1780, Vatican, Pope Pius VI. Large Silver Scudo Coin.
Mint Place: Rome
Region: Papal States
Mint Year: 1780 (Anno VI)
Reference: Davenport 1471, KM-1216.2. R!
Obverse: Seated female personification of Religion in clouds, holding keys and church. Small Coat-of-arms below.
Legend: AVXILIVM DE SANCTO . 1780
Reverse: Tiara (papal crown) and crossed keys above oval shield with oval arms of the Pope within foliage.
Legend: PIVS . SEXTVS – PONT . M . A . VI
Pope Pius VI (27 December, 1717 – 29 August, 1799), born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, Pope from 1775 to 1799, was born at Cesena.
The name of Pius VI is associated with many and often unpopular attempts to revive the splendour of Pope Leo X (1513–21) in the promotion of art and public works; the words Munificentia Pii VI. P. M. graven in all parts of the city, giving rise amongst his impoverished subjects to such satire as the insertion of a minute loaf in the hands of Pasquin with that inscription beneath it. He is best remembered in connection with the establishment of the Museum of the Vatican, begun at his suggestion of his predecessor and with an impractical and expensive attempt to drain the Pontine Marshes, something later successfully achieved in the 1930s by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
The portrait in the box is one of numerous studio copies of the official portrait by Pompeo Batoni, 1775.
Pius VI has been accused of having led a futile and immoral life, of having neglected his duties and of having been bad-tempered and even brutal with his attendants. Allowance of course must be made for enmity and exaggeration, but there can be no doubt that the Pope resorted to low and crooked means of obtaining money, both to meet the demands of his insatiable family and the cost of his own extravagance. As a monarch he was isolated and ignored. When the French Revolution broke out, the population of Avignon and of the Comtat Venaissin turned out the papal officials and declared themselves French citizens. News of this event was received in Paris with a great show of rejoicing and the Pope’s effigy was publicly burned in the gardens of the Palais Royal to the accompaniment of ribald jokes and songs.".
A long audience with Pius VI is one of the most extensive scenes in the Marquis de Sade’s narrative Juliette, published in 1798. Juliette shows off her learning to the Pope (whom she most often addresses as “Braschi”) with a verbal catalogue of alleged immoralities committed by his predecessors.
As a means of humiliation, Sylvain Maréchal’s play Le Judgment dernier des rois forces the character of the pope to marry after a global revolution has dethroned him and other monarchs.