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Justice and Its Image: Political Propaganda and Judicial Reality in the Pontificate of Sixtus V

Irene Polverini Fosi
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring, 1993), pp. 75-95
DOI: 10.2307/2541799
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2541799
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Justice and Its Image: Political Propaganda and Judicial Reality in the Pontificate of Sixtus V
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Abstract

The pontificate of Sixtus V (1585-1590) has always been celebrated as a period crucial in the evolution of the papal monarchy. Central to Sixtus' campaign was the idea of justice. The pope first set about restoring order in Rome and in the state, and then he turned to financial reforms, to urban planning, and to the relief of swelling the poverty. In his time, a ubiquitous propaganda celebrated his efforts: painting, sculpture, encomiastic hagiography sang his praises. Alongside these apologies was a detractive literature that deplored Sixtus' absolutism and depicted him as a blood-thirsty autocrat. In fact, Sixtus' repression failed to squelch banditry; papal monarchy was only superficially reformed and deep contradictions and weakness remained.

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