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The Role of Information in the Shaping of Power: Letter-Writing and Informers in Ducal Florence

Sat, March 24, 11:00am to 12:30pm, Hilton Riverside Complex, Kabacoff Room

Abstract

This paper will investigate ‘the mechanics of political communication’ in Florence between 1537 and 1545, with reference to the exchange of information between Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici and his bureaucrats. My aim is to contribute to the history of Florence’s political system by offering my interpretation of how communication, the binding element between government and administration, worked. The correspondence of one of the most notable ducal bureaucrats, Pierfrancesco Riccio, will provide an excellent case study to investigate how information was managed and how it helped shape power. How did the correspondence network work? What were the means and the people involved in this process? What or who and how trustworthy were the sources of information? Exploring sixteenth-century political communication will help me describe late-Renaissance Florence in a most delicate period of its history, when Medici power was being consolidated under the aegis of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici.

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