Supplemental  Research  1






















"What profit has not that Fable of Christ brought us!"










Forgery in Christianity, 1930  (Wheless)








Encyclopaedia Britannica








History of the Christian Church  (Schaff)








The Diegesis, 1829  (Taylor)








History of the Christian Church  (Schaff)








Renaissance  (Burckhardt)








Renaissance  (Symonds)








John Edwin Sandys








The Cambridge Modern History








Renaissance  (Ferguson)








Mysteriously Meant  (Allen)















The History of England  (Hume)








Pope Alexander VI and His Court  (Burchardus)









Oxford Dictionary of National Biography






The Life…of Leo the Tenth  (Roscoe)






The History of the Popes  (von Ranke)






The History of the Popes  (Pastor)






Jacopo Sadoleto  (Douglas)






Crises in the History of the Papacy  (McCabe)






A Rationalist Encyclopaedia  (McCabe)






Catholic Encyclopedia






The Pope's Elephant  (Bedini)






Encyclopedia of the Vatican and Papacy






The Bad Popes  (Chamberlin)






Vicars of Christ  (de Rosa)






The Deaths of the Popes  (Reardon)














Innocent III





Paul II



Sixtus IV



Innocent VIII



Alexander VI



Pius III



Julius II




  Leo X                  1513–21 [1475 – 1521]          [Luther 1483 – 1546]



Adrian VI



Clement VII



Paul III



Julius III




[Encyc. Brit., v. 9, c2005, 123].
















Jacopo Sannazaro

1458 – 1530




1466 – 1536



Pietro Bembo

1470 – 1547



Leo X

1475 – 1521



Jacopo Sadoleto

1477 – 1547



Martin Luther

1483 – 1546



Ulrich von Hutten

1488 – 1523



John Bale

1495 – 1563



Michel de Montaigne

1533 – 1592



Philippe du Plessis

1549 – 1623



Pierre Bayle

1647 – 1706



Johann von Mosheim

1694 – 1755



A few associations:


John Bale mentions Sannazaro [see 167, 164].


Du Plessis references Sannazaro [see 186, 187, 189, 190].


Bayle references du Plessis [see 308, 309]. 


Mosheim references du Plessis, and Bayle [see 317]. 









1.  My results, regarding the statement (from James Patrick Holding): 


'"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"


Pope Leo X.' : 



COMMENT (LS):  I will take a word from John Addington Symonds (54-55), and, The Cambridge Modern History (63), regarding Cosimo de' Medici, Pope Julius II, Pope Leo X, and state:  "ATTRIBUTED" to LEO X.


_____     _____     _____



2.   Of much interest (from James Patrick Holding):  '


    When did Leo make this statement (the year is enough)?


    To whom did Leo make it, and who heard it?


    What was the context that prompted Leo to make this statement?


    In what document did those who heard it, report it?


    What reaction, if any, was there to this statement?


    In what contemporary works is all of this reported?


    Based on the above, show what in context the "fable" [see 166-170] Leo   refers to – the entire existence of a man named Jesus?  Not his existence, but just certain events?  Etc.' 



Comment (LS):  Very stringent!  Excellent!


If the above first six questions (substitute x (person) for Leo), had to be met by acceptable answers, in all books (newspapers, magazines, conversations, etc.), libraries (etc.) would be very small.






On, page 1736, I (LS) have remarked:




            I have had to quote the "Christian" authors Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and, many other ancient authors—"Pagan" and "Christian".


            I realized years ago, that confidence in names of ancient authors, and, all their supposed writings, like religions, involves much faith, apologetics, etc.  I asked (of necessity, myself):  "where did they [and, who were they?  and, when?] find the original manuscripts (autographs)?, under the beds of the authors?"  I began researching.  I began disappointments.  [see 1752-1753, 1838-1850, 1878-1879]


            I have not seen elaborate arguments, describing how we can be confident that all these persons existed, and that all (or some) of the writings ascribed to them, were by them.  Fiats are presented, instead of proofs.  Traditions!  Presumptions!


_____     _____     _____



3.  Reference to (from James Patrick Holding): 


"Britannica does not know or care about this quote at all  ["What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"]."



COMMENT (LS):  The page number in Wheless was transposed (by who?):  not page 217, but 127 [see 20].


[I am still laughing about:  "Nice pix of pigeon's lungs and a goat's branchiole, but no Leo."  [I formerly raised Birmingham Roller Pigeons, and had an article ("Tumbling Behavior in Pigeons") in the American Pigeon Journal, August, 1975 (research done 1964, for a class in Avian Physiology, U.C. Davis);

I studied bronchioles ("branchiole" in the E.B. article on "Respiration"), in histology]].






"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!",


I have seen in the 9th, 11th, 13th and 14th editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (and, the 10th and 12th editions, are reprints of the 9th and 11th editions (plus extra volumes)).



Note:  from approximately 1883 to 1974 ("90" years!), the Encyclopaedia Britannica contained (contains) the article "Renaissance", by John Addington Symonds, with: 


'This was tolerated with approval by men who repeated Leo X.'s witty epigram: 


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"' 


_____     _____     _____



4.  Reference to (from James Patrick Holding): 


"First of all, as I've noted before, it's not as though some offhand comment by a single Pope is enough to overturn 1500-2000 years of relevant secular and religious scholarship.  The skeptics would like for you to believe that perhaps old Leo committed a serious gaffe


[(in an intimate setting) attempt to be witty, contrary, shocking, rational, etc.? (influence of wine, illness, fat, etc.?)]


here in which he admitted what was otherwise hidden


for nearly 1500 years, namely, that Christ never actually existed".



Comment (LS):  The above is a helpful statement.


Who knows the private thoughts of people exposed to Christianism ("Christianity") through the centuries?  Cultural imprinting, politics, self preservation—suppressed freethought and free speech, etc.


_____     _____     _____






The below (11-12), classic litanies, of course, do not disprove:  Jesus (was) is a Fictional character (see, main page):



'A child whose birth is heralded by a star which guides foreign sages to Judaea; a massacre of all the infants of a town within the Roman Empire by command of a subject king; a teacher who heals the leper, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the lame, and who raises the mouldering corpse; a King of the Jews entering Jerusalem in triumphal procession, [pg 194] without opposition from the Roman legions of Caesar; an accused ringleader of sedition arrested by his own countrymen, and handed over to the imperial governor; a rebel adjudged to death by Roman law; a three hours' darkness over all the land; an earthquake breaking open graves and rending the temple veil; a number of ghosts wandering about Jerusalem; a crucified corpse rising again to life, and appearing to a crowd of above 500 people; a man risen from the dead ascending bodily into heaven without any concealment, and in the broad daylight, from a mountain near Jerusalem; all these marvelous events took place, we are told, and yet they have left no ripple on the current of contemporary history.  There is, however, no lack of such history, and an exhaustive account of the country and age in which the hero [Jesus] of the story lived is given by one of his own nation—a most painstaking and laborious historian [apparently, Josephus].



"[Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794] how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the pagan and philosophic world to those evidences which were presented by the hand of omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? 


During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies.  The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, and the laws of nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the Church.


but the sages of greece and rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world.


Under the reign of Tiberius [reign 14 – 37 C.E. (42 B.C.E. – 37 C.E.] the whole earth, or at least a celebrated province of the Roman Empire, was involved in a preternatural darkness of three hours.  Even this miraculous event,






which ought to have excited the wonder, the curiosity, and the devotion of mankind, passed without notice in an age of science and history.  It happened during the lifetime of Seneca [c. 4 B.C.E. – 65 C.E.] and the elder Pliny [23 – 79 C.E.], who must have experienced the immediate effects, or received the earliest intelligence, of the prodigy.  Each of these philosophers, in a laborious work, has recorded all the great phenomena of nature—earthquakes, meteors, comets, and eclipses, which his indefatigable curiosity could collect.  Both the one and the other have omitted to mention the greatest phenomenon to which the mortal eye has been witness since the creation of [pg 195] the globe.  A distinct chapter of Pliny is designed for eclipses of an extraordinary nature and unusual duration; but he contents himself with describing the singular defect of light which followed the murder of Caesar, when, during the greatest part of the year, the orb of the sun appeared pale and without splendour.  This season of obscurity, which cannot surely be compared with the preternatural darkness of the Passion, had been already celebrated by most of the poets and historians of that memorable age"


(Gibbon's "Decline and Fall," vol. ii., pp. 191, 192. Ed. 1821).'


[the above (11-12), from:  Annie Besant [1847 – 1933], Christianity—Its Evidences.   Its Origin.  Its Morality.  Its History, 1876, pages 193-195.  [this book, one of my treasures; available online:; etc.]].


_____     _____     _____



from:, page 527:


'THE UNIVERSAL THEORY OF DISEASE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT IS THAT OF DEMONIC POSSESSION.  From the fourth chapter of St. Matthew on, we find numerous references to the healing of the sick and the casting out of devils; "and they brought unto him [Jesus] all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them."  There are sixteen other references to such healings in Matthew, nineteen in Mark and twenty in Luke.  The most interesting case is, of course, that of the devils expelled from their two human victims into the herd of Gadarene [see #4, 122] swine when "behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea" (Matthew 8; Mark 5; Luke 8).' 


_____     _____     _____






from:, page 73.



'386.  'But the Jesus who emulated Buddha in advocating poverty and humility eventually became the mythic figurehead for one of the world's pre-eminent money-making organizations.  The cynical Pope Leo X [1475 – 1521] exclaimed,



"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"59 [Barbara Walker, referencing L. Sprague de Camp]'


            [(59) L. Sprague de Camp, The Ancient Engineers, (my source) Doubleday, 1963, 365 (also, from the same reference:  [Leo X] "Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it".)].' 


_____     _____     _____



from:  The Ancient Engineers, L. [Lyon] Sprague de Camp [1907 – 2000], Doubleday, 1963.



            'But this Pope was the fat, indolent, and worldly Leo X, who said: 


"Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it," and


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"22'  [365].


            [footnote] "22.  Ibid. [ibidem (Latin):  "in the same place" (previous reference:  Leonardo da Vinci, Antonina Vallentin, 1938)], p. 462;


Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. [Latin:  sub verbo:  "under the word"] Renaissance."  [384].


_____     _____     _____






Note:  this repeated epigram, attributed to LEO X, is presented for sources, comparisons, etc.



   1.   '"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"


          Pope Leo X.'  [James Patrick Holding (see 6)].



   2.   "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" 

         [Barbara Walker, referencing L. Sprague de Camp (see 13)].



   3.   "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us"  [Joseph Wheless (see 20)].



   4.   "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"  [Encyclopaedia Britannica (Symonds) (see 24)].



   5.   "how profitable that fable of Christ has been to us." 

         [Philip Schaff (see 36)].



   6.   "Quantum nobis nostrisque ea de Christo fabula proSuerit, satis est omnibus saeculis notum." 

         [Philip Schaff (see 36)].



   7.   'Pope Leo the Tenth's avowal, that "it was well known how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us"' 

         [Robert Taylor (see 40)].



   8.   "It is well known to all ages how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us"  [Roscoe (see 90)].






   9.   "All ages can testifye [testifie] enough how [HOWE] profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to us [VS] and our companie."  [Roscoe, quoting John Bale (see 90, 92)] [spellings in brackets, are from "Bale's Pageant of Popes", 1574 (see 164)].



10.   "the fable about Jesus Christ" 

         [Joseph McCabe (see 129, 132)].



11.   "We owe all this to the fable of Jesus Christ" 

         [Joseph McCabe (see 132)].



12.   "How much we and our family have profited by the legend of Christ, is sufficiently evident to all ages." 

         [Catholic Encyclopedia (see 133)].



13.   "How very profitable this fable of Christ has been to us through the ages"  [E.R. Chamberlin (see 137)].



14.   "All ages can testifie enough howe profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to vs and our companie".  [John Bale, 1574 (see 164)].



15.   "Quantum nobis ac nostro coetui prosuerit ea de Christo fabula, satis est seculis omnibus notum."  [John Bale, 1558 (see 167)].  [Medieval Latin (not!, Ciceronian Latin) (see 169)].



16.   "It is sufficiently well-known to all ages how much this story about Christ has benefited us and our company."  

         [John Bale (translation of 14., above), 1558 (see 167)].






17.   "Quantum nobis ac nostro coetui prosuerit ea de Christo fabula, satis est seculis omnibus notum."

"All ages can abundantly testify how profitable that fable [story] of Christ has been to us and to our class. 

FABULA can be translated TALE, FABLE; STORY; or DRAMA, according to what the writer wants to convey."  [note:  a definition of fiction is elusive (see 169)].



18.   "what profit this fable of Christ hath brought to vs, and our company:  All the world knoweth."  [Two Treatises (see 176)].



19.   "Que ceste fable de Christ nous a fait de bien & à tout nostre College." 
[Du Plessis, 1611 (see 187)].



20.   "It is sufficiently knowne to all ages, how greatly that fable of Christ hath profited us and ours." 

[Du Plessis, English edition, 1612 (see 190)].



21.   "to the great disgrace of the Romish church, they united in ridiculing the christian religion in their moments of festivity, as a lucrative fable."  [see 220].



22.   "Todo el mundo sabe quanto provecho aya traydo á NOSOTROS, Y á nEustra compānia aquella fabula de Christo"  [Cipriano de Valera (see 223)].



23.   "the Fabula de Christo"  [The Visions of Pasquin (see 260)].






24.   Note:  Pietro Bembo (Bembus) could have developed the epigram attributed to Leo X: 


"What profit has not that Fable of Christ brought us!" 

[see 306].



25.   "it is well known of old, how profitable this fable of Jesus Christ has been to us. 


Quantum nobis nostrisque ea de Christo fabula


prosuerit satis est omnibus seculis notum." 

[Pierre Bayle (see 308)].



26.   "WHAT A DEAL OF SERVICE HAS THIS FABLE OF CHRIST DONE US, AND OUR WHOLE COLLEGE."  [Pierre Bayle, quoting Du Plessis (see 309)]. 



27.   "[LEO X.] considered the Christian religion a fable, though a profitable one;


that he [leo x] doubted the immortality of the soul, &c."  [Mosheim, quoting "Du Plessis, and other Protestants" (see 317)].



28.   "we must admit that this fable of Jesus Christ has been quite profitable to us."  [De Tribus Impostoribus (see 660)].



29.   "the story of Jesus Christ is a (a) contemptible fable" 

[The Treatise of the Three Imposters (see 668)].






30.   "how much this fable of Jesus Christ has been profitable to us." 


'Quantum nobis nostrisque ea de Christo fabula prosuerit, satis est omnis seculis notum.'"  [The Treatise of the Three Imposters (see 668)].


_____     _____     _____



"It is commonly believed that Leo [X], from the penetration of his genius, and his familiarity with ancient literature, was fully acquainted with the ridicule and falsity of the doctrines which, as supreme pontiff, he was obliged by his interest to promote"  [Hume (see 74, 65)].


_____     _____     _____



Note:  this repeated expression, attributed to LEO X, is presented as a minor study (see 53).



1.   "Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it"

      [Sprague de Camp (see 13)]. 



2.   "Let us enjoy the papacy since God has given it to us" 

[Encyclopaedia Britannica (Hayes) (see 28)].



3.   "'When the Pope [Leo X, Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)] was made, he said to Giuliano [brother] (Duke of Nemours): 


Let us enjoy the Papacy since God has given it [TO] usgodiamoci il Papato, poichè Dio ce l' ha dato.'"  [Symonds (see 53)].



4.   "'Let us enjoy the Papacy,' said Leo X. [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)], 'now that God has given it to us.'"  [Symonds (see 55)].






5.   "The reign of Leo was about to shed new luster on the Medicean exiles.  His victorious exclamation to his brother [Giuliano]


'Godiamoci il Papato poichè Dio ce l' ha dato'  [Let us enjoy the Papacy since God has given it to us]"  [Symonds (see 56)].



6.   "Leo X followed with a pale imitation of the policy of Alexander VI [Pope 1492 – 1503 (1431 – 1503)], his object being the advancement of the Medici family and the preservation of the papal dominions in the fierce strife between France and Spain.  To him the papacy was a personal

possession out of which the possessor was expected to make the most, religion being an entirely subordinate affair.  His conception of his duties is condensed in the burst of exultation attributed to him on his election,


Let us enjoy the papacy since God has given it to us!"

[Cambridge Modern History (see 63)].



7.   'When the Venetian ambassador ascribes to him [LEO X] the saying,


"Let us enjoy the Papacy now that God has given it to us,"


we may or may not have a mere popular rumour, though the phrase is at least a correct expression of Leo's ideal'  [McCabe (see 129)].



8.   'The cardinals were accurate in their assessment of Leo's character. 


"God has given us the Papacy—let us enjoy it,"1


he [Pope Leo X] wrote to his beloved brother Giuliano.' 

[Chamberlin (see 136)].



9.   Did Leo say, "Let us enjoy the papacy, since God has given it to us"?  [Murray (see 343)].


_____     _____     _____






from:  Forgery in Christianity, A Documented Record of the Foundations of the Christian Religion, by Joseph Wheless [1858 – 1950], Lately Major, Judge Advocate, U.S.A.; Associate Editor (in Section of Comparative Law) of American Bar Association Journal; Life Member of American Law Institute; etc., Alfred A. Knopf, MCMXXX.



            '"Churchmen in high places were constantly unmindful of truth, justice, purity, self-denial; many had lost all sense of Christian ideals; not a few were deeply stained by Pagan [?] vices....The earlier years of Aeneas Sylvius [Pope Pius II, 1458–64], the whole career of Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI), the life of Farnese, afterwards Paul III, until he was compelled to reform himself as well as the Curia,...all with disregard for the most elementary virtues.  Julius II fought and intrigued like a mere secular prince;


Leo X [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)], although certainly not an unbeliever


 [[brackets and contents, by Wheless] it was His Holiness who framed the famous "witty epigram: 


'What profit has not that Fable of Christ brought us'";


Encyc. Brit., 14th Ed. xix, 217 [number error (transposition (by who?  [see 561-563; etc.])); correct page number:  127]]


was frivolous in the extreme;


Clement VII drew on himself the contempt as well as hatred of all who had dealings with him, by his crooked ways and cowardly subterfuges which led to the taking and pillage of Rome.  Now, it is not unfair to trace in these popes, as in their advisers, a certain common type, the pattern of which was Cesare Borgia, sometime cardinal, but always in mind and action a condottiere [bandit], while its philosopher was Machiavelli.  We may express it in the words of Villari as a 'prodigious intellectual activity accompanied by moral decay.'  ...Not only did they fall away from monastic severities, they lost all manly and decent self-control...."' 


["CE. [Catholic Encyclopedia] xii,767–768 [766–767]."]  [351-352].


l l l l l






from:  Encyclopaedia Britannica; or a Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Compiled upon a New Plan.  In which the different Sciences and Arts are digested into distinct Treaties or Systems; and The various Technical Terms, &c. are explained as they occur in the order of the Alphabet.  Illustrated with one hundred and sixty copperplates.  By a Society of Gentlemen in Scotland.  In Three Volumes.  Vol. III.  Edinburgh:  Printed for A. Bell and C. Macfarquhar; And fold by Colin Macfarquhar, at his Printing-office, Nicolson-Street.  M.DCC.LXXI.  Reprint of the first edition, "Chicago, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1968". 


[Note:  no entry for:  Leo X; or, Renaissance]



"Religion, or Theology.


            I.  To know God, and to render him a reasonable service, are the two principal objects of religion.  We know but little of the nature of bodies; we discover some of their properties, as motion, figure, colours, &c. but of their essence we are ignorant:  we know still much less of the soul; but of the essence or nature of God, we know nothing:  it is the prerogative of the Supreme Being alone to comprehend his own essence:  all the efforts that we can make to attain that knowledge, are arrogant and ineffectual; it is foreign to the nature of a limited spirit:  but our destiny is that of a man, and our desires are those of a God.  In a word, man appears to be formed to adore, but not to comprehend, the Supreme Being.


            II.  We may say, however, with Virgil [70 – 19 B.C.E.], Jovis omnia plena; God manifests his existence, not only to the internal sensations of our minds, but in every object that surrounds us in the whole frame of nature; and if we cannot comprehend the Supreme Being by our senses, we may discover his attributes by our reason, almost as clearly as we distinguish the properties of matter, and many other objects:  and this knowledge is sufficient for us.  The end of every other science is some temporal happiness; theology alone proposes an eternal felicity; its objects therefore differs from all other sciences, as the age of threescore and ten differs from eternity.  We cannot wonder therefore, that all the inhabitants of the earth, from the time of the creation, have made it their principal study, and have exerted all their abilities in the cultivation of it:  we ought much rather to be astonished that it does not yet more strongly engage the attention of mankind; and that while they labour to assiduously to acquire those sciences, whose utility extends to so short a space of time, they should so frequently neglect that object which can secure their felicity in a future, certain, and eternal existence.






            III.  From the first knowledge that we have of the world, that is to say, for about five thousand years past, men have blindly searched after the idea of the true God; and by the weakness of their discernment, they have fallen into a thousand errors.  Paganism at first covered the whole earth, except that family alone which became the stock of the Jewish people [Semite "Pagans"!]:  this paganism among different nations had different mixtures of idolatry.  Moses first made known to the Hebrews the true God, and prescribed them his worship:  his religion, however, was not adopted by any other people, not even by their neighbours.  Jesus Christ appeared upon the earth, abolished a part of the Judaic law, reformed the religion of Moses, taught his divine doctrines, and offered himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of mankind.  His gospel made a happy progress over all Europe, that is, over the then known part of the earth.  Some time after, Mahomet arose in the east and preached a religion that he had compounded of the Jewish and Christian, and of his own ideas.  Lastly, came Luther and Calvin, who reformed the errors which, according to them, had been introduced into Christianity under the reigns of the popes; and gave the idea of what is called the Protestant Religion.  Confucius had taught the Chinese, and Zoroaster the Indians, religions drawn partly from philosophy, and partly from paganism; but the extent of these was very confined.  All these religions, and their different sects, have had their theology, their priests, their ceremonies, their triumphs, and even their martyrs.






            IV.  We shall not speak here of religions that are extinct, or that yet exist, but at a distance far from us: 


we shall treat only of the Christian theology, which teaches us to know God, by revelation and by the light of reason, so far as it is possible for the weakness of the human mind to comprehend that inscrutable Being.  The knowledge of the true God is indeed of little utility to man, unless he can suppose that there is some connection or relation between the Supreme Being and himself.  Now it is from these connections or relations that are derived the necessity of the knowledge of the true God, and of the true manner in which he is to be worshipped:  and this it is that forms the Christian theology; of which we shall now give the analysis.


            V.  To ascend by a chain of reasoning from things visible to things invisible, from palpable to impalpable, from terrestrial to celestial, from the creature even up to the Creator, is the business of theology:  it is not surprising, therefore, that the union of many doctrines is necessary completely to form such a science.  To understand, and properly to interpret the scriptures or revelation, demands not less sagacity than assiduity.  The gift of persuasion is also essential to the ministers of the gospel.  And lastly, the civil government has committed to their care certain functions of society, which relate, or seem to relate, either to the doctrines or morality of the gospel[.]..."  [533].


_____     _____     _____






from:  Encyclopaedia Britannica, Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature, Ninth Edition, Volume XX, Edinburgh:  Adam and Charles Black, MDCCCLXXXIII (1875-89).



Article:  "Renaissance", by John Addington Symonds [1840 – 1893].


'....A similar criticism, conducted less on lines of erudition than of persiflage and irony, ransacked the moral abuses of the church and played around the very foundations of Christianity. 


This was tolerated with approval by men who repeated Leo X.'s witty epigram: 


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" 


[Note:  Symonds did not provide a source for the epigram (protection?)]


The same critical and philosophic spirit working on the materials of history produced a new science, the honours of which belong to Machiavelli....'  [386].



"That, in spite of retardation and retrogression, the old order of ideas should have yielded to the new all over Europe,—that science should have won firm standing ground, and political liberty should have struggled through those birth-throes of its origin,—was in the nature of things.  Had this not been, the Renaissance or re-birth of Europe would be a term without a meaning.


            Literature.The special articles on the several arts and the literatures of modern Europe, and on the biographies of great men mentioned in this essay, will give details of necessity here omitted.  It may be useful to indicate a few works upon the Renaissance in general.  Burckhardt's Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien, Michelet's "Renaissance" (7th vol. of Histoire de France), Voigt's Wiederbelebung des Classischen Alterthums; Symond's Renaissance in Italy, Marc Monnier's Renaissance de Dante à Luther, Müntz's Précurseurs de la Renaissance and Renaissance en Italie et en France, and Geiger's Humanismus und Renaissance in Italien und Deutschland are among the most comprehensive.


(J.A.S.) [John Addington Symonds 1840 – 1893]"  [394].






[from:  WorldCat:  "The new volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, constituting, in combination with the existing volumes of the ninth edition, the tenth edition ["1902" (E.B.)] of that work..."].


_____     _____     _____



from:  The Encyclopaedia Britannica, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Volumes XXIII ("Renaissance"); XXVI ("Symonds"); XVI ("Leo X."), 1910–1911. 



[Volume XXIII] Article:  "Renaissance", by John Addington Symonds [1840 – 1893].


'Humanism in its earliest stages was uncritical.  It absorbed the relics of antiquity with omnivorous appetite, and with very imperfect sense of the distinction between worse and better work.  Yet it led in process of time to criticism.  The critique of literature began in the lecture-room of Politian, in the printing-house of Aldus, and in the school of Vittorino.  The critique of Roman law started, under Politian's auspices, upon a more liberal course than that which had been followed by the powerful but narrow-sighted glossators of Bologna.  Finally, in the court of Naples arose that most formidable of all critical engines, the critique of established ecclesiastical traditions and spurious historical documents.  Valla [Lorenzo Valla c. 1406 – 1457] by one vigorous effort destroyed the False Decretals and exposed the Donation of Constantine to ridicule, paving the way for the polemic carried on against the dubious pretensions of the papal throne by scholars of the Reformation. 


A similar criticism, conducted less on lines of erudition than of persiflage and irony, ransacked the moral abuses of the church and played around the very foundations of Christianity. 


This was tolerated with approval by men who repeated Leo X.'s witty epigram: 


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" 


The same critical and philosophic spirit working on the materials of history produced a new science, the honours of which belong to Machiavelli [1469 – 1527] .  He showed, on the one side, how the history of a people can be written with a recognition of fixed principles, and at the same time with an artistic feeling






for personal and dramatic episodes.  On the other side, he addressed himself to the analysis of man considered as a political being, to the anatomy of constitutions and the classification of governments, to the study of motives underlying public action, the secrets of success and the causes of failure in the conduct of affairs.  The unscrupulous rigour with which he applied his scientific method, and the sinister deductions he thought himself justified in drawing from the results it yielded, excited terror and repulsion.  Nevertheless, a department had been added to the intellectual empire of mankind, in which fellow-workers, like Guicciardini at Florence, and subsequently Sarpi at Venice, were not slow to follow the path traced by Machiavelli.'  [87].


"That, in spite of retardation and retrogression, the old order of ideas should have yielded to the new all over Europe,—that science should have won firm standing-ground, and political liberty should have struggled through those birth-throes of its origin,—was in the nature of things.  Had this not been, the Renaissance or re-birth of Europe would be a term without a meaning.


(J.A.S.) [John Addington Symonds 1840 – 1893]



            LITERATURE.—The special articles on the several arts and the literatures of modern Europe, and on the biographies of great men mentioned in this essay, will give details of necessity here omitted.  Of works on the Renaissance in general may be mentioned Jacob Burckhardt, Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italian (Eng. trans., 1878); G. Voigt, Wiederbelebung des Classischen Alterthums (2 vols. 3rd ed., by M. Lehnerdt, 1893); J.A. Symonds, Renaissance in Italy; Marc Monnier, Renaissance de Dante à Luther; Eugène Müntz, Précurseurs de la Renaissance (1882), Renaissance en Italie et en France (1885), and Hist. de l'art pendant la Renaissance (1889–95); Ludwig Geiger, Humanismus und Renaissance in Italian und Deutschland (1882), and Cambridge Modern History, vol. i., "The Renaissance" (Cambridge 1903), where full bibliographies will be found."  [93].



            [Volume XXVI] ARTICLE:  "SYMONDS, JOHN ADDINGTON (1840–1893), English critic and poet, was born at Bristol, on the 5th day of October 1840."  [286].



"[John Addington Symonds] was occupied upon the work to which his talents and sympathies were especially attracted, his Renaissance in Italy, which appeared in seven volumes at intervals between 1875 and 1886.  The Renaissance had been the subject of Symonds' prize essay at Oxford, and






the study which he had then given to the theme aroused in him a desire to produce something like a complete picture of the reawakening of art and literature in Europe."  [286].



"He was assiduously, feverishly active throughout the whole of his life, and the amount of work which he achieved was wonderful when the uncertainty of his health is remembered.  He had a passion for Italy, and for many years resided during the autumn in the house of his friend, Horatio F. Brown, on the Zattare, in Venice.  He died at Rome on the 19th of April 1893, and was buried close to Shelley."  [286].



"Full of ardour and ambition, sympathy and desire, he [Symonds] was perpetually tormented by the riddles of existence; through life he was always a seeker, ardent but unsatisfied [see, main page, Postscript]."  [287].



[Note:  John Addington Symonds translated The Sonnets of Michael Angelo Buonarroti [1475 – 1564] ("first English translation of the poetry of Michelangelo" (Encyclopaedia Britannica,  Fifteenth Edition, v.11, 461))].



            [Volume XVI] ARTICLE:  "LEO X. [Giovanni de' Medici] (1475–1521), pope from the 11th of March 1513, to the 1st of December 1521".  [433].



' Leo's lively interest in art and literature, to say nothing of his natural liberality, his nepotism, his political ambitions and necessities, and his immoderate personal luxury, exhausted within two years the hard savings of Julius II., and precipitated a financial crisis from which he never emerged and which was a direct cause of most of the calamities of his pontificate.  He created many new offices and shamelessly sold them.  He sold cardinals' hats.  He sold membership in the "Knights of Peter."  He borrowed large sums from bankers, curials, princes and Jews.  The Venetian ambassador Gradenigo estimated the paying number of offices on Leo's death at 2150, with a capital value of nearly 3,000,000 ducats and a yearly income of 328,000 ducats.  Marino Giorgi reckoned the ordinary income of the pope for the year 1517 at about 580,000 ducats, of which 420,000 came from the States of the Church, 100,000 from annates, and 60,000 from the composition tax instituted by Sixtus IV.  These sums, together with the considerable amounts accruing from indulgences, jubilees, and special fees, vanished as quickly as they were received. 






Then the pope resorted to pawning palace furniture, table plate, jewels, even statues of the apostles.  Several banking firms and many individual creditors were ruined by the death of the pope.


            In the past many conflicting estimates were made of the character and achievements of the pope during whose pontificate Protestantism first took form.  More recent studies have served to produce a fairer and more honest opinion of Leo X.  A report of the Venetian ambassador Marino Giorgi bearing date of March 1517 indicates some of his predominant characteristics:—


            "The pope [Leo X] is a good-natured and extremely free-hearted man, who avoids every difficult situation and above all wants peace; he would not undertake a war himself unless his own personal interests were involved; he loves learning; of canon law and literature he possesses remarkable knowledge; he is, moreover, a very excellent musician." 


Leo was dignified in appearance and elegant in speech, manners and writing.  He enjoyed music and the theatre, art and poetry, the masterpieces of the ancients and the wonderful creations of his contemporaries, the spiritual and the witty—life in every form. 


It is by no means certain [what percent of history is "certain"?] that he [Leo X] made the remark often attributed to him,


"Let us enjoy the papacy since God has given it to us,"


but there is little doubt that he [Leo X] was by nature devoid of moral earnestness or deep religious feeling. 


On the other hand, in spite of his worldliness, Leo was not an unbeliever; he prayed, fasted, and participated in the services of the church with conscientiousness.  To the virtues of liberality, charity and clemency he added the Machiavellian qualities of falsehood and shrewdness, so highly esteemed by the princes of his time.  Leo was deemed fortunate by his contemporaries, but an incurable malady, wars, enemies, a conspiracy of cardinals, and the loss of all his nearest relations darkened his days; and he failed entirely in his general policy of expelling foreigners from Italy, of restoring peace throughout Europe, and of prosecuting war against the Turks.  He failed to recognize the pressing need of reform within the church and the tremendous dangers which threatened the papal monarchy; and he unpardonably neglected the spiritual needs of the time.  He was, however, zealous in firmly establishing the political power of the Holy See; he made it unquestionably supreme in Italy;






he [LEO X] successfully restored the papal power in France; and he secured a prominent place in the history of culture.'  [end of article, excepting "Authorities"] [436].



"Authorities."  [436]


"....W. Roscoe, Life and Pontificate of Leo X. (6th ed., 2 vols., 1853), a celebrated biography but considerably out of date [another annoying dismissive comment.  Newer than thou, ergo, holier than thou!] in spite of the valuable notes of the German and Italian translators, Henke and Bossi…." 

"(C.H. Ha.)" [436].


["CARLTON HUNTLEY HAYES, A.M., Ph., Assistant Professor of History in Columbia University, New York City.  Member of the American Historical Association."  [vi]]. 


_____     _____     _____






[from:  WorldCat:  "The Encyclopaedia Britannica; the new volumes, constituting, in combination with the twenty-nine volumes of the eleventh edition, the twelfth edition ["1922" (E.B.)], of that work...."]. 



[Note:  the THIRTEENTH EDITION, 1926, has the same article ("Renaissance", by John Addington Symonds), also, in Volume XXIII. 


The quotation:  "What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!", also, is on page 87].


_____     _____     _____



from:  The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Fourteenth Edition, A New Survey of Universal Knowledge, Volume 19, Raynal to Sarreguemines, The Encyclopaedia Britannica Company LTD., London, The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.  New York.  1929.





'Valla [Lorenzo Valla c. 1406 – 1457] by one vigorous effort destroyed the False Decretals and exposed the Donation of Constantine to ridicule, paving the way for the polemic carried on against the dubious pretensions of the papal throne by scholars of the Reformation.  A similar criticism, conducted less on lines of erudition than of persiflage and irony, ransacked the moral abuses of the Church and played around the very foundations of Christianity. 


This was tolerated with approval by men who repeated

Leo X.'s witty epigram,


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!" 


The same critical and philosophic spirit working on the materials of history produced a new science, the honours of which belong to Machiavelli.'  [127]. 


[Note:  Wheless [see 20] has page 217 for this reference.  OBSERVE the transposition of numbers (and subject matter)—by someone!].






'In truth the Renaissance was ruled by no Astrae [Astraea] redux [written by John Dryden, 1660.  "return of the reign of justice to the earth" (] but rather by a severe spirit which brought no peace but a sword, reminding men of sternest duties, testing what of moral force and tenacity was in them, compelling them to strike for the old order or the new, suffering no lukewarm halting between two opinions.  That, in spite of retardation and retrogression, the old order of ideas should have yielded to the new all over Europe—that science should have won firm standing-ground and political liberty should have struggled through those birth-throes of its origin—was in the nature of things.  Had this not been, the Renaissance or re-birth of Europe would be a term without a meaning. 


(J.A.S.) [John Addington Symonds 1840 – 1893]



[Preserved Smith, continues the article:  "Renaissance"] While Symonds' article on the Renaissance, originally contributed to the 9th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica remains the classical exposition of a certain view of the subject, more recent research has brought out other aspects of the matter.  It is noteworthy, however, that in some important points the very latest investigators have returned to Symonds' conception of the Renaissance, from which historians of the generation immediately following him had departed.


            Our continually growing knowledge of the middle ages has thrown the Renaissance into a very different perspective from that in which it was once viewed.  Less and less are the centuries preceding the 15th seen as the "Dark Ages" in contrast to the sudden sunrise of modern times.  Indeed, many scholars now speak of a Carolingian Renaissance in the 8th century, an Ottonian Renaissance in the 10th, and of the  Renaissance of the 12th century, in order to emphasize the constant stream of light and progress through out the millennium once regarded as a long night of gloom and decadence.  On the other hand, many scholars have emphasized even more than did Symonds  the extreme gradualness of the efflorescence of the Italian Renaissance and the long persistence in it of mediaeval and Germanic elements.  The extreme position is taken by Mr. Henry O. Taylor, who is so impressed by the slowness of the transition from mediaeval to modern times that he would abolish the term "Renaissance" altogether.  This proposal, however, has commended itself to few other scholars;


there was a re-birth of the human mind in the 15th century, though it was not so sudden and decisive as once thought.






            In another way our view of the Renaissance has been greatly modified by the economic historians who have stressed the material antecedents of the great political and intellectual movements of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.  Symonds, like nearly all his contemporaries, wrote almost as if the change in the mental habit of the race were a first cause, unexplained by any alteration in social conditions.  But it is now generally accepted that the intellectual change was but the natural result of material conditions altered by the growth of wealth, of commerce, and of city communities.  The humanists and artists were dwellers in the cities and in the marts of trade; their patrons were largely found in the newly powerful bourgeoisie of the Italian and German cities.  Of course the Renaissance had its intellectual as well as its material antecedents; it was produced by the happy creation in the commercial revolution of a wealthy and leisured class just at a time when discoveries and inventions were thrilling the mind of Western Europe with interest and curiosity.  It was no accident that individualism, humanism, and Italian painting attained their majority in the age which saw the invention of printing and the great geographical discoveries of Diaz, of Vasco da Gama, and of Columbus.


            Of all the positions taken by Symonds that most subject to attack has been his assertion of the close connection and similar purpose of the Renaissance and Reformation.  Like most historians of the 19th century, Symonds regarded them both as liberal movements, emancipations of reason so nearly alike that the Reformation might be called "the Teutonic Renaissance."  Just as he was writing, however, Friedrich Nietzsche [1844 – 1900], basing his opinion on Janssen's Geschichte des deutschen Volkes seit dem Ausgang des Mittelalters, which represented the Reformation as a blight on German Catholic civilization, proclaimed that "the Reformation was a reaction of backward minds against the Italian Renaissance":  and this view gained ground until it was adopted by Catholic historians like Lord Acton, Protestant historians like Ernst Troeltsch, and generally by the majority of scholars.  They have pointed out that the humanists and Reformers came to blows, that


the spirit of the Renaissance was largely secular and


that of the Reformation intensely religious,


that the former was tolerant and often indifferent and skeptical and that the latter was usually intolerant, devout, and sometimes superstitious, that the humanists were aristocratic and the Reformers democratic in method, and that Puritanism proved hostile to and often destructive of the artistic and pleasure-seeking interests of the Renaissance.  In criticism of this view, however, it has been contended that the Renaissance was not, any more than the Reformation, consciously progressive; rather did both movements find their ideal in the 






past, the one in the golden age of Rome and the other in the primitive age of Christianity.  It has been further shown that the humanists did little in principle to emancipate the reason from authority [still weak in this regard?]; they were closely bound by their own authorities in the classical poets and orators, and could only attack the schoolmen [definition complex, and aspects disputed] on the basis of the ancient pagans as the Reformers attacked them ["schoolmen"] from the standpoint of the ancient Fathers.  In conclusion one may say that neither movement was a conscious appeal to reason or an intentional step forward and away from the past, but that each accomplished, undesignedly, a great work of emancipation and that each created new cultural values.


            BIBLIOGRAPHY.—The special articles on the several arts and literatures of modern Europe, and on the biographies of the great men mentioned in this essay, will give the details of necessity here omitted.  Of general works, with bibliographies, may be mentioned Jakob Burckhardt, Die Cultur der Renaissance in Italien [see 48], called by Lord Acton, "the most penetrating and subtle treatise on the history of civilization that exists in literature" (Leipzig, 1st ed. 1860; 20th ed., revised by L. Geiger, 1919; Eng. trans. by S.G.C. Middlemore, 1875); W.H. Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873); J.A. Symonds, The Renaissance in Italy (1875-88); Cambridge Modern History, vol. I, "The Renaissance" (1902); A. Tilley, The Literature of the French Renaissance (1904); J.E. Sandys, Harvard Lectures on the Revival of Learning (1905) and a History of Classical Scholarship, vol. ii. (1908); W.H. Hudson, The Story of the Renaissance (1912); K. Burdach, Reformation, Renaissance, Humanismus (Berlin, 1918); H.O. Taylor, Thought and Expression in the Sixteenth Century (1920); P. Monnier, Le Quattrocento [fifteenth century]:  essai sur l'histoire littéraire due XVesiècle italien (2nd ed. 1920); F.J. Mather, History of Italian Painting in the Renaissance (1922); J. Huizinga, The Warning of the Middle Ages (1924); G. Scott, The Architecture of Humanism (2nd  ed. 1924); F.J.C. Hearnshaw, The Social and Political Ideas of some Great Thinkers of the Renaissance and Reformation (1925); and E. Troeltsch, "Renaissance und Reformation" in Historische Zeitschrift (Munich, vol. cx. pp. 519 ff).


(P.S.)  ["PRESERVED SMITH [1880 – 1941], LITT.D.

Professor of Mediaeval History, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.  Author of The Age of the Reformation; Life and Letters of Martin Luther."  [xiv]]'  [134-135].








[Note:  This is the discovery of James Patrick Holding (see 9), pursuing an unknown transposed reference number (page "217", in Wheless, which should have been 127) [see 20]]


"Fig. 2.—SECTION OF A NORMAL LUNG OF GOAT (B) The termination of a small branchiole"  [217].




_____     _____     _____



[repeating, from page 10]


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!",


I have seen in the 9th, 11th, 13th and 14th editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (and, the 10th and 12th editions, are reprints of the 9th and 11th editions (plus extra volumes)).



Note:  from approximately 1883 to 1974 ("90" years!), the Encyclopaedia Britannica contained (contains) the article "Renaissance", by John Addington Symonds, with: 


'This was tolerated with approval by men who repeated Leo X.'s witty epigram: 


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"' 


l l l l l






from:  The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 9, Micropaedia, Founded 1768, 15th Edition, Encyclopaedia Britannica, c1993 (15th Edition, c1974).



[article] 'Renaissance, literally "rebirth," the period in European civilization immediately following the Middle Ages, conventionally held to have been characterized by a surge of interest in classical learning and values. 


The Renaissance also witnessed the discovery and exploration of new continents, the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the decline of the feudal system and the growth of commerce, and the invention or application of such potentially powerful innovations as paper, printing, and mariner's compass, and gunpowder. 


To the scholars and thinkers of the day, however, it was primarily a time of the revival of classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation....'  [1019].


_____     _____     _____



See:, Article 19, pages 375-389:  Encyclopaedia Britannica. 


l l l l l






from:  History of the Christian Church, by Philip Schaff [1819 – 1893], Christianus sum.  Christiani nihil a me alienum puto, Volume VI, The Middle Ages, From Boniface VIII., 1294, to the Protestant Reformation, 1517, by David S. Schaff, D.D., Eerdmans, 1960–1968 (c1910) (1883 – 1893).



"LEO X.  1513–1521."


"The highest ecclesiastical offices were for sale, as in the reign of Alexander.  Cardinal Innocent Cibo paid 30,000 ducats or, as another report went, 40,000, for his hat, and Francesco Armellini bought his for twice that amount.2"  [493].



'The Vatican, Leo turned into a house of reveling and frivolity, the place of all others where the step and the voice of the man of God should have been heard.  The Apostle, whom he had been taught to regard as his spiritual ancestor, accomplished his mission by readiness to undergo, if necessary, martyrdom.  Leo despoiled his high office of its sacredness and prostituted it into a vehicle of his own carnal propensities.  Had he followed the advice of his princely father, man of the world though he was, Leo X. would have escaped some of the reprobation which attaches to his name.


            There is no sufficient evidence that Leo ever used the words ascribed to him,


"how profitable that fable of Christ has been to us."1 


Such blasphemy we prefer not to associate with the de' Medici.  Nevertheless, no sharper condemnation of one claiming to be Christ's vicar on earth could well be thought of than that which is carried by the words of Sarpi, the Catholic historian of the Council of Trent,2 who said, "Leo would have been a perfect pope, if he had combined with his other good qualities a moderate knowledge of religion and a greater inclination to piety, for neither of which he shewed much concern."'  [495].


            [footnote] "1 Quantum nobis nostrisque ea de Christo


fabula proSuerit, satis est omnibus saeculis notum. 


The words, said to have been spoken to Cardinal Bembo, were noted down for the first time by Bale in his Pageant of the Popes, ed. 1574 [1558, Latin (see 166)], p. 179.  Bale, bishop of Ossory, had been a Carmelite."  [495].






            'Intellectual freedom in Italy assumed the form of unrestrained indulgence of the sensual nature.  In condemning the virginity extolled by the Church, Beccadelli pronounced it a sin against nature.  Nature is good, and he urged men to break down the law by mixing with nuns.1  The hetaerae were of greater service to mankind than monastic recluses.  Illegitimacy, as has already been said, was no bar to high position in the state or the Church.  Aeneas Sylvius declared that most of the rulers in Italy had been born out of wedlock,2 and when, as pope, he arrived in Ferrara, 1459, he was met by eight princes, not a single one of them the child of legitimate marriage.  The appearance of the Gallic disease in Italy at the close of the 15th century may have made men cautious; the rumor went that Julius II., who did not cross his legs at public service on a certain festival, was one of its victims.3  Aretino wrote that the times were so debauched that cousins and kinsfolk of both sexes, brothers and sisters, mingled together without number and without a shadow of conscientious scruple.4


            What else could be expected than the poisoning of all grades of society when, at the central court of Christendom, the fountain was so corrupt.  The revels in the Vatican under Alexander VI. and the levity of the court of Leo X. furnished a spectacle which the most virtuous principles could scarcely be expected to resist.  Did not a harlequin monk on one occasion furnish the mirth at Leo's table by his extraordinary voracity in swallowing a pigeon whole, and consuming forty eggs and twenty capons in succession!  Innocent VIII.'s son was married to a daughter of the house of the Medici, and Alexander's son was married into the royal family of France and his daughter, Lucrezia into the scarcely less proud family of Este.  Sixtus IV. taxed and thereby legalized houses of prostitution for the increase of the revenues of the curia.  The 6,800 public prostitutes in Rome in 1490, if we accept Infesura's figures, were an enormous number in proportion to the population.  This Roman diarist says that scarcely a priest was to be found in Rome who did not keep a concubine "for the glory of God and the Christian religion."  All parts of Italy and Spain contributed to the number of courtesans.  They lived in greater splendor in Rome than the hetaerae in Athens, and bore classical names, such as Diana, Lucrezia, Camilla, Giulia, Costanza, Imperia, Beatrice.  They were accompanied on their promenades and walks to church by poets, counts and prelates, but usually concluded their gilded misery in hospitals [?] after their beauty had faded away [classic Christian moralizing (disparaging)].1


            The almost nameless vice of the ancient world also found its way into Italy, and Humanists and sons of popes like the son of Paul III., Pierluigi Farnese, if not popes themselves, were charged with pederasty.  In his 7th satire, Ariosto, d. 1533, went so far as to say it was the vice of almost all the Humanists.  For being addicted to it, a Venetian ambassador lost his position,






and the charge was brought against the Venetian annalist [historian], Sanuto.  Politian, Valla and Aretino and the academicians of Rome had the same accusation laid at their door.  The worst cannot be told, so abhorrent to the prime instincts of humanity do the crimes against morality seem.  No wonder that Symonds speaks of "an enervation of Italian society in worse than heathen vices."2


            To licentiousness were added luxury, gaming, the vendetta or the law of blood-revenge, and murder paid for by third parties.  Life was cheap where revenge, a licentious end or the gain of power was a motive.  Cardinals added benefice to benefice in order to secure the means of gratifying their luxurious tastes.1  In the middle of the16th century, Italy, says Burckhardt [see 48], was in a moral crisis, out of which the best men saw no escape.  In the opinion of Symonds [see 53], who has written seven volumes on the Renaissance, it is "almost impossible to overestimate the moral corruption of Rome at the beginning of the 16th century.["]  And Gregorovius [Ferdinand Gregorovius 1821 – 1891] adds that "the richest intellectual life blossomed in a swamp of vices."2'  [613-615].



"The famous tract, the Beggars' Petition, written on the eve of the British Reformation, accused the clergy of having no other serious occupation than the destruction of the peace of family life and the corruption of women.4"  [669].


            [footnote] '4 Froude [see 367] puts the composition of this tract in 1528. 


The 16th complaint runs:  "Who is she that will set her hands to work to get 3 pence a day and may have at least 20 pence a day to sleep an hour with a friar, a monk or a priest.  Who is she that would labor for a groat a day and may have at least 12 pence a day to be a bawd to a priest, monk or friar?"'  [669-670].


l l l l l






5.  Reference to (from James Patrick Holding):


"And speaking of Wheless—in doing my trace on this quote, I found that he is actually one of the earliest persons who made use of this quote for skeptical purposes; the other earliest person was Robert Taylor—author from the 19th century of his own ridiculous works, including one claiming that the entire Bible was written by Egyptian monks in 250 BC [Diegesis, 429], and he uses a slightly different version of the quote.  In the process of research I scoured the web for any pages that were using this quote, to see if anyone could give me a source earlier than Taylor…."


Comment (LS):  the above underlined comment, by James Patrick Holding, is erroneous; an attempt to dismiss the phenomenon—Robert Taylor.  See below. 


_____     _____     _____



from:  The Diegesis ["statement of the case" (O.E.D.)]; Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity, Never Yet Before or Elsewhere so Fully and Faithfully set forth.  By the Rev. Robert Taylor [1784 – 1844],  A.B.  & M.R.C.S. London:  Richard Carlile [1790 – 1843], 62, Fleet Street; John Brooks, 421 Oxford Street.  1829.  [one of my treasures].





            A.D. 40.  Philo Judaeus, a native of Alexandria, of a priest's family, and brother to the alabarch, or chief Jewish magistrate in that city.  See the large use of his testimony by Eusebius, given in this DIEGESIS.


            A.D. 67.  T. Flavius Josephus, the well known historian, or rather mythographist of the Jewish wars.


            [apparently, an excursus] The version or first translation of the Jewish scriptures into Greek, made by 70 or 72 translators called in proof, the Septuagint is properly the Alexandrian version, as having been made at Alexandria in Egypt, about 250 years B.C.  


Not only the Old Testament, but the New, was entirely concocted and got up by these Egyptian monks, who from their far famed university of Alexandria, dealt out at their pleasure, the credenda that have since regulated the faith, and subjugated the reason of mankind. 






In a word, we owe every iota of the Christian religion to the Egyptian monks, and the facilities afforded for overbearing the resistance of reason and common sense, by the collecting and bringing together of all the powers of imposture into the first of these mischievous and wicked cabals, those chartered phalanxes of confederated knaves, which have since been called universities.  [apparently, end of excursus]


            A.D. 128.  Aquila of Pontus, a Gentile convert to the Christian faith, lapsed into Judaism, and translated the Old Testament...."  [429].



[footnote (not referenced above)] '*In the year 1444, Caxton published the first book ever printed in England.  In 1474, the then Bishop of London, in a convocation of his clergy, said, "If we do not destroy this dangerous invention, it will one day destroy us."  The reader should compare


Pope Leo the Tenth's avowal, that "it was well known how


profitable this fable of Christ has been to us: " 


with Mr. Beard's Apology for it, in his third letter to the Rev. Robert Taylor, page 74, and Archdeacon Paley's declaration, that "he could not afford to have a conscience."—See Life of the Author attached to his work on the Evidences of Christianity, p. 11 London 12mo. edit. 1826.'  [35].





Dr. Lardner's Plan of the Times and Places of writing the Four


Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

(Supplement to The Credibility, &c. vol. i. p. iv.)


St. Matthew's Judea, or near it. About 64
St. Mark's Rome. 64
St. Luke's Greece. 63 or 64
St. John's Ephesus. 68
The Acts of the Apostles Greece. 63 or 64"  [113].





"A Table of St. Paul's Epistles in the Order of Time; with the Places where, and the Times when, they were written." 

[dates vary from 52 – 63 A.D.] [113].



"A Table of the Seven Catholic Epistles, and the Revelation, with the Places where, and the Times when, they were written."

[dates vary from 62 – 96 A.D.] [113].



            "Thus, after Europe and all Christian communities have been for so many ages led to believe that in the four gospels they possessed the best translations that could be derived, in their several languages, from the original inspired text of immediate disciples and contemporaries of Christ; it is at length admitted, that mankind have been and are egregiously deceived. 


1.  It is admitted, that these gospels were not written by the persons to whom they are ascribed;


2.  That Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were only translators or copyists of previously existing documents;


3.  Composed by we know not whom;


4.   We know not how;


5.  We know not where;


6.  WE KNOW NOT WHEN; [probably, after 180 B.C.E. (see, Article #25, 550)]


7.  And containing we know not what.  The very first assertion in the title-page of our New Testament, in stating that it is translated from the original Greek, involves a fallacy; since it is absolutely certain that the Greek, from which our translations were made, was well nigh as far from being original, as the translations themselves, and it is absolutely uncertain what the original was."  [137].






Comment (LS):  note found inside this (my) 1829 book (The Diegesis):  old (hand made?) paper:  10.9 x 7.5 centimeters; pencil, quite legible writing:



'"The Hebrew who believes in Moses can show no other ground for his faith than a number of books which tell of Moses, his genealogy, his acts, his laws, his character, & his death.  Yet when an independent inquirer subjects these books, & the accounts which they contain, to a rigid examination, he finds evidence that the writings are fabrications of a period at least a full thousand years after the era of their supposed epoch—probably more; and that all collateral testimony & internal evidence drawn from the books themselves disprove the actual existence of Moses" 


"To the scholar, the Hebrew lawgiver [Moses] is as apocrYphal or fictitious a being as Hercules["]'


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from:  History of The Christian Church, by Philip Schaff [1819 – 1893], Volume VII, Modern Christianity, The German Reformation, Eerdmans, 1960–1968 (c1910) (1883–1893).



"This volume constitutes the first part of


by Philip Schaff


It is included as Volume VII in the 8-volume




Volume VIII in this series, on the Swiss

Reformation, completes the 2-volume unit

on The History of the Reformation"



"ERASMUS [see 338–508, passim]."  [399]


            'In his will, dated Feb. 12, 1536, he [Erasmus c. 1466 – 1536] left his valuables to Froben, Rhenanus, and other friends, and the rest to the aged and poor and for the education of young men of promise.2  The funeral was attended by distinguished men of both parties.  He [Erasmus] lies buried in the Protestant cathedral of Basel, where his memory is cherished.


            Erasmus was of small stature, but well formed.  He had a delicate constitution, an irritable temperament, fair skin, blonde hair, wrinkled forehead, blue eyes, and pleasant voice.  His face had an expression of thoughtfulness and quiet studiousness.3  In his behavior he combined dignity and grace.  "His manners and conversation," says Beatus Rhenanus, "were polished, affable, and even charming."


            He [Erasmus] talked and wrote in Latin, the universal language of scholars in mediaeval Europe.  He handled it as a living language, with ease, elegance, and effect, though not with classical correctness.  His style was Ciceronian, but modified by the ecclesiastical vocabulary of Jerome.  In his dialogue "Ciceronianus," or on the best mode of speaking (1528), he ridicules those pedantic semi-pagans, chiefly Italians, who worshiped and aped Cicero, and avoided Christian themes, or borrowed names and titles from heathen mythology.  He [Erasmus] had, however, the greatest respect for Cicero, and hoped that "he is now living peacefully in heaven." 





He [Erasmus] learned neither German nor English nor Italian, and had only an imperfect knowledge of French, and even of his native Dutch.


            He had a nervous sensibility.  The least draught made him feverish.  He could not bear the iron stoves of Germany, and required an open fireplace.  He could drink no wine but Burgundy.  He abhorred intemperance.  He could not eat fish on fast days; the mere smell of it made him sick; his heart, he said, was Catholic, but his stomach Lutheran.  He never used spectacles either by day or by candle-light, and many wondered that study had not blinded his eyes.  He walked firm and erect without a cane.  His favorite exercise was horseback-riding.1 [see footnote, 47]  He usually traveled on horseback with an attendant, and carried his necessaries, including a shirt, a linen nightcap, and a prayer-book, in a knapsack tied to the saddle.  He shrank from the mere mention of death [see, 2939-3058], and frankly confessed that he was not born to be a martyr, but would in the hour of trial be tempted to follow St. Peter.  He [Erasmus] was fond of children, and charitable to the poor.


His Theological Opinions.


            Erasmus was, like most of the German and English humanists, a sincere and enlightened believer in Christianity, and differed in this respect from the frivolous and infidel humanists of France and Italy.  When charged by Prince Albertus Pius of Capri, who was in high favor at the papal court, with turning sacred things into ridicule, he answered, "You will much more readily find scoffers at sacred things in Italy among men of your own rank, ay, and in your much-lauded Rome, than with us.  I could not endure to sit down at table with such men."  He devoted his brilliant genius and classical lore to the service of religion.  He revered the Bible as a divine revelation, and zealously promoted its study.  He anticipated Luther in the supreme estimate of the world of God as the true source of theology and piety.  Oecolampadius confessed that he learned from Erasmus "nihil in saris scripturis praeter Christum quaerendum."


            He had a sharp eye to the abuses of the Church, and endeavored to reform them in a peaceful way.  He wished to lead theology back from the unfruitful speculations and frivolous subtleties of scholasticism to Scriptural simplicity, and to promote an inward, spiritual piety.  He keenly ridiculed the foolish and frivolous discussions of the schoolmen about formalities and quiddities, and such questions as whether God could have assumed the form of a woman, or an ass, or a cucumber, or a flint-stone; whether the Virgin Mary was learned in the languages; and whether we would eat and drink after the resurrection.  He exposed the vices and follies, the ignorance and superstition, of the monks and clergy.  He did not spare even the papacy.  "I have no desire [see, 2582]," he wrote in 1523, "that the primacy of the






Roman See should be abolished, but I could wish that its discipline were such as to favor every effort to promote the religion of the gospel; for several ages past it has by its example openly taught things that are plainly averse to the doctrines of Christ."


            At the same time he lacked a deeper insight into the doctrines of sin and grace, and failed to find a positive remedy for the evils he complained of.  In using the dangerous power of ridicule and satire which he shared with Lucian, he sometimes came near the line of profanity.  Moreover, he [Erasmus] had a decidedly skeptical vein, and in the present century he would probably be a moderate Rationalist.


            With his critical faculty he saw the difficulties and differences in the human surroundings and circumstances of the Divine Scriptures.  He omitted in his Greek Testament the forgery of the three witnesses, 1 John 5:7, and only inserted it under protest in the third edition(1522), because he had rashly promised to do so if a single Greek MS. could be found to contain it.1  He doubted the genuineness of the pericope of the adulteress (John 8:1–11), though he retained it in the text.  He disputed the orthodox punctuation of Rom. 9:5.  He rejected the Pauline origin of Hebrews, and questioned the Johannean authorship of the Apocalypse.  He [Erasmus] judged Mark to be an abridgment of Matthew.  He admitted lapses of memory and errors of judgment in the Apostles.  He denied any other punishment in hell except "the perpetual anguish of mind which accompanies habitual sin."  As to the Lord's Supper, he said, when asked his opinion by the magistrate of Basel about the book of Oecolampadius and his figurative interpretation,2 that it was learned, eloquent, well written, and pious, but contrary to the general belief of the church from which it was dangerous to depart.  There is good reason to believe that he doubted transubstantiation.  He was also suspected of leaning to Arianism, because he summed up the teaching of Scripture on the Trinity in this sentence:  "The Father is very frequently called God, the Son sometimes, the Holy Spirit never;" and he adds:  "Many of the fathers who worshiped the Son with the greatest piety, yet scrupled to use the word homoousion, which is nowhere to be found in Holy Scripture."3  He moderated the doctrine of hereditary sin, and defended human freedom in his notes on Romans.  He emphasized the moral, and depreciated the doctrinal, element in Christianity.  He deemed the Apostles' Creed sufficient, and was willing to allow within this limit freedom for theological opinions.  "Reduce the number of dogmas," he advised Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz, "to a minimum; you can do it without injury to Christianity; on other points, leave every one free to believe what he pleases; then religion will take hold on life, and you can correct the abuses of which the world justly complains."






            He [Erasmus] had a high opinion of the morality and piety of the nobler heathen, such as Socrates, Cicero, and Plutarch.  "The Scriptures," he says in his Colloquies, "deserve, indeed, the highest authority; but I find also in the writings of the ancient heathen and in the poets so much that is pure, holy and divine, that I must believe that their hearts were divinely moved.  The spirit of Christ is perhaps more widely diffused than we imagine, and many will appear among the saints who are not in our catalogue."1  Then, after quoting from Cicero and Socrates, he says, "I can often hardly restrain myself from exclaiming, 'Holy Socrates, pray for us.'"


            The same liberal sentiments we find among the early Greek fathers (Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen), and in Zwingli.


            Bigoted Catholics hated and feared him [Erasmus], as much as the liberal admired and lauded him.  "He [Erasmus] laid the egg," they said, "which Luther hatched."2  They perverted his name into Errasmus because of his errors, Arasmus because he ploughed up old truths and traditions, Erasinus because he had made himself an ass by his writings.  They even called him Behemoth and Antichrist.  The Sorbonne condemned thirty-seven articles extracted from his writings in 1527. 


His [Erasmus'] books were burned in Spain, and long after his death placed on the Index in Rome.


            In his last word to his popish enemies who identified him with Luther to ruin both together, he [Erasmus] writes: 


"For the future I despise them, and I wish I had always done so; for it is no pleasure to drown the croaking of frogs.  Let them say, with their stout defiance of divine and human laws, 'We ought to obey God rather than men.'  That was well said by the Apostles, and even on their lips it is not without a certain propriety; only it is not the same God in the two cases.  The God of the Apostles was the Maker of heaven and earth:  their God is their belly.  Fare ye well."1






His Works.


            The literary labors of Erasmus may be divided into three classes:—


            I.  Works edited.  Their number proves his marvelous industry and enterprise.


            He [Erasmus] published the ancient Latin classics, Cicero, Terence, Seneca, Livy, Pliny; and the Greek classics with Latin translations, Euripides, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Plutarch, Lucian.


            He edited the principal church fathers (some for the first time from MSS.); namely, Jerome (1516–1518; ed. ii., 1526; ed. iii., a year after his death), Cyprian (1520), Athanasius (in a Latin version, 1522), Hilarius (1523), Irenaeus (Latin, 1526, ed. princeps, very defective), Ambrose (1527), Augustin (1529), Epiphanius (1529), Chrysostom on Matthew (1530), Basil (in Greek, 1532; he called him the "Christian Demosthenes"), Origen (in Latin, 1536).  He wrote the prefaces and dedications.


            He published the Annotations of Laurentius [also, Lorenzo] Valla

[c. 1406 – 1457] on the New Testament (1505 and 1526), a copy of which he had found by chance on the shelves of an old library....'  [410-415].


            [footnote (see 44)] '1In thanking Archbishop Warham of Canterbury

[c. 1450 – 1532] for the present of a horse, he thus humorously describes the animal: 


"I have received the horse, which is no beauty, but a good creature notwithstanding; for he is free from all the mortal sins, except gluttony and laziness; and he is adorned with all the virtues of a good confessor, being pious, prudent, humble, modest, sober, chaste, and quiet, and neither bites nor kicks." 


To Polydore Virgil [or Vergil, c. 1470 – 1555], who sent him money to procure a horse, he replied, "I wish you could give me any thing to cure the rider." 


("Dedisti quo Paretur equus, utinam dare possis quo REPARETUR eques." 

—Op. III. 934.)'  [411].


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from:  The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Jacob Burckhardt [1818 – 1897], translation by S.G.C. Middlemore, With Two Hundred and Forty-Three Illustrations, George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.  London, Bombay, Sydney, 1929 (1860 German).



            "But all of who thought it possible to construct a state the greatest beyond all comparison was Machiavelli [1469 – 1527].3  ….


            His [Machiavelli's] most complete programme for the construction of a new political system at Florence is set forth in the memorial to Leo X,5 composed after the death of the younger Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino  (d. 1519), to whom he [Machiavelli] had dedicated his Prince.  The State was by that time in extremities and utterly corrupt, and the remedies proposed are not always morally justifiable...."  [104].





            'Florence, the great market of fame, was in this point, as we have said, in advance of other cities.  "Sharp eyes and bad tongues" is the description given of the inhabitants.2  An easy-going contempt of everything and everybody was probably the prevailing tone of society.  Machiavelli, in the remarkable prologue to his Mandragola, refers rightly or wrongly the visible decline of moral force to the general habit of evil speaking, and threatens his detractors with the news that he can say sharp things as well as they.  Next to Florence comes the Papal Court, which had long been a rendezvous of the bitterest and wittiest tongues.  Poggio's Facetiae are dated from the Chamber of Lies (bugiale) of the apostolic notaries; and when we remember the number of disappointed place-hunters, of hopeless competitors and enemies of the favourites, of idle, profligate prelates there assembled, it is intelligible how Rome became the home of the savage pasquinade [see 245-274] as well as of more philosophical satire.  If we add to this the wide-spread hatred borne to the priests, and the well-known instinct of the mob to lay any horror to the charge of the great, there results an untold mass of infamy.3  Those who were able protected themselves best by contempt both of the false and true accusations, and by brilliant and joyous display.1  More sensitive natures sank into utter despair when they found themselves deeply involved in guilt, and still more deeply in slander.2  In course of time calumny became universal, and the strictest virtue was most certain of all to challenge the attacks of malice.  Of the great pulpit orator Fra Edgidio of Viterbo, whom Leo [Leo X] made a cardinal on account of his merits, and who showed himself a man of the people and a brave monk in the calamity of 1527,3 Giovio gives us to understand






that he preserved his ascetic pallor by the smoke of wet straw and other means of the same kind.  Giovio is a genuine Curial in these matters.4  He generally begins by telling his story, then adds that he does not believe it, and then hints at the end that perhaps after all there may be something in it.  But the true scapegoat of Roman scorn was the pious and moral Adrian VI [Pope 1522 – 1523 (1459 – 1523)].  A general agreement seemed to be made to take him only to the comic side.  Adrian had contemptuously referred to the Laocoön group as idola antiquorum, had shut up the entrance to the Belvedere, had left the works of Raphael unfinished, and had banished the poets and players from the Court; it was even feared that he would burn some ancient statues to lime for the new church of St Peter.  He [Adrian VI] fell out from the first with the formidable Francesco Berni, threatening to have thrown into the Tiber not, as people said,5 the statue of Pasquino, but the writers of the satires themselves....'  [168-169].



"Let us rather pause at the days of Leo X [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)], under whom the enjoyment of antiquity combined with all other pleasures to give to Roman life a unique stamp and consideration.2  The Vatican resounded with song and music, and their echoes were heard through the city as a call to joy and gladness, though Leo did not succeed thereby in banishing care and pain from his own life, and his deliberate calculation to prolong his days by cheerfulness was frustrated by an early death.3"  [193].



'Whatever influence in Europe the Italian humanists have had since 1520 depends in some way or other on the impulse which was given by Leo. 


He was the Pope who in granting permission to print the newly found Tacitus1 could say that the great writers were a rule of life and a consolation in misfortune; that helping learned men and obtaining excellent books had ever been one of his highest aims; and that he now thanked heaven that he could benefit the human race by furthering the publication of this book."  [231].



            "The fame of Sannazaro [1458 – 1530], the number of his imitators, the enthusiastic homage which was paid to him by the greatest men—by Bembo, who wrote his epitaph, and by Titian, who painted his portrait—all show how dear and necessary he was to his age.  On the threshold of the Reformation he [Sannazaro] solved for the Church the problem whether it were






possible for a poet to be a Christian as well as a classic; and both Leo and Clement were loud in their thanks for his achievements."  [262].



            'The Latin epigram finally became in those days an affair of serious importance, since a few clever lines, engraved on a monument or quoted with laughter in society, could lay the foundation of a scholar's celebrity.  This tendency showed itself early in Italy.  When it was known that Guido della Polenta wished to erect a monument at Dante's grave epitaphs poured in from all directions,2 "written by such as wished to show themselves, or to honour the dead poet, or to win the favour of Polenta."  On the tomb of the Archbishop Giovanni Visconti (d. 1354) in the cathedral at Milan we read at the foot of thirty-six hexameters:  "Master Gabrius di Zamoreis of Parma, Doctor of Laws, wrote these verses."  In course of time, chiefly under the influence of Martial, and partly of Catullus, an extensive literature of this sort was formed.  It was held the greatest of all triumphs when an epigram was mistaken for a genuine copy from some old marble,3 [see footnote, 51] or when it was so good that all Italy learned it by heart, as happened in the case of some of Bembo's.  When the Venetian Government paid Sannazaro six hundred ducats for a eulogy in three distichs4 no one thought it an act of generous prodigality.  The epigram was prized for what it was, in truth, to all the educated classes of that age—the concentrated essence of fame.  Nor, on the other hand, was any man then so powerful as to be above the reach of a satirical epigram, and even the most powerful needed, for every inscription which they set before the public eye, the aid of careful and learned scholars, lest some blunder or other should qualify it for a place in the collections of ludicrous epitaphs.5  The epigraph and the epigram were branches of the same pursuit; the reproduction of the former was based on a diligent study of ancient monuments.


            The city of epigrams and inscriptions ["epigraphs"] was, above all others, Rome.  In this state without hereditary honours each man had to look after his own immortality, and at the same time found the epigram an effective weapon against his competitors.  Pius II counts with satisfaction the distichs which his chief poet, Campanus, wrote on any event of his government which could be turned to poetical account. 


Under the following Popes satirical epigrams came into fashion, and reached, in the opposition to Alexander VI [Pope 1492 – 1503 (1431 – 1503)] and his family, the highest pitch of defiant invective. 






Sannazaro, it is true, wrote his verses in a place of comparative safety, but others in the immediate neighbourhood of the Court ventured on the most reckless attacks (p. 129).  On one occasion when eight threatening distichs were found fastened to the door of the library1 Alexander strengthened his guard by eight hundred men; we can imagine what he would have done to the poet if he had caught him.  Under Leo X Latin epigrams were like daily bread.  For complimenting or for reviling the Pope, for punishing enemies and victims, named or unnamed, for real or imaginary subjects of wit, malice, grief, or contemplation, no form was held more suitable.  On the famous group of the Virgin with Saint Anna and the Child, which Andrea Sansovino carved for S. Agostino, no fewer than a hundred and twenty persons wrote Latin verses, not so much , it is true, from devotion, as from regard for the patron who ordered the work.2  This man, Johann Goritz of Luxemburg, Papal referendary of petitions, not only held a religious service on the feast of St Anna, but gave a great literary dinner in his garden on the slopes of the Capitol.  It was then worth while to pass in review, in a long poem, De Poetis Urbanis, the whole crowd of singers who sought their fortune at the Court of Leo.  This was done by Franciscus Arsillus3—a man who needed the patronage neither of Pope nor prince, and who dared to speak his mind, even against his colleagues.  The epigram survived the pontificate of Paul III only in a few rare echoes, while the epigraph continued to flourish till the seventeenth century, when it perished finally of bombast.'  [269-270].


            [footnote (see 50)] '3 Sannazaro ridicules a man who importuned him with such forgeries:  "Sint vetera haec aliis, mi nova semper erunt."  (Ad Rufum, Opera, fol. 41a, 1535).'  [269].



"Rome, however, possessed in the unique Court of Leo X  a society to which the history of the world offers no parallel."  [381].


_____     _____     _____






from:  Judgments on History and Historians, by Jacob Burckhardt [1818 – 1897], translated by Harry Zohn, with an introduction by H.R. Trevor-Roper [1914 – 2003], Beacon Press, c1958 (1942 German) (1929 German) ("Burckhardt's lecture notes for his history courses at the University of Basel during the period from 1865 – 1885."  (xxiii)).






'....The "general crisis" of the nineteenth century seemed to him [Jacob Burckhardt] like the crisis of the Roman Empire.  Then too—and perhaps then only—the old ruling classes had lost control and the masses had broken through.  Conventional historians looked back with complacency and disdain to the Roman Empire of the third century A.D., but Burckhardt, who never despised or condescended to the past, refused to imitate them.  Recognizing the predicament, he could admire the courage of those great military usurpers who shouldered the burden under which each in turn would founder.  But who, in the end, had saved not indeed the Empire but the Greco-Roman civilization of which it was the carrier?  It was, he replied, the anchorites, the ascetics of the Christian church.  Without them the Middle Ages, the rule of the barbarians, "would have been a den of murderers."  Even so today, in "the crisis of the declining nineteenth century," said Burckhardt, "things can only be changed by ascetics, men who are independent of the enormously expensive life of the great cities."  In the new great city of Basel, Burckhardt, living sparely in two rooms above a baker's shop, became himself something of an anchorite, as he sought in the study of past history what was worthy of note to his own age and might dispel "the clouds which hang over the end of our century."'  [xvi-xvii].


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from:  Renaissance in Italy, The Age of the Despots, John Addington Symonds [1840 – 1893], Second Edition, "Vol. 1", Smith, Elder, 1898 (1880 second edition) (1875).



            "'When the Pope [Leo X, Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)] was made, he said to Giuliano [brother] (Duke of Nemours): 


Let us enjoy the Papacy since God has given it [TO] usgodiamoci il Papato, poichè Dio ce l' ha dato.'2 


[Comment:  years ago, I (LS) placed this on (because others had made much of it).  I laughed when I first saw it.  What was a brother expected to say?  "Okay brother!  I'm Pope!  On your knees and pray, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!"]


It was in this spirit that Leo administered the Holy See."  [342].



            "Francesco Guicciardini [1483 – 1540] was born in 1482.  In 1505, at the age of twenty-three, he had already so distinguished himself as a student of law

that he was appointed by the Signoria of Florence to read the Institutes in public....


Leo who had the faculty of discerning able men and making use of them, took him [Francesco Guicciardini] into favour, and three years later appointed him Governor of Reggio [1516] and Modena [1517]."  [233].



            [footnote (not referenced above)] "1The infamous stories about Sixtus [Sixtus IV.] and Alexander [Alexander VI.] may in part be fables, currently reported by the vulgar and committed to epigrams by scholars.  Still the fact remains that Infessura, Burchard, and the Venetian ambassadors relate of these two Popes such traits of character and such abominable actions as render the worst calumnies probable.  Infessura [Stefano Infessura c. 1435 – c. 1500], though he expressed horror for the crimes of Sixtus, was yet a dry chronicler of daily events, many of which passed beneath his own eyes.  Burchard [Johann Burchard c. 1450 – 1506] was a frigid diarist of Court ceremonies, who reported the rapes, murders, and profligacies of Alexander with phlegmatic gravity.  The evidence of these men, neither of whom indulges in satire strictly so called, is more valuable than that of Tacitus or Suetonius to the vices of the Roman emperors.  The despatches of the Venetian ambassadors,






again, are trustworthy, seeing they were always written with political intention and not for the sake of gossip [?]."  [304-305].


_____     _____     _____



from:  Renaissance in Italy, The Revival of Learning, John Addington Symonds [1840 – 1893], Second Edition, "Vol. 2", Smith, Elder, 1898 (1880 second edition) (1875).



            "As patriotism gave way to cosmopolitan enthusiasm, and toleration took the place of earnestness, in like manner the conflict of mediaeval tradition with revived Paganism in the minds of these self-reliant men, trained to indulgence by their large commerce with the world, and familiarized with impiety by the ever-present pageant of an anti-Christian Church, led, as I have hinted, to recklessness and worldly vices, rather than to reformed religion.  Contented with themselves and their surroundings, they felt none of the unsatisfied cravings after the infinite, none of the mysterious intuitions and ascetic raptures, the self-abasements and transfigurations, stigmata and beatific visions, of the Middle Ages.  The plenitude of life within them seemed to justify their instincts and their impulses, however varied and discordant these might be.  The sonorous current of the world around them drowned the voice of conscience, the suggestion of religious scruples.  It is only thus we can explain to ourselves the attitude of such men as Sixtus [Sixtus IV.] and Alexander [Alexander VI.], serenely vicious in extreme old age.  The gratification of their egotism was so complete as to exclude self-judgment by the rules and standards they professionally applied; their personality was too exacting to admit of hesitation when their instincts were concerned; in common with their age they had lost sight of all but mundane aims and interests. 


Three aphorisms, severally attributed to three representative Italians, may be quoted in illustration of these remarks. 



'You follow infinite objects; I follow the finite;' said Cosimo de' Medici [1389 – 1464]; 'you place your ladders in the heavens; I on earth, that I may not seek so high or fall so low.' 



'If we are not ourselves pious,' said Julius II. [Pope 1503 – 1513 (1443 – 1513)], 'why should we prevent other people from being so?' 






'Let us enjoy the Papacy,' said Leo X. [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)], 'now that God has given it to us.'"  [12-13].



            "Classical style being the requirement of the age, it followed that everything was sacrificed to this. 


In christening their children the great families abandoned the saints of the calendar and chose names from mythology. 


Ettorre, Achille, Atalanta, Pentesilea, Lucrezia, Porzia, Alessandro, Annibale, Laomedonte, Fedro, Ippolito, and many other antique titles became fashionable.  Those who were able to do so turned their baptismal names into Latin or Greek equivalents.  Janus or Jovianus passed for Giovanni, Pierius for Pietro, Aonius for Antonio, Lucius Grassus for Luca Grasso; the German prelate John Goritz was known as Corycius,1 and the Roman professor Gianpaolo Parisio as Janus Parrhasius.  Writers who undertook to treat of modern or religious themes, were driven by their zeal for purism to the strangest expedients of


            1Namque sub Cebaliae memini me turribus altis

            Qua niger humectat flaventia culta Galesus

            Corycium vidisse senem.—Virg. Georg. lib. iv. 125.


language.  God, in the Latin of the sixteenth century, is Jupiter Optimus Maximus; Providence becomes Fatum; the saints are Divi, and their statues simulacra sancta Deorum.  Our Lady of Loreto is changed into Dea Lauretana, Peter and Paul into Dii tutelares Romae, the souls of the just into Manes pii, and the Pope's excommunication into Divae.  The Holy Father himself takes the style of Pontifex Maximus; his tiara, by a wild confusion of ideas, is described as infula Romulea.  Nuns are Vestals, and the cardinals Augurs.  For the festivals of the Church periphrases were found, whereof the following may be cited as a fair specimen:1  'Verum accidit ut eo ipso die, quo domum ejus accesseram, ipse piae rei caussâ septem sacrosancta Divûm pulvinaria supplicaturus inviserit; errant enim lustrici dies, quos unoquoque anno quadragenos purificatione consecravit nostra pietas.' 


            It need hardly be added that, when the obligations of Latinity had reached this point,


to read Cicero [106 – 43 B.C.E.] was of far more importance than to study the Fathers of the Church. 






Bembo [Pietro Bembo 1470 – 1547], it is well known, advised Sadoleto [jacopo sadoleto 1477 – 1547] to 'avoid the Epistles of S. Paul [Sadoleto wrote on S. Paul (see 125)],


lest his barbarous["spin" translation (see below:  "ineptiae")] style should spoil your taste:  Omitte has nugas, non enim decent gravem virum tales ineptiae ["ineptiae":  "sillinesses, fooleries, trifles, absurdities" (A Latin Dictionary, 1962 (1879)).  "instances of folly (in behaviour, word, thought, etc."), absurdities, frivolities, etc."  (Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1968)].' 


The extent, however, to which formal purism in Latinity was carried, may be best observed in the 'Christiad' of Vida [Marco Girolamo Vida 1485? – 1566], and the poem 'De Partu Virginis' of Sannazzaro [Jacopo Sannazaro 1458 – 1530].2  Sannazzaro not only invokes the muses of Helicon to sing the birth of Christ, but he also makes Proteus prophesy his advent to the river-god of Jordan.  The archangel discovers Mary—described by the poet as spes fida Deorum—intent on reading nothing less humanistic than the Sibyls; and after she has received his message, the spirits of the patriarchs are said to shout because they will escape from Tartarus and Acheron and the hideous baying of the triple-throated hound."  [287-289].



"The reign of Leo was about to shed new luster on the Medicean exiles.  His victorious exclamation to his brother [Giuliano]


'Godiamoci il Papato poichè Dio ce l' ha dato,' [Let us enjoy the Papacy since God has given it to us]


had a ring of promise in it for their numerous friends and clients.  Even with the recommendation of Giuliano,


it is not likely that Leo would have overlooked a man so wholly after his own heart as Bembo. 


The qualities he most admired—smooth manners, a handsome person, wit in conversation, and thorough mastery of Latin style, without pretension to deep learning or much earnestness of purpose—were incarnate in the courtly Venetian.  Bembo was precisely the man to make Leo's life agreeable by flattering his superficial tastes and subordinating the faculties of a highly cultivated mind to frivolous, if intellectual, amusements.  The churchman who warned Sadoleto against spoiling his style by study of the Bible, the prosaist who passed his compositions through sixteen portfolios, revising them at each remove, the versifier [Bembo] who penned a hymn to S. Stephen and a






monologue for Priapus with equal elegance, was cast in the same mould as the pleasure-loving Pontiff.  For eight years he lived at Rome, honoured by the Medici and loved by all who knew him.  His [Bembo] duties as secretary to Leo, shared by his old friend and fellow-student Sadoleto, were not onerous; while the society of the capital afforded opportunity for the display of his most brilliant gifts.  In 1520, wearied by nearly thirty years of continual Court life, and broken down in health by severe sickness, Bembo retired to Padua.  The collection of a library and museum, horticulture, correspondence, and the cultivation of his studied Ciceronian style now occupied his leisure through nineteen most disastrous years for Italy.  The learned courtiers of that age liked thus to play the Roman in their villas, quoting Horace and Virgil on the charms of rustic life, and fancying they caught the spirit of Cincinnatus while they strolled about the farm.  Bembo's Paduan retreat became the rendezvous of all the ablest men in Italy, the centre of a fluctuating society of highest culture.  Paul III. recalled him to Rome, and made him cardinal in 1539."  [298-299].



"SANNAZZARO'S [Jacopo Sannazaro 1458 – 1530] EPIGRAMS."


             "Sannazzaro's own elegies on the joys of love and country life, the descriptions of his boyhood at Salerno, the praises of his Villa Mergillina, and his mediations among the ruins of Cumae, are marked by the same characteristics.  Nothing quite so full of sensual enjoyment, so soft, and so voluptuous can be found in the poems of the Florentine and Roman scholars.  They deserve study, if only as illustrating the luxurious tone of literature at Naples.  It was not by these lighter effusions, however, that Sannazzaro won his fame.  The epic on the birth of Christ cost him twenty years of labour; and when it was finished, the learned world of Italy welcomed it as a model of correct and polished writing.  At the same time the critics seem to have felt, what cannot fail to strike a modern reader, that the difficulties of treating such a theme in the Virgilian manner, and the patience of the stylist, had rendered it a masterpiece of ingenuity rather than a work of genius.1 


Sannazzaro's epigrams, composed in the spirit of bitterest hostility towards the Borgia family, were not less famous than his epic [De partu virginis]. 


Alfonso of Aragon took the poet with him during his campaign against the Papal force in the Abruzzi; and these satires, hastily written in the tent and by the camp-fire, formed the amusement of his officers. 






From the soldiers of Alfonso they speedily passed, on the lips of courtiers and scholars, through all the cities of Italy; nor is it easy to say how much of Lucrezia Borgia's legend may not be traceable to their brief but envenomed couplets.


What had been the scandal of the camp acquired consistency in lines too pungent to be forgotten and too witty to remain unquoted.1  [see footnote, 59]


As a specimen of Sannazzaro's style, the epigram on Venice may here be cited:—


                        Viderat Hadriacis Venetam Neptunus in undis

                                    Stare urbem, et toto ponere jura mari:

                        Nune mihi Tarpeias quantumvis, Jupiter, arces

                                    Objice, et illa tui moenia Martis, ait:

                        Si Pelago Tybrim praefers, urbem aspice utramque;

                                    Illam hominess dices, hanc posuisse deos.2 


[see footnote (translation), 59]


            I have already touched upon the Virgilianism of Sannazzaro's 'Partus Virginis.'3 [see footnote, 59]  What the cold churches of Palladio are to Christian architecture, this frigid epic is to Christian poetry.  Leo X. delighted to recognize the Gospel narrative beneath a fancy dress of mythological inventions, and to witness the triumph of classical scholarship in the holy places of the mediaeval faith.  To fuse the traditions of Biblical and secular antiquity was, as I have often said, the dream of the Renaissance.  What Pico and Ficino attempted in philosophical treatises, the poets sought to effect by form.  Religion, attiring herself in classic drapery, threw off the cobwebs of the Catacombs, and acquired the right of petites entrées at the Vatican.  It did not signify that she had sacrificed her majesty to fashion, or that her tunic à la mode antique was badly made.  Her rouge and spangles enchanted the scholarly Pontiff, who forthwith ordered Vida to compose the 'Christiad,' and gave him a benefice at Frascati in order that he might enjoy a poet's ease.  Vida's epic, like Sannazzaro's, was not finished during the lifetime of Leo.  Both the 'Christiad' and the 'Partus Virginis' reflected lustre on the age of Clement [Clement VII]."  [341-343].






            [footnotes] '1 See Delitia Poetarum Italorum, second part, pp. 713–761.  The following couplet on the death of Cesare Borgia is celebrated:—


                        Aut nihil aut Caesar vult dici Borgia; quidni?

                        Cum simul et Caesar possit et esse nihil.


            2 'When Neptune beheld Venice stationed in the Adriatic waters, and giving laws to all the ocean, "Now taunt me, Jupiter, with the Tarpeian rock and those walls of thy son Mars!" he cried.  "If thou preferrest Tiber to the sea, look on both cities; thou wilt say the one was built by men, the other by gods."'


            3 See above, p. 288.'  [342].


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from:  Bibliography of the Writings of John Addington Symonds [1840 – 1893], by Percy L. Babington, Bibliography and Reference Series #174, Burt Franklin, 1968 (1925).



Note:  this entry displays the contributions of John Addington Symonds, to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth Edition, 1879—1888.






Ninth Edition




[note:  bibliography numbers (383-396), not included]


Ficino, Marsilio

Vol. IX., 1879, pp. 138—140.


Filelfo, Francesco.

Vol. IX., 1879, pp. 161, 162.


Guarini, Giovanni Battista.

Vol. XI., 1880, pp. 236—238.


Guicciardini, Francesco.

Vol. XI., 1880, pp. 255—257.


Italy.  Part II.—History.

Vol. XIII., 1881, pp. 467—491.


Machiavelli, Niccolò.

Vol. XV., 1883, pp. 146—152.



Vol. XV., 1883, pp. 512—514.



Vol. XVI., 1883, pp. 103—105.







Vol. XVIII., 1885, pp. 706—711.



Vol. XIX., 1885, pp. 274, 275.



Vol. XIX., 1885, pp. 345, 346.


Pontanus, Jovianus.

Vol. XIX., 1885, p. 454.





Vol. XX., 1886, pp. 380—394.


[see page 386: 


'This was tolerated with approval by men who repeated Leo X.'s witty epigram: 


"What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!"']



Tasso, Torquato.

Vol. XXIII., 1888, pp. 75—79.


            Note:  These contributions are signed with initials."  [182-184].


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from:  A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. II [of three volumes], From the Revival of Learning to the End of the Eighteenth Century (In Italy, France, England, and the Netherlands), [Sir] John Edwin Sandys [1844 – 1922], Hafner, 1967 (1958) (1903).






            The age of Aldus Manutius [1449 – 1515] was succeeded by the pontificate of Leo X (1513–21).  Under the care of Lorenzo the future


Pope [leo x] had learnt his Latin and his Greek from the best scholars of Florence. 


When he made his progress as Pope in the splendid procession from St Peter's to the Lateran, the streets of Rome were adorned with marble statues of the old pagan divinities, while a triumphal arch in front of the palace of the wealthy banker, Agostino Chigi, bore an inscription in golden letters recalling the times of Alexander VI and Julius II, and declaring that the reign of Venus and of Mars was over, and that of Minerva had begun:—


                                    'olim habuit Cypris sua tempora, tempora Mavors

                        olim habuit, sua nunc tempora Pallas habet'1."  ["107"]. 



"Girolamo Fracastoro (1483–1553).  Devoted to the study of music and astronomy, he was famous as a physician and a poet.  The theme of the most important of his poems was the terrible scourge that first appeared in 1495 among the French soldiers quartered at Naples4.....The poem was dedicated to Bembo, and men of letters admired the poetic skill with which the author had handled an undoubtedly difficult topic.  Sannazaro held it superior to anything composed by himself or any of his brother-poets, while the elder Scaliger even described it as a 'divine poem'1....


            A pleasant contrast to the neo-paganism of not a few of the poets of this age is presented by Marcantonio Flaminio of Serravalle (1498–1550), who is described by the historian of Italian literature as 'a name no less dear to Virtue than to the Muses'5  In his early youth he presented to Leo X some elegant compositions in Latin verse; but he cared little for the great world of Rome."  [118-119].


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from:  The Cambridge Modern History, Planned by The Late Lord Acton [1834 – 1902] LL.D., Regius Professor of Modern History, edited by A.W. Ward Litt.D., G.W. Prothero Litt. D., Stanley Leathes M.A., Volume I, The Renaissance, Cambridge, At the University Press, 1907.



"Leo X followed with a pale imitation of the policy of Alexander VI [Pope 1492 – 1503 (1431 – 1503)], his object being the advancement of the Medici family and the preservation of the papal dominions in the fierce strife between France and Spain.  To him the papacy was a personal possession out of which the possessor was expected to make the most, religion being an entirely subordinate affair.  His conception of his duties is condensed in the burst of exultation attributed to him on his election,


Let us enjoy the papacy since God has given it to us!


            Under the circumstances the Holy See could inspire neither respect nor confidence.  Universal distrust was the rule between the States, and the papacy was merely a State whose pretensions to care for the general welfare of Christendom were recognised as diplomatic hypocrisy."  [665].


'Julius [Julius II:  Pope 1503 – 1513 (1443 – 1513)] died, February 21, 1513, and to his successor, Leo X, was transferred the management of the Council.  To him Gianfrancesco Pico [Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola 1469 – 1533] addressed a memorial recapitulating the evils to be redressed. 


The worship of God, he said, was neglected; the churches were held by pimps and catamites; the nunneries were dens of prostitution; justice was a matter of hatred or favour; piety was lost in superstition; the priesthood was bought and sold; the revenues of the Church ministered only to the vilest excesses, and the people were repelled from religion by the example of their pastors. 


The Council made at least a show of attacking these evils.  On May 3, 1514, it approved a papal decree which, if enforced, would have cured a small portion of the abuses; but all subsequent efforts were blocked by quarrels between the different classes to be reformed.  The Council sat until March, 1517, and the disappointment arising from its dissolution, without accomplishing anything of the long-desired reform, may well have contributed to the eagerness with which the Lutheran revolt was soon afterwards hailed; for thoughtful men everywhere must have been convinced that nothing short of revolution could put an end to corruption so inexpugnably established."  [678].


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from:  The Renaissance in Historical Thought, Five Centuries of Interpretation, Wallace K. Ferguson, Professor of History, New York University, Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press Cambridge, "1981" (c1948).



"To the Memory of


PRESERVED SMITH [1880 – 1941]


the teacher and friend


to whom I owe more


than I was ever able to repay"



            'Bolingbroke's [Henry St. John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke 1678 – 1751] comments on the literary renaissance would scarcely be worth noting were they not so typical of the current trend of historical interpretation.  Mentioning the "resurrection of letters" among the circumstances that had aided the success of the Reformation, he ascribed its progress to the newly discovered art of printing and its origins to the fall of Constantinople.  In Italy the newly imported learning had been encouraged by the misguided policy of the popes, who thereby destroyed their own power.


                        [Bolingbroke] The magicians themselves broke the charm by which they had bound mankind for so many ages....As soon as the means of acquiring and spreading information grew common, it is no wonder that a system was unraveled, which could not have been woven with success in any ages, but those of gross ignorance and credulous superstition.101



            One might have expected something more profound from the learned and philosophical Hume [David Hume 1711 – 1776], but his few comments on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are meager and conventional.  In a brief retrospect at the end of the chapter on the reign of Richard III,102 he summarized the decline of Roman culture, laying the original blame, in the manner of Leonardo Bruni, on the despotism of the emperors.  The decline continued until the eleventh century, at which time "the people of Christendom were the lowest sunk in ignorance, and consequently in disorders of every kind."  Thereafter "the sun of science, beginning to reascend, threw out






many gleams of light, which preceded the full morning, when letters were revived in the fifteenth century."  For this upward movement no cause is suggested save that "there is a point of depression, as well as of exaltation, from which human affairs naturally return in a contrary direction."  He returned to the revival of learning again in the chapter on Henry VII as a part of the general revolution that distinguished that age.103  Here he ascribed the recovery of Greek learning directly to the flight of the refugees from Constantinople in 1453, and added that "about the same time, the purity of the Latin tongue was revived, the study of antiquity became fashionable, and the esteem for literature gradually propagated itself throughout every nation of Europe."  In this instance the only cause suggested is the catastrophic event.  Later he [Hume] suggested that


familiarity with ancient literature made Leo X aware of


"the ridicule and falsity of the doctrines, which, as supreme


pontiff, he was obliged by his interest to promote,"104


and finally he [Hume] completed the Protestant-rationalist picture by including the revival of learning, with printing, among the reasons for the success of the Reformation.105'  [102-103].


[footnotes] "101 Bolingbroke, Works, II, 345 f.


102 Hume, History of England, II, 366 f."  [102].


"105 Ibid., [History of England,] II, 506."  [103].


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from:  Mysteriously Meant, The Rediscovery of Pagan Symbolism and Allegorical Interpretation in the Renaissance, Don Cameron Allen [1903 –1972], Johns Hopkins, c1970.








            In a letter written to Magnus, Jerome [c. 342 – 420] reports his discovery of lines borrowed from Epimenides, Menander, and Aratus in the epistles of St. Paul...."  [21].












            About four years before Milton died Benedict Spinoza [1632 – 1677] looked with a cold eye on the myths of the Hebrews but accepted them as "extremely necessary...for the masses whose wits are not potent enough to perceive things clearly and distinctly."58  The apologists for the mythology of Greece and Rome had been saying virtually the same thing, but with a different emphasis, for centuries.  Without speaking too loudly, Spinoza was implying that mythologies belonged to the primitive stage of any religion and that anyone in his generation who clung to mythology was as primitive as those peoples with whom it originated.  Bossuet, who subscribed to a kind of naïve seventeenth-century euhemerism which enabled him to intercalate, as others had before him, the heroes of the mythology with those of the Old Testament, informs the Dauphin that the allegorization of myth into natural processes indicated the collapse of paganism;59 nonetheless, Bossuet [Jacques Bénigne Bossuet 1627 – 1704] is disturbed by Huet's researches for fear that others will agree with those who have already suggested that "all religion is in pagan books and Christianity has naught to teach men."60  Bossuet in his way, just as Milton in his, was attempting to fend off what must have been the distressing possibility that religion, just like the Augustinian history of a people, had an infancy, a virile age, and a death [see 320-321]. 






Two French rationalists, the Protestant atheist Bayle [Pierre Bayle 1647 – 1706] and the Catholic atheist Fontenelle [1657 – 1757], were pushing the minds of men in this new direction.


            In impressively written popular pieces, the De l' origine des fables and the Digression sur les anciens et les modernes, Corneille's clever nephew and biographer Fontenelle revealed that all primitive peoples, be they Lapps, Iroquois, or Greeks, had a similar psychology of religious experience.  Confronted and baffled by the phenomena of nature, they only knew that they could not understand it and that it did not depend on them.  Since primitive minds were too undeveloped to grasp even the more modest laws of causality, they assumed the existence of superior and invisible beings responsible for all natural phenomena and all human experience.  In the early stages of a religion these beings, like Homer's are likely to be crude and brutish; however, as a primitive people became more civilized, their gods improved.61  Fontenelle found it curious that myths continued to be popular long after they lost their pious significance.  When he [Fontenelle] thought of his own country as fourth-century Greece or imperial Rome, he was helped to an explanation.   Myths were pleasant to hear and to tell; moreover, priests, mindful of their professional interests, succeeded in explaining myths with the same sort of irrationality that had kept the myth alive.  The doubts cast upon ancient religion and its mythology found a place, of course, in the contemporary discussion of the virtues of the ancients and the moderns; but Fontenelle's witty and popular style brought all of this new cynicism to the attention of the average reader, who had no stomach for the scholarship of a Van Dale or the philosophical subtlety of a Spinoza.  But Bayle helped too....' 







            [footnotes] "58 Spinoza, Tractatus theologico-politicus, ed. C.H. Bruder (Leipzig, 1846), III, 83.


            59 Bossuet, Oeuvres (Paris, 1847), I, 245; later (pp. 278–79) he argues that the Greeks praised Homer because he taught men to live well and celebrated them as superior to the Asiatic barbarians; hence, the divinities supporting the Greeks are the equivalents of virtue, whereas those backing the Trojans are vicious.


            60 Bossuet, Correspondence (Paris, 1912), IV, 335–37."  [301].


            [footnote] '61 Fontenelle, Oeuvres III, 270–96.  It is rather interesting that the germ of Hume's notion of primitive religious psychology as expressed in the Natural History of Religion is here.  As late as 1758, Hume argued that "allegory really has a place in the heathen mythology" because anyone can see the myths themselves stand on allegory; but one should not expect perfect allegory from ignorant superstition, "there being no work of genius that requires a nicer hand, or has been more rarely executed with success":  Essays (London, 1788), II, 381–83.  Voltaire (Oeuvres XXXIII, 167) agrees that the classical allegorists were men of genius, far superior to those of his day and were the instructors of the Fathers; he could, and probably does, have his tongue in his cheek.'  [302].


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from:, pages 85, 42, 55:



from:  The Life of Jesus, Maurice Goguel [1880 – 1955], Barnes & Noble, 1958 (1933 English) (1932 Paris), 61-62:


            'It was not until the eighteenth century that the idea that possibly Jesus never existed at all made a timid appearance with "some disciples of Bolingbroke [1678 – 1751], more ingenious than learned," who, according to Voltaire (who, however, brushes aside their view very decidedly), held that the obscurities and contradictions in the Gospel tradition gave them the right to deny the existence of Jesus.1  These ideas, which the disciples of Bolingbroke did not venture to express in writing, were made public at the close of the eighteenth century by Volney [1757 – 1820] and Dupuis [1742 – 1809].2  For these writers Jesus was neither a man nor a god; they claimed that he really represented a solar deity like the divinities which men have worshipped down the ages....The first author of the nineteenth century to pronounce definitely against the actual existence of Jesus was Bruno Bauer [1809 – 1882].' 


[Goguel does not mention Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809].


[(12/29/97) Goguel does not mention Robert Taylor 1784 – 1844].



199.      "Thomas Paine [1739 – 1809] did not consider his Age of Reason to be complete.  He wrote an extensive new section, but Thomas Jefferson [1743 – 1826 (President 1801 – 1809)] prevailed on him not to publish if for fear that it would supply fresh ammunition to his enemies [source?  This appears to "fit" William Duane (1802), more than Jefferson.  see Reference 199.].  In 1807, however, Paine published most of the new section in a series of pamphlets, now generally known as The Examination of the Prophecies [which includes:  The Age of Reason  Part Three]."



200.    "he ["Jesus Christ"] did not exist even as a man--that he is merely an imaginary or allegorical character, as Apollo, Hercules, Jupiter and all the deities of antiquity were." 


[c. 1802] [Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809] [see Reference 200.].






201.    "TO ELIHU PALMER311,

Paris, February 21, 1802, since the Fable of Christ.

Dear Friend:

....I expect to arrive in America in May next.  I have a third part of the Age of Reason to publish when I arrive, which, if I mistake not, will make a stronger impression than anything I have yet published on the subject....

Yours in friendship,

THOMAS PAINE."  [see Reference 201.].



202.    ["The New Testament"] "as false, paltry, and absurd, as the Old....the story of Christ is of human invention and not divine origin". 


[c. 1802] [Thomas Paine 1737 – 1809].



203.    "St. Peter, is a purely imaginary being; that, like his master, Jesus Christ, he never had any real existence:  but is of that order of romantic and ideal personifications which weak and disordered minds naturally fall into".


[Robert Taylor 1784 – 1844] [Originally published in weekly numbers, by Richard Carlile (Paine's publisher) 18291830].



274.    "A point not made in The Age of Reason occurs in a letter written by Paine in 1806 to Andrew Dean, who had rented part of Paine's farm at New Rochelle.  After referring to the Bible as 'a book of lies and contradictions' he allows that 'the fable of Christ and his twelve apostles' is the least hurtful part."


_____     _____     _____






from:, pages 848-853:



from:  Francesco Guicciardini [1483 – 1540], Maxims and Reflections of a Renaissance Statesman (Ricordi), translated by Mario Domandi, Introduction by Nicolai Rubinstein, Harper & Row, 1965 (1857) (1530) (1528) (1512).



"In the history of Renaissance thought, Guicciardini's Ricordi occupy a place of singular importance.  Few works of the sixteenth century allow us so penetrating an insight into the views and sentiments of its author as these reflexions of the great Italian historian, written down over a period of eighteen years."  [7].



"In 1516, Leo X [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)] made him [Guicciardini] governor of Modena, and in 1517, of Reggio.  It was the beginning of a long and distinguishing career in the Papal administration, first under Leo X, and then under the second Medici Pope, Clement VII [Pope 1523 – 1534 (1478 – 1534)]."  [8]. 


[Note:  Leo X was Pope, when Martin Luther [1483 – 1546] reacted (95 theses, 1517)].



            'The development of Guicciardini's views on Italy coincides largely with the time of his friendship with Machiavelli [Niccolò Machiavelli 1469 – 1527] [see 1635; 2136-2137].  The two men shared the same views on a number of subjects; yet this went hand in hand with fundamental disagreements.  Their intellectual relationship was of the nature of a long debate between equals, rather than of one-sided or mutual influence; while Guicciardini accepted some of the ideas which Machiavelli had put forward in his political works, The Prince and the Discourses, he strongly rejected others.  Dating back to Machiavelli's brief visit, in 1521, to Modena, where Guicciardini was Papal governor, the friendship between the two men became closest in the last years of Machiavelli's life...."Io amo messer Francesco Guicciardini, amo la patria mia più dell' anima," writes Machiavelli a few weeks before his death in 1527:17  "I love Francesco Guicciardini and I love my fatherland more than my own soul."'  [18-19].






"28.  I know of no one who loathes the ambition, the avarice, and the sensuality of the clergy more than I—both because each of these vices is hateful in itself and because each and all are hardly suited to those who profess to live a life dependent upon God.  Furthermore, they are such contradictory vices that they cannot coexist in a subject unless he be very unusual indeed.


            In spite of all this, the positions I [francesco guicciardini] have held under several popes have forced me, for my own good, to further their interests.  Were it not for that, I should have loved Martin Luther [1483 – 1546] as much as myself—not so that I might be free of the laws based on Christian religion as it is generally interpreted and understood; but to see this bunch of rascals get their just deserts, that is, to be either without vices or without authority."  [48]. 



"14.  I want to see three things before I die, but I doubt whether I shall see any of them, no matter how long I live.  I want to see a well-ordered republic in our city, Italy liberated from all the barbarians, and the world delivered from the tyranny of these wicked priests."  [101].



"32.  It was said truly that too much religion spoils the world, because it makes the mind effeminate, involves men in thousands of errors, and diverts them from many generous and virile enterprises.  I do not hereby wish to derogate from the Christian faith and divine worship, but rather to confirm and augment them by distinguishing what is excessive from what is sufficient, and by stimulating men's minds to consider carefully what should be taken into account and what may safely be ignored."  [104].



"95.  Considering its origin carefully, all political power is rooted in violence.  There is no legitimate power, except that of republics within their own territories but not beyond [compare:  President George W. Bush and his Imperialistic administration].  Not even the power of the emperor is an exception, for it is founded on the authority of the Romans, which was a greater usurpation than any other.  Nor do I except the priests from this rule—indeed, their violence is double, for they use both the temporal and the spiritual arms to subjugate us."  [119].






"124.  Naturally, I have always wanted to see the ruin of the Papal State [see Addition 47, 2582 (Comment)].  But as fortune would have it, I have been forced to support and work for the power of two popes.  Were it not for that, I would love Martin Luther more than myself, in the hope that his sect might demolish, or at least clip the wings, of this wicked tyranny of the priests."  [125-126].

_____     _____     _____



from:  Francesco Guicciardini [1483 – 1540], by Peter E. Bondanella, Indiana University, Twayne Publishers, 1976.



'As Guicciardini bluntly puts it, "the desire to dominate and to have superiority over others is natural in men," while the love of liberty is much less strong; anyone who has the opportunity to rule others, including those who profess themselves to be lovers of freedom, will do so without the slightest hesitation.21  [21"Opere de Francesco Guicciardini", "336"]  Consequently, he rejects as irrelevant much of the energy expended in humanist circles over the "best" or most "natural" kind of government suitable to Florence; in his view no state can exist without force.  Legitimized violence, as Guicciardini said earlier in the Discourse of Logrogno, is the essence of the state.  Men, in fact, love justice more than liberty,22 and a republic's only theoretical justification is that it may offer more justice than other forms.  If the type of tyranny practiced by the Medici succeeds in convincing the citizens that they are being treated equally, men will not hesitate to prefer that form of government without freedom over another kind of government which is closer to the republican ideal.'  [50-51].



"A Contemporary Assessment"


'....Most contemporary students of the Renaissance would agree with John R. Hale's estimation of Guicciardini's stature as "the greatest historian between Tacitus in the first century and Voltaire and Gibbon in the eighteenth and he is one of the greatest of all writers of contemporary history."45  As the author of the Ricordi, the Considerations on the 'Discourses' of Machiavelli, and numerous dialogues and treatises, Guicciardini merits increased recognition as one of the most original philosophical minds of his day....'  [138]. 


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from:  The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar, to The Abdication of James the Second, 1688, by David Hume [1711 – 1776], Esq., A New Edition, With the Author's Last Corrections and Improvements.  To which is Prefixed A Short Account of His Life, Written by Himself.  Vol. III.  Philadelphia:  J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1865 (1754 – 1762).



            "Leo X., by his generous and enterprising temper, had much exhausted his treasury, and was obliged to employ every invention which might yield money, in order to support his projects, pleasures, and liberalities.  The scheme of selling indulgences was suggested to him, as an expedient which had often served in former times to draw money from the Christian world, and make devout people willing contributors to the grandeur and riches of the court of Rome.  The church, it was supposed, was possessed of a great stock of merit, as being entitled to all the good works of all the saints, beyond what were employed in their own justification; and even to the merits of Christ himself, which were infinite and unbounded; and from this unexhausted treasury the pope might retail particular portions, and by that traffic acquire money to be employed in pious purposes, in resisting the infidels, or subduing schismatics.  When the money came into his exchequer, the greater part of it was usually diverted to other purposes.*


            It is commonly believed that Leo [X], from the penetration of his genius, and his familiarity with ancient literature, was fully acquainted with the ridicule and falsity of the doctrines which, as supreme pontiff, he was obliged by his interest to promote:  


it is the less wonder, therefore, that he [Leo X] employed for his profit those pious frauds which his predecessors, the most ignorant and credulous, had always, under plausible pretences, made use of for their selfish purposes.  He [Leo X] published the sale of a general indulgence;† and as his expenses had not only exhausted his usual revenue, but even anticipated the money expected from this extraordinary expedient, the several branches of it were openly given away to particular persons, who were entitled to levy the imposition.  The produce, particularly of Saxony and the countries bordering on the Baltic, was assigned to his [Leo X] sister Magdalene, married to Cibo, natural son of Innocent VIII.; and she, in order to enhance her profit, had farmed out the revenue to one Arcemboldi, a Genoese, once a merchant, now a bishop, who still retained all the lucrative arts of his former profession.‡ 






The Austin friars had usually been employed in Saxony to preach the indulgences, and from this trust had derived both profit and consideration:  but Arcemboldi, fearing lest practice might have taught them means to secrete the money, § and expecting no extraordinary success from the ordinary methods of collection, gave this occupation to the Dominicans ["The Hounds of Hell"]. 


These monks, in order to prove themselves worthy of the distinction conferred on them, exaggerated the benefits of indulgences by the most unbounded panegyrics; and advanced doctrines on that head, which, though not more ridiculous than those already received, were not as yet entirely familiar to the ears of the people.*  To add to the scandal, the collectors of this revenue are said to have lived very licentious lives, and to have spent in taverns, gaming-houses, and places still more infamous, the money which devout persons had saved from their usual expenses, in order to purchase a remission of their sins.†"  [130-132].


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from:  Pope Alexander VI [Pope 1492 – 1503 (1431 – 1503)] and His Court, Extracts from the Latin Diary of Johannes Burchardus [1450 – 1506], Bishop of Orta and Civita Castellana, Pontifical Master of Ceremonies, edited by Dr. F.L. Glaser.  Nicholas L. Brown, New York, MCMXXI.







February, 1500.  In former days the majordomo of the papal palace, Petrus de Aranda, Bishop of Calahorra, had been arrested as suspected of heresy [Torquemada was involved ( (based on the Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition))], and brought to the castle San Angelo, where he was imprisoned.  The governor of Rome, Cardinal Isuagli, and the Bishop of Cesena, Pietro Menzi, as deputy-auditors of the papal camera, had been charged with the investigation and procedure.  To justify himself Aranda brought up, as I was later informed, a hundred witnesses who, however, all without exception gave evidence against him. 


It was ascertained that he asserted and maintained among other things


that the Mosaic law had only one principle, while the Christian had three, Father, Son and Holy Ghost,


that Christ had not suffered as a real God,


and that he had in praying said "Gloria Patri" leaving away "Filio" and "Spiritu sancto,"


that he had eaten before celebrating the mass and had eaten meat on Good Friday and other forbidden days,


that he had stated that indulgences were void and inefficacious and had been invented by the fathers for their own advantage,


and that there was no hell or purgatory but only paradise,


and many other things.'  [119-120].






Note:  I (LS) saw some of the above (76), in:  Diarium sive Rerum Urbanarum Commentarii (1483 – 1506), Johannis Burchardi [1450 – 1506]; par L. Thusane, Tome Troisième (1500 – 1506), Paris, Ernest Leroux, 1885, pages 13-14. 


I doubt any version of "Quantum...ea de Christo fabula....["How…that fable [story] of Christ…."]", is in this work.


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from:  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 47, Oxford, 2004.



"Roscoe, William (1753–1831), historian and patron of the arts, was born on 8 March 1753 at the Old Bowling Green House, Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, the only son of William Roscoe (bap. 1714, d. 1793), innkeeper, and his wife, Elizabeth (1719–1771), daughter of William Stevenson of Allerton."  [735].



            "The publication of Roscoe's Life of Lorenzo de' Medici in 1796 proved an immediate success and won him international fame as a historian and scholar.  The biography gave great pleasure to many of his contemporaries, among them Horace Walpole, a correspondent of his, who wrote 'Mr Roscoe is by far the best of our historians, both for beauty, style and deep reflexions' (Roscoe, 'Memoir of the author', 29).  Roscoe's Life of Lorenzo was a remarkable achievement for a self-educated historian who had never ventured abroad.  He performed a useful service to his contemporaries and future generations by bringing together in one book such a wealth of information about his hero.  Seven editions were published in his lifetime and six after his death.


            Nine years later in 1805 Roscoe published his second major work, The Life of Pope Leo X, Son of Lorenzo de' Medici.  He himself had never intended to publish such a work, but was persuaded to undertake the task by Horace Walpole [1717 – 1797] and the earl of Bristol, who regarded it as an appropriate sequel to his first biography.  The Life of Leo was not well received by critics.  It aroused the anger of both Catholics and protestants.  Despite this it ran to six editions.  Again the Life of Leo, though it fell short of expectations, served a useful purpose as a mine of information and was widely read in Europe and America, having been translated into French, German, and Italian."  [736].



            'Final years   Jane Roscoe died on 24 September 1824 shortly after the family had settled into their new, and final, home at 180 Lodge Lane, Liverpool.  The strain of bringing up a family of ten, seven removals, her husband's unceasing energy, his periodic extravagance, the bankruptcy, and a constant flow of visitors took its toll.  After Jane's death, Roscoe's youngest daughter kept house for her father for the rest of his life.






            A vivid description of Roscoe towards the end of his life is given by Washington Irving [1783 – 1859], the American man of letters:


            One of the first places to which a stranger is taken in Liverpool is the Athenaeum.  As I was once visiting this haunt, my attention was drawn to a person just entering the room.  He was advanced in life, tall and of a form that might once have been commanding, but it was a little bowed by time, perhaps by care.  There was something in his whole appearance that indicated a being of a different order from the bustling race about him...I enquired his name and was informed that it was Roscoe.  I drew back with an involuntary feeling of veneration.  This then was an author, of celebrity:  this was one of those men whose voices have gone forth to the ends of the earth, with whom I have communed in the solitudes of America.  (W. Irving, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., 2 vols., 1821, 1.19–20)


            Among the many visitors from far and wide whom Roscoe welcomed in his home was Raja Rammohan Roy from Calcutta, regarded by some as the father of modern India, who persuaded his fellow countrymen to abolish the barbarous custom of suttee.  He also welcomed J.J. Audubon [John James Audubon 1785 – 1851], who brought his portfolio of Birds of America for publication in Britain.  Among his last visitors was Felicia Hemans, author of Casabianca, who described Roscoe 'as a delightful old man with a fine Roman style of head, sitting in the study of his small house surrounded by busts, books and flowers' (Espinasse, 2.283).


            In 1827 Roscoe suffered two or three strokes causing a loss of memory and a difficulty in speech, but he was able to continue writing.  After a severe attack of flu he died at 180 Lodge Lane, Liverpool, on 27 June 1831.  The funeral took place at the Renshaw Street Chapel, and the interment in the burial-ground near by in the heart of the city which he loved and served so well.


Donald A. Macnaughton'  [738].


_____     _____     _____






from:  The Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)].  By William Roscoe [1753 – 1831].  Sixth Edition.  Revised by His Son, Thomas Roscoe [1791 – 1871].  In Two Volumes.  Vol. II.  London:  Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden.  1853 (1805).  AMS reprint, 1973.



"....In this disgraceful and melancholy state of the Roman see, Leo had recourse to an expedient on which he had for some time meditated, and which, in a great degree, relieved him from his apprehensions.  In one day he created an additional number of thirty-one cardinals [see Bale, 190].  Among these were several of his relations and friends, some of whom had not yet obtained the habit of pre lacy; a circumstance which gave rise to no small dissatisfaction amongst the more rigid disciplinarians of the Roman see."  [77].



            'On the return of Luther [Martin Luther 1483 – 1546] to Wittemberg [also, Wittenberg], Miltitz [Karl von Miltitz c. 1490 – 1529 (drowning)] renewed his endeavours to prevail upon him to desist from further opposition, and to submit himself to the authority of the holy see.  For the accomplishment of this object he laboured unceasingly, with such commendations of the virtues and talents of Luther, and such acknowledgments of the misconduct and corruptions of the Roman court, as he thought were likely to gain his confidence, and disarm his resentment; a conduct which has been considered by the papal historians as highly derogatory to the Roman pontiff, of whom he was the legate, and injurious to the cause which he was employed to defend.  They have also accused this envoy of indulging himself too freely in convivial entertainments and the use of wine; on which occasions he amused his friends with many exaggerated anecdotes, to the discredit and disgrace of the Roman court; which being founded on the authority of the pope's nuncio,* were received and repeated as authentic.  Finding, however, that all his efforts to subdue the pertinacity of Luther were ineffectual, he had recourse to the assistance of the society of Augustine monks, then met  [assembled] in a general chapter, whom he prevailed upon to send a deputation to their erring brother, to recal him to a sense of his duty.  Luther appeared to be well pleased with this mark of respect, and promised that he would again write to the pontiff, with a further explanation of his conduct.  Availing himself therefore of this opportunity, he [Luther] addressed another letter to Leo X. [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)], which in its purport may be considered as one of the most singular, and in its consequences as one of the most important, that ever the pen of an individual produced.  Under the pretext of obedience, respect, and even affection for the pontiff, he has conveyed the most determined opposition, the most bitter satire, and the most marked contempt; insomuch, that it is scarcely possible to conceive a composition more replete with insult and offence, than that






which Luther affected to allow himself to be prevailed on to write by the representations of his own fraternity [apparently:  "society of Augustine monks"].‡ 


"[Luther] Amongst the monsters of the age," says Luther, "with whom I have now waged nearly a three-years' war, I am compelled at times to turn my regards towards you, O most holy father Leo; or rather I might say, that as you are esteemed to be the sole cause of the contest, you are never absent from my thoughts.  For although I have been induced by your impious flatterers, who have attacked me without any cause, to appeal to a general council, regardless of the empty decrees of your predecessors, Pius and Julius, which by a kind of stupid tyranny were intended to prevent such a measure, yet I have never allowed my mind to be so far alienated from your holiness, as not to be most earnestly solicitous for the happiness both of yourself and your see, which I have always endeavoured, as far as in my power, to obtain from God by continual and ardent supplications.  It is true, I have almost learnt to despise and to exult over the threats of those who have sought to terrify me by the majesty of your name and authority; but there is one circumstance which I cannot contemn, and which has compelled me again to address your holiness.  I understand I have been highly blamed, as having had the temerity to carry my opposition so far as even to attack your personal character.


                        "[Luther] I must, however, most explicitly assure you, that whenever I have had occasion to mention you, I have never done it but in the best and most magnificent terms.  Had I done otherwise I should have belied my own judgment, and should not only concur in the opinion of my adversaries, but most willingly acknowledge my rashness and impiety.  I have given you the appellation of a Daniel in Babylon, and have even endeavoured to defend you against your great caluminator Silvester, (Prierio,) with a sincerity which any reader will abundantly perceive in my works.  The unsullied reputation of your life is indeed so august, and so celebrated in every part of the world by the applauses of learned men, as to set at defiance any aspersions which can be thrown upon it.  I am not so absurd as to attack him whom every one praises, when it has always been my rule to spare even those whom public report condemns.  I delight not in blazoning the crimes of others, being conscious of the mote ["small particle"] which is my own eye, and not regarding myself as entitled to throw the first stone at an adultress."


            After justifying the asperity with which he has commented on the misconduct of his adversaries, by the example of Christ, and of the prophets and apostles, he [Luther] thus proceeds: 






"[Luther] I must, however, acknowledge my total abhorrence of your see, the Roman court, which neither you nor any man can deny is more corrupt than either Babylon or Sodom, and, according to the best of my information, is sunk in the most deplorable and notorious impiety.155  I have been therefore truly indignant to find, that under your name, and the pretext of the Roman church, the people of Christ have been made a sport of; which I have opposed, and will oppose, as long as the spirit of faith shall remain in me.  Not that I would attempt impossibilities, or expect that my efforts could avail against such a hostile throng of flatterers, and in the midst of the commotions of that Babylon.  I owe, however, something to my brethren, and conceive that it behoves me to keep watch that they are not seized in such numbers, nor so violently attacked by this Roman plague.  For what has Rome poured out for these many years past (as you well know), but the desolation of all things, both of body and soul, and the worst examples of all iniquity.  It is, indeed, as clear as daylight to all mankind, that the Roman church, formerly the most holy of all churches, is become the most licentious den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the kingdom of sin, of death, and of hell; the wickedness of which not Antichrist himself could conceive.156


            "[Luther] In the mean time, you, O Leo, sit like a lamb amidst wolves, and live like Daniel amidst the lions, or Ezekiel among the scorpions.  But what can you oppose to these monsters?  Three or four learned and excellent cardinals!  but what are these on such an occasion?  In fact, you would all sooner perish by poison [see 143, 149-150] than attempt a remedy to these disorders.  The fate of the court of Rome is decreed; the wrath of God is upon it; advice it detests; reformation it dreads; the fury of its impiety cannot be mitigated, and it has now fulfilled that which was said of its mother, We have medicined Babylon, and she is not healed; let us therefore leave her.  It was the office of your and of your cardinals to have applied a remedy; but the disorder derides the hand of the physician, nec audit currus habenas.  Under these impressions I have always lamented, O most excellent Leo, that you, who are worthy of better times, should have been elected to the pontificate in such days as these.  Rome meritsyou [sic] nor those who resemble you, but Satan himself, who in fact reigns more than you in that Babylon; would that you could exchange that state which your inveterate enemies represent to you as an honour, for some petty living; or would support yourself by your paternal inheritance; for of such honours none are worthy but Iscariots, the sons of perdition."


            After pouring out these invectives, and others of a similar kind, always pointed with expressions of the most contemptuous kindness for the pontiff,






Luther proceeds to give a brief history of his conduct, and of the efforts made to pacify him by the Roman court; in which he speaks of Eccius as the servant of Satan, and the adversary of Jesus Christ, and adverts [turns attention] to the conduct of the cardinal of Gaeta with an acrimony by no means consistent with his former professions in this respect.  He then declares, that in consequence of the representations of the Augustine fathers who had entreated him at least to honour the person of the pontiff, and assured him that a reconciliation was yet practicable, he had joyfully and gratefully undertaken the present address. 


"[Luther] Thus  I come," says he, "most holy father, and prostrating myself before you, entreat that you will, if possible, lay hands on and bridle those flatterers who, whilst they pretend to be pacific, are the enemies of peace.  Let no one, however, presume to think, most holy father, that I shall sing a palinode, unless he wishes to give rise to a still greater storm.  I shall admit of no restraints in interpreting the word of God; for the word of God, which inculcates the liberty of all, must itself be free.  Except in these points, there is nothing to which I am not ready to submit.  I hate contention, I will provoke no one; but being provoked, whilst Christ assists me, I will not be mute.  With one word your holiness might silence these commotions, and establish that peace which I so earnestly desire.


                        "[Luther] Allow me, however, to caution you, my good father Leo, against those sirens who would persuade you that you are not altogether a man but a compound of man and God, and can command and require whatever you please.  This, I assure you, will be of no avail.  You are the servant of servants, and, of all mankind, are seated in the most deplorable and perilous place.  Be not deceived by those who pretend that you are lord of the earth, that there can be no Christian without your authority, and that you have any power in heaven, in hell, or in purgatory.  They are your enemies and seek to destroy your soul, as it was said by Esaias, O my people, they who pronounce you happy deceive you.  Thus they impose upon you who exalt you above a council and the universal church; and who attribute to you alone the right of interpreting the Scriptures, and endeavour under your name to establish their own impiety.  Alas!  by their means, Satan has made great gain among your predecessors."157


            This letter, which bears date the sixth day of April, 1520, was prefixed by Luther as a dedication to his treatise on Christian Liberty, which he professes to transmit to the pope as a proof of his pacific disposition, and of his desire to attend to his studies, if the flatterers of the pontiff would allow him; but which the advocates of the Roman church have considered as an additional proof of his arrogance and his disobedience. 






The measure of his offences was now full; the pontiff, indeed, had long been solicited to apply an effectual remedy to these disorders.  The friars accused him of negligence, and complained that whilst he was employed in pompous exhibitions, in hunting, in music, or other amusements, he disregarded affairs of the highest moment.  They asserted, that in matters of faith the least deviation is of importance; that the time to eradicate the evil is before it has begun to spread itself; that the revolt of Arius was at first a spark that might have been extinguished, but which, being neglected, had set fire to the world.  That the efforts of John Huss and Jerome of Prague would have been attended with similar success, if they had not been frustrated in the commencement by the vigilance of the council of Constance.158  These sentiments were by no means agreeable to the pontiff, who, so far from wishing to resort to severity, regretted that he had already interfered so much in the business, and made himself a party where he ought to have assumed the more dignified character of a judge.*  The remonstrances, however, of the prelates and universities of Germany, added to those of the Roman clergy, and, above all, the excess to which Luther had now carried his opposition, compelled him [Leo X] at length to have recourse to decisive measures; and a congregation of the cardinals, prelates, theologians, and canonists was summoned at Rome, for the purpose of deliberating on the mode in which his condemnation should be announced....'  [210-216].



'On the tenth day of December, 1520, he [Luther] caused a kind of funeral pile to be erected without the walls of Wittemberg [also, Wittenberg], surrounded by scaffolds, as for a public spectacle, and when the places thus prepared were filled by the members of the university and the inhabitants of the city, Luther made his appearance, with many attendants, bringing with him several volumes, containing the decretals of the popes, the constitutions called the Extravagants, the writings of Eccius, and of Emser, another of his antagonists, and finally a copy of the bull of Leo X.  The pile being then set on fire, he [Luther] with his own hands committed the books to the flames, exclaiming at the same time, Because ye have troubled the holy of the Lord, ye shall be burnt with eternal fire.*  On the following day he mounted the pulpit, and admonished his audience to be upon their guard against papistical decrees.  "The conflagration we have now seen," said he, "is a matter of small importance.  It would be more to the purpose if the pope himself, or in other words, the papal see, were also burnt."  The example of Luther at Wittemberg was followed by his disciples in several other parts of Germany, where the papal bulls and decretals were committed to the flames with public marks of indignation and contempt.  Such were the ceremonies that confirmed the separation of Luther and his followers from the court of Rome.  A just representation of that hostile spirit which has subsisted between them to






the present day; and which, unfortunately for the world, has not always been appeased by the burning of heretical works on the one hand, nor of papal bulls and decretals on the other.161'  [219].







Errors incident to an early state of society—Writings of Aristotle—Rival doctrines of Plato—Commentators on the philosophy of the ancients—Niccolo Leonico Tomeo—Pietro Pomponazzo—Agostino Nifo—Giovan-Francesco Pico—Study of natural philosophy—Attempts towards the reformation of the Calendar—Discoveries in the East and West Indies—Papal grants of foreign parts—Consequences of the new discoveries—Humane interference of Leo X.—Study of natural history—Moral philosophy—Mattco Bosso—Pontano—His treatise De Principe—His work De Obedientia and other writings—Baldassare Castiglione—His Libro del Cortegiano—Novel writers—Mateo Bandello—Pietro Aretino.



            It is a striking fact, that mankind, when they begin to cultivate their intellectual powers, have generally turned their first attention towards those abstruse and speculative studies which are the most difficult of comprehension, and the most remote from their present state and condition.  [see, 2851 (Montaigne)]


This is the natural result of that inexperience which is common to an early or unimproved state of society.  Ignorant of that which relates to their immediate well-being, they attempt to rise into the realms of immaterial existence; or, if the laws of nature engage their notice, it is only in subordination to some higher purpose.  The course of the heavenly bodies would be considered as a study not deserving of their attention, were it not believed to unfold to them the secrets of futurity; and the productions of the vegetable and mineral kingdoms are disregarded, except when they are supposed to exhibit striking prodigies, or to produce miraculous effects.183  Hence it has been the most difficult effort of the human mind to divest itself of absurdity and of error, and to quit its sublime flights for the plain and palpable inductions of reason and common sense; and hence the due estimation of our own powers, although it be of all sciences the most important, is generally the latest acquired.






            In correcting these errors of early times, the ancients had made a considerable progress; but on the revival of letters, that second infancy of mankind, the powers of the human intellect were not so frequently employed on subjects of real utility, as in the investigation of the most difficult or unintelligible propositions.  The writings of Aristotle [384 – 322 B.C.E.], which had first been introduced through the medium of the Arabians, afforded the greatest abundance of subjects of this nature, and he therefore became the universal favourite.  The study of his works superseded the study of nature; and as few topics were left untouched by his vigorous and enterprising genius, he was not only resorted to as the general authority on all subjects of science and of literature, but produced a considerable effect on the theological tenets of the times.  The superiority and influence which, by the aid of the schoolmen, he had for so many ages maintained, were at length diminished by the rival system of Plato [427 – 347 B.C.E.]; and the dominion which he had so long exercised over the human intellect was now divided between him and his sublimer opponent.  This circumstance may be considered rather as a compromise between the rulers, than as an alteration in the condition of those who were still destined to obey.  The metaphysical doctrines of Plato were as remote from the business of real life, and the simple induction of facts, as those of Aristotle.  It is not, however, wholly improbable, that mankind derived some advantage from this event.  In dividing their allegiance, it occasionally led them to think for themselves, and perhaps induced a suspicion, that, as in opposing systems both leaders could not be right, so it was possible that both of them might be wrong.


            This divided authority was not, however, without its variations, in which each of the contending parties struggled for the ascendancy, and at the close of the fifteenth century the triumph of Platonism was almost complete.  The venerable character of Bessarion,* the indefatigable labours of Ficino, and the establishment of the Platonic academy at Florence, under Lorenzo de' Medici [1449 – 1492 (father of Leo X)], were the chief causes of this superiority.  With the loss of the personal influence of these eminent men, its consequence again declined; and the doctrines of Aristotle, better understood, and more sedulously inculcated by many of his learned countrymen, again took the lead.  The scholars of the time devoted themselves with great earnestness to the task of translating, illustrating, or defending his writings, which now began to be freed from the visionary subtilties of the Arabian commentators, and were studied and expounded in their original language.  The first native Italian who attempted this arduous task, was Niccolo Leonico Tomeo, a disciple of Demetrius Chalcondyles, and a distinguished professor of polite letters in the university of Padua, where he died in the year 1531, having taught at that place upwards of thirty years.  The talents of Leonico were not, however, wholly devoted to this employment.  He was not less acquainted with the doctrines of Plato than with those of Aristotle.  He translated many philosophical works from the Greek into






Latin with great elegance, and has left several treatises or dialogues, on moral and philosophical subjects,184 although they are now no longer generally known.  Some specimens of his poetry are also to be found in the collections of the times.*  His chief merit consists in his having for a long course of years seduiously [sedulously] diffused the riches of ancient learning among his countrymen, and his chief honour in having numbered among his pupils many of the most eminent men of the time. 


The epitaph on Leonico [Leonico Tomeo 1456 – 1531], by his friend and countryman Bembo [Cardinal Pietro Bembo 1470 – 1547], is an elegant compendium of his literary and moral character, and is highly favourable to both.185"  ["245"-246].


            ["Notes"] 'Note 185 (p. 246).—This inscription, which yet remains in the church of S. Francesco, at Padua, is as follows:—


            "Leonico Thomeo, Veneto, mitioribus in literis pangendisque carmini bus ingenio amabili, Philosophiae vero in studiis, et Academica Peripateticaque doctrina praestanti; nam et Aristotelicos libros Graeco sermone Patavii primus omnium docuit, scholamque illam a Latinis interpretibus inculcatam perpolivit, et Platonis majestatem nostris hominibus, jam prope abditam restituit; multaque praeterea scripsit, multa interpretatus est, multos claros viros erudiit, praeter virtutem bonasque artes tota in vita nullius rei appetens.  Vixit autem annos lxxv. M.i.D.27."


            Count Bossi has observed, that Leonico has been confounded by some with Nicolo Leonicens, or of Lonigo, a physician, who taught at Ferrara, and published many translations of the classics and other works.—Ital. Ed. vol. ix. p. 106.'  [476].



            'The indisposition of the pontiff [Leo X.] excited at first but little alarm, and was attributed by his physicians to a cold caught at his villa.  The consistory was not, however, held; and on the morning of Sunday, the first day of December, the pope suddenly died.  This event was so unexpected, that he is said to have expired without those ceremonies which are considered as of such essential importance by the Roman church.307 [see footnote, 90] Jovius relates, that a short time before his death, he returned thanks to God with his hands clasped together and his eyes raised to heaven; and expressed his readiness to submit to his approaching fate, after having lived to see the cities of Parma and Piacenza restored to the church, and the French effectually humbled;† but this narrative deserves little further credit than such as it derives from the mere probability of such an occurrence.  In truth, the circumstances






attending the death of the pontiff are involved in mysterious and total obscurity, and the accounts given of this event, by Varillas and similar writers in subsequent times, are the spurious offspring of their own imagination.308  Some information on this important event might have been expected from the diary of the master of the ceremonies, Paris de Grassis; but it is remarkable, that from Sunday the twenty-fourth day of November, when the pope withdrew to his chamber, to the same day in the following week, when he expired, no notice is taken by this officer of the progress of his disorder, of the particulars of his conduct, or of the means adopted for his recovery.309....


             Such is the dubious and unsatisfactory narrative of the death of Leo X., which occurred when he had not yet completed the forty-sixth year of his age; having reigned eight years, eight months, and nineteen days.  It was the general opinion at the time, and has been confirmed by the suffrages of succeeding historians, that his death was occasioned by the excess of his joy on hearing of the success of his arms.  If, however, after all the vicissitudes of fortune which Leo had experienced, his mind had not been sufficiently fortified to resist this influx of good fortune, it is probable that its effects would have been more sudden.  On this occasion it has been well observed, that an excess of joy is dangerous only on a first emotion, and that Leo survived this intelligence eight days.310  It seems, therefore, not unlikely that this story was fabricated merely as a pretext to conceal the real cause of his death; and that the slight indisposition and temporary seclusion of the pontiff afforded an opportunity for some of his enemies to gratify their resentment, or promote their own ambitious views, by his destruction.  Some circumstances are related which give additional credibility to this supposition.  Before the body of the pope was interred, Paris de Grassis [c. 1470 – 1528], perceiving it to be much inflated, inquired from the consistory whether they would have it opened and examined, to which they assented.  On performing this operation, the medical attendants reported that he [Leo X] had certainly died by poison.   To this it is added, that during his illness the pope had frequently complained of an internal burning, which was attributed to the same cause; "whence," says Paris de Grassis, "it is certain that the pope was poisoned."  In confirmation of this opinion, a singular incident is also recorded by the same officer, who relates in his diary, that a few days before the indisposition of the pontiff, a person unknown and disguised, called upon one of the monks in the monastery of S. Jerom [Jerome], and requested him to inform the pope, that an attempt would be made by one of his confidential servants to poison him; not in his food but by his linen.  The friar, not choosing to convey this intelligence to the pope, who was then at Malliana, communicated it to the datary, who immediately acquainted the pope with it.  The friar was sent for to the villa, and having there confirmed in the presence of the pontiff what he had before related, Leo, with great emotion, observed, "that if it was the will of God that he should die, he should submit to it; but that he should use all the






precaution in his power."  We are further informed, that in the course of a few days he fell sick, and that with his last words he declared that he had been murdered, and could not long survive.


            The consternation and grief of the populace on the death of the pontiff were unbounded.  On its being rumoured that he died by poison, they, in the first emotions of their fury, seized upon Bernabò Malespina, one of the pope's cup-bearers, who had excited their suspicions, by attempting to leave the city at this critical conjuncture, on the pretext of hunting, and dragged him to the castle of S. Angelo.  On his examination it was alleged against him , that the day before the pope became indisposed, he had received from Malespina a cup of wine, and after having drunk it, had asked in great anger what he meant by giving him so disagreeable and bitter a potion.  No sufficient proofs appearing of his guilt, he was, however, soon afterwards liberated; and the cardinal legate de' Medici arriving at the city prohibited any further examination on the subject.311  He could not, however, prevent the surmises of the people, some of whom conjectured that Francis I. had been the instigator of the crime; a suspicion wholly inconsistent with the ingenuous and open character of that monarch.  It has since been suggested that the duke of Ferrara, whose dominions were so immediately endangered by the hostile attempts of the pontiff, or the exiled duke of Urbino, might have resorted to these insidious means of revenge;312 but of these individuals the weightier suspicion would fall on the latter, who, by his assassination of the cardinal of Pavia, had given a decisive proof, that in the gratification of his resentment he knew no bounds; and who had by his complaints and representations to the sacred college, succeeded in exciting a considerable enmity against the pontiff, even within the limits of the Roman court.


            The obsequies of the pope were performed in the Vatican, without any extraordinary pomp;313 the avowed reason of which was the impoverished state of the Roman treasury, exhausted as it was alleged by his profuse liberality, and by the wars in which he [Leo X.] had been engaged.  The recent successes with which his efforts had been crowned, might, however, have supplied both the motives and the resources for a more splendid funeral, if other circumstances, arising from the peculiar and suspicious manner of his death, had not rendered it improper or inexpedient,  His funeral panegyric was pronounced by his chamberlain, Antonio da Spello, in a rude and illiterate manner, highly unworthy of the subject; for which reason his oration has not been preserved; but in the academy della Sapienza at Rome, a discourse is annually pronounced in praise of Leo X.  ....'  [370-373].






            ["Notes"] 'Note 307 (p. 370 [see 87]).—The death of the pontiff without the sacraments, occasioned the following lines, attributed, but perhaps without reason [interesting reservation!  I have seen the below Latin in a 1535 book of Sannazaro (see 204); still, it could be a pasquinade (see 245-274)], to Sanazarro [Jacopo Sannazaro 1458 – 1530]:—


                        "Sacra sub extrema si forte requiritis hora

                        Cur Leo non potuit sumere; vendiderat." 


['If perchance you ask why Leo could not receive the sacraments in his final hour—it is because he had sold them.'  [See:  239-242]]'  [504].



            'Were we to place implicit confidence in the opinions of many authors who have taken occasion to refer to the character of Leo X., we must unavoidably suppose him to have been one of the most dissolute, irreligious, profane, and unprincipled of mankind.  By one writer we are told that Leo led a life little suited to one of the successors of the apostles, and entirely devoted to voluptuousness; another has not scrupled to insert the name of this pontiff in a list which he has formed of the supposed atheists of the time.* [see footnote, 91]  John Bale [1495 – 1563], in his satirical work, entitled, "The Pageant of Popes [1574 (Latin, 1558:  Acta Romanorum Pontificum)]," in which, in his animosity against the church of Rome, he professes it to be his intention to give her double according to her works, has informed us, that


when Bembo [Secretary to Leo X] quoted to Leo X., on some occasion, a passage from one of the evangelists, the pope replied,


It is well known to all ages how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us;327 [see footnote, 92-93]


a story, which it has justly been remarked, has been repeated by three or four hundred different writers [see 308 (Bayle)], without any authority whatsoever, except that of the author above referred to.  Another anecdote of a similar nature is found in a Swiss writer; who, as a proof of the impiety and atheism of the pontiff, relates, that he had directed two of the buffoons whom he admitted to his table, to take upon them the characters of philosophers, and to discuss the question respecting the immortality of the soul; when, after having heard the arguments on both sides, he gave his decision by observing, that he who had maintained the affirmative of the question, had given excellent reasons for his opinion, but that the arguments of his adversary were very plausible.  This story rests only on the authority of Luther, who on such an






occasion can scarcely be admitted as a sufficient evidence. [see footnote, below]  We are told by another protestant author, that at the time "when Leo was thundering out his anathemas against Luther, he was not ashamed to publish a bull in favour of the profane poems of Ariosto; menacing with excommunication all those who criticized them, or deprived the author of his emolument," a circumstance which has been adduced by innumerable writers, and even by the dispassionate Bayle [Pierre Bayle 1647 – 1706],327 [this portion of footnote, not presented] as an additional proof of the impiety of the pontiff, and of the disgraceful manner in which he abused his ecclesiastical authority.  But in answer to this it may be sufficient to observe, that the privilege to Ariosto was granted long before Luther had signalized himself by his opposition to the Romish Church, and that such privilege is in fact nothing more than the usual protection granted to authors, to secure to them the profits of their works.  That it contains any denunciations against those who censure the writings of Ariosto, is an assertion wholly groundless; the clause of excommunication extending only to those who should surreptitiously print and sell the work without the consent of the author; a clause which is found in all licenses of the same nature, frequently much more strongly expressed; and which was intended to repress, beyond the limits of the papal territories, those literary pirates, who have at all times, since the invention of printing, been ready to convert the industry of others to their own emolument.' 


[footnotes] '*Mosheim [Johann Lorenz von Mosheim 1694 – 1755]. ap. [apud (Latin):  in the work of ] Jortin [John Jortin 1698 – 1770], Remarks on Ecclesiast. Hist. vol. 5. p. 500 [see 90].


†Seck. lib. iii. p. 676.  It is observable, that in the satirical "Vie de Cath. de Medicis["] [see 177], vol. i. p. 13, this story is related of Clement VII. [first cousin of Leo X]'  [387-389].



            'But whilst we reject these unfounded and scandalous imputations, it must be allowed that the occupations and amusements in which the pontiff indulged himself, were not always suited either to the dignity of his station, or to the gravity of his own character.  "It seems to have been his intention," says one of his biographers, "to pass his time cheerfully, and to secure himself against trouble and anxiety by all the means in his power.  He, therefore, sought all opportunities of pleasure and hilarity, and indulged his leisure in amusement, jests, and singing; either induced by a natural propensity, or from an idea that the avoiding vexation and care might contribute to lengthen his days."  On some occasions, and particularly on the first day of August in every year, he was accustomed to invite such of the cardinals as were admitted to his more intimate acquaintance, to play cards with him; and of this opportunity he always availed






himself to display his liberality, by distributing pieces of gold among the crowd of spectators whom he allowed to be present at these entertainments.  In the game of chess he was a thorough proficient, and could conduct its most difficult operations with the utmost promptitude and success; but gaming with dice he always reproved, as equally inconsistent with prudence and injurious to morals.*'  [390].



"CONCLUSION."  [397]


            "That an astonishing proficiency in the improvement of the human intellect was made during the pontificate of Leo X. is universally allowed. 


That such proficiency is principally to be attributed to the exertions of that pontiff, will now perhaps be thought equally indisputable.  Of the predominating influence of a powerful, an accomplished, or a fortunate individual on the character and manners of the age, the history of mankind furnishes innumerable instances; and happy is it for the world, when the pursuits of such individuals, instead of being devoted, through blind ambition, to the subjugation or destruction of the human race, are directed towards those beneficent and generous ends, which, amidst all his avocations, LEO THE TENTH appears to have kept continually in view."  [397] [end of text].



            ["Notes"] '[portion of] Note 327 (p. 388 [see 90]).—"On a time when cardinal [cardinall] Bembus did move a question out of the gospel [Gospell], the pope [Pope] gave him a very contemptuose [contemptuouse] answere [aunswere], saying [saiyng]: 


"All ages can testifye [testifie] enough how [HOWE]


profitable that fable of Christe hath ben to us [VS] and our


companie."  [spellings in brackets, are from "Bale's Pageant of Popes", 1574 (see 164)]


Bale's Pageant of Popes, p. 179. Ed. 1579.  Of the candour and accuracy of this zealous friend to the reformed religion, the following passage affords an ample specimen:—






"This LEO did enrich above measure his bastardes and cosins, advauncing them to dignityes both spirituall and temporall, with robbing and undoing other. 


For he [Leo] made Julianus his sister's son, duke of Mutinensis, and Laurentianus, duke of Urbin [this I encountered in Webster's Biographical Dictionary, c1995, page 698];


marrying the one to the sister of Charles, duke of Savoye, and the other to the duchess of Poland," &c.—Bale, p. 180.' 


[note:  I have not researched these negative criticisms of Bale; one subject of negative criticism, that I encountered fortuitously (see underline, above), appears to verify Bale] [508].


l l l l l






from:  The History of the Popes, Their Church and State, and Especially of Their Conflicts with Protestantism in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.  By Leopold Ranke [1795 – 1886].  Translated by E. Foster.  In Three Volumes.  Vol. I.  London:  George Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden.  1891 (1840) (1834–1836 Germany).



"....The youthful enthusiasm of chivalrous Christendom had passed away; no pope might ever awaken it more.


            Other interests occupied the world.  It was now the moment when the European kingdoms were finally consolidating their forces after long internal struggles.  The central authorities having succeeded in suppressing the factions that had endangered the security of the throne, were gathering their subjects around them in renewed allegiance.  The papacy, interfering in all things and seeking to dominate all, came very soon to be regarded in a political point of view; the temporal princes now began to put forth higher claims than they had hitherto done.


            It is commonly believed that the papal authority was almost unrestricted up to the time of the Reformation; but the truth is that no inconsiderable portion of the rights and privileges of the clergy had been appropriated by the civil power, during the fifteenth and in the early part of the sixteenth centuries...."  [28].



'It was remarked of Ferdinand of Naples, by Lorenzo de' Medici [1449 – 1492], in relation to a dispute of the former with the Roman see,—"He will make no difficulty of promising, but when it comes to the fulfillment, his deficiencies will be overlooked, as those of kings always are by the popes;"* for this spirit of opposition had penetrated even into Italy.  Of Lorenzo de' Medici himself we are told that he followed the example of more powerful sovereigns in this respect, obeying just so much of the papal commands as suited him, and no more.  We shall be mistaken if we consider these movements as but so many acts of self-will:  the life of the European nations was no longer pervaded and impressed as it had formerly been by ecclesiastical influence.  The development of national character, and the separate organization of the various monarchies, were making important advances.  It thus became indispensable that the relation of the ecclesiastical to the secular powers should be thoroughly remodified.  A very remarkable change had become obvious, even in the popes themselves.'  [31].











 § 1.  Extension of the Ecclesiastical States.


            Whatever judgment may be formed as to the popes of the earlier ages, it is certain that they had always important interests in view,— the duty of upholding an oppressed religion, that of contending with [perennial] Paganism, of diffusing Christianity among the nations of the north, and of establishing an independent hierarchical government.  To will, and to achieve some great object, is proper to the dignity of human nature; and while such was their tendency, the popes were sustained in their lofty efforts; but this spirit had passed away with the times by which it had been awakened.  Schism had been suppressed, but it had become obvious that no hope remained of effecting a combined action against the enemy of the church.  Men would no longer give their lives to defend her from the Turks...."  [32].



'It was held to be a thing of course that a pope should provide for his own family and promote its interests; nay, a pontiff neglecting to do this would have exposed himself to injurious remarks.  "Others," writes Lorenzo de' Medici to Innocent VIII., "have not so long postponed their efforts to attain the papal chair, and have concerned themselves little to maintain the retiring delicacy so long evinced by your holiness.  Now is your holiness not only exonerated before God and man, but this honourable conduct may cause you to incur blame, and your reserve may be attributed to less worthy motives.  Zeal and duty lay in on my conscience to remind your holiness that no man is immortal.  Be the pontiff as important as he may in his own person, he cannot make his dignity and that importance hereditary; he cannot be said absolutely to possess anything but the honours and emoluments he has secured to his kindred."*  Such were the counsels offered by him who was considered the wisest man of Italy.'  [32-33].



            'The brightest hopes of Alexander [Alexander VI:  Pope 1492 – 1503 (1431 – 1503)] were thus realized,—the nobles of the land were annihilated, and his house about to found a great hereditary dominion in Italy.  But he had already begun to acquire practical experience of the evil which passions, aroused and unbridled, are capable of producing.  With no relative or favourite would Caesar Borgia [1475 or 1476 – 1507] [son of Pope Alexander VI] endure the participation of his power.  His own brother stood in his way:  Caesar caused him to be murdered and thrown into the Tiber.  His brother-in-law was assailed and






stabbed, by his orders, on the steps of his palace.*  The wounded man was nursed by his wife and sister, the latter preparing his food with her own hands, to secure him from poison; the pope set a guard upon the house to protect his son-in-law from his son.  Caesar laughed these precautions to scorn.  "What cannot be done at noon-day," said he, "may be brought about in the evening,"[sic]  When the prince was on the point of recovery, he burst into his chamber, drove out the wife and sister, called in the common executioner, and caused his unfortunate brother-in-law to be strangled.  Towards his father, whose life and station he valued only as means to his own aggrandizement, he displayed not the slightest respect or feeling.  He slew Peroto, Alexander's favourite, while the unhappy man clung to his patron for protection, and was wrapped within the pontifical mantle.  The blood of the favourite flowed over the face of the pope.


            For a certain time the city of the apostles, and the whole state of the church, were in the hands of Caesar Borgia.  He is described as possessing great personal beauty, and was so strong, that in a bull-fight he would strike off the head of the animal at a single blow ["bullshit"!]; of liberal spirit, and not without certain features of greatness, but given up to his passions and deeply stained with blood.  How did Rome tremble at his name!  Caesar required gold, and possessed enemies:  every night were the corpses of murdered men found in the streets, yet none dared move; for who but might fear that his own turn would be next?  Those whom violence could not reach were taken off by poison.*'  [37-38].


            [footnote] '*To the manifold notices extant on his head, I have added something from Polo Capello (App. No. 3).  On the death of distinguished men, people instantly suspected poisoning by the pope.  With regard to the death of the cardinal of Verona, Sanuto has the following:  "Si judica, sia stato atosicato per tuorli le facultà, perchè avanti che spirasse el papa mandò guardie attorno la caxa."  [He was supposed to be poisoned that the people might take his riches, because Alexander placed guards around his house before he died.]'  [38].



            'We do not follow the history of Alexander in its minute details.  He [Alexander] once purposed, as is but too well authenticated, to destroy one of the richest cardinals by poison:  but the latter contrived to win over the pope's chief cook by means of promises, entreaties, and gifts.  The confection, prepared for the cardinal, was set before the pontiff himself; and Alexander expired from the effects of that poison which he had destined for another.†  The consequences resulting from his various enterprises after his death were entirely different from those he had anticipated.'  [39].






"The higher offices and more important dignities were monopolized, together with their revenues, by the great families and their dependants, shared only with the favourites of courts and of the Curia; the actual discharge of the various duties was confided to the mendicant friars who were upheld by the popes.  They took active part also in the sale of indulgences, to which so unusual an extension was given at that time, Alexander VI. being the first to declare officially that they [indulgences] were capable of releasing souls from purgatory.  But the orders also had fallen into the extreme of worldliness.  What intrigues were set on foot among them for securing the higher appointments!  what eagerness was displayed at elections to be rid of a rival, or of a voter believed unfavourable!  The latter were sent out of the way as preachers or as inspectors of remote parishes; against the former, they did not scruple to employ the sword, or the dagger, and many were destroyed by poison.†"  [45].


            [footnote] 'In a voluminous report from Caraffa to Clement, which is given by Bromato, Vita di Paolo IV., in a mutilated form only, the passage following occurs in the manuscript of the monasteries:—"Si viene ad homicidi non solo col veneno, ma apertamente col coltello, e con la spada, per non dire con schiopetti."  [They proceed to commit murders, not only by poison, but openly with the dagger and the sword, to say nothing of firearms.]'  [45].



"§ 3.  Intellectual Tendency."  [46]


            "We cannot deny the fact, that, ingenious, diversified, and profound as are the productions of the middle ages, they are yet based on views of the world, visionary in character and but little in accordance with the reality of things.  Had the Church remained in full and conscious power, she would have adhered firmly to these views, narrowing and restricting as they were; but as she now was, the human intellect was left at liberty to seek a new development in a totally altered direction.


            We may safely assert that, during those ages, the mind of man was necessarily held within the limits of a closely bounded horizon.  The renewed acquaintance with antiquity removed this barrier, and opened a loftier, a more comprehensive, and a grander prospect."  [46-47].



"....The Italians, on the contrary, extracted true profit from all they read.   They proceeded from the Romans to the Greeks.  The art of printing disseminated the originals throughout the world in copies innumerable:  the true Aristotle [384 – 322 B.C.E.] superseded that falsified by the Arabs.  Men studied science from the unaltered works of the ancients: 






geography directly from Ptolemy [Claudius Ptolemy, 2nd century C.E.], botany from Dioscorides [c. 40 – c. 90 C.E.], medicine from Galen [129 – c. 199] and Hippocrates [fl. c. 460 B.C.E.].  How rapidly was the mind of man then delivered from the fantasies that laid hitherto peopled the world—from the prejudices that had held his spirit in thrall!"  [47].



            "Men sought to emulate the ancients in their own language.  Leo X. was an especial patron of this pursuit:  he read the well-written introduction to the history of Jovius [Paolo Giovio 1483 – 1552] aloud in the circle of his intimates, declaring that since the works of Livy [59 B.C.E. – 17 C.E.] nothing so good had been produced.  A patron of the Latin improvisators, we may readily conceive the charm he [Leo X] would find in the talents of Vida [Marco Girolamo Vida 1485? – 1566], who could set forth a subject like the game of chess, in the full tones of well-cadenced Latin hexameters.  A mathematician, celebrated for expounding his science in elegant Latin, was invited from Portugal; in this manner he would have had theology and jurisprudence taught, and church history written."  [48].



            "In earlier times, the share of religion was equal with that of art, in every work of the painter or sculptor; but no sooner had the breath of antiquity been felt on the bosom of art, than the bonds that had chained her to subjects exclusively religious were cast from her spirit.  We see this change manifest itself more decidedly from year to year even in the works of Raphael [1483 – 1520].  People may blame this, if they please; but it would seem to be certain that the co-operation of the profane element was necessary to the full development and bloom of art.


            And was it not profoundly significant that a pope [Julius II] should himself resolve to demolish the ancient basilica of St. Peter, the metropolitan church of Christendom, every part of which was hallowed, every portion crowded with monuments that had received the veneration of ages, and determine to erect a temple, planned after those of antiquity, on its site?  This was a purpose exclusively artistic.  The two factions then dividing the jealous and contentious world of art, united in urging Julius II. [Pope 1503 – 1513 (1443 – 1513)] to this enterprise.  Michael Angelo [1475 – 1564] desired a fitting receptacle for that monument to the pope which he proposed to complete on a vast scale, and with that lofty grandeur which he has exhibited in his Moses.  Yet more pressing was Bramante [Donato Bramante 1444 – 1514].  It was his ambition to have space for the execution of that bold project, long before conceived, of raising high in air, on colossal pillars, an exact copy of the Pantheon, in all the majesty of its proportions.  Many cardinals remonstrated,






and it would even appear that there was a general opposition to the plan; so much of personal affection attaches itself to every old church, how much more then to this, the chief sanctuary of Christendom!* [see footnote, below]  But Julius was not accustomed to regard contradiction; without further consideration he [Julius II] caused one-half of the old church to be demolished, and himself laid the foundation-stone of the new one."  [51-52].


            [footnote (see above)] '*The following passage is given by Fea, from the unprinted work of Panvinius (De rebus antiquis memorabilibus et de praestantia basilicoe S. Petri Apostolorum Principis, &c.):—"Qua in re (the project of the new building) adversos pene habuit cunctorum ordinum homines et praesertim cardinales; non quod novam non cuperent basilicam magnificentissimam extrui, sed quia antiquam toto terrarum orbe venerabilem, tot sanctorum sepulchris augustissimam, tot celeberrimis in ea gestis insignem funditus deleri ingemiscant.["] 


[[translation] In which matter he had men of almost all classes against him, and especially the cardinals; not because they did not wish to have a new basilica erected with all possible magnificence, but because they grieved that the old one should be pulled down, revered as it was by the whole world, ennobled by the sepulchres of so many saints, and illustrious for so many great things that had been done in it.]'  [52].



            'Men frequented the Vatican, less to kneel in devotion on the threshold of the apostles than to admire those great works of ancient art that enriched the dwelling of the pontiff—the Belvedere Apollo and the Laocoon.


            It is true that the pope was exhorted as earnestly as ever to make war against infidels.  I find this, for example, in a preface of Navagero;* but the writer was not concerning himself for the interests of Christianity; his hope was, that the pontiff would thus recover the lost writings of the Greeks and perhaps of the Romans.


            In this exuberance of effort and production, of intellect, and art, and in the enjoyment of increasing temporal power attached to the highest spiritual dignity, lived Leo X. [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)]  Men have questioned his title to the honour of giving his name to the period, and he had not perhaps any great merit in doing so, but he was indubitably favoured by circumstances.  His character had been formed in the midst of those elements that fashioned the world of his day, and he had liberality of mind and susceptibility of feeling that fitted him for the furtherance of its progress and the enjoyment of its advantages. 






If he found pleasure in the efforts of those who were but imitators of the Latin, still more would the works of his contemporaries delight him.  It was in his presence that the first tragedy was performed, and (spite of the objections liable to be found in a play imitating Plautus [c. 254 – 184 B.C.E.]) the first comedy also that was produced in the Italian language; there is, indeed, scarcely one that was not first seen by him.  Ariosto [1474 – 1533] was among the acquaintance of his youth.  Machiavelli composed more than one of his works expressly for him.  His halls, galleries, and chapels were filled by Raphael with the rich ideal of human beauty, and with the purest expression of life in its most varied forms.  He was a passionate lover of music, a more scientific practice of which was just then becoming diffused throughout Italy; the sounds of music were daily heard floating through the palace, Leo himself humming the airs that were performed.  This may all be considered a sort of intellectual sensuality, but it is at least the only one that does not degrade the man.  Leo X. was full of kindness and ready sympathies; rarely did he refuse a request, and when compelled to do so evinced his reluctance by the gentlest expressions.  "He is a good man," says an observant ambassador, "very bounteous and kindly; he would avoid all disorders if it were not that his kinsmen incite him to them."*  "He is learned," says another, "and the friend of the learned; religious too, but he will enjoy his life."†  It is true that he did not always attend to the pontifical proprieties.  He would sometimes leave Rome—to the despair of his master of the ceremonies—not only without a surplice, but, as that officer ruefully bemoans in his journal, "What is worst of all, even with boots on his feet!"  It was his [Leo X] custom to pass the autumn in rural pleasures.  At Viterbo he [Leo X] amused himself with hawking [also, falconry (I prefer:  if hawks employed—hawking; if falcons employed—falconry);  one of my early hobbies], and at Corneto with hunting the stag [deer hunting!  one of my early pursuits, from which I evolved in 1964].  The lake of Bolsena afforded him the pleasure of fishing, or he would pass a certain time at his favourite residence of Malliana, whither he was accompanied by improvisatori and other men of light and agreeable talents, capable of making every hour pass pleasantly.  Towards winter he returned with his company to Rome, which was now in great prosperity, the number of its inhabitants having increased full one-third in a very few years.  Here the mechanic found employment, the artist honour, and safety was assured to all.  Never had the court been more animated, more graceful, more intellectual.  In the matter of festivities, whether spiritual or temporal, no cost was spared, nor was any expenditure found too lavish when the question was of amusements, theatres, presents, or marks of favour.  There was high jubilee when it was known that Giuliano de' Medici meant to settle with his young wife in Rome.  "God be praised," writes Cardinal Bibbiena to him, "for here we lack nothing but a court with ladies."


            The debasing sensuality of Alexander VI. cannot fail to be regarded with horror and loathing; in the court of Leo X. there were few things deserving






absolute blame, although we cannot but perceive that his pursuits might have been more strictly in accordance with his position as supreme head of the church. 


            Easily does life veil its own incongruities as they pass, but no sooner do men set themselves to ponder, examine, and compare, than at once they become fully apparent to all.


            Of true Christian sentiment and conviction there could be no question in such a state of things; they ["sentiment and conviction"] were, on the contrary, directly opposed.


            The schools of philosophy disputed as to whether the reasonable soul were really immaterial and immortal—but one single spirit only and common to all mankind—or whether it were absolutely mortal.


            Pietro Pomponazzo [1462 – 1525], the most distinguished philosopher of the day, did not scruple to uphold the latter opinion.  He compared himself to Prometheus, whose heart was devoured by the vulture, because he had sought to steal fire from Jupiter; but with all the painful efforts Pomponazzo could make, with all his subtlety, he could arrive at no other result than this:  "If the lawgiver declared the soul immortal, he had done so without troubling himself about the truth."*

            Nor are we to believe that these opinions were confined to a few, or held only in secret.  Erasmus [1466? – 1536] [visited Italy 1506 – 1509 (Julius II, Pope 1503 – 1513 (1443 – 1513)] declares himself astonished at the blasphemies that met his ears; attempts were made to prove to him—a foreigner—by passages from Pliny, that the souls of men are absolutely identical with those of beasts.†


            While the populace had sunk into almost heathen superstition, and expected their salvation from mere ceremonial observances, but half understood,


the higher classes were manifesting opinions of a tendency altogether anti-religious.


            How profoundly astonished must Luther have been, on visiting Italy in his youth!  At the very moment when the sacrifice of the mass was completed, did the priests utter blasphemous words in denial of its reality!






          It was even considered characteristic of good society, in Rome, to call the principles of Christianity in question. 


"One passes," says P. Ant. Bandino,* [see footnote, below] "no longer for a man of cultivation, unless one put forth heterodox opinions regarding the Christian faith." 


At court, the ordinances of the Catholic church, and of passages from holy Scripture, were made subjects of jest—the mysteries of the faith had become matter of derision.


            We thus see how all is enchained and connected—how one event calls forth another.  The pretensions of temporal princes to ecclesiastical power awaken a secular ambition in the popes, the corruption and decline of religious institutions elicit the development of a new intellectual tendency, till at length the very foundations of the faith become shaken in the public opinion.' 



            [footnote (see above)] '*In Caracciolo's MS. life of Paul IV.  "In quel tempo non pareva fosse galantuomo e buon cortegiano colui che de' dogmi della chiesa non aveva qualche opinion erronea ed heretica." 


[[translation, by author] At that time he seemed neither a gentleman nor a good courtier who did not hold some false and heretical opinion as to the doctrines of the church.]  (App. 9.)'  [end of "§ 3.  Intellectual Tendency."] [56].



            'Strange and delusive destiny of man!  The pope [Leo X] was at his villa of Malliana, when he received intelligence that his party had triumphantly entered Milan; he abandoned himself to the exultation arising naturally from the successful completion of an important enterprise, and looked cheerfully on at the festivities his people were preparing on the occasion.


            He paced backwards and forwards till deep in the night between the window and a blazing hearth†—it was the month of November.  Somewhat exhausted, but still in high spirits, he arrived in Rome, and the rejoicings there celebrated for his triumph were not yet concluded, when he was attacked by a






mortal disease.  "Pray for me," said he to his servants, "that I may yet make you all happy."  We see that he loved life, but his hour was come, he [Leo X] had not time to receive the sacrament nor extreme unction.  So suddenly, so prematurely, and surrounded by hopes so bright!—he died,—"as the poppy fadeth."*  [see footnote, 104]


            The Roman populace could not forgive their pontiff for dying without the sacraments—for having spent so much money, and yet leaving large debts.  They pursued his corpse to its grave with insult and reproach.  "Thou has crept in  like a fox," they exclaimed; "like a lion hast thou ruled us, and like a dog hast thou died."  [see footnote, 104]  After-times, on the contrary, have designated a century and a great epoch in the progress of mankind, by his [Leo X] name.


            We have called him fortunate.  Once he had overcome the first calamity, that after all affected other members of his house rather than himself, his destiny bore him onward from enjoyment to enjoyment, and from success to success; the most adverse circumstances were turned to his elevation and prosperity.  In a species of intellectual intoxication, and in the ceaseless gratification of all his wishes, did his life flow on.  This was in a great measure the result of his own better qualities—of that liberal kindness, that activity of intellect, and ready perception of good in others, which were among his distinguishing characteristics.  These qualities are the fairest gifts of nature—felicitous peculiarities, rarely acquired, but when possessed how greatly do they enhance all life's enjoyments!  His state affairs did but slightly disturb the current of his pleasures:  he did not concern himself with the details, looking only to leading facts; thus he was not oppressed by labour, since it called into exercise the noblest faculties of his intellect only.   It was perhaps precisely because he [Leo X] did not chain his thoughts to business, through every day and hour, that his management of affairs was so comprehensive.  Whatever the perplexity of the moment, never did he lose sight of the one guiding thought that was to light his way; invariably did the essential and moving impulse emanate directly from himself.  At the moment of his death, the purposes he had proposed to himself in the policy he had pursued were all tending towards the happiest results.  It may be considered a further proof of his good fortune that his life was not prolonged.  Times of a different character succeeded, and it is difficult to believe that he could have opposed a successful resistance to their unfavourable influences.  The whole weight of them was experienced by his successors.' 









'* [see 103] There was instant suspicion of poison.  Lettera di Hieronymo Bon a suo barba, a dì 5 Dec., in Sanuto.  "Non si sa certo se 'l pontefice sia morto di veneno.  Fu aperto.  Maistro Ferando judica sia stato venenato: 

alucuno de li altri no:  e di questa opinione Mastro Severino, che lo vide aprire, dice che non è venenato." 


[[translation] It is not certainly known whether the pope died of poison or not.  He was opened.  Master Ferando judged that he was poisoned, others thought not.  Of this opinion is Master Severino, who saw him opened, and says he was not poisoned.]



            [see 103] Capitoli di una lettera scritta a Roma, 21 Dec. 1521.  "Concludo che non è morto mai papa cum peggior fama dapoi è la chiesa di Dio." 


[[translation] I judge there never died a pope in worse repute since the church of God had existence.]'  [67].


        _____     _____     _____          






from:  Leopold von Ranke [1795 – 1886], The Secret of World History, Selected Writings on The Art and Science of History, edited, with translations by Roger Wines, Fordham U., 1981.




Note:  the subjects are:  historians, and problems with history.


"[Leopold von Ranke]....I had now become completely an historian, which was occasioned by my teaching office.  But from the very beginning I combined historical studies with original research and made them my own.  At that time I first read through the Greek and Roman historians, and worked them into my lectures, which made the latter unusually colorful, and won me a certain amount of applause.


            But I did not remain with antiquity.  The public situation induced me to progress toward more recent times....


            Now that I had addressed myself to modern authors, an analogous difficulty became apparent.  When I next turned to the two most reputable writers dealing with the beginnings of modern history, Guiciciardini [Francesco Guicciardini 1483 – 1540, "Italian historian and statesman."  "Leo X made him governor of Reggio in 1516 and Modena in 1517."  (]


and Jovius [Paolo Giovio 1483 – 1552, historian, etc.  Wrote first major biography of Leo X (his friend), 1551 (earlier?)],


I found in comparing them so many unresolved discrepancies that I did not know on which I could chiefly depend.  Jovius is by far the more objective, and reveals a variety of good information about details.  In contrast, Guicciardini is far more informed and informative about the politics of the period.  But it was no more possible to choose between them than to reconcile them, if truth itself were to be my first consideration.  Many other authors of this era could be named, who were supposed to have had their own original information, and it was necessary to draw upon them for comparison to gain a solid ground and foundation.


            It then appeared that Guicciardini, by far the most talented of them all, had disagreements with them ["modern authors"] on some points, and, on the other hand, had copied from them in other places.  Thus a critique of the historians of this period became an inescapable necessity...."  [37-39].


l l l l l






from:  The History of the Popes, From the Close of the Middle Ages.  Drawn from the secret archives of the Vatican and other original sources.  From the German of Dr. Ludwig Pastor [Catholic historian, 1854 – 1928], Professor of History in the University of Innsbruck, and Director of the Austrian Historical Institute in Rome, edited by Ralph Francis Kerr of the London Oratory.  Third Edition.  Volume VII.  Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 40 volumes (1938 – 1968), 1950 (1886 – 1933).





[note:  samples of political involvements].


"Chapter III.


The Conquest of Milan by the French.—The Meeting

Between Leo X. and Francis I. at Bologna.



Francis concentrates his army at Lyons, and renews the alliance with Venice

  Crosses the Alps, surprises and takes prisoner Colonna 115
  The Pope loses courage.  Loss of Alessandria 116
  Giulio de' Medici to reinstate the Bentivogli in Bologna 116
  Irresolution of the Legate, and indecision of the Pope 117
  Vacillation of the Pope 118
  Wolsey raised to the purple 119
  Schinner stirs up the Swiss to fight 119

Francis I. in Lombardy; his position at Marignano attacked by the Swiss

  Victory of the French; reception of the news by Leo 120
  The Swiss abandon Lombardy 122

The Pope's idea of resistance vanishes. Francis disinclined to a war with Leo X


Leo make sup his mind to a change in his policy, but finds it difficult

  The Pope insists on certain conditions in favour of Florence 125
  And sends urgent letters to the French King 125
  On October 11th the French enter Milan 126
  And on the 13th Leo approves the preliminary articles of peace 126


 ...."   [xlv].






"Chapter V.


The Pope's Endeavours to Promote a Crusade,



1513 Leo honestly bent on promoting a Crusade 213
  Sends a Legate to preach the Crusade in Hungary


  But with no success 215
1515 The Pope appeals to all Christian Princes 215

A fleet fitted at Ancona. Venice shows no desire to support the Pope

1516 Danger to Hungary, whose king, Ladislas, dies in March 216
  The Pope sends Orsini to Hungary 216
  And money to the Ban of Croatia 217
  Leo often turned aside by other interests 217

In October endeavours again to stir up the zeal of Christian princes

  High-sounding assurances of Francis I. 218
1517 Mission of von Schönberg to the Emperor 219


                                     ...."   [xlix].



"Political transactions, especially those which concerned the maintenance of the States of the Church, with which the independence of the Holy See was so closely connected, absorbed Leo X. more and more.  Consequently, though most unnaturally[?],


the concerns of the Church fell into the background, and were usually made subordinate to politics."  [5].



            "Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici [to be Leo X] was the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and Clarissa Orsini, being born on the 11th of December 1475.  He was destined by his father for the ecclesiastical state at an age so early as to preclude all possibility of his free consent.  Having been given the tonsure when only seven years of age, he soon, thanks to the powerful influence of his family, received the gift of many rich benefices, abbeys and dignities;† and on the 9th of March, 1489, was made Cardinal!  Innocent VIII [Pope 1484 – 1492 (1432 – 1492)]. consented most unwillingly to the elevation to the purple of this thirteen-year-old boy, and decreed especially that for the next three years Giovanni should neither wear the outward insignia of his dignity nor have either vote or seat in the College of Cardinals.‡  The classical education






of the child-prince [Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici] was undertaken by the most able humanists and learned men of the time, Angelo Poliziano and Bernardo Bibbiena, as well as the holy Marsilio Ficino, who had made the hazardous attempt to combine the platonic cultus with Christianity.*"  [28-29].



            "On the 26th of March the Portuguese Envoy made his obedientia in a public Consistory.  Pacheco delivered the usual discourse, which is a model of the extravagant bombast which was loved and admired at that time.  Leo answered elegantly as well as exhaustively, treating of the necessity of peace among the Christian princes, and of their combination against the infidels.†  Next day there took place the presentation of the gifts, the value of which surpassed even the imagination of contemporary writers.*   The Pope now determined to send to King Emanuel the Golden Rose which he had originally intended for the Emperor.†


            The substantial concessions received by their Envoys were more important in the eyes of the Portuguese.  Leo X. at once granted to the King power of raising a tenth from the Portuguese clergy, as long as the war in Africa lasted.‡  Moreover, by a Bull of June 7th, 1514, King Emanuel [1469 – 1521]


received the right of patronage over all bishoprics and benefices in his actual possessions over the sea, as well as in lands to be conquered by him in the future, and also the incorporation of these benefices in the Order of Christ.§  


On the 3rd of November, this right of patronage in all countries conquered and to be conquered, was extended, not only to the whole Indies, but to all parts of the world as yet unknown.║  But even these marks of favour did not satisfy the generosity of Leo X.¶  In the following year he sent to King Emanuel the Sword and Hat usually blessed by the Pope at Christmas.* 


In this way did the Supreme Head of the Church [Pope Leo X] proclaim before the whole world the value he set on the war which the King of Portugal alone among Christian princes had been found to carry on against the infidel,


by which such brilliant prospects were opened to Christendom."   [Christianism ("Christianity") and Imperialism!  Search  Imperialism] [76-78].






"Chapter II.


The Medici and the Policy of Leo X., 1513–1515.


All Italians are warmly attached to their home and family.  This characteristic, beautiful and noble in itself, but so harmful to many Popes, reached such proportions in Leo X. that, throughout his pontificate, the history of Florence and of the Medici was closely bound up with that of Rome.*


            Two out of his many relatives, Giuliano, his brother, and Giulio his cousin, betook themselves to the Eternal City soon after the termination of the Conclave.  The former, youngest son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, born in 1479, had always been intended for the secular state, as also was Lorenzo, the son of Leo's eldest brother Piero.  As soon as these two arrived, on the 13th of September, 1513, the Roman patriciate was conferred on them with great pomp in the Capitol.‡...."  ["79"].



            'Alexander [Alexander VI] paid heavily for his indifference to all these attacks and accusations.‡  Writings like these exercised a lasting effect on the judgments regarding him, both of his contemporaries and of later times.


            The longer this "incredible liberty" in the expression of opinion lasted in Rome the more freely was it taken advantage of by the enemies of the Borgia.  "Sannazaro certainly wrote his epigrams in a place of comparative security, but others said the most hazardous things at the very doors of the Court."§  Epigrammatic satire developed enormously in literary circles in Rome.  Literary men vied with each other in producing the  most melodramatic and unheard of accusations, and spicing them with the most caustic wit.║


            Alexander was often now loaded with vituperation by the very same persons who had formerly "praised him to the skies."*  Just at this time (1511) Cardinal Caraffa had had an ancient statue, supposed to represent Hercules strangling Geryon, placed on a pedestal just outside his palace, which was situated in one of the most frequented thoroughfares of Rome.†  Burchard relates how, in August 1501, on the pedestal of this antique fragment, which then went by the name of Pasquino (it is now thought to be Ajax with the body of Achilles), a prophecy of the death of the Pope was affixed, which was quickly circulated throughout the whole of Rome.  This prediction, he adds, was posted up in several other parts of the city:*  in the Campo di Fiore, the Bridge of St. Angelo, the doors of the Vatican Library, and the gates of the Papal Palace.  The number of places here mentioned proves that at that time the popular and courtly epigram was not yet a fixed institution in Rome.  Up to the time of Leo X.






the statue of Pasquino is only occasionally mentioned as the place on which epigrams were posted.  It had not yet acquired any special distinction in this respect.  It was in his [Leo's] reign that it ["the statue of Pasquino"] first became the recognised place for affixing all the epigrams and witticisms of the Roman satirists.  It seems thus equally clear that the origin of the Pasquinade literature, centred here, was scholarly rather than popular.  From the year 1504, on the Feast of S. Mark (25th April), this figure was dressed up in masquerade as Minerva, Jupiter, Janus, Apollo, Flora, etc., while the members of the literary circles covered its pedestal with witty epigrams.  For the rest of the year Pasquino relapsed into silence; as yet he was still in the youthful, academic stage of his existence.  [see footnote, below]


            There can be no doubt that the comic poems of that time in Rome were often accompanied by caricatures.  When later (in the year 1509), collections of these Pasquinades began to be made, the pictures were thrown away, and only the epigrams were kept.  Thus valuable materials for the history of culture have been lost and we can never hope to recover them.  Even such things as abortions like, for instance, the monster that was said to have been found in January 1496, at the time of the overflow of the Tiber,* were, as Alexander's misgovernment grew worse and worse, caught hold of by the enemies of the Borgia, and interpreted in their own sense.†'  [115-118].


            [footnote (see above)] ' "Alexander," says LANGE, 32, "as a Sybarite who cared nothing for the opinion of the world, bore these attacks with perfect equanimity, and unless they contained actual threats never took any measures in regard to them.  He looked upon Rome as a privileged place where every one should be left free to speak and write as he pleased."'  [115].



"....the plot to poison Leo X.*


            There is no doubt that Petrucci was the most guilty of the conspirators, and indeed the head of the whole plot; for there is incontrovertible proof of his criminal machinations with Battista da Vercelli.  The sentence of death pronounced against him was carried out once, though the statements vary as to the mode of his execution, and whether he was strangled or beheaded.  There is also great uncertainty whether this young man, twenty-seven years of age, who had cared for nothing but the frivolous enjoyment of life,‡ reconciled his soul to God before he died.§"  [186].






"when it came to the point the Cardinals yielded to the strong will of the Pope more readily than could have been expected.  On the 1st of July [1517] the great nomination took place; only, instead of twenty-seven, thirty-one Cardinals were made [see 190].  The Sacred College gave its consent, not freely, but constrained by fear.§"  [200].



            "Their kinship to the Pope was the sole reason of the nominations of Giovanni Salviati, Niccolò Ridolfi, and Luigi de' Rossi.§"  [203].



            'Parents at that time had so little conscience that they destined for the priesthood and religious life those of their children who were unfitted to make their way in the world; and this for the sole reason of providing for them.  These lamentable circumstances, combined with lack of occupation, absence of a true vocation, and want of theological training, conduced to the immorality of many of the clergy.†  Even when a good and worthy Bishop was found to fulfil his duty, it was difficult, if not impossible, under the circumstances, for him to maintain the necessary discipline.  In the condition of the Episcopate as described above, any abuse could spread unhindered.


The complaints in the 15th century as to the immorality and concubinage of the clergy are very numerous.  But we must always remember that many of the expressions used by preachers and moralists are manifestly exaggerated,‡ and that it stands to reason that more is said about evil and depravity than about what was regular and normal.*  Nor must it be overlooked that there existed in the Church in Germany righteous and serious-minded Bishops, who held synods and carried on a constant warfare—and not always without results—against immorality and other scandals.  There were, moreover, whole districts, such as the Rhine country, Schleswig-Holstein [origin of my paternal Grandfather], and the Allgău, where, as we learn on good authority, the clergy for the most part led irreproachable lives.†  Still there was a superabundance of what was evil.  The condition of the clergy was very bad, especially in Franconia, Westphalia, Bavaria, in the Austrian territories, especially the Tyrol, in the diocese of Constance on the Upper Rhine, and in nearly all the large towns.‡  There was a spiritual proletariat which extended over a large area, and formed a constant danger to the Church, being ready at any moment to attach itself to whatever movement promised to injure her.§






Luxury was combined with immorality among the clergy in a higher position.  "The clergy," says a contemporary, "are to be found in inns and taverns, and at sports and theatres, more frequently than in consecrated places."  These debased tastes were rightly attributed to the abuse of the rights of patronage by both spiritual and lay persons, who often preferred to advance bad and uneducated priests in preference to the worthy.  Contemporaries mention pride and covetousness as the sins which drew down most hatred on the clergy.  Even those who were in other respects better men, were a prey to covetousness.  Complaints were made that even the educated clergy did not devote themselves to their sacerdotal duties, and cared only for the financial advantages of their sacred office.*  The love of money showed itself in all grades of the clergy by their efforts to raise as high as possible the manifold ecclesiastical taxes and revenues, in hunting for and accumulating benefices, in nepotism, and in simony.  Another evil custom which was the outcome of covetousness, was that of serving benefices vicariously, by placing substitutes to serve the rich cures in which they did not care to reside in person.  While they were living in affluence and frequenting the courts of princes and nobles, their office was supplied by scantily-paid vicars.'  [299-301].



            "The influence exercised by Erasmus [1466? – 1536] over the younger school of humanists was portentous.  While on the one hand he filled his disciples with a one-sided enthusiasm for classical antiquity, and a contempt for the ecclesiastical science of the Middle Ages (about which he knew but little), he brought discredit on the study of philosophy.  He accustomed the susceptible youth of the day to despise serious, scientific, and speculative research, and regard rhetoric, witty speech and the art of style as the first requisites of education.  [interesting criticisms of Erasmus.  Validity?]


Jakob Locher, surnamed Philomusus [1471 – 1528], well known as the translator, editor, and expounder of the ancient classics, and also as the author of text-books of classical philosophy, was now in the field with his lawless views of life, and


had taken his stand as the disciple of pure paganism purged from all Christianity ["CHRISTIANITY" = neWER paganism]. 


He recommended the ancient poets, even the most objectionable, as the best, nay, only means for the education of youth."  [316].


_____     _____     _____






from: The History of the Popes, Dr. Ludwig Pastor [Catholic historian, 1854 – 1928], Third Edition.  Volume VIII.  Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1950 (1886 – 1933).


'Vida's [Marco Girolamo Vida 1490 – 1566] poem affords to the reader a more unalloyed pleasure than does the famous epic of Sannazaro [Jacopo Sannazaro 1458 – 1530], perfect though it is in form, on the Nativity of Christ.  In it, and especially in the third book, too much of pagan mythology is employed.‡  Nevertheless, the reality of Sannazaro's Christianity cannot be doubted, any more than can be that of the many other poets who allowed themselves the same license.  Very much that at first sight looks like paganism is in fact mere poetical license, or at most a concession to the language of the classics.*


            In character Sannazaro† does not stand so high as Vida.  This is demonstrated by his relations with Leo X.; he took up the case of the pending marriage of his much-esteemed friend Cassandra Marchese with passionate vehemence.‡  This affair has never been properly explained, because the acts of the process cannot be found;§ it is therefore impossible to say whether


the severe accusations which Sannazaro brought against Leo X.,


on account of his decision in the affair, were well founded or not.║


            In a moment of great excitement the poet [Sannazaro] wrote a mordant epigram in which he ridiculed Leo, and compared him to a blind mole who wanted, against his nature, to be a lion.¶  There is a difference of opinion as to whether these and similar attacks ever came to the ears of the Pope.*  As a matter of fact a very flattering Brief was sent on the 6th of August, 1521, to Sannazaro, in which the Pope requested him to publish the poem on the Nativity of Christ without delay.  This desire was founded, so ran the Brief, on the hope that the Queen of Heaven might be glorified by the poem, which might act as an antidote to the many writings which were composed with evil intent, "While The Church is being rent and tormented by her enemies, do you exalt her to heaven.  Our century will be made famous by the light of thy poem.  On one side, standing against her is Goliath, and on the other the frenzied Saul.  Let the valiant David come forward and overcome the one with his sling, and calm the other with the sweet sound of his harp."† 


It is not transpired what answer Sannazaro gave to this request of the Pope; but a distressing proof of the irreconcilable spirit of the poet is to be found in the abusive epigram which he [Sannazaro] wrote about [or "recycled" for?  (see






234)] Leo immediately after the death of that Pontiff.  He made an unworthy attack on the memory of the deceased, based on the false [?  see 87 (Roscoe)] report‡ that the Pope had died without the last sacraments.§'  [202-204].



            'In order to promote Greek studies in Rome, Leo X. called thither in the first year of his reign the celebrated Giano Lascaris [1445 – 1534]† and his scholar Marcus Musurus.‡  To the former, whose relations with Lorenzo the Magnificent had already been of the closest, was sent a letter composed by Sadoleto in terms of affection and intimacy.§  The letter to Musurus was written by Bembo, who informs him that the Pope earnestly longs to revive the well-nigh extinct knowledge o the language and literature of Greece, and generally to encourage the sciences as far as lies in his power.  He is invited to bring ten or more young men of good abilities from Greece to Rome, in order that the Italians may learn the Greek language correctly from them.  Further information concerning the proposed training college of science would be supplied by Lascaris.║....


            Lascaris stood high in favour with Leo X.; ║ already, in February, 1514, he was named for the nunciature in Venice;¶  In October, 1515, he was entrusted with a weighty diplomatic mission to the King of France, who was sojourning in Upper Italy; he was also, at a later date, admitted to the conferences on the Turkish war.**  In 1518 the great Hellenist undertook a journey to France to give Francis I. the assistance of his counsels in that monarch's endeavours to encourage the study of Greek.*  Lascaris continued to live in Rome† after the death of Leo, and died there about 1535.  Over his grave in S. Agata alla Suburra may be read the pathetic epitaph:  "Here rests Lascaris, among strangers, yet joyfully; for as a Greek he durst not hope for a single spot of free earth in his own fatherland."‡'  [259-261].



            "The eagerness with which Leo supported the study of Oriental languages was also remarkable; his exertions in this direction were connected with the Lateran Council.║


            Brought up among books, Leo X., while Cardinal, had displayed great activity as a collector of manuscripts and printed works.  He took a special delight in illuminated codices, a branch of art in which the Renaissance excelled.*  He shrank from no sacrifice in order to recover the valuable library of his family which the Florentines had confiscated in 1494, and the monks of San Marco had bought.  This he succeeded in doing in 1508.†  The library was now removed to Rome, and henceforward became the chief ornament of his palace at S. Eustachio (now the Palazzo Madama).‡  The charge of this precious






collection, which was freely laid open to all men of learning,§ was entrusted to Varino Favorino.║  One of the first administrative acts of Leo X. was connected with his own library and that of the Vatican.  The two collections were kept separate, the precise regulations bequeathed by Sixtus IV. for the maintenance and use of the literary treasures of the Vatican were re-enforced, and a new librarian was appointed.¶"  [262-263].



            'With regard to the loan of manuscripts, Leo X. was obliged to curtail the liberality of former days, as had indeed become necessary even under Julius II., this being the only way of preventing serious losses.††  In important cases, however, exceptions were permitted.  In order that Cardinal Ximenes might be helped in the completion of his famous Complutensian Polyglot, the Pope gave orders that the requisite Greek manuscripts should be sent from the Vatican Library to Spain, even if they had to be secured with chains of iron.*


            Leo X. was no less zealous than his predecessors in adding to the treasures of books and manuscripts in the Papal collection.  It recalls the days of Nicholas V., when we consider how the Pope had his emissaries in all quarters, from Scandinavia to the East, in search of the monuments of literature.  Among many others entrusted with these behests were Agostino Beazzano, Angelo Arcimboldi, Fausto Sabeo, Johann Heitmers, and Francesco de Rosis.†  In a letter to the last named, Leo explains directly that he considers it one of his most urgent duties to increase the number of copies of ancient authors in order that, under his pontificate, Latinity may flourish once more.‡


            The Pope's personal interest in these literary missions is clearly shown in the letters to ecclesiastical and secular princes in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Gothland, with which Johann Heitmers, the ecclesiastic of Liège, was furnished on the occasion of his mission in 1517.*  "From the beginning of our pontificate," it here runs, "we have, by the help of God, and for His honour and glory, spared neither pains nor money to discover valuable treasures of ancient literature, for the profit as well as the honour of virtuous and especially of learned men."  Heitmers was either to borrow such works , under guarantees from the Apostolic Chamber, for purposes of copying, or, as the Pope greatly preferred, to purchase the originals.  In Heitmers' letters of introduction,† Leo laid the greatest stress on his intention so to advance the reviving knowledge of ancient literature, that the most remarkable productions of antiquity should be preserved and their number increased, both in the present time and for the time to come; at the same time he emphasized his plans for making the newly-acquired classics of Greece and Rome generally accessible by means of printing.  With this end in view a general investigation was to be made






of the libraries of Germany and Scandinavia.  Privileges and special favours would be held out to the owners; those who opposed the scheme were threatened with the greater excommunication.  Heitmers had also authority to appoint assistant commissioners.  The first point of capital importance was to find a perfect copy of the History of Livy, a search which Nicholas V. had promoted with eagerness.  Heitmers had boasted of his knowledge of the existence of such a manuscript, and Leo had promised him a large reward for the discovery.  Fresh hope of a successful issue of his mission was encouraged by the circumstance that Leo X. had come into possession of a manuscript of the first six books of the Annals of Tacitus,* which had already been printed and published in 1515 by Filippo Beroaldo.  This manuscript of Tacitus belonged originally to the monastery of Corvey, whence it was abstracted [extorted!].  In his passion for promoting classical studies, Leo had so few scruples with regard to this method of procuring his spoils, that in one of the letters entrusted to Heitmers, he speaks quite openly of the abstraction [extortion] of the manuscript, which had passed through many hands, and had, at length, come into his possession, and adds for the Abbot's consolation:  "We have sent a copy of the revised and printed books in a beautiful binding to the Abbot and his monks, that they may it place in their library as a substitute for the one taken from it.  But in order that they may understand that this purloining has done them far more good than harm, we have granted them for their Church a plenary indulgence."†


            At the end of Beroaldo's edition of Tacitus* we see the Pope's arms, and under them the words:  "In the name of Leo X. great rewards are promised to those who send him ancient writings which have not yet been made known."  The edition also contains a Papal privilege against unauthorized impressions of the work.  In this Leo justifies, in eloquent language, the warmth with which he pursues the advancement of heathen literature: 


"[Leo X.] Since God called us to the high dignity of the Pontificate we have devoted ourselves to the government and extension of the Church, and, among other objects, we have conceived it to be our duty to foster especially literature and the fine arts:  for, from our earliest youth we have been thoroughly convinced that, next to the knowledge and true worship of the Creator, nothing is better or more useful for mankind than such studies, which are not only an adornment and a standard of human life, but are also of service in every circumstance; in misfortune they console us, in prosperity they confer joy and honour, and without them man would be robbed of all social grace and culture.  The security and the extension of these studies seem to demand two conditions:  on the one hand, they require a sufficient number of learned and scholarly men, and, on the other, an unlimited supply of first-rate books.  With regard to the first, we hope, through God's help, to have already made it evident






that it is our warmest desire and firm determination to honour and reward their deserts, which has indeed ever been our greatest joy.  As regards the acquisition of books, we give God thanks that in the present instance we have a further opportunity of rendering useful service to our fellow-men."*


            Certainly no Pope had given stronger marks of his appreciation of the importance of the ancient classics.  But while fully recognizing Leo's enthusiasm for the authors of antiquity, it ought not to be passed over in silence that his interest in them was sometimes carried too far, as, for example, when he accepted the dedication of the first edition of a poem by Rutilius Namatianus, unconcerned by the circumstances that this fervent worshipper of the gods described the teaching of the Christian Church as worse than the poison of Circe, in so far as the latter only transformed the bodies, but the former the minds of men.†  Nor was it without significance also that Reuchlin in 1517 ventured to dedicate his "Kabbala" to Leo X.  Certainly, two years later, Hochstraten was able to publish his "Destruction of the Kabbala," with a dedication to the same Pontiff.‡  In fact, the number of writings dedicated to Leo was so great that a complete enumeration of them is impossible in the space at our disposal.§'  [265-270].



            'In spite of the Pope's [Leo X.] extraordinary efforts, the additions to the Vatican Library were not so large as might have been expected.  From the inventories we find that the total number of volumes did not exceed 4070 as against 3560 under Sixtus IV.  The golden age for the acquirement of new manuscripts was over; the competition of the printers proved an obstacle.*  Moreover, the low state of the Papal finances must have acted detrimentally.  Without doubt such was the case with respect to the Roman University;† Leo certainly showed no lack of zeal in his endeavours to prop up this institution.  A new era seemed to open before it when, on the 5th of November, 1513, a Papal Constitution was published enjoining several wholesome reforms.*  The principal of these consisted in a re-enactment of the regulations of Eugenius IV.; important privileges and adequate revenues were to ensure the prosperity of the University.  With regard to the professors, it was prescribed that they should devote themselves exclusively to their professional duties and deliver their lectures punctually; in addition to the latter, they were from time to time to give oral instruction to their pupils on the subjects treated in their courses; thus a sort of seminary was formed, perhaps the first of its kind known in the history of universities.  On the 20th of September, 1514, Leo X. sanctioned the erection of a private chapel in the University buildings and the foundation of a Provotship with two chaplains under the patronage of the Medici; in the chapel, moreover, were to be held the academic ceremonies, such as the conferring of doctors' degrees, public disputations, and other functions.†  The teaching strength of the






University was extended by invitations to scholars outside.  The most distinguished among the teachers secured by the Pope were the philosopher Agostino Nifo, the doctor of medicine Christoforo Aretino, the jurist Girolamo Botticella, and the humanists Giampaolo Parisio and Basilio Calcondila, the first of whom was Professor of Rhetoric and the second of Greek.  A special chair of Hebrew was also erected.*  If the professors whom he invited were otherwise under engagements, Leo endeavoured in "the public interest" to free them, since the Roman University, as far as possible, was to have the most illustrious staff of teachers.†  ....'  [271-273].



"The support which Leo X. gave to men of letters and to scholars turns out, on nearer scrutiny, to have been only too often misapplied, and, moreover, to have been narrower in its scope than contemporary and later panegyrists have represented it to be.  The direct results of the literary influence of Leo X. were, despite the high-pitched encomiums of his admirers, practically insignificant.  There is more legend than truth in the view, so often presented, in which he presides over an era of literary progress and productiveness.*  He has usurped the right to give his name to an epoch of which the foundations had been laid and the ways opened by his predecessors.†  [[part of the footnote]  "Leo X. as patron of letters is celebrated in an exaggerated and uncritical way by ROSCOE, whose life of Leo the Tenth appeared in Liverpool in 1805 (in German first by Von Henke, Leipzig, 1806; in Italian, with many valuable additions by Bossi, Milano, 1816–17)."  [277]].  He cannot be considered the leader of an age of which he was in every particular the offspring, swayed hither and thither by its most varying tendencies, by the noble and the ignoble, by the lofty and the base.*  The unique reputation which his partisans have conferred upon him must give way before the sober verdict of critical examination; his actual services, which cannot be denied, fall far short of his renown.


            The love of science and literature which inspired the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent often took the form of literary dilettantism.†  Like most of his contemporaries, he overvalued in a remarkable way the poets of that day, whose compositions were as often as not distinguished only by elegance of style.  In his quick enthusiasm he was much too easily satisfied.  It was sufficient for him if a letter, a speech, or a poem was gracefully turned; he very often overlooked the contents for the form.  In the distribution of his favours he had by no means a happy hand; he lavished his rewards without method and without discrimination.  He [LEO X] took equal pleasure in real poets, improvisatori, and the class of persons who cannot be included among the men of letters, but can only find a place among jesters and






He [Leo X] too often took everything merely as a pastime or theatrical representation;† the patron of a Baraballo and a Fra Mariano was wanting in seriousness and force of character, as well as in taste and judgment. 


            The splendour of the Leonine age, so often and so much belauded, is in many respects more apparent than real.  Like a brilliant display of fireworks, it leaves nothing more behind it than the recollection.  Not only in the sphere of pure science do we look in vain for really great works; even in that of polite literature the conventional tributes of praise must be largely discounted.‡  There is nothing really of first-rate excellence except the poems of Vida and Sannazaro.  Leo's importance is limited to this, that he was before all else a stimulating force; in this respect he undoubtedly rendered manifold services.  We must not depreciate the general impulse which he gave to artistic as also to literary and scientific life.  It was his work to create in Rome an intellectual atmosphere, a "milieu" without which even Raphael [1483 – 1520] would not have reached such ripe maturity.  To him also it was due, to a great extent, that humanism spread its influence over such an appreciably large portion of Europe.§ [see footnote, below]  This was of no small importance in the history of the development of Western civilization; the Renaissance literature of Italy pointed out the way to the Romance nations, in which, by a felicitous combination of antique and national elements, they should produce works of classical perfection.* 


Not less important was the advance made in the knowledge and appreciation of antiquity.†  All this was more or less affected by the favour and encouragement given by Leo X. to the Renaissance of literature.  Therefore, undoubtedly a certain share in the renown of the Papacy, as one of the foremost educators of the world, belongs to the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent [1449 – 1492].  Much more must history greet his [Leo X] name with honour and gratitude when she reflects on the protection given to art by the first Pope of the House of Medici.'  [end of Chapter VI.] [277-280].


[footnote (see above)] '§ Masi has recently called attention to this (I., 211) strongly.  BURCKHARDT long before had already given his opinion (Kultur der Renaissance, I., 3rd ed., 266):  "What the humanists have effected in Europe since 1520 or thereabouts, has been conditioned entirely by the impulse given to them by Leo."  GEIGER speaks in the same sense in the Zeitschr. F. Renaissance, Lit. I., 147, of "the permanent place which Leo has won for himself in the history of the human mind."'  [279].






"APPENDIX."  [465-511]


'22.  The "Leonine Letters" of P. Bembo [1470 – 1547].


Among the sources for the history of Leo X., the numerous Latin letters of the private secretary P. Bembo, written during his term of office, hold a foremost place.  They have not lost in importance since access was given to the Secret Archives of the Vatican.  The latter contain such a very incomplete collection of the Pope's letters, that it must be considered fortunate for our historical knowledge that such a famous master of style as Bembo should have taken with him a portion of the Papal Registers, and published it subsequently, under Paul III., at Venice,* [see footnote, below] 1535–1536:  "Libri sexdecim epistolarum Leonis X., P.M. nominee scriptarum" (see our remarks, supra, p. 193 seq.; also Kalkoff, Forschungen, 15).  The question, whether Bembo, in this edition, had introduced alterations, had occupied at an early date no less a scholar than Raynaldus.  In his "Annales," 1513, n. 100, he remarks:  "Excusae typis ipsae litterae a Petro Bembo fuere inter alias quas Leonis nomine....


            This [remark by Raynaldus, in Latin, regarding:  "whether Bembo, in this edition, had introduced ALTERATIONS"], as we shall see, most pertinent observation has, unfortunately, passed unnoticed, although Ranke has adopted it in his "Zur Kritik," 87*–88*.  Not only heated adversaries of the Renaissance such as Gaume, but even such a scientific inquirer as Professor Piper of Berlin, in his "Mythologie der christl.  Kunst" (I., 286), has, like many others, taken the classical phraseology in Bembo's Leonine Letters as conclusive evidence of the inroads made by paganism in the Curia of Leo X.; even Sabbadini still holds this view (Ciceronianismo, 52).'  [482-483].  [this discussion ends the text, on page 511].


            [footnote (see above)] "*This edition is the most correct; the better-known edition of Basle, 1539, already showed certain variations in the text, which were not, however, of great importance."  [483].


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from:  Jacopo Sadoleto, 1477 – 1547, Humanist and Reformer, Richard M. Douglas, Harvard University Press, 1959.  [I thank Lewis W. Spitz, Luther and German Humanism, 1996, chapter VII, 111, for stimulating this research].





Papal Secretary


The Court of Leo X


Before leaving the Conclave in which he was elected on March 11, 1513, Leo X appointed both Bembo and Sadoleto to the Apostolic Secretariat with the rank of Domestic Prelate and the title of Domestic Secretary.1  This nomination was the new Pope's first gesture of deference to the Roman Academy and likewise his acknowledgement of a tradition by which papal secretaries were chosen on the basis of their literary talent rather than for their experience in curial affairs.  Thus the new appointees stood in the line of Poggio, Flavio Biondo, Leonardo Bruni, and Aeneas Sylvius, selected to draft the official Latin documents through which the Pope communicated with heads of state and members of the hierarchy.2"  [14].



'While the ailing Bembo took his ease in the Vatican gardens, Sadoleto replied that although he wanted nothing more than to go to Carpentras [France] and resume his studies, he saw no honorable way at present to leave the Secretariat.53  Desire again yielded to duty, for the Curia was currently engrossed in delicate arbitration with the princes; with four Legations afield the business of the Camera was exceptionally heavy.


            Bembo, however, was far less responsive to the obligations of his office.  In late April 1519 he left Rome for Venice on the plea of bad health, perfunctorily fulfilling a papal mission at Mantua en route.  Ill and burdened with debts, he went north, as he put it, to seek the healing effects of Venetian air and stayed for over a year.  Once back in Rome he detected that Sadoleto, like himself, had grown restive in the Vatican but predicted that the Pope could probably persuade his colleague to stay on.54  While Jacopo [Sadoleto] won momentary relief from his duties, he did nothing to break away from them, irritated though he was by the rigors of the active life and aware that he had already floundered in it too long.55  He told Longueil of his craving for quiet and even wrote of going to Carpentras; what mattered most, however, was "to bring forth something from myself" and to plunge into serious study and writing.






            At no time in his earlier career had Sadoleto stated his intentions so positively or defended the literary vocation so emphatically against the vita activa.  On the other hand, the letter to Longueil is merely the praise of something still out of reach.56  He had resolved, he said, to devote his energy as much as possible to scholarly pursuits.  But even the promise has a ring of futility, for he went on to complain of the confusion in the city and of the strain he found in trying to work in a place "so likely to deceive and disturb the mind."  Rome, or at least the Vatican, had become an abomination.


            In the early summer of 1521 Bembo decided to leave the Curia for good, again on the pretext of poor health but actually for more complex reasons.57  One was his affection for Fausta Morosina, whom he had taken from Rome to Venice in 1519, and his desire to live with her again.58  There was also his disappointed hope for a red hat as the means of financial independence.  But just as compelling was his disenchantment with the Curia and the Pope's style of patronage, which in Bembo's eyes was fatuous, chaotic, and uncritical.59  He longed for Padua, for its climate and calm, and above all for freedom to write.  Therefore what passed again for a leave of absence was tacitly understood to be his [Bembo's] resignation from the Secretariat.'  [25-26].







It was the repeated opinion of Erasmus that curial policy toward Luther and his followers was wrong from the start.  If these heretics, he argued, had been handled like the Hussites, the present crisis might never have started, or at least would have been brought under control.  By magnifying Luther's importance instead of ignoring him, by selecting intransigents to represent the Curia in Germany, and by failing to commit the issue to temperate and prudent heads, the Church had permitted a minor incident to become a major catastrophe.1  As he once wrote to Sadoleto, "if this matter had been turned over to men like yourself, conditions would be less aggravated everywhere."


            The tribute, however, was not entirely deserved.  Sadoleto himself showed far less consistency on this haunting question than his friend [Erasmus] imagined.  In late life, to be sure, he agreed that the initial spread of heresy arose from needless severity and blundering in the Curia, but in saying so the Bishop [Sadoleto (made Bishop of Carpentras (France) by Leo X, 1517)] forgot that he himself had been the author and instrument of the Pope's strong measures against Luther in 1520–21....'  [115].






            'On June 17 Sadoleto wrote his celebrated letter to Melanchthon, greeting him affectionately as "mi Philippe," "mi doctissime Melanchthon."11  Here again Sadoleto introduced himself, writing quite as cordially as he did to Duke George, but now as one humanist to another in the "super-confessional community" of the learned.12  Sadoleto's name and reputation had long been known in German Protestant circles, however, so that he was no stranger to Wittenberg.  Commenting on the letter to Melanchthon, Luther described the author as one "who was a papal secretary for fifteen years, certainly an able and cultivated man...but cunning and artful withal, in the Italian manner...."  Luther also repeated his observation that Sadoleto had no understanding of theology and surmised that in writing to Melanchthon he was only preparing the way to bribe Philip [Melanchthon] back to Rome, perhaps at papal instigation, with the offer of a red hat.13  Such a rumor, though chronic in Wittenberg, seems hardly to explain Sadoleto's intentions, although his motives are not entirely self-evident....'  [118] [this informative affair, continues to page 124.  Melanchthon did not reply.  Catholics were irate with Sadoleto.  Complex!].



"For the present, however, Rome took no visible steps to silence or chasten Sadoleto, although Eck and Cochlaeus were ultimately vindicated, for Sadoleto's letter ["July 15, 1538" (131-132)] to Sturm was placed on the Index ["Index librorum prohibitorum"] of 1559.89"  [135].  [Very interesting!  A letter of Cardinal (1536) Sadoleto, "placed on the Index"].



            'The ultimate effect of Sadoleto's letters was merely to bring embarrassment and further censure upon himself at home, and to solidify Protestant leadership abroad, while widening in a small way the gulf between Italy and the North.  The replies of Sturm and Calvin to Sadoleto, for instance, brought praise from Luther in a letter to Martin Bucer during the fall of 1539:


[Luther] Health to you, and pray give reverent respects to Masters Sturm and Calvin, whose little books I have read with unusual pleasure.  I should hope for Sadoleto that he believe God is the creator of men even outside Italy.  But this opinion does not penetrate Italian hearts, since they alone above all others put aside perception for pride.33


Melanchthon observed that Calvin's answer to Carpentras [Sadoleto] earned new esteem for him at Wittenberg; more than that, it seemed to help draw Calvin and Luther out of the mutual skepticism with which they once regarded one another.  Luther was later seen rereading Calvin's answer to Sadoleto, complimenting it again as a thing with "head and feet" as he rode to visit the ailing Melanchthon in 1542.  But on these replies from Strasbourg, not a word at






Carpentras [Sadoleto].  In Germany, however, Cochlaeus and his friends kept up their protests to the Vatican about the damaging effects of Sadoleto's practices as a misguided agent of reunion.34'  [149].



            'To Sadoleto the substance of the Church is the clergy, and if the Church is the collective means of salvation, the priest is the particular instrument in a world inimical to God.  It is through the sacerdotium that we are sanctified; the priest is mediator and interpreter of God's law, the vessel of divinity who conveys the promise and the means of salvation.43  Whatever the Church may be at any point in history necessarily depends, therefore, on the condition of the priesthood.  The contemporary Church, "as a result of the sinking of its foundations, will list over toward collapse and ruin unless it be rebuilt on new bases...after the model of its ancient form."  The genius of the early Church was its vigilance over the clergy.  "Our wise and saintly ancestors," Sadoleto admonished, knew the value of a disciplined and well-educated priesthood, and respected the distinctions between priestly orders.  Unless the clergy is soon brought back to this condition by the strict enforcement of traditional law, the destruction of the Church is inevitable.  Here Sadoleto shared the conviction so common to most humanist critics of the Church that reform is a matter of restoration and the return from present corruption to past purity[sic].44'  [151-152].



            'As it turned out, Sadoleto's health was more precarious than the Pope's [Paul III] at the end of a summer which took a heavy toll in the Sacred College.  Ardinghelli died on August 22 and Badia on September 6, while in the meantime Ascanio Sforza, Sirleto, and Sadoleto agonized with what were probably malarial fevers.50  Cervini found Sadoleto gravely ill on August 27 and noted the illness again on the thirtieth, but the Cardinal lingered on for seven more weeks.51  At this time he was living at Sta. Maria in Trastevere, apparently having given up his apartment on the Esquiline in order to be closer to the Vatican.  After the middle of August we hear of him only as some one seriously ill.  He [Sadeleto] died on October 18, 1547, at the age of seventy.52


            When news of the Cardinal's death reached Modena a week later and Lancellotti recorded it in his diary, he mentioned a rumor that Sadoleto had been murdered on papal orders:


[Lancellotti] They say that Pope Paul did not like him caldemente because when in consistory he tried to make his son Pierluigi Duke of Parma and Piacenza, Sadoleto refused to consent; and when His Holiness tried to make his nephew [sic] Cardina [Cardinal] Farnese pontifical coadjutor, the Most Reverend Sadoleto also objected:  and






dealt likewise with another proposal....[sic]  It is said that he was made to die for such contradictions.53


Ciacconius recorded but dismissed the legend that Sadoleto, for unknown reasons, was poisoned.54  To the popular imagination of this era a natural death was an unnatural end to the life of a public figure, but the rumor in this case is scarcely credible.  More significant is the accurate account by a Modenese [inhabitant of Modena] diarist [Lancellotti] of Sadoleto's opposition to Paul III and the Farnese family.  Even in death Sadoleto was remembered as a Cardinal who was no man's man.


            His code name in secret correspondence between Trent and the Curia had been either "mio padre" or "Don Bernardino."55  The first has the ring of respect and affection for the venerable and somewhat irascible Bishop of Carpentras [Sadoleto], but "Don Bernardino" seems better to convey his spirited independence, his willingness to be counted with a minority, or to stand quite alone.'  [212-213].





Sadoleto and Erasmus:  1534–1536


The last surviving exchange of letters between Sadoleto and Erasmus took place between October 1534 and December 1534, and bears largely on issues related to Sadoleto's Commentaries on Paul's Epistle to the Romans.  It began when each wrote to inquire about the mystery of the other's silence—Erasmus on October 31 and Sadoleto on November 1.1  Erasmus, however, confessed to an anxiety far more severe and self-accusing, fearful that he had chilled Sadoleto's good will in the course of evaluating his work on the first Epistle.2  At the same time he arranged to send the Bishop one of the three copies he had recently bought of Melanchthon's Commentary on Romans, evidently the edition of 1532, a gesture which Giulio Vallese and Giuseppe Toffanin regard as a kind of cryptic warning, intended to say that "Melanchthon also was a theologian."3  Toffanin further raises the possibility that Jacopo's treatise brought on an estrangement between himself and Erasmus, on the ground that Erasmus may now have suspected his friend of moving into the arena of controversial or polemical theology.


            A more specific clue, however, is Erasmus' statement in a letter to Boniface Amerbach that Sadoleto had shown ingratitude for his criticism of the Commentaries.4  We know also from a letter to Damian à Goes that Erasmus felt he had warned the Bishop in vain that this treatise was clearly headed toward






trouble.5  For his part, when he wrote to Erasmus again on December 9, 1534, Sadoleto warmly and casually assured his friend of continuing affection and expressed his appreciation of Erasmus' efforts as a critic of this work.  "How I wish," he [Sadoleto] wrote, "that you might always be near me as my 'corrector et magister'...", reminding Erasmus that honest criticism is an obligation which strengthens ties between friends.6  With this letter, said P.S. Allen, "Erasmus' apprehensions were finally laid to rest."7  And although he never overcame his reservations about the Commentaries, Erasmus in the last year of his life was willing to describe Sadoleto as "illud eximium huius aetatis decus Iacobus Sadoletus, admirabili sermonis nitore, et copia plane Ciceroniana, nec deest affectus episcopo Christiano dignus."8


            M. Renaudet has recently stated that "Sadoleto probably remained the  most loyal friend Erasmus had," and Professor Schätti observes that among the Catholic reformers of the 1530's none was closer to Erasmus than Sadoleto.9  But why then is there not a single trace of further correspondence from either side between December 1534 and July 1536, when Erasmus died?  Why do Erasmus' previously recurrent references to Sadoleto vanish so abruptly from letters written during the last eighteen months of his life?  The most likely basis for conjecture is the mutual misunderstanding which developed while Sadoleto was working on the Commentaries.  Dr. Allen may have been perfectly correct in the opinion that Erasmus dismissed his fears of having alienated the Bishop when he received Sadoleto's letter of December 9, 1534; but the inference cannot be supported by anything from Erasmus' hand.


            It is just as plausible to suggest that although each accepted the other's assurances of respect and esteem, Sadoleto may have chosen to avoid the risk of future misunderstanding altogether and thus decided not to ask Erasmus to read the Hortensius, for example, while it was being circulated for criticism.  Erasmus in turn seems clearly to have found the Bishop rather deaf to admonition,10 and may well have been content to be spared from future consultation.  In any event the exchange of manuscripts ended with the last surviving exchange of letters at the end of 1534.  We cannot infer a serious strain in their relations after this point.  Nevertheless, the exchange of manuscripts in preparation was usually the ritual test and symbol of confidence between humanists of this generation.  We may conclude [guess] therefore that by tacitly agreeing no longer to involve one another as "corrector et magister," Sadoleto and Erasmus removed a crucial link in their friendship through an honest effort to protect and preserve it.'  [223-224] [end of text].


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from:  Crises in the History of the Papacy, A Study of Twenty Famous Popes whose Careers and whose Influence Were Important in the Development of the Church and in the History of the World, by Joseph McCabe [1867 – 1955], G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1916.



"Alexander VI., the Borgia-Pope"  [240]


"During that year he [Alexander VI, Pope 1492 – 1503 (1431 – 1503)]  had a narrow escape from death, owing to the fall of the roof of the Sala de' Pape, and Lucrezia's husband was cut to pieces in his chamber by the soldiers, and at the command, of Caesar [Caesar Borgia, Son of the Pope].  These events hardly dimmed the joy of the Pope."  [261].



"Leo X. and the Dance of Death"  [285]


            "For more than a century, there had been a critical scrutiny of the bases of Papal power, and to a large extent the Papacy had escaped the consequences by a greater liberality toward rulers and by sharing with them the wealth it extracted from the people.  France maintained the Pragmatic Sanction, which Rome detested, and other countries gave rather the impression of federation than of abject submission to a spiritual autocracy.  Moreover, while the pressure of the central power was eased, doctrinal rebellion seemed to make little progress.  Lollardism was extinct, Hussitism confined to a sect, Savonarolism murdered.  Yet the Reformation was coming, and we see now that Luther was but the instrument of its deliverance.


            It is impossible here to discuss all the causes of the Reformation, and a few considerations will suffice for my purpose.  Printing had been invented and printed sheets were being circulated.  Men were now reading—which provokes independent reflection—rather than sitting at the feet of oracular schoolmen.  Among the books which poured out from the press, moreover, the Bible—in spite of a popular fallacy on that subject—occupied an important place, even in the vernacular.  Further—and this was most important of all—the last great extension of the Papal fiscal system, the granting of indulgences for money, was in one important respect based on a novel speculation of the schoolmen and was not supported by Biblical Christianity.  The realization of this stimulated men to get behind the fences of Decretals and scholastic speculations, and to claim a reform which should be something more than the substitution of a good Pope for a bad Pope.  Finally the renewed corruption of the Papal Court under Leo X. set this psychological machinery in conscious motion."  [286-287].






[part of footnote (not referenced above)] "....Roscoe's stately Life and Pontificate of Leo X. (1805 [first edition]) is too flattering to its hero and is discredited in places by more recent research."  [291].



'His [Leo X] next step was to seize the duchy of Urbino for his nephew Lorenzo:  a step which, after all his apologies, Dr. Pastor [see 106] admits to have "something repulsive about it."'  [294].



            "A fresh anxiety clouded the Pope's pleasures when he heard that France, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland had formed an alliance, and that Francis I. and Charles V. (who succeeded Ferdinand on January 23d) were virtually to divide northern and central Italy between them.  This project was abandoned, but in the following year an even more serious event alarmed the Pope.  The younger cardinals who had pressed his election were generally aggrieved.  Fast and luxurious as most of them were, they had expected a larger pecuniary gratitude on Leo's part, and they observed with annoyance that his relatives and his literary admirers secured the greater part of his lavish gifts.  In 1517, one of these worldly young cardinals, Petrucci, conceived a particular animosity against Leo, on account of some injustice done to his brother, and there is little room for doubt that he spoke and thought of having the Pope assassinated.  Whether or no we trust the romantic story told by Guicciardini and Giovio, that the surgeon who attended the Pope was to poison his wound, we can hardly accept the opposite rumour, that the whole conspiracy was invented by the Pope or his brother in order to secure money.  Petrucci was not offered the option of a fine; and Cardinals Riario and Sauli confessed that they knew of the plot.  After a dramatic period of inquiry and incrimination Petrucci was, in spite of the protests of cardinals and ambassadors, strangled in his prison, and the flesh of his guilty servants was torn from their bones with red-hot pincers.  Cardinal Riario paid 150,000 ducats for his release, and the less wealthy Cardinal Sauli 25,000.  Cardinals Soderini and Castellesi fled, when they were impeached, and their property and that of Cardinal Petrucci was seized."  [295-296].



'It is an equally undisputed fact that on January 20, 1519, Leo, Lorenzo, and Francis entered into an alliance; the Pope and his nephew were to promote the interests of Francis, and the French King was to protect the Papal States and the estates of the Medici family, and to admit the claims of the Church at Milan.  It is, perhaps, the choicest example of Leo's diplomacy—"unparalleled double-dealing," Dr. Pastor calls it—that he secretly drew up a similar treaty with Spain and signed it a fortnight after he had signed the preceding (February 6th).'  [297].






'In May, hearing that the French were approaching the Swiss and the Duke of Ferrara, he [Leo X] formed an alliance with Charles and prepared to use all his forces to drive his former ally out of Italy.  The campaign opened successfully, but Leo did not live to see the issue and profit by it.  He caught a chill as he sat at an open window in November watching the popular rejoicing, and died on December 1st, at the age of forty-two [45].  Both the leading authorities, Giovio and Guicciardini, accept the current belief that either the Duke of Ferrara or the late Duke of Urbino had had him poisoned, but it is now generally recognized that the recorded symptoms of his seven days' illness point rather to malaria.


            This admitted career of duplicity will not dispose us to expect a domestic atmosphere of virtue and piety at the Vatican, and it is singular that any historian has affected to find such.  That Leo heard or said mass daily, and was attentive to his ceremonious obligations, is not, in that age, inconsistent with impropriety of conduct.  His lavish charity was a becoming part of his habitual liberality, and his weekly fasts were rather intended to reduce the flesh than to subdue it.  On the other hand, some of the frivolous remarks attributed to him [Leo X] have not the least authority. 


When the Venetian ambassador ascribes to him [LEO X] the saying,


"Let us enjoy the Papacy now that God has given it to us,"


we may or may not have a mere popular rumour, though the phrase is at least a correct expression of Leo's ideal; but that the Pope ever mockingly attributed his good fortune to


"the fable about Jesus Christ" is not stated [in published writing] until long[?] after his death


[Leo X died 1521; John Bale [1495 – 1563] published the above concept, 1558, in Acta Romanorum Pontificum (material for the book was probably gathered "1540–48" [see 161])],


and then only by an English controversialist, the ex-Carmelite Bale.  Whether Leo was or was not addicted to sins of the flesh is not a grave matter of historical inquiry, but the evidence seems to me conclusive that, at least in his Pontifical days, he was irregular.'  [299-300].






            '"The splendour of the Leonine age, so often and so much belauded, is in many respects more apparent than real," says Dr. Pastor [see 106], who has several valuable chapters on Leo's relation to letters and art.  The Roman University, which the Pope at first supported with great liberality, was suffered to decay, and great artists were not always encouraged.  Ariosto was treated harshly, and, while Rafael and his pupils were richly employed, Michael Angelo was little used.  Leo did not adequately appreciate sculpture or architecture, and even the building of St. Peter's made very little progress during his Pontificate.  It is true that the state of the Papal finances was the chief reason for the neglect of the great architectural and educational plans of his predecessors.  The check to the sale of indulgences—brought about by Cardinal Ximenes [Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros 1436 – 1517] in Spain as well as by Luther in Germany—was felt severely at Rome.1  But we read that


to the end Leo spent prodigious sums on musicians, decorators, goldsmiths, and jewelers.'  [301].


_____     _____     _____






from:  A Rationalist Encyclopaedia, A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and Science, Joseph McCabe [1867 – 1955] [former Catholic Priest (13 years)], Watts, 1948.  Republished by Gryphon Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1971.



            'Leo X (ruled 1513–21), Pope.  Although he is not usually counted one of the "few bad Popes," Leo was a thoroughly vicious and unscrupulous man, and, in view of the position of the Church on the eve of the Reformation, one of the most scandalous Popes of the series.  Son of Lorenzo de Medici, and profanely destined by that prince for a clerical career (whatever his character might prove to be), he became a cleric at the age of seven and a cardinal at the age of fourteen.  Abnormally fat and unhealthy, and gravely ill with fistula, in the election-chamber he bribed his way to the Papal chair through friends, and settled down to a life of vulgar display and sensuous enjoyment.  His health compelled him to be temperate at table, but he had about him a crowd of unscrupulous adventurers and professional buffoons.  He loved to sit at indecent comedies in the Vatican, some of which were composed by his favourite, Cardinal Bibiena [Bibbiena] 1470 – 1520 (suspicion of poison (Internet:  "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church"))], the most immoral man of the Papal Court.  Catholics boast that he [Leo X] was at least chaste, unlike his predecessors and successors, but they are untruthful about the evidence.  Guiccardini, the greatest historian of the Middle Ages and a Catholic, says that


Leo was not accused of vice before his election, but "he was afterwards found to be excessively devoted to pleasures which cannot be called decent" (Storia d'Italia, lib. XVI, C.V, p. 254, in the 1832 edition), and the Pope's friend and biographer, Bishop Giovio [Paolo Giovio 1483 – 1552], discusses at length (Vita Leonis X, lib. IV, pp. 96-9, in the 1551 edition) the charge that he was addicted to sodomy, and lamely concludes—he obviously believes it—that it is difficult to be sure on such secret matters, and that in any case the Pope was no worse than other Italian princes. 


In diplomacy [Leo X.] he was admittedly the most dishonest prince in Europe, and he used the most corrupt means of raising money [see Indulgences] at the very time when Luther's revolt began.  He did nothing for literature and little for art, as Pastor [Ludwig Pastor 1854 – 1928] admits, yet he spent (largely on jewels, banquets, and favourites) at least 5,000,000 ducats (equal to £10,000,000 in modern money) in eight years, and left behind debts of nearly £1,000,000. 






The statement that he [LEO X] said,


"We owe all this to the fable of Jesus Christ,"


appears in the work of an ex-priest [john bale 1495 – 1563] long[? (see 129)] after his [LEO'S] death, and we cannot check it. 



[john bale? 1495 – 1563 (Acta Romanorum Pontificum, 1558; published in English, 1574, as The Pageant of Popes), is a problematic fit; and, Joseph McCabe (a Priest for 13 years) might have missed Acta Romanorum Pontificum, 1558.  Still (thanks to the tip from "James Patrick Holding"), with scant extant critics, John Bale, seemingly, is the "ex-priest"]


[laughing!  weeks after writing the above, I (LS) found this, seemingly serendipitously, on the U.C.S.D. library shelf:  McCabe's Crises in the History of the Papacy, 1916, page 300: 


'"THE FABLE ABOUT JESUS CHRIST" is not stated until long [is 37 years "long"?] after his [LEO'S] death [1521], and then ONLY by an English controversalist, the ex-Carmelite [see 36] Bale.']



Encyclopaedia articles on Leo are based upon Roscoe's Life and Pontificate of Leo X (4 vols., 1805), which is very unreliable[? (see 80)].  Dr. Pastor, the chief modern Catholic historian, admits all[?] the above facts, except the charge of sodomy, in his History of the Popes (vol. VIII).  See also H.M. Vaughan, The Medici Popes (1908), and for a summary sketch McCabe's Crises (1916), which gives the complete literature.' [357] [End of entry].


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from:  Catholic Encyclopedia (online):  Pope Leo X [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)]:



            'It is proper, however, to pay full credit to the good qualities of Leo.  He was highly cultivated, susceptible to all that was beautiful, a polished orator and a clever writer, possessed of good memory and judgment, in manner dignified and majestic.  It was generally acknowledged, even by those who were unfriendly towards him, that he was unfeignedly religious and strictly fulfilled his spiritual duties.  He heard Mass and read his Breviary daily and fasted three times a week.  


His piety cannot truly be described as deep or spiritual, but that does not justify the continued repetition of his alleged remark: 


"How much we and our family have profited by the legend of Christ, is sufficiently evident to all ages." 


John Bale [(note:  no dates given) 1495 – 1563], the apostate English Carmelite, the first to give currency to these words in the time of Queen Elizabeth, was not even a contemporary [overstated!  bluff!] of Leo [1475 – 1521].


Among the many sayings of Leo X that have come down to us, there is not one of a skeptical nature. 


In his private life he preserved as pope the irreproachable reputation that he had borne when a cardinal [overstated!].                                  


His [Leo's] character shows a remarkable mingling of good and bad traits [this sentence, appears to be an excellent summation].' 


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from:  The Pope's Elephant, Silvio A. Bedini, Carcanet, 1997.



"For more than a century prior to Leo X's [Pope 1513 – 1521 (1475 – 1521)] election, there had been a great outcry throughout the Christian world demanding a reform of the Church because of the increasing excesses and abuses in ecclesiastical life and in the administration of the Holy See.  Attempts were made time after time to resolve the situation, but no tangible results were achieved.  Equally scandalous was the behaviour of the Roman nobility.  The state of the Church and the need for its reform were presented in a classic statement at the close of the Lateran Council in 1517 by Count Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola [c. 1469 – 1533], in the presence of the then pontiff and the assembled College of Cardinals.  No corrective action resulted, and it became clear that no substantial reform would be initiated by the new pontiff.9


            The wealth and power of the Church made its excuses the more disturbing.  In Leo X's time, the Church is reckoned to have owned at least a third of the wealth of Christendom.  It accumulated great quantities of gold and coin at a time when the money in the economy was limited.  This it did from its property and church taxes—'annates', 'thirds', 'tenths'; from pious benefactions, the sale of dignities and fees for ceremonies; from payments as penance and as absolution—'God,' said Cesare Borgia [1476 – 1507], 'desireth not the death of a sinner but rather that he should pay and live.'  Then there were special taxes, whether for holy warfare, specific crusades, or the building of St. Peter's and the Vatican to Julius II's [Pope 1503 – 1513 (1443 – 1513)] vast expectations.  For this, Leo promoted the sale of Indulgences:  the Church held the key to a 'treasury of merits', accumulated from the surplus earned by the saints, which the Church could sell to rescue the living and the dead from their just deserts in Purgatory.  Against the disreputable selling of Indulgences in Germany, an Augustinian monk—professor of theology at the university of Wittenberg—named Martin Luther [1483 – 1546] protested.  He held, as had others before him, that 'the only true treasury of merits is the grace of God'; the Elector of Saxony refused to let the Dominican Johann Tetzel [1465 – 1519] and his agents indulge their salesmanship in his domains, and the Emperor Maximilian [Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1459 – 1519] declared that the Church took from the people of Germany more than a hundred times the amounts he could."  [209-210].


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from:  Encyclopedia of the Vatican and Papacy, edited by Frank J. Coppa, Greenwood, 1999.



"LEO X ([Pope] 1513–1521).  After considerable service to the church, at an early age Giovanni de' Medici took up studies in theology and CANON LAW at Pisa.  He was tonsured at the age of seven and at the age of thirteen appointed cardinal-deacon.  In 1492, at the age of seventeen, he became a member of the College of CARDINALS, where he took up residence.  Exiled in 1494, he traveled to France, Holland, and Germany but restored the Medici control of Florence in 1512.  Upon his brother's death in 1503, he succeeded him as the head of the Medici family.  He [Leo X] intended to maintain Italy and Florence from outside influences as well as advance the Medici family outside Florence.  The thirty-seven-year-old cardinal Giovanni de' Medici was elected to the chair in March 1513.


            Leo enjoyed the arts and music and restored Rome as the cultural center of the Western world.  Allegedly a reckless extravagant, he collected books, manuscripts, and gems with little regard for price.  To acquire money for his pleasures, it was rumored that Leo sold his furniture.  Supposedly to meet his financial responsibilities of the projected crusade and construction of the basilica, Leo restored the abuses of selling indulgences authorized by JULIUS II (1503–1513).  When the Dominican friar John Tetzel [1465 – 1519] renewed the preaching of the use of indulgences, Martin Luther [1483 – 1546], the Augustian monk, reacted by nailing the 95 theses of protest on a Wittenberg church (see Reformation).  Leo made several, but unsuccessful, attempts to silence Luther, publishing a papal bull Exsurge Domine, condemning Luther on 41 counts.  Luther responded by publicly burning the papal bull and was excommunicated (see Excommunication) in Leo's bull Decet Romanum pontificem.


For further reference:  Matthew Bunson.  The Pope Encyclopedia (New York:  Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1995).


Patrick McGuire [St. John's University]"  [269].


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from:  The Bad Popes, E.R. Chamberlin, Dorset Press, 1986 (1969).





The Golden Age


Giovanni de' Medici


Pope Leo X (1513 – 1521)"  ["207"]



            'The cardinals were accurate in their assessment of Leo's character. 


"God has given us the Papacy—let us enjoy it,"1


he [Pope Leo X] wrote to his beloved brother Giuliano.  Pleasure was not to be the keynote of the pontificate—but a civilized pleasure, not the gross orgies of the Borgia with their bullfights and murders in the Spanish mode.  Leo was not merely an Italian but a Florentine.  It was in his city that the mysterious alchemic change, wrought under pressure of war, had produced that phenomenon which later generations were to style Renaissance.  Specifically, it had been his family, with their blend of business acumen and aestheticism, who had cherished the tender new plant, acting as patrons to scholars and artists, pouring out tens of thousands of the pure gold florins of Florence in their role of new Maecenas [70 – 8 B.C.E.]—and incidentally tightening their grip upon Florence.'  [210].



            '"I have three sons," Lorenzo [Lorenzo de' Medici (Lorenzo the Magnificent 1449 – 1492] once remarked.  "One is good, one is shrewd and one is a fool."3  It was Piero the fool, and unfortunately the elder, who precipitated the second expulsion of the Medici by capitulating to Charles VIII during the first French invasion.  Giuliano the good remained in his brother's shadow.  Giovanni [future Leo X] the shrewd was destined for the church from his boyhood.  He was only seven years old when he received the tonsure, and thereafter Lorenzo applied his talents as businessman and statesman to the acquisition of rich benefices for his son.  In 1483 when the boy was only eight, he was made abbot of Font Douce in France; in 1484 he collected the abbey of Passigano; in 1486 the legendary abbey of Monte Cassino.  By a continual pestering of Innocent VIII, Lorenzo got his boy made cardinal at the age of fourteen [thirteen (], but even Innocent gibed [scoffed, etc.] at






the idea of a child exercising quite this type of power and insisted that he should wait at least three years before taking his place in the college of cardinals.'  [211].



            "Agostino Chigi [1465? – 1520] outshone even Strozzi at a banquet he gave for Leo in his villa near the Tiber.  The menu was exotic enough to interest, if not please, the most jaded palate:  The culinary value of parrots' tongues from Africa and live fish brought in specifically from Byzantium must have depended largely on novelty.  The food was served on gold plate, and after every course—with a great display of indifference—the ware was hurled through the window into the Tiber.  Thriftily, Chigi had ordered that nets be suspended beneath the window so that the plate could be recovered, but the salvaged gold could only have been a tiny discount on the overall cost of a banquet that deliberately recreated the atmosphere of the banquets of classic Rome.


            Even the hetaerae were present, the necessary feminine company to balance the exclusively masculine ranks of a celibate clergy.  They were known now as courtesans, brilliant, cultured, beautiful women who maintained their own courts and did not disdain to have their profession inscribed upon their graves.  They were ideal companions for such a man as Leo who delighted in feminine company but had no desire to become entangled with a demanding mistress."  [221].



"Pietro Aretino [1492 – 1556], the swashbuckling satirist with his endless fund of pornographic tales, did not quite qualify for Church preferment but had no other cause to grumble, for his purse was permanently filled from the seemingly inexhaustible source.  He was perhaps Leo's true favorite, and continued in high prosperity in Rome until Leo's sober successor Adrian threw him out for a particularly obscene set of verses."  [222].



            'So strong was Leo's love for classical scholarship, so totally did he appear to surrender himself to it, that it seemed to many that he cherished profane literature at the cost of the Scriptures, absorbing the skepticism of the humanists as well as their learning. 


"How very profitable this fable of Christ has been to us through the ages,"11  [see footnote, 138]


he remarked lightly to Bembo when the latter had occasion to quote from the Gospels. 






Pope Leo ever loved a jest, ever delighted in catching a passing thought and turning it into an epigram, and Bembo too was not above improving a quotation.  


But there was increasing speculation on what kind of a man would be uncovered were the courtly, cultured mask to be stripped away.  Even the infamous Rodrigo Borgia, it was observed, had had himself depicted in the act of adoration before the resurrected Christ:  Leo's favorite portrait showed him fingering a priceless manuscript, eyeglass at his side.'  [222-223].



            "The present book has been written between two guidelines, as it were, erected to left and right—the work of the Protestant historian Ferdinand Gregorovius, whose history of medieval Rome is, in effect, a continuation of Gibbon and the papal histories of two Catholics, Horace K. Mann for the earlier period and Ludwig Pastor for the later.  The bibliography on pp. 291–296 lists those books, by both contemporary and later writers of all degrees of partisanship, which have enabled the writer to work in depth between the lines."  [290] [end of text].



"Bibliography" [291]


"Alberi, E.  Documenti sull' assedio di Firenze 1529–1530.  Florence 1840." 



"Bale, John, The Pageant of the Popes...Englished with sundry additions by I.S [Samson Lennard, died 1633] London, 1574."  [291].



"Notes" [297]


"PART VI  The Golden Age


1.  Alberi, Documenti, Ser. iii, III, 51" [299].  [see 136].


"3.  Alberi, Relazioni, 52" [299].  [see 136].


"11.  Bale, Pageant of the Popes" [299].  [see 137].


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from:  Vicars of Christ, The Dark Side of the Papacy, Peter de Rosa, Bantam, 1988.







'All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.'  Lord Acton [1834 – 1902], in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887"  ["9"].



"The Inevitable Reformation


Soon after Borgia [Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, 1492 – 1503 (1431 – 1503)] one of the most remarkable men in history ascended the papal throne, Julius II [Pope 1503 – 1513 (1443 – 1513)].  A Franciscan from Genoa, tall, handsome and syphilitic, he bribed his way to the papacy with hundreds of thousands of ducats.  Afterwards he decreed that anyone thenceforward who bribed a conclave should be deposed.  An athletic man, he always carried a stick with which to hit anyone who annoyed him.  In this storm of a man, religion was not even a hobby.  His Lenten fare consisted of prawns, tunny, lampreys from Flanders and the best caviare.


            He is best remembered as a patron of the arts.  One day he led a thirty-one-year-old sculptor into the Sistine Chapel.  The young man was broad-shouldered, lean, of medium height, with thick black hair and a broken nose, the prize for scrapping with a boy bigger than himself when he was an apprentice.


            Pope Julius pointed with his stick to the ceiling.  'That.  I want you to paint that for me.'


            Michelangelo [1475 – 1564] [see, 167, 171, 176] looked up and stifled a groan.  The ceiling was sixty-feet high and concave.  How would he, how would anyone, be able to work out perspectives?  Besides, he was no painter.  So far, he had only covered a few canvases and was none to proud of them.  He preferred working in stone.  Stone lasts.  No, he would refuse.  Giving no warning, he went home to his native Florence where he had been raised on the pure air of the Arezzo countryside and imbibed his sculptor's trade with the milk of his wet-nurse.


            Two years later, in 1508, Julius forced him [Michelangelo] back to Rome without his hammer and chisel.  So began the painting that would lift






this young man from obscurity to the pinnacle of greatness.  Defiant as ever, he wrote on his first pay-cheque:  'I, Michelangelo Buonarotti, sculptor, have received 500 ducats on account...for painting the vault of the Sistine Chapel.'


            Julius was to strike him more than once in his anger at finding a man as tempestuous as himself.  Once, Michelangelo had to appear before him in a halter in token of submission.


            In four years, he [Michelangelo] was to fill 5,800 square feet of ceiling with 300 figures.  In a poem, he confided his memories of those years.  So long on his back, he grew a goiter that slopped around like a bucket that animals drank from.  His back became bent like a bowman's.  His beard was pointed heavenwards, so that chin and belly practically fused into one.  His brush was forever dropping a mosaic of paint on his face.  This is no place to paint on, he groaned, and I'm not even a painter.


            On All Saints' Day 1512 this non-painter [Michelangelo] threw open the chapel door.  High on that impossible surface was more than a work of art.  It was an encyclopaedia of humanity.  The Old Testament themes depicted every man's journey from birth to death.  As the exultant Julius sang mass at the altar, he did so in the knowledge that he had commissioned the greatest work of art the world had ever seen.


            Through Michelangelo, the pope began to create a new Vatican that has endured as a wonder to this day.  He [Leo] had no similar concern for the Christian faith.  This is one of the ironies of the Vatican:  outwardly, in terms of culture, art and architecture, the church had never been in finer shape; Bramante was alive, then Michelangelo and Raphael.  Within, there was only corruption.


            Julius' chief and abiding passion was not art but war....


            When Michelangelo carved a statue of him, Julius examined it with a puzzled expression.  'What's that under my arm?'  'A book, Holiness.'  'What do I know of books?' roared the Pope.  'Give me a sword instead.'


            His Holiness's preference of sword to Bible, of saddle to St Peter's Chair, had its effect in Rome.  Michelangelo, who knew the Eternal City better than most, left his impressions of popes he had known in a poem:






                        Of chalices they make helmet and sword

                        And sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord.

                        His cross, his thorns are blades in poison dipped

                        And even Christ himself is of all patience stripped.


Julius was so angry with Louis XII of France for not supporting his military campaigns that he drew up a Bull depriving him of his kingdom.  Pious Henry VII of England, whose favourite author was Thomas Aquinas [c. 1225 – 1274], should have it [apparently, kingdom of Louis XII], provided he showed himself a good Catholic by helping him [Julius II] fight his wars.


            Julius died before the Bull was published.  But for that, France, like England, might have become Protestant at the Reformation now drawing ineluctably nearer."  [111-113].



            "The Court of Leo X"


"Giovanni, who took the name of Leo X, was an ebullient character.  His first words as pope were addressed to his illegitimate cousin Giulio de' Medici:  'Now I can really enjoy myself.'  Keen to try on his tiara, he removed his red hat and handed it to Giulio.  'For  you, cousin.'  Giulio made good use of it.  He was to become one of the most disastrous of all popes, Clement VII."  [114].



"Instead of giving up everything to follow Christ, Leo grabbed all he could in Christ's name for himself.  A gambler and a big spender, he was said to obey Jesus in only one thing:  he took no thought for the morrow.  He was the only kind of pope the Romans felt relaxed with.  He gave money to them, instead of squandering it like Julius on expensive wars.


            It was an age of lavish entertainment.  A certain Cardinal Cornaro [probably, Marco Cornaro 1482 – 1524 (died "suddenly" (online:  "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church"))] gave dinners of sixty-five courses, each course consisting of three different dishes.  Leo's dinners matched them.  On the menu were sweetmeats such as peacocks' tongues.  Nightingales flew out of pies; naked little boys jumped out of puddings.  His chief jester, a midget Dominican friar, Fra Mariano, entertained him by eating forty eggs or twenty chickens at one sitting.  At Carnival time, whole days were spent in the enjoyment of bullfights, followed by banquets and rounded off with masked balls at which Leo entertained his cardinals and their ladies.






            He had 683 courtiers on his payroll.  He also employed many jesters, an orchestra, a permanent theatre that specialized in Rabelaisian plays, and several wild animals.  His favourite was a white elephant, the gift of King Emanuel of Portugal.


            On 12 March 1514 there was a parade through Rome to the Sant' Angelo Bridge where Leo was on a podium taking the salute.  After a procession of exotic Indian poultry, Persian horses, a panther and two leopards came Hanno the White Elephant with a silver castle on its back.  Three times, according to strict court etiquette, it bent the knee to a delighted pontiff.  As a finale, it was given a bucket of water with which to asperse the crowd.


            This elephant, housed in the Belvedere, became a celebrity and spawned an entire literature.  Hundreds of poems were written in its honour.  Many fine woodcuts of it still exist.  On the lower cupola of the Vatican, Raphael painted its picture, though it was to be lost in renovations.  In the Vatican Library, there exists a secret diary of the elephant's many engagements, ending with a death mourned more than many a pope's:  'Lundi XVI Juin, 1516, mourut l'éléphant.'


            Contrary to canon law, Leo hunted for weeks at a time at Magliana, his spectacular retreat almost as beautiful as Castelgandolfo.  Magliana was five miles from Rome on the road to Porto.  He invariably rode side-saddle because of his 'complaint', the odour from which his courtiers pretended not to notice.


            Like so many Renaissance popes, Leo was an enthusiastic builder and patron of the arts.  The contemporary historian Sarpi [Paolo Sarpi 1552 – 1623] said of him:  'He would have been a perfect pope, if to these [artistic] accomplishments he had added even the slightest knowledge of religion.'"  [114-115].



            "None of Leo's interests came cheap, and he had to borrow prodigious sums from bankers at 40 per cent interest.  The brothels simply did not bring in enough money even though there were seven thousand registered prostitutes in a population of less than fifty thousand.  Syphilis was rife—'a kind of illness', the syphilitic Benvenuto Cellini [1500 – 1571] said, with genuine compassion, 'very common among priests'."  [115].



            "To bolster his income, Leo invented offices around the palace.  These posts brought power and prestige and proved to be popular. 





Sixtus IV had had only 650 offices for sale; Leo had 2,150.  He auctioned them.  Most in demand were cardinal's hats, which went, on average, for thirty thousand ducats.  Their Eminences recovered their money by corrupt sales of their own."  [115].



            "In spite of Leo's amazing liberality, several younger cardinals accused him of not living up to the promises he made them in conclave.  Alfonso Petrucci of Siena, at twenty-seven a man of deep impiety and unshakeable atheism, was particularly indignant.  With four other members of the Sacred College, he decided to assassinate the pope.  His plan was to attack his Holiness at his weakest point, and it had the merit of originality.  He bribed a Florentine doctor, Battista de Vercelli, to treat the pope for piles and, while operating, insert poison directly into his back passage.  It made a change from figs[?].


            Twice Leo turned down Battista's offer before his secret service intercepted a letter from him to Petrucci.  Both conspirators were locked up, the cardinal in the Marocco, the lowest and foulest dungeon in the Castle Sant 'Angelo.


            Under torture, the doctor confessed.  He was publicly hanged, drawn and quartered by a surgeon far less skilful than himself.


            Leo forgave four of the rebel cardinals, though reparations were huge.  Petrucci [Cardinal Alfonso Petrucci 1491 – 1517], as ringleader, was dealt with in the secrecy of the Marocco.  His Holiness could not allow a Christian to lay a finger on a former prince of the church, so he employed a Moor as executioner.  The Moor placed a noose of appropriate crimson silk around Petrucci's neck and slowly strangled him.


            Leo's gravest danger came from a quarter he was too short-sighted to recognize, not in the papal court, not even in Rome, but in far-off Germany."  [115-116].



            "Petrarch's [1304 – 1374] friend [admirer (see:  "Letter from Niccolo Machiavelli to Francesco Vettori" (Internet:  J. Bradford DeLong))] Machiavelli [1469 – 1527] wrote: 'The Italians owe a great debt to the Roman church and its clergy.  Through their example, we have lost all true religion and become complete unbelievers.  Take it as a rule, the nearer a nation dwells to the Roman Curia, the less religion it has.'"  [119].






            "One reason for there being more prostitutes in Rome than in any other capital city was the large number of celibates.  The convents were often brothels.  Women sometimes took a dagger with them to confession to protect themselves against their confessor.  Chroniclers tell of clerics spending their days in taverns, their nights in the soft arms of their mistresses.  'The holiest hermit has his whore.'  As St Bridget [apparently, St. Bridget of Sweden, 1303 – 1373] said to Pope Gregory [apparently, Gregory XI:  Pope 1370 – 1378 (1330 – 1378)]:  'The clergy are less priests of God than pimps of the devil.'  The finest Roman choirs sang at mass songs so lascivious that a commission of cardinals debated whether to forbid all singing in church."  [120].



            "The Dutchman, Pope Adrian VI, confessed to the Diet of Nuremberg in 1522 that all evils in the church proceeded from the Roman Curia.  'For many years, abominable things have taken place in the Chair of Peter, abuses in spiritual matters, transgressions of the Commandments, so that


everything here ["ROMAN CURIA" ("VATICAN")] has been wickedly perverted.'


            The Jesuit Cardinal Bellarmine [1542 – 1621] was later to admit: 


'For some years before Luther [Martin Luther 1483 – 1546] and Calvin [John Calvin 1509 – 1564] there was in the church almost no religion left.' 


The papacy, he said, had almost eliminated Christianity.


            In 1518, singing his 'Fool's Song', Luther wrote to the German nobility complaining of papal avarice.  The Holy See he described as 'more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom ever was....It is a distressing and terrible thing to see the Head of Christendom, who boasts of being the Vicar of Christ and successor to St Peter, living in a worldly pomp that no King or Emperor can equal; so that in him [Leo X] who calls himself most holy and most spiritual there is more worldiness than in the world itself.'


Two years later, Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo."  [120].



"How was it that Rome, far from being the champion of the Gospel, became in Contarini's phrase the embodiment of heresy?






            Power was at the root of it.  As if to endorse Acton's famous phrase, absolute power ["corrupts absolutely"] made not only the office-holders but also the papal office corrupt.  This is why men like Borgia, far from being out of place in Peter's Chair, fitted it so snugly.


            The Reformation came not when the church deteriorated further but when real holiness appeared.  The Reformers saved the papacy, which had sunk too low to save either itself or the church.  Jacob Burckhardt said:  'The moral salvation of the papacy is due to its mortal enemies.'  But the cost was high.  Trent [Council of Trent, northern Italy, 1545 – 1563] consecrated medieval theology, thus ensuring that Catholicism would be narrow and backward-looking for centuries to come [censorship, etc.].  It was the beginning of a religious Cold War.  Father Paulo [Paolo]  Sarpi wrote of Trent:  'This Council, desired and brought about by pious men in order to reunite the Church which was trying to break apart, has, on the contrary, so confirmed the schism and hardened attitudes as to make disagreements unresolvable.'


            Trent, in his view, was responsible for the greatest 'Deformation in the ecclesiastical order ever seen, with the result that the name of Christianity is now hated'.  After Trent, Rome's enormous power was confirmed, bishops so lost their independence that no Council was held for more than three hundred years.  A Council was only called then to express formally and finally papal absolutism.   The Roman church, divided in the West from the Protestants, was henceforward less a Catholic church than an inward-looking and frightened sec