The Italian States in Contrast with the Counter-Reformation Part II

And if with the Angevins, then with Ferdinand the Catholic, there had been some loosening of brakes, now Philip II returned to being firm and combative, he forbade Tridentine decrees from being published, he stood up to fiscal and judicial requests: as in Spain, so in Italian possessions. Savoy, Genoa, Lucca, Venice reacted; indeed, Venice engaged in a real battle, of great significance and of great resonance. Frequent causes of collisions between Venice and Rome had been, for a long time, Ferrara and Comacchio and Ravenna and the cities of Romagna. At the end of the 1500s, when Clement VIII confiscated Ferrara, the Venetians supported the cause of the ousted Cesare d’Este. No less, the ecclesiastical policy of the republic, very firm, constantly, was the cause of shocks. in limiting purchases and the free disposal of real estate, in making the construction of new religious buildings subject to the consent of the republic, in prohibiting appeals to Rome, in excluding from public offices those who had ties to the curia, in supervising trials of heresy.

According to transporthint.com, all this constituted a certain guarantee of intellectual freedom as well. Could the republic have allowed the University of Padua to be ruined, perhaps more frequented than any other Italian and foreign university? In short, in the second half of the 16th century Venice was more anti-insurance than any Italian state. On the one hand, always in arms against the Turks; on the other, always vigilant before the Church. Here we found, intact, the old Italian laity, formed in the cities, that of the Machiavelli and Guicciardini, expert in distinguishing religion and politics, firm in facing all theocratic defilements. With this difference, in relation to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: that at that time, the municipality had against itself a large part of the clergy of the city, more tied to Rome than to the city. In Venice, on the other hand, the clergy are in solidarity with the republic; and sometimes only the regular clergy, Jesuits and Capuchins, obey the pope. It is now argued more than ever that the privileges of the Church and of the clerics, they now say even more clearly that they never said, are not privileges of divine right, conferred by the councils or by the will of the pope, but are a concession of the prince; they do not concern the spiritual sphere but the temporal sphere, in which the prince is sovereign, subject to respect for divine law. This is what Paolo Sarpi, theologian and advocate of the republic said in Venice, at the beginning of the 17th century, when, due to a secular forum incident to be applied to certain clerics guilty of common crimes, the famous controversy broke out between 1605 and 1606. This dispute was not without some danger for the curia. nor without some moral flaw in the building that it had erected: the danger of starting a great fire, of pushing Venice towards the Protestants, of provoking interventions by France and Spain, of exciting other Italian princes who equally had jurisdictional ambitions. Carlo Emanuele di Savoia, for example, sympathized with Venice. And it was this sympathy, it was the fear that the conflict would give occasion to interventions by Spain and France, he thought of an agreement of Italian states not loyal to the curia, indeed to make some complaints to the curia, and in the meantime prevent those interventions. And much went to that end.

It was, juridically, a peace of compromise; although, morally, a victory for Venice, as admitted by Pope Gregory XV himself, successor of Paul V, who saw strengthened the position of the states and their opposition to the curia. In Europe between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the republic of San Marco was what, in Europe of 1200, Federico II. Naples and Venice: the two states of Italy that with greater energy and continuity have faced the Church for centuries, giving life to works of thought that enriched the life of the laity and strengthened their position in front of the curia. In the kingdom, the proclamations and protests of Frederick II and Pier della Vigna, the  Istoria del Regno di Napoli  by Giannone; in Venice, in addition to the legal writings published in the heat of the struggle, the  History of the Tridentine Council by Paolo Sarpi. This book continued in the historical field the struggle already fought in the juridical and dogmatic field. Therefore, the political action of Sarpi and his work as a historian of the Council are one and the same. And with both, Sarpi and Venice were at the center of a vast movement, they acted as a lever to undermine certain positions of the papacy, they acted widely on the world: with all the greater effectiveness, as they moved in the orbit externally orthodox. They represented the opposition of some Catholic princes which the struggle against Protestantism itself had reinvigorated. Thus Rome saw the unity of its doctrine restored in part of Europe, but that unity as a juridical organization was also affected. Beginning of not far decadence of the papacy’s policy, just in the same times that it was registering its great victory.

The Italian States in Contrast with the Counter-Reformation 2

About the author