Albrecht Classen

title.none: Petersohn, Kaiserlicher Gesandter und Kurienbischof (Albrecht Classen )

identifier.other: baj9928.0509.018 05.09.18

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Albrecht Classen , University of Arizona,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Petersohn, Jurgen. Kaiserlicher Gesandter und Kurienbischof: Andreas Jamometic am Hof Papst Sixtus IV (1478-1481). Series: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Studien und Texte vol. 35. Hanover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung Verlag, 2004. Pp. xviii, 184. 36.25 3-7752-5735-7. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.09.18

Petersohn, Jurgen. Kaiserlicher Gesandter und Kurienbischof: Andreas Jamometic am Hof Papst Sixtus IV (1478-1481). Series: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Studien und Texte vol. 35. Hanover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung Verlag, 2004. Pp. xviii, 184. 36.25 3-7752-5735-7. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Albrecht Classen
University of Arizona

Historical research can only progress if we take a very close look at the sources and analyze them according to our best understanding and in light of well-conceived theoretical approaches. In other words, source studies are the basic building blocks for comprehensive overviews and global interpretations. Jürgen Petersohn offers such a building block with his careful examination of many heretofore unknown historical sources concerning the life of the Croatian Archbishop Andreas Jamometic (accent on the 'c' left out here). He served as Imperial ambassador at the papal court of Sixtus IV and enjoyed considerable influence in Rome, especially because his overlord, the German Emperor Frederick III, supported him in many respects. Nevertheless, his career ended in a fiasco, and at the end he took his own life in 1484 while sitting in a Swiss prison. Nevertheless, Jamometic left an impact on the imperial politics, perhaps more than he had imagined himself. As Petersohn suggests, the fact by itself that the Emperor did not extradite him to the Holy Sea implies a major step in Rome's loss of power. Finally, Martin Luther was never fully prosecuted because Emperor Charles V disregarded him ultimately and allowed Luther's territorial duke, Frederick of Saxony, to provide him with his personal protection. By contrast, Emperor Sigismund had not yet cared at all about his own pledge to John Hus to guarantee his free return to Prague and instead had him burned at the stake in 1415.

Petersohn reexamines the case of Jamometic because older scholarship had been unaware of numerous important documents that shed significant light on the archbishop's life, meaning that key aspects in Jamometic's life were either misunderstood or did not even catch scholars' attention. Moreover, the author focuses on this unusual man because his brief role at the Holy Sea powerfully illustrates the global politics involving the German Empire, France, England, the various Italian states, and the Ottoman Empire. Finally, the study of Jamometic provides excellent insights into the history of late-medieval diplomatic relations and informs us about early attempts to bring about some reformation of the politics at the Vatican and elsewhere. In other words, Petersohn's investigation proves to be a worthwhile case study of the inner workings of Vatican, imperial, and Italian politics.

At first the author outlines Jamometic's background, education, and career within the Church. But already in 1477 Jamometic stayed at Frederick III's court and soon assumed the post of the emperor's ambassador at the Holy Sea. Petersohn clearly defines the limitations of our current knowledge and sensitively discusses older claims regarding his biography, although many newly discovered documents allow to fill in significant gaps and to reject spurious speculations from the past. We can be certain that Jamometic stayed in Rome from 1478 until 1481 and played a major role in the interaction between Sixtus IV and Frederick III, gaining the respect of both men. His diplomatic skills particularly surfaced during the so-called Pazzi crisis in 1478/1479 when King Louis XI of France, Florence, Genoa, and other Italian powers were up at arms with each other, beginning with a riotous attempt by the Florence banking house Pazzi in 1478 to overthrow the Medici. Jamometic, as the German emperor's representative, successfully defended the Pope's position and outmaneuvered the French diplomats, which gained him Frederick's and Sixtus's highest respect. But this might also have been the cause of his ultimate downfall, although Jamometic was increasingly involved in the papal curia as a curial bishop.

This short period in the archbishop's life at the Holy Sea is the topic of the second chapter. Petersohn goes into many different details, including financial aspects and judicial decisions by Jamometic. However, the problems for the latter began during those years as well because he was opposed to the pope's intensive building program and defended the German Hospital (Inn) of S. Maria dell' Anima, of which he was a member, against the papal encroachments. The crisis broke out soon enough. In the third chapter the author examines the breakdown in the relationship between Jamometic and Sixtus IV, who had the former apprehended and thrown into prison on June 14, 1481. This led to severe political tensions with Frederick III, and the Pope let the archbishop free again on September 10, 1481. Apparently he had not really wanted to punish him; instead he had only intended to admonish him to change his behavior and to tone down his criticism against the Holy Sea. The crux of the matter was, as Petersohn emphasizes, that Jamometic had increasingly voiced severe complaints about the Pope, both in his presence and in public, though without any success. For a while things turned smooth again, and Sixtus IV even granted Jamometic a meeting at which the latter fully submitted under the Pope and was well-received and recognized in his previous position as archbishop.

Finally, Jamometic left Rome and, while in Basel, called for a general synod of the entire Christendom to judge Pope Sixtus IV. He claimed to be a cardinal, though judicially he was not entitled to this, probably because the pope had made numerous promises in this regard without ever fully coming through with them. Obviously, as Petersohn concludes, once the French king had lost his influence at the Holy Sea and could no longer threaten the pope through his military and political manipulations, Sixtus no longer needed Jamometic and soon felt his sharp criticism against his own politics and papal government as a nuisance.

The author limits his investigations to this specific period in Jamometic's life, and only touches upon the latter's efforts to organize the synod in Basel, his imprisonment, and ultimate suicide. Of course, those events would have really interested the general reader, especially because Jamometic surfaces, in a certain way, almost as a forerunner of subsequent reformers, if not even of Martin Luther. However, Petersohn's intentions are to bring to light numerous unknown historical documents that are important for the proper analysis of this remarkable personality.

Contrary to older scholarship, the author can now argue that Jamometic did not begin with his criticism of the pope because Sixtus refused to give him the rank of a cardinal. Instead, the archbishop was so assured of his quasi status as a cardinal and so certain of his public recognition that he dared to cross a critical barrier and to put the pope on trial. In this he failed utterly, yet his efforts and the emperor's defense of his former diplomat suggest the degree to which the Holy Sea lost its influence on the political arena, especially in Germany. This study concludes with the edition of a number of important documents which Petersohn had discovered and which allowed him to offer this new interpretation of Jamometic's life, and with an index of places and people.

As impressive and praiseworthy as this monograph proves to be, it is written in a highly convoluted, sometimes even extremely complex sentence structure that makes it rather difficult to read, even for a native German. It would also have been helpful if Jamometic's biography was better contextualized so that the general reader would grasp more easily the larger issues at stake both in Germany and at the Holy Sea, in France and in the Italian republics. But aside from these technical shortcomings, Petersohn has convincingly demonstrated that it is always worthwhile, if not necessary, to return to the original sources and to reexamine traditional judgments about past events. Even seemingly small figures such as this Croatian archbishop can serve well to illustrate larger issues at stake.