words by Carol King
Researchers all over the world are now able to view documents in the Medici Grand Ducal Archival Collection (Mediceo del Principato) in Florence thanks to the Medici Archive Project’s new online Digital Interactive Platform.
The project enables the preservation of the letters that comprise one of the most exhaustive and complete courtly archives of early modern Europe. The archive comprises more than four million letters distributed in 6,429 volumes that occupy a mile of shelf space. Its documents span the years 1537 to 1743, from the time of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, to the last scion of the House of Medici, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici. It documents the political, diplomatic, gastronomic, economic, artistic, scientific, military and medical culture of early modern Tuscany and Europe. The correspondence contains vivid accounts of all kinds of events, from an anonymous account of a duel that took place in Fontainebleau in 1546 in the presence of the King of France, to how Caravaggio’s favorite prostitute, Fillide Melandroni, was expelled from Rome by papal order in 1612.
Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the platform replaces an online database to provide a faster and more user-friendly interface for document entry. Its employment means a new category of researchers called ‘Distance Fellows’ will be able to work on assigned digitised documents from wherever they are in the world, so enabling the advance of medieval and Renaissance scholarship. The platform allows scholars from anywhere in the world to view digitised images of archival documents, as well as enter transcriptions, provide scholarly feedback and exchange comments in designated forums.