Elites and Ecclesiastical Careers in Early Modern Sicily: Bishops, Abbots and Knights

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Abstract

The most recent historiography has confirmed the importance of ecclesiastical careers within the ranks of the Catholic Church (bishops and cardinals) as well as religious orders (abbots and priors) and military orders (primarily the Order of Malta) for early modern family strategies. They were one of the main paths followed by cadet members of the nobility to build, strengthen and even enable the survival of the social prestige and political influence of their families. The role of the clergy was in fact crucial in performing a valuable function of mediation, especially with regard to political power in order to achieve increasingly prestigious awards (titles, offices, prebends). The aim of this article is to explain the role played by the cadet members of the Sicilian aristocracy who, within the general context of increasing social mobility, followed distinguished ecclesiastical careers during the Habsburg rule. Some final remarks deal with how far the multiple membership of Sicilian ecclesiastics (family, Kingdom of Sicily, Spanish Monarchy, Roman Church), in particular the bishops, helped or hindered their duties as tridentine reformers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-655
Number of pages31
JournalREVUE D'HISTOIRE ECCLÉSIASTIQUE
Volume109
Publication statusPublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies

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