We are delighted to announce the publication of Peter Mazur’s new monograph, The New Christians of Spanish Naples, 1528-1671: A Fragile Elite. Peter’s book takes as its topic the teeming port city of Naples, under the control of Spain. Taking account of the effects of religious warfare and intolerance, Peter – a Research Fellow on the Conversion Narratives project – nonetheless reveals that the diverse population of Naples discovered surprising opportunities for co-existence and collaboration.
The conversos of this tightly-packed urban space forged closely-bound communities, and even managed to gain political position, aristocratic titles, and economic influence through their alliances with the city’s viceroys: the men who were, paradoxically, responsible for upholding the city’s Catholic identity and the imperial mission of the Spanish monarchy.
Peter’s lively study shows how the conversos of Naples negotiated their uneasy position, and weathered a series of attacks and conflicts, not least those driven by the inquisition. In the final reckoning, Peter argues, the success and vibrancy of converso communities challenges scholarly and popular stereotypes about the operations and reach of Spanish imperialism, and its relationship to those members of the community whose changing faith made them objects of suspicion, as well as subjects of the city.
This is Peter’s first monograph. His second, Improbable Lives: Converts to Catholicism in Early Modern Italy, will be published by Ashgate.