AVE ROMA IMMORTALIS
STUDIES FROM THE CHRONICLES OF ROME
FRANCIS MARION CRAWFORD
IN TWO VOLUMES
London MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1899
All rights reserved
Copyright, 1898, By The Macmillan Company.
Set up and electrotyped October, 1898. Reprinted November, December, 1898; January, 1899.
Norwood Press J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
VOLUME II PAGE
REGION VII REGOLA 1
REGION VIII SANT' EUSTACHIO 23
REGION IX PIGNA 44
REGION X CAMPITELLI 64
REGION XI SANT' ANGELO 101
REGION XII RIPA 119
REGION XIII TRASTEVERE 132
REGION XIV BORGO 202
LEO THE THIRTEENTH 218
THE VATICAN 268
SAINT PETER'S 289
LIST OF PHOTOGRAVURE PLATES
Saint Peter's Frontispiece
FACING PAGE Palazzo Farnese 18 The Pantheon 46 The Capitol 68 General View of the Roman Forum 94 Theatre of Marcellus 110 Porta San Sebastiano 130 The Roman Forum, looking west 154 The Palatine 186 Castle of Sant' Angelo 204 Pope Leo the Thirteenth 228 Raphael's "Transfiguration" 256 Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" 274 Panorama of Rome, from the Orti Farnesiani 298
ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT
PAGE Region VII Regola, Device of 1 Portico of Octavia 3 San Giorgio in Velabro 11 Region VIII Sant' Eustachio, Device of 23 Site of Excavations on the Palatine 31 Church of Sant' Eustachio 39 Region IX Pigna, Device of 44 Interior of the Pantheon 49 The Ripetta 53 Piazza Minerva 55 Region X Campitelli, Device of 64 Church of Aracoeli 70 Arch of Septimius Severus 83 Column of Phocas 92 Region XI Sant' Angelo, Device of 101 Piazza Montanara and the Theatre of Marcellus 106 Site of the Ancient Ghetto 114 Region XII Ripa, Device of 119 Church of Saint Nereus and Saint Achilleus 125 The Ripa Grande and Site of the Sublician Bridge 128 Region XIII Trastevere, Device of 132 Ponte Garibaldi 137 Palazzo Mattei 140 House built for Raphael by Bramante, now torn down 145 Monastery of Sant' Onofrio 147 Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius 159 Interior of Santa Maria degli Angeli 175 Palazzo dei Conservatori 189 Region XIV Borgo, Device of 202 Hospital of Santo Spirito 214 The Papal Crest 218 Library of the Vatican 235 Fountain of Acqua Felice 242 Vatican from the Piazza of St. Peter's 251 Loggie of Raphael in the Vatican 259 Biga in the Vatican Museum 268 Belvedere Court of the Vatican 272 Sixtine Chapel 279 Saint Peter's 289 Mamertine Prison 294 Interior of St. Peter's 305 Pieta of Michelangelo 318 Tomb of Clement the Thirteenth 321 Ave atque Vale. Vignette 327
Ave Roma Immortalis
REGION VII REGOLA
'Arenula'—'fine sand'—'Renula,' 'Regola'—such is the derivation of the name of the Seventh Region, which was bounded on one side by the sandy bank of the Tiber from Ponte Sisto to the island of Saint Bartholomew, and which Gibbon designates as a 'quarter of the city inhabited only by mechanics and Jews.' The mechanics were chiefly tanners, who have always been unquiet and revolutionary folk, but at least one exception to the general statement must be made, since it was here that the Cenci had built themselves a fortified palace on the foundations of a part of the Theatre of Balbus, between the greater Theatre of Marcellus, then held by the Savelli, and the often mentioned Theatre of Pompey. There Francesco Cenci dwelt, there the childhood of Beatrice was passed, and there she lived for many months after the murder of her father, before the accusation was first brought against her. It is a gloomy place now, with its low black archway, its mouldy walls, its half rotten windows, and its ghostly court of balconies; one might guess that a dead man's curse hangs over it, without knowing how Francesco died. And he, who cursed his sons and his daughters and laughed for joy when two of them were murdered, rebuilt the little church just opposite, as a burial-place for himself and them; but neither he nor they were laid there. The palace used to face the Ghetto, but that is gone, swept away to the very last stone by the municipality in a fine hygienic frenzy, though, in truth, neither plague nor cholera had ever taken hold there in the pestilences of old days, when the Christian city was choked with the dead it could not bury. There is a great open space there now, where thousands of Jews once lived huddled together, crowding and running over each other like ants in an anthill, in a state that would have killed any other people, persecuted occasionally, but on the whole, fairly well treated; indispensable then as now to the spendthrift Christian; confined within their own quarter, as formerly in many other cities, by gates closed at dusk and opened at sunrise, altogether a busy, filthy, believing, untiring folk that laughed at the short descent and high pretensions of a Roman baron, but cringed and crawled aside as the great robber strode by in steel. And close by the Ghetto, in all that remains of the vast Portico of Octavia, is the little Church of Sant' Angelo in Pescheria where the Jews were once compelled to hear Christian sermons on Saturdays.
Close by that church Rienzi was born, and it is for ever associated with his memory. His name calls up a story often told, yet never clear, of a man who seemed to possess several distinct and contradictory personalities, all strong but by no means all noble, which by a freak of fate were united in one man under one name, to make him by turns a hero, a fool, a Christian knight, a drunken despot and a philosophic Pagan. The Buddhist monks of the far East believe today that a man's individual self is often beset, possessed and dominated by all kinds of fragmentary personalities that altogether hide his real nature, which may in reality be better or worse than they are. The Eastern belief may serve at least as an illustration to explain the sort of mixed character with which Rienzi came into the world, by which he imposed upon it for a certain length of time, and which has always taken such strong hold upon the imagination of poets, and writers of fiction, and historians.
Rienzi, as we call him, was in reality named 'Nicholas Gabrini, the son of Lawrence'; and 'Lawrence,' being in Italian abbreviated to 'Rienzo' and preceded by the possessive particle 'of,' formed the patronymic by which the man is best known in our language. Lawrence Gabrini kept a wine-shop somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Cenci palace; he seems to have belonged to Anagni, he was therefore by birth a retainer of the Colonna, and his wife was a washer-woman. Between them, moreover, they made a business of selling water from the Tiber, through the city, at a time when there were no aqueducts. Nicholas Rienzi's mother was handsome, and from her he inherited the beauty of form and feature for which he was famous in his youth. His gifts of mind were many, varied and full of that exuberant vitality which noble lineage rarely transmits; if he was a man of genius, his genius belonged to that order which is never far removed from madness and always akin to folly. The greatest of his talents was his eloquence, the least of his qualities was judgment, and while he possessed the courage to face danger unflinchingly, and the means of persuading vast multitudes to follow him in the realization of an exalted dream, he had neither the wit to trace a cause to its consequence, nor the common sense to rest when he had done enough. He had no mental perspective, nor sense of proportion, and in the words of Madame de Stael he 'mistook memories for hopes.'
He was born in the year 1313, in the turbulent year that followed the coronation of Henry the Seventh of Luxemburg; and when his vanity had come upon him like a blight, he insulted the memory of his beautiful mother by claiming to be the Emperor's son. In his childhood he was sent to Anagni. There it must be supposed that he acquired his knowledge of Latin from a country priest, and there he lived that early life of solitude and retirement which, with ardent natures, is generally the preparation for an outburst of activity that is to dazzle, or delight, or terrify the world. Thence he came back, a stripling of twenty years, dazed with dreaming and surfeited with classic lore, to begin the struggle for existence in his native Rome as an obscure notary.
It seems impossible to convey an adequate idea of the confusion and lawlessness of those times, and it is hard to understand how any city could exist at all in such absence of all authority and government. The powers were nominally the Pope and the Emperor, but the Pope had obeyed the commands of Philip the Fair and had retired to Avignon, and no Emperor could even approach Rome without an army at his back and the alliance of the Ghibelline Colonna to uphold him if he succeeded in entering the city. The maintenance of order and the execution of such laws as existed, were confided to a mis-called Senator and a so-called Prefect. The Senatorship was the property of the Barons, and when Rienzi was born the Orsini and Colonna had just agreed to hold it jointly to the exclusion of every one else. The prefecture was hereditary in the ancient house of Di Vico, from whose office the Via de' Prefetti in the Region of Campo Marzo is named to this day; the head of the house was at first required to swear allegiance to the Pope, to the Emperor, and to the Roman People, and as the three were almost perpetually at swords drawn with one another, the oath was a perjury when it was not a farce. The Prefects' principal duty appears to have been the administration of the Patrimony of Saint Peter, in which they exercised an almost unlimited power after Innocent the Third had formally dispensed them from allegiance to the Emperor, and the long line of petty tyrants did not come to an end until Pope Eugenius the Fourth beheaded the last of the race for his misdeeds in the fifteenth century; after him the office was seized upon by the Barons and finally drifted into the hands of the Barberini, a mere sinecure bringing rich endowments to its fortunate possessor.
In Rienzi's time there were practically three castes in Rome,—priests, nobles, and beggars,—for there was nothing which in any degree corresponded to a citizen class; such business as there was consisted chiefly in usury, and was altogether in the hands of the Jews. Rome was the lonely and ruined capital of a pestilential desert, and its population was composed of marauders in various degrees.
The priests preyed upon the Church, the nobles upon the Church and upon each other, the beggars picked the pockets of both, and such men as were bodily fit for the work of killing were enlisted as retainers in the service of the Barons, whose steady revenues from their lands, whose strong fortresses within the city, and whose possession of the coat and mail armour which was then so enormously valuable, made them masters of all men except one another. They themselves sold the produce of their estates and the few articles of consumption which reached Rome from abroad, in shops adjoining their palaces; they owned the land upon which the corn and wine and oil were grown; they owned the peasants who ploughed and sowed and reaped and gathered; and they preserved the privilege of disposing of their own wares as they saw fit. They feared nothing but an ambush of their enemies, or the solemn excommunication of the Pope, who cared little enough for their doings. The cardinals and prelates who lived in the city were chiefly of the Barons' own order and under their immediate protection. The Barons possessed everything and ruled everything for their own profit; they defended their privileges with their lives, and they avenged the slightest infringement on their powers by the merciless shedding of blood. They were ignorant, but they were keen; they were brave, but they were faithless; they were passionate, licentious and unimaginably cruel.
Such was the city, and such the government, to which Rienzi returned at the age of twenty, to follow the profession of a notary, probably under the protection of the Colonna. That the business afforded occupation to many is proved by the vast number of notarial deeds of that time still extant; but it is also sufficiently clear that Rienzi spent much of his time in dreaming, if not in idleness, and much in the study of the ancient monuments and inscriptions upon which no one had bestowed a glance for generations. It was during that period of early manhood that he acquired the learning and collected the materials which earned him the title, 'Father of Archaeology.' He seems to have been about thirty years old when he first began to speak in public places, to such audience as he could gather, expanding with ready though untried eloquence the soaring thoughts bred in years of solitary study.
Clement the Sixth, a Frenchman, was elected Pope at Avignon, a man who, according to the chronicler, contrasted favourably by his wisdom, breadth of view, and liberality, with a weak and vacillating predecessor. Seeing that they had to do with a man at last, the Romans sent an embassy to him to urge his return to Rome. The hope had long been at the root of Rienzi's life, and he must have already attained to a considerable reputation of learning and eloquence, since he was chosen to be one of the ambassadors. Petrarch conceived the highest opinion of him at their first meeting, and never withdrew his friendship from him to the end; the great poet joined his prayers with those of the Roman envoys, and supported Rienzi's eloquence with his own genius in a Latin poem. But nothing could avail to move the Pope. Avignon was the Capua of the Pontificate,—a vast papal palace was in course of construction, and the cardinals had already begun to erect sumptuous dwellings for themselves. The Pope listened, smiled, and promised everything except return; the unsuccessful embassy was left without means of subsistence; and Rienzi, disappointed in soul, ill in body, and almost starving, was forced to seek the refuge of a hospital, whither he retired in the single garment which remained unsold from his ambassadorial outfit. But he did not languish long in this miserable condition, for the Pope heard of his misfortunes, remembered his eloquence, and sent him back to Rome, invested with the office of Apostolic Notary, and endowed with a salary of five golden florins daily, a stipend which at that time amounted almost to wealth. The office was an important one, but Rienzi exercised it by deputy, continued his studies, propagated his doctrines, and by quick degrees acquired unbounded influence with the people. His hatred of the Barons was as profound as his love of his native city was noble; and if the unavenged murder of a brother, and the unanswered buffet of a Colonna rankled in his heart, and stimulated his patriotism with the sting of personal wrong, neither the one nor the other were the prime causes of his actions. The evils of the city were enormous, his courage was heroic, and after profound reflection he resolved upon the step which determined his tragic career.
To the door of the Church of Saint George in Velabro he affixed a proclamation, or a prophecy, which set forth that Rome should soon be restored to the 'Good Estate'; he collected a hundred of his friends in a meeting by night, on the Aventine, to decide upon a course of action, and he summoned all citizens to appear before the church of Sant' Angelo in Pescheria, towards evening, peacefully and without arms, to provide for the restoration of that 'Good Estate' which he himself had announced.
That night was the turning-point in Rienzi's life, and he made it a Vigil of Arms and Prayer. In the mysterious nature of the destined man, the pure spirit of the Christian knight suddenly stood forth in domination of his soul, and he consecrated himself to the liberation of his country by the solemn office of the Holy Ghost. All night he kneeled in the little church, in full armour, with bare head, before the altar. The people came and went, and others came after them and saw him kneeling there, while one priest succeeded another in celebrating the Thirty Masses of the Holy Spirit from midnight to early morning. The sun was high when the champion of freedom came forth, bareheaded still, to face the clear light of day. Around him marched the chosen hundred; at his right hand went the Pope's vicar; and before him three great standards displayed allegories of liberty, justice, and peace.
A vast concourse of people followed him, for the news had spread from mouth to mouth, and there were few in Rome who had not heard his voice and longed for the 'Good Estate' which he so well described. The nobles heard of the assembly with indifference, for they were well used to disturbances of every kind and dreaded no unarmed rabble. Colonna and Orsini, joint senators, had quarrelled, and the Capitol was vacant; thither Rienzi went, and thence from a balcony he spoke to the people of freedom, of peace, of prosperity. The eloquence that had moved Clement and delighted Petrarch stirred ten thousand Roman hearts at once; a dissatisfied Roman count read in clear tones the laws Rienzi proposed to establish, and the appearance of a bishop and a nobleman by the plebeian's side gave the people hope and encouragement. The laws were simple and direct, and there was to be but one interpretation of them, while all public revenues were to be applied to public ends. Each Region of the city was to furnish a contingent of men-at-arms, and if any man were killed in the service of his country, Rome was to provide for his wife and children. The fortresses, the bridges, the gates, were to pass from the custody of the Barons to that of the Roman people, and the Barons themselves were to retire forthwith from the city. So the Romans made Rienzi Dictator.
The nobles refused to believe in a change which meant ruin to themselves. Old Stephen Colonna laughed and said he would throw the madman from the window as soon as he should be at leisure. It was near noon when he spoke; the sun was barely setting when he rode for his life towards Palestrina. The great bell of the Capitol called the people to arms, the liberator was already the despot, and the Barons were already exiles. Rienzi assumed the title of Tribune with the authority of Dictator, and with ten thousand swords at his back exacted a humiliating oath of allegiance from the representatives of the great houses. Upon the Body and Blood of Christ they swore to the 'Good Estate,' they bound themselves to yield up their fortresses within the city, to harbour neither outlaws nor malefactors in their mountain castles, and to serve the Republic loyally in arms whenever they should be called upon to do so. The oath was taken by all, the power that could enforce it was visible to all men's eyes, and Rienzi was supreme.
Had he been the philosopher that he had once persuaded himself he was; had he been the pure-hearted Christian Knight of the Holy Spirit he had believed himself when he knelt through the long Office in the little church; had he been the simple Roman Tribune of the People that he proclaimed himself, when he had seized the dictatorship, history might have followed a different course, and the virtues he imposed upon Rome might have borne fruit throughout all Italy. But with Rienzi, each new phase was the possession of a new spirit of good or evil, and with each successive change, only the man's great eloquence remained. While he was a hero, he was a hero indeed; while he was a philosopher, his thoughts were lofty and wise; so long as he was a knight, his life was pure and blameless. But the vanity which inspired him, not to follow an ideal, but to represent that ideal outwardly, and which inflamed him with a great actor's self-persuading fire, required, like all vanity, the perpetual stimulus of applause and admiration. He could have leapt into the gulf with Curtius before the eyes of ten thousand grateful citizens; but he could not have gone back with Cincinnatus to the plough, a simple, true-hearted man. The display of justice followed the assumption of power, it is true; but when justice was established, the unquiet spirit was assailed by the thirst for a new emotion which no boasting proclamation could satisfy, and no adulation could quench. The changes he wrought in a few weeks were marvellous, and the spirit in which they were made was worthy of a great reformer; Italy saw and admired, received his ambassadors and entertained them with respect, read his eloquent letters and answered them with approbation; and Rienzi's court was the tribunal to which the King of Hungary appealed the cause of a murdered brother. Yet his vanity demanded more. It was not long before he assumed the dress, the habits, and the behaviour of a sovereign and appeared in public with the emblems of empire. He felt that he was no longer in spirit the Knight of the Holy Ghost, and he required for self-persuasion the conference of the outward honours of knighthood. He purified himself according to the rites of chivalry in the font of the Lateran Baptistry, consecrated by the tradition of Constantine's miraculous recovery from leprosy, he watched his arms throughout the dark hours, and received the order from the sword of an honourable nobleman. The days of the philosopher, the hero, and the liberator were over, and the reign of the public fool was inaugurated by the most extravagant boasts, and celebrated by a feast of boundless luxury and abundance, to which the citizens of Rome were bidden with their wives and daughters. Still unsatisfied, he demanded and obtained the ceremony of a solemn coronation, and seven crowns were placed successively upon his head as emblems of the seven spiritual gifts. Before him stood the great Barons in attitudes of humility and dejection; for a moment the great actor had forgotten himself in the excitement of his part, and Rienzi again enjoyed the emotion of undisputed sovereignty.
But Colonna, Orsini and Savelli were not men to submit tamely in fact, though the presence of an overwhelming power had forced them to outward submission, and in his calmer moments the extravagant tribune was haunted by the dream of vengeance. A ruffian asserted under torture that the nobles were already conspiring against their victor, and Rienzi enticed three of the Colonna and five of the Orsini to the Capitol, where he had taken up his abode. He seized them, held them prisoners all night, and led them out in the morning to be the principal actors in a farce which he dared not turn to tragedy. Condemned to death, their sins confessed, they heard the tolling of the great bell, and stood bareheaded before the executioner. The scene was prepared with the art of a consummate playwright, and the spectators were delighted by a speech of rare eloquence and amazed by the sudden exhibition of a clemency that was born of fear. Magnanimously pardoning those whom he dared not destroy, Rienzi received a new oath of allegiance from his captives and dismissed them to their homes.
The humiliation rankled. Laying aside their hereditary feud, Colonna and Orsini made a desperate effort to regain their power. By a misunderstanding they were defeated, and the third part of their force, entering the city without the rest, was overwhelmed and massacred, and six of the Colonna were slain. The low-born Rienzi refused burial for their bodies, knighted his son on the spot where they had fallen, and washed his hands in water that was mingled with their blood. It was his last triumph and his basest.
His power was already declining, and though the people had assembled in arms to beat off their former masters, they had lost faith in a leader who had turned out a madman, a knave, and a drunkard. They refused to pay the taxes he would have laid upon them, and resisted the measures he proposed. Clement the Sixth, who had approved his wisdom, punished his folly, and the so-called tribune was deposed, condemned for heresy, and excommunicated. A Neapolitan soldier of fortune, an adventurer and a criminal, took possession of Rome with only one hundred and fifty men, in the name of the Pope, without striking a blow, and the people would not raise a hand to help their late idol as he was led away weeping to the Castle of Sant' Angelo, while the nobles looked on in scornful silence. Rienzi was allowed to depart in peace after a short captivity and became a wanderer and an outcast in Europe.
In many disguises he went from place to place, and did not fear to return to Rome in the travesty of a pilgrim. The story of his adventures would fill many pages, but Rome is not concerned with them. In vain he appealed to adventurers, to enthusiasts, and to fanatics to help in regaining what he had lost. None would listen to him, no man would draw the sword. He came to Prague at last, obtained an audience of the Emperor Charles the Fourth, appealed to the whole court, with impassioned eloquence, and declared himself to be Rienzi. The attempt cost him his freedom, for the prudent emperor forthwith sent him a captive to the Pope at Avignon, where he was at first loaded with chains and thrown into prison. But Clement hesitated to bring him to trial, his friend Petrarch spoke earnestly in his favour, and he was ultimately relegated to an easy confinement, during which he once more gave himself up to the study of his favourite classics in peaceful resignation.
Meanwhile in Rome his enactments had been abolished with sweeping indifference to their character and importance, and the old misrule was reestablished in its pristine barbarity. The feud between Orsini and Colonna broke out again in the absence of a common danger. The plague appeared in Europe and decimated a city already distracted by internal discord. Rome was again a wilderness of injustice, as the chronicle says; every one doing what seemed good in his own eyes, the Papal and the public revenues devoured by marauders, the streets full of thieves, and the country infested by outlaws. Clement died, and Innocent the Sixth, another Frenchman, was elected in his stead, 'a personage of great science, zeal, and justice,' who set about to reform abuses as well as he could, but who saw that he could not hope to return to Rome without long and careful preparation. He selected as his agent in the attempt to regain possession of the States of the Church the Cardinal Albornoz, a Spaniard of courage and experience.
Meanwhile Rienzi enjoyed greater freedom, and assumed the character of an inspired poet; than which none commanded greater respect and influence in the early years of the Renascence. That he ever produced any verses of merit there is not the slightest evidence to prove, but his undoubted learning and the friendship of Petrarch helped him to sustain the character. He never lacked talent to act any part which his vanity suggested as a means of flattering his insatiable soul. He put on the humility of a penitent and the simplicity of a true scholar; he spoke quietly and wisely of Italy's future and he obtained the confidence of the new Pope.
It was in this way that by an almost incredible turn of fortune, the outcast and all but condemned heretic was once more chosen as a means of restoring order in Rome, and accompanied Cardinal Albornoz on his mission to Italy. Had he been a changed man as he pretended to be, he might have succeeded, for few understood the character of the Romans better, and there was no name in the country of which the memories appealed so profoundly to the hearts of the people.
The catalogue of his deeds during the second period of power is long and confused, but the history of his fall is short and tragic. Not without a keen appreciation of the difference between his former position as the freely chosen champion of the people, and his present mission as a reformer supported by pontifical authority, he requested the Legate to invest him with the dignity of a senator, and the Cardinal readily assented to what was an assertion of the temporal power. Then Albornoz left him to himself. He entered Rome in triumph, and his eloquence did not desert him. But he was no longer the young and inspired knight, self-convinced and convincing, who had issued from the little church long ago. In person he was bloated with drink and repulsive to all who saw him; and the vanity which had so often been the temporary basis of his changing character had grown monstrous under the long repression of circumstances. With the first moment of success it broke out and dictated his actions, his assumed humility was forgotten in an instant, as well as the well-worded counsels of wisdom by which he had won the Pope's confidence; and he plunged into a civil war with the still powerful Colonna. One act of folly succeeded another; he had neither money nor credit, and the stern Albornoz, seeing the direction he was taking, refused to send him assistance. In his extremity he attempted to raise funds for his soldiers and money for his own unbounded luxury by imposing taxes which the people could not bear. The result was certain and fatal. The Romans rose against him in a body, and an infuriated rabble besieged him at the Capitol.
It has been said that the vainest men make the best soldiers. Rienzi was brave for a moment at the last. Seeing himself surrounded, and deserted by his servants, he went out upon a balcony and faced the mob alone, bearing in his hand the great standard of the Republic, and for the last time he attempted to avert with words the tempest which his deeds had called forth. But his hour had come, and as he stood there alone he was stoned and shot at, and an arrow pierced his hand. Broken in nerve by long intemperance and fanatic excitement, he burst into tears and fled, refusing the hero's death in which he might still have saved his name from scorn. He attempted to escape from the other side of the Capitol towards the Forum, and in the disguise of a street porter he had descended through a window and had almost escaped notice while the multitude was breaking down the doors of the main entrance. Then he was seen and taken, and they brought him in his filthy dress to the great platform of the Capitol, not knowing what they should do with him and almost frightened to find their tyrant in their power.
They thronged round him, looked at him, spoke to him, but he answered nothing; for his hour was come, the star of his nativity was in the house of death. In that respite, had he been a man, courage might have awed them, eloquence might have touched them, and he might yet have dreamed of power. But he was utterly speechless, utterly broken, utterly afraid. A whole hour passed, and no hand was lifted against him; yet he spoke not. Then one man, tired of his pale and bloated face, silently struck a knife into his heart, and as he fell dead, the rabble rushed upon him and stabbed him to pieces, and a long yell of murderous rage told all Rome that Rienzi was dead.
They left his body to the dogs and went away to their homes, for it was evening, and they were spent with madness. Then the Jews came, who hated him also; and they dragged the miserable corpse through the streets; and made a bonfire of thistles in a remote place and burned it; and what was left of the bones and ashes they threw into the Tiber. So perished Rienzi, a being who was not a man, but a strangely responsive instrument, upon which virtue, heroism, courage, cowardice, faith, falsehood and knavery played the grandest harmonies and the wildest discords in mad succession, till humanity was weary of listening, and silenced the harsh music forever. However we may think of him, he was great for a moment, yet however great we may think him, he was little in all but his first dream. Let him have some honour for that, and much merciful oblivion for the rest.
REGION VIII SANT' EUSTACHIO
The Eighth region is almost symmetrical in shape, extending nearly north and south with a tolerably even breadth from the haunted palace of the Santacroce, where the marble statue of the dead Cardinal comes down from its pedestal to pace the shadowy halls all night, to Santa Maria in Campo Marzo, and cutting off, as it were, the three Regions so long held by the Orsini from the rest of the city. Taking Rome as a whole, it was a very central quarter until the development of the newly inhabited portions. It was here, near the churches of Saint Eustace and Saint Ives, that the English who came to Rome for business established themselves, like other foreigners, in a distinct colony during the Renascence. Upon the chapel of Saint Ives, unconsecrated now and turned into a lecture room of the University, a strange spiral tower shows the talents of Borromini, Bernini's rival, at their lowest ebb. So far as one can judge, the architect intended to represent realistically the arduous path of learning; but whatever he meant, the result is as bad a piece of Barocco as is to be found in Rome.
As for the Church of Saint Eustace, it commemorates a vision which tradition attributes alike to Saint Julian the Hospitaller, to Saint Felix, and to Saint Hubert. The genius of Flaubert, who was certainly one of the greatest prose writers of this century, has told the story of the first of these in very beautiful language, and the legend of Saint Hubert is familiar to every one. Saint Eustace is perhaps less known, for he was a Roman saint of early days, a soldier and a lover of the chase, as many Romans were. We do not commonly associate with them the idea of boar hunting or deer stalking, but they were enthusiastic sportsmen. Virgil's short and brilliant description of AEneas shooting the seven stags on the Carthaginian shore is the work of a man who had seen what he described, and Pliny's letters are full of allusions to hunting. Saint Eustace was a contemporary of the latter, and perhaps outlived him, for he is said to have been martyred under Hadrian, when a long career of arms had raised him to the rank of a general. It is an often-told story—how he was stalking the deer in the Ciminian forest one day, alone and on foot, when a royal stag, milk-white and without blemish, crashed through the meeting boughs before him; how he followed the glorious creature fast and far, and shot and missed and shot again, and how at last the stag sprang up a steep and jutting rock and faced him, and he saw Christ's cross between the branching antlers, and upon the Cross the Crucified, and heard a still far voice that bade him be Christian and suffer and be saved; and so, alone in the greenwood, he knelt down and bowed himself to the world's Redeemer, and rose up again, and the vision had departed. And having converted his wife and his two sons, they suffered together with him; for they were thrust into the great brazen bull by the Colosseum, and it was made red hot, and they perished, praising God. But their ashes lie under the high altar in the church to this day.
The small square of Saint Eustace is not far from Piazza Navona, communicating with it by gloomy little streets, and on the great night of the Befana, the fair spreads through the narrow ways and overflows with more booths, more toys, more screaming whistles, into the space between the University and the church. And here at the southeast corner used to stand the famous Falcone, the ancient eating-house which to the last kept up the Roman traditions, and where in old days, many a famous artist and man of letters supped on dishes now as extinct as the dodo. The house has been torn down to make way for a modern building. Famous it was for wild boar, in the winter, dressed with sweet sauce and pine nuts, and for baked porcupine and strange messes of tomatoes and cheese, and famous, too, for its good old wines in the days when wine was not mixed with chemicals and sold as 'Chianti,' though grown about Olevano, Paliano and Segni. It was a strange place, occupying the whole of two houses which must have been built in the sixteenth century, after the sack of Rome. It was full of small rooms of unexpected shapes, scrupulously neat and clean, with little white and red curtains, tiled floors, and rush bottomed chairs, and the regular guests had their own places, corners in which they had made themselves comfortable for life, as it were, and were to be found without fail at dinner and at supper time. It was one of those genial bits of old Rome which survived till a few years ago, and was more deeply regretted than many better things when it disappeared.
Behind the Church of Saint Eustace runs a narrow street straight up from the Square of the Pantheon to the Via della Dogana Vecchia. It used to be chiefly occupied at the lower end by poulterers' shops, but towards its upper extremity—for the land rises a little—it has always had a peculiarly dismal and gloomy look. It bears a name about which are associated some of the darkest deeds in Rome's darkest age; it is called the Via de' Crescenzi, the street and the abode of that great and evil house which filled the end of the tenth century with its bloody deeds.
There is no more unfathomable mystery in the history of mediaeval Rome than the origin and power of Theodora, whose name first appears in the year 914, as Lady Senatress and absolute mistress of the city. The chronicler Luitprand, who is almost the only authority for this period, heaps abuse upon Theodora and her eldest daughter, hints that they were of low origin, and brands them with a disgrace more foul than their crimes. No one can read their history and believe that they were anything but patrician women, of execrable character but of high descent. From Theodora, in little more than a hundred years, descended five Popes and a line of sovereign Counts, ending in Peter, the first ancestor of the Colonna who took the name; and, from her also, by the marriage of her second daughter, called Theodora like herself, the Crescenzi traced their descent. Yet no historian can say who that first Theodora was, nor whence she came, nor how she rose to power, nor can any one name the father of her children. Her terrible eldest child, Marozia, married three sovereigns, the Lord of Tusculum, the Lord of Tuscany, and at last Hugh, King of Burgundy, and left a history that is an evil dream of terror and bloodshed. But the story of those fearful women belongs to their stronghold, the great castle of Sant' Angelo. To the Region of Saint Eustace belongs the history of Crescenzio, consul, tribune and despot of Rome. In the street that bears the name of his family, the huge walls of Severus Alexander's bath afforded the materials for a fortress, and there Crescenzio dwelt when his kinswoman Marozia held Hadrian's tomb, and after she was dead. Those were the times when the Emperors defended the Popes against the Roman people. Not many years had passed since Otto the First had done justice upon Peter the Prefect, far away at the Lateran palace; Otto the Second reigned in his stead, and Benedict the Sixth was Pope. The race of Theodora hated the domination of the Emperor, and despised a youthful sovereign whom they had never seen. They dreamed of restoring Rome to the Eastern Empire, and of renewing the ancient office of Exarch for themselves. Benedict stood in their way and was doomed. They chose their antipope, a Roman Cardinal, one Boniface, a man with neither scruple nor conscience, and set him up in the Pontificate; and, when they had done that, Crescenzio seized Benedict and dragged him through the low black entrance of Sant' Angelo, and presently strangled him in his dungeon. But neither did Boniface please those who had made him Pope; and, within the month, lest he should die like him he had supplanted, he stealthily escaped from Rome to the sea, and it is recorded that he stole and carried away the sacred vessels and treasures of the Vatican, and took them to Constantinople.
So Crescenzio first appears in the wild and confused history of that century of dread, when men looked forward with certainty and horror to the ending of the world in the year one thousand. And during a dozen years after Benedict was murdered, the cauldron of faction boiled and seethed in Rome. Then, in the year 987, when Hugh Capet took France for himself and for his descendants through eight centuries, and when John the Fifteenth was Pope in Rome, 'a new tyrant arose in the city which had hitherto been trampled down and held under by the violence of the race of Alberic,'—that is, the race of Theodora,—'and that tyrant was Crescentius.' And Crescenzio was the kinsman of Alberic's children.
The second Otto was dead, and Otto the Third was a mere boy, when Crescenzio, fortified in Sant' Angelo, suddenly declared himself Consul, seized all power, and drove the Pope from Rome. This time he had no antipope; he would have no Pope at all, and there was no Emperor either, since the young Otto had not yet been crowned. So Crescenzio reigned alone for awhile, with what he called a Senate at his back, and the terror of his name to awe the Roman people. But Pope John was wiser than the unfortunate Benedict, and a better man than Boniface, the antipope and thief; and having escaped to the north, he won the graces of Crescenzio's distant kinsman by marriage and hereditary foe, Duke Hugh of Tuscany, grandson of Hugh of Burgundy the usurper; and from that strong situation he proceeded to offer the boy Otto inducements for coming to be crowned in Rome.
He wisely judged from what he had seen during his lifetime that the most effectual means of opposing the boundless license of the Roman patricians was to make an Emperor, even of a child, and he knew that the name of Otto the Great was not forgotten, and that the terrible execution of Peter the Prefect was remembered with a lively dread. Crescenzio was not ready to oppose the force of the Empire; he was surrounded by jealous factions at home, which any sudden revolution might turn against himself, he weighed his strength against the danger and he resolved to yield. The 'Senate,' which consisted of patricians as greedy as himself, but less daring or less strong, had altogether recovered the temporal power in Rome, and Crescenzio easily persuaded them that it would be both futile and dangerous to quarrel with the Emperor about spiritual matters. The 'Consul' and the 'Senate'—which meant a tyrant and his courtiers—accordingly requested the Pope to return in peace and exercise his episcopal functions in the Holy See. Pope John must have been as bold as he was wise, for he did not hesitate, but came back at once. He reaped the fruit of his wisdom and his courage. Crescenzio and the nobles met him with reverence and implored his forgiveness for their ill-considered deeds; the Pope granted them a free pardon, wisely abstaining from any assertion of temporal power, and sometimes apparently submitting with patience to the Consul's tyranny. For it is recorded that some years later, when the Bishops of France sent certain ambassadors to the Pope, they were not received, but were treated with indignity, kept waiting outside the palace three days, and finally sent home without audience or answer because they had omitted to bribe Crescenzio.
If Pope John had persuaded Otto to be crowned at once, such things might not have taken place. It was many years before the young Emperor came to Rome at last, and he had not reached the city when he was met by the news that Pope John was dead. He lost no time, designated his private chaplain, the son of the Duke of Franconia, 'a young man of letters, but somewhat fiery on account of his youth,' to be Pope, and sent him forward to Rome at once with a train of bishops, to be installed in the Holy See. In so youthful a sovereign, such action lacked neither energy nor wisdom. The young Pontiff assumed the name of Gregory the Fifth, espoused the cause of the poor citizens against the tyranny of the nobles, crowned his late master Emperor, and forthwith made a determined effort to crush Crescenzio and regain the temporal power.
But he had met his match at the outset. The blood of Theodora was not easily put down. The Consul laughed to scorn the pretensions of the young Pope; the nobles were in arms, the city was his, and in the second year of his Pontificate, Gregory the Fifth was driven ignominiously from the gates in a state of absolute destitution. He was the third Pope whom Crescenzio had driven out. Gregory made his way to Pavia, summoned a council of Bishops, and launched the Major Excommunication at his adversary. But the Consul, secure in Sant' Angelo, laughed again, more grimly, and did as he pleased.
At this time Basil and Constantine, joint Emperors in Constantinople, sent ambassadors to Rome to Otto the Third, and with them came a certain John, a Calabrian of Greek race, a man of pliant conscience, tortuous mind, and extraordinary astuteness, at that time Archbishop of Piacenza, and formerly employed by Otto upon a mission to Constantinople. Crescenzio, as though to show that his enmity was altogether against the Pope, and not in the least against the Emperor, received these envoys with great honour, and during their stay persuaded them to enter into a scheme which had suddenly presented itself to his ambitious intelligence. The old dream of restoring Rome to the Eastern Empire was revived, the conspirators resolved to bring it to realization, and John of Calabria was a convenient tool for their hands. He was to be Pope; Crescenzio was to be despot, under the nominal protection and sovereignty of the Greek Emperors, and the ambassadors were to conclude the treaty with the latter. Otto was on the German frontier waging war against the Slavs, and Gregory was definitely exiled from Rome. Nothing stood in the way of the plot, and it was forthwith put into execution. Certain ambassadors of Otto's were passing through Rome on their return from the East and on their way to the Emperor's presence; they were promptly seized and thrown into prison, in order to interrupt communication between the two Empires. John of Calabria was consecrated Pope, or rather antipope, Crescenzio took possession of all power, and certain legates of Pope Gregory having ventured to enter Rome were at once imprisoned with the Emperor's ambassadors. It was a daring stroke, and if it had succeeded, the history of Europe would have been different from that time forward. Crescenzio was bold, unscrupulous, pertinacious and keen. He had the Roman nobles at his back and he controlled such scanty revenues as could still be collected. He had violently expelled three Popes, he had created two antipopes, and his name was terror in the ears of the Church. Yet it would have taken more than all that to overset the Catholic Church at a time when the world was ripe for the first crusade; and though the Empire had fallen low since the days of Charles the Great, it was fast climbing again to the supremacy of power in which it culminated under Barbarossa and whence it fell with Frederick the Second. A handful of high-born murderers and marauders might work havoc in Rome for a time, but they could neither destroy that deep-rooted belief nor check the growth of that imperial law by which Europe emerged from the confusion of the dark age—to lose both law and belief again amid the intellectual excitements of the Renascence.
Otto the Third was young, brave and determined, and before the treaty with the Eastern Emperors was concluded, he was well informed of the outrageous deeds of the Roman patricians. No sooner had he brought the war on the Saxon frontier to a successful conclusion than he descended again into Italy 'to purge the Roman bilge,' in the chronicler's strong words. On his way, he found time to visit Venice secretly, with only six companions, and we are told how the Doge entertained him in private as Emperor, with sumptuous suppers, and allowed him to wander about Venice all day as a simple unknown traveller, with his companions, 'visiting the churches and the other rare things of the City,' whereby it is clear that in the year 998, when Rome was a half-deserted, half-ruined city, ruled by a handful of brigands living in the tomb of the Caesars, Venice, under the good Doge Orseolo the Second, was already one of the beautiful cities of the world, as well as mistress of the Adriatic, of all Dalmatia, and of many lovely islands.
Otto took with him Pope Gregory, and with a very splendid army of Germans and Italians marched down to Rome. Neither Crescenzio nor his followers had believed that the young Emperor was in earnest; but when it was clear that he meant to do justice, Antipope John was afraid, and fled secretly by night, in disguise. Crescenzio, of sterner stuff, heaped up a vast provision of food in Sant' Angelo, and resolved to abide a siege. The stronghold was impregnable, so far as any one could know, for it had never been stormed in war or riot, and on its possession had depended the long impunity of Theodora's race. The Emperor might lay siege to it, encamp before it, and hem it in for months; in the end he must be called away by the more urgent wars of the Empire in the north, and Crescenzio, secure in his stronghold, would hold the power still. But when the Roman people knew that Otto was at hand and that the antipope had fled, their courage rose against the nobles, and they went out after John, and scoured the country till they caught him in his disguise, for his face was known to many. Because the Emperor was known to be kind of heart, and because it was remembered also that this John of Calabria, who went by many names, had by strange chance baptized both Otto and Pope Gregory, the Duke of Franconia's son, therefore the Romans feared lest justice should be too gentle; and having got the antipope into their hands, they dealt with him savagely, put out his eyes, cut out his tongue and sliced off his nose, and drove him to prison through the city, seated face backwards on an ass. And when the Emperor and the Pope came, they left him in his dungeon.
Now at Gaeta there lived a very holy man, who was Saint Nilus, and who afterwards founded the monastery of Grottaferrata, where there are beautiful wall paintings to this day. He was a Greek, like John of Calabria, and though he detested the antipope he had pity on the man and felt compassion for his countryman. So he journeyed to Rome and came before Otto and Gregory, who received him with perfect devotion, as a saint, and he asked of them that they should give him the wretched John, 'who,' he said, 'held both of you in his arms at the Font of Baptism,' though he was grievously fallen since that day by his great hypocrisy. Then the Emperor was filled with pity, and answered that the saint might have the antipope alive, if he himself would then remain in Rome and direct the monastery of Saint Anastasia of the Greeks. The holy man was willing to sacrifice his life of solitary meditation for the sake of his wretched countryman, and he would have obtained the fulfilment of his request from Otto; but Pope Gregory remembered how he himself had been driven out penniless and scantily clothed, to make way for John of Calabria, and his heart was hardened, and he would not let the prisoner go. Wherefore Saint Nilus foretold that because neither the Pope nor the Emperor would have mercy, the wrath of God should overtake them both. And indeed they were both cut off in the flower of their youth—Gregory within one year, and Otto not long afterwards.
Meanwhile they sent Nilus away and laid siege to the Castle of Sant' Angelo, where Crescenzio and his men had shut themselves up with a good store of food and arms. No one had ever taken that fortress, nor did any one believe that it could be stormed. But Pope and Emperor were young and brave and angry, and they had a great army, and the people of Rome were with them, every man. They used such engines as they had,—catapults, and battering-rams, and ladders; and yet Crescenzio laughed, for the stone walls were harder than the stone missiles, and higher than the tallest ladders, and so thick that fire could not heat them from without, nor battering-ram loosen a single block in a single course; and many assaults were repelled, and many a brave soldier fell writhing and broken into the deep ditch with his ladder upon him.
When the time of fate was fulfilled, the end came on a fair April morning; one ladder held its place till desperate armed hands had reached the rampart, and swift feet had sprung upon the edge, and one brave arm beat back the twenty that were there to defend; and then there were two, and three, and ten, and a score, and a hundred, and the great castle was taken at last. Nor do we know surely that it was ever taken again by force, even long afterwards in the days of artillery. But Crescenzio's hour had come, and the Emperor took him and the twelve chief nobles who were with him, and cut off their heads, one by one, in quick justice and without torture, and the heads were set up on spikes, and the headless bodies were hung out from the high crenellations of the ramparts. Thus ended Crescenzio, but not his house, nor the line of Theodora, nor died he unavenged.
It is said and believed that Pope Gregory perished by the hands of the Crescenzi, who lived in the little street behind the Church of Saint Eustace. As for Otto, he came to a worse end, though he was of a pious house, and laboured for the peace of his soul against the temptations of this evil world. For he was young, and the wife of Crescenzio was wonderfully fair, and her name was Stefania. She came weeping before him and mourning her lord, and was beautiful in her grief, and knew it, as many women do. And the young Emperor saw her, and pitied her, and loved her, and took her to his heart in sin, and though he repented daily, he daily fell again, while the woman offered up her body and her soul to be revenged for the fierce man she had loved. So it came to pass, at last, that she found her opportunity against him, and poured poison into his cup, and kissed him, and gave it to him with a very loving word. And he drank it and died, and the prophecy of the holy man, Nilus, was fulfilled upon him.
The story is told in many ways, but that is the main truth of it, according to Muratori, whom Gibbon calls his guide and master in the history of Italy, but whom he did not follow altogether in his brief sketch of Crescenzio's life and death, and their consequences. The Crescenzi lived on, in power and great state. They buried the terrible tribune in Santa Sabina, on the Aventine, where his epitaph may be read today, but whither he did not retire in life, as some guide-books say, to end his days in prayer and meditation. And for some reason, perhaps because they no longer held the great Castle, they seem to have left the Region of Saint Eustace; for Nicholas, the tribune's son, built the small palace by the Tiber, over against the Temple of Hercules, though it has often been called the house of Rienzi, whose name was also Nicholas, which caused the confusion. And later they built themselves other fortresses, but the end of their history is not known.
In the troubles which succeeded the death of Crescentius, a curious point arises in the chronicle, with regard to the titles of the bishops depending from the Holy See. It is certainly not generally known that, as late as the tenth century, the bishops of the great cities called themselves Popes—the 'Pope of Milan,' the 'Pope of Naples,' and the like—and that Gregory the Seventh, the famous Hildebrand, was the first to decree that the title should be confined to the Roman Pontiffs, with that of 'Servus Servorum Dei'—'servant of the servants of God.' And indeed, in those changing times such a confusion of titles must have caused trouble, as it did when Gregory the Fifth, driven out by Crescentius, and taking refuge in Pavia, found himself, the Pope of Rome, confronted with Arnulf, the 'Pope' of Milan, and complained of his position to the council he had summoned.
The making and unmaking of Popes, and the election of successors to those that died, brings up memories of what Rome was during the vacancy of the See, and of the general delight at the death of any reigning Pontiff, good or bad. A certain monk is reported to have answered Paul the Third, that the finest festival in Rome took place while one Pope lay dead and another was being elected. During that period, not always brief, law and order were suspended. According to the testimony of Dionigi Atanagi, quoted by Baracconi, the first thing that happened was that the prisons were broken open and all condemned persons set free, while all men in authority hid themselves in their homes, and the officers of justice fled in terror from the dangerous humour of the people. For every man who could lay hands on a weapon seized it, and carried it about with him. It was the time for settling private quarrels of long standing, in short and decisive fights, without fear of disturbance or interference from the frightened Bargello and the terrorized watchmen of the city. And as soon as the accumulated private spite of years had spent itself in a certain amount of free fighting, the city became perfectly safe again, and gave itself up to laying wagers on the election of the next Pope. The betting was high, and there were regular bookmakers, especially in all the Regions from Saint Eustace to the Ponte Sant' Angelo, where the banks had established themselves under the protection of the Pope and the Guelph Orsini, and where the most reliable and latest news was sure to be obtained fresh from the Vatican. Instead of the Piazza di Spagna and the Villa Medici, the narrow streets and gloomy squares of Ponte, Parione and Sant' Eustachio became the gathering-place of society, high, low and indiscriminate; and far from exhibiting the slightest signs of mourning for its late ruler, the city gave itself up to a sort of Carnival season, all the more delightful, because it was necessarily unexpected.
Moreover, the poor people had the delight of speculating upon the wealth of the cardinal who might be elected; for, as soon as the choice of the Conclave was announced, and the cry, 'A pope, a pope!' rang through the streets, it was the time-honoured privilege of the rabble to sack and plunder the late residence of the chosen cardinal, till, literally, nothing was left but the bare walls and floors. This was so much a matter of course, that the election of a poor Pope was a source of the bitterest disappointment to the people, and was one of their principal causes of discontent when Sixtus the Fifth was raised to the Pontificate, it having been given out as certain, but a few hours earlier, that the rich Farnese was to be the fortunate man.
REGION IX PIGNA
There used to be a tradition, wholly unfounded, but deeply rooted in the Roman mind, to the effect that the great bronze pine-cone, eleven feet high, which stands in one of the courts of the Vatican, giving it the name 'Garden of the Pine-cone,' was originally a sort of stopper which closed the round aperture in the roof of the Pantheon. The Pantheon stands at one corner of the Region of Pigna, and a connection between the Region, the Pantheon and the Pine-cone seems vaguely possible, though altogether unsatisfactory. The truth about the Pine-cone is perfectly well known; it was part of a fountain in Agrippa's artificial lake in the Campus Martius, of which Pigna was a part, and it was set up in the cloistered garden of Saint Peter's by Pope Symmachus about fourteen hundred years ago. The lake may have been near the Pantheon.
No one, so far as I am aware,—not even the excellent Baracconi,—offers any explanation of the name and device of the Ninth Region. Topographically it is nearly a square, of which the angles are the Pantheon, the corner of Via di Caravita and the Corso, the Palazzo di Venezia, and the corner of the new Via Arenula and Via Florida. Besides the Pantheon it contains some of the most notable buildings erected since the Renascence. Here are the palaces of the Doria, of the Altieri, and the 'Palace of Venice' built by Paul the Second, that Venetian Barbo, whose name may have nicknamed the racing horses of the Carnival. Here were the strongholds of the two great rival orders, the Dominicans and the Jesuits, the former in the Piazza della Minerva, the latter in the Piazza del Gesu, and in the Collegio Romano; and here at the present day, in the buildings of the old rivals, significantly connected by an arched passage, are collected the greatest libraries of the city. That of the Dominicans, wisely left in their care, has been opened to the public; the other, called after Victor Emmanuel, is a vast collection of books gathered together by plundering the monastic institutions of Italy at the time of the disestablishment. The booty—for it was nothing else—was brought in carts, mostly in a state of the utmost confusion, and the books and manuscripts were roughly stacked in vacant rooms on the ground floor of the Collegio Romano, in charge of a porter. Not until a poor scholar, having bought himself two ounces of butter in the Piazza Navona, found the greasy stuff wrapped in an autograph letter of Christopher Columbus, did it dawn upon the authorities that the porter was deliberately selling priceless books and manuscripts as waste paper, by the hundredweight, to provide himself with the means of getting drunk. That was about the year 1880. The scandal was enormous, a strict inquiry was made, justice was done as far as possible, and an official account of the affair was published in a 'Green Book'; but the amount of the loss was unknown, it may have been incalculable, and it was undeniably great.
The names visibly recorded in the Region have vast suggestions in them,—Ignatius Loyola, the Dominicans, Venice, Doria, Agrippa, and the buildings themselves, which are the record, will last for ages; the opposition of Jesuit and Inquisitor, under one name or another, and of both by the people, will live as long as humanity itself.
The crisis in the history of the Inquisition in Rome followed closely upon the first institution of the Tribunal, and seventeen years after Paul the Fourth had created the Court, by a Papal Bull of July twenty-first, 1542, the people burned the Palace of the Inquisition and threatened to destroy the Dominicans and their monastery.
So far as it is possible to judge the character of the famous Carafa Pope, he was ardent under a melancholic exterior, rigid but ambitious, utterly blind to everything except the matter he had in hand, proud to folly, and severe to cruelty. A chronicler says of him, that his head 'might be compared to the Vesuvius of his native city, since he was ardent in all his actions, wrathful, hard and inflexible, undoubtedly moved by an incredible zeal for religion, but a zeal often lacking in prudence, and breaking out in eruptions of excessive severity.' On the other hand, his lack of perception was such that he remained in complete ignorance of the outrageous deeds done in his name by his two nephews, the one a cardinal, the other a layman, and it was not until the last year of his life that their doings came to his knowledge.
This was the man to whom Queen Elizabeth sent an embassy, in the hope of obtaining the Papal sanction for her succession to the throne. Henry the Second of France had openly espoused the cause of Mary Queen of Scots, whom Philip the Second of Spain was also inclined to support, after the failure of his attempt to obtain the hand of Elizabeth for the Duke of Savoy. With France and Spain against her, the Queen appealed to Rome, and to Paul the Fourth. In the eyes of Catholics her mother had never been the lawful wife of Henry the Eighth, and she herself was illegitimate. If the Pope would overlook this unfortunate fact and confirm her crown in the eyes of Catholic Europe, she would make an act of obedience by her ambassador. She had been brought up as a Catholic, she had been crowned by a Roman Catholic bishop, and on first ascending the throne she had shown herself favourable to the Catholic party; the request and proposition were reasonable, if nothing more. Muratori points out that if a more prudent, discreet and gentle Pope had reigned at that time, and if he had received Elizabeth's offer kindly, according to the dictates of religion, which he should have considered to the exclusion of everything else, and without entering into other people's quarrels, nor into the question of his own earthly rights, England might have remained a Catholic country. Paul the Fourth's answer, instead, was short, cold and senseless. 'England,' he said, 'is under the feudal dominion of the Roman Church. Elizabeth is born out of wedlock; there are other legitimate heirs, and she should never have assumed the crown without the consent of the Apostolic See.' This is the generally accepted account of what took place, as given by Muratori and other historians. Lingard, however, whose authority is undeniable, argues against the truth of the story on the ground that the English Ambassador in Rome at the time of Queen Mary's death never had an audience of the Pope. It seems probable, nevertheless, that Elizabeth actually appealed to the Holy See, though secretly and with the intention of concealing the step in case of failure.
A child might have foreseen the consequences of the Pope's political folly. Elizabeth saw her extreme danger, turned her back upon Rome forever, and threw herself into the arms of the Protestant party as her only chance of safety. At the same time heresy assumed alarming proportions throughout Europe, and the Pope called upon the Inquisition to put it down in Rome. Measures of grim severity were employed, and the Roman people, overburdened with the taxes laid upon them by the Pope's nephews, were exasperated beyond endurance by the religious zeal of the Dominicans, in whose hands the inquisitorial power was placed.
Nor were they appeased by the fall of the two Carafa, which was ultimately brought about by the ambassador of Tuscany. The Pope enquired of him one day why he so rarely asked an audience, and he frankly replied that the Carafa would not admit him to the Pope's presence unless he would previously give a full account of his intentions, and reveal all the secrets of the Grand Duke's policy. Then some one wrote out an account of the Carafa's misdeeds and laid it in the Pope's own Breviary. The result was sudden and violent, like most of Paul's decisions and actions. He called a Consistory of cardinals, made open apology for his nephews' doings, deprived them publicly of all their offices and honours, and exiled them, in opposite directions and with their families, beyond the confines of the Papal States.
But the people were not satisfied; they accused the Pope of treating his nephews as scapegoats for his own sins, and the immediate repeal of many taxes was no compensation for the terrors of the Inquisition. There were spies everywhere. No one was safe from secret accusers. The decisions of the tribunal were slow, mysterious and deadly. The Romans became the victims of a secret reign of terror such as the less brave Neapolitans had more bravely fought against and had actually destroyed a dozen years earlier, when Paul the Fourth, then only a cardinal, had persuaded their Viceroy to try his favourite method of reducing heresy. Yet such was the fear of the Dominicans and of the Pope himself that no one dared to raise his voice against the 'monks of the Minerva.'
The general dissatisfaction was fomented by the nobles, and principally by the Colonna, who had been at open war with the Pope during his whole reign. Moreover, the severities of his government had produced between Colonna and Orsini one of those occasional alliances for their common safety, which vary their history without adorning it. The Pope seized the Colonna estates and conferred them upon his nephews, but was in turn often repulsed as the fighting ebbed and flowed during the four years of his Pontificate, for the Colonna as usual had powerful allies in the Emperor and in his kingdom of Naples. Changeable as the Roman people always were, they had more often espoused the cause of Colonna than that of the Pope and Orsini. Paul the Fourth fell ill in the summer, when the heat makes a southern rabble dangerous, and the certain news of his approaching end was a message of near deliverance. He lingered and died hard, though he was eighty-four years old and afflicted with dropsy. But the exasperated Romans were impatient for the end, and the nobles were willing to take vengeance upon their oppressor before he breathed his last. As the news that the Pope was dying ran through the city, the spell of terror was broken, secret murmuring turned to open complaint, complaint to clamour, clamour to riot. A vast and angry multitude gathered together in the streets and open places, and hour by hour, as the eager hope for news of death was ever disappointed, and the hard old man lived on, the great concourse gathered strength within itself, seething, waiting, listening for the solemn tolling of the great bell in the Capitol to tell them that Paul the Fourth had passed away. Still it came not. And in the streets and everywhere there were retainers and men-at-arms of the great houses, ready of tongue and hand, but friendly with the people, listening to tales of suffering and telling of their lords' angry temper against the dying Pope. A word here, a word there, like sparks amid sun-dried stubble, till the hot stuff was touched with fire and all broke out in flame.
Then words were no longer exchanged between man and man, but a great cry of rage went up from all the throng, and the people began to move, some knowing what they meant to do and some not knowing, nor caring, but moving with the rest, faster and faster, till many were trampled down in the press, and they came to the prisons, to Corte Savella and Tor di Nona, and even to Sant' Angelo, and as they battered at the great doors from without, the prisoners shouted for freedom from within, and their gaolers began to loose their chains, fearing for their own lives, and drew back the bolts to let the stream of riot in. So on that day four hundred condemned men were taken out and let loose, before the Pope was dead.
Yet the people had not enough, and they surged and roared in the streets, quivering with rage not yet half spent. And again words ran along, as fire through dry grass, and suddenly all men thought of the Inquisition, down by the Tiber at the Ripetta. Thought was motion, motion was action, action was to set men free and burn the hated prison to the ground. The prisoners of the Holy Roman Office were seventy-two, and many had lain there long unheard, for the trial of unbelief was cumbrous in argument and slow of issue, and though the Pope could believe no one innocent who was in prison, and though he was violent in his judgments, the saintly Ghislieri was wise and cautious, and would condemn no man hastily to please his master. When he in turn was Pope, the people loved him, though at first they feared him for Pope Paul's sake.
When they had burned the Inquisition on that day and set free the accused persons, and it was not yet night, they turned back from the Tiber, still unsatisfied, for they had shed little blood, or none at all, perhaps, and the people of Rome always thirsted for that when their anger was hot. Through the winding streets they went, dividing where the ways were narrow and meeting again where there was room, always towards Pigna, and the Minerva, and the dwelling of the learned black and white robed fathers into whose hands the Inquisition had been given and from whose monastery the good Ghislieri had been chosen to be cardinal. For the rabble knew no difference of thought or act between him and the dying Pope. They bore torches and weapons, and beams for battering down the doors, and they reached the place, a raging horde of madmen.
Suddenly before them there were five men on horseback, who were just and did not fear them. These men were Marcantonio Colonna and his kinsman Giuliano Cesarini, and a Salviati, and a Torres and Gianbattista Bernardi, who had all suffered much at the hands of the Pope and had come swiftly to Rome when they heard that he was near death. And at the sight of those calm knights, sitting there on their horses without armour and with sheathed swords, the people drew back a moment, while Colonna spoke. Presently, as he went on, they grew silent and understood his words. And when they had understood, they saw that he was right and their anger was quieted, and they went away to their homes, satisfied with having set free those who had been long in prison. So the great monastery was saved from fire and the monks from death. But the Pope was not yet dead, and while he lived the people were restless and angry by day and night, and ready for new deeds of violence; but Marcantonio Colonna rode through the city continually, entreating them to wait patiently for the end, and because he also had suffered much at Paul's hands, they listened to him and did nothing more.
The rest is a history which all men know: how the next Pope was just, and put the Carafa to their trial for many deeds of bloodshed; how the judgment was long delayed that it might be without flaw; how it took eight hours at last to read the judges' summing up; and how Cardinal Carafa was strangled by night in Sant' Angelo, while at the same hour his brother and the two who had murdered his wife were beheaded in Tor di Nona, just opposite the Castle, across the Tiber—a grim tragedy, but the tragedy of justice.
Southward a few steps from the Church of the Minerva is the little Piazza della Pigna, with a street of the same name leading out of it. And at the corner of the place is a small church, dedicated to 'Saint John of the Pine-cone,' that is, of the Region. Within lies one of the noble Porcari in a curious tomb, and their stronghold was close by, perhaps built in one block with the church itself.
The name Porcari calls up another tale of devotion, of betrayal, and of death, with the last struggle for a Roman Republic at the end of the Middle Age. It was a hopeless attempt, made by a brave man of simple and true heart, a man better and nobler than Rienzi in every way, but who judged the times ill and gave his soul and body for the dream of a liberty which already existed in another shape, but which for its name's sake he would not acknowledge. Stephen Porcari failed where Rienzi partially succeeded, because the people were not with him; they were no longer oppressed, and they desired no liberator; they had freedom in fact and they cared nothing for the name of liberty; they had a ruler with whom they were well pleased, and they did not long for one of whom they knew nothing. But Stephen, brave, pure and devoted, was a man of dreams, and he died for them, as many others have died for the name of Rome and the phantom of an impossible Republic; for Rome has many times been fatal to those who loved her best.
In the year 1447 Pope Eugenius the Fourth died, after a long and just reign, disturbed far more by matters spiritual than by any worldly troubles. And then, says the chronicler, a meeting of the Romans was called at Aracoeli, to determine what should be asked of the Conclave that was to elect a new Pope. And there, with many other citizens, Stephen Porcari spoke to the Council, saying some things useful to the Republic; and he declared that Rome should govern itself and pay a feudal tribute to the Pope, as many others of the Papal States did. And the Archbishop of Benevento forbade that he should say more; but the Council and the citizens wished him to go on; and there was disorder, and the meeting broke up, the Archbishop being gravely displeased, and the people afraid to support Stephen against him, because the King of Spain was at Tivoli, very near Rome.
Then the Cardinals elected Pope Nicholas the Fifth, a good man and a great builder, and of gentle and merciful temper, and there was much feasting and rejoicing in Rome. But Stephen Porcari pondered the inspired verses of Petrarch and the strange history of Rienzi, and waited for an opportunity to rouse the people, while his brother, or his kinsman, was the Senator of Rome, appointed by the Pope. At last, after a long time, when there was racing, with games in the Piazza Navona, certain youths having fallen to quarrelling, and Stephen being there, and a great concourse of people, he tried by eloquent words to stir the quarrel to a riot, and a rebellion against the Pope. The people cared nothing for Petrarch's verses nor Rienzi's memory, and Nicholas was kind to them, so that Stephen Porcari failed again, and his failure was high treason, for which he would have lost his head in any other state of Europe. Yet the Pope was merciful, and when the case had been tried, the rebel was sent to Bologna, to live there in peace, provided that he should present himself daily before the Cardinal Legate of the City. But still he dreamed, and would have made action of dreams, and he planned a terrible conspiracy, and escaped from Bologna, and came back to Rome secretly.
His plan was this. On the feast of the Epiphany he and his kinsmen and retainers would seize upon the Pope and the Cardinals as prisoners, when they were on their way to High Mass at Saint Peter's, and then by threatening to murder them the conspirators would force the keepers of Sant'Angelo to give up the Castle, which meant the power to hold Rome in subjection. Once there, they would call upon the people to acclaim the return of the ancient Republic, the Pope should be set free to fulfil the offices of religion, while deprived of all temporal power, and the vision of freedom would become a glorious reality.
But Rome was not with Porcari, and he paid the terrible price of unpopular fanaticism and useless conspiracy. He was betrayed by the folly of his nephew, who, with a few followers, killed the Pope's equerry in a street brawl, and then, perhaps to save himself, fired the train too soon. Stephen shut the great gates of his house and defended himself as well as he could against the men-at-arms who were sent to take him. The doors were closed, says the chronicler, and within there were many armed men, and they fought at the gate, while those in the upper story threw the tables from the windows upon the heads of the besiegers. Seeing that they were lost, Stephen's men went out by the postern behind the house, and his nephew, Battista Sciarra, with four companions, fought his way through, only one of them being taken, because the points of his hose were cut through, so that the hose slipped down and he could not move freely. Those who had not cut their way out were taken within by the governor's men, and Stephen was dragged with ignominy from a chest in which he had taken refuge.
The trial was short and sure, for even the Pope's patience was exhausted. Three days later, Stephen Infessura, the chronicler, saw the body of Stephen Porcari hanging by the neck from the crenellations of the tower that used to stand on the right-hand side of Sant' Angelo, as you go towards the Castle from the bridge; and it was dressed in a black doublet and black hose—the body of that 'honourable man who loved the right and the liberty of Rome, who, because he looked upon his banishment as without good cause, meant to give his life, and gave his body, to free his country from slavery.'
Infessura was a retainer of the Colonna and no friend of any Pope's, of course; yet he does not call the execution of Porcari an act of injustice. He speaks, rather, with a sort of gentle pity of the man who gave so much so freely, and paid bodily death and shame for his belief in a lofty vision. Rienzi dreamed as high, rose far higher, and fell to the depths of his miserable end by his vanity and his weaknesses. Stephen Porcari accomplished nothing in his life, nor by his death; had he succeeded, no one can tell how his nature might have changed; but in failure he left after him the clean memory of an honest purpose, which was perhaps mistaken, but was honourable, patriotic and unselfish.
It is strange, unless it be an accident, that the great opponents, the Dominicans and the Jesuits, should have established themselves on opposite sides of the same street, and it is characteristic that the latter should have occupied more land and built more showy buildings than the former, extending their possessions in more than one direction and in a tentative way, while the rigid Dominicans remained rooted to the spot they had chosen, throughout many centuries. Both are gone, in an official and literal sense. The Dominican Monastery is filled with public offices, and though the magnificent library is still kept in order by Dominican friars, it is theirs no longer, but confiscated to the State, and connected with the Victor Emmanuel Library, in what was the Jesuit Roman College, by a bridge that crosses the street of Saint Ignatius. And the Jesuit College, on its side, is the property of the State and a public school; the Jesuits' library is taken from them altogether, and their dwelling is occupied by other public offices. But the vitality which had survived ages was not to be destroyed by such a trifle as confiscation. Officially both are gone; in actual fact both are more alive than ever. When the Jesuits were finally expelled from their College, they merely moved to the other side of the Dominican Monastery, across the Via del Seminario, and established themselves in the Borromeo palace, still within sight of their rivals' walls, and they called their college the Gregorian University. The Dominicans, driven from the ancient stronghold at last, after occupying it exactly five hundred years, have taken refuge in other parts of Rome under the security of title-deeds held by foreigners, and consequently beyond the reach of Italian confiscation. Yet still, in fact, the two great orders face each other.
It was the prayer of Ignatius Loyola that his order should be persecuted, and his desire has been most literally fulfilled, for the Jesuits have suffered almost uninterrupted persecution, not at the hands of Protestants only, but of the Roman Catholic Church itself in successive ages. Popes have condemned them, and Papal edicts have expelled their order from Rome; Catholic countries, with Catholic Spain at their head, have driven them out and hunted them down with a determination hardly equalled, and certainly not surpassed at any time, by Protestant Prussia or Puritan England. Non-Catholics are very apt to associate Catholics and Jesuits in their disapproval, dislike, or hatred, as the case may be; but neither Englishman nor German could speak of the order of Ignatius more bitterly than many a most devout Catholic.
To give an idea of the feeling which has always been common in Rome against the Jesuits, it is enough to quote the often told popular legend about the windy Piazza del Gesu, where their principal church stands, adjoining what was once their convent, or monastery, as people say nowadays, though Doctor Johnson admits no distinction between the words, and Dryden called a nunnery by the latter name. The story is this. One day the Devil and the Wind were walking together in the streets of Rome, conversing pleasantly according to their habit. When they came to the Piazza del Gesu, the Devil stopped. 'I have an errand in there,' he said, pointing to the Jesuits' house. 'Would you kindly wait for me a moment?' 'Certainly,' answered the Wind. The Devil went in, but never came out again, and the Wind is waiting for him still.
When one considers what the Jesuits have done for mankind, as educators, missionaries and civilizers, it seems amazing that they should be so judged by the Romans themselves. Their devotion to the cause of Christianity against paganism has led many of them to martyrdom in past centuries, and may again so long as Asia and Africa are non-Christian. Their marvellous insight into the nature and requirements of education in the highest sense has earned them the gratitude of thousands of living laymen. They have taught all over the world. Their courage, their tenacity, their wonderful organization, deserve the admiration of mankind. Neither their faults nor their mistakes seem adequate to explain the deadly hatred which they have so often roused against themselves among Christians of all denominations. All organized bodies make mistakes, all have faults; few indeed can boast of such a catalogue of truly good deeds as the followers of Saint Ignatius; yet none have been so despised, so hated, so persecuted, not only by men who might be suspected of partisan prejudice, but by the wise, the just and the good.
REGION X CAMPITELLI
Rome tends to diminutives in names as in facts. The first emperor was Augustus, the last was Augustulus; with the Popes, the Roman Senate dwindled to a mere office, held by one man, and respected by none; the ascent to the Capitol, the path of triumphs that marked the subjugation of the world, became in the twelfth century 'Fabatosta,' or 'Roast Beans Lane'; and, in the vulgar tongue, 'Capitolium' was vulgarized to 'Campitelli,' and the word gave a name to a Region of the city. Within that Region are included the Capitol, the Forum, the Colosseum and the Palatine, with the palaces of the Caesars. It takes in, roughly, the land covered by the earliest city; and, throughout the greater part of Roman history, it was the centre of political and military life. It merited something better than a diminutive for a name; yet, in the latest revolution of things, it has fared better, and has been more respected, than many other quarters, and still the memories of great times and deeds cling to the stones that are left.
In the dark ages, when a ferocious faith had destroyed the remnants of Latin learning and culture, together with the last rites of the old religion, the people invented legend as a substitute for the folklore of all the little gods condemned by the Church; so that the fairy tale is in all Europe the link between Christianity and paganism, and to the weakness of vanquished Rome her departed empire seemed only explicable as the result of magic. The Capitol, in the imagination of such tales, became a tower of wizards. High above all, a golden sphere reflected the sun's rays far out across the distant sea by day, and at night a huge lamp took its place as a beacon for the sailors of the Mediterranean, even to Spain and Africa. In the tower, too, was preserved the mystic mirror of the world, which instantly reflected all that passed in the empire, even to its furthest limits. Below the towers, also, and surmounting the golden palace, there were as many statues as Rome had provinces, and each statue wore a bell at its neck, that rang of itself in warning whenever there was trouble in the part of the world to which it belonged, while the figure itself turned on its base to look in the direction of the danger. Such tales Irving tells of the Alhambra, not more wonderful than those believed of Rome, and far less numerous.
There were stories of hidden treasure, too, without end. For, in those days of plundering, men laid their hands on what they saw, and hid what they took as best they might; and later, when the men of the Middle Age and of the Renascence believed that Rome had been destroyed by the Goths, they told strange stories of Gothmen who appeared suddenly in disguise from the north, bringing with them ancient parchments in which were preserved sure instructions for unearthing the gold hastily hidden by their ancestors, because there had been too much of it to carry away. Even in our own time such things have been done. In the latter days of the reign of Pius the Ninth, some one discovered an old book or manuscript, wherein it was pointed out that a vast treasure lay buried on the northward side of the Colosseum within a few feet of the walls, and it was told that if any man would dig there he should find, as he dug deeper, certain signs, fragments of statues, and hewn tablets, and a spring of water. So the Pope gave his permission, and the work began. Every one who lived in Rome thirty years ago can remember it, and the excited curiosity of the whole city while the digging went on. And, strange to say, though the earth had evidently not been disturbed for centuries, each object was found in succession, exactly as described, to a great depth; but not the treasure, though the well was sunk down to the primeval soil. It was all filled in again, and the mystery has never been solved. Yet the mere fact that everything was found except the gold, lends some possibility to the other stories of hidden wealth, told and repeated from generation to generation.
The legend of the Capitol is too vast, too varied, too full of tremendous contrasts to be briefly told or carelessly sketched. Archaeologists have reconstructed it on paper, scholars have written out its history, poets have said great things of it; yet if one goes up the steps today and stands by the bronze statue in the middle of the square, seeing nothing but a paved space enclosed on three sides by palaces of the late Renascence, it is utterly impossible to call up the past. Perhaps no point of ancient Rome seems less Roman and less individual than that spot where Rienzi stood, silent and terrified, for a whole hour before the old stone lion, waiting for the curious, pitiless rabble to kill him. The big buildings shut out history, hide the Forum, the Gemonian steps, and the Tarpeian rock, and in the very inmost centre of the old city's heart they surround a man with the artificialities of an uninteresting architecture. For though Michelangelo planned the reconstruction he did not live to see his designs carried out, and they fell into the hands of little men who tried to improve upon what they could not understand, and ruined it.