages 
and were highly prejudiced, and such persons seem to 
have based their attacks mostly on a somewhat obscure 
passage in the Fourth Book of Jovius' Life of Leo X. 
These scandalous whispers may promptly be rejected, 
since there is to be found no definite charge in any con- 
temporary writer of personal impropriety on the Pope's 
part, in whatever degree he may be held answerable 
for the evil morals prevailing at his court, or for the 
vicious tone in the society of Rome during his pontificate. 

Even more serious, but likewise more improbable, 
than this vague accusation of gross conduct is that of 
blasphemous infidelity, still occasionally to be encountered 
in old-fashioned works of a markedly Protestant tendency, 
for it is true that "the most fruitful cause of animosity 
against Leo X. is to be found in the violence of religious 
zeal and sectarian hatred". 2 It is easy to comprehend 
how such a charge came at a later date to be levelled 
at the Papal Maecenas, the "pagan " Pope, who delighted 

1 Storie tf Italia, lib. xi. 

2 Roscoe, vol. ii., p. 475. 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 281 

the art and language of antiquity, but it ought to be 
iperfluous to describe this insinuation as a base calumny, 
'or it is founded mainly on a famous and oft-quoted, but 
tipudently mendacious statement contained in a scurrilous 
eatise called the Pageant of Popes by John Bale, 1 who 
lerein openly professed it his intention "to give the 
oman Church double according to her works ". This 
act, which bristles throughout with historical in- 
:curacies, contains the following outrageous anecdote 
>ncerning Leo X. : " On a time when cardinal B embus 
d move a question out of the gospell, the pope gave 
m a very contemptuous answere, saying, All ages 
'n testify enough how profitable that fable of Christe 
ith bin to us and our companie" ? It stands to reason 
at this remark is a spiteful and monstrous invention 

a rabid or unscrupulous Reformer, and the same com- 
ent may reasonably be applied to a somewhat similar 
le ; namely, that Leo's secretary, the aforesaid Bembo, 
*ictly enjoined his colleague Sadoleto to refrain from 
jdying the Vulgate, lest its indifferent Latin might 
oil his elegant and graceful style of writing. On the 
ntrary, there exists much evidence to prove that Leo 
is personally most conscientious in his public religious 
ties. No contemporary writer has given the smallest 
ht as to the Pope's unbelief, open or concealed, nor 
,s modern research in the archives of the various 
ilian cities revealed the slightest ground for such an 
sinuation. From his childhood the Pontiff had been 
pressly educated with a view to his attaining to the 

1 John Bale, formerly a Carmelite monk at Norwich and later a 
unch upholder of the Reformed religion, was appointed Bishop of 
sory in 1552. On Mary's accession he had to fly to the Continent, 

returned to England in 1559, dying at Canterbury in 1563. 

2 " Quantum nobis nostrisque ea de Christo fabula profuerit, satis 
omnibus saeculis notum " (Roscoe, vol. ii., p. 490, note 30). 



282 THE MEDICI POPES 

highest rank in the Church "together with his nurse's 
milk," writes Politian with genuine enthusiasm, "did he 
suck in piety and religion, preparing himself even from 
his cradle for the holy offices". Even if Leo's notorious 
frivolity and love of amusement may afford some ground 
for the allegation of vicious habits, Bale's absurd charge 
of atheism can be accounted scandalous only in its original 
inventor. 

It is certain, that at least outwardly, Leo was always 
most diligent in his ecclesiastical duties and orthodox in 
his expressed opinions, exhibiting to the world thereby 
an edifying contrast with the unseemly behaviour of 
Julius II., who was habitually careless of all ceremonial, 
openly showing his impatience thereof both in manner 
and countenance. Leo, on the other hand, took a 
dignified part in endless services, and Paris de Grassis 
describes how during the protracted ceremonies in hot 
weather he used to observe the exhausted Pope wiping 
the perspiration with a kerchief from his streaming face. 
Daily Leo was wont to hear Mass in the beautiful oratory 
of Nicholas V. with its series of exquisite frescoes from 
the brush of the holy Fra Angelico. He kept rigorously 
the days of fasting ordained by the Church ; invariably 
he went to confession before celebrating Mass in public. 
He took a deep interest in the training of the Sistine 
choir, lecturing the papal choristers not only on the 
subject of music but also on their moral behaviour out 
of service hours. "His religious duties he fulfils con- 
scientiously," comments the Venetian envoy, "but he 
likes to enjoy life, and takes an inordinate pleasure in the 
chase." 1 Even Paolo Sarpi, the outspoken friar of 
Venice, admits that Leo brought many good qualities to 

1 He is buon religioso, admits Marco Minio. 



DEATH AND CHARACTER OF LEO X 283 

ie papal throne, and proceeds to say he would have 
)ade a perfect Pope, if to these good qualities he had 
ut joined some recognition of the claims of Religion 
nd shown some inclination to true piety, but for neither 
these things did he care much. 1 These comments of 
arpi, Guicciardini, the Venetian ambassadors and others 

not present a very favourable account of Leo's con- 
uct, yet they afford sufficient evidence to contradict these 
imsy charges of religious indifference or atheism. 

It is no difficult task to detect and point out the real 
lilings in Leo's character, those failings which have 
arned for him, not altogether with justice, the unenviable 
eputation of being reckoned amongst the evil Pontiffs of 
ie secular Papacy. It was his extravagance, his con- 
tant waste of time and treasure on pursuits which, 
nough not immoral in themselves, had become criminal 

1 his case, because they were carried to excess. Added 
this extravagance, which involved the Holy See in 

ndless difficulties, was Leo's besetting sin of frivolity, 
is persistent refusal to take his position seriously. Ex- 
ravagance and frivolity ; to these two moral failings 
n Leo X. can be traced, directly or indirectly, many of 
lose events which were destined shortly to disturb 
Western Christendom. If Leo had not been so en- 
rossed in idle and selfish amusements, he could not have 
ailed to discern the religious storm that was brewing in 
jermany, the storm that the Medici's undeniable tact 
nd ability might have done so much to allay. But Leo 
referred to shut his eyes and "to enjoy the Papacy," 
asking in the sunshine of adulation and luxury beneath 
blue serene sky, wherein he deliberately refused to 
totice the distant shadows of the thunder-clouds of the 

1 Hisloria del Concilio Tridentmo, lib. i. 



284 THE MEDICI POPES 

tempest coming from beyond the Alps. That cynical 
French proverb, Apres moi le deluge, might even have 
been taken for the true motto of this papal hedonist. 

" In the breast of Leo the Tenth dwelt two souls!" 
exclaims Professor Pastor, and indeed this sentiment will 
be echoed by all who have cared to study the life and 
pontificate of Giovanni de' Medici, Pope Leo X. But 
it is more kind and pleasant to look upon the brighter 
side of his character, and to regard Leo as the splendid 
patron of art and letters, as the learned and genial son of 
Lorenzo the Magnificent, as the friend of Raphael and 
the incarnation of the glories of the Leonine Age. Let 
us try to forget his share in the evil deeds that preceded 
the movement of Martin Luther, his perfidy towards his 
old companion Petrucci, his utter failure to fulfil those 
high hopes that Christendom had formed at his election ; 
let us think rather of him as the Supreme Pontiff 

Whom Europe views 

With wondering awe, her pastor and her guide, 
From great Lorenzo sprung ; the brightest Star 
Of Medicean fame, with conscious pride 
Whom his own Florence hails ; and from afar 
The sceptr'd rulers of the nations own, 
And as their lord obey ; in towering state 
Imperial Leo named, who bears alone 
The key that opes Olympus' lofty gate. 1 

1 Roscoe, vol. i., Appendix XXXII. " Translation of the Greek 
verses of Marcus Muscarus prefixed to the works of Plato" 



CHAPTER XII 

CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 

Many a stone has been cast at the memory of Clement VII. by 
lian writers of all ages, from his own to the present, for postponing 
5 patriotism to the gratification of less worthy passions. But had 
: majority of his countrymen been justified in casting the first stone 
reproach for such a sin, their unabated longing for such a deliver- 
ce of Italy would not have been at the present day (1855) ungrati- 
d (T. A. Trollope). 

rHE interval separating the reigns of the two 
Medicean Pontiffs was destined to be a brief 
one. In the middle of December, 1521, the 
ardinal de' Medici hurried full of eager hopes back 
Rome from the Imperialist camp in Lombardy, and 
esented himself in ample time for the conclave which 
>ened on the 28th day of the same month. But in 
ite of the pervading Medicean influence (for more than 
ilf the members of the Sacred College had been 
eated by the late Pontiff), a strong faction, headed by 
rancesco Soderini, the most persistent foe of the House 
Medici, was already formed to oppose the expected 
ection of Leo's cousin. So fierce and powerful was 
is cabal in the College, that ere long Giulio de' Medici 
ought it useless to prosecute his candidature further, 
id accordingly declared himself willing to support any 
t nominee of the Imperialist party. Notwithstanding 
te critical and even alarming aspect of the political situa- 

on, the utmost desire to obtain the tiara was exhibited 

285 



286 THE MEDICI POPES 

by nearly all the cardinals, foremost amongst them being 
that partially reformed libertine Alessandro Farnese, and 
the powerful English favourite of Henry VIII., Thomas 
Wolsey, Cardinal of York. It was finally only by means 
of something resembling a tacit compromise, that the 
thirty-nine cardinals assembled almost unanimously de- 
cided upon the choice of the most virtuous and also the 
least known of their number in the person of Adrian of 
Utrecht, Cardinal of Tortosa. Adrian Dedel, a Fleming 
of lowly birth, was in his sixty-third year when he was 
thus called upon to fill the vacant throne of the resplend- 
ent Leo X., who had included his humble successor, 
then tutor to the future Emperor Charles V., in his 
wholesale creation of cardinals in 1517. This unex- 
pected selection of one who was at once a saintly ascetic, 
a foreigner, and a plebeian aroused a storm of angry 
derision in the city and court of Rome ; nor on the other 
hand did the news bring any delight to the recipient of 
this high dignity. For Adrian, then absent in Spain, 
heard of his elevation with a deep groan, abandoning 
himself to genuine despair at the thought of the awful 
responsibility and the difficulty of the uncongenial task 
before him. Late in the summer of 1522, the new 
Pontiff, entitled Adrian VI., the last German and indeed 
the last non- Italian Pope, entered the gates of Rome, 
whose regeneration he professed himself so anxious to 
effect, and at once set to inaugurate a series of pious but 
fruitless endeavours to inspire some true Christian ideals 
into the voluptuous and extravagant city, which was the 
capital of Western Christendom. The melancholy tale 
of poor Adrian's hopeless attempt to reform the Church 
and to infuse some jot of Christian conscience and charity 
into those two selfish potentates, Francis of France and 
his own inept pupil the Emperor, lies wholly outside the 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 287 

iits of this work. After a residence barely exceeding 
welvemonth in "that sink of all iniquity," the unhappy 
pe (whose reign was marked, amongst other misfor- 
les which he was powerless to avert, by the capture 

Rhodes and the expulsion of its Christian knights 

m their ancient citadel) fell sick of a strange consum- 

malady, which according to the learned Roman 

ysicians was due to poison administered by some agent 

the French King ; although a heart chilled by a sense 

complete failure and deeply injured by the callous 
athy or bitter enmity of those around him in Rome 
;ms to have constituted the true cause of Adrian's 
ath on 1 4th September, 1523. All Rome was de- 
ited at the release from the presence of this spiritual 
ormer, whose humble figure, "in immediate contrast 
h Leo X. and against the storm-lighted background 
the German Reformation, is one of the most tragic 
the history of the Papacy". 1 Assuming, probably 
t without reason, that the Pope's demise was acceler- 
d by the nostrums of his court physician, the wits of 

city hung grateful garlands to the door-posts of that 
tctionary, with an inscription naming him the liberator 
the Roman Senate and People from the late foreign 
nination : an attention which proved more embarras- 
g than flattering to the personage selected for this 
ic honour. 

Shortly after Adrian's arrival in Rome, Giulio de' 
idici, fearing the influence of his old rival Francesco 
derini, who stood high in the new Pope's favour, had 
ired to Florence, which he proceeded to govern with 
t and clemency in the name of the family whereof he 
1 now become the most influential member, since he 
s the guardian of the young Lorenzo's heiress, 
1 F. Gregorovius, vol. viii., part ii. 



288 THE MEDICI POPES 

Caterina de' Medici, as well as of the two illegitimate 
lads, Ippolito and Alessandro. Recalled to Rome 
towards the close of his brief reign by the reforming 
Adrian, who was now openly following the Imperialist 
party, Medici had taken up his abode in the splendid 
palace of the late Cardinal Riario, who had been forced 
by Leo X. to cede this building at the time of his down- 
fall in 1517. Here Giulio de' Medici, now consulted 
and distinguished by the ascetic Pontiff, continued to 
reside in great state ; indeed, the Cardinal was far 
more courted and esteemed by the Roman people than 
the foreign intruder at the Vatican, where the silent 
halls and empty galleries testified plainly to the unpopu- 
lar ideas of strict economy and of virtuous simplicity 
which that despised barbarian was striving to introduce, 
Driven from the Apostolic palace, the poets and artists, 
who had recently battened at the court of Leo X., 
found their way to the Medici's mansion, so that it verily 
appeared as if the gorgeous mantle of the lamented Leo 
had fallen on his cousin, the natural son of the murdered 
Giuliano. 

The obsequies of the unhappy Adrian, whose burial- 
place is marked by the beautiful monument in the 
national church of the Germans, Santa Maria dell' 
Anima, were carried out in the latter days of September, 
and on ist October thirty-five cardinals entered the 
Sistine Chapel for the conclave, Medici's cell being by 
accident or design placed below Perugino's fine fresco 
of Christ bestowing the keys on St. Peter : a circum- 
stance from which his partisans professed to draw a 
happy augury. Seven weeks this important conclave 
lasted, its deliberations throughout being marked by a 
surpassing amount of intrigue and bribery. Fiercely 
did the rival supporters of the Imperial and French 




GIULIO DE MEDICI (CLEMENT VII) 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 289 

rties struggle to accomplish the election of a Pope of 
sir own political views, and even the threat of the 
ardians of the conclave to enforce a diet of bread and 
iter on the obstinate princes of the Church failed to 
ike their arguments meet in one point. Farnese, of 
lose flagrant immorality even that immoral age had 
en ashamed, did his utmost by unabashed promises of 
yment to obtain the coveted tiara, and was almost 
:cessful in his frantic efforts ; Thomas Wolsey, to 
lorn the Emperor had once promised his personal aid, 
LS told plainly his chance was hopeless, since even if 
5 conclave chose him, the Roman people would posi- 
ely refuse to admit another foreigner within the city in 
i capacity of Pope ; Medici, meanwhile, in spite of 
ter enmity, never relinquished hope and kept quietly 
t firmly pursuing his own ends. At last the Imperial 
tion, of which Medici was commonly regarded one of 

1 leading champions, got the upper hand, and with 

2 withdrawal of the opposition of Soderini and the 
imeless winning-over of the turbulent Pompeo 
donna, who was promised the reversion of Medici's 
e-chancellorship and the possession of the fine palace 
old Riario, the Cardinal de' Medici was enabled to 

cure the requisite number of votes, with the result that 
the night of i8th November he was declared duly 
cted. Thus did Giulio de' Medici, within two years 
m the date of his cousin's death on ist December, 
21, ascend the papal throne under the official title of 
ement VII. Nevertheless, according to the testimony 
Guicciardini, 1 the second Medicean Pontiff at first de- 
ed to be known as Julius III., but was dissuaded by 
friends from thus making use of his own baptismal 

1 Storia d' Italia, lib. xiv, 
19 



2 9 o THE MEDICI POPES 

name ; and his subsequent choice of the title of Clement 
has been variously attributed to his connection with the 
basilica of San Clemente (of which he was titular car- 
dinal-priest), to the rapid approach of St. Clement's 
festival, or to the new Pope's intended clemency towards 
Soderini and other late opponents in the conclave. 

Giulio de' Medici was in his forty-sixth year when 
he thus attained to the highest dignity in Christendom : 
a dignity which his base birth in reality denied him. 
His early history we have already discussed at length 
in the preceding chapters, wherein we have tried to show 
how closely his career was associated with the fluctuating 
fortunes of Leo X. For as early as the year 1494, at 
the date of the Florentine revolution which expelled the 
three sons of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Giulio had at- 
tached himself to his cousin, the Cardinal Giovanni, and 
had rarely been separated from him, either in good or 
evil plight, until the day of the Pope's death ; in the 
phrase of an unkind critic, Giulio had consistently played 
the humble part of jackal to the Medicean lion. The 
new Pontiff, in short, owed everything to his intimacy 
with his illustrious kinsman, who was but two years his 
senior ; from Leo he had learned and imbibed all the 
secret aims and tenets of the ambitious House of Medici; 
he had carefully copied his master in all matters of policy 
and patronage ; and it was to Leo's favour that he owed 
the removal (so far as the act was morally possible) of 
the clinging disgrace of illegitimacy, and had obtained 
an assured position of wealth and importance at his 
cousin's brilliant court. 

Yet, although Giulio de' Medici had continued the 
judicious confidant and devoted servant of Leo X. for 
nigh upon thirty years, the dissimilarity between the 
cousins had always been most striking ; nor was it by 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 291 

ty means confined to personal appearance. The 
[ivolity and keen love of enjoyment that were so con- 
>icuous in Leo seemed wholly lacking in Clement VII., 
r hose behaviour was ever grave and circumspect, and 
fhose late share in the extravagant pursuits of Leo's 
>urt had been due to motives of an ingratiating policy 
ither than to natural inclination. Clement's manner in 
iblic was somewhat cold and repellent, which was per- 
ips one of the many reasons causing him to be so disliked 
his peers in the Sacred College, despite his enormous 
ifluence and his frequent efforts to propitiate those who 
light possibly be of service to him in the future. Yet 
[s edifying and serious aspect, his reputation for political 
tgacity, his supposed desire for public economy and his 
ict personal morality made his election acceptable both 
the Emperor and to Henry VIII. of England, whilst 
tncis of France had experienced enough of Medicean 
>lomacy in the past to rest assured that no Medici was 
'er likely to become a mere tool of the Imperial will. 
In the whole, therefore, Clement VII.'s elevation, in spite 
the scandalous delays in the late conclave, was well 
;ived by the princes of Europe, whilst it produced 
outburst of popular enthusiasm in the city of Rome, 
lere all men " trusted to behold again a flourishing 
kirt, a liberal Pontiff, and a revival of the arts and 
:ters which had been banished under the late barbarian 
-anny of Adrian, since it is the boast of the House 
Medici that it favours the Muses". 1 The sober 
licciardini also extols the choice of the conclave, de- 
iring that the new Pontiff was "held in the highest 
mutation throughout all Europe ; indeed, the extra- 
linary delay in the late election seemed excusable, 

JF. Gregorovius, vol. viii., part ii., p. 457, note i. 



292 THE MEDICI POPES 

seeing that it had resulted in the elevation to the papal 
throne of a person of the greatest power and capacity". 1 

In appearance, as in manner, the new Pope offered 
a strong contrast with the stout and genial Leo X. 
Clement's figure was tall, slight, and well formed ; his 
complexion was sallow ; his hair black, his eyes a deep 
brown, and he had fine regular features. He was more 
of a typical Medici than his cousin Leo, and bore a 
strong resemblance to his father, Giuliano, the only 
brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was murdered 
in the Florentine cathedral a month before his natural 
son was born to him. 2 But although handsome, 
Clement's face was rendered unattractive by reason of 
its disagreeable expression and the look of suspicion 
which was constantly passing over it. At the date of 
his election the Pontiff was smooth-shaven, as we can 
observe him in Raphael's celebrated portrait of Leo X., 
and in certain of the frescoes in the Vatican, for it was 
not until after the sack of Rome in 1527, that Clement, 
in sign of mourning for his past indignities, allowed his 
beard and moustache to grow naturally, a change which 
undoubtedly added dignity to the Pope's general appear- 
ance. If Julius was the first Pontiff to wear a beard, 
Clement was certainly the originator of the papal 
moustache, which continued in vogue amongst the Roman 
Pontiffs for nearly two centuries. 

Though less liberal and also less learned than Leo, 
Giulio de' Medici owned a more discerning as well as a 
more catholic taste in contemporary art. It speaks elo- 
quently for Clement's true understanding of art in all its 
varied forms, that he showed himself able to appreciate 

1 Storia d' Italia, lib. xiv. 

2 Platina, etc., Vita dementis VIII. ; also Guicciardini, Storia 
d* Italia, lib. xii. ; Creighton, vol. v., p. 224, etc. 






CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 293 

e exquisite inventions of that Florentine prince of 
wellers, Benvenuto Cellini (who as a young man was 
rising rapidly to fame in Rome), and likewise the 
gantic productions of the chisel of Michelangelo, whose 
arvellous powers the new Pope, unlike his late cousin, 
ways held in the highest consideration. Clement, 
who alone of all the Medici kept a just balance between 
e two rivals who were disputing the crown of art," 3 
id also been a constant patron of the late Raffaele 
anzio, and amongst other commissions he had entrusted 
e great artist of Urbino with the erection of a villa on 
e slopes of Monte Mario, the prominent cypress-clad 
[1 above the Flaminian Gate of the city. This splendid 
lla, in the construction of which the natural rise and 
11 of the ground had been skilfully utilised to contribute 
the general effect, would probably have afforded one 
the finest examples of the florid art of the Italian 
enaissance, had but circumstances allowed of its com- 
etion according to the desire of the Cardinal and the 
ssign of Raphael. Its style of architecture was com- 
>site, a blend of all that was excellent in antique and 
ntemporary art, whilst the gorgeous decorations of its 
ills and loggia were even said to surpass the efforts of 
eir artists, Giulio Romano and Giovanni da Udine, at 
e Vatican itself. Unfortunately, like so many other 
nbitious projects of the Renaissance, this magnificent 
ilace was never brought to perfection, and in the 
ualid dilapidated building, to-day called the Villa 
adama, the stranger will only perceive another of 
ose dismal unfinished monuments of extravagance and 
nbition, with which all Italy is so thickly studded. A 
>bler and more enduring memorial of Clement's good 
ste and bounty in those early days is to be found in 
1 Muntz, p. 146. 



294 THE MEDICI POPES 

that matchless creation of the divine Raphael, the picture 
of the Transfiguration, which adorned the chamber 
of the dying artist and was borne in that silent pro- 
cession through the streets of Rome to his honoured 
tomb in the Pantheon. For it was the Cardinal Giulio 
de' Medici, who had expressly commanded this world- 
famous masterpiece for the high altar of the cathedral- 
church of Narbonne, as a mark of gratitude for his 
appointment to that distant bishopric. We can, however, 
scarcely blame the Cardinal for his refusal to allow this 
picture to quit Rome, when we consider the extraordinary 
beauty of the composition and reflect upon the sad but 
hallowed memories attending its completion. The 
picture (finished in detail, and none too satisfactorily, by 
Raphael's pupil Giulio Romano) was placed in the 
Roman church of San Pietro in Montorio, whilst a copy 
was despatched to remote Narbonne. After remaining 
the pride and glory of San Pietro in Montorio for nearly 
three centuries, Raphael's masterpiece was removed to 
Paris by the emissaries of the French Republic in 1798, 
and on its restoration to the papal government in 1815, 
Pius VII. claimed it for the Vatican picture-gallery, of 
which it has ever since formed the chief ornament. 

With the election of Giulio de' Medici in November, 
1523, the Vatican, which had remained silent and half- 
deserted for the past two years, once more began to re- 
sume its normal aspect of intrigue and pleasure. That 
corrupt and still unended pageant of the Leonine Age, 
which the first Medicean Pope inaugurated, had indeed 
been scarcely suspended anywhere in the city of Rome 
save in the Apostolic palace itself, where the unhappy 
and despised Adrian was living frugally on a ducat a 
day and was being served by a Flemish crone, who did 
duty for the swarm of valets, lacqueys and grooms whose 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 295 

esence the Magnificent Leo had considered indispens- 
>le. But the gloom and torpor that had fallen on the 
atican since Leo's death had in no wise interrupted 
e follies or vices of Rome at large. Cardinals and 
elates of the court hunted, feasted, made music, jested, 
itertained, led immoral lives, and in short openly set 

defiance the commands and threats of their foreign 
laster, whose exhortation to virtue was heard unheeded 

this ecclesiastical desert of pride and luxury. With 
e Vatican once more the acknowledged seat of artistic 
atronage and with a second Medici on the papal throne, 
ome was herself again, and was prepared to forget the 
ief and ineffectual interlude of a barbarian pontificate. 
Foremost of the signs of resumed activity at the 
atican was the renewal of the progress of building and 
ecorating the palace, which had been abruptly aban- 
oned under the pedantic Adrian with his utter ignorance 

modern art and his pious horror of all pagan culture, 
oud indeed was the outburst of relief from the artists 

Rome, who u were all during the reign of Adrian but 
ttle better than dying of hunger," so Vasari informs us 

exaggerated language. " On that very day," proceeds 
le Plutarch of Italian painters, "of Pope Clement's 
ection, the arts of design together with all the other 
rts, were recalled to new life, and Giulio Romano and 
rian-Francesco Penni set themselves joyfully to work 
y command of the Pontiff, to finish the Hall of Constan- 
ne," l the fourth and most spacious chamber of the suite 
the Stanze di Raffaelo. 2 Here, on the wall facing the 
endows, Giulio Romano painted the animated battle- 
lece, the Triumph of the Emperor Constantine over the 
ifidel Maxentius, an immense composition crowded with 
Christian and pagan warriors and with many horses, 
1 Vita df Giulio Romano* " 2 See chapter ix. 



296 THE MEDICI POPES 

which in spite of the harshness of its colouring is a 
splendid performance of the painter, who has throughout 
followed closely the details of the original cartoon from 
the hand of his dead master, Raphael. In the adjoining 
fresco, the Vision of the Cross to Constantine, it is only 
too evident that Giulio Romano has deviated both from 
the spirit and the design of the original cartoon, whilst 
the introduction into so solemn a subject of the repulsive 
Gradasso da Norcia, the hideous dwarf from the house- 
hold of Ippolito de' Medici, constitutes a flagrant outrage 
against good taste. Opposite this work, appears the 
Baptism of Constantine, with its valuable representation 
of the ancient baptistery of the Lateran in the days of 
the second Medicean Pope and its portrait of Clement 
himself officiating in the guise of Pope Sylvester. Last 
of all in artistic merit but of special interest as presenting 
us with an admirable view of the interior of old St. Peter's 
with its pillared nave, its tribune and its crude mosaics, 
is the fourth fresco of this hall, which, being the latest 
of all in date, exhibits St. Sylvester as Clement VII., 
grown older and bearded, seated in state to receive the 
donation of Rome for himself and his successors from 
the hand of Constantine, who in solemn assertion of his 
good faith offers the Pontiff the bronze statue of a warrior. 
Numerous auxiliary figures have been introduced into 
this picture ; courtiers, children, women, beggars, the 
Grand Master of Rhodes, and even soldiers of the 
Swiss Guard, who keep the populace at a respectful dis- 
tance with their halberds. The frescoes of the Stanza 
di Costantino, though artistically on a far lower level 
than those of the other three halls, form an interesting 
historical link with the disastrous pontificate of Clement 
VII., who tried conscientiously to complete the splendid 
series of frescoes, emblematic of the secular Papacy, that 






CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 297 

ius II. had commenced and Leo X. had continued; 
vas the fault of Raphael's pupils and not of the Medici 
t the decorations of the last hall of the official suite, 
ended to idealise the origin of the temporal power of 

Papacy, should have proved so inferior to Raphael's 
n creations in the adjoining chambers. 

Everywhere in the neighbourhood of the Hall of Con- 
ntine are visible the heraldic achievements of the luck- 
s Clement, notably in the pair of splendid carved 
rtals that give on the Loggia of Raphael. And in the 
lels of these doors the curious may observe the strange 
blem or impresa adopted by Clement VII., which re- 
sents the rays of the sun in full splendour falling on a 
stal globe, that stands on a pedestal marked with the 
rds Candor Illaesus, and passing thence so as to set 

to a tree in full leaf. According to Paolo Giovio, 
enigmatic piece of heraldry was the invention of a 
tain Domenico Buoninsegni of Florence, treasurer to 
ement VII., shortly before the date of his master's 
ction in 1523, who strove to show to the world thereby 

ment's earnest sincerity and candour of mind, which 
re so great as to render their owner proof against the 
nifold slanders and plots of his enemies. This quaint 
rice seems to have commended itself to the Pope, then 
rdinal, although in the whole roll of history it would 
hard to discover any sovereign to whom the epithet 
"candid" might be applied with less reason than to 
s Medicean disciple of the tortuous and uncandid 
nciples laid down by Machiavelli. 1 

Of the various artists patronised by Clement VII., 
hose election proved to be a great and much-needed 
toration and refreshment to the arts of painting and 

1 Geronimo Ruscelli, Le Imprese illustri. In Venetia, 1572, pp. 
41. 



298 THE MEDICI POPES 

sculpture," 1 perhaps the account left by Benvenuto 
Cellini of his own relations with Clement is the most 
valuable, as affording us an insight not only into the 
artistic notions of his papal patron, but also into his 
disposition and mode of life. For the Pontiff seems to 
have formed a close friendship with Cellini, then twenty- 
six years of age, during the awful siege of the castle of 
Sant' Angelo, and the intimacy begun under these baleful 
conditions was resumed in happier days, on Clement's re- 
turn to Rome after his coronation of the Emperor at 
Bologna. This strange adherent of the House of 
Medici exquisite jeweller, vulgar braggart, plebeian 
roysterer and author of one of the most valuable human 
documents concerning the social life of the Italian 
Renaissance has presented us in his immortal Autobio- 
graphy with a mass of artless details concerning Clement, 
and has recorded in these pages a number of strange 
conversations between himself and the Pope, which 
though highly entertaining in themselves, cannot possibly 
be accounted veracious, for they are in reality but stray 
reminiscences of events put down on paper some twenty 
or thirty years after their actual occurrence. 

Rome, at the date of Cellini's arrival thither in 1523, 
was still the undisputed centre of the intellectual and 
artistic world, and Clement's election set the seal on its 
universal reputation. As a master- workman, whose fame 
had already preceded him in Rome, Cellini had received 
from Clement a cordial welcome, the warmth of which 
was doubtless enhanced by the Pope's knowledge of 
the firm political sympathies of the lowly Cellini family 
with the lofty House of Medici. With the early secur- 
ing of the papal patronage, commissions of every kind at 
once began to pour down upon the conceited but talented 

1 Vasari, Vita di Pierino del Vaga t 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 299 

[rentine youth, who ere long came to be acknowledged 
the prince of his profession. 
No labour seemed too minute, no metal was too 

in for the exercise of the master-workman's skill, nor 
he run the risk of becoming one of those half- 

iteurs in whom accomplishment falls short on first 
tception. Art ennobled for him all that he was called 

lo. Whether cardinals required him to fashion silver 
;es for their banquet-tables ; or ladies wished the 
:ing of their jewels altered ; or a Pope wanted the 

,melled binding of a book of prayers ; or men-at-arms 
it sword-blades to be damaskened with acanthus 
[age ; or kings desired fountains and statues for their 
ace-courts ; or poets begged to have their portraits 

t in bronze ; or generals needed medals to com- 
[morate their victories, or dukes new coins for the 

it or bishops ordered reliquaries for the altars of 
patron-saints ; or merchants sought for seals and 

let-rings engraved with their device ; or men of fashion 
:ed for medals of Leda and Adonis to fasten in their 

> all these commissions would be undertaken by a 
irkman like Cellini." 1 

These early years in Rome were probably the 

>piest and most prosperous in all Cellini's career. 

>ured of the Pope's sympathy in his work, and later 

iwing a good salary as master of the papal mint, 
invenuto moved as a figure of no little importance in 
brilliant if corrupt pageant of the closing years of 
Leonine Age. For society he enjoyed the intimate 

mdship of his own revered Michelangelo, of the 
[inter Giulio Romano, and of such of the leading artists 

the day as he did not choose to offend. For his 

lusements there were the eternal feasting, intriguing 

1 J. A. Symonds, Renaissance in Italy. 



300 THE MEDICI POPES 

and brawling of the time, whilst for his health's sake 
Benvenuto was wont to go daily outside the city walls 
with his fowling-piece and a well-trained shock-dog in 
quest of game on the Roman Campagna, or else to 
sketch the neglected remains of classical Rome, lighten- 
ing his task of drawing by occasionally shooting at the 
flocks of pigeons which these ivy-clad ruins sheltered. 

But this pleasant existence of mingled work and re- 
creation received a rude shock in the capture and sack 
of Rome by the lawless troops of the Constable of 
Bourbon in the spring of 1527. During the fearful 
siege of the castle of Sant' Angelo, Cellini gladly gave 
his services to his unfortunate patron, to whom he seems 
to have borne as genuine an attachment as his conceited 
and selfish nature would permit. We shall speak in the 
following chapter of Cellini's vaunted exploits in the be- 
leaguered citadel of Rome, but one curious incident it is 
more suitable to mention in this place. It seems that at 
Clement's special request, Cellini undertook to break up 
the papal crown-jewels, to extract their gems and to 
melt down their component gold, a delicate operation, for 
which Benvenuto's unique skill in his profession and un- 
doubted honesty rendered his assistance of extreme 
value in such an emergency. This signal service to 
the Medici was, however, destined to bring unmerited 
evil on the head of the artist in after years under the rule 
of the terrible Farnese Pope, Paul III., whose mean 
suspicious nature could not conceive of any artist having 
undertaken such a task, without the determination to rob 
his employer of part at least of the stones and gold en- 
trusted to his care and honour. 1 

Ever a faithful adherent of the Medici, Benvenuto 
openly preferred to return to Rome in the train of 

1 Vita di B. Cellini. 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 301 

ment rather than to assist in the defence of his native 
rence, which had in the meantime shaken off the 
icean yoke. During the years 1530-1534, Clement 
undoubtedly the artist's best patron, and in the racy 
nfrative of the jeweller-author's own Autobiography 
are given many instances of the Pope's vary- 
moods. For during these four years the artist was 
constant attendance at the Vatican, where he was 
etimes flattered, sometimes soundly rated by His 
liness, according as a friendly or unfriendly courtier 
previous access to the papal ear, for the perplexed 
ntiff was ever a prey to some temporary influence, 
bvertheless, despite innumerable quarrels between 
ron and artist, Cellini executed many commissions for 
ment, besides designing and striking those beautiful 
al medals, which even in the fastidious Pope's opinion 
passed the finest specimens of the coins of antiquity, 
ese medals distinguished by Clement's handsome profile 
vive as prized possessions in many a cabinet to-day ; 
what has become, we wonder, of those superb if 
ial masterpieces with which Cellini's deft fingers and 
n-sighted eyes contrived to delight the art-loving 
dici? Where is that golden brooch to fasten the 
[ntifical cope, "the size of a small trencher, one-third 
a cubit wide," with its design of the Almighty sur- 
inded by cherubim and seated on a glowing orb, 
iich was to have been formed by the finest diamond 
the papal treasury ? Where is that ornate chalice, the 
>le of its artificer's eye, that in its unfinished state had 
:n contemptuously referred to as una cipollata, "a 
:ss of onions," by the supercilious Cardinal Salviati : 
insult the vindictive genius never forgave ? Or the 
del for the setting of "an unicorn's horn" or rather 
[e fine narwhal's tusk, a curio that cost the impoverished 



3 o2 THE MEDICI POPES 

treasury 1 7,000 ducats with which Clement was anxious 
to propitiate the King of France at the approaching 
marriage of the little Caterina de' Medici with the second 
son of Francis ? All have perished ; so that the most 
enduring memorial of Clement's patronage of Cellini is 
to be found in those chapters of the artist's Autobiography^ 
which describe from his own point of view the numerous 
colloquies and misunderstandings between the two men 
placed in such widely separated spheres of life. Were 
both Pope and artist living at this moment, each would 
express an equal surprise at this circumstance, for little 
did that gifted but self-satisfied master-workman suspect, 
as in his declining years he jotted down his pungent 
reminiscences of the great, that the fame of these care- 
lessly dictated memoirs was destined to outweigh in 
the eyes of future generations the value of his statues, his 
coins, and his elaborate designs for plate and jewellery. 

We have already made allusion to Clement's un- 
bounded admiration of the talents of Michelangelo, whom 
as Cardinal de' Medici he had been wont to address with 
the deepest courtesy as Spectabilis Vir, amice nosier 
chiarissime. And immediately upon his election it is not 
strange that the Pope decided to engage the services of 
the master for the completion of a Medicean mausoleum 
adjoining the church of San Lorenzo in Florence, a pro- 
ject that was evidently very dear to the heart of this 
bastard of the Medici, now risen to be Supreme Pontiff. 
Together with the proposed mausoleum was included a 
commission for the erection of a library hard by, suitable 
to contain the splendid collection of books and manu- 
scripts of Leo X., which was now the property of his heir. 
" Thou art aware," writes Clement in an autograph note 
to a formal letter of instruction from his secretary, "that 
l Vita di B, Celhni. 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 303 

es are short-lived, and we are all eagerness to behold 
chapel with the monuments of our race, or at least 
earn of its completion. So also with the library. 
Before we rely on thy diligence in both our commands, 
assured that commissions and rewards will never be 
ing during our lifetime. Farewell, with the benedic- 
of God and ourselves. Julius." l 
With such a proof of Clement's earnest anxiety, the 
iter set to work with zest upon the domed mausoleum 
le Medici, commonly called the New Sacristy of San 
enzo, in contrast with the existing old Sacristy of 
inelleschi near the southern transept of the basilica. 
2 original intention both of Pope and artist seems to 
e been the erection of four vast and overladen 
ulchral monuments covered with allegorical figures 
ommemoration of Giuliano the Good, Lorenzo Duke 
Jrbino, Lorenzo the Magnificent, and Giuliano his 
ther, the two last being the parents respectively of 
) X. and Clement VII. Other accounts credit 
ment with the desire of a splendid tomb to be raised 
limself in his lifetime. Eventually, as we know, only 
tombs of the two former princes were ever erected. 
Within a year the shell of the fabric was finished, 
. was ready to receive the elaborate masses of statuary 
[ sepulchral architecture, on which the master was 
7 lavishing his genius. Early in 1526 the foundations 
the Laurentian Library also were laid, whilst its 
essary fittings and decorations were being prepared 
a number of skilled craftsmen, prominent amongst 
m being the celebrated Giovanni da Udine who was 
wise instructed to adorn in fresco the cupola of the 
:risty. It was about this time also that Clement, who 

l ]. A. Symonds, Life of Michelangelo, vol. i., p. 397. Clement 
. signs with his baptismal name in this letter, dated April, 1525. 



3 o4 THE MEDICI POPES 

from a distance was taking the liveliest interest in the 
progress of these operations at San Lorenzo, sent to 
Michelangelo an extraordinary proposal to erect a colossal 
figure of forty cubits' stature in the piazza before the 
church, apparently on the very spot now occupied by the 
mediocre effigy of the father of the first Tuscan Grand- 
Duke, the famous Giovanni of the Black Bands. This 
extravagant and tasteless suggestion, although emanating 
directly from the Pope, was savagely opposed by Michel- 
angelo in a letter filled with most insolent sarcasm, com- 
bined with the elephantine humour in which the master 
occasionally indulged. 1 The contemptuous remarks con- 
tained in this communication could not have failed to 
give offence to the Pope, had its contents been brought 
to his notice by some mischief-making person (as indeed 
may actually have happened). Yet Clement seems to 
have paid no attention to the rude jests of this privileged 
man of genius, for the scheme was immediately dropped 
and we hear no more of it. But one cannot help specu- 
lating on what the violent Julius II. or the particular Leo 
X. would have said or done, on hearing such personal 
ridicule from any architect accepting their pay. 

Owing to the Florentine revolution of 1527 and the 
subsequent downfall of Medicean rule, the work at San 
Lorenzo was of necessity suspended, whilst Michelangelo 
was set to labour on another and a nobler task, that of 
raising the fortifications at San Miniato in order to pro- 
tect his native city from the assailing army of the Prince 
of Orange. With the recapture and thraldom of the 
revolted city, the great artist, whose earnest efforts on 
behalf of the short-lived Florentine Republic were well 
known to the now-detested Clement, was forced to lie 
awhile in hiding. But it was not long ere the Pope, 

1 J. A. Symonds, Life of Michelangelo, vol. i., pp. 400, 401, 



CLEMENS SEPTIMUS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS 305 

>se intense anxiety to finish worthily his chapel and 
iry at San Lorenzo evidently outweighed any sup- 
sd thirst for vengeance on his architect, offered of his 

motion free pardon and grace to the patriotic master, 
> was thus once more recalled to resume his interrupted 
imission of glorifying the triumphant House of Medici, 
ichelangelo," remarks his biographer Condivi, "now 
e forth from his place of concealment, and took up 
in his work on the statues in the Sacristy of San 
enzo, being moved thereto more by fear of the Pope 
i by love for the Medici." 1 Yet if the artist himself 

sore in spirit, he seems in no wise to have forfeited 
ment's favour, for in one of the letters of his chief 
id and gossip in Rome, Sebastiano del Piombo (who 

accepted the bounty of Clement VII.), that dis- 
uished painter implores Michelangelo to lay aside all 
fitment against the Pope, "who speaks of you in 
i honourable and affectionate terms, that no parent 
d praise a son more highly. It is true he has been 
oyed by whisperings as to your conduct during the 
siege of Florence, but he shrugs his shoulders and 
r remarks, Michelangelo is mistaken, for I never did 
\ any wrong!" 1 

Thus for nearly four years did Michelangelo toil with 
eavy heart at his uncongenial task at San Lorenzo, 
on the Pope's death in 1534 the work ceased ab- 
tly, nor was it ever resumed, though the Grand- Duke 
;imo I. tried later to persuade the master to achieve 
original design. The result of Clement's premature 
ease and of his artist's consequent escape from an 
ome duty is therefore that to-day we possess only the 
ly vaulted apartment of perfect proportions covered 

1 J. A. Symonds, Life of Michelangelo, vol. i., p. 438. 
*Ibid. t vol. i., p. 348. 

20 



3 o6 THE MEDICI POPES 

with meaningless niches, cornices and brackets, which 
cry aloud for their intended pieces of statuary ; and dis- 
figured by the blank wall-spaces which were meant to 
glow with frescoes from the master's own hand or with 
graceful arabesques from the brush of Giovanni da 
Udine. A first inspection of this famous building with 
its white-washed walls and its abundance 1 of the sad- 
coloured pietra serena, the grey stone which renders 
gloomy so many of the finest edifices of Florence, strikes 
a chill, moral as well as physical, in the traveller, who 
probably experiences a sense of disappointment that he 
dares not openly express on his first acquaintance with 
the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo. Of its two completed 
sepulchral monuments to Giuliano and Lorenzo de 
Medici we have already spoken, and therefore shall re- 
frain from adding another word of praise or criticism 
concerning that which has given rise to endless specula- 
tion and poetical rhapsody from generations of artists 
and authors. To the passing stranger we offer but this 
humble suggestion : that in fairness to the execrated 
memory of Clement VII. he should bear in mind that to 
this hated Pontiff is due the erection of this drear but 
splendid sanctuary of art, which has drawn hither for 
nearly four centuries so many pilgrims of every race and 
from every clime. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE SACK OF ROME 

Alas, how many a courtier, how many a high-born and delicately 
ured noble, how many a gracious prelate, how many a pious nun, 

many a virgin, how many a stately matron with all her infants 
a prey to those cruel Barbarians ! Think of the chalices, the 
ses and the images ; think of the goodly vases of gold or silver 

were snatched by bloody and sacrilegious hands from the altars 

holy places where they were wont to repose ! Alas, for the fate 

hose marvellous and venerable Relics, which were first robbed of 

r coverings of precious metal, and then flung to earth by murder- 

ned hands in insult to our Faith ! The sacred heads of the 

Apostles Peter, Paul and Andrew, the Wood of the True Cross, 
Crown of Thorns, the Holy Oils, and even the consecrated Hosts, 
rodden underfoot by those remorseless Barbarians ! (L. Guicciar- 

// Sacco di Roma). 

ALTHOUGH reckoned at the time of the con- 
-\ clave one of the Emperor's most ardent sup- 

^ porters, it was not long before Clement took 
the threads of the old Medicean policy of vacillating 
ween King and Caesar, and of trying to turn every 
nee to the private advantage of the House of Medici. 

constant shuffling, intriguing and deceiving, the 
ntiff proceeded to an open rupture with Charles V. 

to a close alliance with Francis of France, until in 
25 the startling news of the decisive victory of Pavia 
st like a thunder-clap over Rome and the Papal 
irt. "On the 26th day of February about four 
ock in the evening were brought tidings to the Pope 
t the army of the King of France had been worsted 

307 



3 o8 THE MEDICI POPES 

by the army of the Emperor and the Duke of Milan, 
and that King Francis was actually taken prisoner. 
The whole of that night the Spanish residents of Rome 
paraded the streets, applauding the victory and celebrat- 
ing it with bonfires and explosions of mortars. . . . And 
on the final day of February a messenger arrived in the 
city, who confirmed the report of the capture of the king, 
of the destruction of his army, and of the slaughter of 
numbers of the nobles of France." 1 

Yet even this absolute upheaval of the European 
balance of power, on which the Pope had been so art- 
fully calculating, proved insufficient to teach wisdom to 
the secretive Clement, who unlike Leo, never recognised 
the right moment to yield, or at least to pretend to yield, 
with a good grace. However disagreeable and humiliat- 
ing his position may have appeared after the battle of 
Pavia, it was obviously Clement's only chance to im- 
plore the pardon of the irate Charles and to seek his 
protection for Florence and the Holy See. Yet al- 
though the Emperor had been made all-powerful beyond 
the shadow of a doubt since the fatal day of Pavia, we 
find the infatuated Clement in the following year actually 
at the head of a League, composed of the independent 
Italian states in conjunction with the broken realm of 
France and the distant kingdom of England, for the 
avowed purpose of driving the victorious Spanish arms 
out of Italy. Thus by this irrevocable act of folly un- 
speakable was the true aim of Medicean statecraft 
revealed. The army of the League under the command 
of the treacherous Francesco-Maria, Delia Rovere, 
Duke of Urbino, who must have hated the House of 
Medici after his treatment by Leo X., now advanced 
into Lombardy, where that renegade prince, the cele- 

1 Creighton, vol. vi. Diary of Blasius de Martinellis, p. 380. 




CLEMENT VII AND THE EMPEROR CHARLES V 



c; 

\ 

yet another warning against the terrible doom 
rashness and duplicity were preparing for his House, 

folthe Papacy, and indeed for all Italy. For in Septem- 
1526, the irrepressible Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, 
i the followers of that great feudal House, suddenly 
oped down upon Rome with the connivance of the 
serial envoy, the unscrupulous Moncada, and invaded 

tl defenceless suburb lying round St. Peter's. The 

of n indifference of the Roman people, whose sympathy 
ment had contrived to alienate, and the cowardly 

in scision of the Pontiff himself, allowed the angry 



THE SACK OF ROME 309 

ted Constable of Bourbon, was holding the unhappy 
of Milan in the name of his present master, Charles 
In the autumn of this very year moreover the Pope 



onna, the self-styled deliverer of Rome from papal 
,nny, to pillage the Apostolic palace, which the Pope 

ignominiously abandoned for the security of the 
le of Sant' Angelo. In an agony of distress, 
ment at once applied to Moncada, who assisted the 
>e to escape from his undignified position, by patching 

treaty wherein Clement swore faithfully to secede 
i the League and also to pardon the Colonna for 

late exploit. 

But Clement, "the very sport of misfortune," never 
le a promise but to break it at the earliest opportunity. 
Nfovember of the same year the papal troops were 
xpectedly despatched into the plains and mountains 
he Roman State, to storm and raze the strongholds 
he unsuspecting Colonna, when defenceless tenants 
contadini of this House were treated with a measure 
ruelty which would have put the Turk to shame ; 
st the Cardinal Pompeo and every member of his 
ily were formally deprived of all their titles and 
ared outlaws. That such an act of treachery and 



3 io THE MEDICI POPES 

insolence was caused by abject fear rather than by 
wanton aggression cannot excuse Clement's conduct, 
and it is not hard to understand the position subsequently 
assumed by the Emperor, thus openly cheated and 
flouted, towards a Pope whose election had been mainly 
secured by Imperial influence. 

But retribution was very near at hand. On ist 
December, the Imperial viceroy of Naples, Lannoy, 
reached Gaeta with a large force by sea, and he was 
immediately joined on his landing by the infuriated 
Cardinal Colonna, burning with vengeance against the 
perfidious Medici. Bad, however, as was this piece of 
news, the reports from the north of Italy were even more 
calculated to alarm the guilty Pope. For during the 
autumn months the famous veteran George von Frunds- 
berg had been collecting an army of Lands knee kts to 
march under his banner into Italy, to subdue and even 
to punish with death the perjured enemy of the Emperor. 
These Landsknechts were volunteer foot-soldiers, drawn 
from the sturdy peasantry of the Franconian plains or from 
the mountains of Bavaria. A large proportion of them 
were confessedly Lutherans, rilled with the anti-papal 
sentiments of their religious leader, so that the prospect 
of hanging Anti-Christ in the person of Clement and the 
expected plunder of the richest city in Europe appealed 
to their minds with almost equal force. Crossing the 
Alps amid fearful storms of rain and snow, and sur- 
mounting precipitous passes where the aged and corpulent 
Frundsberg had to be pushed or carried by his men, thi< 
picked body of German adventurers finally reached the 
neighbourhood of Brescia, almost at the precise moment 
of Clement's treacherous raid upon the castles of the 
Colonna. It is easy to comprehend the consternation 
the Pope and the Roman court, when it was realised ii 



THE SACK OF ROME 311 

Rome that Frundsberg and his Protestant myrmidons 
had actually gained the plain of Lombardy and that the 
viceroy Lannoy's Spanish fleet was riding safe in the 
roads of Gaeta. "We are on the brink of ruin!" was 
the only too prophetic utterance of Clement's patriotic 
but headstrong secretary, Gian-Matteo Giberti, whose 
advice was ever in strong conflict with the Pope's other 
favourite counsellor, the German Imperialist, Nicholas 
Schomberg. For the feeble Clement was ever wavering 
between Giberti's exhortations to prosecute the war of 
Italian independence at all costs, and Schomberg's more 
prudent recommendation to make peace, even at the 
eleventh hour, with the enraged Emperor, no matter how 
severe the terms demanded. 

At the battle of Frosinone, the advance of Lannoy 
and Pompeo Colonna upon Rome was temporarily 
checked at the close of January, 1527, but all efforts of 
the army of the League in Lombardy proved unavailing 
to arrest the progress of Frundsberg's force, which was 
slowly but surely fighting its way from the Alps towards 
the Tiber. The kind offices of Alfonso of Ferrara, 
whom Clement had been foolish enough to exasperate, 
enabled the hard-pressed Germans to surmount all 
obstacles natural and military in their path, whilst Fortune 
at the same time deprived the Pope and indeed Italy of 
an able and most trustworthy leader in the person of the 
brave but brutal Giovanni delle Bande Nere, head of the 
junior branch of the House of Medici and father of the 
future first Grand- Duke of Tuscany. For Giovanni of 
the Black Bands was struck down by a bullet in a small 
skirmish on the banks of the Mincio, and though his in- 
domitable pluck permitted him to hold with his own hand 
the torch so as to assist the attending surgeon to amputate 
the injured leg, he died of his wound at Mantua five days 



3 i2 THE MEDICI POPES 

later. On ist December, the day succeeding Medici's 
death, Frundsberg was joined by a princely adventurer, 
the young Philibert of Orange, now in the service of the 
Emperor ; but it was not until two months later that the 
Constable of Bourbon was able to quit Milan with the 
Spanish forces and to form a junction with the army of 
advancing Landsknechts at Pontenuro. The combined 
forces of German volunteers and of Spanish soldiers now 
reckoned in all some 30,000 men, well supplied with 
cavalry but greatly deficient in artillery. " It was a for- 
midable host of veteran soldiers, whom a hundred battles 
had made as hard as steel, and whom no hardships could 
bend : Catholics and Lutherans all fired with the same 
fierce hatred of the Papacy and impelled by the same 
thirst for spoil." 1 

Meanwhile, as the united army of Frundsberg and 
Bourbon was marching towards Bologna, an eight 
months' truce was arranged between the Pope and the 
viceroy Lannoy, which under the circumstances was 
probably the best diplomatic move Clement could have 
made, had he not followed the signing of the terms by a 
general disarmament of his forces, thus leaving the city 
defenceless in the event of a hostile army assailing Rome 
from the north. But the armistice, though certainly 
excellent from the selfish view of the wavering Pope, 
was loudly execrated both by the Colonna, who thought 
Lannoy 's terms far too lenient to Clement, and by the 
patriotic party in Italy, which was furious at this papal 
surrender to the Emperor after the late victory of 
Frosinone. Clement became therefore distrusted, hated, 
and anathematised all round for his cold, crafty and truly 
Medicean policy. But, truce or no truce, the Imperialist 

1 Gregorovius, vol. viii., part ii. 



THE SACK OF ROME 313 

army of the north was determined to proceed. On 
news of the negotiations recently opened between 
Clement and Lannoy, a mutiny at once broke out in 
the camp, where even the Landsknechts, furious at the 
prospect of being baulked of their expected prey, set 
their old leader Frundsberg at defiance, and loudly 
clamoured for pay or pillage. Seized with an apoplectic 
fit in the midst of this tumult, the aged general was now 
removed helpless to Ferrara, so that the advance south- 
ward of the vast but undisciplined Imperialist army was 
undertaken solely by Bourbon, who was practically as 
much the servant as the leader of this Spanish-German 
host. In vain did Lannoy himself proceed in person to 
expostulate with Bourbon and in the Pope's name to 
offer higher and higher ransom, if only the army would 
retire to Milan ; the penniless Bourbon durst not turn 
back, even if he would. In despair the viceroy returned 
to Rome, whilst towards the close of April, Bourbon 
found himself in the neighbourhood of Arezzo, and 
within a few leagues of Florence. 

The governorship of Florence had been entrusted 
by Clement to Cardinal Silvio Passerini of Cortona, 
whilst the House of Medici was represented in that city 
by the presence of the little Catherine, heiress of her 
House, and the two lads, Ippolito and Alessandro. Of 
these two youths, Ippolito was now grown into a hand- 
some, attractive stripling, filled with martial instincts and 
by no means amenable to the Pope's intention of forcing 
him to embrace an ecclesiastical career. Alessandro, on 
the other hand, swarthy, ill-featured and ungracious, was 
undoubtedly the papal favourite ; a strange circumstance 
which was popularly attributed to the Pope's paternity 
of this unprepossessing bastard, who was later created 



3 i4 THE MEDICI POPES 

Duke of Florence. 1 Besides these three Medici, there j 
was the proud and arrogant Clarice de' Medici, wife of 
Filippo Strozzi, who was at this moment a hostage at 
Naples for the Pope's good faith, a position which caused 
much anxiety to Clarice, since she was only too well 
acquainted with Clement's innate selfishness and constant ] 
double-dealing. The city of Florence, however, was well 
prepared for any emergency, the Duke of Urbino having 
been engaged to take up a position with his army in the 
Val d' Arno at Incisa, in case Bourbon, or rather his 
unruly followers, might be tempted to approach and 
plunder the city. But for this act of forethought, it is 
not improbable that Florence might have anticipated the 
horrors of the evil fate which was to overtake Rome , 
within a few days. But seeing his avenue to Florence 
barred by a resolute general with an adequate army, the 
Constable of Bourbon decided to quit Tuscany and to 
continue his course direct towards Rome, the admitted 
goal of this savage armament. 

Nearer and nearer towards Rome drew the force, 1 
yet Clement remained immovable, half-paralysed, like 
some small bird fascinated by a snake. Amid torrents | 
of rain the mingled host of German Protestants and of 
Spanish fanatics slowly continued to advance, the 
ragged and starving men fording the swollen mountain- 
torrents with clasped hands in gangs of thirty, and for- 
getting their hunger and nakedness in the dazzling 
prospect of the luxury and wealth that awaited them in 
Rome. At Viterbo, the Knights of Rhodes 2 contrived 

1 Modesto Rastrelli, Duke Alexander's sole biographer, stoutly 
denies this common belief, and declares him to have been the son 
of Duke Lorenzo of Urbino by an unknown mother (Storta 
Alessandro de Medici, Primo Due a di Firenze, Firenze, 1781). 

2 The Knights of Rhodes, recently expelled from their ancient 
citadel, had been placed by Adrian VI. at Viterbo. The island 
Malta was granted to them by Charles V. in 1513. 



THE SACK OF ROME 315 

to save their town from pillage by contracting to supply 
the famished soldiers with provisions, a circumstance 
which enabled Bourbon's army to hasten southward, so 
I that on 4th May the vast assembly found itself encamped 
| at I sola Farnese, the site of ancient Veii, within a few 
miles of Rome itself. As a general anxious to avoid 
the possible disgrace of a military repulse and also as a 
Catholic prince, Bourbon was certainly willing to avoid 
the inevitable horrors of a sack of the Eternal City in the 
present temper of the men nominally under his command. 
Accordingly, from this point he began to send heralds 
into the city to open negotiations with Clement for the 
exaction of a ransom heavy enough to satisfy even his 
clamouring and mutinous troopers. But the Pope, whom 
it is kind to regard as temporarily insane through sheer 
terror, 1 would make no reply to any overtures coming 
from the discredited Constable of France. On the con- 
trary, now that it was really too late, a feverish activity 
of defence was reigning in the doomed city, where Renzo 
da Ceri had been appointed commander of the force it 
was intended to raise. More prudent than their vacillat- 
ing sovereign, the nobles and prelates of Rome had for 
some time been making ready for the disaster that 
Clement's continued folly was certain to bring on the 
city. Not a few had fled, in spite of the Pope's severe 
edict against any desertion or removal of treasure, and 
of those who remained, several had fortified their houses 
and engaged young men, ben pagati e ben trattati, to 
protect their property. Amongst these private residences 
carefully garrisoned against coming trouble, was the 
palace of the Santi Apostoli, at that moment inhabited 
by the Marchioness of Mantua, the intrepid Isabella d' 
Este, who had been staying some time in Rome, im- 

1 Quern Deus vult perdere, prius dementat. 



3 i6 THE MEDICI POPES 

portuning the unwilling and perplexed Clement to bestow 
a scarlet hat on her son Ercole. This boon the fascinat- 
ing Marchesa had at last secured, but only on the eve 
of the catastrophe which we are about to relate. For on 
4th May, Clement had held a consistory, whereat, in 
order to raise funds in this emergency, he had bestowed 
the rank of cardinal on four persons, Ercole Gonzaga 
being amongst them, and had thereby obtained the sum 
of 200,000 ducats for the papal treasury. But even this 
step, which in all fairness it must be stated Clement only 
took with the greatest reluctance and after much entreaty 
from his counsellors, proved eventually useless. On 
Sunday, 5th May, the Constable had marched from I sola 
Farnese to the Janiculan Hill on the western side of 
Rome, where he himself established his headquarters in 
the convent of Sant' Onofrio, whilst his army, composed 
of Spaniards, Germans and the Italian followers of the 
Colonna to the total number of 40,000, bivouacked in the 
form of a vast semicircle stretching from the Porta San 
Pancrazio to the Torrione, at the rear of the Vatican 
gardens. 

At the first flush of dawn on Monday, 6th May, a 
general attack was made with improvised scaling-ladders, 
but these efforts were at first checked by the papal 
bombardiers, among them being Benvenuto Cellini, who 
were serving the guns at Sant' Angelo. To aid the 
assailants at this critical moment, there arose however a 
thick white mist from the Tiber, enveloping the attacking 
force and obstructing the aim of the Roman gunners. 
In the confusion wrought by this sudden fog, the Con- 
stable of Bourbon, conspicuous in his shirt of silver mail, 
rode hither and thither, encouraging and directing the 
operations of attack, until a stray bullet struck the prince 
in the thigh, so that he fell mortally wounded to earth, 



THE SACK OF ROME 317 

I crying aloud in his agony, " Ha, Notre Dame, Je suis 
mort ! " The young Prince of Orange, who stood next 
in command, at once covered his dying leader's body 
with his military cloak and bore him to a chapel hard by, 
where a few hours later Bourbon expired. Although 
Jovius ascribes Bourbon's violent end to the direct ven- 
geance of Heaven and although numbers of persons in 
Rome, including that irrepressible braggart Benvenuto 
Cellini, dared to claim the honour of having fired the 
fatal shot which slew the Constable of France, the death 
of Bourbon proved in reality the worst misfortune that 
could have afflicted the Romans at this juncture, for it 
meant the loss of the solitary general who owned any 
restraining influence (and that was little enough) over the 
hungry and infuriated hordes, who were thirsting for the 
blood and treasure of the Eternal City. As it so fell, 
this untimely slaughter of a popular leader roused the 
passions of his men to fever heat, without giving any 
perceptible advantage to the besieged. For it was not 
long before the assailing party under cover of the mist 
had scaled the walls at several points, and was forcing 
its way into the Citta Leonina, the walled suburb that 
lies round St. Peter's. 

Although Germans, Spaniards and wild mountaineers 
from the estates of the Colonna were now beginning to 
pour into the devoted city, shouting triumphantly in three 
languages, plundering and slaying, yet so far the assailants 
had only carried the quarter round St. Peter's, so that 
there was still time for the Pope and his troops to with- 
draw across the Tiber, for the bridges to be demolished 
and for the passage of the stream to be vigorously de- 
fended against the huge mass of undisciplined foreigners, 
until the expected arrival of the Italian army under the 
Duke of Urbino, who was supposed to be pursuing 



3 i8 THE MEDICI POPES 

Bourbon. The papal general, Renzo da Ceri, however, 
seems to have lost either his courage or his wits in 
this terrible crisis, for he is reported to have given the 
signal for a general stampede into the neighbouring castle 
of Sant' Angelo. Yet the folly of such a step must have 
been obvious on reflection, for by filling the castle to its 
utmost capacity the defending party was cut into two 
divisions, each separated from the other by the inter- 
vening Tiber. A fearful scene of slaughter, confusion 
and struggling was thus brought about, the like of which 
had never yet been witnessed in all the previous sieges 
of Rome, and perhaps in the world's history. All persons, 
in every rank of life, from cardinals and prelates to 
servants and apprentices, pressed in one jostling mass 
towards the open drawbridge of the castle, whilst the 
crush of terrified humanity on the adjacent bridge of 
Sant' Angelo was so fierce that the plucky old Cardinal 
Pucci of Florence was with difficulty rescued from being 
trodden underfoot, and had finally to be hauled by means 
of ropes from the ground to a convenient window. 
Others, less fortunate than this prince of the Church, 
failed to effect an entrance and were quickly despatched 
by the on-rushing bloodthirsty invaders. In all, some 
3000 persons, of either sex, found shelter within the walls 
of this almost impregnable fortress, once the tomb of the 
Emperor Hadrian. 

Meanwhile the Pope himself, whose past deceit and 
vacillation had brought the unhappy city to this awfi 
extremity, had been praying since dawn for the suc< 
of the papal arms, ''vainly importuning an angry Provi 
dence at the altar ". The tidings of Bourbon's death 
given him a passing gleam of hope, and with an assumed 
air of majesty the Supreme Pontiff now declared himself 
ready to await the onset of the Barbarians in the event of 



THE SACK OF ROME 319 

their victory, clad in the pontifical robes and seated on 
the throne of state. But on hearing the uproar succeed- 
ing the entry of the foreigner and on learning the truth 
of the situation, Clement fell at once into an abject state 
of utter fear and indecision, and like most weak characters 
began to prate wildly of betrayal and ingratitude. Whilst 
weeping and complaining thus, the historian Paolo Giovio 
earnestly implored the distraught Pontiff to join the crowd 
of officials who were already hastening from the Vatican 
to the castle of Sant' Angelo by means of the stone 
corridor, whereby the prudent Alexander VI. had con- 
nected the Apostolic palace with its adjacent fortress. 
Leaving his oratory and proceeding along this passage, 
the eyes of the terrified Pope could perceive through its 
many apertures sickening sights of priests and citizens 
pursued and butchered by the halberds of the furious 
Landsknechts. " As Clement was hurrying with immense 
strides," so Giovio relates in his graphic narrative of this 
awful moment, "I, Paolo Giovio, who have written this 
account, held up the skirt of his long robe, so as to enable 
him to run faster, and I flung my own purple cloak about 
his head and shoulders, lest some Barbarian rascal in the 
crowd below might recognise the Pope by his white 
rochet, as he was passing a window, and take a chance shot 
at his fleeing form." 1 Thus with the timely aid of the 
Bishop of Nocera, did the miserable Clement VII. save 
his own life amid the general carnage and confusion by 
abandoning his palace and running with undignified speed 
into the shelter of the castle. 

With the Pope and thirteen of the cardinals and 
numberless prelates thus self-immured inside the strong 
walls of Sant' Angelo, the citizens of Rome were forcibly 
driven out of the Trastevere, whilst before sunset the 

1 Vita Pompeii Colonnae. 



3 2o THE MEDICI POPES 

Imperialists had carried by storm the Ponte Sisto, which 
was being held with a desperation worthy of the old 
Roman valour. With the capture of this bridge the 
whole city lay entirely at the mercy of the Imperialists, 
who at once proceeded to massacre every man, woman 
or child that had not as yet found a temporary refuge in 
the fortified palace of some prince or cardinal. Yet even 
these horrors constituted but a mild prelude to the rapine 
and villainy of the morrow. For at daybreak of the 
seventh day of May the terrible Sack of Rome, which 
marks an era in the annals of Italy and indeed of Europe, 
began in deadly earnest. The outrages of the savage 
troopers, maddened with wine and fanaticism, are too 
terrible to relate, and the existing descriptions of eye- 
witnesses, even at this distance of time, still arouse the 
liveliest feelings of horror, pity and indignation, for the 
event was a repetition of the sack of Prato, but on an 
extended scale and with many additional barbarities. ; 
The men of the three nations engaged in this fiendish 
task exhibited their national vices in the horrible work, j 
for the German Lands knee kts distinguished themselves j 
by their drunkenness and their profanation of the churches j 
and convents ; the Spaniards by their heartless and re- 
volting tortures upon every unhappy creature that fell ! 
into their clutches ; and the Italians by the thorough : 
manner in which they pillaged every house, even the ! 
hovels of the poor watermen, carrying away the very j 
nails and hinges of the doors. An exorbitant ransom 
was first demanded of all holders of the fortified resid- 
ences in the city, but this was only a preliminary step to 
the raiding and ransacking of all the buildings of Rome ; 
with the exception of the strongly fortified mansions of 
the Colonna the palaces of the Cancelleria and of the 
Apostoli. In vain did the Imperialist cardinals and pre- 



THE SACK OF ROME 321 

lates, the foreign nobles and even the ambassadors, cry 
out for exemption ; all were forced to surrender their 
goods and were brutally slaughtered at the first sign of 
argument or resistance. Many of the pampered princes 
of the Church were carried as hostages from one place 
to another in quest of an increased ransom, and amongst 
others thus maltreated was the Cardinal of Gaeta, the 
late opponent of Martin Luther, who with a fool's cap 
on his head was hustled with kicks and buffets from the 
jeering Lutherans towards the castle of Sant' Angelo, 
so that the imprisoned Pope might perceive the fate 
awaiting himself on the capture of the fortress. Noble 
ladies had their ears and arms cut off by the sword for 
the sake of pendants or bracelets, and even the fingers 
of prelates were thus mutilated to secure the episcopal 
seal rings. The sewers and the very tombs were rifled 
in the mad search for hidden treasure, the corpse of 
Julius II. being dragged from its coffin and the papal 
ornaments fought for and sold to the active Jews, who 
as usual were reaping a rich harvest out of the public 
misfortunes. The relics of St. Peter's and the Lateran, 
even the most revered and venerable, were bandied 
about the streets and made the objects of insult and 
blasphemy by the Lutheran soldiers. The rich vest- 
ments of the sacristies were seized to clothe the many 
courtesans of Rome, who drank and gambled on the 
altars of the polluted churches with their swinish pro- 
tectors. Priests were forced to take part in blasphemous 
orgies, or were murdered for refusing to obey. In the 
halls of the palaces of cardinals, nobles and ambassadors, 
the plebeian masters of the Eternal City ate and drank 
to excess with Roman matrons or high-born prelates to 
wait humbly on every behest. Everywhere was strewn 
the wealth of the richest city in Christendom ; valuable 

21 



322 THE MEDICI POPES 

manuscripts from famous libraries were used to form the 
litter of the troopers' horses ; and it was only with diffi- 
culty that Philibert of Orange saved the priceless Vatican 
collection from a similar fate, although this nominal 
general was himself dwelling in the Apostolic palace. 
Such was the condition of the city of the Csesars and 
the Popes, when Cardinal Pompeo Colonna returned 
thither in haste on hearing of the siege and sack. Even 
this fierce enemy of the Medici and the secular Papacy 
was overwhelmed with dismay and fell to shedding bitter 
tears of remorse at the appalling spectacle of desolation, 
mourning and massacre that met his eyes. If Giovio 
is to be credited, the Colonna did what he could to 
ameliorate the state of Rome, and his presence was 
probably of some use later in arranging negotiations with 
the culpable fugitive in the castle of Sant' Angelo. 1 

Meanwhile, the unhappy Clement remained secure in 
the stronghold of Sant' Angelo amid sounds, sights and 
stenches that must have sickened him both morally and 
physically, and with the prospect of an ignominious and 
painful death before him in the possible event of the 
capture of the castle through treachery or a successful 
assault. Once more, as in the days of Pope Boniface 
VIII., was Christ openly insulted and threatened in the 
person of His Vicar on earth ; once more was the ill- 
omened banner of France with the golden lilies (that 
Bourbon bore) publicly displayed in the purlieus of the 
Holy City. 2 Vainly, by the clear light of morning am 
evening, did the harassed Pope cast his eyes anxiousl; 

1 Jovius, Vita Pompeii Colonnae ; C. Milanesi, // Sacco di Rome 
del MDXXVII.) etc., etc. 

2 Veggio in Alagna entrar lo Fiordaliso 
E nel Vicario suo Cristo esser catto, etc. 

Purgatorio, canto xx. 



THE SACK OF ROME 323 

across the distant Campagna for any sign of the army 
of the supine and perfidious Duke of Urbino, on which 
with folly unutterable Clement always professed to rely. 
Against the great circular mass of the castle, as around a 
solitary rock buffeted by an angry sea, surged one after 
another the fierce assaults of the besiegers, who openly 
shouted their intention to hang the immured Pontiff; 
the Spaniards, because he was the enemy of their Em- 
peror, and the Germans for his late persecution of their 
beloved Martin Luther. The fortress was, however, 
defended meanwhile with great skill and devotion by its 
lieutenant, Antonio Santacroce, his efforts being ably 
seconded by Benvenuto Cellini, whose vivid if egotistic 
account of the siege of Sant' Angelo reads like a lurid 
incident from some historical romance. 1 Living on the 
coarsest of food and enduring the sweltering heats of 
a Roman May, Clement and his companions spent in 
the ancient tomb of Hadrian some five weeks of hunger, 
misery, privation and uncertainty, whilst the overwhelm- 
ing indignity of his position almost slew the Pope with 
mingled grief and shame. For within a fortnight of the 
capture of Rome, the news was brought to the helpless 
Pontiff that his agent Cardinal Passerini had been ex- 
pelled from Florence ; that a new republic had been 
proclaimed amidst general rejoicings ; that his own effigy 
had been dragged from the church of the Anunziata and 
hacked to pieces with contumely in the streets. And 
this evil intelligence was still further aggravated by the 
report of the conduct of Filippo and Clarice Strozzi on 
this occasion, for that intrepid niece of Leo X., 2 who 
hated and despised the bastard Clement, had railed in 
public at the two youths Ippolito and the beloved Ales- 

1 Vita di B. Cellini. 

2 Her father was Piero II., eldest son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. 



324 THE MEDICI POPES 

sandro, and in the plainest of terms had denounced their 
base birth, even adding her opinion that Clement himself 
had no right to fill the office of Pope. With the con- 
tinual thunder of cannon in his ears ; with the horrible 
scenes daily enacted below the walls of the prison-fortress ; 
with fever and famine hourly gaining ground amongst 
the refugees of the castle, did Clement drag out a miser- 
able life-in-death for more than a month. With Rome ] 
in ruins at his feet and with Florence revolted from his j 
yoke, and with himself an universal object of contempt 
and execration throughout all Italy, Clement at last 
decided to capitulate unconditionally to the Emperor's 
representative on 7th June after thirty days of misery 
untold. 

Although the Emperor affected to feel extreme com- 
passion for his helpless captive and had even commanded 
the Imperial court to don mourning in atonement for the 
barbarities of the sack of Rome, he nevertheless per- 
sisted in keeping Clement a close prisoner within the \ 
castle walls, where the long hot summer and autumn were J 
passed in sickness, lamentation and dire suspense. At : 
length the Pope, who for some time past had noticed a 
decreasing vigilance amongst his personal guards, plucked 
up sufficient courage to meditate escape, with the result 
that on 5th December in the disguise of a gardener he 
eluded the night-watch and got clear of the citadel which 
had been his prison for so many weary months. Hasten- 
ing northward towards the Umbrian mountains, Clement 
hurried with a few followers to the almost impregnable 
city of Orvieto, set upon lofty precipices of tawny rock 
and approached from the deep valley of the Paglia by a 
solitary mule track. Taking up his residence in the 
drear deserted episcopal palace, the cowering and humi- 



THE SACK OF ROME 325 

Hated Medici found some degree of liberty, but even less 
actual comfort than he had experienced in his Roman 
fortress. In any case, Clement by his flight obtained no 
respite from political cares and dangers, for scarcely had 
he arrived weary and alarmed at Orvieto, than there was 
announced the advent of an important embassy from the 
English court, including Dr. Stephen Gardiner and Dr. 
Edward Foxe, who were come to demand a most 
difficult and dangerous favour of the fugitive Pontiff. 
For the object of the embassy was to obtain the Pope's 
authority to annul Henry VIII.'s marriage with his 
Queen, Catherine of Aragon, the aunt of the omnipotent 
Emperor, on whose caprice or policy depended at this 
moment the very salvation of the secular Papacy itself. 
Rousing himself to face this new dilemma with Medicean 
cunning if not with manly courage, Clement proceeded to 
temporise with the English envoys by holding out vague 
hopes of his ultimate consent to King Henry's petition, 
if only his former position of independence could be re- 
covered. Foxe and Gardiner, who were thus dismissed 
half-satisfied with the nebulous promises of the wily 
Medici, gave on their return home a most melancholy 
account of the miserable plight of Clement and his court, 
as well as of the squalor of Orvieto, " where all things are 
in such a scarcity and dearth as we think have not been 
seen in any place ; and that not only in victuals, which 
can not be brought into the town in any great quantity, 
by reason that everything is conveyed by asses and 
mules, but also in other necessaries. . . . Orvieto may well 
be called Urbs Vetus, for every man in all languages at 
his entry would give it none other name. We can not 
well tell the Pope should be noted in liberty, being here, 
where hunger, scarcity, ill-favoured lodging, ill air, and 
many other incommodities keep him and all his as straitly 



326 THE , MEDICI POPES 

as he was ever kept in Castle Angelo. It is aliqua 
mutatio soli, sed nulla liber tatis ; and in manner the 
Pope could not deny to Mr. Gregory, 1 ' it were better to 
be in captivity in Rome than here at liberty'. The 
Pope lieth in an old palace of the bishops of the city, 
ruinous and decayed, where or we came to his privy 
chamber, we pass three chambers, all naked and un- 
hanged, the roofs fallen down, and as one can guess, 
thirty persons, rifraf and others, standing in the chambers 
for a garnishment. And as for the Pope's bed-chamber, 
all the apparel in it was not worth twenty nobles, bed and 
all. "2 

In four months' time, however, the harassed Pope, 
who must have detested the Emperor, and the Emperor, 
who must have despised beyond measure the ever-schem- 
ing Pontiff, were again re-united in supposed amity by 
the terms of the treaty of Barcelona, to which selfish 
compact of mutual convenience Francis of France gave 
his adhesion during the summer of 1529. This cynical 
triumvirate of Pope, King and Emperor was destined to 
prove fatal to the newly proclaimed liberties of the Re- 
public of Florence, now the sole Italian city of importance, 
save Venice, which remained free from foreign domina- 
tion. Abandoned by her historic ally of France and now 
marked out for his certain prey by the vindictive 
Clement, the Florentine Republic possessed scarcely a 
chance of retaining her independence in face of this recent 
political combination, which had been called into existence 
by Clement chiefly with the object of recovering the city 
for himself and the papal favourites. And to carry out 
this unholy scheme of aggression, Clement, with a callous 
villainy that to this day has been neither forgotten nor for- 

1 Gregorio da Casale. 

2 State Papers, vol. vii., p. 63. 




CLEMENT VII AND FRANCIS I OF FRANCE 



THE SACK OF ROME 327 

given in Italy, must needs contract with the Prince of 
Orange, who had been his own gaoler in Rome and whose 
troops had so lately desecrated his capital, to take com- 
mand of this armament necessary for the reduction of 
Florence. Not a small portion of the Pope's hastily levied 
force consisted of German and Spanish adventurers 
openly urged to enlist by promise of an expected sack of 
the rebellious city of the Medici. " Aha, Signora Fiorenza, 
get ready your rich brocades, for we are coming to 
measure them by the pike and not by the ell ! " became a 
constant and mirth-provoking witticism amongst these 
savage and spoiled mercenaries, as they were busily 
furbishing their weapons in readiness for the expected 
march northward, towards the valley of the Arno. 

On the 24th day of October, 1529, appeared the 
army of the Prince of Orange before the walls of the 
devoted city, and for the third and last time in history 
did the venerable Republic of Florence prepare to do battle 
for existence against the wealth, power and influence of 
the House of Medici. But whilst the siege was being 
prosecuted with varying fortune, the formal act of re- 
conciliation between Charles and Clement took place in 
the opening month of the following year, 1530, at Bologna 
which had been fixed upon as the most convenient place 
for the Imperial coronation. This splendid public in- 
vestiture of Charles V. with the Iron Crown of the Holy 
Roman Empire may be said to have sealed the fate of 
the struggling Florentines, who had now to chose between 
the inevitable issues of a successful assault on the city 
followed by the horrors of a sack, or of a peaceful sur- 
render to the Medici on the most humiliating terms. 
Fortunately perhaps for the people of Florence, the latter 
course was thrust upon them through the death of their 
brave citizen Federigo Ferruccio in the battle of Gavinana 



328 



THE MEDICI POPES 



and the appalling treachery of the Republic's own paid 
commander, Malatesta Baglioni ; these two disasters 
combined to enforce a bloodless capitulation upon the 
unhappy city, which formally opened its gates to the 
Imperial and papal army on I2th August after a siege of 
nearly ten months. 

And although a clause actually providing for the pre- 
servation of the time-honoured liberties and privileges of 
the city had been inserted amidst the terms of surrender, 
the Florentines themselves must have been only too 
well aware, from Clement's notorious political reputation, 
that such a safeguard would never be respected by the 
unscrupulous Pope. Indeed, it was evident to all men 
that Florence lay absolutely at the mercy of the tri- 
umphant Clement, the relative and patron of the two 
youths, Ippolito and Alessandro de' Medici, who had 
three years before been ignominously chased hence. 
Even assuming Clement's determination to win back 
Florence was natural if not laudable, it becomes im- 
possible to censure too strongly his brutal and unpatriotic 
methods of regaining the city ; whilst the common belief 
that his extreme eagerness to accomplish this end was 
prompted by paternal anxiety to push the fortunes of 
his supposed natural son, the ill-favoured Alessandro, 
now Duke of Civita Penna by the Emperor's favour, 
only makes the Pope's conduct appear less edifying and 
excusable. Although later historians have perhaps 
painted Clement's tyranny over recaptured Florence 
even blacker than its reality, yet it speaks eloquently for 
the Pontiff's own sense of his shame in the late transac- 
tion that he no more ventured to show his face in the 
streets of his native city during his lifetime, but ever 
contented himself with arranging and controlling the 
new Florentine government from a distance. 



CHAPTER XIV 

LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 

Pope Clement VII. died unregretted even by those nearest to 
his person ; deceitful, avaricious, cruel and heartless, he had all the 
bad without any of the redeeming qualities of his race ; he was acute, 
able and clear-sighted as a statesman, but weak and unsteady in his 
resolutions, and never by any chance sincere. He was detested by 
he Romans as the author of all their calamities and by everybody 
slse as one of the basest men and worst Pontiffs that ever wore the 
sacred seal of the Fisherman (H. E. Napier, Florentine History). 

DURING the summer months of 1528, shortly 
after his return from dismal Orvieto to his 
devastated capital, Clement, once again recon- 
iled to the Emperor, began to take active measures to 
urther the career of the younger and more favoured of 
lis relatives, Ippolito and Alessandro de' Medici. As 
o X.'s Italian policy had largely been based upon his 
imbitious projects on behalf of the papal nephew Lorenzo 
le' Medici, so Clement VII., a true imitator of his cousin 
Leo, now concentrated all his efforts on obtaining a 
jtrincipality for the boy Alessandro, whom shrewd but ill- 
.atured persons were inclined to designate as the Pope's 
ffspring rather than as the unacknowledged natural son 
f the late Duke Lorenzo of Urbino. As neither Ippolito 
or Alessandro were in reality closely related to the 
fontiff, the latter in particular being (if his presumed 
jarentage were admitted) only the grandson of Piero il 
azzo, Clement's first cousin, it seems scarcely possible 
) deny the probable correctness of this supposition of 

329 



33 o THE MEDICI POPES 

the Pope's true paternity of this hideous and horrible 
youth, who through papal and Imperial influence was ere 
long to be acclaimed as Duke of Florence. Towards 
Ippolito, however, the attractive if headstrong son of the 
gracious Giuliano and the favourite of his late uncle 
Leo X., the Pope bore far less affection ; and although 
Ippolito was a year or more older than Alessandro, was 
comely and courteous, and was far from being unpopular 
with the Florentines, yet Clement was evidently bent on 
removing this young prince out of the path of Alessandro's 
advancement by forcibly raising him to the purple. In 
vain did the high-mettled and pleasure-loving Ippolito 
plead against this imposition of an ecclesiastical career for 
which he was so obviously unsuited by natural inclination 
the Pope, who had his own private and selfish reasons 
for this resolve, was inexorable, and eventually this 
prince, in spite of his base birth, his own protests and his 
manifest unfitness, was compelled to enter the ranks ol 
the Sacred College. By this step, so shamelessly re- 
pugnant on all moral grounds, did Clement accomplish a 
cherished piece of statecraft, whereby he might not only 
secure the hoped-for dominion of Florence for his beloved 
Alessandro, but might also at the same time set a definite 
barrier to any marriage in the future between Giuliano 's 
son and his cousin, the " Duchessina," Caterina de' Medici. 
For a youthful attachment had, it seems, already been 
formed between the handsome stripling and the little 
pale-faced big-eyed girl, the sole heiress of her House, 
who of these two papal nephews detested the ugly 
Alessandro (her so-called half-brother) and adored the 
good-looking, generous and high-spirited Ippolito. Upon 
the mere possibility of such an union Clement looked with 
a most jealous eye for two reasons : first, because such an 
alliance would operate to spoil the chance of Alessandro's 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 331 

sovereignty over Florence ; and second, because he hoped 
to bestow Catherine's hand upon some prince of a reigning 
European House, whereby certain political advantages 
I might accrue to himself and the Holy See. 

Having thus compelled the reluctant Ippolito to 
I accept a Cardinal's hat, Clement, who had for some time 
I past been ailing with a sickness accounted mortal, made 
I a forcible appeal to the Emperor to employ his good 
offices for the furtherance of the career of Alessandro, 
now an exile in Rome ever since his ignominious expulsion 
from Florence in the previous year. " If it be the will 
of His Divine Majesty," wrote Clement from his sick-bed, 
" to take me, His unworthy servant, to Himself, I re- 
commend to your Sovereign Power mine exiled nephew, 1 
since no longer can I urge forward his interests by mine 
own exertions. It is my sincere petition that you will 
replace him in that position which of justice he lately filled, 
and of which he has recently been deprived by the evil 
behaviour of others. O let your performance of this 
meritorious service be made as an atonement and com- 
pensation for all that has been done in the past against 
my proper dignity ! Further than this I crave nothing 
of you, and I give you my paternal blessing."' 

To this urgent appeal of a doting parent or patron, 
the Emperor replied by creating Alessandro Duke of 
Civita Penna, and later by abetting and assisting in 
Clement's schemes for the reduction of Florence. More- 
over, a suitable match for this lucky young prince was 
suggested by the magnanimous Charles himself, who 
offered to bestow his own natural daughter, Margaret of 
Austria, in matrimony with this Medicean upstart. Pope 

1 Nipote. The word is very loosely used in Italian to express 
nephew, grandson or (as in this case) any near relative. 

2 Rastrelli, Vita di Alessandro de Medici, p. 41. 



33 a THE MEDICI POPES 

and Emperor being completely in accord as to the neces- 
sity of erecting some principality for this base-born pair 
in the ultimate event of their marriage, it became an easy 
matter for Clement, with the Emperor's connivance, to 
form the reconquered city of Florence into a duchy for 
this purpose. On 26th July, 1531, Alessandro de' Medici, 
aged scarcely twenty years, 1 was proclaimed Duke of 
Florence, and thus in the person of this ignoble youth 
was every lingering vestige of the old Florentine 
Republic definitely and forever swept away. Clement, 
it is true, did not survive to witness this cherished union 
between his favourite and the young Margaret of Austria, 
but he lived long enough to be tormented in mind by 
the sinister reports from Florence of the conduct and 
reputation of the duke, whose reign of five years was 
marked throughout by acts of violence, despotism and 
illegality, and ended worthily in the brutal murder of the 
tyrant himself within the ancient palace of the Medici. 2 

Seeing that the final extinction of the old civic 
liberties and the subsequent rule of this repulsive young 
prince were due solely to the selfish ambition of Clement, 
it is not surprising to find that the memory of the second 
Medicean Pontiff is still held in deep abhorrence by the 
descendants of his countrymen. Yet the " Sala di 
Clemente Settimo," with its frescoes and portraits by 
Vasari, still exists for a memorial in that Florentine 
palace, whose great hall likewise contains a fine piece of 
statuary representing the Pope conferring the imperial 
diadem on Charles V., who kneels at his feet. Never- 

1 The date of Alessandro's birth is unknown, but it probably be- 
longs to the year 1512. Ippolito de' Medici was born in 1511. 

2 Amongst the few existing memorials of this evil Duke of 
Florence may be mentioned the coronet and coat-of-arms, in 
coloured terra-cotta, affixed to the fa9ade of the Florentine church 
of Ogni Santi. 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 333 

theless, it is remarkable that, either by design or acci- 
' dent, the vast picture galleries of Florence contain no 
prominent portrait of this papal betrayer of his native 
city ; although in the roof of one of the gorgeous saloons 
in the Pitti Palace the observant stranger may detect the 
form of Clement VII. seated beside that of his popular 
cousin, Leo X. 

Having thus set Alessandro firmly in the seat of 
power over the helpless Florentines and having curbed 
the highly inconvenient energy of the young Ippolito by 
creating him a cardinal, Clement now found himself free 
to turn his attention to the third member of the family 
who had fallen under his personal guardianship. This 
was of course Caterina de' Medici, who is described by 
the Venetian ambassador Soriano at this time as being 
" small in stature, thin and with indifferent features, but 
with the large eyes that are characteristic of all the 
Medici ". 

The unfortunate orphan girl, the last legitimate sur- 
vivor of the senior branch of her House, had already 
entered her fourteenth year when the Pope began to 
entertain proposals for her speedy marriage from all 
quarters of Europe, for with an ample dowry and various 
political pretensions the youthful heiress found no lack of 
aspirants to her hand. Amongst her many suitors by 
proxy at this time was numbered the young Duke of 
Richmond, the favourite natural son of Henry VIII. of 
| England ; but it is needless to state that the crafty and 
cold-blooded Clement looked to secure a far more brilliant 
husband for his ward than a mere English duke. In the 
delicate art of matchmaking indeed the innate cunning of 
| Clement's unpleasant character was fully revealed, for 
I the Pope was now scheming steadily to ensure the 
promised union of Margaret of Austria with the Duke of 



334 THE MEDICI POPES 

Florence and at the same time to arrange a marriage for 
the little Catherine with a royal prince of the House of 
France. For by this dual alliance of a daughter of the 
Emperor and a son of King Francis with his own re- 
lations, the restless Pope fancied he was going to 
strengthen enormously his own political position. Yet 
even on this meditated match with the French court the 
shifty Clement outwardly seemed scarcely to know his 
own mind, for "he speaks about it," comments the 
Venetian envoy, "at one moment cordially, and at 
another coldly, according to his irresolute nature ". But 
in all probability Clement was merely anxious to conceal 
both from Francis and the Emperor his extreme eager- 
ness to grasp at so brilliant and valuable a family con- 
nection as this French alliance which he had good reason 
to fear the Emperor might flatly forbid. The final 
settlement of Catherine's betrothal to one out of her host 
of suitors was therefore deferred, until the projected 
meeting which Clement and Charles had arranged should 
take place at Bologna towards the close of the year 

1532. 

Ill and depressed, yet preferring at any cost to under- 
take this second arduous journey to Bologna rather than 
to give Charles the opportunity of traversing the Papal 
States so as to confer with him in Rome itself, Clement 
set out for the appointed place about the middle of 
November, 1532, choosing the more difficult and danger- 
ous route by way of Perugia in order to avoid a halt 
within sight of Florence, although his favourite Alessandro 
was now reigning there as duke. In the papal retinue 
during this journey northwards rode King Henry VIII.'s 
envoy, Dr. Edmund Bonner, afterwards Bishop of Lon- 
don, and it is through the pen of this English prelate that 
we possess a curious account of the trials and difficulties 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 335 

the ailing Pontiff was forced to endure on his way to 
meet a master whom he cordially detested, yet had per- 
force ever to humour and reverence. 1 

"To advertise your Mastership of our news," so 
writes Bonner to Thomas Cromwell on Christmas Eve, 
1532, u you shall understand that the i8th of November 
the Pope, taking with him only in his journey and com- 
pany six cardinals with no great number, entered his 
journey towards Bologna, not keeping the common way, 
which, as you know, is by Florence and foul enough, but 
by Perugia and the lands of the Church ; six other car- 
dinals to make up a brown dozen, and yet not all good 
saints, taking their journey by Florence with the rest of 
the company. The said journey to the Pope, by reason 
of the continual rain and foul way, with other unfortunable 
accidents, as the loss of certain of his mules and the 
breaking of the leg of one Turkish horse that he had, special 
good, and above all for the evil lodging that he had with 
his company, was wondrous painful ; the Pope divers 
time compelled, by reason of the foulness and danger of 
the way, to go on foot the space of a mile or two, and his 
company ; besides that pleasure and pastime, for lack of 
a feather-bed, compelled to lie in the straw." 

Yet Clement, though sick in mind and body, struggled 
onward through wet weather and over miry roads, 
finally reaching his goal on 7th December. " The 
Pope's entry into Bononie," continues Bonner in his 
letter to Cromwell, "was two times, the first upon Our 
Lady's Even 2 secretly, without ceremonies or pride, only 
within the walls of the city ; the other was in Die Con- 
ceptionis with ceremonies accustomed, and yet no great 
company ; the Pope riding in his long white kirtle, hav- 

1 State Papers of Henry VIII., vol. vii., p. 394. 

2 Eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8th December. 



336 THE MEDICI POPES 

ing his rochet upon the same and a stole about his neck, 
and so coming to his palace. Of any miracles done 
upon any halt or lame or otherwise, I heard not of." l 

This second meeting arranged between Pope and 
Emperor proved neither so gorgeous nor so animated an 
affair as the late spectacle of the Imperial coronation 
in this very city of Bologna, held only two years before. 
A splendid pageant, gratifying alike to the ambition of 
Charles and to the pride of the Medici, had then con- 
trived to shed a lustre of cheerfulness and content upon 
the participants in the ceremony of 1530; whereas at 
this moment it was but a question of urgent business. 
The harassed and anxious Clement had two special 
objects to obtain out of the conference ; the postpone- 
ment of the calling of a General Council of the Church, 
which the Emperor was being strongly urged to convoke ; 
and the settlement of the little Catherine's matrimonial 
prospects. As to the first, it was openly said that the 
very sound of the word "Council" always struck a 
pallor into the nervous face of the Medici, who had risen 
by a course of unprecedented intrigues to the highest 
dignity in Christendom, and consequently was ever 
haunted by the fear that such a representative assembly 
would immediately clamour for the deposition of the 
impostor Clement VII., on account of his illegitimacy. 
With regard to the second matter of importance, the 
Pope was most anxious to obtain Charles's approval of 
the suggested French marriage, and yet at the same time 
to make certain of the projected match between his 
favourite Alessandro and the Emperor's daughter, 
Margaret. 

Clement's methods of gaining a political point were 

1 State Papers of Henry VII L, op. cit. 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 337 

always deceitful, mean and tortuous, yet they were not 
unfrequently successful, as in this instance, when he was 
able to return to Rome early in the year 1533, well satis- 
fied with the reflection that he had staved off, if only for 
a time, the dreaded convocation of a General Council of 
the Church, and had also secured the Emperor's grudging 
assent to the French marriage ; an assent, however, which 
Charles had given carelessly, since in his own mind he 
could not conceive of the splendid Francis of France 
seriously intending to allow any son of his House to mate 
with the daughter of a Florentine burgher line, with "one 
who was little more than a private gentlewoman ". In 
the late duel of diplomatic skill, therefore, at Bologna the 
wily Pope certainly outwitted the Emperor, for Clement 
had made sure beforehand of the sincerity of the French 
King's professions with regard to the disposal of the poor 
little heiress, who chanced to be the Pope's most valuable 
political asset. Instructions were hurriedly conveyed to 
the French envoys at Bologna, the Cardinals Tournon 
and Grammont, to hasten with the documents bearing on 
the forthcoming nuptials of Caterina de' Medici, titular 
Duchess of Urbino, with Henri de Valois, Duke of 
Orleans, second son of King Francis I. Much to his 
surprise and annoyance, Charles perceived too late that 
his rival of France was desperately in earnest, whilst his 
.contemptuous hatred of Clement must have been im- 
measurably increased, when he learned of the Pope's 
intention to preside in person at the approaching wedding 
festivities at Marseilles, which had by mutual consent of 
King and Pontiff been fixed upon as a convenient spot 
for the important event. 

Early in September, 1533, Catherine prepared to leave 
Florence, where she was then residing, in order to pro- 
ceed on her journey to France. Attended by her uncle- 

22 



338 THE MEDICI POPES 

in-law, the brilliant but dissolute Filippo Strozzi 1 and by 
her cousins Palla Rucellai and Maria Salviati, she made 
her way to Porto Venere on the Tuscan coast, and 
thence taking ship after a week's voyage she disembarked 
at Nice, there to await news of the coming of the 
Pope. Clement meanwhile had set out from Rome, and 
sailing from the mouth of the Arno in the first week of 
October, reached Marseilles on the eleventh day of that 
month. At this port Francis and his court had already 
arrived some days previously in order to do honour to 
the expected bride and to the presence of His Holiness, 
the approach of whose flotilla was duly reported to those 
on shore by watchers posted on the towers of the Chateau 
d'If. Stepping on to the quay at Marseilles, Clement 
was received in solemn form by a deputation of French 
bishops, cardinals and abbots ; and on the following 
morning, which was a Sunday, the Pope entered the city 
in full panoply of state, the two young Dukes of Orleans 
and of Angouleme each holding one of the Pontiffs 
hands. On Monday, I3th October, the King and Queen 
of France with a magnificent equipage approached to 
welcome their illustrious guest, and after this meeting of 
Clement and Francis nine days were consumed in an 
endless round of gorgeous banquets and ceremonies, 
varied by occasional conferences of a political nature. 
Thus was passed the interval of waiting for the bride's 
arrival, which was delayed until the twenty-third day of 
the month, when Caterina de' Medici, attended by twelve 
maids-of-honour, at last made her appearance. As at the 
nuptials of Catherine's own father, the young Lorenzo, 
Duke of Urbino, the French court was deeply impressed 

1 Husband of Clarice de' Medici (d. 1528), the only sister of 
Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, Catherine's father. 




CATERINA DE' MEDICI, QUEEN OF FRANCE 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 339 

by the marvellous ostentation of the Medici, 1 nor did any 
of those present care to reflect upon the recent severe 
measures of taxation applied in Rome and Florence, in 
order to obtain the wherewithal to make so brave a 
display. On Tuesday, 28th October, Clement himself, 
to give greater solemnity and weight to the event, per- 
formed the ceremony of the marriage which constituted 
his ward the lawful wife of the young Henri de Valois, 
Duke of Orleans. As the bride of fourteen years old 
was thus united to the youthful bridegroom of fifteen 
amidst all the pomp incidental to the wedding of a scion 
of the royal House of France, Clement must have felt 
an exquisite thrill of complete and satisfying triumph 
in the successful issue of his restless intriguing ; a sense 
of triumph which neither past failure nor present ill-health 
nor encroaching age could at such a moment blight. In 
truth, the chief diplomatic fruit of all his past intrigue and 
deceit was represented by this political union of the great 
niece of Leo X. with a prince of France, the first truly 
royal marriage to which a Medici had as yet aspired ; and 
it is again to Clement's ambition that the forthcoming 
crimes and troubles of the Medicean Queen's subsequent 
regency in France must indirectly be ascribed. 

The unavoidable fatigues and constant excitement of 
this late visit to the French court at Marseilles seem to 
have undermined the waning powers of the Pontiff, who 
survived the consummation of his diplomatic success 
less then a twelvemonth. Returning from the shores of 

1 A splendid relic of Clement's liberality towards Francis I. on 
this occasion is to be found in the magnificent casket by Valeric of 
Vicenza, preserved in the Gem Room of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. 
This beautiful work of art contains twenty-four panels of rock-crystal 
set in silver gilt, and elaborately engraved with subjects from the 
New Testament. It bears also the arms and papal insignia of its 
donor, Clement VII. 



340 THE MEDICI POPES 

France to his capital, Clement found discontent openly 
exhibited in Rome, whilst his private life was made miser- 
able by the ceaseless strife waged between the two papal 
nephews. For the martial Ippolito was appearing 
anxious to divest himself of the purple, so as to dispute 
for the mastery of the enthralled Florentines with the 
unpopular tyrant already in possession ; nor could any 
threats or entreaties on Clement's part terminate the 
endless and unseemly quarrels between the Cardinal and 
the Duke of Florence ; a city that, for reasons previously 
mentioned, the Pope was determined nevermore to visit. 
A constant dread of the Imperial vengeance for his late 
alliance with the .French King likewise haunted the 
scheming Pope, who perceived the Emperor deeply 
incensed by the recent papal policy and more than ever 
filled with the idea of convoking a General Council of 
the Church to discuss and settle the many burning ques- 
tions that were vexing Western Christendom. The 
personal quarrel with Henry VIII. once his warmest 
royal supporter over Queen Catherine's divorce pro- 
ceedings, and the consequent formal revolt of England 
from the supremacy of the Holy See, must also have 
weighed heavily on the mind of Clement, who but for 
an ever-present dread of the Emperor would in all prob- 
ability have granted Henry's petition a dozen times over 
rather than risk the catastrophe, which the helpless Pope 
was himself, by the irony of an inexorable fate, called 
upon to hasten. Yet Clement continued to the last 
contriving, trifling, proposing, prevaricating through all 
his troubles, finding apparently no relaxation from the 
cares wherewith he was beset save by creating fresh 
embarrassments on all sides. 

Harassed on all sides by domestic quarrelling and poli- 
tical difficulties, it is not surprising to find that by the 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 341 

summer of 1 534 the exhausted Pope was sinking fast to the 
grave, a prey to one of those slow intermittent fevers for 
which the climate of Rome was once so notorious. All 
Italy, and indeed all Europe, awaited his expected end with 
ill-concealed satisfaction, so that almost the only known in- 
stance of regret or sympathy with the dying man on this 
occasion came from a humble source, namely, from the 
jeweller Benvenuto Cellini, whom Clement had patronised 
in the past and with whom he not unfrequently deigned 
to hold conversation on artistic matters. During the last 
few months of Clement's existence, Cellini had been en- 
gaged in preparing and stamping certain medals for the 
Pope, amongst them one showing a design of Moses 
striking the rock to obtain water, with the explanatory 
legend Ut bibat populus. " Having finished my work," 
narrates the prince of jewellers in his famous Autobio- 
graphy, "on 22nd September, I waited on the Pope, 
whom I found very ill in bed. Yet he gave me the 
most kindly reception, telling me of his wish to inspect 
both the medals themselves and the instruments where- 
with I had stamped them. He ordered his spectacles and 
a candle to be brought, but nevertheless he could discern 
nothing of my workmanship. So he set to examine the 
medals by the touch of his fingers, but after feeling thus 
for some length of time he fetched a deep sigh, and told 
one of the courtiers he was sorry for me, but if it pleased 
God to restore his health, he would make me a satis- 
factory payment. Three days later he died, and I had 
only my labour for my pains. I took courage notwith- 
standing, comforting myself with the thought that I had 
acquired so much renown by means of these medals, that 
I might depend on future employment from the next 
Pope, and perhaps with better results. By such re- 
flections did I prevent myself from feeling dejected." 



342 THE MEDICI POPES 

Proceeding with this account of his private affairs, 
Cellini adds that some days later, on the occasion of 
Clement's lying-in-state, he "put on his sword and re- 
paired to St. Peter's, where he kissed the feet of the 
deceased Pontiff, nor could he refrain from tears ", 1 

This curious expression of modified sorrow exhibited 
by Cellini for his late patron stands, however, almost alone 
amidst the universal outburst of relief and jubilation at 
the news of the long-desired death of the despised and 
discredited Medici, which occurred on 25th September, 
1 534, in the fifty -seventh year of his age and after a reign 
of ten years and ten months. " The joy at Rome is two- 
fold," writes Gregory of Casale three weeks later to the 
Duke of Norfolk, "the election of the new Pope (Ales- 
sandro Farnese, Paul III.) and the death of the old one 
being alike cause of rejoicing." 2 Nor was this bitterness 
of feeling limited to mere verbal execration, for the 
Roman populace made efforts each night to pollute or 
deface Clement's temporary tomb in St. Peter's. Several 
times in the morning was the pontifical monument found 
smeared with filth ; whilst on one occasion some vindic- 
tive wag during the night hours contrived to alter the 
lettering of the inscription, by substituting the words 
" Inclemens Pontifex Minimus" for the proud title 
" Clemens Pontifex Maximus," besides making other 
changes of a derogatory nature in the late Pope's epitaph. 
It was even planned by some indignant Romans to drag 
the corpse itself from its coffin and draw it ignominiously 
with a hook through the streets of the city ; an intended 
insult that was only averted by the prompt action of the 
Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici who set a strong guard over 
the tomb, so long as the lawless interval during the sitting 

1 Vita di B. Cellini. 

2 State Papers of Henry VIII., vol. vii., p. 373. 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 343 

of the conclave lasted. The election of the Farnese 
Pontiff naturally restored order in Rome, so that the re- 
mains of Paul III.'s unpopular predecessor were hence- 
forward at least allowed to rest undisturbed, until their 
removal to the choir of the Church of Santa Mariasopra 
Minerva, which already contained the ashes of Leo X. 
Not many years later was raised on this spot the ponder- 
ous but unlovely monument, the work of Antonio da 
San Gallo and Baccio Bandinelli of Florence, which 
commemorates in imperishable marble "this weak and 
clumsy disciple of the principles inculcated by Machia- 
velli's Prince '," ] Giulio, bastard son of Giuliano de' 
Medici, Pope Clement VII. 

It is a general maxim of history that those sove- 
reigns or exalted personages who have signally failed in 
their public careers should be invariably regarded by 
posterity with a greater measure of interest and sympathy, 
from the very circumstance of their misfortunes. And 
with regard to this statement, it will be sufficient to cite 
from our own annals the striking examples of the 
scholar-saint Henry VI., of Queen Mary of Scotland and 
of the still-idolised Charles Stuart. But to this general 
rule Giulio de' Medici, Clement VII., offers a notable 
exception. For although the second Medicean Pope was 
perhaps the most unfortunate of all the Roman Pontiffs, 
and although his disastrous reign belonged to a picturesque 
and turbulent age, the historian cannot obtain the smallest 
amount of satisfaction or interest from a close contem- 
plation of his private character. Indeed, few persons 
have perhaps been detested or reviled by mankind with 
better reason than this papal bastard of the House of 
Medici ; this cold, cunning, calculating Pontiff, who was 
the indirect cause of the Sack of Rome, the patron of the 

1 Gregorovius, Tombs of the Popes. 



344 



THE MEDICI POPES 



odious Duke Alessandro, the pitiless destroyer of the 
liberties of Florence. Yet in reality the man, as we have 
already shown, was not without his virtues, since he was 
frugal, industrious, serious ; singularly free, in short, from 
those failings which have been so properly censured in 
the case of his cousin, Leo X. Nevertheless, the very 
absence in Clement of the frivolity, the extravagance and 
the idleness of the splendid Leo seems scarcely to be 
accounted commendable, when we reflect upon the chill 
indifference of his natural disposition, his parsimony and 
avarice, and that perpetual selfish scheming, which was 
ever adding new troubles and turmoils to the existing 
evils of the age. A comparison between Leo X. and 
Clement VII., drawn from a perusal of these pages, 
ought to exhibit clearly the reasons why the former, in 
spite of his faults and even his misdeeds, was sincerely 
mourned at his death ; whereas the latter sank, loathed, 
despised and dishonoured into a tomb whereon the in- 
dignant and outraged populace of Rome endeavoured to 
wreak a posthumous vengeance. 

It is difficult to palliate or to suggest any reasonable 
excuse for the conduct and character of Clement, beyond 
quoting Ranke's expressive phrase, that he was "the 
very sport of misfortune, without doubt the most ill-fated 
Pontiff that ever sat on the papal throne ". No one can 
extend a jot of sympathy to this callous adventurer, who 
by ceaseless intriguing rose to be created a cardinal and 
later to be elected Supreme Pontiff, and whom a General 
Council of the Church, sincerely bent on religious reform, 
would have promptly deposed. Cautious, scheming, 
shuffling, selfish, suspicious, mean, heartless, insincere, 
untruthful such was Clement VII. ; and it only remains 
to add that on occasions this repellent personage could 
show himself guilty of the most vindictive and ferocious 



LAST YEARS OF CLEMENT VII 345 

cruelty ; as in the case of the helpless monk, Benedetto 
da Fojano, who for taking an active part in the defence 
of Florence was thrust into a filthy dungeon of the castle 
of Sant' Angelo and there slowly and deliberately starved 
to death by Clement's expressed desire. History can 
afford many examples of princes or private persons who 
were monsters of crime or vice, but it can scarcely exhibit 
another character more worthy of oblivion than the 
cowardly tyrant, whom the haughty Clarice Strozzi, the 
niece of Leo X., had once openly denounced as an in- 
truder into the august House of Medici. For it was 
during the brief moment of the Florentine Republic's 
triumph in the spring of 1527, when Clement was being 
held a prisoner in Sant' Angelo, that the impetuous 
Clarice, urged to use her influence to save from the angry 
mob the trembling Ippolito and Alessandro with their 
guardian Cardinal Passerini, had hastened to the ancient 
palace in Via Larga and there had openly expressed her 
contemptuous denial of any relationship between herself 
and the three bastards bearing her family name, the two 
cowering youths before her and the absent Pontiff. 

" Standing in the vast corridor of the palace," narrates 
the Florentine historian Bernardo Segni, "did she pour 
forth her scorn of these spurious scions of her House, 
saying, ' You show plainly what is already known, that you 
are not of the blood of the Medici ; and not only you, but 
also Pope Clement, wrongfully a Pope and now most 
righteously a prisoner in Sant' Angelo ! ' ' Reflecting 
on Clarice's fiery speech and on Clement's despicable 
character and inglorious reign, we are led to feel both 
surprise and regret that in his hour of complete victory 
the Emperor Charles V. did not depose and remove 
this papal impostor from the scene of his late misdeeds to 
some secure and remote fortress, where, deprived of his 



346 THE MEDICI POPES 

ill-gotten honours and powerless to vex henceforth the 
peace of Italy and of Europe, this Medicean bastard 
might have found time to meditate upon and to repent 
of the appalling mischief he had already wrought in the 
brief interval of three years between his election and the 
Sack of Rome. 



CHAPTER XV 
THE LATER MEDICI POPES 

ATER the death of Clement VII. the illustrious 
name of Medici occurs twice in the annals of 
the Papacy, but in both cases it was borne by 
Pontiffs who were very distantly connected with the senior 
branch of the Florentine House that produced Leo X. 

The former of these is Gian-Angelo, younger son of 
Bernardino Medici of Milan, who was elected Pope on 
Christmas Eve, 1559, under the title of Pius IV., and 
reigned for nearly six years, his pontificate being dis- 
tinguished, amongst other events of importance, by the 
closing of the protracted sittings of the Council of Trent. 
Pius IV., " who was a man of worldly instincts, a lover 
of the good things of this life," 1 but who ever showed 
himself moderate and conciliatory in his political dealings, 
is said to have been of humble birth. Nevertheless, the 
Pope's forefathers claimed, on very doubtful grounds, to 
be descendants of one Giambuono de' Medici of Flor- 
ence, 2 in the thirteenth century, who is supposed to have 
migrated to Milan. Both the sons of Bernardino were 
successful in life, for the elder, Gian-Giacomo, was created 
Marquis of Melegnano by the Emperor Charles V., whilst 
the younger, Gian-Angelo, as we have said, attained to 
the pontifical throne. Pius IV. is celebrated, moreover, 

1 Gregorovius, Tombs of the Popes. 

2 Belviglieri, Tavole Sincrone e Geneatogiche, etc. 

347 



348 THE MEDICI POPES 

as the uncle of St. Charles Borromeo, the son of his only 
sister, whom this Pope raised to the purple at the early 
age of twenty-two. After his decease on loth December, 
1565, Pius IV. was interred in the great Roman church 
of Santa Maria degli Angeli, wherein he possesses no 
monument other than a simple tablet : a circumstance 
that may be fairly attributed to the manifest humility and 
hatred of pomp ever shown by his favoured nephew, St. 
Charles Borromeo, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan. 

But if Pius IV. possessed nothing save his family 
name to link his personality with the city of Florence, 
the fourth and last Medici Pope, Leo XL, was at least a 
Florentine by birth and a true descendant of a collateral 
branch of that great House. For he was one of the sons 
of Ottaviano de' Medici, dwelling in a palace near the 
famous convent of San Marco and for many years a 
favourite both with Clement VII. and the worthless 
Duke Alessandro, who had entrusted their distant kins- 
man with the administration of the vast estates of the 
Medici throughout Tuscany. Of Ottaviano 's children, 
the eldest son, Bernardetto, espoused Giuliade' Medici, the 
natural daughter of his father's patron, Duke Alessandro, 
and eventually was invested with the lordship of Ottajano 
in the kingdom of Naples, where his descendants are still 
flourishing. The younger brother, Alessandro, being 
" pious, learned and most energetic," 1 was devoted to the 
service of the Church, wherein he quickly rose to positions 
of wealth and eminence. Highly favoured by the Grand- 
Ducal family of Tuscany, Alessandro was appointed 
Archbishop of Florence and was created a cardinal, 
whilst it was through his bounty that the official residence 
of the Florentine Archbishops, facing the ancient Baptis- 
tery, was greatly altered and enlarged ; a fact which is 

1 Ranke, History of the Popes, vol. i. 



THE LATER MEDICI POPES 349 

commemorated by the fine escutcheon in polychrome now 
affixed to the north-eastern angle of the present palace. 

At the death of Clement VIII. in the spring of 
1605, on Ist April the Cardinal Alessandro de' Medici 
was elected Pope to the exorbitant joy of the French 
court, Henry IV. ordering salvoes of artillery to be 
fired on the receipt of the tidings from Rome. But this 
outburst of satisfaction in France was fated to be of brief 
duration. The new Pontiff, who probably out of com- 
pliment to the first fortunate and resplendent Pope of 
his House, assumed the title of Leo XL, had already 
entered his seventieth year and was suffering from an 
incurable malady. The excitement of the conclave and 
the fatigue of the lengthy ceremonies served to diminish 
his remaining strength, so that at his own coronation he 
contracted a feverish chill which produced a fatal result 
on 27th April. Leo XL's reign, one of the shortest 
in papal annals, lasted therefore but twenty-six days, 
whilst his sudden decease caused no small degree of 
disappointment at the courts of Paris and Florence, 
where high hopes had been entertained of the newly- 
elected Medici's foreign policy. But although Leo's 
death was sincerely deplored both in France and in 
Tuscany, " no one," quaintly observes an old English 
translator of the Vite dei Pontefici? " had so much reason 
to lament his loss as his own family, who had not the 
time to receive the honours designed for them, and 
particularly his great-nephew Ottaviano de' Medici, on 
whom Leo intended to bestow his own Cardinal's hat ". 
Indeed, it is not difficult to believe in the genuine regret 
of the short-lived Pontiff's expectant but now dejected 
relations. 

1 The Lives of the Popes. From the Latin of Baptista Platina 
and others. Translated by Paul Rycaut, London, 1685. 



350 THE MEDICI POPES 

Leo XL's fine monument by Algardi with its stately 
allegorical figures of Minerva and of Abundance adorns 
the northern aisle of St. Peter's. If it appear peculiar 
to the inquiring stranger that so vast a memorial should 
have been erected to a Pontiff who reigned for less than 
a month's space, let such an one draw a lesson from the 
sculptured garlands that decorate this papal tomb, for 
they speak eloquently of the brevity and variableness of 
all earthly honours, even the hardest won and the best 
deserved. Sic florui, such is the terse motto borne by 
the blossoming wreaths on Leo's sepulchre, which deli- 
cately conveys thus the ancient warning of the Psalmist 
that " the days of Man are but as grass ; for he flourisheth 
as a flower of the field ", 



APPENDIX 

LEON. X. PONT. MAX. IAMBICI 1 

In Lucretiae Statuam 

Libenter occumbo ; mea in praecordia 
Adactum habens ferrum ; juvat mea manu 
It praestitisse, quod Viraginum prius 
Nulla ob pudicitiam peregit promptius. 
Juvat cruorem contueri proprium, 
Illumque verbis execrari asperrimis. 

Sanguen mi acerbius veneno colchico 
Ex quo cams Stygius, vel Hydra praeferox 
Artus meos compegit in poenam asperam ; 
Lues flue, ac vetus reverte in toxicum. 
Tabes amara exi, mihi invisa et gravis, 
Quod feceris corpus nitidum et amabile. 

Nee interim suas monet Lucretia 
Civeis, pudore et castitate semper ut 
Sint praeditae, fidemque servant integram 
Suis maritis, cum sit haec Mavortii 
Laus magna populi, ut castitate foeminae 
Laetentur, et viris mage iste gloria 
Placere studeant, quam nitere et gratia. 
Quin id probasse caede vel mea gravi 
Lubet, statim animum purum opertere extrahi 
Ab inquinati corporis custodia. 

1 Lines addressed to an antique statue of Lucretia, unearthed in the 
Trastevere of Rome, by Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, afterwards 
Pope Leo X. (Roscoe, vol. ii., Appendix XCVIII.) 

351 



35 2 



THE MEDICI POPES 

(Lucretia speaks > after driving the dagger into her breast ;) 

Gladly I fall to earth, the cruel steel 

Driv'n to my heart ; and yet I find delight 

In this self-slaughter, since it needs must prove 

That none was ever shown more prompt than I. 

With joyful eyes I mark my life-blood flow, 

And curse the crimson stream with scathing words. 

O Blood of mine, more hateful than the drugs 
Which Cerberus or Hydra can produce, 
Depart all-tainted to thine ancient source ! 
Hence bitter-sweet and vile disease of Life, 
That once did fill my frame with comeliness ! 

Thus doth your Lucrece warn her happier peers 
Ever to bide in purity and grace, 
And ever hold intact the marriage vow. 
For is it not the chiefest boast of Rome 
That all her matrons walk in Virtue's path, 
Seeking to rule their lords by chastity, 
And not by beauty or the art to please ? 
Thus am I willing by mine own sad end 
To preach this lesson ; that the faithful soul 
Must not survive in the polluted clay. 



INDEX 



ACADEMY, Roman, 163, 168. 

Accolti, Bernardo, 164-166, 207. 

Actseon, 206. 

Adonis, 209. 

Adrian, Cardinal of Corneto, 248, 251, 

252, 254. 
Adrian VI., Pope (Adrian of Utrecht), 

248, 256, 286-288, 291, 294, 295. 
yneas, 205. 
Alamanni, Piero, 15. 
Albizzi, family of, 92. 
Albizzi, Francesco, 95. 
Alborese, Cardinal, 106. 
Alexander the Great, 35, 190. 
Alexander VI., Pope (Roderigo Borgia), 

13, 20, 34-36, 47, 49, 118, 204, 319. 
Alfonso, Cardinal of Portugal, 256. 
Alidosi, Cardinal, 64, 65, 158. 
Altoviti, family of, 183. 
Amboise, Cardinal d', 60. 
Ammirato, Scipione, 97, 156. 
Anchises, 225. 

Angelico, Fra, 16, 276, 277, 281. 
Angouleme, Duke of, 338. 
Antonio da San Marco, 121. 
Apollo, in, 205, 207. 
Aragon, Cardinal of, 106, 113, 180, 189, 

191. 

Aretino, Pietro, 139, 148, 167, 200. 
Ariadne, 180. 
Ariosto, Ludovico, 163-166, 175, 178- 

180, 185, 207. 
Aristotle, 37. 
Arnolfo di Cambio, 3. 

BAGLIONI, Gian-Paolo, 59. 

Baglioni, Malatesta, 328. 

Bainbridge, Cardinal Christopher, 245. 

Bale, John, 280, 281. 

Balue, Cardinal de, 13. 

Bandinelli, Baccio, 145, 154, 275, 343. 

Baraballo, 169-171, 217. 

Barcelona, treaty of, 326. 

Barile, Giovanni, 171, 229. 

Bartolommeo, Fra, 174. 



Bembo, Pietro, 138, 146, 148, 156, 164, 
165, 207, 208, 211, 227,233,239, 276, 
281. 

Benedetto da Fojano, Fra, 345. 

Benedetto da Rovezzano, 93. 

Bentivoglio of Bologna, 41, 60. 

Bernini, 262. 

Beroaldo, 166. 

Bibbiena, Cardinal of, see Dovizi. 

Boccamazzo, Domenico, 197, 198, 200. 

Boissy, Adrian de, 152. 

Boniface VIII., Pope, 117, 272, 322. 

Bonner, Dr. Edmund, 334, 335. 

Borgia, Caesar, 50, 56. 

Borgia, Lucrezia, 124. 

Borgia, Roderigo, see Alexander VI. 

Borromeo, St. Charles, 348. 

Boscoli, 98. 

Bossi, Count Luigi, 213. 

Bosso, Matteo, 17. 

Bourbon, Cardinal Louis de, 256. 

Bourbon, Constable of France, 140, 
300, 309, 312-318, 322. 

Bramante, 173, 220, 221, 231, 237. 

Brand, John, 214. 

Brandolini, Raffaele, 167, 168. 

Buonarotti, see Michelangelo. 

Buoninsegni, Domenico, 297. 

CABOT, Sebastian, 33. 

Cajetan, Cardinal (Tommaso de Vio), 

256, 321. 

Calabria, Duke of, 40. 
Calcio, game of, 32. 
Cambi, 155. 

Canossa, Ludovico da, 148, 149. 
Caradosso, 216. 

Caraffa, Cardinal Oliviero, 20, 34. 
Cardona, Raymond of, 66, 68, 69, 81, 

82, 86, 89, 92, 140. 
Carvajal, Cardinal, 73, 100. 
Cassandra, 225. 
Castiglione, Count Baldassare, 157, 

181, 207, 220, 241, 258. 
Catherine of Aragon, 325, 340. 



353 



354 



THE MEDICI POPES 



Cellini, Benvenuto, 94, 153, 293, 298- 
302, 316, 317, 323, 341, 342. 

Cesarini, Gian-Giorgio, 135. 

Charlemagne, 153, 225. 

Charles VIII. of France, 39, 40, 44, 45, 
129, 139. 

Charles V., Emperor, 134, 157, 256, 
266, 267, 286, 291, 307-309, 312, 
324, 325-327, 331-333, 336, 337, 340, 
345, 347. 

Chigi, Agostino, 120, 187, 188, 234, 
238, 240. 

CLEMENT VII., Pope (Giulio di 
Giuliano de' Medici), Career of: 
Natural son of Giuliano the Elder, 
7 ; his education with his cousins, 7 ; 
is enrolled amongst the Knights of 
Rhodes, but prefers an ecclesiastical 
career, 46 ; attaches himself to his 
cousin Giovanni (afterwards Pope 
Leo X.), 46 ; travels in Germany and 
France, 47, 48 ; meets at Savona 
with the future Julius II., 49 ; resides 
with his cousin Giovanni at Rome, 
53, 54 > his escape at the battle of 
Ravenna, 70; is entrusted with an 
important mission to Julius II. in 
Rome, 71 ; is sent by the Pope to 
Milan, 73 ; plays a conspicuous part 
in the restoration of the Medici to 
Florence, 82, 91 ; rides in the capacity 
of a Knight of Rhodes in the pro- 
cession of Leo X. , 122 ; meets Francis 
I. at the gates of Bologna, 150; 
attends Leo's hunting-parties, 207 ; 
he is nominated Archbishop of 
Florence, 246 ; is declared legitimate 
by Leo X., and is created a Cardinal, 
247 ; Guicciardini's criticism of his 
character, 247 ; he is sent by Leo to 
settle the affairs of Florence, 261- 
263 ; his growing influence over Leo 
X., 265, 266; he is absent with the 
Imperial army at the time of Leo's 
death, 268 ; he is disappointed by the 
result of the conclave, 285, 286 ; he 
returns to Florence, 287; but is 
speedily recalled to Rome by Adrian 
VI., 288; he is elected Pope under 
the title of Clement VII. in the 
ensuing conclave, 289-291 ; his per- 
sonal appearance and manners, 292 ; 
his past patronage of Raphael, 293, 
294 ; he commands the decoration of 
the Hall of Constantine in the Vati- 
can, 295-297; his curious emblem, 
297 ; his patronage of Benvenuto 
Cellini, 298-302; of Michelangelo, 



302-306 ; his tortuous and mistaken 
policy, 306-309 ; his critical position 
after the battle of Pavia, 310-313 ; 
his timid behaviour before the siege 
and sack of Rome, 314, 315; his 
flight to the Castle of Sant' Angelo, 
318, 319; his miserable plight and 
final capitulation to the Emperor, 
322-324; his escape to Orvieto, 324 ; 
receives an important embassy from 
Henry VIII. of England at Orvieto, 
325, 326 ; his alliance with Charles 
V. and Francis I., 326 ; he crowns 
Charles V. at Bologna, 327 ; recovers 
possession of Florence, 328 ; his atti- 
tude towards Alessandro and Ippolito 
de' Medici, 329, 330 ; his devotion 
for the former, 331-333; his matri- 
monial schemes for Caterina de' 
Medici, 333, 334; holds a second 
conference with Charles V. at 
Bologna, 334-336 ; results of the 
meeting, 337 ; attends the wedding 
of Catherine with Henry Duke of 
Orleans at Marseilles, 338, 339 ; finds 
domestic feuds on his return to Rome, 
340 ; his intercourse with Benvenuto 
Cellini, 341 ; his death in Rome and 
the universal joy thereat, 342 ; his 
monument in Santa Maria sopra 
Minerva, 343 ; estimate of his 
character, 343-346. 

Clement VIII., Pope, 349. 

Colonna, family of, 117, 309, 312, 316, 

317. 

Colonna, Fabrizio, 66, 69, 123. 
Colonna, Cardinal Giovanni, 34. 
Colonna, Cardinal Pompeo, 71, 257, 

289, 309, 322. 
Colonna, Vittoria, 267. 
Commodus, 211. 
Conclave of 1492, 34, 35. 
Conclave of 1503, 49, 50. 
Conclave of 1513, 105-108. 
Conclave of 1522, 285, 286. 
Conclave of 1523, 288-290. 
Condivi, 305. 

Constantine, 118, 226, 296. 
Cornaro, Cardinal, 187, 189, 197, 208, 

209. 

Council of Lateran, 72, 119, 258. 
Council of Pisa and Milan (Concilia- 

bulo), 68, 73, 81. 
Creighton, Bishop Mandell, 134. 
Cromwell, Thomas, 335. 
Cupid, 181, 233, 234. 
Cybo, Francesco, 13, 49, 252. 
Cybo, Giambattista, see Innocent VIII. 






INDEX 



355 



Cybo, Cardinal Innocenzo, 179, 189, 

191, 204, 207, 240, 243, 246. 
Cybo, Cardinal Lorenzo, 20, 36. 

DANDOLO, Matteo, 197. 

Dante, 202. 

Delia Rovere, Francesco, see Sixtus IV. 

Delia Rovere, Francesco-Maria, see 
Urbino, Duke of. 

Delia Rovere, Giulio, see Julius II. 

Delia Robbia, Luca, 232. 

Demetrius of Chalcedon, 161. 

Diana, 206. 

Donatello, 86, 145, 242. 

Dovizi, Cardinal Bernardo da Bibbiena, 
14, 53, 82, 106, 138, 142, 143, 175, 
176, 185, 186, 188, 189, 191, 207, 226, 
227, 233, 234, 240, 245, 247, 258. 

Duprat, Chancellor of France, 148, 152. 

EGIDIUS of Viterbo, 77, 256. 
Elizabeth, Duchess of Urbino, 155. 
Emblems of the Medici family, 18, 97, 

122, 230. 

Erasmus, 61, 166, 167. 
Este, Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, 63, 67, 

69, 72, 101, 124, 149, 152, 311. 
Este, Beatrice, 48. 
Este, Ferrante, 185. 
Este, Cardinal Ippolito, 89, 106, 189. 
Este, Isabella, Marchioness of Mantua, 

76, 176, 185-191, 315, 316. 

FABRONI, Angelo, 10. 

Falloppio of Modena, 208. 

Farnese, Cardinal Alessandro (after- 
wards Pope Paul III.), 108, 113, 193, 
201, 204, 205, 286, 289, 300, 342, 343. 

Farnese, Pier-Luigi, 203, 205. 

Ferdinand, King of Naples, 35, 38, 40. 

Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Spain, 
79, 81, 134, 140, 151, 156, 157. 

Ferruccio, Federigo, 327. 

Fetti, Fra Mariano, 173, 174, 179, 186, 
199, 205, 209, 270, 271. 

Ficino, Marsilio, 7, 18. 

Filiberta of Savoy, 138. 

Fleurange, Seigneur de, 260. 

Flodden, battle of, 137. 

Foxe, Dr. Edward, 325. 

Fracastoro, 164. 

France, Mary Tudor, Queen of, 138. 

Franciotto, Cardinal, 53, 54. 

Francis I., King of France, 129, 138-141, 
148, 150-152, 154, 225, 252, 259, 266, 
267, 271, 273, 286, 291, 302, 307, 308, 
326, 334 337-339- 

Frangipani, family of, 117. 



Fredis, Felice de', 153, 154. 
Frosinone, battle of, 311, 312. 
Frundsberg, Georg von, 310-313. 

GAETANI, family of, 117. 

Gardiner, Dr. Stephen, 325. 

Gaston de Foix, 67, 69, 70, 139. 

Gavinana, battle of, 327. 

Gheri, Goro, 260. 

Giacomo da Brescia, 105. 

Giacomo del Duca, 136. 

Gian-Battista da Vercelli, 249, 254. 

Giberti, Matteo, 311. 

Giorgi, Marino, 142, 143. 

Gonsalvo da Cordova, 50. 

Gonzaga, Cardinal Ercole, 316. 

Gonzaga, Federigo, 70. 

Gonzaga, Cardinal Ghismondo, 106, 

108. 
Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, 46, 76, 

185. 

Gorini, Simonetta, 246. 
Gozzoli, Benozzo, 5. 
Gradasso da Norcia, 296. 
Grammont, Cardinal, 337. 
Grapaldo of Parma, 206. 
Grassis, Paris de, 101, 113, 119, 150, 

196, 236, 268, 269, 282. 
Gregory VII., Pope, 133. 
Gregory of Casale, 326, 342. 
Guasti, Cesare, 89. 
Guicciardini, Francesco, 103, 109, 141, 

163, 166, 167, 247, 254, 280, 283, 289, 

291. 

HADRIAN, 318, 323. 

Henry IV., King of France, 349. 

Henry VII., King of England, 134, 

270. 
Henry VIII., King of England, 134, 

137, 138, 166, 286, 291,325, 333, 334, 

340. 

Hercules, 145, 180. 
Horace, 165. 

INGHIRAMI, Tommaso, 53. 

Innocent III., Pope, 118. 

Innocent VIII., Pope, 12-16, 21, 34, 

194, 246. 

Isabella, Duchess of Milan, 48. 
Isimbardi, Ottaviano, 74, 75, 77. 
lulus, 225. 

JAMES IV., King of Scotland, 137. 

Jews of Rome, 125, 321. 

Jovius (Paolo Giovio), 4, 49, 53, 66, 67, 

77, 170, 178, 199, 203, 209, 213, 271, 

280, 297, 317, 319- 



356 



THE MEDICI POPES 



Julius II., Pope (Giuliano Delia 
Rovere), 20, 35, 49, 50, 55-58, 60-64, 
79, 82, gi, 100-104, 194, 216, 221, 
222, 227, 228, 254, 255, 267, 282, 292, 
304, 32i. 

LANCETTO, 208, 209. 

Landsknechts, 310-313, 319, 320. 

Landucci, Luca, 18, 43, no, 146, 147. 

Lanfredini, 13. 

Lang, Cardinal Matthew, 81, 98. 

Lannoy, 310, 311, 313. 

Lanzi, 232, 233. 

Laocoon, the, 153, 154. 

La Pallice, 67, 71, 72. 

Lascaris, John, 169. 

Laurentian Library, 4, 162, 303, 304. 

Lautrec, 66, 67. 

League of Cambrai, 62, 157. 

League, Holy, 66, 80. 

Leda, 299. 

Leo, St., 223. 

Leo III., Pope, 153, 225. 

Leo IV., Pope, 225, 226. 

LEO X., Pope (Giovanni di Lorenzo 
de' Medici), Career of: Second son 
of Lorenzo the Magnificent, 2 ; his 
birth in Palazzo Medici in Florence, 
5 ; his brothers and sisters, 6 ; his 
early recollections, 7; has Politian 
for his tutor, 8, 9 ; receives the ton- 
sure and is granted preferment, 9, 
10 ; is nominated by Innocent VIII. 
Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria in 
Domenica, 13 ; certain conditions 
imposed by the Pope, 14 ; he publicly 
receives the scarlet hat, 16-18 ; his 
personal appearance in his youth, 19 ; 
he sets out for Rome, 19 ; his letter 
to his father, 21, 22 ; he receives an 
important letter from the Magnificent 
Lorenzo, 23 ; is invested with lega- 
tine authority in Tuscany, 30 ; his 
letter to his elder brother Piero de' 
Medici, 31, 32; attends the conclave 
which elects Alexander VI., 35 ; re- 
turns to Florence, 36 ; his brave 
conduct prior to the expulsion of the 
Medici, 42 ; crosses the Apennines in 
disguise and finds safety in Bologna, 
43 ; blood-money is jolaced on his 
head by the Florentine Republic, 44 ; 
he is joined by his cousin Giulio, 46 ; 
sets out with a party of friends to 
travel in Northern Europe, 47 ; his 
interview with the Emperor Maxi- 
milian, 48 ; meets with the future 
Julius II. at Savona, 49; by Piero's 



death he becomes the acknowledged 
head of his family, 53 ; his friendship 
with Cardinal Franciotto, 53, 54; 
makes his palace in Rome a literary 
and artistic centre, 54 ; his extrava- 
gance, 55 ; contrast between him and 
Julius II., 57, 58; accompanies 
Julius II. on his campaigns, 59-62 ; 
is appointed one of the judges of the 
Duke of Urbino's conduct, 65 ; is 
nominated Cardinal- Legate of 
Bologna, 65, 66 ; is present at the 
battle of Ravenna, 67, 68; is made 
prisoner by the French, 70 ; is sent 
to Bologna, and thence to Modena 
and Milan, 72; his difficult position 
at Milan, 72 ; his successful attempt 
at escape, 74-76 ; importance of this 
incident, 77 ; his efforts for a 
Medicean restoration in Florence, 82 ; 
enters Florentine territory with the 
Spanish army of Cardona, 83 ; his 
former connection with Prato, 86; 
criticism of his conduct during the 
siege and sack of Prato, 87-92 ; his 
state entry into Florence, 96 ; his 
measures for the government of 
Florence, 96-98 ; he sets out to attend 
the conclave in Rome, 99 ; he arrives 
in Rome ill, 105 ; he is elected Pope 
under the title of Leo X., 106-108; 
Guicciardini's account of the new 
Pontiff, 109 ; his general appearance 
at this period, in, 112; he is crowned 
in St. Peter's, 113 ; his splendid pro- 
cession to the Lateran, 124-127 ; 
speculation as to his foreign and 
domestic policy, 129, 130; his aims 
in Italy, 131, 132; his policy abroad, 
I 33> I 34> ms popularity in Rome, 
136 ; his letters to Henry VIII. of 
England and other European princes, 
137 ; his alarm at the invasion of 
Italy by Francis I. of France, 140; 
his secret instructions to Lorenzo de' 
Medici and to Cardinal Schinner 
before the battle of Marignano, 141 ; 
his altercation with the Venetian 
envoy, 142, 143 ; he decides to hold 
a conference with King Francis, 151, 
152; enters Florence amid public 
rejoicings, 144-147 ; he proceeds to 
Bologna, 149, 150; his meeting with 
King Francis, 151, 152 ; returns to 
Florence, 154 ; arrives in Rome, 156 ; 
his grief at his brother's death, 157 ; 
his action against the Duke of Urbino, 
158 ; he drives out Francesco-Maria 



INDEX 



357 



Delia Rovere and proclaims his own 
nephew Lorenzo Duke of Urbino, 159 ; 
his patronage of scholars and poets, 
of whom he is the papal Maecenas, 
162-167; his delight in musicians, 
improvvisatori and buffoons, 167, 168 ; 
his love of practical jesting, 168-172 ; 
his friendship with Fra Mariano 
Fetti, 173 ; his patronage of the 
drama, 174-180 ; witnesses moresche 
and processions, 180, 181 ; his thrift- 
lessness and lavish expenditure, 182- 
185 ; he entertains Isabella of Mantua, 
185-191 ; his love of the chase, 192, 
193 ; his life at the Villa Magliana, 
194-196 ; his hunting and fishing ex- 
peditions, 198-202 ; his portrait in 
the poems of Molosso and Postumo, 
203-210 ; criticism of his conduct, 
211-214 ; his patronage of Raphael 
and Michelangelo, 215-217; his 
treatment of the latter, 217-219; his 
constant employment of Raphael at 
the Vatican, 219-237; his regret at 
Raphael's death, 240; his portrait 
painted by Raphael, 242, 243 ; his un- 
popularity with the Cardinals, 245, 
246 ; he legitimises his cousin Giulio 
de' Medici and creates him a Cardinal, 
247 ; he is menaced by Petrucci's 
plot, 248-250 ; his creation of thirty- 
one Cardinals, 255-257 ; his ambitious 
schemes for the papal nephew, 258, 
259 ; his hopes shattered by the early 
death of Lorenzo de' Medici, 264; 
consequent effect on his foreign 
policy, 265, 266 ; he forms a definite 
alliance with the Emperor Charles V., 
267 ; his sudden illness and its cause, 

269, 270; his death at the Vatican, 

270, 271; his burial in St Peter's, 
273 ; suspicion of poisoning, 273, 
274 ; his monument in Santa Maria 
sopra Minerva, 275, 276 ; estimate 
and criticism of his character, public 
and private, 277-284. 

Leo XI., Pope (Alessandro de' Medici), 

348-350. 
Lica, 208. 
Licaba, 208. 
Lionardo da Vinci, 216. 
Lippi, Fra Lippo, 86. 
Lomellino, no. 
Louis XL, King of France, 9. 
Louis XII., King of France, 48, 60, 71, 

80, 129, 134, 137, 138, 224. 
Louis XIV., 161. 
Lucretia, 162, 351, 352. 
Luther, Martin, 181, 256, 284, 321, 323. 



MACHIAVELLI, Niccolo, 2, 6, 39, 59, 83, 

85, 88, 93, 103, 133, 159, 163, 166, 167, 

175, 177, 178, 262, 263, 279, 297, 343. 

Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, 258, 

260, 261. 

Madonna dell' Impruneta, no. 
Malespina, 76, 273. 
Mantegna, 34. 

Manuel I., King of Portugal, 170, 256. 
Marcus Aurelius, 126. 
Margaret of Austria, 331-333. 
Marguerite de Valois, 139, 140. 
Marignano, battle of, 140, 141, 143. 
Marone da Brescia, 167, 168. 
Martin IV., Pope, 202. 
Marzocco, II, 145. 
Masaccio, 93. 
Maxentius, 295. 
Maximilian, Emperor, 47, 48, 51, 79, 81, 

130, 134, 137, 140, 149, 266, 295. 
MEDICI, members of the House of 
Alessandro, Duke of Florence, 266, 

288, 313, 323, 328-332. 
Alessandro, see Leo XI. 
Bernadetto, 348. 
Bernardino, 347. 

Caterina (afterwards Queen of 
France), 261, 262, 264, 265, 288, 

302, 313, 330, 331, 337-339- 
Clarice, 51, 314, 329, 345. 
Contessina, 6, 127, 257. 

Cosimo il Vecchio, 4, 260, 264, 265. 
Cosimo I., Grand-Duke of Tuscany, 

51, 257, 304, 305. 
Giambuono, 347. 
Gian-Angelo, see Pius IV. 
Gian-Giacomo, Marquis of Meleg- 

nano, 347. 

GIOVANNI, see LEO X. 
Giovanni delle Bande Nere, 304, 

3"- 

Giulia, 348. 

Giuliano the Elder, 7, 246, 292, 

303, 343- 

Giuliano the Younger, 6, 41, 46, 81, 
9i 95. 96, 134^38, 141, 148, 152, 
155-157, 184, 185, 261, 262, 303. 

GIULIO, see CLEMENT VII. 

Ippolito, Cardinal, 153, 156, 226, 
266, 275, 288, 296, 313, 323, 328- 
33. 340, 345- 

Lorenzo I. (II Magnifico), 3, 6, 7, 
10-13, 15, 21-27, 29, 32, 74, 97, 
131, 144, 169, 173, 180, 211, 218, 
260, 284, 303. 

Lorenzo II., Duke of Urbino, 51, 
84, 96, 107, 124, 134, 140, 148, 
155, 157-159, 188, 245, 258-263, 
266, 303, 329. 



358 



THE MEDICI POPES 



MEDICI, members ofthe House of cont. 

Lucrezia, 6, 271. 

Luisa, 6. 

Maddalena, 6, 49. 

Ottaviano, 348, 349. 

Piero I. (II Gottoso), 3. 

Piero II. (II Pazzo), 6, 29, 32, 33, 

38-41, 50, 51, 262, 329. 
Michelangelo Buonarotti, 2, 85, 136, 
162, 216-219, 227, 241, 258, 262, 293, 
299, 302-306. 
Michelet, Jean, 139, 142. 
Michelozzi, Michelozzo, 4. 
Michiel, Marcantonio, 241. 
Minerva, 120, 207, 275. 
Molosso, Baldassare (alias Tranquillo), 

203-210. 

Molza of Modena, 164, 207. 
Moncada, 309. 

Montefeltre of Urbino, 46, 158, 220. 
Moro de' Nobili, 260. 

NARDI, Jacopo, 88. 

Navarro, Pedro, 66, 72, 140. 

Nemours, Duke of, see Medici, Giuliano 

de'. 

Nero, 211. 

Nicholas V., Pope, 282. 
Novara, battle of, 132, 137, 223. 
Noyon, treaty of, 157. 

ORANGE, Philibert, Prince of, 304, 312, 
317, 322, 327. 

Orlando, 253. 

Orleans, Duchess of, 138. 

Orleans, Duke of, 138. 

Orleans, Duke of (Henri de Valois, after- 
wards Henry II. of France), 337-339. 

Orsini, family of, 117, 195. 

Orsini, Alfonsina, 32, 38, 156, 261. 

Orsini, Cardinal, 210. 

Orsini, Clarice, 5, 6, 8, 9. 

Orsini, Giulio, 123. 

Orsini, Valeric, 209. 

Ottaviani, 231. 

PALLESCHI, 40, 92, 94, 96, 109. 
Pallone, game of, 32. 
Paolucci, Alfonso, 179, 180. 
Passerini, Cardinal, 264, 313, 323. 
Pastor, Professor Ludwig, 277, 284. 
Paul III., Pope, see Farnese. 
Pavia, battle of, 307, 308. 
Pazzi, family of, 7, 246, 251. 
Penni, Gian-Francesco, 295. 
Penni, Gian-Giacomo, 127. 
Perugino, 220, 221, 288. 



Peruzzi, Baldassare, 135, 174, 176, 177, 
179, 221. 

Pescara, Marquis of, 267. 

Petrarch, 169, 170. 

Petrucci, Cardinal Alfonso, 106, 123, 
127, 155, 189, 191, 204, 248-254, 284. 

Petrucci, Borghese, 248. 

Petrucci, Cardinal Raffaele, 248, 256. 

Philip, Don, 48. 

Philomus, in. 

Piacentino, Fra, 270. 

Piagnoni, no, 173. 

Piatese, 70. 

Piccolomini, see Pius II. and Pius III. 

Pico della Mirandola, 7, 16. 

Pistofilo, 89. 

Pius II., Pope (^Eneas Silvius Piccolo- 
mini), 15, 50. 

Pius III., Pope (Francesco Piccolomini), 
20, 50. 

Pius IV., Pope (Gian-Angelo Medici), 

347, 348. 

Pius VII., Pope, 294. 
Plato, 37, 228. 
Plautus, 136. 
Poco-in-testa, 249, 254. 
Politian (Angelo Poliziano), 7-9,37, 161. 
Primiero, game of, 184. 
Psyche, 234. 
Ptolemy, 239. 
Pucci, Cardinal, 98, 123, 245, 318. 

QUERNO, Camillo, 168, 171. 

RAMAZOTTO, 96. 

Rangone, Bianca, 72, 256. 

Rangone, Cardinal Ercole, 207, 256. 

Ranke, Leopold, 344. 

Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino), 
103, 104, 146, 153, 167, 179, 186, 194, 
215-217, 219-243, 284, 292-294. 

Ravenna, battle of, 67, 71, 114, 124. 

Renzo da Ceri, 315, 318. 

Rhodes, Knights of, 46, 122, 287, 314. 

Riario, Cardinal, 20, 106-108, 186, 187, 
245, 248, 251-254, 288, 299. 

Richmond, Duke of, 333. 

Ridolfi, family of, 6, 123. 

Ridolfi, Cardinal, 207, 257. 

Romano, Giulio, 226, 293, 296, 299. 

Roscoe, William, 10, 162, 213, 263. 

Rossi, Cardinal, 243, 257. 

Rucellai, Giovanni, 175. 

Rucellai, Palla, 338. 

Rufus, King William, 214. 

SACRO Possesso, procession of, 114, 
119-127, 182, 224. 



INDEX 



359 



Sadoleto, Jacopo, 146, 164, 207, 281. 
Salviati, family of, 92, 123, 183. 
Salviati, Cardinal, 180, 207, 257, 301. 
Salviati, Jacopo, 16, 257. 
Salviati, Maria, 338. 
San Gallo, Antonio da, 275, 343. 
San Gallo, Francesco da, 51. 
Sannazzaro, 146, 164, 272. 
Sanseverino, Cardinal, 68, 71, 73, 100, 

igg, 204, 206. 
Sansovino, Jacopo, 145. 
Sarpi, Fra Paolo, 282. 
Sarto, Andrea del, 145, 146, 153. 
Sauli, Cardinal, 121, 155, 248, 250, 252, 

253- 

Savelli, Luca, 87. 
Savonarola, Girolamo, 2, 36-38, 139, 

173- 

Schinner, Cardinal, 63, 140, 141. 
Sebastiano del Piombo, 219, 305. 
Segni, Bernardo, 345. 
Serapica (Giovanni Lazzaro de Magis- 

tris), 146, 148, 200, 204, 205, 234, 

274. 
Sforza, Cardinal Ascanio, 13, 20, 34, 

193- 

Sforza, Ludovico, 38, 39. 
Sforza, Maximilian, 137, 140, 141. 
Silvester, or Postumo, 207, 208. 
Sixtus IV., Pope (Francesco Delia 

Rovere), 10, 12, 20, 235, 251. 
Socrates, 228. 
Soderini, Cardinal, 106, 107, 150, 245, 

248, 251, 285, 287, 289, 290. 
Soderini, Gian-Vittorio, 81. 
Soderini, Piero, 80, 81, 83-85, 92, 93. 
Sodoma, 221. 
Soriano, 333. 
Spagna Lo, 194. 
Speroni, 273, 274. 
Spurs, battle of the, 137. 
Stanza, Simone, 16. 
Stefano di Castrocaro, 30. 
Strozzi, family of, 92, 123, 183. 
Strozzi, Filippo, 51, 314, 323, 328. 



Swiss Guard, 63, 124, 296. 
Sylvester, Pope and Saint, 118, 296. 

TAGLIACARNE, 216. 
Tebaldeo, 164, 207. 
Tiresia, 210. 
Titus, 117, 153. 
Tornabuoni, family of, 123. 
Tornabuoni, Lucrezia, 8. 
Torrigiano, 270. 
Tournon, Cardinal, 337. 
Trissino, Gian-Giorgio, 175. 
Trivulzi, Gian Giorgio, 76, 140. 
Turks, 130, 152. 

UDINE, Giovanni da, 231-233, 293, 303, 

306. 

Ulrich von Hutten, 259. 
University of Rome, 163. 
Urban IV., Pope, 163. 
Urbino, Duke of (Francesco-Maria 

Delia Rovere), 64, 65, 82, 123, 151- 

153, 155, 189, 245, 273, 308, 314, 317, 

323- 
Urbino, war of, 159, 245, 248, 256. 

VAILA, battle of, 62, 157. 

Valeriano, 104. 

Vasari, Giorgio, 9, 18, 147, 148, 176, 

177, 223, 233, 236, 237, 257, 295, 

332- 

Vasco da Gama, 33. 
Venus, 121, 181, 233, 234. 
Vergil, 164, 165. 
Vettori, Francesco, 96, 103, 183, 274, 

279. 

Vida, 164, 207. 

Villari, Professor Pasquale, 279. 
Volpato, 251. 

WOLSEY, Cardinal, 245, 286, 289. 
YVES d' Allegre, 66, 67. 
ZAZZI, Rinaldo, 74-76. 



THE ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY PRESS LIMITED 



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GORDON WRIGHT. With the Italian text. 
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Davenport (James). THE WASH- 
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Art. 

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Deans (Storry R.). THE TRIALS OF 
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I.P.L., and Chesterton (G. K.). 
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Dickinson (Q. L.), M.A., Fellow of King's 

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Dryhurst (A. R.). See Little Books on Art. 

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MY MEMOIRS. Translated by E. M. 
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Dunstan (A. E.), B.Sc. (Lond.), East Ham 
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Edmonds(MajorJ.E.),R.E.;D.A.Q.-M.G. 
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Edwards (Clement), M.P. RAILWAY 
NATIONALIZATION. Second Edition, 
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Edwardes (Tickner). THE LORE OF 
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Egan (Pierce). See I. P. L. 

Egerton (H. E.), M.A. A HISTORY OF 
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A Colonial Edition is also published. 

Ellaby (C. Q.). See Little Guides. 

Ellerton (F. G.). See Stone (S. J.). 

Epictetus. See Aurelius (Marcus). 

Erasmus. A Book called in Latin EN- 
CHIRIDION MILITIS CHRISTIANI, 
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Knight, fi'cap. %vo. $s. 6d. net. 

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Fairbrother(W. H.), M.A. THE PHILO- 
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SECRET CHAMBERS AND HIDING- 
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Fidler (T. Claxton), M.Inst. C.E. See 
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Fielding (Henry). See Standard Library. 

Finn(S. W.), M.A. See Junior Examination 
Series. 

Firth (J. B.). See Little Guides. 

Firth (C. H.), M.A., Regius Professor of 
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Firth (Edith E.). See Beginner's Books. 

FitzQerald (Edward). THE RUBAlYAT 
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Biography of Omar by E. D. Ross. Cr. 
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GENERAL LITERATURE 



FitzGerald (H. P.). A CONCISE HAND- 
BOOK OF CLIMBERS, TWINERS, 
AND WALL SHRUBS. Illustrated. 
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Fitzpatrick (S. A. O.). See Ancient Cities. 

Flecker (W. H.), M. A., D.C.L., Headmaster 
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THE STUDENT'S PRAYER BOOK. 
THE TEXT OF MORNING AND EVENING 
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Flux (A. W.), M.A., William Dow Professor 
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Foat (F. W. Q.), D.Litt., M.A., Assistant 
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Ford (H. Q.), M.A., Assistant Master at 
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Books. 

Forel(A.). THE SENSES OF INSECTS. 
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2 Illustrations. Demy Bvo. loj. 6d. net. 

Fortescue (Mrs. Q.). See Little Books on 

Fraser (J. F.). ROUND THE WORLD 
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French (W.), M.A. See Textbooks of Science. 

Freudenreich (Ed. von). DAIRY BAC- 
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DAVIS, M.A. Second Edition. Revised. 
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Fulford (H. W.), M.A. See Churchman's 
Bible. 

Fuller (W. P.), M.A. See Simplified French 

*Fyviie S (John). TRAGEDY QUEENS OF 
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trations. Demy Bvo. i2s. fyi. net. 

Qallaher (D.)and Stead (W. J.). THE 
COMPLETE RUGBY FOOTBALLER, 
ON THE NEW ZEALAND SYSTEM. 
With 35 Illustrations. Second Ed. Demy 
Bvo. ics. 6d. net_. 

A Colonial Edition is also published. 

Gallichan ( W. M.). See Little Guides. 

Gambado (Geoffrey, Esq.). See I.P.L. 

Gaskell (Mrs.). See Little Library, Stan- 
dard Library and Sixpenny Novels. 

Gasquet, the Right Rev. Abbot, O.S.B. See 
Antiquary's Books. 

George (H.B.), M.A. , Fellow ofNewColle^e, 
Oxford. BATTLES OF ENGLISH HIS- 
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A HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE 



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Gibbins (H. de B.), Litt.D., M.A. IN- 
DUSTRY IN ENGLAND : HISTORI- 
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THE INDUSTRIAL HISTORY OF 
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Fourteenth Edition, Revised. Cr. Bvo. 3$. 

ENGLISH SOCIAL REFORMERS. 
Second Edition. Cr. Bvo. 2S. 6d. 
p See also Hadfield (R. A.)., and Commer- 

Gibbon^Edward). MEMOIRS OF MY 
LIFE AND WRITINGS. Edited by 
G. BIRKBECK HILL, LL.D Cr. Bvo. 6s. 

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE 
ROMAN EMPIRE. Edited, with Notes, 
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M.A., Litt.D., Regius Professor of Greek 
at Cambridge. / Seven Volumes. 
Demy Bvo. Gilt top. 8s. 6d. each. Also, 
Crown Bvo. 6s. each. 
See also Standard Library. 

Gibbs (Philip). THE ROMANCE OF 
GEORGE VILLIERS : FIRST DUKE 
OF BUCKINGHAM, AND SOME MEN 
AND WOMEN OF THE STUART 
COURT. With 20 Illustrations. Second 
Edition. Demy Bvo. i$s. net. 

A Colonial Edition is also published. 

Gibson (E. C. S.), D.D., Lord Bishop of 
Gloucester. See Westminster Commentaries, 
Handbooks of Theology, and Oxford Bio- 
graphies. 

Gilbert (A. R.). See Little Books on Art. 

Gloag (M. R.) and Wyatt (Kate M.). A 
BOOK OF ENGLISH GARDENS. 
With 24 Illustrations in Colour. Demy 
Bvo. ios. 6d. net. 

Godfrey (Elizabeth). A BOOK OF RE- 
MEMBRANCE. Being Lyrical Selections 
for every day in the Year. Arranged by. 
Fcap. 87/0. vs. 6d. net. 

ENGLISH CHILDREN IN THE OLDEN 
TIME. With 32 Illustrations. Second 
Edition. Demy Bvo. *js. 6d. net. 

Godley(A. D.), M.A., Fellow of Magdalen 
College, Oxford. LYRA FRIVOLA. 
Fourth Edition. Fcap. Bvo. zs. 6d. 

VERSES TO ORDER. Second Edition. 
Fcap. Bvo. 2s. 6d. 

SECOND STRINGS. Fcap. Bvo. zs. 6d. 

Goldsmith (Oliver). THE VICAR OF 
WAKEFIELD. With 10 Plates in 
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Fcap. yuno. zs. 6d. net. 

See also I.P.L. and Standard Library. 

Gomme (G. L.). See Antiquary's Books. 

Goodrich-Freer (A.). IN A SYRIAN 
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Gorst (Rt. Hon. Sir John). THE CHIL- 
DREN OF THE NATION. Second 
Edition. Demy Bvo. -js. 6d. net. 

Goudge (H. L.), M.A., Principal of Wells 
Theological College. See Westminster Com- 
mentaries. 



IO 



MESSRS. METHUEN'S CATALOGUE 



Graham (P. Anderson). THE RURAL 
EXODUS. The Problem of the Village 
and the Town. Cr. %vo. 2S. 6d. 

Granger (P. S.), M.A., Litt.D. PSYCH- 
OLOGY. Third Edition. Cr. Zvo. vs. 6d. 

THE SOUL OF A CHRISTIAN. 

Gray (ET'M'Queen). GERMAN PASSAGES 
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Gray (P. L.), B.Sc. THE PRINCIPLES OF 
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Green (G. Buckland), M.A., late Fellow 
of St. John's College, Oxon. NOTES ON 
GREEK AND LATIN SYNTAX. 
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Greenidge(A.H.J.),M.A.,D.Litt. A HIS- 
TORY OF ROME : From the Tribunate of 
Tiberius Gracchus to the end of the Jugur- 
thine War, B.C. 133-104- Demy &vt>. 
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Greenwell (Dora). See Miniature Library. 

Gregory (R. A.). THE VAULT OF 
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Gregory (Miss E. C.). See Library of 
Devotion. 

Grubb(H. C.). See Textbooks of Technology. 

Hadfield (R. A.) and Gibbins (H. de B ). 
A SHORTER WORKING DAY. Cr. 
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Hall (Mary). A WOMAN'S TREK FROM 
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Hall (R. N.) and Neal (W. G.). THE 
ANCIENT RUINS OF RHODESIA. 
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Hall (R. N.). GREAT ZIMBABWE. 
With numerous Plans and Illustrations. 
Second Edition. Demy 8va. los. 6d. net. 

Hamel (Prank). FAMOUS FRENCH 
SALONS. With 20 Illustrations. 
Demy 8v0. 12$. 6d. net. 
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Hamilton (P. J.), D.D. See Byzantine Texts. 

Hannay (D.). A SHORT HISTORY OF 
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Hannay (James O.), M.A. THE SPIRIT 
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THE WISDOM OFTHEDESERT. Fcafi. 
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Hare (A. T.), M.A. THE CONSTRUC- 
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Harvey (Alfred), M.B. See Ancient Cities 
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Hawthorne(Nathaniel). See Little Library. 

Heath (Frank R.). See Little Guides. 

Heath (Dudley). See Connoisseur's Library. 

Hello (Ernest). STUDIES IN SAINT- 
SHIP. Fcap 8vo. 3-r. 6d. 



Henderson (B. W.), Fellow of Exeter 
College, Oxford. THE LIFE AND 
PRINCIPATE OF THE EMPEROR 
NERO. Illustrated. New and cheaper 
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AT INTERVALS. Fcaplvo. zs.6fi.net. 

Henderson (M. Sturge). GEORGE 
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Henderson (T. P.). See Little Library and 
Oxford Biographies. 

Henderson (T. P.), and Watt (Francis). 
SCOTLAND OF TO-DAY. With 20 
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Henley (W. E.). ENGLISH LYRICS. 
CHAUCER TO POE, 1340-1849. Second 
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Henley (W.E.)andWhibley:C.) A BOOK 
OF ENGLISH PROSE, CHARACTER, 
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Henson(H. H.), B.D., Canon of Westminster. 
LIGHT AND LEAVEN: HISTORICAL 
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Herbert (George). See Library of Devotion. 

Herbert of Cherbury (Lord). See Minia- 
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Hewins (W. A. S.), B.A. ENGLISH 
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Hewitt (Ethel M.) A GOLDEN DIAL. 
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Woodwork Teacher. THE MANUAL 
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Heywood (W.) : PALIO AND PONTE. 
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See also St. Francis of Assisi. 

Hill (Clare). See Textbooks of Technology. 

Hill (Henry), B.A., Headmaster of the Boy's 
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SOUTH AFRICAN ARITHMETIC. 
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Hind(C. Lewis). DAYS IN CORNWALL. 
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Hirst (F. W.) See Books on Business. 

Hoare (J. Douglas). A HISTORY OF 
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Hobhouse (L. T.), late Fellow of C.C.C., 
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LEDGE. Demy &vo. 10*. 6d. net. 

Hobson(J. A.), M.A. INTERNATIONAL 
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PROBLEMS OF POVERTY. An Inquiry 
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Sixth Edition. Cr. vo. 2S. 6d. 



GENERAL LITERATURE 



I T 



THE PROBLEM OF THE UNEM- 
PLOYED. Third Edition. Cr.Bvo. 2S.6d. 

Hodgetts (E. A. Brayley). THE COURT 
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Hodgkin (T.), D.C.L. See Leaders of 

HodVsonWs. W.) HOW TO IDENTIFY 
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Hogg (Thomas Jefferson). SHELLEY 
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Holden-Stone (Q. de). See Books on 
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Holdich (Sir T. H.), K.C.I.E. THE 
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Holdsworth (W. S.). M.A. A HISTORY 
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Holland (H. Scott), Canon of St. Paul's. 
See Newman (J. H.). 

Hollway-Calthrop (H. C.), late of Balliol 
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PETRARCH : HIS LIFE, WORK, AND 
TIMES. With 24 Illustrations. Demy 
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A Colonial Edition is also published. 

Holt (Emily). THE SECRET OF POPU- 
LARITY : How to Achieve Social Success. 
Cr. Bvo. 3^. 6d. net- 
A Colonial Edition is also published. 

HoIyoake(Q. J.). THE CO-OPERATIVE 
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Hone (Nathaniel J.). See Antiquary's Books. 

Hook (A.) HUMANITY AND ITS 
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Hoppner. See Little Galleries. 

Horace. See Classical Translations. 

Horsburgh (E. L. S.), M.A. WATERLOO : 
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.See also Oxford Biographies. 

Horth(A. C.). See Textbooks of Technology. 

Horton(R. FAD.D. See Leaders of Religion. 

Hosie (Alexander). MANCHURIA. With 
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Demy Bvo. "js. 6d. net. 

A Colonial Edition is also published. 

How (F. D.). SIX GREAT SCHOOL- 
MASTERS. With Portraits and Illustra- 
tions. Second Edition. Demy Bvo. "js. 6d. 

Howell(A. O. Ferrers). FRANCISCAN 
DAYS. Being Selections for every day in 
the year from ancient Franciscan writings. 
Cr. Bvo. %s. 6d. net. 

Howell(Q.). TRADE UNIpNISM NEW 
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is. 6rf. 

Huggins (Sir William), K.C.B., O.M., 
D.C.L..F.R.S.THK ROYAL SOCIETY. 
With 25 Illustrations. Wide Royal Bvc. 
4-r. 6J. net. 



Hughes (C. E.). THE PRAISE OF 

SHAKESPEARE. An English Antho- 
logy. With a Preface by SIDNEY LEE. 
Demy Bvo. 3*. 6d. net. 

Hughes (Thomas). TOM BROWN'S 
SCHOOLDAYS. With an Introduction 
and Notes by VERNON RKNDALL. Leather. 
Royal 32ttto. vs. 6d. net. 

Hutchinson (Horace Q.) THE NEW 
FOREST. Illustrated in colour with 
50 Pictures by WALTER TYNDALE and 4 
by LUCY KEMP-WELCH. Third Edition. 
Cr. Bvo. 6s. 

Hutton (A. W.), M.A. See Leaders of 
Religion and Library of Devotion. 

Hutton (Edward). THE CITIES OF 
UMBRIA. With 20 Illustrations in Colour 
by A. PISA, and 12 other Illustrations. Third 
Edition. Cr. Bvo. 6s. 

A Colonial Edition is also published. 

THE CITIES OF SPAIN. With 24 Illus- 
trations in Colour, by A. W. RIMINGTON, 
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A Colonial Edition is also published. 

FLORENCE AND THE CITIES OF 
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ENGLISH LOVE POEMS. Edited with 
an Introduction. Fcap. Bvo. %s. 6d. net. 

Hutton (R. H.). See Leaders of Religion. 

Hutton (W. H.), M.A. THE LIFE OF 
SIR THOMAS MORE. With Portraits 
after Drawings by HOLBEIN. Second Ed. 
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Hyde (A. Q.) GEORGE HERBERT AND 
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Hyett(F. A.). FLORENCE : HER HISTORY 

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Ibsen (Henrik). BRAND. A Drama. 

Translated by WILLIAM WILSON. Third 

Edition. Cr. Bvo. %s. 6d. 
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MYSTICISM. (The Bampton Lectures of 

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Ingham (B. P.). See Simplified French 

Texts. 
Innes(A. D.), M.A. A HISTORY OF THE 

BRITISH IN INDIA. With Maps and 

Plans. Cr. Bvo. 6s. 
ENGLAND UNDER THE TUDORS. 

With Maps. Second Edition. Demy Bvo. 

IO.T. 6d. net. 
Jackson (C. E.), B. A., Senior Physics Master, 

Bradford Grammar School. See Textbooks 

of Science. 

Jackson (S.), M.A. See Commercial Series. 
Jackson (F. Hamilton). See Little Guides. 
Jacob (F.), M.A. See Junior Examination 

Series. 



12 



MESSRS. METHUEN'S CATALOGUE 



James (W. H. N.). See Brooks (E. E.). 

Jeans (J. Stephen). TRUSTS, POOLS, 
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Jebb (Camilla). A STAR OF THE 
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Jeffreys (D. Qwyn). DOLLY'S THEATRI- 
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Jennings (Oscar), M.D. EARLY WOOD- 
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Johnson(Mrs. Barham). WILLIAM BOD- 
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Jones (H.). See Commercial Series. 

Jones (H. F.). See Textbooks of Science. 

Jones (L. A. Atherley), K.C., M.P., and 
Bellot (Hugh H. L.), M.A., D.C.L. 
THE MINER'S GUIDE TO THE COAL 
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COMMERCE IN WAR. RoyalZvo. 2is.net. 

Jones (R. Compton). M.A. POEMS OF 
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Jonson (Ben). See Standard Library. 

Juliana (Lady) of Norwich. REVELA- 
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Juvenal. See Classical Translations. 

Kappa.' LET YOUTH BUT KNOW: 
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Kaufmann (M.), M.A. SOCIALISM AND 
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Keating (J. F.), D.D. THE AGAPE AND 
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Keats (John). THE POEMS. Edited 
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REALMS OF GOLD. Selections from the 
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Kelynack (T. N.), M.D., M.R.C.P. THE 
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Also Translated by C. BIGG, D.D. Cr. 
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Kennedy (Bart.). THE GREEN 
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Kennedy (James Hqughton), D.D., Assist- 
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Dublin. ST. PAUL'S SECOND AND 
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Kimmins (C. W.), M.A. THE CHEMIS- 
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DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES. Sixteenth 
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Knight (H. J. C.), B.D. See Churchman's 
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Knowling (R. J.), M.A., Professor of New 
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Lambros (Professor S. P.). See Byzantine 
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Lane- Poole (Stanley). A HISTORY OF 
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Law (William). See Library of Devotion 
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Le Braz (Anatole). THE LAND OF 
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Lee (Captain L. Melville). A HISTORY 
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Lewes (V. B.), M.A. AIR AND WATER. 
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Lofthouse(W. P.), M.A. ETHICS AND 
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Lorimer (George Horace). LETTERS 
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OLD GORGON GRAHAM. Second Edition. 
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Lover (Samuel). See I.P.L. 

E. V. L. and C. L. Q. ENGLAND DAY BY 
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Lucas(E. V.). THE LIFE OF CHARLES 
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THE OPEN ROAD : a Little Book for Way- 
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Lydon (Noel S.). See Junior School Books. 

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Macaulay (Lord). CRITICAL AND HIS- 
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M ' Allen (J. E. B.), M.A. See Commercial 

MacCulloch (J. A.). See Churchman's 
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MacCunn (Florence A.). MARY 
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McDermott(E. R.) See Books on Business. 

M'DowalI(A. S.). See Oxford Biographies. 

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' Mdlle Mori (Author of). ST. CATHER- 
INE OF SIENA AND HER TIMES. 
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Maitland (F. W.), M.A., LL.D. ROMAN 
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MESSRS. METHUEN'S CATALOGUE 



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Millin (Q. F.). PICTORIAL GARDEN- 
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Millis (C. TO, M.I.M.E. See Textbooks of 

Technology. 
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More (Sir Thomas). See Standard Library. 



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Morfill (W. R.), Oriel College, Oxford. A 
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i6 



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A 3 



i8 



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22 



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[Continued. 



28 



MESSRS. METIIUEN'S CATALOGUE 



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