The first heresy trial against someone from Maranello was the one against Orsolina Bernardi in 1498: 52 others followed. The most frequent allegations were magic and blasphemy.
At the end of the 1400s, the community not only had its statutes and rules, it also faced a scary institution that followed to its own rules. The Inquisition Tribunal was established to police the crime of heresy, with a seat in Modena as well.
The record shows 53 Maranello defendants were tried by the Court of Modena over three centuries. This number was typical. The first documented case was that of Orsolina Bernardi, who was charged with using magic to heal the sick. She was tried and tortured for witchcraft in 1498.
Maranello women were more likely to be tried for witchcraft, while men were more likely to be accused of blasphemy. Among the inhabitants of Maranello there were 21 defendants charged with blasphemy, 12 for witchcraft and three for manifested heresy. This latter charge incorporated things like bigamy, superstition and the failure to comply with the Church’s precepts.
The most famous Maranello citizen who faced an accusation of manifested heresy was the humanist, notary and preceptor Gian Maria Tagliati, who was saved from death recanting in 1567. His was the fourth trial of a Maranello citizen before the Inquisition in Modena. The next defendant was not until 1772, when the wheat merchant Stefano Montori of Gorzano was charged with desecration heresy.
Silvano Soragni “Maranello. Dal Castello feudale… al Maestro Giuseppe Graziosi”, Artioli, 2007.