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Scritti sulla Riforma in Italia.

Luigi Firpo. (Corpus Reformatorum Italicorum Series.) Naples: Prismi, 1996. 274 pp. n.p. ISBN: 88-7065-015-4.

This collection brings together thirteen studies produced by Luigi Firpo between 1949 and 1969 on various subjects related to religious reform in sixteenth-century Italy. This was terrain staked out initially and most famously by Delio Cantimori, and Firpo's studies follow some of the patterns, if not always the conclusions, set by Cantimori. Chief among these is an emphasis on the intellectual biographies of individuals deemed heretical by their contemporaries. A.J. Schutte has pointed out the oddity of a Marxist like Cantimori giving so much emphasis to individuals, noting that one consequence of this distinctly anti-materialist approach was a mistaken periodization of sixteenth-century reform in Italy based on a definite turning point in 1541-42 when Catholic reaction began to recover both its confidence and its institutional footing, to the detriment of many free thinkers. Firpo implicitly follows the same general periodization; the bulk of these studies deal with the "losers" of the Italian reform movement, that is, with those for whom the turning point meant either physical exile or the intellectual exile of discrete Nicodemism.

Through his career, Firpo focused particularly on the Florentine Francesco Pucci, who was born into a family of merchants and small property owners in 1543 and who was beheaded and burned for heresy in Rome in 1597. Firpo produced both monographs and studies on Pucci, and editions of his letters and other writings. This scholarly dedication is reflected in the current collection, slightly less than half of which is given over to studies of Pucci. Pucci followed the familiar path of Italian heretics, leaving Italy in 1571 to study in Paris and becoming an involuntary peripatetic as his thoughts led him to impolitic conclusions, and his ego led him to public disputations and published works. He fled Paris for Oxford after the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572; left Oxford for London after being accused of Pelagianism; was turned out of the Italian congregation there after public disputes with its Calvinist pastor about whether Christ's death had redeemed all humanity or just an elect minority; moved to Basel in 1577 where his universalism impressed Faustus Socinius but led the Senate to exile him in 1578; and returned to England, where a proposal for a secret international society of true believers earned him prison in 1581 and a ticket to Holland the next year. He moved on to Cracow and by 1587 was in Prague where he penned a number of works on predestination and the millenium; these were unsuccessfully defended in disputes in Paris in 1591, and he was off to the Netherlands again. The Inquisition caught up to him in Salzburg shortly thereafter, and he was hustled off to Rome where, as a lapsed heretic, he was executed.

Apart from the studies of Pucci, the only extended archival study in this collection is a 1959 article dealing with the Italian Protestant congregation in London, which began forming through the preaching of Bernardino Ochino in 1548, took definite shape with the arrival of Michelangelo Florio in 1550, went underground during the Marian restoration of Catholicism, re-emerged as a Calvinist body in 1565, and disbanded in 1598. The balance of the collection is made up largely of short biographical pieces which were originally written for journals or encyclopedias. This volume forms part of the Corpus Reformatorum Italicorum series which Luigi Firpo helped establish in the late 1950s as a vehicle for publishing works by and about the spiritualists/Protestants/heretics of the sixteenth century, and which he edited in the years following. While scholarship on this rich subject has moved beyond Delio Cantimori and Luigi Firpo, the collection is valuable both as an historiographical snapshot and as a testament to Firpo's contribution to the field.

NICHOLAS TERPSTRA Luther College, University of Regina
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Author:Terpstra, Nicholas
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1998
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