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Alle origini della Toscana Moderna: Firenze e gli statuti delle comunita soggette tra XIV e XVI secolo.

Lorenzo Tanzini. Alle origini della Toscana Moderna: Firenze e gli statuti delle comunita soggette tra XIV e XVI secolo.

Biblioteca storica Toscana 54. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2007. 224 pp. index. bibl. [euro] 20. ISBN: 978-88-222-5690-4.

Lorenzo Tanzini offers a mature and reflective synthesis of the evolution and transformation of the statutes of Florence's subject communities from the late Middle Ages to the Medici Grand Duchy. His focus on the region as a unit of study affords a consideration of both the common threads of form and legal content as well as the variety of privileges contained within the codes that represent the survival of local autonomous communal law and practices. He notes evidence of the Florentine government's recorded approvals of codes and revisions negotiated by towns large and small pertaining to rights and privileges that demonstrate an interest by the subject populations in participating in the shared "honor" of Florentine citizenship and, in turn, Florence's recognition of local prerogatives and legal traditions. Tanzini acknowledges and takes as his point of departure the groundbreaking scholarship of Giorgio Chittolini and Elena Fasano Guarini, and he draws upon numerous local statutory codes. The self-proclaimed purpose of the study methodologically moves beyond local history toward a synthesis of the statutory history of the territory of the Florentine state. From the codes Tanzini teases out common and unifying characteristics that emerge from the records of the approvals of all statutory codes by the Florentine government, which also reserved the right to emend all such laws. The approval process, while not regularizing the laws into a uniform code, did provide a degree of territorial commonality influenced from the center. On the part of the subject areas, ongoing strategies of accommodation and negotiation from a conservative stance insisted upon the preservation of traditional liberties. The political counterpoint that underlies this process is of central interest to Tanzini.

The essential primary sources for this study are conserved in the Archivio di Stato di Firenze among the Statuti delle comunita autonome e soggette and the Riformagioni. Tanzini organizes his study chronologically, dividing his book into four periods: from the 1330s to the 1380s, which marked the birth of the Florentine state and the introduction of a state mechanism for the approval of the laws of subject towns; from 1385 to 1430, during the oligarchic stage of Florentine state development, which witnessed a systematization of the form of approval of the codes diffused across the territory indicating a political and documentary strategy of influence on the part of Florence; from 1430 to the end of the century, which marked a mature phase when dialogues between the subject communities and Florence conserved in Florentine registers record reforms and the approval of new laws; and from 1500 to ca. 1550, a crisis period in which the production of local statutes begins to stray from late medieval forms, particularly in the 1540s and after, stimulated by reforms set in motion by Cosimo I de' Medici that transferred responsibility for approval of laws in subject areas to the new Vigilanza Segreta of the prince's council.

From the chapters that form the narrative of Tanzini's book there is much to learn about the dynamics of legal negotiation over almost two centuries and about the evolution of the Tuscan state system generally. The evidence therein also offers glimpses of specific commercial concerns, penal law, questions of common military defense, the role of influential citizens in shaping law, and changes in sumptuary legislation, to cite only a few among the numerous practical issues to ca. 1550. The epilogue, which briefly extends Tanzini's chronology into the seventeenth century, is particularly valuable for assessing the implications of both continuity and change in dealing with laws codes across Tuscany that persisted into the Ancien Regime. Tanzini's concluding chapter is no mere afterthought. Here he reviews, in reflective and carefully qualified and nuanced terms, his major arguments and the dynamics of the evolution and transformation of the statutes of the Florentine territory between center and periphery from the late communal era to the emergence of the early modern territorial state. The paradigm implicit in this final chapter may well serve as a point of departure for future scholars of other Northern Italian cities and their subject territories across the same arc of time.


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Author:Fortunato, Luci M.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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