Les regrets de Joachim du Bellay
Sonnet CV (Originally French)
De voir mignon du Roy un courtisan honneste,
Voir un pauvre cadet l’ordre au col soustenir,
Un petit compagnon aux estat parvenir,
Ce n’est chose (Morel) digne d’en faire feste.
Mais voir un estaffier, un enfant, une beste.
In forfant, un poltron Cardinal devenir,
Et pour avoir bien sceu un singe entretenir
Un Ganymide avoir le rouge sur la teste:
S’estre veu par les mains d’un soldat Espagnol
Bien hault sur un eschelle avoir la corde au col
Celuy, que par le nom de Sainct-Père lon nomme:
Un bélistre en trois jours aux princes s’égaller,
Et puis le voir de là en trois jours dévaller:
Ces miracles (Morel) ne se font point qu’à Rome.
The Regrets of Joachim du Bellay
Sonnet 105 (English Translation)
Seeing King’s darling as an honest courtier,
Watch a poor junior order to support to the collar,
A little companion to achieve status,
This is something, my dear Morel, worthy of making a feast.
Yet seeing a footman, a child, a beast,
A rascal, a coward made a Cardinal
For having taken care of a monkey well,
A Ganymede wearing the red hat on his head
Is to be seen through the hands of a Spanish soldier
Although a high ladder to have the rope to the neck
The one, by the name of the Holy Father’s common names:
A scoundrel in three days for the princes are equal,
And then view there over three days to unwrap:
These are miracles, my dear Morel, that take place in Rome alone.
I searched the internet to the best of my ability to find an English translation of this poem and never found more than a few lines translated. So with my limited ability at translating French and the use of Google Translate with some further help from various French-English Dictionaries, the English Translation above is my best attempt at a translation, though I am afraid I am not poetic enough to translate it in the style of a Petrarchan Sonnet in which it was originally written. If anyone knows of a better English translation, please let me know.
With that caveat at the beginning you may be wondering why I even posted this poem today. For me, the answer is quite interesting. The poem was written by the poet Joachim du Bellay, who lived in Rome while in the retinue of his relative Cardinal Jean du Bellay. This sonnet is one of the two sonnets in his series Les regrets (1558) which expressed his scandalized opinion of Julius III during what became known as The Innocenzo Scandal.
The Innocenzo Scandal
Pope Julius III (1550-1555) was born in Rome, September 10, 1487 as Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, he took the name Julius and studied law at Perugia and Siena. After taking holy orders, he became chamberlain to Pope Julius II. Although an outstanding canonists, his careless homosexuality, especially as he got older, created a scandal for the papacy. In his sixties, he picked up a 14-year-old boy on the streets of Parma. The boy, ironically named Innocenzo was described as being stunningly beautiful, and Julius was so enraptured with him that he forced his brother to adopt Innocenzo.
In February of 1550 Cardinal Del Monte was elected pope as Julius III, and immediately made the 17 year old Innocenzo a Cardinal. Attempts to give the boy an education which could have prepared him for ecclesiastic office had already proven useless – “a few social graces, a few bits of knowledge, perhaps about the glories of the Classical world, and Innocenzo’s formal education was over.” Nevertheless, Julius issued a Papal Bull declaring Innocenzo legitimate – a necessary move given that persons of illegitimate birth were not eligible for membership of the College of Cardinals – and named him Cardinal Nephew, effectively in charge of all papal correspondence. But the role of secretary to the papacy proved manifestly beyond Innocenzo’s abilities, and so, in order to find a way for his favourite to retain the appearance of power without having any real responsibility, Julius upgraded a hitherto minor position, that of secretary intimus, which, as Cardinal Secretary of State, was eventually to become the highest of Vatican offices. Innocenzo, although relieved of all real duties, continued to be showered with benefices and high offices, much to the disgust of his fellow cardinals. As Cardinal he was given the titular church of San Callisto, in 1562.
|Council of Trent|
Cardinals who were more sensitive to the need to reform the mores of the Church in order to combat the Protestant Reformation protested in vain against Innocenzo’s elevation. Rumors also circulated around European courts. Gossip called the boy Julius’s “Ganymede.” The relationship became a staple of anti-papal polemics for over a century: it was said that Julius, awaiting Innocenzo’s arrival in Rome to receive his cardinal’s hat, showed the impatience of a lover awaiting a mistress, and that he boasted of the boy’s prowess. The Venetian ambassador, Matteo Dandolo, wrote that Cardinal Del Monte “was a little scoundrel”, and that the Pope “took him [Innocenzo] into his bedroom and into his own bed as if he were his own son or grandson”. Onofrio Panvinio wrote that Julius was “excessively given to intemperance in a life of luxuriousness and to his libido,” and, more explicitly characterized him as “puerorum amoribus implicitus” (‘entangled in love for boys’). One more mocking rumor made the rounds in Rome, saying that Innocenzo had been made a cardinal as a reward for his being the keeper of the pope’s monkey.
Remember that this scandal took place in one of the most tumultuous periods of the Roman Catholic Church. It occurred in the midst of the Wars of Religion that resulted from the Protestant Reformation. As a Cardinal, Julius III, had served as the first president of the Council of Trent, which was the core movement in the Catholic Counter-Reformation.