Summer School - Paleography and Archival Studies 2017, Florence, Italy

Publish Date: May 18, 2017

Deadline: Jun 19, 2017

Spring and Summer Seminar in Paleography and Archival Studies 

June:  from the 5th to the 10th of June
Deadline for enrollments May 15th

July: from the 3rd to the 8th of July
Deadline for enrollments June 19th

Florence, Italy

The Medici Archive Project (MAP) will be offering a one-week intensive seminar on Italian palaeography and archival research. The principal aim of this seminar is to provide an introduction to Italian archives (with particular emphasis on Florentine archival collections); to examine in-depth various documentary typologies; to read diverse early modern scripts; and to learn how to plan research in Italian archives and libraries.

Especially relevant for advanced graduate students studying Renaissance and early modern topics, this seminar is taught by a team of current and former MAP scholars, as well as university professors and other MAP-affiliated researchers.

The course is scheduled on three sessions in May, June and July.

Participating students will be taught at the MAP headquarters (at Palazzo Alberti in Via De Benci 10). During the course some lecture may also be held at the Archivio di Stato in Florence and a visit to a private archive is also planned. The seminar week is composed of twelve three-hour lessons held morning (9am-12pm ) and afternoon (3pm-6pm).

Prospective applicants should send a one-page CV and a brief statement explaining how this course will benefit one’s current research to

A working knowledge of Italian is required. Students will be encouraged to develop and augment their research proposals with new archival sources, network with scholars in their field, access other archival and bibliographic resources particular to their research, and engage one-to-one with MAP fellows.

For administrative details, course tuition and general information please contact

Introduction to Archival Research in Italy

An explanation of the history and archival holdings of Italian archives with special emphasis on the Archivio di Stato in Florence. Topics include: the organization of the various collections (fondi) of the ASF and their subdivisions; the ASF in relation to the territory and other public and private archives in Italy; state, regional, city, private, family, and religious archives in Italy.

The Medici Archives: Organization, History and Structure

An in-depth historical and structural analysis of the vast Medici Grand Ducal Archive (Mediceo del Principato, 1529-1753) at the ASF, seen in context with related fondi such as the Mediceo avanti il Principato (1373-1557), the Miscellanea Medicea, the Carteggio degli Artisti and the Guardaroba Medicea. Research tools for navigating these fondi will be demonstrated, particular attention will be given to the two online databases for researching the Mediceo del Principato and the Mediceo avanti il Principato. Analysis and discussion of the Mediceo del Principato will include a focused explanation of the different typologies of documents found therein as well as an introduction to MAP’s digital interactive platform, BIA.

 Manuscripts and Documents

 Introduction to the reading and analysis of archival documents. Topics include: philological and linguistic issues regarding the evolution of Italian, Spanish, and French; principles of Latin paleography; conventions for editing transcriptions for publication; and theoretical concerns regarding the presentation of archival documents in scholarly publications. Following this, exercises in reading different types of manuscripts and documents at the ASF. Special problems to be addressed include losses, unknown dating, unknown authorship, phonetic spelling, etc. A reference bibliography for archival research and paleography will be provided.

 Letters: Production, Reception, Form and Content

Theoretical and historical discussion of epistolary correspondence, beginning with an explanation of the many stages of letter-writing at court (the draft, the minute book, the reply, etc.), and how these stages are reflected by the organization of the Mediceo del Principato. Also under consideration are the roles of scribes, secretaries, and couriers. There will be a comparison of the rhetorical and structural modalities of epistolary correspondence, such as the Humanist letter, letters of recommendation, petitions, letters of condolence, reports, ciphered letters, newsletters, etc. Exercises in paleographic skills will be conducted with letters written by artists.

Court Studies and Material Culture vis-à-vis the Guardaroba Medicea 

Discussion of the organization of the administrative office devoted to the provision, supervision, documentation, and circulation of material goods at the Medici Granducal court, including furniture, silverware, works of art, etc., by means of an analysis of the written records generated by this office. Exercises in paleography to be conducted with a first-hand analysis of documentary material from this archival corpus, with particular emphasis on the problems surrounding the identification of artistic objects and their specific role within Medici culture.

 Visit to Capponi Family Archive delle Rovinate

The visit to the archive of the Capponi family – one of Florence’s oldest noble houses – will introduce students to one of the most untapped but difficult to use resources available to historians in the form of private family archives. Students will become aware of the difficulties in access, as well as the eccentricities of each archive and the risk and reward they pose to graduate research

Notarial Archives and the Medici Popolani

 A focused examination of legal contracts and wills in the notarial archives of Florence. Aspects to be treated include the notarial profession, the formulaic conventions of these legal documents, and their archival organization. Special emphasis will be given to the analysis of inventories found within wills. Paleographic exercises to be conducted with contracts and wills relating to art, artists, and collectors.

 Medici Patrimony and the Grand Ducal State

The transformation of the Medici into a dynasty, and the communes of Tuscany into a duchy, can be traced through the creation by Cosimo I de’ Medici and his heirs of a Medici family patrimony that blurred the lines between family and state property. Students will learn to read a particular set of interrelated inventories that narrate the acquisition and use of this patrimony. Students will learn also about the types of property holding, the legal caveats that allowed Medici property to be leased, and how land value was calculated.

 Avvisi and Newsletters in Early Modern Italy

 Improving our knowledge of the dynamics of news and politics in early modern Europe depends on the discovery of new sources as well as new methods for exploiting old ones. The Archivio di Stato still contains enormous quantities of unexplored, or insufficiently explored material. The embarassment of riches of this kind in the Medici del Principato collection alone can offer some surprises. In the sector of news, the collection rivals Rome and Venice in quantity and quality.  Among the most interesting from the standpoint of the circulation of news, apart from ambassadorial reports and diplomatic correspondence, are the so-called avvisi or handwritten newsletters, which circulated regularly in multiple copies throughout Europe from the late fifteenth through the mid-eighteenth century.  Often anonymous and distinguished by a heading giving the place and date of writing, and divided according to the places from which particular stories or information originated, they contained whatever was supposedly worth knowing about current political, cultural and social matters.  They were made of, and in turn made, the news; no wonder they were sought, consulted, and cited by figures in positions of power and financial leverage as well as by a larger public, as examples of matters of concern and as examples of foolish exaggeration or invention.  In this workshop we will examine some examples of this particular genre, taking into account issues about morphology, textuality, and custodianship.

Archives and Architecture: Giorgio Vasari

In this discussion of the archival history of one of Florence’s most important structures: the Corridoio Vasariano, this lesson will teach students how to approach the multifaceted archival sources relevant to urban transformation and construction. Emphasis will be placed on its planning, construction, and function and on the documentary evidence housed in  the ASF, along with how to make use of maps and plans will also be examined alongside other documentary sources.

 Visit to Archivio Storico dell’Arciconfraternita dei Fiorentini

 Confraternities played a central role in the lives of early modern Europeans. Confraternities functioned as a support network, alleviating poverty, treating the sick, honoring the dead, and providing a spiritual focus to the activities of a community. Confraternities were also social networks, providing the business and personal connections that many depended upon for their income. In this lesson, students will visit the Archivio Storico dell’Arciconfraternita dei Fiorentini in Rome to learn about how these confraternities functioned and the works they undertook, but also appreciate the particularity of this archconfraternity for Florentines in a foreign city.

Catasti and Tax Records for Architecture

Every building in Florence – and in its controlled territory – has a story that can be traced using a combination of maps, cadastral documents, and tax records. During this session, we will discuss how to start a research from the location of a building or the name of its owner at any time, and trace its story and the name of previous and later inhabitants. Related resources of the Archivio di Stato and the Archivio Storico del Comune di Firenze will be introduced.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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