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Papal Kin: Politics, Patronage, and Social Mobility

Posted By RSA, Thursday, April 6, 2017

“Papal Kin: Politics, Patronage, and Social Mobility”
Call For Papers – Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting 2018
New Orleans, LA, USA
22–24 March 2018

A central paradox of the early modern papacy was the expectation that on his elevation the pope abandoned ties to his natal kin, yet also would incorporate many relatives into his administration. This paradox underpinned much of the criticism of the early modern papacy and to modern society has become one of its most recognizable characteristics. This series of panels explores the mechanisms by which papal kin assisted or benefited from their relative’s office and hopes to sponsor comparative discussions about the strategies and experiences of papal kin.

This Call For Papers is open to scholarly research focusing on any of the many aspects of how the early modern papacy incorporated papal natal or adopted kin into administrative, patronage, artistic or social circles. Presentations could focus on the following aspects of this practice across the early modern world from 1400-1700 CE:

  • How did co-operative kinship networks function?
  • Cardinal-nephews and/or the emergence of the office of secretary of state
  • Negotiating parentado and marital alliances for papal kin
  • The role of female relatives, both natal and marital kin
  • Patronage dynamics as an expression of loyalty
  • The roles of lay versus clerical kin
  • Public versus private relationships
  • The visualization of kinship ties in art, architecture, literature, and ritual
  • Nepotism and its critics

Please send a half-page curriculum vitae, a title and a 250-word abstract of the proposed presentation to Jennifer Mara DeSilva ( In addition, please detail any A/V requirements that you might have. All presenters must become members of the Renaissance Society of America, be committed to attending the conference in New Orleans, and make their own travel arrangements. For more information about the RSA, please see the conference website.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31 May 2017.

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