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  • Nuntiaturberichte aus Deutschland nebst ergänzenden Aktenstücken. Dritte Abteilung, 1572–1585. 10. Band: Nuntiaturen des Orazio Malaspina und des Ottavio Santacroce. Interim des Cesare dell’Arena (1578–1581) ed. by Alexander Koller
  • Robert Bireley S.J.
Nuntiaturberichte aus Deutschland nebst ergänzenden Aktenstücken. Dritte Abteilung, 1572–1585. 10. Band: Nuntiaturen des Orazio Malaspina und des Ottavio Santacroce. Interim des Cesare dell’Arena (1578–1581). Alexander Koller. (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 2012. Pp. lxxxviii, 671. $196.00 paperback. ISBN 978-3-11-028710-3.)

This latest volume of the series Nuntiaturberichte aus Deutschland is most welcome. Edited by Alexander Koller, the acting director of the German Historical Institute in Rome, it maintains the high standards of this series so important for our understanding of the Catholic Reform in Germany and beyond. The volume contains the correspondence of Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, who was responsible for the foreign affairs of the Holy See under Pope Gregory XIII (1572–85), with two nuncios at the court of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, Orazio Malaspina, who served from August 29, 1578, until July 4, 1581 (not to be confused with his distant relative, Germanico Malaspina, who served as the first nuncio in Graz starting in 1580 and later in Prague from 1584 to 85), and Ottavio Santacroce, who succeeded Malaspina and died in office on September 3, 1581, as well as of Cesare dell’Arena, secretary at the nuntiature, who carried on the correspondence until the arrival of the new nuncio, Giovanni Bonomi, in mid-December.

Nearly all the documents are found in the Vatican Archives. Altogether there are 147 reports from Malaspina, twenty-four from Santacroce, twelve from Dell’Arena, and three from Campizio Cornuagli (another secretary), as well as 160 instructions from Gallio. The nuncios sent their dispatches regularly each week to Rome. The texts of all the documents are in Italian and published in full apart from the formal greetings [End Page 792] and conclusions. Each document is broken down into numbered paragraphs and is preceded by a summary in German that points to the content of each paragraph. This system facilitates a scan of the volume when one is looking for a particular topic.

Koller provides a clear, extensive introduction to the documents including sharp sketches of the principal figures involved and an outline of papal policies. No serious differences clouded the relationship between the pope and the emperor during the period of Malapina’s nuntiature. He replaced Bartolomeo Portia, who had died after only several months as nuncio at the imperial court in Prague. The Vatican found itself without a well-prepared replacement and may have turned to the inexperienced Malaspina because of his origins near the territory of Borgo Val di Taro not far from Parma. Conflicting feudal claims of the emperor and the pope was a topic frequently addressed in the documents. Little is known of the life of Malaspina before his appointment except that he was a priest of the Diocese of Luni-Sarzana and an apostolic protonotary. His inexperience showed, according to Koller, in hesitation to act without clear direction from Rome and in his inadequate reports, for example, on the projected electoral convention of Nuremberg that never did take place. Emperor Rudolf was ill for much of the second half of Malaspina’s nuntiature, and the nuncio commented regularly on the state of Rudolf’s health. He also regularly informed Gallio about the efforts to dissuade the pious Empress Maria, Rudolf’s mother, from returning to Spain. The pope saw in her a powerful force to bolster Rudolf’s commitment to the Catholic cause in the Empire, and Rudolf himself seems to have wanted her to remain in Prague. But after many delays, she departed for Madrid in late August 1581. The pope also sought to restore the University of Prague as a Catholic institution. These and many other topics come up for treatment in the correspondence. Shortly after his return to Rome, Malaspina was dispatched as an extraordinary nuncio to Paris with the task of preventing war between France and Spain. There he died on January 27, 1582.

In the notes and bibliography of this rich volume one can find...


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