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Matthæus Schinner

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Bishop, cardinal, and statesman, b. at Muhlbach in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland, about 1470; d. of the plague at Rome, l October, 1522. He was the son of the lord of Martigny; his uncle Nicholas, later Bishop of Sion (Sitter), gave him his early instruction. He embraced the ecclesiastical career, and eventually became parish priest of Aernen (1496), and canon and dean of the cathedral of Sion. When his uncle resigned, he was made Bishop of Sion (20 September, 1499). Schinner's great diplomatic skill and his influence over the other Swiss cantons allied with Valais made him the right hand of Popes Julius II and Leo X in their efforts to unite Italy and expel the French. In 1511, as a result of an alliance brought about by Schinner, the Swiss made two unsuccessful campaigns against Milan. As a reward for securing this alliance, he was made Bishop of Novara and also cardinal in 1511. In 1512, as papal legate for Italy and Germany, he was appointed commander of a Swiss and Venetian army, drove the French from Milan, and established Maximilian Sforza as duke. However, as Louis XII again captured Milan after the death of Julius II, Schinner one more took the field at the head of the Swiss Confederates, and defeated the French in the battle of Novara (1513). The Duke of Milan rewarded Schinner with the margraviate of Vigevano.

When under Francis I the French recrossed the Alps, Schinner led the Swiss troops, part of which had retired, at the unfortunate battle of Marignano (1515). In 1516 he raised another army with the aid of England, but was unable to regain Milan. He now sought to attain his end by an alliance between the pope, the emperor, England, and Spain, for which purpose he went himself in 1516 to London, but the reconciliation of the Swiss Confederation and the emperor with France made the alliance abortive. During his long-absence from home the French party there, under his bitter enemy George Supersax, raised a rebellion and drove him from Sion. He lived for several years at Zurich (1517-19), and thenceforth mostly at the court of the emperor. He supported the election of Charles V as emperor in 1519, for which he was made Bishop of Catania in Sicily (Nov., 1520). In 1521 he led an army of Swiss Confederates in the imperial campaign against Francis I for the possession of Milan. But for his passionate hatred of France, he would have been elected the successor of Leo X ; however, Adrian VI called him to Rome as administrator of the States of the Church. He died without having seen his diocese again. His large and widely scattered correspondence is the only literary work he left. The date of his birth has been disputed, as the statements concerning it differ nearly twenty years. The year is unknown, and all direct indications are lacking. We know, however, that he attended the school of Lupulus at Bern, which was not opened until 1493. As Schinner was a priest in 1492, the year of his birth could not be later than 1470.

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