The Papacy of the Plot

Midi Music William Byrd, 1543-1623, "The Sweet and Merry Month of May," 15K 


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It is only by learning about the nature of the 17th century Papacy 
that one can truly appreciate the threat that the Catholic Church represented to the developing nation of England.
Freedom Fighters Vs. Criminals/
What Did the Pope know and when? The Papacy and Wars-

Freedom Fighters?  Criminals/Terrorists?  Agents of an Archaic Evil Empire? 

In 1605 most of the people of England were Protestant followers of the state religion.
Often when discussing the Gunpowder Plot supporters of the position of the plotters and Catholics in general generally describe them as a persecuted minority. Surely this is an oversimplification.
First of all there were many varieties of Catholic in England. Many did only want to pursue their own religious practices in private without converting others or otherwise attacking the state. Others including the plotters, many members of the Catholic aristocracy, priests and jesuits on the other hand wanted nothing less that a counter-reformation which would destroy the state religion if not the state itself and return them to positions of power and dominance where they would install the pope as their supreme authority in the place of the monarch. Both violent and peaceful means were seen as pathways to this end. Unfortunately the state had no way of knowing which were the good and which the dangerous. None the less the state did continue to maintain influential Catholics at court in high positions as well as to include Catholics in the Parliament.

In 1605 Jesuit activity while carried out by exiled English priests trained abroad was in fact an invasion of England  by a foreign power:The Papacy. It was a persecution of those considered "heretics" that is members of the State Church by representatives of the Papacy. The mission was clear: return to England,convert its citizens and destroy the "heretic" church. The fact that they were instructed to do it politely did not change matters. The Pope had boldly instructed English citizens not to folow the leaders of their own nation. The intent was the same as war itself.

Had a significant majority of English citizens wished to cast off the state religion then one would have to consider the Jesuits and our conspirators to have been freedom fighters. However, this was not the case and we must therefore consider them to be foreign invaders. Defense of one's government, one's nation and homeland against foreign invaders can not be considered persecution.

Perhaps the example of Mexico might assist in furthering understanding. In Mexico it was  written that the Jesuit missionaries were persecuted that is captured, and executed.  While it was true that they were attacked and did suffer they were not the casualties of persecution but of warfare- casualties in a war which they themselves had brought to the pagan natives.

Despite the many personal and Religious purposes of the Plotters we must continue to acknowledge and respect their considerable bravery and courage in the pursuit of their values despite the painful consequences which they knew would follow from their failure.

In the study of the Gunpowder Plot it is essential to view efforts toward the conversion of souls from both sides of the theological divide. But what did the pope and his officials know of the terrorism planned by the plotters? Could they have stopped the plot before it had a chance to threaten lives, property and government?
Surely we do know one thing. Keeping information which could have prevented human suffering and death behind the seal of the confessional can only be an act inspired by the corrupting forces of power and imperialism. Surely you do not go to such lenghts to protect the seal in such cases if you are concerned with human wellbeing.
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What did the Pope or his Officials know of the Plot and When?

The reaction of the Pope and his officials to knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot was the
ultimate and supreme test of their commitment to peaceful means and to co-existence with
temporal rulers within a pluralistic society.  If this test was set up by the government it very
accurately found its mark. The Pope and his representatives failed miserably.

What did the pope and his officials know about the Gunpowder Plot before it happened?
The answer is: Quite A bit.
In the Summer of 1604 Father Henry Garnet- Superior of the Jesuits in England wrote to
Aquaviva (his Superior in Rome) that he understood from some friends that:

     "Mr. Catesby was much missing from the places where he was wont to resort continually for spiritual help; and hearing also, that he and other gentlemen of forward humor did keep much together and had many secret meetings he began to suspect that they had something in hand"

    Later in 1605 Garnet had a revealing conversation with Mr. Catesby:

""Mr. Catesby asked whether if one intended lawfully to kill any man he might do it, notwithstanding the hazards of innocents.....I...answered that oftentimes in wars such things were done, so  that they were such as the victory might countervail the innocent' death"

Garnet so suspected Catesby that when his superior Fr. Aquaviva General of the Jesuits had heard of plots by English Catholics Garnet found Catesby at Fremlands in Sussex where he cautioned Catesby about "rushing headlong into mischief" and notified him that Aquaviva had conveyed similar "official" warnings from the pope.

At this point Catesby insisted that if the Pope personally knew the details of what he had planned that he would be supportive. Garnet should have had no doubt at this time of Catesby's dangerous and ilegal intent. Garnet rather than finding a way to turn Catesby in to the authorities suggests that Catesby communicate his plan to the pope by way of a leading Catholic- Sir Edmund Baynham who was shortly to meet with the Papal Nuncio in Brussels.

In essence then, the pope was asked to judge that which was an issue for the government and laws of England. Garnet had acted in the past to betray Catholic Plotters- He and Father George Blackwell (the archpriest) Had uncovered and informed the government of the Bye plot which had been orchestrated by Father William Watson. The difference was that Watson was merely a secular priest and Catesby was a well connected and powerful member of the Catholic elite with many important Catholic friends.

In July 1665 Father Oswald Tesimond having heard of the plot via Confessional from
Catesby passed the information on to Father Garnet also under seal of the Confessional. With permission for Tesimond to pass the information under seal to Garnet.
While Garnet could not reveal names and details he did soon thereafter contacted the pope with this request:

"The danger is lest secretly some treason of violence be shown to the King and so all catholics may be compelled to take arms.  Wherefore in my judgment two things are necessary; first that his Holiness should prescribe what in any case is to be done, and then that he should forbid any force of arms to the Catholics under censures"
Garnet asked the pope for special powers to allow him to act against anyone suspected of plotting by excommunicating them. The pope did not extend these powers but instead in September replying by way of Father Persons asked for specific details of the specific case- details which Garnet due to the seal, could not provide. (The seal was eventually broken by Catesby himself by writing to Garnet on Nov. 6 after the failure of the plot)

Garnet's loyal and close friend Anne Vaux had told him that she had seen Catesby and others coming and going from her house and priest hide White Webs.

The record shows clearly that the pope and his representatives knew far enough in advance
of the plot to have aided in the apprehension of the conspirators. Yet nothing was done to physically stop the plotters. Back to the Start

The Papacy and Nationalism
At the time of the plot England was a nation only recently united  from many different parts by Elizabeth I.  The people were beginning to think of themselves as English rather than as Protestants or Catholics. This sense of national Identity was to be the solution to the religious conflicts which had plagued English history. For Elizabeth this meant  that the power and resources of important Catholics could be harnessed by the nation. This explains the presence of so many English Catholics at court and the influential positions which they held.  By the time  of James I even English Catholics  were becoming  more "English" some even wanted to reconcile with the "heretic" state church.  The Elizabethan  dream of national identity was however, constantly threatened by those who wished  to set  the clock  back to the time prior to Henry VIII when the Catholic Church still  exercised  significant, and often tyrannical  power  over the people  and  rulers  of  England.

By studying the  17th Century  Papacy one can gain an appreciation of the nature of the Catholic Church of the period. It was truly a power bent upon conquest both of souls and of nations as well as new frontiers.  It was not at all tolerant of the religions of "heretics" be they Protestant Non-Believers, Members of other Churches, or, Native Peoples of the new colonies.  The church had placed itself and all of its resources directly in opposition to the pluralistic nation state which was developing in England and which was eventually to serve as the foundation for the development of modern democracies.

The church provided its support for all of the enemies of England- nations like Spain and Terrorists and Criminals like the plotters. We can only wonder what would have become of the dream of the pluralistic nation state  had the plotters and the pope managed to set the clock back to more primitive times.  Take a moment to read below,of the major Catholic figures of the age. Make up your own mind and let us know what you think. (Page editor comments shown in italics)

Back to the Start

Pope Clement VIII Pope LeoXI Pope Paul V
Claudius Acquaviva St.Philip Neri The Catholic Encyclopedia
Pope Clement VIII (1592-March/1605)

-The Pope Which Informed the plot

Among the popes there have been poor men in plenty, but Clement VIII was the 
first bank clerk to obtain the tiara. Ippolito Aldobrandini was born in 1536 at Fano. 
His father was a political exile from Florence. Ippolito, rescued from the bank by 
Cardinal Farnese's kindness, studied law at Padua, Perugia, and Bologna. He 
entered the service of the Church, but his advancement was slow until the reign of 
Sixtus V. That energetic Pope promoted him rapidly. A cardinal in 1585, Ippolito 
made a great reputation as legate to Poland in 1588. Thereafter he was considered a 
possibility for the papacy. Elected on January 30, 1592, he took the name Clement 

Clement was above all a spiritual pope. For years Philip Neri had been his 
confessor, and now every night the great Oratorian Baronius came to hear the 
Pope's confession. As zealous as he was devout, the busy Clement would often take 
a confessional in St. Peter's so that anyone who wished could go to the Pope 
himself. He did much to promote the forty hours' devotion. He often visited 
hospitals, not only to comfort the sick and distribute alms, but to check on the food. 
He was a truly humble man who could accept criticism. His only defect was 

Clement's great achievement was the settlement of the French problem. Henry of 
Navarre was gaining steadily. Now that he had accepted Catholicism, opposition 
melted away. French bishops absolved him, but still at Rome the Spaniards grimly 
struggled to prevent the Pope from granting Henry absolution. Influenced by 
spiritual men like St. Philip Neri, the historian Baronius, the theologian Toledo, 
Clement at last on September 17, 1595, solemnly absolved Henry IV. The way was 
open for peace in France and men felt that the danger of Spanish domination over 
the papacy was on the wane.(Note the interference of the Pope in the internal
politics of France and Spain and the reciprocal interference of these nations
with the papacy-it is as if there was no distinction between papacy and state-
a situation that emergent nationalism in England wished to avoid)

Clement was a great mission pope. Under his vigorous leadership, the enterprising 
Ricci entered China, the Japanese withstood the first shock of persecution, and 
Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits reaped rich harvests in the Philippines, 
Mexico(where as you may know many hundreds were slaughtered who would not 
convert under the watchful eyes of the Jesuits-a level of intolerance that England
wished to avoid even if it meant persecution and execution of those who wished to 
convert the English and destroy the state-so great was the threat), and South America.
The Pope sent missionaries to Persia and Abyssinia and even to the court of the Great Mogul.
He strove to reunite the Copts of Egypt and the schismatics of Serbia. He succeeded in
bringing some Ukrainians back to the Church by the Union of Brest in 1598. And at home
in Europe the tide of Catholic reform was winning back much that had been lost in the bad 
days. It was a 
great outpouring of zeal, and to channel and control it Clement set up a congregation 
of cardinals. (I would differ with the title "mission" pope. These were hardly missions
for souls alone- they were missions to regain and obtain political control lost in what
the church considers the "bad days"or what much of the rest of the world considers 
the reformation and "good days" which saw the development of nationalism and 
eventually parliamentary democracy- in contrast with the further development of 
oppressive Absolutism in Both France and Spain (the two major Catholic States))

Two famous executions took place in Clement's reign--that of the parricide Beatrice 
Cenci about whom legend and Shelley have woven an unmerited spell, and that of 
Giordano Bruno. Clement forbade dueling, revised the breviary, and found time to 
encourage the poet Tasso and set on foot many works of art. To judge the case of 
the great Jesuit theologian Luis Molina, whose doctrine on grace had been assailed 
by Dominicans, the Pope set up a special congregation. Clement took great interest 
in this matter, but before it could be settled, he was struck down by apoplexy, 
March 5, 1605. 

Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J Back to the table

Pope Leo XI-1605

-The Pope Just Before The Plot

Leo XI was a member of the famous Medici family and a grandnephew of Leo X. 
But while Leo X was a thoroughgoing Renaissance prince, his grandnephew was a 
true Counterreformation (here one must actually read "counter nation state" 
"imperialistic")pope. One typical Medici quality was shared by both, a 
love for literature and art. 

Alessandro de' Medici was born in 1555. He was a pious lad and was so fond of the 
Dominican friars of San Marco that it was thought that this Medici would enter the 
family of Savanarola. But he chose to become a secular priest and worked quietly in 
a country parish until 1569, when his relative, Duke Cosimo, sent him as Tuscan 
ambassador to Rome. At Rome he became a disciple and close friend of St. Philip 
Neri. In 1573 Alessandro was made, first, bishop of Pistoia, then archbishop of 
Florence. Though he was forced to remain at Rome, Alessandro saw to it that the 
reform decrees of Trent were carried out in his archdiocese. Made a cardinal by 
Gregory XIII in 1583, he was sent by Clement VIII as legate to France in the crucial 
years 1596-1598. There he became a friend of Henry IV. 

Naturally the Spaniards were opposed to him, and his chances for the papacy were 
so lightly esteemed that Cardinal Avila, King Philip's mouthpiece, did not bother to 
publish his monarch's veto until too late.(it is important to note the close link between 
Catholic Spain and the Papacy- it was as if they were one- This is exactly what the 
English Nation state wished to avoid at all cost. In England under James I Catholics
who would not attempt to convert the people or the state would be tolerated Catholic 
political control over the English state was not acceptable) Baronius, the great historian,
was the favorite at the conclave which began on March 14,1605; but Baronius had told too 
much truth too impartially in his history to suit Spanish susceptibility, and so this 
holy and learned man, to his own joy and relief, was kept from becoming pope. At 
last after several weeks the majority swung to Medici. Too late Cardinal Avila 
protested bitterly, but even his own party told him to quiet down. Alessandro 
accepted and chose to be called Leo XI. The French were jubilant but Leo quickly 
showed that he intended to be the tool of no ruler. 

Easter Sunday, April 17, the coronation day of Leo, was a gala occasion for the 
Romans, but for Leo himself it was deadly. The old man caught a chill during the 
ceremonies and soon was in bed fighting vainly for his life. When it became evident 
that he was going to die, appeals rained on him to make a nephew a cardinal. 
Although the candidate was worthy, Leo had so great a horror for this rather 
common papal failing, that he repeatedly refused. Indeed when his confessor added 
his voice to the general pleading, Leo exchanged his confessor for another more 
prudent or detached. 

Leo XI died piously on April 27,1605. Although he had ruled so short a time, he 
managed to lower taxes and send help to the Hungarians in their struggle against the 

Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher Back to the table

Pope Paul V 1605-1621

The Pope During The Plot itself

Baronius and St. Robert Bellarmine were among those considered as successors of 
Leo XI, but finally the cardinals chose Camillo Borghese, who took the name Paul 
V. Camillo Borghese was born at Rome on September 17, 1550. His family, 
originally from Siena, claimed relationship with the great mystic, St. Catherine. 
Trained at Perugia and Padua, Camillo became an expert canon lawyer. In 1596 
Clement VIII made him a cardinal and vicar of Rome. No party man, he was 
agreeable to all factions. 

Paul V was a vigorous fifty-two(error?55?(1605)) when elected. Pious and learned, charitable and 
hard-working, he made an excellent pastor. Being a canon lawyer, he believed rules 
were made to be kept, and his rigorous enforcement of Trent reform decrees caused 
a deal of rustling in Roman ecclesiastical circles. The same respect for law made 
him a terror to evildoers. Like Sixtus V he was concerned to put down banditry. 

Paul V had a hard time with Venice. The republic's pride seemed to swell in 
proportion as its power decreased. It had defied church law to forbid the erection of 
new church buildings and to arrest two clerics. Paul tried to bring the republic to 
reason, but when the oligarchs stubbornly defied all threats, the Pope 
excommunicated doge and senate and placed Venice under interdict. The Venetian 
government defied the interdict by ordering priests to go ahead with services, and 
when Capuchins, Jesuits, and Theatines refused, the oligarchs expelled them. This 
quarrel almost flamed into a European war. When Paul tried to raise an army,(Note here
the blatant drive of the papacy toward domination of secular states and their
internal affairs. In an age of emergent nationalism the papacy stood in opposition
to the forces which supported "home rule" pluralism and tolerance)
England and Holland threatened to intervene in favor of Venice. Meanwhile a war 
of words was bitterly fought. Paolo Sarpi, a Servite who combined brilliant 
scholarship with a most peculiar notion of Catholic loyalty, wrote furiously against 
the Pope, while Baronius and St. Robert Bellarmine brought their vast learning into 
play to defend him. After a year of struggle, shrewd King Henry IV of France 
mediated to bring peace. Venice gave in as little as possible but enough to justify the 
Pope in releasing the republic from censure. 

Wily King James of England also gave trouble to Paul. He issued a new oath of 
allegiance which, cunningly worded, was considered acceptable by some Catholics. 
Paul V had to condemn this oath twice, and even so, it made for division among the 
English Catholics.(note here that English Catholics now increassingly viewed
their identity as English to be more important then their ties to Rome.
The papacy resisted attempts to develop and maintain the division between church and government)

A great patron of art, Paul V succeeded in having Carlo Maderna finally bring the 
construction of St. Peter's to a grandiose finish. Paul had one defect, nepotism Too 
fond of his relatives, he made the fortune of the Borghese family. He was, however, 
a broad-minded and energetic leader in mission activity. He did not discourage the 
daring innovations of men like Matteo Ricci and Robert de Nobili. 

Paul V died of a stroke on January 28,1621. 

Excerpted from "Popes Through the Ages" by Joseph Brusher, S.J. Back to the table

Influential Figures and Advisors of the Popes 

Claudius Acquaviva
-Superior of Henry Garnet-leader of the English Jesuits during the time of the plot.
Fifth General of the Society of Jesus, born October, 1543; died 31 January, 1615. He was the son of Prince Giovanni Antonio Acquaviva, Duke of Atri, in the Abruzzi, and, at twenty-five, when high in favor at the papal court, renounced his brilliant worldly prospects, and entered the Society. After being Provincial both of Naples and Rome, he was elected General of the Society, 19 February,1581. He was the youngest who ever occupied that post. His election coincided with the first accusation of ambition ever made against a great official of the Order. Manareus had been named Vicar by Father Mercurian, and it was alleged that he aspired to the generalship. His warm defender was Acquaviva, but to dispel the slightest suspicion, Manareus renounced his right to be elected. 
Acquaviva was chosen by a strong majority. His subsequent career justified the wisdom of the 
choice, which was very much doubted at the time by the Pope himself. During his generalship, the persecution(read resistance to the Catholic Counter Reformation)  in England, wither he had once asked to go as a missionary, was raging; the Huguenot  troubles in France were at their height; Christianity was being crushed in Japan; the Society was expelled from Venice, and was oppressed elsewhere;(note when catholics use the words oppression  and persecution they mean that their efforts to convert and dominate the people of a region or a nation met with opposition)  a schism within the Society was immanent; the pope, the Inquisition, and Philip II were hostile. Acquaviva was denounced to the Pope, even by men like Toletus (q.v.), yet such was his prudence, his skill, his courage, and his success, that he is regarded as the greatest administrator, after St. Ignatius, the Society ever had. Even those who were 
jealous of him admitted his merit, when, to satisfy them, the fifth and sixth Congregations ordered an investigation to be made of his method of government. The greatest difficulty he had to face was the schism organized in Spain by Vasquez (q.v.). The King and Pope had been won over by the dissidents. Open demands for quasi-independence for Spain had been made in the Congregations of the Society. No Jesuit was allowed to leave Spain without royal permission. Episcopal visitation of  the houses had been asked for and granted. But finally, through the mediation of the English Jesuit, Robert Parsons (q.v.), who was highly esteemed by Philip, the King was persuaded of the impolicy of the measures, while Acquaviva convinced the Pope that the schism would be disastrous for the Church. Deprived of these supports the rebellion collapsed. Simultaneously the Inquisition was doing its best to destroy the Society. It listened to defamatory accusations, threw the Provincial of Castille into prison, demanded the surrender of the Constitutions for examination, until Acquaviva succeeded 
in inducing the Pope to call the case to his own tribunal, and revoke the powers which had been given to the Inquisition, or which it claimed. Finally, Pope Sixtus V, who had always been unfriendly to the Society, determined to change it completely. The Emperor Ferdinand implored him not to act; the College of Cardinals resisted; but the Pope was obstinate. The bull was prepared, and Acquaviva himself was compelled to send in a personal request to have even the name changed, when the death of the pontiff saved the situation--a coincidence which gave rise to accusations against the Society. 
His successor, Gregory XIV, hastened to renew all the former privileges of the Order, and to confirm its previous approbations. 

During Acquaviva's administration, the protracted controversy on Grace, between the Dominicans and the Jesuits, took place, and was carried on with some interruptions for nearly nine years, without either party drawing any decision from the Church, the contestants being ultimately ordered to discontinue the discussion. It was Acquaviva who ordered the scheme of Jesuit studies, known as the "Ratio Studiorum" (q.v.), to be drawn up which, with some modifications, has been followed to the present day. Six of the most learned and experienced scholars of the Society were summoned toRome, who laid out the entire plan of studies, beginning with theology, philosophy and their cognate branches, and going down to the smallest details of grammar. When finished, it was sent to the different Provinces for suggestions, but was not imposed until 1592, and then with the proviso that 
the Society would determine what charge was to be to made, which was done in the General 
Congregation of 1593. 

The period of his generalship was the most notable in the history of the Society for the men it 
produced, and the work it accomplished. The names of Suarez, Toletus, Bellarmine, Maldontus, Clavius, Lessius, Ripalda, Ricci, Parsons, Southwell, Campion, Aloysius Gonzaga, and a host of others are identified with it. Royal and pontifical missions (note here that such missions while called religious were essentially political in view of their goals and objectives- that is In England the goal was to modify and convert the state not to develop tolerance but to reclaim the political entitiy as a catholic province subject to Rome) to France, Russia, Poland, Constantinople,and Japan were entrusted to men like Possevin, and Bellarmine, and Vallignani. Houses were multiplied all over the world with an astonishing rapidity. The colleges were educating some of the most brilliant statesmen, princes, and warriors of Europe. The Reductions of Paraguay were organized; the heroic work of the missions of Canada were begun; South America was being traversed in all directions; China had been penetrated, and the Jesuits were the emperor's official astronomers; martyrs in great numbers were sacrificing their lives in England, America, India, Japan, and elsewhere;(notice that there is no mention here of the countless thousands who were sacrificed at the hands of the Catholic States with the blessing of the Jesuits- this is exactly what England was forced to confront with strict punishments and sanctions) and the great struggle organized by Canisius and Nadal to check the Reformation in Germany had been brought to a successful conclusion. The guiding spirit of all these great achievements, and many more besides, was Claudius Acquaviva. He died at the age of seventy-one,31 January, 1615. Jouvency says the longer he lived the more glorious the Society became; andCordarius speaks of his election as an inspiration. Besides the "Ratio Studiorum," of which he is substantially the author, as it was under his initiative and supervision that the plan was conceived and carried out, we have also the "Directorium Exercitiorum Spiritualium S.P.N. Ignatii," or "Guide to the Spiritual Exercises" which was also suggested and revised by him. This work has been inserted in the "Corpus Instituti S.J." More directly his are the "Industriae ad Curandos Aninme Morbos." As General, he wrote many encyclical letters, and he is author of nearly all the "Ordinationes Generalium" which were printed in 1595, with the Approbation of the Fifth General Congregation. Many other documents and letters, relating chiefly to matters of government. are still extant. 

Jouvency, Epitome Hist. Soc. Jesu, IV; Crétineau-Joly, Historie de la Comp de Jesus III; Varones Ilustres, V, 79; 
Menologium S. J., 31 January. Back to the table

St. Philip Romolo Neri

APOSTLE OF ROME, b. at Florence, Italy, 22 July, 1515; d. 27 May, 1595. Philip's family 
originally came from Castelfranco but had lived for many generations in Florence, where not a few of its members had practised the learned professions, and therefore took rank with the Tuscan nobility. Among these was Philip's own father, Francesco Neri, who eked out an insufficient private fortune with what he earned as a notary. A circumstance which had no small influence on the life of the saint was Francesco's friendship with the Dominicans; for it was from the friars of S. Marco, amid the memories of Savonarola, that Philip received many of his early religious impressions. Besides a younger brother, who died in early childhood, Philip had two younger sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta. It was with them that "the good Pippo", as he soon began to be called, committed his only known fault. He gave a slight push to Caterina, because she kept interrupting him and Elisabetta, while they were reciting psalms together, a practice of which, as a boy, he was remakably fond. One incident of his childhood is dear to his early biographers as the first visible intervention of Providence on his behalf, and perhaps dearer still to his modern disciples, because it reveals the human characteristics of a boy amid the supernatural graces of a saint. When about eight years old he was 
left alone in a courtyard to amuse himself; seeing a donkey laden with fruit, he jumped on its back; the beast bolted, and both tumbled into a deep cellar. His parents hastened to the spot and extricated the child, not dead, as they feared, but entirely uninjured. 

From the first it was evident that Philip's career would run on no conventional lines; when shown his family pedigree he tore it up, and the burning of his father's house left him unconcerned. Having studied the humanities under the best scholars of a scholarly generation, at the age of sixteen he was sent to help his father's cousin in business at S. Germano, near Monte Cassino. He applied himself with diligence, and his kinsman soon determined to make him his heir. But he would often withdraw for prayer to a little mountain chapel belonging to the Benedictines of Monte Cassino, built above the harbour of Gaeta in a cleft of rock which tradition says was among those rent at the hour of Our Lord's death. It was here that his vocation became definite: he was called to be the Apostle of Rome. 
In 1533 he arrived in Rome without any money. He had not informed his father of the step he was  taking, and he had deliberately cut himself off from his kinsman's patronage. He was, however, at once befriended by Galeotto Caccia, a Florentine resident, who gave him a room in his house and an allowance of flour, in return for which he undertook the education of his two sons. For seventeen years Philip lived as a layman in Rome, probably without thinking of becoming a priest. It was perhaps while tutor to the boys, that he wrote most of the poetry which he composed both in Latin and in Italian. Before his death he burned all his writings, and only a few of his sonnets have come down to us. He spent some three years, beginning about 1535, in the study of philosophy at the Sapienza, and of theology in the school of the Augustinians. When he considered that he had learnt enough, he sold his books, and gave the price to the poor. Though he never again made study his regular occupation, whenever he was called upon to cast aside his habitual reticence, he would surprise the most learned with the depth and clearness of his theological knowledge. 

He now devoted himself entirely to the sanctification of his own soul and the good of his neighbour. 
His active apostolate began with solitary and unobtrusive visits to the hospitals. Next he induced others to accompany him. Then he began to frequent the shops, warehouses, banks, and publicplaces of Rome, melting the hearts of those whom he chanced to meet, and exhorting them to serve God. In 1544, or later, he became the friend of St. Ignatius. Many of his disciples tried and found their vocations in the infant Society of Jesus; but the majority remained in the world, and formed the nucleus of what afterwards became the Brotherhood of the Little Oratory. Though he "appeared not fasting to men", his private life was that of a hermit. His single daily meal was of bread and water, to which a few herbs were sometimes added, the furniture of his room consisted of a bed, to which he usually preferred the floor, a table, a few chairs, and a rope to hang his clothes on; and he disciplined 
himself frequently with small chains. Tried by fierce temptations, diabolical as well as human, he 
passed through them all unscathed, and the purity of his soul manifested itself in certain striking 
physical traits. He prayed at first mostly in the church of S. Eustachio, hard by Caccia's house. Next he took to visiting the Seven Churches. But it was in the catacomb of S. Sebastiano -- confounded by early biographers with that of S. Callisto -- that he kept the longest vigils and received the most abundant consolations. In this catacomb, a few days before Pentecost in 1544, the well-known miracle of his heart took place. Bacci describes it thus: "While he was with the greatest earnestness asking of the Holy Ghost His gifts, there appeared to him a globe of fire, which entered into his mouth and lodged in his breast; and thereupon he was suddenly surprised with such a fire of love, that, unable to bear it, he threw himself on the ground, and, like one trying to cool himself, bared his breast to temper in some measure the flame which he felt. When he had remained so for some time, and was a little recovered, he rose up full of unwonted joy, and immediately all his body began to shake with a violent tremour; and putting his hand to his bosom, he felt by the side of his heart, a swelling about as big as a man's fist, but neither then nor afterwards was it attended with the slightest pain or wound." The cause of this swelling was discovered by the doctors who examined his body after death. The saint's heart had been dilated under the sudden impulse of love, and in order that it might 
have sufficient room to move, two ribs had been broken, and curved in the form of an arch. From the time of the miracle till his death, his heart would palpitate violently whenever he performed any spiritual action. 

During his last years as a layman, Philip's apostolate spread rapidly. In 1548, together with his 
confessor, Persiano Rosa, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity for looking after pilgrims and convalescents. Its members met for Communion, prayer, and other spiritual exercises in the church of S. Salvatore, and the saint himself introduced exposition of the Blessed Sacrament once a month (see FORTY HOURS' DEVOTION). At these devotions Philip preached, though still a layman, and we learn that on one occasion alone he converted no less than thirty dissolute youths. In 1550 a doubt occurred to him as to whether he should not discontinue his active work and retire into absolute solitude. His perplexity was set at rest by a vision of St. John the Baptist, and by another vision of two souls in glory, one of whom was eating a roll of bread, signifying God's will that he should live in Rome for the good of souls as though he were in a desert, abstaining as far as possible 
from the use of meat. 

In 1551, however, he received a true vocation from God. At the bidding of his confessor -- nothing short of this would overcome his humility -- he entered the priesthood, and went to live at S. Girolamo, where a staff of chaplains was supported by the Confraternity of Charity. Each priest had two rooms assigned to him, in which he lived, slept, and ate, under no rule save that of living in charity with his brethren. Among Philip's new companions, besides Persiano Rosa, was Buonsignore Cacciaguerra (see "A Precursor of St. Philip" by Lady Amabel Kerr, London), a remarkable penitent, who was at that time carrying on a vigorous propaganda in favour of frequent Communion. 
Philip, who as a layman had been quietly encouraging the frequent reception of the sacraments, 
expended the whole of his priestly energy in promoting the same cause; but unlike his precursor, he recommended the young especially to confess more often than they communicated. The church of S.Girolamo was much frequented even before the coming of Philip, and his confessional there soon became the centre of a mighty apostolate. He stayed in church, hearing confessions or ready to hear them, from daybreak till nearly midday, and not content with this, he usually confessed some forty persons in his room before dawn. Thus he laboured untiringly throughout his long priesthood. As a physician of souls he received marvellous gifts from God. He would sometimes tell a penitent his most 
secret sins without his confessing them; and once he converted a young nobleman by showing him a vision of hell. Shortly before noon he would leave his confessional to say Mass. His devotion to the    Blessed Sacrament, like the miracle of his heart, is one of those manifestations of sanctity which are peculiarly his own. So great was the fervour of his charity, that, instead of recollecting himself before Mass, he had to use deliberate means of distraction in order to attend to the external rite. During the last five years of his life he had permission to celebrate privately in a little chapel close to his room. At the "Agnus Dei" the server went out, locked the doors, and hung up a notice: "Silence, the Father is saying Mass". When he returned in two hours or more, the saint was so absorbed in God that heseemed to be at the point of death. 

Philip devoted his afternoons to men and boys, inviting them to informal meetings in his room, taking them to visit churches, interesting himself in their amusements, hallowing with his sweet influence every department of their lives. At one time he had a longing desire to follow the example of St.Francis Xavier, and go to India. With this end in view, he hastened the ordination of some of his companions. But in 1557 he sought the counsel of a Cistercian at Tre Fontane; and as on a former occasion he had been told to make Rome his desert, so now the monk communicated to him arevelation he had had from St. John the Evangelist, that Rome was to be his India. Philip at once  abandoned the idea of going abroad, and in the following year the informal meetings in his room developed into regular spiritual exercises in an oratory, which he built over the church. At these exercises laymen preached and the excellence of the discourses, the high quality of the music, and the  charm of Philip's personality attracted not only the humble and lowly, but men of the highest rank and distinction in Church and State. Of these, in 1590, Cardinal Nicolo Sfondrato, became Pope Gregory XIV, and the extreme reluctance of the saint alone prevented the pontiff from forcing him to accept the cardinalate. In 1559, Philip began to organize regular visits to the Seven Churches, in company with crowds of men, priests and religious, and laymen of every rank and condition. These 
visits were the occasion of a short but sharp persecution on the part of a certain malicious faction,who denounced him as "a setter-up of new sects". The cardinal vicar himself summoned him, and without listening to his defence, rebuked him in the harshest terms. For a fortnight the saint was suspended from hearing confessions; but at the end of that time he made his defence, and cleared himself before the ecclesiastical authorities. In 1562, the Florentines in Rome begged him to accept the office of rector of their church, S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini, but he was reluctant to leave S.Girolamo. At length the matter was brought before Pius IV, and a compromise was arrived at (1564). While remaining himself at S. Girolamo, Philip became rector of S. Giovanni, and sent five priests, one of whom was Baronius, to represent him there. They lived in community under Philip astheir superior, taking their meals together, and regularly attending the exercises at S. Girolamo. In 1574, however, the exercises began to be held in an oratory at S. Giovanni. Meanwhile thecommunity was increasing in size, and in 1575 it was formally recognised by Gregory XIII as the Congregation of the Oratory, and given the church of S. Maria in Vallicella. (See ORATORY.) The fathers came to live there in 1577, in which year they opened the Chiesa Nuova, built on the site of the old S. Maria, and transferred the exercises to a new oratory. Philip himself remained at S.Girolamo till 1583, and it was only in obedience to Gregory XIII that he then left his old home and 
came to live at the Vallicella. 

The last years of his life were marked by alternate sickness and recovery. In 1593, he showed the true greatness of one who knows the limits of his own endurance, and resigned the office of superior  which had been conferred on him for life. In 1594, when he was in an agony of pain, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, and cured him. At the end of March, 1595, he had a severe attack of fever,   which lasted throughout April; but in answer to his special prayer God gave him strength to y Mass on 1 May in honour of SS. Philip and James. On the following 12 May he was seized with a violent haemorrhage, and Cardinal Baronius, who had succeeded him as superior, gave him Extreme Unction. After that he seemed to revive a little and his friend Cardinal Frederick Borromeo brought  him the Viaticum, which he received with loud protestations of his own unworthiness. On the next     day he was perfectly well, and till the actual day of his death went about his usual duties, even reciting    the Divine Office, from which he was dispensed. But on 15 May he predicted that he had only ten  more days to live. On 25 May, the feast of Corpus Christi, he went to say Mass in his little chapel,   two hours earlier than usual. "At the beginning of his Mass", writes Bacci, "he remained for some time looking fixedly at the hill of S. Onofrio, which was visible from the chapel, just as if he saw some 
great vision. On coming to the Gloria in Excelsis he began to sing, which was an unusual thing for him, and sang the whole of it with the greatest joy and devotion, and all the rest of the Mass he said with extraordinary exultation, and as if singing." He was in perfect health for the rest of that day, and  made his usual night prayer; but when in bed, he predicted the hour of the night at which he would die. About an hour after midnight Father Antonio Gallonio, who slept under him, heard him walking  up and down, and went to his room. He found him lying on the bed, suffering from another haemorrhage. "Antonio, I am going", he said; Gallonio thereupon fetched the medical men and the fathers of the congregation. Cardinal Baronius made the commendation of his soul, and asked him to give the fathers his final blessing. The saint raised his hand slightly, and looked up to heaven. Then inclining his head towards the fathers, he breathed his last. Philip was beatified by Paul V in 1615, and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622. 

It is perhaps by the method of contrast that the distinctive characteristics of St. Philip and his work  are brought home to us most forcibly (see Newman, "Sermons on Various Occasions", n. xii;"Historical Sketches", III, end of ch. vii). We hail him as the patient reformer, who leaves outwardthings alone and works from within, depending rather on the hidden might of sacrament and prayer than on drastic policies of external improvement; the director of souls who attaches more value to  mortification of the reason than to bodily austerities, protests that men may become saints in the world no less than in the cloister, dwells on the importance of serving God in a cheerful spirit, and gives a quaintly humorous turn to the maxims of ascetical theology; the silent watcher of the times, who takes no active part in ecclesiastical controversies and is yet a motive force in their development,  now encouraging the use of ecclesiastical history as a bulwark against Protestantism, now insisting on  the absolution of a monarch, whom other counsellors would fain exclude from the sacraments (see BARONIUS), now praying that God may avert a threatened condemnation (see SAVONAROLA)  and receiving a miraculous assurance that his prayer is heard (see Letter of Ercolani referred to by   Capecelatro); the founder of a Congregation, which relies more on personal influence than on              disciplinary organization, and prefers the spontaneous practice of counsels of perfection to their  enforcement by means of vows; above all, the saint of God, who is so irresistibly attractive, so  eminently lovable in himself, as to win the title of the "Amabile santo". 

Transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook 
For the Reverend David Martin, Priest, of the London Oratory Back to the table

Papal Wars



The Crusades were military campaigns sanctioned by the Latin Roman Catholic Church during the High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages. In 1095 Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to holy places in and near Jerusalem. Many historians and some of those involved at the time, like Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, give equal precedence to other papal-sanctioned military campaigns undertaken for a variety of religious, economic, and political reasons, such as the Albigensian Crusade, the Aragonese Crusade, the Reconquista, and the Northern Crusades.[1] Following the First Crusade there was an intermittent 200-year struggle for control of the Holy Land, with six more major crusades and numerous minor ones. In 1291, the conflict ended in failure with the fall of the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land at Acre, after which Roman Catholic Europe mounted no further coherent response in the east.

German Attack on Rome (1081-1082)


Part of the German Civil War of 1077-1106)


German Attack on Rome (1090-1092)


Part of the German Civil War of 1077-1106)


Norman-Papal War of 1053


Battle of Civitella--Pope Leo IX captured by the Normans, led by Humphrey Guiscard.


Holy  Roman Empire-Papacy War (1081-1084)


Holy  Roman Empire-Papacy War (1228-1241)


Holy  Roman Empire-Papacy War (1243-1250)


The Ferrara War (1482-1484)


Venice and the Papal States vs. Ferrara, Genoa, Siena, Florence, Milan, and Naples


Florentine-Papal War (1485-1486)


Neopolitan War of 1494-1495


Franco-Aragonese War (1499-1504)


War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1509)


War of the Holy League (1510-1516)


Ferrara-Papal War of 1512 (part of the War of the Holy League)


Sack of Rome (1527)


Carafa War (1556-1557)


Naval Battle of Lepanto (as part of a coalition dealing with the Ottomans) (1571)


War over Parma (1641-1644)


Franco-Papal War (1660-1664)


Austro-Papal War (War of Spanish Succession) (1707-1709)


French occupation of Avignon and the Venaissin (1791)


First War of the Coalition, parts of Papal State occupied by the French Revolutionaries (1792-1797)


Revolution and French Occupation (1797-1798)


Invasion of the Papal State by Naples (1798)


Second War of the Coalition (Napoleonic Wars) (1799-1802)


Franco-Italian annexation of the Papal State (Napoleonic Wars) (1808-1809)


Liberal Revolution (Papal States aided by Austrian troops) (1831)


Austrian Occupation of Bologna, French Occupation of Ancona (1832-1839)


Rebellion of Savigno/Imola (1843)


Revolt of Rimini (1845)


Revolution (1848-1849)


Garibaldi’s Expedition against Sicily (1860-1861)


Invasion of Italian patriots (1867)


Cardinal Richelieu

Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duke of Richelieu and of Fronsac (English pronunciation: /ˈrɪʃəluː/; French pronunciation: ​[ʁiʃəljø]; 9 September 1585 – 4 December 1642) was a French clergyman, noble and statesman. He was consecrated as a bishop in 1607 and was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1616. Richelieu soon rose in both the Catholic Church and the French government, becoming a Cardinal in 1622, and King Louis XIII's chief minister in 1624. He remained in office until his death in 1642; he was succeeded by Cardinal Mazarin, whose career he had fostered.

The Cardinal de Richelieu was often known by the title of the King's "Chief Minister" or "First Minister". He sought to consolidate royal power and crush domestic factions. By restraining the power of the nobility, he transformed France into a strong, centralized state. His chief foreign policy objective was to check the power of the Austro-Spanish Habsburg dynasty, and to ensure French dominance in the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe. Although he was a cardinal, he did not hesitate to make alliances with Protestant rulers in attempting to achieve his goals. While a powerful political figure, events like the Day of the Dupes show that in fact he very much depended on the King's confidence to keep this power.


Cardinal Mazarin

Jules Mazarin

Jules Mazarin (French: [ʒyl mazaʁɛ̃]; July 14, 1602 – March 9, 1661), born Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino [ˈdʒuljo raiˈmondo maddzaˈrino] or Mazarini, was an Italian cardinal, diplomat, and politician, who served as the chief minister of France from 1642 until his death. Mazarin succeeded his mentor, Cardinal Richelieu. He was a noted collector of art and jewels, particularly diamonds, and he bequeathed the "Mazarin diamonds" to Louis XIV in 1661, some of which remain in the collection of the Louvre museum in Paris. His personal library was the origin of the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris.


1375–July 1378

War of the Eight Saints

Result  Peace treaty concluded at Tivoli

The War of the Eight Saints (1375–1378) was a war between Pope Gregory XI and a coalition of Italian city-states led by Florence, which contributed to the end of the Avignon Papacy.


Skanderbeg's Italian expedition         

Result  Ferdinand regains most of his lost territories

Skanderbeg's Italian expedition (1460–1462) was undertaken to aid his ally Ferdinand I of Naples, whose rulership was threatened by the Angevin Dynasty. George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was the ruler of Albania (Latin: dominus Albaniae) who had been leading a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire since 1443 and allied himself with several Western European monarchs in order to consolidate his domains. In 1458, Alfonso V of Aragon, ruler of Sicily and Naples and Skanderbeg's most important ally, died, leaving his illegitimate son, Ferdinand, on the Neapolitan throne; René d'Anjou, the French Duke of Anjou, laid claim to the throne. The conflict between René's and Ferdinand's supporters soon erupted into a civil war. Pope Calixtus III, of Spanish background himself, could do little to secure Ferdinand, so he turned to Skanderbeg for aid.


Ottoman–Venetian War (1463–79)

Result  Albanian defense victory until 1478 Ottoman victory , Treaty of Constantinople (1479)


The Eastern Mediterranean in 1450, just before the Fall of Constantinople. Venetian possessions are in green and red. By 1463, the Ottoman dominions would have expanded to include the Byzantine Empire (purple), and most of the smaller Balkan states.

The First Ottoman–Venetian War was fought between the Republic of Venice and her allies and the Ottoman Empire from 1463 to 1479. Fought shortly after the capture of Constantinople and the remnants of the Byzantine Empire by the Ottomans, it resulted in the loss of several Venetian holdings in Albania and Greece, most importantly the island of Negroponte (Euboea), which had been a Venetian protectorate for centuries. The war also saw the rapid expansion of the Ottoman navy, which became able to challenge the Venetians and the Knights Hospitaller for supremacy in the Aegean Sea. In the closing years of the war however, the Republic managed to recoup its losses by the de facto acquisition of the Crusader Kingdom of Cyprus.


War of Ferrara

Result              Venetian victory

The War of Ferrara (also known as the Salt War, Italian: Guerra del Sale) was fought in 1482–1484 between Ercole I d'Este, duke of Ferrara, and the Papal forces mustered by Ercole's personal nemesis, Pope Sixtus IV and his Venetian allies. Hostilities ended with the Treaty of Bagnolo, signed on 7 August 1484


Italian War of 1494–98

First Italian War

Result  --League of Venice victory


The First Italian War, sometimes referred to as the Italian War of 1494 or Charles VIII's Italian War, was the opening phase of the Italian Wars. The war pitted Charles VIII of France, who had initial Milanese aid, against the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, and an alliance of Italian powers led by Pope Alexander VI.

Pope Innocent VIII, in conflict with King Ferdinand I of Naples over Ferdinand's refusal to pay feudal dues to the papacy, excommunicated and deposed Ferdinand by a bull of 11 September 1489. Innocent then offered the Kingdom of Naples to Charles VIII of France, who had a remote claim to its throne because his grandfather, Charles VII, King of France, had married Marie of Anjou[2] of the Angevin dynasty, the ruling family of Naples. Innocent later settled his quarrel with Ferdinand and revoked the bans before dying in 1492, but the offer to Charles remained an apple of discord in Italian politics. Ferdinand died on January 25, 1494, and was succeeded by his son Alfonso II.[3].

16th Century


War of the League of Cambrai

Result-             French and Venetian victory

The War of the League of Cambrai, sometimes known as the War of the Holy League and by several other names, was a major conflict in the Italian Wars. The principal participants of the war, which was fought from 1508 to 1516, were France, the Papal States and the Republic of Venice; they were joined, at various times, by nearly every significant power in Western Europe, including Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, Scotland, the Duchy of Milan, Florence, the Duchy of Ferrara, and Swiss mercenaries.

Pope Julius II, intending to curb Venetian influence in northern Italy, had created the League of Cambrai, an anti-Venetian alliance that included, besides himself, Louis XII of France, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Although the League was initially successful, friction between Julius and Louis caused it to collapse by 1510; Julius then allied himself with Venice against France.

The Veneto–Papal alliance eventually expanded into the Holy League, which drove the French from Italy in 1512; disagreements about the division of the spoils, however, led Venice to abandon the alliance in favor of one with France. Under the leadership of Francis I, who had succeeded Louis to the throne, the French and Venetians would, through their victory at Marignano in 1515, regain the territory they had lost; the treaties of Noyon and Brussels, which ended the war the next year, would essentially return the map of Italy to the status quo of 1508.


War of Urbino

Result  Negotiated peace

The War of Urbino (1517) was a secondary episode of the Italian Wars.

The conflict ensued after the end of the War of the League of Cambrai (1508–16), when Francesco Maria I della Rovere decided to take advantage of the situation to recover the Duchy of Urbino, from which he had been ousted in the previous year.

In the early 1517 he presented himself under the walls of Verona to hire the troops which had besieged the city, now to be returned to the Republic of Venice. Della Rovere set off with an army of some 5,000 infantry and 1,000 horses which he entrusted to Federico Gonzaga, lord of Bozzolo, reaching the walls of Urbino on January 23, 1517.

He defeated the Papal condottiero Francesco del Monte and entered the city hailed by the population.

Pope Leo X reacted by hastily hiring an army of 10,000 troops under Lorenzo II de' Medici, Renzo di Ceri, Giulio Vitelli and Guido Rangoni and sending it against Urbino. Lorenzo was wounded by a bullet from an arquebus on April 4 during the siege of the Mondolfo castle, and returned to Tuscany. He was replaced by Cardinal Bibbiena. The latter was however unable to control the troops, and, defeated with relevant losses at Monte Imperiale, was forced to retreat to Pesaro.


Italian War of 1521–26

Result-             Spanish-Imperial victory

The Italian War of 1521–26, sometimes known as the Four Years' War, was a part of the Italian Wars. The war pitted Francis I of France and the Republic of Venice against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Henry VIII of England, and the Papal States. The conflict arose from animosity over the election of Charles as Emperor in 1519–20 and from Pope Leo X's need to ally with Charles against Martin Luther.

The war broke out across Western Europe late in 1521, when a French–Navarrese expedition attempted to reconquer Navarre while a French army invaded the Low Countries. A Spanish army drove the Navarrese forces back into the Pyrenees, and other Imperial forces attacked northern France, where they were stopped in turn.

The Pope, the Emperor, and Henry VIII then signed a formal alliance against France, and hostilities resumed on the Italian Peninsula; but, with the attention of both Francis and Charles focused on the battleground in northeast France, the conflict in Italy became something of a sideshow. At the Battle of Bicocca on 27 April 1522, Imperial and Papal forces defeated the French, driving them from Lombardy. Following the battle, fighting again spilled onto French soil, while Venice made a separate peace. The English invaded France in 1523, while Charles de Bourbon, alienated by Francis's attempts to seize his inheritance, betrayed Francis and allied himself with the Emperor. A French attempt to regain Lombardy in 1524 failed and provided Bourbon with an opportunity to invade Provence at the head of a Spanish army.


War of the League of Cognac

Result  - Spanish-Imperial victory

The War of the League of Cognac (1526–30) was fought between the Habsburg dominions of Charles V—primarily Spain and the Holy Roman Empire—and the League of Cognac, an alliance including France, Pope Clement VII, the Republic of Venice, England, the Duchy of Milan and Republic of Florence.

Shocked by the defeat of the French in the Italian War of 1521, Pope Clement VII, together with the Republic of Venice, began to organize an alliance to drive Charles V from Italy. Francis, having signed the Treaty of Madrid, was released and returned to France, where he quickly announced his intention to assist Clement. Thus, in 1526, the League of Cognac was signed by Francis, Clement, Venice, Florence, and the Sforza of Milan, who desired to throw off the Imperial hegemony over them. Henry VIII of England, thwarted in his desire to have the treaty signed in England, refused to join.


Salt War (1540)

The Salt War of 1540 was a result of an insurrection by the city of Perugia against the Papal States during the pontificate of Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese). The principal result was the city of Perugia's definitive subordination to papal control.

Pope, Julius III gave the Perugians back a semblance of local rule in 1559, the city became part of the Papal States and remained so until Italian unification in 1860.

One curious note about the war is that Perugian legend holds that as part of a popular protest against the new papal tax in 1540, citizens stopped putting salt in their bread (unsalted bread is the norm to this day). Recent research suggests that this is an urban legend developed after 1860.



Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–73)

Result-             Ottoman victory


The Fourth Ottoman–Venetian War, also known as the War of Cyprus (Italian: Guerra di Cipro) was fought between 1570–1573. It was waged between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice, the latter joined by the Holy League, a coalition of Christian states formed under the auspices of the Pope, which included Spain (with Naples and Sicily), the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, the Knights Hospitaller, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and other Italian states.

The war, the preeminent episode of Sultan Selim II's reign, began with the Ottoman invasion of the Venetian-held island of Cyprus. The capital Nicosia and several other towns fell quickly to the considerably superior Ottoman army, leaving only Famagusta in Venetian hands. Christian reinforcements were delayed, and Famagusta eventually fell in August 1571 after a siege of 11 months. Two months later, at the Battle of Lepanto, the united Christian fleet destroyed the Ottoman fleet, but was unable to take advantage of this victory. The Ottomans quickly rebuilt their naval forces, and Venice was forced to negotiate a separate peace, ceding Cyprus to the Ottomans and paying a tribute of 300,000 ducats.

18 July 1579 – 11 November 1583

Second Desmond Rebellion

Result-             English victory
Famine throughout Munster
Plantation of Munster


The Second Desmond rebellion (1579–1583) was the more widespread and bloody of the two Desmond Rebellions launched by the FitzGerald dynasty of Desmond in Munster, Ireland, against English rule in Ireland. The second rebellion began in July 1579 when James FitzMaurice FitzGerald, landed in Ireland with a force of Papal troops, triggering an insurrection across the south of Ireland on the part of the Desmond dynasty, their allies and others who were dissatisfied for various reasons with English government of the country. The rebellion ended with the 1583 death of Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond and the defeat of the rebels.

The rebellion was in equal part a protest by feudal lords against the intrusion of central government into their domains, a conservative Irish reaction to English policies that were altering traditional Gaelic society; and a religious conflict, in which the rebels claimed that they were upholding Catholicism against a Protestant queen who had been pronounced a heretic in 1570 by the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis.

The result of the rebellions was the destruction of the Desmond dynasty and the subsequent Munster Plantations – the colonisation of Munster with English settlers. In addition the fighting laid waste to a large part of the south of Ireland. War-related famine and disease are thought to have killed up to a third of Munster's pre-war population.

17th century


Wars of Castro


Farnese defeat and the destruction of Castro

The Wars of Castro were a series of conflicts during the mid-17th century revolving around the ancient city of Castro (located in present-day Lazio, Italy), which eventually resulted in the city's destruction on 2 September 1649. The conflict was a result of a power struggle between the papacy – represented by members of two deeply entrenched Roman families and their popes, the Barberini and Pope Urban VIII and the Pamphili and Pope Innocent X – and the Farnese dukes of Parma, who controlled Castro and its surrounding territories as the Duchy of Castro.


Morean War

Part of the War of the Holy League
and the Ottoman–Venetian Wars

Result-Venetian victory

The Morean War (Italian: La guerra di Morea, Turkish: Mora Savaşı) is the better-known name for the Sixth Ottoman–Venetian War. The war was fought between 1684–1699, as part of the wider conflict known as the "Great Turkish War", between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Military operations ranged from Dalmatia to the Aegean Sea, but the war's major campaign was the Venetian conquest of the Morea (Peloponnese) peninsula in southern Greece. On the Venetian side, the war was fought to avenge the loss of Crete in the Cretan War (1645–1669), while the Ottomans were entangled in their northern frontier against the Habsburgs and were unable to concentrate their forces against the Republic. As such, the Morean War holds the distinction of being the only Ottoman–Venetian conflict from which Venice emerged victorious, gaining significant territory. Venice's expansionist revival would be short-lived however, as their gains were reversed by the Ottomans in 1715.

18th Century


Ottoman–Venetian War (1714–18)



The Seventh Ottoman–Venetian War was fought between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire between 1714 and 1718. It was the last conflict between the two powers, and ended with an Ottoman victory and the loss of Venice's major possession in the Greek peninsula, the Peloponnese (Morea). Venice was saved from a greater defeat by the intervention of Austria in 1716. The Austrian victories led to the signing of the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, which ended the war.

This war was also called the Second Morean War, the Small War or, in Croatia, the War of Sinj.


Holy League

The Holy League of 1717 was one of many coalitions organised by the Papal States to deal with the Ottoman threat. This last one comprised Portugal, the Republic of Venice and Malta. Throughout the 17th century several Holy Leagues were organised by Rome, the most famous of which finally managed to defeat the Ottoman fleet at the third Battle of Lepanto. However the resurgent threat of the Ottoman fleet continued until the early 18th century, and came again to the fore in the Seventh Ottoman–Venetian War of 1714–1718.  As with the previous Leagues, Rome organized the expedition, Venice financed it and a third party - usually a Catholic kingdom - was to provide the backbone of the fleet. Given that Spain was exhausted from the War of the Spanish Succession, the Pope appealed to Portugal which ended up sending a fleet to the Mediterranean. The efforts came to fruition in late July, when a combined fleet of Portuguese, Venetian, Papal and Maltese ships defeated the fleet of Kapudan Pasha Ibrahim Pasha[disambiguation needed] in the Battle of Matapan.

The outcome of 1717 as well as of the prior battles with the same goal, was that of restricting the Ottoman naval dominance to the eastern Mediterranean.

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