The traditional ceremony of the Acclamation in Arcadia of two newlywed nobles, Luigi Braschi Onesti and Costanza Falconieri, whose only frail claim to
nobility was their status as nephews of Pope Pius VI Braschi, offers the pretext for a revocation of the events and personages of the Roman aristocracy and the papal court at the end of the 18th century. Based on better or lesser-known details and some original grafts, an overall picture of the last twenty years of the century (1780-1801) is seamlessly recomposed. This was the period in which Pius VI’s ambition to match and surpass in grandeur the papacy of Leo X, his misplaced nepotism, the short-sighted conservatism of the Roman managerial and aristocratic classes, combined with no few historically-established inadequacies of the Papal government were severely challenged. The crisis was triggered partly by the revolutionary ideas and anti-clerical rigorism of Joseph II of Austria, and above all by the overwhelming pan-European assault of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Keywords: Late eighteenth-century Rome; Papacy; Pius VI; Braschi family; Noble wedding; Collections of poems by Arcadians; Luigi Braschi Onesti; Costanza Falconieri Braschi Onesti; Pontine Marshes; Archaeology.