- Ospedali e città nel Regno di Napoli: le Annunziate: istituzioni, archivi, e fonti (secc. XIV–XIX) by Salvatore Marino
This excellent volume brings attention to charitable institutions in the Kingdom of Naples, a place often overlooked in the study of charity and poor relief in late-medieval and Renaissance Italy. Archivist and historian Salvatore Marino does this by focusing on the Real Casa Santa dell’Annunziata in Naples, a hospital (attached to the basilica of Santissima Annunziata Maggiore) that cared for abandoned children and young women in addition to offering other charitable services. Founded in the early-fourteenth century, the Annunziata became a wealthy and powerful institution with a network of additional hospitals, called annunziate, located throughout the kingdom. Although more descriptive than analytical as a whole, Marino’s work effectively highlights royal participation as well as cooperation and tension between local ecclesiastical and lay officials in hospital administration, demonstrating the important role played by the Annunziate in the spiritual, political, and social life of the city and Kingdom of Naples.
Marino’s purpose is twofold: to provide an institutional history of the Annunziata as well as a description of archives and documents related to its history. To that end, the book is divided into three parts. The first part reviews the history of the hospital, sorting through various accounts of the institution’s origins, detailing the competition between lay and ecclesiastical powers over hospital administration, and following the expansion of the Annunziata into a network of annunziate across the regno continentale during the early-modern period. Throughout, Marino emphasizes the interest and involvement of Angevin rulers like Queen Joanna II and Aragonese rulers such as King Ferdinand I in promoting, preserving, and protecting the Annunziata as a key charitable and religious institution.
The second part situates the archives of the Annunziate in relation to other hospital archives in Italy and details the various collections pertaining to the hospital. [End Page 897] In doing so, Marino offers useful comparisons and illustrates one of the challenges associated with researching the Annunziate: unlike other Italian charitable institutions in cities such as Florence, Milan, Siena, or Venice, the records of the Annunziate were not kept in a single archive but instead were dispersed across a variety of archives and collections in Naples and southern Italy. Marino’s talent as an archival specialist shines in this section as he offers a cohesive account of the available documentation, complete with an inventory of the various archives, collections, and locations where these materials can be found today. His focus on archives is continued in the third and final section of the book, which contains transcriptions of ten royal documents (privileges and patents) from the archives of the Annunziata. Spanning 1383 to 1473, these documents serve to demonstrate Marino’s prior emphasis on the interest taken by both Angevin and Aragonese rulers in this important charitable institution.
This volume is concise and informative, containing photographs, maps, and illustrations as well as a bibliography and indices of both persons and places. What Marino achieves in this book is both an impressive feat of archival work and a welcome contribution to the history of the Kingdom of Naples and the history of charity. Those interested in comparative studies of charity across the Italian peninsula or the roles that charitable institutions like the Annunziate played in the Kingdom of Naples will find much of use here. Indeed, this volume should prove useful as a resource and starting point for future studies.