Roman Inquisition on the Stage of Italy, c. 1590-1640

Roman Inquisition on the Stage of Italy, c. 1590-1640

Thomas F. Mayer
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 368
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    Roman Inquisition on the Stage of Italy, c. 1590-1640
    Book Description:

    From the moment of its founding in 1542, the Roman Inquisition acted as a political machine. Although inquisitors in earlier centuries had operated somewhat independently of papal authority, the gradual bureaucratization of the Roman Inquisition permitted the popes increasing license to establish and exercise direct control over local tribunals, though with varying degrees of success. In particular, Pope Urban VIII's aggressive drive to establish papal control through the agency of the Inquisition played out differently among the Italian states, whose local inquisitions varied in number and secular power. Rome's efforts to bring the Venetians to heel largely failed in spite of the interdict of 1606, and Venice maintained lay control of most religious matters. Although Florence and Naples resisted papal intrusions into their jurisdictions, on the other hand, they were eventually brought to answer directly to Rome-due in no small part to Urban VIII's subversions of the law.

    Thomas F. Mayer provides a richly detailed account of the ways the Roman Inquisition operated to serve the papacy's long-standing political aims in Naples, Venice, and Florence. Drawing on the Inquisition's own records, diplomatic correspondence, local documents, newsletters, and other sources, Mayer sheds new light on papal interdicts and high-profile court cases that signaled significant shifts in inquisitorial authority for each Italian state. Alongside his earlier volume,The Roman Inquisition: A Papal Bureaucracy and Its Laws in the Age of Galileo, this masterful study extends and develops our understanding of the Inquisition as a political and legal institution.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0934-1
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Heresy-hunting probably always had a political dimension. It only intensified once the popes took an increasingly active role beginning in the twelfth century.¹ Lucius III’s pivotal decretalAd abolendam(1184), sometimes mistakenly taken astheor at leastafoundational document of the papal inquisition, called on imperial authorities to assist in the search for heretics, and may have been issued with Emperor Frederick I’s tacit support.² It also dictated a mode of investigation containing some of the elements of the new technique ofinquisitio.³ Although originally intended for the investigation of abuses committed by the higher clergy, when Innocent...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Spain and Naples
    (pp. 11-45)

    Beginning no later than the mid-fifteenth century and intensifying spectacularly after the Sack of Rome followed in 1536 by Charles V’s hectoring of the pope in his own palace, the papacy suffered from strained relations with the Hapsburg powers, above all Spain. This situation arose partly as a natural reaction to the preponderance that country enjoyed throughout this period, in Rome as well as over most of the rest of the Italian peninsula, including the most dangerous case, the Spanish dependency of Naples.¹ Beginning in the early seventeenth century, the popes, especially Paul V and Urban VIII, tried to escape...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Naples: Tommaso Campanella
    (pp. 46-63)

    The most notorious case in our period involving Rome and Naples was that of Tommaso Campanella.¹ It may have set a record for length at nearly thirty years, not counting three other trials lasting another eight years that Campanella underwent at the hands of authorities in Naples and elsewhere before his most importantprocessobegan. That trial raised in particularly acute form the same issues of overlapping jurisdiction between Rome and Naples and jealously guarded prerogatives between secular and religious authorities in Naples that we have already considered. Unlike those episodes, Campanella’s trial is exceptionally well documented in both the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Venice in the Wake of the Interdict
    (pp. 64-114)

    Although Naples and Venice were two of the most important local inquisitions, the Congregation attended to them in very different ways. While Naples drew steadily more interest in the seventeenth century, Rome expended most of its energy on Venice in one decade-long burst in the aftermath of the interdict of 1606. By the end of Paul V’s reign in 1621, Rome took not much more notice of Venice than of the local inquisition in, say, Cremona, and the situation changed little under Urban VIII. For the three years during which we have a record of Rome’s out-letters, 1626–1628, 300...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Venice: Giordano Bruno, Cesare Cremonini, and Marcantonio De Dominis
    (pp. 115-151)

    Three Venetian cases deserve separate treatment, both for their political, religious, and philosophical importance and the copiousness of their documentation, and for the tenacity with which the Inquisition pursued them, albeit with markedly different results. These are the trials of Giordano Bruno, apostate Dominican and natural philosopher; Cesare Cremonini, long-time professor of philosophy at Padua and denier of the soul’s immortality; and Marcantonio de Dominis, whose unquiet career began in Croatia, took him to England and then back to Rome, before it ended in the burning of his corpse.

    Giordano Bruno’s case has given anticlerical historians almost as much ammunition...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Florence I
    (pp. 152-197)

    Unlike many of their peers, the grand dukes fairly quickly accepted the new Roman Inquisition, as indicated by the execution in Rome in 1567 of Pietro Carnesecchi, a scion of the Florentine establishment. Carnesecchi would have done well to stay in Venice (as many friends advised him to do); the Venetians, even after they reluctantly allowed the Inquisition to operate in their territory, almost always succeeded in keeping it under their control, especially when it came to extraditions, the most notorious exception perhaps being the case of Giordano Bruno. Still, if the matter were politically important, the grand dukes could...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Florence II
    (pp. 198-218)

    The latest murder case against Rodrigo Alidosi could scarcely have ended before Annibale Della Vigna, “ministro del S. Officio,” its notary, was attacked in April 1610, and yet another set ofprocessibegan. They posed much more danger to Alidosi than his first trial, since after his abjuration he stood to be condemned as arelapsus, which would have meant a death sentence. For some reason, this possibility never arose. The news of the assault on Della Vigna reached Rome in the form of letters from the commissioner of Castel del Rio and Alidosi himself of 16 and 17 April.¹...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 219-224)

    In this book I have taken a somewhat unusual angle of vision and emphasized the degree to which politics affected the Roman Inquisition’s development, sometimes almost to the exclusion of other factors. The big trials covered—of Tommaso Campanella, Giordano Bruno, Cesare Cremonini, Marcantonio De Dominis and the two Alidosi—have almost nothing in common except the degree to which politics determined the outcome. Thus the nearly permanent jurisdictional disputes in Naples between the Roman Inquisition, the archbishop’s Inquisition and the viceregal authorities almost by themselves account for the length of Campanella’s nearly thirty-yearprocesso. Similarly, Venetian subject De Dominis’s...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 225-340)
  12. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 341-344)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 345-348)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 349-360)
    (pp. 361-362)