The historical significance of lying and dissimilation

The historical significance of lying and dissimilation – Truth-Telling, Lying and Self-Deception

Perez Zagorin

MONTAIGNE whose essays reflected upon lying as they did on so many other things in human life, once observed that “the opposite of truth hath many-many shapes and an undefinite field” (1910, Vol. 1, p. 47). This remark is borne out by the current literature on lying, which seems to have become an extensively discussed, even somewhat fashionable, subject among social scientists. A bibliography on lying and deception given to me several months ago, compiled from recent writings on social psychology, contained over three hundred entries.(1) Included among them were titles like, “Cultural Differences in Deception: Motivations to Deceive in Samoans and North Americans” (1994), “False Suspicion and The Misperception of Deceit” (1987), “Sex Differences in Lying: How Men and Women Deal with The Dilemma of Deceit” (1993), “Mystification and Deception in Presidential Press Conferences,” (1976), and “Lying and Detecting Lies in Organizations” (1989). Judging by the amount of published writing and research devoted to the subject, psychologists’ interest in lying has been growing steadily. The same trend is visible in sociology. A Pack of Lies, J. A. Barnes’s excellent recent (1994) survey of the sociology of lying, includes a bibliography of nearly 550 items dealing with the practice of Iying in a large number of social and cultural contexts. Perhaps one might speculate that since the appearance in 1978 of Sissela Bok’s important and widely noticed book, Lying. Moral Choice in Private and Public Life, the concern with lying and deception has continually increased. Bok’s work was actuated by worry over declining standards of truth-telling and for this reason apparently touched a nerve. It coincided with the growing skepticism and mistrust felt among Americans and in other western nations about the veracity of governments, officials, and politicians, as well as lawyers, the medical profession, and business corporations. This attitude may be traced back to the period of the Vietnam War and even before and perhaps provides part of the explanation for the expanding attention within the social sciences to the matter of lying.

Present-day psychologists, sociologists, and other investigators who examine lying as a type of behavior commonly view it as a normal aspect of human existence, whether in personal relationships or in the public sphere. By treating it as an everyday occurrence, an ordinary fact of social life rather than an exceptional event, they have as one of their purposes the collection of data as to how often people lie, what they lie about, to whom they lie and in what situations, and the reasons they give for telling lies.(2) It would also appear that the social science disciplines usually assume or conclude that “deception, lying, falsehood, and masking of our inner selves” are an inevitable part of the social world of human beings (Saarni & Lewis, 1993, p. 8). While they do not, of course, endorse lying, they refrain from moralizing over it, rarely if ever speak of the desirability of a love of truth, and also recognize that lying may often serve a beneficial purpose. Nietzsche, not on the whole indulgent to human frailty, declared that lies were a necessity in order to go on living and to overcome the harshness of reality (1968, p. 451, quoted in Barnes, 1994, p. 140). Another writer, a French psychiatrist, states that “a society in which all truths were bluntly exposed would be more like a hell than a paradise” (Eck, 1970, p. 69). In a similar spirit, the authors of a monograph on lying in daily life observe that while lies are more often told to serve the self than to benefit others, they are used less in pursuit of goals like financial gain and material advantage and more for the sake of psychic rewards such as esteem, affection, and respect. They hold, moreover, that the portrayal of everyday lies as disruptive of social life and harmful to others is in need of modification, because so many of these lies are told to avoid tension and conflict and to minimize hurt feelings and ill will (DePaulo et al., 1996, p. 980). Probably most social scientists, as well as at least some philosophers and moralists, would agree with a sociologist’s conclusion that “everyone should recognize the ubiquity of lying, its inevitability, and its beneficial as well as its detrimental attributes. . .” (Barnes, 1994, p. 167).

If lying is such a commonplace thing, “an everyday social interaction” and “privately practiced,” as has been thought, “by almost everybody” (Kashy & DePaulo, 1996, p. 1037; Nyberg, 1993, p. 7), in what sense can it be said to have any historical dimension or significance? Thus pictured, lying is universal in its dailiness, as universal, say, as the sexual instinct; and while the repertoire of sexual behavior in humans may be affected by current attitudes and ideologies, the behavior itself is not an historical or cultural phenomenon, but a species attribute belonging to biology and our animal nature rather than to history. In the same way, humans’ propensity to lie might be seen as an attribute coterminous with the evolutionary emergence of verbal language, which they alone among the higher animals are privileged to possess, and which grants to mendacity and dissimulation a range of possibility infinitely greater than what is available to creatures incapable of speech.(3) A lie itself, of course, meaning some particular lie, may be productive of large historical effects. The Protocols of The Elders of Zion, the famous forgery depicting a Jewish master plan for world conquest, was a lie of this kind. The historical record contains numerous examples of consequential lies, some told by individuals, others by governments and institutions, among them lies which, perhaps originating in part as ignorance and error, were then elaborated into malign imaginings, fantastic misrepresentations, and false accusations such as underlay the witchcraft craze and the persecution of heretics in medieval and early modern Europe. But in all these cases, including occasional benign ones, like the British government’s systematic deception of the Germans in World War II with the help of the intelligence information provided by the highly secret Ultra machine, it is the particular lie that is significant, not the practice of lying itself.

But if Iying as such is on the whole not an historical phenomenon, there is, nevertheless, one type of lying and dissimulation which is of fundamental historical importance, despite its surprising neglect not only by social scientists, but even by historians, who seem almost to have ignored its existence.(4) It consists of the lies and deceit that people use to express a false and pretended conformity as a response to religious or political persecution. The practice of dissimulation for this reason is a feature of every society that refuses toleration to dissenting minorities and in which a feigned conformity may be the price of survival. In the West prior to the emergence of the liberal era in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, dissimulation in reaction to religious persecution and the enforcement of orthodoxy was a widespread practice.(5) With the growth of toleration, liberty of conscience, and intellectual freedom in the wake of the revolutions in England, America, France, and continental Europe, religious dissimulation largely disappeared. It was succeeded in our own time by political dissimulation as an inevitable accompaniment of the dictatorial regimes established after the first World War in Bolshevik Russia, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany, which aspired to an extensive or total control of their citizens and the suppression of all autonomous and oppositional political activity. Not until the recent collapse of communist rule in the USSR and its satellite states have the conditions underlying this kind of dissimulation largely ceased to exist in Europe.

Of course, I do not mean to suggest that present-day liberal and democratic societies can themselves ever be free of the dissimulation arising from pressures for conformity, whether emanating from governments, particular institutions, or citizen organizations. A recent work by an economist, Timur Kuran, contains an illuminating discussion of this kind of dissimulation or lying, which he names Preference Falsification, and examines its considerable consequences both in the United States and in relation to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. The author is undoubtedly correct in his claim that “preference falsification is compatible with all political systems, from the most unyielding dictatorship to the most libertarian democracy” (Kuran, 1995, p. x). Nonetheless, as I shall presently point out in connection with the history of early modern Europe and the Protestant Reformation, this type of dissimulation is particularly characteristic of and prevalent in persecuting societies that assume the necessity of repressing and eliminating any dissent from religious or political uniformity.

A clue to the nature of such dissimulation is contained in the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz’s classic work The Captive Mind, a penetrating account of how the postwar communist regime in Poland gained control of the nation’s intellectuals. Milosz called the false conformity to the party’s ideology and country’s political system “Ketman,” a term he took from a work by the nineteenth-century French thinker Gobineau, Les Religions et Les Philosophies dans L’Asie Centrale (1865). Ketman, an Arabic word meaning disguise, is associated with an Islamic doctrine better known as takiya, which permits the concealment and dissimulation of one’s religious beliefs if confronted with the danger of death or injury from persecutors. Although not limited to them, takiya is particularly identified with the Shi’ites, an Islamic sect that underwent frequent persecution by Sunni Muslims. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, the doctrine is taught in the Koran and refers to dispensation from the duties of religion under compulsion or threat of harm. A fourteenth-century authority summed it up in a Koranic commentary as follows: “If anyone is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue, while his heart contradicts him, to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him, because God takes his servants as their hearts believe” (Encyclopedia…, [1931-36] 1987, vol. viii, p. 628). Adapting the concept of Ketman, which was a doctrine legitimizing religious dissimulation, Milosz applied it to the denial of one’s convictions and false professions of faith under communism and gave a subtle description of its operation among different types of intellectuals. Ketman meant a kind of acting, a constant masquerade widely practiced in the communist people’s democracies. He spoke of the Ketman of the twentieth century, of national Ketman, professional Ketman, and the Ketman of those who sought to unmask the Ketman of others. The term served as a way of designating the dissimulation which intellectuals and other members of a communist-dominated society felt forced or chose to adopt in order to manifest their accord with the party’s line, values, and goals (Milosz, [1951] 1981, ch. III).

In one essential respect, however, the Ketman Milosz depicted was different from its Islamic source. The latter provided to the faithful a sanction or injunction for religious dissimulation derived from the inspired words of the prophet Mohammed and the Koran itself.(6) In Poland and other communist countries, however, those who conformed to their political masters without belief or sincerity had no authoritative doctrinal justification for their accommodation. They had only their personal excuses, rationalizations, and explanations, embracing different motives and reasons such as self-preservation, refusal to accept life in exile, careerism, opportunism, and ambition, loyalty to the people or nation if not the state, and so on.

In the West in past centuries there was a counterpart to Ketman or takiya in certain doctrines which furnished a rationale and justification for dissimulation and lying by individuals belonging to persecuted religious communities. During the later Middle Ages and the early modern era they were used by Christian heretics, Iberian Jews, and by Protestants, Catholics, and sectarians in situations where they faced the danger of persecution. These doctrines affirmed the legitimacy of a false appearance of conformity, in contradiction to one’s genuine beliefs, to an untrue, idolatrous, and sinful religion if the alternative were injury or death. They also permitted untruthful devices of speech, like equivocation and mental reservation, to deceive religious enemies.

Behind the doctrines of dissimulation relied on by such persecuted groups lay a millenially long tradition of discussion and argument concerning the licitness of lying and dissimulation, which was based almost entirely on biblical precedents and examples. Dating back to an early time in the history of the Christian church, this discussion was carried on during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the era of the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation by church fathers, moral theologians, canonists, philosophers, casuists, humanist scholars, Protestant reformers and pastors, jurists, and theorists of natural law.(7) Sissela Boks’s Lying included a brief appendix of excerpts by a handful of thinkers on the subject of lying, starting with Augustine and Aquinas, passing through Grotius and Kant, and ending with several recent authors. This selection, however, cannot possibly convey a realization of the countless works of moral theology, canon law, and casuistry that dealt with the problem down through the seventeenth century and even beyond. Nor was Bok aware, despite a passing reference to John Calvin’s disapproval of the Protestants who concealed their religious views by participating in Catholic worship, of the existence of a full blown doctrine of religious dissimulation and the extent of its importance in the sixteenth century (Bok, 1978, p. 36).

The most important of the many writers in the Christian West who have dealt with lying and dissimulation is the church father Augustine, whose treatment of the subject affected all subsequent discussion. Unconditionally opposed to a lie of any sort, irrespective of its reason, Augustine laid out his views mainly in two short works, On Lying (De Mendacio) and Against Lying (Contra Mendacium), dating from the end of the fourth and the early fifth centuries C.E.(8) His definition of lying–“a false statement made with the intention to deceive”–and his acute analysis of the different kinds of lies, divided into eight categories, were drawn on by innumerable authors. The liar, according to Augustine, was a person who by speech or other action expresses to another what is contra mentem, that is, who speaks contrary to his mind. Augustine was especially concerned with refuting justifications for lying and dissimulation derived from various instances contained in the Old and the New Testament. Among such instances were Abraham’s pretense that his wife Sarah was his sister (Gen. 12:11-13);(9) Jacob’s deception of his father Isaac in pretending to be the latter’s firstborn son Esau (Gen. 27:19); the Egyptian midwives’ lie to Pharaoh in order to save the Hebrew children (Exod. 1:17-20); and statements by Jesus in which he misled his disciples, like his pretending on the road to Emmaus that he would go further (Luke 24:28).(10)

Augustine also engaged in a controversial correspondence with the church father and great biblical translator Jerome over the issue of dissimulation. Their disagreement centered on the interpretation of the most prominent and explicit text in the New Testament referring to dissimulation, the passage in the epistle to the Galatians in which the apostle Paul relates how he rebuked his fellow apostle Peter for dissembling his beliefs. According to Paul, Peter, on account of his fear of the Jews, pretended to conform to the ordinances of the Jewish law from which Christ had freed those who believed in him. Paul, therefore, accused Peter publicly of dissimulation and of not walking uprightly in the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2: 11-14). Expounding this episode in his commentary on Galatians, Jerome explained that Paul had merely pretended to reprove Peter, and that both apostles rightly dissimulated in order to win or confirm Jewish converts to faith in Christ. He likewise maintained that Paul himself engaged in dissimulation on the occasions when he observed Jewish rites (Acts 16:3, 18:8), as well as in the principle on which he acted in dealing with the Jews, “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew” (Corinth. 9:20). He also cited examples of dissimulation in the Old Testament, such as David feigning madness (1 Samuel 22:12-13) end Jehu king of Israel pretending to worship the idol Baal so that he could kill Baal’s priests (2 Kings 10:18-28). From these cases he concluded that “dissimulation at times may be accepted as useful” (“utilem vero simulationem et assumendam tempore”), and that just men would dissimulate for the sake of their own and others’ salvation, especially since Christ himself, who was without sin, used dissimulation when he took on sinful human flesh to satisfy God’s justice for the salvation of mankind.(11)

Augustine condemned Jerome’s interpretation of the episode in Galatians as a defense of lying and sent him several letters expressing strong dissent. In these he maintained that Paul was never guilty of untruth and had rightly censured Peter for his conduct. He described Paul’s saying that he became as a Jew to the Jews as spoken “through mercy and compassion, not deceit and dissimulation.” What principally disturbed him was the danger of admitting that the scriptures contained or sanctioned any lies. If this were once conceded, he said, it would destroy the authority of the Sacred Books and make them a precedent for liars. Jerome’s reply defended himself against Augustine’s strictures and continued to affirm that both Paul and Peter had feigned observance of the Jewish law in order not to antagonize the Jews. In a final letter Augustine renewed his criticisms of Jerome’s views and reiterated his denial of the claim that the scriptures ever permitted dissimulation.(12)

In dealing in his treatises on lying with alleged examples of dissimulation in the Old or New Testament, Augustine either explained them away as not being lies or else interpreted them as allegories or metaphorical statements rather than falsehoods. Pointing out that in the New Testament Jesus used figurative language, he insisted that the gospels contained nothing to justify the telling of a lie. He frequently emphasized that the scriptures should not be read literally: “all things in the gospel,” he remarked, “which to the ignorant seem to be lies, are figurative in meaning.” He particularly refused to countenance dissimulation for religious reasons. One of the arguments he attacked that was to be widely invoked by later defenders of dissimulation was the doctrine distinguishing between heart and tongue. According to this doctrine, the tongue could say what was false if one kept the truth in one’s heart. In refuting it, Augustine observed that it dishonored the martyrs who died for the truth and made holy martyrdom impossible. Almost all those, he declared, who disavowed Christ to their persecutors kept him in their hearts, but for failing to avow their faith they incurred eternal damnation unless they repented. The apostle Peter, too, on one occasion denied Christ but believed differently in his heart, yet he wept bitterly afterward because of his betrayal (Matt. 26:69-75). For Augustine, therefore, the separation of heart from tongue as an excuse for lying was untenable, and believers were obliged to profess their faith at any price. While condemning all lies as sinful, he did allow that it was justifiable to conceal the truth and that this was not the same as lying. He applied this principle to Christ, who though he never spoke a falsehood, nevertheless withheld many truths. In most instances, Augustine argued that apparent cases of dissimulation in the scriptures were really prophetic, mystical, or figurative statements conveying a truth if correctly understood. Thus, Jacob’s pretending to be his firstborn brother Esau signified the coming of Christ and the church, while Jesus pretending to his disciples that he would go further was a mystery signifying the fulfillment of redemption. In the case of the Egyptian midwives’ lie to Pharaoh, he explained that God rewarded them for their good deed of mercy, not their bad deed of deception, and perhaps pardoned the latter for the sake of the former.(13)

Augustine’s magisterial examination of the question of lying furnished material for many later generations of writers who addressed the subject, while the scriptural cases he touched upon were to reappear along with other precedents in subsequent apologies for dissimulation. Among additional important texts on lying that should be noted in this brief survey is one contained in Pope Gregory the Great’s Moralia, a highly influential commentary on the book of Job written at the beginning of the sixth century. This text was to figure prominently in the defense of dissimulation by sixteenth-century Catholics. After referring to a statement of Job’s for which he had been blamed by one of his interlocutors in the book (Job 35:2), Gregory inquired what harm there could be if in the judgment of men “our words differ superficially from the rectitude of truth when in the heart they are in accord with it?” He then went on to say in a much quoted passage: “The ears of men judge our words as they sound outwardly, but the divine judgment hears them as they are uttered from within. Among men the heart is judged by the words; with God the words are judged by the heart.” This statement, known from its opening Latin words as “Humanae aures,” which distinguished heart from word and inner meaning from its outward expression, could be used to support the practice of dissimulation in religion.(14) Its importance was enhanced by its subsequent inclusion in Gratian’s Decretum, the twelfth-century compilation of the canon law which exercised immeasurable legal and moral influence upon Catholic civilization. Gratian devoted considerable attention to questions relating to lying, quoting pronouncements from the scriptures, church fathers, especially Augustine, popes, ecclesiastical councils, and other authorities. He also commented on a number of examples in the Old and New Testament that had been used to permit dissimulation. His extended treatment and the texts and opinions concerning lying that he incorporated in his collection provided a thesaurus of doctrines for later canonists, moral theologians, and other writers (Gratian, [1879] 1952, vol. 1, pt. 2).(15)

Of the scholastic philosophers of the Middle Ages who dealt with lying, Thomas Aquinas was the most prominent, and his work was later widely used and commented upon by the moral theologians, canonists, and casuists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In his commentary on Paul’s letters, in which he discussed the episode of dissimulation in Galatians, he held that Paul was right to rebuke Peter for his dissimulation. Reviewing the difference of opinion between Augustine and Jerome, he stated his agreement with the former and reaffirmed the view that the scriptures contained no authorization for lying (Aquinas, 1953, vol. I, pp. 583-84). His vast theological synthesis, Summa Theologiae, presented a systematic treatment of the subject of lying which went beyond Augustine’s in its scope and detail. Among the matters he examined were legal procedure, oaths, interrogations, and the obligation to truth of defendants, witnesses, lawyers, and judges. While opposing the lie no less strongly than Augustine, he gave more attention to practical matters and qualifications. Thus, he ruled out any obligation to self-incrimination in legal cases and permitted a defendant if questioned by a judge contrary to law to remain silent or take refuge in “some other licit subterfuge.” He allowed an accused person to defend himself by concealment of a truth he had no obligation to admit and by the use of prudent evasion. In this connection, he stated that a wise man “does not conceal himself by trickery but through prudence.” Aquinas adopted Augustine’s definition of the lie as a statement made with the intention to deceive. At the same time, however, he stressed its formal character as speech contrary to what is in the speaker’s mind. When he reviewed various scriptural precedents for lying, he explained them, like Augustine, as figurative and prophetic, not literal expressions. In the course of his closely reasoned, extended analysis, he quoted the text of “Humanae aures” in relation to oaths, as well as Jerome’s declaration in his Galatians commentary that dissimulation was sometimes acceptable. While he considered lying as inherently evil, he not only left some room for evasion and concealment of the truth in certain situations, but for statements that might be formally untrue but did not fall under the strict prohibition against lying.(16)

One of the scriptural passages frequently cited in defense of dissimulation was the story of Naaman. I do not know who first discussed this text in its bearing on the question of dissimulation, but one of the foremost authorities to do so was the fourteenth-century Hebrew scholar and theologian, Nicholas of Lyra. Nicholas was a celebrated biblical commentator whose work was widely known, and many early printed editions of the Bible contained his exegeses as marginal glosses. The second book of Kings relates that the prophet Elisha cured the leprosy of Naaman, a great captain and servant of the king of Syria, and in gratitude Naaman became a convert to the God of Israel. Although vowing never to make sacrifices to other gods, Naaman nevertheless begged Elisha for the Lord’s pardon when he accompanied the king his master, who would lean upon his arm, into the temple of the idol Rimmon and bowed down with him there. Elisha answered this request by bidding Naaman to go in peace (2 Kings 5:17-19; 4 Kings 5:17-19 in the Vulgate). Nicholas used this story to comment upon dissimulation. After first pointing out that not only the worship of idols, but even the simulation of this worship was sin, he went on to consider the grounds on which Elisha could dispense the convert Naaman from the Jewish law’s prohibition against idolatry. He explained Elisha’s answer as meaning that what Naaman feared as unlawful was actually lawful, because the Syrian captain had a duty to assist his king, which was not illicit in its own nature. Moreover, Naaman could perform his duty either within or outside the idol’s temple. The permission he sought of Elisha, therefore, was only to help his king in the idol’s temple as he did elsewhere, and he asked it not out of reverence to the idol, but to avoid incurring the king’s displeasure. This was the permission, according to Nicholas, that Elisha granted him, and it was lawful to do so (“Ad IIII Regum . . .,” 1506-8).

While Nicholas of Lyra was probably not the first author to comment on the issue of dissimulation in the case of Naaman the Syrian, the popularity of his work would have served to make the example of Naaman important in determining whether a dissimulated submission to idolatry was ever lawful. The precedent of Naaman was widely debated in the sixteenth century and often invoked by those who held it licit to conceal their true belief by pretended conformity.

The writings on lying and dissimulation I have touched upon in the preceding account, together with the biblical cases they discussed, represent merely a portion of the background literature and sources from which members of persecuted religious groups could fashion a justification for dissimulation. God’s law forbade lying by its command against bearing false witness (Exod. 20:16). The purpose of the theory or doctrine of dissimulation was to show that there were certain situations and accompanying reasons derived from scriptural precedents in which duplicity and misrepresentation of the truth would not be in violation of this prohibition.

The practice of dissimulation rationalized by doctrine may be seen prior to the sixteenth century in certain heretical sects like the Waldensians or Vaudois, a community of biblical Christians opposed to the wealth, power, and worldliness of the Catholic church. Scattered over southern France, northern Italy, and parts of Spain, Germany, and Central Europe, the Vaudois were noted for their ruses of dissimulation to escape detection.(17) Although they had their own clandestine worship, clergy, and conventicles, they attended Catholic services and mass. A guide drawn up in the early fourteenth century by the inquisitor Bernard Gui for the use of officials of the papal inquisition in France summarized what it called their methods of “duplicity and deceit of words.” Gui reported that they used equivocation to answer different questions from the ones their interrogator put to them, responded to a question by asking another, and professed to believe anything the inquisitor wanted them to believe. When asked their creed, they replied that they believed whatever a good Christian ought to believe. Asked to state what that was, they replied that it was what the holy church believed. Asked next what they called the holy church, they said it was what the inquisitor believed the holy church was. When the inquisitor answered that this was the Roman church ruled by the pope and prelates, they answered, “Yes, I also believe that,” meaning they believed that this was the inquisitor’s belief (Gut, [1322] 1926-27, vol. 2, pp. 63, 65-7, 73, 75)

Another inquisitorial manual composed around 1376 by the Dominican Nicholas Eymerich, inquisitor general in several of the Spanish kingdoms, throws further light on the methods of the Vaudois when subjected to questioning. Eymerich described these heretics as “masters in the art of hiding the truth,” whose dissimulation made them very difficult to examine. He listed some of the tricks they used to reply without confessing. Among them was equivocation in the form of adding an unexpressed mental condition to an answer–a device known as mental reservation or restriction. They rejected the Catholic teaching that marriage is a sacrament. Hence, when asked if they believed marriage is a sacrament, they answered that they did if God willed it, mentally understanding, however, that God did not will them to believe it. They likewise rejected the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist. Thus, if shown the consecrated bread and asked if it was the true body of Christ, they would say that it was, while mentally referring to their own body or to a stone in the sense that either of these is of God and Christ. They also condemned the taking of oaths as contrary to the gospel (Matt. 5: 34). Accordingly, when asked if it was sin to swear an oath, they replied equivocally that someone who told the truth did not sin, or that it was a great sin to swear vainly. Sometimes they feigned incomprehension or madness in the hope of avoiding torture or death. “I have seen this a thousand times,” the inquisitor noted (Eymerich, [1578] 1973, pp. 26-9, passim).

The evidence on the Waldensians does not mention the specific scriptural precedents or examples on which they relied to authorize their devices of dissimulation. Being a profoundly religious people, however, who tried to model their lives on the gospel, it is inconceivable that they did not possess a doctrinal rationale for their methods of deceiving their persecutors. It seems highly likely as well that they received prior instruction in these methods from their clergy or elders in case they should be examined on their beliefs.(18)

The proto-Protestant English Lollards, the followers of the late fourteenth-century Oxford theologian, philosopher, and preacher John Wyclif, were another group of heretics who resorted to dissimulation in self-protection. Wyclif’s teaching contained a frontal attack on the property and lordly power of the papacy and prelates and based religious truth only on the scriptures. He was responsible for one of the earliest English translations of the Bible, which he desired should be freely available to everyone. The Lollards had no faith in the Catholic priesthood or sacraments. They held secret religious meetings, cherished the prohibited vernacular version of the Bible, and read and circulated the seditious tracts of Wyclif and Lollard propagandists.(19) Hunted by the ecclesiastical authorities during the fifteenth and first decades of the sixteenth century, they were constrained to mask and dissemble their heretical beliefs.

Many of them attended church arid observed the externals of Catholic worship, doing so not only from fear of detection, but in the belief that their inner separation made their outer conformity acceptable in God’s eyes. One of them stated that when receiving communion he considered that he merely received bread. Another reported that he feigned honor of the eucharist, while directing his thought and intention to God in heaven, who was not present in the sacrament. Other Lollards who went to church refrained from fasting before Easter communion, or avoided saying prayers during the service, or turned their eyes to heaven where Christ was instead of looking at the elevation of the host, in these ways indicating their internal dissent from the ceremonies in which they look part. It was also common for suspected Lollards to abjure their heresy. For one who was willing to incur martyrdom, many more renounced and recanted their opinions. This abjuration was probably insincere and the result of a deliberate policy. Although exhorted by their teachers not to deny Christ’s law, they were taught devices of dissimulation when facing investigation, which could be learned in their schools and conventicles and from texts explaining how to respond to questioning. John Purvey, a Lollard preacher, drew up precise instructions for answers to episcopal interrogation on the eucharist which relied on equivocation and subterfuge of language. One Lollard text stated that if a person were asked whether he believed in the church, he could answer yes, understanding by this that he believed in the existence of man, who is called the temple of God. Because Lollards did not recognize the spiritual authority of those who questioned them, they may have been willing to agree with any proposition offered by their persecutors, since it could have no claim upon their conscience. Moreover, as they held oaths to be unchristian, they may have been ready to swear to anything, because such oaths did not bind them. The same reason may also explain the readiness of suspected Lollards to swear to abjure their heresy. (Hudson, 1988, pp. 158, 159-60, 221-23, 371-74).

In Spanish crypto-Judaism we discover another case of a persecuted religious community whose survival depended on dissimulation justified by doctrine. Until the fourteenth century, the Jews of Spain lived in comparative harmony with the Christian inhabitants, enjoying the favor of rulers and rising to important positions in government, finance, the professions, and commerce. Thereafter the situation altered with the growth of popular jealousy and resentment of Jewish wealth and influence. In 1391, the outbreak of pogroms in many Spanish cities led to the death of thousands of Jews and a mass of conversions. The process of conversion continued during the fifteenth century, aided by recurrent anti-Semitic violence, legal pressures, and religious preaching and propaganda against Judaism. In 1492, as the culmination of a century of anti-Jewish measures, the sovereigns of Castile and Aragon, Isabella and Ferdinand, ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. All were required to depart by a certain date on pain of death unless they accepted baptism. While we do not know the number of Jews at the time nor how many left Spain or remained as converts, there can be no doubt that the last consisted of thousands of people, as many as 50,000 according to one estimate.(20)

Jews who became converts, as well as their descendants in the following generations, were known as conversos and “new Christians,” in contrast to old Christians, who had no Jewish ancestry. Although no distinction ought to have been made between them and other Catholics, they were suspected of remaining Jews at heart who continued to practice their religion in secret. Efforts were made to separate them from their former brethren who were still Jews, and a main reason for the expulsion of 1492 was that conversos should cease to be contaminated by Jewish proximity. The name “Marrano,” signifying “pig” and “unclean,” was applied to them because of the suspicion of their secret Judaism. As baptized Christians, conversos played a significant part in all aspects of early modern Spain, intermarrying with elite families and occupying important positions in state and church, yet were regarded with dislike and mistrust as Judaizers. In 1478 the Spanish Inquisition was established in order to deal with the problem. The primary aim of its foundation was the eradication of the crypto-Judaism believed to exist among the conversos.

It will never be possible to determine how widely Marranism or secret Judaism persisted among conversos. In the aftermath of the mass conversions which occurred in the fifteenth century and the expulsion of 1492, perhaps only a few converts sincerely embraced Christianity. As time passed, though, and as contact with normative Judaism was gradually lost, many conversos and their descendants would have been assimilated into the Catholic faith. Christians who lapsed into Jewish practices were treated as heretics under canon law. The main evidence for crypto-Judaism comes from the trial records of the inquisition, which in its earliest period was more occupied with Jewish heresy than with any other type of crime. Yitzhak Baer, one of the foremost historians of Spanish Jewry, was typical of many Jewish scholars who have wished to believe that all or most conversos and Jews remained a single people united by “religion, destiny, and messianic hope” (Beer, 1961, vol. II, p. 424).(21) A few scholars, such as Benzion Netanyahu, maintain that conversos ceased to be Jews, and that the accusation of crypto-Judaism was simply an invention of the inquisition and Jewish enemies due to anti-Semitism and as an excuse to confiscate converso wealth (Netanvahu, 1966).(22) This view is untenable because it would necessitate believing without any reason or proof that the thousands of examinations and trials conducted by the inquisition, all carefully recorded and preserved for the use of its officials, were mostly based on false testimony and confessions and contained deliberate transcriptions of lies describing non-existent practices and facts.(23)

In light of such disagreements, the utmost that can be said is that there is much evidence to show that some conversos continued to maintain their Jewish identity in secret while posing as Christians to the world.(24) I have elsewhere described many examples of crypto-Judaism among conversos taken from the latters’ trial records in the Castilian city of Ciudad Real and from other documents (Zagorin, 1990, ch. 3). In this particular city, for instance, after the Jewish community had ceased to exist by the early fifteenth century, what took its place was a community of conversos who continued a clandestine Jewish life. Over a period of decades, at the same time that they went to church, baptized their children, displayed holy images in their homes, and heard mass, they met secretly for communal Jewish worship, strove to observe the dietary laws, the sabbath, and other sacred ordinances, kept a Jewish cemetery, and owned hidden Hebrew religious books. In the two years between 1483 and 1485, while the inquisitional tribunal was active in Ciudad Real, it tried and burned 52 conversos for Jewish heresy, condemned another 220 who had fled, and reconciled 182 as penitents. Such dissimulation, based-on the necessity of leading a double life, undoubtedly repeated itself continually across the generations, wherever in Spain groups and families of conversos survived who beneath their guise as Catholics strove to adhere to the Mosaic laws.(25)

Their habitual dissimulation is epitomized in the personal history of Baltazar Orobio de Castro, a seventeenth-century converso physician and philosopher of Portuguese origin who, after education and residence in Spain with his family for many years, arrived in Amsterdam in 1662 at the age of forty-five. There, taking Isaac as his first name, he resumed an open Jewish identity, became a literary apologist for Judaism, and was one of Spinoza’s early critics. Orobio experienced the dual existence of the crypto-Jew in all its contrasts from an early age, as his family maintained the public appearance of Christians in every respect while remaining Jews in secret. When arrested by the Seville Inquisition in 1654, he and others in his family repeatedly denied their Judaism but eventually confessed after imprisonment and a short spell of torture. According to the evidence against them, they ridiculed the Catholic faith for its false, incredible doctrines and secretly followed various Jewish practices, such as celebration of the sabbath, fasting on Yom Kippur, and other observances. Orobio, his mother, and three sisters were sentenced to perpetual confinement and then reconciled after’ public confession of their sins at an auto-da-fe’ in Seville. As the Seville inquisition did not enforce its penalties stringently, however, they were freed after a short confinement and pleas for mercy. Sometime later they left Spain to settle in due course in the tolerant city of Amsterdam.(26)

The dissimulation of Marranos and their refusal of martyrdom did not lack a doctrinal justification. One of the principles to which they appealed was that God had given the Jews the law in order to live and not die. Its source was the words in Deuteronomy 5:33, “Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that you may live,” and the identical promise in Leviticus 18.5. This was an answer conversos apparently made to the inquisition. According to a Spanish writer who described their behavior under prosecution, when asked why they would not die for the Jewish law if they believed it brings them salvation, they replied that the law was not given to them to die for it but so that they should live (quoted in Caro Baroja, 1978, vol. I, pp. 450-51). This doctrine had the support of the great Jewish philosopher of the twelfth century, Maimonides, who discussed it in his Epistle on Martyrdom, which was written with reference to Islamic persecution of Jews in Morocco. Maimonides gave his highest praise to the faithful who accepted martyrdom to sanctify God’s name. His main stress, though, was on the mercy God shows to those forced to sin from fear and duress. He cited with approval the case of sages who dissimulated under persecution, recalling also the example of the Jews in Babylon under the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar, who were compelled to bow to idols but did not separate themselves from Israel because they only pretended. Maimonides cited the Talmud and other authorities to show that force removed culpability, and he took his stand on the principle that the law was made so that man should live and not die. His advice on the issue of forced conversion, therefore, was to comply rather than choose death. To this he added, however, that Jews should flee the land of persecution and go where they could observe the law freely, for the law was their most precious possession. If flight were impossible, however, then he held that someone who complied with his persecutors should strive privately to observe as much of the law as he could (Maimonides, 1985).

Marranos also had other scriptural precedents to excuse their double life. Some of them looked to the epistle of Jeremiah in the book of Baruch, which enabled them to appeal to the distinction between outward appearance and inward intention. In this text, to which Maimonides had also alluded, the prophet exhorted his oppressed people in Babylonian exile that when they bow down to idols, they should say in their hearts, “thou only are to be adored, O Lord” (Baruch 6:5). Crypto-Jews could apply this passage as permission to worship alien gods if forced to do so, provided they remained faithful in their hearts to the God of Israel (Roth, 1974, p. 170).(27) They also drew on the example of the biblical heroine Esther, who preserved the Jews from destruction at the hands of the king of Persia’s vizier Haman. Like the Marranos, Esther concealed her Jewish identity; at the instruction of her brother, she “had not shewed her people nor her kindred” (Esther 2 :10). Marranos were reported to be devout observants of the fast of Esther, which preceded the festival of Purim. In her dissimulation of her true faith to save her people, Esther could be seen by Spanish crypto-Jews as the archetypal Marrano (Roth, 1974, p. 168).(28)

With the advent of the Protestant Reformation, the practice of religious dissimulation acquired a heightened importance and attracted much greater attention than ever before. The spread of Protestant heresy in Europe amid confenssional intolerance, persecution, and denominational hatreds led to the pretense of conformity to the Catholic church by a variety of religious groups subject to Catholic rule who had withdrawn themselves inwardly from Catholic faith and ritual but were too cautious or fearful to do so openly. These crypto-Protestants and other dissemblers, some of whom were individualistic religious sectarians and spiritualists outside the bounds of mainstream Protestantism, justified their participation in Catholic rites with a number of arguments. A similar situation prevailed among Catholics who happened to live under Protestant governments, as was the case in England from Queen Elizabeth’s time onward. Liable to increasingly severe penalties and persecution for loyalty to their religion, marty English Catholics found a rationale for concealing their beliefs by their conformity to Protestant worship. Protestant reformers and ministers generally condemned any species of outward adherence to Catholicism as a sinful lie and betrayal, insisting that the true Christian must separate totally from Catholic idolatry and give a sincere, undisguised testimony of his faith. Catholic theologians likewise as a rule condemned the pretexts English Catholics used to defend their accommodation to a false and heretical religion. The discussions provoked by these problems made the licitness of religious dissimulation a much greater concern and more widely debated issue than it had been in earlier centuries.

It was not only in the field of religion, though, that the phenomenon of dissimulation became a focus of increased attention and dispute. For when we peer deeply into the intellectual, cultural, and moral life of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, we are struck by how intensely aware of dissimulation some of its writers and thinkers were. They showed a far stronger interest in it than did preceding generations and seemed at times to perceive its presence around them as an overwhelming reality.

In the realm of politics and statecraft, Machiavelli, the most original and influential political theorist of the sixteenth century, placed dissimulation at the center of his conception of the craft of politics and the government of states. Claiming to show the real truth of things, he tore away the veil of idealism from politics by stating plainly that successful rule depended on knowing how and when not to be good. Accordingly, a prince who wanted to preserve his power must be not only as strong as a lion, but as cunning as a fox and must feel free to break his promises when it suits his interests. Because most men are bad and will not keep faith, the prince is not obliged to keep faith with them. But he should also know how to be a “great feigner and dissembler” in order to disguise his faithlessness, since most people are so easily deceived (Machiavelli, 1513, chs. XV, XVIII).

Machiavelli’s frank recognition that a ruler must be adept at dissimulation was reinforced by the influence of Tacitus, the greatest of Roman historians, whose work began to be widely read in the later sixteenth century. In his Annals of imperial Rome Tacitus exposed the political methods of Augustus and his immediate successors, of which dissimulation was a key feature. The account he gave of the reign of Tiberius, Augustus’s heir, focused on dissimulation as his supreme characteristic (Tacitus, Annals, bks I, 4; IV, II, VI, 50).(29) Tacitus’s history made a strong impression on readers for its penetrating understanding of the nature of autocratic government. Machiavelli’s noted contemporary, the Florentine historian and politician Francesco Guicciardini, praised Tacitus for revealing the thoughts of tyrants and teaching men who lived under a tyranny how to adapt themselves. He held that dissimulation was a necessity in politics, and noted the desirability of gaining a reputation for candor so that one would be more readily believed when resorting to dissimulation (Guicciardini, 1949, 1st ser., 45-6, 78-9).

Some of Machiavelli’s prescriptions and Tacitus’s observations formed the main sources of the doctrine of reason-of-state, which held that states and rulers, being charged with supreme responsibility for their subjects’ peace and security, were not obliged to observe the principles of morality if prudence and policy dictated otherwise. In this doctrine, which had many disciples in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, dissimulation took its place as an accepted method. The adage, “Qui nescit dissimulare nescit regnare”–“He who doesn’t know how to dissimulate doesn’t know how to rule”–usually ascribed to King Louis XI of France, was much quoted in this period. Among the well known proponents of reason-of-state was the Dutch scholar Lipsius, a great student of Tacitus, whose edition of the Roman historian in 1574 and subsequent commentary on his work in 1581 contributed to the currency of Tacitism as a doctrine concerned with political techniques. Lipsius himself resorted to dissimulation in conforming at different times to both Protestantism and Catholicism. In the political treatise he published in 1589 in favor of reason-of-state, he argued that dissimulation was necessary to rulers and approved its use for public ends.(30) Many other political commentators in Italy, Spain, and France drew on both Machiavelli and Tacitus to discuss the legitimacy of dissimulation when the interest of the prince and state required it.(31)

The theme of dissimulation also figured noticeably in contemporary writings on royal courts and the character of the courtiers who served in them. Despite the existence of works which praised the virtues of the ideal courtier, the courtier’s image was frequently associated with such traits as mendacity, lack of integrity, and dissimulation. In the most famous of early modern treatises on courtiership, Castiglione’s refined and charming The Book of The Courtier (1528), the qualities and accomplishments ascribed to the good courtier did not exclude a faculty for dissimulation among its components, even though Castiglione did not call it by that name. In the view of some contemporaries, the flexibility, posing, and role playing Castiglione recommended for success at court was scarcely distinguishable from falsehood and duplicity. A sizable literature depicted the courts of princes as steeped in corruption and falsehood and the typical courtier as a man devoid of truth who relied on flattery, sycophancy, and dissimulation to gain the favor of rulers and the great. Sir Thomas Wyatt, a brilliant poet and a courtier himself, expressed a common sentiment in his satire on the court of Henry VIII when he portrayed it as a place where vice is cloaked as virtue and craft and deceit prevail. The saying, “Qui nescit dissimulare nescit vivere”–“He who does not know how to dissimulate does not know how to live”–was a maxim political observers often applied to courtiers in token of their self-seeking and falsity.(32)

One of those convinced of the prevalence of dissimulation in his time was Montaigne. Speaking in his essays of “this new found virtue of faining and dissimulation which is now so much in credit,” he called it “one of the notables” qualities of this age.” He spurned its use, however, commenting that it showed a cowardly and servile humor “for a man to disguise and hide himself under a maske, and not dare to shew himselfe as he is.” Quoting the well known maxim, “He who cannot dissemble cannot reign,” he declared that those who embrace it only “warn [others] who have to do with them, that what they say is but untruth and dissimulation” (Montaigne, “Of Presumption,” vol. II, pp. 373, 374; “Of Giving the Lie,” vol. II, p. 393). One of Montaigne’s foremost disciples, the skeptical philosopher Pierre Charron, was willing to approve of dissimulation as part of the rules of wisdom in matters of state. Although “vicious in private men,” he considered it “most necessary to princes”, who ought to follow not what is pretty to say but what needs to be done (Charron, [1601] 1820, vol. III, pp. 303-13).

Among the poets and dramatists of the period, many were fascinated by the role of dissimulation in human relationships. No artist showed a greater consciousness of the power, horror, and pervasive consequences of dissimulation and lying than did Shakespeare. The false presentation of self is a recurrent theme in a number of his tragedies, and his greatest villains, such as Richard III, Iago, Claudius, and Edmund, are consummate liars and dissemblers. Lear’s wolfish daughters, Goneril and Regan, too, are tainted by dissimulation. Iago declares that “I am not what I am,” and Macbeth’s murderous ambition drives him to order his actions so that “false face must hide what the false heart cloth know.” In Hamlet, above all, the court of Denmark is rotten with dissimulation, and Hamlet’s revulsion at his mother’s marriage to his uncle Claudius is intensified by his consciousness of the boundless falsity surrounding him.

Shakespeare’s contemporary, Francis Bacon, a perceptive student of the work of Machiavelli, was yet another thinker who discussed dissimulation. In an essay, “Of Simulation and Dissimulation,” that cited Tacitus, he analyzed the nature of the phenomenon in an objective spirit evincing little moral disapproval. Reflecting on the several degrees of “this hiding and veiling a man’s self,” he noted the first as “Closeness, Reservation, and Secrecy”; the second, dissimulation, was “when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not that he is”; and the third, simulation, “was when a man industriously and expressly feigns and pretends to be that he is not.” Among the advantages of simulation and dissimulation were “to lay asleep opposition,” “to surprise,” and “to reserve to a man’s self a fair retreat.” Although Bacon did not wholeheartedly recommend either, he concluded that it was best “to have openness in fame and opinion; secrecy in habit; dissimulation in seasonable use; and a power to feign, if there be no remedy” (Bacon, [1612] 1863, vol. II).

Of the leaders of Protestantism, no thinker gave the phenomenon of dissimulation in the religious context closer scrutiny than did the Genevan reformer John Calvin. Calvin attacked it in a number of writings that contain the most searching and influential treatment of the subject during the Reformation era. The main target of his observations was the crypto-Protestants in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and elsewhere who denied the truth by their false participation in Catholic services. Those who did so usually relied heavily on the distinction between outward conformity and what is in the mind and heart, a position he vehemently rejected. After criticizing the “crafty dissimulation” of such people in a couple of Latin letters in 1537,(33) he examined their conduct at greater length in two further works written in French. The first, published in 1543, was A Little Treatise Showing What A Faithful Man Instructed in The Truth of The Gospel Ought To Do When Living Among Papists (1863-96a, vol. 5).(34) In looking at this and its companion work, one must be mindful, of course, of Calvin’s bitter hatred and opposition to Catholicism as a corrupt and idolatrous worship from whose spiritual tyranny Christians were only now, after many centuries of bondage, beginning to free themselves. He spoke both in his capacity as an evangelist and pastor and as the leader and organizer of a religious revolution who would tolerate no compromise with a false popish creed.

The Little Treatise attributed the conformity of Protestants to Catholic worship to nothing other than self-love and the desire of an easy life. Those who hide their Christianity and never dare to avow it publicly, Calvin said, had never learned the first lesson of the school of Christ, which was to forsake themselves. Condemning their “carnal presence” and “perverse subtilitie,” he stated that Christ demanded to be worshiped openly, and that those ashamed of Christ before men would find Christ ashamed of them at the last day. He gave a revealing picture of the methods of the feigners and dissemblers “to keepe themselves in the favour of the world.” On Sundays and holy days they went to mass. They polluted themselves by Catholic marriage rites and allowed their children to be defiled by profane ceremonies in baptism. They failed to instruct their household servants in God’s word because of fear of speaking openly. Although they claimed to profess the gospel, they went to Easter confession. All this, Calvin said, he presented as a mirror in which the faithful could behold their faults and the “cursed estate” in which they lived.

He then proceeded to consider the arguments for deciding whether “a man may feine and counterfaict . . . against the truth” by participation in Catholic ceremonies. Refuting the distinction between inner intention and outer conformity, he insisted that God must be worshiped purely in body as well as in spirit, since both were God’s and the body must not be polluted by worshiping idols. The sole cause of such feigning, he held, was “to avoyde daunger,” yet it would be better for the body to be cast into a fiery furnace than be guilty of dissimulation.

He next reviewed some of the biblical precedents pleaded by the defenders of dissimulation. The first was the case of Naaman the Syrian, which he noted was commonly alleged to prove that dissimulation was permissible in similar circumstances. He rejected this example on the ground that Naaman, as a former pagan and uncircumcised, possessed only a small spark of the truth, while the modern Christian, who has full knowledge, is obliged to glorify God. Moreover, Naaman did in fact forsake idolatry, since he accompanied his king into the idol’s temple only as a service and courtesy. A second precedent was the prophet Jeremiah’s letter in the book of Baruch (which we have seen also used by the Marranos), where the captive Israelites are told to glorify God when they see the Babylonians worshiping idols. To this example Calvin replied that he did not demand that the faithful openly insult or tear down the ornaments of Catholic idolatry but merely abstain from participating in it. A third example was the conduct of the apostle Paul, who, according to the dissemblers, sinned no more in conforming to Jewish ceremonies than they did in attending mass. Calvin denied this parallel and pointed out that Paul was a Jew with the Jews to win them to the gospel, not a dissimulator trying to keep in favor with the world.

On these and other arguments used by the crypto-Protestants Calvin passed the severe judgment that they were no more than a mocking of God and the self-serving counsels of “my Lady worldely wysdom.” If there were no fear of losing life or goods or authority, he asked, would there be among “a hundred yea . . . amonge a thousande” one person “which wold dissemble so as all men do nowe?” He recalled the many thousands of martyrs, “men and Women, Ryche and Poore, great and small,” who had died for the truth. They need not have done so if they “had . . . thought it lawful to escape by symulation or dissemblynge, when men wold constrain them . . . unto idolatry.” But they knew, he said, that it was mocking God to pretend that one honored him in the heart when one betrayed the truth before men.

Coming to the end, he explained that he did not condemn or reprove the faithful dispersed in France, Flanders, England, and other realms because they were forced to use superstitious ceremonies. Rather, he pitied and mourned for them, even though he had to speak as conscience dictated and condemn their vices. As his final word, he exhorted the faithful to flee persecution as the best course, abandoning the Egypt or Babylon where they dwelt for a land where they could openly profess the truth in an assembly of Christians. If this was impossible, then let them shun idolatry and worship God privately despite the danger of death, because God’s glory was more precious than this “vayne and transitory lyfe, which . . . is nothing but a shadow.” And they should at least cease to justify their dissimulation, and instead bewail and accuse their weakness, confess their sin to God, and pray for deliverance from Catholic bondage into a right form of church (The Mynde . . ., 1548, sigs. B-Biiii, E-Eiii, Fi-Fiiii, Iiii, Iiiii, K-Kii).

The Little Treatise evinced not only Calvin’s unyielding hostility to religious dissimulation, but his keen understanding of its concepts and rationales. He continued his attack in a second work in 1544, The Excuse of John Calvin Against The Complaints of Messieurs The Nicodemites of His Too Great Severity (1863-96b). By “Nicodemites” he meant those dissemblers who justified themselves with the example of the Pharisee Nicodemus in the gospel of John, a believer in Christ who hid his faith because of fear and visited Jesus secretly by night (John 3:1-2). In accord with Calvin’s usage in this tract, historians of the Reformation have adopted the name “Nicodemism” as a general term, for a religiously motivated theory and practice of dissimulation in the sixteenth century, despite the fact that Nicodemites were not the only target of Calvin’s criticism and that the case of Nicodemus was much less frequently cited by defenders of dissimulation than other biblical precedents.(35)

In form the Excuse was Calvin’s answer to those who blamed his severity toward their pretended conformity to Catholicism. He made clear that he did not address the persons who, while remaining through weakness in the Babylonian captivity of Catholic superstition, confessed their wrongdoing and implored God’s mercy, but those others who sought to justify themselves by every possible subterfuge and borrowed the name of Nicodemus as a protection. He denounced the latters’ dissociation of interior affection and outer conformity as a mere pretext for compliance with idolatry. Countering their complaint that he was too severe, he replied that it was no light vice to dissimulate by pretending consent to abominations against the gospel. Christ had warned that those who held their souls precious in this world would lose them; did dissemblers imagine they could constrain Christ to retract his sentence? He swept aside as blasphemy the claim based on “human prudence” that the best means to further the gospel was to participate in popish ceremonies and advance little by little. If the apostles had believed this “fantasy,” he commented, it would have spelled the end of Christianity. In Calvin’s view, all the arguments in favor of dissimulation were sheer hypocrisy, and as his crowning blow he denied that Nicodemites had any right to this name. For as he explained, although Nicodemus had first come to visit Jesus secretly by night, he later saw the light and openly declared himself. After the crucifixion, he went with Joseph of Arimathea to ask for Christ’s body, fearing neither contempt, hatred, nor persecution (John 19:38-40). This was what it meant to “Nicodemize,” according to Calvin, if one were really to follow the example of Nicodemus. But those who tried to defend the licitness of dissimulation with the name of Nicodemus showed a hundred times less constancy after Christ’s resurrection than Nicodemus did at the time of Christ’s death (1863-96b, pp. 203-7, 229-33, 240-44).

Calvin also discussed dissimulation in several other tracts whose strictures were aimed at spiritualists and libertines. These were sectarians and individualists who adhered to an anti-dogmatic type of Christianity with mystical overtones, and who in the name of spiritual liberty viewed the external forms of religion with indifference as of no value to the believer’s personal relationship with Christ. To dissemble their convictions, which were no less offensive to orthodox Protestants than to Catholics, they did not scruple to practice a feigned conformity to the dominant church wherever they resided. Calvin called them libertines who “under cover of liberty” pretended to accept the popish abominations they derided in their heart. He denounced their “duplicity of heart and language” and refuted the biblical precedents they invoked for their dissimulation, such as Christ speaking in parables and bidding his disciples to be as “wise as serpents” (Matt. 10:16) (Calvin, 1863-96c).(36)

Calvin’s writings against dissimulation, which were widely distributed, provide considerable insight into the doctrines and practices of the different sorts of crypto-Protestants who disguised their convictions behind a mask of conformity to the Catholic church. He was only the foremost of a number of Protestant leaders and writers in various countries who dealt with the issue of dissimulation, reproving the conduct of the dissemblers, exhorting them to choose exile rather than continue in their sinful duplicity, and replying to the same biblical precedents, arguments, and justifications. The numerous works published on the subject as well as other kinds of evidence leave no doubt that dissimulation was a common practice in the sixteenth century wherever religious dissent and unorthodox beliefs were threatened with persecution.(37)

Paralleling the dissimulation of crypto-Protestants in Catholic countries was that of the Catholics in England who conformed to the Protestant state church. After Queen Elizabeth’s accession in 1558, Catholicism was proscribed, and Protestantism became the official religion of the state. A prayer book and form of public worship were established by law for the entire realm, and all subjects were required to attend the services of the national church on pain of a fine. The penalties for non-attendance became more severe in the later sixteenth century, and other burdens, such as oaths, were also imposed on the conscience of Catholics. The English state’s conflict with the papacy, the counter-Reformation, and eventually with Spain as the dominant Catholic power in Europe caused Catholics to be suspected as traitors or potential traitors. Fear of Catholicism intensified after Pope Pius V in 1570 excommunicated Queen Elizabeth and pronounced her deposed. The government took steps to counter the Catholic danger, including laws expelling all Catholic priests and making it treason for Jesuits and priests ordained abroad to enter the kingdom. The consequence of all these measures was that English Catholics suffered under the same regime of compulsory conformity that oppressed the Protestant subjects of Catholic rulers on the continent. The great majority of Catholics were neither rebels nor traitors; they desired if possible to follow their religious conscience while rendering political obedience to the queen. The law, however, placed them in the position of being disobedient subjects if they failed to go to church, or harbored priests, or worshiped according to their faith in private.

During the earlier years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, nearly all English Catholics, according to the report of their own religious superiors, feigned conformity by attending the services of the national church. Those who did so were commonly known as church papists. Later on, as Catholic authorities stigmatized the duplicity of their conduct as sin and schism, the practice apparently diminished, although it was still continued by many. I have elsewhere described the subterfuges church papists used to disguise their convictions and the debate over dissimulation that ensued (Zagorin, 1990, ch. 7).(38) The Catholics who defended church attendance appealed to the distinction between external appearance and inner belief, citing some of the same precedents that Protestant dissemblers did. Of the authors who condemned their conformity, the most important were Robert Parsons and Henry Garnet, two Jesuits who came to England from seminaries abroad at the risk of their lives.

Parsons produced a host of reasons to dissuade Catholics from attending Protestant services, among them that their presence entailed dissimulation and was thus treason to God and religion. He spurned the plea of those who said, “I am there in body, but I consent not . . . in harte,” as sinful lying. Pretended assent, he warned, would be viewed by Protestants as true assent; “dissemblinge of our faith would be taken for denying our faith” and all “seeminge” as “doinge.” The sole exception he admitted in his ban against conformity was based on the case of Naaman the Syrian, who in going to the idol’s temple was not guilty of sin because he served his king. This exception would have provided a justification for English Catholic noblemen, who might be in a position when attending on the queen at court of being obliged to accompany her to church (Parsons, 1580, fols. 21-22, 22-23v, 35, 37-37v, 63-64).(39) Garnet, in condemning the false conformity of Catholics, went over a number of scriptural passages which its proponents cited, including Jehu’s feigned worship of the idol Baal and the apostle Peter’s dissimulation which St. Jerome had defended against Pauls’ rebuke. He pronounced Jehu guilty of “wicked dissimulation” and agreed with Augustine and other writers who had censured Peter’s action. To his prohibitions, however, he added the significant proviso that there were, nevertheless, “lawful dissimulations.” Like Parsons, he also considered the case of Naaman, holding that the latter did only temporal service to his king, not religious reverence to idols. Accordingly, he allowed that a Catholic might accompany his prince to the church of a contrary religion as a lawful temporal duty. But this example, he cautioned, was only for courtiers and must not be used to infer that any going to church with heretics was lawful (Garnet, 1593, pp. 26-9, 30-2).(40)

Aside from the question of conformity to the state church, another considerable controversy concerning dissimulation and lying arose among English Catholics and also spread to Catholics on the continent. This centered on the doctrine of mental reservation. The latter was usually placed in company with equivocation, both being devices of language designed to conceal and misrepresent the truth to an auditor without incurring the sin of lying. Equivocation involved the use of words or expressions with a double meaning which was different for the speaker than for the hearer; mental reservation signified the utterance of a false statement which was completed by an unexpressed further statement in the mind that made it true. While the doctrine of mental reservation or mentalis restrictio went back to the fourteenth century or earlier, it was given its fullest development and put on a new basis by one of the most eminent Catholic authorities of the sixteenth century, the Spaniard Dr. Martin de Azpilcueta, also called Dr. Navarrus because of his attachment to his homeland Navarre. Navarrus, a prolific religious writer, was a moral theologian and canonist at the papal court in Rome when in 1584 he published A Commentary on . . . Humanae Aures . . . on The Truth of an Answer Expressed Partly in Speech and Partly in The Mind, and Concerning The Good and Bad Art of Dissimulation. The work took as its text Gregory the Great’s statement “Humanae aures” as incorporated in the canon law, which declared that while the ears of men judge our words as they sound outwardly, God’s judgment hears them as they are uttered from within. On this passage Navarrus established a rationale for the licitness of mental reservation.

I will give only the briefest summary of his lengthy reasoning. His argument was predicated on the difference between several kinds of speech, which could be either purely mental, purely vocal, or mixed. Mixed speech, accordingly, should be judged true or false by considering all of its parts, both expressed and tacit. Navarrus gave a number of examples of how the vocal part of a statement might be false and heretical, but became true and orthodox when the mental part was added, Among the precedents he cited for this view was Christ’s answer to his disciples that he did not know the day of the last judgment (Matt. 24-36). The Lord’s statement would have been false, according to Navarrus, if separated from his mental understanding that he did not know it “so that it is appropriate to reveal it to them.” Navarrus termed this kind of speech “amphibology” (amphibologia), his essential point being that in amphibology or mixed speech the reserved mental part could confer truth upon a statement although the vocal part by itself was false. He defended the employment of mental reservation in various contexts, maintaining also that by keeping a reserved meaning in the mind, one could avoid perjury before God when speaking under oath. He went on to affirm that it was permissible to use amphibology for the sake of safety of soul, body, honor, or any virtuous act, and in this connection recalled Jerome’s approval of dissimulation as useful, several opinions of Aquinas, and various biblical examples. One of the conclusions he drew in his commentary was that he had shown a way to excuse the most truthful patriarchs of the Old Testament from the charge of lying. Thus, when Abraham said that Sarah was his wife, he did not lie, since he added the mental reservation for just cause that she was not his wife “so that he is bound to say so publicly.” Another of his conclusions was that there existed a double art of dissimulation, one good, the other bad. The bad kind lacked just cause and did not care whether it lied in words or actions. The good kind was practiced solely for just cause and was devoid of evil deceit or vulpine cunning. Only those, he held, who used the bad art of dissimulation should be condemned as guilty of sin, while those who practiced the good art deserved praise. He also made the general claim that by means of his doctrine, people could avoid innumerable sins of lying negligently committed by adding a mental reservation to their statements. Hence, if one were asked whether one had money to lend, or a certain book, or news, one could answer, “I do not have it” or “I do not know,” escaping sin by mentally understanding “so that I am obliged to lend or give or tell it.” In all cases, however, he stipulated that mental reservation was licit only for just cause, and he specifically rejected any inference that a Catholic could employ it to dissimulate his faith (Navarrus, 1584).(41)

Navarrus’s commentary did not include a formal analysis of the lie, but it clearly assumed as its primary definition that the lie was an enunciation contrary to the speaker’s mind rather than a false statement made with the intention to deceive. By regarding the lie in this manner, the questioner or interlocutor seemed either to disappear or to become irrelevant. All that counted in Navarrus’s defense of mental reservation was the conformity of speech, including the portion not expressed, with the meaning in the speaker’s mind. The communicative relationship was thus implicitly redefined as something that existed not between two speakers or a speaker and an auditor or questioner, but between the speaker and himself and the speaker and God, who of course knew the reserved mental part and therefore understood the full meaning and truth of the utterance.

While Navarrus was by no means the first to rely on the method of reserving a meaning in the mind to avoid the sin of lying, he not only expounded and justified it more fully than his predecessors, but was apparently the first to connect it with the concept of mixed speech. It was usual, however, for moral theologians and canonists dealing with questions of lying and perjury to consider both the different senses of words and according to whose intention, the questioner’s or the respondent’s, an oath or statement should be understood. In the case of equivocation, the fact that a word could have several publicly accepted but different meanings made it possible for the speaker to intend it in one sense while allowing a questioner to suppose it was intended in another. An early example in the literature of casuistry of this trick of speech to avoid a breach of truth or conscience was that used by Raymond of Penaforte, a noted thirteenth-century theologian. Raymond held that a man who was asked the whereabouts of an innocent fugitive who had taken shelter in his house from a murderer could reply, “Non est hic,” an expression that could mean either “He is not here” or “He does not eat here.” Another well known instance of equivocation, often cited by casuists, was attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. According to this story, Francis saw a man fleeing from a murderer, who then came upon the saint and demanded to know if his quarry had passed that way. Francis answered, “He did not pass this way,” pointing toward the sleeve of his cassock, thus deceiving the murderer and saving a life.(42) The emphasis in cases of this sort fell on the use of ambiguous expressions and a concealed sense in circumstances where was either no moral obligation to reveal the truth or a moral obligation to conceal it.

The most striking feature of Navarrus’s treatment of mental reservation was the wide latitude he permitted in its use. He considered it licit not only in replies to unlawful questioning by judges, ecclesiastical superiors, and others, but as appropriate in many situations of common life. Obviously, despite his proviso that the good art of dissimulation required just cause, the practice of mental reservation could easily lend itself to abuse. After the publication of his commentary, numerous other Catholic moral theologians and canonists took up the subject of mental reservation’ adding variations of their own to the doctrine and also attempting to hedge it with safeguards against misuse. While some Catholic authorities opposed it, it nevertheless acquired wide currency in the seventeenth century and also occasioned much dispute. Although it had not been developed by Jesuits, it quickly became especially identified with the Society of Jesus as a practice which Jesuit theologians and confessors approved.(43)

Among the first to register the effect of Navarrus’s teaching were English Jesuits and missionary priests. In the Catholic church’s combat with Protestantism, and in its efforts following the Council of Trent to reclaim Catholic souls from heresy, the papacy and English Catholic authorities trained Englishmen as priests in seminaries on the continent in preparation for mission work in England. The English government, which was worried about Catholic plots against Queen Elizabeth’s life, did its best to catch these priests, who were forced to disguise and conceal themselves, officiate in secret, and carry on their work at all times while in danger of death as traitors. Catholic authorities denied that Protestant government officials and magistrates ever had a legitimate right to question priests. The training of the latter included some instruction in casuistry, which went over cases and circumstances in which evasion, equivocation, and other kinds of deception were permissible in the event of hostile and ensnaring questioning (Zagorin, 1990, pp. 186-89).

Robert Southwell, a Jesuit known in English literature as a fine poet and writer, was the first English priest to use mental reservation in attempting to escape detection. Returning to England in 1586, he was captured six years later, betrayed by the daughter of the Catholic family in whose house he had often secretly lodged and celebrated mass. After spending three years in prison, during which time he was tortured for information but remained silent, he was executed in 1595. At his trial, the woman who betrayed him testified that Southwell had instructed her that she might lawfully deny under oath knowing where a priest lay hidden, even though she knew. Hence, if ordered to say whether she had seen Southwell in her father’s house, she could swear in the negative with the mental reservation, “Not with the intention to tell you.” The prosecution taxed Southwell with this “wicked doctrine,” but he defended it strongly as agreeable to the word of God and supported by the church fathers, civil and canon law, and the policy of Christian nations to prevent great evils. In response to Southwell’s argument, the chief judge at his trial commented that if the doctrine of mental reservation were to be accepted, it would undermine all justice, “for we are men, and no Gods, and can judge but accordinge to [men’s] outward actiones and speeches, and not accordinge to their secrete and inward intentions” (Janelle, 1935, pp. 67, 81-2, 291).

Other Jesuits also used and defended mental reservation, which aroused widespread controversy and was denounced by Protestant writers as plain lying (Zagorin, 1990, pp. 196-208, 212-20). In 1598 the Jesuit Henry Garnet produced a treatise on equivocation defending Southwell’s position and upholding the legitimacy of mental reservation. He explained that because the doctrine of mental reservation was “much wondered at” by Catholics as well as heretics, he thought it needful to discuss it. He drew on a variety of authorities and cited the sayings of Jesus and other scriptural cases that had become standard precedents in discussions of dissimulation, but depended most of all on Navarrus’s commentary on Hurnanae aures. From the latter he adopted the concept of mixed speech as capable of forming a single true proposition of which a part was reserved in the mind. Accordingly, a person who replied to a questioner, “I knowe not,” with the mental reservation, “for to tell you,” would be speaking the truth; and, similarly, a person unjustly examined by a magistrate could directly respond, “I did not heare masse,” mentally reserving the statement, “so that I can be lawfully charged therfor, or accused by any.” Garnet supported the practice of equivocation and mental reservation with various arguments, making the general point that liars did not need “to dispute of ye lawfull use of equivocation” because they took “a readier way to serve their turne, by plaine untruthes and evident perjuries.” In defining the conditions for the use of these methods, he deemed them permissible for the sake of health of soul or body, piety, charity, just profit, or necessity, a formulation that left them plenty of scope. He also approved their employment when one was questioned under oath, his basic assumption throughout being that Catholics, as the victims of persecution, were entitled to use mental reservation and other forms of deception in their own defense.(44)

In March 1606 Garnet was put on trial and executed as a traitor for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot, the failed Catholic conspiracy to assassinate James I and blow up parliament. Several of the conspirators had learned the doctrine of mental reservation from him, and he was shown to have used it during his examination to protect himself and others. The prosecution labeled him a “Doctor of Dissimulation and Destruction,” but he justified the practice, declaring that while the Catholic church condemned lying in the cause of faith and religion, it permitted equivocation when there was no obligation to reveal the truth and as a protection against self-accusation under questioning (A True. . ., 1606, sigs. I, II).

The Jesuit Robert Parsons also published a major defense of mental reservation in order to vindicate the doctrine against attacks from both Catholic and Protestant authors. He insisted that Catholics always hated lying and preferred plain, simple speech. Amphibology, however, was not lying, but a privilege allowed by human, natural, and divine law for the protection of innocence and the concealment of secrets. He crammed his pages with authorities to prove that far from being an invention of the Jesuits, amphibology had long been received as a true and lawful doctrine. As evidence of the ancient use of equivocation, he quoted sayings of Paul and Jesus that could not be properly understood without a concealed meaning. Such examples, he maintained, demonstrated that “sometimes of necessity we must admit some use of equivocation without lying, otherwise many places of the Scriptures and other holy men’s writings & doings cannot be well understood or defended.” Since he conceived the lie as a statement contrary to the speaker’s mind, it followed that statements made with the addition of a mental reservation would be true. Thus, a man replying to an unjust questioner, “I am no priest,” but adding the mental reservation, “so as I am bound to utter it to you,” was not lying. On the same ground, someone questioned contrary to law and equity could frame any proposition that was true in his own sense, and this sort of “deceit and dissimulation” would be licit. Such speech would be a concealment of the truth, the intention of the reserved clause not being to deceive, but to counter injurious questioning by an unjust judge. Parsons drew on Navarrus’s commentary and other writers as well to hold that a defendant could directly deny an accusation with a mental reservation that God would understand. He did caution, however, that Catholics should not use mental reservation except for lawful reasons and in cases of necessity, but especially justified the English priests who used it to avoid injury and protect others (Parsons, 1607).

Mental reservation remained a contentious subject throughout the seventeenth century. One of the high points in the attack upon it was the French philosopher Pascal’s famous Provincial Letters. A devout Catholic and rigorous moralist, Pascal wrote this satirical composition in order to expose and condemn the laxity of the Jesuit’s moral teaching. In one of the letters, a Jesuit father is shown describing how to get around the sin of lying by means of equivocation, a “marvelously helpful doctrine,” which allowed one to use ambiguous terms with a different meaning for the hearer than for the speaker. If no such terms could be found, then the Jesuit recommended “the new doctrine of mental reservation” which enabled one to swear that one did not do something although one had done it merely by inwardly adding an understanding that one did not do it on a certain day or before one was born or some similar circumstance reserved in the mind. By means of a mental reservation not communicated to the hearer, the statement was made true and the lie avoided. This method, the Jesuit said, is “very Convenient on many occasions” and “always legitimate when necessary or useful to health, honor, or property (Pascal, [1656-57] 1967, letter 9). As a later legacy of the longstanding nefarious reputation attached to the doctrine of mental reservation, in the United States the oath to defend the Constitution which is required of persons elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or armed forces includes the clause, “I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion (5 United States Code 3331).(45)

Although the need to lie and dissemble can occur in all kinds of quotidian situations, there is something distinctly tragic about the dissimulation practiced by people and communities who are forced into disguise by religious or political persecution. It is impossible not to feel a human sympathy for those who are placed in such circumstances, and even a device like mental reservation may seem pardonable when individuals use it to escape unjust punishment for their religious convictions and allegiances. The examples of dissimulation ratified by doctrine which I have discussed in this essay are far from exhausting the range of the phenomenon in early modern Europe. There were other areas as well, having to do with the growth of religious unbelief and heterodox philosophies, in which thinkers and authors felt compelled to resort to dissimulation in self-protection.(46) In the history of western civilization, the sixteenth and the greater part of the seventeenth century have long figured in our customary periodization as the Age of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation In light of the widespread practice of dissimulation during this period and of the doctrinal rationalizations that were used to justify it, we might give this era a further title and name it the Age of Dissimulation.


(1) I wish to express my appreciation to Professor Bella M. De Paulo of the Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, the author of many studies on lying and deception in interpersonal relationships, for giving me a copy of this bibliography and of several of her articles, from which I have profited. (2) See De Paulo, Kirkendall, Kashy, Wyer, and Epstein, 1996, p. 979, and Kashy and De Paulo, 1996, p. 1037. (3) For a discussion of deception, mimicry, and camouflage among insects, birds, and other animals in order to secure food and fool predators, see Trivers, 1985, Ch. 16. (4) In my subsequent discussion I shall speak much more of dissimulation than of lying and also regard the two as synonymous. While dissimulation consists of pretending to be what one is not and is, therefore, not strictly identical with the lie as a statement made with the conscious intention to deceive, the false show of oneself that it presents makes the lie an indispensable instrument of its use. (5) See Zagorin (1990) for a survey of this subject. (6) One of the Koranic sources of takiya is the statement (Koran 3:27), “Whether ye conceal what is in your heart or reveal it, Allah knows it.” See von Grunebaum, 1954, p. 191. (7) See the treatment of the sources of this doctrine in Zagorin, 1990, Ch. 2. (8) An English translation of these two works is contained in Augustine, 1952. For the Latin originals, see Augustine, 1844-55, Vol. 26. (9) This and all subsequent references to the Bible are to the King James or Authorized Version of 1611. (10) For Augustine’s definition of the lie as “enuntiationem falsam cum voluntate fallendi” and as speech “contra mentem,” see Augustine, 1952, pp. 60, 160. The biblical precedents for lying which he discusses are mentioned in various parts of both his treatises on the subject. (11) For these statements in Jerome’s commentary, see Commentariorum in Epistolam ad Galatas Tres Libri in Augustine, 1844-55, Vol. 26, cols. 363-67. (12) For Augustine’s letters to Jerome regarding this issue of dissimulation, see his Epistolae in Augustine, 1844-55, Vol. 33, cols. 112-13, 154-58, 275-91 and the English translation in Augustine, 1951-56, Vol. 1, pp. 93-8, 172-79, 390-420. Jerome’s reply to Augustine is printed in Epistolae, cols. 251-63. (13) The summary above is based on Augustine’s discussion in his treatises on lying, of which a fuller account is given in Zagorin, 1990, pp. 16-24. (14) See Gregory’s Moralium Libri, sive Expositio in Librum B. Job, Bk. 26, Ch. 10 in Augustine, 1844-55, Vol. 76, colt 357. (15) Causa XXII covers the subject of Iying, and Humanae aures is printed in col. 885. (16) For this brief summary of Aquinas’ treatment of lying and dissimulation, I have drawn on the Dominican fathers’ edition of Summa Theologiae (1964-76), 2ae 2ae, qq. 69, 89, 110, 111. See also Zagorin, 1990, pp. 29-31, for a fuller account. (17) On the Waldensians and their beliefs, with good references to the relevant sources and literature, see Leff, 1967, Vol. II, pp. 452-85; some useful material is also contained in Lea, 1922, Vol. I, pp. 76-88 and passim. (18) Although considered ignorant and unlettered, the Waldensians were, nevertheless, known to read the New Testament and to make use of excerpts from the church fathers in translation; see Leff, 1967, p. 455. Their love and reverence for the gospels and study of vernacular translations of the Bible make it unthinkable that they lacked a religious and scriptural basis for their dissimulation. (18) On the teachings of Wycliff and the Lollard movement, see McFarlane, 1952; Leff, 1967, Vol. II, Chs. 7-8; and above all the important work by Hudson (1988), which has largely superseded previous accounts by its investigation and discoveries in Lollard sources. My discussion above draws heavily on Hudson’s study. (20) The main account of the Jews of medieval Spain is Baer, 1961) See also the discussion in Zagorin, 1990, Ch. 3, and Kamen, 1985, Ch. 1. (21) The same view is express by Haim Beinart, a close student of the Jews of early modern Spain, in Beinart, 1981, Ch. 1. (22) Netanyahu reiterates this position in his recent book (1995). (23) See the comments and references to the literature of the Spanish inquisition in Zagorin, 1990, pp. 47-8. (24) For a survey of crypto-Judaism from the fourteenth century onward, its treatment by the inquisition and statistics on the number of cases of crypto-Judaism handled by the sixteen inquisitional tribunals in peninsular Spain, Mallorca, and the Canaries, see Blazquez Miguel, 1988. (25) The documents of proceedings against the conversos of Ciudad Real are printed verbatim in Beinart, 1974-77. See also Beinart, 1981, which is based on these documents. (26) I have taken these details from the valuable biography by Kaplan, 1989, Chs. 1-5. (27) Baruch was an apocryphal book not part of the Hebrew canon of the Bible but was included in the Septuagint and later also incorporated in the Vulgate among the books of the prophets. (28) For the observance of the fast of Esther by the family of Orobio de Castro, see Kaplan, 1989, p. 41. (29) See the comments of Syme, 1958, Vol. I, Ch. 32. Tacitus’ writings survived in only a few manuscripts and did not become widely known in the West until the sixteenth century. (30) On Lipsius’ attitude toward dissimulation, see the remarks and references in Zagorin, 1990, pp. 122-25; his political treatise, Politicarum sive Civilis Doctrinae Sex Libri (1589), dealt with dissimulation in Bk. IV. (31) The classic work on reason-of-state remains Meinecke, 1957. For Tacitism and reason-of-state, see Zagorin, 1990, pp. 6-7; Schellhase, 1976; Burke, 1991, Ch. 16; Fernandez-Santamaria, 1983, Ch. 3 and passim. (32) For Wyatt’s observations on courts and on the craft and dissimulation prevalent in the court of Henry VIII, a theme that recurs in his poetry, see in particular his poem, “To John Poyntz” (Rebholz, 1978). On the dissimulation associated with courts and courtiers, see the discussion and references in Zagorin, 1990, pp. 7-8, and Zagorin, 1993. (33) For these letters and the chronology and context of Calvin’s writings against the dissimulation of crypto-Protestants, see Zagorin, 1990, pp. 68-72. (34) I quote this work from the contemporary English translation, The Mynde of the Godly and Excellent Learned Man . . . Calvin, What a Faithful Man Which is Instruct in the Word of God, Ought To Do, Dwelling amongst The Papists (Ipswich, 1548). (35) See Cantimori, 1959, Ginzburg, 1970, and the comments in Zagorin, 1990, pp. 12-13, 68-70. (36) On the spiritualists and their beliefs, see Williams, 1962, passim, and Zagorin, 1990, Ch. 6. (37) See Zagorin, 1990, Chs. 5-6, for a discussion of the use of dissimulation among various religious groups and other Protestant authors beside Calvin who dealt with the subject. (38) See also the study by Walsham, 1993. (39) Parsons wrote this tract under a pseudonym and printed it on a secret press to evade the government’s censorship. (40) This work was also secretly printed to evade censorship. (41) In later editions of Navarrus’s works, the title of this commentary omits the final words, De Arte Bona & Mala Dissimulandi. (42) Raymond’s statement from his Summa de Poenitentia is quoted in Dorszynski, 1948, p. 25. The story about St. Francis was referred to by Navarrus in his handbook for confessors, Enchiridion, in de Azpilcueta, 1590, Vol. I, p. 99. (43) See the discussion in Zagorin, 1990, pp. 178-85. (44) Garnet’s treatise was left in manuscript and fell into the hands of the government, which did not know its author. It was first published as A Treatise of Equivocation (London, 1851). For its history, Garnet’s authorship, and a fuller discussion, see Zagorin, 1990, pp. 193-94. (45) The president, whose oath of office is prescribed in the Constitution, is excepted from this oath. (46) See Zagorin, 1990, Chs. 14-15, and the essays in Wootton and Hunter, 1992.


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