6pm-8pm Monday 12 December 2016
Monash University Prato Centre
Palazzo Vai, via Pugliesi 26, Prato, Italy
'To appease the rightful resentment of God':
Rome's response to calamity during the 1703 earthquake
The series of devastating earthquakes that have hit central Italy in the past six months have highlighted what every Italian knows but is afraid to admit, namely the extreme vulnerability of Italy’s population and its artistic patrimony to natural hazard, and earthquakes especially. And yet Italy has a long and painful history of dealing with these events, a history whose traces can be found in artefacts, paintings, literary works, and the historical documentation. This lecture will use the earthquakes of 1703 in central Italy and Rome as a prism through which to investigate how Italian culture and society responded to these events, and how these events in turn shaped future responses to other disasters. In doing so, it will explore contemporary explanations of natural disasters that interweave science and religion to reveal enduring elements of what constitutes Italy’s own ‘culture of disaster’.
Dr Monica Azzolini is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Edinburgh. She has written extensively on Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical studies and on Renaissance astrology. Her first book, The Duke and the Stars: Astrology and Politics in Renaissance Milan, appeared with Harvard/I Tatti Studies in Italian Renaissance History in 2013. She is now working on a new project that investigates the distinctive culture of disaster of early modern Italy from the joint perspectives of religious history and the history of science. She hopes that this project will eventually expand into a more global study of the significance of natural disasters in reshaping the European understanding of nature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Following Dr Azzolini’s lecture, Professor John Henderson (Birkbeck College and Monash University) will launch a new book, Studies on Florence and the Italian Renaissance in Honour of F.W. Kent, edited by Peter Howard and Cecilia Hewlett, and published by Brepols in October 2016.