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Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian Stateby David I Kertzer
Synopses & Reviews
We think of Italy as an ancient nation, but in fact the unified Italian state was born only in the nineteenth century — and only against the adamant refusal of the pope to relinquish his rule of Rome. In this riveting chronicle of international intrigue, the renowned historian David Kertzer delves into secret Vatican archives to reveal a venomous conflict that kept the pope a self-imposed prisoner of the Vatican for more than fifty years.
King Victor Emmanuel, his nemesis Garibaldi, the French emperor Napoleon III, England, Spain, Germany, Austria, and even America play a part in this astonishing drama. On September 20, 1870, the king's battle to unite the disparate Italian states came to a head when his troops broke through the walls of Rome, which the pope had ruled for centuries. Pope Pius IX, ensconced with the Vatican Council, denounced the usurpers and plotted with his advisers to regain power or else flee Italy altogether. A dramatic struggle unfolded over the next two decades, pitting church against state and the nations of Europe against one another. This is a story of outrageous accusations, mutual denunciations, raucous demonstrations, frenetic diplomacy, and secret dealings. Rocks were hurled along with epithets, and war across Europe seemed inevitable.
The antagonists were as explosive as the events. Pius IX, the most important pontiff in modern history, engineered the doctrine of papal infallibility but ended his days reviled and denounced. The blustering Victor Emmanuel schemed behind the backs of his own ministers. Garibaldi, Italy's dashing national hero, committed naive and dangerous mistakes. Beyond Italy, the popes main protector, Napoleon III, was himself being taken prisoner.
This devastating conflict, almost entirely unknown until now, still leaves a deep mark on the Italian soul. No one who reads David Kertzer's revelatory account will ever think of Italy or the Vatican in quite the same way again.
"'Modern Italy was founded... over the dead body of Pope Pius IX,' writes Kertzer, author of the National Jewish Book Award — winning The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (also a National Book Award finalist), in this riveting and fast-paced chronicle of the rise of the Italian state and the Vatican's forgotten battle against the nationalists to retain power over Rome. In 1870, Victor Emmanuel II, king of a newly united Italy, sought an agreement with Pius IX in which the pope would rule the Tiber's right bank while the king would govern the left bank. When the pope rejected this arrangement, Italian troops seized power in Rome and Pius IX sought refuge in the Vatican palaces, declaring himself a prisoner. Led by Garibaldi and aided by Catholic France, the nationalists gained control in 1878, and so angered were nationalists at Pius IX that in 1881 protesters almost succeeded in dumping his corpse into the Tiber. The animosity between the pope and the state continued until 1929, when Mussolini and the Vatican signed a concordat in which the Vatican recognized the legitimacy of the Italian state and the Vatican was granted the rights of a sovereign state. Kertzer, given access to newly opened Vatican archives, tells a first-rate tale of the political intrigues and corrupt characters of a newly emerging nation, offers history writing at its best, and provides insight into a little-known chapter in religious and political history. 16 pages of b&w photos, 5 maps. Agent, Ted Chichak. (Nov. 15)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Praise for David Kertzer and Prisoner of the Vatican:
"Kertzer once again proves himself a truly compelling historian." — André Aciman
"Prisoner of the Vatican reads like exciting fiction. And it has astounding contemporary relevance." — Alfred Uhry
"Kertzers careful scholarship and lucid writing make the human character of this religious institution quite clear." — James Carroll
"Fascinating." — Entertainment Weekly
"Lively . . . filled with telling anecdotes and colorful descriptions of the various characters involved in the struggle." — America, the National Catholic Weekly
"Riveting and fast-paced . . . history writing at its best." — Publishers Weekly, starred review
"[A] rousing tale . . . from a masterful, controversial scholar." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A chilling and timely warning of what happens when religious power becomes synonymous with political power. If you love Italy, if you love Rome, this book is essential reading." — John Guare
"As magically spellbinding as it is enlightening, replete with colorful characters and complex international and ecclesiastical politics and intrigue. Kertzer is a national treasure and his latest book another masterpiece." — Kevin Madigan, associate professor, Harvard Divinity School
"This book is a gift to everyone who welcomes the emergence of buried history, and a boon to anyone who has ever wondered about the origins of the wonderful, tenuously unified place called modern Italy." — Tracy Kidder
David Kertzers absorbing history presents an astonishing account of the birth of modern Italy and the clandestine politics behind the Vaticans last stand in the battle between church and the newly created Italian state. Drawing on a wealth of secret documents long buried in the Vatican archives, Kertzer reveals a fascinating story of outrageous accusations, mutual denunciations, raucous demonstrations, and secret dealings.
When Italys armies seized the Holy City and claimed it for the Italian capital, Pope Pius IX, outraged, retreated to the Vatican and declared himself a prisoner, calling on foreign powers to force the Italians out of Rome. The action set in motion decades of political intrigues that hinged on such fascinating characters as Garibaldi, King Viktor Emmanuel, Napoleon III, and Chancellor Bismarck. No one who reads this eye-opening book will ever think of Italy, or the Vatican, in quite the same way again.
"A gripping account of this little-known story." — Washington Post
A suspenseful and even captivating read . . . Kertzer illuminates one of historys darker corners.” — Providence Journal
"Extraordinary . . . Kertzer describes intrigue, spying, disinformation, and public relations campaigns worthy of any contemporary spy novel." — Seattle Times
David I. Kertzer is author of several illuminating works of history, including The Popes Against the Jews and The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, a National Book Award finalist. A professor of anthropology and Italian studies at Brown University, he lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
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 19th century.
About the Author
David I. Kertzer is the author of, among other books, Prisoner of the Vatican, The Popes Against the Jews, and The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, winner of the National Jewish Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Award. He is provost of Brown University and professor of anthropology and Italian studies.
Table of Contents
list of maps and illustrations ix prologue xi
Introduction: Italys Birth and Near Demise 1
1. Destroying the Papal States 9 2. The Pope Becomes Infallible 22 3. The Last Days of Papal Rome 33 4. Conquering the Holy City 50 5. The Leonine City 59 6. The Reluctant King 73 7. Pius IX in Exile Again? 85 8. The Papal Martyr 100 9. Anticlericalism in Rome 109 10. Two Deaths 123 11. Picking a New Pope 137 12. Keeping the Bishops in Line 159 13. The Popes Body 179 14. Rumors of a French Conspiracy 198 15. Preparing for Exile 207 16. Hopes Dashed 214 17. The Bishops Lament 229 18. Fears of a European War 239 19. Giordano Brunos Revenge 258 20. The Popes Secret Plan 272
Epilogue: Italy and the Pope 286
acknowledgments 299 notes 301 references cited 334 illustration sources 343 index 345
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