The Catholic Historical Review 88.4 (2002) 772-773
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Spanish Rome, 1500-1700. By Thomas James Dandelet. (New Haven: Yale University Press. 2001. Pp. x, 278. $35.00.)
Strong in original material if weak in broader context, this remains an important book about a recurring historical topic, the relations between the Spanish empire and Rome, that has previously lacked a focused study. Its strengths lie in its depiction of Roman life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the waxing and waning of the Spanish population in Rome, and the treatment of Rome in Spanish literature and imagination. It is solid on the presence of Spaniards among the Roman clergy, from the obvious like Ignatius Loyola, to the many others who served and preached. It catalogues the cardinals who enjoyed Spanish benefices and pensions for themselves and their kin and supported the interests of the Spanish monarchy. The chapter on piety makes good use of bequests in wills and treats well the concern of Spaniards from kings to commoners for the canonization of their countrymen, such as St. Theresa of Ávila. But in describing the canonization of Diego of Alcalá, the author's seeming effort to appear matter-of-fact leaves the case looking slightly ridiculous.
It is in matters of high policy and statecraft that the weaknesses appear, above all on the Spanish side. While the use of Avvisi from the Vatican archives imparts a sense of immediacy to personalities, aims, policies, and events, they are not always reliable, especially when it comes to interpretation. To the author, the relations of Spanish kings and Roman pontiffs seem less tense than they do to most scholars. Materials from Spanish archives have been mined, though the limited selection leads to a tunnel vision that, had better secondary [End Page 772] sources been consulted, could easily have been avoided. The citation of documents falls short: few are dated, though folio numbers are provided when available. It would certainly have helped if he gave dates or other indicators to unfoliated documents. (While the Spanish Archive at Simancas is catching up, documents I had photocopied from "Estado Roma" in 1971 did lack folio numbers.) A date would certainly have helped for one document the author quotes (p. 74) from Simancas (AGS, Estado, Roma, leg. 924, unfoliated), from Philip II to Gregory XIII, probably 1574, about what seem to be annual military costs. While the author provides a note on currency at the beginning, in quoting this source he alternates between "gold ducats" and "gold escudos," with costs mentioned for the Mediterranean fleet and the like about right. But the preposterous figure of "25 million" for Flanders should have stopped the author's eye, if he knows anything about Philip's military expenditures, which recent studies have made clear. The "25 million" for the costs of Flanders would only have been about right for the eight-year spread 1567-1574, if Philip II had reckoned them in florins (a currency the author does not mention but in which costs in the Low Countries were often estimated), but not "25 million" ducats or escudos a year as implied.
Nor does the author know most of his Spaniards. He has Don Juan de Zúñiga as Comendador of Castile in 1568 when Zúñiga only acquired that status in 1576 on the death of his brother Don Luis de Requeséns. The author does not note that these two important Spanish emissaries to Rome were brothers, nor how personally close they had been to Philip II since boyhood. He gives only three mentions to Cardinal Granvelle, Philip's steady adviser on Roman matters from 1565 till 1579. He introduces the duke of Lerma (p. 103) but does not explain him or his importance. He does not follow through on the land holdings of Roman nobles in the kingdom of Naples, which gave the Spanish kings powerful leverage in influencing them. He does not treat the withdrawal after 1600 of the Medici grand dukes of Tuscany and the Farnese dukes of Parma from the Spanish camp, nor the Mantuan Succession question in...