restricted access Chapter 3. Venice in the Wake of the Interdict
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64 C h a p t e r 3 Venice in the Wake of the Interdict Although Naples and Venice were two of the most important local inquisitions, the Congregation attended to them in very different ways. While Naples drew steadily more interest in the seventeenth century, Rome expended most of its energy on Venice in one decade-long burst in the aftermath of the interdict of 1606. By the end of Paul V’s reign in 1621, Rome took not much more notice of Venice than of the local inquisition in, say, Cremona, and the situation changed little under Urban VIII. For the three years during which we have a record of Rome’s out-letters, 1626­ –1628, 300 or so per year went to Naples, but only a handful to Venice. The way Rome handled the nunciatures in the two places also indicates the status of their respective inquisitions. In Naples, several of the nuncios, beginning with Paolo Emilio Filonardi, had been members of the Congregation’s staff, and the local Roman minister was almost always such a professional, the commissary, the assessor, or even the master of the sacred palace. The Venetian inquisitor never had such training, and the nuncio was always a diplomat, not an inquisitor. Two of the most important nuncios in our period, including the longest-serving one, went on to become Inquisitors, the reverse of what happened in Naples, where the nuncios rarely became cardinals and never Inquisitors. It was almost as if the Inquisition and its papal masters often went through the motions in Venice, while they paid scrupulous attention to what happened in Naples. This relative neglect may help to account for the fact that we have much less information about the inquisitors of Venice by comparison than about those in either Naples or Florence. Despite his twenty-twoyear tenure, we know almost nothing about Giovanni Domenico Vignuzzio or Vinuccio, for example.1 This lack of basic biographical information about the inquisitors in Venice suggests that they were much less substantial figures than their counterparts in either Naples or Florence. Venice in the Wake of the Interdict 65 These radically different experiences arose from both local and global geopolitical circumstances. Not that there was much difference in the attitude of the secular authorities in the two places. In both Venice and Naples, the governments regarded the Inquisition as virtually under their control. Certainly, at any moment of the frequent conflicts in both places, the final decision had to remain in lay hands, and more often than not it did. It would be hard to say which set of lay authorities showed less enthusiasm about the Inquisition. Venice had never seen the near-rebellion that broke out in Naples in 1549 when the pope tried to introduce the Roman Inquisition, but putting its institutions in place was no easier on the lagoon than on the bay. The Venetians always had more official control than the Neapolitans, because the metropolitan Venetian tribunal contained three lay members who in effect directed its business.2 This happened despite the fact that, unlike the situation in Naples, the nuncio was a permanent, indeed the dominant, member of the Venetian tribunal. The nuncio could and often did intervene in trials in Naples, but he did not have a regular seat on the Inquisition’s court nor sign its sentences as he did in Venice , along with the patriarch, the Venetian equivalent of archbishop and, even more than the archbishop of Naples, subordinate to the Inquisition. The interdict had been a long time coming before Paul V imposed it in spring 1606.3 The Venetians, who needed room to maneuver, later claimed that the pope had acted without consulting anyone else.4 However that may be, among the irritants driving Paul to such an extreme measure was Venetian interference with the local Inquisition.5 One handy summary of Venetian attitudes , arising out of the interdict and written shortly thereafter, was Paolo Sarpi’s Discorso dell’origine, forma, leggi, ed uso dell’Ufficio dell’inquisitione nella città, e dominio di venetia.6 Among the principles enshrined therein was that Venice never agreed to the appointment of inquisitors anywhere in its territories without its approval and more often than not on its nomination.7 (This principle may help to explain the long tenure of inquisitor Vignuzzio, who served from 1600 to 1622, as Brian Pullan suggests.)8 No decrees coming from outside Venice were allowed to be entered into a...


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