Mobility on the Via Flaminia – Maps


The project “Mobility on the Via Flaminia” aims to analyze the movements of people travelling, for one reason or another, in the context of the administration of the Papal States. How is it possible to see the mobility linked to the administrative and religious life of the Papal States and through which sources? Who were the people who moved and why did they move? The objectives of the project are: 1 – to highlight the main routes of mobility and their different uses by various social groups; 2 – to analyze the organization of the communications needed for the administration of the Papal States between its center and peripheries; 3 – to make available online a series of factual and cartographic datasets drawn from the ecclesiastical archives and its analysis.

The main material comes from the archives of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, the Roman institution responsible for administering the issues of the regular orders on a daily basis. Its role was defined in its broadest sense: the Congregation handled all matters pertaining to the regular and secular clergy. Through the small daily disobediences that we read of in these archives, it is possible to get a glimpse into the lives of people, lay as well as ecclesiastic, and to see their travels. The core of the archive is divided in two categories: the Positiones, which gather the letters from dioceses addressed to the Congregation, and the Registra, which contain Roman decisions. The maps presented here are based on the Positiones: the letters sent from the peripheries to Rome allow us to explore local issues and listen the stories of people. The mobility reported in the cases sent to the Congregation for Bishops and Regulars is only the tip of the iceberg: only problematic and conflictual situations, or cases that needed the approval of Rome are there. Micro-mobility, travels within a single city or diocese, is therefore only rarely visible, with the possible exception of nuns, for whom any movement outside their cloister walls required a licence from Rome.

These maps of mobility allow us to think in local, territorial, and even environmental terms the attempts to centralize the administration of the Papal States in Rome, undertaken from the end of the sixteenth century by the Papacy but developed above all by the efforts of Clement VIII. They show the creation of an more complex structure for the administration of both spiritual and temporal life through a network of communication, the circulation of information, and people that gradually became stronger with the affirmation of the Counter-Reformation and the reorganization of the Papal States that it brought. On the other hand, these mobilities show how people – secular and regular clergy, but also lay people – participated in the religious administration of the Papal States, each at their own level. On a larger scale, these lines of circulation allow us to see the integration of the Via Flaminia’s space as a whole, organized around several nodal points (Rome, Perugia, Fano) and linked by several roads (Flaminia, its extension Emilia, and the Adriatic sea route).


This mapping analysis is based on a sample from the Positiones of the archives of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, composed of about 1500 letters from a dozen dioceses of the Papal States. Only the dioceses in the area crossed by the Via Flaminia and its extension to Ferrara were considered (see the description of the Via Flaminia project for more details). This sample has been the subject of a analysis of all letters received during four years: 1592, 1600, 1601, and 1605, chosen to represent the pontificate of Clement VIII (1592-1605). Each case of mobility (a case could be the subject of several letters) has been transferred to the map in the form of an arrow indicating the points of departure and arrival. The travellers were divided into five social groups: secular priests, monks, nuns, lay men, and lay women. A map was created for each of these groups, allowing us to take in consideration mobility according to status and social roles.

Each map, accessible through the links below, is fully interactive and is constantly updated as research progresses. All arrows are clickable, allowing you to obtain factual information about the travel and its reasons. In each pop-up file, the archival provenance of the case is identified by its abbreviation:

ASV = Archivio Apostolico Vaticano (Vatican Apostolic Archives) 

CVR = Congregazione dei Vescovi e dei Regolari (Congregation of Bishops and Regulars)

POS = Positiones

Lett. = Lettere (the boxes holding the correspondences are identified by the first letter of the name of the diocese where the correspondence originated)

The clickable arrows also report the date the letter was sent (when available), the itinerary followed by the traveler, and the reason for the travel.  

Mobility of Secular Clergy

The secular clergy is the group that demonstrates the most frequent mobility: 37 travels out of 104 cases, or 36%. They travelled in large numbers to and from Rome: they were the ones who maintained the relations between the center and the peripheries. Outside Rome there were two other important centers of exchange: Perugia, the most important city in central Italy, and Fano, situated at the heart of Adriatic traffic.

See the map here: Mobility of Secular Clergy (1592-1605)