Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Italy

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Italy

Article excerpt

Early Modern European Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Italy. By Christopher F. Black. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2004. Pp. xxiii, 315. $85.00 clothbound; $29.95 paperback.)

As the author of this book implies in his preface, it can well be read as complementing his previous Early Modern Italy. A Social History (2000) as well as expanding on his Italian Confraternities in the Sixteenth Century (first published in 1989). The preface indeed suggests that this volume represents the culmination of his thinking about the subject during his professional career. It is written in a fluent and personal style, with some remarks couched in the first person, though on occasion the text could have benefited from more perfect revision. The treatment is balanced and concise; and students in particular will probably value some special features, not just the maps, and tables (for some Inquisition cases), or the attempt to list the Italian bishoprics and their key activities in the period covered, but also the suggestion of CDs reproducing some of the relevant church music for example. In fact, the strength of the book is arguably its demonstration of the continued importance in the Italian peninsula of post-Tridentine episcopal reform right into the later seventeenth century, contrary to the views which have often been derived from the work of Paolo Prodi. The role of the papacy within the peninsula is by contrast more summarily treated since, as the author generously insists, the present reviewer's volume, The Early Modern Papacy (2000), should be read alongside. That does mean that in this publication Prodi's theories are not subject to more than neutral report, at the explicit level, while the dramatic opinions of Adriano Prosperi (Tribunali della coscienza, 1996), with their implications about Italian Church and society to the present day, are again not more than implicitly treated to criticism, any more than in the author's Early Modern Italy. …

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