Course: Mobility and Societyin the Early Modern World

The course will deal with the study of early modern diasporas. The chronological period from the 15th to the 18th century is the first moment when forced mobility becomes a major problem in world history. The early modern age conventionally starts with 1492 because that year marks the opening of the Atlantic route. In the very same year, however, another epoch-defining phenomenon begins. With the fall of Granada 300,000 Muslims and 80,000 Jews are driven out of Spain by the Catholic kings. Those who chose to remain and be baptized were later persecuted by the Inquisition and eventually forced to leave because of their lack of limpieza de sangre, joining the Ottoman empire or the colonies in Eastern and Western Indies. «No memorable act could be more pitiable than this or more extraordinary», said Machiavelli. The example of the Catholic kings set a precedent, inaugurating an era of unparalleled mobility of people: After the founding of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in 1542 a generation of Italian humanists and religious had to choose between denying their convictions or fleeing; with the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) 150,000 Huguenots must leave France, as well as 10,000 Catholics leave the Netherlands when Calvinists take power in 1570s. The same do Marian exiles, who flee to the continent during the 1553–1558 reign of the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I, and English Catholic during Elizabeth’s I. English coasts are also the place of departure of the pilgrim fathers who would give life to the frontier spirit of the United States.

Meanwhile, Ottoman sultans practiced sürgün, the movement of a large group of people from one region to another. In this practice some historians of the Ottoman Empire recognize the first roots of the Armenian genocide, just as some European scholars consider the expulsion of the Jews from Spain the first step on the ladder that led to Auschwitz. During the course, students will also learn to question the roots of our present, a time when there are 50 million refugees on Earth. Given the firm belief in the link between religious and national uniformity and the presence of theological clashes caused by the Reformation, early modern diasporas were mainly religious in character. During the course, however, students will also explore the links between religious diasporas and other types of networks (such as those of merchants, artists and political informers).

Lecturer: Lucio Biasiori

Since 2019 I am Associate Professor of early modern history at the University of Padua.

After a BA in Medieval History at the University of Trento in 2006, I graduated in History and Civilization at the University of Pisa and in History and Paleography at the Scuola Normale Superiore (2008), where I also earned my PhD in 2011. I spent research stays at the Warburg Institute and the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti, Florence). Between 2017 and 2019 I was non-tenure-track Assistant Professor in early modern history at the SNS.

I work on the early modern period, with particular reference to the cultural, religious and political history of 16th-century Europe, studied in an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective, with a particular concern for the mobilities within the diaspora of Italian refugees for religious reasons, and the interweaving between the rediscovery of antiquity and the discovery of the New World.  An author on whom I have also extensively worked in this perspective is Niccolò Machiavelli. My publications include L’eresia di un umanista. Celio Secondo Curione nell’Europa del Cinquecento (2015) and Nello scrittoio di Machiavelli. Il Principe e la Ciropedia di Senofonte (2017). I have also edited Machiavelli, Islam and the East: Reorienting the Foundations of Modern Political Thought (with G. Marcocci, 2017) and A Historical Approach to Casuistry: Norms and Exceptions in a Comparative Perspective (with C. Ginzburg, 2018). On the problem of images as a source for the historian, I have recently edited a collection by E. H. Gombrich, Immagini e parole (2019).

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