Contemplatives in action : Vincenzo Querini, Gasparo Contarini and the shaping of politics in Renaissance Italy
Bowd, Stephen D.
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This thesis offers a new way of understanding the history of Italy and of Venice during the period 1494-1530. Using newly examined manuscript and printed materials as well as older secondary sources, it seeks to demonstrate the close connection between religion and politics through the biographies of the Venetian clerics Vincenzo Querini (1479-1514) and Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542). Chapter 1 provides the first comprehensive biography of Vincenzo Querini and introduces the major themes of this study - the pan-European nature of Venetian politics and religion, and the relationship between the active and the contemplative lives. The exchange of letters between Querini and Contarini during 1511-14 (considered in Chapter 2) can only be properly understood in the context of these themes, Querini's biography, and the centrality of his friendship with Contarini. Querini's role in monastic and curial reform is highlighted in the third and fourth chapters, and particular emphasis is placed upon his Florentine connections - especially with the piagnoni. In Chapter 5 Contarini's work on the ideal bishop (De officio episcopi) is placed in the light of Querini 's reform thought and is also examined in order to show its affinities with Contarini's treatise on the government of Venice (De magistratibus et republica Venetorum). Chapter 6 establishes for the first time the pre-publication circulation of the work, and examines its audience. Chapter 7 consists of a close textual reading of themes of harmony and discord in the book - thereby establishing Contarini's debt to Thomist ecclesiology, and to Aristotelian political and moral theory. The final two chapters consider these themes in relation to Contarini's Florentine connections, and within the context of Florentine and Venetian republicanism, and of Florentine exiles in Venice.