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(p.50) 4 Interceptions
Galileo's Idol
Nick Wilding
University of Chicago Press

Sagredo experienced the Interdict crisis of 1606-7 from the distant fortress of Palmanova: this seems to have alerted him to the importance of newsletters, (avvisi), in the construction of political reality. Against the backdrop both of the Venetian expulsion of the Jesuits, and the carefully choreographed anti-jesuit espionage of the English Ambassador, Sir Henry Wotton, Sagredo undertook a daring, cruel and funny epistolary hoax against an unsuspecting member of the Society of Jesus, Antonio Barisone. An ode celebrating Sagredo by the poet Ottavio Menini provides the point of entry to a full discussion of the trap. Posing as an aging dowager with a large fortune and a few scruples, called Cecilia Contarini, who in turn went by the undercover name of Angelica Colomba, Sagredo extracted illegal advice from Barisone (known in the correspondence as Rocco Berlinzone), which he then passed on to Sarpi as evidence of Jesuit wiles.

Keywords:   Palmanova, Venetian Interdict, Avvisi, Sir Henry Wotton, anti-Jesuitism, Ottavio Menini, Rocco Berlinzone, Cecilia Contarini, Angelica Colomba, Antonio Barisone

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