Cardinal Decio Azzolino (1623-1689) has previously been known for his association with Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689). Thanks to the donation of the Azzolino Archive to the Biblioteca Comunale di Iesi in 1985 it is now possible to thoroughly study his career. This thesis is an attempt to outline Azzolino's life history and to examine his most important literary works: Aforismi politici (1667); History of the Papacy (1665); Voto nepotismo (1679).
Azzolino was appointed Cardinal in 1654. He became the leader of a faction in the Sacred College, the Squadrone Volante, which emerged as an independent group in the conclave of 1655. The Squadrone sought to strengthen papal authority through two central policies: reasserting the Papacy's political neutrality in relation to the Catholic secular powers, and furthering the administrative professionalization of the Curia. The major development in the latter process was the official institution of the office Secretary of State in 1644. During the long period of transition which gives the thesis its chronological limits, the Secretary of State took over the duties heretofore exercized by the Papal Nephew.
The Squadrone Volante functioned as a swing group and their politics focused on the papal conclaves. The election of Clement IX in 1667, in which Queen Christina played an important part by initiating an alliance between Louis XIV and the Squadrone, ushered in a brief period of cooperation between France and the Papacy. Azzolino was appointed Secretary of State in 1667. The election of Clement X in 1670 was a political setback for the faction. By the mid-1670's, so many of its members had died that it was now only a residue. But the policies of the Squadrone had penetrated to a broader base within the Sacred College, and were taken up by a new faction led by Benedetto Odescalchi, the Zelanti. It is my conclusion that Cardinal Azzolino and the Squadrone Volante had a greater role in the political reorientation and the administrative restructuring of the papal government during the second half of the 17th century than has heretofore been recognized.
|Publication status||Published - 1992|
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