Truth and Justice in a 'Forest of Thieves': The Heresies of Giovanni Battista De Luca and the Documents of the Roman Inquisition

219 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2016 Last revised: 9 Jun 2022

See all articles by Gian Luca D'Errico

Gian Luca D'Errico

Università di Bologna; Scuola Normale Superiore

Date Written: May 30, 2016


This essay attempts to explain the scientific and cultural background to the hermeneutic study and transcription of documents from the Congregation of the Holy Office and Index relating to Cardinal Giovanni Battista De Luca. The documents, stored in the Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (hereinafter ACDF) in Vatican City, have been available to academics since 1998. It is a large body of records which bears witness to the concerns of these two congregations relating to the philosophy of law expressed by Giovanni Battista De Luca in his main work, Theatrum veritatis et iustitiae (1669-1681). The most important and articulate set of documents relates to censorship of this work (ACDF, C.I, Protocolli 047, ZZ) and allows for analysis of two diametrically opposed positions: the ecclesiology of De Luca and his learned condemnation. Critical examination of these documents will form part of research into the role played by Giovanni Battista De Luca’s ideas during that period in the century after his death, 5th February 1683, which became known as Juridical Illuminism. Above all it serves, amongst other purposes, to enrich and complete our knowledge of Giovanni Battista De Luca, universally recognised by academics as one of the most important legal advocates of the seventeenth century. The figure of De Luca has not yet been investigated in such a dynamic way taking into consideration the elements of continuity and fracture which have contributed to the transformation of the Church and state throughout history.

Keywords: Giovanni Battista De Luca, Roman Inquisition, Censorship, Ecclesiastical Law, Innocent XI

Suggested Citation

D'Errico, Gian Luca, Truth and Justice in a 'Forest of Thieves': The Heresies of Giovanni Battista De Luca and the Documents of the Roman Inquisition (May 30, 2016). Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Research Paper Series No. 2016-09, Available at SSRN: or

Gian Luca D'Errico (Contact Author)

Università di Bologna ( email )

Via Zamboni, 33
Bologna, 40126

Scuola Normale Superiore ( email )

Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7
Pisa, 56126

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