The Betrothed takes place 1628-1630. It is roughly contemporary with The Three Musketeers. Shakespeare has been dead for 12 years. The Thirty Years' War (1616-1648) is only one of several wars under way. With the exception of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, the ruling heads of Europe are unexceptionable. Louis XIII's rule of France is contested by Cardinal Richelieu. Charles I of England has still 21 more years to reign before losing his head. Philip IV has just begun his long rule of Spain, Ferdinand II is Holy Roman Emperor, and Michael I is now the first Romanov czar of Russia.
The 17th century has always seemed to me to be the most confusing period of European history, with no dominant cultural theme and with constant religious and dynastic conflict. Every major country was simultaneously involved in foreign wars, internal revolt, and overseas conquest.
Here is a map of northern Italy at that time.
Here is a picture showing the striking headpiece that Lucia was wearing on her ill-fated wedding day.
And here is a modern-day view of Lecco, the town on Lake Como where the story begins.
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