Stefano D’Amico: The Governor, the Bishop, and the Patricians: The Contest for the Cathedral Square in Spanish Milan (1535–1706). [Abstract]

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the ambitious reorganization of the urban fabric sponsored and supervised by princes or ruling elites, usually aimed at establishing the power and prestige of the central authority, transformed most Italian cities. However, the separation within the city center between a political and ceremonial space, usually centered around the palace of the prince, and a marketplace, that came to characterize most urban contexts, did not occur in Milan. In order to preserve peace and stability in a period of intense warfare, the monarchy sacrificed an invasive oversight of the city and abdicated a higher degree of local power, choosing instead to delegate it to the urban patriciate, the merchant elites, and the Ambrosian church. Free of any restriction, and in order to preserve their financial interests and emphasize their political prominence, the families of the urban elites maintained the economic function of the area around the cathedral square at the expense of the royal-ducal palace and articulated an alternative power network anchored to their palaces in the residential neighborhoods outside the city center.

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