Captain General of the Church

The captain general of the Church (Italian: Capitano generale della Chiesa) was the de facto commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Papal States during the Middle Ages. The post was usually conferred on an Italian or other noble with a professional military reputation or (later) a relative of the pope.

The parallel office of gonfalonier was more a formal and ceremonial honor than the responsibility of a tactical military leader.[1] The office was at times made subordinate to temporary offices.[2]

For example, Pope Callixtus III appointed Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Later Pope Alexander VI) as the chief and general commissary of the Papal Army. A number of such offices under many titles were used as ministers of war by popes, the captain general operated as a field commander under these offices. Pope Innocent XII removed both ranks and replaced them with the position of Flag-bearer of the Holy Roman Church (Vessilifero di Santo Romana Chiesa), which later became hereditary in the Naro Patrizi.[3]

It was traditional for the captain general to carry a baton of command blessed by the pope.[4]