Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Renaissance Education: Schooling in Bergamo and the Venetian Republic, 1500-1650

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A Renaissance Education: Schooling in Bergamo and the Venetian Republic, 1500-1650

Article excerpt

Early Modern European A Renaissance Education: Schooling in Bergamo and the Venetian Republic, 1500-1650. By Christopher Carlsmith. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2010. Pp. xvii, 435. $75.00. ISBN 978-0-802-09254-0.)

Recent years have witnessed the publication of a number of important studies on education in early-modern Italy, including books by Paul Grendler and Robert Black. With this multi-faceted study, Christopher Carlsmith has made a worthy contribution to the literature. Carlsmith advances a number of arguments about education in Bergamo (located on the western border of the Venetian terraferma), but the most important is to emphasize the wide range of educational choices offered by the commune, lay confraternities, the diocese, religious orders, and noble parents.

Carlsmith begins with the efforts of the commune to instruct local youth at the pre-university level. These fluctuated dramatically over time due to a lack of consistent funding. From 1482 to 1524 the commune emphasized grammar and humanities by hiring humanist masters such as Giovanni Batista Pio and Giovita Ravizza, who were from outside the city. After 1 525 the educational endeavors of the commune waned, and it experimented with a variety of approaches, including a public college, a joint venture with a local confraternity, sporadic efforts to teach law, and arrangements with religious orders to supervise public instruction. The commune was unable to maintain a school for more than a decade or two. When a dedicated teacher could be found, the schools displayed some continuity, but when the master departed or retired, the schools declined.

Lay confraternities, led by the powerful Misericordia Maggiore, were remarkably prominent in promoting education among both lay boys and clerics at Bergamo. The confraternities provided scholarships and hundreds of one-time gifts to students. But the most significant contribution was the Misericordia 's establishment of a day school in 1 506 to remedy the problem of clerical ignorance. The school functioned until 1566, when it was replaced by a residential academy for clerics, which continued until 1610, and then a new academy that was founded in 1617 and continued into the eighteenth century.

The Council of Trent was a milestone in that the Church tried to reclaim its primacy in education. …

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