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During the Conclave of 1378, which resulted in the election of Urban VI, the mob outside the Vatican had shouted—"A Roman, a Roman, or at least an Italian”. In the Merchants’ Hall at Constance, in November 1417, the electors chose, not only an Italian, but a Roman of the Romans, for the new Pope Martin V, Oddone Colonna, sprang from one of the two Roman families, Orsini and Colonna, foremost in the city for some centuries past. This election of a Roman was of abiding consequence to the Papacy and to Rome. Colonna’s chief rival had been Pierre d’Ailly. It is hardly probable that this Frenchman would have made Rome his permanent seat. The long abandonment had, indeed, immediately resulted from the Babylonian exile, yet, for more than a century before, the Popes had rarely made Rome their home. Even now it was not universally believed that Martin would make it the seat of the Papacy. He never, however, hesitated, doubtful as the prospects of return appeared. From Geneva he passed through Milan to Mantua, whence, after four months, the Papal Court found its home in Florence from February 1418 to September 1420.

Rome during the Schism had become a No Man’s Land. Ladislas of Naples had occupied it, and, had he lived, might have annexed the Patrimony to his kingdom. The Perugian condottiere, Braccio da Mon­tone, had then seized the city, to be in turn ejected by Sforza in the service of Joanna II of Naples. The queen made her peace with Martin, for he recognised her title, and she withdrew her troops. For all this he could not return, since Braccio, now lord of Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto, and Todi, blocked one of the main roads from Florence, while his troopers could raid the route which led through Siena. Through Florentine mediation Martin compromised with Braccio, who received the greater part of his conquests as a Vicariate, repressing in return the republican independence of Bologna. The road to Rome now being clear, Martin made his entrance on 30 September 1420.

Since his election Martin had done little for the ecclesiastical reforms so urgently demanded at Constance. His difficulty was real, for the de­mands entailed shrinkage of the papal resources, while, at the present crisis, increment rather than decrease was required. He was forced to base his hopes on the restoration of the temporal power, on the creation of an Italian State which could hold its own against its neighbours. This, though a prominent characteristic of the fifteenth century, was nothing new. It was a return to the practice of Popes before the exile, notably of Nicholas III, an Orsini, and of Boniface VIII. Nor had the Avignon Popes abandoned their temporal claims; Clement V had even annexed Ferrara to his direct dominions, a success not repeated till the last years of the sixteenth century.

On a cursory survey Martin’s outlook was far from hopeful. The Papacy laboured under signal drawbacks, if compared with the secular Italian States. It may be conceived as being surrounded by rings of concentric circles, each, from time to time, pressing inwards to contract its power; while the rulers of Naples and Milan had around them a subservient Council, mere agents of their wishes, the Pope was encircled by jealous cardinals, few of them of his own appointment, striving to extend their independence. If the Papacy became a State, might it not be an oligarchy rather than a monarchy? This fate it had narrowly escaped. Had the proposal for limitingthe Pope’s power of creation been passed at Constance, he would have lost his chief weapon of defence. Behind the cardinals lay the city of Rome. Here tradition took two forms, both hostile to the Papacy, the one republican, the other imperial, both in a measure pagan, resenting the government of priests. The welcome given to Henry VII and Lewis IV had proved the pride of Rome as imperial city, electing its Emperor in defiance of the Pope. Cola di Rienzo was but one of the republicans who had revived the ambitions of pre-impcrial Rome. Even if the loyalty of the city could be assured, she was totally unfit to be the capital of a modern State; her civilisation was years behind that of Naples, Milan, Florence, or Venice. Her ancient buildings had served as quarries, and yet her churches were in ruins. The population, apart from the greater nobles, was poor and squalid. A visitor praised the ladies for their beauty and amiability, adding that they passed their lives in the kitchen and their faces shewed it. Of trade and manufacture there was none; the chief source of wealth was the cattle of the Campagna, the chief gild of the city that of the herdsmen. Ostia had long ceased to be a port of import­ance; trade passed upwards to the head of the Tuscan or Adriatic gulfs. All roads might lead to Rome, but all were the haunts of brigandage.

Around Rome on the Ciminian, Sabine, Hernican, and Alban hills were encamped the great feudal houses, supporting a numerous cavalry, for whose operations the rolling, grass country of the Campagna was admirably suited. These families clustered round the two most powerful, the Orsini and Colonna, the former Guelf, the latter Ghibelline, but neither disposed to yield practical obedience to a Pope. To the north from near Civita Vecchia ran the Orsini sphere of influence, tending south­eastwards past Lake Bracciano, crossing the Tiber towards the little hill towns of Alba and Tagliacozzo, almost east of Rome. Towards this same point converged the territories of the Colonna and allied houses from the sea near Nett uno, across the Alban hills to their capital Palestrina, and thence north-eastwards.

The two families were not only rival magnates but the chief urban nobles, the Orsini quartered in the Campus Martius near the Tiber and conveniently close to the Vatican, the Colonna holding a strong position on the Quirinal, seat of the ancient imperial and modem royal monarchy. For long periods the Senatorship was shared by these two families, while one or other pulled the strings of most disturbances in Rome. Nor was it conducive to peace that both were frequently represented in the cardinalate, where they naturally took opposite sides. Thus a quarrel might arise across the floor of the Consistory and spread through Rome to distant villages in the Sabine hills, or local feuds therein might infect the city and the college.

Behind the feudatories of the Campagna stood the dynasts of the Tuscan Patrimony, Umbria, Romagna, and the March. In each city-state the head of the leading house in the conquering faction had become by force or election its lord. Many of these were old Roman colonies with a wide space of territory, which lent itself to autonomy, and each was, as a rule, a diocese accustomed to regard itself as a separate entity. The dynasts varied in power from the great lords of Este, whose rule in Ferrara dated from the first half of the thirteenth century, down to the lordlings of Camerino or Todi. Most now held the title of Papal Vicar, a system due in great measure to Cardinal Albornoz, who, unable to reduce them by force, had persuaded them to secure their de facto power by a de iure title. The oath of fealty and the tribute had meant little, so that on Martin’s arrival the Vicars were virtually independent. Among them a few cities, such as Ancona, preserved municipal republicanism. In two important cases, Bologna and Perugia, the dynastic process was still incomplete. Bologna wavered between republican freedom, submission to a papal legate, and the sway of a family faction. At this moment it was in revolt against the Papacy, while Perugia under Braccio da Montone was the centre of a considerable condottiere State.

Behind the ring of feudatories were the four Italian powers, Naples, Milan, Venice, Florence, three of them likely to be aggressive. Ladislas and even his feeble successor Joanna II had proved how vulnerable Rome was from the south, while in the near future it was exposed to direct attack by Milan from the north. The papal dominions most endangered were Romagna and the March. Neapolitan horse might easily ford the Tronto on the south; the eastern coast was open to Venetian galleys; Ancona, indeed, had offered herself to Venice, but strangely enough had been refused. Milanese mercenaries had an easy route along the Emilian Road to Bologna and beyond. Even less venturesome Florence pushed her commerce across the Apennines to the Adriatic, especially down the Vai Lamone to Faenza, where the Manfredi were almost under her protectorate. The furious factions of the hot-headed in a territory where men are still “more stomachy” than elsewhere, and the quarrels of the numerous dynasts, made Romagna the nervous centre of Italy, wherein all disorders were likely to germinate. Finally, in the distant background the European powers were now accustomed to threaten the refusal of supplies, the withdrawal of allegiance, the meddlesome interference of a General Council.

A link connecting the several rings which were compressing the Papacy was found in the condottieri. These might be great soldiers of fortune such as the Sforza or Braccio and his successors, fighting under command of the Italian powers; they might be Papal Vicars themselves, such as the Malatesta or Montefeltri, whose courts formed the cadres of a standing force, capable of indefinite expansion; or again they might be Colonna or Orsini nobles, acting upon political parties in Rome itself, or upon the very college of cardinals.

To danger from one or other, or even all, of these quarters every Pope of this century was exposed. How much more might this have affected Martin, who had slight administrative foundations upon which to build, no certain pecuniary resources, no spiritual terrors wherewith to impress sceptical or self-seeking Italian rulers! Yet, perhaps, a more favourable moment for the restoration of the Papacy could scarcely have been found, if only the man chosen were capable of taking full advantage. The very cardinals had been brought to feel that their own fortunes depended upon those of the Pope. Only through him could they amass benefices, or win provincial governorships or the wealthy offices of the Court. Papal patronage, indeed, throughout the century was to count for much. That Martin was a Roman made him secure of Rome, if only he could get there. Her very occupation by Neapolitan troops or those of Braccio mode her the readier to welcome any Pope who could free her from such a scourge, could scour her streets, rebuild her churches, fill her lodging-houses, and replenish her shopkeepers’ tills.

Martin’s position as Pope concentrated all the resources of the Colonna; they could provide him with troops and generals, and place a wide area south of Rome under his control. It is true that this very fact might cause trouble with the Orsini. But Martin and his Orsini colleagues in the cardinalate, both men of moderation, had been on unusually good terms. Without support from Italian powers the feudatories could scarcely be actively aggressive, and could be pitted against each other. The greater States were too busy to be troublesome. The unquestioned suzerainty over Naples gave the Pope an incalculable advantage in the disputed succession between Anjou-Durazzo and the second house of Anjou. Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan was laboriously recovering his father’s State, which had been broken up into its original municipal units by condottieri or the old local families. Venice, traditionally friendly, had not yet begun to covet actual dominion in Romagna, contenting herself with commercial concessions and the precious monopoly of the saltpans of Cervia. Florence proved her active goodwill by offering Martin hospitality. She was a weak military power as compared with Milan or Naples, but her prestige at this time was relatively high, owing to her recent resistance to the Visconti and Ladislas, and to the internal troubles of the two monarchies. European nations were full of turmoil. The Emperor became immersed in the Hussite wars; France was distracted by civil war, followed by the English invasion; England herself was before long enfeebled by a weak minority. Thus if the Powers could not help, they could not hinder; at all events the Council of Constance had proved that the Holy See had nothing to fear from a European Concert.

Such were the chances open to Martin, who was the very man to use them to the full. Moderate, conciliatory, and attractive, he had neverthe­less an iron will, and would brook no rivalry. Practical and thrifty, even to avarice, he treated the Papacy as a business concern. He was too prudent to force political openings, but utilised those which offered themselves with consummate skill. Fortune usually favours such a man. On his tomb he is dubbed Temporum suorum felictas, the good fortune of his times, but the times were also fortunate for Martin.

Most opportune of all circumstances was the disputed succession to Naples, which will best be treated later from the Neapolitan side. Apart from this, Martin’s first success was due to Florentine mediation with Braccio, which cleared the road to Rome. The condottiere undertook the submission of-Bologna, receiving investiture with the Vicariate of Perugia and neighbouring cities. This was a dangerous step for the future. Braccio was no mere local lordling in distant Romagna, but the leader of half the soldiery of Italy, entrenched west of the Apennines, imperilling com­munication with Romagna and even Tuscany. From this Martin was saved by the accident of Braccio’s death, an episode in the Neapolitan war. The Pope was now firmly lord in Umbria. Romagna was the next objective. Here the Malatesta were threatening to become a first-rate power, stretching across the mountains to Gubbio and Borgo San Sepolcro, while not till 1421 was Pandolfo Malatesta evicted from Brescia and Bergamo. As Martin had set Braccio against Bologna, so now he countered the Malatesta by the lord of Urbino. Then death once more came to his aid, for the heads of the lines of Rimini and Pesaro died, and disputed succession enabled the suzerain to confine the heirs to the earlier limits of the two houses. Bologna, indeed, once more rebelled before the reign closed, but obedience was restored by help of Carlo Malatesta, an old enemy of the city.

Martin’s position enabled him largely to increase the Colonna territories. His nepotism recalls that of Nicholas III, the great Orsini Pope of the thirteenth century. Convenient kinswomen were married to the lords of Urbino and Piombino, and to the Orsini Prince of Taranto, the greatest noble in the Neapolitan kingdom. Martin’s brother Giordano was created Duke of Amalfi and Prince of Salerno, another, Lorenzo, became Grand Justiciar and Duke of Alba in the Abruzzi, recently held by the Orsini. More substantial was the increase of the family possessions, especially Nettuno on the coast, Marino on the great south road, Rocca di Papa on the summit of the Alban hills. Other accretions of property north of Rome caused friction with the Orsini, but hostility was allayed by the bestowal of fiefs and arrangements for profitable marriages. In Rome order was persistently enforced, while the restoration of the Vatican, the Lateran, and other buildings gave employment to the lower classes.

Homage was done to the Renaissance by the engagement of Gentile da Fabriano and Pisanello, a worthy example to Martin’s successors. Even for the future there were brilliant possibilities. Giordano died without issue, but Lorenzo’s son Prospero was the obvious candidate for the Papacy, while for another son there was just a prospect of the kingdom of Naples. The only cloud upon the horizon was the conciliar question. Martin had bent the Council of Siena to his will, reducing rather than increasing, as was demanded, the authority of cardinals and bishops. In spite of his reluctance, however, the disasters of the Hussite war and pressure from the European powers compelled him to summon the fateful Council of Basle. The bull was sealed on 1 February 1431; on the twentieth day of the month the fortunate Pope was dead.


Naples, of all States, needed the rule of a strong man. Joanna II, a widow of forty-five, who succeeded her brother Ladislas, had no capacity or interest except for love. Her present favourite, Pandolfello Alopo, as Grand Chamberlain, controlled the finances and patronage of the State. The striking figure from the first is, however, Sforza Attendolo, whom Alopo, fearing his manly attractions for the queen, imprisoned. Of the Roman possessions of Ladislas, Ostia and the castle of Sant’ Angelo alone remained, while the road to their recovery was blocked by rebellious lords, who occupied Capua and Aquila. Sforza, released under pressure from the Council, recovered these cities. Joanna’s life became a public scandal; marriage seemed the only remedy, and James, the Bourbon Count of La Marche, of French royal blood, was bold enough to wed her. He was not to be styled King, but Vicar General, Duke of Calabria, and Prince of Taranto. On his way from Manfredonia to Naples the nobles who met him proclaimed him king, and arrested Sforza. On the bridegroom’s arrival at Naples in August 1415, Alopo was executed; Joanna was placed in close confinement; places of trust were monopolised by French­men. Popular sympathy was aroused by the queen’s humiliation. In November 1416 a rising headed by Ottino Caracciolo resulted in the queen’s release, her consort’s surrender, and the expulsion of the French.

Sforza, set free, was reappointed Grand Constable, but at Court was no match for a handsome lover. The new favourite was Giovanni Caracciolo (Sergianni), a cousin of Ottino but his enemy. His ascendancy was long to last, for he had both charm and real ability of its kind. Sforza was prudently dispatched to drive Braccio from Rome, which he now ruled under the title Almae urbis defensor. He had ravaged Sforza’s possessions in Umbria and the March, the cause of the deadly rivalry which brought both heroes to the grave. Sforza now worked round from Ostia to the Borgo on 27 August 1417, relieved Sant’ Angelo, and forced Braccio to withdraw. At this moment Martin’s election became known, an event of high importance to both generals.

The favour of Sforza, as possessor of Rome, was essential to Martin. An agreement was soon made that Joanna should retain the guardianship of Rome until Martin’s arrival, while she received confirmation of her title. Sforza, on returning to Naples, came into violent collision with Caracciolo, who was forced by nobles and people to withdraw. In the summer of 1419 Martin ordered Sforza to protect Rome. Hard fighting between Sforzeschi and Bracceschi spread from Umbria to Romagna until in the spring of 1420 Martin invited Braccio to Florence and reconciled the rivals, recognising Braccio as Vicar in Perugia. Sforza, always generous, had foolishly allowed Caracciolo to return to Naples, with the usual scandalous results. Martin shared his disgust, and together at Florence they negotiated with Louis III of Anjou, on the understanding that he should become Joanna’s heir and expel Caracciolo from the kingdom. Sforza inarched on Naples, declared himself the enemy of the government, and attacked the city at the Capuan gate.

Caracciolo meanwhile had prepared a counter stroke. His agent at Rome made proposals to the envoy of Alfonso of Aragon, who was vainly besieging Bonifacio, a Genoese possession in Corsica. The king should be adopted as Joanna’s heir, receiving the Castel Nuovo and Castel d’Uovo as pledges on sight of the first Aragonese sails. Alfonso’s cousin, Louis III, without any knowledge of this, reached Naples by sea in August 1420. In September arrived Alfonso’s Sicilian fleet, the admiral of which re­ceived the Castel Nuovo, his troops occupying the town. Alfonso shewed no hurry. On reaching his own kingdom of Sicily early in February 1421, he found his Parliament, his Council, and his brother John, the viceroy, opposed to so dangerous a war. Notwithstanding, Alfonso made for Naples, there finding Braccio, who had received the titles of Prince of Capua and Constable, and had already been hotly engaged with Sforza,

Martin’s position was difficult. He had attached himself to Sforza without realising the consequences of his quarrel with Joanna. She was reigning with his consent, and yet she was employing Sforza’s deadly enemy, Braccio, whose loyalty to Martin was suspect. During the winter of 1421 he made every effort for peace, butin vain. The real protagonists were not the claimants but the condottieri. From them came an unexpected hope of peace. Sforza was now the weaker, and Braccio was tempted by lucrative service in the Viscontean-Venetian war. He persuaded his rival to make peace with Alfonso and Joanna,and then retired from the kingdom, rewarded with the government of the Abruzzi.

Joanna’s passion for her lover soon came to Martin’s aid. The lovers grew jealous of the masterful adopted heir. Popular feeling rose against the ever-hated Catalans. In May 1423, Alfonso arrested the favourite; Joanna called Sforza to her aid, while Alfonso summoned Braccio from Tuscany. The latter got no farther than Aquila, which he claimed as governor of the Abruzzi. It was a valuable link between his Umbrian possessions and his recent fief of Capua; but Aquila was stoutly Angevin, and closed her gates. In June Sforza had driven Alfonso into the Caste! Nuovo, when the arrival of a Sicilian fleet caused Joanna to escape to Aversa, where Louis III joined her, the Pope and Visconti having recon­ciled their claims. Alfonso, called away to Aragon by a short Castilian war, left his son Peter in command at Naples, and viciously sacked Louis’ town of Marseilles on his way to Barcelona.

Braccio was still besieging Aquila; Sforza, on the march to relieve it, was on 3 January 1424 drowned in attempting to save a trooper's life. His son Francesco retired to Aversa, where Joanna confirmed him in his father's honours. The check had no ill effects on Angevin fortunes. The successes of Louis Ill's Genoese fleet between Gaeta and Sorrento, and the treason of Peter's chief condottiere, the Neapolitan noble, Giacomo Candola, led to the capture of Naples. Peter escaped to Sicily, leaving a small garrison in the Castel Nuovo. In June a papal and Neapolitan force beat and captured Braccio outside Aquila. The savage soldier starved himself to death, but his troops throughout Italy held to his nephew, Niecold Piccinino, while the Sforzeschi were led by Francesco Sforza. The Aragonese cause seemed lost; the two military companies found full employment in North Italy. Naples enjoyed some years of relative peace under the influence of Martin, whose nephew Antonio was created Duke of Aquila. Nowhere was the Pope’s triumph more complete. With masterly opportunism he had allied himself with Joanna against Louis III, then with Louis against Joanna and Alfonso, and finally with Joanna and Louis against Aragon. At his death in February 1431 the supremacy of the Papacy over the feudatory kingdom seemed assured.

Trouble however soon arose at Naples, owing to Joanna’s obvious liking for Louis III, whom Caracciolo jealously removed to Calabria. His in­solence to Joanna becoming intolerable, she plotted his arrest with his hostile cousin Ottino and the Duchess of Sessa. This they accomplished, and, fearing that the queen might change her mind, mercilessly killed him. The duchess now ruled the Court, keeping Louis at arm's length. Alfonso, seeing an opening, arrived at Ischia, and was well received by her, but lost the duchess’ favour by winning that of her husband. So he made peace with. Joanna, and sailed to Sicily. The queen, striving to rule through divisions, provoked war between the Sanseverini and the Prince of Taranto, sending Candola and Louis to attack the latter. During the campaign, in November 1434, Louis died. On 2 February 1485 Joanna ended her worthless life, bequeathing her kingdom to his brother René.


It seemed possible that the Colonna might become the ruling house in Italy. Circumstances were favourable for this. Naples was friendly and dependent; the Florentine aristocracy was tottering; Venice and Milan were at each other’s throats; might not Martin pass on to his family the power which he had acquired? The new feeling of nationality alive in Europe, the loss of reverence for the spiritual power, would have aided such a solution. Cardinal Prospero was the obvious successor. But Martin died too soon. The cardinalate proved now, as afterwards, a fatal obstacle. It was easy for a Pope to become absolute in his life, but the stronger he was then, the weaker he was after death. He could prevent the college from being a ruling aristocracy, but not from being an electoral aristo­cracy. The cardinals could choose their monarch, if they could not govern him.

Gabriel Condulmer owed his election to his comparative insignificance. Born of a wealthy but not noble family of clothiers who had migrated to Venice, he was pushed into the cardinalate under Gregory XII through the favour of a member of the house of Correr. He was genuinely religious, ascetic, and charitable, and did much to reform the Church in matters of detail. But he was obstinate, and at times bad-tempered, perhaps owing to gout, from which, though a total abstainer, he suffered severely in the hands. The restored Papacy, in its tender growth, needed opportunism and adaptability, but Eugenius IV was the greatest inopportunist of the century.

This pontificate was almost contemporaneous with the Council of Basle, which opened four months after Eugenius I Vs accession; it dragged on, indeed, until 1449, but his last act was to heal the wound, opened by the Council, by reconciling the larger part of Germany with the Papacy. The difficulty of the reign is to disentangle the Pope’s spiritual relations towards Europe from his temporal power in Italy, for they acted and reacted on each other. The former were affected by trivial Italian com­plications, while the Council’s action determined that of his Italian enemies small or great. The secular side of his reign, with which this chapter is concerned, comprises trouble with cardinals, Roman people, baronage, condottieri, Italian States, and European powers.

The capitulations imposed upon Eugenius were of unusual stringency. The cardinals were promised complete liberty of speech, guarantees for their offices, and control over half the papal revenues; all important business must be discussed with them; the Papacy must not leave Rome; all feudatories and officials must swear to both cardinals and Pope. The Papacy thus became an oligarchy. Eugenius could never entirely control his cardinals. Two of them sat on the Council till its close, and were cardinals of Felix V. Eugenius began his reign, just as had Boniface VIII, by fiercely attacking the Colonna, whom he accused of secreting papal treasures. He ordered the surrender of all fiefs and fortunes granted by Martin, whose secretary he tortured within an ace of death. The Colonna took up arms, but, after forcing the Appian gate, were driven out of Rome; their palaces, even that of Martin V, were destroyed. Excommunication and war in Latium followed from mid May till late September. Florence and Venice, whose cause Eugenius supported against Milan, sent contingents, which proved too strong for the Colonna, who surrendered their fortresses and paid an indemnity. Yet Eugenius was to pay dearly for his enterprise, though not so severely as had Boniface, who, in great measure, owed his death to a refugee Colonna.

The Council of Basle and the Pope were soon at issue. The papal legate, Cesarini, and the King of the Romans, convinced that recon­ciliation with the Hussites was essential to the peace of the Church, summoned Bohemian delegates. Eugenius would have no truck with heretics, and ordered the Council to dissolve and meet again at Bologna. The Council refused obedience. Cesarini remonstrated with the Pope, as did Sigismund, who, on Filippo Visconti’s invitation, had received the iron crown in Sant’ Ambrogio on 25 November. He was thus in apparent opposition to Eugenius, the ally of Venice and Florence against Milan.

Events in 1432 moved rapidly. It is possible that the appeal of Cardinals Colonna and Capranica, now at Basle, stimulated the personal hostility of the Council to Eugenius, which was early a peculiar feature. Italian temporal and European religious causes already interacted. From January to December the Council successively declared its independence, summoned Eugenius to attend, impeached him, and ordered him to re­voke his bull. Fortunately the political atmosphere was clearing. Visconti had offended Sigismund by not receiving him when in Milan, and by entangling him in hostilities with Florence and Venice, whose forces had shut him up at Siena, in his own words, like a beast in a cage. The Council was necessary to him, because peace with the Bohemians was all- important, but he disliked its radical character, resting on elements hostile to the Empire. Eugenius alone could rescue him from the hostility of Venice and Florence; for this and for his coronation he would sacrifice the Council’s complete independence. At peace with the Pope and the republics, he entered Rome in May, and, after coronation, stayed in close friendship with Eugenius till August.

This papal-imperial understanding drove Visconti into definite support of the Council. In his service Sforza attacked the March of Ancona, while Fortebraccio threatened Rome from Tivoli, both calling themselves Generals of the Council. The Colonna and Savelli joined Fortebraccio, while it seemed likely that Romagna would fall to Milan or the condottieri By November 1433 Sforza advanced into Papal Tuscany; Visconti was impudently styling himself Vicar of the Council in Italy. These territorial reverses forced Eugenius to concessions. He reinstated the disputed cardinals, and on 30 January 1434 recognised the Council as the highest authority. Sforza was bribed by the Vicariate of the March, with the office of Gonfalonier of the Church. This, like Martin’s cession of Perugia to Bradcio, was a sacrifice of the future to the present, for Sforza would be far more dangerous than any ordinary Vicar of local origin. Visconti, however, gave the Pope no rest: he sent Sforza’s rival, Piccinino, to help Fortebraccio. Aided by the Colonna, they produced a revolution at Rome. Eugenius was ordered to surrender the temporal power, and hand over Sant’ Angelo and Ostia to the people. They stormed the Capitol, and re-established the old republican government of Seven Riformatori on 29 May 1434. Eugenius with one companion escaped in disguise to the river bank, where a boat from an Ischian pirate ship at Ostia was awaiting them (4 June). Any visitor to Ostia by road can picture the scene. The Pope lay under a shield, while the mob, who soon realised his escape, pelted the boat with stones and arrows. Some fishermen put out to intercept it, but, finding the pirates preparing to ram, discreetly made for shore. Ostia reached, he sailed for Pisa, and found in Florence a hospitable home in Santa Maria Novella. The revolution was a flash in the pan. The people Could not take Sant Angelo, and Visconti needed his troops in Lombardy. Rome, without a Pope, had no visitors, and, without them, no livelihood. The wires of the nominal republic Were pulled by the nobles. When in October Giovanni Vitelleschi appeared With Orsini troops, he was voluntarily admitted. Yet for nine years Eugenius Was still an exile.

From Vitelleschi’s occupation of Rome, papal territorial history is mainly concerned, for nearly six years, with this soldier-priest, one of his century’s most striking figtires. Born at Corneto, a hill-town overlooking the Maremma, and now famous for its artichokes, he had, while in Tartaglia’s service, destroyed the rival faction in Corneto. He obtained, under the Papacy, clerical preferment, rising to the patriarchate of Alexandria, the archbishopric of Florence, and finally the catdin alate. Before his death he was suspected of aiming at the Papacy in the steps of the quondam soldier of fortune, John XXIII. Though his murderous brutality had driven the March of Ancona into Sforza’s arms, Eugenius, attracted by his virility, placed no limits on his actions. From Rome he threw his whole weight upon Jacopo Manfredi, Prefect of Vido, whom he executed. This was the end of a famous Ghibelline brigand house, professing descent from Caesar, or Nero at the least; since Innocent III it had held the office of Praefectus Urbis, a title dating from the late Empire. The Prefect was the Emperor’s representative, safeguarding him when in Rome; the Manfredi had played this part at the coronation of Henry VII and Lewis IV. They were nominally responsible for the safety of roads leading to Rome, which they intermittently plundered. Holding the cura annonae, the control of the markets, they received, as perquisites, rolls of bread, wine, and a sheep’s head from bakers, vintners, and butchers respectively. They had now become papal officials, riding before or by the Pope, clad, as was their horse, in magnificent ancient raiment. Nevertheless in the Papal Chancery the term filius damnatae memoriae was almost as hereditary as Praefectus dlmae urbis. The dignity of the Prefecture was conferred upon Francesco Orsini, and then generally on a papal nipote, but its functions were vested in the papal Vice-Chamberlain, a good example of the absorption of imperial or municipal authority by the curial civil service. Eugenius foolishly alienated the Vico estates to the Counts of Anguillara, who proved scarcely easier to control than the Prefects.

Had Eugenius not refused the petition of the citizens that he should return to Rome, all might have been well. In Vitelleschi’s absence, a republican revolution broke out, supported by the Colonna and Savelli. Vitelleschi stormed back to Rome, utterly destroyed the Savelli fortresses on and around the Alban hills, then, turning on the Colonna, captured Palestrina, which was more absolutely destroyed than under Boniface VIII. The old Vitelleschi palace at Corneto, now or lately an inn, is entered between the marble doorposts plundered from the cathedral. Latium for generations to come did not recover from Vitelleschfs devastations. The conqueror re-entered Rome in tiiumph, had the republican leader, Poncelletto Venerameri, torn with red-hot pincers and quartered on the Campo del Fiore. He reigned as despot, but was popular, for he had suppressed the hated nobles and lowered prices. The Senate and Porta­mento decreed in his honour an equestrian statue on the Capitol by the hand of Donatello, with the inscription Tertius a Romulo pater patriae. The monument, to the loss of posterity, was never raised.

Vitelleschi’s Roman conquests were followed by a Neapolitan campaign, which will receive notice later. Eugenius bad claimed Naples as a lapsed fief, the direct lines of Anjou and Anjou-Durazzo having both expired. Alfonso of Aragon's invasion, however, followed by his sensational release, after capture, by Visconti, rendered necessary the recognition of Ren£ of Anjou, whom Joanna had adopted, and whose wife was holding Naples during his imprisonment in Burgundy. Vitelleschi, after some successes, was forced to evacuate the kingdom, and joined Eugenius at Ferrara in January 1438. The Pope's arrival here marks a critical stage in his fortunes, both temporal and spiritual. His flight from Rome had encouraged the Council of Basle to take its extremist anti-papal measures. These had estranged moderate opinion, and caused the secession of Cesarini and other leaders. The quarrel over the selection of the site for the Council of Reunion with the Greek Church was closed in the Pope's favour by the Greek Emperor's consent to meet him at Ferrara on 4 March 1438. This Council was transferred to Florence in January 1439, for on the temporal side the Basle Fathers wore still the stronger. Piccinino with Visconti had seized Bologna, and Imola, Forii, and Ravenna revolted from the Papacy. Nevertheless the success of the union with the Greek Church, followed by the accession of the Eastern Churches, indirectly gave prestige to Eugenius on the temporal side, which was not diminished by his deposition on 25 June, by which act the Council of Basle plunged into schism, and in November 1439 elected Amadeus VIII, the retired Duke of Savoy, to the Papacy as Felix V.

War between Pope and Council was now undisguised. The indispen­sable Vitelleschi was set the task of recovering Bologna. To protect his rear, he captured Foligno from the despot house of Trinci, putting the dynast and his sons to death. The Abbot of Monte Cassino, commandant of Spoleto, met the same fate. Vitelleschi then organised his troops in Rome for a northward march in the spring. The great soldier’s sands were, however, running down. Florence suspected him of an intrigue with Piccinino for the conquest of the city, and the foundation of a tyrannis in the Papal States, perhaps even the occupation of the papal throne. The Pope’s Chamberlain, Luigi, communicated with Antonio Rido, captain of Sant’ Angelo, with a view to Vitelleschi’s overthrow. The famous bridge beneath the fortress can still recall the tragedy. On 19 March 1441 the papal troops had crossed it en route for Tuscany. Their general had halted in their rear for a few last words with Rido; the drawbridge fell, a chain was drawn behind him, and he was trapped. Dragged fighting and wounded into the castle, he died, or was poisoned, on 2 April.

The Chamberlain Luigi, also a fighting priest, took Vitelleschi’s place, commanded the papal troops in Piccinino’s decisive defeat at Anghiari in the Upper Tiber valley, and, rewarded with the cardinalate, became the master of Rome, folly as oppressive as Vitelleschi, and less popular. The Peace of Cavriana between Visconti and the two republics relieved immediate pressure, though Sforza’s marriage with Visconti’s bastard daughter Bianca made his position in the March more dangerous than ever to his sovereign. On 2 June 1442, Alfonso’s capture of Naples and Rene’s flight to Provence caused Eugenius to turn a complete somersault in foreign policy. He deserted the two republics for the two monarchies, and declared Sforza a rebel to the Church, while Venice and Florence strove to protect him. The treaty with Alfonso was finally concluded on 6 July 1443. Eugenius made his entrance into Rome, where the Chamberlain had executed all dangerous citizens, on 28 September. His return to Rome was fatal to the Council, and the summons to the Council of the Vatican rang its knell. The Papacy had recovered its centre of gravity. Basle might be on a level with Ferrara and Florence, but what was the Pope at Lausanne to the Pope at Rome ? The possession of Rome was nine points of the law.

Absolute peace was not as yet. Sforza lost the cities of the March till Jesi alone was left, but the death of Piccinino, now the Pope’s friend, was a serious loss, for Annibale Bentivoglio caused Bologna to revolt and it was not recovered during the Pope’s reign. A not unimportant diminu­tion of papal territory was the mortgage of Borgo San Sepolcro to Florence, in the days of alliance. The mortgage was never redeemed, and so Borgo, a strong position on the high-road to Urbino, and facing Anghiari across the Tiber, is still ungeographically in Tuscany. In 1446 Sforza shot his last bolt. Backed by Florence and the Count of Angui lara, he marched for Rome. The barons did not rise, and he was forced back upon Urbino. Visconti, hard-pressed, and near his death, called his unfilial son-in-law to his aid. Sforza left the March for Milan; thus Eugenius by a stroke of fortune recovered the valuable province which he had so perilously pawned away.

In Italy Eugenius had emerged with fair success from troubles with his rebellious capital, the Campagna nobles, the condottieri, and the four greater powers, though Venice and Florence were still estranged. His relations with European powers depended on the vicissitudes of his quarrel with the Council, which belongs to another chapter. Bohemia was still outside the fold, but, in spite of the violent hostility of the French party at Basle, the attitude of the king was friendly. Through the agency of the Emperor the obedience of the greater part of Germany was restored to Eugenius on his deathbed. On 23 February 1447, he died.

Long residence in Florence had widened the intellectual and artistic outlook of the ascetic Venetian Pope. In Tuscany the classical revival was an absorbing interest; the Papal Chancery and the humanistic aris­tocracy became merged. On the Pope’s return to Rome the professional Florentine humanists were tempted to the Vatican. A papal secretariate became a regular reward for classical learning. The union with the Greeks also gave a stimulus to Greek studies, especially to the Platonic side, whereof the chief exponents, Gemistos Plethon and Bessarion, were present. The latter, created cardinal in 1439, was henceforth a centre for Greek learning. The Florentine visit also marks an interesting moment in the revival of the vernacular, and especially the living force of Dante. In 1441 a competition was announced for poems in Italian, for which the humanists of the Curia were appointed judges; they could not decide be­tween the four best candidates, and so declared that the prize lapsed to the Papacy, at which there was much discontent. Tuscan artists also followed Eugenius to Rome. The great iron gates of St Peter’s were wrought by Filarete after the model of those of Ghiberti, which Eugenius had seen set up, as he had also witnessed the erection of Brunelleschi’s dome. The marvellous papal tiara was the work of Ghiberti. Fra Angelico was employed in the Papal Chapel at the Vatican, while Pisanello continued the frescoes begun under Martin V. Eugenius was buried in St Peter’s, but his effigy was removed to San Salvatore in Lauro and set in a later Renaissance monument.


The wish of the Colonna to make the Papacy a family appanage now almost succeeded. One vote more would have made Prospero Colonna Pope, and Capranica stood second. The aristocracy of the cardinalate was just too strong. Choice fell upon Tommaso Parentucelli of Sarzana, youngest and humblest of the college, to which he had belonged less than three months. He had been tutor to the Strozzi and Albizzi families, had arranged Cosimo de Medici’s library in San Marco at Florence, and then steeped himself in theology at Bologna. Acting as secretary to Cardinal Albergati in his travels, he became one of the European brotherhood of letters. He succeeded his patron in the bishopric of Bologna, and, in his memory, took the name of Nicholas V as Pope. His outwardly simple habits concealed two most extravagant passions, building and book­collecting. Early in life he said that, if he were ever rich, these were the only objects on which he would care to spend. The Jubilee of 1450 soon gave him the wealth he desired, and he spent it to the full.

For the Papal States, with Rome still seething with republican volitions, the Campagna devastated, and Bologna in open revolt, peace was the first essential, and Nicholas was pre-eminently a man of peace and compromise. General political conditions were in his favour. The Visconti succession war drew all fighting forces northwards; Alfonso, who, during the con­clave, overawed Rome from Tivoli, marched on Tuscany. Sforza, having won Milan, lost interest in the March, thus relieving the Papacy from further Venetian encroachments in Romagna. Bologna was pacified by a quasi-republican constitution, and later by the tactful rule of the Greek Bessarion, who had no party prejudices and devoted himself to restoring the decadent university. The despot families in Romagna and Umbria were gratified by vicariates; the turbulent nobles of the Campagna were quieted, the Colonna restored to their possessions, and even Palestrina was once more rebuilt.

Abroad, Frederick III’s interests, territorial and imperial, pledged him to complete the treaty signed with Eugenius; the dissident princes, Bavarian, Saxon, and episcopal, returned to obedience. The Concordat of Vienna, thanks to the work of Piccolomini and Cusa, acting respectively for Empire and Papacy, was confirmed at Rome in March 1448. Frederick III had the Council driven from Basle to Lausanne. Charles VII induced Felix to resign, and Nicholas built a golden bridge for his retire­ment. The Council in April 1449 saved its face by electing Nicholas, as though the Papacy were vacant. The last papal schism ended in time for the triumphant Jubilee of 1450.

Nicholas was now free for the work which he had most at heart. His pontificate has the merit of a definite policy, and that not unworthy. The Papacy has won some of its chief triumphs, not by originality of conception but by adaptability, by turning a current of thought springing from other sources into its own channel, regulating or deepening its flow. Nicholas was no bookworm living in the past; he was eminently modernist. His manhood was spent among the leaders of the new literary and artistic movement. The Papacy must not linger in the stifling atmosphere of Scholasticism and Canon Law; it must blaze the way to the sunny, airy heights of the new learning. Florence had hitherto been the capital of intellect; Rome must now take her ancient imperial place as the centre of power, at least in art and letters; Rome could only lead by adapting herself to new conditions. This was a reasonable, practical policy, which, but for the want of continuity in the electoral papal system, might have been consistently developed. Nicholas gathered round him artists and scholars whom he had known at Florence.

Eugenius had introduced the humanists into the Curia for the practical purposes of the Chancery or diplomacy, where a florid Latin style was indispensable. Nicholas, rather a scholar than a stylist, required more permanent services than the composition of briefs and speeches. His humanists found their place in the Library; most were utilised for the ambitious series of translations from Greek authors, in which Poggio and Filelfo, Decembrio and Guarino, Valla and Manetti took a part. It was strange that one with so high a religious standard should read and even reward the obscene invectives of Filelfo, stranger still that he should admit into the innermost circle Lorenzo Valla, who in Alfonso’s service had pulverised the very foundations of papal temporal power, and shaken essential articles of belief. Valla, however, was no windbag humanist but at once a genuine critic and constructive scholar; the Vatican stall would have been incomplete without him. Nicholas pardoned his principles for his prose, and Valla pocketed them with his perquisites; the temporal power, if theoretically a fiction, was an agreeably remunerative fact.

Less amply rewarded but more interesting for posterity were the artists whom Nicholas brought to Rome. Among them were Fra Angelico, Rossellino, Buonfiglio, Castagno, and Gozzoli, perhaps Piero della Francesca and Bramantino. Leon Battista Alberti formed a link between the literary and artistic groups; to him probably the scheme for the new St Peter’s was due. If Rome was to be the world’s capital, the Vatican should be its citadel. The Pope would convert the whole much dilapidated Leonine city into a temple, a palace, and a fortress. Three arcaded avenues were to run from a spacious square in front of the Bridge of Sant’ Angelo to open out into another facing the Vatican and the new Basilica, The plan was never completed, but Nicholas may claim to be the founder of the new St Peter’s, the new Vatican, and its new Library. Old classical ruins were swept away for the sake of their materials, and the dismantling of the old St Peter’s was begun. Rome must move with the times, not cling to a cumbrous, sentimental past.

Rome was now ready for the most spectacular event of the reign, the visit of Frederick III for his marriage and coronation. The king, escorted by two papal legates, met at Siena his attractive and well-dowered fiancée, Leonor of Portugal. Unable to receive the iron crown at Milan, he begged Nicholas to crown him with it on 16 March. Then followed the royal marriage, and three days later Frederick received the imperial crown in St Peter's, the first Habsburg and the last Emperor to be so honoured. After a visit to Naples and a short stay at Rome, he was called home bv dynastic troubles. Not unimportant in the history of the Papal States was his grant, to Borso d’Este of Ferrara, of the two imperial fiefs, the duchies of Modena and Reggio: the Estensi were long to find it hard to serve two suzerains.

In 1453 the sunshine of Nicholas V’s reign was overcast with clouds which never lifted. The conspiracy of Porcaro was the outcome of fer­mentation under Eugenius; he was intimate with all the men of letters of his day, and steeped in the earlier principles of Valla. Roman humanism took a dangerous direction. Not content with the style of the Classics, it drew lessons from their subject-matter. Pardoned by Eugenius, he had, during the Conclave, inveighed against the government of priests and the slavery of Rome. Nicholas made him governor of Anagni, but his un­governable tongue caused an honourable exile to Bologna, where he hatched his plot. Rome should be a republic with himself as Tribune. As with Cola di Rienzo, the costumier was a noticeable element in the play. Porcaro carried a golden chain, wherewith to secure the Pope. The Vatican stables were to be fired, the cardinals seized, and, on resistance, killed. Loot was dangled before the less humanistic conspirators. Porcaro’s disappearance from Bologna led to the discovery of the plot. His house was surrounded. Sciarra the soldier cut his way out by the front door, Porcaro escaped by the back. He was found in a dowry chest, on the lid of which his sister and a lady friend were sitting. The last scene was tragic, the mise en scène still effective; Porcaro was hung, dressed in a neat suit of black velvet, from the parapet of Sant’ Angelo. The conspiracy caused more sensation than it deserved. Porcaro had some sympathy. Infessura, Secretary to the Senate, wrote: “So died that lover of Roman weal and liberty, for the freedom of his fatherland from slavery.” Machiavelli later took a cooler view: “His intention might be by some applauded, but his judgment will be by everyone condemned.” There was an unpleasant strain of the Catiline in the blood of the Cato, from whom Porcaro claimed descent.

The conspiracy alarmed Nicholas to an inordinate extent. Physically timid, he became suspicious and morose, in striking contrast to his previous easy good-fellowship. It is reported that depression tempted him to have recourse to restoratives, which doubtless aggravated his gouty symptoms. The disastrous year, 1453, closed with the capture of Constantinople. This forced Nicholas into prominence; he equipped a fleet and circularised Italian and European powers, but could promote no enthusiasm. Too ill to do more for a crusade, he died on the night of 24-5 March 1455. He was buried in St Peter’s, whence Pius V removed his monument to the Vatican Grotto. If the character and work of Nicholas be taken in combination, he may be regarded as the best Pope of the century. The irritability and self-sufficiency of the successful scholar are small blemishes to set against the decalogue of virtues with which his friend Vespasiano da Bisticci credits him.

The Conclave of 1455 was unusually international, for, as against seven Italians, it comprised four Spaniards, two Frenchmen, a Greek, and a Ruthenian. Of the absentees two were French, two Germans, and one Hungarian. Once again Prospero Colonna and Capranica were the favourites, but both were baulked by the Orsini cardinal, backed by Neapolitan influence. The cardinals tided over the difficulty by electing a Pope whose age and infirmity would make him a nonentity; they forgot that old men are more selfish and more obstinate than younger ones. Calixtus III, Alonso de Borja, Bishop of Valencia, of Catalan and Valencian origin, was seventy-seven or more, and an invalid. Other qualifications were virtue and legal learning. As a diplomat, he had served Martin V in closing the schism in Aragon, and Alfonso in his settlement at Naples.

Calixtus had two passions, the crusade, natural in a Spaniard, and his family. Both were doubtless exaggerated by senility. If it is a libel that he dispersed the library collected by Nicholas, it seems true that the jewelled bindings were torn off, and the scribes, translators, and literary hangers-on discharged. Calixtus had no use for the Renaissance; his learning was purely legal. Art suffered as did literature. Rome should no longer be Christendom’s artistic and literary centre, but its arsenal and dockyard. A considerable fleet was built on the Tiber, with Eugenius IV’s fighting cardinal, Luigi, now Patriarch of Aquileia, in command. Its slight successes sufficed only to stir the Turkish hornets’ nest. Alfonso’s fleet, raised by a crusade tithe, was employed against Genoa; the ships built by Charles VII were reserved for use against Naples. Demands for a tithe from Germany gave the anti-papal party a pretext for insisting on the reforms promised at Constance and Basle. Venice evaded the demand, Florence refused it. France and Burgundy were watching each other, England was absorbed in civil war. Hungary alone stood in the breach at Belgrade, and Skanderbeg in the Albanian mountains. Belgrade at least owed its salvation partly to the Papacy, for its heroic rescuer, Hunyadi, relied on the fiery eloquence of Capistrano and the administrative skill with which the Spaniard, Cardinal Carvajal, organised reliefs at Buda. Hunyadi’s death, however, soon after his victory, took the life out of the defence, and the clouds were at their darkest when Calixtus himself died.

Calixtus was right as to the reality of the Turkish danger, perhaps even as to the possibility of conjuring it. But he had neither tact nor sympathy; he would listen to no advice, and therefore got no aid. His nepotism provoked dark suspicions as to his motives. He conferred cardinalates on his young nephews Rodrigo and Luis, and created Rodrigo’s brother, Pedro, Prefect of the City and Vicar of the great fiefs, Terracina and Benevento. The Catalans, hated in Italy, as when Dante warned King Robert against their rapacious poverty, now dominated Rome, held the Castle of Sant’ Angelo, and swarmed in all the papal fortresses. One of the reasons for Calixtus III’s election had been his close connexion with Alfonso, but throughout his Papacy there was one long quarrel, while in Roman politics he had swung away from the Orsini to the Colonna. When Alfonso died, leaving the kingdom to his bastard Ferrante, Calixtus spurned the engagements of Eugenius and Nicholas, and declared the kingdom lapsed on the ground that Ferrante was a supposititious child. Few doubted that Calixtus meant to bestow Naples on Pedro, just as Pedro’s brother Alexander VI coveted it for Caesar Borgia.

The bed on which the old Pope had passed most of his pontificate was now obviously to become his death-bed. Everywhere the populace was rising against the Catalans. Pedro was forced to sell Sant’ Angelo to the cardinals, and on 6 August 1458 fled to Ostia, whence a Neapolitan ship carried him to Civita Vecchia, where he died. On the evening of Pedro’s flight Calixtus ended his sickly reign. Rodrigo, more courageous than his military brother, had returned to Rome to watch him. In this nephew Calixtus left a damnosa haereditas to Italy and the Church.


On Joanna’s death in 1435 the Neapolitans resolved to have their say, adding to the Council a committee of nobles and citizens, and hoisting the papal banner. Deputies were sent to Rene, but found that the Duke of Burgundy had captured him during the Lorraine Succession war. Alfonso at once revived his claim. Many barons, headed by the Duke of Sessa, resenting the pretensions of the Neapolitans, promised support. The Prince of Taranto, having eluded his mortal enemy, Candola, surprised Capua. Alfonso from Ischia joined in an attack on Gaeta, the key position on the coast, as Capua was on the Roman road. The town, held by a Genoese garrison sent by Visconti, was bombed and starved to the last extremity, when a Genoese fleet appeared. Alfonso’s squadron put out to meet it, but was annihilated off the Isle of Ponza on 5 August 1435. The king was captured with his brothers Henry and John, King of Navarre, Taranto and Sessa, and most of the Sicilian and Aragonese nobility. Peter alone escaped with two ships. Visconti sent secret orders that Alfonso with Taranto and Sessa should be brought by way of Savona to Milan, and the other captives landed at Genoa. At the first interview Alfonso persuaded Visconti that resistance to French intervention in Italy was their common interest. A treaty was formed; Alfonso’s brothers were sent to Aragon to raise troops; Peter was ordered to meet him at La Spezia.

Visconti paid dearly for his generosity. The Genoese, detesting their old Catalan foes, revolted from Visconti, becoming henceforth the main resource of the Angevin dynasty. Peter, sailing from Sicily, surprised Gaeta, almost deserted owing to plague, and brought Alfonso back in February 1436. Meanwhile, in October 1435, Rene’s wife Isabella was rapturously received at Naples. Alfonso was now fighting south of Naples, where the support of the Counts of Nola and Caserta protected his right flank against attack from Apulia. Isabella’s fortunes were very low, when help came from an unexpected quarter. Eugenius IV, himself an exile, sent Vitelleschi to her aid. He relieved the faithful Angevin city of Aquila, and reached Naples. Alfonso called on Taranto to join him at Capua. Vitelleschi intercepted the prince and captured him. The Roman Orsini, who formed the flower of Vitelleschi’s force, insisted on the release of the head of their house. Taranto promised to serve the Pope, though not personally, owing to his affection for Alfonso. The Angevins must almost have won, had not dissensions played a larger part than arms. Candola quarrelled with Vitelleschi for hoisting the papal flag on con­quered cities, on which Vitelleschi made a truce with Alfonso. Isabella reconciled her generals, with the result that Alfonso escaped with a few cavalry from a surprise attack, losing all his treasure and war material. Again the generals quarrelled, Candola retiring to the Abruzzi, Vitelleschi eastwards to amass treasure from the wealth of Apulia. Here Trani, fearing his plundering troops, besieged its own Angevin garrison. Alfonso sent galleys to bombard the castle, while Taranto was secretly raising the province. Vitelleschi, scenting a trap, set sail for Ancona, where later he joined Eugenius at Ferrara. From this moment Aragonese fortunes revived, mainly through Taranto’s support, though Candola succeeded to Vitelleschi’s troops and stores.

On 18 May 1438 René, released from captivity, arrived at Naples. Henceforth, until Alfonso’s final victory in 1442, fighting was continuous, the Angevins usually predominating in the Abruzzi, Alfonso in Apulia and the neighbourhood of Naples. René wandered far and wide to replenish his sieve-like treasury, while Alfonso, in a direct attack on Naples, lost his son Peter. The Castel Nuovo, which had been held for him for eleven years, soon afterwards surrendered. This was more than balanced by the death of Giacomo Candola, whose son had neither his patriotism nor his military genius. Had not Giacomo's service been practically con­fined to Naples, he would have ranked high among contemporary condottieri from whom he was distinguished by his wide hereditary estates in the Abruzzi, his love of learning, and contempt for titles.

It was a sign of coming defeat that Rene sent his wife and children home. He himself was holding Naples, when an entrance by an aqueduct was betrayed. After hard fighting he escaped by the aid of Genoese ships on 2 June 1442. Fighting continued in the Abruzzi and Apulia against Antonio Candola and Giovanni Sforza. Alfonso beat their combined forces near Sulmona, and his generous treatment of Candola did much to enhance his popularity. The remaining Sforzeschi possessions in Apulia and the Abruzzi were picked up in detail, Aquila being the last city to surrender. In a Parliament held at Benevento Alfonso was recognised as king, with succession to his illegitimate son Ferrante, who became Duke of Calabria. The Castel Nuovo was allowed to capitulate by René, who retired to Provence, disgusted with his adventure and all concerned in it. Alfonso’s entry to Naples in February 1443 took the form of a classic Roman triumph. His reception was exuberant, illustrating the old tradition that the Neapolitans always welcomed the last newcomer. Alfonso’s military success profoundly altered his foreign policy. Recog­nition by his papal suzerain became a necessity. He could no longer use Felix as a stick wherewith to beat Eugenius. The Pope’s chief aim was now to eject Sforza from the Vicariate of the March, which, under black­mail, he had conferred upon him, while Sforza had been Alfonso’s chief enemy in his contest with the Angevins. Thus Eugenius granted investiture to Alfonso’s legitimised son Ferrante, on condition of service against Sforza and abandonment of Felix.

Throughout the confused period from 1443 to the death of Eugenius m 1447 Alfonso stood firm to the papal alliance, which intermittently included Milan. His objects were to prevent Sforza’s consolidation of the March, an excellent base for the recovery of his Neapolitan possessions, and also to save Visconti, hard pressed by Florence, Venice, and Sforza, from appealing to Rene or Charles VII. He could have acted more ef­fectually but for the shifting policy of Visconti, who did actually in 1445 intrigue with Rene and the French. The Bracceschi were now, as of old, the constant allies of the Aragonese, while Sforza was befriended by Venice and Florence, the latter always faithful to Anjou. Federigo of Montefeltro, who succeeded in 1444 to Urbino, was usually, though not always, for the Bracceschi, while Sigismondo Malatesta favoured Sforza. Twice campaigns alternated with attempts at peace. In 1444 Francesco Piccinino, marching to co-operate with a Neapolitan fleet, which was at­tacking Fermo, Sforza’s headquarters, was totally defeated at Montolmo, a disaster which probably contributed to his gallant old father’s death. In 1446 it became clear that Visconti was losing, for in September the Venetians were across the Adda, and threatening Milan. Sforza, on receiving a pathetic appeal from his father-in-law, hesitated between the retention of his remaining possessions in the March and the prospect of succession to Milan. Alfonso was eagerly seeking to promote the recon­ciliation, when, in February 1447, Eugenius died.

Alfonso, quartered at Tivoli, had kept order in Rome during the Conclave at which Nicholas V was elected. Pope and king were at once on the friendliest terms in their desire for peace. Sforza, having listened to Visconti’s appeal, was bought out of his last possession, Jesi, by Alfonso, and marched for Milan on 9 August 1447. Before he reached it, Visconti died. Milan was at once rent between Sforzeschi and Bracceschi factions, which again had their background in Naples. The surprise was a claim to the duchy by Alfonso,under a will executed by Visconti; it is remarkable that the Aragonese flag at once floated from the Castello. The alleged will is one of history’s riddles. A summary of the will exists, but even that is not original. In view, however, of Visconti’s romantic friendship for his former captive, his hatred for Sforza, and his recent correspondence with Alfonso expressing his wish to abdicate, it would be unsafe unreservedly to reject its existence.

Alfonso naturally became involved in the Seven Years’ War for the Milanese succession. The prime enemy was Sforza, whose fortunes must be decided in Lombardy, where the Neapolitan king could not effectively intervene. When, however, Cosimo de’ Medici gave support to Sforza, Alfonso directed an attack on Tuscany. He picked a quarrel in 1447 with Rinaldo Orsini, lord of Piombino by marriage with the Appiani heiress. This and the succeeding war of 1452-54 seem to have little importance among larger issues; yet for Alfonso the capture of Piombino had a direct interest. For light-draft galleys the sheltered bays north and south of the peninsula secured a double refuge in a harbourless line of coast. In conjunction with his kingdom of Sardinia, he would have a basis for attack on Genoa, or on Corsica, his old objective, while an Angevin passage from Marseilles to Naples would be endangered. Alfonso obtained aid from Siena, an alliance which remained a recurrent item in Aragonese policy, but the Florentines proved the stronger. Neapolitan galleys entered the port, but the land attack failed, owing to the skill of Sigismondo Malatesta in Florentine service. The net result was the occupation of the Isle of Giglio, off the Argentaro promontory, and Castiglione della Pescaja, a Florentine dependency opposite Elba, together with a vague suzerainty over Piombino. This latter became effective after the death of Rinaldo and his widow, when Emanuele Orsini, one of Alfonso’s closest friends, succeeded.

The war fought in 1452, in alliance with Venice against Florence, brought Ferrante, who commanded, no great credit. A disturbing factor in 1453 was the arrival in Lombardy of Rene, on Florentine invitation. His hope was to promote peace between Venice and Sforza, with a view to an invasion of Naples, but, on finding that this peace was made without his cognisance, he rapidly withdrew. Not a single power really wished for French intervention; all were war-weary. Yet Alfonso refused to join in the treaty of Lodi, because he resisted the surrender of Castiglione. Finally, on Cosimo’s assurance that all proposals for French intervention were at an end, he agreed to the treaty in 1455, reserving his freedom of action against Genoa and Rimini. His subsequent attack on Genoa was most unfortunate, for the city was forced to accept a French protectorate, and Charles VII sent Rene’s son, John of Calabria, as governor. It also brought trouble with the Papacy. Nicholas V’s successor, Calixtus III, though an Aragonese subject, resented this war as withdrawing Alfonso’s fleet from service in the crusade, which was the old Spaniard’s monomania. The siege was still in progress when, on 7 June 1458, Alfonso died in Naples of malaria contracted while he was hunting in Apulia.

All deductions made, Alfonso’s reign was a great one. He ruled both kingdoms of Sicily; he had added to Naples by papal grant the long-disputed fiefs of Terracina and Benevento. His military career, though chequered, was distinguished by audacity and rapidity of movement; his courage, combined with generosity to theconquered, struck the imagination. A passion for learning and a love of splendour revived the traditions of the Angevin Court at its best; this was calculated to attract the peculiarly cen- trifugal nobility to the seat of power. The settlement of the kingdom was difficult. Alfonso relied, not only on Catalan mercenaries, but on nobles of rank from his Spanish and Sicilian States, and these must be rewarded. Thus a fresh stratum was superimposed on the conglomerate of Norman, German, and Angevin feudalism. Chief among the newcomers was Indico d'Avalos, who was married to the Marquess of Pescara's heiress, and whose de­scendants amply repaid the Aragonese dynasty for its founder’s generosity. This, however, caused a rupture with the Count of Cotrone in Calabria, whose loyal service raised hopes in him of the Pescara inheritance. His wide estates were confiscated, but his personal wealth enabled him to play a peaceful part at Court, to reappear hereafter. The Prince of Taranto, to whom Alfonso chiefly owed his success, received such accretions to his power that he overshadowed the Crown, causing suspicion in Alfonso and his heir. Another expedient was intermarriage with the higher nobility. Thus Ferrante was married to Taranto’s favourite niece, and Alfonso’s natural daughter to the Duke of Sessa, with the principality of Rossano as her dower. Alfonso, however, realised that his dynasty mainly rested on international diplomacy; Ferrante’s daughter Leonora was engaged to Sforza’s third son, and his heir, Alfonso, to Ippolita Sforza. All four were young children, but it was a token of the common interest of the two dynasties in resistance to the house of Anjou and Orleans.

Alfonso’s instincts were autocratic, though not so obvious as those of his heir, which caused resentment before his accession. A strong standing army was contemplated, but did not become operative until the following reign. Wide administrative changes were made in favour of centralisation. The old property tax, payable in six rates, which had been farmed, was replaced by a universal hearth tax, in return for a corresponding measure of salt, based upon a census periodically renewed. The toll on cattle moving between the lowlands of Apulia and the upland pastures of the Abruzzi, always one of the Crown’s chief resources, was placed under direct control. Judicial reforms brought the subjects nearei* to the Crown, though Alfonso was forced to enhance the independence of the greater barons by granting full criminal justice, hitherto very sparingly conceded. For the last three years power was falling into Ferrante’s hands, for Alfonso, tired out with campaigns and the supervision of his several kingdoms, surrendered himself to the gratification of his tastes and senses.


The Conclave of August 1458 was short but exciting, for election lay between a French and an Italian candidate, the latter backed by Milan and Naples. Cardinal Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen, of royal blood Pope Pius II and enormous wealth, attended the second scrutiny in possession of eleven promises, one short of winning. He himself had to read the votes drawn from the chalice on the altar. To his horror, Piccolomini headed the list with nine. The method termed Accession was then adopted. After long delay Borgia voted for Piccolomini, and then another acceded. One more vote was needed. The veteran Prospero Colonna rose, whereon Bessarion and Estouteville tried to drag him out, but he shouted:  “I vote for the Cardinal of Siena and make him Pope.” Thus Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini became Pope, taking the title of Pius II in honour of his classical name­sake, the Pious JEneas.

More has been written on Pius II than on all the Popes of the century together. Of this abiding interest his personality must be the secret. There is a note of tragedy in his death, but there is no striking episode in his career. His reign is of less importance than those of Martin V, Eugenius IV, or Sixtus IV; in the encouragement of art and letters Nicholas V stands high above him. Yet his fascination is always fresh, and biographers jostle round him. The main interest is neither political nor ecclesiastical, but always personal; he was intensely human, a man who might have lived in any age. Posthumous fame he owes, no doubt, to his literary gifts. He was, perhaps, the best man of letters and the best speaker who ever wore the tiara. His versatility was marvellous: he was poet, sacred and profane, essayist on education, rhetoric, and horse­flesh, a novelist so improper that his work was early translated into all European languages, geographer, historian, and, above all, diarist. His baffling character puzzled his contemporaries, and its ingredients have been disputed ever since.

So also is his success a puzzle. Others have climbed from a position equally lowly to St Peter’s chair, but have usually been pushed up through one of the great Religious Orders for talents which naturally procure promotion—saintliness,learning, administrative capacity. Aeneas had none of these qualifications; the looseness and shiftiness of his earlier life were against him till his very death. He belonged to no Order, he was emi­nently individualist; he won his way by personal qualities. He had not really the genius to mould circumstances, nor, perhaps, even the stuff to fight them. He influenced others by his power of language, but he was rather the receptive medium than the motive force. The impulse came from stronger natures or stronger circumstances. His success was the victory of style, of rhetoric, of the new diplomacy, of unequalled experience in international complications. That his negotiations turned largely on ecclesiastical questions was fortuitous; he complained himself of the obstacles which theology threw in the way of diplomacy; he had in fact reached the Papacy through the couliws of the Imperial Chancery. If impression was the key to his character, expression was his ladder to success.

The interest in the Pope’s secular career has exceeded that in his pontificate, but for this the reader must be referred to his biographers. The essentials are, however, his long service for the Council of Basle, in which he rose to the highest secretarial rank, his desertion of its democratic and anti-papal principles for the views of the German neutrality party, and then, in the atmosphere of Vienna, his conviction that the two monarchies, papal and imperial, must lean upon each other. Under the guidance of his friend and patron, the Chancellor Kaspar Schlick, he became the chief agent in the reconciliation of the Empire under Eugenius and Nicholas. At Vienna too he met the two apostles of the crusade, Cesarini, whose friendship he had enjoyed in earlier days at Rome, and Carvajal. From them he derived his passionate belief in the necessity of a crusade, and his close knowledge of East European conditions.

From his election Pius made the crusade his chief object, but for four years was hampered by the Neapolitan succession war, which reacted on the Papal States, connecting itself with raids by Piccinino, revolt of Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini, troubles with Colonna and Savelli, wild disorder in Rome itself. At his accession Piccinino, inspired by Naples, was occupying Assisi and other places, part of the State once held by his kinsman Braccio. Pius, however, had formed friendship with Sforza and Ferrante when he had accompanied Frederick III on his wedding visit to Naples. Unable to leave for the crusade congress, to be held at Mantua, while Ferrante’s succession was unsettled, he recognised his right, but without prejudice to other claimants. Rene’s envoy had to admit that his master could not aid in the expulsion of Piccinino from papal territories, which was at the moment the vital issue. The condottiere did by Ferrante’s orders withdraw, after Pius had started for Mantua. The bull summoning all princes to a congress had been issued in October 1458. In January 1459 he left Rome, much to the citizens’ disgust, and arrived at Mantua on 27 May. Here his reception was hearty, as it was at Perugia and Ferrara, but Siena received him coldly, as he forced the bourgeois government, the Nine, to admit the gentry, his own class, to office. Florence was polite but non-committal; Cosimo was conveniently ill. The temper of the Bolognese was so ugly that an escort of Milanese cavalry was required. The congress opened on 1 June, but was disap­pointing from the first. Disaffection, almost amounting to mutiny, spread among his very cardinals. No European sovereign arrived, and only Ferrante sent representatives. At length in August came a brilliant embassy from Burgundy, followed by Francesco Sforza in person. The first real session was held in September, and Pius left Mantua in January 1460. Results were nugatory. The Emperor thwarted operations by land, claiming Hungary from the elected king, Matthias Corvinus. The Germans did endorse a previous promise made to Nicholas, and perhaps the most interesting visitor was Albert Achilles of Hohenzollern. France, offended by Pius’ support of Ferrante, refused all aid; Rene utilised a fleet raised for a crusade to land his son in Naples. Sforza, personally friendly, disliked the project; Venice made impossible conditions for a fleet; Florence, nervous for her Eastern trade, would make no public engagement. The Turk was left to overrun the eastern shores of the Adriatic.

In August 1459, open rebellion (described in detail later) broke out against Ferrante, and René’s son John came to the rebels’ aid. Next summer the king lost his ar my at the River Sarno, and Pius’ vassals, Federigo of Urbino and Alessandro Sforza, were beaten in the Abruzzi. Pius thought Ferrante’s cause hopeless; only Sforza’s entreaties and Ferrante’s bribes kept him firm. One nephew, Andrea, received Alfonso’s former conquests in Tuscany; Terracina, always in dispute, was ceded to Pius and occupied by Antonio Piccolomini, who then married Ferrante’s bastard daughter, becoming Duke of Amalfi and Grand Justiciar. In 1460 Sigismondo Malatesta had been added to the Pope’s enemies. Pius had reconciled him, when in sore straits, to Federigo of Urbino, mulcting him of Sinigaglia and Mondavio for the papal benefit. Sigismondo now broke out, recovered these towns, and beat Federigo. Pius shewed real determination; he regarded the semi-pagan lord of Rimini as both a spiritual and temporal enemy. His effigy was solemnly burnt at Rome, and Pius fought on until Sigismondo’s defeat was complete. He was allowed to recover Rimini, while Novello, his brother, held the other family fief of Cesena; both fiefs were, however, to revert to the Papacy on failure of legitimate male issue.

Rome had never forgiven Pius for his departure; there was no trade and little public order during his absence. A band of genteel hooligans took advantage of the confusion. Their head was Tiburzio, whose father, Porcaro’s brother-in-law, had lost his life in the Conspiracy. He gave a political, republican complexion to social unrest. He was in touch with Malatesta and Piccinino, and obtained from the Savelli a base at Palombara in the Campagna. While the Colonna conspired with the Savelli in the south, Everso of Anguillara raided Roman territory from the north. From the Sabina Piccinino threatened Rome, the gates of which Tiburzio was to secure. In October 1460 Pius realised that his long absence must end. Escorted by cavalry lent by Sforza, he entered Rome. Tiburzio, riding in to release a comrade, was greeted with cries of “Too late, Too late.” He was captured and executed, but until July 1461 the Savelli held out in Palombara. Whenever Pius left Rome, and he was seldom there, discontent broke into disorder.

If Pius was neither popular nor successful in Rome, he surpassed any other Pope in his knowledge of the territory between Rome and Siena. He loved the country with a quite modern passion; his life at times was a perpetual picnic, which makes delightful reading in his Commentaries. His kindliness enabled him to allay the rancorous party hatred which cleft every town in Umbria and Papal Tuscany. His one great artistic feat was the creation of his native village Corsignano into a township, named Pienza, with piazza, cathedral, episcopal palace, town-hall, and public well, and the Piccolomini palace commanding all. The cardinals, little appreciative of country life, were expected to build palaces. This little toy town still remains intact, the very epitome of Renaissance structural art.

In 1462-63 the Pope’s plans for a crusade took shape. Circumstances were now favourable. The celebrated discovery of alum at Tolfa in papal territory gave prospects of large profits. The Turks now possessed the mines in Asia Minor on which Europe had relied. Small quantities, indeed, existed in Ferrante’s dominions, and when Pius requested the Christian powers to give Tolfa the monopoly of supply, some friction was caused. The Neapolitan war was ending to the disadvantage of the Angevins. The Doge Prospero Malipiero, who had consistently promoted peace, was dead; the Turkish attack on Venetian colonies, and their conquest of Bosnia in 1463, were forcing Venice into war. Peace between the Emperor and Corvinus enabled her to conclude an offensive alliance with Hungary against the Turk. Skanderbeg was fighting successfully in Albania, where the little ports would be valuable for a landing. Dan­gerous illness frightened Philip of Burgundy into engaging to fulfil early promises. Such a combination, with the aid of Genoa and Ferrante, would have been formidable. The Pope’s determination to head the crusade excited enthusiasm among the middle and lower classes through­out Europe.

With March 1464 chilling winds set in. Louis XI, always an inveterate enemy, forbade the Duke of Burgundy to fulfil his vow, and Philip, now recovered, was glad of the excuse. Sforza, after long excuses, detached Genoa. The French cardinals, always violently opposed, worked upon their colleagues; in the Papal States themselves tithes and contributions were refused. German crusaders flocked into Italy before arms and supplies were ready. When Pius left Rome, he could rely on no aid whatever except from these crusaders, a Venetian fleet under an unwilling doge, and the possibility of meeting Corvinus at Ragusa. It was a mad enter­prise, but the fault was that of Europe at large, for Pius had devoted all his health, wealth, and talents to making the crusade a substantial reality, and of its necessity later European history is the proof.

As a forlorn hope Pius took the Cross; he would shame European princes into following. The actual campaign would be farcical, were it not pathetic. A river barge contained the handful of cardinals and secretaries. The very first night, Pius was too ill to leave it. The drowning of a single boatman upset the champion who was to lead the hosts of Europe to death or glory. Leaving the waterway, the little party struggled over the Apennines under a scorching sun, dropping one and then another from fever or white feather. The curtains of the Pope’s litter must be drawn, that he might not see craven crusaders flocking homeward. Arrived at Ancona, from the bishop’s palace on the headland Pius saw no Venetian fleet. Below was gathered a riff-raff of crusaders, clamouring for food, selling their arms to buy a passage home, men whom the Pope could only pay with indulgences, which many of them sorely needed. Meanwhile across the narrow sea the greatest soldier-statesman of his age, the Sultan Mahomet II, stretched out his hand against the Christian republic of Ragusa, which cried for help. A septuagenarian cardinal and two ill-found galleys were all that the head of Christendom could offer. Day after day fever fought against the will. At length Pius was carried to the window to see the Venetian fleet sail in, a majestic fleet with the world’s first admiral, the doge, on board, but a doge so sceptical that he sent his doctor ashore to discover whether the Pope was ill or only shamming. Pius proved his good faith by dying within the second day.

The crusade was a fiasco, and this was the result of European politics. Pius II’s diplomacy, which had won him the tiara, ended in almost general failure. This was, perhaps, due to the impressionable side of his character. His papacy has an antiquarian flavour. He seemed to be playing at being a Pope of old, though he was sufficiently in earnest. Just as his curiosity was excited by every relic of ancient Rome, so his whole nature was impressed by the claims and glories of the Papacy, which, in the words of Hobbes, was none other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting throned upon the grave thereof. For Pius the Papacy was no petty Italian principality, but the world ruler. Nourished in the democratic atmosphere of the Council, he became the stoutest assertor of Papal Supremacy over all powers temporal or spiritual. Of this his bull Execrabilis of January 1460, condemning all who appeal to a Council to the penalties of heresy and treason, is the most positive expression. In its own day a brutum fulmen, an unexploded bomb, it has since been treasured in the papal armoury among the most effective weapons of the extremest ultramontane claims. With this new idealism he lost his diplomatic acumen, and failed to realise facts. This was the secret of his failure with Louis XI, with George Podebrady of Bohemia, even of his heroic championship of the crusade. His troubles with these kings concern mainly their respective countries, and can only be touched on here.

Charles VII had protested against the bull Execrabilis, his death in July 1461 seemed to give Pius an easy victory. In December Louis XI annulled the Pragmatic Sanction. Rome was triumphant until it ap­peared that its practical abolition depended upon the Pope’s abandonment of Ferrante. Louis conspired with Pius’ enemies in Germany, dissuaded Philip of Burgundy from the crusade, coquetted with Podebrady’s idea of a secular crusade, headed by the French king, in opposition to the Pope’s traditional supremacy as champion of Christendom.

The relations with Podébrady were equally disappointing. Both Pope and the elective king were genuinely anxious for conciliation. The latter had been crowned by Catholic bishops, and tendered his obedience. He held that he was no heretic, that his position under the Compacts of Basle corresponded to that of the French king under the Pragmatic Sanction. Pius would be content with nothing less than the abrogation of the Compacts, while Podebrady realised that this would alienate the majority of his subjects, to whom he owed his crown. One of Pius’ last acts was a bull denouncing Podebrady and his kingdom for heresy and schism.

In Germany alone did Pius meet with any success. This was due to persistency in principles, which lost him the friendship of other States. In these too he had to deal with national ideals and strong rulers. His long German experience had taught him that it was always possible to divide his most dangerous opponents, the great nobles. He had the unfailing support of the Emperor, who had a tenacity and diplomatic sense which were to serve him well in his chequered career. The centres of disturbance were Mainz and Tyrol, which became linked by Gregory of Heimburg, a clever, patriotic, unmannerly German, who, after publicly insulting Pius at Mantua, became attorney and irritant for his enemies in turn, passing from the Pope’s former pupil, Sigismund of Tyrol, to Diether of Mayence, and thence to Podébrady. The quarrel with Sigis­mund, inherited from Calixtus, was caused by Nicholas of Cusa, Bishop of Brixen, who forced upon his diocese the reforming principles of Basle. He chose as object lesson the aristocratic nunnery of Sonnenburg. Sigismund, as its protector, violently opposed him, in the face of excom­munication, appealing to a Council, for Pius the deadliest of offences. This might have been a storm in a tea-cup, had Sigismund not joined the disobedient Elector of Mayence in a revolt which spread through Germany. This lesser quarrel was only closed by the Emperor after the deaths of Cusa and Pius.

The larger conflict arose on a disputed election for the see of Mainz between Diether and Adolf of Nassau; it then became involved in the great war between Hohenzollern and Wittelsbachs. The Pope’s legate, the fiery old Bessarion, threatened the princes, creating the impression that the Crusade tithe was compulsory. Both parties joined against Pope and Emperor; all Germany clamoured for a Council, and was ready to revolt against both spiritual and temporal heads. Pius sent agents who dis­counted Bessarion’s wild statements, and played upon the invariable divisions between the princes. He then deposed Diether and recognised Adolf, whose capture of Mayence, in October 1462, was the deciding factor. Rupert of Bavaria, Archbishop-elect of Cologne, negotiated a peace in October 1464. Thus Pius could claim that he had triumphed over his German enemies, though this was mainly due to other agencies.

Pius II is, without question, one of the most living figures in papal history. Yet it cannot be claimed that his was a great pontificate. He added slightly to the extension of the papal territorial authority, and through his incessant intervention in European affairs, and especially in his support of the Aragonese dynasty, left the prestige of the Papacy higher than his immediate predecessors. His nepotism and provincial favouritism have been much condemned. He filled high places with his nipoti, as was natural in a Pope always poor and saddled with peculiarly prolific relations. His chief favourite, Antonio, was enriched at the expense of Naples, not of the Church. The cardinalate bestowed upon Francesco Todeschini-Piccolomini was justified by his election to the Papacy in succession to Alexander VI. Posts large and small were monopolised by his fellow-citizens, who were at least superior to the hated Catalans of Calixtus. The Sienese were unpopular, but so were the inhabitants of every Italian State with every other.

Pius, as Pope, is described as a little man with back somewhat bent, and a scanty fringe of hair, prematurely white. A pale face was lit up by smiling eyes, which, however, could Hash fire, if his hot temper were aroused. His health had always been weak; gout he described as quite an old companion. Yet in spite of pains in head and feet, or acute agony in the waist, he never shirked work or refused an audience; the only sign was a twitching of the mouth, or the pressure of his teeth upon his lip. Whatever his faults, Pius had real distinction, a brave heart in a feeble frame, and an ideal none the less high for being hopeless.

The cardinals utilised the vacancy to frame capitulations more stringent than ever in limitation of papal autocracy, and then elected Marco Barbo, nephew of Eugenius IV. He was a wealthy Venetian, trained for business, but tempted by prospects of high promotion under his papal uncle. Gossip said that he wished to take the name Formosus, which, however, might be taken to refer to his handsome face and figure, of which he was notoriously vain; so he contented himself with the title Paul II. Lavish in hospitality, kindly in word and deed, shrinking from the suffering of men or animals, he was deservedly popular. Once Pope, he determined to gather into his own hands the threads of curial power, to introduce workmanlike centralisation. He redrafted the capitulations in a monarchical sense, covered the text with his fair, fat hand, and forced the cardinals to subscribe. Bessarion struggled against this, but the stout­hearted Carvajal alone resisted to the end. In spite of this opening, his relations with his cardinals were fairly good, for lie was just and generous As a sop, he increased the dignity of the college; the red biretta and the damask mitre,hi therto confined to the Pope, were now granted to cardinals, and the poorer members were subsidised. Paul fully appreciated the work of those who had opposed him^such as Bessarion and Carvajal, the flower of a somewhat blemished flock.

If Paul would not submit to an oligarchy of cardinals, still less would he tolerate a republic of letters. A secretarial bureaucracy had grown up in the College of Seventy Abbreviators. It contained many leading humanists and others who had bought their seats. Paul broke up its independent monopoly, restoring its control to the Vice-Chancellor. This was never forgiven, and has injured Paul's reputation throughout all time, for Platina, who became papal historian, led the counter-attack in a nviolent letter and was put to torture. The malcontents organised themselves in the home of Pomponius Laetus, the most extreme of antiquarian hu­manists, into the so-called Roman Academy. In view of the actions of Cola di Rienzo, Porcaro, and even Tiburzio, this affectation of old Roman republicanism might take a dangerous political and anti-Christian complexion. The club, suspected of a conspiracy against the Pope's life, was raided by police; three of the four alleged ringleaders fled, and the unlucky Platina again paid the penalty. There was no strong evidence of con­spiracy, and the prosecution was dropped. Members of the club bore old Roman names, vapoured against the government of priests, were pagan in their cups, making libations to heathen deities, and disbelieved in the immortality of the soul. They stood outside the shadow of ever-widening papal power, and were hostile to it. Their heresies were, indeed, affecting the upper classes throughout Italy, the papal feudatory, Sigismondo Malatesta, being a striking example. Paul, unable to speak Latin, was not a man of letters but of business, to whom the conceited humanists were repugnant in theii' boast that princely reputations were at their disposal.

With the Roman people Barbo, as cardinal and Pope, was popular. A true Venetian, he had the sense for colour and magnificence which was beginning to make his native city the show-place of Italy. Paul, as Nicholas V, would make Rome a worthy capital, but with a more popular aim. His palace, at the bottom of the chief street, if severe without, was gorgeous in every internal detail. The piazza into which the street expanded was, as that of San Marco at Venice, to be the centre of Roman life. Lately an open-air garage for the distribution of tramcars, it was then the scene of Carnival sports and Gargantuan banquets. Paul initiated the celebrated races down the Corso, since named after them, to the winning posts by his palace. The huge processions were secularised, becoming a medley serious and humorous, pagan and Christian. Paul from his loggia would scatter small coins, and laugh at the games till his sides ached. Great care was devoted to sanitation, to control of the food supply, and to the codification of statutes, judicial and financial. This latter was somewhat at the expense of municipal independence, for, in finance, the Vatican government was superseding that of the Capitol. Paul's personal tastes corresponded to his public ostentation. He loved fine clothes, and was an expert collector of jewels, taking his choicest gems to bed with him, as a child his toys.

During this reign the Orsini and Colonna were comparatively quiet. Public security was assured by the overthrow of the house of Anguillara, which coined false money and kept the Roman-Tuscan frontier in uproar. Paul was guilty of no secular nepotism. In his hopes for papal expansion he suffered a serious disappointment. The chiefs of the two Malatesta branches of Rimini and Cesena died without legitimate male heirs, and their States should have lapsed to their suzerain. Sigismondo’s clever young bastard, Roberto, who was in papal service, offered to enter Rimini and restore it to the Church, but, once there, he kept it for himself. A general Italian war was only prevented by the panic caused on the Turkish capture of Negropont, but Paul had to submit to a rebuff. Among feudatories his favourite was the genial Borso d’Este, who by a personal visit obtained his heart’s long desire, the title of Duke of Ferrara. With the Italian powers Paul was usually on polite terms, except for frequent rubs with Ferrante, once leading to minor hostilities.

European relations were more eventful. The reign began in friction with Louis XI, but the king played fast and loose with the Pragmatic Sanction, which was finally annulled to Paul’s great satisfaction. The Emperor Frederick proved his friendship by another visit to Rome, where the rival universal Powers played the somewhat humorous part of twin brothers, walking hand in hand, and changing sides at intervals. Paul contributed largely to the efforts of Hungary and of Skanderbeg in Albania, but the crusade hung fire, in spite of the loss of Negropont, second only to that of Constantinople, as deciding the predominance of the new Turkish navy in Levantine waters. The conflict with Podebrady was a legacy from Pius II. Paul entered into it without scruple or reserve, finding willing allies in the Emperor and Matthias of Hungary, both of whom coveted Bohemia. Paul’s own scheme was the disintegration of the kingdom into principalities. He flooded the country with fanatical or disreputable crusaders, but made no great headway. Pod&brady was, indeed, forced to abandon his ideal of a Czech hereditary kingdom, and to recommend the succession of the Polish prince Vladislav, who, though a Catholic, accepted the Utraquist political system. In March 1471 he died, and Paul was left to decide between Catholic claimants. His sudden death, on 28 July 1471, relieved him from this dilemma.


By Alfonso’s death, Naples, though officially styled the kingdom of Sicily, was again separated from the Island, as also from Sardinia and the Aragonese kingdoms, which all fell to his brother John. Ferrante’s succession seemed insecure. John’s son Charles, on hearing of his uncle’s illness, had slipped away from Rome to Naples. His claim would find support with the Catalan officials and mercenaries, and from several barons, who feared Ferrante’s anti-feudal policy. He, however, rode the towns, finding acceptance with,the people, who greeted him as the re ‘taliano, a proof that in him the Aragonese dynasty was Italianised. Charles sailed away, followed by an exodus of Catalans. Complete recognition ensued, Ferrante remitting taxation and promising to confine offices to Neapolitans. His triumph was only apparent. The Prince of Taranto, disappointed in Charles, turned to John, who, fully occupied with Catalonia and Navarre, supported Ferrante’s cause. Calixtus, however, as has been seen, repudiated Ferrante’s claim.

Ferrante’s general position seemed favourable, for Cosimo de’ Medici and Sforza strongly supported him, disliking the French occupation of Genoa. Ferrante prudently withdrew his besieging fleet, hoping to re­concile his old enemies, already tired of the French. The issue was simplified by Calixtus III’s death, for Pius II was well disposed towards Ferrante. Meanwhile, however, baronial troubles had begun. Candola and the town of Aquila raised rebellion in the Abruzzi. In Apulia, Taranto played a double game, exacting concessions, and using them against Ferrante. In Calabria the Marquess of Cotrone, restored to his possessions on Taranto’s petition, stirred up baronial revolt, while there was a peasant outbreak against taxation. These movements were sup­pressed by Avalos, Campobasso, afterwards notorious, and by Ferrante in person. Cotrone’s arrest during negotiations was a foretaste of Ferrante’s future methods. All this time Taranto intrigued with John of Calabria, who, in October 1459, sailed with Genoese ships for Naples. His fleet, ill-equipped, failed here, and was returning, when John was welcomed at the mouth of the Volturno by Ferrante’s brother-in-law, the Duke of Sessa. Rebellion blazed up in the Terra di Lavoro, the Abruzzi, Apulia, and Calabria. Campobasso deserted to the barons; Piccinino, disgusted by Ferrante’s peace with Pius against all his Aragonese traditions, invaded the Abruzzi; Cosimo’s influence alone prevented a large Florentine subsidy to John.

The war which followed is characteristic of Neapolitan campaigns. The movements in Calabria and the Abruzzi were generally distinct, while the main forces manoeuvred between the Terra di Lavoro and Apulia. The objective was often the control of the cattle tolls on the Apulian-Abruzzi frontier. Thus in 1460 Ferrante thrust himself between these provinces to secure this source of revenue. Then he counter-marched to Capua to meet the papal contingent, and crush Sessa. John followed him, and Ferrante, now the stronger, met him at the River Sarno, east of Vesuvius. The Angevin fleet was beaten at the mouth of the river; the nobles were drifting towards Ferrante; in a few days Avalos with his Apulian army would have joined. But Ferrante, short of money and supplies, risked a surprise; his troops plundered; the Angevins rallied, and Ferrante’s force was annihilated; the king escaped to Naples on 7 July with only twenty horse. A fortnight later Piccinino beat Ferrante’s allies, Alessandro Sforza and the Count of Urbino, at San Fabiano, which laid Apulia open. Ferrante’s strongest supporters, especially the Sanseyerini, deserted him. John might have taken Naples, but for wasting time in trying to starve it by occupying the neighbouring towns. Ferrante and his queen raised money by fair means or foul. The story tells that the latter sat at the gate or paraded the streets with a collecting box, and that she journeyed to Taranto, disguised as a friar, to persuade her uncle to join the royalists. Ferrante indeed placed reliance on the widening rift between the prince and John. Yet he was so hard pressed that he thought of surrendering his kingdom to his uncle, John of Aragon, now only too willing to accept. This alarmed the Italian powers, who realised the danger to Italy from Spain. Pius was kept true by the territorial concessions and bestowal of family honours, before mentioned; yet he long wavered under pressure from Louis XI, who, succeeding in 1461, offered to annul the Pragmatic Sanction, if he would support the Angevins.

The war now went in Ferrante’s favour. Sforza lent him his best general, Roberto Sanseverino. In Apulia Skanderbeg, having crossed from Albania, created a useful diversion. The barons swung from side to side, until the Sanseverini definitely joined the king, which brought over Calabria and the Salerno peninsula. The towns often preferred royal to baronial rule. Sforza rendered signal service in provoking revolt in Genoa against the French; John found it difficult to obtain supplies and naval support. The decisive battle was fought in the autumn of 1462 at Troja in Apulia, where Ferrante and Alessandro Sforza beat John and Piccinino. The Prince of Taranto, long lukewarm, changed sides, and soon after died, whereupon his huge estates reverted to the Crown. Piccinino returned to Aragonese service; Sessa brought the Terra di Lavoro back to obedience. Curiously enough, John’s last success was the betrayal to him of Ischia and the Castel d’Uovo. Rene joined him from Provence, but, on recognising the hopelessness of the cause, both sailed home. The king had profited by his continuous occupation of Naples, whence, acting on interior lines, he could strike north, south, or east, as occasion served.

Ferrante now had twenty-one years of undisputed rule. His first act was to entrap Candola and Sessa, in defiance of the capitulations. He then enticed Piccinino to Naples, and executed him. The condottiere had married Sforza’s natural daughter Drusilla, but her father, under whose guarantee he went, was suspected of complicity. His guilt is still a subject of dispute. Ippolita Sforza was on her way to marry Alfonso, but her journey was suspended; to outward appearance, the Neapolitan-Milanese alliance was endangered. With the death of Cosimo de’ Medici, Francesco Sforza, and Pius II, Ferrante lost his closest friends. Galeazzo Sforza and Piero de’ Medici held, indeed, to the Triple Alliance, but Paul II, as usual, reversed his predecessor’s policy, insisting upon the Neapolitan tribute remitted by Pius in consideration of civil war expenses. Ferrante, in return, demanded back the county of Sora, temporarily occupied by Pius, and aided the Orsini in holding the city of Tolfa, which commanded the papal alum mines. The Triply Alliance was tested by the mysterious campaign of Bartolomeo Colleone and the Florentine exiles, with the suspected approval of Venice. Ferrante reinforced the Milanese and Florentine forces by a large army under Alfonso. Colleone’s progress was checked by the battle of Molinella, near Imola, and Paul brought about a general peace in 1468. Next year, however, he was in actual collision with the allies in his quarrel with Roberto Malatesta over the occupation of Rimini. In this campaign Alfonso supported Paul’s enemies. The shock caused by the Turkish capture of Negropont in May 1470 brought peace. Piero de" Medici had died in the previous December, an event destined to alter the relations of the Italian powers. In July 1471 Paul II himself died.


On 9 August 1471 Francesco della Rovere, General of the Franciscan Order, was elected Pope by eighteen cardinals, all Italians, except Bessarion, Borgia, and Estouteville. He was an unexceptionable candidate. Born of humble parents living near Savona, he owed his rise to his own ability as scholar, university lecturer, and preacher. The Eastern question was still prominent, and, to further a crusade, Bessarion, Borgia, and Barbo were dispatched on missions to the several European powers. All three completely failed, Bessarion dying on the way home. Pope Sixtus IV was really in earnest; the sums expended were large, the Papal-Venetian fleet, sailing to the Levant under Cardinal Caraffa, mustered 89 galleys. Early successes were considerable. Smyrna and Satalia in Anatolia, through which contact might be gained with the Turcoman Uzun Hasan, were captured. Then followed the invariable dissensions: Neapolitans, having quarrelled with Venetians, sailed away; with winter Papalists and Venetians parted company. A second failure in 1473 and the defeat of Uzun Hasan con­vinced Sixtus that a crusade was impracticable without active support from all Italian powers, and that these, however friendly, despised the Papacy as being weak and non-military. In striking contrast to his previous career, he determined to make it strong, to place it on a level with the four greater powers as an armed temporal State.

To this policy the obstacles were numerous. There was no subordinate expert council, no secular court to dazzle the populace, no sons and daughters wherewith to buy alliances, no reliable generals, such as the Neapolitan princes, to lead potential papal armies. The territories under direct control were scattered and difficult of access. Not only the most important cities, Ferrara and Bologna, were now ruled by families osten­sibly independent, but Faenza, Forli, Pesaro, Urbino and Rimini, Perugia and Citta di Castello were held by citizen despots, while Ravenna was in the claws of the Venetian lion. Worse than all, the whole country, north, east, and south of Rome was held by the Orsini and Colonna, or families attached to them. How then was Sixtus to form a consolidated State?

His answer was the adoption of a methodical nepotism; his nephews should personify the princes of a ruling house. Recent Popes had given fiefs and cardinalates to relations, but had not converted nepotism into a regular administrative system, and an engine for expansion. Sixtus would revert to the policy of Boniface VIII, though he lacked the close grip upon his nephews which that masterful Pope exercised. It has been thought that, from time to time, Piero or Girolamo Riario, or Giuliano della Rovere, held the real control; the Pope’s inordinate affection for the two former early led to the belief that they were his sons, but for this there is no evidence. Yet Sixtus possessed much intellectual force, he had never been a recluse, and had ruled over his Order.

The first essential was to subordinate the oligarchy of cardinals to the monarchy. This was begun, in defiance of the capitulations, by the elevation of Piero Riario and Giuliano della Rovere, youths without reputation or experience. The college was then packed with seven or eight relations or obscure Genoese satellites. Piero had the congenial task of creating a secular Renaissance Court. The Pope could not yet dine with ladies, nor ride out with a suite of mummers, musicians, race-horses, and sporting dogs. This function Piero, friar though he was, understood to perfection. His entertainment of Leonora, Ferrante’s daughter, on her way to marry Ercole d'Este, was a five days’ wonder. On Whit-Sunday after mass a drama on Susannah and the Elders was presented as suitable. All Rome delighted in the brilliant spectacles, the lack of which made priestly rule unpopular. Piero publicly flaunted his chief mistress sparkling with jewels from head to slippers. No one could better represent the Papacy abroad. He travelled in princely style to Milan, Mantua, and Venice, always the gay popular spendthrift, with powers of persuasion, personal or pecuniary. Whether’ he had real ability is uncertain, for his pace was too fast to stay; dissipation killed him at the age of 28 in December 1473. His position passed to his cousin Giuliano, serious, purposeful, and dignified, who could suitably dispense public hospitality, while concealing his private vices.

For marriage alliances Sixtus utilised his lay nephews. Leonardo della Rovere, created Prefect of Rome, wedded a bastard daughter of Ferrante. Girolamo Riario, now the Pope’s chief favourite, without any of his brother’s charm, was a greedy, brutal vulgarian, brought up in either a grocery shop or a notary’s office. To him was given Galeazzo Sforza’s illegitimate daughter, the celebrated Caterina. As a marriage settlement Sforza sold to Sixtus his possession of Imola, a papal fief. Giovanni della Rovere made a match ultimately of more substantial value than those of Leonardo and Girolamo; he won the daughter of Federigo of Urbino, whose prestige as soldier and statesman far surpassed his material wealth. As his son died childless, the lowly house of della Rovere succeeded the Montefeltri, who boasted the bluest blood in Italy.

Sixtus at his accession was on the best terms with the members of the Triple Alliance. Papal favour was essential to Ferrante’s monarchical authority over his baronage. This explained the gift of his peculiarly plain and stupid daughter to the Pope’s nephew. Sixtus remitted the tribute with its arrears, the bone of contention under Paul II, contenting himself with the receipt of the customary white palfrey. Ferrante visited Rome during the Jubilee of 1475; he began to regard papal friendship as even more important than adhesion to Florence and Milan. The rift in the Triple Alliance probably originated in the sale of Imola to Sixtus. Florence had previously arranged the purchase of Imola. She was always sensitive as to the towns on the high road south of Bologna, for the Apennine passes, which led to these, were the outlets for her Adriatic trade. Hitherto Sixtus had showered favours on the Medici, appointing them as papal bankers, and granting special concessions in the alum trade of Tolfa. He had even aided in suppressing the revolt of Volterra. Imola changed all this. Sixtus transferred his banking account to the rival house of Pazzi, which had financed the purchase. Lorenzo refused to admit to the see of Pisa his personal enemy Salviati, whom the Pope had nominated. Mobilisation of Florentine troops at Borgo San Sepolcro, when Sixtus was punishing his recalcitrant feudatories hard by at Citta di Castello, was regarded as a hostile act. Finally, Sixtus was drawn by Girolamo into a plot for the overthrow of the Medici. He protested indeed that he would have nothing to do with murder, shutting his eyes to the inevitable consequences of success. Almost insensibly Italy began to split into opposing leagues. Lorenzo turned to Venice, the Adriatic rival of Naples. Milan, much weakened by the assassination of Galeazzo Sforza and the feeble guardianship of his heir by his mother, Bona of Savoy, relied upon Florentine support. Yet there was no general wish for war, which might not have ensued but for the atrocious attack upon the Medici brothers, in which Giuliano was assassinated. Foi' participation in this crime Salviati was flogged and hanged. Lorenzo, having escaped murder, was punished by excommunication, Florence by interdict.

The war which followed broke up the Triple Alliance. Sixtus and Naples took the field against Florence, Venice, and Milan. The chief papal feudatory, the Duke of Ferrara, and the chief papal city, Bologna, sided against their suzerain, Siena, as usual, against Florence. Sixtus had good fortune in securing the services of Federigo of Urbino. Ferrante had little direct interest in war beyond his close tie to Sixtus. He had not, however, forgotten old Tuscan ambitions, and remembrance was quick­ened by suspected Florentine designs on Piombino. More definite was his hostility to Venice, especially in relation to Cyprus, which she practically ruled through Caterina Comaro, widow of the last legitimate Lusignan. Ferrante coveted the island for a bastard grandson betrothed to Charlotte, bastard of Lusignan.

Papal and Sienese territory formed an excellent base for attack on Florence, and the papal and Neapolitan troops were on the frontier before defence was organised. Angevin help wsvs not now forthcoming, though Louis XI made strong, if resultless protests. He had ecclesiastical disputes with Sixtus, and rubs with Ferrante over a projected intermarriage, while Ferrante’s son Frederick was at the Burgundian Court. The first year’s cam­paign ended in favour of the assailants. Ercoled’Este, Ferrante’s son-in-law, in command of the Florentines shewed no alacrity for attack and little for defence. Venice gave little aid, but Milan supplied a fine young general, Gian Giacopo Trivulzio, afterwards so famous. During the winter time, Ferrante employed Galeazzo’s exiled brothers, Sforza and Ludovico, and their cousin Roberto Sanseverino to overthrow the Milanese government in Genoa. In command of the sea, they threatened Pisa, and drove Florentine commerce from the Tuscan coasts.

When the main campaign reopened, a promising attack on Perugia was nullified by Carlo Fortebraccio’s death, and successes in Sienese territory by quarrels between the Mantuan and Ferrarese contingents. Successive blows then fell on Lombardy. Cardinal Giuliano played upon the pious and predatory instincts of the Swiss, who poured down to Bellinzona. Ludovico Sforza, now Duke of Bari by his brother’s death, and Sanseverino passed into the Po valley and raised revolt against Bona. Ercole d’Este and the Marquess of Mantua marched north to stem the tide. Ercole persuaded Bona to restore Ludovico, who soon reduced the regent to impotence. On the very day of Ludovico’s entry into Milan, Alfonso and Federigo of Urbino won a decisive victory over the weakened Florentine army, storming its central position at Poggio Imperiale on the Elsa. The rout was only stayed at Casciano eight miles from Florence, which Alfonso could probably have entered, had he not delayed to besiege Colle. The little town’s stout defence demoralised his army, while Urbino was in­valided home. Alfonso granted a three months’ truce in November, with which the war was really over. Lorenzo, still refusing humiliating surrender to Sixtus, threw himself on Ferrante’s mercy. His personal charm won a generous peace, published on 25 March 1480 at Florence, Naples, and Rome, though against the will of Sixtus.

Victory lay with Naples. Yet Ferrante had made two grave mistakes in policy. To gain temporary advantage over a former ally, he encouraged the revolt of Genoa, his natural enemy, and then allowed Sforza to over­throw the Milanese regency. Thus he first weakened Milan, and then planted there a clever adventurer, who was to cause his dynasty’s ruin. Alfonso, disconcerted in schemes of Tuscan conquest, lingered near Siena, aiding the wealthy citizens to overthrow the popular government, becoming thecentreof the pleasure-loving Sienese society,and the favourite godfather of the republic’s babies. Siena might have become aNeapolitan protectorate but for the startling news that Otranto had been captured in August by 10,000 Turks, while large supporting forces were gathering in Albania.

Italy was panic-stricken; Sixtus prepared for flight from Rome. But the Turkish numbers were exaggerated, and, when the truth was known, the invariable slackness and disunion reappeared. Alfonso with difficulty raised 3000 men for the siege. Florence insisted on the restoration of places ceded to Siena; Federigo of Urbino’s presence at Otranto was urgently required, but he was detained by Girolamo Riario’s occupation of Forli and his designs on Pesaro and Faenza. The siege met with scant success. Otranto was won and Italy saved by the death of Mahomet II and Bayazld’s disputed succession. The garrison, weakened by withdrawal and disease, surrendered in September 1481 to Alfonso, who enlisted many captured Janissaries in his army.

One war breeds another; the Ferrarese war was the offspring of Sixtus IV’s attack on Florence. Venice resented Lorenzo’s action in making peace with Naples, while Sixtus could not forgive Ferrante for assenting. In 1481 Girolamo schemed at Venice for the expulsion of Ferrante and the conquest of Ferrara for Venice. Ercole d’Este had married Ferrante’s daughter, which the Venetians ill-liked, and a quarrel was picked on the rights of the Venetian consular court in Ferrara, and the manufacture of salt in the Comacchio Lagoon in defiance of Venetian monopoly. The old Triple Alliance, reconstituted, took up the challenge. Venice engaged two first-rate generals, Roberto Sanseverino, who had quarrelled with Ludovico il Moro, and Roberto Malatesta. Federigo of Urbino commanded the allies, who planned an attack on Venice’s western provinces, a direct assault on Rome by Alfonso and the Colonna, the restoration of Niccold Vitelli at Citta di Castello by Florence, and the capture of Forli from Girolamo Riario. Ferrara was soon in difficulties: Federigo of Urbino died there in September, the fertile Polesina was lost; Sanseverino forced the Po, establishing a permanent post at Ponte Lagoscuro; the Stradiots raided to the walls of Ferrara. But the Pope also had his troubles. Vitelli recovered Castello, Terracina fell to the Neapolitans; Cardinal Giuliano’s party pressed for peace. Sixtus im­plored Venice to send him Malatesta. Fortune at once turned. Malatesta on 01 August destroyed Alfonso’s army at Campo Morto in the Pontine Marshes. This was, however, a one man’s victory; the conqueror died of malaria, contracted in the marshes; the papal coast was still at the mercy of the Neapolitan fleet. It became clear that Venice would be the only gainer by the war, and would be a far more dangerous feudatory in Ferrara than the Estensi. By Christmas Sixtus had come to terms with Ferrante; by February the Quadruple Alliance against Venice was complete, with Bologna and Mantua supporting. Venice did not lose heart. San­severino attacked the Milanese, hoping to raise revolt against Ludovico in favour of Bona and her son. Ferrara, bombed and starved, was in dire distress. In July, however, the tide turned again. Alfonso pushed San­severino back from the Bergamasque and Brescian provinces to Verona, while Ercole d’Este in person drove the Venetians out of the vital post at Stellata. Venice, almost exhausted, appealed to Charles VIII, Louis of Orleans, the Emperor, and the Turk. Once more her fortunes flickered up. In May 1484 Gallipoli and other Apulian ports were taken, and in July success was won at the very gates of Ferrara, after which Lorenzo de’ Medici advised Ercole to surrender.

Peace was already in the air, and on 4 August it was declared. The terms of the treaty of Bagnolo were based on general restitution, with the exception of the Polesina, ceded by Ercole to Venice, who, as was said, had bribed the mediator Ludovico Sforza. Sixtus, who had been left out of the final negotiations, learnt the result on 11 August; he indignantly protested, and died next day. There is therefore some evidence for the tradition that peace killed the Pope who had lived on war.

In the sphere of Art, Rome owes more to the lowly family from Savona than to any other papal house, for Julius II did but continue the work begun in his uncle’s reign. The Sistine Chapel, built from 1473 to 1481, and ex­pressly designed for internal decoration, brought together a group of artists such as the modem world has never seen. Tuscany and Umbria contributed Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Rosselli, Signorelli, and Perugino with his pupil Pinturicchio, while from Forli came Melozzo. The Chapel walls are the very quintessence of Renaissance art, spoilt only by the destruction of three of the fifteen panels to make room for the writhing nudities of Michelangelo, which replace the key of the whole design, the Ascension with the kneeling figure of the founder, Sixtus. Sixtus also built the ad­mirable churches of Santa Maria della Pace and Santa Maria del Popolo, the latter the family church, with its monuments showing the Rovere em­blem, the sprig of holm oak with its acorns. The church of San Pietro in Vincoli begun by Sixtus, and that of Santi Apostoli by Pietro Riario were both completed by Julius II. In the former was the splendid Ascension by Melozzo, burnt in 1711. The right bank of the Tiber was glorified by the rebuilding of the Hospital of Santo Spirito, one of the walls of which described scenes from the Pope’s life, by the erection of the Ponte Rotto, and by the broad Via Sistina, leading from Sant’ Angelo to the piazza of St Peter’s. The streets of Rome were widened and paved, its squares opened out in preparation for the Jubilee; the fountain of Trevi once more gave fresh water to the city. In the neighbourhood two of the most interesting Renaissance castles, Ostia and Genazzano, were built by Sangallo for Giuliano.

The Pope’s own bronze monument, now in St Peter’s, was executed in 1493, on Giuliano’s order, by Antonio Pollaiuolo, who, with Verocchio, had employment under Sixtus. His real monument, however, is Melozzo’s fresco, removed to canvas and now in the Vatican, shewing Sixtus seated, handing to the kneeling Platina the keys of the Library, and facing his nephews Giuliano, Girolamo, and Giovanni, with a young friar by his side, singularly resembling him, now thought to be his great-nephew Raphael Riario. This collection of portraits, purporting to be such, and not scriptural or classical subjects, in a perfect setting of Renaissance archi­tecture, marks a most important stage in fifteenth-century portraiture.


The new election apparently lay between the three powerful nipoti of Calixtus, Paul, and Sixtus. Barbo’s Venetian origin went against him, and neither Borgia nor Rovere was quite strong enough to carry his own election. The result was a corrupt compromise to elect a cypher. Battista Cybò was a kindly, self-indulgent Genoese gentleman of fine appearance, but for blinking eyes. As Pope Innocent VIII he openly acknowledged an illegitimate son and daughter of his layman days. Rovere, whose tool he became, was, it was said, Pope and more than Pope. The reign opened amid violent fights between Orsini and Colonna. Rovere protected the latter, and, for a time, the two great families reversed their usual roles; the Ghibelline Colonna as the Pope’s allies prepared to invite the French or Rene, while the Orsini championed the Neapolitan cause, bringing the Pope into the extremity of danger.

The Neapolitan war was the outstanding event of Innocent’s reign. Rovere had never forgiven Ferrante for his desertion in the Florentine war. Innocent himself inherited Angevin sympathies, his father having fought under old René. Ferrante in June 1485 sent the usual white palfrey to Innocent, but withheld the tribute, on the ground of expenses incurred at Otranto. The Pope angrily returned the mount, and looked for allies against the defaulting king. These were easily found in his own kingdom. Alfonso’s military success had turned his vainglorious head. He urged his father to apply the squeezing of the sponge to his secretary, Petrucci, and his financial adviser, the Count of Sarno, who had amassed fortunes at royal expense. On returning to Naples in 1484 he had arrested the Count of Montorio and the heirs of the Duke of Ascoli. The greater barons, including the chief Crown officials, Constable, Admiral, Chamberlain, and Seneschal, with Giovanni della Rovere, Duke of Sora, conspired with Petrucci and Sarno, appealing to Rome for aid. Ferrante himself was all for peace; his financial straits were desperate, his debts to Florentine merchants enormous. War would stop the sale of grain to Rome; Innocent might seize the cattle tolls between the Abruzzi and Apulia; Rene of Lorraine would probably press the Angevin claim with French support. He still trusted his ministers, employing them in nego­tiations with the nobles in August 1485. His second son Frederick inter­viewed the barons, who wished him to succeed his father. The Italian powers were averse to war. Venice merely allowed her general Roberto Sanseverino to take service at Rome. The sympathies of Sforza and Lorenzo de’ Medici were with Ferrante, but were academic, though Sforza later allowed Trivulzio and the Count of Caiazzo to give some aid.

On 30 September Aquila expelled the royal garrison, quartered against the city’s privileges. Yet on 2 October Petrucci and Sarno brought news that the barons had accepted terms, the chief being that Frederick should marry the Seneschal’s daughter and receive the great fief of Taranto. Aquila returned to temporary obedience. The so-called peace of Miglionico, nicknamed Mal Consiglio, was of service to Ferrante as dividing baronial interests, just when Innocent was prepared for war. In the ensuing war the barons played no active or united part. From 30 October it took a scrambling character. Alfonso with Ferrante’s close friend, Virginio Orsini, fought Sanseverino north of Rome, threatening Perugia, and joining Trivulzio in Tuscany. The other princes defended Apulia and the Abruzzi against Giovanni della Rovere, who gained contact with the barons at Venosa. Genoa declared for Innocent, and in March 1486 Cardinal Rovere went thither to obtain aid from Rene. His departure and a partial victory by Alfonso at Montorio on 7 May, which laid Rome open, proved decisive. The Romans clamoured for peace, which was urged by Sforza and Ferdinand of Aragon. Cardinal Borgia was now too strong for the French party in the Curia. Aquila revolted from the Pope. Peace was made at Rome on 11 August 1487.

Ferrante had made concessions which he never meant to keep. He engaged to pay the papal tribute; the barons were dispensed from duty of attendance at Court; Aquila might make choice between king and Pope. This last question was decided by Ferrante’s occupation of the town and slaughter of the leading papalists. In May 1487 Petrucci and Sarno were executed; the greater nobles, caught in a trap, met a similar fate; Antonello Sanseverino and the heirs of the Prince of Bisignano, almost alone, escaped to Venice. Huge estates were swept into the treasury; the monarchy seemed stronger than it had ever been. Friendly alike with the Colonna and Virginio Orsini, Ferrante seemed to hold Rome in the hollow of his hand. With his son-in-law Matthias Corvinus of Hungary he had threatened a Council for Innocent’s deposition, and Matthias was organising an attack upon Ancona. Hard by, a local adventurer, Guzzone, had introduced a Turkish garrison into Osimo, the ancient walls of which were almost impregnable. Rovere was away in France; the feeble, vacillating Pope did not know to whom to turn. Lorenzo de’ Medici saved him, partly from a genuine desire for peace, partly from his long-deferred hope of a cardinalate for his son Giovanni. Arrangements were made for the marriage of Lorenzo’s daughter Mad- dalena with the Pope’s son Franceschetto Cybo. Lorenzo’s bribes, sup­ported by Ludovico Sforza’s troops, got rid of Guzzone and his Turks. Alliance with the Medici entailed friendship with the Orsini, so closely connected with them by marriage. All this was deeply resented by Rovere, now bent upon French and Angevin alliance.

Cybò’s marriage took place in November 1487, and yet Innocent’s position was scarcely improved. In April 1488 Girolamo Riario was murdered in Forli by his nobles. The Pope wished to annex his fiefs, but Girolamo’s widow, Caterina Sforza, stoutly held the castle, and, under Florentine pressure, he was forced to admit her son’s succession. Faction fights at Perugia led to the expulsion of the Oddi by the Baglioni, much to papal disadvantage. At Faenza Galeotto Manfredi was murdered by his wife, Francesca Bentivoglio. Florentine aid was again invoked; the Medici were becoming the controlling power throughout Romagna. Bologna in 1489-90 recognised Giovanni Bentivoglio as princeps et columen of the republic. Southwards, Ancona was flying the Hungarian banner. The Papal States were falling to pieces. Innocent vainly appealed to Italian and foreign powers, threatening to withdraw the Papacy from Italy. Suddenly he declared for Ferrante, making peace in January 1492, and marrying his grand-daughter Battistina to Alfonso’s bastard, Luigi d’Aragona. The price was the guarantee of the succession of Alfonso and his heir, which evoked emphatic protests from the French Crown. On 25 July Innocent died. These two reigns are notorious for the unwhole­some growth of the cardinalate, due to the policy of Sixtus and the want of it in Innocent. Sixtus had packed the college with nipoti to obtain a secure majority. But the changes in his political alliances necessitated the grant of hats to the Italian or foreign powers in favour. The nominees of Milan, Naples, France, or Spain, would naturally be men of wealth, influence, and a definite foreign policy. Innocent thus succeeded to a cardinalate of contending personalities, each with a clique of poorer and less important colleagues. He increased this body, in defiance of the capitulations, notably by the promotion of Giovanni de’ Medici, a boy of thirteen, though not fully recognised till ten years later. The danger now was, not the union of the curial oligarchy against the Pope’s monarchy, but the factions between the several groups, over which a feeble Pope had no control. Each great cardinal was a pope in himself, with his own fortified palace and garrison, his own connexions among the Roman nobility, his own foreign policy. They divided among them, in spite of tradition and protest, all the chief Roman benefices, poisoning by factions the life of the populace at large. Rome was rarely in such a corrupt and lawless condition as under Innocent, for the central authorities of the Vatican and Capitol had no power. Secularisation of manners and morals was complete. Innocent added to this by the public recognition of his two children. He was the first Pope to dine with ladies, and this at the marriage of his grand-daughter Peretta Usodimare to the Marquess of Finale. Another wedded Ferrante’s bastard grandson, the Marquess of Gerace.

A curious incident in the reign was the purchase of Sultan Bayazid’s brother Djem, a refugee with the knights of Rhodes. The rulers of Hungary and Spain, the Soldan of Egypt, and Venice, would gladly have bought him from the Grand Master, Pierre d’Aubusson,upon whose French estates he was living. Innocent, however, bribed the owner with a cardinal’s hat. This was a profitable investment, for Bayazld paid a large annuity for Djem’s safe custody, adding a bonus in the gift of the lance reputed to have pierced the side of Jesus, which was received at Rome with much ceremony, and no little scepticism. Innocent was relieved of the responsi­bility for a crusade, for Bayazid promised peace with Christendom during his brother’s detention. He made attempts to poison Djem, but the Vatican officials were watchful, and Djem survived his papal gaoler.

Innocent’s monument by Antonio Pollaiuolo is in the new St Peter’s. Of his interest in Art Rome sh0ws little trace, for his garden house, the Belvedere, was later converted into the Museum of Sculpture. This was decorated by Mantegna and Pinturicchio, the latter’s work including the views of Italian cities, which would have been priceless to posterity.

The reign of Innocent’s successor, Alexander VI, belongs to another book, but for Naples the new era opens with the death of Ferrante. A breach between the Aragonese dynasty and the nephew of Calixtus seemed inevitable, but Ferrante was bent on peace. He bribed Alexander to desert the Milanese alliance by the marriage of Alfonso’s daughter Sancia to Jofre Borgia. When the French envoy reached Rome to demand in­vestiture of Naples for his master, he met with unqualified refusal. Yet Ferrante’s troubles with Alexander were not ended. In one of his last letters to Ferdinand of Aragon he complained that it was his fate to be harassed by every Pope, and that it was impossible to live at peace with Alexander. Worn out by anxiety and age he died on £5 January 1494. Alexander after all adhered to the Neapolitan alliance, and his refusal to annul Innocent VIII’s investiture of Alfonso rendered inevitable the great French invasion, which was to change for centuries the life of Italy.