Britain and the Papacy in the Age of Revolution, 1846-1851
From the time of the Reformation Anglo-Vatican relations have typically been seen as a long history of unending antagonism and mutual suspicion, but this has not always been the case. This book sheds light on one of the most curious episodes in early Victorian history when, around the time of the 1848 revolutions in Europe, a 'rapprochement' almost developed between Britain and the papacy, and British politicians and writers referred to the new head of the Catholic Church, Pius IX, as 'the good pope'. Integrating diplomatic, political, ecclesiastical and social history, Saho Matsumoto-Best traces the factors that brought these two traditionally hostile powers together and the reasons why this 'rapprochement' was doomed to failure. She demonstrates how the desire to support constitutional government in Italy and to curb the activities of the Irish Catholic church led the government of Lord John Russell to build a close relationship with Pius IX, and how failure to understand the Vatican's priorities and anti-papal and anti-Catholic feeling in Britain, particularly in the context of the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in 1850, eventually destroyed this policy. This study is an important and original contribution to the current debate about the nature of mid nineteenth century-Britain and sheds new light on the British role in Italian unification. It will also be of great interest to students of nineteenth-century European international and ecclesiastical history, and of the 1848 revolutions.
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