The Netherlands and Italy 649-1850

Presented by Gisbert Brom

Following the example of other countries, one of the first tasks commissioned by the Advisory Committee for National Historical Publications (RGP) when it was set up in 1904 was to publish sources on the history of the Netherlands kept in Italy so that they could be used for research purposes. The first tangible result of this national assignment was the series Archivalia in Italy; a general inventory or ‘catalogus’ of Roman archives, published in three volumes between 1908 and 1914.

A chronological survey of documents with brief descriptions of their contents is included in each volume of the series and is preceded each time by an extensive commentary on individual archives and institutions. Given the scope and diversity of the archives that were consulted it was impossible to produce a more in-depth edition. Consequently, the material has been described mainly on the basis of existing inventories already published in the past. In cases where only a vague description of the contents of a source were given, the original documents were located and identified with greater accuracy. The documents that have been described are of a political, religious and cultural nature and mainly cover the Middle Ages and early Modern History.

The first volume of this edition, which is divided into two parts, unlocks the entire body of documents referred to as the ‘Neerlandica’ that are kept in the Vatican archives. The second volume provides descriptions of the sources present in the Vatican library, while the third volume focuses on other archives and libraries in Rome. In some respects, therefore, the title of this reference work is rather misleading as the volume that was intended to deal with archives outside Rome was never published. An important by-product of this reference work is the Guide aux archives du Vatican (1910) by Brom; a frequently used archival guide that for many years proved indispensable when trying to locate documents stored in the often impenetrable written memory of the Holy See.