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From the Enlightenment to Business Models. Episode 7A. Who moved the ways of the Enlightenment in Italy. La Dolce Vita Italiana.

The Italian Peninsula’s historic background.
It is a privilege to try to expose the main whereabouts of the Italian people. After the Etruscans were expelled from Rome in 510 BCE, the Roman Republic began its expansion journey and conveyed a series of domestic and political regional conflicts with former Greek important settings. An example of these clashes was the Punic wars and the quarrels with Macedonia.  The Roman Republic went through a series of consecutive social, political, religious, and economic transformations to begin with its concept of a Roman Empire official birth and enlargement took place when Emperor Augustus’ control began. He was the emperor that was governing Rome when Jesus Christ was born.   Rome experienced greater development in talent and infrastructure, particularly in terms of a specific corporate strategy characterized by high standards in urban planning: related to architecture, building materials, pavements, water supplies, civil and military machines, sciences, sportive event colosseums, and other public proper community installment institutions. Within the Roman Empire period in office (27 BC to 393 AD), the Italian peninsula was a tiny section of the whole Roman international political system established around the Mediterranean.

Source: as indicated in the image. Illustrative and non-commercial image. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

When Constantinople replaced Rome as the new capital of the Empire in 330 AD, Christianity also emerged as the official religion of the Roman Emperors. Some decades later, the recognition of Constantinople, acknowledged the concept of a Western vs Eastern Roman Empire, in which Rome always remained as the center of the Christian Church. At the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, its legacy remained for several centuries afterward.

Between 500 to 1000, the Italian Peninsula received successful waves of subjugators: The Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Lombards, the Franks, and even the Arabs. An important event in this period is the ascendance of Gregory the Great (a Roman Senatorial profile figure) as a Pope, which honors the beginning of the independence or autonomy land of the papacy states, the expansion of the monasteries and respective scriptoriums, the patronage of Christian architecture in many churches, and everything linked “God holy saints” architecture of Italy. The year 800 summits the ascendance of Charlemagne, king of the Franks, as “Emperor and Augustus”, by Pope Leo III in Rome. This coronation, which took place in Saint Peter´s Basilica legitimized the ruler’s concept of “heir-to-be of the Holy Roman Empire and Champion of the Catholic Church” for the first time ever in the history of the European world.  Meanwhile, the Holy Roman Empire began its course, and the creation of self-governing city-states ruled by princes, dukes, marquis, and earls; stood as the trendy organization of the Italian territory.

Look at the video History of Italy (477 – 2017), courtesy of the Historical Mapping Youtube Channel.
Illustrative and non-commercial image. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

The location of the Italian peninsula allowed it to become a set-up for multiple ports and urban posts perfect for trading.  In the northern part, these trading conditions allowed rapid urban growth; meanwhile in Sicily and the south of the region kept the monarchies or kingdoms. The northwest and central Italian cities were ruled by the German Emperors since 902, and the “Signorie” concept of governments with permanent lordships began. From the 11th to the 14th century, power struggles between the Holy Roman Empire lands, the papacy, and these city-states characterized the region. The Norman Rule took place between 1059 to 1194, and they inserted the concept of the Norman tradition of art patronage. Investments in architectural artistic infrastructure and the luxurious renovation of cathedrals, churches, and sculptural monuments, reflected the strength of the civic and religious life in the communities. The German Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of Hohenstaufen (r. 1152-1190) was threatened by the autonomy of each of the Italian communes and attempted to reassert the imperial domain in the northern Italian cities.

The expansion of trade and the development of the banking industry, allowed the Italian economy to prosper, particularly in Florence, with the Bardi and Peruzzi families. The Early signs of the Renaissance started, and the “commission” system for artists and professional craftsmen also came into existence.

Between 1200 to 1400, the Imperial authority over Italy was dissolved during a long interregnum in the Holy Roman Empire. To prevent its restoration, the papacy invited the French Charles of Anjou to conquer the south of Italy and Sicily, beginning the period of the Angevin domination of this southern part. The upper half of the peninsula was retained in authority by the Holy Roman Empire.  The House of Anjou Durazzo (1382-1435) shaped the Kingdom of Naples for a few decades.

We can observe that Italy was segmented into regions of dominance clearly separated by its geographically rugged landscape. For example, the northeast coast of the Italian Peninsula is Venice, with more than 119 islets in a lagoon to the sea. Venice developed as one of the largest cities in Europe, because of trade that was strengthened during the Byzantine emperors. From the 8th century onwards, Venice was growing in the sophistication of its banking and trading. “Constantinople granted Venice trading privileges in the Eastern Roman Empire in return for helping the Byzantine Emperor resist the Norman incursions”. Since those days, Venice shaped the link between the Muslims of the Near East and Continental Europe. Trading with the Islamic regions (what today is Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Iran) was forged slowly over 1000 years, and the exchange of supplies from the bazaars of the Middle East to the Markets of Venice was recognized all over Europe. Venice was the door to receive multiple works, objects, books, and intellectual ideas which entered between the Feudal Medieval to the Baroque Enlightenment periods. Disgracefully, Venice began to decline when Constantinople was conquered by Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.

Art in Italy was flowing and expanding with the patronage model. Even when the Aragon House took the power of the south (1282-1516) and then the Crown of Spain (1516-1713) took Naples with the Bourbons, art never stopped flourishing.  

Gulia Farnese was interpreted by the Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek. Illustrative and non-commercial video. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

Corporate Strategy as an Art (1).
Rome was always a major international power, in which the popes had control of the funding of its splendor. The wealthiest and most influential families such as Colonna, Farnese, and Medici, were directly correlated with the election of the Pope’s throne, and their influence extended beyond religious and artistic matters. But into civic administration and political leadership.  The printing press was introduced in Italy in 1464, opening the door to the diffusion of literature, poetry, theater, and opera scripts all over Italy. Between 1400-1800, artistic innovation continued growing because the sponsors were putting their money into art, which was treasured not only as a sign of wealth and prosperity for churches and infrastructure in the city-states but also as an elite dynamic force to express power through beauty in terms of luxury and magnificence. Figures of recognized contributions to art arose during this time: Filarete (from Florence), the Tuscan Fra Angelico, the Sicilian painter Antonio da Messina, the designer Baccio Pontelli, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Pinturicchio, Roselli and Piero di Cosimo.  Others were the Florentines Pollaiuolo, Lippi and his son, Michelangelo, Bramante, and Sansovino. Raphael´s work under the patronage of the Pope was succeeding, while others such as Raimondi, Da Sangallo, Taddeo, Zuccaro, Luciani, Caravaggio, Buonaccorsi, Romano and da Udine. Finally, Leonardo Davinci made his entrance too. Other architects, painters, and sculptors were extremely busy with projects from the Pope and wealthy families, such as Della Porta, Montorsoli, De Rossi Salviati, da Vignola, Pulzone, Fontana, and Carracci. Each family of power wanted to commission the best painting fresco, the bigger the better, imposing the Baroque Style in 1600-1800.

The Medici family who was ruling the Florentine court for several centuries is also an interesting piece of study for us. Numerous books about this family abound in the marketplaces. Nevertheless, for the time being, we will only comment that Tuscany´s territories were the domains of the Medici who then were dethroned by the House of Habsburg-Lorraine in 1737. “The Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, first attained wealth and political power in Florence, Italy, in the 13th century through its success in commerce and banking. Beginning in 1434 with the rise to power of Cosimo de Medici (or Cosimo the Elder), the family’s patronage of the arts and humanities made Florence the cradle of the Renaissance, Europe’s scientific, artistic, and cultural rebirth. The Medicis produced four popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV, and Leo XI), and their genes have been mixed into many of Europe’s royal families. The last Medici ruler died without a male heir in 1737, ending the family dynasty after almost three centuries” (2). In the meantime, all the ambitious projects of urban renewal, development of infrastructure, and artistic expressions reached the spectacular apex in the Enlightenment period for Italy (1600-1800). The aim of the papacy was to sponsor and convert Rome into the world capital of greatest beauty and in consequence the symbol of Catholic glory. Rome passed to become the hub of learning for the arts.

The Enlightenment in Italy.
We perceive that Italy lived through a couple of phases in the Enlightenment. The first phase, which is described with the figures of the philosophers that I will proceed to list below, was developed between 1600-1800. This is the post-Dutch Spinoza season, in which some radicals took the courage to introduce Enlightenment ideas in Italy. Most of the Enlightenment profiles of this publication were born or were part of a group of “adventurers” who resided in Milan, Venice, and Naples. It is obvious that they were subjects of scrutiny or persecuted by the Catholic Inquisition, or they were forced to be exiled or condemned to prison. Then the second wave of the Enlightenment occurred in the early 19th century, which provoked the phase that is called the Resorgimento, a phase into which we will not dig deeper in this saga. 

The majority of the characters of the 16th and 17th Italian Enlightenment plot were seduced by the literature that was coming from the Netherlands and Britain, in consequence, after Giannone´s oppression in Turin, his scape-goat example, all together with the accusations against Antonio Conti; were enough reasons for the Early Italian Enlighteners to turn off their public ascendancy in the context of the Inquisition and papal book censorship. We believe that the “age of reason” continued under covered, and that is why the Illuminismo Italiano grew up beneath a surface of clandestine secrecy, behind undisclosed elite circles of specific city-estates in Italy, and it evolved into several movements that were furtive and condemned openly by protestants and Catholics. In addition, it is logical that the Italian Enlightenment personas were not as radical as Giannone’s. And if they were, the secret was well concealed to keep their life safe.

Let´s proceed to list the individuals who were related to the Early Enlightenment in Italy:

  1. Leonardo di Capoa (1617-1695)
  2. Paolo Mattia Doria (1662-1746)
  3. Gian Vincenzo Gravina (1664-1718)
  4. Costantino Grimaldi (1667-1750)}
  5. Giambattista Vico (1668-1744)
  6. Ludovico Muratori (1672-1750)
  7. Pietro Giannone (1676-1748)
  8. Antonio Conti (1677-1749)
  9. Antonio Genovesi (1712-1769)
  10. Carlo di Firmian (1718-1782)
  11. Fortunato de Felice (1723-1789)
  12. Pietro Verri (1728-1797)
  13. Carlantonio Pilati (1733-1802)
  14. Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794)
  15. Giacinto Dragonetti  (1738-1818)
  16. Guissepe Gorani (1740-1819)
  17. Alessandro Verri (1741-1816)
  18. Gaetano Filangieri (1752-1788)

There are other relevant philosophers who were involved in the spread of Newtonism. Several Italians were capable of questioning nature and constructing original and verifiable laws through observation and research, particularly in the medical-biological fields.  We can name Francesco Maria Zanotti (1691-1777), Francesco Algarotti (1712-1764), Jesuit Boscovich (1711-1787), Jacopo Stellini (1688-1770), Francesco Mario Pagano (1748-1799), Melchiorre Delfico (1744-1835), Paolo Frisi (1738-1784) and some other Italian Jansenists (3).

Characteristics of the Italian Enlightenment.
According to Owen Chadwick, the Italian enlightenment, or Illuminsmo Italiano was characterized by the following circumstances:

  1. The Italian city-states’ autonomous configuration: No one thought of Italy as a whole country in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The Italian peninsula was a series of small regions, governed by different groups: duchies, kingdoms, counties, marquisates, principalities, and republics. The main states were: the Duchy of Savoy, the Duchy of Milan, the Duchy of Mantua, the Duchy of Parma, The Duchy of Modena, the Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Ferrara, the Duchy of Ferrara, the Marquisate of Saluzzo, the Marquisate of Montferrat, the Republic of Genoa, the Republic of Lucca, the Republic of Venice and the Kingdoms of Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and Naples. Milan was under the Vienna-Habsburgs domain. Naples under the Spanish-bourbons domain. So, the Italian Illumines were simply: learned marquises, liberal priests, angry anticlerical, cultured bibliophiles, and probably some undercovered Arabs who were seen as Italians, and remained from the Byzantine Islamic influence in Venice.
  2. The Papal State: Rome was the place of the Pope, and his authority was exercised directly from there, in all the city-states and within the Holy Roman German Empire. All Italian churches were dependent upon the administration of the Papacy office. The figure of power of the pope was enormous all over Europe, with the exception of the protestant regions in the Northern part of Germany and Britain. The Roman Inquisition agency, which was established in 1542, was designed chiefly to combat Protestantism. But during the Enlightenment, in Italy, it was used to fight the atheism and incredulity coming from the radical enlightenment precursors. The Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“Index of Forbidden Books”) was established by the Roman Catholic Church in 1559.
  3. The pragmatism of the Italian Illuminismo: Italian Illuminates representatives were more concerned to apply the ideas of the Enlightenment instead of discussing them in the abstraction mood. They were trying to implement reforms that could fix their difficult problems of famine, with economics, inflation, poverty, prosperity, government efficiency, penal reforms, and education.
  4. The Italian genius spirit: Original minds were flourishing continuously since the Renaissance, in Italy. Galileo Galilei, Copernicus, DaVinci, and many brilliant scientists leveled up the bar for the next generations to come. The Universities despite their ups and downs, were relatively well-endowed, and many studious were already working on scientific discoveries in the realms of architecture, arts, and urban planning. Naples was a gig for the nascent theories of trade in political economy. And there were members of the elites who were not only attracted to study and improve their libraries but to travel and get acknowledged personally by the International Enlightenment figures, not by letters. Naples was the hub for Filangieri, Grimaldi, Galanti, Galiani, Vico, and Genovesi. The opposite of the Italian Napolitana illumination was Milan, which under Austrian rule, offered moderate figures working inside the government, such as the Verri brothers, Beccaria, and Frisi.
  5. Finally, Italy was the cradle of the Catholic Enlightenment. The Society of Jesus was part of this wave, in a different sense than the philosophes, because the Jesuits were against Catholic Despotism. “The Jesuits quickly assumed a prominent role in the Counter-Reformation defense and revival of Catholicism, in an anticlerical context of the Radical Enlightenment. With the discovery of the new world, the Jesuits won the antipathy of the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers, because of their direct defense of the indigenous populations in the Americas. The Portuguese crown expelled the Jesuits in 1759, France made them illegal in 1764, and Spain and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies took other repressive action in 1767” (4). The Jesuits survived despite that their order was almost eradicated, and they have continued their work to our day.
  6. The robust banking industry in Italy: The bankers of Europe were in Italy, particularly in the Northern part of it. The early Italian merchant bankers developed all the resource capabilities in financing. The foreign exchange in Florence, Milan, and other main northern Cities related to financial centers like Antwerp, London, Bruges, and Amsterdam. The robust loaning plus charged interest activated wealth to unlimited levels through the Jews and the Lombards (pawnbrokers). Genoa’s first instruments of public debt were famous. The first multinational banks in Europe belonged to super companies of the Bardi and Peruzzi families, as well as the Acciaioulis and the Medicis. Financial innovations flourished constantly in this region.

Who was who in the Italian Illuminismo?
The Enlightenment Phase of Italia is quite ample. I have prepared some profiles today, and they belong to the Early Enlightenment season.  I will upload the rest of Illumines de la Dolce Vita in the following days.  

Please download it for your records. Print it in PDF and save it in your files. Blessings.

Next week, we will continue exploring the profiles of the Enlightenment figures of Italy. The next topic is “Who moved the ways of the Enlightenment. The Italians Section II”.

Ocean Musical Section
In the ocean, there are constant trials. No one knows what will happen next. The Southern Ocean mainly holds different weather systems, that affect our journey. At the moment of this publication, 11th Hour Racing had to deal with collective decision-making to repair both rudders that were damaged during the last hours. The problem wasn´t one, but two rudders, with just one spare to correct it. After listening to his own intuitive voice and experience, and with the support of other opinions (external advice) the skipper of the 11th Hour Racing team decided to repair one of them, and let´s see what will happen next before the whole fleet reaches the next weather system. In the meantime, all the boats have been inspecting their respective vessels, centimeter by centimeter, trying to find the minimum vestige of damage.

This is something that we must do all the time: watch, observe, study, and repair. And if the damage is too high, as the Guyot team did, return to a safe port for repairing their IMOCA hull.  Team Europe reports that the repair work on their IMOCA hull is proceeding faster than expected. But the good news is, the Guyot team will continue racing, and the yacht will be moved to Itajai, late next week.  Our lesson for today is: no matter how well prepared we are, in every journey of our life, particularly in the middle of uncertain external conditions, we are on duty to check, verify, to double inspect our gears and mediums for survival. Sometimes it takes a hard decision to reverse the journey as Guyot managed. And sometimes, we also have to decide between two conceivable cracks and continue with just one injury repaired. Above all, we always have to make sure that our security and safety (as humans) are always privileged beyond competing and winning a race. Always.

The compilation of music that we have chosen for you today is a mix of different classical pieces 18th Century from la Dolce Vita Italiana. It is a collection of Baroque adagios, interpreted by the ITS Philharmonic Orchestra, and directed by Louis Jullien.

Illustrative and non-commercial video. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.
Illustrative and non-commercial video. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

See you next week with the uploading of the pending profiles of the Illuminismo italiano. Then next Friday 17th of March, we will begin with the contextual analysis of the French Lumieres. Thank you and blessings for reading to me.

Leg 3 is in full disclosure towards Itajai. Photo Source:

Sources of reference are utilized today. All are listed on the slides and below




Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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