Reviving the Eternal City

Reviving the Eternal City

Elizabeth McCahill
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Reviving the Eternal City
    Book Description:

    In 1420, after more than one hundred years of the Avignon Exile and the Western Schism, the papal court returned to Rome, which had become depopulated, dangerous, and impoverished in the papacy's absence.Reviving the Eternal Cityexamines the culture of Rome and the papal court during the first half of the fifteenth century. As Elizabeth McCahill explains, during these decades Rome and the Curia were caught between conflicting realities--between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, between conciliarism and papalism, between an image of Rome as a restored republic and a dream of the city as a papal capital. Through the testimony of humanists' rhetorical texts and surviving archival materials, McCahill reconstructs the niche that scholars carved for themselves as they penned vivid descriptions of Rome and offered remedies for contemporary social, economic, religious, and political problems. In addition to analyzing the humanists' intellectual and professional program, McCahill investigates the different agendas that popes Martin V (1417-1431) and Eugenius IV (1431-1447) and their cardinals had for the post-Schism pontificate.Reviving the Eternal Cityilluminates an urban environment in transition and explores the ways in which curialists collaborated and competed to develop Rome's ancient legacy into a potent cultural myth.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72615-4
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-xii)
  4. Introduction: Rome ca. 1420
    (pp. 1-17)

    Rome was and is a city of myth, a city whose aura and associations have, time and again, proven larger than her physical reality. From Romulus to Lucretia, from Caesar to Nero, from Constantine to Augustine, from michelangelo to Bernini, from garibaldi to Burckhardt, from mussolini to Fellini and from Russell Crowe to Dan Brown, men (and sometimes women) have fought, painted, sculpted, filmed, described, and ruled the city as something more than a city, as an idea or symbol of grandeur, barbarity, citizenship, Christianity,imperium,and beauty. The city has grown slowly over time, each era and ideal superimposed...

  5. Map
    (pp. 18-19)
  6. 1 Rome’s Third Founder? Martin V, Niccolò Signorili, and Roman Revival, 1420–1431
    (pp. 20-44)

    As the introduction to this book argues, it is possible, in part, to recreate or at least imagine what martin V saw the day he entered Rome as pontiff. It is, however, much more difficult to know how he interpreted what he saw, what the city meant to him. Manetti memorably recorded Nicholas V’s vision of what Rome could and should be, and Pius II left his ownCommentaries,giving his opinion not just on the city but on Italy more generally. Unfortunately, martin and his successor left no such personal responses to the urban center they fought so hard...

  7. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  8. 2 In the Theater of Lies: Curial Humanists on the Benefits and Evils of Courtly Life
    (pp. 45-70)

    If Niccolò Signorili served as a spokesman for martin V’s vision of Rome, what was the role of the humanist scholars whom Martin employed? Did their comparisons of the pope to Romulus have any impact on the Curia or did Martin and his cardinals resist the allure of the new scholarship? The answer is “yes” and “yes.” During the reigns of Martin and his successor, Eugenius IV, the Curia began gradually to accept and adopt the humanist idiom. For example, the 1422 bull that granted Roman citizenship to the Vicenzan scholar Antonio Loschi stated that the presence of Loschi and...

  9. 3 A Reign Subject to Fortune: Guides to Survival at the Court of Eugenius IV
    (pp. 71-96)

    As chapter 2 reveals, more humanist writings survive from the reign of Eugenius IV than from that of Martin V. While some texts explore themes that had been popular among classical scholars since the fourteenth century and among courtiers throughout the Middle Ages, other works comment on the distinctive milieu of the early Quattrocento Curia. In the third book ofDe varietate fortunae,Poggio offers an explicit, thorough, and damning analysis of the Condulmer pontiff’s reign.

    Rarely did the pontificate of another pope bring such great ruin to the provinces of the Roman church and such great calamity to men....

  10. 4 Curial Plans for the Reform of the Church
    (pp. 97-136)

    At one point inDe curiae commodis,the character Angelo da Recanate, a longstanding member of the papal court, asks: “What can be more alien to the curia than religion?”¹ Although the character Lapo comes to the Curia’s defense, Angelo’s rhetorical question reflects contemporary skepticism about the religious mission of the Curia, and this skepticism only increased in the following decades and centuries. The profane nature of the Renaissance papacy is legendary, immortalized by writers like Luther, Erasmus, and machiavelli and more recently reinterpreted in the Showtime series “The Borgias.” Without describing Borgian excess, the first three chapters of this...

  11. 5 Acting as the One True Pope: Eugenius IV and Papal Ceremonial
    (pp. 137-167)

    Even as they condemned the wealth and display of many Quattrocento clerics, Eugenius IV and members of his Curia did not eschew splendor in their public appearances. Instead, they reveled in ceremonial magnificence, such as that characterizing Eugenius’s consecration of Florence’s Duomo (Santa maria del Fiore) on march 25, 1436. In many ways, the period from 1433 to 1436 was the low point of a chronically beleaguered pontificate. Yet none of this weakness appears in giannozzo manetti’s enthusiastic description of the consecration. Manetti says that he will tell of a “parade of papal magnificence, unparalleled in modern times and absolutely...

  12. 6 Eugenius IV, Biondo Flavio, Filarete, and the Rebuilding of Rome
    (pp. 168-198)

    Chapters 4 and 5 explored some of the principal preoccupations of Eugenius IV. A pope who loved splendid ceremony, he was also a zealous reformer, determined to ameliorate the religious life of the clergy. In neither of these chapters does Eugenius appear as a particularly Roman pope, however. His program for Church reform had its origins in Venice’s lagoon, and most of the splendid ceremonies of his pontificate—and, indeed, the majority of that pontificate—occurred in Florence. In contrast, martin V’s ties to the Eternal City are obvious; he was from a Roman clan and responsible for returning the...

  13. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  14. Abbreviations
    (pp. 199-200)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 201-276)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 277-280)
  17. Index
    (pp. 281-288)