- Clemente VIII e il Sacro Collegio 1592–1605: Meccanismi istituzionali ed accentramento di governo
In this beautifully produced volume Maria Teresa Fattori has provided an exhaustive study of the relationship between Ippolito Aldobrandini (Pope Clement VIII) and the College of Cardinals during his thirteen-year administration. She has carefully mined the Archivio Segreto Vaticano, the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, and the archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in her research, begun as a doctoral project at the University of Pisa. Fattori filled nearly four hundred pages with detailed analysis of the operations of the Roman curia amid fascinating events: the tricky reconciliation of Henri IV, King of France, the diplomatically complex transfer of the city of Ferrara back under papal control, and the continuing implementation of the decrees of the Council of Trent. Fattori has delivered a major contribution to the religious and political history of early modern Italy.
After the brief chapter 1 introduction outlining the life and pontificate of Clement VIII, Fattori divides the pages here into somewhat, chronologically, focused chapters. One is wholly devoted to curial negotiations in the first three [End Page 152] years (1592-95) of the pontificate that were associated with the reconciliation of Henri IV to the Roman Church. This chapter is followed by one centered on the recovery of Ferrara, an action played out in the next four years (1595-98), and one with diplomatic, territorial, and ecclesiastical repercussions. The third topical chapter covers papal-curial interaction on benefices, but over the entire course of Clement's pontificate. Chapter 5 analyzes descriptions of the office of cardinal composed between 1541 and 1591. The final chapter traces the declining in-fluence of the cardinal consistory as the second half of the Aldobrandini administration wore on to a close. In these chapters, Fattori provides a study of the role — especially the declining political role — of the College of Cardinals. Cardinal status and influence were always affected by a number of factors: individual connections with territorial princes, their economic resources, and the organization of the curia itself. Fattori found, however, that during the Aldobrandini era the power of cardinals waned as the congregations replaced the consistory, and as administrators this pope relied upon — such as Cardinal Guido Antonio Santori, and Clement's own cardinal nephew, Pietro — subverted the influence of national groups of cardinals. It is curious that either Fattori or the series editors decided against including a formal conclusion in a work of this scope and depth.
Fattori delivers, nonetheless, lots of information about both Clement and his college. We learn that Clement was quite adept at dissimulation. He maintained an outward intransigence in public pronouncements concerning the heresy of Henri IV, but simultaneously encouraged a diplomatic solution in the interest of larger concerns. While insisting on the application of Tridentine reformation, he did not substantially modify practice on the awarding of benefices, or on exemptions from the rule concerning episcopal residence. We learn that the influence of cardinals in the consistory over the day-to-day operations of the curia was undoubtedly reduced. But we are also reminded of several other things: that the process of reduction began long before, and that not all cardinals experienced a loss of influence. For some it was enhanced, for most it was reduced in scope, and for all it was restructured through the cardinal congregations. This change occurred during a papacy in which the central power of the papacy was expanded but surely did not become absolute. In short, the domestication of the College of Cardinals was limited and not uniform, while centralization of the religious and political authority of the papacy was a complicated matter that often affected differently persons of outwardly equal status. Such complications are exactly what scholars like Fattori have uncovered in detailed studies such as the one under review. And no matter how the limit of their influence on daily operations is defined, the cardinals...