Muratori, Ludovico Antonio

Muratori, Ludovico Antonio a distinguished Italian theologian, archaeologist, and historian, was born at Vignola, near Modena, October 21, 1672. His family being in moderate circumstances, his early education was neglected. In 1685, however, he entered the college of the Jesuits, where he distinguished himself by his rapid progress. From a very early period his predilection for historical and literary pursuits began to manifest itself; and having entered into holy orders in 1688, without, however, accepting any ecclesiastical office, his life was devoted partly to the literature of his profession, but mainly to researches in history, both sacred and profane, especially the history of his native country. He took the degree of doctor in 1692; and his reputation for learning attracting the notice of Joseph Orsi and Felix Marsigli, he was on their recommendation appointed by Charles Borromeo sub-librarian of the Ambrosian Library at Milan. In that collection Muratori discovered several inedited MSS. He made extracts from these, and published them with notes and comments, under the titles of Anecdota Latina and Anecdota Grceca (Milan, 1697-1713, 4 volumes, fol.). Some years after he was recalled to Modena by the duke Rinaldo, who gave him the situation of librarian of the rich library of the house of Este, a place which he retained for the rest of his life. After this appointment Muratori devoted himself entirely to the study of the Italian records of the Middle Ages; and after many years of assiduous labor he produced his great work, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, ab anno aerae Christianae 500 ad 1500 (28 volumes, fol.). The first volume of this immense collection was published at Milan in 1723, and the last appeared in 1751. Several princes and noblemen defrayed the expenses of the publication; sixteen of them contributed $4000 each. In this collection Muratori has inserted all the chronicles of Italy during the Middle Ages which he could discover, most of which were inedited, and has accompanied them with valuable commentaries. Some of the texts had already been published by Graevius in his Thesaurus Antiquitatum et Historiarum Italica, but they were mostly confined to the last century or two of the period of a thousand years embraced by Muratori. While engaged in these prodigious labors, he also carried on an active literary correspondence with the scholars of the various countries of Europe, and contributed essays not unfrequently to the principal historical and literary academies, of most of which he was a member. Muratori, however, held opinions not always in harmony with those of his contemporaries, and became involved in a quarrel with several writers by an attack upon the learned institutions of the time, and by an advocacy of the plan of a republic of the learned in a series of letters printed at Venice in 1703, under the name of Lamindo Britanio. In theology also he attempted to open a new path by his De ingeniorun moderatione in religionis negotio (first published at Paris, 1714; German, Coblentz, 1837). It is in the interests of Hermesianism, SEE HERMES, GEORG. and was republished in Germany. Muratori endeavors to show in this work that freedom of thought in religious matters may be tolerated, and to what degree this liberty may be exercised. But he excited the greatest tumult by his attacks against a society whose members pledged their lives to uphold the doctrine of the immaculate conception. A Jesuit, Francis Burgi, having entered into a controversy with him on this point, Muratori wrote his De superstitione vitanda, sive censura voti sanguinarii in honorem immaculatae conceptionis Deiparae. No printer dared publish this work, which appeared only in 1740 at Venice, pretending to have been printed at Milan. He followed it up by similar writings, under the alias of Ferdinandus Valdesius. Soon after, however, he reconciled himself with the Jesuits by writing the history of their missions in Paraguay, for which they showered honors upon him. He also published a collection of the Roman liturgy (Rome, 1748, 2 volumes, fol.), and opposed the principles of the Reformation in his Regolata divozioni de Cristiani, published under the name of Lamindo Britanio (Venice, 1747, and often reprinted). This work met with great success. Muratori wrote also an abridgment of his dissertations in Italian, which was published after his death: Dissertazioni sopra le Antichita Ialiane (1766, 3 volumes, 4to). He also wrote in Italian, Annali d'Italia dalprincipio dell' era volgare sino all' anno 1750 (1762, 12 volumes, 4to). It is the first general history of Italy that was published, and is a useful book of reference. It has been continued by Coppi down to our own times: Annali d'Italia in continuazione di quelli del Muratori, dal 1750 al 1819 (Rome, 1829, 4 volumes, 8vo). Another work of Muratori is his Novus Thesaurus veterum Inscriptionum (1739, 4 volumes, fol.), in which he has inserted many inscriptions unknown to Gruter. Spon, Fabretti, and other archaeologists who had preceded him. In seeking after the historical records of the Middle Ages, Muratori collected also a vast number of documents concerning the social, civil, intellectual, and political condition of Italy during that long period whose history he transcribed and commented upon, and he published the whole in seventy-five dissertations, Antiquitates Italicae medii anvi, sive Dissertationes de moribus Italici populi, ab inclinatione Romani Imperii usque ad annaum 1500 (1738-42, 6 volumes, fol.). "I have treated first," says the author in his preface, "of the kings, dukes, marquises, counts, and other magistrates of the Italian kingdom; after which I have investigated the various forms of the political government, and also the manners of the private citizens; the freedom and franchises of some classes and the servitude of others; the laws, the judicial forms, the military system; the arts, sciences, and education; the progress of trade and industry; and other matters of social and civil history." His work, entitled Antichita Estensi (Modena, 1710-40, 2 volumes, fol.), treats of the Fasti of the house of Este in its various branches. He also wrote several historico-political treatises in support of the rights of his sovereign, the duke of Modena, over the towns of Ferrara and Comacchio, which had been seized by the court of Rome: Questioni Comacchiesi (Modena, 1711): — Piena esposizione dei Diritti della Casa d'Este sopra la Citta di Comacchio (1712): — Ragioni della serenissima Casa d'Este sopra Ferrara (1714). Among Muratori's other works we must mention, Governo politico, medico, ed ecclesiastico della Peste (1720), written on the occasion of the plague of Marseilles, and showing the methods required to counteract it:-Difetti della Giurisprudenza (1742), in which he show's the defects of judicial forms in most countries: — Morale Filosofia (1735): — Instituzioni di publica felicita (1749): — Della regolata divozione dei Fedeli. In this last treatise Muratori, who, though sincerely pious, was too enlightened to be superstitious, combated several popular devotional practices which were merely external, and recommended in preference internal habits of self-examination and prayer. His enemies accused him of heresy. Muratori wrote to the pope, Benedict XIV, explaining his meaning, and asking for his judgment on the matter of contention. That enlightened pontiff wrote him a kind letter in answer, telling him that "those passages in his works which were not found acceptable to Rome did not touch either the dogma or the discipline of the Church; but that had they been written by any other person the Roman Congregation of the Index would have forbidden them; which, however, had not been done in the case of Muratori's works, because it was well known that he, the pope, shared in the universal esteem in which his merit was held," etc. Muratori has been truly called the "father of the history of the Middle Ages." Subsequent historians, such as Sismondi and others, are greatly indebted to Muratori, without whose previous labors they could not have undertaken or completed their works. The character of Muratori is clearly seen in his works. Modest, though learned, indefatigable, intent upon the improvement of mankind, charitable and tolerant, sincerely religious and strictly moral, he was one of the most distinguished and yet most unobtrusive among the learned of Italy. In the studies of his own profession, as well liturgical and historical as dogmatical and even ascetical, Muratori, although he did not follow the method of the schools, was hardly less distinguished than if he had made these the pursuit of his life. Some of his opinions were regarded with disfavor, if not directly condemned, but his honesty stands unquestioned alike by Jesuits and Ultramontanes or radical Protestants. All pay homage to his scholarship and industry and integrity. Muratori was also rector of the parish of Pomposa at Modena, but his literary occupations did not make him neglect his flock; he assisted his parishioners with his advice and his money; he founded several charitable institutions, and rebuilt the parish church. He died at Modena in 1750. All his writing. collected make up 46 vols. in folio, 34 in 4to, 13 in 8vo, and many more in 12mo. His minor works were collected and published at Arezzo in 1787, in 19 volumes, 4to. The best uniform edition of Muratori's works is that published at Venice (1790- 1810, 48 volumes, 8vo). His tomb is in the church of St. Agostino at Modena, near that of his illustrious countryman, Sigonio. His life has been written by his nephew, G.F. Muratori, Vita del celebre L.A. Muratori (1756). See Scheldoni, Elogio di L.A. Muratori (1818); Tipaldo, Biografia degli Italiani illustri, s.v.; Abbe Gouget, in Ant. Gachet d'Antigny, Memoires d'histoire, etc. (Par. 1756), volume 6; English Cyclop. s.v.

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