Here's what the Pratt's website says about the book:
For a decade in the 17th century, Olimpia Maidalchini, a woman born to a humble family, ran the Catholic church through her brother-in-law are reputed lover, Pope Innocent X. She made international policy, waged war, patronized Rome's greatest Baroque artists, and made herself rich with Vatican Gold.
Eleanor Herman is also the author of Sex with Kings and Sex with the Queen.
My notes on the talk are rough so please bear with me.
- the Papal States were a kingdom with the Pope as monarch, and they dealt with the same issues that other monarchies of the time faced
- the 1600 were a time of plague, corruption, great wealth, and great poverty
- She explained the origins of the "conclave" of Cardinals who decide on the next Pope. The Cardinals often dragged out the decision over many months, and in this case the other rulers got fed up. They decided to lock the Cardinals in, with very little food, until they finally decided. After 5 weeks there was still no decision, so the roof of the building was removed to allow the weather in. Needless to say, a decision was reached shortly thereafter.*
Eventually the brother-in-law became a candidate for the next pope. During the conclave it was common to pass messages to and from the Cardinals (unlike today, when it is completely secret). The second video discusses some of the correspondence between Olimpia and the Cardinals.
Sorry it cuts off abruptly at the end ... my camera battery was dying. The result of her efforts is that her brother-in-law was elected, and he became Pope Innocent X.
* I can't say for sure the this is the truth, but my mom (a strong Catholic) was with me and she says that she remembers hearing this story before.
** I was raised Catholic but I attend a Protestant church now. I still know far more about Catholic history than I do about the development of the Protestant churches though.
*** Most of what she presented as fact is backed up by historical documents, and she was careful to point out when there were stories that couldn't be proven either way. So I'm not saying everything she presented was the truth, but much of it was well-documented.
**** She mentioned this in response to this act of vandalism at the library earlier this month.
Has anyone read this book yet? I'd love to check out your review if you have one. If you haven't read it, what do you think about it? Do events like the vandalism make you more or less likely to read a book?