The Pontificate of Clement VII

History, Politics, Culture
Editor(s): 
Gouwens, Kenneth
Editor(s): 
Reiss, Sheryl E.
ISBN: 
0754606805
Date published: 
March 2005
Hardback
Pages: 
0

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.