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Comparing Two Italies. Civic tradition, trade networks, family relationships between Italy of Communes and the Kingdom of Sicily

P. Mainoni, N. L. Barile (eds.)
approx. 450 p., 3 b/w ill., 156 x 234 mm
ISBN: 978-2-503-56976-5
Languages: English, Italian, French
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A fresh view on the  historical problem of the «Two Italies»
The title recalls a famous book by David Abulafia, The two Italies, Cambridge 1977, about the origins of the so-called “unequal exchange” and “dual economy” between Northern and Southern Italy. This argument is supposed to be the ground of the so called «Southern question»  («questione meridionale»), one of the foremost topics of the whole Italian history. But trade isn’t the only major theme apt to compare Italy of Communes and Kingdom of  Sicily. This  miscellany of essays points to enlarge interpretative paths not only about trade networks, but about  less known sides of interrelations, e. g. the rise of civic tradition, the spread of Mendicant Orders, the circulation of wealth because of family relationships, women, marriage and patrimonial assets.
Table of Contents

Patrizia Mainoni, Forewords. The opening essay concerns scholarship tradition about the  miscellany’s topics (civic tradition,  trade networks,  family relationship between  Italy of Communes  and the Kingdom of Sicily). The idea of an “unequal exchange” and of the backwardness of late medieval Southern agrarian society and economy compared to Northern and Central Italy  merchant society and economy is deeply rooted in the Italian scholarship. Several old and recent works keep to an anachronistic and misleading idea that today’s Southern  difficulties began during the Middle Ages.

Gianmarco De Angelis, Between juridical tradition and political practice: majority decisions in Italian city communes (12th-13th century). The essay studies one of the more interesting features of communal policies, the majority decisions. This practice is opposite to the authority rule of a sovereign. However, what is a majority decision in consular and in «podestà» ruled commune?    

Giovanni Araldi,Conscience civique et production normative : les statuts de Bénévent en 1203. Benevento, a town near Naples, was the former core of the Lombard duchy. The town surrendered to pope during the Norman conquest. This condition made Beneventans aware of their civic identity. The continuity  with the Lombard age is marked by the lawyers, or «iudices», as important social group. 

Maria Teresa Dolso, Gli Ordini Mendicanti tra le due Italie (sec. XIII). This paper sets out a historiographical review on the issue of the expansion and establishment of Mendicant Orders in the «two Italies». It also closely examines the presence of the Franciscans and the worship of the so-called «new saints» in the Southern Italy, analysing a new Saint Francis’s Vita: a recent discovery which has led to a new significant knowledge concerning the early spread of the cult of Saint Francis and the Franciscans in Sicily and in the rest of the Southern Italy.

Nicola Lorenzo Barile, “... per evitare il gran pericolo che questi cessassero dal trafficarvi”. Venetian merchants, Apulian cities and Crete in the Early Renaissance. This article focuses on several examples of merchants from Venice, Crete and the Kingdom of Sicily. The aim is to show the relationships between trade goods,  political context and merchant’s families (XIII-XV centuries). So we can see the strong connection between those merchants and the local people, further strengthened by the granting of citizenship, marriage alliances and political relationship with the local authorities of the Apulian towns.

Eleni Sakellariou, Regional trade and its agents in the Kingdom of Naples: problems of definition and the contribution of prosopography. The first part of the contribute relate to theundervalued issue of internal market and market degrees, in which we can see that the Aragonese kings regulated trade fiscal charges, fairs and market places and unified weights and measures. In the second part, the Author drafts a first data-base of some Southern Italy merchant’s case-studies, like the important group of the Amalfitans (XIII-XIV centuries).          

Denise Bezzina and Paola Guglielmotti, Women, families and patrimonial assets in 12th- and 13th-century Liguria: new perspectives and past approaches. Past scholarship (Pistarino, Owen Hugues) stressed medieval Genoese women agency. This essay, however, underlines how several questions are still open. Indeed, the Authors argue that there are local different women’s patrimonial assets in the Northern Italy cities and question the dowries as merchant investments. Ligurian women had their own money (extra dotem) that may be invested in trade.     

Alessandra Bassani, Familia idest substantia? Lombard women and statutes in Baldo degli Ubaldi’s consilia. The study of some Baldo degli Ubaldi’s consilia reveals that women’s propriety was a discussed topic among  XIVth-XVth centuries lawyers. Famous lawyers were asked to counsel Italian city-states governments and princes, in family matters as soon as state ones. A conspicuous example is Baldo degli Ubaldi’s consilium to the duke of Milan Giangaleazzo Visconti about the former prince’s  (Bernabò Visconti) concubines. 

Isabelle Chabot, La géographie des systèmes dotaux et successoraux dans les “deux Italies” (XIIe-XVe siècles): questions anciennes et nouvelles problématiques. According to the Author, several dowry systems were used in late medieval Italy. Bust we must also consider women’s successorial rights and, above all, maternal inheritance, which was parted among all sons and daughters.  

Paolo Grillo, Conclusione: l'Italia e le Italie. Grillo gives some guidelines of research and concludes that we have to distinguish between chronological and political contexts.
Interest Classification:
Medieval & Renaissance History (c.400-1500)
Medieval European history (400-1500) : local & regional history
Italian Peninsula

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