You are here:

Presented by Kate Lowe, Professor of Renaissance History and Culture, Queen Mary University of London. 

Please note this is a series of three events taking place on 18th, 19th and 20th June.

From the mid fifteenth century, all manner of ‘new’ peoples, objects and animals began to arrive in Lisbon from the worldwide Portuguese trading empire; over the next 150 years, examples from these categories were sporadically shipped to the Italian peninsula. These lectures will analyse the ways in which this global empire shaped diverse social, cultural and economic spheres in Renaissance Italy, primarily Florence and Rome. Most people and goods arrived in Italy with their place of origin erased, and the lectures will focus particularly on the issues of provenance and possession. Global goods offered an opportunity for the rich and well connected to acquire novel and rare possessions of both people and things, yet who chose these objects, on what basis, what made them attractive, and what effects they had on the population remain central questions. 

18 June: Renaissance Florence meets sub-Saharan Africa: Mixed-ancestry children at the Innocenti, 1450-80 
The records of the orphanage of the Innocenti in Florence in the second half of the fifteenth century capture the precise moments when babies born to enslaved African mothers (often imported via Lisbon) and usually Florentine fathers were deposited, allowing some understanding of the physical and cultural encounters between them.  

19 June: Buying for the Medici collection in the 1540s: chance, choice and expertise in the acquisition of global goods 
The discovery of unpublished information concerning non-European goods and enslaved people purchased for Cosimo I de’ Medici introduces significant new material for the history of the early Medici collections, raising questions about the relationship between empires, acquisition and knowledge.

20 June: Possessing consciousness of the global world in Renaissance Rome: a Vatican official in Lisbon in the 1590s 
A corpus of letters and avvisi written from Lisbon and sent to Rome at the end of the sixteenth century shows what was considered newsworthy or interesting on the global stage, which non-European acquisitions were considered desirable, and what attitudes and behaviours were assimilated by residence in a globally mixed population. 

Organised by the Warburg Institute and Princeton University Press. 

Free and open to all. 

Image credit: Cantino Planosphere, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena, Italy (1502)