In an effort to understand British-Papal relations during the 19th century, James Flint examines the diplomatic relations between Great Britain and the Holy See during the first Russell ministry of 1846-1852. Earlier studies often blame the ministry's failure to establish relations with Pope Pius IX on assorted British blunders, either by ministers or (in a crucial instance) by the House of Lords. But Flint's research in the Vatican archives finds that even the most skilful British campaign would have found it difficult to set up diplomatic relations that, for the most part, the Papal government did not want. This is a study of this diplomatic incident and of its implications for understanding the long history of unease between Great Britain and the Holy See. Flint explains that the Roman Curia rightly feared that an accredited British diplomat might demand unwelcome reforms within the Papal States, or even act in a way inimical to the Pope's temporal power. Of great concern was the possibility that a British mission in Rome might pressure the Holy See to use its authority to make Catholic Ireland more amenable to British rule. Throughout the book, Flint is careful to define Ireland's role as the unspoken third party in the discussion. Determined not to see their church used as a bargaining chip, the more nationalistic bishops and the officials of the Irish College in Rome both kept a wary eye upon British activity and made their views known to the Roman authorites. The Potato Famine, the 1848 Revolutions and the Papal Aggression uproar all contributed to a growing impasse that left the Papal and British goverments further apart when the Russell ministry left office than when it entered.