Church reform without the church : Reginald Pole's experience in Italy (1521-1553)
Title: Church reform without the church : Reginald Pole's experience in Italy (1521-1553)
Author: ROMANO, Davide
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2015
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
Reginald Pole's 1532 return to Italy, where he had spent five years between 1521 and 1526 to complete his studies, marked the beginning of his rapid rise in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Not only did the Plantagenet cousin of Henry VIII come close to being elected pope, but he also became the focus of the widespread expectations of Church reform. For his part, however, Pole did never outline a concrete programme for reform, not even in his De reformatione Ecclesiae, on which he worked from the eve of the council of Trent until the last years of his life. The numerous versions of this unpublished treatise have been the starting point of my study, which examines the apparent contradiction between Pole's silence on the practical measures to restore Peter's ship to its pristine state and the high hopes he aroused as a reformer, to the extent that he was often hailed as the long-awaited Angelic Pope. The analysis of De reformatione shows a peculiar conception of reform, grounded in Pole's "radical eclecticism" (both at philosophical and at doctrinal level) as well as in his belief in the coexistence of the exoteric ecclesiastical institution and the esoteric spiritual Church. The development of this unconventional ecclesiology was significantly inspired by a usually neglected source, that is to say the Joachimist tradition within which the prophetic myth of the Angelic Pope developed before reaching Pole, at the time of his first sojourn in Italy. These convictions led him, along with the circle of the spirituali of Viterbo, to put into practice a reform outside of the Tridentine council, by means of the same non-institutional channels through which they attempted to spread the religious message that lay at the heart of their undeclared programme.
LC Subject Heading: Pole, Reginald, 1500-1558; Italy -- Church history -- 16th century; Catholic Church -- History -- 16th century
Defence date: 10 December 2015; Examining Board: Professor Antonella Romano, European University Institute; Professor Jorge Flores, European University Institute; Professor Simon Ditchfield, University of York; Professor Massimo Firpo, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.
Type of Access: embargoedAccess