Ambrogio A. CaianiNov 17, 2021
To Kidnap a Pope
Napoleon and Pius VII
Yale University Press 2021
In the wake of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of France, and Pope Pius VII shared a common goal: to reconcile the Catholic church with the French state. But while they were able to work together initially, formalizing a Concordat in 1801, relations between them rapidly deteriorated. In 1809, Napoleon ordered the Pope’s arrest.
Dr. Ambrogio Caiani, Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Kent, in his book, To Kidnap a Pope: Napoleon and Pius VII (Yale University Press, 2021), provides a pioneering account of the tempestuous relationship between the emperor and his most unyielding opponent. Drawing on original source materials in the Vatican and other European archives, Dr. Caiani uncovers the nature of Catholic resistance against Napoleon’s empire; charts Napoleon’s approach to Papal power; and reveals how the Emperor attempted to subjugate the church to his vision of modernity. Gripping and vivid, this splendid book shows the struggle for supremacy between two great individuals—and sheds new light on the conflict that would shape relations between the Catholic church and the modern state for centuries to come.
Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.