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Pope Innocent X

Portrait of Innocent X by Velázquez

Innocent X (r. 1644-1655) was elected pope at a long and contentious conclave in August and September 1644, as delegates were already assembly for the Congress of Westphalia. Since his predecessor, Urban VIII, had been pro-French, Spain was determined not to allow another pro-French pope. France opposed the election of any pontiff favourable to Spain, but Mazarin was disappointed when the French envoy failed to exercise his veto against Innocent X. Friction between the new pope and the French government increased when Innocent tried to prosecute the late pope’s nephews for financial malfeasance and they fled to France for protection. Mazarin launched a series of naval expeditions against Italy in 1646 to put pressure on Innocent X, who eventually reconciled with Urban VIII’s nephews. Nevertheless, he refused to recognize French-appointed bishops in Catalonia (which he still regarded as a Spanish territory in spite of the fact that it was claimed, and mostly occupied, by France) and did not acknowledge John IV as the legitimate king of Portugal, instead accepting Philip IV’s continued right to the country.

Apart from these peripheral matters, Innocent exerted little direct influence on the Congress of Westphalia. He confirmed Fabio Chigi as papal representative, and agreed with Chigi’s policy of opposing religious concessions. In 1650, Innocent issued the brief Zeo domus Dei protesting the religious terms of the Peace of Westphalia, but the idea of a protest had originated with Chigi.

In the latter years of his reign, Innocent issued a bull condumning the religious movement of Jansenism in France, improving his relations with the French crown and provoking Blaise Pascal’s Lettres provinciales in response.