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A Spanish Canonist in Rome: Notes on the Career of Francisco Peña


This essay presents three vignettes illustrating the relationships between the Spanish canonist Francisco Peña and three of the Popes he served during his long Roman career: Sixtus V, Clement VIII, and Paul V. Examining the motives that brought these figures into conflict with one another, as well as the common goals that led them to collaborate, allows us to understand from a unique perspective the complexity of the power dynamics within the Roman Curia in relationship to the Spanish Crown. More generally, the study of the difficult relationships between Peña and the Popes can become a means to unpack, or at least to begin to appreciate, the multiple and multiform identities of post-Reformation Rome, at once the heir of its ancient imperial past and a distinctively modern experiment in intellectual hegemony, the capital of the Papal state and the center of a transnational and spiritual empire of souls, the See of Peter’s successors and the theater of the world.

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