Saturday, February 21, 2009

a general and immediate rise of the whole nation

From the Journals of Lord Byron
February 21, 1821.

As usual, rode — visited, &c. Business begins to thicken. The Pope has printed a declaration against the patriots, who, he says, meditate a rising. The consequence of all this will be, that, in a fortnight, the whole country will be up. The proclamation is not yet published, but printed, ready for distribution. * * sent me a copy privately — a sign that he does not know what to think. When he wants to be well with the patriots, he sends to me some civil message or other.

For my own part, it seems to me, that nothing but the most decided success of the Barbarians can prevent a general and immediate rise of the whole nation.

Notes to the text:

The Pope has printed a declaration against the patriots - The declaration appeared in September.

* * sent me a copy privately - This might have been Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, secretary of state to Pope Pius VII. He obtained independence for the Papal States from the allied powers at the fall of Napoleon and fiercely defended it thereafter. As defacto ruler of these states on behalf of the Pope, he effected government reforms including abolition of aristocratic privileges, enactment of a new code of laws, and improvement to the system of education. Antagonistic to the Carbonari, he was at least partly responsible for the Papal Bull that Byron mentions, but he also opposed the expansion of Austrian and other foreign influence in the Papal States. His opposition to both sides in the revolution of the Carbonari resulted in an uneasy neutrality. This may be the reason why he might send Byron a copy of the draft Bull and why Byron might say he was uncertain about it. He may have felt that the Bull would be counter productive, as Byron suggests, in stimulating a general rising ('the whole country will be up'). However, it's also likely that he did not wish the Austrians to crush the Carbonari if that meant they would then effectively take over the Papal States. The Pope had no army with which to oppose them.

{El Cardenal Ercole Consalvi (1757-1824), Mezzotinta de Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830),
source: El Instituto Napoleónico México-Francia}

Some sources:

Life of Lord Byron, With His Letters And Journals, Vol. 5, ed. by Thomas Moore.

The History of the Papacy in the XIXth Century By Fredrik Kristian Nielsen

The Catholic Encyclopedia By Charles George Herbermann

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