Gregory XVI, Pope 1831-1846
Muntoni ; Berman 3281, PCGS graded MS-63
Reformed Coinage. Rome. GREGORIVS XVI PON MAX AN V, bust of Pope Gregory XVI left; R below. Reverse: 10/SCVDI/1835 in three lines within olive wreath.
Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari was elected as Pope Gregory XVI on February 2, 1831 and inherited a difficult situation. In the aftermath of the July Revolution that abolished the restored Bourbon monarchy in 1830, the French government seized Ancona, which had previously been a possession of the Papal States. Although Pope Gregory XVI can be commended for his public condemnation of the Atlantic slave trade, the staunch conservatism of his rule in the Papal States made him deeply unpopular. He opposed the use of technological advances like gas lighting and railroad transportation on the grounds that they would increase commerce and stimulate the development of the bourgeoisie, which would in turn threaten his monarchical rule. The repressive reign of Pope Gregory XVI resulted in local insurrections in 1836, 1840, 1843, and 1845, all of which ended with executions or severe prison sentences for the ringleaders. Nevertheless the draconian responses of the Pope did little to curb the unrest that continued to simmer.