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Political, Religious and Social Conflict in the States of Savoy, 1400–1700


Sarah Alyn Stacey

Taking conflict as its collective theme, this book brings together the work of early modern specialists to offer a range of insights into the political, social and religious climate in Savoy between 1400 and 1700. The contributors focus on the broader context of early modern European history, making clear the sometimes overlooked political and historical significance of Savoy. The volume explores the diverse mechanisms whereby political, social and religious conflicts were articulated with reference to a wide range of primary sources, many of which are unpublished. The chapters offer important perspectives on subjects such as: the diplomatic relations between the court of Savoy and certain foreign powers during a time of European unrest; the role of propaganda; the construction of national and religious identities; and persecution and resistance, notably in relation to the Reformation and the Waldensians. The conclusions that are established advance a better understanding of the history of Savoy and of the broader conflicts shaping Europe in the early modern period.
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Waldensians, the Reformation and Abbatial Domains in Western Piedmont and in the Marquisate of Saluzzo in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries


At first sight, even when they were spared outright suppression, early-modern abbeys may seem a mere relic from a distant past. Until recently, there was little doubt that they fell dramatically short of the standards of historical relevance normally attributed to their medieval counterparts. However, many such institutions still held considerable power and wealth in early modern times, although their internal organization looked very different now from what it used to be in the Middle Ages. First and foremost, in early-modern Piedmont – as elsewhere in Roman Catholic Europe – abbeys were often ruled by non-resident commendatory abbots chosen from amongst secular prelates. Although ultimately commendators had to be appointed by the Pope, the Papal Indult of 1451 conferred upon the Dukes of Savoy the right of presentation to the bishoprics and most abbeys in their states, that is, the right to nominate candidates for these posts. In the Marquisate of Saluzzo, the extensive rights of patronage of churches and monasteries accumulated by the Marquises in the course of time made up for the lack of a general agreement with the Pope regarding the appointment to great ecclesiastical benefices. Almost everywhere, the commendam system caused the monastic communities to lose control of the abbeys’ assets. Some of these communities, deficient as they were in human resources, refrained from pastoral work, and in general their existence became far less conspicuous.1 Although deficient in religious personnel, ← 199 | 200 → it would be wrong to presume that the abbeys of early-modern Piedmont were mere...

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