Breve trattato della corte et officii di Roma del Sommo Pontefice et Sacro Collegio de Cardinali.
(Undated, but early 1620s).
Folio. Manuscript. 77pp, written on both sides of 38 leaves and on the recto of one further leaf. Marbled boards.
An Italian manuscript of the early 1620s describing the administrative structure of the papal court and the dress and protocol to be observed by members of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Internal evidence shows that it was written during the pontificate of Pope Gregory XV (1621-1623), as he is the latest Pope named in the text, while other passages show that his immediate successor, Cardinal Barberini (Pope Urban VIII), was still a Cardinal when the text was compiled. What is interesting is that although the manuscript’s as yet unidentified author, of Sienese origin (there is a reference on p.31 to “la patria mia Siena”), refers only perfunctorily to recent Popes, he consistently writes of Pope Clement VIII (1596-1605) as being of “happy memory” and mentions various specific events which took place at that period, including that Pope’s funeral ceremonies and the conclave which elected his short-lived successor Pope Leo XI. It appears from one of these passages that this is because he had been in the service of Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini (Cardinal S.Giorgio), one of the two Cardinal Nephews who at that time conducted day-to-day business for their uncle Pope Clement, and one may conclude that the author was well qualified to describe the complicated administrative hierarchy of the papal court and the still more complex regulations governing the public behaviour of the College of Cardinals. The manuscript is written in Italian in an early seventeenth-century hand ; it is a fair copy, with hardly any additions or deletions, so is not necessarily in the author’s own hand, but it is probably more or less contemporary with any working copy on which it was based, as it would have necessarily have needed updating at any time after the death of Pope Gregory XV.