Pius VII, Pope 1800-1823

Muntoni 3; Berman 3218, PCGS graded MS-65

Rome. PIVS VII P M A XVIII, Papal arms. Reverse: APOSTOLORUM PRINCEPS, St. Peter standing facing on cloud, raising hand in benediction and holding keys.

Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Chiaramonti was elected as Pope Pius VII on March 14, 1800, and immediately faced the ideological and military crisis posed by the French Revolution and the rising star of Napoleon Bonaparte. The new pope attempted to cooperate with the Napoleonic regime, negotiating the 1801 Concordat, which effected a reconciliation between French Revolutionaries and Catholics, and participating in Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor of the French in 1804. However, Pope Pius VII was imprisoned and exiled when Italy was annexed by Napoleon in 1809. This experience gave him the air of a living martyr when he returned to Rome in 1814 and took a strongly reactionary stance. He reinstated the formerly repressed Jesuit order and restored both the Roman Inquisition and the Index of Prohibited Books.