« ForrigeFortsett »
danger of a refusal, the princes and barons returned to their houses at Rome in the garb of simple and peaceful citizens: the Colonna and Ursini, the Savelli and Frangipani, were confounded before the tribunal of a plebeian, of the vile buffoon whom they had so often derided, and their disgrace was aggravated by the indignation which they vainly struggled to disguise. The same oath was successively pronounced by the several orders of society, the clergy and gentlemen, the judges and notaries, the merchants and artisans, and the gradual descent was marked by the increase of sincerity and zeal. They swore to live and die with the republic and the church, whose interest was artfully united by the nominal association of the bishop of Orvieto, the pope's vicar, to the office of tribune. It was the boast of Rienzi that he had delivered the throne and patrimony of St. Peter from a rebellious aristocracy; and Clement the Sixth, who rejoiced in its fall, affected to believe the professions, to applaud the merits, and to confirm the title of his trusty servant. The speech, perhaps the mind, of the tribune, was inspired with a lively regard for the purity of the faith: he insinuated his claim to a supernatural mission from the Holy Ghost; enforced by a heavy forfeiture the annual duty of confession and communion; and strictly guarded the spiritual as well as temporal welfare of his faithful people.27
Never perhaps has the energy and effect of a single mind been Freedom and more remarkably felt than in the sudden, though transient, one pertson of reformation of Rome by the tribune Rienzi. A den of republic. robbers was converted to the discipline of a camp or convent: patient to hear, swift to redress, inexorable to punish, his tribunal was always accessible to the poor and stranger; nor could birth, or dignity, or the immunities of the church, protect the offender or his accomplices. The privileged houses, the private sanctuaries in Rome, on which no officer of justice would presume to trespass, were abolished ; and he applied the timber and iron of their barricades in the fortifications of the Capitol. The venerable father of the Colonna was exposed in his own palace to the double shame of being desirous and of being unable to protect a criminal. A mule, with a jar of oil, had been stolen near Capranica ; and the lord of the Ursini family was condemned to restore the damage and to discharge a fine of four hundred florins for his negligence in guarding the highways. Nor persons
of the barons more inviolate than their lands or houses; and, either from accident or design, the same impartial rigour was exercised against the heads of the adverse factions. Peter
* Hocsemius, p. 398, apud du Cerceau, Hist. de Rienzi, p. 194. The fifteen tribu. nitian laws may be found in the Roman historian (whom fro brevity I shall pane) Fortifiocou, 1. 8. c. 4,
Agapet Colonna, who had himself been senator of Rome, was arrested in the street for injury or debt; and justice was appeased by the tardy execution of Martin Ursini, who, among his various acts of violence and rapine, had pillaged a shipwrecked vessel at the mouth of the Tiber.28 His name, the purple of two cardinals his uncles, a recent marriage, and a mortal disease, were disregarded by the inflexible tribune, who had chosen his victim. The public officers dragged him from his palace and nuptial bed : his trial was short and satisfactory; the bell of the Capitol convened the people : stripped of his mantle, on his knees, with his hands bound behind his back, he heard the sentence of death, and, after a brief confession, Ursini was led away to the gallows. After such an example, none who were conscious of guilt could hope for impunity, and the flight of the wicked, the licentious, and the idle, soon purified the city and territory of Rome. In this time (says the historian) the woods began to rejoice that they were no longer infested with robbers; the oxen began to plough; the pilgrims visited the sanctuaries; the roads and inns were replenished with travellers ; trade, plenty, and good faith were restored in the markets; and a purse of gold might be exposed without danger in the midst of the highway. As soon as the life and property of the subject are secure, the labours and rewards of industry spontaneously revive: Rome was still the metropolis of the Christian world, and the fame and fortunes of the tribune were diffused in every country by the strangers who had enjoyed the blessings of his government.
The deliverance of his country inspired Rienzi with a vast and perhaps visionary idea of uniting Italy in a great federative republic, of which Rome should be the ancient and lawful is respected head, and the free cities and princes the members and associates. His pen was not less eloquent than his tongue, and his numerous epistles were delivered to swift and trusty messengers. On foot, with a white wand in their hand, they traversed the forests and mountains; enjoyed, in the most hostile states, the sacred security of ambassadors; and reported, in the style of flattery or truth, that the highways along their passage were lined with kneeling multitudes,
in Italy, &c.;
» Fortifiocca, 1. ii. c. 11. From the account of this shipwreck we learn some circumstances of the trade and navigation of the age. 1. The ship was built and freighted at Naples for the ports of Marseilles and Avignon. 2. The sailors were of Naples and the isle of Enaria, less skilful than those of Sicily and Genoa. 3. The navigation from Marseilles was a coasting voyage to the mouth of the Tiber, where they took shelter in a storm; but, instead of finding the current, unfortunately ran on a shoal: the vessel was stranded, the mariners escaped. 4. The cargo, which was pillaged, consisted of the revenue of Provence for the royal treasury, many bags of pepper and cinnamon, and bales of French cloth, to the value of 20,000 forins: a rich prize.
who implored Heaven for the success of their undertaking Could passion have listened to reason, could private interest have yielded to the public welfare, the supreme tribunal and confederate union of the Italian republic might have healed their intestine discord, and closed the Alps against the barbarians of the North. But the propitious season had elapsed ; and if Venice, Florence, Sienna, Perugia, and many inferior cities, offered their lives and fortunes to the good estate, the tyrants of Lombardy and Tuscany must despise or hate the plebeian author of a free constitution. From them, however, and from every part of Italy, the tribune received the most friendly and respectful answers: they were followed by the ambassadors of the princes and republics; and in this foreign conflux, on all the occasions of pleasure or business, the low-born notary could assume the familiar or majestic courtesy of a sovereign.29 The most glorious circumstance of his reign was an appeal to his justice from Lewis king of Hungary, who complained that his brother and her husband had been perfidiously strangled by Jane queen of Naples : 30 her guilt or innocence was pleaded in a solemn trial at Rome; but after hearing the advocates, 31 the tribune adjourned this weighty and invidious cause, which was soon determined by the sword of the Hungarian. Beyond the Alps, more especially at Avignon, the revolution was the theme of curiosity, wonder, and applause." Petrarch had been the private friend, per
3. It was thus that Oliver Cromwell's old acquaintance, who remembered his vulgar and ungracious entrance into the House of Commons, were astonished at the ease and majesty of the Protector on his throne (see Harris's Life of Cromwell, p. 27-34, from Clarendon, Warwick, Whitelocke, Waller, &c.). The consciousness of merit and power will sometimes elevate the manners to the station.
30 See the causes, circumstances, and effects of the death of Andrew, in Giannone (tom. iii, 1. xxiii. p. 220-229), and the Life of Petrarch (Mémoires, tom. ii. p. 143. 148, 245-250, 375–379, notes, p. 21-37). The abbé de Sade wishes to extenuate her guilt.
31 The advocate who pleaded against Jane could add nothing to the logical force and brevity of his master's epistle. Johanna! inordinata vita præcedens, retentio potestatis in regno, neglecta vindicta, vir alter susceptus, et excusatio subsequens, necis viri tui te probant fuisse participem et consortem. Jane of Naples and Mary of Scotland have a singular conformity.
^ In his letter to the archbishop of “ of the city of Rome and all Italy into Prague, Rienzi thus describes the effect one amicable, peaceful, holy, and united of his elevation on Italy and on the world: “ confederacy? the consecrated standards “ Did I not restore real peace among the “and banners having been by me collected “ cities which were distracted by factions? "and blended together, and, in witneso “ did I not cause all the citizens, exiled by “ to our holy association and perfect union,
party violence, with their wretched wives “ offered up in the presence of the am. “and children, to be readmittedi had I “ bassadors of all the cities of Italy, on the “ not begun to extinguish the factious day of the assumption of our Blessed “ names (scismatica nomina) of Guelf and “ Lady." P. xlvii. “ Ghibelline, for which countless thou In the Libellus ad Cæsarem:-"I re“ sands had perished body and soul, under “ceived the homage and submission of all “the eyes of thsir pastors, by the reduction “the sovereigns of Apulia, the barous and
haps the secret counsellor, of Rienzi : his writings breathe the most ardent spirit of patriotism and joy; and all respect for the pope, all gratitude for the Colonna, was lost in the superior brated by duties of a Roman citizen. The poet-laureat of the Capitol maintains the act, applauds the hero, and mingles with some apprehension and advice the most lofty hopes of the permanent and rising greatness of the republic. 32
While Petrarch indulged these prophetic visions, the Roman hero was fast declining from the meridian of fame and power ; His vices and the people, who had gazed with astonishment on the and follics. ascending meteor, began to mark the irregularity of its course, and the vicissitudes of light and obscurity. More eloquent than judicious, more enterprising than resolute, the faculties of Rienzi were not balanced by cool and commanding reason ; he magnified in a tenfold proportion the objects of hope and fear; and prudence, which could not have erected, did not presume to fortify, his throne. In the blaze of prosperity, his virtues were insensibly tinctured with the adjacent vices ; justice with cruelty, liberality with profusion, and the desire of fame with puerile and ostentatious vanity. He might have learned that the ancient tribunes, so strong and sacred in the public opinion, were not distinguished in style, habit, or appearance, from an ordinary plebeian ; 33 and that, as often as they visited the city on foot, a single
33 See the Epistola Hortatoria de Capessenda Republica, from Petrarch to Nicholas Rienzi (Opp. p. 535-540), and the vth eclogue or pastoral, a perpetual and obscure allegory.
33° In his Roman Questions, Plutarch ([c. 81] Opuscul. tom. I. p. 505, 506, edit. Græc. Hen. Steph.) states, on the most constitutional principles, the simple greatness of the tribunes, who were not properly magistrates, but a check on magistracy. It was their duty and interest ομοιούσθαι και σχήματι και στολή και διαίτη τους επιτυγχάνουσι των πολιτών. xaratatiiola di (a saying of C. Curio) sad mein rizvor siras aña ovse μηδε δυσπρόσοδον. .. όσων δε μάλλον έκταπεινούται τω σώματι, τοσούτω μάλλον αύξεται τη duréusu, &c. Rienzi, and Petrarch himself, were incapable perhaps of reading a Greek philosopher; but they might have imbibed the same modest doctrines from their favourite Latins, Livy and Valerius Maximus.
counts, and almost all the people of “Jews and Christians celebrated the event “ Italy. I was honoured by solemn em " with unusual festivities. When the " bassies and letters by the emperor of “soldan inquired the cause of these re“ Constantinople and the king of England. “joicings, and received this intelligence • The queen of Naples submitted herself "about Rome, he ordered all the havens “and her kingdom to the protection of the “ and cities on the coast to be fortified and “ tribune. The king of Hungary, by two put in a state of defence.” P. xxxv.“solemn embassies, brought his cause M. 1845. s against his queen and his nobles before " An illustrious female writer has
my tribunal; and I venture to say drawn, with a single stroke, the character “ further, that the fame of the tribune " of Rienzi, Crescentius, and Arnold of “ alarmed the soldan of Babylon. When Brescia, the fond restorers of Roman “the Christian pilgrims to the sepulchre of liberty: “Qui ont pris les souvenirs pour
our Lord related to the Christian and “ les espérances' Corinne, tom. i. p. 159 “ Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem all the “ Could Tacitus have excelled this?
yet unheard-of and wonderful circum Hallam, vcl i. p. 418.-M. "stances of the reformation in Rome, both
viator, or beadle, attended the exercise of their office. The Gracchi would have frowned or smiled, could they have read the sonorous titles and epithets of their successor,—“NICHOLAS, SEVERE AND MERCIFUL; DELIVERER OF RUME; DEFENDER OF ITALY ;
34 FRIEND “ OF MANKIND, AND OF LIBERTY, PEACE, AND JUSTICE; TRIBUNE “ AUGUST :" his theatrical pageants had prepared the revolution ; but Rienzi abused, in luxury and pride, the political maxim of speaking to the eyes, as well as the understanding, of the multitude. From nature he had received the gift of a handsome person,35 till it was swelled and disfigured by intemperance: and his propensity to laughter was corrected in the magistrate by the affectation of gravity and sternness. He was clothed, at least on public occasions, in a parti-coloured robe of velvet or satin, lined with fur, and embroidered with gold : the rod of justice, which he carried in his hand, was a sceptre of polished steel, crowned with a globe and cross of gold, and enclosing a small fragment of the true and holy wood. In his civil and religious processions through the city, he rode on a white steed, the symbol of royalty: the great banner of the republic, a sun with a circle of stars, a dove with an olive-branch, was displayed over his head; a shower of gold and silver was scattered among the populace; fifty guards with halberds encompassed his person; a troop of horse preceded his march; and their tymbals and trumpets were of massy silver. The ambition of the honours of chivalry 36 betrayed the meanness
of his birth and degraded the importance of his office; and
the equestrian tribune was not less odious to the nobles, knighthood,
whom he adopted, than to the plebeians, whom he deserted.
All that yet remained of treasure, or luxury, or art, was exhausted on that solemn day. Rienzi led the procession from the Capitol to the Lateran; the tediousness of the way was relieved with decorations and games; the ecclesiastical, civil, and military orders marched under their various banners; the Roman ladies attended his wife ; and the ambassadors of Italy might loudly applaud or secretly
* I could not express in English the forcible, though barbarous, title of Zelator Italiæ, which Rienzi assumed.
35 Era bell'homo (1. ii. c. 1, p. 399). It is remarkable that the riso sarcastico of the Bracciano edition is wanting in the Roman MS. from which Muratori has given the text. In his second reign, when he is painted almost as a monster, Rienzi travea una ventresca tonna trionfale, a modo de uno Abbate Asiano, or Asinino (1. üi. c. 18, p. 523).
* Strange as it may seem, this festival was not without a procedent. In the year 1327, two barons, a Colonna and an Ursini, the usual balance, were created knights by the Roman people: their bath was of rose-water, their beds were decked with royal magnificence, and they were served at St. Maria of Araceli in the Capitol by the twenty-eight buoni huomini. They afterwards received from Robert king of Naples the sword of shivalry (Hist. Rom. 1. i. 4. 2, p. 259).