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Renaissance and Reformation Papacy
by
Frederick McGinness

Introduction

A study of the papacy or the Holy See (the episcopal office of the bishop of Rome) between the years 1350 and 1650 must take into account the long history of the papacy, which extends back to the early centuries of the Common Era and continues to the present day. In this long stretch were laid, often haphazardly, the foundations of papal authority, the claims of the popes as spiritual leaders of the Western church, and the development of the complex administrative machinery centered on Rome to govern the institutional church. A study of the papacy must look as well at the continuous involvement of popes in the major religious, political, economic, and cultural movements in Europe and the East. In these centuries papal government, assertions of authority and influence extended into virtually every aspect of European life and thought. Scholars generally place the beginnings of the Renaissance papacy at Rome around 1421, when Odo Colonna, Pope Martin V, returned to his native city after the papal residence at Avignon (1309–1378), the resolution of the Western Schism, the dampening of the conciliarist crisis after the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438–1445), and the reassertion of papal sovereignty and political power over the city of Rome and the Papal States. With the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks (1453) and the “loss” of the Eastern church, the papacy in the later 15th century assumed greater prominence as a princely power and as spiritual leader of Christians at a time of increasing peril to Christian Europe, and by this time most of the elements of the papacy as we know it today were set. The Renaissance at Rome is seen as waning after Martin Luther’s challenge to papal authority, the Reformation in northern Europe, and the devastating sack of Rome (1527) at the hands of the army of the Holy Roman emperor. Only after the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and a series of zealous, reform-minded popes did the papacy appear to regain prestige and authority. By the 17th century the papacy’s spiritual and temporal authority and eminence were again acknowledged throughout the Catholic lands of Europe, and the institution played a major hand in the contest of empires throughout the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) and in the New World. At the war’s close, however, with the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659), the pope’s role as a major player in the politics of Europe was largely exhausted.

General Overviews

General histories of the papacy and of popes continue to be popular, with works on the subject appearing almost yearly. Useful is Schimmelpfennig 1992, which goes into the complex historical origins of the papacy as an institution. Collins 2009 provides a comprehensive survey of the institution from its beginnings to the present, examining those significant historical moments and events that defined the pope as spiritual head of the Western church and provided justification for claims of supremacy over all Christendom. Most important for the Renaissance papacy is still the forty-volume work Pastor 1923–1969, which, though apologetic and dated and not covering the early history of the papacy, remains the standard reference and point of departure for every student of the papacy from the late Middle Ages to the close of the 18th century. Newer essays, like Hudon 2001 and those in Alazard and La Brasca 2007, make clear the directions of modern scholarship on the papacy and its strides since Pastor 1923–1969. Specific works, like Hay 1979 and Mollat 1965, focus on crucial, formative eras of the Italian church and the papacy, as does Setton 1976–1984 with the Eastern churches and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. Wright 2000 reevaluates positively the papacy’s achievements beyond the late Renaissance.

  • Alazard, Florence, and Frank B. La Brasca, eds. La papauté à la Renaissance. Paris: Champion, 2007.

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    Useful reexamination of much scholarship on the Renaissance papacy—cultural, political, institutional, and spiritual—in consideration of the totality of activities in which popes were involved: governance, patronage of the arts and sciences, ecclesiastical reform, liturgy and music, the fabric of Rome, and papal building projects. Important for the status qusestionis (status of the question) on many aspects of papal scholarship.

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  • Collins, Roger. Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: A History of the Papacy. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

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    Arguably the best book to date for a short history of the papacy from Peter to Benedict XVI. Based on the latest, best, and copious scholarly research, it captures succinctly the individuality of important pontificates and their self-projection at the time. Pertinent to the student of the Renaissance papacy are chapters 13–17.

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  • Hay, Denys. The Church in Italy in the Fifteenth Century. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

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    A brief introduction to the church in Italy from the Western Schism to the end of the 15th century. Lays out the diocesan and parochial arrangements of the Italian states, their religious communities, and their relationship to Rome; assesses the church’s ministries, care of souls, and the calls for reform. Excellent for placing the Roman church in its Italian context.

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  • Hudon, William F. “The Papacy in the Age of Reform, 1513–1644.” In Early Modern Catholicism: Essays in Honour of John W. O’Malley, S.J. Edited by Kathleen M. Comerford and Hilmar M. Pabel, 46–66. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.

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    Informative, critical, synthetic, brief overview of the latest scholarship on the papacy in the early modern era. Addresses shifts in historiography, continuing problems with writing on the history of the papacy, new avenues of research, historians’ greater appreciation of the complex historical realities behind the papacy of this era.

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  • Mollat, Guillaume. The Popes at Avignon, 1305–1378. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.

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    Though dated, still the authoritative work on the popes’ residence at Avignon down to the Western schism. Reviews the seven Avignonese popes, their pastoral and external activities, relations with temporal powers, and maneuverings in face of mounting international criticism for not being in Rome and the curial bureaucracy’s avarice. Valuable study of the papal Curia and its officials.

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  • Pastor, Ludwig von. History of the Popes: From the Close of the Middle Ages. 40 vols. Edited by F. I. Antrobus, Ralph Francis Kerr, and Ernest Graf. St. Louis, MO: Herder, 1923–1969.

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    Published first in sixteen volumes, 1886–1933. Begins with Martin V (1417–1431), the sole pope after the Western Schism and its resolution at the Council of Constance (1414–1418); ends with Pius VI (d. 1799). Chronicles changes in the institutions of papal governance, political involvement, religious and cultural movements, and more. Standard reference for all popes in the Renaissance and beyond.

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  • Schimmelpfennig, Bernard. The Papacy. Translated by James Sievert. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

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    Examines the bishop of Rome and church structure from early Rome to the Reformation; argues that the preeminence of the Roman bishop in the early church was nonexistent. In theological and jurisdictional disputes the papacy made claims on the basis of ties to Peter and Paul, the idea of an apostolic succession, the martyrs at Rome, and certain forgeries.

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  • Setton, Kenneth M. The Papacy and the Levant, 1204–1571. 4 vols. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1976–1984.

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    Exhaustive study of papal and to a large extent Venetian politics and diplomacy in the eastern Mediterranean and in parts of western Europe. Chronicles the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the West’s failure to mount opposition, the papacy’s concern to check Turkish advances in the Balkans, the capture of Constantinople (1453), and Ottoman successes until the Battle of Lepanto (1571).

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  • Wright, A. D. The Early Modern Papacy: From the Council of Trent to the French Revolution, 1564–1789. Harlow, UK: Longmans, 2000.

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    For the more advanced student. Wright offers a fresh interpretation of the early modern papacy, one generally seen by scholars as stagnant or in decline and tied to oppressive institutions like the Inquisition and claims of papal absolutism. The author argues that scholars have been too influenced by Ludwig von Pastor’s and others’ views (e.g., Paolo Prodi) of the institution and need to look beyond to what they did in fact accomplish.

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Reference Works

For quick, important information and the essential bibliography on every pope to the present, Kelly 2010 is the best guide. For detailed information, Ludwig von Pastor’s History of the Popes (Pastor 1923–1969, cited in General Overviews), even though older, remains the most useful and comprehensive presentation for all popes from the close of the Middle Ages to the end of the 17th century. A Catholic historian, Pastor (b. 1854–d. 1928) covers all religious, political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of each papacy, often providing pertinent original texts from the Vatican and other archives. Though a number of excellent individual works on individual popes have since surpassed Pastor’s treatment of each pope, research on the popes should include the relevant volumes of Pastor and acknowledge this source. More up-to-date is the general history and reference information in Beck and Hubert 1980. Standard reference works for historical topics, ideas, and specific items can be found in the still useful Herbermann, et al. 1912, Dictionnaire de spiritualité (Viller, et al. 1932–1995), Enciclopedia cattolica (Paschini, et al. 1949–1954), and Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Kasper, et al. 1993–2001). Some good entries can be found in The New Catholic Encyclopedia (Catholic University of America 2003), but it lacks the detail and depth of the others. Much information on the papacy and its often arcane customs, ceremonies, prerogatives, dress, and other topics can be found in special publications like Levillain 2002. When these fail, one can often find the obscure items in Moroni 1840–1861.

  • Beck, Hans-Georg, and Jedin Hubert. From the High Middle Ages to the Eve of the Reformation. 2 vols. History of the Church 4. New York: Seabury, 1980.

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    These two volumes (part of a ten-volume set on the history of the church from its beginnings to the modern era) offer a comprehensive, detailed survey of the church from the late Middle Ages to the Counter-Reformation, with rich bibliographical information relevant to every era and major event engaging the papacy. Clearly written, fully documented, well-organized subject matter. See also Volume 5 in this series, Reformation and Counter Reformation.

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  • Catholic University of America. The New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2d ed. 15 vols. Detroit: Thomson Gale with Catholic University of America, 2003.

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    Updated since 1967. General comprehensive resource on the Roman Catholic and other Christian churches; does not match the French Dictionnaire de spiritualité (Viller, et al. 1932–1995) and the German Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Kasper, et al. 1993–2001). Helpful for arcane ecclesiastical items and essential bibliography at the end of each article; weak on the papacy and Curia Romana.

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  • Herbermann, Charles G., et al., eds. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton, 1912.

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    Especially useful for historical information and lengthy entries on a wide number of topics pertinent to the Renaissance papacy (and for the history of the church in general). Lacks up-to-date scholarly bibliography but provides important references to papal documents; entries are accurate and intelligible.

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  • Kasper, Walter, Konrad Baumgartner, and Michael Buchberger, eds. Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche. Rev. ed. 11 vols. Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: Herder, 1993–2001.

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    Recently updated with abundant discussion on all aspects of the Catholic Church. Thorough coverage of theological controversies, doctrines, and the institutional offices and functions of the Roman Catholic Church, replete with pertinent bibliography.

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  • Kelly, J. N. D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. 2d ed. Revised by Michael J. Walsh. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    Updated since its first appearance in 1986, much improved. Informative, accurate, concise chronological profile of every pope and antipope from Peter to Benedict XVI; a handy reference work on each pontificate.

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  • Levillain, Philippe, ed. The Papacy: An Encyclopedia. 3 vols. New York and London: Routledge, 2002.

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    Many excellent, up-to-date articles on the papacy and its history but criticized for unevenness in the quality of its entries. Best consulted for entries by well-known scholars on specific topics.

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  • Moroni, Gaetano. Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica da S. Pietro sino ai nostri giorni. 103 vols. Venice: Tipografia Emiliana, 1840–1861.

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    Not readily available in scholarly libraries in North America but an indispensable resource for its wealth of information on arcane and often extinct ecclesiastical uses, protocols, ceremonies, dignities. Moroni often fills in when every other resource is silent; helpful for the papacy.

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  • Paschini, Pio, Celestino Testore, and Pietro Frutaz, eds. Enciclopedia cattolica. 12 vols. Vatican City: Ente per l’ Enciclopedia cattolica e per il libro cattolico, 1949–1954.

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    Published in the mid-20th century, its comprehensive entries still serve as excellent resources for virtually every aspect of Roman Catholicism, from the papacy and its government to arcane offices and ecclesiastical practices. In general more helpful for Catholicism and the papacy’s past than are the German or English equivalents.

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  • Viller, Marcel, Charles Baumgartner, and André Rayez, eds. Dictionnaire de spiritualité: Ascétique et mystique, doctrine et histoire. 17 vols. Paris: Beauchesne, 1932–1995.

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    Standard reference work on theological topics; dedicates even more space to theological ideas and their development than its English and German equivalents. Extensive articles cover all aspects of ascetic, mystical, and dogmatic theology; provides full bibliography for each entry; later volumes more up-to-date than early ones.

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Popes, Councils, and Clergy

Eubel and Van Gulik 1952– is the best source for the names of nearly all clergy for the Middle Ages and later, along with their ecclesiastical assignments. The best source for official statements (pronouncements, edicts, bulls, etc.) is Magnum bullarium Romanum. Other bullaria can be found but lack the completeness of this one. All conciliar decrees can be found now in Tanner 1990, which provides extensive footnotes and references to the source collections.

  • Eubel, Conrad, and G. Van Gulik, et al. Hierarchia Catholica medii et recentioris aevi sive Summorum pontificum, S.R.E. cardinalium, ecclesiarum antistitum series. E documentis tabularii praesertim Vaticani collecta, digesta, edita. 6 vols. Padua, Italy: Typis Librariae “Il Messaggero di S. Antonio” apud Basilicam S. Antonii, 1952–.

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    Indispensible resource (in Latin) for the names of the papal, cardinalitial, and episcopal officeholders and the dates of tenure for the entire Catholic hierarchy from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and down to the modern era. Though there are some gaps in the early Middle Ages, the Catholic hierarchy of the Renaissance era to the present is virtually complete. Volumes 1–4 reprinted 1960.

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  • Magnum bullarium Romanum: Bullarum, privilegiorum ac diplomatum Romanorum Pontificum amplissima collection. 18 vols. Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1964–1966.

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    Reprint of the original collection published in 1733–1762. Vast collection (in Latin) of papal bulls, which were edicts or pronouncements of various kinds written on vellum; from this piece strips of vellum descended; these were bound with warm lead pendents (bullae) into which the papal seal was impressed to prevent tampering. Contains nearly all bulls and key papal documents from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.

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  • Tanner, Norman P., ed. Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils. 2 vols. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990.

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    Contains all decrees of the ecumenical councils beginning with the Council of Nicea (325) and ending with Vatican II (1962–1965). All documents appear in English translation with Latin versions (and Greek or other pertinent languages, e.g., Armenian or Arabic, when used by the council) and are accompanied by copious footnotes and bibliography relating to the church councils through the ages.

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The Vatican Archives

Although documents related to the papacy are scattered throughout libraries and archives in virtually every country, the Archivio Segreto Vaticano is the central repository of documents relating to all activities and aspects of the popes’ interactions with the church, society, governments, and individuals as well as of the papal household and the Roman Curia. The Vatican Archives are formidable to the uninitiated, but two excellent guides to these resources, Boyle 1972 and Blouin 2003, should enable the novice to grasp quickly the architecture of the archival holdings. Bibliography and background information on the archive and its extensive holdings can be found in Blouin 2003 but are best in Battelli 1962–2008. Also of particular importance to scholars of the papacy is the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana Online Catalogue.

  • Battelli, Giulio, ed. Bibliografia dell’ Archivio Vaticano. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1962–2008.

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    Over the centuries numerous scholarly monographs have appeared on the Vatican Archives; many give provenance reports and complete inventory lists, provide information about missing documents, and clarify the historical background of various holdings. When consulting specific holdings, it is often crucial to understand this background. Francis X. Blouin’s (Blouin 2003) work contains much of this bibliography; Battelli’s work is more extensive, a scholar’s indispensible resource.

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  • Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana Online Catalogue.

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    Users may consult the library’s vast and often rare holdings in Latin, English, and other modern European languages. The Vatican Library is the principal repository of all books on the papacy in all areas of its activities. Books are not loaned but must be read in situ. However, not all recent scholarly literature on the papacy is there.

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    • Blouin, Francis X., Jr., ed. Vatican Archives: An Inventory and Guide to Historical Documents of the Holy See; Supplement 1. Ann Arbor: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, 2003.

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      Blouin expands Leonard E. Boyle’s study (Boyle 1972). Essential for navigating the Vatican Archives and its documents. Conceptual framework mirrors the organizational structure of the Holy See; lists every organ of papal temporal and spiritual administration; provides abundant information for the archival holdings and bibliography on most bureaucratic offices; contains a CD-ROM with all book information. Likely to be updated as needed.

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    • Boyle, Leonard E. A Survey of the Vatican Archives and Its Medieval Holdings. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1972.

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      Boyle’s work extends well beyond the Middle Ages. Lays out the structure of the Vatican Archives and the variety of documents generated by the papal bureaucracy for governing Rome and Christendom. Archival documents include the records of the datary and the secretariat of state and of papal consistories and of congregations instituted by Sixtus V in 1588.

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    Journals

    The scholarly journals in this section 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, Volume 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, the papacy, and its various institutions in the era of the Renaissance.

    Individual Renaissance Popes

    Compared with the number of popes reigning between 1350 and 1650, very few scholarly book-length biographies of popes reigning in these years have been written, despite the towering significance of so many of these heads of state and the Western church as agents of historical change. The starting point for primary sources and biographical information on individual popes is still Pastor 1923–1969 (cited in General Overviews) and probably will long remain so, but some more recent biographies of popes, such as Lee 1978, Gamrath 2007, Hudon 1992, Lemaitre 1994, and Shaw 1993, go well beyond Pastor 1923–1969 and other derivative works in their use of new documentation, broader perspectives, interdisciplinary approaches, and interpretative significance. Ady 1913, the study of Pius II during the conciliar movement and in the face of the Ottoman advance, signaled a break from Ludwig von Pastor’s apologetic approach, as did Mallet 1969 on the Borgias. Partridge and Starn 1980 offers fresh stimulation for reflecting on popes by looking at significant works of art in their deep historical contexts. Gouwens and Reiss 2005 signals fresh appraisals of other papacies with an edition of essays reevaluating the pontificate of Clement VII. (See also the articles Leo X and Julius II)

    • Ady, Cecilia M. Pius II (Æneas Silvius Piccolomini), the Humanist Pope. London: Methuen, 1913.

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      Readable scholarly biography of this humanist Renaissance pope based on this pope’s vast memoirs. A thoughtful, if somewhat overly sympathetic, portrait of Pius II (1458–1464), opening a window on the wide world of Europe in the early and mid-15th century, on humanism, and on the political and cultural movements of the age in which Pius played so prominent a role.

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    • Gamrath, Helge. Farnese: Pomp, Power, and Politics in Renaissance Italy. Rome: “L’Erma” di Bretschneider, 2007.

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      Studies the powerful Farnese family, which produced Pope Paul III (1534–1549), his nephew Cardinal Alexander Farnese, and numerous actors of the 16th century in the transformation of the papacy from the era of the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation. Examines the family’s history, role in international politics and in the Papal States, culture of nepotism, and projection of prestige and magnificence.

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

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      In-depth articles reevaluating this pope, his pontificate, the culture of Rome and the papal court, and the devastating sack of Rome in 1527. Reappraisal of the long-held view about the relative insignificance of this papacy as an interlude between the pontificates of Julius II and Leo X, on the one hand, and that of Paul III (1534–1549), on the other.

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    • Hudon, William V. Marcello Cervini and Ecclesiastical Government in Tridentine Italy. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1992.

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      Detailed study of a major actor and leader in the Roman Curia, elected Pope Marcellus II in 1555. Captures the spiritual temper of mid-16th-century Rome and papal strategies for reform and reasserting control over Catholic minds; valuable for its attention to the individual motivations and spiritual leanings of Cervini and those of his many colleagues at Rome.

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    • Lee, Egmont. Sixtus IV and Men of Letters. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1978.

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      Careful, detailed study of the Franciscan humanist and theologian whose pontificate contrasted with his earlier background. Captures well Sixtus’s ambition to amplify the authority and prominence of the church and the papal office, his building projects at Rome, the Sistine Chapel and papal library for the papal family, the widespread practice of papal nepotism, and his attention to creating efficient government.

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    • Lemaitre, Nicole. Saint Pie V. Paris: Fayard, 1994.

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      Departs from earlier hagiographical accounts of Michele Ghislieri. Examines his pontificate (1566–1572), often seen as a turning point in the papacy’s struggle to regain spiritual prestige, reverse the Reformation, reform the Roman Curia and the city of Rome, suppress simony, and restore moral order to the Roman bureaucracy. Credits this pope for his single-mindedness in the spiritual renewal of Catholicism.

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    • Mallett, Michael. The Borgias: The Rise and Fall of a Renaissance Dynasty. London: Bodley Head, 1969.

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      Most maligned of Renaissance papal families, the Borgias continue to elude an in-depth examination of the family history and its papal officeholders (Calixtus III and Alexander VI). Helpful but with shortcomings in its interpretation and uncritical acceptance of the hostile picture of the family from contemporary sources and the picture of the Borgias created by Alexander VI’s successor, Julius II.

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    • Partridge, Loren W., and Randolph Starn. A Renaissance Likeness: Art and Culture in Raphael’s Julius II. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

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      Cultural study of Julius II, papa terribile, that uses Raphael’s portrait of this pope as the center of concentric considerations of his complex, manifold personality and his relentless activities and ambitions. Studies in a minute way the rich symbolism, images, self-projection, patronage, religious culture, building projects, military ventures, and major events defining his tumultuous papacy.

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    • Shaw, Christine. Julius II: The Warrior Pope. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

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      Vivid scholarly interpretation of Giuliano della Rovere, papal nephew of Sixtus IV (1471–1484), and his rise to the chair of Peter amid power politics and war in Italy. Studies this titanic, restless individual, a warrior who used political might and brute force to strengthen the papacy and the church by consolidating his hold over the Papal States.

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    Canon Law

    Canon law is the corpus of ecclesiastical laws regulating the lives of the clergy and laity of the church; it is based on divine law (de iure divino) and partly on human law, the former relating primarily to faith and morals, the latter to ecclesiastical discipline. Its sources are scripture, conciliar decrees, papal decrees, synodal canons, and writings of the Church Fathers. Canon law covers virtually every aspect of Roman Catholic life: family, social relations, sexuality, marriage and divorce, the sacraments, worship, tithes, clerical qualifications and duties, religious orders, congregations, ecclesiastical discipline, excommunication, interdicts, and more. In every era of church history canon law has played a prominent role; it is fundamental to the institution of the papacy and its tribunals. Though bishops in their own dioceses had competence in most canonical matters, the Roman Curia handled cases that extended beyond bishops’ authority or that were appealed or passed on to Rome for a final decision. The Roman Curia presided over three major ecclesiastical tribunals: the Apostolic Penitentiary (Poenitentiaria Apostolica), the Roman Rota (Rota Romana), and the Apostolic Signature (Signatura Apostolica), which was divided into two branches, the Signature of Grace and the Signature of Justice. The Apostolic Penitentiary dealt with individuals in private cases of conscience and personal spiritual well-being (dispensations, commutations, annulments, grants of absolution, indulgences, etc.) and at times also exercised powers over external matters concerning the good of the church. The Roman Rota handled all appeals to Rome (because the pope was final judge in matters of canon law, as he was in all matters of faith and morals). The Apostolic Signature was staffed by official reporters (referendarii apostolici), many of whom had degrees in both canon and civil law (utriusque iuris) and worked in both chambers (utriusque signaturae); this latter court reviewed decisions and procedures of the Roman Rota. All three tribunals exercised vast power in the Renaissance from the Avignon papacy to the post-Tridentine era. The field of canon law is vast and often arcane but crucial for understanding papal motivations and interventions in virtually all major political events of the early modern era. For the inexperienced, it is best approached through general introductions, like Brundage 1995 and Van de Wiel 1991. Specific questions can often be dealt with by consulting encyclopedias like Dictionnaire de droit canonique. Ourliac and Gilles 1971 and Feine 1972 offer comprehensive histories of canon law for this period.

    • Brundage, James A. Medieval Canon Law. London and New York: Longman, 1995.

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      This work does not move beyond the Middle Ages but lays a clear understanding of the work of the canonists and the rule of canon law down to the Western Schism. Offers a clear, comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of canon law and the conflicts that arose between the church’s law and the laws of the European states; looks at canon law’s regulation of Christian life in general.

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    • Dictionnaire de droit canonique, contenant tous les termes du droit canonique, avec un sommaire de l’histoire et des institutions et de l’état actuel de la discipline. 7 vols. Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1935–1965.

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      Essential for canonical terminology and definitions of the institutions of the Roman church; examines canon law and specific canons in their historical contexts and development.

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    • Feine, Hans Erich. Kirchliche Rechtsgeschichte: Die katholisiche Kirche. 5th ed. Cologne: Bohlau, 1972.

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      A fully developed, highly detailed history of canon law by one of the world’s foremost authorities; replete with bibliography for primary and secondary sources touching on all aspects of the theory and practice of canon law.

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    • Ourliac, Paul, and Henri Gilles. “La période post-classique” (1378–1500). Vol. 13 of Histoire du droit et des institutions de l’église en Occident., Edited by Gabriel Le Bras and Jean Gaudemet. Paris: Cujas, 1971.

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      The standard reference work for the history of canon law in the Roman church from its origins to the Renaissance.

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    • Van de Wiel, Constant. History of Canon Law. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 1991.

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      A concise, lucid presentation of canon law in English, with pertinent bibliography focusing on its history from the early church to 1983. Examines canon law’s basic concepts and surveys the documentary sources, legal questions, cases, and interpretations in historical context and in relationship to the papacy. Particularly valuable as an introduction to canon law.

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    Papal Authority

    The bishop of Rome’s claims of authority have been controversial for centuries. Schatz 1996 reviews the complicated history of the bishops of Rome who, starting in late Antiquity, gradually claimed, however vaguely at first, a preeminence or primacy of teaching and jurisdiction among all other bishops in the Christian world by virtue of Rome’s being the see of Peter, “prince of the apostles,” the city’s first bishop, and the place of his martyrdom and burial (67 CE). Consequently, the popes have understood themselves as his successors; with that they assumed the titles of patriarch of the West and supreme pastor of the universal church. Until the Reformation, the pope’s preeminence among bishops was generally accepted by Christians of western Europe but not by churches of the East, which regarded the bishop of Rome as one of five patriarchs of Christendom (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem), first in dignity though not jurisdictional authority. The question, however, has been what powers this primacy holds. As McCready 1973 and Wilks 1964 show, since the Middle Ages popes have also claimed the title of “vicar of Christ” (vicarius Christi) and have insisted on possessing “the fullness of power” (plenitudo potestatis) or universal jurisdiction over all prelates and churches of the world, meaning a divinely given right (de iure divino) to teach authoritatively on faith and morals and to appoint and to depose bishops and an indirect power to remove secular rulers in extreme cases of faith and morals. Bigane 1981 examines the scriptural passages (Matthew 16, Luke 22, John 21) used to support Peter’s unique authority from Christ and suggests that by the late 15th century few theologians outside of Rome and the pope’s immediate circle would have defended such exaggerated conceptions of the pope’s spiritual and temporal roles. Though long questioned by nonpapalist theologians, these claims were acutely challenged by Martin Luther and other reformers, who with training in humanistic studies and scripture readily saw their weaknesses. It would take decades after the Reformation for popes to regain credibility in asserting claims of leadership and power; crucial to this was the prerogative claimed by the popes as exclusive interpreters of the decrees of the Council of Trent. Important too is Prodi 1987, showing how by 1600 the temporal powers of Europe, including the papacy, were redefining sovereignty, authority, and absolutism within the framework of the modern state.

    • Bigane, John, III. Faith, Christ, or Peter: Matthew 16:18 in Sixteenth Century Roman Catholic Exegesis. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1981.

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      Studies how the interpretation of the central Petrine passages of scripture used by papal theologians to assert the unique authority granted to Peter by Christ as prince of the apostles varied greatly among other major contemporary theologians at the time of the Protestant Reformation.

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    • McCready, William D. “Papal Plenitudo Potestatis and the Source of Temporal Authority in Late Medieval Papal Hierocratic Theory.” Speculum 48 (1973): 654–674.

      DOI: 10.2307/2856222Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Complex but helpful for understanding sweeping claims of papal power on the eve of the Renaissance, which would allow a virtually unrestricted involvement of popes in all affairs of life, even to the point of deposing rulers. McCready takes issue with Michael Wilks, qualifying his understanding of absolute papal sovereignty; shows other, more nuanced views of papal authority.

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    • Prodi, Paolo. The Papal Prince, One Body and Two Souls: The Papal Monarchy in Early Modern Europe. Translated by Susan Haskins. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

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      Prodi sees the idea of sovereignty as growing out of the writings of the papal monarchists who struggled against those champions of secular monarchs who based their theories on Roman law rather than on canon law. Popes came to be seen as embodying both temporal and spiritual roles in a single absolute monarch.

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    • Schatz, Klaus. Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.

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      The only scholarly work that traces the history of the claims and theology of papal primacy of teaching and jurisdiction from its origins to the present. Written by a German Catholic theologian, it provides a clear path through the essential documents of the papacy and its complex historical turns as well as pertinent bibliography (mostly in German) on this topic.

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    • Wilks, Michael. The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle Ages: The Papal Monarchy with Augustinus Triumphus and the Publicists. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1964.

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      Analyzes the political theory and the idea of sovereignty at the dawn of the Renaissance; sees the idea of sovereignty as growing out of the writings of the papal monarchists who struggled against those champions of secular monarchs who based their theories on Roman law rather than on canon law. Good for political theories grounding claims of spiritual and temporal authority.

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    Popes and Councils of the Church

    With the decline of the popes’ projection of authority after Bonifice VIII (1294–1303), the breakdown of imperial government, and the rise of representative government in many towns in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, along with a growing belief in councils for dealing with problems affecting the common good of Christians, the monocratic position popes once enjoyed in the 12th and early 13th centuries came under relentless attack. Black 1979 and Black 1998 show the workings of this process in undermining papal authority. Compounding the problem of the Renaissance papacy was the long period of the Western Schism (1378–1417), which saw at one time three claimants to the see of Peter. Gill 1982, Stieber 1978, and Jedin 1957–1961 show too how representative assemblies came to be seen by many as the means to resolve problems of ecclesiastical governance; conciliarists saw the power of the council as extending beyond the authority of the pope not merely in times of crisis but in theory and general practice. Landi 1997, Tierney 1998, Tierney 1988, and Oakley 2003 go deeply into the unresolved challenges of conciliarism for the popes of the 15th century and for subsequent popes down to the First Vatican Council (1870). (See also the article General Church Councils, 1409-1517

    • Black, Antony J. Council and Commune: The Conciliar Movement and the Fifteenth-Century Heritage. London and Shepherdstown, WV: Patmos, 1979.

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      Examines the origins of conciliarist thinking and the challenge to the popes that came to full expression at the Council of Basel-Lausanne (1431–1449). Examines the broader, more radical origins of the conciliar movement in the rise of communes and in treatises on communal authority that viewed communes as microcosms of the church and its government.

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    • Black, Antony J. “Popes and Councils.” In The New Cambridge Medieval History. Vol. 7. Edited by Christopher Allmand, 65–86. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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      Concise introduction to the conciliar movement; summary of much of his earlier work on conciliar theory and society (1970, 1979). Treats popes and councils down to the early 16th century (not including Lateran V), reform, conciliar theory, papal schisms, reunion with the Eastern churches, the church as represented by councils, the authority of councils vis-à-vis the pope, and more.

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    • Gill, Joseph. The Council of Florence. Rev. ed. New York: AMS, 1982.

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      First published 1959. Looks into the seventh ecumenical council of the church held in Ferrara, Florence, and Rome (1438–1445) on the eve of the final Ottoman assault on Constantinople, when strenuous efforts were made to effect a reunion of the Eastern and Western churches. Gill examines reasons for the council’s efforts at reunion and the council’s aftermath.

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    • Jedin, Hubert. A History of the Council of Trent. 2 vols. Translated by Ernest Graf. London: Nelson, 1957–1961.

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      Jedin gives a detailed history of the papacy’s struggles in the early 15th century with calls for reform. Tracks the papacy’s rise, despite the survival of conciliarism, into the Reformation and the mid-16th century. Detailed account of the Council of Trent (1545–1563). Also gives a rich picture of Renaissance cardinals and the papacy.

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    • Landi, Aldo. Concilio e papato nel Rinascimento (1449–1516): Un problema irrisolto. Turin, Italy: Claudiana, 1997.

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      Good for analyzing conciliarist thinking after the Council of Basel-Lausanne (1431–1449), which emerges at the Council of Pisa-Milan-Asti-Lyons in 1511–1512, bringing popes like Julius II to feel the challenges to their rule by advocates of conciliarism, especially when an individual took the step of appealing to a council over the head of the pope (as would Martin Luther after 1517).

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    • Oakley, Francis. The Conciliarist Tradition: Constitutionalism in the Catholic Church, 1300–1870. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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      Clear exposition of the early origins and development of conciliarist thinking; incorporates recent scholarship, going well beyond Renaissance thinkers to the First Vatican Council in examining the fundamental question of who in the church holds the ultimate authority to make binding decisions in matters of faith, morals, and ecclesiastical discipline. Valuable discussion about conciliarist thinking after Trent.

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    • Stieber, Joachim W. Pope Eugenius IV, the Council of Basel, and the Secular and Ecclesiastical Authorities in the Empire: The Conflict over Supreme Authority and Power in the Church. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1978.

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      Studies the councils of Constance (1414–1418) and Basel (1431–1449), constitutional thought, and negotiations to resolve the crisis when Eugenius IV dissolved the council but it continued to meet without him, renewing Constance’s decrees and advancing an antipapal agenda. Looks at Eugenius’s emergence from the crisis, the beginnings of the Renaissance papacy, and dissatisfaction with reform efforts before the Reformation.

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    • Tierney, Brian. Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150–1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty, and Tradition in the Middle Ages. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1988.

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      First published 1972. Examines the complex, often misunderstood theory of papal infallibility, which was defined only in 1871 (and quite contrary to medieval conceptions), first asserted not by popes but by councils to keep popes from abrogating decrees of previous popes that they felt were restrictive.

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    • Tierney, Brian. Foundations of the Conciliar Theory: The Contribution of the Medieval Canonists from Gratian to the Great Schism. Rev. ed. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1998.

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      Updates his 1955 book to include forty-five years of scholarship. Looks into the earliest origins of conciliarist thinking in the medieval canonists and early decretalists down to the 14th and 15th centuries; analyzes ideas of the papal monarchy and its claims to supreme power in the church, inerrancy in matters of faith, and the limits on such claims.

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    Papal Family, Court, and Chapel

    Popes, likes princes elsewhere, established their own private “families.” These were made up of clerics closely connected to the pope. With this family the pope also possessed a “household” consisting mostly of nonclerical servants who carried out quotidian domestic functions. Popes occupied (and sometimes constructed) residences both inside and outside of Rome with dining halls, libraries, gardens, stables, reception rooms, chambers for relaxation and treasure, and other amenities. The papal family was peopled by clerics (sometimes laymen) who served as secretaries, chamberlains, masters of the sacred palace (the pope’s personal theologian), notaries, servants, librarians, and so on, and each function had its prerogatives, emoluments, and hierarchical ranking. The papal family was distinct from the Roman Curia (corte romana), though it overlapped considerably, since it was in the pope’s interest to have trusted “family” members oversee the organs of government executing his policies. Most cardinals entrusted with offices of the Roman Curia (chancery, datary, tribunals, camera apostolica) belonged to the papal family; in the 16th century these and other intimate cardinals of the pope’s personal entourage often held the special status of palatine cardinals (cardinales palatini, cardinals of the papal palace) and were known in general to have the best access to the pope. Besides his residence, the pope also maintained his own chapel (capella pontificia) for worship that featured singing and preaching. No specific studies as such focus exclusively on the papal family or papal court, but much information is available in numerous studies on the papacy. Bignami Odier and Ruysschaert 1973 reconstructs the papal library begun by O’Malley 1979, while D’Amico 1983 and McGinness 1995 examine the cultural world of the papal court and its changing values and views throughout this era. Tavuzzi 1997 looks at the key position of master of the sacred palace at the time of Martin Luther’s revolt from Rome, and Reinhard 1975 looks at another crucial player, the cardinal nephew, in his evolution from key adviser to major officeholder (e.g., secretary of state) in the papal court and the Roman Curia. Paravicini Bagliani 2000 provides an intimate inspection of the mundane and extraordinary ceremonies and practices that attended on the physical body of the pope. The essays in Signorotto and Visceglia 2002 cover numerous aspects of the inner workings of the papal court and its relations with cardinals and Rome. Sherr 1998 offers essays on music, composers, and singers at the papal court.

    • Bignami Odier, Jeanne, and José Ruysschaert. La bibliothèque Vaticane de Sixte IV à Pie XI: Recherches sur l’histoire des collections de manuscrits. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1973.

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      Pope Nicholas V (1447–1455) founded the papal library, but it was established officially in 1475 by Sixtus IV and placed under the direction of Bartolomeo Platina. It contained manuscripts of scripture, classical and patristic authors, and various texts from all over the world; its manuscript collection became a center of study and authoritative texts for incunabular printed editions.

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    • D’Amico, John F. Renaissance Humanism in Papal Rome: Humanists and Churchmen on the Eve of the Reformation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.

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      Examines how humanism in Renaissance Rome differed greatly from Florentine humanism under the patronage of popes, whose particular concerns shifted humanists’ pursuits away from the intellectual ferment of Florence to pursue papal ambitions of courtly elegance and literary refinement and a glorification of Rome’s imperial past and continuation in the Roman papacy as well as their own livelihood.

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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, the impact of the Counter-Reformation, the reassertion of papal authority, and the assertion of Rome’s preeminence and that of the Roman church among the nations of the world.

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    • O’Malley, John W. Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome: Rhetoric, Doctrine, and Reform in the Sacred Orators of the Papal Court, c. 1450–1521. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1979.

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      Opens a new window on the world of the papal chapel and its liturgies, where preaching on designated feasts played an important part. Emphasizes the importance of reverent and fitting worship and the attention the papal court gave to eloquence and theology in preaching; charts the shift in humanistic theology and rhetorical practices from the 15th to the 16th centuries.

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    • Paravicini Bagliani, Agostino. The Pope’s Body. Translated by David S. Peterson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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      Explores the medieval idea formulated by Ernst H. Kantorowicz of the pope having both a personal, physical body and an institutional, mystical one comprised of the church and its visible and institutional manifestations. Rich in source material; captures succinctly and vividly papal rituals, the deaths of popes, the intimate nature of popes’ lives, and their personal care for themselves.

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    • Reinhard, Wolfgang. “Nepotismus: Der Funktionswandel einer päpstgeschichtlichen Konstanten.” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 86 (1975): 145–185.

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      The practice of creating cardinal nephews had been crucial for the control of policy and temporal affairs, but the office of cardinal nephew became institutionalized in the 16th century, when members of the pope’s own family (nephews, grandnephews, sometimes grandsons; e.g., Cardinal Alexander Farnese) were given formal positions, such as vice chancellor, superintendent of the ecclesiastical state, or secretary of state.

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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, some published earlier, based on archival sources 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 one major, often much unappreciated, component of the papal court.

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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.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511496929Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Essays based on primary source material covering crucial topics pertinent to the papacy’s institutional aspects and vitality: the power of cardinals vis-à-vis the popes, the ritual of the pope’s possesso (possession) of the Lateran, court politics, tensions in the College of Cardinals, the papal secretariat of state, and cardinal protectors of the kingdoms of Europe.

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    • Tavuzzi, Michael. Prierias: The Life and Works of Silvestro Mazzolini da Prierio, 1456–1527. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.

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      Looks into the occupations and preoccupations of the papal master of the sacred palace and Roman inquisitor, Silvestro Mazzolini da Prierio, at the time of Martin Luther’s protest against Rome. Helps explain the inadequate response of the pope’s principal theologian to Luther’s challenge.

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    The Cardinalate or Sacred College of Cardinals

    Klewitz 1936, Kuttner 1945, and Alberigo 1969 provide informative historical surveys of the cardinalate. Since the year 1059 cardinals have elected the bishop of Rome, but the Sacred College of Cardinals was not formed as an administrative organ of the papacy until 1150; nine years later it was given the exclusive right to elect the bishop of Rome. Regardless of his years of service as cardinal, the bishop of Ostia held the position of dean (head) of the college ex officio, and with him a chamberlain (camerlengo) was appointed; both officials held their positions for life unless they were elected pope. The dignity of a cardinal does not depend upon clerical status; laymen can be chosen as cardinals. From the 11th century, when the popes opened up the cardinalate to non-Romans, cardinals took on important roles in every aspect of ecclesiastical administration, especially as advisers to the pope, who gathered them regularly in consistory (consistorium). They served as prefects of church councils and of the offices of the papal bureaucracy, legates and heads of diplomatic missions, theological advisers, military commanders, private secretaries to the popes, and secretaries of state. Broderick 1987 provides detailed information and demographics on the composition of the cardinalate from Urban II (1088–1099). Baumgartner 2003 takes readers into the secret world of the papal conclave, the instrument for electing the pope, with its many twists and political intrigues. Ullmann 1956 investigates one of the thorniest problems that dogged every newly elected pope, the capitulation sworn to before his election: to what extent was this binding?

    • Alberigo, Giuseppe. Cardinalato e collegialità: Studi sull’ ecclesiologia tra l’XI e il XIV secolo. Florence: Vallecchi, 1969.

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      Traces the development of theology behind the rise of the College of Cardinals, starting with the Gregorian reform of the 11th century. Examines the idea of a divine right of the cardinals as an apostolic college for governing the church with the bishop of Rome; traces the theological claims, such as that the cardinals were the successors of the apostles.

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    • Baumgartner, Frederic J. Behind Locked Doors: A History of the Papal Elections. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

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      Useful for the evolution of the process of electing popes, the longest continuing method of choosing the head of any institution, whether secular or religious. Clear, concise exposition of terms; highlights significant changes to the institution, especially after the creation of the conclave in 1274. Helpful for understanding the intricacies, practical problems, and political maneuverings of the papal election process.

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    • Broderick, John F. “The Sacred College of Cardinals: Size and Geographical Composition (1099–1986).” Archivum Historiae Pontificiae 25 (1987): 7–71.

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      Reviews the origins, history, composition, and demographics of the cardinalate and its numbers from the pontificate of Urban II to the present. Useful reference and index of the importance of the papacy’s selection of cardinals among the principalities of Europe.

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    • Klewitz, Hans W. “Die Entstehung des Kardinalskollegiums.” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Kanonistische Abteilung 25 (1936): 115–221.

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      Like Kuttner 1945, this looks into the origins of the College of Cardinals in light of the historical circumstances of the pope, the church of Rome, and the Gregorian reform of the 11th century.

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    • Kuttner, Stephan. “Cardinalis: The History of a Canonical Concept.” Traditio 3 (1945): 129–214.

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      Though published decades ago, it is still the starting point (at least in English) for scholars on the genesis and evolution of the cardinalate and the role it came to play in the papacy’s governance of the church.

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    • Ullmann, Walter. “The Legality of the Papal Electoral Pacts.” Ephemerides Iuris Canonici 12 (1956): 246–278.

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      Capitulations signed and sworn to when papal conclaves began were often repudiated in fact, if not in writing, after the new pope was installed. Capitulations posed the interesting theoretical and canonical problem of whether a pope could be bound by an agreement made before his election by the cardinals (and the Holy Spirit).

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    Cardinals’ Finances, Culture, and Social World

    Although cardinals depended on the popes for their creation, their status, and often their livelihood, they sometimes operated in tense, antagonistic relationships with them. As Richardson 2009 details for cardinals of the 15th century, once created, many cardinals lived through multiple pontificates, each with its changes in lifestyle, society, culture, patronage networks, official responsibilities, and political circumstances. With the cardinalitial honor often went financial pressures, political rivalries, burdensome expectations, demands for favors, and the obligations of patronage. Cortesi 1980 makes clear the high cost in living up to the image of the Renaissance cardinal. Chambers 1966 and Hallman 1985 demonstrate the pressures on cardinals to maintain their positions financially and to exploit all sources of income. Fragnito 1993 provides clear illustration of the resistance of cardinals to efforts at reforming the cardinalate. Firpo 1981–1995 shows the terrible price one cardinal had to pay for opinions that ran contrary to those of a newly elected pope and factions in the Roman Curia.

    • Chambers, D. S. “The Economic Predicament of Renaissance Cardinals.” In Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History. Vol. 3. Edited by William M. Bowsky, 287–311. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966.

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      Short, clear, pointed essay. Useful as a first introduction to the social and financial pressures imposed on cardinals at this time: how they were expected to live as princes, act as patrons, run the Roman Curia, and assume the papal throne if elected.

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    • Cortesi, Paolo. The Renaissance Cardinal’s Ideal Palace: A Chapter from Cortesi’s “De cardinalatu.” Edited by Kathleen Weil-Garris and John F. D’Amico. Rome: Edizioni dell’ Elefante, American Academy in Rome, 1980.

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      Written in 1510, Cortese’s treatise provides an insider’s view of the world and the values and roles of cardinals at the height of the Renaissance in Rome, when cardinals were assumed to be the “reincarnation of Roman patricians” and were expected to live grandly as generous patrons and spend as Renaissance princes.

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    • Firpo, Massimo. Il processo inquisitoriale del cardinal Giovanni Morone. 6 vols. Rome: Istituto Storico Italiano per l’Età Moderna e Contemporanea, 1981–1995.

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      Massive collection of inquisitorial documents centered on the trial of one of the Roman Curia’s most competent and respected cardinals, who was exonerated in 1560, presided over the final sessions at the Council of Trent, and served as dean of the College of Cardinals. Particularly instructive for the detailed inside look at the Roman Inquisition in all aspects.

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    • Fragnito, Gigliola. “Cardinals’ Courts in Sixteenth-Century Rome.” Journal of Modern History 65 (1993): 26–56.

      DOI: 10.1086/244607Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Interpretative essay on the nature and interconnectedness of cardinalitial households as agents of interaction among the ecclesiastical and civil worlds of Rome and the Roman Curia. Demonstrates the conservative effect these concentrations of old, often impoverished nobility had on papal efforts to reform the deep-seated, traditional ecclesiastical and social structures from Paul III (1534–1549) to Sixtus V (1585–1590).

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    • Hallman, Barbara McClung. Italian Cardinals, Reform, and the Church as Property, 1492–1563. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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      Examines the ways cardinals made their money, how deeply ingrained clerical abuses were, and how they persisted throughout the Renaissance (and indeed long after the great reform council of the 16th century). Details the financial activities of 102 cardinals, especially those in the Roman Curia, in acquiring capital at the church’s expense by virtue of their privileged curial positions.

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    • Richardson, Carol M. Reclaiming Rome: Cardinals in the Fifteenth Century. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2009.

      DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004171831.i-528Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Rich, interdisciplinary study of 15th-century cardinals in relation to the pope and the papal court. Situates cardinals in the context of church councils; examines cardinals’ dress, titular churches, titles, property, popes’ and cardinals’ burials and monuments in the old St. Peter’s Basilica and elsewhere; the rebuilding of Rome, and prescriptions for a good death (wills, license to become testate, costs, novemdiales, etc.).

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    Individual Renaissance Cardinals

    By the 16th century cardinals constituted arguably the most colorful, diverse, and intriguing group of all Renaissance personalities. Some, as Chambers 1992, Fenlon 1972, Mayer 2000, and Gleason 1993 show, were drawn from the foremost families of Europe, sometimes from members of the clergy, as O’Malley 1968 presents with the case of Giles of Viterbo, or from members of religious orders who had been born in abject poverty, sometimes the issue of illicit unions of clergy and their mistresses, usually well trained in theology and humanist studies, sometimes deeply religious, ascetic, and committed reformers, often unscrupulous, avaricious, calculating and ambitious, sometimes handpicked by their respective monarchs, sometimes at the pope’s whim. Most were commonly distrustful of their colleagues’ motivations and keenly aware of the possibility of becoming pope upon the death of the reigning pontiff. Each cardinal was assigned a titular church in Rome, which he was required to keep up, as well as a regular source of revenue by the papacy, but each nearly always had to seek additional sources of revenue to maintain the often extravagant outlays expected of them or imposed upon them. Serving as papal administrators, advisers, legates, and more (though some also had shared responsibilities working for their temporal sovereigns), they had to look out for their own interests. Some cardinals did not reside in Rome but in their own countries or in their dioceses if they were bishops, like Jacopo Sadoleto, as Douglas 1959 shows. Some too served as chancellors or important officials in their respective kingdoms. Recent scholarship on cardinals has done much to capture the functions and careers of these uncommonly diverse individuals.

    • Chambers, D. S. A Renaissance Cardinal and His Worldly Goods: The Will and Inventory of Francesco Gonzaga (1444–1483). London: Warburg Institute, 1992.

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      Vivid example of the political workings of the papacy in creating cardinals and the preoccupations of Renaissance cardinals. Studies the son of the marchese of Mantua, who was created cardinal in 1461 when still a youth but who never achieved notoriety in service to the church. Rich in documentary evidence; details the style of life the noble cardinal was expected to embrace.

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    • Douglas, Richard M. Jacopo Sadoleto, 1477–1547: Humanist and Reformer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1959.

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      Detailed study of the career of a papal secretary of briefs and one of the moderate reformers among cardinals and bishops in the Roman Curia during the Reformation, who, like Gasparo Contarini, Reginald Pole, and some others, sought reconciliation with the Protestants but lost out to the reactionary group led by Cardinal Carafa, who favored harsh measures to restore obedience to Rome. Analyzes well the failure of this humanist cleric’s reform agenda.

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    • Fenlon, Dermot. Heresy and Obedience in Tridentine Italy: Cardinal Pole and the Counter Reformation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1972.

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      Now superseded by Mayer 2000 on Reginald Pole but still valuable for its discussion of the Spirituali, Pole’s idea of the church, his spiritual leanings if not acceptance of Lutheran doctrines like justification by faith, and his efforts to survive in Italy and at Rome in a climate of ever-hardening attitudes among curial officials toward perceived deviations in doctrine.

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    • Gleason, Elisabeth G. Gasparo Contarini: Venice, Rome, and Reform. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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      Intimate portrait and keen analysis of a major Venetian diplomat and later cardinal in the first part of the 16th century who later became a member of the Spirituali at Rome. Examines the career of this agent of the Roman Curia closely associated with Pope Paul III in working for spiritual and ecclesiastical reform and reconciliation efforts with the Protestants.

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    • Mayer, Thomas F. Reginald Pole: Prince and Prophet. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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      Study of England’s enigmatic cardinal in the era of Henry VIII, almost elected pope in 1549, later investigated by the Roman Inquisition for heretical leanings if not for evidence of homosexuality. Pole was fervently dedicated to the Catholicism of the English, associated with reform-minded individuals, was sympathetic to some ideas of the Reformers, and he typified the new zealous, reform prelate.

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    • O’Malley, John W. Giles of Viterbo on Church and Reform: A Study in Renaissance Thought. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1968.

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      Inspects the career, intellectual pursuits, vision of church and society, and reform program of Cardinal Giles of Viterbo (b. 1465–d. 1532), theologian, Kabbalist, and vicar general of the Augustinians who resided at Rome at the time of the Fifth Lateran Council (1513–1517), the emergence of Martin Luther, and the papacy of Clement VII and when calls for reform were raised everywhere.

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    The Roman Curia

    The institutions and organization of the Roman Curia evolved over centuries, undergoing many changes. By the time of the popes’ residence at Avignon (1309–1378) the bureaucracy had become sophisticated, well run, and adept at generating money; at the same time it was fiercely criticized for its corruption, greed, and simony. Beginning with Martin V, after the popes returned to Rome to reside there permanently, the bureaucracy underwent further transformations, retaining its administrative efficiency though without shedding the continuing charges of corruption and avarice. Until the major reorganization of the Roman Curia in 1588, the papal administration handled all matters that fell under the purview of the bishop of Rome as temporal monarch of the Papal States and sovereign pontiff of the universal church: personal spiritual affairs and cases of conscience; matters of canon and civil law; relations with other governments in the Christian world and beyond; matrimonial dispensations, indults, and the conferral of ecclesiastical offices reserved to the popes; papal treasury and finances; and matters of state.

    Curial Administration

    Thomson 1980, Hofmann 1914, and Partner 1990 offer clear direction in navigating the complex assembly of offices, their functions, and their personnel. Partner 1958 studies the popes’ return to Rome and subsequent further changes in bureaucracy. Del Re 1998 provides a thorough study of every curial office from its inception to the present. Frenz 1986 and Frenz 2000 explore the workings of the papal chancery, its diplomatic corps, and its correspondence. Göller 1907–1911 examines extensively the office of the Apostolic Penitentiary in cases of conscience affecting all segments of Christian peoples. Killermann 2009 examines the papal tribunal of the Roman Rota, to which were brought various civil and ecclesiastic cases.

    • Del Re, Niccolò. La curia romana: Lineamenti storico-giuridici. 4th ed. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998.

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      Indispensible, comprehensive, complete overview and historical reconstruction of every office of the Roman Curia from its institution to the present, including those suppressed, beginning with that of the secretary of state. Updated notes and extensive bibliography; provides names of the heads of all the congregations, many of which are of only recent institution.

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    • Frenz, Thomas. Die Kanzlei der Päpste der Hochrenaissance (1471–1527). Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1986.

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      Curial documents fall into various genres and exhibit unique characteristics from their earliest origins to the present. Frenz provides a clear pathway through the creation of curial diplomatic documents (papal briefs) by the chancery, examining them in detail, tracing their course from the petition to the brief. He throws light on the writers of briefs, venality of offices, and biographies of officials.

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    • Frenz, Thomas. Papsturkunden des Mittelalters und Neuzeit. 2d ed. Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 2000.

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      Concise, commendable introduction to papal diplomatics, explaining the function, document production, particular nature, and characteristics of papal correspondence over the centuries. Looks also at the cost of the institution’s activities and its sources of revenue.

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    • Göller, Emil. Die päpstliche Pönitentiarie von ihren Ursprung bis zu ihrer Umgestaltung unter Pius V. 4 vols. Rome: Loescher, 1907–1911.

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      The history and function of the tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary is crucial for understanding the ways Christians of every social status negotiated release from the punishments resulting from their moral failings and found relief for spiritual afflictions. Göller examines the penitentiary’s susceptibility to corruption and clarifies how the powers of the penitentiary often expanded beyond its mandates.

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    • Hofmann, Walter von. Forschungen zur Geschichte der kurialen Behörden, vom Schisma bis zur Reformation. 2 vols. Rome: Loescher, 1914.

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      Still valuable for the wealth of source information and lucid exposition of the many offices, officeholders, and sale of offices of the Roman Curia from the Western Schism to the Reformation, beginning with the chancery, its administrative reorganization, and its resettlement of key personnel to other organs of government, such as the Datary, the Rota, and the Apostolic Camera.

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    • Killermann, Stefan. Die Rota Romana: Wesen und Wirken des päpstlichen Gerichtshofes im Wandel der Zeit. Frankfurt am Main and New York: Peter Lang, 2009.

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      Meticulous study of the origins of the papacy’s claim of judicial authority in matters of canon and secular law and how the nature and activities of this tribunal, the oldest continuing tribunal in the Western world, changed over time. Incorporates much primary source material and earlier studies (many in Latin) and discusses recent studies on the Rota Romana.

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    • Partner, Peter. The Papal State under Martin V: The Administration and Government of the Temporal Power in the Early Fifteenth Century. London: British School at Rome, 1958.

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      Based on extensive Vatican sources. Studies the Papal States at the close of the popes’ absence in Avignon, the Great Schism, and the challenges to the papacy’s temporal authority in its return to Rome. Close analysis of the resistances of local government and of a prince’s means of taking and maintaining power.

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    • Partner, Peter. The Pope’s Men: The Papal Civil Service in the Renaissance. Oxford: Clarendon, 1990.

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      Up-to-date examination of clerical staffing, venality of offices, and rights pertaining to the ownership of offices. Inspects the functions, emoluments, and patronage structure of the papal bureaucracy. Focuses on the period 1417–1527, but much information is relevant well into the 17th century in demonstrating how popes used this bureaucracy to impose their agendas on the rulers of Europe.

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    • Thomson, John A. F. Popes and Princes, 1417–1517: Politics and Polity in the Late Medieval Church. London: Allen and Unwin, 1980.

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      Short, informative study of the papal government from the Council of Constance to the beginning of the Reformation; concise exposition of the papal bureaucracy in light of the major problems confronting the popes (conciliarism, papal authority, rival claims to authority from princes, breakdown of papal leadership and church unity, and finances).

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    Papal Finances

    Papal revenues derived from myriad sources throughout Christendom and were used for manifold regular and extraordinary operating expenses, such as the maintenance and building of churches, poor relief, subsidies to clergy and laity, and sometimes support for the Crusades and other military ventures, as Gilbert 1980 illustrates in the case of Venice in 1511. As the pope had responsibilities both as spiritual head of Christendom and as temporal head in his own dominions, the financial outlays were commonly vast and exceedingly complicated. Partner 1980 gives a clear introduction to the nature of papal financial operations in this era. Favier 1966 opens a window onto the complex financial machinery and papal revenues and expenses during the period of the Western Schism, when the popes resident at Avignon grew more sophisticated in tapping streams of income. Lunt 1939–1962 draws on the special case of England, from which the papacy drew major revenues. Delumeau 1994 and Reinhard 1974 expose the financial operations of the papacy, making clear its chronic need for reliable revenue streams; the former puts this in the wider perspective of the city of Rome, the later focuses specifically on papal financial operations in the pontificate of Paul V (1605–1621).

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

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      First published 1975. Constructs 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 relations.

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    • Favier, Jean. Les finances pontificales a l’époque du grand schisme d’Occident, 1378–1409. Paris: E. de Boccard, 1966.

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      Based upon documents from Avignon, studies papal finances during the pope’s residence at Avignon (1309–1378) and later when the Western Schism resulted in two popes, one in Rome and the other in Avignon. The latter came to dominate in financial matters by possessing curial officials with expertise to manage complex financial transactions, such as the collection of revenues.

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    • Gilbert, Felix. The Pope, His Banker, and Venice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

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      Reconstructs relations between Pope Julius II; the Republic of Venice; Agostino Chigi, the pope’s wealthy banker from Siena; and the Italian states in the turbulent year 1511, when Venice was at war with the League of Cambrai. The author uses the financial negotiations to open up the bustling world of papal finance, diplomacy, warfare, alum mining, religion, and society.

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    • Lunt, William E. Financial Relations of the Papacy with England. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1939–1962.

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      From the Middle Ages, England had a special financial relationship with Rome and paid handsomely down to the 16th century, when relations between Henry VIII and Clement VII were severed. Volume 2 covers the period 1327–1534 and gives a clear picture of the vast sums involved and the financial impact of the schism.

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    • Partner, Peter. “Papal Financial Policy in the Renaissance and Counter Reformation.” Past and Present 88 (1980): 17–62.

      DOI: 10.1093/past/88.1.17Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      All of Partner’s writings on the papacy and papal finances merit close attention. This stands out prominently for its analysis of papal financial policy in this period, where source records are often incomplete and scholarship lacking or sketchy at best. Arguably the best introduction to the machinery of the papal financial organization; all major bibliographical works are cited, and many are evaluated.

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    • Reinhard, Wolfgang. Papstfinanz und Nepotismus unter Paul V: Studien und Quellen zur Struktur und zu quantitativen Aspekten des päpstlichen Herrschaftssystems. 2 vols. Stuttgart: A. Hiersemann, 1974.

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      Comprehensive, thorough examination of papal finances in the pontificate of Paul V (1605–1621) and earlier. Complements Delumeau 1994. Details revenues and expenses of the papacy; shows evidence of the chronic revenue shortfall Paul V faced, as did his predecessors (iron law of the fisc); provides complete bibliography on papal finances up to 1974.

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    The Papacy and the Jews

    The complex historical relationship between the papacy, the church, Christian society, and the Jews both of Rome and throughout Europe undergoes dramatic changes from age to age and especially in the era of the Renaissance, as Jewish-Christian interactions evolve and Christians’ understanding of the Jews and their role in society and in salvation history change. Popes understood themselves as protectors of the Jews, mindful of Paul’s words in Romans that all Israel shall be saved, but not all popes dealt with the Jews in the same manner. Stow 1992 provides a clear overview of the major shifts in Christian attitudes and papal and conciliar policies from the Middle Ages (largely because of the Franciscans) to the end of the 16th century. Simonsohn 1988–1991 offers abundant documentation on this process. Stow 1976 looks at the significant changes in Catholic-Jewish relations at the end of the Renaissance, especially in light of apocalyptic expectations, the establishment of the Jewish ghetto in Rome (1555), and the setting in place of restrictive social and economic measures.

    • Simonsohn, Shlomo. The Apostolic See and the Jews. 8 vols. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1988–1991.

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      Invaluable collection of almost all source documents (carefully indexed, most of them complete) chronicling papal-Jewish relations from the papacy of Gelasius I (492) to Julius III (1555). Volumes 7 and 8 evaluate the papacy’s policies, sometimes ambivalent, over the centuries toward the Jewish communities of Europe. Rich bibliography on the papacy and Jewry; offers many other helpful resources.

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    • Stow, Kenneth R. Catholic Thought and Papal Jewry Policy, 1555–1593. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1976.

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      Fills in the crucial gap left by Simonsohn 1988–1991. Starts with the pontificate of Paul IV (1555–1559); identifies a significant reversal in the traditional policy of the popes, which instead of leaving Jews to practice their faith unhindered turns to convert Jews through compulsory preaching, tightening access to economic resources, and enforcing greater social isolation.

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    • Stow, Kenneth R. “The Papacy and the Jews: Catholic Reformation and Beyond.” Jewish History 6.1–2 (1992): 257–279.

      DOI: 10.1007/BF01695222Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Clear overview of the papacy’s relations and dealings with the Jews of Christendom, especially those of Italy and Rome, from the late Middle Ages to the dissolution of the Roman ghetto in 1870.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 08/26/2011

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195399301-0110

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