Andrea Vitali's Historical Essays on the Tarot

Tarot and Inquisitors

In the Serenissima and Trentino, between "witches" and "Diabolical Priests"


Translation from the Italian by Michael S. Howard, June 2013

Playing cards were very popular in Venice, manufactured since the early fifteenth century. Later their production was put in so much danger from the importation of cards from elsewhere, as to induce the Venetian government to take serious action.


In a letter sent by Tommaso Temanza to Count Francesco Algarotti on October 22, 1760, we read: "Here in Venice, certainly, long before 1460, prints were made, and they arrived here from elsewhere. In the old register of these painters (she knows that the book of the laws of each of the arts is called the register) in Chapter XXXIII reads: MCCCCXLI, on the XI. October. Whereas the art and occupation of making printed cards and figures in Venice has fallen into total decay [deffaction], and this in consequence of the great quantity of playing cards and painted figures printed, which are made outside of Venice, to which thing it is necessary to apply some remedy, in order that the said masters, who are a great many in family, may have as soon as possible their advantage [or usefulness], rather than foreigners. Let it be ordered and established, according to that which the said masters have supplicated, that, from this time forward, no work of the said art, that is printed or painted, on cloth or paper as are anchone (1) and playing cards, and whatever other work of the said art is done with a brush and printed, shall be allowed to be brought or imported into this Land, under pain of forfeiting the works so imported, and xxx livres and xxii soldi; of which fine, one third shall go to the state, one third to the Signori Giustizieri Vecchi [Elder Justices], to whom the affair is committed, and one third to the accuser. With this condition, however, that the artists, who make the said works in this city, may not expose the said works for sale in any other place but their own shops, under the pain aforesaid, except on the day of Wednesday at S. Paolo, and on Saturday at S. Marco, under the pain aforesaid. In this year and day overwritten thereby confirming the order, overwritten by the respectable and generous men mis. Nicolò Rondimelo, mis. Ieronimo Querini, and mis. Andrea Barbarigo honorable providers of the Commune. And by the esteemed elder signori justices mis. Ieronimo Contarini, and mis. Nadal Malipiero, the third absent, sending, and commanding, that which by all others  is observed in everything and for everything. From this law, or Part, as it is called here, it is revealed that in 1441 there was in Venice the art of making cards and printed figures, and there from elsewhere, perhaps coming from neighboring Germany.  And that it is said that this art was here in deffaction, that is, in decline, warns us that before 1421 it was in a flourishing state, and from which our artisans profited much, all things much before the time of the aforesaid Maso (2). I have a strong suspicion that from the beginning of that century prints here were worked in wood. Certain torn pieces of coarsely engraved prints, seen by me, representing some ancient situation of our Lagoon,have drawn my attention to this. I have some pieces of these prints. But let us grasp onto  the certain, that is to the afore-mentioned law, it seems to me that the things made here were cards and printed figures, and those that came from elsewhere were playing cards and painted printed figures. That they were painted makes all the difference, which shows us how old coloring prints was. Perhaps they were colored in Venice, but the simplicity and rudeness of writing at that time will not let us distinguish it in the document" (1).


(1) Images or boards, called in Venice Altarpieces.

(2) Maso Finiguerra (Florence 1426 - Florence 23 August 1464) was an engraver and goldsmith, specializing in the art of niello.


But if playing cards, which included also the Tarot, were used for fun, not infrequently they became essential ingredients for magic rituals - especially the Devil card - as is clear from our article The Conjuration of the Tarrocco, of which this new essay represents a coalescence. Several women were in fact denounced for this reason.


Usually witches, like other criminals, were denounced by known people or through a denunciation, a secret practice that we find in the statutes of many medieval cities. The secrecy of the denunciation in fact guaranteed the accuser from possible revenge by the incriminated. There are several terms that denote this type of accuser [denunciante]: secret person, until now secret, for now secret [persona secreta, fin’hora secreta, per hora secreta], etc.


The historian Paulo Preto informs us about this particular type of denunciation: "How do you write and submit a secret denunciation? The secret denouncert, or someone acting on behalf of that secret person, reserves the right to appear at a later time, He writes, or has another write, if he is illiterate or does not want to take the chance that his own handwriting will be recognized, the policy, voucher, writing, denunciation, on a sheet of paper and encloses it in an envelope with the name of the justice, or magistrate, in charge at that time; he asks for a cut, a voce liberar banditi [voice to free criminals] (2) or other consideration anticipated by the specific law to appear, in person or via a third party for collection, and provides the denunciation with a countersign, tearing off an edge of the sheet (or of another small sheet attached) on a box where one draws a squiggle and retains the scontro or incontro [matching piece] (i.e .the torn edge), which he then will exhibit or will cause to exhibit, "to obtain the prize and benefit": or he makes a circular cut, the size of an eyeglass lens, and retains the "particle" of paper. Often the accusation is forwarded directly to the judge, or his secretary, at his office or even at his home, sealed in a sopracoperta [overcovered], that is, a double envelope, to better preserve the confidentiality or anonymity; it is sometimes given by a foreign noble to the judge to whom it is referred, who then delivers it to the Ten. There are those who send it by ordinary post (rarely the case), and those who transmit it through a friend or a servant to the judge; those who live on the mainland, and do not trust (often the case) delivering it to a local rector or other magistrate, nor slipping it into a assella or mouth of stone, send it by courier, in sopracoperta, to the Ten or to the Inquisitors, or their secretaries or servants, or to a Venetian friend, who then takes care of forwarding it" (3).

                                casella 1                                                      

Cassella or mouth of stone, with mask and epigraph
 Treviso, Casa da Noal, Via Canova

                                 casella 2                                       

    Cassella or mouth of stone, without mask, with epigraph

  Venezia, Palazzo Ducale (formerly west loggia, ground floor, now in museum)

In Venice the activity of criminal justice was administered by the Council of Ten. Besides them were also exercised the Inquisitors of the State, whose formation took place in 1539 under the name of "three inquisitors over whatever can be presented that has contravened the laws and orders around what is declared secret". The inquisitorial rite instituted by the Council of Ten was founded on secrecy at every stage of the proceedings. With the procedural formalities minimized, and without being able to rely on the defense of any lawyer, completely at the mercy of the Inquisitors, the defendant had the burden of proof. In all this, the accusers and witnesses remained secret.


The following is a denunciation made by secret person, against the manufacturers of false gazettes (coins valued at two soldi):


Distinguished and Most Excellent Signori Colendissimi.


I, secret person, offer myself so as to make come to the hands of your justice those who have led and dispensed a large amount of false gazettes of the sort that I present with this, from which they will know where is printed and made other similar currencies of its coinage, so I beg your Most Excellent Lordships, who, by my work found the truth of what I set before them, to deign to grant me all those benefits that are granted by the laws to those who disclose minters and falsifiers of currencies, it will please you also to underwrite the present action without disclosing my name and putting my life possibly in danger, you have found the truth, will receive the benefits aforesaid, because I, the undersigned, offer myself, which is this, to give testimony such that immediately will come to light the things said above. 23 August 1604 (4).


From the historian Paolo Preto we are always made aware of the positions taken regarding blasphemers (5) "On grave blasphemy often rests suspicion of heresy, and then the attention of the Holy Office; October 19, 1548, the Ten received with decision jurisdiction over all blasphemous expressions (like "with the aspect of God, with the aspect of God") where a heretical value is excluded, and yet in many cases they accept denunciations and instruct trials for blatantly heretical swearing. Unsigned secret denunciations on the matter of blasphemies come to the Executors or to the Ten or the state Inquisitors: sometimes the Ten pass them to Executors [a less important body] for trial, and sometimes vice versa, and when there seem to be more serious criminal or political implications, the Executors pass them to the Ten who then decide whether to carry out their own trial or return them to the Executors or to delegate them with the rite [form of procedure] to some rector of the mainland”.


On August 17, 1557, "a person who wishes, for the respect of the world, to be kept secret" denounces "a villain, a traitor, a man inimical to our Lord Master Jesus Christ" who "finds himself in front of the image of the glorious Virgin Mary and has given four wounds to that glorious image and said with his hands on his eyes, making figs: “whore, I have had you from the back and in front"; the anonymous accuser obtained a voce liberar banditi and accuses the tailor Carleto da Peschiera, who is sentenced to death: "his right hand and tongue are cut off, he is conducted behind a horse to S. Marco, his head is cut off, the body is quartered into four parts and hanged on the gallows" (6).


Another institution, which aims to ensure justice in the case of any bad actions of the Council of Ten and of extortion by public officials, consisted of the Lawyers of the commune, which also deliberated on matters of "gratie et offici".


Assigned to investigate about heretics were the three Wisemen [Savi] of heresy, an organization instituted by the Holy Office in 1249. Present in all the acts of the trials, they could suspend sentences deemed unjust because contrary to the law. Numerous letters, with or without signature, were sent to the three Savi about accused persons guilty, or presumed so, of heresy. They dealt essentially with heretics, witches, Judaizers, and in general men of evil life.


From the documents of the State Archives of Venice (ASV) are some accusations concerning women considered in some way heretics or witches and who, among other things, made recourse to tarot cards (usually the Devil card) to perform magic rituals:


9 January  1592 [1593, as the year started in March]

            Contra Claram habitantem in Biri. [Against Clara living in Biri]


            Most Illustrious Excellencies of the Inquisition.


There is met in this city a very wicked woman, who does not have the fear of God nor of Justice, but having the evil spirit before her, she has had the boldness to make enchantment with Tarochi, the land of the dead, wax statues and other knavery of great importance in speaking with the Devil, besides which she reads the throwing of beans like all that is offered by a person, which she wants to keep secret, justifying with witnesses worthy of belief, but asking to be kept secret persons to Your Distinguished and Excellent Lordships, and pardon if any account of the aforesaid woman is false, and will make this person secret for discharging his conscience, while your Distinguished Lordships will deign on the part of the Council of Ten faculty to be able to grant freedom of a criminal at times, every time the justice of Your Distinguished Lordships will have brought to light such fact and convene [or convict] and punish that wicked woman in the good graces of Your Distinguished Lordships I humbly recommend (7).


With an accusation without signature some unknown person (who is then detected during the course of the trial) accused in November 1584 Justina, widow of the boatman Nadalin and "scelerata herbera publica" [well known as a wicked maker of herb-magic], of curses, "witchcraft and spells [...] and many other like and worse villainy, "but the poor woman was acquitted and two alleged accusers are admonished by the Lawyers of the commune (8); January 28, 1590 an anonymous letter accusing Trevisana Perina, harlot, of blasphemies, "throwing beans" to know the future and boiling concoctions to win love (9); June 20, 1591, Giacoma de Serravalle is accused of being "the most solemn foe of Christ, and a wicked woman who lives on dinari, making legitimate the committing the most unheard of cruel and detested witchcraft, herb magic, charms, enchantments, bindings, and evil spells that you might ever hear, leading a most dishonest life, and a filthy thief, and doing everything in her power to cheat others" (10); in January 1593, "a person who wants to be kept secret" asks for a voci libererar banditti, reveals "a most wicked woman" who "had the boldness to make a spell of very great importance for speaking with the Devil": note that the name of the defendant is obtained from the interrogation of Margaret de Rubeis, who presents the accusation  of the secret person (11); in August 1620 are denounced in secret the German Jew Aghitele, "well known as a wicked maker of herb-magic" and Ricca and Regina Maggio: they practice with Christians, "they have made much witchcraft and  have ruined a few young people with their witcheries" (12).


To the Inquisitors the outcome of the magical practices is not so interesting as much as the goal that the witches have put to recover and their modality. The condemnation was when they appealed to the devil with the belief that he would satisfy the request. Venetian ladies tended not ever to conjure up the devil, not being able to use necromantic circles and magic formulas. It was one of the necessary components that the ritual exclusively required. They were in fact considered to be good Christian women in the sense that they went to Mass and behaved properly in social life. The fact is that, knowing nevertheless that they were sinning, on certain occasions they were doing these practices, then trusting to be forgiven in confession. There is no pact with the Devil, but only an invocation addressed to him, not believing they should appeal to Heaven to satisfy sinful loves. On this basis, the ritual involved the reversal of each element of the rite, since the Devil was opposed to God: the figures were thus put with the "ass up", lighted candles "down", hands clasped behind the back in the gesture of the fig, reverence made with the posterior.


The Devil tarot card, being easily at hand, was the object most commonly used to lean on a shelf in front of which was an oil candle that had come from a lamp in a church, while the wick had to be made with the rope of the bell announcing the entrance of the celebrant. The ritual, almost always with amorous purposes, provided that in front of the little altar the Paternoster [“Our Father”] is recited for three nights in a row with her hair down and her hands behind her back, addressed to the souls of those executed so that they would intercede with the Great Devil (13).


One of the most famous trials (14) (1586) saw Emilia Catena as defendant, accused of having made the hammers of love (15): from the statement of the witnesses we know the objects used for the rituals: the image of a devil, candles, bones of the dead or earth from a cemetery, a cesendello [small oil lamp], oil and bell cord from a church, fagots, a small earthen pot, common oil, a living bird, bread, salt, rock alum.


Other indications may be derived from the acts of this trial in the about the use of the devil card.


Meanwhile, it was necessary that his image not be manufactured at home, but that it  possess a kind of official recognition known by all, that is, public, obtained by theft or deception. Magdalene, one of the witnesses at the trial, claimed that Emilia "took a tarot card, and it was the devil, that she stole for the purpose". She continued by saying that the card was hung under the chimney of the room where the fire was lit, not remembering if it was next to a Madonna reversed. Stella, another witness, reported that Emilia "took all the saints who were in that room, which I saw before, and then I saw her turning them".


With regard to the cesendello [small oil lamp], Magdalene expressed herself thus: "... in that cesendello, burning before the Devil of the tarot [theroco], the aforesaid Emilia made the wick with a cord she had cut from a bell of a church, but what church it was l cannot tell you ... and she lit the cesendello in front of that devil, and I saw that cesendello that burned in front of that devil and she had me get the oil that was missing in the second cesendello".


Although the ritual was somewhat “sweet-smelling” compared to those performed by true necromancers, it had to incorporate also a certain tension in the few bystanders, according to the confession of Stella: "A poor prostitute, named Menegha, who at that time was with the said Emila, and had been for ten years, when she saw that cexendello in front of that tarot card [tarocho], she was so afraid that she froze [ziellò] completely, and then got sick and a year later is dead”.


The formula of conjuration that Emila said she recited in front of the tarot card seemed actually quite bland: "... I kindled this rope in a cesendello with common oil and put it in the kitchen on a balcony or sunroom before a devil from a tarot [de un theroco]. And I burned this cesendello one or two days before that devil, and said: So with you it is not worthy to have this light, so go into the heart of such a one and torment him, and there was no another speech”.


The account of Magdalena is different: "... she said the paternoster for the hanged men [apiccai],  the quartered men [squartai], and lit the candles in reverse, one at the avemaria and one at 4 o’clock, and the other at midnight ... and conjured the devil to take 3 ounces of blood from her man [the man she loved] while she said those paternosters for the quartered and hanged men; she said that it gave torment to her man.


The Holy Tribunal condemned Catena to flogging, to be held in the Piazza San Marco, to be pilloried publicly with the miter on her head – an element used in these cases to emphasize those convicted of heresy - and with the inscription in large letters "per striga et herbera" (condemned as a witch and for the use of magic herbs), and that she finally had to recant "uti a heretica et apostata a fide", in addition to being restrained for five years under "house arrest" in a narrow territory between Menzio and Quarnerio (16). All in all, a mild punishment.

                                                                      strega con mitria


                                          Woman accused of witchcraft in the garb of public abjuration

                                                               Engraving by Picart Bernad, XVIIIth cent

Accusations against friars and priests were frequent in the Venetian Republic, whether signed or anonymous. Transgressions tended to be related to deficiencies in official duties or conduct unbecoming if not downright sinful. Sometimes the accusation came from ordinary citizens who were offended by the interference of the clerics in their business. Drunkenness, gambling and sex were the most frequent reasons, but more diabolical attitudes were not lacking, such as usury, blasphemy, fraud and violence, and even assassinations.


“July 19, 1638, Anselmo Ferrari, Augustinian friar of Monselice denounced by Marc’ Antonio Andreon, who then threatened flees throwing the accusation into the cassella. Ferrari blasphemes heretically, plays cards, goes armed, wounds and shoots a man, clubs [people], deflowers a girl, kidnaps and rapes another, has adulterous affairs, puts up defamatory signs against the mayor and then erases the signs” (17).


A priest Verda, parish priest of Ponte di Legno, goes around armed, goes with women, plays games, helps a man to poison his wife (18).


On April 15, 1655, nineteen chapters of accusations aggravate the position of the prelate of Agna (in Padua) Attilio Secreti: not in residence, pursued the chaplains, insults and clubs some parishioners with the help of a female servant, "a most accomplished procuress", converts many married women "into most infamous whores" and draws them into his "greedy, unbridled and lustful desires," blasphemes publicly, when he goes to Venice plays bassetta, goes to whores and consumes the income of the benefice (19).


Domenico Manzini, village priest of Gambarare (Venece), "all clerics live in the likeness of Lucifer, full of pride" and are like a ravenous wolf against the faithful, spends his days in the taverns, gets drunk, gambles, blasphemes, lives with a married woman, mother of his two ruffians, threatens widows and virgins, keeps racing dogs (1665) (20)” (21).


Blasphemer at the table, as well as violent, was that Don Giovanni Battista, accused with signature:                   


Distinguished and Most Excellent Signore


Inspired by God and to free my conscience I am making your Excellencies understand how in Padua is found such a Fr Giovanni Battista Molinetti, who having forgotten the priestly character, creating scandal throughout the whole city; utters blasphemies and heresies so horrid that they put terror into those who hear them, even if not [physically] hurt, and so that Your Excellencies have some knowledge of it, I will write some  here. This priest has been located in Padua year, spending his life much reduced [i.e. in the theatre or houses of pleasure]; thus in the house of Gerardo Marasca I heard him utter these sorts of blasphemies: blood of this bungling God who has nothing to do but watch the priest [literally, give him his nose behind him]; injustice of God, with the same words as above, having lost two or three items in cards. After winning a wager he said that he defecated in the face of the most Holy Trinity, and throwing away the cards said that he cursed the God that kept him alive in this world just to show his bungling injustice, and that if it were possible to be able to one day be master of the world, it would see that God makes and has made some great foolishness [minchionarie].


In short, I  am letting you know that I doubt that this herein named testimony is the first blasphemer given to the world, as you will hear from other witnesses who have presented testimony here, while in the city of Padua  nothing is talked about except the horrendous blasphemies that every day the priest Molinetti utters, and which up to now no one ever has dared to make known to your Excellencies for fear  of the aforesaid, because he wants to beat such people, he wants to kill them; in short, everyone avoids him so as not to die, while more  than a few times he was about to  be killed, since in the house of the aforenamed Marasca it was a miracle of God that he was not thrown one out of a window.

Speaking of saints, and of their miracles, he said it was foolishness [minchionarie] that the saints performed miracles, but who are we to give them that honor; in short, he believes little in God and the saints, and in his house keeps rifle and pistols with sabers hanging on his  bed, saying that those are his guardian angel. He keeps near him a deformed dog, hence he says that God has made again a foolishness in not creating him a dog as well, so that he could not make fun of God as he does [literally, “give a beard behind”, meaning “tease’]. For his bad life over and over again he was scolded by the Vicar of His Excellency, but this priest says that the worst, the other could  do is to take the Holy Mass away from him. He fights with his brothers [fellow priests], for he says that at the cost of  losing his life he wants to behead them and then go to Holland. So if your Excellencies will be content to examine the facts they will find that I do not put on paper the least part of the enormity of this priest, not to be tedious; with that, asking you to keep me secret so that this Giovanni Battista Molinetti does not kill me.


I sign below to your Excellencies most humbly your devoted and much obligated servant Pietro Paolo Passarino.


For testimony will be the following: Gerardo Marasca, Giuseppe Navale, Nane dalle Acque, Gerolamo Fatorini especially, Signor Nicole Prandini, Signor Dr. Franchi, Vicenza Bolognese, who has a bank in the hamlet of Nogare, Signor Ferdinando Brusco, Francesco Gratiani, Giulio Bonanome, Pier Antonio Scapino, Signor Angelo Candi and almost the whole city of Padova. July 20, 1695 (22).


It was not uncommon for specific inquiries regarding the good health of the parishes and the conduct of the priests to be carried out by the bishops on the occasion of pastoral visits. Federico Cornaro, bishop of Bergamo, which from 1428 had been part of the Venetian Republic, began in 1564 a visit that lasted for two years. In 1565 was at Ardesio, where he questioned several people, including priest Daniele, rector of the church of St. George. According to the documents of the visit, which took place on August 20, we know that the bishop questioned the priest at the end of the lunch that was held at the home of the latter. After taking the oath, the priest was asked:


By what right he possessed the parish church
What was the value of the benefice of the parish
If there were in the church simple benefits
If in the parish church there were sacred places
How many souls he had under his care
If there were suspicions of heresy
If there were concubinage
If there were clandestine marriages or contracts to the extent prohibited
If there were usurers, blasphemers and public gamblers
If there were any bigamists, or married people that cohabited with others, or other people who gave scandal in bad abuses and irregularities, etc.


Not convinced by the responses received from the priest, who had denied that among his parishioners there were people of ill repute, the bishop questioned “signor Sebastiano fu Melchiorre Gafurri of Ardesio”, a man of about 28 years; after taking the oath, he replied on the life and customs of the rector pré Daniel and his two chaplains". As for Mr. pré Daniele I have him a good man and priest who attends very well to his care of souls and to celebrating the Mass and the divine offices, etc. ". The only rumor about the priest, to which, however questioned, he admitted giving no credence at all, wanted the priest to have an understanding with two nuns who lived in the country outside the monastery. The bishop, having established with more questions that it was just bad talk without any foundation, continued the questioning, asking if he knew anyone suspected of heresy, if there were clandestine marriages or contracts so forbidden, bigamists or other people who gave scandal. He received negative replies when asked if there were concubines, usurers, blasphemers or public gamblers, the young man replied, "Lacking this, I do know that it is quite true that there are some who play for fun at terochi and ... etc." (23).


Obviously no measure was put in place by the bishop based on what has been learned from this last answer, given that the game of tarot, although not explicitly mentioned in the Statutes of Bergamo (Statuta Magnificae Civitatis Bergomi) of 1491, was not listed among those condemned. In fact, it was considered among the games of ingenuity, as the Ludus Triumphorum, chess and board games (24).


The fact is that many men frequented the taverns, places of perdition not only because of the game, but also for the presence of prostitutes. Three young priests of Feltre, beneficiaries of the cathedral, were investigated for playing cards for money and for visits with these ladies. The acts of the trial (25) show that the three priests, Antonio Dantino, Giovanni dal Canton, and Battista Cogo, were regular customers of an inn of Tortesen, an eastern suburb of the city, and led a dissolute life. When the Vicar questioned the owner of this tavern, a certain Vittore Fontana, he replied that "they all slept in a room where there is nothing more than a bed, and I do not know why, and they [the three clerics] pay me, and when I am paid I do not search further" (26).


The summoner of the curia Pietro Catura, having spoken with the prostitutes, reported that the priests went into the tavern almost every day after vespers, dressed in old clothes and wigs on their head to avoid recognition: "and the whores told me that these aforementioned pre' Antonio Sanctin, Pre' Zuane Canton and priest Cadore went to find them for the night clothed as laity with powdered wigs armed sometimes with clubs, sometimes with swords, sometimes with sword rodella [with two iron rings on the handle above and below the grip]” (27). The penalty imposed was, however, very mild, after several settlements, given the economic difficulties in which the three clerics would have incurred, since they were salaried by the cathedral: they were allowed to celebrate the mass again (a privilege initially suspended for three months), with the obligation to fast on Fridays and Saturdays and recite on those days the seven penitential psalms. Obviously it was forbidden them to attend that tavern in perpetuity.


Brining to trial another priest, due to problems of territoriality, even disturbed Cardinal Ludovico Madruzzo, bishop of Trent, who of course gave his consent. The request was made by the Bishop of Feltre Filippo Maria Campeggi January 27, 1563. The defendant, priest Giovanni Fezio, assistant village priest of Pergine, who was accused of violent behavior (at a dance he was also accused of having killed a boy in his service, which at the end of the trial turned out to be not true), gambling, concubinage, keeping of forbidden books, and of arrogating to himself the prerogatives of bishops in the matrimonial sphere (28).


The priest admitted living with Apollonia Bigleer and of having carnally attended three other women who had been in his service in previous years, having frequented taverns playing tarot and dice, and having neglected to celebrate the divine offices to go entertain himself in an inn. This admission of his guilt: "Sir, yes at times to keep company I left to go with others to gamble,  but not with the intention of gain, nor as a gambler and the greatest sum of money that I gambled was then between two and three pauli, and my game was taroco. I also played dice with priest Giorgio, he and I alone, , that is, at dice with boards for one soldo [unit of money] and fortwo at cards" (29). Even in this case, the sentence was mild enough, given that the Fezio was one of the few clerics who knew perfectly both Italian and German, languages needed in that area of mixed populations. Article 7 of the Memorial in fact so reads: "pauci reperiuntur sacerdotes ii et quidem cum difficultate here Sciant linguam italam et germanam, et preach catholice verbum Dei, et dies festos print the language itala et germana, sicuti scit dictus sighted Iohannes, here ab omnibus eum cognoscentibus, here eum audiverunt concionantem reputabatur sufficiens et in et offitio in such exercitio comendabatur".


In addition, the lawyer who had been entrusted with the defense of the priest justified the habit of concubinage, arguing that in the dioceses of Trent and Bressanone, as in those of the entire county of Tyrol, there were priests who cohabited with women, and who also begot children, and none of these had been removed, because there would not be enough priests to replace them. This is the Memorial of the defense counsel in this regard: "In diocesibus Tridents et sunt Brixinẹ Plures sacerdotes Gerentes curam animarum here tenent ancillas ex quibus etiam Filios susceperunt et tollerantur quoniam aliter in illis partibus sacerdotes sufficientes haberi not possunt" (30).


In any case, Fezio, who eventually abandoned these defensive enticements for a request for mercy, escaped with a pecuniary fine of one hundred and fifty gold scudi that Campeggi destined to sacred places. It seems that from that moment on, the priest began to lead a virtuous life, because nothing more was heard of him (31).




1 - Raccolte di Lettere sulla Pittura, Scultura ed Architettura scritte dai più celebri personaggi dei secoli XV, XVI e XVII pubblicata da M. Gio. Bottari e continuata fino ai nostri giorni da Stefano Ticozzi [Compilation of Literature on Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, written by the most famous personalities of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, published by M. Pl Bottari and continued to the present day by Stefano Ticozzi], Milan, for John Silvestri, 1822. Collana “Biblioteca Scelta di Opere Italiane Antiche e Moderne divisa in Sei Classi", Classe VI:  Scienze ed Arti. Lettere Pittoriche, Vol. 5.  [Collection "Library Selection of Italian Works Ancient and Modern divided into Six Classes " Class VI: Sciences and Arts. Pictorial Letters, Vol 5]. The text cited is contained in the "Lettere su la Pittura " [Letters on Painting], CLXXIII: Tommaso Temanza al[to] Signor Conte [Count] Francesco Algarotti, 22 October 1760, p. 485-487. [English translation of the ordinance adapted from, taken from An Enquiry into the Origin and Early History of Engraving Upon Copper and Wood (1816) by Joseph Ottley, p.48.

2 - In exchange for information and successful investigations, the accuser could ask for the release of a prisoner (liberar banditi). If the notice provided for a reward, this could be requested.

3 - Paolo Preto, Persona per hora secreta. Accusa e delazione nella Repubblica di Venezia [Person now secret. Accusation and denunciation in the Republic of Venice], p. 55. Il Saggiatore, Milan, 2003.

4 - ASV(Archivio Storico Veneziano [Venetian Historical Archive]), Consiglio dei dieci, criminali [Council of Ten, criminal], fz.33, August 23, 1604, reg.21, cc.73v-74v. The accusation, which was received from Verona, was accepted.

5 - Paolo Preto, op. cit., pp. 60 - 61.

6 - ASV, Consiglio dei dieci, criminali, fz.13, August 17, 1557, reg. 8, c. 183.

7 - ASV, Santo Uffizio, processi [Holy Office, trials], b. 69, n.3.

8 - ASV, Santo Uffizio, processi, b. 52, n. 65, November 22, 1584.

9 - ASV, Santo Uffizio, processi, b. 65, January 28, 1590.

10 - ASV, Santo Uffizio, processi, b. 67, June 20, 1591, January 9, 1593.

11 - ASV, Santo Uffizio, processi, b. 69, n. 3.

12 - ASV, Santo Uffizio, processi, b. 75, August 20, 1620.

13 - CRF: Marisa Milani, Streghe e Diavoli nei processi del S. Uffizio, Venezia 1554-1587 [Witches and Devils in the trials of the Holy Office, Venice 1554-1587], Introduction, p. 5-17, Ghedina e Tassotti Editori, Bassano del Grappa, 1994.

14 - ASV, S. Office, b. 58.

15 - On the meaning of “Hammer of Love”, see our essay The Conjuration of the Tarrocco.

16 - See: Marisa Milani, Il Caso di Emilia Catenam “Meretrice, striga et herbera” [The Case pf Emilia Catena: “Whore, witch and maker of herbal magic", in “Museum Patavinum”, Rivista semestrale della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Università degli Studi di Padova, Anno III [biannual journal of the Faculty of Humanities, University of Padua, Year III], pp.75-97. Leo Olschki Editore, 1985.

17 - ASV, Consiglio dei dieci, criminali [Council of Ten, criminal], fz. 65, July 19, 1638.

18 - ASV, Consiglio dei dieci, criminali, fz. 66, June 28, 1639.

19 - ASV, Consiglio dei dieci, criminali, reg. 72 cc. 12v-13v, 26-27 April 1655, fz.88, April 15, 1655.

20 - ASV, Consiglio dei dieci, criminali, reg. 82 c.79v November 5, 1665, fz.98, December 17, 1665.

21 - Paolo Preto, op. cit., p. 164.

22 - ASV, Consiglio dei dieci, criminali, fz.122, July 20, 1695. Accepted.

23 - See: Bruno Felice Duina, La Comunità di Ardesio nelle visite pastorali del XVI secolo. 1520-1602 [The Community of Ardesio in the pastoral visits of the sixteenth century. 1520-1602], pp. 93, 94, 95. Commune of Ardesio, A.R.D.E.S. Associazione per le Ricerche e le Divulgazioni Etnografiche e Storiche, [Association for Research and Ethnographical and Historical Disclosures], 2003.

24 - See in this respect our article Ludo De Statutis.

25 - Archivio Diocesano di Feltre [Diocesan Archives of Feltre] (ADF), 31, 635r-652v.

26 - ADF, 31, 636v.

27 - ADF, 31, 637v.

28 - The trial took place from late January to the end of March of 1563, in ADF 37, 296r-367v.

29 - 3ADF, 37, 22r.

30 - ADF, 37, 340r-341v.

31 - See: Claudio Centa, Una Dinastia Episcopale nel Cinquecento: Lorenzo, Tommaso e Filippo Maria Campeggi vescovi di Feltre (1512-1584), in “Chiesa e Storia, Vol. 2”, Cap. VII “Vita e Riforma del Clero durante l’Episcopato dei Campeggi” [An Episcopal Dynasty in the sixteenth century: Lawrence, Thomas and Filippo Maria Campeggi, Bishops of Feltre (1512-1584), in "Church History, Vol 2", Chapter VII "Life and Reform of the Clergy during the Episcopate of the Campeggi"], pp. 827-832). CLV (Liturgical Centre Vincentian) Editions, Rome, 2004.