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The Limits of Diplomatic Ritual: The Polish Embassy of Giovanni Francesco Commendone (1572–1573) and Criticism of Papal Legates in Early Modern Europe,

Author:

Charles Keenan

Boston College
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Abstract

Because papal ‘possession’ of authority in much of early modern Europe was often only achieved indirectly, through diplomatic representatives and the rituals surrounding them, many Europeans’ experience of the papacy revolved around the presence of papal diplomats abroad. This essay suggests that by investigating the rituals involved in the creation and reception of papal legates a latere, one can understand debates over papal involvement in secular politics. This essay examines the almost uniformly negative reactions to the embassy of Cardinal Giovanni Francesco Commendone (1524-1584) during the Polish interregnum of 1572-1573. It argues that criticism of Commendone’s actions in the royal election – and challenges to the rituals involved in his arrival – reveal a larger disjuncture in early modern political theory. While secular rulers believed they should be able to rule their states autonomously for respective reasons of state, the papacy and its representatives maintained that the pope had both the right and the duty to intervene in temporal affairs when necessary. Thus, criticism of papal legates suggests a broader critique of papal authority: namely, that the Roman pontiff should not be able to interfere in political affairs, even through representatives.

How to Cite: Keenan, C., (2016). The Limits of Diplomatic Ritual: The Polish Embassy of Giovanni Francesco Commendone (1572–1573) and Criticism of Papal Legates in Early Modern Europe,. Royal Studies Journal. 3(2), pp.90–111. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21039/rsj.v3i2.98
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Published on 19 Dec 2016.
Peer Reviewed

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