A pope’s legitimacy—and the authority of papal officials—derived from his election. But the election process itself generated practical, logistical, legal, and political problems which all parties with a stake in the election’s outcome had to negotiate. The chapter lays out the book’s overall contention, namely that the papal office’s elective nature was as important in shaping papal history in the early modern period as the pope’s twin identities of temporal prince and universal pastor. It seeks to introduce the unique issues and complications of papal elections and the inherent difficulties that new popes faced in establishing themselves after an election. It also starts a discussion of decision-making within a political elite, in this case the one which occupied the highest levels of the Counter-Reformation Catholic Church.
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