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From Venetian visitor to curial humanist: the development of Agostino Steuco's "counter"-Reformation thought.

THE STUDY OF ITALIAN humanism in the age of the Reformation has focused almost exclusively on the relationship between humanism and the Italian Spirituali. This emphasis can be traced back to the many works of Delio Cantimori. Cantimori persistently argued that humanism, with its emphasis on scriptural studies, philology, and spiritual and ecclesiastical renewal promoted evangelical spirituality and church reform among Italians. He saw the Spirituali -- many of whom were humanists -- as pious, devout individuals caught between their own evangelical convictions and the traditions of a spiritually unsatisfying and morally corrupt ecclesiastical system. It was the dynamics of this spiritual crisis, fueled by the clash between evangelism and the doctrines of the church, that formed the basis of many of Cantimori's works on humanism and reform in Italy.(1)

Recent scholarship forces us to rethink the interplay between humanism and reform in Italy as outlined by Cantimori. Studies on Pier Paolo Vergerio, Reginald Pole, Gasparo Contarini, and Gregorio Cortese have analyzed the career and writings of these figures against a background of familial, civic, and political concerns. The picture that emerges from these studies is one in which concrete social and political forces played an important role in shaping religious beliefs and sharply limited or spurred the degree to which an individual was prepared to embrace reform. These studies are particularly important for understanding humanism and reform because they situate humanists within a cultural context and demonstrate how, thus positioned, they worked out their ideas on reform.(2)

This new direction in research represents a part of a "post-Cantimori paradigm shift" which seeks to substantially refocus attention on the issues and participants that shaped the debate on reform in Pre-Tridentine Italy. Essential to this paradigm shift is an awareness of how religion and the sacred permeated all aspects of life in sixteenth-century Italy. The struggle for reform was intense precisely because the religious practices and institutions through which Italians traditionally gained their salvation also undergirt the social and political systems of Renaissance urban culture. Consequently, the issue of reform left hardly any facet of life untouched.(3)

While bringing a much needed degree of nuance to the study of humanism and religious thought in early sixteenth-century Italy, this scholarship still concentrates overwhelmingly on the Spirituali and the humanist sympathizers of Luther and Erasmus. Yet this ignores a vast number of Italian humanists who defended the hierarchy and institutions of the Church and who, unlike the Spirituali, never argued against the necessity of good works in salvation.(4) It seems to me however, that post-Cantimori scholarship now provides a model for understanding Counter-Reformation humanism as a major expression of Italian culture and religious thought.

Close inspection of the careers and writings of Counter-Reformation humanists will show that a great deal of the hostility these men displayed toward reform and Pauline spirituality had its roots in the civic and social setting in which they wrote. Moreover, just as familial concerns and political issues shaped the ideas of the Spirituali, so, too, must we determine the extent to which ties of patronage and political institutions influenced the ideas of these humanists who opposed reform.

Analyzing humanists' Counter-Reformation thought within the context of the richly textured culture in which they operated in no way diminishes their contribution to the debate. To the contrary, such an analysis will produce a clearer picture of the important role these humanists played in shaping Italian attitudes toward reform. Humanist arguments against reform provide a guide to the social and political network in which they moved. Having situated humanists within their cultural milieu, their arguments should be analyzed to show how specific social and political concerns combined with their religious beliefs to shape their hostility to reform. Long ignored, humanist Counter-Reformation writings are a valuable source from which to study the myriad ways that religion and the sacred permeated the political and social institutions of sixteenth-century Italy. Studies using these sources must be sensitive to how humanist opposition to reform oftentimes was rooted in an acute awareness of this dynamic fusion of religion, politics, and society. Detailed along these lines, a knowledge of Counter-Reformation humanism can play an instrumental role in allowing historians to grasp the complex cultural issues that influenced the response to reform on all levels of society and on both sides of the debate in pre-Tridentine Italy.

The career and writings of Agostino Steuco (1497-1548) offer an exceptionally rich example of how ties of patronage and specific political and social institutions shaped a Counter-Reformation humanist's views on reform.(5) Here recent studies detailing the civic and social institutions of Renaissance Venice and Rome provide a textured background for our analysis. These studies enable us to demonstrate the close relationship that existed between Steuco's arguments in defense of contemporary forms of Catholic worship and the specific civic context in which he wrote.

All told, Steuco spent sixteen years in Renaissance Venice and Rome and left behind him an intriguing paper trail that shows a dramatic development in his counter-reform thought. This development is explained to a large degree by the social and political setting in which he wrote. During a four-year stay in Venice (1525-29) he authored several scholarly and polemical works. Chief among these was a treatise he published in 1530 entitled, Pro religione christiana adversus Lutheranos.(6) In this work Venetian republican ideas and patrician dominance of the city shaped his response to the reformers as he defended Catholic rituals and notions of the sacred.

Writing during the dogeship of Andrea Gritti (1523-38), Steuco observed first hand the efforts of the doge and his political allies to deal with a volatile social and political situation caused by a contracting economy and twenty years of nearly unbroken warfare. Working on a broad front, Gritti and his patrician followers sought a renovatio of the traditional republican values and institutions that had undergirt the republic at the height of its power in the Quattrocento. An emphasis on traditional morality and virtuous civic behavior went hand in hand with an attempt to make Venice a major cultural and intellectual center under Gritti. This theme of renovatio and the social and political crises that called it forth, inform much of what Steuco wrote in defense of traditional forms of Catholic worship while in Venice.(7)

Toward the end of a twelve year stay at the papal court in Rome (1536-48), Steuco wrote a blistering attack against Lorenzo Valla entitled Contra Laurentium Vallam, de falsa donatione Constantini, libri duo.(8) Coming some seventeen years after his Venetian work, this treatise defended many of the same Catholic traditions and symbols of the divine that his early work had attempted to justify. But the Renaissance papacy exercised monarchical domination over the city of Rome and over a powerful state in central Italy. Following his predecessors, Paul III continued to emphasize the papacy as heir to the political power of imperial Rome and vigorously pursued a policy of renovatio imperii. Hence, Steuco was led to rearticulate many of his earlier Counter-Reformation arguments in a decidedly anti-republican fashion. Papal desires for empire and continued political independence, together with the realities of urban unrest in Rome, now distinctly color his notions concerning religion, rituals, and the sacred.(9)

Let us follow Steuco's paper trail from Venice to Rome and examine the ideas that are central to his Counter-Reformation thought. As we do so, we especially will be concerned with showing how his defense of the sixteenth-century church developed in response to the social and political institutions around him in Italy.

Taken from another angle, this investigation will reveal that for a number of Italian humanists, religious reform along Protestant lines meant the destruction of institutions and traditions essential for social and civic stability in Italy. This aspect of humanist Counter-Reformation thought takes on added importance in the later years of the Reformation. On the eve of the Council of Trent this same concern for the political and civic role of religious ceremonies and the sacred will act as a major impetus among Roman humanists for resisting reform of the papal monarchy at Trent.

Steuco's Adversus Lutheranos would explore the themes of renovatio urbis and the sacred as they intertwined in the social, civic, and religious fabric of Venetian life. Yet in many ways, his own career in Venice was a microcosm of the interplay between renovatio and the traditions of late medieval piety as they existed in the city in the 1520s.

Steuco came to Venice under the patronage of the powerful Grimani family. While attending the University of Bologna (1518-25) he had received considerable training in textual criticism, languages, philology, and history. Scholarly expertise in these fields earned him the job as librarian of the vast manuscript collection in Venice that Cardinal Domenico Grimani had bequeathed to a major house of Augustinian Canons located there. A member of the Augustinian Canons himself, Steuco had impressed both his religious superiors and the Grimani sufficiently to capture this important post.(10)

Upon his arrival in Venice, Steuco took up residence with the Augustinian Canons of Sant Antonio di Castello. This monastery, a center of humanist learning, had long been under the patronage of the Grimani family. Cardinal Domenico Grimani, a patron of humanism with a deep interest in biblical scholarship and neo-Platonism, had deeded to the canons at Sant Antonio a great portion of his extensive library. This substantial endowment, which included many manuscripts and printed works that had once belonged to Pico della Mirandola, was especially rich in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic works, as well as patristic authors and philosophical writings. To house this exceptional collection of scholarly works, Domenico Grimani underwrote the construction of a new library at the monastery.(11)

Cardinal Grimani's endowment of Sant Antonio with his library, and the erection of an edifice suitable to house and make available his collection to scholars, was freighted with all the spiritual and social expectations of patronage in the late medieval church. But Grimani's actions were not incidental to Gritti's program of renovatio. The Doge and his patrician allies in the 1520s were determined to make Venice a center of humanist scholarship and learning of the first rank.(12)

The foundation for this humanist activity had deep roots in Venetian culture. The Venetian humanists Ermolao Barbaro (1453-93) and Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) had pioneered a methodology of textual emendation based upon an exacting collation of ancient manuscripts and philological expertise. Fundamental for recovering the original reading and meaning of ancient texts, Barbaro's methodology would be essential to Aldo Manuzio's success in printing first-rate texts of every genre in Venice. It was this manuscript-based, philologically-oriented scholarship that the partisans of Venetian cultural revival patronized.(13)

Erected under the patronage of Gritti and his patrician backers, libraries such as San Marco (begun in 1536) and Sant Antonio di Castello were intended to provide the resources necessary for the arduous task of textual scholarship and humanist learning. For the republic the prestige and honor derived from this humanist activity within the city was a calculated part of the program of renovatio. Moreover, these buildings were of no small importance as tangible manifestations of the civic and cultural renewal sweeping Venice in the 1520s.(14)

Nestled within the monastery of Sant Antonio di Castello, Domenico Grimani's library represented a complex of patrician patronage, piety, humanism, and renewal that made the choice of its first custodian no small matter. When Domenico Grimani died in December 1523, his nephew Marino stepped in to oversee the affairs of the library. The younger Grimani shared his uncle's enthusiasm for humanist scholarship and biblical studies, and he, too, was a supporter of Gritti's program of renovatio.(15)

No evidence has surfaced linking Steuco's appointment directly to Domenico Grimani, but good evidence from the humanist's own hand suggests that both the older cardinal and his nephew took a great interest in bringing him to Venice. Steuco's first published work as custodian of the library was a set of annotations on Jerome's Vulgate Old Testament text, entitled Veteris Testamenti ad Hebraicam veritatem recognitio.(16) Steuco dedicated this work to Marino and thanked him for placing the resources of the library at his disposal. He lavished further praise upon both Domenico and Marino for working to create such a remarkable and unsurpassed collection of scholarly works in Venice. Clearly the young humanist was situating himself within the Grimani patronage network.(17)

These Old Testament annotations are a cultural and intellectual work of the first importance for the study of humanism and the theme of renovatio in Venice in the 1520s. What Steuco produced were a set of critical emendations of Jerome's Old Testament Latin text, based upon extensive use of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts in the Grimani Library. His use of history, philology, and collateral texts to guide his manuscript-based corrections closely identified his scholarship with that of Ermolao Barbaro and Pietro Bembo. Equally impressive, his use of medieval Jewish commentators and the works of the Greek and Latin fathers allowed him to explain the literal sense of the text according to the best ancient authorities. Printed by the Aldine press (1529), Steuco's pioneering set of Old Testament annotatios soon exerted a wide influence among biblical scholars throughout Europe.(18)

These annotations could not have served the program of renovatio any better. Reaching a large cultivated audience, they gave stunning evidence to the high calibre of humanist scholarship that thrived in Venice in the 1520s. Of equal importance, Steuco's dedication made it clear the Venetian patricians were at the forefront in creating a hospitable environment and providing substantial support for humanism in the republic.(19)

The Recognitio Veteris Testamenti provides a good example of how the sacred, social, and political concerns behind the theme of renovatio worked to shape Steuco's humanist activity in Venice. But this same work also warns us against seeing him simply as a tool at the hands of a patrician elite determined to polish the image and reputation of the republic.

A number of ideas expressed in his scholarly notes set Steuco at odds with his Venetian patrons, as well as against a growing sympathy for religious renewal as it was taking shape in Venice. This work also identified him with a small but powerful group of Venetians that emerged in the 1520s that was strongly pro-Roman, in sharp contrast with traditional Venetian attitudes towards the papacy.(20)

For Steuco a major goal of his annotations was to defend the traditions and forms of worship found in the late medieval church. His Old Testament scholarship enabled him to argue that many of the doctrines and religious rituals currently in use were based on the Old Testament text and hence of divine origin.(21) On numerous occasions he left off collating his ancient manuscripts to lash out at the critics of the Catholic cult. These men with their caviling, he complained, were turning Christians away from the ceremonies and rituals of the church.(22) Steuco thus used his annotations to position himself as a fervent proponent of the external forms of worship that gave expression to late medieval piety.

Several times the Old Testament text also offered the Italian humanist the opportunity to speak out in defense of the papacy. Defending the hierarchical claims of a pope besieged by schismatics, he argued that the pope alone exercised supreme authority in the spiritual and doctrinal affairs of the church.(23)

These positions--oftentimes at odds with mainstream Venetian attitudes--reveal an orientation and set of perceptions in Steuco's thought that inform all of his Counter-Reformation writings. Already discernible in his annotations, these elements become more pronounced in each succeeding polemical work.

The fundamental tenets of Steuco's Counter-Reformation thought outlined here give nuance to his position as a humanist in the Venetian social and political world of the 1520s. For many in his Venetian audience, these annotations carried a sharp polemical edge. The scholars, educated laymen and clergy who delved into them, quickly learned that their author was highly antagonistic toward the northern reformers and critics of the late medieval church. Few who read Steuco's work could miss the repeated barbs that he flung at both Erasmus and Luther for their frequent attacks upon ecclesiastical institutions and popular forms of piety.(24)

Renaissance Venice of course had produced many reformers who were extremely critical of ecclesiastical institutions and Catholic cult practices. Ludovico Barbo (1381-1443), who founded the Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine monks, and Tomasso Giustiniani (1476-1528) and Vincenzo Quirini (c. 1479-1514), authors of the reform treatise entitled Libellus ad Leonem X (1513), encountered widespread support in Venice for their reform activities.(25) Not surprisingly, both Erasmus and Luther found a responsive Venetian audience when they launched their attacks upon the corrupt ecclesiastical bureaucracy of Rome and against the dismal state of religious institutions on all levels.(26)

In attacking Erasmus in his annotations, Steuco thus pitted himself against a very propular figure in Venice. But this attack on the Dutch humanist is even more surprising given the long friendship that had flourished between the Grimani and Erasmus. Both Domenico and Marino had given constant support to Erasmus in Italy since 1509, when the three had met in Rome.(27) Steuco's willingness to strike out at Erasmus, despite his widespread support among the Venetians, is a strong indication that he was quite capable of giving full expression to his personal convictions and flying in the face of expected social or public conformity, if these countered his own deeply held views.

When he defended the externals of religious worship, Steuco articulated another issue that set him at odds with a growing number of Venetians. By the late 1520s Italian evangelism had found many adherents in Venice. The evangelicals or Spirituali, drawing inspiration from the letters of Saint Paul, stressed the role of grace in salvation and deemphasized the need for religious rituals and ceremonies. Inherent in the evangelical emphasis upon a heightened inner spirituality was the drive to reform the Catholic cult and to return to the simple faith of the early Apostolic church.(28)

Gasparo Contarini is perhaps the most studied of all the Venetian evangelicals, and his spiritual odyssey to a Pauline position on grace by 1511 is well known. But recent scholarship has demonstrated that by the mid-1520s a considerable number of patricians as well as popolani swelled the ranks of the Spirituali in Venic.(29) Moreover, to these evangelicals, Erasmus's teaching on the philosophia Christi and Luther's insistence on salvation ex sola fide appeared highly compatible with their own views on Pauline spirituality. Thus, by the end of the decade both Luther and Erasmus exerted a substantial influence on reform and spiritual renewal in Venice. A complex chorus of voices made up of moderate Catholic reformers, evangelicals, Erasmians, and ardent followers of Luther all expressed dissatisfaction with the institutions and spiritual nourishment found in the church. To some degree each of these groups influenced and was sympathetic with the others. Moreover, ideological and doctrinal lines were not clearly drawn as reformers in Venice sought their inspiration from a variety of sources. Steuco's annotations adumbrated his opposition to this amorphous group. (30)

Steuco's insistence on papal supremacy in the affairs of the church also would have encountered opposition from many quarters in Venice. Venetians had long insisted that their church, like their republic, owed its origins to Saint Mark. Venetian historiographers and mythmakers used the supposed apostolic origins of the Venetian church to claim a rough parity with the church of Rome. The close association of the sacred with the social and political fabric of the republic further inhibited outside interference in the religious institutions and spiritual affairs of the Venetian church.(31)

After Agnadello (1509), however, a growing number of powerful patrician families--the Grimani, Foscari, Pisani, and Foscarini among them--began favoring Roman interests in Venice. Linked to Rome and the apostolic see through high church or political office, these families found it in their own interests to support papal claims of authority in spiritual and ecclesiastical affairs.(32) Steuco shared the pro-papal sentiments of his Grimani patrons. In holding this position though, he placed himself in opposition to traditional Venetian sentiment towards the all-encompassing spiritual claims of Rome.

The complex set of ideas contained in his annotations thus reveal the dynamics that existed between Steuco's own convictions and the social and cultural views around him. His beliefs frequently clashed with prevailing attitudes in Venice. This was especially true concerning Venetian sympathy towards reform and the widespread interest in inner piety and spirituality found in the republic.

This raised a serious problem for Steuco. Like many other humanists he showed a profound interest in the moral and social condition of man. Since the days of Bruni and Salutati, Florentine humanists had extolled the active life and sought to imbue men with a sense of civic and social virtue. In Venice humanists wrote and taught extensively on the virtues befitting a good father and citizen and strove to give young patricians a lasting appreciation for civic and political behavior that would render them conscientious rulers of the republic.(33)

Steuco shared this humanist concern for man as a political, social, and civic creature. But to his mind, morality and acceptable social behavior were dependent upon the presence of the sacred in the daily lives of men. This conviction is fundamental to his Counter-Reformation thought and did much to shape his response to the Reformation. Consequently, he regarded the growing sentiment for reform and spiritual renewal in the republic as inimical to the Venetians' social, civic, and political well-being. It was in order to convince the Venetians of the seriousness of this threat that he wrote the Adversus Lutheranos.

In writing his Counter-Reformation polemic Steuco displayed an acute sensitivity to the guiding principles of the Venetian civic consensus, acknowledging the priorities of harmony, stability, and simplicity set forward during the age dominated by Andrea Gritti. Attuned to the patrician plan of renovatio, he sought to demonstrate that traditional religious observance was essential for the social and civic welfare of the Republic.

At the core of Gritti's plan for a rejuvenated Venice was a return to the piety and social tranquility that had allowed fifteenth-century Venice to impress contemporaries as the most stable of all European states.(34) A flouting of traditional morality and equalitarian modesty had coincided with the expansion of Venice onto the terra firma. After Agnadello critics such as Girolamo Priuli and Marin Sanudo began to voice the popular opinion that moral corruption, vice, and luxury had been the root cause for Venice's political demise on land and sea.(35)

To these and other observers, lax morality and corruption had sapped Venice of its strength and allowed the republic to be pushed to the brink of destruction in the war against the League of Cambrai. More than this, there was the inescapable sense that misfortune in war was divine punishment visited upon Venice for impiety and transgression of Christian virtues. Analysts of the defeat at Agnadello, like Priuli, who voiced this opinion, clearly articulated the perceived connection that existed between the political fortunes of the republic and the moral state of its citizens.(36)

But if a falling away from the old republican virtues had led to agonizing defeats in war, the ensuing social and economic upheavals that accompanied the Italian wars further exacerbated the social and political turmoil in the city. By the late 1520s poverty, homelessness, and hunger had reached crisis proportions in the city as refugees poured into Venice from the countryside. Plague and famine further swelled the number of people flowing into Venice in the last years of the decade. Amid this volatile dislocation, crime reached an all time high in the city.(37)

Faced with a debilitating political and social situation, Gritti and his patrician partisans launched their program to recapture the civic virtues and morality that had contributed to the political and domestic stability of the early republic. The doge himself set an example of republican modesty in the restrained architectural style of his own palace. Private luxury was censured and publicly attacked through sumptuary laws. A major campaign was launched to curb the power of patrician magistrates to administer justice in an arbitrary, partisan fashion. Festivals and plays giving occasion for licentious or unseemly behavior were criticized and, where possible, modified to promote more decorous conduct.(38)

In the midst of this patrician-dominated campaign to establish social and political stability in Venice, Steuco took up his defense of the externalized forms of the Catholic faith. Ostensibly the Adversus Lutheranos is directed against the northern "heretics," and Steuco is not reluctant to identify the principals here as Luther and Erasmus. But his arguments show that he is equally if not more concerned with the growing number of evangelicals in Venice and the many sympathizers that Luther and Erasmus had found in the republic.(39)

Having lived in Venice for several years, Steuco experienced first hand the wide tolerance the Venetian government exhibited toward Christians who deviated from traditional doctrine or who criticized the cult practices of the late medieval church. Made tolerant through centuries of experience overseeing a trans-Mediterranean trade with Greek and Islamic people, the Venetian government in the 1520s was slow to circumscribe the religious activities of the northern Protestants and Italian Spirituali living in the city. (40)

Indeed, far from posing a threat to Venice, the religious beliefs of the evangelicals appeared to be highly compatible with the institutions and general orientation of the republic. An independence from Rome and the traditional ecclesiastical hierarchy, an emphasis on the vita activa and engagement in the civic life, and a desire to return to cult simplicity of the early church were fundamental tenets of Venetian evangelism. All of these aspects of spiritual renewal and reform reinforced the principles underlying Venetian republicanism in the early sixteenth century.(41)

Steuco had to be cautious in setting forth his arguments against the evangelicals and the followers of the northern reformers in Venice. Persuasion rather than coercion was the key in raising opposition to the growing numbers of Venetians who insisted upon the ability of the individual to foster an intense spiritual relationship with God apart from the mediation of rituals, the saints, and clergy.

Guided by this principle, Steuco portrayed Pauline spirituality as a disease that would destroy the virtues and institutions upon which the social and political stability of the republic rested.(42) In effect, he centered his arguments around the close integration of the sacred with the social, political, and civic life of the republic.

Renaissance Venice was a city where the localization of the sacred had long reinforced traditional civic and social values. Icons and images of the saints on street corners and in back alleys, and holy relics housed inside neighborhood churches permeated the Venetian urban arena with the sacred. Ubiquitous throughout the city, images of Mary and the saints constantly reminded Venetians of their obligations to God and to their fellow men.(43)

This sense of the sacred was reinforced through holy processions which, starting from the Piazza San Marco, spread into the outlying areas of the city. Thus, exposure to icons, relics, and holy processions fostered a widespread sense of piety among the people of Venice.(44)

We know from a variety of sources that in Venice, Christian virtues such as faith and charity, and above all else piety, were viewed as the foundation upon which the republic rested. Humanist and patrician members of the ruling elite stressed the role of piety and Christian virtues in promoting morality and adherence to traditional social and civic values.(45) Moreover, the sacred processions that penetrated the disparate neighborhoods of the city served to link these outlying areas with the sacred and political center of the Piazza San Marco. Hence, they were a major means through which the central city government overcame neighborhood insularity and promoted allegiance to itself. Not surprisingly, the patrician government traditionally had taken an active part in orchestrating religious processions, erecting devotional niches, and securing relics and icons for all areas of the city.(46)

Steuco's defense of Catholic devotional practices shows a remarkable confluence with this Venetian world of ceremonies and the sacred. In the north, he pointed out, the heretics' teachings on Pauline spirituality and reform sought to persuade people that traditional forms of worship were corrupted or useless accretions to the faith. The Lutherani argued that altars, shrines, churches, fasting, prayers, and vows of chastity were superstition. These things, they believed, had nothing to do with worshiping God, but rather rendered the soul anxious and troubled.(47)

The ideas of the northern reformers outlined here are meant to contrast sharply with traditional Venetian attitudes concerning the sacred. Religion, Steuco reminded his Venetian audience, was dependent upon tangible forms of worship, for without them men lose their sense of piety and turn away from God. He cautioned the Venetians against tolerating the heretics. The vast majority of people, he wrote, "unless they are moved outwardly by ceremonies and by divine institutions, shall lose their piety when they are taught to flee superstition."(48)

A cutely aware of the salubrious effect that the presence of the sacred exerted over men's behavior, he minced no words in pointing out the serious social and civic consequences of the reformers' ideas. He warned, "take away religion from man and you have taken from him his very nature, so that then he can be compared easily to the wild animals... For with altars and churches done away with, with the saints of God and their images abolished...indeed with ceremonies put aside, through which the outward worship of God is expressed, that good sense, present in the mind, is extinguished."(49)

Steuco here insisted that religion and piety, sustained by external forms of worship, were essential in moderating the behavior of men. Piety, he explicitly argued elsewhere in his treatise, expels all cruelty and fierceness from the mind and smooths over men's harsh and wild nature.(50) But this sense of piety, he repeatedly stated, only could be nurtured and sustained through daily contact with the sacred. Hence relics, icons, rituals, and sacred processions were essential for both the social and the spiritual life of men.(51)

Steuco's arguments clearly juxtaposed the teachings of the northern reformers with a major concern of Gritti and his patrician allies. To these men renewal of the republic was to a considerable extent felt to rest upon the revival of traditional morality and a return to modesty in food, dress, and habitat. Such behavior appeared crucial for domestic peacee as well as a return to social and political stability among all classes. Here, Christian virtues were essential in promoting republican virtues, and throughout Venice Gritti and his followers supported religious ceremonies and the sacred in an effort to foster piety.(52) Yet Steuco's warning was explicit--when the Lutheran heresy attacked the external cult, it removed those institutions and practices that promoted piety and Christian virtues among men.(53)

Reflecting the situation in Venice where the sacred imperceptibly flowed into the political and social spheres, Steuco's writing depicts a seamless unity of the sacred with the social and political life of man. Thus, he makes every effort to detail what Luther's and Erasmus's call for reform meant for the religious institutions and traditions that underpinned the stability and tranquillity of the republic. A crucial argument he makes in this regard is that among the masses, impiety and irreligiosity have accompanied the spread of the heretical doctrines. Held up to scorn and ridicule by the reformers, he said, traditional religious rituals and symbols of the divine were now viewed with contempt by the common people. Bakers, farmers, and sailors openly scoffed at the ceremonies and traditions of the church and heaped derision upon them.(54) A result of this, he charged, has been a dramatic increase in crime and immorality among the general population in the north. Chastity, confession, fasting, relics, and altars which at one time induced Christian behavior in people have now been destroyed. Moreover, charity and understanding have no place among the heretics.(55) Bereft of all piety, they quickly turn to violence and take up arms to defend their doctrines, thereby causing great discord and destruction in the community.(56)

Throughout the Adversus Lutheranos, Steuco emphasized the effects of the reformers' teachings upon the popolani. Indeed, this was a major means through which he attempted to demonstrate how reform ideas threatened the political and social order in Venice. Because morality and the destiny of the state were viewed as inseparable, the Venetian government and its numerous courts and magistracies exercised a great deal of interest in the behavior of the popolani.(57) Under Gritti, a number of laws designed to improve the morality of the general population were passed as the patrician government sought to exercise ever tighter control over the behavior of its citizens. These same years also saw the government take extreme measures to cope with the explosion in violent crime that had rocked the republic.(58)

Already struggling to maintain morality and curb crime among the popolani, the patrician government was warned by Steuco that the Lutheran heresy would only exacerbate an already critical situation. For Steuco, Germany offered convincing examples of the social unrest and violence unleashed by the removal of the sacred from the daily lives of men. And in a chilling reminder to his audience, he drew attention to the immorality and atrocities recently perpetrated by German troops on Italian soil, troops infected with this heresy.(59)

Steuco's reference to the social disturbances caused by the heretics disputing religious doctrines also hammered home a point that must have been growing painfully obvious to the Venetian government. The radical followers of Luther among the Venetian popolani, preaching solafideism and attacking traditional forms of piety, created a great deal of tension and outright hostility between themselves and their neighbors. If the government had not already done so, certainly within a year or so it would be forced to take a harsher stand against Luther's followers among the common people.(60) Pressure for social and political stability left the government increasingly little room to tolerate any sources of dissension among the people, and this was especially true in the case of religion. Steuco's remarks concerning the disharmony and social unrest produced by religious dissension again highlighted the antipathy of the reform movement to the political and social goals of Gritti's government.

The Italian humanist painted a grim picture of the future that awaited the republic if the doctrines of the northern reformers were allowed to spread. Yet at the same time, he was acutely aware that evangelical ideas had a substantial following among the patrician elite in Venice. Hence he was forced to accommodate the more radical spiritual views among the social and political hierarchy of the city. He did this by carefully articulating a twofold piety, one for a spiritual elite and the other for the average Christian. Thus, while he vociferously opposed Luther and Erasmus in this treatise, there is an underlying current of reconciliation flowing toward the Venetian Spirituali who as yet had not broken with the church.(61)

Steuco never claimed that an inner spiritual approach to God was impossible or that God could not be worshiped without the aid of rituals and ceremonies. Indeed, he praised such piety cultivated in the soul as "exalted" and "superior."(62) But the problem, he argued, was that only a small number of very sensitive, pious, and intelligent souls were capable of sustaining a purely spiritual relationship with God. The majority of people, he repeatedly asserted, needed rituals and physical manifestations of the sacred in their lives to sustain them in their devotion. This is where the reformers and their followers have erred, he said, "for they have wanted the ignorant and the wise to be equal in worshiping God. For the learned are correctly able to venerate God only in their soul and senses, those men [the Lutherani], dragging even the ignorant along according to this precept and asserting that the exterior cult was superstition, have equally abolished both forms of piety."(63)

Written in the late 1520s, Steuco's arguments made room for the Venetian patrician Spirituali within the church. While rejecting a position of extreme solafideism, he left open the possibility that the moderates among the patrician elite could continue to cultivate their personal piety, provided they respected the traditions and ceremonies of the church. Yet at the same time he worked to convince these evangelicals that while Pauline spirituality might satisfy their own religious needs, thousands of other Christians existed for whom the externalized froms of religion were essential for their spiritual welfare.(64) The fundamental presupposition underlying Steuco's argument is clear: the popolani could not be trusted to retain their piety or religion if they were allowed to follow a position of salvation through grace alone.(65)

Steuco's insistence on a twofold approach to piety, one for the elite and one for the masses, paralleled the sharp stratification that was taking place in Venice between the patrician and common classes in a number of areas.(66) The decade of the 1520s saw a hardening of the hierarchy in religion, society, and politics in the city as the patricians moved to take tighter control over the city and its inhabitants. This general movement coincided with the patricians' growing sense of self identity, which was given expression in the cultivation of behavior commensurate with their elite status.(67)

Reflecting this growing stratification is a set of arguments that Steuco advanced justifying patrician domination of religious rituals and the manipulation of the sacred in the republic. These arguments also gave explicit confirmation to the hierarchical structure that allowed the patricians to dominate the social and political life of Venice.(68)

This acknowledgement of the ruling elite's right to create and control the forms of the sacred in Venice occurred as Steuco detailed his notions on the origins of societies and cultures. Here his goal was to demonstrate that religious rituals and symbols of the divine have played a fundamental role in allowing all societies to cohere and function successfully.

Within every society, he observed, there has always existed a certain group of men who were distinguished from the masses by their wisdom and spirituality.(69) These men possessed a far deeper understanding of God and the divine than did the majority of people. Because they were imbued with great wisdom and spirituality, Steuco said, such men were the founders of religion and society for their people.(70) In their capacity as sacred and secular leaders, these men understood that no greater benefit for humanity existed than to awaken in everyone the desire to venerate God. Enlightened by God, they realized that the veneration of the divine was the foundation of human society because it made justice and harmony possible among people.(71)

Steuco argued that these priestly rulers thus deliberately set about to invest their societies with the sacred. They created devotional practices that fostered piety such as holy sacrifices, prayers, hymns, churches, and religious rituals. Through these and other means, he observed, the masses were led to worship God and filled with veneration towards Him.(72)

Steuco never gives specific examples of these sacred rulers, nor does he mention any names. But we know from the writings of other humanists who dealt with this same theme that ancient rulers such as Moses, Aaron, and the Roman king Numa Pompilius often were cited in this context. These figures fused the office of sacred and secular ruler and promoted the welfare of their societies through the creation of cult objects and sacred rituals.(73)

Here Steuco was drawing upon his skills as a humanist historian and scholar of antiquity to present a defense of the material cult. The history of all past peoples, he argued, showed that societies could not function without sacred ceremonies and symbols of the divine.(74) He couched these historical and cultural arguments in terms that the Venetian patriciate would grasp immediately. Again, he has developed his arguments to show the consequences for Venetian society if the reformers' doctrines affected Catholic practice.

The political dimensions that lie behind this set of arguments must not be ignored because they were geared fundamentally to the republican hierarchy that controlled the city. Steuco gave the historical precedent of a ruling elite exercising both sacred and secular authority. This elite was empowered by God for the good of society to create and manipulate religious rituals and symbols of the divine.

Mention has already been made of the Venetian government's overt interest in supporting icons, relics, and images as a means of imbuing the masses with piety. It also is well known that the ruling elite dominated the public ceremonies and processions held to celebrate the major religious festivals and feast days in the city.(75) Steuco's arguments added historical legitimacy to this patrician control of the sacred in Venice.

This especially is significant if we remember the unstinting efforts of the political hierarchy to associate itself publicly with the sacred through carefully staged ducal processions. These and similar processions were crucial for maintaining political stability in Venice. The ruling hierarchy gained legitimacy and respect in the eyes of the Venetians through direct association with the centers of sacred power in the city. Sanctity of office and officeholder grew as the city fathers and magistrates publicly showed their piety towards God and his saints that protected the city.(76)

The doge in particular fused the power of the sacred and secular. Marching in the ducal procession, this focus of Venetian political power represented for the bystanders the "sacred central symbol" of the event. On numerous occasions such as Good Friday and the feast of Saint Mark, the doge actually participated in the religious rites carried out inside the Basilica of San Marco.(77)

Steuco's arguments gave complete support to these and other rituals through which the patricians solidified their social and political power in Venice. He also acknowledged their ability to exercise paternal care in creating and nurturing the ceremonies and symbols of the divine that promoted civic virtues. Throughout this treatise his defense of Catholic rituals and the use of the sacred reflected political, social, and civic institutions that were dominated and defined by a small but powerful aristocratic elite.

Fueled no doubt by the success of his scholarly and Counter-Reformation writings, Steuco's career took off. After a series of appointments as prior of several houses of Augustinian Canons, in 1536 he secured a position in the household of Paul III in Rome. Steuco's move into the papal patronage network was not surprising. He had used the Adversus Lutheranos to argue at length for papal supremacy in doctrinal and ecclesiastical issues. These arguments, together with his heavy emphasis on maintaining the traditional material cult, betray the strong pro-papal bias in Steuco's thought while he was writing in Venice.(78)

Steuco had further prepared his entry into the papal court by dedicating his Venetian treatise to Alessandro Farnese just four years prior to the Cardinal's elevation to the papacy as Paul III.(79) The humanist fared quite well under the Farnese pope. In 1538 the pope personally created him Bishop of Kisamos and appointed him to "the most prominent scholarly post open to a humanist" in Rome, the papal librarianship.(80)

After a decade in Rome (1546) Steuco once again took up the defense of the material cult in his Contra Laurentium Vallam. But this treatise used a surprisingly different idiom than the one found in his Venetian polemic. The republican, aristocratic sympathies evident in the Adversus Lutheranos disappeared. Ten years in Rome sharpened his appreciation for the benefits of papal rule over the eternal city and the papal states. Importantly, he adopted the images, myths, and aspirations of the papacy commonly given expression in the writings of other Roman humanists.

Clear evidence of Steuco's new anti-republican vocabulary occurred when he praised papal control over the city, to the detriment of any local secular authorities who might have had aspirations of governing Rome. For instance, he sharply censured Lorenzo Valla for having attacked the papacy, because Valla was a Roman by birth. Steuco said that Romans should realize that without the revived papacy, Rome never would have amounted to anything after the emperors left the city. These Romans must keep in mind, he wrote, that "unless God had restored the papacy, in which Roman dignity was reborn, with Rome never having been awakened or restored, the city eventually would have become an uninhabitable, filthy dwelling place of cows and pigs."(81)

Without the papacy, he continued, the city could not have rebuilt itself. Daily the city was further improved in appearance and nobility through papal patronage of building projects. Supposing some city had arisen out of Rome's ruins, Steuco asked. He quipped that it would look like those small cities that dot the surrounding countryside, like Vetulonia, Todi, Terni, or Narni. Rome never would have reached the size that it was then without papal control of the city.(82)

Several points are worth dwelling upon here. First, Steuco's appraisal of the magnanimity of the papacy in restoring Rome to its earlier position of power and splendor is a common theme among Roman humanists.(83) As we will see, the pope's actions in this regard were considered commensurate with his position as a great temporal and spiritual ruler.

But Steuco's praise for the Renaissance papacy clearly shows the tension that existed between the papal government and the local secular magistrates. The power of this latter group was curtailed continuously by the papal government in the Renaissance and only managed to reassert itself during the papal interregna. Steuco's opinion of these local nobles and magistrates is clear; to him they were uninspired and incompetent. Left in their hands Rome would have devolved into a pigsty.(84)

The influence of papal monarchical institutions in shaping Steuco's Counter-Reformation thought also is seen in the defense of Catholic rituals and ceremonies that he set forth in his Roman treatise. Writing on the eve of the Council of Trent in 1546, Italian humanist went to great lengths to defend the temporal power and possessions of the papacy. One of his major arguments to this end was that the pope needed armed power to ensure a steady flow of revenues from the papal states into Rome. At a time when income from papal territories accounted for more than sixty percent of pal finances, it was not surprising that Steuco would emphasize the need to protect this major source of revenues.(85)

He proceeded to argue, however, that the chief reason the pope needed this income was to ensure his ability to create and protect religious rituals and tangible signs of the divine. Moreover, he insisted that this be done lavishly, and with great splendor. Religion, said Steuco, must not be allowed to fall into a sordid state. He explained:

Where there is a rich display of sacred things, there is an observance of sacred things, where piety, religion and sacred rites are performed with sacred pomp, the people, discerning these things, venerate and admire them. Sordid religion is held in contempt. Unless you have revenues to support and sustain the clergy, and unless you have the ability to adorn lavishly and render churches and other sacred areas splendid, there will be no priests, and sacred places will be deserted and fall into solitude.(86)

As in his Venetian work, Steuco insisted that religious rituals and sacred space imbued men with piety which was essential for their spiritual life. But here he also argued that churches, altars, images, and rituals, in order suitably to impress men and attract them to God, must be surrounded with pomp and splendor. Also similar to his Venetian work, this treatise emphasized the social and civic function of the cult practices and the sacred as well. These move men to piety, Steuco said, which in turn allowed them to live blessedly and with justice in all cities. But, the humanist warned, without corporeal wealth and tangible signs of the sacred, religion would not be held in veneration, nor could it long exist.(87)

This emphasis on wealth and splendor, missing in Steuco's Venetian treatise, was the result of his exposure to the ideas and the reality prevalent in papal Rome. In Venice, Gritti's program of renovatio had tried to foster a sense of republican equality among all citizens, and a major vehicle for this had been a return to simplicity in domestic and civic architecture. Venetian distaste for pomp and splendor inherent in republican ideas was further strengthened by the evangelical stress on simplicity in religious rituals and physical manifestations of the sacred as well.(88)

To the Venetians the Roman high Renaissance style of architecture employed by Antonio Sangallo, Raphael, and Baldassar Peruzzi was synonymous with the imperialistic designs of a corrupt papacy. Roman pomp and ceremonial splendor further epitomized the failings of a papacy that seemed to have abandoned its pastoral duties. Venetian critics were quick to point out that church wealth was more properly spent on the poor, the hungry, and the sick instead of lavish ceremonies or church plate.(89) In his Adversus Lutheranos, Steuco showed a sensitivity to these prevailing Venetian attitudes concerning the staging of sacred ceremonies. While urging his Venetian audience not to abandon the material cult, he insisted that sacred ceremonies be temperate and measured rather than performed immoderately or without restraint.(90)

Life at the papal court erased these notions of republican moderation from Steuco's vocabulary. Humanists and theologians alike in Renaissance Rome insisted that the rituals and ceremonies surrounding the papal court reflect the splendor of God's heavenly court.(91) This same notion that the sacred be maintained with splendor and richness induced the Renaissance popes to undertake lavish building and renovation projects throughout Rome. Echoing the thoughts of many in the papal city, Steuco argued in his Contra Laurentium Vallam that such displays of wealth and pomp were necessary to impress upon men the majesty of God and to lead men to Him.(92)

However much pomp and splendor served the spiritual welfare of men, lavish rituals, processions, and building projects such as the Vatican complex also served the political ends of the popes. Steuco was acutely aware of this. The pontiff, he maintained, must surround himself with tangible signs of his power and wealth representative of his position as head of religion and kings. Like God appearing to man, the pope always must present a venerable, aweinspiring presence.(93)

These remarks reflect the efforts of the sixteenth-century popes to forge the papacy into a major power among the monarchies of early modern Europe. The theme of renovatio imperii that characterized the pontificates of Julius II and Leo X was also a driving force behind the papacy of Steuco's own patron Paul III. Put simply, these popes considered themselves to be the rightful heirs to the political power exercised by the Roman emperors.(94)

The numerous building projects of Paul III across the cityscape of Rome aimed at reinforcing the image of a pontiff whose imperial sway encompassed the world. The Farnese palace, an already impressive Roman townhouse while Alessandro served as Cardinal, underwent extensive reconstruction upon his election as Pope Paul III in 1534. The finished palazzo "seized every opportunity to suggest size, space and grandeur" as a visual testimony to the wealth and power at the disposal of the pontiff.(95)

Similarly, the ambitious renovation of the Capitoline that Michaelangelo undertook for Paul III beginning in 1537 served to convey the imperial authority of the pope. The bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, moved to the Capitoline from in front of the Lateran, was the focal point of the imperial imagery on the hill. This statue, mistaken as an equestrian representation of the Emperor Constantine, represented the world sovereignty that the Roman empire had once exercised -- a sovereignty which the Roman pontiff now claimed to inherit.(96)

Moreover, the sweeping architectural changes that accompanied the imperial stamp Paul III impressed upon the Campidoglio further served to smother any sense of republican pride or independence in the city. Once the seat of the communal government, the Campidoglio was turned by Paul III into a breathtaking symbol of the popes as heirs to the Roman imperium.(97)

On a very practical level it is easy to see why Steuco would insist upon such visible manifestations of papal power. In sharp contrast to Venice, Rome was a city where a number of the inhabitants were overtly hostile to the ruling political power. Hence, the humanist repeatedly stressed the need for the papacy to inspire fear into the citizens of Rome.(98) He argued that this was done through lavishly staged religious rituals and the manipulation of the sacred. The palaces, broad avenues, statues, and architectural complexes erected by the sixteenth-century popes provided the imperial subtext for the complex enactment of ritual and martial power staged in Rome.(99) Steuco well understood the role that sacred ritual, armed power, and imperial motifs played in conveying the magnitude of the papal prince's authority to the people of Rome.

His arguments thus gave full justification to such spectacles as the carefully staged triumphal entry into Rome celebrated by Julius II in 1507 after his conquests of Perugia and Bologna. In the ceremonies surrounding his procession to St. Peter's, Julius fused his roles as warrior monarch and spiritual head of Christendom. Entering Rome on Palm Sunday, the pope stopped to celebrate mass at S. Maria del Popolo. Taking up the processional route towards St. Peter's again, Julius rode past the monuments and triumphal arches of former emperors of Rome, freshly decorated to proclaim his own victories. Further on, a replica of the triumphal carro, which had figured prominently in the victory processions of the caesars, now carried a globe of the world. Dominating this globe was a large oak tree, symbol of the Della Rovere family from which Julius descended. A group offestively clad youths rode in the cart with the symbols of papal triumph, waving palm fronds in honor of Julius's victories. Both explicitly and implicitly, this procession attempted to link Julius's own military success and power to that enjoyed by the earlier caesars who had ruled Rome. Steuco argued that such awesome displays of ritual and power served to strengthen papal rule in Rome.(100)

The shift in Steuco's thought here is striking. He still maintained that religious rituals were indispensable for securing political and social stability in a civic context. But far from supporting the domination of a republican aristocracy, he now argued that sacred civic rituals and symbols of the divine must ensure the monopoly of the papal monarchy over the social and political institutions of Rome.

The wealth and richness with which Steuco insisted the pope administer the sacred ceremonies connected with his office had a further aim. The creation and domination of the sacred in Rome by the papal court allowed the pontiff to emphasize his position as supreme head of the Roman church.

Conspicuously absent from Steuco's Roman treatise is the notion that the Catholic cult might be created or manipulated by an elite of learned, spiritual men. Instead, he insisted that the pope alone was the head of all religion and that only he had authority to rule over all aspects of the faith. He observed, "All the lesser parts of religion must be ruled by the greater, that is, it is necessary that there be a head, to which the sum of all religion is directed."(101) Here Steuco replaced the broad latitude that he allowed the Venetian patricians in creating their sacred civic rituals with a strictly monarchical notion concerning the regulation and expression of the material cult. The pope had supreme authority in determining the forms and expressions that best revealed God to men and instilled piety in them. Importantly, Steuco conceived of the pope as the "sacred central symbol" of religion for men on earth. Rituals, ceremonies, and symbols of the divine must elevate and flow towards this powerful sacred figure as the chief priest and successor of Saint Peter.

Again the Italian humanist's arguments reflected Roman reality -- or at least the reality created by a confluence of ritual, myths, and doctrine emanating from the papal city. The Renaissance popes beginning with Nicholas V attempted to assert their control over the sacred areas and symbols of the divine within the precincts of Rome. Papal patronage of shrines and holy relics redounded to the spiritual majesty and power of the popes. Pontiffs such as Nicholas V and Sixtus IV undertook the restoration of the paleo-Christian churches that lie scattered throughout Rome, thereby linking themselves with the saints and relics housed within. Papal processions to celebrate major holy days and the saints' feast days further allowed the bishops of Rome to associate themselves closely with the ancient martyrs of Rome.(102)

Above all else, however, the popes succeeded in identifying themselves with Saint Peter and dominating the rituals and sacred space that surrounded his cult in Rome. A steady barrage of ceremonies and processions in Rome visibly linked the popes to the disciple held to be the Chief of the Apostles. The message for pilgrims, visiting statesmen, or ecclesiastical emissaries alike was stated emphatically. Peter was the foundation of Christ's church on earth, and the pope was heir to his awesome spiritual power and authority.(103)

Empowered by this association with the Chief of the Apostles, the pope dominated all rituals and forms of the sacred in Rome. Steuco's insistence that the sum of all religion be directed toward the pope was shaped extensively by his observations of the rituals and notions of the sacred in Rome. Cumulatively, they focused on the pope and rendered him the sacred central symbol of Rome and of the sixteenth-century church.

This change in Steuco's thought is not merely the natural outcome of a decade spent at the papal court, however. With the opening of the Council of Trent imminent, the Vatican librarian could ill afford to speak of the power of learned spiritual leaders capable of defining and creating religious rituals and ceremonies. Such a statement easily could appear to undermine Rome's insistence on supremacy over the council in doctrinal affairs.(104)

Furthermore, the decade and a half that had lapsed between the writing of the Adversus Lutheranos and the Contra Laurentium Vallam had seen a general hardening of attitudes in Rome, both toward the Lutherani in the north and the Spirituali in Italy.(105) Steuco's Contra Laurentium Vallam consequently has a sharp edge to it that is absent from his earlier Venetian work. Gone are his earlier attempts at reconciliation and accommodation. Instead, he now insisted that the pope was the sole head of the church and he must use force to deal with heretics and schismatics.(106) Steuco's desire to defend the monarchical institutions of the papacy and his renunciation of a republican, more tolerant idiom, reflected the growing sentiment towards monarchy and authoritarian rule in mid-sixteenth-century Italy.(107)

In his Roman polemic, the Italian humanist showed great sensitivity to the political power that the pope derived from his ability to control religious rituals and the localization of the sacred in Rome. Moreover, he recognized that papal domination of religious rituals and iconic objects was fundamental for the social and civic welfare of the city. It is little wonder then that Steuco staunchly rejected any challenge by the reform party at Trent that might appear to hinder the pope's ability to maintain or support the pageantry, rituals, and symbols of the divine found in Renaissance Rome.(108)

When analyzing the humanist response to the Reformation, we would do well, I think, to remember John Bossy's remark regarding the role of religion in the late Middle Ages. Bossy writes, "The state of charity, meaning social integration, was the principle end of the Christian life." Indeed, Bossy's studies have shown the myriad ways in which the rituals and sacraments of the church served to regulate social behavior and maintain peace within the community on the eve of the Reformation.(109)

This process of "social integration" through the external cult was what Steuco saw threatened by the Reformation. The Catholic religion, he wrote, "consists in two most holy aspects, in piety toward God and charity and justice toward men. All of those things which are done in it always look to one or the other of these two ends. And all its rites, all its ceremonies, either express a veneration for God or pertain to salvation and charity towards men."(110)

Following a long humanist tradition Steuco displayed a deep interest in the moral and social condition of humanity. This concern colored much of his Counter-Reformation writing. Detailing the numerous ways in which the sacred touched the lives of people and shaped their behavior, he consistently argued that the Catholic cult, externalized and pervasive, brought peace and stability to society. Morality and acceptable social behavior, he insisted, were shaped by constant exposure to the sacred.

Steuco's arguments in defense of late medieval forms of piety forcefully articulated what modern studies have only recently shown: civic virtue, morality, and social harmony in Venice and Rome were induced by the ubiquitous presence of the sacred in the urban arena. To Steuco's mind reform along Protestant and evangelical lines undermined precisely those rituals and symbols of the divine upon which social and civic virtues depended.

Our study has argued for the importance of examining local social and political institutions when analyzing humanist Counter-Reformation writings. This is crucial, given the tight intertwining of the political, social, and religious institutions in Renaissance Italy. In Venice as in Rome religious ceremonies and the sacred were carefully manipulated by the ruling elite to articulate a sense of community and reinforce morality. But as Steuco's works reveal, in both cities the close association of the sacred with the ruling political power served to legitimate and strengthen the position of the latter. The sense of "charity" engendered in people by the external cult promoted peace among the various strata of society, helped to curb crime, and fostered a sense of fair play among neighbors. Such stability and security on the part of the citizenry reinforced the perception that the political elite was doing its job.

But more than this, the fusion of the sacred with the secular power gave the ruling elite divine sanction for its actions and aspirations. The virtues and political program espoused by the rulers were articulated in the sacred civic rituals that unfolded throughout the cityscape. Sacred symbols and holy places closely associated with the elite reinforced the values of the ruling class through architecture, liturgical performances, and the maintenance of selectively-chosen Christian virtues. Hence, when Steuco defended sacred ceremonies and holy places as necessary for social integration, he simultaneously defended the values of the ruling class, first in republican Venice then in papal Rome.

Yet we have argued that Steuco's support of Venetian values and institutions was not unqualified. Patronage by figures tied closely to Rome, together with the fundamental conviction that rituals and ceremonies were essential for the civic and social welfare of people, led Steuco to oppose a number of ideas concerning reform and religious renewal in the Venetian republic. Thus, issues of patronage and career advancement shaped Steuco's Counter-Reformation thought, and it is essential to keep this in mind when analyzing his polemical works. The interplay between personal conviction and career advancement is present throughout his writing and reminds us that much of the humanist debate on reform, patterns of piety, and the ecclesia Romana was colored by pragmatic concerns about employment and the realities of earning a living.(111)

Finally, Steuco's work reveals how the changing political map of Europe shaped the humanist response to reform. Both Venice and Rome faced the task of forging political entities capable of competing with the emerging monarchies of early modern Europe. Under Doge Andrea Gritti, the Venetians undertook a program of cultural and social renewal aimed at earning Venice a place among the elite powers of Europe. Steuco's defense of rituals and ceremonies in his Adversus Lutheranos argued that evangelical reform and renewal was incompatible with republican virtues and the renovatio urbis as envisioned by Gritti.

In Rome the Renaissance papacy responded to the growth of the early modern monarchies by embarking upon a plan of territorial conquest and consolidation, and in doing so earned the ire of the reformers. Steuco's Roman treatise reflected the theme of renovatio imperii. Gone is the republican idiom of his Venetian days, and in its place was a thoroughly Roman lexicon forged by the humanists of the Roman court and curia. In the Contra Laurentium Vallam we see the papal prince and the theme of renovatio imperii defended against the critics of a secularized, imperialist papacy. His arguments concerning papal dominance of rituals and the cult in Rome mirrored the pragmatic attempts of the popes to respond to the growing power of the early modern states. Steuco's Contra Laurentium Vallam depicted a papacy caught between the exigencies of survival in a hostile political environment and the demand for reform--especially as it was manifested now at the Council of Trent.

Italian humanists produced a wide variety of responses to reform and the call for religious renewal. Some like Steuco defended the traditions and practices of the late medieval church, while others welcomed the opportunity to return to a church and spirituality patterned more closely on early apostolic practice. Steuco's works show us the necessity of studying Italian humanist treatises on reform carefully, with an awareness of time and place. Humanists thrived in a variety of social, political, and cultural circumstances, all of which found expression in the religious culture around them. These circumstances and this religious culture must be explored in tandem if we are to understand the complexities of the humanist response to reform in Italy.



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(1)See Cantimori, 1939 and 1975, esp. 142-63 and 232-46.

(2)On Vergerio, see Schutte, 1977; for Pole, see Fenlon. For Contarini, see Gleason, [1988.sup.1] and [1988.sup.2]; and Fragnito, 1969. On Cortese, see Fragnito, 1983 and 1984.

(3)This "paradigm shift" has been outlined by Schutte, 1989, with an excellent bibliography.

(4)For an attempt to redress this imbalance, see Seidel Menchi.

(5)For details on Steuco's career, I rely on Freudenberger, 1935, 6-140.

(6)The Pro religione christiana adversus Lutheranos was first published in Bologna by Ioannes Baptista Phaellus in May of 1530. Freudenberger, 1935, 377, gives bibliographical details on the publishing of this work. I use the edition printed in Steuco, 1591-92, 3:1-24v.

(7)My thoughts on the dogeship of Andrea Gritti and his program of renovatio urbis have been shaped by Tafuri, 1984, 9-55, and 1985, 3-124; and Cozzi, 1973 and 1980. For the turbulent period from 1500-1520, I rely upon the work of Gilbert, 1973; and Tenenti.

(8)Steuco's Contra Laurentium Vallam, de falsa donatione Constantini, libri duo (1547) was published by Sebastian Gryphius in Lyon. For bibliographical details, see Freudenberger, 1935, 383. I use the edition in Steuco, 1591-92, 3:209v-241.

(9)For the theme of renovatio imperii and the popes as secular rulers, see Stinger, 1981 and 1985; and Paolo Prodi, 1978 and 1987.

(10)Freudenberger, 1935, 30-41. For Steuco's mentors while at Bologna, see Dallari, 2:14-46.

(11)The Canons of Sant Antonio di Castello belonged to the Augustinian Congregation of San Salvatore in Bologna. On this congregation and the monastery of Sant Antonio in Venice, see Mozzagrugno, Book 5, 1-68, and Book 7, 6-16. For Domenico Grimani as a patron of humanism and the Grimani patronage of Sant Antonio, see Foscari and Tafuri, 107-14; and Paschini. Details concerning the founding of the library and a good sense of its contents can be had from Mercati, 26-28; Freudenberger, 1936; and Kibre.

(12)Tafuri, 1984, 15 and 46, and 1985, 92ff, explores Domenico Grimani's links to Gritti and his sympathy toward the doge's efforts at renovatio. On the issue of Venetian patronage as a social, spiritual, and political endeavor, see Foscari and Tafuri, 107ff; Goffen; and Howard.

(13)On Barbaro and Bembo, see Branca, 1963 and 1973; Grafton, passim; and D'Amico, 1988, passim. For Aldo Manuzio, see Dionisotti. Tafuri, 1984, 17-28, and 1985, 50-53, explores the influence of humanist philology on the culture and politics of Venice during Gritti's dogeship.

(14)See Howard, 17-28; Foscari and Tafuri, 107ff; and Tafuri, 1984, 35.

(15)See Paschini, 144; and Tafuri, 1984, 109-12. Steuco, 1547, 7v, speaks of Marino's role in completing the library after Domenico's death.

(16)Freudenberger, 1935, 375-77, gives bibliographical information on the several printings of this work. I use the edition in Steuco, 1591-92, 1:83-180.

(17)Steuco, 1529, 83. In his Adversus Lutheranos, 6v, Steuco further refers to Marino Grimani as "letterarum patronus."

(18)Rosenthal, 351-69; and Cagliari.

(19)Steuco's annotations were so successful that within three years (1531) they required a second printing, this time by Sebastian Gryphus in Lyon. See Freudenberger, 1935, 376-77, for bibliographical details.

(20)On the emergence of this pro-Roman group and its composition, see Tafuri, 1985, 12-15; and Gleason, [1988.sup.2], 265-66.

(21)Steuco, 1529, 150v-51v, 158.

(22)Ibid., 104v-05, 151.

(23)Ibid., 151, 170.

(24)For examples of these attacks on Luther and Erasmus in the Recognitio Veteris Testamenti, see 92, 105, 122, 125v, 151, 168.

(25)See Cessi; and Bouwsma, 82, 124, 128, 136. For examples of other Venetian reformers, see Jedin, 1958; Ross, 1970 and 1972; Gleason, [1988.sup.1]; and Fragnito, 1969.

(26)Stella, 134-36; Martin, 1982, 29-52; Bouwsma, 82-113; Tafuri, 1985; 79-124; and Fragnito, 1969, 133-38.

(27)Paschini, 133-36; and Nolhac.

(28)In addition to the works cited in notes 25 and 26 above, I also found useful Fenlon; Gleason, 1978; and Jung.

(29)On Contarini, see especially Jedin, 1951; Gilbert, 1968; Gleason, [1988.sup.1]; and Fragnito, 1969. On the growing number of Spirituali in Venice in the 1520s, see Tafuri, 1985, 91-122; Martin, 1982, 23-93, 1987, 116-17, and 1988, 205-09; and Gleason, 1978, 13-22.

(30)For a sense of the influence of Erasmus and Luther on Venetian reformers and an idea of the heterogeneous nature of the reformers active in Venice in the 1520s, see Fragnito, 1969, 133-38; Martin, 1982, 1-93, 1987, and 1988, 205-09; Stella, passim; Tafuri, 1985, 112-22; and Cozzi, 1973, 321-22.

(31)See Tafuri, 1985, 27-41; Bouwsma, 74-80, 113; and Muir, 1981, 65-119, passim.

(32)Tafuri, 1985, 14-16, 41; and Cozzi, 1980, 143.

(33)For this aspect of Florentine humanism, see Baron; Martines, esp. 271-86; and Field, 3-51. On humanism in Venice, consult King, 1975 and 1986; and Branca, 1963 and 1973, 228-37.

(34)Muir, 1981, 13-61, examines this image of Venice in the fifteenth century. Tafuri, 1984, 9-55, and 1985, 3-124, details Gritti's efforts to revive earlier republican virtues.

(35)Tenenti, 17-46; Gilbert, 1973, 274-77; Cozzi, 1973, 310; and Tafuri, 1984, 9-12, 30.

(36)See Gilbert, 1973, 275, 277; Tafuri, 1985, 11; and Martin, 1982, 51-55.

(37)Cozzi, 1973, 293-345; and Pullan, 216-86.

(38)On these measures, see Tafuri, 1984, 14-27, 32-33, and 1985, 9-10; Cozzi, 1973, 331-34, and 1980, 122-51; and Muir, 1984.

(39)Steuco, 1530, 8: "Eorum haec haeresis ... qui litteris incumbunt, alio genere crudelitatis effecerit immites, ut scribant nam procacissime, omneque scriptorum genus calumniis, et maledictis, et iactantia, et ostentatione repleant. Principes fuere Erasmus, et Martinus." Like many of his contemporaries in Italy, Steuco used the term Lutherani to designate all those holding heretical beliefs or in rebellion against the church in the early sixteenth century. Hence the term Lutherani was all inclusive for him--Oecolampadius, Erasmus, and the iconoclasts in Zurich were all Lutherani to his way of thinking. See his remarks on this generic application of the term in Adversus Lutheranos, 2. On the loose nomenclature of Lutherani in this period, see Martin, 1982, 28-29; Gleason, 1969; and Seidel Menchi, 41-42. Steuco's treatise played a fundamental role in constructing the Italian image of Erasmo/luterano. Seidel Menchi's work explores this Italian view of Erasmus, with special reference given to Steuco at 49, 61-63, and passim.

(40)On Venetian toleration of heterodox religious practices, see Bouwsma, 73, 113; Martin, 1982, 20ff; Stella, 134-47; and Cozzi, 1973, 321-22, 329.

(41)Bouwsma, 41, 82, 125; Tafuri, 1985, 115; and Gleason, 1978.

(42)The simile of the Lutheran heresy as a debilitating disease was frequently found in other Venetian writers of this period. See Martin, 1982, 28.

(43)See Muir, 1981, passim, and 1987, 25-33; and Goffen, 138-54. My understanding of the use of the sacred in Venice has been further influenced by the works of Bossy, 1973 and 1987; and Tafuri, 1985, 24-78.

(44)Muir, 1981, 92ff, 135-231, and 1987, 25-28.

(45)Muir, 1981, 16, 186; King, 1975, 535-74, and 1986, 23-27.

(46)Muir, 1981, 135-84, and 1987, 27-33; and Tafuri, 1985, 24-78.

(47)Steuco, 1530, 17. Writing of those seduced by the reformers' doctrines he observed, "Moxque in fidem recepti, et ad imitationem admissi, ibi totius impietatis mysterium imbiberunt. Primum autem, ut intelligerent in religione Christiana, nihil esse non superstitiosum. Inesse aris, et socis, inesse templis, ieiuniis, orationibus, castitati superstitionem, quae nihil ad verum Dei cultum attineant, sed animum potius anxium, ac sollicitum iugiter teneant, quale sit superstitionis." The title of Book III of the Adversus Lutheranos is "Quod Christiana religio non sit superstitio."

(48)Ibid., 8: "Vulgares, nisi extrinsecus ceremoniis, et divinis institutis provocentur, amittent tunc pietatem, cum superstitionem effugere docenbuntur."

(49)Ibid., 17v: "Aufer enim homini religionem, suam etiam illi naturam abstulisti, ut cum feris facile tum possit comparari ... Sublatis enim aris, ac templis, sublatis sanctis Dei, et sanctorum Imaginibus .. sublatis etiam caeremoniis, quibus Dei exterior veneratio exprimitur, etiam ille bonus animi sensus est extinctus."


(51)Ibid., 18.

(52)See Tafuri, 1984 and 1985.

(53)Steuco, 1530, 4: "Quicquid enim eam innixam sustineret, sunt latenter eruere conati, ut his deiectis, quibus vocabamur ad pietatem: ipsa quoque pietas corrueret, et ex hominum memoria pelleretur."

(54)Ibid., 2.

(55)Ibid., 4v: "Hanc igitur tam vastam haeresim, vel potius tyrannidem, quae religionem, superstitionem vocavit, quae probos ad improbitatem, pios ad impietatem traxit, ad intemperantiam modestos, quae omne genus sanctitatis in honestissimis nominibus defoedavit, quae castitatem, quae orationes, quae ieiunia detestata est, quae quicquid fuit sancti hominibus, vel eripuit, vel eripere conata est, quae facilitatem omnibus sceleribus praebuit, quae peccantibus maiora suasit, eisque recipiendi sese, ac poenitendi copiam subtraxit, quae pronum in illicita semper populum, ruptis religionis vinculis, ablato pietatis timore propensiorem ad peccandum reddidit."

(56)Ibid., 2v. Cozzi, 1973, 328, writes that after 1524 the "official" attitude of the republic toward the Lutheran movement was one of straightforward rejection despite tremendous sympathy for it in Venice. This was due in part, he observes, "to the political and social chaos of the German situation."

(57)Martin, 1982, 55-56; and Cozzi, 1973, 334.

(58)On these various measures, see Cozzi, 1973, passim; and Muir, 1984, 62-65, 73-74.

(59)See Steuco, 1530, 2v, 4v, 8. Steuco was touching a raw nerve here. Cozzi, 1973, 327, reports that the Venetians were extremely concerned over the peasant uprisings in the north. Moreover, they were shocked by the brutality and behavior of the German Landsknechts during the sack of Rome. Steuco blames the Germans' behavior on the effects of the Lutherani doctrine.

(60)See Martin, 1982, 40-51, for the case of a master carpenter named Antonio, a Lutheran sympathizer who was tried in 1533. Records show that Antonio had drawn official attention to himself as early as 1531 because of the disruptions his preaching and disputations had caused in his neighborhood. Martin, 1987 and 1988, details the popularity of evangelical doctrines among the economically prosperous class of artisans who found themselves shut out of the political and social hierarchy of Venice in the 1520s and 1530s.

(61)See Fenlon, passim, for the efforts by the Spirituali to define their position within the context of Catholic doctrine and institutions prior to the 1540s.

(62)Steuco, 1530, 18.

(63)Ibid, 17v.

(64)For a fuller examination of this twofold approach to worship in Steuco's thought with its implications for the Counter-Reformation, see Delph, 42-46.

(65)On the general theme of the inability of the popolani to comprehend the deeper mysteries and higher spirituality of the Christian religion, see Martin, 1982, 36-42.

(66)This is not to assert that Italian evangelism was elitist, but rather that Steuco believed only an educated spiritual elite could worship God without rituals and ceremonies. On the widespread appeal of Italian evangelism to all classes, see Gleason, 1978.

(67)See Muir, 1984, 60ff; Tafuri, 1984, 9-55; Cozzi, 1973, esp. 304-09, and 1980, 122-51; and Martin, 1982, 52-73, 1987, 124, and 1988, 221-26.

(68)These arguments occur at 17v-18 of Steuco, 1530.

(69)Ibid., 18.

(70)Ibid., 17v.

(71)Ibid., 18: "Quoniamque intelligunt nullam esse in humanis, tam iustam rem tamque hominibus utilem, quam ut omnium mentes summa colendi Dei cognitione imbuantur, hoc enim esse omnium bonorum principium, fontemque iustitiae, concordiae, et societatis humanae principium."

(72)Ibid. For a discussion of the humanist anthropological notions that lay behind Steuco's ideas on the origins of cultures, societies, and the varying capacity of men to know and worship God, see Delph, 41-47.

(73)See Stinger, 1985, 5, 188, 201-21; and Trinkaus, 1:730-31.

(74)I believe future research will show that Steuco's views on culture, society, and man's nature as a religious creature were influenced as well by the discovery of indigenous cultures and religions in the New World. In general, the effect that New World discoveries had on Italian humanist anthropological ideas and how these ideas influenced the humanist response to the Reformation have yet to be studied.

(75)For this and the following discussion, see Muir, 1981, 78-102, 186-250.

(76)See Tafuri, 1985, 29-31, for a description of the ducal procession to San Salvador.

(77)Muir, 1981, 78ff, 185-223.

(78)For Steuco in Rome, see Freudenberger, 1935, 97-139. See Steuco, 1530, 5v-16, for his pro-papal arguments in his Venetian polemic.

(79)Steuco, 1530, 1v. For Steuco's relationship with Alessandro Farnese, see Freudenberger, 1935, 97-140.

(80)D'Amico, 1983, 35, thus characterizes the position of Vatican librarian. For Steuco's activities as prefect of the Vatican library, consult Merkel, 1921, 294, 296, and 1922, 346-47, 351-52; and Batiffol, v, 17-20.

(81)Steuco, 1547, 210.

(82)Ibid. Modern historiography in general supports Steuco's observations that sixteenth-century Rome was completely dependent upon the papacy for its economic and culture livelihood. See Partner; and Delumeau, 296-97.

(83)See Stinger, 1981, 189-201, and 1985, 70-80, 235-64.

(84)For the republican city government of Rome and its relationship with the papacy, see Stinger, 1985, 96-98; Delumeau, 294; Bullard; Nussdorfer; and Mitchell.

(85)Steuco, 1547, 210v. On papal finances during the Renaissance, see Prodi, 1978, 65-104 and 1987, 55-57; Delumeau, 297ff; and Stinger, 1985, 99-102.

(86)Steuco, 1547, 211: "Ubi est abundantia, est observantia rerum sacrarum, cum pietas, religio, ritusque sacri cum pompa sacra peraguntur, quae populus cernens veneretur, admiretur. Sordida religio contemnitur. Nisi habeas quibus sacerdotes alas, nisi loca sacrorum locupletaveris, nulli erunt sacerdotes, nulla sacra loca; deserentur, solitudini erunt." See also 210v, for further arguments against allowing religion to deteriorate into a sordid condition.

(87)Ibid., 211-v.

(88)Tafuri, 1985, 6, 79-124; and Bouwsma, 41, 82-83.

(89)Tafuri, 1985, 112-22; and Fragnito, 1969, 173-74, detail Contarini's demand as early as 1517 that expenditures on the material cult take second place to the needs of indigent Christians. See also Tafuri, 1984, 32ff.

(90)Steuco, 1530, 19v.

(91)See Stinger, 1985, 46-49; and O'Malley, 1979, 10-11, 130-31, 201-03.

(92)Stinger, 1985, 46-50, 156-57.

(93)Steuco, 1547, 211. For papal attempts to create a fitting sense of regal and political power through public displays of wealth, rituals, and ceremonies, consult Prodi, 1987, 37-58; Delumeau, 287-304; Stinger, 1981, 189-201, and 1985, 235-91. Giles of Viterbo played a major role in fusing the spiritual and temporal aspects of the Renaissance papacy, urging the rebuilding of Rome, splendid rituals, and the renovation of the empire as befitting the celestial and spiritual dignity of the papacy. See O'Malley, 1968.

(94)Stinger, 1985, 234-58. Useful, too, is Prodi, 1987, 1-58.

(95)Partner, p. 171. See also Hartt, 583-84.

(96)Stinger, 1985, 257-60; and Partner, 172-73.

(97)Partner, 173.

(98)See Steuco, 1547, 211: "Quoties igitur ... Romani cives intra suum palatium Pontifices obsederunt? aedes sacras diripuerunt? quot ipsi crudeliter necaverunt? quot in mole Adriani comprehensos strangulaverunt? Quot strages in urbe, forisque edebantur, inter se armis Romanis decertantibus? Quanto circa urbem vastitas...Nonne Romani cives hostes Pontifici eius calamitatis autores fuerunt? Nonne ipsi idem palatium paucis ante mensibus diripuerunt, militibusque introductis omnia sacra praedae fuerunt?"

(99)See Stinger, 1985, 235-91.

(100)Steuco, 1547, 210v. On the triumphal entry of Julius II into Rome, see Stinger, 1981 and 1985, 235-46. Stinger points out that in particular Julius II paralleled himself with the conqueror and pacifier Julius Caesar, playing upon his imperial namesake.

(101)Steuco, 1547, 211v.

(102)See Stinger, 1985, 40-48.

(103)Steuco followed Catholic theologians and Roman humanists in emphasizing that Rome's supremacy rested upon apostolic succession based upon Christ's words to Peter at Matthew 16:18-19 and John 21:15-17. Following a pattern developed by Roman humanists, he also stressed the historical presence and martyrdoms of Peter and Paul in Rome, as sanctifying the city and elevating the see of Rome to supremacy in the church. See his arguments, 1530, 10, 11-v, and 1547, 212. See also Stinger, 1985, 156-234.

(104)Jedin, 1949, 1:5-116, 312-54, explores the fear in Rome over conciliarism in conjunction with a council. See also on this Oakley; and Stinger, 1985, 158-66. D'Amico, 1983, 212-37, discusses the preoccupation with reform among Roman humanists and the limitations of their ideas given the political and spiritual aspirations of the papacy and humanist culture in Rome.

(105)Fenlon, 45-281.

(106)See Steuco, 1547, 210v-11.

(107)On these political developments, see Cochrane, 33-54; and Bouwsma, passim.

(108)For Steuco's opposition to reform at Trent, see Delph.

(109)Bossy, 1987, 57. See also idem, 1973. This understanding of the integrative function of religion has been one of the major contributions of Edward Muir's many works on community and the sacred in Italy.

(110)Steuco, 1530, 18v: "Eam duobus sanctissimis membris constare affero, pietate erga Deum, charitate, sive iustitia erga homines. Caetera, quae in ea exerceantur, horum ad alterum semper spectare, Omnemque eius ritum, omnem caeremoniam, aut Dei venerationem exprimere, aut ad salutem, et charitatem erga alios pertinere."

(111)See D'Amico, 1983, 212-40.
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