Also, in the evening, I am working my way though Trent: What Happened at the Council by John O’Malley. [US HERE – UK HERE] Not exactly the most conservative of scholars, but he has done his homework. What really impressed me was his laying out of the context, leading up to the Council of Trent.
This impressed me:
Fifty days to elect Clement VII. Two days to elect his successor. Why such a contrast? Cardinals from contending camps converged in their dismay over Clement’s seemingly shilly-shallying policies, which many blamed for the sack of Rome. More important, the mood had shifted. Concern, even panic, over what the future might hold was widespread. The sack, a portent of worse things to come? The Turks, seemingly unstoppable on the eastern frontier, controlled the eastern Mediterranean and raided southern Italian cities almost at will. The Schmalkaldic League threatened war in Germany. Luther was still at large. His teachings had spread far and wide throughout northern Europe and, the unthinkable, had penetrated even into Italy. England was in schism. In this perilous time the French king seemed to be playing a duplicitous game. Something had to change. In Alessandro Farnese, who at sixty-seven was the oldest participant in the conclave, the others saw a man they thought was up to the task. Farnese had been a cardinal since 1492, for forty-two years. He knew the ropes and knew how to make them work. Widely respected for his diplomatic skills, his firmness of purpose, his intelligence, and his good judgment, he had not hidden his disagreements with Clement’s political policies or Clement’s disregard of his advice. In the rivalry between Charles and Francis, he believed the Holy See needed to maintain a policy of absolute neutrality. He had long and publically proclaimed the necessity of a council. He seemed to be the man of the hour. Shortly after his election as Paul III, he announced three goals for his pontificate….
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