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CATASTROPHE

thority to annul the marriage of Duchess Margareta Maultasch and marry her to his son. The chaotic situation lasted until the German Prince-Electors, dissatisfied with their Emperor, themselves granted the urgent request of the new Pope Clement VI and brought about a sudden change. They sundered themselves from Ludwig, who was now an ally of England, and once again the object of the ban to which terrible curses were appended; and they hoped to realize Ger- many's profound desire for peace by electing Charles of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, who had been recommended by his friend the Pope. Him they elected German King, and soon thereafter Ludwig died. During the long reign of the shrewd, carefully calculating Rex Cleri- corttm (13461378), the Avignon Popes played their part to the end. Clement VI (1342-1352) cannot be regarded by an objective his- torian as any better than Petrarch's description implies, though Petrarch was a satirist of his times. The poet had come to Avignon from Florence as a boy with his family, had seen a good deal of the world as a student and a traveller, and had built for himself in quiet Vaucluse, close to the Papal palace, a refuge from a world which he hated and loved, idealized and despised with equal ardour. Crowned with the poet's wreath in Rome, he returned to the city of his Laura in 1342, Petrarch lived from 1304 to 1374, so that he was almost exactly con- temporaneous with the Avignon exile. As he observed the conduct of the Popes, he conceived the idea for his acrid and venomous Letters without a Name. Clement VI, whom he himself served in a politi- cal capacity, is the villain of the piece. This cynical man of the world, who has chosen the epicurean art of living rather than the Church for his bride, is seen rejoicing in the fact that he need not live in the "vulgar hut" of the Roman Lateran. Stretched out com- fortably in his gorgeous apartment, he looks about at his herd. He rides to the hunt, followed by a proud retinue, beside his beloved niece, Cecilia Semitamis who dominates the whole palace with her charms. A future Pope, if he should let the mask fall (says Petrarch) would ship the whole Curia to Bagdad: not seven Gregorys could make good the damage done to the Church by two Clements, the V and the VL The laments of other contemporaries establish the validity of Petrarch's satire. St. Brigitta, the mystic and reformatricc of Sweden, who took up residence in Rome as the widowed mother of


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