“Negozio del S.r Card. Pasman”. Péter Pázmány’s Imperial Embassage to Rome in 1632 (With Unpublished Vatican Documents)

tom. 7
Rotraud Becker – Péter Tusor

“Negozio del S.r Card. Pasman”. Péter Pázmány’s Imperial Embassage to Rome in 1632 (With Unpublished Vatican Documents) (CVH II/7), written and edited by ROTRAUD BECKER, PÉTER TUSOR, Budapest–Rome 2019. 482 p. + 3 suppl. (2x2 pictures, 4 facsimilia) Digital supplements: http://institutumfraknoi.hu/en/repositorium/pazman_rome_1632

The volume that was prepared in international cooperation redeems an old debt of international and Hungarian historiography. The tumultuous embassage of Péter Pázmány in 1632 was not only an important phase of Hungarian history, especially that of the history of church and diplomacy, but it was also a highlighted event of the history of the papacy and the Thirty Years’ War, whose outbreak was 400 years ago. Georg Lutz, who is an expert of this period, urged the thorough and modern elaboration of the embassage decades ago. The research has relied upon the documents of Pázmány’s embassage published in the 19th and 20th century (especially the documents written by Pázmány and partly the ones addressed to him); on the correspondence of the papal Secretariat of State and the nunciature of Vienna published by Rotraud Becker in 2013 (NBDIV/5; Nuntiatur des Ciriaco Rocci. Ausserordentliche Nuntiatur des Girolamo Grimaldi, 1631–1633); on the verbals of the Secretariat of State published in this volume (about the papal audiences, the negotiations of Pázmány with Secretary of State Azzolini); on the discorsos and on the supplemental documents exploited in the Primatial Archives of Esztergom. The volume is in English, Chapter I–II can also be read in Hungarian; the sources were written in Italian as well as in Latin, of which usage is helped by their abstracts written in English and Hungarian. The English parts were translated by Ágnes Gátas-Palotai; while Rotraud Becker’s chapter (Chapter I) written in German was translated by András Forgó into Hungarian.


I. Based on the correspondence of the papal Secretariat of State and the nunciature of Vienna.

1) Not only did Urban VIII and his surroundings find the Roman embassage of the archbishop of Esztergom “undesirable”, but explicitly as a threat. They regarded it as part of the Spanish conduct led by Cardinal Gaspare Borgia, Spanish envoy, against the seemingly neutral but Francophile papal policy. 2) As the Roman relations to the Habsburg courts had to remain correct, they did not pay much attention to the fact that there was a royal order behind Borgia and Pázmány’s conduct; they regarded them as personal enemies. 3) The Hungarian cardinal was secretly watched, his commission was made impossible by the Curia right from the beginning. They did not focus on the imperial requests and their dismissal, but on ceremonial problems, especially on the acknowledgement of the Hungarian cardinal’s title as an imperial legate. 4) The cornered Pázmány was accused of practicing pretence in the papal court and they created such negative atmosphere concerning Pázmány’s defensive letter, Intermittere non possum – whose contemporary copies can be found in every significant European manuscript collection – that he was compared to the hated Borgia and the Curia was considered the attacked party. 5) The conflict of the cardinalate and the legatine commission was mainly stressed in relation to Borgia, the Spanish envoy. Although the cardinals could continue doing the duty of an envoy in the papal court, the number of the appointment of the non-Italian cardinals (cardinali nazionali) significantly reduced after the “riot” of Borgia and Pázmány. 6) Based on the reports of the nuncios about the scandalous Pázmány-affair one can state that there the already weak confidence in the pope’s kindness and the Curia’s explanations has further fallen. As a consequence, the authority and influence of the nuncios of Vienna was also violated in the court of Vienna. 7) Vienna could not be convinced even by the zeal of the Curia; namely, it tried to spread the Roman version of the events by giving particular orders to the nunciature, according to which Pázmány’s improper behaviour was to be blamed for the Curia’s rightful accusations. It is contradicted not only by the cardinal’s reports but also by others’ accounts. 8) The archbishop of Esztergom could not be discredited and destabilised in the imperial court; moreover, it was being seriously considered to send him back to the Eternal City; though, the ardent opposition of the papal diplomacy hindered it in the end. 9) The diplomatic conflict between the Hungarian head of church and the pope created tension also in the relations of the Hungarian church and the Holy See of Rome for decades.

II. Based on the verbals of the Secretariat of State that are being published and on the analyses

While reading the sources published in this volume, the historical atmosphere comes to life. The papal audiences given during the Hungarian cardinal’s embassage and the negotiations with Azzolini could be experienced in real time even at the distance of 400 years. Thanks to the sources of the Vatican, special prospects of the historical recognition have opened up to the readers.
1) Pázmány’s “change of loyalty” can be detected. In his summarising report of late May, Péter Pázmány finally shared the details of the papal audience of 6 April, 1632 with the imperial Secret Council, despite Urban VIII’s canonical ban and his former vow. The primate of Hungary had to choose between his loyalty as a cardinal and as a member of the Secret Council. The choice was made after a long inner and external struggle only at the very end of his embassage in Rome, in the second half of May 1632. From this time on the archbishop of Esztergom became the rigorous enemy of the Barberini-House, one of the “buzzards” of the court of Vienna in the Italian and papal policy. Not only did the Barberinis regard him as an enemy, but the feeling was mutual. 2) From the verbals of the negotiations with Secretary of State Azzolini it is clear that Pázmány himself suggested and requested many times that they should grant financial aid sooner, in one lamp sum, from the instalments of the Italian tithes. The finally granted 130,000 imperial talers was the biggest lamp sum ever that an imperial envoy could obtain from Urban VIII – despite Roman political interests – during the Thirty Years’ War for the purposes of the Catholic League. 3) An important result of our verbal-analysis is that we could learn that, although being in a more disadvantageous tactical situation, the Hungarian prelate – who was actually choleric – also masterly employed the tools of diplomatic pretence like that of the curial prelates. However, it should be noted that the tone and content of his reports written to Vienna and of his negotiations only differed a couple of weeks later, while it can be detected in the correspondence of the Secretariat of State right from the beginning. 4) For the Hungarian as well as international historiography, the purpura is a crucial element of Pázmány’s historical identity. He himself did not attribute much significance to his title of cardinal (in his opinion “his red hat served nothing else but to hang it above his grave”), which offers an insight into his personality and his monastic soul. 5) It is important for the result of the research that the Congregazione dello Stato occurs in the files; moreover, one can study the daily routine of the papal decision making and the preparatory work of the Secretariat of State. Lorenzo Azzolini was the actual head of the papal foreign policy; he was still an official, though, his activity and influence was an important step towards the establishment of the cardinal secretary of state’s position. 6) The Hungarian primate’s conduct in Rome exceeded the relations of the emperor and the pope by far and functioned on the highest level of European diplomacy. Not only did he secretly negotiate with Borgia, but the Spanish and the Austrian-Habsburg envoy mutually acted in front of the Roman diplomacy. Instead of the “Borgia-crisis”, one can and should speak about the “Borgia-Pázmány-crisis” in relation to the most dramatic events of the Roman diplomacy during the Thirty Years’ War. 7)
Pázmány’s hint given to Azzolini on 12 April, namely that he would move to Rome for several years to serve the Church, shows that the plan of his permanent Roman imperial embassage and his cardinal protectorate did not occur during his mission in 1632, as it has been believed, but on the contrary: his commission was the first (and last) episode of a long-established plan of a Roman diplomatic role. 8) During the embassage, the Hungarian primate’s attempt to involve the pope in an anti-Swedish league was a complete and clear failure. However, Urban VIII’s Francophile policy should not solely be blamed for this fiasco and should not only be analysed in the context of Rome and Vienna’s relations. The text that Pázmány brought to Rome was unacceptable not only for the papal court but also for the court of Madrid due to its phrases on the Low Countries. Therefore, the archbishop of Esztergom had to represent such a program that hadn’t been supported by the Spanish monarchy in its written form. The league between the Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs was finally realized in 1634. 9) The last and most sensational result of our research: Pázmány intended to publish the most important documents of his embassage in Rome. Pázmány crossed out the addresses and cadences and added titles, sometimes even comments. A fair copy was also made of the labelled text-versions. Pázmány edited the most important documents of his embassage; he compiled the documents that depicted the empire’s situation the best, and then he contrasted them with the documents of the abortive and diversionary debate over his title as a legate. Finally, the manuscript was not edited and was placed in the primatial archives. Such an antipapal publication would not have achieved its goal that the archbishop of Esztergom understood after all.

The “Pázmány-Borgia-affair” is a turning point in the history of the papacy. The termination of the papacy’s role among the great powers sealed in the Peace of Westphalia can be dated back to this time.

Buzás Enikő
Alexander Koller
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