Political engagement and popular print in Spanish Naples (1503-1707)

  • Laura Incollingo

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This dissertation presents an exploration of the printing industry of Naples during the Spanish Viceroyalty (1503-1707). In particular, the focus will be on popular print and its role in building a relationship between the people of Naples and the Spanish authorities and how this particular type of publication was used to shape public opinion in Naples.

The goal is to examine what was published in Naples, what Neapolitan people read or were exposed to and how this literary production contributed to the construction of a politically-informed population. To look at this dynamic relationship, I used archival sources and manuscripts to shed light on all the activities related to printers, the printing business and readers, such as procedures for buying and selling prohibited books. I also examined concessions for printing certain works, who were the appointed printers for civic offices as well as pamphlets and broadsheets found in libraries and which of the books that caused concern were imported rather than printed locally.

The assertion behind this project is that, contrary to popular belief, Naples was indeed a city with a vibrant printing industry and that the Spanish authorities were the first to use this industry to shape and mould public opinion in their favour. In order to demonstrate this, I have highlighted several examples of the ways in which the Spanish authorities used the printed word, particularly in the form of popular print, to build a relationship with their Neapolitan subjects. This dissertation examines the world of ephemeral print in Naples as a whole, with chapters dedicated to particular case studies such as what was printed during the Vesuvius eruption of 1631, Masaniello’s rebellion in 1647 and the plague of 1656. The focus will also be on how the religious authorities used ephemeral print for furthering their own agenda and on how the power balance between the Roman Church and the Spanish government affected Neapolitan people and the printing industry.
Date of Award15 Jun 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorAndrew Pettegree (Supervisor)


  • Spanish Naples
  • Popular print
  • Southern Italy
  • Italian newspapers
  • Political history
  • Counter-Reformation studies
  • Early modern Italy

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  • Full text embargoed until
  • 20 February 2028

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