as a rude barbarian. Since even Platina could say nothing worse, this Pope who loved the world, doubtless also added something to the carnival joys of the Romans, but could not bring himself to go beyond imposing the ban on the Hussites, managed to earn a decent histori- cal reputation.
History has had to deal otherwise with his immediate successors. Even so all the ignominy which the Popes of the next fifty years were to heap upon the Papacy is not without its significance for the political historian; and to the chronicler of culture these are, of course, decades of splendour. Because these pontificates were alternately or simulta- neously concerned with fostering either the Papal States or nepotism, they prevented Rome from being swallowed up by France or the Spanish world empire.
Sixtus IV (14711484) , born of a poor family of fisherfolk named Rovere in the Genoese country, first a Friar Minor and then General of the Franciscan Order, appears in the Vatican fresco painted by Melozzo da Forli as a venerable, princely figure, earnest, restrained, who gazes meditatively into the distance through wise, beautiful eyes. Among the men grouped before the seated Pontiff is Platina, Prefect of the Library, who kneels and points to an inscription which glorified the Pope as a builder of churches, bridges and squares, and the donor of a foundling hospital. The rest are relatives, among them also Galliano della Rovere who was later to become Pope Julius II. This group-picture, which portrays the opening of the Vatican Library, is also known as "Sixtus IV and his Circle." The chronicler of the Papacy looks upon it differently than does the friend of the arts.
Hardly was Sixtus elected than he appointed his nephews Giuliano and the degenerate Pietro Riario bishops and cardinals. Pietro soon managed to have a yearly income of about 2,250,000 francs in present- day currency. This he did not long enjoy, for he soon died of the effects of his dissoluteness. The most beloved of Papal favourites was, however, Pietro's brother, Girolamo Riario, a layman. Origi- nally a pedlar of spices, he became the sovereign of an important principality. The fact that his uncle had been zealous in behalf of the Crusades proved of value also to him; for according to contempo- raries the real Turks were the Pope's nephews. The tithes and the