Call for Journal Submissions: Dominion of the Sacred: Image, Cartography, Knowledge of the City, deadline 1 October 2020

Dominion of the Sacred. Image, Cartography, Knowledge of the City after the Council of Trent (In_bo vol. 12, no. 16)

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

Application process:

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.

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

More information can be found here:

The Journal:

The journal In_bo, owned by the Department of Architecture of the University of Bologna, has been managed for a number of years through a partnership with the Centro Studi Cherubino Ghirardacci in Bologna and with the Fondazione Flaminia in Ravenna. This long-standing collaboration was recently formalized with an agreement that defines the roles and responsibilities of each partner institution, thereby strengthening the cultural identity and the influence of the journal. At the core of In_bo’s research interests lies the theme of space (architectural, urban, territorial) as it is inhabited by people, which leads us to consider space as a complex cultural construct. Functions, uses, and varying perceptions are all understood as the products of a specific social form, of a comprehensive view of the world, a Weltanschauung, either private or shared among an élite, among some prominent personalities or within a structured community.

This interweaving of meanings and values becomes especially evident in the urban phenomenon. Therefore, cities should not be regarded just as particular or exemplary forms of dwelling, but rather as its very paradigm.

With this new issue, we are trying to look back at the roots of the modern Western city, focusing our gaze on the historical evolution of the tools and practices that have been adopted in order to understand and control the urban scale.

The opportunity to set forth this in-depth analysis was offered by the 500th anniversary of the birth of Cherubino Ghirardacci (1519–2019), Augustinian monk from Bologna, historian and cartographer, who authored the first studies for a bird’s eye view of the city of Bologna, later perfected in the renowned frescoes of the Vatican Palace.

The Centro Studi Cherubino Ghirardacci celebrated this anniversary with an interdisciplinary seminar and an exhibition in the Museo dell’Archiginnasio in Bologna (6/12/2019 – 6/1/2020).
With this call we intend to start from and expand on the themes of the seminar, looking at a very specific time in history, when the ways in which the Western city was understood, represented, and governed were significantly transformed.

Acknowledging the bounds of our expertise and recognizing how these topics have already been the subject of specific studies, we have thus entrusted this issue to two guest editors: professors Mario Carlo Alberto Bevilacqua (University of Florence) and Marco Folin (University of Genoa). We thank them again for having accepted our invitation in taking on this task.

The Editorial Team: edited by Mario Bevilacqua (Università degli Studi di Firenze), Marco Folin (Università degli Studi di Genova)


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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