Entering a Clerical Career at the Roman Curia, 1458-1471: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Entering a Clerical Career at the Roman Curia, 1458-1471

1st Edition

By Kirsi Salonen, Jussi Hanska


310 pages

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Building on recent revisionist histories of the quality and ability of the late medieval clergy, this is a comprehensive survey of the ordinations of priests at the Roman curia during the pontificates of Pius II (1458-1464) and Paul II (1464-1471). This period has often been presented as one of stasis within the Catholic Church, falling between the conciliar movement of the first half of the fifteenth century and the Protestant Reformation and counter-reformation of the sixteenth century. However the authors argue that this period was one of gradual reform, whereby the Church attempted to define and control the quality of the clergy. The study analyses archival documentation to reconstruct exactly how young men entered a clerical career, and also what influence practices at the curia had on wider clerical ordinations. The book concentrates especially on the role of the Apostolic Penitentiary in controlling the quality of priest candidates and on the role of Camera Apostolica in carrying out ecclesiastical ordinations in the papal curia. In considering the rules of who could enter the clerical career, and also why and how these rules might be circumvented, this book sheds new light on the late medieval clergy.


'Salonen and Hanska have written a very meticulous, well argued case for the state of the Catholic Church in the fifteenth century, pre-Reformation era. The most engaging sections are the particular case studies and the presentation of possible arguments for how and why the postulant requested certain absolutions. Fascinating and expertly argued.' Catholic Books Review '[Salonen and Hanska] meticulously explain the statutory prescription, the competence and the function of the respective offices as well as the procedure that had to be observed by the petitioners, and provide relevant source quotations in Latin with an English translation… May both authors provide us with more such high-quality studies. An index of persons and places concludes this sound book.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History '… an important study of the impact of papal institutions on clerical careers in the mid-fifteenth century.' Speculum 'This is an important book that takes an intriguing approach to discerning the quality of clergymen in fifteenth-century Europe, a question that has been debated since the fifteenth century itself.' European History Quarterly

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part I Shortcuts to an Ecclesiastical Career: The Roman curia and defining the quality of medieval clergy; Illegitimate children striving for an ecclesiastical career; The Apostolic penitentiary and ordinations; The granting of graces in the penitentiary; The penitentiary and the quality of candidates for an ecclesiastical career. Part II A Disorderly Process Lacking Dignity? Ordinations in the Papal Curia During the Pontificate of Paul II (1464-71): The process; The significance of the ordinations at the Roman curia; Why Rome?; Conclusions; Sources and bibliography; Indexes.

About the Authors

Kirsi Salonen is Tenure Track Professor in Medieval and Early Modern History in the School of History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Turku, Finland and external lecturer of Medieval History at the University of Tampere, Finland. Jussi Hanska is external lecturer of Medieval History at the University of Tampere and of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

About the Series

Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West

Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West

The series Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West reflects the central concerns necessary for any in-depth study of the medieval Church - greater cultural awareness and interdisciplinarity. Including both monographs and edited collections, this series draws on the most innovative work from established and younger scholars alike, offering a balance of interests, vertically through the period from c.400 to c.1500 or horizontally across Latin Christendom. Topics covered range from cultural history, the monastic life, relations between Church and State to law and ritual, palaeography and textual transmission. All authors, from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, share a commitment to innovation, analysis and historical accuracy.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Ancient / General