What to expect when you're expecting the Catholic Reformation

Posted on ..

Ok, here is a preview of what I'll be covering in the upcoming series on the Catholic Reformation (aka the Counter-Reformation) which will mostly focus on Iberia (=Spain and Portugal) with some glances back at Italy. As usual in these previews, I haven't listed interviews here. 

The series will kick of on January 28, with episode 438, an introduction to this mini-series. With interviews it will take most of 2024, and then we're on to the 17th-18th centuries finally (starting with France and the Low Countries).

Introduction to the Catholic Reformation
The Inquisition
Exploration and Science
The Valladoid Debate
Spanish humanism
Spanish mysticism 
The rise of the Jesuits 
Introduction to Spanish Scholasticism (SS) 
Political and legal theory in SS
Natural law theory in SS
Metaphysics in SS
Luis de Molina 
Foreknowledge and free will in SS
Francisco Suárez
Oliva Sabuco  
Velasquez (yes, I mean the painter)
"Outsider" Philosophy (The Cheese and the Worms) 

Spencer on 18 November 2023

The inquisition?

I have to say, I'm surprised...because, as you know, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! 

In reply to by Spencer

Peter Adamson on 18 November 2023

Monty Python

I was already wondering how many variations on that joke I can allow myself.

Johannes Berglein on 18 November 2023

No "Life Is a Dream"?

Dear Peter, I am delighted! Thank you very much for this preview! I was just wondering if you will cover the highly philosophical work of Pedro Calderón de la Barca. After five episodes on Shakespeare I think it is just fair to devote one whole episode to his fellow philosopher-dramatist from Spain. 

Again, many thanks your work! 

Peter Adamson on 18 November 2023

de la Barca

Thanks for the suggestion! I'll check him out. I was sort of thinking that Cervantes would be the analogous figure in this series, but that wouldn't rule it out.

Matt on 19 November 2023

And in the non-Western sphere?

Just curious! I have so thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this horizon-broadening podcast (and the books), that I can’t wait to see where you go once the Africana is concluded. It’s all been just amazing, and I can’t wait.

In reply to by Matt

Peter Adamson on 19 November 2023

After Africana

In February we are moving on to classical China! I will post a tentative episode list for that too, in the next couple of months.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

anonymous admirer on 19 November 2023



Love all your hard work, Peter.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Matt on 20 November 2023


I was wondering whether (and hoping) that might be the next stop! Such marvelously comprehensive work. Thanks again!

Burt on 28 November 2023


Beyond the episode on the Valladolid Debate, is there going to be any coverage of thought about race/ethnicity in early modern Spain/the Spanish Americas? It seems that this would fall under the purview of the podcast and, if anything, constitutes a bit of a "gap" in the coverage of the Middle Ages (it might have been nice to have an episode or two on medieval European attitudes towards race/ethnicity).

In reply to by Burt

Peter Adamson on 28 November 2023

Spanish Americas

Actually what I am hoping to do is to have a whole series on Philosophy in the Americas at some point in the future, looking at the topic you mention of course as well a Native American, Mesoamerican, and Latin American philosophy. You're right that I could/should have said more about it in the medieval period, this is a topic that is a lot higher on my radar nowadays after doing the Africana series. 

mehmet on 3 December 2023

Just for the record, the…

Just for the record, the plan given on march 20, 2021 was

Spanish humanism       
Spanish mysticism       
Vitoria and the School of Salamanca
Political and legal theory               
Natural law theory                          
The rise of the Jesuits                      
The Coimbra Commentaries
Luis de Molina                               
Francisco Suárez                           
The Suárez-Bellarmine affair
Oliva Sabuco                                  
Matteo Ricci and contact with China
De las Casas, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, and the New World
The Inquisition       
The trial of Galileo   

So the episodes about

--Vitoria and the School of Salamanca
--The Coimbra Commentaries
--The Suárez-Bellarmine affair
--Matteo Ricci and contact with China
--De las Casas, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, and the New World

seem to be cancelled. 

I think the coverage is a bit narrowed down. 

In reply to by mehmet

Peter Adamson on 3 December 2023


Actually it's more like moving stuff around (de las Casas and Sepulveda come a lot earlier now for instance, that's the Valladoid debate). I think overall maybe more episodes are planned now than before, but it is about the same. 

dukeofethereal on 10 December 2023

Gentili, Banez and Botero. etcc?

Where will you squeeze Gentili (one of the key figures of 'international law'), in the episode titled 'Political and legal theory in SS' ? 


What about Giovanni Botero and his book 'The Reason of State'?  given that Botero was influenced by Bodin. 

Dominigo Banez ( fierce Thomists, sometime spiritual adviser to St Teresa of Avila (which you are including in 'Spanish Mysticism') & opposed Molinism regarding Free will) = huge debates in the late 1590's (he himself changed the direction of Thomism for decades to come). He should be included 


Alfonso de Castro (work on Criminal law and anti Lutheran) = include in either episode under Spanish header  ' Political and legal theory' or 'Natural law theory'.


Gregory of Valencia (Salamanca scholastic)  = Defended Luis De Molina position on Grace and predestination 


Nicolás Monardes ( Spanish humanist/botanist) = include him in episode of Spanish Humanism/Exploration and Science

Bartolomé Carranza = include him in the episode devoted to the 'Inquisition' given he was a victim of it

Melchor Cano work 'De Locis theologicis' (successor to De Vitoria chair of head of Salamanca , rival to Bartolome Carranza and anti Jesuits) = you could include him either episodes professor as theme 


Juan de Celaya - Spanish Mathematician 

Pedro da Fonseca ( Portuguese 'Aristotle') - played a huge role in the development of Conimbricenses in which you had an episode devoted to initially... 

St. Robert Bellarmine - 2nd scholastics 


In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 11 December 2023

More Iberian philosophy

Thanks very much! I had your previous list already in my notes - not sure I will get all these figures in but will definitely do Fonseca, Banez and Cano, and I'll have a look at Castro for the legal theory episodes. I have already thought about whether Bellarmine needs his own episode or can just be discussed when I do the Church vs Galileo in the last episode; probably the latter, but we'll see. 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 15 December 2023

Botero and Gentili GAP

Hugo Grotius who you will devote at-least an episode in 1600-1800 France-Low Countries drew a lot from Alberico Gentili. You could have included Gentili to an episode in British reformation given he died in England in an episode devoted to 'Legal theory' but Richard Hooker took that episode instead. 

But you have a chance to include one of the 3 important philosophers on International Law as you will be covering De Vitoria (Catholic) in this series and Grotius in the next major series, it's a sizable gap if this individual is not mentioned. But given he is a protestant will he fit in that episode themed 'Political and legal theory in SS' ? 


Regarding Botero you can discuss about the idea of knowledge and counsel from his works.  Also he was a Historian, it was a shame you did not include him in the Italian renaissance but you have a chance to include him in this series given he was a Jesuit philosopher reacting to the reformation. 

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 16 December 2023

Legal theory

Actually the "in SS" label on those episodes following the general introduction to Spanish Scholasticism is misleading; I am going to take the opportunity to include comparable thinkers from elsewhere in the Catholic world. So the episode on political and legal theory is actually penciled in on my own episode list (which has notes about what exactly I want to cover) as being devoted to Vitoria, Gentili, and Botero. I guess actually things may move around quite a bit as I work out each episode but I'll try to skip as little as possible of course! 

In reply to by Peter Adamson

dukeofethereal on 13 April 2024

Bellarmine deserves his own episode

Bellarmine is a giant of a scholar, deserves an episode. Shouldn't be just mentioned because of his interactions with Galileo, his views on Political Philosophy were really influential. 

dukeofethereal on 25 December 2023

1600-1800 France/Low Countries

Given we'll be on this series sometime in 2025, how many scripted episodes do you think it will take to cover it? I may be jumping the gun Professor this early,I'm curious to see how much material you have amassed for that epoch of a series. 

In reply to by dukeofethereal

Peter Adamson on 26 December 2023

Number of episodes

Actually I'm more amassing material for the Counterreformation series, still. So on this the best I can say is that I'm shooting for it to be a single volume in the book series, hence between 60 and 75 episodes not counting interviews. Same for the other early modern series so we'll be at this for quite a while, maybe 6-7 years to do the whole 17-18th centuries.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Bernese on 23 January 2024

End of French early modern series (french revolution)

I’ve got a (belated) follw-up question (or actually a follow-up question to another thread on the Early Modern series in an Africana episode, but I think it fits better here). Do you already have an idea at what point exactly the series on Early Modern french philosophy will stop? I think in particular about whether the series will include the political thought of the French Revolution era or whether this will be treated in the 19th century. I mean, the French Revolution constituted a completely new context for political thinkers – and it also gave them a lot of new stuff to think about! So it will makes quite a difference whether or not those 75 episode are meant include the ideas of everyone from Babeuf to de Maistre. Personally I think both approaches would be interesting: to treat the French Revolution in the context of the enlightenment ideas which influenced it or in the context of the early 19th century ideas that reacted to it.  

And as a sidenote: I am very excited about the Catholic/counter-reformation series!

In reply to by Bernese

Peter Adamson on 24 January 2024

Ending the France series

I was thinking of going up to about 1800 precisely because I wanted to do the French Revolution as the culmination of that series; I think otherwise it would kind of end on a cliffhanger. Then when we get to the 19th century (which would be a different series) we'd be looking, in part, at the reaction to those events around Europe, so not just in France but also, say, Burke or Hegel. But beyond that I genuinely have no idea how to handle the 19th century yet, like, how to split it into manageable chunks or how many series/books to devote to it. On the bright side I don't need to decide until about 2030!

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.