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Senators or courtiers: negotiating models for the College of Cardinals under Julius II and Leo X

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The early sixteenth century marked the intensification of papal efforts to transform the papacy from a senatorial model, with a cooperative relationship between the pope and cardinals, into a court. Using ecclesiastical ritual, Popes Julius II and Leo X constructed a courtly environment in which the College of Cardinals was a silent but visible supporter of the papacy, rather than a group of vocal political counsellors. The written work of the papal Master of Ceremonies Paris de' Grassi (1504–1521) shows the direction and expectation of the dominant courtly model, while Paolo Cortesi's treatise De cardinalatu (1510) exemplifies the eclipsed conciliarist ideals. While modern historians accord Cortesi's treatise attention that does not reflect its original interest to contemporaries, de' Grassi's diary has yet to be contextualized as a practical guide to publicly constructing the cardinal-courtier as a client of the papal monarchy. This article examines the rituals of the cardinal elevation ceremony as a vehicle for this model's implementation, as well as a site for the expression of discontent by certain cardinals.

Keywords: College of Cardinals; Paolo Cortesi; Paris de' Grassi; papacy; ritual

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Toronto

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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