Church And Commune in Thirteenth Century Pistoia: Grain and the Struggle for Political Legitimacy in Medieval Tuscany.
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
M. E. Bratchel’s Medieval Lucca and the Evolution of the Renaissance State (2008) and David Herlihy’s Medieval and Renaissance Pistoia: The Social History of an Italian Town, 1200–1430 (1967) may be separated by forty-one years, but they both represent outstanding examples of historical research on medieval Italy. They are both detailed and comprehensive studies of a single city, based on extensive archival research. Whereas the former focuses on political and administrative history and the latter concerns itself primarily with social and economic developments, both studies draw useful comparisons with other city-states and highlight the distinctive qualities of the commune that constitutes their subject. This essay will draw on that same tradition and examine a single city-state. It will return to the subject of Herlihy’s classic study, Pistoia, and it will draw some comparisons and contrasts with other communes. However, it will also explore a theme that was common to the history of the ruling regimes of most city-states in northern Italy in the closing decades of the thirteenth century: the fragility of political power, made worse by periodic grain shortages. As the population of Tuscan cities and their surrounding rural districts (contadi) continued to increase markedly as the century drew to a close, the ability of the major magistracies of those communes to secure dependable and adequate supplies of grain became ever more necessary. A deficiency in the food supply, as we can see occurred at Pistoia in 1282, can contribute to the triggering of a political crisis.
Church And Commune in Thirteenth Century Pistoia: Grain and the Struggle for Political Legitimacy in Medieval Tuscany,1017-3455,The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.