From this summers hottest history read…. Absolute Monarchs, A History Of The Papacy by Julius Norwich. The author is the British version of our David McCullough.
Briefly….let us start with why.
It is 1517 and Pope Leo X, who is homosexual like his papal predecessor, Pope Julius, has a lover who is a cardinal. Then comes to Leo’s attention an assassination attempt led by cardinals. Worse still one of the cardinals who was involved in the conspiracy is the homosexual lover. Interrogations followed. Many cardinals paid huge fees to the pope to spare their lives, but the homosexual cardinal is to be put to death.
But how, since it was unlawful for a Christian to lay hands on a prince of the church, will the killing take place?
Ah….there is always a remedy.
Hire a Moor and have the prince strangled by a cord made of crimson silk.
Now here is the maddening part….really, we have not yet reached that point in this piece of trivia.
Popular belief in Rome at the time was that no assassination attempt ever existed, and that Leo had fabricated the whole thing for the sake of the fines he was able to extract from the cardinals. In the end 31 new cardinals would pay much to Leo for the honor of a red hat.