Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1875.
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Introduction, Section 3.
Wolsey still shows a fair face to the Emperor.
Meanwhile the Cardinal had not failed to maintain amicable correspondence with the Emperor, though seeking by every possible means to counteract his designs. He redoubled his professions of friendship and respect. To La Sauch, the Imperial agent, he continued to bemoan his ill fortune that, after working so hard for the Emperor's interests, his services had never been duly appreciated. Owing to his efforts the bonds of amity between the two nations had been so closely knitted that their friendship was indissoluble, and yet his only reward had been to incur the Emperor's displeasure through the report of foolish and malicious tongues. He complained that his well known affection for the Emperor had not been considered as a sufficient atonement for any offence of which he might have been unconsciously guilty. As for the lady Margaret, the Emperor's aunt, there was no lady in the world, not even the princess Mary herself, whom he was more willing to serve, so much did he respect her virtues, her good sense, her prudent and honorable behavior. (fn. 1) These and similar expressions he repeated on various occasions, with more or less earnestness, as the treaty with France drew towards its conclusion, and Joachim had once more appeared in England. La Sauch was completely deceived. He had persuaded himself that the uppermost feeling in the Cardinal's mind was his dread of the Emperor's displeasure. He tells Charles that, whatever may be the source of the Cardinal's discontent, there can be no question that he is marvellously affected by it. "I have heard him frequently lament, with sorrow in his countenance, that, notwithstanding the signal services rendered by him to the Emperor and their common cause, he has never been able to gain the Emperor's confidence, and persuade him of his good will and unalterable affection." (fn. 2) The arrival of John Joachim was forgotten in these constant bemoanings of the Cardinal. "Perceiving I was sent for," says La Sauch, "to hear from the Cardinal's own mouth a repetition of his grievances, I asked him whether I might write home, and announce Joachim's return to England"—Wolsey had never alluded to it—"Oh! by all means," was the ready reply, "we ourselves are now writing to inform the Emperor of his arrival." (fn. 3)
Their mutual relations ostensibly amicable, and why.
To maintain this delusion the better, or perhaps for the sake of greater precaution—for who could tell, as events were then moving at home and abroad, what might be the end?—Wolsey wrote to the Emperor on the 7th of July, deprecating the malicious reports which had been circulated to his discredit. He expressed the deepest affliction and regret that the love he bore to the Emperor, and the constant assiduity he had shown in promoting the Emperor's interests, had not been sufficient to shield him from the malice of his enemies. He loved the Emperor, he said, more than any prince in Christendom, the King his master only excepted; and he trusted to his generosity and clemency—virtues for which he was renowned—to accept these professions, and not imagine he had abandoned the sentiments of profound respect and affection he had always entertained for the Emperor's person, (fn. 4) through passion or interested motives. Charles replied on the 12th Aug., "Monsieur le Cardinal, if I have delayed writing to you until now, it has been owing to the strange and unaccountable proceedings of the King, my good father and brother, towards me. I cannot, however, persuade myself that your intentions are otherwise than upright, knowing the care and solicitude you have always shown in our mutual affairs." He proceeds to urge the Cardinal to use his efforts in maintaining their friendship; "in doing which I shall have occasion to know and appreciate your good intentions, just as you will also judge by the signature affixed that mine are equally good and true. Your good friend, Charles." (fn. 5)
This was the style he had always used towards Wolsey in the height of their friendship, and he still continued to use it, whatever may have been his real sentiments, for Charles was far too cool and too cautious to sacrifice his interests to any needless display of resentment. Whatever might be the feelings of both, their animosity was veiled beneath the mask of the most punctilious politeness. Charles well knew that Wolsey was his ablest and his most formidable opponent. He feared not merely the Cardinal's influence with his master, but that unerring sagacity which pierced through every disguise, and was not to be blinded by promises or baffled by flattery. And the Cardinal knew well, on his part, that Charles was the greatest obstacle to that policy, he was then attempting to establish, of balancing the two great powers of Europe against each other. Both were fully resolved to distrust and, if possible, counteract each other; both had interests to secure and protect, before they ventured to commit themselves to open hostilities. The Emperor was deeply in debt to the King. (fn. 6) The large dowry he was to receive with Isabella of Portugal seemed to offer an unexpected opportunity for pressing him to make good his obligations, or at least for recovering from him some portion of the debt, which he could no longer refuse on his accustomed plea of poverty. (fn. 7) He could no longer decently reply, as he had replied to Tunstal on a former occasion, "Ofttimes bruit runneth that men be richer than they be: howbeit, the bruit that runneth upon me is true; for I am bruited to be poor, and am poor indeed." (fn. 8) That opportunity would be lost if war were openly declared, or overt alliance made at once with his enemies. It would interrupt all further communication, and justify him in some measure in repudiating his obligations. It is not my purpose here to detail his various devices for evading payment. They may be seen in Lee's letters. (fn. 9) The temporal head of Christendom, out at elbows, subjected to the inconveniences of a common debtor, and slipping behind the door to elude his creditor, (fn. 10) might be a sight to excite pity, but was certainly not a sight to inspire respect; least of all in those who had lent him the money, on his solemn promise four years before "to make repayment at the days prefixed," and to "sell his patrimony sooner than delay payment." But even when every chance of recovering the debt had become hopeless, other circumstances arose at this time which made it impolitic in Henry,—not a little irritated by his ignoble manœuvring, (fn. 11) —still more in Wolsey, to give needless offence to the Emperor. Not only, therefore, in this year, but more than once afterwards, he hesitated not to profess his entire devotion to the Emperor's service. (fn. 12)
To the Emperor, on the other hand, it was more agreeable to reciprocate compliments, which cost him nothing, than make good his pecuniary engagements with England. After all that had passed, he could still say "he loved and honored Wolsey as his father;"—in July and August of 1525, because he had not yet heard of the treaty between France and England, and trusted by a conciliatory policy to keep the latter from interfering with his own secret arrangements;—in January and April 1526, because when these arrangements were concluded, he was afraid lest Francis, relying on the support of England, should be induced to break them. For, whatever liberties Charles might think fit to take with his own engagements, he had no thought of extending the same privilege to others. The return of the duchess of Alençon without her brother had thrown Louise into despair. The prospect of her son, confined to hopeless captivity, or destined, perhaps, to suffer a return of that disease from which he had been so strangely and mysteriously delivered,—preyed incessantly upon her imagination. Whatever the cost, he must be delivered. It had now became intolerable, in her estimation, that the surrender of a single French province should be allowed to weigh in the scale against the life of one who was the darling of Christendom, and the sal- vation of his people. (fn. 13) The increasing troubles of the kingdom, the inclination on the part of the disaffected to employ the absence of the King as an opportunity for inaugurating their own schemes, seemed to justify the change in her determination; and she begged of her son to accept the Emperor's conditions. The report of the arrangement got abroad as early as the 24th of December. It was denied by Louise to the English ambassador, (fn. 14) was still reported on the 4th of January, even at Rome; (fn. 15) and the particulars of it had already transpired. But it was not until the 19th December that Francis, overcome by her importunities, or sick of languishing in hopeless captivity, empowered his ambassadors to accept the treaty of Madrid, which was signed on the 13th January 1526. (fn. 16)
Treaty of Madrid.
It appears from the information furnished by the English ambassadors, that the final negociations for the treaty had commenced shortly after the 2nd of December. On the part of the Spaniards they were chiefly conducted by Don Hugo de Moncada and the Viceroy, and by De Tarbes for the French. In five or six days "the practice of peace began to be fervent, in secret manner," the ministers on both sides saying it was sure to take place, considering the Emperor's necessity and the French king's desire of liberty. The arrangements were already completed before the 20th of De- cember, (fn. 17) though "to make a face," a rumour was spread on the 2nd of January that "some difficulties had been raised." There were reasons on both sides why such an arrangement, which involved the cession of Burgundy by the French, and the hand of Eleanor by the Spaniard, should not be disclosed without some show of difficulty and reluctance. Francis had registered a solemn vow that nothing should induce him to part with an inch of French territory. The honor of the Emperor was equally pledged to keep his promise to Bourbon. To save appearances, his ministers even pretended to risk his displeasure by remonstrating "that he had allured Bourbon out of France only by hope of that marriage." The consent of the parties most concerned in the arrangement never troubled the thoughts of either Sovereign; and in this chaffering of crowned heads the inhabitants were no more consulted whether Burgundy should belong to France or the Empire, than they have been consulted on similar occasions. As for Bourbon, who some time before had left Italy for Spain to claim the Emperor's sister—he did not understand Charles so well as Wolsey understood him—when the articles of the treaty had passed the Council, great recompence was offered him, first by the Imperial ministers, afterwards by the Emperor himself; "which overture," says Tunstal, "we hear, made him much to muse, feeling himself frustrate of his chief hope. But hearing the Emperor's necessities explained to him, he said at last, with his tongue, he was content;—whether he was so in his heart or not." (fn. 18)
Francis is delivered.
The Emperor's treatment of his royal prisoner had never been generous. Even after the treaty was signed, Francis was as strictly guarded as before. If he accompanied the Emperor on a party of pleasure, or was taken by him on a visit to his future queen, Eleanor, a numerous body of horse and foot reminded him that he was still suspected and his movements controlled by his Imperial brother-in-law. (fn. 19) As he approached the frontier under the conduct of the Viceroy, these precautions were redoubled. At St. Sebastian he was not permitted to leave his chamber. (fn. 20) As his guards drew near to Fontarabia notice was given on the 26th February that no one, on any pretence whatever, should linger in the neighbourhood where the deliverance was to take place. The Emperor had kept the King company to Tierras, where they were joined by his sister, on the 20th. On the 26th they proceeded in the same carriage to Iliesca. (fn. 21) Here the Emperor and king of France took leave of her, the King pursuing his route to Fontarabia. Two boats met for a moment in the midstream of the Bidassoa. As the king stepped from his boat into the one appointed to carry him to the opposite shore, the Dauphin and the duke of Orleans stepped at the same time from theirs,—he for France, they for Spain. (fn. 22) "When the day came of his delivery," says Hall,—who seems to have received his account from an eyewitness,—"he was discretely moved that he should not speak to his children, for fear that lamentation and sorrow might in such wise rise, that hurt might ensue of it. ... There was between the borders of France and Spain a lake of no great deepness, in the midst whereof was laid a great empty boat at an anchor, and at every (each) shore was another boat; and when the French king was come to the bank he entered a boat on the Spanish side, and six Spaniards with him; and likewise on the French part, the two princes, sons to the French king, entered the other boat, and six Frenchmen with them, and so both the boats came to the boat lying in the midst. The French king entered at the one end, and his children at the other, and passed through the great boat; and even in the midst of the boat they met, and he with his hands blessed them, without speaking of any word, but sadly regarded them; and so he entered into the boat with the Frenchmen, and his children into the boat with the Spaniards." (fn. 23) They were handed over to the Viceroy, and by him delivered to the Constable of Castille. (fn. 24)
Charles, always on the alert, had given strict injunctions to De Praet, his ambassador with Louise, to make diligent inquiry respecting the hostages. To prevent deception, he was ordered to watch narrowly the features of the two young princes with whose physiognomy the Viceroy was not acquainted. The moment that Francis touched the French soil (fn. 25) De Praet was to demand of him the ratification of the treaty for the cession of Burgundy, to the command of which the Grand Master of Spain (fn. 26) had been appointed already. As Francis landed on the opposite bank, the ambassador approached to fulfil his instructions. He was waved off by the King, who was impatient to be gone, dreading the chance of recapture;—not without reason, if it be true what the Grand Master told Taylor, "that the Emperor had sent a man in all speed to stop the French king at Fowntraby, who arrived in less the French king at Fowntraby, who arrived in less than three hours after the King had passed the water." (fn. 27) De Praet did not fail to renew his application a few days after. On the 3rd of April, at Montmarchant, in company with Penalosa, he again urged upon Francis to confirm his engagements. The King demanded their credentials; if they had any authority they should come on the morrow, and his Council would give them their answer. "Sir," said De Praet, taken somewhat aback at this suggestion "these things concern your own deed, and require no counsel. Ye have promised to perform them as soon as ye come into your realm." The King replied that "he had learned this lesson in Spain of the Emperor, for there was never an article in the treaty of peace, but he had with his Council well examined, discussed, and determined to his most profit, where he (the King) had nother counsel, nor was in liberty to dispute it. Wherefore now he would as well use his own counsel in the confirmation of the same, as the Emperor did in the making." (fn. 28)
Dread of its consequences.
The news of the King's liberation, and his arrangement with the Emperor, were received with no little consternation. It seemed as if the highest aspirations of the Emperor's ambition were now on the point of being realized. He was not merely relieved of his most formidable enemy, whose opposition was neutralized by the treaty of Madrid, but he was in effect monarch of all Italy; in other words, he was sole monarch of Christendom, with the Pope for his vassal. The Italian states had reason to dread his resentment. They were now actively banded against him, waiting only for the king of England to join them as Protector and Conservator of the League. But whilst the Cardinal was anxious to further the designs of the Confederates, and encouraged them to the best of his power, he had no wish, after his recent experience, to commit this country to war, with an exhausted exchequer,—still less to a war for the independence of Italy, from which England could derive no immediate advantage. (fn. 29) There were other though less ostensible reasons which induced him to prevent the Pope from uniting himself with the Emperor,—reasons which I shall have to notice hereafter. It was enough for his present purposes if, without commencing open hostilities, he could restrain the Emperor's ambition; above all things, prevent him from making a personal descent into Italy. It equally suited the interests of Charles to maintain in appearance his amity with England. It was his best means for neutralizing the efforts of the League, and avoiding a danger that now threatened him from a very different quarter. This was the aggression of the Turks.
The Turks invade Hungary.
His sister Mary was married to Lewis, the unfortunate king of Hungary. Intelligence had reached him, as early as February, that the Turk was making great preparations to cross the Danube and attack Buda. (fn. 30) In March the reports, at first little regarded, spread with augmented celerity, leaving no room for doubt. The Turk had built bridges at Nicopolis—had loaded 100 camels with chains for that purpose—had collected a numerous fleet—had issued a proclamation "that none of the country people should "sell victuals." Whilst he thus pushed on his arrangements for invasion with the greatest rapidity, Lewis lost time by his feebleness and indecision. It was proposed that one half of the Hungarians should be sent to the frontier, and the other half assembled in a diet, armed and furnished with provisions. But Lewis, ill supplied with money, fearing a conspiracy, and distrusted by his subjects,—the chronic disorder of elective monarchies,—could not be persuaded to move from Buda. He told the papal Nuncio, to whom we owe these particulars, that he was more afraid of the Turks of Hungary than of the Turks of Turkey; and he received for answer that negligence and procrastination were worse Turks than either. Insubordination, in the court and out of it, hindered his attempts for presenting a united front to the enemy. His Queen opposed the project of a diet; or insisted, if it must be held, on being present at its deliberations. Both of these claims were impracticable. Counts and bans abandoned their posts. The soldiers murmured for want of pay. The princes wasted time in mutual recriminations, or accused the King of not listening to their advice. He retorted that he had followed their advice only too faithfully already, and lost all. "The King," says the "Nuncio, is disliked universally. There is no preparation, no order; and, what is worse, many have no wish to defend themselves." (fn. 31) Paul Tomori, the brave archbishop of Colocza, (fn. 32) who alone of all the Hungarian nobles was animated with disinterested zeal in behalf of his country, had proceeded to the defence of Peter Varadin, when the attack of the Turk was expected. Strange as it may appear, Lewis and his court, confiding implicitly in this man's sagacity, courage, and fidelity, wasted the time in false security, squandering the little treasure that remained in feasting and dissipation, providing neither arms nor ammunition against the enemy. He had been persuaded, in common with the rest, that the report of the approach of the Turks was a groundless alarm; and any interruption in their vast preparations was instantly seized upon as a sufficient excuse for abandoning all necessary precautions. The King had left the Archbishop to defend the border fortresses, especially that of Peter Varadin, the most important, with only a handful of soldiers. The letter addressed by him to the King on the 5th July, a few weeks before the fatal battle of Mohatz, details in vivid language the incredible neglect and apathy with which the Hungarians awaited the approach of their active and enterprising enemy. He tells the King that the report sent by the ban of Jaycza of the retreat of the Turks was unfounded; that three days since they had entered Belgrade, and had pitched their tents on the bank of the Save, numbering more than 3,000. If his Majesty, he says, has any one who understands the ground, he will comprehend how large a tract of land is occupied by the encampment of the Janissaries. The Turk, he adds, is working with great ardor, and is only waiting for his guns to push forward. It was too late to follow his Majesty's instructions, and prevent the enemy from crossing the Save, for the Archbishop was not in a condition to resist his advance, or obstruct the passage of the Save or the Danube. The month was drawing to a close; no assistance had come, and the forces under his command were ready to disperse. He has no money, and even if the goods of the Church were placed at his disposal, there was no one to coin them or take them in pledge. The sailors, he continues, have nothing to eat; they have received no wages, and without speedy relief he will not be able to remain at his post. Part of the forces had left the camp to assist in gathering wood, and reaping the harvest, whilst the shepherds had left their flocks to tend the vineyards. The Rascians had abandoned the harbour in a body for want of proper instructions; and as the King had summoned all forces to the diet the Archbishop had no reserves at his command. The march of the Turk thus left free and unimpeded was not marked by any disorder. Steadily and surely he advanced to his purpose. He thinks nothing, says the unfortunate Archbishop, of taking this castle (Peter Varadin) as a morning snack, and will break his fast upon it, unless your Majesty by timely provision make it too hard for his digestion. (fn. 33) The papal Nuncio (Del Burgo), who was not liked by the Hungarians, is equally candid, but more terse. He saw clearly the result. "No order," he says, "is taken here, and everything is desperate. This year so much only of Hungary will remain as the Turk may choose to spare. It is possible he may content himself for the present with so much of it as lies between the Save and the Drave, but next spring he will occupy the rest. The case is hopeless. There is nothing here ready for war: no captains, no money, no plans, no obedience, no ships, no provisions. The army has not yet assembled (10 July); and when it does, it will do nothing; for it is disorderly and without pay. It will remain ten or fifteen days, and then disperse in search of food." (fn. 34)
Loss of Peter Varadin.
He wrote again on the 6th of August: "The bishop of Bosnia arrived here from the archbishop of Colocza, and stated that on Sunday, 15th July, the Turks attacked the castle (of Peter Varadin) and a ford at the same time, about the first hour of the day. The besieged killed, as they say, more than 1,000 Janissaries. Those stationed at the ford with no more than 60 small vessels, called Nazadæ, sunk a great Turkish ship, and slew many of the enemy ... The battle was maintained on both sides till night-fall. During the night the Archbishop resolved to abandon the ford of Varadin, and retreat to another, two miles distant, finding it impossible with his few ships to resist the Turkish fleet, consisting of 100 ships, 23 galleys, and other vessels. On Monday following the Turks drew off from the ford, allowing the Hungarians to water at the Danube. On Tuesday the attack was renewed, the Turks supposing they could easily succeed in capturing the fort on account of the lowness of the walls, but after fighting all day they were driven off, and many of the Janissaries slain. On Wednesday they began to batter it on four sides, night and day. ... The Archbishop thinks he can hold out for eight or ten days, and asks the King for 10,000 men, with whom he will attack the Turkish army, retake the ford, and succor the besieged. ... We are in much fear for Peter Varadin, as the King cannot relieve it, for he has neither ships nor infantry. Everything between the Save and the Drave must be reckoned as lost. Lewis will make a stand at the Drave, and perhaps protect the ford; but this will not be easy, considering his plans and his poverty." (fn. 35) On the 3rd of August the Turks again attacked Peter Varadin, and were repulsed with great slaughter. As their corpses filled the ditches, the besieged could not approach them for the stench. After the castle had been blown up by a mine, the garrison continued to fight in the courtyard, until the blood of Turks and Hungarians reached to their knees. Of the 1,000 brave defenders in the castle ninety saved their lives by mounting the belfry of the church, which alone remained uninjured of all the buildings. As they continued to defend themselves with the greatest intrepidity, the Turk allowed them to retire unhurt, but cut off the heads of the wounded, and flung them into the Danube. The loss of Peter Varadin was followed by that of the neighbouring fortresses, and the whole of Hungary was now laid open to the enemy, without further opposition.
Defeat and death of Lewis.
Meanwhile, after assembling what forces he could at Tolna, Lewis advanced towards the Turks in the direction of Mohatz. Trusting to the fidelity of the ban of Croatia and the bishop of Zagrab, it was his intention, in the event of defeat, to retire upon Illyria. His troops at the most amounted to no more than between 20,000 or 30,000; (fn. 36) the Turks, to 300,000 men, of whom 70,000 were trained soldiers. Even at this late hour Lewis might have escaped the danger, had he been willing to wait for the reinforcements of Dalmatians, Bohemians, and others who were hastening to his assistance. (fn. 37) But, spurred on to his fate by the taunts of his nobles and the insubordination of his troops, he gave battle to the Turk on the 29th August. The advantage at first rested with the Hungarians; but drawn by their impetuosity into an ambush, and exposed on both sides to the fire of the Turkish artillery, they were thrown into confusion, and the rout became general. As the King in his flight was crossing a swamp of no great depth, his horse fell under him, in its attempt to mount the opposite bank; and Lewis, pressed down by the weight of his his armor, was smothered in the mud. The Hungarian infantry was slain to a man. Many bishops and most of the nobility perished. (fn. 38) Though the Turk had not come to spoil, he carried off 3,000 boats laden with plunder,—chiefly bells of brass, and iron goods. Among the prisoners were 5,000 Hungarians, and 30 ships filled with Jews. (fn. 39)
If the misfortunes of men and nations are to be scanned with philosophic impartiality, it cannot be questioned that the terrible defeat sustained by the Hungarians was due entirely to their own misconduct. It was the necessary consequence of that demoralization and disorganization which, spreading from nobles and sovereign to the people, had sapped the foundations of empire, and left them an easy prey to their enemies—enemies they had learned to neglect and despise. A rapacious aristocracy, concerned only in advancing their own interests, and regardless of the honor of their country,—a people insubordinate and restless,—a sovereign abandoned to ease and pleasure, retiring from the fatigue of public duties to solace himself with idleness and amusements,—these were the true enemies of Hungary. If it had not fallen at Mohatz, it must still have fallen from its own innate weakness and corruption. So far the victory of the Turks was a blessing rather than a curse. It was a sharp and severe remedy for evils nothing else would have cured, and for vices nothing less bitter than adversity could eradicate. But this was not the spirit in which Christendom regarded an event which sent into all hearts a thrill of anguish, horror, and remorse. Christians only beheld in that defeat, as in the loss of Rhodes, the victory of God's enemies,—a victory to which they themselves had contributed by their own sins and selfish dissensions. They saw in it the defeat of the true soldiers of the Cross by the hands of the Infidels. The hand of God was against them. The ancient spirit of Christendom and the last remains of Christian chivalry was dying out. Popes and kings wept; old men sighed heavily, for the glory was departing from Israel. (fn. 40) The Moors had risen in Spain; the Germans and the Spaniards were plundering the patrimony of St. Peter; the followers of Luther were carrying fire and devastation throughout Germany, destroying images, burning churches, putting bishops and nobles to the sword. Princes engrossed with their own selfish plans of aggrandizement, were no longer concerned in maintaining the Faith. Everywhere the horison was clouded; the old world was setting in blood, the new world was rising in disorder and confusion. And as the shadows are darkest before dawn, uncouth and weird-like, so the new dawn that followed was in some respects more dark, more grotesque and superstitious, than the night which preceded it.
The Colonnese propose to attack Rome.
It may seem remarkable that a nation like the Spaniards, priding itself more than any other on its punctilious sense of honor, and its devotion to the Catholic Faith, should, more than any other, have shown an implacable animosity against the Pope, and been guilty of the most detestable treachery. But the long and disastrous wars in Italy had been attended with the most demoralising effects to all parties engaged in them. The sufferings of the Italian peasantry from the Imperial soldiers, and the misery of the population in general, surpass description. The whole country was given up to plunder. Life and property were equally insecure from reckless marauders, whose insolence and licentiousness their own officers were neither able nor willing to restrain. The insufficient sums sent by the Emperor for his army in Italy were diverted from their proper destination by the peculation of those to whom the money was entrusted. Badly and irregularly paid, when paid at all, officers and common soldiers threw off the restraints of discipline. For the losses they sustained by the irregularity or diversion of their pay they more than repaid themselves by plunder and exaction. Both were alike indifferent whether their object was attained by force or by fraud. From real or pretended disaffection to the Emperor, the marquis of Pescara, who had distinguished himself by his activity and his valor at the siege of Pavia, had contrived to insinuate himself into the confidence of Morone, the secretary of the duke of Milan, and then, to enhance his favor with the Emperor, betrayed his dupe. Don Hugo de Moncada, who succeeded Pescara, was guilty of a more abominable treachery, which must be noticed at greater length. Hitherto the affairs of the Holy League had proceeded unprosperously. The duke of Urbino, the commander of its armies, either from incompetence, or as some thought, from unwillingness to increase the power and influence of the Pope, failed to prosecute the war with vigor, or attack the enemy at manifest advantage. None of the confederates were hearty in the common cause; not one had joined it with any other purpose than the hope of advancing his own interests, or wringing the best terms for himself out of the desperation or necessities of the Emperor. There was in consequence no unity of plan, and no heartiness of co-operation. The Venetians, on whom the burthen chiefly fell of providing money and troops, were hampered by those maxims of frugality which always prevent small states under republican government from providing adequate supplies in great emergencies. Doubting, distracted, intimidated by turns, uncertain alike of the intentions of his French ally and of his Imperial enemy, the Pope followed divided counsels, and by his real or apparent vacillation undermined all confidence and all enthusiasm for his cause. Francis I., who had professed to espouse the cause of the League with ardor, on his release from captivity, was now satisfied to use it solely as an instrument for bringing the Emperor to better terms, and obtaining more easily the liberation of his children. It was enough for his purpose if he could keep the League on foot by fair promises he never intended to fulfil, and regulate his support of it as best suited his diplomatic relations with the Emperor. (fn. 41) When, however, Charles refused all accommodation, and insisted on the precise fulfilment of the treaty of Madrid, no other course was open to Francis except to join heartily with the Pope and the Venetians. But he wasted the time in hunting and amusements, abstained from all business, was unwilling or unable to prosecute the war with vigor, or furnish the necessary supplies of men and money. From the first Henry had declined to join the confederates, reserving for himself the opportunity when he should openly espouse its cause, and set the Emperor at defiance. He still ostensibly professed to believe that he should obtain some portion at least of the sums he had lent to Charles in the days of his necessity. (fn. 42) Whether Wolsey was compelled to shape his present policy from circumstances over which he had no control, and from causes other than political,—whether he thought that if the Pope became too strong he would also become more independent and less pliable,—must be left to conjecture. As will be seen presently, he had strong reasons for not needlessly aggravating the Emperor. He had reasons equally strong for preventing his reconciliation with the Pope.
The Pope makes terms, and disbands his forces.
Hampered by many difficulties, uncertain of the future, willing, if possible, to retrace his steps, dreading the rough temper of Don Hugo de Moncada and his troops, the Pope had resolved to secure himself, as far as possible, from immediate danger, by making terms with the Colonnese, the chief adherents of the Imperial faction. He consented to pardon cardinal Colonna and his confederates on their pledging themselves not to make war on the Estates of the Church. (fn. 43) To this arrangement Don Hugo de Moncada had been a party, and in the faith of it the Pope had laid down his arms and dismissed his forces. What remains to be told shall be told in the words of the Spaniard himself, communicated to Alonzo Sanches, the Imperial ambassador at Venice. "Seeing," he says, "the condition of the Emperor's affairs in Italy, the difficulty of procuring the money required for the troops, and the fear that when reinforcements came it would be too late, especially if the French make a descent upon Italy, I (Moncada) have come to a resolution, with the cardinal Pompeo Colonna and the rest of the Colonnese, to help and assist the Imperial cause on our own responsibility." "For this purpose," he adds, "a truce has been concluded between the Pope and the Colonnese, that the Pope having laid down his arms, may be thereby taken unawares. For his Holiness, considering himself safe in that quarter (from the Colonnese), knowing also that the governors of Naples have no wish to make war upon him, and imagining therefore that no serious invasion of the Roman territory is to be apprehended, considers himself so far secure that he has kept only 200 foot and 100 horse at Rome." The better to carry on this deceit, soldiers were enlisted by Ascanio Colonna, under the pretence of marching to Sienna. "But although the councillors of Naples believe—and we have told them so—that these forces are destined for Sienna ... our intention is to attack Rome; and we have accordingly 800 horse and 2,000 foot paid by Naples, 2,000 recently levied in the Abruzzi, and 1,000 under cardinal Colonna." (fn. 44)
The plot met with eminent success. On the night of the 19th of September Moncada arrived with his allies and cardinal Colonna before the walls of Rome, and seizing three of the gates, entered at break of day by St. John of the Lateran. The Spaniard continued his advance unperceived to the church of St. Cosmo and St. Damian. The inhabitants, scarcely awake, were taken unprepared. As infantry and cavalry defiled along the streets, the people looked on without any attempt to oppose them. Wholly indifferent to what was passing, artizans left their shops to gaze upon the troops as they pressed forward towards the bridge of San Sisto, and made their way to the Janiculum. At this point Pompeio Colonna sent a trumpeter to different quarters of the city, to proclaim that no person had the least occasion for apprehension, as the only motive of the invaders for taking arms was to deliver the Roman people from the tyranny of the Pope. (fn. 45)
"No one stirred," says Sir Gregory Casale, who was present, "except some few friends; and the good Colonnese, with 600 horse and 6,000 foot, of which there were not (fn. 46),000 that were not of the rabble, marched through Rome, with only a slight resistance at the gate of San Spirito."2 "About dinner time," says another eyewitness, "all the inhabitants remaining quiet, the Colonnese passed the Sistine bridge, and made for the old town; then breaking down the bridge of San Spirito, which leads to the old suburb of St. Peter's, they marched straight forward, when the Pope fled to St. Angelo." (fn. 47)
The Pope submits.
The Pope called in vain for succor, but no succor came: neither people nor cardinals stirred to his relief. (fn. 48) Hopeless of aid, he resolved, after the example of his predecessor Boniface, to face death in his chair, arrayed in his pointifical vestments. Scarcely had he been per- suaded by the cardinals to abandon his resolution, and withdraw about 5 o'clock into the castle of St. Angelo, when Don Hugo arrived with his soldiers and the rabble. They sacked the Pope's palace and the neighbouring houses of the cardinals, the ambassadors, and the nobility, without distinction. The church of St. Peter was rifled of its ornaments, and the host profaned. "Never," says Casale, "was so much cruelty and sacrilege seen." (fn. 49) St. Angelo was not prepared for a siege. As it had no store of ammunition or provisions beyond three days' supply, no alternative remained except for the Pope to make terms with his conqueror. But Moncada had already secured his object. He was well aware that Charles had no desire to reduce the Pope to extremities. (fn. 50) His object was sufficiently gained, if the Pope, who was of a weak and timid nature, feared but did not feel the force of the Emperor's resentment. Therefore he readily consented to an interview, much to the disgust of cardinal Colonna, who entertained more fierce and ambitious designs. Moncada entered the Castle with a modest suite, made the profoundest obeisance to the Pope, restored to his hands the silver crucifix and pontifical mitre which had been stolen by the soldiers, apologized for their rudeness and licence, and with all the suave dignity of a Spanish nobleman, and the filial submissiveness of a good Catholic, besought His Holiness to renounce his opposition to the Emperor, from whose piety, justice, and moderation nothing else was to be expected than the peace of Christendom and the security of the Holy See. "His victorious arms," quoth the Spaniard, "neither God nor man can resist with impunity. (fn. 51) "
Though wholly in the power of his enemy, the Pope could ill conceal his resentment. But the Don was too good a politician to notice his discontent too narrowly. A sort of treaty was arranged on the 21st, by which it was agreed that hostilities should be suspended for four months; that the Pope should withdraw his army to the other side of the Po, pardon the Colonnas, and give hostages that Moncada should retire with his forces to Naples. (fn. 52) The Pope could talk of nothing but the infamy to which he had been subjected by the Colonnese. (fn. 53) They, on their part, Italian-like, showed no greater moderation, but in a spirit of bravado publicly and ostentatiously carried their plunder to their own quarters, through the most frequented thoroughfares. After the truce was concluded, "the army retreated at 24 o'clock to the quarters of the Colonna, returning with a great booty, mules and handsome horses, such as they found in the Apostolic stables. Those in the town were in great consternation, expecting every minute to be plundered; but the next day, being the feast of St. Matthew (21st Sep.), the enemy evacuated the town. The Pope is still at St. Angelo. No one slept a wink that night in a town of more than 300,000 inhabitants." (fn. 54) According to Buonaparte, Moncada on his return to Naples had the grace to insist on his soldiers restoring to the churches the consecrated vessels and ornaments they had stolen. (fn. 55)
The Emperor's share in the plot.
What share the Emperor had in this affair it would be invidious to determine exactly; what share he was to pretend to have may be gathered from the letter of his secretary, Perez, then at Rome, who had written to him already on the subject. (fn. 56) "As Don Hugo de Moncada," says Perez, "has already written, informing your Majesty of his arrival at Rome, and what has been done there, I need not dwell any further on this subject than to say, that but for the sacking of St. Peter's and of the Papal palace, His Holiness might not have been induced to come to terms for a thousand years. The truth is, the Pope has felt this blow more than anything else, and he utters such lamentations and wailings that it moves one's pity to hear him. So also do the people and the Cardinals of his party, who have lost a good deal by the sack. It is, however, to be hoped that with the holy peace, which is likely to be hoped that with the holy peace, which is likely to be the consequence of Don Hugo's successful enterprize, the damage done will soon be repaired, and things will resume their former course; for certainly your Majesty has had no hand in it. It would be advisable for your Majesty to write a letter to the Pope in your own hand, expressing regret for what has occurred, and assuring the Pope of your filial respect and affection." (fn. 57)
Loud was the indignation of those who hated or feared the Emperor at this act of profanation. Francis, who did nothing but hunt and avoid business, expressed his displeasure at this "cruel and ungodly demeanor", offering to hazard his person in defence of his Holiness. (fn. 58) Henry instructed his ambassadors with the Emperor to intimate his astonishment at an act, than which, "if reports were true, nothing more detestable was ever done by the Vandals, Goths, or other barbarians." (fn. 59) The Emperor himself, with wellfeigned displeasure, was compelled to join in the general outcry, and write to the College of Cardinals, expressing in the strongest terms his regret and sorrow at what had occurred. (fn. 60) Following the suggestion of Perez, he instructed his secretary to say how great was his displeasure on "hearing of the attempt made by the undisciplined bands under Don Hugo; for although it was quite evident that the disastrous doings at Rome were unpremeditated, and against the will of Don Hugo and the Colonnese, yet he would have given anything that so flagrant an outrage had not been perpetrated by troops under the command of one of his own captains." (fn. 61) To Lee, the English ambassador, he expressed his satisfaction that his brother of England had acquitted him of all complicity in that "disagreeable occurrence." (fn. 62) The most solid proof of Henry's indignation was manifested in the shape of a present to the Pope of 25,000 ducats, sent by Russell; at the same time he was strictly enjoined by Wolsey not to hold out to his Holiness any expectation of further assistance. (fn. 63) The displeasure of Francis evaporated, as usual, in fair promises. He had no wish to commit himself irretrievably with the Emperor, whilst the sincerity of the Emperor's regrets was shown in his resolution to make the best of the present opportunity, by crushing the league, humbling the power of the Pope, and seizing the monarchy of Italy. The conjuncture seemed to him more than usually favorable, whilst the French king, deluded with the hope of recovering his children upon more easy terms, (fn. 64) and Henry, for some unaccountable reason, abandoned the league to its own fate, leaving the Pope and the Venetians, now greatly weakened, to continue the war without assistance from England. Accordingly he at once set on foot an army of 6,000 Spaniards, and equipped a fleet of 30 sail, whilst he wrote to his brother Ferdinand to send into Italy 8,000 Germans, under the command of George Freundsberg, notorious for his cruelty and hatred of the Church. (fn. 65)
Affairs at home.
Henry Fitzroy created Duke of Richmond.
Resented by Katharine.
The year 1526 was drawing rapidly to a close. Amidst the turmoil and commotion of crowns and nations, Wolsey had contrived to keep England free from all embroilment in continental politics. With the Emperor, who hated him, he continued ostensibly on amicable terms. Though carefully abstaining from dragging England into the League, he maintained an intimate correspondence with the Pope and the Italian powers. The French king still professed to regard Wolsey as the main instrument of his deliverance, and to be implicitly guided by his counsels. At this time Henry was beginning to take much less interest in politics, and spent the whole summer in hunting. (fn. 66) In the earlier part of the year he kept continually moving from place to place, attended by a small retinue only, for fear of the plague. "Everything is left," says the Venetian ambassador, "to cardinal Wolsey, who keeps a great court, and has comedies and tragedies performed." (fn. 67) After the settlement of the disturbances caused by the amicable loan, the King had withdrawn in a great degree from public business. Now and then we catch a glimpse of him; but chiefly in confirmation of Hall's remark. "On my arrival here," says Clerk, "yesternight, the King was forth a hunting, and came not home till nine of the clock." (fn. 68) So again Fitzwilliam: "I received a packet of letters addressed to the King, which I took to his Majesty immediately; but as he was going out to have a shot at a stag, he asked me to keep them till the evening." (fn. 69) So again still later: "The King is merry and in good health ... The officers of the earl of Northumberland, to whom this place (Arundel in Sussex) belongs, presented the King with 6 oxen and 40 wethers, and he had good game for his recreation." (fn. 70) He still continued to treat Katharine with the same respect as ever; although he had abandoned all hopes of children by her—a fact so notorious that even in July 1525, Tunstal and others then in the Imperial court did not scruple to write even to the King himself, that they had told the Emperor that "my lady Princess was your only child at this time, in whom your Highness put the hope of propagation of any posterity of your Lady, seeing the Queen's grace hath been long without children; and albeit God may send her more children, yet she was past that age in which women most commonly are wont to be fruitful and have children." (fn. 71) This impression was generally and publicly confirmed by the creation of his natural son, or, as Wolsey calls him, the King's "entirely beloved son, the lord Henry Fitzroy," (fn. 72) then a child of six years, as duke of Richmond, on the 16th June 1525. (fn. 73) The extraordinary pomp and splendor of the ceremony, in which the great lords of State took part, with the Cardinal at their head, were no less remarkable than the title itself, which had been borne by the King's own father before he ascended the throne as Henry VII. So young and fair a child, the prime agent in such a scene, could not fail to awaken many strange speculations. He was conducted from the long gallery in the palace at Bridewell, destined soon after to be the scene of a very different ceremony, into the King's chamber, where the King stood under a cloth of estate, accompanied by my lord Cardinal, and the lords spiritual and temporal. As the child kneeled to the King in his baby fashion, his Majesty ordered him to rise. Then, taking the patent from Garter, he delivered it to Sir Thomas More to read aloud. On coming to the words gladii cincturam the child-lord dropped on his knees, "and the King put the girdle about his neck, the sword hanging bend-wise across his breast." (fn. 74) These dignities were augmented the next month by his creation as Lord High Admiral of England. (fn. 75) To maintain his new titles numerous grants of land passed the seal, as a token of the King's "sincere and lasting affection." (fn. 76) The appointment of his household, certainly ample in itself, seemed still more ample when contrasted with the meaner provision for Henry's legitimate daughter Mary, who was three years older. By this act the duke of Richmond took precedence of all the nobility, even of the Princess herself. The act could scarcely be regarded by Katharine with calmness or indifference, submissive as she had always shown herself to the King's wishes. "It seems," says the Venetian ambassador, "that the Queen resents the earldom and dukedom conferred on the King's natural son, and remains dissatisfied, at the instigation, it is said, of three of her Spanish ladies, her chief counsellors; so the King has dismissed them the Court—a strong measure—but the Queen was obliged to submit and have patience." (fn. 77) She had need of patience. A lonely woman, from the first, in a strange land, she remained a lonely woman still. Her sympathies were not with the English nobles, by whom she was surrounded, nor theirs with her. Sickly, prematurely old, afflicted with the repeated loss of her children, destined never to give birth to a son and heir, when a son and heir was so much desired and expected, she had but one surviving child, the princess Mary, on whom all her affections were centered, the last green branch of a withered tree doomed to hopeless and helpless decay. None but those who have experienced similar griefs, and successive bereavements of all their expectations, can realise the trembling tenacity of maternal love with which she clung to this frail prop of her affections. Hitherto mother and daughter had never been parted. A fair child with a profusion of flaxen ringlets, as slight in person as her mother's hopes, Mary had grown up the admiration of all beholders. Like all the Tudors she was an accomplished musician; and, like them, at ten years of age could converse fluently in French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin. Now mother and child were to be separated. By the political arrangements of the time, Mary, as princess of Wales, was to hold her little court at Ludlow; as the duke of Richmond was to represent viceroyalty in the North, associated with the ancient names of York and Lancaster. The dark shadows were falling thick and fast on Katharine's life; for even her nephew seemed to have forgotten her. At the close of the year she wrote to the Emperor, tenderly complaining of his neglect. "For upwards of two years," she says, "I have had no letters from Spain. And yet I am sure I deserve not this treatment, for such are my affection and readiness for your service, that I deserve a better reward." (fn. 78) As this and all her letters were carried by ambassadors sent from this country, it was not to be expected that she should intrust her more intimate thoughts to such a channel.
Birth and parentage of the Duke.
Of the birth and parentage of this Henry Fitzroy duke of Richmond, who thus suddenly blazed up into notoriety, a few particulars may aptly find a place here. He was the son of Elizabeth Blount, and was born in 1519. According to Hall, (fn. 79) "the King in his fresh youth was in the chains of love with a fair damsel called Elizabeth Blount, daughter to Sir John Blount, knight; which damsel, in singing, dancing, and in all goodly pastimes, exceeded all other; by which goodly pastimes she won the King's heart, and she again showed him such favor that by him she bore a goodly man-child, of beauty like to the father and mother." Thus Hall, touching this connection and the parentage of the King's mistress with a light hand. Darcy, in the bitter and malignant articles drawn up by him, as the basis of Wolsey's impeachment, is much less complimentary. He makes this one of the charges against the Cardinal: "We have begun to encourage the young gentlewomen of the realm to be our concubines by the well marrying of Besse Blount; whom we would yet, by sleight, have married much better than she is; and for that purpose changed her name." (fn. 80) The fact appears to be that Elizabeth Blount was one of the ladies in waiting on the Queen. As such, an entry is found in the King's Book of Payments, under May 1513, of 100s. paid to her "for a year's wages;" (fn. 81) and as John Blount's name occurs in conjunction with hers as King's spear, at 3s. 4d. a day, it is probable that this is the Sir John Blount mentioned by the Chronicler. (fn. 82) Her name occurs again as taking part with Mistress (that is, Miss) Carew in the revels at Court held on Christmas day 1514; and among "the persons in the mummery" were the King and the duke of Suffolk, Sir Thomas Boleyn and his son George. The intimacy between the King and this lady must evidently have begun at an early date, as Suffolk, in a letter to the King, written in October the same year, desires the King will remember him to Mistress Blount and Mistress Carew; (fn. 83) words which would seem to imply a familiarity between them; otherwise the Duke would scarcely have selected these ladies from the rest of the Court for such a message, or have ventured to take such a liberty with the King. After the birth of her son, Elizabeth Blount married Sir Gilbert Talboys, apparently in the year 1522; at all events, they were married before 1523, as appears by the Act of Parliament of that year. Sir Gilbert was the son of Sir George and lady Elizabeth Talboys, of Goltho, in Lincolnshire, and was apparently at the time in Wolsey's service. His father, Sir George, who had distinguished himself in the early wars of Henry VIII., became insane, and was committed, as a lunatic, in 1517, (fn. 84) to the Cardinal's custody; a charge in which he was associated with Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, Sir Robert Dymoke, John and Thomas Hennege, with whom Sir George and his wife were intimately connected by blood. By an Act of Parliament, 14 Henry VIII. ch. 34, in consideration that both the son and the father had received by this marriage "not alonely great sums of money, but also many benefits," certain manors were assured to the young lady Elizabeth, for life, in the counties of Lincoln and of York. In the autumn of 1524, her husband was created Sir Gilbert, (fn. 85) and became sheriff of Lincolnshire the next year. But these settlements, as might be expected, occasioned a good deal of ill feeling between the mother and the son. (fn. 86) With this, however, we are not concerned.
At what period the child was taken from his mother, whether before or at his creation as duke of Richmond, there are no means of ascertaining. He had for his instructors Richard Croke, the famous Greek scholar, and John Palsgrave, author of the first French grammar in the English tongue. (fn. 87) In a letter to the child's mother, then married to Sir Gilbert, Palsgrave speaks in most enthusiastic terms of the young Duke's "especial gifts of grace;" an hopes they will not be perverted by evil-disposed persons,—referring to those whom the King had placed about his person, and who do not seem to have been much concerned in furthering his education. "Madam," he says, "to be plain with you, on my conscience, my lord of Richmond is of as good a nature, as much inclined to all manner virtuous and honorable inclinations, as any babes living. Now is my room undoubted great about him; for the King's grace said unto me, in the presence of Master Parr and Master Page,"—two of the Duke's Council,—"'I deliver,' quoth he, 'unto you three my worldly jewel; you twain to have the guiding of his body, and thou, Palsgrave, to bring him up in virtue and learning.'" (fn. 88)
The affection thus entertained by the King for the Duke was never diminished, not even when he had fallen under the spell of Anne Boleyn, and for a time seemed to have lost all thoughts and feelings except for her. Foreign ambassadors are unanimous in their praises of the Duke's accomplishments and the graces of his person. It was not, therefore, without reason that Katharine may have regarded the King's partiality to the Duke with some twinges of uneasiness, especially as rumors unfavorable to herself were already beginning to prevail; and there were at least those about her, even if she herself were free from every taint of jealousy, who would not fail to contrast the splendid arrangements made for the Duke, his household, education, and influence, as compared with the more meagre provision for Henry's legitimate successor, the princess Mary.
Rejoicings at Court.
The dread of the Turks, the perilous ambition of Charles V., the desecration of the Holy See, diminished nothing of the splendor and gaiety of the new year in England. "Last evening," says the Venetian secretary, "I was present at a very sumptuous supper given by cardinal Wolsey. Among the guests were the Papal, French, and Venetian ambassadors, and the chief nobility of the English court. I considered myself out of place by the side of a very beautiful damsel, each of the guests having one to his share. During the supper the King arrived, with a gallant company of masqueraders, and after presenting himself to the Cardinal, threw a main at dice; and then unmasked, as did all his companions; whereupon he withdrew to sup in one of the Cardinal's chambers, the rest of the guests continuing their repast, with such a variety of the choicest viands and wines as to be marvellous. Supper being ended, they proceeded to the first hall, with which you are well acquainted, and where a very well designed stage had been prepared, on which the Cardinal's gentlemen recited the Latin comedy of Plautus, called the Menæchmei. At its conclusion all the actors, one after the other, presented themselves to the King, and on their knees recited to him Latin verses in his praise, some more, and some less. When he had heard them all, the King betook himself with the rest of the guests to the hall where supper had been served, where the tables were spread with all sorts of the choicest confections.
"After this marvellous collation a stage was displayed, on which sat Venus, at whose feet were six damsels, forming so graceful a group for her footstool, as if she and they had really come down in person from Heaven. (fn. 89) Whilst every one was attentively gazing on this beautiful sight, a flourish of trumpets was heard, and a car appeared, drawn by three naked boys, on which sate a Cupid, dragging after him, bound by a silver rope, six old men clad in shepherds' weeds, the material being cloth of silver and white satin. Cupid presented them to his mother, with a most elegant oration in Latin, complaining that they had been most cruelly wounded; whereupon Venus compassionately replied in language equally choice, and made the six nymphs, the sweethearts of the old men, to descend, commanding them to afford their lovers all solace and pastime, and requite them for past pangs. Each of the nymphs was then taken in hand by her suitor, and they performed a very beautiful dance to the sound of the trumpet. On its termination, the King and his minions commenced another with the ladies then present; and with this entertainment the night ended, for the day was already breaking." (fn. 90)
The Spaniards and Germans in Italy.
Whilst the English court was thus spending the season in pleasure and amusements, Charles prepared to renew the war in Italy, with all its attendant horrors, rapacity, cruelty and deceit, such as had scarcely dis- graced war even in Heathen times. The idea of providing adequate pay and provisions for his armies in Italy never entered his thoughts. War was to be fed by war. The licentiousness of a brutal and demoralized soldiery, long accustomed to violence and rapine, was allowed to display itself, unchecked by its mercenary officers, in every form of excess which could disgrace humanity. In the political schemes of the sovereigns of Europe no one thought of the sufferings of the population, whose fields were trampled down, whose houses were rifled, whose wives and daughters were violated, without compunction, by Spaniards and Germans, the former of whom were mainly recruited from Maroons or renegade Moors, and the latter from the robber fastnesses of Germany. On the pretext of demanding their pay, they refused to stir except when they pleased, or rather where the expectations of plunder led them. On the march they fell out of the ranks, and dispersed themselves in all directions for fuel and provisions, regardless alike of friend or of foe. In the great cities, as in Milan, the common soldiers washed their feet in rose-water, drank the choicest wines, plundered the churches, and laid under contribution, for their maintenance, all who were not rich or fortunate enough to flee and find an asylum elsewhere. "At Florence," says a contemporary, "they robbed the temples, slew the religious, made use of the holy oil and chrism to smear their shoes, cut the crucifix into a thousand pieces, and threw it into the fire. In Borgo Donnino, where stood an image of St. Anthony, they plundered the church in which the people had stored their goods for security, tied a halter round the image, as if it were alive, and hauled it up and down like a malefactor. Milan, under the protection of the Emperor, is empty of all its more respectable inhabitants." (fn. 91) It was in this city that the soldiers threatened Bourbon to sack the town if their wages were not duly paid. Here also Bourbon put the principal inhabitants to the torture to procure the money. "The Swabians and Spaniards," says Russell, "commit horrible atrocities. They have burned houses to the value of two hundred millions of ducats, with all the churches, images, and priests that fell into their hands. They compelled priests and monks to violate the nuns. ... They did not spare the boys, and carried off the girls; and whenever they found the host in the church they threw it into the river, or the vilest places they could find. ... Woe to us, woe to the Emperor, if these Germans and Spaniards ever get the upper hand." (fn. 92)
The Pope perplexed and terrified.
It might have been supposed that such hordes of lank and hungry wolves could more than once have been taken at advantage, and have been easily dispersed by the League; but the army of the confederates, commanded by the duke of Urbino, an incompetent, irresolute, and indolent general, did nothing; either, as it was then thought, from the Duke's treachery, or really from his inability. This, however, may be said in his excuse; that the vacillation of Clement paralyzed the little energy of the leaguers. In a fit of resentment, he had written a very bitter letter to the Emperor, excusing himself for the part he had taken, and attributing his hostility to the Emperor's determination to ruin Italy and devastate the patrimony of the Church. Frightened at his own audacity, he attempted to recall the letter, and substitute one of a milder tone in its place. But his repentance came too late. Before the Nuncio who had charge of it could be made aware of this change in the mind of the Sovereign Pontiff, he had delivered the Pope's defiant missive, and roused to boiling pitch the anger of Charles, who responded in the same tone. On the arrival of the second letter his anger was mollified. He expressed his desire to secure the peace of Christendom and the favorable opinion of the Pope; but though Charles seldom betrayed his emotion by word or gesture, it was not in his nature to forgive and to forget. Clement himself, a prey alternately to fear and hope, vacillating between his wish for peace and his hatred of Imperial arrogance, leaned first to one side, then to the other, suspected alike by friends and foes. His allies considered it a waste of men and treasure to support a cause, which, as it seemed to them, the Pope would be the first to betray; whilst his foes, playing upon his fears, augmented their demands in proportion to his inability to refuse them. Torn by conflicting passions, distracted by opposite counsels, the Pope could decide neither on peace nor on war. Both were alike objectionable. The Viceroy demanded, as the price of peace, Milan for Bourbon,—full restitution of the Colonnese,—right of presentation to fifteen sees in Naples,—200,000 ducats for the soldiers, for the last, and 200,000 ducats more for the coming year. (fn. 93) Outrageous as such demands may appear, the Pope was inclined to accept them. The Germans were preparing to advance; the Viceroy from Naples, Bourbon from Milan, were turning their steps in the direction of Rome, and of Florence, the patrimonial inheritance of the Pope. An ineffectual attack on Frosinone, belonging to the Estates of the Church, a more conciliatory letter from the Emperor, jealousy of Bourbon, who had now started from Milan, induced the Viceroy to moderate his demands; and a truce for eight days was arranged, in order to communicate the terms to the Venetians. (fn. 94) Meantime money and reinforcements had arrived from France and England. (fn. 95) Russell on the part of England, the Venetians for themselves, refused to be parties to the accommodation with the Viceroy. The Pope, now in expectation of further aid, was not sorry for an opportunity of changing his mind once more. "The Pope," says a contemporary, "has received immense consolation, in the midst of his distresses, from the King and Wolsey. Three times 30,000 crowns would not have encouraged him more than their kind words have done, bidding him not to fear any danger, for whether a universal peace be made, or the Emperor refuse it, they will still support him. ... The Pope is particularly pleased with Russell's commission to the Viceroy (i. e. to make peace), and will be delighted if he can obtain a suspension of hostilities without being called upon to pay money." (fn. 96) But though a new gleam of prosperity had thus broken upon the League, terror, augmented with impatience, proved a stronger motive than any other in the breast of Clement VII. Two days after, his fears of the Emperor prevailed over his better resolution. He was urgent that Russell should go to the Viceroy for a suspension of arms, at any hazard; for his confederates if possible, for himself by all means. (fn. 97) In vain it was represented to him that a little patience and exertion on his part would end in the discomfiture of his enemies;—that the Spaniards and Germans could take no towns, for they were not in a condition to undertake a protracted siege,—and if they attacked any, they must attack Florence, where they could easily be broken. Such a thought threw his Holiness into agonies of despair. Any attack upon Florence by the Imperialists was a calamity too terrible to be borne. "We told him," says Sir Gregory Casale, "to remember what Guicciardini and others had written, that Florence was wholly impregnable, especially now that it had been fortified according to the plans of Peter of Navarre. He could only wring his hands, and declare that if he were the cause of bringing an enemy into Tuscany all his relations would be banished. France gave him nothing but words. He was too poor and too weak to support the burthen alone."
An armistice proposed.
Russell returned with Fieramosca from the Viceroy on the 21st, bringing proposals for an armistice between the Emperor, France, and Venice, (fn. 98) on the most favorable terms. The Viceroy no longer demanded money or security, or even restitution of the Colonnese; "and the Pope, thinking the opportunity should not be lost, would have concluded negociations on the spot," if Russell had not urged him to wait for the answer of his confederates. (fn. 99) His fears and suspicions arose at every symptom of delay—even at the necessary precautions required for binding the Imperialists to their promise. Florence was the chief cause of his alarm; but he distrusted the duke of Urbino, and was convinced that neither the French nor the Venetians had funds sufficient for maintaining the war. Distrusting all, he resolved to act for himself, and coming events, now advancing with terrible pace, precipitated his resolution.
Bourbon's march to Rome.
Finding it impossible to maintain himself any longer in Milan, Bourbon had sent a message to Freundsberg, a commander of German mercenaries, to join him with his forces before the walls of Piacenza. On the 20th of February he crossed the Trebbia, with an army composed of 12,000 German foot, 4,000 Spaniards, 2,000 Italian volunteers, and 5,000 lances. On the 22nd he arrived at San Donnino, traversed Reggio, passed the Secchia, reached Buonporto on the 5th of March. At Fiesole he visited the duke of Ferrara to concert measures for the campaign. On the 7th he lodged at San Giovanni, near the confines of Bologna, giving out that he intended to pass on to Naples. On the 14th the troops mutinied for pay, pillaged the Duke's lodgings, and slew one of his gentlemen. A heavy fall of snow and rain prevented their advance for the present.
Bourbon and his troops reject the armistice.
Meanwhile, the Pope, harassed beyond measure at the approach of the Imperialists, afraid lest the Florentines should throw off their allegiance, well aware of the intentions of the soldiers under Bourbon to sack and pillage Rome, had arranged on the 15th a truce of eight months with the Imperialists, (fn. 100) and despatched Fieramosca to communicate the intelligence to Bourbon. Confiding in the promises and pretences of the Viceroy, Clement, with incredible temerity, disbanded his forces, retaining only 200 light horse and 2,000 foot. On Fieramosca's appearance in Bourbon's camp, he was roughly handled by the soldiers, and his propositions rejected. Too late, (fn. 101) Clement now endeavored to retrace his steps, and revoke the conditions he had made with the Viceroy, in whose conduct it is hard to say whether duplicity or cowardice was the prevailing element. (fn. 102) In the first instance, Bourbon had intended to lay siege to Florence, as many of its citizens were anxious to expel the Medici. But the appearance of the duke of Urbino on the 25th at once pacified the sedition, and put the city into a posture of defence. (fn. 103) On the 27th Bourbon turned his steps to Rome. His march was encumbered with numerous obstacles. Snow and rain had fallen in great abundance, rendering roads and rivers impassable, and the transport of artillery impossible. It was necessary to lose no time, in order to take the Romans unprepared, and anticipate a counter movement on the part of the duke of Urbino, who, with characteristic indecision, wasted the precious hours in making preparation, and on the 5th of May, when Bourbon was at Rome, had advanced no further than Perugia. Leaving their artillery at Siena, and forsaking the high road, the Spaniards and Germans, with incredible labour, threaded their way by bridlepaths and mountainous defiles, making no stay to collect provisions, of which they stood greatly in need. In Rome all was confusion. The Pope, trusting entirely in his perplexity to Renzo da Ceri, a soldier of more vanity than experience, who had hurriedly levied recruits from the stable boys of the Cardinals, and the shops of artificers, neglected to take the commonest precautions for retarding the advance of Bourbon, or securing the safety of the city. No bridges were cut, no adequate means adopted for strengthening the defences, many of which had fallen into ruins.
Bourbon appears before Rome.
Arriving at Rome on Saturday, the 4th of May, (fn. 104) Bourbon posted his troops behind St. Peter's, near the St. Pancras gate; and immediately sent a trumpet to the Pope, demanding permission to enter the city and purchase provisions. Notwithstanding all the hardships and privations to which his army had been exposed during its march, instead of being diminished, its numbers had been greatly increased by Italian renegades. It had swept into its track the inhabitants of the villages through which it passed, all of whom eagerly joined its ranks, hoping to share in the plunder. Barbarians have done much in the course of ages to injure Rome; but barbarians could have done little had they not been aided by Italian hands and Italian treachery. Rome's worst enemies have proceeded from its own loins. By the advice of Italians, Bourbon had been induced to besiege Florence, hoping to reward his soldiers with its spoils. By the same advice, when he found the Florentines resolved to defend themselves, he had abandoned the siege, and advanced with his troops to Rome. Italians guided his march, Italian heads plotted and directed the attack. The Germans under Freundsberg had left their country, shoeless and penniless. Ragged and half-starved by their long privations, they had but one thought,—to satisfy their hunger and fill their pockets. The Spaniards, licentious, sensual, and perfidious, long accustomed to the idleness and dissipation of Milan, had been induced to evacuate their quarters with the greatest reluctance, expecting to find in Rome a richer and more luxurious capital than that which they had left. But for these passions they had one palliation; Italy was not their country, nor was Rome their capital. Not less rapacious than the Germans, not less cruel and perfidious than the Spaniard, the Italian plundered and sacked his common country, and led its enemies to the spoil he had neither the courage nor the strength to have seized alone.
Attack upon Rome.
The morning of the 6th rose heavy with clouds and fogs, hiding from the Romans the advance and ma- nœuvres of their assailants. Their artillery, in which alone they had the advantage, proved useless. The guns from their forts thundered idly in the air, more mischievous to themselves than their enemy. Twice the assault was given, and twice the assailants were repulsed. At the third onset, Bourbon was seen, conspicuous in his white armour, holding a ladder in his left hand, and with his right beckoning his soldiers to follow. He had scarcely mounted the second round, when he was struck with a harquebus from behind, and fell mortally wounded at the Thurion gate. Some say that he died immediately, and that a cloak was thrown over his body by the prince of Orange to conceal his death from the soldiers; others say that when he found himself wounded, he was assisted to descend, carried into a neighbouring chapel, and when the Thurion gate was taken, conveyed into the church of San Sisto. (fn. 105) "Before his death he confessed, received his Creator, and desired to be taken to Milan, though some thought he meant Rome; for he died murmuring à Rome, à Rome." (fn. 106)
More thick and murky fell the mist, hiding from each other assailants and assailed. In the pause, Renzo, who defended the walls with 4,000 men, cried out that Bourbon and Orange were taken; but the Spaniards, with renewed cries of Carne, carne,—Sangre, sangre,—Bourbon, Bourbon, carried the ramparts with a desperate effort, and drove the defenders before them, about two in the afternoon. As an indication of the utter want of care and foresight on the part of the Pope, a detachment of the enemy endeavored to gain admittance unperceived, by the bastion of San Spirito, near the garden of cardinal Ermellino, where the walls were low, and their continuity interrupted by a small house, which had only been masked with clay. (fn. 107) Here a small body of Spaniards contrived to gain an entry; and the besieged, seeing their approach, and believing the city to be taken, fled in disorder. Some were crushed in their flight, others jumped into the Tiber; soldiers and people were mingled together in one headlong and indiscriminate rout. The Pope, who sat unmoved in his chair at St. Peter's, and only smiled at the fears of the anxious throng by whom he was surrounded, now fled in precipitation along the corridor which leads to the Castle of St. Angelo. The approaches were obstructed by a vast crowd of prelates, merchants, Jews, and ladies, all fleeing for safety in the same direction. As the Pope and the higher ecclesiastics pressed in for admittance, the hopeless fugitives of lower rank were driven back, and, compelled to make way, were crushed to death, or forced over the bridge into the Tiber. The rusty portcullis was lowered with difficulty, and the hapless crowd without was abandoned to the rage of the infuriated foe. No one, says an eyewitness, had resolution enough, like Horatius Cocles, to oppose the enemy, or prudence enough to set fire to the bridge, which would have embarrassed the invaders, and exposed them to the fire of St. Angelo. Small and ineffectual as were the means of defence left at the disposal of the Sovereign Pontiff, they were rendered more ineffectual still by the total absence of plan, co-operation, leadership, individual bravery, or presence of mind. All fled like sheep before wolves, or glided adroitly into the ranks of their pursuers, turning their arms against their countrymen.
The cruel conduct of the invaders.
Seeing the walls left defenceless, the Spaniards shouted to their comrades to advance, and the carnage became general. No quarter was given, no sex and no age was spared. Abandoning their arms, the Romans fled in vain for protection to their churches and their altars. Altars and churches were little regarded by demoralized Spaniards, and by Germans more brutal than Goths or Vandals.
Abandoning the siege of St. Angelo as hopeless, and leaving a strong guard at its gates to prevent the escape of the Pope and the Cardinals, the enemy now divided themselves into companies and plundered the city. Resistance was in vain, if any thought of resistance. The wretched inhabitants, exposed to the passions of a brutal and infuriated soldiery, could only offer their goods to be burnt or pillaged, happy if, by the sacrifice of all that was precious or dear to them, they could save their lives. Not unfrequently, when they had sacrificed all, they were put to death in cold blood, in a fit of drunken passion, or to gratify a savage jest. If fathers and mothers wept at the murder of their children, or the violation of their daughters, their emotions were interpreted as an insult to the victors; if they hid their emotions under a forced tranquillity, they were exposed to still greater cruelties for their assumed indifference. Convents and churches were no more spared than private houses. The restraints that religion might otherwise have imposed only stimulated the licentiousness of the invaders; and the most obscene debaucheries were mingled with acts of revolting blasphemy and indescribable brutality.
When the soldiers had, in some measure, slaked their thirst for blood, they fell to rifling the churches. It would be mere mockery to suppose that religion had any share in these enormities, or that the Lutheran tenets of the Germans transported them with iconoclastic zeal to shatter images, and set fire to shrines and religious houses. Yet the evidence is indisputable that Lutherans at the time looked upon these scenes with more than pious resignation, and imagined that Luther was honored by an impious travestie of holy things enacted by a disorderly horde of robbers. No sooner did they enter a church than they swept away copes, chalices, images, and ornaments,—all, in short, that was really valuable, or thought to be. Relics were cast to the ground, with an air of contempt; images of saints were plucked from their niches, broken up, or thrown into the fire. Pictures and frescoes were mutilated in sport. Some breaking into the sacristies, put on the vestments, and mounting the altar officiated in derision, substituting for prayers the most horrible blasphemies. Others paraded the streets in the robes and ornaments of bishops and cardinals. One group of Lutheran infantry, in their drunken orgies, laid hold of the cardinal Ara Celi, carried him on a bier throughout the streets of Rome, singing the office for the dead. Stopping before one of the churches they pronounced over him a funeral oration, interlarded with the most revolting obscenities. Then taking him to their quarters they compelled him to serve them with the choicest wines in consecrated vessels. The higher the rank of their prisoners, the greater their reputation for wealth, the more refined and exquisite were the tortures prepared for them. Some were suspended by their arms in the air; others, with their feet shackled, were dangled over wells and deep pits of water, with the threat of having the rope cut if they did not declare where their treasures were hidden. Many sunk under the blows they received, or were branded with fire in different parts of their bodies, or their teeth torn out, or molten lead poured into their mouths. In one instance, a prelate who had been taken prisoner with a diamond ring on his finger, was compelled to surrender it. As the soldier who was drawing it off lost patience, his corporal, seeing his embarrassment, drew his knife, cut off the prisoner's finger, and presented it to his comrade. Drawing off the ring, the soldier threw back the finger in the face of the unhappy prisoner. It might have seemed as if the old persecuting era of Nero and Domitian had returned,—only that in the worst days of these enemies of the Christian faith no brutality, no licentiousness, had ever reached the height to which these soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire, and of him who was the hereditary patron of the Church, now carried their excesses.
Helped by Italians.
Fierce and brutal as were these German troopers, drawn from the robber fastnesses of their own land, and accustomed to all sorts of lawlessness and violence, it is not to be doubted that they found guides and advisers in their renegade Italian associates, and the vilest scum of the vilest population. Italian servants betrayed their masters. Italian residents pointed out to the enemies of their country the most costly palaces, the secret retreats of the rich, the noble, and defenceless. Italian ingenuity suggested the more refined methods of cruelty, the more scandalous violations of oaths and promises. No sight of blood, though the blood was Roman, no misery, no despair, moved them to pity, still less to interpose and mitigate the sufferings of the unhappy citizens. Not an instance is mentioned of these Italians administering aid or comfort to the dying and the wounded, who perished forgotten and neglected alike by friends and foes.
In the horrors of the siege, men, women, and children cast themselves down from the roofs of their houses, rather than fall into the hands of their persecutors; others were pushed out of windows at the point of the lance. In once instance a prisoner, unable any longer to endure the tortures to which he was subjected, escaped from the hands of his tormentors by dashing out his brains against the pavement; in another, a Florentine, who had paid down 1,000 crowns for his liberty, after being put to the torture, was required to pay the same in gold. Unable to raise the sum, he was again put to the torture, and in his agony seizing a poignard from his tormentor, plunged it into his breast, and then slew himself.
Enormous as was the booty, it was soon squandered in gambling, or disposed of for wholly inadequate sums to the Jewish cormorants and vultures that hang on the skirts of invading armies. Staggering along the streets in rich copes, jewelled collar, and magnificent bracelets, these Germans, who had entered Rome shoeless and in rags, would stake and lose all on a throw of the dice, and, naked as before, start afresh in search of plunder to retrieve their losses. Others might be seen tramping about the city, like cardinals, followed by a long train of lacquies, attended by their concubines in the embroidered robes, the mitres, and the chasubles they had rifled from the sanctuaries. The waste, the profligacy, the numerous unburied corpses, brought with them the usual Nemesis of plague and famine. The terrors inspired by the soldiers had effectually cut off all supply of provisions from the country; and as the occupation of the city lasted many weeks, the privations of the inhabitants, reduced to feed on roots and herbs, became intolerable. Disease raged everywhere. The contagion spread from the populace to the soldiers; and the plague, less discriminating than the sword, mowed down alike both the conqueror and the conquered.
The these details, preserved in the main by an eyewitness, Jacopo Buonaparte, a gentleman of San Miniato, I add an abridged account of the same siege, sent by an Imperial officer, and an attendant on Bourbon, to the Emperor Charles V.
He writes (fn. 108) in Italian by the hand of another, being disabled, as will be shown further on;—and proceeds to say that—
"After Bourbon had joined the Emperor's army against Florence and Siena, finding that Florence was well fortified, and defended by the army of the League, so that it would have been almost impossible to take it, and victuals meanwhile would have run short, while, on the other hand, Rome was defenceless, and by plundering it and putting the Pope to great extremity we should gain all the rest, Bourbon determined to push on by forced marches to Rome, before the army of the League should come to its assistance. To do this the better all the artillery was left at Siena. We accordingly pushed on at the rate of 20 or 24 miles a day, a speed quite extraordinary for so great an army, oppressed by fatigue and hunger. On Saturday the 4th, the army occupied l'Isola, seven miles from Rome. Bourbon and all the principal persons were greatly surprised that the Pope and Cardinals, seeing their danger, and being unarmed, sent no ambassador or message. Several of your Majesty's good subjects thought that if the army came up to the walls, it was a question whether it could take the city, having no artillery; and this would be the destruction of the army. But if it was taken, they foresaw it would have to be put to the sack; which would be injurious to your Majesty's service, because, being enriched by plunder, the army would be dispersed, and the Spaniards and Italians would withdraw to Naples; on the other hand, if the troops did not proceed, they would demand their pay, and this it was impossible to give them. We, therefore, advised Bourbon to manage so that he might be able to make some arrangement with the Pope, without the entire destruction of Rome. Bourbon approved of this, and desired some arrangement to enable him to pay the army; nevertheless he said he was not bound to take care of the interests of the enemy, or give his time to provide for himself, alleging that the admiral of France forbore to sack Milan when he had it in his power, and lost the opportunity of taking it, because it was afterwards defended by Signor Prospero; and that in another case, when Chiaramonte was before Bologna, and treating with pope Julius, Fabricius Colonna entered the city, and the Pope repudiated the treaty.
Bourbon accordingly drew near, and on Sunday morning, the 5th, we lodged in the palace of St. Peter's, near the monastery of St. Pancras. Nevertheless, Bourbon wrote in the morning a letter to the Pope, urging him to take some good appointment, and not drive matters to extremity. At last it was proposed that I should go to the Pope; but, not having a safe-conduct, it was thought right that I should remain. The letter was sent by a trumpet, but he was not allowed to pass, and whether it got to the Pope's hands or not, we do not know. No answer came. We had promised to wait till the 22nd hour of the day, after which it would be impossible to restrain the army. In the evening, accordingly, scaling ladders were provided for the assault next morning at the Borgo, on the side of the furnaces, where the wall was considered to be weakest. On the morning of Monday, the 6th, the assault was given, and by mischance Bourbon was hit by a harquebus in the lower part of the belly, near the right thigh; of which wound he died immediately. Nevertheless the event was concealed. The Borgo was taken that morning. The Pope with the greater part of the Cardinals and men of the Court, were in the palace, but on hearing of their loss withdrew into the Castle St. Angelo.
"Having entered, our men sacked the whole Borgo, and killed almost every one they found, making only a very few prisoners. There were not, I believe, more than 3,000 of the enemy in Rome, and they hardly made any defence. Unluckily for them a dark fog prevailed all day, and people could hardly see each other. The fight lasted two hours. The Romans, as we have heard, were fully persuaded by Renzo da Ceri that neither the Borgo nor Rome could be stormed without artillery, and they waited for succors from the army of the League. In this state of affairs, the Pope being in the Castle of St. Angelo, those Romans who had taken arms, and a few soldiers that remained, defending the bridges and the part called the Transtiberine, the greater part of the army being in the Borgo, and the captains and councillors of the army being joined together, an ambassador of the king of Portugal came to us, showing that some Romans near him had come by consent of the Pope to treat of an appointment. He was answered that if the Pope could first put in the hands of the said captains the Ponte Molle and the Transtiberine suburb, we were content to treat. The ambassador did not return that day with any answer. The Transtiberine was stormed and taken, and shortly afterwards the bridges of Sisto and S. Maria, by which the army made an entrance into Rome. This was early in the evening of the 6th. Yet the Romans had been all so confident of the power of the city to hold out that not a single person had fled out of the city, or carried anything away. Thus persons of every nation, age, sex, and degree were taken prisoners, and not one escaped. All the monasteries were rifled, and the ladies who had taken refuge in them carried off. Every person was compelled by torture to pay a ransom, not according to his condition, but according to the will of the soldiers, after being stripped of all his goods. The greater part were unable to pay, and remained in prison, subjected to ill treatment. The cardinals of Siena, Cesarino, and Enchivort remained in their houses, expecting to be better treated, because they were Imperialists; and cardinals Bancat [Brancazio?], Trani, and Jacobazio, and a number of ladies and friends, had taken refuge with them, with their goods; but finding that no more respect was paid to them than to the others, each of them was content to compound for a great ransom. Nevertheless, even this did not help them much; for in three or four days these houses were entirely sacked; and with great difficulty some ladies and others took refuge in the house of cardinal Colonna, who had lost every bit of furniture he had. There remained only a mantle and a single shirt. Cardinals S. Sisto and Minerva, who had remained at home, are now in the hands of the soldiers, because, being poor, they could not pay a ransom. The ornaments of all the churches were pillaged, and the relics and other sacred things thrown into sinks and cesspools. Even the holy places were sacked. The church of St. Peter and the Papal palace, from basement to the top, were turned into stables for horses. I am convinced your Majesty, as a most Christian prince, will be grieved at all this havock and contempt of the city of Rome; but every one considers it has taken place by the just judgment of God, because the court of Rome was so ill ruled. Nevertheless the ruin is too great, and it is felt that no remedy is possible without your Majesty's presence and authority.
"This army has neither head nor members, obedience, nor form of any kind. Every one does what he pleases. The prince of Orange and Giovanni d'Orbina do what they can, but it is of little use. The lanceknights have behaved like very Lutherans, the others as among Christians. The greater part of the army have enriched themselves by the sack, which amounts to many millions of gold. It is believed that great part of the Spaniards will retire with their booty to Naples.
"On Tuesday morning, the 7th, the second day of our entry, the Pope wrote a letter to the captains, praying them to send me to his Holiness. I accordingly went by their direction to the Castle of St. Angelo, where I found his Holiness with 13 of his cardinals, in great grief, as might have been expected. The Pope told me, weeping, in the presence of all the Cardinals, that since fate had brought him to this, owing to his trusting too much to the capitulation with the Viceroy, he no longer wished to make any defence, but would place his person and those of the Cardinals in the hands of your Majesty, and desired me to be mediator with the captains for some good appointment. I gave his Holiness and the Cardinals what consolation I could, saying they might well imagine it was not the intention of the Emperor to maltreat the Pope or the Holy See; and that they were much to blame, as it had been in their power by some good appointment to have prevented the army from coming so near. Neverthe- less, I undertook to do what was right, and went several times backwards and forwards between the captains, the Pope, and the Cardinals; so that in four days I had arranged a capitulation, which was generally considered useful and honorable to your Majesty. I know not how your Majesty will be pleased with what followed, but that I leave to your judgment. The Pope at first objected to the form of the obligation, but at last consented. It is true there was some impediment on our part which delayed the execution; this was the ill behavior of the Germans, who were in hopes that we should not leave Rome, or agree to any arrangement, until they were paid all that was due to them, amounting, by their reckoning, to 300,000 scudi; and as the Pope could only pay 100,000 scudi, selling all that he had in the Castle, both of his own and of the Church's ornaments, and goods of the Cardinals and others, no means could be found to satisfy their demands. So I am in great fear lest, by the brutality of the Germans and the fault of others, the whole fruit of our enterprise will be lost, especially as the army of the League is not far off; not more, it is believed, than 20 or 25 miles; and some of their men have made an attempt to liberate the Pope. A few days later it was arranged with the lanceknights that the amount paid by the Pope should be given to them; and the prince of Orange and other captains promised that they should be paid in full, out of the first moneys recovered, as surety for which Parma and Piacenza should be placed in their hands. By these two conditions we hope to stave off their eagerness (rabbia) to have the Pope and Cardinals in their hands, for which they make great importunity. In truth, this treaty is of such great importance that your Majesty's servants seem to have undertaken every obligation with these lanceknights to secure the lives of the Pope and the Cardinals. Some difficulty remains about finding the 100,000 sc., but I hope to hit on some expedient. Thus it is determined to put, tomorrow, 300 foot into the Castle, for its safe custody, and gradually we shall see to the execution of the rest. In reward for my labours on the first day I treated with the Pope, in going from the Castle I was wounded in the right arm by the shot of an harquebus from the Castle, so I cannot write with my own hand.
"On the 19th May I returned to the Castle to conclude the treaty with the Pope and Cardinals, to which they had added certain articles about the departure of the persons in the Castle. Vespasian Colonna and the abbot of Nogera were with me. As the Pope was unable to pay the 100,000 cr. in money, not having more than 80,000, we sought for merchants, who promised to pay the 20,000 cr. on the security of the Pope and the Cardinals. The Pope, as usual, attempted to procrastinate, wishing to see what assistance could be obtained from the League. In this he was supported by Carpi and the Datary, and Gregory Casale, the English ambassador. In consequence of this delay, it was determined the same night to enclose the Castle with intrenchments, and that the army should take the field. Great difficulty was found in bringing the soldiers together, as they were busy with the booty, and would not turn out, especially the lanceknights, who thought it was a trick to get them out of their quarters. The trenches were so made that neither the Pope nor any one else could escape.
"Great confusion," he continues, "has prevailed in the army since Bourbon's death. If he had lived, Rome, perhaps, would not have been sacked, and matters would have been in a better course; but it is of no use to talk of what cannot be remedied.
"Since Bourbon's death there was no one to take his place. The Viceroy is unpopular, and the duke of Ferrara is away. The prince of Orange has thought of himself as captain general; and everything had been done in his name, not indeed as captain general, but as the chief person in the army. He is a favorite with the Germans. We are expecting to hear from your Majesty how the city is to be governed, and whether the Holy See is to be retained or not. Some are of opinion it should not continue in Rome, lest the French king should make a patriarch in his kingdom, and deny obedience to the said See, and the king of England and all other Christian princes do the same. The Imperialists advise that the Holy See should be kept so low that the Emperor will be able to dispose of it at his pleasure.
"Since the Pope's refusal to agree to the capitulation, the captains and counsellors of the army had been occupied in surrounding St. Angelo with trenches, and preparing to fight in case of any attempt to succour the Pope. Seeing all hope of succour fruitless, the Pope has returned to the negotiation, and his troops evacuated the Castle, of which Alarcon took possession with 300 infantry.
"Last night some Spaniards mutinied against the Germans, being dissatisfied that the money paid by the Pope should be assigned to the payment of the Germans, and that the hostages should be placed in their hands. The Viceroy, who is not well looked on by many, was afraid of harm happening to him, and left Rome. The marquis del Vasto has gone with him, Don Ugo and Alarcon have remained, and with the other captains and counsellors have pacified the Germans. Every day similar dangers and difficulties have happened, and the lanceknights did not refrain from sacking the houses of Spaniards and others.
"There is much famine and pestilence here, but it has not been possible to leave, because of the length of the negotiations with the Pope, and for want of money for the soldiers.
"The prince of Orange was wounded by an harquebus ten days ago. The shot entered under the eye, passed through the head and the palate, and out under his car. There is good hope of his recovery.
"Many think that if your Majesty could make a good peace with France, it would be well for you to come to Italy. In fact, without your coming, all Italy will be destroyed, chiefly because this army thinks of nothing but plunder and destruction, and there is no one to restrain it. Most of the Romans are still prisoners, as the soldiers demand ransoms at their pleasure, which the inhabitants cannot pay, having lost all. No captain dares to speak of a remedy.
"The prince of Orange and these captains, considering that I worked much at the accord by which Parma and Piacenza will come into your Majesty's hands, have granted me the government of these cities, with power to appoint a substitute. I send a copy of the grant, and beg from you a confirmation or new grant, as I wish to give it to my brother.
"Now Bourbon is dead, near whom your Majesty ordered me to live, I wait further orders. Rome, 8 June 1527."
One more extract from a private letter of cardinal Como to his secretary (fn. 109) must close these horrible details:—
"Rome was taken on the 6th. They began to sack the city the same day. The sacking and taking of prisoners continued for 12 days, and it would have lasted longer still if there had been anything to sack, or any more prisoners to take. After the first three days, the prince of Orange, who claimed to be chief on the death of Bourbon, issued a proclamation against plundering and taking prisoners, but the soldiers no longer acknowledged any superior, and behaved more cruelly than before. The palace of Pompeio Colonna, in which was the Chancery, was one of the first places rifled; but Pompeio Colonna had not yet come thither, and little booty was found in it. Next the palace of Campo di Fiore was sacked, and those of all the Cardinals who were in the Castle with the Pope. An attack was then made on the palace of the ambassador of Portugal (Don Martino, nephew of the king of Portugal), who was reported to have a large store of good belonging to merchants. Two Spanish captains volunteered to defend the palace for sufficient drink money. The Portuguese ambassador, confiding in the shadow of his King, whose kinsman he was, said he would have no banner but that of the king of Portugal. The merchants and gentlemen whose goods were in his house, and who had fled to him for protection, prayed him, with tears, to comply with the wishes of the captains; but the ambassador said it was against the honor of his sovereign. The captains went away, and brought Spaniards and lanceknights, who entered the palace together; and though it was very strong, and well fortified with men and artillery, no defence was made. The whole palace was sacked, and all that were within it were made prisoners, both men and women. The ambassador was taken and robbed, and, if he had not been delivered by the help of John de Urbino (d'Orbina), would have been compelled to pay a heavy fine, besides the money and goods he had lost, amounting to more than 13,000 ducats. The total amount of property in the house was upwards of 500,000 ducats: for it was the strongest palace in Rome; and all the Roman gentlemen had deposited their money and jewels in it; the merchants their fine goods, and the Jews their pledges.
"The soldiers then began to attack the other houses of the princes, Romans, and merchants, every one of which was sacked, even to those of the poor water-carriers (acquaroli). There remained the houses of the cardinals Valle, Cesarino, the Fleming Enchivort, and Sienna, to whom, as they were Imperialists, a number of men and women had fled, with their goods, for protection. These houses were spared for eight days. The Spanish captains, pretending a wish for these houses to be spared, offered to protect them for a certain sum. At first they demanded for each of the cardinals' palaces 100,000 ducats, making it a great favor to spare them on these terms. In the end, Cesarino was compelled to agree for 45,000 ducats, La Valle for 35,000, Enchivort for 40,000, Siena for 35,000. These sums were all paid in two days. A day or two after the captains who had received the composition money said that the lanceknights wanted to come and sack, and that they could not prevent them. The lanceknights accordingly attacked the palace of the cardinal of Siena, who thought himself safe by the good cheer he had offered, and the friendly terms on which he stood with the Emperor. The fight raged in his palace for more than four hours; it was entirely gutted, and the Cardinal himself was made prisoner, together with all that were within. He was dragged through the streets without his birretta, with a sorrowful visage, and many kicks and blows, and made to pay 50,000 ducats; and after he had paid them, he was tied to a stable, and his head would have been cut off if he had not paid 50,000 ducats more. As he had no money he was compelled to give a bill for the amount. The lanceknights then said they would sack the palaces of Cesarino, Valle, and Enchivort; who, seeing what had happened to Siena, withdrew in disguise to the house of Pompey Colonna. They had scarcely left when these palaces were all sacked, notwithstanding the composition money already paid. Many ladies who were in the house of La Valle left to go to Pompey Colonna's, but before they could reach it about 200 were carried off, with the greatest cries and lamentations."
After a variety of similar cruelties and extortions practised by the Spaniards and the lanceknights, the writer proceeds:—
"All the churches and monasteries, both of friars and nuns, were sacked. Many friars were beheaded, even priests at the altar; many old nuns were beaten with sticks; many young ones violated, robbed, and made prisoners; all the vestments, chalices, silver, were taken from the churches. The tabernacles in which were contained the Corpus Domini were broken, and the Host itself was thrown, now on the ground, now into the fire, now trampled under foot, now put in a fryingpan to roast, now broken into a hundred pieces. All the silver reliquaries were scattered about. The head of St. John Baptist at San Silvestro was spoiled of its silver and thrown on the ground. It was picked up by a poor old nun. Many of the nuns saved themselves in the house of Pompey Colonna, where there were about 500 in one room; and though Pompey Colonna could help neither friend nor kinsman, no injury was done in his house. All the Spaniards and Germans in Rome, both princes, officials, and men of the Court, were plundered and taken prisoners by the Spaniards themselves, and treated just as cruelly as the others. Signor Pereres [Perez], secretary to the Emperor, was made prisoner, and had to pay a ransom of 2,000 ducats. In short, there is not a house in Rome, either of cardinals' or others, not a church or monastery, either of the Romans or of foreigners, great or small, which has not been sacked; even the houses of the water-carriers and porters. Cardinals, bishops, friars, priests, old nuns, infants, dames, pages, and servants,—the very poorest,—were tormented with unheard-of cruelties,—the son in the presence of his father, the babe in the sight of its mother. Fathers were separated from sons, husbands from wives, so that they knew nothing about each other; menservants and maidservants tortured to reveal hidden treasures, and made prisoners, for the most part, two or three times over; first by the Italians, then by the Spaniards, and afterwards by the lanceknights; sometimes by the very men who had already exacted a fine, and, finding the person rich, demanded another. The houses were sacked three times: first of their plate and fine goods; then of their other movables; lastly, the villanous Colonnesi came, dying with hunger, and sacked and ravaged what the other soldiers had not deigned to take. Laden with their booty they left Rome, taking away even nails and iron bars, so that really scarcely anything whatever is left. All the apothecaries' shops were plundered to no purpose, and the boxes and vases thrown about, so that an ounce of medicine can hardly be purchased in Rome for 10 ducats. All the registers and documents of the Camera Apostolica were sacked, torn to pieces, and partly burnt, so that not a piece of them can be found entire. What a number of bulls were mutilated, their lead torn off to make bullets for the harquebuses! They had begun to sack the Pope's beautiful private library, of which there is not the like in all the world; but Dentuulla, (fn. 110) of the prince of Orange, told them that the Prince forbad them to do much in that quarter, as he had his wardrobe close by; which we had some difficulty in making them believe.
"The whole damage done in Rome is estimated by merchants at six or eight millions of ducats at the least; though the enemy could only have made a little more than one million's worth of the goods taken, and another million out of the compositions and ransoms; but after emptying all the coffers in Rome, they had 100,000 ducats in bills. They had no general. The prince of Orange was their chief in dignity, but they would not obey him.
"The lanceknights cannot bear to hear the Viceroy spoken of 'et li vogliono male di morte. Gio. d'Urbino is the first man of all the Spanish officers that the Spaniards have obeyed. Many of the private soldiers have made as much as 25,000, 30,000, or even 40,000 ducats each. Fancy what the captains have made! The prince of Orange has not gained a farthing. I do not believe it was from any scruple, but that he did not know how.—Civita Vecchia, 24 May 1527."
Thus was Rome besieged, taken, and sacked, not as in the infancy of the Faith, by Goths and Huns, or by Turks and Mahommedans, but in the mature age of Christianity, by her own sons, who professed the same creed and worshipped at the same altars as herself. The sacred and eternal city, once mistress of the world, exercising a prouder lordship than Pagan Rome had ever exercised over the faith and consciences of mankind, was doomed once more to sit in the dust, and mourn over the iniquities of her own children, by whom she had been brought to desolation. The spoiling of her treasures, the destruction of her works of art, the harvests of many generations, the loss of books and records, never to be replaced, were trifles in comparison with the extinction of those traditions of sanctity and inviolability which had descended to her, as an inalienable inheritance, from age to age. Invested in the imaginations of men with the fulness of Apostolic authority, the central home where Christianity had gathered up its strength, and arrayed itself in its most awful majesty, more sacred than Jewry itself, now that Jewry was wholly abandoned to the Infidels, she was no longer the queen and virgin of earlier times. The awe she had once inspired was gone for ever. Yet the world looked with horror and dismay on this spectacle of her ruins. Even those who had been instrumental to her destruction found it necessary to shift the blame from themselves, and shunned the averted looks of those who regarded them as profaners of holy things, and ministers of Satan. The floodgates of the world had broken up, and the day of vengeance was at hand. Rhodes and Hungary delivered to the Turk, Rome trampled down by heretics, the Lutheran defiling the sanctuary, the Infidel openly defying the Vicar of the Most High, what remained except the reign of Antichrist, which was fast coming on the earth? The ancient strongholds of the Faith had fallen and passed away; heresy and corruption were now to triumph in its stead.