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Male religious orders in sixteenth-century Italy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to define the character and the role of the male regular clergy, which many scholars of the early modern period have tended to identify and describe as clerics in the service of the pope. It dwells on the observance movement and on the new orders that emerged in the sixteenth century. Casting the male regular clergy in the role of papal servants is in fact perplexing on several counts. To cite two examples: it prevents us from understanding the success that many religious enjoyed in the courts of secular rulers; and it fails to explain why the Society of Jesus continued to play such an important role vis-à-vis Catholic sovereigns until the eighteenth century, persisting through such critical periods as the Jesuits’ expulsion from the Venetian Republic and strong opposition from such groups as the Jansenists.

Keywords: Catholic sovereigns; Italy; Jansenists; male regular clergy; papal servants; religious orders; Venetian Republic



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