Monday, June 5, 2017

The Origin of Nepotism

Pope Paul III with his cardinal-nephew Alessandro Farnese (left)
 and his other grandson, Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma (right)

Many early popes rushed to appoint relatives to highly lucrative posts such as cardinal. "Ten papacies wouldn't have sufficed to satisfy all his cousins," complained one writer of Pope Alexander VI.

Since popes—i.e., unmarried church men—were not in theory supposed to have children, many of these appointments went to their nephews—some actually were offspring of the pope's brothers and sisters, but many so-called "nephews" were actually their own illegitimate children. The Italian word for nephew is "nipote," which became bastardized to "nepotism."

~Richard Zacks

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