Ambra Moroncini – The Accademia della Virtù and Religious Dissent



Event Date: 17 – 18 September 2011
British Library Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB

The Italian Academies 1525–1700 Project presents:


This major international conference is being hosted as part of the AHRC funded research project The Italian Academies 1525-1700: the first intellectual networks of early modern Europe.

Academies represent a vital and characteristic dimension of early modern culture.
There were ca. 600 Academies in Italy in the period 1525-1700. Frequently international in membership, and in correspondence with scholars across Europe, they were fundamental to the development of the intellectual networks later defined as the ‘République des Lettres’, and to the dissemination of ideas in early modern Europe. Their membership included pioneering scientists, writers, artists, political thinkers, and representatives of both sexes and all social classes. The interests of the Academies ranged from the humanities, to the figurative and performance arts, natural sciences and medicine; many were interdisciplinary in their outlook and activities.

However, the social and cultural phenomenon of the Italian Academies has hitherto attracted relatively little research due in part to the wide range of their interests and difficulties in accessing relevant information.

The conference aims to explore research questions raised by the activities of Academies in this period.

Ambra Moroncini (University of Sussex) – The Accademia della Virtù and Religious Dissent

Little has been written about the Accademia della Virtù, which was active in Rome from around the mid-1530s to early 1540s. Originally known as the Accademia dei Vignaiuoli, it was established as a centre for discussing and promoting burlesque verses, of which Francesco Berni was the most inspiring figure. However, it soon distinguished itself by bringing together prominent churchmen and renowned literary men whose works turned out to be more than just witty and inventive divertissement.  Among its members we find the Florentines Ippolito de Medici and Giovan Francesco Bini; Annibal Caro from Marches; Giulio Landi from Piacenza; Claudio Tolomei from Siena; Francesco Maria Molza and Gandolfo Porrino from Modena. Quite surprisingly, the poet Marcantonio Flaminio, co-author of the Beneficio di Cristo, the most important book of the so-called Italian Reformation, and also Marcello Cervini, the future pope Marcellus II, whose ‘spiritual’ efforts at the Council of Trento are well known, are also listed as being its members. This paper, very much a work in progress, seeks to establish whether the Accademia della Virtù might have acted either as a centre favorably disposed towards a literary production with cautious reformist connotations, or as a safe place for some key members of this academy to hearten religious dissent.



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