Seminar 5: Tuscan Readings of the English Revolution

In the fifth installment of the Project’s seminar series on Thursday 27 May, Professor Stefano Villani (University of Pisa) introduced us to ‘Tuscan Readings of the English Revolution: The Correspondence of Amerigo Salvetti and Giovanni Salvetti Antelminelli’. Villani focused on the communications sent by the elder Salvetti, a Tuscan informer and diplomat based in London, to the Grand Duke of Tuscany between 1649 and 1660, during which the former dispatched both a newsletter and a personal letter on a weekly basis updating the Tuscan court on developments within the new English Republic. Villani argued that within an environment in which Italian responses to the Protectorate regime were both highly regionalized and lacking in ideological consistency, the letters reveal Tuscans to have had more interest in and sympathy for the Cromwellian administration than either Venetians (who regarded it as a military dictatorship orchestrated by a religious fanatic) or Genoans (who viewed it ambivalently as a kind of protracted Machievellian experiment). As well as describing this ‘Anglo/Tuscan moment’, Villani sketched some fascinating differences between the two styles of missive – newsletter and personal letter – both of which took over a month to reach their recipients on the peninsula. The newsletters, which are anonymous and unsigned, provide a ‘pragmatic’ third person narrative of political events free of subjective judgements and commentaries (and often enclosing translations of English documents). The personal letters, by contrast, are written in the first person, sometimes in cipher, and signed, and contain many idiosyncratic political insights as well as numerous personal references. Seminars take place in the Faculty of History on George Street on Thursdays at 3pm. For future seminars in the series, please see here.

Podcast now available on the seminar page!

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