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Journal > Volumes > 44 (2013) / 2 (Summer)
The Conclaves of 1590 to 1592: An Electoral Crisis of the Early Modern Papacy?
Miles Pattenden
University of Bologna

This article reconstructs the politics behind the four papal elections that took place between 1590 and 1592, an apparently unusual period during which the papacy seems to have been undergoing an electoral crisis. It argues, however, that the impulse to select weak and short-lived candidates was in fact a rational response to the unusually fraught political situation in Europe as the only way to balance the competing needs of continuity in Rome and stability in the wider Catholic Church. The cardinals’ readiness to adopt this approach suggests that their selection of popes was more sophisticated than has sometimes been credited and that they recognized that strong government was not always a desirable end in the complex world of Roman politics.

Pages: 391 - 410