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Mission of Rinuccini as Papal Nuncio.
disengagement from the conflicting motives of secular statesmen, and, above all, of an external and arbitrary rule substituted for the law of conscience. On a large or small scale religious politicians are generally more unscrupulous, and, beyond the limits of their chosen principle, more unprincipled than other men. In his obedience to the instructions of Rome, in his determination to advance the cause of Catholicism, Rinuccini never wavers; but neither does he hesitate to make false assertions to suspected allies, nor shrink from conniving at the cruelty and rapine of the army which support his cause. In the decline of his influence he shows the contingent weakness of those who stand, as ecclesiastics often do, apart from general human interests, while they actively engage in particular enterprises. They almost always prefer immediate success to ultimate security, they misunderstand the secular instruments with which they work, and sooner or later they undergo the suspicion which justly attaches to them in their isolated position, of joining in the game of human life with the intention of playing unfairly. The nuncio's piety, according to the Roman type, appears to have been genuine, and his energy and the rapidity with which he acquired a knowledge of the affairs of Ireland were very remarkable. He spoke Latin, which was his medium of communication with the Irish, with fluency and eloquence. The short Italian memoir of his mission is written with peculiar force and spirit, but the style is so much more animated than that of his letters, that it may be doubtful whether it was of his own composition. His adversary, Bellings, says, that the open and familiar Irish took great offence at his reserved and ceremonious manners. It is certain, however, that the common people retained their devotion to him to the last, and it is probable that the assumption of dignity natural to a high-born minister of Rome, was well calculated to win their reverence.
Urban VIII. had employed the Abate Pier Francesco Scarampi as his agent in Ireland for about two years before his death in 1644. His successor, Innocent X., on receiving an application for aid from the council of the Confederated Catholics, determined, against the wish of their more moderate leaders, to send them a minister with the high rank of nuncio. He first selected Luigi Omodei, afterwards a cardinal; but in consequence of the remonstrances of Mazarine against the appointment of a prelate who, as a Milanese, was a subject of Spain, he substituted Giovanni Batista Rinuccini, the son of a Florentine patrician, and a favourite of the grand ducal house of Medici. The nuncio had been educated at Rome and at different Italian universities as a canon lawyer, and at the time of his appointment he had for twenty years held the Archbishopric of Fermo, from attachment
to which, he had in 1631 refused the metropolitan see of Florence. He received his instructions early in the year 1645, and passing through Florence, Genoa, and Marseilles, he arrived in Paris about the middle of May.
It would not have been consistent with the policy of the court of Rome to engage in Irish affairs with any more limited object than that of establishing the undisputed supremacy of Catholicism. The event proved that the purpose was unattainable, but it was not strange that it should be entertained by a power which had so often achieved greater victories, under circumstances apparently more unpromising. From the time when the popes, renouncing the policy of founding principalities for their families, had resumed their proper position at the head of Catholic Christendom, the counsels and the wealth of the Holy See had prevailed over Protestantism through the greater part of Europe. In less than a century the widely-scattered sparks of the Reformation had been trodden out in Spain and Italy, the French throne had been shaken by the Catholic League, and the Huguenots reduced to be content with a precarious toleration. From the south and from the east of Germany, Protestantism had been pushed steadily back, till Austria, Bohemia and Bavaria were free from its contagion, and it seemed probable that, but for the connivance of Urban VIII. at Richelieu's resistance to the ambition of the House of Austria, the opponents of Rome might have been driven beyond the Baltic and the British Channel, or forced, like their brethren in France, to exist as a dependent though hostile republic, in the heart of a powerful Catholic monarchy. Innocent X. was, according to the frequent custom at Rome, disinclined to the policy of his immediate predecessor, and suspected by the French court of an undue bias to the Spanish interest. He professed, however, entire impartiality, and while the continent of Europe, where the war was drawing to its close, no longer offered opportunities for spreading the orthodox faith by arms and policy, Ireland seemed an open field. The two great powers were themselves engaged by promises to support the Catholic cause, and to the crown of England the pope owed no friendship, and did not now profess hostility. The Irish were poor and religious: the pope, though not the richest prince in Europe, had the greatest command of ready money, and of spiritual treasures he possessed an inexhaustible supply. It seemed probable that the confederates, divided as they were in wishes, in interests, and in blood, would find unity and power in obedience to the head of that religion which was their only common bond. The real motives and the actual strength of the component factions of the great Catholic body could not be fully known by a foreign court,
Mission of Rinuccini as Papal Nuncio.
and even now the true state of Ireland at the time is involved in much obscurity and confusion.
It is probable that the government of Ireland has never been conducted in a manner so favourable to the interests of the majority of the inhabitants, as under the vigorous despotism of Strafford; but his arbitrary and illegal interference with titles to land, and his successful attempts to curb the power of the principal families, had caused deep dissatisfaction among the old English inhabitants, who formed the chief support of the English dominion. The just discontent of the nobility and gentry was only increased by the policy, in many respects opposite to Strafford's, of his Puritan successors, the lords-justices Parsons and Borlase. The Catholics, who formed the vast majority of the aristocracy, as well as of the people, were threatened with the immediate enforcement of the dormant penal laws; and when the old Irish of Ulster, whose chieftains had been dispossessed of their lands by James I., took the occasion of the universal ferment to rise in that insurrection, of which the provocations have been so falsely extenuated, and the atrocities so much aggravated by puritan historians, the only object of the lords-justices was to multiply forfeitures by adding to the number of compulsory rebels. The English of the Pale, suspected, insulted and threatened, were compelled to arm themselves against the government, which, as they justly asserted, was itself disposed to hostility against the king. At first they acted independently, but they were soon compelled to ally themselves with their old enemies the Irish, and to form in conjunction with them a provisional government for the confederacy. In May, 1642, their general assembly, consisting of all the peers and Catholic bishops of their party, together with trustees from the counties and boroughs, elected as members of parliament, but disclaiming the title as an encroachment on the royal prerogative, met at Kilkenny, and appointed a supreme council to act as the executive government. Measures were taken for raising a revenue, commanders-in-chief appointed for the four provinces, and agents sent to request assistance from the Catholic courts of Europe. They professed undeviating loyalty to the king, and when the civil war in England had broken out, Charles early saw the importance of securing their alliance and aid. In 1643 he recalled the obnoxious justices, and soon afterwards appointed the Marquis of Ormond, the most powerful and popular nobleman in Ireland, to govern what remained of the kingdom as lord-lieutenant, with a commission to treat with the confederated Catholics.
The position of the marquis was singular. His predecessors had not avowedly thrown off their allegiance to the king, and
although as lieutenant-general under their administration he had preserved the loyalty of the greater part of the army, he was not as yet engaged in professed hostility to the parliament. The assembly of the Catholics swarmed with his friends and dependents, and the majority were eager to submit to his government. The Scotch settlers in the north, with an army from Scotland under Monroe, occupied the greater part of Ulster, and were known' to adhere to the parliament. Lord Inchiquin commanded under the lord-lieutenant in Munster, where he held the principal towns. In the western part of Leinster, in a great part of Munster, and in nearly the whole of Connaught, except the towns of Loughrea and Portumna, the supreme council was sovereign; but the Earl of Clanricarde, the first Catholic nobleman in the kingdom, still held those towns for the king and his lieutenant, in defiance of the threats and censures of the clergy, and although the rank of commander-in-chief of the Catholic army of Connaught was at all times ready for his acceptance. His vast feudal power and personal weight had great influence in determining the council to agree with the lord-lieutenant on a cessation of arms preliminary to a peace which took place in 1643, and was at first rejected only by the Scotch of Ulster. On the failure, however, of an expedition of the confederate army to the north, coinciding in time with the advance of Leven's Scottish army into England, several of the English garrisons declined the cessation, and soon afterwards, in consequence of a slight imprudently offered him by the king, Inchiquin drove the Catholics out of the towns which he occupied, and declared against the royal cause, or, in the language of the time, in favour of the king and parliament. In the meantime the assembly advanced a considerable sum to Ormond, and enabled him to send 4000 men to the assistance of the king in England. The negotiations for a final peace, however, proceeded slowly. The Catholics demanded the abolition of the penal laws, and further securities for their religion, which Ormond did not think himself at liberty to concede; less, perhaps, from a doubt of the sufficiency of his power, than from a belief that when the civil war in England was at an end, the king would be unwilling or unable to abide by the agreements that might be made. Scarampi, by direction of the pope, opposed all concessions of religious claims, but all parties were unwilling to recommence the war: the cessation was renewed from time to time, and the general state of affairs was little altered from 1643 till the appointment of Rinuccini.
The nuncio was forbidden by his instructions to linger in France, or to engage in any negotiations there, except with the Queen of England. Yet he spent four busy months in Paris, and with Hen
Mission of Rinuccini as Papal Nuncio.
rietta Maria he never had an interview. By the end of August the patience of the Roman court appeared to be worn out; he was ordered to hasten instantly to Ireland, and sharply and repeatedly censured for his delay. Many writers have accused him of insolence in refusing to visit the queen, and Bellings asserts that, in violation of his duty, he was intriguing for the office of nuncio to the court of France. The despatches show that Mazarine expressed a similar suspicion, which, as Panfilio somewhat strangely reminds Rinuccini, he must know better than any one to be unfounded. In excusing himself, the nuncio dwells on the disappointments and delay which he experienced in obtaining a vessel for his passage, on the difficulty of obtaining audiences of Mazarine, and on other impediments, which, however real, would certainly not have detained him, if he had been earnest in the wish to prosecute his journey. We are, however, inclined to acquit him of neglect or disobedience. In his apologetic memoir, it is remarkable that he passes slightly over his residence in Paris as requiring no justification; and from his letters it is evident that he was directed to engage in more than one negotiation with the French court. His conduct may be justified on the very probable supposition, that he had secret directions in addition to the ostensible instructions now before us, which it might be necessary to communicate to a suspected colleague at Paris. The pope was, as we have stated, on unfriendly terms with Mazarine, who had recently succeeded to the power, and also to the policy, of Richelieu. He was also engaged in disputes with the family of his predecessor, the Barberini, and distrusted their adherent the Cardinal de' Bagni, who had been appointed by Urban nuncio to the court of France. Rinuccini was ordered to persuade Mazarine to send a minister to Rome, and it is probable that he may have been allowed to feel the ground towards the recall of Bagni, who was not only a Barberinian, or, as Bellings writes, a Barbarian, but devoted to Mazarine and France, as he afterwards proved by the important services he rendered them in the arrangement of the peace of Westphalia. When the French nuncio complained that Rinuccini had brought no letters for him from Rome, and when the cardinal of France intimated that no new appointment of a nuncio would be recognised, the papal secretary explained and apologised, and Rinuccini, like loyal diplomatists in general, was left to bear the censure, which could not decorously be applied to
With respect to the Queen of England his justification is more complete. When he left Rome, Charles was at the head of an army and master of a third of the kingdom: in June the battle of