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Italian Intrigue in the Baltic: Myth, Faith, and Politics in the Age of Baroque*

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Abstract This article examines the role of myth in Italian cultural politics in the Baltic region during the Baroque era. A special focus for this analysis is the legend about a “kinship” between the Florentine Pazzi family and the Lithuanian noble family of the Pacas (Polish: Pac), known in the sources of the seventeenth century as “the Pazzi in Lithuania.” This legend prevailed particularly in the second half of the Baroque period, having developed under the influence of different political, religious, and social aspects of Baroque culture. It played an important part in the Papacy’s interests in Poland-Lithuania during the Counter-Reformation and in the commercial activity of Italian merchants in the Baltic, which coincided with the expansion of the monastic orders in this region and the cult of St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, to whom the Pacas family expressed their devotion.


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