Fraud and Incompetence: Multiple failures in the Papal States

Stefano Coronella, Valerio Antonelli, Carolyn J. Cordery, Roberto Verona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Papal States was a longstanding nation ruled by the Pope, the Head of the Roman Catholic Church. Its accountants included priests and laymen who were employed as bureaucrats. Despite an expectation that the finances would be carefully managed, this research from the mid-nineteenth century shows that incompetence and fraud dogged the Papal States’ latter years, contributing to it losing most of its territory in the Second War of Italian Independence from 1859, and its final demise in 1870.
This prosopography of three men who held high bureaucratic positions, analyses their approach to accounting in the Papal States. It shows that waste and deficient accounting arose from individuals undertaking fraud and from organisational (and individual) incompetence. In doing so, it elucidates how the Papal States could be a ‘vehicle for fraud’, and in particular, how it was used as a shield to enable both fraud and incompetence to go unpunished.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Jan 2021

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Fraud and Incompetence: Multiple failures in the Papal States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this