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In sermons, letters, speeches, and treatises, rhetoricians at the court of Pope Leo X (1513-1521) evoked the “res publica Christiana” to assert papal authority, call for a crusade, pray for political unity, and combat the threat of Martin Luther. Reference to the “res publica Christiana” combined the authority of the high medieval papacy and the aura of Roman antiquity. Drawing on Pietro Galatino’s De re publica Christiana, the ceremonial texts of Paris de’ Grassi, and the orations and letters of Jacopo Sadoleto and Pietro Bembo, Elizabeth McCahill will examine the ways in which, in the absence of more tangible economic and military assets, curial publicists used rhetoric to insist on the papacy’s leadership role. The paper will argue that close attention to this term and its employment elucidates the curial conception of the Church and its role at the beginning of the Reformation.  

Elizabeth McCahill
is Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She completed her PhD at Princeton and was awarded a fellowship by the American Academy in Rome. Her first book examined Roman humanism in the early fifteenth century, and she is now studying the pontificate of Leo X (1513-1521).

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking is required.