Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

the monarch was to dissimulation, this time he could not conceal his affliction. A despatch of Hieronimo Lippomano, the Venetian envoy at Madrid, to the Doge, dated 6th September, 1588, gives a striking account of the desolation and dejection of Philip, and the state of public opinion at Madrid. As for Philip, * It is impossible for the monarch,' he says, “to hide • his distress from the public. He lives quite retired, and will

see no one; he has re-made his will, and passes whole hours ' with his confessor. In another despatch, dated 27th February, 1589, the ambassador further shows how permanently the king had been cast down by the great blow he had received. Another calamity had fallen on the king, in the form of the desperate illness of his son, the heir to the throne, afterwards known as Philip III.

• The King has felt much this misfortune, as was reasonable, and as has been told me by those who entered into his room, he could not utter a word, only he raised his eyes frequently to heaven, and showed inwardly his extreme grief. Yet, on the other hand, he did everything to dissemble his great trouble, never having ceased to sign and carry on his business as he is accustomed ; and he did not even go to see his son while he was in danger, only to-day I hear he has seen him.' (Hübner, vol. iii. p. 295.)

. As for the court, Lippomano says in the first despatch, they reproached aloud the King for having conceived and executed so perilous a design without listening to any other advice but that of Don Juan de Ydiaquez and Don Cristoforo de Moro. They threw blame on the Duke of Parma, they raised to the skies the merits of Santa Cruz, in order to throw discredit on Medina Sidonia. The public of Madrid were not to be deceived by the attempts to conceal the amount of the disaster which had befallen the Spanish fleet, nor the prayers for victory which were still offered in churches, or by the futile demonstrations made for the creation of another Invincible Spanish Armada. New admirals and new generals were named, but ships and men were wanting. Last year,' said the sharp-tongued wits at

• Madrid, “there was a fleet without a commander, this year we have commanders but no fleet.'

At the Vatican, the affliction of the Pope took the form of extreme ill humour. One consolation, however, Sixtus drew from the disaster – he had saved his money, his three millions were safe in the Castle of St. Angelo ; some subsidies he had lost, it is true, but the conditions on which he was to give the million of crowns had not been fulfilled--no Spanish army had set foot in England—and the sum he had promised to pay over to Philip on that contingeney would therefore remain in his own treasury, and not be scattered over the bottom of the English Channel and of the North Sea. Pisany, the French ambassador, was one of the first to see him after the evil news arrived; he took occasion, as representative of Henri III., who had looked with a suspicious eye on the preparations for the Armada, and had been driven from his capital by the machinations of Philip with the League, to recall maliciously to the Pope's memory that he had never angured well of this enterprise of the Armada, undertaken without the advice or concurrence of his king; and Sixtus, contrary to his usual habit, was silent. The audiences of Olivarès with the Pope were of a more stormy nature. The Pope held his peace till the Spanish ambassador demanded the promised million of crowns at once, on the ground of the disaster and of the want of money in Flanders. The Pope replied the convention could not be applied as circumstances now stood. Olivarès answered at length, that the Spanish king invoked not the letter, but the spirit of the convention. The Pope listened to his statement without interruption, but with signs of impatience, clenching his fingers nervously together as his manner was when he was moved. At last he broke out in fury, and refused to listen to any more demands for money till he had further news of the fleet. The Pope, on such occasions of altercation with the Spanish ambassador, gave loose to his passion in a way which brought about scenes almost comic from their violence; he knit his heavy brows, and descended from his seat beneath the baldacchino, and walked violently up and down the room, gesticulating wildly, perorating rapidly, and followed by the ambassador, who was not allowed to put in a word, so long and so vehement and so peremptory was the Pope's outflow of indignation. The high tones of his angry voice were heard even in the antechamber, and his private cameriere, Monsignore Sangaletto, remained with his ear against the door of his inner cabinet, trembling with a mixture of curiosity and fear, and waiting hopefully for a calm. In such moments the angry old man was unapproachable, but Olivarès was the only man who never yielded to these explosions of passion, and his imperturbable persistence and system of suggested and sometimes open menace grew at last to be intolerable and even indecent.

'I find,' writes Olivares, at the conclusion of the despatch from which we have quoted, 'the Pope very lukewarm in showing satisfaction when good news arrives from Spain, and very little affected at the bad. His envy at the greatness of your Majesty and the pain which he feels in expending his money work more powerfully on him

6

[ocr errors]

than the welfare of the Church and his zeal for the extermination of heretics. If he promised you subsidies, it was in the hope that the expedition would never come off. When the affairs of the King go wrong, his pride and his arrogance become insupportable; he puts the knife to my throat, and forgets that the detriment of your Majesty turns also to the disadvantage of the Holy See and the cause of God. In this occasion his bad nature has broken out again. However, I keep my ground.

** In order that your Majesty,' he writes again, 'may have an idea of how well the Holy Father understands military and naval affairs, I just mention this, that he wished me to beg your Majesty to give orders that the fleet in passing might co-operate in the siege of Rochelle.' (Ilübner, vol. i. p. 401.)

Olivarès, in his despatches to Philip, brings again and again three charges against the Pope—bad faith, violent temper, and ignorance of affairs. It was natural that a foiled diplomatist should attempt to justify himself with his sovereign, and to take his revenge on his adversary, for he regarded Sixtus V. as little less, for the little way he was able to make at the Papal Court. As for the violent temper, Olivarès, as we have seen, had some ground for his accusation. As for the Pope's ignorance of affairs too, the ambassador's allegation was also plausible; it was hardly within the bounds of possibility that a man who had passed the greater part of his life as a poor friar, and was withdrawn from obscurity and retirement to be the Spiritual Chief of the Catholic powers of Europe, should at once be a match for the veterans of politics in dealing with the perplexed European interests on which he had to pronounce a decision. The wonder is that a man of sixty-four, with such a previous training, should have been able to hold his own so well. As for the charge of bad faith, this seems to be a mere invention of the spite of Olivarès; the Pope aimed first at securing the interests of the Church, as he comprehended them, in all their integrity; he had at heart also the interests of every European nation, but these he treated as subordinate to the interests of the Church. He never concealed that he was opposed to all schemes of universal monarchy, and wished each nation to remain within its own limits—he had in fact a clear view of the necessity of a balance of power. The great Christian princes,' he said,

• in one of his numerous conversations with Gritti,have each ' need of a counterpoise, for if one of them should predominate, • all the others would run a risk of being imposed upon.'

It is a curious trait in his character, that as a politician he had infinitely more admiration for Elizabeth-that is for Eng. land—and for Henri IV. than for the plotter and schemer of the Furial, who aimed at so much and effected so little. In

fact the Popes were never well affected to Spain, notwithstanding its assumption of the championship of the Catholic creed. Paul IV. never spoke of the Spanish king or nation without calling them heretics, schismatics, accursed of God, seed of Jews and Moors and the dregs of the world. Indeed Paul IV. was at one period at actual war with Philip II.

But if Sixtus V. cannot be accused of actual bad faith, at least his political career was full of apparent contradictions and inconsistencies. The explanation of which is, and the explanation to a certain extent justifies the imputations of Olivarès, that he was waiting for events. He did not dare absolutely to reject the overtures of Philip, and risk a rupture with the greatest Catholic potentate of his time, until he could have clearer hopes of the victory of the cause of Catholicis.n in France. His alliance with Philip he regarded as a pis aller, as a last resource if all other means failed of settling his French difficulties. Philip and his ambassador Olivarès perfectly understood the reasons of the evasions and delays of the Pope, and therefore they became more and more urgent in their endeavours to force the Pontiff to commit himself irrevocably on the side of Spanish ambition. The Pope on his part clearly saw the whole bearing of the acts they would have Înim commit, and the momentous character of the negotiations in which he was involved; a more favourable turn of affairs in France might render the Spanish alliance unnecessary, and in that case he would escape being the instrument of the ambition of Philip, which menaced not only the independence of Europe, but also that of the Holy See. He temporised therefore to the utmost of his power, drew closer to Philip when things promised badly in France for the interest of Catholicism, and drew off from him as soon as he saw any other escape; but in order to preserve his independence as long as possible, he had to meet ruse with ruse, arrogance with arrogance, and to fight terrific diplomatic battles with the Spanish ambassador. The stern and fiery old man was almost unsupported at Rome in this intolerable and almost daily conflict. Most of the cardinals were either bought over with money or won by promises and favours to the Spanish interest. The Pope's consequent isolation, his conviction of the gravity of the crisis, the continual suspense, the renewed trials of his judgment by new events, the incessant agitation of his conscience, affected his health so severely that he wasted away visibly. His only consolation was in intercourse with the Venetian ambassador; he had trust in the wisdom of the Venetian Senate, and Venice and the Pope remained firm friends to the end, while both were included alike in the dislike

and suspicion of Philip, of his ambassadors abroad, and of his preachers at Madrid. In his confidential communications to Gritti the perplexed Pontiff groaned at times under the weight of care which weighed him down; it was no light matter, indeed, to hold oneself as the Vicegerent of God upon earth; he regretted the days of his cardinalship, and even his simple friarlife, when he had not to resolve upon the excommunication and deposition of kings, and the distribution of the empires of the world. *

With such knowledge of the perplexities of the Papal mind, it is easy to imagine how the news of the Day of the Barricades at Paris, and the flight of the King, the proof which the battle of Courtras afforded of the strength of the Huguenot party, and of the ascending genius of Henri of Navarre, the intelligence of the assassinations of the Duke de Guise and of the Cardinal de Lorraine, and of the junction of the forces of Henri III. with those of the heretic claimant to the succession to the crown of France, must have agitated the councils of the Vatican.

The acceptance by the French King of the alliance of Henri of Navarre and of the aid of his Huguenot followers, the admission also implied or avowed by Henri III. and by the chiefs of the parti politique and other Catholic nobles of the rights of the Béarnais as heir to the French crown, seemed to the Pope, as it really was, the most significant event in the whole history of the French religious wars. But the Pope was far from taking the view of the moderate Catholics of France; or seeing in this union a conclusion to the horrible calamities which twenty-six years of civil warfare and massacre

6

6

* The following extract from one of Gritti's despatches gives an interesting idea of the familiar intercourse of the Pope with the ambassador, and his almost affectionate regard for Venice :

* Et questo finito, con la singolar humanità sua mi soggionse,“Ch'avete 6" di Venetia ? como stà il vostro serenissimo Principe ?” Io li dissi, 6“ Stà bene, Beatissimo Padre, et nella nostra città un vero esempio di religione, di prudentia, di giustitia, e d'ogni virtù, ma da più esso,

per mostrar la riverenza che porta alla Vostra Santità et per con• solarsi nella vista di Lei, ho questi giorni inteso, che tiene di continuo ' nella sua camera il ritratto di Vostra Beatitudine.” “ Così habbiamo • inteso,” disse il Papa, et mostrò averlo carissimo. “O quanti buoni 'e savij huomini habbiamo connoscenti in Venetia. Andrea Barbarigo, • Bernardo Giorgi, Dominico Morosini, quello stava à S. Moisè." ““Dandolo,” diss' io. "Si,” disse il Papa, “ Mattia Dandolo; oh, che • savio huomo, il Sanudo et tanti altri.' (Baron Hübner, vol. iii.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

p. 569.)

« VorigeDoorgaan »