BLACK PLAGUE 209
many children and there exhorted the princes, denounced the Popes and clamoured for an end of the exile, herself told Clement that he was an amator carnis, a lover of the flesh.
It is nevertheless true that a man of firmer character than this gallant Pontiff could not have risked going back to Rome. Devotees of armed might were everywhere busy carving little kingdoms out of the Papal provinces; and Rome itself presented an unparallelled pageant of an- archy. After the nobles had been defeated, the romantic spirit of Cola di Rienzi strutted about for a while, dressed in shreds of die past splendour of Rome and the Empire. This tribune of the people had delighted the Pope in Avignon and had won the friendship of Petrarch. But after his fall, Charles IV, to whose court in Prague he had fled, turned him over to the Pope as a heretic. The Avignon which he now beheld anew had meanwhile been purchased by Queen Joanna of Naples and made the property of the Roman See. This it remained until the French Revolution.
The Black Plague was now abroad. The Pope lived behind his thick walls as if in quarantine and received no one. A third of the population of Europe was buried in common graves, and those who survived trembled before the Lord God. New processions of Flagel- lantes, scourging their naked backs as they sang the Kyrie Eleison, moved through the land. A wave of religious enthusiasm brought hosts of pilgrims to Rome for the jubilee of 1350. Some of the laughter that was heard was the laughter of despair. In Avignon there was circulated in 1351 a "Letter of Lucifer to the Pope, His Viceroy on Earth." In it die Prince of Darkness thanks the Sovereign Pontiff, his cardinals and his prelates, for all the aid given him in his struggle against Christ. Victory was no longer remote. He sent greetings to them all, in the name also of their mother, Pride, and of all her sister Vices. A novella in Boccaccio's Decameron breathes the same spirit. Thus turbulent disgrundement of the era of the plague arose from hearts as devoted to the Church as that of Petrarch hearts that agreed with Dante, Rienzi, and all the humanists, that the Papal exile was a desecration of the Papacy and Italy alike. In their opposition to France and Avignon, they were abetted by more serious minds who, desiring cultural autonomy, strove to bring about a na- tional renaissance against all barbarians, including the French. In