Partial Rhetoric: Florentine Civic Republicanism and the Premodern State
Arts & Humanities Research Council
Amount of Award
Summary of project
This project seeks to examine the renaissance of rhetorical civic republicanism in late medieval and Renaissance Florence by placing it within the wider social context of the commune's verbal economy. The proposed output, a single authored monograph, seeks to question the democratic credentials of contemporary Republicanism by revealing the historical roots of its exclusivity and intolerance of difference. My principal thesis is that civic life in Florence was articulated in only two ways: as consensus, community and harmony or as strife and factionalism. The aim is to demonstrate that late medieval and Renaissance Florentine political culture had no means of conceiving internal conflict within the bounds of constitutional legality and was incapable of sustaining 'parties' in the modern sense. Such a reading ruptures prevailing discourses of deliberative democracy that trace their origins to Greece and Rome and, via the Italian city-states, to the Atlantic republicanism of modern day America. I argue that Florentine republicanism, with its exclusivity and intolerance of difference, is presented as pre-party and hence resolutely pre-modern.