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Dr. Alessandro Silvestri

Alessandro Silvestri

My primary strand of research focuses on the late medieval Kingdom of Sicily, within the wider context of the Crown of Aragon. I have investigated the government of the island under the Aragonese rule and Sicilian central institutions, with a particular stress on the role of the Royal Chancery, as well as on the development of methods for organising and preserving information. On these subjects, I have published a number of articles, and I am working on my first monograph, which will be soon published.

In the course of the last four years, I worked as a post-doctoral research assistant at Birkbeck, University of London, within an ERC-project entitled AR.C.H.I.ves – A comparative history of archives in late medieval and early modern Italy. In this regard, I researched on the history of chanceries and archives of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, as well as of the duchy of Milan, across the late medieval and early modern period. This research project resulted in a number of publications, of which I am author, co-author, and co-editor. In particular, I co-edited a collection of essays on the history of Italian archives (2015), a special number of European History Quarterly on the archival turn in late medieval and early modern Europe (2016), and an anthology of archival sources concerning the history of Italian archives (2016).

Current Research Project
As an IRC postdoctoral fellow, I have developed a research project entitled Empire or Composite State? Aragonese Rule over the Mediterranean in Later Middle Ages. This project will focus on the governmental system established by a composite monarchy such as the late-medieval Crown of Aragon for ruling over its trans-Mediterranean dominion. From the thirteenth century, the Crown of Aragon developed sophisticated techniques of government, innovative institutions and a dynamic system for information management for ruling over its disparate lands, which stretched from the Iberian peninsula to Southern Italy. Key research questions concerning this political formation include: Where did the practical know-how for this system of government originate? And how were power relations between the provinces and the centre of this polity negotiated in practice? At a higher level of conceptualization, the project draws on a comparison with the late-medieval English empire of the Plantagenet dynasty. The underlying question here is: was the Aragonese monarchy sufficiently centralized to justify the description of it as an ‘empire’, or is it better understood as a ‘composite state’? And is the concept of ‘empire’ flexible enough to accommodate the complex ‘composite bureaucracy’, which was based on an uneasy balance of devolution and centralization?

Books and Journal Special Issues

  • F. de Vivo, A. Guidi and A. Silvestri (eds.), Fonti per la storia degli archivi degli antichi stati italiani. Dal medioevo alla fine dell’antico regime (Rome: Ministero per i Beni Culturali, Direzione Generale per gli Archivi, 2016).
  • F. de Vivo, A. Guidi and A. Silvestri (eds.), Archival Transformations in Early Modern Europe,special issue of European History Quarterly, 46/3 (2016).
  • F. de Vivo, A. Guidi and A. Silvestri (eds.), Archivi e archivisti in Italia tra medioevo ed età moderna (Rome: Viella, 2015).

Articles and book chapters

  • A. Silvestri, ‘Social Mobility in Late Medieval Sicily: Continuity and Change’, in S. Carocci and I. Lazzarini (eds.), Social mobility in Late Medieval Italy (1100-1500) (forthcoming, 2017).
  • A. Silvestri, ‘Governo a distanza e controllo del territorio nel Regno di Sicilia in età bassomedievale. Pratiche di governo, innovazioni documentarie e forme della negoziazione’, in I. Lazzarini, A. Miranda e F. Senatore (eds.), Istituzioni, scritture, contabilità. Il caso molisano nell'Italia medievale (secc. XIV-XVI) (forthcoming, 2017).
  • A. Silvestri, ‘La Real Cancelleria siciliana tardo medievale e l’inquisitio di Giovan Luca Barberi’, Reti Medievali Rivista, 17/2 (2016), 1-72.
  •  F. de Vivo, A. Guidi and A. Silvestri, ‘Archival Transformations in Early Modern European History’, European History Quarterly, 46/3 (2016), 421-434.
  • A. Silvestri, ‘Archives of the Mediterranean: Governance and Record-keeping in the Crown of Aragon in the Long Fifteenth Century’, European History Quarterly, 46/3 (2016), 435-457.
  • A. Silvestri, ‘Ruling from Afar: Government and Information Management in Late Medieval Sicily’, Journal of Medieval History, 42/3 (2016), 357-381.
  • A. Silvestri, ‘Archivi senza archivisti. I Maestri notai e la gestione delle scritture nel Regno di Sicilia (prima metà sec. XV)’, in F. de Vivo, A. Guidi e A. Silvestri (eds.), Archivi, e archivisti in Italia tra Medioevo ed età moderna (Rome: Viella, 2015), 43-69.
  • F. de Vivo, A. Guidi and A. Silvestri, ‘Introduzione a un percorso di studio’, in iidem (eds.), Archivi, e archivisti in Italia tra Medioevo ed età moderna (Rome: Viella, 2015), 9-39.
  • A. Silvestri, ‘Produzione e conservazione delle scritture nei regni di Napoli e Sicilia (secoli XII-XVII). Storia, storiografia e nuove prospettive di ricerca’, in Atlanti. Review for Modern Archival Theory and Practice, 23/2 (2013), 203-217.
  • A. Silvestri, ‘«Ad Terram sive Casalem Redducere». Cenni sullo sviluppo di un nuovo strumento cancelleresco: le licentie populandi nella Sicilia del secolo XV’, in A. Casamento (ed.), Atlante delle città fondate in Italia da tardomedioevo al Novecento. Italia centro-meridionale e insulare (Rome: Edizioni Kappa, 2013), 101-106.
  • A. Silvestri, ‘Produzione documentaria e dinamiche di potere nel Regno di Sicilia’, in Archivio Storico Siciliano, ser. IV, 34-35 (2008-09, but published in 2012), 7-42.


Department of History
School of Histories and Humanities
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2

Last updated 18 October 2018 (Email).