HUMANISM AND THE RELIGIOUS CRISIS OF THE LATE QUATTROCENTO
Giovanni Caroli, O.P., and the
Liber dierum lucensium
SALVATORE CAMPOREALE, O.P.
THE OPENING ESSAY OF PART THREE takes us to the heart of that "troubled marriage" between Christianity and classical humanism alluded to in the introduction. In this chapter, Father Salvatore Camporeale, O.P., analyzes the case of Giovanni Caroli, Dominican friar and humanist historian. Caroli's "crisis" arose from the gradual development in the later quattrocento of precisely that aspect of humanist ideology which Burckhardt would consider primary in Renaissance experience: a heroic vision of the state and of the individual. Camporeale vividly describes the agonizing process by which Caroli was led to sacrifice deep principles of cloistered life in order to preserve what he saw as the innermost spirit of Christian monasticism. The friar's understanding of the moral quandary of his religious community as a microcosm of the problem of Florence, facing slow loss of its civic freedom as Medici influence grew, suggests the same sense of identification between the monastic and secular "cities" discussed in Chapter 7, which also treated Santa Maria Novella. Caroli's ability to exploit antique literary models in arguing his case, and his simultaneous awareness of the inadequacy of ancient history and poetry to express the full character of Christian historical experience, illustrate the poles of this "world of the Christian humanist."
SALVATORE CAMPOREALE is a Dominican friar of the Santa Maria Novella community, and research associate at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Villa I Tatti. He also teaches part of each year at the Johns Hopkins University. Father Camporeale's publications include fundamental studies of Caroli's writings and of the thought of Lorenzo Valla.