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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

slothinator

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This is a great line, even if the sentiment is more than a little naive.

Lambruschini is certainly a useful operator. It takes a certain knack to get in with the Neapolitans, and our Cardinal has certainly shown his worth in means, even if the ends didn’t pan out. Closer ties with Sardinia are always useful, however. Maybe Papal Italy has just come one step closer?

I would love to take credit for the line but it's actually something that the historical Ferdinand was fond of saying. Definitely naive, we saw how OTL treated the Two Sicilies.

Lambruschini did a very good job with what he could, unfortunately Ferdinand could not see the bigger picture. Maybe he was still burned from the failure of the Italian League. Sardinia is a very useful ally but they have the defect of being rather hungry for more influence, that will lead to problems down the line.
 
Chapter V: In Pursuit of Prestige

slothinator

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From the personal diaries of Cardinal Libero Cappellini

19v8ImUm.jpg

Gioachino Rossini

Thursday 29th of April 1841

I would have never imagined that my choice to join the priesthood would have brought me into contact with characters of the caliber of Rossini. When I wrote home with the news, Letizia all but demanded that I get an autograph for her. I confess that this caused me no lack of embarrassment, but the man proved jovial enough that he cordially accepted this capricious request.

But now I am rambling, and it is only proper that I start from my previous entry. In the months since I have been granted the scarlet, I have only met the Pope once and on that occasion he tasked me with, as he put it, "Giving a new artistic luster to our Holy Mother Church". Due to the current state of reaction in Italy, I thought this a difficult job but I sent my aides to Venice, Milan, Florence, and Naples in the hopes of finding some interested figures. Having had little promising news from these envoys, I wracked my brains to search for a candidate to keep me in the Pope's favor. It was at a visit to mother and father that the information arranged itself in my mind thanks to Letizia. She lamented the lack of any new work by Rossini since his recent retirement to Bologna and hoped that the retreat would not be as permanent as rumored. This prompted me to send an aide to the city with a letter summoning the great composer to Rome for a discussion about potential papal patronage. To my utmost delight, I soon received an answer in the positive and we arranged a meeting for the 27th where I paid particular attention to have Anna prepare a mouth-watering meal to grab the man by the stomach.

On the day itself, I welcomed the composer into the garden and led him to a well-furnished seating arrangement in the shade of the old stone pine with Anna periodically ferrying forth exquisite tidbits and refreshments. I had heard rumors about Rossini's declined emotional state but, if those rumors are true, he showed no sign of being in any less than excellent cheer. He soon began complimenting me on my promotion and enquiring after the path that had brought me thus far. I recoiled at such enthusiastic praise from a man who had achieved more in fifty years than I am likely to do in the time I have left but attempted my best to hide this reaction. It took all of my skills of persuasion to finally steer this remarkable individual from me to the reason he had come here in the first place. I began with my own acts of flattery which required little more than listing his many achievements and the great esteem that the world and my sister hold him in. I could have sworn that I noticed a momentary darkening in his features during my praise but it quickly disappeared as a new course presented itself. I proceeded to make plain my intentions and explain the Holy Father's desire for a fresh sheen to be placed upon the Church after the ignominy and blasphemy of the French Revolution. I assured him that, while his fame is already unparalleled, providing compositions for the glory of almighty God would surely secure for him both earthly and heavenly immortality. When I concluded my speech, he took on a grim shadow and stared for several moments into his glass of wine. I did not know how to react and kept silent as well to avoid offending him. As I opened my mouth to repeat my request, he suddenly accepted my proposal but asked to no longer speak of it and, as such, we spent the rest of the day amid pleasantries and amusing stories until the sun's setting provided a natural close to our symposium.

Upon leaving, he thanked me for the hospitality and assured me that I would be soon receiving his next religious production. I am still unsure of what to make of the man with his curious ways but I could certainly understand the feeling of being in the presence of some titanic figure. I am anxiously waiting for his promised work even as I review my behavior from that day. Who knows what other intriguing encounters this assignment will bring.

hmVpYyWm.jpg

Francesco Hayez

Monday 9th of October 1843

My trip to Milan was long and tiresome with bumpy carriage rides taking me from a pleasant autumn landscape to this foggy nether realm. I had hoped that I could be able to pursue my assignment all from the comfort of my own home but the absence of any more Papal artists and the importance of Hayez convinced me that I would have to attend to this business personally. I struggled to find his studio among all the narrow streets but finally, a church's bell tower provided the necessary landmark for me to locate the small building.

Upon knocking, I flinched when I noticed the artist himself opening the front door in a paint-stained coat and inviting me to the cozy interior. A wide window lit a half-finished canvas portraying a rather unhappy and underdressed woman while warm embers kept a slight glow coming from the fireplace. Hayez, or Francesco as he soon insisted I call him, got out a few pleasantries in the form of questions regarding my trip about which I promptly lied with the tale of some comfortable bucolic voyage. With such formalities out of the way, he jumped straight to reiterating the contents of my last letter and concluded by asking me if the Pope really did wish for his service. I assured him of this fact, upon which, he asked how much artistic freedom he would be granted by a man whose main aim appeared to be weeding out freedom wherever it dared to grow. I agreed that the Holy Father might be overzealous in his desire to protect the Church but that his need for great art to adorn the Eternal City is deeply held. He seemed unconvinced by my reply and went on to ask me why he should take the risk of moving from the relative comfort of his home to an uncertain fate in a foreign country. I then told him that, if living in the Papal States was his greatest concern, it would not be necessary but rather he could stay in Rome for the purpose of any sketches he might need, and then he could comfortably work at his residence. I spent some time to emphasize that the Pope was anxious to have a portrait of himself made by such a great artist and he would surely provide him with hospitality worthy of his talent.

Francesco took a moment to ponder this information before letting me know that he would accept those conditions and would be in contact with me to organize a sitting with the Holy Father. At this, he stood up from his chair and returned to work on his current canvas which I understood as my cue to collect my belongings, thank him and be on my way.

It all ended rather more abruptly than I would have liked and I had the unpleasant sensation of being no better than an annoying chore to be done with. The unease sat in my stomach on the way back to the carriage but, to be frank, I am thrilled to return home where I can finally see the sun again.
 
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Le Jones

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That's a very fine portrayal of Rossini in his (still debated) retirement.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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The issue of trying to recreate the renaissance all by yourself. It's 1843 however, so last year Verdi just made his first big splash with Nabbuco, which rather openly supports Italian unification. Maybe give him a bell?
 

DensleyBlair

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I was watching Amadeus the other day (the excellent National Theatre version from 2017) so it is amusing having this contrasting view of powerful men dealing with composers. Cappellini seems to be doing a diligent job, although one does wonder just how much freedom Hayez will actually get in reality. The Cardinal, as we’ve seen, is a well practised diplomat. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he was lying to get the painter’s assent.

Echoing TBC, Verdi is also a very good shout. And even if it’s a little way off, when this project makes it to 1901 I would love to hear the Church’s thoughts about the suitably operatic Milanese reaction to his death.
 

Cromwell

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I am sensing that you aren't at all fond of travel Slothinator? Perhaps the Church should encourage the building of railways to bring God's children closer together more quickly and conveniently?
 

TheButterflyComposer

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I am sensing that you aren't at all fond of travel Slothinator? Perhaps the Church should encourage the building of railways to bring God's children closer together more quickly and conveniently?

Could be very useful forward planning. Have all roads lead to rome and all that, even before Italy gets united by the papacy.
 

DensleyBlair

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I am sensing that you aren't at all fond of travel Slothinator? Perhaps the Church should encourage the building of railways to bring God's children closer together more quickly and conveniently?
Could be very useful forward planning. Have all roads lead to rome and all that, even before Italy gets united by the papacy.

For some reason I’m reminded of the reactionary master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, who supposedly announced in the middle of the 19th century that “the coming of the railway to Cambridge would be highly displeasing to both God and myself.”
 
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The things one has to do in the service of the Church.
 

El Pip

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Well this is all excellent. As others have said the diary format is interesting and the mix of characters entertaining, I particularly like the range of personalities and abilities of the Cardinals. Just in the last two chapters there as has been a stark difference between Lambruschini and Cappellini, the later in particular is clearly a bit ham fisted and seems to have succeeded because of the power and status of the Pope rather than any actual ability on his own part. I can only hope Rossini can deal with a more sympathetic Cardinal in the future, it is the very least he deserves.
 

The Number 9

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I'm joining my voice to the others. I really like this diary format, very original and pleasant to read.
 

slothinator

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That's a very fine portrayal of Rossini in his (still debated) retirement.

Thanks! It was interesting to look at his character in this period. We are left to wonder how long he would remain outside retirement

The issue of trying to recreate the renaissance all by yourself. It's 1843 however, so last year Verdi just made his first big splash with Nabbuco, which rather openly supports Italian unification. Maybe give him a bell?

I did consider Verdi but Gregory is still squeamish about unification and Viva VERDI does not really bode very well for the Pope.

I was watching Amadeus the other day (the excellent National Theatre version from 2017) so it is amusing having this contrasting view of powerful men dealing with composers. Cappellini seems to be doing a diligent job, although one does wonder just how much freedom Hayez will actually get in reality. The Cardinal, as we’ve seen, is a well practised diplomat. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he was lying to get the painter’s assent.

Echoing TBC, Verdi is also a very good shout. And even if it’s a little way off, when this project makes it to 1901 I would love to hear the Church’s thoughts about the suitably operatic Milanese reaction to his death.

I like the powerful man/artist interaction. It's always fun to see worlds collide. Hayez is definitely going to be censored but Cappellini will try his best to keep his word.
1901 is certainly going to be an operatic year but it'll take a while until we get there.

I am sensing that you aren't at all fond of travel Slothinator? Perhaps the Church should encourage the building of railways to bring God's children closer together more quickly and conveniently?
Could be very useful forward planning. Have all roads lead to rome and all that, even before Italy gets united by the papacy.
For some reason I’m reminded of the reactionary master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, who supposedly announced in the middle of the 19th century that “the coming of the railway to Cambridge would be highly displeasing to both God and myself.”

It's not so much travel as much as Milan that I'm not fond of. Railways will certainly play a part in Cappellini's future but he will have to wait for a new Pope.
Gregory is so resistant to railroads that he reputedly called them "chemins d'enfer" so I think he would agree with the master of Magdalene College.

The things one has to do in the service of the Church.

The job is a laborious one. It only takes me a button press to develop romanticism but some poor sod has to be on the ground putting it all into practice.

Well this is all excellent. As others have said the diary format is interesting and the mix of characters entertaining, I particularly like the range of personalities and abilities of the Cardinals. Just in the last two chapters there as has been a stark difference between Lambruschini and Cappellini, the later in particular is clearly a bit ham fisted and seems to have succeeded because of the power and status of the Pope rather than any actual ability on his own part. I can only hope Rossini can deal with a more sympathetic Cardinal in the future, it is the very least he deserves.
I'm joining my voice to the others. I really like this diary format, very original and pleasant to read.

Thank you very much for your compliments! I am happy to hear that the diary is attractive to you all. Especially since it sort of exists as a bit of a study for character voices.
I am quite fond of Cappellini, maybe because he is the first character I wrote, but if he had a motto it would have to be "Muddling through". And he will muddle his way through to several interesting events.
 
Chapter VI: The Conclave of 1846

slothinator

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Gregory XVI Exit

Gregory XVI died on the 1st of June 1846 and left behind a Church that was firmly planted in the 18th century but, nonetheless, ready to take the great leap that lay before it.
The Pope’s interest in the development of culture and significant expansion of the army managed to bring the Papal States in the peripheral vision of the Great Powers but not much more. While his actions may have been sufficient to influence European politics in past centuries, under the present circumstances, the Netherlands eclipsed the efforts of an antiquated Papacy with their rapid colonization of Indonesia.
This is not to say that the pontificate was a failure, quite the contrary, but this is the reason why he is one of the least studied of the modern popes. His lasting legacy, he would be surprised to hear, is the institution of a strong pontifical army and the return of the Papal States to the diplomatic arena with the establishment of more or less formal ties with the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. His artistic endeavors established a good base for development but did not thrive for lack of interest by the later pontiffs.
The diaries reveal that the conclave following Gregory’s death risked turning history in a very different direction to the one we know as a battle between grand personalities took the center of that secretive stage.

lLhIpKsl.jpg

From the personal diaries of Cardinal Vincenzo Macchi

Sunday 14th of June 1846
This conclave is off to a good start. It appears that my social efforts in the past years have paid off nicely. The sole other real contender is Lambruschini and he's known in every corner of the curia as a pompous extreme traditionalist so I don't have to be overly concerned that my supporters might desert me for him. All I need to do is wait until the other cardinals realize that I am the only true choice.
The last question I must answer now is "Quo nomine volo vocari?". I hadn't given the subject too much serious thought in the past since Gregory had an unusually long papacy and I thought the college would aim for a more liberal candidate. Under the present circumstance, I have been wondering what kind of Pope I should be and where I should distinguish myself from Gregory's pontificate. I found that his resistance to change irked me most and that the Papal States cannot stand in this world on art and culture alone. My papacy will display our strength and place us closer to the heart of European affairs. The last time a Pope expanded our state was over two-hundred years ago under Urban VIII. It's high time that I revived this legacy. A new Urban will helm the Church, and I need to simply wait.

From the personal diaries of Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini

Monday 15th of June 1846
Dear God, make me the Pope. Macchi has no idea of what he is doing and would be a pallid excuse for a pontiff. He is a bellicose and abrasive fool without a proper understanding of how dangerous the embers of revolution are to the order of Vienna. I am too old to hope for another conclave and this is my last chance to protect the Church, threatened as it is on all sides.
Macchi still has the upper hand but he has not gained any more preferences in the last round of voting. Despite this, I haven't been able to sway the other candidates. The liberals are not interested in my plans and I've barely swayed one of them. The only remaining option is for me to wrench Macchi's voters from him and I have to convince them that, even though my work gave its fruits far from Rome, I am the right choice.
I now regret the distance that my diplomatic missions put between me and the Curia. I have so much lost time to make up for. I will do my utmost to pull every heartstring and take advantage of any leverage I have until I am Pope.
I think Clement XV would suit me, a strict yet merciful pontiff to hold the Church in its place.

From the personal diaries of Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti

Tuesday 16th of June 1846
This election has begun to take an unfortunate turn. I don't care for either Lambruschini or Metternich's old favorite Macchi. I admit that I did hold up a glimmer of hope for myself after the first round of ballots and even passed my vote on to myself in the next one but it seems that my effort was inadequate.
The struggle between the two reactionaries still needs to be decided now but all that really matters to me now is their age and I'd much prefer the older Macchi so we can have a better election sooner rather than later. I know it's not seemly for me to speculate on such things but then again it is the Holy Spirit that guides us in Conclave so I feel I can be forgiven.
The advantage of having no candidate I'm interested in is that I can watch the spectacle play out in front of me like a spectator to some satyrical farce. Lambruschini presents a fine figure gliding around in his robes while he plays the consummate politician and tries to stroke the egos of everyone he comes across. He courts each of us and inflates the qualities of even the dullest old man in the room. Macchi, on the other hand, prefers to sit with a stiff back and upturned nose pointing to his antiquated hairstyle while he waits for the supplicants to come to him. When they are within striking range, he whispers something conspiratorial and gains a new vassal in exchange for who knows what unusual favor.
I am sure that the damage these two might cause the Church will not be too serious. Providence would not have brought events to this point if it hadn't a plan and a brief papacy seems like a good placeholder to me, no matter how backward the pontiff may be.
It is often said that each pope corrects the errors of his predecessor and, if that is the case, whoever succeeds the winner will have a fine choice of interests.

From the personal diaries of Cardinal Libero Cappellini

Wednesday 17th of June 1846
It appears that the battle for the Papacy is reaching its conclusion. Everyone can see that finally the reactionaries have won over the ultra-reactionaries and Cardinal Macchi needs just a few votes more.
A shame... I had placed my hopes in Cardinal Mastai Ferretti whose liberal leanings would surely provide a breath of fresh air in these musty old halls but, to be fair, the liberal vote had no chances from the start. Pope Gregory has succeeded in locking out the new century with its railroads and revolutions for a while longer.
I am still surprised about the single vote I received, slightly embarrassing since it looks like I was the only one to consider myself for the position but, in reality, I hadn't even recognized the possibility. I have tried to search for meaningful glances but I just cannot seem to understand who took this strange decision.
In any case, we will soon be let out of this palace and I will discover what the new Pope wills of me. I must hope that my colleagues have chosen wisely and the Church may remain strong in these interesting times.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Hmm. I do like the diplomat and his machavelian ways, but going on the warpath (in game terms) is probably a better idea...

I'm unsure who would have been better for rome and the church, but for the papal states, having a war pope on top and the sneaky spymaster running the diplomatic game might be the ideal combination. If they listen to each other.
 

stnylan

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Sounds like quite a divisive conclave
 

Cromwell

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My very own Cardinal Macci towers over the curia like a colossus and it's only right he should take the reigns and lead the papal state to growth and glory! God helps those who helps themselves and it's time for the papacy to help themselves to the rest of Italy!
 

The Number 9

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A conclave is probably one of the place where you can see, plots, intrigue and cynism at their best. And you wrote this very well.
A reactionary pope is probably an oxymoron, especially when there are trouble times.
 

DensleyBlair

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Reactionaries against ultra-reactionaries. Good lord it’s a scant offering, but a whole host of colourful personalities nevertheless. Here’s to the new papacy.
 

Le Jones

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Wow that was well-written, the bitterness, desperate hope over reality, pleading with God (it reminded me of the 'Father Ted' scene where something awful has happened and one of the priests says "well we could try prayer") and passionate and mutual loathing of the candidates.

Looking forward to the white smoke...
 

El Pip

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I always find Papal Conclaves fascinating. It is the contrast between the ambitious politicking and the sincere belief that the Holy Spirit is guiding the process. Cardinal Macchi should definitely be congratulated on his social efforts, in OTL he wasn't even considered Papabile in the '46 Conclave so to be leading is quite the achievement.

If Ferreti's candidacy is as doomed as the diaries suggest then there will be no Pius IX and he was quite an influential and controversial Pope. If we assume this AAR will not be focused overly on matters of theology and Catholic doctrine (which is where the really controversial decisions happened), then Pius IX is quite a low bar to clear in terms of temporal achievements for the Papal States - don't get annexed and you have surpassed him.