Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. By Christoph Weber, with the collaboration of Michael Becker. [Papste and Papsttum, Bande 29,1,2.] 2 vols. (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann. 1999. Pp.cxxxii, 438; 439-980 EUR100.00; EUR100.00.)
Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte. By Christoph Weber, with the collaboration of Michael Becker. [Papste und Papsttum, Binde 29,3,4.12 vols. (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann. 2001. Pp. xcii, 555; 558-981-EUR132.94; EUR90.00.)
Here are the first four volumes of a projected six-volume genealogy of the Italian nobility and its family connections to the Roman Catholic Church. All the more than five hundred families here delineated were related by blood or marriage to high office in the hierarchy. The overall impression of these stout tomes is stunning-from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth, the Italian ruling classes were, in effect, the leadership and administration of the universal church. The secular nobility and the ecclesiastical nobility were indistinguishable. The implications are vast-for church history, for Italian history, for European history-but I will confine myself here to a mere description. The indefatigable author, Christoph Weber, cites the technical assistance of Michael Becker in finding the graphic schemes which made the publication of these tables feasible, but the hard work of tracking down all of these families, the many thousands of names, through the libraries and archives of Italy was all his. It is difficult to imagine that he has accomplished this in one lifetime, even though he is adding this masterpiece to a long list of publications.
The first two volumes concentrate on Rome and the Papal State, Tuscany, and northern Italy, deliberately postponing inclusion of "sovereign houses of Italy" and important families such as the Gonzaga, Este, de'Medici, Farnese, Pico, and others (1, xxi). Volumes III and IV cover Piedmont and Monferrato, Sicily, the Venetian mainland, and Naples. These last also cover the remaining papal families-Cossa, Piccolomini, Borgia, de'Medici, Farnese, Carafa, and Ghislieri, "so that we approach a complete series of papal families from 1404 to 1922"(111, vii). Some few popes "who rose to the throne as 'homines novi'" are not included (111, vii). Remaining celebrated church-connected families-Colonna, Orsini, Caracciolo, Sanseverino, Gonzaga, Este, Ferrero, Gambara, Bentivoglioand others await the publication of Volumes V and VI.
The introduction to Volume I includes a trenchant analysis of the literature, both printed and manuscript, with numerous insightful comments on the authors and their productions. …