Giovanni Batista Rinuccini

Life
?1592-1653; b. Rome; ed. by Jesuits and at Univ. of Bologna, then Perugia and Pisa; Archbishop of Fermo, 1625; Papal Nuncio to the Confederation of Kilkenny in Ireland, 1645-49 (‘Pro Deo, Pro Rege, Pro Patria Unanimis’); instructed by Pope Innocent X to secure freedom of religion for Catholics, to arrange for the installation of Catholic viceroys in Ireland; and to gain eligibility of catholic bishops to the Irish House of Lords [ODNB: promote Catholic supremacy]; arrived Kenmare Bay on board San Pietro, 1645; objected to truce presented by Ormond, 28 March 1646, as failing to guarantee the place of Catholicism; excommunicated accordingly all Catholics who signed the truce [var. of 1648] with the ‘heretic’ viceroy; Commentarius Rinuccinianus compiled by two Capuchins, 1661-62, and written in vindication of his conduct at the Confederation of Kilkenny; includes reports, correspondence, memoirs, copied from originals preserved in the Vatican Office of Propaganda; unfavorable to Old English and also to Luke Wadding; his correspondence with the Pope and other prelates, together with his own final “Report on Affairs of Ireland”, were translated from Gaiazza’s Italian edition by Annie Hutton and issued as Embassy in Ireland (1873); a new edition based on a recently discovered version, is being edited by William P. Kelly under Irish govt. funding in 2007. ODNB OCIL

[ top ]

Works
R. O’Ferrall & R. O’Connell, [eds.,] Commentarius Rinuccinianus de sedis apostolicae legatione ad foederatos Hiberniae catholicos per annos 1645-1649; compiled by Fr Barnabas O’Ferrall and Fr Daniel O’Connell and edited from the Manuscript by Fr Joaness Kavanagh [Fr. Stanislaus], 6 vols. [Dublin: Irish MSS Commission 1932-49), 8o.; Annie Hutton, trans. & ed., Embassy in Ireland 1645-49 (Dublin [Abbey St.]: Alex. Thom 1873) [infra].

Thomas Moore includes Rinuccini’s “Relazione della Battaglia d’Ultonia Seguita fra i Cattolici e gli Scozzesi” in Thomas Moore (History of Ireland, 1846, pp.289-90, dealing with the Battle of Benburb [Bemborbending: ‘Dei nostri son morti solamente ettanta, e fra questi un Sig. principale Ultoniese, ma venturiere. Cento soli feriti uno dei quali è il colonnello Fenel percosso in una spalla, che se è segnalato fra gli altri con inredibil bravura.’ The Irish leaders are ‘Generali Eugenio e Felice O’Neil’, Rinuccini himself is Monsignor Nunzio’, and the Scottish Protestants are called ‘gli Puritani’.

[ top ]

Criticism
Michael J. Hynes, The Mission of Rinuccini, Nuncio Extraordinary to Ireland 1645-49 (Dublin: Browne & Nolan, 1932) 332pp.

[ top ]

Commentary
Annie Hutton, trans., Embassy in Ireland 1645-49 (1873 Edn.), “Introduction”: ‘The editor of the Italian orig. [Gaiazza] believes that the Catholic cause would have been victorious in Ireland and in England if the Irish leaders had not been divided by vanity and self-interest, and Rinuccini had been listened to. The Pope’s instructions through Rinuccini contain the following account of Laudabiliter: “Henry, desiring to strengthen his empire, and to secure the provinces which he possessed beyond sea in France, wished to subdue the island of Ireland; and to compass this design, had recourse to Adrian [IV] who, himself an Englishman, with a liberal hand granted all he coveted. / The zeal manifested by Henry to convert all Ireland to the faith moved the soul of Adrian to invest him with the sovereignty of the island [on three conditions: 1) propagation of Christianity, 2) an annual tithe of 1 penny from each subject, and 3) the preservation of all civil liberties and all rights of the Church.] … under all circumstances … insist on a sufficient income arising from tithes et. be granted by all holders of secular property to all priests and parishes … [and promote] an oath of loyalty to the Church. … be on his guard against the many English Catholics at Court [in France] for their faith is not ardent enough to hear with pleasure of the victories gained in its cause by the Irish on account of the natural and undying hatred which exists between the two nations, the English always desiring to keep the Irish under their yoke, on account of their being useful in carrying out the decrees and strengthening the authority of the government.” Further, [Rinuccini] warned against landing in Waterford, then held by the Parliamentarians; Limerick “as neutral and isolated, rules itself.” [The martial courage of O’Neill and Preston is generously praised with regard to their previous conduct on the continent. Irish histories cited by Gaiazza incl. MacGeoghan’s History, Musgrave’s Irish Rebellions, Leland’s History, Gordon’s History of Ireland, Davies’ Discoverie, Moore’s History, Thomas Parnell’s Collection of the Penal Laws of Ireland.’ Rinuccini later reports: “As to O’Neill, his retreat from want of money and arms showed that in spite of his enmity to the marquis little can be hoped for him. I have always advised him not to unite with the Parliamentarians, but nevertheless I have never advised him to join Ormonde; and what the poor man will do must depend on necessity or despair. … I fear everything will call into the hands of Parliament.” (p.449.) Also, “I declared that the government of a heretic was incompatible with the exercise of my mission, invited all who had incurred the excommunication to seek for absolution excepting only those who were authors of the truce.” (See

Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael, Amsterdam: Blom: 1986), writes: In Disputatio apologetica et manifestativa de iure regni Hiberniae Catholicism Hibernis adversos haereticos Anglos (1645), Cornelius O’Mahoney urges the reinstating of a high-kingship, preferably Gaelic [‘vernaculum seu naturalem Hibernum’] - anticipating Gaelocentric nationalism - thus contradicting the Confederation’s policy of loyal support to Charles I, and was accordingly banned by Rinnucini’s party. (p.296.) Leerssen calls Annie Hutton, Embassy in Ireland (1873), the first English translation of the MS transcribed from Rinuccini’s papers under supervision of Cavaliere Tommaso, Rinuccini’s brother, to be published with his “History of the War from 1641-49” [De haeresis Anglicanae in Hiberniam intrusione et progressu et de bello Catholico ad annum 1641, capto, exindeque per aliquot annos, gesto commentarius, 6 vols. of folio MS, div. 1-12, 666pp.] (which remained unpublished). Further, ‘A copy is also held in Earl Leicester’s library, believed to have been made by Thomas Coke. Rinucinni’s is undoubtedly earlier, though not in an Italian hand, probably an Irish “learned monk”. The Italian MS contains a preface by M. Salvini, Cardinal. The Italian publication was effected by Gaiazza [n.d.; no first name] and the English translation made by Hutton. The text consists of Rinuccini’s Papal instructions regarding his mission, its aims and conduct, letters by Rinuccini to the Court of Rome and several distinguished persons, including Mazarin, and a ‘Report on Affairs of Ireland’ [in 36 paragraphs] to the Pontiff, Innocent X, recommending the best way of strengthening the Catholic religion in the country, with some related passages from other writings. The collapse of the Confederation sparked a letter by one Paul King, printed in 1649 which started an acrimonius debate between Rinuccinian and anti-Ormondists (John Poncius, Nicholas French, and the two authors of the large Commentarius Riniccinianus), and on the other Richard Bellings (who also continued Sydney”s Arcada) and John Callaghan, authors of similarly titled works.’ (Leerssen, p.297.) [For Hutton’s trans., see supra.]

Thomas Bartlett, reviewing Michelle O’Riordan, The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World (1991): ‘Similarly writers who have pointed out the ‘new’ religious ormotif in the 17th c. as evidence of a ‘new’ religious or political conscience at work, have missed the point that this theme was a traditional one, that those poets who wrote in praise of the papal nuncio, Rinucinni, in the 1640s merely regarded him as ‘a sept allegiance substitute’ rather than as the spearhead of the counter-reformation.’ (Linen Hall Review, April, 1992, pp.18-19.)

[ top ]

References
Frank O’Connor (Book of Ireland, 1959, p.176), spells ‘Rinucinni’, with date ‘c. 1641’ [but note that his own hist. calendar gives nuncio’s arrival correctly as 1645]; also quotes, ‘No nation in Europe is less given to industry or is more phlegmatic than this. They do no concern themselves with ecclesiastical or political amelioration.’ See also Irish Booklover, Vol. 2.

J. C. Beckett, The Making of Modern Ireland (1987), Bibl. cites S. Kavanagh, ed., Commentarius Riniccinianus, 6 vols. (Irish MSS Commission 1932-49; here p.487).

R. F. Foster, Modern Ireland (London: Allen Lane 1988), bio-note, p. 47, remarks that he opposed all peace proposals that failed to provide for full recognition of Catholicism and the appointment of Catholic Viceroys and excommunicated those involved in the April truce of 1648.

Norman Vance, Irish Literature: A Social History (Basil Blackwell 1990), cites R O’Ferrall and R. O’Connell, [eds.,] Commentarius Rinuccinianus [1658], 6 vols. (Dub: Stationary Office 1932-49).

British Library holds An Inquiry into the Share, which King Charles I. had in the Transactions of the Earl of Glamorgan, afterwards Marquis of Worcester, for bringing over a Body of Irish Rebels to assist that King, in the years 1645 and 1646 in which Mr Cart’s imperfect account of that affair, and his use of the MS. memoirs of the Pope’s nuncio Rinuccini, are impartially consideredl; the whole drawn from the best authorities printed and manuscript [By Thomas Birch, D.D.] London: A. Millar 1747), viii, 343pp., 8o.; G. Aiazzi, Nunziatura in Irlanda di Monsignor G. B. Rinuccini ... negli anni 1645 a 1649, pubblicata per la prima volta su’MSS. originali [...] con documenti illustrativi, per cura di G. Aiazzi (Firenze [Florence] 1844), lxviii, 486pp., 8o.; [trans. as] A. Hutton, The Embassy in Ireland of ... G. B. Rinuccini ... translated for the first time into English (Dublin 1873), 8o.; The Papal Nuncio (Archbishop Rinuccini) among the Irish Confederates, 1645-1649 [and extract from ‘Geschichte der Katholischen Kirche in Irland’] translated from the German [...] by the Rev. W. McLoughlin (Dublin: Catholic Truth Society of Ireland: 1908), pp. viii. 73, 8o.; Commentarius Rinuccinianus de Sedis Apostolicae legatione ad foederatos Hiberniae catholicos per annos 1645-1649. Florentiae opus susceperunt atque absolverunt per annos 1661-1666 Fr. Pater Richardus-Barnabas O’Ferrall [and] Fr. Pater Robertus-Daniel O’Connell. Nunc primum e fontibus totum edendum curat Fr. Pater Stanislaus-Joannes Kavanagh, 6 vols. (Dublin: Newport B. White 1932-49), Synopsis and indices, 8o.; The Mission of Rinuccini, Nuncio Extraordinary to Ireland, 1645-1649 (Dublin: Browne & Nolan [printed in Louvain] 1932), xxiii, 332pp., map., 8o.

Library of Herbert Bell (Belfast) holds bound copies of The Papal Nuncio among the Irish Confederates, trans. from German of Very Rev. Dr Alphonsus Bellesheim, canon of Collegiate Church of Aix la Chapelle, trans. the Rev. W McLoughlin, Pt. I (Dublin: CTS 1908), 32pp; 2nd Pt., pp.34-73. Note, Marsh’s Library holds papers.

[ top ]

Notes
Michael Hynes (author of Mission of Rinuccini, 1932) is variously listed as Doctor of Science & History, Louvain, and Professor at St. Mary’s Seminary, Cleveland, Ontario.

Dionysius Massari, dean of Fermo, sec. to Archbishop Rinuccini, letter to Rinuccini’s brother, in Florence (1645): ‘The men are fine-looking and of incredible strength, swift runners, and ready to bear every kind of hardship with cheerfulness. They are all trained in arms, especially now that they are at war. Those who apply themselves to letters are very learned, and well fitted to the professions and sciences. / The women are distinguished by their grace and beauty, and they are as modest as they are lovely. Their manners are marked by their extreme simplicity, and they mix freely in conversation on all occasions without suspicion or jealousy. Their dress differs from ours, and is somewhat like the French. They also wear cloaks reaching to their heels and tufted locks of hair, and they go without any licad-dress, content with linen bands bound up in the Greek fashion, which display their natural beauty to much advantage. Their families are very large. Some have as many as thirty children, all living; not a few have fifteen or twenty, and all these children are handsome, tall and strong, the majority being fair-haired, white-skinned and red-complexioned. / Food is abundant, and the inhabitants eat and entertain very well. They are constantly pledging healths, the usual drinks being Spanish wines, French claret, very good beer and excellent milk. Butter is used abundantly with all kinds of food. . . . There is also plenty of fruit -apples, pears, plums and artichokes. All eatables are cheap. A fat ox costs sixteen shillings, a sheep fifteen pence, a pair of capons, or fowls, five pence; eggs a farthing each, and other things in proportion. A good-sized fish costs a penny, and they don’t worry about selling game. They kill birds almost with sticks. Both salt and fresh water fish are cheap, abundant, and of excellent flavour. [...] The horses are numerous, strong, wellbuilt, and swift. For five pounds you can buy a nag which in Italy could not be got for a hundred gold pieces.’ (Quoted in John Philip Cohane, The Indestructible Irish, NY: Hawthorn Books 1969, p.107.)

[ top ]