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Political views in the preaching of Giovanni Dominici in Renaissance Florence, 1400-1406. (*).


In a letter to the well-known merchant, Francesco Datini, Chiara Gambacorta, a nun from an aristocratic Pisan family, wrote:

I know that the venerable preacher, our father, the Friar Giovanni Dominici, will preach in our central church this Lent. So I beg you, for your love of Christ, that you hear his sermons . . . heal in your soul and in your body. Such perfect food are his sacred sermons!

I believe that he has already begun to preach feast days. Now you have the means to turn entirely good; I have never heard any one instruct so perfectly all kinds of people. (1)

Such a testimony shows the favorable impression and strong impact the Dominican preacher made on his listeners. (2)

The role of religion in Florentine history has attracted much attention in the past few decades. (3) Most scholars when discussing preaching in Renaissance Florence have focused on Savonarola (1452-1498). Two historians, Marvin Becker and Daniel Lesnick, have discussed the political role of preachers, but mostly in relation to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. David Peterson has written on Archbishop Antoninus (1389-1459) and his contribution to the institutional history of the Church, while more recently Peter Howard has discussed the public theology of the archbishop and the spiritual guidance he offered. (4)

Little attention has been paid to the important Dominican preacher Giovanni Dominici (1356-1419), who was active in Florence in the first decade of the fifteenth century. (5) In his book on apocalyptic expectations Roberto Rusconi (1979) has included Dominici, and Peter Denley (1982) has written on his opposition to the studia humanitatis. More recently, such historians as Giorgio Cracco (1990) and Daniel Bornstein (1993) have examined Dominici's place in the religious life of his times, especially during his Venetian sojourn. For all that, Dominici's main activity, his career as a preacher, has been overlooked, and almost the entire corpus of his sermons remains unpublished. Only Daniel Lesnick, in a pioneering article on civic preaching (1990), dealt briefly with the political aspect of Dominici's sermons, placing him within a tradition of Dominican civic preaching that began with Remigio de' Girolami and Giordano da Pisa and climaxed with Savonarola.

This study documents the charismatic preacher as a leading actor on the stage of Renaissance Florence, preaching as a powerful mode of political propaganda. It places Dominici's preaching and his political message within the Florentine context of his time, while acknowledging his place within the overall tradition of Dominican civic preaching. The political thought of Giovanni Dominici was influenced by traditional Dominican, Aristotelian thinking about the bene comune, and by the "civic humanist" thought of Coluccio Salutati and Leonardo Bruni. Dominici has often been presented as an adversary of the humanists, and as a traditionalist in his thought; yet he seems to have paid considerable attention to what the humanists had to say about government. He presented an ambivalent attitude toward Florentine civic ideals. On the one hand, he supported such ideals as the active life and Florence's descent from the Roman republic. On the other hand, he criticized humanist rhetoric and the rise of the professional po litician, central values in the civic world of Florence in the opening years of the fifteenth century.


Giovanni Dominici was born in Florence in 1356, son of the silk merchant Domenico di Banchino and his wife, Paola Zorzi, a Venetian noblewoman. (6) His father died before Dominici's birth, and he was educated by his mother. Wanting him to be a merchant, she sent him to Venice for two years (1371-1372). Yet upon his return, when only seventeen, Dominici decided to join the Dominican order at Santa Maria Novella. He became a follower of the mystic and church reformer Catherine of Siena, whom he met in Pisa in 1376-1377. In 1380, Dominici was ordained into the priesthood. He began preaching in Florence, Pisa, and Lucca, with modest success. Elected sub prior of Santa Maria Novella in 1381, he held the position of prior from 1385 to 1387.

In 1388, Dominici was sent by Raymond of Capua, the vicar general of the Dominicans, to assume the post of lecturer in theology at the church of San Zanipolo in Venice. He became an important figure in the Dominican Osservanza, a reform movement initiated at the end of the fourteenth century in the Veneto region. It was part of a reform movement that emerged in many religious orders, monastic and mendicant, as a reaction against a general relaxation of discipline, defined as Conventualism, which was a symptom of the Church's decline after the Black Death. Between 1391 and 1393, Dominici set up a network of reformed houses in northeastern and central Italy, and in 1393 his friend Raymond of Capua nominated him to be the vicar general of the Observant houses in Italy. (7) Dominici became a popular preacher in Venice and was appointed by the Venetian government to preach the Lenten sermons each year. (8) His most important achievement was the reopening of the convent of Corpus Domini in 1394, which soon became one of the most important religious houses in Venice. (9)

In 1399, the Council of Ten banished Dominici from Venice because of his association with the peace movement of the Bianchi, a popular penitential religious movement, which spread from Liguria to the Veneto and central Italy. The Council of Ten, fearing for the security of the state, had refused the Bianchi permission to enter Venice. Dominici thereupon staged his own procession of religious penitents. Dominici's procession was dispersed and he was arrested and expelled from Venetian territory for five years. (10)

Hard on the heels of his banishment from Venice, the Signoria invited Dominici to Florence to preach the upcoming Advent and Lenten sermons. So he returned to his native city and was appointed vicar of Santa Maria Novella. During the years that followed, he established his reputation as a preacher both in Santa Maria Novella and in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. But as in Venice, Dominici did not hesitate to confront the authorities, and he became again a controversial figure. Continuing to identify publicly with the Bianchi, he enthused, in a Lenten sermon in 1400, about the spread of the movement in Tuscany and Apulia. He also severely criticized the Church hierarchy, claiming that, in contrast to the Bianchi, it consisted of avaricious and simoniac cardinals and bishops. He characterized Pope Boniface IX as a mercenary who thought only about money."

Dominici taught theology at the Florentine studio and became a spiritual guide to several individuals, such as the wealthy merchant Francesco Datini and the patrician noblewoman Bartolomea degli Alberti, as well as to local religious houses. In 1403, Coluccio Salutati, the Florentine chancellor, wrote to the master general of the Dominicans to request permission for him to remain in the city for the next five years. Dominici continued to preach in Florence, Lucca, and the area around Bologna, gaining fame and followers. In 1405 he founded the Monastery of San Domenico in Fiesole. One of his enthusiastic pupils was Antoninus, the future archbishop of Florence, who remained his devoted disciple. Meanwhile, Dominici had began an additional career as a diplomat, representing the interests of Florence as ambassador to Innocent VII in Rome. In October of 1406 he preached in Santa Maria del Fiore as part of the celebrations of the city's victory over Pisa. He also delivered the oration at the funeral of Coluccio Sa lutati -- a further sign of his prestige.

As an ambassador representing the interests of Florence in attempts to end the Great Schism, Dominici became involved in the political affairs of the papacy. Leonardo Bruni, in a letter to Prince Francesco of Cortona dated December 1406, described the role that Dominici had played after the death of Innocent VII. At his request, and contrary to custom, Dominici had been permitted to address the College of Cardinals. His call to recognize the legitimacy of Benedict XIII, and nor choose another pope, was not heeded; the cardinals instead decided to elect Angelo Correr of Venice, Dominici's friend. After these events, Dominici was dismissed from his post as ambassador of Florence. He in turn decided to become an advisor to the new pope, Gregory XII, at the curia. (12)

The last period of Dominici's life is characterized by ecclesiastical and diplomatic activities. He became archbishop of Ragusa in 1407 and, a year later, a cardinal. The Florentine authorities saw the nomination of Dominici to the highest positions in the Church during the ongoing Great Schism as a betrayal, and they accused him of neglecting the idea of the unity of the Church in exchange for personal benefits. In 1409, Dominici served as a papal legate to King Sigismund of Hungary and King Ladislaus of Poland, trying to persuade them to remain obedient to the Roman line. In 1414, he participated at the Council of Constance. After Martin V was elected pope in 1417, Dominici was sent as a papal legate to Bohemia and Hungary to help fight the Hussite heresy. He died on a mission against the Hussites in Budapest in 1419 and was buried there in the Church of St. Paul.

Composed partly during his Venetian residence (1388-1399) but especially during the second Florentine period (1400-1406), Dominici's works are many and varied; they comprise sermons, lectures, devotional manuals, treatises, commentaries, biographies, letters, and poetry. From his youth, there remains only a grammar written in Pisa in 1376-1377. From the Roman period (1406-1419) only three letters are extant. His works from the Venetian period are essentially mystical and deal with such themes as contemplation and grace. A cycle of Latin sermons, which may be attributed to Dominici's preaching in Venice, dwells mainly on such theological themes as the Passion and God's omnipotence. (13) There are also his letters to the sisters at Corpus Domini, dating from 1394 to 1409. (14)

Three of Dominici's most important works--Regola del governo di cura familiare (1401), Il libro d'amore di carita (1404), and Trattato delle dieci questioni (1404) -- were written in Florence and were addressed to the noblewoman Bartolomea degli Alberti. The Regola, written for Bartolomea after her husband, Antonio Alberti, was banished from Florence and she was left alone to take care of her children, is meant to guide her in the preservation of her soul, her body, her household, and her possessions. Il libro d'amore is an extended commentary on I Corinthians 13, focusing on Christian charity. And the Trattato delle dieci questioni is a mystical treatise on the value of faith. Another major work, the Lucula Noctis, written in 1405 and dedicated to Coluccio Salutati, is an open attack on humanism and was part of an ongoing debate on the value of poetry and classical culture. Many of Dominici's works have been edited, among them the Regola del governo (1927), Il libro d'amore(1889), Trattato delle dieci quest ioni (1957), and the Lucula Noctis (1908, 1940). There is also a critical edition of his letters: Lettere spirituali (1969).

A manuscript containing forty-seven sermons that Dominici preached in Florence in Santa Maria Novella and Santa Maria del Fiore between 1400 and 1406, survives as MS.1301 in the Biblioteca Riccardiana fols. 15r-177r. These sermons appear in Tuscan reportationes of his preaching -- that is, reports of sermons transcribed by an anonymous listener. They seem to be a collection of sermons assembled without any chronological order and delivered on diverse liturgical occasions. (15) A few other sermons are found scattered in manuscripts such as Ricc. 1414 and Rice. 2105 in Florence or S. Pantaleo (112) in Rome. (16) Alfredo Galletti discovered the manuscript Ricc. 1301 and transcribed a few passages (1907); Guglielmo D'Agresti (1970) presented a selection from it in a review of Dominici's writings; Roberto Rusconi (1979) discussed several passages; Peter Denley (1982) remarked on its importance; and Daniel Lesnick (1990) quoted a few passages in an article on Dominici's civic preaching. But the manuscript has neve r been studied in depth. A detailed analysis of these sermons forms the heart of this study.

The sermon is an oral event preserved as a written text. Consequently there is a gap between the live preaching of Dominici and the documents we read. (17) Moreover, the anonymous listener who wrote down the sermons sometimes did not understand or distorted the words of the preacher. Dominici preached according to the rules of the sermo modernus, based on an opening quotation from the Scriptures followed by a scholastic discussion of theological doctrine, to which he added his own personal observations and techniques. (18) A typical passage follows, one that demonstrates both the style and the content of Dominici's preaching on politics. It is part of a sermon delivered after the triumph of Florence over Pisa in 1406:

Remember your third name and that you are called a Florentine. And if you do not want to be a hypocrite, look at your origins. Etymology teaches it. If you look at your origins, you will see how you have descended from top to bottom. Oh, if you reflect on this, how humbled you are! You whose origins are from the Romans, most noble, most flourishing [fioriti] in virtu! If you are a Florentine, make yourself flourish [Fiorischa], , so everything will not rot. Notice where the flowers are. And know that one of the reasons that Florence is called fiorenzia is because this land was full of flowers and lilies. But where do your deeds flourish [fiorite]? Everything is rotten!

If someone wants to kill me for telling the truth, he is welcome! It has been said that I stoop to abusing the citizens since I preach about their vices and that I could just as easily preach about Florentines, I first would not know where to begin: when it comes to vices, I know many that stink. So I tell you: if you are a hypocrite, you are not a Florentine, you do not flourish [Fiorischi]. If you were a Florentine, you would fight for your fatherland [patria], you would not rob the commune, be an usurer or a sodomite. How much there is to say! And if you think carefully, if you are a Florentine, bring honor for your patria and abandon vain glory. (19)

This passage exemplifies the sophistication of Dominici's technique. It is intense and direct, containing strong words ("rot") and bitter sarcasm, and delivered in an enthusiastic rhythm. In the first part, he develops a wordplay on the name Firenze. Next he contrasts the glory of the ancient Romans with the decline of their Florentine descendants, concluding with a rhetorical question. He ridicules his opponents and teases the Florentine audience: it is easier to talk about their vices than their virtues. Then he rakes the personal approach, "So I tell you," and guides his listeners in a sequence of rhythmic chastisements. The passage also typifies Dominici's political position in Florence. On the one hand, the preacher is a patriot, preaching a victory sermon and praising his patria; on the other, he is castigating his audience, showing himself to be a fierce critic, in conflict with his society, urging his listeners toward morality and virtue.

Dominici emphasizes the need for citizens to fight for their fatherland: he alludes to the city's greatness with a mixture of glorification and irony. The comparison between Rome and Florence, used by other Florentine authors as well, was a favorite literary topos, a sign of civic pride. Yet Dominici does not hesitate to attack his contemporaries directly for their vices, such as greed and licentiousness. Implicitly, he is condemning the city's government as responsible for this situation, especially the officials who "rob the commune." Dominici acknowledges that he has enemies, that there are those who object to his sermons. On the whole, then, Dominici is revealed in this sermon as an ambivalent member of the Florentine commune, sharing its civic pride but concerned about its sins.


The intellectually challenging aspect of Dominici's sermons is their political content, because they were preached in a sophisticated manner that combined the theoretical and the practical. Another difficulty in constructing Dominici's political views is the nature of the literary genre. He did not write a systematic political treatise explaining his political ideals. What we have are the written records of his oral preaching in which the political material is scattered in diverse sermons delivered on different liturgical occasions. Another obstacle is the abstract and indirect nature of Dominici's discourse; references to contemporary events and personalities are almost invariably absent. The preacher knew that it was risky to be explicit when talking about politics; he therefore used a double language, couching his criticisms in generalities. (20) The complexity of his diatribes was due also to Dominici's problematic position in the city. On the one hand, he was regarded as a holy man nominally uninvolved i n secular affairs, one who served as an arbitrator between rival factions. But on the other hand, he was an active member of society with his own opinions on government and even some personal political aspirations. His situation was all the more delicate in that he depended on the city government's good will and could not challenge the authorities openly. (21)

The period 1382 to 1434 was one of growth and expansion for Florence. Between 1375 and 1378, the commune had fought against Pope Gregory XI, a war that had ended with Florence's defeat and humiliation; the commune had to restore Church property and pay fines to the pope. (22) The period was also marked by territorial conquests: Arezzo in 1384, Montepulciano in 1390, and Pisa in 1406. (23) After 1380, Milan, under the rule of Giangaleazzo Visconti, became Florence's biggest enemy and the cities fought a series of wars. Florence was saved by the death of Milan's ruler in 1402. Hans Baron considered these Florentine wars as a crisis that led to the birth of Florentine civic humanism. (24) Although Dominici preached during these years, the Florentine wars do not occupy a prominent place in his sermons. Even his sermon celebrating Florence's conquest of Pisa in October 1406 does not mention the war itself. (25) Perhaps the preacher omitted the subject of external politics because he was more concerned about other issues, such as justice and civic peace.

The constant wars had various repercussions in Florence. One was a shared patriotism and civic spirit, and there are many statements recorded in the commune's documents of citizens preparing to "suffer death for liberty" or "sell their children for the benefit of the commune." (26) Dominici shared in this new wave of patriotism. In one sermon he declared: "[Be] a man, a Christian, and a Florentine;" giving each appeal the same level of importance; he exhorted the citizens of Florence to fight for the fatherland (patria). (27) In his sermons, he alluded constantly to the greatness of the Florentines, whose fame had spread throughout the world; he spoke with pride of the city's ancient history. (28) Dominici was emphatic about the need to donate money to meet the needs of the commune and to pay taxes. He put a person's obligation to the patria on the same level as his duties to his family, instructing his listeners to say: "I do not desire to gain the world or superfluous things, but only to support my family, and support the expenses of the commune and other things." (29)

Dominici's statements draw attention to the constant financial drain on Florence created by the wars, and the need to marshal all of its resources. He disapproved of Florence's aggressive policy for practical reasons, meaning that the constant wars caused financial difficulties for the city's treasury and for its individual citizens. "You Florentines," he argued, "you have no thought other than to search for war, and you desire poverty and war more than wealth and peace." He criticized those who "want peace but not at their expense," yet stated, rather vaguely, that he was not referring to every war but only to "a war made by mistake" -- implying that he supported necessary wars, those essential for the safety of the patria. (30)

In the fourteenth century, the Florentine commune began to limit the privileges of the local church and to intervene in its affairs. During the conflict with the papacy between 1375 and 1378, the state taxed its clergy heavily and confiscated their property. The commune renewed laws prohibiting magnates (old noble Florentine families) from occupying the sees of Florence and Fiesole. Although the strict control of the clergy relaxed somewhat after the war, during the years of the Great Schism (1378-1417) and the Visconti wars, and until the end of the fifteenth century, the church continued to be subordinated to the state, and the clergy had to pay taxes to finance the needs of the Florentine government. The commune passed a series of laws to regulate the taxation of the Church in the Florentine territory, and in 1415 it revived the anti-ecclesiastical legislation of the previous century, with confiscated goods being placed in a special fund called Monte de' preti. The fiscal pressure was so heavy that in 141 9 Florence's clergy appealed to Martin V, asking for relief from Florentine and papal taxes alike and complaining about extortion by both communal and papal collectors. Between 1415 and 1420, the Florentine clergy, influenced by conciliar principles, even set up an independent corporation and drafted its own constitutiones sinodales cleri florentini in order to govern itself independently of episcopal supervision. A certain legal equilibrium in the taxation of the clergy was achieved only during the archbishopric of St. Antoninus (1446-1459). (31)

Criticism and satire of the clergy abounded in Florentine literature; the hordes of lustful and gluttonous clerics who fill Boccaccio's stories come readily to mind. Fifteenth-century Florentine writers such as Leonardo Bruni and Poggio Bracciolini delighted in carrying on this tradition, ridiculing hypocritical clergymen and charging that ecclesiastics failed to meet the needs of the believers. In general, the Florentines showed a rather negative attitude toward the Church in both literature and law. (32) This attitude toward the local clergy is evident even in Dominici's sermons. The preacher devoted lengthy juridical discussions to the Florentines' unacceptable practice of inflicting injury on clerics because of financial disagreements, and to their habit of stealing from churches. During a discussion on excommunication as a punishment for attacking clergymen, the preacher gave these examples:

There was a person who went to a priest or a clergyman in your name and hit him without your knowledge. He is excommunicated since he hit the priest or clergyman. But if later, when you heard this, you were content, you are excommunicated like .... Or another case: say you have ordered one of your subordinates, an officer or any other person to go and hit or rob a clergyman, let us say, in the case of Florence, because of loans or some other reason. But before he goes you change your mind and tell him that you have repented and that you do not want him to go. Then the evil messenger says: 'Once you have told me so that's it,' and he goes and carries out the first command [that is, hits the clergyman]. He who doesn't confirm that he didn't want it done, remains excommunicated from the church militant, but not from the church triumphant." (33)

Such cases transmitted the principles of canon law and showed the practical consequences of harming a cleric. In the first case, not only the action, the hitting, but also the intention, the satisfaction of the listener, led to excommunication; in the second case, the deed led to excommunication from the institutional church but the remorse resulted in absolution in the eternal church. Dominici was presenting typical theological views, which condemned these abuses; but his dwelling on these topics at such length and in public might indicate that they were indeed highly relevant to his audience.

Dominici paid special attention to defending the Church and its rights. He declared that a public official must "above all other things beware that his advice does not go against God's honor and the freedom of the Church." (34) In one sermon he argued that there were two kinds of forgiveness, temporal and eternal, and that temporal offenses should be punished by the civil authorities -- such as the podesta or the capitano -- and not by the religious authorities. (35) In another sermon, however, he used the idea of separate responsibilities to secure the Church's autonomy:

Just as you, the layman, do not want the clergy to have temporal authority in things you do against the temporal laws, such as gambling, carrying arms, and other things, just as you do not want to pay your fine to the spiritual officials (rettori spitituali) or have them make you observe these laws, likewise I tell you that you, a secular man, should not interfere in spiritual and monastic laws. (36)

Dominici refrained from condemning specific individuals involved in injuries against the clergy, or from describing concrete instances of offenses. He employed a rather apologetic tone, attempting to win the sympathy of his lay audience with personal appeals such as "just as you, the layman." The cautious defense indicates, by its very nature, the delicate situation of the church in Florence and the discretion the preacher had to use when referring to the subject.

Florence's incessant wars led to changes in the structure of the republic. The commune's financial difficulties created the need for a more professional government, and Florence gradually developed into a centralized state. Many corporate bodies, such as the Guelf party, came under the authority of the commune, and a more efficient judicial system was established. The Signoria became the highest magistracy, and a new type of body appeared: the balie, executive commissions charged with exceptional powers. These commissions acted alongside the normative legislative and judicial bodies, such as the foreign rectors, and challenged their authority. Tension arose inside Florence between the public, which wanted to preserve traditional republican institutions, and the new men in power, who supported the creation of centralized magistracies administered by a professional bureaucracy. (37)

The Florentine government between 1382 and 1434 was an oligarchic regime. Many inhabitants of the commune and the poor citizens within the walls paid a considerable amount in taxes, while the urban rich paid comparatively less. The changes in Florence might be defined as a transformation from social representation to political representation, from a communal spirit and institutions -- such as guilds and parties -- to a centralized government dominated by a social elite and managed by a class of professional politicians. (38)

Dominici did not specifically mention any single event in the internal history of the Florentine republic, but he conveyed a general preoccupation with its government. He criticized the political situation in the commune by positing an ideal alternative. He focused his discussion on three major themes: the nature of the republic as a whole, the duties and obligations of its rulers, and the centrality of the legal system to its prosperity.


Dominici evolved a political theology influenced by Florence's Dominican preachers of the previous century, men such as Remigio de' Girolami and Giordano da Pisa. (39) He combined the classical ideals of the state as a corpus with the theological metaphor of the mystical body to produce an image of the republic as a body whose members are bound together by the interests of the common good (bene comune), and who must therefore seek to be at peace with one another. Each member of the body had its own function: rulers of the state, the head, must seek not only their own interests but those of all citizens; the arms were the fighters, defending the body; the feet were those who labored to preserve the state's physical well being. (40) Dominici's originality lay in his application of the conventional allegory to the creation of an educational program. Here is his advice to the Florentine noblewoman in the Regola: "Since her children, especially the boys, are members of the republic, she must raise them for its uti lity, for it [the republic] needs many things, such as officials, soldiers, and workers." (41)

Another central idea Dominici inherited from earlier Dominicans, one based on Thomist conceptions, was that of the bene comune. Between 1290 and 1320, the Dominican Remigio de' Girolami preached in Florence and composed the influential De bono communi during a struggle that pitted the Black Guelfs against the White Guelfs and Ghibellines. In the treatise, he emphasized chat one must prefer public good to personal benefit. (42) Dominici extolled this ideal as the basis of a successful republic, lamented that its neglect was causing disasters, and demanded that the city's leaders put the general interest above that of an individual or party:

Pay attention how the commune of Florence is managed: each works for his own profits, for his pocket, a few for the republic, and thus come wars, battles, and despair.... And when you join the council, you must change your name and be no more Piero or Martino, but the commune of Florence... .And if you would want to advise well, be not a divider but a unifier, Do you know what is the commune? Not Piero and not Giovanni, not Guelf and not Ghibel-line. (43)

The preacher condemned the greed of rulers, referring obliquely to the oppressive nature of the current regime, whose members "fill their pockets and the commune goes to ruins," and concluding that "whoever wants to govern well in all things, must forget about himself and apply all his efforts to the common good. And if he governs in this way, you know how well the affairs of the republic would go." (44)

Dominici challenged his Florentine listeners by offering historical Rome as an actual example of the ideal republic. He offered Rome both as a model and as a warning, commending its virtues and criticizing its corruptibility. He explained, for example, that envy was one of the causes of Rome's destruction. (45) Dominici stressed that the Florentines were the descendants of the ancient Romans, thus repeating the claims of earlier writers (such as Giovanni Villani or Remigio de' Girolami) and voicing the opinions of contemporary ones (such as Leonardo Bruni and Coluccio Salutati), underlining the connection between republican Rome and Florence. (46) But the Florentines had abandoned their glorious roots, the preacher lamented, and now it was their duty to recover them. When a law is being debated, he argued, the Florentines should act as the Romans did, having three people speak against each law in order to review and examine it in a serious manner. The Florentines must not make decisions in a hurry but take an example from the "sage Romans" (Romani savi) who went to the council with their writing materials, wrote down the proposals, went home, waited a day or two or three, depending on the seriousness of the matter, returned, reflected carefully on the issue and then reached a decision. (47)

At this point, one must bear in mind Dominici's opposition to the studia humanitatis as articulated in his sermons. In many passages he warns his listeners of the dangers of the classics. (48) Here is a typical example:

These poetic and rhetorical writings which teach you to speak well, to have vain glory, to feel supremacy, vanity, infidelity are the cause of little faith. You know that they are taught by crazy people who go searching for them. Who was Giove? Who was Saturno, Marte? ... [These are the] fables and nonsense of deceivers. (49)

The preacher had, despite his opposition to the classics, become quite interested in the details of Roman history. He warns his listeners against reading the classics but reveals his interest in their political and historical content. It seems he made a distinction between the moral danger of pagan literature and the usefulness of the Roman political experience.

Dominici's references to republican Rome, to the fall of Rome, and to the Florentine descent from the Roman republic reflect the tradition of Italian republicanism. His views are strongly rooted in the thought of the Tuscan Dominican Ptolemy of Lucca who wrote circa 1300 -- and in his treatise De regimine principum. Dominici adopted the approach of Ptolemy, who linked elements of a republican interpretation of Roman history to a theoretical justification of republican government. Dominici, however, presented the political ideal of the Roman republic in a less systematic manner, and drew direct parallels between the Roman experience and contemporary Florence. (50) Dominici's arguments underlining the importance of a republican regime and advocating a republican conception of history and politics are reminiscent of the views of Coluccio Salutati. While Dominici and Salutati clashed on cultural and educational ideals, their political sentiments were rather similar. Leonardo Bruni, in the Laudatio, carried on th is tradition of praising the Roman republic in a more mature, secular, and historically conscious way. (51) On the whole, Dominici's republican appraisal of ancient history and his attempt to relate elements of a republican interpretation of Roman history to a theoretical justification of republican government echo the views of contemporary humanists. He also drew a parallel between biblical Jerusalem and Florence. Here Dominici emphasized the failures of Jerusalem and used the fate of the city as a warning to the Florentines. The preacher implied that just as Jerusalem was destroyed because of its internal divisions and corrupt leaders, so God would punish Florence and inflict a war upon it. (52)

In short, Dominici supported the idea that a republic was superior to other forms of government. He carried on the republican tradition, so central to Italy since the twelfth century, and shared the contemporary republican ideology, which supported the citizens' commitment to the public interest. His description of the ideal republic combined the civic Dominican tradition and the more recent ideas of civic humanists. (53)

Dominici argued that the well-being of the republic rested largely on the civic virtues of its citizens, especially its leaders, and emphasized the responsibilities and necessary qualifications of rulers. The preacher was influenced by the medieval genre of the "mirror for princes" and by scholastic treatises such as De regno (On kingship) by Thomas Aquinas. But where thirteenth-century political philosophy concentrated on the advantages of monarchy and a just king, Dominici, who was part of a republican society, praised instead the oligarchy of wise men. (54) He pointed out the danger of ignorant and unqualified rulers, and underlined wisdom and reputation as the criteria for selection: "Those who rule and govern others must be an example of virtue and knowledge;" and a person who is ignorant in his affairs, does not know anything, and is without practical knowledge must not govern. (55) "Whoever wants a good counsel must choose clever men and not those who are not knowledgeable and practical, like the chil dren who are elected to office in Florence. These should not be named." The preacher concluded that "old, mature, practical, communal men should be elected for office: those who counsel well." (56) Dominici was here criticizing the custom of Florentine fathers of entering their sons' names into the electoral lists when they were under the thirty years required for most offices, and even when they were mere children or newborns. These fathers calculated that the reading aloud of the names of their underage sons before the Signoria promoted the family's visibility and would ensure them future political positions. (57)

The greatest pitfall facing rulers was pride, which easily led to tyranny. Dominici described a man whose bad character was hidden when he was lowly, but when he rose to power and became a ruler, everyone could see his vices, not just his family but strangers too. This ambitious man, declared Dominici, was like "a monkey on the roof." The problem, the preacher continued, was that "[from] the moment a person rises, he wants to earn the greatness of earthly power." (58) In other sermons he accused his listeners of "being ambitious and searching for power to rule in tyranny, concluding that "all the miseries of the world begin from ambition, pride of this world." (59) Dominici was, in fact, condemning the Florentines' penchant for avidly pursuing political careers, which he regarded with suspicion and contempt. In sum, he regarded politics as a disgraceful occupation, whereas Leonardo Bruni, for example, viewed the political vocation as morally superior and suited only to the nobility -- in fact, incomprehensib le to the simple people. Bruni praised political rhetoric as a distinguished mode to express ideas that could be practiced only by noble men. While Dominici considered humanist rhetoric to be a method of deception, Bruni extolled it as a superior art necessary to the man of letters as well as to the man of affairs. (60)

Addressing himself to the relations that must exist between leaders and the citizens of the city, Dominici proclaimed that the first obligation of leaders was to set a moral example for the common people; they were also responsible for their subjects' behavior and should correct and punish them. (61) Dominici emphasized, in addition, that a ruler must not use his position of power to exploit the poor: "If you are powerful, do not violate the powerless, do not take their [property] ." In another sermon, he complained: "Florence must cry; since those in power who are supposed to protect the weak, the poor from the thieves, they join the thieves to rob instead." (62) The preacher set out the rulers' duties at length and gave detailed instructions. He warned that decisions must be made with discretion and thought, not hurriedly and out of fear. He condemned those cases in which when you hear a bad proposal that is harmful for the commune, which the person put forth for himself and his friend, you vote once with a white bean [to express disagreement] and once with a black bean [to express consent]." (63) Dominici might have been criticizing the tradition of open voting rather than secret balloting, a practice that influenced a person's decision. He also drew a distinction between concilio, when you send for people who you know will say what you want to hear, and consiglio, when you ring the bell and truly call everyone who is ready to counsel you and is free to do so. (64) All in all, Dominici attacked the lack of an open and free political debate in Florence.

Dominici deplored the pressures exerted by rulers to influence decisions. He claimed that decisions were made on the basis of temptation, deceit, and intimidation. A person was persuaded first by promises, then by manipulation and threats, then by despair because of cold, hunger, and discomfort and, finally, by delays: "Return today, return tomorrow." The result was that a person decided according to the ruler's preferences when he (the person) was midway to a decision and what the ruler had decided previously turned out to be the reality. (65) Dominici also criticized the professional politicians for abusing their rhetorical skills to exploit the powerless. He expressed contempt for the ignorant poor for being easily manipulated, but also sympathy for their helplessness, and he therefore called for their protection. In one of his sermons, he described "the false hypocrite who goes to the balcony [of the Palazzo Signoria] and with sweet zeal describes the good condition of the city, and makes the firefly app ear like a lamp, and deceives the simple people." (66) In another sermon he lamented: "Today everyone is a rhetorician! Everyone is a meddler, embellisher with language, with hypocrisy, deceiving companions and becoming powerful, telling lies and oaths and perjuries without any fear of God! This manner of speaking glorifies the devil!" (67) In another sermon Dominici again emphasized the misuse of speech by the powerful in order to abuse the weak: "There are so many of those cursed hypocrites, and the commune is a fine example when under a semblance of good, one recommends evil. God has given you the eloquence, the knowledge to speak well from the balcony, to adorn speech. And there where he gave you this so you would profit and do good with it, you use it instead to deceive the people, who are ignorant, give consent." (68)

It is intriguing that Dominici, a man of words himself, was suspicious of language. Perhaps he knew the power of speech so well firsthand that he feared its consequences. As one who viewed language as a tool to move the hearts and minds of an audience toward the good, the preacher objected to political oratory intended to attain practical ends -- such as support for a certain person or policy -- and warned men not to corrupt God's greatest gift, the power of speech, for secular ambitions. In the Regola, Dominici explained that "language was dedicated to the usage of preachers and directors of the life of the spirit" and that it must be used not for praising the created human being but to thank, magnify and preach the glorious and infinite God. (69) He distinguished the merits of the ars praedicandi from the faults of Ciceronian rhetoric, and criticized the emphasis on style instead of content in speeches, directing his complaints especially against the fashionable classicizing humanist rhetoric, which was in comprehensible to the listeners. In the Regola, however, he admitted that the republic needed good orators and instructed the Alberti noblewoman to train her sons for this purpose -- thus allowing pragmatism to overrule moral considerations. (70) For the most part, though, he warned against the dangers of rhetoric instead of praising its merits. Dominici's attack might also have been a matter of professional pride, since the preacher was in competition with the humanist orators. (71)

Occasionally, Dominici's criticism was more explicit and directed against specific bodies. In one of the sermons, he listed the positions of secular power: "imperadore, re, signore, podesta, capitano, essecutore ... these are the posts that govern the land;" he mentioned only the traditional bodies of government, ignoring the new central institutions, which he did not consider a part of the legal government. (72) In another sermon, Dominici directly attacked the institution of the Dieci di Balia, a special executive body established in 1393 in response to the Alberti conspiracy, and accused its members of wanting to become rich at the expense of the other citizens. "If I became one of the Ten, I would be rich forever," he chided them, concluding: "The thief wants to become a member of the Ten." (73) Dominici was voicing a common suspicion among the Florentines against the new central institutions and their wish to return to the more traditional bodies. (74)

Dominici painted a gloomy picture of the state of justice in Florence: "Justice is today banished... from the whole world; and there is no justice but deception, power, money, friendship, or parents." As for the judges, they and they are like the modern civic officials who do not know any law but that of their head." The preacher was also suspicious of lawyers who sold justice for money. (75) He criticized the greed of judges and their willingness to accept bribes. He regarded the sin of gluttony as characteristic of judges; they accepted invitations from citizens to dine, and passed sentences accordingly. In other cases, they accepted goods. (76) Dominici's suggestion to counter the corrupt nature of contemporary judges was to train a new and honest generation. He underlined the importance of educating boys "to grow up just, with straight scales in their hands." Children should practice judging among relatives and servants; if they were influenced by "love, words, gifts, or fear" and corrupted their verdicts accordingly, then they must be punished. Children should also be given a proper education that included grammar, history, and a bit of law, so "they would not be forgetful and blind to the cases brought before them." (77)

In short, he stressed that a just legal system was vital to the maintenance of the communal welfare. He demonstrated social awareness and concern for the interests of the common people, both in demanding their equal rights in the courts, and in warning against their exploitation by the city's executives. This might have been an attempt to win over his audiences which included a considerable number of the uneducated poor. But speaking out on their behalf, he not only fulfilled the traditional obligation of the church to take care of the weak but also expressed implicit opposition to the existing patrician government.

Internal tensions were a major problem in Florentine politics, varying in intensity but always heightened in times of crisis. Guelf and Ghibelline parties emerged in the thirteenth century. The Florentine poor were a constant threat to public order, and in 1378 social tensions exploded in the Ciompi revolution. The Ciompi regime lasted only a short time and was followed by an unstable government. The old Guelf families returned to power in 1382, and in 1393 the Albizzi family established itself as the most powerful among them. The government became the property of a restricted elite and exiled its political rivals, among them the Alberti family. (78) As a result of the political shifts, there was a civic effort to secure order. In 1378 the Florentine state established the Otto di guardia, a strong magistracy that functioned as a mediative power calling for compromise. Civic violence was controlled by a centralized justice system, and the judicial bodies of the state replaced the previously private initiative s of reconciliation. (79)

Dominici contributed to the efforts to secure civic peace in Florence, following in the footsteps of earlier preachers. Peacemaking was traditionally a mendicant role in the Italian cities; in 1280, the Dominican Cardinal Latino Malabranca had tried to reconcile the Guelfs and the Ghibellines in Florence, and from 1302 to 1307, Giordano da Pisa had preached against parties in the city. (80) Dominici numbered factionalism among the vices of the Florentines: "working on feast days, making false contracts, being in divisions, being in factions, being in hatred of a neighbor." In another sermon he listed "fornication, adultery, worldliness ... conflicts, anger, battles, disagreements, factions, bad company, envy," and underlined that the first sin of a Florentine was that of being a partisan. (81) Yet Dominici avoided naming the rival families and was careful not to confront specific individuals publicly. Neither in 1400 nor in 1406 did he mention either the Alberti or the Albizzi in his sermons. The preacher, i n fact, wrote the Regola del governo di cura familiare for Bartolomea degli Alberti, whose husband was exiled in 1401 along with many other political figures; but he was careful not to refer to these political circumstances in his treatise. He preferred to discuss factionalism in the abstract. He stressed in the Regola that children must be educated from an early age to beware of "parties and divisions, because in dividing into factions you do not rule the republic, but break, divide and destroy [it]," and that the mother must punish her boy if he supports a specific party. Peace was not only useful for the common good, he declared, but also beneficial to the individual, both in the physical sense, to avoid banishment (a rather unsubtle hint to the wife of an exile), and in the spiritual sense, since no troublemaker or partisan would reach heaven, a divine unity that would receive no one who was not unified or a lover of unity. (82)

The examples Dominici chose to condemn political sects were Guelfs and Ghibellines -- convenient terms to signal parties in conflict without naming specific Florentine groups. (83) He attacked both with equal rage. Dominici said that a ruler must be "neither Piero nor Giovanni, neither Guelfo nor Ghibellino," and that a boy must grow up to become, "not a Guelf or a Ghibelline but a giusto fiorentino." (84) He commended the value of Christian charity and viewed peace on earth as a sign of God's kingdom. He explained that grace was attained through reverence, peace, and love of neighbor. (85) He stressed that "when you see your enemy in trouble, help him; it is not enough to say 'I forgive him,' ... but with the same hands that wanted and want vengeance bring him his needs." (86)

The central obstacle to promoting peace was the widespread practice of revenge (vendetta) (87) Though sensitive to the difficulty of forgiving ones enemies, Dominici condemned the vendetta and tried to persuade Florentine citizens not to engage in it. Mindful of the differences between the ideals of Christian forgiveness and the codes of honor that characterized his society, he tried to persuade his listeners to pardon their enemies for spiritual and practical reasons. A person must forgive in order to imitate Christ and practice the noble virtue of Christian love; at the same time he must contribute to the common good out of patriotic sentiments. Moreover, since "you do not want a vendetta against you, you must not do it to others." (88) Dominici, however, did understand the difficulties of forgiveness. In a sermon based on the theme "Love your enemies," Dominici advised that one should forego one s own advantage explaining that there are four occasions when a person who has been harmed does not want to forg ive: first, the harm is fresh and recent; second, it is done in public and causes humiliation; third, it is inflicted by an person inferior in strength and family connections; and fourth, it is done by a person who owes one much or has been much assisted [servito] by you. Here, the preacher was sensitive to the psychological limitations of his listeners. (89)

Finally, a word must be said about the manner in which Dominici called for civic peace. He commanded his audience in his usual aggressive manner; one cannot fail to notice the contrast between his militant tone and his message of love. He stressed that "vendetta was never the messenger of God but of the devil" and accused the Florentines of being "assassins." (90) On the whole, Dominici condemned violence, but he also revealed an understanding of his society's codes of honor. When discussing civic conflicts, he was careful not to name individuals or parties but instead used stock phrases. Even the militant Dominici was cautious not to attract fire.


Dominici continued the mendicant tradition of preaching on politics in the Italian cities. In Florence he played a double role. On the one hand, he served the elite government and was a part of the establishment meant to maintain stability. On the other, he also served the lower classes, representing and defending the simple people by criticizing and confronting the Florentine authorities. Political issues were central to Dominici's preaching, and many sermons deal with either abstract political ideas or concrete institutions. Like previous Dominicans, he concentrated on the civic institutions and values of good government and called for a reform of the political system. His political views were influenced by humanist civic ideals such as the merits of the Roman republic.

In preaching from 1400 to 1406, Dominici did not succeed in effecting a major change in the Florentine political system or policy. In fact, his departure from the city in 1406 may attest to his personal failure. Yet the significance of his political views lies in representing the opposition to the government. Dominici, in fact, was using the sermon as a tool for political propaganda. It was a sophisticated method for dealing with the atmosphere of restricted political debate created by the centralized government, and an alternative channel of criticism outside the discussions in the communal sessions.

Dominici's interest in political affairs and his political criticism might be explained both by personal and by more general reasons connected with the Dominican civic tradition and the impact of civic humanist ideals. He was attracted to politics and had a history of political activity in Venice, which ended with his expulsion. In Florence, Dominici continued the Dominican interest in state affairs with a renewed zeal typical of his aggressive and fearless nature. Here, too, he served both as an ambassador for the commune, whether to secular princes such as Carlo Malatesta of Rimini, or on diplomatic missions to the curia. Yet the central motivation for Dominici's political preaching was his identification with Florence. Dominici was a native Florentine, educated and brought up in the city. He preached in Florence for seven years, during which he was an active member of sociery. When he referred to Florence, he was talking of his own patria, expressing his pain about its vices or his pride in its achievemen ts. Even if not a citizen de jure, because of his status as a clergyman, he was one at heart. In the Italian cities a person's identity was dictated by his place of birth, and Dominici, though a friar, was no exception.

(*.) I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Riccardo Fubini and Benjamin Z. Kedar for their guidance and encouragement. I am greatly obliged to David Peterson and Daniel Bornstein for their thoughtful comments and generous help in revising this article. I would also like to thank Peter Howard and James Hankins for their insights.

(1.) Quoted in Rusconi, 1981, 174: "So che el venerabile predicatore padre nostro fra Giovanni Dominici predica alla chiesa magiore costa questa quaresima. Pero vi prego, e anco istringo per lo arnor che in Cristo ci avete, voi udiate sue prediche... sanerannovi della anima e del corpo, si perfetta vivanda sono Ic sue sante prediche. Credo abbia gia incominiciaro a predicare le feste. Ora avete il modo di diventar tutto buono: nonne uditti mai niuno si perfettamente insegnarlo a gni condision di gente.

(2.) For further evidence of the impression created by Dominici, see Mazzei as translated in Lesnick, 1990, 215: "I tell you that I have never heard such a sermon nor was one ever preached before. It is certain that the friends of God are beginning to rise to extinguish the life of lazy clergymen and laymen. He will preach here at Lent and he is coming from Venice where everyone was behind him. You'll think that you are hearing a direct disciple of St. Francis, who makes him reborn. And we all either wept or stood stupefied by the clear truth he showed us." Another description is given by Dominici's devoted disciple Antoninus in his Summa historialis as translated in Howard, 233: "He [Dominici] . . . showed great gravity -- dignity, as it were -- in subject matter and style of evangelizing. His voice rang dear like a trumpet call, never raised excessively nor lowered overly much, but extraordinarily impressive, not only teaching clearly and delighting, but also softening the most obdurate of hearts."

(3.) See Richard Trexler on rituals and saints, and Ronald Weissman and John Henderson on confraternities. Roberto Bizzocchi has written on the role of the Church in Florentine politics, and David Peterson, 1989, on the organization and institutions of the Florentine Church. For a detailed survey of the research on the Italian Church, see Peterson, 1996.

(4.) See Weinstein; Becker; Lesnick, 1989; Peterson, 1985; Howard.

(5.) The best biography is still Orlandi which uses, but amends, the earlier monograph of Alfred Rosler (1893). The character and activities of Dominici are discussed in works by various Dominicans, among them D'Agresti.

(6.) For Dominici's biography, see Bornstein, 1993a, 1993b; Cracco, 1963, 1990; Denley.

(7.) Bornstein, 1993b, 145.

(8.) On the apocalyptic message in the preaching of Dominici in Venice and Florence, see Galletti, 263-68; Rusconi, 1979, 101-11. Bornstein, 1993b, 152, n. 29, demonstrates that "the apocalyptic tone was not present before Giovanni's expulsion [from Venice]" and that "it is likely that its apocalyptic tenor is due in part to his experience of arrest and exile." From working on the Florentine collection, my conclusion is that the apocalyptic message is central to only a few early sermons -- such as Ricc. 1301, Predica 33 (97r-10lv), dated 1399 -- and it disappears in the later ones. In sum, it seems, as Bornstein argues, that the apocalyptic message is confined to the years 1399-1400, a period of personal crisis in Dominici's life.

(9.) Bornstein, 1993b, 146-48.

(10.) For a detailed account of this incident see Bornstein, 1993b.

(11.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 33. On the Bianchi, see 98v. "Ora questo anno 1399 in Italia et vedure le legioni de bianchi in Toschania, in Pulglia et per molti altri paesi." On the pope, see 99r: "Che tu vedi il papa diventa chome soldato, fare guerre e battalglie, dato tucro a denari divisa la chiesa tucta per laici chardinali veschovi avari simoniaci."

(12.) Bruni, 322-23.

(13.) These Venetian sermons are in a manuscript preserved in the Vatican Library (Barberiniano lat. 425). For details on this manuscript and its content, see D'Agresti, 152-57.

(14.) dominici, 1969.

(15.) For details on manuscript Ricc. 1301, see Galletti.

(16.) For information on other manuscripts containing Dominici's sermons, see Orlandi.

(17.) On the relationship between oral and written cultures as reflected in sermons, see Howard, 79-190.

(18.) On the sermo modern us, see D'Avray.

(19.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 13, lines 258-72, as translated in Lesnick 1990, 219-20: "Ricor-davati il terzo nome, et questo che se chiamato fiorentino. Et se non vuogli essere ypocrito, guarda l'origine tua, la timologia la ensegna. Se tu guardi l'origine tua, tu vedrai che se' isceso d'alto in basso. O quanto, pensando questo, tu humelieresti! Disceso di romani tanto nobili tanto fioriti in virtu! Se tu sse' adunque fiorentino, fa che tu fiorischa et none ogni cosa sia marcio. Ponti mente ove sono i fiori. Sappi che una della cagioni perch'e ebbe nome fiorenze fu perche questo terreno era copiosissimo di fiori et di gigli. Ove sono le tue operazioni fiorite? Ogni cosa marcio. Chi mi vuole uccidere per dire il vero, sia il benvenuto! Et mi stato detto che troppo discendo a vituperare i cittadini per dire pure di questi vizi, er che io potrei Predicare delle virtu chome de vitii. Io per me di questo mi schuso, che volere predichare dellevirtu de fiorentini, io prima non saprei dove m'inchominciare; de' viti mi pare sapere, tanti mi putono. E pero ti dicho: se' ypocrito, non se' fiorentino, non fiorisci. Se fossi fiorentino, sai bene se tenuto pugnare pella patria et none rubare il comune, non usuraio, non soddomito. Quanto ci arebe a dire! Et quando tu penserai bene, se tu se' fiorentino, l'onore fai alla tua patria, t'uscira la vana gloria."

(20.) On the political role of preachers in the Italian city, see Paton, 1992, on preachers in Siena, and Thompson on revival preachers active in thirteenth-century Italy. But as Thompson has pointed out, 13-14, "while we do have a history of the medieval sermon, the history of preachers and their significance in diverse contexts has yet to be written."

(21.) On the position of preachers in Italian cities, see Howard, 107-27.

(22.) On the conflict between Florence and the papacy, see Holmes, 19-40; on The War of the Eight Saints and its impact on the Florentine collective memory, see Peterson, forthcoming b.

(23.) On the rise of the territorial state, see Becker, 2: 201-51.

(24.) On the impact of the wars with Milan and Naples on Florentine culture see Baron's controversial thesis, reviewed in Hankins, 1995 and 2000, and Witt, 1996. Baron argued that the civic ideals of independent self-government, political participation, and free speech were born in Florence in the early fifteenth century. Some of Dominici's ideas -- such as the preacher's emphasis on the citizens' commitment to their patria -- are reminiscent of Baron's definition of civic ideals. Yet on the whole Dominici's allusions are too general and generic to reflect the civic ethos charted by Baron.

(25.) See Lesnick, 1990, 216, quoting from Diario fiorentino di Bartolomeo di Michele, 241-

(26.) On such patriotic sentiments aroused in Florence, see Brucker, 1971, 81-83.

(27.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 13, line 165: "Se se' huomo, se se' christiano, se se' fiorentino;" lines 275-76: "Se fossi fiorentino. Sai bene se' tenuto pugnare pella patria." Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations from this source are my translation.

(28.) Ibid., Predica 19, lines 107-10: "I fiorentini, de' quali la fama del senno e delle virtu risonava il mare e lla terra, di tanta gloria."

(29.) Ibid., Predica 22, lines 233-35: "Io non desidero guadagnare mondo o chose super-flue, ma per nutrichare Ia famiglia, per sopportare le spese ochorrono e del chomune et dell'altre cose."

(30.) Ibid., Predica 23, lines 145-51: "Et tu fiorentino, non pare che abbi altro pensare che di cerchare guerra et piutosto desideri poverta con guerra che richezza con pacie.... Et se tu dicessi: io vorrei pacie, ma non con mio danno. ... Dico: Pigliandola a torto!"

(31.) On the church's condition during the Great Schism, see Holmes, 19-24. On the taxation and confiscation of ecclesiastical goods in Florence, see Peterson, 1989, 2000, and forthcoming b. On the internal organization of the Florentine church and the 1415-1420 constitutions, see Peterson, 1989, 1991, and forthcoming a.

(32.) On antidericalism and the hostility toward the Florentine church, see Brucker, 1969, 180-81; on the Florentines' ambivalent attitude, see Peterson, forthcoming b. On humanists' views of the church, see Hankins, 1996, 126-28.

(33.) Rice. 1301, Predica 23, l. 59-76: "Et ponti l'exempro: gli e uno che va a date prete o cherico in tuo nome et noll'avendo tu saputo in prima tu, cholui di fatto ischomunichato, che battuto il prete o il cherico. Ma se poi tu saputolo et se' nne contento, se' scomunichato chome lui .... Un altro caso: tu ai comandato a uno, tuo sudito, diciamo che ssia uficiale o qualunque altra persona che vada a battere o pigliare uno chericho, diciamo al modo da Firenze per lle prestanze o per qualcosa sia. Innanzi che cholui vada, gli contradicie che non voglia che vi vada e ssi pentuto, dira il cattivo messo: 'Una volta me 'l dicesti.' Et va e mette in essecuzione la prima volonta di colui. Colui non ratificha che non voglia che l'abi fatto, rimano schumichato alla chiesa militante, ma none alla trionfante." Here, Dominici was referring to the differences between the institutional church and the spiritual one.

(34.) Ibid., Predica 30, line 304: "Et sopratutto guardare che niuno tuo consiglio venga contra all'onore di Dio e alla liberta della chiesa."

(35.) Ibid., Predica 19, lines 100-06: "Hai adunque due perdonanze: l'una temporale et l'altra eternale. Di questa pena temporale, ch'e puntione del tempo, non troverai che Dio abi mai conciesso ne a Papa, ne a chardinale, ne a veschovo, ne a altro prelato dare o conciedere tale penitenza. Vello conciesso per lla leggie di giustitia al podesta, capitano o chi tiene luogo di cio insino al manigoldo che sforzato."

(36.) Ibid., Predicz 14, fol. 51v: "Chosi come tu laico non vuogli che il religioso ti togliesse l'autorita temporale delle cose le quali tu fai contra le legi temporali, chome giuocho, portare armi et altre chose, tu non vorresti che a rettori spirituali stessi, ne none sta farti pagare queste pene, ne fare observare le tue leggi temporali, chosi ti dico che magiormente none ista ad te secolare impacciarti nelle leggi spirituali et regolari."

(37.) On the political developments in Florence, see Brucker, 1977; Najemi; Fubini, 1994, 41-61. On the conflict as reflected in the innovative legislation attempt of 1409, see Fubini, 1994, 29-32. The attempt to create a civic legislation disregarding the authority of both pope and emperor failed because of public opposition.

(38.) On the fiscal system, see Molho; Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber. On the juridical system, see Stern; Zorzi.

(39.) On Remigio de' Girolami, see Davis, 1984; Panella. On Giordano da Pisa, see Delcorno.

(40.) On the image of the state as a body in sermons, see Paton, 1990, 116.

(41.) Dominici, 1927, 138: "E perche i tuoi figliuoli, e massimamente maschi, son membri della repubblica, convengonsi allevare ad utilita di quella, la quale come sai ha bisogno di moire cose; come sono retrori, difenditori e operatori."

(42.) On the idea of the bene comune in sermons, see Paton, 1990, 115-16; Lesnick, 1990, 210-14.

(43.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 30, lines 287-88: "Et poni bene mente chome c chonsigliato il comune di Firenze: Ognuno al bene proprio, alla borsa, pochi alla repughlicha et per questo vengono le guerre, le discordie, le disolazioni;" lines 305-06: "E quando entri net consiglio, nota che tu debi mutare nome et non essere piu ne Piero, ne Martino, ma comune di Firenze;" lines 330-33: "Chi vuole bene consigliare, non debe essere parziale: unito, uno. Sa' ch'e chomune? Non Piero, non Giovanni, non ghuelfo, non ghibellino."

(44.) Ibid., Predica 30, lines 451-57: "Quanti conchorrono per empiersi la borsa loro el chomune vada in fondo. Pero chi volesse bene chonsigliare in tutto, debe dimentichare se stessi et tutto porre l'effeto al bene chomune. Et mentre che chosi si consigliava, ben sai quanta bene andavano i fatti della republicha."

(45.) Ibid., Predica 30, line 391: "Invidia .... Questo vizio e de' pigiori si possa avere: guasto Roma, anzi il mondo."

(46.) On his civic humanism and the parallel between republican Rome and Florence, see Bruni, 15-21.

(47.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 30, lines 435-45: "E pero i Romani savi non correvano, anzi andavano a consigli colle tavolette et cogli stili, ischrivevano le proposte et tornavano a chasa: avevano termine un di, due o tre, secondo il pondo delta chosa, et tornavano et consigliavano bene et pensati et diliberati."

(48.) On Dominici's opposition to the studia humanitatis as it appear in his sermons, see Denley.

(49.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 4, lines 88-95: "Queste scripture poetiche o rectorica che t'insengnano bello parlare, avere vana gloria, superbia, vanita, infidelita sono chagione di pocha fede. Sai che tti insengnano a matti che lle vanno cerchando. Chi fu Giove? Chi fu Saturno, Marte? ... Favole et ciance da torti."

(50.) On Ptolemy of Lucca, see Davis, 1974; Blythe.

(51.) On Salutati, see Witt, 1969, 1983. On Bruni, see Hankins, 1995.

(52.) Rice. 1301, Predica 6, lines 52-67: "Isaya piange le destruzione di Gerusalem Ys. Primo capitolo et che dicie: 'Maravigliti tu Giudea che Gerusalem sia distrutta, cite Idio ti mandi adosso le guerre, le pestilenze?' O rigurda come sono fatti i principi tuoi, coloro che sono posti al governo degli altri ... E pero dicie Idio a questi cotali stati, regimenti, principi: non ti marvigliare se io ti fo fare guerra adosso, s'io ti fo perseguitare, s'io ti fo istare in tremore."

(53.) "On the republican tradition, see Hankins, 1996, 128-30; Brucker, 1969, 294-95.

(54.) On the views of other preachers on the ideal political leaders, see Paton, 1990, 117-18, on Siena; Lesnick, 1990, 210-14, on Florence.

(55.) "Rice. 1301, Predica 30, lines 161-62: "E pero chi a regiere et governare gli altri et a guardare debe essere spechio di virtu et di scienza;" lines 431-32: "La prima e essere ignorante in se medesimo, di non sapere, non avere iscienza praticha."

(56.) Ibid., Predica 30, lines 356-62: "Convengonsi iscegliere i savi chi vuole buono consiglio. Et chi non si sentisse sciente et praticho -- non chome i fanciulli si mettono a Firenze nel consiglia -- non vi doverebbe volere essere chiamato et pure almeno nollo andare cerchando. Voglono essere a' consigli huomini antichi, maturi, pratichi, chomuni: questi consiglerebono bene."

(57.) On the problem of including children's names, see Herlihy, 210-16.

(58.) Rice. 1301, Predica 22, lines 151-54: "Sa' tu quello che interviene di cholui che grande in signoria et non senno. Stimalo una berruccia in sul tetto che, quanto piu e posta in alti, tanto piu da oguno veduto gli atti suoi, i quali sono tutti bestiali, che stando in terra, pur' sarebono meno veduti, meno ischeniti .... E dove in prima fussi in signoria, gli atti suoi bestiali non erano veduti, ne compresi, se none dalla famiglia, da dimestichi suoi. Poi che posto in alteza, non tanto da questi e veduto, ma da tutta Ia citra e non tanto i cittadini, ma i forestieri ti vegono e chognoscono;" lines 172-75: "Non sai ru che chome l'uomo innalza, chominicia ad assagiare le grandeze, gli stad del mondo."

(59.) Ibid., Predica 23, lines 169-70: "Se tu sse'... ambizioso di cierchare stato per tirannegiare;" Predica 3, lines 79-80: "Tutte le miserie del mondo et cominciami alle ambizioni, alle superbie del mondo."

(60.) On Bruni's perceptions of rhetoric and the political profession, see Bruni, 101-04. On Bruni's Ciceronian political rhetoric, see Seigel, 1966.

(61.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 6, line 75: "Quando tu maestro vedrai il tuo fattore, il tuo discepolo, tu principe il tuo sudito et debilo corregere et ghastigare."

(62.) Ibid., Predica 23, lines 155-56: "Et se tu ti truovi possente, non violentare il men possente, nogli torte il suo;" Predica 6, lines 58-60: "O quanti n'a da piagnere Firenze, che dovendo ne' regimento posti guardare gli altri men possenci, i poveretti da ladri, et eglino s'acompagnano co' ladri a rubare."

(63.) Ibid., Predica 30, lines 411-14: "Va su, ode la proposta di che ara a consigliare, conoscie ch'e male, danno di comune, che chi lla mette il fa in beneficio di se proprio o dell'amicho suo ... rende la fava biancha .... rende lla nera."

(64.) I bid., Predica 30, lines 333-39: "E si fa difficulta da concilio e consiglio. Concilio quando tu mandi per quelle persone che ru chredi che dichino et consiglino quello che tu vuci diterminare .... Questo non consiglio. Consiglio e quello quando realmente suona la campana, chiama tutti quelli che sono diputati a consigliare, che sono liberi di consigliare."

(65.) Ibid., Predica 30, lines 444-50: "Et per questo pechato o con questo pare sia condotto ogi la citta di Firenze determinare ogni suo consiglio.... Et quando non vagliono le lusinghe, le fraddulenze, le minacie, fagli stentare o per fredo o per fama o per disagi... torna ogi, torna domane."

(66.) Ibid., Predica 30, lines 424-26: "Va in ringhiera il falso ypocrito, chon una dolceza di zelo del buono stato della citta, et mosteratti l'ucciole per lanterne, et ingannano i semplici."

(67.) Ibid., Predica 22, lines 247-50: "Questo e oggi ... ogniuno rettoricho! Ogniuno impachatore! Adoratore colla lingua, con ipocrisia per ingannare il compagno et farsi grane, et bugie et giuri ec spergiuri sanza niuno timorew di Dio! Queste lingue adorano il demonio!"

(68.) Ibid., Predica 30, lines 176-80: "Quanri ci a di questi maladetti ypocriti, bello pruova il comune quando sotto colore di bene si consiglia male. Aratti data Iddio la loquenza sapere bene dire in ringhiera, adornare il parlare. Er chola dove esso te l'a data perche tu guadagni chon essa in a operarla in bene et tu la operi in inganare il popolo, il quale e ignorante, rende il consentimento."

(69.) Dominici, 1927, 65: "Lingua sono predicatori e consiglieri, consolatori e dirizzatori nella vita dello spirito;" 118: "La lingua... non per lodare uomo creato, ma per ringraziare e magnificare e predicare Dio glorioso e infinito."

(70.) For Dominici's recommendation to the mother to educate her sons to become orators see 1927, 141: "Allevarsi si debbono innamorati di giustizia, zelanti della repubblica, servi di Dio, continui oratori."

(71.) On the new political rhetoric, see Hankins, 1996, 118-42.

(72.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 14, 51v: "Imperadore, re, signore, podesta, capitano, essecutore, er cosi gli ufici che ssi danno al governo della terra.

(73.) Ibid., Predica 30, lines 349-50: "A' Firenze si consiglia di fare impresa: abbisi a ffare dieci di balia... Se saro de' dieci, sono richo per sempre.... Et cercha il ladro d'essere de' dieci."

(74.) On the opposition to these institutions, see Brucker, 1969, 134; Fubini, 22, 29.

(75.) Dominici, 1927, 138-40: "La giustizia, Ia quale oggi e sbandita... dell'universo mondo; e non e altro giustizia che inganni, forza, danari e amicizia, o parentado.... I moderni cittadini rettori, i quali non sanno altra legge che la testa loro, e quello loro par giusto... difenditori col verbo sono advocati, i quali mi sono sospetti, perocche pecunia obediunt omnia."

(76.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 3, lines 81-84: "Ecce niuno che cierchi ufici che 'l primo ogietro non abi chi mi pub essere buono el tale e ll'altre ttale, or' va a convitarlo alle cene, a' desinari, a presenti, alle ghiottornie. Ecci niuno che voglia corronpere chi a vendere giudicio che di primo tratto non corra a presenti di ghiottotnie."

(77.) Dominici, 1927, 138: "Per lo primo si vogliono crescere giusti, colla diritta bilancia in mano... quando sono minori di fargli giudicare infra padre e madre, frategli e sirocchie, servi e liberi, e alcuna volta per lusinghe doni o minacci vedere d'inchinargli a falsa sentenza; e se il facessono, punirgli che s'hanno lasciaro volgere per amore, parole, doni o paura, imparerebbono tosto a non corrompere la giustizia. . . vedendogli abili a tale stato, si vuole imparino gramatica, istorie e un poco di legge, accio non sieno smemorati e ciechi, quando i casi saranno posti loro innanzi."

(78.) On the social structure and factions in Florence, see Brucker, 1962, 1977; Najemi; Fubini, 1994, 41-61.

(79.) On the juridical system, see Stern, 1-19; Zorzi, 1-56.

(80.) On the mendicant tradition of peacemaking, see Polecritti, 1988, 88-120.

(81.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 22, lines 252-53: "Lavorare il di delle feste chomandate, fare chattivi contratti, stare in divisione, in setta, in odio col proximo;" Predica 41, lines 174-79: "fornicazione, adulterio, immondizia ... contenzioni, ire, battaglie, dissensioni, sette, compagnie cattive, invidie;" Predica 30, lines 315-16: "Il primo difetto il quale non pul lasciare a chi lla bene consigliare et che fu in chosroro e d'essere parziale."

(82.) Dominici, 1927, 138: "Separati da ogni parte, sette e divisione; perche setteggiante non regge la repubblica ma straccia, divide e guasta; pero a buon ora si vuol guardare da questi particulari affestti, e molto bene gastigarlo se mai paresse inchinato piu a quesra parte che a quella. ... E non solo questo dico per bene comune, ma per lo suo corporale e spirituale. Corporale, che non sono cacciati se non i partigiani dalla contraria parte, e quando tocca all'uno e quando all'altro. Spirituale, perche niuno partigiano va in paradiso; il quale, essendo unita divina, non riceve altro che uniti e amatori d'unita."

(83.) On the demise of these two political parties, see Brucker, 1969, 128-71.

(84.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 30, line 332: "Non Piero, non Giovanni, non ghuelfo, non ghibellino;" Dominici, 1427, 138: "Tanco che usi a dite non essere guelfo ne ghibellino, ma giusto fiorentino."

(85.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 23, lines 125-26: "Accio che possi venire al grado della grazia? Tre cose: reverenza, pack et carita cal prossima.

(86.) Ibid., Predica 19, lines 59-62: "Et pero quando vedi che 'I tuo inimicho a bisogno soviello. Er non solo ti basti dire: 'Io gli perdono, io nollo affenderci,' Ma chain quelle mani che anno desiderata a desiderano vendetta, porgagli le sue necessita!"

(87.) On contemporary views supporting vendetta, see Origo, 150-51; Brucker, 1971, 9397, 106-20.

(88.) Ricc. 1301, Predica 19, lines 38-39: "Nan voresti fosse fatto vendetta sopra a tte, nolla fare sopra altrui."

(89.) Ibid., Predica 11, fols. 43r-43v: "Qua' sono le ragioni per lie quali l'uomo che ssi era ingiuriato non vuole perdonare et troverema che sono quatro. La prime perche Ia ingiuria malte volte sia frescha... Ia seconda casa e quanda Ia ingiuria fia malto paloso chome essere dato a uno nel chospetto di molte genti, a veramente gli sia data in sul viso... Ia terza chosa perche duro a perdonare e quando tu sarai ingiuriato da minore di te di forza a di parentadola, quarta chosa quando cholui che ttara molto offeso per alchuna chagione ti fare malto obligato o sara da tte molto stato servito... in queste quatro chagioni pare che mi sia duro il perdonare."

(90.) Ibid., Predica 11, fols. 43v: "Vendetta non e fu mai uficio di Dio, ma del dimonia;" Predica 19, lines 109-10: "Sai in che sta ora la gloria de fiorentini? Essere diventati peggio che manigoldi e volontariamente e anche peggio, essere assassini.


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