The 'Commentaries' of Pope Pius II (1458-1464) and the Crisis of the Fifteenth-Century Papacy

By Emily O’Brien

© 2015

Written in the mid-fifteenth century, Pope Pius II’s Commentaries are the only known autobiography of a reigning pontiff and a fundamental text in the history of Renaissance humanism.

In this book, Emily O’Brien positions Pius’ expansive autobiographical text within that century’s contentious debate over ecclesiastical sovereignty. Presenting the Commentaries as Pius’ response to the crisis of authority, legitimacy, and relevance that was engulfing the Renaissance papacy, she shows how the Commentaries function as both an aggressive assault on the papal monarchy’s chief opponents and a systematic defense of Pius’s own troubled pontificate and his pre-papal career. Illustrating how the language, imagery, and ideals of secular power inform Pius’ apologetic self-portrait, The Commentaries of Pope Pius II (1458–1464) and the Crisis of the Fifteenth-Century Papacy demonstrates the role that Pius and his writings played in the evolution of the Renaissance papacy.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.2in x 9.4in
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SKU# SP003742

  • PUBLISHED SEP 2015

    From: $50.25

    Regular Price: $67.00

    ISBN 9781442647633
  • PUBLISHED OCT 2015

    From: $50.25

    Regular Price: $67.00

Quick Overview

The Commentaries of Pope Pius II (1458–1464) and the Crisis of the Fifteenth-Century Papacy demonstrates the role that Pius and his writings played in the evolution of the Renaissance papacy.

The 'Commentaries' of Pope Pius II (1458-1464) and the Crisis of the Fifteenth-Century Papacy

By Emily O’Brien

© 2015

Written in the mid-fifteenth century, Pope Pius II’s Commentaries are the only known autobiography of a reigning pontiff and a fundamental text in the history of Renaissance humanism.

In this book, Emily O’Brien positions Pius’ expansive autobiographical text within that century’s contentious debate over ecclesiastical sovereignty. Presenting the Commentaries as Pius’ response to the crisis of authority, legitimacy, and relevance that was engulfing the Renaissance papacy, she shows how the Commentaries function as both an aggressive assault on the papal monarchy’s chief opponents and a systematic defense of Pius’s own troubled pontificate and his pre-papal career. Illustrating how the language, imagery, and ideals of secular power inform Pius’ apologetic self-portrait, The Commentaries of Pope Pius II (1458–1464) and the Crisis of the Fifteenth-Century Papacy demonstrates the role that Pius and his writings played in the evolution of the Renaissance papacy.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.2in x 9.4in
  • Reviews

    ‘This is a valuable study that serves to remind us of the importance of deep context and a thorough examination of historical evidence, not only in studying the papacy, but throughout the discipline.’


    Jennifer Mara DeSilva
    Sixteenth Century Studies vol 47:02:2016

    ‘We have to give a lot of credit to O’Brien’s efforts to untangle the complex political situation under Pius…. This excellent study concludes with notes, the bibliography, and the most welcome index.’


    Albrecht Classen
    Mediaevistik vol 29:2016

    ‘As a text, The Commentaries of Pope Pius II is one of the richest sources for the studies on fifteenth-century intellectual culture.’


    Barry Torch
    Renaissance and Reformation vol 40:02:2017

    ‘O’Brien’s book is a fascinating example of humanist history studied through the lens of politics. It is sure to stand at the center of future conversations about Pope Pius II’s Commentaries for years to come.’


    Brian Jeffrey Maxson
    Renaissance Quarterly vol 70: 01:2017

    The Commentaries of Pope Pius II (1458–1464) and the Crisis of the Fifteenth-Century Papacy offers a new and convincing interpretation of Pius’s Commentaries, which is without a doubt the richest and most discussed primary source for the fifteenth century papacy. The Commentaries, O’Brien argues, are both Pius’s apology for his early support of conciliarist ideas and his assertion of papal power. Her book thus demonstrates the essential interrelation of Church politics and humanist classical literature, placing her at the forefront of the study of the Renaissance papacy.”


    Anthony D'Elia, Department of History, Queen's University

    “Emily O’Brien’s work on Pope Pius II is the most interesting being done on that humanist pope in recent years. This book will be greatly welcomed by those of us interested in the Renaissance papacy, Italian political history, and the cultural heritage of the humanists.”


    Thomas M. Izbicki, Rutgers University Library
  • Author Information

    Emily O’Brien is an associate professor in the Departments of History and Humanities at Simon Fraser University.

  • Table of contents

    Introduction

    Chapter 1. An Institution in Crisis: the Papal Monarchy on the Eve of Pius’s Pontificate

    Chapter 2. The Conciliar Crisis in the Career of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini and the Pontificate of Pope Pius II

    Chapter 3. Papal Sovereignty and the Challenge of the Princes: the Experience of Aeneas and Pius

    Chapter 4. Pius II and the Triumph over Conciliarism: A New Reading of the Commentaries

    Chapter 5. The Triumph over the Princes and the Triumph of a Prince

    Chapter 6. Portraits of Princes in the Portrait of Pius II

    Conclusion

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