Stefano Villani

Tuscan Readings of the English Revolution: The Correspondence of Amerigo Salvetti and Giovanni Salvetti Antelminelli

2010 Seminar Series / Thursday 27 May, 2010


Dr Stefano Villani (University of Maryland) introduces a little-known yet important correspondence. Villani describes 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 argues 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 sketches 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.

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