By Mike Bennighof, PhD
While Pius XII did not wish to involve German Catholics
in a “conflict of conscience” over Adolf Hitler’s
policies, previous popes had shown much greater physical and
moral courage. Pius VII, pope during Napoleon Bonaparte’s
reign as Emperor of the French, developed into a staunch foe
of the Corsican.
Pius VII, born Luigi Barnaba Chiaramonte, became pope in
1800 after a lengthy conclave held in Venice rather than French-occupied
Rome, from which he emerged as the compromise candidate. Austrian
interests held sway at the conclave, and the new pope came
to Rome in an Austrian warship.
Despite the anti-French nature of his election, Pius VII attempted
to work with Napoleon, then holding the office of First Consul.
After some tense negotiations, the two arrived at a concordat to govern church-state relations
in France. Napoleon threw a
temper tantrum when handed the first agreement reached between
French and papal diplomats, and hurled the document into a
fireplace. Calming himself, he then had dinner with Pius’
secretary of state, Ercole Consalvi, worked through the night
with him, and by the morning a pact acceptable to both sides
had been reached.
Within a year, Napoleon had begun to step on the papal slippers,
issuing the Organic Acts that unilaterally altered the concordat.
And in 1801 and 1802, Pius VII disputed the secular takeover
of the ecclesiastical states of Germany (the independent bishoprics)
by Napoleon’s German puppets. This came to a humiliating
end in 1803 when the French ruled in favor of the temporal
Pius VII, enemy of Napoleon.
When Napoleon declared himself Emperor of the French in 1804,
he summoned Pius to crown him. Pius agreed to do so, but at
the penultimate moment, Napoleon took the crown from the pope
and placed it on his own head. The symbolic relegation of
pope from benefactor to servant was not missed by many.
Thereafter, Pius VII’s opposition to Napoleon steadily
grew. The pontiff refused to annul the marriage of Napoleon
to Josephine as well as that of his brother Jerome to an American shipowner’s
daughter. In February 1808, French troops occupied Rome. In
May 1809, Napoleon formally annexed the Papal States to France.
Pius responded by excommunicating the emperor and all French
troops within Papal territory.
Though the French revolutionaries had enthusiastically adopted
atheism, Catholicism remained, as the Concordat had it, “the
majority religion of Frenchmen.” Excommunication deeply
undermined imperial authority, and Napoleon demanded that
it be rescinded. Pius refused.
The pope’s divisions.
On the night of 5 July 1809, French soldiers broke into
the Quirinal Palace and dragged the pope off to France. The
pontiff spent the next five years in French captivity, at
times spitting defiance at Napoleon, at others signing humiliating agreements while under the influence
of fever and insomnia, only
to repudiate them later. In 1814 the French returned him to Rome,
and for the remaining nine years of his reign Pius became
a steadfast reactionary.
Soldier Emperor: Austrian Escape Variant
Our game Soldier
Emperor covers much of this time-frame, but its campaign
scenario opens in 1803, after the Concordat has been signed.
There are special rules encouraging the Austrian and Spanish
players to protect the Papal States from the French. But there’s
always room for more!
As a variation, if the French player conquers the Papal States,
the Austrian player rolls one die to determine the fate of
Pius VII. On a result of 1 through 4, he falls into French
captivity and there is no effect on play. On a result of 5
or 6, he escapes into Austrian lands. Afterwards, the Austrian
player (only) may use the “Act of God” card to
issue a condemnation of Napoleon. Each time Napoleon is condemned,
the French player immediately loses 10 money and 5 manpower.
Avoid the Pope's wrath - order Soldier Emperor today!
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.