This chapter summarizes the findings of the work as a whole and suggests some of the more general implications of those findings: for reassessing the papacy’s identity as an oligarchic regime, for rethinking how political elites approach decision-making and manage risk, and for re-evaluating the efficiency of elective monarchy as a form of government. It reiterates that the papacy’s elective system created problems that were collective rather than merely individual. Moreover, the cardinals, collectively or individually, could not always solve either kind of problem to their own satisfaction. The chapter’s final contention is that constitutions, however fluid and dynamic, do matter. Historians should always invest further in studying them and their effects on the behaviour of those who take part in political life.
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