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deride the novelty of the pomp. In the evening, when they had reached the church and palace of Constantine, he thanked and dismissed the numerous assembly, with an invitation to the festival of the ensuing day. From the hands of a venerable knight he received the order of the Holy Ghost; the purification of the bath was a previous ceremony; but in no step of his life did Rienzi excite such scandal and censure as by the profane use of the porphyry vase in which Constantine (a foolish legend) had been healed of his leprosy by Pope Sylvester.” With equal presumption the tribune watched or reposed within the consecrated precincts of the baptistery; and the failure of his state-bed was interpreted as an omen of his approaching downfall. At the hour of worship he showed himself to the returning crowds in a majestic attitude, with a robe of purple, his sword, and gilt spurs; but the holy rites were soon interrupted by his levity and insolence. Rising from his throne, and advancing towards the congregation, he proclaimed in a loud voice, “We “summon to our tribunal Pope Clement, and command him to “reside in his diocese of Rome: we also summon the sacred college “of cardinals.” We again summon the two pretenders, Charles of “Bohemia and Lewis of Bavaria, who style themselves emperors: we “likewise summon all the electors of Germany to inform us on what “pretence they have usurped the inalienable right of the Roman “people, the ancient and lawful sovereigns of the empire.” Unsheathing his maiden sword, he thrice brandished it to the three parts of the world, and thrice repeated the extravagant declaration, “And “this too is mine !” The pope's vicar, the bishop of Orvieto, attempted to check this career of folly; but his feeble protest was silenced by martial music; and instead of withdrawing from the assembly, he consented to dine with his brother tribune at a table which had hitherto been reserved for the supreme pontiff. A banquet, such as the Caesars had given, was prepared for the Romans. The apartments, porticoes, and courts of the Lateran were spread with innumerable tables for either sex and every condition; a stream of wine flowed from the nostrils of Constantine's brazen horse; no complaint, except of the scarcity of water, could be heard; and the
* All parties believed in the leprosy and bath of Constantine (Petrarch, Epist, Famil. vi. 2), and Rienzi justified his own conduct by observing to the court of
Avignon, that a vase which had been used by a pagan could not be profaned by a pious Christian. Yet this crime is specified in the bull of excommunication (Hocsemius, apud du Cergeau, p. 189, 190). * This verbal summons of Pope Clement VI., which rests on the authority of the Roman historian and a Watican MS., is disputed by the biographer of Petrarch (tom. ii. not. p. 70-76) with arguments, rather of decency than of weight. The court of Avignon might not choose to agitate this delicate question. * The summons of the two rival emperors, a monument of freedom and folly, is extant in Hocsemius (Cergeau, p. 163-166).
licentiousness of the multitude was curbed by discipline and fear. A and corona subsequent day was appointed for the coronation of Rienzi;” tion. seven crowns of different leaves or metals were successively placed on his head by the most eminent of the Roman clergy; they represented the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; and he still professed to imitate the example of the ancient tribunes." These extraordinary spectacles might deceive or flatter the people; and their own vanity was gratified in the vanity of their leader. But in his private life he soon deviated from the strict rule of frugality and abstinence; and the plebeians, who were awed by the splendour of the nobles, were provoked by the luxury of their equal. His wife, his son, his uncle (a barber in name and profession), exposed the contrast of vulgar manners and princely expense; and without acquiring the majesty, Rienzi degenerated into the vices, of a king. A simple citizen describes with pity, or perhaps with pleasure, the humiliation of the barons of Rome. “Bareheaded, their “hands crossed on their breast, they stood with downcast “looks in the presence of the tribune; and they trembled, “good God, how they trembled !” “ As long as the yoke of Rienzi was that of justice and their country, their conscience forced them to esteem the man whom pride and interest provoked them to hate: his extravagant conduct soon fortified their hatred by contempt; and they conceived the hope of subverting a power which was no longer so deeply rooted in the public confidence. The old animosity of the Colonna and Ursini was suspended for a moment by their common disgrace: they associated their wishes, and perhaps their designs; an assassin was seized and tortured ; he accused the nobles; and as
Fear and hatred of the nobles of Rome.
* It is singular that the Roman historian should have overlooked this sevenfold coronation, which is sufficiently proved by internal evidence, and the testimony of Hocsemius, and even of Rienzi (Cergeau, p. 167-170, 229).
* Puoise faceva stare denante a se, mentre sedeva, li baroni tutti in piedi ritti co le vraccia piecate, e coli capucci tratti. Deh como stavano paurosis (Hist. Rom. l. ii. c. 20, p. 439.) He saw them, and we see them.
* It was on this occasion that he made the profane comparison between himself and our Lord; and the striking circumstance took place which he relates in his letter to the archbishop of Prague. In the midst of all the wild and joyous exultation of the people, one of his most zealous supporters, a monk, who was in high repute for his sanctity, stood apart in a corner of the church and wept bitterly A domestic chaplain of Rienzi's inquired the cause of his grief. “Now,” replied the man of God, “is thy master cast down from “heaven-never saw I man so proud. “By the aid of the Holy Ghost he has
“driven the tyrants from the city without “drawing a sword; the cities and the “sovereigns of Italy have submitted to “his power. Why is he so arrogant and “ungrateful towards the Most Hight “Why does he seek earthly and transitory “rewards for his labours, and in his wan“ton speech liken himself to the Creator? “Tell thy master that he can only atone “for this offence by tears of penitence.” In the evening the chaplain communicated this solemn rebuke to the Tribune; it appalled him for the time, but was soon forgotten in the tumult and hurry of business.-M. 1845.
soon as Rienzi deserved the fate, he adopted the suspicions and maxims, of a tyrant. On the same day, under various pretences, he invited to the Capitol his principal enemies, among whom were five members of the Ursini and three of the Colonna name. But instead of a council or a banquet, they found themselves prisoners under the sword of despotism or justice; and the consciousness of innocence or guilt might inspire them with equal apprehensions of danger. At the sound of the great bell the people assembled; they were arraigned for a conspiracy against the tribune's life; and though some might sympathise in their distress, not a hand nor a voice was raised to rescue the first of the nobility from their impending doom. Their apparent boldness was prompted by despair; they passed in separate chambers a sleepless and painful night; and the venerable hero, Stephen Colonna, striking against the door of his prison, repeatedly urged his guards to deliver him by a speedy death from such ignominious servitude. In the morning they understood their sentence from the visit of a confessor and the tolling of the bell. The great hall of the Capitol had been decorated for the bloody scene with red and white hangings: the countenance of the tribune was dark and severe; the swords of the executioners were unsheathed; and the barons were interrupted in their dying speeches by the sound of trumpets. But in this decisive moment Rienzi was not less anxious or apprehensive than his captives: he dreaded the splendour of their names, their surviving kinsmen, the inconstancy of the people, the reproaches of the world; and, after rashly offering a mortal injury, he vainly presumed that, if he could forgive, he might himself be forgiven. His elaborate oration was that of a Christian and a suppliant; and, as the humble minister of the commons, he entreated his masters to pardon these noble criminals, for whose repentance and future service he pledged his faith and authority. “If you are spared,” said the tribune, “by the mercy of the Romans, will you not promise to “support the good estate with your lives and fortunes?” Astonished by this marvellous clemency, the barons bowed their heads; and while they devoutly repeated the oath of allegiance, might whisper a secret, and more sincere, assurance of revenge. A priest, in the name of the people, pronounced their absolution; they received the communion with the tribune, assisted at the banquet, followed the procession; and, after every spiritual and temporal sign of reconciliation, were dismissed in safety to their respective homes, with the new honours and titles of generals, consuls, and patricians.”
* The original letter, in which Rienzi justifies his treatment of the Colonna (Hoc
semius, apud Du Cergeau, p. 222–229), displays, in genuine colours, the mixture of the knave and the * , auspiays, in ge o
During some weeks they were checked by the memory of their vh danger, rather than of their deliverance, till the most to powerful of the Ursini, escaping with the Colonna from the arms. city, erected at Marino the standard of rebellion. The fortifications of the castle were hastily restored; the vassals attended their lord; the outlaws armed against the magistrate; the flocks and herds, the harvests and vineyards from Marino to the gates of Rome, were swept away or destroyed; and the people arraigned Rienzi as the author of the calamities which his government had taught them to forget. In the camp Rienzi appeared to less advantage than in the rostrum; and he neglected the progress of the rebel barons till their numbers were strong, and their castles impregnable. From the pages of Livy he had not imbibed the art, or even the courage, of a general : an army of twenty thousand Romans returned without honour or effect from the attack of Marino; and his vengeance was amused by painting his enemies, their heads downwards, and drowning two dogs (at least they should have been bears) as the representatives of the Ursini. The belief of his incapacity encouraged their operations: they were invited by their secret adherents; and the barons attempted, with four thousand foot and sixteen hundred horse, to enter Rome by force or surprise. The city was prepared for their reception; the alarm-bell rung all night; tne gates were strictly guarded, or insolently open; and after some hesitation they sounded a retreat. The two first divisions had passed along the walls, but the prospect of a free entrance tempted the headstrong valour of the nobles in the rear; and after a successful skirmish, they were overthrown and massacred without quarter by pera and the crowds of the Roman people. Stephen Colonna the *...* younger, the noble spirit to whom Petrarch ascribed the ** restoration of Italy, was preceded or accompanied in death by his son John, a gallant youth, by his brother Peter, who might regret the ease and honours of the church, by a nephew of legitimate birth, and by two bastards of the Colonna race; and the number of seven, the seven crowns, as Rienzi styled them, of the Holy Ghost, was completed by the agony of the deplorable parent, of the veteran chief, who had survived the hope and fortune of his house. The vision and prophecies of St. Martin and Pope Boniface had been used by the tribune to animate his troops : “he displayed, at least in
* Rienzi, in the above-mentioned letter, ascribes to St. Martin the tribune, Boniface VIII. the enemy of Colonna, himself, and the Roman people, the glory of the day, which Villani likewise (l. xii. c. 104) describes as a regular battle. The disorderly skirmish, the flight of the Romans, and the cowardice of Rienzi, are painted in the simple and minute narrative of Fortifiocca, or the anonymous citizen (l. ii. c, 34-37),
the pursuit, the spirit of an hero; but he forgot the maxims of the ancient Romans, who abhorred the triumphs of civil war. The conqueror ascended the Capitol; deposited his crown and sceptre on the altar; and boasted, with some truth, that he had cut off an ear which neither pope nor emperor had been able to amputate.” His base and implacable revenge denied the honours of burial; and the bodies of the Colonna, which he threatened to expose with those of the vilest malefactors, were secretly interred by the holy virgins of their name and family.” The people sympathised in their grief, repented of their own fury, and detested the indecent joy of Rienzi, who visited the spot where these illustrious victims had fallen. It was on that fatal spot that he conferred on his son the honour of knighthood: and the ceremony was accomplished by a slight blow from each of the horsemen of the guard, and by a ridiculous and inhuman ablution from a pool of water, which was yet polluted with patrician blood.” A short delay would have saved the Colonna, the delay of a single month, which elapsed between the triumph and the exile of ran and Rienzi. In the pride of victory he forfeited what yet re- oft.* mained of his civil virtues, without acquiring the fame of on, military prowess. A free and vigorous opposition was formed Poo. ". in the city; and when the tribune proposed in the public council" to impose a new tax, and to regulate the government of Perugia, thirty-nine members voted against his measures, repelled the injurious charge of treachery and corruption, and urged him to prove, by their forcible exclusion, that, if the populace adhered to his cause, it was already disclaimed by the most respectable citizens. The pope and the sacred college had never been dazzled by his specious professions; they were justly offended by the insolence of his conduct; a cardinal
* In describing the fall of the Colonna, I speak only of the family of Stephen the elder, who is often confounded by the P. du Cergeau with his son. That family was extinguished, but the house has been perpetuated in the collateral branches, of which I have not a very accurate knowledge. Circumspice (says Petrarch) familiae tual statum, Columniensium domos: solito pauciores habeat columnas. Quid ad rem? modo fundamentum stabile, solidumque permaneat.
* The convent of St. Silvester was founded, endowed, and protected by the Colonna cardinals, for the daughters of the family who embraced a monastic life, and who, in the year 1318, were twelve in number. ...The others were allowed to marry with their kinsmen in the fourth degree, and the dispensation was justified by the small number and close alliances of the noble families of Rome (Mémoires sur Pétrarque, tom. i. p. 110, tom. ii. p. 401).
* Petrarch wrote a stiff and pedantic letter of consolation (Fam. 1. vii. epist. 13, p. 682, 683). The friend was lost in the patriot. Nulla toto orbe principum familia carior; carior tamen respublica, carior Roma, carior Italia.
Je rends grâces aux Dieux de n'étre pas Romain.
* This council and opposition is obscurely mentioned by Pollistore, a contemporary writer, who has preserved some curious and original facts (Rer. Italicarum, tom. xxv. c. 31, p. 798-804).