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Renaissance and Reformation Papal Rome
by
Frederick McGinness

Introduction

No other city in Europe matches Rome in its traditions, history, legacies, and influence in the Western world. Rome in the Renaissance under the papacy not only acted as guardian and transmitter of these elements stemming from the Roman Empire but also assumed the role as artificer and interpreter of its myths and meanings for the peoples of Europe from the Middle Ages to modern times. At the time the popes left Rome for Avignon in 1308, the population of the once-fabled city of Rome and center of empire had shrunk in population to no more than thirty thousand from one of more than a million and a half at its height; its historic monuments and fabric for the most part lay in ruins. Yet in the view of western Europe, its importance lay in the relics of its Christian martyrs, above all in those of Saints Peter and Paul, the two pillars of the Christian faith. In 1420, when the popes returned to the city to live there permanently, and especially beginning with the pontificate of Nicholas V (1447–1455), Rome began at first a slow but soon accelerating process of urban, cultural, and economic renewal that propelled it even beyond the great cities of Renaissance Italy—Naples, Venice, Milan, and Florence. Under the patronage of the popes, whose wealth and income were exceeded only by their ambitions, the city became a cultural center for master architects, sculptors, musicians, painters, and artisans of every kind. By the early 16th century Rome had become recognized as the new center of culture and artistic achievement; in its splendor it would hold this primacy of place throughout the 17th century, despite some devastating setbacks, especially that of the Sack of Rome in 1527 by troops of the imperial army. In its myth and message, Rome had become the sacred city of the popes, the prime symbol of a triumphant Catholicism, the center of orthodox Christianity, a new Jerusalem. The abundant riches of Rome have led scholars to consider the city not merely under all the above aspects but, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries especially, its complex social history, economic patterns, political conflicts and struggles, and the many contradictions lying beneath the mystique of Rome as the urbs sancta et aeterna.

General Overviews

Few scholars set chronologically specific dates for the Renaissance in Rome, though most studies place it between the pontificates of Nicholas V (1447–1455) and Clement VII (1523–1534), some even more precisely between 1420 and 1527, with others allowing for leeway on either side, though more on the side of the modern era, the late Renaissance. Overviews in English are few, but the best is still Stinger 1998 for its depth and broad cultural reading of Rome, especially in the High Renaissance. Mitchell 1973 offers the newcomer a readable study though more narrowly confined to the first quartile of the 16th century. Pastor 1936–1953, while running to many volumes, far exceeds what might be considered as an overview but is still a crucial resource; rich, detailed, thorough, it runs through all the pontificates of this era. Gregorovius 2000–2004 (originally published 1872) has also weathered the years well for its reliable and detailed history of the city. Important to consider now is the Gouwens 1998 critique of what Kenneth Gouwens argues is the all too sharp distinction made by the scholars of the late 20th and early 21st centuries (except Fiorani and Prosperi 2000), who have been uncritically influenced by humanists living in Rome at the time who imagined the Rome of Leo X’s papacy as a “golden age” when compared with the sorry aftermath defined by the Sack of Rome in 1527.

  • Fiorani, Luigi, and Adriano Prosperi, eds. Roma, la città del papa: Vita civile e religiosa dal giubileo di Bonifacio VIII al giubileo di papa Wojtyla. Storia d’ Italia, Annali 16. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 2000.

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    Vast exploration by many scholars into the multidimensionality of Rome under papal authority; the complex relationship between the city’s politics and religious dimensions, myths of the city, cultural icons, ceremonies, self-definition, businesses and bureaucracies, the papacy, cardinalate, social organization, Jewish life, pilgrimages, confraternities, and more.

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  • Gouwens, Kenneth. Remembering the Renaissance: Humanist Narratives of the Sack of Rome. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998.

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    Thoughtful reevaluation of the Sack of Rome and its impact on the culture of Rome through the eyes of members of the Roman curia (Pietro Alcionio, Pietro Corsi, Jacopo Sadoleto, Pierio Valeriano); contextualizes the event and critiques the model of continuity and discontinuity positing an image of a High Renaissance under Leo X while depreciating the papacy of Clement VII.

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  • Gregorovius, Ferdinand. History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages. 2d rev. ed. Translated by Annie Hamilton. 5 vols. New York: Italica, 2000–2004.

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    Originally published over a hundred years ago (1872), in a distinctive cultural milieu, and from the perspective of a historian fiercely opposed to absolutist papal authority, it is still a standard history, a rich, readable, insightful narrative of the city in its many dimensions to 1527; lacks Richard Krautheimer’s insights into Rome’s significant cultural shifts but covers vast ground and political change.

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  • Mitchell, Bonner. Rome in the High Renaissance: The Age of Leo X. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1973.

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    Readable, balanced, short introduction to Rome in the period 1503–1527; offers “an idea of what it was like to be a resident of Rome”; closes with the sack of the city; satisfactorily depicts the papal court and its culture, artistic programs, religious practices and behavior, politics and intrigue, Rome as a “boomtown,” and various personalities in the Rome of Leo X.

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  • Pastor, Ludwig von. History of the Popes. Translated by F. I. Antrobus. 40 vols. London and St. Louis, MO: Herder, 1936–1953.

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    Completed in the 1920s, von Pastor’s volumes begin with Martin V (1417–1431) emerging as sole pope after the Western (or Great) Schism and its resolution at the Council of Constance and ends with Pius VI (1799); chronicles the vast, rapid changes at Rome under the popes; examines politics and religious and cultural movements. Apologetic but a standard reference for all Renaissance popes.

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  • Stinger, Charles L. The Renaissance in Rome. 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

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    First published 1985. Reliable, substantial introduction to Renaissance Rome; rich, detailed presentation of many aspects of Rome, including its physical and spiritual topography, civic and papal power, issues of papal authority, papal ideology and propaganda, humanist culture and theology, and the mystique of Rome down to the sack in 1527 and beyond. The 1998 paperback edition offers an updated bibliographical survey.

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Reference Works

Scholars of the Renaissance should greatly welcome an encyclopedia dedicated exclusively to the city of Rome and its people, events, art, monuments, and culture in the years between 1300 and 1700. Short of that, however, at least two major reference works (in Italian) provide a wealth of information about Rome in this era. Napoleone 1999 is a good starting point for general entries on nearly every aspect of Rome from its earliest origins to the present. Though largely focused on the popes and their many activities as spiritual leaders of the Western Christian world, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana 2000 is particularly helpful for the Renaissance era at Rome, when so many popes played imposing roles in shaping the city into a modern capital.

  • Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. Enciclopedia dei Papi. 3 vols. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2000.

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    Extensive resource for every pope; includes bibliography, primary source information, and iconographical and other information about the popes and their impact on Rome.

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  • Napoleone, Caterina, ed. Enciclopedia di Roma dalle origini all’anno Duemila. Milan: Franco Maria Ricci, 1999.

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    Massive volume of entries on all aspects of Rome from its earliest years to the 21st century. Arranged alphabetically, covers popes, nobles, artists, and other individuals born or who resided in Rome over this time; entries on events, culture, buildings, streets, monuments; a valuable starting point for searching items of importance related to Rome in any era.

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Databases

Scholars of Renaissance Rome should find Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance of primary importance for research on all aspects of the city and its varied populations; entries for a wide range of works in the major scholarly languages go back to the 18th century and are accessible through a well-designed search engine. For research involving Renaissance Rome over the longer period and especially for topics relating to Antiquity, the International Medieval Bibliography and L’année philologique are extremely useful.

Journals

These scholarly journals are used principally for filling in the interstices not covered by standard reference works and major monographs on the papacy; they are also useful for information on events, personalities, and movements relating to the church in Rome and in Italy during this period. Ricerche per la Storia Religiosa di Roma covers the religious history of Rome and often the papacy or some aspect of the papacy’s involvement in the city during this era. Roma Moderna e Contemporanea, published three times a year, similarly features articles relating to the Renaissance papacy, papal patronage and sponsorship, and religious movements in Rome (see, for example, vol. 3 [1995], covering the Jesuit Collegio Romano from the 16th to the 19th centuries). Roma nel Rinascimento, though wider in focus, presents numerous topics relating to the papacy, Renaissance humanism, and the cultural ambience of Rome. Archivum Historiae Pontificiae focuses specifically on the papacy from its origins to the present, with many articles on the popes and the papacy and its various institutions and activities at Rome in the era of the Renaissance.

  • Archivum Historiae Pontificiae.

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    Published by the faculty of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome since 1963; fundamental to the study of the popes; covers the papacy and many aspects of Rome from Antiquity to the present; the most important periodical available specifically dedicated to the papacy; features numerous articles contributed by many distinguished scholars of Renaissance Rome, the papacy, and the Renaissance in general.

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  • Ricerche per la Storia Religiosa di Roma.

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    Published by the Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura since 1977, it is devoted to religious movements, history, religious orders, piety, convents, places of worship, groups of religious men and women, spirituality, religious festivals, and more. Offers articles that often touch on the popes’ wider relations to Rome and its environs. Only twelve volumes published between 1977 and 2009.

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  • Roma Moderna e Contemporanea.

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    Interdisciplinary journal published by the Centro per lo Studio di Roma since 1993 and dedicated to the study of Rome from the early modern era to the present; presents scholarly articles on topics often involving the popes, the papal bureaucracy, and other religious institutions of Rome.

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  • Roma nel Rinascimento.

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    Now under the direction of Massimo Miglio, this relatively recent (since 1983–1984) scholarly journal appears annually to keep scholars informed on current bibliography and trends in scholarship on Renaissance Rome. Many articles relate directly to the Renaissance papacy.

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Primary Sources

Chronicles and diaries supply significant, often indispensable information on events, persons, and institutions at Rome in the 15th and 16th centuries and have been the basis of many major studies by scholars of this era, notably Gregorovius 2000–2004 (cited in General Overviews) and Pastor 1936–1953 (up to the 1920s; cited in General Overviews). Their importance lies in their value as sources for all aspects of the history of Rome, the Roman curia, and the papal court—the day-to-day life of the city and its many institutions. They serve too as a healthy corrective to the often inaccurate, facile generalizations made about Romans, the Roman curia, and the papal court at this time, providing evidence that life at Rome, contrary to its detractors, was clearly not abandoned to paganism, immorality, luxury, and venality. They show, rather, that both temporal and ecclesiastical affairs for the most part were conducted with seriousness of purpose and that these matters need to be studied in the context of this era and on their own terms. They also underscore that the papacy in its Roman ambience was more than the ideal universal agency dealing with the spiritual affairs of Christians everywhere and with political affairs of the wider world. Arguably the most reliable and informative of the diarists is Gherardi 1904–1911 (originally published 1479–1484); though we are limited by the few years Giacomo Gherardi covers, he provides a thorough account of events in the papacy of Pope Sixtus IV. Conti 1883 also gives a picture of these years though with wider coverage (1475–1510). Infessura 1890, an antipapal writer, covers much the same period yet with wider range still, moving from the time of Martin V to the early years of Alexander VI’s pontificate. Dello Mastro 1910–1912 (1422–1482) and Pontani 1907 (1481–1492) also cover the same years and complement well the works of their contemporaries. Luigi Guicciardini’s eyewitness account in 1527 (Guicciardini 1993) takes us to the major event that scholars for years have used as a terminus ad quem of the Renaissance at Rome. Montaigne 1981 (1580–1581) and Martin 1969 (1581) bring us into the Rome of the Counter-Reformation, which at the time under Pope Gregory XIII was consciously being formed as a symbol of resurgent Catholic strength and religious seriousness. Murray 1972 presents five guidebooks to Rome in the 15th century that give a visitor an appreciation of the physical fabric of Rome in the wonders of the city’s churches, antiquities, and new edifices.

  • Conti, Sigismondo dei. Le storie de’ suoi tempi: Dal 1475 al 1510. 2 vols. Rome: N.p., 1883.

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    Conti was apostolic secretary in the era between Innocent VIII and Julius II and author of a somewhat discursive history of the papacy at the end of the 15th century. Filled with many important details on life at Rome and at the papal court in this era.

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  • dello Mastro, Paolo. Diario e memoriale delle cose accadute in Roma (1422–1482). Edited by F. Isoldi. RIS 24, 2. Città di Castello, Italy: N.p., 1910–1912.

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    Major source for events in Rome in the 15th century by one who lived there at this time; often recalls with great specificity the events he witnessed and those told to him by his father and others.

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  • Gherardi, Giacomo. Il diario romano di Jacopo Gherardi da Volterra dal VII settembre MCCCCLXXIX al XII agosto MCCCCLXXXIV. Edited by Enrico Carusi. Città di Castello, Italy: Tipi della Casa Editrice S. Lapi, 1904–1911.

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    Gherardi was onetime private secretary of Cardinal Iacopo Ammanati, a member of the papal court, later a tutor to Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, and finally bishop of Aquino; the surviving part of his diary (first three books) covers the years from 1479 to 1484; keen observations on the papal court and the Roman curia during the reign of Sixtus IV; among the best diarists of this era.

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  • Guicciardini, Luigi. The Sack of Rome. Translated by James H. McGregor. New York: Italica, 1993.

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    Brother of Francesco Guicciardini, Luigi Guicciardini provides an exclusive eyewitness account of the Sack of Rome, an event of crucial significance often presented as ending the Renaissance in Rome, from May to December 1527; examines the political background and military position of the papacy, leading personalities, and Italy and Rome.

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  • Infessura, Stefano. Diario della città di Roma di Stefano Infessura scribasenato. Edited by Oreste Tommasini. Rome: Forzani e C, Tipografi del Senato, 1890.

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    Important diary for the history of Rome and Italy. Infessura is interesting for his antipapal, republican sympathies. Often given to wild exaggeration, but his view is valuable for events in the city and as a gauge of antipapal political sentiment.

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  • Martin, Gregory. Roma sancta. Edited by George Bruner Parks. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1969.

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    First published 1581. Martin, an English cleric and onetime rector of the English college at Douay, provides a glowing picture of Rome and its many religious activities, churches, devotions—its holiness—during the pontificate of Gregory XIII (1572–1585). Clearly written as an antidote for combating vigorously views of Rome’s moral depravity as disseminated by Protestants.

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  • Montaigne, Michel de. Travel Journal. In The Complete Works of Montaigne: Essays, Travel Journal, Letters. Translated by Donald M. Frame. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1981.

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    Covers Montaigne’s visit to Italy between September 1580 and November 1581 and his stay at Rome between November 1580 and April 1581. Keen observations on the customs and daily life of the city: executions, courtesans, the papal court, Rome’s ancient ruins, religious activities and piety, sermons, liturgical ceremonies at the papal chapel, and the beauty of the city.

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  • Murray, Peter, ed. Five Early Guides to Rome and Florence. Farnborough, UK: Gregg, 1972.

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    A collection of five guidebooks written in Italian or Latin of Rome (and Florence) between 1480 and 1554, focused mostly on the buildings, churches, antiquities, and the marvels of old and new Rome; writers include Francesco Albertini, Andrea Palladio, and one anonymous author. Murray writes a helpful introduction to these works.

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  • Pontani, Gaspare. “Diomede Toni.” In Il diario romano di Gaspare Pontani, già riferito al “Notaio del Nantiporto” (30 gennaio 1481–25 luglio 1492). By Gaspare Pontani. Città di Castello, Italy: Tipi della Casa Editrice S. Lapi, 1907.

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    Another major chronicler of events at Rome in the late Quattrocento; used by scholars to complement the works of Pontani’s contemporaries for the years 1481–1492.

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Rome in Transition

The extraordinary changes that occurred in Rome and its society are best seen in light of the Rome before the popes returned there in the reign of Martin V (1420). Brentano 1990 captures the feel of the city—the physical city, the ideal city, its civil and papal governments—from an era of great papal prestige, through the “family” revolutions of the 13th century, to Boniface VIII (d. 1303). Chiabò, et al. 1992 offers numerous articles focusing on the beginnings of Rome’s revival under Martin V and complementing or adding light where Pastor 1936–1953 (cited in General Overviews) is dark. Partner 1962 covers the broader picture of Rome, seeing it in its wider environmental and political landscapes, and Partner 1976, though sketchy and more impressionistic, looks at Renaissance Rome down to 1559, charting the changes at Rome and the Roman curia from the grand era of Leo X. Dandelet 2001 calls scholars’ attention to the dominant Spanish influences at Rome and at the Roman curia after the failure of the papacy and the Italian states to resist the might of Charles V, Philip II, and other Spanish monarchs. Nussdorfer 1992 complements Dandelet 2001 in many ways but offers a fresh look at the intricate political patterns in the governing of Rome during the pontificate of Urban VIII. Nussdorfer 1992, like Brentano 1990, delves into the perplexing, elusive question of who ruled this extremely complicated urban entity comprised of lay and clerical rulers.

  • Brentano, Robert. Rome before Avignon: A Social History of Thirteenth-Century Rome. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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    First published in 1974. Imaginative, colorful, impressionistic social history of Rome before the popes’ departure from Rome. Vibrant sense of life in the city they left; its universal appeal; and its physical, economic, and social deterioration; its government; and its families (physical and spiritual). The picture invites comparisons with the city in the next centuries.

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  • Chiabò, Maria, Giusi D’Alessandro, Paola Piacentini, and Concetta Ranieri, eds. Alle origini della nuova Roma: Martino V (1417–1431); Atti del convegno, Roma, 2–5 Marzo 1992. Rome: Istituto storico italiano per il Medio Evo, 1992.

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    The pontificate of Oddone Colonna (Martin V) marks the beginning of the papacy’s reinvestment in Rome after the Great Schism. These significant essays focus on the rebuilding of the city under many aspects (learning, humanism, the university, art, the reorganization of the papal curia, nepotism, activities of the religious orders, finance, etc.) that set the stage for the urban revival in the mid-Quattrocento.

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  • Dandelet, Thomas James. Spanish Rome, 1500–1700. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.

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    Explores manifest, though often underappreciated, Spanish influences in Rome, starting with the Borgia popes through the Sack of Rome (1527) and the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559) to its decline, beginning in the pontificate of Urban VIII (1623–1644). Demonstrates the enormous power of the king of Spain in world affairs and in Rome, a virtual Spanish colony after 1559.

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  • Nussdorfer, Laurie. Civic Politics in the Rome of Urban VIII. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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    Careful, detailed analysis of the complex relationship of the pope to the city of Rome and its various administrative organs and social sectors in the first half of the 17th century; explores how civic institutions of the senate and the Roman people administered at the Capitoline supported, complemented, and sometimes clashed with the papacy’s temporal policies and administration.

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  • Partner, Peter. The Lands of St. Peter: The Papal State in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance. London: Methuen, 1962.

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    Careful study of the continuous political, diplomatic, and military history of papal governance in Rome and in the Papal States from the Middle Ages to the mid-Quattrocento; crucial for understanding many long-standing antagonisms between the pope and the baronial families of Rome and the Romagna and the people of Rome; good on sources of papal revenue to enforce papal rule.

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  • Partner, Peter. Renaissance Rome, 1500–1559: A Portrait of a Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.

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    Useful as a sketch of Rome’s vitality, resources, population, and popes and of some significant events at the beginning of the High Renaissance but without scholarly apparatus or substantial bibliography. Still it is a suggestive, if not complete, portrait of the daily work and workers of Rome; stimulating for ideas on further research.

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The Sack of Rome

No event did more to define (if not end) Renaissance Rome than the sack of the city in 1527 during the pontificate of Clement VII by the imperial troops (the emperor was not present) under the command of Charles, duke of Bourbon, who died in the first assault, thereupon leaving no one in command and the city wasted by carnage and pillage. It is this event that many scholars in the past have seen as a unique watershed between the Renaissance and its aftermath, a sharp break between the rich, vibrant, and culturally productive period of the High Renaissance and the beginnings of Catholic reform and the Counter-Reformation. Some recent scholarship, such as Gouwens 1998 and Gouwens and Reiss 2005, questions this abrupt picture of discontinuity as one of historical distortion and overstated contrast. However much this view may be modified, the event itself certainly had major consequences for Rome and its society after 1527. Hook 2004 and Chastel 1983 explore the sack and its political, social, and cultural consequences; these works complement each other well. Important of course is Guicciardini 1993 (cited in Primary Sources), an eyewitness account of the event itself.

  • Chastel, André. The Sack of Rome, 1527. Translated by Beth Archer. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983.

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    An art historian’s account of the devastating plunder of Rome in 1527, which ended the High Renaissance in artistic expression (the “Clementine style”) and humanist interest in Rome, ushering in significant changes in artistic style, church policy, ecclesiastical reform, and urban revival; explores papal artistic programs before and after the sack and in light of the Protestants’ assault on the papacy.

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  • Gouwens, Kenneth. Remembering the Renaissance: Humanist Narratives of the Sack of Rome. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998.

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    Thoughtful reevaluation of the Sack of Rome and its impact on the culture of Rome through the eyes of members of the Roman curia (Pietro Alcionio, Pietro Corsi, Jacopo Sadoleto, Pierio Valeriano); contextualizes the event and critiques the historical model of continuity and discontinuity that posits an end to the Renaissance in the papacy of Clement VII.

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  • Gouwens, Kenneth, and Sheryl E. Reiss, eds. The Pontificate of Clement VII: History, Politics, and Culture. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005.

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    A collection of critical essays by prominent scholars of Rome that challenges the dominant interpretation that the Renaissance at Rome ended with that devastating sack of the city in 1527; the work seeks to moderate the all too facile historical picture of a total discontinuity and argues for a thorough reevaluation of Clement VII’s pontificate.

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  • Hook, Judith. The Sack of Rome. 2d ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

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    First published in 1972. New introduction by Patrick Collinson. With Pastor 1936–1953 (cited in General Overviews), this offers the best examination of the political background and reasons for the Sack of Rome by the imperial troops in May 1527, after the papacy’s alliance with the French and others collapsed, when the city was devastated by leaderless Spanish and German soldiers, some of whom were Lutherans. Hook’s work complements Chastel 1983.

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Society

Scholars of Renaissance Rome universally recognize the uniqueness, diversity, complexity, richness, contradictions, and paradoxes of this urban phenomenon. Rome was much more than its clerical culture but still was tightly intertwined with it. Musto 2003 gives a gripping account of Rome’s political traditions and nature in a study of Cola di Rienzo’s rule at Rome in the era of the popes’ residence at Avignon. Nussdorfer 1987 gives a fascinating look at those moments following the death of Rome’s bishop and temporal ruler and the kinds of political maneuverings and social activities that took place. Important for the “dark side” of Roman society is Cohen and Cohen 1993, which shows with vivid sources the kinds of criminal and heretical activities brought before the city’s magistrates. In the same vivid way Storey 2008 exposes the world of prostitution, which, though ever discouraged, especially in the era of the Counter-Reformation continued and, in the eyes of many churchmen too, was regarded as a kind of necessary evil. Stow 1995–1997, though limited to some twenty years, casts much light on the Jews of Rome, their social and economic world, and relationships with other communities in the city. Shaw 2007 reminds us of the powerful presence of the Roman barons, not least the Orsini family and how wide its forceful influences reached, though it dispels many myths about these baronial families that scholars have perpetuated for not having examined the sources critically.

  • Cohen, Thomas V., and Elizabeth S. Cohen. Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome: Trials before the Papal Magistrates. Toronto and Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1993.

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    Rich, colorful study of the Roman courts, inquisitional practices, and individual lives in their social contexts and entanglements, deviance, crime, magic, and popular culture based upon Inquisition and magistrates’ records. Especially useful for understanding how civic and ecclesiastical authorities worked to control the society of late Renaissance Rome.

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  • Musto, Ronald. Apocalypse in Rome: Cola di Rienzo and the Politics of the New Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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    Fascinating study of Rome and its people in the mid-14th century during the popes’ absence in Avignon; focuses on the people’s struggle led by Cola di Rienzo, “tribune of the people,” against baronial rule; clear exposition of the agenda of the city’s people and the myth of the Roman Republic; examines the apocalyptic expectations surrounding Cola’s government.

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  • Nussdorfer, Laurie. “The Vacant See: Ritual and Protest in Early Modern Rome.” Sixteenth Century Journal 18 (1987): 173–189.

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    Studies the curious moment between the death of one pope and the election of the next, a moment when normal government at Rome ceased, a kind of interim when a shadow rule arose, and the popular freedom of the Romans, long suppressed, asserted itself in sometimes wild rituals, carnival ceremonies, and violent manifestations.

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  • Shaw, Christine. The Political Role of the Orsini Family from Sixtus IV to Clement VII: Barons and Factions in the Papal States. Rome: Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, 2007.

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    Fills a crucial void by delving into the role of the powerful, numerous, well-landed Orsini family and some other baronial families and their political relations with the popes in Rome and the Papal States from 1471 to 1527; deconstructs myths and long-standing scholarly misconceptions about their political role as ever obstructionist, rapacious, and violent.

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  • Storey, Tessa. Carnal Commerce in Counter-Reformation Rome. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    Fills an important gap in the history of sexuality and the social history of Rome; examines the vast extent and nature of prostitution and female sexuality in Rome, when refurbishing the city’s image was crucial for papal credibility and the Roman church; examines the debate on prostitution and disciplining prostitutes and their clientele in the later 16th century.

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  • Stow, Kenneth, ed. The Jews in Rome. 2 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1995–1997.

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    Based on extensive archival material, rich in detail on Jewish social life in Rome from 1536 to 1557; on connections with Christian elements of the city; on events like the restriction of Jews by Paul IV to their “ghetto” in 1555; and on taxation, dowries, marriage, property, work, women’s roles, and immigration of Jews from other countries to Rome.

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Architectural Studies

Many studies of Rome in the era of the Renaissance explore, or at least touch on, its architectural productions. For in-depth studies of the architectural changes at Rome, one might begin with Krautheimer 1980, which examines closely the physical fabric of Rome and its transformations until the popes’ departure for Avignon. Magnuson 2004 complements but extends coverage to the year the popes returned from Avignon in 1420, when they established their residence in the city permanently. Frommel 1986 gives a succinct, well-crafted overview and introduction to the popes’ architectural programs for this period, vastly expanded in Frommel 2003, a study of Rome’s urban environment. Burroughs 1990 presents a full, rich picture of Rome and its environs in the transitional years of Nicholas V’s pontificate (1447–1455). Westfall 1974 centers on Nicholas V and his architect Leon Battista Alberti in taking the first steps for the city’s physical renewal in the Renaissance. Krautheimer 1985 returns to Rome to cover the city in its full splendor at the end of the Late Renaissance and the height of the baroque. Magnuson 1982–1986 covers much of the same ground as Krautheimer 1985 but focuses on the artists resident in the city and their patrons, their contracts, and the art of the city in its social and cultural context. Coffin 1988 highlights the extraordinary attention given to the construction and ambience of the many papal and cardinalitial villas that became emblematic of Renaissance Rome.

  • Burroughs, Charles. From Signs to Design: Environmental Process and Reform in Early Renaissance Rome. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.

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    Using the metaphor of a journey, Burroughs examines in thoughtful, imaginative ways “the vernacular world” of early Renaissance Rome and its hinterland over the seven years of Nicholas V’s pontificate; focuses on topography, society, institutions, the Tiber, urban patterns, buildings, papal patronage, frescoes, architecture, holy spaces, major building projects, and ideology.

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  • Coffin, David R. The Villa in the Life of Renaissance Rome. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.

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    First published in 1979. Central to the economy and social ambience of Renaissance Rome were the lavish villas built for popes, cardinals, and some aristocrat dignitaries as residences and retreats, with their gardens, fountains, statuary, and rooms for hospitality and leisure. Coffin offers both a social and an architectural history of the villa’s role and artistic design.

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  • Frommel, Christoph Luitpold. “Papal Policy: The Planning of Rome during the Renaissance.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 17.1 (1986): 39–65.

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    Important, concise introduction to Roman urbanism; examines the motives, background, and outcomes from its beginnings to the era of the baroque; explores the popes’ active hand in the aggrandizement of the city in the classicizing style for their own grandeur, that of their families, and the desire to eclipse their predecessors in magnificence.

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  • Frommel, Christoph Luitpold. Architettura alla corte papale nel Rinascimento. Milan: Mondadori Electa, 2003.

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    Vast study of the urban environment of Rome with a focus on the many churches and other buildings used by the popes and members of the papal court and on the major architects who brought spectacular changes to the city in the Renaissance, such as Donato Bramante, Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and Baldassare Peruzzi.

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  • Krautheimer, Richard. Rome: Profile of a City, 312–1308. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

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    Classic, illuminating study of Rome by a prominent scholar; traces the physical, architectural, social, political, and economic changes both as an ideal and as reality through the city’s major monuments from the age of Constantine to the popes’ departure for Avignon. Probably still the best introduction to the physical setting of Rome from late Antiquity to the 14th century.

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  • Krautheimer, Richard. Rome of Alexander VII, 1655–1667. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.

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    Arguably the 20th century’s greatest authority on Roman archaeology, the city’s churches, basilicas, and other edifices, Krautheimer examines the extensive building projects under Gian Bernini, Pope Alexander VII’s principal architect, underscoring the massive changes since the early Renaissance, the accommodation of the city to its population, the centrality of papal residences, and Rome as a grand teatro (theater) and world capital.

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  • Magnuson, Torgil. Rome in the Age of Bernini. 2 vols. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1982–1986.

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    Readable and informative, covers the history of the city from the pontificate of Sixtus V (1585–1590) to that of Innocent XI (1676–1689) and the work of Gian Bernini (d. 1680); based on archival sources, thoroughly examines successive popes’ building projects, artists, spirituality; considers the city comprehensively as a complex social and political entity.

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  • Magnuson, Torgil. The Urban Transformation of Medieval Rome, 312–1420. Stockholm: Swedish Institute in Rome, 2004.

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    Informative introduction to the physical changes at Rome from the age of Constantine to Pope Martin V’s return to Rome in 1420, when he found Rome in sore neglect; useful for understanding the city’s physical, vigorous cultural changes and growth after 1420, the cosmopolitan nature of its artists and well-endowed patrons, and the social history in the centuries before the Renaissance.

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  • Westfall, Carroll William. “In This Most Perfect Paradise”: Alberti, Nicholas V, and the Invention of Conscious Urban Planning in Rome, 1447–55. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1974.

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    Important study on Pope Nicholas V’s plans for building, renovating, and reshaping the capitol, the Borgo, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican complex, which, as the author sees it, represented the first initiatives of the popes in urban planning and demonstrates the influence of Leon Battista Alberti’s Della pittura and De re aedificatoria in Nicholas V’s grand conception for refurbishing Rome and projecting papal authority.

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Economy

Very few, if any, cities can compete with the complexity, variety, and uniqueness of the occupations and sources of livelihood of those living and working at Rome in the Renaissance. Rome benefited from the ecclesiastical revenues pouring into the Roman curia from pilgrims; from donors and other benefactors; from the large landholdings of aristocrats and clergy; from the alum mine at Tolfa; from salt taxes, customs fees, and other tariffs, from overland and sea enterprises; from venal offices; and more. But revenues flowing into Rome apparently were spent quickly, if not in anticipation of their arrival, and money was often spent lavishly on myriad building projects throughout the city. Delumeau 1957–1959, Delumeau 1962, and Delumeau 1994 illuminate the economy and administration of Rome and the Papal States, providing a comprehensive picture of the financial system of Rome, its revenue sources, and its stability; of great importance was the alum mine at Tolfa that guaranteed a steady stream of income for the popes and their projects at Rome and in the Papal States. Using customs records, Esch 2007 looks at the variety of imports arriving in Rome. Esch and Frommel 1995 offers essays focusing on the economy of the artistic community and the financing of buildings and other projects. Gensini 1994 complements this with a number of essays on the Roman economy and residents at Rome. Modigliani 1998 explores the food supply, markets, and commercial locations at Rome. Esposito 1999 does much the same though focusing more on the varieties of housing and lodgings at Rome. To the best of their abilities, bankers from Rome and other parts of Italy, especially Florence and Siena, managed capital and debt and administered revenue-generating concerns and investments to keep popes, cardinals, and the Roman aristocracy financially stable and credible lending risks. Bruscoli 2007 offers an illuminating picture of Florentine bankers at Rome, income streams, and the intricate financial apparatus of the Camera Apostolica.

  • Bruscoli, Francesco Guidi. Papal Banking in Renaissance Rome: Benvenuto Olivieri and Paul III, 1534–1549. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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    Thorough examination of the financial world of papal Rome; looks closely at Florentine bankers in Rome, especially the Florentine Olivieri family and its accounts, the Apostolic Camera, loans made to the popes, the papal public debt, papal revenues, treasuries, taxes, the alum mine, the papal mint, and grain imports.

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  • Delumeau, Jean. Vie économique et vie sociale de Rome dans la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle. 2 vols. Paris: E. de Boccard, 1957–1959.

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    Comprehensive examination of Rome in the late Renaissance; highlights the parasitic nature of papal and cardinalitial Rome, its lavish expenditures, its huge deficits, its building projects, and the finances of the Roman curia; discusses sources of papal revenues, money for building projects, and subsidies that created the emblematic city of the Counter-Reformation church; captures Rome’s vitality after the sack of 1527.

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  • Delumeau, Jean. L’alun de Rome, XVe–XIXe siècle. Paris: SEVPEN, 1962.

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    Leading scholar’s economic history of Rome; focuses on the discovery, extraction, and exports from the rich, revenue-producing mine of the Papal States at Tolfa, whose alum was shipped to many parts of Europe for dyeing textiles. The revenues endowed popes with a sizable, independent source of wealth for major buildings and effective governance.

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  • Delumeau, Jean. Rome au XVIe siècle. Paris: Hachette, 1994.

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    First published in 1975. Excellent, though often overlooked by scholars, introduction by a leading scholar of Rome (shorter than his monumental Vie économique et vie sociale de Rome dans la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle [Delumeau 1957–1959]) following the scholarly method of the Annales school of history. Builds a detailed picture of the physical city, its people and visitors, and its resources from the ground up: topography, edifices, production, food supply, social structures and problems, banking, sources of papal revenue, and international connections.

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  • Esch, Arnold. Economia, cultura materiale ed arte nella Roma del Rinascimento: Studi sui registri doganali romani, 1445–1485. Rome: Roma nel Rinascimento, 2007.

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    Using customs books, this study looks at the material world of Rome in the mid-15th century: imports of building materials and other goods, economic life, harbor traffic, Roman customs, links between art and the economy, building projects, and overland and sea trading with northern Europe. Chapter 4 (in English) dwells on the significance of Roman customs registers as historical sources.

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  • Esch, Arnold, and Christoph Luitpold Frommel, eds. Arte, committenza ed economia a Roma e nelle corti del Rinascimento (1420–1530): Atti del Convegno internazionale; Roma, 24–27 ottobre 1990. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1995.

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    Helpful paperback with nineteen articles by important scholars of Renaissance Rome dealing with its architecture, mostly Roman palaces and other buildings and consignments, and their patrons—popes and cardinals. Helpful for understanding the interactions of patrons and artists and architects living and working at Rome in this era.

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  • Esposito, Anna, ed. Taverne, locande e stufe a Roma nel Rinascimento. Rome: Roma nel Rinascimento, 1999.

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    A collection of articles looking at the social and economic life of Rome and its taverns, hospitals, lodgings, hostels—all crucial for the tourists, especially pilgrims, visiting Rome annually. Massimo Miglio provides a thoughtful introduction to the subject, looking back at Rome’s long history of hospitality; other scholars survey the taverns, communal supervision, heating and public baths, and marginal people.

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  • Gensini, Sergio, ed. Roma Capitale (1447–1527). Centro di Studi sulla Civiltà del Tardo Medioevo San Miniato, Collana di Studi e Ricerche 5. Pisa, Italy: Centro Studi sulla Civiltà del Tardo Medioevo, 1994.

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    Twenty-four papers from leading Italian and international scholars focusing on all aspects of Rome in the Renaissance (humanism and images of Rome, foreigners resident at Rome, the Roman curia, the cardinalate, finances and economics, the grain supply, exiles living at Rome, the “dangerous” popolo Romano, aristocrats, family strategies).

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  • Modigliani, Anna. Mercati, botteghe e spazi di commercio a Roma tra medioevo ed età moderna. Rome: Roma nel Rinascimento, 1998.

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    Valuable for the daily life of the Roman people and those who kept them fed, housed, and supplied with varieties of goods; looks at occupations, markets, and locations of commercial activities in Rome on the eve of the Renaissance; important for understanding the Tiber’s role and the location of the Campidoglio and the Vatican on human settlement, urban life, and commerce.

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Art and Sculpture

The amount of scholarly research and monographs on Rome in the Renaissance is vast, and many outstanding works appear annually in European languages. The best approach to the art, sculpture, music, and theater is to examine the most recent works on these subjects, as many review earlier works and, in many cases, critique them. These newer works generally provide the reader with the standard bibliography to consult for further investigations. Burke and Bury 2008 provides the most recent scholarly effort to level the sharp period distinctions hitherto used by art historians and to identify and emphasize the fundamental continuities from generation to generation. In somewhat the same way, Christian 2010 follows with a thoughtful analysis of collections of Antiquity at Rome and the complex processes and changes in attitudes from seeing ancient sculpture and monuments as spoglia to the conscious enterprise of collecting of antiquities. Partridge 1996 provides a thoughtful overview and insightful comments on the artistic changes between 1400 and 1600. Hall 2005 offers six well-wrought scholarly essays taking the reader through the cultural and artistic legacies of Renaissance Rome to the Counter-Reformation. Franklin 2009 brings forth numerous essays shedding light on many facets of the artistic revival at Rome in this era; these essays complement Hall 2005 and expand on Partridge 1996. More specifically, Firpo 2009 examines closely the thematic changes in the art of the popes from the Sack of Rome (1527) to the Battle of Lepanto (1571). Courtright 2003 examines in deep detail the artistic creation of the Tower of the Winds at the Vatican Palace commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII. Ostrow 1996 is a close study of the funeral chapels of Sixtus V (1585–1590) and Paul V (1605–1621).

  • Burke, Jill, and Michael Bury. Art and Identity in Early Modern Rome. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008.

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    Twelve interpretive articles by distinguished art historians examine continuities among artists and their milieus in the early modern era (1450–1650); reacting against fragmented artistic periods (Renaissance, Counter-Reformation, baroque), they examine also the personal and social background of major artists in Rome and their patrons among cardinalitial and papal families.

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  • Christian, Kathleen. Empire without End: Antiquities Collections in Renaissance Rome, c. 1350–1527. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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    Fresh study of collections and the collecting of antiquities at Rome by prominent individuals from the mid-14th century to 1527. Examines Rome’s antiquities, used early on as building materials, and efforts to revive them after the popes’ return to the city and the radical changes in attitudes to Rome’s ancient remains by the end of the 16th century.

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  • Courtright, Nicola. The Papacy and the Art of Reform in Sixteenth-Century Rome: Gregory XIII’s Tower of the Winds in the Vatican. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    Focuses on the significant building and artistic program, universal mission, and theological vision of Pope Gregory XIII (1572–1585) and his construction of the Tower of the Winds in the Vatican Palace to celebrate the reform of the calendar; investigates the deep symbolism and claims of political and spiritual authority embedded in this creation with its interior Flemish landscapes.

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  • Firpo, Massimo, and Fabrizio Biferali. “Navicula Petri”: L’arte dei papi nel cinquecento, 1527–1571. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 2009.

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    Inventive and resourceful scholarship on the significant historical changes in the papacy from Clement VII to Pius V (i.e., the Sack of Rome in 1527 to the Battle of Lepanto in 1571); careful examination of the corresponding changes in art sponsored by the popes from the High Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation; important for the theological, social, and political ambience of these 16th-century popes.

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  • Franklin, David, ed. From Raphael to Carracci: The Art of Papal Rome. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.

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    Abundant, comprehensive examination of major and lesser artworks and artistic patronage from the early 16th to the early 17th centuries, with substantial essays by major art historians of the period (David Franklin, Sebastian Schütze, Carlo Gasparri, Ingrid D. Rowland) who address the significance and centrality of Rome from the High Renaissance through mannerism and early baroque.

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  • Hall, Marcia B., ed. Artistic Centers of the Italian Renaissance: Rome. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    Valuable introduction to Renaissance Rome, its art history from the 14th to the 16th centuries; articles by leading scholars (Ingrid Rowland, Marcia B. Hall, Meredith Gill, Claire Robertson, Steven Ostrow) on papal patronage and on the many non-Roman artists who fashioned Rome as a world capital by the late 16th century. Focuses on major works by grand masters (e.g., Donato Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo).

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  • Ostrow, Steven. Art and Spirituality in Counter-Reformation Rome: The Sistine and Pauline Chapels at S. Maria Maggiore. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

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    Though focusing on two funeral chapels in Santa Maria Maggiore, one of Rome’s four basilicas, this study concisely captures the embodiment of post-Tridentine papal ideology and spirituality in their monuments and fresco cycles and the exaltation of the pontificates of the two popes buried there.

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  • Partridge, Loren W. The Art of Renaissance Rome, 1400–1600. New York: Abrams, 1996.

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    Useful introduction to the major artistic works centering on the years from the mid-15th to the mid-16th century; clear review of urban planning, papal projects, churches, basilicas, palaces, altarpieces, chapels, frescoes, villas, and more; clear exposition of the theological conceptions and propagandistic purposes of these imposing projects.

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Schooling and the University of Rome

Of particular value for gauging the levels of literacy, culture, and intellectual traditions of Rome is the system of schooling in the Renaissance: its organization, teachers and pupils, curricula, texts, and pedagogical methods. Grendler 1989 probes with great attention the schooling at Rome for girls and boys; Grendler 2002 advances our understanding with a study of the Roman university and its role in the clerical and civic community of Rome. Though over two hundred years old, Renazzi 1803–1806 is still the most thorough examination of the university at Rome and its changes from its founding in 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII. Cherubini 1992 complements Renazzi 1803–1806 and Grendler 2002 with wide-ranging essays covering a multitude of topics relating to the University of Rome, then called the Studium Urbis (later La Sapienza). Gurreri and Nussdorfer 1995 offers articles on the Jesuit Roman College that had a major impact on education at Rome, in Europe, and beyond. Davis 2006 offers a unique look at humanist culture and Muslim and Christian schooling and their many intersections at Rome in the pontificates from Leo X to Clement VII. See also the separate article on Schooling

  • Cherubini, Paolo, ed. Roma e lo Studium Urbis: Spazio urbano e cultura dal Quattro al Seicento; Atti del convegno, 7–10 giugno 1989. Rome: Ministero per i beni culturali e ambienti, Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato, 1992.

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    Collection of twenty-four conference papers on the University of Rome (La Sapienza) from the 15th to the 17th centuries dealing with various aspects of the institution (curriculum, administration, instructors, architectural transformations, books, library, students, political context) and its role in the life of the city and the Roman curia. Complements and expands Renazzi 1803–1806.

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  • Davis, Natalie Zemon. Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim between Worlds. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.

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    Thought-provoking, multidisciplinary, cross-cultural portrait of a Muslim diplomat known to us as Leo Africanus. Born in Granada in 1492 but subsequently expelled, he grew up in Fez, traveled on diplomatic missions, was captured, was baptized by Leo X, and spent nine years at the papal court in the company of scholarly figures like Egidio da Viterbo, Paride di Grassi, and Bernardino López de Carvajal.

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  • Grendler, Paul F. Schooling in Renaissance Italy: Literacy and Learning, 1300–1600. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

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    Studies the nature, content, and progress of learning in Italy in the Renaissance. Essential for understanding the educational foundations and methods and the texts and subjects studied by the many individuals who went on to be educators, political leaders, and clergy throughout Europe and Italy and especially at Rome. Important for understanding Renaissance humanism and its wide influence in Italy at this time.

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  • Grendler, Paul F. The Universities of the Italian Renaissance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

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    Studies the many universities of Italy (Bologna, Padua, Naples, Siena, Rome, Perugia, etc.) and other houses of study from which emerged the many individuals who lived and worked in Renaissance Rome; examines their teaching and research; especially useful for understanding humanist studies at this time as well as for philosophy, medicine, theology, metaphysics, scripture, moral philosophy, mathematics, and law.

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  • Gurreri, Fabrizia, and Laurie Nussdorfer, eds. Special Issue: Il Collegio Romano (secc. XVI–XIX). Roma Moderna e Contemporanea 3.3 (1995).

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    Volume of articles by scholars (Tullio De Mauro, Mario Fois, Frederick McGinness, Paula Findlen, etc.) examining the Jesuit College at Rome (Collegio Romano) that was envisioned and begun by Saint Ignatius Loyola as a model institution of higher learning for Jesuits and preti riformati. Dedicated formally in 1583, with La Sapienza it became a major institution of higher learning at Rome.

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  • Renazzi, Filippo Maria. Storia dell’ università di Roma: Detta comunemente La Sapienza che contiene anche un saggio storico della letteratura romana dal principio del secolo XIII sino al declinare del secolo XVIII / dell’avv. 4 vols. Rome: Pagliarini, 1803–1806.

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    Still important for its wealth of detail on the University of Rome (La Sapienza) from its founding by Boniface VIII through the 18th century. Includes the rolls of professors, disciplines, the courses taught, significant changes in the university’s staffing and curricula, and discusses papal subsidies and support for higher education in Rome.

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Humanist Culture and Scholarship

The culture and scholarship of Renaissance Rome are dealt with in many of the other sections in this bibliography. Scholarship on the culture of Renaissance Rome has focused considerably on what was different about humanism at Rome. How did it differ from that, for example, of Renaissance Florence or Venice? Scholars argue that Roman humanism was distinctive in its nature because so much of its activity was tied into the interests and pursuits of its patrons, above all the popes, and in securing employment and benefits from cardinals and other functionaries at the Roman curia. Its interests also tended toward exploring Rome’s past; its sacred and imperial legacies; its literature, texts, monuments, institutions, intellectual accomplishments; and its antiquarian traditions. Grafton 1993 is an excellent introduction to the culture of Roman humanism in this era. This is complemented well by many articles in Colonna 2004 and Danesi Squarzina 1989. Some useful articles on this culture are also in Ramsey 1982 and Miglio 1986. For the more advanced, Rowland 1998 and O’Malley 1981 offer close looks at specific influential individuals and cultural ideals in the early to mid-16th century. Zimmerman 1995 presents the historian Paolo Giovio, another insider and close observer of this world. Reeves 1992 opens a window on the prevalence of prophecy, one major and at times overwhelming concern of many humanist-trained clerics of the High Renaissance in Rome. See also the separate article on Humanism.

  • Colonna, Stefano, ed. Roma nella svolta tra Quattro e Cinquecento: Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi. Rome: De Luca, 2004.

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    A vast collection of articles on Rome from the pontificate of Sixtus IV to Clement VII by prominent scholars of Renaissance Rome; deals with all aspects of Rome, such as its poets, artists, humanists, courtiers, printers, prophecy, antiquarianism, literature, the history of Rome and the papacy, the papal court, villas, and obelisks and other prominent physical features of the city.

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  • Danesi Squarzina, Silvia, ed. Roma, Centro ideale della cultura dell’Antico nei secoli XV e XVI: Da Martino V al Sacco di Roma, 1417–1527. Milan: Electa, 1989.

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    Thirty-nine valuable essays (three in English) by leading scholars of Renaissance Rome centering on art, culture, archaeology, architecture, antiquarianism, classical texts, artists and their programs, scientific culture, and many sites of Rome; explores the Renaissance’s sense and use of the past in the Roman context.

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  • Grafton, Anthony, ed. Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture. Washington, DC: Library of Congress with Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1993.

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    Contains numerous articles by prominent scholars on the cultural and intellectual world of the papal court, of which the pope in the High Renaissance was preeminent among the patrons of Italy in areas of humanist studies, music, archaeology, the collection of antiquities, mathematics, medicine, the Eastern churches, and Western scholarship.

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  • Miglio, Massimo, ed. Un pontificato e una città: Sisto IV (1471–1484): Atti del convegno (Roma 3–7 dicembre 1984). Studi Storici 154–162. Vatican City: Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica, e Archivistica, 1986.

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    Articles on aspects of Rome during the papacy of Sixtus IV: material culture, religious orders, scholarship, the Vatican Library, music at the papal court, Jews, violence, funeral monuments, the University of Rome, printing, the Augustinian library of Santa Maria del Popolo and the Dominican library of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and Sixtus IV’s court and Rome.

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  • O’Malley, John W. Rome in the Renaissance: Studies in Culture and Religion. London: Variorum, 1981.

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    Valuable collection of articles, mostly on the humanist and theological culture at Rome in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, by one of the foremost authorities on Rome in the Renaissance; particularly useful for humanism, theology, and spirituality at the papal courts of Julius II and Leo X on the eve of the Protestant Reformation.

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  • Ramsey, P. A., ed. Rome in the Renaissance: The City and the Myth; Papers of the Thirteenth Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies. Binghamton, NY: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1982.

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    Useful for its numerous essays on city planning, topography, employment and the workforce, building projects, edifices, humanism, music, rituals and festivals, the idea of Rome, antiquities, and the food supply at Rome by foremost scholars on Renaissance Rome; covers Rome from the early Renaissance into the 17th century.

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  • Reeves, Marjorie, ed. Prophetic Rome in the High Renaissance. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.

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    Nineteen illuminating essays on the ambience of Renaissance Rome by major scholars, covering prophecy, apocalypticism, papal chapels and their prophetic iconography, ideas of the angelic pope, and individual personalities like Girolamo Savonarola, Pietro Galatino, Giles of Viterbo, Marcellus II, all involved in eschatological thinking at a time of great trepidation in the face of the Ottoman advances in the East.

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  • Rowland, Ingrid D. The Culture of the High Renaissance: Ancients and Moderns in Sixteenth-Century Rome. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    In-depth study of the culture of the High Renaissance in Rome focusing on three main characters (Agostino Chigi, Angelo Colocci, Tommaso Inghirami) whose influence and behind-the-scenes activities in the pontificate of Leo X have been little known or understood; contributes much to our understanding and explodes many myths of Rome, humanism, antiquarianism, and other scholarly pursuits before the Reformation.

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  • Zimmerman, T. C. Price. Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of the Sixteenth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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    In-depth study of a versatile, resourceful, opportunistic eyewitness to major events of his time, mostly in Italy, humanist, clergyman, historian, and voluminous writer who spent years at the papal court in the High Renaissance and made personal acquaintances with all who seemed to him important.

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Music, Theater, Court, Ritual, and Spectacle

Though a great deal of attention is given to ritual and spectacle in many of the works cited here on Rome in the Renaissance, perhaps no works have focused such keen attention on spectacles at Rome as Fagiolo 1997 and Fagiolo Dell’Arco and Carandini 1977–1978, which are replete with pictures, tables, bibliographies, and pertinent analytical information on the feasts and events celebrated. Cruciani 1983 offers rich perspectives and primary sources covering many kinds of spectacles, feasts (feste), and ceremonies (teatro) at Rome from the pontificate of Nicholas V to Paul III (d. 1549). Visceglia 2002 probes many ritual and ceremonial events of Rome, analyzing their meaning for the city’s culture and society. Fagiolo 1997, though picking up only at the end of this era, also includes stunning plates on the artwork produced at Rome to record these festivals, all of which should remind us of how dazzling, popular, and appealing such events were and of their integral role in civic and ceremonial life. Signorotto and Visceglia 2002 and Signorotto and Visceglia 1998 include some thoughtful essays illuminating the pageantry and rituals of Rome. Wisch 1990 focuses on the celebration of this aspect of Rome in a detailed study of the processions for the Holy Year of 1575. Sherr 1998 offers illuminating essays on music, composers, and singers at the papal court. Hammond 1994 studies music at Rome and the papal court in the first half of the 17th century. See also the articles Civic Ritual and Music.

  • Cruciani, Fabrizio. Teatro nel Rinascimento, Roma 1450–1550. Rome: Bulzoni, 1983.

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    A work often overlooked but valuable. Theater (teatro) is taken in a broad sense to include all manner of ceremonies and pageantry at Rome in the pontificates running from Nicholas V to Paul III (papal ceremonies, triumphal entries, the papal possesso of the Lateran, etc.). Provides introductions to a rich collection of primary sources, mostly letters, reporting on these events.

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  • Fagiolo, Marcello, ed. La festa a Roma dal Rinascimento al 1870. 2 vols. Turin, Italy: Umberto Allemandi, 1997.

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    Collection of useful articles by leading scholars on Rome for an exhibition on the varieties, locations, social functions, civic participation, and importance of public and religious festivals in Rome. Focuses on “ephemeral” events—plays, religious devotions, celebrations—and artists that occasioned temporary settings and art for the people at significant junctures in the rhythm of the city’s communal life.

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  • Fagiolo Dell’Arco, Maurizio, and Silvia Carandini, eds. L’effimero barocco: Strutture della festa nella Roma del 1600. 2 vols. Rome: Bulzoni, 1977–1978.

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    Focuses on roughly 150 major celebrations at Rome in the 17th century, including carnivals, the papal possesso of the Lateran, Forty Hours devotions, canonizations, processions, funeral ceremonies, tournaments, fireworks. For these events many magnificent “ephemeral” apparatuses were constructed, such as catafalques, display platforms, and triumphal arches. Also interprets the significance of these creations and their rhetorical and propaganda value.

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  • Hammond, Frederick. Music and Spectacle in Baroque Rome: Barberini Patronage under Urban VIII. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.

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    Significant, detailed, and informative study of music and major musicians in the first half of the 17th century, especially in the reign of Urban VIII (1623–1644). Surveys the role and importance of and enthusiasm for music and papal sponsorship of music in many venues, from the papal chapel to the churches of Rome.

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  • Sherr, Richard, ed. Papal Music and Musicians in Late Medieval and Renaissance Rome. Oxford: Clarendon, 1998.

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    Offers twenty-one articles, based on archival sources, by leading scholars (some published earlier) presenting a wide array of aspects on the organization of the papal choir and its staffing, musicians, manuscripts, musical traditions, personnel problems, and more. Provides a unique look at a significant but often unappreciated component of the papal court’s religious ambience.

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  • Signorotto, Gianvittorio, and Maria Antonietta Visceglia. La corte di Roma tra Cinque e Seicento: “Teatro” della politica europea. Rome: Bulzoni, 1998.

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    Includes all articles in the English version (Signorotto and Visceglia 2002), as well as others covering factions of cardinals, patronage and justice, political economy, cardinals from Savoy, the jurisdiction controversy over Milan, and aspects of the papacy’s involvement in international conflicts.

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  • Signorotto, Gianvittorio, and Maria Antonietta Visceglia, eds. Court and Politics in Papal Rome, 1492–1700. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    Informative articles on Rome, the papal court, papal diplomacy and policy, cardinals, ritual, the avvisi (news broadsheets), and culture from the Renaissance to the baroque. Unfortunately it lacks ten important articles printed in the Italian version (Signorotto and Visceglia 1998).

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  • Visceglia, Maria Antonietta. La città rituale: Roma e le sue cerimonie in età moderna. Rome: Viella, 2002.

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    Essays on political and religious rituals in papal Rome from the 16th to the 18th centuries; helpful for understanding the ideas and circumstances that gave rise to these rites and ceremonies. Findings are similar to those of Richard Trexler and Edward Muir about the value of rites and rituals for social harmony and functionality.

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  • Wisch, Barbara. “The Roman Church Triumphant: Pilgrimage, Penance, and Processions Celebrating the Holy Year of 1575.” In “All the world’s a stage . . .”: Art and Pageantry in the Renaissance and Baroque. Vol. 1, Triumphal Celebrations and the Rituals of Statecraft. Edited by Barbara Wisch and Susan Scott Munshower, 82–117. Papers in Art History from the Pennsylvania State University 6. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990.

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    Study of the role of confraternities and their spiritualities in papal Rome and their participation in ritual events of the Holy Year commemorated by Pope Gregory XIII (1575), when the city became a showcase proclaiming Rome as the center of the true and universal church of all Christians that had triumphed over the forces of heresy.

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The Mystique of Rome

One important aspect of Rome addressed by many authors is the ideal image, or mystique, of the city. Many scholars (e.g., O’Malley 1981, cited in Humanist Culture and Scholarship) touch on this facet of Rome in one way or another—the notion that, more than merely a physical city in space and time, Rome was an eternal verity, an immortal idea for all ages as the divinely elected civitas sancta et sacra. Throughout the Renaissance, much of Rome’s importance lay in its emblematic significance, for better or worse, for all peoples of western Europe. The idea of Rome was in fact continually contested intellectual ground from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance: many critics saw the social world of papal Rome as a sink of all evils, but for most the city’s eternal significances transcended whatever sinfulness one might encounter there. Davis 1957 lays this out well in the context of Dante’s writings; see also Grafton 1993 (cited in Humanist Culture and Scholarship) and Christian 2010 (cited in Art and Sculpture), whose introductory words on Rome’s prerogative as Roma sacra and “inextinguishable privilege” capture succinctly Rome’s cultural and spiritual preeminence. Ditchfield 2000 examines the clerics whose writings in the late 16th and the 17th centuries repositioned Rome prominently as a sacred city. Labrot 1987 demonstrates the propaganda power of holy, sacred, divinely elected Rome in the popes’ battle to reclaim Europe for Catholicism. McGinness 1995 demonstrates the power of preaching at the papal court and elsewhere in shaping the message of the true, triumphal church, whose divinely chosen center is Rome.

  • Davis, Charles Till. Dante and the Idea of Rome. Oxford: Clarendon, 1957.

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    A classic for students and scholars alike on the enormous historical and literary legacy of Rome and its rich, often multivalent, often changing spiritual meanings. Rome’s providential election as the seat of empire and of Peter’s successors generated an abundance of mystical meanings for Dante, his contemporaries, and many writers in their wake.

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  • Ditchfield, Simon. “Leggere e vedere Roma come icona culturale (1500–1800).” In Roma, la città del papa: Vita civile e religiosa dal giubileo di Bonifacio VIII al giubileo di papa Wojtyla. Edited by Luigi Fiorani and Adriano Prosperi, 31–72. Storia d’Italia, Annali 16. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 2000.

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    Brief, thoughtful, and illuminating essay on perceptions. Singles out Cesare Baronio, Antonio Gallonio, Antonio Bosio, and Tommaso Bozio, whose many and various writings on early Christian Roman saints and heroic martyrs, on the Virgin Mary, and on sacred sites created a mystique of Rome as hallowed ground, a sacred cultural icon for Christians everywhere in the post-Tridentine era.

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  • Labrot, Gérard. L’image de Rome: Une arme pour la Contre-Réforme, 1534–1677. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1987.

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    Important study on the transformation of the image of Rome from the Reformation era to the baroque for establishing the credibility of the papacy and the church of Rome in the face of massive propaganda attacks against them; demonstrates how the papacy rebuilt the image of Rome as a sacred city, the center of Christianity and the true church.

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  • McGinness, Frederick J. Right-Thinking and Sacred Oratory in Counter-Reformation Rome. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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    Examines preaching at the papal court in the post-Tridentine era. Registers changes in the theological and spiritual climate of the papal court from 1563 to 1621. Examines the impact of rhetoric for the Counter-Reformation, the reassertion of papal authority, Rome’s preeminence, and the Roman church’s universality.

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LAST MODIFIED: 08/26/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195399301-0053

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