Italian Episcopal and Papal Conclave Letters and Pius IX/Risorgimento
An inventory of the Italian Episcopal and Papal Conclave Letters and Pius IX/Risorgimento Collection at The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives
Mailing Address: The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 20064
Papal States and Risorgimento
The Papal States arose in the eighth century out of the conflict between the papacy and the Byzantine emperors. The state was originally under Frankish protection. In the Middle Ages, the papacy laid foundations of its administrative independence. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the international weakening of the papacy went hand in hand with greater centralization. During the two centuries before the French invasion of 1796, the Papal States underwent a progressive decline; and they were temporarily wiped off the map in 1798.
Popes Leo XII (Annibale Sermattei Della Genga; 1823-1829), Pius VIII (Francesco Saverio Castiglioni; 1829-1830), and Gregory XVI ((Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari; in religion Mauro Cappellari, Camaldolese friar;1831-1846), remained opposed to reform. Inspired by the July Revolution in Paris (1830), insurrections erupted in Bologna and spread to Umbria, Romagna, and the Marches, giving rise to several provisional governments under Terenzio Mamiani. The revolt was crushed by France and Austria. The great powers (France, Great Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia) then sent Gregory XVI a list of measures needed to prevent further revolts, including admission of laity to higher positions, enforcement of the 1816 constitution, and the creation of local and provincial legislatures; the pope rejected almost all of these proposals. The papacy feared that limitations on temporal power would weaken its spiritual authority. The election of the popular Pius IX (Giovanni Mastai Ferretti; 1846-1878), in the conclave of June 14-16 1846, strengthened the moderates' hands: "Rome esulta, alla notizia del nuovo eletto" ("Rome exults, at the news of the new pope-elect"; Caravale and Caracciolo, 642) The pope granted amnesty to political prisoners; authorized the creation of railroads; and received Jews in Rome without symbolic humiliation. True political newspapers came into being (from clandestine leaflets). Pius IX organized a lay Consulta di Stato (similar to Parliament) and a civil guard; and he cemented his popularity by protesting the Austrian occupation of Ferrara.
However, as head of the Catholic Church, the pope could not wage war against Austria as the liberals desired, so that relations with the legislature became sour. In November 1848, radicals assassinated Pius IX's prime minister Rossi, and subsequent revolts drove the pope from Rome; a Roman Republic was established in 1849.
The Austrians and French reinstated Pius IX in 1850. Henceforth the pope was dependent on foreign support. Resenting what he considered ingratitude, the pope abandoned his earlier liberal tendencies. Ten years later, the Papal States, bereft of foreign protection, lost the legations, the Marches, and Umbria to the new Kingdom of Italy, which proclaimed Rome to be its capital in 1861. The French reluctantly continued to protect what was left of the Papal States until the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 distracted them; Italy took advantage of the situation to annex Rome and put an end to the Papal States, although the pope retained personal sovereignty.
Diocese of Gubbio
The Diocese of Gubbio was directly subject to the papacy until 1563, when it was placed under Urbino; but Urbino was not able to exercise ecclesiastical authority over Gubbio until the eighteenth century. Famous bishops of Gubbio included Cardinal [Pietro] Bembo, Marcello Cervino (Marcellus II), Alessandro Sperelli (1644; well-known author), and Mariano Savelli.
Conclaves and Conclavistica
Originally, the Bishop of Rome was elected in the same way as any other bishop, by the clergy, the laity (or part of it), and neighboring bishops. From the fourth to the eleventh century, temporal rulers played a prominent role in the choice of the pope.
The institution of the conclave developed between the eleventh and the sixteenth century. In 1059, Nicholas II decreed that only the higher clergy of Rome had the right to elect a pope. In order to prevent a long interval between pontificates, Gregory X, in the bull Ubi Periculum, instituted the system of strict seclusion (the conclave) in 1274. In 1562, Pius IV brought further modifications to the procedure. The method has remained largely intact up to the present. The election is by secret ballot, and a two-thirds majority or greater is required for a valid election. Starting in the sixteenth century, conclaves generated a substantial literature around a branch of politics known as conclavistica. While insisting on the inscrutable role of the Holy Spirit in guiding papal elections, the authors were more interested in such mundane factors as the character, vices, virtues, interests, connections, and rivalries of the cardinals; the money spent by ambassadors to buy votes; and the machinations of the various factions in the College. The literature of conclavistica flourished in the middle of the seventeenth century, with a growing number of manuscripts and, to a lesser extent (for prudential reasons) printed works. Various crises of succession, along with polemics regarding specific candidates and the role of secular rulers in papal elections, led to this flowering. Conclave writings can be divided into three broad categories: conclave reports; predictions, along with lists of cardinals (called statere/stadere or papeide), and theoretical treatises. In addition, there are polemical, propagandistic, and satirical writings; authors include Vittorino Siri, Giulio Cesare Braccini, and Cesare Magalotti. Theoretical works held pride of place, and were often inserted into historical works; the principal authors included Gio[vanni] Francesco Lottini (Discorso sopra l'attioni del conclave di M. Gio Francesco Lottino; the variation in the surname is in Costantini, and probably goes back to Lottini) and Felice Gualtieri; others include Braccini and Magalotti.
The leading author of historical accounts and reports was Alberto Macchiavelli (1583), who also translated conclave reports from Latin. Macchiavelli collected and translated conclave reports concerning Nicholas V, Callistus III, Pius II, Leo X, Adrian VI, Clement VII, and Julius III (author unknown); Innocent VIII, Pius III, and Julius II (by Giovanni Brocardo); Alexander VI (by Michele Ferro); Pius IV (by Antonio Guido); Marcellus II, Paul IV, and Pius V (Lottini); and Gregory XIII (author unknown).
Conclave reports are further divided into histories, diaries, and avvisi (notices, news). Histories, called as a rule simply conclavi or conclaves, have higher literary ambitions and are more analytical; diaries are more concerned with ceremonies and minutiae. Authors of history include Alberto Macchiavelli and Agostino Mascardi (Gregory XV); diarists include Bastiano Casini. Avvisi were technically illegal, as no member in the conclave was supposed to send or receive any written matter; but this prohibition was ineffective. Examples include the dispatches of Giminiano Poggi (1644), Rinaldo e'Este, and Federico Cornaro. Secular rulers had regular access to information on events. Lists of cardinals considered "papabili" (singular "papabile"; literally, "popeable") became detached from predictions around the middle of the seventeenth century, and became a popular and often scurrilous genre, tinged with anti-curial polemic (Ferrante Pallavicino) and journalistic opportunism (Gregorio Leti, according to Costantini). These writings, besides containing juicy gossip, discussed such factors as age (the older, the better), culture and literacy, relations or entourage, etc. Among cardinals deemed "papabili," only a tiny minority were true candidates. However, these lists tended to extend to all the cardinals, since all cardinals participated in the election, and tended to move from prediction to personal description or caricature. They circulated anonymously, although some authors are known.
Consisting mainly of reports and letters, the collection is arranged into three series: Series 1: Diocese of Gubbio Correspondence; Series 2:Papal Conclave Letters; and Series 3: Pius IX/Risorgimento. Series 3 is divided into three subseries: Subseries 3.1: Dispatches/reports; Subseries 3.2: Cassa dei Fondi pubblici degli Stati con privilegio Pontificio; Subseries 3.3: Correspondence and Essays.
Series 1 has ten folders, containing letters related to the Diocese of Gubbio. There are various authors; several letters are addressed to (Antonio) Tondi. Most of them date from the 17th century; but there is a letter from 1814 in Latin from Mario de' Baroni Acajani, Bishop of Gubbio, as well as letters from 1870 and 1769. The letters are not in chronological order. These letters are hard to read; names are extremely difficult or impossible to read. Condition varies: most fair (somewhat fragile); but some holes, stains.
Series 2 consists of conclave reports and related material, and contains nine folders. Several authors, including Alberto Macchiavelli. 16th, 17th centuries. Dates given on the documents may not be actual dates of the manuscript. Italian and Latin.
Series 3 consists of three subseries. (Unless otherwise stated, all materials are in Italian). Subseries 3.1 contains six folders and consists of reports/dispatches from the Papal States under Pius X. Authorship is as yet unknown; some reports have "Antonio Reisperg" (Reisperg also given as "Reisberger") written on the back; others have "Sig[nore] Dott[ore] Ernst, or only "Ernst". Also included is a clipping from a Bavarian German-language newspaper, Münchener Politische Zeitung, July 28, 1819. Concerns parliamentary assembly meeting in Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria. Further study might reveal some connection between this item and other parts of the collection. Reports are roughly organized according to date but do not usually give the year and are not always in exact chronological order. Paper is in good condition but fragile. Handwriting is fairly legible.
Subseries 3.2 contains three folders with material related to the "Cassa dei Fondi pubblici degli Stati con privilegio Pontificio [Bank of public funds in the States with papal privilege]."
Subseries 3.3 consists of three folders with letters, reports of commissions, and essays, all bearing on conditions in the papal states and Italian politics.
The Italian Episcopal and Papal Conclave Letters and Pius IX/Risorgimento Collection consists of three series:
Restrictions on Access
There may be access restrictions due to the fragile nature of the documents.
CUA Rare Books and Special Collections purchased the collection from Mt. St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1989.
Donated in 2003 by CUA Rare Books and Special Collections.
Processing completed in June 2006 by Nicholas J. Tussing. EAD markup completed in June 2006 by Nicholas J. Tussing, Jordan Patty, and Cathey Dugan.
The American Catholic Research Center and University Archives also holds the Papal Autograph Collection and the Vatican I Scrapbook.
This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Italy -- Papal States
Diocese of Gubbio
Pius IX, Pope, 1792-1878
Benigni, U. "Passaglia, Carlo." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 11. Appleton, 1911. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11518b.htm.
Benigni, U. "Rossi, Pellegrino." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13. Transcribed by Ferruccio Germani. Appleton, 1912. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13204a.htm.
Caravale, Mario, and Alberto Caracciolo. Lo Stato pontificio da Martino V a Pio IX. Turin: UTET, 1978.
Costantino, Claudio. "Scritture di conclave: Il maggior negotio." In "Fazione Urbana: Sbandimento e ricomparizione di una grande clientela a metà Seicento." http://www.quaderni.net/WebFazione/d1generi.html. Last revised November, 2005. Accessed May 24, 2006.Forshaw, B. "Conclave." New Catholic Encyclopedia 4: 60. 2nd edition. Detroit: Gale, 2003; c. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 2002.
Jarry, E., R. Mori, and F.J. Coppa: "States of the Church." New Catholic Encyclopedia 13: 490-497. 2nd edition. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 2003.
Ott, Michael. "Pius IX." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12. Transcribed by WGKofron [sic]. Appleton, 1911. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12134b.htm.
Prodi, Paolo. The Papal Prince: One Body and Two Souls: The Papal Monarchy in Early Modern Europe. Translated by Susan Haskins. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Originally published in Italian as Il sovrano pontefice, un corpo e due anime: la monarchia papale nella prima età moderna; Bologna: Il Mulino, 1982.
Scott, Ivan. The Roman Question and the Powers, 1848-1865. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969.
Swift, A., G. Morrisey, and S. Miranda. "Popes, Election of." New Catholic Encyclopedia 11: 498-501. 2nd edition. Detroit: Gale, 2003; c. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 2002.
Weber, N.A. "Pope Pius VII." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12. Transcribed by W. G. Kofron. Appleton, 1911. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12132a.htm.
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