When the pope was powerful, and why that changedtags: Benedict XVI, papacy, Vatican, Roman Catholicism
It’s difficult to pinpoint a precise moment when the office of the pope began to lose its vast political power, which had long placed the Holy See above even the kings and emperors of Europe, but has since declined to the point that now-retiring Pope Benedict XVI found few political accomplishments in his reign. But one day that stands out is Dec. 2, 1804.
A few weeks earlier, French voters had overwhelmingly approved a referendum elevating Napoleon Bonaparte from first consul to emperor, the beginning of the end of France’s democratic revolution. His coronation was to proceed in the manner of all Catholic monarchs, who still ruled most of Europe: he would kneel before the pope, then Pius VII, to receive a crown and blessing. The symbolism of the coronation reflected centuries of European political tradition, in which the Catholic church formally conferred royalty with the divine blessing that was thought necessary to rule; the church, in its power, had at times competed openly with those same monarchs....
comments powered by Disqus
- Joan Peters’s legacy assessed by one of her fiercest critics, Norman Finkelstein
- West Point historian says if his cadets can understand the history of war, so can Congress
- Australian historian Alan Atkinson wins $100,000 literary prize
- From his perch in Saudi Arabia, Princeton’s Mark Cohen says Jews and Muslims should remember they used to get along
- Duke honors historian John Hope Franklin with year-long series of events