Zadar, Croatian city on the Adriatic coast, has a rich medieval history. The golden age for this Dalmatian medieval capital was the prosperous ‘era’ of Angevin rule (1358-1409). The artistic heritage of that time that has survived to the present is also very rich, but perhaps the most outstanding pieces of art belong to decorative arts, particularly the goldsmith’s art. That is the very reason why the sintagma symbolic of Zadar became its ‘gold and silver’. Behind that phrase are primarily the examples of religious art (reliquaries, chalices, processional crosses […]). This paper aims to give a glimpse of the mostly unknown archival data which clearly shows that Angevin Zadar was remarkably rich with luxurious secular silverware, now completely lost, and that this love of pleasure and luxury was equally exhibited by the members of the aristocracy as by the other wealthy citizens, who rose to high material and social status. Among the latter was also Mihovil Petrov (Michael, son of Peter), one of the richest merchants in the city. The inventory of his goods, compiled in 1385, offers precious information about the types and the decoration of his silverware, confirming that it can be compared to those appearing in the French documents of the time, as also with the rare surviving examples of Gothic secular silverware across Europe.
Evidence on the Venetian diplomatic relations in the 14th and 15th centuries frequently recorded pleasurable gifts sent by the Signoria to the lords of the Eastern Adriatic and Latin Greece. In my presentation I comparatively follow the types and forms of these gifts, their values and frequency, as well as the particular procedures, contexts and impacts of the gifts’ delivery. In my conclusion, I show that these gifts were not just the formal tools of the Venetian diplomatic representation, but rather represented a structured device through which the Venetians ensured their particular political and trade interests in the region.
Leon Battista Alberti disapproved the behavior of some popes on the prohibition and condemnation of pleasure in theatres. Some authors argue for Alberti’s ‘pagan’ views of Rome’s ancient monuments in his Descriptio Urbis Romae (1432). He wrote this archaeological survey of ancient, Christian and non-Christian monuments while working for Pope Eugene IV but later he had to leave the papal court when Pope Paul II disapproved his criticism. Evidence in recent archaeological findings in Early Christian sites of Rome prove that Alberti inquired pleasure in pagan mysteries of Late Antiquity that actually survived the Middle Ages.