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The Other Assisi

It turned out there was no need to condemn Sigismondo to hell—his own defeats brought him to his knees. The Tempio Malatestiano, moreover, is now an active church, and people are trickling in for Saturday confession. Our group stops for discussion, and we concede a reluctant parallel with our own American Sigismondo, and then we imagine the ruins of a bankrupt Trump hotel, its deserted lobby the setting for a humble Mass. Continue Reading »

The Thirty Years’ War in Italy

One could be forgiven for thinking that Gregory Hanlon’s The Hero of Italy: Odoardo Farnese, Duke of Parma, his Soldiers, and his Subjects in the Thirty Years’ War is titled backwards. The peevish, heavyset Duke of Parma, a minor French ally in the war against the Habsburgs, is certainly the protagonist of Hanlon’s book, but this is neither a biography nor a particularly compelling case for his heroism. Rather, it is an examination of Parma’s two years in the war, and its effects on the broad swath of people under Odoardo’s rule, command, or occupation. Continue Reading »

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