Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Two Hundred Fifty-fifth Pope: Pius IX - 2 comments

We've reached the photographic era of Popes!

Pius' election was a shocker: he was a dark horse in a heated contest between two strong liberal and conservative parties among the Cardinals. In fact, Prince Metternich of the Austrian Empire actually vetoed the election, but his messenger arrived too late to stop it.

As Pope, Pius swung from extreme liberalism (like freeing all political prisoners) to extreme conservatism (denouncing Communism and the Press). His most important actions were involved in the final loss of the Papal States.

We haven't talked much about the Papal States, so let's do a quick overview. The Church's rising power in the eighth century helped her defend Rome from attacking European forces, which created a sort of de facto territory centered on Rome. This was legitimized in further treaties, then expanded by the Donation of Pippin and concretized by the church's relationship with the newly-created Holy Roman Empire. The Papal States were a good-sized swath of the Italian Peninsula, and over the next millennium they competed with other neighboring italian states for political and economic sovereignty.

In the early nineteenth century Italian nationalism was growing, largely in reaction to France's constant efforts to conquer it. When we join Pius IX, he's faced with revolutionaries inside the Papal States who want to join a unified Italy, threats of domination from the Austrian Hapsburgs, and offers of support from Napoleon III of France. At one point he was cornered by a mob of revolutionaries, and had to escape in disguise. He raised a volunteer army, gathering fighting catholics from all over the world to aid his efforts.

For ten years Pius tried to balance these forces and retain his temporal power, but in September 1870 Rome was finally seized, and Italy was unified. The Pope was given the Vatican, but without the diplomatic and sovereign powers he holds today.


Anonymous Anonymous said... your explanation of the papal state thing...

Pippin... as in the guy in the Musical, Pippin?

Thursday, 12 July, 2007  
Blogger matt kirkland said...

Well, you know, he was also called Pepin. They weren't very rigorous spellers back in 756.

Thursday, 12 July, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home