Censored Petrarchs from the files of Peter Stallybrass:
Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca [1304-1374]) wrote the so-called “Babylonian” sonnets in the mid-fourteenth century. They are an attack upon the second papacy that was established in Avignon in France in 1309, in opposition to the papacy in Rome. 16th-century critics of the papacy interpreted Petrarch’s poems, which do not mention Avignon, as attacks on the papacy in general and specifically on Rome. During the Counter-Reformation, the papacy put several famous vernacular writers on the Index of Prohibited Books, including Petrarch’s Avignon poems and letters. In the 1560s and 70s, many copies of Petrarch were censored by hand, using a variety of methods and materials. Here are some graphic examples.