The Radical Reformation and the Making of Modern Europe

A Lasting Heritage


In The Radical Reformation and the Making of Modern Europe, Mario Biagioni presents an account of the lives and thoughts of some radical reformers of the sixteenth century (Bernardino Ochino, Francesco Pucci, Fausto Sozzini, and Christian Francken), showing that the Radical Reformation was not merely a subplot of heretical history within the larger narrative of the Magisterial Reformation. Religious radicalism was primarily an extraordinary laboratory of ideas, which played a pivotal role in the rise of modern Europe: it influenced the intellectual process leading to the cultural revolution of the Enlightenment. Secularism, toleration, and rationalism ― three basic principles of Western civilization ― are part of its cultural heritage.

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Biographical Note

Mario Biagioni is an independent scholar and teacher of Latin and Italian Literature at an Italian secondary school. He has published several monographs and articles on the Radical Reformation, including Christian Francken e la crisi intellettuale della Riforma (Storia e Letteratura, 2014).

Table of contents


Chapter I A broader vision of the Radical Reformation. Some historiographical remarks

1.1 Bainton, Cantimori and “Eretici italiani del Cinquecento”
1. 2 The Radical Reformation in the historiography of the second half of twentieth century.
1. 3 A broader vision of the Radical Reformation.

Chapter II Travellers of utopia: the other Europe of the Italian exiles religionis causa

2.1 Travellers of Utopia
2.2 Parallel escapes: Pietro Martire Vermigli and Bernardino Ochino
2.3 The hard choice of Fausto Sozzini.
2.4 Francesco Pucci and the realistic utopia.

Chapter III Toleration and Adam’s immortality: a particular example of the relationship between Locke and the Socininians

3.1 Immortality of Adam and wideness of the kingdom of God in Locke’s writings.
3.2 Adam, Locke and the Socinians.
3.3 The debate between Fausto Sozzini and Francesco Pucci on the Adam’s immortality.
3.4 The issue of Adam’s immortality in the Socinian thought after Fausto Sozzini.
3.5 Immortality of Adam, salvation of mankind and toleration: what relationship?

Chapter IV Infinite mercy and infinite universe: Francesco Pucci and Giordano Bruno

4. 1 The infinite amplitude of the kingdom of God.
4. 2 Erasmian affinities: Francesco Pucci and Giordano Bruno.
4. 3 A lasting heritage: a brief history of the Puccianism in the seventeenth century.

Chapter V Christian Francken sceptical: the origins of the sixteenth-century scepticism.

5. 1 The descent of Christian Francken “in immensum”.
5. 2 Christian Francken and the criterion of truth.
5.3 Christian Francken and the “Dispute between a philosopher and a theologian on the uncertainty of Christian religion”
5.4 Christian Francken and the sixteenth-century origins of the treatise “De tribus impostoribus”

Chapter VI Conclusions

6.1 The Radical Reformation and the Making of Modern Europe
6.2 Secularism
6.3 Toleration and rationalism
6.4 The break of Modernity


Index of names


All those interested in early modern history, religious history, the Radical Reformation, and the history of ideas.