- Il cardinale Giovanni Morone e l'ultima fase del concilio di Trento. Atti del convegno "Il cardinale Giovanni Morone e l'ultima fase del Concilio di Trento." Trento, 5-6 giugno 2009
This volume illuminates significant facets of one of the most prominent clerics in early-modern Italy, Cardinal Giovanni Morone. Massimo Firpo and Dario Marcatto blazed the trail leading to the sophisticated, nuanced portrait of Morone that emerged over the past thirty years, and the essays here collected represent a substantial further contribution. All who study the age of the Council of Trent will find this book valuable.
In the introduction, Firpo and coeditor Ottavia Niccoli set the stage perfectly for the excellent studies that follow. Firpo and Niccoli insist that Morone, as legate to the final sessions at the council, beautifully reflects the diversity and complexity—if not to say the contradictions—of the sixteenth-century Church. Readers learn thereafter of interesting twists in the work of Morone after the election of Pope Pius IV until the death of the cardinal in 1580. Elena Bonora, Umberto Mazzone, Alain Tallon, and Alessandro Paris focused their fine studies on the well-established political savvy of Morone and his diplomatic relationships, but related some surprises. Morone, the great ecclesiastical politician and diplomat, apparently was manipulated by the very pope who rehabilitated him when negotiations with the Hapsburgs required it. Political expediency seemingly determined a great deal of his own operation as legate at Trent, as he attempted to divide adversaries, and to forge compromise when necessary with unlikely partners—like the cardinal of Lorraine—to secure the papal agenda. Some of Morone's closer collaborators were politically suspect in the papal curia such as the pro-imperial Cristoforo Madruzzo, who strongly criticized Pope Paul IV's early appointments of cardinals. So, when Morone stared down the barrel of an inquisitorial investigation, [End Page 801] his enemies were apparently motivated by an anti-imperial political agenda, not just by Paul IV's storied intransigence toward heresy. Likewise, when the path for Morone to the papal throne was blocked, it probably had as much to do with the political role he had played as with his infamous trial before the Roman inquisition.
Gigliola Fragnito, Lucia Felici, and Maurizio Sangalli have contributed rich works on the reform commitments exhibited by Morone in relationships with Ludovico Beccadelli; Egidio Foscarari, O.P.; and St. Carlo Borromeo. They found Morone taking sides at times with pope and curia against members of the spirituali on significant reform matters while assisting to secure, through publication, the ideas of its most prominent members: Gasparo Contarini and Reginald Pole. Morone may thus have spent his last years struggling to reconcile pro-papal activities against fidelity to his intellectual, cultural, and religious patrimony. Surely, the best essay in this volume is Sangalli's contribution on Morone's interaction with Borromeo. To Sangalli, Morone was neither a revolutionary reformer nor the quintessential ecclesiastical prince, whereas Borromeo appears more conciliatory, less austere, and more willing to take the advice of his friend, Morone, toward compromise on reform matters. Much more, that is, than we have been conditioned to think.
Two other essays here—a study of images of Morone in art by Roberto Pancheri and one on images of the prelate in history by Pierroberto Scaramella—are fascinating but less satisfying. Pancheri provided more of a list of works with illustrations than an analysis of iconography. Scaramella traced presentations of Morone in historical works from Iohannes Georg Frickius in the early-eighteenth century to Hubert Jedin in the twentieth, but apparently in part to discredit Jedin. Scaramella began noting that differences in interpretation—and, it would seem, in the level of familiarity with Morone's complexity—were affected by the focus chosen by...