Brege examines how Tuscany established a global presence in new book

Brege_Tuscany in the Age of EmpireIn his new book, “Tuscany in the Age of Empire” (Harvard University Press, 2021), Maxwell School faculty member Brian Brege offers a fresh appraisal of one of the foremost cities of the Italian Renaissance as it sought knowledge, fortune and power throughout Asia, the Americas and beyond.

Brege examines how Tuscany established a global presence while unable to compete directly with the growing empires of other European states. First, he shows, Tuscany partnered with larger European powers, seeking to obtain trade rights within their empires and to manage portions of other states’ overseas territories. Second, Tuscans invested in cultural, intellectual and commercial institutions at home, attracting the knowledge and wealth generated by Europe’s imperial expansions. Finally, Tuscans built effective coalitions with other regional powers in the Mediterranean and the Islamic world, which secured access to global products and empowered the Tuscan monarchy in foreign affairs.

By finding areas of common interest with stronger neighbors and forming alliances with other marginal polities, a small state was able to protect its own security while carving out a space as a diplomatic and intellectual hub in a globalizing Europe, Brege asserts.

Brege, an assistant professor of history, is a historian of early modern Europe and its engagement with the wider world. His research highlights the role of small powers and enterprising individuals in creating global capitalism and empire. He received a Ph.D. at Stanford University in 2014 and is a past Fellow at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies.