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For further information and to set parameters for cookies. When in the journal "Storica" undertook to test the efficacy of Elias' model by empirical research they invited a non-Italian, Jeroen Duindam 13 , author of the well known work Myths of Power. The deconstruction Elias' model, a process in which Duindam was not the only participant, was also the effect of empirical research, above all, in the English speaking world 14 , of the establishment of an approach based on network analysis, on the widespread use of the category of patronage - political and artistic - of a return by both historians and anthropologists to the theme of royalty as power represented through discourse, rites, images, and finally of the relativization of the paradigm of modernity.
This latter question, together with the question of the central State, both key components of Elias' work, should also be considered in view of the wider methodological and theoretical relationship that exists between empirical research and the production of strong interpretative models. The court is not the only case in point. Habermas, who published his thesis in 15 , does not mention Elias, but posits a discontinuity between what he calls the representative public sphere , where he locates the humanistic cultural world that was integrated in the life the court, and the bourgeois public sphere , not a continuity as it is assumed to be in the work of Elias.
Let us return to Italian historiography and develop the second point of this paper by attempting to answer the question of which areas have been most explored by Italian scholars of the courts since the 's and what have been the most enduring results of their efforts. An initial and original area of investigation was the work done on texts, among which Castiglione's Courtier occupies a notable place.
The perspective adopted by these studies viewed the court as a complex system founded on the cultural codes of "grazia" and "sprezzatura", on a courtly grammar that was expressed in Castiglione's text and from which a knowledge and practises arose that spread over modern Europe and acquired a significance of vast proportions. This textual approach was launched in a seminar held in October marking the th anniversary of Castiglione's birth in Casanatico di Macaria, and its proceedings were published in in two volumes.
In the various essays The Courtier is presented both as the historical product of a precise set of circumstances in 16th century Italy, and as a foundational or seminal work, a fertile matrix for a series of subsequent discourses on the court In his introduction to the edition of The Book of the Courtier 17 Amedeo Quondam interprets the work as a lucid manifesto, an "archtext", presented as the trunk of the arbor textualis that "forms", in the Aristotelian sense, through the use of words, "the real features of the court".
It [ The Courtier ] takes on the proportions of an anthropological manifesto and traces out the boundaries of a highly important and enduring semiotic field an authentic typology, a modelization that gave rise to - above all - other sets of discourses and other, even partial grammars: for example, those that were specifically related to the Galateo or the Civil conversazione and it is certainly symptomatic that these two texts were closely connected to The Courtier in their reception in Europe or that very vast sector of treatises on the dance, games, duels, hunting, horses, dressing, eating, on secretary This interest in texts, their history, their reception and fortunes has been a constant feature of the editorial work of the Centro Europa delle Corti.
But often the Centre's work on texts also spanned out into multifaceted analyses of single authors considered to be "foundational" such as Giovanni della Casa 22 or studies of treatises, such as books dealing with good manners 23 or economics 24 or duels 25 an area to which Claudio Donati 26 has made a substantial contribution , or on chivalry 27 and the persistence of a military or warrior ideal 28 which was functional to and not separate from the ideal of the courtier. This line of research that used a corpus of texts as a means to analyse the court as a paradigm was immediately accompanied by another perspective that studied the court as an all encompassing scene: the court as representation, but also as a theatre within the palace, in its texts of theatrical literature, in the staging of its festivals and in the production of what was literally a theatre of the court And so we might well ask: was the court a closed system, a symbolic, self-referential universe?
In at a conference held in Chicago on the origins of the modern state in Italy, the importance of the historiographical shift that had occurred over the previous fifteen years could be seen from the fact that one section was devoted to the courts In one of the conference's papers, English historian Trevor Dean acknowledged that "only two decades ago the court would not have found a place so readily in the conceptual baggage of historians of the modern State".
However, Dean was also severely critical of the Italian approach which he considered to have given too much importance to the court's literary expressions" and not enough to its "historical forms and variations". He laid the blame for this "structuralist" approach on the absence of dialogue between Italian and international historiography The lack of studies on Italian courts the exception being Wolfgang Reinhard's article on the power of papal families in Princes, Patronage and Nobility edited by R.
Asch and A.
Birke 32 , which had appeared two years earlier, was held to be the result of this lack of communication among historians. This verdict no longer holds true today. Despite the predominance within the group of historians of literature and theatre, the Centre immediately took up the task of "dealing with everything that is outside of this system of 'art' - firstly, with the nature of the real mechanisms of the court's powers, of all the courts in Italy and Europe, and then with the 'nature' of the profession of courtier in its various manifestations [ Alberto Tenenti himself, in explaining the general project, proposed to study the court as an institution and organisation of power.
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But even when it was reformulated like this, the problem remained of how court and state were joined. As we shall see, this is one of the recurrent themes of Italian court historiography. Why the decision to begin with the Farnese court? The reason was stated quite clearly. In the choice of a study sample - writes Carlo Ossola - "the most homogeneous system political, cultural, economic and linguistic appeared to be the area of the Po [ The states of a national scale being discarded for their great size [I think here he is referring to Naples, the only one of the old Italian states that might be defined as national], followed by the regional states such as those of Cosimo I or Carlo Emanuele, it appeared that among the little states, such as the Este and Gonzaga, the Farnese were immediately identified as emblematic of that manner of "holding court" and "being a state" that made them desirable of study Moreover, the Farnese state had been founded in a completely artificial manner, through an act of papal nepotism, as a result of calculations played out at a European level and located within a juridically complex area As a result it could be best expected to represent the type of court that implants itself as a "new state".
But aside from the specific motivations that lay behind the choice of this particular case in point, we are safe in saying that by the end of the 's Italian historians accompanied their research on texts and court discourse with another, not less important, approach which focused on how the Italian courts functioned in their original polycentrism. The results of this long period of research that began with the Po Valley courts and later expanded to include other areas of the peninsula have shown the degree of complexity that characterised the relationship between state-court-city in Early Modern Italy.
Many of the princely regimes of north-central Italy arose from dynamics that depended on urban situations that had been imposed by a family-clan. The Este started from a popular investiture behind which lay the Guelph faction; they consolidated their power in the face of resistance from the city and revolts by obtaining the papal vicariate and in the fifteenth century they increased their territory by adding Modena and Reggio , Garfagnana , Polesine di Rovigo and Frignano: a heterogeneous jumble of territories in an area that was dotted by little states - Novellara, Correggio, Guastalla, Carpi, Mirandola, Sassuolo.
The urban, communal roots that originally gave rise to this historical evolution, and the tangle of seigniorial or patrician powers, the heterogeneity of the territory resulted in a clear disconnection between court and state Marco Folin has suggested applying the category of composite state to the Este possessions, a term which was used by Grubb for the Venetian state and Elliot for the Spanish monarchy, in which every territory maintained its political and administrative separateness In neighbouring Mantua the Gonzaga replaced the Bonacolsi, their former allies in and took up residence in their stronghold - the civitas vetus.
While they continued to respect the municipal statutes, they rapidly swallowed up the communal magistracies in the clanic court. The comparison between the courts of the Este and the Gonzaga is made frequently in Italian historiography: it was first proposed by Marco Cattini and Marzio Romani 39 , and later pursued in greater detail by Marco Folin. This scholar showed how in the case of Mantua, as early as the end of the Middle Ages, the Gonzaga's household was practically coterminous with the structures of the Gonzaga "State", while in the case of the Este, even in the Early Modern Age, "the offices of the court continued to retain a markedly domestic connotation", a disparity between the two models that can be seen in the structure of their archives, which in the Este states were organised primarily on the basis of geography Further south, in the wide area between the Adriatic and the upper valley of the Tiber a teeming of autonomies and forces hampered any real processes of territorial aggrandizement.
The Montefeltro were the only ones who, in spite of their rivalries with other lords settled in the area mainly the Malatesta managed to obtain the vicariate from Nicholas V and the ducal title from Sixtus IV in , resulting in the creation of a small state that was recognised in the Italian system of Renaissance states, but one that in spite of its tiny size was still fragmented into territorial micro-bodies, each jealous of its own prerogative.
It was a state caught between papal superiority above and centrifugal forces pushing from below - where the prince could exercise real power only in the court A different kind of complexity characterised the case of Florence-Tuscany, also because of the peculiarity of its historiographical background: the interest, above all among English and American historians in the history of urban humanism, in the culture of republican Florence raised to the status of paradigm for a Western Civilisation that sprang out of the Italian Renaissance and extended on a trajectory spanning the Atlantic and the Enlightenment It was an interest that discouraged much research on the Florentine territorial state and the court.
The former topic first became the subject of study thanks largely to the impetus given by Elena Fasano Guarini who, in her more than thirty years of work on districts, jurisdictions and "police orders" has drawn attention to the co-existence of both republican and princely forms of government within the Medici state and has, thus, enriched the concept of regional State with new contents.
Many systematic studies carried out by historians of the Middle Ages and historians of institutions have enlarged on this original perspective, and while not overemphasising the paradigm of the State, they have also managed to avoid dissolving it in local or micro-political concerns While this current of historiography accompanied as it was by a general discussion on the forms of the State in medieval and early modern Italy, has done much to shed light on many specific features of the Medici principality, it was only later that the Medici court itself became the object of study with the work that Marcello Fantoni devoted to it in Fantoni aimed to build a bridge between the study of ceremonial, of etiquette and the study of political history by taking a look at the Medici Court over a long period.
He particularly focussed on the forms of contamination occurring between courtly entourage and government apparatus: "the high officials of the State, the knights of St. Stephen and the Florentine or provincial notables all projected indiscriminately onto the court the common destination of their own aspirations, and those who were lucky enough to gain admittance benefited from the precedence and privilege that made them reference figures in a network of personal clients" However different the courts of the Po valley and the Medici might have been from each other in terms of their territorial dimensions and economic and social dynamics, they were nonetheless anchored in a pre-existing urban setting characterised by the commune.
The court of the Savoia was quite a different matter. The Savoia princes, counts and imperial vicars from the second half of the XIVth century, and later dukes from , held sway over a vast territory that straddled Italy and France, organised into balivati in the older possessions beyond the Alps and in castellanie in Italy. In this heterogeneous jumble of territories subject to a restless policy of expansion, yet without a stable direction, no distinction existed, at least in the transalpine domains, between rural communities and cities.
The French model profoundly influenced the nascent Savoia state: the Consilium cum domino residens which accompanied the prince as itinerant organ was divided into two seats in Chambery and Turin , the assembly of the Three States, the sale of public offices were, in fact, modelled on the institutional profiles of the French principalities.
At the same time the structure of the court, which was already highly sophisticated at the beginning of the early sixteenth century was based on the principle of trimesterial service that had been established no later than and it looked to the courts of France and Burgundy as models. The pre-eminence of Turin over the rest of Piedmont was based on the institution of the Consilium domini citra montes residens 46 not only as a court of appeals but also as an organ of government, above all when a century later Emanuele Filiberto in decided to move the court there from Chambery which was militarily more exposed.
The ancient city of Turin, instead, had a court imposed upon it, and here the closest models are Madrid, where the court had a vacillating presence until the second decade of the seventeenth century, and, especially, Modena, which found itself the adopted home of the Este court only after the dynasty 's principal duchy of Ferrara had escheated to the papacy in As is well known, it was during the reigns of Carlo Emanuele I that Turin decisively assumed the role of capital and the Sabaudian court increased in size: a cosmopolitan court, that was originally bilingual with an ambitious though changing foreign policy, also as a result of its strategic position in Europe's geopolitical arena Instead they sought out higher forms of legitimization.
Each court had a narrative of its own, but all took part in a common story: within the "peninsular system" they were bound by an incessant tension to rise in the hierarchy of states. This competition for prestige is not a negligible aspect in the history of Italian courts and it drew in all the players whose strengths varied according certain factors: the antiquity and origins of their House - which might be feudal Savoia, Este , mercantile Medici , the result of military adventure Sforza, Montefeltro - the size of their dominions, the nobility of their kin.
Beyond the formal legitimization that an investiture might bring from one or both of the two universal powers Cosimo I sought recognition from both Charles V and Pius V, first for his ducal then his grand ducal title princes also aspired to emulate models and win consensus and this meant their image needed to be portrayed heroically. An entourage had to form around the prince that was not only capable of performing bureaucratic and governmental functions, but also of taking diplomatic initiatives and producing "ideology". I use this latter expression not only in the sense of creating an image of courtly life that expressed itself through festivals, theatre, etc The princely mythology needed to be "documented" by means of writing - and whether these documents were false from the strictly "scientific" point of view had no bearing on their power to elicit belief It needed to be visualized through the reconfiguration of urban, ecclesiastical and residential spaces and also through the great cycles of paintings that decorated the interiors.
In the planning of cities and buildings, major and minor princes alike found an effective tool to construct identity in emulation of the figure of the architect-prince who was legitimized by a classical tradition that had been restored by the Renaissance's rediscovery of Magnificence Perhaps the aspect that has been most extensively documented by the research of the past decades has to do with the models of the city- court, both in the case of micro-courts 52 Carpi Sabbioneta and the larger Po courts such as Ferrara of the Este, a city whose forma urbis 53 underwent complete renovation, or Mantua under the Gonzaga where the diet convoked by Pius II in for a crusade against the Turks can be seen as the symbolic inauguration date for a series of urban and architectural initiatives planned by Alberti and Luca Fancelli Research has drawn attention to the complex process of resignifying "republican" spaces in Florence, which led to the construction of a new residence, the Palazzo Pitti Several studies stressed on the specific chronology of the Savoy court.
In Turin during a reign of Carlo Emanuele, projects were launched to establish a real princely residence in the palace acquired from the city's episcopal curia and to redefine the city's general profile Through studies on the prince's urban and architectural policy the complex phenomenology of Italian courts has become clearer to us, as well as how the courts evolved from Renaissance modules to those of the Baroque driven by intrinsic changes. These were more than merely personal programmes for the consolidation of power. What we have here is a strategy of state-building that based itself on the court as a contact point, a strategy that relied on the coopting of local aristocracies into the city, on the circulation of intellectuals, on the investment of resources.
At the end of the 's and during the 's it was common practice among scholars to speak of a gap between the prince's munificence, the refined development of the spectacle of the court, the extraordinary knowledge court intellectuals had of the great cultural traditions of the classical world and of their own and the fragility of the court's political and administrative apparatus. For example, Cesare Vasoli observed how the "prince's patronage, his munificence, wealth, pomp and the great spectacle of the court were to a large extent the forms through which a power that was often weak and precarious began to develop it own administrative frameworks" This idea was repeated for the Sforza court 58 and the Mantuan court 59 , but we would do well to reconsider it, particularly in the light of the numerous studies that have looked at the ranks of personnel within both the state and the court and at the real movement of courts and courtiers in space.
In the structure of their respective Households the various Italian courts share the same roles and functions that could be found in the households of the great monarchies And as in the case of the latter, the Italian courts did not gel into immobile structures. Fantoni has shown how the Medici court responded to the growth of the granducal familia and to a changing etiquette by evolving and transforming instead of crystallizing The court also had to adapt to the particular profile of the prince's own blood kin who came with their own entourages, palaces and residences.
The demographics of the princely houses had no small influence on what kind of situations they produced. In Turin the junior branch of the Savoia, the Carignano, who became the main line in , had their own court, their own palace in the centre of the city. In addition, numerous Savoia bastards were employed in the service of the court and held diplomatic positions, a fact which helped to maintain equilibria in court power network. The court of Savoia was a court in expansion - also for demographic reasons - and its ascent compensated for the disappearance of many minor courts The interest in the world of small or "regional" states that is such a distinct characteristic of the historiography of early modern Italy 63 is one reason why the papal court and the court of Naples have received rather less attention.
Of the limited work that has been done on the Aragonese court, up to the recent studies by Giuliana Vitale and Francesco Senatore 64 , nearly all has been produced by English speaking historians such as George Hersey 65 , Alan Ryder 66 and Jerry Bentley 67 , the exception being a group of scholars of humanistic literature working around Francesco Tateo who have made extensive forays into that world of letterati , Neapolitan humanists, great courtiers and advisers to the Prince, one of the most notable being Pontano This lack of interest, which is also the result of particular trends in the historiography of southern Italy has meant that a gap still remains to be filled, and we can now point to a flurry of recent work that has been done to this very end - particularly to the research on the viceregal courts during the Spanish period, an object of renewed interest in the context intense exchange between Italian and Spanish scholars A somewhat different situation exists with regard to the papal court.
In an article published in "Studi Romani" back in , Amedeo Quondam launched a open call 70 for more research to be devoted to the court of Rome, which, as a study topic, had languished under nineteenth century antipapal prejudice, and even before that as a result of an internal operation within the Church that substituted the worldly term of court for curia, making the use of the latter mandatory.
To be sure, if we look through the titles published by "Europa delle Corti" we find a number of excellent edited works and discussions of sources: Fabrizio Cruciani's extensive and thoughtful collection of documents on festivals, ceremonies and theatrical occasions from Pius II to Paul III 71 ; the re-edition of Il ruolo della corte di Leone X 72 with a long preface by Vincenzo di Caprio, an important document on the court viewed as the pope's familia and which contains specific profiles of individual domestic prelates; Cesare Mozzarelli's edition of a forgotten work of the sixteenth century, Giovanni Francesco Commendone's Discorso Yet we have to wait until the 's before Rome came generally to be regarded as a great laboratory for the study of courts, also the result of a close relationship between German and Italian historians.
The papal court which had already assumed its "modern" physiognomy during the Avignon period 74 , once it was back in Rome, established itself as a place where every segment of Italian society could represent itself, and this was especially true for the emerging classes But Rome was also strategic centre of European politics, a hub where information was processed and disseminated 76 and where ceremonial rules were created and formalized In conclusion, the research currently being done on the courts continues to be rich and innovative.
Although this topic was initially viewed with a degree of skepticism it is now a respected and necessary field in the history of early modern Italy. But what questions are scholars interested in today? Without claiming to provide an exhaustive survey, we might say that recent interest in the symbolism of power that marks contemporary historiography has breathed new life into the theme of religio principis. Indeed, the question appeared in the Italian historiography of the courts from the earliest days 83 , but it was never treated as a topic of central importance at a time when as we have attempted to show most studies focused on the textual tradition, on the relationship between court and state, on the princely projects of urban construction and on the theatralization of space.
The theme of religio principis is an ambiguous one, bearing two connotations: on the one hand, it refers to the prince in the neo-platonic sense as possessor of an innate wisdom, a charisma that confers on him a sacred authority and produces harmony around him. The rites, the court ceremonials, the iconography must develop and represent the superhuman figure of the prince On the other, the religio principis also refers to prince's role in relation to the urban ecclesiastical institutions and to cult objects.
In this latter regard, a number of studies drawing on extensive archival research have clearly shown how religion was a "constant interest for the political authorities because of the ideological benefits associated with the image of the pious and holy prince, but also because of the economic and social value to be had by controlling the institutional structures of the church" Naturally, this relationship prince-courtly world-ecclesiastical institution varied with the size of the State, the origins of the prince's sovereignty and the particular moment in time in the state's religious history While in Florence the Medici for dynastic purposes appropriated the city's sacred symbols and cults of the SS.
Annunziata, whose miraculous painting was housed in the church of the Servite order and around which a veritable courtly and dynastic ritual evolved 87 , the situation in Piedmont was entirely different. Paolo Cozzo's recent book 88 has shown how the decision to relocate the court to Turin was accompanied by a strategy to control and hierarchize the town's devotional centres: the Sanctuary of the Consolata, the church of St.
Lawrence a Spanish martyr to whom Emanuele Filiberto was particularly devoted and the Shroud. This prestigious dynastic relic, housed since in the Saint Chapelle in Chambery was brought by sacred pilgrimage to Turin on September 15, This transfer is indicative of precisely the opposite process that had occurred in Medici Florence, since in the Sabaudian state it was the new capital that ingested and absorbed the dynasty's sacred symbols. The case of Mantua is different again: Leon Battista Alberti's renovation of the Church of Sant'Andrea, a former Benedictine monastery converted after long opposition into a collegiate church under the patronage of the Gonzaga , meant that the dynasty was re-appropriating the relic of the Most Precious Blood of Christ which was housed in the basilica of Sant'Andrea.
The cult of the blood of Christ had a royal connotation, but at the same time one that was popular and redemptive for the entire community whose local liberties and prerogatives it sacralized The foundation in by Vincenzo Gonzaga of the Knight Order of the Most Precious Blood shows the persistence over time of this dynastic devotion which proved to be an effective instrument in rallying local elites around the prince.
While from the beginning Italian historiography detected a change in the tone and language of the treatises that were produced under the influence of Christian neo-stoicism during the so-called the Counter-Reformation, this trend began to be treated as a historical process by important studies on the people who were entrusted with directing the prince's religious life: from the living saints "the prince's pious counselors" in the Po courts to the confessors, mostly Jesuits, players not only concerned with controlling consciences but also with diplomacy and politics Our horizons have also been broadened by new approaches to the relationship between the court and the economy.
Study of the art market, drawing on various disciplines, has enabled us to reformulate the classic questions of economic history with regard to prices, demand and consumption, as well as to consider the production of objects from the standpoint of their material and symbolic value, social conditioning, evolving tastes, the role of numerous social players who animated the market such as commissioning patrons, intermediaries bankers, diplomats , artists and second hand dealers Guido Guerzoni has recently looked at the careers and technical skills of various craftsmen at the Este court and has shown how demand from the courts "produced beneficial effects on the city's entire system of labour and production through the spread of refined and innovative products, processes, knowledge, techniques and technologies which the Este always supported with considerable investments" 92 , not to mention knock-on effects from building policies and the festival economy.
This new attention to daily life, to the court economy with regard to the division of labour, to the history of techniques and know-how has gone hand in hand with renewed interest in an already existing field of research - that of science in the court, which extended well beyond the passion for astrology, natural history and natural museums 93 , the wunderkammer , but also included the organisation of a court medicine with its precise figures: proto-physicians, surgeons, pharmacists who had the delicate and dangerous task of watching over the prince's health, over his "health regime" and of determining the cause of his death by examining his corpse The image of the Italian courts that the most recent studies give us is the very opposite of the stereotypically self-enclosed place where plots were hatched within a rigid political structure: whether they look at the role of court confessors, artists or scientists, the studies draw a picture of networks where men, objects, knowledge and techniques circulated.
New interest the role of women in princely dynasties has greatly contributed to promoting this line of research. An important example is the project studying the woman of the Medici in the European system, originally conceived by Alessandra Contini and Riccardo Spinelli and later completed by Giulia Calvi after Prof. Contini's premature death. By looking at the real stories of the women who were given away and received by the Medici, the study shows how these women introduced different manners, ceremonial codes, objects and practices into the courts, and thus performed a great operation of cultural transfert The history of the courts from the perspective of gender is definitely an area that needs further exploration, but it shows that an important change has taken place in recent decades in the political and diplomatic historiography of the courts, which is increasingly concerned not only with Italy but with the rest of Europe as well For a wider survey cf.
Cinquant'anni di distanza , in H. Cools, M. Espada Burgos, M. Gras, M. Matheus, M.
Miglio eds. On the relationship between Marxist historiography and historical research in Italy during the '' cf. Masella, Passato e presente nel dibattito storiografico. Mazzonis ed. Jankowiak eds. Mozzarelli, Principe e Corte nella storiografia italiana del Novecento , in Id. Olmi eds. Immagini e posizione tra Otto e Novecento , Rome , p.
On how Elias was received in Italy see S. Bertelli - G. Le scelte culturali di N. Elias , ivi, pp. Visceglia, Corti italiane e storiografia europea. Linee di lettura , in F. Salvestrini ed. Tenenti, Introduzione all'edizione italiana , in N. Certainly the present work can only serve to make a significant contribution to clarifying and refining reflection on this type of problem, while the caution of historians will no doubt continue to aid in the production of "models" pursued by other cultivators of the human sciences" ivi, p.
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