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Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes, the Kings, and Garibaldi's Rebels in the Struggle to Rule Modern Italy

de David I. Kertzer

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Based on a wealth of documents long buried in the Vatican archives, Prisoner of the Vatican tells the story of the Church's secret attempt to block the unification of Italy and seize control - not in ancient times, but in the late nineteenth century. For more than fifty years, the pope was a self-imposed prisoner within the Vatican walls, planning to flee Italy, to return only as the restored ruler of Rome and the Papal States. The scheme to dismantle the newborn Italian nation involved not only the cardinals and the Curia but also attempts to exploit the rivalries among France, Germany, Austria, Spain, and England. Kertzer brings to light an untold drama played out among fascinating characters: Pope Pius IX, the most important pontiff in modern history; King Victor Emmanuel, working behind the backs of his own ministers; the dashing national hero Garibaldi; France's ill-starred Napoleon III, and many more. During this time, Italy was besieged from within and without, and Church history changed forever when the pope was declared infallible for the first time. Prisoner of the Vatican looks deep into the workings of the Church in its final bid to regain the pope's temporal power. Kertzer sweeps readers along with riveting, revelatory panache. No one who reads his new book will ever think of Italy, or the Vatican, in quite the same way again.… (mais)
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Prisoner of the Vatican is the story of the conquest of the Papal state by the Italian government and the creation of the Vatican. Pope Pius IX was a piece of work and an opponent of everything modern. His inflexibility and especially the crazy proclamation of Papal infallibility is still hurting Catholics today. One marvels how Rome would look today if Pius had been more flexible and forward-thinking. He could have kept the whole city (as the Italian king disliked living so far in the south). Fortunately, his general prevented major bloodshed when the Italian forces started to conquer the city, a project they miserably failed to do previously. Overall, a nice study of a bad pope and the relations between the Catholic Church and the early Italian state. ( )
  jcbrunner | Jan 31, 2016 |
Fascinating historical of politics and intrigue by a noted historian. Fills the gap in Italian history between the Romans and its unification in the 19th century. A rather large gap of which I had read little. ( )
  bke | Mar 30, 2014 |
First, let me say that unless you are totally enthralled by history (like I am!), you may not want to read this. This is not an historical novel, it is not a folksy history; it is definitely an intense historical look at the papal reigns of Pius IX and Leo XIII as well as the unification of Italy. So don't go into the book looking for a novel -- this isn't it! Having said that, if you DO like a very well-written history, then you will enjoy this one. I liked it so much I bought two other books by this author which I plan to get to before the month is over.

The author, David I. Kertzer, knows his stuff. He used a very wide range of original documents and did an enormous amount of research in preparation for this book, which is very obvious. It did take me about 3 days to finish, which is somewhat slow for me, but it was well worth all the time it took. I had my laptop with me while I read to quickly do some online encyclopedia work while I read through this book; I had no clue about Italy's history & especially not about the subject of this book.

Basic synopsis:
While Pius IX was the pope, Italy, which was not a fully unified nation at the time, unified. Land that was formerly ruled by the Pope called the Papal States was incorporated into Italy, including Rome. As if this wasn't bad enough, as the Franco-Prussian war erupted in 1870, the Pope's protectors, the French troops of French Emperor Napoleon III, had to return home to help in the war. The Italian government offered the Pope the Leonine City in Rome, but Pius thought that if he accepted the King's offer, this would have implied some sort of endorsement of the legitimacy of the Kingdom's rule over his former domain. The pope refused; Italy declared war and On September 20, the Italian army entered Rome and annexed it to the Kingdom of Italy. Pope Pius IX declared himself a "prisoner of the Vatican," although technically, he was free to move around or whatever. To add insult to injury, the King, Victor Emanuel II, moved his seat of government to Rome, to the Quirinal Palace.

The rest of the story deals with the politics of Leo XIII, who became the pope after Pius IX. The politics of the conclave are fascinating; all connected to European politics and machinations behind the scenes at the time. As Leo took papal office, many hoped for a change from the previous policies of Pius IX, but along with his choice of secretary of state Mariano Rampolla, the papal politics got even more intense: Leo XIII (under the guidance of Rampolla) threatened to go into exile so that foreign governments might aid him in winning back the former Papal States, by pressuring the Catholics throughout Europe to force their governments to go to war gainst Italy. But the problem was that this was a really volatile time among the great powers. It wasn't until 1929 and the Lateran Pacts between the Pope at the time and Mussolini, that any talk of trying to regain the Papal States was dropped.

Absolutely fascinating account; I learned so much from this one book that now I'm eager to branch out and learn more. Definitely recommended for history readers. ( )
  bcquinnsmom | May 12, 2006 |
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Based on a wealth of documents long buried in the Vatican archives, Prisoner of the Vatican tells the story of the Church's secret attempt to block the unification of Italy and seize control - not in ancient times, but in the late nineteenth century. For more than fifty years, the pope was a self-imposed prisoner within the Vatican walls, planning to flee Italy, to return only as the restored ruler of Rome and the Papal States. The scheme to dismantle the newborn Italian nation involved not only the cardinals and the Curia but also attempts to exploit the rivalries among France, Germany, Austria, Spain, and England. Kertzer brings to light an untold drama played out among fascinating characters: Pope Pius IX, the most important pontiff in modern history; King Victor Emmanuel, working behind the backs of his own ministers; the dashing national hero Garibaldi; France's ill-starred Napoleon III, and many more. During this time, Italy was besieged from within and without, and Church history changed forever when the pope was declared infallible for the first time. Prisoner of the Vatican looks deep into the workings of the Church in its final bid to regain the pope's temporal power. Kertzer sweeps readers along with riveting, revelatory panache. No one who reads his new book will ever think of Italy, or the Vatican, in quite the same way again.

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