PAPAL POLICY, 1590-1648.
SIXTUS V had died in August, 1590, filled with hatred against Spain; his energy, which nothing else had been able to destroy, paralysed by the fear of that nation. He was followed to the grave, in the space of a year and a half, by three Popes, who bade farewell to life immediately after their election; and in January, 1592, a fourth was chosen--Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini, who took the name of Clement VIII. He was a son of the Silvestro Aldobrandini who had fled from Florence in 1531, when the Medici were restored through the arms of Spain, and who had ingratiated himself with Paul IV, when that Pope was venturing to make war upon the House of Habsburg. But Spain had since established her supremacy in Italy so firmly that the newly-elected Pope was forced to renounce the tradition of his exiled Florentine House, and to accept unreservedly the position which the Cabinet of Madrid had gained in the Apennine Peninsula. He did this at first with uncompromising firmness, but in the later years of his pontificate with a circumspection so subtle that he contrived to satisfy even the enemies of Spain. This effect he was perfectly able to create, because he had only to look on while the Government of Madrid drifted little by little towards the complete disablement of its own power.
But what was the actual position of this power when Philip II was overtaken by death in September, 1598? In Italy it could scarcely have been more favourable: Sicily, Naples, and Milan were in the undisputed possession of Spain, the Grand Duke of Tuscany not ill-disposed towards her, the Dukes of Parma and Savoy her vassals, the Duke of Urbino a pensioner of the Court of Madrid; the College of Cardinals contained other Spanish pensioners in considerable numbers; obedience, either purchased or compelled, was to be found everywhere, and nowhere an independent State, unless it were Venice, who kept guard over her own sovereignty, leaving the rest of Italy to its fate. But a glance at the countries of Europe north of the Alps makes it clear that Philip II had obtained the reverse of what he wanted. The Armada sent by him against England was annihilated, and Elizabeth's position newly
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Publication information: Book title: The Cambridge Modern History:Planned by the Late Lord Acton. Volume: 4. Contributors: A. W. Ward - Editor, G. W. Prothero - Editor, Stanley Leathes - Editor. Publisher: University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, England. Publication year: 1902. Page number: 666.
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