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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Prologue
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    Since Pope Urban X allowed unprecedented access to the Vatican Diaries, rumors of which had begun to circulate in previous years, the academic community has had access to a treasure trove of historical documentation from the very figures that determined the course of the modern Papacy.

    The following work will provide an overview of the events during a formative period for the spiritual and temporal figure of the Pope. It is unique, however, in being the first to show these events through the eyes of the actors themselves. Additional context will be given to ensure clarity or fill in gaps in the diaries but, for the most part, this book will consist of a curated series of diary entries by popes and prominent cardinals of the age.

    The reader should be forewarned about the character and sentiments of the individuals whose thoughts shall be laid bare. Many were well-meaning and admirable even by the standards of the current day but a number of others have placed a still present black mark on the late modern history of Italy.

    A brief introduction to the history of the institution is in order. Though the idea may seem strange today, the popes in Rome had no temporal power for the first few centuries of the Church’s existence. Their influence began to take hold with the adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire though Imperial dominion would see the pontiffs subject to the pressures of the state much like the patriarchs in Constantinople.

    Papal independence from the Byzantines was first secured when the Exarchate of Ravenna fell to the Lombards in 751 and forced Pope Zachary to seek aid from the Frankish Kingdom and recognize Pepin as King in place of the decrepit Merovingians. This recognition proved fruitful as, in 756, King Pepin officially donated the Papal States to Pope Stephen II and his successors in perpetuity.

    The rest of the Middle Ages saw the papacy in frequent conflict with the leaders and churches of the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire which resulted in the East-West schism and the Western Schism, though the latter would manage to be reconciled.

    In the following centuries, the papacy became well-known for its patronage of architecture and the arts, a consolidation of its power after the Western Schism, the causation and reaction to the Protestant Schism. A low point was reached during the French Revolution when the state itself ceased to exist and was replaced by satellite states loyal to the new regime.

    This scar would not soon heal in the Roman psyche even after the Congress of Vienna returned the Papal States to their lawful ruler. The post-revolutionary pontiffs harbored a significant reactionary impulse by maintaining the desire, shared by most other European powers, to erase the humiliation that the French Revolution had brought and ensure that such a deluge never happen again. This manifested itself as the suppression of free speech and the rejection of the social, political, and economic innovations that had begun sweeping across Europe.

    Our focus period starts in the year 1836 under the pontificate of Gregory XVI, born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari. He was the latest in the line of the reactionary popes and strongly opposed to any political reform and the advance of industrialization. In the early years of his papacy, he became infamous both among Italian nationalists and liberals for the request of Austrian military aid in suppressing the republican rebellion of the United Italian Provinces.

    In 1836 he remains at the head of a stable state in decline and has the unenviable task of guarding the thousand-year inheritance that he was called to preserve.

    His testimony will begin our story.
     
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    From the personal diaries of Pope Gregory XVI

    Thursday 3rd of March 1836

    Ever since I rose to the throne of Saint Peter, I have attempted to ensure the security of the Papal States in the face of revolutionary extremism. I followed Macchi's suggestion to expand the army but who knows what those future soldiers hold in their hearts. Might we be supplying weapons to those who would dethrone us? There is fresh news of the resurgence of the pan-Italian movements that plagued our country at the beginning of my Papacy. Back then, the masses were whipped into a frenzy by a couple of Bonaparte's relatives who hungered for a return to power. Though I managed to drive those traitors from Rome, the Austrians did not manage to eliminate those roots of rebellion.

    This time, the spark is simply something in the air. No rebellions have yet taken flame but Mazzini and his ilk call for a united Italy and, blasphemy of blasphemies, one free of kings and popes. More moderate members, like the King of the Two Sicilies, want some sort of federation of Italian nations with the Pope as their arbiter. No doubt this league is an obscure ploy to dress their future crimes in an air of sanctity.

    No, each of these possibilities would doom us to play the revolutionaries' game. What we must do is hold fast to the lands that have been the purview of the Papal States for centuries and make sure that they remain as prosperous and impressive as they have ever been. Benedetta rightly suggested that I would do well to sponsor a number of artists and philosophers to increase our standing in the world both for the present and for posterity.

    Her solutions always soothe me so, I am lucky to have such an able confidante. Just last night we had a fruitful discussion about cardinal Macchi's plan and the ambitions he's shown for the addition more land to our domain. We agreed for the most part that this is unnecessary, especially with the circulation of allusions to Italian unity, but she made some good points I had to accept. While we are now protected under the French aegis, if we wish to stay relevant in our own right, we need to find allies in those who would aid us without the desire to hold influence over us. We both feel that Sardinia-Piedmont is a bit too tied to the French to be safe, which leaves only Austria and the Two-Sicilies. Benedetta talked me out of the Austrian camp, after all, she reminded me, Metternich had campaigned for Macchi's election in my stead up to the last round of ballots. Rather, the Two Sicilies are the only direction available. We are left with the decision of who to entrust this embassy to. We need is a skilled diplomat to ensure they don't ensnare us in a larger project but keep themselves to a defensive alliance.

    These are strange times we live in. I hope my service will make them even a little less strange.



    Wednesday 11th of January 1837

    They've finally taken him out. Mazzini's arrest by the Piedmontese authorities is all anyone is talking about. From my understanding, he was on his way to London where he could continue to organize his seditious groups when the Swiss government offered to hand him over to Sardinia-Piedmont. There are conflicting reports upon his eventual fate with the gallows touted as a possibility. Benedetta and I had that very same discussion and debated what I would have done had the Swiss transferred that criminal to my custody. We agreed that it would be unseemly for a Pope to order an execution of this caliber so confinement would be the preferred option. However, I expressed my hope that the Piedmontese not be so lenient and provide a secure outcome for Italy. Benedetta did not appreciate that comment and lectured me on the risks that the martyrdom of that man would entail. I am still not convinced that that would be the correct course of action for this specific individual but I must admit that the general principle is sound. In any case, the matter is out of my hands and we are allowed to simply celebrate the removal of the most serious public enemy.



    Friday 11th of December 1840

    I've finished reading "The Betrothed" and I can't see what people find in it. The book is merely a mediocre adventure story with a collection of theological ideas that aren't heretical just because they are not spelled out. Manzoni's so-called "Providence" is a thin disguise for the protestant heresy of predestination, a complete negation the central role that free will has in our lives. Despite these glaring flaws, Italian nationalists have latched onto the thinly veiled anti-Austrian propaganda present and have gone back to their cries for national unity. These seditious works can be censored here at home but the only way to win the hearts and minds of the people in the rest of Italy is with the production of proper Roman and Catholic art that may restore our glory and project our influence as we did in the Renaissance.

    This worrying period has convinced me once again that we must protect our domain from such dangerous influences and I am glad that the plans set in motion are giving their results. Macchi has assured me that his promised army is almost ready and it is assumed to be comparable to that of Sardinia-Piedmont or the Two Sicilies. Speaking of which, Lambruschini has told me that he expects an alliance with our Southern neighbor sometime in the next months. Welcome news from an assignment I feared too arduous. All together, these tools should guarantee that the Papal States will not be harmed for the foreseeable future and will raise us up in the eyes of the world maybe even to the status of a Great Power in our right.

    Many cardinals have asked me to reconsider my position on the importation of machines that so many other great nations use to fuel their empires but Benedetta and I agree that there is no sense in this. While it may be easy for Britain and Prussia to use their abundant coal and steel, we have no source of these materials and no native experts who may make use of the technology. The costs of this kind experiment would bankrupt us and have us grovel at the feet of the Great Powers in the hope of someday impressing them. No, I will remain firm in my line that the Papacy has always drawn strength from its prestige and moral authority. Let my successors deal with the infernal machines.
     
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Vincenzo Macchi

    Tuesday 23rd of February 1836

    Today I finally managed to talk to Gregory about my ideas on expanding the armed forces. It took some time for me to grind him down into acceptance of my plan but it has happened at last. He did not like my first angle with the aim of expansion serving to keep the Papal States powerful against foreign intrusion so I had to change my strategy. I decided to go with the idea that, if we will not expand, it is essential that we do not appear as an easy target for the rest of the world. Certainly, this could be achieved with alliances, where the Two Sicilies appears to be a promising target, but politics can change on the whim of a new head of state while arms remain constant. I also pointed out that it is absurd that we do not have a navy. Outfitting such a force may be an expensive prospect but, with the large coastline that we are blessed with, it is another important link for our national security. Gregory grumbled a little bit but conceded that Roman political influence abroad would also benefit from such an expansion and would attract more important partners than those that have approached us so far.

    And finally, after five years of lobbying, I have broken him! I have been allowed to recruit three thousand dragoons and equip six warships and five naval transports.

    This is all a good start but evidently not enough. If we are to be strong enough to stand our ground, we should at least double the number of soldiers that we can field so as to become an important player in the Italian theater. This will require further persuasion but I already have a few contacts in mind who seem pliable and are held in high esteem by His Holiness. They will serve as the amplifier I need to have my ideas heard.



    Wednesday 22nd of November 1837

    We discussed the details for a long time but today Gregory gave me the go-ahead. I've been given the reins of the Pontifical forces and can shape them how I like.

    I've looked at the situation we have with the treasury and it seems that I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands. Right now, the Papal fleet is large enough to transport our soldiers and that is a condition that I would like to maintain in the future. Unfortunately, the funds I have received are barely sufficient to outfit a new port for further ships and would leave nothing left for the army. It is clear to anyone that influence in the Mediterranean must be exerted with a formidable navy but there are hungry powers right on our borders who are waiting for a sign of weakness. A land force is the more prudent course of action to dissuade these attackers. If I were the Pope, I would say that the navy will end up paying for itself but that is beyond even my power. The Pope wants defense and I couldn't justify this choice in that light. So, army it is.

    The first order of business is to find men to put in uniform. I've heard that, with advances in industry abroad, the artisan class has suffered quite greatly. I believe that a widespread increase in pay for soldiers will do wonders for the recruitment of the recently unemployed. Besides that, a good dose of propaganda about the honor of defending Christendom will be a powerful motivator for the idealists among them.

    It is a terrible shame that all this work will go to waste while we continue to rest on our laurels. If we can recruit a strong and motivated legion, it would be convenient to wield our power against those that would oppress us. A quick look around the Mediterranean shows only Great Powers or dependents of those Great Powers. We must wait patiently for the optimal time to strike...



    Tuesday 25th of May 1841

    It has taken many years and copious amounts of hard work but the Papal army is now ready. It has more than doubled in its number to reach thirty-six thousand men ready to fight for their Church and Pope. Ours might not be the largest force in the peninsula but we are clear contenders with Piedmont-Sardinia and the Two Sicilies, though Austria is still a formidable giant. I've recommended to Gregory that we entice one of the other Italian powers to join us in a defensive league to resist foreign interests at the very least. One hopes that this future alliance will lead to a consolidation of Italy around these two poles with the Papacy in a suitably central role.

    Though the Pope might delight in the influence that France has over our State, I am concerned that we might be dragged into wars in which we have absolutely no interest but that may cost us dearly. They already reacted with irritation to our absence in their Algerian adventure, who knows how they will react when a more serious war arises.

    In any case, I need not worry about such a prospect yet. With the stability that currently reigns in Europe, my job as Minister of War is reduced to the maintenance of our new army and the search for enough funds to organize a larger navy. The fleet will probably be a longer affair due to the artisans having barely any income but I will keep an eye out for any spare scudi that fall out of the Pope's purse. Besides that, all I have to do is cozy up to the most important cardinals since a pliant curia is a fruitful curia.
     
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti

    Monday 1st of May 1840

    I am still able to follow my calling. My fears that my promotion to cardinal would take me away from the faithful have abated. Gregory has asked me to do what I do best and take care of the Smallpox epidemic that has flared up on the coast between Ravenna and Ancona.

    I was told that around twenty-thousand people have already died from the sickness and it is imperative that the spread is curbed. I visited a hospital in Senigallia to assess the gravity of the situation and the disease is truly terrible. The contagion starts with a simple fever and vomiting before the infamous sores and scabs begin to appear. At this point, about one in three of the infected are marked for death. I struggled to hold back tears when I visited a little girl called Elisa whose face was almost entirely covered in scabs to the point that I could barely recognize any features on her. I made sure that her family should want for nothing in their efforts to cure her and I've asked the doctor to update me on her status. She will be in my mind and my prayers while I fight this plague.

    This morning I met a collection of the most eminent doctors that the Papal States has to offer and I interrogated them on the best way to counter the sickness. There was broad agreement among them that the cause of the epidemic was to be found in bad air blowing in from the sea. Such an unbridled act of God would not be easy to limit and thus the spread was likely to continue. I did briefly suggest an invitation to move at-risk subjects further inland but they told me that an operation of that sort would require a massive movement of people that would cause further hardship later on.

    One of the younger physicians suggested a rather confusing treatment that appears to involve the infection of individuals with cowpox to prevent them from developing smallpox. I questioned the validity of this procedure but several of his colleagues assured me that it was commonly observed in the countryside that those who had contracted cowpox would never catch the more violent disease. The discussion turned lively and I was presented with a series of precedents from around Europe and those doctors who doubted the procedure were verbally disarmed and soundly defeated. At the end of the meeting, I proposed that this "vaccination" be used on all those individuals that might come in contact with the foul air, specifically those who work in close contact with the sea and the ones who need to care for the sick.

    On the way back home I decided to stop by and visit Elisa and along the way and I bought her the most beautiful doll I could find. When I gave the toy to her, I am sure I managed to see a spark of joy in her face under all the pain she must be withstanding. I talked to the doctor and he told me that she gives more and more signs of improvement each time he checks, her ordeal might soon be over.

    And so begin my official duties as cardinal. Before writing these words I threw myself on the bed in exhaustion but I'm convinced that I've done good work. I thought that my position would remove me from this pursuit but I realize now that the Lord has put me upon this path not to constrain me but to give me each of the tools I need to ensure His will be done.



    Friday 20th of May 1842

    The optimism I once felt about the extent of my powers has dashed itself against this new epidemic. I had mostly dealt with manageable illnesses until now but there is nothing to be done about consumption if not isolate the poor souls in its clutches and wait for them to expire. The city of Ravenna is gripped by terror as each citizen mistrusts the next and a cough is enough to clear out a once busy street. I attempted to visit the hospitals and see the situation first hand but every time the doctors refused me entry.

    This disease is far less devastating than the smallpox that ravaged the region a few years ago but I am left with far greater dread in my heart. In those days, I could fight to push back the tide and save lives but at present, I can only wait as the water rises above my ankles. I've asked time and time again but nobody ever has a cure or some way to reduce the spread of this plague. They all shake their heads resigned in defeat and return to the bedsides.

    As such I'm left alone with a mission that I have no idea how to complete. Most evenings I walk the streets of this unfortunate ancient city and am continuously awed by the stillness and quiet in formerly populated squares and churches. It is not rare that I might find unburied bodies lying where they fell with nary a soul to mourn them or deliver them to God. Whenever I come across one of these poor emaciated remains, I run to the nearest church and return with someone to help me in giving the deceased a modicum of dignity and rest in death. I've heard that one in every ten inhabitants has died or been infected with the ailment. I cannot even comprehend the amount of suffering that is present in this city.

    Last night I was passing by the Basilica of San Vitale and felt compelled to enter the church for a nightly prayer. While I knelt in front of the altar, I saw both Justinian and Theodora with their stony eyes fixed on me and I felt a connection to these people who have passed away more than a thousand years before my birth. What an experience it must have been to see one's empire form cracks and fray at the edges after a lifetime of work to restore its greatness. Then as now, the horseman of pestilence has no mercy for mankind.

    I question my role here with each moment that goes past. The Pope asked me to control the plague but all I can do is pick up bodies from the street and try to not fall prey to the contagion. I pray for guidance every day but I only find that I should redouble my efforts in bringing comfort to those that have no hope left.

    A small flicker of hope still remains, however. It seems that the situation has started to improve recently with some doctors who tell me that the contagion shows signs of weakness and the disease is starting to burn itself out like a fire that has turned its logs to ashes. If no new healthy people will be introduced to the city, the scourge might be destroyed by its very eagerness to kill.

    I dearly hope that this is true, because, if it isn't, I'm not sure how long I can stand such hellish scenes.
     
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini

    Thursday 1st of February 1838

    Naples has improved since my last visit. King Ferdinand has managed to cut down on the wasteful expenditures of the state and a lot of the more garish habits of the nobles. This is someone that the Papal States can work with and his youth will make it relatively easy to change his mind in our direction. He is already well predisposed to the Church since the days of his old Italian League proposal, although I'm not certain that Gregory made the right choice in refusing. I imagine that he thought a federation would have given the foreigners too large a role in our affairs.

    The city of Naples is charming as always and it is good to smell the sea for the first time in a long while. The aroma brought back thoughts of home and the familiar question of whether I'll ever return there.

    In any case, I've managed to settle in quite well at the Nuncio's villa but have not yet had the opportunity to meet with any officials except for that pompous old diplomat and his honor guard of a couple of up-jumped peasants. I'm sure my meeting with Ferdinand will take some time to organize given that I have announced my extended stay, but that leaves me with less direct alternatives. I'll spend the first few days scouting around the city for the most expensive gambling dens and courtesans, I'm certain I will find a minister or two lurking around there.

    And so begins my latest mission, it's certainly not Paris or Vienna but I will enjoy this.

    Wednesday 11th of April 1838

    I've finally had the chance to meet with Ferdinand and I'm frustrated with my results. The gambling sessions with the Prince of Cassaro proved fruitful for my wallet but he had assured me that the King was still attached to the idea of an Italian League and would be happy to assist the Papacy, this information proved to be flawed. Today I found out that the best that Ferdinand is willing to do is give great authority to the bishops and pray fervently, a course of action that did not work so well when Napoleon and his ilk stole Rome from Pius VI.

    The meeting started pleasantly enough with a flock of servants who proceeded to take me through the Royal Palace in Caserta which, though a bit too golden, was certainly a work of art that did not hide its desire to place Naples at the dignity of other European capitals. I was then entertained, and I use the word loosely, by a series of minor nobles with an inflated sense of their own importance. After that introduction, I was finally let into the throne room where I met Ferdinand himself, not a particularly striking figure if not for his prominent double chin, which I can only assume is to match the name of his kingdom. I soon suppressed that thought as I found the man to be rather intelligent for his young age and tended to agree on his overall aim of suppressing any attempt at revolution in the peninsula. However, when I got to the matter of a treaty, he replied to me that the Two Sicilies has no need for an alliance since his realm is an island in the Mediterranean defended on three sides by sea water and on the fourth by holy water. I retorted that a tighter collaboration with the Pope would ensure that the holy water never run dry or, worse, be desecrated by unsavory influences. He cut off the discussion with a statement that he had the utmost confidence in the Pope's abilities and proposed that we visit the Palace gardens together.

    The rest of the day was pleasant enough and I induced a series of princelings and dukes and other assorted nobles to join me for an evening at cards where I could better understand which are the most influential personalities. Cassaro proved once again that he should find a vice in which he is more competent but, judging from the limited attention he received, he should also start to consider alternative employment. I found the marquis of Pietracatella to be a character of greater interest, whose influence is certainly inflating since he was allowed to win more times than I could count. He seems a vain and rather ignorant man with strong reactionary tendencies, all qualities that I appreciate in a minister. I will have to play the court so that I can get rid of Cassaro and install Pietracatella as Prime Minister. I'm certain everyone here has their vices that can be exploited, Ferdinand can reduce luxury all he likes but there are always other ways to obtain it.

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    King Ferdinand II of the Two SIcilies
    Friday 8th of May 1840

    I may be back in Rome soon. A shame, I was beginning to enjoy myself here. Pietracatella is the ideal Prime Minister as he has only a limited number of ideas, most of which have been thrust upon him by more capable men. I need to simply ask him about his illustrious lineage or pose a question touching on some long-forgotten relative and he'll accept the proposals that I put past him without stopping to read a single word.

    I wasn't able to push Cassaro entirely out of the picture but, for the moment, he sits at the Foreign Ministry twiddling his thumbs without too much initiative of his own, especially since I let him know that he has a particularly indiscreet mistress. The latest development is an official announcement by Cassaro and me of a treaty of friendship and collaboration between the Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. While this doesn't mean too much in practice, it is the first concrete step towards an alliance.

    Only Ferdinand is in the way now, he keeps endlessly repeating his mantra of the sea water and holy water, but I'll make sure to grind down his resolve bit by bit until he accepts my decision. I've managed to learn enough in my dealings with the court here that I'm convinced that I can persuade enough people to pester him on my behalf. I would almost admire the man's principles if he weren't so stubborn about this alliance. I doubt that Gregory will march into Tuscany or Austria any time soon so, as it stands, the treaty is nothing but a deal to share Italy. I just can't see how Ferdinand thinks that isolationism will do his state good in the long term. His nation exists thanks to the order that Vienna brought, and this new order requires a new diplomacy. I shall have to ensure that he learns this lesson.



    Tuesday 9th of August 1842

    I'm beginning to tire of this place. No matter how many nobles and dignitaries I manage to control, Ferdinand remains impervious to my advances. Now those damned German weavers up in Baden have given him further reason to isolate his petty kingdom for fear of uprisings. Again and again, I've tried to change his mind and nothing has seemed to work.

    Now, I need to look for an alternative solution to ensure I complete my mission. I have gotten into the habit of friendly games of dice with the Sardinian ambassador, Ercole Schenone, and we've built up a certain rapport. He was born in Rapallo and has previously visited Sestri and shares my regrets about the loss of Genoa's freedom. Despite this, our conversations have shifted to our frustration with Ferdinand and his stubbornness and we have come to the conclusion that the Papacy would have a more solid ally in Sardinia-Piedmont. Our nations could help halt the encroachment of foreign powers in the peninsula and forge a bi-polar system without the need of the antiquated Two Sicilies. He has sent letters back to Turin and I to Rome with our proposals. Thus we are left to wait for the responses from our heads of state. If Ferdinand loves the past so much, he can stay in it.



    Thursday 13th of July 1843

    All of my bags have been packed and I'm leaving Naples. I sincerely tried to sway these southerners to my cause but they were just too stubborn for their own good. Yesterday, I went to talk to Ferdinand one last time and he reiterated that his kingdom's strength lies in its isolation and he would not allow the risk of being dragged into foreign wars. He then reminded me that the bishops hold uncontested sway over the populace and should be content with the privileges they have already. I had exhausted all of my arguments several months ago and so I took the occasion to tell him that I was on my way back to Rome, news I'm sure he appreciates as much as I do.

    I then visited the residence of Ercole Schenone to place my signature on the formal treaty of alliance of the Papal States with the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont. We then toasted to the good fortune of this collaboration before an evening of drinks and conversations about home, Genoa, and the glory days of the old republic, something for which I'm still nursing a headache the next evening.

    And so ends my mission, it's a shame that I worked to accumulate so much material on the local nobility and did not manage to put it to proper use. I might just plant the secrets of some of the more irritating nobles into clumsy hands and enjoy the aftermath from the eternal city. I did not wish to make deals with the Piedmontese at first but, after my Neapolitan ordeal, my opinions of Piedmont and the Two Sicilies are interchangeable, so I will take the plan that offers fewer obstacles.

    Farewell Naples, I will miss you but I am glad to be rid of your inhabitants!
     
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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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    Chapter VI: The Conclave of 1846
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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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    Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus Papam! Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum Vincenzum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Macchi, qui sibi nomen imposuit Urbanum Nonum
     
    Chapter VII: The Road to Athens is Paved with Good Intentions
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini
    nEicd0Gl.jpg
    Saturday 19th of June 1847

    The Parthenon is a bombed-out husk with most of its glories either stolen or destroyed. Why does that sound familiar?

    My exile begins fully today as I settle into this small Athenian house far from the eyes of King Otto.

    I didn't expect Macchi to force me out of Rome entirely, I thought his victory would have satisfied him but I imagine that he feared my influence or, who knows, maybe a murder. But he has already stolen my earthly destiny so I see no reason why I would allow him to take my place in heaven.

    And so I sit here, with rain beating down from a grey sky, as I attempt to think of how I can justify Macchi's expansionistic designs in a land that is neither Catholic nor Italian.

    The old crone back in the square sold me a bottle of strong-smelling drink, tsipouro I think she called it.

    At least I will have some company this night.



    Saturday 7th of August 1847

    This is not going well. What am I even doing here? Why won't that damned old man let me return home?

    Of course, there is no real justification for his designs on the Peloponnese so I tried to create one. Through intermediaries, I paid several Greek ex-soldiers to dress up in uniform and harass the Italians and Catholics in the city. I thought this was a simple enough plan. Harassment gets out of hand, Pope saves the day, I go home.

    But of course, something had to go wrong. One of these thugs got drunk and started to brag to anyone in the tavern that he was getting paid to beat up a few civilians. So now there is an investigation underway forcing me to cut ties with all of the middlemen I'd found so far and lay low for a while.

    What can I do in this situation? I've already burnt one trick, I need to find more. Gambling usually helps. This city's vice of drink is has begun to corrupt me so I might as well find out which other vices are available.

    Damn Macchi and the things he makes me go through. That mediocre little man with oversized ambitions will take me to my death.



    Thursday 25th of November 1847

    The sun finally shines on my exile. While at first my descent into the gambling dens was done out of self-pity, it appears that my rationalization for this sin has turned out to be correct. As is true in most places, even in this far off land rich bored men tend to search for ways to wave their wealth around in the hope of any kind of thrill. This was the case for Kitzos Tsavelas, the now-former Prime Minister of Greece. During a bout of toasting that took us early into the morning, we managed to create a certain rapport and spoke intensely for most of the evening. At several points I almost blurted out why I was sent here but, fortunately, I mostly complained about Macchi and he in turn complained about King Otto, this constructed a suitable base of resentment upon which to build our relationship. In the weeks after that, I stoked his anger towards Otto and convinced him that it would not do to resign in silence but that I could arrange for his departure to humiliate the King by exposing some unsavory secrets he might be harboring. Kitzos suggested a few different things but I thought that a mock military exercise for a war against Rome would be the best fit. I believe that the plan itself began as a play on Horace's quote about Greece's capture of Rome but unfortunately, that context was omitted when the plan reached the journalists.

    So now the Greeks seem like bloodthirsty expansionists with no understanding of the modern world rather than Pope Mediocre. Speaking of which, I have received news that a series of rebellions have started throughout the continent with demands to spread the French Revolution everywhere. I do not know how such an obscenity came to pass but I can see that the crisis is being mishandled on all sides. In Austria, Emperor Ferdinand has chosen to abdicate for fear of the mob taking over. This is exactly what the rabble wants! When Louis XVI accepted a constitution the French didn't return to their homes and forget their sedition, they demanded more and more until a once-proud nation descended into an orgy of blasphemy and bloodshed.

    Not only that but Italians, Germans, and other eastern peoples have started rebellions with the impudence to ask for independence. How do they not see that this is a clear path to the destruction of Europe? The Congress of Vienna established a new world order with the expressed aim of avoiding another Great War and, if we keep chipping away at this order, we will unleash horrors beyond imagining.

    And what is Macchi doing? He throws proclamations into the void with nobody paying them any mind. If only he had been so effective in the conclave...



    Wednesday 19th of January 1848

    The end of my exile is in sight. I have set off a chain reaction that will lead to the violence I first looked for when I came to this place. Several of my agents are hard at work spreading rumors in the Catholic communities of the Peloponnese that the Orthodox priests want to forbid their worship. This in turn has led to vandalism and attacks against the native Greeks who look ready to retaliate and finally serve as a pretext for war. Unfortunately, one of my agents was caught spreading the initial rumor and tried to lend it credence by indicating me as the source of the information. This has caused some outrage in Greek political circles but events are in motion and I don't care anymore. The sooner I can retire to private life and forget everything the better.

    What unnerves me are still the rebellions that have set fire to Europe. Once more, France has fallen to the liberals and they have expelled their already limited king. I have also read that a Bonaparte aims to become president of this new France and we all saw where that lead them last time. Despite these worrying developments, the Papal States remain in the French orbit and hold on to their foreign alliance. But I don't know why I should concern myself with these things anymore. I am a powerless old man and I cannot change the world as I once wished so I should learn to be content with my lot and fade away from the stage. I promised I would not indulge in spirits again but I feel I must make an exception today. Oblivion is the quickest way to forget one's shattered destiny.



    Sunday 2nd of April 1848

    And so, war is upon us. As expected, the back and forth of violence and suspicion has escalated in the murder of several dozen Italian merchants in Corinth, a fact which has garnered international attention. Macchi has thus proclaimed his outrage at such violence in a fiery encyclical and committed himself to protect the Catholics in Greece and punish the government that allowed such atrocities to happen.

    Privately, I received a letter with congratulations on my work and the long-awaited permission to return to Italy. At last! I've had my bags ready for the past weeks, each spark of violence making me run to search for news of an international response and that day has finally arrived.

    I understand that my actions were far from moral and that my joy at the death of others is a shameful thing but my exhaustion does not allow me to worry about such matters anymore. I do however suffer in the knowledge that I have brought bloodshed to this land and I find myself wondering how the old tsipouro crone and the kind beggar that sleeps outside my door will manage in the trying future. I suppose I will never find out.

    I've kept an eye out for news of Macchi's health and it seems that he has still many years ahead of him. I realize that I will never be Pope but I always hold out a glimmer of hope that I know I must extinguish. I well understand that I must retire. The thought of returning home to Liguria for these next years came to me but I fear that I have been gone too long. I have alienated the friends I used to have there and I don't think I could bear to see my home under the Piedmontese thumb. Rome is the place for me. I will match the ruins quite nicely and I can attempt to close my ears to the roar of the changing world and try to hold on to the familiar past.

    My ship leaves tomorrow, I shall not return.



    Author’s note:

    Cardinal Lambruschini disappears from the historical record after this last entry and his ultimate fate is unknown. His name does not figure in the list of electors at the next conclave so it is unlikely that he was in full possession of his faculties at the time.

    Beginning his career as a secretary at the Congress of Vienna, he is mainly remembered for his diplomatic pursuits though they did not have an enduring impact. He remains primarily one of the great “what ifs” of the modern papacy. His staunch resistance to change and propensity for foreign connections paint a picture of the possibility of an older Papal States with little unitary ambition but wielding influence through the crowned heads of Europe.
     
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    From the personal diaries of Pope Urban IX

    OdXWKv9l.jpg

    Wednesday 14th of July 1847

    Troubling news today, it seems that the rumors of unrest may have some truth to them. There was a large gathering of liberals in Frankfurt and, though harmless so far, they discussed and praised the idea of a unified German nation. I can't think of who would wish to work with such subversives but I worry that Austria might attempt to use these naive would-be revolutionaries to set itself at the center of Europe and keep an everlasting grip on Italy.

    This compounds itself with the incendiary murmurings about Italian unification that have come out of Sardinia-Piedmont with a patriotic song in their latest iteration. I don't know if the Piedmontese have aims on the subjugation of Italy or if this is the raving of some liberal outcasts but this places serious doubts on the trustworthiness of Sardinia-Piedmont as an ally. This shouldn't affect the Greek expedition, for which poor old Lambruschini was sent to lay the foundations, since France has always been supportive but it is one less security in this dangerous climate.

    I have prayed for a sign that this will all blow over soon but the Lord has left me with nothing but the echo of my words and this non-response makes me fear the worst. I wonder if I should call off the expedition, maybe those soldiers would be more useful at home. I have time to ponder this but I must make sure this decision is not taken lightly.



    Wednesday 13th of October 1847

    The world has gone entirely mad. Revolutionary liberals have sprung up in most European states to demand limits to their Kings and some even have the audacity to demand republics. Though German unification is still distant, the Austrian Empire is being overtaken by separatist rebellions that threaten to tear it apart. The Hungarians seem to have forgotten that they haven't ruled themselves in almost four hundred years and have established a temporary government with the aim of forming a republic. It appears, however, that they were so taken by their ravings about freedom that they forgot to provide any soldiers for their cause and the Austrian army is making quick work of the first fortresses.

    Further distressing news came from Italy itself, what was once the Republic of Venice has claimed its own independence and it is joined by Milan who has expelled its Austrian garrison.

    I have spent many anxious days watching this situation evolve and I almost fainted when I heard that Milan had sent a petition for Piedmontese annexation in exchange for their aid against the Austrians. This madness would have dragged me into a conflict that we have no possibility of winning and all for the sake of Piedmont alone, removing any hope for the possibility of a Greek expansion. I spent the entirety of last night in prayer and prostration before God as I begged him to make the Piedmontese refuse this offer for the good of His Church. And, as the first light of the day rose, I received the answer to my prayer and King Carlo Alberto has refused to deal with any of the rebels currently ravaging the Austrians.

    I have issued an official proclamation to all the Catholics of Europe to lay down their arms and return to their divinely appointed rulers and not fall into the seductive promises that drowned France in blood fifty years ago. I did not expect much of a reaction to this but I was stunned at how little effect my words had in the public at large. I only received a few congratulations from certain cardinals and ambassadors but the influence on the people was entirely absent. What times are these we live in that the flock will not listen to the shepherd and freely consign itself to the wolves! My predecessors thought that the Papacy could remain relevant in the modern world without the strength to back up its words but these current atrocities show us how wrong they were. And yet, what can I do to remedy this situation? The Papal armies are barely sufficient to ensure order at home, my words fall on deaf ears and my political influence is negligible. If only Gregory had gotten off his laurels and done something...

    I will have many more sleepless nights praying for the end of this deluge, may they be fruitful.



    Wednesday 29th of December 1847

    Perhaps I was too quick to cover my head with ash and this situation is nothing more than a straw fire with no long term consequences. Of course, the rebellion in Austria became extremely dangerous for a short while but now this new Emperor seems to have a firm grip on the reins of state. He has managed to disentangle himself from the promises that Ferdinand had been forced to make and commit to limited vows of reform that I am sure he will not go through with. Now that the conditions in Vienna have returned to normal, the other Austrian rebels are being dealt with swiftly. Milan and Venice are securely under siege while the Russians have opened a second front against the Hungarians.

    A few days ago, I stared in confusion when I received a letter from the Venetians with a request for support and access to the territory of the Papal States. I could not believe the audacity of such radicals who would come here with clearly impossible requests with the likely aim of corrupting my own subjects. I replied to them that they were welcome to enter the Papal States if they renounced their republicanism and retired to a monastery in the Appennines. Two of them actually took me up on the offer and so we have two new "brother Urban" walking around in Franciscan robes. How quickly these revolutionaries can be shaken out of their delusion.

    Thank God for this deliverance. We have stood steadfast before the waves and the Lord has parted them for us. I look forward to the end of this crisis and a return to normality. I've heard from Lambruschini and it seems he has finally made some real progress in Athens even though it looks like the prideful fool is taking his time to spite me like a spoiled child. Perhaps by the time he has finished, the Springtime of the Peoples will have turned to Winter and the Papal States may regain their authority once more.



    Thursday 10th of August 1848

    Venice has finally given up its pretenses. The news is still fresh on everyone's lips but it is unequivocal, the last bastion of revolution has been struck down and the rebel leaders shot. Though France did lapse again into republicanism, it couldn't be said that Louis Philippe was a proper king in the first place. I feared that that change might have triggered a further wave of revolts or even wars from the new regime but thankfully they seem to have kept their stable place in European politics.

    It was a terrifying year, always waiting for an enemy that, fortunately, never came. I spent so much time prostrating myself and praying for deliverance and it has finally come to us. Not only that, but we've managed to improve upon our condition. France has agreed to help us with the Greek invasion even if the Piedmontese broke their promises. Just a couple of months ago, our navy shattered the Greek fleet and landed our brave men on the coast of Kalamata. This will all be over in a few months and provide an additional pool of men and resources for the Papacy.

    Though my health is as it always was, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my legacy. I must admit that my handling of these revolutions could have been much better but one cannot simply bottle-up the hurricane once it is released. No, I think this failing of mine will vanish with the years. The last element that will remain is this Hellenic foundation that I have placed for the future greatness of my Country and my Church. I know I risk a fall into vanity but what of it? False modesty would be just as much a sin and I would prefer to spend my years in purgatory for pride rather than perjury.
     
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Amato Aloisi

    LjZRQIKl.jpg

    Tuesday 4th of April 1848

    Not many men can claim to have lead an invasion force on their 71st birthday but here I am with that very boast. Of course, I am only admitted into the war room as a courtesy given that I have never had the privilege of leading men in my own right, but I am still Urban's representative on this venture. I didn't expect anything of the sort to happen to me at my age but then-cardinal Macchi practically adopted me while campaigning for his papacy, he even managed to break through my shell and, I dare say, offer me his genuine friendship. Despite this rapport, I was chief among those confused by his decision to firstly elevate me to the rank of cardinal and secondly place me in charge of an operation I know is very dear to his heart. I am told that the hostilities are not expected to last more than a few months since France has agreed to support our endeavor despite Piedmont-Sardinia's choice to renege on our alliance.

    I have not felt as seasick as I would have thought before embarking but unfortunately Annibale has not shared my good fortune. He has taken to lying in my quarters with a silent stare of reproach that never fails to wound me and lead me to scratch his ears in a feeble attempt at an apology. My other traveling companions seem to have an attitude characterized by the same hostility towards me, though they are not quite so easy to placate as my old friend. Leopoldo Lunardi, Admiral in charge of the fleet and similarly aged gentleman to myself, tends to turn his aquiline nose up at me on most occasions and reacts with aggression to the few suggestions I've made so far. It's clear that he resents a mere civilian, and a clergyman no less, barging onto his ship and asking to participate in decisions on which he has no experience. I can't say I blame him for that, I imagine he just wants to dump the army off in Greece and then forget all about us. Speaking of the army, Matteo di Borbone delle Due Sicilie is the verbose name of the resident General. The name reveals an interesting story that the Pope once told me: apparently the good general is a distant cousin of the ruling house of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and chose to forsake his life as a minor noble for a military career in the service of the Church. I expected him to treat me in a similar way as Lunardi but he does not seem to mind my presence too much though he tends to joke about people and things in a way that I would find offensive if directed towards me.

    I will have several weeks to get accustomed to these characters and I hope we shall warm to each other with time. The soldiers on the other hand are not pleasant at all. I'm sure that they have a rather poor opinion of me and I try to avoid interactions with them on any occasion. Unfortunately even the San Lorenzo is cramped and I will try and confine myself to my quarters for a bit of peace and quiet.

    Now, before the seasickness takes me as well, I will prepare myself for my first night on the waves.



    Thursday 11th of May 1848

    I have never been happier to have land on the horizon. The sailing itself was more than fine in hindsight but the battle was beyond whatever I could have imagined. We were moving through the Ionian Sea and had just lost sight of the Italian coast when we noticed Greek flags on the horizon. God granted that this was a smaller force than ours but the sight of six vessels heading for our fleet almost lead me to faint. Lunardi did not seem to fare much better than me and lost several precious moments in a blind panic of plans and calculations in the attempt to avoid an interception. Thankfully Borbone roused him from his confusion with a series of epithets I presume were wholly invented by sailors and our defense could proceed. With the wind against us, the Greeks fired the first volley at the San Lorenzo but the blessing of our armored hull managed to protect us from significant damage nonetheless I took this as my cue to flee to my quarters and find refuge under the bed with Annibale. A few minutes passed until I heard the infernal roar of our own broadside whose success I cannot say I witnessed but it was soon followed by another and another.

    When the thunder of guns began to merge into a constant storm and I could no longer hear cannonball impacts our own vessel, I dared to peek outside of my refuge and so obtained a better picture of the ensuing carnage. The enemy flagship was no longer concerned with us but rather harassed by our smaller frigates and showed considerable wear and tear upon its hull though none sufficient to sink it. The other ships of the convoy seemed instead to be poorly armed transport vessels much like the ones in our own retinue and thus left us in the advantage when it comes to firepower. Over the course of the next hour, I pushed myself into ever better observation positions and was present when the second enemy transport was sliced in half by a full barrage from the San Lorenzo. At this point, the bulk of the enemy force had passed us by in retreat and Lunardi thought it better to not pursue them but rather keep to the mission we were assigned, a consideration that I heartily approved of.

    The aftermath of the battle was one of the most atrocious sights I have yet seen, though I fear the future will hold many more such spectacles. We rescued most of the crew from the first transport which was half submerged but had maintained a modicum of integrity. However, the ship I saw torn apart had only a handful of survivors and consisted mostly of bodies mutilated beyond recognition. Though these men are our enemies and do not even share our religion, I insisted that I be allowed to conduct a small ceremony for all those who perished in this day while the survivors we had taken were placed under armed guard.

    In the end, we moved on from that grisly place and sailed until we could see the Greek coast we were sent to take. A welcome sight as I have had enough of boats.

    9RaFTzsl.jpg

    Saturday 5th of August 1848

    We have met our first setback in this foreign endeavor. Our landing in Kalamata a couple of months ago was met with little resistance, only an unprepared militia that was routed by our cavalry in less than an hour with only minimal losses on our part. We spent the next few weeks occupying any garrisoned city in the area and still we did not see any great resistance. I must say, as I wrote to Urban, that I counseled Borbone to wait for the arrival of the rest of our army with the artillery in tow but he grew impatient at my attempts to contain him. When news arrived of the Greek mission attempting to take a beachhead at Viterbo, the General broke and gave orders to move on Tripoli with the aim of reaching Athens and ending the war, upon the assumption that all remaining Greek forces had been defeated in Italy.

    Unfortunately, that information was not accurate. Just last week we encountered a Greek army with twice as much cavalry and thrice our infantry heading in our direction. I must credit Borbone with his later actions. With considerable skill, he drew almost half of the enemy infantrymen into a killing ground in a valley between hills that we controlled. The encounter resulted in a massacre for our enemies and we managed to escape back to Kalamata with limited casualties and only a few hundred wounded. My stomach is not yet used to the sight of so much death but I am beginning to appreciate the general's indomitableness and I understand that decisive victories are needed if the bloodshed is to end.

    My reports to the Pope have been always well accepted and he has no lack of words of praise for my conduct. Now orders have come in that we are to hold the region and keep the Greek army's attention on us while the fleet will attempt a landing around Athens. In the meantime, I can enjoy the countryside here and I am sure that Annibale will enjoy running up and down the hills. Were I younger, we could go for a hunt but I will be content to sit and stare out at this beautiful country.



    Wednesday 6th of December 1848

    Terrible news today. My entry will be short since we are rushing to join the larger force and defend Athens. Information arrived this morning that the British and the Russians have joined the war at the Greeks' side. The Russians seem to be busy in Hungary so far but the British have started to move their fleets into position in the Mediterranean. Borbone has been called back to Rome to aid with the mobilization of the peasantry to resist any counterattacks that may come. General Enrico Zunica now leads the army and, despite his considerable youth, is pushing us forward with a rage and determination I have not seen in a long time. Corinth stands in our way but the new general plans to take the city in less than a month to close the distance. Urban has spurred me on to conclude this peace before our new foes have time to organize themselves and I am hoping he won't be disappointed, for all our sakes.



    Thursday 8th February 1849

    This whole endeavor has been an unbelievable experience. I always thought that I would have remained in Rome for my entire life from beginning to end but now I regularly correspond with a Pope and I led a victorious foreign war.

    The breakneck march to Corinth and the conquest of the city were achieved in record time thus managing to block off access to the Peloponnese from any retaliation. As we had expected, the Russians had no time to send their vast armies against us and fortunately, the British had gathered only a small force, even then directed against Italy where Borbone quickly dispersed them. After Corinth, we met up with our forces in Athens and had nothing to do but wait at the capital for the negotiations between France and Great Britain to come to fruition.

    Today I have received news from Urban that the war is finally over. These horrors it brought are something I will gladly leave behind as I have experienced more than my fill of them. As my last assignment in Greece, I am to lead our men out of Athens and into the new Papal Peloponnese from which we will be ferried back to Italy. I am looking forward to a return to my old home and my usual walks with Annibale. I can't help but wonder how the Peloponnese will fare from now on but I'm sure that Urban will choose the right man for the job.

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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Libero Cappellini

    UESljIo.jpg

    Wednesday 10th March 1847

    I feel that the work of my last weeks is finally coming to fruition. I managed to convince a sizable number of the more illustrious families in Rome and some of the better off artisans to join me in a tour of the experimental facilities I had set up at the Pope's behest. While most were hesitant in joining me on the new Rome-Ostia railroad, I succeeded in enticing them onboard after getting in my seat and riding along for a few meters without any of the boilers exploding (avoiding a repeat of New Year's test). The ride itself did not provide many occasions for conversation as the engine roared all the way through with the drivers doing their utmost to show what their machine is capable of. It succeeded in reaching a staggering forty kilometers per hour which sickened some of the older gentlemen but positively exhilarated me and several others. Upon arrival, I took a moment to illustrate the functioning of the locomotive with the help of Alessandro who, as chief engineer, proceeded to rattle off several main cities and how the time to reach them would be greatly shortened if only the infrastructure could be built. I thanked Alessandro and asked him to lead us to the experimental station whose material had been the hardest to obtain as it had to be shipped all the way from Britain at no small expense and hard work from my agents in London.

    The small warehouse was divided into three sections which each served to present a different means of production in order to cater to the different investors present. First, we came to the agricultural devices which were of greater interest to those nobles whose main form of property consisted of vast grain fields in Latium and Central Italy. We had just managed to arrange for limited demonstrations of the efficacy but my assistants and I did our best to impress upon those present how much more efficient the new reaping machines were when compared to a single peasant with a scythe. Those with larger silvan properties were targeted in a second room by a demonstration of a state-of-the-art mechanical saw whose utility would be greatest in the working of raw lumber but could also be used to great efficacy in the more speedy production of simple furniture. This last point piqued the interest of the merchants but it was the final room that was designed specifically for them. Opening the door gave way to an infernal clacking from the large array of women working at the modern mechanical looms which were functioning at a prodigious speed while requiring only minimal attention from the operators. Despite this convenience, the quality of the end product was as good as any that can be bought in markets around the state.

    The noise of the ambiance was soon matched by the excited comments shared by those on the tour, a sign which I took advantage of to lead them back out into calmer air. When we exited the building and returned to the relative quiet of the outside world, Alessandro and I were peppered by questions about costs and efficiencies and durability of these contraptions which we answered patiently and, I think, managed to obtain a certain degree of optimism towards the innovations.

    While I waited for the last few stragglers to board the train, I was approached by Andrea, now governing the family estate instead of father, who introduced me to the Count Barberini. In the few moments we shared, he praised my presentation and pledged his support to the cause by claiming that he would collect funds for the construction of a small textile factory with the hopes of extending it to a fully operational one on the French or English model.

    I am still unsure whether the Count was sincere in his promises but it is certainly a good sign that he would choose to talk to me directly about the venture. I will certainly follow up on the recent trip to Ostia with another round of balls and dinners to ensure that the idea of industrializing is never far from the minds of Rome's wealthy and maybe, with some work, we may catch up to the rest of Europe.

    Tuesday 14th November 1848

    Nothing is working. I have tried everything that has crossed my mind: meetings, demonstrations, loans and all of the patience I could muster. But, at every turn, I've been thwarted and pushed back.

    First were the revolutions. I didn't resent them so much at first, most were against excessively oppressive governments who should learn to respect their subjects. This feeling subsided as soon as it became known that the foot soldiers of these movements came from the innovators in the cities and those disenfranchised workers who control the very machines I am trying to incentivize. This already cut down on many of those who would have otherwise supported my plans.

    The coup de grace to my hopes came when Urban declared his renewed Fourth Crusade. I still cannot fathom why he would waste the Papacy's limited resources on a foreign adventure to subjugate a people that do not want us, but that is the case. I burst with so much rage that day that I walked out into the woods until the sun set upon me and I was forced to ask for hospitality in a small cottage I found along the way. This conflict has sapped any surplus liquidity that might have been invested and having Britain as an adversary has only made the importation of advanced machines more arduous. Even Andrea has gone back on his plans because he says that anything he earns goes straight into taxes and is dashed against the Greek shores. I've written time and time again to Cardinal Mastai Ferretti in the hope that he could change the Holy Father's mind but all I received from him was a resigned agreement that this war is not needed with the hope that some good might come out of this.

    I will try to redouble my efforts with the few potential investors that I have left but I fear that even this won't stop the tide of misfortune that this project seems to attract.

    Sunday 26th May 1850

    I have just received a letter from the Pope saying that my services in promoting industry are no longer needed. The agents that I was assigned have been relocated to the Peloponnese to set up a skeletal bureaucracy among those people of a different language and a different faith.

    I can only hope that the couple dozen investors I have managed to recruit to the cause will continue even without my assistance.

    I will be retiring to my home in the next months and hopefully, my services will remain unnecessary for a good long while.
     
    Chapter XI: On Greek Neck an Italian Yoke
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti

    Ub4W0qHl.jpg

    Monday 17th of June 1850

    I must admit, I am quite enjoying this Greek adventure even if it did start fairly suddenly. I confess that I had and still have my misgivings about the invasion but this voyage has brought me considerable personal pleasure even if I do think back to poor Cardinal Cappellini from time to time. As soon as the war ended, on the same day, I received Urban's letter with the request to move to Nafplion as soon as possible, and Libero's letter filled with what I assume he considered bile towards the Pope. The man is rather pleasant to be around but should really work on some better insults though his disappointment at the loss of his assignment was palpable.

    I set off from the port of Ancona on Tuesday on a ship that was actually called the "Jason", not "Argo", "Jason". I'm not sure which kind of person has the classical knowledge to remember that Jason is a sailor but forget the name of his ship. Either that or the good name was already taken by a speedier captain who I did not have the pleasure to meet.

    The trip itself proved to be a pleasant affair and I spent it in the company of this journalist from Milan who had come late in his aim to report on the war. He was quite witty and his writing had a certain lyricism about it so much so that I'm curious to read what he will come up with. Alas, the length of the voyage did not give us enough time to get better acquainted but the encounter seems to me like a good omen.

    We arrived at Corinth two days ago and I got my first experience of the country. We entered the port filled with small fishing ships quite similar to those at home and were greeted by innumerable white cubic houses on the surrounding hills like the table of a particularly messy gambler. It hadn't rained in many days and dust covered everything and blew into the sea with only a few timid plants that struggled to grow within the burnt ground. I spent the rest of the day in a pleasant visit of the town and its ruins which I found interesting but the comparison with Rome is certainly unflattering, though one could say that for any city. I do remember having an excellent coffee in a little bar along the coast, the cup was filthy but the piratical old man who owned the place convinced me to try the beverage and I was amazed by its quality. This is certainly an aspect of the country that I will have to take advantage of.

    After this meeting, my curiosity led me to talk a while with a few of the locals on their religious beliefs and, though my expectations were low to begin with, I found ample hostility toward the Catholic faith. When I questioned my companions with which difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism caused this frustration, I was generally met with embarrassed mumbles and at best a complaint in relation to a bland eucharist. I would hope that this ignorance will allow for the possibility of a wider conversion and that such a process may aid in sealing the rift between our peoples.

    I recovered in Corinth for a full day and left for Nafplion the next morning. During the long bumpy carriage ride, I met a primarily bucolic countryside filled with olive groves and diligent farmers in their daily battle with the harsh soil as if the last couple thousand years had not dared to touch this singular region. The simple progress we've made in the Papacy must seem positively revolutionary to these people. I can already anticipate that it will be quite a struggle to integrate such a curious land.

    I arrived in Nafplion late last night and I've spent most of today in an exploration of the old Venetian fortress and the ruins of Argos while fruitlessly trying to find a modern Diomedes among the crowd. In the city itself, I required a significant mental shift to get used to the modern pronunciation of Greek and I long wondered what had possessed these people to pronounce an upsilon as an f. I have to concede that the modern accent certainly has artistic merit since the new inflection would succeed in making Sophocles cry and Aristophanes laugh uncontrollably. I might be too harsh due to the late hour but I will manage to give a more balanced judgment in the coming months. I should give thanks to Urban for the gift of such an interesting experience, his strange war may yet have proved useful.



    Monday 9th of September 1850

    I have grown to respect the Greek people and their resilience even if it is all to my detriment. My attempts to build a functioning bureaucracy have been slow at every turn since a majority of the Greeks refuse to help us and barely any Italians choose to migrate to a region that offers few novel job opportunities. The locals have not only refused to help the administration but actively hinder the organization of the province. Recent estimates indicate that the so-called Greek Liberation Movement includes about a quarter of all the population of the Peloponnese and has been engaging in acts of sabotage and threats against the few Italian immigrants. I've heard reports of everything ranging from beatings in the night to a simple boycott of Italian shopkeepers. Evidently the flame that started this war still burns bright and shows no signs of dying down. I've personally only received dirty looks and fortunately, things have not escalated but I am reasonably sure that this will not be a brief process.

    The central office I have set up here in Nafplion is mostly staffed by members of the old Hellenic administration and they provide a reluctant but functional basis for the whole system. Their reluctance makes them acceptable for the administration of the city itself but they resist my attempts at expansion and my own letters to the Corinthians proved rather less effective than the originals. As such, I've had to travel throughout the Peloponnese and personally set up small centers and guide them until they become self-sufficient.

    I'm most proud of how things worked out in Sparta although that isn't saying much. There isn't a lot left of the old settlement and the inhabitants are significantly less bellicose than their reputation would imply. The new settlement is surprisingly modern due to the plan that young King Otto chose and there is a bit of a confusing Germanic feel with wide streets lined by towering trees that sort the town into neat squares. I spoke with a number of the Germans who live there and they told me that the town was intended to house one hundred thousand inhabitants, certainly something to keep in mind for new Italians. In any case, it was these Germans, with their innate love for efficiency, who most aided me in setting up the governmental structure. In only a couple of days, I had a dedicated core of Bureaucrats ready to spread out in the region to gather the information required for proper governance.

    I had to leave that picturesque group of clerks to their work since mine called me to still further areas. Patras, Tripoli, Corinth, and Messenia all gave me the hostile stares and little collaboration that come with a foreign invader who tries to understand how to best tax a people. Now, back in Nafplion, I am sitting here with terrible aches from the travel as I wonder what more work I could do in this land. It's too late to think, I'll look for new ideas in the morning.
     
    Chapter XII: The Conclave of 1851
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    ZCawYoZl.png
    Urban IX Exit

    It goes without saying that the Papacy of Urban IX represents a pivotal point in Italian history for the first Papal invasion in centuries which garnered the attention of the European powers. At the time of the Greek War, the foreign offices of all the major powers were abuzz with questions about the appropriate response to a Pope with foreign ambitions. As we have seen, both the Russian and British Empires provided a declaration of war that, in the end, amounted to little more than a few skirmishes and strongly worded letters between ambassadors. The timing of the conflict was also fortuitous as it coincided with the springtime of the peoples in whose absence, many argue, Urban’s ambitions would have been squashed by the forces of the Congress System. It is possible that such a reaction would have presented itself in any case if Urban had decided to push his luck any further but the briefness of his papacy halted most thoughts of a late retaliation to the acquisition of the Peloponnese.
    A bellicose pope, his first attempts at industrialization were weak and stunted thus opening the door for the economic crisis that would dominate most of the 1850s as the absence of a strong industry restricted revenue and jeopardized the livelihoods of small artisans.
    This factor together with the recent tensions in the Peloponnese, which have their roots in this historical period, have tarnished the Pope’s reputation as of late and have overturned the long-held views that were established by early-1900 scholarship. Urban X’s election caused fears of some sort of revival of this behavior but these worries were soon set aside as the Holy Father explained his name as an atonement for his predecessor’s actions and a hope for peace in Greece.
    The next Pope that will be discussed is not so contentious in the modern day but is nonetheless a pivotal figure of the Italian Risorgimento enough that his name will be echoed in the most influential of the Popes in the last few centuries.

    pJyUASQl.jpg

    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Amato Aloisi

    Wednesday 15th of January 1851

    I still grieve for Urban's passing as he gave me so much despite my doubts and failings. And now we are settled here in an attempt to choose a worthy successor. My first vote was little more than a wild stab in the dark since I know so few of the cardinals here, if not from a distant reputation. I struggled to stifle a gasp when I realized that my name came up among the favored in the first rounds and I'm placed within sight of the limit of two thirds.
    I find myself questioning the judgment of those who took this decision. While I believe I could be a worthy pontiff, I feel that my age should disqualify me from such an important position in this pivotal moment in history. I do not know when I will be called to the Lord but it is not outrageous to assume that my pontificate would be a short one just as Urban's was.
    This still sheds no light on who I must vote for. They say that the Holy Spirit inspires this election but no name has been whispered into my ear. I only feel that Mastai Ferretti leans into the flow of the times far beyond what is right for the leader of the Holy Church.
    And what if I am elected? Who comes after Urban? I would have to follow the legacy of some recent pope. I could be Gregory but seventeen is a number with such ill omens tied to it, Urban would be pretentious of me and Pius would not be particularly true in my case.
    But this speculation is premature, I suppose I will keep waiting for God to inspire me towards a suitable name or a suitable candidate at the opportune moment.


    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti

    Thursday 16th of January 1851

    It looks like I traveled all the way from Greece to witness a one-sided victory. Cardinal Aloisi, draped in his military success and heralding the hope of further lands for the Papacy, is one step from the throne of Saint Peter. I don't really fault his points but I disagree with his wish to continue Urban's policies. He doesn't really have a voice for himself but melds with whatever his last benefactor told him.
    I also find that his faith is shallow with few signs of real devotion. At most, I heard he used to inspire, and I use the term lightly, the soldiers he led with the promise that the Lord is with them. He should understand God is more a gentle guiding hand than a battering ram with which to smite one's enemies. Aloisi also displays his legal training and lack of imagination in the sermons I saw him give where the Bible lies naked with none of the beautiful ornaments that the Church fathers have dressed it with.
    I might be guilty of the sin of pride but I believe that I would be a better choice to serve God. After all, would he have cured me and taken me so far for no real purpose? I don't think so.
    I've seen Cappellini wince the few times he was mentioned and I am sure I would do him a favor by taking supporters from him. Aloisi's crowd does not know me due to my time away from Rome but I will find some way to win them over, their current candidate certainly does not exude charisma.
    I will try and extend the Conclave for enough time to sway an adequate number of cardinals to my cause. The Church needs a pious pope and I am the sole candidate who can deliver this, may the Lord guide my brothers to this choice.


    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Libero Cappellini

    Friday 17th of January 1851

    There may yet be hope for the Church.
    My heart sank in my chest after Wednesday's session when Cardinal Aloisi stopped a hair away from the required votes. Not only that but whoever voted for me in the last conclave has clearly been proselytizing and handed me five preferences that he should have put to much better use. I said so to anyone who would listen and encouraged them to vote for Cardinal Mastai Ferretti. He is a man who can clear the cobwebs from this Country and this Church and show them that the old world has died. I see that we are not close friends but he is certainly an individual that I admire and respect while being confident that he at least thinks about my suggestions.
    It might have been something I said or rather the fact that Aloisi has a clear contender, but today he and Mastai Ferretti are separated by no more than a couple of ballots. If this tide can continue to swell, we could finally be freed from our reactionary past.
    I am still unnerved by those votes I received, even now I cannot fathom who it is. I can but pray that the Holy Spirit guide our hands in the next days.
    Ab errore suffragiorum libera nos domine.
     
    Innocent XIV
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    Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: habemus Papam! Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum Ioannem Mariam Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Mastai Ferretti, qui sibi nomen imposuit Innocentem Quartum Decimum
     
    Chapter XIII: L’Italia s’è Desta
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    From the personal diaries of Pope Innocent XIV

    EQs6r9ll.jpg

    Sunday 28th of January 1855

    We are at war. It took quite a while for me to take this decision but I've sent the Austrian ambassador back to Vienna and ordered the mobilization of the army reserves.

    All those letters that I'd sent to Napoleon have finally born fruit as he agreed to extend the goals of the war from the transfer of Lombardy to the Piedmontese to the assignment of Veneto to the Papal States. He wasn't too easy to convince but I knew which strings to pull to make sure he saw things my way.

    He started quite partial to the idea of providing a stable counterweight to Piedmont-Sardinia in Italy but was tipped over after my long exhausting letter where I reminded him of that time back in '31 when I used my position as archbishop of Spoleto to hide him from the Austrian authorities who were looking for a young revolutionary. The mistakes of our youth often come and bite us in the end and, now that Bonaparte pursues Austria yet again, it has come time for him to return the favor to old Innocent.

    If there is something that I have learned in my time in Greece, it's that all Italians are more alike than we are different, and, if we cling to our petty differences, we will simply make ourselves into prey for stronger powers. Mazzini may be a dangerous extremist but I have to agree that a united Italy is the way forward and an Italy under the Papacy is the only way to prevent the resentment that would come with one petty kingdom overpowering the others. The Church has many flaws but, in the end, it has a universality and unity that cannot be found in other ideals.

    Of course, this lofty project will take some time but I feel that this "Second Italian War of Independence" might be a step in the right direction by expelling the foreigners and leaving a contest purely among Italians. My one reservation on the endeavor is that the Papal armies were perfectly suitable to humble Greece but they definitely are not up to the task of defeating Austria. This means that I will mostly have to rely on French support while we hold the line in Romagna. The Lord only knows whether our efforts will be enough but I believe I have been given this opportunity for a clear reason and now I will find out if my choice will be worth the cost.



    Saturday 3rd of March 1855

    This war has not started well. Mobilizing the army reserves did provide a good amount of men but it has plunged the state into an even deeper recession than it was in previously and I could sense Cardinal Cappellini's peace of mind splinter into a thousand little shards. Unfortunately, the cost of fighting does not limit itself to mere money but lives as well. Last week, a newly mobilized group of three thousand men in Bologna was surprised by Austrian forces during their transfer to the main army. The forty thousand Austrians made short work of these poor farmers and artisans and I have not received reports of any survivors. This, combined with the imminent occupation of Ferrara has forced us to form a defensive line in Ravenna, once ravaged by plague and soon to experience bloodshed and even famine.

    This individual tragedy was compounded by yet another when, two days later, while I was deep in prayer for the souls of those killed, an aide brought me the news of a naval disaster in the Gulf of Taranto. Our fleet was returning from its position in Corinth to blockade the Venetian coast but was surprised by an Austrian contingent that appeared smaller in number. Admiral Lunardi chose to attack them first but soon found himself terribly outmatched when he realized that the enemy was equipped with modern heavy warships and his fleet was mainly composed of transports. The transports later proved useful when they had to take on the survivors of eleven sunken ships and limp home with a mere five. All in all, I am given another one-thousand six-hundred and fifty souls to pray for.

    The Piedmontese seem to have a foothold in Lombardy and Louis Napoleon has assured me that French soldiers are coming. I can only hope that this painful beginning was a necessary evil to ensure success. For now, I will keep praying.

    hGHmSfUl.jpg

    Saturday 5th of May 1855

    Finally a victory! I have just gotten news that forty thousand Papal soldiers together with fifty-six thousand Piedmontese have pushed the dreaded Austrians out of Ferrara and have proceeded to chase them back into Veneto. The losses have been severe but, if things continue along with this pace, they will soon be repaid with the common good. I'm told that our general Matteo di Borbone-Due Sicilie took control of the allied forces and surprised an Austrian detachment out looting the countryside and made them prisoners after a brief resistance. The other twenty-thousand Austrians were ambushed during their attempt to break into the besieged city but they put up fierce resistance taking many of our allies with them. In any case, as painful as it is to have caused such hardship, Ferrara is free once more and we can move on to the liberation of Veneto.

    Lombardy has been mostly occupied by the Piedmontese although he Austrians have begun a counteroffensive which seemed dangerous until a few days ago but will soon be met with a combined French and Belgian force twice the size of our own army. This war for Italy would have turned out quite differently had it not been for old (or, more accurately, young) Louis Napoleon. In the meantime, I've ordered General Borbone-Due Sicilie to aim for Venice and plant the Papal flag in Piazza San Marco. After that, he is to take Udine while the Piedmontese guard the Alps near Belluno.

    And so it begins, I feel uncomfortable saying this but there is a certain elation in seeing one's forces victorious and advancing. I must remember not to get carried away with meaningless conflicts for the sake of this thrill. Many wounded are being brought to Ravenna to recover and I think it is only right and proper that I travel there to give them comfort and remind myself that those battle reports I receive speak of thousands of fathers, husbands, and sons. The war continues and so must our humanity.



    Wednesday 18th of July 1855

    The eagle's feathers have been clipped. No Austrian soldiers remain within the confines of Italy and we have begun a full advance into German lands. They attempted one last move on Udine but General Borbone-Due Sicilie managed to hold off the attackers. It was a hard-fought battle where the core of our forces had to take the brunt of the remaining Austrian army. The General took up defensive positions around a town called Caporetto and blocked access to the Italian road with hastily constructed fortifications while artillery was positioned in the surrounding mountains to bombard the enemy force. Though we had the advantage in position, the Austrians had brought along more than three times our own artillery and caused significant casualties for the infantry at the center of the valley. The encounter lasted for about a week from start to finish but the attack was repelled and a final cavalry charge sent the Austrians running back towards Vienna. Speaking of which, while our forces are marching along the Adriatic coast, a combined French and Belgian army lays siege to the enemy capital. Our war is over, we just need to wait for the Austrians to realize it.

    h0dkfjXl.jpg

    Thursday 3rd of January 1856

    Campoformio, of course, that's where Louis Napoleon wanted us to meet. At least the voyage gave me a chance to tour the Venetian countryside and learn several dozen creative ways to shout the Lord's name in vain. At first, I blushed as the shepherds' cursed at their flocks to make way for my carriage but after a few days of travel, I'm just impressed by the sheer volume of available sentences.

    The treaty itself was drafted by me, Louis Napoleon, Victor Emmanuel, and the Austrian foreign minister von Buol-Schauenstein. I'd never noticed until now how prominently mustaches figure in modern politicians until I saw how unadorned Buol-Schauenstein appeared among all of the other participants, although I'm sure I was the subject of the same consideration. Louis Napoleon has aged since the last time we met but maintains all of the ambition and rebellious spirit that almost got him arrested so many years ago, I should be careful that his ambition does not end up consuming Italy as well. Victor Emmanuel was an interesting fellow, spoke only Piedmontese to his aides and ministers, and made no mystery of his extramarital relationship even so shortly after the death of his wife. He is a picturesque character who appears to be bored by politics but I must remember to keep a close eye on Cavour, the bespectacled advisor who seems to be the true mind behind the king's actions.

    The negotiations proceeded without much opposition voiced by the thoroughly defeated Austrians and primarily consisted in Napoleon trying to gain favors from me and Victor Emmanuel by tweaking what exactly the borders between Lombardy and Veneto are. The back and forth resulted in the border being drawn down from Lake Garda through the Mincio river until it merges into the Po with Mantua handed to the Piedmontese.

    And thus, Italy is a little freer but, alas, not much more united. It will take considerable work for Piedmontese, Lombards, Venetians, and Romans to surrender their millenary divisions and become one. We can start by the restoration of Veneto to Italian control and the Lord only knows what the future holds. I just hope that He doesn't listen too closely to the Venetians lest a new flood make them swallow their words.
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    From the personal diaries of Annibale Lisi

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    Thursday 28th of February 1856

    The letters have come back from Innocent and he thinks that my proposal of five years is excessive for certain conservative members of the curia to accept. Apparently, they feel that this would be an extravagant concession to modernity or, I suspect, the social mobility of the poor. I will have to work on the proposal again and sneak in a way to hide its utility from the other cardinals.

    I remember how Nunzia danced with joy when I told her that each of her children would have been able to learn how to read and write and maybe even study further, all for free. She wouldn't stop talking about the news with the other servants, especially Cecilia who was still pregnant at the time. It would break my heart to go back on such a promise that has so much potential at the large or small scale. Innocent is a good man and a good Pope but he does not understand the urgency for reform, for these children a year can be the difference between being able to read and aspire to something or to die in some mine or factory as slave labor.

    I thought about the wording of the bill for days, writing and erasing and rewriting the key segments. Now I think I know what it should be. All children of the Papal States from the age of six will be guaranteed at least three years of free compulsory education; however, since there is no mention of the maximum number of compulsory years, it should be easy to allow for considerable expansions of this right in cities or for families with a large number of children to care for.

    I will certainly continue to rework the text but I think I hit upon an adequate base for the time being. It is deeply problematic that each of the recent popes and a majority of cardinals was not raised among normal people and only see them when they dare venture out for a public appearance. I don't know how often the high clergy pray or reflect on the real meaning of the words and actions of our Lord but it is not hard to notice that many of them don't take the lessons to heart. I need to find a reliable circle of cardinals that I can work with and that can help me to return the Church to its true calling. I hope we'll be able to replace the older generation with a more progressive one and get the Papal States on course to fulfill the teachings that we claim to uphold. I have written a letter to Cardinal Cappellini to see if he can be of any aid in my endeavor. He is a noble without a significant religious disposition but his propensity for industry might prove to be an auspicious start to bring him to my side. It is a blessing that the Pope is liberally inclined but inclined is all I can say for him although he is certainly a pious man in his own way. My mission is going to be a long one but I feel that a new pontiff will be needed to go as far as I am willing. Not me certainly, I am too lowly and too junior a cardinal to be seriously considered but I have to set myself in a position that will allow me to actively pursue a real progressive agenda.

    But now I am overextending my plans, it is helpful to be prepared, however, I need to keep my eye on the task at hand and focus on the construction of an educational system for the country. Just a few touches more and I can proceed to greater things.

    Saturday 14th of August 1858

    My work with Innocent has given some fruits but I have set my main plans aside for now. In happier news, Libero has written back still basking in the glow of his financial endeavors and he seems to agree with a good amount of my reform-oriented ideas. We both understand that while the socialists make some tragic mistakes in their conclusions, it is the role of the Universal Church to protect the poor and the oppressed without regard to the expense since the reward for mankind is incommensurable. He has invited me to his country home to discuss the matter further and organize some proposals that we may present to Innocent and, though Libero may not consider this, make known to prospective papabili by using his influence as the man who helped free the Papal States from financial ruin. Flattering a title as that is, I must admit that if one considers the time elapsed and the significant changes of this papacy it is likely that the crisis solved itself and the good cardinal saved us maybe a few months of struggle. Nonetheless, his reputation has shot up and that is precisely what we need to get our proposals through. I first expected to dictate the majority of the terms but Cappellini preceded me in several cases and I look forward to a fruitful collaboration.

    In the meantime, the Pope has asked me to extend citizenship to all Italians who have lived in Papal territories in the Peninsula and in the Peloponnese for a minimum of five years. No luck yet for the Greeks who remain prisoners in their own homes but we inch ever closer to rectifying Urban's misguided plan. I am not sure if Innocent expects this new law to spur immigration but it seems more likely that he hopes the decree will limit talk of Venetian independence that I have heard about. On this I agree with him, there is no need for an unstable new nation in Italy, especially if it is born of civil war.

    The matter of Italy will also have to be faced sooner or later but I believe that the Pope has decided to leave an explicit treatment of the conundrum to a future generation. For myself, I have not yet thought enough about it. If I think of how things were back at home, I am not bursting with hope or pride on behalf of those who still live there and I think the same can be said for most of the cities that are not capitals. However, outright unification risks killing even those brief flashes of light in favor of a single one. Of course, there is the possibility that unification might simply bring greater prosperity for every party involved but something in my stomach wants me to pull away from those risks since the rewards feel so uncertain.

    We have an interesting future to look forward to.
     
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Diomede Cangiano

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    Saturday 23rd of February 1856

    Venice is glorious and walking through the Doge's palace as if it were my own is an exhilarating experience. My initial misgivings regarding the war have vanished at the sight of the prize we have managed to gain. The city reminds me a lot of home except, of course, with a more limited architectural repertoire.

    Unfortunately, the city's beauty is tainted by the dissenting voices that threaten to reverse the efforts of thousands of Papal soldiers. I was warned preceding my arrival that protests have been appearing in cities across Veneto and demanding independence for a Venetian Republic. I do not understand how they can hope to resurrect an institution that has not existed for over half a century but I believe that aspiration is a leftover from the Austrian domination. These liberals are all the same, like sentimental women, they dream impossible dreams and shut their eyes to the realities of the world.

    Foolish and idealistic though they may be, these would-be revolutionaries have squirreled away a significant amount of supplies, enough to arm and equip over thirty thousand men. This would not have been cause for concern prior to the war but now I am told that the pontifical army counts only five thousand soldiers in its ranks. As such, my stay in this fabled city has been soured as I know that help will not arrive quickly in case of insurrections.

    I am in regular correspondence with His Holiness and he agrees that something must be done about the situation but the Papal States are at a loss for both money and men to fight an insurrection on this scale. Rather, and this statement made my stomach drop, Innocent would cave to the protesters and allow for a free and compulsory national school system. I would have opposed this idea at once if the Pope hadn't asked me to help him with the wording of the proposal, an important responsibility that I immediately set to reflect on. Under our joint plan, just three years of education will be guaranteed, enough to learn how to read, write, and count but safely before the liberals can fill our children's minds with honeyed poisons.

    My announcement of these measures to the masses crowded in Piazza San Marco seems to have had the desired effect and most of them have retreated to their homes. We shall see how long this will last.

    Saturday 6th of March 1858

    After the initial hiccups, my supervision of Veneto has turned out to be a rather dull affair. It mainly involved the search for people to organize the various provinces into an apparatus that can be joined to the older elements of the Papal States. Specifically, the new lands were divided into the two newly instituted states of Friuli and Veneto with the respective local governors. Sedition has not disappeared from every home, but it is no longer at the state where it can threaten our safety.

    This stabilization is indicated by the arrival of another brother cardinal in the city. I never met Cardinal Cappellini previously, but I had heard of him enough to have my reservations about his plans and his supporters. However, in the past weeks, I've had to change my opinion of him entirely. He has hosted weekly balls with the nobility of the region, never failing to defer to my authority and having me guide the proceedings. Besides that, conversation with him is always stimulating as he transports the audience to his own world and leaves them lightheaded at the sheer aura of competence that he exudes.

    We have spoken privately at length and he has explained his travels across Europe with his aim of restoring the Papal finances together with his fears concerning the rise of Sardinia-Piedmont to the status of Great Power. Such wide-ranging preoccupations make my task seem irrelevant but he is always quick to remind me that, were it not for people who work locally, the whole edifice would fall apart.

    I must leave my record at this since I would not dare be late at tonight's engagement. Libero has invited several reticent locals and I am impatient to see him work his magic.

    Saturday 14th of August 1858

    I have had trouble with maintaining my focus in these recent weeks. My toil goes on little by little but I never see any progress that I would call significant. I am not sure if the distraction is a matter of discipline or simply the nature of my task but I am ready for a return to Rome or even Florence.

    Since Libero left the city with great excitement for some project of his, life in Venice has faded away and I do not have as many chances as in the latest months to enjoy my stay. My work has mostly consisted of routine organization of the new provinces: open an office here, fix an anomaly there. Not exactly the duties that one dreams of...

    Fortunately, last week provided a modicum of distraction with the return of liberal agitators and their clamors for independence. In recent months, I have begun to have a small appreciation for the economic side of liberalism but I still cannot bring myself to listen to their political mewling. In any case, I hoped for an exciting pursuit of rebel leaders or some similar intrigue but I was preempted by the Pope's action.

    I received a letter from Innocent himself where he congratulated me on my results in these years, he also announced that he deemed my task to be almost complete and encouraged me to prepare Veneto and Friuli for self-rule on par with the other Papal States. I had already prepared an address calling for unity so this news only served to seal the matter. Once more I made a rousing speech in Piazza San Marco and once more the protesters returned to their homes secure in the knowledge that all Italians will be treated equally under the law.

    And with that, my final chance at excitement died down without much fanfare. All I am left to do, as per Innocent's letter, is to find suitable local administrators to take over the government of the regions. Once that is done...who knows, I am not looking forward to seeing Edda back in Florence but it would be good to check in on my archbishopric. On the other hand, a return to Rome would give me a chance to meet Libero again and better acquaint myself with my brother cardinals.

    Time will tell, I suppose. But what is most important is that I just need to suffer a few more weeks of this drudgery before I can find what the future will send my way.
     
    Chapter XVI: The Ulcer Bleeds
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Amato Aloisi

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    Saturday 25th of October 1851

    I am glad to finally have the chance to view Corinth as a city and not so much as a fortress to capture. The wounds from my last visit have healed almost entirely and an air of normality has returned to the area. I was not too aggravated by my trip here, but it is nice to finally settle down somewhere after the recent years of near-constant travel. The governor's mansion is not as extravagant as certain villas back in Rome, but I am sure that it will begin to feel like home soon enough.

    The first thing I will have to attend to is the reason I was primarily sent here. Innocent is worried about some Greek resistance against our occupation and wants me to ensure that there is as little friction as possible between the locals and our new immigrants. I have been told that a certain professor of history in Kalamata, I believe his name is Grigorios Kanelotis, has called on his students and fellow citizens to resist our rule and refuse to work. Clearly, this cannot continue to be, but I don't want to make an example of this man. Martyrs are always dangerous, and I would prefer my hands to be free of blood. I have decided to pass an ordinance that will force all native teachers to have a Papal observer be present at each lesson with the authority to interrupt it in case of seditious behaviors. This is definitely not a permanent solution, but it will work to patch up relations until I can foster enough goodwill with the locals.

    I think this was enough work, to begin with. I want to take advantage of the good weather before winter sets in. Annibale and I will go for a walk and I am excited to find out more about the countryside here.

    Thursday 23rd of December 1852

    I was hoping to be able to celebrate the Nativity without troubles, but I am afraid that my wish will not be granted. That same Kanelotis who caused a ruckus last year has now returned to his dissident ways. He claims that it is an insult to the Greek people that Italians are placed in front of any Greeks for admission to higher learning. What he does not consider is that the Italian immigrants consistently achieve better results in these admission tests. Kanelotis has responded that this is only because the tests are executed in Italian or French, which the locals do not speak. But this is the common way in all of Europe, education is done in the government's language or in French for any foreigners. It is not our fault if they do not learn the proper idioms.

    Despite this, my assignment is to facilitate the transition into Roman administration, and I think that a refusal to listen to these requests would aggravate our new subjects beyond what is necessary. I suppose that we could expand the number of available places in the colleges so that the Greeks might have a possibility to enter the administration. One hopes that, once they are properly educated, they will come to accept that they are in a much better situation than under their Bavarian king.

    I begin to tire of the Peloponnese, these people never seem to be content with what they are given. Innocent did not give me a clear end for my task, but I trust that these new measures will make the natives more compliant in the future.

    Monday 7th of July 1855

    An interesting book has been published today. It displays a great knowledge of the subject matter and is impeccably written. Unfortunately, it treats the history of Greece, starting at the outbreak of the Trojan War. The work seemed interesting to me and I had the censors send me a copy so I could make up my opinion on it. The material relative to antiquity is truly astounding but the voice becomes problematic once the Ottoman dominion is considered. Here the author goes into a tirade against the foreign tyranny imposed upon the Greeks and continues with praise for the war of independence as the logical culmination of Greek culture. The narration then cuts off in 1836 and makes no mention of the war with the Papal States and the current incorporation of the Peloponnese. Despite all of these flaws, I was ready to approve this publication, with the obvious mitigation of rebellious undertones, but I had the foresight to look into the author and who should it be if not Professor Grigorios Kanelotis. I am irritated that the censorship board did not report this in the first place but that will be a conversation for another time. The revelation pushed me into an unpleasant corner since I cannot stop the publication of the book outright lest I sabotage the integration process but, if I just release it, every dissident will want to see what this figurehead is saying and add fuel to the fire that I am trying to stamp out. Thankfully, some of the elder censors recommended that we release the abridged version but make it so expensive that the middle class, who so rocked Europe a few years ago, will not be able to get their hands on it.

    Today was the first day of publication and it seems that our plan worked and very few sales were registered. I dearly hope that Kanelotis will take this as a sign that it is finally time for him to accept reality and stop clinging to long-dead fantasies.

    Wednesday 5th of October 1859

    I have decided to resign from my position and live out my retirement in Rome. I have sinned too much in my tenure and I only wish to return home and ask for forgiveness in my waning days. That damned Kanelotis drove me to this and I suppose this means that he has won. I thought I had been conciliatory enough and given the locals the space they needed to accept rule from Rome, but I have been proven wrong again and again. Kanelotis' attacks became more and more inflammatory and he had set himself at the head of a large movement of people whose sole aim is independence. I held out hope when Pope Innocent agreed to grant citizenship to children born in Greece where at least one parent is already a citizen, but this only served as a temporary respite.

    This last Sunday, the professor held his largest and most seditious rally yet. He claimed that I was purposefully oppressing the Greek people and it was time for the Great Powers of Europe to return the Peloponnese to Greece thereby erasing all of my efforts. This speech went too far, and I was forced to order his arrest and conviction of rebellion against the state. The sentence was carried out this morning in the main square of the city where the executioner had to be protected by a large force of gendarmes before the blade fell.

    Riots have followed and Annibale now clings to me like a scared puppy even though I am just as old and frail as he. So, I decided. I cannot live like this and I must retire, no longer a cardinal but simply an old man.

    I wish my successor well.




    Author’s note:

    Cardinal Aloisi publicly retired in January of 1860 and died peacefully two years later without much being made of the news by his contemporaries.

    He gained the scarlet at the very late age of seventy and is seen by most as an attempt by Urban IX to have a convenient short-lived scapegoat for the Greek War. Until now, rumors of his chances in the conclave of 1851 had been discounted as false but can be understood as the desire of more reactionary cardinals to have a transitional pope to fill the curia with a true conservative papabile.

    As can be imagined, his name is mostly known and reviled in the Peloponnese where he is both seen as a symbol of colonial oppression and stands on equal footing with Urban as the divider of Greece. This perception is often judged to be too harsh by scholars as, despite his crimes, all evidence points to Aloisi being a man thrust into a position he did not desire and was not qualified for rather than Urban’s secret double.
     
    Chapter XVII: Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors
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    From the personal diaries of Cardinal Libero Cappellini

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    Saturday 3rd December 1853

    Today was the worst day yet. The State had been hovering above debt for a few weeks but this morning the accounts turned red. To avoid complete bankruptcy, I have made a request to the French National Bank for a loan of over 600.000 scudi. This is barely enough money to keep us afloat for a few weeks so I will need to cut down on all non-essential government spending even if it means that the educational and military supplies be halved. In the last months, I was forced to increase tariffs to exorbitant levels, and even now I receive reports of artisans having to sell their shops and taking to begging in the streets for want of raw materials. The churches give out alms but every mouth fed brings us ten more that cry out for bread. We have no industries to employ these people so we are forced to watch them suffer. The small arms factory I built last year in Rome has done hardly anything to curb this wave and requires state support to keep employing the couple thousand souls that make a living there. I don't see any way out of this but I have to find one or at the very least find someone who can do the job better than I.

    Saturday 1st of September 1855

    My first ever trip to Paris seems to have been a success! We have finally managed to form a Latin Monetary Union where coins from Belgium, France, Sardinia-Piedmont, and the Papal States will be able to be freely exchanged for one another. Emperor Napoleon himself attended the preliminary meetings to discuss the details of such a system with myself and the other foreign ambassadors. It seems that this ill-timed war has brought our nations together as allies and our common goals require a strong interconnection to ensure our respective economies stay strong. This is a blessed relief for us as it will certainly increase the tax revenue while ensuring that we can keep the Austrians at bay and stop them from devastating the home provinces. I wrote as much Pope Innocent back in Rome and he assured me that this conflict will be the salvation of Italy by giving her back to the Italians. I still remain skeptical that the Papal States will be able to hold their own against the better-developed regions of Europe but that is certainly no reason to stop trying.

    This fear is what prompted me to modernize the state's monetary policy by getting rid of all the scudi,testoni,papetti, and quattrini and introducing the new dramme which, under the current accord, should be equivalent to francs and lire and be divided into one hundred grani. It took me a while to come up with a name I thought appropriate since so many of the good ones are already taken but, in the end, I landed on units of measurement. I doubted this naming at first but I've grown to appreciate how the word shows how much silver is in the coin and gives a gentle nod to our forcible fellows in Greece.

    The conference here in Paris started from solid bases since I had exchanged envoys and letters with the other finance ministers leaving only the exact value of the sister currencies had to be determined and, with some rather untactful prodding by Emperor Napoleon, was set to the franc's value of four and a half grams of silver.

    Despite the best intentions being professed, I did often feel that this friendly conference could be seen as an opportunity for France to choose its favorite Italian state. Upon multiple occasions, the conversation shifted to the economic capabilities and political ambitions of Sardinia-Piedmont and the Papal States where I mostly answered truthfully only omitting certain details to hide some of the more problematic situations. I first thought of exaggerating our capabilities but then I am unsure if France is looking for a strong ally to dominate the region or a malleable buffer to keep their hold on it. If Austria will be pushed out of the picture, then Italy is going to be divided between France's allies and the apathetic Two Sicilies. I must hope that Napoleon's ego will lead him to support Pope Innocent over the potentially dangerous Victor Emmanuel if the future of our Church is to be solid.

    All in all, it has been a fruitful period but I am exhausted and glad it's over. Now the sun has set and I fear that my fatigued mind won't be able to continue with words worth the candle so enough writing for today. I return to Rome soon and, God willing, my travels will be speedy.

    Sunday 10th of August 1856

    I'm quite happy that this Greek trip has not been in vain. I feared that the locals might not take well to their occupiers trying to change their way of life but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it would be best to start off in Nafplion where there is a sizeable Italian community of a few thousand and I repeated my approach from my winter in Rome. I organized a large public banquet in the main square and invited anyone to attend on the condition that they refrain from public rowdiness. I told those present, most of which were peasants (in contrast to the bankrupt Roman artisans), that a new world is coming. One where their earnings don't have to depend on the fickle whims of a good or bad crop but where the salary is provided regularly and without delay. I went on to describe the technical marvels that have been achieved and how each of them could contribute to making their community, and society as a whole, a richer and more prosperous place. I ended the speech by pointing out the local factory owners sitting next to me and promising that the production of glass would surely tie the Greek and Italian peoples into a tighter bond of friendship.

    I quickly regretted talking about tightness of bond but it seems that the quality of the refreshments provided and the length of the speech might have smoothed over any rough edges and thoughts about colonization.

    In the last days, I set to work in widely publicizing the new free schools that would teach any wannabe worker the basics of producing glass. The attendance started off as slightly disappointing with only a few Italian immigrants present, most with relatives in the factories of Rome. However, this trickle soon swelled to a stream when word got out that those trained immediately received jobs in the small factory and had it grow from a minor thirty-worker venture into an enterprise with several hundred employees. The fraction of Greeks present is still smaller than one fifth but the fact that any were there is still remarkable.

    For the first time in a long while, I have hope that this crisis might soon be over and our beloved country will be back to normal. It's either that or the excellent weather I've found so far. I just might decide to take the scenic route back home.

    Thursday 28th of January 1858

    Meetings, meetings, and more meetings. I had barely stepped off the boat to Venice when I was assaulted by all manner of dignitaries and prominent businessmen welcoming me, making requests, and inviting me to formal or informal events. I must admit that, in my first few days, I got lost in the whirlwind of parties and salons where conversation spaced from the possibilities of a united Italy to Sir Richard Owen's terrible lizards to the merits of the gardenesque style of planting. It is a blessed change from the rural nobility of the Peloponnese and the tight-laced Roman aristocracy where discussion was limited to practical matters or those of unbearable sophistry. I have also made the acquaintance of Cardinal Cangiano who has been sent by Innocent to organize the new provinces. He is still a member of the old school and has a rather limited mindset but I have noticed that he has become more amenable to my views with each passing occasion we have to meet. I hope that these occasions shall increase so that I might be able to make a friend of him and set him on the path of the modern developments of the Church.

    Despite the abundance of social events, I brought myself to the work that I am so well accustomed to. Unlike the early days, I no longer need to explain the benefits of machinery and industry. Most questions I receive hinge on the benefits for capitalist investment and if it's true that the government covers all potential losses of new industries. I don't need to think about the answers anymore, each question has its own response tucked away in my memory.

    Veneto has provided more satisfaction than any other province so far. The Peloponnese almost made me give up after my months of work turned up only ten eager investors but I chose to start again elsewhere. Rome restored some of my enthusiasm when a couple hundred aristocrats decided to do something productive with their wealth. But now, in Venice, I have been told that I have received over a thousand applications for investment aid. These people might be the ones who can take us out of this crisis and finally give me peace. However, until such a time, I am sure I will greatly enjoy the next social engagement they'll offer.

    Saturday 31st of July 1858

    I've done it! It's finally over! I've just informed the Pope that I've paid off the nine million dramme we owed the French government and the Papal States are now debt-free. I practically skipped back home and took a good long moment to appreciate the palazzo finally free of supplicants for the first time since I set foot in the place.

    I will sleep well tonight.

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    Tuesday 26th June 1860

    The last few months have truly been amazing. I've managed to retire back to my beloved country home and have spent most of my time tending to the garden and going on long walks in-between visits to family and friends. When I received a letter from the Pope, I feared that all this would disappear in the gaping maw of a new assignment but today managed to dissipate my fears. The letter had come with the instruction to await a driver that would take me to the meeting point and so I waited in front of the villa pacing back and forth for several hours. When the carriage arrived, I asked the driver if he could give me any information on my destination but he told me that he could not say. I sat in the back, all the while stewing in my anxiety, and did my best to distract myself with the scenery as we got closer to Rome. All of this mystery was finally revealed just as we arrived at the brand new rail station at the Baths of Diocletian.

    Upon exiting the carriage I was greeted by Innocent himself who explained that he had invited me to the grand inauguration of the first fully functional railroad in the Papal States which would connect Rome to Ostia like the little experimental one I had made more than ten years ago. My surprise mounted as he told me that I was the guest of honor since I had started this whole process. In spite of my protests, he presented me to the crowd of notables and praised my work in revitalizing the Papal economy and introducing the Papal States to the industrial age. I blushed furiously all the while and must have appeared camouflaged with my cardinal's scarlet but everyone was gracious enough not to point it out.

    The ceremony then slowly wound down into a private reception with the Pope and several other cardinals and dignitaries. Innocent and I conversed well into the evening and reminisced about years past and all that we had achieved. It had been quite a while since I'd managed to see him in person and, while his mind is as sharp as ever, I noticed that his movements had become slower and there was a certain aura of weakness about him. I fear for his health and I told him as much but he tried to reassure me that nothing was wrong. I am still skeptical.

    In any case, I have returned to my home after an excellent day and I can only hope that life continues this way. A few more years of wrapping up my past assignments and I will be able to retire to a life of peaceful leisure.