Gnadenmaschine Papsttum. Das römische Supplikenwesen zwischen Barmherzigkeit und Bürokratie. Beiträge zur Rechtsgeschichte Österreichs|Beiträge zur Rechtsgeschichte Österreichs Band 2 / 2015|
KeywordsRoman Curia, subjects’ supplications, Early Modern papacy, Papal States, Penitentiary, papal briefs of grace, grace and favor, Pope Paul V, Ferrara,Jurisprudence
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AbstractThis paper addresses the Early Modern papacy’s system of dealing with supplications (Suppliken). In the first part, the paper gives an overview of the papal stance towards supplications and points out why the papacy can justly be called a ‘grace machine’. In a second step, these general observations are followed by a specific analysis which takes a look inside the grace machine itself, so to speak, by reviewing sample supplications and briefs of grace (Gratialbreven) concerning the province of Ferrara during the pontificate of Pope Paul V (1605–1621). These sources shed light on the Pope’s role as territorial prince and on Rome’s stance towards the subjects’ petitionary letters in general. As it turns out, the dual character of the papacy – with its secular and spiritual spheres – shaped the policy towards supplications within the Papal States profoundly. Even though the subjects’ supplications were addressed to the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church, they also touched on issues of public administration, which in turn rendered those letters a concern of Rome’s bureaucratic apparatus. At the same time, however, since the cardinalnephew acted as the agent of papal grace, acts of grace of all kinds could easily be portrayed as acts of favor granted by the ruling family in order to commit the recipient to loyalty and allegiance. Thus, supplications addressed to the Pope had not only a religious-ecclesiastical dimension, but were also a political medium of communication between the ruler and his subjects.