The popes of the 17th century faced one of the worst crises since the Great Schism divided the church between East and West. The Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War effectively removed a significant portion of Europe from the influence of the pope. With the European states less interested in defending the church and more interested in their own affairs, the political power of the papacy began to decline. Following these events the popes sought a variety of ways to consolidate their political power. The popes utilized obelisks and dynastic palaces to connect themselves with the ancient Romans and contemporary European rulers to emphasize their power.
I will focus on the Fountain of the Four Rivers and its location, the Palazzo Pamphili, and how they were used by Pope Innocent X during his reign to consolidate his authority as pope. Innocent X commissioned a fountain to display the obelisk he was going to erect in front of his family palace in Piazza Navona. By examining connections between the obelisk, the fountain, the piazza, and the palazzo I hope to discover how Innocent X used all these components in his campaign to revitalize the papacy during his reign. I am paying special attention to the influence of Athanasius Kircher upon the pope’s campaign as Kircher provided translations for the hieroglyphics inscribed on the obelisk.
Nathan Shepard, ’09 St. Louis, MO
Majors: History, Art
Sponsor: Christina McOmber