[The headstones] mark the British war dead of 1940-45. Albania wasn't a major theater of action, but apparently things were happening, because forty-five British soldiers got killed. (I counted the stones.) It was very moving. The stones were simple white limestone. Each had a regimental crest -- "South Lancashire Fusiliers," and such -- a name, age, dates, and a short line. Sometimes these were obviously dictated by the family ("Your wife and mother will cherish your memory"); more often, they were lines of poetry or Bible verses. The youngest soldier I saw was 22; the oldest, 37. The whole enclosure wasn't more than twenty feet by thirty, tops. It sat at a wide spot in the path, overlooking the little lake. There was a small stela with some withered poppy-flower wreaths, presumably laid by the local British community.I did notice one odd thing about the site: the headstones seemed much older than the graveyard itself.
...the enclosure and stela were obviously new, not more than a few years old. But the headstones looked older, possibly old enough to date back to the war. The obvious conclusion would be that there was an original cemetery set up by the British just after the war, but that the Communist government shut it down after relations soured. (But then, why keep the headstones? Or did they simply move the whole thing to some isolated spot in the mountains for 45 years?)That post got a number of interesting comments.
All sat in their seats, pale and silent, thunderstruck, as if in a trance. For some time no one spoke, no one opened his lips, no one moved any part of his body except the eyes, which kept darting about. It was a strange silence and a strange sight, men sitting there like their own statues, no sound to be heard, no movement to be seen. They remained like this for some time, the junior members waiting waiting for their elders to begin the accession. Then Rodrigo, the vice-chancellor,The 27-year-old 'young fool', Rodrigo Borgia.
Then Rodrigo, the vice-chancellor, rose and said, "I accede to the cardinal of Siena," which utterance was like a dagger in Rouen's heart, so pale did he turn. Silence fell again, and each man looked at the next, indicating thoughts by subtle gestures. By now it seemed certain that Aeneas would be pope. Some who feared this result left the conclave, pretending physical needs, but really with the intent of frustrating what destiny had decreed must happen that day. Those who withdrew in this way were the cardinals of Kiev and San Sisto. But no one followed them, and so they soon returned. Then Jacopo, cardinal of Sant'Anastasia said, "I, too, accede to the cardinal of Siena." This sent an even greater shock through the assembly. All were struck dumb, as if a tremendous earthquake had shaken the hall. Aeneas now needed only a single vote, for twelve would make a pope. Seeing this, Cardinal Prospero Colonna decided to seize for himself the honor of acclaiming the next pontiff. He rose and was about to pronounce his vote -- solemnly, and according to procedure -- when the cardinals of Nicaea and Rouen suddenly laid hands on him and rebuked him sharply for wanting to accede to Aeneas. When he persisted, they tried to get him out of the room by force, one seizing his right arm and the other his left -- they would even resort to means like these, so determined were they to snatch the papacy from Aeneas. And yet, Prospero, though he had voted for Rouen in the scrutiny, was bound to Aeneas by ties of friendship. Ignoring their abuse and empty threats, he turned to the other cardinals and cried, "I too accede to the cardinal of Siena, and I make him pope!" When they heard this, the opposition's courage failed; all their designs were shattered. Every cardinal rushed to fall at Aeneas's feet and hail him as pope. Then, returning to their seats, they unanimously ratified the election. And then Cardinal Bessarion spoke, both for himself and on behalf of those who had favored Rouen: "Your Holiness," he said, "we honor your election, and we do not doubt it is God's will. We thought before and still think now that you are worthy of the office. We only voted against you because of your infirmity. Indeed, in our view, your gout was your only defect, for the Church needs an active man with the physical strength to endure long journeys and to face the terrible trials we fear the Turks are preparing for us. You, on the contrary, need rest. It was this that led us to support Rouen. Had you been a strong man, we should have preferred no one else. But if God is satisfied, we must be satisfied too. The Lord himself, who has chosen you, will make good the defect in your feet, nor will he punish our ignorance. We revere you as pope, we elect you again, so far as is in our power, and we will serve you faithfully." Aeneas replied, "Your Eminence of Nicaea, your opinion of us, as we understand it, is far better than our own. You attribute no defect to us except that in our feet. We are not unaware that our imperfections range more widely than this. We realize we possess faults well nigh beyond measure, for which we might justly have been rejected as pope. As for virtues which make us worthy of this post, we know of none; and we should declare ourselves utterly unworthy and refuse the honor offered us, did we not fear the judgment of Him who has called us. For whatever is done by two-thirds of the sacred college is surely inspired by the Holy Ghost, who may not be resisted. Therefore we submit to the divine summons and we honor you, Your Eminence of Nicaea, and those who voted with you. If, following the dictates of your conscience, you thought us unworthy of election, you will still be welcome among us, who attribute our calling not to this man or that but to the whole college and to God himself, from whom comes 'every good and perfect gift.'" With these words he cast off his old garments and put on the white tunic of Christ. When asked by what name he wished to be called, he answered, "Pius," and was at once addressed as Pius II. Then, having sworn to observe the capitulations issued in the college two days before, he took his place at the altar and was again reverenced by the cardinals, who kissed his feet and hands and cheek. When this was done, the result of the election was made public. From a high window it was proclaimed that he who had been cardinal of Siena was now Pope Pius II. The attendants of the cardinals in the conclave plundered Aeneas's cell, shamelessly carrying off his silver (though it was very modest), his clothes and his books. In the city, a disgraceful mob not only pillaged his house but actually demolished it by making off with blocks of marble.And they all lived happily ever after.
When Pietro, cardinal of San Marco, heard about the conspiracy of the French, he despaired of getting the papacy himself. Then, spurred equally by patriotic fervor and hatred of Rouen, he went round all the Italian cardinals, urging and cajoling them not to abandon their country. He did not rest till he had gathered all the Italians, except Colonna, in the cell of the cardinal of Genoa. There he revealed the conspiracy made in the latrines. If Rouen obtained the papacy, he said, the Church would be ruined and Italy a slave forever more. He implored each and every one of them to act like men, to protect the interests of Mother Church and miserable Italy, to put aside their rivalries and make an Italian pope, and not a foreigner. What was more, if they cared for his opinion, they should prefer Aeneas over any other. Seven cardinals were present: Genoa, Orsini, Bologna, San Marco, Pavia, Siena, and Sant'Anastasia. They all accepted Pavia's plan except Aeneas, who thought himself unworthy of such an honor. Then they went to mass. Once that was finished, they began the scrutiny. A golden chalice was placed on the altar and three cardinals were appointed to watch over it to prevent any fraud. These were the bishop of Kiev, the presbyter of Rouen and the deacon Colonna. The other cardinals took their seats. Then, rising in order of rank and age, each approached the altar and deposited in the chalice a ballot on which he had written the names of his choices for pope. When Aeneas came up and tried to cast his ballot, Rouen blanched and trembled and cried out, "Aeneas, look! I commend myself to you." It was a rash thing to do at this point, when no one was allowed to alter the choice he had made. But ambition overcame prudence. Aeneas replied, "You commend yourself to a worm like me?" and, without another word, dropped his ballot in the cup and went back to his seat. When every vote had been cast, a table was set up in the middle of the room and the same three cardinals emptied the chalice full of ballots onto it. Then they read the ballots out, one after another, noting down the names written on them as they went. And there was not a single cardinal who did not likewise make notes of those named, so there could be no possibility of fraud. This proved to be to Aeneas's advantage; for when the votes had all been counted, Rouen, who was the teller, announced that Aeneas had eight. The rest said nothing about another man's loss, but Aeneas did not lot himself be cheated. "Look more carefully at the ballots," he said to the teller, "for I have nine votes." Then the others agreed with him. Rouen said nothing, as if he had merely made a mistake. The ballots looked like this: each wrote in his own hand, "I, Peter (or John or whatever his name was) elect as pope Aeneas, cardinal of Siena and Jaime, cardinal of Lisbon." It is permitted to submit one or two or even more names, on the understanding that the one first named is the one preferred, but if he should not get enough votes to be elected, the next is to be counted in his place. This way a consensus can be more easily reached. But some people will exploit a useful device for their own advantage, as Latino Orsini did that day. He wrote down seven names in the hope that those he named would be swayed by the favor, either to accede to him in that scrutiny or to vote for him in another. But cheap tricks don't do much for one who is known as a cheat. When the results were read out it was ascertained, as we have said before, that nine cardinals had voted for Aeneas: Genoa, Orsini, Lerida, Bologna, San Marco, Santi Quattro Coronati, Zamora, Pavia, and Portugal. The cardinal of Rouen had only six votes, and the rest far fewer. Rouen was petrified when he saw himself so far outstripped by Aeneas. All the rest were amazed, for no one in living memory had ever polled as many as nine votes by scrutiny. Since no candidate had a clear majority, they decided to resume their seats and try the method that is called "by accession," to see if they just might elect a pope that day. And here again Rouen indulged in empty hopes.Next: the denouement, or Pius Aeneas.
Then, at first light, Aeneas met the vice-chancellor, Rodrigo, and demanded to know whether he had sold himself to Rouen. "What would you have me do?" he replied, "The thing is settled. A lot of the cardinals met in the latrines and decided to elect him. There's no point remaining with the minority and out of favor with the new pope. I've considered my interests and I'm joining the rest. I won't lose the chancellorship; I have a note from Rouen promising me that. If I don't vote for him, the others will elect him anyway and I'll lose my post." Aeneas said to him, "Young fool!"Rodrigo Borgia was twenty-seven years old at this time. For my gentle readers' future use, the Latin here is, "O stulte iuvenis!"
Aeneas said to him, "Young fool! You'll put an enemy of your country in the Apostle's chair? And put your faith in a note from a faithless man? You'll have the note; the chancellorship will go to Avignon. What you've been promised, he's been promised, too, and he's had confirmation. Will Rouen keep faith with him or you? Will a Frenchman be a better friend to a Frenchman or a Catalan?"Huh? Catalan? you may be asking. But the Borgia family -- originally, de Borja -- were from the Valencia area, and as a cardinal Pope Calixtus III was called 'Il Valentino'.
Will he care more about a foreigner or his fellow countryman? You inexperienced boy! You fool! Take care! Even if you think nothing of the Church of Rome, even if you have no regard for the Christian religion and despise God -- whom you'd provide with such a vicar -- at least take thought for yourself, for you will find yourself among the last and least, if a Frenchman becomes Pope." The vice-chancellor listened patiently to the words of his friend and then reversed his decision completely.Um, OK. Thirty-four years and several infamous children later, Rodrigo Borgia would be elected Pope Alexander VI. The legend that he bought the papacy with four muleloads of silver is apocryphal.
After this, Aeneas saw the cardinal of Pavia and said to him, "I hear you too have fallen in with those who are going to lect Rouen. Is it true?" He replied, "You've heard correctly. I've agreed to give him my vote so as not to be left by myself. The matter's already decided, you see. So many cardinals have declared for him."
It was past midnight when the cardinal of Bologna rushed into Aeneas's cell and roused him, saying, "Aeneas, what do you say! Don't you know we've already got a pope? A group of cardinals met in the latrines and decided to elect Guillaume. They're only waiting for morning. I think you should get out of bed and offer him your vote before he's elected, for if he makes it without your support he'll never let you forget it. I'm not falling into that trap again. I know what it means to have the pope against you -- I endured the reign of Calixtus, who never gave me so much as a friendly look, and all because I hadn't voted for him. It's best to curry favor with a future pope well in advance, it seems. I'm giving you the advice I'm going to take myself." Aeneas replied, "Away with you, Filippo, and your advice! No one's going toget me to vote for a man I think totally unfit to follow Peter. Far be it from me, such a sin! If the others want to elect him, let them look to themselves. My hands will be clean of the crime, my conscience won't prick me. You say it's hard to have the pope against you. I'm not worried about that. He won't murder me because I didn't vote for him, that I know. 'But,' you say, 'he won't be kind to you, he won't give you presents, he won't show you favor. You'll feel the pinch of poverty.' Poverty isn't hard for one who's known it well. I've been poor in the past, what does it matter if I die a poor man? He won't take my muses away, and they are all the sweeter when fortunes are low. "Still I can't believe God would let the Church, his bride, perish at the hands of the cardinal of Rouen. What could be further from the preaching of Christ than a vicar enslaved to simony and lust? Divine Mercy will not turn this palace, the house of so many holy fathers, into a den of thieves or a whoring brothel. The apostleship is bestowed by God, not men. They are men who conspire to commit the papacy to Rouen; and human thoughts are but a breath -- who doesn't know that? It was well their conspiracy was made in the latrines; their plots will go down the drain! Like the Arian heresy, these most foul machinations will have a very filthy end."(I am not making this up. The Latin is: in loco foedissimo finem accipient iniquissima machinamenta.)
"Tomorrow it will be clear that the bishop of Rome is chosen by God, not men. As for you, if you are a Christian, you will not promote to be Vicar of Christ a man you know is the arm of the devil!" Hearing these words, Filippo was too frightened to accede to Rouen.Next: part 6, Aeneas gets Chicago on cardinal
A large group of cardinals gathered in the latrines. Here, as if in a secret, private meeting place, they worked out a plan to elect Guillaume pope, binding themselves with oaths and written pledges. Guillaume felt he could rely on their support and within no time was promising benefices, offices and positions of power, and dividing provinces among them. A perfect place to elect such a pope: where better to strike a filthy bargain than in the latrines! The cardinals who had definitely decided for Guillaume included the two Greeks, Genoa, San Sisto, Avignon, Colonna, Pavia, and the vice-chancellor.This is rather an unholy coalition. Alain of Avignon we have already met. The two Greeks are Alain's previous nemesis John Bessarion, and the cardinal of Kiev. (Yes, Kiev.) Pavia has already made his play for the papacy in the accession phase. And the vice-chancellor is Rodrigo Borgia, the late Pope Calixtus III's nephew.
Orsini and the cardinals of Bologna and Sant'Anastasia were wavering and it seemed the slightest pressure would make them accede.And it gets more complicated. The Colonna family and the Orsini family were two of the leading names in Rome, and they got along about as well as you might expect. Think Montagues and Capulets, or Hatfields and McCoys. Also, the Orsinis did not much like the interloping Catalan Borgia family; after Calixtus died, the Orsinis drove out his other nephew, whom Calixtus had made Captain-General of the Church, from Rome to Civitavecchia, where he died of a fever. We've already encountered Filippo, cardinal of Bologna. A little unsteady, our friend Filippo.
Already Rouen felt his hopes were practically assured of success. And now, as it seemed they had eleven men confirmed on their side, they were certain they would get a twelfth straight away. For when it gets to this point in the process, someone is always ready to jump up and say "And I make you pope," to win the favor those words always bring. So they thought the matter settled, and were just waiting for dawn so the vote could be taken.Next: part 5, a late night encounter.
It was the custom for the cardinals to sit and talk together after the result of a scrutiny had been announced, in case anyone wished to change his mind and transfer his vote from one to another. This is the method called "by accession," for it is an easier way to reach an agreement. This procedure was not used after the first scrutiny, for those who had received no votes objected, for they could not now be candidates for accession. They adjourned for lunch, and then a great many private conferences took place. The richer and more influential members of the college summoned others to their presence. Seeking the papacy for themselves or their friends, they begged, made promises, even tried threats. Some threw all decency aside, spared no blushes and pleaded their own cases, claiming the papacy as their right. Among these were Guillaume, cardinal of Rouen; Pietro, cardinal of San Marco; and Giovanni, cardinal of Pavia; nor did the cardinal of Lerida neglect his interests. Each had a great deal to say for himself. Their rivalry was extraordinary, their energy unbounded. They neither rested by day nor slept at night. Rouen, however, feared these men less than Aeneas and the cardinal of Bologna, for he saw that the majority of the votes were tending toward them. But he was especially afraid of Aeneas, for his silence, he was sure, would prove far more effective than the snarling of the rest. And so he would summon now some, now others, and berate them: "What's Aeneas to you? What makes you think he deserves the papacy? Will you give us a pauper and a cripple for a pope? How will a destitute pope restore a destitute church, or an ailing pope a church that is sick? He's only just come from Germany -- we don't know him! What if he transfers the Curia there? And look at his writing! Shall we set a poet in Peter's place, and administer the Church by pagan laws? Or perhaps you think we should choose Filippo of Bologna instead? A stiff-necked fellow, without the wit to rule himself nor listen to those who counsel right? I'm the senior cardinal. You know I'm not stupid. I'm trained in pontifical law and I can boast of royal blood. I have many friends and great resources I can draw on to relieve the Church of her poverty. What's more, I have quite a few church benefices, which I'll distribute among you and the others, when I resign them." Then he would pile on appeals or, if they had no effect, resort to threats. If anyone brought up his past record of simony, suggesting that in his hands, the papacy would be for sale, he would admit that his earlier career had been tainted with that stain, but would swear that in future his hands would stay clean. He was supported by Alain, cardinal of Avignon, a reckless, grasping character who lent him every assistance, not so much a Frenchman aiding a Frenchman as a man who expected, at Guillaume's election, to obtain his house in Rome, the church of Rouen and the vice-chancellorship. A good number of cardinals were swayed by Rouen's splendid promises; like flies, they were victims of their own appetites. And the tunic of Christ, without Christ, was being sold.Incidentally, according to Pius, Alain, cardinal of Avignon, was the fellow who prevented Bessarion, cardinal of Nicaea -- a Byzantine humanist whose life's dream was healing the schism between the Orthodox and Catholic churches (preferably on his own terms), who helped kickstart the Italian Renaissance by sponsoring Greek scholarship there -- from becoming Pope. Instead, the Church got a Borgia. Next: part 4, a fine and private place.
Filippo, cardinal of Bologna, was spending the hot days of summer at Bagnoregio when he heard the news. He went to Viterbo and from there traveled with Aeneas to Rome for the election of the next pope. As they approached the city together, they found the entire Curia and most of the populace waiting to meet them outside the walls. All agreed that one of them would be elected pope. Every other cardinal within a hundred miles of Rome also returned, making nineteen in the city. In the course of the funeral ceremonies, however, the cardinal of Fermo came down with a slow fever. He had aspired passionately, excessively even, to follow Calixtus, and so he did -- to the grave. This was a man who could have been a model of virtue, had he not let ambition and a violent temper master him. His life was pure, his learning and experience great, but he was too fierce a partisan of the Ghibellines. Ten days after Calixtus's death the other eighteen cardinals entered the conclave. The whole city awaited in suspense for the outcome; but it was common talk that Aeneas of Siena would be pope. No one was held in higher esteem. On the conclave met in the apostolic palace at St. Peter's, where two halls and two chapels were cordoned off for the purpose. In the larger chapel they constructed cells where the cardinals would eat and sleep; the smaller, called the chapel of St. Nicholas, was reserved for deliberations and voting. The halls were places where all might walk about freely. The day they entered, they did nothing about the election. The next day they issued certain capitulations which all agreed should be observed by the new pope. Each swore that he would abide by them should the lot fall to him. On the third day, after mass, they took a vote and found that Filippo of Bologna and Aeneas of Siena had received an equal number of votes, five apiece. No one else had more than three. On this ballot, whether from strategy or dislike, no one voted for Guillaume, the cardinal of Rouen.We will see more of this Guillaume d'Estouteville, Cardinal of Rouen, in the next installment. The magic number of votes is twelve.
While taking the baths, he began his History of Bohemia, which he dedicated to Alfonso, king of Sicily and Aragon -- inauspiciously, as it turned out, for the king died before it was finished. He had fallen ill of a slow fever while Aeneas was at the baths and lingered forty days between hope of life and fear of death. Finally he paid his debt to nature, having designated as his heir his illegitimate son, Ferrante, whom Popes Nicholas and Eugenius had declared eligible to rule. The king died in sanctity, for he confessed his sins like a Christian and received the sacraments before he passed to the other life. He charged his son to give the Pope 60,000 gold ducats toward the crusade against the Turks and left large legacies to pious causes. He directed that his bones should be taken to Aragon. The carrying out of these instructions however was hindered by the outbreak of war; for although at Alfonso's death all the princes and states of his realm acknowledged Ferrante as their sovereign and swore allegiance to him, Pope Calixtus transferred the hatred he had felt for Alfonso during his life to his son and declared that the kingdom of Sicily had reverted to the Church of Rome. It was common talk that he intended to put his nephew, Borgia, on the throne. But what is more uncertain than the plans of men? While Calixtus was unduly elated at the death of his royal enemy and thought that now everything was going to be easy for him, he himself fell ill and being weakened by extreme old age died within forty days. Giovanni Caimo, the envoy of Francesco Sforza, duke of Milan, who was passing through Viterbo, went to see Aeneas there and in the course of conversation said he had been sent to Calixtus to tell him it was not acceptable to Francesco that Ferrante should be deposed from his father's throne; if the pope had any such intention, he should know that the duke of Milan would oppose him. Hearing this, Aeneas cried, "Your message will be the death of him!" And so it was, for when Calixtus heard that Francesco opposed him in the matter of the kingdom, he soon fell ill with the disease that killed him. His nephews buried him in the basilica of St. Peter in the chapel known as St. Mary of the Fevers, which was once a temple of Apollo. He died on August 6 in the year of our Savior 1458. As is the custom, the cardinals staged a magnificent funeral.Next: part 2, the conclave.