I FOUND BENEDETTA CARLIM by chance, while leafing through an inventory of nearly forgotten documents in the State Archive of Florence. The entry in the inventory read: "Papers relating to a trial against Sister Benedetta Carlini of Vellano, abbess of the Theatine nuns of Pescia, who pretended to be a mystic, but who was discovered to be a woman of ill repute." 1 What prompted me to look at that book of entries is something I shall never know for certain. Perhaps it was the title that intrigued me more than anything else: Miscellanea Medicea -- what odd and fascinating documents might be found there? The State Archive, I knew, was filled with some of the richest historical treasures in all of Europe and a collection of miscellaneous documents belonging to the Medici period was sure to contain interesting materials, especially for a historian about to embark on a study of the first Medici grand duke. My curiosity was piqued further because no one in the archive or in the books I consulted seemed to know who had gathered these particular documents into a collection or what purpose they might have had. I thought then that if I failed to look at what the Miscellanea contained, I would always wonder what I had missed.