The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

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

18
MEDITERRANEAN CALVINISM

FROM LYONS TO GENOA

GIORGIO SPINI SUGGESTED YEARS AGO that it might be well to add a chapter devoted to Mediterranean Calvinism to Braudel's famous work.1 More than four decades of research on religious dissent in the Italian peninsula have fully confirmed the correctness of his astute intuition.

Along the great commercial routes traveled by the trade in silk, wool, cotton, spices, and arms, which from Lyons reached the entire western Mediterranean, missionaries from Geneva or from France, merchants, schoolteachers, and simple laborers, who were either Calvinists or influenced by Calvinism, reached the coastal cities of Marseilles, Nice, Savona, Genoa, Cagliari, Venice, Naples, Palermo, Messina, Syracuse, and even the Waldensian colonies in Calabria and Puglia.

Lyons was the great commercial and banking hub for France, the Mediterranean, and in fact for western Europe. Italy occupied a central place in this vast circuit. Two-thirds of its production in weaponry, silk, wool, and glass was exported through Lyons, where Florentine, Lucchese, Genoese, Lombard, and Venetian merchants maintained flourishing businesses. This "second capital" of France was also a focal point of European culture with its many printing establishments, gathering places for the leading literary figures, from whose presses the writings of the great scholars and religious reformers of the day circulated throughout the continent; and in turn, it was a place where one could learn about the latest cultural advances occurring anywhere in Europe.

It is difficult to calculate the number of Italians directly or indirectly influenced by the seductive Lyonnais milieu. In addition to such men of letters as Ortensio Lando, Bartolomeo Panciatichi, Ludovico Castelvetro, or important men of affairs such as the Balbani, Arnolfini, Buonvisi, and Pellizzari, all of whom would play a notable role in the religious controversies of the day, many others, humbler and

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1
G. Spini, "Di Nicola Gallo e di alcune infiltrazioni in Sardegna della Riforma protestante," Rinascimento 2 ( 1951): 145-78, esp. 174-75; F. Braudel, La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l'époque de Philippe II, 2d ed., 2 vols. ( Paris, 1966).

-318-

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