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Archival visit report

Archival Visit Report – Antonio Pattori (2023, DPhil History)

In early December 2023 I visited Northern Italy, specifically the cities of Mantua and Piacenza, for an archival research trip. I would firstly like to thank the Trustees of the Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund for their generosity which allowed me to cover travel expenses and a place to stay in Mantua. The two archives are central founts of information for my research on conspiracies and conspiracies theories in Renaissance Europe, and more specifically in Italy. I specifically focused on ambassadorial reports. These ambassadors recounted various political plots, conspiracies, and actively facilitated the spread of disinformation across European courts and cities through their various networks. The research undertaken during these archival visits will form the bulk of an article aiming to place the 1540 dismissal, and subsequent execution, of Thomas Cromwell by King Henry VIII in a wider European geopolitical context. In essence, through an analysis of transnational diplomatic materials, it will be possible to reconstruct other factors in the fall of Henry VIII’s eminence grise.

Indeed, what emerged is that intricate diplomatic webs and networks facilitated England’s realignment with the Holy Roman Empire. The removal of Cromwell was simply a conditio sine qua non for a new Anglo-Imperial alliance. Further, the research visits also allowed me to take several photographs of Early Modern cyphers and codes which will be used for the ‘Cracking the Prince’s Code’ project: a Digital Humanities project which myself and Dr Giovanni Pala (History Faculty, Oxford) have been working on. The project aims to use digital and cryptographic methods to break early modern undeciphered diplomatic correspondence. The research visit in Mantua and Piacenza, thus, will not only form a central part of my doctoral thesis, but also of two very important and connected academic endeavours. The research visits also allowed me to have discussions and conversations with specialists in this field, from archivists to fellow researchers. I am incredibly grateful to the Trustees of the Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund for helping to make this archival research trip possible.

Find out more about the range of travel grants and scholarships available to assist Univ students on our Travel Grants page or read further travel reports.

Published: 10 May 2024

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