Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy

March 2007
8 black and white, 2 line illustrations
228 pages
9x6 in
Changing Perspectives on Early Modern Europe
ISBN: 9781580462396
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS010000, REL033000, REL108020

Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy

The Hospital of Treviso, 1400-1530

David M. D'Andrea

A compelling examination of how a religious brotherhood administered charity in its local community and acted as mediator between provincial elites and the early modern state.
Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy explores the often subtle and sometimes harsh realities of life on the Venetian mainland. Focusing on the confraternity of Santa Maria dei Battuti and its Ospedale, the book addresses a number of well-established and newly articulated historiographical questions: the governance of territorial states, the civic and religious role of confraternities, the status of women and marginalized groups, and popular religious devotion. Adapting the objectives and methods of microhistory, D'Andrea has written neither a traditional history of political subjugation nor a straightforward survey of poor relief. Instead, thematic chapters survey the activities of a powerful religious brotherhood [Santa Maria dei Battuti] and document the interconnected local, regional, and international factors that fashioned the social world of Venetian subjects.
Grounded in previously unexplored archival material, the book is an innovative study of the nexus between local religion and Venetian territorial power, providing scholars with this first scholarly monograph of the city that served as the keystone of Venice's mainland empire. This original approach to the critical relationship between provincial powers and the central government also contributes to other important areas of historical inquiry, including the history of popular religion, poor relief, medicine, and education.

David D'Andrea is Associate Professor of History at Oklahoma State University.

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Table of Contents

The City of God
The Confraternal Family
The Bonds and Bounds of Charity
Medical Care and Public Health
Instruction for This Life and the Next
Crisis and Reform


One of the book's greatest virtues is D'Andrea's minute attention to the evidence; he makes full use of the wealth of records left behind by Renaissance Italy's accountants and bureaucrats. . . The book is well-designed and clearly written, suitable for upper-level courses in Italian and early modern history. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW [Carrie Benes]

D'Andrea succeeds very well in bringing out the special characteristics of Battuti of Treviso. He displays a sharp eye for detail, closely examines the social and political context of the institution, and writes the kind of satisfying history that springs from account and minute books rather than chronicles. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, December 2007 [Brian Pullan]

With its clear presentation and broad-ranging topics, this work makes an important contribution to the field of contraternity studies, as it highlights the multiple significances of these institutions in the centuries after their foundations. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY, Spring 2008 [Roisin Cossar]

This lively and richly-documented study goes beyond social and religious themes and directly addresses some of the key political questions of the Renaissance: the relations of center and periphery in the early modern state, the informal exercise of power in subject cities, the construction of social order through charity, medical care, and popular religion, and the relation of lay and clerical elements in civic religion. Necessary reading for those wanting to know what made the Renaissance city tick. ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY [Nicholas Terpstra]

As lucid an account of confraternity life as one could hope to find, this study lays bare the myriad ways in which religion permeated the social fabric at the dawn of the modern age, and the role it played in the creation of a new civic consciousness. Based on meticulous archival research, Civic Christianity in Renaissance Italy enhances our understanding of several topics at once, as all great books do: the history of Venice and Treviso, and also the history of medicine, popular piety, confraternities, urban poor relief, and religious reform. A remarkable achievement. --Carlos Eire, Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University, and author of From Madrid to Purgatory: The Art and Craft of Dying in Sixteenth Century Spain

A valuable contribution...based on extensive research in an unusually rich archive. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL

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