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Defining the Church of England in Italy in the Early Modern Times: British Reconciliations in the Documentation of the Inquisition of Pisa

Définir l’Église d’Angleterre en Italie au début de l’époque moderne: conversions britanniques dans les documents de l’inquisition de Pise
Stefano Villani

Résumés

Les documents de l’Inquisition romaine mettent en évidence les difficultés que les inquisiteurs trouvaient à définir les membres de l’Église anglicane. Ils utilisaient rarement l’expression « la secte anglicane des protestants ». Les Britanniques étaient plus souvent appelés calvinistes ou luthériens, parfois aussi « hérétiques protestants d’Angleterre » ou représentants d’une « religion mixte, empruntant en partie de Luther et en partie de Calvin ». Les schémas disponibles dans les manuels des inquisiteurs offraient un cadre conceptuel qui ne correspondait pas aux protestants qui n’étaient ni luthériens ni calvinistes. L’application mécanique de ces définitions aléatoires montre à la fois l’absence d’un paradigme interprétatif sophistiqué et le caractère bureaucratique de la plupart des procédures inquisitoriales.

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1. What's in a name?

  • 1 Archivio Storico Diocesano di Pisa (Historical Diocesan Archive from now onwards ASDP), Inquisizion (...)
  • 2 ASDP, Inquisizione, 21, cc. 607r-608v.
  • 3 ASDP, Inquisizione, 21, c. 302r.

1On March 21, 1678 three young men, one an Englishman, one a Scotsman and the last an Irishman, presented themselves in front of the vicar of the Inquisition of Livorno to recant their religion and join the Catholic Church. One of them was the fifteen-year-old Scottish Alexander Pincarton (or, Pingarlo, in the Italianate version of his name). In the records of his interrogation preserved in the Inquisition fonds of the Diocesan Archives of Pisa, we can read that Alexander was born into a Protestant family (“nato da parenti protestanti”). To clarify what kind of Protestants they were, right after this sentence, two words are written down, one on top of the other: Lutheran and Calvinist. In all likelihood the recording scribe had written at first that they were “Lutheran Protestants” (“protestanti lutherani”) and then, when he re-read the minutes, he corrected the phrase to “Calvinist Protestants”.1 Having been born in Scotland, it is likely that Alexander was a Presbyterian, and so that he had been brought up in that faith. Further in the same document, the Catholic neophyte denies all the errors of “said Calvinian sect” (“detta setta calviniana”). His English companion, the twenty-four year old Christopher Sax, had been baptized in the Church of England and in the records we can read that he claimed to have been “bred and educated as a Protestant” in the “sect of Luther” (“setta di Luthero”).2 The Irishman, the thirty-year-old William Bourke affirmed, instead, that he was born to Catholic parents, and that, for this reason, he was banished from his land and forced to “take the oath of supremacy” when he joined the Navy. The records state that he was forced to “embrace the Lutheran faith” and further he speaks of the “ungodly sect of Luther”.3 None of the three converts could speak Italian and it is likely that the interrogation had taken place thanks to the work of an interpreter, presumably the English Cassinese Benedictine John Francis Albercrobio, who was a professor at the University of Pisa and who was often used for the interrogation of British people in front of the Holy Office. Strangely, however, and contrary to the common practice, the records do not mention the translator.

2The mistake made by the scribe clearly shows the uncertainty with which the religious landscape of Britain was looked upon in Italy and the difficulty in understanding British confessional distinctions. If the correction, perhaps suggested by the same boy, properly describes the Scottish Presbyterians as Calvinists, there is no doubt that to define the Church of England in the time of King Charles II as a “Lutheran” sect, was, to say the least, inaccurate. This way of theologically describing the Church of England, however, was not unusual and was one of the many definitions used over the years to define the “Anglicans” by the Holy Office of Pisa (the headquarters of the Inquisition, which exercised its jurisdiction over Livorno). A systematic review of the reconciliations of British people preserved in the Inquisition records of the Diocesan Archives of Pisa allows us to take note of the semantic swing which characterizes the definition of the Church of England in Italy in the early modern period (“reconciliation” is the technical term which defined the conversions to Catholicism by non-Catholic Christians). As we will see, Italian inquisitors had some difficulties in understanding the theological and ecclesiastical specificities of the Church of England. That Church was clearly a protestant one. Anglicanism, as a via media between Protestantism and Catholicism, is mostly a nineteenth-century construct, and as the recent historiography has emphasized the early modern “Anglican” theology was characterized by a sort of Calvinist consensus. At the same time the liturgy and the episcopal organization of the Church of England made that church different from the other Calvinist churches. So, if it is not a surprise that Italian inquisitors placed the English Church firmly in the Protestant camp, it is interesting to notice that they did not make any effort to understand the articulations and differences of the various branches of Protestantism.

  • 4 The Inquisition records of Pisa have undergone various reorganisations that have often altered the (...)
  • 5 Because of the importance of the English community of Livorno, the number of reconciliations of Bri (...)

3Unfortunately, we do not have the complete series of those “reconciled” with or converted to Catholicism in Pisa and Livorno because of the many gaps in the documentation that has come down to us, including the absence of any Inquisitorial records for entire decades. Beyond gaps in documentation, another problem for research of this type manifests itself in the fact that almost half of the files of the Holy Office records have no index. It is thus extremely easy, when examining the documents, to inadvertently ignore some specific record.4 Some years back, I started a systematic examination of the Inquisition of Pisa’s records with the goal of researching the conversions of foreigners in early modern times. Before completing this research by identifying with certainty all the records of reconciliation preserved in the files, what I present here, is a first examination of the documentation regarding the Britons who spontaneously presented themselves in front of the vicar of the Inquisition of Livorno or of the Holy office of Pisa to renounce their former religion. This research has allowed me to identify a body of ninety-six dossiers regarding reconciliations of British people made between 1610 and 1769 that, while not complete, is a good approximation of the actual number of those preserved in the Inquisition fonds of Pisa.5

  • 6 The quotes come from Eliseo Masini, Sacro arsenale overo Prattica dell’officio della Santa Inquisit (...)

4The “reconciliation” process followed a procedure that was regulated down to the smallest detail by inquisitorial manuals. Those who decided to convert were compelled to appear before the inquisitorial authorities while claiming to have done so spontaneously. After having given their personal details (name, age, place of birth and parents’ names), they set out the reasons which had led them to join the Catholic Church. Before this, they had to swear to tell the truth and, if they could not speak the language, an interpreter was asked to swear to faithfully translate all the proceedings. After they had made their statement, there followed an official interrogation in which all the so-called sponte comparentes (the heretics who appeared spontaneously before the Inquisition) were asked to make a list of all the errors and heresies of the Church of which they were members, answering questions on specific “theological issues.” Following a dialectical reversal, they were then asked to state the correct Catholic belief for each of the heretical opinions they had previously supported. After having once again expressed the desire to convert, the interrogated stranger was asked whether he had been prosecuted or sued by the Inquisition in the past, and if he knew other heretics who lived in Catholic countries. He was finally asked to sign the record, which usually registered the questions in Latin and the answers in Italian. If the foreigner could not write, he was asked to sign with a cross. After the interrogation there followed, if necessary, a period of instruction in Catholic doctrine and then the sentence. In it, after a preamble in which the information already acquired was summarized, the Inquisitor declared the sponte comparente a formal heretic “but penitent” and required him to renounce the erroneous beliefs of the past and to perform some salutary penances. The converting foreigner pronounced his abjuration (de formali, being a confessed heretic). In other words, he renounced under oath all the heretical beliefs to which he had previously adhered and these were explicitly mentioned, substantially following the list of those reported in the sentence. The word “abjure” indeed comes from the Latin ab-iuro, i. e. “I deny under oath”.6 Usually, in the cases of reconciliations of British men that I have examined so far, the recantation took place on either the same day as the first interrogation or the next day.

  • 7 In a trial of 1618 – ASDP, Inquisizione, 7, cc. 246r-249v – the Scot Jacopo Locardo declared that h (...)

5In the corpus that I have identified, the vast majority of Britons who converted to Catholicism belonged to the Church of England. There are, however, also abjurations of one Anabaptist, one Quaker, and of eleven Presbyterians (eight of whom were Scottish and three English non-conformists).7 The majority of them are men. This is because most of them were merchants or mariners who travelled abroad on their own.

  • 8 We cannot forget that often in early modern Italy the word “luterani” was a generic term that came (...)

6If we examine the eighty-three dossiers of the members of the Church of England, we see that seventeen of them are called Calvinists: the scribes use the terms “heretics of the sect of Calvin”, “Calvinist religion”, “Calvinist sect”, “sect of Calvin”, “Calvinist Protestant heretics”. Fourteen of them are called Lutherans: “Lutheran heretics”, “Lutheran faith”, “impious sect of Luther”, “Lutheran sect”, “heresy of Luther.” In four cases they speak of the Church of England by referring to its doctrines as a mixture of Lutheranism and Calvinism: they use the terms “mixed sect and vain religion, part of Luther and part of Calvin”, “false mixed religion of Luther and Calvin”, “heresies of Calvin, and Luther”. For twenty-eight of them, the scribes use the generic expression “Protestants” or “heretics”, without attempting a more precise identification; only in five cases do they state that they were “Protestant heretics of England” or that they belonged to the “secta protestantium anglorum”. For twenty-one of them, their religious affiliation is defined by the word “Anglican”: the scribes use the expression “Anglican sect”, “Anglican sect of the Protestants”, “Anglican church and religion”, “Anglican Protestant heretics”. In one case, in the same document, they use the two expressions “Anglican Protestant heretics” and “Lutheran heretics”.8

  • 9 On the Medieval expression Ecclesia Anglicana see A.G. Dickens, The English Reformation, Batsford, (...)
  • 10 J. Robert Wright, ‘Anglicanism, Ecclesia Anglicana, and Anglican. An Essay on Terminology’, in Step (...)
  • 11 Thomas Harrab, Tessaradelphus, or The four brothers The qualities of whom are contayned in this old (...)
  • 12 Bishop Gilbert Burnet, talking about the secretary of state Leoline Jenkins said that, despite bein (...)
  • 13 ‘Dissertazione sullo stato attuale del protestantesimo in Inghilterra e massime sulle opinioni che (...)
  • 14 See, to state only one example, Angelo Sciacca, Relatione dello scisma anglicano e del glorioso mar (...)

7In early modern times the term “Anglican”, from the Medieval Latin anglicanus, was used in England to indicate whenever something had to do with the national Church of England – which, since the Middle Ages, was called Ecclesia Anglicana – without any specific theological meaning. Moreover, it should be noted that the systematic use of this word dates from the 1660s and its use as a noun to indicate the members of the Church of England is even more recent, as it came into use only in the eighteenth-century.9 The word “Anglicanism”, used to connote the theology of the established Church of England, was instead introduced by John Henry Newman in 1838, although it is significant that in the English Catholic press we find a couple of cases in which this term was used even before the nineteenth century.10 In England, as far as we know, the first and only time that the term “anglicanism” was used in the seventeenth century is by the Catholic polemicist Thomas Harrab, who in a 1616 pamphlet, spoke of the four brothers Lutheranism, Calvinism, Anabaptism and, in fact, Anglicanism (but its use seems to be a hapax legomenon in the seventeenth century).11 In French, apparently, this term was used for the first time in 1725, in a translation of Gilbert Burnet’s History of His Own Time, significantly to translate the English expression “Church of England”.12 In Italian, as far as we know, the use of the word “Anglican” dates only from the nineteenth century: the term appears in an 1837 text by Cardinal Wiseman.13 The use of the adjective “Anglican” is instead often attested in the sixteenth century and it is relatively frequently used in the seventeenth century.14

  • 15 ASDP, Inquisizione, 31, cc. 113r-117v, see ASDP, Inquisizione, 30, c. 400r.

8A chronological examination of the distribution over time of the different definitions contained in the approximately one hundred inquisitorial dossiers preserved at Pisa show a significant pattern: after 1686, apparently, the adjective “Calvinist” was no longer used to define the converts who came from the Church of England and in forty dossiers after 1688 – the date of the Glorious Revolution, which marked a turning point in the perception of Britain in continental Europe – usually the English who converted to Catholicism were simply defined as Protestants or Anglicans (the latter term, always used as an adjective, is apparently employed for the first time in this set of documents only in 1677). Only once, in a document of 1705, as I have already mentioned, were both the adjectives “Anglican” and “Lutheran” used to define the religious affiliation of the parents of an Englishman who appeared in front of the Inquisitor.15

2. Lost in translation

  • 16 The expression “Established Church” dated from the Canons of 1604 where we can read: “The Church of (...)

9It is obviously impossible to know who decided what definition to use in the records. The interrogations were conducted by the Inquisitor of Pisa or the Vicar of the Inquisition of Livorno. When the converting foreigner did not speak Italian, the examination was conducted through an interpreter, usually a member of a religious order who came from an English-speaking country (sometimes an Irishman). The documents were compiled by a recorder: in the case of the Franciscan Inquisition of Pisa and Livorno, a member of that order. The highly standardized structure of the expressions used in the minutes to define the religious denomination of origin of the soon-to-be-converted seems to exclude the possibility that his words were recorded accurately. It is much more likely to assume that the inquisitor or the recorder or the interpreter “translated” and interpreted the words of those who were in front of them to fit categories they could understand. Having said that, it is clear that the ambiguity and the semantic oscillation that characterizes the definition of the members of the Church of England is a sign of the difficulty of this process in translation and interpretation. The rising use from the 1680s on of the expressions “Protestants of England” or “Anglican Protestants” suggests a growing awareness of the specificity of the established Church of England, if compared to the Lutheran and Calvinist churches of the continent (and to the Scottish Presbyterians).16 However, this awareness is materialized in an effort to identify the specificities of the Anglican Church. The matter is all the more evident when, in the minutes of the interrogatories, we read the lists of doctrinal errors and heresies that the converting persons claimed to have shared until then, and which they rejected in order to join the Catholic Church. The vast majority of the people who converted were people of low education (many are those who were only able to sign with a cross) and it is legitimate to have doubts about their theological sophistication. As far as we can understand, in those years rarely – if ever – did the people who converted to Catholicism in Livorno or Pisa feel impelled to do so by a profound religious crisis. The basis for their decision was the choice to live in Italy. Becoming Italian meant becoming a Catholic, and, the anachronism of the comparison set apart, the passage in front of the Inquisitor was in fact more similar to an interview in a contemporary immigration office than to a spiritual process.

10It is then clear that the lists of heresies were not the result of spontaneous reminiscence but were instead built on the basis of specific questions formulated by those who led the interrogation. The whole procedure was a bureaucratic process and we can imagine that, in most cases, the Inquisitor had before him a manual from which he read the Protestant dogmas asking those who stood in front of him if they had previously believed in them and if they had now sincerely and spontaneously decided to reject them.

  • 17 Masini, Sacro arsenale, op. cit., p. 227.

11In one of the most widely diffused inquisitorial manuals, the Sacro Arsenale (or the Sacred Arsenal), for example, the author Eliseo Masini explains that in the interrogatory of a “Protestant” sponte comparente, he could be identified as a Lutheran if he would say that the sacraments of the Church were “only three”, that is “baptism, Eucharist, and marriage,” while if he was a Calvinist, he would say that the sacraments of the Church were only two, that is baptism, and Lord’s supper. As for the sacrament of the Eucharist, the manual sets out the difference between the Lutheran and the Calvinist conceptions of the holy feast. If the interviewee was a Lutheran, he would consider that “after the words of consecration” there was “only in use the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and that “the body” remained with the bread, while the blood remained with the wine. For that reason, it was a “divine command” to enable the laity to communicate under both kinds. If he was a Calvinist, he would think “that in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper” there was “really the true body and blood of the Lord but only as a sign and a figure.” All protestants would say that you should not venerate sacred images, that the saints in heaven do not pray for us and therefore we should not have to invoke them”, “that the Pope is not true Vicar of Christ, nor the head of the whole Church of God, but is indeed the Antichrist, and that after this life there is no Purgatory.”17 These are the elements that constantly turn up in the statements of the British converts. If the Inquisitor had developed the idea that they were Calvinists, he would ask them to reject Calvinist doctrines, if he had developed the idea that they were Lutherans, he would ask them to reject Lutheran doctrines.

12It is worth noting that Masini’s list does not mention the doctrine of justification by faith, which is only rarely referred to in statements such as that of Alexander Pincarton, for instance, mentioned at the beginning of this paper. The principle of sola scriptura seems never to be cited. Nor is there any mention of the doctrine of predestination. On the other hand, the fact that the King of England was the head of the Church is frequently mentioned.

  • 18 ASDP, Inquisizione, 23, cc. 442r-448v. Again we register here a correction of the scribe, who after (...)

13In sum, we can conclude that the image of the Church of England that emerges from a reading of these dossiers is that of a Church unequivocally Protestant, whose unique specificity, compared to other Reformed Churches, was that it was headed by the sovereign. It is clear that it was this State and “national” dimension that, in the eyes of the Inquisition bureaucrats, characterized the Church of England and it is extremely significant that, apparently, none of the dossiers refer to its episcopalian structure. An allusion to this aspect of the Anglican Church, emerges only in negative form in the abjuration of a Presbyterian Englishman on June 17, 1689. The list of Thomas Lucas’s previous heretical beliefs includes the conviction of the “sect of the Presbyterians” “that, for the ecclesiastics, there was not any degree of preeminence,” but that all of them were “equal”.18

  • 19 ASDP, Inquisizione, 5, cc. 570r-577v, Spontanea comparsa di Joan Ruts, Richard Thorton, Matteo Rumb (...)
  • 20 On the role of the interpreters as spiritual advisers of the people who decided to convert see Vill (...)

14A concrete attempt to capture the theological specificity of the Church of England is evident in the very few cases in which it was defined as a mixed religion of Lutheranism and Calvinism. In the corpus that we have considered, this definition, as I have already mentioned, is only used for four British men, although in the records of only two trials, which took place in front of the vicar of the Inquisition of Livorno, one in April and the other in July 1612. In the first case, the formula was used collectively for three Englishmen who appeared together in front of the Inquisitor.19 At the time, the Catholic confessor of the English “nation” of Livorno was the priest Richard Sherwood and it is reasonable to think that we can credit him with this definition.20

3. Anglicanism as Via Media

15This vision of the Church of England as a hybrid of Calvinism and Lutheranism calls rather to mind, anachronically, the nineteenth-century vision of Anglicanism as a middle way – or Via Media – between Protestantism and Catholicism. The Church of England in fact, despite being a Reformed Church, had retained many elements of medieval Catholicism: the church hierarchy led by archbishops and bishops, the cathedrals, the traditional liturgical vestments. These similarities with Catholicism, however, are absent in the statements made in front of the inquisitorial authorities by the British who converted to Catholicism.

  • 21 The Tracts were the 38th (June 25, 1834) and 41st (August 24, 1834). See also John Henry Newman, Ap (...)
  • 22 For a reconstruction of the historical debate see Dewey D. Wallace, Jr., ‘Via Media? A Paradigm Shi (...)

16As in the case of the word “Anglicanism”, the expression Via Media comes to us thanks to John Henry Newman who in 1834, conferred this title on two of his Tracts for the Times.21 For a long time, since the nineteenth century, historians have used this conceptual framework (of the Via Media) to describe English religious history. As D. D. Wallace once said, according to this narrative of the schism of Henry VIII, refusing at the same time both the Protestant doctrines and papal supremacy, had laid the foundation for the Church of England of the Elizabethan Age, which rejected extremism from both Calvinism, Puritanism and popery. Theologically, this position had been clarified over the years by prelates and theologians such as Matthew Parker (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575), John Jewel (author of the Apology of the Church of England in 1562), Richard Hooker (author Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, whose first volumes appeared in 1594 and 1597) and Lancelot Andrews (bishop of Chichester from 1605 to 1609, of Ely, from 1609 to 1619 and of Winchester from 1619 until his death in 1626). The Calvinist opposition to this compromise was contested by figures such as the archbishops of Canterbury Richard Bancroft (primate of England 1604-1610) and William Laud. The latter paid on the scaffold in 1645 for his theological positions, but, after the period of Puritan hegemony in Cromwell’s time, the Church of England had been restored in 1660, returning to its traditional theological position of equilibrium.22

  • 23 Nicholas Tyacke, ‘Puritanism, Arminianism and Counter-Revolution’, in Conrad Russell (ed.), The Ori (...)
  • 24 Nicholas Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism c.1590-1640, Oxford, 1987; Patric (...)
  • 25 George W. Bernard, ‘The Church of England c.1529-c.1642’, History, 75, 1990, p. 183-206; Christophe (...)
  • 26 A. Milton, ‘The Creation of Laudianism: A New Approach’, in T. Cogswell, R. Cust, P. Lake (eds.), P (...)
  • 27 Jean-Louis Quantin, The Church of England and Christian Antiquity: The Construction of a Confession (...)

17This narrative has been vigorously contested by a revisionist approach. Historians of the Church from the 1970s on have tended to strongly affirm the Reformed, if not specifically Calvinist nature of the Church of England until the mid-1620s, when an aggressive faction, the Arminians, emerged, challenging the predestinarian orthodox beliefs of the established Church of England. This faction, under Laud, imposed new rituals and ceremonies, instilling among a majority of believers the fear of a papist drift that, in turn, led to the civil wars in England and Scotland, and the emergence of Cromwell's Puritan faction. Nicolas Tyacke, in his essay “Puritanism, Arminianism and Counter-Revolution” published in a volume of essays edited by Conrad Russell in 1973, was the first to present this new interpretative scheme. In his essay, Tyacke explicitly accused Laud of having tried to demolish the Calvinist theological consensus that until then had characterized the Church of England.23 The idea of a “Calvinist consensus” placed under attack by Arminianism was then articulated by the same Tyacke in a 1987 monograph, by Patrick Collinson in The Religion of Protestants in 1982, by the already mentioned D.D. Wallace in Puritans and Predestination in 1982, and by Peter Lake in Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church in 1982.24 This historiographical approach has been challenged anew, although from different points of view, by George Bernard, Christopher Hill, Kevin Sharpe and Peter White.25 There is, however, no doubt that over the years the new Calvinist interpretative paradigm became hegemonic in the historiography.26 Among the most recent contributions I will mention only, for the richness of the sources that he uses, the important book by Jean-Louis Quantin 2009 – The Church of England and Christian Antiquity – that investigates the relationship between Scripture and Patristic in early modern English theologians. This book highlights how the lines of argument of the theologians of the Church of England in the Elizabethan era and the reign of James I differed little from that of the Reformed churches in continental Europe. It was only after the Civil War and the Interregnum that the Fathers of the Church became a central part of Anglican apologetics, “building” the myth of a Church of England, which in the balance between Scripture and patristic tradition, represented a mid-way between Rome and Geneva.27

  • 28 On these events see Stefano Villani: ‘«Cum scandalo catholicorum…». La presenza a Livorno di predic (...)

18The examination of the dossiers of the Inquisition of Livorno clearly shows that in Italy, during the confessional age, the Church of England, in the common perception and in the normal theological discourse, was perceived without hesitation as a Protestant Church. The “Anglican” peculiarities created, apparently, only a certain uneasiness in understanding what sort of Protestantism it was and so in which category to pigeonhole this Church and its members. However, it is extremely significant that one registers the absence, during the interrogations, of many of the theological and ecclesiastical elements that, as historians, we tend to consider essential to the definition of Protestantism (from the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, to justification by faith, to predestination). None of the examined cases mention possible similarities of the Church of England with the Catholic Church of Rome. Jokingly, we can say that at least at the local level of the diocese of Pisa, the inquisitors were on the side of the historical revisionists and they would be very surprised by the idea that the “Anglican” theology could represent a middle way between Rome and Geneva. This is true even after the Restoration when the idea of Anglicanism as a separate and unique Protestant denomination emerged among the High Churchmen. The same thing is confirmed even more if we look not only at the reconciliations but also to the inquisitorial trials to which, for various reasons, the British who lived in Leghorn were subjected to. For example, when some Anglican ministers left England during the Civil War and Interregnum as exiles and found employment as the religious ministers of the merchants at the British Factory of Livorno, they were banned at the instigation of the Inquisition authorities. They were unequivocally Prayer-book men and, in some cases, probably, of explicit Arminian sympathies, but it is no coincidence that they were always and exclusively defined in a derogatory manner as “predicanti” (“predicants”, and not with the more respectful word “predicatori”, “preachers” or “priests”).28

  • 29 For an Anglican theological perspective see Mary Tanner, ‘The Anglican Position on Apostolic Contin (...)
  • 30 André F. von Gunten, La Validité des ordinations anglicanes. Les documents de la Commission prépara (...)

19The question of whether, at a higher level of the Inquisitorial hierarchy, more refined interpretive categories were used remains open. The elements at our disposal would lead us to think not. One of the strengths of the vision of Anglicanism as a via media between Catholicism and Protestantism is the fact that the Church of England had maintained an episcopal hierarchy claiming the continuity of the apostolic succession.29 Without addressing here the important question of the actual importance, if any, that this question had for seventeenth-century Anglican divines, the Catholic Church stated clearly more than once that the ordination of priests according to the formulas prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer was invalid; and it should be noted that, almost always, when the Italian documents of the 1600s refer to the hierarchy of the Church of England, they used the word “pseudovescovi” (pseudo-bishops).30

  • 31 Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Med. Princ., 6387, cc. 296v-301v. On this report see Stefano Villani, (...)

20Perhaps, it is possible that a survey examining writings not produced in a clerical milieu could give us a different perspective. In the report that the Marquis Filippo Corsini wrote back from his voyage to England in 1669 as a member of the retinue of the great Prince of Tuscany, Cosimo de’ Medici, he inserted a description of the English religious denominations. Corsini highlighted as the main one, “professed by King and Parliament”, was called “Protestant” and, significantly, added that “according to the tenets of the Anglican liturgy (liturgia anglicana)” it makes a mixture (un mischio) of Calvinist, Catholic and Lutheran [doctrines], considering their King as a Pope.”31 This is an exception, not coincidentally that we can find in a document which was intended as a manuscript and for family circulation, but it is also extremely significant that, in fact, it suggests an interpretative paradigm more complex than that which emerges from the reconciliations in front of the Holy Office.

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Notes

1 Archivio Storico Diocesano di Pisa (Historical Diocesan Archive from now onwards ASDP), Inquisizione, 21, cc. 607r.

2 ASDP, Inquisizione, 21, cc. 607r-608v.

3 ASDP, Inquisizione, 21, c. 302r.

4 The Inquisition records of Pisa have undergone various reorganisations that have often altered the call numbers of the bundles. The fondo currently consists of 32 bundles with documents ranging from 1574 to 1785. A series of undergraduate dissertations of the University of Pisa written under the supervision of Luigina Carratori – and accessible both in the Diocesan Archives and in the Biblioteca di Storia e Filosofia of the University of Pisa – proceeded to inventorize and calendar about half the bundles of this fonds: Daniela Bondielli, Inventario del fondo del Tribunale della Inquisizione pisana (anni 1574-1628), anno accademico 1995-96, corso di laurea in beni culturali (filze 1-3, 5-7); Rossano Pirisi, Inventariazione del fondo del tribunale della Santa Inquisizione pisana (anni 1615-1616), corso di laurea in archivistica; Silvia Concetta Casella, Inventariazione del fondo del Tribunale dell’Inquisizione pisana (anni 1642-44, 1672-74), 2003 (inventario filze 14 e 15); Rosangela Arviotti, Inventariazione del fondo del Tribunale dell’Inquisizione pisana (1672-1674), anno accademico 2004-2005 (filza 17, anni 1659-1664) e Laura Boesini, Inventariazione del fondo del Tribunale dell’Inquisizione pisana (1659-1664), anno accademico 2004-2005. The bundle 32 has been analytically described in the dissertation of Daniela Baldacci, Rapporti tra Stato e Chiesa in Toscana da Cosimo III a Francesco Stefano di Lorena: Inquisizione toscana, Inquisizione pisana, relatore Ermenegildo Pastine, anno accademico 1978-1979. In the Diocesan Archives there is also to be found an analytical inventory edited by Daniela Bondielli which, in addition to summary descriptions of the documents she covered in her dissertation, continues the analytical description of the other three strings (years 1617-1625). For a description see Jaleh Bahrabadi, ‘L’Archivio del tribunale del Sant’Uffizio di Pisa’, Bollettino Storico Pisano, LXXVII, 2008, p. 133-162.

5 Because of the importance of the English community of Livorno, the number of reconciliations of British subjects in the inquisitorial documents of the Diocesan Archives of Pisa is much higher than that of reconciliations preserved in the comparable records of the Holy Office in Venice and in Naples. A significant number of spontaneous British abjurations is preserved in the Trinity College Library in Dublin. It is my intention to extend my search to this documentation. On the English reconciliations preserved in Dublin see John Tedeschi, Il giudice e l’eretico. Studi sull’Inquisizione Romana, Milan, Vita e Pensiero, 1997 (Eng. trans. 1991). On the conversions of British in Rome see Ricarda Matheus, Konversionen in Rom in der Frühen Neuzeit: Das Ospizio dei Convertendi 1673-1750, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2012; Irene Fosi, Convertire lo straniero. Forestieri e Inquisizione a Roma in età moderna, Roma, Viella, 2011. On the English presence in Rome in those years see also Antonio Menniti Ippolito, Il Cimitero Acattolico di Roma. La presenza protestante nella città del Papa, Roma, Viella, 2014. On non-Catholic abjurations in Palmanova see Giuseppina Minchella,“Porre un soldato alla inquisitione”: i processi del Sant’Ufficio nella fortezza di Palmanova 1596-1669, Trieste, Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2009. On foreign abjurations in Venice see Ead., Frontiere aperte. Musulmani, ebrei e cristiani nella Repubblica di Venezia (XVII secolo), Roma, Viella, 2014. I have already presented the first results of this work in progress in Stefano Villani, ‘Definire la Chiesa d’Inghilterra nell’Italia della prima età moderna. Le riconciliazioni di britannici nella documentazione dell’Inquisizione di Pisa: una ricerca in corso’, in Lucia Felici (ed.), Ripensare la riforma protestante. Nuove prospettive degli studi italiani, Torino, Claudiana, 2015, p. 373-386.

6 The quotes come from Eliseo Masini, Sacro arsenale overo Prattica dell’officio della Santa Inquisitione, Genova, 1621, see also Eliseo Masini, Il manuale degli inquisitori, ovvero, Pratica dell’Officio della Santa Inquisizione, Milano, Xenia, 1990. On the bureaucratic procedure of the reconciliations see Stefano Villani, ‘Dalla Gran Bretagna all’Italia: Narrazioni di conversione nel Sant’Uffizio di Pisa e Livorno’, in Andrea Addobbati, Marcella Aglietti (eds.), Livorno cosmopolita tra conflitti e mediazioni, Pisa, Pisa University Press, 2016, p. 109-126. See also Barbara Donati, Tra Inquisizione e Granducato. Storie di inglesi nella Livorno del primo Seicento. Prefazione di Adriano Prosperi, Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2010, p. 74-83. Masini was the most used and widely disseminated inquistorial handbook in early modern Italy. On the importance of this manual see A. Prosperi, L'Inquisizione romana: letture e ricerche, Rome, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2003, p. 316.

7 In a trial of 1618 – ASDP, Inquisizione, 7, cc. 246r-249v – the Scot Jacopo Locardo declared that he was born from heretical parents, of the sect of the Puritan Calvinists” di essere “nato di parenti heretici della setta de calvinisti puritani”. The term “Puritan” probably dates from 1564, see John Coffey, Paul C. H. Lim, The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism, Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 1, 19.

8 We cannot forget that often in early modern Italy the word “luterani” was a generic term that came close to how modern scholars use the term “Protestant”; inquisitors and polemicists often used the term to denote all varieties of Protestantism, regardless of the theological inaccuracy of such a use.

9 On the Medieval expression Ecclesia Anglicana see A.G. Dickens, The English Reformation, Batsford, London, 1964, p. 86-87; Denys Hay, ‘The Church of England in the Later Middle Ages’, in Id., Renaissance Essays, London, Hambledon Press, 1988, p. 233-248. According to the Oxford English Dictionary one of the first to use this term was Edmund Burke in 1797.

10 J. Robert Wright, ‘Anglicanism, Ecclesia Anglicana, and Anglican. An Essay on Terminology’, in Stephen Sykes, John E. Booty (eds.), The Study of Anglicanism, Philadelphia, Pa., SPCK/Fortress Press, 1988, p. 424-429. See also Paul D. L. Avis, The Identity of Anglicanism. Essentials of Anglican Ecclesiology, London, T & T Clark, 2007, p. 19-21.

11 Thomas Harrab, Tessaradelphus, or The four brothers The qualities of whom are contayned in this old riddle. Foure bretheren were bred at once without flesh, bloud, or bones. One with a beard, but two had none, the fourth had but halfe one [s. l.] 1615. Cfr. Julian Davies, The Caroline Captivity of the Church: Charles I and the Remoulding of Anglicanism, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992; Mark D. Chapman, Anglican Theology, London, T & T Clark, 2012, p. 162.

12 Bishop Gilbert Burnet, talking about the secretary of state Leoline Jenkins said that, despite being suspected to lean towards popery “he was set on every punctilio of the church of England to superstition” (Gilbert Burnet, History of His Own Time: From the Restoration of Charles the Second to the Treaty of Peace at Utrecht, in the Reign of Queen Anne. London, Chatto and Windus, 1875). This passage has been translated into French as “Ce qui donnoit lieu de le croire étoit son Anglicanisme outré. Point de si petite Cérémonie dans l’Eglise dominante qu’il n’observât à la superstition” (Gilbert Burnet, Memoires pour servir a l’Histoire de la Grande-Bretagne, sous les Regnes de Charles II et de Jaques II: Avec une Introduction, depuis le Commencement du Regne de Jaques I., jusqu’au retablissement de la famille royale, Londres, Ward, 1725, p. 338).

13 ‘Dissertazione sullo stato attuale del protestantesimo in Inghilterra e massime sulle opinioni che esprime intorno alla regola di fede recitata il dì 16 giugno 1837 nell’Accademia di Religione Cattolica da Niccola Wiseman censore della medesima’, Annali delle Scienze Religiose, XIV, 1837, p. 8, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30.

14 See, to state only one example, Angelo Sciacca, Relatione dello scisma anglicano e del glorioso martirio del b.p.f. Giovanni Foresta, Francescano Osservante: e di altri santi martiri d’Inghilterra nella persecutione d’Enrico Ottavo, Palermo, Per Gio. Antonio de Franceschi, 1597. In the report of the Venetian embassy of Lorenzo Soranzo and Girolamo Venier to Williiam III (1696) (Relazione d’Inghilterra) the word “Anglicani” is used as a noun.

15 ASDP, Inquisizione, 31, cc. 113r-117v, see ASDP, Inquisizione, 30, c. 400r.

16 The expression “Established Church” dated from the Canons of 1604 where we can read: “The Church of England by law established under the King’s Majesty”, cfr. Charles Henry Davis, The English Church Canons of 1604: With Historical Introduction and Notes, Critical and Explanatory..., London, H. Sweet, 1869, p. 14.

17 Masini, Sacro arsenale, op. cit., p. 227.

18 ASDP, Inquisizione, 23, cc. 442r-448v. Again we register here a correction of the scribe, who after the word "Presbyterian", had overwritten and then crossed out the word Protestant. This double rethink signals once again a certain intellectual discomfort when confronting the British religious landscape.

19 ASDP, Inquisizione, 5, cc. 570r-577v, Spontanea comparsa di Joan Ruts, Richard Thorton, Matteo Rumboldt, Giovanni Livino, Niccolò Lang, transcription in Donati, Andrea Addobbati e Marcella Aglietti, p. 240-246; ASDP, Inquisizione, 5, cc. 554r-559v, Spontanea comparsa di Guglielmo Turchi, Giovanni Norris, Enrico Pery, transcription in Donati, Tra Inquisizione e Granducato, op. cit., p. 232-238.

20 On the role of the interpreters as spiritual advisers of the people who decided to convert see Villani, Dalla Gran Bretagna all’Italia, art. cit.

21 The Tracts were the 38th (June 25, 1834) and 41st (August 24, 1834). See also John Henry Newman, Apologia pro vita sua, edited by M. J. Svaglic, Oxford, 1967, p. 400-401. On the Tractarian movement see Peter Nockles, ‘Survivals or New Arrivals? The Oxford Movement and the Nineteenth-Century Historical Construction of Anglicanism’, in Stephen Platten (ed.), Anglicanism and the Western Christian Tradition: Continuity, Change and the Search for Communion, Norwich, Canterbury Press, 2003, p. 144-191. In particular for the importance of the Tractarian movement for the construction of the idea of Via Media see Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘The Myth of the English Reformation’, Journal of British Studies, 30, 1991, p. 1-19; Id., ‘Changing Historical Perspectives on the English Reformation: The Last Fifty Years’, in Peter D. Clarke, Charlotte Methuen (eds.), The Church on its Past, Woodbridge/Rochester NY The Boydell Press, 2013 (Studies in Church History 49), 2013, p. 282-302.

22 For a reconstruction of the historical debate see Dewey D. Wallace, Jr., ‘Via Media? A Paradigm Shift’, Anglican and Episcopal History, 72, 2003, p. 2-21 (see. part. p. 15, for the vision of the Church of England as a middle way between Wittenberg and Geneva). See also Nicholas Tyacke, ‘Anglican Attitudes: Some Recent Writings on English Religious History, from the Reformation to the Civil War’ (1996), reprinted in Id., Aspects of English Protestantism c.1530-1700, Manchester, University Press, 2001, p. 176-202; Peter Lake, Michael Questier, ‘Introduction’, in Conformity and Orthodoxy in the English Church, c.1560-1660, ed. Lake, Questier, Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 2000, p. ix-xx.

23 Nicholas Tyacke, ‘Puritanism, Arminianism and Counter-Revolution’, in Conrad Russell (ed.), The Origins of the English Civil War, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 1973, p. 119-143.

24 Nicholas Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism c.1590-1640, Oxford, 1987; Patrick Collinson, The Religion of Protestants. The Church in English Society 1559-1625, Oxford University Press, 1982.

25 George W. Bernard, ‘The Church of England c.1529-c.1642’, History, 75, 1990, p. 183-206; Christopher Hill, ‘Archbishop Laud’s place in English History’, in Id., A Nation of Change and Novelty, London, New York, Routledge, 1990, Kevin Sharpe, Politics and Ideas in Early Stuart England. Essays and Studies, London, Pinter, 1989; Id., The Personal Rule of Charles I, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1992; Peter White, ‘The Via Media in the Early Stuart Church’, in Kenneth Fincham (ed.), The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1993, p. 211-230; Peter White, Predestination, Policy and Polemic: Conflict and Consensus in the English Church from the Reformation to the Civil War, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992.

26 A. Milton, ‘The Creation of Laudianism: A New Approach’, in T. Cogswell, R. Cust, P. Lake (eds.), Politics, Religion and Popularity in Early Stuart Britain: Essays in Honour of Conrad Russell, Cambridge,

Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 162-184; Christopher Haigh, English Reformations: Religion, Politics and Society under the Tudors, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993; Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996; J. Spurr, The Restoration Church of England 1646-1689, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1991, p. 394-396; Michael Brydon, The Evolving Reputation of Richard Hooker: An Examination of Responses 1600-1714, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006; Ethan H. Shagan, The Rule of Moderation. Violence, Religion and the Politics of Restraint in Early Modern England, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

27 Jean-Louis Quantin, The Church of England and Christian Antiquity: The Construction of a Confessional Identity in the 17th Century, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009. Cfr. Calvin Lane, The Laudians and the Elizabethan Church: History, Conformity and Religious Identity in Post-Reformation England, Anbindgon, Routledge, 2014.

28 On these events see Stefano Villani: ‘«Cum scandalo catholicorum…». La presenza a Livorno di predicatori protestanti inglesi tra il 1644 e il 1670’, Nuovi Studi Livornesi, VII, 1999, p. 9-58; Id., ‘L’histoire religieuse de la communauté anglaise de Livourne (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles)’, in Albrecht Burkardt (ed.), Commerce, voyage et expérience religieuse (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles), with the collaboration of Gilles Bertrand and Yves Krumenacker, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2007, p. 257-274.

29 For an Anglican theological perspective see Mary Tanner, ‘The Anglican Position on Apostolic Continuity and Apostolic Succession in the Porvoo Common Statement’, in Visible unity and the ministry of oversight. The Second Theological Conference held under the Meissen agreement between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Germany West Wickham, March 1996, London, Church House Publishing, 1997, p. 108-119.

30 André F. von Gunten, La Validité des ordinations anglicanes. Les documents de la Commission préparatoire à la lettre «Apostolicæ Curæ». Tome I. Les dossiers précédents, Firenze Olschki, 1997 (Introduction, transcription et notes par André F. von Gunten, OP; avec la collaboration de Mgr Alejandro Cifres). Nonetheless it is significant that, when in the summer of 1684, an Anglican priest of French origin then in Paris who had “embraced the Catholic religion” wanted to get married, the nuncio Mariangelo Ranuzzi wanted to have confirmation from the Holy Office “if in England after the apostasy of Henry VIII and of the kingdom” (“se in Inghilterra dopo l’apostasia d’Henrico Ottavo e del regno dalla religione cattolica”).

31 Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Med. Princ., 6387, cc. 296v-301v. On this report see Stefano Villani, ‘La religione degli inglesi e il viaggio del principe. Note sulla Relazione Ufficiale del viaggio di Cosimo de’ Medici in Inghilterra (1669)’, Studi Secenteschi, XLV, 2004, p. 175-194.

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Stefano Villani, « Defining the Church of England in Italy in the Early Modern Times: British Reconciliations in the Documentation of the Inquisition of Pisa », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 31 | 2017, mis en ligne le 06 octobre 2017, consulté le 17 octobre 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/1775 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.1775

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Stefano Villani

Stefano Villani is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. His research has been characterized by an interdisciplinary approach that interweaves philosophical and literary topics with the more usual historical ones. His early research was oriented towards the cultural and religious English history of the seventeenth century – and he has worked on the Quaker missions in the Mediterranean and published numerous articles and books in this area. More recently he has worked on the religious history of the English community in Leghorn and on the Italian translations of the Book of Common Prayer. Among his numerous publications: George Frederick Nott (1768-1841). Un ecclesiastico anglicano tra teologia, letteratura, arte, archeologia, bibliofilia e collezionismo (Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 2012); Il calzolaio quacchero e il finto cadì (Palermo: Sellerio, 2001); A True Account of the Great Tryals and Cruel Sufferings Undergone by Those Two Faithful Servants of God Katherine Evans and Sarah Cheevers, London 1663. La vicenda di due quacchere prigioniere dell’inquisizione di Malta (Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore, 2003); Tremolanti e Papisti. Missioni quacchere nell’Italia del Seicento (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1996). He is one of the organizers of the Research Group in Early Modern Religious Dissents & Radicalism.

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