Lay Confraternities and Civic Religion in Renaissance Bologna

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This book analyzes the social, political, and religious roles of confraternities - the lay groups through which the Italians of the Renaissance expressed their individual and collective religious beliefs - in Bologna in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Confraternities shaped the civic religious cult through charitable activities, public shrines, and processions. This civic religious role expanded as they became politicized: patricians used the confraternities increasingly in order to control the civic religious cult, civic charity, and the city itself. The book examines in detail how confraternities initially provided laypeople of the artisanal and merchant classes with a means of expressing a religious life separate from, but not in opposition to, the local parish or mendicant house. By the mid-sixteenth century, patricians dominated the traditional lay confraternities while artisans and merchants had few options beyond parochial confraternities which were controlled by parish priests.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Nicholas Terpstra has written an excellent book, one that has been carefully crafted and researched to discover and analyze the interwoven strands of religion and society." James R. Banker, Journal of Modern History

"...significantly advances our understanding of the devotional and political context of premodern Italian cities, in this case Bologna....provides a new and revealing insight into the multiple patterns of spirituality, devotion, charity, and politics to be found in the Italian Renaissance....makes an invaluable contribution for its topic, its scholarship, and its city of interest." Canadian Journal of History

"Terpstra has done an impressive job of tracing the charitable and religious activities of the confraternities in the light of Bologna's continually changing political landscape." Timothy Fehler, Journal of Church and State

"The book reviewed here is a fine example of a wide-ranging and methodologically sophisticated inquiry into the nature and history of confraternities in an important Italian City....certain to interest students of society, religion, and poltics,,,.Terpstra skilfully guides the reader through the intricaies of confraternal forms of worship, ritual, organization, internal administration, finances and sources of wealth. The book's strength is its thorough grounding in primary sources....This book is a remarkable achievement. Impressively well informed about primary and secondary sources, learned, subtle, and thoughful, it weaves institutional, religious, and political history into a whole. It lets evidence speak without overwhelming the reader with tangential details....this is a work which opens fresh dimensions for all those in quest of understanding sixteenth-century Italy." Elisabeth Gleason, Sixteenth Century Journal

"Nicholas Terpstra's study of civic religion in Renaissance Bologna is a significant contribution to the growing body of literature on lay confraternities...." Daniel Bornstein, Speculum

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
Prologue 1
1 The early quattrocento: confraternities, observance movements, and the civic cult 14
2 Lay spirituality and confraternal worship 38
3 The mechanics of membership 83
4 Communal identity, administration, and finances 134
5 Confraternal charity and the civic cult in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries 171
Epilogue 217
Bibliography 226
Index 246
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