Introduction to A Companion to the Early Modern Cardinal

Book chapter


Hollingsworth, Mary, Pattenden, Miles and Witte, Arnold. (2020). Introduction to A Companion to the Early Modern Cardinal. In In Bellitto, Christopher M. (Ed.). A companion to the early modern cardinal pp. 1-6 Koninklijke Brill NV. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004415447_002
AuthorsHollingsworth, Mary, Pattenden, Miles and Witte, Arnold
EditorsBellitto, Christopher M.
Abstract

[Extract] This book presents the first comprehensive overview of the figure of the cardinal in the early modern period in English or any language. Recent publications offering such discussion of cardinals have appeared for the Middle Ages and for the 19th and 20th centuries.1 However, during the centuries covered by this volume being a cardinal represented much more than what is suggested by the modern definition of the concept – namely, membership of the Sacred College, a role in the papal election, and the function of counsellor within ecclesiastical government. The cardinal’s tasks and his distinctly-specified duties increased steadily from the papacy’s return to Rome in 1420 – certainly in comparison with the medieval period – and they diminished only during the 19th century under the pressures of Italian unification. And yet the best overview of the early modern cardinal we currently have remains Massimo Firpo’s essay in Eugenio Garin’s collection on Renaissance Characterswritten over thirty years ago.2 The present work aims to move beyond Firpo’s largely anecdotal approach, and also beyond the now commonplace biographical studies of the College’s individual members, to consider what we can learn about cardinals and their activities in general. Our project has brought together a team of international scholars who offer a broad range of opinions and insights from different disciplines and on the basis of different historiographical approaches. Most chapters share a prosopographical approach: they study certain aspects of the lives of a group of cardinals not as signs of individuality but as collective traits within the group’s dynamics.3 However, each chapter also tries to explain both the common characteristics of the “typical” cardinal, and the changes occurring within this body of “senators of the Church,” especially their functions within and beyond the institution. Collectively, the chapters aim to provide an outline of the cardinals’ historiography and to offer signposts on how we can get past the biographical paradigm. We hope that this makes a persuasive case for reconsidering the cardinal’s historical importance.

Page range1-6
Year2020
Book titleA companion to the early modern cardinal
PublisherKoninklijke Brill NV
Place of publicationLeiden, The Netherlands
SeriesBrill's companions to the Christian tradition ; volume 91
ISBN9789004310964
9789004415447
ISSN1871-6377
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004415447_002
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All rights reserved
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Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online30 Dec 2019
Print09 Jan 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited06 Apr 2022
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