The Counter-Reformation in the Villages: Religion and Reform in the Bishopric of Speyer, 1560-1720by Marc R. Forster (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 82, Number 4, October 1996
- pp. 720-721
- View Citation
- Additional Information
720BOOK REVIEWS eludes names and marginaUa; it permits the editors to clarify some points and to make or correct identifications. Next foUow four short new documents (47 pp.): a Ust of the books and writings taken from Morone and then restored to IUm (1559); a Ust of the writings that the inquisitors sought from Morone (1559); an anonymous theological opinion on the trial of Morone (1559); and a summary of accusations of aUeged heresy against Vittoria Colonna, Marcantonio Flaminio,Alvise PriuU, Pietro Carnesecchi, and Reginald Pole (ca. 1570). The Summarium and the other documents come from the Archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine ofthe Faith. This is an encouraging sign, but far short of unrestricted scholarly access to the whole archives. The poUcy of denying access continues to be foolish and damaging to the reputation of theVatican. One can only praise Firpo and Marcatto for this latest volume in an admirable series. The narrative and the documents are carefully presented and copiously annotated. WhUe the reviewer cannot check the transcription, he would be very sufrised to find any mistakes. AU students of sixteenth-century Italian religious history are indebted to Ftfpo and Marcatto for these important volumes. Paul F. Grendler University ofToronto The Counter-Reformation in the Villages: Religion and Reform in the Bishopric ofSpeyer, 1560-1 720. By Marc R. Forster. (Ithaca, NewYork: CorneU University Press. 1992. Pp. xiv, 273. $37.50.) Through no fault of the publisher or this journal, this review is egregiously late, for which the reviewer apologizes. There are two common ways of writing an important book. One is to explore a neglected but important topic; another is to comment intelUgently on the Uterature concerning a well-known but important topic. In his first book, Marc Forster here tries to do some of each, but succeeds better at the first than at the second. He has examined carefuUy the history of the bishopric of Speyer over a period of almost two hundred years, an important topic on which it has been hard to obtain information even Ui German, and on which the only EngUsh-language guidance has been the 1978 study of the bishopric of Speyer by Lawrence Duggan, a medievaUst examination of the governance of the Hochstift down to 1552. Refreshingly, Forster sets his sights on more than the question of governance and has important things to say about local reUgion, popular piety, and the growth of what he calls "CathoUc consciousness" in the decades 1650-1720. He has combed monastic and cathedral chapter records, visitation reports, fiscal documents, city and territorial (secular) council protocols , and the plentiful records of the Jesuits for the diocese of Speyer. Such a wide search for records of CathoUc life enables Forster to comment inteUigently on why the bishopric was so slow to embrace the reforms of the BOOK REVIEWS721 CouncU of Trent. Basically Forster argues that the bishop, his chapter, and, indeed , the whole church in the bishopric of Speyer were so structuraUy enmeshed Ui the status quo that they could not and would not reform themselves. But another crucial reason was the highly splintered territorial status of the bishopric and of the diocese itself. Within the boundaries of the diocese lay territories belonging to six major principaUties and four imperial cities, to say nothing oflesser fragments. Even more difficult for the bishop was the fact that his own secular prUicipaUty was a congeries of particles on both sides of die Rhine. And so the question of reform was constantly at odds not only with the forces of stagnation and inertia within the bishopric but also with the conflicting loyalties of parishes, cities, and territories (especiaUy die Electoral Palatinate ), which had gone over heavüy to the Lutheran, and later to the Reformed (Calvinist) movements. Forster chooses to concentrate most of his attention on the problems within the bishopric, and by taking an unusuaUy long view,he can show that serious changes Ui popular piety and practice came only Ui the relatively neglected decades after the ThirtyYears' War, when the ordinary people of the Catholic middle Rhine began to adopt processions, pUgrimages, and an intensified cult of the Eucharist with an enthusiasm unknown Ui the sixteenth...