Architecture and Statecraft

Charles of Bourbon's Naples, 17341759

By (author) Robin L. Thomas

Hardback - £74.95

Publication date:

05 June 2013

Length of book:

248 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271056395

The eighteenth century was a golden age of public building. Governments constructed theaters, museums, hospices, asylums, and marketplaces to forge a new type of city, one that is recognizably modern. Yet the dawn of this urban development remains obscure. In Architecture and Statecraft, Robin Thomas seeks to explain the origins of the modern capital by examining one of the earliest of these transformed cities. In 1737 King Charles Bourbon of Spain embarked upon the most extensive architectural and urban program of the entire century. A comprehensive study of these Neapolitan buildings does not exist, and thus Caroline contributions to this new type of city remain undervalued. This book fills an important gap in the scholarship and connects Charles’s urban improvements to his consolidation of the monarchy. By intertwining architecture and sovereignty, Thomas provides a framework for understanding how politics created the eighteenth-century capital.

Architecture and Statecraft tells the story of how a king from Madrid landed in Naples. Along with his Dresden-born queen, supported by an international cast of architects and American silver, he transformed it into a vibrant capital city. Beautifully written and carefully researched, this book elegantly matches King Charles’s ambitious urban projects. Robin Thomas brings to life the rich conglomeration of the king’s buildings, from Europe’s most celebrated opera house to one of its largest poorhouses. Embezzling architects, reformist statesmen, boisterous nobles, a homely king, brilliant musicians, proud cavalrymen, and humble poor populate the book’s pages. Architectural, political, print, military, and music historians, along with lovers of this beautiful city, will all want to savor this rich Neapolitan feast.”

—Heather Hyde Minor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign