Connoisseurs and Secret Agents in Eighteenth Century Rome

Connoisseurs and Secret Agents in Eighteenth Century Rome

Connoisseurs and Secret Agents in Eighteenth Century Rome

Connoisseurs and Secret Agents in Eighteenth Century Rome

Excerpt

The curious story told in this book began to unfold itself when I was looking for material on the sojourn in Rome of Robert Strange the engraver. He had strong Jacobite connections, having himself fought at Culloden and married the sister of Andrew Lumsden, who became assistant secretary to the Old Pretender. Strange was acquainted in Rome with Cardinal Alessandro Albani, well known as an expert and dealer in Roman antiques and as the patron of the famous scholar Johann Joachim Winckelmann. A chance remark found in James Dennistoun Memoirs of Sir Robert Strange and Andrew Lumsden, to the effect that Alessandro Albani was a spy, led me to the Public Record Office in London where is deposited the Cardinal's official correspondence with Horace Mann, the British representative in Florence. The more I read the stranger it seemed that Albani, whose uncle Pope Clement XI had originally invited the Old Pretender to Rome, and whose nephew was Cardinal Stuart's close friend, should tell Mann so much about the doings of the Jacobite Court. He was Minister to Maria Theresa, who was Britain's ally, and as such "protected" British interests in Rome because, for religious reasons, Britain had no direct diplomatic representation there. Even so, however, his friendship towards the British and the nature of his correspondence with Mann seemed to go far beyond what his official position demanded and dead against what his family connections would lead one to expect. It dawned on me that the Jacobite reference to his being a spy might well have something in it.

Anyone who studies the affairs of the Jacobites in Rome . . .

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