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The Florentine Magnates: Lineage and Faction in a Medieval Commune.

Carol Lansing, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991). xv + 265 pp. ISBN 0-691-03154-100. 2.5[pounds]. Fourteenth-century Florence has, over the last thirty years, attracted the attention of a succession of distinguished English-speaking scholars, including Marvin Becker, Gene Brucker, David Herlihy, John Najemy and Richard Trexler. Thirteenth-century Florence has proved less alluring; Carol Lansing's book, therefore, is timely and welcome. Lansing wisely begins by conceding that Duecento Florence was a less glamorous place than its Trecento and Medici successors: |despite its Roman origins', she argues, |it was in many ways a raw, new town, the product of a flood of immigration in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries' (p. xi). Few public buildings existed until mid-century; the city skyline was dominated by some 150 high stone towers, built by the nobility. The first part of Lansing's book concerns itself with the organization of magnate lineages in Florence; the second considers women's place in (and exclusion from) such arrangements. The third part considers what might be summarized as the political, military and literary styles of the magnate class. The final part forms a valuable preface to the study of Dante; chapter xi, |The debate over true nobility', will prove instructive for students of Dante, Boccaccio, and Chaucer.
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Author:Wallace, David
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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