Pietro Bellati was an official in the Austrian Duchy of Milan at the end of the 18th century. His letters to Antonio Greppi, by-then retired into private life, are a precious testimony of the polit-ical and socio-cultural changes in Lombardy and the European framework. Through the analy-sis of Bellati’s letters, the article considers how the Lombard society perceived the changes of the last decades of the century. From this correspondence emerges a widespread fear of novel-ty interpreted by many individuals as a loss of the consolidated balance. The threat was that of the centralizing forces of the Austrian administration, the intrusion of the new police, the di-vesting of the Church in the management of justice, the armies looming on the eastern front of the Empire and the revolutionary ideas spreading from France. However, was the reaction to novelty so clear? Was there a margin of acceptance for the change? Through the analysis of Bellati’s reports and comments, the article considers the nuances of the case.
Keywords: Austrian Lombardy, age of transition, police, French Revolution, European diplo-macy, Greppi.