Florentine Essays

Selected Writings of Marvin B. Becker
Marvin B. Becker
Collected by James Banker and Carol Lansing
A collection of essays on Florentine history by a seasoned and innovative Renaissance scholar


As a tribute to Marvin Becker, James Banker and Carol Lansing have collected a number of his papers on Florentine and Renaissance history. While many of these essays were first published two to four decades ago, it is only recently that scholarship is catching up with Becker's historical thinking. These essays showcase his brilliant insights for a new generation of scholars to come.

Becker began his work in 1953 when he arrived in Florence as a Fulbright scholar, only eight years after World War II, while Italy was still struggling in the turbulent wake of the end of the war. Under those volatile circumstances, Becker commenced his study of the tumultuous past of Florentine society, producing a vast array of scholarly works.

In the capital of humanism, he initiated what was to be a lifelong examination of the Western civil tradition. In Florence he could study the interplay of ideas and action in what he was to call "the public world." The rise of this world out of the private, feudal, and corporate structures of the medieval commune, its functioning, and its eventual subversion by the authoritarian structures of the early modern state provided, he thought, valuable information for modern political cultures. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Becker addressed a wide variety of themes and issues raised by scholars such as Davidson, Salvemini, Ottokar, Panella, Rodolico, Barbadoro, Baron, and others. He also introduced his own formulations on a range of subjects including the political role of Florence's minor guilds, usury, taxation, public debt, popular heresy, church-state relations, the city's chroniclers, the influence of "new men" on Florentine government, and changing mentalities.

These papers, in their originality, their richness of documentation, and their suggestiveness, are still relevant for current scholarship. They have been selected for the convenience of readers who may know Becker only through his books, or from the myriad footnotes by other scholars who have drawn so much from his work. This volume will be of interest to scholars, students, and others interested in Renaissance history, whether it be social or political.

Marvin B. Becker is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Michigan.

James Banker is Professor of History at North Carolina State University.

Carol Lansing is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Look Inside


Introduction (Donald Weinstein) - 1

1: The Execution of the Legislation against Monopolistic Practices of the Florentine Guilds in the Middle of the Fourteenth Century - 11
2: Florentine Politics and the Diffusion of Heresy in the Trecento: A Socioeconomic Inquiry - 30
3: The Republican City-State in Florence: An Inquiry into Its Origin and Survival (1280-1434) - 52
4: The Church and State in Florence on the Eve of the Renascence (1343-1382) - 69
5: A Study in Political Failure: The Florentine Magnates (1280-1343) - 94
6: Economic Change and the Emerging Florentine Territorial State - 160
7: The Florentine Territorial State and Civic Humanism in the Early Renaissance - 195
8: Heresy in Medieval and Renascence Florence: A Comment - 229
9: An Essay on the Quest for Identity in the Early Italian Renaissance - 258
10: Individualism in the Early Italian Renaissance: Burden and Blessing - 258
11: Aspects of Lay Piety in Early Renaissance Florence - 285

Afterword - 308

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 328pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2002
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11225-8

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  • $94.95 U.S.