1700-1730 History of Italy 1758-1789

Papal State and Papacy, 1730-1758

In 1730, Pope Clement XII. (-1740, Lorenzo Corsini), 78 years of age and almost blind, succeeded Benedict XIII. At the time he assumed office, papal influence in international affairs was at a record low. In 1731 and again in 1735, the powers disposed of Parma and Piacenza ignoring papal sovereignty. The new Bourbon administration in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies (since 1734) pursued a policy toward the papacy characterized as hostile. Still, in 1737 a Concordat was signed with the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
In 1740, Clement XII. died; ge was succeeded by Benedict XIV. (-1758, Prospero Lambertini). He first recognized Charles Albert of Wittelsbach who was elected Emperor in 1742; when he died, Benedict XIV. did not favour any candidate. He then proceeded to recognize Francis I. both as Emperor and as Grand Duke of Tuscany (which he was since 1737). During his rule, new Concordats were signed with Two Sicilies (1741), with Spain (1753), the latter granting the Spanish king considerable authority over the Spanish clergy. The King of Portugal was granted a similar position.
In domestic policy, Clement XII. had had Nicola Coscia placed under trial, a favourite of his predecessor who had abused his connections to illegitimately acquire riches. Benedict XIV. reduced the expenses of the papal court and of the administration as well as of the papal forces, and by these measures improved the Papal State's financial situation. In general affairs, he condemned duels (1742) and secret societies (freemasons).

Biography of Clement XII., from Papal Library; from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition
Biography of Benedict XIV., from Papal Library; from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907 edition
Article Concordat, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition
DOCUMENTS Encyclicals of Benedict XIV., Clement XII., from Papal Encyclicals Online
REFERENCE Book Reviews : Papal State, from History Book Reviews

Franz Xaver Seppelt, Georg Schwaiger, Geschichte der Päpste (History of the Popes), München : Kösel 1964, 572 pp., in German [G]

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First posted on September 2nd 2002, last revised on March 29th 2006

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