1st Edition

The Pontificate of Clement VII History, Politics, Culture

By Sheryl E. Reiss, Kenneth Gouwens Copyright 2005

    The pontificate of Clement VII (Giulio de' Medici) is usually regarded as amongst the most disastrous in history, and the pontiff characterized as timid, vacillating, and avaricious. It was during his years as pope (1523-34) that England broke away from the Catholic Church, and relations with the Holy Roman Emperor deteriorated to such a degree that in 1527 an Imperial army sacked Rome and imprisoned the pontiff. Given these spectacular political and military failures, it is perhaps unsurprising that Clement has often elicited the scorn of historians, rather than balanced and dispassionate analysis. This interdisciplinary volume, the first on the subject, constitutes a major step forward in our understanding of Clement VII's pontificate. Looking beyond Clement's well-known failures, and anachronistic comparisons with more 'successful' popes, it provides a fascinating insight into one of the most pivotal periods of papal and European history. Drawing on long-neglected sources, as rich as they are abundant, the contributors address a wide variety of important aspects of Clement's pontificate, re-assessing his character, familial and personal relations, political strategies, and cultural patronage, as well as exploring broader issues including the impact of the Sack of Rome, and religious renewal and reform in the pre-Tridentine period. Taken together, the essays collected here provide the most expansive and nuanced portrayal yet offered of Clement as pope, patron, and politician. In reconsidering the politics and emphasizing the cultural vitality of the period, the collection provides fresh and much-needed revision to our understanding of Clement VII's pontificate and its critical impact on the history of the papacy and Renaissance Europe.

    Contents: Introduction: Clement and calamity: the case for re-evaluation, Kenneth Gouwens. Part 1 History, Politics and Humanism: Character, Politics and Family: Guicciardini, Giovio, and the character of Clement VII, T.C. Price Zimmermann; The 'disastrous' pontificate of Clement VII: disastrous for Giulio de' Medici?, Barbara McClung Hallman; All in the family: the Medici women and Pope Clement VII, Natalie Tomas; The conspiracy of 1522 against Cardinal Giulio de' Medici: Machiavelli and 'gli esempli delli antiqui', Patricia J. Osmond; The Sack of Rome and its Aftermath: Clement VII and Francesco Maria Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, Cecil H. Clough; Clement VII and the Sack of Rome as represented in the Ephemerides Historicae of Cornelius de Fine, Ivana Ait; Rome during the sack: chronicles and testimonies from an occupied city, Anna Esposito and Manuel Vaquero Piñeiro; The papal court in exile: Clement VII in Orvieto, 1527-28, Anne Reynolds; Resynthesis: The place of Clement VII and Clementine Rome in Renaissance history, Charles L. Stinger. Part 2 Patronage, Cultural Production and Reform: Clement VII as Patron: Clement VII and Michelangelo: an anatomy of patronage, William E. Wallace; Michelangelo and the Clementine architectural style, Caroline Elam; Clement VII and the Golden Age of the papal choir, Richard Sherr; Artists, Musicians and Literati In Clementine Rome: Competition, collaboration, and specialization in the Roman art world, 1520-27, Linda Wolk-Simon; Papal tastes and musical genres: Francesco da Milano 'Il Divino' (1497-1543) and the Clementine aesthetic, Victor Anand Coelho; Seeking patronage under the Medici popes: a tale of two humanists, Julia Haig Gaisser; Antiquity Revived and Renovatio in Religion and Art: Augustan Mediterranean iconography and Renaissance hieroglyphics at the court of Clement VII: Sebastiano del Piombo's Portrait of Andrea Doria, George L. Gorse (appendix 2 by Naomi Sawelson); Adrian VI, Clement VII, and art, Sheryl E.


    Kenneth Gouwens is Associate Professor in the Department of History, University of Connecticut, USA and Sheryl E. Reiss is Senior Research Associate in the Office of the Vice-Provost for Research, Cornell University, USA.

    'This collection of essays [...] is something of a milestone in the study of Clement VII's pontificate.' The Burlington Magazine ’A succinct and useful introduction by the editors reflects a judicious editorial hand, which has given us this valuable collection on the state of the field.’ The Historian ’This collection fills a much-needed void in modern scholarship on Clement, his papacy, and Rome under the second Medici pope. The essays gathered here represent the work of some of the best scholars active today in their respective fields. It is a testament to both the quality of these essays as well as to the ground-breaking nature of a number of them that the reader will come away not only with a much more profound understanding of the Clementine era but also with a deep appreciation for the myriad questions that still need to be answered before we can begin to take the full measure of the pontificate of Clement VII.’ The Catholic Historical Review