This chapter revisits the thoughts, words and deeds of an early-seventeenth century Italian charlatan, Costantino Saccardini, executed for heresy in Bologna in 1622. It has two aims: to explore the the microhistorical approach, since Saccardini was the subject of an early microhistory by Carlo Ginzburg and Marco Ferrari; and to do this by relating Saccardini’s understanding of medicine and religion in the light of my own work on medical charlatanry in early modern Italy. Saccardini was a religious radical; but was he a medical one, too? Historians have been tempted to relate Saccardini’s radical religious views to his presumed radical medical ones, drawing into this mix his dual ‘negative’ roles as jester and charlatan. And yet there is little in either of these two occupations that could have foretold or led to Saccardini’s fate. Far from being a ‘dangerous’ or even liminal, his medical activities had official recognition and sanction via inspection and licensing. Saccardini’s performances, medicines and treatment strategies, and his printed chapbook, give little clue to the fate that would befall him.

Caught between unorthodox medicine and unorthodox religion: revisiting the case of Costantino Saccardini, charlatan-heretic

David Gentilcore
2017

Abstract

This chapter revisits the thoughts, words and deeds of an early-seventeenth century Italian charlatan, Costantino Saccardini, executed for heresy in Bologna in 1622. It has two aims: to explore the the microhistorical approach, since Saccardini was the subject of an early microhistory by Carlo Ginzburg and Marco Ferrari; and to do this by relating Saccardini’s understanding of medicine and religion in the light of my own work on medical charlatanry in early modern Italy. Saccardini was a religious radical; but was he a medical one, too? Historians have been tempted to relate Saccardini’s radical religious views to his presumed radical medical ones, drawing into this mix his dual ‘negative’ roles as jester and charlatan. And yet there is little in either of these two occupations that could have foretold or led to Saccardini’s fate. Far from being a ‘dangerous’ or even liminal, his medical activities had official recognition and sanction via inspection and licensing. Saccardini’s performances, medicines and treatment strategies, and his printed chapbook, give little clue to the fate that would befall him.
Contesting orthodoxy in early modern Europe
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3725738
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