1758-1789 History of Italy 1799-1809

Papal State and Papacy, 1789-1799

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, Pope Pius VI. (1775-1799, civilian name Gianangelo Count Braschi) occupied Saint Peter's throne. In the encyclical Caritas, quae docente Paulo of April 13th 1791 he comdemned the civil constitution of the clergy and suspended all those clergymen who had taken the oath on that civil constitution, as made mandatory by the French National Assembly. France responded by occupying Avignon and the Venaissin, territories located on the banks of the Rhone, belonging to the Papal State since the late middle ages, and surrounded by France. After a plebiscite was held, both were annexed into France.
The majority of the French clergymen refused to take the oath; they were deprived of their income and ten thousands left the country. The papal administration tried to take care of them.
In December 1792, the French National Convention called upon the pope to restore the Roman Republic. In January 1793 Hugo Basseville, the secretary of the French legation walked through the city of Rome wearing a coquarde, he was attacked by the mob; he died shortly afterward of his wounds. Poet Vincenzo Monti, a republican, pictured the event in the epic Bassvilliana, published in 1793.
By 1796 the war, which the coalition had carried into France in order to extinguish the revolution, had spilled into Italy. Napoleon's troops occupied the northern parts of the Papal State, without meeting resistance. In a truce, Pope Pius VI. had to cede Bologna and Ferrara, had to pay a heavy indemnity and had to hand over certain art treasures kept in Rome. The Pope concluded an alliance with Austria and Two Sicilies, only to see another invasion of the Papal State. In the Treaty of Tolentino Feb. 19th 1797, the pope had, in addition, to cede the Avignon and the Venaissin, Bologna, Ferrara and the Romagna (which was proclaimed the Anconitan Republic), to pay an even higher indemnity and to hand over more art treasures.
On Dec. 28th 1797 a crowd assembled in Rome, in front of the residence of the French ambassador, Jerome Bonaparte. The crowd proclaimed the republic, and, headed by French General Duphot (coincidentally the fiance of Desiree Clary), started moving; they were pushed back onto the ground of the ambassador's residence by the Papal State militia; here, General Duphot was killed.
France responded by invading the ramainder of the Papal State (Feb. 10th); Rome was occupied on Feb. 15th, Pope Pius VI. fled to Siena February 20th; he was declared deposed and the Roman Republic proclaimed March 20th 1798. The Anconitan Republic was dissolved, incorporated into the Roman Republic.
Pope Pius VI. was arrested and deported to Florence; in 1799, when the forces of the 2nd Coalition entered Italy, he was deported across the Alps into France; here, the octagenarian died on Aug. 29th 1799 in Valence. After the landing of Russian forces in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, French forces evacuated the Roman Republic in September 1799. Neapolitan forces occupied the Castello St.Angelo.

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
Biography of Pius VI., from Catholic Encyclopedia
Biography of Vincenzo Monti, from Columbia Encyclopedia, from Casa Monti, in Italian
Article Comtat Venaissin, from infoplease
Article Kirchenstaat 1797-1848 (Papal State 1797-1848), from Meyers Konversationslexikon 1888-1889, in German
DOCUMENTS Flag of the Anconitan Republic, Roman Republic, from FOTW
Scan of Treaty of Tolentino, art.26, from Tolentino Online
Encyclical of Pope Pius VI, on the civil constitution of the clergy (1791, Caritas, quae docente Paulo), posted by EWTN
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]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on August 30th 2002, last revised on March 28th 2006

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