Appel à contribution : « Dominion of the Sacred. Image, Cartography, Knowledge of the City after the Council of Trent », date limite le 1er octobre 2020


Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Italian political geography was polarized by a number of cities of different sizes and traditions: Rome and Florence, Milan and Naples, Genoa and Venice, Turin and Modena, either ancient republics or new dynastic capitals, satellites of the great European monarchies or small Signorias. The conjunction — less frequently the conflict — between the mandates of the Council of Trent and the interests of the ruling élites of those cities set the foundation for novel forms of social, cultural and spiritual control, fostering new urban structures and policies, deeply conditioned by the presence and government of the sacred.

Prominent issues at the time were the widespread presence of male religious orders and cloistered female orders, the renewed role played by the residing diocesan curias, the parishes with their activities of social recording and control, the stabilization of the confraternities, the construction of places of worship, and the emergence of devotional practices.

In these circumstances, the Italian city became the object of a renewed attention, partly reflecting the political-religious context, and partly responding to some tangible developments of the European urban landscapes: changes in scale due to economic or demographic dynamics, ‘aristocratization’ processes, a broad stiffening of the habits, of relationships and values affecting all aspects of urban life. These are all phenomena that were keenly observed by the contemporaries, who in turn developed new tools for the investigation, analysis and representation of the city, of its spaces and buildings, with the intention of directing its transformation, its architectural and urban renewal.

The culture at that time was imbued with a new interest for the city, for its history and its present condition: the emergence and first orientations of Christian archaeology are just one among many possible examples of this tendency. In the printing market this interest for the city fed into new editorial fields; some books came to have great success and can be considered as emblematic, such as Delle cause della grandezza delle città by Giovanni Botero or Roma sotterranea by Antonio Bosio. Municipal histories, antiquarian guides, inventories of epigraphs, genealogical histories, lives of local saints, heroes and artists, all contributed to a collective imaginary that was built around the definition of the sacred.

A widespread necessity was to develop instruments to understand the city in its topography: plans, views, measurements, either handwritten or printed. Engravings, illustrated books and cartographies became means of government and instruments to disseminate official and controlled representations, hagiographical or slandering in nature, political or polemical. The case of Bologna — subject of printed plans, surveys and of the grand view in the Sala Bologna of the Vatican palace — is emblematic, but the case of the new capital of Turin is equally as compelling. Images of exemplary symbolic significance were conceived in Rome (where the ancient, the Christian and the Papal cities were stratified one onto another), as well as in Milan, Siena, Naples, just to remember a few of the most renowned cases.

New magistracies responsible for water and street management were established in different urban contexts, while medieval magistracies became subject to more rigid control by the ruling authorities. Specific laws were promulgated to regulate the regime of public spaces, more accurately than in the past: rules of urban decorum, expropriation laws, incentives for architectural renewal, etc. The ‘technical’ knowledges and their actors (architects, engineers, land surveyors, jurists, consultants of various kinds) acquired a more relevant and specific role.

We encourage contributions regarding:

  • individual urban realities and aspects of their topographical, landscape and symbolic representations, in relation to the different uses and intentions that arose specifically in the post-Tridentine age;
  • cases of urban interventions directed towards the construction of a new city image in the post-Tridentine age;
  • cross-cutting analyses of aspects, dynamics, and issues connected to the topics previously mentioned (conjunctures, contaminations, turning points, generational affinities …).

This issue of In_bo aims to shed new light on the many grey areas — within a relatively well-known research field — that have not been studied extensively yet: cities, magistracies, emblematic personalities; documentary, graphic and cartographic sources, either ignored in the past, or looking for a new interpretation; paradigmatic cases of urban images and their dissemination.

From a chronological standpoint, the definition ‘post-Tridentine’ must be intended in a wide sense: contributions regarding later transformations of the post-Tridentine layouts, will be welcome. We also wish to read comparisons with other political-institutional, social and cultural contexts, as well as for insights on cases where the instances of the reform of Roman Catholicism met/conflicted with the Protestant Reformations or with non-Christian beliefs.

Possible leads:

  • Sacred cartography (maps and views of the city under the auspices of the Virgin or of patron saints)
  • Cartographies of catastrophe (pestilence, earthquakes, fires, war destructions)
  • Religious orders and maps of the city (surveys commissioned within specific religious orders; maps of convents and monasteries…)
  • Maps and views of poverty/marginality/segregation in the city (hospitals, hospices, ghettos…)
  • Urban images as instruments of religious controversy
  • Urban iconography in the printing market (one-page prints, auteur engravings, book illustrations…)
  • Plans and surveys in the office of urban magistracies
  • City of paper VS city of stone (graphic inventories/physical demarcations of streets, quarters, districts)
  • The representation of the city in the great geo-iconographic cycles (e.g. the Gallery of Maps in the Vatican)
  • Urban images and class distinctions (maps and views as instruments for social demarcation)
  • Instruments, practices, manuals, crafts of urban survey and urban representation

Submission guidelines
Authors are invited to submit an abstract in Italian or English (3000–4000 characters, spaces included) to the email address, no later than October 1st, 2020.

Abstracts have to follow the Journal guidelines. The submission must include a short bio statement (350 characters max, spaces included) and the author’s affiliation.

Click here for more information on the Journal guidelines.

In case of acceptance of the abstract, the full paper must be uploaded on the website The essay could be in Italian or English, between 20.000 and 60.000 characters, spaces included. Full papers will undergo a double-blind peer review process.


  • October 1st, 2020 | Abstract submission
  • October 31st, 2020 | Abstract acceptance notification
  • April 30th, 2021 | Full paper submission
  • June 2021 | Results of peer review process
  • September 2021 | Publication

Appel à contribution à télécharger


Citer ce billet
Florence Larcher (2020, 17 septembre). Appel à contribution : « Dominion of the Sacred. Image, Cartography, Knowledge of the City after the Council of Trent », date limite le 1er octobre 2020. Centre d'Histoire de l'Art de la Renaissance. Consulté le 12 avril 2024, à l’adresse

Florence Larcher

Florence Larcher est doctorante à l'Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Ses recherches sur les images de saint Roch en Italie de 1350 à 1680 l'amènent à étudier la peinture murale, la sérialité et l'itinérance des peintres.

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