1789-1799 History of Italy 1809-1815

Papal State and Papacy, 1799-1809

The Roman Republic In the Second War of the Coalition, a Russian army landed in northern Italy, and the French were pushed back. Neapolitan troops occupied Rome (late 1799), Austrian troops the northern stretches of the former Papal State.
In accordance with a ruling established by the deceased Pope Pius VI., a conclave to elect his successor was held outside Rome, in Venice, under Austrian protection (Dec. 1st 1799 - March 1st 1800); Barnaba Luigi Count Chiaramonti, Bishop of Imola (in the Subalpine Republic) was elected; he took on the name Pius VII. (1800-1823).
While his diocesis had been occupied by the French in 1797, instead of fleeing, the bishop had preached that good christians would make good democrats; a speech characterized as Jacobinian by Napoleon Bonaparte. While not being able to prevent the confiscation of church property and the introduction of French-style reforms, Bishop Chiaramonti had saved the Catholic church in Piemont from sharing the fate of the French Catholic church - that of complete dissolution.
The Battle of Marengo (June 14th 1800) again gave Napoleon Bonaparte the upper hand in northern Italy. Rather than restoring the Roman Republic, he recognized the Pope and his claim to the Papal State in the borders delimited by the Treaty of Tolentino. Pope Pius VII. entered Rome on Jult 3rd 1800. He proclaimed a policy of strict neutrality; the Papal State separated Napoleonic northern Italy from the Bourbon Kingdom of Two Sicilies. Formally, the Papal State was restored by the Treaty of Luneville (1801). Ercole Consalvi, who had been secretary of the conclave in Venice, became the chief administrator of the Papal State.
On July 15th 1801 the Concordat with France was signed; in it, France recognized Catholicism as the majority religion in France, but not as state religion. The church organization of France in her borders of 1801 was reorganized; the bishops had to take the oath on the civil constitution of the clergy (which Pius VI. had rejected); the pope recognized the confiscation of those church properties already sold off, the remainder was returned. In return, the Papal State in her borders of 1797 received recognition.

The confiscation of church property, the introduction of a Gallican church constitution, the secularization of ecclesiastic statelets was carried by French armies and French diplomatic pressure into the Holy Roman Empire (1803), which herself got dissolved. The pope, powerless to prevent it, even travelled to Paris to participate in Napoleon Bonaparte's coronation as Emperor of France.
Instead of gaining concessions he had hoped for, he was confronted with the suggestion to take up his residence in Avignon or Paris. Pius VII. refused to divorce Jerome Bonaparte and his American wife Elizabeth Patterson (1805), further contributing to a worsening relation with Napoleon. In 1805, Ancona again was occupied by French troops. After the victorious Battle of Austerlitz (Dec. 2nd 1805) Napoleon decided to make his brother Joseph King of Naples; the Papal State enclaves in Neapolitan territory, Pontecorvo and Benevent, were turned into Duchies for French dignitaries. French troops, allegedly merely passing through in order to occupy Naples (1806), established French control.
Pope Pius VII. refused to accept the situation, but there was little he could do. Napoleon finally was fed up with the stubborn refusal of the pope to accept the changes he had implemented. In February 1808 he demanded of the Pope to enter into an alliance with France against the United Kingdom and to subsidize the French army; upon the papal refusal, he decreed a number of Papal State provinces (Urbino, Ancona, Macerata etc.) to be integrated into the Kingdom of italy (April 7th 1808); on May 17th 1809 Napoleon decreed the annexation of the remainder of the Papal State into France. Pope Pius VII., as a French prisoner, was taken to Fontainebleau.

Biography of Ercole Consalvi, Papal State statesman under Pius VI. and Pius VII., from Catholic Encyclopedia, from BBKL, in German; from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition
Napoleon's Coronation as Emperor of France, from Napoleon Pages on Georgian Index
Article Kirchenstaat 1797-1848 (Papal State 1797-1848), from Meyers Konversationslexikon 1888-1889, in German
DOCUMENTS J.L. David, Consecration of Emperor Napoleon I..., from artchive
James Gillray, the Great Coronation Procession of Napoleon, 1805 cartoon, from boondocksnet
Documents upon Napoleon and the Reorganization of Religion, from Napoleon Series
Documents upon the Annexations of 1809-1810, from Napoleon Series
Concordat, from Napoleon Series
Treaty of Luneville, 1801, from Napoleon Series
Encyclical of Pope Pius VII., Diu Satis, 1800, from Papal Library
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 August 30th 2002, last revised on March 28th 2006

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