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The Catholic Historical Review 87.4 (2001) 733-735

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Book Review

Die Kanoniker von S. Giovanni in Laterano und S. Maria Maggiore im 14. Jahrhundert: Eine Prosopographie

Die Kanoniker von S. Giovanni in Laterano und S. Maria Maggiore im 14. Jahrhundert: Eine Prosopographie. By Andreas Rehberg. [Bibliothek des deutschen historischen Instituts in Rom, Band 89.] (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. 1999. Pp. viii, 565. 162.00 DM.)

Andreas Rehberg's study of the canons of S. Giovanni in Laterano and S. Maria Maggiore grew out of the author's interest in the Colonna and their use of ecclesiastical benefices as a tool for maintaining their position as one of Rome's most powerful families.1 Rehberg's work on the Colonna called his attention to the basilicas of S. Giovanni in Laterno and S. Maria Maggiore, where the Colonna competed with other baronial families for control. As Rehberg is [End Page 733] careful to point out, this study of S. Giovanni and S. Maria is not a history of the two basilicas. Rather it is a prosopography primarily aimed at illuminating the way in which baronial families used benefices to exercise power in Rome through clientage networks. Given the competition among Roman aristocratic families for access to the wealth and prestige that these basilicas afforded, this prosopographical study of S. Giovanni and S. Maria offers an important contribution to the growing body of literature on the social and economic structure of fourteenth-century Rome. This study will be useful to historians interested in the place of urban collegiate churches in the political and social landscape of the Italian city-states as well.

By supplementing the relatively small proportion of fourteenth-century documents that have survived from the archives of S. Giovanni and S. Maria Maggiore with information from papal registers, notarial protocols, inscriptions, and other sources, Rehberg has compiled a wealth of information concerning 325 people (174 for S. Giovanni and 151 for S. Maria) who either held benefices or were candidates for prebends in the two basilicas. This information is presented in two distinct sections of the book. Part One is a social history of the two chapters during the fourteenth century. Part Two presents the data upon which the social history in the first section is based. It begins with the actual prosopographical study, which contains biographical information for each of the above-mentioned 325 canons and candidates. Following the prosopographical section are charts and graphs based on the prosopographical study. In addition to providing an overview of the social composition of both chapters, the charts highlight the importance of papal provisions, client networks, social status, and provenance in gaining ecclesiastical benefices.

Rehberg discusses the social history of the two basilicas in terms of four social groups: barons, the old aristocracy (nobilies mediocres), the new aristocracy and popolani (largely those who became members of the ruling elite during the mid-late fourteenth century), and foreigners (non-Romans). Three developments shaped the relations between these four social groups and the basilicas of S. Giovanni and S. Maria. First, in 1299 Pope Boniface VIII changed the relation between S. Giovanni and Rome's ruling elite when he removed the basilica's regular canons and replaced them with secular canons. Before 1299 the regulated lifestyle of the common life had scared away the sons of the nobility. The abolition of the common life opened the chapter to rivalries among the urban elite. Although S. Maria remained a chapter of regular canons, it became a prey to urban rivalries as well. The second important development was the emergence of papal provisions, or the right of the papacy to assign benefices, which reached its culmination during the fourteenth century. Approximately two-thirds of the canons in both basilicas received their benefices from papal provisions. Finally, the popolani revolution in Rome marks the third important [End Page 734] development that shaped the history of both chapters. In 1360 the popolo excluded baronial families from participation in communal government. While the old aristocracy was not...


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