The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

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

the fifteenth century, touched the Benedictine, Dominican, Franciscan, and Augustinian orders, imposing respect for the ancient rules, calling for the renewal of discipline, joined to a powerful revival of Biblical and theological study. These were undoubtedly the first steps of the reformation preached by Aegidius of Viterbo: "reformare homines per sacra et non sacra per homines." These impulses, though not without opposition and internal conflicts between reformers and their opponents, would bear fruit and contribute to the affirmation of the Catholic Reformation.

Alongside the conventuals, and occasionally linked to them, movements tending towards personal reform, such as the Oratory of Divine Love, active in Genoa and Rome, also came into being, led by members of the noble and bourgeois classes and high prelates, who espoused ideals of charity and mercy, but did not as yet pre- occupy themselves with the reform of ecclesiastical institutions. The same can be said about the many lay confraternities, which advocated prayer and solidarity and attempted to make up for the deficiencies of the parish clergy. Towards mid-sixteenth century, the new doctrines, with their challenge to the cult of saints and superfluous devotions, penetrated a few of these bodies.


BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

For this introductory chapter, in addition to the general works cited in the notes, see the synthesis by E. Garin La cultura del Rinascimento ( Bari: Laterza, 1967), which summarizes his fundamental studies on the Renaissance. Of the immense recent bibliography on Luther, I limit myself to citing J. Atkinson, Martin Luther and the Birth of Protestantism ( Atlanta: Knox Press, 1981; 1st ed., 1968).

H. Holbein, the Younger, The Triumph of Death ( sixteenth century)

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