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Cardinal Bendinello Sauli and Church Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Italy.

Cardinal Bendinello Sauli and Church Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Italy. By Helen Hyde. Royal Historical Society Studies in History, New Series. Woodbridge, U.K.: Boydell, 2009. xvi + 203 pp. $95.00 cloth.

Bendinello Sauli (1481-1518) was the eldest son of an ambitious Genoese banking family whose rise and fall in the Curia highlight the linked politics of political and ecclesiastical patronage in Renaissance Italy. The Sauli worked assiduously from the mid-fifteenth century to raise their standing in local politics, adapting methods pioneered by the Medici a century before in Florence. Generous loans secured profitable papal contracts, and the convergence of family, city, and papal interests led Julius II to bring Bendinello Sauli into the Curia in 1503 and raise him to the Cardinalate in 1511. Sauli persuaded other younger cardinals to elect Giovanni de Medici as Leo X in 1513, winning him influence and further lucrative favors, and making his involvement in a 1517 plot to murder the pope perplexing. Imprisonment likely hastened his death a year later, but did not mar his family's rise to greater power in the revolution that reshaped Genoa in 1528.

Sauli's rapid rise and equally rapid fall make him a particularly good subject for a study of the dynamics of power, and Hyde offers a tight and well-researched study. Absent personal records, she depends on financial accounts, notarial sources, contemporary diaries, and studies of those whom Sauli patronized, including important humanists and the painter Raphael. She aims by such indirection to suggest unconvincingly that he was sympathetic to Church reform. That apart, her account is detailed, balanced, and judicious, and sticks very close to the sources, sometimes at the expense of narrative style and clarity.

doi: 10.1017/S0009640711000138

Nicholas Terpstra

University of Toronto

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Author:Terpstra, Nicholas
Publication:Church History
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2011
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