Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Il Papa Guerriero. Giulio II Nello Spazio Pubblico Europeo

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Il Papa Guerriero. Giulio II Nello Spazio Pubblico Europeo

Article excerpt

Il papa guerriero. Giulio II nello spazio pubblico europeo. By Massimo Rospocher. [Annali dell'Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico in Trento, Monografie, 65.] (Bologna: Società editrice il Mulino. 2015. Pp. 392. euro32,00 paperback. ISBN 978-88-15-25350-7.)

In writing this book, Massimo Rospocher aimed to provide not just a study of the representations of the policies and the personality of Pope Julius II in Italy and elsewhere in Europe but also a study of the dissemination of political news and opinions during a period of transition, when the printing press was coming into its own as an important medium of mass communication. He has succeeded in both his aims. Based on wide-ranging research, his book is also well written, with admirably clear exposition of the texts and the arguments based on them, mercifully free from jargon, and enhanced by many illustrations.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is Rospocher's demonstration of the common themes to be found in both learned Latin treatises and sermons, and in the ballads and cheap broadsheets sold in the streets. Themes of the golden age revived by the triumphant pope, and the identification of Julius II with Julius Caesar, for instance, appeared in humanist tracts and in doggerel verses that would have been sung and sold by street performers. The Roman Curia, he argues, actively participated in the promotion of the ideal of the "renovatio Imperii" (renewal of the empire) of the Roman Church as heir to the Roman Empire, recovering its rightful political and religious authority under Julius II. He sees this as "auto-promozione papale" (papal self-promotion, p. 106), assuming that Julius approved, even instigated, such propaganda. Although there were clear instances of Julius appealing to public opinion, as when he ordered hundreds of copies of his anathema against Venice to be printed, it is harder to prove that he knew and approved of the contents of street ballads, even if they did laud him as "Papa Iulio secondo che redriza tuto el mondo" (Pope Julius II who puts all the world to rights, p. …

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