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

Giordano Bruno and Paolo Sarpi: philosophical thought, political and scientific thought. The fruits of the Renaissance ripened. A period full of men like this, this between the ‘500 and the’ 600; men linked by spiritual kinship, men of a civilization, of a nation, capable of increasing its ideal heritage and cementing its unitary life. We still remember Tommaso Campanella and Galileo Galilei, who also lived dangerously, in an adverse climate, even though they reflected profound needs, and represented tendencies destined to triumph. Campanella conspired, in Calabria, against the Spaniards. But more than anti-Spanish conspiracies, he pursued grandiose plans of social renewal, of the return of men to nature, of equality between them, except for the distinctions made by nature itself, without poverty and without wealth and related evils. The city of the sun, all a pantheistic sense; then he turned to longing for a papal theocracy, that is, a single government of the world, spiritual and political at the same time, personified by the pontiff who would have exercised it by means of principles, a remedy against wars and schisms and evils of humanity; finally, abandoning the political plans, he dreamed of a grandiose action of purely religious propaganda and reconquest, to be carried out personally, to lead the Protestants back to the Church, to force the infidels to recognize the true faith. Here we note, not Campanella’s philosophy but the tragedy of this life, his clash now with Spain, now with Rome. Echoes and resonances of the Counter-Reformation are in this friar and philosopher. He too suffered the fascination of the restored papal Rome, he warmed up for religious unity, he seemed to yearn for theocracy. But he recognized life’s intrinsic value and noble ends; man saw him, essentially, in the world, with its political, social, moral problems, and exalted him as creator and ruler, by virtue of his thought; in the papacy he also saw a means of Italian independence, a factor of greatness for Italy, which he glorified in the maritime traditions of Genoa and Pisa and Venice, in his discoverers of new worlds, Columbus or Galilei. The latter was another nature, another culture; but he brought to the highest degree tendencies and attitudes that were also Campanella’s: the appreciation of knowledge not only in itself, but also in view of the ends that can be drawn from it; the desire and confidence to get to know nature better, in order to be able to put it at the service of man. In addition to the phenomena of heaven, he too turns to the facts of the earth,

According to, this synthetic manifestation of the Italian Renaissance, which was philosophical thought and the science of nature, which reached maturity in the second half of the 1500s and the beginning of the 1600s, had great expansive vigor: although outside Italy a certain reaction to influences had begun Italian intellectuals. The new literary France now aspired to full emancipation; against Machiavelli, in France and in England, a war was moving which seemed to be a crusade and which affected the whole of Italian life. In this aversion to Machiavelli, which later resulted in a marked aversion to Maria de ‘Medici, guilty, as she was accused, of having placed Machiavelli instead of Scripture in the hands of her children, Catholic and Calvinist agreements were found and France was almost its unity. And yet, Torquato Tasso’s poetry had a strong influence on German poetry; the new architecture of the Counter-Reformation, which had its first monuments in Rome, rapidly imposed itself everywhere, especially in Catholic countries; Italian music, after Palestrina, began its march around the world. In England, Shakespeare drew heavily from Italian short stories, as well as from the classical tradition, for his theater, approaching the Italian world also through Italians who lived in England, such as Giovanni Florio, of Florentine origin. So too did Italian philosophical thought, which at the end of the 16th century already penetrated many countries: in Germany, and also in France and England. Indeed, its development took place outside Italy more than in Italy; in the same way that the physical sciences also found elsewhere, more than in Italy,

Because, judge this epoch of the history of Italy as you wish; despite the advantages which, with the maintenance of religious unity and with the restraints placed on a certain rampant literary corruption, came to Italy from the victory of certain forces of conservation and restoration; it must also be admitted that, in the era of the Counter-Reformation, of the Church dominated by the hierarchy and by international orders, the life of culture became more difficult in Italy. Even in that the Counter-Reformation was not an imposition from outside but a spontaneous attitude of the Italian and European spirit; even as it was, under certain relationships, the development of the previous age, a synthesis of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; since it represented not only a conception of life, but also the interests of classes and classes and governments, it ended up acting as a force in itself.

The Italian States in Contrast with the Counter-Reformation 3

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