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    Making sense of the news: Micanzio’s letters, Cavendish, Bacon, and the Thirty Years War

    De Vivo, Filippo (2019) Making sense of the news: Micanzio’s letters, Cavendish, Bacon, and the Thirty Years War. In: Findlen, P. and Sutherland, S. (eds.) The Renaissance of Letters: Knowledge and Community in Italy, 1300-1650. London, UK: Routledge, pp. 293-317. ISBN 9781138367494.

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    Scholars trying to make sense of early modern letters of news – a growing genre in the sixteenth and seventeenth century – need to take seriously the ways in which letter-writers and recipients themselves made sense of the news at the time: the reasons why and the ways in which they selected, understood, presented or mis-represented information. Did they try to turn huge masses of detailed, ephemeral, specific reports into more enduring teachings and ideas? This article suggests a difference between personal letters of (public) news and professional newsletters, and it studies the case of Venetian friar Fulgenzio Micanzio’s letters to William Cavendish, second earl of Devonshire. Written over the period 1615-28, Micanzio’s letters were translated into English for circulation by Thomas Hobbes. Micanzio had extremely broad information covering much of Europe and ranging from the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East to Iberia, but he offered not just news but above all commentary. He elaborated on the events to highlight connections among distant war fronts and countries. He read news in light of classical knowledge and used ancient history to draw conclusions about present-day affairs. He sought to uncover the hidden intentions of actors behind the appearance of their actions. In turn, readers saw his comments as particularly valuable, as we know from marginal annotations, added notes, and possible borrowings from his letters. In particular, the correspondence was well known to Francis Bacon and may have informed some of his thinking on European politics and religion at the time of the Thirty Years War.


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Filippo De Vivo
    Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2019 18:43
    Last Modified: 02 Dec 2019 18:43


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