From Ostentation to Moderation? Debates on a prelate's wealth and expenditure in the late sixteenth century in Rome

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From Ostentation to Moderation? Debates on a prelate's wealth and expenditure in the late sixteenth century in Rome

Type: Research master thesis
Title: From Ostentation to Moderation? Debates on a prelate's wealth and expenditure in the late sixteenth century in Rome
Author: Papatola, Christiana Maria
Issue Date: 2019-02-28
Keywords: Renaissance
Italy
Cardinals
Reformation
Wealth
Expenditure
Abstract: In the sixteenth century, Rome embarked its most sumptuous epoch, and with it, hosted splendid building projects initiated by the church and the papal court, which ranged from sacred spaces to profane architecture. Display of property and wealth became the crucial factor for success among the curial members, who advertised their rank and prestige through such display. However, the papal court and its extensive exploitation of imperial Rome, its achievements and its foundation for the glory of Renaissance Rome and the Catholic Church soon encountered disapproval. The removal from the modest life of Christ and his Apostles but also from spiritual concerns, the increasing paganism and the profligacy, all became major threats for the Roman Curia by the beginning of the sixteenth century. Criticism came from various sides. Humanists turned against the common practices of the church. Protestant reformers raised their voices, but judgement also came from within the own ranks, the Catholic clerics. The critics attacked not only the church’s religious and spiritual programme, but, by that, its secular conduct and its outward. The papal court and its worldliness, grandeur and excessive expenditures were only some of the indicators that triggered criticism and prompted a re-assessment of the role of the pope and his court by the sixteenth century. However, the clergy’s commissions were flourishing, serving not only to embellish the cityscape of Rome and its surroundings, but enhancing the cardinals’ social status. It is striking that at around 1550–1570 (the peak of reformatory criticism) it appears that the most sumptuous and monumental properties of such kinds belonged to the clergy. And that to such an extent that not even the aristocratic Roman families had the means to compete with the high level of expenditure and patronage of cardinals from papal and noble families. It thus remains thus crucial to explore how the Catholic Church and thus the clergy justified wealth, excessive expenditure—for both ecclesiastical and secular purposes—especially by the eve of Reformation and how those (apparent) discrepancies between lush lifestyles and ecclesiastical renovation were perceived among the curia or how they were broadcasted and towards a larger audience.
Supervisor: Grasman, Dr. EdwardBussels, Prof.dr. Stijn
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Arts and Culture (Research master)
ECTS Credits: 25
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/68874
 

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