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The Papal State as Portrayed by 19th Century Encyclopedias :
A Backward State : The Papal State 1815-1848


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Hyun Kyu
Term Paper, AP European History Class, June 2009



Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. The Limitations
III. History
III.1 Re-establishment of the Papal State (1815-1823)
III.2 Leo XII., Pius VIII., Gregory XVI. (1823-1846)
III.3 Pius IX. (1846-1848)
III.4 Aftermath
IV. Backwardness
IV.1 Economy
IV.2 Government
IV.3 Education
V. Conclusion
VI. Notes
VII. Bibliography



I. Introduction
            19th century had just endured to large revolutions - the American and the French revolution. The last one especially had taken a toll in Europe. There was a wave of nationalism and liberalism sweeping throughout Europe and threatening old institutions. Authoritarian fragmented kingdoms and corpulent empires were under threat from civilians who tasted freedom through the French revolution. New technology was spreading, and trade was facilitated by paper money and developments in transportation. The old order was reinstated by the Vienna Congress, but it would not last long. Papal State was one of the old institutions that had been done away with the French Revolution but reinstated through the Congress. This paper will attempt to observe how this state went against not only against the economical, political, and education trend of the time. This paper will be in two parts. The first part will attempt to give a brief overview of the history during the time which will be chiefly centered on political history. The Second part will try to show how the state was backward using the descriptions encyclopedias from the contemporaries as the main source and examining other countries when necessary.


II. The Limitations
            This paper attempts to examine the Papal State from its reformation through the Vienna Congress and until 1848 when the second Roman Republic was reinstated. This time period is chosen because this is the time when the Popes were the true power of the state. The period before of the first Roman Republic was more of a part of a French State. Although the Papal rule was restored after the second Roman Republic, it was severely crippled and already in a period of decline and integration into Unified Italy.
            This paper uses a majority of information from the encyclopedias which may or may not contain bias. Especially, the second part of this paper will rely heavily on the Encyclopedia¡¯s description to judge the backwardness of the Papal State. Although the encyclopedias may not be perfect, I believe that they have enough neutrality to be used, especially since both are German encyclopedias which need to satisfy both Catholic and Protestant buyers. In case there is a liberal bias in those encyclopedias, I have also added accounts from the Catholic Encyclopedia and BBKL. Also, in case of doubt, I have attempted to compare concrete facts between other regions or countries, which would serve to add more neutrality to the issue.

III. History III.1 Re-establishment of the Papal State (1815-1823)
            After the French revolution, various forces controlled the Papal state. The French first called it the Roman Republic, than King Murat of Naples would rename it the Papal State. However, the popes were mostly in exile or in prison during these times. However, the Congress of Vienna of 1815 finally returned the Papal State back in the hands of the Pope for a lasting time. The Papal State went relatively unchanged, at least in terms of territory through the Congress. The Papal State retained most of its territory except for a small part of the Ferrera land left of the Po River to Austria and, Avignon and Venaissin (which were not mentioned by the treaty) to French. The loss of the latter two state caused the Pope to protest (1), but accepted the treaty in the end.
            Under Pope Pius VII and chief Minister Enrico Consalvi, the Papal State rolled back from the liberal institutions that had been installed during the times of French occupation. Consalvi tried to make welfare better for the Papal State, but as he abolished both good and bad institutions (2), he had limited success (3). However, this does not mean that the Papal State did away with all French remaining. The French abolition of regional and local privileges was not abolished, as it kept the power of the Pope strong.
            However, some inhabitants of the Papal State was not happy with the restriction of liberties that they enjoyed under the French and formed the Carbonari (4). This rather radical group wanted a turnback to the liberal government and succeeded in 30 political assassinations (5). They had an attempt of an armed revolt at 1817, which led to state condemning and persecuting them. The Sanfedesti (6) were formed as an organization against all liberalism ideals, equally willing to use force.

III.2 Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI (1823-1846)
            These two popes tried to go back to the old days, but were met with frustration. Pope Leo XII did abolish some improvements such as putting Jews back to ghettos, but cut the taxes by 9,000,000 scudis (7) and created 7 universities. Pius VIII also abolished some improvements, but he raised heavy taxes (8). Their years were characterized by worsening social unrest, discovery of Carbonai plots, and minor revolts in. Rules like not eating meat on Friday was punished severely (9), worsening both internal and external relations. This general dissatisfaction and anger continued. The rule of Gregory XVI started with revolts in Bologna which quickly spread to other regions. As all classes of society were not happy, the revolts were not easy to put down. There was even a republican government set up in Bologna, but this revolt was finally put down only next year with the combination of papal and Austrian troops (10). Pope Gregory did implement some liberal policies, such as opening posts in the administration to layman (11), appointing knights based on merits, and implementing the steam railroad (after an initial opposition.) (12) However, in large, his rule was just as illiberal and restricting as his two predecessors,

III.3 Pius IX (1846-1848) (13)
            Pius IX seemed like a liberal when he entered the post. He introduced a new censorship law which was much more liberal than one before. He also granted general amnesty for political crimes since 1831 (14). Ministerial and State Council was created, increasing the power of non-cardinals (15). Citizen was allowed to create a militia, replacing Sanfedesti which was the de facto civilian militia. This liberal tendency however, was not appreciated by Metternich and other European nations and this brought strong anti-Austrian sentiment across the country, Metternich responded by actually putting more troops into papal territory. Pope Pius IX protested this movement, and although it did nothing, he made himself a national hero. This made him actually the central figure for the Italian unification movement- a role that he rejected himself (16). However, the protest was the last popular action he did.
            To drive out the Austrians, he made concessions (17) (Austrian made concessions too (18), but this fact was conveniently ignored by the public.) There was a huge protest against this, and this time the protests had its desired effects : it brought more government reforms. Cabinet ministers were now 3 cardinals and 6 non-cardinals. Councils were created with 2 chairs appointed by the pope and 24 members selected by the pope but recommended by the people (19). The only problem was that on the first speech made by the pope on the council was that the pope discounted this council (20).
            At 1848 April, he gave General Durando power to negotiate about and an Italian Confederation, but General Durando used this power to wage war against Austria. Pope distanced himself from what Durando did, which was unpopular to the public, and even his cabinet resigned. This led (again) to a widespread demonstration, and this time, the pope could not suppress the revolution. By November 24th the pope fled Rome to Gaeta.

III.4 Aftermath
            The radicals took over the government quickly and established a republican government after having a temporary governmental junta. The pope protested almost monthly, and even threatened with excommunication with anyone who participated in the elections, but nobody listened to him in the end (21). The second?Roman Republic was made in a few months. Other Europeans powers, afraid of another liberal regime, planned an invasion. French, Spanish, and Neapolitan troops entered, and with the Austrian forces, the new Republican government quickly was demolished. The four foreign armies declared on July 14th that the papal rule was reinstated. Pope Pius IX returned to Rome on April 12th 1850, but his powers already have been severely crippled. The Papal States became slowly integrated into Unified Italy, losing Romagna in 1860, Umbria and the Marches a year later, before being fully integrated in 1870.

IV. Backwardness
            The Papal State¡¯s backwardness can be demonstrated in three different trends. The first is the economic trend. The economic status of the Papal State was of a bad state, and the main reason of it was the lack of advanced economic system that other countries already had in place and were running full time. In the primary, secondary, or the tertiary sector, the Papal States lacked far behind other European nations. The government, through many reforms, got better, but still was very backward as it was the only theocracy still remaining in Europe. Lastly, the 19th century saw the population surge in education, but Papal States proved to be an exception to the rule.
            In this part of the paper, I will use three different kinds sources for commentary. The first source is Brockhaus Damen-Conversations-Lexikon 1837-1841 and Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865, German Encyclopedias which have a liberal bias. The second is the Catholic encyclopedia 1907-1914 will have the opposite bias. The third source I will use is the Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL, recent), which will be the more neutral of the two. Due to the amount available on the web, the majority of the opinion will come from Brockhaus Damen-Conversations-Lexikon and Pierer's Universal-Lexikon, with the Catholic Encyclopedia and BBKL serving as counterweights.

IV.1 Economy
            Firstly, there was no stable currency. Silver coins were in scarce, and the country printed off way too much paper money in order to pay for its debts. Although this problem exacerbated after the rise and fall of the second Roman Republic, the problem of paper money that could not be redeemed nor guaranteed was a definite factor that inhibited the growth of the economy. This lack of a stable currency also discouraged trade (22). Merchants could only be paid in paper money which could not be guaranteed, which gave them little incentive to trade. Printing silver coins which had some value could have been a solution, but the majority of the coins were copper, which did not help the problem. Compared to other countries around Europe, this was clearly backward. England adopted the gold currency in 1717.
            The first sector was the most developed sector of the three sectors, yet it was backward and had many rooms for improvement. The mining industry, for example, had much excellent deposit but the state had little care for it. The lands are supposed to produce best alum, marble, and other materials, yet the industry itself is largely neglected (23). The agricultural industry was also backward in two ways. First way is its land use. The land is fertile and is ripe for many different kind of food, but most of the land goes uncultivated (24). Some lands are industriously cultivated (25). , but there are vast fertile lands which are simply not used. Secondly, the land ownership is dominated by few rich people (26). This dominance of land by few rich lords is definitely a remainder from the old days which were beginning to get abolished. Timber industry also produces quality products but is not well taken care of (27). In a few words, the Papal States had the good land for the first sector to develop, but is backward that they do not utilize the lands.
            The second and the third sector were at similar, if not worse condition. The second sector, the industrial sector is described as of ¡°little importance.¡± (28) Of the third sector, trade is considered ¡°negligible.¡± (29) The railroads are also described as ¡°backward.¡± (30) The three industries mentioned above are the industries that many European countries put an emphasis on developing. They believed that those three industries were the key to developing a successful economy. Germany had over 5000kms of railroad and Great Britain boasted over 9000 km by 1850 (31). Papal States had 21km by 1859. Trade was booming throughout the 19the century, and the industrial revolution had spread to Belgium and other nations, but the Papal States had no factories to boast of. Papal States can be considered a backward state because although the rest of the world was developing industry facilitating trade, making railroads, the Papal States did not put up much effort.
            The Catholic Encyclopedia fails to put up much defense against the claim that the Papal State had a ruined financial system. Over 7 articles ( Pope Pius VII, Ercole Consalvi, Pope Leo XII, Pope Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Luigi Lambruschini, Pope Pius IX) There are only two mentions of ¡°financial reforms,¡± and none of them are elaborated. However, there is one industry that the Papal System did excel in, and it is the sericulture industry. Popes enriched the library (32), built cathedrals, and encouraged masters to work (33). All the popes encouraged art, and although it was an industry only for the privileged. BBKL mentions that the financial system was ¡°wrecked¡± (34) and there were no real attempts to reform it. So from the three sources, we can infer that the Papal Economy was backward.

IV.2 Government
            Government was another reason that the Papal States can be considered a backward political entity. The trend in Europe was to separate the Church and the State. The wave of Napoleon had strictly embedded the thinking that the Church should not intervene in politics. However, the Papal State¡¯s sovereign, by law, had to be a cardinal. The majority of the important seats were also by law only allowed to Cardinals. Although reforms changed this rule somehow, the Pope, a cardinal still held the largest power. Even at the zenith of the reform, the people still only had the power to recommend a certain number of candidates. The Pope still had the final say. Observing other European countries, we can observe that this is a backward trend. February Revolution of France also instituted the separation of Church and State. Spain, a devout catholic country, expelled the Jesuits in 1820 and 1835. The strong religious sentiment in the government clearly shows that there is a clear backwardness.
            Catholic Encyclopedias, on the contrast, devote lots of space and time for Pope Pius VII and Ercole Consalvi is painted as a liberal who maintained the Napoleonic policies of abolishing feudal rights of the nobility suppressing and the ancient privileges of the municipalities (35). They are also written to have persecute the Carbonari, (36) the reactionaries. The catholic Encyclopedia admits the illiberal tendencies of other popes like Leo XII and Gregory XVI, but states that they still had a ¡°noble character¡± (37) and were trying to keep the power of the Papal see. The encyclopedia regards Pius IX as a pope who did not believe in liberal politics, but nevertheless carried them out because it was the will of the people (38). He is supposed to have lost power because there were revolutionaries who would have stopped at nothing but a revolution anyway.
            BBKL remains surprising quiet at this, though this could be because of the inadequacy of the translation. We can observe that while 19th century German dictionaries attack the Papal state for being illiberal, while the Catholic Encyclopedia tries to defend the policies of the popes, emphasizing their liberal tendencies.

IV.3 Education
            Last, but not the least, education is another field where the Papal States can be considered a backward state. The education is described to be on a ¡°very low¡± level (39). There are 2 first rank,5 second rank, and 21 collegia for secondary education (40). There is also some upper class education in the two largest cities, but the vast majority of the population is illiterate. Only 20% of the population is literate (41), and there is no seminary for school teachers. France, for example, established lycees under Napoleon, which was kept even after the revolution and all residents of France received at least 6 years of education (42). As a result, the literacy rate of France was 70% in 1831-1835 and was rapidly increasing.
            Again, the Catholic Encyclopedia remains quiet. Again, in the 7 articles, there are only one mention of it during Pope Pius VII¡¯s regime. It is as follows, ¡°reorganized the system of education.¡± (43) This lack of detail admits the lack of interest that the Papal State took on education.

V. Conclusion
            The tide of the 19th century was undeniably liberalism, nationalism, and development of technology. Until the Roman Republic really implemented serious reforms and Sardinia started to combine parts of the country into its own liberal nation, the Papal States were undoubtedly one of the most illiberal states. The history of the Papal States of the era is quite repentant. Popes pounced upon liberalism and tried to suppress. Riots occurred. Popes satisfied them by promising reforms, but no true reforms really came. Few years later, the Popes tries to repress them once again. While this was going on, the economy and the education system had barely evolved from 17th century. The government was as it was a few decades ago, only with minor changes. It also was an impediment to nationalism. However, the evidence from the Catholic Encyclopedia suggests otherwise. The Papal State was a fair one, although illiberal at times, but largely just striving to stay intact. Considering the evidence from the (recent) neutral BBKL and the lack of evidence on the Catholic encyclopedia, it is safe to infer that the encyclopedias of the time describe the state in negative terms, and acknowledging these sources to be the voice of their time, the Papal State can be considered to be a backward state from 1815 to 1848.


VII. Notes

(1)      Pierer 1857
(2)      ibid.
(3)      ibid.
(4)      WHKMLA
(5)      ibid.
(6)      ibid.
(7)      Pierer 1857
(8)      ibid.
(9)      WHKMLA
(10)      Pierer 1857
(11)      WHKMLA
(12)      Pierer 1857
(13)      Pope Pius IX ruled much longer than two years, but I am only concerning the time before the Roman Republic, so the numbers maybe misleading
(14)      Pierer 1857
(15)      WHKMLA
(16)      ibid.
(17)      Pierer 1857
(18)      ibid.
(19)      ibid.
(20)      ibid.
(21)      ibid.
(22)      ibid.
(23)      Brockhaus 1837
(24)      ibid.
(25)      Pierer 1857
(26)      Brockhaus 1837
(27)      ibid.
(28)      ibid.
(29)      Pierer 1857
(30)      ibid.
(31)      ¡°Railroads in 19th Century Europe : Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia¡±
(32)      Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Pius VII
(33)      Catholic Encyclopedia: Leo XII
(34)      Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, Gregor XVI
(35)      Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Pius VII
(36)      ibid.
(37)      Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Leo XII
(38)      Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Pius IX
(39)      Brockhaus 1837
(40)      ibid.
(41)      ibid.
(42)      ¡°The History of Secondary Education in 19th Century France¡±
(43)      Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope Pius VII


VII. Bibliography

Note : websites quoted below were visited in June 2009.

Primary Sources

1.      Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865, Article : Kirchenstaat (II), posted by Zeno, translated into English on WHKMLA http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/italy/pstenc19.html
2.      Brockhaus Damen-Conversations-Lexikon 1834-1837, Article : Kirchenstaat posted by Zeno, translated into English on WHKMLA http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/italy/pstenc19.html
3.      Catholic Encyclopedia 1907-1914 edition, Article Pius VII, posted by New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12132a.htm
4.      Catholic Encyclopedia, Article Ercole Consalvi, posted by New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04262a.htm
6.      Catholic Encyclopedia, Article Leo XII, posted by New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09167a.htm
7.      Catholic Encyclopedia, Article Pius VIII, posted by New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12134a.htm
8.      Catholic Encyclopedia, Article Luigi Lambruschini, posted by New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08760b.htm
9.      Catholic Encyclopedia, Article Pius IX, posted by New Advent, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12134b.htm
10.     Catholic Encyclopedia, Article Gregory XVI, posted by New Advent http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07006a.htm

Secondary Sources

11.     History of the Papal State, by Alexander Ganse, WHKMLA, First posted on August 29th 2002, last revised on June 4th 2009, http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/italy/xpapalstate.html
12.     ¡°Railroads in 19th Century Europe : Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia¡±, by Sungjik Cha, May 2008, Posted on WHKMLA http://www.zum.de/whkmla/sp/0910/csj/csj1.html
13.     ¡°The History of Secondary Education in 19th Century France¡±, by Eunsoo Lee, November 2008, Posted on WHKMLA, http://www.zum.de/whkmla/sp/1011/nb/les1.html
14.     Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), Article : Gregor XVI.



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