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The Roman Question (Italian : Questione romana; Latin : Quaestio Romana) was a dispute regarding the temporal power of the popes as rulers of a civil territory in the context of the Italian Risorgimento. It ended with the Lateran Pacts between King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Pope Pius XI in 1929.
On 9 February 1849, the Roman Republic took over the government of the Papal States. In the following July, an intervention by French troops restored Pope Pius IX to power, making the Roman Question a hotly debated one even in the internal politics of France.
In July 1859, after France and Austria made an agreement that ended the short Second Italian War of Independence, an article headed "The Roman Question" in the Westminster Review expressed the opinion that the Papal States should be deprived of the Adriatic provinces and be restricted to the territory around Rome.This became a reality in the following year, when most of the Papal States were annexed by what became the Kingdom of Italy.
On February 18, 1861, the deputies of the first Italian Parliament assembled in Turin. On March 17, 1861, the Parliament proclaimed Victor Emmanuel II King of Italy, and on March 27, 1861, Rome was declared Capital of the Kingdom of Italy. However, the Italian Government could not take its seat in Rome because a French garrison (which had overthrown the Roman Republic), maintained there by Napoleon III of France, commanded by general Christophe Léon Louis Juchault de Lamoricière, was defending Pope Pius IX. Following the signing of the September Convention, the seat of government was moved from Turin to Florence in 1865.
The Pope remained totally opposed to the designs on Rome of Italian nationalism. Beginning in December 1869, the First Vatican Council was held in the city. Some historians have argued that its proclamation of the doctrine of papal infallibility in July 1870 had political as well as theological causes.
In July 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began. In early August, Napoleon III recalled his garrison from Rome and could no longer protect what remained of the Papal States. Widespread public demonstrations demanded that the Italian government take Rome. The Italian government took no direct action until the collapse of Napoleon at the battle of Sedan. King Victor Emmanuel II then sent Count Gustavo Ponza di San Martino to Pius IX with a personal letter offering a proposal that would have allowed the peaceful entry of the Italian Army into Rome, under the guise of protecting the pope.
According to Raffaele De Cesare:
The Pope's reception of San Martino [10 September 1870] was unfriendly. Pius IX allowed violent outbursts to escape him. Throwing the King's letter upon the table he exclaimed, "Fine loyalty! You are all a set of vipers, of whited sepulchres, and wanting in faith." He was perhaps alluding to other letters received from the King. After, growing calmer, he exclaimed: "I am no prophet, nor son of a prophet, but I tell you, you will never enter Rome!" San Martino was so mortified that he left the next day.
The Italian army, commanded by General Raffaele Cadorna, crossed the frontier on 11 September and advanced slowly toward Rome, hoping that an unopposed entry could be negotiated. The Italian army reached the Aurelian Walls on 19 September and placed Rome under a state of siege. Pius IX decided that the surrender of the city would be granted only after his troops had put up a token resistance, enough to make it plain that the takeover was not freely accepted. On 20 September, after a cannonade of three hours had breached the Aurelian Walls at Porta Pia, the Bersaglieri entered Rome (see capture of Rome). Forty-nine Italian soldiers and 19 Papal Zouaves died. Rome and the region of Lazio were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy after a plebiscite.
Again, according to Raffaele De Cesare:
The Roman question was the stone tied to Napoleon's feet—that dragged him into the abyss. He never forgot, even in August 1870, a month before Sedan, that he was a sovereign of a Catholic country, that he had been made emperor, and was supported by the votes of the conservatives and the influence of the clergy; and that it was his supreme duty not to abandon the pontiff.... For twenty years Napoleon III had been the true sovereign of Rome, where he had many friends and relations.... Without him the temporal power would never have been reconstituted, nor, being reconstituted, would have endured."
Pope Pius IX and succeeding popes Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, and Pius XI took great care not to recognize the legitimacy of the Italian government following the capture of Rome. Several options were considered, including giving the city a status similar to that of Moscow at the time[ citation needed ] (which, despite being the capital of Russia,[ citation needed ] was not the seat of government), but there was widespread agreement that Rome must be the capital to ensure the survival of the new state. However, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy refused to take residence in the Quirinal Palace, and foreign powers were likewise uneasy with the move. The British ambassador noted the apparent contradiction of a secular government sharing the city with a religious government, while the French foreign minister wrote:
If [Italy] would consent to view Florence as the seat of government, it would solve the Papal question. It would show great sense, and the political credit it would thereby garner, as well as the honor, would offer a considerable advantage...Rome, under royal rule—an integral part of the Italian nation, but remaining Holy or, better yet, the Dominant center of the domain of the faith—would lose none of its prestige and would redound to Italy's credit. And conciliation would then come about naturally, because the pope would become accustomed to seeing himself as living in his own home, not having a king around.
However, the government refused such suggestions and the king eventually took up residence in the Quirinal Palace. Regarded by Roman citizens as the ultimate sign of authority in the city, the Quirinal had been built and used by previous popes. When asked for the keys, Pius IX reportedly said, "Whom do these thieves think they are kidding asking for the keys to open the door? Let them knock it down if they like. Bonaparte's soldiers, when they wanted to seize Pius VI, came through the window, but even they did not have the effrontery to ask for the keys". A locksmith was later hired.
Italy's Law of Guarantees, passed by the senate and chamber of the Italian parliament on 13 May 1871, accorded the Pope certain honors and privileges similar to those enjoyed by the King of Italy, including the right to send and receive ambassadors who would have full diplomatic immunity, just as if he still had temporal power as ruler of a state. The law was intended to attempt to avoid further antagonizing the pope following unification and was roundly criticized by anti-clerical politicians of all alignments, but particularly on the left. At the same time, it subjected the papacy to a law that the Italian parliament could modify or abrogate at any time.
Pope Pius IX and his successors refused to recognize the right of the Italian king to reign over what had formerly been the Papal States, or the right of the Italian government to decide his prerogatives and make laws for him.Asserting that the Holy See needed to maintain clearly manifested independence from any political power in its exercise of spiritual jurisdiction, and that the Pope should not appear to be merely a "chaplain of the King of Italy", Pius IX rejected the Law of Papal Guarantees with its offer of an annual financial payment to the Pope.
Despite the Italian state's repeated assurances of the Pope's absolute liberty of movement within Italy and abroad, the popes refused to set foot outside the walls of the Vatican and thereby put themselves under the protection of the Italian forces of law and order, an implicit recognition of the changed situation. Consequently, the description "prisoners of the Vatican" was applied to them,until the Lateran Treaty of 1929 settled the Roman Question by establishing Vatican City as an independent state.
During this time, Italian nobility who owed their titles to the Holy See rather than the Kingdom of Italy became known as the Black Nobility as they were considered to be in mourning.
Several times during his pontificate, Pius IX considered leaving Rome a second time. He had fled Rome in disguise in November 1848, following the assassination of his Minister of Finance, Count Pellegrino Rossi. One occurrence was in 1862, when Giuseppe Garibaldi was in Sicily gathering volunteers for a campaign to take Rome under the slogan Roma o Morte (Rome or Death). On 26 July 1862, before Garibaldi and his volunteers were stopped at Aspromonte,
Pius IX confided his fears to Lord Odo Russell, the British Minister in Rome, and asked whether he would be granted political asylum in England after the Italian troops had marched in. Odo Russell assured him that he would be granted asylum if the need arose, but said that he was sure that the Pope's fears were unfounded.
Another instance and rumours of others occurred after the Capture of Rome and the suspension of the First Vatican Council. These were confided by Otto von Bismarck to Julius Hermann Moritz Busch:
As a matter of fact, he has already asked whether we could grant him asylum. I have no objection to it—Cologne or Fulda. It would be passing strange, but after all not so inexplicable, and it would be very useful to us to be recognised by Catholics as what we really are, that is to say, the sole power now existing that is capable of protecting the head of their Church. [...] But the King [later to become Wilhelm I, German Emperor] will not consent. He is terribly afraid. He thinks all Prussia would be perverted and he himself would be obliged to become a Catholic. I told him, however, that if the Pope begged for asylum he could not refuse it. He would have to grant it as ruler of ten million Catholic subjects who would desire to see the head of their Church protected.
Rumours have already been circulated on various occasions to the effect that the Pope intends to leave Rome. According to the latest of these the Council, which was adjourned in the summer, will be reopened at another place, some persons mentioning Malta and others Trient. [...] Doubtless the main object of this gathering will be to elicit from the assembled fathers a strong declaration in favour of the necessity of the Temporal Power. Obviously a secondary object of this Parliament of Bishops, convoked away from Rome, would be to demonstrate to Europe that the Vatican does not enjoy the necessary liberty, although the Act of Guarantee proves that the Italian Government, in its desire for reconciliation and its readiness to meet the wishes of the Curia, has actually done everything that lies in its power.
The Lateran Treaty resolved the Roman Question in 1929; the Holy See acknowledged Italian sovereignty over the former Papal States and Italy recognized papal sovereignty over Vatican City. The Holy See limited its request for indemnity for the loss of the Papal States and of ecclesiastical property confiscated by the Italian State to much less than would have been due to it under the Law of Guarantees.
Historical novels such as Fabiola and Quo Vadis have been interpreted as comparing the treatment of the popes by the newly formed Kingdom of Italy to the persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire.
The First Vatican Council was convoked by Pope Pius IX on 29 June 1868, after a period of planning and preparation that began on 6 December 1864. This, the twentieth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, held three centuries after the Council of Trent, opened on 8 December 1869 and adjourned on 20 October 1870. Unlike the five earlier general councils held in Rome, which met in the Lateran Basilica and are known as Lateran councils, it met in the Vatican Basilica, hence its name. Its best-known decision is its definition of papal infallibility.
Pope Pius IX was head of the Catholic Church from 16 June 1846 to his death on 7 February 1878. He was the longest-reigning elected pope in history, serving for over 31 years. During his pontificate, Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council (1869–70), which decreed papal infallibility, but the council was cut short owing to the loss of the Papal States.
The Papal States, officially the State of the Church, were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the Pope, from the 8th century until 1870. They were among the major states of Italy from roughly the 8th century until the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia successfully unified the Italian Peninsula by conquest in a campaign virtually concluded in 1861 and definitively in 1870. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Romagna, and portions of Emilia. These holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.
Italian unification, also known as the Risorgimento, was the political and social movement that consolidated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of the Kingdom of Italy in the 19th century. The process began with the revolutions of 1848, inspired by previous rebellions in the 20s and 30s that contested the outcome of the Congress of Vienna, and was completed when Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy.
The Lateran Treaty was one component agreement that made up the Lateran Pacts of 1929, the agreements made in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See settling the "Roman Question". The treaty and associated pacts are named after the Lateran Palace, where they were signed on 11 February 1929. The Italian parliament ratified them on 7 June 1929. The Lateran Treaty recognized Vatican City as an independent state under the sovereignty of the Holy See. The Italian government, at the time led by Benito Mussolini as prime minister, also agreed to give the Roman Catholic Church financial compensation for the loss of the Papal States. In 1947, the Lateran Treaty was recognized in the Constitution of Italy as regulating the relations between the state and the Catholic Church.
The temporal power or jurisdiction of the Holy See designates the political and secular influence of the Holy See, that is jurisdiction of the pope of the Catholic Church, as distinguished from spiritual and pastoral activity.
The Roman Republic was a short-lived state declared on 9 February 1849, when the government of the Papal States was temporarily replaced by a republican government due to Pope Pius IX's flight to Gaeta. The republic was led by Carlo Armellini, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Aurelio Saffi. Together they formed a triumvirate, a reflection of a form of government seen in the ancient Roman Republic.
A prisoner in the Vatican or prisoner of the Vatican is how Pope Pius IX was described following the capture of Rome by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy on 20 September 1870. Part of the process of Italian unification, the city's capture ended the millennial temporal rule of the popes over central Italy and allowed Rome to be designated the capital of the new nation. The appellation is also applied to Pius' successors through Pope Pius XI.
Pietro Gasparri, GCTE was a Roman Catholic cardinal, diplomat and politician in the Roman Curia and the signatory of the Lateran Pacts. He served also as Cardinal Secretary of State under Popes Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI.
The September Convention was a treaty, signed on 15 September 1864, between the Kingdom of Italy and the French Empire, under which:
The death of Pope Gregory XVI on 1 June 1846 triggered the papal conclave of 1846. Fifty of the 62 members of the College of Cardinals assembled in the Quirinal Palace, one of the papal palaces in Rome and the seat of two earlier 19th century conclaves. The conclave began on 14 June and had to elect a pope who would not only be head of the Catholic Church but also the head of state and government of the Papal States, the extensive lands around Rome and Northern Italy which the Catholic Church governed.
The papal conclave of 1878, which resulted from the death of Pope Pius IX on 7 February 1878, met from 18 to 20 February. The conclave followed the longest reign of any other pope since Saint Peter. It was the first election of a pope who would not rule the Papal States. It was the first to meet in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican because the venue used earlier in the 19th century, the Quirinal Palace, was now the palace of the King of Italy, Umberto I.
The history of the papacy, the office held by the pope as head of the Catholic Church, according to Catholic doctrine, spans from the time of Peter to the present day.
The black nobility or black aristocracy are Roman aristocratic families who sided with the Papacy under Pope Pius IX after the Savoy family-led army of the Kingdom of Italy entered Rome on 20 September 1870, overthrew the Pope and the Papal States, and took over the Quirinal Palace, and any nobles subsequently ennobled by the Pope prior to the 1929 Lateran Treaty.
The Capture of Rome, on 20 September 1870 was the final event of the long process of Italian unification known as the Risorgimento, marking both the final defeat of the Papal States under Pope Pius IX and the unification of the Italian peninsula under King Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy.
Vatican during the Savoyard Era 1870-1929 describes the relation of the Vatican to Italy, after 1870, which marked the end of the Papal State and 1929, when the papacy regained autonomy in the Lateran Treaty, a period dominated by the Roman Question.
In 1867, the French pacifist Charles Lemonnier (1806-1891) convened the Congress of Peace in Geneva, known as the International League of Peace and Liberty. It was ultimately at this conference that it was decided to abolish the sovereignty and international relations of the Holy See, something which Pius IX blamed on secret societies.
Foreign relations between Pope Pius IX and Italy were characterized by an extensive political and diplomatic conflict over Italian unification and the subsequent status of Rome after the victory of the liberal revolutionaries.
The Papal States under Pope Pius IX assumed a much more modern and secular character than had been seen under previous pontificates, and yet this progressive modernization was not nearly sufficient in resisting the tide of political liberalization and unification in Italy during the middle of the 19th century.
The Law of Guarantees, sometimes also called the Law of Papal Guarantees was the name given to the law passed by the senate and chamber of the Italian parliament, 13 May, 1871, concerning the prerogatives of the Holy See, and the relations between State and Church in the Kingdom of Italy. It guaranteed sovereign prerogatives to the Roman Pontiff, who had been deprived of the territory of the papal states. The popes refused to accept the law, as it was enacted by a foreign government and could therefore be revoked at will, leaving the popes without a full claim to sovereign status. In response, the popes declared themselves prisoners of the Vatican. The ensuing Roman Question was not resolved until the Lateran Pacts of 1929.