College of Cardinals: Copy Letters

Scope and Content

'Lettere, proposte e risposte del Sacro Collegio a diversi'. Copies of official letters to and from cardinals during vacancies in the Papacy and at other times, 1540-1669. The correspondents include Emperors Charles, Rudolph, Ferdinand and Leopold; the Kings of France, Spain, Portugal, Poland and Zangara; Viceroys of Naples; nuncios in various states and cities; Cardinals Giguri, Sforza, Boncampagni, Barberino, De Treyo, Aldobrandino, Richelieu, Maurice of Savoy, Filamarino, Maidalchini, Mancini, Antonio Barberini, De Retz, D'Este and Astalli; and archbishops, bishops and cities.

On folios 13-26 is an index in Italian, with brief subject descriptions of letters. The volume bears the classmark 'MSS. Di Carte. 88', and the stamp 'Ex MSS Xav. Card. Gentili'.

Administrative / Biographical History

The cardinals are by tradition the successors to the original apostles of Christ. The College of Cardinals emerged during the early Middle Ages from the bishops, deacons and priests of Rome and the surrounding area, who assisted the pope in his liturgical tasks. As the papal monarchy developed and struggled with secular rulers during the Middle Ages, the importance of the cardinals increased. They served as counsellors, legates and, with the growth of the papal bureaucracy, officials of curials departments. The College grew in size and came to include members from other parts of Europe. By the High Middle Ages the cardinals had developed into a type of cabinet of the Church. Since 1059 the cardinals have had sole responsibity for electing the pope, meeting in a conclave at the death of the incumbent to elect his successor.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1991.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Summary Catalogue.