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The Failure Of A Legation

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Chapter Summary

Cardinal Giovanni Gaetano Orsini took his time getting back to Avignon after his recall in August 1334; it is hard to imagine that he was looking forward to the pope’s promised face-to-face discussion. Scholars have tended to treat the failure of John XXII’s Italian legations as a part of the collapse of his Franco-Angevin vision for the reordering of Western Christendom. Orsini’s legation covered about 50,000 square kilometers, or just over one-sixth of modern Italy. Early in his legation, he had to contend simultaneously with the essentially unrelated problems of Castruccio’s ambitions in Tuscany and the pro-imperial revolution in Rome. In many respects the biggest problems of Orsini’s legation were rooted in the legate’s Roman background. Orsini’s mission demonstrated clearly that there were alternatives to the Avignon papacy’s heavy dependence on French and Angevin agents, though these too entailed their own set of problems and risks.

Keywords: Cardinal Giovanni Gaetano Orsini; John XXII; legation; Rome



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