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The Catholic Historical Review 88.4 (2002) 776-778

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Grazer Nuntiatur, 3. Band: Nuntiatur des Girolamo Portia und Korrespondenz des Hans Kobenzl 1592-1595. Edited by Johann Rainer. [Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften: Publikationen des Historischen Instituts beim Österreichischen Kulturinstitut in Rom, II. Abteilung: Quellen, II. Reihe: Nuntiaturberichte.] (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 2001. Pp. xlii, 435. 1722.80 öS paperback.)

This third volume of nunciature reports for Graz impresses once again with the significance of its content and the thoroughness of its scholarship. It makes [End Page 776] clear the importance of Rome for the Catholic Reform and Counter-Reformation in south Germany and especially Inner Austria. No scholar of these movements can ignore the volumes. Earlier volumes appeared in 1973 covering the period from the establishment of the nunciature by Gregory XIII in 1580 to 1582 and in 1981 for the period from 1582 to 1587. All three volumes have been edited by Johann Rainer, who has devoted most of his scholarly career to the relationship between Rome, and the Church in Inner Austria and the court of Graz during this period. No volume will appear for the years 1588 to 1592. Portia's predecessor fled Graz for Görz in 1586 because of the plague. The Graz post then remained vacant until 1592 because, Rainer surmises, of the opposition of Emperor Rudolf II to a permanent nunciature in Graz. As it was, Portia spent most of his first three years as nuncio traveling throughout south Germany and only settled in Graz in 1595, the year that Archduke Ferdinand, the future Emperor Ferdinand II, returned from his studies with the Jesuits in Ingolstadt, soon to assume his personal rule. Portia was to remain as permanent nuncio until 1606.

Scarcely any of Portia's own reports have survived. So of the 331 documents published here most are instructions and letters for Portia from the cardinal secretary of state for Clement VIII during these years, Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini-Passeri, and the nearly weekly letters sent to Rome until his death on August 16, 1594, by Hans Kobenzl, a veteran imperial official who had come to know Aldobrandini in 1588/89, when both were in Poland in an effort to resolve the dispute over the succession there. Kobenzl's reports often dealt with the Turkish front, where war eventually broke out again in 1593. But other documents are found here too, especially Roman correspondence with south German bishops. Several letters of Aldobrandini to Archduchess Maria, Ferdinand's mother, testify to his appreciation of her zeal for the interest of the Church.

Portia's initial instruction dated March 28, 1592, aimed at resolution of the conflict between the duke of Bavaria and the archbishop of Salzburg that threatened Catholic unity. It had to do with jurisdiction over the small ecclesiastical territory of Berchtesgaden. Indeed, Portia's incessant journeys across south Germany from 1592 to 1595, from Eichstätt to Constance, to Innsbruck, to Kempten, to Regensburg, putting out fires and undertaking initiatives, manifested great diligence and zeal in the Church's service, and one cannot also but be impressed by the concern for church reform in Rome's directives. A second initial instruction dated April 13 surveyed the confessional situation in Inner Austria and suggested policies to deal with it: protect ecclesiastical jurisdiction while calling on the ruler's authority to foster religion; encourage the Jesuits and their colleges; attempt to circumvent earlier concessions to heretics by interpretation. Ferdinand's later actions show the impact of these directives. The instruction also urged Portia to attempt to eliminate concubinage among the clergy yet acknowledged that he might have to turn a blind eye to it provisionally when no other priest was available and the incumbent taught sound doctrine.

Most of the texts are in Italian, with some in Latin. Introduction, synopses of each document, and notes are in German. The initial intent was to publish the [End Page 777] nunciature reports for Graz until the closing of the nunciature in 1622. One hopes that...


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