The temporal imperative: criticism and defence of eighteenth-century Roman theocracy

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This article examines the regalist reforming critique and the curial defence of papal temporal dominion in the eighteenth-century Italian peninsula. The discussion examines the little-explored links between the justification for papal supremacy in the Church and the historico-theological defence of its theocratic rule. The refusal of the Curia to grant reform gave rise to a radical reforming movement which produced some astoundingly bitter anti-curial polemics little known outside Italian studies, but of some significance in the history of political thought.

Keywords: Catholic Enlightenment; Jansenism; Papacy; Papal States; Papal jurisdiction; Papal supremacy; Roman jurisdiction; Roman supremacy; priestcraft; theocracy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lecturer in the History of Ideas, University of Kingston-upon-Thames, London.. Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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