Giovanni Vitelleschi: ‘Prelato Guerriero’
Giovanni Vitelleschi (c. 1395–1440), archbishop and cardinal, was repeatedly accused of being a soldier rather than a priest. This essay recounts his biography, and especially his military activities in the service of Eugenius IV, upto his fall and imprisonment in 1440, and gives details of his patronage. The most abiding sign of his prominence was the palace he had built in his birth-place Corneto (now Tarquinia) in 1436–1439, whose history suggests that Vitelleschi was an ambitious man. He generated extreme views: Vitelleschi as tyrant, or as liberator, but it is clear that on the spectrum between the sacred and the profane the cardinal comes much closer to the latter, and if he was a friend of the Church it was of the temporal institution.
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