Science on the Fringe of the Empire: The Academy of the Linceans in the Early Nineteenth Century

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  • 1 Università di Cagliari, Italy

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The article treats the Academy of the Linceans in the early nineteenth century, and more particularly during the Napoleonic domination of Rome in 1809-14.

For the French regime, the Academy was instrumental to turning intellectuals into notables; pursuing the advancement of knowledge; stimulating industry; fostering secularization and orientating public opinion. But these goals did not always harmonize one with the other. Moreover, the local agenda was subordinated to strategic and ideological considerations pertaining to the organization of the Empire, relations with the Papacy, and internal politics. Hence, support to the Academy was subject to changes and contradictions. Within the Empire, the small local scientific elite found a place within international networks of science. Men of science increased their visibility and social standing, and greater symbolic and material resources were granted to the practice of science. The Academy, however, was left in the unclear status of a semi-public establishment, and it eventually imploded after the Restoration.

The article analyses the Academy’s scientific activity and its role in public life, focusing on material history as a key element to understand the ambiguous nature of Roman scientific institutions both under the papal government and the French regime.

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