1st Edition

The Renaissance of Letters Knowledge and Community in Italy, 1300-1650

Edited By Paula Findlen, Suzanne Sutherland Copyright 2020
    356 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    356 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Renaissance of Letters traces the multiplication of letter-writing practices between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Italian peninsula and beyond to explore the importance of letters as a crucial document for understanding the Italian Renaissance.

    This edited collection contains case studies, ranging from the late medieval re-emergence of letter-writing to the mid-seventeenth century, that offer a comprehensive analysis of the different dimensions of late medieval and Renaissance letters—literary, commercial, political, religious, cultural, social, and military—which transformed them into powerful early modern tools. The Renaissance was an era that put letters into the hands of many kinds of people, inspiring them to see reading, writing, receiving, and sending letters as an essential feature of their identity. The authors take a fresh look at the correspondence of some of the most important humanists of the Italian Renaissance, including Niccolò Machiavelli and Isabella d'Este, and consider the use of letters for others such as merchants and physicians.

    This book is essential reading for scholars and students of Early Modern History and Literature, Renaissance Studies, and Italian Studies. The engagement with essential primary sources renders this book an indispensable tool for those teaching seminars on Renaissance history and literature.

    Part 1: Republics of Merchants

    Chapter 1: One Network or Many? The World and Writing of Francesco di Marco Datini and his Correspondents

    Jeffrey Miner (Western Kentucky University)

    Chapter 2: A Florentine Humanist in India: Filippo Sassetti, Medici Agent by Annual Letter

    Brian Brege (Syracuse University)

    Part 2: What Do Letters Do?

    Chapter 3: Letters and the Problem of Jewish Conversion to Christianity in Renaissance Italy

    Tamar Herzig (Tel Aviv University)

    Chapter 4: Mind the Gap: Exploring Lacunae in the Correspondences of Erasmus and Machiavelli

    William J. Connell (Seton Hall University)

    Chapter 5: The Letter and Diplomacy, An Example: The Florentine Mission Entrusted to Francesco Vettori in 1507

    Chris Bacich, (Stanford University)

    Chapter 6: Mapping Castiglione’s Letters: Diplomatic and Literary Networks in Renaissance Italy

    Roberto Vetrugno (Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń)

    Chapter 7: The Cardinal’s Dearest Son: Venetian Empire and the Career of Giovan Matteo Bembo

    Demetrius Loufas (Stanford University)

    Chapter 8: The Literary Lives of Health Workers in Late Renaissance Venice

    Sarah Gwyneth Ross (Boston College)

    Chapter 9: ‘La verità delle stelle’: Margherita Sarrocchi’s Letters to Galileo

    Meredith K. Ray (University of Delaware)

    Chapter 10: Something to Write Home About: Roman Military Careers at the Start of the Thirty Years War, 1618-23

    Suzanne Sutherland (Middle Tennessee State University)

    Part 3: From the Mailbag to the Archive

    Chapter 11: Ottavio Codogno and the Ordinary Post

    Rachel Midura (Stanford University)

    Chapter 12: Archival Intelligence and the Afterlives of Letters, 1500-1650

    Filippo de Vivo (Birkbeck College, University of London)


    Paula Findlen is Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History at Stanford University, USA. She is the author of Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (1994) and many other publications on Renaissance / early modern Italy and the history of science. Professor Findlen is the 2016 recipient of the Premio Galileo for her contributions to understanding Italian culture.

    Suzanne Sutherland is an Assistant Professor of Early Modern European History at Middle Tennessee State University, USA. She is finishing a book on early modern military entrepreneurs and has worked on Stanford’s Mapping the Republic of Letters interdisciplinary digital humanities project since 2008.