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The millennium in Renaissance Italy: a persecuted belief?

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The attitude of the Church authorities in the early sixteenth century to expressions of prophetic and particularly millenarian thought varied considerable according to factors often unrelated to the nature of the ideas expressed. Whilst the Fifth Lateran Council drew up decrees against prophetic preaching, such prophetic ideas were expressed at the council itself. The contrasting careers of individuals such as Giorgio Benigno Salviati, S Taleazzi, and Teodoro da Scutari indicate that the authorities were more concerned with actions than ideas. Key elements leading to trouble with the authorities included: direct and personal criticism of the papacy; direct and ungoverned access to a lay audience; prophecies of divine intervention overturning the ecclesiastical hierarchy; and any association with ideas perceived to originate with Savonarola. A significant factor which dictated the fate of many prophets was the nature and extent of their criticism of the Church, but of equal importance seems to have been their position in the hierarchy and the means used to express their ideas.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 1999

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