Cesare Santus

Cesare Santus

Francesco De Dombrowski Fellow
Wandering Lives. Eastern Christian Pilgrims, Travelers and ‘Refugees’ in Early Modern Rome


Cesare Santus is a historian whose research interests include the confessional dynamics within the Eastern Christian communities of the Ottoman Empire (with a focus on the Armenians) and the role of the Roman Inquisition with respect to the doctrinal problems posed by Catholic missions in the East. He is the author of Trasgressioni necessarie. Communicatio in sacris, coesistenza e conflitti tra le comunità cristiane orientali (forthcoming in 2018), and has published articles on the Muslim presence in early modern Italy, considering in particular the cultural interactions between the ‘Turkish’ slaves and the Catholic inhabitants of Livorno. Before coming to I Tatti, Cesare held a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the École française de Rome.

Project Summary

Early modern Rome became the destination of a great number of pilgrims and temporary immigrants, who resorted to the Holy See in order to obtain education, alms and material help, canonical dispensations, resolution of cases of conscience or sanctions of catholicity. Eastern Christians composed a consistent but hitherto neglected segment of these travelers, coming from the European and Asiatic territories of the Ottoman Empire, or even beyond. The discovery of an extraordinary documentary source in the archives of the Roman Inquisition offers an opportunity to track their number, background, and biographical profiles, allowing for the construction of a searchable database to be enriched by a careful cross-checking of other Italian archives and collections. By connecting the rich bibliography on Mediterranean circulation and mobility with the study of migrants’ strategies of inflow and settlement in early modern Rome, and taking into consideration global microhistory’s recent methodological proposals, this project aims at rediscovering the forgotten Eastern Christian presence at the very center of Western Catholicism.