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The Papal Autograph Collection

An inventory of the Papal Autograph Collection at The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives


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Mailing Address: The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 20064

Telephone: 202-319-5065

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Descriptive Summary

Repository: The Catholic University of America, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives
Creator: John D. Crimmins
Title: The Papal Autograph Collection
Dates: 1578-1865
Extent: .25 linear feet; 1 box
Abstract: Letters and official documents signed by several popes from Gregory XIII to Pius IX, mostly concerning administration of the Papal States. Included are the rare signature of Gregory XIV as pope, an office he only held 1590-1591, and a bull of Clement XII, 1737 (with seal removed).
Collection Number: ACUA 212
Language: Italian, Latin, French, and English

Historical Note

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. From the early tenth century to the Gregorian reforms of the eleventh century, the papal state was dominated by factions of the Roman nobility. Meanwhile, the papacy laid foundations of its administrative independence. In the Middle Ages, papal rule in the Papal States fluctuated, being sometimes reduced to Rome; the popes allowed the formation of communes (autonomous municipalities). In the fourteenth century, the absence of the popes in Avignon weakened the state. By mid-century, Cardinal Gil Albornoz overcame most communes' resistance to centralization, though many small tyrannies remained until the sixteenth century. Albornoz's work was largely undone by Great western Schism; fifteenth-century popes like Martin V and Nicholas V had to use far lesser political and financial resources to rebuild the Papal States.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the international weakening of the papacy went hand in hand with greater centralization, which only the largest local units (whether feudalities, communes, or tyrannies) could resist. Bologna, Perugia, the Este of Ferrara, the Montefeltrino of Urbino all became subject to the papacy. The penetration of state power resulted in the creation of parish registers and of the papal archives, and the organization of sacraments, the catechism, public help institutions like hospitals, and public accounting. However, this centralization was incomplete, as is shown by the very name "States of the Church." The Roman aristocracy amassed enormous wealth and power within the state, at the expense of central authority. Innocent XI ((Benedetto Odescalchi; 1676-1689) fought back by combatting nepotism and imposing fiscal measures.

Pius IV (Giovanni Angelo Medici; 1559-1565) also reduced the autonomy of the Roman nobility, notably the Carafa and Colonna families. The college of cardinals lost power; however, this decline ended up weakening the papacy itself, turning the Papal States into a pawn of conclave politics, which in turn were subject to external pressures, as the great powers intervened to exclude candidates who were not to their liking. Sixteenth-century Rome became more prosperous; and the population rose from 30,000 to 100,000 by the end of the century. Fortifications, construction, the building of roads, and the deployment of military and police, all resulted from a conception of the state as public order and monopoly of power used for the earthly and spiritual benefit of its subjects.

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. The army came in the seventeenth century to be used solely for internal matters. In the eighteenth century, France pressured Clement XIII and Clement XIV to suppress the Jesuits by severing diplomatic relations and occupying Avignon (then papal territory). The only major exception is that Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, under Clement XII (1730-1740) temporarily annexed San Marino. In 1768, Rome had 159,000 inhabitants; there were 2 million in the Papal States as a whole.

The French revolutionaries shook the Papal States, beginning with the annexation of Avignon (1791). Napoleon led the French invasion in 1796, and occupied the "legations" (Bologna, Ferrara, Ravenna), though he governed prudently, knowing he might need papal co-operation in France. In 1797, Pius VI signed the treaty of Tolentino, ceding Avignon, Bologna, and Ferrara to France, and Romagna to the "Cisalpine Republic," a French satellite. After the murder of General Mathieu Duphot, the French seized Rome (1798) and proclaimed a Roman Republic; Pius VI died in prison in southern France. In the War of 2nd Coalition, France's defeat forced the French to evacuate Rome and restore the Papal States, except for the legations, in the treaty of Lunéville (1801).

Pius VII (Barnaba Chiaramonti;1800-1823) sought to reorganize administration. His bull Post Diuturnas reflected two different approaches: that of the zelanti, traditionalists in internal politics who favored autonomy in foreign policy and "regarded all the recent French innovations as diabolical" (Jarry, Mori, and Coppa, 495) and those who wanted a fresh start from outmoded institutions. The pope mostly went with the conservatives, and the few changes he made were hindered by prelates' passive resistance. He did, however, open up some positions to laymen, provided they were also noblemen.

Meanwhile, relations with France remained difficult. When the pope refused to go along with the boycott of Britain, Napoleon occupied the Papal States (1805-1809) and kept the pope in captivity until 1814. Pius VII returned to Rome on May 24, 1814. Cardinal Consalvi, papal secretary of state, managed to persuade the Congress of Vienna to restore most of the Papal States, albeit with the permanent loss of Avignon (June 1815). Consalvi enacted a constitutional charter; but noble and ecclesiastical opposition prevented any effective reforms. This failure, along with economic deterioration, caused many lesser nobles and bourgeois to join secret societies like the Carbonari.

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.

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Scope and Contents

The collection spans the period between 1578 and 1865, and includes handwritten letters and other documents emanating from various popes and Vatican officials; some are of unknown origin. Contents are in chronological order by pontiff, but as some documents were written before elevation to papacy, the documents themselves are not always in chronological order. Popes include Gregory XIII (Ugo Boncompagni, 1572-1585; known for his anti-brigand campaign, he centralized assistance to the poor in Rome, and extended the rights of Jews); Sixtus V (Felice Perretti; 1585-1590); Paul V (Camillo Borghese; 1605-1621; founded the "Secret Archives" and forbade the cardinals to dwell far from Rome without papal permission); Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini; 1623-1644; best known for the 1633 condemnation of Galileo, whom the pope had earlier supported; also annexed the duchies of Urbino and Castro e Ronciglione); Clement XI (GianFrancesco Albani; 1700-1721); Pius IX; and others, listed in the folder descriptions.

Most documents are related to administration of Papal States, and are legal or financial in nature; a few, however, are more personal.

Because the collection is small and documents are of similar character, there is only one series.

Legal and financial documents concern such subjects as payment of dues by the City of Borgo (probably either Borgo-San Donnino in the Province of Parma, or Borgo San Giacomo near Ferrara, where the popes had a fortress and park built); the readjustment of dues from Subiaco (a city near Rome containing a Benedictine abbey); relief for vassals of San Gregorio afflicted by the Plague of 1656 (San Gregorio may be the monastery of that name on the Coelian Hill in Rome [?]); instructions to Cardinal Cybo on the debts of Ostia (Alderano Cybo was Relator of the Office of the Apostolic Signature; Ostia was a port near Rome). Most noteworthy, perhaps, is a bull of 1737 restoring independence to San Marino, which had been annexed shortly before by Cardinal Giulio Alberoni. There are also two responses of Pius IX to petitions on liturgical matters, one from Vincenzo Vanutelli (subsequently Cardinal-Legate to Canada under Pius X), the other anonymous. Other documents concern criminal effects, infrastructure such as furnaces and granaries, and public and private correspondence. They give us a picture of the popes as closely involved in administration on a fairly minute level, and suggest how personalized the papal bureaucracy was.

Some of the documents do not come directly from the popes, or remain obscure as to origin or content. Examples include a sixteenth-century document by "Hieronymus Mathæus Prothonotarius Publicus" (public prothonotary; a prothonotary, according to dictionary.com, is "[o]ne of a college of 12 ecclesiastics charged with the registry of important pontifical proceedings"); a barely legible French financial document from 1682; a portrait of Leo XII by F. (?) Pistrucci; signatures of Popes Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX; and a private letter from 1863 of Cardinal Luigi Ciacchi (mislabelled "Cerianti" on the folder), who had governed the Legation of Ferrara in 1846.

Documents are primarily written in Latin and Italian, with one written in French. English translations are only available for a small number of the documents.

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Arrangement

The Papal Autograph Collection consists of one series.


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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions.

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Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Donated by John D. Crimmins on April 26, 1914. Crimmins, a New York contractor and philanthropist, was a noted collector of books and manuscripts. He was also a trustee of Catholic University.

Processing Information

Processing and EAD markup in April 2006 by Nicholas J. Tussing, with revisions by P. Westley Bush in 2009 and 2011. Digital archival object links updated in 2015 by Paul Kelly.

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Related Material

The American Catholic Research Center and University Archives:

Italian Episcopal and Papal Conclave Letters and Pius IX/Risorgimento Collection

Vatican I Scrapbook

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.


Persons:
Alexander VIII, Pope, 1610-1691
Benedict XIV, Pope, 1675-1758
Ciacchi, Luigi, 1765-1865
Clement IX, Pope, 1600-1669
Clement VIII, Pope, 1536-1605
Clement XI, Pope, 1649-1721
Clement XII, Pope, 1652-1740
Gregory XIII, Pope, 1502-1585
Gregory XIV, Pope, 1535-1591
Gregory XVI, Pope, 1765-1846
Leo XII, Pope, 1760-1829
Paul V, Pope, 1552-1621
Pius IX, Pope, 1792-1878
Pius VIII, Pope, 1761-1830
Sixtus V, Pope, 1520-1590
Urban VIII, Pope, 1568-1644

Organizations:
Catholic Church

Places:
Papal States--Court and courtiers
San Marino

Subjects:
Italy--Court and courtiers
Papacy
Popes


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Bibliography

Benigni, U. "Borgo-San Donnino." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2. Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. Appleton, 1907. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02686a.htm.

Benigni, U. "Ostia and Velletri." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 11. Transcribed by Richard Hemphill. Appleton, 1911. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11346a.htm.

Caravale, Mario, and Alberto Caracciolo. Lo Stato pontificio da Martino V a Pio IX. Turin: UTET, 1978.

Catholic Church. Archdiocese of Montréal. "Monseigneur Paul Bruchési." Diocèse de Montréal -- Notre Histoire -- Évêques. May 14, 2003. http://www.diocesemontreal.org/histoire/eveques/bruchesi/3_vieactive.htm. Information on Vincenzo Vanutelli: Cardinal-Legate to Canada under Pius X.

Florea, Luminita. "Catalogue of Manuscripts in The Robbins Collection, Manuscripts 101-120." The Robbins Religious and Civil Law Collection, School of Law, Boalt Hall, University of California at Berkeley, 2002. http://www.law.berkeley.edu/robbins/MANUSCRIPTS101-120.html. Information on Cardinal Alderano Cybo.

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.

Loughlin, James J. "Pope Pius IV." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12. Transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook. Appleton, 1911. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12129a.htm.

Merhsman, Francis. "Subiaco." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14. Transcribed by Wm Stuart French, Jr. Appleton, 1912. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14321a.htm.

Ott, Michael. "Pope Gregory XIV." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7. Transcribed by Janet van Heyst. Appleton, 1910. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07004a.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.

Toke, Leslie A. St. L. "Pope Gregory XVI." The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 7. Transcribed by Janet van Heyst. Appleton, 1910. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07006a.htm.

Van de Pas, Leo. "The Descendants of Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Modena and Ferrara (5 generations)." Worldroots.com, n.d. http://worldroots.com/brigitte/royal/kent/alfonso1ofestedesc.htm Information on Cardinal Alderano Cybo.

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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Detailed Description of the Collection

                       
Series 1: Papal Autographs, 1578-1865 (1 box)
There is one series comprised of 19 folders. Dates below in parentheses refer to pontificates.
Box Folder
1 1 "Gregory XIII (?)" (1572-1585), 1578
        View Document
        Parchment, poor condition. No label. Document apparently not written by Gregory XIII, but by "Hieronymus Mathæius Prothonotarius Apostolicus." Further study needed to determine subject. In Latin. Note: no immage present for the text on the reverse of the correspondence.
  2 Sixtus V (1585-1590), May 20, 1586
        View Document
        Arrangements of paying of dues by City of Borgo. In Italian.
  3 Gregory XIV (1590-1591), September 13, 1591
        View Document
        Returns Giulio Rossi's books to heirs. Rare signature. In Italian.
  4 Clement VIII (1592-1605), December 22, 1592
        View Document
        Correspondence concerning a dispute about preaching in Douai. In Latin.
  5 Paul V (1605-1621), July 17, 1620
        View Document
        Readjustment of dues from Subiaco. In Italian.
  6 Urban VIII (1623-1644), February 26, 1625
        View Document
        Transfer of furnace. In Italian.
  7 Clement IX (1667-1669), July 16, 1667
        View Document
        No label. Concerns vassals of land of San Gregorio afflicted by Plague of 1656. In Italian.
  8 French Financial Document, October 26, 1682
        View Document
        No label; no name given on folder. Financial matter; the handwriting is very difficult. Several signatures, largest of which looks like Plessis Brossaudise (?). Other Signatures include Jean Ailand, Claude Lombardon, and Maillet. In French.
  9 Alexander VIII (1689-1691), October 12, 1689
        View Document
        Instructions to Cardinal Cibo regarding the debts of the Bishopric of Ostia. In Italian.
  10 Clement XI (1700-1721), March 24, 1703
        View Document
        Decree respecting the building of a granary in the City of Cervia. In Italian.
  11 Clement XII (1730-1740), 1737
        View Document
        Papal bull on vellum. Beautifully engrossed and ornamented. Correspondence concerning a noble marriage. In Latin; difficult handwriting.
  12 Benedict XIV (1740-1758), August 26, 1730
        View Document
        Signed as Cardinal Lambertini (Prospero Lambertini Bolognese). In Italian; difficult handwriting.
  13 Portrait of Leo XII (1823-1829), 1824
        View Document
        Portrait of Leo XII (Annibal della Genga; born 1760; elevated to papacy 1823). Drawn on stone by F. (?) Pistrucci after portrait taken in Rome on day of installation. Caption in English; published London, 1824. Donated March 18, 1915.
  14 Leo XII (1823-1829), September 14, 1805
        View Document
        3 pp. Signed as Cardinal A. Della Genga. On ordering vestments, and the disposing of effects of a deceased person. In Italian.
  15 Pius VIII (1829-1831), August 4, 1789
        View Document
        Signed as vicar-general to the Bishop of Agnani. (Francesco Saverio Castiglioni). To a friend on some family troubles. In Italian.
  16 Pius VIII (1829-1831), Gregory XVI (1831-1846), and Pius IX (1846-1878): Signatures, 1829, 1831, 1846
        View Document
        Pius VIII (1829), Gregory XVI (1831), and Pius IX (1846). Cut signatures, mounted on 1 piece.
  17 Gregory XVI (1831-1846), November 21, 1841
        View Document
        3 pp. With numerous manuscript corrections. Latin letters of thanks for present of Egyptian sarcophagus to the Vatican. Translation (no image) a little rough ("Highest Chief" for "Most Exalted Prince"). Letter written to a monarch. Accompanied by envelope containing 2 signatures and what looks like salutation or possibly the name of the letter's recipient.
  18 Cardinal Luigi Ciacchi (1765-1865), November 21, 1863
        View Document
        The last name is incorrectly labelled "Cerianti." Cardinal-deacon of Sant'Angelo in Pescheria. Accompanied by handwritten and typed translation (no image). Brief Christmas letter.
  19 Pius IX (1846-1878), 1854, 1868
        View Document
        Handwritten translation (no image) of a petition to the Pope and the Pope's reply. Typed translations of petition and reply. Fr. Vincenzo Vanutelli of Dominicans seeks permission for ritual professing adherence to Pope. Request in Italian, with English note: "His Holiness Pope Pius IX, granting authority to give the Apostolic Benediction, 1868." [Translation gives date 1865.] Original document not by Pius IX, but Pius IX has written on it.
        There is also a document in which a priest asks permission to do spiritual exercises; Pope gives permission. 1854.
  20 Gregory XIII (1572-1585), September 15, 1582
        Correspondence of Gregory XIII. In Italian. Further study needed to determine subject. Image for this letter located in link in folder three (first image).
  21 Clement VIII (1572-1585),
        Printed Etching of a portrait of Clement VIII. Diagraph and Pantograph by Gavard. No date.
        Correspondence of Clement VIII, May 29, 1601. Further study needed to determine subject. In Italian.
        Correspondence of Clement VIII, May 31, 1602. Further study needed to determine subject. In Italian.
        Printed Etching of the entourage of Clement VIII by Hieronymus Rossi. No date.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Historical Note

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Administrative Information

Related Material

Index Terms

Bibliography

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Papal Autographs, 1578-1865

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