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Papal Conclave Trivia

August 16, 2011

One does not read much about this side of papal history everyday.  That is why the stories that are brought to life in Absolute Monarchs, A History Of The Papacy by Julius Norwich are so enlightening.  The epic nature of the book makes it impossible to capture in any meaningful way the depth and breadth of the work that Norwich was penned.  So I plan to offer here and there bits and pieces that showcase fun facts that might make a reader or two pick up this treasure of a read. 

At roughly 1316, two years and four months after the death of Clement V, the papacy was still vacant.  Cardinals met at Carpentras, France in a conclave.  It was there that a group of cardinals from southern France started an armed attack on Italian cardinals.  (Being led by the  Holy Spirit, I am sure.) The fighting spread beyond the conclave, and engulfed parts of the town.  As a result much of the town was set on fire.  Meanwhile a nephew of the deceased pope looted the papal treasury and ran off with the booty.

That must have been one heck of a papal conclave!

Finally, I am mighty pleased that one of this summer’s new releases is proving history still produces brisk book sales.

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