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Commonwealth of all faiths: Republican myth and the italian Diaspora in sixteenth-century Poland–Lithuania

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests that certain aspects of Venetian republicanism were transmitted through the teaching and culture of Italian religious radicals who settled in central and eastern Europe and brought with them the myth of a Christian Commonwealth-whether of an earthly Venice or of a heavenly Jerusalem-to this region. Sixteenth-century Poland-Lithuania became home to many exiles who had fled Venice and other Italian cities to escape religious persecution. Considering the special role which the Italian reformers assigned to Poland within the Commonwealth, these Polono-centric conceptions, unsurprisingly, were welcomed by the Polish nobility. The rhetoric recorded during the reformed Polish synods in this period strongly suggests that there was no clear separation between religious and political issues, as there was no real distinction between regional diets and provincial synods. In the subsequent centuries, Poland became a symbol of religious bigotry and social and political anachronisms.

Keywords: commonwealth; Italian religious radicals; Polish nobility; political anachronisms; republican myth; sixteenth-century Poland-Lithuania; Venetian republicanism



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