Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/330

This page needs to be proofread.
290

ALEXANDER 290 ALEXANDER Alexander ordered investigations to be made, every culprit discovered to be lianged on the spot, and his house to be razed to the ground. He divided the citv into four districts, jilacing over each a magistrate with plenary powers for the maintenance of order; in addi- tion, he reserved the Tuesday of each week as a day on which any man or woman could lay his or her griev- ances before liim.self personally; "and", says the dia- rist, "he set about dispensing justice in an admirable manner." This vigorous method of administering justice soon changed the face of the city, and was as- cribed by the grateful populace to " the interposition of God". Alexancler next turned liis attention to the defence and embellishment of the Eternal Citv. He changed the .Mausoleum of Adrian into a veritable for- tress capable of sustaining a siege. By the fortifica- tion of Torre di Nona, he securetl the city from naval attacks. He deserves to be called the founder of the Leonine City, which he transformed into the most fasliionable quarter of Rome. His magnificent Via Alessandrina, now called Borgo Nuovo, remains to the present day the grand approach to St. Peter's. Under his direction, Pinturicchio adorned the Ap- partimento Borgia in the Vatican, pointing the way to his immortal disciple, Raphael. In addition to the structures erected by himself, his memory is as- sociated witli the many others built by monarchs and cardinals at his instigation. During liis reign Bra- mante designed for Ferdinand and Isabella that exquisite architectural gem, the Tempietto, on the tra- ditional site of St. Peter's martyrdom. If not Bra- mante, some other great architect, equally attracted to Rome by the report of the Pope's liberality, built for Cardinal Riario the magnificent palace of the Can- cellaria. In l.WO, the ambassador of Emperor Max- imilian laid the cornerstone of the handsome national cliuroh of the Germans, Santa Maria dell' Anima. Not to be outdone, the French Cardinal Bri^onnet erected SS. Trinita dei Monti, and the Spaniards Santa Maria di Monserrato. To Alexander we owe the beautiful ceiling of Santa Maria Maggiore, in the decoration of which tradition says he employed the first gold brought from America by Columbus. Although he laid no great claim to learning, he fos- tered literature and science. As cardinal he had written two treatises on canonical subjects and a de- fence of the Christian faith. He rebuilt the Roman University and made generous provision for the sup- port of the professors. He surrounded himself with learned men and had a special predilection for ju- rists. His fondness for theatrical performances en- couraged the development of the drama. He loved pontifical ceremonies, to which his majestic figure lent grace and dignity. He listened to good sermons with a critical ear, and admired fine music. In 1497, Alexander decreed that the " Prffifectus Sacrarii Pon- tificii", commonly called "Sacristan of the Pope", but virtually parish-priest of the Vatican and keeper of the Pope's conscience, should be permanently and exclusively a prelate chosen from the Augustinian Order, an arrangement that still endures. Alexander earned the enmity of Spain, the obloquy of many nar- row minded contemporaries, and the gratitude of pos- terity, by his tolerant policy towards the Jews, whom he c()iil(l not be coerced into banishing or molesting. The concourse of pilgrims to Rome in the Jubilee year. 1. ")()(), was a magnificent demonstration of the depth and univer.sality of the popular faith. The capacity of the city to house and feed so many thous- anils of visitors from all parts of ICurope was taxed to the utmost, but Alexander spared no expense or pains to provide for the .security and comfort of his guests. To maintain peace among Christians and to form a coalition of the European Powers against the Turks was the policy he had inherited from his imcle. One of the first of his pul)lic acts was to prevent a collision between Spain and Portugal over their ncwly-di.s- covered territories, by drawing his line of demarcation, an act of truly peaceful import, and not of usurpation and ambition [Civilta, Cattolica (1865), I, 665-680]. He did his best to dissuade Charles VIII of France from his projected invasion of Italy; if ho was un- successful, the blame is in no slight degree due to the unpatriotic course of that same Giuliano della Rovere who later, as Julius II, made futile efforts to expel the "barbarians" whom he liimself had invited. Alex- ander issued a wise decree concerning the censorship of books, and sent the first missionaries to the New Worid. Notwithstanding these and similar actions, which might seem to entitle him to no mean place in the annals of the papacy, Alexander continued as Pope the manner of life that had disgraced his cardinalate (Pastor, op. cit., Ill, 449-452). A stern Nemesis pursued liim tiU death in the shape of a strong paren- tal affection for his children. The report of the Fer- rarese ambassador, that the new Pope had resolved to keep them at a distance from Rome, is quite credi- ble, for all his earlier measures for their advancement pointed towards Spain. While still a cardinal, he had married one daughter, Girolama, to a Span'=!h noble- man. He had bought for a son, Pedro Luis, from the Spanish monarch the Duchy of Gandia, and when Pedro died soon after he procured it for Juan, his old- est surviving son by Vanozza. Tlus ill-starred young man was married to a cousin of the King of Spain, and became grandfather to St. Francis Borgia, whose virtues went a great way towards atoning for the vices of his kin. The fond father made a great mistake when he selected his boy Csesar as the ecclesiastical representative of the Borgias. In 1480, Pope Inno- cent VIII made the child eligible for Orders by absol- ving him from the ecclesiastical irregidarity that fol- lowed his birth de cplscopo cardrnali el conjvgatd, and conferred several Spanish benefices on liim, the last being the Bishopric of Pampeluna, in the neighbour- hood of which, by a strange fatality, he eventually met his death. A week after Alexander's coronation he appointed Ca>sar, now eighteen years old, to the Archbishopric of Valencia; but Cresar neither went to Spain nor e'er took Orders. The youngest son, Jofre, was also to be inflicted upon the Church of Spain. A further e'idence that the Pope had deter- mined to keep his cliildren at a distance from court is that his daughter Lucrezia was betrothed to a Span- ish gentleman; the marriage, however, never took place. It had already become the .settled policy of the popes to have a personal representatie in the Sacred College, and so Alexander cho.se for this con- fidential position Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, his sis- ter's son. The subsequent abandonment of liis good resolutions concerning his children may safely be as- cribed to the evil counsels of Ascanio Sforza, whom Borgia had rewardetl with the vice-chancellorship, and who was irtually his prime minister. The main purpose of Ascanio's residence at the papal court was to advance the interests of his brother, Lodovico il Moro, who had been regent of Milan for so many years, during the minority of their nephew Gian Ga- leazzo, that he now refused to surrender the reins of government, though the rightful duke had attained his majority. Gian Galeazzo was powerless to assert liis rights; but his more energetic wife was grand- daughter to King I'errante of Naples, and her inces- sant appeals to her family for aid left Lodovico in con- stant dread of Neapolitan invasion. Alexander had many real grievances against Fcrrantc, the latest of which was the financial aid the King had given to the Pope's vassal, Virginio Orsini, in the purchase of Cervctri and Anguillara, without Alexander's con- sent. In addition to the contempt of the papal au- tliority involved in the transaction, this accession ot strenglli to a l)aroiiial f.amily already too powerful could not but be highly displeasing. Alexander was,