Medieval Lucca: And the Evolution of the Renaissance State

Medieval Lucca: And the Evolution of the Renaissance State by M. E. Bratchel

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Although there are many books in English on the city and state of Lucca, this is the first scholarly study to cover the history of the entire region from classical antiquity to the end of the fifteenth century. At one level, it is an archive-based study of a highly distinctive political community; at another, it is designed as a contribution to current discussions on power-structures, the history of the state, and the differences between city-states and the new territorial states that wereemerging in Italy by the fourteenth century. There is a rare consensus among historians on the characteristic features of the Italian city-state: essentially the centralization of economic, political, and juridical power on a single city and in a single ruling class. Thus defined, Lucca retained the image of an old-fashioned, old-style city-republic right through until the loss of political independence in 1799. No consensus exists with regard to the defining qualities of the Renaissance state. Was it centralized or de-centralized;intrusive or non-interventionist? The new regional states were all these things. And the comparison with Lucca is complicated and nuanced as a result. Lucca ruled over a relatively large city territory, in part a legacy from classical antiquity. Lucca was distinctive in the pervasive power exercised over its territory (largely a legacy of the region's political history in the early and central middle ages). In consequence, the Lucchese state showed a marked continuity in its political organization, and precociousness in its administrative structures. The qualifications relate to practicalities and resources. The coercive powers andbureaucratic aspirations of any medieval state were distinctly limited, whilst Lucca's capacity for independent action was increasingly circumscribed by the proximity (and territorial enclaves) of more powerful and predatory neighbours.
Publication Date:
04 / 09 / 2008

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