Book Series Europa Sacra, vol. 7

Late Medieval and Early Modern Ritual

Studies in Italian Urban Culture

Samuel Cohn, Marcello Fantoni, Franco Franceschi, Fabrizio Ricciardelli (eds)

  • Pages: viii + 364 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:14 b/w, 4 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2013

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54190-7
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54202-7
  • E-book
  • Available

Combining aspects of recent scholarship in history and anthropology, this book explores how ‘Survivals and Renewals’ can be used as tools for understanding the society of Late Medieval and Early Modern Italy.


"(...) les recherches présentées apportent du matériel neuf et stimulant pour notre connaissance de la politique, de la société et de la culture italiennes." (Noemi Rubello, dans: Le Moyen Âge, 3-4/2013, Tome CXIX, p. 729)

"The editors and the contributors to this volume are to be commended for the richness of the offerings contained within it. Emerging from these studies, and reinforced in Cohn's introduction, is a strong sense of the sheer vitality and inventiveness present in ritual life in Italy well into the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For this alone, the volume makes a valuable contribution to the field and will hopefully stimulate further critical analysis of these themes." (Cecilia Hewlett, in: The Medieval Review 14.09.31)

"Scholars will (...) find stimulating material in many of the essays that comprise this volume, regardless of their own areas of specialization." (Nicholas A. Eckstein, in: American Historical Review, 120.2, April 2015, p. 730-731)

"(...) this book must be praised for maintaining a strong line of methodological coherence while assembling scholars with diverse backgrounds." (Giorgio Tagliaferro, in: Speculum 90/3, 2015, p. 789-791)


This collection of fifteen studies brings together scholars of late medieval, Renaissance, and early modern Italy to reflect on the multifaceted world of ritual. The scope is expansive, covering four centuries, and the length and breadth of the Italian peninsula.

Because of older presumptions about the modernity of the Renaissance and hence its supposed aversion to the irrational, scholarship on ritual life in Italian city-states of the Renaissance has lagged behind the historiography on symbols and rituals in monarchies north of the Alps. Only by the 1990s had a wide range of scholars across disciplines become interested in these subjects and approaches for the late medieval and early modern Italian city-state; yet no synthesis or comparative work on rituals and symbols has peered across the regional enclaves of Italy. Through original research in libraries and archives across the Italian peninsula, these essays analyze the richness and importance of ritual at the heart of the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation states, the importance of oaths, ritual space, the power of images, processions, curses, guild ceremonies, saints, and more. The wide geographic and disciplinary range of these essays provides a new platform for viewing the significance of ritual and symbolic power in Renaissance and early modern Italy.



Introduction: Symbols and Rituals - Samuel Cohn Jr

Symbols and Rituals: Definition of a Field of Study - Marcello Fantoni

Part I. Consensus and Social Identity

Between Rules and Ritual: The Election of the Signoria in Florence in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries - Ilaria Taddei

The Rituals of the Guilds: Examples from Tuscan Cities (Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries) - Franco Franceschi

The Rhetoric of Power in Renaissance Florence - Fabrizio Ricciardelli

Peace and Revolt: Oath-Taking Rituals in Early Sixteenth-Century Italy - Carlo Taviani

Part II. Family and Gender

Family Rituals in Northern Italy (Fifteenth to Seventeenth Centuries) - Guido Alfani

The First Female Nudes of the Quattrocento - Christiane Klapisch -Zuber

Part III. Death and Violence

Honour and Insult: Military Rituals in Late Medieval Tuscany - William Caferro

Philip II’s Royal Exequies in Two Italian Cities: His Deeds and Virtues as Seen in Florence and Naples - John A. Marino

Rituals of Youthful Violence in Late Medieval Italian Urban Societies - Andrea Zorzi

Part IV. Civic and Power Rituals

Papal Sovereignty and Civic Rituals in the Early Modern Age - Maria Antonietta Visceglia

Ritual Form and Urban Space in Early Modern Rome - Genevieve Warwick

Symbol of Venice: The Doge in Ritual - Andrew Hopkins

The Pope as Conqueror: Rites of Possession, Episodes, and Unexpected Events in 1598 Ferrara - Giovanni Ricci