Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 168. THE SACK OF ROME


Pope Clement the Seventh, seeing the French king restored to liberty, and misdoubting the puissance and domination of the emperor in Italy, so near under his nose, absolved the French king from his oath; also joined together a confederacy of Venetians and other princes against the emperor, bearing great hatred against all them that any thing favoured the emperor's part, especially the family of Columna in Rome, which family was then imperial; and therefore, to show his hatred against them, he said to Pompey, cardinal of the same family, in threatening words, that he would take away his cardinal's hat: to whom it was answered again by the cardinal, that if he so did, he would put on a helmet to overthrow the pope's triple crown: whereby it may appear here by the way, what holiness and virtue lieth in the pope and cardinals of that catholic see of Rome.

Thus the false pope, under the lying title of holiness, was the father of much mischief and of great wars, which after ensued; for the duke of Bourbon, and others of the emperor's captains, having intelligence of the pope's purpose and confederacy, gathered their army together, and after much bloodshed and fighting about Milan, Hawd, and Cremona, at length they approached and bent their siege against Rome, and after three sharp assaults, obtained the city, with the whole spoil thereof: where also they besieged the aforesaid pope with his cardinals, in the mount of Adrian, and took him prisoner, A.D. 1527. As touching the cause of the besieging of Rome, now ye have beard: for the manner of taking of Rome, and of the pope, the order thereof is thus described in Hall and others.

he emperor's army, departing from Florence to the city of Sienna, where they lost their ordnance, took counsel there to go to Rome, and so much they travelled by night and day, commonly passing forty miles day and night, (their good will was such,) that the sixth day of May, with banners displayed, they came before the city of Rome, being Saturday the same day; and on Sunday the Romans made bulwarks, ramparts, and other defences, and laid ordnance on the walls, and shot at them without fiercely.

The duke of Bourbon determined that it was not best to lie still without, and be slain with ordnance, considering that they were all naked people, and without great ordnance; wherefore he determined to take the chance, and to give the assault, and so manfully they approached the walls between the Burgo Novo and old Rome. But the Romans valiantly defended them with hand-guns, pikes, stones, and other weapons, so that the enemies were fain to retreat. Then the Romans were glad, and set many fair banners on their towers and bulwarks, and made great shouts; which the duke of Bourbon seeing, cried, "To a new assault." Then the drumflades blew, and every man with a ladder mounted; and, at the first encounter, the Romans put them a little back again, which the duke of Bourbon perceiving, cried "God and the emperor!" Then every man manfully set on. There was a sore fight, many an arrow shot, and many a man felled; but at last the emperor's men got the wall: and between every assault fell a mist, so that they within could not see what part they without would assail; which was profitable to the emperor's party. At the three assaults were slain three hundred Switzers of the pope's guard. In this last assault was the duke of Bourbon struck in the thigh with a hand-gun, of the which he shortly after died in a chapel of St. Sist, whither his soldiers bad brought him; and this chance notwithstanding, the army entered into Rome, and took the pope's palace, and set up the emperor's arms.

The same day that these three assaults were made, Pope Clement passed little on the emperor's army; for he had accursed them on the Saturday before, and in his curse he called the Almains Lutherans; and the Spaniards, Murreins, or Moors: and when he was hearing of mass, suddenly the Almains entered into the church, and slew his guard and divers other. He, seeing that, fled in all haste by a privy way to the castle of St. Angelo; and all they that followed him that way, and could not enter, were slain, and if he in that fury had been taken, he had been slain. The cardinals and other prelates fled to the castle of St. Angelo, over the bridge, where many of the common people were overpressed and trodden down, and as they gave way to the cardinals and other estates that passed towards the castle for succour.

The cardinal of Senes, of Sesarine, of Todi, of Jacobace, and of the Valle, tarried so long, that they could not get to the castle for the multitude of the people; wherefore they were compelled to take another house, called the palace of St. George, where they kept themselves for awhile as secretly as they might. You must understand, that through the city of Rome runneth a famous river called Tiber, and on the one side of the river standeth the castle of St. Angelo, or the borough of St. Angelo; and the other side is called Burgo Novo, or the New Borough. This bridge is called the bridge of Sixtus, which lieth directly before the castle. At the end of this bridge was a wonderful strong bulwark, well ordnanced and well manned. The emperor's men, seeing that they could do nothing to the pope, nor to that part of the city, but by the bridge, determined to assault the bulwark: and so, as men without fear, came on the bridge, and the Romans so well defended them, that they slew almost four thousand men. Seeing this, the prince of Orange, and the marquis of Gnasto, with all speed gave assault, and notwithstanding that the Romans shot great ordnance, hand-guns, quarels, and all that might be shot; yet the imperial persons never shrank, but manfully entered the bulwark, and slew and threw down out of the loops all the Romans that they found, and after razed the bulwark to the ground. The pope was in the castle of St. Angelo, and beheld this fight; and with him were four-and-twenty cardinals, of which one, called the cardinal Sanctorum Quatuor, or the cardinal of Pouch, was slain, and with him were one thousand prelates and priests, five hundred gentlemen, and five hundred soldiers: wherefore immediately the captains determined to lay siege to the castle of St. Angelo, lest they within might issue out, and turn them to damage; wherefore suddenly a siege was planted round about the castle. In the mean season, the soldiers fell to spoil. Never was Rome so pillaged, either by the Goths or Vandals: for the soldiers were not content with the spoil of the citizens, but they robbed the churches, brake up the houses of close religious persons, and overthrew the cloisters, and spoiled virgins, and maltreated married women. Men were tormented if they had not to give to every new asker or demander: some were strangled, some were punished by dreadful mutilation, to cause them to confess their treasure. This woodness continued a great while, and some men might think that when they had gotten so much, then they would cease and be quiet, but that was not so, for they played continually at dice, some five hundred, some a thousand ducats at a cast; and he that came to play laden with plate, went away almost naked, and then fell to rifling again. Many of the citizens, which could not patiently suffer that vexation, drowned themselves in the Tiber. The soldiers daily, that lay at the siege, made jests of the pope. Sometimes they had one riding like the pope, with a base woman behind him; sometimes he blessed, and sometimes he cursed, and sometimes they would with one voice call him antichrist: and they went about to undermine the castle, and to have thrown it down on his head; but the water that environeth the castle disappointed their purpose.

In this season the duke of Urbino, with fifteen thousand men, came to aid the pope; but hearing that Rome was taken, he tarried forty miles from Rome, till he heard other word. The marquis of Saluzzo, and Sir Frederic de Bodso, with fifteen thousand footmen, and a thousand horsemen, were at Viturbo the tenth day of May, where they, hearing that the city of Rome was taken, also tarried. The cardinal of Colume came with an army of Neapolitans to help the emperor's men, but when he saw the cruelty of the soldiers, he did little to help them, but he hated them much.

The bishop of Rome was thus besieged till the eighth of the ides of July; at which day he yielded himself for necessity, and penury of all things in the castle: and then he was restored to give graces, and grant bulls as he did before; but he tarried still in the castle of St. Angelo, and had a great number of Almains and Spaniards to keep him; but the Spaniards bare most rule in the castle, for no man entered nor came out of the castle but by them. When the month of July came, corn began to fail in Rome, and the pestilence began to wax strong; wherefore the great army removed to a place called Narvia, forty miles from Rome, leaving behind them such as kept the bishop of Rome.

When they were departed, the Spaniards never were contented till they had gotten the Almains out of the castle of St. Angelo, and so they had the whole custody of the pope. And thus much for the sacking of Rome.


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