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14 Unintentional Dissent

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Chapter Summary

Livorno, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the early modern Mediterranean area, has been the background of many conversions to Catholicism by Protestant foreigners. Often the choice to convert reflected, more than the final result of a religious internal struggle, just the desire to fit in, following the decision to live forever in Italy. One of the heretical tenets that Protestants were asked to recant when converting was the notion that it was no “sin to eat meat on days prohibited by the Church.” The observance or transgression of holy days of precept, contributed visibly, because of its symbolic value, to defining identity boundaries between the Protestant and the Catholic world. Based on a systematic study of abjurations and on trials of the Holy Office of Pisa and Livorno, this chapter considers the expression of unintentional dissent by these new converts, dissent that often manifested itself in unorthodox attitudes such as eating meat on prohibited days.



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