The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

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

12
VENICE: A REVOLUTIONARY CLEARINGHOUSE

POLITICS AND CULTURE

IN THE VAST AND COMPLEX PROTESTANT MOVEMENT in the Three Venices, the interacting political, social, and religious factors at work cannot always be separated, and often differ from one place to another even in the same state, with the Republic of Venice a clear case in point. The documentation to help illuminate the religious life and the activities of the inquisitorial tribunals in the cities of the Terraferma is much harder to come by than for Venice itself. All the trials initiated in the provincial tribunals not actually transferred to the capital have in large part remained buried in the local episcopal archives. Consequently, many pieces of a vast mosaic still need to be fitted together. When a scholar does finally succeed in gaining access to one of these repositories, much light is shed on events of great interest for the life of a small city in the Venetian dominion.

If our knowledge of the activity of these provincial courts is still fragmentary, the sources for the Holy Office in Venice are abundant. On 22 April 1547, the tribunal was reconstituted to include the papal legate, the inquisitor, the patriarch, and, at government insistence, three lay assistants known as the Savii all'eresia. Thousands of trials were generated by this court, which despite assiduous work upon them since the last century, have not yet been properly catalogued and inventoried, as noted recently by Andrea Del Col who is conducting a systematic investigation of the material.1

Venice was more than the meeting ground for the entire movement of anti- Roman dissent in the territory of the Republic; it took in almost the entire area

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1
Col A. Del, "Organizzazione, composizione e giurisdizione dei tribunali dell'Inquisizione romana nella repubblica di Venezia (1550-1588)," Critica Storica 25 ( 1988): 244-94; idem, "L'Inquisizione romana e il potere politico nella repubblica di Venezia (1540-1560)," ibid. 28 ( 1991): 189-250.

-190-

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