- Intellettuali in esilio. Dall’Inquisizione romana al fascismo by John Tedeschi
This volume is a collection of articles of John Tedeschi, European bibliographer, later curator of rare books and manuscripts at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and historian of the Roman Inquisition and Italian Protestant and Socinian exiles from Italy in the sixteenth century. [End Page 615]
The volume begins with a warm appreciation of Tedeschi by the editors. Then Tedeschi provides a long and interesting summary of his scholarly career. He tells us how he came to write many of his articles, many of them appearing in his well-known book, The Prosecution of Heresy: Collected Studies on the Inquisition in Early Modern Italy (Binghamton, NY, 1991). In honest fashion he also describes some large projects that did not reach fruition. It is an account rich in information about the development of Inquisition studies, friendships, and the opening of the Holy Office archive in Rome in 1998. Tedeschi is best known for his stance against the black legend of the Inquisition. He has argued consistently that, although the Inquisition did not offer moral justice in a period in which the papacy, most Protestants, and both Catholic and Protestant rulers believed that they had the duty to prosecute those of different religious faiths, the Inquisition did offer legal justice. That is, it followed moderate norms of law, procedure, and evidence, and did not make capricious judgments. For these views Tedeschi has received some criticism from Italian scholars, who until recently have seen the Inquisition and Index as extreme institutions that blocked Italy’s progress toward modernity. I can testify to that. When I published a book in 1977 that articulated the same views as Tedeschi, some Italian reviewers strongly criticized it, and I was never invited to speak at any of the conferences on the Italian Inquisition of the 1980s and 1990s.
The rest of the volume consists of nine Italian and ten English articles of Tedeschi, almost all published after his 1991 book. The first six add new information to the story of the Roman Inquisition, its procedures, and its records. Of particular interest is “Confronting the Roman Inquisition. The Status of the Defendant,” a very lucid discussion of complex material. The next seven articles follow the careers of several Italian exiles of the sixteenth century who fled Italy because of fear of persecution for their religious views and then made rich contributions to European culture. They include the philologian Ludovico Castelveltro, the biblical scholar Giovanni Diodati, the legists Alberico Gentili and Matteo Gribaldi, the theologian Peter Martyr Vermigli, and others. The last group of six articles studies the lives of some eminent twentieth-century scholars, in whose lives the theme of exile was prominent. Elisabeth Feist Hirsch and Paul Oskar Kristeller were forced to leave Germany, then Italy, because they were Jewish, while Roland H. Bainton and Delio Cantimori befriended and helped scholars in distress. The theme of exile has personal meaning to Tedeschi, because he was born in Italy as the son of a physician and professor of medicine at the University of Ferrara who lost his position because of Benito Mussolini’s antisemitic laws of 1938. Little Guido Tedeschi came to America, became John Tedeschi, and, like many other European exiles, has enriched American scholarship.
All of the articles are clearly written, and are richly and carefully documented. This is a valuable collection of articles that should be of interest to historians of religious Italy and anyone interested in the careers of some of the greatest historians of the twentieth century. [End Page 616]