« Collegiality as a positive externality | Main | The fantasy world of retirement planning »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My gut tells me that duration of a popes reign would make a good instrumental variable. Now I just have to figure out for what.

This makes me wonder about papal age at assumption of office as well as papal age at cessation of office.

I think you have to look at the ages at assumption of office to make sense of these numbers. In the early days of the church, there probably weren't many old Christians around to be considered for election -- active state persecution tends to thin the elderly population.

If you discard the data before 350 AD -- in other words, the period when papal demographics are likely to be influenced by religious persecution -- it looks to me like all you have left is a gradual increase which accelerates moving into the second half of the second millennium.

Colin: apart from a short one under Domitian, persecutions were small,brief local affairs. The whole thing wa s amplified to give legitimacy after 350 C.E.. after which, the issue lay dormant until the late 19th century Muscular Christianity meme. From which came the whole soft-core S&M litterature and movies such as Ben-Hur or The Robe. As well as the whole idiotic belief in Pollice Verso (thumb down) ( by classical times, gladiator combat has long ceased to be a human sacrifice and had become a profitable business where nobody was dumb enough to spoil the revenge match by killing your business assets)

Livio: pedantry point: the first year is year 1. (Correction: uber-pedantry point...)

Jacques, there was a difference between professional Gladiators, who were "stars" and "noxii", the condemned who were intended only to be "cannon fodder". The noxii were those seen as obnoxious to the state and sent to die by animal baiting or die as fodder for a professional gladiator. Condemnation of Christians as Noxii is well attested in the contemporary (pagan, BTW) historical literature.

The earliest reliable report of Christian persecution was 66-68AD under Nero. Domitian followed suit in 90 - 96AD.

Decius, Valerian and Diocletian all held Empire-wide persecutions and these were the most severe. These spanned 250 - 290 AD. Constantine became the Emperor in 305AD and issued the Edict of Milan in 313AD. He also convoked the Great Council of Nicaea in 325AD which produced the Creed. Theododius made Christianity the State Religion in 410AD.

Thanks for keeping me in line Jacques-absolutely right.

Well, religious persecution of popes would have declined after the conversion of Constantine. Political persecution, however... being Pope remained a dangerous job well into the next millenium. By way of example, the saeculum obscurum of the early 10th century, and the latter conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope(s) in the late 10th century, meant that the church worked through 21 popes in that century (and more than a handful of anti-Popes), a number of whom are known, or suspected, to have been murdered. Powerful men often have powerful enemies.

And the link between papal span and life expectancy is also problematic. There have been a handful of papal resignations (of which the Pope Benedict XVI is only the latest), a number of "official" popes were deposed, especially around the 10th and 11th centuries (as an aside Tom Holland's "Millenium" about the coming of the first Millenium in Europe and the religious and social upheaval around it makes for fascinating reading). Benedict IX served as pope on three distinct occasions and was ultimately excommunicated (having been apointed very young, by some account as a boy, he appeared to have lived a decidedly degenerate life as pope).

BTW, the first year was 24, according to my calculations. :)

As for age, wasn't there a time that the Cardinals preferred to elect Popes who were getting on in years, to minimize the risk of suffering for years under a Pope they did not like? Also, weren't family politics served by short reigns? Many Cardinals came from prominent families, and a long reign would favor the Pope's relatives too much. And wasn't there one Cardinal who disguised himself as an old man in order to get elected Pope, and when he was elected, threw off his disguise? ;)

Also, because of the interaction between the length of reign and the date, shouldn't the dimension at the bottom of Figure 1 be the number of the Pope?

Hi Min:
When I do the LOWESS smooth on reign versus number of the pope, I still get the u-shaped and it reaches a min near or about pope number 125 which is Stephen VII who reigns 929-931.

Hi, Livio:

That fits in with what Bob Smith said about papal politics in the 10th century. :)

On persecutions

Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this moreover - taking time and actual effort to create a fairly decent article?- but what can I say?- I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get some thing carried out.

lv bags


you've an excellent blog here! would you like to create some invite posts on my weblog?

cheap lv bags


The comments to this entry are closed.

Search this site

  • Google

Blog powered by Typepad