The Barberini Butchers: Meat, Murder, and Warfare in Early Modern Italy
Bradford Bouley is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the histories of religion and science in the early modern, especially Italian, context. His first book, Pious Postmortems: Anatomy, Sanctity, and the Catholic Church in Early Modern Europe, is being published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2017. His work has also appeared in Catholic Historical Review, the Sixteenth Century Journal, and the Rivista di Storia del Cristianesimo. When not conducting research on the early modern period, he enjoys running, reading science fiction, cooking, and playing with his two boys.
In an attempt to make Rome into a model city following the Reformation, a series of reform-minded popes sought to provide better food and wine to the citizens of the Holy City. In particular, by the 1640s Romans ate far more meat than other contemporary urban residents. Indeed, in 1641, an anonymous chronicler of the city of Rome could boast that "all Rome consumes twice as much meat and wine as Naples, although the latter city is twice as large." Such consumption was, however, not sustainable and resulted in a series of conflicts, including a brutal case of cannibalism in Rome itself. My current project aims to use the most quotidian of objects—food—to examine the ways in which individual Italians experienced the Reformation, the Thirty Years War, and early modern globalization. In seventeenth-century Rome, eating was not just about sustenance, but involved in politics, religion, and the affairs of the wider Catholic World.