Capital city is an ancient expression that traditionally refers to the place associated with central political power. Until the XVII.th century, it was but the town where the royal court lived and the king used to summon the representatives of the aristocracy, one or two times in a year.
The focus of the course is first put on the time when the notion of capital city had been expanding in its complexity. Due to a series of factors –and mainly to the growth of the governmental machine-, it was becoming a place with the highest concentration of political, cultural and artistic values. A prevailing role is played by sources -like urban iconography and cartography– which can better record such a transformation involving painters, scientists, and architects. Throughout the Georgian and the Victorian age, not only London and Paris would be increasingly capable of setting global standards for fashion and glamour. Even minor capital cities –such as Venice and Rome- would be able, between the XVIII.th and XIX.th centuries, to foster and to host the best artistic and intellectual highlights coming from all over their country.
The course starts with an overview of historical cartography in its development related to the four cities. For what concerns the XVIIIth and XIXth century, the focus is on the introduction of the Land Register – or “Cadastre”: the first systematic detection system, probably the forerunner of the contemporary ‘information system’ for urban analysis. For each city, the course presents digital tools in order to analyze and represent –in a comparative way- both urban dynamics and architectural elements. Thanks to this kind of surveys, urban history can also be studied with modern analysis tools. It is increasingly important for understanding how digital tools can be useful for responding to several historical questions even at the urban scale.
The final goal is to show how documents can be used to set historical geographical information systems (HGIS). Students will learn to interpret historical documents in bringing about urban evolution analyses, learning how compare maps, how describe patterns in data maps, how identify data sources and how create new maps from cartographic contents.