HomeEssere uomini di “lettere”: segretari e politica culturale nel Cinquecento

HomeEssere uomini di “lettere”: segretari e politica culturale nel Cinquecento

*  *  *

Published on Thursday, August 21, 2014


As part of two research projects lead at the University of Liège – EpistolART and Artists, men of letters and secretaries of the Duke in the court of Cosimo I de’ Medici – a conference dedicated to the figure of the secretary in the sixteenth century will be held on the 26th and 27th of February in Liège. The primary aim of this meeting is to question the secretary’s role as linking between the arts and letters to political institutions.



The publication of Francesco Sansovino's text "Del secretario" in 1564 in Venice in a first edition of four volumes, and then in 1579 in his complete version of seven, marks an important step in the evolution of the secretary's figure and the role he played. This text aims to define in an accurate way the tasks allotted to the secretary in order to help the prince. The Roman humanist and man of letters' work appears in an important transition period which had already begun, without having been completed, the hard and nonlinear change that
will see the secretary's role shifting from erudite counsellor, often a scholar and a poet, at the prince's service, to the role of servant in a more practical and administrative function of the secretary (in which the secretaries had always been involved but never in an exclusive way).

Therefore in Sansovino's text, even if there is still a reference to the secretary's culture and to his human and intellectual virtues, it is in the part devoted to the writing of letters (for which precise templates and detailed rules are written, with joined models and a part of the author's correspondence) which seems of a capital importance. Around 1560, this process was then already started, that lead the secretary to become the prince's "scribe", without any kind of political power or a true cultural role - such as, for example, Pietro Bembo's at the pontifical court or Ariosto in Ferrara. Alessandro Tassoni regrets this fact in his "Considerazioni sopra le Rime di Petrarca" in 1618. Writing about the poet's use of the expression "antique secretary", Tassoni wrote "Ottimamente fece il Petrarca a metterci quell’aggiunto d’Antico: poiché i Segretarj moderni non sono più da i segreti, ma dallo scrivere, così chiamati: di maniera che chiunque scrive oggidì per altri, in cambio di scrivano, o di scrittore, o di cacalettere, per segretario fa nominarsi”.

However, we would like to investigate that figure many-sided of the secretary who is together a counsellor, a man of the court, a scholar, an intellectual, an expert in political matters as well in artistic culture and diplomacy and who also plays a crucial role in the exercise of power.

Guidelines submission

The proposals, written in French, Italian or English, must be sent by e-mail to the organizers in abstracts which should not exceed 300 words (2000 characters with spaces), with the communication's title and a short curriculum vitae 

by the 20 September 2014.

Organizing committee

Scientific committee

  • Claudia Berra (Università di Milano)
  • Jean-Louis Fournel (Université Paris 8)
  • Silvia Ginzburg (Università di Roma Tre)
  • Dominique Allart (Université de Liège)
  • Laure Fagnart (Université de Liège)
  • Antonio Geremicca (Université de Liège)
  • Hélène Miesse (Université de Liège)
  • Paola Moreno (Université de Liège)


  • Liège, Belgium (4000)


  • Saturday, September 20, 2014


  • secrétaire, renaissance, art, politique culturelle, cinquecento


  • Hélène Miesse
    courriel : recherchenorme [at] ulg [dot] ac [dot] be
  • Antonio Geremicca
    courriel : antonio [dot] geremicca [at] ulg [dot] ac [dot] be

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Hélène Miesse
    courriel : recherchenorme [at] ulg [dot] ac [dot] be


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Essere uomini di “lettere”: segretari e politica culturale nel Cinquecento », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, August 21, 2014, https://doi.org/10.58079/qqw

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search