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Years ago before information was easy to access on the internet, in my document collecting fever years, I came across a sheet of partially printed partially handwritten Italian paper with the date 1764 on the back (shown below). I bought it and stored it away. Remember all art or design starts with a line or drawing by hand, a certain proof that the coordinating part of the brain works.

I always want to satisfy my enormous curiosity about the writers or persons mentioned in a forgotten document, and if I could, I would like to see a picture of all of them, in order to bring them back to life so to speak. Sometimes this simple but alas not so simple wish comes true.

For one, there was no photography in 1764, and second, who would be able to check if a print or painting existed. Countless hours would be spent in wonderful libraries.  In what index or book would you find this information? Not to despair! Research, research, research, as Watson would say. In researching information for this post, I made use of this sometimes wonderful thing called wikipedia! Here I found the picture (top of post) yes how lucky can you get, of the person who in 1764 approved the issuing of this travel document (below) in Italian called “Passaporto” or in plain English a passport.

Yes a passport, those documents Europeans today no longer have to show when traveling the European Union, but a document that surely is a proof of identity that you could use if you would like to vote.

Unlike some hideous debates brought forth today, by mostly foolish ignorant left wing democrats, as to why one does not have to show an identity paper when absolving a duty or legal right.

Anyway, I loved the enormous heraldic seal on the paper when I bought it, but tracing history through heraldry is an almost forgotten art! Besides who has the time! Reading the back of this passport in Italian I realized that it was made out for a person in the service of the famous Ernest Count of Kaunitz-Rittburg, the Representative of the (Austrian) Habsburg Empire to the Court of the Kingdom of Naples.

Fascinating! The document in France would be called a “Laissez-Passe” which guarantees the holder of the assistance of all Officials in the Kingdom with whatever problems the holder would have in completing his travels. In this case a voyage to Vienna, Austria, an easy 600 miles or more by foot or horse. Such was the will of the Monarch (last line front of the document) under whose protection the traveler was at all times. Now as to the Marchese (Marquis) Bernardo Tanucci (1698-1783) who reigned in Naples as plenipotary of Charles Duke of Parma (Italy), son of King Philip V of Spain, here is what I found in wikipedia.

Tanucci worked at establishing for Bourbon Naples the kind of controls over the church that were effected by the Gallican church in Bourbon France: revenues of vacant bishoprics and abbeys went to the crown, superfluous convents were suppressed, tithes abolished and the acquisition of new Church property by mortmain was forbidden. Royal assent was required for the publication in Naples of papal bulls and concessions were no longer considered eternal. The status of Naples as a papal fief, dating from the time of the Hohenstaufen, was denied: the king of Naples served at the pleasure of God only. Appeals to Rome were forbidden without the royal permission. Marriage was declared a civil contract. And by the order of Charles III the Jesuits were suppressed and expelled from the Kingdom of Naples in 1767, a move in which Tanucci was in general sympathy with other progressive ministers at the Bourbon courts, as Aranda in Spain, Choiseul in France, du Tillot in Parma, and also with Pombal in Portugal.

Pope Clement XIII responded with excommunication, whereupon Tanucci occupied the monasteries at Benevento and Pontecorvo, which were not returned to the Roman Church until after the general dissolution of the Society of Jesus in 1773. The protests of the bishops against many of the new teachings in the schools after the expulsion of the Jesuits were dismissed as invalid. One of the last of his acts (1776) was the abolition of the chinea, that is the annual tribute which the kings of Naples since the time of Charles of Anjou had paid to the pope as sovereign. His unfortunate policy in finance and in regard to the food taxes provoked popular revolutions on several occasions.

When, in 1774, Maria Carolina of Austria, the Habsburg queen of Ferdinand IV, joined the Council of State, the power of Tanucci began to decline. In vain he endeavoured to neutralize the queen’s influence, but in 1777 he was dismissed and retired. He died in Naples in 1793.”

This is what you can learn from preserving an old historic document ! After all we all will be “history” someday. Conservation, restoration and stewardhip are the key to Modern Age without those three we would still be back in 1764.

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