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Papal Bull

Print, Politics, and Propaganda in Renaissance Rome

Margaret Meserve

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How did Europe's oldest political institution come to grips with the disruptive new technology of print?

Printing thrived after it came to Rome in the 1460s. Renaissance scholars, poets, and pilgrims in the Eternal City formed a ready market for mass-produced books. But Rome was also a capital city—seat of the Renaissance papacy, home to its bureaucracy, and a hub of international diplomacy—and print played a role in these circles, too. In Papal Bull, Margaret Meserve uncovers a critical new dimension of the history of early Italian printing by revealing how the Renaissance popes wielded print…

How did Europe's oldest political institution come to grips with the disruptive new technology of print?

Printing thrived after it came to Rome in the 1460s. Renaissance scholars, poets, and pilgrims in the Eternal City formed a ready market for mass-produced books. But Rome was also a capital city—seat of the Renaissance papacy, home to its bureaucracy, and a hub of international diplomacy—and print played a role in these circles, too. In Papal Bull, Margaret Meserve uncovers a critical new dimension of the history of early Italian printing by revealing how the Renaissance popes wielded print as a political tool.

Over half a century of war and controversy—from approximately 1470 to 1520—the papacy and its agents deployed printed texts to potent effect, excommunicating enemies, pursuing diplomatic alliances, condemning heretics, publishing indulgences, promoting new traditions, and luring pilgrims and their money to the papal city. Early modern historians have long stressed the innovative press campaigns of the Protestant Reformers, but Meserve shows that the popes were even earlier adopters of the new technology, deploying mass communication many decades before Luther. The papacy astutely exploited the new medium to broadcast ancient claims to authority and underscore the centrality of Rome to Catholic Christendom.

Drawing on a vast archive, Papal Bull reveals how the Renaissance popes used print to project an authoritarian vision of their institution and their capital city, even as critics launched blistering attacks in print that foreshadowed the media wars of the coming Reformation. Papal publishing campaigns tested longstanding principles of canon law promulgation, developed new visual and graphic vocabularies, and prompted some of Europe's first printed pamphlet wars. An exciting interdisciplinary study based on new literary, historical, and bibliographical evidence, this book will appeal to students and scholars of the Italian Renaissance, the Reformation, and the history of the book.

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Papal Bull

Margaret Meserve

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Reviews

Reviews

All Catholics should really read it to understand the foundations of their religion... It is also essential-reading for scholars of most early European literatures, as these papal clashes reverberated in echoes, plagiarisms, and mimicries across the texts published across this content over at least the following century, and very much also into the present day.

Papal Bull is an expert guide to the world of printing in Renaissance Rome.[Meserve's] book, based on impeccable research, is as careful and thorough as anything that has been written on Rome in the pre-Reformation period.

Chronicling and analyzing the adoption of printing by the papacy, Papal Bull is a pathfinding work that crosses boundaries to make substantial contributions in more than one area of scholarship. Its take on the history of the Renaissance and Reformation will be of interest to a wide range of readers.

This is a marvellous subject, and it deserves a scholar as well-informed and meticulous as Margaret Meserve. How the papacy balanced its temporal and spiritual responsibilities, and the part print played in this dual government, its propaganda and advocacy, makes for a fascinating story, and Meserve tells it extraordinarily well.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
456
ISBN
9781421440446
Illustration Description
74 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Urbi et orbi
2. Humanists, Printers, and Others
3. Sixtus IV and His Pamphlet Wars
4. Broadsides in Basel
5. The Holy Face, Imprinted and in Print
6. Refugee Relics
7. Kissing

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Urbi et orbi
2. Humanists, Printers, and Others
3. Sixtus IV and His Pamphlet Wars
4. Broadsides in Basel
5. The Holy Face, Imprinted and in Print
6. Refugee Relics
7. Kissing the Papal Foot
8. Brand Julius
Conclusion
Abbreviations
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Margaret Meserve
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Margaret Meserve

Margaret Meserve is an associate professor of history, the Fabiano Collegiate Chair in Italian Studies, and the associate dean for the humanities and faculty affairs in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought and the editor and translator of the Commentaries of Pius II.