The Italian Inquisition


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Christopher F. Black

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The Italian Inquisition, or Holy Office, was established in 1542, stimulated partly by the earlier Spanish operation. Certainly Spain’s “black legend” affected opinions of the Inquisition in Italy, but as this pioneering book shows, there were significant differences between their operations, targets, and casualties.


In this pioneering history of the Italian Inquisition, Christopher F. Black charts how it developed and changed over time. He maps its cumbersome means of command, supervision, and action, as well as its role as a surprisingly approachable regulatory body working within communities. Ranging right across the Italian panorama, and rooting his enquiry in striking individual cases, Black uncovers Inquisitional procedure from denunciation to punishment. This scrupulous and richly rewarding book shows how the Inquisition shaped Italy’s religious and social worlds.


Christopher Black is professor of history at the University of Glasgow. His previous books include Early Modern Italy: A Social History and Church, Religion and Society in Early Modern Italy.

"Christopher Black has delivered the book that historians of early modern Europe have all been waiting for. Focusing on key aspects of the Inquisition's history, and illustrated with vivid case histories, it is a pleasure to read and will certainly live on as a significant contribution to a range of fields for many years to come." - David Gentilcore, University of Leicester

"Impressively comprehensive and up-to-date, this book is sure to become the fundamental point of reference for Anglophone readers interested in the Roman Inquisition during the period of its most important activity." - Simon Ditchfield, University of York

"A revealing picture of this famous and often infamous institution and its organization, procedures, and personnel. With a deft hand Black effectively melds traditional institutional history, religious history and the new social and cultural history to rethink the impact of the Italian Inquisition. The result is an important synthesis which is both path-breaking and very readable." - Guido Ruggiero, University of Miami

‘The book is densely packed with information…Black has done original research, but he has also mastered everything that is worth reading on the subject. The abiding impression given by this book is of clarity, calmness and good sense…Readers can feel confident that they are in very safe hands.’

"[Black's book] is undoubtedly the best book in English, and possibly in any language, on the Italian Inquisition yet to appear. . . .This is an original book that provides a clearly written, comprehensive, and convincing overview of the Italian Inquisition. . . .This is an excellent book that should be made available in paperback as soon as possible."—Paul F. Grendler, Renaissance Quarterly

'Black's eminently readable survey is a considerable achievement.' — Peter Marshall, Times Literary Supplement

"Clearly written and illuminating."—A. Rabil Jr., CHOICE

“Addressing many issues and covering the entire early modern era, Christopher Black has succeeded in providing a very good synthesis that should encourage many readers to delve more deeply into the rich literature on the Roman Inquisition.”—Jeffrey R. Watt, English Historical Review

ISBN: 9780300220629
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
352 pages, x
16 b+w