National and Private Ambitions in the Patronage of French Cardinals at the Papal Court (Fifteenth to Sixteenth centuries)
Bardati, F., « National and Private Ambitions in the Patronage of French Cardinals at the Papal Court (Fifteenth to Sixteenth centuries) ». Royal Studies Journal, 4(2), 2017, p. 38–63
Few French cardinals left important traces in the form of architectural patronage in Rome during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a period characterised by the alternation of times of strong tension between the French kings and the Papacy, and phases of political harmony. French cardinals’ relations with Rome reflected such a changeable contingent political situation : their position was extremely delicate because they owed obedience to the pope, as princes of the church, and to their king, as French nobles and bishops. Generally, their engagement was projected more towards France, typically in the areas of family influence, than towards Rome. Nevertheless, some French cardinals, such as Guillaume d’Estouteville, Jean Jouffroy, Jean de Bilhères, and Jean Du Bellay, were well-established in Rome, participating in cultural life and artistic production. Analysing their architectural patronage helps to evaluate if they were agents of the King of France aiming to promote, in part by supporting art and architecture, royal policy at the papal court, or if they were driven by personal ambitions. Comparing these men with the patronage of Thomas Leroy—not a cardinal, but a Breton-prelate established in Rome where he undertook a brilliant career in the Curia—permits us to place the conduct of cardinals in a more general context, and to verify if it was different from that of other French resident prelates.