Punishment and Penance: Two Phases in the History of the Bishop's Tribunal of Novara

Punishment and Penance: Two Phases in the History of the Bishop's Tribunal of Novara

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by Thomas B. Deutscher
Toronto Italian Studies
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
232 Pages
ISBN 9781442644427
Published Feb 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $62.00    $46.50
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442669413
Published Feb 2013
Online discount: 24%

Punishment and Penance provides the first comprehensive study of an Italian bishop’s tribunal in criminal matters, such as violence, forbidden sexual activity, and offenses against the faith. Through numerous case studies, Thomas B. Deutscher investigates the scope and effectiveness of the early modern ecclesiastical legal system.

Deutscher examines the records of the bishop’s tribunal of the northern Italian diocese of Novara during two distinct periods: the ambitious decades following the Council of Trent (1563–1615), and the half-century leading up to the French invasions of 1790s. As the state’s power continued to rise during this second time span, the Church was often humbled and the tribunal’s activity was much reduced. 

Enriched by stories drawn from the files, which often allowed the accused to speak in their own voices, Punishment and Penance provides a window into the workings of a tribunal in this period.

Thomas B. Deutscher is a professor in the Department of History at St Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan.




A Note on Currency


Chapter 1 The Diocese of Novara and its Bishops

Chapter 2 Episcopal Jurisdiction Put to the Test: Rival Ecclesiastical Courts and Confrontation with the State of Milan, 1563-1615

Chapter 3 The Bishop’s Tribunal and the Disciplining of the Clergy,1563-1615

Part 1 Tribunal Objectives, Procedures, and Punishments

Part 2 Tribunal Activity: the Charges against the Clergy

Chapter 4 The Bishop’s Tribunal and the Laity, 1563-1615

Chapter 5 Shifting Patterns of Activity: the Bishop’s Tribunal, 1745-1799

Conclusion Two Phases of Tribunal Activity




‘One of the most fascinating elements of this study is the rich narrative about rogue priests and the seeming inability of the bishop’s tribunal to curb them.’

Christopher Carlsmith, The Catholic Historical Review – vol 102:01:2016

‘Thomas Deutscher also deserves credit for having cast his net widely and in a comprehensive manner.… Punishment and Penance offers a broad and richly nuanced account of the full range of activities deemed inappropriate, often less spectacular than that which dominates recent micro histories but providing more of a sense of the quotidian… The University of Toronto Press is to be thanked as well for bringing out this well-executed, thoroughly satisfying study.’

James S. Grubb, Renaissance Quarterly vol 66:04:2013

‘This book is a pleasant discovery… It is extremely interesting to discover that minor realities had their own autonomy and a specific development of their own peculiarities adapted to real life.’

Elena Brizio, Renaissance and Reformation vol 37:01:2014

‘Deutscher’s work offers a very good window onto an understudied institution that speaks directly to Reformation questions… His discussion of the diocesan court and broader religious authorities in the area is excellent.’

Jana Byars, Sixteenth Century Journal vol 46:03:2015