What were the salient features of the reaction launched by the Catholic Church in the 16th century in response to the dramatic crisis of the Protestant Reformation? And which historical terms best define it? Scholars have spoken of Catholic Restoration, Catholic Reformation and Counter-Reformation with varying success, often interpreting these concepts as alternatives and at times looking to draw a difficult synthesis between them.
This book examines the historiography of the so-called Catholic Reformation and its aporias, focusing on the stunted and sometimes non-existent application of the decrees issued by the Council of Trent even a century after its end. This, however, did not prevent the creation of a myth of the Tridentine council as the genesis of a profound and widespread religious renewal, even though it encountered more obstacles than support in Rome. It also explains the ongoing validity of the concept of Counter-Reformation, which should be understood as the constant opposition of the Roman curia to any authentic Catholic Reformation.
Cover illustration: Taddeo Zuccari, Paul III opens the Council of Trent (1561-1563). Caprarola, Palazzo Farnese, Hall of the Council of Trent.