The Office of Ceremonies and Advancement in Curial Rome, 1466–1528


This cultural and institutional history explores the careers of men who served in Rome’s Office of Ceremonies during the papal court’s growth period (c.1466–1528), in order to understand how the smallest papal college stands as a model of early modern curial advancement. The experiences and textual contributions of three ceremonialists, Agostino Patrizi, Johann Burchard, and Paris de’ Grassi, show diverse strategies and origins, but similar concerns and achievements. In a period of heightened competition and increasing pressure for regularization and reform, the Office’s professionalization and their combined office-holding, networks, and textual production, reveal how early modern curialists got ahead. This study shows the complexity of successful advancement strategies that were cultivated over decades and stretched far beyond papal support.

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Jennifer Mara DeSilva, Ph.D. (2007, University of Toronto) is Associate Professor of History at Ball State University. She has published a range of articles on early modern Europe and has edited several collections, including The Borgia Family: Rumor and Representation (Routledge, 2019).
List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations
List of Pontificates, 1420–1605
A Note on Names

 1 The Papal Court: Both Foreign and Familiar
 2 Tracing Advancement in the Office of Ceremonies
 3 The Development of Masters of Ceremonies and Politica Festiva
 4 Onwards

1 The Curia and the Office of Ceremonies
 1 Historiographical Traces
 2 Physical Traces

2 The Development of the Office of Ceremonies
 1 The Work and Structure of the Office of Ceremonies before 1466
 2 The Work and Structure of the Office of Ceremonies after 1466
 3 The Economics of Office-Holding
 4 Provision to Office: It’s Who You Know
 5 Professionalizing by Decree: Pastoralis officii (1513) and Santi Celso and Giuliano

3 The Office-Holders: Origins and Strategies
 1 Agostino Patrizi, 1466–1488
 2 Johann Burchard, 1483–†1506
 3 Paris de’ Grassi, 1504–†1528
 4 Conclusion

4 The Office-Holder’s Great Goal: A Bishopric
 1 Papal Patronage
 2 Agostino Patrizi, Bishop of Pienza and Montalcino (1484–†1495)
 3 Johann Burchard, Bishop of Orte and Civita Castellana (1503–†1506)
 4 Paris de’ Grassi, Bishop of Pesaro (1513–†1528)
 5 Conclusion

5 Tools of the Profession: Ceremonial Diaries and Guides
 1 The Diaries as Signs of Professionalization
 2 The Diaries as Commonplace Books
 3 Where Did All the Diaries Go?
 4 Diaries before 1483: Lost or Fragmentary
 5 Codifying Practice: Liber Pontificalis (1485) and Caeremoniale Romanum (1488)
 6 Johann Burchard’s Liber Notarum
 7 Paris de’ Grassi: Continuing the Tradition
 8 Diaries after 1521: Continuity and Curation
 9 Conclusion

6 Curial Authors
 1 Agostino Patrizi: Humanist and Ceremonialist
 2 Johann Burchard: Collaborator and Benchmark
 3 Paris de’ Grassi: Advocate and Revisionary
 4 Conclusion

7 Clerical Ambition in the Papal Chapel
 1 Preaching as a Part of Career Advancement
 2 Sermons in the Papal Chapel
 3 Preachers as Curialists
 4 Conclusion

Early modern historians, art historians, and musicologists will find this collection useful as its chapters purposefully consider the important physical, and shared cultural and intellectual worlds in which curialists worked. Keywords: Agostino Patrizi, Johann Burchard, Paris de’ Grassi, Curia, Papacy, early modern Italy, papal states, patronage, office-holding, episcopacy, diaries, ritual, pope, Roman Catholic Church.
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