Book Series Europa Sacra, vol. 29

Brigide Schwarz

Careers and Opportunities at the Roman Curia, 1300–1500

A Socio-Economic History of Papal Administration

Wolfgang Mueller (ed)

  • Pages: 337 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:9 b/w, 8 tables b/w., 1 maps b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59538-2
  • Hardback
  • Available

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59539-9
  • E-book
  • Forthcoming

Explores administration and career building at the late medieval and Renaissance papal court.


Born in 1940, Brigide Schwarz was Ordinary Professor of Medieval History at the Technical University of Hanover (Germany) from 1979 to 1998. Until her death in 2019, she was the leading expert in a field that has no real equivalent in Anglophone scholarship, perhaps best defined as the Socio-Economic History of the Late Medieval Papal Court (or Curia).


Brigide Schwarz (1940–2019), a leading German historian of the Renaissance papacy, is presented here for the first time in a dossier of ten previously untranslated scholarly studies.

The volume brings the mechanisms of late medieval career building back to life. Success among churchmen was measured in access to ever more lucrative ecclesiastical endowments (or benefices). As the fifteenth century progressed, their treatment assumed highly monetized and abstract dimensions. Guided by Dr Schwarz, economic historians can discern many transactions that foreshadow the asset management of present-day Wall Street.

From the 1400s, administrative positions at the papal court (or Curia) were increasingly auctioned off. This created a marketplace for bidders expecting returns by way of ‘creative’ fee regulations or through the cornering of services in monopolies.

Only recently, scholarship has begun to question older depictions of the late medieval Church as one of decay and moral corruption. Dr Schwarz points to the ‘modernity’ of the fiscal arrangements which nation states like France soon copied as an efficient model of public financing.


Editor’s Introduction

Part I – Ecclesiastical Benefices

Chapter 1. The Roman Curia and the Late Medieval Benefice Market

Chapter 2. Patronage and Clientele in the Late Medieval Church. The Example of Nicholas of Cusa

Chapter 3. A ‘Rope Team’ of Clerics from Hanover in the Late Middle Ages

Chapter 4. On Nanker, Bishop of Kraków (1320-1326) and Wrocław (1326-1341)

Chapter 5. The Vatican Archives and Their Uses for Regional Historians. The Example of Late Medieval Saxony

Part II – Curial Offices

Chapter 6. The Venality of Offices. An Institution from the Period of Absolutism and its Medieval Roots

Chapter 7. The Roman Curia from the Great Schism to the Reform Councils (1378-1447)

Chapter 8. On Behalf of the Pope. The Papal cursores from 1200 to about 1470

Chapter 9. Leon Battista Alberti’s Career in the Apostolic Chancery

Chapter 10. Position and Rank of the Vice-Chancellor at the Curia