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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TheButterflyComposer

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Depends, I suppose, on what italy wants next. Do they want the south of france, a bit of germany for themselves, the muslims pushed out of europe, some african lands???

All good picks but they need various different friends to do it. I suspect they probably will decide to go into the balkans eventually and split it with austria (or trade help with seizing the HRE back and fending off rival kingdoms with the entire balkans) but that would require not only fighting the ottomans but the polish as well.

So yes, italy has loads of options but will have to fight hard, whatever they choose.
 

Nikolai

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That is a lot of warring and winning with little gain for Italy.
 

Maximus101

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Just read this all the way through. Excellent writing.

I greatly enjoy how you don't just blindly glorify the events that occur and provide a perspective on the cruelty and how it affects the people around. It helps it read like real history, which of course helps it feel like a real narrative. It is also nice to seen in game events that people usually click quickly past have a weight of personality to them.

I do look forward to the Catholic League turning east. I assume it'll be against the Ottomans, since Gian Gastone's need for Gloria means he'll want to show up the Ottomans after the war in the 1640s and 'show up' the 'failure' of Alessandro di Ferrari. I imagine Crown Prince Francesco's tutelage under Ferrari will provide usual insights into the terrain and people of the Balkans if the Italians make a move there.

A war against the Ottomans would also be a big political moment between the different merchant factions. It depends on how it plays out, as the mercantilist Atlantic faction may push for war hoping it'll disrupt trade bankrupt enough for the free holders to increase their influence, or the Mediterranean faction may use the war to increase the stranglehold of Italian merchants. Depends who plays better I guess.

The year of prosperity and lack of war on Italian soil also seem like it'll lead to a surplus of population to try their luck in the colonies. Though Italy is a lot more urban, so maybe the population will concentrate in the cities.

I do wonder if dismantling the HRE is in the minds of the Catholic League? Unless Catholicism regains control of it, it is now a Protestant institution providing a possible rally point for the Germans. France and Poland may see it in their interests just to break it is simply to allow them to mess around without worrying of a sudden strong Emperor being a threat to their interests. Of course that would require also fighting Saxony.

Once again, a good read. Thank you.
 

JerseyGiants88

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Chapter 56: Brazil, 1662-1666

While Italy enjoyed a period of prolonged stability and prosperity, an unprecedented series of events across the Atlantic were to have world-historical importance. Since 1497, as part of the territory granted by the Papacy in the Treaty of Tordesillas, Portugal had ruled over the lands collectively called Portuguese Brazil. The French had also colonized Brazil, holding the lands in the region of Maranhão. However, the richest lands remained in the hands of the Crown of Portugal.

After initial attempts to find gold and silver failed, the Portuguese colonists adopted a tobacco, cotton, and sugar-based economy. Within a short period, sugar became by far the most important Brazilian colonial product. The first sugarcane farms were established in the mid-16th Century and were the key for the success of the captaincies of São Vicente and Pernambuco, leading sugarcane plantations to quickly spread to other coastal areas in colonial Brazil. Initially, the Portuguese attempted to utilize Indian slaves for sugar cultivation but shifted to the use of black African slave labor. Portuguese colonies along the West African coast provided the laborers, who were either directly captured or bought from African merchants. These slaves were then sent by ship to Brazil, chained and in crowded conditions. The idea of using African slaves in colonial farms based on monoculture was also adopted by other European colonial powers in the New World (Spain in New Granada, England in Cuba and the Carolinas, France in Mexico and Louisiana, and Italy in the Leeward and Windward Islands).



Colonial Brazil

The Portuguese Crown attempted to severely restrict colonial trade, meaning that Brazil was only allowed to export and import goods from Portugal and other Portuguese colonies. Brazil exported sugar, tobacco, cotton, and native products and imported from Portugal wine, olive oil, textiles, and luxury goods (with the latter imported by Portugal from other European countries). Africa played an essential role as the supplier of slaves, and Brazilian slave traders in Africa frequently exchanged cachaça, a distilled spirit derived from sugarcane, and shells, for slaves. These exchanges collectively comprised the Portuguese version of the “Triangular Trade” between Europe, Africa, and the Americas during the colonial period. Merchants during the sugar age were crucial to the economic development of the colony, serving as the link between the sugar production areas, coastal Portuguese cities, and Europe. Despite the restrictions on imports and exports, the merchants themselves came from many nations, including Germans, Flemings, and Italians, though Portuguese merchants came to dominate the trade in Brazil.


Even though Brazilian sugar was reputed as being of high quality, by the mid-17th Century, the industry faced a crisis when the Italians, the French, and the English started producing sugar in the Caribbean islands, located much closer to Europe, causing sugar prices to fall. The government in Lisbon, however, did not respond to the crisis with any measures to help their own merchants. Instead, court officials insisted on maintaining restrictions and levying ever-increasing tariffs and taxes. This led to a general economic decline throughout Brazil, which in turn led to failed plantations which were either reclaimed by the formerly cleared rain forest or else settled on by
de facto freedmen left behind when their masters’ failed ventures caused the latter to return to Portugal or move elsewhere within the colony. Idle slaves were considered a critical threat by the colonial elites in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. Indeed, fears of large-scale slave revolts, and perceived Portuguese inaction to the threat, were one of the key catalysts towards independence.


The pressure of the Iberian War in Europe (1650-54) only added to the colony’s troubles. With enemy armies overrunning the homeland, King António I passed the Tax Act in 1653 to pay for Portuguese military expenditures. To their credit, most colonists accepted these as necessary expenses, especially since a great deal of them still had familial or emotional ties to the mother country. However, there was an implicit understanding that these new taxes were temporary. However, by 1661, nearly seven years after the war’s conclusion, the taxes remained in place. When King António issued a proclamation later that year making the taxes permanent, the first ripples of rebellion began to form in Brazil. This introduced a new principle of a direct and permanent internal tax. Brazilians began to question the extent of the Portuguese government's power in the New World, and the colonial captaincies argued that they had exclusive right to impose taxes within their jurisdictions. Colonists of aristocratic extraction especially condemned the tax because their rights as members of the Portuguese nobility protected them from being taxed unless the taxes were approved by a specially convened Cortes.

Enforcing the tax acts proved difficult. In the summer of 1662, the semi-arid regions around Fortaleza experienced a drought. As a result, the price of bread and other staple good began to climb rapidly. Reports that a large sum of taxed gold were being held in a vault in Fortalezza led to a mob storming the colonial office. No colonial officials were hurt, but the mob got the gold and absconded with it. When news of the “riot” reached Lisbon, the king ordered punitive measures. The colonial authorities closed the ports of Bahia, Rio, Sergpipe, and Filipeia until the gold was returned. Additionally, the royal governor was granted powers to undermine local autonomy. Further measures allowed the extradition of “rebels” for trial elsewhere in the Empire, if the governor felt that a fair trial could not be secured locally. The act's vague caused colonists argued that it would allow officials to harass them with impunity. Further laws allowed the governor to billet troops in private property without permission. This was initially viewed as an insulting, if largely irrelevant measure, until a Portuguese army arrived in the colony to “keep the peace”. The colonists referred to the measures as the “Intolerable Acts” and argued that their rights were being violated. The acts were widely opposed, driving neutral parties into support of more extreme measures.


The colonists responded by establishing the
Congresso Nacional do Brasil, effectively removing Crown control of the colony outside the colonial capital of Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, representatives from over 20 colonial provinces met in Bahia to respond to the crisis. The Congresso narrowly rejected a proposal to create a Brazilian Cortes to act in concert with the Portuguese government. Instead, they passed a compact declaring a trade boycott against Portugal. The Congresso also affirmed that the Crown of Portugal had no authority over internal Brazilian matters, but they were willing to consent to trade regulations for the benefit of the empire, and they authorized committees and conventions to enforce the boycott. The boycott was effective, as imports from Portugal dropped by 97% in the first quarter of 1663 compared to 1662.

Lisbon refused to yield. In March of 1663, it declared Bahia and Filipeia to be in a state of rebellion and enforced a blockade of their ports. The crown’s threats to expand the blockade and accusations of rebellion backfired when other cities and towns issued proclamations supporting Bahia and Filipeia and began sending food and supplies to lessen the impact of the blockade. When Brazilian ships attempting to run the blockade were interdicted, their cargo was seized, and their crews imprisoned. These increasing tensions led to a mutual scramble for ordnance and pushed the colonies toward open war.


In the cities and in the countryside, individual colonists increasingly took matters into their own hands. Officials were beaten and expelled from several key towns, their offices ransacked in the process. The Portuguese army remained in Rio but pressure from the governor and the government back in Lisbon soon caused them to take harsher measures. The situation boiled over in June of 1663, when soldiers fired on a crowd protesting high bread prices in the city center. Six people were killed, including a young woman and a small boy, with several others wounded. This incident, known as the Rio Massacre, sparked outrage in the rest of the colony. By the end of the month, the previously cautious and conservative
Congresso dropped its calls for cooperation with the home country and instead declared independence.

Gian Gastone I decided to support the insurgents with money and weapons. Whether out of genuine long-term strategic vision or simply as a way to spite his in-laws in the Portuguese royal family, the King of Italy began what would be a long and fruitful period of Italian engagement in South America. The king dispatched his old friend, Enzo Boncompagni, to the New World to coordinate Italian-Brazilian cooperation. The 61-year-old former foreign minister and admiral fully immersed himself into his new task. He became particularly close with Gaspar Ferreira Martins, the lead diplomat for the nascent rebel state. With Boncompagni’s guidance, Martins was able to establish a surprisingly effective diplomatic corps, which kept Portugal isolated in its efforts to recover its Brazilian territories. The most significant coup was the secret agreement with Spain, signed by Queen Ana I and the rebel leader (and future Grand Consul) Alexandre de Vilhena, that kept Spain from interfering in the conflict in exchange for Brazil recognizing the legitimacy of all Spanish colonies on the continent. Boncompagni’s experience with developing and running a navy helped Brazil’s nascent maritime forces also better prepare themselves.

Regardless of the support they received from Italy and a handful of other European powers, the Brazilians’ victory was their own. In a series of outcomes that would have seemed preposterous before independence war began, the rag tag Brazilian colonial militia was whipped into top shape. This reformed and improved force was then able to defeat and destroy every Portuguese expedition to make landfall on their shores. Organized and trained by the forward thinking Gonçalo de Souto and led into battle by the skilled general Luis de Almeida, the Brazilian army proved its mettle time and again. By the time Almeida led his men to victory against the Portuguese at the Battle of Pirajá on 3 January 1665, the government in Lisbon knew their hopes for recovering Brazil were all but lost.

As a result of the War of Independence, Brazil became the first independent state in the New World to emerge out of Europe’s colonial empires. The Treaty of Lisbon, signed on 6 April 1665, officially created the Grand Republic of Brazil, with Alexandre de Vilhena elected overwhelmingly as Grand Consul, to serve a 5-year term. Almeida remained the top ranking general in the army (and he would later succeed Vilhena as Grand Consul) while de Souto took over the War Ministry. Martins was named foreign minister, continuing the work he and Boncompagni had begun to establish the country’s diplomatic corps. Jorge de Queiróz, a Jesuit priest who was key in spreading popular support for independence among the initially skeptical rural peasantry, was named Interior Minister. For Enzo Boncompagni, Brazil was yet one more victory to add to a growing list of career accomplishments that catapulted him into the top ranks of illustrious Italian statesmen.



South America after the Treaty of Lisbon (1665)


Coat of Arms of the Grand Republic of Brazil


The Italian alliance with Brazil

The independence of Brazil had a great impact on Italy’s New World colonies. In every European capital—and Florence was no exception—governments began to look with greater suspicion at their overseas subjects. Everyone wondering who would be the next to fall to a wave of independence movements. Having had a closer look at the independence process in Brazil, Italy became proactive in ensuring their colonists remained satisfied.


On the North American mainland, the colony of New Italy was thriving. By 1665, nearly 10,000 settlers inhabited the colony. Most of these lived in and around the towns of Nuova Arca and Weehawken in the north around Nuova Arca Bay, or in the south around Santa Matilde and Monte Ciliegia in the Delaware Valley. In addition to these four major settlements, were numerous trade posts, farmsteads with multiple families living on them, and fishing villages along the rivers and streams. A major colony of escaped slaves from the Italian Indies and other plantation colonies was growing at Paolo’s Hook, just about seven kilometers south of Weehawken. Further up the Hudson River, and only a few kilometers south of the official border with the British colony of New York, was Alpina, the main Italian New World settlement for religious minorities. Founded as a refuge for persecuted Italian Calvinists, the colony had received an infusion of settlers following the infamous Piedmontese Easter massacres of 1647. In addition to Calvinists, significant communities of Italian Lutherans and Jews could be found by the 1660s. In the southern part of the colony, along the Atlantic coast, the port and trade depot of Città del Atlantico was already growing to challenge Philadelphia, New York, and Nuova Arca as the major trade hub in the region.

Ever since the Pequot War of 1622-23, relations between the colonists and the natives had remained largely stable and, with a few notable exceptions, peaceful. Sometimes violent disputes did occur between groups from each side, but there was no large-scale, organized conflict. The 1623 Treaty of Quinnipiac had largely remained in force. The Lenape, Pequots, Mohegans, and Narragansets were technically subject peoples of the Crown of Italy, but in practical day-to-day terms, their lives remained largely unaffected. Vast areas of the colony remained untouched by Europeans, and aside from restrictions on trade with other European powers, the colonial authorities had largely taken a hands-off approach towards the natives. This followed the express desires of Florence, where the king and his councilors were eager to keep the colony peaceful, quiet, and profitable.

The property system that developed in the North American Italian colonies was much different than the plantation-based society in the West Indies. A sort of manorial system developed there, representing a semi-feudal system of land tenure. Both in nominal and legal terms, all Italian territorial claims in North America belonged to the Italian king. However, it was not the Italian monarch who imposed feudal land tenure on New Italy and the king’s actual attachment to these lands was very indirect. Instead, landlords were allotted land holdings known as
signorie by the governors of their respective colonial provinces. The colonial authorities had great leeway and they presided over the Italian colonial agricultural system in North America.

Similarly to Europe, the lord of the manor rented most of the land to tenants, known as
abitanti, who cleared the land, built houses and other buildings, and farmed the land. A smaller portion of the land was kept as a demesne (land owned by the manorial lord and farmed by his family or by hired labor) which was economically significant in the early days of settlement, though less thereafter. Manorial land tenure in New Italy differed somewhat from its counterpart in the Old World; the manorial lords of New Italy were not always nobles, though many were. Fiefs in North America were granted to military officers and – as in Italy – many were owned by the Catholic clergy. However, the system was feudal in the sense that there was a clear displacement of wealth happening from tenants to their landlords, which was not at all based on market forces (as land was plentiful and labor was not), but rather a system institutionalized by the crown.

The lands were arranged in long narrow strips called
signorie, or fiefs, along the banks of the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, their estuaries (most prominently the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers), and other key transit features. This physical layout of manorial property developed as a means of maximizing ease of transit, commerce, and communication by using natural waterways and the relatively few roads. A desirable plot had to be directly bordering or in very close proximity to a river system, which limited plot-expansion.

King Gian Gastone I’s contribution was to institute a condition on the land stating that it would be forfeited unless it was cleared within a certain period of time. This condition kept the land from being sold by the
signore, leading instead to its being sub-granted to peasant farmers, the abitanti. When an abitante was granted the title deed to a lot, he had to agree to accept a variety of annual charges and restrictions. Rent was the most important of these and could be set in money, produce, or labor. Once this rent was set, it could not be altered, neither due to inflation nor time. An abitante was essentially free to develop his land as he wished, with only a few obligations to his signore. Likewise, a signore did not have many responsibilities towards his abitanti. The signore was obligated to build a gristmill for his tenants, and they in turn were required to grind their grain there and provide the signore with one sack of flour out of every fourteen.

The key difference between the feudal system in Italy compared to the New World lay in the control, or lack thereof, by the landlord over his tenants. Though the demands of the
signori could become significant at times, they could never obtain enough resources from the abitanti to become truly wealthy, nor leave their tenants in poverty. Abitanti were free individuals and signori simply owned a “bundle of specific and limited rights over productive activity within that territory.” The signoreabitante relationship was one where both parties were owners of the land, who split the attributes of ownership between them. If an abitante was displeased with his landlord, he could simply move to an area owned by another. The contracts always included, by law, the most crucial distinction between Italy’s New World “feudalism” and its real version in Europe: namely, that after a certain period of time, the abitante possessed a right to buy his plot of land, valued at the same rate as the time when the agreement was first signed. As a result, thanks often to inflation, successful farmers were de facto guaranteed to eventually own their land, so long as they kept it productive. Thus, by the 1660s, the percentage of independent yeoman farmers had tripled from the 1620s. Furthermore, in the New World, the signore had no obligation to provide protection to the abitanti in the way that a feudal lord traditionally was obligated to protect the peasants on his land. As a result, all citizens of the colony were authorized to carry arms for protection. While this saved money and resources for the signore, it also meant that in the lightly governed colonies, the abitanti were on more equal footing to their landlords.

The goods produced on the North American mainland complemented those of the Caribbean islands. The latter produced for Italy sugar and coffee, the former, the highly prized furs that helped keep Florence, Milan, and Naples at the forefront of European fashion. Both regions produced tobacco. These commodities, along with tomatoes, had transformed Italian culture and were continuing to grow in popularity. Coffee and sugar went hand in hand. In any urbane center on the Italian peninsula, it was considered a mark of low birth to sweeten foods with honey instead of sugar. Fur hats and other accessories remained popular at every court on the Old Continent.



North American furs were prized by connoisseurs of European fashion


Major trade goods in Italian North America

The biggest cash crop, as far as the Italian treasury was concerned, was tobacco. Even more than sugar, its popularity and regular consumption by the population at large made it highly profitable. In May of 1664, Gian Gastone I issued a new set of tariffs on the plant, increasing revenue significantly. This did not deter tobacco use, which continued to grow regardless of price.



A gentleman smoking his pipe


Tariffs on tobacco were highly profitable for the Italian treasury

Tobacco, not without some controversy, had spread to every corner of society. It was smoked by everyone from the king (Gian Gastone I claimed tobacco smoke was the only way to settle his stomach after a large feast) on down to the lowest peasant. Indeed, Jean-Guy Dubost, the French consul in Naples, commented how: “It is a more common custom with the lower order of people, however, rather than with the nobility, who are less given to it, after dinner or at public houses, when they are transacting business of any kind, to take tobacco and smoke, so there does not pass a day in which the artisans do not indulge themselves in going to the public houses, which are exceedingly numerous, neglecting their work, however urgent it may be.” Cardinal Ettore Molza, Archbishop of Modena, commented in a letter to a fellow clergyman how in his part of the realm he observed, “everyone, men and women, young and old, puffing tobacco, which is here so common that the young children get it in the morning instead of breakfast, and almost prefer it to bread.” There were many reasons for the popularity of tobacco. Mostly it was for sheer enjoyment, but tobacco was also thought by many to be healthy. It was believed to give the smoker a clear voice, a sweet breath, clear sight, good hearing, and a better sense of smell. That is without adding the fact that smoking was thought to be a strong prophylactic against plague. Tobacco was mostly smoked through disposal clay pipes, that were good for four to five uses only but were also relatively cheap.



Seventeenth Century clay pipes

One of Gian Gastone’s final actions was to bring his cousin, Cardinal Camillo dé Medici-Castellina, back into Florence’s service. Cardinal dé Medici, as he was commonly known, brought a thorough understanding of Vatican politics to Florence. His years spent serving the Pope both in Rome and abroad as a Papal Nuncio, would make him an important asset in future Italian foreign policy ventures. Of course, the old but still ambitious cardinal was not content to be a minister in the service of the Italian king, he had dreams of higher office for himself as well. He, along with Toscani, Cornaro Piscopia, and others would form a crucial bridge across the reigns of Gian Gastone and his son.




Camillo dé Medici-Castellina as Cardinal-Minister of Italy

For all the faults historians point out in him, the late years of Gian Gastone I’s reign were seen, by contemporaries, as a period of unprecedented stability and general welfare. For the common person, far detached from court intrigue and ambitious foreign policy gambits, the “Happy Monarch” as he came to be known, represented a beacon of a better future. Whatever his faults, the king knew how to pick his advisors and councilors and deserves some credit for the forward thinking policies they helped implement. For example, under the steady and patient stewardship of Interior Minister Elena Cornaro Piscopia, famine had become nearly unheard of in Italy. This is not to say that people did not still go to bed hungry, but the old pattern of crop failures leading to mass starvation in entire regions of the peninsula were largely a thing of the past. This enhanced food security was underpinned by the increasingly lucrative overseas trade. Among other things, Italian support for Brazilian independence suddenly gave the country’s merchants preferred access among all European states to Brazil’s key exports of sugar, tobacco, and cotton.


The late period of Gian Gastone I’s reign coincided with a rise in overall happiness in Italy

The era of good feelings was embraced by the monarch himself as much as anyone else. Even into his sixties, the king remained an active hunter and athlete. By the 1660s he had dispensed with his brief period of chaste sobriety following the Iberian War and was back in full swing as a jolly, fun loving monarch. He continued to participate in brutal, physically demanding matches of
Calcio Fiorentino up until the very end of his life. A true lover of the sport, Gian Gastone funded the creation of teams across Italy, spreading the sport from a Florentine phenomenon to an Italian-wide one. By 1665, there were organized calcio leagues in Milan, Bologna, Modena, Turin, Brescia, Genoa, Verona, Naples, Palermo, and Rome. In a particularly celebrated event, Crown Prince Francesco travelled to Florence with his recently created Napoli team to face the Santa Croce Azzurri, captained by his father, the king. After some initial confusion when both teams arrived on the field with blue shirts (this was resolved by Napoli players going shirtless), the match was, by all accounts, thrilling until the end when Santa Croce pulled away for a convincing win.


Calcio Fiorentino match played in Florence. Gian Gastone I helped popularize the game throughout Italy


Colors of the original four teams from the Florentine quartieri (clockwise from top left): Santo Spirito, San Giovanni, Santa Croce, and Santa Maria Novella.

Still, the energetic king soon proved to be human after all. On 27 February 1666, Gian Gastone I, King of Italy and Defender of the Faith, died. He told his servants that he meant to take a nap, sat down on a bench in a hallway of the Palazzo Pitti, and simply slumped over. At his death, Gian Gastone I was 63 years old and had reigned for 24 years and 21 days. The king left behind a mixed legacy. He led the kingdom to great victories against Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, but he never truly earned the renown as a warrior king that he so desperately sought. He used and discarded mistresses with little regard for anything but his own pleasure, yet he also promoted women into unprecedented heights of power within his regime. He fully embraced the trans-Atlantic slave trade and all its attendant horrors, yet he maintained a policy of benign tolerance toward the American natives. He disdained religion yet financed the construction of great cathedrals. He enjoyed consulting fortune tellers and reading tarot cards, but he also helped fuel the rise of the Enlightenment by founding and supporting the
Academia del Cimento and the myriad brilliant minds within that institution’s orbit. Gian Gastone’s historical reputation was likely a victim of the fact that he reigned between Italy’s two greatest kings: his uncle Alberto and his son Francesco. While it is true that Francesco II would lead Italy to unprecedented heights of greatness, outshining his father both as a ruler and as a military commander, it was all made possible by the foundation of stability and prosperity that Gian Gastone bequeathed to his son.

Perhaps Gian Gastone’s legacy is best summed up by Ginevra Toscani, his longtime Minister of War and closest confidant. Writing in her memoirs years later, Toscani wrote: “Other kings have inspired more respect, but perhaps only Girolamo the Magnificent had endeared himself to the popular imagination as much as this one. He was the playboy monarch, naughty but nice, the hero of all who prized urbanity, tolerance, good humor, and the pursuit of pleasure above the more earnest, sober, or material virtues. Gian Gastone was universally beloved—perhaps not always by the crowd of elite individuals with whom he came in contact—but always thoroughly popular with the mass of his subjects, and particularly with the poorer populace of Florence, who knew him best.”
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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The support of brazil should prove useful and was a very good idea. Now all large colonies in the new world are threats, allowing Italy to catch up but also distract all their rivals from power plays on the continent and Med, Italy's true goals.
 

Casko

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Awesome Update.
And I must say the map of South America you have there is quite nice and clean thus far, and not like the odd patchwork it could be, which I appreciate. Did you edit any colonies at all? or did AI actually manage to keep the map that clean on its own?
 

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Just read this all the way through. Excellent writing.

I greatly enjoy how you don't just blindly glorify the events that occur and provide a perspective on the cruelty and how it affects the people around. It helps it read like real history, which of course helps it feel like a real narrative. It is also nice to seen in game events that people usually click quickly past have a weight of personality to them.
Thank you. In addition to being a fan of EUIV, I also love reading about the time period the game covers. The 1600s in particular are a fascinating yet overlooked time in history. There was tons of change, globalization, etc, etc. But along with that came the reality that all this change also caused massive suffering and hardship to regular people. I enjoy reading histories that include descriptions of how people in that particular time lived and I like adding that same flavor to the AAR.

The support of brazil should prove useful and was a very good idea. Now all large colonies in the new world are threats, allowing Italy to catch up but also distract all their rivals from power plays on the continent and Med, Italy's true goals.
Italy will continue to get more involved in South America over the long term. There may be more revolutions brewing.

Awesome Update.
And I must say the map of South America you have there is quite nice and clean thus far, and not like the odd patchwork it could be, which I appreciate. Did you edit any colonies at all? or did AI actually manage to keep the map that clean on its own?
No, that map happened "organically". I had barely even glanced at South America before I noticed that Portugal was at war in Brazil. I couldn't pass up the chance to support some New World freedom fighters. I also like that Spain failed to conquer all of Peru and there are a couple of respectable native kingdoms that survived the wave of colonialism.
 

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No, that map happened "organically". I had barely even glanced at South America before I noticed that Portugal was at war in Brazil. I couldn't pass up the chance to support some New World freedom fighters. I also like that Spain failed to conquer all of Peru and there are a couple of respectable native kingdoms that survived the wave of colonialism.
My, that's quite a shocker TBH.
And indeed those Native Kingdoms are also a curious case indeed. Here's wishing that they decide to convert to one true faith so they may reform and westernize as well.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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My, that's quite a shocker TBH.
And indeed those Native Kingdoms are also a curious case indeed. Here's wishing that they decide to convert to one true faith so they may reform and westernize as well.
Would be funny for the US to spawn and then get kicked off the continent by westernised native powers.
 

Casko

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Would be funny for the US to spawn and then get kicked off the continent by westernised native powers.
if only Native AI was able to do that ; _ ;
unfortunately that won't happen unless US AI borks even harder than standard Native AI, or heavy player intervention is used, with by minimum the Native countries are converted to some form of Christianity by player.
 

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Gian Gastone will surely be regarded as a complicated figure. He oversaw a time of peace and prosperity in Italy but led his people into violent war. He'll have a very different in Italy then outside of it.

Interesting to see something similar to New France's seigneurial system being used here, though it makes sense to use the rivers. Given the new seemingly cooperative attitude with the first nations it seems like the original New France.

I wonder what influences Brazil will have on Italy, besides possible conflict with France and Britain (since they weren't included in Queen Ana's secret agreement). Maybe the independence war over taxation and trade regulations will weaken the position of the Mercantilist faction. Also I suppose having a republic function on such a grand scale may give people some ideas, especially if the Medici or other houses forget to keep in mind the people.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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I am interested in the hints that the next ruler is a great conqueror and military leader. Now...where is being conquered?
 

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I am interested in the hints that the next ruler is a great conqueror and military leader. Now...where is being conquered?
Considering few hints our glorious Writer has been giving us lately, its most likely either Balkans, Greece, or North Africa such as Tunis. As I doubt Italy is quite ready to conquer Southern France, or go sailing against Spain and take the Spanish Mediterranean coast to its direct control.
 

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Considering few hints our glorious Writer has been giving us lately, its most likely either Balkans, Greece, or North Africa such as Tunis. As I doubt Italy is quite ready to conquer Southern France, or go sailing against Spain and take the Spanish Mediterranean coast to its direct control.
So either a mini crusade (good for PR) or finally choosing a side between France and Austria in favour of the former (the right decision I feel, because it's much easier to take over half of the Austrian empire than half of France and get away with it).
 

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I just wanted to add a quick update: things have been slow on the AAR front thanks to the arrival of a new addition to our family. My wife just recently gave birth to our third child (and first daughter) and as any of you with kids know, the first few weeks involve little fun and even less sleep. Our first two kids are 3 and a half and 1 and a half, respectively, so things are quite busy. I have still managed to get most of of the next chapter completed so I am going to try to get it up soon-ish. The good news, for the purposes of this AAR, is that my job offers very excellent parental leave (by US standards) so I am hoping to use a lot of this extended time off to get back into a groove of updating regularly, especially once the initial chaos of the first few weeks with a new baby settles down.

Thanks everyone for your patience and for continuing to read when I do post. And now, to your comments...

My, that's quite a shocker TBH.
And indeed those Native Kingdoms are also a curious case indeed. Here's wishing that they decide to convert to one true faith so they may reform and westernize as well.
if only Native AI was able to do that ; _ ;
unfortunately that won't happen unless US AI borks even harder than standard Native AI, or heavy player intervention is used, with by minimum the Native countries are converted to some form of Christianity by player.
A few of the natives have converted to Catholicism but thus far have not Westernized. Also, as far as borders go, North and South America look great, but Northeast Asia...yikes. Just as one example, Korea is a Big Blue Blob but only has one province left on the actual Korean Peninsula.

Gian Gastone will surely be regarded as a complicated figure. He oversaw a time of peace and prosperity in Italy but led his people into violent war. He'll have a very different in Italy then outside of it.

Interesting to see something similar to New France's seigneurial system being used here, though it makes sense to use the rivers. Given the new seemingly cooperative attitude with the first nations it seems like the original New France.

I wonder what influences Brazil will have on Italy, besides possible conflict with France and Britain (since they weren't included in Queen Ana's secret agreement). Maybe the independence war over taxation and trade regulations will weaken the position of the Mercantilist faction. Also I suppose having a republic function on such a grand scale may give people some ideas, especially if the Medici or other houses forget to keep in mind the people.
New France's seigneurial system was indeed what I based my colonial governance system on. Ditto with the cooperation with the natives. As for South America, there will be plenty of involvement there going forward, and not just with Brazil. By the start of the 1700s, there will be a couple more new states to join Brazil there.

I am interested in the hints that the next ruler is a great conqueror and military leader. Now...where is being conquered?
Considering few hints our glorious Writer has been giving us lately, its most likely either Balkans, Greece, or North Africa such as Tunis. As I doubt Italy is quite ready to conquer Southern France, or go sailing against Spain and take the Spanish Mediterranean coast to its direct control.
So either a mini crusade (good for PR) or finally choosing a side between France and Austria in favour of the former (the right decision I feel, because it's much easier to take over half of the Austrian empire than half of France and get away with it).
You will find out the answer to the question of "where?" in the chapter once I get to it. Most of you seem to be on the right track though.
 

Casko

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I just wanted to add a quick update: things have been slow on the AAR front thanks to the arrival of a new addition to our family. My wife just recently gave birth to our third child (and first daughter) and as any of you with kids know, the first few weeks involve little fun and even less sleep. Our first two kids are 3 and a half and 1 and a half, respectively, so things are quite busy. I have still managed to get most of of the next chapter completed so I am going to try to get it up soon-ish. The good news, for the purposes of this AAR, is that my job offers very excellent parental leave (by US standards) so I am hoping to use a lot of this extended time off to get back into a groove of updating regularly, especially once the initial chaos of the first few weeks with a new baby settles down.
I assure you, there is no rush :) After all, its better be slow and steady, than dead and buried. more so with AAR of this quality you've been writing for us thus far.

A few of the natives have converted to Catholicism but thus far have not Westernized. Also, as far as borders go, North and South America look great, but Northeast Asia...yikes. Just as one example, Korea is a Big Blue Blob but only has one province left on the actual Korean Peninsula.
YIKES on Asia.
 

Nikolai

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So many comgratulations on your third child! What a blessing. :)
 

leon-dor

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COOL AAR I live near Firenze and you made me want to do a playthrough with it which i never did so far. Can't wait to see the next update!:)
 

JerseyGiants88

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Chapter 57: “Every Nation Has a Purpose”, 1666-1670


Italy and her overseas territories in 1666

1666 was contentious year to crown a new King of Italy. Many commentators across Europe remarked on the significance of the year. Francesco II was cursed, some said. Others, like the Neapolitan painter and satirist Salvator Rosa, simply feared it was an ill omen for his great patron (Rosa was just one of numerous southern Italian artists to enjoy the beneficence and patronage of the king). In London, the printers of the more militant factions of the Cromwellian political milieu were turning out pamphlets calling the new King of Italy the anti-Crist. He was particularly loathed by the Fifth Monarchists, an extreme Puritan sect that took their name from a prophecy in the Book of Daniel that four ancient monarchies (Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman) would precede the kingdom of Christ. They considered the year 1666, because of its relationship to the biblical “Number of the Beast” to indicate the end of earthly rule by carnal human beings. The new monarch of an aggressive Catholic power was the perfect candidate for the anti-Christ role. Francesco remained a hated figure in Great Britain throughout his reign, even after the rapture failed to occur in 1666. Even in Italy, there was trepidation among the populace over potential ill omens and curses. After all, they had just enjoyed a long period of prosperity and calm under Gian Gastone I. The change in monarch could very well usher in a change in Italy’s fortunes as well.


Il Sogno di Enea by Salvator Rosa was commissioned by Francesco II when he was still Prince of Naples

The debate about the cursed nature of Francesco II’s reign, and the question of whether or not he was the anti-Christ, was reignited two years later as one of the many “interpretations” of the Great Comet of 1668. More importantly, this was the first comet ever discovered by telescope by the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch on 16 January 1668. Kirch observed it from his roof in Coburg, and it became one of the brightest comets of the Seventeenth Century, said to have been visible even in daytime.



The Great Comet of 1668 was considered an omen for the new king’s reign, though whether it was meant to be positive or negative was up to the interpreter

However, a different sort of concern existed in Florence itself. Francesco, despite being a Medici, had never truly lived in the capital aside from one or two brief sojourns. He spoke with the accent of the southern nobility, as he split his teens and twenties between Naples and Rome. The fact that the latter city was, technically, a foreign capital only added to Florentines’ suspicions. They were about to go from a king who walked their streets daily to one who was essentially a stranger.

The fears of the Florentines proved to be for naught. Rumors that, because of his childhood, Francesco hated Florence and “wishes to burn it down” (in the frantic words of the prolific diarist Lorenzo dé Bardi) proved unfounded. The king settled well into his new surroundings and took the opportunity to embrace a new culture. He eased his way into ruling, and largely stayed out of local politics. When the king was ceremonially inaugurated as Gonfaloniere of the Republic of Florence, he declared to the Assembly: “my opinion on any matter of Florentine politics will be known only if this body as a whole determines to seek my counsel. I otherwise defer to the citizenry and their chosen leaders, whom I trust to administer their own city.”

Even in the matters of his royal government, the king did not make many meaningful changes. The Council he inherited from Gian Gastone I remained largely the same with the exception of three of Francesco’s Roman and Neapolitan companions: Rosario de Gaspari, Amilcare Furio, and Giovanni Battista Veneroso. These three were given important posts in the various ministries and helped provide good counsel to their sovereign. However, the heads of the Interior Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and War Ministry all remained as before. This included the foreign minister, Gioachino Gori, whom the king privately detested.



Francesco II kept his father’s government largely intact

Francesco II was, by temperament and personality, a very different man from his father. He spent hours each day “up to his neck in books,” according to Ginevra Toscani. He read everything that came to hand, “books of criticism, gallantry, satire, and curiosities, manuscript reports on the geography, customs, and inhabitants of countries in every part of the world.” Francesco disdained the luxuries his father loved. He spent most of his time in a cramped, spartan office in the Palazzo Vecchio, reading history books, studying maps, analyzing intelligence reports, and working through an endless stream of correspondence. The king wrote many documents to other heads of state and his own military commanders. These were delivered personally by armed teams of soldiers specially entrusted with the duty or else by the captains of Naval vessels. Other letters were personal, musing on the king and his counterparts’ subjects of interest. He wrote regularly to the biologist and physician Marcello Malpighi, regularly sending samples brought back by Italians from the New World to Malpighi’s laboratory at the University of Bologna. Francesco also corresponded extensively with the Sicilian botanist Paolo Boccone, whom he consulted for ideas for improving the diversity of flora in the Bobboli Gardens. Beyond Italy, he exchanged letters with the English natural philosopher, architect, and polymath Robert Hooke; the Dutch physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and inventor Christiaan Huygens; and the German theologian, diplomat, and natural philosopher Heinrich Oldenburg. It was from Oldenburg, whom Francesco invited to Florence and Bologna in 1669, that the concept of scientific peer review proliferated among Italian institutes of higher learning, including the royal Accademia del Cimento. The king’s continued heavy investment in state institutions of natural sciences and higher learning, bore fruit in the form of technological and scientific advancements.


State investment in institutions like the Accademia del Cimento were bearing fruit for the state

This love of learning and polite conversation was grounded in the stern, yet sophisticated upbringing provided by his mother, Queen Carlota Luisa. The Queen lived a remarkably turbulent life for a woman who was queen of Italy and the mother of the heirs to the kingdom. She was forced into a sort of country exile for several periods of time. Nevertheless, Carlota Luisa was always able to keep a hold on her children, never losing control over their upbringing and education. In the world Carlota Luisa constructed for her family, she had a long set of rules. For example, the boys’ hair should not be allowed to grow too long and be kept well groomed. “Cleanliness is a quality much to be recommended in a young prince,” the queen wrote in an instruction book she left behind for her children. Nails were to be kept short and clean and hands washed regularly with soap and perfumes. The queen strongly encouraged all her children to swim, just as the Greeks swam when fishing. And that role-model of energy, Gian Gastone I, owed his health to frequent swimming. Despite the lack of love and warmth between the royal couple, Carlota Luisa never actively sought to turn her children against their father. Instructions for reading reflected the prevalent political climate. An interest in history was to be deliberately encouraged by Francesco’s reading matter. He also studied books about the provinces and towns of Italy, so to better learn his diverse realm. While the queen may have been a serious and strict woman, she encouraged in her children a strong sense of curiosity and wonder with the world.

Francesco also developed a taste for physical activities and the outdoors. The royal passion for hunting was inculcated early and he was skilled in the saddle from a young age. So was his passion for sport generally. At the age of 4, Francesco was chasing ducks and rabbits with his dogs. By his teenage years, he was a skilled and devoted player of calcio, helping to popularize the sport in Naples and the rest of the Mezzogiorno. Then there were military matters. It was a militaristic age and it was not unusual for a noble or royal child to be obsessed with soldiers. Francesco had a taste for silver and lead soldiers and toy forts. The retired general Alessandro di Ferrari was the prince’s military tutor when he was between the ages of eight and ten. The old soldier regaled the boy with war stories and tales of glory and gallantry. Combat was, after all, the obsession of the adult males that surrounded the Crown Prince. Not only among the nobles, who generally went through military service, but also the guards that resided in Naples and the Medici Villas where the family stayed. There was a cult of the warrior at the Italian court as well, one that Francesco II eagerly embraced. The great Grand Duke Francesco I was remembered in popular lore as a warrior who had brought harmony to the realm through strength. Francesco had his father and grandfather to look to as well, both accomplished soldiers in their own right.

Despite his royal station, Francesco’s childhood religious education was rather conventional. He was confirmed in June of 1653 according to the custom of the time and made his first communion the following Christmas. Only in the shadowed corners of his life, the dark places in his mother’s apartments, hung with crucifixes and saints’ relics, did a contradictory sense of his worth prevail. On the one hand, Francesco was born to be a great king with glorious possibilities; someone to whom all his subjects, from the highest nobles on downwards, must bow according to the Will of God. At the same time, the Crown Prince was taught that he too must bow down to God, in whose eyes, a king’s soul was no more precious than that of the humblest peasant in the kingdom. Father Rinaldi, Carlota Luisa’s confessor, sometimes criticized the queen for the excessive nature of her piety. Regardless, it was sincere. The several hours a day she spent in prayer, attending mass, or visiting monasteries, meant a daily accounting of her spiritual state. Therefore, when Carlota Luisa educated Francesco to believe that kings, however powerful, would one day have to account to God for what they did, it was a lesson he was not likely to forget.

While later in life Francesco would value the piety passed down by his mother, in his youth he shared his father’s appetite for women. Always a “difficult child,” in the words of his former governess, Sister Ornella Verdi, Francesco was said to have, “a certain charm of the rascal about him,” according to Liviana Frescobaldi, a childhood friend and alleged early romantic partner. His years growing up in the Mezzogiorno, where traditional ideas of chivalry were still strong, strongly influenced royal attitudes towards women and romance. Furthermore, the new king inherited the court of Gian Gastone I: a place where being the galante was considered every gentleman’s duty. The term galante itself was vague enough to cover everything from platonic friendship to passing flirtations to full physical love making. The women had their roles to play as well. Florence in the 1660s was a city where powerful and influential women controlled very real levers of power. The social life reflected this. Both Ginevra Toscani and Elena Cornaro Piscopia came from the lower strata of the aristocracy (Cornaro’s mother was not even an aristocrat, she hailed from a peasant family), and as a result, many women of this class flocked to Florence to seek access to the court. These “rustic countesses” were scorned by the more urbane and sophisticated Florentine women. With so many eager, yet interesting women about, it is little wonder the dashing and unmarried young monarch would turn his attention to just such companions.

In addition to the obvious attraction of his rank as a great continental monarch and to his reputed handsome looks, the king had numerous other attractive qualities to draw in the ladies. His friend, the great Baroque painter and sculptor Ciro Ferri, said the king was skilled enough with a guitar to “draw tears from the eye of any maiden who hears him.” After all, the king was taught as a child by the best teacher in Italy: Francesco Corbetta, who by the midcentury had published two guitar books commissioned, respectively, by the Bentivoglios of Bologna and Farneses of Parma. At the time, playing the guitar was a notably less ceremonious occupation than dancing in the formal court ballet, the preferred method of artistic expression for Francesco’s younger brother, Prince Girolamo. However, in the romantic plays and novels of the time, the guitar was seen as a highly effective weapon of courtship in the hands of a gallant.

No activity, however, surpassed equestrianism in the esteem of the king. Told from a young age by Ferrari that he was a “born soldier”, Francesco embraced horseback riding as something that was both fun and valuable training for war. When he was not on campaign or in training as a young cavalry officer, the king used this particular hobby as an effective tool for romantic dalliances. It was certainly not a coincidence that the Francesco’s early loves going back to his teenage years, were all superb equestrians, able to outdistance chaperones or the court, if necessary, since riding in the forests and glades around the various Medici villas or the hills outside Naples, represented some of the few opportunities for privacy Francesco had.

The “magical” spring of 1666, following Francesco’s coronation, recounted by so many ladies of the court as “a time when all was possible and all was love,” was intruded upon rather abruptly by matters of state. It was perhaps even worse for those same ladies that his was a matter where love and politics crossed paths rather intimately. The person who put an end to all this royal frolicking was ended by an intelligent, ambitious, and headstrong German princess from the House of Habsburg.

This princess’s name was Maria Magdalena and she arrived in Florence with a clear-eyed understanding of her role: as an agent of Habsburg diplomacy. There existed a tense and occasionally awkward political situation among the great Catholic powers of Europe, one in which the much-diminished Austrian royal family was at a disadvantage. France and Poland, whose dynastic and military ties continued to deepen, threatened Austria from west and east. Only Italian diplomatic intervention had prevented open war between the two sides on several occasions, as Florence maintained close ties to Paris, Warsaw, and Vienna. Austrian military commanders knew they could not defeat the combined powers of France and Poland without Italy on their side. Thus, strengthening the Italian alliance became the focal point of Habsburg diplomacy. She thus became Austrian grand strategy personified. Maria Magdalena was the eldest granddaughter in the male line of Archduke Philipp I and thus stood to inherit the archduchy should her younger brother Franz predecease her. This made her an attractive enough match for the King of Italy since Francesco’s children would enter the Austrian line of succession. It meant the match was potentially risky for the Habsburgs, but the strategic necessity of Italian support made it one worth taking.

For her part, the princess embraced the role. As a child, she was an outgoing and curious; she enjoyed singing and archery; and took great interests in her grandfather’s work. She also shared a passion for horseback riding with her new husband. Throughout her childhood in Vienna, Maria Magdalena participated in the opera productions staged by the royal family and was fluent in German, Latin, Italian, and French. She was educated in drawing, painting, music and dancing, all the disciplines which would have prepared her, along with rigorous etiquette lessons, for a role as queen consort. Her grandfather, the Archduke, began allowing her to attend meetings of his council from the age of 16. Knowledgeable of her in place in the dynastic succession, Maria Magdalena viewed her marriage as a tool to strengthen both the houses of Austria and Italy. She would find an enthusiastic partner in her new husband; whose own international ambitions were heavily dependent on uniting the discordant sides of the Catholic world. The soon-to-be Queen of Italy also understood the importance of endearing herself to her subjects. Thus, she had her name Italianized to Maria Maddalena beginning on her wedding day and spoke Italian on all public occasions. This regard for her adopted people would serve the queen well during the many periods where she acted as regent while her husband was away on military campaigns.



Queen Maria Maddalena of Italy


The marriage of Francesco II and Maria Maddalena of Austria

This Medici-Habsburg union took place on 4 July 1666. It was the first royal marriage between the two families since Margherita dé Medici, granddaughter of the first Grand Duke of Tuscany Girolamo I wed Maximilian I von Habsburg in 1533. At that time, Maximilian was Holy Roman Emperor while the Medici were still considered upstart bankers less than a decade removed from receiving a royal title. The situation reversed itself quite starkly in the intervening century and a third. Now it was Vienna desperate to win Florence’s favor and gain protection from her enemies. Italian arms were needed to help preserve Austrian sovereignty in the same way Austrian armies had once helped pave the way to Italian unification.

Both parties agreed on Venice as satisfying the criteria of being roughly midway between the two states’ capitals. La Serenissima was grand enough for the occasion, and as a former national capital it had the capacity to host two royal courts. The Austrian court arrived in Görz several days prior and made ready to be ferried across the northern end of the Adriatic and into the Lagoon. The day before the wedding the Austrians departed on a flotilla of gilded Venetian ships, with the princess riding aboard the famous Bucintoro, the Doge’s personal galley. They entered the canal and landed on the Riva degli Schiavoni. The king’s brother, Prince Girolamo, was present to assist the princess and her party off the Bucintoro. The Austrians were then conducted to the Doge’s Palace, where they would stay.

The following day, in the blazing heat of the Venetian summer, the marriage took place. The wedding service was performed by Giovan Francesco Morosini, the Patriarch of Venice in a packed St. Mark’s Basilica, and it lasted from noon to four in the afternoon. Despite the heat, the new queen, covered in diamonds and emeralds, wore a small crown and an ermine robe decorated with golden eagles and fleurs-de-lys with a train borne by two of Francesco’s nieces, the daughters of his eldest sister, Princess Maria Grazia. The king wore a coat of gold brocade covered in crimson lace and diamonds. After the mass, the royal couple emerged to the cheering Venetian crowds and both threw gold and silver coins out to the people. Afterwards the couple retired to the Doge’s palace for a simple supper and then up to their apartments.



St. Mark’s Square in Venice, site of the royal wedding

The end of the wedding ceremony did not mark an end to the festivities. The wedding party departed Venice on 5 July by boat, with the royal couple embarked on the Bucintoro and made the short journey to the Po Delta and then upriver to Ferrara, where they were hosted by Duke Alberto d’Este at the Castello Estense. From there, the rest of the journey was overland and took most of the next month. Everywhere the itinerant court went, they were cheered and feasted. “I thank God for sending me to live in a land almost as beautiful as our own,” the queen consort wrote back to her brother, Franz, “all of the people seem so pleasant and loving.” Indeed, the populace maintained a high approval for Maria Maddalena throughout her life, even in times when their opinion of her husband sank due to political crises.

The itinerant court finally arrived outside Florence on 8 August. That afternoon the king and queen reviewed 8,000 troops, selected from the best regiments, riding up and down the lines, battalion after battalion, with the king on horseback and the queen traveling alongside in her carriage. Maria Maddalena, an enthusiastic equestrian, later complained that etiquette had forced her to ride in the carriage “like some fat dowager,” rather than riding beside her husband. The queen still admired the well-disciplined soldiers, who were just as obsessed with fashion and dress as the court. They did not disappoint for this occasion. Every soldier was covered in plumes and ribbons colored depending on their regiment. Officers’ dress looked nearly indistinguishable from that of a courtier.

The next morning the royal couple made their entrance into Florence, arriving through the Porta al Prato. They were greeted by the members of the Florentine Assembly while the windows and balconies lining the Lungarno were thick with spectators, as was the opposite bank of the river. The royal procession made its way to Piazza del Popolo, where a temporary throne had been erected before the Palazzo Vecchio. For five hours, into the early evening, king and queen listened to speeches by prominent Florentine citizens. Finally, as the sky darkened, the final leg of the trip, from Piazza del Popolo across the Ponte Vecchio and on to the Palazzo Pitti took place. Finally, the pair could settle down as husband and wife and get to the work of ruling the kingdom. Maria Maddalena further enhanced her status when she delivered a big, healthy baby boy on 7 April 1667, thereby securing the dynastic succession less than a year after her wedding. The new Crown Prince, also named Francesco, would be the first of six children for the couple, four of whom would live into adulthood.



Despite the pomp and grandeur of his wedding, the king had little interest in frivolity. He understood the value of ceremony and tradition, but he spurned the luxury and baroque excess of the Pitti Palace, preferring to work from his office in the Palazzo Vecchio. Each morning, he would make the walk from the Pitti, where he still resided, to his workplace via the Vasari Corridor and then return home each evening. He considered court life trivial and boring, though he also understood his role as monarch required his regular attendance, however much he may dread it. Francesco II was a student of history and dreamed of one day being listed among the great monarchs. He made no secret of his ambitions. However, as he would do throughout his career, Francesco centered the narrative—and, presumably, the glory that would accompany it—on Italy, not himself. He had already served in the army in Germany and proven himself a capable leader of men. This time also helped him earn the respect of his soldiers, who would remain a thoroughly reassuring bastion of support throughout his reign.

Whatever his personal faults as king, Gian Gastone I had bequeathed to his son a realm in the middle of a long period of economic and political stability. The Triangular Trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas was bringing large quantities of gold and silver into the Italian treasury along with coffee, sugar, tobacco, beaver pelts, ivory, and myriad other luxury goods. As has been seen, these products were not only lucrative for Genovese, Venetian, and Pisan merchants, but also helped transform Italian culture. Tomatoes were already a mainstay in Italian cuisine, more and more people smoked tobacco, and growing number of Italians “cannot start their day without at least one cup of coffee.” At the start of Francesco II’s reign, Italy did not possess large overseas colonial territories as they would in later years. However, Italy’s possessions were so much more than “a few rocks in the Caribbean and some scraps of land clinging to the Atlantic coast,” in the mocking words of the French Foreign Minister Jean de Lauris. The colonies may have been small territorially, but they were rich in resource and opportunities for profit. In addition to holding some of the most profitable Caribbean islands, Italy also controlled the Niger Delta, a key source of ivory and the slaves needed to work the New World sugar and tobacco plantations. The new king, for his part, opposed slavery from the beginning but had not yet developed a course to abolish it. As long as the king remained dependent on certain sections of the merchant class, the prospect of full abolition remained a bridge too far. Only later, when his legacy and position were unassailable, did Francesco move to end what he referred to as, “that vile institution.” In response to the continuation of slavery, yet another rebellion took place in Idah in 1669, though it was quickly put down.



Main trade goods produced in Italy



Main trade goods produced in the Italian Indies (top) and Italian West Africa (bottom)

Not all was calm in Italy either. Back at home there were numerous social and cultural upheavals happening just below the surface, transforming relations between genders and classes. These were far outside the scope of the government in many ways but helped usher in a new period of prolonged change in Italian society.

The strength of the Italian economy throughout the 1660s lifted the prospects of the peasantry and the bourgeois classes relative to the nobility. The heirs of wealthy merchants could easily expect a marriage to the daughter of an impoverished nobleman and all the enhanced social status that came with it. Their younger siblings were all but guaranteed a position in the burgeoning bureaucracy. As time went on, the distinction between the upper levels of the mercantile and professional classes on the one hand, and the lower levels of the aristocracy on the other, began to blur. Whether through marriage or through the purchase of administrative offices, the wealthier members of the middle classes were soon living lives that were materially better than many aristocrats. A high birth status was not enough to maintain crumbling country villas, while common birth was no longer a barrier when money could buy one’s way into the highest levels of power.

The peasantry did not experience quite the same level of social advancement as their bourgeois counterparts, but the material improvements in their lives were readily evident. Furthermore, the peasants soon found they had an ally in the new king. One issue that infuriated many were the myriad restrictions on the use of forests. Many of these laws dated back to the Medieval period and looked quite out of date by the 1660s. The peasants wanted the massive forests used as hunting preserves by the nobles cleared and used for crop cultivation and grazing. Efforts to bring this about were often met with violence from the aristocratic landlords.

Francesco II was eager to play “Man of the People”. He often justified his numerous outings among his subjects by reminding everyone he was king of Italy “By the Grace of God and the Will of the People.” For all the magnanimous qualities the king showed, he was nevertheless a shrewd politician highly knowledgeable in the Medici tradition of currying favor with the peasantry in order to keep the nobility in check. Still, there is every reason to believe the king sincerely wanted to improve the lot of all his subjects. In the matter of land clearance, Francesco’s choice was easy. “The nobles are quick to point out the backwardness of the peasants,” the king wrote to Elena Cornaro Piscopia, “but as I see it, the peasants are the more forward thinking of the two. The nobles only think of using their woods for hunting and leisure, where these peasants would clear them and turn the land to productive use.”

On the other hand, and to the dismay of the landowners, the crown often sided with the country folk on matters of protecting the commons. Every medieval village had a common, a piece of land where everyone was allowed to graze cattle and cut winter feed. This was especially crucial to the survival of the landless poor, who could use the commons to raise a goat, a cow, or a few chickens and therefore have access to milk, eggs, and occasionally meat or the revenues from selling their livestock. Legally, these presented uncertain territory, though habitual usage rights were respected by most local courts. Economic efficiency dictated that enclosing the commons would increase agricultural output. However, the king, influenced by Cornaro, feared that an increase in landless, hungry poor would flood the cities with mouths they could not feed and lead to a crisis in both the urban centers as well as the countryside in short order. Thus, the Italian government committed itself to protecting the commons while granting more access to the forests for the peasantry. This helped the poor but further impoverished the country aristocracy.



The Land Clearance Laws helped spur further agricultural productivity in Italy

Likewise, a new issue of currency helped curb a return to bartering, particularly in the countryside. Ensuring the populace continued to use coinage was important not only for economic purposes, but to maintain the financial side of the kingdom’s prestige. The new king envisaged Italy as a forward-looking kingdom and society. The currency re-issue of 1668 also established Francesco II’s prudent practice of regularly consulting experts on economics when issues may have been beyond his grasp. Among the Italian economists who provided counsel for the king were Turi Pileggi, Melanio Lancellotti, and Lamberto Terracina. The Land Clearance Laws along with the currency fixes helped establish the working relationship between the king and his Interior Minister, the great Elena Cornaro Piscopia. A man of sparkling talent when it came to military matters and foreign policy, in his early years, Francesco II often found himself lost and overwhelmed by the tedious and mundane nature of running such a large kingdom. It was here that Cornaro’s guidance was crucial. The trust established between the two in these early years helped set the stage for their more ambitious projects in later years.


A new issuing of coins in 1668 curbed inflation and a return to bartering

In 1660s Italy, the culture and society were changing as significantly as the economic system was. In many ways, the start of these changes dated back to the early years of the century. Still, there was little doubt that in the years following the Iberian War, societal transformation in Italy accelerated. This was due to several factors, particularly a rise in literacy, improvements in financial and investment tools and methods, and prosperity at home.

The many printing houses of Italy (and of Florence, Milan, and Venice in particular) increased the number of publications they released. Increased literacy, thanks in large part to Cornaro’s universal Sunday Schools initiative (1654), meant more books reached the wider public. This did not necessarily mean that everyone had to read in order to digest new books. For instance, it was often the case that if one family member learned to read, the entire family became de facto literate (i.e. they could receive news and information via written texts since the one literate family member could read aloud to his or her loved ones). This “mare magnum” of treatises constitutes one of the distinctive traits of early modern classicism. Numerous publishing houses, the Medici Press among them, printed and distributed a steady stream of books, both in Italy and beyond. Numerous memorable Italian literary texts of recent decades were re-published with new editions in Italian or translated into German, French, Spanish, Greek, and Arabic. Among them were Della Porta’s On the Physiognomy of Man; Tasso’s Dialogues; Moderata Fonte’s The Worth of Women , an impassioned defense of female equality; Campanella's The City of the Sun, one of the greatest works of early modern utopian fiction; Malvezzi's Proud Tarquin; Accetta’s On Honest Dissimulation; Tesauro's The Aristotelian Telescope, one of the most important statements of Seventeenth Century poetics in Europe; Tarabotti's Defense of Women, with its condemnation of misogyny; Muratori’s On Perfect Poetry; and Vico's Principles of the New Science.

Italian theater also continued to develop in the Seventeenth Century in accordance with the emerging aesthetic of surprise and wonder. Spectators could expect to see familiar social hierarchies weakened, even between performers and public. The experience of theatergoing thus became a discovery of a new social world. This overturning and mocking of established social hierarchy had its roots in Comedia dell’Arte performances and proved just as popular in the gilded theaters of Venice and Milan as it did on the streets of cities and towns up and down the peninsula. The most prominent Seventeenth Century Italian playwright, G. B. Andreini (1598-1674) wrote a series of brilliant comedies pushing “Arte” concepts to extremes of illusionism, such as in Love in the Mirror (1642)—which starred two great actresses, Virginia Ramponi and Virginia Rotari, as lovers—and Two Comedies in One (1643), with its double play-within-a-play. New “Arte” masks and zany stock plots appeared in the course of the later Seventeenth Century, as the theatrical system was professionalized and institutionalized throughout the peninsula.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was the culture of the regular people. There was more overlap between elite and everyday culture in Italy than in some other parts of Europe and early modern Italian culture was neither completely oral nor completely literate, but a mixture of both. In the decade-plus since the establishment of country-wide Sunday Schools, literacy in Italy had increased substantially. Still, the large majority of early modern Italians remained illiterate. One difficulty in determining actual levels of literacy lay in the great regional, social, and religious differences among levels of education. City dwellers and wealthy bourgeois tended to be more educated, northern Italians were more likely to have gone to school at least for a few years, than those living south of Rome; men were more likely to be literate than women. In spite of all this, however, it is clear that the educational landscape of Italians was changing fundamentally. It is possible to speak of an education revolution that began in the great universities and spread out to the people. This was especially true for the growing middle classes driving most of the change in society by the second half of the century. Merchants, lawyers, teachers, administrators, and managers, as well as specialized professions such as goldsmiths, apothecaries, and ships’ captains were mostly literate by this time.

The oral culture was every bit as vibrant as the written culture of the elites, and of prime importance in the lives of ordinary people. The more literate youth turned to the mass of cheap literature produced during the period, a literature which still serves as a guide to popular values and opinion. Much of this was supplied by itinerant book-peddlers, selling chapbooks and pamphlets, combined often with the works of itinerant oral story tellers, or cantastorie. These increasingly common business partnerships, between salesmen of physical, paper books and storytelling performers who acted out the plots of those books, represented a perfect melding of the oral and written popular culture traditions. The books sold were cheaply produced street literature. They were commonly small, paper-covered booklets, usually printed on a single sheet folded into books of 8, 12, 16, or 24 pages. They were often illustrated with crude woodcuts, which sometimes bore no relation to the text and were often read aloud to an audience. There were also more refined writers who nevertheless were part of popular culture, despite their literacy. Most prominent and popular among these was the Bolognese writer, Giulio Cesare Croce, who wrote the most popular book of the era: Bertoldo. Bertoldo was the astute peasant who became the king’s favorite, only to succumb to the riches of the courtly diet which overwhelmed his rustic constitution.



Cantastorie performing for a crowd

Any wider view of Italian culture, to the extent that such a unified category really existed, should be tempered with a view more toward a more local perspective. This meant the closed, local, peasant community (i.e. their village) remained the primary social grouping and social control unit. Still, despite the local differences in the details, generally speaking, trial records from numerous villages across the realm suggest that the importance of individual honor and reputation, the networks of links between men and women, the respective position of insiders and outsiders, the expectations placed on men and women, and the fluidity, vibrancy, and relative egalitarian character of communal life within the village were, in varying degrees, universal throughout Italy. These communities, despite their closed nature, engaged in frequent and diverse contacts with the outside world. Insider-outsider disputes might manifest themselves in the fraught relations between the community and its immediate hinterlands. Inhabitants had a strong sense of “our place” as opposed to the outside world; they were all “of the village”, or in Italian: “paesani”.

For the South in particular, there was a sense of the unchanging monotony of peasant life, determined as it was by nature, the terrain, the seasons, and religious rhythms. Buildings were similar to one another, shaped by local materials, and technical skills. Village toponomy, in the naming of gates, streets, and quarters, reflected villagers’ unchanging mental map of their surroundings. However, this inward-looking immobility should not be exaggerated. From an economic point of view, peasant production was oriented first and foremost toward household reproduction rather than individual profit, but a knowledge of the wider economic picture was nevertheless essential. Peasants specialized or diversified production, bought and sold land, regulated family size, or migrated back and forth according to changing commercial pressures and opportunities. From a political standpoint, the internal organization of village communities could be quite complex and not at all sites of communal consensus. Looking at external relations of the villages, they were far from being either autonomous and self-sufficient or isolated and forgotten.



These communities were often best viewed at a symbolic level: i.e. how “community” elicited features of social life, how membership was marked and attributed, and how notions of community were given cultural meaning. From this perspective, community can be as much a process as a place, constantly negotiated and contested. Furthermore, these meanings changed according to time and circumstance. From the Sixteenth Century, for example, Florence’s potenze and Siena’s contrade transformed from pseudo-political organizations to festival organizations. It is no coincidence that Siena’s famous palio only became a formal, annual event beginning in 1633. Likewise, the parish, another level of community in Italian towns and cities, was not a constant, unchanging factor. Parish sensibilities ebbed and flowed according to a range of political, economic, social, and religious factors. While communities were systems of social structures and institutions, they were also worlds of meaning in the minds of their members. Through them, people expressed the importance of attachment to a common body of symbols: in other words, their identity.

The most important of these socio-cultural religious cycles was that of carnival and Lent, a period of revelry followed by a period of abstinence. During carnival the common people suspended the normal rules of behavior and ceremoniously reversed the social order or turned it upside down in riotous procession. Carnival was a time for cutting up by youth groups, particularly apprentices, who organized themselves in 'abbeys' ruled by a mock abbot or king and who staged charivaris or burlesque processions. They played and sang rough music in order to humiliate cuckolds, husbands who had been beaten by their wives, brides who had married below their age or social group, or anyone else who personified the infringement of traditional norms. Carnival was high season for hilarity, sexuality, and youth run riot – a time when young people tested social boundaries by limited outbursts of deviance, before being reassimilated in the world of order, submission, and Lentine seriousness. It ended on Martedi Grasso or Fat Tuesday, when a straw mannequin, King Carnival or Re Carnevale, was given a ritual trial and execution. Cats played an important part in some charivaris, also called capramarito or chiavramarito in Italian. In Piedmont and some other locales, the crowd incorporated cat torture into its rough music. While mocking a cuckold or some other victim, the youths passed around a cat, tearing its fur to make it howl. This cruel practice was known as “fare il gatto”. Eventually the time and order of the cosmos, upset in the carnival tradition, was reconstituted with a purification ritual comprising a “trial”, a “sentencing”, the reading of a “a last will and testament”, and finally a “funeral” of the carnival which often involved the burning of the Re Carnevale represented by a puppet or straw mannequin.



An Italian carnival procession in the mid-1600s

The overturning of the social order was not limited to the theater and carnival time. As is the case for most upheavals in history, the ones experienced by Italian society in the second half of the Seventeenth Century were based, first and foremost, in material reality: namely, property rights. Italian family and inheritance structures of this period featured a fundamental point of tension: namely, the conflict between agnatic and cognatic views of kinship. The former centered on the vertical chain of fathers and sons, the patriliny, or lignaggio; the latter on the more horizontal chain, one that included relatives by both blood and marriage, i.e. kinship through the female line. Such different conceptions of the family implied a different social value for each of the sexes. Whereas the agnatic view of the family wiped women out of the family map, the cognatic view included them as agents in the construction of kinship ties.

The agnatic and the cognatic principle coexisted, with varying balance, throughout Italian history from antiquity through the early modern period. The two principles did not represent successive stages in the evolution of kinship, but two coexisting ways to think about the family, which could be complementary but also in conflict with each other. In the first case was the vertical transmission of name, patrimony, and rank through the male line; in the second, the extension of the family's network of influence and power through marriage alliances and the exchange of women and dowries. This nimble conception of family influenced the vocabulary used to describe it: parentado and casato, for the agnatic and cognatic systems, respectively.

In the early Seventeenth Century there was a shift in Italian family relations that affected the uneasy balance of casato and parentado in the Italian aristocracy. At about the same time, aristocratic families started to adopt a much more marked patrilineal structure, characterized by male primogeniture and the concentration of wealth by fedecommesso, i.e. within the casato's main line, with not only daughters excluded from inheritance, but younger sons (cadets) as well. The traditional practice of marrying all sons to multiply the casato's branches, and most daughters to contract useful matrimonial alliances, was largely discontinued. Marriage became reserved for the first-born sons. Several factors contributed to this, in particular the decline in the incomes and wealth of the nobility, at the expense of the growing mercantile or early bourgeois classes as well as the contadini grossi, or wealthy, landed peasants. In cases where aristocratic younger sons did marry, they were often to women from these “less desirable” classes. Numerous aristocratic family histories bemoan the need to marry a son to the daughter of a wealthy peasant, often because the peasants possessed more actual wealth than their social “betters”.

It was not long, however, before the price women and younger sons had to bear began to shake the system once again. While the culture at large celebrated the public and private roles of the patriarch as father and husband, in practice nearly half of male nobles who reached adulthood appear to have remained bachelors because of dowry inflation. Families limited the number of marriages of their sons as well as their daughters. These forced bachelors formed a sort of male periphery of patriarchy: although they took part in governmental activities, they were confined to lesser offices. In some respects, their position was as marginal in the patriarchy as that of their married sisters, though within an overall structure that favored men of whatever marital status. Interestingly, like their married sisters, they sometimes showed bilinear social orientation (benefiting in their wills, for instance, their sisters' children). Also, like their unmarriageable sisters, they were often forced into the religious life.

In early modern Italy, in fact, religious profession was a container for excess female population. In Venice in the mid-Seventeenth Century, the percentage of nuns among patrician women averaged around fifty per cent. But the petitions sent to the Roman office of the papal penitentiary (Sacra Penitenzieria Apostolica) for dispensation from monastic vows show that being forced to make a religious profession was not an exclusively feminine fate. Men also were often coerced into an ecclesiastical career, as an alternative to the military.

Since daughters and cadets paid the highest price for the casato’s aggrandizement, it is not surprising that resistance to the inequities of the patriliny came from them. For instance, women, despite their lack of formal power, were employed as brokers and envoys in risky transactions and negotiations, in which the direct involvement of the male head of the family would have imperiled the family prestige in case of failure. Thus, differences of power and resources among family members were used strategically as a family asset. But by the 1660s, this corporate sense of the family was shaken by new individualistic trends. A telling sign of heightened stress within the patrilineal family is the rise of litigation over property devolution. It was precisely the mounting number of lawsuits contesting women's exclusion from inheritance by pitting Roman law against municipal law that led several Italian provinces, particularly in the urbanized parts of northern Italy, to pass new laws strengthening the rights of the cognatic family against the more unequal traditional laws. This mounting tide of litigation was fueled by women’s and cadets’ increased resistance to their exclusion from inheritance coupled with increasing access to the services of courts of law at all levels of society. In the majority of lawsuits related to wills, women’s inheritance rights proved the main bone of contention. In this period, women seemed increasingly prone to protect their property rights against wasteful husbands, sons, or sons-in-law.

In some cases, the success or failure of such an effort depended on the personal skill and charisma of the woman. For instance, Countess Laura Biaggi of Arezzo separated from her husband, Girolamo Vitelloni, in 1663. She left Arezzo and resettled in Milan, where she devoted herself to running what would become an influential salon. By 1666, she was bringing together some of the foremost Lombard intellectuals, artists, and musicians in her home. Due to her heightened social status, and the powerful friends she made through the salon, the Milanese tribunal sided with her, with a particularly strongly worded decision. The judge, in deciding that Vitelloni should be forced to repay Biaggi’s dowry in full, declared that: “while it is natural that the man should, under normal circumstances, control property and finances of the family, in some cases there arises such a disparity in the spirit and creativity of the wife over her husband that it would be improper to deny her the financial means to carry on independently. In this case, Countess Biaggi’s contributions to the cultural and social life of Milan outweigh any benefits of allowing her husband to keep the dowry, which he would likely squander through his sloth and ineptitude.” Not all women were as lucky or as connected as Laura Biaggi, but in the second half of the Seventeenth Century, women at least began to have realistic opportunities to maintain wealth and property in the face of male family members’ demands.

Most of the changes in family and gender relations were rooted in material realities. The decline of the nobility, long-term economic stability, a sharp decrease in food insecurity, and increased access to money and goods across all levels of society helped women and younger sons enhance their standing within the family. However, the culture played its own role. It is undeniable that the presence of prominent women at the highest levels of government and the arts spread the idea that women were capable contributors to society. The fact that two of the three most important portfolios in the government were held by women was acknowledged even at the time to have pushed the cause of female access to rights. This was true in the arts as well. The poems of the Bolognese Teresa Zani are an excellent reflection of the changing times. Zani deliberately presented herself in her poetry, not as the pining lover of rich man, but as a wealthy heiress, the owner of landed property (lovingly described in a sonnet), and a young woman who claims, thanks to this economic independence, the right to freely choose a husband according to inclination and not family interest. She viewed the (in)famous Medici princess Margherita of Canossa, who leveraged her political power to win the rights to command her own life, as a heroine. Besides voicing this unconventional view of womanhood in her poetry, Teresa Zani did not hesitate, later in life, to file a lawsuit against her deceased husband’s family over property matters. A supportive letter from the Minister of War helped swing the ruling in Zani’s favor. A keen sense of property rights seems to have been at the heart of her authorial and personal identity.

Perhaps the most striking evidence of the crisis of the patrilineal family in the late Seventeenth Century, is the tremendous drop in the rates of celibacy. In the period 1630-1670, among the Milanese aristocracy, the rate of male celibacy went from 50.5 per cent to 36.5 per cent, and even more striking is the figure for women: from 48.5 to 13 per cent. In fact, women were the leaders in this trend: their rate of celibacy had already begun to decrease significantly at the beginning of the century, when the corresponding rate for men was still 50 per cent. There are other eloquent signs of the crisis of the casato' s model of marriage. Although the Catholic form of divorce, that is, separation ‘a mensa et thoro’ (of table and bed) was granted very sparingly, there is evidence that it grew more common in the Seventeenth Century, possibly thanks to wives’ greater economic independence. In Siena, the number of separations doubled from 1.22 per cent in 1635 to 2.12 per cent in 1665. Much more pronounced is the growth of another sign of patrilineal stress: the diffusion of clandestine marriages. Among the Venetian patricians there seems to have been a veritable epidemic of such marriages, leading the city government to claim control over this issue in order to repress it more severely than the ecclesiastical authorities were inclined to do. Even that law only lasted several years, as it was abolished by King Francesco II, acting in his capacity as Doge of Venice, as a personal favor to Cornaro, who was herself a product of just such a clandestine marriage.

Another Italian oddity of the times was the granting of university degrees to women. In 1665, Laura Bassi received her doctorate from the University of Bologna, making her the sixth woman to achieve such a feat. Italy appeared at the time, as a land of greater freedom for women, a land where gender orthodoxy was being overhauled. It was this belief that made Princess Françoise Marie de Valois so eager to visit the country. She would, in time, make her own contributions to this feminine cultural milieu, joining with women like Bassi to expand the salon culture that originated in France to Italy.

Starting in the 1650s and increasing in the 1660s, a custom began to spread in the refined, urbane cities of the north wherein women would go out unaccompanied or escorted by a handsome, often younger, gentleman, also known as a cicisbeo. This was done with the full knowledge of the husband, who of course was often busy with his own mistresses and dalliances. English, French, and German visitors in this period all expressed their astonishment at this singular Italian arrangement. They exclaimed at the extraordinary sexual liberty of Italian gentlewomen and declared that all stereotypes relating to Italian husbands (i.e. their proverbial jealousy) were in need of serious revision. Even foreign women in Italy seem to have taken to the custom rather enthusiastically, in particular among the women of the English Catholic community in exile in Rome where competition for attractive, young, Italian male companions was the constant source of gossip and intrigue.

It is important to note, as is often the case with trends fashionable among the elite, that this did not spread beyond the highest circles of the most prestigious cities. The idea of a cicisbeo would have struck a farmer in the Padania or a shepherd in the Sila as strange and unnatural. And for those foreigners who thought Italian men had advanced past the stage of dueling for honor and prestige, all they had to do was visit the Mezzogiorno to disabuse themselves of this notion. Authorities there bemoaned the persistence of dueling and murder that seemed to strike down so many young men. “If you come to Reggio or Cosenza, do not so much as take a glance at the women. For if their husband happens to be nearby, the matter will come to swords, no matter how profuse your apologies,” a Veronese printer warned his business partner in 1668. This was just as true in the rural north, where matters of honor and dishonor (often related to the families’ women) were just as likely to spark blood feuds between peasant families as disputes over land and livestock.

Given the propensity to violence in the wider society, people needed to be careful. Gentlemen of this time, on average, were just as eager for violence as any member of the common rabble. Based on records from the 1660s and 1670s, everyone seemed eager to punch, thump, and stab people. In fact, gentlemen were among the worst offenders of the lot. The well off tended to be taller and stronger than ordinary working men, on account of their better diet in youth; thus, they grew up believing they could bully their way to getting what they wanted. For example, in 1665, Lord Ortensio Frescobaldi took exception to something said to him in a tavern by one Ermenegildo Negrin, a Venetian sailor, so he beat him to death. In 1668, the Count Ferdinando Strozzi had an argument about a hunting dog with a certain Signor Scardino and ended up running him through with a sword. Stories such as these were commonplace at the time.

Both Gian Gastone I and Francesco II were reluctant to punish dueling or make any serious efforts to stop it. Both monarchs considered it to be an honorable and just solution to questions of honor among gentlemen so long as appropriate rules of etiquette were followed. In 1656, Gian Gastone wrote to Carlo Grimaldi that, “dueling keeps our noblemen polite, for there is always risk in launching an insult, and also keeps them well practiced for war. I see it strictly as a social good.” Echoing his father, Francesco II responded to a note from Cornaro about an “epidemic” of dueling in her native Venice by stating: “it is my view that, so long as all customs and rules are followed, dueling can be positive. If men were allowed to go around spewing all manner of vile insults and calumnies with no fear of repercussions, our society would quickly crumble.” The new king had associated and spent time with sword wielding bravos in Rome and Naples in his youth. He had a healthy respect and admiration (having experienced it firsthand) for the world of sword wielding, dashingly dressed young men in the service of patrician families and/or criminal enterprises. This blade culture existed in much of the peninsula, but even as dueling deaths mounted, it remained difficult to dislodge the rulers’ perception that it was an honorable and societally healthy way of resolving disputes.



Bravos

Danger in the last third of the Seventeenth Century existed not only in the streets and alleyways of Italy’s big cities. It was present in even greater quantities beyond the confines of the peninsula. One of Gian Gastone’s strengths as a monarch was to have a truly global view of international relations. He understood how networks of trade and influence in seemingly unconnected parts of the world could affect each other. This was a trait the old king passed down to his heir. In particular, both monarchs believed in the importance of South America in the future of the world. They saw the Brazilian War of Independence as only a first act in a wider wave of independence movements to come. It is thus appropriate that Francesco II’s first international action was to make his father’s support for Brazilian independence a permanent fixture of Italian foreign policy. Florence and Bahia inked an alliance on 23 March 1666. The deal was mutually beneficial for both sides. For Italy, a partnership with Brazil gave them access to South America, where Florence possessed no colonies and little influence. Brazil, for its part, now had a major European power as a patron, protecting the nascent state from potential attacks from other monarchies on the other side of the Atlantic, eager to fill the void left behind by the collapse of Portuguese power in the region. Public opinion in the Grand Republic skewed heavily pro-Italian and they endorsed President Alexandre de Vilhena’s efforts.


The alliance between Italy and Brazil was signed on 23 March 1666

Closer to home, another great Medici ambition was finally fulfilled on 4 November 1668. Cardinal Camillo dé Medici-Castellina, was elected Pope as Paul V. Since the return of the Papacy to Rome in 1631, relations between Italy and the Holy See had been excellent. Turning the Papal State from pro-Spanish to pro-Italian in its foreign policy had been one of the greatest and most lasting achievements of Alberto I’s foreign policy. Unlike the old king’s attempted détente with Madrid and Lisbon, the close relationship with Rome was a policy his heir, Gian Gastone I, carried on successfully and passed on to his successor. The Medici successfully cultivated influence among the Roman patricians, particularly the powerful Orsini and Colonna clans.

Over the preceding century and a half, as the Republic of Florence and then its successor states grew in power and influence over the peninsula, the consensus among the Roman patrician families was to keep the papacy separate and distinct. This became particularly acute as the Medici became established as the monarchical dynasty. Disputes between the ruling family in Florence and some of the Roman noble clans, the Barberini in particular, had even sparked wars. By the 1660s however, these same families had largely come to view the Medici as the key to maintaining Papal power going forward. Any unified Catholic action against either the Ottoman Empire or the Protestant states of central and northern Europe, would require Italian leadership. Only Florence enjoyed good relationships with Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw. Thus, the prevailing opinion in Rome began to favor the idea of a Medici Pope. Paul V’s election ushered in a return to Italian dominance within the Church and the curia.




Cardinal Camillo dé Medici-Castellina was crowned Pope Paul V on 4 November 1668

In early 1670, Francesco II got his first opportunity to lead the army as King of Italy. Austria was intent on expanding its lands at the expense of some small, weaker states north of the Alps. Queen Maria Maddalena pushed for Italian intervention, though she did not have to push hard to convince her husband to go to war. In the lopsided conflict that would come to be known as the War of 1670, the Italians and Austrians made quick work of their overmatched foes. Nassau, Ravensburg, and Baden were no match for the allies. By the end of April, the combined Austro-Italian force had destroyed the enemy field armies and prepared to lay siege to the principal cities of the enemy. By the end of autumn, the war was over. Ravensburg fell on 25 September after a 145-day siege and Baden fell on 4 November. The Prince of Nassau, Johann I, had no taste for another Italian incursion into his family’s lands and supported peace talks. In the end, Austria emerged from the brief war with the provinces of Ravensburg, Württemberg, and Breisgau. The conflict provided an opportunity for a new generation of Austrian and Italian officers to work together and learn each other’s tactics and doctrines. This collaboration would prove invaluable in later campaigns.



For Francesco, the War of 1670 served as a quick and easy dress rehearsal for the wars to come.

In addition to being an introduction to battle for many young Italian officers, the War of 1670 is distinctive for one reason in Italian military history: the first use of paper cartridges. This revolutionary invention combined a pre-measured amount of powder together with the ball wrapped in paper. This made it faster and easier for soldiers to reload rather than having to measure out the correct amount of powder and then load it loose along with the projectile.


The Italian army first made use of cartridges for the first time in War of 1670. Would come in handy in the coming years.

Italy and her twenty-eight-year-old king went into the new decade brimming with ambition and confidence. For all the father’s faults, Gian Gastone I had bequeathed his son a wealthy and politically stable kingdom with a strong army, a global trade network, and plentiful natural resources. Nearly a decade of peace meant that Italy had the treasure, manpower, and materiel to compete with anyone. Her alliances were strong, her enemies on the continent were (for the time being) cowed and beaten back, and the Catholic world looked to a new era of unity. Thus, with the blessing of the Pope and the backing of Europe’s major Catholic powers, Italy turned her gaze to the east.
 
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