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Art. I.-1. Sixte Quint. Par M. le BARON DE HÜBNER,
Ancien ambassadeur d'Autriche à Paris et à Rome, d'après des correspondances diplomatiques tirées des Archives d'état du Vatican, de Simancas, Venise, Paris, Vienne et Florence.
3 vols. 8vo. Paris : 1870. 2. Histoire de Sixte Quint, sa Vie et son Pontificat. Par M.
A. J. DUMESNIL, officier de la Légion d'honneur, membre du Conseil général du Loire. Paris : 1869. Of all the Popes who have worn the tiara few merit U more attention than the remarkable figure of Sixtus V., the fiery and imperious friar-pope, best known to Englishmen from his connexion with the Spanish Armada. The story of his brief pontificate is crowded with incident and is most instructive, both when regarded as characteristic of the nature of the papal power, and as suggestive of what would have been the effect upon humanity of that spiritual empire of the world which it has failed to establish. It comprises within the brief compass of four years and four months the greatest crisis in the conflict of the Catholic and Reformed religions which then divided Europe--a period during which the papacy was still regarded as supreme arbitress among the Catholic powers of Europe, and when not only the spiritual but the temporal interests of nations were the matter of fierce and incessant conflict in the chambers of the Vatican.
The study of this eventful pontificate has frequently attracted the diligence of the historian. Three authors, who have previously to the writers whose volumes are now before us dealt with the subject, may be distinguished from the rest -Gregorio Leti, Father Tempesti, and Ranke.
VOL. CXXXII. NO. CCLXX.
Gregorio Leti enjoyed at one time much celebrity, but his history of Sixtus V., like the rest of the works of this writer, who was a deserter from the ranks of the Roman hierarchy, deserves little confidence; it is a mere compilation of loose traditions, and partakes of the nature of romance.
On the other hand, the work published in Rome in 1754 by Tempesti, a friar of the Franciscan order, like the Pope whose life he undertook to write, and whose fame he claims for the honour of his community, was founded on the honest study of original diplomatic and state documents, which he has incorporated into his text. The history is a painstaking and solid performance in two quarto volumes ; but the style of the narrative was not sufficiently attractive to attain popularity. It supplies, however, the chief substance of the work of M. Dumesnil, published last year, who has fused together the work of Tempesti and materials from other printed sources into a very readable volume.
Ranke, in his · History of the Popes in the Sixteenth Cen* tury,' was the first to seize in a broad and masterly way the characteristic lineaments of Sixtus V.; and as he enjoyed the opportunity of studying original documents not to be found in Tempesti, his account of this pontificate was a new contribution to historic truth.
Baron de Hübner, the author of the first of the works with which we here deal, has, from his diplomatic position, had access to the archives of the chief capitals of Europe; he also obtained the assistance of the late Mr. Bergenroth in making copies of documents from the archives of Simancas, and has thus been enabled to give to the world a fresh mass of statepapers of the highest interest relating to Sixtus V., published as pièces justificatives in a supplement to his text, which is a narrative of this pontificate of extreme fairness, though from a Catholic point of view. The Baron filled the post of Austrian ambassador at the Court of France on the 1st January, 1859; and it was to him that the Emperor Napoleon III. addressed the memorable words, which announced that the Empire was about to break loose from its policy of peace, and to engage in the campaign which drove the Austrians beyond the Mincio.
Baron Hübner's narrative contains a review of the general condition of Italy and of Europe in a most troubled period, and of the difficult relations of the Papacy with the various European powers ; it sets forth the consequent perplexities, variations, and inconsistencies of Papal policy, it depicts the hard-fought diplomatic conflicts which took place in the cabinet of the Pope, and is diversified with antiquarian and curious studies of the state of Roman society, and of the topography of Rome during the fifteenth century; all which subjects are so judiciously and artistically handled and arranged, that the two volumes of text form very various, instructive, and agreeable reading, and are a valuable addition to sound historica literature. Far more accurate than Leti or Tempesti, and less sententious than Ranke, Baron Hübner appears to us to have contributed to the literature of Europe one of the most valuable productions of an age rich in historical biography. His style is vigorous, graphic, and perspicuous; and the reader is seldom, if ever, reminded that the author is writing in a language not his own. We regret that we have not been able to avail ourselves, for the purposes of this article, of the English translation of the work, from the pen of Mr. Hugh Jerningham ; but our readers will shortly have an opportunity of becoming more fully acquainted with the results of Baron Hübner's labours in an English dress.
M. de Pisany, the ambassador of Henri III., who arrived in Rome while the conclave was still sitting which elected Sixtus V., announced to his master that “un cordelier nommé * Montalto' was now Pope. Sixtus V. indeed began his ecclesiastical career as a friar. He was the son of poor parents. His father, Pier Gentile Peretti, was, when the future pope was born, on the 13th December, 1521, a gardener at a small village, Grottamare, near Montalto, about fifty miles south of Ancona, in a delightful neighbourhood with a fair prospect on the Adriatic. The family was of Sclavonic origin, and had escaped from Dalmatia and the terror of the Turkish invasion in the preceding century:
The father of Felice Peretti, as the boy was called, had himself lost everything in the sack of Montalto in 1518, by the Duke of Urbino, after which he removed to Grottamare. Such was the straitened condition of the family, that the mother of the future Pope was obliged to enter domestic service; his aunt became a washerwoman; and it is said that his sister followed the same calling.
The little Felice Peretti is said to have tended his father's swine as a child; however, he had an uncle, Frà Salvadore, in the convent of the order of Minorite Friars at Montalto, beyond the reach of the reverse of fortune which assailed the rest of his family; this Frà Salvadore undertook the education of his nephew, and got him entered into his own convent at the age of nine. The industry, vivacity of spirit, and powers of acquirement of the boy-friar were soon remarkable. After going through courses of rhetoric, philosophy, and theology, in various convents and towns, he became already known as a preacher at nineteen, though he did not take the degree of doctor of theology till 1548. His fame as a preacher rapidly spread throughout Italy; but it was not till the year 1552 in Lent that he made his first essay in a pulpit in Rome at the church of the Santi Apostoli. As his reputation had preceded him, the audience was numerous and distinguished, and among them were to be seen Cardinal Carpi, his earliest benefactor, Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and Filippo Neri, now a saint in the Roman calendar. It would appear, however, from a fragment of a sermon to be found in Baron Hübner's volumes, that his style of oratory was of the kind which the French call amplificative, and rather abundant and ornate than of real moral and religious strength; and that it was mainly his animated gestures and fiery earnest look which made his eloquence impressive with his auditory. That, indeed, is the characteristic of Italian pulpit oratory. He had, however, such success, that his ecclesiastical good fortune dates from his first appearance in Rome, when his talents and character acquired the esteem of the leading members of the Church of Rome.
A great movement of reform was then going on in the bosom of Catholicism itself. The profligate, the voluptuous, and the art-loving popes and cardinals-the Borgias and the Mediciswere disappearing before the earnest zeal of the stern race who awoke anew the sleeping genius of the Church, and evoked afresh the spirit of Hildebrand and Innocent III. The Inquisitor-Pope was in the ascendant, for Loyola and Philip II. had sworn to undo the work of Luther and Calvin. It was from the society of such men as Cardinal Caraffa, afterwards Paul IV., and Cardinal Ghislieri, at that time chief inquisitor, known later as Pius V., the most intolerant and implacable of the new order of Popes, that the future Sixtus V. educated his fiery spirit to that pitch of zeal which made him the greatest pontiff of that age, in whom the spirit of persecution became incarnate, who undertook to war with heresy to the death, and to shut the gates of mercy on all mankind who would not adopt the decrees of the Council of Trent. With such powerful friends as Caraffa, Ghislieri, and Carpi, ecclesiastical promotion was a matter of course with Father Felice Peretti, or Montalto as he now began to be called. He was successively made regent of the convents of his order at Sienna, Naples, and Venice. At Venice he also received the appointment of Inquisitor: and in consequence of the rigorous zeal
with which he supported all the pretensions of Rome in that city, he gained increased confidence with the champions of Papal authority, though he excited hostility among the citizens of the Republic.
After having filled various other offices, he became vicargeneral of his own Franciscan order, which he proceeded to reform with characteristic severity. Subsequently he went on a mission to Spain in the suite of Cardinal Buoncompagni, afterwards Gregory XIII., with whom however he quarrelled on the road in a way which left no room for reconciliation; so that he lived in forced retirement during the whole thirteen years of Gregory's pontificate, which immediately preceded his own. He revenged himself, however, during his retirement by bitter and frequent sarcasms on the government and character of Gregory, and when he himself became Pope, he never failed to contrast the vigour of his own pontificate with the weakness of that of his predecessor; he even had a dream, in which he saw the deceased Pope in the flames of purgatory.
Pius V. was the chief benefactor of the future Sixtus V.; there was much similarity of character between the two ecclesiastics, both were ardent, zealous, and austere, and both regarded the persecution of heresy as the highest of all human and divine duties. Pius V. conferred on his friend two successive bishoprics, and paved the way to the Papacy for him by creating him a cardinal in 1570, when he took the title of Cardinal Montalto, receiving from the Pope at the same time the pension of 100 crowns a month, known as the dish of the
cardinal.' Up to the time of the election of Gregory XIII. he was an active adviser of Pius V., but during his long disgrace after the elevation of his enemy, he lost the dish of the poor cardinal,' and had to fall back for occupation on his passion for building, which he shared in a humbler way with the great Cardinal Farnese, and other members of the Sacred College. He built the villa on the Esquiline Hill, now called the Villa Massimi, but then the Villa Peretti, constructed on part of the site of the gardens of Mæcenas, and in front of the agger of Servius Tullius. He also built a tomb for Nicholas IV. and repaired the chapel del Presepio in Santa Maria Maggiore. To these occupations, and to the publication of a large edition of the works of Saint Ambrose, who appears to have been his favourite father, and whose bold defiance of Theodosius he constantly quoted as a precedent for himself, he devoted his leisure before his advent to the pontificate.
Before he removed however to his new house on the Esqui