The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

By Salvatore Caponetto; Anne C. Tedeschi et al. | Go to book overview

is the diffusion that Caponetto, appropriating an old term coined by Giorgio Spini, dubs the phenomenon "The Calvinism of the Mediterranean," stretching from Geneva and Lyons through Genoa to Naples and the martyred Waldensian colonies in Calabria and Puglia, to Sardinia and Sicily. The great port city of Messina produced an entire "colony" of refugees to Geneva.

The present English translation, based on the first Italian edition ( 1992), has also incorporated the corrections and addenda to the second edition ( 1997), which appeared while our work was in progress. The major innovations consisted of bibliographical and textual appendices and a short essay by Carlo Papini on the religiosity of Lorenzo Lotto. Thus, the attentive reader should consult these brief additions updating the text and its apparatus before delving into the apposite chapters. We have corrected obvious errors and typographical slips, but with few exceptions, made no attempt to verify the accuracy of the notes, to complete the citations, or to provide a fuller bibliography,1 although we have referred to English-language editions, where possible, of works cited in Italian translations. With a few exceptions, we did not succeed in tracking down the original French names for the many figures presented in Italian forms.

Readers without previous exposure to the subject might wish for a more linear and direct, perhaps less elusive exposition. In his desire to produce an uncluttered narrative, the author has not burdened it with the documentation that might have helped to elucidate and more firmly anchor some of the intriguing events that fill these pages. One is left to wonder, for example, how walking out of the mass after the reading of the Gospels helped to shield the true views of evangelicals still residing in papal Italy? Wouldn't such an abrupt, disruptive exodus achieve just the opposite effect (p. 258)? What possibly could have been the motive of the antitrinitarians who are said to have betrayed to Catholic authorities a fellow Piedmontese evangelical, and under what circumstances did this occur (p. 129)? The Prince of Sanseverino is said to have entered into a second marriage with a Huguenot woman in France, but we are not told that he extricated himself from his wife of many years, the virtuous, exemplary Isabella Villamarino (p. 291). These are a few of the instances that would have profited from further explanation and supporting annotation.

Admirably, Caponetto's study is based heavily on original sources, including Holy Office records. For the uninitiated, it might have been useful if the author could have brought his vast experience to bear briefly on the procedures of this tribunal, which decided or influenced the fate of so many of the book's protagonists. One is occasionally left with the mistaken impression that it was but a step between arrest and the stake, whereas in actual fact proceedings were generally drawn out and carefully supervised by the Supreme Congregation of the Inquisition in Rome. Capital punishment was reserved only for the "obdurate" and "pertinacious" who would not abandon their beliefs, or for the relapsed, persons who had experienced a previous,

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1
This can be found in the forthcoming The Italian Reformation of the Sixteenth Century and the Diffusion of Renaissance Culture: A Bibliography of the Secondary Literature (Ca. 1750-1997), compiled by John Tedeschi in association with James M. Lattis, with a historiographical introduction by Massimo Firpo that will be published under the auspices of the Istituto di Studi Rinascimentali, Ferrara.

-xii-

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