Progetti di ricerca

Gli archivi segreti del nunzio: diplomazia papale e società multiconfessionale europea prima della Guerra dei Trent’anni

The Nuncio's Secret Archives: Papal Diplomacy and European Multi-denominational Societies Before the Thirty Years War

Ambito disciplinare Macroarea 3

Area scientifica Area 16 - Scienze politiche e sociali

Tipologia finanziamento P.R.I.N. (Ex 40%) - Progetti di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale (Finanziamenti MIUR)

Tipo di progetto Nazionale

Stato progetto Aperto

Data avvio: 28 March 2020

Data termine: 27 March 2023

Importo: 113.160,00


Coordinatore di progetto Prof.ssa Elena Bonora (Università di Parma)

Responsabile Unità Prof.ssa Dorit Raines (Università Ca' Foscari)

Responsabile Unità Prof. Matteo Al Kalak (Unversità di Modena e Reggio Emilia)


Through a pioneering approach integrating Digital Humanities and traditional research, the project aims to reorganize for the first time an extraordinary private archive, now divided between Italy and Kansas, decisive for reconstructing the history of papal diplomacy in the crucial period between the peace of Augsburg (1555) and the Thirty Years War. The archive, created by two of the most high-ranking diplomats of the late 16th century, G.F. Commendone and A.M. Graziani, will be valorized through the portal Graziani Archives, which, in addition to providing a reference model for the interrogation and study of private political archives of modern age, will give access to unpublished documentation, mostly informal and very different from the official and already known one, describing with unprecedented richness and depth the vast networks activated by papal diplomats, their relationship with the regular orders and the clash between papacy and multi-confessional space. The construction of the portal, combined with a rigorous historical-archival investigation, will activate a research laboratory that will give an impulse to a new interpretive perspective, capable of finally including the history of papal diplomacy in the European historiographical debate on multi-confessionality.


The so-called Graziani archives is an exceptional documentary complex, made up of letters and memorials, hand-written newsletters, reports and travel diaries, orations and instructions that allow us to explore an extremely vast geo-political territory, extended to Central-Eastern Europe (Holy Roman Empire, Grand Duchy of Poland-Lithuania), eventually to include both Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The archives is today materially divided between the Graziani family of Vada (Livorno) and, for a minor part, the manuscript section of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library (Lawrence, KS). The dispersal of materials and the archives’ huge size (including more than 2000 letters) has so far discouraged systematic inventory, hindering their use by scholars. Yet, these precious documents open a window onto a universe rich in relations and exchanges on both sides of the Alps, from which emerges also an activity of information gathering on the territory by a cohesive group of papal diplomats. Exploring this network will lead to a better understanding of the extraordinary wealth of European-wide political exchanges, as well as, above all, to the discovery of an unexpected image of a papal diplomacy intent on confronting itself in a free and proactive manner with an unprecedented fabric of jurisdictions, powers and institutions shaped by the religious peaces.

The project proposes to:
a) enhance this stratified private political archive through the creation of an “open access” research portal, which virtually unites the two sections of the original archive, allowing the scholar to use them in an integrated manner;
b) make an innovative contribution to the understanding of the early stages of papal diplomacy in the aftermath of the peace of Augsburg (1555) through a complete divulgation of Graziani’s archives, bringing to light an unexpected range of perceptions, knowledge and orientations developed by Roman mediators in the face of heresy and European multi-denominational space.

Piano delle attività:

Starting from this point of new information, the research will focus primarily on investigating the projects promoted by the papal envoys and their awareness of practices of religious coexistence. Some preliminary studies conducted by members of the working group on the documentation show how Commendone and Graziani identified in Poland an area of strategic importance not only for the expansion of Catholicism, but also for a re-articulation of trade between the Baltic area, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean based on new confessional geographies. Correspondences and other materials also reveal the progressive transformation of the language of papal diplomats, increasingly emancipated from the nosological and botanical metaphors of theological origin on heresy.

Secondly, in line with the historiographic renewal that took place in the history of diplomacy, the proposed project aims at the reconstruction of the formal and informal networks in which the envoys of Rome inserted themselves, their role in the intellectual and artistic exchanges in Italy and beyond the Alps, as well as their function as intermediaries between cultures and extremely different educational institutions. An in-depth analysis will be dedicated particularly to the links between the network of relations which gravitated around Commendone and Graziani and the environment of the University of Padua (professors, students from Germany, Poland, Hungary) as well as the intersections of this network with the circle of Gian Vincenzo Pinelli, another important terminal in Padua of international information and political communication circles extended to the central-eastern areas of Europe.

Thirdly, the early and intense relationship established by these papal diplomats with the Society of Jesus will be reconsidered, focusing on collaborative relationships but also on the differentiation of roles, prerogatives and methods of intervention of the various mediators in the service of Rome.



Si è concluso nel marzo 2024 il progetto The Nuncio’s Secret Archives (PRIN 2017 JMPYTA), condotto durante un quadriennio da quattro unità di ricerca (Università di Parma, PI; Università di Modena-Reggio Emilia, Padova e Venezia-Ca’ Foscari). Nel suo ambito è stato sviluppato il portale Graziani Archives, un grande dataset nel quale è confluita una ricca documentazione prodotta da due diplomatici pontifici – Giovanni Francesco Commendone (1524-1584) e Antonio Maria Graziani (1537-1611) –, figure centrali per lo studio del confronto tra la Chiesa di Roma e l’Europa multiconfessionale dopo la pace di Augusta (1555). Si tratta di 3300 lettere (regestate e accompagnate dalle relative immagini, circa 7500) che attestano non solo le missioni svolte dai due nunzi papali nell’Impero e in Polonia, ma anche la fitta rete di relazioni italiane ed europee entro la quale essi operarono. Tale materiale (confluito nella sezione Lettere del portale) è conservato nell’archivio della famiglia nobile Graziani di Borgo Sansepolcro, oggi diviso tra il nucleo principale di Villa Graziani a Vada (LI), la Kenneth Spencer Research Library di Lawrence (Kansas) e altre istituzioni europee e statunitensi. Nel portale l’archivio viene ricomposto virtualmente, mediante un inventario unificato delle sue circa 800 buste (XV-XX secolo) nella sezione Inventari.
Il portale comprende altre quattro sezioni: Persone e Luoghi (schede descrittive di oltre duemila persone e circa 700 luoghi geolocalizzati, elaborate a partire dalle lettere e inserite in stretta collaborazione tra le unità di ricerca di Padova e Venezia), Viaggio di G.F. Commendone (con mappa interattiva dell’itinerario compiuto da Commendone nei territori dell’Impero), Biblioteca di A.M. Graziani (elenco di 177 libri riconducibili alla biblioteca personale di Graziani). Le sezioni sono collegate tra loro e interrogabili sia tramite la funzione di ricerca semplice che attraverso una ricerca strutturata, con applicazione di diversi filtri.