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had brought upon the country. On the contrary, the Catholic faith seemed now at the Vatican in greater danger than ever. Morosini, the Papal Legate in France, on hearing of the meeting of the two Kings at Tours, at once left the country, and the Pope seized the opportunity of excommunicating Henri III., not for the murder of the Duc de Guise, but for the murder of the Cardinal de Guise, a Prince of the Church; he then came unwillingly to the conviction that a close alliance with Philip II. and the League had become a matter of absolute necessity for the preservation of the Catholic religion.
The monitorio of excommunication against Henri III., which the Council of Venice had done all in their power to prevent, was published in Rome on the 24th of May, 1589, and read in the Cathedrals of Meaux and Chartres, in the month of June. Its effect was immense in the French capital. Henri III. was assassinated in little more than a month afterwards, and though Jacques Clement was the assassin, the Pope may be said to have encouraged the deed, and to have regarded its perpetration with satisfaction. “A Domino factum est istud,' were the commencing words of his speech on the event to the consistory, while he refused to allow a funeral service to be celebrated for the deceased monarch in Rome.
From the day of the assassination of Henri III., on the 1st of August, 1589, to the death of Sixtus V. himself, only a year and a few days elapsed, but this last year of his brief pontificate was the most agitating of all. It was a year of incessant suspense and doubt and difficulty, and that of his very worst altercations with Olivarès. In the first place, he was very nearly coming to open rupture with the Venetian senate, with whom he had always been on such cordial terms, and who so frankly shared his own Spanish antipathies. On the assumption by Henri of Navarre of the title of Henri IV. of France, and on the acknowledgment of his title by a large party of the French Catholic nobility, and after his declaration that he would preserve the Catholic religion, not only was the ambassador of Venice in France instructed to consider himself accredited to the new King, but the Venetian Republic received the ambassador of Henri IV. On the occurrence of this latter event, the Papal Nuncio at Venice at once left the city; and it required all the skill of Venetian diplomacy, and a special embassy to Rome from the senate, to prevent the Pope from breaking off relations with the first Italian power, for their acknowledgment of a heretic monarch.
The arguments of the Venetian envoys left, however, a deep impression on the Pope's mind in favour of Henri IV., and the
indefatigable Badoer kept continually suggesting the conversion of Henri IV. as the final and probable solution of the French difficulty. Let him but be converted,' said the Pope, • and we will all embrace him,'—happy in the conception of so desirable a conclusion; and when Donato, the special envoy to Rome, took leave of him, he kissed him, and charged him to give the tenderest greetings to the serenissima Signoria of Venice.
But the conversion of Henri IV. was a subject which, as yet, the tormented Sixtus V. only dared mention in secret with his Venetian friends. Long before Philip II. had got wind of the fact that Henri of Navarre had made private overtures to the Vatican to be reconciled to the Church, and to be relieved of the ban of excommunication, and Philip had warned the Pope again and again that such advances from Henri were insincere, and meant only to deceive him. The Pope, however, had his own views of the motives of Philip in so warning him, and after the death of Henri III., the Spanish King seeing that now or never must bis projects on the French crown be realised, had, through his agents, redoubled his activity in every direction. The great centre of interest in these endeavours would naturally be Rome,—the very chiefest aim of the Spanish King would evidently be to frustrate all negotiations between Henri IV. and the Pope, and the story of the diplomatic conflict which ensued as soon as the ambassador of the excommunicated heretic French King entered Rome, is one of the most curious pages in all the long history of the Papacy.
The Duke of Luxemburg arrived at Rome as the ambassador of Henri IV. in the beginning of January, 1590, and to the great disgust of Olivarès and the Spanish faction, was received on the next day but one after his entry. The Duke approached the Vatican with a train of twenty-two carriages filled by French gentlemen. When they reached the palace, the door of the Pope's apartment was closed, the guards were doubled, and the Duke's followers were all requested to deliver up their swords. On arriving at the bussola, or door of the cabinet of the Holy Father, the Duke and three of his gentlemen only were allowed to enter. The ambassador confessed that at this point he felt some apprehension ; when he entered the Cabinet, however, the Pope was extremely gracious-inquired after his journey, made him sit down, a privilege granted only to royal ambassadors, and listened with patience to his speech, which since it was made in French, he acknowledged he did not understand, and he asked him to bring an interpreter at his next visit. In fact the internal and external manner of receiving the French ambassador were quite of a different character. On his next visit the Duke ventured to bring forth the name of Henri of Navarre, and to repeat a conversation which he had held with the King, in which Henri expressed his desire to return to the Catholic Church. Sixtus appeared full of joy at the news.
The Duke solicited from the Pope permission for the Catholics who served the King to be able to do so without incurring the censures of the Church; and further that the Pope should send to Henri some ecclesiastics who might instruct him in the dogmas of religion. The Pope, without deciding as to the first demand, at once named a French Monsignore who should go on a mission of conversion to the King.
The presence of the Duke of Luxemburg in Rome turned the pontifical palace into a field of deadlier warfare than ever. Olivarès, backed by the Cardinals Madruccio, Deza, and Mendoza, and the Spanish faction, aided also by the Cardinal de Sens, the representative of the League, led the van against the French envoy and the ambassador of Venice; and these two had no other support to rely upon but the secret good will of Sixtus himself. Olivares and his party would be content at first with nothing short of the immediate dismissal of Luxemburg; but this Sixtus refused bluntly, and the envoy remained at Rome, absenting himself, however, for a short time on the pretext of a pilgrimage to Loretto during a time of pressure of the Spanish faction. After all other means of constraint had been exhausted, Olivarès proceeded to hint that his master would adopt that of direct force, and march his troops from Milan and Naples upon the capital of the Holy See.
The Pope was greatly embarrassed, as he acknowledged to Badoer, for he had in fact, shortly after the assassination of Henri III., when he was unable to believe in the sincerity of the desire of Henri IV. for conversion and absolution, and when he could see no hope for the Catholic religion in France, except through Philip and the League, sent Cardinal Gaetani as Legate to the revolted party, and proposed a scheme to Philip for a military intervention of forty or fifty thousand men in France, reserving to himself, however, the nomination of a general, and, so far as possible, the supreme direction of the expedition and its results. War at that time with the royal chief of the Huguenots seemed the only way of preserving in France the unity of the faith. Philip had accepted the Pope's propositions with alacrity, and was actively arming at Milan and Naples, to carry them out; and his Italian forces might, as Olivarès intimated, be readily directed on Rome, in the
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same way as they had been so directed under the Duke of Alba in the days of Paul IV. Now, however, the Pope repented of his precipitation; he felt that the star of Henri IV. was in the ascendant, and that his gallant, frank, and chivalrous bearing was winning rapidly all hearts in France. The representations of the 'sage and prudent' counsellors of Venice had made a deep impression upon him; he believed with them that Henri was the only possible king for the French nation; he had a reasonable dread of Hispaniolism and the ambition of Philip, and he with justice was apprehensive of the discredit which might be brought upon the Papacy by a foreign intervention undertaken in opposition to the spirit of the mass of the French nation. If Henri IV. were victorious over the League, whose real motives he had always held in suspicion, and whose spirit of revolt against authority had been ever repugnant to him, and if the chief who was battling so chivalrously and so successfully for his right to a throne were really sincere in his protestations of a desire to be received into the Catholic Church, no more favourable prospect could be desired for France and for the Papacy. In his intimate talk with Badoer he exclaimed frequently, 'If Henri become sincerely converted all
will be well.' Sixtus V., too, comprehended well how impossible it was for the King of Navarre to abjure his Huguenot creed, while he had more than ever need of the Huguenots, and of the support of Protestant England and Protestant Germany. One evening, at supper, after a long silence, he said suddenly, as though starting from a dream, 'How could * Navarre now turn Catholic ? He would be immediately • abandoned by the Queen of England and the Princes of • Germany, and the King of Spain would swallow him like an egg. The
walls of the Vatican had ears at this crisis; these words were repeated to Olivarès and sent to Philip, and both monarch and ambassador strained every ruse of diplomacy and every means of intimidation to force the Pope to carry out his engagements--or rather quasi-engagements for though they had been drawn up in formal shape at the
Vatican, they had never been signed by either party. The Pope's object was to gain time, to let Henri pursue his career of victory; and for this purpose he withstood the assaults of Olivarès in his cabinet, and the further pressure of the special ambassador, the Duke of Sessa, sent by Philip, with the aid of every ruse and every stratagem. The last months of his existence were one long and terrible struggle with the representatives of the policy of the Escurial.
While Henri was winning the victories of Arques and Ivry,
and advancing to the siege of Paris, the Pope was waging daily in his cabinet not less terrible combats on his behalf. Olivarès made three demands, preparatory to insisting upon the execution of the armed intervention—the dismissal of Luxemburg, the excommunication of the Catholic adherents of Henri, and a declaration from the Pope against the Béarnais, as he was always called in the despatches of Philip. In one interview Olivarès went so far as to threaten the Pope with a public protestation against his conduct in the Roman Consistory, to be drawn up by a Spanish theologian whom he sent for from Naples for the purpose. At mention of this Olivarès says the Pope began to howl with rage' (Empezó a chirriar con gran corage), and threatened to excommunicate Olivarès and all his abettors—it even appears he threatened to have the ambassador executed; and the memory of this interview was long preserved in a tradition to be found in the work of Gregorio Leti, that the Pope had caused a scaffold to be erected before the Spanish ambassador's palace. It is certain, however, that Philip and his ambassador entertained some notion of calling together a General Council of the Church, under the Archbishop of Toledo, and of deposing the Pontiff and electing another; so it may be imagined what independence the Papacy would have enjoyed if Philip had fulfilled his dream of universal sovereignty. It was at this period that Philip adopted, as we have said, the expedient of sending the Duke of Sessa as special ambassador to Rome. The appearance of this envoy on the scene, who came to demand expressly from the Pope the execution of the proposals for an armed intervention in France, did not change the course of affairs in the Pope's cabinet. Sixtus V. still eluded all attempts to force him into action against Henri IV., and made use of the scruples of a Pontiff just as a woman does of her weakness, to disarm his antagonists. He complained of the importunities of Olivarès and Sessa in public Consistory. Their last interview with him was on the 19th of August, 1590.
The Pope was then very ill, and was living in the palace on the Quirinal. To revenge himself for the vexation they had inflicted on him, Sixtus appointed the interview to take place at mid-day, when the two ambassadors would have to mount the long incline of the Quirinal under the blazing heat of a Roman August sun. The two Spaniards again vehemently beset the Pope, protesting against the mission of an ecclesiastic to the Béarnais for his instruction in the Catholic faith, and demanding the carrying out of the proposal for intervention. Sixtus replied with violence in a fit of passion ; the ambas