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The economist and the secret agent. Strategies to introduce the British model of society into Sicily of 1812.


The paper explores the events which determined the transition of Sicily from the ancien regime towards a modern liberal society. The key figures selected to understand this historical moment are the economist Paolo Balsamo, professor at Regia Università di Palermo, and the Scottish gentleman Gould Francis Leckie, whose profile as landowner and scholar concealed his intelligence activity in Sicily. This essay shows how British policy and Sicilian ruling class conceived a plan to transform the island by importing a model of capitalist society from the United Kingdom and entrusted it to the cultural and political role exercised by Balsamo.