1809-1815 History of Italy 1830-1849

Papal State and Papacy, 1815-1830

The Vienna Congress reestablished the Papal State; only Avignon and the Venaissin, and a small stretch of Ferrarese land on the northern (left) bank of the Po were lost. After Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, and, more importantly for the Papal State, Joachim Murat had been expelled from his Kingdom of Naples, the papal administration could resume (1815).
The abolition of local and regional privileges, which had safeguarded century-old self-administration, by the French, was approved by the new papal administration as an act of providence (Montuproprio 1816). The papal administration was composed following the principle that the higher posts had to be filled by clergymen; due to the lack of local self-administration, the popes' rule was less restricted than ever, a period of Papal Absolutism.
Pope Pius VII. ruled until 1823 (his chief minister Enrico Consalvi died in 1824). Leo XII. (Annibale Count Genga, 1823-1829) and Pius VIII. (Francesco Saverio Castiglioni, 1829-1830) followed. Leo XII. attempted to improve the finances of the Papal State.
Like their compatriots in other parts of Italy, the inhabitants of the Papal State had experienced the liberties granted under the French administration which, to a large extent, were withheld from them by the papal administration. Radical groups aiming at the introduction of liberal reforms, be it by the use of violence, the Carbonari, organized them, in the Papal State as elsewhere in Italy. An attempt of an armed rebellion failed in 1817. Popes Pius VII. (1823) and Leo XII. (1825) condemned the Carbonari. Several of them were sentenced to death, a few others to lifelong hard labour, several hundred to life under police supervision. The Carbonari resorted to politically motivated assassinations, c. 30 within the decade.
The administration of the Papal State, both in her foreign and domestic policy, failed to distinguish radical and moderate liberalism, and bedevilled the entire movement. Liberal Revolutions in Sicily (1820), Spain (1820), Piemont (1821) only increased her fear. An organization utterly opposed to liberalism and willing to use violence against real as well as suspected liberals, the Sanfedisti, emerged.
Under Leo XII., the situation in the Papal State deteriorated because the successors of Enrico Consalvi, rather than acting diplomatically, by imposing harsh sentences on numerous offenders, stirred up emotions. Among the 'crimes' severely punished was the violation of the rule not to eat meat on Fridays. The opposition stated the Papal State to be extraordinarily backward, opposed to any novelty.
An 1824 educational reform established 2 first rank universities (Rome, Bologna) and 5 second rank universities in the Papal State. Regulations again forced the Jews (emancipated under the French) to reside in the ghetto.
Antonio Rosmini Serbati (1797-1855) developed a Christian philosophy, aiming to reconcile the church with the modern world; from his institute in Rovereto (Austrian Tyrol) he corresponded with Ercole Consalvi, and he met Pius VII. in 1823, who encouraged him to proceed. On the other hand, Joseph Count Maistre published "Du Pape" in 1819, a book in which he gloryfied the papacy and advocated papal absolutism.
A coup d'etat, which, on Dec. 10th 1830, was to proclaim Jerome Bonaparte, son of the former King of Westphalia, as King of Rome, was uncovered and prevented.

Foreign Policy. After having received international recognition at the Vienna Congress, the papal administration concluded a number of concordates, with Bavaria (1817), Sardinia-Piemont (1817), France (1817, which basically restated the one of 1516), the Two Sicilies (1818), Prussia (1821), the Upper Rhine provinces (1821/1827), Hannover (1824), the Netherlands (1827), Switzerland (1828), Oldenburg (1830). were arranged. A temporary setback was the 1820 liberal revolution in Spain; the Jesuits, which as a legitimate order had been restored by Pius VII. in 1814, were again expelled, monasteries dissolved. French troops suppressed the revolution and restored the previous conditions (April 1823). In 1827 the ecclesiastic organization of South America was reorganized, following the independence of the formerly Spanish colonies there - a step which was regarded an affront by the Spanish government, for it did not recognize the South American republics yet.

Biography of Ercole Consalvi, Papal State statesman under Pius VI. and Pius VII., from Catholic Encyclopedia, from BBKL, in German; from EB 1911
Biography of Antonio Rosmini, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 edition
Biography of Joseph-Marie Count Maistre, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition
Biography of Leo XII., from Papal Library
Article Concordat, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition
Lo Stato Pontifico - La Congiura di Macerata, from Cronologia, in Italian
Lo Stato Pontifico 1820-1830, from Cronologia, in Italian
Article Kirchenstaat 1797-1848 (Papal State 1797-1848), from Meyers Konversationslexikon 1888-1889, in German
DOCUMENTS Rosmini in English, from Rosmini House
Encyclical of Pope Leo XII., Ubi Primum, 1824, Quod hoc ineunte, 1824, Charitate Christi, 1825, posted by 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]
Ang. Jos. Nürnberger, Papsttum und Kirchenstaat 1800-1870 (Papacy and Papal State 1800-1870), 3 Vol.s, Mainz 1897-1900, in German [G]

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First posted on August 31st 2002, last revised on March 28th 2006

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