The Renaissance Popes and the Challenges They Faced
Nelson H. Minnich

The Conventional Image of the Renaissance Popes
Petty Italian Princes and Patrons of Culture
Men Lacking Spiritual Qualities
The Renaissance Popes
"Renaissance" Popes: 26 popes (1417-1605)
National Origins: Papal States 7, Ligurian 5, Tuscan 5, Milanese 3, Catalan 2, Venetian 2, Dutch 1, Neapolitan 1
Family background: governmental and legal 6, commerce and banking 6, feudal aristocracy 5, farming and shepherding 4, unclear 4, artisan 1
Educational: legal 13, theology 7, humanities 3, uncertain 3
Clerical status: secular 20, religious 6 [OFM 2, OP 1, Aug Canon 1, Knight of St. John 1, Theatine 1
Average age at election: 56
Average length of reign: c.7 years, [if excluded those brief ones of less than 2 years: 9]
The Overarching Concern of the Popes Was a Restored Papal Monarchy
The Challenge of Conciliarism (Representative Government)
Council of Konstanz (1414-18): Haec Sancta (1415), Frequens (1417)
Council of Basel (1431-49): Sacrosancta (1439), Felix V
Council of Ferrara-Florence-Rome (1438-45): Laetentur coeli and Moyses vir (1439)
Execrabilis (1460) and Andrea Zamometic (1482)
Council of Pisa-Milan-Asti-Lyon (1511-12)
Council of Lateran V (1512-17): Pastor Aeternus (1516)
Council of Trent-Bologna-Trent (1545-63): Benedictus Deus (1564)
The Challenge of the Cardinals (Monarchy Limited by Aristocracy)
Cardinals as Representatives or Advisors – number set at 24 from different regions
Power of Cardinals within Curia and Consistory
Election capitularies to limit papal power
Postquam verus (1586) of Sixtus V setting number of cardinals at 70
Immensa Dei (1588) of Sixtus V setting up system of 15 congregations
The Challenge of Restoring Papal Authority over the Papal States Threatened from Within & Without
Rebellious Communes and Vassals: Malatesta, Cesare Borgia, Bentivogli, d’Este
Expansionistic Neighbors: Peace of Lodi, League of Cambrai
Investiture of papal lands to papal relatives: Borgia, della Rovere, Medici, Farnese
Prohibition on future re-investitures of papal fiefdoms (1567)
The Challenge of a Nationalistic Fragmentation of Latin Christendom
Anti-papal national legislation: Statutes of Provisors and Praemunire (1351-93), Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (1438), Acceptance of Mainz (1439), Act of Supremacy (1534), Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555)
Concordats: Konstanz (1418), Vienna (1448), Bologna (1515/6), Spain (1522)
Resident nuncios and legati a latere
The Challenge of a Crusade (since 1354 Turks in Europe and spreading)
Need for Peace among Christian Princes: Sending Peace Legates
Crusades against the Hussites: 1420, 1421, 1422, 1427, and 1431
Attempts to organize a crusade against Turks: Disaster at Varna (1444), Fall of Constantinople (1453), failed congresses of Mantova (1459) and Rome (1490)
Providing Financial Subsidies, Papal Galleys, and Papal Legates
Series of losses (esp. Mohács 1526), but defenses of Belgrade (1456, but 1520), Rhodes (1480, but 1522), Granada (1492), Vienna (1529), Malta (1565), Lepanto (1571)
“Crusades” against Protestants in Germany and France
The Challenge of Restoring Rome
Secular and Religious Construction and Adornment Projects
Guiding Principles: "Deathbed Speech" of Nicholas V
Notable Projects: Sistine Chapel, Papal Palace, St. Peter's
Liturgy: Choirs, Vestments, Sermons, Ceremonials
Christianizing Culture: Universities (Bologna, Perugia, Rome), Thomism, Vatican Library, humanist secretaries, artistic commissions
The Challenge of Preserving, Reuniting, and Propagating the Faith
Condemning Heresy: Hus (1415), Fraticelli, Sp. Inq. (1478), Pico (1486), Averroists (1513), Protestants (1521, 1546-63)
Reuniting with Eastern Churches: Greeks (1439), Armenians (1439), Copts (1442), Syrians (1444), Maronites (1445, 1517), Chaldeans (1445, 1553), Ethiopians (1514, 1614), Ukrainians (1596)
Granting Patronage Rights to Iberian Rulers over Mission Churches (Portugal 1456; Spain 1493-1508), but Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (1622)
The Challenge of Pietas
The Obligation of Providing for Relatives and Clients
The Abuses of Nepotism, esp. by Sixtus IV, Alexander VI, Leo X, and Paul III
The Challenge of Finance
Growing Demands on Resources yet Limitations on Income
Strategies to Raise New Revenues: Sell New Offices, Knighthoods, Indults, Bonds, etc.
The Challenge of Church Reform
Calls for Limiting Papal Power and Revenues
Need to Silence Critics, Difficulty of Reform, New Priorities
Observant movement in old orders, founding of new orders (Theaitnes, Barnabites, Somascans, Jesuits, Ursulines, Oratorians, Ministers of the Sick, etc.)
Tridentine refoms; Congregation of the Council (1564)
Model Bishops


The Renaissance Popes


Martin V (1368, r.1417-31) Oddo Colonna, Roman, feudal nobility, law, curial official,49 at time of election, 14 year reign

Eugenius IV (c. 1383, r. 1431-47) Gabriele Condulmaro, Venetian, from old popular family, Augustinian canon, nephew of Gregory XII, administrator, 48, 16

[Anti-pope Felix V (1383, r. 1439-49) Amedeo VIII di Savoia, Savoyard, duke and knight-hermit, 58, 10]

Nicholas V (1397, r. 1447-55) Tommaso Parentucelli, Ligurian, from low social family, theologian and humanist, curialist and diplomat, 49, 8

Calixtus III (1378, r. 1455-58) Alfonso Borgia, Valencian, small landowners, JUD, royal secretary and diplomat, rewarded with bishopric and cardinalate, 77, 3

Pius II (1405, r. 1458-64) Enea Silvio Piccolomini, Tuscan, minor and poor nobility, humanist training, secretary, diplomat, 53, 6

Paul II (1417, r. 1464-71) Pietro Barbo, Venetian, wealthy mechant family, nephew of Eugenius IV, trained in business and then in humanities (by Giacobo Riccione and Antonio degli Agli), 47, 7

Sixtus IV (1414, r.1471-84) Francesco della Rovere, Ligurian, poor merchant family, Franciscan, theologian, 57, 13

Innocent VIII (1432, r. 1484-92) Giovanni Battista Cibò, Ligurian, of important government official family, raised in court of Naples where he begot two children before ordination [married off Franceschetto to Maddelana dei Medici], studied in Padua, career in Rome, 52, 8

Alexander VI (1431, r. 1492-1503) Rodrigo Borgia, Valencian, nephew of Calixtus III, legal training at Bologna, curialist and diplomat, illegitimate children, 61, 11

Pius III (1439, r. 1503) Francesco Todeschini-Piccolomini, Tuscan (nephew of Pius II), doctor of law at Perugia, diplomat, 64, one month

Julius II (1443, r. 1503-13) Giuliano della Rovere, Ligurian (nephew of Sixtus IV), poor merchant family, trained by Franciscans at Perugia, diplomat, curialist, 59, 10

Leo X (1475, r. 1513-21) Giovanni dei Medici, Tuscan, banking family, doctor of canon law at Pisa, brother-in-law of Innocent VIII’s son, administrator, 37, 8

Adrian VI (1459, r. 1522-23) Adrian Florenszoon Dedal, Dutch, ship-builder father, theologian, teacher, tutor of future Charles V, administrator, 63, 1.7

Clement VII (1479, r. 1523-34) Giulio dei Medici, Tuscan, first cousin of Leo X and educated with him in canon law at Pisa, knight of St. John, administrator, 44, 10

Paul III (1468, r.1534-49) Alessandro Farnese, Roman, feudal nobility, trained in humanities and law at Pisa, “petticoast cardinal,” illegitimate children, 66, 16

Julius III (1487, r. 1550-55) Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, Roman, father lawyer, legal training at Perugia and Siena, curialist, 63, 5

Marcellus II (1501, r. 1555) Marcello Cervini, Tuscan, son of curial official, trained in humanities in Siena, curialist, diplomat, 54, 1 month

Paul IV (1476, r. 1555-59) Giampietro Carafa, Neapolitan, noble family, trained in humanities and theology, co-founder of Theatines, curialist, 78, 4

Pius IV (1499, r. 1559-65) Giovanni Angelo Medici, Milanese, son of notary, trained in medicine and doctor of law at Bologna, papal official, illegitimate children, 60, 5

Pius V (1504, r. 1566-72), Michele Ghislieri, Milanese, poor shepherd parents, Dominican, trained theology, teacher and inquisitor, 61, 6

Gregory XIII (1502, r. 1572-85), Ugo Boncompagni, Bolognese, merchant father, JUD at Bologna, teacher, illegitimate son before ordination, curialist and diplomat, 70, 12

Sixtus V (1520, r. 1585-90), Felici Peretti, Marchese, son of farmer, Franciscan, theologian, inquisitor, 64, 5

Urban VII (1521, r. 1590), Giambattista Castagna, Genoese, noble father, JUD at Bologna, administrator and diplomat, 69, 12 days

Gregory XIV (1535, r 1590-91), Niccolò Sfondrati, Milanese, father high government official and then cardinal, doctor of law at Pavia, devoted resident bishop of Cremona, 55, 10 months

Innocent IX (1519, r. 1591), Giovanni Antonio Fachinetti, Bolognese, JUD at Bologna, curial official and diplomat, 72, 2 months

Clement VIII (1536, r. 1592-1605), Ippolito Aldobrandini, Romagnolo [Fano], lawyer father, studied law, legal career in Rome, curialist and diplomat, 55, 13


Papal Monarchy: Attempts to Limit It


Scriptural Basis: Leadership of Peter, but he exercised his authority collegially and power was defused (Decisions made by Church in Jerusalem, Paul established elders, various offices, etc. – did Peter’s successors succeed to his position of leadership?
Development of Roman bishop’s authority: one of the five patriarchs (consensus sought among them), leader in the West, claims of special authority by early popes (Leo I, Gelasius, Gregory I), spurious documents giving popes power ([Ecclesiastical Hierarchies of Pseudo-Dionysius], Donation of Constantine, canonical collection of Pseudo-Isidore, etc.), papal crowning of Charlemagne, Investiture Controversy, Decretum of Gratian, Bernard of Clairvaux, Innocent III, Unam Sanctam of Boniface VIII;

Writers on Ecclesiological Themes
Extreme papalists insist that only God and no mortal can judge a pope, citing Leo I
But defenders of papal monarchy generally admit that when a pope falls into heresy or when there is a dispute over who is the real pope, a pope becomes subject to the judgment by the college of cardinal or of a council
Early writer of ecclesiological treatises: Egidio Colonnna da Roma, Jacomo Capocci da Viterbo, and Agostino Triofo d’Ancona
Re-issuing Agostino d’Ancona OESA’s Summa de potestate ecclesiastica (1326), five incunabula printings – pope is vicar of Christ having all power directly from God which he delegates in temporal and spiritual spheres
Dominicans predominate in the field of defenders of papal monarchy; e.g. Leonardo Dati (at Konstanz), Antonino Peruzzi (archbishop of Florence), Juan de Torquemada (at Basel and Florence),Tommaso de Vio (Cajetan, against Pisa and at Lateran V, 1511-12, against Luther 1521), Cyprian Benet (against Pisa, 1512), Silvestro Mazzolini (Prierias, against Luther, 1518), Johannes Tetzel (against Luther, 1518), Ambrogio Catarino Politi (against Luther, 1524)
In early Reformation debates some of the leading Catholic defenders of the papacy were: Augustin von Alfeld OFM (1520), Thomas Murner OFM (1520), Johannes Eck (1520), Cristoforo Marcello (1521), Tommaso Illirico OFM (1523), Johannes Altenstaig (1524), Jakob Latomus (1526), Petrus Pienitz von Forst OP (1528), Alberto Pio (1531), Lodovico Oriano (1533), Reginald Pole (1536), Friedrich Grau (1538), Jacopo Sadoleto (1539), Georg Witzel (1549), Giambattista Nachianti OP (1554), Stanislaw Orzechowski (1558)
Exaltation of papal power in the papal liturgy: the compilation and revision of the papal liturgy into the Rituum ecclesiasticorum sive sacrarum cerimoniarum sacrosanctae Romanae Ecclesiae libri tres (1516) by Agostino Patrizi (d. 1494) and various writings by Paride de Grassi (d. 1528) aimed at emphasizing the majesty and authority of the popes. Art and architecture consciously used to do the same.

Challenge of Councils
Konstanz’s decree Haec Sancta (6.IV.1415) “This holy synod of Konstanz … declares that, legitimately assembled in the Holy Spirit, constituting a general council and representing the Catholic Church militant, it has power immediately from Christ; and that everyone of whatever state or dignity, even papal, is bound to obey it in those matters which pertain to the faith, the eradication of the said schism, and the general reform of the said church of God in head and members.” Was it approved by the whole council or only by the obedience of John XXIII, was it ever approved by Martin V, did Eugenius IV ever approve either it or the decrees of the Council of Basel (e.g., Basel on 26.VI.1434 re-issued Haec Sancta), was it abrogated by the Council of Florence? Was it merely a disciplinary decree valid when there is a schism or was it a doctrinal teaching? Eugenius IV and the Council of Florence in Moyses vir (1439) rejected Basel’s effort in Sacrosancta (1439) to make it a dogma. Lateran V’s implicit effort in Pastor Aeternus (1516) to limit it to a disciplinary decree valid only when there is a dispute as to who it the real pope.
Papal efforts to get control of councils: Martin V’s legates closed the council of Pavia-Siena (1423), Eugenius IV tried to transfer the Council of Basel to Ferrara (1437), Pius II’s Execrabilis (1460) forbad appeals from the decision of a pope to a council, Sixtus IV had Andreas Zamometič OP (d. 1484) imprisoned for attempting to call a council in Basel (1482), Julius II condemned the council called by dissident cardinals and backed by king of France and Emperor in 1511 and worked to destroy it by calling a rival council, Lateran V; Clement VII resisted efforts to call to council to hear the case of Luther; failed efforts of popes to get the Council of Trent to declare papal supremecy.

Challenge of the cardinals
Cardinals see themselves as constituting with the pope the Roman Church and the pope needing their advice and consent on major matters
Representation: do cardinals represent the church? Should they come from the various nations of Christendom? Not have one nation over-represented? Decree of Basel (26.III.1436 Quoniam salus) limiting their number to 24 and have no “nation” with more than a third of the college composed of its citizens, and no city with more than one. [Problem of defining “nation”: nations of the universities? national states? Is Italy one nation or do Genoa, Milan, Venice, Florence, Papal States, Naples, etc each constitute a nation?] Cardinals to be at least 30 years old, learned (with master’s or licentiate or doctor’s degree), of good conduct, and practical experience – very few can be sons, brothers, or nephews of kings or great princes (A-T 501-04). Lateran V (Supernae dispositionis 5.V.1514) tried to regulate their households, care of their titular churches, and conduct in the consistory (A-T 617-21). Trent for the most part left them alone, but implied that they should stop having multiple dioceses, leave Rome, and reside in their single diocese.
Practical problem of a pope inheriting the college of cardinals set up by his predecessors and the cardinals controlling the bureaucracy of the Roman Curia
Problem of election capitularies: agreements worked out in a conclave before proceeding to an election by which all swear to follow what has been agreed on sharing power and wealth once one is elected as pope. Can a pope dispense himself of his oath?
Papal need to diminish the power of the college of cardinals by:
 packing it with his own relatives and clients
 increasing the number of cardinals so that as individuals they have less power and wealth
 win some over by grants of offices and benefices and favors
 threaten with papal disfavor (even imprisonment) if they oppose him too much
 creating a rival college of bishops – rejected at Lateran V (ca. 1516)
 creating the system of congregations (15) in which power is diffused and temporary -- Immensa Dei (1588) of Sixtus V
Problems of loyalty of cardinals: do they give the pope their best advice or do they represent the interests of themselves, their relatives, and clients?
 cardinals come from the leading ruling families of Europe and Italy and are often related to other cardinals through marriages
 cardinals are the official “protectors” of nations and religious orders, charged with protecting or representing their interests
 cardinals do not keep secret what is said in a consistory

Challenge of Christian rulers for leadership in directing the Church in their lands [later lecture]


Renaissance Papal Court and Curia

Distinction between court and curia not always maintained, but in general the court consisted of the pope’s personal (and some essential bureaucratic) entourage; the curia was composed of the bureaucratic administrative offices.

Division into:
Strict / small/ “secret” [private] court: pope’s personal “family”, devoted to his personal, domestic service, followed the pope on the road, appointment ends with death of pope; composed of such officials as writers of papal documents, notaries, sergeants-at-arms, guards, cooks, bakers, waiters in the refectory, stablemen, long-term-guests, honorary officials – some were allowed to have one or more servants.
Common court or “family”: a permanent civil service working to maintain the papal palace and curial administration such as clerics of the Camera (who handled finance), etc.
Recompense: Housing and food; in mid-XIV the “family” cost ca. 25,000 florins per annum, by early XVI almost a million florins per year to maintain; the Venetian ambassador in 1517 estimated that Leo X spent 8 to 9,000 ducats per month on the just the papal refectories (tenelli, major et minor).
Strict family -- given lodgings in papal palace or subsidized housing nearby, fed at the “secret” table
Common family – common table rights, earlier given an allotment of cloth for clothing (twice a year) and forage for horse or mule, but this commuted to payment every two months of a salary with additional income from fees they charged for services rendered in curia; preference in obtaining benefices
Categories of members of family (often divided into those who are “secret” and those “common”
 Domestic prelates: archbishops, bishops, abbots, protonotaries, personal secretaries, papal sacristan, intimate advisers of pope – these are all “secret”
 Chamberlains (camerarii, cubicularii): pope’s constant companions, his official secretaries, handle petitions, e.g., master of the household [keeps things functioning smoothly], master of the hall [dining room], quartermaster [supervises his household and possessions (jewels, clothing, furniture, bedding, linens, food, etc.)], custodians of the papal library
 Chaplains and clerics of the chapel: accompany him at Mass and office, sing the office, some are honorary and do not reside in Rome (in 1378 over 900); musicians and cantors, etc.
 Almoner: distributed alms to the poor daily (coins, food, etc.) and especially on feast days (more generous) – in mid XIV ca, 25,000 florins annually
 Master of the Sacred Palace: often a Dominican, pope’s official theologian, teaches theology in the studium generale Curiae Romanae that grants academic degrees
 Sergeants-at-arms: knights, squires (often nobles), and soldiers who guard pope’s private living quarters, guard entrances, protect him on the road
 Couriers: carried letters and citations, made arrests, cleared the way for the pope, carried on poles in processions the baldachino over his head
 Household servants: butlers, butchers, cooks, bakers of bread, bottlers of wine, caretakers of dishes, dining room waiters, suppliers of water and candles, janitors and sweepers, laundry men, barbers, apothecaries, blacksmiths, stablemen (grooms for saddles and harnesses, valets for care of animals – in 1376 315 animals [palfreys, other horses, mules]), gardeners, keepers of the fish pond, etc.
 Marshall of justice: assisted by judges and sergeants, supervised the prison for courtiers and curial officials found guilty of infractions
 Some curial officials were given “family” status: scribes of the Chancery and Penitentiary officials
Number of members of the papal “family:
1378 – ca. 550, 1514 – ca. 683, greatly reduced under Pius IV

Divided into various bureaucracies:
Sacred Consistory: the College of Cardinals together with the pope. Its power declined over the XV, but it was still consulted on making warfare or appointing new cardinals. Also consulted on major or consistorial appointments of bishops and abbots whose appointment was promoted by a cardinal (for which he received a fee). Cardinals became “protectors” of nations and religious orders by early XVI, palatine cardinals resided in the papal palace and were the pope’s special advisors, special commissions of cardinals were set up to examine a problem and make recommendations

Camera Apostolic: chief department for finance, headed by a camerarius or camerlengo who earlier on was not necessarily a cardinal, but later cardinals predominated; staffed by: a treasurer (kept track of receipts and expenses), secretaries, notaries, couriers, auditors of a tribunal that handled financial cases and had its own prison, clerics of the Camera (four in XIV but seven de numero by 1438 who actively supervised various accounts), etc. The Camera became increasingly responsible for the management of the Papal States, but it also collected annate fees, Peter’s pence, etc. Among its officials were the Thesaurarius generalis Ecclesiae Romanae or papal treasurer, the Depositarius generalis or papal banker, the governor of the City of Rome, etc.

Apostolic Chancery (Cancellaria Apostolica): handled correspondence; it gradually lost its monopoly on issuing papal letters, but retained control over bulls emanating from consistorial decisions. A bull could be issued in the ordinary way through the Chancery with its service fees, or by an extraordinary way by-passing the Chancery and its taxes as was done as a favor for a cardinal or high official and executed by papal secretaries or in the Datary
 Vice-chancellor (who headed the Chancery, the office of Chancellor having disappeared) gradually lost his power to make decisions which were increasingly referred directly to the pope; it was governed by a set of rules (Regulae Cancellariae Apostolicae) periodically issued by popes.
 Protonotarii apostolici (apostolic protonotaries): a college of seven [later twelve] de numero or officio fungentes, plus supernumerariii or participantes (honorary ones). They had the power to create apostolic notaries, to legitimize bastards, to grant doctoral degrees in theology and canon law, and they performed important tasks in the Chancery
 Referendarii (referrers): grouped into a college, varying from 8 to 75 members, they reviewed petitions or supplicationes (assigning them either to the signatura gratiae – asking for a favor such as a dispensation, indulgence, or honor – or to the signatura justitiae – arguing for justice and could be sent to the Rota for resolution; called signatura because they signed the petitions testifying to a papal decision having been made). They read these requests to the pope. Once pope made a decision, the vice-chancellor and a referendarius signed the petition, noting the decision.
 Clerici registri (clerics of the register) copied the signed petition into a register of supplications
 Abbreviatores (abbreviators) produced a document (a concept or minuta) that summarized the facts of the case and the pope’s decision
 Scriptores litterarum apostolicarum (writers of apostolic letters) also called rescribendarii (Sixtus IV established a college of 72) drafted a good copy of the proposed briefs and bulls
 Scribae (scribes) put documents into final form,
 Computator (calculator or accountant) figured out the service fee to be charged
 Auscultator (listener) listened while the bull was read aloud to see if there were any mistakes in its content or form, if a possible problem they alerted the correctores
 Correctores (correctors) checked and corrected bulls for accuracy
 Auditores litterarum contradictarum (judges of contradictory letters) could render decisions as to the meaning of a bull
 Datarius or dator (assignor of the date) put on the document the date of the concession
 Bullatores or Fratres barbati who sealed documents with the lead seal, usually two illiterate Cistercian monks who were unable to read the bulls and thus could not tamper with them
 Magister registri (master of the register) who was responsible for copying the final document into the papal register. He supervised the registarii (Julius II created a college of 101 scriptores archivi) who copied the documents into papal registers,
 Collectores taxae plumbi (Alexander VI established a college of 104), they guarded the sealed bulls until the appropriate persons claimed them and paid the service fees
 Within the chancery was an Audentia litterarum apostolicarum (or tribunal) composed of the sollicitatores litterarum apostolicarum (college of 100 “janissaries” or lawyers and procuratores who oversaw the whole legal process of composing the bull) and the auditores (or judges) who gave official interpretations of contested chancery bulls.
 A tax or service fee was extracted by the college of each office that dealt with the document. Offices were sold and the revenues they collected were divided between those who had purchased the office but did not function in it (usually receiving 10% per year on the cost of the office) and officials who actually did the work who received an additional fee. The datarius determined what percentage of the composition fees should go to the pope – difficult to reform the Datary because so much of papal revenues came from it.

Apostolic Secretariat: detached from the slow Chancery, headed by one or two secretarii domestici, papal secretaries who handled diplomatic correspondence and special favors for cardinals and high officials, staffed by twenty-four scribes in 1487, it sent out nuntii and commissarii on diplomatic missions. The secretaria brevium produced the papal brief (littera brevis) often written by humanists that gave succinct instructions.

Datary: a separate bureaucracy rivaling the chancery grew up in the early XV that handled petitions, getting its name from the official who put the “date” on the document that granted the petition. He expanded his function to oversee petitions, check documents for accuracy, register them, and collect a tax that was reserved for the pope (deposited in the camera secreta) and not shared with the curia.

Penetentiary: handled cases of absolution and lifting of excommunications and interdicts; it could also grant certain privileges and dispensations. The Penitenziere major was a cardinal; the penitenzieri minores were often sixteen to eighteen religious expert in theology and canon law who could hear confession (in foro interno) in foreign languages in the basilicas of St. Peter or St. John Lateran and grant absolution. Scriptores and correctores composed letters testifying to the absolution in foro externo.

Sacred Rota (Audentia causarum apostolici palatii): a tribunal of twelve judges or auditores (established as a college by Sixtus IV in 1472) who heard cases related to benefices that did not require a papal decision – they sat around a round table (hence rota or wheel). These auditores were often eminent lawyers and professors of law who would be promoted to bishop or cardinal as a reward for their services. Each was assisted by four notaries who drew up the necessary legal documents.

Growth in venal offices: under Sixtus IV from 300 to 625, under Julius II to 936, under Leo X an increase to 2, 232, the creation of the Knights of St. Peter, under Hadrian VI a feeble effort to reduce the number of venal offices, under Paul III the creation of the Knights of St. Paul, under Pius IV the creation of the Knights of Pius. Examples of the cost of a curial office: an auditorship in the Camera Apostolica cost 1,000 ducats in 1514; a scriptorship in the Chancery cost 2,700 ducats; an abbreviatorship 1,000 ducats, etc. An office holder could expect about a 10% return annually on his investment. Offices in the government of the city of Rome and Papal States were also sold.


Papal States and Finance

Papal States

Medieval Origins of Papal States: Patrimony of St. Peter originated in a combination of extensive private landed estates (latifundia), usurped Byzantine authority, and protection from Frankish rulers who forced the Lombards in 756 to “restore” to St. Peter such formerly Byzantine Pentapolis cities as Rimini, Ancona, Fano, Pesaro, and Senigallia. In 774 Charlemagne granted to pope large tracts of land: the exarchate of Ravenna, Lombard Tuscany, area south of Rome to the Lini River – under Frankish overlordship. The popes granted away many of these towns and territories to feudal vassals (as counts and rectors). Aristocrats (great Roman families) gained increasing control of church lands and the papal office itself. Ottonian emperors broke their power, imposing imperial taxes and military service. Popes in late XIth granted to Norman princes territories in southern Italy as papal fiefdoms should they conquer them from Muslims. Countess Matilda of Tuscany (d. 1115) deeded to papacy her allodial lands in Tuscany and Lombardy and the county of Ferrara. Innocent II invested Emperor Lothair with these lands in 1133. In early XIIIth the popes got emperors to abandon their imperial claims in central and northern Italy and recognize the popes as independent sovereigns. Popes gained direct control over duchy of Spoleto, March of Ancona (former Pentapolis), Romagna (formerly part of exarchate of Ravenna), and firmer control over the Patrimony of St. Peter to the north of Rome and over Campagna-Marittima to the south of Rome. Popes backed the Angevins as papal vassals in Naples and Sicily.

Avignonese Papacy (1307-76): Papacy settled in Provence, the county of Venaissin had been ceded to papacy in 1229, Avignon purchased in 1348. During the absence of the popes from Rome, local communes and lords sought autonomy. Popes resisted and sought to centralize their control, sending agents to the Papal States. Cardinal Gil Albornoz held two legations there (1353-57, 1358-64) trying to suppress rebellions militarily and negotiating administrative reforms that were incorporated into the Aegidian Constitution (promulgated in1357, in force until 1816). It recognized the petty tyrants as papal vicars for a fixed period of time and forced them to rule in conjunction with a group of legal advisers. Florence in the “War of Eight Saints” (1378) tried to encourage rebellions in territories neighboring it, but failed. During the Great Western Schism, the popes lost out to regionalism and petty tyrants.

Renaissance Papacy: Martin V tried to pacify the Papal States. Subsequent popes tried to gain increasing administrative and financial control of the Papal States.

Administrative Organization of Papal States:

The Apostolic Chamberlain (Camerarius) came to be the chief administrator of the Papal States, enforcing feudal and taxation rights listed in the Liber censuum, e.g., tribute or rent, military service, transport services of lord’s goods and crops, defending and maintaining roads, attending assemblies. Camerarius appointed various local officials.

Provincial system: imposed by Innocent III, divided Papal States into provinces, each ruled by a papal rector and controlled by a papal legate or governor. Rectors provided courts of appeal from communal courts, held provincial assemblies, had a treasurer collect taxes.
Patrimony of St. Peter in Tuscia (Rome, 1434; Viterbo, 1461)
Campagna and Marttima
Umbria (Spoleto, 1228; Perugia, 1540 [conquered in the “salt war and the Baglioni family deposed])
Marches (Pesaro, 1631; Ancona, 1443, 1532 [seized by papal forces and Macerata made the capital]);
Romagna (Bologna, 1512; Imola, 1503; Faenza, 1509; Forli, 1504; Cesena, 1465; Rimini, 1509; Ravenna, 1509)
Semi-autonomous duchies:
Urbino (escheat 1624) [Montefeltro, Della Rovere, Medici, Della Rovere]
Camerino (escheat 1545) [Varano, Borgia, Cibo, Farnese]
Ferrara (escheat 1597) [D’Este]
Parma (papal 1512-15, 1521-45) and Piacenza (papal, 1512-47) – Farnese
Castro (given to Farnese family by Paul III, conquered in 1649)
Modena (papal, 1510-11, 1514-27) – D’Este
Benevento inside Kingdom of Naples (1265-1408, 1458-1774)
Ponte Curvo inside Kingdom of Naples (1463)
Venaissin in Provence, France (1229)
Avignon in Provence, France (1348)

Economy: primarily agriculture (grain, olive oil, wine, livestock), some manufacturing (textiles: woolen at Arpino, silk at Bologna; ceramics at Ascoli; hemp products at Bologna; paper at Fabriano), mining (sulphur at Montefeltro; iron at Narni; alum at Tolfa; salt at Cervia); service of pilgrims and petitioners in Rome

Principal cities: Rome, Bologna, Orvieto, Spoleto, Perugia, Ancona, Ravenna

Ports: Civitavecchia and Ostia on the Tyrrhenian Sea; Ancona, Rimini, and Pesaro on the Adriatic See; goods were ferried up the Tiber River to the Porta Ripa inside the wall or further up the river to the Ripetta opposite and near Castel Sant’Angelo


Papal States: tribute and taxes became increasingly important as the principal source of papal revenue: in 1400 – 25%; 1430 – 50%; 1480 – 60%; 1600 – 80%

Popes received a portion of the composition fees for documents making appointments to church offices: usually a third or half of the annual revenues of a minor benefice reserved by the Apostolic See and worth at least 24 fl.; appointment to bishoprics involved annate taxes listed in Eubel, e.g. some of the wealthiest sees: Winchester 12000; Canterbury 10000; Colgone 10000; Mainz 10000; Trier 10000; Salzburg 10000; Toledo 8000; Liége 7500; Braga 6000; Metz 6000; Toulouse 5000; Gniezno 5000; Compostella 4000; Paris 3500; Lyon 3000; London 3000; Cuenca 3000; Cracow 3000; Condom 2500; Magdeburg 2500; Malaga 2500; Naples 2000; Lisbon 2000; etc. under Leo X in years 1513-18, annate fees came mostly from (in decreasing order) Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Ireland, England, Scandinavia, etc

Sale of cardinalates – e.g. Bandinello dei Sauli paid 25000 ducats in 1511; Francesco Argentino paid 4000 plus resigning offices worth 8000 in 1511; Ferdinand Ponzetti paid 30000 ducats in 1517

Sale of dispensations from canon law-- see list of fees in Emil Goeller, Die Poenitrntiare, II, 141-180, e.g. consanguinity, affinity, illegitimacy, under age, commutation of vows, switching monasteries, apostasy from religious life, non-residency, pluralism, burial rights, murder, simony, fasting, portable altar, etc.

Sale of curial offices
Some examples from list of 1509-12: cost per office, income per year, amounts in ducats, number in parenthesis is the number of officials in that office
Protonotarii participantes (7): 3500 cost, 500 income
Notarius protonotariorum participantium (1): 600 cost, 70 income
Notarii auditoris Camerae (10): 900 cost, 250 income
Notarii auditoris Rotae (?): 1000 cost, 200 income
Clerici camerae (7): 12000 cost, 600 income
Notarii clericorum camerae (9): 2000 cost, 250 income
Secretarii (29): 3500 cost, 450 income
Scriptores apostolici (101): 2500 cost, 200 income (doing no work)
Scriptores brevium (81): 1200 cost, 120 income (if does no work; if he actually writes he gets 4 ducats extra per month)
Corrector bullarum (1 prelatus): 3500 cost, 700 income
Notarius correctoris bullarum (1): 5500 cost, 1200 income
Auditor in audientia litterarum contradictarum (1 prelatus): 3000 cost, 300 income
Procuratores in audientia litterarum contradictarum (13): 1000 cost, 125 income
Notarii in audientia litterarum contradictarum (2): 500 cost, 70 income
Sollicitatores sive Janiceri (101): 1100 cost, 120 income

Sale of civil offices: e.g., Julius II created in 1509 141 Praesidentes Annonae or Praesidentes Ripae who supervised the import of food stuff to Rome, netting him 90000 ducats

Sale of honorific offices that had a pension attached – e.g. , Knights of St. Peter (401 knighthoods) costing 1000 ducats each

Sale of alum – papacy declared a monopoly on this chemical needed to fix dye, discovered in 1462 at Tolfa

Tax on salt mined at Cervia under a papal monopoly

Montes or floating state loans or bonds with an annual interest rate of ca. 10% with collateral based on custom taxes, salt tax, etc.

Indulgences – raised for various purposes: crusade, church building, etc.

Tribute (census payment) and gifts: e.g., Peter’s Pence (annual sum of almost £200) from England; tribute (white horse presented on June 29th annually) from vassal king of Naples (Fernando V and Louis XII)

Rome: Government, Economy

Municipal Setting:

Physical Setting: Rome was located on both banks of the Tiber (Tevere) River, about 15 miles inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, where an island facilitated the construction of bridges. It was spread over seven hills (Capitoline, Quirinal, Viminal, Esquiline, Coelian, Palatine, and Aventine). It was divided into thirteen, then fourteen, civil rioni (regions or districts: Monti [I], Trevi [II], Colonna [III], Campo Marzio [IV], Ponte [V], Parione [VI], Regola [Arenula, VII], S. Eustachio [VIII], Pigna [IX], Campitelli [X], Sant’Angelo [XI]), Ripa [XII], Trastevere [XIII], Borgo [XIV]. The Aurelian walls surrounded the city. Access by land to the city was by the ancient Roman roads: Aurelian, Flaminian, and Cassian from the north, Appian from the south. Most travelers entered the city by way of the Porta del Popolo. The principal streets ran from Porta del Popolo to Piazza Navone (Via Leonina or di Ripetta), from the Porta del Popolo to the Capitoline (Via del Corso or Lata), from the Vatican to the Lateran (Via Papalis), from the Vatican to Trastevere (Via della Lungara), from the Ponte Sant’Angelo to the Ponte Sisto (Via Giulia), and from the Ponte Sant’Angelo to Piazza Navone (Via Recta or Cornari). To protect its imports by sea, the city entered into treaties with Genoa, Pisa, and Naples. The chief seaport was Civitavecchia (38 miles WNW of Rome on the Aurelian Way), Ostia was repeatedly silted up so that large ships could not dock there. Smaller boats ferried goods up the Tiber where they were unloaded at the Ripa Grande (inside the city walls) or at the Ripetta (closer to the center of the city).

Medieval Administration: After the natural demise of the Roman Senate and of the city prefecture in the VIth century, the administration of the city became increasingly the responsibility of the pope. The Byzantine Empire set up the Duchy of Rome under a dux who by the VIIth century assumed responsibility with the pope for the defense, public order, and judiciary of the city. In the VIIIth the pope and duke created an autonomous Roman duchy under the protection of St. Peter and the Church [The Patrimony of St. Peter] and in alliance with the Franks against the Lombards. Eventually the pope replaced the duke as the sole ruler of the city and territory. The local lay military aristocracy struggled to gain some control of the bureaucracy and it frequently supervised in the pope’s name the administration of justice, the military defenses, and the management of the patrimony. In fact the local aristocracy came to dominate the city and patrimony under the leadership of Theophylact and his descendents (early Xth c.) and of the Crescenzi and Tuscolani families (late Xth and early XIth cc.). The Tuscolani placed members of its family on the papal throne and concentrated power in the hands of the pope. Under the Gregorian Reform in the XIth c., the popes became sole rulers of the unified state and replaced local officials with papal ones, the chief officers being the cardinals. A revolt of the aristocracy led to the re-establishment in 1143 of the Roman Senate, an annually elected body of about fifty petty nobility and middle class merchants. By 1145 the Senate had total legislative, financial, and judicial authority in the city. But pressures from the popes and their alliance with the emperor resulted in the loss of autonomy by the Senate. The pope was recognized as supreme ruler and he packed the Senate with members of the higher nobility who had close ties to the pope. Innocent III (1198-1216) appointed the chief urban magistrates. In 1235 the pope recognized the commune’s right of free election to the Senate, of coinage, and imposing a salt tax. Under the leadership of the podestà Brancaleone degli Andalò (1252-55, 56-58), the city government was reorganized with the establishment of the office of captain of the people and of a council containing representatives from the thirteen urban rioni. A parliament allowed the general populace to voice its approval or disapproval of government decisions, and the power of the high nobility was reduced with the destruction of their towers. The communal government asserted rights over neighboring territories for manpower and taxes. In 1278 Nicholas III (Orsini) issued Fundamenta militantis ecclesiae which asserted that all power emanated from the pope (not the people) and gave tighter papal control over the election of senators who cannot be foreign princes or counts but have to be clerical Roman citizens. Pope Honorius IV (d. 1287) made senator for life. Popes chose two vicars or senators from among the high Roman nobility to run the city. By the early XIVth c. the administration of the city was in the hands of two senators of noble origins who functioned as representatives of the pope. Non-Romans were at times chosen and they ruled through vicars chosen from the high Roman nobility. Great instability occurred in Rome during the Avignonese papacy, with rapid changes in governmental structures and personnel -- e.g. in 1312 a captain of the people ruled with a council of 26 Good Men; Robert d’Anjou (king of Naples) made senator and ruled through vicars / viceroys (1314-26, 28-33); a captain of the people ruled with a communal council of 52 citizens (1327-28); Benedict XII (1337-42) and Clement VI (1342-52) were elected senators for life. Cola di Rienzo set up a more democratic form of government in 1347-48 that aimed at breaking the power of the nobles, but the popes sided with the nobles and he was excommunicated. Later restored, Cola resumed authority briefly in 1354 as a papal functionary until killed by the nobles. Cardinal Gil Albornoz set up in 1360 an executive council of seven Roman governors (or Riformatori) and two militias of 1,500 Roman citizens under two Banderesi to keep order. The city statutes of 1363 established the more popular offices. Conservators, elected every three months, controlled revenues; banderesi, leaders of the regional militias, acted as “executors of justice.” Senators, who headed the city government, were no longer local nobles, but were imported from other cities. Upon the return of the popes from Avignon, the government was “reformed.” Urban V abolished the offices of Riformatiori and Banderesi, and set up three Conservatores Camerae Urbis who formed a municipal council with judicial and administrative powers. The pope assumed the power to appoint the senators and other officials. From 1393-98 Conservatores and Banderesi ruled again. But a failed revolt in 1398 gave the pope Boniface IX complete control of the city with the city officials resigning to him full dominion. He abolished the office of Banderesi, placed judges under papal control, and made the senator a papal official who ruled with three Conservatores. The city’s financial administration came under the Camera Apostolica. For brief periods strong men took control: Ladislao of Naples (1408-10, 13-14) and Braccio da Montone (1417). The Palazzo del Senatore on the Capitoline Hill built ca. 1300 on the ruins of the ancient Tabularium was the seat of the city government’s legislative and judicial functions.

Renaissance Administration: Martin V (Ottone Colonna) tried to set up a good administration in Rome, reviving the ancient statutes that set up magistrates for the maintenance, cleanliness, and repair of the streets and public buildings, and for the care of the wells and fountains; the Senator was to be responsible for the ancient monuments and city walls. Martin V sought to repair churches stripped of their wood, lead, stone, ropes, etc. He appointed senators to rule the city. Revolt under Eugenius IV in 1434 restored republican government by seven governors of liberty and the Banderesi. Thereafter popes appointed initially two but then only one senator on an annual basis who ruled the city. Periodic attempts to restore a republican government ultimately failed – e.g., in 1434 a plot of the Colonnas with Nicolò Piccinino and Nicolò Fortebraccio, another plot of 1435, revolt led by Stefano Porcari (executed 1453), attempts of Giunio Pomponio Leto in 1468, and of Pompeo Colonna in 1512 and 1526-27. But basically the popes ran Rome and to assuage the pride of Romans, they redesigned and adorned the Capitoline. In 1447 Nicholas V redid the façade of the Palazzo del Senatore and had constructed to its right the Palazzo dei Conservatores to house the Roman councillors. In 1471 a collection of ancient statuary was donated by Sixtus IV, in the 1520s a library was planned by Clement VII, and in 1536 a total face-lift according to the designs of Michelangelo was ordered by Paul III. A Palazzo Nuovo (with no municipal function, now called the Museo Capitolino) was constructed to mirror the Palazzo dei Conservatores. The bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (transported from the Lateran in 1538) was placed on a pedestal in the center of a geometrically designed convex oval pavement, creating a theatrical piazza. Roman civic officials were reduced to ceremonial roles, their offices buildings to places for elaborate ceremonies. The castellan of Castel Sant’Angelo, appointed by the pope, ran city affairs; the governor of the city (the vice-camerlengo) handled police matters.

Society and Economy:

Social: The population was concentrated in the bend of the river where there was easy access to water. Once aqueducts brought fresh water to public fountains, housing quickly developed around them. In 1400 the population was about 17,000 residents, but a steady stream of pilgrims (ca. 30,000 annually) and petitioners visited the city. Serving their needs were various religious confraternities and establishments (236 in 1526/27) that provided lodgings and food. National pilgrim hostels and churches (German, Bohemian, Hungarian, French, English, Scottish, Swedish, Fleming, Breton, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.) attracted co-nationals, some of whom lived nearby. Jubilee years (every quarter century) could increase the pilgrim population fourfold. The Church’s bureaucracy attracted numerous prelates and bureaucrats, lawyers and bankers and petitioners. Perhaps only a quarter of the city was native, the rest cosmopolitan and mobile. The curia needed people familiar with conditions throughout Christendom, cardinals’ households contained relatives and co-nationals. Fellow countrymen and relatives sought favors and posts from popes: Venetians from Eugenius IV and Paul II; Spaniards from Calixtus III and Alexander VI; Ligurians from Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII, and Julius II; Tuscans from Pius III, Leo X, Clement VII, and Julius III. Within the city of Rome various aristocratic families dominated certain sections by their fortresses, towers, and fortified churches – e.g. Monte Giordano for the Orsini, Dodici Apostoli for the Colonnas. Despite floods, maleria, epidemics, and famine, the city grew to about 35,000 by 1500. Under Leo X there was a building boom and the population in 1527 just prior to the Sack had grown to at least 53,689 (according to a census). The Sack of 1527 and flood of 1530 reduced it to 32,000. Recovery followed and by 1600 the population was more than 90,000.

Economy: The Church was the richest landowner in the region, possessing over a quarter of the land around Rome. The lands around Rome were given to grain, wine, cattle, and sheep production. There was some textile manufacturing, but the city’s economy was principally based on providing services for pilgrims and petitioners. Pilgrims (romei or romapeti) stayed in hostels and inns and purchased food. The bureaucracy of the Church brought in large sums of money, some of it going to curial officials, the rest to the pope (e.g., Boniface VIII in 1300 got ca. 80,000 golden ducats per year). In 1420 Martin V took up residency in the city. Except for a period under Eugenius IV and Pius II and for brief trips by Julius II, Leo X, Clement VII, and Paul III, the popes resided in Rome, initially at the Lateran and then at the Vatican. Curial officials also took up residence in Rome. Major banking houses (“merchants following the Roman Court”) opened headquarters or branch offices in Rome to provide services to curial officials and petitioners and to pilgrims. Import taxes were imposed of goods entering the city (valued at 200,000 ducats in mid-XVth c.): collected by the dogana di terra with its land-customs office at Sant’Eustachio, and by the dogana di Ripa for the port of Rome.

HIST 531A HIST 833A TRS 728L
Fall, 2016