Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes' Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian State

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004 - History - 357 pages
We think of Italy as an ancient nation, but in fact the unified Italian state was born only in the nineteenth century — and only against the adamant refusal of the pope to relinquish his rule of Rome. In this riveting chronicle of international intrigue, the renowned historian David Kertzer delves into secret Vatican archives to reveal a venomous conflict that kept the pope a self-imposed prisoner of the Vatican for more than fifty years.
King Victor Emmanuel, his nemesis Garibaldi, the French emperor Napoleon III, England, Spain, Germany, Austria, and even America play a part in this astonishing drama. On September 20, 1870, the king's battle to unite the disparate Italian states came to a head when his troops broke through the walls of Rome, which the pope had ruled for centuries. Pope Pius IX, ensconced with the Vatican Council, denounced the usurpers and plotted with his advisers to regain power or else flee Italy altogether. A dramatic struggle unfolded over the next two decades, pitting church against state and the nations of Europe against one another. This is a story of outrageous accusations, mutual denunciations, raucous demonstrations, frenetic diplomacy, and secret dealings. Rocks were hurled along with epithets, and war across Europe seemed inevitable.
The antagonists were as explosive as the events. Pius IX, the most important pontiff in modern history, engineered the doctrine of papal infallibility but ended his days reviled and denounced. The blustering Victor Emmanuel schemed behind the backs of his own ministers. Garibaldi, Italy's dashing national hero, committed naive and dangerous mistakes. Beyond Italy, the pope's main protector, Napoleon III, was himself being taken prisoner.
This devastating conflict, almost entirely unknown until now, still leaves a deep mark on the Italian soul. No one who reads David Kertzer's revelatory account will ever think of Italy or the Vatican in quite the same way again.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jcbrunner - LibraryThing

Prisoner of the Vatican is the story of the conquest of the Papal state by the Italian government and the creation of the Vatican. Pope Pius IX was a piece of work and an opponent of everything modern ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bke - LibraryThing

Fascinating historical of politics and intrigue by a noted historian. Fills the gap in Italian history between the Romans and its unification in the 19th century. A rather large gap of which I had read little. Read full review

Contents

Italys Birth and Near Demise
1
Destroying the Papal States
9
The Pope Becomes infallible
22
The Last Days of Papal Rome
33
Conquering the Holy City
48
The Leonine City
57
The Reluctant King
69
Pius IX in Exile Again?
81
Rumors of a French Conspiracy
182
Preparing for Exile
185
Hopes Dashed
190
The Bishops Lament
201
Fears of a European War
211
Giordano Brunos Revenge
226
The Popes Secret Plan
238
Italy and the Pope
250

The Papal Martyr
93
Anticlericalism in Rome
101
Two Deaths
113
Picking a New Pope
125
Keeping the Bishops in Line
145
The Popes Body
163
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
261
NOTES
263
ILLUSTRATION SOURCES
305
INDEX
307
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

David I. Kertzer is the author of, among other books, Prisoner of the Vatican, The Popes Against the Jews, and The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, winner of the National Jewish Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Award. He is provost of Brown University and professor of anthropology and Italian studies.

Bibliographic information