Pierre Musitelli

"The Beautiful Land of the Scipios is in Constant Fear of Hunger": Criticism of Papal Government in the Letters of Alessandro Verri from 1767 to 1816

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Keywords: 18th Century Rome; Papal States; Travel Literature; Alessandro and Pietro Verri; Rome's Finances.

This article draws on a conventional representation of XVIIIth century Rome - the poverty of the population, especially in the Agro Romano, in contrast with the Cardinals' courts. It looks at the scathing social and economic chronicle found in Alessandro Verri's correspondence (1741-1816) with his brother Pietro (from 1767 to 1797) and his sister-in-law Vincenza Melzi (from 1794 to 1816) in which he described the endemic and structural problems of Rome's finances and agriculture. Verri is best known for abandoning the critical views he had expressed about Rome and Roman history in the essays he wrote in Milan and during the first months of his stay in Rome before going on to praise the Rome of the Arts and Letters, and to celebrate a vision of papal Rome besieged by the French Revolution and the Empire (see "Roman Nights"). This article aims at highlighting aspects of continuity in the intellectual career of one of the foremost chroniclers of Roman history, from the "Ancien Régime" to Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods.

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