Whose wonderful news? Italian satire and William Baldwin's Wonderfull Newes of the death of Paule the III

Anne Overell, Scott C. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


About the year 1552, the celebrated mid-Tudor author William Baldwin released Wonderfull Newes of the Death of Paul the III, his translation of a satirical and scandalous account of Pope Paul III's supposed arrival in hell. For over a century, influential Anglophone scholars and bibliographers have ascribed the original of Baldwin's work, the anonymous Epistola de morte Pauli tertii (1549), to the Lutheran reformer, Matthias Flacius, who was based in Germany. This article challenges that attribution, showing that there is no evidence for Flacius' authorship. Instead, it locates the Epistola in a community of Italian religious exiles publishing in Basel and identifies the fiercely anti-papal polemicist Pier Paolo Vergerio as the most likely author. In reopening the authorship question, the essay examines the motives behind the creation of this work and shows how Renaissance anti-papalism traversed confessional and geographical boundaries. The conclusion traces the intricate international network through which this topical Italian satire probably reached William Baldwin, whose translation became one of the most daring texts of the earlier Tudor period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-196
Number of pages17
JournalRenaissance Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Baldwin
  • Reformation
  • Vergerio
  • anti-papalism
  • satire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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