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AUG I i 1343 



MY DEAR SULLY, Years have passed since you first 
held out to me the helpful hand of your friendship, 
and I have long been anxious to show you how I 
value it. So I venture to offer you this little study 
as a mark of admiration and deep regard. Should 
its quality prove very defective, at least the senti 
ment which accompanies the volume is sincere. 
You, as well as I, are interested in the great historic 
forces of the fifteenth century ; you, as well as I, have 
been fascinated by the personality of JSneas Silvius, 
and have found it very complex and by no means 
easy to understand. 

It seemed to me, if I may dare say so, that bias, of 
one kind or another, affected the judgement of more 
than one great historian. I found the laborious 
Voigt unfair and severe ; Gregorovius appeared 
somewhat harsh ; I was not quite satisfied that 
Weiss and Pastor, or even the statesmanlike and 
sympathetic Creighton, were not led a little astray 
by prejudices. So I had the temerity to try my 
own hand. Perhaps, thought I, to be unaffected by 


Protestant or Catholic prepossessions may be no 
disadvantage; a very compassionate tolerance for 
human frailty may not prove wholly a defect. I 
tried to find out what manner of fellow- creature this 
Piccolomini was, and I hope that fulness of sympathy 
may, in some measure, make up for thinness in 
scholarship. Since you are so keen a huntsman after 
the doublings of character, I am sure you will not 
fail to be interested wherever I may have hit on 
success, while your quick sense of humour will, per 
haps, keep you amused where I have failed. Believe 
me, ever your attached and grateful friend. 


KOME, 1908. 

P.S. I regret that I could not find a really 
satisfactory portrait of Pius n. The well-executed 
medal at Milan, by Andrea Guazzalotti, official 
medal-designer to the Popes, is somewhat worn, and 
a reproduction of it would suffer the disadvantage 
of being derived from the cast of a cast. After 
Pius s death, Guazzalotti struck another medal, the 
obverse of which is suggestive of burlesque, although 
Campano, in extravagant verse, affected to admire it. 
The features in Giovanni di Paolo s Incoronazione di 
Papa Pio II., now preserved in the Archivio di Stato 
di Siena, are blurred by Time. 


Bernardino Pinturicchio was employed by Cardinal 
Francesco Piccolomini (Pope Pius IIL), thirty-eight 
years after the death of his uncle, to paint incidents 
in his life. Most of these frescoes, which, still fresh 
and splendid, adorn the great library of the Duomo 
of Siena, are reproduced in this volume. The por 
traiture of the earlier scenes is fanciful enough, but 
the effigies of ^Eneas as Pope bear, in essential 
lineaments, a resemblance to the aforenamed portraits 
that makes me regard them as tolerably trust 
worthy likenesses of the man they profess to re 
present. Pius in., in this series, bears a strong 
family resemblance to his uncle. 

W. B. 


I HAVE to acknowledge my obligation, for services 
of different kinds, generously rendered me, to 
Miss Frances Whitehead ; J. M. Kigg, M.A., 
A. R. Dry hurst, Ed. Hutton, and C. L. Taylor, 
Esquires, of London; and to Wm. Bliss, M.A., 
Archibald Constable, LL.D., of Edinburgh, and the 
Very Reverend Father Corney, O.S.B., of Rome. 
I have also to express my gratitude to the officials 
of various Italian Libraries for their unfailing 
courtesy, and especially to Monsignor Wenzel and 
his coadjutors at the Secret Archives of the Vatican 
for the facilities they so freely gave. 

W. B. 





AND COUNCILS ...... 22 



THERE ........ 41 




CELLERY INNER STRIFE . . v .. . . 110 



EASTERN PERIL ...... 198 



OF PIUS II ........ 235 










INDEX 359 













facing page 18 






IN Central Tuscany, on the ridge of three conjoined 
hills that break on all sides into steep declivities, lies 
Siena, the capital, in the Middle Ages, of a famous 
republic. The surrounding landscape is soft and set 
with vineyards ; the city is girdled by defiant walls 
that belie the tranquil grace of the buildings they 
enclose. The spectacle of the fair city, sitting aloft 
like a noble maiden in armour, gives the instructed 
traveller an impassioned moment, for the beauty that 
takes the eye is matched by memories that crowd the 
brain. The portals still bear the legend Siena 
opens her heart to thee more widely than her gates ; 
the palace of government is still adorned with ancient 
frescoes that set forth the blessings of Wisdom and 
Justice and Concord ; but the city was ever one, as 
Comines said, c qui se gouverne plus follement que 
ville d ltalie, and Varchi justly spoke of it as a con 
fused muddle of separate republics rather than a 
well-ordered state/ With the possible exception of 
Rome and Perugia, it was the most turbulent of 
Italian cities, and it retained, to a late date, the 
characteristics of the Italian commune. A mass of 
political and social organisations, perpetually at war, 
were held together only by the ties of business and 



by a common attachment to the same city. There 
was a central government, it is true, but it was 
dominated by a party and lasted only until one of the 
many factions it affected to control grew strong 
enough to overthrow it. The Sienese were an ener 
getic, proud, sensitive, and passionate people, but for 
three successive generations, in the latter part of the 
thirteenth and earlier half of the fourteenth centuries, 
they submitted to be guided in their policy, and they 
saw their dominion extended and their wealth in 
creased, by a haughty but capable race of merchant- 
nobles. But the rule of these gentiluomini was 
weakened by perpetual fighting among themselves ; 
trouble arose from the claims of new men and of the 
smaller traders, and even the lower classes grasped 
the reins of government for a time. The gentil 
uomini engaged in constant conspiracy to regain 
their lost power, and in 1385 they were exiled from 
the city. 

Among the exiles were the Piccolomini, at this 
time an impoverished family. They cherished the 
tradition that, unlike most of the nobles of Italy, 
they were descended, not from barbarian conquerors, 
but from ancestors of Latin race. They had lost 
most of their fiefs, but they still owned the greater 
part of the village or townlet of Corsignano, a day s 
journey to the south of the city. Here Enea Silvio, 
the grandfather of the future Pope, contrived to 
maintain some show of rank. But he died in early 
manhood, and his posthumous son Silvio, left to 
the stewardship of guardians, found, when he grew 
up, that law-suits and bad management had very 
much decreased his heritage. His education had 


been so far attended to that he possessed some tinc 
ture of letters, but it was not enough to gain him 
employment. So he took service as a soldier of 
fortune under Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the ambitious 
and intriguing Lord of Milan. His early life was 
irregular ; 1 he made no great success in his profes 
sion, and he was wanting, either in the supple arts of 
a courtier, or in the ability that the Visconti de 
manded of their agents. He returned to Corsignano 
to till what remained to him of the paternal land, 
and vented his spleen by dispensing contemptuous 
remarks on the buffoons that haunted the Ducal 
Court. He brought a certain Vittoria of the House 
of Forteguerra, a young Sienese lady, as noble and 
as poor as himself, to the little homestead that one 
may still see standing on the hillside. He busily 
cultivated his few acres, and devoted his leisure to 
the Muses. On October 18, 1405, a son, the sub 
ject of our memoir, was born to him. The child was 
baptized by the names Enea Silvio, after his grand 
father, to which was added Bartolomeo, but the last 
name he dropped. Enea Silvio, best known in 
literature under the Latinised form ^Eneas Silvius, 
soon had a large company of brothers and sisters, 
several of them being twins. While they endowed 
the little homestead with family love, they increased 
the poverty and anxiety that beset it. 

Corsignano is a pleasant place. The scenery is not 
remarkable, but great woods of oak lie between it 
and Montepulciano, and chestnut forests invest the 
hills hard by. M. Amiata, mantled in white until 
quite late in the spring, and the singular cliffs of 

Sil., Ep. ad generator em> September 20, 1443. 


Rodocofani can be seen from the higher ground. 
There was enough to awaken the susceptibilities of a 
lad who became, of all the men of his time, a wooer of 
Nature and who, when he assumed the Tiara, was 
never so happy as when he could shake off the cere 
monies of Court, put aside for a time the responsi 
bilities of his great office, and, retiring to some silent 
Tuscan slope, liberate his soul as he gazed over vast, 
beautiful spaces, find interest in picking out the 
distant towers of cities that have memories, and 
seek for peace in the shelter of noble forest-trees that 
cast cool, grateful shadows over the bubbling brook. 
His life as a child was that of the Tuscan peasant- 
lad of to-day. He would follow the snow-white 
buffaloes as they tugged at the classic plough of hard 
wood, tipped with iron, watch the eye of his father 
fixed on the furrow, and the skilful hand with which 
he made his course, marvel at the deft, graceful swing 
of the sower, and laugh at the cheerful, dancing move 
ment of the feet as men trod the vintage. And in 
winter the children would squeeze together round 
the focolare and listen to tales of old Siena and of 
camps in Lombardy. After winter came a yearly 
miracle, for the skeletons of the woods sprang into life, 
and a minute of picking would give more violets than 
the arms could hold. At the vintage, then, as to-day, 
there would be the merry festa and the singing of 
sweet, simple songs. 

The little Piccolomini played with each other and 
with those children of the village that were their 
equals in rank. Once, it is said, they played at Pope- 
making, and, strange augury, the little Enea was 
chosen for the high office and the other children 


kissed his feet. He encountered and escaped the usual 
perils of a country-lad. When he was three years old 
he fell from a high wall on to a stone, and his scalp 
was terribly lacerated; but one Niccolo Monticuli, 
4 "a doctor without letters," as folk call empirics, 
cured him with water- dressing, though the case 
seemed without hope/ but holy water was used. 
And when he was eight a bull tossed him high in 
the air. 1 

At a very early age he had to help both parents in 
farm-work, since there were so many mouths to be 
fed. Yet his father found time to give the bright, 
eager lad such scholarship as he himself possessed. 
The rudiments Enea had already acquired from a 
young priest. Of all the sixteen children of Silvio 
and Vittoria, only two, Laodamia and Caterina, lived 
to see Enea s rapid advancement in the Church. 
Pestilence almost decimated this family, as it did 
most families in the fifteenth century. 

Enea must have proved himself a lad of parts, for 
an uncle by marriage, one Niccolo Lolli, a man of 
some position in Siena, offered to receive him into his 
family, and other relatives gave him help that he 
might study at Siena. So the young scholar betook 
himself, through lanes, to the winding high-road that 
lay not so very far off, and passing, belike, the 
pilgrims of many a far-off country, all bound for Rome, 
arrived at Siena full of high hope and the vague, 
flattering expectations of youth, to find himself ill- 
prepared to enter even so very poor a school of letters 
as Siena had become. The plebeian government of 
the republic was utilitarian in its views and parsi- 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 


monious in its rewards, and scholars forsook Siena for 
the gold that was showered on them at the courts of 
liberal princes. Enthusiasm for Greek, the most 
important influence in the intellectual development 
of the time, had not reached Siena : teachers of Greek 
demanded high fees, and manuscripts in that language 
were costly and difficult to acquire, and indeed the 
Byzantines were held in contempt. Italian pride in 
the literature and traditions of Rome held little sway 
in Siena at this period. 1 So Piccolomini learned no 
Greek, nor did he receive first-class tuition in Latin ; 
nor did he apply himself too closely to the lucrative 
study of law, though Siena had a good reputation for 
that subject, and it was the gate easiest to force and 
most likely to yield reward. But, like most young 
men of intellectual individuality, he was his own best 
teacher. His powers grew rather through converse 
with his companions than by the discipline of the 
schools. His most intimate friend was Mariano de 
Sozzini, a distinguished member of a distinguished 
race, many of whom cared for things of the mind, 
and two of whom finally gave their family name 
to a remarkable sect (the Socinians). Sozzini was a 
few years older than Piccolomini, and had already 
gained renown. A wife and other family obliga 
tions alone held him to Siena and its university. 
His mind was not, perhaps, of the highest order, but 
he was of that breed of universal men that the 
Renaissance produced. He was short of stature, but 
an all-round athlete, an accomplished dancer, and 
a refined libertine. As a jurist he was really great; 
he taught Canon law so well that scholars flocked 

1 Voigt, Enea Silvio de Piccolomini als Papst Pius II. Erster Band, 8. 


across the Alps to this second-rate university to sit at 
his feet. He knew some Philosophy, Mathematics, 
Astrology, Greek, and had dabbled in Medicine ; the 
fathers of the State consulted him on grave, political 
questions, but he could turn from a state-paper to 
write an agreeable letter or to paint. He could 
endow even law with interest for everybody but 
^Eneas. Yet the two became firm friends, and there 
can be little doubt that the young man found the 
elder an inspiring influence. 1 Another associate was 
Beccadelli, otherwise called Panormita, after his birth 
place, Palermo, 2 a man who became a magnificent 
humanist, yet who was the most corrupt of a corrupt 
tribe of scholars ; one who prostituted great powers 
in investing the worst sexual sins of the ancients 
with voluptuous grace, and whose Hermaphroditus 
is, as the title would indicate, dedicated to obscenity. 
If Piccolomini eschewed law, he stole hours from 
the night to read the classics, but he had come to 
Siena too ill-prepared and was too ill-taught there to 
achieve real scholarship. His poverty prevented him 
from purchasing manuscripts, so he borrowed the 
books of others and copied them out. His taste 
directed him to the study of Cicero, Horace, and the 
amatory poets ; of other authors he had little know 
ledge. He composed quite as much as he read : the 
cacoethes scribendi was upon him, and he practised 
writing historical descriptions and orations and 
letters in the style of Cicero. Latin was the way 
to advancement in days when that language was 
universally employed by princes, of no very high 

Sil., Comment, in Anton. Panorm., iii. 27 ; De vir. clar., xviii. 
2 ^En. Sil., Ep. ad Alphonsum reg. t January 27, 1454. 


education, in their state affairs. They were com 
pelled to rely on diplomatists who were good Latin 
scholars. All men were then enthusiastic over the 
new discoveries concerning ancient culture ; they 
attempted to reproduce it ; the standard of elegant 
Latinity went up, and the cultivated agents of 
princes conquered or were conquered by the eloquent 
presentation of a case, or even by the mere felicity of 
a phrase. 

Piccolomini poured forth much verse, too, both in 
Latin and the vernacular, most of it being such 
sensuous stuff as one under the vernal impulse of 
early manhood, and feeding on the amatory poets of 
antiquity, would naturally write imitations of Horace 
and Ovid and Petrarch ; but these verses were highly 
thought of by his contemporaries. He was a deft 
imitator rather than a true poet ; the lines were 
hammered out with skill; they never came singing 
into his brain ; but these juvenile exercises at least 
did him a service : they provided him with a large 
vocabulary and made him a facile and lively writer of 

Besides these agreeable diversions from severer 
studies, he enjoyed much joyous social intercourse 
with gifted men, most of them older than himself, but 
of sparkling wit and bubbling over with levity. His 
life was the irregular one of the mediaeval student ; 
the ladies of Siena, too, were not harsh ; yet, what 
ever his frailties may have been, he was guiltless of 
hypocrisy concerning them, and there was no coarse 
debauchery, for the Italian of the period invested 
even vice with grace and imagination, and was in 
capable of doing otherwise. 


^Eneas had a nature open to every impression, alive 
to all that may affect a man, swayed in every direc 
tion by all the allurements of sense and the stimula 
tions of intelligence. Such youth often grows into 
weak, ineffective manhood; but there are also rich, 
susceptible natures whose pollutions settle like the 
lees of a noble vintage and who are ultimately the 
richer, and not the poorer, for the infirmities that 
have beset them. They are more capable than 
others of comprehending human weakness, readier in 
compassion, juster in their estimates of men and life. 
They never become the heroes of a single idea, and 
therefore they never move the world as does the man 
whose whole being is inspired by one enthusiasm ; 
they never become tigers of wrath, but always 
remain as the more companionable, if less effective, 
horses of instruction. 

There came to Siena in the course of his duty the 
famous missioner, Bernardino, canonised soon after 
his death by the Church. Bernardino was a native 
of the city ; he was now forty-five years of age. 
Contemporaries bear witness to his scholarship, but 
appear to have been most impressed by the over 
whelming power of his eloquence. He could induce 
the fierce factions of Italy to renounce their enmities, 
and all who listened to him repented of their sins. 
Von Reumont says of him that he was one of those 
men who work by the fire of love, enkindling other 
hearts by the glow of their own/ 

The vast market-place was crowded with men, 
women, and children, assembled to hear the preacher. 
A great thunderstorm threatened to shake the city, 
but Bernardino prayed, and, lo ! the heavens were 


still. It is characteristic of ^Eneas that he was not 
ready to grant this to be a miracle. 1 He never ques 
tioned the theological belief of his time, but his 
temperament was sceptical, none the less. A miracle 
should always be mistrusted, so he wrote in his 
Commentaries on Panormitanus ; it was his perma 
nent conviction. 

Then the great preacher began. Cards and dice 
and the fripperies of fashion were cast into the flames 
at his burning words ; the heirs of bitter vendetta 
kissed each other and vowed brotherhood with 

Bernardino struck a deep chord in ^Eneas s soul. 
The student went to hear him again and again. He 
was so deeply impressed that he desired to devote 
his own life to the service of God. His friends tried 
hard to dissuade him, for they knew him better than 
he knew himself. Asceticism was not in -^Eneas s 
nature. At the end of his days, when he occupied 
the Papal throne, he visited a beautiful monastery, 2 
and he wrote of the happiness of those who may see 
it but are not compelled to remain. But nothing 
would prevent him from consulting Bernardino, who 
had gone on to Rome, and he took the long, 
painful way on foot. Bernardino must have possessed 
keen insight into character. He strongly dissuaded 
the young pilgrim from carrying out his intention, 
while his wise words of comfort brought balm to the 
tortured spirit. 8 This mission of the saint to Siena 
awoke religious sensibilities that became dormant 
again ; but early impressions, though they may be 

1 Voigt, loc. cit. p. 15. 2 Monte Oliveto, near Siena. 

3 Mn. SiL, Ep. ad Laurent. Leonard., September 13, 1445. 


obscured for a season, have wondrous vitality. It 
seems to us probable that, when the insurgent stress 
of impulse had abated, words neglected and forgotten 
through many years came at last to fruition, and the 
really vital principles of a strangely manifold nature 
stood revealed. 

-/Eneas was but twenty, and he soon plunged once 
again into the full stream of life. His nature was 
quick, eager, fertile, and the world in which he found 
himself was quick, eager, fertile too. The activities 
of all Italy were concentrated on the present, and on 
all things connected with the present, and, therefore, 
they were concerned with the wonderful past. The soil 
of the country bore the weight of many monuments 
of ancient greatness ; the plough almost daily turned 
up some precious, beautiful relic of antiquity ; the 
very dust under ^Eneas s foot was the dust of an 
heroic ancestry. The obscurest convent might be 
found to hoard some aged wreck of wisdom, some 
forgotten lore that was the instruction of centuries 
long passed into oblivion. Witnesses to the might 
and glory of Rome were ever before the eyes of her 
sons and daughters ; the echoes of her deep voice 
once again broke back from every storied hillside and 
rang down each memorable valley, the very air bore 
the music of great traditions. Caesar still dwelt 
beyond the northern snows ; he exercised no oppres 
sive authority ; he had become a welcome name that 
only echoed the ancient glory. The Papacy was 
content to accept the forms of punctilious respect as 
a substitute for the fervency of religious reverence, 
and few men vexed their souls with questions not 
directly connected with the vitality or the beauty 


of outward things. The absence of the Papacy at 
Avignon had given the Renaissance a free hand ; and, 
in the main, its spirit was pagan and antagonistic to 
Christian ideals. Men became sincerely interested 
in the brave show of this world only. They held life 
by a tenure none too secure ; everything was in 
hazard ; how long enjoyment might endure was at 
that time even more uncertain than is usual in our 
brief and deceptive life. Insecurity in possession 
invariably leads to a prodigal employment of all the 
means of present delight. Folk did not concern 
themselves too closely with moral problems, and were 
still less disposed to be interested in the subtleties of 
theological or metaphysical riddles. But the very 
insecurity of life and fortune that augmented the 
importance of the present provoked men s wit to 
preserve these endowments. Every one became pos 
sessed of an enhanced sense of the value of life to 
himself; and the struggle to obtain and keep all 
good things stimulated what is a natural prejudice 
and impelled men to seek and exhaust all the 
opulence that life may be made to yield. Mere 
physical gratification was tempered by reverence for 
the rediscovered wisdom of the Past. The dignity 
that pertained to Pagan sires conferred it on their 
Christian sons, and there was an essential fineness of 
grain in the Italian that rendered him passionately 
alive to every form of grace. Not enough of the past 
remained, however, to bind and restrict enterprise. 
Human society was putting forth new leaves and 
bearing unexpected fruitage. Believed from the 
oppression of earnest religious belief, uninhibited (as 
the modern man is) by the restraints of convention, 


the mediaeval man was a natural creature, full of hot 
emotion and strong impulse. He opened the gates 
of the soul wide to receive the distinction of letters, 
the pride of learning, the seemliness of manners, the 
grace of art, the splendour of heroism, the pathos of 
our mortality ; he was alive even to the nobility that 
may reside in renunciation and the dignity that may 
attend on devotion. But these visitants came as 
immediate and passionate convictions. The passions 
were tempered by self-interest only ; otherwise they 
were well-nigh as free as winds released. 

Four years after the visit of Bernardino to Siena, 
the one man of the western world who was a great 
Greek scholar came to Florence to teach (A.D. 1429). 
Francesco Filelfo, now thirty-one years of age, was 
the talk of literary Italy. Two years before he had 
landed at Venice, bringing a beautiful Greek bride 
with him from Constantinople. His mind was by 
no means remarkable for originality, and he was so 
vastly vain that it pleased him to take the wall of 
noble matrons, while his avarice placed his venomous 
pen at the disposal of the highest paymaster. But 
he had a genuine enthusiasm for letters, and an un 
questioned mastery of much of the ancient literature 
of Greece. Cardinals courted, scholars flattered him, 
for was he not capable of conveying that immortal 
fame which Dante coveted, which had kept Virgil 
and Horace alive, being dead, and had even now 
restored Plato to his kingdom ? 

The unexhausted kindness of relatives enabled our 
poor student to travel to Florence. He sat at 
Filelfo s feet, and, if he learned no Greek, he felt the 
influence of that remarkable stylist. He also fell 


under the sway of Poggio. His two years stay in 
Florence was no small factor in the development of 
his mind, for it brought him into contact with the 
ripest scholars and most cultivated men of the age. 
But he never became a scholar of the first rank, nor 
did he ever correspond with the great humanists on 
equal terms, as he did with those of inferior standing. 
Yet Filelfo thought so well of him that, when, in 
1431, his pupil went on an academic tour to Milan, 
Padua, and Ferrara, the Master gave him such an 
introduction as must have opened to him the doors of 
Aurispa and Guarini, and a brilliant circle of men of 
position, breeding, and high cultivation. The letter 
spoke of him as of good birth, very dear to me, one 
who has not only attended my lectures for two years, 
but possesses a lively wit, a ready tongue, and a 
taking, polished address. 1 

His relatives urged him to make use of this oppor 
tunity and secure some lucrative post. ^Eneas pos 
sessed his full share of the unbounded hopefulness 
and generous heedlessness of his years, though he 
was often in want of money. His dependence on his 
friends and the requirements of his own nature so 
far influenced him that he visited a famous jurist at 
Bologna, Giovanni da Imola. He found him a dull 
pedant, overfed with valueless erudition. 2 ^Eneas 
prized only such intelligence as is alive. Finally he 
started as a teacher at Siena, but he had barely 
settled there when war broke out. The republic of 
Lucca stood in the way of the Florentine merchants, 
who wanted a clear high-road to the sea, and their 

1 Voigt, loc. cit. p. 17, note i. 

2 JEin. SiL, De vir. clar., xix. 


designs caused a general war. Florence had the 
Pope and Venice for her allies. Siena, already out 
stripped by her rival, was forced to take arms, allied 
with Milan and Sigismund, King of the Germans and 
titular King of Rome. The prospects of success as a 
teacher, at a time of all-absorbing warfare, were small 
indeed, especially for one whose heart was far away 
in an ideal world of poems and orations and epistles, 
where the neatness of an epigram, not the sharpness 
of a sword, determined victory, and the joy of inno 
cent conquest was obtainable, at a flash, by a glowing 

But one of these curious accidents that combine 
with necessity to mould human destiny launched 
^Eneas into a new sphere. Henceforth for many 
years, with a few brief returns to his native land, 
he was to find a shifting home among rude, alien 
races across the Alps. The manner of this great 
change came about through certain happenings in 

For centuries the Eternal City had been a centre of 
disorder. Barons of the Campagna occupied and 
fortified the ruins of Imperial Rome, and fought each 
other for preponderance. The Popes vainly en 
deavoured to assert effective power. A tempestuous 
populace, proud of the Roman name, and dimly con 
scious of their past power and glory, endeavoured 
from time to time to restore them, to put an end to 
the encroachments of the Papacy, and to subdue the 
barons. But they had little wealth, save what the 
presence of the Papal court and the multitude of 
pilgrims brought them. Easily swayed to opposition, 
they were as fickle as they were powerless. They 


could neither live with Pope and Barons nor without 
them. When Martin v. reached Rome (Sept. 1420), 
he found his position one of extreme difficulty : it 
demanded all the resolute persistence and self-control 
that marked the man. The countryside swarmed 
with brigands, and, at first, he was obliged to make 
Braccio, the great soldier of fortune, Vicar of the 
Church, and to rely on him and his army to keep 
order in the Papal possessions. Martin was of the 
great family of Colonna, and he called on his powerful 
house for support ; he protected his overlordship of 
the kingdom of Naples by obtaining important fiefs 
in that realm for his brothers ; and he secured the 
Keys of the States of the Church by putting the most 
important fortresses in the hands of his nephews. He 
allowed the corporation of Rome to retain juridical 
and municipal powers, but he dominated the city 
as its monarch. The Romans prospered under his 
rule, and an unfriendly biographer admits that the 
streets and roads became secure, a thing unknown 
for two hundred years. * Prosperity made the 
Romans ready for revolt. The great family of 
Orsini were bitter enemies of the Colonna, and, 
at the death of Martin, the rival families came to 
open war. 

Now, among the many able servants of Martin was 
a young man, only a few years older than JEneas, one 
Domenico Pantagale, bishop of Fermo, better known 
as Capranica, from a rock-fortress of that name. 
Capranica belonged to a family that adhered to the 
Colonna ; and, indeed, the fortress was one of the 
possessions of that imperious race. He had studied 

1 Muratori, Eerum Italicarum Scriptores, iii. p. 538. 


at Padua under Cesarini ; von Cues (Cusa), 1 the 
German, was a fellow-pupil ; and there was little differ 
ence between the ages of these three distinguished 
men. Capranica was shy, modest, and hardworking ; 
he could do with little sleep ; he was very learned in 
both Civil and Canon Law, and was also a lover of 
literature. His advancement in the Church was 
singularly rapid, for his great erudition was matched 
by his administrative ability, and his piety was un 
questioned. For fear of jealousy, his early elevation 
to the cardinalate was kept a secret, except to himself 
and his colleagues in the Sacred College. Later, 
Capranica s accession to the purple was published ; but 
he was away at Perugia, in the capacity of legate, at 
the time, and it was customary to send the Red 
Hat, the ensign of office, only to those absentees who 
were far away, employed in important foreign lega 
tions. On account of the unsettled state of Perugia, 
Capranica remained there, but when Martin died 
(February 29, 1431), he at once rode off to Rome. 
Now he had once held a financial office in that city, and 
the citizens regarded him, no less than the late Pope 
and all his abettors, as an extortionate taxmaster. 
Moreover, the ancient feud between the Colonna and 
Orsini had been aggravated by the rule of a Pope 
belonging to the former family- a Pope who used his 
relatives to consolidate his power and the Orsini did 
not forget the close relation in which Capranica stood 
to their foes. Capranica dared not enter the city, 
but he remained immediately outside the walls, 
and strove, through the intervention of friends, to 
obtain admission to the Conclave assembled for 

1 From Cues on the Mosel. 


the election of a new Pope. But he failed, and 
Eugenius iv., immediately on his election, roused 
himself against the Colonna. Capranica experienced 
the full force of the storm ; his palace was sacked, 
his benefices and possessions declared forfeit, and 
he had to seek safety in a stronghold belonging to 
the Colonna. 

He determined to go to Basel, where a council of 
the whole Christian Church was sitting, and seek 
justice and redress. Since Siena was at this time at 
war with the Papacy, while Florence was the Pope s 
ally, the only safe route lay through Sienese territory. 
And there Capranica heard of the talents of a young 
man of twenty-six, just five years his junior, one who 
was well read in the classics, could give a turn to a 
clever speech, or bestow a sparkle on a letter, had a 
little knowledge of law, and sought employment. So 
Capranica engaged Enea Silvio Piccolomini as his 
secretary, and thus the first introduction of the young 
humanist to public life was under the auspices of a 
man who had just cause of animosity against both 
Pontiff and Curia, and whom circumstances com 
pelled to seek the protection and support of the 
predominant party in the Church, a party that claimed 
all oecumenical councils to be above the Pope, and- 
loudly demanded reorganisation of the Church and 
reform in its administration. The future Pope thus 
entered life in the service of an enemy to the full 
pretensions of the Papacy : he was introduced to a 
scene where he could witness the infant stumblings 
of religious liberty. 

He was destined to serve three cardinals, three 
bishops, and an emperor before he came to readjust 


Pintitricc/iio. Siena. 


his views, adopt the conservative side, and seek the 
feet of Eugenius. 1 

On account of the war, Capranica and his little 
party took ship at Piombino, intending to disembark 
at Genoa, a friendly port, for it was at this time 
under the standard of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke 
of Milan, a bitter adversary of the Pope. But when 
the ship had sighted Elba, and lay between that 
island and Corsica, a dreadful storm arose. First 
the craft was driven into the Gulf of Lyons by a 
violent wind, and then the hurricane turned round 
on itself and blew from the north. It seemed to 
^Eneas as if they might be driven on to the African 
coast, where the lot of a slave would await them. 
But the hurricane veered again, and forced them 
through the Straits of Bonifaccio, and, somewhat 
abating, they were happy in being able to sail at 
last into Porto Venere and find shelter there. After 
a while the sea became calm enough for them to set 
their sails again, and they ultimately reached Genoa, 
where Capranica was warmly welcomed. ^Eneas s 
sharp eye took in all the salient points of the famous 
city, and, when he reached his journey s end, he 
wrote a wonderful description of the place to a young 
Sienese friend. 2 

Thence they proceeded to Milan, where the crafty, 
intriguing, pusillanimous duke received them in 
person. Then they rode up the valley of the Ticino, 
followed the arduous track that led over the snows 
of the St. Gothard, pursued the dangerous path above 

1 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Petr. de Noxeto, May 7, 1456. The cardinals were 
Capranica, Albergati and Cervantes : two of the bishops were those of 
Novara and Freising ; the third is unknown. 

2 ^En. Sil, Ep. ad Geo. Andrentium, April 1432. 


the leaping torrents that have eaten the mountains 
into such awe-inspiring chasms, reached the cliffs that 
line the Lake of the Four Cantons, and so passed, 
through a landscape that was just returning the first 
smile of spring, to Basel (A.D. 1432). Among the 
little company that took this perilous journey was 
another young secretary, one Piero da Noceto. 
./Eneas and Noceto were near of an age; they had 
faced death together ; they had many tastes in 
common, and they formed, during these adventures, 
a friendship that was intimate and enduring. ./Eneas 
was a cordial man ; he was happy in the society of 
his fellows, and turned his best side towards them ; 
they found his geniality irresistible, and he acquired 
unerring knacks of winning their favour. He had 
a warm, large heart, and was capable of deep and 
unswerving affection. If he sought the society and 
favour of the great it was because he was needy, 
and must set his sail to catch every favouring breeze. 
But he was happiest when he could be with those to 
whom he might disclose his heart and be entirely 
himself. Such was his character as a young man; such 
it remained throughout life. When he shall be Pope 
we shall find him forgetting his dignity in the society 
of two real friends with whom he had deep sympathy 
both were learned men, and in one way or another 
shared his tastes. Ammanati, fond of authorship 
and the chase, and Campano, loving incisive jests and 
kindly satire, the one, the son of lowly people of 
Peschia, the other of no nobler descent than the 
peasantry of that Campagna from which he took his 
name, were chosen to be his bosom-companions by 
Pope Pius ii. 


At Basel the two young secretaries found gathered 
together the most brilliant representatives of the 
States of Western Europe and her universal Church : 
here were the ambassadors of many nations, humanists 
of widest culture, scholars of profoundest learning, 
and princes of the Church. Sometimes, too, the 
Emperor came to preside in person over the meetings 
of the famous Council. 




,/ENEAS found himself occupying a humble position, 
but, at least, he was a member of a cardinal s house 
hold, and brought, thereby, into contact with princes, 
ambassadors and scholars ; he had opportunity to 
acquire a knowledge of men and of how to deal with 
them ; he was in a school of manners and diplomacy. 
The Council, too, was a great stage whereon practical 
statesmen and thinkers of many shades of opinion 
and of many nations played their part. Momentous 
problems were presented at Basel ; divergent political 
aims found expression there ; ecclesiastical discontent 
opposed itself to pontifical claims ; racial differences 
and national aspirations made themselves apparent ; 
the revolt of the people, dimly conscious of social 
injustice and oppression, manifested itself under the 
guise of religious reform. JEneas found himself in 
an arena of fierce theological strife. But in order to 
grasp the nature of that conflict, no less than to 
comprehend what was in ^Eneas s mind when he 
became Pope, it is necessary to search for underlying 
causes ; and these are best exhibited by reviewing, 
in swift flight, certain aspects of antecedent history. 
When the half-barbarous races that occupied the 


western portion of what had been the Roman Empire 
accepted the Christian faith, the Bishop of Rome 
became the sole central authority of the dismembered 
State, and he demanded the allegiance of the Christian 
world. Leo in. took it on himself to treat the incur 
sion and rule of Teutonic chieftains as an interregnum ; 
he revived the Empire and invested Charlemagne, 
the Frank, with the imperial name (A.D. 800). Nor 
did it seem so very strange a proceeding, for bar 
barian conquerors had been wont to give an appear 
ance of legality to their government by ruling as 
vicars of the Empire, and in the palmiest days of 
Rome many a great Caesar was of foreign blood. 
The Empire of Charlemagne had a feudal constitu 
tion ; and the Emperor and his feudatories fostered 
and endowed the Church. The barbarians had to 
be ruled as well as baptized, and, from an early 
period, the Church found territorial rights, social 
rank and baronial privileges indispensable to her 
existence, and even the Pope himself was compelled 
to reign or disappear. Hence the Church welcomed 
grants of land from feudal lords, and strove and 
intrigued for them until fully one -third of Western 
Europe came into her possession. The Church thus 
found herself immeasurably the largest landowner in 
the world. And not merely did the revenues of fiefs 
fall into ecclesiastical hands, but Europe was drained 
of vast sums that flowed into Papal coffers in the 
form of contributions. Thus, while without secular 
power and wealth, there had been no effective pro 
tection of religion, with secular power and wealth 
came the germs of discontent and decay. The 
holders of rich benefices grew more and more worldly ; 


they were bound to take the side of their immediate 
superiors in all quarrels (and when was the feudal 
world at peace ?) ; ecclesiastical office fell to the scions 
of powerful families who were very unfitted to hold 
it, and who led the same kind of life as their 
relatives : nor did the most piously disposed Church 
man utter loud complaint, for feudal possessions 
required knightly defence. Corruption and seculari 
sation of the Church resulted. 

It became the constant aim of that great statesman 
Hildebrand (Gregory vn.) to set the Church free 
from civil and military control, while it should retain 
that wealth and power and show of splendour neces 
sary to impress so ungracious a world. He desired, 
moreover, to subdue all nations to Home, to subject 
all rulers to a theocracy, wherein the Vicar of Christ 
should be the redresser of wrongs, the dispenser of 
justice, and the fountain of power among the contend 
ing races of Christianity. The Pope this was the 
theory of the Church alone held supreme spiritual 
sway, and the successors of Charlemagne and the Othos 
were his delegates, even as he himself was the delegate 
of God ; the Pope was the overlord of rulers, who, 
with their underlords, administered an Empire that 
was continuous with that of the antique Roman world. 
The Emperor, it is true, held supreme temporal 
authority, but spirit is superior to flesh, and there 
are temporal matters that are subject to spiritual 
dictation. * I am Emperor/ said Boniface vin. to 
Albert of Hapsburg, when he sought confirmation ; 
and, in the famous bull of November 18, 1302, the 
same Pontiff declared every human creature to be 
subject to the Pope. It was proclaimed, moreover, 


that the temporal sword was held only ad nutum et 
patientiam sacerdotis by the assenting nod and 
forbearance of the Pontiff : so spake the ambassadors 
of Innocent in. to the King of France. And, to-day, 
the Pope is crowned as Father of kings and princes ; 
ruler of the world. 

But mediaeval Caesars were unwilling to submit 
tamely to such limitations of their authority ; tem 
poral rulers were indignant at the presumption of 
Churchmen whom they had raised to wealth and 
power, and who were still their feudatories. From 
the eleventh century, the swords of Pope and 
Emperor were stained with blood ; for princes and 
barons and townships took sides to advance their 
own interests, and neither Pope nor Emperor had 
sufficient power to establish their claims or control 
their followers. For a time victory favoured the Popes. 
They humbled the proud house of Hohenstauffen to 
the dust. Yet their success was a triumph of the 
spirit only : they were unable to establish victory by 
the force of arms. At the beginning of the fourteenth 
century, the Pope had vanquished his opponents ; but, 
in his own home, he was weaker than the weakest of 
the barons around him. In many critical moments 
he had received help from France. He sought a 
haven of refuge from the menaces of the Roman 
nobility and the Roman populace, and for seventy 
years he found one at Avignon. But in Italy he had 
dwelt in a city that retained Imperial traditions, and 
exhibited Imperial magnificence, and there he was 
surrounded by many wealthy states that neutralised 
each other s power. At Avignon he was under the 
shadow of a single crown. He still bore a name of 


might, but the continuity of historical tradition was 
fractured. He had not transferred Rome to Provence. 
The city on the Rhone was no New Rome on the 
Bosphorus ; his palace, however imposing, was not 
the Lateran or even the Vatican ; it was only a 
magnificent mansion in a provincial town. Seven 
successive pontiffs were Frenchmen, holding French 
fiefs, and therefore vassals of the French crown ; they 
were surrounded by French influence and dominated 
by French interests. A French King dared to say, 
It is I who am Pope. 1 The influence of French 
Cardinals, the disturbed state of Italy, and the con 
dition of Rome, now a ruined city, prevented the 
return of the Popes. They became greedy of gold, 
for the Italian states, the wealthiest in the world, 
almost ceased to contribute to the Papal coffers, lest 
their gold should be employed in building up the 
power of France. The Church became more and more 
worldly, less and less subject to authority. 

Then schism broke out, and the nations took the 
side of one or the other of rival Pontiffs as best suited 
their own conflicting interests : the Church was riven 
almost to its foundations. Both Pontiffs eagerly 
sought the support of princes ; both were in financial 
difficulties ; such ancient contrivances for raising 
money as annates, reservations, and expectancies 
assumed scandalous proportions, and the respect 
given to the Papacy was undermined. The notion 
of a universal Church that should bind the nations 
together in a common allegiance and Christian 
brotherhood, and subject them to a common authority, 

1 Pastor, L., History of the Popes, English trans., 1891. vol. i. 
p. 134. 


was so weakened, and the spirit of nationality was 
already so strong, that there were those who wished 
each country to have its own Pope, and thought that 
the schism was a sign that this was the intention of 
the Holy Spirit. 1 

Nor was this all. The splendour of the throne of 
the Fisherman, the pomp and arrogance of wealthy 
ecclesiastics, their indolence and self-indulgence, 
excited deep discontent among spiritually minded 
men, and deep resentment, by no means always dumb, 
among the people. It fostered heresy ; it caused a 
demand for reform ; it provided a rallying cry for the 
oppressed labouring classes. 

For it will be found that racial differences, social 
inequalities, economic pressure, and economical greed 
are not merely the deep sources, or at least the sup 
port, of political antagonisms, but that they often 
underlie the acrid contest of creeds. Religion has 
often been the rallying cry that has gathered men to 
battle for far other causes. Like the boughs cut from 
Birnam wood, it has covered an unsuspected advance. 
The banner that bore the sacred Cup, the loyalty due 
to the King of Heaven has proved a signal to conflict 
no less effective than a party-badge or a princely 
name. Heresies flourished most in those parts of the 
Ancient Empire where centrifugal tendencies had 
most power ; it was mainly the ragmen of Milan who 
became Patarines ; the dregs of the labouring classes, 
deprived of the benefits of trade-associations, joined 
the Cathari ; of such were the Pauvres de Lyon and 
the masses that followed Pierre Valdo ; it was the 
English hind that became a Lollard. One may find 

1 Schwab, Johannes Gerson, pp. 122, 123. 


in all the heresies of the Middle Ages some attempt 
to revive the simple brotherhood of the first Christians, 
some renewal of the social doctrine of the Master, 
some crude and impracticable form of Communism. 
Sometimes these dangerous forces could be controlled : 
ecclesiastical statesmanship enticed the Franciscans 
and other orders to obedience, but the Albigensian 
and various other Communistic outbreaks had to be 
eradicated by fire and sword. Heresy allied itself 
with social discontent, and indulged in dreams of 
social reconstruction. The outbreaks of the degraded 
peasantry of France against their oppressors, when 
these were weakened by the wars with England, the 
revolts of the wool-dressers of Florence and Siena 
towards the end of the fourteenth century revealed 
to thinking men the presence of concealed forces that 
might wreck that institution of property, without 
which neither States nor Church nor culture nor 
comfort nor any form of religion might exist. Pope 
and king, bishop and baron and merchant, beneficed 
priest and barefooted friar, whatever their private 
feuds might be, were always ready to unite in crush 
ing heresy ; for heresy was not only a religious per 
versity, but it dallied with dreams perilous to the 
safety and welfare of both Church and State ; it was 
frequently responsible for fierce, irrational, and alarm 
ing outbursts. And, if for no other reason than to 
subdue heresy, it was very necessary to reunite the 
divided Church ; to lead the peoples, still religiously 
disposed, aright, and to remove sources of discontent 
by reform. National ideals were still inchoate, the 
spiritual bond of the Western world, though weakened, 
was still unbroken; a General Council of the uni- 


versal Church should give force and authority to 
principles that were universally acknowledged. 

General Councils of the Church had been wont to 
assemble from a comparatively early period. But 
they were not without menace to the authority 
claimed by the Papacy, and the principle they in 
volved could readily be turned against kings. William 
of Occam, not the least distinguished of that illus 
trious group of thinkers who, for keenness of intellect, 
have never been surpassed, set forth that the infalli 
bility of the Church lay in its belief at all times and 
in all places ; therefore a Pope might err and be 
deposed by a General Council, or even by the Emperor, 
acting as supreme authority over the Christian world. 
While Trionfo,an Italian Guelf, and Pelago, a Spaniard, 
emphasised the doctrine of Papal absolutism (for was 
not the Pope the Vicar of God ?), Marsiglio of Padua, 
the great Ghibelline thinker, boldly declared in his 
Defensor Pads, a book dedicated to Louis of Bavaria, 
that rulers, whether of the Church or of the world, 
possess but delegated authority derived from the 
people ; the Church, as represented by a general 
assemblage of its most intelligent members, is supreme 
over Popes ; and, moreover, since Popes have been 
known to misuse their temporal power as well as to 
err in spiritual matters, the property of the Church 
may be regulated and even confiscated by the State. 
Such a doctrine as this was a two-edged sword ; it 
was convenient to use against a foe, but it might be 
turned against one s self. Pope and monarch, in spite 
of their variances, found this and similar theories 
none too agreeable, and hence the temporal ruler 
always hesitated to renounce the spiritual yoke, and, 


if he occasionally rebelled, he invariably resumed it 
quietly. For the supremacy of the Papacy sym 
bolised and was a guarantee of established order. 

The Universities were in favour of councils, and the 
Universities carried great weight, for in them lay 
the most important intellectual force of the age. The 
acutest minds in Europe, men drawn from every 
country and from every class, men mostly of mature 
years, were to be found at these centres of learning. 
The University was a democratic, self-governing body. 
Students, as well as professors, voted alike in the 
passing of measures, each c nation having an elective 
voice. The study of theology was not encouraged in 
Italy, and there, as well as in Europe generally, the 
Universities were chiefly occupied with the practical 
studies of law and medicine. But Paris had been 
remarkable for the freedom and ability of its theo 
logians, even in the time of the Schoolmen : it pursued 
knowledge for its own sake. Students flocked to 
Paris from every country, and the decisions of its 
doctors in theology came to be regarded as authori 
tative. Still, the Papacy was not likely to forget that 
Paris had produced such heretics as Abelard and 
Arnold of Brescia, and might prove but a perilous 
support to orthodox doctrine and Papal theory. 

The proposal of a Council to put an end to the 
Great Schism emanated from the University of Paris. 
There was intellectual anarchy as well as heresy and 
schism in Europe, and men sought to find some 
lawful court of appeal, capable of pronouncing final 
judgments. The rival wearers of the Tiara were asked 
to refer their claims to a General Council, and they 
affected to consent. An incompletely representative 


Synod assembled at Pisa (A.D. 1409) deposed both 
Popes and elected a third. But the result was that 
there were now three Popes in the place of two. 
Yet Plavus, a doctor in theology of Paris, had de 
clared the Pope to be the delegate of the Church ; 
for, if elected by cardinals, these were originally 
appointed by bishops, and therefore a General Council 
must be possessed of full power to depose a Pope. 
If it be not so, is not the spirit above the letter ? l 
And such was the revolution in the minds of thinking 
men that some held the presence of peril to absolve 
from the obligation of law. 2 Sigismund, the astute 
Emperor, was not slow to perceive the need of recon 
stituting authority. He was still quicker to recognise 
his opportunity for recovering something of the 
ancient prestige attached to his office. In default 
of a Pope, he, as Defender of the Christian faith, 
summoned a council to assemble at Constance, and 
invited the princes of Europe, or their envoys, to 
attend. It met in 1414, and he presided in person. 
To counteract the predominance of the Italian clergy, 
the procedure of universities was copied. Voting was 
taken according to e nations, often hostile enough 
to each other. Only ecclesiastics of rank voted, but 
Masters in Theology and Doctors of Canon Law had 
a consultative voice. Pisa had been visited by many 
of these academicians, but Constance was full of 
them, and the streets resounded with the denuncia 
tion of cardinals ; there was even an attempt made 
to exclude them. 3 The lower clergy and the monks 
were busy at every street corner, preaching revolu- 

1 Schwab, loc. cit. pp. 106-108. 2 Pastor, loc. cit. pp. 192, 193. 

3 Zimmermann, Die Kirchlichcn Verfassungskampfe, p. 29. 


tionary doctrine and demanding reform. The revolt 
of the Hussites forced on the cry. Hatred of the 
corruption of the Church, conjoined with social dis 
content, found expression in heresy, and heresy 
produced a revolt within the Church itself against 
its existing constitution. 

Reform was impossible. Everybody was eager 
to reform others ; no party was willing to reform 
itself. Had it been willing there were still too many 
vested interests to overthrow ; in spite of a few 
earnest men there was a vast inertia to overcome ; 
there were intricate political and other complications 
to deal with, and what one faction proposed another 
rejected. But the Council declared its own supremacy 
and that of all oecumenical synods over the Papacy, 
burned John Hiis, the heretic, whose party inclined 
towards and was in league with the advocates of 
dangerous social doctrines, and so managed matters 
as to give the Church a fresh start. Martin v., of 
the Roman house of Colonna, ascended the Papal 
throne with the consent of the whole Catholic world 
(A.D. 1417). 

The ideal of the men of Constance was essentially 
republican, for it aimed at converting the Papacy 
into a mere constitutional monarchy. Now the Pope, 
hitherto supported by the Sacred College, had come 
in the Middle Ages to hold himself as absolute 
sovereign ; but so abased was the Papacy at the end 
of the Great Schism that the Sacred College tried to 
place severe limits on the power of the Pontiff 
and to exalt itself. The Sacred College, though 
it hated the Council, imitated it. Oligarchical govern 
ment, and not absolutism, was its ideal. 


Martin was a born ruler, but the Papal States and 
the Papal Exchequer were in such disorder that he 
had small opportunity of effecting the smallest reform. 
Had he attempted it, he would at once have driven 
the Sacred College into rebellion. He was bent, 
moreover, on the restoration of the Papal power, for 
he saw that the battle for supremacy had not been 
fought out to a finish. He fulfilled his promise to 
hold a Council every seven years, and he summoned 
one to meet at Pavia (A.D. 1427). Plague visited 
the city, and Alfonso of Aragon, the claimant to the 
throne of Naples (which was a Papal fief), intrigued 
with certain of the Council against Martin; so the 
Synod was transferred to Siena, and the small attend 
ance there furnished the Pope with a pretext for 
its dismissal. He was too keen and far-sighted a 
statesman not to perceive that the success of the 
Council would mean the destruction of the unity 
of the Catholic Church. The Church would break 
up into fragments. The sole hope for Unity lay in 
Papal absolutism. The Papacy, though restored 
by a Council, was menaced by the Conciliar 

Martin v. was succeeded in 1431 by Gabriello Con- 
dulamaro, a Venetian, a man of somewhat intimidat 
ing appearance, but easily accessible, of simple habits, 
pious, and so generous that he was in debt throughout 
his life. He was magnanimous/ wrote ^Eneas of 
him, but without any moderation ; his actions were 
ill-considered, and regulated rather by his desires 
than by any consideration of the possibility of carry 
ing them out/ The cardinals, who had suffered from 
the stormy personality of Martin, signed a document 


before they proceeded to elect a new Pope, whereby, 
whoever of their number should be elected, bound him 
self by oath to such restrictions as made the Apostolic 
Chair little more than the presidential seat of a 
permanent committee. 1 But such a renunciation, 
though not solitary in the history of the Papacy, 
could not be held valid, since it was contrary to Papal 
duty, and, in fact, not one Pope only rescinded his 
oath after election, and it became a dead letter. 

Eugenius fulfilled his obligation to summon a new 
Council. It met at Basel (A.D. 1431), and the Pope 
sent a Cardinal-legate to preside at its sittings. This 
legate was the famous Giuliano de Cesarini, a man 
now thirty-three years of age, eloquent, learned, and 
of independent mind. Though of noble birth, he was 
so poor a youth that, as a student at Perugia, he had 
been obliged to collect the ends of candles to pursue 
his nocturnal studies. He became a professor of Canon 
Law at Padua, but Martin v. was so impressed by his 
abilities that he gave him rapid promotion. Cesarini s 
bearing was dignified, his features and his manner were 
pleasing. He was of ascetic disposition, dining sparely, 
sleeping in a hair-shirt, and keeping nocturnal vigils 
in church ; yet he was neither hard nor narrow. He 
could maintain the dignity of his rank with princes, 
converse genially with all, and had so little disposi 
tion to scorn the humble that he was never known to 
neglect paying a daily visit to his sick stable-boy. 
He never forgot the days of his own poverty ; and he 
rejoiced to set apart a portion of an income, that was 
none too large for the great office he held, for the 
support of poor students. He would even sell his 

1 Kaynaldus, Ad ann. 1431. 


books to help the needy. He refused benefices, for 
it was not consonant with his conscience to be a 
pluralist. Cardinal Branda was wont to say that if 
the entire Church became corrupt there was force 
and purity enough in Cesarini to reform it, and 
Bistucci wrote : I have known many holy men, but 
none like Cardinal Cesarini. For the office to which 
he was now appointed he had great qualifications. 
He had won the respect of everybody ; he was a man 
of great experience in affairs, skilful at organisation, 
and, best of all, he possessed that rare gift, temperate 
and unprejudiced judgment. 

The Council commenced its sittings March 12, 
1431, but Cesarini did not arrive at Basel before 
the end of the year. He was dealing with a difficulty 
that the Council would also soon have to encounter ; 
one that, later on, occupied the attention of ^Eneas, 
one that bequeathed a problem to vex his pontificate 
it was the fierce rebellion of the Hussites in Bohemia. 

John Huss, or Hiis, a native of that country, taught 
that no one had a right to hold property save true 
believers, nor ought a ruler to be acknowledged unless 
his life were such as to be approveable by God. 
Strange conclusions were involved in these theological 
tenets, so strange that Louis Blanc calls Hiis the 
precursor of the French Revolution, and Denis says 
that he was the real originator of the rebellion that 
ended in the destruction of Catholic unity. But Hiis 
derived his views from England. Owing to the mar 
riage of a Bohemian princess to an English king, 
Lollardism, a heresy that denounced luxury and in 
clined towards communism, passed over into Bohemia, 
and a large majority of the followers of John Hiis 


embraced advanced communistic doctrines. His death 
at the stake was followed by universal riots, and 
when Wenceslaus, the king of Bohemia, supported the 
Council of Constance, which condemned Hiis, nearly 
the whole Czech nation withdrew their allegiance. 
Under the able statesman, Nicholaus of Pistna, and 
the practised general, John Ziska, they conducted 
offensive and defensive campaigns with perfect success. 
The root of all these terrible wars is to be found in 
the presence of silver mines of almost fabulous value 
near the German frontier. These attracted a German 
population, the owners were Germans, and the German 
race began to dominate the Czech. Even in the 
rebellion against Sigismund (A.D. 1420), when Czech 
and Teuton fought side by side, it was found necessary 
to give them different quarters. 1 But this racial 
antagonism was complicated and intensified by an 
antagonism of the poor to the rich. The working of 
her silver mines made Bohemia the wealthiest country 
in Europe. I believe, wrote ^Eneas, in his History 
of Bohemia, that no land was so full of imposing and 
richly decorated churches. They raised one s thoughts 
to the skies. The high altars were heavily laden with 
gold and silver caskets for relics ; the robes of the 
clergy were rich and embroidered with pearls ; the 
sacred vessels were well-nigh priceless. . . . And all 
this magnificence was to be found, not in cities alone, 
but in villages even. The impoverished Czech, who 
hated the wealthy German, heard the doctrines of 
Hiis gladly, and soon the poor of the land, German as 
well as Czech, united in hate of their wealthy and 
powerful Catholic oppressors, whether they were of 

1 Maurice, C. E., History of Bohemia, p. 142. 


German blood or of Czech. For, owing to the increase 
of wealth, the peasantry paid in money and not in 
kind, and so they could be squeezed and oppressed ; 
common-lands were seized by an arrogant nobility, 
and an attempt was made to tie the labourer to the 
soil. Therefore the peasantry crowded into the towns 
and filled them with a hungry host. The poorer 
nobility, ruined by the Crusades, and hating the 
new German magnates (who plumed themselves on a 
higher civilisation), led the ranks of the discontented. 
The city of Prague was near the mines ; its university 
was under the control of contemptuous Germans. 
The Czech armed himself against the German ; the 
peasantry, aided by the poorer nobility, rose against 
the rich landowners, the rich miners, the rich traders, 
and the rich Church. 1 But, in the fifteenth century, 
ecclesiastical theory was the only theoretical system 
that existed the only expression of human thought 
that was formulated. The Hussites demanded that 
the Blood as well as the Body of the Saviour should 
be administered to the laity at Communion, and they 
were consequently known as Calixtines or Utraquists. 
They bore the sacred Cup on their banners, and behind 
these standards were arrayed, not merely the masses 
that had been forced there by economic pressure, but 
zealous reformers that were animated by an earnest 
desire for the purification of the Church and the 
destruction of its temporal power. Bohemia became 
a democratic republic with a strong impulse towards 
communism. The doctrines prevalent there extended 

1 Kautsky (Communism in Central Europe) gives an admirable account 
of the forces at work in Bohemia, though in the author s judgement he brings 
out the material factors at the expense of the spiritual. 


to almost every part of Western Europe. It was the 
blind commencement of a social revolution, the full 
force of which has not even yet hurled itself on the 
world. In 1424, the Cardinal-legate sent to Poland 
proclaimed that the object of his mission was the 
salvation of society. A large proportion of the 
heretics/ he said, maintain that everything should 
be held in common and no tax or obedience is due to 
superiors. Their purpose is to put an end to all 
Divine ancl human rights by force, and it will come 
about that neither kings, princes in their rule, citizens 
in their burghs, nor individuals in their own homes 
will be safe from their effrontery. This detestable 
heresy not only attacks the Faith and the Church, 
but, impelled by Satan, wages war on all society, and 
attacks and destroys its rights/ 1 

The legate attributes these doctrines to a large 
proportion of the heretics only. As is invariably the 
case in new movements, the successful rebels were 
divided among themselves by economic and social 
forces. The various factions also arrayed themselves 
in the garb of religious distinctions. The most extra 
vagant heresies were associated with the most radical 
social experiments, and were chiefly to be found 
among the poor. It was the sweated wool-sorter of 
Siena and Florence that revolted in the middle of the 
preceding century; it was the weaver who was pro 
minent among the Waldenses of Southern France, the 
Apostilicians of Northern France, and the Lollards of 
England : the wool trade was foremost in this move 
ment also. 2 

1 Quoted by Pastor, loc. cit., i. 164. 

2 Kautsky, Communism in Central Europe, Eng. tr., pp. 54-56. 


Driven out by the supporters of order, these heretics 
of a heresy withdrew to certain hill-tops, of which 
one, Tabor, gave them their name of Taborites. Like 
their predecessors in the heretical movements of pre 
vious centuries, in their endeavour to attain a rational 
communism they indulged in strange doctrines and 
practices, such as ordered promiscuity, or celibacy, 
or voluntary destitution ; some even went about 
naked. Of the Adamites ^Eneas writes : They 
indulged in promiscuous intercourse, but no one 
might take a leman without the consent of Adam, 
their chief elder. When one of these brethren 
ardently desired a sister, he took her by the hand, 
and, going with her to the chief elder, said, " My soul 
is afire with love of this woman." Whereupon the 
elder would reply, "Go, be fruitful and multiply and 
replenish the earth." l Ziska, the Bohemian general, 
burned fifty Adamites in one day. They entered the 
flames rejoicing and exclaiming, This day we shall 
reign with Christ/ Heretics, less progressive than 
the Adamites, stormed their refuge and put them all 
to the sword. 

Notwithstanding these internal dissensions, the 
hosts of Europe were hurled against the heretics in 
vain. Over and over again the chivalry of Europe 
collected together : over and over again it was 
repelled and dispersed. Cesarini was employed in 
the difficult task of persuading the German princes, 
by no means too friendly to each other, to unite yet 
once more and put an end to this rebellion against 
the Papacy and Empire. He succeeded in uniting 
the princes ; but this new crusade ended in crushing 

1 ^En. Sil., De Ortu et Hist. Bohemiae. 


defeat, and he came to Basel at the end of the year 
(1431) to take the President s chair at the Council. 
The Council had two main duties before it to reform 
the Church and to put down heresy. The liberty of 
judgement which it claimed for itself it did not 
extend to others. Yet the claim expressed a revolu 
tionary movement in the Church. 




THE Council was enthusiastic for the reform of the 
Church. The Papacy knew the difficulties attendant 
on reform, and that, in the hands of a Council, any 
serious attempt to reach the root of the evil would 
induce anarchy and divide Catholicism into a multi 
tude of warring sects. Moreover, though John of 
Segovia tells us that the Curia did not know that the 
Council of Constance had declared itself superior to 
the Papacy, 1 it is difficult to believe that the lack of 
official information prevented Pope and Curia from 
learning what must have been so generally discussed. 
Eugenius made the small attendance at the opening 
of the Council an excuse to dissolve it (December 18, 
1431), and proposed to summon another Council in a 
year and a half. But it was to meet at Bologna, 
where it would be more under his control than at 

Cesarini found himself in a difficult position. He 
owed fidelity to the Pope, whose legate he was. Yet 
he was convinced, not merely that the Pope s action 
was precipitate, but that it was wrong. e What will 
everybody say ? he wrote to Eugenius. How does 

1 Creighton, History of the Papacy, vol. ii. p. 68. London, 1882. 


everybody feel about it? Will not the clergy be 
judged incapable of effecting reform and pleased to 
wallow in the mire of corruption ? Men s minds have 
become pregnant. 7 1 

The Pope had committed a tactical blunder. Almost 
the entire Catholic world condemned his action. The 
Council reaffirmed the superiority of Councils to 
Popes and declared the dissolution to be invalid. The 
princes of Europe were too suspicious of Popes and 
Councils to become the eager partisans of either ; but 
they recognised the Council and promised to send 
delegates to confer with it. There were important 
questions that must be dealt with, and that without 
delay : Christendom had to be pacified, morals 
reformed, heresy extirpated. The doctrines of Hlis 
were taking root in Germany, and there had been 
risings in more than one place in that country. 
Cesarini told the Pope that if he, as president, 
attempted to close the Council he would be stoned 
to death, and another president elected. He con 
tinued to preside, the one temperate man of the 
whole body, taking a wider view than Eugenius, but 
remaining his friend, and ever anxious to effect a 
reconciliation. The admirable organisation of the 
Council was due to his genius. As an Italian, he was 
aware of the unresting changes in such a constitution 
as that of Florence and the faults of that of Venice. 
He endeavoured to avoid these defects. He appointed 
four committees, representing, with perfect fairness, 
the nations of Christendom and the ranks of the 
hierarchy. Each committee had a separate function. 
One sat to repress heresy, another to consider reform. 

1 ./En. Sil, Opera, p. 64. Basel, 1551. 


another to discuss the pacification of Europe, another 
for general business. These committees elected their 
own officers, but, to avoid the dominance of any 
party, their presidents vacated office at the end of 
a month. Each committee elected three men to 
serve on a committee of twelve, whose business it 
was to decide concerning the admission of new 
members to the Council, to submit business, and to 
receive and present reports. Each committee also 
sent a delegate to another committee of four that 
sat to receive and consider letters which, unless they 
could furnish good reason to the contrary, they were 
bound to transmit to the Council. All the four com 
mittees first named met in general congregation, and, 
if three of them were agreed, any matter could be 
brought before a general session of the whole Council. 
To preserve these committees from becoming stereo 
typed in their personality, and to keep them from 
forming rooted prejudices, they were constantly 
changed, but continuity was given to them by the 
retention of a certain number of members, who might 
not, however, be elected twice in succession. There 
was no secrecy about any of the meetings, and the 
various committees interchanged their views. The 
Council was in full activity when Eugenius attempted 
to dissolve it : it remained active, and was in full 
opposition to the Pope when Capranica arrived. 

Cesarini had seen for himself what manner of men 
the heretics of Bohemia were, and he was resolved 
to try whether these resolute men, who could not 
be conquered in battle, might not be won by concilia 
tion. He lost no time in forwarding a message to 
the insurgents, inviting them to send to the Council 


peaceful, humble, god-fearing men, not self-seekers 
but of minds bent towards heavenly things/ 1 

^Eneas saw the Bohemian envoys enter Basel. 
They came very quietly by boat, accompanied by a 
military guard, and bearing a banner with a chalice 
for device. Their garb was a strange one, that men 
had never seen before. Crowds lined the streets, 
gazing on this novel procession and wondering at 
the determined faces and resolute eyes of men who 
had defended their liberty and hurled back the hosts 
of Christendom. 2 The harlots of Basel, a numerous 
company, vastly increased by the presence of the 
Council, had been driven from the streets; the 
members of the Council were warned that their con 
duct must conform to their profession ; and gambling 
and even dancing were forbidden throughout the city 
while the Bohemian deputies remained there. 

The young secretary beheld a Maelstrom, a clash 
of contending forces that was determining more than 
one mighty issue. About this time the Council 
aimed two shafts at the Papacy that smote home. 
They resolved that, in the event of the Apostolic 
chair becoming vacant, the new election should take 
place at Basel, and they appointed a Conciliar legate 
to be sent to Avignon to inquire into the alleged 
misgovernment of that Papal possession. Questions 
of Church-government and theological issues appear 
dull to the modern mind, but they were vital in the 
fifteenth century, when so little social or political or 
economical doctrine was formulated : they were the 
only arguments that could be found to give point 

1 Monumenta, Condi Gen. sec. dec. quinti, vol. i p 135 

2 Mn. Sa, Hist. Bohemiae, xlix. 


to influences that men felt but could not express. 
The great causes of human action then lay, for the 
most part, concealed and dumb ; they lurked behind 
many a Papal Bull and the insurgency that evoked 
it ; they stimulated many a rallying cry of religion. 
A hundred alien interests were bound up with the 
contest between Council and Pope. 

The flight of Capranica from Rome was followed 
by that of several other cardinals, who also came to 
Basel. On April 29, 1432, Eugenius was summoned 
to appear before the Council within three months 
or be deemed contumacious. Pope and Council were 
at open war. Sigismund, the Emperor, honestly 
strove to restore the unity of the Church and to pacify 
disturbed Christendom. But the age required a man 
less vain, less impulsive and less wavering, and, above 
all, one provided with greater material power than 
Sigismund, if he were to deal effectively with its 
difficulties. ^Eneas saw the Emperor ride into Basel 
with great pomp. He was a remarkably tall man, 
he wrote, with clear, bright eyes, a broad forehead, 
a pleasant, rosy face and a long, full beard a man 
of large intelligence, full of projects, but not keeping 
to them a jocose man, fond of wine, addicted to 
women, guilty of adultery a thousand times over 
prone to wrath, ready to forgive, a bad economist, 
too open-handed and ready to promise what he could 
not perform. * He had been away in Italy, bent on 
coronation at Rome as Emperor. The Italians made 
him painfully aware of how unreal and ironical the 
authority of the Holy Roman Empire had become. 
It seemed as if the Catholic world were about to 

1 Creighton, loc. cit., vol. ii. p. 162, note 2. 


break up into chaos. As Sismondi says, the entire 
Church was at war with the Hussites ; the Holy See 
was at war with the Council ; the new Pope was at 
war with the Colonna, and his government was at 
war with the States of the Church/ Sigismund had 
little real power in Germany ; he discovered that he 
had none in Italy ; he was without money, without 
troops, without effective support of any kind. The 
Sienese detained him for eight months as a kind of 
prisoner ; they shut me up/ he said, like a beast 
in a cage/ 1 He was in a difficult position : he 
wanted to be crowned in order to refill his empty 
pockets by the sale of privileges, but, if he acknow 
ledged the Pope, all hope of coming to an under 
standing with his revolted subjects in Bohemia must 
be abandoned. On the other hand the Pope refused 
to crown a protector of the Church who was so 
disloyal to his trust as to favour Councils. But 
Eugenius dreaded a renewed outbreak of schism. 
He gave way and consented to crown Sigismund. 
And the Emperor warned the Council that he would 
die rather than see another schism break out at 
Basel after he had put an end to one at Constance. 2 
Indeed the diplomacy of Sigismund induced the re 
luctant Pontiff to recognise the Council, although it 
had ordained that henceforward no Pope should be 
elected unless he took oath to obey the decrees of 
Constance and acknowledged the supremacy of oecume 
nical synods. On December 15, 1433, Eugenius 
annulled his preceding Bulls. On April 26, 1434, 
Sigismund being present, Cesarini and four other 

1 Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, xxi. p. 140. 

2 Creighton, loc. cit., vol. ii. p. 84. 


representatives of the Pope took presidential chairs 
at the Council. But, in spite of all Cesarini s elo 
quence, division remained unhealed. If the Pope sent 
a legate anywhere, the Council sent a legate a latere : 
it was more resolved than ever to turn its back on 
the accepted doctrines of Aquinas as to the Dictator 
ship of the Roman See. 

In spite of his reconciliation with the Council, 
affairs still went very ill with Eugenius. He was a 
Venetian, and the crafty Filippo Maria Visconti, 
the lord of Milan, an enemy of Venice, set Francesco 
Sforza, the condottiere, against him. Sforza carved 
a little state for himself out of Papal possessions in 
the Marches of Ancona : * other states of the Church 
were in rebellion. The powerful house of Colonna 
was against him. In June 1434, he had to seek 
safety in ignominious and perilous flight from a 
turbulent Roman mob. He found refuge in Florence. 2 
It seemed as if the Council would experience little 
difficulty in making its claim to supremacy effective. 

But the Papacy has survived too many dangers 
ever to lose heart. Eugenius sent Cardinal Vitel- 
leschi to Rome, a stern, rough soldier, who stood at 
nothing in the execution of his resolves, a man by 
no means remarkable for distinctively Christian gifts. 
Indeed the Papacy had to preserve its independence 
and sovereignty, and it could ill afford to fill the 
Sacred College with none but holy men. Warriors, 
diplomatists, and scholars were to be found there, 
as well as men of remarkable piety and purity of life. 

Meanwhile, Capranica, who had been deprived of 

1 Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, xxi. 

2 Flavins Blondus, Decades Historiarum, iii. p. 6. 


his goods, and therefore had an ill-furnished purse, 
contrived to make peace with Eugenius. The re 
conciliation was very welcome to the Cardinal and he 
left Basel. Nicodemus, bishop of Freising, a member 
of the illustrious house of the Scala of Verona, took 
^Eneas into his service. He rode with his new master 
to Frankfurt to attend a diet that never took place. 
Then he entered the household of Bartolomeo, bishop 
of Novara, the brother of a favourite of the Duke 
of Milan, a man who was frequently employed as a 
go-between by him and the Council in their diplo 
matic intrigues. ^Eneas seems to have found this 
new service agreeable : he speaks of his master as 
not only the most eloquent man of our times, but 
the most truly human. The man who dwells with 
him leads a happy life. 1 Years later he wrote a 
letter to him that is full of affection. 2 He accompanied 
the bishop to Milan, and remained some time there. 
Two men, a humanist and a jurist, were candidates 
at this time for the Eectorship of the University of 
Pavia, and JEneas was called upon to plead for the 
humanist. Need one doubt how eloquently he would 
do so and the sarcastic things he would say concern 
ing law, how rejoiced he would be to bring himself 
under the notice of the duke, what hopes he would 
entertain of obtaining his favour ? The jurist had 
been deemed likely to succeed, but the force of 
JSneas s speech secured the post to the humanist. 
Of the duke he would see but little, and that from 
afar, since a barrier shielded his sacred person. For, 
if Filippo Maria had the cunning of a fox, he was 

1 J3neas Silvius in Kollar : Annal. Vindob., ii. p. 703. 

2 ^En. Sil., Ep., October 19, 1443. 


timid as a hare. He surrounded himself with guards, 
dwelt in retirement, and took every precaution 
against assassination, of which he exhibited craven 
fear. He had shrewd penetration into character, and 
selected and rewarded his servants well, but he was 
not the man to assist youth for its own sake, or 
anybody out of kindliness or generosity. He chose 
his servants for very definite ends, after subtle trials 
of their qualities, of which they were unaware. He 
made one serve as a check on another. All he did 
was directed by some subtle, secret calculation. 
u^Eneas was adaptable, had engaging manners, and 
was a cultivated scholar, but he hardly possessed 
those qualities that the Visconti required. The duke 
needed faithful and able agents who would blindly 
carry out his instructions, and not be so keen and 
eager as to penetrate too deeply into the workings of 
his mind. He pursued many ends with an intelligence 
so subtle that many sides of a question were present 
to him at the same time, and often he seemed to 
scheme against the very projects he entertained. 
Filippo Maria Visconti, like so many rulers in Italy, 
had attained his position by craft, and kept it by cun 
ning and deep and tortuous designs. ^Eneas s hopes 
in that quarter were foredoomed to disappointment. 

To this period of ^Eneas s life belongs a poem which 
has not been preserved. The name Nymphilexis 
suggests the amatory character of the work, and a 
letter which has come down to us, bearing the date 
March 1, 1435, addressed to Mariano de Sozzini, says, 
I have despatched a little book of more than two 
hundred verses which I have called Nymphilexis. 
It is in praise of your Baptista. 




THE statecraft of the fifteenth century was a policy of 
cunning and trick : the worst maxims set forth by 
Machiavelli in his Prince were in daily use. That 
writer only analysed and gave scientific precision to 
the habitual practices of his own and the preceding 
century. ^Eneas was made the unconscious parti 
cipant of one of the ingenious stratagems of his age. 
His master, the Bishop of Novara, was a trusted 
agent of the crafty Visconti, and went, in the spring 
of 1435, to Florence, where Eugenius had found 
refuge, bearing a show of friendly intention towards 
the Pope. Niccolo Piccinino, the skilled and famous * 
captain of one of those armies of mercenary soldiers 
that had replaced the militia of cities, and were 
at the service of the highest bidder, was in the 
pay of Milan. But he affected to have ordered his 
soldiery to pile arms (for it was still winter), and to 
be himself under medical treatment at certain baths 
that lay in Sienese territory. A certain Eiccio, a 
young Florentine, who was scoundrel enough to do 
any villany for gain, perhaps at the instigation of 
Cosimo de Medici, approached the bishop, and un 
folded to him a plan to seize the person of the Pope. 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 


Sooner or later Eugenius would be going outside the 
walls of the city for change of air or the performance 
of certain ecclesiastical functions ; Piccinino could lie 
in ambush, pounce on the unsuspecting Pontiff, and 
carry him off. The bishop listened to the proposal. 
He gave ^Eneas a letter, bidding him carry it to 
Piccinino, but of what it might contain he said not a 
word. 1 So ^Eneas rode off, first to Siena, where he 
had the joy of seeing his relatives and friends again, 
and then to the baths. There he would make his 
way through the crowd of traders and harlots and 
rabble that accompanied the camp, giving it the 
appearance of a kind of travelling fair. He found 
himself, at last, in the presence of one of those won 
derful soldiers of fortune whose vast practical abilities 
enabled them to become the despots of rude troopers, 
and convert their armies into roving states. Piccinino 
would be surrounded by his warriors that looked like 
moving fortresses, for their armour was so heavy 
and complete that each required two attendants, also 
in full panoply, to mount and dismount him. The 
secretary might hold some conversation with the 
scholars that accompanied the general, executed his 
diplomacy, and gave literary polish either to the 
terms he exacted from the states of Italy or to the 
menaces whereby he controlled them. The audience 
over, ^Eneas rode back to Siena, only to find that 
some letter of the bishop s had been intercepted and 
deciphered, that Niccolb had cast himself at the Holy 
Father s feet, seeking pardon and avowing his own 
guilt, but not that of the Duke of Milan, and that 
Biccio was in prison undergoing torture. ^Eneas fled 

1 Pii II. Comment., I. 1. 


at once to Santa Maria delle Grazie, and prayed there 
to the Mother of God to save him. Then he sought 
the protection of the Cardinal Niceolb d Albergati, 
whom he convinced of his innocence, and who took 
him into his household as secretary. Eugenius was 
magnanimous or prudent enough to pardon the bishop. 
He was sent back to Milan, and he reappeared at the 
Council, still the uncompromising foe of the Pope. 
Biccio was found hanging by the neck dead, probably 
by his own act. 

^Eneas s new master, Albergati, was a Carthusian, 
an ascetic who never ate meat, wore a hair shirt next 
his skin, arose at midnight for prayer, yet a man of 
gracious and cultivated manners, a great humanist, a 
skilful diplomatist, and accounted upright in his 
political dealings as judged by the standard of his 
times. Like all princes and men of wealth and posi 
tion, Albergati was a patron of scholars, for whom he 
found busy employment in giving point and polish to 
the artifices of his statecraft. His housemaster was 
Tommaso Parentucelli, the son of a surgeon, destined 
to ascend the Apostolic Chair as Nicholas v. Paren 
tucelli had studied at Lucca and Bologna, and his 
first employment was as tutor to certain noble Floren 
tine families. He was of small stature, with short, 
feeble legs ; his face was pale, his lips heavy and 
protruding; his voice was raucous; but his flashing 
eyes indicated an alert intelligence. He possessed a 
prodigious memory, and was gifted with a great flow 
of language. * What is unknown to Parentucelli/ 
wrote ^Eneas of him, * lies beyond the sphere of 
human learning/ The Cardinal and his housemaster 
were on terms of deep and affectionate intercourse ; 


Albergati confided his most secret thoughts to Paren- 
tucelli. But nearer to ^Eneas in years and in keen 
zest for life was another member of Albergati s house 
hold, a fellow-secretary, no other than his old friend 
Noceto. In the service of Albergati ^Eneas enjoyed 
glimpses into the policy of one of the most accom 
plished diplomatists of his age ; he saw something of 
its best society. Fast days were rigidly observed ; 
silence and self-denial were the rule of the house ; 
but when guests were assembled there was feasting, 
accompanied by all the brave magnificence of the 

Albergati was instructed to go to Basel, but he 
must first visit Milan on a diplomatic mission to its 
duke, thence proceed to the retreat affected by the 
Duke of Savoy, and so on to Arras, where a council 
was summoned to discuss the settlement of the war 
between France and England. Albergati and his 
household started in July 1435, and, after visiting 
the Court of the Visconti, rode across Western Lom- 
bardy, ascended the outposts of the Alps along the 
romantic cliffs of the Dora, crossed the bare, desolate 
St. Bernard, followed the valley of the Rhone, and, 
coming to the Lake of Geneva, took boat for Ripaille. 
Here dwelt a prince who had offered to mediate 
between Pope and Council. The union of worldly 
craft with religious zeal is no uncommon phenomenon, 
but Amadeo vin. of Savoy was a very remarkable 
example of this conjunction of qualities. His was a 
character that might surprise those uninstructed in 
the grotesque complexities of the soul. Like most 
members of his able house, he had fished, not without 
success, in troubled waters. He had enlarged his 


own domains at the expense of his neighbours. By a 
series of well-contrived marriages he had allied him 
self or the members of his house with some of the 
most powerful princes in Europe. When his wife 
died, for reasons that are variously stated, and in 
which piety may have played a part, he retired from 
the world, but did not deem it necessary to abandon 
his title or relinquish the financial control of his 

The boat that bore the travellers drew up at a 
beautiful spot on the southern shore of the lake. 
Amadeo and the six recluses of the military order he 
had founded, mantled in grey, with crosses richly 
wrought in gold hanging to their necks, and leaning 
on long staves, came forward with their priest to 
greet the visitors. Amadeo and Albergati were not 
strangers to one another. Aforetime Albergati had 
found welcome at the ducal court and been received 
with customary pomp and ceremony. The Hermit- 
Duke embraced the Cardinal, and the visitors were 
conducted to a luxurious dwelling, the Temple of St. 
Maurice, a building that was half fortress, half palace. 
Here, says uiEneas, 1 the duke lived days more 
pleasant than penitential. Perhaps, already the 
experienced man of affairs foresaw schism and the 
possibility of his own elevation to the Papacy. How 
far Albergati trusted the royal recluse we do not 
know ; how the other young secretary read him is re 
corded. Piero da Noceto, when he and JEneas were 
alone together, went to the wall and wrote thereon a 
quotation from Cicero : The deadliest and most 
deceitful wrong is that wrought by a hypocrite. 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 


From Ripaille the Cardinal and his household pro 
ceeded to Basel, where they found that the Council, 
fixedly resolved to reform the Church, had begun with 
its Head. They had just deprived Eugenius of the 
time-honoured claim of the Papacy to annates and 
other sources of revenue, and had thus reduced the 
Pope to penury. From Basel the travellers proceeded 
down the Rhine by boat, passing many a romantic 
rock whereon barons had built their eyries to pounce 
down on merchants and levy toll for the privilege of 
passage through their dominion. Leaving the Rhine, 
they came to Aachen, the ancient capital of the 
Empire, and so, by Liege, Louvain, Tournai, and Douai 
to Arras, a city under the sovereignty of its bishop, 
and therefore selected for the diet as a neutral place. 
JEneas found himself present at the most magnificent 
congress that the mediaeval world had yet beheld. 
The noblest knights, the most famous warriors, the 
ripest statesmen were gathered to arrange peace 
between France, Burgundy, and England. The 
moment seemed to be opportune, for France was well- 
nigh exhausted, Burgundy was on the point of con 
cluding an agreement with France, and England was 
hardly in a condition to prolong an expensive war. 
For her king was a minor ; the Duke of Bedford, her 
chief statesman and general, was in declining health, 
and the other ministers of state were paralysed by 
mutual jealousy. The legate of the Council was there 
as well as Albergati, his presence giving open evidence 
of the strained relations that existed between Eugenius 
and the Baselites. But all hostilities of every kind 
were invested with a magnificent veil. There was 
perpetual parade of knightly pageantry. Dazzling 


tournaments and jousts followed each other in swift 
succession ; mystery -plays, the handmaidens of re 
ligion, delighted all, and sumptuous feasts concluded 
the labours of each day. 

But soon^Eneas was withdrawn from these pleasures. 
He was entrusted with another secret mission. In 
his Commentaries he says it concerned a certain pre 
late ; in his book on Illustrious Men, he says it was 
to effect the liberation of a certain captive ; Campano, 
the poet at his court when he became Pope, concluded 
from many a chat with His Holiness that it was to 
urge the Scottish king to attack England, and so, 
divide her forces and compel her to come to terms 
with France. It is likely that this was the truth. 1 
But probably the secretary was quite unaware of the 
contents of the missive he carried. He was chosen 
for such an important embassy because a mere secre 
tary would not be so likely to arouse suspicion on his 
journey as a diplomatist of higher rank. Never was 
a man less reticent by nature than ^En< , < * ; never has 
a man left so faithful a portrait of himself to posterity ; 
he had neither self-consciousness nor wary vanity nor 
dissimulation in his composition, but he had acquired 
a knowledge of the world in a wonderful school, and 
had been taught to keep a silent tongue. 

The mission must have been very acceptable to one 
possessing so fresh and eager a mind. He was to 
visit a wild and almost unknown country. He even 
dreamfd of extending his journey to the almost 
fabulous Orkneys. But his troubles began directly 

1 The author could discover no documents in the secret archives of the 
Vatican to throw light on this mission. Few letters are to be found there 
bearing an earlier date than 1500 A..D. 


he arrived at Calais. News had reached the English 
garrison there of the defection of the Duke of Bur 
gundy, and he found his way barred. Soon, however, 
permission to pass arrived from Henry Beaufort, Car 
dinal of Winchester. 1 It is difficult to interpret 
Beaufort s interference. He may have done so at the 
request of Albergati, knowing perfectly well that the 
permit would be ignored and the secretary turned 
back when he arrived on English ground. On the 
other hand, it might be urged that we do not know 
what secret forces were in operation, so lost or con 
cealed are the workings of mediaeval diplomacy. 
Beaufort stood accused by his rival, Gloucester, of dis 
honesty, and had not yet received the royal pardon ; 
England was brought into disorder by the long 
minority of its king ; a little later Beaufort sought 
as warmly for peace with France as Gloucester opposed 
it. He may have been a traitor to his country for 
his country s good, or to advance his own power. 
That he was ignorant of Albergati s design is hardly 

One day in late autumn, then, ^Eneas was free 
to depart, and, in a few hours, saw the white cliffs 
that owed no authority to the Holy Roman Empire 
or any foreign land. He was allowed to disembark 
and pursue his course towards London. The 
Cathedral of Canterbury was not then surmounted 
by its superb central tower, but the interior would 
be gay with banners of transparent painting, a 
peculiarly English art, and ^Eneas was lost in admira 
tion of a magnificent display of jewels that have 
disappeared; he tells us that the shrine of St. Thomas, 

1 J&u. Sil., Comment, in Anton. Panorm., iii. 


* the fame of which is spread throughout all lands/ l 
was all ablaze with carbuncles and diamonds and 
precious pearls ; the meanest of the countless votive 
offerings was of silver/ On the gardens of England, 
though even then they were a feature of the land 
and made the mean cottages look pleasant, he passes 
no remark. He mentions Strood, whereof the natives 
are reputed to be born with tails a piece of informa 
tion probably intended to impose on the traveller, 
but that reached amused and decidedly incredulous 
ears. In London he would find many Italians, for 
the external trade of the country was mainly in their 

Europe in the fifteenth century was gay with 
fantastic costume. Each locality had its distinctive 
dress, great cities were beginning to exhibit the swift 
changes of fashion, and the keen eyes of ^Eneas, who 
had a great admiration for blondes, would note the 
manners and dress of the English fair as well as their 
faces and figures the way they carried their heads 
in the air, their hair, puffed out into horns with a 
crown on a pad between the puffs, and their exces 
sively short-waisted gowns. But he recorded his 
adventures from the dignity of the Papal Chair, and 
he tells us nothing of such irrelevant trifles. He had 
lived long enough north of the Alps to feel no great 
surprise, perhaps, at seeing a drunken lady, nor at 
hearing her discharge a volley of cacophonous oaths ; 2 
he would remark the extravagantly long shoes of her 
lord, the toe brought to a peak, and his turban or 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. A very complete description of this journey 
was recorded by Jjlneas, after he had assumed the Tiara, in his Commen 

2 How the good wyf taughte her daughter (a courtesy poem of 1430). 


other fantastic headgear. 1 He would find himself 
among a cheerful and contented people, keeping a 
vast number of feast days by well stocking the pot 
and indulging in noisy merry-making, for even the 
unskilled worker lived well. He was surprised at 
the wealth of London and at the number of its 
inhabitants ; he was struck by the lordliness of old 
St. Paul s, and he was shown a translation of Thucy- 
dides, six hundred years old, which was carefully 
preserved in the sacristy. 2 He visited the wondrous 
tombs of the kings 3 at the Abbey ; he saw, with 
curiosity, the strange bridge over the broad Thames, 
and noted that the current below was swiftest at flow 
of the tide. But he found his progress northward 
barred, and was ordered to leave the kingdom. 

So there was nothing for him but to return to the 
Continent and attempt the hazardous passage to 
Scotland across the North Sea. He took ship again 
at Sluys the outlet for the commerce of Bruges 
a miserable little Dutch townlet now, but then 
the busiest port of all the west. 4 It was the depth 
of winter, when the winds blow fierce and strong. 
The boats of those days were so clumsily built and 
ill-bolted that they often foundered in a heavy sea, 
or went to pieces after a little buffeting by the 
waves. Nor was tempest the only danger to be 
feared : the seas were infested by pirates, and ships 
usually sailed together, in little fleets, for safety. 
When JEneas reached the middle of the treacherous 
North Sea, the wind, that hitherto had been favour- 

1 HarleianMSS. 

2 JEn. SiL, Ep. ad Johan. de Hinderbach, June 1, 1451. 

3 Pii II, Comment., 1. 1. * Ibid. 


able, veered and grew into a hurricane, and the little 
vessel laboured for life among great waves. Many 
terrible hours of suffering and fear were endured ; 
even the skipper gave up praying, and all awaited 
the end. The winds drove them nearer and nearer 
to the cruel, iron-bound coast of Norway, where they 
must have been dashed to pieces on the rocks ; but 
then the blast changed its direction and set them 
backward towards Scotland. And, at last, they 
made Dunbar. 

This terrible voyage lasted twelve days. When 
peril had been at its worst, ^Eneas vowed to take a 
pilgrimage, barefoot, to the nearest shrine of Our 
Lady, if ever he might set foot on the solid land 
again. Directly he landed he fulfilled his vow. He 
dragged his exhausted body 10,000 paces through 
the frozen air and across deep snow. 1 Night over 
took him, too, for the cold sun of the North shines, 
as he tells us, only for a few hours in winter. His 
feet were frost-bitten, and his servants had no small 
difficulty in dragging him back to his lodging. The 
fulfilment of this pious vow brought on an attack of 
gout, a complaint that, for the rest of his life, returned 
again and again to torment him. 

As soon as he was able, he rode on to Edinburgh 
and presented himself at the Royal Court. James i. 
then sat on the Scottish throne, a royal author, whose 
King s Quhair we still read with delight, for it is 
filled with the genius of minstrelsy, and sprang from 
the heart of a true poet. James was remarkable 
among princes : he had married for love. When 
held a prisoner in England, he had seen the Lady 

Sil., Europa. 



Joan, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, through his 
dungeon bars. Straightway she held him in a very 
different and more agreeable kind of captivity, and 
now she shared his throne. James was an able 
statesman, but the turbulent Scottish nobility had 
got out of hand during his long imprisonment, and 
resented his attempts to institute a strong, central 
government. Two years after ^Eneas s visit they 
murdered their would-be ruler. 

The king received the young ambassador kindly ; 
but Campano tells us l that James, though he would 
not help England, declined to attack her; yet he 
promised to send an embassy to Arras. He presented 
^Eneas with fifty nobles, a pair of fine steeds, and a 
pearl of price. -^Eneas, always devoted to his family 
and full of filial affection, sent the jewel to his 

The young Italian humanist found himself in a 
strange land and among a crude people. He was in 
a new kind of world, one full of wonder. Though he 
could not understand the language, he was unwearied 
in observing all things, great and small, and he was 
eager to obtain information from priests and inter 
preters. Geography was one of the subjects that 
found a welcome place in his encyclopaedic mind ; he 
saw the connection between geography and history, 
and his geographical writings were deemed so valua- 
able that Christopher Columbus obtained and read 
them. He noted the relation of Scotland to Eng 
land, and described it. All that he saw remained 
deeply graven in his memory, and he has left us a 

1 Campanus, Vita Pii I/., apud Muratori, R. L S., t. xxiii. Part n., 
p. 969. 


valuable record of the Scotland of his age. It is a 
cold land/ he says, not very productive, and a great 
part of it is covered with pine-forests. There is a 
subterranean rock there, of a sulphurous character, 
which the Scots dig out and use as fuel. 1 The cities 
are undefended by walls ; the houses for the most 
part are put together without cement ; the roofs are 
of turf, the doors, in the country, mere ox-hides. 
The people are poor and rough ; there is plenty of 
meat and fish for them, which they devour voraciously ; 
the men are little, but bold ; the women fair and 
comely, but licentious. 7 

This charge against the Scottish women is a grave 
indictment. For in the fifteenth century, the pro 
prieties of sex were little regarded throughout all 
Europe, and the blessing of the Church on a union 
was usually postponed until pregnancy was far 
advanced. Bastardy was very common, and, in 
,/Eneas s own land, as one learns from the diaries of 
the merchants and other sources, a husband s 
bastards by another woman were kindly received 
and brought up by his wife if they were born before 
his marriage to her, or even if they came into the 
world afterwards. Great families were strengthened 
by the support their illegitimate scions gave them, 
and, in Italy, the ablest man of a ruling family took 
the helm of state no matter in what irregular fashion 
he might have entered into it. ^Eneas had a great 
admiration for fair women : he was swarthy, and 
could never quite understand how the German came 

1 Pii II. Comment., lib. 1. It would appear as if the Scots were already 
engaged in working superficial coal-seams. But peat may be the substance 
referred to. 


to admire those that are dark ; he expresses his 
astonishment that men of that country should worship 
a perfectly black woman, and take her for a Venus. 1 
A fair Caledonian became his mistress during his 
stay in Scotland, and she bore him a child, but it 
died. 2 

Our author goes on to say : * Women kiss one 
another very rarely here ; less often in fact than they 
shake hands in Italy. Wine is neither produced nor 
imported. The horses are small, quiet beasts, and 
there are few stallions ; they are neither shod nor 
combed nor bridled. The Scots oysters are finer 
than the British. The people export hides, wool, 
salt-fish, and pearls to Flanders. There is nothing 
that a Scotsman will listen to with greater pleasure 
than abuse of the Englishman, who bears the reputa 
tion of being deceitful. The country is only partly 
under cultivation, part of it is quite wild, and there is 
only a little of it under the plough. The men of 
the forest -district speak a different tongue from the 
others, and sometimes they are so famished that 
they are reduced to eat the bark of trees. Wolves 
are unknown, however. He gives us the strange 
information that trees whereon rooks have built are 
forfeit to the king. Creighton has pointed out that 
a law was passed in 1424, by the first parliament of 
James, to the effect that, since rooks do injury to corn, 
the birds were to be allowed to build, but in no wise 
were the fledglings to be suffered to fly ; and if an 
empty nest were found by Whitsunday, the tree was 

Sil., Ep. ad Procopium, December 9, 1443 ; Ep. ad Mich, de 
Fucllendorf, October 1, 1444. 

2 2&n. Sil., Ep. ad P. de Noxeto, May 1443. 


to be hewn down and become the property of the 
crown. ^Eneas is a restless seeker after all kinds 
of information : he is for ever making inquiries ; 
he wants to know why Britain is so called, and 
why the opposite coast of France bears the same 

The skipper who had brought him to Scotland 
wanted to take him back, but he had had enough of 
the sea. He remembered his classics, and that the 
man who risks a second voyage has forfeited the right 
to complain of Neptune. He preferred the risk of 
riding through England. It was a happy thing that 
he came to this resolve, for, as he watched the vessel 
putting forth to sea, he saw it heel over and founder, 
and only four of the sailors were rescued. 

There were plenty of Italian merchants travelling 
in all parts of Europe, so he determined to pass for 
one. He procured a suitable dress, rode off south 
ward, and presently found himself across the Tweed, 
in a border-land, rude, uncivilised, and appallingly 
unsettled. At night he arrived at a village and put 
up at an inn, where he dined with the host, who 
supplied him with fowl and goose and vegetables, but 
wine and bread had to be fetched for him from some 
monastery. A multitude of women, all of them 
pregnant, came crowding into the room with their 
good men, and eagerly demanded of the priest who 
this man might be : Was he an ./Ethiopian or an 
Indian ? Might he even be Our Lord Himself, since 
he had bread and wine? The bread and wine and 
all that there was had to be shared with these folk. 
The feast was prolonged until the second hour of the 
night, when the priest, the host, and all the men of 


the jovial party took their departure, telling JEneas 
that it behoved them to seek refuge in a peel-tower 
some distance off, for they were afraid there might 
be a raid that night of the Scots, who were wont to 
cross the river at low ebb and plunder. They refused 
to take ^Eneas with them in spite of his strong 
entreaty ; not even a bribe would tempt them. And 
they left him in the company of the women, for 
though many of these were buxom and comely, the 
men told him they could safely leave them : wicked 
as the enemy was, the ravishing of women could not 
be charged to him. So JEneas remained with his two 
servants, a guide, who was also an interpreter, and 
about a hundred women, who gathered in a circle as 
close to the fire as they could, and many of them told 
tales or chatted with the guide. When very much of 
the night had worn away dogs began to bay and geese 
to cackle. Then there arose a tumult, as if the enemy 
were already upon them ; all the women took to their 
heels, running this way and that ; the guide vanished, 
and ^Eneas took refuge in his bedchamber, which was 
the stable. There he awaited the issue, not without 
trepidation, for he knew nothing of any way of escape, 
and expected to be the prey of the first marauder that 
should enter his place of refuge. Soon, however, the 
guide and the women returned, for they found that 
the animals had been disturbed by the advent of 
friends, not of foes; and when day dawned ^Eneas 
took up his journey again. He soon arrived at the 
New Castle, which men say was constructed by 
Caesar, and welcomed the sight of a habitable city ; 
for Scotland and the part of England that is next to it 
possess no dwellings like ours ; it is a dreadful waste- 



land, and, in winter, unwarmed by the sun. 1 Then 
he reached Durham, and was careful to visit the grave 
of the Venerable Bede ; and he proceeded thence to 
York, a large and populous city. The great Minster 
was nearly finished ; the central tower had only just 
been put up, but there was no rood-screen then, nor 
were the two bell-towers erected. Though the fine 
taste of the early Italian Renaissance had already 
returned to traditions of long level lines, vast spaces, 
and cool shadows, so beautiful and suitable to a warm 
climate, ^Eneas could appreciate the delicate, subtle 
entanglement, the profound suggestiveness, and the 
soaring sublimity of Gothic architecture. We have 
read that he was impressed by St. Paul s; he also 
speaks with enthusiasm of the churches of Niirn- 
berg and the lofty and richly decorated buildings of 
Llibeck. 2 His taste was so catholic that, while he 
admired ancient sculpture, he thought that of Orvieto 
not inferior to it ; 3 he found pleasure in the suita 
bility of the English Gothic to the climate ; for a 
northern church should be like a lantern of jewelled 
glass, since heaven vexes it so little with its efful 
gence. * York Minster, ^Eneas says, * is a marvel for 
all men ; a church full of light ; for the walls are of 
glass held together by slender pillars/ 

Between York and London he fell in with a party 
of riders, whereof the most important was no less a 
personage than a Justice in Eyre returning from 
assizes. The supposed Italian merchant and the 
judge rode together, and it must have amused ^Eneas 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. i. 

* Mn.. Sil., Piccolom., Opera Own., ed, Basel, pp. 1054-5. 

3 Pii II. Comment., 1. iii. 


when his companion inveighed against that wolf in 
sheep s clothing, Albergati, and his intrigues at 
Arras. Of course, however much ^Eneas may have 
known or suspected concerning his mission, he 
listened with the attention that is due to news, and 
probably speculated on what would be done to him if 
the judge knew who he was. When he reached 
London it seemed, at first, as if there were no road of 
escape open to him, for no one might leave England 
without a royal permit ; but he pushed on to Dover, 
and found that the guards of the harbour were open 
to a bribe. They smuggled him on board a ship, and 
so, in the springtime (A.D. 1436), he found himself 
once again in Basel. Albergati was away with 
Eugenius at Bologna, for the Pope had left Florence 
and taken up his abode in one of his own cities 
(April 22, 1436), but Albergati had left Piero da 
Noceto, JEneas s co-secretary behind him. Doubtless 
the two young men were rejoiced to be together once 
more, and Piero would make ^Eneas fight his battles 
o er again. I was unwilling to go on to Bologna, 
he says, for I feared they would charge me with 
complicity in the old affair of the Bishop of Novara ; 
so I resolved to remain at Basel among the foes 
of Eugenius. 1 After a short stay with Eugenius, 
Albergati returned to Basel, but he soon left again, 
for the antagonism between Pope and Council was 
getting more hopeless day by day. ^Eneas stayed on. 
He was determined to succeed in life. He knew that 
the elegant accomplishment of verse-making might 
add to his reputation, but would hardly lead to any 

SiL, Ep. ad Petrum de Noxeto, May 1456 ; JSneas Silvius, 
De vir. clar., v. 


betterment in his position ; so he read much and far 
into the night, spending the hours in studies not 
wholly congenial. Noceto, who shared his bedroom 
with him, would come in laughing, and scoff at such 
wasting labour ; Fortune does not bestow all her 
favours on the scholar/ he would say. But the light 
young secretary could not divert ^Eneas from his 
resolve. 1 

1 JEu. Sil., Ep. ad Petrum de Noxeto, May 1456. 




THE Council had acquired some credit by patching up 
a truce with the Bohemians. The more moderate 
men on both sides honestly desired to come to terms. 
The leaders of the Council at Basel, as well as those 
of the Utraquists or Calixtines, had done their best. 
Points of difference were threshed out by small com 
mittees. Each party remained unconvinced, but both 
sides curbed themselves and forbore, though occasion 
ally a moment of excitement caused that to be said 
which evoked sore feeling. When the envoys left 
Basel, Cesarini blessed them. And the chief repre 
sentative of dissent, Rokycana, afterwards chosen by 
his countrymen to be Archbishop of Prague, declared 
his sense of the brotherhood of all Christian believers 
and the independence of his sect by returning the 
blessing : he raised his hands and prayed the Lord to 
give peace to the Council. One fat Catholic bishop 
ran, panting and weeping, after the departing heretics, 
to wring their hands. But the Council was secretly 
busy, fomenting all those internal differences among 
the Hussites that had been revealed to them in the 
negotiations. The Hussites declared, as one man, for 
receiving the Communion in both kinds : the chalice 
was painted on their flag ; it had become a symbol of 


nationality. But there were those among them who 
preferred to trim their beards delicately, liked their 
wives to wear long trains and their daughters to be 
dressed in a manner that would not spoil their charms. 1 
And there were those of opposite social convictions 
who would seize these well-trimmed burghers in the 
public streets and straightway relieve them of their 
beards. Minute differences of faith gave emphasis to 
social cleavage within the ranks of national dissent. 
It is true that the fiercest of the precisians, the Tabo- 
rites, had been expelled from the cities and dwelt on 
certain hills. But there were still extremists, in sym 
pathy with the refugees of Tabor, that remained among 
the Utraquists. Procop, the successor to the famous 
Ziska, the warrior, and a small party of the outlaws, 
cherished black resentment in their hearts ; their 
minds were set on the confiscation of the property of 
the Church. John of Palomar, an envoy sent by the 
Council to Bohemia, wrote, in his secret report, that 
the majority of Bohemians wanted peace and union 
with the Church, but this faction held them back. 2 
The extremists were not content to be a mere drag ; 
Procop raided recalcitrant districts of Bohemia ; he 
besieged the German and Catholic town of Pilsen. He 
was defeated, his troops mutinied, and he was com 
pelled to resign his command. The presence of envoys 
at Basel put heart into the Catholics of Bohemia. 
Among the Utraquists old divisions deepened and 
new differences appeared. They suffered from that 
lack of organised unity that is always a phenomenon 
of assaults on vested interests and accepted customs. 

1 0. E. Maurice, History of Bohemia, p. 253. 

2 Monumenta Condi. Gen., sec. xv. Condi. Bas., i. 388, ii. 431. 


Most Bohemians got sick of perpetual strife, and 
desired nothing but peace. In fact, reaction had 
set in. The Taborites and irreconcileables made their 
last stand in battle with the Utraquists. They were 
defeated and almost annihilated : Procop and thirteen 
thousand Taborites lay dead on the field. Both sides 
were chargeable with cruel massacres ; and men had 
become sick of slaughter. 

Military adventurers of all kinds crowded into 
Bohemia and lowered the tone of the army ; the zeal of 
reformers waned ; to the horrors of civil warfare were 
added those of famine and plague. All these causes 
inclined the nation to come to terms with Sigismund. 

Already, at the end of A.D. 1433, the Council had 
agreed to sanction, subject to certain modifications, 
the famous four articles or compacts that were pro 
pounded by the Bohemians. They were : 1st, That 
they should enjoy the free preaching of the Word of 
God ; 2nd, Excepting those who lived in mortal sin, 
the laity were to receive the Blood as well as the 
Body of Christ ; 3rd, The clergy were to be deprived 
of secular overlordship and property ; 4th, Mortal 
sin was to be forcibly repressed. But it is usually not 
difficult to twist sanctions, however carefully they 
may be drawn up, and the compact was differently 
interpreted according to the predilections of party. 
The Emperor Sigismund was equally astute in taking 
advantage of the wording of these articles and of the 
reaction that had set in. He put forth all his diplo 
matic skill to be recognised by Bohemia as her king, 
and, on July 5, 1436, he rode up to Prague in royal 
state, and gave the Bohemian nation a charter by 
signing the compact. 


The Pope, at this time, was living in exile from 
Rome, supported by the alms of the faithful. Not 
merely was he unable to keep up due state, but he 
could barely furnish the necessary funds for embassies ; 
he even paid his secretaries and officials with difficulty. 
This was the pass to which the abolition by the Council 
of pallium-fees, annates, and other sources of income 
had reduced him. The Council had agreed that some 
means of providing for the necessary expenses of the 
Papacy must be arranged. Eugenius sent envoys to 
expostulate with the Council for non-provision. The 
only reply he got was a satiric reference to the poverty 
of Peter the fisherman and his brethren. But the 
members themselves had deprived their barb of its 
point. They were zealous for the reform of Eugenius ; 
on their own reform they were not so eagerly bent, 
though it was quite as much needed. Many honest 
men in the Council earnestly desired reform. But 
reform, whether undertaken by Council or Pope, met 
with the same insuperable difficulties. And a Council, 
like any other large assemblage, whether it be a diet 
of princes or a mob of priests, is hardly likely to dis 
tinguish itself in wise statesmanship. It did not 
suffice the Council to sneer at the Pope : the Emperor 
must needs be flouted too. The Council entered into 
close relations with his crafty, shifty feudatory, the 
Duke of Milan. I am a fifth wheel ; an impediment 
to the Council/ said Sigismund, when he left it 1 
(May 19, 1434). He recommended a return to the 
old manner of sitting as nations. Reform would, he 
believed, be more quickly arrived at in this way. But 
an (Ecumenical Council was as little disposed as a 

1 Job. Segob., Mem. Condi, 663. 


Catholic Pope to further the development of the spirit 
of nationality or aid the peoples to take a first step 
towards national independence. Sigismund departed, 
calling the Council a cesspool of iniquity. 7 

Indeed the members of the Council spoke of piety 
and practised pluralism. No one could uproot one 
single abuse ; so impossible was reform that the 
Council issued no serious edict against simony, or the 
loose life of the higher ecclesiastics, or the employ 
ment of the clergy in worldly service. No attempt 
was made to raise them from their incredible ignorance. 
On the contrary, Basel became notorious for its harlotry 
and impurity during the stay of the Council in the 
city, and Eugenius informed its members that they 
gave abundant exhortation to good deeds but failed 
to set an example. 1 

Yet men did not lose faith in a Council that 
represented Western Europe and the whole body of 
Catholic believers. The Council of Constance had 
been successful in healing the Great Schism. The 
conciliar principle was maintained by arguments drawn 
from history ; it was elaborated into a theory, and 
supported by the Universities. Delay, perhaps was 
inevitable, men thought ; the Pope was in abasement 
and exile ; the sole hope of the Church resided in its 
(Ecumenical Congress. 

But a fatal blunder had been committed by 
Cesarini and other men of liberal mind. They had 
opened the doors of the Council too wide ; the 
democratic parliament assembled at Basel was not 
of a character or constitution to rule the destinies of 
ecclesiastical empire. At Pisa and Constance many 

1 Hefele, Conciliengeschichte&ii. 663. 


of the prelates were by no means learned, and the 
presence of jurisconsults, as advisers only, was 
welcomed. 1 At Basel, the generous Cesarini declared 
that he valued men, not their rank. Nicholas of 
Cusa would have no eligible person excluded, for was 
not the council one designed to represent the whole 
Church ? Shoals of monks and priests, bent on 
reform, goaded by a grievance, or seeking promotion, 
flocked to Basel. Troops of scholars came from the 
Universities and received a glad welcome, for their 
services would be invaluable in the determination of 
many a knotty point. The admission of lay envoys 
sent by princes was opposed ; for did not the bishops 
of their rule represent them ? ^Eneas tells us in his 
Commentaries on the Council that he was strongly in 
favour of the admission of the lower clergy, but 
opposed to that of the laity. Ecclesiastics below the 
rank of subdeacon, that is to say laymen (for such 
have not taken upon themselves the sacred vow), 
were admitted. ^Eneas was one of these men in 
minor orders, yet he presided more than once over 
the committee called the Deputation of Faith. Many 
great ecclesiastics were unwilling to see themselves 
overwhelmed by such a crowd. Men came to the 
Council when it pleased them and left it when they 
chose ; self-seekers stuck to it like burs. Basel was 
full of priests and monks drawn from the immediate 
neighbourhood. Long after ^Eneas was convinced of 
the futility of the conciliar principle, he wrote, no 
one at the Council, however lowly his rank, unless 
he were a criminal or of infamous character, found 
admission denied to him. There was so great a 

1 Voigt, loc. cit., p. 106. 


crowd that no voice was effective, no guiding in 
fluence was felt ; heads were counted and judgment 
neglected/ 1 The Council of Basel/ says Turre- 
cremata, * was a scandal to the whole Church, and 
this was brought about through the unwise granting 
of voting power to so many men. 2 And .Eneas, 
with very little exaggeration, describes how ( cooks 
and stablemen were to be found there. 3 Still, holy 
and wise men, who hated Papal usurpation, remained 
faithful to the conciliar principle, and gave weight by 
their presence and sanction to the futilities of Basel. 
There were two chief parties in the Council. At the 
head of one stood the judicious Cesarini, supported 
by Cardinal Cervantes, whom .Eneas speaks of as 
a reasonable man, one desirous of peace ; he was the 
most upright of men/ 4 Cardinal Albergati, Torque- 
mada, a Spanish canonist and theologian of high 
standing, and Nicholas of Cusa also acted with 
Cesarini. This party defended the Pope, but made 
sincere and honest endeavours at mediation ; they 
were supported by the masters in theology of the 
Universities, and, for political reasons, by the 
Florentine and Venetian republics. Antagonistic to 
the legates of Eugenius and their party were the 
subjects of Milan and Aragon, the French, who 
attended in great force, and, in the main, the great 
body of jurists. The leader of the opposition to the 
Pope was Louis d Allemand, Cardinal of St. Cecilia, 
commonly known as the Cardinal of Aries. D Alle- 

1 JEn. Sil., Comment, de Cone. Basil., apud Fea, C. : Pius II. a calumniis 
vindic., p. 46. Roinae, 1823. 2 Voigt, loc. cit., p. 108, note 3. 

3 Mansi, Pii II. Orationes, i. 231 : orat. adv. Austriales, 1452. 

4 JExi. Sil., Comment, de Condi. Basil., apud Fea, C. : Pius II. a calumniis 
vindic., p. 40. 


mand had been a favourite with the late Pope, not 
undeservedly, for he was a scholar, a generous patron 
of learning, and a man of character. He was/ says 
JSneas, patient of injury, not easily provoked, 
remarkably generous, but a bitter hater of Eugenius. 1 
The Duke of Milan co-operated with D Allemand 
and his party, for his own purposes, it need hardly 
be said, and not for the purification of religion. There 
was a middle party, led by the gentle, temperate 
John of Segovia, and the Spaniards at the Council 
often followed his lead. But, in the counsels of the 
synod, few men were temperate. The Pope was 
reduced to desperate straits ; he was in danger of 
becoming the servant of what, in modern parlance, 
might be called a fickle parliamentary majority, and 
resistance might seem almost hopeless, for his sup 
plies were cut off. The Council also required money. 
It usurped the Papal right of issuing indulgences 
and filled its treasury with the proceeds of the sale. 

The Council regarded the Papacy as the usurper of 
many rights, and especially of property that was 
vested in the Church ; the Head of the Church was 
the source of her corruption. The Pope looked on 
the Council as a headless, formless monster, bent 
on the spoliation of Christ s Vicar and the destruction 
of His organised Church. No basis of agreement 
could be found between these entirely hostile forces : 
to show the least sign of weakness on either side 
would have been suicidal. Both parties sought for 
political support to strengthen their position ; both 
were bidding eagerly for the favour of certain person 
ages who affected to represent the Eastern Church. 

1 uEn. Sil., Comment. , apud Fea : Pius II. a calumniis vindic., p. 66. 


Though Constantinople was deemed well-nigh 
impregnable, many Greeks desired the support of the 
Western powers. All was not taken by the followers 
of Mahommed ; much of the ancient Empire might 
still be recovered. To get the sympathy of the 
West they sought for reunion with its Church. The 
Pope, the Council, John Palaeologus, the Emperor of 
Byzantium, and certain ecclesiastics of the Eastern 
Church were in negotiation concerning an European 
congress for union, which was to be held in Western 
Europe, and which the Greeks promised to attend. 
If it met at Basel they would have to cross the Alps, 
and the journey would prove too great, too difficult, 
and too expensive. Rome, that would have seemed 
of all places the most suitable, was out of the question. 
For Eugenius had not yet dared to return thither, and 
neither the Greeks nor the Council would have cared 
to give the Roman Pontiff the prestige and advantage 
that their appearance at the foot of the Apostolic 
Chair in the Apostolic city would bestow. It was 
necessary, then, to find some city, easy of access 
alike for Greeks and Western Europeans, but suffi 
ciently wealthy to contribute towards the necessary 
expenses. The project was keenly debated, both in 
the Curia and in the Council, and the Greeks nego 
tiated with both parties to secure the best terms 
possible for themselves. Florence, Avignon and Pavia 
were proposed. 

^Eneas found himself, a man of letters, cast into 
an arena of fierce theological disputation and political 
warfare, where oratorical power was in eager request 
and led to preferment. Like a pleader in a law- 
court, he was ready to place his powers at the 


disposal of a client, without concerning himself too 
closely with the exact justice or expediency of the 
cause he was to maintain. That was a question for 
the Court to determine : his sole duty was to do his 
best for his employer. Pavia lay in the duchy of 
Milan; the orator who appeared on behalf of the 
duke was an incompetent speaker, and the fathers 
heard him with impatience. His cause, indeed, was 
hopeless. The French party would never consent 
to give up Avignon for Pavia; the Venetians and 
Florentines, who belonged to the Papal party, were 
foes of the duke, and were still less likely to do so. 
^Eneas was asked to plead for Pavia. It was a great 
opportunity. He was to appear before the assembled 
representatives of Europe, and could make his force 
felt by the most important audience conceivable : 
cardinals and ecclesiastics of rank and the envoys 
of the Powers would be there. He might achieve the 
special favour of the duke. He spent two days in 
preparing his speech, so he tells us : l he sat up, 
working at it the night before its delivery, 2 probably 
to give it its finishing touches. The product of these 
labours was an oration as dexterous as it was brilliant, 
and though it did not change the mind of the 
assembly, they heard him with rapt attention : the 
benches were as if spell-bound. -ZEneas says that he 
was careful to avoid saying anything that might give 
offence ; 3 and he did not omit the adulation of 
princes that the etiquette of the time demanded : 
indeed he gave special praise to the Duke of Milan, 

1 JExi. Sil., De Condi. Bas., apud Fea, C. : Pius II. a calumniis vindic. 
Romae, 1823. 2 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 

3 ^En. Sil., De Condi. Bas., apud Fea, p. 66. 


of whose patronage he entertained high hopes, but of 
whose character, later, if not now, he formed a juster 
estimate. 1 Things were said in the fifteenth century, 
in eulogy of princes, so smooth and servile that, to 
day, they would only arouse contemptuous mirth or 
merited indignation, and defeat their own ends. He 
won the ears of the Papal party when he said that 
no one ought to disregard the Pope s authority before 
the Church condemned him. Thus he adroitly yielded 
due honour to the Pope while giving the Council the 
supremacy it claimed. 2 

The reader will find the oration full of animation. 
Here, instead of the dull speeches, full of scholastic 
learning, to which the fathers were accustomed, was 
a new style, persuasive oratory, apt quotation from 
the classics, Ciceronian Latin, not perfect indeed, 
not the ponderous labour of a pedant, but alive. 
And it was delivered by an accomplished orator of 
engaging personality and clear, resonant voice, who 
always kept to the point, yet invested his argument 
with scholarly dignity and relieved it with literary 
reminiscences, whose periods had the grace and light 
ness of a bird s flight, yet who could drive an argu 
ment home with the precision of a skilled marksman 
speeding his arrow. The speech for Pavia was the 
first of a long series of oratorical efforts, many of 
which, like this, were wasted on futile subjects at a 
futile Council, but some, like the one delivered at 
Mantua, were noble calls to action in a worthy cause. 
No one of his time made so many speeches on so 

1 uEn. SiL, De Condi Bas., apud Fea, p. 40; Europa-, Pentalogus ; 
Ep. ad Procop. de Rabenstein, June, 1444. 

2 Mansi, Sacror. Condi. Collect., xxix. Venet., 1784. 


many important occasions. 1 They are marred for 
the modern reader by the redundance of Scriptural 
and classical quotations which an age that yielded 
servile authority to antiquity demanded of all literary 

The speech was delivered in May 1436. Party 
feeling already ran very high. The Papacy was 
opposed to the selection of Avignon, for, although 
a Papal possession, that city lay under the shadow 
of the French Power. The Papacy bore in mind 
seventy years of Babylonian captivity/ the proximity 
of Paris, and the herds of Parisian scholars and French 
priests that would flock to Avignon and dominate 
the Council. The Pope and his Curia had seen shoals 
of monks and copyists and unbeneficed clergy and 
discontented men fill the Council at Basel, seeking 
personal promotion there, and not the Church s 
welfare. They wished to keep power in their own 
hands ; they desired to preserve the universality of 
the Church and its independence of all princes and 
powers other than themselves. It was feared that if 
Eugenius were to die during the sittings at Avignon, 
a Frenchman would be elected and the Papacy 
become bound once more, and perhaps finally, to 
France. Nor were they in favour of Pavia, a city 
under the control of Eugenius s foe. But the Council, 
on the other hand, knew very well that what the 
Pope desired was to get it to sit at some Italian city, 
where Italians would predominate and dissolution be 
easy to effect. 

The struggle between Papalists and Baselites grew 
ever more bitter. The legates pointed out that the 

1 Campanus, Pii II. Vita ; see Muratori, R. I. 8., iii. pars ii. 


councils of old were attended by priests of episcopal 
rank only, and, moreover, that the mental and moral 
qualifications of a voter may be of some importance 
should even carry more weight in a question than a 
mere number of votes. But they were howled down 
by almost the whole body. Doctors of civil and 
canon law, nay bishops and even archbishops, would 
have none of this doctrine. The cooler heads on both 
sides tried to mediate. But priests and those in minor 
orders practically laymen came crowding in from 
the immediate neighbourhood. It is said that men 
knowing not a single word of Latin, and therefore 
totally incapable of understanding the proceedings of 
the Council, were to be found sitting on its committees : 
they were taught the formula whereby they could re 
cord their vote. Masters converted their servants into 
members of the Council to add to the voting strength 
of their party. 1 Each meeting was stormier than 
the last. Cesarini, even, lost his calm bearing ; his 
measured manner gave place to excitement ; he looked 
perturbed, and his words came tumbling out of his 

Eugenius and his Curia saw that the time had come 
for bold and resolute action. If they did not push 
their opportunity, both Papacy and Christian Church 
would be ruined. The Archbishop of Taranto was 
sent to Basel. He was a man of energy and convic 
tion, and he gave heart to the Papalists : they began 
to see that the Council was preparing its own ruin, 
and that the hour had come for the Papacy and its 
followers to make a last stand. The quiet old minster 
above the Rhone became a theatre of passion. It 

1 Voigt, loc. cit. t p. 123. 


seemed as if its red stone might take a yet deeper 
hue. One day it was filled by a shouting mob of 
armed men : happily they were so many and so 
closely squeezed together that they could not draw 
their weapons. Rival prelates, pale with anxiety, 
rushed to forestall each other, to seize and occupy 
the altar. They gabbled the Mass, they sang in 
opposition to each other ; the discord was appalling, 
the din deafened the ears. As each party launched 
its decree, its opponents tried to drown the voice of 
the reader by raising the psalm Te Deum laudamus. 
^Eneas was present at these disgraceful scenes, and 
has recorded them. 1 So great was the shouting 
that you would find the toss-pots of a tavern better 
behaved/ wrote he to a friend. 2 

Voigt, quite gratuitously, accuses ^Eneas of having 
been active for Avignon. 3 Now, he definitely says in 
his epistle of retractation, 4 c I played no remarkable 
part therein ; for I was of the settled conviction that 
the frivolous Piccolomini had throughout no great 
insight into the confused tangle that there was then, 
and how only one point of view was admitted by 
the entire government of the conciliar theory/ He 
wrote on May 21, 1437, * We have become a horrid 
monstrosity, such as the world has never seen or 
heard before. ... If you ask my opinion, there are 
few on either side whose acts are directed by their 
conscience. God knows which side has the truth. I 
do not see, nor, if I saw, would I dare to write it. 1 

1 Mn. Sil., Comment, de Condi. Basil., apud Car. Fea, Pius II. a 
calumniis vindic. Komae, 1823. 

2 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Petr. de Noxeto, May 20, 1437. 

3 Voigt, loc. cit., p. 146. 

4 See Pius II. a calumniis vindic., Car. Fea. Romae, 1823. 


He was a humanist, full of love of letters and joy of 
life. Fate, not inclination, had cast him into this 
theological bear-garden. But his graphic pen re 
corded what his keen eyes saw, and his open ears 
listened to. We can hear the quick heart-beat of 
the combatants ; we are made to feel that momentous 
issues are at stake ; we positively are present at the 
final tempestuous scene. 




THE last violent scene at Basel took place on May 
7, 1437. On the 29th, the Pope decreed, in open 
consistory, that the meeting with the Greeks should 
take place in Italy ; for his diplomatists, more skilful 
than those of the Council, had prevailed ; moreover 
the Eastern monarch and the Eastern Churchmen, 
who were subordinate to the monarch, had a natural 
bias for personal authority, and were better instructed 
in the prestige that attached to the Papacy than 
assured of the might of a Council. On July 31st the 
Council commanded the Pope to present himself be 
fore them at Basel within sixty days. On September 
18th, Eugenius declared the Council of Basel to be 
closed, and ordered a new Council to assemble at 
Ferrara. On January 24, 1438, the Council sus 
pended the Pope. Meanwhile the Papal legates 
departed from Basel, one by one, and shook the dust 
of the city from their feet. One by one, they turned 
their horses heads southward, not without sorrow, 
and, in time, many of the noblest spirits at Basel 
found themselves gathered together round Eugenius 
and the Sacred College. The duty was not painless, 
but it appeared to them to be imperative. Parentu- 
celli, even when he became a Pope himself, declared 


that the Roman Pontiffs have stretched their au 
thority too far, and left the other bishops no jurisdic 
tion/ 1 Nicholas of Cusa left early; he soon learned 
to regard the Council as a degenerate, anarchical 
mob, and resolved to support the regulative control 
of the Papacy. Cesarini and Cervantes were slower 
to admit the failure of the conciliar principle. But 
they were driven to conclude that there were more 
at Basel whose lips played with the magic word 
reform than bore it in their hearts. They were 
the last of the Papal party to leave. It shows how 
completely one opinion prevailed at Basel perhaps 
it shows us what self-seeking was in the hearts of 
most that ^Eneas tells us there were few who de 
parted with Cesarini, and they were believed to have 
done so in order to save their benefices. 2 But there 
were honest, sincere enthusiasts still left at Basel, 
men who execrated Papal autocracy as an usurpation, 
discredited alike by history and the existing corrup 
tion of the Church. They clung to the Council as 
the only hope of amendment. The universities 
remained wholly on the conciliar side. Louis d Alle- 
mand, Cardinal of Aries, presided now. The learned 
jurists and theologians, Juan de Segobia and Thomas 
de Courcelles, remained, and a knot of moderate men 
gathered around them. These went by the nick 
name of the Greys/ for, while prepared to accept 
logical consequences, they did not deem unconditional 
submission to D Allemand one of them. They wished 
to preserve their own freedom of thought ; and were 
rather inclined to take up a neutral position with 

1 Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, iii. pars ii. f. 895. 

2 Pius ii., Bulla retract, ed. Fea, loc. cit., 155. 


regard to Baselites and Papalists alike. They 
counted for very little, but they had the support of 
the German princes. 

The feeble occupant of the throne of Constantine, a 
personage remarkable for crabbedness of temper and 
dullness of intellect, arrived at Ferrara on May 7, 
1438. Though reduced to a realm contained by the 
walls of a single city, that city still remained the 
one unconquered fragment of the Roman world, and 
John Palseologus was the successor of rulers that for 
a thousand years had claimed the ancient empire as 
their possession, and received the homage of no incon 
siderable part of it. He entered the city of the 
Estensi in great state, riding a horse covered with 
purple trappings, and the Princes of the House bore 
a sky-blue baldacchino over his head. l But Eugenius 
was compelled to transfer the Council from Ferrara to 
Florence, for Niccolb Piccinino was abroad ravaging 
the country, and the roads were unsafe. In Tuscany, 
too, the Greeks would be more in the Pope s hand 
than near the sea-border ; he could be sure, also, of 
getting supplies into his treasury (and of these there 
was great need). 

The Greeks came in the vain hope of procuring aid 
from Western Christendom. They found it indifferent 
to the fate of Constantinople ; indifferent even to the 
schism in its own Church. Many wished to return, 
but the Emperor overruled them. Months passed in 
weary disputation. At last Bessarion, Archbishop of 
Nicea, a liberal-minded patriot, persuaded his col 
leagues that, if the Turk were to be hurled back from 
the gates of Constantinople, union with the Western 

1 Geo. Phranzes, lib. ii. cap. 15. 


Church must be effected therein lay their only hope. 
Latin supremacy was a small matter now that the 
followers of Mahommed had triumphed throughout 
the East. He persuaded himself and his colleagues 
that the truth concerning the Procession of the Holy 
Spirit and the use of leavened bread lay with Roman 
Catholic Christianity. The Greeks abandoned dogmas 
that had served as rallying cries in the antagonisms of 
East and West. Bessarion moved a resolution which 
declared the Roman Pontiff to be the Vicar of God, 
the Father and Shepherd of all Christian peoples. It 
was a striking scene. The great Duomo of Florence 
was crowded with faithful adherents of Eugenius and 
Greek prelates, clad in the superb silken vestments of 
the Eastern Church. Submission was rendered to the 
Pope, and Bessarion, stepping forward, exchanged the 
kiss of peace with Cesarini. Men supposed that the 
breach that had persisted for so many centuries was 
healed, and Eugenius wrote to the Christian princes 
that he, the Pope, had effected, not without infinite 
labour, what no other agency could have brought 
about. 1 The submission of the Greeks restored no 
small measure of authority to the Papacy, and it 
diminished the prestige of the Council in equal 
degree. The Pope, and not the Council, had healed 
the gaping wounds of so many ages. The tide was 
on the turn. Once again the unyielding policy of 
Rome proved successful ; once again the forces of 
attack would divide and rend each other ; once again 
the precise moment for action had been rightly 
judged ; once again the Pope stood at the head of 
Christendom (A.D. 1439). 

1 Raynaldus, Ad ann. 1439. 


But the Eastern Emperor returned to the curses of 
his people ; he had betrayed his Church, and his 
Church was the bond of union of races that for cen 
turies had remained faithful to the Imperial idea. 
Four years later the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, 
and Jerusalem denounced the robber -synod of 

Meanwhile the principle of nationality, abandoned 
by the Greeks, began to manifest a sturdy growth 
among the Western peoples. Charles of France, the 
feudal superior of a nobility ruined by the long wars 
with England, was surrounding himself with new 
men that were his creatures, thereby laying the 
foundations of a consolidated France under an 
absolute monarchy. He called loudly on Pope and 
Council to end their differences, and then confirmed 
the decisions of a national synod held at Bourges, 
which, by a Pragmatic Sanction/ overrode all man 
dates of the Pope, cut off his revenues, determined 
French ecclesiastical rights, and practically created a 
French national church, subordinate to the king. 
German rulers also lectured the Council, and inclined 
towards the establishment of a national church for 
the whole German land. John of Lysura, a German 
who had been educated in Italy, was the soul of the 
movement. Diet followed diet ; the princes declared 
their neutrality, March 17, 1438, and, on March 26 
in the following year, the Diet of Mainz copied the 
example of the Synod of Bourges. Though Eugenius 
was growing stronger than the Council, the power of 
the mediaeval Papacy had become a little faint and 
unimpressive ; the Papal taxes were resented as a 
baneful outrage ; the feeling of national independence 


was spreading throughout Europe. The Council 
despatched anxious missions to Germany and else 
where. In these legations ^Eneas, who had mani 
fested his powers in the speech for Pavia, was called 
on to take a subordinate part. 

He had cast in his lot with the Council. He had 
little more natural liking or aptitude for theology 
than for law, but he possessed quite as much capacity 
for effective action in a council- chamber as for the 
quieter but more enduring communications of the 
study. Environment counts hardly less than essential 
nature in the development of character ; it is the 
chief determinant in the direction taken by power. 
^Eneas was cast into cross-currents of theology and 
politics, and he was carried along by the momentum 
of the forces which played around him. I was like 
a young bird just flown from the nest when I came 
from Siena ; I was raw and inexperienced ; we deemed 
that to be true which everybody said ; we did not 
suspect their statements : it is thus that, many years 
later, he wrote to the rector of the University of 
Koln. 1 Indeed, at first, he concerned himself very 
little with theological discussion : he accepted the 
view current at Basel, and he enjoyed the skill with 
which he could endow dull theological propositions 
with literary grace, and so gain the applause of 
learned men. He was needy, and one must live as 
one can, not as one would. There is even a pleasure 
in adroitly steering one s bark through troubled 
waters. But he never sold his soul for wealth, 
though he was influenced by a love of decent comfort 
and refinement and lettered ease. He spent his 

1 Letter of August 13, 1447, ed. Fea, loc. cit. 


leisure with other young secretaries and scholars, 
attached to the Council, in discussing the classical 
authors and philosophy and the merits of women and 
wine. He was witty, good humoured and kindly, 
and men sought his society. He was a popular 
member of the light-hearted circle of young men 
that he calls ( the Basel Academy ; l they were 
occupied throughout the day in the pressure of 
business or the pursuit of learning ; they sought 
relaxation in the immediacy and joy of life, and 
passed hilarious nights together. Half-suffocated 
in the grey tide of affairs, they exulted to escape 
to more cheerful fields, and it must be owned that 
they held no more passionate prejudice for chastity 
than other men of their time. 2 

Then came the schism within the Council. ^Eneas 
was a many-sided man and could see many sides of 
a question. The more you know of a subject the 
greater may be your doubt concerning it, he was 
wont to say. 3 Was the schism very serious after all ? 
The Universities supported the Council ; it was by 
no means certain that the breach would be permanent. 
He wrote to his friend Noceto, who was still in the 
service of Albergati : both sides have strong leaders; 
both sides produce strong arguments ; a decision is 
impossible. The French party has most prelates, 
but which side has most probity is quite another 
question. The greater number of theologians are 
on the legate s side. There you have all the guidance 
there is. Some are mendicantes and others would 

1 ^En. Sil., Ep. ad Petrum de Noxeto, September 18, 1453. 

2 J&H. Sil., Ep. ad Nicol. Amadamum, 1442 et 1443. 

3 Campanus, Vita Pii II., apud JEn. Silv. Opera. Basileae, 1551. 


be manducantes. Do you ask my meaning ? There 
are very few that I can trust as being led by their 
conscience. He believed in the conciliar principle, 
and, when schism came, that the directive purpose 
of the Holy Spirit would declare itself in the evolution 
of events. It was with no venal spirit/ he assures 
us, that I held that the Council should not be at the 
beck of rulers, but should submit itself to the direc 
tion of the Holy Spirit. l But he also admits that 
his chief desire at this time was to get on in the 
world. Then I was a layman, and I shared in the 
general malice of the laity against the Church, nor 
was I so anxious to discover truth as to secure my 
own advancement. He was conscious of great powers 
requiring a wide field for their due exercise ; his 
nature was almost encyclopaedic in its scope, and 
to satisfy it some secure position must be obtained. 
He had a keen zest for life ; the desire of the cul 
tivated humanist to make all things go pleasantly; 
to speak smoothly and avoid all causes of offence. 
Many motives conflict in a complex nature; no solitary 
impulse is likely to dominate it. His letters are 
remarkable for their candour. That he took chiefly 
an academic interest in the discussions at Basel is 
clear from them. He was not, at this time, a member 
of the Council. But the atmosphere he breathed 
was thick with charges against the misgovernment 
of Eugenius. No one among those at Basel might 
be listened to if he defended the Roman Curia or 
gave Eugenius a favourable word. But whoever 
spoke ill of the Roman See, condemned Eugenius, 
and detested the Curia, was held in the highest 

1 Ep. retract., loc. cit. 


consideration. 1 * We wrote letters and pamphlets 
whereby we got high praise and we were very proud 
of them. 2 So wrote ^Eneas in his retractations. 
His inner life was set on letters and success and 

The Pope was deemed by the great majority of 
the Council to be contumacious. It probably never 
entered ^Eneas s mind to desert to the Papal side. 
Cesarini thought very highly of him as a scholar, 8 
but that great figure dominated the memory of Pius 
the Pope more than it did the mind of ^Eneas the 
secretary. Often we find in a footstep what we 
failed to see in a face. ^Eneas had no very deep 
spiritual perceptions at this time ; the strife around 
him was vital, but it was not of a character calculated 
to stir his nature to its depths. 

He was capable of great personal loyalty, and an 
event now happened which bound him to the con- 
ciliar side. Francesco di Picciolpassi, Archbishop of 
Milan, was a man not unlearned. The light, easy, 
vivid style of the secretary so took his fancy that 
he asked ^Eneas to polish his own work. The speech 
for Pavia had elicited thanks from the Duke of Milan, 
and ^Eneas hoped to get employment in the ducal 
service. The Archbishop offered him the Provostship 
of S. Lorenzo in Milan a position which could be 
held by one who was practically a layman that is 
to say, one in minor orders below the rank of sub- 
deacon and untrammelled by priestly vows. But 
the chapter had selected its own man, and a dispen- 

1 In Fea, C., Pius II. a calumniis vindic. : Ep. retract., p. 3. 

2 Ibid., Bulla retract., p. 155. 

3 See the letter of May 1, 1443. 


sation was required from the Council to overrule the 
chapter. ./Eneas petitioned the Council for a dispen 
sation, and his petition was contested. But opposi 
tion to him was directed less by principle than by 
personal jealousy. He made an able appeal : You 
will act according to your sense of what is right, 
Fathers, he said. I do not ask you to decide con 
trary to what you deem honour to require at your 
hands. Should you decide in my favour, however, 
I should prefer such a token of your good-will, even 
if I never got the office, to the office itself as conferred 
by any mere capitular election. l Such sleek blan- 
diloquence was irresistible. The Council readily com 
plied. But it should be remarked that, in issuing 
a dispensation, it arrogated to itself a privilege which 
it had denied to the Pope. 

After the plague, ^Eneas rode to Milan only to 
find the Provostship filled up by the duke, and 
clamoured for by a Papal nominee. ^Eneas petitioned 
the duke, and still hoped for success. He threw 
away fifty ducats in fees besides the expenses of 
more than one journey over the Alps. 2 On his return 
to Basel, the archbishop requested him, although a lay 
man, to preach for him on the day of St. Ambrose, that 
saint being the patron of Milan. The congregation, 
composed of scholarly and distinguished men, listened 
with rapt attention. Here were no dull, threadbare 
platitudes, no dreary outpourings of scholastic theology, 
but words that were alive, happy illustrations drawn 
from Holy Writ, and still happier quotations from 
those heathen authors that all men loved and admired. 3 
^Eneas tells us that he was of opinion that the Classics 

1 Voigt, loc. cit. 149. 2 Ibid., loc. cit. 292. 3 Pii II. Comment., \. 1. 


furnish the soundest, practical guidance for life. 1 His 
brilliant audience were warm in their congratula 
tions. 2 

He soon rose rapidly in the service of the Council, 
especially under the Anti-Pope it elected. In a 
year or two he became scriptor, then transcriber of 
protocols ; then corrector, or overseer of the scriptors ; 
then he was promoted to posts usually reserved for 
doctors of canon law, becoming first, abbreviator, 
an officer entrusted with letters and the less im 
portant documents of the Council, and afterwards 
superintendent of abbreviators. He was often 
appointed to the Committee of Faith, sitting among 
theologians, and was sometimes chosen to be its 
President ; and, more than once, he was selected to 
be of the Committee of Twelve. 3 His gracious bear 
ing, his amiability, his great mental endowments, and 
his discretion marked him out for diplomacy ; and he 
was sent with missions, thrice to Strassburg, twice to 
Constance, once, at least, both to Frankfort and 
Savoy. Gratitude demanded, his duty required that 
he should defend the Council that he approved, that 
employed him, and that gave him advancement : 
intellectual assent and obligation conspired to make 
him the Council s man. The ink flew from his facile, 
willing pen in numerous tractates. It caused me 
no blush/ so he says a few years later, to write 
pamphlets and foolishly attack Papal authority, nor/ 
adds he with simple and characteristic vanity, was 
the name of ^Eneas of small account among the 

1 Mn. Sil., Epistola ad Sigismundum, Ducem. Austriae, December 3, 

2 Mn. Sil., De vir. clar., xxi, 3 p# jj Comment., 1. 1. 


enemies of the Roman Curia. 1 It may be doubted 
whether these writings were inspired so much by 
polemical impulse or a strong sense of obligation as 
by the delight of a ready penman in his skill the 
pleasure he takes in lucid exposition and happy 
illustration and clear, pregnant phrase. 2 The sound 
of his own sentences probably had a charm for ^Eneas 
greater than the attraction of conciliar principles. 
For this Voigt chose to pillory him. Seldom have 
three closely printed volumes of accurate research 
been marred by more persistent anxiety to brand a 
man with the worst motives, or by such deliberate 
refusal to entertain those more charitable interpreta 
tions of human character which, oftener than not, 
are nearest the truth. 

His earlier literary activities had quite another 
direction. At Basel as at Siena he had indulged in 
day-dreams. Platina credits him with three thousand 
poems. 3 He sang of wine and women ; he wrote 
satires and eclogues and elegies after the manner of 
the Ancients. The Nymphilexis, an erotic poem of 
at least two hundred lines, has perished; only the 
dedication to his friend Mariano de Sozzini remains. 4 
Campano tells us it was sprightly and spirited, but 

1 See the Epistle of Retractation, written to the Eector of Koln. 1447. 
Ed. Fea, loc. cit. 

2 His History of the Council, to some extent a polemical tract of this 
period, is full of pithy, pregnant remarks : e.g., There are none to whom 
some happiness does not fall, whom God does not somehow recompense 
here ; and obstacles that are like mountains may glow with celestial light ; 
* A man is most shocked by vices that he himself is not guilty of ; Worth 
without power is a mockery ; * Such is the essential power of goodness 
that its very foe is compelled to strive for it. 

3 Platina, Vita Pii II. 

4 Mu. Sil., Ep. ad Mar. de Soc., March 1, 1435. 


the metre was not too correct. In truth his verse 
had not the inevitableness and spontaneity that 
belongs to the born poet ; the lines did not come 
singing into his brain. He merely turned eloquent 
prose into passable verse. Yet his contemporaries 
thought highly of him as a poet. These poetical 
exercises did him the usual good service of making 
him master of a large vocabulary and teaching him 
the value of point. He learned how effective is 
the precise epithet ; how that is the best style which 
best brings the subject quite home to the reader s 
mind. Later in life he wrote plays and brilliant 
dialogues ; later still he indulged in hymns and 
epitaphs, and, when he became Pope, he still amused 
himself by capping rhymes with Campano, and he 
versified on religious subjects. 

But his letters have a unique charm. He was a 
voluminous correspondent, and he took no pains to 
put on disguise with his friends. One sees the man 
just as he was, without any self-consciousness. If 
he poses, it is just as a child might do. In reading 
them one is attracted to a welcome personality, a 
warm friend, who chats and sometimes grows elo 
quent. His style is always fresh, though, perhaps, 
a little overcharged with those literary reminiscences, 
Scriptural and classical, that the taste of his age 
required. Ideas and emotions and prejudices chase 
each other like the clouds : the momentary feeling 
is there, the passing half-thought, the fleeting im 
pulse. Hence it is dangerous and unfair to fix JSneas 
by a single unguarded expression. The letters reveal 
a man chatty but wise, and sympathetic ; not devoid 
of human frailty himself, and therefore condoning 


the weaknesses of other folk. No painter ever fixed 
the inmost soul of his sitter on canvas with greater 
candour than JEneas reveals himself in his letters ; 
no man has ever laid his soul more bare, or with so 
little concern. 

Soon after the stormy sittings at Basel, Sigismund, 
who had restored some shadow of authority to his 
high office, died, and on March 18, 1438, the day 
after the declaration of German neutrality, Albert 
of Austria, his sister s son, was appointed to fill the 
vacant throne. The Council sent an embassy to con 
gratulate the new monarch, and of this legation ^Eneas 
found himself a member. He speaks of Albert as 
a man of great stature, a mighty hunter, ready in 
warfare, better at deeds than words, looking up to 
men on whose opinion he confided rather than relying 
on his own judgement. His complexion was dark, 
his eyes fierce, he hated all manner of wickedness/ l 
-5Cneas found his old master, the Bishop of Novara, 
at Vienna, whither he had been sent as the envoy 
of Milan. The bishop got him to write a Latin 
speech, whereof the king understood not one word. 
Eugenius sent ambassadors too, but Albert would 
declare neither for Pope nor Council. His position 
was too uncertain. He was King of Hungary, but 
his hold of the country was not strong, and the 
Turkish terror overshadowed the Hungarian crown, 
while Bohemia was still in revolt. The Emperor was 
feebler than any of the princes that had elected 
him : the brief resuscitation of Imperial prestige by 
Sigismund perished with that monarch. 

was shocked at the complete ignorance of 

1 ^Eneas Silvius in Palacky, Italienische Reise y 116. 


the Austrians of all the refinements of life. He 
found them innocent of learning, barbarous in their 
manners, untouched by the ideality, the unsealing 
of the spirit, the unveiling of beauty, the warmth 
and glow of life that Italy knew. The Austrians 
were still a dull, gross, and indecorous people. 

He rode back through a famished country, for the 
crops had failed. In Bavaria, children, both boys 
and girls, clamoured for bread and fought for a crust 
as dogs will for a bone. 1 As was usual in the 
Middle Ages famine was followed by pestilence. Next 
year (A.D. 1439) a grim and inexorable horror took 
up its abode in Basel. It was the loathsome, dreaded 
plague. Three hundred dead bodies and more were 
carried every night to the pits ; in all, five thousand 
people perished. The pestilence spared neither old 
nor young : the Patriarch of Aquileia, well stricken in 
years, the youthful Pontano, already the foremost of 
jurists, succumbed. The virile illusion that man can 
command his destinies that support of vigorous man 
hood was broken : abject fear fell on all. ^Eneas had 
the courage to stand beside and comfort the dying 
Pontano ; he gently urged him to submit to the will 
of God, and meet the inevitable with manly courage. 
In the watches of that same night, at the very hour 
when a fellow-countryman was being borne to the 
grave, he felt that he himself was ill, and, seeking for 
the fatal swelling, discovered it. A friend and his 
own servant bravely elected to watch by his side. 
But they called in an ignorant practitioner, because a 
certain Parisian doctor, who was credited with skill, 
had the common weakness of his profession : he was a 

1 Pii II. Comment., I 1. 


sceptic. The quack, since the left groin was affected, 
opened a vein in the left foot ; sleep was forbidden for 
a whole day and part of the night ; then a powder 
was mixed up, and had to be drunk, but the nature 
of this the physician refused to state. l Local appli 
cations were used, but ^Eneas grew worse and worse. 
For six days and six nights he tossed about in fever, 
and was tortured by intolerable headache. He was 
supposed to be dying ; a priest was fetched ; he made 
confession, took the sacrament, was anointed, and 
looked death in the face. That is no unwholesome 
experience for any man in the pride of life. He re 
covered by degrees, but it was reported that he was 
dead, and the rumour reached Milan. And so he lost 
all prospect of obtaining the provostship, for the duke 
put some one else in the office. But he would not 
abandon hope of recovering it, and continued to 
petition Visconti. He could even deal with the 
report in a spirit of grim humour. * If I were indeed 
defunct, he wrote to the duke (long after he was 
aware of the true fact), * if I were indeed dead, as my 
foes have reported to your highness, I should hardly 
be now writing to you, unless such a thing is possible 
to the dead. But, by the indulgence of Heaven, I 
assure you that I still enjoy the upper air. 

Probably the spirit of religious prejudice that ex 
cluded the doctor from Paris also prevented his friends 
from calling in a necromancer, the last resource in 
such cases. But ^Eneas would never have permitted 
it so long as consciousness remained. Once, after 
one of his many journeys to Milan, he lay there, sick 
of fever, for seventy-five days, and they brought a 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 


magic-worker to his bedside, but j^Eneas would have 
none of him, though he was reputed to have cured two 
thousand soldiers in Piccinino s camp. While still an 
invalid he cured himself by riding over the high passes 
of the mountains to Basel. 1 His attitude towards 
necromancy is shown, as well as his painstaking courtesy 
and sense of humour, by a later letter, written to his 
brother: The bearer of this came to me to ask if I 
knew of a Mount of Venus in Italy, where magic arts 
are taught. His master, a Saxon and a great astron 
omer, is desirous of becoming a pupil. I told him I 
knew a certain Porto Venere very well (the Harbour 
of Venus), as being a port on the rocky coast of 
Liguria, not far from Carrara, for I passed three nights 
in sleep there on the road to Basel. And I found for 
him that there is a mountain called Eryx, in Sicily, 
which, once upon a time, was sacred to Venus, but I 
could find nothing about magic being taught there. 
Then, while talking, I remembered hearing that near 
Nursia in the old duchy, in Umbria, beneath a preci 
pice, there lies a cave whence water flows, and that 
witches, daemons, and spirits of the night frequent it, 
and that a sufficiently audacious man may hold con 
verse with departed spirits and acquire magical arts 
there. I had not bothered my head about it, for, if 
that is the way in which knowledge is to be acquired, 
one is better without it. 2 

As an officer of the Council, JEneas felt obliged to 
continue the employment of his ready pen in defence 
of the conciliar principle, and the Council was equally 
bound to recompense his services. He was presented 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 

2 -<En. Sil., Opera omnia, p. 531, et seq. Basileae, 1553. 


to a canonry at Trient, a position which a layman 
might hold. But when he arrived there he found a 
German in possession : the chapter had foisted a sly, 
contentious man into the office/ he tells us. 1 The 
declaration of neutrality had thrown the German 
Church into the utmost confusion : often, as in this 
case, there were rival claimants to the same benefice ; 
a bishop and his chapter would take different sides, 
and it was no uncommon thing to hear Eugenius 
anathematised to-day, and the Council to-morrow, from 
the same pulpit. 2 Both ecclesiastical and political 
anarchy reigned in Germany, and hence the Pragmatic 
Sanction of that country failed to found a national 

The Council was presided over by a solitary car 
dinal (D Allemand), but it had the strong support of 
the universities, the discontented, and the great body 
of reformers ; and, having suspended Eugenius on 
January 24, 1438, and waited a year and a half for 
his submission, on June 25, 1439, it declared him 
deposed. Busy negotiations were carried on with a 
view to the election of a new Pope. A legation was 
sent to confer with Amadeo, the hermit-duke, and 
-^Eneas was commanded to accompany it ; so once 
again he found himself sailing down the pleasant lake 
and received in the country-mansion, where the recluse 
enjoyed a delightful villeggiatura. There was a strong 
party in the Council that favoured the election of the 
duke ; there were those that believed him to be a 
true hermit one that had voluntarily abandoned 
the vanities of this world. Moreover, he was wealthy, 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1 ; ^n. Sil., Ep. ad Barzisium, December 5, 1442. 

2 Piickert, Die Kurfiirstliche Neutralitat, p. 140. 


his race was allied by carefully selected marriages with 
more than one royal house ; his domains, occupied 
by mixed races, and lying between France, Italy, 
Germany, and Spain, gave him a position of almost 
cosmopolitan neutrality ; the powerful Duke of Milan 
was for him, he was astute by nature and a prince of 
vast experience, and seven Savoyard bishops had 
joined the Council. Truly, he knew but little Latin ; 
but he was clever, and would be able to pick up 
enough of it to serve every practical purpose. 

But, like most possessors of great wealth and power, 
Amadeo was avid of more. He finessed with the 
Council, for he desired to be Pope in reality as well 
as in name and to have an assured income that would 
more than enable him to support his pretensions. At 
last he consented to become a candidate. ^Eneas was 
now a man of so much importance that the Council 
wished him to vote at the approaching election, and 
offered to grant him a dispensation whereby he might 
become sub-deacon and deacon in a single day. He 
declined the honour. His refusal has been attributed 
to interested motives. It has been said that he was 
not satisfied with the security of the new Pope s 
position, and was unwilling to compromise himself. 
But, in preceding schisms, on making submission, 
Anti-Popes and their adherents always met with 
honourable treatment and received due recompense. 
And, indeed, so it fell out with Amadeo and his 
adherents. ^Eneas was a keen reader of character. 
Probably he was not altogether satisfied with Amadeo ; 
probably, too, while he was willing to defend the 
Council as its servant, he was not anxious to under 
take the direct personal responsibility of voting for an 


Anti-Pope ; perhaps, too, he saw that by the election 
of a monarch the Council would abrogate its position. 
But there was a stronger reason still. So far, he was 
in minor orders only ; he was really a layman ; he had 
not taken the vow of celibacy. And he felt himself 
little capable of keeping that vow. I cannot trust 
myself to take a vow of continence/ It is thus that, 
four years later, with the utmost frankness, he writes 
concerning the priesthood to a friend : it is truly a 
virtue, but more easily honoured in lip-service than 
by conduct, and is more in keeping with the philoso 
phical than with the poetical temperament. x Such 
a scruple had little weight with the priesthood, of his 
time ! The Bishop of Llibeck proposed at the Council 
that the clergy should be allowed to marry, for, so 
far from keeping their vow, hardly one priest in a 
thousand could be found without a concubine, and 
the confessional was suspected of abuse. Bistucci 
tells us that Cardinal Cesarini stood out a marvel to 
all men, for he was believed to have remained chaste 
throughout his whole life. 

^Eneas, then, refused to take the vows ; but he 
accepted the post of Clerk of the Ceremony at the 
election. On November 5, 1439, Amadeo was de 
clared Pope. He took the title of Felix v., and on 
June 24, in the following year, he made a pompous 
entry into Basel, accompanied by his two sons (to 
whom he now resigned the government of his domains) 
and by all the chivalry of Savoy. ^Eneas formed one 
of the escort that conducted him thither. Precisely a 
month later, Felix v. was crowned with a costly tiara 
amidst the jubilation of fifty thousand spectators. 

1 Mn. Sil, Ep. ad Peirum de Noxeto, February 18, 1444. 


On the recommendation of D Allemand, JEneas 
was appointed Papal Secretary. He had to take his 
part in the diplomacy of Felix s court. Each Pope 
angled for the support of the European powers, but 
these had little to gain from either Pontiff, and 
indeed were very busy about their own affairs. The 
zeal of the Duke of Milan cooled. He had secured his 
end : there was now a rival to Eugenius the Venetian, 
the friend of his own rivals and enemies, the republics 
of Venice and Florence. The French king refused 
to support Felix, and told him he would do better 
to show his wonted wisdom, and employ himself in 
giving back peace to the Church. The inner reason 
of this excellent advice was that Eugenius favoured 
the claims of the house of Anjou to the Neapolitan 
throne. The rival of Anjou, the King of Aragon, 
hung aloof, for he still hoped to win Eugenius over 
to support his own pretensions. The universities 
stood alone as the firm supporters of Felix. The 
Cardinals he created were less learned, less gifted in 
diplomacy, and less renowned for piety than those of 
Eugenius. The Council that set out to reform the 
Church had miserably failed to do so, and now it had 
established a disgraceful schism. The election of 
Felix vastly diminished its importance, and, though it 
sat for four years longer, its time was wholly occupied 
in adjudicating on wretched squabbles about benefices. 
And want of means compelled both Felix and his 
Council to continue the very abuses they had con 
demned, and that had called the Council into being. 
^Eneas found he had accepted a position in which 
advocacy was expected from him. His sense of 
loyalty, his immediate and unquestionable duty 


appeared to him to be the doing of his best for his 
employers. And this was the easier, because it was 
no light task for any man to disentangle the con 
fusion of rights and usurpations and injustices of the 
ecclesiastical problem. Both sides adduced strong 
theological arguments; both sheltered themselves 
behind ecclesiastical theory. Felix s position was by 
no means hopeless; that of Eugenius was stronger, 
but by no means established ; the Holy Spirit had not 
yet given unmistakeable evidence of His intention; 
it was hard for any temperate thinker to come to a 
conclusion. Cesarini was a learned theologian, an 
acute logician, an earnest man, yet he had hesitated 
for a long while before he went over to Eugenius. In 
most of the great questions that divide mankind, the 
precise nature of the forces that conflict, the real 
issues they involve, the unchallengeable line of action 
they demand, are rarely manifest to the men with 
whom the momentous decision rests. The real pro 
blems at issue are revealed only to posterity, when 
the fatal act is long over, when its results have come 
into being and a new generation is already confronted 
with new perplexities. 

And Piccolomini was a humanist first. He was in 
love with life, he had no inborn taste for theology, he 
took no delight in ecclesiastical strife, and, so far as 
his position forced the serious consideration of these 
questions on him, his judgement inclined him towards 
the assertion of Church freedom, and his interest 
induced him to side with Felix and the Council. His 
tractates of this period merely invest the arguments 
of others with literary grace. They are presented in 
so novel a way that they overcome the repugnance 


of the natural man to the dryness of the subject- 
matter, and hold him captive. They present the 
arguments of opponents with perfect fairness, but 
there is a dexterous thrust, here and there, to the end 
^Eneas had in view. He was convinced that in His 
own good time the Holy Spirit watching over the 
guidance of God s Church would manifest His will. 

Perhaps the ablest of these productions is a set of 
Dialogues, the occasion of which was an answer given 
by the University of Koln to questions set by the 
archbishop of that city. The last of these was as to 
the legitimacy of the Council sitting at Basel, and 
the University declared it to be legitimate unless it 
had been lawfully translated. The sting of the 
scorpion lay in its tail, said ^Eneas, and he proceeded 
to extract it. The Dialogues are works of consum 
mate art ; their setting is truly delightful. ^Eneas 
had no real creative faculty ; perhaps his only original 
contribution to human knowledge was his perception 
of the dependence of a people s development on the 
physical characteristics of their land. But he had 
wit and imagination, and he never touched a theme 
without endowing it with freshness and charm. 
Poggio had already imitated the dialogues of Cicero, 
and ^Eneas improved on the Italian model. He and 
Martin Lefranc, a French co-secretary, have been 
wandering in the country, and they are returning 
towards evening to Basel. They praise the delights 
of country-life : the thoughts are Virgil s, the prose 
is ^Eneas s own. They perceive other members of the 
Council, Nicholas of Cusa and Stefano di Caccia, a 
jurist of Novara, standing, talking earnestly together. 
So they hide behind some bushes and listen. Both 


pairs dispute in turn. The discussions are managed 
with great literary skill : we never get wearied, for 
scholastic argument and quotation are relieved by 
reminiscences of the classics and historical memories 
and archaeological observations. Then Cusa and 
Caccia stop their discussion to say the Canonical 
hours, a duty which ^Eneas characteristically ob 
serves, may be a relief to the dreary life of the 
monastery, but becomes an irksome task to the 
scholar/ Then ^Eneas and Martin discover them 
selves, and ^Eneas contrives to hint to the Council 
that he could do with more means. It is most 
gracefully done : he has nothing at home for his 
evening meal, so he tells the others he will invite 
himself to sup with them. 

The arguments are perfectly familiar and worn, 
but he introduces them with a vivacity and force 
very foreign to their original authors ; the interest 
never flags ; there is keen thrust and satiric quip ; 
the portentous activity of the religious tongue, and 
the real indifference of the theologic heart are not 
spared. Here is no waving of dull banners of 
pedantry, but the quick clash of sharpened intellects ; 
yet the antagonists fully respect each other ; they 
remain friends in spite of difference, and go to take 
their supper together in the heartiest good fellowship. 
And the free breeze of heaven blows, all the while, 
over the landscape of which the disputants are the 
central figures. 

Another delicate hint that ^Eneas remains insuffi 
ciently remunerated is conveyed to his employers in 
the introduction to his History of the Council, a work 
in three books, which wraps up party-advocacy in 


the form of attractive narrative. It ends with the 
election of Felix. (Later in life ^Eneas began to re 
write the story of the Council, but left it unfinished.) 
I really ought to be putting by money for my old 
age/ runs the introduction, and not expending my 
powers on the writing of history. My friends com 
plain. They ask, "What are you about, ^Eneas? 
Have you no shame at being a pauper at your time of 
life ? You ought to know that a man should be in his 
full vigour at twenty, become cautious by thirty, and 
well-to-do by the time he has reached forty. After 
then it is too late to repair mistakes." I must grant 
that they are right, and, time after time, I have 
turned my back on poetry and history, yet, like a 
poor moth, I flutter back to the flame. Such is my 
nature, and so must it remain. After all, poor people 
as well as the rich manage to get through life. If it 
is wretched to find oneself poor in one s old age, it is 
still worse to be old without the solace of letters. So 
I will put up with the will of Heaven, and take up 
the burden of my old age, as Horace says, " neither 
bearing it ignobly nor without a lute." 

Literature and the duties of correspondence were 
by no means ^Eneas s sole employment. He was 
frequently sent on missions to various parts of the 
Continent. He learned to endure the heats of summer 
and the rigours of winter, riding along unsafe roads, 
and finding them always rough and sometimes well- 
nigh impassable. Occasionally he would find a wel 
come at rich abbeys and be sumptuously fed; often 
he had to put up at humble priories that could only 
provide scanty fare and were wretched shelters from 
wind and weather, or at worse inns, where the coat- 


of-arms, gaudily painted over the doorway, was 
scarcely matched by the dirty, plain-deal furniture 
within doors, but nevertheless was the token of 
distinguished patronage. Here he would be kept 
waiting for his meals until all possible guests were 
assembled, whittle what salt fish or ham he wanted 
with his own knife, take his soup or gruel with a 
wooden spoon, wipe his mouth with a coarse, beer- 
stained table-cloth, and be ushered by a surly land 
lord to an unclean bedchamber, and discover that he 
had to lie in foul linen with human and other com 
panions. No wonder that, when he became Pope, his 
cardinals complained that he was so little attentive 
to comfort that he would lodge himself and them in 
any miserable monastery or vile village. 




THE Emperor Albert died on October 27, 1439. 
The Teutonic tradition of an elected war-chief was 
preserved by the Empire, though there was a strong 
tendency to favour a single family. In theory, it was 
held that the Imperial office was too sacred to be 
transmitted by blood : practically, it suited the 
princes to confine the dignity to one House, because 
the strongest candidate was rarely to be found in it, 
and the reign of a weak prince undermined Imperial 
authority and so left them at liberty to fight one 
another. Nor was the practice quite inacceptable to 
the Papacy, for a feeble secular monarchy gave all 
the greater prestige to the triple crown. The electors 
were seven in number : the three Archbishops of 
Mainz, Trier, and Koln, who represented the Church, 
the King of Bohemia, the Dukes of Saxony and 
Brandenburg, and the Palgrave of the Ehine. Some 
times, in days of peril, a strong Kaiser was desirable, 
but there was no need to elect a strong successor to 
Albert ; there was nothing to fear from France, 
assailed as she was by both Burgundy and England ; 
Burgundy was fully occupied with France, and the 
chief desire of the electors was to reduce the Imperial 


power and be free to gain, each one, his own ends. 
They elected Frederick, the brother of the dead 
Emperor, the youthful head of the house of Hapsburg, 
a poor prince, whose revenue was vastly inferior 
to that of such states as Milan or Florence, over 
which he was supposed to exercise the Imperial 

Frederick was a big, well-built man in his twenty- 
fourth year : he had been better educated than 
Albert. He was a phlegmatic person, however, whose 
dull feelings and slow intellect were reflected in his 
stolid face. His expression never changes/ wrote 
^Eneas to the Imperial chancellor. 1 His nature was 
cold ; he disliked wine, lived chiefly on vegetables, 
and his private character was irreproachable ; but this 
was less due to moral conviction than to constitutional 
tepidity. He disliked the coarse jests in which his 
courtiers indulged, was retiring in society, seldom 
spoke, and listened with closed eyes. 2 He was un 
imaginative, wanting in enterprise, and had no genius 
for great affairs. But he was industrious, methodical, 
and attentive to detail, however unimportant, and he 
was careful to safeguard his purse. In fact, the 
burgher s habit would have become this dull, decorous 
person ; he would have made a staid and successful 
Niirnberg or Augsburg trader. Yet the apparent 
man, as he counts more or less among his fellows, is 
often grotesquely at variance with his own heart s 
desire. It is strange to find this prosaic, parsimonious 
monarch possessed by a passion for precious stones, 
and sparing no expense to acquire them. And he 

1 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Caspar. Schlick, December 28, 1443. 

2 Campanus, Job. Ant., JEp. t vi. 15. 


took an interest in e the most innocent of human 
occupations he was fond of the garden. 

The schism in the Church and the neutral attitude 
assumed by the German princes caused the summon 
ing of numerous ineffective diets. ^Eneas remarks 
that each diet was pregnant, for it gave birth to 
another/ Embassies from both Popes attended these 
Councils of the Empire, and ^Eneas, now become the 
secretary of Felix v., was sent to one held at Frank 
fort in 1442. This brought him into contact with the 
Bishop of Chiemsee, an ecclesiastic who prided himself 
on his appreciation of style, and the wily ^Eneas per 
ceived in this an opportunity to secure a patron. He 
sent a specimen of his own scholarship to the bishop 
in the form of a letter, and begged him to condescend 
to correct it. Of course there was nothing to correct ; 
on the contrary, the bishop was glad to get JEneas to 
write letters for him, and then he was wont to spoil 
them, saying that, if he did not do so, they would not 
be taken for his. 1 The Archbishop of Trier also took 
a great fancy to the Papal Secretary, and these patrons 
brought him and his writings under the notice of the 

There was a popular belief that the Caesars of 
ancient Rome had been wont to crown the illustrious 
poets of antiquity on the Capitol. Petrarch was 
crowned there, in the preceding century, by reason 
of this tradition ; the Emperor Sigismund had crowned 
Beccadelli at Siena ; and, at various times and places, 
similar honours had been bestowed by Italian rulers. 
The German monarch was quite willing to renew 
Imperial traditions and emulate his more civilised 

1 ^En. SiL, Proem, ad Comment, in Anton. Panormit. 

Ptnturicchio, Siena. 


neighbours. So a diploma set forth that We, being 
desirous of following in the footsteps of our pre 
decessors, who, as we believe, were wont to crown 
distinguished poets on the Capitol, after the manner 
of a triumph ... do now resolve to distinguish the 
unparalleled and illustrious ^Eneas Silvius, etc. 1 
The honour was conferred with great parade ; there 
would be eulogy, reading of his verses, disputation, 
and finally Caesar would put a laurel wreath on his 
brow. Henceforward, until he becomes a bishop, his 
letters bear the superscription ^Eneas Silvius, the 

The Bishop of Chiemsee asked him whether he 
would accept a post that was vacant in the Imperial 
Chancellery, which was quite distinct from the 
Austrian. Felix gave him much work and little 
reward ; even if he put in a word for a friend it fell 
on deaf ears. 2 He had spent himself freely in Felix s 
service and he felt aggrieved, for, at Rome, unmarried 
secretaries might expect a great ecclesiastical career. 
A few months later we find him writing to a friend, 
complaining that at Basel they are not in the habit 
of rewarding meritorious service, which causes a 
thinking man to question the validity of their claims. 3 
^Eneas was not the only one in whom a latent sus 
picion of their flag has been aroused to activity by 
non-recognition of their merits. But Felix was 
obliged to keep all benefices in his own hands, and 
the Council assented to this, for it was not always 

1 The diploma bears the date July 27, 1442, and is given in Chmela, J. 
Eegisters, vol. i. Appendix, No. xvii. 

2 Creighton, History of the Papacy, vol. ii. p. 243 and note 2. London, 

3 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad amicnm quemdam Basiliensem, October 1443. 



easy to meet the expenses of his Papacy. There can 
be little question that the impecuniosity of ^Eneas 
helped to open his eyes to the doubtful legitimacy 
of the Baselite Pope and how his authority was on 
the wane. But he would not leave Felix until he 
could do so honourably. He waited until Frederick 
reached Basel (November 1442), and then the Emperor 
asked the Pope for the service of his secretary, and 
Felix consented, solely because he was unwilling to 
offend so important a person. ^Eneas left Basel with 
the Emperor, but Felix expected him to act as his 
agent, and he did so for a few months. He must 
have been aware that he would find no easy bed at 
Vienna ; he knew the Cimmerian darkness that 
brooded over the land, how depressing it would prove 
to one brought up in the sunshine of the Italian 
renaissance to dwell deep in Germany; how repul 
sive would be the habits and manners of his future 
colleagues. But he found his own views about the 
Schism were far from being fixed convictions ; they 
were suffering alteration ; they did not justify him 
in suddenly turning over to Eugenius, and it would 
not have been decent to do so, even if he had been 
assured of a good reception. Caspar Schlick, the head 
of the Imperial Chancellery and the confidential 
adviser of Frederick, had a partiality for Italian 
scholars ; he had once been the guest of JSneas s aunt 
and had stood godfather to her son : something might 
be hoped from him. These were the reasons why he 
was unwilling to go straight over to Eugenius. x 
^Eneas was in the habit of setting down every tran 
sitory feeling, every stray thought that might visit 

1 He merely records the fact. See Pii II, Comment., 1. 1. 


him while he was wielding the pen, but there would 
seem to be rooted conviction in his complaint to his 
friend Giovanni Campisio. He regrets the waste of 
so much time at Basel : c There I found myself 
stranded/ he says, e and I knew not how to escape 
save by burrowing yet deeper into German earth. 1 
Even in the miseries of his new position, he could 
write how happy he felt to have escaped from the 
bickerings of priests and to be able to get some enjoy 
ment out of life. 2 

Caspar Schlick, to whom he looked for advance 
ment, was the capable son of an incapable father. 
He was of burgher descent, had acquired a knowledge 
of both civil and canon law, and combined these 
achievements with native shrewdness and marvellous 
business capacity. He was a rare reader of men, 
but he was incapable of entertaining great projects, 
and his conduct of public affairs was marred by a 
private vice he was avaricious. Often he failed to 
think broadly for his master, because he was thinking 
narrowly for himself; but his craft was consummate, 
his tact perfect, and so he was able to cover up his 
defects. In other respects his private character stood 
no higher nor any lower than that of the average 
man of his time ; he had not disdained to add to the 
other services he rendered the Emperor Sigismund 
by playing the part of Sir Pandar, and, could it have 
entered into his head to refuse, there were plenty of 
knightly courtiers who would have replaced him in 
that congenial office. He was brave ; he had fought 
with distinction against both Hussite and Turk ; he 

1 ^En. SiL, Ep. ad Johan. Campisium, 1445. 

2 Ibid., 1443. 


had acquired vast political experience, for he had 
been a member of many embassies, and Frederick 
was the third Caesar who chose him for confidant and 

The politics of the Imperial Court presented the 
familiar spectacle of two contending parties. The 
nobles in the Council represented the claims of their 
order; ecclesiastics and jurisconsults supported the 
demands of the burghers. The Kurfurst of Mainz 
was the nominal head of the Chancellery, but 
Schlick was, to all intents and purposes, Chancellor. 
Under him were the secretaries, and ^Eneas was 
now appointed of their number. They received 
no direct payment, nor were they allowed to ask 
for presents from those who had business with 
the Chancellery, but they were not prohibited from 
receiving them. 

It was a miserable life. In a letter to Sigismund, 
the young Duke of Austria, 1 ^Eneas complains, We 
are all squeezed together in the same abode ; many 
as we are, we eat and drink at the same table. Ants 
are not more crowded in their habitation than we in 
our single hall. And then he gives an illustration of 
discomfort which shows that a habit, still regarded 
by the modern Italian as laudable and necessary to 
health, bears the sanction of time : One cannot even 
spit comfortably, but one must needs soil the clothes 
of a neighbour. 2 There was much jealousy among the 
secretaries too, and, as one older than themselves, a 
foreigner and a protege of Schlick, ^Eneas experienced, 
to the full, the malice of which these young men were 

1 JEn. SiL, Ep. ad Sigismund. Ducem Austriae^ December 5, 1443. 

2 See also Ep. ad Johan. Freund, June 1, 1445. 


capable. They took advantage of Schlick s being away 
to give the former secretary of a Pope the lowest 
place at table and the worst of their bad beds ; they 
scoffed at him and flouted him at every turn. It 
was as well that he did not always understand their 
cacophonous jeers, for if they spoke German the 
sneer missed fire ; he never gave himself the pains 
to learn what was, at that time, an unlettered 
language. When Schlick was away on a mission at 
Niirnberg, his position became well-nigh unendurable. 
One Wilhelm Tag, a Bavarian, was left in charge of 
the Chancellery, and this man had a rooted antipathy 
to all Italians ; he treated ^Eneas so contemptuously 
that the Chancellor, on his return, put him under 
^Eneas, c so that all might learn how easily the 
humble may be exalted and the proud abased/ 1 
^Eneas wrote to a young friend, There is, believe 
me, no more hard-hearted camp than the court of a 
prince. There, envy, jealousy, calumny, hatred, 
enmity, infamy, insult and ceaseless torment take up 
their abode things that only patience can subdue. 2 
We are reminded of the celebrated outburst of 
Guarini in 11 Pastor Fido. ^Eneas was dainty in his 
food : he found the fare provided for him coarse and 
detestable. He was naturally refined and his taste 
had been cultivated : the brutal forms that vice took 
in Germany offended his Italian sensibilities. He 
could not suffer himself to degenerate, though he 
tells us that he believes it easier for an Italian to 
drop into such German ways as gobbling at table 
than for a German to acquire the finer manners of 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 

2 uEn. Sil., Ep. ad Caspar, de Fara, October 5, 1443. 


Italy. 1 However, he made the best of the situation, 
and doubtless enjoyed the painting of his miseries, 
for he does this with rare humour. 2 He was only 
admitted into the presence of Caesar at public 
audiences. The cook, the cupbearer, the falconer, 
the stable-boy, and the dog-keeper were passed on 
into the royal presence, but the scholar, though poet- 
laureate, was told by the porter to be about his own 
business. 3 Our only concern is to curry favour with 
the great, and hold on to it/ he writes. If men were 
contented to be humble in station, and were as eager 
after their soul s welfare, few would be found in 
dulging in such a scramble. He was conscious, at 
least, of the possibility of a nobler kind of life than 
the pursuit of court-favour. 

If he breathed an atmosphere of insult and intrigue 
within doors, he had to put up with equally coarse 
manners without, and submit to the scorn of an 
arrogant nobility. No one seems to have had very 
much polish of manner or culture of intellect to 
commend him. He tells us how Heinrich, Count of 
Goriz, who was the father of two little sons by a 
noble and virtuous Hungarian lady, was wont to 
awaken them from deep sleep in the middle of the 
night, and ask them if they were not thirsty. Then 
he would get out of bed and force them to drink 
wine. The poor children, dead asleep, might murmur 
and spew it out of their mouths, whereupon the father 
would turn to his spouse in high disgust and dudgeon 
and shout, These brats be none of mine, strumpet ; 

1 J&n. Sil., De liberor. educ. apud Opera quce extant omnia. Basileae, 
1551. fol. 965 et seq. 

2 Id., Tractatus de Curialium miseriis. 

3 Id., Pentalogus. 


no sons of mine would sleep the whole night through 
without drinking. 1 Here, even if great folk had 
patronised him, was no society for the cultured Italian 
scholar ; one, moreover, who, in spite of his own noble 
birth, had the true democratic feeling of an Italian. 
In his novel De Duobus Amantibus, as well as in his 
History of Bohemia (chap, ii.), he speaks with scorn 
of mere rank, and describes the ignoble means by 
which it has usually been obtained. The barons had 
no other interests than hunting and fishing. 2 Of 
certain princes, he remarks that such people rejoice 
in dogs and horses, and will be remembered when 
they depart this life just as much as their animals. 
He found little to commend in the professors and 
students at the University of Vienna. c The students/ 
he says, give themselves over to pleasure ; they are 
gluttons and wine-bibbers ; they prowl the streets 
at night and attack citizens ; their minds are wholly 
taken up with light women/ 3 He tells us of a 
Leipzig student who was held in high honour by his 
fellows, for he had outdrunk fifty of them, and so 
bore the palm. For there is a custom at the gather 
ings of the Saxons to give the place of honour to 
those who can swill the most, and they call the 
pastime a drinking match. 4 He describes Neustadt 
as a city of monks and Jews ; Styria, Carinthia, and 
Carniola are inhabited by barbarians. 5 

He yearned to return to his native Italy. It set 

1 ^n. Silvius, Comment, in Anton. Panorm., i. 

2 Id., Ep. ad Johan. Campisium, July 22, 1444. 

3 Id., Ep. 165., Opera quce extant omnia. Basileae, 1551. fol. 719. 

4 Id., Comment, in Anton. Panorm., ii. 

5 Id., Ep. ad Caspar Schlick, March 1444; ad Johan. Peregallum, 
April 16, 1444. 


his pulses beating to see the Italian embassies arrive 
and hear the soft, free flow of his native tongue. He 
tried to reconcile himself to his fate. He is better off, 
he says, dwelling with foreigners in plenty than in 
indigence at home. 1 But waves of severe home 
sickness swept over his soul, and, at times, almost 
overwhelmed him. There is nothing I have dreaded 
more/ he writes, than to lay my bones in foreign 
soil, though where they lie does not affect our 
destination to heaven or hell. But so it is, I know 
not why, death would come with less of bitterness 
if I were supported by the arms of brothers, sisters, 
children, and grandchildren. And is close friendship 
so readily formed here as at home ? Elsewhere, I 
find no intimacy possible that can be so sweet and 
enduring/ 2 And, later on, when his prospects had 
improved, he writes, When shall I return to my 
native land ? Oh, that it could be this year ! I am 
on my travels. But whither? In Germany. But 
to what part ? To the Hungarian frontier. Here 
am I established ; here must I live and die, without 
relatives or friends or acquaintances or the friendly 
talk of yourself and others. Oh, that I had never 
seen Basel ; then had I died in the land that is home, 
and lain in the bosom of my progenitors. A crust 
of bread had been more grateful there than fat-living 
here. I may say that I am dead already. My life is 
no better than that of Naso, when he dwelt at Tomi, in 
banishment. I admit that I shall attain a satisfactory 
position in the future ; my services are recognised. 
But what is the good of it without companionship ? 

1 ^En. Silvii, Ep. ad HieronymiLm Senensem, July 1443. 

2 Id., Ep. ad Julianum Card. S. Angdo, May 28, 1444. 


Have I then no comrades ? Well, truly there are 
good, sincere folk enough, but they do not take up 
their abode with me among those things of the mind 
that I care for. * 

./Eneas was prudent and patient. He was an 
eminently companionable man. He spoke all men 
fair ; and the world usually returns us our own treat 
ment of it. When he became Pope, he referred to 
the time as one when he copied the much abused 
ass that drooped his ears, awaiting the moment when 
his back might be released from its heavy burden. 2 
He found it difficult to ingratiate himself with one 
man, a certain John Gers, * a disagreeable person of 
somewhat malign nature so he describes him. 3 Gers 
was a domestic tyrant, but showed resentment when 
^Eneas referred to his wife, a plain, stupid woman, 
as more remarkable for her good disposition than for 
her other endowments. He got on very well with 
a certain Michael von Fiillendorf, a good-natured 
Swabian, addicted to women and wine ; 4 but ^Eneas 
shocked this virtuous gentleman and others by the 
freedom of a comedy which he wrote in the style of 
the Latin dramatists. What learning his fellow- 
secretaries possessed was scholastic, not humanistic ; 
and, whatever we do, a certain code of propriety must 
be preserved. 

The secretary did not neglect to seek the favour of 
his chief. He took no pains to disguise his motives. 
He told him that a useful friend is more to be sought 

1 JEn. Sil., Ep. ad Johan. Campisium, end of August or beginning of 
September 1445. 

2 Pii II. Comment., 1.1. 3 Ibid. 

4 JEin. Sil., Ep. ad Johannem Gers, September 22 and Norember 3, 


than a merely honest one ; for such friendship is of 
value nowadays ; the stoic may prate in his privation 
about austere virtue ; but that doctrine has been at a 
discount this long while/ l ( We must deal with men 
as they are judgements of which Schlick would 
heartily approve. .Eneas never failed to get the 
good-will of any one to whom he paid court. He 
measured his man with almost unerring accuracy, said 
precisely what would take him, and presented that 
side of his complex character that would be most 
likely to please. Schlick admitted him to his table 
and gave him his confidence. 2 

The frequent journeys to Graz and other places, 
though wild and barbarous races inhabited them, 3 
were a source of pleasure to one who delighted in 
travel and loved to see everything and record what 
he saw. He rejoiced to be in the country. When he 
became Pope, he spoke of himself as a lover of woods 
and one eager for all fresh experience. 4 When 
pestilence once drove Frederick to Briick, .Eneas 
found a great charm in scenery so different from that 
of his Italy. Few men have found greater kinship 
with Nature in her many attires and in all her 
changing moods than he. He wrote of Briick as a 
place confronting two sister-streams that unite there, 
and then flow on as one to the Piave. Here are held 
fairs at Martinmas that last fully eight days, and I 
and the rest, being set at liberty, sometimes go and 

1 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Caspar Schlick, November 1, 1443. 

2 Ibid., December 28, 1443. 

3 ^En. Sil., Ep. ad Johan. Peregallum. 

4 Silvarum amator et varii vivendi cupidus, a phrase whereon Campano 
played in a metrical pun : 

Quod placeant silvae et magnum lustraverit orbem 
Silvius hac genuit couditione Pater. 


look at the wares, and sometimes take a walk into the 
country. There, with no little refreshment of soul, 
you may mark the sunlight smiling on the mountain- 
slope, the mystery of the forest, and the clearness and 
purity of the stream. 1 

^Eneas never forgot to keep a smiling face and a 
pleasant tongue for friend and foe, rich and poor, and, 
at last, his imperturbable good-humour and kindliness 
prevailed over his colleagues. They were compelled 
to respect him and even give him their affection. But 
he did not remain contented with his position ; he 
had not yet found so wide a field as his powers 
needed ; he sought greater independence than an 
income derived from casual largesse might grant. 
He would not abandon all hope concerning the lost 
provostship at Milan ; he was very persistent in his 
efforts to recover it, and he persuaded the Emperor 
to use his influence with Visconti. It was soon after 
he entered the service of the German Caesar that he 
wrote the letter to the Duke of Milan, of which a 
sentence has already been given an epistle in which 
the fawning servility then required of the true 
courtier is relieved by a touch of ironical humour. 
A certain note of independence, even, may be read 
between the lines of an epistle that is formally ob 
sequious : the letter hints that ^Eneas can prove 
quite as serviceable to the duke as the duke to him. 
It runs : If I were indeed dead, as my foes have told 
your Highness, I should hardly be writing now, 
unless by a miracle. But, by the indulgence of 
Heaven, I am become secretary to the Most Serene 
King of the Romans, a position which, if not satis- 

Sil., Ep. ad Johan. Lauterbach, November 13, 1444. 


factory in all respects, may enable me to do honour 
to Your Excellency. But, though they have killed 
me, I may yet contrive to be even more vitally ser 
viceable to your High Honour than a mere living 
person. I deserve better things, for, that the right 
lies with me cannot be disputed, and I could be 
exceedingly useful to you. Wherefore, I beseech 
your Clemency to turn the matter over and restore 
my office at S. Lorenzo to me, that I may be bound 
hand and foot to your Honour in a position that I 
covet. If you should do so you would attach not 
myself alone, but would gratify the king, who is 
writing on my behalf. However, whether you enter 
tain my appeal or no, I am always at your service, 
but I shall be the more so if I obtain it. 

He tried to ingratiate himself with Sigismund, the 
youthful Duke of Austria. He hoped to find a 
Maecenas in Schlick, and wrote him letters full of 
mellifluous adaptations of classical poetry. I would 
haunt a cool grove with the Muses/ he says. I am 
out of place herding with the crowd . . . then should 
my name be not all forgotten by posterity, and most 
surely so if thou befriend me, O my Caspar, in whose 
command over my life I cherish pride. 

Schlick was no Maecenas ; pelf and power were his 
ambition, and he only toyed with the Muses. JEneas 
saw that it would only be by the exhibition of busi 
ness ability and industry that he could hope to win 
the Chancellor s favour; nor was he deceived/ he 
tells us. 1 Convinced of his diplomatic skill, Caspar 
employed ^Eneas in an attempt to secure the rich 
bishopric of Freising for Heinrich Schlick, his brother. 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 


Nicodemus, in whose service the secretary had been 
during early days at Basel, was dead, and so a bene 
fice of unusual value had become vacant. A few 
months after leaving Basel, ^Eneas wrote more than 
one appeal to D Allemand, Cardinal of Aries, who 
still remained President of the Council, setting forth 
the merits of Heinrich (who was really a worthy and 
excellent man). Of course Frederick had interested 
himself in the success of his Chancellor s brother. I 
had thought so powerful a prince would have received 
some attention so ^Eneas wrote. However, this 
expectation was disappointed ; the petition met with 
flat refusal. Meanwhile the chapter, whether law 
fully or unlawfully, elected the Cardinal of St. Martin, 
who is on his way to you for confirmation. Once 
again His Imperial Dignity writes you, desiring his 
suspension, and asking you to defer his confirmation. 
I, also, would urge and entreat you, for the welfare of 
the Council, not to trifle with the request. For surely 
it were wise to render such a Prince favourable to 
yourself and the Council, he being one to whom all 
eyes are turned, one that neither gifts nor entreaties 
can persuade to injustice. Heaping annoyance on 
annoyance will not bend His Clemency from his 
course. Remember, too, the great influence that 
Caspar, his Chancellor, has over him, and that, if you 
gain his favour, you have little to fear from other 
people. 1 

Now this Cardinal St. Martin was a natural son of 
Duke John of Bavaria-Munich ; he had declared for 
Felix, was a personal friend of the all-powerful 
D Allemand, had influenced his brother Albert, the 

1 See his two Epistles to D Allemand of September and October 1443. 


reigning duke, in favour of the Anti-Pope, and had 
written against the neutrality of Germany. The 
Council still refused the Emperor s request, and stood 
by St. Martin, while Eugenius supported Heinrich 
Schlick. This refusal certainly prejudiced Frederick 
and Caspar in favour of the legitimate Pope, and it 
did not incline ^Eneas to remain in close sympathy 
with Felix, for he deemed his action in this matter 
of a piece with the failure of the Baselites to fulfil 
their promises to himself. He writes to a friend, 
The last words you said to me at Basel were that 
the Holy Pontiff, Felix, would secure me a benefice, 
whether I were there or away, and you assured me 
that you would work to that end ; but nothing has 
followed, although I have been of service to our Holy 
Pontiff with His Majesty the Emperor, and may 
be so constantly. 1 Five months later he wrote to 
his friend Campisio, who was in Eugenius s service, 
* Deeds are stronger than promises. The Chancellor 
is bound, hand and foot, to acknowledge this favour, 
and, unless I mistake, he will do so. You may 
persuade the cardinals of this. 2 Men did not set 
boundaries between the spiritual and temporal king 
doms in the fifteenth century. Both made one 
single world of God. We may, perhaps, be con 
fident that the more enlightened churches of to-day 
are free from such influences and intrigues of earth. 

There can be little doubt that ^Eneas had seen and 
experienced much at Basel that gave him small con 
fidence in Felix. So far, he was a self-seeker, even 
as most men were self-seekers in this miserable schism, 

1 October 1443. Kunde fur (Ester Geschichtsquellcn, xvi. 345. 

2 JEn. Sil, Ep. ad Cwmpisium, February 18, 1444. 


one unwilling to risk his own interests, in a measure a 
disappointed man. There was no question of ecclesias 
tical reform now, either with Eugenius or with Felix 
and the Council ; each of the rival Popes was sup 
ported by a party in Europe whose loyalty sprang 
from political cleavage and not at all from ecclesias 
tical conviction. The nations and their princes used 
the Church to political and even to personal ends. 
^Eneas was no enthusiast ; he had suffered the sting 
of no divine gadfly ; he was not the man to suffer 
deep agony in spiritual wrestlings for truth, to delve 
in search of it with painful labour, or make for it 
through blood and tears. He was a man of the world, 
and knew that the enthusiast, proud of possessing 
absolute truth, often hugs a false jewel, a one-sided 
fallacy, to his bosom. He was keenly alert to every 
side of a question, and he had the defects usually 
attendant on this quality. His character was open 
to so many influences, he was tugged at by so many 
forces in so many different directions, that it was not 
possible for him to become quite single-minded or the 
devotee of a solitary idea. For many reasons, both 
personal and impersonal, his way was by no means 
clear to him. No one had a stronger sense of duty 
that was imposed on him ; as a servant, he fulfilled 
the obligations of a servant loyally. We shall see, 
however, that his mind was not at peace concerning 
the Church : still less was he at peace with himself. 
Diplomatic duties often imposed caution, but his 
letters to his friends are so unrestrained, so entirely 
without arriere pensee, that the man s soul is exposed 
there, naked, to our view. It is true that he is so 
sympathetic that he cannot help writing a different sort 


of letter to each different sort of man. The discern 
ing eye can read what manner of man the recipient 
is more readily than the character of the writer. 
Few folk are aware of how complex the nature of 
the simplest man is ; most are under the illusion that 
they themselves are quite single-minded ; they are 
incapable of understanding a many-sided character, 
and think that it cannot be ingenuous and sincere. 
Now, these easy, familiar letters have little that 
is disingenuous about them ; there are hardly any 
attempts at self-concealment, and such are quite 
transparent ; ^Eneas s essential honesty shines forth in 
them, and he speaks so openly of his own faults and 
vices that they stand out in very high relief. The 
absence of any trace of subterfuge produces a posi 
tively deceptive effect, and so ^Eneas has come to 
be misjudged by scholars incapable of understanding 
that complexity may be combined with candour. 
And they have laid particular stress on chance words. 
But isolated sentiments in the utterances of a man 
of complex character must be taken in relation to the 
whole mass. 

Let us, with the warning not to be too much 
influenced by solitary passages, see what he says 
at this period concerning his relation to the Schism. 
On leaving Basel, he wrote to Guidoforto, a doctor 
in both laws, concerning his claim to the provostship 
and the relations in which he stood to the Duke of 
Milan. There is a remarkable sentence in this letter 
which shows that he is seriously perturbed. I 
cannot speak of obedience in other matters, since I 
follow the king, who is entirely neutral, though 
I might write more if it were prudent. To the Arch- 


bishop of Milan he wrote, December 5, 1442 : * Best 
of Farthers, write me in such wise that I may come 
out from among the indifferent and be made whole, 
For I have an inquiring spirit, when my words and 
deeds, done according to the prince s will, do not put 
it out of the question (for I wish to limit myself to 
his intention). At Vienna he came across Cesarini 
and Carvajal again. Eugenius had sent them, as his 
legates, to advance the claims of Ladislas, King of 
Poland, whom the nobles of Hungary had chosen to 
be their king, while Frederick supported the legiti 
mate pretensions of his ward, also named Ladislas, 
who was the son of his dead brother Albert. Cesarini 
and Carvajal stayed more than once at Vienna. 
Felix also sent legates, but Cesarini and Carvajal 
were the better diplomatists, as we can see from a 
letter that ^Eneas wrote to D Allemand : c The Car 
dinal of Aquileia is seriously ill, nor do so many incline 
to him as to Cardinal Julian, nor is Aquileia such 
a strong man as Carvajal/ 1 Both Cesarini and 
Carvajal paid the secretary great attention. He 
came into close contact and had much serious con 
verse with them, and the personalities of both men 
impressed him deeply. To this intercourse, in large 
measure, he attributed his conversion to the side of 
Eugenius. But he held back. If you perceive, you 
should act according to your perception/ Cesarini 
told him. When ./Eneas became Pope he wrote : 
* John Carvajal was very active. He was Apostolic 
Envoy, a Spaniard by birth, who, when Julian died, 
succeeded him in the Cardinalate. With him we 
had many a friendly dispute. Indeed, not a single 

1 (Ester. Geschichtsquellen, xvi. 344. 



learned person came to the Court, but we fell to 
and debated these matters. Then Caesar summoned 
a diet at Niirnberg, with a view to union in the 
Church, and decreed that the Pontiff should be ex 
horted to assemble a new Council at Constance and 
send a legate, and, moreover, induce the Baselites 
to transfer themselves thither, so as to give peace 
to the Church. They were the first to refuse. 
Learning this, Thomas Assalbach, a distinguished 
German theologian, said, " Now, I know that the 
Baselites are not directed by the Holy Spirit, seeing 
that they shrink from obeying such a reasonable 
command of the Emperor." And so said many other 
learned and unquestionably holy men. 1 

But JEneas hesitated for a long time. He wrote 
to Carvajal, pointing out difficulties that beset the 
problem : After my withdrawl from Basel, I kept 
silence on ecclesiastical matters, for I observed that 
the folk there were swayed by human passion, and 
were not under the divine guidance. You urge me 
to speak right out, and imitate u^Eneas in harness, 
but I prefer to maintain my silence, because my 
opinion would be satisfactory to no party, and is 
indeed by no means satisfactory to myself. But, 
since you wish me to declare myself, I am ready, 
though you will hear what you do not wish. . . . 
Not those are worthiest who hold fast to their 
dignities, but those who are ready to lay them aside. 
. . . You are a forbearing man. I want to open my 
heart to you. For, if one is to speak at all, let him 
speak right out. So, here am I, ^Eneas in panoply : 
that is how I bear myself. He shall be my Anchises 
1 Bull of Retractation in Fea, loc. cit. 


whom the Universal Church shall declare. But, so 
long as Germany, which is the greater part of the 
Christian world, remains uncertain, I also, am doubt 
ful. I incline mine ear, awaiting unanimity ; nor 
do I trust my own judgement in matters of faith. 
Farewell. l 

The Schism seriously disturbed him now, and he 
was desirous of seeing ecclesiastical peace restored, 
no matter by what means. To the Bishop of Chiem- 
see he wrote : If I were Caesar, I would call on all 
the princes to send envoys to some appointed place 
and arrange the affairs of the Church. . . . For people 
and priesthood would follow the princes. If it might 
not be called a Counci], it is the thing, not the name, 
we care for. To end the schism is all important : call 
it what you please, but let it have consequences/ 2 
And, about this time, he wrote the Pentalogus, 
wherein Frederick, the bishops, Nicodemus of Frei- 
sing and Sylvester of Chiemsee, and Caspar Schlick 
discuss the affairs of the Church. The work presents 
various views fairly and exhaustively, shows an earnest 
desire for union, and contains noble and eloquent 
digressions, and some wise observations of truly 
statesmanlike quality. Of such is a passage wherein 
he tells us how great deeds and great virtues can 
only be duly set forth by letters, and thus remain 
permanent memorials and examples for mankind. 
Letters as much as arms hold an Empire together. 
And, would you know why the Papacy surpasseth 
the Empire so much in these latter days? It is 
chiefly because of its superior discipline in literature. 

1 uEn. Sil., Ep. ad Johan. Carvajal, October 23, 1443. 
3 Id., Ep. ad Sylvestr. episcopum, December 1443. 


For the Imperial Power was always stronger in mere 
arms than the Papal. As wisdom in letters exalts 
the Roman Pontiff, so Imperial ignorance debases the 
Empire. A people is subject to two great powers 
that keep them in restraint. They are culture and 
the force of arms. Those are perfect, O my King, 
who unite civil power with mental cultivation. They 
may behold their labours rewarded. For they have 
acquired knowledge of what is for the public weal ; 
they possess themselves, too, and are not readily 
turned aside from wise counsels. 

Early in 1444, .Eneas received a letter from his 
old friend Noceto, who was in the employment of 
Eugenius, and who, finding himself in pressing need, 
begged his former companion to exercise his influ 
ence at Court, and work for Eugenius, for he, No 
ceto, would stand better with the Pope if his friend 
.Eneas would come round to his side. c You urge 
me to favour your party on your account, if for no 
other reason, .Eneas replied ; it is an adjuration of 
almost compulsive force. But you must learn that I 
serve a prince who belongs to no party ; whose sole 
aim is union. Nor, if what is in the royal mind 
prove successful, will you be in any way worse off, 
but, as I think, far better provided for; for, if God 
shall give union, the Curia and its officials will be 
well to do, and both you and I will derive profit from 
it. But I know not when that will come. Mean 
while, I try to stand well with the king. I obey 
him ; I follow him ; his desire is mine. I shall oppose 
him in nothing that does not directly affect myself. 
I am a person of small importance now, and, if I did 
otherwise, I should fall to the ground and come to 


nought. 1 The reader must infer from this letter 
that Frederick was already inclining favourably 
towards Eugenius. Four months later ^Eneas wrote 
to Cesarini : It will be difficult to get out of this 
neutrality, because so many find it profitable. Few 
follow truth ; almost everybody seeks his own per 
sonal advantage. This new doctrine of neutrality is 
welcome precisely because no one can be deprived of 
what he holds, whether he has come by it squarely or 
not. And the ordinaries get what benefices they 
desire. Believe me, it is no easy matter to tear his 
prey from the fangs of a wolf. But, so far as I can 
see, all Christian peoples are for Eugenius. Germany 
is so divided that I would fain see union there, because 
I believe the nation is not influenced by fear, but by 
its own free decision. 

^Eneas means that there is no external political 
pressure there : the country is not like France or 
Aragon or an Italian State, forced into partisanship 
by the exigencies of foreign politics. Within the 
German State, there existed, of course, the antagonism 
of the Emperor and his feudatories, and this was the 
chief and final determinant of Frederick s return to 
Eugenius s obedience. Still, it was a free struggle in 
the sense that Germany was independent of other 
interests than those of its own conflicting forces. 
And there were many earnest and conscientious men 
in Germany, men desirous of nothing better than the 
Church s welfare, and they were not without in 
fluence in the counsels of the princes. Nor was 
Frederick himself inaccessible to honest conviction. 

He continues : Whithersoever the king and 

1 uEn. Sil., Ep. ad Petrum de Noxeto, January 16, 1444. 


electors incline, I and my dependants will follow, nor 
have I greater trust in my own judgement than in 
that of others. I am impelled to write this, or not 
at all, and, henceforth, I must be excused if I main 
tain silence. Farewell, and make use of me at your 
pleasure/ l In the same year he wrote to his old 
master Capranica to the effect that he would gladly 
come to the feet of Eugenius, and is endeavouring to 
do so as far as his feebleness will allow. 2 

One observes in these letters a gathering earnest 
ness, an increased anxiety for the welfare of the Church, 
a gradual and sincere change of view. But here is a 
man naturally prudent, one taught caution by a large 
experience of the world and by diplomatic training ; 
he will not let zeal run away with him ; he is neither 
a saint nor a theologian, he will not wreck his career 
for a conviction that may be mistaken, and he mis 
trusts his own judgement in matters of religion. Shall 
a man take up arms and confront death in a barren 
cause ? he asks in his book, Concerning the World. 
The safest thing is to abide by a friend s judgement/ 
he wrote elsewhere. 3 Evidence of an increased moral 
earnestness is also present. In the autumn of 1444 
he urges his friend, John Thuscon, to purchase a Bible. 
I joyfully resist worldly allurements/ he writes, * and 
would serve God alone, and, since I have ever sought 
after knowledge, I know not how I can render Him 
more pleasing service than as a man of letters/ 4 And 
a benefice, though it might involve a vow hard to 
keep, would not be unacceptable, nor, in those days 

1 ^En. Sil., Ep. ad Julian Card., May 1444. 

2 Voigt, Die Briefe des ^Eneas Sylvius, Ep. Ixxxiii., 8. 352. 

3 ^En. Sil., Comment in Anton. Panorm., 1. 4. 

4 Ep. ad Johan. Thuscon, October 31, 1444. 


of pluralism, would it interfere with his continuance 
in the king s service. He would be set free from his 
disagreeable surroundings in the Chancellery ; and so 
he makes himself agreeable, as he so well knew how, 
to more than one possible patron. His religious zeal 
has by no means subjugated self; still, he is more in 
earnest for higher ends. And yet it is precisely in 
these years of deepening character that we are 
astounded at a remarkable outburst of erotic senti 
ments, an amazing rebellion of the natural man. What 
is the explanation of this strange phenomenon ? In 
order to find an answer we must pass his literary 
productions, at this period, in review. 

It can be hardly necessary to remind the reader 
that sexual irregularity in the fifteenth century must 
not be judged according to the standard of the 
twentieth century as accepted by middle-class Pro 
testants. It was lax, and transgressions were by no 
means anxiously concealed. We have seen how almost 
universal concubinage was among the clergy. The 
morals observed in a Wiltshire village to-day are a 
pale survival of what was general throughout Europe 
in the Middle Ages. In Italy, and, to a less extent, 
in other countries, families strengthened themselves 
by the welcome support of vigorous bastards. The 
ablest man succeeded to an Italian throne whether 
he were of legitimate birth or not. During more 
than a hundred years all the rulers at Ferrara were 
bastards. Chastity was regarded as the ultimate 
proof of extreme sanctity. The severe Dante placed 
sinful lovers in that circle of transgressors which was 
the remotest from the centre of hell and in the region 
of purgation which lay nearest to the Earthly Paradise. 


Towards the close of his first year at the Chan 
cellery, we find ^Eneas (who, if he had no great ad 
miration for German princes, liked to stand well with 
them) writing a letter to Sigismund, Duke of Austria, 
a lad of seventeen, urging him to bend his mind to 
letters and wisdom, and warning him against flatterers 
and the temptations that beset a prince. 1 Eight days 
later, he sent him a novel concerning the loves of 
Hannibal, Duke of Numidia, and that fairest of virgins, 
Lucretia, the daughter of the King of Epirus. It was 
obviously intended to amuse the young prince, but a 
letter accompanied it, saying that it might enable 
him to effect the conquest of a young lady with whom 
he was in love. One can hardly suppose that the girl, 
if a German, would understand the Latin tongue ; the 
apology for the novel is obviously a fiction, and the 
tale itself was intended to gain the young duke s ear 
and favour. You importune me with some bashful- 
ness thus runs the accompanying letter to write 
you such words of love as will persuade a young girl, 
whom you court, to yield to you. Another man might 
deny the request, fearing to corrupt you. But I 
accede, for I know life. If a man does not fall in love 
in youth, he is doomed to prove himself an old fool 
later on, and become a public butt at a time when 
love is out of place. I know, too, the power of love 
to excite virtues that lie dormant in youth. One 
man, in order to please his lady, will put forth his 
prowess in arms ; another, in letters. For, since 
reputation attaches to merit, the lad in love develops 
his powers to be worthy in his mistress eyes. Very 
likely you will find your prize less valuable than you 

1 JEiU. Sil., Ep. ad Sigismundum^ Ducem Austriae, December 5, 1443. 


think ; but, with a little advice, it may be a means 
whereby you may obtain some excellence. Youths 
must not be held too tight, or they become degenerate 
and listless ; pranks must be allowed to them ; they 
need a slack rein that they may pleasure heart and 
soul, distinguish good from evil, and learn the crafty 
ways of the world and how to escape them. Hence I 
have complied with your request, and send you what 
was demanded, on condition that you do not neglect 
the study of letters for love. See to it that, as the 
bee gathers honey from flowers, so you disentangle 
the virtues of the goddess of love from her blandish 
ments. 1 As Pope, Pius had to pay heavily for this 
letter. Probably it was written in this way : Sigis- 
mund was pursuing the usual diversions of a youthful 
prince, and ^Eneas as a man of the world took the 
facts as they were, made the best of them, and followed 
up his previous letter on the cultivation of the mind, 
by an attempt to steer the young prince as well as he 
could. He will give him a hint that may be useful 
and that yet will not alienate a possible patron. But 
it may have been written at some moment when he 
took an attitude of defiance and bravado towards 
those scruples concerning sexual relations which we 
shall find were assailing him now that the question 
of an ecclesiastical career was pressingly before him. 
Anyhow, one should note, in this epistle, a debased 
flavour of that doctrine of Love the Regenerator, which, 
coming into Italy from Provence, dominated Italian 
literature a doctrine found in its highest spirituality 
in the writings of Dante, and revived, in the sixteenth 
century, as the ridiculous courtly service of Love. 

Sil., Ep. ad Sigismundum, Ducem Austriae, December 13, 1443. 


In six months time, we find him seeking to please 
Schlick with the novel De Duobus Amantibus, a 
work that has been translated into most European 
languages. Under the guise of the loves of Euryalus 
and Lucretia, certain passages between the Chancellor 
and a fair wedded-lady of Siena are invested with 
literary charm. ^Eneas took Boccaccio for his model, 
and he indulged in a fair measure of the licence of 
that master. The novel is one of passion and in 
trigue. The passion is the quick, hot fire of Italian 
youth ; the atmosphere that which Romeo and Juliet 
breathed, where sensuous emotion ripens in a night. 
The intrigue is managed with a skill that reminds 
one of the antique dramatists, and foreshadows Pietro 
Aretino and Moliere. The situations often have the 
fun of farce ; the conversations are full of genuine 
humour ; the construction is less strong, forceful and 
condensed than that of Boccaccio s tragic tales, but 
there are graceful, eloquent, and charming passages. 
The delightful inconsequence of the woman in love 
is wonderfully drawn the battle in her breast when 
the tongue denies the love that fills her heart. 
^Eneas would appear, from his writings, to have held 
no very exalted notion of womankind. They are 
frivolous, feeble, faint-hearted creatures, he wrote. 1 
He read the hearts of Glycerium and Philorcium 
of the inn where he took his wine, and was acquainted 
with all the workings in the bosom of a coquette. 
It was, however, fashionable to repeat Quid femina 
levius, and imitate the gibes of the Classics. He 
used ancient attacks on women to enforce the 
doctrine of continence. But he showed great affec- 

1 ^En. Silvius, Ep. xcix., p. 588. Ed. Basileae. 


tion for his mother and sisters, and he held the 
Mother of Our Lord in special veneration, composing 
hymns in her honour, making frequent pilgrimages 
to her shrines, loading them with gifts, and relying 
on her protection. 1 He appreciated the comparative 
freedom accorded to the German woman, and remarks 
that * it is a mistake, widespread in Italy, to safeguard 
woman as a miser does his gold. In my judgement 
this does more harm than good, for all women want 
a thing only the more if it is denied to them. Their 
nature is such that what you want, they do not desire, 
and what you do not incline to is precisely what they 
hanker after/ 2 

Noceto asked his advice as to whether he should 
marry his mistress who had borne him several 
children. ^Eneas has learned that all women are not 
angels, and furnishes precisely the argument that 
would be likely to prevail with Noceto. I have 
had experience/ he replies, and, if I were going to 
marry, I should choose a mate that I knew all 
about. I speak quite frankly with you. 8 

About this time he wrote Chrisis, a comedy in the 
style of Terence. It has perished, but we may take 
it that it would serve us as another of the many 

1 Pii II. Opera Omn. Basileae, 1551, p. 964. See also Pii II. Com- 
mentarii Eerum Memorabilium Joanne Gobellino jamdiu compositi. 
Francofurti, 1614, pp. 131, 360. 

2 Mu. Silvius, De Duobus Amantibus. By the time that tineas had 
come to occupy the Apostolic Chair, the novel was copied and recopied, and 
so widely spread throughout Europe that he found it impossible to suppress 
it. He deemed it necessary to urge, as some excuse for the work, that it 
contains a moral lesson, and he regrets that men lay emphasis on the 
indelicacy of the story and neglect what they might profit by (see Epistle 
395, ed. Basel). He would be a close and attentive reader who should 
easily glean a moral from a tale the sole object of which was to amuse. 

3 ^En. Sil., Ep. ad Petrum de Noxcto, January 16, 1444. 


illustrations we possess of the corrupting effect of the 
baser kinds of Latin literature on the Humanists. 
Many men in the Middle Ages and Renaissance wrote 
lascivious works. Most of them were so ingenuous as 
to do so without a blush : a few append a moral tag 
to serve as an excuse. ^Eneas is at strange pains to 
defend the irregularities of his life and writings. 
He tells one friend that he who has not been singed 
by the fires of love is a stone or a beast. l Who at 
thirty, with half his life gone, is without reproach ? 
he asks of another. I cast love from me that has 
brought me into a thousand troubles. 2 By the 
undying gods, what can be sharper, crueller, and more 
unmanly than to separate lovers? It gives me no 
surprise that a man burns for a maid, and seeks to 
perpetuate his kind. It is a manly passion, implanted 
by Nature. If there be a man who has never loved 
a woman nor felt the sting of attraction, he is either 
a god or a beast. One may be fond of dogs or jewels 
or wealth, and no disgrace attaches. Where lies the 
shame if one loves a woman, the highest of created 
beings. 3 It is quite exceptional to find an Italian 
of his period conscious of any such shame or seeking 
any such defence. For the hypocrisy of northern 
nations was no characteristic of the Italian, whatever 
his other vices may have been. 

Somewhat earlier than these letters Silvio Picco- 
lomini the elder received what is, perhaps, the most 
astounding epistle father ever received from son. 
While at Strassburg, on a mission of the Council, 

1 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Marianum Socinum, July 3, 1444. 

2 Id., Ep. ad Caspar Schlick, July 3, 1444. 

3 Id., Ep. ad Johan. Campisium, June 1, 1445. 


met a British (or Breton ?) woman named 
Elizabeth. Probably she was of our own race, for 
he had a great admiration for fair women, and this 
young person, lively and able to speak Italian (for 
she had been in Italy), took his fancy. She bore 
him a son, that first saw the light at Florence, and 
./Eneas wrote to his father, asking him to receive the 
child, according to the wont of Italian families of 
the period. The letter is adduced by Voigt as one 
of the evidences of a corrupt nature. That it is 
pervaded by a certain tone of bravado may readily 
be granted : the deep ground of this we hope pre 
sently to make clear. ^Eneas, denied the joy and 
affectionate intercourse of family life by his poverty 
and position, makes appeal to the feelings natural to 
an aged man who has become a grandfather. Silvio 
would appear to have been somewhat of a rake in 
the days when he was a soldier in Lombardy, and 
-$Jneas s acquaintance with human nature had taught 
him that such men are apt to take a pride in the 
memories of their own unbridled youth. The whole 
letter is a marvellous revelation of the paternal 
character the not unkindly man, rendered a little 
severe by poverty become with years a somewhat 
rigid moralist, a little pietistic perhaps, yet whose 
eye may still sparkle and the ashes of his ancient 
fires revive at suggestions of the gallant, licensed 
days of his youth. ./Eneas appeals, first of all, to a 
grandparent s natural affection ; next, he reminds 
Silvio that he, too, may charge himself with no less 
a folly ; then, in order to show that the son is really 
his, he proceeds, still preserving this second vein, to 
give a detailed account of how his relations with 


Elizabeth arose, and he does this in such a way as 
to take the chief blame on himself. 1 ( You wrote, so 
the letter runs, that you do not know whether to 
be glad or sorry that God has given this little child. 
But I see grounds for joy only, and none for regret. 
What is sweeter than to beget offspring in one s 
own image, to see one s own race continued, to leave 
some one behind to fill one s place? Recollecting 
one s own childhood, what is happier than to behold 
a child of one s very own ? To me, at least, to have 
multiplied, and to know that I shall leave offspring 
on earth when I take my departure hence is full 
of joy. I thank the Lord who has formed a child 
in his mother s womb, so that a little Enea shall 
climb your and my mother s knees, and be a comfort 
to his grandparents. If my own birth gave you 
delight, father, shall not my son s too? Will not 
the boy s face be welcome to you when you see in 
it my own again ? Will it not be charming when 
a little Enea clings round your neck and cajoles 
you with his childish wiles ? 

But you will say, very likely, you are angry at my 
offence, since the boy is one born out of wedlock. I 
do not know what you take me for. Certainly you 
yourself are made of flesh and did not beget a son of 
stone or iron. 2 Surely you must remember what kind 
of a spark (gallus) you have been in your time. I, 
also, am no eunuch, nor one of the frigid sort. At 
least I am no hypocrite, wishing to appear better 
than I am. I frankly confess that it is a fault. I am 

1 For this portion of the letter, the reader must refer to the epistle itself. 
^En. Silvii, Opera Omn., Basileae, 1551, Ep. xv., September 20, 1443. 

2 An excuse drawn from Boccaccio, iv. novella 1, and iii. novella 5. 


not holier than David nor wiser than Solomon. It is 
an old vice, bred in the bone, and I know of none 
that are free from it. If it be a sin to follow natural 
impulses, it is an universal one. And I do not see 
why one should be severely reprehended, since Nature, 
that does nothing amiss, has implanted this instinct 
in all creatures. 1 Mankind also desires to multiply. 
But you will say so I perceive " there are limits 
within which this is lawful, outside wedlock it is not 
lawful." That is true, and, even so, incontinence will 
often obtain within the matrimonial bounds. To 
eating and drinking bounds are set also ; but who 
regards them? Who is so upright as not to fall 
seven times a day ? Let the hypocrite profess that 
he is without sin. I am quite unaware of any such 
merit in myself, and the Divine Compassion alone 
gives me hope of pardon. God is aware that we are 
all weak and prone to sin, nor will His fountain of 
forgiveness cease, that flows to all. The grandfather 
was little touched by this appeal. 2 There is nothing 
to indicate whether the child grew up to man s estate, 
or what became of him. 

^Eneas s letters to his friends are just as devoid of 
concealment as the one addressed to his father. I 
am amused that any one should say that I lead a 

1 Lorenzo Vallo, in his De Voluptate ac vero jBono, puts the following 
words into the mouth of Beccadelli, the author of that infamous work, the 
Hermaphroditus : What Nature has formed and produced cannot be 
otherwise than holy and deserving of praise. . . . Kindly Nature is the 
same, or almost the same, as God. 3 He praises Plato s idea, in the Republic, 
of community in women as being after Nature, condemns continence as a 
crime against Nature, and pronounces all sensual pleasures to be good. It 
must be remembered that Beccadelli was an intimate friend of ./Eneas 
during his university days at Siena. 

2 JEn. Sil., Ep. ad Gregor. Lollium, January 15, 1444. 


chaste life, he wrote to one of them. I am a poet, 
not a stoic ; but I dare say I shall get discredit for 
not being more discreet in what I say. What I am 
I declare. l 

The tone of bravado, of self-defence, to be found in 
some of these letters is precisely that adopted by 
men who are conscious of maintaining an untenable 
position, or who cling to a favourite vice. If they 
are naturally candid, if they love truth and are con 
scious of the demands of duty, the vigour of their 
apology is often a measure of the severity of the inner 
conflict. It may be taken as a proof that they find 
their conduct unsatisfactory to themselves. 

Now, when ^Eneas arrived at Vienna, he was cast 
into the society of men younger than himself men 
who did not share his intellectual tastes. When set 
free from the dull routine of official life they pursued 
pleasure riotously, and he joined them at the tavern. 
He was framed for social intercourse ; he yearned for 
his home-land and his friends, for whom, as his letters 
show, he entertained deep and enduring affection ; he 
could speak no German. Fate had denied him the 
pleasures of domestic life ; he could have made a 
home very happy, as his devotion to his mother, his 
sisters, and his nephews shows, but to do so was not 
his lot. In many respects he was a disappointed 
man ; his real intellectual interests lay in poetry, in 
noting all that he saw, and conveying his own vivid 
feelings about many things in fresh and forcible 
phrases, and in tracking events to their causes. But 
fate had cast him into the world of diplomacy ; diplo 
matic treatment of those above him in rank was the 

1 Jn. Silvias, Letter to Wilhelm von Stein, July 1444. 


only way to escape from penury and a position un 
worthy of his powers. Yet he did not like diplomacy ; 
he was of too candid a nature to feel quite happy in 
such employment ; it did not always leave his con 
science at ease. ^Eneas felt it necessary to furnish 
an excuse to Schlick, of all people in the world, for 
Schlick s and his own conduct when the Chancellor 
employed him to secure the bishopric for his brother. 
Christ Himself, he urges, did not always declare all 
that was in His mind or His real intention. Nothing, 7 
he says in his Commentaries on Panormitanus, is more 
wobbling than a lie, nothing so stable as the truth. 

Nature had designed him for a man of letters ; the 
irony of life had condemned him to be a state- official, 
had destined that his genius should waste itself on 
theological subtleties, ecclesiastical squabbles, and the 
machinations of policy. He was an exile from all that 
rendered life most dear. What wonder that he took 
refuge in sensuous pleasures \ New convictions arose, 
but he still tried hard to batter himself into enjoy 
ment. But such dissipation as his colleagues indulged 
in could have given but little delight to this man of 
forty, worn with the hardships of more travel in more 
lands than any man of his time had undertaken ; 
worn, too, by work, worry, shortened sleep, and 
irregular and often scanty meals. He was tortured 
by frequent attacks of gout ; he was already bald, 
wrinkled, perhaps feeling a little older than his years. 
The blondes of a German inn brought no sunshine to 
his heart ; the pleasures of sense palled on him ; he 
was tasting fruit that once had been pleasant to the 
palate, but the keen edge of appetite and enjoyment 
pertains to more youthful years. 


He was far from being at peace with his own soul. 
At such moments forgotten impressions are apt to 
come back. Perhaps the preaching of Bernardino, 
that had once so strongly affected him, was remem 
bered. Had the saintly Cesarini, at whose table he 
so often sat, and with whom he held such serious 
conversation, no influence over the soul of his guest ? 

He possessed the intimate confidence of the king 
and his chancellor, and found himself growing in 
favour with them daily. But, as a foreigner, he could 
never obtain commanding employment in Germany 
unless he held some position in that truly cosmo 
politan institution the Universal Church. He never 
cared for wealth, but he loved the refinements of life, 
which are unobtainable without means, and he was 
miserably poor : some of those tempting manuscripts, 
for example, that he was always on the look-out for 
and that he frequently discovered, might be his if 
he were better off. He was fully conscious that he 
possessed great powers, and church-craft and state 
craft would afford him a field for their exercise. He 
regarded ecclesiastical matters as of vastly more 
serious importance now than he did in earlier life ; 
he felt the sobering influence of age and experience ; 
he was a practised hand at affairs, and regarded the 
political world of the Empire from its very centre. 
An ecclesiastic career would furnish scope for his 
powers, release him from pecuniary embarrassment, 
and satisfy the deeper yearnings of his soul. 

Never was there a man of more complex nature. 
Simple as a child in some things, he saw all sides of a 
question at once, he was drawn by diverse allure 
ments, storm-tossed by many conflicting emotions. 


A not unworthy ambition as well as a deepened 
moral and religious sense were at variance with the 
natural tendencies of a literary and joyously artistic 
temperament ; the spiritual was at war with the 
natural man. ^Eneas the theologian and philosopher 
stood in arms against ^Eneas the poet. Even as early 
as November 1444 he wrote from Niirnberg to John 
Gers that he has become strong and can praise 
chastity. The struggle was severe, but servitude to 
the flesh was weakened by disillusion and the passage 
of the years. He had held back from taking orders 
because he feared he could not keep his vow ; l now, 
at last, he accepted a benefice in the remote mountains. 
Once having accepted a new obligation he would 
fulfil it loyally. On May 25, 1445, he informs his 
friend Campisio that he has been presented to a 
benefice, and is to be ordained; on March 6, 1446, 
he tells him that the deed is done ; he is a sub-deacon 
and soon will be a priest. That levity of mind which 
would have held me among the laity is passing away. 
I wish for nothing more eagerly than to become a 
priest now. . . . Therefore do I render God thanks, 
and I will submit to His Will only, and conduct my 
life in accordance with it. Pastor has discovered 
the record of his admission to the rank of priest in 
the Liber Officiorum of Eugenius : he was ordained 
presbyter in February 1447. 

He bitterly repented, now, of his erotic writings, 
so many of which, too, were of such recent dates. 
He made the usual vain attempt at trying to undo 
the past. His letters to his friends John Freund 
(March 8, 1446), to Nicholas Wartenburg and Ippolito 

1 Mn. Sylvii, Ep. ad Petr. de Noxeto, February 18, 1444. 


of Milan (December 31, 1446), and to Carolus 
Cypriacus, although written in the vein that would 
exactly commend themselves to their recipients, gave 
evidence of sincere repentance. He learned, to his 
regret, how widely his novels were circulated, and 
he wrote an earnest retractation and the work De 
Prams Mulieribus, the precise dates of which are 
unknown. 1 

The first-named of these productions is a letter 
of advice to Freund, who was one of his co-secretaries 
in the Chancellery. It exhibits JEneas s wonted 
penetration into the recesses of the human heart, and 
how unerringly he could read what other folk would 
be sure to think and say concerning himself. He 
writes : As regards your light o love whom you 
have given in marriage, I commend your action. 
What is better than the wedded state, with the 
babes it brings ; gifts, these latter, to the State for 
its defence and preservation. But it is unnatural for 
you to grieve over what you have done. Repentance 
should follow wrong-doing only. Why, therefore, 
should you regret having done a good deed ? Deeds, 
not words, tell. If you have given her to an honest 
man, all is well. You have done what is pleasing to 
God and disregarded the criticisms of men. Remem 
ber that Scripture couples fornication with death. 
You will say, "How straight- laced ^Eneas has become!" 
It is true that I have a different sort of reputation 
now from what I used to have at Vienna and Frank 
fort. I do not deny my past, dearest John, but we 
are older, nearer to death, and it behoves us to think 

1 Weiss, Anton, JEneas S. Piccolomini als Papst Pius II., sein Leben und 
Einfluss auf die liter arische Cultur Deutschlands, Graz, 1897. 


less about life and more about the grave. Wretched 
is that man, and devoid of the grace of God, whose 
soul is never touched, who never examines his own 
heart, nor seeks to amend his ways, nor thinks of 
eternity. I have been a great wanderer from what 
is right, but I know it, and, I hope, the knowledge 
has not come too late. My fortieth year is here, and 
with it the day of mercy and salvation. 

4 Forget all about the girl. If you wish for eternal 
life, do as if she were dead. How poor would be your 
joy with her, how fleeting is our delight in women, 
how momentary the satisfaction, how foolish the man 
who loses eternal happiness for the brief delights of 
this world ! I preach to you because you are well 
aware how the poets moralise on the subject. . . . 
Then ^Eneas appeals to John Freund s pride, reminds 
him that, if he chooses another girl, he will merely 
have escaped from one fire to pass into another, and 
quotes from the Classics concerning the levity of 
woman. He proceeds : But I am afraid it is useless 
for me to talk seriously with you, because you will not 
give me any credit for sincerity. You will say that 
I am a man full fed who calls on the hungry to fast. 
Yes, I must admit that this is true. I am nauseated. 
But supposing that, spurned by Venus, I should seek 
consolation with Bacchus. Here also were sin. I am 
not, indeed, surprised that a strapping, full-blooded 
fellow like yourself should fall in love (though I doubt 
whether your boasts are not stronger than the facts 
warrant), but, let it be as you say, then, the stronger 
the temptation, the greater is the merit of resisting 
it. I, by Hercules, am far from being naturally 
continent, and to speak truly, Venus avoids me now 


quite as much as I turn my back on her. But I 
thank God that my temptation is lessened, so that I 
can overcome it. You will say, " Why yield the spoil 
to the enemy before he is victorious ? " but this maxim 
has no application to spiritual warfare. And so the 
argument is continued, with quotations from the 
Bible and the Classics. Could anything be more 
transparent, sincere, and candid than this letter ? 
Yet Voigt finds in it eine Bordell-Comodie ; l a 
farce of the brothel ! 

./Eneas judged himself by a higher standard than 
that employed by his contemporaries. No one 
regarded incontinence as other than a foible ; most 
folk pronounced it praiseworthy. ^Eneas s father is 
the only one who seems to have condemned his son s 
irregularities. Even the austere Gregory Heimburg, 
the precursor of severe German Protestantism, though 
he became a bitter foe of Pope Pius, never reproached 
him in this regard. He sneers, indeed, at a Pope 
who is fond of bastards, because Pius favoured the 
claims of Ferrante to the Neapolitan throne ; he 
accuses him of defending adulterers at Mantua, he 
covertly hints at the licentiousness of early writings, 
but he does no more. It would hardly have occurred 
to any one to hurl so trifling a matter even at the 
teeth of a Pope. 2 A layman might do what a man 
who became Pope should not have written about. 

1 Voigt, Mnta, Silvio Piccolomini als Papst Pius II., i. 438. 

2 See Goldast, Monarchia, ii., or Freher, Eerum Germanicarum Scrip- 
tores, ed. Struvii, ii. ; Pez, Rerum Aust. Scriptores, ii., and the speech 
preserved in the Munich Archives, Cod. lat. 522, fol. 161. 




SOON after the accession of Frederick, at one of his 
innumerable diets, the majority of the Electors were 
in favour of recognising whichever Pope might favour 
precisely those reforms in the Church by which they 
would obtain most power and advantage. At the 
diet of Frankfort (A.D. 1442) five of the Electors 
inclined towards Eugenius, but Frederick could not 
afford to quarrel with Felix and the Baselites, for 
that would imply the antagonism of Savoy and 
strengthen the opposition to him that existed 
throughout Switzerland. Swiss Cantons held posses 
sion of certain lands that had belonged to the House 
of Hapsburg, and Frederick had not yet abandoned 
hope of recovering them. The Electors still preserved 
sufficient respect for Caesar to leave the matter in 
his hands. Felix, through Cardinal D Allemand, 
offered the hand of his daughter Margaret, the widow 
of Louis of Anjou, to Frederick, with a dowry or bribe 
of 200,000 gold pieces. But Frederick held back. 
When he left Basel with ^Eneas in his train, he said, 
Popes have sold their rights before to-day, but Felix 
would fain buy them. * He, as well as other shrewd 

1 JSn. Silvius, De Dictis Alfonsi, lib. ii. 


observers of character, held Felix in no very high 
estimation. Soon after the Anti-Pope s election 
Cesarini wrote to Rome : Fear not. The victory 
is with you. The Council have elected a man re 
vealed to them not by the Holy Spirit but by 
earthly motives. I dreaded lest they should choose 
some poor, learned, holy man, whose virtues had 
been a danger. They have chosen a man of the 
world. 1 

But a wealthy prince with a marriageable daughter 
finds many friends. The Electors inclined at once 
towards Felix. One of them, the Pfalsgraf of the 
Rhine, secured Margaret and her huge dowry. They 
all flouted their Emperor. They were less dis 
gusted with his inertia than eager to take advantage 
of his supineness and push their own claims, increase 
their own power, and enhance their own prestige. 
Zurich had supported the claim of Frederick to the 
ancient possessions of the House of Hapsburg in 
Switzerland. The Swiss closely beleaguered the city, 
and the Electors refused to help their monarch. The 
Armagnacs/ soldiery left unemployed by the cessa 
tion of the French war with England, were sent by 
the dauphin to aid Frederick, for the French prince 
was glad to get them out of France, and hoped by 
their means to push forward the boundary of French 
territory. But the Armagnacs met with such sturdy 
resistance from the Swiss that they retired to certain 
lands of the Empire in Alsace, and subjected them to 
rape, fire, and pillage. Hence, at the diet of Niirn- 
berg, ^Eneas heard Frederick overwhelmed with 

1 Fea, Pius II. a calumn. vindic. Rome, 1822 ; (Pii u., Comment, de 
Condi. Basil.), p. 79. 


invective and reproach, nor, for twenty-seven years, 
did the Caesar dare to face a diet again. Four of the 
Electors were now on the side of Felix. They saw 
an opportunity to take advantage of the supineness 
of Frederick and aim a blow at the royal authority. 
They assumed religious zeal, but it was a mere veil 
for political intrigue. ^Eneas saw through these 
stratagems of statecraft. * We are ready/ he wrote, 
at the command of a secular power, not merely to 
abjure a Pope, but to deny Christ Himself. For love 
is dead and faith lies buried/ 1 But later on, as a 
practical politician, he did not disdain to utilise the 
strategy of others, bent on self-advancement, to 
further what he deemed the just and right cause. 

Eugenius had repaired, by dogged persistency, the 
damage caused by his rash obstinacy. The large- 
minded policy that united the Greeks with the 
Roman Church added enormously to his prestige ; 
the attacks of the Council only served to throw the 
most distinguished theologians, the most saintly men 
on to his side, and they took up his cause with ardour ; 
Vitelleschi, his military lieutenant, had reduced Rome 
to such order that the Pope was able to return to 
his own see and dwell there; Castile and Scotland 
had come over to his obedience ; the King of Aragon, 
now master of Naples, had entered into alliance with 
him. But the battle was not at an end in Germany ; 
the Electors were intriguing with France, the natural 
foe of their country, and, since Anjou was expelled 
from Naples, Eugenius could expect no aid from His 
Most Christian Majesty. Yet it was clear that the 
traditional persistency of the Papacy had prevailed ; 

1 ^En. Silvius, Ep. liv. Ed. Basel. 


once more, as so often before, the dark hour had 
proved but a passing eclipse, and the authority of 
Rome was, in measure, restored. Only Germany 
remained to be won. Frederick had never been 
unfavourable to Eugenius, and the action of the 
Electors inclined him to support the Pope, for he 
needed what protection Rome could give him against 
domestic foes. Nor was this all. A terrible disaster 
had happened in Hungary, an event that spread con 
sternation through Europe ; a danger was imminent 
that demanded the union of divided Christianity : the 
Turk had almost annihilated the Christian forces at 
Varna ; the noble Cesarini and Ladislas, King of 
Poland, were among the slain. And the Hungarian 
nobility opposed the claims of the youthful Ladislas 
to the Hungarian throne, which the death of Ladislas 
of Poland had rendered vacant. If Frederick were 
to restore the aims of Imperial authority, then, and to 
check the Turkish advance, the aid of Eugenius was 
necessary to him. 

JEneas was present at the Diet of Niirnberg (A.D. 
1444), and there he perceived, not only how feeble 
the Caesar really was, but how weak was the bond 
that united the self-seeking Electors. Felix and the 
Council had refused the request of the German 
princes to summon a new council. ^Eneas, appointed 
by Frederick as one of his commissioners in ecclesias 
tical affairs, was sent, though still a layman, with 
three other delegates, to lay the same proposal before 
Eugenius and request him to summon the Council 
in a definite (namely, two years ) time. ^Eneas had 
waited for the Holy Spirit to give an unmisfcakeable 
direction to events ; and it was now quite clear that 


Europe was passing over to the side of Rome. He 
began to take a much stronger and more active part 
in the attempt to determine the Schism. Opposition 
is useless/ he told Schlick, and will only lead to 
new schism/ l Eugenius had won Schlick over by 
nominating his brother to the vacant bishopric, and 
Frederick was only awaiting an opportunity to come 
to terms. ^Eneas had acquired the close confidence 
of both Schlick and the king, and he found that his 
counsels had weight with them. Aforetime he had 
been, he could have been, no other than an eloquent 
mouthpiece ; but now he found himself in a position 
where his own opinion and advice were sought. 
Experience had deepened his sense of responsibility ; 
he perceived that Frederick, though by no means 
devoid of sound judgement, was tardy in action and 
sluggish in thought a man to be led, not to be 
followed. He determined to do all that in him lay, 
and conduct Germany over to Eugenius. The 
greater part of the Catholic world had decided : for 
the sake of religion, of Christian peace, and, above 
all, for united action against the rapidly advancing 
Turk, the Pope must be supported. JEneas had the 
adaptable mind of the practical statesman, who will 
undertake nothing that is not opportune and ex 
pedient. His large intellect enabled him to grasp 
great conceptions and lofty ideas ; he honoured them, 
but he believed the when and how of their realisation 
must depend much on circumstance and, often, on 
device. A new and noble duty was before him, but 
he would undertake it with prudence and conduct 
it with caution with boldness, though, if boldness 

Silvius, Ep. liv. Ed. Basel. 


should become opportune. In the spring of 1445 
he joyfully set out on his journey to Rome. Once 
again he would behold his beloved land and the faces 
of his kindred. 

When he arrived at Siena, his simple-minded 
relatives, ignorant of the immunity accorded to an 
Imperial envoy, were struck with horror at the notion 
of his venturing near Eugenius. They remembered 
his entanglement in the Bishop of Novara s plot and 
his many writings against the Pope. One and all, 
they begged him not to venture into the lion s den ; 
they clung fast to him and sought, with tearful 
entreaty, to turn him from his purpose. His pontifical 
pen records, with dry humour, how they told him of 
the cruelty of Eugenius, how unforgiving he was, 
how no compunction, no sense of right ever restrained 
him, how he was surrounded by agents that stopped 
at nothing. Once in Rome ^Eneas would never 
return. The envoy could not hold himself back ; he 
entered into the spirit of the comedy. Assuming 
the r61e of a hero, he proclaimed that duty must be 
performed, even at the cost of life, and so, tearing 
himself away from those that would have restrained 
him, he rode off for Rome. 1 

The Papal legates in Germany had prepared 
Eugenius for ^Eneas s coming, and his kindred s fears 
were soon turned into joy at his success. He received 
a cordial welcome at Rome, for all were aware how 
very useful the Imperial secretary could be. Before 
unfolding his mission, however, it was necessary to 
be absolved from the Papal anathema pronounced 
against adherents of the Council. Two cardinals led 

1 Pii II. Comment., \. 1. 


Pinturicchio, Siena. 


him into the Papal presence. When he had knelt 
and done reverence to the Apostolic feet, Eugenius 
presented him with both hand and cheek to kiss. 
^Eneas then spoke to His Holiness in a singularly 
bold and manly way. Holy Father/ he said, * before 
I deliver the king s message, I wish to say a few 
words concerning myself. I am aware that you have 
heard much about me, and that little of it is to my 
credit. I must plead guilty to having spoken and 
written and contrived much against you at Basel. 
I did so, but it was less designed against yourself 
than, as I then thought, to serve the Church. I did 
wrong ; but I erred with many men of high reputa 
tion. I followed Julian, Cardinal of St. Angelo, 
Niccolb, Archbishop of Palermo, and Ludovico 
Pontano, Apostolic notary. These men were regarded 
as the very eyes of the law and masters of truth. 
Need I speak of the Universities or of other schools, 
of which most were against you ? Who would not 
have gone astray with such a company ? But, when 
I discovered the error of the Baselites, I confess that 
I did not come over to you, as most did. I was 
afraid of falling from one error into another, as one 
escapes from Scylla to be caught by Charybdis, and 
so I joined the camp of the neutrals. I was unwilling 
to pass from one extreme to another without taking 
time and reflecting. I remained three years with 
the king. But, as I heard more and more about the 
points of difference between the Baselites and your 
legates, it became clear to me that the right lay with 
you. Therefore I rejoiced when the king himself 
wished to open relations with Your Holiness by my 
means. I hoped to be restored to your favour. So, 


now I stand before you, and I ask your pardon for 
what I did without true knowledge. 

The Pope replied : You fell into error with many. 
We cannot refuse to pardon the repentant, for the 
Church is a loving Mother. You have reached the 
truth : take heed that you hold it fast. You occupy 
a station where you may defend the truth and benefit 
the Church. We will forget the injury you have 
done Us and love you well, if you continue to deserve 
Our love. 1 ^Eneas wrote about the interview to 
his friends when he returned to Vienna. When 
I saw Eugenius, he says, c he was as well as an old 
man can be. ... He will not promise to grant the 
king s request, nor allow a Council to be held in 
Germany, nor fix a date for one. 2 The Papacy has 
never failed to give its right value to the policy of 
Quintus Fabius Cunctator. 

The cardinals received him heartily and treated 
him with all due honour ; but his former master in 
Albergati s household, Tommaso Parentucelli, now 
become Bishop of Bologna, and destined, in no short 
time, to occupy the Apostolic Chair, turned aside 
rather than take his hand. Perhaps Parentucelli 
thought him still under censure. Of lofty spirit and 
remarkable directness of mind, a plain-dealer and 
plain-speaker, the bishop was a man ready to con 
front a world in arms with a single purpose in his 
soul ; ready to subdue it to his will or be broken in 
the attempt. He and Albergati had always been for 
Eugenius. He was incapable of understanding the 
subtle, complex character of JEneas, his adaptability 

1 Pii [I. Comment., 1. 1. 

2 JSa. Sil., JEp. ad Leonard. Episc. Patav., May or June 1445. 


and circumspection, his wide, cautious outlook, his 
awareness of all the difficulties of a situation, his 
skilful manoeuvring to overcome them. Parentucelli 
may have fallen into the error that a great and 
minute scholar has not avoided. 1 It may even have 
seemed to him that he had before him, not the wary 
politician, sincerer and less self-centred than most of 
his tribe, but only a disingenuous trimmer, a time- 
server and a toady. 

But there was j ust enough of truth in the unspoken 
judgement to cut ^Eneas to the heart. He resented 
it. He cannot forget the incident, even when he 
becomes Pope, and it is characteristic of him that 
he records it. How ignorant we are of what the 
Future is to bring about ! he remarks, and some 
what ingenuously adds, if ^Eneas had known that 
Parentucelli was to become Pope he would have for 
given him. ! 2 He would have been restrained by 
respect for the Apostolic Chair, for the Chosen Vessel, 
and by worldly prudence. The old experienced 
statesman approves of caution in the conduct of life. 
Like so many of the Pope s incidental remarks, this 
admixture of simplicity and shrewdness brings the 
very man before us. Friends soon brought about a 
reconciliation. Perhaps ^Eneas was never a favourite 
with Tommaso Parentucelli, the housemaster who, 
as Bishop of Bologna and Pope Nicholas v., never 
took him to his heart : yet, henceforward, the two 
men co-operated in perfect agreement, to great ends. 

^Eneas now finally takes his stand as a supporter 

1 The author refers to Voigt. 

2 Fea, Pius II. a calumn. vindic, ; (Pii II. Comment de reb, Basil.}, 
p. 88. 


of the theocratic throne. The Turk was fixing him 
self firmly in Eastern Europe and rapidly advancing 
his forces towards its centre ; no limit seemed to be 
set to his victorious progress ; the growing spirit of 
nationality was adding terrible force to the existing 
antagonisms of Christendom : to ^Eneas, there seemed 
no other way to repel the Infidel and unify the 
nations than by upholding Christ s Vicar as the 
Father of all peoples. In the Vicegerent of Heaven 
lay the sole hope of public safety and public order. 
Shall we condemn his judgement ? Let it be granted 
that no tyranny is so terrible as a spiritual despotism. 
Is the spectacle, to-day, of feud and anarchy in the 
great Empire of Constantine ; is the crushing burden 
of our national debts, the oppression of militarism, 
the veiled enmity of nations that, unconscious of 
irony, name an armed truce peace each a conse 
quence of the failure of Papal theory to realise itself 
so entirely preferable ? We know how limited 
was the power of Papal authority, even at its height, 
to bring the Princes of Europe under control ; we 
may perceive that the dream is one that has come 
through the gate of ivory and not through that of 
horn ; but the conception was no ignoble one ; it 
did not seem impracticable to ^Eneas, nor does the 
Papacy, to-day, regard it as other than a destiny not 
yet fulfilled. 

^Eneas resolved to do all that he could to procure 
union. He wrote to one of his friends at Rome : If 
my embassy can get anything from you it will be the 
safer and render it easier to lead all into union. The 
electors met at Frankfort on St. John s day, nor is 
there any one who does not expect novel events from 


it. But God, who is wiser than we, will direct the 
result/ l And he wrote to a German friend : My 
journey has the honest object of procuring unity. 
What I shall further report concerning the Frank - 
forters, time will show. My silence may be taken to 
indicate what may be brought about. 2 

On his way back to Vienna, ^Eneas revisited Siena, 
and embraced his aged father for the last time. 

Eugenius replied to the Electors request for a 
council by a series of hostile measures. At the 
request of the Duke of Cleves, he removed certain 
lands from the jurisdictions of the Archbishop of 
Koln and the Bishop of Miinster, and he denounced 
the latter as a son of wickedness. He agreed to 
purchase the aid of Frederick by giving him the right 
of filling up six important German bishoprics during 
his lifetime and by granting certain concessions. 
Heimburg says that he promised to pay Caesar 
221,000 ducats, whereof 100,000 were to be furnished 
by Eugenius and the remainder by his successors. 8 
The expenses of the projected journey to Rome for 
Imperial coronation would furnish an excuse for this 
bribe. Eugenius followed all up by a Bull deposing 
the Archbishop-electors of Koln and Trier (February 1, 
1446). Each side miscalculated the strength of the 
other. Eugenius overestimated the power of Frederick, 
and the king placed too high a value on the restored 
Papal authority. 

The Electors, however, abandoned the intrigues 
they had been carrying on with Felix, and turned to 

1 JEin. Sil., Ep. ad Johan. Campisium, May 21, 1445. 

2 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Johan. Freund. From Vienna, 1445. 

3 Diix, Nicolas von Cusa, i. Beilage iv. 



the king, entreating him to renounce his under 
standing with Eugenius. Then they met at Frank 
fort, and agreed to forsake Felix and acknowledge 
Eugenius if the Pope would accept such decrees of 
Basel as related to reform, recall all censures directed 
against neutrals, and agree to summon a council 
within a year in a German city (March 1446). If 
Eugenius refused to conform, they would accept the 
Council of Basel ; but knowledge of this was to be 
withheld from the Pope. 1 

They sent Gregory Heimburg, a zealous reformer, 
and other envoys to announce their decision to 
Frederick. After seeing him, the embassy was to 
proceed to Rome, but by no means to show the docu 
ments they bore to Eugenius unless he accepted their 
terms without reservation ; above all, their resolve to 
pass over to Felix, if these were rejected, was to 
remain a secret from the Pope. The king received 
the envoys in the presence of six of his counsellors. 
They, but not Frederick, were sworn to secrecy. 

Frederick found himself placed in a difficult posi 
tion. Carvajal and Parentucelli were at his Court, 
bearing with them the Emperor s treaty with Eugenius 
for ratification. Frederick complained to the Electors 
envoys that it was quite a new thing for arrange 
ments to be made behind the monarch s back and 
his assent demanded before he had fully and freely 
discussed the questions they involved. He agreed, 
however, to summon a diet in the autumn (A.D. 1446) 
to receive the Pope s answer. Although he had 
taken no oath, it was incumbent on the duty and 
dignity of the throne to preserve secrecy ; yet he felt 

1 Piickert, Die Kurfur&tliche Neutralitat, p. 259. 


it desirable to give Eugenius an inkling of the hidden 
reservation. 1 He told Parentucelli, directly the envoys 
had left, that he had better hasten his departure for 
Rome, relying on the astuteness of the Legate to 
penetrate the meaning of such strange advice, and he 
sent Jllneas with him as his own envoy. As an 
Imperial Secretary, Piccolomini was bound by general 
oath to secrecy, but he may not have been one of the 
six counsellors who took the special oath. 

Sending ^Eneas with Parentucelli was an astute 
piece of diplomacy. A little more might leak out on 
the way, and it would give Eugenius a diplomatic 
advantage to appear to treat the Electors legation as 
if that were one and the same with the legation of 
his friend, their master. He could confound the two 
together. The secretary, in his History of Frederick, 
tells us that the bishop, though he could not know 
all, guessed much, 2 which speaks well for Parentu- 
celli s training in Albergati s household, for he was by 
nature phenomenally straightforward in his own deal 
ings. In Piccolomini s Commentaries on the Council 
we learn that instructed by ^Eneas, Parentucelli 
warned the Pope concerning the matter, and advised 
him to give the envoys a mild answer. 3 There was 
no need to speak right out. Under such circum 
stances it is easy to lead up to a question, and a 
shrug of the shoulders, a single glance, a dubious tone 
will answer it. ./Eneas has been charged with double 
dealing. If he was the servant of the Empire, the 
Electors had forced their king s hand, and he was 

1 Pii II. Comment, de rebus Basil, in Fea (Pius II. a calumniis vindic.\ 
p. 91. 

2 ^n. Silvius, Hist. Fred, in Kollar, ii. p. 122. 

3 Pii II. Comment, de rebus Basil, in Fea, p. 91. 


bound to be faithful to the real interests of the 
Empire, which he identified with those of the king : 
the Empire could not continue to exist if the king s 
authority were flouted and curtailed by his lieges. 
He knew that the king would approve of his action. 
And there are few occasions when the close observer 
will not discover that, so far from the course of duty 
being wholly indisputable, it usually involves a de 
cision, not between plain right and plain wrong, but 
between doubtful courses of action, all of which 
involve some wrong. The future of Christendom was 
in the balance : the unity of the Church was within 
view, and, if Eugenius remained in the dark, an 
unguarded reply would renew and reinforce schism, 
perhaps to the destruction of Catholic Christianity. 

There might be found those who would hold these 
reasons as weighty, and sufficient excuse for ^Eneas s 
conduct. It is a question for casuistry, and ^Eneas, 
certainly, was never visited by the slightest misgiving 
that he had acted otherwise than in the manner that 
strict allegiance to duty and moral obligation de 
manded of him. To-day, even, we hardly apply the 
standards of conduct and honour required in private 
life to the statesman. ./Eneas held the views of a 
practical politician. Wisdom/ he says, fears Destiny 
not one jot. The wise apply their intelligence to the 
events that Time unfolds, and expect men to act 
according to their nature. 1 The fruit of a man s 
life is the unfolding of his nature. What the prudent 
enjoy is due to their superiority ; what the less gifted 
miss is due to their inability to profit by experience. 
So success does not always come from honest service, 

Silvius, Hist. Fred, in Kollar, ii. p. 192. 


nor is failure always the result of crime. Most useful 
results in human affairs are the consequences of correct 
judgement. 1 

-t-Eneas, as envoy of Caesar, introduced the embassy 
of the Electors, and hinted, in the vaguest way, that 
a favourable reply to their requests would bring peace 
to the Church. Heimburg set forth the demands of 
the Electors in a hard and almost peremptory way. 
Eugenius was attentive. He remained silent for a 
while, and then returned an indefinite, diplomatic 
answer. He must take time for consideration. 

Heimburg and ^Eneas recognised one another as 
irreconcileable foes. Their enmity endured through 
out their lives. In appearance and in character no 
men could be more completely contrasted. ^Eneas 
was of slight and unimposing figure ; he bore the 
marks of travel and vigil ; his face was worn ; he was 
grey and looked prematurely aged ; but his eye re 
tained its youthful fire and flashed forth keen and 
brilliant glances. Heimburg was a big, bulky man, 
full fed, yet of imposing presence, with a fat, honest, 
German face. He was a clear, straightforward speaker 
and his words came from the heart ; but, when annoyed, 
he could show himself a master of bitter sarcasm and 
biting irony. ^Eneas was fluent ; Campano tells us 
that his oratory was overladen with thoughtful 
digressions, and his selection of words was not always 
such as an exact scholar would approve. But no one 
could be more forcible when he spoke on a matter that 
he held at heart. He did so now. Heimburg was an 
enthusiast for reform, and he nursed the rancour of a 
disappointed zealot : he detested the opportunist with 

Silvius, Hist. Fred, in Kollar, ii. p. 256. 


all his soul. To this obstinate, hot-tempered, straight 
forward precisian, ^Eneas appeared nothing but a 
cunning, insidious, double-dealing Italian. 1 

Heimburg chafed at the Pope s evasive answer. 
^Eneas tells us, with malicious enjoyment, how he 
would take the air in the evening, sweating with heat 
but still more from rage, and pace up and down, 
panting for breath, his breast and head bared for 
coolness ; he would lash himself into a still greater 
fever and perspiration as he execrated Eugenius and 
the cardinals. ^Eneas had a private interview with 
the Pope and advised him to compromise. Eugenius 
seemed to assent. The cardinals entertained the 
envoys, and finessed to discover what they were hold 
ing back. Finally, the embassy was told that the 
Pope would send his reply to the forthcoming diet at 
Frankfort. An embassy that the Electors sent to 
Felix and his Council met with no better treatment 
than the one sent to Eugenius. 

At the Diet of Frankfort (September 1446) a reply 
was received from Eugenius. It was evasive. Eu 
genius and the Curia knew that, whatever the religious 
zealots of Germany might desire, the princes were 
actuated by no motives that were not entirely political ; 
that each sought only to consolidate and extend his 
own power, and that, if only time could be gained, 
dissensions would assuredly arise among them. In 
utmost need, in darkest eclipse, Eome has never for 
gotten to maintain her pretensions, for the Pope, as a 
rule, and some, at least, of the Sacred College, have 
always been convinced of the justice of their claim to 
universal authority, and remained unyielding in their 

1 /En. Silvius, Hist. Fred, in Kollar, ii. p. 123. 


demand for obedience. They have always refused to 
establish a precedent that might abase the theocracy. 
En genius was as stiffnecked before the princes as he 
had been before the Council, and with greater reason. t 
He was able to make a firm stand because he knew 
that they were to be bought. ^Eneas tells us frankly 
that he himself paid two thousand florins to the 
confidential advisers of the Archbishop of Mainz. 1 
In that age bribes, under the excuse of rewards 
for right-doing, were quite usual, and were not 

./Eneas was so earnestly energetic at this congress 
and throughout all these transactions that it would 
be natural for him. to exaggerate his own importance, 
and it is possible that he has given posterity the im 
pression that he had a greater share in bringing Ger 
many into obedience to Eugenius than was actually 
the case. But he certainly drew up a proposal which, 
to use a phrase of his, squeezed the venom from the 

It was evident that the peril in which the Papal 
party was placed, though greatly diminished, remained 
very real. Some concessions must be made. ^Eneas 
prepared a document whereby, on the one hand, the 
Electors should surrender their neutrality and the 
deposed archbishops return to their obedience, while, 
on the other hand, the Pope should restore the arch 
bishops, summon a Council within ten months, and 
recognise certain decrees of Constance and Basel until 
such time as the future Council might choose to re 
consider them. He acted in a manner that suggested 

1 See his Hist. Fred, in Kollar, p. 128 et seq., and his Commentaries in 
Fea, p. 98. 


to the prince that he was directly commissioned by 
Eugenius to make this offer. D Allemand was present 
at this diet, and ^Eneas tried to win him over, but 
was snubbed for his pains. The Cardinal requested 
him to be modest and reserve his counsels for Eugenius. 
Parentucelli and Nicholas of Cusa accepted his pro 
posal. Carvajal was reluctant to do so ; he and ^Eneas 
came to high words, for the Secretary feared that all 
might be ruined. Heimburg and Lysura asked him 
whether he had come from the juridical school of Siena 
to lay down the law for Germany. He kept himself 
under control and did not reply. The Cardinal of 
Aries was not listened to by the diet. He and his 
companions rode back to Basel wholly disheartened. 
On the road they were attacked by a band of robbers 
and the Cardinal only escaped by the swiftness of his 
steed. Christ, said he, was sold for thirty pieces 
of silver : Eugenius has offered sixty thousand for 
me/ The league of the electors/ says Creighton, 
* had been overthrown at Frankfort, and with it also 
fell the cause of the Council of Basel. Germany was 
the Council s last hope and Germany had failed. 
The diplomacy of the Curia had helped Frederick in. 
to overcome the oligarchical rising in Germany, but 
the Pope had won more than the king. The 
oligarchy might find new grounds on which to assert 
its privileges against the royal power ; the conciliar 
movement was abandoned, and the summoning of 
another council was vaguely left to the Pope s good 
pleasure. The ecclesiastical reforms which had been 
made by the Council of Basel survived merely as a 
basis for further negotiations with the Pope. If the 
Papal diplomacy had withstood the full force of the 


conciliar movement, it was not likely that the last 
of the falling tide would prevail against it. 

In a very short time the Council ceased to exist. 
Felix was made a Prince of the Church and allowed 
to retain the outward honours paid to a Pontiff. 
D Allemand retired to Aries, where the sanctity of 
his life brought him universal respect, and, after 
his death, miracles were said to be wrought by his 
corpse. John of Segovia retired to a small episcopal 
see in his native country and employed the remnant 
of his days in the useful task of exposing the fallacies 
of the Koran. 

The proposals of the diet were laid before Eugenius 
by ^Eneas, Procopius of Eabstein, a Bohemian, who 
represented the king, John of Lysura, who appeared 
as vicar of the Archbishop of Mainz, and others. 
They met at Siena, and rode on to Rome, a troop of 
horsemen sixty strong. They were received by the 
Pope and fifteen cardinals. JEneas made a speech 
remarkable for its plausibility and the dexterity 
with which he avoided giving offence either to the 
Germans or to Eugenius. 1 The members of the 
Sacred College set themselves out to entertain and 
flatter the envoys. ^Eneas promised Eugenius that 
the king would both recognise him and order the 
city of Basel to withdraw its safe-conduct from 
members of the Council. Eugenius was feeble now, 
and drawing very near to death : he accepted the 
general principles set forth by the Germans ; but the 
astute diplomacy of the Curia drew up the articles 
in so loose a manner as to open ways of escape from 
their provisions ; and the Pope signed a secret state- 

1 It is given in Mansi, Pii II. Orationes y i. p. 108. 


ment that whatever concessions he might have given 
were wrung from him when he was weakened by 
sickness, and were never intended to derogate from 
the doctrines of the Church or the authority and 
privileges of the Apostolic Chair. 1 But the simple- 
minded Germans, led by Lysura, believed that 
Eugenius had acted in perfect good faith and that 
his successor was bound by the document he signed. 
Eugenius had only just sufficient strength left to 
receive the envoys, and ./Eneas gave in a declaration 
of fidelity to the Pope, who handed him his Bull. A 
few days after (February 23, 1447) the Pope breathed 
his last. After a stormy pontificate, during which the 
Church was rent asunder, the Apostolic Chair abased, 
and almost universal contempt exhibited for its 
authority, Eugenius saw, in his last days, some 
measure of Papal power and prestige restored and the 
healing of schism close at hand. This Pisgah vision of 
promise that greeted his dying eyes was due, in part, 
to his resolute firmness and, in part, to the activity of 
partisans that were converts to his cause. No man 
is so zealous as he who has changed his convictions, 
and Eugenius would hardly have triumphed but for 
the zeal of ^Eneas and other seceders from the 
Council of Basel. 

It was usual to employ able ecclesiastics in the 
service of the state when they happened to be 
learned and experienced men, and it was well under 
stood that when ^Eneas became a cleric he would 
still continue to serve the king. Rare at all times 
is the combination of literary temperament with 

1 Kaynaldus, Ad ann. 1447. 


practical ability ; far rarer is such a combination of 
literary power with great capacity for statesmanship 
as JEneas exhibited. Frederick rewarded him with a 
parish in the Tyrol. ^Eneas describes it as ( reached 
only by a difficult pass over lofty and precipitous 
mountains, a place surrounded by snow and the 
horrors of ice, frozen out three parts of the year. 
The husbandmen of the valley are compelled to dwell 
within doors throughout the long winter. They are 
dexterous workers in wood, carving chests and doing 
other skilful carpentry, and they take their manu 
factures down to Bozen and Trent. But most of 
their time they waste at chequers, at which they are 
marvellously quick. No warfare calls them to arms, 
no ambition affects, no lust for gold disturbs them. 
Time creeps on while they are looking after the hay- 
crop or attending to their herds ; their beasts share 
their dwellings, and drunkenness is unknown, for 
cheese and milk are their only meat and drink. The 
church is far away, and they keep the frozen bodies 
of those that die in the winter season until the thaw 
comes. But, when summer is established, folk 
assemble from all parts of the parish, and a long 
funeral procession is formed, and everybody is busy 
spreading news of what has happened meanwhile. 
So simple a life should make them the happiest of 
mortals, were they as good as they are primitive. 
But they are given over to fornication and adultery, 
nor does a man among them ever take a woman to 
wife that is a maid. ^Eneas did not hold that 
benefice long. 

So wrote he, when he became Pope. He could not 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. i. 


speak the patois of the Sarantaner Thai, and he felt 
that his powers would be thrown away on these raw 
mountaineers. The stipend was only sixty ducats a 
year, and the fee for investiture was one hundred and 
forty ducats. His life s work lay in far other direc 
tions. But he did not take orders to acquire this 
benefice, and he was never in possession of it. 
Frederick s right to bestow it was more than question 
able, and Albert of Austria, in whose dominions it 
lay, asserted his rights in this and other matters, 
while the local parliament would have none of the 
king s nomination. So, for the third time, .Eneas s 
ecclesiastical hopes were doomed to miscarry. How 
ever, not long afterwards, the Bishop of Passau pre 
sented him to a benefice at Anspach, and then he 
took the vow concerning which he had had so many 
misgivings. On March 6, 1446, he writes to Cam- 
pisio, I have conquered that levity of mind that 
kept me among the laity/ and adds that he is a 
sub-deacon now, and hopes to be admitted to the 
diaconate in eight days time ; Campisio may live to 
see him a bishop. His parishioners were mostly 
handicraftsmen and farmers, but fine oratory was 
indispensable on such an occasion, and the display of 
scholarship, in season and out of season, was in 
fashion. .Eneas wrote a sermon in Latin that is 
earnest and sincere enough, but was quite as much 
intended to be read by the admirers of style as to be 
listened to by the good folk at Anspach. It was 
adorned by quotations from the sacred Epistles, 
Lactantius, Ovid, Juvenal, Seneca, and Epicurus. * I 
am deeply sensible of what manner of burden I have 
undertaken, says the new vicar, I know the obliga- 


tion to which I am sworn. I have taken an oath to 
point out the heavenly way to you, and to care for 
your souls. ... I will strive, not only to make you 
better men and women, but also to improve my own 
character. Thus may we gain the everlasting life 
together, But I am not skilled in your speech, so, 
though sometimes I will write you letters, I will 
employ a vicar as my interpreter, and he shall unfold 
the word of God to you, and point out the road that 
leads to bliss/ l Pastor has discovered that eleven 
months after taking orders, ^Eneas was admitted to 
the priesthood. The record of the event is contained 
in the Liber Officiorum of Eugenius, and it took place 
at Rome a few days before that Pontiff s death. 

It is clear that ^Eneas was possessed by no fierce 
fire of evangelical enthusiasm. But he could be a 
kindly friend to those in need of counsel or help. 
His advice was sought on the very difficulty that had 
delayed his own entrance into holy orders, and the 
dates of his anti- erotic writings should be carefully 
noted. 2 They begin with his pastorate. Once, during 
this period of deepening earnestness, his duties called 
him to a town in Franconia, and a woman came 
running up to greet him. She was no great beauty, 
having a strange figure, short and stumpy. He 
asked her how she was, and what she did there, and 
if she came on some love -affair, for he recognised her 
as one whom he had seen at Basel. She replied that 
she was well, had no lover, and maintained herself 

1 Pii II. Orationes, in Mansi, i. p. 54. 

2 The epistles to John Freund, to Nicholas Wartenburg, and to Ippolito 
of Milan, all lie between March and December 1446. His work De Prams 
Mulieribus is undated, and also his letter to Carolus Cypriacus, a nobleman, 
containing an earnest denunciation of his novel De Duobus Amantibus. 


by needlework. Then she took him to the humble 
room that she occupied, and showed him the clothes 
she was working at, and, whatever his suspicions 
might have been, there was no evidence of her leading 
other than a decent life. Have you no husband ? 
asked .Eneas. Yes, but I am better away from 
him/ she answered. .Eneas asked more questions 
and found that the husband was a certain Hermann 
Aspel of Basel, from whom the woman had separated 
years before. Aspel had persistently maltreated her, 
beating her with fist and stick, and threatening to 
kill her. c But why do you not go back to him and 
try to live with him again ? asked .Eneas. Because 
he has taken another woman to live with him/ she 
replied. But he may have repented, and be willing 
to live with you again/ urged .Eneas, and, acting 
according to his lights, he offered to find out all 
about her husband, and to try to effect a reconcilia 
tion. He gives the account of this little adventure 
to a clergyman resident at Basel, whom he begs to 
gather what information he can, and try to get the 
concubine out of the house, so that the wife may be 
free to return. 1 As a cleric, his friends found him 
precisely the same kindly, genial companion as before. 
1 What Michael and I chiefly long for/ he tells an 
intimate, when he is away on one of his innumerable 
journeys, is that we may meet and chat, and laugh 
and drink and sing together once again/ 

Two months after he was ordained priest, Tommaso 
Parentucelli, now become Nicholas v., advanced him 
to the bishopric of Trieste. The Pope invaded the 
right of the king in doing so ; for the benefice was 

1 JEn. SO., Opera Omnia. Basileae, 1551, Ep. xcix. p. 588. 


one of those reserved to Caesar by the compact 
between the latter and Eugenius. But Frederick 
had also nominated ^Eneas, so no difficulty arose. 
Both king and Pope were under deep obligations to 
him. It was he who guided Frederick to renew to 
Nicholas the obedience he had yielded to Eugenius, 
and he had prepared the way for the restitution of 
Papal authority in Germany. For the fourth time 
he encountered the resistance of a chapter. That of 
Trieste made an attempt to elect their own bishop ; 
but they were powerless to oppose Pope and Caesar 
in accord with one another. 1 The way now lay 
open to the highest seats in the hierarchy of the 
Church. 2 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 

2 Voigt s judgement on ^Eneas s character has been repeated recently, 
without any evidence of a re- examination of the facts, by Dr. A. Meusel, 
in his Enea Silvio als Publicist : Untersuchungen zur deutschen Staats- und 
Eechtsgeschichte, Hft. 7V. 1905. But Dr. Meusel deals exhaustively and 
destructively with ^Eneas s treatise, On the Origin and Authority of the 
Imperial Power. Yet it may be allowed to us to remark that JEue&s was 
no jurist only a man alive to large ideas and skilful in finding arguments to 
speed them. Scholastic quibbles and meticulous pedantry were alien to 
his nature, and scientific method and historical criticism were unknown in 
his age. 




was present at Eugenius s funeral, and, in 
spite of the solemnity of the occasion, he witnessed 
much that excited his keen sense of the ludicrous : 
there were customs observed quite incongruous with 
a spectacle that should have been impressive, and 
these, he says, he would like to see abolished. 
* Servants presented to each cardinal a box painted 
with his coat-of-arms and containing a repast ; his 
household followed it, and then a train of priests and 
parasites, that bowed to the dinner. These gaudy 
dinner-boxes were borne through Rome with much 
solemnity, so that each procession resembled a sepa 
rate funeral cortege. Four mourners stood beside the 
coffin of the dead Pope to flick the flies away, but, it 
being winter-time, there were none : perhaps, how 
ever, a refreshing breeze was created for Eugenius, 
who was not there. l 

uEneas was selected to be one of the cross-bearers 
at Nicholas s coronation. 2 The procession was headed 
by the Blessed Sacrament, and many torch-bearers 
guarded It. Three banners and an umbrella preceded 

Sil, Hist. Fred, apud Kollar, loc. cit., pp. 104, 105. 
2 ^En. Sil., Eelatio apud Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores 
iii. 2. p. 896. 


the Pope, who rode a white horse, bore the Golden 
Rose in his left hand and employed his right hand 
in blessing the people. The envoys of the King of 
Aragon (who held Naples of the Papacy as a fief) and 
the barons of Rome took turns at leading his horse. 
At Monte Giordano, the Jews presented Nicholas 
with their book of the Law, which he accepted, but 
condemned their interpretation of it. The ceremony 
took place at St. John s Lateran, and, at its close, 
gold and silver medals were given to the cardinals, 
prelates, and envoys. A feast followed, the Pope 
dining alone in his palace, and everybody else in the 
House of the Canons. We (^Eneas and Procopius) 
were the guests of Cardinal Carvajal. 

When ^Eneas arrived at Rome a rumour of the 
death of the Bishop of Trieste had reached the city. 
Eugenius intended to confer the benefice on him, but 
the report proved to be premature. But soon after 
wards the bishop died, and Nicholas, as we have seen, 
carried out Eugenius s desire. As a humanist, Nicholas 
loved to advance his fellow -scholars. Vespasiano 
Bistucci tells us that his eloquent oration at the 
funeral of Eugenius gave him the Papacy, a state 
ment which, though not correct, is evidence of the 
high estimation in which oratory was held in the 
fifteenth century. Nicholas began all the liberal 
studies early in life, says ^Eneas in his ambassadorial 
report ; e he is familiar with all the historians, poets, 
and cosmographers ; he is we]l acquainted with the 
theologians, and is well read in civil and canon law, 
and even in medicine. l The new Pope found the 

1 ^n. Silvius, Relatio, A.D. 1447, apud Muratori, Rerum Italicarum 
Scriptores, iii. 2, p. 895. 



states of the Church still in disorder ; the national 
church of France was practically independent of the 
Papacy; there was still a rival Pope; the Papal 
revenues were much reduced, and it was all-important 
that Germany should not remain alienated. Nicholas 
succeeds to difficulty/ wrote Poggio ; the realm is a 
hurly-burly, and, what is even more embarrassing, 
quite ruined. 1 If arms had been at his command, 
the new Pope would hardly have used them ; he was 
essentially a man of peace ; he prayed Heaven that 
he might never use any other weapon in his defence 
than the one God had given him. 2 This peaceful 
scholar, though he was a man who loved to express 
himself freely, was called to a position that required 
stratagem and manoeuvre, and he found a use in the 
services of ^Eneas, the scholarly diplomatist. 
* On March 30, 1447 (he was not yet nominated to 
the bishopric), ^Eneas rode off for Germany. It was 
a month later that he became Bishop of Trieste. In 
July, he was sent by the king, with another repre 
sentative, to the diet of Aschaffenburg, but he, no 
less than Nicholas of Cusa, the Papal Legate, repre 
sented the claims of Rome. The diet decided that 
Nicholas should be recognised, and a fresh diet was 
agreed on, to arrange what compensation was to be 
given to the Pope in lieu of the time-honoured per 
quisites that had been withdrawn. ./Eneas then went 
to Koln to win over the archbishop. He was success 
ful in his mission, but the University taunted him 
with being a turncoat. Indeed, he found himself 
regarded as a Judas who had sold his master for 

1 Poggio, Ep. ix. 17. 

2 See Vespasiano di Bistucci, apud Muratori, Eerum Italicarum 
Scriptores, xxv. 270, et seq. 


silver, and he felt obliged to vindicate himself from 
the charge. He wrote an open letter to the Rector 
of the University. I am but a man/ he says, and 
therefore born to sin ; I have gone astray, and am 
fully aware of it. And I give thanks to God who 
rescued me from further error. No one who reads my 
writings will deem that I was so perfectly convinced, 
so entirely rooted in my opinions, as to be incapable 
of change. It were unfortunate for men if they could 
not alter their judgements ! Augustine denounced 
the books he had written. 1 We are free agents while 
life lasts, and are judged by our final state of mind ; 
the evildoer may find salvation by remorseful repent 
ance. In the spirit of Saul going to Damascus, an 
enemy of Christianity, I went to Frankfort. He 
recounts his experiences at Basel ; how he came to 
see that the Pope was neither heretical nor schismatic, 
nor a cause of scandal, and that, therefore, he could 
not be deposed, while the Council was illegal, since it 
sat on at Basel when it had been translated by the 
lawful head of the Church. Nor did it represent the 
Universal Church, in which the Holy Spirit resides : 
it was supported by Savoy alone among the nations. 
Men highly revered by the Church have erred and 
been forgiven. Therefore as a human being, subject 
to error, he, also, might repent. * Is faith only to be 
found at Basel, as Apollo gave oracles only at Delphi ? 
By refusing to go elsewhere, the Council showed that 
it had little faith in itself 2 

Gregorovius remarks that l this retractation, which 

1 See S. Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis, Episcopi Retractationiim libri 
duo, apud Migne, Patrologia Latina, t. xxx. ii. 

2 This epistle of retractation and also the Bull of Retractation, which is 
an expanded form of it, issued when ^3Eneas became Pope, are both given 
in Fea, Pius II. a calumniis vindic, Rome, 1822. 


he addresses to the surly theologians at Koln, bears 
no trace of hypocrisy nor yet the contrition of a 
repentant devotee. It is a confession, written in 
an elegant and rhetorical style, of a man well 
acquainted with the world, who solaces himself with 
the axiom that to err is human. Devout Christians 
may judge whether St. Paul or St. Augustine would 
have regarded Piccolomini as their equal, as a hero 
whom conviction has redeemed from error. There 
were, however, men of sincere piety as well as 
pedants and scoffers who made Pius suffer for the 
sins of ^Eneas. But was he not the son of the 
century? The recollection of his past, which, more 
over, had not been sullied by any crime, soon vanished 
in the genial humanism, perhaps in the general de 
pravity of his day, and if ever the errors of youth 
may be pardoned to age, Pius n. may claim forgive 

ness. 1 

Gregorovius should have observed, however, that 
the epistle addressed to the Rector of Koln Univer 
sity is an apology for adherence to the Council only. 
No one had accused ./Eneas of other sin ; least of all 
of sexual offence. Who in that age would have 
thought it necessary to do so ? He had been under 
no vow of continence ; only recently had he taken 
orders. Yet in his later renunciation the Bull 
In minoribus agentibus, published April 26, 1463, 2 
though it is based on this epistle, the Pope would 
seem, implicitly, to refer to other errors than polemical 
writings against Eugenius. He had written con 
demning his erotic writings. Now, he says : The 

1 See Gregorovius s account of Pius ii. s reign in his History of Borne, 
English translation, pp. 171-172. 2 Fea, loc. cil, p. 3. 


Pope is ashamed of his errors, he repents f the evil 
that he has said and written ; yea, passionate is his 
contrition ; yet he has done more harm by his writings 
than by his deeds. But what shall be done? The 
word, once written, takes wing ; it cannot be called 
back. Oh, that what has been published could be 
blotted out. . . . We were ensnared by our own 
writings, as is the weakness of poets, who love their 
works as if they were their children/ The epistle 
to the Rector is a manly confession of a mistake. 
It may be allowed that it was eloquently written, 
for JEneas would not have anything flow from his 
pen that did not conform to the requirements of style. 
The Bull, surely, is sufficiently remorseful to gratify 
the most exacting of precisians ; only, unfortunately, 
Pius was too well acquainted with the secrets of 
the human heart not to be aware that much may 
always be pleaded in palliation, if not in excuse, of 
his own and other folk s transgressions. Perhaps, 
had he omitted the excuse, the deep contrition 
he assuredly felt would have been more generally 

The princes of Germany perceived that if they 
could stand well with the Pope, they might squeeze 
concessions both from him and Frederick, so, at an 
assembly held at Vienna (February, 1448), they 
signed a concordat, wherein not one word was said 
about those conciliar decrees that the Papacy had 
accepted but ignored. All the princes had contrived, 
in one way or another, to secure something for them 
selves, and Frederick was obliged to put up with just 
what concessions the Papacy was willing to grant 
him; for without Papal support he could not hope 


to hold the electors in check. Everybody was 
offered and took some kind of bribe to keep quiet. 

But, if the storm had abated, an after- swell still 
troubled the waters. At a congress held at Bourges 
(June 1447), the King of France secured for himself 
no small measure of ecclesiastical control that had 
hitherto belonged to the Papacy. Burgundy, Castile, 
England, and Scotland were preparing to follow his 
example. In November 1448 ^Eneas wrote to the 
Pope : A time of peril is before us ; on every side 
bad weather is threatening, and the storms that are 
coming will put the skill of the mariners to the proof. 
The waves from Basel have not yet gone down ; the 
winds are still struggling below the waters and 
hurrying along secret channels. That consummate 
actor, the devil, sometimes assumes the part of an 
angel of light. I know not what attempts will be 
made in France, but the Council still has adherents. 
We have a truce, not peace. Our opponents say that 
we have yielded to force, not conviction, and that 
what we have once taken into our heads we keep 
firmly fixed there. So we must expect another battle 
field and a fresh struggle for supremacy. 

If ^Eneas acted as an ecclesiastical agent for the 
Papacy, he was also busily employed by Frederick 
on purely political business. Filippo Maria Visconti, 
Duke of Milan, died on August 13, 1447, and the 
city soon established a republican form of government. 
Milan, while owing fealty to the Empire, had once 
been a self-governing commune, and Barbarossa and 
his illustrious grandson Frederick, Stupor Mundi, 
had tried, repeatedly but vainly, to suppress its 
liberties. But local nobles had succeeded where 


Emperors failed. The antagonism of classes, the 
need of strong government within the walls and of an 
effective and continuous policy in regard to subject- 
communes and foreign powers, had enabled, aforetime, 
first the Torriani, and then the Visconti, to seize the 
helm of state. The title of duke had been granted 
to the Visconti by Imperial decree, and that family 
had intermarried with royal houses of Europe ; but 
they were regarded by their subjects as First Magis 
trates only, raised to power by election or tacit assent. 
An illegitimate daughter, Bianca Maria, was the sole 
issue of the late duke, and she had become the bride 
of Francesco Sforza, a soldier of fortune, whose ser 
vices her father was compelled, though very unwil 
lingly, to reward by the gift of her hand. The 
republic was hardly constituted when it became split 
into factions by economic and social forces, and the 
freedom of the city was threatened by Sforza, by the 
Duke of Orleans, who claimed the throne in virtue 
of his descent from the Visconti through the female 
line, by Alfonso of Naples, who asserted that the late 
duke had named him as successor, and by Caesar 
himself, on the ground that the fief had lapsed. 
^Eneas Silvius had been sent, soon after the duke s 
death, to bring the divided city back to its allegiance. 
He found that the turbulent citizens were willing to 
do homage to Frederick what time he might come to 
claim the Lombard crown, but were by no means dis 
posed to concede any further privileges. And now, 
again, in 1449, when the city was closely invested by 
Sforza, he was sent to proffer the king s help. He 
addressed a great gathering of the townsfolk and 
promised that the king should advance immediately 


to the relief of the beleaguered city, if the government 
gave Frederick the full rights that an overlord might 
claim from a lapsed fief. The government had no 
small difficulty in calming the excited people : they 
had to promise to appoint a committee and give the 
proposal a favourable consideration. Then, as he had 
done on the previous visit, ^Eneas visited Sforza in 
his camp, with the hope of coming to some under 
standing with him, but received the curt reply, c Let 
the king do what he likes ; when I have taken Milan 
I will be faithful to him as my overlord. ^Eneas 
perceived that Sforza was a man of great determina 
tion and force of character, and mutual respect seems 
to have grown up between the two. Early in the 
following year the condottiere entered Milan, and was 
welcomed as a deliverer by the people whom he had 
starved into submission, for he brought abundant 
provisions with him. He assumed rule and exercised 
impartial justice; and ^Eneas tried, though vainly, to 
get Frederick to recognise him as legitimate ruler. 
Later on our bishop sought for some recognition of 
his services from the usurper ; for we still frequently 
find JEneas resembling the pushing professional man, 
who does his duty but expects his reward, is keen to 
perceive when his own personal interests coincide 
with larger duties, and makes his way, in no small 
degree, by being useful and agreeable to all those 
with whom he has to deal. 

Schlick died in 1449, and, after his death, Piccolo- 
mini, Bishop of Trieste, was even more busily employed 
by the king and had more of his confidence than 
^Eneas the secretary. Frederick was now thirty-five 
years old, and he thought it high time to provide an 


heir for his throne. He sent his envoys in every 
direction to seek for a suitable bride, and he selected 
Leonora, the daughter of the King of Portugal, and 
niece of the King of Naples, for the honour. She was 
a girl only just entering womanhood, but she already 
had other princely suitors. Frederick was preferred, 
however, for, as JSneas tells us, the title of Caesar 
was held in more veneration abroad than at home. 1 
He was despatched to Naples to arrange the marriage, 
and, on the way, he received the welcome tidings that 
the Pope had made him Bishop of Siena. The 
journey/ he tells us, was by no means without its 
perils. The river, which rises in the Volscian moun 
tains, is a deep stream, overshadowed by woods, and 
many of the trees bend in low arches over the water, 
like so many natural bridges. The boats that bore 
.#Cneas and his company were very small indeed ; the 
boatmen, whom we compelled to row by night, turned 
ill-tempered, and often their oars struck against these 
trunks ; once, in the deepest darkness, we had to cling 
on for dear life to a trunk, and were in danger for two 
hours. A little while afterwards, a boat sank here, 
and eleven men were drowned. But, not far from 
Cumae, where we had to cross another river near its 
mouth, and less labour was required to propel the 
boat, it capsized, and men by clinging, and horses by 
swimming, had to struggle for their lives. 2 

From Naples, after a successful mission, he rode 
back to Rome. It was Jubilee year, and he asserts 
that forty thousand pilgrims arrived every day, an 
incredible statement, though Cristoforo da Soldo writes 

1 ^En. Silvius, Hist. Fred, in Kollar, ii. p. 16. 

2 PHIL Comment., 1. 1. 


that * a greater crowd of Christians was never known 
to hasten to any Jubilee : kings, dukes, marquesses, 
counts, knights, and people of every rank came there 
daily in such multitudes that there were millions in 
the city. And this lasted the whole year, except in 
summer, when the plague carried off a countless 
number. But hardly had it abated and the cold 
season come round, when the crush began again/ 
^Eneas arrived in winter. He found a French embassy 
there, urging the fulfilment of the Papal promise to 
summon a fresh council, and demanding that it should 
be held in France. When he announced the approach 
ing marriage of Frederick and the monarch s intention 
of coming to Rome for coronation to the Pope and 
Curia, he cleverly introduced a request that the council 
should be held in Germany. 1 This demand coming 
from the Imperial Ambassador enabled Nicholas and 
the Curia to postpone the threatened danger. In a 
later speech, delivered at Vienna, the bishop said : 
It pleases neither the King of Aragon, nor him of 
England, nor him of Portugal, that it should be held 
in France. I, by the sanction of Caesar, said so in 
public consistory at Rome, in the Jubilee year, and 
dissuaded them from it, not without good reason/ 2 
and, in his Commentaries, he tells us that it was he 
who put off the attempt. 3 Since all the Christian 
princes were not agreed as to the place of meeting, 
there was a fair seeming of excuse for postponing the 
meeting itself. 

Taking advantage of the canonisation of St. 

1 Pii IT. Orationes, apud Mansi, i. p. 140. 

3 Ibid. loc. cit. ; Oratio adversus Australes, i. p. 234. 

3 Pii II. Comment., L 1. 


Bernardino, which had just taken place, Piccolo-mini 
advised that Fra Giovanni Capistrano, on whom 
Bernardino s mantle had fallen, should be sent to 
preach the word through Germany ; perhaps he 
would win back Bohemia to the faith. Such was the 
power of this remarkable preacher that, though his 
Latin exhortations had to be interpreted to the 
Germans, his mission to that country was a great 
success. He was revered as if he had been one of 
the Apostles come back from the dead ; thousands 
crowded to hear his sermons, and the sick were 
brought in numbers to touch the hem of his garment 
and be healed. But the penetrating eye of JEneas 
perceived some swelling vanity and arrogant self- 
sufficiency hiding beneath the friar s frock ; rightly 
or wrongly he judged that, at bottom, the ardent 
enthusiast had a shallow character, and when he 
became Pope he resolutely set his face against canon 
ising Capistrano. 1 From Germany Capistrano went 
on to Bohemia, but his emotional methods had less 
effect with the Calixtines. Cusa was there, trying 
to win over heretical scholars by argument, and 
^Eneas was sent to try his diplomacy ; for Frederick 
hesitated to proceed to Rome for his coronation until 
Bohemia should be less unquiet. A Bohemian party 
favoured him, but the greater part of the nation 
wished him to give Ladislas, the youthful heir to 
their throne, into their hands, and the object of 
^Eneas s mission was to exercise his persuasive 
oratory at the Bohemian Diet. Though the miser 
able Caesar dared not face the Electors at a diet, 
though he feared that his dominions would be attacked 

Si!, Hist. Bohem., c. 65 ; Pii II. Comment., 1. xii. 


during his absence, he yet hoped to increase his 
prestige by assuming the Imperial insignia; he was 
almost penniless, too, and hoped to fill his purse by 
the sale of privileges in Italy ; further, he was 
pledged to meet his bride in that country. So ^Eneas 
was despatched to do what he could towards the 
pacification of Bohemia. 

He passed through Tabor, the headquarters of the 
Bohemian extremists, and he tells us of symbols, hung 
over the city-gate, which set forth their separation 
from the Catholic Church. They were a shield, bear 
ing a cup-holding angel for its device, and the effigies 
of blind old Ziska, the heroic genius who had or 
ganised the defence of Bohemia and led her peasantry 
to hurl back, so many times, the united chivalry of 
Europe. He found the Taborites quite well-to-do 
people, for the spoliation of the Church and booty 
acquired by war had enriched them. Their system 
of education was good, though the extremists despised 
classical scholarship since, in a measure, it was the 
distinction of a class. Yet many were instructed in 
Latin, and ^Eneas says that their love of literature 
was the one good point about the people. The Bible 
was much studied by them. ^Eneas wrote a letter 
to Carvajal giving an account of the heretics. 1 The 
Italian priests, he says, should be ashamed, for it 
is certain that not one of them has once read the 
Bible. . . . They are not all of one faith, for every 
one in Tabor may believe what pleases him. Nico- 
laitans, Arians, Manichseans, Arminians, Nestorians, 
Berengarians, and Poor of Lyons are all to be found 
there. The highest in consideration, however, are 

1 JEtn. Silv. Piccolomini, Opera Omnia. Basil., JSp. cxxx. 


those arch-enemies of the Boman see the Wal- 

From Tabor he proceeded to Beneschau, where the 
diet was held, for Prague was plague-stricken at 
this moment. He pointed out that young Ladislas 
was too young to reign, and promised that matters 
should be arranged, if Bohemia would wait peacefully 
for Frederick s return from Borne ; but he was heard 
with very little attention. He was more successful 
with George Podiebrad, a man who was rapidly 
advancing to the position of Dictator in Bohemia, 
and ^Eneas promised him that he should receive the 
recognition of Frederick as governor of that country. 
He thought Podiebrad an ambitious man, yet harm 
less and easy to manage : he lived to discover his 

On his return journey he revisited Tabor, and a 
disputation was arranged to take place between the 
scholarly ambassador and a crowd of heretical priests. 
Good humour prevailed throughout the discussion ; 
but it was evident that it could lead to no good 
result, and ./Eneas withdrew with a witty argu- 
mentum ad hominem. The Pope and his cardinals 
are given over to avarice and gluttony/ urged a 
round, fat ecclesiastic ; their belly is their god, and 
their heaven lies in their money-bags/ ^Eneas laid 
his hand gently on his adversary s comfortable paunch, 
and, amid good-humoured laughter, asked if that 
came of fasting and self-denial. 

When the Austrian nobles learned that Frederick 
intended to take the young Ladislas with him to 
Borne, they threw off their allegiance ; but, being 
too weak to employ force against them, the king 


started on his journey, taking ^Eneas with him. 
By the end of December 1451 he reached Italy, and 
was soon disillusioned as to the power of the Imperial 
name in that country. Caesar was still surrounded 
by a halo of prestige, but Italy was no longer a mere 
truss of communes : the leading cities had subdued 
the territories surrounding them and become the 
capitals of wealthy and powerful states. The Italian, 
too, is a keen critic, and Frederick was not the most 
dignified of emperors. Yet a nervous thrill went 
through Italy when Caesar crossed the Alps, for the 
various states feared that the delicate balance of 
power, maintained by their antagonisms, would be 
disturbed; but this fear soon passed away. Still, 
the republic of Siena and the Pope remained appre 
hensive. Siena feared that her bishop, belonging, as 
he did, to the aristocratic order of her citizens, would 
use his great influence with Frederick to destroy 
her liberty, and Nicholas dreaded that Frederick 
would use his projected alliance with the Pope s 
feudatory (the King of Naples, uncle of Frederick s 
prospective bride) to the disadvantage of the Holy 
See. ^Eneas had no small difficulty in persuading 
Nicholas that his fears were groundless. 1 Even so, 
the Papal legates compelled Frederick to take an 
oath that he would neither issue edicts nor administer 
in any way during his stay in Rome. But the royal 
progress through Italy proved to be a mere harmless, 
antiquated parade. Poggio spoke of Caesar as the 
Imperial puppet. Frederick swallowed all affronts 
to his authority, and gave himself up to the enjoy 
ment of the pageants provided for his amusement. 

1 J&n. Silvius, Hist. Fred, apud Kollar, ii. 187. 


He avoided Milan, where the usurper, Sforza, reigned, 
and passed through Venetia, Ferrara, and Siena. 
When he arrived at Rome, he excited the derision 
of the citizens by exhibiting an unkingly interest in 
the wrecks of time, and, on his return journey 
through Venice, he achieved contempt by going 
about the city in disguise, to haggle with the shop 
keepers and purchase fancy- wares at prices that were 
not Imperial. 

-^Eneas was sent on to Leghorn to await the arrival 
of the Princess Leonora. He had to wait a wearisome 
while, for the Portuguese fleet took no less than one 
hundred and four days to reach Leghorn. At last 
it arrived with the bride-elect (February 2, 1452) 
a strong force of galleys with two thousand soldiers 
aboard ; for corsairs rendered the Mediterranean 
unsafe. Now, the Portuguese ambassador stood on 
punctilio, and refused to entrust his charge to any 
one of less rank than the Imperial bridegroom. He 
and ^Eneas argued the question for more than a fort 
night, and at last the matter was referred to the 
princess herself, who sensibly refused to be the 
victim of ceremony, and replied that she accepted 
the arrangement made by her future husband. On 
February 24, ./Eneas escorted Leonora to Siena, where 
the citizens had been amusing themselves and the 
Emperor with splendid entertainments, though they 
almost disregarded the claims of his well-nigh 
exhausted purse, and gave him but a small donation. 
One is surprised to learn that, when the phlegmatic 
Caesar saw his bride in the distance, he turned pale, 
for she seemed such a little doll, but a nearer view 
convinced him that she was of average height, really 


lovely, and that her bearing was sufficiently regal ; 
and then his colour came back, and his stolid face 
beamed, for he knew that his envoys had not deceived 
him. We are told that her beauty paled before her 
mental endowments/ but we must remember this is 
said of a princess. The maiden was sixteen years 
old, with an open brow, black, sparkling eyes, a very 
white neck, and she blushed in a delicate, becoming 

The comely ladies of Siena (and where is woman 
hood more gracious?) ascended platforms, indulged 
in stately dances, and recited poetical compliments 
to the princess, and other compositions in praise of 
love and beauty ; but the Portuguese courtiers con 
ducted themselves so as to outrage their proud sense 
of the proprieties, and they retired from the scene 
with due dignity. .Eneas showed himself at his 
best in witty jest and sprightly conversation. 

From Siena the cavalcade proceeded to Viterbo, 
where, according to antique usage, the mob claimed 
their perquisites and tried to snatch the rich panoply 
that was held over the Emperor. He seized a lance 
and fought his way to the hostelry, not without 
receiving some blows. 

At last they reached Monte Mario. Frederick was 
usually impassive, but he looked down from the brow 
of the hill on the classic ruins and Christian basilicas 
of Rome with emotion. Can we wonder ? For Rome 
garners the ages as they pass and folds them peace 
fully in her bosom ; she has seen eras depart as so 
many morning mists ; change may wound, but cannot 
dissolve her, for she is undying ; time is the record 
of her fiats, and these have moulded the world. Even 


the rude German knights exclaimed that the sight 
of the ancient city repaid the journey. Turning to 
^Eneas, the king asked him many questions, and 
then, Methinks the time will come when you will 
be a cardinal, said he, nor will your good fortune 
cease with that ; you will rise still higher ; the chair 
of St. Peter awaits you. Have care that men do not 
deride you when you reach it/ * Alas ! the Emperor- 
elect had proved how vain is human dignity when 
divested of power. 

As they approached the city the cardinals came 
forth to meet them, and Frederick was told that this 
was an unprecedented honour, but JEneas thought 
of the time when the Pope himself used to advance 
and give welcome ; still all earthly power is subject 
to vicissitude. 2 According to custom, the king 
spent the night outside the walls at the house of 
a Florentine banker, while ^Eneas visited Nicholas 
to dispel his fears. It is wiser to fall into the error 
of unjustified suspicion than into that of over-con 
fidence, replied the Pontiff. 

Next day Caesar and his bride-elect entered the 
city. Already we note the vulgar side of the Renais 
sance in its love of personal display. Leonora s horse 
had trappings of cloth-of-gold, she wore a mantle of 
the same costly material, and a great gold necklace 
encircled her white neck. Frederick s raiment, with 
its jewels, was valued at two hundred thousand 
ducats. The clergy and nobility awaited them at 
the gates, with the Prefect of Rome, who bore a 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 

2 The greater part of this account and of what follows concerning the 
coronation is taken from ^neas Silyius s History of Frederick III. 



naked sword. Three thousand Papal horse and two 
hundred Papal foot, under the guise of a guard of 
honour, followed the German knights and soldiery, 
prepared for any sudden attack or emergency. When 
the King arrived at St. Peter s he dismounted, and 
was conducted by the cardinals to the Pope, whose 
foot he kissed and to whom he rendered a lump of 
gold. The Pope presented him first with his hand, 
and then with his cheek, to kiss, as Eugenius had 
done to ^Eneas. Then the Mediaeval Caesar knelt, 
and the descendant of the Fisherman blessed him 
and made him sit by his side. 1 ^Eneas says that 
never before had an Emperor received such a friendly 
greeting from a Pope. On March 16, Frederick 
received the historic Iron Crown of Lombardy, which 
contains a piece of the true Cross ; for he would not 
take it in the dukedom, since Sforza was a usurper 
there. ^Eneas laughed to himself at the title, c King 
of the Romans/ for that became extinct with Tarquin, 
until the Germans revived and applied it to their 
own German king. During the next three days 
Frederick was busy seeing the sights of Rome and 
holding diplomatic interviews with Nicholas concern 
ing what service they could render one another ; but 
the Pope set his face dead against a council. On 
the 19th, the Imperial Coronation took place. Two 
platforms were erected outside the old basilica of 
St. Peter s, one being for the Emperor and the other 
for his bride. Here Frederick took his oath, and 
was then admitted to the College of Canons, and he 
donned the Imperial robe, which ^Eneas thought looked 

1 Enekel, quoted by Pastor, History of the Papacy, English trans., 
ii. 15. 


rather old and shabby. Then both he and Leonora 
were anointed on the shoulder and right arm. The 
crowning and marriage took place in the church, 
and the newly-wedded pair returned to their respec 
tive platforms to hear Mass. ^Eneas remarks that 
the crown on Frederick s head was supposed to be 
that of Charlemagne, but he knew better, for he 
noticed that it bore the Bohemian lion, and was 
therefore not older than Charles iv. s time. Then 
the Pope and Emperor walked, hand-in-hand, a little 
way, and the Pope mounted his horse, and Frederick 
held the reins for a short while. A procession then 
formed and traversed the city, the Pope giving Caesar 
the Golden Rose 1 on the way. On the road back 
to the Vatican, at the bridge in front of the tomb 
of Hadrian, Frederick dubbed three hundred knights, 
much to the amusement of ^Eneas, for they were ill 
qualified to be Imperial riders, and Italy was not a 
land where the institutions of chivalry flourished. 

On March 24, the bridal pair set out for Naples, 
where the bride s uncle, Alfonso, had prepared great 
festivities ; but ^Eneas was left in charge of the lad 
Ladislas, Frederick s ward. In the dead of night he 
was summoned to attend the Pope, who informed him 
that a plot to carry off his charge had been discovered. 
Precautions were taken at once to keep him secure, 
the very cardinals being forbidden to take the young 

1 The Rose, of wrought gold, set with gems and blessed by the Pope on 
the Fourth Sunday in Lent with certain ceremonies of ancient date but 
obscure meaning, is mentioned in the eleventh century. Its first recipient 
was the licentious Joanna of Naples (1366), and since then it has been 
sent to many royal and dubious personages, including Isabella of Spain 
and Louis Napoleon in the last generation. But the custom of sending a 
few shavings from St. Peter s chair, set in gold, is as old as Gregory the 
Great (see S. Greg., ed. 1705, lib. ii. 648, 796, and 1031). 


prince out hunting with them, and, on hearing the 
news, the King hurried back from Naples. 

When Frederick was on the point of leaving Rome, 
./Eneas, on his behalf, thanked the Pope and cardinals 
for their hospitality at an open consistory, and added 
that another emperor would have insisted on a coun 
cil, but Frederick was convinced that the Pope and 
his Curia were the best council. The truth was that 
Frederick was compelled to be the obedient servant 
of the Pope, for Austria, Hungary, and Moravia were 
in open rebellion against him, and they and Milan 
were intriguing with France. But the submission 
was by no means unacceptable to ^Eneas in his 
change of view as to Papal claims. He, almost alone 
of any European statesmen, saw the peril to Europe 
that arose from the dissensions of Christians while 
the Turk pursued his career almost unchecked, and 
how great was the need of complete union if he were 
to be hurled out of Europe. On April 26, the Emperor 
and Empress rode forth from Rome, and ^Eneas 
accompanied them, bearing with him a commission to 
act as Papal Nuncio in Bohemia. 

^Eneas tells us that, though Leonora of Portugal 
was wedded to Frederick, she had not become his 
wife; he wished the consummation of marriage to 
take place in Germany, for he was a formal man and 
insisted on the punctilious observance of ceremony. 1 
The maiden was unhappy, for she thought her husband 
indifferent to her, and she expressed her view with the 
customary frankness of ladies in the fifteenth century. 

1 More than a century later, in 1579, Guglielmo n., Duke of Mantua, 
requested that the consummation of marriage between Alfonso n., Duke of 
Ferrara, and his daughter Margherita should be postponed until she entered 
Ferrara. See the author s Tasso and His Times, pp. 240, 241. 


For some time her uncle, Alfonso, prayed in vain that 
the consummation might take place, but at last he 
induced Frederick to give way. According to German 
custom, the Emperor ordered the marriage-bed to be 
prepared, and, in the presence of the King of Naples, 
the courtiers, and the bride s maids-of-honour, both 
he and Leonora being fully attired, the Empress 
mounted the bridal couch and the Emperor lay by 
her side and solemnly kissed her. Leonora s ladies, 
who had no knowledge of German customs, became 
very much alarmed, thinking they would be put to 
shame, and protested vigorously, while Alfonso did 
not disguise his amusement. Such/ says ^Eneas, 
was the custom of German princes. 1 At the desire 
of the Portuguese ladies, the bridal bed had been con 
secrated with holy water ; but the following night, 
when the marriage was to be consummated, Frederick, 
who thought the couch might have been poisoned or 
placed under some necromantic spell, ordered it to be 
changed for another. 

1 The ceremony was a publication of the marriage whereby it became 
indisputable, and was even employed in marriage by proxy. 




FREDERICK returned to Germany to find it in full 
revolt. His ally, the Pope, threatened the rebels 
with excommunication, and the menace was treated 
with contempt. Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians 
were ready to unite with French and demand a 
Council ; Frederick was powerless to resist. The 
Papacy became seriously alarmed, for it depended on 
Germany for a large part of its revenues, which now 
came sparingly from other countries. If Germany 
were to follow the lead of France and establish a 
national church, the Pope and Curia would be 
reduced to penury. A General Council might limit 
authority, but a German * Pragmatic Sanction/ similar 
to that of Bourges, would be followed by the decay 
of Catholic organisation ; if supplies were cut off, 
Catholicism could not continue to exist. For, as 
with any other state, the entire ecclesiastic system of 
the Papacy, its hierarchical ordinances, and all the 
principles on which its universal government is con 
ducted, cannot endure if they be deprived of the 
resources by which they are fed. Heresies without 
end will flourish, and all shadow of obedience will 
disappear in general religious anarchy. 


pointed out to Frederick that he could not 
keep his ward, Ladislas, for ever, and it is probable 
that he advised him to bend before the storm. The 
young king was released, and ^Eneas was despatched, 
with two other envoys, to a diet held at Vienna 
during the winter of 1452-3. It was a stormy 
assembly. One day, when the Emperor was taking 
private counsel of ^Eneas, Cusa and the Bishop of 
Eichstadt, Albert of Brandenburg rushed into the 
chamber and loudly abused everybody present, declar 
ing that he cared not a jot for Emperor or Pope. It 
is the common fault of princes/ remarks ./Eneas, that, 
being brought up among inferiors in rank, who are 
ready to applaud everything they say, when they 
come to mingle with their equals, they will brook no 
reproof, but fly into a rage and lose all self-control. 1 
Later on, when the Emperor had asked one of his 
counsellors to obtain an opinion from the princes, 
Albert took the envoy by the shoulders and thrust 
him out of the room, exclaiming, Are you a prince 
then, that you come in among princes ? ./Eneas 
found his old enemy, Heimburg, at the diet, who 
bitterly opposed him, but he concocted a crucial 
dispute, and triumphed so far as to get the princes 
to postpone its discussion to another diet. 

It was now that ./Eneas made one of his ablest and 
most powerful speeches. The Austrians, said he, 
have taken up the same position as the Waldensian 
heretics ; nay, they are no better than the Saracens. 
For, in their pride, they say, " What is the Pope to 
us ? Let him say his Masses ; we rely on our swords." 
They demand a Council. Is the Pope, then, guilty 

1 ;En. Silvius, Hist. Fred. III., apud Kollar, ii. 417. 


of heresy or schism, or has he altered the government 
of the Church ? Councils ! Why, I saw cooks and 
stablemen sitting with bishops at Basel, and giving 
laws to the Church. And, in your wisdom, you will 
appeal from an ignorant to an instructed Pope. That 
is to say, you divide the Pope into two parts, and 
appeal from one half of him to the other. It is a 
device worthy of Plato s Republic, but not to be 
found in practical life. And I fear you will not get a 
Council either, for it depends on the Pope whether it 
shall be summoned, and it will be a score of years, or 
perhaps a century, before he does so ; for he must 
judge when it is expedient and desirable. You talk 
of Councils every ten years. Why, the last sat for 
twenty ! I wish that the times were ripe for a 
Council, and this is the Pope s desire also ; then the 
dreams of these men would soon be dispelled. They 
appeal to a universal Church, that is to say to men 
of every station, to women and children, as well as 
men ; to the laity no less than the clergy. In early 
times, when the body of believers was very small, 
such a thing was possible. But now, how can they 
all meet together, and how are they to appoint 
arbiters to resolve difficulties ? An appeal to the 
Last Judgement would show just as much practical 
sense. 1 

The oration produced no effect ; the progressive 
abasement of Frederick remained unchecked. But 
the princes were vastly more eager to aggrandise them 
selves than to reform the Church. Frederick, probably 
advised by ^Eneas, requested the Pope to withdraw 
his threats, and Nicholas consented to do so. 2 

1 Pii II. Orat, apud Mansi, i. 184 et seq. 2 Voigt, loc. cit., ii. 88. 


For many years the prescient eye of Piccolomini 
had perceived the danger of Christian dissension while 
the Moslem was steadily advancing his rule. As 
early as 1444, a letter to Campisio shows his eager 
interest in the Eastern campaign. At the Corona 
tion of Frederick, he burst forth into a passionate 
exhortation to resistance. He saw how Hungary 
remained the sole barrier of Christianity against the 
infidels, weakened as Central Europe was by inter 
necine struggles. 1 On May 29, 1453, the Crescent 
supplanted the Cross at St. Sophia. The news soon 
spread far and wide, and Europe learned with dismay 
that the last vestige of the Empire of Constantine 
had disappeared, and that the Turk had gained the 
firmest foothold in all Europe for further advance. 
Frederick professed, and doubtless felt, anxiety, but 
he sat at home doing nothing ; he amused himself 
by catching birds and attending to his garden/ 2 

But the grave danger stung ^Eneas the statesman 
into activity ; it aroused ^Eneas the scholar to the 
peril in which the priceless libraries of Greece stood. 
Now is the river of all culture choked, he wrote ; 
4 now has the fountain of the Muses ceased ; now 
are poetry and philosophy buried. Who cannot but 
mourn such an overthrow of letters ? Homer and 
Pindar and Menander and all the illustrious poets 
have died a second time. And great as this disaster 
is, one yet more terrible threatens the Christian faith, 
and a yoke may yet be put on Christian peoples. 3 
He wrote to the Pope, serving up excuses for Papal 

1 JEin. SiL, Ep. ad Johan. Campisium, May 5, 1444. Voigt, Collect. 
S. 390. 

2 Mathias Doring, quoted by Creighlon. 

3 ^n. SiL, Ep. ad Card. S. Petri ad Vincul., July 21, 1453. 


supineness that were only a veil for reproof and exhor 
tation. Historians of the Papacy/ said he, when 
they reach your time, will record this of you : 
" Nicholas, a Tuscan, was Pope for so many years. 
He recovered the patrimony of St. Peter from usurp 
ing tyrants; he united a divided Church; he built 
the Vatican and splendidly restored St. Peter s ; he 
canonised St. Bernardino of Siena ; he celebrated a 
Jubilee, and crowned Frederick in. But in his time 
Constantinople was taken by the Turk and plundered " 
(or, it may have to be written, " burned and razed to 
the ground ! "). For though you strove with all your 
might to give aid to the wretched city, you were 
unable to unite the Princes of Christendom in the 
defence of the Faith. The danger was over-stated, 
they replied ; the greedy Greeks exaggerated their 
peril to get money sent over. Your Holiness did 
your best : no blame can be laid at your door. Yet 
the ignorance of posterity will not fail to put the 
shame on you, when it shall be told that Constantinople 
was taken during your reign. Then ^Eneas goes on 
to urge him to summon a congress of princes. 1 He 
also writes to the cardinals : within a month Cap- 
ranica, Scarampo, Cusa, and Carvajal received stirring 
appeals from him ; 2 nor, this done, did he desist from 
repeated efforts to arouse them from their indifference 
and awaken them to the magnitude and imminence 
of the danger. Isidor of Russia, too, warned Nicholas 
that the Turk would be in Italy in eighteen months, 
unless the peace of Christendom could be secured. 

1 JEn. Sil, Ep. ad Sanct. Dom. Nich., July 12, 1453. 

2 See the letters addressed to the Cardinals, of Fermo, July 11 ; Aquileia, 
July 12 ; S. Pietro, July 21 ; S. Angelo, August 10. 


But ^Eneas had at heart a larger policy than the 
repulse of the Moslem even. He desired Christian 
union ; he perceived that the present was an unparal 
leled opportunity for the Pope to regain his prestige 
and to attempt the establishment of a new Pax Romana 
under the guidance of the theocracy. Nicholas pro 
claimed a universal peace, equipped a small fleet, and 
promised remission of sins to Crusaders ; 1 perhaps this 
was all he felt he could do in the face of so many 
difficulties that beset him at home and abroad. More 
over, the most eager of his desires was to embody the 
sublime truth of Christianity in the dazzling splendour 
of its chief see. 2 

However, an Augustinian friar, sent by Venice to 
her foe Sforza, the ruler of Milan, arranged a treaty 
at Lodi, and the Italian states, exhausted by war, 
agreed to a twenty -five years truce. Meanwhile 
./Eneas was urging the Emperor to convoke an Euro 
pean Congress. I have spoken much with Caesar 
about this disaster to the world/ he writes ; I find 
him well disposed, but wanting in power/ 3 He got 
Frederick s permission to appeal urgently to the Pope 
in his name. He entreated Nicholas as representative 
on earth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, from whom this 
movement proceeds, to write to kings, send legates, 
and warn and exhort all princes and states everywhere, 
to come in person or send delegates. Now, when the 
evil has only just happened, is the time for us to hasten 
and call a congress. Command all foes to make peace 
with each other, or, at least, to agree to a truce, while 

1 Raynaldus, Ad ann. 1453. 

2 See Manetti apud Muratori, E. I. , iii. 2. p. 945. 

3 ^n. Sil., Ep. ad Sand. Dom. Nick., August 11, 1453. 


they turn their arms against the foes of the Cross. 
If your Holiness were to throw heart and soul into 
the matter, there cannot be a doubt that many kings 
and princes would obey your call ; for zeal for God 
and the Faith is not dead. 1 But, the matter did 
not please the Apostolic Chair, ./Eneas tells us. Most 
likely Nicholas dreaded that such a meeting would 
give an opportunity for complaint ; for nothing is 
secure in that high vocation. The stir of a great 
assembly brings forth much : the supreme authority 
is unfriendly to innovation ; for discontent is encour 
aged when there is hope of change. 2 

Though ^Eneas wrote to Carvajal, Never have I, 
in my ten years service, spoken to Caesar so much as 
about this matter or found him listen so seriously, 3 
Frederick feared to face the Electors at a congress, 
and he refused to go, saying that he could not afford 
to sacrifice his own to general interests, nor did he 
find any one who was more eager for the good of others 
than for his own benefit. * However, he invited the 
princes of Europe to assemble or send delegates, and 
he nominated certain German princes to attend the 
congress, and sent ^Eneas to act as one of his deputies. 
The congress was brought about by the exertions of 
./Eneas, and to him, therefore, is due the honour of 
founding the first assemblage of European statesmen 
for a common object and the common good. But his 

1 ^En. Silvius, Ep. ad Sand. Dom. Nich., August 10, 1453. See also 
Weiss, A., Mn. 8. PiccoL als Papst Pius IL, sein Leben und Einfluss auf 
die literarische Cultur Deutschl. Graz, 1897, p. 34 et seq. 

2 See JEn. Silvius, De Ratesponensi Dieta, in appendix to Mansi, and his 
letter to Leonardo de Bentivogli, the Sienese ambassador at Venice, July 
5, 1454. 

3 JEn. Sil, Ep. ad Card. S. Angel, September 3, 1453. 

4 ^n. Sil., Orat., apud Mansi, iii. 9. Lucae, 1755-59. 


energies broke themselves against a barrier of indiffer 
ence and inertia. He carried an Imperial letter to 
Louis of Bavaria, and found him just ready to set out 
hunting. The Prince read the missive, and said he 
very much appreciated such a compliment, but he was 
young and inexperienced, and would not, therefore, 
accept the Emperor s invitation, but he would send 
representatives. Would ^Eneas join the hunt with 
him ? The dogs were barking meanwhile, and every 
body was cursing the envoys for hindering their sport. 
^Eneas and his friends declined the invitation, where 
upon the huntsmen wound their horns and the Prince 
and his friends galloped away. 1 Cardinal Cusa, when 
he drew near to Regensburg, where the Congress was 
to be held, asked whether he should go on, and who 
would pay his expenses. The state of Mantua never 
received an invitation ; that of Siena got one too late ; 
Ferrara and Lucca sent excuses ; the other Italian 
states, England and Scotland did not reply. Charles 
of France was jealous of Burgundy, and he wrote to 
Nicholas that he would take up arms if Germany did ; 
Christian of Denmark regretted that the notice was 
too short, also, he was occupied with a war against 
Norway, but when the moment came for action he 
would be found ready ; Poland sent envoys, but only 
to protest against the Teutonic knights ; the King of 
Portugal was ready, but his people murmured. The 
truth was that the feudal system was breaking down ; 
many lands were exhausted by war, and most rulers 
were busy consolidating their own possessions and 
establishing a firmer rule. Venice feared Sforza, the 

1 jEn. Sil., De Eatesponensi Dieta, in Appendix to Orationes Pii //., 
ed. Mansi, part iii. pp. 5-13. 


formidable occupant of the adjoining state, and was 
anxious to preserve her commerce with the East ; so 
she made a treaty with Mahommed; and Genoa, 
weakened by faction, gave her Eastern possessions 
into the keeping of the Bank of St. George. Only 
Philip of Burgundy was enthusiastic for a crusade, 
and he was a hot-headed windbag. He prepared for 
the Holy War by an allegorical pageant, a banquet, 
and a dance, and, laying his hand on an emblematical 
live peacock, vowed to the All Seer that he would 
turn the Turk out of Europe. The peacock, led by 
two charming maidens, had for its companions an 
elephant, a Paynim giant, and one Oliver de la 
Marche (who tells the tale) playing the part of 
the Captive Church. Oliver wept and groaned and 
prayed for succour, with interludes of the famous 
music of Flanders. Philip promised to send sixty 
thousand men ; and, so eager did he seem, that he was 
asked to allow the Congress to assemble at his castle. 
But ^Eneas tells us that his way of life was not to 
rise until noon, then to attend to some few affairs of 
state before dinner, dine, take an afternoon nap, do 
a few gymnastic exercises, go to supper and eat on 
until very late; then listen to music and entertain 
himself with dancing : more serious business would 
have quite put him out. Yet he came to the Diet. 
^Eneas made a stirring speech, but, as it was in Latin, 
most of the hearers did not understand it. The 
Bishop of Gurck translated the oration, but it pro 
duced very little effect. The Congress passed brave 
resolutions which were committed to parchment, and 
^Eneas thanked the Duke of Burgundy for his 
enthusiasm in a cause in which his ancestors had 


distinguished themselves. Then the assembly broke 
up (May 1454). 

He was bitterly disappointed. A week later he 
wrote to a friend : e My desire is greater than my 
hope. For I cannot persuade myself that any good 
result will follow. You will ask, why ? My reply 
must be, What ground do you find for hope ? 
Christendom has no head that all men will obey. 
Neither Pope nor Emperor receives what is due to 
him ; for reverence and obedience are nowhere to 
be found. Pope and Emperor have become mere 
dignified but empty titles ; they are no more effective 
than two impotent pictures in a frame. Each state 
has its own ruler ; each ruler is dominated by his 
own particular interest. What eloquence could 
draw such dissentient, antagonistic powers together, 
and induce them to take up arms under a single 
standard ? And, if they could be gathered together 
in battle-array, who would have such temerity as to 
take the chief command ? What common plan of 
action could be devised ? What discipline could be 
enforced ? There are so very many different nations, 
and who could shepherd such a mixed flock? Who 
has command of the multitude of tongues they speak, 
or is able to deal with men of such widely different 
manners and character? Where is the mortal man 
that could bring England into accord with France, 
or Genoa with Aragon, or conciliate Germans, 
Hungarians, and Bohemians in their disputes ? Let 
a small army embark in the sacred cause and it will 
be annihilated by the Pay mm ; let a great host set 
forth and its internal enmities will destroy its 
organisation, and its end will be general ruin. Look 


where you will there are difficulties. Behold a true 
picture of Christendom as it stands. l Piccolomini 
had hoped for such another gathering as Clermont 
witnessed in the days of Peter the Hermit. But the 
rulers of Europe no longer aspired to become kings 
in Asia ; they were entirely occupied in making their 
rule effective at home. Enthusiasm for religion, 
too, chiefly animated the poorer classes, who had no 
great earthly expectations. 

The Imperial cause had become hopeless ; only com 
paratively unimportant services occupied Piccolomini s 
powers, and he knew his talents to be such that they 
could be employed more effectively and in a wider 
field. Moreover, though economical, he remained 
necessitous. He had been compelled to pay heavy 
fees to the Papacy on accepting his bishopric ; Siena 
was not a wealthy see, and he had to hire a sub 
stitute ; and he tells us that although Caesar was 
gracious in all other matters, he did not make him 
a sufficient allowance. 2 Rectitude in conduct is 
excellent/ he had written many years before, yet it 
must be confessed that it makes considerable differ 
ence whether it is observed in comfortable circum 
stances or in penury. 3 Hitherto, in spite of the 
homesickness that never left him, he had thought it 
well, for Frederick s sake and his own, that he should 
remain in Germany, and he loved power and position. 
The preceding year he had written to a relative who 
urged him to return to Italy : While I am with the 
Emperor, the Pope and cardinals yield me some little 

1 Letter to Leonardo de Bentivoglio, July 5, 1454. 

2 JEu. Sil., Ep. ad Henricum Senfstleben, January 22, 1454. 
8 ^En. Sil., Hist. Condi Basil, 1. ii. 


honour ; were I at Siena they would forget all about 
me. I know in how little esteem prelates are held 
by the Curia. Believe me, I made no mistake. I 
really cannot compliment you on your penetration in 
supposing that I should be more highly thought of if 
I dwelt nearer the Pope. The Roman Curia regards 
position, not the man. My place impresses them 
more than my personality. As an Italian prelate, 
beloved by Caesar, I occupy a unique position. 
Solely for that reason do I count for a little. If I 
once left the Imperial Court I should be unheeded ; 
and there s an end. l But it was clear now that the 
alliance between Emperor and Pope had achieved no 
great success ; that ^Eneas could do little more for 
his master, who was getting more discredited by the 
princes every day and was flouted by them on 
every occasion. He asked Frederick to dismiss him, 
but the Emperor found his services much too valuable, 
and refused the request. Frederick dared not go to 
the approaching diet, and he wished Jneas and the 
Bishop of Giirk to represent him there. 

When the next Diet was opened (October 1454) the 
Hungarian envoys declared that they would accept 
terms from the Turk if Christendom sent them no 
aid. Piccolomini rose, and addressed the Diet in 
words of burning eloquence. 2 Capistrano tells us 
that the speech was wonderful ; the subject was as 
exhaustively and prudently treated as it could be. 3 
It took two hours to deliver. But the Diet was 
imperturbable on such a point. It had assembled in 

1 ^En. Sil, Ep. ad G. Lollium, July 1, 1453. 

2 The speech is given in Mansi, i. p. 263. See Platina, Vita Pii II. 

3 See Capistrano apud Wadding, Annal. Minor., vi. p. 105. Komae. 


a hostile spirit, and only concerned itself with the 
local quarrels of Germany. With difficulty, u?Eneas 
extracted a promise from the princes of granting 
some small help towards a crusade. They said they 
could do nothing until peace was restored, however ; 
and since all were self-seekers, there was no hope 
of peace. They ranged themselves into two parties. 
The Pfalzgraf, egged on by Jacob, Bishop of Trier, 
led the one ; Albert of Brandenburg, the other. The 
Pfalzgraf won over Albert of Austria, by proposing 
to depose Frederick in his favour ; that done, a new 
Council should be summoned and ecclesiastical reform 
would follow. It was agreed that a new Diet should 
meet at Neustadt, in February 1455, ostensibly to 
discuss the projected crusade, but really to break 
up the alliance between the Pope and Emperor. It 
is strange to see how tradition still rendered such a 
combination alarming to the princes. ^Eneas wrote 
to Capistrano a letter that is filled with bitter irony. 
Bring your oratorical arms to bear on the princes 
at Neustadt, he says. There will be an amphitheatre 
put up where there shall be Circensian games, sur 
passing those of Caesar and Pompey. I do not 
know whether all the beasts will be those native to 
Germany, or whether ferae naturae will be brought 
from other countries ; but this land is well stocked 
with many different kinds of wild animals, and, 
perchance, Bohemia will provide the Beast of the 
Apocalypse. You can employ the Sword of your 
Mouth. On the most moderate forecast you will 
make a full bag, and every kind of animal will be 
in it. And, should you come triumphant out of the 
fray, having succeeded in vanquishing our vermin 


at home, we shall be at liberty to attack those 
abroad. l ^Eneas did not like the emotional methods 
of Capistrano, but the letter shows the friar to have 
been familiar with affairs and capable of appreciating 
witty satire. 

The Diet met. Everybody professed to be en 
thusiastic for a crusade ; everybody would be quite 
ready when everybody else was, but no one was 
willing to begin. The Archbishop of Trier then drew 
up a scheme designed to frighten Frederick into 
submission to the Electors. The Pope had promised 
a Council, and he had failed to keep his word ; a 
new Council must be insisted on ; Frederick must 
summon it, as the Pope would not. 2 The Emperor 
found himself on the horns of a dilemma. If he were 
to accede, he would yield the last vestige of his 
authority to the Electors ; if he were to refuse, they 
would withdraw their sanction to a crusade, and his 
impotence would be manifest to all Europe. But, 
in March 1455, Nicholas died, and the Emperor was 
provided with a plausible excuse for delaying his 
reply. The Archbishop of Trier, too, saw, in the 
election of a new Pope, the possibility of vindicating 
the liberties of the ecclesiastical Electors, of attain 
ing his own ends, and, possibly, of reforming the 
Church. Therefore, there was temporary truce. 

Silvius, Opera Omnia. Ed. Basil. Ep. 403. See also Wadding, 
loc. cit. y pp. 137-8. 

2 Creighton, M., History of the Papacy, iii. 153, ed. 1897. 




THE new Pope, Alfonso de Borja (Italianised into 
Borgia), who took the title of Calixtus in., was an 
old man of seventy- seven years. A Catalan, he came 
of a haughty, full-blooded, vigorous stock. He was 
grown feeble now, but he bore in his breast an 
hereditary hatred of the Mahommedans ; and the 
cardinals who elected him were little aware of how 
fiery and impetuous the aged can become who have 
only a few days left to fulfil their purposes. He 
registered, with his own hand, a solemn oath to 
pursue the Turk to his destruction, and he hung it 
in his bedchamber, that sleeping or waking, it might 
be with him. He tore the gold and silver from the 
altars of Eome, and melted them down to raise funds 
for a crusade. It may be judged that such an 
enthusiast did not spare his own possessions. The 
last silver salt-cellar went : Away with it, said he, 
take it for the crusade ; earthenware will do for me. 
Such enthusiasm for a cause that was very close to 
his own heart had no little attraction for ^Eneas. 

Jacob of Trier called on Frederick to obtain the 
removal of all the grievances of the German Church 
before he rendered obedience to the new Pope, 
took occasion to tell his master Frederick 


that it was idle for any prince to truckle in an 
attempt to please his people, for it is fickle and 
must not be allowed to take the reins. He and 
John Hinder bach, an eager reformer, were nominated 
as Imperial Ambassadors to Rome. They were 
detained at Venice, and reached the Apostolic city 
four months after the papal election. Voigt, with 
his usual venom, accuses Piccolomini of having sacri 
ficed the interests of Germany to his own personal 
ambition. Undoubtedly he did not consider that 
the true interests of Germany lay in the success of 
the Electors ; he wished for its unity, and believed 
in a central authority, both for secular and ecclesi 
astical polity. But Calixtus refused to consider any 
requests until Frederick had yielded his obedience. 
./Eneas gives a perfectly straightforward account of 
what happened in a letter which he and Hinderbach 
sent, in their conjoint names, to the Emperor. We 
found ourselves, he says, * placed in some perplexity 
by the Pope s reply. To depart without giving our 
obedience would set up a grievous scandal in Christen 
dom ; so we decided to yield our obedience and 
then proceed in doing what otherwise were im 
possible, that is, to present your petition/ l 

At a public consistory, JEneas earnestly urged a 
crusade against the Turk, but he wisely said nothing 
about the requirements of Germany. The reason of 
the omission was that he and Hinderbach were nego 
tiating privately with the Pope ; they found their 
pleadings unavailing, however, and probably ^Eneas s 
were only half-hearted. The Emperor was discredited 

1 Enea Silvio and J. Hinderbach to Frederick in., September 8, 1455, in 
Cugnoni, M. S. Piccolomini Opera, inedita, 121 sq. 1883. 


and no longer of much service to Calixtus, and, more 
over, he was too closely bound to the Papacy to 
withdraw from the alliance. 

Hinderbach returned to Germany, but ^Eneas 
remained at Home. Frederick knew that ^Eneas could 
do him more service there than in Germany, especially 
as the Caesar could get him raised to the cardinalate. 
The Red Hat was now the object of JEneas s ambition. 
The Emperor plied the Pope with requests for his 
promotion, but Calixtus was bent on advancing his 
own nephews to the Curia. 

To Piccolomini, more than to any one, is due the 
honour of having carried the torch of Humanism to 
Germany. 1 He found the scholars of that country 
pursuing dull scholastic learning and dreary subtleties 
of civil and canon law. They were dead to all really 
liberal influences. I have to forsake the muse and 
stick to my desk and the coffers of the king/ he 
wrote, for kings are wholly ignorant of the muse, 
and the barbarian has nought to do with the turning 
of a line. All that is buried, whatever else is pur 
sued here, and there is no pursuit of the humanities 
outside Italy. Do you know how they think of 
culture ? They class our speeches and poems, which 
really have some Latinity, with all kinds of stuff. 2 
But his sympathetic nature and the breadth of his 
understanding enabled him to take a real interest in 
the rude physical exercises of the north, and he wrote 
a treatise on The Nature and Care of Horses, which 

1 See Weiss, A., dEneas S. Piccolomini als Papst Pius II., sein Leben 
und Einflnss auf die literarische Cultur Deutschlands. Graz, 1897. 

2 ^En. Sil., Ep. ad Comitem Galeatium d Archo. November 15, 1443. 


he sent in the form of a letter to Wilhelm von Stein 
(July 4, 1444). He encouraged the young nobles to 
try their hand at letters, and even after his arrival in 
Eome he did not forget them. You write very well/ 
he told Ludwig, Duke of Bavaria, and that is praise 
worthy in a prince of your rank. 1 In spite of the 
illiteracy, the ungainly manners, and semi- barbarous 
bearing of the Teuton, he perceived his high capacity 
for culture. Soon after his arrival at Vienna, he 
wrote to a German friend : I have hope for the 
future of Germany. Formerly she bore learned sons, 
and, even now, there are many skilled teachers of the 
newer learning, who are raising the seed. 2 He told 
Heimburg that, even as Italy raised herself after the 
incursion of the barbarians, so Germany may achieve 
art and learning. 3 Germany was a singularly rich 
country, as we learn from a work that ^Eneas wrote 
at a later date. 4 The material conditions were there 
fore favourable to her development. He carried on a 
large correspondence with many Germans, and this 
did much to arouse an enthusiasm for letters ; but, 
although there is a freshness, a vast amount of 
observation, much penetrative insight, and a wealth 
of broad human sympathy displayed in ^Eneas s writ 
ings, characteristics very unusual with the humanists 
of his period his education had been defective, and 
his prolonged residence in a country where pure litera 
ture was so little pursued and elegant Latin so little 
cultivated did much to corrupt his style. Such, at 

1 Up. dated July 15, 1457. 

2 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Gug. de Stein, June 1, 1444. 

3 JSn. Sil., Ep. ad Greg. Heimburg, January 13, 1449. 

4 JEtH. Sil., De ritUj situ et conditione theutonie descriptio. Lyptzick, 


least, was the judgment of a friend and contem 
porary. 1 It fails, indeed, to be as faithfully Ciceronian 
as ^Eneas desired it to be, but it usually secures the 
interest of the reader, and often it is as full of life 
and directness as the most brilliant and animated 
conversation ; it is marked by breadth of thought and 
ripeness of judgement, and dominated by the per 
sonality of the man. 

In 1449, soon after the death of Schlick, he had a 
dream so vivid that he wrote to Carvajal giving him 
an account of it. 2 The dead Chancellor appeared to 
him, and, conducting him to heaven (where he saw 
Eugenius, the Emperor Albert, and many of the 
illustrious dead), expatiated on the vanity of earthly 
life. The impression of this dream was so deep and 
lasting, that, in 1453, it suggested a work full of 
poetic fancy and reminiscences of Dante and Petrarch. 
It is called The Dialogue? He is conducted by St. 
Bernardino of Siena to the kingdom of the dead, and 
Piero de Noceto joins the twain. They meet St. John 
the Evangelist and the prophet Elijah, Constantine 
the Great, Vegio the poet, Valla the humanist, and 
the Almighty Himself appears. Dreams and the 
Chase, Free Will and Predestination, Heaven and 
History are among the subjects discussed. In fact a 
series of short essays are strung together in a poetic 
form. He also wrote a work In Praise of Homer (of 
whom his learned contemporaries knew but little and 
uEneas still less). His interest in northern nations 
induced him to epitomise Jordanes s History of the 

1 Campanus, Vita Pii II., apud Muratori, in. part. ii. 

2 Ma. Sil., Ep. ad Card. Carvajal, November 13, 1449. 

3 Enee Silvii Piccolominei qui et Pius Secundus fuit : Dialog. Rome, 


Goths, which he had come across in a German monas 
tery, 1 and later, when he became Pope, he recast the 
Decades of Flavio Biondo for popular use. 2 It is a 
work that deals with Roman antiquities, in which he 
was deeply interested. Busily employed as he was 
by Frederick, numerous as were the toilsome lega 
tions on which he was sent, he found time to write a 
history of the reign of that monarch, which he began 
in 1452, and continued to work at for three years. 3 
From time to time he added a new study to his 
Biographies of Illustrious Men, a remarkable series of 
character-sketches of the foremost people of his time. 4 
A letter to the Chancellor of Hungary gives an 
account of the Diet of Ratisbon, written three months 
after its close. 5 And he wrote a second account of 
the Council of Basel from his changed position in 
relation to it in 1446. 6 All these works exhibit such 
encyclopaedic interest and such diversity of talent as 
almost to justify the eulogium of his friend Campano, 
who exclaims that Nature gathered up the distinc 
tions of very many different men in this one per 
sonality. 6 No man of his time was more brilliant as 
an orator; he prepared his speeches carefully, held 
his audience spell-bound, and however earnest in his 
exhortations, never failed to appreciate the effect he 
produced; he repeatedly records the delight he ex- 

1 Mn. Silvius, Historia Gothorum, apud Duellium, Biga librorum rari- 
orum. 1730. 

2 Pii II. Opera, Omnia. Basel, 1551. P. 144, et seq. The work was 
written after Biondo s death, which took place in 1463. 

3 Die Geschichte Kaiser Friedrichs III. von ^Eneas Silvius : Uebersetzt 
von T. Ilgen, 1889-90. 

4 Mn. Silvius, De Viris Miatt sua Claris Opusculum, in Literarischcr 
Verein-Bibliotek, etc., Bd. 1. Stuttgart, 1843, etc. 

5 Mansi, loc. cit., p. 1, et seq. 6 Campano, Ep. 1. 1. 


perienced at his later successes in a work The Com- 
mentaries that he intended to be a record for 
posterity of his pontificate. Certainly no man of his 
age made so many speeches on such important sub 
jects before such distinguished audiences, and, surely, 
no man was ever so chatty, so friendly, and so singu 
larly incautious a correspondent ; no man could count 
so many intimate friends ; certainly no wise man ever 
confided in them so completely. Many of them were 
Germans, and he never lost his interest in the pro 
gress of German letters. As Pope he had much to do 
with the foundation of the Universities of Basel and 
Ingoldstadt, as well as with those of Nantes and 

A year after his arrival in Rome, ^Eneas went, for 
the second time, on an embassy to the Court of 
Naples. There was comparative peace in Italy, for 
the more important states had found out the ad 
vantages of balance of power. Siena, Florence, and 
Milan were in alliance, and Jacopo Piccinino, the 
son of that Niccolo Piccinino, to whom ^Eneas had 
been sent by the Bishop of Novara, twenty-one years 
before, found himself and his mercenary band unem 
ployed. Piccinino led his condottieri into Sienese 
territory and occupied Ortobello. It was generally 
believed that he contemplated reducing the whole 
state and constituting himself its ruler. It was 
further suspected, not without good reason, that he 
was supported by Alfonso, King of Naples. Italian 
history yielded many examples of mercenary captains 
who had thus overthrown the liberty of wealthy but 
unwarlike states, and the government of Siena, a 
body of traders, by no means peaceful, but quite 


unskilled in scientific warfare, sent to their bishop, 
asking him to plead with Alfonso for the withdrawal 
of Piccinino. 

The bishop and other ambassadors set out for 
Naples early in 1456, where the king detained them 
four months, during which JEneas took the oppor 
tunity to visit Baiae and Cumae, Salerno and Amalfi, 
the reputed tomb of Virgil, and all the places in the 
neighbourhood that bear classic memories or preserve 
actual relics of antiquity. When not so occupied or 
when not in what seemed a hopeless attendance at 
the Court, he was busy writing his commentaries on 
Antonio Panormita, a collection of apophthegms and 
anecdotes, many of which he attributed to Alfonso. 1 
It is a piece of delicate court-flattery, but if it was 
intended to get that royal favour which Panormita 
(Beccadelli) had enjoyed, or to incline the royal ear 
favourably to the prayer of Siena, it failed. ^Eneas 
was handicapped in that from the beginning, for 
Calixtus was unwilling to let him go at all. 2 At 
last Alfonso consented to recall Piccinino and employ 
him in the Turkish war, but only on the payment 
by the Republic of forty thousand ducats, to be 
divided between himself and the Pope. Alfonso 
was an extremely sagacious ruler, and quite the 
equal of JEneas in diplomacy ; if not a scholar 
himself, he was a dilettante in scholarship and a great 
patron of men of letters. Both men showed their 
best sides to one another and interchanged agreeable 
compliments. The intercourse resulted, not merely 
in the commentaries on Beccadelli, but in a remark - 

1 Commentarii in Lilros Antonii Panormitae poetae de dictis et factis 
Alfonsi regis. 2 PH II. Comment., I. 1, p. 26. 


able History of Bohemia, which ^Eneas wrote for 
Alfonso, a work giving an animated and even exciting 
account of the onslaught of the troops of united 
Europe on the Bohemian heretics and the heroic 
resistance they encountered. It was first printed 
at Rome in 1475, and since then there have been 
repeated editions. Here, as in the History of 
Frederick, ^Eneas Silvius differs from the chroniclers 
of his time by his keen perception of historical causes, 
thus forestalling, in some measure, the scientific 
methods of Machiavelli and Guicciardini. 

All the works mentioned are rich in those pregnant 
phrases in the making of which ^Eneas was hardly 
less happy than Bacon. The following are from the 
commentaries on Beccadelli : 

* Nothing is ever so well said that it could not be 
still better put. l 

* It is a trifle more difficult for kings to become 
philosophers than for those in a private station. l 

The wise, if they get ever so small a reward, 
withdraw from the perils of the court and are content. 
For courtiers are like sows that are fattened to pro 
vide a feast for their master ... he who, having 
become rich, remains, does not do so out of gratitude ; 
either he cannot leave or he is still greedy. l 

An unlettered king is a crowned ass/ * 

It is all-important that a war should begin well, 
for the end of a war often lies in its beginning/ J 

He is a poor ruler who cannot dissimulate/ * 

[A remark very characteristic of the fifteenth 

Silvius, Comment, in Panorm., 1. 1. 


A miracle should always be regarded with mis 
trust. 1 

Men, who deem themselves reasonable beings, 
will often bow down before princes that are stupider 
than beasts. 1 

* Princes slay their foes when they spare them : 
give them a post and they are converted into friends/ 2 
Life is a play, with death for the last act/ 2 
The elected ruler has no worthy successor/ 3 
Kingcraft and self-indulgence cannot occupy the 
same throne/ 3 

The apophthegms spread through his voluminous 
writings are often remarkable and very profuse. 
The following are a few, taken at random : 

Act so that God may approve or that you could 
repeat what you do in the sight of men/ 

No boldness is ever quite safe, and no injury lasts 
for ever/ 

Laws are not everlasting/ 

c Nothing more wobbling than a lie/ 

As you go on living, so will you die/ 

The mob always prefers utility to honour : honour 
requires a pecuniary prop/ 

Not the morning nor the evening star is more 
beautiful than the wisdom one can garner from 

Patience is the best remedy/ 

Fortune blunders along with blinded eyes ; she 
gives most of her gifts to the least worthy/ 

Time rectifies and judges all things/ 

1 tineas Silvius, Comment, in Panorm., 1. 2. 2 LOG. cit., 1. 3. 

3 Loc. c*t. t I 4. 


You cannot plunder virtue/ 

1 When the guilty man is condemned without trial, 
the innocent man is not safe. 

The king is given to the nation, not the nation to 
the king/ 

Men complain of the burden of power, but do not 
relinquish it. 

Judgement in belief follows desire. 

The Majesty of God does nothing at random, 
nothing in haste. We are stumblers in the dark ; our 
discernment is infinitely small. 

In the direction of men, the transformation of 
states, the jurisdiction of empire, how feeble is 
human effort, how overwhelming the divine appoint 

God himself cannot escape censure. 

Every age is blind if it is without literature. 

No book is so stupid that one cannot draw some 
thing out it. 

That is no state wherein there is civil discord. 

Rarely do pious men have pious heirs. 

Human affairs have small beginnings, but, once 
afoot, they run. 

( Woman is an indomitable creature ; no reins will 
hold her back. 

Every delight is dull without wine. 

It is not wise to scribble about those that can 

You must not go to courts for holiness. 

We must deal with men according to their 

c Truth may go under with men, but not with 


You cannot tell the whole truth either to a tyrant 
or the people. 

* Man is so desirous of fame that he would sooner 
part with riches or a kingdom/ 

[Another characteristic fifteenth-century 

Men and their laws are on the side of the suc 

Oftimes, in aiding another, one contrives one s 
own ruin. 

A gentleman (generosus spiritus) cannot do a mean 

It is human to sin, angelic to reform, and devilish 
to persist/ 

In conversation, also, ^Eneas exhibited similar 
sparkling wit and shrewdness : Platina gives a long 
list of more or less original proverbs with which he 
was wont to point his remarks. 1 

1 Creighton has translated these in his History of the Papacy, vol. iii. 
p. 338, ed. of 1897. The originals, as well as a collection of Gnomologiae, 
will be found in the Basel edition of Pius s works (1551). See Enee Siluii 
Senensis Poete Prouerbia : Kb ln, 1475, part of which is preserved in the 
British Museum. 




THE Emperor and King Ladislas of Hungary had 
petitioned that ^Eneas should be raised to the purple. 
Fame was his, but he remained necessitous, and power 
belonged to rank. Men of powerful intelligence who 
are also good-natured and good-tempered are rare, 
and Piccolomini possessed all these qualities. He 
skilfully steered clear of party, took care to offend no 
one, and spared no pains to make himself agreeable 
a task which, to him, was not difficult. Under 
ordinary circumstances, admission to the Sacred 
College would soon have been granted to so able a 
diplomatist and one likely to prove so agreeable a 
colleague. And Calixtus was inclined to favour the 
man so eager for a crusade. But nepotism was the 
Pope s besetting weakness, and, instead of more 
worthy candidates, he raised two of his nephews to 
the purple, to the indignation of the Sacred College. 
They organised a stubborn resistance to all the Pope s 
projects; but, at last, December 18, 1456, Piccolo- 
mini s name was among those of six new cardinals. 
The list also contained the name of Castiglione. ./Eneas 
took the title of Cardinal-Presbyter of S. Sabina. 
Never have you been in such a conflict and issued 
victor from it, he wrote to Carvajal. The hinges 


Pintiiricchio, Siena. 


(cardines) were so rusted that they would not turn, 
and Calixtus had to use battering rams and every 
sort of military engine to force the portal. 1 He also 
wrote a letter of thanks to the Emperor for his 
services. I will show all men, he said, that I am 
a Cardinal of Germany rather than Italy. I shall 
work for you as before, with no abatement of zeal. 
For I shall spare no effort, no pains, on behalf of your 
Majesty, the Sacred Imperial rule, the distinguished 
House of Hapsburg, and all that lies nearest your 
heart. So far as my efforts may serve you, your 
interests will never be overlooked. 2 For ^Eneas the 
true interest of Germany was the support of the power 
of its king. The Church in Germany needed reform, 
but it clamoured for more than he conceived to be 
justly due to it ; he knew how personal and wholly 
secular were the ambitions that its demands dis 
guised, and he did not believe that practical and 
desirable reforms could be effected by ways that 
would derogate from the authority, as yet incompletely 
established, of the Roman See. 

Soon after his election secret information reached 
the Curia that the German princes were preparing 
to follow the example of France and establish a 
national church. Jacob of Trier had died in May 
1456, and the Pfalzgraf, in league with the Arch 
bishop-Electors of Mainz and Koln, strove to put one 
of their partisans in the vacant chair. A great 
victory, gained over the Turk at Belgrade, had 
released Germany from immediate danger, and the 
demand of Calixtus for tenths to finance a crusade 

1 ^ln. Sil., Ep. ad Johan. Card. Pav ; Ep. 195, ed. Basil, 1551. 
8 ^En. Sil., Ep., December 22, 1457. 



was resisted, and enabled the princes to pursue 
their personal interests under the rallying cries of 
Papal extortion and Church reform. The defence 
of the Church was entrusted to ^Eneas. 

He knew German politics thoroughly well, and 
that disunion among the princes was only a question 
of time. The one thing necessary in Papal and 
Imperial interests was delay. 

Before long, he received two letters from a personal 
friend, one Martin Mayr, who was Chancellor of the 
Archbishopric of Mainz. One of these, unhappily 
lost, held a private offer of Mayr to serve ^Eneas and 
procure certain sums for him, which he drew from 
the diocese. 1 The other was an official letter, inspired 
by the Archbishop. It congratulated Piccolomini on 
his accession to the cardinalate, but proceeded to 
indict the Papacy for bad faith. Tenths were 
arbitrarily demanded; the decrees of the Councils 
were ignored. The Pope had treated Germany as a 
slave; he had laid capitular elections aside; there 
were extortions at Rome, and benefices were reserved 
for the cardinals and secretaries of the Curia. You 
yourself/ added Mayr, hold a general reservation in 
the dioceses of Koln, Mainz, and Trier, amounting 
to two thousand ducats a year 2 a monstrous and 
wholly unprecedented grant. ^Eneas furnished his 
answer to this charge in a letter that he sent to the 
Dean of Worms. 8 We served more than twenty- 
four years in Germany, and never ceased to strive 
with all our might to uphold the honour of that 

1 Mn. Sil., Ep. ad Mat. Mayr, August 8 (?), 1457. 

2 Ep. of August 21 (?), 1457. 

3 ^ln. Sil., Ep., dated July 22, 1457. 


nation ; and now that we, though unworthy, are called 
to the Sacred College, we still strive for the honour, 
and in the service of that country. Therefore we 
opine that we do not deserve the hatred of the 
German nation if we take two thousand ducats as 
an annual acknowledgement. 

Cardinal Piccolomini knew Germany well enough 
to perceive that Mayr s letter covered some private 
scheme of the Archbishop. Mayr had made a dex 
terous party attack and ./Eneas met it with an equally 
skilful parry, 1 which he afterwards expanded into 
a work, De ritu, situ, conditions et moribus Ger- 
maniae. 2 The general purport of these two retorts 
was as follows : Let those that have grievances 
submit them to the Pope. The Pontiff was blamed 
for doing what the princes had requested him to do, 
in order that he might raise funds for the Turkish 
war. He had interfered with capitular elections 
when rapacious and ambitious men were chosen, and, 
in fact, every election brought before the Curia 
during the past two years had been annulled. True, 
the Pope received money for indulgences, but it was 
for the Turkish war and was of the nature of a free 
gift. Germany had grown rich through its con 
nection with the Papacy and complained of having 
to pay its dues : let Germans remember that the 
Bohemians made the same complaint against the 
complainers. In fact it is a weakness of human 
nature that everybody objects when he is called 
upon to pay, and the grievance is as ancient as it is 

1 JEn. Sil., Ep. ad Mayr, August 8 (?), 1457. 

2 Dated February 1, 1458. It is given in Archiv. fur Kunde (Ester- 
reich. Geschichtsquellen, xvi. 420 et seq. 


universal. Corruption exists among the officials of 
the Curia as well as elsewhere ; but if they took 
money they did so without the Papal sanction, and 
those whose ambition led them to give it were no 
less to blame. 

^Eneas s penetration into motives had not failed 
him. In September 1457, the Archbishop sent an 
envoy to him to say that he was prepared to forsake 
the Electors if he were granted the right of confirm 
ing bishoprics throughout Germany. The Cardinal s 
reply was courteous but sarcastic. He was delighted 
to find that the Archbishop had come over to the 
Pope s point of view. But he was asking for quite 
a new privilege. The subjects of Christ s Vicar 
should obey, not haggle. He was sure, however, 
there must be some misunderstanding : the Arch 
bishop was too modest a man to have made such a 
request. Anyhow, he could not lay it before so wise, 
upright, and incorruptible a Pontiff as Calixtus. 1 

Danger was imminent. Piccolomini exerted his 
utmost powers to divert it. He wrote a conciliatory 
letter to Mayr, promising that the Pope would grant 
all smaller requests, and that he, ^Eneas, would do 
him all the service in his power. He wrote to 
Frederick, to Ladislas, to the German archbishops, 
to Cusa and Carvajal, who were in Germany, and 
to all his friends there. He pointed out to the 
princes that capitular elections rarely gave a benefice 
to the scions of great houses, and to the bishops, 
that striking at the Head of the Church was the 
way to undermine their own authority. He procured 
delay, and delay was as fatal to princely intrigue 

1 Mu. SiL, Ep. 338, ed. Basil. 1551. 


as to the hope of the German reformers. Ladislas 
died soon afterwards, and the dominions of Austria, 
Hungary, and Bohemia, were thrown into dispute ; 
everybody s attention was directed, now, to the 
question of succession and to what advantages he 
could secure for himself. 

The Italy of the fifteenth century was a seething, 
struggling mass of warring states, factions, and 
families, where personal force and personal craft alone 
obtained that power without which there was no 
security. As Burckhardt has so fully demonstrated, 
these were the conditions that allowed Man as an 
Individual to emerge. The long residence of the 
Papacy at Avignon, the growing worldliness of the 
Church, repeated schisms, and the decay of Papal 
authority, carrying that of the clergy with it, had 
left little restraining force in religion. There were 
many men and women that were devout ; there were 
not a few that led saintly lives ; there was much 
revivalism at work, that moved the masses in spasms 
of emotion; but to most men the Catholic Faith 
had become little more than an unquestioned tradi 
tion, a mere polity. Religious observance was carried 
out with ceremonious exactitude, but it rarely 
stimulated any natural turn for virtue, and it re 
strained no natural predilection for vice. All armies 
of angels that soar, legions of devils that lurk in 
the human soul were set loose. There was no social 
synthesis, no general bond of common obligation. 
The rulers of states were insecure, especially the petty 
despots of small communities, and they threw off all 
ethical restraint in order to exist. Their example 


spread throughout society. Men s consciences were 
enfranchised ; every man tried to satisfy the require 
ments of his own nature in his own way. Never was 
there a time when the will of the individual was so 
emancipated, when the ability of the individual was 
so little circumscribed by convention. 

Such was the environment in which ^Eneas found 
himself during the impressionable years of youth, nor 
had he found the moral atmosphere of Germany a great 
improvement on that of his native land ; he only 
breathed a cruder air there. He returned to Italy 
and was now a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. But 
the occupant of the Apostolic Chair was also the ruler 
of an Italian state, and Rome was the centre of the 
tangled web of Italian politics and intrigue. The 
Papacy was on its way to secularisation ; the Pope and 
his Curia, as secular princes, had to exercise the same 
kind of wily device and cunning stratagem as other 
temporal princes ; they had to plot or disappear ; the 
Church reflected the world around her ; there was 
much intrigue and personal ambition among her ser 
vants, and no one thought the worse of an ecclesiastic 
who schemed for his own personal success. The guile 
less days had not then arrived when Church and 
Senate became unaffected by self-regarding virtues. 
We must judge all ^Eneas s motives and actions 
by comparison with the other ecclesiastics and lay 
men of his time ; we must take an imperfect moral 
ideal as the standard by which we may condone or 

He was the poorest of the cardinals and found it 
difficult to maintain his position among them. When 
he wrote to thank the Emperor for recommending 


him to Calixtus, he added, But I am poor and on the 
verge of real destitution. Your Highness can provide 
for my neediness without any scruple, should you 
have any vacant benefice in your dominion to spare/ 1 
He wrote to Sforza, now become Duke of Milan, giving 
him a similar hint. He may have manoeuvred to 
obtain the Bishopric of Ermland, that lay on the 
dreary shores of the Baltic ; 2 he may have interwoven 
personal aims with his schemes for the complete 
restoration of Papal authority in Germany. He took 
the world as he found it. 

It had been the practice of Popes to strengthen 
their position by advancing their family to important 
posts in the Church and Papal States. Calixtus 
carried this principle to its extremest limits. Cardinal 
Roderigo Borgia, one of his nephews, was a young 
man of great energy and ability, and he had not yet 
exhibited to the world the unconquerable sensuality 
of his character. He asked Cardinal Piccolomini to 
attend to his interests while he was away. ^Eneas 
does not appear to have disapproved of the Papal 
policy ; a Pope must strengthen himself against oppo 
sition in his own Curia and State; especially when 
there is the grave task of a Turkish war before him, 
and the majority of the Cardinals were bitterly opposed 
to Calixtus. The great strength of ^Eneas s affection 
for his own family, too, would render him exceptionally 
indulgent. 3 He replied to Borgia, I will keep a sharp 
look-out as regards benefices, both for you and for 
myself. But much news that we get turns out to be 

1 ^En. Sil., Ep. ad Caesarem, March 8, 1457. 

1 Voigt, loc. cit., vol. ii. p. 223 et seq. 

3 See Nozze Ada/mi-Forttguerri. Siena, 1901. 


false. We heard of the demise of a certain person at 
Niirnberg, but he was here the other day and dined 
with me. They said that the Bishop of Toul expired 
at Neustadt, but he is back in Burgundy again, hale 
and hearty. I will, however, keep my eyes open ; but 
the best watcher for your interests will be the Pope 

But diplomacy and place-hunting did not occupy 
all Piccolomini s time and energy. In the spring of 
1458, when he was laid up with gout, a German book 
seller, who had settled in Rome, waited on the literary 
Cardinal and suggested that he should write a book 
for him. .Eneas had many intellectual interests, but 
his natural bent, says Campano, 1 was towards poetry ; 
yet in middle life he was more attracted by geography 
and history. The suggestion of the bookseller led to 
the commencement of a description of the whole world 
as known to us in space and time, and he began the 
part of it called Europa. He continued, too, his 
voluminous correspondence with private friends. It 
should be noted that, though he attempted to make 
his letters correspond with the dignity of his new 
station, this was unsuccessful with his familiar friends. 
He has not written many lines before he resumes the 
old, chatty tone : he is as frank and unreserved and 
natural as ever. 2 He was, however, feeling the effects 
of an exceptionally arduous life and of almost incessant 
travel in days when travel was an undertaking of no 
little difficulty, labour, and peril ; he had aged pre 
maturely, and he suffered from repeated severe attacks 
of gout with its concomitants gravel and asthma. 

1 Campanus, Vita Pii II. apud Muratori, E. I. , vol. HI. part ii. p. 967. 

2 j?Ein. Sil., Ep. ad Petrum de Noxetum, November 7, 1456. 


He had been almost bald, with a little fringe of grey 
hair at forty. 1 He was seeking relief from pain at the 
baths of Viterbo and prosecuting his literary relaxa 
tions there when news reached him of the death of 
Calixtus in. His old master, Cardinal Capranica, 
whom men expected to become the next Pope, had 
died two days before Calixtus. 2 Although Piccolomini 
was frail and diseased in body, he was still young in 
mind and heart. Training had converted him into an 
able diplomatist ; he had dwelt for years in the very 
centre of European politics ; no one in the Curia had 
a more intimate knowledge of affairs ; no one had 
such close personal acquaintance with the enemies of 
the Papacy, such insight into their designs, such 
experience of their methods ; no one was so familiar 
with all sorts of men and all kinds of nations and 
their requirements ; Germany was the chief source of 
Papal wealth, and, therefore, the chief sustainer of 
Papal power, and who knew so well how to deal with 
the menacing attitude of the princes as he ? He was a 
moving speaker, a scholar, and a forcible and elegant 
writer. But he was much more he had graduated 
in the school of life ; he had atoned for his former 
opposition to the Papacy by becoming its ablest de 
fender ; he was the only man likely to take up the 
Crusade with any warmth, for his was almost the only 
eye that perceived the real magnitude and nearness of 
the danger ; there were but very few men that he had 
offended, and he was more than acceptable to most. 
Ambition, duty, a sense of personal fitness, called him 
to candidature for the Tiara. The news of Calixtus s 

1 JEin. Sil., Ep. ad Petrum de Noxetum, November 7, 1456. 

2 Capranica died on August 4, 1458, and Calixtus on August 6. 



death was brought to Piccolomini in the dead of night. 
He left the baths in the morning, and took horse for 
Kome. Calandrini, a popular cardinal, who was also 
in men s minds as having some chance of succeeding 
to Calixtus, had also been taking the baths, and 
accompanied him. 




RARELY did an election to the Papacy present more 
perplexing problems or had been attended with greater 
anxiety. The political situation was unsatisfactory. 
Alfonso of Naples died in the June of this year, 
leaving an illegitimate son, Ferrante, to succeed to 
the throne, but considerable doubt existed as to 
whether Ferrante was Alfonso s son at all. Calixtus 
claimed the kingdom as a lapsed fief. Jean of Anjou 
revived the pretensions of his house, and urged the 
discontented among the nobles of the kingdom to 
rebel. The French party in the Sacred College, 
headed by Cardinal D Estouteville, Archbishop of 
Rouen, was strong, and the Cardinal stood a chance 
of being elected to the Tiara. Sforza of Milan and 
some of the Italian powers dreaded, with reason, the 
preponderance of France in Italy, and the more far- 
sighted among the cardinals feared lest the election 
of a French cardinal to the Papacy should lead to 
its transference to Avignon, a city which belonged to 
it, or, at the very least, to French predominance in 
the Church. If a French cardinal became Pope, 
it might well happen that the Papacy would be under 
the heel of the French king. Again, Piccinino, the 


condottiere, acting ostensibly for Ferrante, had 
advanced into the Papal States. Assisi, Gualdo, and 
Nocera were in his power, and he was credited with 
the design of carving a state for himself out of the 
patrimony of St. Peter. And, although the monarchs 
of the West despised the Turkish danger, believing 
that the Moslem had entirely overcome degenerate 
peoples only, and that more vigorous races would 
prove their ability to withstand him, his advance 
was rapid. Isle after isle in the Levantine Archi 
pelago, kingdom after kingdom of Eastern Europe, 
that had once owned allegiance to Rome, had, within 
a few years, been compelled to accept the Crescent 
for their standard. In June Athens had fallen, now 
it was the turn of Corinth to succumb, and the Moslem 
had obtained a foothold in Servia. Everywhere the 
Pontifical authority was lowered ; national churches 
had been proclaimed, and these diverted all revenues 
to themselves ; wealthy Germany was ready to revolt. 
The Roman mob, anxious and armed, narrowly 
watched the conclave, for Piccinino and his army 
were very near at hand. 

The envoys at Rome of the Italian States strove 
to influence the various cardinals. Sforza was 
especially anxious about the forthcoming election, 
for if Calixtus s policy in favour of the House of 
Anjou were continued by the new Pope, and a French 
man reigned in South Italy, the French claim to 
Milan would probably be revived and the duchy laid 
open to attack on two sides. But Venice was for 
the French, since she wished her powerful neighbour, 
Sforza, to be weakened, and Florence had always 
held close relations with the Angevin dynasty in 


Naples and derived too much commercial profit from 
France to change sides. 

Cardinal Piccolomini, with his usual good nature, 
had done his best to get Frederick to acknowledge 
the Milanese usurper, 1 who established a strong and 
just government. Sforza s ambassador at Rome wrote 
to his master : I am not without hope for Cardinal 
Colonna, but it would be easier to carry the Cardinal 
of Siena, for all parties like him and he stands well 
with the envoys sent by the King of Naples. 2 And 
the Neapolitan ambassador wrote to his master that 
he had succeeded in bringing about peace between 
the houses of Colonna and Orsini (houses that headed 
the two rival factions in Rome and were almost 
always in active warfare with one another), and that 
he was trying to get votes for Piccolomini ; thank 
God, Cardinal Orsini has consented ; he continues, 
Cardinals Torquemada (a Spaniard), Barbo, and 
Calandrini were aspirants as well as Piccolomini. 
But the most formidable candidate was Guillaume 
d Estouteville, the Frenchman. 

Eight Italians, five Spaniards, two Frenchmen, 
one Portuguese, and two Greeks eighteen in all, 
assembled in conclave. Each slept in a separate 
chamber leading out of a large hall in the Vatican. 
They dined together in the hall, but their delibera 
tions and the voting took place in a smaller room. 3 

The proceedings were opened by Domenico de 
Domenichi, Bishop of Torcello, who preached a sermon 
that is still preserved in the archives of the Vatican. 

1 Voigt, Pius II, iii. 65. 

2 Otto da Caretto, given by Pastor, History of the Papacy, English 
trans., iii. 378. 3 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 


He did not mince his words. After pointing out the 
magnitude and imminence of the Turkish peril, the 
disturbed state of Europe, the sad condition of 
the Church, and the exceptional gravity of the 
decision they were called upon to make, he continued : 
* The Christian princes are at variance, and those who 
should war against the infidel rend one another, and 
no one can persuade them to peace. The clergy are 
morally corrupt ; they cause the laity to blaspheme 
and bring them to eternal perdition ; all ecclesiastical 
discipline has disappeared. Day after day the 
authority of the Church becomes more despised ; 
nay, the force of her censure has almost ceased to 
be felt. Who shall restore it ? All these matters 
require the wisest and ablest of Heads to the Church. 
The Eoman Curia is degenerate. Who shall reform 
it? 1 

Before proceeding to the election, every cardinal 
was called upon to sign a declaration, that if choice 
fell on him, he would observe the rights of the 
College. We learn many details concerning the 
election from ./Eneas, for he gives the fullest descrip 
tion we possess of any such event. 2 It would appear 
that a golden chalice, the receptacle of the Blessed 
Sacrament, was placed on the altar, and three guar 
dians were appointed from among the cardinals to 
watch it. Each cardinal, having written down the 
name of his candidate, and sealed his voting paper 
with his signet-ring, advanced in an order determined 
by rank, and placed it in the chalice. When all had 
voted the three guardians read out the votes. 

The first scrutiny took place on the third day, 

i Codex Vatic. 3675. 2 See Pii II. Comment, 1. 1. 


and, as was usually the case, it yielded no result. 
But it gave a basis for discussion. Calandrini and 
Piccolomini headed the list with five votes each. 
An interchange of views then took place in a series 
of private conversations. D Estouteville, Cardinal of 
Rouen, was related on his mother s side to the royal 
house of France ; he was one of those princely, 
magnificent prelates that commanded so much power 
and had so much to bestow. He let it be understood 
that his adherents would be well rewarded. Can 
you be going to choose ^Eneas ? he asked. He is 
too poor to succour the impoverished Church ; too 
gouty and infirm to undertake the healing of her 
infirmities. He has but recently come from Germany ; 
we do not know him sufficiently, and it is quite 
probable that he will transfer the Sacred College to 
the country he has such an affection for. And, again, 
shall we put a poet into the chair of the Apostle ? 
Shall we raise a man who worships the heathen muses, 
and have the Church governed on Pagan lines ? As 
for Calandrini, he cannot even govern himself. Now, 
I am senior in the Sacred College to both these men. 
I am of the royal blood of France. I am wealthy 
and have many friends. When I am elected the 
many benefices I now hold will be for you/ 

Such is -^Eneas s account of what the Cardinal of 
Rouen said to those who might be induced to support 
him. It would be interesting could we read an 
account of what occurred from D Estouteville s pen 
as well as JEneas s. However, we shall see, a little 
later on, D Estouteville offered definite bribes, and 
probably ./Eneas s account gives what any intelligent 
man might read between the lines of the Cardinal s 


actual words. But very worthy men were, neverthe 
less, on his side. Of such was Bessarion, the Greek, 
who remained in Italy after the Congress at Florence. 
Probably Bessarion, who was a dull but conscien 
tious man, burning with zeal against the Turk, was 
attracted to D Estouteville by the hope that the 
French throne would renew its ancient traditions and 
lead a crusade. Perhaps, too, he felt the repulsion 
that a man of slow intelligence so often experiences 
from one of witty, ready mind. 

The French party, eleven in number, met together 
in the dead of night, and six of them bound them 
selves by oath to vote for the Cardinal of Rouen. 
Calandrini got to know of this secret meeting, and 
went at once to Piccolomini s chamber and aroused 
him. ^Eneas, what are you doing ? he exclaimed. 
1 Do you not know that D Estouteville is as good as 
chosen ? His adherents are closeted together and 
only await to-morrow. Go and give him your vote, 
for I know, from my experience with Calixtus, that it 
is impolitic to have a Pope against you. Calandrini 
wanted to get JEneas s vote for himself. 

^Eneas replied that it would go against his con 
science to do as Calandrini suggested ; but he passed 
a restless night. Early next morning he went to 
Borgia, and asked him straight out what D Estoute 
ville had promised him. The Spaniard answered that 
it was the Vice- Chancellor ship. Will you trust a 
Frenchman, the enemy of Spain ? asked ^Eneas ; 
D Estouteville has already promised that appoint 
ment to the Cardinal of Aragon. To which of you 
will he give it ? Then he went to Castiglione, and 
discovered that he also had promised his vote to the 


Cardinal of Rouen for a similar reason to the one 
Calandrini had urged. ^Eneas took higher ground with 
Castiglione, and pointed out the grave danger that 
a French Papacy might be to the Church and Italy. 
Next, he went on to Barbo, and discovered that he 
had given up all hope of his own election, and was 
ready to throw all his energy into the Italian cause. 
Barbo got six of the Italian cardinals to meet, and 
urged that they should put public duty above private 
considerations, and vote for ^Eneas. Colonna was 
not present at this meeting ; he was a scholar, a 
skilled diplomatist and a man of penetrating intellect, 
but Barbo had favoured the Orsini, the enemies of his 
house, in the internal quarrels of Rome, and ^Eneas 
himself had rather inclined to them. All that were 
at the meeting agreed with Barbo. ^Eneas told them 
that he felt himself to be unworthy of the great office. 
It is what any man might be expected to say on such 
an occasion, but a sincere sense of personal imperfec 
tion and frailty could hardly have failed to mingle 
with many other thoughts and feelings in a mind of 
such subtle complexity as Piccolomini s. 

By this time day was advancing. Mass was said, 
and then proceedings began. D Estouteville was 
appointed to be one of the guardians of the chalice, 
and he stood by it, white and trembling; when 
^Eneas went up to deposit his vote he whispered in 
his ear, I commend myself to you, ^Eneas/ * Do 
you rely on such a poor worm as I am? replied 
Piccolomini. When all had recorded their votes the 
chalice was emptied, and D Estouteville announced 
that he had six votes and ^Eneas eight. Count 
again, said u3Eneas, and D Estouteville confessed that 



he had made a mistake : there were nine. But 
three votes were wanting to the two-thirds clear 
majority required for the election of a Pope. One 
method had failed ; that of accessus remained to be 

All sat in their places, pale and silent/ wrote 
^Eneas, as if they were rapt by the Holy Spirit. 
Not a word was spoken by any one ; no one moved 
his lips, no one stirred a limb only eyes shifting 
around; ever this prolonged silence. There was no 
change ; not a sound, not a movement. 1 

Gregorovius, commenting on this passage, remarks 
that if envy and ambition be the marks of the Holy 
Spirit, these were there. Pastor has shown us, from 
the reports of ambassadors, how much influenced by 
worldly motives many of the cardinals were. But 
Gregorovius s sneer would seem to cast a doubt on the 
sincerity of ^Eneas in penning the passage. It must 
be remembered that never, for one moment, did he 
question the doctrine of the Catholic Church that it 
is guided by the Holy Ghost. He tells us, with the 
utmost candour, about the intrigues that preceded 
the election. We have seen how the Bishop of 
Torcello charged the assembled cardinals, to their 
faces, with corruption. We shall presently learn 
what ^Eneas s own emotions were when he was chosen 
Pope. But grave questions hung on the decision, and 
these may well have weighed most in the minds of the 
Curia at this supreme moment. For, if some of the 
Sacred College were self-seekers, and others owed 
their presence there to favouritism, some had been 
raised to the purple for their statesmanlike ability, 

1 Pii II. Comment., I 1. 


and many for their sincere and unaffected piety. 
Even D Estouteville counted holy men among his 
supporters ; and there were those who were quite 
single-minded in their desire to secure the powerful 
support of France for the Church and the Turkish 
war, or to preserve the freedom of Italy and that 
of the Church. 

At last the silence was broken by Roderigo Borgia. 
I vote for the Cardinal of Siena/ he said. There 
was a second and still longer silence. Then an 
attempt was made to adjourn the election ; Isidore of 
Russia and Torquemada left the chamber, but soon 
returned. Then Cardinal Tebaldo rose from his seat, 
and said, I, also, accede to the Cardinal of Siena. 
At last Colonna rose : his sense of a higher duty had 
overcome his loyalty to a party. D Estouteville and 
Bessarion seized him and tried to lead him out of 
the room. But, as they dragged him, he declared his 
vote in a loud voice, I also accede to the Cardinal 
of Siena, and I make him Pope/ 

He had uttered the final, irrevocable word. All 
rose from their seats to kneel to JEneas and con 
gratulate him. Then, the burden of the future fell 
on the Pope s soul/ he tells us, he comprehended 
the height of his calling/ He had achieved his 
ambition, but there was no exultation in his heart. 
Any element of joy at success was merged in the 
realisation of his responsibility. The heaviest of 
tasks lay before him : to heal the discords of 
Christendom, to reunite the divided nations under 
his paternal care, to check the fierce onslaught of the 
Moslem, confident in the strength of an irresistible 
soldiery, exultant with victory, and burning with 


religious zeal. ^Eneas burst into tears, and it was 
some time before lie could regain self-command. And 
then he exhibited the deep moral feeling that such 
an occasion might indeed bring forth. You/ said he 
to those who congratulated him, You see only the 
honour and dignity to which I am raised : I perceive 
the toil and danger. For what I have demanded of 
others has fallen to me to perform. l Henceforward 
he was, in many respects, a very different being from 
the necessitous man of aforetime, struggling for 
position and means ; he was sufficiently, if not 
abundantly, supplied with funds to maintain his 
high position ; he was called to the most responsible 
office in Christendom. No one ever enjoyed more 
thoroughly the dignity that attaches to the Apostolic 
Throne ; but few called to the Papacy have ever been 
filled with a wider, completer sense of all the duties 
that are demanded of the Father of Christian peoples. 
His accession brought out all the noblest elements in 
his character. 

Bessarion advanced to the newly elected Pope, and, 
as representative of what had been the opposition, 
spoke. He said : We accept your election, and do 
not doubt that it is the work of God. We believe 
you to be worthy of your high office, nor have we 
ever doubted it. But we were afraid of your bodily 
infirmities. Your feet are crippled by gout, and 
bodily activity may be needed for the Moslem peril. 
Hence we preferred the Cardinal of Rouen. Had 
you been strong of body, we had willingly accepted 
you. But God has ordered, and we obey. He will 
not allow your infirmity to interfere, nor impute our 

1 Campanus, apud Muratori, E. I, S. t in. ii. 947. 


reluctance to us. Now that you are Pope, we will 
proffer you true service and obedience/ 

You think better of Us, the Pope replied, than 
We do of Ourselves. You speak only of Our feet : 
We know full well that other failings might have 
kept Us from the Pontificate. We know of no service 
that renders Us worthy. On the contrary, We 
should judge Ourselves to be wholly unworthy, but 
that two-thirds of the Sacred College have chosen 
Us, and so the Holy Spirit has declared His Will. 
Therefore, We obey the summons of God. And you, 
that held Us to be unworthy, did as you thought 
right, and will be dear to Us. For We ascribe Our 
election, not to this one or that one, but to the 
Sacred College as a whole, and to God, whence cometh 
every good and perfect gift/ 

When the Pope had been invested with the white 
mantle, he was asked what name he would take. His 
friends, remembering Virgil s Hexameter, 

Sum Pius ^Eneas, fama super aethera riotus, 1 

had been wont to call him Pius ^Eneas in joke. 2 Pic- 
colomini said that he would take the title of Pius n. 
He probably desired a standing reminder of the great 
duty to which he was called. Later, he earnestly 
entreated that ^Eneas might be forgotten ; Pius alone 
remembered Follow what We say now ; listen to 
the old man, not the youth. A Gentile name was 
given Us by our parents ; We assumed a new name 
on Our accession. Cast .ffineas from you ; accept 
Pius/ 3 

1 JEneid, i. 378. 

2 See Voigt, Die Brief e des dEneus Silvius. Ep. of Gampisio t May 8, 
1445, S. 361. 


At the request of the Sacred College, he renewed 
the oath that related to its rights, but he added 
the proviso, as far as God enables me, and as may 
agree with the honour and rights of the Apostolic 
Chair. l 

Pius had not to wait long before he received evi 
dence of the unruly character of his subjects in 
Rome. To seize on the personal possessions of a new 
Pope was a custom. The very cell he occupied was 
sacked. The mob rushed to his house and tore even 
the marble from its walls ; they pretended to mistake 
the cry of II Sanese for II Genovese, and pillaged 
the palace of the Cardinal of Genoa, one of the richest 
members of the Sacred College. Campano gives us a 
vivid description of the state of the city. He says 
that any merit, there, must be ascribed to the priest 
hood only ; { the inhabitants are more like savages 
than Romans, repulsive people, ignorant boors, speak 
ing several dialects. And it is not to be wondered 
at, for men are herded together from all parts of the 
world, like slaves. Few citizens have retained any 
vestige of ancient nobleness. The glory of arms, the 
greatness of empire, simplicity and uprightness of 
life lie far away in the past, and are alien to them. 
They are luxurious, effeminate, poor, proud, and 
sensual. . . . Such are the men you see in the 
Capitol. 2 

The fear of a translation of the Papacy to Avignon 
was over. The Romans threw down their arms, 
lighted bonfires, illuminated the city, and blew 

1 Raynaldus, Ad ann. 1458. 

2 Graf, A., Roma nella memoria. Letter of Campano to Maiteo Ubaldi, 
i. 54. 

PintiiriccJiio, Siena. 


trumpets and horns to their heart s content. Next 
day, a great procession of the nobles and chief men 
of the city came on horseback to do honour to their 
new sovereign. Congratulations poured in from all 
sides. But Pius was depressed, and neither saluta 
tions nor festivities removed his depression. For he 
knew that France would resent the rejection of her 
candidate, and that it would be necessary to do 
what would increase her hostility. Piccinino, em 
ployed by Ferrante, occupied a part of the States 
of the Church ; Catalan governors ruled certain Papal 
towns. It was desirable to reverse Calixtus s policy 
and recognise Ferrante. The question of his right to 
the throne might be left undetermined, but his actual 
sovereignty must be acknowledged, at the expense of 
alienating France. The German princes, too, would 
assuredly give trouble, and the commencement of 
the Turkish war was likely to be postponed through 
these dissensions. 

Pius was crowned on September 3, 1458, at the 
Lateran. He rode through the streets in a magnifi 
cent and solemn procession, but, according to ancient 
privilege, the Roman mob claimed his horse, and 
they seized it before he had dismounted. A fray 
ensued, during which Pius was in grave danger, for 
swords were drawn, and he was too crippled to move 
quickly. In the evening he gave a banquet to all 
the great people in Rome, 1 

The astrologers, guided perhaps as much by the 
grey, worn face and crippled body of the Pope, as 
by the stars, prophesied a sickly and short Pontificate 
for him. 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 




ON October 7th Antonino, Bishop of Florence, and 
other Florentine envoys arrived at Rome, to con 
gratulate the new Pope. Antonino was one of the 
few truly saintly men of his time. His memory is 
still held in grateful remembrance by Florentines, 
and many charities that he founded still maintain 
their noble service. St. Antoninus (for he was 
canonised a little later) was now very old, and he 
nearly fainted at the audience, but, by a strong effort 
of will, he recovered himself and spoke for an hour, 
dwelling on the project of a crusade. Why do you 
ask nothing for your archbishop ? Pius demanded 
of the envoys. Because he himself is his own best 
recommendation/ was their reply. Milan also sent 
an embassy and professed to be eager for a crusade. 

Pius summoned the Sacred College and proposed 
that a congress of the rulers of Europe should be 
called together to consider the Turkish war. The 
majority of the cardinals opposed the proposition. 
Rulers, they urged, could hardly come so far as 
Rome, especially as the succession to the kingdom 
of Naples remained unsettled. There was disorder, 
too, in the Papal States. And, if the Congress were 
held across the Alps, the princes would turn it into 


a second Council of Basel. Pius replied that these 
objections could be met. Let some place in Italy 
be chosen ; the state of his health would furnish an 
excuse for his not crossing the Alps, while the effort 
of crossing the Apennines, especially as he was aged 
in body, if not in years, and sickly, would demon 
strate his zeal. Such a place as Udine, or Mantua, 
would be convenient for the majority. On October 12, 
he called the cardinals, the envoys, and the prelates 
in Rome into his presence, and unfolded his project : 
crippled as he was, he was willing to undertake 
the journey to defend Christendom from the ruin 
that hung over it. The proposal was listened to 
with attention, but everybody remained silent. Then 
Bessarion added his own entreaties, and the envoys 
replied, one after another. All applauded the project 
and praised Pius for his zeal, except the ambassadors 
of Venice and Florence, who confined themselves to 
answers that avoided committal to the undertaking. 1 
Next day, in public Consistory, a bull was read 
inviting the princes of Christendom to a congress 
to be held at Mantua. 

The bull, worded by Pius himself, occasionally 
seems a little grotesque to the modern mind. An 
invitation to the princes of Europe to war against 
* the hosts of that false prophet and venomous dragon 
Mahomet/ is quite in the approved mediaeval style. 
Pius proceeds to say that God has sent this punish 
ment on Christian peoples, but none the less has 
afforded them the difficult, but not insuperable, task 
of delivering the world from its peril. Then he rises 
to a noble strain : The ship of the Church is rocked 

1 Cribellus apud Muratori, R I. S. t xxiii. ; Pii II. Comment., I. 1. 


to and fro ; but it remains unsunken ; it is buffeted 
about, but it is not broken ; it is attacked, but it 
is not overwhelmed. God ordains that His own shall 
be tried indeed, but they shall not be overcome. 1 
The bull was followed by letters of personal entreaty, 
sent to the various princes. 2 

But grave obstacles, caused by political difficulties, 
called for removal before the Congress should assemble. 
The French party in the Sacred College bitterly 
opposed any recognition of Ferrante. The envoys 
of France tried to frighten Pius by pointing out 
how serious it would be to his hopes if he were to 
offend their powerful master. But Pius silenced 
them with a practical question, which he put to 
them suddenly and to which it was impossible for 
them to find an answer. Is Anjou prepared to 
drive Piccinino from his strongholds in the States 
of the Church? he demanded. We must have a 
king in Naples who is able to hold his own and 
defend us. Meanwhile Ferrante was trying to 
bargain and get all he could for himself, but Pius 
sent him word that he should remember he was 
dealing with no merchant accustomed to haggling. 3 
However, by October 17, everything was arranged. 
Pius issued a bull that removed all the censures 
Calixtus had imposed on Ferrante, and granted 
him the crown without prejudice to the right of 
another/ and, soon after, Cardinal Orsini, being sent 
to Naples as Papal legate, crowned him there. 
On his side the monarch de facto promised to pay 
an annual tribute, to recall Piccinino (who only 

1 Bull Vocdbit nos Pius, October 13, 1458. 

* Cribellus, loc. cit. ; Pius, loc. cit, 3 Pii II. Comment., 1. 1. 


retired on the receipt of thirty thousand ducats), to 
restore Benevento at once, and evacuate Terracina 
(a fortified city that guarded the natural frontier 
of the Papal States) at the expiration of ten years. 

Pius had next to deal with the reluctance of the 
Romans to let him leave the city. Rome, having no 
commerce, existed on its visitors and pilgrims, and 
the departure of the Pope and his Court involved 
considerable pecuniary loss to the citizens. Reports 
were set afloat that Pius intended to transfer his 
court to Siena, and even to Germany. Strong repre 
sentations were made of the disorders that would 
arise in Rome and the Papal States if the Pope were 
to leave. The States were surrounded by ravening 
wolves/ but Pius replied that the Papal possessions 
had been lost before and won back again, but that 
Mahomet menacing the Christian Church was a far 
greater danger. 1 Fortunately the Colonna and Orsini 
happened to be at peace, and Pius appointed one ojT 
the Colonna, who represented the more powerful of 
the two families, to the Prefecture of Rome. He 
confirmed certain Papal towns in their privileges, 
remitted a part of the taxes for three years, made the 
Barons take oath to preserve peace during his absence, 
and appointed Cardinal Nicolas von Cues, a German 
and therefore unaffected by local prejudice or feud, to 
be his Vicar- General. Certain of the cardinals were 
to remain in Rome, and, if Pius died away from the 
city, the next election was to be held there. 

The Teutonic Knights of St. Mary in Jerusalem, 
crusading Germans of noble birth, a body that dated 
from the twelfth century, applied their energies, 

1 Pii II. Comment., I. 1. 


defeated in the East, to establish Christianity and 
dominate the lands of the barbarian nearer home. 
They occupied and ruled the shores of the Baltic, and 
were at present at war with their own converted 
subjects and the kingdom of Poland. Pius proposed 
peace ; he desired to restore them to their original 
purpose and send them as warriors against the Turk. 
He also tried to found a military order of Our Lady 
of Bethlehem, but both of these projects failed. 

News came to Rome that the Crescent had tri 
umphed in Servia. Pius had been ill, but he was 
e better/ wrote the Mantuan envoy, and full of the 
greatest zeal for the Turkish exploit. 1 He prepared 
to leave Rome at once, and arranged to take six 
cardinals with him. 

The cares of state bore heavily on him, and gave 
him no small anxiety, but we shall see, more than 
once, that he had the happy faculty of being able to 
cast off worry. He thoroughly enjoyed his journey, 
and he tells us, with simple and not unpleasing vanity, 
how gratified he was with the honour his subjects 
showed him. They built a wooden bridge across the 
Tiber for him, and he found it adorned with ivy and 
green boughs. Wherever he went an enthusiastic 
people welcomed him : priests bearing sacred things 
prayed that he might have a fortunate life ; lads and 
maidens, crowned with laurel and bearing olive 
branches, came to greet him and wish him health and 
happiness, and they deemed themselves lucky if they 
could but touch the fringe of his robe. The ways 
were crowded with people and strewn with green ; 
the streets of cities and towns were hung with costly 

1 Pastor, loc. cit., iii. 45, 46. 


cloth, and the houses of the cities and the churches 
were decorated. 1 Very few, outside Rome, had ever 
seen a Pope, and the farther he went the greater the 
novelty was a Pontifical progress to the people. But, 
at Narni, the crowd rushed to tear away the baldacchino 
held over him, and swords had to be drawn. Pius 
remembered the adventure of Frederick and his own 
recent experience in Rome. Henceforward he ceased 
to ride, and had himself borne about in a litter; it 
was of purple trimmed with gold, as he is careful to 
tell us, and he entered cities in full pontifical attire 
and wearing a mitre. His record of these splendours 
tells us how near we are to the Renaissance in fullest 

His sister, Caterina, was dwelling at Spoleto, and 
he stayed four days with her. He put up also at 
Assisi, a place that impressed him deeply, as it does 
every reverent or artistic spirit. The holy Francis/ 
he says, the begetter of the order of Minors, a man 
who found himself rich in being poor, gave sanctity 
to this city. Here, in a noble church, lie his bones. 
The church is of two stories, whereof the upper one is 
adorned by the paintings of Giotto, the Florentine, 
who was esteemed in his day as the chief of all 
painters. The adjoining monastery is the head-one 
of the order founded by the blessed saint, nor, in the 
whole world, may one find anything more noble 
belonging to that fraternity/ 2 Pius was anxious for 
the protection of the place, and ordered its fortifica 
tions to be strengthened. No Pope had visited 
Perugia for three generations ; he remained there 
three weeks, and gives us a vast amount of historical 

1 Pit II. Comment., I 2. 2 Ibid. I 2, 


digression concerning that most beautiful, yet most 
tragic, of hill-towns. He did his best to compose the 
embittered factions of the blood-stained city. Thence 
he came to Lago Trasimeno, and visited an island 
where certain Franciscans had built themselves a 
monastery. The cardinals that accompanied him were 
often highly disgusted at the wretched monasteries 
which he chose to dine and sleep in. Pius had been 
too great a traveller to care much for dainty fare or 
even for comfortable shelter. Here, he thought of all 
that had happened on the memorable eastern shore 
of the lake. There came a fierce tempest, but, when it 
had abated a little, he crossed the lake, and found 
that he had undertaken a somewhat perilous enter 
prise, but he was pleased to discover that those who 
dwelt around and knew what manner of waters 
these were, held it for a bold adventure and admired 
his courage. 1 

He was Pius ./Eneas ; a man full of devotion in 
the Virgilian sense. Both his parents were dead; 
his mother had survived his father, but she had been 
dead four years, yet he felt he would like to look 
once again on the scenes of his boyhood and revive 
the memories of family life. He turned aside to 
Corsignano, and the First Prince in the Christian 
world visited the lowly house where he had been 
born. He tells us his birthplace is built on a hill 
that rises from the valley watered by the Urcio. 
It occupies the summit, which is level, about one 
thousand paces in length, but not nearly so broad. 
There lies this insignificant town, but it enjoys a fine 
air and produces the best of wine and eatables. . , . 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 2. 


Once the greater part of it beloned to the Piccolomini ; 
and Silvio, the father of Pius, had a property here. 
Here, indeed, was Pius born ; here he learned the 
rudiments. With how much pleasure did he look 
forward to the delight it would be to him to behold 
the familiar scenes of his birthplace once again. But, 
alas ! he found that the greater number of those 
whom he remembered had departed this life, and 
those that were left of the companions of his youth 
were mostly confined to their homes by infirmity, 
while such as came forth to greet him he could 
scarcely recognise, so sorely were they changed. 
Their strength was spent, their bodies were bent, 
those whom he had left as boys had become grey 
headed old men/ 1 One of them came forward and 
knelt at his feet. He was that Father Peter, a young 
man then, who had taught him his letters. 

The little town fted its illustrious citizen, and 
he said Mass in the humble church on Sunday. He 
ordered a cathedral to be built, as well as palaces 
for the Piccolomini, to serve as lasting memorials 
that Corsignano was his birthplace, and he renamed 
it Pienza, after himself. He tells us that he gave the 
architect, one Bernardo (probably Bernardo Eossellino 
of Florence) and the workpeople liberal wages, and 
promised plenary indulgence to such as should visit 
his cathedral on the festival of the Finding of the 

Pienza is a scene of decay, but it must be even 
more beautiful now in adversity than it was in its 
pride. The palaces, the cathedral are mouldering ; 
the loose soil of their foundations is crumbling away ; 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 2. 


Nature is quietly reclaiming her own. There is, 
indeed, but little sense of transition as one passes 
from a palace to the colonnades of its garden and 
looks forth on the landscape beyond. And the silence 
of four centuries dwells within the little square. Time 
and man, the only foes of what is beautiful, have 
dealt very gently with this masterpiece of archi 
tecture. The vestments of the Pope, faded indeed, 
but still beautiful, and many lovely things that were 
his are there : they bear evidence to his perfect taste ; 
they seem to bring him very near to us. Pienza is 
a gem of the Early Renaissance, of that graceful 
architecture that includes the ideality of Gothic art 
and the purity and simplicity of Greek. The genius 
of Rossellino blends with that of Pius, for the Pope 
introduced much that he had admired in northern 
countries into the design. 

On February 24, Pius reached Siena, and here he 
abode two months. Embassies came hither to offer 
him congratulations from Bohemia, Castile, Germany, 
Hungary, and Portugal. The envoys of Frederick 
declined to appear, and remained in Florence for a 
time, for Matthias Corvinus had been raised to the 
throne of Hungary, and the Emperor claimed it. 
At last they were induced to come and offer obedi 
ence. They were men of inferior rank, led by 
Hinderbach, the German jurist. Frederick had 
sent a humanist to a humanist : how could Pius 
complain ? The Pope would only be amused at the 
slight so far as it was personal ; so far as his office 
was concerned he swallowed his resentment, and was 
at pains to point out that he only followed precedent 
in recognising a king de facto, without .prejudice to 


the question of right ; he also thought it wise to confirm 
the secret agreement with the Papacy which he him 
self had negotiated when he was in Frederick s service. 
The presence of the Bohemian envoys presented 
him with a perplexing problem. Podiebrad, of whom 
he once thought so lightly, had proved to be one of the 
shrewdest statesmen of his age. He had commended 
himself to the moderate party in Bohemia, overthrown 
the extremists, restored order, rendered Bohemia a 
very powerful state, and been rewarded with its crown. 
He had acquired the support of his Bohemian sub 
jects and had entered into a secret compact with the 
late Pope, promising him to root out heresy and 
re-establish Catholicism in Bohemia. But he evaded 
his obligations, which he had taken care should be 
couched in general terms. Pius required his aid, 
for Podiebrad had promised Calixtus to war against 
the Turk, and contrived that Frederick should rely 
on him as his chief supporter. But Breslau still held 
out against Podiebrad, and sent her own envoys to 
Siena. Pius, then, found himself in much perplexity. 
He was compelled to compromise. He received the 
obedience of Podiebrad, but denied him the title of 
king until such time as might see his promises fulfilled. 
The wily, diplomatic Pope sent the new ruler a 
summons to attend the Congress through the Emperor, 
his overlord, and then awaited events, for he hoped to 
induce the Congress to force Podiebrad into complete 
submission. And he promised the envoys from 
Breslau that they might rely on him to find a way 
to put an end to their grievances. Both Pius and 
Podiebrad were content, especially the king, for time 
was gained : it might not fulfil Pius s hopes, but 


it would assuredly enable himself to strengthen his 
position in Bohemia and Germany. 

Pius was far from being happy at Siena. The 
populace had driven their nobles into exile, and the 
middle class governed. They had restored the Piccolo- 
mini, indeed, for without this concession the Pope 
refused to visit the city. He regarded the communes 
of Italy with distrust. They were unrestful, and there 
was perpetual, bloody warfare, waged as for liberty/ 
between the various parties that struggled for power. 
He favoured strong, just government. Before he be 
came Pope he wrote to his friend, Mariano de Sozzini 
of Siena : { I had rather Italy attained peace under 
Alfonso s rule than that of the free cities, for kingly 
generosity rewards every kind of excellence. But 
now, when certain nobles urged him to employ force, 
he refused, saying he would do no violence to his 
native city ; at the worst he would only withhold 
benefits which it had been his intention to confer. 
He waited a while, and then presented . the chief 
prior of Siena with the Golden Rose. Then he asked 
for the readmission of the nobles, for he had little 
confidence in the wisdom and capacity for government 
of the party in power, since it adopted the short 
sighted policy of considering its own petty trading 
interests only. After much discussion, consent was 
given to the nobles to occupy a quarter of some of 
the offices of state and an eighth of the remainder. 1 
Pius was far from being satisfied, and said he hoped, 
later on, the city would agree to grant him all that 
he had requested. 

1 Paoli, 0., article Siena, 3 Enc. Brit., 1887 ; Malvolti, 0., Historic de 
fatti e guerre dei Senesi, Venezia, 1599. 


On April 23 the Pope left the city, accompanied by 
Galeazzo Sforza, the youthful heir of Sforza of Milan, 
then a bright, intelligent, and well-instructed lad, but 
who, ascending the ducal throne too early in life, 
played the tyrant, indulged in reckless dissipation, 
and came to an untimely tragic end. On reaching the 
Certosa near Florence, Pius was received by notable 
men of the city, and they and the cardinals bore his 
litter, none too willingly, * to the monastery of 
Santa Maria Novella. There he stayed a week, but 
Cosimo de Medici, the uncrowned merchant-king 
of the city, avoided political discussion by pretending 
to be too ill to leave his bed. 

Pius cannot mention any family without telling 
us all about their forebears ; he cannot mention any 
place without all kinds of digression. He seizes this 
visit to Florence as an excuse for literary criticism. 
He speaks of Dante, who truly is the greatest of 
them all, and makes Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell 
almost as vivid as reality can be/ Is there a sly 
hit when he adds, l and he gives us minute doctrine 
enough to be a complete guide to life ? Francesco 
Petrarca stands next, who has scarcely an equal, 
for in the use of Latin and Tuscan he is unapproach 
able. The third place I may, without injustice, give 
to Giovanni Boccaccio, although he is often lascivious 
in matter and diffuse in style. 2 Then he goes on 
to give us a long list of Florentine authors. More 
than once he mentions Giotto in his writings, and 
shows that he was aware of the relation of artistic 
to literary development. The Florentines, however, 
seem to have been of opinion that a living dog is 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 2. 2 Ibid. 


worth more than a dead lion. Among the spectacular 
displays with which they regaled the Pope, both on 
his journey to Mantua and on his return, was a real 
menagerie : they turned all kinds of wild beasts into 
the Piazza de Signoria bulls, lions, boars, dogs, 
and a giraffe. Pius notes that the lions lay down 
and nothing would make them budge. Nothing was 
trivial in the Renaissance. 

It was clear that, though he was warmly welcomed 
at Florence, his visit was, politically, a failure. So he 
went on to Bologna, a city that nominally belonged to 
the Papacy, and at this time lodged a Papal Legate ; 
but Pius tells us that while the city accepted a 
legate that dignitary might with more truth be called 
ligatus l Sixteen city-fathers of Bologna professed 
to govern the state and uphold its freedom, but 
they were not free themselves, for the Bentivogli, 
representing wealth that came of trade, were the real 
directors of policy. The Bentivogli and their party 
disliked the visit of the Pope, for they dreaded lest 
the masses, always opposed to their masters in 
Italian cities, might seize the occasion to rebel. But 
if they were to refuse Pius admission the exiles might 
be encouraged to attack the city, and these were 
numerous ; for in Bologna, as in every Italian state, 
the dominant political party proscribed its opponents. 
When Pius entered the city, he found the streets 
lined with mercenary troops, and the orator who 
welcomed him took occasion to give vent to popular 
grievances. The government exiled this too fluent 
person, but the Pope succeeded in getting the ban 
rescinded. 2 He was glad to leave the suspicious 

1 Pii II. Comment.,1. 2. 2 Campanus apud Muratori, E. I. S. t in. ii. 976. 


city, and on the 16th May he set out for Ferrara. 
He tells that Borso of Este, a bastard himself, accom 
panied by six other bastard-princes of his house, rode 
forth to meet him. But the Pope is mistaken : one 
of the six was of legitimate birth. 

* Borso, he says, was a man of remarkable build, 
though only somewhat above middle height. He had 
a magnificent head of hair and a taking face. He 
was a pleasing speaker, sumptuous in his way of living, 
and liberal. He entertained Frederick right royally 
when the Emperor returned from his coronation, 
hoping to be rewarded with the title of duke. He 
never married, and it is said that his reason was 
excellent and truly Christian, for there were boys that 
were legitimate heirs to the sovereignty, and he 
wished them to succeed to it. He was sagacious and 
a lover of peace, and he executed justice with 
severity. They erected a statue to him in the public 
square, where he is to be seen seated, declaring the 
law. The inscription stated him to be heroic and 
illustrious, but the virtue of economy was not mentioned, 
nor is it often found in such an association. He 
cared more for a few valuable things than for a 
quantity of goods. He always appeared in public set 
off by gems, and his palace was filled with precious 
things, while, even in the country, he used vessels of 
silver and gold. 1 Pius deals justly with Borso s 
character, though the Marquis had become his enemy, 
for reasons which he tells us. The Bastard s mother 
was a Sienese lady of the house of the Tolomei, and 
akin to the Piccolomini, and her son tried every means 
to induce him to grant the title of duke and remit the 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 2. 


tribute due to the Papacy. Borso even offered a 
bribe of 300,000 ducats, to outshine the rest, says 
the Pope. Pius was willing to grant the former 
but by no means the latter of the two requests, and 
at this Borso took great umbrage. From Ferrara 
the Pope proceeded by boat to Mantua, where he 
arrived (June 1) three days before the appointed 

He describes all the pomp and pageantry that 
attended his entry into the city of Virgil, even to the 
banners that were borne ; flags that would be price 
less now, for they were, doubtless, painted by great 
artists, paid a workman s usual wage ; he describes the 
golden box that contained the Host and how a white 
horse bore It on its back ; he counts the number of 
white horses with gilded saddles and reins ; he 
rejoices in his own vestments and the splendid jewels 
that enriched them, and he is proud of nobles bearing 
him in his litter ; there was a golden crucifix, too, in 
the procession, and the keys of the church, and the 
arms of the Piccolomini borne aloft, and carpets were 
spread along the roadway that could hardly be seen 
for flowers, and the streets resounded with evvivas 
from the people. He luxuriated in all this outward 
splendour, for he was a true son of the Renaissance. 
Life was far more uncertain then than now, and men 
were more eager to get all the enjoyment they could 
out of their little hour. 

Next day Hippolyta, daughter of Sforza of Milan, 
half- child, half- woman, who had arrived at Mantua, 
with her mother, made an elegant little speech in 
Latin to the Pope, which he answered in his usual 
flowing style. Both speeches are preserved in 


Mansi s orations of Pius n. 1 The Pope tells us tliat 
the little lady commanded admiration, and adds, in a 
sly parenthesis, that she was remarkably pretty and 
had a pleasing address. 2 Hippolyta became one of 
the learned ladies to whom Masaccio and Pulci and 
other literati dedicated works that are remarkable for 
their indelicacy. Masaccio s tales, all of which are 
dedicated to Hippolyta, are novels with a purpose : 
they are intended to exhibit the cunning and false 
ness of women, but he tells Hippolyta he hopes she 
will be pleased, because she is such an illustrious 
exception to her sex. Besides Bianca, the mother of 
Hippolyta, there were the ladies of the house of 
Gonzaga to add their grace and beauty to the Pope s 
court. 3 

1 Mansi, ii. 192. 2 Pii II. Comment, 1. 2. 

3 See Masaccio, especially his dedication. 




ON the appointed day (June 1, 1459) the Congress 
was opened at the Duomo, and the Pope delivered an 
address. But no envoys were present, for none had 
arrived. I will stay on and wait/ said Pius ; if no 
one comes, I must accept the will of God. Week 
after week passed, but no one came. The cardinals 
got weary and restless; most of them protested 
against remaining on, but Pius gave no heed to their 
murmurs. They complained that Mantua was un 
healthy; that many of the retinue were sick and 
some had died ; that the food and wine were poor ; the 
dullness of life there was broken only by the croaking 
of frogs in the marshes ; the Pope had done enough 
and could retire with honour. Cardinal Scarampo 
went away, and poured scorn and derision on the 
unsuccessful project. Time continued to drag on 
slowly, and still nobody came. It was evident that 
the European powers aimed at tiring out the Pope. 
But his resolve remained unshaken, and he had the 
support of two cardinals, Torquemada, the Spaniard, 
and Bessarion, the Greek. 

Then embassies came, indeed, but it was to implore 
aid, not to proffer it. Albania, Epirus, Illyria, the 
larger of the islands of the Levant, sent begging for 


succour. Palseologus, despot of the Morea, also sent 
envoys. There were sixteen Turkish captives with 
them, to show what he could do, if only he had more 
men ; give him but a handful, he said, and he would 
expel the Turk. Pius let him have three hundred 
troops, who added to the woes of the Morea by plun 
dering it. 

At last, after three weary months, the Duke of 
Cleves and the Lord of Croye arrived from Burgundy. 
The Pope asked his cardinals to ride forth and wel 
come them. They declined. Cardinals, they said, 
were the equals of kings ; they would do nothing 
to diminish their dignity ; but, at last, Cardinals 
Colonna and Orsini offered to go. The envoys told 
Pius that the Duke of Burgundy found himself too 
old to undertake the journey. It was clear that his 
fit of hot zeal had passed away. The Duke of Cleves 
lost no time in bringing forward a personal grievance. 
The town of Soest had rebelled against the Archbishop 
of Koln, and the Pope had ordered it to return to its 
allegiance ; it had placed itself under the protection of 
the Duke of Cleves, who now requested Pius to rescind 
his command. The Pope saw that all possibility of 
holding a congress would be lost if he began by 
quarrelling with the Duke. On the other hand, he 
could not afford to offend the Archbishop. It was 
one of those dilemmas in which Popes as well as tem 
poral rulers find themselves from time to time. Pius 
extricated himself by complying with Cleves s request, 
and writing to the Archbishop to the effect that he 
had only withdrawn his support until he should be 
able to renew it. 

Such dissimulation was an every-day proceeding 


in the diplomacy of the age. Similar tricks had been 
practised by the Papacy before on many occasions. 
States are not governed by Paternosters was a 
favourite saying of Cosimo de Medici s. No authority, 
spiritual or temporal, could be maintained without 
guile, and, on the whole, the Papacy will be found 
to have acted far more honourably than any other 
contemporary government. Pius relates the circum 
stances with the utmost candour, and we must remem 
ber that he wrote his memoirs for posterity to judge. 
He disguises nothing, but we can see that he was 
troubled by scruple. He tells us how he reconciled 
his action with his conscience : c If justice cannot be 
done without entailing results that would be shameful 
and injurious, it has been the rule with the Holy See 
to cloak its intention until a fit season arrives for 
declaring it. And this principle is admitted by those 
that lay down laws for conduct, on the ground that 
one ought to chose the smaller of two evils. l It is 
a confession freely given, and reminds one of a similar 
excuse that he had thought it necessary to provide 
Schlick with, in the affair of the Bishoprick of Freising. 

When this matter was settled the Pope was 
informed that the Duke of Burgundy thought Europe 
in too unsettled a condition for anything to be done. 
Pius replied that there would be unending delay if 
everybody waited for pacification, and meanwhile 
Hungary would go under. If each state sent a 
contingent the relative strength of the Powers would 
be unaffected. The Burgundian ambassadors then 
promised a contingent, but refused to stay. 

Summons after summons had been sent to Sforza, 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 2. 


and at last, in September, he came. Filelfo spoke 
for him and flattered his former pupil, hoping for 
reward, and Pius replied in a similar strain. Sforza s 
presence was not due to any Christian zeal, but to a 
hope that he might strengthen the Pope in his decision 
to support Ferrante. For, if Rene of Anjou were at 
home, trifling with the Muse, his son, Jean, was on 
his way to attack Naples; and the barons of that 
ill-ruled land, who had been in the habit of rebelling 
for generations past, were ready to take up arms 
in his name. By no means did loyal feeling towards 
the house of Anjou actuate them, but they saw an 
opportunity of aggrandising themselves under the 
French banner. The success of the Angevin party 
would mean the renewal of the French claim to Milan. 
And since Sforza had received no investiture from 
the Emperor, he wished, not merely to keep the Pope 
on Ferrante s side, but also to secure the good offices 
of Pius II. with his old master, Frederick. So he 
threw himself into the scheme of a crusade. He told 
his wife he was kept very busy ; he had no time to 
eat his meals. 1 The Pope says that he was now sixty 
years of age, but he was really fifty-eight. Pius gives 
a vivid portrait of this condottiere who became a 
prince. On horseback/ he says, he gave one the 
impression of being still quite a young man. He was 
tall and of commanding bearing ; his expression was 
grave, and he was quiet and courteous in conversa 
tion. He was quite the prince. In bodily and 
mental power no one, in our day, was his equal ; in 
battle he was invincible. Such was the man that 
rose from a humble position to sovereign power. His 

1 Pastor, English trans., iii. 86. 


wife was beautiful and virtuous, his children like 
angels. He was scarcely ever ill, and whatever 
he strove for he achieved. And yet he was not 
without his troubles. Troilo and Brunoro, his old 
friends and fellow-campaigners, forsook him to serve 
King Alfonso. He was obliged to hang another, 
Ciarpolline, for treason ; he had the vexation of 
seeing his own brother, Alessandro, setting the 
French against him ; one of his sons also conspired 
against him and had to be put into confinement; 
he conquered the Marches of Ancona with his sword 
only to lose them. Who is there among mortals 
that enjoys only the smiles of Fortune and never sees 
her frown? We may count that man happy who 
has only a few sorrows/ l Such is the final judge 
ment on life of the man who had achieved the highest 
dignity the world could offer, and had enjoyed a fuller 
and more varied experience than any one of his age. 

The conferences of Sforza with the Pope induced 
the jealous Italian States to send envoys, and the 
King of Poland also sent delegates. Venice was the 
last Italian state to despatch her representatives. 
Pius had already told the Ten that they were only 
thinking of their trade. The Venetian ambassadors 
said that when Christianity was at one their state 
would not be found wanting. 2 The Pope replied that 
there would be no end to that excuse ; Venice lay 
very near to Mantua, yet the Venetian envoys had 
been longest on the way. 3 

Four months had passed, and at last there were 
enough ambassadors assembled to begin business. 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 3. 2 Malpiero, Ann.Venet.,Arch. Stor. It., vn. i. 7. 
3 Pii II. Comment., 1. 3 


On September 26, Mass was said in the Cathedral 
and Pius held his hearers for three hours. He was 
suffering from a gouty cough, but the excitement 
removed every trace of his ailment, nor did it once 
interrupt him. 1 He began with a prayer, and then 
drew a vivid picture of the desecration of the land 
that had witnessed the birth, life, sufferings, and 
sacrifice of the Redeemer. And now, while the 
nations that professed His name were sunk in sloth 
or turning their arms against each other, the Infidel 
had taken the royal city that Constantine founded, 
defiled the great Church of Justinian, and were press 
ing on into the heart of Europe. They had torn 
down the sacred images, had given the bones of the 
holy saints to swine to eat, had ravished wives and 
deflowered virgins, even the maidens vowed to Christ. 
The Sultan had given a banquet whereto the Holy 
Image of the Redeemer was brought and spat upon 
while the guests shouted in derision. The beating of 
a slave is sufficient to arouse kings to warfare, but 
they remain unmoved when God is blasphemed. Are 
you so simple as to think that the Moslem will lay 
down his arms ? His character is such that he must 
either be wholly victor or wholly vanquished. Piece 
by piece, you are allowing Europe to become his 
prey, and it will be no long time before the False 
Prophet rules the world. 

The Pope then passed on to show that the danger 
could be overcome. Hitherto, the Turk had triumphed 
over degenerate peoples only. The troops led by 
Hunyadi and Scanderbeg had shown what vigorous 
races could do. And one has not to rely solely on 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 3. 


human strength, for ours is God s side. After 
demonstrating Christ s divinity, Pius proceeded to 
point out what worldly advantages would accrue. 
There were states and wealth to be won. (It shows 
his historical insight and his knowledge of men, that 
he knew how largely hunger for land and wealth had 
excited the enthusiasm of the Crusaders.) Yet, after 
all, they might not acquire much earthly profit, but 
there was an eternal prize awaiting them, the reward 
of those heavenly joys which made the blessed martyrs 
accept death with gladness in their hearts. Then the 
Pope rose to the highest strain of passionate eloquence. 
Oh, that Godfrey were here/ he exclaimed, and the 
heroes that rescued Jerusalem in the days that are 
gone ! There were souls that had not required such 
a torrent of words to inspire them ! Could they listen 
they would rise as one man and shout with one voice, 
" God wills it, God wills it ! " 

You are silent. We fail to move you. You wait 
for the conclusion of what We have to say. Very 
likely some of you are thinking, " The Pope is a priest : 
priests are ready enough in laying burdens on others 
which they will not stretch forth their own finger to 
raise. It is well for them to call us to draw the 
sword." If you think so, you are mistaken. Neither 
in your time, nor in that of your fathers, has there 
been one readier than We. We are weak, yet We 
have come hither at the risk of Our life and to the 
emptying of an impoverished purse ; We have left 
Our states naked to danger, for we deemed the defence 
of the faith of higher importance. Do not think that 
We take credit to Ourselves for doing so. Alas ! it is 
all We can do. Had we the necessary vigour left, no 

Pinturicch:o, Siena. 


battle, no peril, should affiright Us. We would assume 
the Cross, We would hurl Ourself on the Infidel, bear 
ing the banner of the Lord ; We would accept death 
for the sake of the Faith and account Ourselves 
blessed. And, even now, though Our body is feeble 
and Our soul weary, We are ready to vow Ourselves 
to the holy enterprise. If you agree, We will go 
forth with a high, light heart. We can be borne in 
Our litter to the camp, ay, into the very thick of 
battle. Take counsel together as to what is wise. 
Our heart, at least, does not quail, nor do We cover 
up fear with big words. Lay on us what burden you 
choose. We shall not shrink from whatever task you 
may appoint. 5 1 

Bessarion followed the Pope. He made a long, dull 
speech ; but he became eloquent when he described 
what his own eyes had seen, and he awoke the keen 
interest of his audience when he declared that the 
Turks were incapable of bringing more than 70,000 
men into the field. 2 Sforza followed : he spoke in 
Italian with the directness and practicality of the 
soldier. Then the Hungarian envoys complained 
that the Emperor had increased their peril, at a 
time when they were engaged in a mortal struggle 
with the Turk, by claiming the crown of their country. 
Pius told them that the Congress had met to discuss 
a crusade, not European politics ; he knew the ex 
cellent qualities of both the Emperor and their King, 
and had sent a legate to compose their quarrel. 

The Congress affected an agreement. But practical 
ways of carrying out its decision remained to be 

1 Mansi, Pii II. Orationes, ii. 9, et seq. 

2 Contarini, Anecdota Veneta, 276-83, 


discussed, and this gave the envoys abundant oppor 
tunities for obstruction. Sforza suggested that those 
nations that were neighbours to the Turk should be 
subsidised, for they had experience of his tactics and 
were, therefore, best qualified to fight him. Sigis- 
mondo Malatesta, lord of Rimini, a vassal of the Pope, 
then put in a word for himself. This extraordinary 
being was one of the most notable products of a remark 
able age. He was at once a mercenary captain, a sensu 
alist, a scholar, and an enthusiast for art : one equally 
ready for the vilest crime or the most magnanimous 
deed ; one full of high conceptions and lusts that would 
degrade a beast. Malatesta saw, in the crusade, the 
possibility of getting big pay as a condottiere. He 
suggested the employment of Italian troops. But 
Italian troops were all mercenaries ; they chose their 
battle-field with care, and levelled it before they 
ventured their heavily armed persons and steeds 
upon it ; almost always, the worst that befel them 
was to have to yield and pay ransom ; they made 
battle a game of tactical skill, and well-nigh as blood 
less as chess. Pius saw through Malatesta s design 
at once. He adroitly complimented Italian troops on 
their well-known courage, and then cut the ground 
from under the condottiere s feet, not without in 
dulging in some covert sarcasm : c I also should be in 
favour of Italian troops, he said, for what soldiery is 
more brave ? but what other nation than Italy could 
furnish them with their pay ? Let, therefore, other 
nations provide the army and fleet, so that one back 
may not have to bear all the burden. And it would 
be no easy matter to induce our generals to take 
service abroad. For, in Italy, the trade of war is 


pursued with no great loss of blood and with much 
replenishing of the purse. But, yonder, deadly work 
awaits us, and the main reward is not of an earthly 
nature. We advise the imposition of a war-tax 
for three years. Let the clergy pay a tenth, the 
laity a thirtieth, and the Jews a twentieth of their 
income. 1 

The Florentine envoys gave distinct evidence of 
how opposed their state was to the project ; for 
Florentine merchants did not wish to hazard their 
lucrative Eastern trade. Venice, so said her repre 
sentatives, would be ready if sixty galleys, instead of 
the thirty proposed, were sent, if she were paid for 
her services, and were put into possession of all con 
quests that might be made. This aroused the wrath 
of the Pope. He told them they were a degenerate 
people. Their ancestors made no difficulty about 
providing a fleet ; they were ready enough to fight 
with all their might against their rivals, Genoa and 
Pisa ; but the present race of Venetians would not 
use arms even if they were given them. They were 
employing every stratagem they could think of to 
stop the Holy War. They forgot that they would 
be the first to fall before the Turkish advance. But 
his words fell on deaf ears. 

In the middle of October envoys arrived from the 
Duke of Savoy, and a little later, from Albert of 
Austria. Gregory Heimburg, the old foe of the 
Pope, was the chief spokesman of the German 
embassy, and he also represented the Duke of 
Saxony and Sigismund, Duke of the Tyrol. Heim 
burg was one of those honest sincere people who 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 2. 


indulge in rude behaviour in order to emphasise their 
integrity. He kept his hat on in the Pope s presence, 
and took small pains to veil his contempt for him. 
Sigismund, who also came, was not on good terms 
with the Papacy, for Nicholas of Cusa had been 
appointed Bishop of Brixen by the late Pope, in 
violation of the compact made with Frederick. This 
would have mattered little, but Cusa was bent on 
reforming the monastic houses, and he proceeded to 
do so with a high hand. He was a man who had 
risen from a low rank of life by acquiring a just 
reputation for vast learning. He was zealous and 
intolerant ; well-meaning but destitute of discre 
tion. Meticulous legal considerations and scholastic 
pedantry are a poor equipment for dealing with 
men, and Cusa assumed the manners of a drill- 
sergeant, when tact and suavity were required. The 
difficulties that he encountered were due to the 
intricate involution of ecclesiastical with territorial 
rights, and all the ingenuity of Pius himself might 
have failed to reconcile them. A breach soon oc 
curred between the Tyrolese and Sigismund, their 
duke, and Cusa. Nicholas had supported Cusa, and 
Pius had accepted his policy. Hence Sigismund 
bore the Pope anything but good- will, and Heimburg 
was emboldened to take his revenge. The reader 
has been told how he reminded Pius of the erotic 
writings he had sent, so many years ago, to Sigis 
mund ; his taunts covered a sneer at the Pope s 
sincerity. 1 Pius retained a dignified silence, but in 
wardly he was smarting with shame. He records 

1 This speech is preserved in the Munich Archives. See Voigt, Pius IL, 
vol. iii. pp. 99-101, and note, p. 100. 


the incident l for posterity to read ; he tell us that 
the charge was true ; indeed, he did so ; but he 
wishes us to know that it was before he took orders, 
and he adds another excuse which enfolds a quiet 
sarcasm on the culture of German princes, * perhaps 
Sigismund did not really read what he had written. 2 
It was in Latin. 

The King of France also sent ambassadors to 
Mantua, but only to raise the Neapolitan question. 
They began by praising their country and their king, 
speaking of him as an obedient son/ so as to exclude 
any notion of Papal overlordship. 3 They requested 
the Pope to rescind his recognition of Ferrante and 
acknowledge the Angevin claim. Pius commenced 
his reply by echoing the praise of France and her 
monarch ; then, turning to the ambassador s demand, 
he said that, in recognising Ferrante, he had acted after 
consultation with the Sacred College, and must con 
sult with it again before giving his answer. Immedi 
ately after this audience he was taken very ill with 
cholic, and the French declared that he pretended to 
be sick to avoid giving them a definite reply. They 
busied themselves in reducing their demands to 
writing. Word of this was borne to Pius. If I die 
in the effort, they shall have their answer, said he. 
He rose and summoned them into his presence. He 
was very pale and trembled in every limb ; but, as 
had happened in the Mantuan Duomo, he became 
himself directly he began to speak, and he continued 
to harangue the ambassadors for three hours. He 
refused to give his decision straight away. Let the 

1 Pii II. Comment., \. 2. 

2 Pii II. Comment., 1. 3. 3 Ibid. 


Monarch, called, by universal consent, the Most 
Christian King, submit suitable propositions. Mean 
while Charles of France was imperilling the souls of 
his subjects by defending and enforcing that Prag 
matic Sanction which placed the Church in the 
hands of the laity to deal with as they listed. All 
its powers existed on sufferance in France. If this 
were allowed to continue, the Church would be trans 
formed into a nameless, many-headed beast. But his 
Most Christian Majesty is blind to this, and he must be 
cured of his blindness that he may amend his ways. 

The envoys replied that they must repel all reflec 
tions on the honour of their sovereign. Pius answered 
that he would receive them when, and as often as 
they desired, and, so, dismissed them. Then the 
Cardinals crowded round the Pope and expressed 
their delight that he had maintained the rights of 
Rome so stoutly, 

Next day the ambassadors told the Pope that it 
would be impossible for their master to take any part 
in a crusade while there was war between him and 
England. The Pope replied that, if both countries 
sent an equal number of soldiers, their relative 
strength would remain unimpaired. To this the 
ambassadors replied that they had no power to 
accept such a proposition, but they were willing to 
agree to a conference for peace. Probably this was 
a hint at a Council, for, with a little intrigue, such a 
conference might be turned into one. 

The kings of Europe could not get on without the 
Papal system, so we find ambassadors arriving from 
King Rene* and bringing his obedience. They found 
Pius not too suave, for he was indignant that a fleet, 


prepared for a crusade by the energy of ecclesiastics 
in Provence, had been captured by Jean of Anjou to 
transport him to Naples. He met the envoys with 
a frown, and listened to them with impatience. 
Menaces were interchanged. The embassy threatened 
to publish a manifesto against the Pope for his recog 
nition of Ferrante, and he replied that, in that case, 
he would deal with them as heretics. Ambassadors 
also came from England, but more to seek some 
remedy for the wretched condition of their land, torn 
by the Wars of the Roses, than to do anything for 
the Christian Commonwealth. 1 Pius complains that 
e the credentials they bore were irregular and un 
witnessed ; the King had merely written " I, Henry, 
have witnessed this myself," and appended his seal. 
The Pontiff scorned such a contemptible embassy/ 2 
It is true that only two priests came, though the Earl 
of Worcester had been appointed as chief ambassador, 
but Pius was unaware that the credentials were in 
the wonted English form. 3 

Heimburg was active in exciting his countrymen 
against the Pope, and, when the crusade was agreed 
to, they relegated all details affecting Germany to 
the decision of a Diet. Pius knew only too well how 
incapable and ineffective German Diets were. He 
nominated the Emperor Frederick to be Commander, 
and the Caesar delegated his office to another prince, 
Albert of Brandenburg, who took advantage of it to 
curtail the power of bishops, and establish his own 
position in Germany. 4 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 3. 2 Ibid. 

3 Creighton, History of the Papacy, ed. of 1897, vol. iii. pp. 232, 233. 

4 Voigt, Pius II. t iii. 105 ; Pastor, Eng. trans., vol. iii. p. 97. 


By November Pius had come to perceive that the 
Congress was a failure. He wrote to Carvajal : 
* There is, to be frank, nothing of the zeal that We 
had expected. Very few have come out of regard 
for the public welfare ; all seek what they can get for 
themselves. But We have given the lie to the 
slander cast against the Apostolic See ; We have 
shown that those who blame Us are alone blame 
worthy. At least, however, the Italian powers have 
committed themselves, by signature, to this service 
of God. Yet We hear that Genoa is sending a fleet 
to carry the French to Naples, and we fear that this 
will not merely mean the loss of all help, but drag 
everybody away into the contest. If God do not 
help, all will be lost in the miseries that will befall 
Christian peoples. 1 

However, on January 14, 1460, the Pope declared 
war against the Turk. On the 19th, he made a 
speech in which he said : c All has not been done that 
we hoped for, yet not every thing has been ignored. 
The Christian Princes have neither promised all that 
they might have done, nor utterly repudiated the 
subject. 2 The ambassadors knelt before him and 
repeated their promises, and then the Pope knelt 
before the altar and offered up a prayer. Pius had 
spent more than half a year in Mantua. 

Little had he to hope from the forthcoming Diet ; 
war had broken out between Anjou and Ferrante, 
and it threatened to spread elsewhere ; he could 
neither expect to win Podiebrad, nor quiet Sigismund, 
nor triumph over France. His enemies were threaten- 

1 Eaynaldus, Ad ann. 1459. 

2 Mansi, Orationes Pii II. t ii. 79. 


ing to summon a council. He met the threat by a 
master-stroke of policy. Before he left Mantua, he 
called the Cardinals together, and with the pre 
science of the true statesman, issued the famous Bull 
Execrabilis. All appeal to a future Council the 
Bull declares to be useless, illegal, and wholly detest 
able, nothing but a screen for mischief. For a 
Council is non-existent, and, indeed, may never come 
into being. Let him that makes such an appeal, or 
even consents to it, be, in the very fact of so doing, 

Princes disobeyed ; they still threatened to summon 
a Council, but never did so. As Creighton says, the 
Bull worked itself into the ecclesiastical system, 
and became one of the pillars on which the Papal 
authority rests. 1 Pius quitted Mantua with many 
forebodings. Yet he had not wholly failed. He had 
taken what he deemed to be his rightful position 
as the Head of Italian powers and the Princes of 

Pius retained throughout his life the wonderful 
power of detaching himself from all the excitement 
and anxieties and responsibilities attached to his 
office : he could enjoy leisure hours in the beauty of 
sunshine and the society of friends. He lived to 
gather around him a few men that he found entirely 
congenial, though they were neither of rank nor of 
very remarkable mental power. He chose, above all, 
associates before whom he could lay aside all assump 
tion of dignity and position, those with whom he 
could unbend and be companionable and relapse into 
the ^Eneas Silvius of yore. There were two that he 

1 Creighton, History of the Papacy, ed. 1897, vol. iii. p. 397. 


especially loved. One of these true friends was 
Jacopo Ammanati, a Tuscan of lowly birth, whose 
scholarship recommended him to the notice of 
Nicholas v. Ammanati became secretary to Calixtus 
and retained the office under the new Pope. So 
little of aristocratic pride was there in Pius, that he 
adopted Ammanati into his own ancient family. He 
made him, first Bishop of Pavia, and then a cardinal : 
but, at this time, he was only a secretary. Ammanati 
never abused the Pope s friendship or sought riches 
for himself. He took Pius for his model, and, indeed 
in many respects, the smaller man s nature resembled 
that of the greater man. Both were humanists; 
both were a little vain ; both were sympathetic of 
heart and had winning manners ; both had a weak 
ness for belles lettres; both delighted in life; but 
Ammanati was especially given to the pleasures of 

Another companion was Gianantonio Campano, 
who took his name from the Roman Campagna where 
he had been a shepherd boy. Campano became an 
orphan at a very early age, but a good priest took 
him into his domestic service, and, being struck by the 
child s brightness, taught him what he himself knew. 
Indeed, he was so well instructed that, as a mere lad, 
he became tutor to a family in Naples, attended the 
courses of Lorenzo Valla in that city, and, at the age 
of twenty, lectured at Perugia. Like Pius, he had 
written love- poems, and he was at the service of 
others to write what they wanted. He was sent 
with the Perugian embassy to congratulate the Pope 
on his accession, took the fancy of Ammanati, and, 
through him, acquired the Pontiff s favour. Ulti- 


mately Pius made him Bishop of Croton. He still 
preserved the marks of his peasant origin, and could 
play the buffoon on occasion. He gives us a portrait 
of himself. What is Campano like? he asks. 
Well, he snores all the night through, a-bed and 
naked, he is a more appalling sight than any wild 
beast of the forest. His feet are like hooks, his hands 
are gnarled and hairy, his nose is flat, with great 
gaping nostrils, his brow overhangs his eyes, his belly 
is swollen with food and wind, he is short of limb, 
fat and round as a ball. l If, sometimes, he became a 
little coarse, he could write clearly, speak cleverly, and 
sometimes bitingly ; like Pius, while he was a master 
of epigram, his disposition was truly amiable, and he 
loved the Pope not less than Ammanati. It charmed 
the author one day when he was engaged at the 
Vatican in examining dull, dreary letters to bishops 
and other people of importance concerning ecclesiastical 
affairs to come across an evidence of the affectionate 
sympathy that existed between the two men of letters 
Pope and Court Poet. It was a dictated letter of 
Pius, of little consequence, indeed, but addressed to 
our dearest son, Campano, the well-beloved child of 

One day, at Mantua, the trio of friends took boat 
and were rowed down the river to a monastery. 
Ammanati began to read a number of congratulatory 
poems that needy bards had sent the Pope on his 
accession, with requests, or at least hints, that they 
should be rewarded for their flattery. The verses 
stimulated the three men of letters to amuse them 
selves and exercise their wit. Campano reeled off 

1 Campani, Ep. iii. 47. 


some impromptu lines to the effect that those should 
be rewarded who had not asked ; therefore, since he 
had not asked, he deserved a reward. The Pope 
replied : 

If gifts, Campano, should not then be sought, 
You pray the deaf : your gain will be but nought. 1 

Presently he said, Here is something for your 
poets : 

If poets wish but verse for verse to gain, 

Learn that we 11 mend, but will not buy their strain. 

Ammanati took the epigram up and altered it : 

Ehymesters who reel off their numbers for gold 
In dealing with Pius will find themselves sold. 

But Pius was too good-natured and too fond of 
letters to allow this to stand : he varied his own and 
Ammanati s lines once more : 

Learn, rhymesters, who offer your verses for gold, 
From Pius great gifts you may hope to behold. 

Unfortunately the impromptu containing the state 
ment We 11 mend but will not buy their strain/ got 
repeated in literary circles. Great was the dudgeon 
of scholarly sycophants, and many epigrammatic 

1 The incident is given by Ammanati. See Card. Jac. Picolom. Ep. 49. 
In the original the epigrams run thus : 

(1) Munera, Campane, si non sunt danda petenti, 

Jure tuas surda currimus aure preces. 

(2) Discite pro numeris numeros sperare, poetae ! 

Mutare est animus carmina, non emere. 

(3) Discite pro numeris nummos tractare, poetae ! 

Expectata dabit munera nulla Pius. 

(4) Discite pro numeris nummos sperare, poetae ! 

Expectata dabit munera magna Pius. 


replies were circulated, none of them too compli 
mentary. The most biting was, 

If verse for verse were fortune s fee, I trow 
No such a diadem had decked thy brow. 1 

The scholars at Rome became the Pope s bitter 
enemies. The worst of these foes was his old master 
Filelfo. Filelfo said the Pope did nothing for him, 
but this was a lie : Pius gave him a pension of two 
hundred ducats a year. Filelfo rewarded his bene 
factor by anonymous libels, and attributed all the 
most shameful vices of antiquity to him. When Pius 
died he composed a poem of jubilation, and did every 
thing he could to cast obloquy on his memory. 2 
Filelfo was a specimen of his class, and one cannot 
wonder that Pius was sparing in the encouragement 
he gave to literary sycophants. It is always danger 
ous to lend one s ear to eulogy or detraction written 
by scholars of the Renaissance. Such writings were, 
for the most part, the productions of hungry or 
greedy men who bespattered their patrons with 
fulsome praise when they got what they wanted, and 
tried to befoul their names when they were dis 
appointed ; they were a jealous tribe too, and dealt 
each other low insults and petty vengeances that 
recall a cage of enraged apes rather than the serene 
behaviour which one expects on Parnassus. Pius knew 
them well. He liked to get at the truth of every 
thing, even of himself, and he had little liking for the 
affectations of the voluble style that became fashion- 

1 Si tibi pro numeris fortima dedisset, 
Non esset capiti tanta corona tuo. 

See Voigt, Pius II. t vol. iii. p. 628 as to the authorship of this. 
2 See Voigt, vol. iii. p. 635, et seq. 



able in his later years. He was wont to say to 
Campano that a poet, to be worth anything, must be 
original. And there was another reason, also, for his 
neglect of the humanists. He repented of his own 
erotic writings ; he had vainly endeavoured to recall 
them, but they were more widely circulated than 
ever, now that he had become Pope. He was always 
possessed by a strong sense of duty, and it would be 
inconsistent with his sacred office to encourage literary 
aspirants who lived depraved lives and put great 
abilities to base uses. His own library was chiefly 
composed of Christian authors. 1 

In the intervals of grave and anxious business at 
Mantua, then, we see the Pope delighting in pleasant 
companionship and a country life. He made many 
little excursions from the city, and his interest in 
archaeology led him to visit the so-called villa of 

1 Muntz, La Bibliotheque du Vatican au xv. Siecle, p. 132. 




WHILE the Pope was at Mantua he was entreated by 
Sigismondo Malatesta to mediate between him and 
two foes who were in league against him, Federigo da 
Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and Piccinino. There 
was perpetual war among the petty rulers of Romagna, 
and Pius spoke very sharply on the subject. He 
made Malatesta promise to pay 60,000 ducats which 
he owed Ferrante, in order to supply the King with 
those sinews of war he so sorely lacked, and he took 
Fano and Sinigaglia, places under the rule of Mala 
testa, in pledge. Piccinino, angered at being balked 
a second time by the Pope, and obliged to withdraw 
from the States of the Church, prepared to march 
towards Naples to fight for the Angevins, and, though 
the Duke of Urbino was on the watch and hoped to 
intercept his band, he succeeded in evading that 
famous condottiere and reached the kingdom. The 
most formidable among the Neapolitan lords, ever on 
the watch to weaken the power of the Crown, declared 
for the French side and it seemed as if the cause of 
Ferrante would be lost. When Pius reached Ferrara 
on his return journey from Mantua, Borso of Este, 
with the crafty duplicity so characteristic of the 
diplomacy of the age, offered to deal with Piccinino 


on the Pope s behalf; but Pius perceived that the 
Marquis meditated treachery and gave him a refusal. 
When the Pope arrived at Florence he saw Cosimo de 
Medici, the man who, though a simple merchant in 
his mode of life, really controlled the destiny of the 
state. Pius tried to induce Cosimo to espouse the 
cause of Ferrante, as did Cosimo s friend Sforza, but 
the Florentines always held the commerce of the 
kingdom in their hands when it was under the 
Angevins, and Medici refused. But the city, like 
every city he visited, did due honour to the Head of 
Christendom. Everywhere, in honour of his coming, 
spectacular displays were prepared which combined 
the fine taste of the Renaissance with a child 
like and even vulgar ostentation. And Pius, like 
everybody else, without exception, enjoyed whatever 
was presented with a most catholic and healthy 

Instead of leading a crusade, Pius now found him 
self and his Milanese allies at war with the Angevin 
party ; and he was laid up for a time with a depressing 
attack of the gout. On January 31, 1460, he was 
sufficiently recovered to enter Siena, and was re 
ceived after the fashion of a triumph . . . especially 
by the women, whose nature it is to be more religious 
than men, and who bear kindlier feelings towards 
the priesthood. 1 In July news came that the troops 
of Ferrante were thoroughly routed, and that the 
King himself had escaped from the battle-field with 
great difficulty. The only hope left lay with Naples 
itself, for that city maintained unshaken loyalty to 
Ferrante. Rene of Provence tried to detach the 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 4. 


Pope by exciting an insurrection in Avignon, but his 
design failed. Then he threatened to appeal to a 
General Council. The French party in the Curia 
insulted the Pope directly they heard the news. 
They lit bonfires in the public places of Siena, and 
behaved rudely to his servants. Pius, like most 
gouty men, was subject to fits of depression. For a 
time he fell into doubt as to whether, for the good of 
the Church, and the forwarding of the Crusade, it 
might not be well to abandon Ferrante, whose cause 
seemed so hopeless. Simonetta says he became 
thoroughly frightened. 1 He certainly wrote to the 
Duke of Urbino, entreating him not to risk a battle, 
* for, said he, c if you should suffer defeat Our states 
would be thrown open to the enemy. 2 But the 
Pope and Sforza were in constant communication, and 
gave one another heart, for they knew that there 
were dissensions in the hostile camp ; moreover, in 
the wars of Italy, conducted, as they were, by mer 
cenaries, victory ultimately fell to the longest purse. 
Pius spoke boldly and firmly to the envoys sent by 
Rene, and takes credit to himself for having pre 
served an unshaken mind. No doubt he took care 
to appear unmoved. 

He strengthened the States of the Church by 
getting Ferrante to cede Castiglione della Pescia in 
Tuscany, and the island of Guglio, which he placed 
under the government of his nephew Andrea, and 
also Terracina, a strong position at the natural 
boundary of the Kingdom and the Papal States, 
which he put in the hands of Antonio Piccolomini. 

1 Simonetta, in Muratori, R. I. $., xxi. 713. 

2 Raynaldus, Ad. ann. 1460, 1463. 


A party in Terracina had petitioned the Pope to take 
their town over, and he was careful to confirm the 
commune in its rights of municipal self-government. 
The presence of Jews in a city was so advantageous 
that the citizens further asked Pius to allow them to 
settle there. He granted their request, and had such 
unusual consideration for natural family rights, that 
he forbade any Jew to be admitted to baptism under 
the age of twelve. 

In order to strengthen his authority in Siena, 
establish his own political views there, and do honour 
to the land of his forefathers and the place so full to 
him of youthful memories, he advanced the city to 
the dignity of an archbishopric, and appointed his 
nephew, Francesco de Todeschini, a young man of 
twenty- three, to the see. His enemies charged him 
with nepotism and too much devotion to the Sienese, 
but nepotism was necessary to a Pope surrounded by 
foes in his own curia, and, while it gratified Pius to 
advance his relatives and fellow-countrymen, he 
never did so at the expense of the States of the 
Church. Francesco was a talented man who attained 
the Papacy himself forty years later. Pius further 
strengthened his position by nominating six cardinals 
(March 1460). He tells us it was arranged that 
only one of these should be a nephew, and that he 
refused to permit even this unless the Cardinals 
should supplicate him earnestly to do so. 1 No doubt 
he affected reluctance, knowing very well that he was 
liked by every one, that he had increased his popu 
larity by his zeal for the Faith, and that he would 
get his own way. He nominated the new Archbishop 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1, 4. 



Pinturicchio, Siena. 


of Siena, and also Niccolo de Forteguerra, a relative 
on his mother s side, a man experienced in warfare, 
and therefore able to give sound military advice. 
Now, he thought it desirable to assert his authority, 
and, when the Bishops of Reati and Spoleto, excel 
lent statesmen, and Burchard, Provost of Salzburg, 
were agreed to, he insisted on choosing a sixth with 
out submitting his name. He was a man, said Pius, 
that they would all welcome. The Sacred College 
murmured, but gave way, and the Pope named Ales- 
sandro Oliva, an Augustinian, famous for his piety 
and learning. Five of the new Cardinals were 
Italians, but, to prevent the jealousy of other nations, 
and in conformity with precedent, the announcement 
of the German nomination was deferred until a new 
batch of Cardinals should be created. 

Pius hung about his beloved Tuscan land, reviving 
youthful memories, and, when his gout compelled 
him to take the baths at Macerata and Petrioli, he 
revelled in the delights of the countryside. e It was 
the joyous spring-time, when the valleys smile in 
their garment of green leafage and flowers, and the 
fields are luxuriant with young growing crops. . . . 
The Pope passed through the country with happiness 
in his heart, and found the baths no less delightful. 
The river Mersa refreshes the land, a stream full of 
eels, small indeed, but they are delicious eating. 
You enter the valley through cultivated fields, and 
pass many castles and villas. As one approaches the 
baths the scenery becomes wilder and is shut in by a 
massive bridge of stone and by clifis and woods. To 
the right the steeps are clothed with evergreen ilex ; 
to the left are forests of oak and ash, and round the 


baths are little lodging-houses. Here the Pope 
stayed a month, bathing twice a day. He never 
neglected his duties, however, but, two hours before 
sunset, he was wont to go down to the meads by 
the river and choose the most vernal spot for receiv 
ing embassies and petitions. Thither peasant-women 
would come with flowers to strew along his pathway 
to the bath, looking for the reward of kissing his 
foot, which filled them with joy. l 

While he was taking these simple pleasures, Cardinal 
Eoderigo Borgia, afterwards Pope Alexander vi., was at 
Siena, also enjoying himself, but in quite another way. 
Word came that he had been dancing, none too 
decently, with certain fair ladies of the city ; indeed, 
no incitements of passion were wanting. 2 The 
Pope wrote him a severe but forbearing letter, tem 
pering his censure by a reference to Borgia s youth, 
though he was twenty -nine years of age. Beloved 
son, said the Pope, We have learned that your 
Worthiness, forgetful of the high place wherein you 
are installed, was present, four days ago, from the 
sixteenth to the twenty-second hour, in the gardens 
of Giovanni de Bichi, with several women-triflers of 
Siena. You had with you one of your colleagues, 
whom years, if not the dignity of his office, might have 
reminded of his duty. We are informed that there 
was dissolute dancing, wanting in none of the entice 
ments of sense, and that you conducted yourself in a 
wholly worldly vein. Shame forbids the recounting 
of all that took place, for the very names given to 
these things are unworthy of your position. In order 
that you might have greater licence, the fathers, 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 4. 2 Kaynaldus, Ad ann. 1460, N. 31. 


brothers, and kinsmen of these young women and 
girls were not invited. You and a few servants 
organised and led the orgy. It is said that all the 
talk of Siena is about your folly, which makes you 
a general laughing-stock. Here, at the baths, where 
there are many churchmen as well as laymen, be 
sure you are sufficiently talked about. No words 
can express Our displeasure, for you have brought 
disgrace on the holy state and office. Folk will be 
ready to say that they make us rich and important 
to live blameless lives, but that we occupy ourselves 
in the gratification of our lusts. This is the reason 
why princes and rulers hold us in contempt and the 
peoples gibe at us. Scorn falls on the Vicar of Christ, 
for he would seem to permit such things. Remember, 
beloved son, that you are responsible as Bishop of 
Valencia, the most important see in Spain ; you are 
Chancellor of the Church ; nay, more, and this makes 
your conduct still worse, you are a cardinal, sitting 
with the Pope as one of his counsellors. We will 
leave it to your own judgement whether it befits your 
dignity to play the lover to girls and send fruit and 
wine to your mistresses and think of nothing but 
the flesh throughout the livelong day. Folk blame 
Us and the blessed memory of your uncle, Calixtus, 
and there are many who charge him with wrong 
doing in having advanced you. If you excuse your 
self on the ground of youth, We reply that you are no 
longer so young as to be ignorant of the duties your 
office imposes on you. A cardinal should be above 
reproach and an example to all. If that were so, we 
could be justly indignant when princes revile us, 
claim what is ours, and force us to do their will. 


But we cause our own sufferings, for, by such conduct 
as yours, we lower the authority of the Church day 
by day. Our punishment is dishonour in this life 
and will be deserved anguish in that which is to 
come. Therefore, let your good sense prevail over 
frivolity; never again allow yourself to forget your 
dignity ; never let people speak of you again as a 
frivolous gallant. If you repeat the offence, We shall 
be compelled to show that you have disregarded 
warning, that We have been much distressed, and We 
shall censure you in such a way that you will blush. 
We have always loved you and thought you deserved 
Our defence as an earnest, modest man. Therefore, 
conduct yourself from now so as to keep Our good 
opinion of you and Our thought of your life as well- 
ordered. We admonish you as a father, because your 
years still admit of reform. Petrioli, June 11, 1460/ 1 
Borgia was a man with blinking eyes, 2 but of good 
manners, considerable ability, and irresistible attrac 
tion for women. The admonition of the Pope had no 
effect. In this very year all men knew Vanozza de 
Cataneis to be his mistress, and he did not take 
priest s orders during Pius s lifetime. 3 

But the scandal caused by Borgia was a com 
paratively small vexation. The Pope was troubled 
by serious news from Rome. He had left Nicholas 
of Cusa in charge there, and Cusa had appointed a 
Vicar-General who was a weak man. Rome, like other 
Italian cities, was full of factions, and the Republican 
party was powerful and energetic. Another party 
held treasonable correspondence with Anjou and 

1 Raynaldus, Ad ann. 1460, N. 31. 2 Sigismondo de Conti, ii. 270. 

3 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. v. p. 363. 


Piccinino. Two bands of lawless youths murdered, 
robbed, and raped at will, and the authorities did 
nothing, hoping the disorders would force the Pope 
to return ; for the Papal presence made a great 
difference to the prosperity of the city. Pius sent a 
military force to support the magistrates, and told 
them it was their duty to preserve order ; obedience 
would bring him back, but not turbulence ; if they 
thought to force him they were vastly mistaken. 1 
The disorders did not diminish. One band of aristo 
cratic ruffians carried off a girl on her way to be 
married. Another band fortified themselves in the 
Pantheon ; others took and occupied Capranica s 
palace, and only left the city at the humble request 
of the authorities that it might please them to do so. 
They were accompanied to the gates by a guard of 
honour. Others sacked convents and violated the 
nuns. 2 At last Pius felt obliged to return to Rome, 
and his journey was hastened by news that Piccinino 
had invaded the Papal States and, aided by some of 
the barons of the Campagna, was marching on the 
city itself. Further, a conspiracy to take the life of 
the Pope s nephew, Antonio, and capture the city 
was discovered. 

Pius was ill ; nothing was ready for the journey, 
but he started at once, though Piccinino was threaten 
ing Rome and many cardinals were against taking the 
risk. At Viterbo, a Roman deputation met him and 
entreated him to pardon the turbulent youth of the 
city. What town is so free as yours ? he replied. 
You pay no taxes ; you bear no burdens ; you occupy 

1 Pastor, History of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iii. p. 107. 

2 Pii II. Comment., 1. 4. 


the most honourable communal positions ; you fix 
your own prices ; you get good rents. And who is 
your ruler ? Is he a count, a marquis, a duke, a king, 
an emperor ? Nay, but the greatest among them all, 
the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ, one 
whose very feet all men desire to kiss. You show 
but wisdom when you do reverence to such a ruler; 
your prosperity comes through him, for he attracts 
wealth from the whole world to your city. You 
supply the Roman Curia, too, and it brings you wealth 
from every country. l An escort of five hundred horse, 
sent by Sforza, came to guard the Pope. Outside 
Rome, a deputation, followed by many of the revolu 
tionaries, met him. They wanted to carry his litter, 
and discovered him eating a humble meal, procured 
with some difficulty ; he was seated by a well, enjoy 
ing it with quiet content. Cardinals and attendants 
prayed him to act with caution. I will walk on the 
asp and basilisk, he replied, and trample on the 
lion and basilisk. He meant what he said ; he also 
loved to produce an effect. 

Hardly had he entered Rome when fresh con 
spiracies were hatched. Some of the conspirators 
were captured. One Tiburzio, the nephew of Porcaro, 
the republican conspirator of a previous generation, 
believed his brother to be among the prisoners, and, 
accompanied by a small band, rushed into the city to 
release him. He shouted to the mob to arm them 
selves, but was seized, and, with some other offenders, 
executed. Pius refused to allow them to be tortured. 

But Piccinino still threatened Rome, aided by some 
of the barons, and Sforza and Ferrante were luke- 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 4. 


warm friends to the Pope, for both were annoyed 
with him for strengthening the Papal States by the 
acquisition of Terracina. The Italian States had 
discovered how the principle of a balance of powers 
can maintain comparative peace, and each was anxious 
not to let any neighbour grow too strong. Sigis- 
mondo Malatesta, too, was giving trouble, and Pius 
could not raise troops, for he was little more than 
nominal overlord of the Papal States, and the best 
troops came from his unsettled fiefs that were held 
by Malatesta and other petty despots of Romagna. 
But, as usual, the real protection of the Papacy lay 
in the dissensions that existed among its foes. At 
last Piccinino went into winter quarters. 

By the beginning of next year (1461) things looked 
more hopeful. Rome was quiet and many of the 
Neapolitan barons were going over to Ferrante, while 
the Genoese, aided by Sforza, drove the French out of 
their city. The Pope s nephew, Antonio, commanded 
the Papal forces, but he did not prove a very com 
petent general. This is shown by the Pope s letters, 
though they are filled with love and solicitude. 1 
Pius arranged a marriage between Antonio and 
Maria, the illegitimate daughter of Ferrante, who was 
to bring the Duchy of Amalfi as a dowry. He en 
trusted the arrangement to a legate. 2 When this was 
brought against him by the French as an objection 
able and crafty policy, he defended the scheme by the 
curious remark that Antonio liked the maid and he 
had left the pair perfectly free. Such an apology 

1 See Ratti, Studi e documenti delta Societa Storica Lombardia, 1903, 
Ep. 15, 16, 20, 41. 

2 Ratti, loc. cit., letter 20 (May 17, 1461). 


was far from common in an age when marriages 
among folk of importance were determined by any 
motive but that of mutual affection. Here, again, it 
would seem as if the Pope were not quite at ease with 
his own conscience. Such meticulous scruples strike 
a very modern note ; but it can hardly be questioned 
that Pius at least mentioned mutual willingness as 
a condition of the bargain. 

The latest Roman peace did not last long. The 
palaces of the cardinals had to be fortified and filled 
with troops. 1 In July, the Savelli came into Rome. 
They had taken the Angevin side, but peace was 
granted to them on the terms they chose to ask, for 
they were connected with the most powerful clan in 
Rome the Colonna. 2 Pius ordered strong fortifica 
tions to be built at once, to command the city and 
repel the foe. The Milanese ambassador wrote : The 
Sicilian vespers will be repeated here/ and Pius said 
to Caretto that the mere theft of an ox set all the 
people in an uproar. 3 The Pope was ill, and Rome 
was by no means a very safe place ; so, in June 1462, 
when the summer heats had begun, he moved on to 
Tivoli, while the work of fortification was being 
pushed on with. 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., yol. iii. p. 114. 

2 Pii II. Comment., 1. 5 ; Cugnoni, J., Pii II. op. ined., Komae, 1883, 
p. 209 et seq. 

3 Pastor, loc. cit., vol. iii. p. 115. 




THE Neapolitan struggle, and the attitude taken by 
France and Germany towards the Papacy meant the 
postponing, perhaps the abandoning, of a crusade. 

We have seen that at Bourges, in 1438, a Prag 
matic Sanction was declared, which Pius defines as 
a rescript of the ruler, a supreme sanction of affairs/ 
A pragmatic rescript/ according to St. Augustine, 
overrides an imperial mandate. This French Prag 
matic Sanction was entirely hateful to the Papacy, 
for it acknowledged the Council of Basel and de 
manded that a General Council should assemble 
every ten years ; it denied the Pope annates and 
firstfruits ; neither he nor the Curia was to enjoy 
reservations and expectancies, and thus the revenues 
of Rome were seriously curtailed. Though the Sanc 
tion attempted very moderate reform in the French 
Church, such as punishing a priest who kept a 
concubine with three months suspension, it was 
entirely hateful to Rome, not only on account of its 
recognition of the conciliar principle, but also be 
cause it founded a national Church, an imperium in 
imperio, in opposition to the theory of the universal 
Church, and placed French ecclesiastics under lay 
jurisdiction. In practice it transferred power from 


the Eoman Ecclesiastical Government to the king 
and his nobles, for they filled up benefices, or, oftener, 
kept them vacant to enjoy the revenues; they 
lowered the standard of qualification required for 
priesthood, subjected churchmen to the civil magis 
tracy, referred questions of faith to the judgement 
of the French Parliament, and practically annulled 
all Papal authority. 1 But most Frenchmen supported 
their national Church, since the University of Paris 
held the gift of one-third of the benefices. Moreover, 
the Sanction flattered the growing national feeling. 
A third and very important reason why Frenchmen 
supported it was that gold no longer flowed out of 
the country to Rome. But many French clergy were 
bitterly opposed to the Pragmatic Sanction. 

The Sanction had the strong support of King 
Charles vu. But he died, July 22, 1461, and the 
dauphin, Louis, who succeeded him, had been on 
very bad terms with his father. Louis XI. was a 
refugee in Burgundy when news was brought him of 
the death of Charles, and he resolved to be friendly 
with the Papacy, since he dreaded that his accession 
to the crown might be contested. 

When he found himself firmly established, his first 
care was to curtail the power of the nobles and in 
crease his own importance and authority. But he 
was also anxious to support the Angevin claim to 
Naples. The personal government of France by the 
Crown was his ideal, and the way to it was smoothed 
by the weakening of the French nobility owing to the 
Anglo-French wars. He knew that he would have 
the support of the masses that groaned under the 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 6. 


oppressions of feudalism, but he determined to stop 
the evolution of anything like a constitution. He 
refused requests made in favour of the Parliament 
and University. By the pain of God/ he said, 
I will do nothing of the kind. You are evil folk, 
and live scandalous lives, and you breed scoffers. 
Away with you, you are not such as I would mix 
with. 1 

We have seen that Pius believed in government 
by a strong, central power, and he was ready to 
support Louis s designs against his nobility. He 
negotiated with him through Jean Jouffroy, Bishop 
of Arras, a man of eloquent discourse and great pro 
jects ; a schemer, but not tenacious ; very lustful of 
gain, one who never took up anything out of which 
he could not gain something for himself. 2 Pius had 
afterwards to suffer for trusting this clerical diplo 
matist. The Pope also wrote an autograph letter to 
Louis, in which he said, if your prelates or the 
University want anything from Us, let them ask it 
through you, for We, of all Popes, will be first in 
honouring and loving your race and nation, nor will 
We oppose your requests if they are consistent with 
honour. 3 This was consummate diplomacy. Pius s 
object was to purchase the annulment of the Prag 
matic Sanction by seconding Louis s attempts to 
exalt the throne. If the King made the Church sub 
servient to himself, little harm could ensue so long 
as he remained subservient to the Pope. But 
directly he failed to do so, or his rule over the clergy 

1 Chastellain, (Euvres Chroniques, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove, 1864, 
iv. 200. 

2 Du Clercq, quoted by Pastor, Eng. trans., vol. iii. p. 157. 

3 Pius ii., Ep. ad Ludov. Eeg. FT., Oct. 26, 1461. 


became obnoxious, the Papacy could annul its sanc 
tion, and the Church in France, helpless, since the 
Pragmatic Sanction would be annulled, would find its 
deliverer in the Pope. 

On his side Louis wanted two things a voice in 
the Curia, and the withdrawal of Papal support from 
Ferrante. In November he rescinded the Pragmatic 
Sanction. Pius was unable to keep back tears of 
joy: He was proud of his diplomacy, too, and wrote 
to Gregorio Lolli, his secretary at Siena, saying it 
was c long since a Sienese had won such a victory. 
And, not without much opposition from his cardinals, 
he conferred cardinals hats on the Bishop of Arras 
and Prince Louis D Albret, to please the French King. 
For political reasons, Don Jayme de Cardona, a rela 
tive of the King of Aragon, and Francesco Gonzaga, a 
lad of seventeen, belonging to the house ruling at 
Mantua, also received the purple, as did Bartolomeo 
Rovarella, Bishop of Ravenna, as the reward of much 
official work for the Curia, and Jacopo Ammanati, 
the Pope s dear friend. Louis said he was really 
pleased, for he had obtained two cardinals from one 

The mind of the Pope was bent on the help that 
the French King could give in a crusade, and he 
sent him a consecrated sword on which were engraved 
Latin verses of his own composition to this effect : 
Draw me forth, Louis, with your right hand against 
the furious Turk. I will avenge the blood of the 
Greeks. The empire of Mohammed will fall, and the 
far-famed valour of the French will rise to the stars 
when you shall lead. 

But Pius did not know King Louis. The monarch 


was playing for the recognition of the Angevins ; his 
revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction was nothing but 
a trick ; he was by no means anxious for a crusade. 
When he found that Pius would not acknowledge the 
House of Anjou he turned against him. Jouffroy, too, 
had got what he wanted, and, directly he took his 
seat among the Cardinals, he informed the Pope that 
the Pragmatic Sanction was only repealed in name : 
all would be in abeyance until the King s wish in 
regard to Naples was complied with. 1 

Pius was greatly troubled. Above all things he 
desired peace in Europe, for without it a crusade were 
impossible. Ferrante had no money, the Pope but 
little, and they depended on mercenary troops. 
Florence and Venice wished to see the Pope weak 
ened, as did his ally, Sforza. Savoy, Montferrat and 
Modena were against Sforza, because he was their 
neighbour. Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini was in 
revolt, and other rulers in the Papal States were 
ready to cast off their allegiance. And Sforza lay ill 
in Milan, and the city was disaffected. The German 
Princes and Bohemia were hostile to the Papacy. 
Burgundy and Spain followed the leadership of 
France, and a council was threatened on all sides. 
The Pope doubted whether it would not be wise to 
declare neutrality in the Neapolitan question, and he 
consulted Caretto, Sforza s envoy in Rome. 2 Caretto 
told him that his master would not abandon Ferrante, 
and advised the Pope to gain time by saying smooth 
things to the French envoys ; for Venice would never 
consent to French predominance if it became imminent, 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 7. 

2 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iii. pp. 142, 143. 


and Louis would never undertake a long, perilous 
expedition. But, if the Pope gave way, the French 
would dominate all Italy, and the next Pope would be 
a Frenchman. The French cardinals were only eager 
for their own personal reasons, yet the situation was^ 
too grave for any zeal for a crusade to be allowed to 
interfere. Jouffroy, on the other side, also tried to 
influence the Pope and Curia. Pius was in a state of 
absolute fear, bat he resolved to stand by Ferrante, 
and put on a bold face, though Louis promised to send 
40,000 horse and 30,000 men for a crusade if the Pope 
would come over to him, speaking, says Pius, with 
great swelling words and patent guile. 1 Biverio, a 
Milanese envoy, says that his Holiness replied with 
so much gentle dignity, so sonorously, and with such 
persuasive words, that the entire public consistory 
remained dumb. He was, indeed, so eloquent that 
there was perfect silence as if nobody at all was in the 
hall. 2 Pius pretended that he could not believe the 
King could possibly change his mind and forgo his 
pledged word. 

Private negotiations followed. France sent menaces, 
but Pius remained firm. Louis replied angrily and 
sent ignorant, blustering envoys that knew no lan 
guage but their own. He called on the Pope to con 
firm a favourite of his in a benefice, and told him he 
had better do so, as if he refused, he, Louis, would see 
that his man kept it. The Pope refused, and asked 
Louis if he would suffer an address after this style : 
Give me this castle of your own free-will ; if you deny 

1 Pii II. Comment., \. 7. 

2 Report of Elverius ; Pastor, Hist, of the Papacy, Eng. trans., vol. iii. 
p. 150, note 1. 


me I will take it. 1 He was emboldened to make a 
firm stand because he had private information that 
Louis was not prepared to follow up his bluster with 
deeds. The craft of the French King was measureless, 
but he was timid at heart, like Filippo Maria Visconti 
of Milan. He allowed the working of the Pragmatic 
Sanction to continue so far as it strengthened his own 
hand and enabled him to replace the anarchical 
government of territorial lords by the autocracy of the 
crown. But he had received a check through the 
quiet persistency of the Papacy that awaited events 
to choose its own time and give effect to its theocratic 

The Neapolitan war and the attempts of Piccinino 
to seize Papal territory for himself gave the insub 
ordinate, unruly feudatories of the Pope an opportunity 
to take up arms against him. The people of Romagna 
were a turbulent breed of men ; very small states 
were controlled by despots, who exercised cruel and 
vindictive authority, because they were weak and 
insecure. Among the worst of these tyrants was 
Sigismondo Malatesta. He now reoccupied places of 
which he had been deprived at the Mantuan Congress, 
and entered into a league with Piccinino. In December 
1460, Pius was obliged to excommunicate him and 
declare that he had forfeited his fee ; whereupon 
Malatesta was anxious to know whether excommuni 
cation deprived wine of its flavour or interfered with 
the pleasures of the table. He scoffed at the Pope 
and filled up the holy- water basins with ink. Pius 

1 Cugnoni, J., ^Eneae Sylvii Piccolomini Senensis, Pii II., opera inedita, 
Komae, 1883, pp. 144, 145. 


ordered that his portrait should be painted and copies 
hung up throughout the states of the Church 1 (pro 
bably upside down, for that was the custom of the 
times), with an inscription : This is Sigismondo 
Malatesta, the enemy of God and man, condemned to 
fire by the Sacred College/ After exhibition the 
portraits were solemnly burned. 2 He was of a noble 
family, says the Pope, born out of wedlock. He 
was robust both of body and mind, eloquent, with a 
knowledge of artistic matters as well as of warfare, 
and not a little learned in history and philosophy. 
In whatever he took up his great natural gifts were 
manifest ; but he delighted in doing evil ; he oppres 
sed the poor and robbed the rich, and did not even 
spare widows and orphans. No one lived safely under 
his rule. . . . He hated priests, and believed that the 
mind perishes with the body. Yet he built a noble 
church at Rimini in honour of St. Francis, but it is so 
filled with art of a pagan character as to seem less 
fitted for Christian worship than for the adoration of 
the heathen gods/ This is precisely the judgement of 
our own age on the beautiful yet anything but 
Christian dream of Leon Battista Alberti ; and it is 
remarkable to find Pius making a remark so in 
accordance with modern feeling in the century when 
a vital classical revival dwelt side by side with 
Catholicism without clash or arousing the slightest 
sense of incongruity. There, continues the Pope, he 
built a tomb for himself and his concubine, beautiful 
alike in execution and the quality of the marble ; and, 
after the heathen fashion, he dedicated it to the 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iv. p. 115. 

2 Pii II. Comment., 1. 7. 


divine Isotta. The fiercer side of this typical tyrant 
of the Renaissance is well exhibited by his answer to 
one of his subject who prayed for peace, and pointed 
out to Malatesta that he was destroying what was his 
own country by rapine. The despot replied with a 
cheery air, as if he were giving pleasure to others as 
well as to himself, Never shall you have peace so long 
as I am alive/ It would seem that Pius, the born 
writer, who was never so happy as when employing 
his fluent pen, wrote epigrams on Malatesta ; for the 
despot sent a letter to the Duke of Milan : * I am 
informed that His Holiness has composed certain 
verses casting ignominy on me, and has sent them to 
Florence to be circulated. Therefore I have resolved 
to act according to the maxim, " Do honour to thine 
enemy." It is my pleasure to inform His Illustrious 
Holiness, as my overlord, that he may rest assured I 
will not brook such things, albeit His Holiness is my 
lord and I his vicar and servant. When such things 
are spread abroad I will answer, so far as I can put 
out my full powers. If the pen offends me, I shall re 
taliate by the pen : let the sword be drawn and I will 
defend myself to the death, for, however insignificant 
a person I may be, trust me, I shall remember what 
has been said, "A brave death ennobles a whole life." 1 
Malatesta fought like a furious bear, says Pius, but 
the Pope persisted in his efforts to subjugate him, 
though Sforza desired all available forces to be 
directed against the Angevins. 2 So determined was 
Pius to bring his own states under discipline that 
when, in 1463, a French embassy proposed a truce in 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iii. Appendix, No. 56. 

2 Ibid., vol. iii. p. 119. 



Naples, it fell through because he would not include 
Malatesta in it. The despot invaded the lands of the 
Pope s nephew, Antonio, but, at last his power was 
broken, at Senigaglia, by his neighbour and rival, 
the Condottiere-ruler, Federigo of Urbino. Florence, 
Milan, and Venice, unwilling to see the Papacy too 
strong, intervened on his behalf, and Pius pardoned 
him. He had to humble himself before the Pope, but 
remained ready to rebel if Papal promises were not 
kept. Pius allowed him and his brother to retain a 
much-reduced territory, and insisted on an annual 
tribute (1463). 

It was a relief to Pius to forget all about these 
troubles beneath the shade of a tree or in the presence 
of a landscape viewed from a merciful height, or 
listening to the murmur of a brook and that soft 
music of the woods to which silence itself seems 
unpeaceful, or watching the deft pen of his secretaries 
as he dictated to them and indulged in what was the 
least repressible of all his impulses his passion for 
authorship. And, on August 18, 1463, an event 
happened which relieved him of much anxiety and 
set him free for the execution of his great pro 
ject. Ferrante of Naples won a decisive victory over 
Piccinino at Troja; and, as Genoa had ejected the 
French from their city, many Neapolitan barons that 
had fought for the Angevins forsook their colours and 
made terms for themselves, though they remained 
ready to give Ferrante trouble on every occasion and 
prevent him from acquiring too much power. The Pope 
in the course of his description of these events throws 
a valuable light on the character of warfare and Italy 
and the mercenary captains in the fifteenth century. 


After Troja, Alessandro Sforza, a condottiere, offered 
battle to Piccinino, but the latter declined to fight. 
Piccinino, however, visited Sforza in his camp and 
asked his brother condottiere what he could possibly 
gain by conquering him. By breaking the peace of 
Italy he, Piccinino, had done Sforza a great service, 
for he had given him occupation and the spoils that 
come of warfare ; no one is anxious for peace, except 
priests and traders ; did he, or any other soldier, 
want to lose his importance and go back to the 
plough ? What is a soldier out of employment to do ? 
Now, if war goes on there is a chance of winning duke 
doms, like Francesco Sforza ; therefore it would be to 
their mutual interest to keep the war going as long 
as possible. Sforza told him that his fear about war 
coming to an end was quite uncalled for that would 
never happen until Italy should be under one rule, and 
that event was far enough off. Piccinino replied that 
he had fought for the French for pay, he had changed 
sides for pay, and he was ready to change sides again 
if it were made worth his while. 1 

Germany gave the Pope much concern throughout 
his Pontificate. All the Teutonic powers cities and 
princes alike were at war with each other. Pius 
tried to mediate, but met with little success. In the 
depth of winter 1459 he sent Cardinal Bessarion to 
see what he could do, though that worthy Greek was 
sixty-five years of age. Pius tells that though 
Bessarion repeated the commands of Christ, and 
pointed out how the Turk was profiting by the 
weakness of their land, his exhortations were listened 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 10. 


to as if they had been idle tales. 1 Bessarion asked 
repeatedly to be recalled, but Pius refused, first urging 
him to bear all things with brotherly love, and then 

this was Pius s favourite maxim if two courses, 

both evil, were before him, to choose the one that he 
deemed likely to do least harm. 2 Pius s large experi 
ence of life had taught him that doing what is right 
almost invariably carries a wrong with it, and that 
the path of duty is not always plain. Bessarion still 
entreated to be allowed to return, and Pius rebuked 
him somewhat more sternly. He wrote : f If others 
leave the plough, it is not fitting for us to do so. 
Evil men are often turned from their course by those 
who persevere in doing what is right : sometimes bad 
hearts are changed. ... If you left you would give 
the advantage to our foes. . . . We should appear to 
be feeble and vacillating, for We have often declared 
We would surrender the work of the Diet with Our 
life only/ 3 The Diet referred to was one held at 
Niirnberg after the Congress of Mantua. At last 
Bessarion proved that his mission was hopeless, and 
he returned, to his relief, from a barbarous land 
where no one cared for Latin and Greek/ 

One reason why the Germans would not listen to 
Bessarion was that he was perpetually advocating a 
Turkish war, and the Chronicle of Spires tells us 
they had too many quarrels among themselves to 
want another with the Turk. 4 

It was customary in Germany to fill important sees 
with warlike ecclesiastics. These were chosen from 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 5. 

2 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iii. p. 168, note 3. 

3 Mailath, Geschichte der Magyar en, 3. Band, App. 143 et seq. 

4 Quoted by Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iii. p. 168. 


powerful families that, none the less, only preserved 
their position by the exhibition of military qualities. 
Such a man of the sword was Diether, elected to the 
Archbishopric of Mainz. The new prelate was a strong 
partisan, but he was uneducated, and Pius ordered 
him to appear personally before him for confirmation. 
Diether refused, and appealed to a future council. 
Pius excommunicated him ; but he defied the Pope 
and continued to fulfil his office. Heimburg at once 
gave him trenchant support, and a long war of words 
was waged, until, ultimately, Adolf of Nassau, for 
personal reasons, took up the Pope s cause, captured 
the city of Mainz, and set it on fire. George Podiebrad, 
who was intriguing to depose Frederick the Emperor 
and take his place, aided by some German princes, 
supported Diether, but there were many Teutonic 
rulers who stood by Pope and Emperor. Belonging 
to the league against the Two Swords was Duke 
Sigismund of the Tyrol, for he was incensed against 
the Papacy owing to his quarrel with Cusa the Papal 
legate. Sigismund had tried violent means against 
Cusa, and, in consequence, was excommunicated. The 
excommunication, however, was not effective, for 
the Duke was supported by his subjects. It was 
evident that Papal authority was no longer respected 
among the peoples beyond the Alps, as of yore : 
schisms and councils and the rising national senti 
ment of the northern peoples had undermined ancient 
theories concerning the unity, under Pope and Em 
peror, of all Catholic peoples, But Pius, with the 
traditional persistency of the Papacy in never abating 
one jot of its high claim, summoned Sigismund to 
appear before him in person. The Duke appealed 


to his father-in-law, the King of Scotland, and other 
rulers, and was ably backed by Heimburg, the most 
incisive debater and most powerful pamphleteer of his 
time. Heimburg drew up an appeal to a future Pope 
and council, and care was taken that copies should 
be sent to Italy and nailed up to the church doors. 
Cusa had chosen to attack Sigismund s character, and 
Heimburg retaliated by recalling the Pope s sayings 
and doings at Basel. Pius was restrained by his 
dignity from replying directly, though it must have 
galled so ready a writer to withhold his pen, but he so 
far surrendered his judgement to his temper as to 
issue a futile order to the magistrates of Germany. 
He directed them to seize Heimburg and his goods, 
and couched the bull in the vigorous language so freely 
used by the mediseval Papacy ; among other oppro 
brious epithets he called Heimburg that child of the 
devil/ The only effect was to give his enemy another 
and better excuse for virulent personal attack. After 
defining the principle of an appeal to a council not yet 
in existence, and showing that an appeal quite ana 
logous to such an one is quite lawful to a Pope, not 
yet elected, during a vacancy in the Chair of St. Peter, 
Heimburg proceeded to charge the Pope, falsely, with 
getting money under the specious pretence that it 
was for the Turkish war, and sending it to Ferrante. 
Pius shudders, he proceeds, at a perfectly legitimate 
congress as if it were of bastard birth, yet the Pope 
is a favourer of bastards and is fond of them (Ferrante 
was a bastard). This Pope is a greater chatterer than 
a magpie. He is an ignoramus about law, for he has 
never smelt at it, whether of the civil or canon kind, 
whereas he, Heimburg, knows what he is talking 


about, for he, at least, has not neglected his legal 
studies, nor can he be persuaded into the Pope s 
delusion that everything can be glossed over by 
rhetorical artifice. 1 

Teodoro de Lolli, one of the Papal secretaries, 
replied to Heimburg in a letter which is not less 
remarkable for coarse vituperation than was Heim- 
burg s reply to it. The sturdy German speaks of 
the secretary as the Pope s stalking-horse, content to 
receive blows if he can get a cardinal s hat in pay 
ment ; the Pope and Curia are so many leeches. All 
the Pope cares for is leisured ease, and to spend 
money on his buildings at Corsignano. All allegiance 
to the Pope should be thrown off. 

It is evident that Heimburg took the same un 
sympathetic view of Pius s character that the pains 
taking biographer, Professor George Voigt, has done ; 
he could see nothing in him but a wily Italian and 
a shifty adventurer. Pius could afford to ignore the 
personal attack, but the challenge to Papal authority 
must be met. He pronounced the greater excom 
munication against Sigismund and Heimburg, and 
classed them with pirates, Saracens, and Wicklyfites. 
Thereupon the Princes summoned a Diet to meet at 
Frankfort, and Frederick wrote to Pius, See how 
defiant the factions have become ; they presume to 
dictate to us. It is of the highest importance that 
we should unite to oppose their designs/ 2 The 
Emperor forbade the Diet, and the citizens of Frank 
fort shut their gates on the Princes when they rode 
up. Meanwhile, in perfect secrecy, envoys were set 

1 See Voigt, Georg, Enea Silvio, iii. pp. 303-421. 

2 Birk, Archiv. fur Oesterr. Gesch., xi. 158-160. 


to work to detach this and that prince from the 
League no difficult matter, for, as Nicholas of Cusa 
said, the Holy Roman Empire was suffering from 
mortal disease. Ultimately, in the Emperor s hour 
of direst need, when he was at the point of surrender 
ing to his brother, Albert of Austria, he was ex 
tricated from the toils set by his enemies. George 
Podiebrad, King of Bohemia, found it convenient to 
take Frederick s side. He marched his army to release 
his liege lord from the forces that invested Vienna. 
Diether, at a sacrifice of territory to his opponents, 
got his numerous debts paid and came to seek Papal 
absolution on his knees, and, through the Emperor s 
intercession, Sigismund was absolved. But Heimburg 
remained under the ban. 

The turbulent rulers of Europe resembled the base 
mob of Rome in this respect : they could neither 
endure the Papal yoke nor do without it. The 
divinely appointed Pope legitimated the European 
princes by acknowledging them, and gave them no 
little support against the pretensions of rivals. More 
over, strange mutterings of new doctrines were heard. 
For, even in the fifteenth century, there were remark 
able theories afloat, and discontent gave birth to 
marvellous inventions. 

The Bohemian question remained, and gave grave 
anxiety to the Papacy. George Podiebrad, by uniting 
the moderates, had rendered Bohemia the strongest 
power in transalpine Europe. He had got out of 
coming to Mantua by urging the unsettled state 
of his kingdom. But, directly he had succeeded in 
inducing Pius to quell the murmurs of rebellious 


Breslau, he solemnly accepted the doctrines of the 
Bohemian Church, in order to bind the Calixtines, 
who were in a majority, to him, though, by so doing, 
he could not fail to alienate his Catholic and German 
subjects and incur the opposition of both Emperor 
and Pope. Pius retorted by threatening both to 
annul the truce he had secured from Breslau and to 
effect a coalition against Bohemia. 1 George became 
alarmed, and sent envoys to Rome (March 1462) 
offering his obedience. Pius replied that he required 
that of the kingdom as well as that of the King. 
Thereupon Wenzel Korada, the type of the blustering, 
militant dissenter of the fifteenth century, demanded 
a recognition of the compacts. Pius replied in a 
brilliant speech that took him two hours to deliver. 
He endeavoured to prove that heresy in Bohemia 
had destroyed its prosperity, that the compacts had 
never been formally recognised, and that they were 
inconsistent with genuine Catholic reunion. Yet, he 
would consult with his Curia out of respect for the 
King. No one knew the difficulties of rule in 
Bohemia so well as Pius, and he must have been fully 
aware of the enormous obstacles Podiebrad had sur 
mounted, as well as the delicate statesmanship that 
still lay before him. But the claims of Rome must 
be maintained, in the interests of the Papacy, for the 
sake of the undivided Church, to the realisation of 
the great vision of a Commonwealth of Christian 
peoples, and for a theological reason which he gave in 
a few days when he again received the Bohemian 
envoys. At this audience, he finally refused their 
request. There was danger, he said, of spilling the 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iii. p. 223, 224. 


precious Blood of Our Lord if the cup were entrusted 
to the laity, and they might rest satisfied that the 
entire Body of the Saviour was in every part of the 
Blessed Sacrament. 1 After this announcement, he 
invited the envoys to a private audience in the 
garden of the Vatican. They asked him to send an 
envoy to Bohemia, and he acceded, naming one 
Fantino de Valle, a Catholic indeed, but Podiebrad s 
proctor at Rome. 

Podiebrad s sole object in dallying with the Papacy 
was to gain time. He had listened to a certain 
Antoine Marini, a Frenchman, who was going about 
Europe proposing a coalition between Bohemia, Bur 
gundy, France, Hungary, Poland, and Venice to start 
the Turkish war and strike at Papal prestige and 
authority by keeping Pius from sharing in the 
exploit. These powers could call a General Council 
to depose Pius and settle the disputes of Europe. 2 
Louis of France also inclined his ear to the proposal, 
but only to frighten Pius into doing his bidding. 

It happened that Podiebrad had not been pleased 
with Fantino s conduct as his proctor at Rome. 
When Fantino came into the King s presence he 
found him livid with rage ; he was glared at, and it 
seemed as if the King would like to strike him 
down. When the envoy spoke, Podiebrad interrupted 
him again and again. But Fantino was a courageous 
Dalmatian, one not easily daunted by regal displeasure. 
He first renounced his proctorship, and then, as the 
Pope s envoy, suspended all supporters of the com- 

1 Mansi, Pii II. Orationes, ii. 93-100. 

2 Markgraf, Hist. Zeitschr., xxi. 245 et seq.; Voigt, loc. cit., iii. 487 
et seq. 


pacts and warned the King that he was incurring 
grave peril. George retained self-command with 
difficulty. Turning to the Bohemian nobles, My 
Lords/ said he, you have elected me of your own 
free-will, and you must stand by me/ He left the 
Council Chamber inveighing against the Papacy and 
saying that the union of Christian people was the 
true Church, and not the Roman hierarchy. 1 He 
ordered Fantino to be cast into prison, but, finding 
that his Catholic subjects refused their support, he 
set him free, though he was ungenerous enough to 
refuse the envoy his horse or allow his servants to ac 
company him. 2 Then, perceiving that his conduct was 
causing grave opposition among his Catholic subjects, 
Podiebrad wrote to the Pope as his obedient son/ 
He tried all the wiles of that statecraft of which he 
was past-master to get the compacts recognised. 
This Pius was resolutely determined not to do. He 
tried to force Podiebrad s hand by releasing Breslau 
from the truce ; but Frederick, whom the Bohemian 
King had just released from his perilous position at 
Vienna, entreated Pius to deal gently with his pre 
server. The Pope was too consummate a statesman 
not to perceive the unwisdom of trying for a pre 
mature triumph when he knew it must come in time, 
and he acceded to Frederick s request. c It was an 
ancient and abiding principle with Rome/ says Pastor, 
the Catholic historian, to neglect nothing but to 
hurry nothing/ And, on June 6, 1464, directly Pius 
had got his crusading project accepted by the Powers, 

1 UrJcundliche Beitrdge zur Geschichte Bohmens : Fontes rerum Austria- 
carum. Abtheil. xx. 272 et seq. 

2 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, Eng. trans., vol. iii. p. 236. 


he cited the Bohemian King to appear personally 
before him, within a reasonable but fixed time, at 

So strong was the opposition against the Papacy 
in Northern Europe, that, in 1463, when there was 
a quarrel between the burghers of Liege and their 
bishop, and the Pope supported the latter, the 
University of Koln issued an appeal to a better 
instructed Pope. Pius enlarged the retractation, 
written when he was Bishop of Trieste, into the Bull 
In minoribus agentibus. He conceals the fact, of 
which, perhaps, he was barely conscious, that, at 
least in some measure, he had acted at Basel and 
Vienna as a professional writer working up a case 
for his employers, and that his own advancement in 
life was no small spur to these exhibitions of zeal. 
He certainly believed that his convictions were real, 
though we can see that they were not very profound 
nor uninfluenced by self-interest. He pleads his own 
cause and puts it as persuasively as is consistent with 
facts. Yet both the Epistle and the Bull strike a 
note of earnest sincerity. Speaking of the order 
given to the Church, and the supremacy of the suc 
cessors of St. Peter, Pius says : If you find anything 
contrary to Our doctrine in Our earlier writings 
(for We wrote a good deal), cast it away with scorn. 
Follow what We teach now, believe in the old man, 
not in the young. Accept Pius ; cast away ^Eneas. * 

It is curious that he ascribes his conversion to 
Thomas of Sarzana, who became Nicholas v., though 
we know from his other writings that Carvajal and 
Cesarini had much more to do with it. 

1 Fea, Pius JJ., a calumn. vindic. : Bulla Retract. 




Pius was always glad to escape from his Roman 
Court. Taking a cardinal or two and his friends 
with him, he would seek for health in those quiet 
country scenes he loved so well. But he had to 
carry the heavy burden of his Pontificate with him ; 
and he never neglected his duties for a single day, 
except on those occasions, by no means infrequent, 
when he lay on a bed of torture. He had, however, 
some compensation for his sufferings in the rare gift 
of being able to discharge all care from his mind, and 
enjoy some brief hour of peace. 

In the summer of 1461 he set out for Tivoli, for 
Rome was fairly quiet again, and Piccinino had 
retreated; but it was considered necessary that 
Federigo of Urbino, the Pope s condottiere, and ten 
squadrons of horse should escort him. He tells us 
how he enjoyed the martial splendour of the men 
and their steeds ; for shield and breastplate and 
nodding crest and a forest of spears flashed in the 
sunlight. The young men galloped hither and 
thither, and wheeled their horses round ; they 
brandished their swords, lowered their spears, and 
engaged in mimic fight. Federigo was pretty well 
read, and he asked the Pope if the great heroes of 


antiquity bore the same kinds of armour as we. The 
Pope replied that all the arms now in use are men 
tioned by Homer and Virgil, as well as many that 
have been abandoned. Then their talk drifted on to 
the Trojan war, which Federigo wished to belittle, 
but the Pope argued that if the contest had been 
unimportant it would hardly have left such an im 
perishable record. Then this topic brought up Asia 
Minor, and they differed as to its boundaries. So the 
Pope, having a little leisure at Tivoli, occupied it by 
compiling a book to describe that region, drawing 
from Ptolemy, Strabo, Pliny, the two Curtii, Solinus, 
Pomponius, and other ancient authors. 

Pius thought it needful to defend himself for 
occupying leisure moments in historical work. In 
the introduction to his Asia, the work suggested by 
this conversation with the Duke, he says : There 
will be ill-conditioned folk who will charge Us with 
defrauding Christendom of Our time, and misusing it 
by devoting Ourselves to frivolous things. But Our 
reply is, read Our works before you blame them, and 
then do as you will. Perhaps, if elegant style does 
not please them, they will be glad of information. 
We have not cut Our duties short, but We have, in 
deed, robbed Our old age of rest to hand down note 
worthy things to posterity, and have given to writing 
hours that have been stolen from sleep. But there 
will be those who will say We might have used Our 
wakefulness to better purpose. We grant that some 
of Our predecessors have done so ; yet Our labours 
cannot be unproductive, for out of knowledge comes* 
practical wisdom, and that is the guide of life. 

In truth Pius is the born writer. He cannot keep 


his pen from recording all that he sees, and thinks 
and imagines, and he takes the same delight in words 
and their manipulation as a musician does in the har 
monies that he creates. He added the force of graceful 
oratory to consummate statesmanship, and drew, from 
his wide personal experience, all kinds of material 
for wise reflection or artistic treatment. There are 
always those who affect to belittle the combination 
of gifts of such diverse nature in one personality. 
And, indeed, it is rare that the adaptability of the 
artistic temperament is found united with steadfast 
purpose and unbending will in the conduct of public 
affairs. As a statesman Pius was inflexible in his 
aims, but wise to bend before forces that it would 
have been impolitic at the moment to oppose. 

It was the Pope s habit to dictate the doings of 
his Pontificate to his secretaries at short intervals. 
He desired that his memoirs should be his monument 
for posterity. The first book of these Commentaries 
covers his life from his birth to his accession, and it 
is in terse and polished Latin. Then follow eleven 
books, more desultory in treatment and of less 
finished style. He directed Campano to polish 
them, 1 for he seldom spared more than two hours 
at a time in the composition of what is only the first 
draught of a species of diary. But Campano thought 
it needed no improvement, and we are the happier 
for his judgement. All he did was to divide the work 
into twelve books, but he mentions the commence 
ment of a thirteenth, which has been published by 
Voigt in his biography of Pius II. This fragment 
brings the history of the Pontificate up to the April 

1 Oampanus, Opera, Ep. i. Romae, 1495. 


of the year in which Pius died. Twelve books were 
published by Francesco Bandini de Piccolomini, 
Archbishop of Siena, in the next century. He, since 
they are written in the third person, and were tran 
scribed by a German cleric, one Johannes Gobellinus 
(who, according to wont, subscribed his name), attri 
buted them to that person. But internal and ex 
ternal evidence leave no doubt that they are by Pius 

He crowds things great and small together, and 
the Commentaries are as full of digressions as the 
History of Herodotus. The Pope is so full of informa 
tion, and so eager to impart it, that he no sooner has 
occasion to mention the name of a person or a place, 
than all that he knows about that person and his 
family, or that place and its environs, flows from 
his pen. He describes scenery with the power of 
painting in words and the sentiment of the modern 
writer. Nothing is without interest for him ; when 
at Chiusi, he sets out searching for the labyrinth of 
Clusium mentioned by Pliny ; when at Hadrian s 
villa, he investigates the ruins with a view to a 
mental reconstruction of the apartments, and the 
uses to which they were put. He shows himself the 
practised writer on every page. If he turns his own 
portrait to the most favourable light, so that posterity 
may see him at his best, he is careful to record his 
defects, and not Augustine or Rousseau has been 
more frank than ^Eneas Silvius in his letters, and 
certainly not so devoid of self-consciousness. Even 
his little attempts to gloss, reveal far more than they 
conceal. The Pope delights in recalling the pleasure 
he felt at the reverence that was paid to him, and 


and the splendid pomp with which he was everywhere 
received. His work is full of a simple, childlike 
vanity that is delightful, and his foibles are of the 
kind that are often more endearing than great 
virtues. In reading the Commentaries, we often 
experience a similar charm to that which holds us 
when we sit by a cheerful fireside and listen to the 
outpourings of some gifted, sympathetic friend who 
unfolds himself without reserve or arriere-pensee. 
He will not allow his sufferings to interfere with his 
cheerfulness, he will not convey any shadow of his 
own pain to his friends. We almost forget that we 
are with a Pope ; we are barely conscious that we 
are listening to a scholar, a graduate of Siena, but 
we are aware that a man compels our attention who 
has a rich nature matured by a large experience of 
life. We listen to a trained observer with sharp ears 
and eyes, whom little escapes. 

There is nothing of the zealot, nothing of the saint 
about Pius, but he is devout. He is sensitive to the 
heroic side of character without losing sympathy with 
all that humanity thinks and feels and does. The 
warm heart and kindly disposition, the absence of 
prejudice, the natural refinement that characterise 
^Eneas Silvius are to be found in Pius too. He 
remains a man open to all that may act on humanity, 
but he has become mellowed by age ; he deems it only 
consonant with his priestly office to use the language 
of the pulpit very freely, but it is not a garb to be put 
on and off ; it is a serious obligation. He no longer 
has to make his way or subdue himself to other 
circumstances than those associated with his high 
office ; he has achieved and attained ; he has become 


earnest and takes a profounder view of life and its 
responsibilities than of yore, and his evening on earth 
is not without serenity. 

He has not lost his passion for travel, or his eye, as 
of a painter, for all that is beautiful in nature, while 
he has a more catholic taste than is usual with the 
professional artist. Old ruins and all that recalls the 
past excite both his imagination and his powers of 
investigation, and he views current events as a 
thoughtful man must, who stands in the very centre 
of world-politics, and has been in the inmost counsels 
of those who have made world-history. His estimate 
of character is profound and unerring ; he gets at the 
core of a man at once. He is almost with Bacon in 
taking all knowledge to be his province except 
law, and to this may be added the occult arts. He 
pursues etymological inquiries, he sees the importance 
of monuments to historical reconstruction, and in all 
that he tells us there is art, for he always endows the 
tale with grace and vivacity. But he becomes a little 
garrulous, a trifle vainer as Pope, and spares us not a 
single speech that he can get into his Commentaries, 
though, when he has to reprimand the cardinals we 
only know that he did so from Mansi s collection of 
his orations he is careful to leave that part of the 
speech out. Besides the Commentaries and the Asia 
he wrote several Latin hymns after he became Pope. 
He wrote almost up to the end of his days. The last 
line of his Commentaries was dictated on the last day 
of the year before he died. 

Pope Pius II. remained what ^Eneas Silvius had 
been a firm friend. I do not make friends lightly, 
he had said. There must be some excellent quality 


to serve as a basis for friendship. I am somewhat 
proud and nice. A man must be my superior to 
count me among his friends. I do not now dislike a 
single soul to whom I have once given my love. l 
But his friendship was more easily won than he 
thought, and of his genial, approachable nature there 
is ample evidence. Pulci wrote a novella about him, 
which he dedicated to Madonna Ippolita, daughter of 
the Duke of Milan, when she was Duchess of Calabria 
she who, as a young girl, had harangued Pius in 
Latin at Mantua. He was indeed a most worthy and 
lofty minded Pope, says Pulci, nor unworthy of the 
famous Trojan race. Pulci s tale may not be strictly 
a true one, but if it is founded on no actual fact, even, 
it is good evidence to the Pope s approachableness 
and good humour. Pulci tells us of a certain man who, 
in his youth, had been a favourite servant of ./Eneas. 
The Pope, being at Corsignano, this domestic desired 
to visit him, but was perplexed as to what present he 
should take. He thought of a tortoise, of which he 
had many. But a Messer Goro, an officer of the Pope, 
coming to Siena, he went to consult him. And how 
goes it with that little image of a saint, Messer Enea ? 
he asked. * Has he indeed become Pope ? We have 
drunk a hundred wine cups together. I want to go 
and see him and remind him of the cuff that I dealt 
him at Fontegaia when I knocked his cap off. He 
stood it as if he was the sweetest sugar in the world. 
Master Goro was invited to supper and a grave 
discussion took place as to whether peacocks with 
feathers on should be presented a customary offering 
in Florence and Rome. But, not finding any peacocks, 

1 Pii II. Opera Omnia, Basel ed., 1554, Ep. xxii., p. 53. 


wild geese were selected as the nearest thing, and 
their beaks cut off. Then the whilom domestic 
obtained a green woodpecker, under the impression it 
was a parrot, put it in a cage, which he got beautifully 
painted with the Papal arms, and left it at the artist s 
shop for two or three days so that everybody might 
admire it. And though there was a little doubt ex 
pressed, most Sienese believed it to be really a parrot. 
The bird was sent to Corsignano, where the Pope and 
his court were much amused at the donor s simplicity. 
After a few days the man came himself, and the Pope 
saw him very willingly and kept him by his side for 
some little time, much to the guest s delight. And he 
recalled the memory of so many wine cups and so 
many buffetings and said such stupid things that 
there were repeated roars of laughter at the Papal 
Court, and the worthy man retired very happy and 
with the Papal benediction. 

Pius would have visited Siena oftener had he been 
on better terms with its government. He loved 
Southern Tuscany beyond any part of Italy, for the 
sake of youthful memories, but he enjoyed the romance 
that clings to beautiful Tivoli. When he visited 
the villa of the Emperor Hadrian he heaved a senti 
mental sigh there as he thought of what it had once 
been. He tried to interpret the fragments of the 
walls and, in imagination, to restore what they were/ 
1 Time has here defaced everything. The walls which 
were once adorned by tapestries of bright colours and 
gold and by embroidered hangings are now covered 
with ivy. Thorns and briars flourish where Tribunes 
were wont to sit in their purple robes, and snakes now 
inhabit what was once the bower of a queen. So 


passes the glory of all the things of time. 1 From 
Tivoli, he went to Subiaco, following the romantic 
course of the Anio, enjoying its gleeful leapings, and 
taking a simple wayside meal by some fresh spring, 
while the peasants would fish the river and shout 
aloud to let the Pope know they had secured a gift 
for him. He visited the first house of the mighty 
order founded by St. Benedict at Subiaco and the 
convents around it that nestle in the picturesque chasm 
of the mountain, and then he went on to Palestrina, 
returning to Kome in the autumn. 

Next June (1462) the Pope visited his birthplace 
to see what progress his buildings had made and then 
went to the monastery of Santo Salvadore, situated 
half way up the lofty Monte Amiata. He speaks with 
enthusiasm of the splendid chestnuts, and, higher 
up, the oaks that clothe the mountain up to the edge 
of the precipice, of the wide prospect spread out 
below, of fields and woods and meadows and the proud 
works of man ; he tells us how the library of the con 
vent delighted him, and of a precious illuminated New 
Testament that he found there. Often he received 
missions and transacted Papal business and gave 
audience to ambassadors beneath some grand old 
chestnut or in the shadow of an olive or on the green 
sward by some murmuring brooklet. 2 

Equally charming is his description of a visit to 
Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a Benedictine convent, not 
then adorned with its famous frescoes, but rendered, by 
the industry of the monks, a smiling oasis in a bare and 
horrid land. Happy, says he, are the monks who 
dwell in such a pleasant place, though happier are 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 5. 2 Ibid., 1. 8. 


they who, having seen it, are free to go away/ Here 
he took a melancholy pleasure in searching for the 
tombs of his ancestors, many of whom, he found, lay 
buried there. 

Scattered throughout the Commentaries are records 
of what the man may see who has a quick eye for 
natural effect, and who delights in the human form 
and its graceful movements. Pius watches all 
manifestations of life ; his heart beats as he watches 
the struggle of oarsmen in the water-race ; his ear is 
taken by the song of thrushes that fill the evergreen 
oaks with life. 

In May 1463 he became the guest of his former 
rival for the Pontificate, Cardinal D Estouteville, who 
had a small palazzo at Ostia. He rambled about the 
remains of that ancient Roman port and was not 
insensitive to the desolate beauty of the landscape. 
But a terrible storm came on and the wind carried 
away the tents of his attendants, and even in the 
palace they trembled, fearing the roof would be blown 
in. So Pius was wrapped up in a blanket, but just 
as they were going to carry him into the open for 
safety the wind abated, as if it were unwilling to put 
the Pope to inconvenience, he remarks in that spirit 
of dry, sly, insidious humour to which we have grown 
so accustomed. Not very long afterwards he made 
an excursion to Albano and Castel Gandolfo, the clear 
waters of Nemi, mirror of Diana/ and the summit 
that looks down on the broad Campagna and across 
it, on one side, to immortal Rome and the mountains, 
and, westwards, to an immemorial sea. Returning to 
Rome along the Appian Way he noticed the destruc 
tion of the monuments of antiquity for building 


purposes, and at once issued a Bull to protect them. 
In May 1462 he was at Viterbo, taking the baths, 
and, being too crippled by gout to walk, he was carried 
into the pastures * to enjoy the breeze and admire the 
growing green, and the flax-flowers that are like 
Leaven for blueness and fill the beholders hearts 
with joy/ 

But if he delighted in the records that time has 
spared us, and the beauty of wood and meadow and 
stream that is for ever transforming itself into some 
fresh joy, like a true child of the Renaissance he 
rejoiced in all kinds of spectacular display. There is, 
to us, something a little childish, something a little 
vulgar, something a little pathetic about this side of 
the life of the age. On Corpus Christi Day the Pope 
passed from a splendid tent that had been erected for 
him in one of the open spaces of Viterbo, a city of 
beautiful fountains and lovely women. He bore the 
Blessed Sacrament in his hands and proceeded to the 
old Romanesque basilica of S. Lorenzo. At different 
points along the route various cardinals had prepared 
a surprise. One of these was a dramatic represen 
tation of the Last Supper. A little farther on a 
dragon, accompanied by a herd of devils, came forth 
to attack the Pope, but St. Michael descended 
from the heavens and cut off the dragon s head, and 
the demons fell down powerless, except that they 
barked. A little farther on, again, two angels 
advanced and knelt before the Pope, singing, * Lift up 
your heads, ye gates, that King Pius, lord of the 
world, may come in. Five kings with their warriors 
tried to block the way, asking who this King Pius 
might be ; whereupon, * the lord strong and mighty, 


choired the angels, and they and all fell before the 
Pope, singing hymns in his honour to a sweet accom 
paniment of instrumental music. Next a savage led 
a lion and wrestled with him ; this was intended to 
symbolise the force of Papal authority. Then the 
Pope came to an array of columns whereon stood 
angels singing, and there before him was the Holy 
Sepulchre, guarded by sleeping soldiers. An angel 
descended, a gun was fired, the soldiers awoke and 
rubbed their eyes, and one that represented the 
Eedeemer arose to heaven reciting Italian verse and 
telling the crowd that their salvation was achieved. 
Next came a representation of heaven with all its 
stars and angels and the Almighty Himself. And 
after Mass was said at S. Francesco, and the Pope had 
given his benediction, when the procession came out 
of the Cathedral, a tomb opened and Our Lady 
ascended to heaven, dropping Her girdle on the way, 
and the Son, who is also the Father, advanced to 
receive Her and kissed Her brow and led Her to Her 
throne. Those who beheld these marvels/ says the 
Pope, thought they had entered the glorious world 
above, and that, being still in the flesh, they saw their 
heavenly home/ 1 

Such was the life of Pius n., when, for a short time, 
he found himself unencumbered by the cares of the 
Church and his States. In the performance of the 
duties of a sovereign he was often long in coming to 
a decision, but, his mind once made up, he rarely 
vacillated ; and, if there were occasions when he was 
afraid, he did not easily betray himself. He was not 
elated by power and dignity, though he enjoyed both. 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 8. 


Often he was in agony from gout and renal colic, but 
he suppressed all controllable evidence of suffering, so 
that only the pallor of his face betrayed him. He 
still rose with the sun, and, after divine service, trans 
acted the public business of the day. Then he was 
carried into the garden, and ate a scanty breakfast. 
After this he would talk for an hour with his 
attendants, and then be carried back to his room, and 
rest and pray for a while. Then he would resume 
business, and use what leisure remained before dinner 
in reading and writing. Except in winter or wet 
weather he always took his dinner out of doors, and 
then read or dictated, and this he often did in the 
night, for he never slept more than five or six hours. 
Want of exercise caused him to grow a little fleshy in 
his later years, but, in spite of almost constant illness, 
he made light of toil or thirst or hunger or physical 
discomfort. It was easy to gain access to him, and he 
was unwilling to refuse requests. Campano tells us 
that when a servant tried to stop the garrulity of an 
old man the Pope rebuked him, saying, You forget 
that I am Pope and have to live for others, not for 
myself ; then turning gently to the old man, he 
asked him to go on. He desired that people should 
be allowed to say what they liked concerning him. 
He hated luxury and was wont to say that books 
were his jewels. He confessed and received the 
Blessed Sacrament frequently. He was prone to 
anger, and his eyes would flash with wrath when the 
Church was treated disrespectfully, but he never 
resented personal affronts. 1 He had the broad judge- 

1 Campanus, Vita Pii II. ; Platina, Vita Pii II. apud Muratori, 
R. I. S. t xxiii. pars. ii. 


ment and took the impersonal view that usually 
characterises the man of many interests and high 
mental cultivation. c He was true, upright, and 
candid/ says Platina ; there was no deceit or dis 
simulation about him/ His household expenses, 
according to Gregorovius, were ridiculously small 
smaller than those of any other Pope 1 yet, owing 
to the costliness of war, he was frequently in debt. 
And, although he was economical in small things, he 
would sometimes indulge in great expenses, and 
money seemed to go as it came. 

He built palaces for the Piccolomini in Siena as well 
as at Corsignano, and adorned Rome with a few lovely 
works that bear the impress of his refined taste and 
still remain to give us pure delight. One day the 
author was taking a short cut through the labyrin 
thine Vatican to the Archives. His way lay through 
an arch bearing the name of Pius II. and adorned 
with beautiful putti. A palseographist who was with 
him took off his hat, and, with the unaffected sim 
plicity of the true scholar, observed, I pass through 
that gate every day of my life, yet I cannot forbear 
raising my hat each time I do so : it is so beautiful a 
thing. Authors, architects, painters, goldsmiths were 
employed by Pius, though far more sparingly than by 
Nicholas ; for his taste was very nice ; he cared for 
quality more than quantity, and his mind was chiefly 
bent on the restoration of Papal authority and on a 
crusade. Love of his family and the need of partisans 
led him to give office and extend friendship to 
relatives and Sienese, much to the disgust of other 

1 Gregorovius, Sybel s Hist. Zeitschr., Das Eomische Staatsarchiv, 
vol. xxxvi. pp. 158-180. 


disappointed people. His special friends, besides 
Ammanati and Campano, were Francesco Piccolornini, 
a nephew ; Eroli, Bishop of Spoleto, an erudite, up 
right and even austere man ; Gregorio Lolli ; Niccolb 
Forteguerra of Pistoja, and Giacomo di Luca. 




Pius had much trouble with his cardinals. Not 
merely were many of them opposed to a crusade, not 
merely did Scarampo throw contempt on the idea, 
but there were those of the Sacred College who were 
sunk in worldliness and lived heedless, scandalous 
lives. The Papacy was on the way to secularisation, 
the Pope was, almost above all things, a temporal 
prince, with an insubordinate, badly organised state 
to control and with many ill-wishers for neighbours, 
and the Curia began to exhibit the vices and frivolity 
of other worldly courts. Pius could do nothing to 
wards the furthering of his projects without the good 
will of the Curia, and though his letter to Borgia 
shows his feeling on the matter, he was practically 
powerless to effect any real reform. 

Several remarkable events took place during his 
Pontificate. Thomas Palseologus, despot of the Morea, 
a prince of handsome features and grave deportment, 
had broken a treaty with the Sultan, and was driven 
out of Greece by the enraged Mussulman. He sought 
an asylum in Italy, and brought the head of St. 
Andrew with him. The relic was at least no recent 
fraud, its authenticity was supported by tradition. 


Pius, sceptical as he was, had no doubt of its being 
genuine. Here lay at his hand an opportunity of 
arousing enthusiasm for his Eastern project. A gen 
uine relic of the first class had been saved by the piety 
of Palaeologus from the impious Turk. He deter 
mined that Rome should have the glory of possessing 
the relic, and he proclaimed an indulgence to all 
that should visit Rome at its reception. But, when 
Palaeologus arrived in Italy in May 1461, the sons 
of the she-wolf were riotous, and the Pope had to 
wait until their turbulence wore itself out. By 1462 
things were fairly quiet, and he was able to organise 
a magnificent procession to receive the head of the 
Saint. The night before Palm Sunday the appointed 
day it rained heavily, and Pius tells us that he 
made the impromptu : 

Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane. 
Divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar habet. 

It rains all night, the spectacles recommence to-morrow. Caesar 
holds divided rule with Jove. 

But Campano thought the lines might be improved if 
they were given a more Christian turn, and he altered 
them to 

Nocte pluit tota, redierunt tempora nostra. 
Nox fuit acta hostis, lux erit ista Deus. 

c It rains all night but our favourable season has returned. The 
night was hostile ; the light will be sent of God. l 

Pius s impromptu is one of the innumerable instances 
we possess of how pagan forms and Christian belief 
lay side by side in men s minds, during the Renais 
sance, with scarcely any conflict. Thus did a Pope, 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 8. 


with almost childlike vanity, record the not very 
brilliant lines he had made, and with frank simplicity 
accept and tell us of his friend s reproof. 

Next day, as is so often the case in the changeable 

Italian spring, was brilliantly fine. The sacred head 

was received at the Ponte Molle by the Pope and 

all the clergy of Rome, who filled a huge platform. 

Cardinal Bessarion, the aged Greek exile, took the 

relic in his hands, and the tears ran down his face 

and dropped on his long, white beard as he handed it 

reverently to Pius, who advanced to meet it with 

his clergy, bearing palms. The Pope was pallid and 

overcome by emotion at receiving such a precious 

relic. He recalled the occasion of its coming to Rome. 

His voice trembled as he prayed ; he placed it on the 

altar, and then exposed it to the gaze of the populace. 

Then a hymn in sapphics was sung, and the procession 

moved along the historic Flaminian Way. The road 

was crowded with Italians and foreigners from beyond 

the Alps as far as Santa Maria del Popolo, where 

the relic was deposited. There the Pope passed the 

night. Next day it was carried to the basilica of 

St. Peter s. Certain portly cardinals wanted to ride 

on horseback, but Pius commanded them to walk. 

There is a dry, subacid humour in his account of 

many men brought up in luxury, who could scarcely 

endure riding a horse above a hundred paces, walking 

a couple of miles through the mire quite easily, and 

carrying the weight of their vestments too. Devotion 

enabled them to carry their burden ; it was love that 

did it ; a transport of enthusiasm will overcome all 

difficulties. l On Easter Sunday the Pope exhibited 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 8. 


the head again to the reverent gaze of a vast crowd, 
but mechanical means had to be contrived for his 
support when he said Mass, so crippled had he 

It was an ancient dispute among theologians 
whether the Blood shed during the Passion of Our 
Lord ceased to be of the substance of the Godhead. 
A Franciscan friar, preaching at Brescia on Easter 
Sunday, 1462, asserted that, since It was separated 
from the Divine Body, It was no object of worship ; 
but the Dominicans, rivals of the Franciscans, at once 
saw the opportunity of obtaining a victory, and a 
furious battle of words ensued. Pius strove, in vain, 
to suppress a strife that had become venomous, but 
was obliged at last to summon both sides to argue 
the matter before him 1 (Christmas, 1462). He had 
small interest in theological hair-splitting, and it is 
clear that the natural man was somewhat amused, 
though he tried to batter himself into the belief that 
the question was important. But he thoroughly 
enjoyed the debate. It was a treat, he says, to 
follow the contention of acute and trained intellects, 
and to mark now this one, now that one making a 
point. Though they argued with a measure of self- 
restraint and some of the awe befitting the Papal 
presence, so hot did they wax and so eager for victory 
did they become that, though it was mid-winter and 
the earth hard with frost, they sweated profusely. 2 
When they had done Pius told them he would confer 

1 Voigt, Pius II., iii. 592 ; Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., 
vol. iii. p. 280, note 1. 
8 Pii II. Comment., 1. 9. 


with his cardinals. He found that most of these 
espoused the Dominican view, but he says he delayed 
giving a decision so as not to damp the ardour of the 
Franciscans for a crusade. The strife continued, 
however, and, just at the end of his life, the Pope was 
obliged to forbid any further disputation on the 
subject. 1 

Pius was chary of pronouncing censure, but in 
1459 he felt compelled to issue a Bull against Reginald 
Peacock, former Bishop of Chichester, for heresy ; * 
and he tried to put down certain communistic sects 
that had arisen out of the Franciscan movement ; 
sects that tended, in his judgement, to subvert social 
order. He had no small contempt for the mis 
chievous necromancy and astrology so much credited 
in his time, and he took the severe measure of im 
prisoning a man of Bergamo, for life, who taught 
that the Church was controlled by the stars. 3 

It was probably the happiest moment in his 
Pontificate when he canonised Santa Caterina of 
Siena. She was a Dominican, and the canonisa 
tion had been delayed, owing to Franciscan jealousy 
and opposition. But now it fell to the most illus 
trious of all the eminent sons of Siena to do justice to 
the noblest and ablest of her daughters and to confer 
a new distinction on their common city. He wrote 
the Bull raising her to the rank of sainthood with his 
own hand, June 1461. But he resolutely refused the 
Franciscans prayer to canonise their candidate, Capis- 
trano. Wonderful were the miracles said to have 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., vol. iii. p. 288, note 2. 

2 Raynaldus, Ad ann. 1459. 

3 Pastor, loc. cit., vol. iii. p. 163. 

Pinturicchio, Siena. 


been done, but Pius had known him; he had seen 
nothing in him that indicated supernatural power, 
and he could find no sufficient proof of these alleged 
miracles ; the King of Hungary entreated him to 
accede, but Pius remained firm. His disposition was 
too sceptical, his intelligence too highly trained, his 
experience of life too great to yield facile credence to 
any contemporary story that contradicted the general 
trend of happenings. He had learned the difficult 
lesson of reserving judgement. Even of Joan of Arc 
he says she was a wonder, who certainly restored the 
fallen fortunes of France ; she was indubitably a 
modest maiden, but whether she was directed by God 
or man, he refuses to affirm. He thinks it possible 
that some man, wiser than the others, contrived a 
scheme whereby all might be induced to submit to 
the captaincy of a maiden who said she was heaven- 
directed, 7 1 a view not so very different from the 
explanation, supported by our modern knowledge of 
the power of suggestion, that has been offered by a 
recent and not unsympathetic critic. 2 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 6. 

2 Anatole France, Jeanne d Arc, 1908. 




THE Neapolitan war and the quarrel with France, 
Germany, and Bohemia prevented the Pope from 
prosecuting his project for a crusade. He could not 
even support Hungary with any vigour in the noble 
defence she offered to the Turk ; for there was war 
between the Emperor Frederick, who claimed the 
Hungarian Crown, and Corvinus, its actual possessor. 
Pius wrote to Bessarion, on May 2, 1461, that all he 
could do now was to try and make peace between the 
twain. 1 Papal authority was weakened throughout 
Europe, and men disbelieved in the sincerity of Pius, 
for his predecessor Nicholas had collected money for a 
Turkish war and spent it on the adornment of Borne, 2 
while Calixtus had exhausted his resources on a war 
begun without due preparation. 

An Eastern embassy came in strange garb, and 
startled, not merely Italians, but all Europe, by the 
incredible quantities of meat they consumed. They 
told the Pope, after his return from Mantua, that 
they were sent by the Emperor of Trapezium, the 
King of Mesopotamia, the King of Persia, the Prince 
of Georgia, and other Eastern lords to arrange for 

1 Maildth, Geschichte der Magyaren, iii. p. 152. 

2 Creighton, Hist, of the Papacy, 1878, vol. ii. p. 457. 


a united attack on the Turk by Asiatic and European 
powers. They had come a long and perilous journey 
through Scythia, and then on to Rome by way of 
Hungary and Germany, and all the Christian nations 
they passed through received them with warm wel 
come. These envoys promised the aid of 120,000 
men. But they were led by one Fra Lodovico, a 
rascally monk of Bologna, who only wanted to get 
the title of Patriarch of the East. Pius soon saw 
enough to make him suspicious, and only suffered the 
monk to depart for his companions sake. Lodovico 
contrived to beguile the Venetians, and Pius ordered 
his arrest, but the Venetians did not like Papal inter 
ference and smuggled him out of the city. 1 

Queen Charlotte of Cyprus, deprived of her 
kingdom by a usurper who had allied himself with 
the Turk, came to Rome, demanding aid of the Pope, 
in 1461. Pius was much taken by the young queen. 
* He received her with incredible kindness/ says an 
ambassador. 2 Pius says, She seemed to be about 
twenty-four years of age, was of moderate height, her 
eyes full of vivacity, her complexion pale but some 
what dark, and, as is usual with the Greeks, her 
speech was voluble and of the quality to win favour. 
She was dressed in the French fashion, and her bear 
ing was dignified. 3 He paid her expenses to visit 
her father-in-law, the Duke of Savoy, hoping that he 
and other princes would take up her cause and that 
the urgency of a crusade would be made more mani 
fest to them ; but the unfortunate lady s journeys 
were fruitless. 4 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 6. 

2 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., vol. iii. pp. 253-254. 

3 Pii II. Comment., 1. 7. 4 Ibid. 


A few months after the failure of the Congress of 
Mantua the Pope conceived an idea that could only 
have sprung from an imaginative and original mind. 
He resolved to try and convert Mohammed n. by 
force of argument. He lived in an age that trusted 
to an illusion : men believed in the sovereignty of 
reasonable propositions; they gilded the pill with 
persuasive language. There was much to make such 
a plan appear feasible to Pius. In the first place, he 
was a devout Christian, and believed that he held 
a divinely appointed office. The Holy Spirit might 
have chosen so successful an orator as himself to the 
very end now set before him. The heathen Franks, 
like the Turks, had conquered a portion of the Roman 
Empire and had been converted. Leo I. was reputed 
to have repelled Attila and his Huns by an eloquent 
appeal. The Barbarian conquerors of Italy accepted 
the Faith. The Turks were far more tolerant to 
Christians than Christians to Turks. Pius was 
acquainted with the Koran ; and he may have known 
that Mohammed had ordered a statement of the 
tenets of Christianity to be drawn up for his perusal. 1 
Mohammed had shown signs of departing from strict 
Mohammedan custom. 2 

The letter of Pius to the Sultan was probably 
written at the close of the year 1461. It is a work 
of consummate power and close argument. The Pope 
begins by drawing a picture of the horrors of warfare. 
Then he assures the Turk that he holds him in no 
implacable enmity, but is a sincere well-wisher. Can 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., vol. iii. p. 256, note. 

2 A little later, 1479, he sent to the Venetian Senate for an artist to 
paint his portrait. A pen-and-ink drawing of the Sultan and his mother 
exists in the British Museum, London, 


the Sultan dream of overcoming warlike Europe as he 
has done servile Asia ? If he is in pursuit of fame, the 
easiest and best way to obtain it would be to submit 
to the sprinkling of a little water in baptism, and 
literature and the arts will preserve his glory through 
out the ages. Then the Pope would recognise him as 
Emperor of the East, and he would bring back once 
more the Golden Age of antiquity, and restore the 
world to a new obedience. There are historical pre 
cedents for this course : so acted Clovis and Stephen 
and Recared and Constantine himself, whom even 
Rome followed in the Christian path. If the Franks 
followed Clovis, and Rome Constantine, shall not the 
Turks follow their Sultan ? But this is not the least 
blessing that would result : there is the heavenly 
promise. Then the Pope unfolds Christian doctrine 
and gives arguments for its truth. The letter is full 
of passionate passages, and so conspicuously sincere 
that it is marvellous how the bonajftdes of its writer 
can ever have been doubted. 1 It is a masterpiece of 
composition and even of close logic. How Mohammed 
received it, we do not know, but it was widely read 
throughout Europe and kept the fire of enthusiasm 
alive for a crusade. 

A year later (1462) the discovery of alum at Tolfa, 
near Civita Vecchia, added greatly to the Papal 
revenue, for the commodity had hitherto only been 
found in Asia. It was worked by a company, and 
provided the Pope with additional funds for a crusade. 

So far from being guilty of the charge levied 
against him by Voigt and Creighton, that he lost 

1 Let the reader judge for himself. It is given in the Basel edition of 
Pius s works, Epistle, No. 396. 


sight of the crusade for a time, in March 1462 Pius 
summoned six cardinals to a private conference, and 
told them to observe that he had been silent about 
the crusade since Mantua and was giving the world 
a false impression. He lacked, not enthusiasm, but 
power. In truth the subject had given him many a 
sleepless night. Our bosom swells, Our old blood 
boils, he said, Our legates are mocked, and a Council 
is threatened directly We wish to impose a Turkish 
tithe. Cowardice is imputed to Us, and all that We 
do is put down to bad motives. Folk measure Us 
by themselves. Now, We wish to go Ourself. The 
noise of Our plan will be as startling as a thunder 
bolt ; it will arouse all Christian peoples to fight for 
the faith. x 

This announcement of his intention almost stunned 
the cardinals. They asked time for reflection. At 
last they agreed that the plan was one worthy of 
the Vicar of Christ. Pius urged Louis to action, but 
that Most Christian Monarch replied that he would 
treat of the Neapolitan and Turkish questions to 
gether. The Pope also sent a stirring appeal to the 
Duke of Burgundy. That monarch was sick and 
remembered the Oath by the Peacock ; he made great 
promises, which he forgot all about directly he got 
well. But the internal troubles of his dukedom 
called for much of his attention. The Pope also 
wrote to Venice, and got a diplomatic reply. 2 

Month by month passed, and the Turk was still 
advancing ; province after province, island after island 
of the Eastern Mediterranean fell under his sway. 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 7. 

2 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., vol. iii. p. 310. 


But, in September 1463, Venice allied herself with 
Hungary, and Burgundy promised to aid the Pope. 
A Congress met at Rome. The Pope tells us that 
his heart filled with hope and joy, 1 for Ferrante was 
triumphant, and the rebels of the Papal States were 
subdued : there were no longer quite unsurmountable 
obstacles blocking the path. The Pope spoke to the 
Congress and unfolded a plan to divide the Turkish 
Empire among the Christian powers. His eloquence 
failed ; he was listened to with quiet contempt. The 
Pope spoke in his usual graceful style/ *wrote the 
Mantuan envoy. 2 Then, as ever since, the mutual 
jealousy of the powers kept them all back. The 
Florentine envoy, who was opposed to a crusade, 
asked the Pope to grant him a private interview, and 
pointed out that if Venice triumphed she would 
conquer Italy and the Holy See would become her 
bond-slave. He advised Pius to let Venice and the 
Turk weaken one another. But the Pope replied 
that this would be an ignoble policy, and he would 
have none of it ; the liberty of all Europe was in peril ; 
speculation as to a merely possible future was futile ; 
the future must be left to itself. 3 

On September 23, Pius called the cardinals to 
gether in secret conclave, for he knew that the French 
party would oppose him, as well as those that only 
loved pleasure. He made a long and eloquent 
speech, and his voice was often broken by tears. For 
six years he had reigned he said, and nothing had 
been done. Even he, the most zealous of them all, 

1 Pii II. Comment., 1. 12. 

2 B. Marasca, quoted by Pastor, loc. cit., vol. iii. p. 322. 

3 Pii II. Comment., 1. 12. 


had been silenced by troubles at home and abroad. 

But he had never swerved from his purpose, and now, 

at last, there was peace. The hour had come. We 

have only 300,000 ducats a year, and half of that is 

swallowed up in necessary expenses, and the war will 

cost more than three times that amount. But we 

could raise the necessary sum if only we had the 

confidence of Christian peoples. They charge us with 

living for pleasure ; we pile up wealth ; we are puffed 

up with pride ; we ride the sleekest mules and the 

handsomest palfreys ; we flaunt our rich garments, 

show round red cheeks, keep our hounds, waste our 

income on actors and parasites, and spend nothing on 

the faith. This charge is not baseless ; it is true of 

many cardinals and officials of the curia. There is 

too much luxury and display among us. And so 

people loathe us and will not heed what we say, 

however wise our speech may be. How can we alter 

this unhappy state of affairs ? How can we restore 

confidence ? Solely by entering on a new path. We 

must examine the means by which our predecessors 

built up authority and made the Church venerated. 

We must follow their course, for only so can authority 

be preserved. What has raised the Roman Church 

to her pre-eminent rule but temperance, chastity, 

singleness of heart, zeal, contempt for death, the 

spirit of the martyr ? It is not enough to preach the 

truth, to denounce evil and extol virtue. We must 

be like those who were ready to give up life for 

Christ. We must suffer all things even to death for 

the flock entrusted to Our care. The Turks are 

overwhelming the Christian peoples, one by one, with 

fire and sword. What shall We do ? Shall We send 


soldiers ? Where is the money to come from ? Shall 
We urge the princes to drive out the foe ? We 
have done so, and in vain, for Our appeal has fallen 
on deaf ears. Now, it is possible that if We say, 
" Come with Us," We may succeed. Therefore We 
are resolved to go bodily against the Turk and, by 
actual deed no less than by word, to stir up all the 
rulers of Christendom to do likewise. It may be, that, 
when they see their Pastor and Father, the Bishop of 
Rome, the Vicar of Christ, an old man, broken and 
ill, setting forth to the war, it will put them to 
shame and they will join Us. If this plan fail, We 
can think of no other. We know how infirm We 
are, and that We shall go forth to an almost certain 
death. But the issue is with God. Let His will be 
done and We shall die happy in doing it. 

But you, Cardinals, who counselled war against 
the Turk, you cannot remain at home in ease. The 
members of the body must follow the head. What 
We do is of stern necessity. Fighting is not for Us. 
Like Moses, praying on the mountain top, while the 
battle waged below between Israel and Amalek, so 
will We on some ship s prow or some height, with the 
Blessed Sacrament before Us, pray the Lord to guide 
the battle to deliverance and victory. God does not 
despise the contrite heart. You will be with Us to 
pray with Us, save those, only, that are too old. . . . 
So We commend Our grey hair and infirm body to 
the loving mercy of God. He will keep Us, and 
if He ordain that We do not return He will take Us 
to Himself, and keep the See of Rome and the 
Church, His bride, from harm/ 1 

1 Mansi, Pii II. Orationes, ii. 168, et seq. 


Cusa and Carvajal were the only cardinals who 
appear to have been affected by the noble resolve of 
Pius or his moving words. c It is the voice of an 
angel/ the latter exclaimed. C I will follow, for you 
are leading us to heaven/ Even Eroli, Pius s friend, 
whom he had made a cardinal, had no confidence in the 
scheme : he raised objections to show himself cleverer 
than anybody else, says Pius, with the intoler 
ance of the enthusiast. The French cardinals were 
silent, and Jouffroy went home. Pius, with that self- 
consciousness inseparable from the mobile, sensitive 
literary and artistic temperament, though under 
the impulse of a great emotion, and bitterly dis 
appointed that his speech had not moved their hearts, 
knew it to be beautiful and recorded it in his Com 
mentaries, but his kindliness prevented him from 
including a censure of the cardinals it contained. 1 

On October 6, a general meeting of cardinals and 
ambassadors took place. Everybody assented to 
a Crusade, except the envoys of Venice : that 
Eepublic disliked to fight under the Ensign of the 
Church, for she had always asserted an unusual 
freedom from Papal control, and she objected to the 
distribution of spoils according to service done. 2 So 
Pius sent Bessarion to Venice to arouse enthusiasm 
there, and the people responded to his eloquence ; in 
a single day he collected an enormous sum for the 
war. Meanwhile, the Pope was busy trying to excite 
not merely the generosity of Christian men but their 
fear; for no one was quite sure, at that time, that 

1 Pii II. Comment, 1. 12. 

2 Eeport of the Milanese envoy, quoted by Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, 
English trans., vol. iii. p. 328. 


the Turk was only formidable so long as he was 
conquering, and that his incapacity to consolidate 
conquests would restrict his dominion to lands 
occupied by the feebler races of the East. 

On the 22nd the Papal Bull was published. O ye 
Christians, hard of heart and unmindful/ wrote the 
Pope, ye are unworthy to die for Him that died for 
you. Think on your wretched brothers, groaning in 
slavery, living in hourly dread. If ye be men, let 
human feeling arouse you to aid those that are 
trampled underfoot. If ye be Christians, obey the 
command to love your neighbours as yourself. Think 
of the horrors committed by the Turk picture sons 
torn away from their fathers, babes from their mothers 
bosoms, wives dishonoured before their husbands eyes, 
youths replacing cattle at the yoke. If you cannot 
feel for others, feel for yourselves. The same fate hangs 
over you. If you forsake them that lie between you 
and the foe, you in your turn, will be forsaken ... If 
Germany will not aid Hungary, can it hope for 
deliverance from France ? If France will not help 
Germany, shall Spaniards avail in the hour of need ? 
The East has already fallen to Mohammed : the West 
will follow and that quickly. l The Pope tells us 
very frankly how pleased he was with his own 
heroism, and the beautiful composition of this appeal. 
The moving style, he says, the novel proposal, the 
readiness of the Pope to give his life for his sheep, 
caused many tears to be shed. 2 In a certain respect 
he is very modern in his introspective moments. 
Capable of fiery enthusiasm, of martyrdom to duty, 
he knows when he has risen to the full height of his 

1 Pius IL, ed. Basel, 412. 2 Pii II. Comment, I 12. 


calling, when posterity will applaud, when he has 
written well, and he enjoys the supreme moment ; 
but there is a simplicity and frankness in his admis 
sion of it to which our age is a stranger. 

The common folk of Europe listened to the Bull 
with enthusiasm, but rulers stood aloof. Ornaments 
were taken from churches and sold : the officials of 
the Curia gave up one-tenth of their income. Pius 
tried to get Sforza to take the lead, hoping that 
other princes would follow. To an earnest entreaty, 1 
the Duke replied that, though he was in full sym 
pathy, he was ill ; insufficient notice had been given, 
and such a grave enterprise required prolonged and 
careful preparation. 2 But, in spite of disappointment, 
many remained full of hope. The Pope, wrote the 
Sienese envoy (October 12), is indefatigable in his 
efforts on behalf of a crusade. His Bull on the 
subject has been sent to all Christian countries and 
will, I believe, lead many to take part in it. God 
has indeed sent this Pope for the salvation of his 
people, whose Princes have forsaken them and left 
them a prey to the attacks of the Turks/ 3 

But the only success achieved by Pius was that he 
had taken his place as the Head of Catholic Christen 
dom. He resolved to take up his abode in Rome, 
though plague raged there. It grew more virulent, 
and nearly everybody fled, but he remained. He told 
the Sienese envoys that he was obliged to lead the 
Crusade because the princes were lukewarm, for if 
the Turk were allowed to advance as he had done 
of late he would conquer Europe. I will do what 

1 Given in Mansi, iii. 103. 2 Pius IL, Opera Omnia, ed. Basel, 393. 
3 Quoted by Pastor, English trans., vol. iii. p. 337. 


lies in my power, and God will help me/ 1 He wrote 
to the Doge of Venice urging him to join the Duke of 
Burgundy and himself : * We shall be three old men, 
and God rejoices in Trinity. Our trinity will be added 
to that of Heaven, and we shall trample our foes under 
our feet. 2 The majority of the Venetian Senate were 
with the Pope, but not the Head of the State. Vittor 
Capollo told the Doge that if he did not go of his 
own free will he would be compelled, for the honour 
of the State was of more importance than the person 
of its chief magistrate. 3 

The Romans were unwilling to let the Pope leave ; 
nearly all the cardinals remained opposed to him. 
Everybody in power wanted to see the matter 
dropped. Italian States scented danger to them 
selves in an increased prestige of the Papacy. All 
the European Powers were busy, intriguing for their 
own aggrandisement at the expense of each other, 
and everybody was afraid of his neighbours. On 
Good Friday, 1464, news reached Pius that Rene 
of Provence would not allow tithes to be collected for 
the war, and that Burgundy, in spite of his Oath by 
the Peacock, would not go. He tells us that he felt 
the news congruous with that Day of Passion. He 
also heard that Marini and George Podiebrad of 
Bohemia were actively intriguing to forestall him in 
the Crusade and would call a congress of the Powers 
to secure the peace of Europe. 

The action that the Pope took was the resultant of 

1 Letter of L. Bentivoglienti, Kome, November 5, 1463, quoted by 
Pastor, loc. cit, pp. 337-338. 

2 Malpiero, Archiv. Stor. It, 8. L, vii. p. 18. 

3 Marin Sanudo, quoted by Sisimondi, Hist, des rlpubliques italiennes, 
c. 79. 


many motives. Desire for immortal fame, so dear to 
the man of the Renaissance, anxiety to give the lie to 
the widespread disbelief in his sincerity, fear of losing 
the prestige he had already achieved, dread of what 
a congress might do to the Church, but, above all, 
a strong sense of duty, a design to restore to the 
Papacy the guardianship of Catholic Christianity and 
of European concord, and a prescient misgiving as to 
the trouble the Turks would become if not expelled 
from Europe all these were motives urging Pius to 
immediate action. 

He was lying ill at Siena so ill as to be unable to 
meet his cardinals. 1 He was compelled to go on to 
Petrioli to take the baths, but he returned to Borne 
early in May. Every day that passes seems a year 
to him ; so anxious is he to go to Ancona and take 
ship/ wrote the Milanese ambassador. 2 Diplomatists 
intrigued against him ; his cardinals tried to dissuade 
him ; the Burgundian envoys found the poorest pre 
paration they had ever seen, for only two ships were 
ready ; the Milanese envoy wrote that he believed 
the Pope s absence would be taken advantage of to 
call a General Council ; 3 he was so ill that Caretto 
wrote to Sforza that men were already guessing at 
who would be the next Pope ; he had a fresh attack 
of fever, too, but Caretto told Sforza that, in spite of 
all, he was resolved to die rather than break his word. 4 
Crowds of would-be warriors were filling Rome, Venice, 
and Ancona. Many of them returned home in disgust 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., vol. iii. p. 346. 

2 Quoted by Pastor, loc. cit., 347, note 4. 

3 Quoted by Pastor, loc. cit., 351, note 3. 

4 Otto de Caretto to Sforza, given by Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, vol. iii., 
Appendix, No. 62. 


when they found that an indulgence was the only pay 
they were likely to receive. But Pius held the pro 
mise of Venice to aid him. No time was to be lost. 
He knew now that the project was predoomed to 
failure ; he was suffering cruel tortures from cough 
and gout and stone ; he must have suspected that 
death was not far off, but he possessed that highest 
kind of courage, the courage that is ready to face 
failure and certain death in the fulfilment of duty. 
He would uphold the Papal dignity, proclaim the 
headship of Christ s Vicar, and set an example to a 
reluctant world. JEneas Silvius, the shifty adven 
turer, had at last achieved the noblest manhood. 
Calmly but intrepidly he prepared to do as he had 
promised and lay down his life for his sheep/ 




ON June 18, 1464, Pius, accompanied by a nephew, 
his friend Cardinal Ammanati, three bishops, and a 
secretary, set out for Ancona, where he expected to 
find the Venetian fleet awaiting him. He took boat 
and was rowed up the Tiber as far as possible, for his 
condition required a careful choice of the easiest modes 
of travel. Every movement gave him intense pain. 
The "Romans thronged to see him depart, and he stood 
011 the prow of his barge, holding a banner with the 
motto, God arises and scatters His foe, in his left 
hand while, raising his right hand, he blessed the crowd. 
He gave orders that his state of health should be con 
cealed. When night came, he found himself too ill 
to land, and slept on the barge. Next day he received 
the painful intelligence that little preparation had 
been made for the war, and that there was mutiny 
among the hordes of would-be crusaders at Ancona. 
He ordered Carvajal, one of the few cardinals who 
shared his enthusiasm, to go on ahead and restore 
order. Carvajal was now aged and infirm, but he 
replied, * Father, since you think me fit to deal with 
this issue, I will imitate you and go, for you risk your 
own life for the flock. You told me to come and I am 
here ; you order me to go, and I am going. How can 

Pintitricckio, Siena. 


I refuse to Christ our Lord the few poor days that 
remain to me ? Pius was greatly moved at this reply, 
for he and Carvajal had a great affection for one 
another, and were in close sympathy. 

On June 21, an unfortunate oarsman fell into the 
Tiber and was drowned. The Pope was very much 
agitated by the accident ; tears coursed down his 
cheeks, and he prayed, silently, for the soul of the dead 
man. 1 At Otricoli he left the barge, and was carried 
the rest of the long journey in a litter. The heat was 
intense ; the Pope had fever, and was so feeble, that it 
was only possible to carry him six or seven miles a day. 
The Crusade had aroused such enthusiasm north of the 
Alps that, although Pius had asked for trained men 
only, bearing their own arms and at their own cost, 
to enlist for six months, bands of needy folk, filled 
with crusading zeal, or lust of gain, or love of excite 
ment, but wholly incompetent to serve as soldiery, 
flocked to Ancona, and were now returning. The 
Pope s attendants made some pretext, and contrived 
by drawing the curtains of the litter to spare the Pope 
the sight of these ragged wayfarers. At Spoleto, 
Ammanati fell ill, and had to be left behind. The 
journey across the Apennines, in the glare and heat 
of an Italian summer, tried the strong : it was terrible 
for the sick Pope, but he bore up bravely. When he 
reached Loreto, where, two centuries before, angelic 
warders had deposited the lowly cottage of Our Lady, 
he offered Her a golden cup and bowl. He was hope 
lessly ill by the time he reached Ancona. Riots were 
going on there, for a report had spread through Italy 
that the Crusade was nothing but the Pope s pretext 

1 Ainmanati, Jacobus, Card. Papiensis, Epist. et Comment., Ep. 354. 



for seizing the city. The crusading visitors also were 
more than inclined to mutiny. Many had given up 
the Crusade as hopeless, and had to sell their arms to 
the Jews of Ancona to get sufficient means for their 
return journey. 1 Pius took up his abode in the bishop s 
palace, which stood on a height : there he could breathe 
refreshing sea breezes that beat up the hill, and look 
down on the harbour that Trajan had built, and on 
the Adriatic shimmering beyond it, and watch for the 

Only six Papal ships lay in the harbour ; none from 
Venice. Alarming news came from Dalmatia that the 
Turkish army was advancing on Ragusa and threaten 
ing to destroy it unless the Pope surrendered his fleet 
at Ancona. Pius at once sent his own body-guard to 
defend Hagusa, and ordered food-supplies to be for 
warded. Ammanati, who had recovered and was now 
in Ancona, tells us that Pius asked Carvajal what 
should be done if the siege was commenced. f I will 
take the galleys out to-night, answered the courageous 
old cardinal. And what should prevent me from sail 
ing with you ? asked Pius. Only his mental energy, 
as is so often the case with men of high-strung tem 
perament, now sustained the breaking Pope. He was 
convinced that the presence of the Vicar of Christ 
would be an overwhelming inspiration ; but Am 
manati, though he afterwards reproached himself for 
want of faith, foresaw nothing but terrible disaster. 

Day after day passed, and there were no Venetian 
sails to be seen from the palace-windows. The Vene 
tians did not like the Pope to possess a fleet, and they 
wished the money collected for the enterprise to be 

1 Peruzzi, Agostino, Storia di Ancona, ii. 362. 


sent to Hungary, where a brave and protracted 
resistance was being made to the Turkish troops. 
They had promised forty triremes : two transports 
arrived on August II, 1 when most of the crusaders 
had gone home. Ammanati says this disappointment 
killed the Pope. Certainly, anxiety as to whether 
Venice would send a fleet after all told on him, 2 and 
uncontrollable dysentery soon set in. 3 At last a 
wretched little fleet was observed making for the 
harbour, and Cristofero Moro, the reluctant Doge, 
arrived. Pius, summoning all the strength that was 
left to him, ordered his attendants to carry him to 
the window, and looked down on the ships. He 
groaned and said, Up till now there was no fleet for 
me, and now a fleet has come, but I shall not be here. 
Happily he never heard of the death of Cardinal 
Cusa, his old friend of so many years, which occurred 
at Todi, two days before his own ; yet everything that 
happened served to increase his gloom. 

Next day, August 13, the Pope received the Sacra 
ment and said a few solemn words to his friends. At 
vespers on the 14th, he felt the end approaching, and 
after the custom of Popes, he summoned the cardinals 
that were at Ancona to his room. They stood round 
his bed-side, and he bade them farewell. The sweet, 
flute-like voice was low and very broken now. Be 
loved brothers, said Pius, the end is drawing near. 
God is calling me. I die, as I have lived, in the 
Catholic Faith. I have kept charge, and shrunk 
neither from labour nor peril. What I have begun I 

1 Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., vol. iii. pp. 364, 365. 

2 Pastor, loc. cit., p. 367, and notes 5 and 6. 

3 Von Reumont, Geschichte der Stadt JRom., in. i. 151. 


leave for you to finish. Labour for God and the Faith, 
for such is your obligation. Bend your minds to your 
duty and towards the All- Seeing Redeemer, who will 
render you according to your service. Keep the States 
of the Church from all peril. Dear brothers, as Car 
dinal and Pope, I have done you much wrong. I have 
sinned against the Almighty and against Christian 
love. May God forgive my shortcomings, and I ask 
you, too, to forgive me, now that T am about to die. 
Look after my kindred and my servants, so long as 
they shall prove worthy. . . . Farewell, my brothers. 
God bless you, and give you His peace. 

No eye remained dry ; no one dared trust himself 
to speak. At last Bessarion managed to utter a few 
words of farewell, and asked for a last blessing. All 
knelt and kissed the Pope s hand, and he said, May 
the All Merciful forgive you your sins and grant you 
His heavenly grace ! And then, sadly and quietly, 
one by one, they went out of the chamber, leaving 
his nephew, Andrea, Ammanati, and his secretary 
alone with Pius. The sun was setting over the hills 
and clothing the sea with glory. There was silence, 
but the dying man broke it. He asked Ammanati to 
look after his nephew. Do you wish your body to 
be taken to Rome 1 asked Ammanati. Tears coursed 
down Pius s face : he wanted to know who would see 
to that. I will/ promised Ammanati ; and it seemed 
to please him. Again there was silence for a time, 
and then he beckoned to Ammanati, Pray for me, I 
am a sinner, he whispered. A third time there was 
silence, but, at last, the feeble voice was heard again. 
Urge my brothers to go on with the Crusade/ said 
Pius, and do you, yourself, all in your power. Woe 


be to you if you draw back from God s work/ The 
Cardinal was choked with tears, and could not reply, 
and Pius, with great difficulty, managed to pass his 
arm round Ammanati s neck, and said, Do your duty, 
my son, and pray to God for me/ l They had anointed 
him before this ; and now the usual prayers for the 
dying were read. It seemed as if he could hear and 
was following them. At the third hour of the night, 
wrote his secretary, ( it pleased God to claim the 
blessed spirit of Pope Pius, who is now a happy 
memory (August 14, 1464). 2 

Next day the body was carried to the Cathedral, 
and the Doge made a long oration, every word of it 
insincere. The Crusade was at an end. Cristofero 
Moro set sail for Venice immediately afterwards, and 
the cardinals rode off to Rome to elect a new Pope. 

The viscera were buried in the Cathedral of Ancona ; 
the body of Pius lies in the crypt of St. Peter s ; his 
monument was transferred to St. Andrea della Valle 
when the Cathedral was rebuilt. 

But these were his mortal remains. The flashes of 
his lively wit even now burst through the heavy type 
of yellow, ancient pages ; there that kindly heart still 
throbs; there JEneas Silvius still lives on in genial 
converse with his friends. 

1 Ammanati, Jacobus, Card. Papiensis, Ep. 41-57 ; et cf. Campanus, 
Vita Pii, apud Muratori, R. I. $., xxiii. pars ii. 

2 Gregorio Lolli, quoted by Pastor, Hist, of the Popes, English trans., 
vol. iii. Appendix, No. 64. 



Adamites, 39. 

Adolph of Nassau, 309. 

^Eneas Silvius. See Piccolomini, Enea 

Albano, 336. 
Albergati, Niccol6 d , Cardinal, 52, 

53, 54, 55, 67, 75, 90, 158, 163. 
Albert, Emperor, 97, 110, 216. 

- of Austria, 210, 273, 312. 

of Bavaria, 125. 

of Brandenburg, 199, 210, 277. 

of Hapsburg, 24. 

Alberti, E. B., 304. 

Albigenses, 28. 

Albret, Prince Louis d , 300. 

Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples, 

177, 183, 185, 186, 195, 196, 197, 

199, 218, 219, 220, 235, 258, 268. 
Allemand, Louis d , Cardinal, 75, 76, 

85, 101, 104, 125, 129, 151, 168, 


Alsace, 152. 
Amadeo vin., Duke of Savoy. See 

Felix v. 

Amiata, Monte, 3, 325. 
Ammanati, Jacopo, Cardinal, 20, 280, 

281, 282, 300, 352, 353, 354, 355, 

356, 357. 
Ancona, 47, 350, 352, 353, 354, 355, 

356, 357. 

Andrew, St., head of, 333 sqq. 
Anjou, House of, 104, 153, 236, 267, 

275, 285, 286, 296, 305, 306. 

Jean d , 235, 267, 277, 278, 292. 

Louis d , 151. 

Margaret d , 151, 152. 

Rene d , 267, 277, 286. 

Annates, 72. 
Anspach, 172. 

Antonino, St. , Bishop of Florence, 248. 

Apostilicians, 38. 

Aragon, 75, 104, 133, 153, 207, 300. 

Cardinal of, 240. 
Armagnacs, 152. 
Arnold of Brescia, 30. 

Arras, Congress of, 53, 55, 56, 67. 
Aschaffenburg, 178. 
Aspel, Hermann, 174. 
Asealbach, Thomas, 130. 
Assisi, 236. 
Astrologers, 247. 
Aurispa, 14. 
Austria, 229. 

Austrians, the, 98, 196, 199. 
Avignon, 12, 25, 44, 77, 78, 80, 82, 
235, 246, 287. 

Barbo, Cardinal, 237, 241. 
Bartholomew, Bishop of Novara, 48, 

50, 67, 97, 156, 218. 
Basel, 18, 20, 21, 22, 44, 45, 48, 53, 

55, 67, 73, 74, 77, 95, 98, 100, 114, 

151, 173. 

Academy, 90. 

Council of, 22, 40, 41 sqq., 55, 

69 sqq., 75 sqq., 81, 97, 104, 162, 
167, 168, 169, 170, 182, 201, 216, 
217, 249, 297, 310. 

constitution of the, 42, 73 

sqq., 84. 

history of the, 95. 

scenes at the, 82. 

university, 218. 

Bavaria, 98, 215. 

Beaufort, Henry, of Winchester, 
Cardinal, 57. 

Beccadelli, 7, 112, 143 n., 219. 

Bedford, Duke of, 55. 




Belgrade, victory of, 225. 
Beneschau, 189. 
Benevento, 251. 
Bentivogli, the, 260. 
Bernard, St., Pass of, 53. 
Bernardino, St., of Siena, 9, 10, 13, 

146, 187, 202, 216. 

Bessarion, Bishop of Nicea, after 
wards Cardinal, 86, 87, 240, 243, 
244, 249, 264, 271, 306, 308, 338, 
346, 356. 

Bichi, Giovanni de , 290. 
Biondo, Flavio, 217 and n. 2. 
Bisticci, Vespasiano, 35, 177. 
Bohemia, 36, 37, 43, 44, 46, 69, 71, 
97, 187, 188, 189, 196, 207, 227, 
229, 257, 301, 312 sqq., 314, 338. 
Bologna, 14, 67, 159, 260. 
Bonifaccio, Straits of, 19. 
Boniface vin. , Pope, 24. 
Borgia, Roderigo, ". Cardinal (after 
wards Pope Alexander vi.), 231 
243, 290 sqq. 

Bourges. See Pragmatic Sanction. 
Bozen, 171. 
Braccio, 16. 

Brandenburg, Duke of, 110. 
Breslau, 257, 258. 
Briick, 122. 
Bruges, 59. 

Brunoro, Condottiere, 268. 
Bull, Execrabilis, 279. 

Ezechielis, 347 sqq. 

of Retractation, 180, 181. 
Burchard, provost of Saleeburg, 289. 
Burckhardt, historian, 229. 
Burgundy, 210, 301. 

CACCIA, STEFANO DE, 106, 107. 

Calais, 57. 

Calandrini, Cardinal, 234, 239, 240 


Calixtines, 37, 69 sqq., 187, 313. 
Calixtus in. (Alfonso de Borja), 212, 

213, 214, 219, 224, 225, 226, 231, 

232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 240, 247 

250, 257, 291, 338. 
Campagna, the, 20. 
Campano, Giantonio, vi, 217, 246 

280, 281, 282, 319, 333. 

Campisio, Giovanni, 115, 126 142 

147, 172, 201. 
Canterbury, 57. 
Capistrano, Fra Giovanni, 187, 209, 

210, 211, 336, 337. 

Capranica, Cardinal (Pantagale Do- 
menico), 16, 17, 18, 19, 45, 47, 134, 
202, 233, 293. 

Cardona, Don Jayme de, 300. 
Caretto, Otto de, 301, 350. 
Carinthia, 119. 

Carvajal, Cardinal, 129, 130, 162, 177, 
188, 202, 204, 224, 228, 278, 316, 
346, 352, 353. 
Castel Gondolfo, 326. 
Castiglione, Cardinal, 224. 
Castiglione della Pescia, 287. 
Castille, 153, 182. 
Catherine of Siena, St., canonisation 

of, 336 sqq. 
Cervantes, Cardinal, 75, 85. 
Cesarini, Guiliano de , Cardinal, 17, 
34, 36, 39, 41 sqq., 69, 73, 75, 85, 
87, 91, 105, 129, 146, 152, 154, 157, 
Chancellery, the Imperial, 114 sqq., 


Charlemagne, 23, 24. 
Charles vn. of France, 88, 153, 182, 

205, 275, 276. 

Charlotte, Queen of Cyprus, 339. 
Chiemsee, Bishop of. See Sylvester 
Chiusi, 320. 

Christian of Denmark, 205. 
Church and State, 29 sqq. 
Civit Vecchia, 341. 
Cleves, Duke of, 161, 265. 
College, the Sacred. See Curia. 
Colonna, the, 16, 17, 18, 32, 47, 237, 
251, 296. 

Cardinal, 241. 
Communism, 28. 
Compacts, the four, 71. 
Constance, 94. 

- Council of, 31, 73, 167. 
Constantinople, capture of, 201 


Corsica, 19. 

Corsignano, 23, 254, 311, 324, 330. 
Corvinus of Hungary, 237, 338. 



Councils, General, 29, 42. See under 
Basel, Constance, etc. 

Courcelles, T. de, 85. 

Creighton, Mandell, historian, v, 63, 
233 n. 1, 279, 341. 

Croye, Lord of, 265. 

Cugnoni, J., historian, 296 w., 303 n. 

Curia, 17, 32, 33, 47, 77, 80, 81, 84, 
91, 163, 169, 177, 186, 194, 196, 
209, 214, 224, 225, 227, 228, 229, 
231, 233, 235, 238, 239, 242, 245, 
247, 248, 250, 275, 287, 288, 289, 
294, 297, 299, 300, 301, 304, 332. 

Cusa, Cardinal (Nicholas von Cues), 
17, 75, 85, 106, 107, 168, 178, 199, 
202, 205, 228, 251, 292, 309, 310, 
312, 346, 355. 

Cypraicus, Carolus, 148, 173 n. 2. 

Czechs, 36, 37. 

DENMARK. See Christian. 

Diether, Archbishop of Mainz, 309, 

Domenichi, Domenico de , 237, 238, 


Dominicans, the, 335, 336. 
Dover, 67. 
Durham, 66. 


Elba, isle of, 19. 

Electors. See German Princes. 

England, 38, 55, 56, 57, 64, 110, 182, 
205, 207, 276, 277. 

Erichstadt, Bishop of, 199. 

Ermland, bishopric of, 231. 

Eroli, Bishop of Spoleto, 331. 

Eryx, 100. 

Este, Borso d , 261, 262, 285. 

Estouteville, Cardinal d , Archbishop 
of Rouen, 235 sqq., 244, 326. 

Eugenius iv., Pope (Gabriello Con- 
dulamaro), 18, 33, 34, 41, 45, 46, 
47, 48, 50, 51, 52, 55, 67, 72, 73, 
75, 76, 77, 80, 81, 84, 86, 87, 91, 
97, 101, 105, 114, 126, 129, 133, 
134, 147, 151, 153, 154, 155, 156, 
158, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 
167, 168, 169, 170, 173, 177, 216. 

FANO, 285. 

Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of 
Urbino, 285, 287, 306, 317, 318. 

Felix v., Antipope, 53, 54, 101 sqq., 
104, 105, 107, 113, 123, 125, 154, 

Ferrante of Naples, 150, 235, 236, 237, 
247, 250, 275, 277, 278, 286, 287, 
294, 301, 306, 310. 

Ferrara, 86, 191, 205, 261, 285. 

Filelfo, Francesco, 13, 14, 283. 

Florence, 13, 15, 28, 38, 42, 47, 67, 
75, 77, 78, 86, 87, 104, 218, 236, 
240, 248, 249, 259, 273, 286, 301, 
306, 323, 343. 

Council of, 86-88. 

Forteguerra, Vittoria, 3, 5. 

France, 25, 26, 38, 55, 57, 80, 102, 
110, 133, 186, 205, 207, 235, 236, 
243, 247, 250, 275, 276, 278, 286, 
297, 301, 305, 314, 337, 338, 343, 

Franciscans, the, 28, 335, 336. 

Franconia, 173. 

Frankfort, 94, 112, 148, 151, 160, 162, 

Frederick in., Emperor, appearance 
and character, 111 ; crowns ^Eneas 
as poet, 112, 113; invites JSneas 
to Vienna, 114, 116, 123, 129, 130, 
131, 133, 151, 152, 155, 161, 162 
sqq., 168, 171, 172, 175, 181, 182, 
183, 184, 186, 187, 189; descends 
into Italy, 190 sqq. ; coronation and 
marriage, 193 sqq. ; his abasement, 
200, 201, 202, 208, 209, 210, 211, 
212, 213, 216, 217, 224, 225, 228, 
237, 253, 257, 267, 277, 309, 311, 
312, 338. 

Freund, John, 147, 148, 149, 173 w. 2. 

Fiillendorf, Michael von, 121. 


Genoa, 19, 206, 207, 273, 278, 306. 

Gentiluomini of Siena, 2. 

German Church, 101, 212, 225, 231. 

manners, 117 sqq. , 197. 

princes, 39, 86, 88, 110, 112, 136, 

163, 181, 204, 225, 247, 301, 311. 
women, 139. 



Germany, 36, 37, 42, 46, 102, 133, 
154, 155, 156, 168, 175, 178, 186, 
187, 205, 207, 208, 210, 213, 214, 
215, 225, 227, 233, 258, 297, 307, 
338, 339, 346. 

Gers, John, 121, 147. 

Giordano, Monte, 177. 

Gloucester, Duke of, 57. 

Gobellinus, Johannes, 320. 

Gonzaga, Francesco, 300. 

Gonzaga, the, 263. 

Graz, 122. 

Greek Church, 77. 

Greeks, the, 77, 86, 87, 88, 153, 202. 

Gregorovius, historian, v, 179, 180, 

Greys, the, 85. 

Gualdo, 236. 

Guarini, 14. 

Guazzalotti, Andrea, vi. 

Guglio, island of, 287. 

Guinoforto, 128. 

Giirck, Bishop of, 206, 209. 

HADRIAN S VILLA, 320, 324. 
Hapsburg, House of, 151, 152. 
Heimburg, Gregory, 150, 161, 162, 

165, 168, 199, 215, 273, 274, 277, 

310, 311. 

Heinrich of Goritz, 118. 
Henry vi., King of England, 186, 

Heresies, general character of, 27, 

188, 199. See under Adamites, 

Albigenses, etc. 

Hildebrand, Pope Gregory viz., 24. 
Hinderbach, John, 213, 214. 
Hohenstauffen, House of, 25. 
Holy Roman Empire, 45, 57, 164. 
Hungary, Io4, 196, 201, 216, 224, 229, 

266, 271, 338, 339, 343, 346, 355. 

Chancellor of, 217. 
Hunyadi, 269. 
Hiis, John, 32, 35, 42. 
Hussites, 32, 35, 69 sqq., 115. 

Ingoldstadt, University of, 218. 
Innocent in. , Pope, 25. 
Ippolito of Milan, 148, 173 w. 2. 

Isidore of Russia, 202, 243. 

Isotta da Rimini, 305. 

Italy. See Separate Italian States. 

condition of, in the fifteenth 

century, 229 sqq. 

JACOB, Archbishop of Trier, 110, 112, 

161, 210, 211, 212, 225. 
James I. of Scotland, 60, 61, 63. 
Jews, the, 177, 288, 354. 
Joan of Arc, 337. 
John of Bavaria, 125. 
Jouffroy, Bishop of Arras, 300, 301, 


KAUTSKY, author, 37 n. I. 
Koln, Archbishop of, 110, 161, 225, 

diocese of, 226. 

University of, 89, 106, 1/8, 316. 

LADISLAS, King of Poland, 129, 154. 

son of Emperor Albert, 129, 
154, 187, 189, 199, 228, 229. 

Lake of the Four Cantons, 20. 

Lateran, St. John s, 177. 

Lefranc, Martin, 106, 107. 

Leghorn, 191. 

Leo in., Pope, 23. 

Leonora of Portugal, 185, 191 sqq. 

Liege, 316. 

Lodi, peace of, 203. 

Lodovico, Fra, 339. 

Lollards, 27, 35, 38. 

Lolli, Gregorio de , 300, 331. 

Niccol6 de , 5. 

- Teodoro de , 311. 
London, 57, 58, 59, 66, 67. 
Loreto, 353. 
Louis xi. , King of France, 298, 299, 

300, 301, 302, 303. 
Liibeck, 66. 
Luca, Giacomo di, 331. 
Lucca, 14, 205. 
Ludwig, Duke of Bavaria, 29, 205, 

Lysura, John of, 88, 168, 169, 170. 

MACERATA, battle of, 289. 



Mainz, Archbishop of, 110, 167, 169, 

225, 226, 227, 228. See also 


diet of, 88. 

diocese of, 226. 

Malatesta, Sigisraondo, 272, 285, 295, 

301, 303, 304, 305, 306. 
Mansi, scholar, 262. 
Mantua, 150, 205, 249, 260, 264, 268, 

278, 279, 281, 284, 285. 

Congress of, 264 sqq., 303, 308, 

340, 342. 

Marasca, B., Florentine envoy, 343. 
Marche, Oliver de la, 206. 
Marini, Antoine, 314, 349. 
Mario, Monte, 192. 
Marsiglio of Padua, 29. 
Martin v., Pope, 16, 32, 33. 
Martin, Cardinal St., 125, 126. 
Masaccio, novelist, 263. 
Mayr, Martin, 226, 227, 228, 229. 
Medici, Cosimo de , 50, 259, 2i>6, 286. 
Mersa, river, 289. 
Meusel, Dr. A., jurist, 175. 
Milan, 3, 15, 19, 47, 48, 52, 53, 75 : 
93, 99, 182, 184, 191, 218, 231, 236 ; 
248, 259, 267, 286, 302, 306. 

Modena, 301. 

Mohammed n., Sultan, 206, 340, 347 

Montferrat, 301. 

Monticuli, Niccolo, 5. 

Morals, of the Church, 103 ; of the 
fifteenth century, 135 ; of the Scots, 
62, 63. 

Moravia, 196. 

Morea. See Palseologus. 

Moro, Cristofero, Doge of Venice, 
349, 355, 357. 

Miinster, 161. 

Naples, 16, 153, 185, 195, 218, 219, 

236, 248, 250, 277, 278, 285, 301, 

303, 306, 338. 
Necromancy, 98, 99. 
Nemi, lake of, 326. 
Neustadt, 119, 210, 233. 
Newcastle, 65. 
Niccolo, Bishop of Palermo, 157. 

Nicholas v., Pope (Tommaso Paren- 
tucelli), 53, 54, 84, 158, 159, 162, 
163, 168, 174 ; his coronation, 176 ; 
177, 178, 181, 186, 190, 193, 194, 
195, 196, 199, 200 ; and the Turkish 
war, 201 sqq., 205, 210, 274, 316, 

Nicholaus of Pistna, 36. 

Nicodemus, Bishop of Freising, 48, 

Nocera, 236. 

Noceto, Piero da, 20, 53, 54, 67, 68, 
90, 132, 139, 146. 

Norway, 60, 205. 

Novara, 48, 106. 

Bishop of. See Bartholomew. 

Niiriiberg, 66, 117, 147, 152, 154, 308. 

Nursia, 100. 

Oliveto Maggiore, Benedictine mon 
astery, 325, 326. 
Olivia, Alessandro, 289. 
Orleans, Duke of, 183. 
Orsini, Cardinal, 237, 250. 

The, 16, 17, 237, 241, 251. 

Ortobello, 218. 
Ostia, 326. 
Otricoli, 353. 

Pala3ologus, John, Emperor, 77, 86, 88. 

Thomas, despot of the Morea, 

265, 332. 
Palgrave of the Rhine, 110, 152, 210, 


Palomar, John, of, 70. 
Panormita. See Beccadelli. 
Pantagale, Domenico. See Capranica. 
Paolo di Giovanni, vi. 
Paris, 30. 

University of, 298, 299. 

Passau, Bishop of, 172. 

Pastor, historian, v, 147, 173, 243. 

Pauvres de Lyon, 27. 

Pavia, 77, 78, 80. 

Council of, 33. 

Peacock, Oath by the, 206, 342, 349. 
Peacock, Reginald, Bishop of Chi- 

chester, 336. 



Pelago, 29. 

Perugia, 1, 17, 253, 280. 

Pescia, 20. 

Peter s, St., Basilica of, 199, 202. 

Petrioli, baths of, 289, 292, 350. 

Philip of Burgundy, 57, 205, 206, 26 

342, 343. 
Piave, river, 122. 
Piccinino, Jacopo, 218, 219, 247, 28o 
293, 295, 303, 305, 307, 317. 

Niccolo, 50, 51, 86, 100, 218. 

Picciolpassi, Francesco di, 92, 129. 
Piccolomini, the, 2, 258, 261, 262. 

Andrea, 287, 356. 

Antonio, 287, 293, 295, 306. 

Caterina, 5, 253. 

Enea Silvio, the elder, 

^Eneas Silvius, after 

wards Pope Pius n., parentag 
and birth, 2 sqq. ; childhood, 4 sqq 
at the University of Siena, 6 sqq. 
under S. Bernardino s influence 
9 sqq. ; goes to Florence, etc., 13 
teaches at Siena, 14; journeys to 
Basel, 18 sqq. ; involved in con 
spiracy, 50 sqq. ; enters Albergati 
service, 52; journeys to Ripaille 
53; to Arras, 55; to Britain, 57 
sqq. ; his ride through England 
64 sqq. ; returns to Basel, 67 ; his 
work at the Council, 74 sqq. 
pleads for Pavia, 77 nqq. ; his ora 
tory, 79 sqq. ; is offered a provost- 
ship, 92, 93 ; preaches at Basel, 93 
takes office under the Council, 94 
is sent on missions, 94; ill of 
plague, 98 sqq. ; loses the provost- 
ship, 99; defends Council, 100; 
presented to canonry at Trient, 101 ; 
revisits Ripaille, 101 ; refuses to 
take orders, 102 sqq. ; at Felix s 
election, 103 ; becomes Papal Secre 
tary, 104; sent on missions, 108 
sqq. ; crowned as Poet, 112, 113; 
invited to Imperial Chancellery, 
113; accepts, 114; his position 
there, 116 sqq. ; longs for Italy, 
120; courts Schlick, 121 sqq. ; veers 
towards Eugenius, 129 sqq. ; inner 
struggle, 140 ; life at Vienna, 144 ; 

takes orders, 147, 173; revisits 
Siena, 158; submits to Eugenius, 
159 sqq. ; sent to Rome, 162 sqq. ; 
appointed pastor, 171 sqq. ; bishop 
of Trieste, 174; at Nicholas s coro 
nation, 176 sqq. ; at Diets, 178 ; 
his retractation, 179; at Milan, 183 ; 
at Naples, 185 ; made bishop of 
Siena, 185; at Jubilee, 185; in 
Bohemia, 187 sqq. ; meets Em 
peror s bride, 191 sqq.; accompanies 
Frederick to Rome, 192; at his 
coronation, 193 sqq. ; at Vienna, 
199 ; speech there, 199 ; his view 
of the Turkish danger, 201 sqq. ; 
his policy, 203 sqq. ; his means, 
208 sqq. ; quits Germany, 208 ; 
literary relations with Germany, 
214 sqq. ; is made cardinal, 214 ; 
controversy with Mayr, 226 sqq. ; 
activity in German affairs, 228 sqq. ; 
leaves baths for Rome, 235; is 
elected Pope, 235 sqq. ; is crowned, 
247 ; urges a Turkish war, 249 sqq. ; 
journeys to Mantua, 252 sqq. ; re 
builds Corsignano, 254; presides 
at the Congress, 264 sqq. ; his 
private friends, 279 sqq. ; ad 
monishes Borgia, 290 ; finds Rome 
disturbed, 294 ; leaves Tivoli, 296 ; 
his relations with France, 297 sqq. ; 
with Malatesta, 303 sqq. ; with 
Germany, 307 sqq. ; with Bohemia, 
312 sqq. ; issues the Bull In mino- 
ribus agentibus, 316; his life as 
Pope, 317 sqq. ; his relations with 
the Curia, 332; receives St. An 
drew s head, 332 sqq. presides at 
a deputation, 335 ; measures against 
heresy, 336 ; canonises St. Caterina 
of Siena, 336 ; receives an Eastern 
embassy, 338; aids Charlotte of 
Cyprus, 339 ; writes to the Sultan, 
340 ; enriched by a mine, 341 ; 
resolves to lead a crusade, 342 sqq. 
journeys to Ancona, 352 sqq. ; his 
death, 355 sqq. ; his character, 56, 
89, 90, 98, 99, 127 sqq., 320 sqq. t 
337 ; his works, 49, 91, 95, 96, 97, 
105 sqq., 119, 131, 134, 136, 137, 



138, 139, 148, 163, 172, 173, 186, 

214 sqq., 227, 232, 318 aqq. 
Piccolomini, Francesco (de Tode- 

schini), afterwards Pope Pius in., 

288, 331. 

Laodamia, 5, 140, 141. 

Silvio, 2, 5. 

Pienza. See Corsignano. 
Pilsen, 70. 
Piombino, 19. 
Pisa, 273. 

Council of, 31, 73. 

Pius n. See Piccolomini, Enea Silvio. 

Pius in. See Piccolomini, Francesco. 

Plague, 98, 189. 

Platina, 95. 

Podiebrad, George, 189, 257, 278, 309, 

312 sqq., 349. 

Poland, 38, 205, 252, 268, 314. 
Pontano, Ludovico, 98, 157. 
Porcaro, 294. 
Porto Venere, 19, 100. 
Portugal, 186, 205. 
Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, 88, 

183, 199, 276, 279, 298, 299, 301. 

of Germany, 101, 199. 

Procopius of Rabstein, 169, 177. 
Pulci, novelist, 323. 

RATISBON. See Regentburg. 

Reati, Bishop of, 289. 

Regensburg, 205, 217. 

Renaissance, 11, 12, 13, 260, 283, 286. 

Retractation, letter of, 179, 180. 

bull of, 180, 181. 

Riccio, 50, 51. 

Rimini, 272, 304. 

Ripaille, 53, 54, 55. 

Riverio, 302. 

Rodocofani, 4. 

Rokycana, Archbishop of Prague, 69. 

Romagna, 303. 

Rome, 1, 10, 11, 15, 17, 26, 47, 71, 77, 
156, 160, 162, 163, 169, 173, 176, 
185, 186, 187, 189, 190, 192, 193, 
212, 213, 214, 246, 248, 249, 251, 
252, 253, 292, 293, 294, 296, 316, 
323, 326, 334, 339, 350, 357. 

Rose, the Golden, 177, 195 n. 1, 258. 

SALVADORE, ST., monastery of, 325. 
Savelli, the, 296. 
Savoy, 103, 273, 301. 
Duke of, 339. 

Saxony, Duke of, 110, 273. 

Scala, della, the, 48. 

Scanderbeg, 269. 

Scarampo, Cardinal, 202, 264, 332. 

Schism, the Great, 26, 73. 
at Basel, 60, 112, 131, 155. 

Schlick, Caspar, 114; his character, 
115, 116, 117, 121, 122, 131, 138, 
145, 155, 184, 218, 266. 

Heinrich, 125. 

Scotland, 60 sqq., 65, 182, 205. 

Segobia, Juan de, 76, 85, 169. 

Servia, 252. 

Sforza, Alessandro, 307. 

Bianca Maria, nde Visconti, 183, 


Francesco, Duke of Milan, 47, 

183, 184, 191, 203, 205, 231, 236, 
259, 266, 267, 268, 271, 286, 287, 
294, 301, 305, 348, 350. 

Galeazzo, 259. 

Ippolyta, 262, 263, 323. 

Siena, vi, vii, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 
13, 14, 28, 38, 46, 51, 89, 95, 112, 
156, 161, 169, 185, 190, 191, 192, 
205, 208, 209, 218, 219, 257, 258, 
286, 287, 323, 324, 330, 348, 350. 

council of, 33. 

Sigismund, Emperor, 15, 31, 36, 45, 
46, 71, 72, 73, 112, 115. 
- Duke of Tyrol, 116, 125, 136, 
137, 273, 274, 275, 278, 309 sqq., 

Simonetta, 287. 

Sinigaglia, 285. 

Sismondi, J. C. L., historian, 46. 

Sluys, 59. 

Soest, 265. 

Soldo, Cristofero da, 185. 

Sozzini, Mariano de , 6, 7, 49, 95, 258. 

Spaniards, the, 76, 102, 301, 347. 

Spires, Chronicle of, 308. 

Spoleto, 253, 353. 
Bishop of, 289. 

Stein, Wilhelm von, 215. 

Strassburg, 94. 




Strood, 58. 
Styria, 119. 
Subiaco, 325. 
Switzerland, 151, 152. 
Sylvester, C., of Chiemsee, 112, 113, 

TABOR, 39, 188, 189. 

Taborites, 39, 71, 188, 189. 

Tag, Wilhelm, 117. 

Taranto, Archbishop of, 81. 

Terracina, 251, 288, 295. 

Teutonic Knights, the, 205, 251, 252. 

Thuscon, John, 134. 

Tiber, river, 352. 

Tiburzio, 294. 

Ticino, valley of the, 19. 

Tivoli, 296, 317, 318, 324, 325. 

Tolfa, mines at, 341. 

Tolomei, the, 261. 

Torcello, Bishop of. See Domenichi. 

Torquemada, Cardinal, 75, 237, 243, 

Torriani, the, 183. 

Toul, Bishop of, 232. 

Trasimeno, Lago, 254. 

Trient, 100, 171. 

Trier, Archbishop of. See Jacob. 

Trieste, 173, 177, 178, 184. 

Trionfo, 29. 

Troilo, condottiere, 268. 

Troja, battle of, 306. 

Turks, the, 86, 97, 115, 201, 209, 212, 
225, 227, 236, 238, 247, 248, 269, 
271, 278, 307, 310, 314, 332, 333, 
338, 340, 342, 343, 348, 350. 

Turrecremata, 75. 

UDINE, 249. 

Universities, 29, 74, 75, 90, 104, 157. 

See also under Padua, Paris, etc. 
Urbino, Duke of. See Federigo da 



Valla, or Vallo, Lorenzo, 143 n., 280. 

Valle, Fantino de, 314, 315. 

Vatican, the, 237, 330. 

Venice, 13, 42, 75, 78, 104, 191, 205, 
213, 236, 249, 268, 273, 301, 306, 
314, 342, 343, 346, 350, 351, 354. 

Verona, 48. 

Vienna, 114, 129, 148, 158, 161, 215. 

Visconti, the, 183. 

Bianca Maria. See Sforza. 

- Filippo Maria, 19, 47 ; his char 
acter, 48 aqq., 50, 51, 72, 76, 78, 
99, 102, 104, 123, 182, 303. 

Gian Galeazzo, 3. 

Vitelleschi, Cardinal, 47, 153. 

Viterbo, 192, 293. 

Voigt, G., historian, 82, 95, 141, 150, 
175, 213, 311, 319, 341. 

WALDENSES, the, 38, 199. 
Wartenburg, Nicholas, 147, 173 

n. 2. 
Weiss, A., historian, v, and various 


Wenceslaus, Emperor, 36. 
Worcester, Earl of, 277. 
Worms, Dean of, 226. 

YORK, 66. 

ZISKA, John, 36, 39, 188. 

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