Nicholas Eckstein,

title.none: Caggese, ed., Statuti della Repubblica Fiorentina (Eckstein,)

identifier.other: baj9928.0107.016 01.07.16

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Nicholas Eckstein,, Monash University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Caggese, Romolo, ed. Statuti della Repubblica Fiorentina, Vol 1: Statuto del Capitano del Popolo degli anni 1322-25, Vol 2. Statuto del Capitano del Popolo degli anno 1325. Deputazione di Storia per la Toscana Documenti di Storia Italiana Serie II. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 2000. Pp. v, 305. 150,000 L. ISBN: 8-822-24814-7.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.07.16

Caggese, Romolo, ed. Statuti della Repubblica Fiorentina, Vol 1: Statuto del Capitano del Popolo degli anni 1322-25, Vol 2. Statuto del Capitano del Popolo degli anno 1325. Deputazione di Storia per la Toscana Documenti di Storia Italiana Serie II. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 2000. Pp. v, 305. 150,000 L. ISBN: 8-822-24814-7.

Reviewed by:

Nicholas Eckstein,
Monash University

The signal importance of the offices of the Captain of the People (Capitano del Popolo) and foreign chief magistrate (Podesta) in the constitutional and legislative history of the northern Italian medieval communes has long been recognised. In the case of Florence, the significance of the normative documents produced by these and other magistracies is magnified by the fact that few such records survive for the period before 1280. Hence, while the history of the Florentine constitution and popolo must in many respects have resembled similar developments in other, better-documented, places, it is only from the early fourteenth century that these phenomena can be measured with any confidence by reference to Florentine sources.

The historical significance of the oldest surviving statutes of the Florentine Captain of the People and Podesta (respectively for the years 1322-25 and 1325) is therefore beyond question. The decision of Giuliano Pinto, Francesco Salvestrini and Andrea Zorzi to reissue with only minor changes the controversial edition of these statutes by Romolo Caggese, originally published between 1910 and 1921, does, however, require justification. The least swingeing attack to emanate from Caggese's many contemporary critics called the value of the entire project into question, and the reputation of the edition is indeed the major reason that over 100 pages of this riedizione are dedicated to editorial essays whose primary function is to explain the editors' rationale in up- dating and reissuing Caggese's project rather than producing a completely new critical edition.

These essays are a tour de force. In explaining their modus operandi, Francesco Salvestrini and Andrea Zorzi have treated the riedizione as the focal point of an historiographical discussion that will be of lasting value to historians of medieval and Renaissance Florence independent of the edition itself. The editors, however, have a more important objective in mind, which is to herald what they see as a long-delayed resurgence of philological scholarship within Florentine historiography. These new volumes, which emerged fittingly as a century and a millennium were drawing to a close, are a Janus-faced entity: in re-presenting Caggese to modern scholars, Salvestrini and Zorzi draw attention to the long, though interrupted (especially in the Anglophone world), tradition of critical scholarship and argue its importance for future scholarship.

From slightly different perspectives, Salvestrini and Zorzi suggest that a narrow preoccupation with the weaknesses of Caggese's edition of the Statutes ignores both the wider problems that have beset this area of scholarship since the nineteenth century and implications of these problems for the study of late- medieval Florentine society. Taken as a whole, the critical editing of all kinds of normative sources in Florence's many archives and libraries has been an uneven and haphazard enterprise. Some areas, for example the political history of the Florentine republic, have been much better served than others, including the until recently neglected normative documents of the city's lay confraternities. In the context of this "quadro in chiaroscuro" (xcv), Caggese's remains as the only modern edition of these statutes. The importance of Caggese's achievement, however, does not lie only in its uniqueness.

Salvestrini and Zorzi skillfully situate Caggese's original edition within a long-term historiographical shift away from the positivist descrizionista school of nineteenth century critical scholarship (which regarded the edition of historical sources as an end in itself) and towards the idea of documents as part of the warp and weft of the social fabric. Caggese consciously anticipated this more integrated understanding of the archival sources, and from this perspective his original edition appears as a pioneering and even visionary project; the riedizione emerges as an appeal to scholars at the turn of the millennium to direct their philological studies further along the way first suggested by Caggese, and for social historians to take more notice of institutional sources that all too frequently escape their notice. (To this reader, at least, Zorzi's optimism in relation to the recrudescence of philological studies serves as a reminder of the fact that this kind of scholarship is still not predominantly an Anglophone phenomenon: overwhelmingly, the examples of work in progress that he cites are Italian.)

The context for the riedizione that ultimately emerges is of genuinely global significance. In concluding his essay, Zorzi refers to the potentially epoch-making watershed created by the coincidence of this new interest in critical scholarship with the opportunities and challenges presented by the internet, in which forum critical editions of various archival fondi are already starting to proliferate. The modest proposal that Giuliano Pinto makes in his Premessa--of simply bringing the Statutes to a new audience--here appears as emblematic of a much larger development by which digital technology will make such material available to a virtually unlimited audience. There is clear evidence that Romolo Caggese deliberately sacrificed the pure erudition of his elders in the interest of serving a more diverse community of scholars; the situation described by Zorzi represents that hope writ large.

The riedizione will inevitably be of most interest to specialists in the political and constitutional history of the Florentine republic, albeit that these scholars will still wish to revert to the original manuscript sources, whose relationship to Caggese's edition is too complex and problematic to rehearse here. The new editors' implied hope, however, is that the re-issued Statutes will constitute a resource for historians of the late-medieval commune in general. To this end the editors have supplemented Caggese's original edition with a critical index that for the first time allows the statutes to be investigated by subject and by name. One may, therefore, as easily trace references to sodomy, the use of torture, Florentine parishes and the city's major families as information on the Capitano del Popolo, the Podesta and their respective offices. Social historians interested in the relationship between prevailing attitudes, mentalites, and their representation in official records of the late-medieval commune will find a wealth of valuable material. For this reason alone, the riedizione deserves a place on the shelves of every historian of the early Florentine republic.