The Possessions of a Cardinal: Politics, Piety, and Art, 1450-1700

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Cardinals occupied a unique place in the world of early modern Europe, their distinctive red hats the visible signs not only of impressive careers at the highest rank the pope could bestow, but also of their high social status and political influence on an international scale. Appointed for life, these princes of the Church played a key role in the dramatic events of a period in which both the power and the authority of the papacy were challenged.

Cardinals crossed the ambiguous boundaries then existing between religious and secular power. Granted unparalleled access to Church and private property, they spent considerable time, money, and effort on making the best collections of art and antiquities. Some commissioned artworks in churches that advertised their monastic or national connections, while others took Rome and the papacy abroad to enrich their own cities and countries. But theirs was a precarious dignity: while cardinals could thrive during one papacy, they could suddenly fall from power during the next. The new research represented by the sixteen case studies in The Possessions of a Cardinal reveals how cardinals used their vulnerable position and spent their often substantial wealth on personal and religious interests. As a result, the tensions inherent in their position between the spiritual and the worldly are underscored.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The editors should be congratulated for bringing together such a lively and thought-provoking volume.”

—Jill Burke, University of Edinburgh

“Both informative and engaging.”

—Jacqueline Musacchio, Wellesley College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271034683
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Hollingsworth is an independent scholar and author of several books, including The Cardinal’s Hat: Money, Ambition, and Everyday Life in the Court of a Borgia Prince (2005).

Carol M. Richardson is Lecturer in Art History at the Open University and Associate Dean (Curriculum and Awards) for the University’s Faculty of Arts. She is the author of Reclaiming Rome: Cardinals in the Early Renaissance (1400–1480) (2007).

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments

Notes on Currencies, Weights, and Measures

List of Abbreviations


Mary Hollingsworth and Carol M. Richardson

1. The Renaissance Cardinalate: From Paolo Cortesi’s De cardinalatu to the Present

David S. Chambers

2. Guillaume d’Estouteville’s Italian Journey

Meredith J. Gill

3. Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini (1439–1503), Sant’Eustachio, and the Consorteria Piccolomini

Carol M. Richardson

4. Gabriele Rangone (†1486): The First Observant Franciscan Cardinal and His Chapel in Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome

Roberto Cobianchi

5. Cardinal of Naples and Cardinal in Rome: The Patronage of Oliviero Carafa

Diana Norman

6. Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena (1470–1520): A Palatine Cardinal

Angelica Pediconi

7. “Per havere tutte le opere . . . da monsignor reverendissimo”: Artists Seeking the Favor of Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici

Sheryl Reiss

8. A Taste for Conspicuous Consumption: Cardinal Ippolito d’Este and His Wardrobe, 1555–1566

Mary Hollingsworth

9. Lost in Antiquities: Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici (1543–1562)

Andrea Gáldy

10. The Court of Humility: Carlo Borromeo and the Ritual of Reform

Pamela M. Jones

11. Contrasting Priorities: Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Cardinal and Grand Duke

Suzanne B. Butters

12. Cardinal Virtues: Odoardo Farnese in His Camerino

Opher Mansour

13. Representing an Alternative Empire at the Court of Cardinal Federico Borromeo in Habsburg Milan

Lucy C. Cutler

14. Cardinal Antonio Barberini (1608–1671) and the Politics of Art in Baroque Rome

Karin Wolfe

15. John Casimir Wasa (1609–1672), Cardinal and Prince of Poland: Problems of Precedence and Primogeniture for Innocent X

Susan Russell

16. “É cortesi, erudito, e disinvolto al pari di qualunque altro buon corteggiano”: Cardinal Camillo Massimo (1620–1677) at the Court of Pope Clement X

Lisa Beaven

17. A Cardinal and His Family: The Case of Cardinal Patrizi

David R. Marshall



List of Contributors


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