Roman Question

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The breach of Porta Pia, on the right, in a contemporaneous photograph. BrecciaPortaPia.jpg
The breach of Porta Pia, on the right, in a contemporaneous photograph.

The Roman Question (Italian : Questione romana; Latin : Quaestio Romana) [1] 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.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Pope Leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the bishop of Rome and leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

Victor Emmanuel III of Italy King of Italy from 1900–1946

Victor Emmanuel III was the King of Italy from 29 July 1900 until his abdication on 9 May 1946. In addition, he held the thrones of Ethiopia and Albania as Emperor of Ethiopia (1936–1941) and King of the Albanians (1939–1943). During his reign of nearly 46 years, which began after the assassination of his father Umberto I, the Kingdom of Italy became involved in two world wars. His reign also encompassed the birth, rise, and fall of Italian Fascism and its regime.

Contents

International interest

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. [2]

Roman Republic (19th century) short-lived state entity declared on February 9, 1849

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.

Papal States Territories mostly in the Appenine Peninsula under the sovereign direct rule of the pope between 752–1870

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.

Pope Pius IX 255th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti, 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 the history of the Catholic Church, 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.

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. [3] This became a reality in the following year, when most of the Papal States were annexed by what became the Kingdom of Italy.

Second Italian War of Independence war of national liberation, Italy 1859

The Second Italian War of Independence, also called the Franco-Austrian War, Austro-Sardinian War or Italian War of 1859, was fought by the French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia against the Austrian Empire in 1859 and played a crucial part in the process of Italian unification.

Kingdom of Italy kingdom on the Appenine Peninsula between 1861 and 1946

The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when civil discontent led an institutional referendum to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.

Claims of the Kingdom of Italy

Italian unification process. Italy unification 1815 1870.jpg
Italian unification process.

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.

Turin Comune in Piedmont, Italy

Turin is a city and an important business and cultural centre in northern Italy. It is the capital city of Piedmont and of the Metropolitan City of Turin, and was the first Italian capital from 1861 to 1865. The city is located mainly on the western bank of the Po River, in front of Susa Valley, and is surrounded by the western Alpine arch and Superga Hill. The population of the city proper is 875,698 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat to be 1.7 million inhabitants. The Turin metropolitan area is estimated by the OECD to have a population of 2.2 million.

The September Convention was a treaty, signed on 15 September 1864, between the Kingdom of Italy and the French Empire, under which:

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.

Italian nationalism

Italian nationalism asserts that the Italians are a nation with a single identity and seeks to promote the cultural unity of Italy as a country, in a definition of Italianness claiming descent from the Latins who originally dwelt in Latium and came to dominate the Italian peninsula and much of Europe. Italian nationalism has also historically adhered to imperialist theories. The romantic version of such views is known as Italian patriotism, while their integral version is known as Italian fascism.

First Vatican Council synod

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.

Papal infallibility

Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error "when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church." Infallibility is, according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, "more than a simple, de facto absence of error. It is a positive perfection, ruling out the possibility of error".

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.

Franco-Prussian War Conflict between the Kingdom of Prussia and several other german kingdoms and (grand) duchies and the Second French Empire

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and merely exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, however, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.

Napoleon III French emperor, president, and member of the House of Bonaparte

Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, was the first President of France from 1848 to 1852, and the last French monarch from 1852 to 1870. First elected president of the French Second Republic in 1848, he seized power in 1851, when he could not constitutionally be re-elected, and became the Emperor of the French. He founded the Second French Empire and was its only emperor until the defeat of the French army and his capture by Prussia and its allies in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He worked to modernize the French economy, rebuilt the center of Paris, expanded the overseas empire, and engaged in the Crimean War and the Second Italian War of Independence.

Battle of Sedan battle during the Franco-Prussian War

The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War from 1 to 2 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French government.

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. [4]

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." [5]

Dilemma

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. [6]

Law of Papal Guarantees

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. [7] 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", [8] 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, [9] 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.

Plans to leave Rome

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. [10]

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. [11]

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. [12]

Lateran Treaty

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. [13]

Literature

Historical dramas 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. [14]

See also

Notes

  1. Brendel, Otto (1942). Washington University Studies: New series, Language and literature. Washington University.
  2. Pyat, Félix (1849). Question romaine: affaire du 13 juin: lettre aux électeurs de la Seine, de la Nièvre et du Cher. Lausanne: Société éditrice l'Union. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  3. "The Roman Question" in The Westminster Review, No. CXLI, July 1859, pp. 120–121
  4. De Cesare, 1909, p. 444.
  5. De Cesare, 1909, pp. 440–443.
  6. Kertzer 2004, pp. 79–83.
  7. "Law of Guarantees". Catholic Encyclopedia . Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  8. Pollard, 2005, p. 11.
  9. Kertzer, David I. (2006-02-20). Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes, the Kings, and Garibaldi's Rebels in the Struggle to Rule Modern Italy. HMH. ISBN   9780547347165.
  10. Jasper Ridley, Garibaldi, Viking Press, New York (1976) p. 535
  11. Moritz Busch, Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of His History, Vol. I, Macmillan (1898) p. 220, entry for 8 November 1870
  12. Moritz Busch, Bismarck: Some Secret Pages of His History, Vol. II, Macmillan (1898) pp. 43–44, entry for 3 March 1872
  13. "Text of the Lateran Treaty of 1929". www.aloha.net. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  14. Pollard, 2005, p. 10.

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References