Saturday, May 4, 2019

Correspondence of Cardinal Boncompagni Ludovisi

From the Archive Digitale Boncompagni Ludovisi:
One of the most spectacular finds that the Villa Aurora yielded in summer 2010 was a long series of letters by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France. There are 25 in all, written from Versailles over the period 1775-1787. Thirteen are by Louis XVI, and twelve by Marie Antoinette. Each of these newly discovered letters is addressed to Cardinal Ignazio Boncompagni Ludovisi (1743-1790), who after 1777 governed Bologna (then in the Papal States) as Cardinal Legate of Pope Pius VI. Boncompagni Ludovisi eventually rose to the position of Secretary of State for the Vatican in 1785, but resigned after just four years, because of poor health.
The Archivio Segreto Vaticano possesses just one letter from Louis XVI (also to Cardinal Ignazio) and none from Marie Antoinette in its Fond Boncompagni Ludovisi. So this fresh discovery marks a particularly significant contribution to the study of the relationship of European rulers to the Boncompagni Ludovisi family. 
One valuable attribute of this set of letters is that all the items impressively preserve the original folds, seals, and other anti-tampering devices. Each of the letters to Cardinal Ignazio from the court at Versailles is addressed “a mon cousin”—the customary form of address between legitimate sovereign princes. (The Ludovisi and then the Boncompagni Ludovisi were sovereigns of the Principate of Piombino since 1634.) (Read more.)

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