Andrea Colli Illustrates the Economy of The Betrothed
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Andrea Colli Illustrates the Economy of The Betrothed

ON THE OCCASION OF A PICCOLO TEATRO AND INTESA SANPAOLO PROJECT, THE HISTORIAN EXPLAINS THE CONTEXT IN WHICH THE FIRST DRAFT OF ALESSANDRO MANZONI'S NOVEL WAS SET

“Baggiano” is the nickname, according to Alessandro Manzoni, with which the inhabitants of Bergamo called the people from the State of Milan in the seventeenth century. Behind this curious nickname lies the Italian economic reality of the time, which is explained by Andrea Colli, economic historian and Head of the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Bocconi, in an in-depth video (in Italian). It is part of the project  Gli Sposi Promessi, created by the Piccolo Teatro di Milano in collaboration with Intesa Sanpaolo.
 

 
The project, which includes a podcast reading of the entire original version and a series of in-depth thematic videos, was realized on the occasion of the bicentenary since the first version of The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi). In fact, the first draft of the writing began in 1821, which was still entitled Gli Sposi Promessi, while the protagonists, Renzo and Lucia, were called Fermo and Lucia.
 
Andrea Colli explains that in 1821 Lombardy was suffering from marginality, in terms of economic, social and cultural centrality, whose roots can be traced back to the beginning of the seventeenth century. The years of the Sposi Promessi are in fact crucial, in which a radical transformation took place which would culminate in the marginalization of what had been one of the core areas of Renaissance Europe.
 
In this context, Manzoni's work was set in the Duchy of Milan, but it was a reflection of what was happening in Italy. Italy had reached a level of sophistication in the manufacturing sector thanks to the presence of a corporative structure that selected labor skills, but at the same time killed off innovative potential. In fact, around 1630 this position of supremacy was transformed into marginality due to aggressive competition from Northern European manufactures (France, England, the Netherlands and Germany), which produced at lower costs and without corporative rigidity.
 

by Weiwei Chen
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