Description

    Pope Urban VIII Autograph Letter Signed "M[affeo] Card[inal] Barberini". One page, 8.25" x 11", Rome, 1608. The future pope writes this letter in Italian to Cosimo Baroncelli, who served as the secretary of Giovanni de' Medici in Barberini's birth city of Florence. By 1608, Maffeo Barberini (1568-1644) had been serving as cardinal for two years. Fifteen years later, he succeeded Pope Gregory XV to become Pope Urban VIII. As pope, he was active in church affairs and was the last pope to expand papal territory by force. He built and decorated extensively in Rome, confiscating massive bronze girders from the portico of the Pantheon, which led to the saying, "quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini [what the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did]." Despite an early friendship, Urban summoned Galileo to Rome in 1633 to condemn him for his support of the Copernican theory that placed the sun, rather than the earth, at the center of the universe. Later, after Galileo recanted, Urban freed him. By the end of his papacy, he had amassed a large debt and was rather unpopular with his followers. Another letter signed by Pope Urban VIII sold at Heritage Auction Galleries in 2008 for $15,535. The cardinal's bold ink has bloomed slightly on this document, though the text is legible and clear. Some paper is missing where the seal was originally broken. With folds, minor foxing, and browning. This rare piece of European and religious history is in very good condition.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
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