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Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy

Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy: The Hospital of Treviso, 1400-1530

David M. D’Andrea
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy
    Book Description:

    Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy explores the often subtle and sometimes harsh realities of life on the Venetian mainland. Focusing on the confraternity of Santa Maria dei Battuti and its Ospedale, the book addresses a number of well-established and newly articulated historiographical questions: the governance of territorial states, the civic and religious role of confraternities, the status of women and marginalized groups, and popular religious devotion. Adapting the objectives and methods of microhistory, D'Andrea has written neither a traditional history of political subjugation nor a straightforward survey of poor relief. Instead, thematic chapters survey the activities of a powerful religious brotherhood (Santa Maria dei Battuti) and document the interconnected local, regional, and international factors that fashioned the social world of Venetian subjects. Grounded in previously unexplored archival material, the book is an innovative study of the nexus between local religion and Venetian territorial power, providing scholars with this first scholarly monograph of the city that served as the keystone of Venice's mainland empire. This original approach to the critical relationship between provincial powers and the central government also contributes to other important areas of historical inquiry, including the history of popular religion, poor relief, medicine, and education. David D'Andrea is Associate Professor of History at Oklahoma State University.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-669-1
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Notes to the Reader
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    The statutes of Santa Maria dei Battuti of Treviso were typical of seemingly countless brotherhoods in Renaissance Italy, where the devout gathered in voluntary association and dedicated their prayers and works to the honor of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. Scholars have increasingly studied confraternal associations, at the intersection of personal devotion and public service, as a key element of Italian Renaissance society. Their organization, activities, wealth, and involvement in the community offer various ways to investigate the nature of Renaissance political and religious life. Confraternities and their hospitals offer a view of broad Christian values refracted through...

  8. Chapter 1 The City of God
    (pp. 13-38)

    The Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, preaching in the 1490s, and the Trevisan chronicler Domenico Vettorrazzi, writing in 1681, recognized the ennobling character of free association and self-governance. Congregations and assemblies fostered independent action and political control, which tyrannical governments perceived as a threat to their power. Just rulers, however, rewarded citizens for their good works by granting them civic liberty. When the self-governing bodies and organizations of Treviso fell under the control of Venetian rulership, the independent activity of the communal deliberative bodies, the official expressions of public power, were stifled. The confraternity of Santa Maria dei Battuti and its...

  9. Chapter 2 The Confraternal Family
    (pp. 39-57)

    Confraternities were voluntary organizations, with members bound together by charity in a religious bond. The reasons individuals joined these brotherhoods were as varied as the degree and type of religious associations, but all of those who joined employed language and an organizational structure that was familial. Members were referred to as brothers and sisters who called for peace and harmony within their own organization and strove to inspire the rest of the community to Christian concord. Santa Maria dei Battuti, like all confraternities, set criteria for who could join and outlined the obligations incumbent on members. Many of the Battuti’s...

  10. Chapter 3 The Bonds and Bounds of Charity
    (pp. 58-84)

    Matthew’s description of the Last Judgment and Boccaccio’s tale of the Trevisan response to the charlatan Martellino’s deception introduce us to the major themes of this chapter: the desire to give charity to needy persons, tempered by the necessity of deciding who truly deserved help; the types of aid to provide; and the ways of administering the assistance. Charitable institutions bound communities together with a network of gifts and support systems. John Bossy argues that “the state of charity, meaning social integration, was the principal end of the Christian life, and any people that claimed to be Christian must embody...

  11. Chapter 4 Medical Care and Public Health
    (pp. 85-108)

    Both the confraternity of the Battuti and the communal government identified the health and prosperity of their citizens as a common good. The Battuti provided medical treatment and supported public health policies as an extension of its charitable activities, which closely associated the care of the body with care for the soul. A home to orphans, a hostel to pilgrims, and a refuge for the sick and the poor, the hospital gradually developed an elaborate system of health care, ranging from routine bathing to complex surgical procedures. During the course of the fifteenth century the medical services and specialty care,...

  12. Chapter 5 Instruction for This Life and the Next
    (pp. 109-132)

    A lay member of a medieval confraternity in Brescia, Albertano of Brescia (c. 1190–c. 1250) outlined the religious life of an active confraternity dedicated to the common good. Albertano’s conception of religiously infused civic life found expression in the medieval communes as well as in Renaissance states. The confraternity of Santa Maria dei Battuti, itself governed by legally trained brothers, closely followed Albertano’s inspirational treatises and linked education with religious ideals. The confraternity embraced the proposition that religion and learning imposed a primary obligation to benefit society and supported vocational training, grammar schools, university scholarships, and religious instruction. As...

  13. Chapter 6 Crisis and Reform
    (pp. 133-148)

    In his support of public funding for the restoration of Santa Maria Maggiore, Podestà Morosini made the direct connection between devotion, good works, and divine favor. The Venetian noble reminded the citizens of Treviso that “our” hospital brought honor to the Virgin Mary and therefore protected the city from divine wrath. Morosini’s justification reveals that the hospital had become more than one brotherhood’s expression of piety. Santa Maria dei Battuti’s hospital had been transformed into a symbol of the city that protected the community from disaster. In the early sixteenth century, the relationship between Venice and its subject city would...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 149-192)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-208)
  16. Index
    (pp. 209-214)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-215)