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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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had inflamed their minds against the church, the Romans artfully
labored to conciliate the favor of the empire, and to recommend
their merit and services in the cause of Caesar. The style of
their ambassadors to Conrad the Third and Frederic the First is a
mixture of flattery and pride, the tradition and the ignorance of
their own history. ^53 After some complaint of his silence and
neglect, they exhort the former of these princes to pass the
Alps, and assume from their hands the Imperial crown. "We
beseech your majesty not to disdain the humility of your sons and
vassals, not to listen to the accusations of our common enemies;
who calumniate the senate as hostile to your throne, who sow the
seeds of discord, that they may reap the harvest of destruction.
The pope and the Sicilian are united in an impious league to
oppose our liberty and your coronation. With the blessing of
God, our zeal and courage has hitherto defeated their attempts.
Of their powerful and factious adherents, more especially the
Frangipani, we have taken by assault the houses and turrets: some
of these are occupied by our troops, and some are levelled with
the ground. The Milvian bridge, which they had broken, is
restored and fortified for your safe passage; and your army may
enter the city without being annoyed from the castle of St.
Angelo. All that we have done, and all that we design, is for
your honor and service, in the loyal hope, that you will speedily
appear in person, to vindicate those rights which have been
invaded by the clergy, to revive the dignity of the empire, and
to surpass the fame and glory of your predecessors. May you fix
your residence in Rome, the capital of the world; give laws to
Italy, and the Teutonic kingdom; and imitate the example of
Constantine and Justinian, ^54 who, by the vigor of the senate
and people, obtained the sceptre of the earth." ^55 But these
splendid and fallacious wishes were not cherished by Conrad the
Franconian, whose eyes were fixed on the Holy Land, and who died
without visiting Rome soon after his return from the Holy Land.

[Footnote 53: These letters and speeches are preserved by Otho
bishop of Frisingen, (Fabric. Bibliot. Lat. Med. et Infim. tom.
v. p. 186, 187,) perhaps the noblest of historians: he was son of
Leopold marquis of Austria; his mother, Agnes, was daughter of
the emperor Henry IV., and he was half- brother and uncle to
Conrad III. and Frederic I. He has left, in seven books, a
Chronicle of the Times; in two, the Gesta Frederici I., the last
of which is inserted in the vith volume of Muratori's

[Footnote 54: We desire (said the ignorant Romans) to restore the
empire in um statum, quo fuit tempore Constantini et Justiniani,
qui totum orbem vigore senatus et populi Romani suis tenuere

[Footnote 55: Otho Frising. de Gestis Frederici I. l. i. c. 28,
p. 662 - 664.]

His nephew and successor, Frederic Barbarossa, was more
ambitious of the Imperial crown; nor had any of the successors of
Otho acquired such absolute sway over the kingdom of Italy.
Surrounded by his ecclesiastical and secular princes, he gave
audience in his camp at Sutri to the ambassadors of Rome, who
thus addressed him in a free and florid oration: "Incline your
ear to the queen of cities; approach with a peaceful and friendly
mind the precincts of Rome, which has cast away the yoke of the
clergy, and is impatient to crown her legitimate emperor. Under
your auspicious influence, may the primitive times be restored.
Assert the prerogatives of the eternal city, and reduce under her
monarchy the insolence of the world. You are not ignorant, that,
in former ages, by the wisdom of the senate, by the valor and
discipline of the equestrian order, she extended her victorious
arms to the East and West, beyond the Alps, and over the islands
of the ocean. By our sins, in the absence of our princes, the
noble institution of the senate has sunk in oblivion; and with
our prudence, our strength has likewise decreased. We have
revived the senate, and the equestrian order: the counsels of the
one, the arms of the other, will be devoted to your person and
the service of the empire. Do you not hear the language of the
Roman matron? You were a guest, I have adopted you as a citizen;
a Transalpine stranger, I have elected you for my sovereign; ^56
and given you myself, and all that is mine. Your first and most
sacred duty is to swear and subscribe, that you will shed your
blood for the republic; that you will maintain in peace and
justice the laws of the city and the charters of your
predecessors; and that you will reward with five thousand pounds
of silver the faithful senators who shall proclaim your titles in
the Capitol. With the name, assume the character, of Augustus."
The flowers of Latin rhetoric were not yet exhausted; but
Frederic, impatient of their vanity, interrupted the orators in
the high tone of royalty and conquest. "Famous indeed have been
the fortitude and wisdom of the ancient Romans; but your speech
is not seasoned with wisdom, and I could wish that fortitude were
conspicuous in your actions. Like all sublunary things, Rome has
felt the vicissitudes of time and fortune. Your noblest families
were translated to the East, to the royal city of Constantine;
and the remains of your strength and freedom have long since been
exhausted by the Greeks and Franks. Are you desirous of
beholding the ancient glory of Rome, the gravity of the senate,
the spirit of the knights, the discipline of the camp, the valor
of the legions? you will find them in the German republic. It
is not empire, naked and alone, the ornaments and virtues of
empire have likewise migrated beyond the Alps to a more deserving
people: ^57 they will be employed in your defence, but they claim
your obedience. You pretend that myself or my predecessors have
been invited by the Romans: you mistake the word; they were not
invited, they were implored. From its foreign and domestic
tyrants, the city was rescued by Charlemagne and Otho, whose
ashes repose in our country; and their dominion was the price of
your deliverance. Under that dominion your ancestors lived and
died. I claim by the right of inheritance and possession, and
who shall dare to extort you from my hands? Is the hand of the
Franks ^58 and Germans enfeebled by age? Am I vanquished? Am I a
captive? Am I not encompassed with the banners of a potent and
invincible army? You impose conditions on your master; you
require oaths: if the conditions are just, an oath is
superfluous; if unjust, it is criminal. Can you doubt my equity?

It is extended to the meanest of my subjects. Will not my sword
be unsheathed in the defence of the Capitol? By that sword the
northern kingdom of Denmark has been restored to the Roman
empire. You prescribe the measure and the objects of my bounty,
which flows in a copious but a voluntary stream. All will be
given to patient merit; all will be denied to rude importunity."
^59 Neither the emperor nor the senate could maintain these lofty
pretensions of dominion and liberty. United with the pope, and
suspicious of the Romans, Frederic continued his march to the
Vatican; his coronation was disturbed by a sally from the
Capitol; and if the numbers and valor of the Germans prevailed in
the bloody conflict, he could not safely encamp in the presence
of a city of which he styled himself the sovereign. About twelve
years afterwards, he besieged Rome, to seat an antipope in the
chair of St. Peter; and twelve Pisan galleys were introduced into
the Tyber: but the senate and people were saved by the arts of
negotiation and the progress of disease; nor did Frederic or his
successors reiterate the hostile attempt. Their laborious reigns
were exercised by the popes, the crusades, and the independence
of Lombardy and Germany: they courted the alliance of the Romans;
and Frederic the Second offered in the Capitol the great
standard, the Caroccio of Milan. ^60 After the extinction of the
house of Swabia, they were banished beyond the Alps: and their
last coronations betrayed the impotence and poverty of the
Teutonic Caesars. ^61

[Footnote 56: Hospes eras, civem feci. Advena fuisti ex
Transalpinis partibus principem constitui.]

[Footnote 57: Non cessit nobis nudum imperium, virtute sua
amictum venit, ornamenta sua secum traxit. Penes nos sunt
consules tui, &c. Cicero or Livy would not have rejected these
images, the eloquence of a Barbarian born and educated in the
Hercynian forest.]

[Footnote 58: Otho of Frisingen, who surely understood the
language of the court and diet of Germany, speaks of the Franks
in the xiith century as the reigning nation, (Proceres Franci,
equites Franci, manus Francorum:) he adds, however, the epithet
of Teutonici.]

[Footnote 59: Otho Frising. de Gestis Frederici I., l. ii. c. 22,
p. 720 - 733. These original and authentic acts I have
translated and abridged with freedom, yet with fidelity.]

[Footnote 60: From the Chronicles of Ricobaldo and Francis Pipin,
Muratori (dissert. xxvi. tom. ii. p. 492) has translated this
curious fact with the doggerel verses that accompanied the gift:

Ave decus orbis, ave! victus tibi destinor, ave!
Currus ab Augusto Frederico Caesare justo.
Vae Mediolanum! jam sentis spernere vanum
Imperii vires, proprias tibi tollere vires.
Ergo triumphorum urbs potes memor esse priorum
Quos tibi mittebant reges qui bella gerebant.

Ne si dee tacere (I now use the Italian Dissertations, tom.
i. p. 444) che nell' anno 1727, una copia desso Caroccio in marmo
dianzi ignoto si scopri, nel campidoglio, presso alle carcere di
quel luogo, dove Sisto V. l'avea falto rinchiudere. Stava esso
posto sopra quatro colonne di marmo fino colla sequente
inscrizione, &c.; to the same purpose as the old inscription.]
[Footnote 61: The decline of the Imperial arms and authority in
Italy is related with impartial learning in the Annals of
Muratori, (tom. x. xi. xii.;) and the reader may compare his
narrative with the Histoires des Allemands (tom. iii. iv.) by
Schmidt, who has deserved the esteem of his countrymen.]
Under the reign of Adrian, when the empire extended from the
Euphrates to the ocean, from Mount Atlas to the Grampian hills, a
fanciful historian ^62 amused the Romans with the picture of
their ancient wars. "There was a time," says Florus, "when Tibur
and Praeneste, our summer retreats, were the objects of hostile
vows in the Capitol, when we dreaded the shades of the Arician
groves, when we could triumph without a blush over the nameless
villages of the Sabines and Latins, and even Corioli could afford
a title not unworthy of a victorious general." The pride of his
contemporaries was gratified by the contrast of the past and the
present: they would have been humbled by the prospect of
futurity; by the prediction, that after a thousand years, Rome,
despoiled of empire, and contracted to her primaeval limits,
would renew the same hostilities, on the same ground which was
then decorated with her villas and gardens. The adjacent
territory on either side of the Tyber was always claimed, and
sometimes possessed, as the patrimony of St. Peter; but the
barons assumed a lawless independence, and the cities too
faithfully copied the revolt and discord of the metropolis. In
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Romans incessantly
labored to reduce or destroy the contumacious vassals of the
church and senate; and if their headstrong and selfish ambition
was moderated by the pope, he often encouraged their zeal by the
alliance of his spiritual arms. Their warfare was that of the
first consuls and dictators, who were taken from the plough. The
assembled in arms at the foot of the Capitol; sallied from the
gates, plundered or burnt the harvests of their neighbors,
engaged in tumultuary conflict, and returned home after an
expedition of fifteen or twenty days. Their sieges were tedious
and unskilful: in the use of victory, they indulged the meaner
passions of jealousy and revenge; and instead of adopting the
valor, they trampled on the misfortunes, of their adversaries.
The captives, in their shirts, with a rope round their necks,
solicited their pardon: the fortifications, and even the
buildings, of the rival cities, were demolished, and the
inhabitants were scattered in the adjacent villages. It was thus
that the seats of the cardinal bishops, Porto, Ostia, Albanum,
Tusculum, Praeneste, and Tibur or Tivoli, were successively
overthrown by the ferocious hostility of the Romans. ^63 Of
these, ^64 Porto and Ostia, the two keys of the Tyber, are still
vacant and desolate: the marshy and unwholesome banks are peopled
with herds of buffaloes, and the river is lost to every purpose
of navigation and trade. The hills, which afford a shady
retirement from the autumnal heats, have again smiled with the
blessings of peace; Frescati has arisen near the ruins of
Tusculum; Tibur or Tivoli has resumed the honors of a city, ^65
and the meaner towns of Albano and Palestrina are decorated with
the villas of the cardinals and princes of Rome. In the work of
destruction, the ambition of the Romans was often checked and
repulsed by the neighboring cities and their allies: in the first
siege of Tibur, they were driven from their camp; and the battles
of Tusculum ^66 and Viterbo ^67 might be compared in their
relative state to the memorable fields of Thrasymene and Cannae.
In the first of these petty wars, thirty thousand Romans were
overthrown by a thousand German horse, whom Frederic Barbarossa
had detached to the relief of Tusculum: and if we number the
slain at three, the prisoners at two, thousand, we shall embrace
the most authentic and moderate account. Sixty- eight years
afterwards they marched against Viterbo in the ecclesiastical
state with the whole force of the city; by a rare coalition the
Teutonic eagle was blended, in the adverse banners, with the keys
of St. Peter; and the pope's auxiliaries were commanded by a
count of Thoulouse and a bishop of Winchester. The Romans were
discomfited with shame and slaughter: but the English prelate
must have indulged the vanity of a pilgrim, if he multiplied
their numbers to one hundred, and their loss in the field to
thirty, thousand men. Had the policy of the senate and the
discipline of the legions been restored with the Capitol, the
divided condition of Italy would have offered the fairest
opportunity of a second conquest. But in arms, the modern Romans
were not above, and in arts, they were far below, the common
level of the neighboring republics. Nor was their warlike spirit
of any long continuance; after some irregular sallies, they
subsided in the national apathy, in the neglect of military
institutions, and in the disgraceful and dangerous use of foreign
[Footnote 62: Tibur nunc suburbanum, et aestivae Praeneste
deliciae, nuncupatia in Capitolio votis petebantur. The whole
passage of Florus (l. i. c. 11) may be read with pleasure, and
has deserved the praise of a man of genius, (Oeuvres de
Montesquieu, tom. iii. p. 634, 635, quarto edition)]
[Footnote 63: Ne a feritate Romanorum, sicut fuerant Hostienses,
Portuenses, Tusculanenses, Albanenses, Labicenses, et nuper
Tiburtini destruerentur, (Matthew Paris, p. 757.) These events
are marked in the Annals and Index (the xviiith volume) of

[Footnote 64: For the state or ruin of these suburban cities, the
banks of the Tyber, &c., see the lively picture of the P. Labat,
(Voyage en Espagne et en Italiae,) who had long resided in the
neighborhood of Rome, and the more accurate description of which
P. Eschinard (Roma, 1750, in octavo) has added to the
topographical map of Cingolani.]

[Footnote 65: Labat (tom. iii. p. 233) mentions a recent decree
of the Roman government, which has severely mortified the pride
and poverty of Tivoli: in civitate Tiburtina non vivitur

[Footnote 66: I depart from my usual method, of quoting only by
the date the Annals of Muratori, in consideration of the critical
balance in which he has weighed nine contemporary writers who
mention the battle of Tusculum, (tom. x. p. 42 - 44.)]

[Footnote 67: Matthew Paris, p. 345. This bishop of Winchester
was Peter de Rupibus, who occupied the see thirty-two years,
(A.D. 1206 - 1238.) and is described, by the English historian,
as a soldier and a statesman. (p. 178, 399.)]

Ambition is a weed of quick and early vegetation in the
vineyard of Christ. Under the first Christian princes, the chair
of St. Peter was disputed by the votes, the venality, the
violence, of a popular election: the sanctuaries of Rome were
polluted with blood; and, from the third to the twelfth century,
the church was distracted by the mischief of frequent schisms.
As long as the final appeal was determined by the civil
magistrate, these mischiefs were transient and local: the merits
were tried by equity or favor; nor could the unsuccessful
competitor long disturb the triumph of his rival. But after the
emperors had been divested of their prerogatives, after a maxim
had been established that the vicar of Christ is amenable to no
earthly tribunal, each vacancy of the holy see might involve
Christendom in controversy and war. The claims of the cardinals
and inferior clergy, of the nobles and people, were vague and
litigious: the freedom of choice was overruled by the tumults of
a city that no longer owned or obeyed a superior. On the decease
of a pope, two factions proceeded in different churches to a
double election: the number and weight of votes, the priority of
time, the merit of the candidates, might balance each other: the
most respectable of the clergy were divided; and the distant
princes, who bowed before the spiritual throne, could not
distinguish the spurious, from the legitimate, idol. The
emperors were often the authors of the schism, from the political
motive of opposing a friendly to a hostile pontiff; and each of
the competitors was reduced to suffer the insults of his enemies,
who were not awed by conscience, and to purchase the support of
his adherents, who were instigated by avarice or ambition a
peaceful and perpetual succession was ascertained by Alexander
the Third, ^68 who finally abolished the tumultuary votes of the
clergy and people, and defined the right of election in the sole
college of cardinals. ^69 The three orders of bishops, priests,
and deacons, were assimilated to each other by this important
privilege; the parochial clergy of Rome obtained the first rank
in the hierarchy: they were indifferently chosen among the
nations of Christendom; and the possession of the richest
benefices, of the most important bishoprics, was not incompatible
with their title and office. The senators of the Catholic church,
the coadjutors and legates of the supreme pontiff, were robed in
purple, the symbol of martyrdom or royalty; they claimed a proud
equality with kings; and their dignity was enhanced by the
smallness of their number, which, till the reign of Leo the
Tenth, seldom exceeded twenty or twenty-five persons. By this
wise regulation, all doubt and scandal were removed, and the root
of schism was so effectually destroyed, that in a period of six
hundred years a double choice has only once divided the unity of
the sacred college. But as the concurrence of two thirds of the
votes had been made necessary, the election was often delayed by
the private interest and passions of the cardinals; and while
they prolonged their independent reign, the Christian world was
left destitute of a head. A vacancy of almost three years had
preceded the elevation of George the Tenth, who resolved to
prevent the future abuse; and his bull, after some opposition,
has been consecrated in the code of the canon law. ^70 Nine days
are allowed for the obsequies of the deceased pope, and the
arrival of the absent cardinals; on the tenth, they are
imprisoned, each with one domestic, in a common apartment or
conclave, without any separation of walls or curtains: a small
window is reserved for the introduction of necessaries; but the
door is locked on both sides and guarded by the magistrates of
the city, to seclude them from all correspondence with the world.

If the election be not consummated in three days, the luxury of
their table is contracted to a single dish at dinner and supper;
and after the eighth day, they are reduced to a scanty allowance
of bread, water, and wine. During the vacancy of the holy see,
the cardinals are prohibited from touching the revenues, or
assuming, unless in some rare emergency, the government of the
church: all agreements and promises among the electors are
formally annulled; and their integrity is fortified by their
solemn oath and the prayers of the Catholics. Some articles of
inconvenient or superfluous rigor have been gradually relaxed,
but the principle of confinement is vigorous and entire: they are
still urged, by the personal motives of health and freedom, to
accelerate the moment of their deliverance; and the improvement
of ballot or secret votes has wrapped the struggles of the
conclave ^71 in the silky veil of charity and politeness. ^72 By
these institutions the Romans were excluded from the election of
their prince and bishop; and in the fever of wild and precarious
liberty, they seemed insensible of the loss of this inestimable
privilege. The emperor Lewis of Bavaria revived the example of
the great Otho. After some negotiation with the magistrates, the
Roman people were assembled ^73 in the square before St. Peter's:
the pope of Avignon, John the Twenty-second, was deposed: the
choice of his successor was ratified by their consent and
applause. They freely voted for a new law, that their bishop
should never be absent more than three months in the year, and
two days' journey from the city; and that if he neglected to
return on the third summons, the public servant should be
degraded and dismissed. ^74 But Lewis forgot his own debility and
the prejudices of the times: beyond the precincts of a German
camp, his useless phantom was rejected; the Romans despised their
own workmanship; the antipope implored the mercy of his lawful
sovereign; ^75 and the exclusive right of the cardinals was more
firmly established by this unseasonable attack.

[Footnote 68: See Mosheim, Institut. Histor. Ecclesiast. p. 401,
403. Alexander himself had nearly been the victim of a contested
election; and the doubtful merits of Innocent had only
preponderated by the weight of genius and learning which St.
Bernard cast into the scale, (see his life and writings.)]
[Footnote 69: The origin, titles, importance, dress, precedency,
&c., of the Roman cardinals, are very ably discussed by
Thomassin, (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 1262 - 1287;) but
their purple is now much faded. The sacred college was raised to
the definite number of seventy-two, to represent, under his
vicar, the disciples of Christ.]

[Footnote 70: See the bull of Gregory X. approbante sacro
concilio, in the Sexts of the Canon Law, (l. i. tit. 6, c. 3,) a
supplement to the Decretals, which Boniface VIII. promulgated at
Rome in 1298, and addressed in all the universities of Europe.]

[Footnote 71: The genius of Cardinal de Retz had a right to paint
a conclave, (of 1665,) in which he was a spectator and an actor,
(Memoires, tom. iv. p. 15 - 57;) but I am at a loss to appreciate
the knowledge or authority of an anonymous Italian, whose history
(Conclavi de' Pontifici Romani, in 4to. 1667) has been continued
since the reign of Alexander VII. The accidental form of the
work furnishes a lesson, though not an antidote, to ambition.
From a labyrinth of intrigues, we emerge to the adoration of the
successful candidate; but the next page opens with his funeral.]

[Footnote 72: The expressions of Cardinal de Retz are positive
and picturesque: On y vecut toujours ensemble avec le meme
respect, et la meme civilite que l'on observe dans le cabinet des
rois, avec la meme politesse qu'on avoit dans la cour de Henri
III., avec la meme familiarite que l'on voit dans les colleges;
avec la meme modestie, qui se remarque dans les noviciats; et
avec la meme charite, du moins en apparence, qui pourroit otre
entre des freres parfaitement unis.]

[Footnote 73: Richiesti per bando (says John Villani) sanatori di
Roma, e 52 del popolo, et capitani de' 25, e consoli, (consoli?)
et 13 buone huomini, uno per rione. Our knowledge is too
imperfect to pronounce how much of this constitution was
temporary, and how much ordinary and permanent. Yet it is faintly
illustrated by the ancient statutes of Rome.]

[Footnote 74: Villani (l. x. c. 68 - 71, in Muratori, Script.
tom. xiii. p. 641 - 645) relates this law, and the whole
transaction, with much less abhorrence than the prudent Muratori.

Any one conversant with the darker ages must have observed how
much the sense (I mean the nonsense) of superstition is
fluctuating and inconsistent.]

[Footnote 75: In the first volume of the Popes of Avignon, see
the second original Life of John XXII. p. 142 - 145, the
confession of the antipope p. 145 - 152, and the laborious notes
of Baluze, p. 714, 715.]
Had the election been always held in the Vatican, the rights
of the senate and people would not have been violated with
impunity. But the Romans forgot, and were forgotten. in the
absence of the successors of Gregory the Seventh, who did not
keep as a divine precept their ordinary residence in the city and
diocese. The care of that diocese was less important than the
government of the universal church; nor could the popes delight
in a city in which their authority was always opposed, and their
person was often endangered. From the persecution of the
emperors, and the wars of Italy, they escaped beyond the Alps
into the hospitable bosom of France; from the tumults of Rome
they prudently withdrew to live and die in the more tranquil
stations of Anagni, Perugia, Viterbo, and the adjacent cities.
When the flock was offended or impoverished by the absence of the
shepherd, they were recalled by a stern admonition, that St.
Peter had fixed his chair, not in an obscure village, but in the
capital of the world; by a ferocious menace, that the Romans
would march in arms to destroy the place and people that should
dare to afford them a retreat. They returned with timorous
obedience; and were saluted with the account of a heavy debt, of
all the losses which their desertion had occasioned, the hire of
lodgings, the sale of provisions, and the various expenses of
servants and strangers who attended the court. ^76 After a short
interval of peace, and perhaps of authority, they were again
banished by new tumults, and again summoned by the imperious or
respectful invitation of the senate. In these occasional
retreats, the exiles and fugitives of the Vatican were seldom
long, or far, distant from the metropolis; but in the beginning
of the fourteenth century, the apostolic throne was transported,
as it might seem forever, from the Tyber to the Rhone; and the
cause of the transmigration may be deduced from the furious
contest between Boniface the Eighth and the king of France. ^77
The spiritual arms of excommunication and interdict were repulsed
by the union of the three estates, and the privileges of the
Gallican church; but the pope was not prepared against the carnal
weapons which Philip the Fair had courage to employ. As the pope
resided at Anagni, without the suspicion of danger, his palace
and person were assaulted by three hundred horse, who had been
secretly levied by William of Nogaret, a French minister, and
Sciarra Colonna, of a noble but hostile family of Rome. The
cardinals fled; the inhabitants of Anagni were seduced from their
allegiance and gratitude; but the dauntless Boniface, unarmed and
alone, seated himself in his chair, and awaited, like the
conscript fathers of old, the swords of the Gauls. Nogaret, a
foreign adversary, was content to execute the orders of his
master: by the domestic enmity of Colonna, he was insulted with
words and blows; and during a confinement of three days his life
was threatened by the hardships which they inflicted on the
obstinacy which they provoked. Their strange delay gave time and
courage to the adherents of the church, who rescued him from
sacrilegious violence; but his imperious soul was wounded in the
vital part; and Boniface expired at Rome in a frenzy of rage and
revenge. His memory is stained with the glaring vices of avarice
and pride; nor has the courage of a martyr promoted this
ecclesiastical champion to the honors of a saint; a magnanimous
sinner, (say the chronicles of the times,) who entered like a
fox, reigned like a lion, and died like a dog. He was succeeded
by Benedict the Eleventh, the mildest of mankind. Yet he
excommunicated the impious emissaries of Philip, and devoted the
city and people of Anagni by a tremendous curse, whose effects
are still visible to the eyes of superstition. ^78
[Footnote 76: Romani autem non valentes nec volentes ultra suam
celare cupiditatem gravissimam, contra papam movere coeperunt
questionem, exigentes ab eo urgentissime omnia quae subierant per
ejus absentiam damna et jacturas, videlicet in hispitiis
locandis, in mercimoniis, in usuris, in redditibus, in
provisionibus, et in aliis modis innumerabilibus. Quod cum
audisset papa, praecordialiter ingemuit, et se comperiens
muscipulatum, &c., Matt. Paris, p. 757. For the ordinary history
of the popes, their life and death, their residence and absence,
it is enough to refer to the ecclesiastical annalists, Spondanus
and Fleury.]

[Footnote 77: Besides the general historians of the church of
Italy and of France, we possess a valuable treatise composed by a
learned friend of Thuanus, which his last and best editors have
published in the appendix (Histoire particuliere du grand
Differend entre Boniface VIII et Philippe le Bel, par Pierre du
Puis, tom. vii. P. xi. p. 61 - 82.)]

[Footnote 78: It is difficult to know whether Labat (tom. iv. p.
53 - 57) be in jest or in earnest, when he supposes that Anagni
still feels the weight of this curse, and that the cornfields, or
vineyards, or olive-trees, are annually blasted by Nature, the
obsequious handmaid of the popes.]

Chapter LXIX: State Of Rome From The Twelfth Century.

Part IV.

After his decease, the tedious and equal suspense of the
conclave was fixed by the dexterity of the French faction. A
specious offer was made and accepted, that, in the term of forty
days, they would elect one of the three candidates who should be
named by their opponents. The archbishop of Bourdeaux, a furious
enemy of his king and country, was the first on the list; but his
ambition was known; and his conscience obeyed the calls of
fortune and the commands of a benefactor, who had been informed
by a swift messenger that the choice of a pope was now in his
hands. The terms were regulated in a private interview; and with
such speed and secrecy was the business transacted, that the
unanimous conclave applauded the elevation of Clement the Fifth.
^79 The cardinals of both parties were soon astonished by a
summons to attend him beyond the Alps; from whence, as they soon
discovered, they must never hope to return. He was engaged, by
promise and affection, to prefer the residence of France; and,
after dragging his court through Poitou and Gascony, and
devouring, by his expense, the cities and convents on the road,
he finally reposed at Avignon, ^80 which flourished above seventy
years ^81 the seat of the Roman pontiff and the metropolis of
Christendom. By land, by sea, by the Rhone, the position of
Avignon was on all sides accessible; the southern provinces of
France do not yield to Italy itself; new palaces arose for the
accommodation of the pope and cardinals; and the arts of luxury
were soon attracted by the treasures of the church. They were
already possessed of the adjacent territory, the Venaissin
county, ^82 a populous and fertile spot; and the sovereignty of
Avignon was afterwards purchased from the youth and distress of
Jane, the first queen of Naples and countess of Provence, for the
inadequate price of fourscore thousand florins. ^83 Under the
shadow of a French monarchy, amidst an obedient people, the popes
enjoyed an honorable and tranquil state, to which they long had
been strangers: but Italy deplored their absence; and Rome, in
solitude and poverty, might repent of the ungovernable freedom
which had driven from the Vatican the successor of St. Peter.
Her repentance was tardy and fruitless: after the death of the
old members, the sacred college was filled with French cardinals,
^84 who beheld Rome and Italy with abhorrence and contempt, and
perpetuated a series of national, and even provincial, popes,
attached by the most indissoluble ties to their native country.

[Footnote 79: See, in the Chronicle of Giovanni Villani, (l.
viii. c. 63, 64, 80, in Muratori, tom. xiii.,) the imprisonment
of Boniface VIII., and the election of Clement V., the last of
which, like most anecdotes, is embarrassed with some

[Footnote 80: The original lives of the eight popes of Avignon,
Clement V., John XXII., Benedict XI., Clement VI., Innocent VI.,
Urban V., Gregory XI., and Clement VII., are published by Stephen
Baluze, (Vitae Paparum Avenionensium; Paris, 1693, 2 vols. in
4to.,) with copious and elaborate notes, and a second volume of
acts and documents. With the true zeal of an editor and a
patriot, he devoutly justifies or excuses the characters of his

[Footnote 81: The exile of Avignon is compared by the Italians
with Babylon, and the Babylonish captivity. Such furious
metaphors, more suitable to the ardor of Petrarch than to the
judgment of Muratori, are gravely refuted in Baluze's preface.
The abbe de Sade is distracted between the love of Petrarch and
of his country. Yet he modestly pleads, that many of the local
inconveniences of Avignon are now removed; and many of the vices
against which the poet declaims, had been imported with the Roman
court by the strangers of Italy, (tom. i. p. 23 - 28.)]

[Footnote 82: The comtat Venaissin was ceded to the popes in 1273
by Philip III. king of France, after he had inherited the
dominions of the count of Thoulouse. Forty years before, the
heresy of Count Raymond had given them a pretence of seizure, and
they derived some obscure claim from the xith century to some
lands citra Rhodanum, (Valesii Notitia Galliarum, p. 495, 610.
Longuerue, Description de la France, tom. i. p. 376 - 381.)]
[Footnote 83: If a possession of four centuries were not itself a
title, such objections might annul the bargain; but the purchase
money must be refunded, for indeed it was paid. Civitatem
Avenionem emit . . . per ejusmodi venditionem pecunia redundates,
&c., (iida Vita Clement. VI. in Baluz. tom. i. p. 272. Muratori,
Script. tom. iii. P. ii. p. 565.) The only temptation for Jane
and her second husband was ready money, and without it they could
not have returned to the throne of Naples.]

[Footnote 84: Clement V immediately promoted ten cardinals, nine
French and one English, (Vita ivta, p. 63, et Baluz. p. 625, &c.)
In 1331, the pope refused two candidates recommended by the king
of France, quod xx. Cardinales, de quibus xvii. de regno Fraciae
originem traxisse noscuntur in memorato collegio existant,
(Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 1281.)]
The progress of industry had produced and enriched the
Italian republics: the aera of their liberty is the most
flourishing period of population and agriculture, of manufactures
and commerce; and their mechanic labors were gradually refined
into the arts of elegance and genius. But the position of Rome
was less favorable, the territory less fruitful: the character of
the inhabitants was debased by indolence and elated by pride; and
they fondly conceived that the tribute of subjects must forever
nourish the metropolis of the church and empire. This prejudice
was encouraged in some degree by the resort of pilgrims to the
shrines of the apostles; and the last legacy of the popes, the
institution of the holy year, ^85 was not less beneficial to the
people than to the clergy. Since the loss of Palestine, the gift
of plenary indulgences, which had been applied to the crusades,
remained without an object; and the most valuable treasure of the
church was sequestered above eight years from public circulation.

A new channel was opened by the diligence of Boniface the Eighth,
who reconciled the vices of ambition and avarice; and the pope
had sufficient learning to recollect and revive the secular games
which were celebrated in Rome at the conclusion of every century.

To sound without danger the depth of popular credulity, a sermon
was seasonably pronounced, a report was artfully scattered, some
aged witnesses were produced; and on the first of January of the
year thirteen hundred, the church of St. Peter was crowded with
the faithful, who demanded the customary indulgence of the holy
time. The pontiff, who watched and irritated their devout
impatience, was soon persuaded by ancient testimony of the
justice of their claim; and he proclaimed a plenary absolution to
all Catholics who, in the course of that year, and at every
similar period, should respectfully visit the apostolic churches
of St. Peter and St. Paul. The welcome sound was propagated
through Christendom; and at first from the nearest provinces of
Italy, and at length from the remote kingdoms of Hungary and
Britain, the highways were thronged with a swarm of pilgrims who
sought to expiate their sins in a journey, however costly or
laborious, which was exempt from the perils of military service.
All exceptions of rank or sex, of age or infirmity, were
forgotten in the common transport; and in the streets and
churches many persons were trampled to death by the eagerness of
devotion. The calculation of their numbers could not be easy nor
accurate; and they have probably been magnified by a dexterous
clergy, well apprised of the contagion of example: yet we are
assured by a judicious historian, who assisted at the ceremony,
that Rome was never replenished with less than two hundred
thousand strangers; and another spectator has fixed at two
millions the total concourse of the year. A trifling oblation
from each individual would accumulate a royal treasure; and two
priests stood night and day, with rakes in their hands, to
collect, without counting, the heaps of gold and silver that were
poured on the altar of St. Paul. ^86 It was fortunately a season
of peace and plenty; and if forage was scarce, if inns and
lodgings were extravagantly dear, an inexhaustible supply of
bread and wine, of meat and fish, was provided by the policy of
Boniface and the venal hospitality of the Romans. From a city
without trade or industry, all casual riches will speedily
evaporate: but the avarice and envy of the next generation
solicited Clement the Sixth ^87 to anticipate the distant period
of the century. The gracious pontiff complied with their wishes;
afforded Rome this poor consolation for his loss; and justified
the change by the name and practice of the Mosaic Jubilee. ^88
His summons was obeyed; and the number, zeal, and liberality of
the pilgrims did not yield to the primitive festival. But they
encountered the triple scourge of war, pestilence, and famine:
many wives and virgins were violated in the castles of Italy; and
many strangers were pillaged or murdered by the savage Romans, no
longer moderated by the presence of their bishops. ^89 To the
impatience of the popes we may ascribe the successive reduction
to fifty, thirty-three, and twenty-five years; although the
second of these terms is commensurate with the life of Christ.
The profusion of indulgences, the revolt of the Protestants, and
the decline of superstition, have much diminished the value of
the jubilee; yet even the nineteenth and last festival was a year
of pleasure and profit to the Romans; and a philosophic smile
will not disturb the triumph of the priest or the happiness of
the people. ^90
[Footnote 85: Our primitive account is from Cardinal James
Caietan, (Maxima Bibliot. Patrum, tom. xxv.;) and I am at a loss
to determine whether the nephew of Boniface VIII. be a fool or a
knave: the uncle is a much clearer character.]

[Footnote 86: See John Villani (l. viii. c. 36) in the xiith, and
the Chronicon Astense, in the xith volume (p. 191, 192) of
Muratori's Collection Papa innumerabilem pecuniam abeisdem
accepit, nam duo clerici, cum rastris, &c.]

[Footnote 87: The two bulls of Boniface VIII. and Clement VI. are
inserted on the Corpus Juris Canonici, Extravagant. Commun. l. v.
tit. ix c 1, 2.)]
[Footnote 88: The sabbatic years and jubilees of the Mosaic law,
(Car. Sigon. de Republica Hebraeorum, Opp. tom. iv. l. iii. c.
14, 14, p. 151, 152,) the suspension of all care and labor, the
periodical release of lands, debts, servitude, &c., may seem a
noble idea, but the execution would be impracticable in a profane
republic; and I should be glad to learn that this ruinous
festival was observed by the Jewish people.]

[Footnote 89: See the Chronicle of Matteo Villani, (l. i. c. 56,)
in the xivth vol. of Muratori, and the Memoires sur la Vie de
Petrarque, tom. iii. p. 75 - 89.]

[Footnote 90: The subject is exhausted by M. Chais, a French
minister at the Hague, in his Lettres Historiques et Dogmatiques,
sur les Jubiles et es Indulgences; la Haye, 1751, 3 vols. in
12mo.; an elaborate and pleasing work, had not the author
preferred the character of a polemic to that of a philosopher.]

In the beginning of the eleventh century, Italy was exposed
to the feudal tyranny, alike oppressive to the sovereign and the
people. The rights of human nature were vindicated by her
numerous republics, who soon extended their liberty and dominion
from the city to the adjacent country. The sword of the nobles
was broken; their slaves were enfranchised; their castles were
demolished; they assumed the habits of society and obedience;
their ambition was confined to municipal honors, and in the
proudest aristocracy of Venice on Genoa, each patrician was
subject to the laws. ^91 But the feeble and disorderly government
of Rome was unequal to the task of curbing her rebellious sons,
who scorned the authority of the magistrate within and without
the walls. It was no longer a civil contention between the
nobles and plebeians for the government of the state: the barons
asserted in arms their personal independence; their palaces and
castles were fortified against a siege; and their private
quarrels were maintained by the numbers of their vassals and
retainers. In origin and affection, they were aliens to their
country: ^92 and a genuine Roman, could such have been produced,
might have renounced these haughty strangers, who disdained the
appellation of citizens, and proudly styled themselves the
princes, of Rome. ^93 After a dark series of revolutions, all
records of pedigree were lost; the distinction of surnames was
abolished; the blood of the nations was mingled in a thousand
channels; and the Goths and Lombards, the Greeks and Franks, the
Germans and Normans, had obtained the fairest possessions by
royal bounty, or the prerogative of valor. These examples might
be readily presumed; but the elevation of a Hebrew race to the
rank of senators and consuls is an event without a parallel in
the long captivity of these miserable exiles. ^94 In the time of
Leo the Ninth, a wealthy and learned Jew was converted to
Christianity, and honored at his baptism with the name of his
godfather, the reigning Pope. The zeal and courage of Peter the
son of Leo were signalized in the cause of Gregory the Seventh,
who intrusted his faithful adherent with the government of
Adrian's mole, the tower of Crescentius, or, as it is now called,
the castle of St. Angelo. Both the father and the son were the
parents of a numerous progeny: their riches, the fruits of usury,
were shared with the noblest families of the city; and so
extensive was their alliance, that the grandson of the proselyte
was exalted by the weight of his kindred to the throne of St.
Peter. A majority of the clergy and people supported his cause:
he reigned several years in the Vatican; and it is only the
eloquence of St. Bernard, and the final triumph of Innocence the
Second, that has branded Anacletus with the epithet of antipope.
After his defeat and death, the posterity of Leo is no longer
conspicuous; and none will be found of the modern nobles
ambitious of descending from a Jewish stock. It is not my design
to enumerate the Roman families which have failed at different
periods, or those which are continued in different degrees of
splendor to the present time. ^95 The old consular line of the
Frangipani discover their name in the generous act of breaking or
dividing bread in a time of famine; and such benevolence is more
truly glorious than to have enclosed, with their allies the
Corsi, a spacious quarter of the city in the chains of their
fortifications; the Savelli, as it should seem a Sabine race,
have maintained their original dignity; the obsolete surname of
the Capizucchi is inscribed on the coins of the first senators;
the Conti preserve the honor, without the estate, of the counts
of Signia; and the Annibaldi must have been very ignorant, or
very modest, if they had not descended from the Carthaginian
hero. ^96

[Footnote 91: Muratori (Dissert. xlvii.) alleges the Annals of
Florence, Padua, Genoa, &c., the analogy of the rest, the
evidence of Otho of Frisingen, (de Gest. Fred. I. l. ii. c. 13,)
and the submission of the marouis of Este.]
[Footnote 92: As early as the year 824, the emperor Lothaire I.
found it expedient to interrogate the Roman people, to learn from
each individual by what national law he chose to be governed.
(Muratori, Dissertat xxii.)]
[Footnote 93: Petrarch attacks these foreigners, the tyrants of
Rome, in a declamation or epistle, full of bold truths and absurd
pedantry, in which he applies the maxims, and even prejudices, of
the old republic to the state of the xivth century, (Memoires,
tom. iii. p. 157 - 169.)]

[Footnote 94: The origin and adventures of the Jewish family are
noticed by Pagi, (Critica, tom. iv. p. 435, A.D. 1124, No. 3, 4,)
who draws his information from the Chronographus Maurigniacensis,
and Arnulphus Sagiensis de Schismate, (in Muratori, Script. Ital.
tom. iii. P. i. p. 423 - 432.) The fact must in some degree be
true; yet I could wish that it had been coolly related, before it
was turned into a reproach against the antipope.]
[Footnote 95: Muratori has given two dissertations (xli. and
xlii.) to the names, surnames, and families of Italy. Some
nobles, who glory in their domestic fables, may be offended with
his firm and temperate criticism; yet surely some ounces of pure
gold are of more value than many pounds of base metal.]

[Footnote 96: The cardinal of St. George, in his poetical, or
rather metrical history of the election and coronation of
Boniface VIII., (Muratori Script. Ital. tom. iii. P. i. p. 641,
&c.,) describes the state and families of Rome at the coronation
of Boniface VIII., (A.D. 1295.)

Interea titulis redimiti sanguine et armis Illustresque viri
Romana a stirpe trahentes Nomen in emeritos tantae virtutis
honores Insulerant sese medios festumque colebant Aurata fulgente
toga, sociante caterva. Ex ipsis devota domus praestantis ab Ursa
Ecclesiae, vultumque gerens demissius altum Festa Columna jocis,
necnon Sabellia mitis; Stephanides senior, Comites Annibalica
proles, Praefectusque urbis magnum sine viribus nomen.

(l. ii. c. 5, 100, p. 647, 648.)

The ancient statutes of Rome (l. iii. c. 59, p. 174, 175)
distinguish eleven families of barons, who are obliged to swear
in concilio communi, before the senator, that they would not
harbor or protect any malefactors, outlaws, &c. - a feeble

But among, perhaps above, the peers and princes of the city,
I distinguish the rival houses of Colonna and Ursini, whose
private story is an essential part of the annals of modern Rome.
I. The name and arms of Colonna ^97 have been the theme of much
doubtful etymology; nor have the orators and antiquarians
overlooked either Trajan's pillar, or the columns of Hercules, or
the pillar of Christ's flagellation, or the luminous column that
guided the Israelites in the desert. Their first historical
appearance in the year eleven hundred and four attests the power
and antiquity, while it explains the simple meaning, of the name.

By the usurpation of Cavae, the Colonna provoked the arms of
Paschal the Second; but they lawfully held in the Campagna of
Rome the hereditary fiefs of Zagarola and Colonna; and the latter
of these towns was probably adorned with some lofty pillar, the
relic of a villa or temple. ^98 They likewise possessed one
moiety of the neighboring city of Tusculum, a strong presumption
of their descent from the counts of Tusculum, who in the tenth
century were the tyrants of the apostolic see. According to
their own and the public opinion, the primitive and remote source
was derived from the banks of the Rhine; ^99 and the sovereigns
of Germany were not ashamed of a real or fabulous affinity with a
noble race, which in the revolutions of seven hundred years has
been often illustrated by merit and always by fortune. ^100 About
the end of the thirteenth century, the most powerful branch was
composed of an uncle and six bothers, all conspicuous in arms, or
in the honors of the church. Of these, Peter was elected senator
of Rome, introduced to the Capitol in a triumphal car, and hailed
in some vain acclamations with the title of Caesar; while John
and Stephen were declared marquis of Ancona and count of Romagna,
by Nicholas the Fourth, a patron so partial to their family, that
he has been delineated in satirical portraits, imprisoned as it
were in a hollow pillar. ^101 After his decease their haughty
behavior provoked the displeasure of the most implacable of
mankind. The two cardinals, the uncle and the nephew, denied the
election of Boniface the Eighth; and the Colonna were oppressed
for a moment by his temporal and spiritual arms. ^102 He
proclaimed a crusade against his personal enemies; their estates
were confiscated; their fortresses on either side of the Tyber
were besieged by the troops of St. Peter and those of the rival
nobles; and after the ruin of Palestrina or Praeneste, their
principal seat, the ground was marked with a ploughshare, the
emblem of perpetual desolation. Degraded, banished, proscribed,
the six brothers, in disguise and danger, wandered over Europe
without renouncing the hope of deliverance and revenge. In this
double hope, the French court was their surest asylum; they
prompted and directed the enterprise of Philip; and I should
praise their magnanimity, had they respected the misfortune and
courage of the captive tyrant. His civil acts were annulled by
the Roman people, who restored the honors and possessions of the
Colonna; and some estimate may be formed of their wealth by their
losses, of their losses by the damages of one hundred thousand
gold florins which were granted them against the accomplices and
heirs of the deceased pope. All the spiritual censures and
disqualifications were abolished ^103 by his prudent successors;
and the fortune of the house was more firmly established by this
transient hurricane. The boldness of Sciarra Colonna was
signalized in the captivity of Boniface, and long afterwards in
the coronation of Lewis of Bavaria; and by the gratitude of the
emperor, the pillar in their arms was encircled with a royal
crown. But the first of the family in fame and merit was the
elder Stephen, whom Petrarch loved and esteemed as a hero
superior to his own times, and not unworthy of ancient Rome.
Persecution and exile displayed to the nations his abilities in
peace and war; in his distress he was an object, not of pity, but
of reverence; the aspect of danger provoked him to avow his name
and country; and when he was asked, "Where is now your fortress?"
he laid his hand on his heart, and answered, "Here." He supported
with the same virtue the return of prosperity; and, till the ruin
of his declining age, the ancestors, the character, and the
children of Stephen Colonna, exalted his dignity in the Roman
republic, and at the court of Avignon. II. The Ursini migrated
from Spoleto; ^104 the sons of Ursus, as they are styled in the
twelfth century, from some eminent person, who is only known as
the father of their race. But they were soon distinguished among
the nobles of Rome, by the number and bravery of their kinsmen,
the strength of their towers, the honors of the senate and sacred
college, and the elevation of two popes, Celestin the Third and
Nicholas the Third, of their name and lineage. ^105 Their riches
may be accused as an early abuse of nepotism: the estates of St.
Peter were alienated in their favor by the liberal Celestin; ^106
and Nicholas was ambitious for their sake to solicit the alliance
of monarchs; to found new kingdoms in Lombardy and Tuscany; and
to invest them with the perpetual office of senators of Rome.
All that has been observed of the greatness of the Colonna will
likewise redeemed to the glory of the Ursini, their constant and
equal antagonists in the long hereditary feud, which distracted
above two hundred and fifty years the ecclesiastical state. The
jealously of preeminence and power was the true ground of their
quarrel; but as a specious badge of distinction, the Colonna
embraced the name of Ghibelines and the party of the empire; the
Ursini espoused the title of Guelphs and the cause of the church.

The eagle and the keys were displayed in their adverse banners;
and the two factions of Italy most furiously raged when the
origin and nature of the dispute were long since forgotten. ^107
After the retreat of the popes to Avignon they disputed in arms
the vacant republic; and the mischiefs of discord were
perpetuated by the wretched compromise of electing each year two
rival senators. By their private hostilities the city and
country were desolated, and the fluctuating balance inclined with
their alternate success. But none of either family had fallen by
the sword, till the most renowned champion of the Ursini was
surprised and slain by the younger Stephen Colonna. ^108 His
triumph is stained with the reproach of violating the truce;
their defeat was basely avenged by the assassination, before the
church door, of an innocent boy and his two servants. Yet the
victorious Colonna, with an annual colleague, was declared
senator of Rome during the term of five years. And the muse of
Petrarch inspired a wish, a hope, a prediction, that the generous
youth, the son of his venerable hero, would restore Rome and
Italy to their pristine glory; that his justice would extirpate
the wolves and lions, the serpents and bears, who labored to
subvert the eternal basis of the marble column. ^109

[Footnote 97: It is pity that the Colonna themselves have not
favored the world with a complete and critical history of their
illustrious house. I adhere to Muratori, (Dissert. xlii. tom.
iii. p. 647, 648.)]
[Footnote 98: Pandulph. Pisan. in Vit. Paschal. II. in Muratori,
Script. Ital. tom. iii. P. i. p. 335. The family has still great
possessions in the Campagna of Rome; but they have alienated to
the Rospigliosi this original fief of Colonna, Eschinard, p. 258,

[Footnote 99: Te longinqua dedit tellus et pascua Rheni, says
Petrarch; and, in 1417, a duke of Guelders and Juliers
acknowledges (Lenfant, Hist. du Concile de Constance, tom. ii. p.
539) his descent from the ancestors of Martin V., (Otho Colonna:)
but the royal author of the Memoirs of Brandenburg observes, that
the sceptre in his arms has been confounded with the column. To
maintain the Roman origin of the Colonna, it was ingeniously
supposed (Diario di Monaldeschi, in the Script. Ital. tom. xii.
p. 533) that a cousin of the emperor Nero escaped from the city,
and founded Mentz in Germany]
[Footnote 100: I cannot overlook the Roman triumph of ovation on
Marce Antonio Colonna, who had commanded the pope's galleys at
the naval victory of Lepanto, (Thuan. Hist. l. 7, tom. iii. p.
55, 56. Muret. Oratio x. Opp. tom. i. p. 180 - 190.)]

[Footnote 101: Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. x. p. 216, 220.]
[Footnote 102: Petrarch's attachment to the Colonna has
authorized the abbe de Sade to expatiate on the state of the
family in the fourteenth century, the persecution of Boniface
VIII., the character of Stephen and his sons, their quarrels with
the Ursini, &c., (Memoires sur Petrarque, tom. i. p. 98 - 110,
146 - 148, 174 - 176, 222 - 230, 275 - 280.) His criticism often
rectifies the hearsay stories of Villani, and the errors of the
less diligent moderns. I understand the branch of Stephen to be
now extinct.]

[Footnote 103: Alexander III. had declared the Colonna who
adhered to the emperor Frederic I. incapable of holding any
ecclesiastical benefice, (Villani, l. v. c. 1;) and the last
stains of annual excommunication were purified by Sixtus V.,
(Vita di Sisto V. tom. iii. p. 416.) Treason, sacrilege, and
proscription are often the best titles of ancient nobility.]
[Footnote 104: - Vallis te proxima misit,
Appenninigenae qua prata virentia sylvae
Spoletana metunt armenta gregesque protervi.
Monaldeschi (tom. xii. Script. Ital. p. 533) gives the Ursini a
French origin, which may be remotely true.]

[Footnote 105: In the metrical life of Celestine V. by the
cardinal of St. George (Muratori, tom. iii. P. i. p. 613, &c.,)
we find a luminous, and not inelegant, passage, (l. i. c. 3, p.
203 &c.:) -

- genuit quem nobilis Ursae (Ursi?)
Progenies, Romana domus, veterataque magnis
Fascibus in clero, pompasque experta senatus,
Bellorumque manu grandi stipata parentum
Cardineos apices necnon fastigia dudum
Papatus iterata tenens.

Muratori (Dissert. xlii. tom. iii.) observes, that the first
Ursini pontificate of Celestine III. was unknown: he is inclined
to read Ursi progenies.]

[Footnote 106: Filii Ursi, quondam Coelestini papae nepotes, de
bonis ecclesiae Romanae ditati, (Vit. Innocent. III. in Muratori,
Script. tom. iii. P. i.) The partial prodigality of Nicholas III.
is more conspicuous in Villani and Muratori. Yet the Ursini
would disdain the nephews of a modern pope.]

[Footnote 107: In his fifty-first Dissertation on the Italian
Antiquities, Muratori explains the factions of the Guelphs and

[Footnote 108: Petrarch (tom. i. p. 222 - 230) has celebrated
this victory according to the Colonna; but two contemporaries, a
Florentine (Giovanni Villani, l. x. c. 220) and a Roman,
(Ludovico Monaldeschi, p. 532 - 534,) are less favorable to their

[Footnote 109: The abbe de Sade (tom. i. Notes, p. 61 - 66) has
applied the vith Canzone of Petrarch, Spirto Gentil, &c., to
Stephen Colonna the younger:
Orsi, lupi, leoni, aquile e serpi
Al una gran marmorea colonna
Fanno noja sovente e a se danno]

Chapter LXX: Final Settlement Of The Ecclesiastical State.

Part I.

Character And Coronation Of Petrarch. - Restoration Of The
Freedom And Government Of Rome By The Tribune Rienzi. - His
Virtues And Vices, His Expulsion And Death. - Return Of The Popes
From Avignon. - Great Schism Of The West. - Reunion Of The Latin
Church. - Last Struggles Of Roman Liberty. - Statutes Of Rome. -
Final Settlement Of The Ecclesiastical State.

In the apprehension of modern times, Petrarch ^1 is the
Italian songster of Laura and love. In the harmony of his Tuscan
rhymes, Italy applauds, or rather adores, the father of her lyric
poetry; and his verse, or at least his name, is repeated by the
enthusiasm, or affectation, of amorous sensibility. Whatever may
be the private taste of a stranger, his slight and superficial
knowledge should humbly acquiesce in the judgment of a learned
nation; yet I may hope or presume, that the Italians do not
compare the tedious uniformity of sonnets and elegies with the
sublime compositions of their epic muse, the original wildness of
Dante, the regular beauties of Tasso, and the boundless variety
of the incomparable Ariosto. The merits of the lover I am still
less qualified to appreciate: nor am I deeply interested in a
metaphysical passion for a nymph so shadowy, that her existence
has been questioned; ^2 for a matron so prolific, ^3 that she was
delivered of eleven legitimate children, ^4 while her amorous
swain sighed and sung at the fountain of Vaucluse. ^5 But in the
eyes of Petrarch, and those of his graver contemporaries, his
love was a sin, and Italian verse a frivolous amusement. His
Latin works of philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, established his
serious reputation, which was soon diffused from Avignon over
France and Italy: his friends and disciples were multiplied in
every city; and if the ponderous volume of his writings ^6 be now
abandoned to a long repose, our gratitude must applaud the man,
who by precept and example revived the spirit and study of the
Augustan age. From his earliest youth, Petrarch aspired to the
poetic crown. The academical honors of the three faculties had
introduced a royal degree of master or doctor in the art of
poetry; ^7 and the title of poet- laureate, which custom, rather
than vanity, perpetuates in the English court, ^8 was first
invented by the Caesars of Germany. In the musical games of
antiquity, a prize was bestowed on the victor: ^9 the belief that
Virgil and Horace had been crowned in the Capitol inflamed the
emulation of a Latin bard; ^10 and the laurel ^11 was endeared to
the lover by a verbal resemblance with the name of his mistress.
The value of either object was enhanced by the difficulties of
the pursuit; and if the virtue or prudence of Laura was
inexorable, ^12 he enjoyed, and might boast of enjoying, the
nymph of poetry. His vanity was not of the most delicate kind,
since he applauds the success of his own labors; his name was
popular; his friends were active; the open or secret opposition
of envy and prejudice was surmounted by the dexterity of patient
merit. In the thirty-sixth year of his age, he was solicited to
accept the object of his wishes; and on the same day, in the
solitude of Vaucluse, he received a similar and solemn invitation
from the senate of Rome and the university of Paris. The
learning of a theological school, and the ignorance of a lawless
city, were alike unqualified to bestow the ideal though immortal
wreath which genius may obtain from the free applause of the
public and of posterity: but the candidate dismissed this
troublesome reflection; and after some moments of complacency and
suspense, preferred the summons of the metropolis of the world.

[Footnote 1: The Memoires sur la Vie de Francois Petrarque,
(Amsterdam, 1764, 1767, 3 vols. in 4to.,) form a copious,
original, and entertaining work, a labor of love, composed from
the accurate study of Petrarch and his contemporaries; but the
hero is too often lost in the general history of the age, and the
author too often languishes in the affectation of politeness and
gallantry. In the preface to his first volume, he enumerates and
weighs twenty Italian biographers, who have professedly treated
of the same subject.]
[Footnote 2: The allegorical interpretation prevailed in the xvth
century; but the wise commentators were not agreed whether they
should understand by Laura, religion, or virtue, or the blessed
virgin, or - see the prefaces to the first and second volume.]

[Footnote 3: Laure de Noves, born about the year 1307, was
married in January 1325, to Hugues de Sade, a noble citizen of
Avignon, whose jealousy was not the effect of love, since he
married a second wife within seven months of her death, which
happened the 6th of April, 1348, precisely one-and-twenty years
after Petrarch had seen and loved her.]

[Footnote 4: Corpus crebris partubus exhaustum: from one of these
is issued, in the tenth degree, the abbe de Sade, the fond and
grateful biographer of Petrarch; and this domestic motive most
probably suggested the idea of his work, and urged him to inquire
into every circumstance that could affect the history and
character of his grandmother, (see particularly tom. i. p. 122 -
133, notes, p. 7 - 58, tom. ii. p. 455 - 495 not. p. 76 - 82.)]
[Footnote 5: Vaucluse, so familiar to our English travellers, is
described from the writings of Petrarch, and the local knowledge
of his biographer, (Memoires, tom. i. p. 340 - 359.) It was, in
truth, the retreat of a hermit; and the moderns are much
mistaken, if they place Laura and a happy lover in the grotto.]

[Footnote 6: Of 1250 pages, in a close print, at Basil in the
xvith century, but without the date of the year. The abbe de
Sade calls aloud for a new edition of Petrarch's Latin works; but
I much doubt whether it would redound to the profit of the
bookseller, or the amusement of the public.]
[Footnote 7: Consult Selden's Titles of Honor, in his works,
(vol. iii. p. 457 - 466.) A hundred years before Petrarch, St.
Francis received the visit of a poet, qui ab imperatore fuerat
coronatus et exinde rex versuum dictus.]
[Footnote 8: From Augustus to Louis, the muse has too often been
false and venal: but I much doubt whether any age or court can
produce a similar establishment of a stipendiary poet, who in
every reign, and at all events, is bound to furnish twice a year
a measure of praise and verse, such as may be sung in the chapel,
and, I believe, in the presence, of the sovereign. I speak the
more freely, as the best time for abolishing this ridiculous
custom is while the prince is a man of virtue and the poet a man
of genius.]
[Footnote 9: Isocrates (in Panegyrico, tom. i. p. 116, 117, edit.
Battie, Cantab. 1729) claims for his native Athens the glory of
first instituting and recommending. The example of the
Panathenaea was imitated at Delphi; but the Olympic games were
ignorant of a musical crown, till it was extorted by the vain
tyranny of Nero, (Sueton. in Nerone, c. 23; Philostrat. apud
Casaubon ad locum; Dion Cassius, or Xiphilin, l. lxiii. p. 1032,
1041. Potter's Greek Antiquities, vol. i. p. 445, 450.)]

[Footnote 10: The Capitoline games (certamen quinquenale,
musicum, equestre, gymnicum) were instituted by Domitian (Sueton.
c. 4) in the year of Christ 86, (Censorin. de Die Natali, c. 18,
p. 100, edit. Havercamp.) and were not abolished in the ivth
century, (Ausonius de Professoribus Burdegal. V.) If the crown
were given to superior merit, the exclusion of Statius (Capitolia
nostrae inficiata lyrae, Sylv. l. iii. v. 31) may do honor to the
games of the Capitol; but the Latin poets who lived before
Domitian were crowned only in the public opinion.]

[Footnote 11: Petrarch and the senators of Rome were ignorant
that the laurel was not the Capitoline, but the Delphic crown,
(Plin. Hist. Natur p. 39. Hist. Critique de la Republique des
Lettres, tom. i. p. 150 - 220.) The victors in the Capitol were
crowned with a garland of oak eaves, (Martial, l. iv. epigram

[Footnote 12: The pious grandson of Laura has labored, and not
without success, to vindicate her immaculate chastity against the
censures of the grave and the sneers of the profane, (tom. ii.
notes, p. 76 - 82.)]
The ceremony of his coronation ^13 was performed in the
Capitol, by his friend and patron the supreme magistrate of the
republic. Twelve patrician youths were arrayed in scarlet; six
representatives of the most illustrious families, in green robes,
with garlands of flowers, accompanied the procession; in the
midst of the princes and nobles, the senator, count of
Anguillara, a kinsman of the Colonna, assumed his throne; and at
the voice of a herald Petrarch arose. After discoursing on a
text of Virgil, and thrice repeating his vows for the prosperity
of Rome, he knelt before the throne, and received from the
senator a laurel crown, with a more precious declaration, "This
is the reward of merit." The people shouted, "Long life to the
Capitol and the poet!" A sonnet in praise of Rome was accepted as
the effusion of genius and gratitude; and after the whole
procession had visited the Vatican, the profane wreath was
suspended before the shrine of St. Peter. In the act or diploma
^14 which was presented to Petrarch, the title and prerogatives
of poet-laureate are revived in the Capitol, after the lapse of
thirteen hundred years; and he receives the perpetual privilege
of wearing, at his choice, a crown of laurel, ivy, or myrtle, of
assuming the poetic habit, and of teaching, disputing,
interpreting, and composing, in all places whatsoever, and on all
subjects of literature. The grant was ratified by the authority
of the senate and people; and the character of citizen was the
recompense of his affection for the Roman name. They did him
honor, but they did him justice. In the familiar society of
Cicero and Livy, he had imbibed the ideas of an ancient patriot;
and his ardent fancy kindled every idea to a sentiment, and every
sentiment to a passion. The aspect of the seven hills and their
majestic ruins confirmed these lively impressions; and he loved a
country by whose liberal spirit he had been crowned and adopted.
The poverty and debasement of Rome excited the indignation and
pity of her grateful son; he dissembled the faults of his
fellow-citizens; applauded with partial fondness the last of
their heroes and matrons; and in the remembrance of the past, in
the hopes of the future, was pleased to forget the miseries of
the present time. Rome was still the lawful mistress of the
world: the pope and the emperor, the bishop and general, had
abdicated their station by an inglorious retreat to the Rhone and
the Danube; but if she could resume her virtue, the republic
might again vindicate her liberty and dominion. Amidst the
indulgence of enthusiasm and eloquence, ^15 Petrarch, Italy, and
Europe, were astonished by a revolution which realized for a
moment his most splendid visions. The rise and fall of the
tribune Rienzi will occupy the following pages: ^16 the subject
is interesting, the materials are rich, and the glance of a
patriot bard ^17 will sometimes vivify the copious, but simple,
narrative of the Florentine, ^18 and more especially of the
Roman, historian. ^19
[Footnote 13: The whole process of Petrarch's coronation is
accurately described by the abbe de Sade, (tom. i. p. 425 - 435,
tom. ii. p. 1 - 6, notes, p. 1 - 13,) from his own writings, and
the Roman diary of Ludovico, Monaldeschi, without mixing in this
authentic narrative the more recent fables of Sannuccio Delbene.]

[Footnote 14: The original act is printed among the Pieces
Justificatives in the Memoires sur Petrarque, tom. iii. p. 50 -

[Footnote 15: To find the proofs of his enthusiasm for Rome, I
need only request that the reader would open, by chance, either
Petrarch, or his French biographer. The latter has described the
poet's first visit to Rome, (tom. i. p. 323 - 335.) But in the
place of much idle rhetoric and morality, Petrarch might have
amused the present and future age with an original account of the
city and his coronation.]

[Footnote 16: It has been treated by the pen of a Jesuit, the P.
de Cerceau whose posthumous work (Conjuration de Nicolas Gabrini,
dit de Rienzi, Tyran de Rome, en 1347) was published at Paris,
1748, in 12mo. I am indebted to him for some facts and documents
in John Hocsemius, canon of Liege, a contemporary historian,
(Fabricius Bibliot. Lat. Med. Aevi, tom. iii. p. 273, tom. iv. p.

[Footnote 17: The abbe de Sade, who so freely expatiates on the
history of the xivth century, might treat, as his proper subject,
a revolution in which the heart of Petrarch was so deeply
engaged, (Memoires, tom. ii. p. 50, 51, 320 - 417, notes, p. 70 -
76, tom. iii. p. 221 - 243, 366 - 375.) Not an idea or a fact in
the writings of Petrarch has probably escaped him.]
[Footnote 18: Giovanni Villani, l. xii. c. 89, 104, in Muratori,
Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, tom. xiii. p. 969, 970, 981 - 983.]
[Footnote 19: In his third volume of Italian antiquities, (p. 249
- 548,) Muratori has inserted the Fragmenta Historiae Romanae ab
Anno 1327 usque ad Annum 1354, in the original dialect of Rome or
Naples in the xivth century, and a Latin version for the benefit
of strangers. It contains the most particular and authentic life
of Cola (Nicholas) di Rienzi; which had been printed at
Bracciano, 1627, in 4to., under the name of Tomaso Fortifiocca,
who is only mentioned in this work as having been punished by the
tribune for forgery. Human nature is scarcely capable of such
sublime or stupid impartiality: but whosoever in the author of
these Fragments, he wrote on the spot and at the time, and
paints, without design or art, the manners of Rome and the
character of the tribune.

Note: Since the publication of my first edition of Gibbon,
some new and very remarkable documents have been brought to light
in a life of Nicolas Rienzi, - Cola di Rienzo und seine Zeit, -
by Dr. Felix Papencordt. The most important of these documents
are letters from Rienzi to Charles the Fourth, emperor and king
of Bohemia, and to the archbishop of Praque; they enter into the
whole history of his adventurous career during its first period,
and throw a strong light upon his extraordinary character. These
documents were first discovered and made use of, to a certain
extent, by Pelzel, the historian of Bohemia. The originals have
disappeared, but a copy made by Pelzel for his own use is now in
the library of Count Thun at Teschen. There seems no doubt of
their authenticity. Dr. Papencordt has printed the whole in his
i:Urkunden, with the exception of one long theological paper. -
M. 1845.]
In a quarter of the city which was inhabited only by
mechanics and Jews, the marriage of an innkeeper and a washer
woman produced the future deliverer of Rome. ^20 ^! From such
parents Nicholas Rienzi Gabrini could inherit neither dignity nor
fortune; and the gift of a liberal education, which they
painfully bestowed, was the cause of his glory and untimely end.
The study of history and eloquence, the writings of Cicero,
Seneca, Livy, Caesar, and Valerius Maximus, elevated above his
equals and contemporaries the genius of the young plebeian: he
perused with indefatigable diligence the manuscripts and marbles
of antiquity; loved to dispense his knowledge in familiar
language; and was often provoked to exclaim, "Where are now these
Romans? their virtue, their justice, their power? why was I not
born in those happy times?" ^21 When the republic addressed to
the throne of Avignon an embassy of the three orders, the spirit
and eloquence of Rienzi recommended him to a place among the
thirteen deputies of the commons. The orator had the honor of
haranguing Pope Clement the Sixth, and the satisfaction of
conversing with Petrarch, a congenial mind: but his aspiring
hopes were chilled by disgrace and poverty and the patriot was
reduced to a single garment and the charity of the hospital. ^*
From this misery he was relieved by the sense of merit or the
smile of favor; and the employment of apostolic notary afforded
him a daily stipend of five gold florins, a more honorable and
extensive connection, and the right of contrasting, both in words
and actions, his own integrity with the vices of the state. The
eloquence of Rienzi was prompt and persuasive: the multitude is
always prone to envy and censure: he was stimulated by the loss
of a brother and the impunity of the assassins; nor was it
possible to excuse or exaggerate the public calamities. The
blessings of peace and justice, for which civil society has been
instituted, were banished from Rome: the jealous citizens, who
might have endured every personal or pecuniary injury, were most
deeply wounded in the dishonor of their wives and daughters: ^22
they were equally oppressed by the arrogance of the nobles and
the corruption of the magistrates; ^!! and the abuse of arms or
of laws was the only circumstance that distinguished the lions
from the dogs and serpents of the Capitol. These allegorical
emblems were variously repeated in the pictures which Rienzi
exhibited in the streets and churches; and while the spectators
gazed with curious wonder, the bold and ready orator unfolded the
meaning, applied the satire, inflamed their passions, and
announced a distant hope of comfort and deliverance. The
privileges of Rome, her eternal sovereignty over her princes and
provinces, was the theme of his public and private discourse; and
a monument of servitude became in his hands a title and incentive
of liberty. The decree of the senate, which granted the most
ample prerogatives to the emperor Vespasian, had been inscribed
on a copper plate still extant in the choir of the church of St.
John Lateran. ^23 A numerous assembly of nobles and plebeians was
invited to this political lecture, and a convenient theatre was
erected for their reception. The notary appeared in a
magnificent and mysterious habit, explained the inscription by a
version and commentary, ^24 and descanted with eloquence and zeal
on the ancient glories of the senate and people, from whom all
legal authority was derived. The supine ignorance of the nobles
was incapable of discerning the serious tendency of such
representations: they might sometimes chastise with words and
blows the plebeian reformer; but he was often suffered in the
Colonna palace to amuse the company with his threats and
predictions; and the modern Brutus ^25 was concealed under the
mask of folly and the character of a buffoon. While they indulged
their contempt, the restoration of the good estate, his favorite
expression, was entertained among the people as a desirable, a
possible, and at length as an approaching, event; and while all
had the disposition to applaud, some had the courage to assist,
their promised deliverer.

[Footnote 20: The first and splendid period of Rienzi, his
tribunitian government, is contained in the xviiith chapter of
the Fragments, (p. 399 - 479,) which, in the new division, forms
the iid book of the history in xxxviii. smaller chapters or

[Footnote !: But see in Dr. Papencordt's work, and in Rienzi's
own words, his claim to be a bastard son of the emperor Henry the
Seventh, whose intrigue with his mother Rienzi relates with a
sort of proud shamelessness. Compare account by the editor of Dr.
Papencordt's work in Quarterly Review vol. lxix. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 21: The reader may be pleased with a specimen of the
original idiom: Fo da soa juventutine nutricato di latte de
eloquentia, bono gramatico, megliore rettuorico, autorista bravo.

Deh como et quanto era veloce leitore! moito usava Tito Livio,
Seneca, et Tullio, et Balerio Massimo, moito li dilettava le
magnificentie di Julio Cesare raccontare. Tutta la die se
speculava negl' intagli di marmo lequali iaccio intorno Roma. Non
era altri che esso, che sapesse lejere li antichi pataffii.
Tutte scritture antiche vulgarizzava; quesse fiure di marmo
justamente interpretava. On come spesso diceva, "Dove suono
quelli buoni Romani? dove ene loro somma justitia? poleramme
trovare in tempo che quessi fiuriano!"]

[Footnote *: Sir J. Hobhouse published (in his Illustrations of
Childe Harold) Rienzi's joyful letter to the people of Rome on
the apparently favorable termination of this mission. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 22: Petrarch compares the jealousy of the Romans with
the easy temper of the husbands of Avignon, (Memoires, tom. i. p.
[Footnote !!: All this Rienzi, writing at a later period to the
archbishop of Prague, attributed to the criminal abandonment of
his flock by the supreme pontiff. See Urkunde apud Papencordt,
p. xliv. Quarterly Review, p. 255. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 23: The fragments of the Lex regia may be found in the
Inscriptions of Gruter, tom. i. p. 242, and at the end of the
Tacitus of Ernesti, with some learned notes of the editor, tom.

[Footnote 24: I cannot overlook a stupendous and laughable
blunder of Rienzi. The Lex regia empowers Vespasian to enlarge
the Pomoerium, a word familiar to every antiquary. It was not so
to the tribune; he confounds it with pomarium, an orchard,
translates lo Jardino de Roma cioene Italia, and is copied by the
less excusable ignorance of the Latin translator (p. 406) and the
French historian, (p. 33.) Even the learning of Muratori has
slumbered over the passage.]

[Footnote 25: Priori (Bruto) tamen similior, juvenis uterque,
longe ingenic quam cujus simulationem induerat, ut sub hoc
obtentu liberator ille P R. aperiretur tempore suo .... Ille
regibus, hic tyrannis contemptus, (Opp (Opp. p. 536.)

Note: Fatcor attamen quod - nunc fatuum. nunc hystrionem,
nunc gravem nunc simplicem, nunc astutum, nunc fervidum, nunc
timidum simulato rem, et dissimulatorem ad hunc caritativum
finem, quem dixi, constitusepius memet ipsum. Writing to an
archbishop, (of Prague,) Rienzi alleges scriptural examples.
Saltator coram archa David et insanus apparuit coram Rege;
blanda, astuta, et tecta Judith astitit Holoferni; et astate
Jacob meruit benedici, Urkunde xlix. - M. 1845.]

A prophecy, or rather a summons, affixed on the church door
of St. George, was the first public evidence of his designs; a
nocturnal assembly of a hundred citizens on Mount Aventine, the
first step to their execution. After an oath of secrecy and aid,
he represented to the conspirators the importance and facility of
their enterprise; that the nobles, without union or resources,
were strong only in the fear nobles, of their imaginary strength;
that all power, as well as right, was in the hands of the people;
that the revenues of the apostolical chamber might relieve the
public distress; and that the pope himself would approve their
victory over the common enemies of government and freedom. After
securing a faithful band to protect his first declaration, he
proclaimed through the city, by sound of trumpet, that on the
evening of the following day, all persons should assemble without
arms before the church of St. Angelo, to provide for the
reestablishment of the good estate. The whole night was employed
in the celebration of thirty masses of the Holy Ghost; and in the
morning, Rienzi, bareheaded, but in complete armor, issued from
the church, encompassed by the hundred conspirators. The pope's
vicar, the simple bishop of Orvieto, who had been persuaded to
sustain a part in this singular ceremony, marched on his right
hand; and three great standards were borne aloft as the emblems
of their design. In the first, the banner of liberty, Rome was
seated on two lions, with a palm in one hand and a globe in the
other; St. Paul, with a drawn sword, was delineated in the banner
of justice; and in the third, St. Peter held the keys of concord
and peace. Rienzi was encouraged by the presence and applause of
an innumerable crowd, who understood little, and hoped much; and
the procession slowly rolled forwards from the castle of St.
Angelo to the Capitol. His triumph was disturbed by some secret
emotions which he labored to suppress: he ascended without
opposition, and with seeming confidence, the citadel of the
republic; harangued the people from the balcony; and received the
most flattering confirmation of his acts and laws. The nobles,
as if destitute of arms and counsels, beheld in silent
consternation this strange revolution; and the moment had been
prudently chosen, when the most formidable, Stephen Colonna, was
absent from the city. On the first rumor, he returned to his
palace, affected to despise this plebeian tumult, and declared to
the messenger of Rienzi, that at his leisure he would cast the
madman from the windows of the Capitol. The great bell instantly
rang an alarm, and so rapid was the tide, so urgent was the
danger, that Colonna escaped with precipitation to the suburb of
St. Laurence: from thence, after a moment's refreshment, he
continued the same speedy career till he reached in safety his
castle of Palestrina; lamenting his own imprudence, which had not
trampled the spark of this mighty conflagration. A general and
peremptory order was issued from the Capitol to all the nobles,
that they should peaceably retire to their estates: they obeyed;
and their departure secured the tranquillity of the free and
obedient citizens of Rome.

But such voluntary obedience evaporates with the first
transports of zeal; and Rienzi felt the importance of justifying
his usurpation by a regular form and a legal title. At his own
choice, the Roman people would have displayed their attachment
and authority, by lavishing on his head the names of senator or
consul, of king or emperor: he preferred the ancient and modest
appellation of tribune; ^* the protection of the commons was the
essence of that sacred office; and they were ignorant, that it
had never been invested with any share in the legislative or
executive powers of the republic. In this character, and with
the consent of the Roman, the tribune enacted the most salutary
laws for the restoration and maintenance of the good estate. By
the first he fulfils the wish of honesty and inexperience, that
no civil suit should be protracted beyond the term of fifteen
days. The danger of frequent perjury might justify the
pronouncing against a false accuser the same penalty which his
evidence would have inflicted: the disorders of the times might
compel the legislator to punish every homicide with death, and
every injury with equal retaliation. But the execution of
justice was hopeless till he had previously abolished the tyranny
of the nobles. It was formally provided, that none, except the
supreme magistrate, should possess or command the gates, bridges,
or towers of the state; that no private garrisons should be
introduced into the towns or castles of the Roman territory; that
none should bear arms, or presume to fortify their houses in the
city or country; that the barons should be responsible for the
safety of the highways, and the free passage of provisions; and
that the protection of malefactors and robbers should be expiated
by a fine of a thousand marks of silver. But these regulations
would have been impotent and nugatory, had not the licentious
nobles been awed by the sword of the civil power. A sudden alarm
from the bell of the Capitol could still summon to the standard
above twenty thousand volunteers: the support of the tribune and
the laws required a more regular and permanent force. In each
harbor of the coast a vessel was stationed for the assurance of
commerce; a standing militia of three hundred and sixty horse and
thirteen hundred foot was levied, clothed, and paid in the
thirteen quarters of the city: and the spirit of a commonwealth
may be traced in the grateful allowance of one hundred florins,
or pounds, to the heirs of every soldier who lost his life in the
service of his country. For the maintenance of the public
defence, for the establishment of granaries, for the relief of
widows, orphans, and indigent convents, Rienzi applied, without
fear of sacrilege, the revenues of the apostolic chamber: the
three branches of hearth-money, the salt-duty, and the customs,
were each of the annual produce of one hundred thousand florins;
^26 and scandalous were the abuses, if in four or five months the
amount of the salt-duty could be trebled by his judicious
economy. After thus restoring the forces and finances of the
republic, the tribune recalled the nobles from their solitary
independence; required their personal appearance in the Capitol;
and imposed an oath of allegiance to the new government, and of
submission to the laws of the good estate. Apprehensive for
their safety, but still more apprehensive of the danger of a
refusal, the princes and barons returned to their houses at Rome
in the garb of simple and peaceful citizens: the Colonna and
Ursini, the Savelli and Frangipani, were confounded before the
tribunal of a plebeian, of the vile buffoon whom they had so
often derided, and their disgrace was aggravated by the
indignation which they vainly struggled to disguise. The same
oath was successively pronounced by the several orders of
society, the clergy and gentlemen, the judges and notaries, the
merchants and artisans, and the gradual descent was marked by the
increase of sincerity and zeal. They swore to live and die with
the republic and the church, whose interest was artfully united
by the nominal association of the bishop of Orvieto, the pope's
vicar, to the office of tribune. It was the boast of Rienzi,
that he had delivered the throne and patrimony of St. Peter from
a rebellious aristocracy; and Clement the Sixth, who rejoiced in
its fall, affected to believe the professions, to applaud the
merits, and to confirm the title, of his trusty servant. The
speech, perhaps the mind, of the tribune, was inspired with a
lively regard for the purity of the faith: he insinuated his
claim to a supernatural mission from the Holy Ghost; enforced by
a heavy forfeiture the annual duty of confession and communion;
and strictly guarded the spiritual as well as temporal welfare of
his faithful people. ^27
[Footnote *: Et ego, Deo semper auctore, ipsa die pristina (leg.
prima) Tribunatus, quae quidem dignitas a tempore deflorati
Imperii, et per annos Vo et ultra sub tyrannica occupatione
vacavit, ipsos omnes potentes indifferenter Deum at justitiam
odientes, a mea, ymo a Dei facie fugiendo vehementi Spiritu
dissipavi, et nullo effuso cruore trementes expuli, sine ictu
remanents Romane terre facie renovata. Libellus Tribuni ad
Caesarem, p. xxxiv - M. 1845.]
[Footnote 26: In one MS. I read (l. ii. c. 4, p. 409) perfumante
quatro solli, in another, quatro florini, an important variety,
since the florin was worth ten Roman solidi, (Muratori, dissert.
xxviii.) The former reading would give us a population of 25,000,
the latter of 250,000 families; and I much fear, that the former
is more consistent with the decay of Rome and her territory.]
[Footnote 27: Hocsemius, p. 498, apud du Cerceau, Hist. de
Rienzi, p. 194. The fifteen tribunitian laws may be found in the
Roman historian (whom for brevity I shall name) Fortifiocca, l.
ii. c. 4]

Chapter LXX: Final Settlement Of The Ecclesiastical State.

Part II.

Never perhaps has the energy and effect of a single mind
been more remarkably felt than in the sudden, though transient,
reformation of Rome by the tribune Rienzi. A den of robbers was
converted to the discipline of a camp or convent: patient to
hear, swift to redress, inexorable to punish, his tribunal was
always accessible to the poor and stranger; nor could birth, or
dignity, or the immunities of the church, protect the offender or
his accomplices. The privileged houses, the private sanctuaries
in Rome, on which no officer of justice would presume to
trespass, were abolished; and he applied the timber and iron of
their barricades in the fortifications of the Capitol. The
venerable father of the Colonna was exposed in his own palace to
the double shame of being desirous, and of being unable, to
protect a criminal. A mule, with a jar of oil, had been stolen
near Capranica; and the lord of the Ursini family was condemned
to restore the damage, and to discharge a fine of four hundred
florins for his negligence in guarding the highways. Nor were
the persons of the barons more inviolate than their lands or
houses; and, either from accident or design, the same impartial
rigor was exercised against the heads of the adverse factions.
Peter Agapet Colonna, who had himself been senator of Rome, was
arrested in the street for injury or debt; and justice was
appeased by the tardy execution of Martin Ursini, who, among his
various acts of violence and rapine, had pillaged a shipwrecked
vessel at the mouth of the Tyber. ^28 His name, the purple of two
cardinals, his uncles, a recent marriage, and a mortal disease
were disregarded by the inflexible tribune, who had chosen his
victim. The public officers dragged him from his palace and
nuptial bed: his trial was short and satisfactory: the bell of
the Capitol convened the people: stripped of his mantle, on his
knees, with his hands bound behind his back, he heard the
sentence of death; and after a brief confession, Ursini was led
away to the gallows. After such an example, none who were
conscious of guilt could hope for impunity, and the flight of the
wicked, the licentious, and the idle, soon purified the city and
territory of Rome. In this time (says the historian,) the woods
began to rejoice that they were no longer infested with robbers;
the oxen began to plough; the pilgrims visited the sanctuaries;
the roads and inns were replenished with travellers; trade,
plenty, and good faith, were restored in the markets; and a purse
of gold might be exposed without danger in the midst of the
highway. As soon as the life and property of the subject are
secure, the labors and rewards of industry spontaneously revive:
Rome was still the metropolis of the Christian world; and the
fame and fortunes of the tribune were diffused in every country
by the strangers who had enjoyed the blessings of his government.

[Footnote 28: Fortifiocca, l. ii. c. 11. From the account of
this shipwreck, we learn some circumstances of the trade and
navigation of the age. 1. The ship was built and freighted at
Naples for the ports of Marseilles and Avignon. 2. The sailors
were of Naples and the Isle of Oenaria less skilful than those of
Sicily and Genoa. 3. The navigation from Marseilles was a
coasting voyage to the mouth of the Tyber, where they took
shelter in a storm; but, instead of finding the current,
unfortunately ran on a shoal: the vessel was stranded, the
mariners escaped. 4. The cargo, which was pillaged, consisted of
the revenue of Provence for the royal treasury, many bags of
pepper and cinnamon, and bales of French cloth, to the value of
20,000 florins; a rich prize.]

The deliverance of his country inspired Rienzi with a vast,
and perhaps visionary, idea of uniting Italy in a great
federative republic, of which Rome should be the ancient and
lawful head, and the free cities and princes the members and
associates. His pen was not less eloquent than his tongue; and
his numerous epistles were delivered to swift and trusty
messengers. On foot, with a white wand in their hand, they
traversed the forests and mountains; enjoyed, in the most hostile
states, the sacred security of ambassadors; and reported, in the
style of flattery or truth, that the highways along their passage
were lined with kneeling multitudes, who implored Heaven for the
success of their undertaking. Could passion have listened to
reason; could private interest have yielded to the public
welfare; the supreme tribunal and confederate union of the
Italian republic might have healed their intestine discord, and
closed the Alps against the Barbarians of the North. But the
propitious season had elapsed; and if Venice, Florence, Sienna,
Perugia, and many inferior cities offered their lives and
fortunes to the good estate, the tyrants of Lombardy and Tuscany
must despise, or hate, the plebeian author of a free
constitution. From them, however, and from every part of Italy,
the tribune received the most friendly and respectful answers:
they were followed by the ambassadors of the princes and
republics; and in this foreign conflux, on all the occasions of
pleasure or business, the low born notary could assume the
familiar or majestic courtesy of a sovereign. ^29 The most
glorious circumstance of his reign was an appeal to his justice
from Lewis, king of Hungary, who complained, that his brother and
her husband had been perfidiously strangled by Jane, queen of
Naples: ^30 her guilt or innocence was pleaded in a solemn trial
at Rome; but after hearing the advocates, ^31 the tribune
adjourned this weighty and invidious cause, which was soon
determined by the sword of the Hungarian. Beyond the Alps, more
especially at Avignon, the revolution was the theme of curiosity,
wonder, and applause. ^* Petrarch had been the private friend,
perhaps the secret counsellor, of Rienzi: his writings breathe
the most ardent spirit of patriotism and joy; and all respect for
the pope, all gratitude for the Colonna, was lost in the superior
duties of a Roman citizen. The poet-laureate of the Capitol
maintains the act, applauds the hero, and mingles with some
apprehension and advice, the most lofty hopes of the permanent
and rising greatness of the republic. ^32

[Footnote 29: It was thus that Oliver Cromwell's old
acquaintance, who remembered his vulgar and ungracious entrance
into the House of Commons, were astonished at the ease and
majesty of the protector on his throne, (See Harris's Life of
Cromwell, p. 27 - 34, from Clarendon Warwick, Whitelocke, Waller,
&c.) The consciousness of merit and power will sometimes elevate
the manners to the station.]

[Footnote 30: See the causes, circumstances, and effects of the
death of Andrew in Giannone, (tom. iii. l. xxiii. p. 220 - 229,)
and the Life of Petrarch (Memoires, tom. ii. p. 143 - 148, 245 -
250, 375 - 379, notes, p. 21 - 37.) The abbe de Sade wishes to
extenuate her guilt.]

[Footnote 31: The advocate who pleaded against Jane could add
nothing to the logical force and brevity of his master's epistle.

Johanna! inordinata vita praecedens, retentio potestatis in
regno, neglecta vindicta, vir alter susceptus, et excusatio
subsequens, necis viri tui te probant fuisse participem et
consortem. Jane of Naples, and Mary of Scotland, have a singular

[Footnote *: In his letter to the archbishop of Prague, Rienzi
thus describes the effect of his elevation on Italy and on the
world: "Did I not restore real peace among the cities which were
distracted by factions? did I not cause all the citizens, exiled
by party violence, with their wretched wives and children, to be
readmitted? had I not begun to extinguish the factious names
(scismatica nomina) of Guelf and Ghibelline, for which countless
thousands had perished body and soul, under the eyes of their
pastors, by the reduction of the city of Rome and all Italy into
one amicable, peaceful, holy, and united confederacy? the
consecrated standards and banners having been by me collected and
blended together, and, in witness to our holy association and
perfect union, offered up in the presence of the ambassadors of
all the cities of Italy, on the day of the assumption of our
Blessed Lady." p. xlvii.
In the Libellus ad Caesarem: "I received the homage and
submission of all the sovereigns of Apulia, the barons and
counts, and almost all the people of Italy. I was honored by
solemn embassies and letters by the emperor of Constantinople and
the king of England. The queen of Naples submitted herself and
her kingdom to the protection of the tribune. The king of
Hungary, by two solemn embassies, brought his cause against his
queen and his nobles before my tribunal; and I venture to say
further, that the fame of the tribune alarmed the soldan of
Babylon. When the Christian pilgrims to the sepulchre of our
Lord related to the Christian and Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem
all the yet unheard-of and wonderful circumstances of the
reformation in Rome, both Jews and Christians celebrated the
event with unusual festivities. When the soldan inquired the
cause of these rejoicings, and received this intelligence about
Rome, he ordered all the havens and cities on the coast to be
fortified, and put in a state of defence," p. xxxv. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 32: See the Epistola Hortatoria de Capessenda
Republica, from Petrarch to Nicholas Rienzi, (Opp. p. 535 - 540,)
and the vth eclogue or pastoral, a perpetual and obscure

While Petrarch indulged these prophetic visions, the Roman
hero was fast declining from the meridian of fame and power; and
the people, who had gazed with astonishment on the ascending
meteor, began to mark the irregularity of its course, and the
vicissitudes of light and obscurity. More eloquent than
judicious, more enterprising than resolute, the faculties of
Rienzi were not balanced by cool and commanding reason: he
magnified in a tenfold proportion the objects of hope and fear;
and prudence, which could not have erected, did not presume to
fortify, his throne. In the blaze of prosperity, his virtues
were insensibly tinctured with the adjacent vices; justice with
cruelly, cruelty, liberality with profusion, and the desire of
fame with puerile and ostentatious vanity. ^* He might have
learned, that the ancient tribunes, so strong and sacred in the
public opinion, were not distinguished in style, habit, or
appearance, from an ordinary plebeian; ^33 and that as often as
they visited the city on foot, a single viator, or meadle,
attended the exercise of their office. The Gracchi would have
frowned or smiled, could they have read the sonorous titles and
epithets of their successor, "Nicholas, severe and merciful;
deliverer of Rome; defender of Italy; ^34 friend of mankind, and
of liberty, peace, and justice; tribune august:" his theatrical
pageants had prepared the revolution; but Rienzi abused, in
luxury and pride, the political maxim of speaking to the eyes, as
well as the understanding, of the multitude. From nature he had
received the gift of a handsome person, ^35 till it was swelled
and disfigured by intemperance: and his propensity to laughter
was corrected in the magistrate by the affectation of gravity and
sternness. He was clothed, at least on public occasions, in a
party-colored robe of velvet or satin, lined with fur, and
embroidered with gold: the rod of justice, which he carried in
his hand, was a sceptre of polished steel, crowned with a globe
and cross of gold, and enclosing a small fragment of the true and
holy wood. In his civil and religious processions through the
city, he rode on a white steed, the symbol of royalty: the great
banner of the republic, a sun with a circle of stars, a dove with
an olive branch, was displayed over his head; a shower of gold
and silver was scattered among the populace, fifty guards with
halberds encompassed his person; a troop of horse preceded his
march; and their tymbals and trumpets were of massy silver.

[Footnote *: An illustrious female writer has drawn, with a
single stroke, the character of Rienzi, Crescentius, and Arnold
of Brescia, the fond restorers of Roman liberty: 'Qui ont pris
les souvenirs pour les esperances.' Corinne, tom. i. p. 159.
Could Tacitus have excelled this?" Hallam, vol i p. 418. - M.]
[Footnote 33: In his Roman Questions, Plutarch (Opuscul. tom. i.
p. 505, 506, edit. Graec. Hen. Steph.) states, on the most
constitutional principles, the simple greatness of the tribunes,
who were not properly magistrates, but a check on magistracy. It
was their duty and interest. Rienzi, and Petrarch himself, were
incapable perhaps of reading a Greek philosopher; but they might
have imbibed the same modest doctrines from their favorite
Latins, Livy and Valerius Maximus.]

[Footnote 34: I could not express in English the forcible, though
barbarous, title of Zelator Italiae, which Rienzi assumed.]

[Footnote 35: Era bell' homo, (l. ii. c. l. p. 399.) It is
remarkable, that the riso sarcastico of the Bracciano edition is
wanting in the Roman MS., from which Muratori has given the text.

In his second reign, when he is painted almost as a monster,
Rienzi travea una ventresca tonna trionfale, a modo de uno Abbate
Asiano, or Asinino, (l. iii. c. 18, p. 523.)]

The ambition of the honors of chivalry ^36 betrayed the
meanness of his birth, and degraded the importance of his office;
and the equestrian tribune was not less odious to the nobles,
whom he adopted, than to the plebeians, whom he deserted. All
that yet remained of treasure, or luxury, or art, was exhausted
on that solemn day. Rienzi led the procession from the Capitol
to the Lateran; the tediousness of the way was relieved with
decorations and games; the ecclesiastical, civil, and military
orders marched under their various banners; the Roman ladies
attended his wife; and the ambassadors of Italy might loudly
applaud or secretly deride the novelty of the pomp. In the
evening, which they had reached the church and palace of
Constantine, he thanked and dismissed the numerous assembly, with
an invitation to the festival of the ensuing day. From the hands
of a venerable knight he received the order of the Holy Ghost;
the purification of the bath was a previous ceremony; but in no
step of his life did Rienzi excite such scandal and censure as by
the profane use of the porphyry vase, in which Constantine (a
foolish legend) had been healed of his leprosy by Pope Sylvester.
^37 With equal presumption the tribune watched or reposed within
the consecrated precincts of the baptistery; and the failure of
his state-bed was interpreted as an omen of his approaching
downfall. At the hour of worship, he showed himself to the
returning crowds in a majestic attitude, with a robe of purple,
his sword, and gilt spurs; but the holy rites were soon
interrupted by his levity and insolence. Rising from his throne,
and advancing towards the congregation, he proclaimed in a loud
voice: "We summon to our tribunal Pope Clement: and command him
to reside in his diocese of Rome: we also summon the sacred
college of cardinals. ^38 We again summon the two pretenders,
Charles of Bohemia and Lewis of Bavaria, who style themselves
emperors: we likewise summon all the electors of Germany, to
inform us on what pretence they have usurped the inalienable
right of the Roman people, the ancient and lawful sovereigns of
the empire." ^39 Unsheathing his maiden sword, he thrice
brandished it to the three parts of the world, and thrice
repeated the extravagant declaration, "And this too is mine!" The
pope's vicar, the bishop of Orvieto, attempted to check this
career of folly; but his feeble protest was silenced by martial
music; and instead of withdrawing from the assembly, he consented
to dine with his brother tribune, at a table which had hitherto
been reserved for the supreme pontiff. A banquet, such as the
Caesars had given, was prepared for the Romans. The apartments,
porticos, and courts of the Lateran were spread with innumerable
tables for either sex, and every condition; a stream of wine
flowed from the nostrils of Constantine's brazen horse; no
complaint, except of the scarcity of water, could be heard; and
the licentiousness of the multitude was curbed by discipline and
fear. A subsequent day was appointed for the coronation of
Rienzi; ^40 seven crowns of different leaves or metals were
successively placed on his head by the most eminent of the Roman
clergy; they represented the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; and
he still professed to imitate the example of the ancient
tribunes. ^* These extraordinary spectacles might deceive or
flatter the people; and their own vanity was gratified in the
vanity of their leader. But in his private life he soon deviated
from the strict rule of frugality and abstinence; and the
plebeians, who were awed by the splendor of the nobles, were
provoked by the luxury of their equal. His wife, his son, his
uncle, (a barber in name and profession,) exposed the contrast of
vulgar manners and princely expense; and without acquiring the
majesty, Rienzi degenerated into the vices, of a king.

[Footnote 36: Strange as it may seem, this festival was not
without a precedent. In the year 1327, two barons, a Colonna and
an Ursini, the usual balance, were created knights by the Roman
people: their bath was of rose- water, their beds were decked
with royal magnificence, and they were served at St. Maria of
Araceli in the Capitol, by the twenty-eight buoni huomini. They
afterwards received from Robert, king of Naples, the sword of
chivalry, (Hist. Rom. l. i. c. 2, p. 259.)]

[Footnote 37: All parties believed in the leprosy and bath of
Constantine (Petrarch. Epist. Famil. vi. 2,) and Rienzi justified
his own conduct by observing to the court of Avignon, that a vase
which had been used by a Pagan could not be profaned by a pious
Christian. Yet this crime is specified in the bull of
excommunication, (Hocsemius, apud du Cerceau, p. 189, 190.)]
[Footnote 38: This verbal summons of Pope Clement VI., which
rests on the authority of the Roman historian and a Vatican Ms.,
is disputed by the biographer of Petrarch, (tom. ii. not. p. 70 -
76, with arguments rather of decency than of weight. The court
of Avignon might not choose to agitate this delicate question.]

[Footnote 39: The summons of the two rival emperors, a monument
of freedom and folly, is extant in Hocsemius, (Cerceau, p. 163 -

[Footnote 40: It is singular, that the Roman historian should
have overlooked this sevenfold coronation, which is sufficiently
proved by internal evidence, and the testimony of Hocsemius, and
even of Rienzi, (Cercean p. 167 - 170, 229.)]

[Footnote *: It was on this occasion that he made the profane
comparison between himself and our Lord; and the striking
circumstance took place which he relates in his letter to the
archbishop of Prague. In the midst of all the wild and joyous
exultation of the people, one of his most zealous supporters, a
monk, who was in high repute for his sanctity, stood apart in a
corner of the church and wept bitterly! A domestic chaplain of
Rienzi's inquired the cause of his grief. "Now," replied the man
of God, "is thy master cast down from heaven - never saw I man so
proud. By the aid of the Holy Ghost he has driven the tyrants
from the city without drawing a sword; the cities and the
sovereigns of Italy have submitted to his power. Why is he so
arrogant and ungrateful towards the Most High? Why does he seek
earthly and transitory rewards for his labors, and in his wanton
speech liken himself to the Creator? Tell thy master that he can
only atone for this offence by tears of penitence." In the
evening the chaplain communicated this solemn rebuke to the
tribune: it appalled him for the time, but was soon forgotten in
the tumult and hurry of business. - M. 1845.]

A simple citizen describes with pity, or perhaps with
pleasure, the humiliation of the barons of Rome. "Bareheaded,
their hands crossed on their breast, they stood with downcast
looks in the presence of the tribune; and they trembled, good
God, how they trembled!" ^41 As long as the yoke of Rienzi was
that of justice and their country, their conscience forced them
to esteem the man, whom pride and interest provoked them to hate:
his extravagant conduct soon fortified their hatred by contempt;
and they conceived the hope of subverting a power which was no
longer so deeply rooted in the public confidence. The old
animosity of the Colonna and Ursini was suspended for a moment by
their common disgrace: they associated their wishes, and perhaps
their designs; an assassin was seized and tortured; he accused
the nobles; and as soon as Rienzi deserved the fate, he adopted
the suspicions and maxims, of a tyrant. On the same day, under
various pretences, he invited to the Capitol his principal
enemies, among whom were five members of the Ursini and three of
the Colonna name. But instead of a council or a banquet, they
found themselves prisoners under the sword of despotism or
justice; and the consciousness of innocence or guilt might
inspire them with equal apprehensions of danger. At the sound of
the great bell the people assembled; they were arraigned for a
conspiracy against the tribune's life; and though some might
sympathize in their distress, not a hand, nor a voice, was raised
to rescue the first of the nobility from their impending doom.
Their apparent boldness was prompted by despair; they passed in
separate chambers a sleepless and painful night; and the
venerable hero, Stephen Colonna, striking against the door of his
prison, repeatedly urged his guards to deliver him by a speedy
death from such ignominious servitude. In the morning they
understood their sentence from the visit of a confessor and the
tolling of the bell. The great hall of the Capitol had been
decorated for the bloody scene with red and white hangings: the
countenance of the tribune was dark and severe; the swords of the
executioners were unsheathed; and the barons were interrupted in
their dying speeches by the sound of trumpets. But in this
decisive moment, Rienzi was not less anxious or apprehensive than
his captives: he dreaded the splendor of their names, their
surviving kinsmen, the inconstancy of the people the reproaches
of the world, and, after rashly offering a mortal injury, he
vainly presumed that, if he could forgive, he might himself be
forgiven. His elaborate oration was that of a Christian and a
suppliant; and, as the humble minister of the commons, he
entreated his masters to pardon these noble criminals, for whose
repentance and future service he pledged his faith and authority.

"If you are spared," said the tribune, "by the mercy of the
Romans, will you not promise to support the good estate with your
lives and fortunes?" Astonished by this marvellous clemency, the
barons bowed their heads; and while they devoutly repeated the
oath of allegiance, might whisper a secret, and more sincere,
assurance of revenge. A priest, in the name of the people,
pronounced their absolution: they received the communion with the
tribune, assisted at the banquet, followed the procession; and,
after every spiritual and temporal sign of reconciliation, were
dismissed in safety to their respective homes, with the new
honors and titles of generals, consuls, and patricians. ^42

[Footnote 41: Puoi se faceva stare denante a se, mentre sedeva,
li baroni tutti in piedi ritti co le vraccia piecate, e co li
capucci tratti. Deh como stavano paurosi! (Hist. Rom. l. ii. c.
20, p. 439.) He saw them, and we see them.]

[Footnote 42: The original letter, in which Rienzi justifies his
treatment of the Colonna, (Hocsemius, apud du Cerceau, p. 222 -
229,) displays, in genuine colors, the mixture of the knave and

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