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Antonella Alimento: Finanze e amministrazione. Un'inchiesta francese sui catasti nell'Italia del Settecento. Bd. I: Il viaggio di François-Joseph Harvoin con uno scritto inedito di Pompeo Neri. Bd. II: Il Mémoire sur les cadastres des pays soumis à la domination de Sa Majesté le Roy de Sardaigne die François-Joseph Harvoin, Florenz: Leo S. Olschki 2008
As the editors remember in their Preface, the anniversaries of Philip II's death (1598-1998) and of Charles V's birth (1500-2000) produced a new series of studies about Spain and Spanish imperialism. Not only on the Iberian peninsula, but also all over the ancient Spanish properties and allied states, many scholars looked - and look - into the history of their different kingdoms, erasing the so called leyenda negra. Most studies examine the intricate social networks that the imperial power favoured in its dominions. This book is a product of that trend: the articles should have been acts of a conference held in Pisa in 1999, but, as it unfortunately and often happens, the volume went out late; it became a sort of (dated) review of some European research of the last decade. And, unfortunately, in this Italia non spagnola many actors are missing, from the dukedom of Savoy to the princedoms of the Gonzaga and other independent or partially free sovereignties with - at present - a very rich bibliography.
The book is divided into two parts, the first one dedicated to politics, the second one to culture and literature. Manuel Rivero Rodríguez, a great expert of the Habsburgs politics in early modern Spain, asks "¿Monarca católico o rey de España?": nación y representación de la monarquía de Felipe II en la corte de Roma, finding many answers in the tight relationship between Madrid and the Papacy. According to the interpretation offered by J. Martínez Millán, Rivero underlines the cooperation between Philip II and Pius IV (and their ambassadors and clergymen) in the common intent to promote the catholic culture as national character: the king promoted in Rome a Spanish community which worked as a "'microcosmos' de la propia España" (25). Meanwhile he was involved in a strong struggle about precedence with France, to assure for his crown the first place in European catholic hierarchy (for this reason, so Rivero, Philip started to sign as "el rey", meanwhile the king of France "le roy"). Any tensions or juridical friction with Rome - most of all under Pius V - evolved from this rivalry and from the ambition to transform Spain into a confessional domain. Angelantonio Spagnoletti sums up the political situation of the time, analyzing the image of Philip II among the Italian princes and courts. It seems to be an image of "Paz y quietud", at least through the (classic) sources of the relations of Venice's ambassadors and other anonymous memorials preserved in the Vatican Library. Actually, after Cateau-Cambrésis, in Italy peace prevailed on war and Philip II looked like an arbiter more than a master; an arbiter inclined to give pensions, to permit transnational weddings among Spanish nobility and Italian élites, and to favour careers inside the Spanish territories (most of Naples and Milan) and around them (the Mantua of the Gonzaga, for example). Anyway, it was a "dynamic peace" ready to break when the general conditions were going to change. War, as it is well known, is expensive; but peace too. The text presented by Juan Gelabert about the Gasto militar en tiempo de paz. El ejemplo de la monarquía hispana de 1609 a 1618 demonstrates that the Spanish crown spent almost 5 millions ducats a year to maintain its troops and defence structures in Europe, about 21% of the kingdom's income: not too much if we consider the period of peace between the truce of Flandes and the Thirty Years War, but enough to weaken an economy already destabilized by frequent bankruptcies.
Regarding the dynastic links between Italy and Madrid, Carlos J. Hernando Sánchez talks about Los Médicis y los Toledos: familia y lenguaje del poder en la Italia de Felipe II. The rich essay focuses on the tight ties between the two houses, from the wedding of Leonor of Toledo, daughter of the vice-king of Naples don Pedro, and Cosimo I duke of Florence (celebrated in 1539) to the career in Spain of Pietro de' Medici, their second son. He married another Leonor of Toledo in 1571, but she was unfaithful: when he killed her to solve the "cuestión de honor" (76), the murder did not compromise the relationship between the Medici and Spanish court. On the contrary, Pietro had a Spanish career and he died in Madrid in 1604 after years of diplomatic work.
Going back to the financial problem, Carlo Bitossi analyzes Le vicissitudini di una simbiosi, talking about the mutual bond between Genoa and Spain: was it a symbiosis, like C. Costantini defined it, or not? The author gives an elaborate answer, looking at the inner political situation of the Republic (the Laws of Casale of 1576 modified its oligarchic system, giving more power to "new" families) and concludes that the age of Philip II was for Genoa a period of settlement under Spanish favour. Less friendly was the relationship of Spain and another republic: Venice. Paolo Preto shows its opportunistic relation with the Turks, even when the Iberian monarchy had to fight against Islam. Since 1453 Venice had to face the Turkish menace in the Adriatic sea, but in the end, as not to lose its authority in that area, the Serenissima started a policy of "duttile pragmatismo" (109), alternating military expeditions and commercial pacts. Neither Mohacs (1526) nor Lepanto (1571) modified the agreement and the convenient equilibrium went on until the crisis of Candia (1645-1669). Obviously, the Mediterranean Sea control was also important to Spain. In this volume, the Spanish interest is observed by a specific point of view, which recalls the issue of small states in their complex interaction with a big monarchy: Franco Angiolini speaks about the State of Piombino and the Conflitto per il controllo del Tirreno. As he demonstrates, the small coastal state - to whom the island of Elba and some smaller ones belonged - was strategically placed for the Medici, the Papacy and Spain, not only for economic reasons, but also to defend the peninsula against French and Turkish raids. Through interesting considerations about naval boundaries and military technique in the XVI century, Angiolini sheds light on the alternate fortune of Piombino and its masters, the Appiani, during the early modern age. Piombino depended on the position of a sea border that changed up and down the Tirreno following the Spanish action against the Ottoman and African ships.
The second part of the volume hosts four essays about cultural models between Italy and Spain. Jean Canavaggio writes about the Italian experience of Miguel Cervantes (Tradición culta y experiencia viva: Don Quijote y los agorreros), considering his peculiar approach to religion and superstition. Pierre Civil reflects about Sentiment religieux et Contre-Réforme: modèles de sainteté entre l'Espagne et Italie, mostly examining the production of portraits of Ignacio de Loyola. While in Italy the painters tried to be very realistic (even if the Jesuit never wanted to be portrayed), in Spain they circulated an ideal image to establish the reasons for his canonization. Going back to politics, ceremonies and parades were the most evident aspect of the power representation, as Teresa Ferrer Valls shows in her text about Las entradas reales en tiempos de Felipe II. Many Italian cities received Charles V as well as Philip II, hoisting artificial arcs of triumph, tournaments and other kind of feasts. Through symbols and allegories, it was a scenic mix of urban self-representation and royal power. In the last essay, analyzing the Teatro aureo nel canone italiano ed europeo, Maria Grazia Profeti shows the influence of Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca on many Italian and French authors: Molière, Corneille and Voltaire and some Italian contemporary writers owe many suggestions to them and to their classical theatre.
Blythe Alice Raviola