Accounting and governance in the final years of the Papal States: Dual roles in the papacy of Pius IX (1846–1870)

  • Valerio Antonelli, Stefano Coronella, Carolyn Cordery, Roberto Verona
  • The British Accounting Review, April 2020, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/

An analysis of dual roles in the sacred-secular divide in the nineteenth century Papal States

What is it about?

In this paper we analyse accounting (reforms and outputs) and governance changes in the Papal States in its last 25 years of existence. We theorise this using the sacred-secular divide and expand that dualistic notion to one which is much more nuanced. We argue that the leaders (particularly Pope Pius IX) sought to use secular accounting for decision-making and for this reason he passed various reforms to improve it. However we find that the accountants selectively chose what to make visible and therefore created a divide between secular accounting and the spiritual aims of the Papal States.

Why is it important?

This paper challenges the duality of the sacred-secular divide argument in accounting literature, by showing that different groups within an organisation may have different aims. This means the goals leaders set may not be achieved. Accounting was critical to the continuance of the Papal States, but it failed in its role to assist in decision-making.


Professor Carolyn J Cordery
Aston University

This is an in-depth accounting history narrative from a rich archive and I am grateful to my co-authors for inviting me to contribute. I believe that the theorisation extends the dualism of sacred-secular divide and it would be good to see other work building on this.

Read Publication

The following have contributed to this page: Professor Carolyn J Cordery