Great Britain and the Holy See
The Diplomatic Relations Question, 1846-1852
In an effort to understand British-Papal relations during the nineteenth century, James Flint examines the diplomatic relations between Great Britain and the Holy See during the first Russell ministry of 1846-1852. Earlier studies often blame the ministry's failure to establish relations with Pope Pius IX on assorted British blunders, either by ministers or (in a crucial instance) by the House of Lords. But Flint's extensive research in the Vatican archives finds that even the most skillful British campaign would have found it difficult to set up diplomatic relations that, for the most part, the Papal government did not want.
This book is the first complete study of this diplomatic incident and of its implications for understanding the long history of unease between Great Britain and the Holy See. Flint explains that the Roman Curia rightly feared that an accredited British diplomat might demand unwelcome reforms within the Papal States, or even act in a way inimical to the Pope's temporal power. Of great concern was that a British mission in Rome might pressure the Holy See to use its authority to make Catholic Ireland more amenable to British rule.
Throughout the book, Flint is careful to define Ireland's role as the unspoken third party in the discussion. Determined not to see their church used as a bargaining chip, the more nationalistic bishops and the officials of the Irish College in Rome both kept a wary eye upon British activity and made their views known to the Roman authorities. The Potato Famine, the 1848 Revolutions, and the Papal Aggression uproar all contributed to a growing impasse that left the Papal and British governments further apart when the Russell ministry left office than when it entered.
James P. Flint, O.S.B., is Instructor of History at Benedictine University and is Archivist and Historian at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
"An admirable book . . . Great Britain and the Holy See must be judged as a model of meticulous historical research, narrative, and analysis. The documentation is exemplary, and the awareness of relevant secondary works is comprehensive. Flint's conclusions are set forth in a manner that is at once clear, elegant, and persuasive."—Walter L. Arnstein, The Historian
"This book is a valuable study of a neglected topic in mid-nineteenth century international history: the effort of the British government to establish diplomatic relations with the papacy during the 1848 revolutionary era. . . . This is the best study of Anglo-papal relations during this period that I know. Whereas most studies of this period have tended to stress, as Flint points out, the British side of the story, this work holds the balance, giving a perceptive account of men and events both in Rome and London. It is solidly based on all the necessary archival and other materials. Moreover, it is well-written, with a certain dry humour. Anyone interested in the British, papal, or diplomatic history of the period would benefit by reading it."—Alan J. Reinerman, International History Review
"James P. Flint's detailed analysis of the dysfunctions of British-papal diplomacy during the first Russell ministry (1846-1852) confirms that the careful study of failure often produces valuable historical insight...Flint's work adds to our understanding of the complexities of British and Roman foreign policy at a crucial juncture in European history. . . . The rich narrative and its remarkable notes are enhanced by the author's measured assessments of personalities and events. . . . Those interested in the 1948 revolutions, the evolution of European church-state relations and papal diplomacy, and the domestic and international preoccupations of Britain at mid-century will benefit from its insights and analysis."- Paul A. Townend, American Historical Review
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