Unbelief and Atheism in Italy, 1500–1700
This chapter discusses irreligious ideas and their expression in Italy from 1500 to 1700. During that period, Italy was the home of atheism, as reflected in the views of a succession of commentators from Roger Ascham onwards. It considers the range of sources for atheistic ideas and the extent to which skepticism was evident. In addition to commenting on notorious cases of educated infidels like Giulio Cesare Vanini, it also provides examples of irreligion on a more popular level, drawing on the work of Carlo Ginzburg and research into the cases before the Venetian Inquisition. The discussion also shows the increased concern about atheism in the latter part of the seventeenth century, partly linked to the atheistic implications of the new science.
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