Are We to Do About Robert Bellarmine?
Thomas M. Izbicki. "What Are We to Do About Robert Bellarmine?". Early Modern Literary Studies 14.2/Special Issue 17 (September, 2008) 7.1-10 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/14-2/Izbibell.html>.
- In the year 1586 a somewhat peculiar polemic was
published in London. Although it appeared in London, the imprint said
“Monaco,” the printer was described as “Giovanni Swartz,” the text was in
Italian and its supposed author was French. This is the Auiso piacevole
dato alla bella Italia, da vn nobile giovane Francese, sopra la mentita data
dal serenissimo re di Nauarra a Papa Sisto V. This publication, attributed
to one François Perrot, is a political polemic tied to the struggle for the
French throne in the waning years of the Valois dynasty. The context of this
polemic was the excommunication by a recently elected pope of Henry of Bourbon,
the king of Navarre and heir presumptive to the French throne, and of his
kinsman the prince of Condé. This papal decree evoked replies by Henry
addressed to the theological faculty of the Sorbonne and the Parlement of
Paris. More to our point, he and Condé issued a reply to “Monsieur Sixtus,
self-styled pope,” accusing the Roman pontiff of “lying and heresy.” As is noted in the
Short Title Catalogue, there are “Extensive quotations in Italian from
Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio."
This work by Perrot might be of little interest had it not been answered by the
greatest Roman Catholic polemicist of the Counter Reformation, Cardinal Robert
Although his involvement in the condemnation of Galileo Galilei is better known
today, this Jesuit theologian authored the massive Controversiae, in
which he answered every possible Protestant argument on any theological topic
of moment dividing Christian Europe.
The answer Bellarmine wrote to the Auiso, included in the
eighteenth-century edition of the Controversiae, replies to every point,
including the French author’s quotations from Dante’s Divine Comedy.
- Because the Auiso appears in Early English
Books Online, it is a good example of the problems of tracing works that
are related to one another, especially when one replies to another. Some may
be in the same database, as are the English polemics over Church issues mapped
out in the bibliographies of Peter Milward;
but others, like Bellarmine’s reply to Perrot, are not. In fact, it is not
available in either EEBO or in the section of the Ad Fontes databases
digitizing Roman Catholic polemics of the Reformation and Counter Reformation
eras. The English Short
provides cross references within the database to certain works of Bellarmine in
English translation, including an excerpt from the Controversiae entitled
The peace of Rome. Proclaimed to all the world (1609). It
also lists replies to Bellarmine by King James I and other controversialists.
These polemics are focused on the Oath of Allegiance imposed by the English
crown in Parliament after the Gunpowder Plot was foiled; and they represent a
significant issue in Early Modern political thought, fought out between
thinkers in England and on the Continent.
Nonetheless, there are few pointers to works, like the Controversiae,
found outside the database but essential to understanding the debates between
Catholics and Protestants written in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth
- Here we come to the first of the challenges I see facing
the providers of full-text historical databases. How are texts to be provided
that do not fit tidily into the existing tools? All three of the databases
that partner under the aegis of the Text Creation Partnership, Early English
Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online and the Evans
Digital Edition - and other worth-while electronic resources - represent
coherent bodies of publishing in a particular region within an identifiable
period of time. Almost all published by the major vendors, however, are rooted
in microform surrogates for original texts;
and none of these databases contains relevant publications from outside that
predetermined time and place.
It is this last point that will need to be addressed in the future. Where a
significant portion of the material in the database replies to works outside
the original microform source, how are we going to add these necessary titles
to the corpus of digitized texts? Here we might learn a lesson from reprint
houses like Thoemmes, which has done the collection The Early Reception of
Kant’s Thought in England, 1793-1838 London: Routledge/Thoemmes,
Collections like it link, albeit in a limited print package, works replying to
salient works of philosophy or science. The electronic environment allows us
to create such packages on a larger scale and without the limits of inclusion
in a single printed set. We must ask, however, whether libraries, digitizing
from their holdings, or corporations, adding to their existing resources, are
willing to fill gaps with essential titles connected to those already
digitized. If the libraries do the digitization, how will new resource fit
technically into the existing resource picture, linking to relevant texts?
Moreover, resources created free are not guaranteed survival unless the
institution has a strong program of digital publishing. If a corporation does
the work, will librarians be asked to pay the costs for additional content in
an age of tight budgets? Either way, if someone does not tackle a work as
important as the Controversiae, we may be left with gaping holes in our
online resources for historical study.
- This is only the first of a series of questions that I
would like to raise. A second is how to connect the resources in one full-text
collection with those in another. Keeping to the name of Robert Bellarmine
(indexed in most databases as Roberto Bellarmino, the Italian form of his
name), we can seek out the English translations of his works done in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Here we find multiple translations of
the Jesuit cardinal’s works, but we encounter some complications. The Peace
of Rome Proclaimed appears in the English Short Title Catalogue without
Bellarmine as Author, although it is retrieved by an Author Keyword search;
and EEBO assigns principal authorship to Martín de Azpilcueta, the “famous
casuist Nauarre,” a portion of one of whose works also was printed in this
anti-Catholic polemic. ECCO lists a work of Bellarmine translated as Ouranography:
or Heaven Opened: The Substance of Cardinal Bellarmine’s five books concerning
the Eternal Felicity of the Saints (London: s. n., 1710). Likewise it
lists this and five other early eighteenth century translations of works by
Bellarmine. Some, like Ouranography, postdate EEBO’s
period of coverage. Others, like The Art of Dying Well, appeared as new
versions of works previously Englished.
Most - but not all - are listed by ESTC, among them Ouranography. For completeness,
however, even when looking for translations, we must do a triangular set of
searches for sixteenth- and seventeenth-century versions, eighteenth-century
versions, and the substantial, almost complete listing in ESTC.
- The ESTC findings, useful as they are, do not yet
provide links to either full-text resource, although they will search the
library’s online catalog courtesy of SFX and its ilk. In an age when library
patrons, when they use our resources at all - and not Google, want seamless
access, we are left with three useful tools, all lacking the Latin originals of
Bellarmine’s works. (And only one of Bellarmine’s polemical writings, his Apology,
is in The Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation.) Moreover, no one of
these three covers every English translation known to us. There is plenty of
room here for partnering between the providers of these resources, perhaps
under the umbrella of the Text Creation Partnership, to permit the making of
these connections to results of full-text searches. These connections could be
made for TCP participants, thus safeguarding the legitimate interests of the
- A third concern is the linking of resources within a
database. Here we are more fortunate, although more could be done. Let us use
the English Oath of Allegiance as a test case. ESTC offers subject tracings
for some of the translations of Bellarmine’s works, although none are the works
directly addressing the Oath. The database lists 10 editions of the apology
for the Oath of Allegiance authored by King James with subject headings that
Bellarmino, Roberto Francesco Romolo, Saint, 1542-1621 –
Controversial literature – Early works to 1800.
All works so described, however, are answers to Bellarmine, useful
but without any records for the cardinal’s own polemics. EEBO too has subject
Catholic Church – Controversial literature – Early works to 1800.
It lists 37 works, including The peace of Rome, under its
attribution to Martín de Azpilcueta, and 11 editions of the polemics of James
I. In this case there is a link from James I to Bellarmine under:
Bellarmino, Roberto Francesco Romolo, 1542-1621 – Controversial
literature – Early works to 1800.
However, it does not point to the cardinal’s works; and so we still
lack full references to, let alone digitized texts of, the works to which King
James, Lancelot Andrewes and others replied.
The database lists multiple works related to the Oath controversy, too many to
list without creating an annotated bibliography; but the connector tissue of
the controversy, a listing, even in bibliographic form, of the major
continental Roman Catholic works answered by King James and the rest, is
lacking, especially a full and convenient tracing of the controversy from one
work to the next in chronological sequence. Each work is traced in
relationship to the one preceding, but no heading in either database links an
entire exchange in a coherent manner beginning with the original publication
that triggered it.
- Here we are following past cataloging practice for books
and microforms, including the hard and fast separation of author and subject,
understandable in itself but insufficient for online research purposes. For the record, a
more complete tracing of this thread of the controversy would include the
proclamation of the Oath
and Bellarmine’s Epistola...ad Archipresbyterum Angliae, addressed to
George Blackwell, the Roman Catholic archpriest of England, who tried to
compromise with King James. Then would come James’ own apology, Bellarmine’s
reply under the name of his secretary, Matthaeus Tortus, Andrewes’ punning
title Tortura Torti, a new edition by James of his tract, Bellarmine’s Apologia,
and another reply by Andrewes.
We could add here Samuel Collins’ Epphata, which defends Andrewes
against criticism by Thomas Fitzherbert.
- Similarly, if we look at the earlier controversies
aroused by the apologies of John Jewel, bishop of Salisbury, for the
ecclesiastical policies of Elizabeth I, we are put to a great deal of trouble
to trace work, reply and counter reply. For the
sake of brevity, the discussion will be limited to the early exchange between
Jewel and Thomas Harding. Harding had converted to Roman
Catholicism during the reign of Queen Mary, but he had lost his living in the
diocese of Salisbury when Jewel was elevated to that see by Queen Elizabeth.
This added piquancy to their exchange concerning the Royal Supremacy in the
Jewel’s Apologia appears in EEBO in multiple editions, but its subject
tracings do not point to anything but generalities like:
Church of England – Apologetic works.
Harding’s critique of Jewel, as reproduced, does reference Jewel as
Jewel, John, 1522-1571 – Controversial literature.
Once again, we can refer backwards in time but not forwards. The same heading also
links copies of John Rastell’s attacks on Jewel. This is just one
example of the apparently endless exchanges between Catholic and Protestant,
and between Catholics or between Protestants, that can be traced by EEBO with a
bit of ingenuity.
- A last observation on the existing subject headings for
Elizabethan and Jacobean polemics: they are applied inconsistently. For
example, the Tortura Torti by Lancelot Andrewes exists in three
versions, the original 1609 printing by Robert Barker, the Parker Society
reprint and the AMS reissue of that reprint. A quick look at the available
online records shows considerable inconsistency. Of the three records in
WorldCat for the 1609 or the Parker Society reprint plus the records for the
1609 in ESTC and EEBO,
not a single one has the same subject tracings as any other, although there are
overlapping uses of the same heading. Nonetheless, even imperfect subject
tracings are useful, including via Keyword searches that pick up terms useful
in the present day but not in the terminology of past centuries.
this point, some general observations are in order. We are still employing the
artifact-based subject headings, without consistent use of them, in the online
environment. We need to break out of those constraints and make better links
within full-text databases. As urgently, if not more so, we need to permit
wider linking between databases even where corporate boundaries stand as
obstacles. As noted above, TCP is a possible umbrella under which this can be
done, at least for some crucial resources. Moreover, we need to identify
missing texts significant to the content of the existing resources and add
them. They will need to be added in such a way that their long life in the
digital environment is guaranteed. This is more likely in the commercial than
in the library environment. Nothing I propose will be as simple as linking
between databases from the same provider, the way we can cross-search
ProQuest’s Acta Sanctorum and Patrologia Latina databases. But
all are worth undertaking in an effort to produce the relatively seamless
environment our students now expect us to create and which our faculty users
will expect in the future.
. As described in Early English Books Online (accessed on
July 26, 2006) the work is: François Perrot. Auiso
piaceuole dato alla bella Italia, da vn nobile giovane Francese, sopra la
mentita data dal serenissimo re di Nauarra a Papa Sisto V. “Monaco” [i.e.,
London]: Appresso Giouanni Swartz [i.e. J. Wolfe], 1586.
. Ronald S. Love. Blood and Religion: The Conscience of Henri IV
1553-1593. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2001. 134-37.
. Bellarmine is listed first among the “Popish Writers” in Thomas
Barlow, Popery, or, The principles & positions approved by the Church of
Rome (when really believ'd and practis'd) are very dangerous to all and to
Protestant kings and supreme powers, more especially pernicious, and
inconsistent with that loyalty, which (by the law of nature and scripture) is
indispensably due to supreme powers. In a letter to a person of honor / by T.
Ld Bishop of Lincoln. London: T. Newcomb, 1679. .
Disputationum Roberti Bellarmini politiani. s .r. e. cardinalis, de
controversiis christianæ fidei: Adversus hujus temporis hæreticos, quatuor
tomis comprehensarum, 4 vols. Milan: ex typographia hæredum Dominici Bellagattæ, 1721.
Bellarmine 1: 1013-1044, where the Auiso is described as anonymous but
Bellarmine called the author a follower of John Calvin. Dante is treated as
the most serious of the three Italian luminaries, Petrarch and Boccaccio being
censured for their veneration of Venus and Cupid.
Controversies of the Elizabethan Age: A Survey of Printed Sources. Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 1997); —. Religious Controversies of the
Jacobean Age: A Survey of Printed Sources. Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Press, 1998. See, for example, the controversies focused on the writings of
the Jesuit Robert Persons (or Parsons).
Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation; see the content listed at:
(accessed on July 26, 2006). The only work of Bellarmine listed is the 1609
edition of Apologia Roberti Bellarmini.
Accessed on July 28, 2006.
Paolo Prodi. Il sacramento del potere: il giuramento politico nella storia
costituzionale dell’occidente. Bologna: Il mulino, 1992.
An exception is the Readex American Broadsides and Ephemera database.
On the partnership of Readex and the American Antiquarian Society, see Robert
Scott. “The Readex Corporation, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Brave
New World of Electronic Text: A Librarian’s Perspective.” Proceedings of the
American Antiquarian Society 115 (2005): 295-316.
A different approach is taken by Alexander Street, which designs databases
“from the ground up.”
See also David Berman, ed. George Berkeley: Eighteenth-Century Responses.
2 vols. New York: Garland Publishing, 1989; James Fieser (ed.), Early
Responses to Hume’s Writings on Religion, 2 vols. (Bristol: Thoemmes Press,
Accessed July 29, 2006.
Accessed July 29, 2006.
ESTC lacks the 1621 edition of The art of dying well found in EEBO, but
it has two editions of An ample declaration of the Christian doctrine
(1617 and 1624) not in EEBO, A short Christian doctrine (1675) not in
EEBO, and The art of dying well (1723) not in ECCO.
This database was formerly part of Ad Fontes. It is now an Alexander
Accessed on July 31, 2006. Works listed include: Robert Abbot. Antichristi
demonstratio, contra fabulas pontificias, & ineptam Roberti Bellarmini de
Antichristo disputationem. Authore Roberto Abbatto, Oxoniensi, olim e Collegio
Baliolensi, sacræ Theologiæ Professore... London: Robert Baker, 1603.
Accessed on July 31, 2006. Andrewes’ Tortura Torti is listed under that
One simple expedient that might be employed is adding a work in its earliest
edition to any subject headings mentioning it. The convenience of access
should outweigh any sense that we have made a work its own subject.
The headings used in the databases resemble those in WorldCat (accessed August
England and Wales. Sovereign (1603-1625 : James I). By the King a
proclamation, whereby it is commanded that the oath of allegeance be
administred according to the lawes. London : By Robert Barker, Printer to
the Kings most Excellent Maiestie, 1611. From EEBO, accessed on August 21,
Religious Controversies of the Jacobean Age. 89-94.
EEBO accessed on August 14, 2006.
Religious Controversies of the Elizabethan Age. 1-6.
EEBO accessed August 2, 2006.
Religious Controversies of the Elizabethan Age. 6-8.
In some cases, authors can be found disputing each other’s use of a particular
source in fine detail; see Thomas M. Izbicki, ““Their Cardinal Cusanus”:
Nicholas of Cusa in Tudor and Stuart Polemics,” [forthcoming].
EEBO, ESTC and WorldCat accessed on August 14, 2006.
Jeffrey Garrett, “Subject Headings in Full-Text Environments: The ECCO
Experiment,” College & Research Libraries 68 (2007): 69-81.