ALEXANDER 293 ALEXANDER they begged for an armistice. The humiliation of the Roman aristocracy was complete; for the first time in the history of the papacy the Pope was, in the fullest sense, ruler of his States.
Alexander, still hale and vigorous in his seventy- third year, and looking forward to many more years of reign, proceeded to strengthen his position by re- pleting his treasury in ways that were more than du- bious. The Sacred College now contained so many of his adherents and countrymen that he had nothing to fear from that quarter. He enjoyed and laughed at the scurrilous lampoons that were in circulation, in which he was accused of incredible crimes, and took no steps to shield his reputation. War had broken out in Naples between France and Spain over the division of the spoils. Alexander was still in doubt which side he could most advantageously support, when his career came to an abrupt close. On Au- gust, 1503, the Pope, with Cæsar and others, dined with Cardinal Adriano da Corneto in a villa belonging to the Cardinal, and very imprudently remained in the open air after nightfall. The entire company paid the penalty by contracting the pernicious Roman fever. On the twelfth the Pope took to his bed. On the eighteenth his life was despaired of; he made his confession, received the last sacraments, and expired towards evening. The rapid decomposition and swol- len appearance of his corpse gave rise to the familiar suspicion of poison. Later the tale ran that he had drunk by mistake a poisoned cup of wine which he had prepared for his host. Nothing is more certain than that the poison which killed him was the deadly mi- crobe of the Roman campagna [Pastor, op. cit., III, 469—472; Creighton, Hist. of the Papacy (London, 1887), IV, 44]. His remains lie in the Spanish na- tional church of Santa Maria di Monserrato.
An impartial appreciation of the career of this ex- traordinary person must at once distinguish between the man and the office. "An imperfect setting", says Dr. Pastor (op. cit., III, 475), "does not affect the intrinsic worth of the jewel, nor does the golden coin lose its value when it passes through impure hands. In so far as the priest is a public officer of a holy Church, a blameless life is expected from him, both because he is by his office the model of virtue to whom the laity look up, and because his life, when virtuous, inspires in onlookers respect for the society of which he is an ornament. But the treasures of the Church, her Divine character, her holiness, Divine revelation, the grace of God, spiritual authority, it is well known, are not dependent on the moral character of the agents and officers of the Church. The foremost of her priests cannot diminish by an iota the intrinsic value of the spiritual treasures confided to him." There have been at all times wicked men in the ecclesiasti- cal ranks. Our Lord foretold, as one of its severest trials, the presence in His Church not only of false brethren, but of rulers who would offend, by various forms of selfishness, both the children of the house- hold and "those who are without". Similarly, He compared His beloved spouse, the Church, to a thresh- ing floor, on which fall both chaff and grain until the time of separation. The most severe arraignments of Alexander, because in a sense official, are those of his Catholic contemporaries. Pope Julius II (Gregoro- vius, VII, 494) and the Augustinian cardinal and re- former, Ægiilius of Viterbo, in his manuscript "His- toria XX Sirculorum", preserved at Rome in the Bibliotheca Angelica. The Oratorian Raynaldus (d. 1677), who continued the semi-official Annals of Ba- ronius, gave to the world at Rome (ad an. 1460, no. 41) the above-mentioned paternal but severe reproof of the youthful Cardinal by Pius II, and stated else- where (ad an. 1495, no. 26) that it was in his time the opinion of historians that Alexander had obtained the papacy partly through money and partly through promises and the persuasion that he would not inter- fere with the lives of his electors. Mansi, the schol- arly Archbishop of Lucca, editor and annotator of Raynaldus, says (XI, 415) that it is easier to keep silence than to write with moderation about this Pope. The severe judgment of the late Cardinal Hergenrö- ther, in his " Kirchengeschichte", or Manual of Church History (4th. ed., Freiburg, 1904 II, 982-983) is too well known to need more than mention.
So little have Catholic historians defended him that in the middle of the nineteenth century Cesare Cantù could write that Alexander VI was the only Pope who had never found an apologist. However, since that time some Catholic writers, both in books and period- icals, have attempted to defend him from the most grievous accusations of his contemporaries. Two in particular may be mentioned: the Dominican Ol- livier, "Le Pape Alexandre VI et les Borgia" (Paris, 1870), of whose work only one volume appeared, dealing with the Pope's cardinalate; and Leonetti, "Papa Alessandro VI secondo documenti e carteggi del tempo" (3 vols., Bologna, 1880). These and other works were occasioned, partly by a laudable de- sire to remove a stigma from the good repute of the Catholic Church, and partly by the gross exaggerations of Victor Hugo and others who permitted themselves all licence in dealing with a name so helpless and de- tested. It cannot be said, however, that these works have corresponded to their authors' zeal. Dr. Pas- tor ranks them all as failures. Such is the opinion of Henri de I'Epinois in the "Revue des questions historiques" (1881), XXIX, 147, a study that even Thuasne, the hostile eilitor of the Diary of Burchard, calls "the indispensable guide of all students of Bor- gia history". It is also the opinion of the Bollandist Matagne, in the same review for 1870 and 1872 (IX, 466-475; XI, 181-198), and of Von Ueumont, the Catholic historian of medieval Rome, in Bonn. Theol. Lit. Blatt (1870), V. 686. Dr. Pastor considers that the publication of the documents in the supplement to the third volume of Thuasne's edition of the Diary of Burchard (Paris, 1883) renders "forever impos- sible "any attempts to save the reputation of Alex- ander VI. There is all the less reason, therefore, says Cardinal Hergenröther (op. cit., II, 983), for the false charges that have been added to his account, e. g. his attempt to poison Cardinal Adriano da Corneto and his incestuous relations with Lucrezia (Pastor, op. cit. III, 375, 450-451, 475). Other accusations, says the same writer, have been dealt with, not unsuccess- fully, by Roscoe in his "Life of Leo the Tenth"; by Capefigue in his "Eglise pendant les quatre derniers siècles" (I, 41-46), and by Chantrel, "Le Pape Alex- andre VI" (Paris, 1864). On the other hand, while immoral writers have made only too much capital out of the salacious paragraphs scattered through Bur- chard and Infessura, there is no more reason now than in the days of Raynaldus and Mansi for con- cealing or perverting the facts of history. "I am a Catholic", says M. de I'Epinois (loc. cit.), "and a disciple of the God who hath a horror of lies. I seek the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth Although our weak eyes do not see at once the uses of it, or rather see damage and peril, we must pro- claim it fearlessly." The same good principle is set forth by Leo Xlll in his Letter of 8 September, 1889, to Cardinals De Luca, Pitra, and Hergenröther on the study of Church History: "The historian of the Church has the duty to dissimulate none of the trials that the Church has had to suffer from the faults of her children, and even at times from those of her own ministers." Long ago Leo the Great (440—461) de- clared, in his third homily for Christmas Day, that "the dignity of Peter suffers no diminution even in an unworthy successor" (cuius dignitas etiam in in- digno hærede non deficit). The very indignation that the evil life of a great ecclesiastic rouses at all times (nobly expressed by Pius II in the above-mentioned