Northern Illinois University Press

Marcello Cervini and Ecclesiastical Government in Tridentine Italy

William V. Hudon

Marcello Cervini (1501-1555) was involved in virtually every aspect of ecclesiastical life in sixteenth-century Italy. He administered three dioceses, traveled widely on ambassadorial assignments, organized the agenda for the Council of Trent, presided over a curial reform commission, occupied a position of leadership in the Roman Inquisition, and served briefly as Pope Marcellus II.

In this biography of Cervini, Hudon offers a revisionist portrait that reveals the reformer and his works. He shows how Cervini, long regarded as one of the most important ecclesiastical figures in the Tridentine reformation, profoundly influenced reform before, during, and after the Council of Trent. In the course of his reassessment, Hudon illuminates the politics and culture of the sixteenth century.

A product of the Renaissance culture of early modern Italy, Cervini lived and worked during a time of theological, political, and ecclesiastical upheaval. These forces of change, along with his work within an administration that maintained the legacy of the corrupt Renaissance papacy, were crucial in shaping Cervini's reformist attitude toward ecclesiastical government and its exercise. As a leader of the curia and ultimately the church at large, Hudon shows, Cervini demonstrated the commitment to undertake real reform, although in a manner different from his immediate predecessors and successors.

A valuable contribution to the history of early modern Italy, this study offers a reassessment of traditional scholarly interpretations, especially those that make distinctions between prelates on the basis of "spiritual" or "intransigent" attitudes, which Hudon claims are misleading and do not adequately account for the careers of individuals such as Cervini. Hudon draws extensively from archival sources, including Cervini's personal correspondence with political, literary, artistic, and ecclesiastical figures. The result is a thorough, human depiction of the man and his times.

(1992) 271 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-169-8
cloth $38.50

William V. Hudon is Associate Professor of History at Bloomsburg University.

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Cervini in History
Chapter Two: Preparation as Humanist and Curialist
Chapter Three: At the Council of Trent
Chapter Four: Sixteenth-Century Ecclesiastical Authority
Chapter Five: Episcopal and Inquisitorial Activity to 1550
Chapter Six: Episcopal and Inquisitorial Activity after 1550
Abbreviations and Notes
Selected Bibliography

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-169-8
cloth $38.50