Dell'impiego del danaro libri tre alla Santità di Nostro Signore Papa Benedetto decimoquarto

Autore: MAFFEI, Scipione (1675-1755)

Tipografo: Giannalberto Tumermani

Dati tipografici: Verona, 1744

4to (217x155 mm). XXII, (2), 332 [i.e.336] pp. Errors in pagination: p. 214 is repeated five times. Engraved vignette on title page by Hylbruick after Antonio Balestra. Decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. Contemporary stiff vellum with lettering piece on spine, marbled edges, green silk bookmark. Shelf mark labels on spine and front pastedown, ownership entry on first front flyleaf (“Di me Gio: Mezzanelli”). A very fresh and genuine copy.

First edition dedicated to Pope Benedict XIV. “The treatise deals with money lending at interest, a subject that was still challenged, banned and led to excommunication by the Holy Church in the middle of the 18th century […] A new ethical controversy arisen between the Bishop of Verona and his chapter revived the long-lived debate. A treatise entitled Dell'impiego del danaro libri tre by Scipione Maffei (1675-1755) appeared as a reaction to an orthodox opposition to money lending at interest […] Maffei, a descendant of an illustrious family that originated in Bologna, was raised in the liberal arts in Bologna. A representative of the ‘Republic of Letters', he was a true European intellectual. His publication was the secular response of the time to an outdated opposition from orthodox theologians and canonists. In Dell'impiego del danaro, he surveyed the origin and meaning of all terms involved in the discussion: lending, credit, exchange, interest, and usury. He reviewed a wide literature, from the absolute condemnation of usury expressed in the Bible, to scholastic treatises, summae for confessors and casuists, bulls and ecclesiastical decrees. And he also included in his treatise a lengthy illustration of the treatise De usuris licitis by the Dutch theologian Nicolas Broedersen (1743). Maffei concluded that under primitive economic conditions, usury was generally banned – according to Scriptures and patristic literature – owing to the fact that it was a way of oppressing the poor. He argued, however, that contemporary economies needed money lending as a way to increase prosperity through a wider monetary circulation, exchange banking and commercial credit. In his view, interest was a form of incentive […] The reaction to the treatise was immediate. Expanding on a text written in 1734 […] – Ballerini published in Bologna La dottrina della Chiesa Cattolica circa l'usura (1744, 1745 and 1747) insisting on purely theological arguments […] In spite of Muratori's sympathy for Maffei, Ballerini's radical view led the Inquisition of the Republic to notice the silence, prohibit the distribution of Maffei's book and seize all copies of the book. On November 1, 1745, Benedict XIV issued the bull Vix pervenit, in which the condemnation of usury was firmly reassured. At the same time, the Pope - who was favorable to a balance in the matter – allow Maffei to revise and publish a second edition with amendments of his controversial treatise that appeared in Roma in 1746, combined with the text of the papal bull condemning usury. The Venetian Inquisition sanctioned Maffei's violation of silence with imprisonment for a few month” (M. Palumbo & E. Sidoli, eds., Books that made Europe, Brussels, 2016, p. 128).

Venturi I, 122 e sgg; Kress, 4716; Einaudi, 3603.