Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII. Girolamo GASTALDI.
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII
The Roman Plague of 1656-57
And the Architecture of Public Health
Extensively Illustrated with 47 Full-Page Engravings
[Rome].
Bologna, Ex Camerali Typographia Manolessiana, 1684.

Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste politico-legalis eo lucubratus tempore, quo ipse loemocomiorum primo, mox sanitatis commissarius generalis fuit, peste urbem inaduente anno MDCLVI & LVII.

Folio [41 x 29 cm], (36) ff., 792 pp., 58 ff., with 47 full-page engravings and with numerous woodcut initials and tailpieces. Bound in contemporary vellum, gold-tooled spine, red sprinkled edges. Minor rubbing and edge wear to spine and covers. Early ownership inscription (Fortunatus Peleggi) at foot of title, occasional minor toning and minor to moderate spotting, marginal mends to pp. 721 and 723, last leaves of index browned with some marginal mends and with a minor loss of text on the last index leaf (text supplied in manuscript facsimile). But overall a very fresh and attractive copy.

First and only edition – today scarce in commerce – of Cardinal Girolamo Gastaldi’s (1616-80) comprehensive treatise on Rome’s response to the plague of 1656-57. The Tractatus de avertenda et profliganda peste includes Gastaldi’s first-hand account of the epidemic, the text of some 245 edicts, notices and recommendations issued and posted at the time, as well as 47 extraordinary full-page engravings depicting emergency building efforts undertaken in Rome to combat the spread of the plague and to care for the afflicted, making the work an important early modern witness to the development of an architecture of public health.

Gastaldi, who at the start of the outbreak was serving both as the Commissario generale dei Lazzaretti and the Commissario generale di Sanità per lo Stato della Chiesa, has long been recognized in scholarship as a valuable source for policies of the 1656-57 plague, but his role as a eyewitness to the unusual interventions to Rome’s architecture in 1656-7 has generally been overlooked. Gastaldi tasked the architect Domenico Castelli (c. 1582-1657), long a collaborator of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Pietro da Cortona, with quickly retrofitting to combat disease many of Rome’s ancient and modern structures, and the engravings in Gastaldi’s treatise are based on Castelli’s own designs for these interventions (p. 121 and S. Barker, pp. 244-5). Bernini, during the plague holed up in the Quirinal Palace with the recently newly elected Pope Alexander VII (r. 1655-67), directed Castelli, Marc Antonio de’ Rossi, Ercole Ferrata, and others, while himself planning many of the monumental urban projects which would bring him (and Alexander VII) increasing renown in the coming years (S. Barker, passim).

At the first signs of the arrival of the disease from Naples, Castelli adapted several of Rome’s gates as checkpoint stations, set up blockades at riverside markets, reconfigured preexisting hospitals as plague lazarettos, converted many of Rome’s ancient, medieval and modern structures into temporary quarantine and purgation centers (e.g., at the Baths of Caracalla, at the church of San Saba, at private noble estates, and at the newly built prison known as the Carceri Nuove), redesigned laundries on the River Almone to wash ‘suspect’ cloth imports, built camps for disinfecting mail, and even directed the siting of mass graves (e.g. near S. Paolo fuori le mura). These diverse urban projects were depicted in plan, elevation, and sometimes in view in the 47 engravings of Gastaldi’s treatise (also included is a detailed map of Trastevere, a region considered to be a special locus of infection and sited in a way making it especially difficult to quarantine). Taken as a whole, these engravings can be seen as perhaps the most unusual group of Roman vedute produced during 16th and 17th centuries: Castelli’s designs – drawn at the time of the 1656-7 plague and only later published here by Gastaldi – are certainly caught in the pictorial gravity of the wider vedute genre as established by, for example, Dupérac’s Vestigi dell’antichita di Roma (1575), Lauro’s Antiquae urbis splendore (1612), and Maggi’s Aedificorum et ruinarum Romae (1618). Castelli’s designs, however, being one of the first architectural ‘view books’ of the one of the first important projects from the new papacy of Alexander VII, warrant further consideration. The pontiff’s later urban inventions were memorialized in countless iconic prints (most notably Falda’s celebrated suites), forever defining the look of Baroque Rome, but these plague views by Castelli are fascinating for being at once familiar and uncanny.

Gastaldi’s text opens with short essays on causes and prevention of plagues before providing a timeline of plagues from Old Testament times until 1656, a narrative of the arrival of the plague in Rome from Naples in May of 1656, a discussion of its progress in Rome, governmental responses and preparations, and a block-by-block of measures undertaken. Gastaldi had a hand in originally issuing many of the (exhaustive) proclamations reproduced in the Tractatus. These touch on all aspects of epidemiology and plague management, ideas which are carefully referenced in the volume’s comprehensive index. “The well-thought-out measures devised by Cardinal Gastaldi for the control of the plague in the Eternal City of 1656 represent the most logical development of eradicative anti-contagionist practice before the twentieth century and could still serve as a model for action against any truly contagious disease” (Hirst, pp. 408-9). The work today is a valuable sourcebook for 17th-century Roman culture broadly speaking, but Gastaldi considered his treatise to be a manual of continuing public utility: Gastaldi’s title page notes that in 1684, the year of publication, a plague was once more raging on the peninsula, in the town of Gorizia.

 

* Krivatsy 4580; Wellcome III, S. 93; D. Gentilcore, “Purging Filth: Plague and Responses to it in Rome, 1656-7,” in Rome, Pollution and Propriety Dirt, Disease and Hygiene in the Eternal City from Antiquity to Modernity, M. Bradley ed., pp. 153-68; S. Barker, “Art, Architecture, and the Roman Plague of 1656,” Roma moderna e contemporanea, vol. 14, no. 1 (2007), pp. 243-62; L. F. Hirst, The conquest of the Plague; Maria Pia Donato, “La peste dopo la peste. Economia di un discorso romano (1656-1720),” in Fosi, ed., La peste a Roma, pp. 159-174; G. Cassiani, “Medici, magistrati e filosofi contro i miasmi della peste: Ricerche in margine ad alcuni documenti sull’epidemia di Roma del 1656-57,” Ricerche di storia sociale e religiosa, vol. 23, no. 46 (1994), pp. 187-215.

Price: $6,850.00

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