Art, religion, and diplomacy in the life of Costantino de’ Servi (1554 – 1622)



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n patischino simili uendette’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 1363, fol. nn (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in The Hague, to Andrea Cioli in Florence – 10 Nov 1615).

cxlvi ‘l’esser Io lontano dalli diuini vfitij et nelle forze di Nimici nostri per causa di religione’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 75 (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 5 Apr 1619).

cxlvii ‘li muratori di Talia che in 20 Giorni compariranno’. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 75 (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 5 Apr 1619).

cxlviii ‘qua si puo dir sepolto fra le boscaglie in Vna meschina Citta á doue risegono questi Principi di Sassonia’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 900 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 25 Sep 1619). This harsh description of Weimar has a Tacitean ring to it, with the mention of the ‘woods’.

cxlix On the new Weimar Residenzschloss, see Chapter I.

cl ‘solo á solo in lingua Italiana’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 900 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 25 Sep 1619).

cli ‘pensa pi[u] [all’]Interesso di Stato che á quel del Anima nè se pensa adaltra cosa che ochupar quel daltri con mille scuse di religione’. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 900 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 25 Sep 1619).

clii ‘meglio sarebbe assai che vi unissero in sieme dacordo voi altri Principi contro á glinfedeli e’ non fedeli di Chisto che acquisteresti magiori stati e regni’. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 900 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 25 Sep 1619).

cliii ‘lassate stare la religione e’ uedrete che sarete contenti dá noi Cattolici che ancora noi amiamo la liberta di stato e’ conseruatione di nostra Religione’. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 900 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 25 Sep 1619).

cliv ‘Se non fussi la persuasione delli Principi di Analt sua Zij non sarebbe in questi pensieri, come é dal principe Lodouico et principe Christiano che é oggi per esser Generale d[ell’V]nione’ [If it wasn’t for the persuasion of his uncles the Princes of Anhalt he would not have these thoughts, but he is (persuaded) by Prince Ludwig (I of Anhalt-Köthen) and Prince Christian (I of Anhalt-Bernburg), who is to be General of the (Protestant Union) today]. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 900 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 25 Sep 1619).

clv ‘V.A. spendera gran’ Dinari che si farebbe dua Palazi cosi cominciati’. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 996, fol. 900 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Weimar, to Curzio Picchena in Florence – 25 Sep 1619).

clvi The precise character of his letters will be discussed in Section III of Chapter III.

clvii On the relationship between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papacy, I follow F. Diaz, ‘Il Granducato di Toscana: i Medici’, in G. Galasso, Storia d’Italia (Torino: UTET, 1976), vol. XIII, tomo I.

clviii This universalism was most evident in the field of knowledge and the sciences. See R.J.W. Evans, Rudolf II and his World: A Study in Intellectual History, 1576-1612 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973).

clix For details on the different patrons of Costantino throughout his lifetime, see supra, Chapter I.

clx For my understanding of religious exile and its importance in shaping confessional identity I am indebted to L. Corens and D. Van Der Linden, who gave a lecture series on ‘Early Modern Religious Exile’ during Lent Term 2015 at the History Faculty for Paper 16 (‘European History, c. 1450-1750’) of the Historical Tripos.

clxi J. Whaley, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire (2012), vol 1: ‘From Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia, 1493-1648’ offers a vivid description of the mounting tensions in the 1610s. See also C. Sodini, L’Ercole Tirreno: Guerra e dinastia medicea nella prima metà del ’600 (Florence: Olschki, 2001).

clxii ‘Hauendo Noi inteso dal Signore Conte Don roberto Sherley Ambasciatore del Serenissimo et potentissimo Gran Sophij Re di persia che fra le altre Comissioni che portaua à noi di quella Maesta ne doueua ricerchare dauere un Huomo eccellente che fussi uniuersale in diuerse sorte di professione […] le abbiamo concesso Gostantino de Serui.’ Verbatim from ASF, Miscellanea Medicea, Filza 609, fols. 69–70 (‘Patente à Gostantino de’ Serui del primo Novembre 1609 Per la sua Gita in Persia’). What is preserved in the Archivio appears to be a draft of the original, on which at least two different hands have worked.

clxiii ‘Crediamo però che assai breve fusse il servizio prestato a quel signore; giacchè troviamo, che non era ancor finito l'anno 1610 ch'egli era in patria’. Verbatim from Baldinucci, pp. 214–15.

clxiv ‘che io vadia in Inghilterra dispensandomi della gita in Persia’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 1226, fol. 43 (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Trento, to Belisario Vinta in Florence – 20 Nov 1610), as quoted in Pagnini, ch. IV, pp. 202–03.

clxv On Sherley’s movements I follow L. Lockhart, ‘European Contacts with Persia, 1350-1736’, in P. Jackson & L. Lockhart (eds), The Cambridge History of Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), Vol. 6: ‘The Timurid and Safavid Periods’.

clxvi As I have been able to learn from Lockhart, ‘European Contacts with Persia’, there existed two routes to Persia other than the Muscovy trail: one involved the circumnavigation of Africa (or the passage through the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea) and the arrival at the Portuguese entrepôt in Hormuz; the other crossed the Mediterranean and run through the Ottoman provinces of Syria and Mesopotamia, descending the Euphrates until Basra where one could board vessels sailing to Shiraz or Hormuz. Had Costantino been following any of these two routes, he would have headed for a Mediterranean port, not for Trento, gateway to Central Europe. Thus, it seems reasonable to assume that he was planning to travel through Muscovy.

clxvii Bardazzi (ch. 2.1.5) plausibly suggests that the date on the passport might be wrong: instead of having been issued on 1 November 1609, it would in fact have been issued on 1 November 1610, 19 days before new orders reached Costantino in Trento on 20 November.

clxviii See Pagnini, ch. III, pp. 160ff. She states that ‘da un confronto incrociato fra i testi del Baldinucci e del Gargano con i documenti dell’Archivio di Stato di Firenze, è stato possibile collocare un viaggio di Costantino de’ Servi in Persia […] attorno al biennio 1582–1584.’ [it has been possible to date a trip of Costantino de’ Servi to Persia roughly to the period 1582–84 thanks to a cross-comparison between Baldinucci’s and Gargano’s texts and the documents of the Archivio di Stato, Florence]. No footnote supports this assertion, nor any further reference to primary sources, leading me to assume that the ‘documents of the Archivio’ are the letter from Trento (cf. supra, footnote 3), and the ‘cross-comparison’ can be summarised thus: Baldinucci’s dates (1609–10) are proved wrong by such letter, therefore Gargano’s dates (1580–85) are the only ones left.

clxix For details on Costantino’s known whereabouts in the 1580s, see supra, Chapter I.

clxx See Bardazzi, ch. 2.1.5. The initial formulation of Bardazzi’s reasoning (‘Fra il 1582 e il 1584, confrontando il testo del Baldinucci e il saggio del Gargano con i documenti autografi conservati presso l’Archivio di Stato di Firenze, sarebbe da collocarsi un viaggio di Costantino de Servi in Persia’) is almost identical to Pagnini’s, but he goes on to explain in more detail why 1581–84 is more accurate than 1580–85.

clxxi See Gargano, ch. IV.

clxxii ‘Ier mattina laltra mi ritrouai á desinare con lambasciatore Persiano’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 925, fol. 350 (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Prague, to Belisario Vinta in Florence – 5 Oct 1604) Pagnini (ch. IV, pp. 166–67) has identified such ‘ambassador’ as Mahdi Quli Bega, a member of the Persian retinue which followed Anthony Sherley, Robert’s elder brother, on his 1600s tour of Europe on behalf of Shah Abbas I.

clxxiii ‘Et cosi me la passai la Mattina con certe Vivande Persianesche che non eran Cattiue con tanto bere che quando menandai mi parue piu presto dessere in Persia che in praga come al Negrone che cenandamo di compagnia’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 925, fol. 350 (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Prague, to Belisario Vinta in Florence – 5 Oct 1604).

clxxiv See Lockhart, ‘European Contacts with Persia’.

clxxv I have been able to access Newberie’s travel report in its recent re-print as J. Newberie, ‘Two voyages of Master John Newberie, One, into the Holy Land, The other to Balsara, Ormus, Persia, and backe thorow Turkie’, in S. Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus or, Purchas his Pilgrimes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014; 1st edn 1625), ch. III.

clxxvi It was unearthed there by H.F. Brown, who published it as ‘A Report on the Condition of Persia in the Year 1586’ in The English Historical Review VII:26 (1892), pp. 314-321.

clxxvii On the post-Lepanto crusading spirit, see W.J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, 1000–1020 / 1591–1611 (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1983), esp. ch. III; and also Lockhart, ‘European Contacts with Persia’.

clxxviii See Lockhart, ‘European Contacts with Persia’.

clxxix ‘Sua Santità sentendo tra Turchi et Persianj esser grandissima guerra, […] si dispose mandar persona a posta al Re di Persia, per intendere in che termine egli si trovava, et offerirgli in caso, ch'egli havesse animo di seguitar la guerra, che egli haverebbe fatto ogni opera, perche i Principi Cristianj si collegassero insieme a danni del turco.’. Verbatim from Brown, ‘Vechietti’s Report on the Condition of Persia’, p. 315.

clxxx This Patriarch must have been a member of the Rizzi family, who held the office for several generations, though it is unclear who exactly. On their friendship see Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, ch. III.

clxxxi On the Eastern policy of the Papacy and the (Grand) Duchy of Tuscany, I follow C. Sodini, L’Ercole Tirreno: Guerra e dinastia medicea nella prima metà del ’600 (Florence: Olschki, 2001). See also Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion.

clxxxii He was the heir of a prominent Kurdish family who had long been tribal leaders in Northern Syria, and whose uncle, Canbuladoğlu Hüseyn Pasha, had just been executed by the Ottoman general Cağalazade Sinan Pasha.

clxxxiii On Leoncini’s mission, see Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion; and also Sodini, L’Ercole Tirreno.

clxxxiv Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, filza 4275, fols. 113–17, as quoted in Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, ch. III.

clxxxv The correspondence thread between Picchena and Florence can be found in ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 1325 (‘Lettere de’ Serenissimi a Curzio Picchena dal 1580 fino al 1610’), fols. 202ff.

clxxxvi ‘mandare in Cipri et in Hierusalem un nostro Ingegniere, che ha grande spirito, esperienza, et giuditio, per osseruar luoghi, cauar piante, et squadrar siti, et riportarne piene, et giuste relazioni’. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 1325 (‘Lettere de’ Serenissimi a Curzio Picchena dal 1580 fino al 1610’), fol. 206v.

clxxxvii See ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 920, fols. 273–74 (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Prague, to Ferdinando I in Florence – 20 Nov 1603).

clxxxviii See ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 4189, fol. nn (Letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in London, to Andrea Cioli in Florence – 23 June 1611), as quoted in Pagnini, ch. IV, p. 211.

clxxxix On the end of Ali Pasha’s rebellion, and the delay in the shipping of military supplies from Florence, see Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion. On the failed Famagosta expedition, see Sodini, L’Ercole Tirreno, ch. I. What did succeed for the Tuscan fleet, in 1607, was a raiding of the port of Bona, on the North African coast, and of a hajj convoy in Egyptian waters. For both, see Sodini, L’Ercole Tirreno, ch. I.

cxc The absence of mention of this 1585-86 trip in Costantino’s 1609 patent would also be understandable: the 1580s were the end of the reign of Shah Muhammad Khudabanda; his son, Abbas I, ousted him with a coup in October 1587. Assuming the grand-ducal secretaries knew of this, it seems understandable that Costantino’s passport, addressed to Abbas, would avoid mentioning the deposed Muhammad Khudabanda at all.

cxci On Sherley’s mission, I follow once again Lockhart, ‘European Contacts with Persia’.

cxcii ‘Io sono comandato dal Cavalier Chaloner in nome del Serenissimo Principe d’informarmi se di quel Francini ingegnere che è stato tanto tempo in Francia si trovasse qualche alievo sufficiente che potesse et volesse venire a servire Sua Altezza’ [I have been ordered by Sir Chaloner on behalf of the most serene Prince to inquire whether a pupil of the engineer Francini, who spent a lot of time in France, can be found who would be able and willing to come serve His Highness]. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, f. 4189, fols. nn (letter from Ottaviano Lotti, in London, to Andrea Cioli in Florence – 30 Sep 1610), as quoted in Pagnini, ch. IV, pp. 201–2.

cxciii See Pagnini, ch. IV, pp. 200–2.

cxciv On Cosimo II’s shift away from the Mediterranean towards continental Europe, see C. Sodini, L’Ercole Tirreno: Guerra e dinastia medicea nella prima metà del ’600 (Florence: Olschki, 2001), ch. I; and also F. Diaz, ‘Il Granducato di Toscana: i Medici’, in G. Galasso, Storia d’Italia (Torino: UTET, 1976), vol. XIII, tomo I. Confessional tensions on the continent are not the only reason for such shift: Tuscan merchants were also eager to trade with the Porte, and the activism of the Knights of St Stephen was a direct obstacle to the development of commercial links between the Grand Duchy and the Ottomans.

cxcv Pagnini (ch. II, esp. pp. 130–32) singles out a letter written by Lotti on 24 Dec 1610 as the first instance of such suggested Tuscan match, but as she points out Lotti’s words suggest it had been discussed for some time already. The simultaneity with Costantino’s new orders, issued mid-November from Florence, is therefore quite remarkable.

cxcvi ‘essendo un giorno in camera sua il principe, et rivoltando Sua Altezza un libretto di disegno, le venne a caso visto un ritratto d’una dama, e domandatogli chi ella fosse rispose il Servi, Questa è la seconda sorella del Gran Duca mio signore, et Sua Altezza riguardatola bene, disse et replico corto ch’ella è una bella principessa […].’ Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 6363, fol. nn (letter from Ottaviano Lotti, in London, to Belisario Vinta, in Florence – 2 Sep 1611), as quoted in Pagnini, ch. II, p. 143.

cxcvii Cosimo II was able to outdo any rival, including the House of Savoy, with the offer of ‘600,000 scudi’ for Caterina’s dowry out of the Medici treasury (the same as Maria de’ Medici for her marriage with Henri IV of France); the Stuart, in exchange, would guarantee freedom of worship to the Medici princess and her retinue. See Pagnini, ch. II, esp. pp. 139–43.

cxcviii ‘da noi, che i ritratti delle principesse per l’ordinario non si danno’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 6363, fols. nn (letter from Belisario Vinta, in Florence, to Ottaviano Lotti in London – 14 Mar 1611), as quoted in Pagnini, ch. II, pp. 142–43.

cxcix See Pagnini, ch. II, p. 142.

cc ‘qualità estetiche che Caterina non doveva evidentemente possedere’. Verbatim from Pagnini, ch. II, p. 142.

cci On Costantino’s presence alongside Maria de’ Medici, see supra, Chapter I. On the marriage with Henri IV itself, and its relevance for Medicean foreign policy, I follow Sodini, L’Ercole tirreno; see also Diaz, ‘Il Granducato’.

ccii ‘il Ritrato della principessa nostra che par che S.M. larebbe uolsuta vedere’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 920, fol. 440 (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Prague, to Belisario Vinta in Florence – 1 Dec 1603).

cciii ‘se par á S.A. di mandarmi qua quello che io aueuo fatto in quadro picolo io la misura della grandeza perso poco á farne uno intero che sia per piacere’ [If His Highness would wish to send here the small portrait I had made of her, I have the measures of size and I would lose no time to make a full portrait that would be very pleasing]. Verbatim from ibidem: ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 920, fol. 440 (letter from Costantino de’ Servi, in Prague, to Belisario Vinta in Florence – 1 Dec 1603).

cciv ‘fu fatto, et portato qua il ritratto della principessa di Modena da Hans Van Aachen pittore di questa Maestà, come ne furono anche cauati, della principessa di Innsbruck, Savoia, et di Graz ancora, et Sua Maestà gli tiene appiccicati in camera’. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, Filza 4359, Carta 33 (letter from Giovanni Uguccioni, in Prague, to the grand-ducal secretaries in Florence – 16 Feb 1604), as quoted in Bardazzi, ch. 2.1.5.

ccv This paragraph largely draws on J.A. Marino, ‘The Italian States in the long Sixteenth Century’, in T. Brady, H. Oberman & J. Tracy (eds), Handbook of European History 1400-1600 (Leiden, New York: Brill, 1994), vol. 1; and on G. Hanlon, Early Modern Italy, 1550-1800 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), Part I, ch. 5.

ccvi On Cosimo’s rise to power, see G. Spini, Cosimo I de’ Medici e l’indipendenza del principato mediceo (Florence: Vallecchi, 1980)

ccvii On the first few steps of the Duchy, see Spini, Cosimo I e l’indipendenza, and Hanlon, Early Modern Italy, Part I, ch. 4.

ccviii On the grand-ducal title, and the Papal flavour of much Tuscan foreign policy, see Diaz, ‘Il Granducato’.

ccix See supra, Chapter I.

ccx On the Ernestine Wettins, the 1572 Partition of Erfurt, and the broader context of Imperial politics, I follow J. Whaley, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), vol 1: ‘From Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia, 1493-1648’; V. Press, ‘The Habsburg Lands: the Holy Roman Empire, 1400-1550’, in T. Brady, H. Oberman & J. Tracy (eds), Handbook of European History 1400-1600 (Leiden, New York: Brill, 1994), vol. 1; and R.J.W. Evans, Rudolf II and his World: A Study in Intellectual History, 1576-1612 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973).

ccxi See for example Diaz, ‘Il Granducato’; but also W.J. Griswold, The Great Anatolian Rebellion, 1000-1020 / 1591-1611 (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1983).

ccxii I have borrowed this Genoese example from Diaz, ‘Il Granducato’.

ccxiii This comparison sprung to my mind when reading the description of Francesco I as an introverted erudite by S. Mamone in her Il teatro nella Firenze Medicea (Milan: Mursia, 1981), ch. V., esp. p. 68.

ccxiv On Francesco I’s artistic appointments, see W. Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence during the Principate of the Medici, with a reconstruction of the artistic establishment (Florence: Olschki, 1993), ‘Artists appointed by Francesco I’, pp. 619–25. On the construction of Pratolino, and its importance as a source of inspiration for subsequent gardens, see L. Zangheri, ‘Curiosity and marvels of the sixteenth-century garden’, in M. Mosser & G. Teyssot (eds), The architecture of western gardens: a design history from the Renaissance to the present day (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991).

ccxv On Costantino’s artistic and administrative activity during the 1580s and ‘90s, see supra, Chapter I. His hypothetical 1581–84 Persian trip, had it taken place, would have been organised by Cardinal Ferdinando, not Grand Duke Francesco: see supra, Section I of Chapter III.

ccxvi The suggestion of a covert, informal diplomatic role for Costantino at the Imperial court was made by Bardazzi (ch. 2.1.5), who added that this rendered the Florentine Ambassador in Prague, Giovanni Uguccioni, very jealous of the favours Costantino received from Rudolf II.

ccxvii ‘Gli è piaciuto all’altezza vostra, invece di Giulio Parigi, favorirmi di Costantino de’ Servi’ [Your Highness has been pleased, instead of Giulio Parigi, to have the courtesy to send me Costantino de’ Servi]. Verbatim from ASF, Mediceo del Principato, filza 4467, fol. nn (letter from Johann Ernst I of Saxe-Weimar, in Weimar, to the Grand Duke of Tuscany – 21 Nov 1619), as quoted in Bardazzi, ch. 2.1.5.
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