Stella Fletcher

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online June 2012 | | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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Deriving from the Latin cardo (hinge), cardinals were originally priests permanently attached to particular churches. Roman cardinals were beneficiaries of the 11th- and 12th-century reforms that sought to diminish secular influence over the church by centralizing power in the person of the pope. They emerged from that process with enhanced individual and corporate powers. The 1059 codification of rules governing papal elections made them the principal electors of popes. This was refined by the Third Lateran Council (1179), which decreed that cardinals were the sole electors of popes, that their votes were of equal value with no distinction between those of cardinal-bishops, cardinal-priests, and cardinal-deacons, and that a two-thirds majority was required to secure an election. Between conclaves, popes and cardinals met together in regular consistories from c. 1130. Cardinals began to hold administrative offices within the Roman curia and to act as legates a latere, sent “from the side” of the pope to exercise his power in specific regions of Christendom. Their authority was further enhanced when they became protectors of newly reformed and centralized religious orders. Cardinals’ red hats were exclusively the gift of the popes who, from the 15th century onward, used them as diplomatic tools in their relations with the secular powers. Between 1350 and 1650 nearly one thousand individuals were made cardinals, even if approximately one tenth of that total have since been identified as “pseudo-cardinals,” the creations of antipopes. In this bibliography, Reference Works precede General Overviews, which deal with groups of cardinals. Collections of Papers include studies of individual cardinals and are therefore particularly useful for comparative purposes. Thereafter, attention focuses on the composition, privileges, and responsibilities of the Sacred College, with subsections devoted to particular features of their life in Rome (and Avignon): Cardinals in Conclaves for their role in papal elections, Cardinal Protectors for some of their functions between conclaves, and Cardinals’ Houses and Households for other aspects of their ecclesiastical and cultural patronage. The vast majority of scholarship relating to cardinals has been biographical in nature, which is why the remainder of the present work divides the subject chronologically, into Cardinals Created before 1471, Cardinals Created between 1471 and 1503, Cardinals Created between 1503 and 1534, Cardinals Created between 1534 and 1549, and Cardinals Created after 1549. In each there is a selection of primary sources and secondary literature, identified as “Sources” and “Studies,” respectively.

Article.  12154 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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