ITALY, THE REFORMATION IN.
- Two Periods (§ 1).
- Venice (§ 2).
- Naples ( § 3).
- The Inquisition in Naples (§ 4)..
- In South and Central Italy (§ 5).
- The Later Period in Venice (§ 6).
- Italian Reformation Writings (§ 7).
(§ 1). Two Periods. This article is concerned with the Reformation in Italy only in its general features. Its more important characters are treated in separate articles (see CARACCIOLI, GALEAZZO; CURIONE, CELIO SECONDO; MORATA, OLIMPIA; OCHINO, BERNARDINO; PALEARIO, AONIO; RENÉE OF FRANCE; SPIERA, FRANCESCO; VALDÉZ; VERGERIO, PIETRO PAULO; VERMIGLI, PIETRO MARTIRE). The first noteworthy traces of the Reformation in Italy appear in the north, at Venice, but the culmination was reached in the south, at Naples. The first and rising period lies between 1520, when writings of the German Reformation are first known to have crossed the Alps, and 1540 or 1541, the year marking the death of Valdés, who wrought in an elect circle at Naples, as the most strongly intellectual and original of the Italian Reformers. Almost simultaneously with the breaking-up of the Evangelical circle at Naples, there set in (1542) the deliberate and systematic reaction instigated from Rome; the bull of Paul III., Licet ab initio (see INQUISITION, II., § 1), by the terms of which the Inquisition was organized after the Spanish model, and extended over all Italy (Naples excepted), is the storm signal. With unremitting activity until about 1570, this tribunal, personally directed by the popes, utilizing the entire political influence of the Curia, accomplished its work by driving a number of the chief advocates of reform to flight, by dungeon and fire and water, and smothered the movement. What still remained in the way of Evangelical tendencies during the later years of this second period had become divested of all efforts at internal church reform and stands in deliberate, most trenchant, opposition to Rome, falling in with certain radical tendencies which manifested themselves in Germany, but particularly in the Netherlands, where the leaders of a conservative Evangelical reformation steadily resisted them with force.
(§ 2). Venice. In Venice down to 1527 there is no evidence of repressive measures beyond repeated burning of reformatory writings of German origin; but toward the close of 1530 the papal nuncio, Caraffa (later Paul IV.), interposed against the "heretics" with greater strictness, and even sentenced a Franciscan, Girolamo Galateo (b. in Venice 1490) to death without obtaining confirmation for the act from the Senate. They kept him in prison seven years, then set him free, but in 1540 arrested him again, and, broken by his earlier sufferings, he died in the year following. His "Apology," dedicated to the Senate, printed at Bologna in 1541, outlines a noteworthy plan of internal church reform, which betrays the influence of German doctrines, and on the question of free will, the sacraments, the veneration of saints, and other points is truly Biblical. In a report which Caraffa prepared for the Curia (printed in Rivista Cristiana, Florence, 1878), two other leading heretics are mentioned. Bartolomeo Fonzio was a Venetian, incurred suspension from the priestly office in 1529, escaped to Germany, and was present at Augsburg in 1530. He was in correspondence with Butzer in 1531. It was probably Fonzio, despite his subsequent denial, who translated Luther's tract An den christlichen Adel into Italian (cf. ZKG, iv., 1880, pp. 467 sqq.). Later he was again active in Italy, and in 1558 was arrested in Cittadella, not far from Venice; he was sentenced to death and drowned, for forty-four "erroneous doctrines" extracted from his writings. When Caraffa prepared his report, mentioned above in 1532, there lived also at Venice the Florentine fugitive, Antonio Bruccioli, who rendered the movement of the Reformation great service by elucidating and printing Biblical writings in the Italian language. He was under suspicion, and so continued; and notwithstanding occasional retraction, he was repeatedly brought to trial. He died in prison in 1566. As in his case, so with others such as Fra Baldo Lupetino of Albona in Istria, and Baldassare Altieri, of Aquila in Neapolitan territory, their religious development and its sequel belong both to the first and the second period of Italian Reformation history.
(§ 3). Naples. Meanwhile the reforming doctrine had found its real and vital center in Italy, in the circle of Juan de Valdés at Naples. The biographer of Caraffa (Caraccioli, Vita di Papa Paolo IV. MS. in British Museum) with good reason declares that Naples was the "nest of heresy"; but the tradition is false that would have it that the Lutheran belief was carried thither by German soldiers after the sack of Rome in 1527. From about 1536 onward a company is found there-- scholars of Valdés, himself devoted to the fundamental doctrines of the German Reformation and influenced by mysticism--which includes the most important vehicles of the Italian Reformation: Bernardino Ochino, Pietro Martire Vermigli, Pietro Carnesacchi, Benedetto di Mantua (reviser of the little book "Of the Benefit of Christ's Death," probably by A. Palerio (q.v.); Eng. transl., London, reprint, 1855, also in W. M. Blackburn, Aonio Palerio, Philadelphia, 1866), Mario Galeata, Francesco d'Alvise of Caserta, Giovanni Bugio, Galeazzo Caraccioli, Marcantonio Flaminio, and others, who partly, it is true, never went beyond the attempt at a reform from within the Church. The central article about which all converge in the matter of doctrine is the tenet of justification by faith. Furthermore, it was immaterial to a Valdés what the external structure of the Church might be, provided it did not abridge this religious condition. He was far from intending to raise the standard of revolt against church institutions, and he was no organizer; his teachings found their way beyond the circumference whose center was marked by his ideal--pure character, illumined with profound piety--only by the accident that his writings were preserved as dear legacies by his friends. The chief service in this regard was rendered by the noblest of his pupils, Giulia Gonzaga, duchess of Traetto (see VALDÉS).
(§ 4). The Inquisition in Naples. Among the pupils of Valdés who did not exceed the boundary of a reform attempted from within the Church was Marcantonio Flaminio of Imola, highly endowed as a poet; it was he who gave to the book "Of the Benefit of Christ's Death" the form under which, according to the testimony of Vergerio, it became circulated through the land in more than forty thousand copies, though today not a single library of Italy has one impression from that period. The first blows of the reaction, when it was introduced in 1542 through the reorganization of the Inquisition at Rome (see INQUISITION), struck the two most eminent members of the circle surrounding Valdés, Ochino and Vermigli. Ochino was suspended from the preaching office; and he escaped, by flight, a summons to appear at Rome to give an account of himself. At the same time, Vermigli, who had risen to high rank in the order of the Augustinian canons, took to flight, whence he despatched to his doctrinal associates a testimonial of evangelistic faith in the guise of his Semplice dichiaragione sopra i dodici articoli della fede cristiana. Presently the reaction directed its attention to a third member of the Neapolitan circle; viz., Pietro Carnesecchi (b. in Florence 1508), who had held high stations under the Curia. After he had avoided the Inquisition during a sojourn of many years abroad and in Venice, he was brought to trial by Pope Paul IV., and escaped for the time, after having been summoned twice, through the pope's death, and the destruction of the documentary charges against Carnesecchi, on occasion of the storm upon the Inquisition's building in 1559. Pius V. retrieved the matter and Carnesecchi, whose correspondence with Giulia Gonzaga formed the basis of a second trial, was executed with other "heretics" on Oct. 1, 1567. Among the victims of the Inquisition, not a few were of Neapolitan origin; and they all belonged to the very great numbers whom the viceroy's complacency delivered, year in, year out, to the Curia, though the Spanish Inquisition was not allowed to operate in the kingdom proper, and an attempt to introduce it in 1547 had been frustrated by a sanguinary insurrection of the populace. The viceroy's complacent disposition was also proved at the death of Giulia Gonzaga in 1566, when he seized her correspondence and despatched it to Rome. By his long years of superintending the Inquisition Pius V. acquired the most exact acquaintance with the situation, and he renewed and intensified the tribunal's activity so that he won the name of Fra Michele dell' Inquisizione. A storm of persecution covered all parts of Italy in the years of his pontificate (1566-1572). Concerning the victims only defective information remains, but it put an end to the reforming movement.
(§ 5). In South and Central Italy. With reference to the additional victims apprehended in the south, some information is given in Luigi Amabile's Il santo offizio della inquisizione in Napoli (2 vols., Città di Castello, 1892). Nothing short of wholesale murder was perpetrated in that quarter in 1560 and 1561 upon the Evangelical inhabitants of San Sisto and La Guardia. Moreover, the Holy Office's barge plied regularly back and forth between Naples and Ostia, incessantly bringing new "suspects" before the tribunal. The numbers of emigrants--or rather fugitives--for the faith from Sicily and the kingdom continually increased--so far, at least, as this item can be checked at Geneva, where many sought refuge (cf. J. Galiffe, Le Refuge italien de Genève, Geneva, 1881). For southern and central Italy, some acceptable information is furnished by a protocol-book of the Roman Inquisition for the years 1564-67, which contains the sentences decreed against heretics during that period (cf. Revista Cristiana, 1879-80). How matters looked and fared in the Roman Inquisition's prison is reported by the younger Camerarius, who was himself under arrest there, in 1565, whose Relatio vera was printed by J. G. Schelhorn (De vita, fatis ac meritis Philippi Camerarii, Nuremburg, 1749). Camerarius was confined in the upper story, "where one is in the bake-oven"; others were below, "in so damp a hole that it is past understanding how men can exist in that grave." Frequently monks came in to make attempts at conversion, Dominicans for the most part, once Petrus Canisius, the Jesuit. Among their fellow captives were spies. Camerarius and his fellow countryman, Peter Rieter, were liberated through the rigorous intercession of Emperor Maximilian II., to whom appeal had been made. On June 23, 1566, there was "public abjuration" of twenty-three who were under charge, who, for the most part, had been sentenced to perpetual confinement, or to the rigor of the galleys. After that, sentence was pronounced upon the Neapolitan nobleman, Pompeo de' Monti, who was beheaded near the bridge of Sant' Angelo, on July 4, 1566. Still other victims who were executed in Rome are named in the roll of Italian Reformation martyrs; three of them so early as under Julius III., Fanino of Faenza, Domenico of Bassano, and the Augustinian Giuliano; later, two others, Giovanni Buzio (also named Mollio), of Montalcino, and an unknown of Perugia; under Paul IV., the noble youth Pomponio Algieri of Nola was burned, and how many at that time were still confronted with a similar fate may be inferred from the fact that on the death of this pope in 1559, when the people's rage broke open the prison doors, no fewer than seventy heretics were set free.
(§ 6). The Later Period in Italy. Better information exists as to what occurred from the beginning of the energetic reaction at Venice and in its dominion, than with reference to events and the scope of repression in southern and central Italy. At Venice, the outcome of the movement was connected with the general political situation, and the senate, from the time of the downfall of the Protestant party in Germany through the Schmalkald War, waived whatever considerations it had previously conceded to their wishes, and showed itself much more amenable to the Curia than was formerly the case. Meantime a new religious movement had sprung up in Venice. In 1550, Julius III. affirmed that 1,000 Venetians might be counted as belonging to the Anabaptist sect. A new group thus comes to the light, inasmuch as the earlier advocates of the Reformation belonged not to the radical, but to the conservative Reformation, as espoused by Luther. Both currents are in collateral progress from the middle of the century, and both command eminent names; but the attitude of mutual antagonism on the part of their champions contributed even more than the brute force of their common foe to nullify the movement itself. Among advocates of the conservative Reformation are to be named men such as Pietro Speziali (in Cittadella) and Francesco Spiera (q.v.). Now, too, the previously mentioned Fra Baldo Lupetino was seized by his fate; and only for a little while longer could Baldassare Altieri of Aquila, who had been in correspondence with Luther, Bullinger, and others still work in the wake of the Schmalkald party's defeat after he was compelled to leave Venice in 1549. A transition to the steadily growing Anabaptist party is afforded by Francesco Negri of Bassano; in a measure, as well, by Celio Secondo Curione. The proper father, however, of the Italian Anabaptists was Camillo of Sicily, who, after his conversion, styled himself "Renato." His system is quite spiritualistic; whoever is elected receives the "spirit"; the children of the "spirit" merely slumber in death, to enter upon a higher form of being thereafter; the rest fall away to destruction. The sacraments are only emblems; Christ is above all a divinely favored man; and more of the same sort. Their theological foundations were fixed in a "council," organized, by sixty of their representatives, at Venice in 1550; though not, indeed, without the separation of a more moderate from the radical faction, so that henceforth there are three distinct groups, instead of two, as previously, of Protestantism in Italy. In the subsequent fate of the Anabaptist congregations, which became closely affiliated with the center of the moderate Anabaptist cause at Nikolsburg in Moravia, two brilliant martyr names are encountered in the period when the storm began to rage: Giulio Gherlandi and Francesco della Saga, who fell a sacrifice to the Venetian Inquisition in 1565. Among advocates of the Reformation in Venetian territory may lastly be named Bishop Pier Paolo Vergerio, because, according to his own acknowledgment, the truth of the Gospel indelibly impressed itself upon him at Padua, by the sick-bed of the unfortunate Spiera; and because the inquisition at Venice subjected him to a tedious course of trial. This disputatious battler wielded an inexhaustible store of fresh weapons against the Roman Church out of the armory of his own experience and exact knowledge of the hierarchy; although he did not equal the men of the first generation in disinterested devotion to truth, in courage and joy of sacrifice. Neither can his writings be justly compared with the other products of the movement, as some of them are revealed in the Biblioteca della Riforma Italiana (6 vols., Florence, 1881-86).
(§ 7). Italian Reformation Writings. Among the writings of the Italian Reformation, besides the invaluable yield of Juan de Valdés, the previously cited little book "Of the Benefit of Christ's Death" fills an honorable place. There may also be mentioned the fact that the Sommario della Sacra Scrittura was no less effective, although it was not Italian originally, but a recast Middle Low German (Dutch) work, dating from the decade 1520-30. A collection of the literature of the Reformation in Italy after the plan followed by E. Böhmer for the Spanish Reformation in the Bibliotheca Wiffeniana is much to be desired. Rich contributions toward the project would be supplied by the serial volumes of Rivista Cristiana from 1873; and a considerable portion of the original issues are to be found collected in the library accumulated by Count Piero Guicciardini, and made over to the national library of Florence. Long forgotten and concealed, hardly discoverable in their own country, these writings bear witness to the high mental significance of that minority which once existed in the land of the popes and fought under the banner of reform.