DAILY LIFE IN PAPAL ROME IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY by Maurice Andrieux

DAILY LIFE IN PAPAL ROME IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The revolutionary winds of eighteenth-century Europe left untouched the most logical, because the most reactionary, monarchy of them all: the Papal States. It was a miracle, as M. Andrieux points out, for the papal government was nothing more than official chaos. The treasury was a sieve; the judicial system was a farce; the police were incompetent to the point of madness; the nobility lived in incredible luxury while the rest of the population was perennially on the verge of starvation. Yet, somehow, it worked; money was always found, justice was usually rendered, criminals were usually caught (though they were almost always pardoned), and the nobility, along with the state, always managed to find a few surplus pieces of gold to feed the people of Rome. The author has captured admirably the spirit of this never-never land, explaining the social, ecclesiastical, economic, political, emotional and intellectual constitution of that Wonder of the World, a State which combined the most despotic absolutism with an undreamed of freedom of action for the individual. If, occasionally, the colors seem-too rosy for belief, the author calls as witnesses certain contemporaries whose testimony cannot be suspected of bias, among them Casanova. A remarkably sound and readable popularization of the kind that French historians do so well. Unfortunately, however, the place and period are somewhat special for an American audience.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1969
Publisher: Macmillan