THE STORY OF NAPOLEON AND PIUS VII E. E. Y. HALES
DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, INC.
NIHIL OBSTAT : James A. Reynolds, Ph.D. Censor Deputatus
IMPRIMATUR : Francis Cardinal Spellman Archbishop of New York June 24, 1961
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed.
ONE. The General and the Monk
I GENERAL BONAPARTE LANDS
II CONCLAVE ON AN ISLAND
III A MONK MADE POPE
TWO. Christendom Restored
I THE ALTARS REBUILT
II THE POPE AT PARIS
III NAPOLEON CROWNED
THREE. The Conflict
I THE EMPEROR TAKES ALL
II PIUS EXCOMMUNICATES NAPOLEON
III PIUS IS KIDNAPPED
IV SILENCE AT SAVONA
V THE BLACK CARDINALS
I THIRD DEGREE AT SAVONA
II ORDEAL IN THE ALPS
III THE GRAND ARMY ANNIHILATED
IV FACE TO FACE
FIVE. The Wheel Full Circle
I NAPOLEON AT BAY
Napoleon, ruminating in the solitude of his weary exile on Saint Helena, remarked: "I should have had the Pope close by my side, then I would have been master of religion as surely as if I had been her sole Lord. The Pope would have done everything I wanted and I would have suffered no opposition from the faithful."
Opposition of the faithful, from Madrid to Warsaw, from Cologne to Rome, had played a large part in his final defeat. He knew it now, knew it as his mind revolved over and over, on Saint Helena, pondering all the might-have-beens of his career.
Yet he never understood the opposition of the faithful. He supposed, still, that he could have dealt with it by being tougher with the Pope, by compelling Pius VII to live close by his side at Paris. Under those conditions: "the Pope would have done everything I wanted."
But would he? The whole of Pius's life, indeed the whole past history of the papacy, should have shown him it was unlikely. Even on Saint Helena, Napoleon had still not grasped that Pius would never yield on essentials, wherever he might be forced to live. Nor had Napoleon learnt that it was precisely his tough policy with the Pope which had raised the opposition of the faithful against him. He had not learnt, he never did learn, that if he insisted on Europe's rendering unto Caesar what belonged to Caesar it would still be necessary for him to follow her to render to God what belonged to God. Pius VII was not a saint, at least the Church has never declared him such. The miracles attributed to him at Savona may not be authentic. And he did yield, if only momentarily, after the brainwashing and third degree used against him at Savona and at Fontainebleau. Nor was he a martyr, for he did not die, as he was expected to die, of his treatment on the Mont Cenis pass. Moreover he seems to have been subject to scruples.
Yet Rome, one can assume, will not forget that had Napoleon gained the final victory over Pius and over Europe he would have enslaved the Church. Nor that of all the struggles throughout history between Church and State this was the most dramatic, and perhaps the most consequential. One has to go back to the eleventh century, to the days of Hildebrand and the Emperor Henry IV, to find anything like this contest between Pius VII and Napoleon. Nor will one find, even in the Middle Ages, such political omnipotence worsted in a struggle with so simple a goodness.
I have only tried, in these pages, to tell the story of these two men in their dealings with each other. They were the two most important men of their age, heads of the spiritual and temporal orders, but they were also human beings with human qualities, good and bad, strong and weak, which shaped their story. One was a political and military genius -- ambitious, perceptive, impatient, ruthless; the other was a monk -- sensitive, scrupulous, with a sense of humour, physically frail, detached. The bad was not all on one side, nor the good all on the other; had that been so their story would not be nearly so interesting. But whereas Napoleon, despite his superb gifts, allowed the soul-destroying elements in his character gradually to gain the mastery and to destroy him, the Pope's religion enabled him to turn even his very weaknesses to his own redemption.
I have told the story without burdening it with references or with a bibliography -- these can be found in my Revolution and Papacy, 1769-1846 ( Hanover House, 1960) -- but it may be worth stating here that the most important published books are the memoirs of Cardinals Consalvi, Pacca, and Maury, and of Prince Metternich; Napoleon's letters; and the historical works of Artaud de Montor, Mayol de Lupé, Jean Leflon, André Latreille, Joseph Schmidlin, Bernardine MelchioirBonnet, and Ilario Rinieri. All these, except the last, may be read in French; detailed bibliographies may be found in the books of Leflon, Latreille, and Schmidlin.
And lastly I would take this opportunity of thanking those in Italy who aided my enquiries, and especially the staff at the Vatican Library; the Benedictine Community on the island of San Giorgio Venice (who preserve so carefully the Chapel where the Conclave of 1799-1800 was held); and my good friend Monsignor Giovanni Battista Parodi, Bishop of Savona and Noli, who introduced me to the rooms occupied by Pius VII and preserved as that Pope left them, to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Pity in the hills behind Savona, and -- with splendid impartiality -- to the cell in the ruined castle where Giuseppe Mazzini looked out over the Mediterranean and dreamed his dream of Young Italy. Savona is worth a visit, and the clergy at the cathedral are kindly guides.
The General and the Monk
I. GENERAL BONAPARTE LANDS
Looking back over the centuries it is only rarely that one can point to a particular occasion and say: there, at that time, in that place, a particular person did something which changed the whole course of civilization. One such occasion, no doubt, was when the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity and had himself baptized. But other events, equally dramatic, have had less permanent effect. When John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln at Ford's theatre something cataclysmic certainly occurred; yet the course of history was not changed by the deed because, before very long, the principles Lincoln had stood for were achieved; the shooting had only delayed the reconciliation on which he had set his heart.
Historians generally have seen, in the landing of General Bonaparte on October 9, 1799, at Fréjus, in the south of France, one of those decisive occasions destined to change the course of civilization. He might so easily never have landed at all. He had sailed in a small frigate almost the whole length of the Mediterranean Sea at a time when Nelson's navy dominated those waters. He may well have owed his survival to an unseasonable northerly breeze that kept his ship hugging the north African coast; at all events he only sighted an English ship on the last day and was able to land safely, to proceed straight to Paris, to effect his coup d'état, and during the next fifteen years so to revolutionize the life and institutions of most 4of Europe that his period of power marks the true divide between modern society and the ancien régime.
Had Bonaparte not landed it is possible enough that the positive gains of the French Revolution would have been lost. For though it was ten years since the Bastille had been captured, and more than six since the Bourbon King had been executed, the Revolution was still on the defensive. The Allies had driven the French armies back, and the Bourbons might well have been restored, as they would be later on. Their return later would not really matter, because by then it would be too late for them to restore the past; Napoleon Bonaparte would have done too much for that to be any longer possible. But in 1799 the constructive gains of the French Revolution were quite insecure.
And another thing might have happened if Bonaparte had not landed safely: the fanatical Jacobins might have seized control. For they, like the royalists, were growing stronger. Another Robespierre might have won power and have finally extinguished French revolutionary idealism in a new bath of blood.
But Bonaparte did land safely, landed and went to Paris to keep his "rendezvous with manifest destiny." This small, sallow man, with the piercing eyes and the dishevelled hair, this soldier who, at the age of thirty-one, had already routed the armies of the Emperor of Austria and of the Sultan of Turkey, now saw himself and was heralded as a man of miracles, who would restore the French to peace, to order, and to dominion, and give to France laws and institutions suited to sustain her new social order.
All these things he would do, and many more, before that later day, nearly fifteen years ahead, when he would be once more at Fréjus, not landing, but embarking, and trying to hide himself from countrymen who were cursing him as a tyrant. October 1799. Since June he had been sailing from Egypt, eluding the English, calling at Corsica (to see his home, which he had last seen when he was little more than a penniless adventurer) bringing with him only a trusted few, not so much to fight his battles as to sing his story. He had left his army in Egypt and in Syria -- had had to leave it there because Nelson had destroyed his ships in Aboukir bay. But with that army (here was the song his companions were to sing) he had won the battle of the Pyramids, shooting down the proud Mamelukes, in their shining armour, on their Arab horses; for the Mamelukes, for all their splendour, had held no guns.
In France he was already a legendary figure, had indeed been legendary before he sailed to Egypt, had become legendary three years earlier, at Arcola and Rivoli, at Mantua and Milan, when he had been dictating terms to the Austrians and disposing of the Doge of Venice and his venerable Council of Ten. So now that he had landed on French soil, and was making his way to Paris, the news of his return sent a thrill through the country, and the crowds turned out to greet him, not just because he was a legendary figure, but because France was looking for a saviour and believed that this was he. In his absence French armies had been beaten in Italy and on the Rhine and the revolutionary government of France had become a tiresome clique of incompetent Directors, who quarrelled with each other and with the Assembly, and who made fortunes for themselves by backing their inside political knowledge. The Royalists in the region of the Vendée were still in smouldering revolt, while fanatical Jacobins, who had been in eclipse since the murder of Robespierre five years ago, were frightening peaceable Parisians by talking of the guillotine again. After ten years of continuing Revolution the outcome of the great upheaval could still scarcely be guessed.
Most. Frenchmen were against the extremists, whether of Right or of Left. Neither respectable bourgeois Paris nor the peasantry wanted the Bourbons back, because both had won too much by the Revolution to want to risk having to restore their winnings. Nor did either want the Jacobins, for if the Jacobins won power again there would be too many imprisonments and executions; there would also be too few sacraments. Frenchmen wanted a man who would keep order without asking them to give up what they had won, and they wanted somebody who would avenge the recent defeats abroad and restore French honour, security, and religion. A general seemed indicated, and which of the generals could compare with the one who had just landed?
No doubt a coup d'état would be needed to put him into power, but Paris was used to coups d'état. The last two, those of 1795 and 1797, had been organized, on the military side, by Bonaparte himself, for the benefit of others. Now it would only be necessary for him to organize one for his own benefit; one which would put himself at the head of the State. Parisian opinion was justified in supposing that Bonaparte's military achievements already surpassed those of the other French generals, but not all Frenchmen realized that it was his superb publicity which had put the others so far into the shade. Nor did they know how good a politician he was. From Milan he had ruled northern Italy, which he called the Cisalpine Republic, from Cairo he had ruled Egypt. He had signed treaties, deposed rulers, put his own agents into power, given a new constitution to Malta. He had nearly become a Mohammedan to further his objectives on the Nile.
This last endeavour was characteristic of his methods. Believing, as he did, in God, he regarded the religions of all peoples as sacrosanct and deserving of protection. He also regarded them as useful, being less concerned for the salvation of souls than for the moral values inculcated by religion, and especially the values of obedience, order, and respect for authority. He realized that, on account of these values, religion could be a powerful source of support to a ruler; but to gain the full benefit from a people's religion it would be necessary for him to convince those whom he was ruling that their religion was also his own. So his religious versatility became remarkable. "It was by making myself a Catholic," he said a little later, "that I won the war in the Vendée, by making myself a Moslem that I established myself in Egypt, by making myself an ultramontane that I turned men's hearts towards me in Italy. If I were to govern a nation of Jews I would rebuild the Temple of Solomon."
So in Egypt he had become the champion of Allah and the Prophet. He had read the Kosades against Islam, the wars to recover the Holy Land: "Have we not," he told the Egyptians, "destroyed the Pope, who preached war against the Moslems? [ Pius VI had been removed from Rome in February 1798 by General Berthier.] Have we not destroyed the Knights of Malta because those madmen beliran. He had posed as the enemy of the Pope and of Catholic Christianity; on them he blamed the medieval wars of the Crueved it was God's will that they should make war on the Moslems? Have we not all through the centuries been friends of the Grand Seigneur [the Sultan of Turkey] and enemies of his enemies?"
Strictly speaking the answer to each of these rhetorical questions was "No," but they served well enough as a manifesto to impress the Egyptians at the time of the French invasion. Something more might be needed to underpin a French occupation of Egypt, but if anybody could find it Bonaparte could. Why, he asked himself, should not he and his army become Mohammedans? He discussed the point with Moslem religious leaders; enquiries were made at Mecca. He discovered that it would not be easy; was his army, for instance, prepared to submit to circumcision and to refrain from drinking wine? Bonaparte saw the difficulties, but he secured a "certificate of competence in Mohammedan religious knowledge" and an order from the appropriate religious authorities to the faithful that they were to obey him.
At Milan, just six months after his Fréjus landing, he would show himself in a new religious guise. Talking there to the Catholic priests he was reported as saying: "Experience has disillusioned the French and has convinced them that the Catholic religion is the one which more than any other is suited to every kind of government, and that in a special way it develops the principles and sustains the rights of a democratic and republican government. I, too, am a philosopher, and I know that in no society can a man be honest and just if he does not know whence he comes and where he is going. Reason is not sufficient to give him this light, without which every man is obliged to journey in the dark. The Catholic religion alone, with its infallibility, confronts man with his beginning and his end."
If Bonaparte showed himself adept at adjusting his words about religion to suit the occasion he was not merely hypocritical. He believed that God had spoken in sundry ways, at sundry times, for the social benefit of sundry peoples, which was a good eighteenth-century "enlightened" and deistic attitude. God had given to the Jews the Covenant and the Old Testament; to the Christians the New Testament; to Mahomet and his followers the Koran, and so on. But especially, of course, God had given a Destiny to General Bonaparte; as surely as He had given the Wise Men a Star to guide them to Bethlehem had He also put Bonaparte's career under the guidance of a Star, for the good of the French, for the good of Europe, for the good of the East, indeed for the good of any people fortunate enough to live where the General's Destiny might take Him. That Destiny was something loftier than most men could perceive, but fortunately they did not need to perceive it. All they needed was to obey the precepts of their various religions; he would see to it that their religious leaders taught them their duty, which was to obey himself.
Atheism and agnosticism were abhorrent to the General, abhorrent because of his deistic belief in God (which he probably learnt from Rousseau), but also because he did not believe that Society could survive without religion, which was the only prop to sustain morality. For the violently anti-clerical side of the French Revolution he had nothing but contempt, and he attributed the unrest in France in the year 1799 largely to the feud between the "Constitutional" and the "Roman" clergy and to the bitter persecution that the latter still suffered. France, he considered, should be united in her religion; it offended his sense of the fitness of things that different cults should occupy her great cathedrals, on different days, teaching different truths, and worshipping different gods or goddesses. France could only be confused and distracted by such things, as she had been distracted by the actress who had stood on the altar of Notre Dame to represent the Goddess of Reason, or by Robespierre's cult of the Supreme Being. It might not be necessary that he himself should accept the traditional teachings of the Church, but it was a very good thing that Frenchmen generally should do so. The persecution which the Catholic clergy still suffered, scattered in exile in England or Italy, in the Channel Islands, on Oléron, or in French Guiana, like the fate which so many of their brethren had met under the blade of the guillotine, he regarded as a folly damaging to France. In his own phrase, it was "worse than a crime, it was a mistake." For how could it fail to divide and to weaken the French people? France was Catholic, he understood well enough, whatever an "enlightened clique" in Paris might say. And from her religion stemmed her courage, her morality, her industry, her good sense, and especially her sense of order. All Frenchmen should pay their homage, however occasionally, to the traditional God of the French.
This respect for the traditional pieties Bonaparte had always felt in some degree, though he felt it more strongly now that he had returned from Egypt. Besides, he was moved by it sentimentally, and sentiment was strong in this pupil of Rousseau. He was moved by the sound of the Angelus bell, ringing from a French village steeple, because it recalled his Catholic boyhood in Corsica. In Italy, in 1797, he had often ignored the anti-Catholic orders given him by his government at Paris, and in particular he had refused to march on Rome, to turn out the Pope, as his masters at Paris were suggesting. There were excellent military reasons behind his refusal, but he had reasons of the heart and judgment as well; and although he chose to boast, in the following year, to the Egyptians, that the French had "destroyed the Pope," he had in fact no admiration at all for the brutal way in which his government had later "solved" the Roman question, after he had left Italy, or for the republic of speculators and exploiters which they had set up at Rome in the place of Pius VI. The stupidity of such barbarism made him angry. Not in that sort of way would he handle the Church or the Pope. It was senseless to squander or to drive underground a religious power so pervasive when, with a little political subtlety, it could be enlisted on your side. And he had felt in much the same way when, a little earlier, he had been asked to take command of the revolutionary army engaged in trying to suppress the Royalist and Catholic counter-revolution in the Vendée. The command in question made no appeal to him and he turned it down. He knew that the men of the Vendée were inspired by their devotion to their priests, to the Mass, and to the sacraments, and he saw no sense in making war against the deepest instincts of Frenchmen.
Power, Bonaparte already knew, must rest on reconciliation, and the religion of a people was the first thing with which a ruler should be reconciled. And in the case of France this reconciliation would have to be made with Rome. But as he made his way, after his landing at Fréjus, up the valley of the river Rhone, towards Paris, he came upon something that showed him rather shockingly how bitter had been the quarrel between Paris and Rome and how difficult the reconciliation would be. He had reached Valence, and there he met a forlorn group of expatriated Italian priests. They were huddled in a corner of the huge Hôtel du Gouvernement, an ancient fortress and now a civic centre. He induced them into conversation, and they told him how they were watching over the unburied body of Pope Pius VI which lay there in the Hôtel in a sealed coffin.
The leader of this group was Msgr. Spina. Bonaparte rather took to him and encouraged him to tell more. So the monsignor told how, only six weeks previously, the Pope had died, in sordid circumstances, in that building. The government officials had called him Citizen Pope and had treated him without respect. He had been brought over the Alps from the Certosa at Florence where the French had held him after removing him from Rome. Eighty-one years old, he had been utterly unfit to make the journey, his legs being paralyzed. When he had asked to be allowed to die at Rome he had been told "one can die anywhere." They had meant to bring him to Paris, but by the time he had reached Valence it had been obvious that he was moribund, and he had been allowed to die in his bed at the Hôtel du Gouvernement. Spina had been at his side at the end, and his last hours had been peaceful; as he looked out over the Rhone towards the Alps he had murmured a prayer of forgiveness for his enemies.
Pius, Spina insisted, had been a great Pope; he had reigned for twenty-four years and his earthly remains ought now to be returned with full honours to Rome. Meanwhile in this heathen city -- Spina seems to have talked frankly to the General -no honours of any kind had been paid to the body of the Pontiff; the local clergy belonged to the Constitutional Church and everybody was too frightened and embarrassed to do anything.
Such was the story to which Bonaparte listened, critical, attentive, impressed. This, he decided, was not the way to handle the Church or her Spiritual Head.
"C'est trop fort!" he exclaimed tersely.
Then he was on his way again -- to Paris. When, a few weeks later, he had won political power, as first consul, he ordered that a ceremonial homage be paid by the magistrates of Valence to the body of the dead Pope. And when, a little later, he began to negotiate his settlement with Rome, he welcomed Spina, sent by Rome to negotiate it with him.
II. CONCLAVE ON AN ISLAND
So the Pope was dead; nor had he yet been given Christian burial. His body went on lying in its coffin at Valence, and nobody knew quite what to do with it.
Nor did Europe know quite what to do with the papacy. The men of the new age, those whose thought was de mode at Paris, were insisting that it was the last of the Popes who had died, and that the papacy would now disappear along with the superstition which had supported it.
But those with a better grasp of reality, such as the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand, could see that it might be necessary to take a few steps to prevent the superstition from growing again. Talleyrand's own suggestion was characteristically ingenious. Might it not, he suggested, be a good idea to promote a schism in the Church? The effect of the great schism at the end of the fourteenth century had been altogether admirable in paving the way for the Reformation -- why should not a new schism, with Popes and anti-Popes appearing everywhere, discredit finally the Church's authority? It could be arranged so easily. Even before the Pope had died, Talleyrand seriously suggested to the French Government that the right policy would be to say that he was dead. Then, he pointed out, they would proceed at Rome to elect a new Pope, and perhaps, since most of the Sacred College were in exile, some other group of cardinals somewhere else would elect another Pope. Then Pius VI could be produced alive in France, and a con- fusion created which could not fail, as the ingenious apostate put it, "to benefit republican principles."
Perhaps Talleyrand was too ingenious, but the danger was there, and real. Cardinal Antonelli, delegate at Rome, and leader of the rump of the Sacred College still to be found there, had been insisting, in his letters to Pius, that he must lay down clearly the conditions under which the next conclave would be held. And Pius had roused himself from the lethargy induced by his age, his illness, and his misfortunes, to lay it down that the valid conclave would be the one attended by the largest group of cardinals meeting together on the territory of a Catholic ruler. And he had also said that the arrangements for the conclave were to be made by the dean of the Sacred College. Those had become the standing orders; and it was by virtue of them that the dean, Cardinal Albani, who was at Venice when Pius VI died, sent letters to all his brethren summoning them to a conclave in that city.
Some six or seven were there already. But several had to travel from Naples, not without some grumbling that the conclave could quite well have been held down there. Then there were those at Rome who felt that, since the French had been forced to withdraw, and the city was now occupied by a Neapolitan army, it would be safe enough to hold the conclave in the usual place. And several were scattered about in northern Italy. Others would have to come from Spain, from Austria. The three French cardinals resident in France all declined the invitation to come to Venice. The only French cardinal who accepted was the ebullient and eccentric Cardinal Maury. Maury would attend, but he would do so as the representative of his King, the pretender to the French throne, who already called himself Louis XVIII. There would be no representative from the actual France, the France of the Revolution.
How were the cardinals to get to Venice? Their estates had been sequestrated by the French; many of them were penniless. Yet they would have to bring with them their "consultors," and a personal servant or two. Many of them had to borrow their journey money; the great banking house of Torlonia, at Rome, came to the aid of several. And two there were, even amongst the Italians, who would not be coming, cardinals who had resigned the purple, to appease the French. One of these, Cardinal Antici, tried to re-enter the Sacred College on this occasion. He was firmly refused by his sometime brethren in a letter significantly addressed to Signore Tomaso Antici.
The defection of the French left the forthcoming conclave overwhelmingly Italian; indeed the only non-Italians were Maury, two Spanish cardinals, one Savoyard, one Austrian, and the Cardinal of York, of the House of Stuart, who was the brother of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and deputy dean of the Sacred College. But if the conclave would be overwhelmingly Italian it was not that aspect of it which angered the French revolutionary government; Paris was angry first that a conclave should be held at all, to "revive a superstition," and second that it should be held at Venice.
For Venice had been occupied by Austria; and now that the French had been driven from Italy the Austrian Emperor Francis remained in possession not only of the city itself but of much more, of all the northern provinces of the Papal States, down as far as Rome herself, of Milan, and of the whole plain of Lombardy. Francis and his minister Thugut might insist, as they did, that they were putting the Venetian island of San Giorgio at the disposal of the conclave, so that it could be quite undisturbed by the outside world. But Austrian troops remained in occupation of territories extending over a hundred miles to the south, to the west, and to the north, territories which included most of the Papal States, and also the personal estates of several members of the Sacred College. In these circumstances it seemed to the French, who were still at war with Austria, and to the Spaniards, who were in alliance with France, that it was specious to pretend that a conclave held at Venice would be isolated and immune from political pressure. And they were confirmed in their opinion when they found that Vienna was contributing 24,000 ducats to the cardinals' expenses. Talleyrand wrote to Madrid to suggest that Spain should join with France in refusing to recognize the work of a "so-called conclave" which was obviously controlled by Austria. But the reply from Madrid was discouraging; King Charles IV explained that he would be not merely deposed but torn in pieces by the mob if he refused to recognize the Pope elected by the conclave.
Fortune was smiling on Vienna, for Italian feeling, at that time, was incensed not against the Austrians but against the French invader whom Italian peasants and priests had helped the Austrians to expel. So Vienna was confidently expecting that the choice of the new Pope would reflect Italian deference towards Austria, the power that had saved the Church in Italy from the invading French Jacobin and infidel.
Gradually, during October and November of the year 1799, the penurious princes of the Church, as they arrived from their long journeys, made their way by gondola, in ones or twos, down the Grand Canal. On either side they saw the great palaces, they heard the music, they caught glimpses of masked ladies, laughing amongst their "cisiboes." They were having their first sight of the city which had lost its political independence but not its love of gaiety and ostentation. We need not suppose that all the cardinals were shocked. Some of them had known the social life of the palaces of Rome, mingling with the lay aristocracy in watching the carnival, or the races down the Corso; they would not have declined an invitation to be guests of these gay Venetian nobles in their palaces on the Grand Canal.
But the invitations were not forthcoming. Venice was not much interested in the cardinals. She feared they might cast a gloom over the gaiety; they would certainly be an expense. No doubt it was unfortunate that the monastery in which they were to lodge on San Giorgio was not yet ready to receive them but, as ecclesiastics, was it not proper that they should lodge at one or other of the great religious houses of the city -- at the great Dominican house of the Frari, for example? That, the Venetians felt, was the proper place for Churchmen. So the gondoliers turned the prows of their gondolas away from the gaily painted mooring-posts of the palaces and towards the chilly cloisters and conventual cells. There was to be no fun before the business of the election began.
Least of all was there to be fun for the man who was organizing the affair, the young Monsignor Consalvi, auditeur of the Rota, and chosen, over the heads of many, to be secretary of the conclave. That thankless job had been given him because of his energy and efficiency and he would evidently need both. Somehow he had to have the Benedictine monastery on San Giorgio ready to house the conclave by the end of the month. Somehow he must clear away the mass of debris on the piazzále in front of the monastic church. Somehow he must make room for thirty-five cardinals and at least three times as many attendants, together with an Austrian guard of honour. Nor was his task made easier by the fact that the Benedictines showed little haste to move out of their cells to make room for the distinguished visitors.
And how was he to pay for all the work? The 24,000 ducats promised by the Emperor would all be used up in making the place ready, if he were not careful; indeed when the bill appeared it amounted to 17,000, though the obstinate secretary managed to beat it down to 13,000. And amidst all this there was the novendialis (the nine days' obsequies for the Pope lately dead) to be arranged and paid for at the great Venetian cathedral of San Marco. The conclave could not begin till these obsequies were over. And they would not be cheap, could not be cheap, if performed in the way great ceremonies were wont to be performed at San Marco. Fortunately here the envoy of the King of Spain, Monsignor Despuig, who was anxious to make his influence felt early, came to Consalvi's rescue, taking over the whole of the cost of the novendialis. Thus the obsequies of Pius VI were, after all, conducted in a manner of which that ceremonial-loving pontiff would have approved.
Later Despuig would pay for many of the accoutrements for the newly elected Pope and the Spanish Cardinal Lorenzana gave Consalvi 1,600 ducats to be going on with and promised more if it were needed. No doubt Vienna was right in supposing that all this generosity meant that the Spaniards were determined to exert their influence, but the indignant Austrian cry "Simony!" came ill from the lips of Chancellor Thugut, who provided rather more of the necessary cash.
Amidst the argument and effort, and almost unnoticed, there slid slowly down the canal a gondola bearing the Cardinal Chiaramonti, Archbishop of Imola, near Bologna. The cultured and refined Chiaramonti had lived for a time at the court of his patron Pius VI and knew many of the Roman nobility; his company would have graced any of the palaces on the Canal. But he was one of those who least wanted the unoffered invitation. For he was a Benedictine monk who had chosen the cloister and who still loved it. If, as Consalvi told him, it was impossible for him to stay with the Benedictines on San Giorgio till the alterations were completed, then he would find a cloister in Venice; he chose the Dominican house of St. John and St. Paul. There he lived quietly, meeting the other cardinals from time to time, picking up the gossip, a good conversationalist when he chose, with a dry sense of humour, but showing occasional flashes of excitement, which betrayed a nervous temperament. He attracted little attention because he was not considered a likely candidate for the papacy. At fifty-seven he was one of the youngest present; besides, he was supposed (erroneously) to be a relative of the late Pope -- always a disadvantage. Certainly the possibility of his own selection was not in his mind. Before leaving Imola he had begged his flock to pray fervently that the Holy Spirit might give the Church a worthy successor to Pius VI, ending his exhortation with the simple request: "and, since I must go to the conclave, pray, my very dear children, most urgently to the Lord, that He may be will- ing to assist me with His holy grace. The peace of the Lord be with you."
By the end of November all but one of those cardinals who had accepted Albani's invitation had arrived, the thirty-four present were safely in their cells on San Giorgio, the conclave had begun. But unfortunately the one who had failed to arrive was so important that it was agreed that the voting could not begin until he came. This was the Austrian Cardinal Herzan, who carried the Emperor's "Exclusive," that is the right of veto enjoyed by the leading Catholic sovereigns to exclude an uncongenial candidate from election. In view of the Emperor's position as "host" to the conclave, and his possession of most of the Papal States, it was felt to be impossible to proceed with the election in the absence of Herzan. But the delay was galling. Not till December 6 did the Austrian reach Venice, and even then he did not bother to go over to San Giorgio, preferring to remain in the city to do his shopping and to have conferences with the representative of the King of Spain, Msgr. Despuig, who was not a cardinal, and therefore resided not on the island but in the city. Only on the twelfth did Herzan set foot on the island, to be greeted by the Austrian guard presenting arms in his honour as the (unofficial) representative of their Emperor and King. On the thirteenth the voting started.
The early ballots produced some sensations. Two cardinals at once went into the lead for the nece ssary two-thirds majority. One was Bellisomi, a friend of Chiaramonti, who occupied the stall next to him in the Chapel of the Scrutiny where the voting was done. He was Bishop of Cesena, not far from Chiaramonti's Imola, in the northern part of the Papal States; a pious man, he was generally respected. The other was Mattei, Archbishop of Ravenna. That Mattei was making progress came as little surprise to those in the know. For Mattei was the candidate of Herzan and the pro-Austrian party. He had been chosen by the Austrians as their man, partly because he had suffered at the hands of Bonaparte, when the General had invaded Italy in 1796, and was therefore regarded as reliably anti-French and anti-Republican; partly for a more peculiar reason. For it had been Mattei who, after Bonaparte had overrun the northern territories of the Papal States, had signed the treaty which yielded those territories to the French. Those territories were now occupied by the Austrians, and Vienna intended to retain them. Since Mattei had signed them away to Bonaparte would he be able, if elected Pope, to pretend that they were an inalienable part of papal property? Was he not, from the Austrian point of view, the best of all possible Popes, since he would not be in a position to demand back these papal lands which the Austrian Emperor now occupied?
By November 22 the score was: Bellisomi 18, Mattei 9. Herzan was in despair. The Emperor had given him no instructions about Bellisomi, certainly no "Exclusive" against him; and here was Bellisomi only six short of the needed two-thirds majority, and there were plenty of cardinals ready to switch to his support. In his dilemma Herzan went to the dean, Albani, and asked for a respite in the voting while he sent a courier to Vienna to ask for instructions, and Albani consented, as he certainly should not have done. The reply of the Austrian chancellor, Thugut, was delayed and unhelpful, but the delay gave time to Herzan to organize the pro-Austrian opposition more effectively. Gradually a stalemate developed with Bellisomi stalled at round 16 or 17 votes, Mattei at round 10, and the rest nowhere. Indignation amongst the anti-Austrians became so bitter that some threatened to leave the conclave on the grounds that it was under political pressure.
And so the weeks went by. It was a bitter winter, and for much of the time the island was covered with snow. In only one room was there a fireplace, round which the freezing princes of the Church would huddle when they were not in the refectory or in their chilly cells, or in the still chillier Chapel of the Scrutiny. Boredom and discomfort induced not a little illness; several cardinals had to keep to their beds, from which their votes were collected. Msgr. Despuig, outside in the cold, talking into the grille late into the night, caught a violent chill, and had to spend several days in bed at his hotel in Venice. Yet, while the damp and the cold penetrated their bones, the obstinacy of the majority, determined to defend the full prerogatives (and territories) of the Holy See, only stiffened.
Then news of what was happening reached Paris and Bonaparte soon saw its significance. So the conclave was not in the pocket of Austria after all! But what could he do?
He had achieved his coup d'état, been chosen First Consul of France. He intended soon to risk all in another campaign in northern Italy against the Austrians, to re-establish the French position there. But this would be much easier if he had the Church and the papacy on his side; if the Italian clergy were not sworn opponents of the French; if there were a Pope who was not the nominee of Vienna, not committed to the view that the French Revolution was anti-Christ; if there were a Pope -- looking further ahead -- who would help him to reestablish the Church in France on a new basis. For already he intended no less than to "rebuild the altars" in France, and in doing so he would need the Pope, but not a Pope who was the nominee of the Hapsburgs or committed to Louis XVIII.
Evidently it would not be easy for a French revolutionary ruler to convince the cardinals at Venice that there had been a change of heart at Paris. It would not be easy to persuade them they could look for support to France as readily as to Vienna. Bonaparte had no means of contact with the conclave where Maury, the only French cardinal present, was working for the other side, the Bourbons.
But his ingenuity hit upon just the one thing he could do, and he did it. He could demonstrate that the French Government had reversed its anti-religious policy. He could show, by carrying out at Valence a signal act of homage towards the late pontiff, Pius VI, that he was ready to respect the Church, to defend her.
So the startled municipal officials at Valence received the surprising orders from Paris to carry out this "homage." They who had treated their dying prisoner as of small account, who had reported, when he died, that the last of the Popes had passed away, and who had made a point of giving no honour to his dead body, were now suddenly told that they were to conduct an interment on a scale unprecedented in that provincial French city. Their sometime despised prisoner was to be placed in a coffin that was to be covered in black cloth, gold embroidered. This was to be mounted on a "classical" hearse, drawn by eight properly caparisoned horses, and guarded by the four presidents of the administrative and judicial authorities. But, most significant as an indication of Bonaparte's future religious policy, the demand of Msgr. Spina (still watching at Valence over the body of his late master) that there be no ceremony in the cathedral, because it was run by schismatic "Constitutional clergy," of the French revolutionary régime, was to be respected. The ceremony was to be purely civil; the religious burial should await the return of the body to Rome. But though it would be civil it would be on the grand scale. And six hundred copies of the Order of Burial were to be published. Bonaparte was going to give every opportunity for these events at Valence to be known at Venice.
Such was the First Consul's way of trying, from a distance, to persuade the conclave that he was, after all, concerned to defend the rights of Rome.
And still the conclave sat.
Week after week, throughout the month of January and on into February, the cardinals would go on meeting in the Chapel of the Scrutiny, once or twice a day, sitting in their hard wooden stalls, frozen and frustrated. And in the midst of them, almost in the centre, facing the altar, sat Chiaramonti, gazing at the altarpiece -- Carpaccio's famous painting of Saint George slaying the dragon. He had plenty of time to contemplate the not-too-confident young Saint George, mouth parted, yet full of hope, directing his lance, with happy thrust, right through the belching throat of the nasty beast; the picture had allegorical meaning to one who had three months in which to stare at it.
Would there never be an end? Steadily Chiaramonti recorded his vote for Bellisomi, sitting next to him on the right. He had every inducement to do so. Bellisomi was not only the candidate of his own "moderate" party, he was also a man after his own heart, for whom he had real respect, his friend and, as Bishop of Cesena, his neighbour.
Then at last the situation began breaking up. Both sides, he was told, were going to try the fortunes of new candidates. The opposition were going to drop Mattei, regarded as too heavily committed to Vienna, and try out, in turn, some of the others, including the chief of the party, Antonelli. And the moderates were to try first another friend of his, Calcagnini of Ferrara, and then several others -- last of all, so he was told, himself. Most of those put forward were sitting -- from the angle of Chiaramonti's seat in the centre of the square bracket -- along the left wing, because they were senior cardinals, and the sitting was by seniority, starting with Albani, the dean, in the top lefthand corner. If the Benedictine allowed his eyes to wander to the left as the results were read, he might see, day by day, the mighty fall, one after another -- save for those compelled by their infirmities to receive the news of the voting in their cells. Calcagnini scored best, with seventeen; there was less support for Albani and for Antonelli; most of that senior wing of the conclave were in the front of the field at one time or another, except for the Stuart Cardinal of York, for whom everybody had great affection and nobody would have voted. But one after another Chiaramonti saw them fall till, as Maury said, the floor of the conclave was strewn with the dead and wounded papabili. It meant, of course, that his own turn must come soon, but he could wait without anxiety; when it came he scored twelve, a just respectable figure, but not one that seemed to give him a chance. Several others had done better than that.
And now it was March. The conclave was falling into dis- credit. At this crisis in the fortunes of the Holy See it seemed that the cardinals could not make up their minds. So two resolute men, neither with a vote, but both intimately concerned with organizing the work of the conclave, put their heads together and hatched a plan. These two were the secretary to the conclave, Msgr. Consalvi, and the envoy of King Charles IV of Spain, Msgr. Despuig, and the plan they hatched was subtle but strong. The only way out of the impasse would be, they conceived, for the chief of the "Austrian" party, Antonelli, to be invited to nominate a candidate from the moderate party; if the initiative were left to Antonelli he could be expected to rally his party in support of the new candidate.
The next step was to put into Antonelli's head the idea that Chiaramonti would be the best compromise candidate; it was Despuig who was determined that the candidate chosen should be Chiaramonti. But Antonelli would never make this selection unless the Austrian Emperor's "representative" Herzan were satisfied. So an interview had to be arranged between Herzan and Chiaramonti, without letting Chiaramonti realize its significance. Confined to his cell with sciatica, Herzan asked the Benedictine to visit him there. He found him charming. But, in the Emperor's interest, he was bound to take precautions. Suppose he were elected, Herzan asked his visitor, would he appoint as his Secretary of State, Cardinal Flangini of Venice, who was an Austrian subject? There flashed back at him the quick smile; Chiaramonti would give no such undertaking. To commit himself on such a matter before election would be to incur automatic excommunication; the Austrian would not wish to place in the Chair of Saint Peter a Pope who was excommunicate? Herzan had to agree, but he had not finished yet. Did Chiaramonti appreciate that, if elected, his only sure source of support would be the Austrian Emperor? Distantly the Benedictine replied that, if elected (which God forbid and which was most unlikely), he would do all in his power to deserve the protection of Austria.
How much longer would it all go on? Alone again in his cell (number 12 in the immense corridor) Chiaramonti pondered; these last moves seemed to him absurd, because he had no idea how the big guns were now at last coming into line and his life at Imola was to be shattered.
III. A MONK MADE POPE
He was taking a stroll in the monastery garden when they came and told him that he was sure, now, to be Pope. The shock left his face white and his manner momentarily confused. He had never believed the recent rumours; there had been too many before. Benedictine though he was, balanced, cultured, ironical, he burst into tears. Then, recovering himself, he hurried to his cell. Pale, but recollected, he was there when they came to kiss his hands; he tried to stop them, with a modest gesture; after all he was not yet Pope! The final vote would only come next morning. Then he yielded to the custom; yielded, too, to the harassed little tailor who wanted to fit him for the white soutane and the white satin slippers he would have to wear on the morrow. Now he had to laugh, for both soutane and slippers were too big. There should have been three soutanes ready in three sizes, one big, one medium, and one small. But prices at Venice were high and funds were short; they had made do with two; and both were too big for Chiaramonti. So on the long table in the Chapel of the Scrutiny, now used as a sewing table, the tailor worked through the night, worked and wondered about Chiaramonti. And the cardinals all went to bed in their cells, and they too wondered.
They realized now that they had left Chiaramonti out of their calculations for too long because he had stood so close to the late Pope. The late Pope had been a Braschi, and they had grown tired of the preferment given to the Braschi connec- tion. What with the Duke Braschi (a nephew whom Pius VI had created Duke of Nemi, and to whom he had given the suppressed Jesuits' house at Tivoli), what with that other nephew, Cardinal Braschi, and the many preferments awarded to fellow citizens of the late Pope's home town, Cesena, the cardinals were as tired of the family as they were of the home town, and Chiaramonti, they mostly supposed, belonged to both.
But in this they were mistaken. Certainly Chiaramonti came from Cesena. But he was not a relative of the late Pope; the Chiaramontis were only family friends of the Braschis. Some of the cardinals took some convincing on this point because they found it hard to understand why, if Chiaramonti was not a relative, Pius VI's preferment of him should have been so marked.
Chiaramonti was an orphan, whose father had died when he was eight; he had done well enough at school to secure a place at the famous Benedictine college of Sant' Anselmo at Rome, and after that a lectureship at Parma; then Pius VI, recollecting distant days at Cesena, and hearing well of the young man, summoned him to Rome and made him professor of theology at Sant' Anselmo with the title of Prior.
Six years later, befriending some college students against the severities of members of the faculty, Chiaramonti became involved in a college row, whereupon the Pope intervened in his favour, showing his approval of him by making him a titular abbot. An abbot at the age of thirty-nine!
True, titular abbots do not administer monasteries, as Chiaramonti found to his discomfort at Cesena, whither he was moved. They are under the discipline of the governing abbot, who is elected by the regulars; and the governing abbot at Cesena, possibly jealous of the young titular, with his ring, and his pectoral cross, and his privileged place in the choir, saw to it that he had the most uncomfortable cell in the House, one which was next to the kitchen stove, where the heat and smell in summer were unsupportable.
But once more the Pope intervened. Pius VI happened to be in Cesena, on his way back from his visit to Vienna; so he made a short stay in the city, since it was his home town. Visiting the Benedictine monastery he met Chiaramonti again, and heard of his affliction. Pius VI was a masterful Pope who liked to impose his will; he forced the governing abbot to show him round the building, demanded to see the titular abbot's cell, remarked upon its inferiority to that of the governing abbot, and ordered that the two should practise brotherly love by exchanging cells for some months. Fortunately for the head of the house the arrangement did not last for long, since Chiaramonti went back to Rome. By the end of the year the Pope had made him Bishop of Tivoli. He was only forty years old; yet, after a mere two years at Tivoli (some months of which he spent as a guest at the Quirinal) he was appointed by the Pope to the see of Imola and presented with a cardinal's hat.
Here, the cardinals reflected in their cells, had been preferment on the grand scale. If, as they were now persuaded, Chiaramonti was not part of the Braschi family, he was assuredly part of the Braschi connection.
Still, all this had happened fifteen years ago. The cardinal was fifty-seven now, old enough to be eligible, though not as old as they would like. What now mattered was to know how he had comported himself during those last fifteen years.
Unfortunately here again some of those who had been persuaded to vote for him, to end the long deadlock, were not reassured by what they were told.
For it was not too clear that Chiaramonti was "reliable." For more than two years, up until the summer before the conclave, the summer of 1799, his diocese of Imola had been within the revolutionary Cisalpine Republic set up by the French; like the rest of Italy it had only more recently been liberated by the Austrians. It was therefore pertinent for the cardinals to enquire how the cardinal-bishop had behaved in the face of the ungodly foreign invaders and their Italian Jacobin supporters. How had he faced up to their attempts to introduce the current French Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity? To their confiscations, sacrilege, and secularization? To their abolition of titles and privilege, their demand for popular election of the clergy, their divorce laws, their chatter about Solon or Brutus, their Trees of Liberty planted in the piazzas? Had he resisted? Or had he collaborated?
There was a feeling that he had collaborated. Nobody was suggesting that he should have resisted the authority of the new republican government at Milan; it would have been merely embarrassing to Rome if, like some other infuriated prelates, Chiaramonti had preached a crusade, or had led a Holy Army of peasants, fanatics, and vagabonds to uproot the trees of liberty and slaughter the French. Rather it was accounted to him for merit that he had striven so hard to keep the peace, interceding with both sides, counselling the citizens to admit the French, then pleading with General Masséna to spare them after they had ignored his advice and resisted; refusing to aid the violent counter-revolutionary plans of the Sanfedisti, only to turn once more and dissuade the French from sacking cities after they had effected a successful counter-attack. All this peacemaking had been in the best Roman tradition, derived from the counsel of St. Paul: "Obey the powers that be." His brother cardinals would not hold his pacifism against him.
No, the whisper of doubt which could be heard that night on the still lagoons, and would continue to be heard after Chiaramonti's election, concerned a more serious sort of collaboration; had the cardinal not compromised the Faith by accepting at Imola the principles of the Revolution? Had he not accepted the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and thus implicitly denied the rights of God and of the Church?
There was a not unjustified feeling that he had shown himself ready to accept some of the new Jacobin principles. To please the revolutionaries he had been prepared to style himself citizen-cardinal; he had agreed, in the interests of equality, to have the baldachino over the episcopal throne in his cathedral removed (while yet explaining carefully to the government that the superiority it implied attached to a spiritual office, not to a person); he had been willing, at the head of his note paper, to write "Liberty" in one corner and "Equality" in the other (though still refusing to write "Fraternity," for which he substituted "And peace in Our Lord Jesus Christ").
These might be small matters; other clergy in the Cisalpine Republic had been compelled to make similar compromises. Yet the more intransigent of the Cisalpine bishops, and notably Cardinal Mattei (the Austrian candidate for the papacy), had refused any compromise with the French in the spiritual order. Told by the government to remove the baldachino from his throne Mattei had replied with a flat refusal: "The government of the Church," he stated, "is not democratic, but monarchical -- aristocratic. The writings of the Fathers show this clearly. If baldachinos are used by lay monarchs do not be surprised if they are used in the monarchical government of the Church. In the Church, the hierarchy is of divine institution; that is a matter of faith. So it is necessary that there should be distinctive signs for the different dignities. Who shall determine them? Clearly the Church."
In the view of some of the cardinals that was the way to talk to revolutionaries. But Chiaramonti had certainly not used language of that kind. He had not thought it mattered if he lost his baldachino or was called a citizen; and anyway he preferred a subtler and more indirect style of reply. When the government ordered him to do something of which his conscience disapproved he would tell them, gently, that somebody must have misinformed them about the position, that it was impossible that upright and highly intelligent men like themselves, who professed a real solicitude for the welfare of religion, could have intended to order anything so contrary to her precepts. Then he would explain to them what her precepts were. On other occasions he would simply ignore an order. Faced with the most important innovation by the revolutionary authorities, namely their introduction of election of the clergy (in imitation of the French Revolution) he avoided saying anything, but quietly refused to institute the elected clergy to livings when he thought them unsuitable. His job, as he saw it, was to perform his spiritual duties as best he could, refraining from entering into argument with the government if he could avoid doing so.
Yet on one important occasion Chiaramonti had departed from his usual practice, or been compelled to depart from it, and it was his behaviour on this occasion which some cardinals now heard about with misgiving and would continue to hold against him till his death.
The event in question had occurred at the end of the year 1797. The revolutionary Cisalpine government had decided that the time had come for the leading prelates of the Republic to show their loyalty to the new régime by declaring that the laws of the Republic were founded on the principles of the Gospel, and were in no way contrary to the teachings of the Church. Mattei, for one, had refused to do so, because he felt that such a pronouncement must imply his approval of all sorts of revolutionary principles like the equal status of all "cults," election of the clergy, secular regulation of the religious orders, infringement of papal rights, and so on; as a result of his refusal he was compelled to fly from Ferrara. Chiaramonti, by contrast, had told the government he would publish a Christmas homily on the subject.
And this he did. When it appeared, it was found to be not quite the kind of pronouncement the government was looking for; indeed it said nothing at all about the new revolutionary laws. But it did say, with eloquence and emphasis, that the Gospel was compatible with a democratic form of government, and further that, of all kinds of government, the democratic stood in greatest need of the Church, because the liberty and personal responsibility it accorded to the citizen put him in greater need of grace to guide him than was required by the obedient subject of an absolute monarch. "A quite ordinary virtue will perhaps suffice to guarantee the continuance and prosperity of other forms of government. Ours demands something more. Strive to attain to the full height of virtue and you will be true democrats. Fulfill faithfully the precepts of the Gospel and you will be the joy of the Republic."
Here was something for the cardinals to ponder in their cells on San Giorgio. Had Chiaramonti been reversing the whole position of the Church, in respect of government? Taught by the great Bishop Bossuet, the Church had lent her unfailing support, since the seventeenth century, to monarchical government. Her own head was a spiritual and temporal monarch. Yet here was Chiaramonti saying that those who attained to the full height of virtue would be true democrats. A careful reading of the sixteen closely printed quarto pages of the homily can leave no doubt that the cardinal was intending fully and frankly to accept the principles of the Revolution, and even to praise them, always provided they were given that Christian "baptism" of which they stood so greatly in need. "The form of Democratic government adopted amongst us, most beloved brethren, is not in opposition to the maxims we are setting forth, nor is it repugnant to the Gospel.... Equality, which makes the harmony and well-being of society, needs something more [than mere morality] for its support, and to bring it to perfection. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was given to us as a complex of laws to make men truly perfect, even in society, to give order to that equality which makes us happy in our present day-to-day life, and happier still in looking to eternity."
Chiaramonti, in short, had tried to reconcile the Church, in Italy, with the Revolution. Small wonder that, after 1799, copies of his homily were hard to come by. Small wonder that a deathly silence reigned in official Rome about it after Chiaramonti's election as Pope. Small wonder that the Pope's first biographer, in the reaction of the 1830s, tried to explain it away as the "work of other hands"; that those who tried to print it in France, under the restored Bourbons, found so many difficulties placed in their way. Small wonder that Mattei and his supporters at the conclave paled at the thought of what they might be committing themselves to if they voted for Chiaramonti. For in his homily Chiaramonti had broken with Bossuet, had severed the altar from the throne, had opened the way to a Catholic liberalism. He had even quoted Rousseau.
It is rather surprising that this homily did not frighten the Sacred College enough to prevent their electing Chiaramonti. But it is unlikely that many of the cardinals had actually read it; those who had, or who had heard about it, were evidently content, for the time, to ascribe it to the necessities of the times, seeing in it a concession to which the cardinal had been compelled by the French; perhaps he had not penned it himself. If he had bowed to the storm he must, they reckoned, have had to do so to save the very existence of the Church at Imola.
The idea that Chiaramonti was on the side of the Revolution was evidently not seriously entertained at Venice. It seemed too absurd to be worth worrying about, for the Revolution was evidently anti-Christ and the cardinal was known as a good and devoted priest.
Meanwhile there was much in his favour. It could not be denied that he was learned, and that he had an attractive sense of humour. Moreover, he was very much a gentleman. How important that quality was for a Pope! When Chiaramonti had been made Bishop of Tivoli the nobility of that city had sent a special message to Pius VI to thank him for giving them "a man of quality." When he had arrived at Imola, the nobility had felt gratified for the same reason, and had excluded their mayor from the reception party because his quality had been considered insufficient for such an occasion. The new Pope would have to deal with the Hapsburgs and, so the cardinals supposed, with the Bourbons. His family should therefore be at least as good as the Braschi Pope's had been, and this the Chiaramonti family was.
To deal with the Hapsburgs.
There, it was believed, would lie the real task. For the danger from the French seemed to be over. They had been swept from the peninsula by the Austrians. True, Bonaparte was back at Paris, but what was he worth now? Had he not left his army in Egypt? Were not the allied arms greatly the stronger? The problem was no longer seen as how to save Italy from the Revolution; it was seen as how to save the Papal States from Austria; how to recover for the Pope the Legations of Ravenna, Ferrara, and Bologna, which were the richest part of his territories but were now occupied by Austrian troops.
Clearly, the new Pope must know how to stand up to Vienna.
Dawn broke at last on the doubting conclave. At the morning scrutiny they gave Chiaramonti their unanimous support, Albani, the dean, cried Habemus Pontificem, and the chimes rang out across the water from the tower of San Giorgio and were acknowledged in booming bass from San Marco. Chiaramonti was divested of his black Benedictine soutane and clad in the newly adjusted white one, and his small feet were inserted into the big white slippers, carefully stuffed with cotton wool to keep them on. After days of rain the sun shone again over the lagoon, the gates of the conclave were thrown open, the Venetians thrust their way across the water -- the wealthy in gondolas, the poor in ferry-boats -- the Austrian guard was brushed aside, and those who got across first squeezed themselves into the church to see the ceremony of the kissing of the feet of Pius VII.
I. THE ALTARS REBUILT
But are we prepared to crown him?
With shattering speed the reaction of Vienna to the election made itself felt at Venice. The civic authorities of a city which once had "held the glorious east in fee" were now so servile towards their new Austrian overlord as to make enquiry of him whether he would be pleased to see the new Pope crowned in their own cathedral of San Marco, and the reply they received was chilly. It was clear that the Emperor would not be pleased. So the permission was refused.
An insult so gratuitous at the opening of a new pontificate is a little hard to understand unless we remember that the coronation ceremony had political as well as religious implications. In the course of it the new Pope would take an oath to defend the traditional domains of the papacy; if this oath were taken in an "Austrian" cathedral, at a ceremony under Austrian protection, it would seem to involve Vienna in helping to honour it, whereas she had no intention of doing anything of the kind because she held, and intended to continue to hold, a large part of the papal domains.
Soon Herzan was renewing the Austrian pressure. When he again raised the question of the office of Secretary of State, Pius replied that, since he was currently without a state, there was no hurry about his having a secretary. When he reminded the new Pope that Vienna was not far from Venice, and that a visit to see the Emperor might be worth his while, he was again refused. Pius VII knew, as everybody else knew, that Pius VI had gained nothing, but rather had suffered in his prestige by visiting Vienna; so he replied that it was his duty to reach Rome at the earliest opportunity. But the difficulty remained that the Pope could not go to Rome without the good will of Vienna, because the route lay across the territory of the Legations, which Austria now occupied. And Vienna had decided not to allow him to cross the Legations because she knew that such a journey must call forth demonstrations from the populace in the Pope's favour, and thus make difficulties for the occupying power. It was an impasse.
The new Pope was a prisoner on San Giorgio.
It was difficult, however, to prevent him from being crowned on that island, and Pius VII made a point of having the ceremony carried out in full, and with as much amplitude as the monastic church -- a spacious one -- permitted. After that he could only wait. His entire territories were occupied either by the Austrians or by the Neapolitans, but he was not prepared to bargain away any of them. He was only prepared to go to Rome and assert there his full sovereignty, spiritual and temporal.
The Austrian government could hardly hold the Pope indefinitely a prisoner if only because, with Bonaparte back in Paris, and likely enough to invade Italy again, the good will of the Church in Italy was too valuable to be sacrificed. So Chancellor Thugut at last decided to grant Pius VII's repeated request that he be enabled to travel to Rome. But he would not let him travel by land. He would have him conveyed by boat down the Adriatic, landed at Pesaro, near Ancona, and taken across the peninsula to Rome. In this way the occupying power would avoid any demonstrations in the Legations of Bologna, Ferrara, and Ravenna, and any undesirable breaking of his journey in those parts by the Pope. The Neapolitans would have to restore Rome to him, leaving their claims on his southern borders for future negotiation. Such was the gist of the arrangement conveyed to Pius VII by a special envoy from the Emperor Francis, the Marquis Ghislieri, at the end of May. By that time the Pope had been no less than ten weeks on the island since his election.
The execution of this plan proved difficult because the Venetians, though still a maritime people, claimed, rather surprisingly, that they had no ship available large enough to take the papal party. The Pope was told that there was only a small vessel, the Bellone, in dock at Malamocco, on the Lido, a ship which was only capable of taking the Pope's personal attendants, and four cardinals with theirs. So this little group was carried by gondola from San Giorgio, across the lagoon to the Bellone. There they found she was a sorry-looking craft, shipping water badly, and possessed of no cooking facilities. They remained in port all night while the guns were stripped from her decks to make her lighter. The next day they sailed. But winds were contrary and the sailors inexperienced; in the end a voyage that should have taken only twenty-four hours took twelve days.
The Austrian envoy, the Marquis Ghislieri, accompanied the party. Ostensibly he was there so that, at the appropriate moment, as they approached Rome, he could perform the ceremony of restoring to the Pope such lands as Austria was pleased to restore. He was supposed to be "doing the honours" for Austria, but there was a strong suspicion that he was there to see that the Pope kept to the plan, or even, as some thought, to make away with him. But if the papal party had been apprehensive on the boat, it was the turn of the Marquis to feel anxiety after they had landed, for as they rumbled along the road to Rome he began to see Austrian soldiers hurrying in the opposite direction, to the north. Then, near Ancona, he heard reliable news as to what was happening. Bonaparte, he learnt, had crossed the Alps by the Great Saint Bernard pass and had defeated the main Austrian army at Marengo. The new First Consul was in Milan. Once more northern Italy had been won by France.
At Foligno a frightened Ghislieri discharged his commission, acknowledging the sovereignty of the Pope over Rome and the central territories of his dominions across to Ancona, and Pius VII rode into Rome as her ruler.
His entry to the Eternal City was a triumph, though the Neapolitan troops were still parading the streets as he knelt at the tomb of the Apostle in Saint Peter's praying for the protection of the first Bishop of Rome over his pontificate. But that night, at the Quirinal, the representative of the King of Naples promised full restitution of the territories he had occupied and the new Pope entered into his own, always excepting the Legations of Bologna, Ferrara, and Ravenna in the north.
To recover those, and to recover so many more important things, spiritually speaking, in Europe, he would now have to turn his attention not to the Emperor Francis or to his Chancellor Thugut, but to the General who had gained the victory at Marengo and who was now styled First Consul of France. The way ahead would evidently continue to be dangerous. But he had started his pontificate three months ago, as a prisoner on San Giorgio. Already he had recovered most of his lands and above all the Apostolic See. Already he could pray as a Pope should pray, at the confessio of Saint Peter, drawing strength from the very dust of the Eternal City.
Where Bonaparte was concerned events always moved fast, just as where Vienna was concerned they always moved slowly. Rome had already learned that lesson.
Even so, Pius VII and Consalvi were hardly expecting to find, when they reached Rome, that Bonaparte, during the Marengo campaign, had already been sounding out a cardinal about how he might restore the Church in France and renew relations with Rome. The news seemed wonderful, when what Rome had been fearing was a renewal of that revolutionary onslaught from France which had swept away Pius VI. Yet there in front of them was a letter from Cardinal Martiniana of Vercelli, near Turin, dated June 26, in which the cardinal told them that Bonaparte had twice called upon him, once on his way to the battle, and once on his way back, and that he wanted to enter into immediate negotiations for a new concordat with Rome.
The news was very exciting, and very gratifying, but it needed thinking over. Rome, like Vienna, never moved fast. And it was embarrassing to see from the letter that Bonaparte wanted Martiniana himself to negotiate the concordat on behalf of Rome. That, Consalvi understood, would never do. Martiniana was a good man, but "his intentions were as pure as his intelligence was limited." No; if Bonaparte wanted Martiniana he could be allowed to take part, but he must be assisted by a real diplomat; a good choice would be Pius VI's friend Msgr. Spina, because Bonaparte had already met him at Valence, on his way up from Fréjus. So Spina was sent off to join Martiniana. But when he reached the cardinal at Vercelli he found another letter from Bonaparte, telling him to come straight on to Paris, and making no mention of Cardinal Martiniana. This was a relief to the aged cardinal, who was very glad to avoid the journey to Paris, and the difficulties of negotiation; but it was a warning to Consalvi that Bonaparte did business in his own way.
After their return to Rome, Pius had made Consalvi Cardinal Secretary of State. In this capacity Consalvi found that the negotiations with Paris for the new French concordat at once became his great preoccupation. Bonaparte was bent upon driving a hard bargain. Spina was obliged to keep referring to Rome for fresh instructions; even Consalvi had to refer to the Sacred College; Napoleon's patience developed a habit of be- coming exhausted. The crisis came in Holy Week, 1801, but the Sacred College could not give its attention to such matters at such a season. Bonaparte issued an ultimatum; if they didn't hurry up he would settle matters on his own, become a new "Henry VIII of England." So Consalvi himself took the road to Paris. Bonaparte was delighted, and sent word to him on his arrival to dress himself up, when he came to call, to look as much like a prince of the Church as possible; the First Consul liked his visitors to look impressive.
Consalvi had long talks with Talleyrand, with Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte, with Napoleon himself. Sometimes the First Consul was charming, sometimes he was overbearing and rude. But always he kept to his objective, to secure a concordat for the re-establishment of the Church in France which would leave that Church under the control of the State, namely himself. One by one the suggestions which, throughout the previous winter, had been raised cautiously by Spina and had been deprecated as cautiously by the French diplomats, were brought forward again, with more authority, by Consalvi, and rejected, with more authority, by the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand, or by his master the First Consul: Would Bonaparte declare Catholicism to be the religion of the state? He would not, but he would declare it the religion of the majority of the French people, which evidently it was. Would he allow some endowment to the Church, to replace, in small measure, the confiscation of her property by the Revolution? He would not, for in that way the Church would become once again a separate estate; he would only pay salaries to the clergy. Would he pay for any religious congregations, or for seminaries for the education of priests? No; he would only pay salaries to bishops, in accordance with the size of their dioceses -- which would correspond with the new civil department-and to the parish clergy.
But there was one point which worried Consalvi more than all the rest: What did Napoleon mean when he insisted that the Church would have to conform herself to police regulation by the government? He was told not to worry about this; it only meant that the police must be free to control outdoor ceremonies.
There was shouting, there were long night sessions, there were calculated indiscretions in the form of premature reports in the Moniteur. There was even deliberate deception when a draft, different from the one he had agreed, was presented for Consalvi's signature. And after the agreed draft had finally been signed there was a frantic journey for Consalvi back to Rome -- with only one day's rest, at Florence -- in order that the Sacred College might have time to consider it before returning it to Paris, duly ratified, within the forty days allowed by Bonaparte.
But after this there came an unaccountable delay, for the First Consul failed to publish the concordat for eight months and, worst of all, when he did at last publish it, he added a series of Organic Articles for its administration, which imposed just precisely those conditions which the Papal Secretary of State had succeeded with such difficulty at Paris in evading. By these articles the Church in France became subject to undefined police regulation, her communications with Rome had to pass through the hands of the First Consul, the training given to her priests had to be approved by him. And so on. In short, the Church in France was allowed by Bonaparte to live once more, and to go about her business in the open, but she would have to be uncommonly careful not to walk out of step with the government.
Shocked and angered by the Organic Articles, Consalvi was further exasperated by what Bonaparte did in Italy. For Bonaparte did not give back to the Pope those territories to which the Austrian Emperor had clung so tenaciously at the time of the conclave of Venice, and which had come under France once more after Bonaparte's victory at Marengo. These territories, along with Milan, Bonaparte now called the Italian Republic -- they had before been called the Cisalpine Republic -- and the Pope took a keen personal interest in them because he had been Bishop of Imola. From what the Pope heard, life was not now proving as difficult for his successor at Imola as it had been for himself, but it was evidently necessary to take steps to regulate the life of the Church in this new puppetrepublic, and this Consalvi achieved in 1803 in an Italian concordat more favourable to the Church than the French concordat. Unfortunately, however, this Italian concordat was followed by administrative regulations, issued from Milan by Vice-President Melzi D'Eril ( Bonaparte himself was President of the Italian Republic), which interfered with the life of the Church at Milan and Bologna as drastically as Bonaparte's Organic Articles interfered with her life in France. And this was a pill harder for Rome to swallow than was the French pill. For many of these territories were still, in the Roman view, part of the Papal States, while even Milan, though not part of these states, had been subject to Roman influence much more directly than had France.
So it came about that already, in the year 1803, some of the cardinalsb -- though not yet Consalvi -- were beginning to think that this whole policy of the concordats, this policy of trying to provide for the Church by doing a deal with the upstart usurping dictator, had been a mistake. It would have been better, these cardinals believed, to have maintained the "natural and traditional" alliance between the papacy and those monarchs who ruled by hereditary right divine; in other words it would have been better to continue to back the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs. The Revolution, they were saying, was intrinsically "satanic"; it was both useless and wrong to try to do a deal with it. Bonaparte's new Civil Code, with its secularization of marriage and the laws relating to the family, and its provision for divorce, was being introduced at French-occupied Turin; no doubt it would soon be introduced at Milan and Bologna; Rome would then be confronted with the startling spectacle of divorce in the Papal States, a scandal scarcely to be endured.
II. THE POPE AT PARIS
It was while the cardinals were still in this mood, in the summer of the year 1804, that there arrived from Paris the news that Napoleon had been declared Emperor and, more extraordinary, the suggestion that the Pope should travel into France to crown the author of these lamentable policies, should crown a man who owed his throne to the Revolution which had guillotined Louis XVI. Two of the cardinals were for rejecting the suggestion outright; five more felt that the journey should only be considered if the new Emperor were prepared to yield on all the points now in dispute between himself and Rome.
But the Pope, who had had more experience than any of them in working with revolutionaries, soon saw that he should go. Consalvi, too, was convinced that he should go, but he was determined to prepare the ground for the visit as carefully as he could. So, while the compliant papal legate at Paris, Cardinal Caprara, was assuring the new Emperor that all would be well, that the Pope would be most honoured to come, and was sending urgent letters back to Rome saying that the future of the Church in France, and even in Europe, depended upon the Pope's speedy agreement, Consalvi, in a series of interviews with Napoleon's uncle, Cardinal Fesch, the Emperor's ambassador at Rome, was coolly laying down conditions for the visit.
Uncle Fesch, an inadequate ambassador, had not warned his imperial nephew that there might be difficulties; he was no match for Consalvi, and he got flustered and angry. He was convinced that Consalvi was trying, with Roman duplicity and cunning, to use the opportunity to recover the lost northern provinces of the Papal States (the Legations of Bologna, rara Fer- Fer, and Ravenna). Trying to unmask him, he asked him why the Pope didn't make it clear to Napoleon what he really wanted, namely the return of the Legations to the Papal States -- the Emperor might agree to return them. But Consalvi demurred; to ask for the Legations as a condition of the visit would be to commit the sin of simony; it would be asking for payment as a condition for performing a spiritual service. Fesch was trying to put him in a false position. Consalvi was aware ( Rome has a long memory) that the Frankish King, Pepin the Short, in the eighth century, had marked the occasion of his own crowning by the Pope by handing over Ravenna to the papacy; so if Napoleon chose to return Ravenna, and the other two Legations, to their rightful owner, of his own free will, after the ceremony, the gesture would no doubt be acceptable to the Sacred College. More Consalvi would not say; certainly he would not make the return of the Legations a condition of the Pope's going to Paris.
There were more immediate and relevant questions to be settled: if the Pope came, would he be invited to crown as well as to anoint the Emperor? Would the Emperor reconsider with him the Organic Articles in France and Melzi's administrative decrees at Milan? And, if the Emperor insisted upon appointing to sees in France not only bishops who had been bishops under the ancien régime, and others who were new to the position, but also some who had been elected "Constitutional bishops" in the schismatic "Constitutional Church" of the French Revolution, would he at least see to it that these schismatic bishops formally abjured their past errors and reconciled themselves with the Holy See? -- for some of them had not yet done this.
To these and other questions Fesch produced favourable replies, and at last Caprara, at Paris, was able to tell the Emperor that, provided the Pope was given time to settle certain affairs at Rome, and was not compelled to travel in the hot weather, and provided he was given satisfaction on the outstanding issues between Paris and Rome, he would accept a formal invitation. But the invitation would have to be brought in the proper form, and delivered with due ceremony by two French bishops.
Quickly the invitation arrived. It was borne by an aide-decamp, and it was brief. It was more like a summons than an invitation. The Pope was told he should come at once; it was desirable that he should be on the French side of the Alps by XII Brumaire (November 3). He would have plenty of opportunity at Paris to discuss outstanding issues with the Emperor; Napoleon would show that good will towards the Church which he had always shown in the past. In this peremptory little note the usual courtesies of royal correspondence were entirely omitted.
Pius VII was so offended that he proposed to reject it. Fesch, who had never before seen him angry, was astonished when the Pope demanded a more ceremonious invitation, and one which made it clear that a principal purpose of the visit would be to discuss the affairs of the Church. But Consalvi calmed him, Fesch explained that the Emperor was in the field and this was why he had been only in a position to send as his envoy a military man; he certainly intended to discuss everything. The Pope swallowed his anger and on November 2, 1804, he set forth with his cortege to perform the coronation, now fixed for December 2.
On his long journey north Pius had plenty of time to reflect on the surprising turn of events. It was gratifying, of course, that Napoleon should wish to have his new position blessed in a special way by the Church, and it was to be hoped that much good might come of it, but just why had he set such store by this coronation? Pius did not deceive himself that the new Emperor was a good Catholic. Had he not posed in Egypt as the protector of Islam? Had he not said that at Jerusalem he would restore the Temple of Solomon? In Italy he might talk like an ultramontane; in France he was more Gallican than the Gallicans. And nobody had ever accused him of piety.
Evidently the proposed coronation must have political mo- tives, but what were they? The French senate had conferred upon Napoleon the title of Emperor. The people of France, in an overwhelming vote, had made this dignity hereditary to his house. It was still not clear to the Pope where he himself fitted into the picture.
The papal legate at Paris, Cardinal Caprara, had correctly informed the Pope that Napoleon's new title was popular in France. After years of disorder, uncertainty, and foreign danger, Frenchmen were giving their support to a man they believed could defend their territories against foreign enemies and also the conquests they had made at home at the expense of the aristocracy and the Church. They believed that under him the peasants would keep the land they had seized and the bourgeoisie would keep its newly won equality of opportunity and its freedom from unfair clerical and feudal privilege. Just as they had approved, with their votes, Bonaparte's position as First Consul so, with their votes, they had now approved his position as Emperor, believing that in that position he would be even more strongly placed to guarantee the bases of the revolutionary settlement and to defend the ideals, the usurpations, the liberties, and the vested interests created by the Revolution. Besides, it was more exciting to have an Emperor than a Consul.
If ever a ruler owed his position to what is called the Will of the People Napoleon did. He had won it by his success with the sword -- not the sword of execution, the guillotine, used against themselves in the name of high-sounding principles -the sword Robespierre had used -- but the sword of battle against the enemies of France, which had won the victory at Toulon, in Italy, in Egypt, at Marengo. They had made that man Emperor who had saved them from their enemies abroad, and who had defended the gains of the Revolution at home. They had made that man Emperor who had shown that he could reconcile the new with the old -- when he allowed the aristrocrats to return to France, though without their privileges -- and who had made peace with the Church by the concordat of 1801 without giving her back her endowments and lands, or allowing her to become, once again, the First Estate of the realm. They had made that man Emperor whom the Revolution had thrown up to defend her. They had made him Emperor "by the Grace of God and the Will of the People."
By the Grace of God.
Therein lay the rub. What did they mean? And how did they harmonize that grace with the Will of the People? That was a point of some interest to the Pope, who had tussled with the same problem as Bishop of Imola.
No doubt to the French Senate, which adopted the phrase when it proclaimed Napoleon Emperor, the phrase meant little enough. Lawyers, philosophers, often sceptics, those amongst them who were Christians had been mostly supporters of the revolutionary "Constitutional Church," which drew its principle of authority from the Will of the People, by election. Grace to them -- if it existed -- was something to which the Will of the People could lay claim, as of right, for God -- if He existed -had given authority to the People.
But it was not thus that Napoleon understood the matter. To Napoleon the Grace of God was something quite different. It was that grace which had been bestowed upon his predecessors, the Bourbons, when they were anointed with the holy oil of Rheims. It was that grace which gave divine right to his European rivals, now his "brother monarchs," the Hapsburgs at Vienna, the Hohenzollerns at Berlin, and the Romanovs at Saint Petersburg. It was that divine elixir which raised rulers above other mortals, enabling them to secure unquestioning obedience and devotion; it was their distinguishing mark, the mystical sign which made them members of that inner select circle that ruled the world, and which the Corsican parvenu longed to enter. Assuredly that grace must come from above, not from below. What would a Hapsburg or a Romanov say if you told him you owed your crown to the people? And he, Napoleon Bonaparte, was now entering the little select circle of the hereditary rulers. He had "come up the hard way," won his entry by the strength of his sword and the votes of the French people, but there was no longer any need to dwell on that. He had earned in battle the right to become a ruler by the Grace of God, just as Clovis or Charlemagne -- names now often on his lips -- had earned the same right with their swords.
But the crown that his prowess had gained for him was not of earthly provenance. And now that he had reached the summit it would be better not to throw the spotlight on the ladder by which he had climbed. So he showed no anxiety to make known the result of the plebiscite. Rather, he deliberately waited to do so till the time of his coronation, when the mundane matter of the number of favourable votes recorded for him would be lost to sight behind the brilliance of the religious ceremony. He would have men think of him not as elected, but as Emperor by the Grace of God. Let them forget the real source of his power, "the Will of the People."
No real ruler, then, in Napoleon's view, ruled save by divine right; the Bourbons had enjoyed it, and anything the Bourbons had enjoyed he could have. But evidently there were difficulties. Francis II, for instance, at Vienna, the Holy Roman Emperor, whom he had twice compelled to sue for peace after defeating his armies in the field, was only likely to regard him as a man of violence, a modern Attila, until he could persuade him, with very cogent reasons, to regard him as something better. Would the Hapsburgs be impressed by a coronation ceremony performed by French clergy, notoriously subservient to their new ruler, having been nominated by him? Indeed, would such a ceremony, performed not by the ancient Gallican Church, but by bishops who owed their power to the First Consul, carry as much conviction as had the anointing of the ancient line of the Kings of France at Rheims? Must not his coronation suffer by comparison? And worse, would he not seem, if he were crowned at Rheims, to be copying the Bourbons, to be leading France back into the ancien régime, rather than forward into something that transcended the glories even of the roi soleil? He was Emperor, not King, he was the successor of Charlemagne, not of Louis XVI; a ceremony was needed which fitted his new European status, whose significance Europe could not mistake. There was only one possible answer. Charlemagne had been crowned by the Pope. He, too, must be crowned by the Pope.
This plan seemed to him an obvious one. He foresaw no difficulties with Rome about it. By the concordat of 1801 he had restored the Catholic Church in France, if not to her previous position as the First Estate, or to her exclusive position as the Established Church, at least to most of her great buildings, though without the lands that had supported them. To him it was due that Mass was said once more throughout the land, and openly, that priests could go about their business unmolested and supported by a small stipend from the State, that the hierarchy, though shorn of some of its powers, was reestablished in a decent and orderly manner, that the persecution and the schism of the previous decade were over. Surely Pius VII could never be grateful enough for all this? Besides, the Pope ought to regard it as a great honour and a signal distinction for the papacy if he were invited to come to Paris to perform the coronation.
Napoleon anticipated no difficulty with the Pope. He was aware that Popes had done nothing of the sort for more than a thousand years, that even Charlemagne had gone to Saint Peter's for his coronation. But surely the Pope would realize that it was unthinkable that he, Napoleon, should behave in so "ultramontane" a manner as to travel to Rome for his coronation? Besides, he hadn't time. The Pope had plenty of time to come to Paris. Pius VI had travelled to Vienna to confer with the Emperor Joseph II; his successor could now visit Paris to show that he was Father of the French as well as of the Austrians.
No difficulty was expected from Rome; any trouble, it was supposed, would come from anti-clerical Jacobins at Paris, or from the more extreme remnants of the Constitutional Church in France. But on the whole the visit might be expected to be popular at Paris; even the savants, the philosophers, and the sceptics should, it was thought, be impressed, after their kind, by seeing the ceremony performed by the Pope.
So when eyebrows were raised at Rome, questions were asked there, and conditions made, the new Emperor grew angry. Parbleu! Could not the Pope see the immense honour that the invitation conferred upon him? Did he not understand the advantages that must accrue to himself and to the Church from this visit? Let him come and let him hurry. It would be a good thing to have the ceremony on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, a feast and holiday much associated with the Bourbons. Or, if that were too soon, at least on November 9, the anniversary of his own coup d'etat of XVIII Brumaire, which had made him First Consul in 1799.
But neither date proved possible. At the beginning of November, when the Pope was said to be at last about to leave Rome, the best that could be hoped for at Paris was that he would arrive in time for a coronation on December 2.
Papal progresses move in a leisurely manner; it had taken Pius VI nearly four weeks to make the journey from Rome to Vienna. But on the occasion of this journey to Paris it was necessary to make much better time, not only on account of the exigencies of an impatient Napoleon, but in order that the Mont Cenis might be crossed before the onset of the winter snows. So on All Souls' Day, after saying his Mass in the confessio of Saint Peter's (at the altar before which Canova's famous kneeling statue of Pius VI would soon be placed), Pius VII entered his carriage and, with Cardinal Leonardo Antonelli as his companion, rode straight across the Tiber and out through the Flaminian gate. Several coaches had started the day before; the whole party comprised more than a hundred persons, including six cardinals. Even so it was less imposing than the Emperor had wanted it to be; he had asked for twelve cardinals, including Consalvi himself, but the Secretary of State had seen the danger of giving the impression that the entire papal government was being moved up to Paris -- a migration Napoleon was already beginning to visualize -- and Pius, reluctant as he was to part with Consalvi, saw that it was sensible to leave him in charge at Rome.
When de Maistre, ambassador of the King of Sardinia at the Court of St. Petersburg, heard that Pius VII was going to Paris to crown Napoleon he said that the crimes of an Alexander Borgia were less revolting than this hideous apostasy on the part of his feeble successor. It was an unbalanced verdict, characteristic of its author, but it was not unique. In Rome the pasquinades appeared:
Pius (VI) to save his faith lost his throne
Pius (VII) to save his throne lost his faith. *
Nor was Pius himself free from doubts. As he followed the route over which his dying predecessor had been dragged by the French less than seven years earlier -- Siena, the Certosa, Florence, Parma, Turin, the Mont Cenis -- he was reminded at every stage of the last days of the late Pope, nor did his scrupulous, self-torturing conscience fail to question him: "Are you not, too, a prisoner of Paris, a prisoner in a gilded cage?" For in the event of Napoleon's making demands upon him to which he could not yield he did not believe he would be allowed to return to Rome.
The summit of the Mont Cenis safely passed, and the heavy Berlin coach making good headway down the valley from Saint Jean de Maurienne to Chambéry, Pius had the pleasure of his
* Pio (VI) per conservar la fede Perde la sede
Pio (VII) per conservar la sede Perde la fede.
first sight of French peasant piety -- "we passed through France in the midst of a people on their knees." But speeches of welcome in the towns and cities were cut short, by government order, to save time, and progress was so well maintained that Lyon was entered on November 19, only seventeen days after the departure from Rome.
(If this performance seems to contrast unfavourably with Consalvi's achievement in making the journey from Paris to Rome in twelve days, after signing the concordat, let it be remembered that it was considered necessary for the Pope to travel in a huge coach, which could not be hauled at the speed of the lighter carrozza, that his was a royal progress, in convoy, with ceremonial greetings and much blessing of the people, and that he had a frail physique and found long consecutive days on the road particularly trying. Napoleon had written that the journey would be found more supportable if taken quickly, but he had reckoned without this factor of the Pope's physique; and whereas Napoleon was a man of thirty-five, whose life had trained him to make journeys under all conditions, the Pope was now sixty-one, and he had never yet been compelled to hurry.)
The pace of the progress proved too great for the eldest of the Pope's brother cardinals, Borgia, the best and the wisest of the team he had brought with him. He was taken ill at Lyon, and had to be left behind; a few days later he died. Saddened by the news of this loss (he had wanted to stay at Lyon with Borgia till he recovered) Pius VII pushed on with his journey and at last entered the forest of Fontainebleau. In the heart of that forest he encountered a hunting party, with much baying of hounds, shouting, blowing of horns, and bugling. Then one of the party jumped from his horse and, booted and spurred, strode towards the papal coach.
It was the Emperor.
Pius did not hesitate. Planting his white satin slipper firmly in the mud, he descended from his coach to greet his host.
Waving etiquette aside -- as Napoleon intended he should be obliged to -- and accepting the strangely contrived "accident," the Pope rode in the imperial coach to the castle of Fontainebleau, where he greeted each of the royal relatives as affably as he had the Emperor. He even went to search out the Empress Josephine in her apartments, although she should have been on the steps of the castle to greet him; "Let us do this for France," he said to his cardinals. "If we are going to have our disputes at least let us not have them about matters of etiquette. As you know, there is less etiquette on a journey than at Rome." He had soon made an excellent impression of simplicity and benignity upon everybody, except Madame Talleyrand. Her, alone, he would not receive. Since her husband had been the first schismatic Constitutional bishop, who had performed the early consecrations that had made the Constitutional Church possible, since he had subsequently renounced his Orders and had entered into a form of marriage with her, a woman who, in the Pope's eyes, already had a husband, she could scarcely be surprised by the Pope's scruples.
The final entry into Paris was made three days later, after dark, in the papal coach; Napoleon preferred to avoid too great a popular demonstration and did not wish to be seen sitting on the Pope's left, which was the seat offered to him. He lodged his visitor in the pavillon de Flore, at the palace of the Tuileries, where a bedroom had been furnished in the style of the Pope's bedroom at the Quirinal; there Pius slept, his windows looking out over the place where the guillotine had recently stood.
Next morning he woke to the clanging of the bells of Notre Dame and the sound of the crowds calling for him to appear on his balcony. And there, so close to the spot where hundreds of priests had died, he gave the papal blessing to the thousands as they knelt. And Napoleon, who had feared some hostile demonstrations in the capital, took note of what was happening.
III. NAPOLEON CROWNED
Only four days remained before the ceremony fixed for December 2 in Notre Dame. But the preparations were well advanced. Houses had been demolished adjoining the cathedral to make more room, and a new annex had been built. In front of the choir and facing the nave, a huge triumphal arch had been erected above a steep flight of steps. It completely hid the choir and altar from those in the body of the cathedral, so that only those in the boxes above the choir stalls would see the coronation and anointing; but under the arch, and facing the nave, was erected a throne, and from that throne the newly crowned Emperor would read his coronation oath.
The service itself was to be a compromise between the ancient Roman rite, the ancient Gallican rite, and a new rite, drawn up to meet Napoleon's orders that he must not be made to seem too priest-ridden at the ceremony. In the same way the regalia carried by the Emperor would be a mixture; some would be articles supposed to have been carried by Charlemagne at his coronation, some would be modern copies; most of the originals were unfortunately in the keeping of the Holy Roman Emperor, who could hardly be approached for the loan of them.
The Pope was by no means pleased with all the arrangements. It had been clearly understood at Rome that he was to crown as well as to anoint the Emperor, but now it seemed that Napoleon was unwilling to receive the crown from anybody's hands; he would place it on his own head, only allowing the Pope to bless it first. This arrangement Pius was obliged to accept. And gradually it became clear that, although the ceremony allowed for the Emperor to receive Communion at the appropriate moment, he was unlikely to confess himself beforehand and therefore to partake of the Sacrament. (Some doubt remained on this point up to the last moment; but the Vatican copy of the Pope's. Order of Ceremony shows, in his own hand, in the appropriate place, the words non communicarono, i.e. "the Emperor and Empress did not communicate.") Was this omission a chilly warning to the Pope that the sacramental aspect of the occasion meant nothing to Napoleon? Or did it rather mean that the Emperor had still too much Catholic faith to be willing to commit a very easy and convenient sacrilege, which would have cost him nothing except, perhaps, his immortal soul?
Pius would not insist upon the Emperor's putting himself into a state of grace any more than he would insist upon crowning him with his own hands. But on one thing he would insist, if he were to take any part in the proceedings: the imperial couple should first be properly married. It is generally believed that it was from Josephine that be heard, only the day before the coronation, that she had never been through a religious, but only through a civil form of marriage with Napoleon and was therefore, in the eyes of the Church, not married to him at all. If so, the disclosure had been managed astutely by Josephine, for she had made it so late that Napoleon was unable to alter the proceedings by cutting her out of the coronation, greatly as this would have pleased his brothers and sisters, who thought it absurd that he should insist on having his bonne femme crowned along with him. So the Emperor was compelled to go through a religious ceremony of marriage on the afternoon of December 1, which was performed secretly by Cardinal Fesch. In this way Josephine strengthened her hold on her husband, a hold which she felt was growing more and more precarious as he became greater and greater and as she failed to give him an heir. And it strengthened her friendship with the Pope, who would certainly now be her ally if her husband tried to thrust her aside.
Unfortunately when, five years later, Napoleon did just that, the Pope was a prisoner; and the secrecy attaching to Uncle Fesch's little ceremony, which had no witnesses, helped the Emperor on that later occasion to argue that there had been no true marriage, and to obtain from a compliant Parisian court a decree of nullity enabling him to discard Josephine and marry a Hapsburg.
But meanwhile the Coronation Day was Josephine's as much as it was her husband's. It meant much to her to have her enormous train carried by those sisters-in-law who disliked her so, even if (as was said) they deliberately allowed its great weight to pull her backwards as she climbed the steep steps to her throne. And it meant much that, when the painter David produced his huge official picture of the occasion, the moment he selected was the placing of the crown on her head, while the Pope gave her his blessing.
That it was Napoleon's day, too, was self-evident; everything had been contrived to make it that, and his famous aside to his brother Joseph, at the crowning -- "If father could see me now!" -- expressed, in his own characteristic manner, the way in which the occasion affected him.
As to how it affected the Pope we are more in the dark, but we have a few clues. He was still in the first flush of hope about the outcome of his visit, determined, as he had been at Fontainebleau, to demonstrate his affection for France, to erase the impression that Rome was irreconcilable with the Revolution, to ignore breaches of etiquette and bad manners as he had ignored them at Imola in the days of the Cisalpine. To him this moment was the supreme opportunity. The Napoleonic concordat, he still believed, had been "the act of a Christian and a hero," raising up once more the overturned altars; this coronation could be as full of significance for the future as the coronation of Charlemagne had been. What if the new Emperor were wayward and intractable? -- he was evidently moving along the right road. Emperors had always been diffi- cult to handle; Charlemagne himself was said to have protested about having the crown placed on his head by the Pope. And if Napoleon would not submit to Confession and Communion "a time would without doubt come when his conscience would advise him differently." The moment was one of supreme opportunity, the baptism of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, the reconciliation of religion with the Revolution.
It was therefore presumably a time for prayer, and for that be would be given ample opportunity; arriving at the cathedral soon after ten o'clock he had to wait until a quarter to twelve before the Emperor and Empress, with, their retinue, at last made their entry. Ibis time he occupied first in saying tierce, then in private prayer and meditation on his throne by the altar. Oblivious to the bitter cold of a snowy and foggy morning, he maintained the fast required by the Mass he was about to celebrate. But the dense crowd which had been standing in the nave for even longer, and whose boredom had only been briefly alleviated by the papal entry, and the singing of the Tu es Petrus, had its strength sustained by enterprising tradesmen who slipped into the cathedral to sell sausages and rolls.
Everybody was agreed afterwards that it had been a great occasion which had been carried off splendidly. Josephine had looked charming, and the Pope had seemed to be continually in prayer. The Emperor's broad brow had well sustained his crown, and he had behaved with dignity almost throughout; only the incorrigibly sardonic noticed his occasional lapses, raising their eyebrows when he prodded Uncle Fesch in the back with his sceptre, to attract his attention.
Paris was satisfied. She liked the Pope because he seemed so simple, because his procession had been led by "that funny man mounted on a mule" (a Franciscan friar holding aloft a crucifix), and because be had kept himself in the background at the coronation. It was very difficult to picture, him as a ty- rant, he seemed to be just a kindly priest, and the Parisian crowds thronged like the Roman crowds to have their rosaries blessed, or to receive Communion at his bands, so that the anti-clerical Fouché, prefect of police, felt it necessary to tell the Press not to say too much about these occasions.
For a week or two after the coronation the Emperor's honeymoon with the Pope was fairly happy. It was a more roistering and unceremonious affair than popes are accustomed to, Pius being expected to take his meals with Napoleon's large and unmannered family at the Tuileries or at Malmaison. Even at the more formal dinner parties the Supreme Pontiff, who was first in the precedence of European monarchy, might find himself given as low a precedence as the third, below the Archbishop of Paris. But this sort of treatment, which would have angered Pius VI, only made his Benedictine successor smile. The fact was that he was thoroughly enjoying himself. After all the stories he had beard about revolutionary Paris he was amazed and delighted by his enormous popularity and deeply moved by all the evidences of the extent of Parisian piety. He took every opportunity for an excursion: Saint Cloud, Bois de Boulogne, Gobelin tapestry workshop, Sèvres porcelain factory -- he visited everywhere and looked at everything.
Amongst many who were captivated by him was the painter David, to whom he sat for the intimate portrait with the subtle smile now in the Louvre, and for that other portrait of himself seated in Notre Dame and blessing the crown of Josephine, which forms the centre of David's representation of the coronation. But Napoleon began to get bored, and did not hesitate to show it. Why did his guest stay on and on? Christmas came, then New Year's Day, and the Pope showed no sign of going back to Rome. Evidently he was hoping for substantial concessions, but these the Emperor saw no reason to make. He was not prepared to release the hold over the Church which his Organic Articles gave him. He was not prepared to modify his Civil Code so as to exclude its provisions for divorce.
He might do something in Italy to relax the grip which VicePresident Melzi, at Milan, had acquired over the affairs of the Church in the Republic of Italy. But even that would have to wait.
Napoleon was planning a new arrangement for northern Italy, turning the Republic into a Kingdom, with himself as King, an arrangement designed to match his new position as Emperor at Paris. Would the Pope, he suggested, care to travel back with him to Milan, and crown him there in the great Duomo with the Iron Crown of Lombardy? He might expect to see great concessions to the Church in Italy if he would do that.
To Pius this suggestion was most offensive. He had been hoping that Napoleon would mark the great occasion at Paris by restoring the Legations to the Papal States, or if not all three of them at least Ravenna and Bologna. Now the Emperor was suggesting that the Pope should crown him as ruler over precisely those territories! And what did he offer in return? just what he had offered at Paris, and had failed to give, namely "reconsideration" of the Church's position. It was too much. The Pope had begun his pontificate by denying the right of the Austrian Emperor to the Legations of Bologna, Ferrara, and Ravenna because they were part of the traditional temporal domain of the papacy; he would not now crown Napoleon as King over them.
Yet Pius allowed his legate in Paris, Cardinal Caprara, to go to Milan and perform this new coronation, or rather to bless the historic Iron Crown which the new King placed on his own head. For he conceived that Caprara, in doing this, represented only the spiritual power, whereas if he himself, the temporal sovereign of the Papal States, officiated at Milan, he would be in the paradoxical position of personally presiding at the coronation of his own supplanter.
So the Emperor left Paris some days ahead of the Pope. It looked a little odd that he left his guest behind, nor was the arrangement a convenient one for the small towns through which both the imperial and the papal party passed. At Chalonssur-Saône the mayor was afraid that the population, which had just been obliged to give hospitality to the Emperor's retinue, might show itself reluctant, a few days later, to do the same for the Pope and his 106 companions: "The demonstrations to mark the passage of the Holy Father-were not so excessive as they had been for their majesties...but everybody behaved properly, and religious zeal, kindled by the august presence of the spiritual chief of the Christian world, developed in a manner that was most edifying...." Arriving at Chalons on Tuesday in Holy Week, the Pope personally performed all the offices of that week in the town, including the Adoration of the Cross, barefoot, on Good Friday; and he visited the hospitals. Everybody was delighted. Soon he was at Lyon. The Emperor had been careful to plan that he should not be in so large a place for Holy Week, and that may have been wise, for the reception given there to the Pope rivalled any of the demonstrations in Paris, and was noted with concern by the agents of the government.
Pius was not now hurrying, as he had had to hurry on his way to Paris. He was making a progress through France, and it was the most valuable thing that he did in that country. For he was presenting the papacy to the French people in an entirely new guise. Hitherto they had mostly thought of the Pope as a foreigner, an autocrat, wedded to the ancien régime, bitterly hostile to the ideals of the Revolution, bent upon the return of Avignon to the Holy See, interested in France only as a source of revenue. And now here amongst them was this simple, religious man, who had restored their Church without demanding back its property, and who was not interested in Avignon; a man of prayer who blessed them and drew them back to the sacraments. This was the kind of Pope whom these men of a new age, who had dealt so rudely with their own king and aristocracy, dreamed about, and their dream had come true.
The personal impact of Pius upon Paris, during his stay there, and his personal impact on the provinces during his progress home, were the most useful part of his visit. Every day that he stayed in France was making it more dangerous for Napoleon to treat him or the Church during the coming years with disrespect; every day that he stayed he was sowing new seed which would grow into the tremendous ultramontane revival of the nineteenth century.
But unfortunately, this hidden seed could not be displayed to the cardinals when he was reporting to them back in Rome. And the fruits that he could display as the rewards of his visit were pitiful: a slight improvement in the financial position of the new salaried Church of the Concordat in France; a small provision for seminaries; a resumption of French responsibility for the maintenance of the Lateran basilica at Rome. The only point of consequence on which Napoleon had shown himself amenable at Paris, had been the matter of those French bishops who had previously belonged to the schismatic Constitutional Church of the Revolution. The Emperor had told them they ought to take the opportunity of Pius's presence to be reconciled with him, but he had not insisted on this, and in fact at least two of the dozen new bishops who had belonged to that Church refused to admit that they had done wrong.
On every other important matter Napoleon had shown himself resolute in refusing any concessions, even though he had undertaken, in advance, that all questions affecting the Church would be fully discussed. He would not alter a word of those Organic Articles by which he had acquired so close a hold over the restored Church in France. And as to the matter of northern Italy, in which the cardinals were even more interested, he refused to alter Melzi's decrees, issued from Milan, which regulated the Church there, and he ignored all suggestions that he might think this a good moment to restore the Legations to Rome. These Italian questions, spiritual and temporal, being of primary concern to many of the Italian cardinals, it was a very bitter blow to the Sacred College when the Pope returned without bringing any concessions. It was in the hope of securing changes at Milan and Bologna that they had reluctantly agreed to his visit to Paris. What they had not known was that Napoleon was already planning to turn the Republic of Italy into a Kingdom, with himself as King. Had they known that, they would have realized that it was chimerical to suppose that the new King could possibly mark his assumption of his throne by giving away the richest territories belonging to the previous Republic.
Even Pius himself does not seem to have realized what would be of most lasting value in his visit to Paris, namely his impact on the French. He thought that what mattered was his having seen so much of Napoleon, his having had the chance to explain the needs of the Church to him and to get to know him personally. "At Fontainebleau," he cried, "we held him in our arms, this prince so powerful, so full of affection for us!" The Sacred College could only raise its eyebrows at this outburst. For what sign of the Emperor's affection had there been? Even the presents he had promised had failed to arrive.
This matter of the presents was a sore point with Consalvi. Much publicity had been given in the Parisian Moniteur to the stupendous gifts which the magnanimous Emperor was giving to the Pope and his party. But very few had actually arrived. One reason for this was that the Pope -- too poor to do much in the matter of present-giving -- greatly disliked the whole business and succeeded in preventing gifts of money being made to his cousins and his nephews as Napoleon proposed. Even so there was no objection to public as distinct from personal presents, and it was difficult to understand why the two splendid ceremonial coaches, which the Emperor had promised, never in fact arrived, nor the magnificent altar. And the heavily jewelled tiara, which did arrive, only incensed Consalvi further when he saw that it displayed, as its principal jewel, a stone which Pius VI had been compelled to take from his own tiara to help pay the indemnity imposed by the French in 1797.
I. THE EMPEROR TAKES ALL
The general feeling at Rome was that Napoleon had made use of the Pope without giving anything in return. Pius was criticized for having ever undertaken the visit, and although both he and Consalvi remained convinced that it had been right for him to go they were disappointed with the outcome.
Much would depend on what the new King of Italy said and did after he had crowned himself at Milan. It was not very reassuring to Rome when the occasion was marked by the issue of medals on which Napoleon was styled Rex Totius Italiae. So far this description of himself remained only rhetorical, but there was nothing rhetorical about the reorganization of Church and State which he undertook at Milan during May and June, 1805. The entire ecclesiastical organization was overhauled without any reference to Rome at all. Parishes were rearranged and amalgamated; religious orders were suppressed or found their regulations "reformed." True, this reorganization was not always ungenerous; the Church even recovered a little of what she had lost under the revolutionary republics of the past seven years. But it was unilateral. In cities that had been part of the Papal States since before the days of Charlemagne the life and discipline of the Church were being rearranged at will by this young secular ruler. Even this might have been endured had not the new King gone on to announce that, in the following January, he would be introducing the French Civil Code into these Italian territories. That was too much. For to Rome, the French Civil Code stood for all that was most deplorably secularist in the legislation of the French Revolution. It meant that birth, upbringing, marriage, and death -the whole family cycle, over which the Church in Italy watched so closely -- was transferred to the supervision of the State. And worst of all it legalized divorce. The scandal of divorce in Paris had already become so great that it was said that one marriage in five was dissolved. Was this to happen to Italy? To happen in the states which the Pope himself had been crowned at Venice to defend?
Pius protested at once to Cardinal Fesch, who was back at Rome as his nephew's ambassador. He insisted that the cardinal ambassador should pass the protest on to the Emperor, who was now at Boulogne preparing for the invasion of England.
Napoleon replied with two letters, one addressed to the Pope, the other to the cardinal. The Pope he reminded, gently but patronizingly, that he had been obliged before now to explain to him that the papal system was out of date and no longer suited to the century in which they were both living; that nevertheless he would like to please him and to leave him no cause for discontent; he would be open to modifications in his system where they were possible. But to Fesch he wrote brusquely that he would not withdraw any of his measures; he believed the Pope was merely fussing over forms; Fesch might satisfy the Pope on matters of form and etiquette, but no more. "It is merely a matter of vanity and form: arrangez la. But understand that I shall not go back on the measures I have taken."
Unfortunately it was very much more than a matter of vanity and form. It was a direct conflict between two ways of life. Pius was astonished that, after he had been at such pains to explain the Church's position to Napoleon at Paris, the Emperor should still be able so completely to misconceive matters. Consalvi was convinced that Napoleon was acting in bad faith, that he had no intention of accommodating himself with Rome, that he must be resisted from now on at every step.
The honeymoon was over. The battle of a marriage at crosspurposes had begun.
To Napoleon it seemed that the Pope was being utterly unreasonable. Gentle and pious, a good priest, he was unable to understand the new age. He must learn that the Emperor was a new Charlemagne, the natural protector of the Catholic Church, which he had restored after the years of persecution under the Revolution. And he must trust him. The points at issue under the Organic laws and the Milan decrees were merely matters "of vanity and form," to be "arranged." Nor did it matter about papal sovereignty over the Legations or over any other part of Italy. Napoleon was the Pope's protector; Pius need only trust in the imperial sword to defend him and to defend the Church.
While he was still at Milan, in the summer of the year 1805, Napoleon's irritation against Rome was inflamed by a small family matter. Some eighteen months earlier his younger brother Jerome had gone to America and had married an American girl, Elizabeth Patterson. Napoleon had grumbled about it at the time, but had not bothered himself unduly; now that he was crowned Emperor however, and his brother had brought his American wife back to Europe, he took the matter more seriously. "M. Jerome," he wrote from Milan, "has arrived at Lisbon with Mademoiselle Patterson, his mistress. I have ordered him to come and see me, and his mistress to be shipped back again to America."
Unfortunately matters did not arrange themselves so easily as that. The couple it seemed had been married, although secretly, by the Catholic Bishop of Baltimore; the term "mistress" was inapplicable. All the same the young man had been under age (19), there had been no witnesses, he had not had his mother's consent, the incident had occurred in a foreign country, the girl was a commoner, and worse -- she was a Protestant. "Why it's no more a marriage," Napoleon exclaimed, "than that of two lovers who get 'married' in a garden, 'on the altar of love,' in the presence of the moon and the stars. They may say they are married, but when they fall out of love they will soon discover they are not." Fortunately it was a case in which the Pope was sure to be helpful. Did he not hold in horror the irregular unions that had become fashionable since the Revolution? Could he face the possibility that this union might some day lead to a Protestant ascending the Imperial throne? It was with confidence that Napoleon wrote off to Rome, two days before his crowning at Milan, demanding a Bull of Nullity.
Yet Pius declined to send one. On various grounds the marriage offended him, as it offended the Emperor, but it was nevertheless a true marriage, and the Emperor would have to realize that the Pope could not set aside canon law to suit his convenience. Napoleon was the more angry because Uncle Fesch had told him there would be no difficulty. A year later, with the help of Fesch, he secured the dissolution of the marriage by a compliant Archbishop of Paris. And having thus evaded the danger that a Protestant might some day become Empress, and her child become Emperor, he proceeded to marry Jerome to the Protestant daughter of the King of Westphalia.
It was in this sort of small matter, Napoleon felt, that Pius showed himself beneath the spirit demanded by the age, unable to take the broad view of the Church's interests, which required that the Pope should always support the Emperor. Why, for instance, should he shelter at Rome that other disobedient brother, Lucien, who had also made an unfortunate marriage that the Emperor wanted to see dissolved? Unlike Jerome, Lucien stood steadily by his wife, braving all that the Emperor could do, and taking refuge at Rome. This made Napoleon particularly angry with the papal government be- cause Lucien enjoyed at Rome the close friendship of Consalvi at a time when the Secretary of State treated Uncle Fesch with marked coolness. Five years later, Lucien's "shameful passion" -- to quote Napoleon -- "for a woman ( Mme. Jouberthon) whose manner of life had raised an unsurmountable barrier between himself and all decency" (she was the ex-wife of a banker) caused Napoleon to take away his senatorial rank and remove him from the line of succession.
Since the Pope was so intractable it was highly convenient to the Emperor to have by his side at Paris, in the person of Cardinal Caprara, a papal legate uncommonly compliant with his wishes and quite disinclined to insist on maintaining the Roman position. This was specially valuable to him because he had decided to introduce certain changes of religious practice in France which he was aware would need to have some spiritual authority behind them and not merely his own. There was, for instance, the matter of the Church catechism taught to the young. There were still a number of different catechisms in use in the different French dioceses, but this, he conceived, was a source of inefficiency in the newly centralized Church of the Concordat; it would be much better to have one catechism, learnt by all young French subjects of the Empire, and it would be well to ensure that this new catechism inculcated a proper respect for Napoleon and his régime. The French bishops -- all of whom Napoleon had nominated -- were quite in agreement with him, and fortunately Cardinal Caprara, representing the Pope, was ready to give his approval. So by May of the following year, 1806, it became obligatory to teach the young, in their Sunday schools, some truths that the Emperor found it very useful they should learn:
Question : What are the duties of Christians towards the princes who govern them, and what, in particular, are our duties towards Napoleon I, our Emperor?
Answer : Christians owe to the princes who govern them, and we, in particular, owe to Napoleon I, our Emperor, love, respect, obedience, loyalty, military service, and the taxes ordered for the preservation and defence of the Empire and his throne; we also owe him fervent prayers for his safety and for the spiritual and temporal prosperity of the state.
Question : Why are we bound in all these duties towards our Emperor?
Answer : First, because God, who creates Empires and apportions them according to His will, by heaping His gifts upon him, set him up as our sovereign and made him the agent of His power and His image on earth. Thus it is that to honour and serve our Emperor is to honour and serve God Himself. Secondly because our Saviour Jesus Christ taught us both by example and by precept what we owe to our sovereign; for He was born under obedience to Caesar Augustus, He paid the prescribed taxes, and in the same breath as He said "Render to God that which belongs to God" He said "Render to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar."
Question : Are there special reasons why we should have a particular loyalty to Napoleon I, our Emperor?
Answer : Yes there are; for God raised him up in difficult times to re-establish the public practice of the holy religion of our ancestors, and to protect it. He restored and preserved public order by his deep and active wisdom; he defends the state by the strength of his arm; he has become the Lord's Anointed by the consecration he received from the Sovereign Pontiff, the Head of the Church Universal.
Question : What ought one to think of those who fail in their duty towards our Emperor?
Answer : According to the Apostle Saint Paul they are resisting the order established by God Himself and making themselves worthy of eternal damnation.
Rome never approved this singular catechism, which was why Cardinal Caprara, who did so on her behalf, was so useful to Napoleon. Nor did she approve the introduction by Napoleon of a new feast day, August 16, called the Feast of Saint Napoleon, and intended to eclipse the traditional Feast of the Assumption, on the previous day. Even supposing that the Emperor had been named after an authentic saint, a matter Rome could not confirm, she reserved to herself the right to name the feast days of the Church.
But if, in spiritual affairs, Napoleon found Pius unco-operative, and Caprara very convenient, he considered that in temporal affairs, after the summer of 1805, the Pope's behaviour was nothing short of "lunatic." For the Emperor's principal enemy was Protestant England; yet the Pope refused to cooperate by helping him to defeat her. Pius allowed British ships to victual at the ports of his long coast line, both on the Tyrrhenian and on the Adriatic side of Italy; he harboured a number of British nationals at Rome; and he steadily refused to be drawn, as northern Italy had been drawn, into alliance against the British government. This behaviour particularly irritated Napoleon because he was engaged in the summer of 1805 in planning the invasion and conquest of Protestant England, and he knew enough history to know that, when Philip II of Spain had been engaged on a similar enterprise, Rome had not shown herself so neutral.
The Emperor's grand design, in this critical summer, was to destroy England before she could make effective, with her gold, that new alliance with Austria and Russia by which she sought his downfall. To this end he had long been collecting together his flat-bottomed boats along the coast from Boulogne to the mouth of the Scheldt; and while he seemed to be dallying at Milan, settling the political and ecclesiastical affairs of his new Kingdom of Italy, he was really more preoccupied with the fate of that Franco-Spanish fleet that he had entrusted to Admiral Villeneuve. His instructions to this admiral were to sail for the West Indies, whither he knew that Nelson with the British Mediterranean fleet would follow him. Evading Nelson, Villeneuve was to double back, join up with the French Brest squadron under Ganteaume, and hold the English Channel long enough to enable the French army to be ferried across to the English coast.
Napoleon expected Villeneuve's manoeuvre to be completed by mid-July. He himself waited till the last moment at Milan, in order to deceive the British Government as to his real intentions. Then he made a dash for the north.
But it proved that he need not have hurried after all. For Villeneuve was late, and when he did arrive in the western approaches to the Channel he was headed off by Admiral Calder, who was blockading Brest, and was forced to turn south to the Spanish port of Ferrol. Still Napoleon waited. But by September 3 he decided to wait no longer. He believed, rightly, that Villeneuve was finding himself unable to elude the British ships. And he knew that it was no longer safe for him to ignore the situation at Milan, which was threatened by Austrian mobilization in the Tyrol. So he struck camp at Boulogne and made a rapid march southeast across Europe. By October 19 he had forced the Austrian General Mack to capitulate at Ulm, in Bavaria; by December 2 he had defeated the Austrians and Russians at Austerlitz. But meanwhile, on October 21, Nelson had caught Villeneuve, and at Trafalgar the Franco-Spanish navy had been destroyed. England was safe from invasion, and the British navy was free to co-operate in the Mediterranean with any allied military moves that might prove practicable.
One such place was the Adriatic Sea. It was perfectly possible that the British navy, acting in co-operation with the Neapolitans -- as it had acted in 1799, when the French had been pushed out of Italy -- would take the opportunity, while the Austrians were still in the field against Napoleon, to move up the Adriatic in support of any opposition to him which might develop in northern Italy. In doing this the British would certainly make use of the papal port of Ancona, possessed of the only considerable harbour between Brindisi and Venice. It was to forestall any such move that Napoleon decided in October to seize that papal port for himself and to fortify it against attack. His military motives were understandable, and his astonishment was great when the Pope reacted sharply with an ultimatum.
To Pius and Consalvi it seemed that the French occupation of Ancona, without permission, was merely the latest example of Napoleon's disregard of papal rights, whether spiritual or temporal. Nor did they see how they could pay for maintaining the French troops. So the Pope sent a stiff note:
"We will speak frankly: ever since Our return from Paris We have experienced nothing but bitterness and disillusionment, whereas the personal knowledge that We had acquired of Your Majesty, and Our own invariable conduct, had promised, by contrast, something quite different. In a word, We have not found in Your Majesty that return of Our good will which We had the right to expect."
In regard to Ancona, the Pope went on to demand the evacuation of the papal port by the French on pain of a breaking off of diplomatic relations. This seemed to mean that Uncle Fesch would be given his passports.
Despatched on November 13, 1805, this letter unfortunately reached Napoleon when he was going through an anxious day just before the battle of Austerlitz. Not till after his victory, not till he had dictated peace terms that gave him Venice and her dependencies, did he at last, on January 7, 1806, reply:
The Pope's letter was ill-considered ( peu ménagé ): "I could not fail to feel it keenly that, at a time when all the powers, in English pay, were in coalision to make an unjust war against me, Your Holiness should have allowed himself to be influenced by evil counsels." The Pope had evidently believed him to be lost' but God had favoured his arms and had thus demonstrated His protection of his cause. He had been obliged to occupy Ancona owing to the inadequacy of its fortification bt the Pope. Did Pius want to see that port in the hands of the English or of the Turks? The Emperor was Eldest Son of the church, and would go on defending he from her natural enemies, the Protestant English, Orthodox Russians, or Moslem Turks. As for his ambassador, Cardinal Fesch, the Pope was free to welcome in his place the English or, if he liked, the Caliph of Constantinople, but he would not allow his uncle to see him, while receiving the Emperor's enemies (but brother Lucien). Very well, he would replace Fesch by a layman.
But it was not in his letter to the Pope, it was in his letter to Fesch that Napoleon showed the full force of his anger. There he described the Pope's letter as "ridiculous," "lunatic." He would stand no more of this nonsense. Fesch was to, tell Consalvi that he must either do as he was told or else resign. "For the Pope's purposes I am Charlemagne. Like Charlemagne, I join the Crown of France with the Crown of the Lombards.... I expect the Pope to accommodate his conduct to my requirements. If he behaves well, I shall make no outward changes; if not, I shall reduce him to the status of Bishop of Rome....
But Pius steadily refused to accept Napoleon's thesis that he was Charlemagne, though by anointing him he had lent a little colour to it. He was particularly offended when Napoleon went on to say that, although the Pope might be ruler of Rome, he, Napoleon, was Emperor, and thus feudal superior to the Pope -- Pope Leo III, Napoleon was claiming, had only held his territories in fief from Charlemagne. Pius entirely denied this and pointed out that, even if it were true, it had never been acted upon. A thousand years of undisputed sovereignty, such as the Popes had enjoyed, was, he argued, as good a title to sovereignty as any ruler could show. Besides, if anybody was Charlemagne, it was not Napoleon but the Holy Roman Emperor.
Extraordinary as it may seem, Pius VII, prompted by Consalvi, now actually raised his demands. He repeated his request that Ancona be evacuated, asked for an immediate payment to enable him to meet the expenses of the French occupation, and raised once more the question of the Legations. His excuse for doing this was that Napoleon had now occupied Venice, uniting the whole of Venetia to his Kingdom of Italy. Since this new Kingdom now embraced so much territory, would not the Emperor, he asked, feel the moment had come to give the Legations back to the Pope? And he added that he hoped Napoleon would not interfere with the traditional rights of the Church in Venetia.
It is evident that at this time Rome had no appreciation of the range of Napoleon's plans. So far from giving up Ancona, the Emperor was about to use that port as a base for his operations against Naples, where he was turning out the Bourbons, Ferdinand and Maria Carolina, who had dared to join the Third Coalition against him, and putting in his brother Joseph as king. All Italy was to be under his control, and the Pope, if he wished to retain any of his states, was to enter into the Emperor's system of confederation, and in particular to expel all enemy nationals from Rome and close all his ports to British and allied shipping. Napoleon undertook to pay for the expenses of his troops and not to interfere with the independence of the Holy See, but, he warned, "the condition must be that Your Holiness has the same respect for me in the temporal sphere that I have for him in the spiritual, and that he abandons useless intrigues with the heretic enemies of the Church and with powers which can do him no good. ...Most Holy Father, I know that Your Holiness means well, but he is surrounded by men who do not."
First of the "men who do not mean well" was Consalvi. The pressure was on to make the Pope give up his Secretary of State. But before Pius would allow Consalvi, in the interests of understanding, to resign, he drew up, with the aid of the Secretary, his reply to the Emperor on the matter of Rome entering Napoleon's confederation. It was a definitive document, and it would serve to explain the nature of papal neutrality right on until the twentieth century:
"We are the Vicar of a God of peace, which means peace towards all, without distinction between Catholics and heretics, or between those living near at hand and those living far away, or between those from whom We hope for benefits and those from whom We expect evil.... Only the necessity of withstanding hostile aggression, or defending religion in danger, has given Our predecessors a just reason for abandoning a pacific policy. If any of them, by human weakness, departed from these principles, his conduct, We say it frankly, can never serve as an example for Ours."
For these reasons the Pope says he cannot ally himself with either side in a European war. But further, he says, it would be wrong for him to take any unfriendly action, such as closing his ports, or expelling "enemy" nationals, against any powers, however distant, however heretic, because such action would prejudice the position of his religious subjects living in their territories:
"The Catholics living in those lands are not small in number; there are millions in the Russian empire, many millions in the lands ruled by the King of England; they enjoy freedom in the practice of their religion, they are protected. We cannot foresee what would happen if the rulers of those states found themselves provoked by Us by so hostile an act as the expulsion of their subjects or the closing of Our ports. Resentment against Us would be all the stronger in that, to all appearances, it would be just, since We should have received no injury from them."
This was the last occasion, for a long time to come, on which Pius had the help of Consalvi in stating his purposes and policy. For in June of the year 1806, in a last attempt to save the situation, the Pope allowed his Secretary of State to resign. Napoleon was saying that Consalvi was the real obstacle to understanding. In May he told Fesch to "go and see the Pope and tell him that...through folly, or through treason he [ Consalvi ] means to lose the temporal states of the Holy See, and that he will succeed." In the same month he replaced Fesch at Rome by Charles Alquier, a sometime member of the French Revolutionary Convention, who had voted for the execution of Louis XVI.
Events were now moving very rapidly in Italy. The Pope's ports were occupied by the French, the allied nationals at Rome were expelled. Cardinal Maury, who had been so zealous for the Bourbons in the days of Pius VI, was won over after five minutes with Napoleon at Turin, and left his Italian see of Montefiascone to go to Paris and become "the Emperor's man." And at Paris not only the Legate Cardinal Caprara and the French bishops, but even Msgr. Spina, the friend of Pius VI and first negotiator of the French concordat, wrote to urge the Pope that Europe had changed, that he must now fall in with the Emperor's wishes. And it was in this summer ( 1806) that the ancient Holy Roman Empire was "wound up," the Hapsburg Francis II renouncing his high-sounding title. Napoleon, the only Emperor, now stood at the head of the continent.
But Pius, unmoved, adhered to his policy:
"We are in God's hands; who knows whether the persecution with which His Majesty menaces Us has not been decided by the decrees of Heaven in order to bring about the revival of faith and to reawaken religion in the hearts of Christians?... Our nature as Common Father of the Faithful and Our character as Minister of Peace forbid Us to put Ourselves under any political relationship that would progressively lead Us to take a permanent part in the wars which desolate Europe."
II. PIUS EXCOMMUNICATES NAPOLEON
It was generally supposed, in the autumn of this critical year 1806, that before the year was out the Pope would have found himself relieved altogether of his State; for it was not the Emperor's custom to tolerate obstinate resistance from those whom he had within his power. Yet, in fact, Napoleon held his hand, and Pius VII remained at least nominally sovereign of Rome for more than two and a half years more.
Why was this?
At the last audience that he gave to Cardinal Fesch, who had come to the Quirinal to say farewell, Pius gave this warning:
"All you need tell the Emperor is that, although he treats Us very badly, We are greatly attached to him and to the French nation. But repeat to him that We do not wish to make any bargain, that We wish to remain independent because We are sovereign, that if he takes violent action against Us, We shall protest in the face of Europe, and that We shall use the temporal and the spiritual means which God has placed in Our hands."
This was a plain threat of excommunication, and Fesch replied that the Pope would have no right to excommunicate the Emperor, because in doing so he would be using his spiritual powers in what was a temporal quarrel. Pius was so angered by Fesch's presuming to interpret the canon law to him that he raised his voice to a shout, which was something he seldom did. This we are told by the new ambassador, Alquier, whom Fesch was presenting. Thinking it better not to he involved in a quarrel at his first audience, Alquier slipped out of the room, so we do not know the outcome of the conversation.
We do, however, know that the Pope had formally threatened the Emperor with excommunication, and we know that thereafter this threat was constantly in Napoleon's mind. He made light of it, pointing out that Europe was no longer living in the century of Gregory VII, who had brought the Emperor Henry IV to his knees by excommunicating him. And his supporters in France, both clerical and secular, made light of it, too, on the grounds that a papal excommunication would be invalid in France unless it were adopted by the French Church. But Napoleon's difficulty, as he well understood, was that he had established his rule over regions as devoutly Catholic and devoted to the Pope as any in Europe -- Belgium, for instance, and the Rhineland, and much of Italy -- and already he was straining the loyalty of these territories with his exactions and his demands for military service. Nor could he quite ignore the revival of respect for the Pope in France since Pius VII's visit; it would be difficult to persuade those thousands who had made this gentle Pope's acquaintance that, if he excommunicated the Emperor, he had no reason for doing so.
Even Uncle Fesch, back now in France, took his courage in both hands and wrote to his nephew: "Your Majesty is not told of the state of fear and perplexity in which the clergy of France and the Catholic people find themselves.... Confessors, at Easter time, have found it difficult to persuade some of the faithful that it is a great sin to hate their sovereign and to hope for his death."
But the Emperor, for reply, only told his uncle to take a cold bath to cool his senses.
If there were two regions in Europe even more intimately linked with Rome, spiritually speaking, than those already mentioned, they were Poland and Spain. Poland was the theatre of much of Napoleon's military and political activity in the year 1807; Spain was his principal theatre of activity in the year 1808. In Poland he was posing as the popular liberator against the tyranny of Prussia and Russia, those powers that had swallowed up Poland's western and eastern territories respectively in the notorious partition treaties. There was therefore no land where it was more useful for Napoleon to pose as the Eldest Son of the Church, who would champion the Catholics against the alien Lutherans and Orthodox, but his pose would carry less conviction if, as he attended Mass, he was known to have been branded by the Pope. And in Spain, in the following year, he was engaged in replacing the Bourbon King and Queen by his brother Joseph (brought from Naples) and in trying to persuade the Spaniards that their new King would defend their traditions and liberties, amongst which their devotion to the Church and their respect for the spiritual power of the Pope loomed very large indeed. The difficult operation of asserting his authority over Spain would be made even more dangerous if he were branded as the enemy of the Pope.
All these political considerations Napoleon understood, and they made him hesitate before pushing his quarrel with the Pope to a conclusion. He had once issued a warning that it was necessary to treat the Pope "as though he had an army of 200,000 men." He knew that Rome had in her armoury weapons that were dangerous to him and he did not want to see them used.
Nor was it in Napoleon's nature to do violence to his own anointing. Although, at this time, he was very far from being a good Catholic, he was not in a mood to nullify unnecessarily his anointing at Notre Dame and at Milan. Quite apart from their political importance, these occasions were mystically important to him as well. He was an anointed Emperor, he was an anointed King. To put the matter at its lowest, these occasions had admitted him to the inner clique of emperors and kings, which was where he wanted to be. On a loftier plane, these anointings pleased him in a superstitious sense; he believed in his Star; he believed in some sort of prevailing Providence, and these things were symbolized for him by the chief occasions when he and the Divine had come into contact, namely, at his anointing at the hands of the Pope and Caprara. If, now, he were to be excommunicated by the Pope, it would cast a slur upon these greatest occasions of his life, might even seem to take away their validity.
It was all very well for his general Murat (whom Napoleon had put into Naples as king in succession to Joseph mdash; emoved to Spain) to taunt the Emperor with his weakness in continuing to allow the Pope to hold onto Rome and the residue of his State. How would a man like Murat with his coarseness of perception, and his ambition himself to rule at Rome, understand what was at stake? Provided that the French had control over the coast line of. Italy, what had Napoleon to gain but hatred, and a reputation for sacrilege, if he seized the sovereignty over Rome herself?
But that coast line mattered, and to make sure of it Napoleon occupied the eastern provinces of the Papal States -Umbria, the Marches, Macerata, on the Adriatic coast -- in November of the year 1807, adding them six months later to the Kingdom of Italy. And in January of 1808 he sent his general Miollis down the west coast to occupy the ancient fortress of the Sant' Angelo, on the Tiber, in the heart of Rome herself. The Pope's political authority in Rome, and in the surrounding district, were left untouched, but the entire Papal States were put under French military occupation. Facing the papal apartments French cannon were drawn up on Monte Cavallo, their barrels pointing directly at the windows of the Pope's apartments, at the left-hand side of the long façade of the Quirinal Palace. But behind those windows Pius VII remained, still ruler of Rome, still obeyed more readily in the city than were the French, still discountenancing any violence against the occupying troops but refusing to co-operate with the Emperor's military plans and ready -- as everybody knew -- to issue his Bull of Excommunication if his sovereignty over the Eternal City were taken from him.
Soon after Miollis's military occupation, Ambassador Fesch's successor, Alquier, in his turn, came to the Pope to take his leave. He, like Fesch before him, was told to take a message back with him:
"You may tell them at Paris," said the Pope, "that they may hack me in pieces, that they may skin me alive, but always I shall say NO to any suggestion that I should adhere to a system of confederation."
Pius had reached a mood of exaltation; it was with difficulty that he was persuaded not to bar Miollis's entry to the Sant Angelo with his own body, standing at the entrance gate of the Emperor Hadrian's mighty mausoleum and inviting the French general to strike him down.
But was he right?
That was the doubt which sometimes tortured him as he sat and stared out from the height of the Quirinal hill over the city that held the tomb of the Apostle and the tombs of his successors. It might not be right -- this he always understood -to risk the well-being of the Church everywhere for the sake of recovering the Legations; or even Ancona, or the Marches, or Benevento (which Napoleon, not very tactfully, had given to the apostate Talleyrand).
But what of Rome? Surely he must defend Rome from French aggression and impiety?
They were saying in Paris -- he knew it well enough -- that he was confusing the temporal with the spiritual, unnecessarily offending the all-powerful Emperor and very possibly driving him and the Church into schism because of his preoccupation with his "petty duchy." That was what Maury was saying. He need not mind Maury; yet could the charge be true? Was he losing sight of the spiritual issue in defending his temporalities?
This was a pertinent question, but he would counter it by asking: " What temporalities?" He was not fighting about Bologna, or Ancona, or Civita Vecchia, or even Ostia. He was holding out for his sovereignty: over Rome, the Pope's sovereignty over the Eternal City, with its four hundred churches and the dust of Saints Peter and Paul, and the ashes of the early Christians in the Colosseum. This was the heart of the temporal power, the shrine over which he must stand guard, over which his predecessors had stood guard before the days of Charlemagne. This, and one other thing. As ruler of the Church Universal, with subjects in every land, he must not allow himself to become politically subject to any government. He must, like his predecessors, remain a sovereign, however small his state. And where was his sovereignty save at Rome?
On these points he felt sure. If Napoleon assumed sovereignty over Rome it would be sacrilege, for that he could and should excommunicate the Emperor. But there was more. Napoleon was introducing his secular changes into the whole of his new Kingdom of Italy. The monasteries and convents were being closed, a secular education was being introduced, divorce and the rest of the Emperor's family legislation was being made the law of the land amongst the Pope's erstwhile subjects. The France of the Revolution was being brought down into central Italy. Was it also to be brought into Rome? That had happened in 1798, when Pius's predecessor had been taken from the Vatican to die at Valence. Then there had appeared the Roman Republic, under French patronage and control, and it had meant secularization, exploitation, impiety, and ruin; the Roman Republic had been the least creditable of the French revolutionary régimes in Europe. Was he to surrender the religious houses, the various congregations, the administrative offices and archives of the Church, the great basilicas, and the lesser shrines, to those who, not ten years since, had proved so unworthy of their charge? It was not thinkable, nor was there any serious sign in the city that this was what the Romans wanted.
On his side, however, it was not difficult for Napoleon to produce arguments that would pave the way for depriving the Pope of his throne. He could point to "the contrast between Christ dying on the Cross and the Pope making himself a King." He could urge that Pius should appear as a simple fisherman, like his first predecessor Saint Peter. He could ask for the scriptural warrant for pilgrimages to Rome. He could claim that the Pope's political position had always been a source of confusion and weakness to him, by causing him to confuse the temporal and the spiritual. And so on.
All these points the Emperor made. But his new desire to see the Pope reduced to apostolic simplicity did not harmonize very well with his earlier desire to see him come to Paris in the utmost magnificence, and followed by a retinue of cardinals; it seemed that he wanted him splendid and powerful, if he were a vassal, but a simple fisherman if he remained neutral. Nor was it easy for him to claim he was disinterested, for, if the Pope abandoned his temporal sovereignty, the convenient consequence would follow that the Emperor could absorb it into the French Empire.
By the spring of the year 1809 Napoleon's hold over Italy had become complete, except for Rome and the "Patrimony of Saint Peter" surrounding the city. The last independent sovereign, Maria Carolina of Tuscany, had been compelled to vacate her throne in favour of Napoleon's sister Elisa, who now ruled as Grand Duchess at Florence. The whole of the rest of the peninsula was either annexed to France -- the fate of Turin, Genoa, and Leghorn -- or formed part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy -- Milan, Venice, Perugia, Bologna, Ancona, ruled by Napoleon's stepson Eugène de Beuharnais as Viceroy -- or was included in the Kingdom of Naples, of which General Murat was now King.
Yet still the Pope sat on, in his apartment in the Quirinal, while overhead his sentry, in the clock tower, scanned the steep narrow streets leading down into the centre of the city, scanned them for parties of French soldiers who might plan to force an entry into the palace. For this was the aggression that was now expected. It was not supposed that the cannon on Monte Cavallo were there to blow in the palace façade; they were evidently there to intimidate the Pope every time that he looked out of his window.
Throughout the hot months of the year 1808, and far into those of the year 1809, the extraordinary tension was maintained. Miollis took up his headquarters in the grand Palazzo Doria, down on the Corso. A cultured man, an epicure, and fond of entertaining, he tried to draw the higher ranks of Roman society, both lay and clerical, away from their allegiance, by a display of moderation, good manners, and scrupulous spiritual loyalty to the Pope. He attended the religious functions over which Pius presided and he encouraged his soldiers to do so. But he combined these conciliatory gestures with a constant belittling of the Pope's temporal authority, his intention being to implement the Emperor's plan gradually to take over the political authority in Rome and the surrounding Patrimony and to reduce the position of the Pope to that of pontiff only. Thus every papal soldier was disarmed; the administrative officials in the various papal offices -- even those in parts of the Quirinal itself -- were subjected to interference and arrest, and their papers to confiscation. The papal printing presses were shut down. Orders were issued from the Palazzo Doria without the knowledge of the Quirinal. It was hoped that gradually the French administration would supersede the papal without most of the Romans being aware that a change in sovereignty had been made.
With certain of the Roman nobility Miollis had some social success. But his success with the clergy ceased when Pius VII let it be known that he did not approve their attending the general's parties. It became accepted that, while the successor of. Saint Peter was in chains, the Church should offer up a steady stream of prayer for him, as it had for his first predecessor, and should refrain from attending parties given by his gaoler. And the occupation cast a cloud over the greatest of Roman festivals, the carnival, when chariots were wont to be raced down the Corso, and the ladies wore masks; for Pius let it be known that he considered it unsuitable for the Romans to celebrate this festa in February of the year 1809. Though Miollis went ahead with the usual plans for the carnival, seizing by force the stage properties required for the occasion, the shopkeepers shut up their doors and windows, and the pavements of the Corso were deserted. Gradually the French found that, although they were in military control of the city, Pius had only to make his wishes known to have them obeyed. "The Pope ruled by moving his finger far more effectively than we with our bayonets," said a French officer. There were times when this unseen papal power was physically frightening, for Miollis's garrison was not large -- often not more than 300 men -- and some of them began to wonder what would happen if the Pope were to appear on his balcony fully robed, carrying aloft a crucifix, to read out the sentence of excommunication against Napoleon; might not the tocsin be sounded and the clangf the countless bells give the signal for a general rising? At night, fires were seen up in the Alban hills and around. Frascati. Were they signals? In the war of nerves the French were being tried as severely as the Romans.
Miollis suffered from the same delusion as Napoleon that the Pope was a mild, soft man, and that it was only necessary to remove from him his "evil counsellors" in order to make him amenable. So he allowed a veritable onslaught to be made upon those who were supposed to be stiffening his resistance. Consalvi, of course, had already gone; so had his successor as Secretary of State, Cardinal Casoni, too old and infirm to support that difficult role under such conditions. Casoni's successor, Cardinal Doria, was removed in March of the year 1808 by decree of Napoleon, along with all cardinals who were subjects of the French Empire, or of its satellite states. This reduced the Sacred College to some sixteen members, several of whom were old or ill; not more than half a dozen of them could be regarded as capable of holding important office.
Pius chose a mild and moderate man, Cardinal Gabrielli, to succeed Doria. With fidelity Gabrielli recorded every violation by the French of papal rights in Rome, every illegal arrest, exile, and imprisonment. And he smuggled the Pope's in- structions out of the Quirinal, however dangerous they might be. It was Gabrielli's fidelity in sending Pius's instructions to the clergy in the Adriatic provinces, telling them not to take the oath of fidelity to the new régime, which led to his own undoing; seized in June 1808 by Miollis's soldiers, he was removed to the provinces and his papers sealed.
But none of these removals made any difference. Miollis did not realize that in fact it was the Pope, personally, who was directing papal policy, which was in no wise dependent on any of his entourage. In the opinion of the French chargé d'affaires, Lefebvre, if the few members of the Sacred College still at Rome had been asked to give their opinion as to whether the Pope should enter Napoleon's confederation they would have favoured it almost to a man. But the Pope did not consult them, even though Gabrielli suggested that they should be consulted. Pius had assumed personal responsibility for everything. With French spies everywhere, and even the Secretary of State's quarters at the Quirinal not sacrosanct, the Pope had decided, in Lefebvre's words, "to do everything for himself, to dictate the greater part of his political despatches, to read over those which he had not been able to compose for himself, in short to let nothing go out of his chancellery which had not been seen, corrected, and approved by himself." And he adds that Pius reduced the functions of the Secretary of State to those of an office clerk. "The Pope," he wrote, "is not a man whom one may hope to persuade by persistent argument; he is firm and immovable in his attitude; once he has made up his mind, anything that you say to him to change it will fail to persuade him. He does not prevent you from speaking, but after you have finished he lowers his head onto his breast and allows you to go without replying."
After Gabrielli had been taken away from him Pius appointed, as pro-Secretary of State, Cardinal Bartolomeo Pacca. The appointment, in itself, was a gesture of defiance, because Pacca was well known to be the toughest man in the Curia. An aristocrat, with diplomatic experience in Portugal and in Germany, short, thick-set, and physically strong, he belonged to the party that had always disliked Consalvi's policy of rapprochement with revolutionary France, and he boiled with indignation at the way the Pope had been treated in Paris. Had Pius been given by Napoleon the chance to pursue the policy of reconciliation which his heart preferred, he would never have called Pacca to power. But since nothing was now left to the Pope save to resist, he would choose the man who knew best how to resist; and magnificently the cardinal responded to the call.
Miollis soon discovered that he had gained nothing by removing Gabrielli. During the summer of the year 1808 he was trying to organize a system of volunteer civic guards amongst the Romans and in the provinces, but Pacca, following the Pope's instructions, managed to placard the walls of the town telling the citizens not to enroll. On September 6 the general sent a couple of officers round to the Quirinal to arrest Pacca and remove him to Benevento, but the cardinal got word to the Pope -- at the far end of the building -- and suddenly Pius appeared in the room. The Pope's face, Pacca tells us in his memoirs, was quite transformed by his anger; for the first time the cardinal saw a phenomenon of which he had hitherto been only aware as a literary phrase, namely, a man's hair "standing on end" with indignation. Controlling himself, the Pope turned to the officer and instructed him to tell General Miollis that he was tired of suffering such outrages and insults from one who still called himself a Catholic; that he understood very well whither all these acts of violence were leading -- that they meant, in turn, to take away all his ministers in order to prevent him from exercising his Apostolic Ministry or his rights as a temporal sovereign. He therefore commanded the cardinal not to obey the pretended orders of the general, but to follow him to his own rooms to be his companion there "in prison." If the general persisted in his plan to tear the cardinal from his side, it would be necessary for him to force open the whole series of doors leading to the papal apartments and make his way into the Pope's presence; upon the French would then fall the responsibility for an unheard-of outrage.
When Pacca had translated the Pope's words into French, for the benefit of the officers, Pope and Secretary departed together, and behind them, as they passed through each great gilded doorway, the keys were turned in the locks, till seventeen bolted doors barred the way to the far northwest corner of the front of the Quirinal. It would now be awkward to separate Pacca from the Pope, the privacy of whose private apartments Miollis was unwilling to violate. But the general did manage to make two captures on that some day: the dean of the Sacred College, Cardinal Leonida Antonelli, was arrested and expelled, and so was the pro-Governor of Rome, Msgr. Arezzo.
Pacca's first act, when he reached the papal apartments, was to dictate a notification to the ambassadors of the powers describing what had occurred on September 6. In doing so he was carrying out the Pope's policy, which was to make sure that Europe should understand that, at every stage in the aggression, he had yielded only to force. He would not reply with force, would not accept the many suggestions that he should "give the Roman mob its head," allowing it to wreak its vengeance on the French. But equally he would allow no one to suppose that he was freely consenting to Napoleon's demands.
During the long winter that followed, the winter of 1808-9, the news filtered through to the papal apartments that Napoleon was now planning to incorporate the city of Rome herself within the French Empire. No longer was his occupation to be merely military; there was to be a transfer of sovereignty, the Pope losing his temporal sovereignty and becoming merely a bishop within Napoleon's dominion.
Yet for one reason and another this decisive act was still delayed. First, Napoleon was preoccupied with the revolt in Spain. Then he was preparing his fourth great campaign against the Austrians. And always there was the deterrent of the threatened excommunication. It was not until May 17 of the year 1809, after he had successfully invaded Austria and established himself in the great Hapsburg palace of the Schönbrunn, that Napoleon issued his decree. Rome, he now announced, had always been part of Charlemagne's empire. The temporal power had interfered with the Pope's spiritual duties. His states were now to be annexed to the French Empire, Rome herself becoming a "free imperial city" within that empire. Pius was to have an income of two million francs to cover his expenses as Head of the Church.
No serious resistance was expected from the Pope. There had been too many rumours for too many months about a possible excommunication; it was not widely believed that this "rusty sword" would now be wielded. Miollis had been summoned to Mantua, where he had met the Emperor; Napoleon had told him he would take his orders in future from Murat, at Naples, from whom he would receive reinforcements. Young General Radet would be sent from Florence, with four hundred horse, to assume control of the policing of Rome.
By June 10 all was ready. Neapolitan troops held the Tiber bridges, refusing access to the centre of the city from the Trastevere, where the populace was dangerously papal. A herald on horseback, gorgeously arrayed in red, proclaimed Napoleon's decree from the Capitol to the accompaniment of trumpets. Slowly, over the Sant' Angelo, the papal flag was lowered and the tricolour raised in its place. And Pius, peering with Pacca from behind a heavy curtain, at his window in the Quirinal, murmured Consummatum est.
Soon Pacca procured a copy of Napoleon's proclamation; still standing by the window with the Pope he read it, though with difficulty, because his eyes were misty and because the room had been curtained against the July sun. When he had heard his deposition proclaimed the Pope stepped quickly to a table and signed a prepared order, denouncing the usurpation and calling on the Romans not to give their support to the new régime. Then he turned to the other document, the Bull of Excommunication. Even now he hesitated to sign this document till fortified by Pacca's conviction and by a few moments of prayer. Before nightfall supporters had risked their lives to post copies of both orders on the walls of the great basilicas -Saint Peter's, Saint John Lateran, and Saint Mary Major. Though these afficheurs were seen by many they were never betrayed.
III. PIUS IS KIDNAPPED
News of the excommunication reached Napoleon at a dangerous time during his Austrian campaign, just before the battle of Wagram. He was not prepared for it and his reaction was sharp. There was to be no more compromise. "The Pope," he wrote to Murat, "is a dangerous madman who must be shut up. Arrest Cardinal Pacca and the other adherents of the Pope." Already, before he had heard of the excommunication, he had written to Miollis: "You should arrest, even in the Pope's establishment, all those who plot against public order and the safety of the army."
What did Napoleon really want his generals to do?
He knew that Pius was keeping Pacca close to him, and he believed Pacca to be responsible for publishing the excommunication. He was therefore determined that Pacca should be arrested, even though this would mean breaking into the Pope's private apartments and placing the Pope himself under constraint. In an earlier letter he had referred, as precedents, to Philip the Fair's rough treatment of Boniface VIII in the fourteenth century and to Charles V's imprisonment of Clement VII in the sixteenth. But in no letter did he say anything about an abduction of the Pope from Rome. A reasonable interpretation of what he wanted his generals to do would be that they were to deprive the Pope of all means of taking any action which could in any way harm the new régime at Rome. This would mean arresting Pacca and placing the Pope himself under close surveillance.
That was how Miollis understood the Emperor's rather vague instructions. But it was not how they were understood by his new subordinate, the ardent young General Radet, recently arrived from Florence, and put in charge of the policing of Rome. Radet believed that he understood better than the others what Napoleon really wanted. Had he not referred to Philip the Fair, and had not Philip dragged Boniface into France? How could they ever prevent the Pope from acting as a centre for sedition if he remained in Rome? It was Radet who had noted that the Pope was ruling Rome more easily with his little finger than the French could with their bayonets. He now argued that there was only one way to ensure the safety of the new régime: remove the Pope. Surely the Emperor, who encouraged his generals to be daring, would reward one who succeeded in carrying out this awkward enterprise successfully?
The responsibility involved in such an initiative was great; it would be better, Radet knew, for him to have a written order from his superior officer, if he could get it. But unfortunately he couldn't. Miollis was prepared to give him a written order to arrest Pacca, but he was not prepared to give him a written order to arrest the Pope. He did not feel he had the Emperor's warrant to do that. Napoleon had made it clear, in his letter to Murat, that Pacca was to be arrested, but the same letter had only said that the Pope must be shut up. The Pope was virtually shut up where he was; it would only be necessary to set a guard over him, in his apartments at the Quirinal; Napoleon's order, Mollis thought, gave no warrant for his removal.
Radet, however, was not to be deterred; the greater the risk the greater chance of glory. Armed only with an instruction to effect the arrest of Pacca, he proceeded to organize the abduction of the Pope.
The operation was planned for the small hours of the morning of July 6. Midnight had sounded from a hundred churches; still a single sentry watched from the little tower above the west wing of the Quirinal. And the light was yet on in the Pope's room, facing the piazza Quirinale, at the west end of the palace façade. But at 2 A.M. this window, like the rest of the palace, went dark, and soon the silhouette of the sentry disappeared from the tower. It was a hot night and a still one, but an attentive ear on the Quirinal bill might have heard, rising at a distance, from the river, the feet of Neapolitan troops taking possession of the bridgeheads; and closer, more ominous, the massing of Radet's men in the piazza SS. Apostoli at the foot of the steep lanes leading up to the palace.
The assault was to be made by three parties. One was to work its way through the gardens, hidden between the high box hedges; another was to make for a window at the rear which it was believed could be quickly forced; a third -- forty men, with Radet himself in charge -- was to climb by means of rope scaling ladders onto the relatively low roof of the Dateria, extending away from that corner of the Quirinal palace where the Pope had his apartments. It was believed that access to those apartments would be easy from the Dateria roof, so rope ladders were thrown up from the point where today a new flight of steps leads up onto the piazza Quirinale.
Unfortunately the main ladder broke, precipitating Radet and his group in confusion on the ground. They were unhurt, but their cries gave the alarm; secrecy was lost, and soon the façade of the palace was ablaze with lights. There were cries and alarums; then somebody started tolling the great bell. Radet himself rushed to the main door and started working on it with his hatchet, but soon, from the inside, the bolts were thrown back for him, for the party from the rear had made good its entry through the unguarded window. Soon the interior of the Quirinal became a scene of confusion and violence; the Swiss Guards, under orders not to resist French soldiers, were disarmed of their halberds; hatchets were used to smash open door after door, porcelain vases and costly mirrors crashed on the marble floors. At last Radet himself, having ascended the great staircase and forced his way through the front rooms, found himself, hatchet in band, hot and perspiring, at the entrance to the Hall of Audience, and there he saw the Pope seated waiting, clad in his soutane, his stole, and his mozzetta, with Cardinal Pacca on one side of him and on the other the Spanish cardinal, Despuig.
Then Radet hesitated. He ordered his followers back.
What happened to him?
Later on he would avow that "in the road, on the roofs, mounting the stairs, with the Swiss, it all seemed splendid. But when I saw the Pope, at that same moment, I saw myself once more at my first Communion."
The Pope, who had been warned of what was happening in time to enable him to assume the garments of his authority, and to repair composed to the Hall of Audience, could see the general's moment of hesitation.
"And why have you come?"
"Most Holy Father, to repeat, in the name of the French Government, to your Holiness, the proposition that he should renounce his temporal power."
"We cannot yield what does not belong to us. The temporal power belongs to the Church."
"Then I am under orders to take you away."
"Assuredly, my son, those orders will not bring divine blessings upon you."
They would not, and Radet knew it. That was his tragedy, which would remain with him, looming larger later in his life. But meanwhile he was a soldier, carrying through a difficult assignment, and time was short. Across the piazza, from the terraced gardens of the Corsini palace, Miollis had been listening, and sending scouts to keep him in touch with the assault. In support of the younger general he now provided a carriage at the main entrance to the Quirinal, and he moved Neapolitan troops into the piazza. It was only 3.30 A.M. and the Romans were not yet roused; the clanging of the Quirinal bell had been quickly cut short by the knife of one of Radet's men; the other telltale belfries had been occupied in advance. If Radet acted promptly the getaway could be made before dawn, before the crowds gathered.
So Radet gave the Pope only half an hour to prepare himself. He might take Pacca with him, but nobody else. Pius occupied the short time available collecting together the few objects that he held indispensable to have with him -- his ciborium, containing the Blessed Sacrament, his breviary, his rosary. He quite forgot to take any money, and his servants, in the general fluster, surprisingly failed to find for him fresh linen, or shoes. Within the stipulated time he and Pacca were being conducted through the debris, down the great staircase, through the, courtyard, out into the coach. The Neapolitan guard presented anus. Radet locked the two doors on his prisoners and mounted beside his coachman; attack of the whip and off they rattled into the via Pia (the modern via Venti Settembre ), then out of the city through the porta Salaria and round the outside of the Aurelian wall to the Flaminian gate. The two ecclesiastics knew nothing of where they were going. They understood they were to be brought before Miollis. But at the Flaminian gate they were transferred to another coach. As dawn broke they saw that they were heading for the north.
Though he had travelled much, Pius had always been a poor traveller; long days in a coach, on bad roads, always played havoc with his digestion. And on this occasion there were various aggravating factors. July is the hottest month in central Italy; by midday it became stifling, but Radet kept the windows, of the coach closed and curtained to prevent the curious from recognizing his prisoners. The intense heat, added to the nervous tension of the occasion, afflicted both passengers, but the Pope, who was in his sixty-seventh year, suffered more severely than the younger and tougher cardinal. When at last they climbed into the mountains it was night, and the freshness of the air on the higher ground, welcome as it was, was treacherous. Since the Pope had become chilled and feverish Radet decided to stop at a little mountain inn at Radicofani. They were quite unexpected, so they naturally found nothing ready; nor had they fresh linen into which to change after the perspiring journey. Pacca, still clothed as a cardinal, helped the single servant to make the Pope's bed, then threw himself down, just as he was, on a hard mattress close by.
In the morning the Pope was suffering from dysentery; he had been sick in the night. Radet saw he could not be moved on again in the heat of the day. But fortunately he rallied during the afternoon, especially when there arrived from Rome servants who had been allowed to follow, bringing fresh linen and other needs. By now Radet had received instructions to make for the Certosa di Val d'Ema, the famous Carthusian monastery outside Florence, where the Pope could be suitably lodged by the few monks who had been allowed to remain there. It was the obvious place. Pius VI had been confined there during the winter of 1798-9. The prospect of so cool and quiet a destination, where he would be cared for by the Carthusian monks, provided the Pope with some inducement to submit himself to being hurried on from Radicofani.
The departure was made at 11 P.M. and the pace was well maintained through the night. By dawn they were at the gates of Siena, where they were met by a strong guard. For a few hours, during the daytime, they rested at a hotel, but by 3 P.M. they were off again. This time they had not gone far when a broken axle threw Radet off into the dust and Pacca onto the top of the Pope. The coach was quickly set to rights by the peasants, but a new one was needed to continue the journey, and meanwhile so great a crowd collected, snarling cani! at the French guard and demanding a papal blessing, that Radet became anxious. But he hit on the ingenious device of ordering the people to their knees to receive the papal blessing; after he had them kneeling on either side of the road he whipped up the horses to a gallop and dashed ahead.
So on they rattled down the winding road until at last, in the evening light, the Gothic towers of the great Certosa could be seen on the horizon. But it was after ten before they reached the gates and the Pope was so exhausted that he could scarcely speak to the monks who greeted him. After blessing them briefly he retired and fell into a deep sleep in the bed that had been used not long before by Pius VI.
Meanwhile Radet, who had discharged his duty when he had conveyed the Pope into safe custody at the Certosa, went straight on to Florence to report to the Grand Duchess of Tuscany, who was Napoleon's sister Elisa. He did not reach the palace till after eleven, but he was admitted, although Elisa was then in her bath.
What Radet told her from the other side of a screen disturbed the Grand Duchess. "General," she said, "you have brought me a very embarrassing present." She had no instructions from her brother as to what she should do with the Pope, and she knew that his presence as a prisoner in her territory could easily help to turn the Tuscan countryside against her. It would be wisest to pass him on quickly farther north; so she sent an officer to the Certosa to conduct him away at once. Awakened from a deep sleep at 4 A.M. the Pope was told that his journey was to continue forthwith; further, he was to be separated from Pacca, who was to be conveyed north by a different route. Elisa at least knew enough of her brother's intentions to realize that his root idea was to separate the Pope from his evil counsellors.
Pius's face, Pacca tells us, was a greenish colour from exhaustion, when they woke him. His escort tried to induce him to put on secular clothes, in which he would be less conspicuous, but he absolutely refused to do so. He insisted that be would keep hold of the outward signs of his great office; he complained that they had compelled him to leave Rome without selecting changes of garment, without even the time to find his tobacco, that they were making him travel like a postil- ion, with no regard for his age, that evidently they meant to kill him off with their bad treatment. Nor, though it was Sunday morning, would they allow him the time to say or to hear Mass. "I cannot believe," he said, "that these are the intentions of the Emperor Napoleon."
Pius had plenty to grumble about in that early morning, but by five o'clock, when he entered the coach, his serenity bad returned, and with his customary courtesy he invited the escorting officer from Florence to sit on the seat beside him.
The journey that lay ahead was at least as arduous as that which lay behind. It was made by the rough coastal road up as far as the outskirts of Genoa; then, to avoid crowds in the great port, where they had heard the news, and were full of expectancy, Pius was conveyed by boat, and by night, across the bay to San Pier D'Arena, to the west of the city. Tbence he was taken to Alessandria; by an odd coincidence Pacca, who had been brought by way of Modena and Parma, was in the city on the same day, but he was not allowed to see the Pope.
They were now in the land administered by Napoleon's "Governor General of the Departments beyond the Alps," the Prince Camillo Borghese, who was married to the Emperor's youngest sister, Pauline. She and her husband were of the same opinion as Elisa; the Pope was too embarrassing a prisoner to hold on their territory. It would be safer to send him on into France, preferably to a strong garrison town. Grenoble suggested itself; he could he lodged at Grenoble until word was received from the Emperor as to what they were to do with him.
So the journey was continued, carefully avoiding the city of Turin, and up into the Alps. At the top of the Mont Cenis they again found Pacca; this time the two men were allowed to meet once more, at the famous hospice at the summit. Thence they rode together down through Saint Jean de Maurienne and Chambéry to Grenoble. The guards had by now ceased to try to control the popular demonstrations, and the last stages of the Pope's journey became a triumphal progress, reminiscent of his reception along the same Toad when be bad been travelling to crown Napoleon.
But on his arrival at Grenoble he was again separated from Pacca and confined in the Prefecture.
"I cannot believe that these are the intentions of the Emperor Napoleon." The Pope's protest at the Certosa was well grounded; they were not the Emperor's intentions. If Napoleon had arranged the matter it would not have been such a muddle and it might have been more humane. When he heard about it he wrote to Miollis: "I am angry that the Pope was removed from Rome. I had ordered that Cardinal Pacca should be arrested and not the Pope. An operation of such importance ought not to have been carried out without my being warned in advance and without my naming the place to which he should be taken."
At the time of Radet's assault on the Quirinal, Napoleon had been engaged in the campaign of Wagram and the armistice negotiations that followed. He first beard what had happened at Rome in a letter from Miollis which arrived on July 18. Immediately upon receiving it he wrote to Fouché, the minister of police at Paris: "...I am angry that the Pope has been arrested, it is a piece of utter folly. Cardinal Pacca should have been arrested and the Pope left peacefully at Rome. However, there is no way of remedying the matter; what is done is done. I do not know what the Prince Borghese will have done by now, but I do not want the Pope brought into France. If be is still on the Riviera around Genoa the best place to put him would be Savona. There is a large house there where be could suitably stay until it is possible to see what will happen. If he stops being so foolish I should not be opposed to his being taken back to Rome. If be has already been brought into France, have him taken back towards Savona and San Remo. Keep a close eye on his correspondence.
"As for Cardinal Pacca, have him shut up in the Fenestrelle, and let him know that if a single Frenchman is assassinated as a result of his instigation he will be the first to pay for it with his head."
Unfortunately it was too late for Napoleon to control "an operation of such importance" from several hundred miles away. On August 6 he heard that the Pope had been brought to Grenoble. So be wrote at once to Fouché: "Since he has been brought to Grenoble, I shall be angry if you have already removed him, to take him to Savona; it will be better to keep him at Grenoble since be is there; otherwise we should seem to be playing about with the old man...." But the day before this letter arrived the authorities at Grenoble had acted in accordance with his first letter. Pacca they had despatched to the mountain fortress of the Fenestrelle, in the Savoy Alps. The Pope they had sent south by way of the Rhone valley to Savona. No doubt they were wise not to send the Pope back by the way he had come, over the Mont Cenis and down to Alessandria; that, indeed, would have made people think that the Emperor was "playing about with the old man." On the other hand, taking him down the Rhone valley meant taking him through lands very Catholic in sentiment, including the city of Avignon, till recently a papal city. There were demonstrations of sympathy with the Pope and demonstrations against his guards. And when he reached Nice, and moved eastwards along the Mediterranean coast, with its largely Italian population, the demonstrations were even more vociferous. By the time be had reached the destination determined by Napoleon -- the little town of Savona -- care had been taken to see that it was well garrisoned.
[Continue to Chapter 4]
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