Representations of collective action in Mantua and Parma, c.1000-c.1120
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During the 1970s Keller codified a Ständeordnung (social order) in the cities of Italy in the ninth to twelfth centuries dividing political society into three ordines: the capitanei (high nobility), valvassores (low nobility) and populus (non nobles). This model has had a great impact on historians’ presentation of urban society in the precommunal and communal period and much of the debate of the last thirty years has hinged around how extensively similar models can be applied throughout the cities of Italy. My thesis critiques this discussion, arguing that too much emphasis has been placed on identifying and defining social groups within this period without fully considering the political motivations, social preconceptions and rhetorical techniques of the authors of the medieval texts. I focus on Mantua and Parma and investigate a series of case studies looking at the political and rhetorical strategies pursued by the authors of the sources. This comparative approach is novel and balances a tendency to address the Italian communes either individually or as regional surveys. The use of case studies allows a deeper analysis than the general surveys common to this topic are able to provide. I have reassessed incidents in Mantua and Parma and demonstrated that a number of factors affected different authors’ choices during this period, and that these factors changed over time: most notably from rhetorical need to descriptions of politically activity. Furthermore, I argue that urban collective action was often undertaken by a conglomeration of those who could be defined as any of the ordines described by Keller and others. This has implications for the applicability of Ständeordnung in other cities in Northern Italy which share similar political situations and documentation with Mantua or Parma, suggesting that these social models may need to be redefined. My thesis does not overturn the concept of Ständeordnung but refines it in an original manner contributing a new aspect to the debate.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-05-21
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 21st May 2020
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