The effort made by the city of Messina to rise to dominance in Sicily under Spanish rule reached its climax and ultimately ebbed away in the 17th century. Messina, which had become rich thanks to silk production, luxury crafts and trade activities centered on its port, claimed a position of supremacy in Sicily and broad autonomy from the Spanish state apparatus. The Accademia della Fucina, established on October 23, 1639, took on a unique feature that the other Sicilian academies of the time did not have, as it discussed not only literary, philosophical and scientific topics, but also political issues. Even the cult of the patron of Messina, the Madonna della Lettera, was the topic of a publication by the Academy and became the part of a wider political and cultural strategy aimed not only at involving the entire population of the city in affirming its own identity, but also at affirming Messina's hegemony over most of Sicily. The members of the Accademia della Fucina included not only scientists like Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and writers like Scipione Errico, but also most of the city's political class. Among other things, the Academy benefited from considerable financial backing from the Senate, the city's body of self-government. It was no coincidence that after the 1674-1678 uprising the anti-Spanish repression hit especially the Accademia della Fucina, which vanished from the city's cultural scene, while many of its members had to flee in exile. This paper intends to offer a reconstruction of the history of the Accademia della Fucina within the broader framework of Sicilian culture and of Italian academies in the 17th century, while underscoring its most innovative elements in cultural and political thought..
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