To Kidnap a Pope: Napoleon and Pius VII

Author(s) : CAIANI Ambrogio A.
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To Kidnap a Pope: Napoleon and Pius VII

In the wake of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of France, and Pope Pius VII shared a common goal: to reconcile the church with the state. But while they were able to work together initially, formalizing an agreement in 1801, relations between them rapidly deteriorated. In 1809, Napoleon ordered the Pope’s arrest.

Ambrogio Caiani provides a pioneering account of the tempestuous relationship between the emperor and his most unyielding opponent. Drawing on original findings in the Vatican and other European archives, Caiani uncovers the nature of Catholic resistance against Napoleon’s empire; charts Napoleon’s approach to Papal power; and reveals how the Emperor attempted to subjugate the church to his vision of modernity. Gripping and vivid, this book shows the struggle for supremacy between two great individuals—and sheds new light on the conflict that would shape relations between the Catholic church and the modern state for centuries to come.

Ambrogio A. Caiani is senior lecturer in modern European history at the University of Kent. He is the author of Louis XVI and the French Revolution 1789-1792.

Previews of some excerpts available here


New York Journal of Books, by Francis P. Sempa

The Church Times by Alexander Faludy

“In gripping, vivid prose, Caiani brings to life the struggle for power that would shape modern Europe. It all makes for a historical read which is both original and enjoyable.”—Antonia Fraser, author of Marie Antoinette

“Both an exciting narrative and a fine work of scholarship, shedding new light on Napoleonic history and that of the modern Catholic Church.”—Munro Price, Literary Review

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