Table of Contents number 1, 2019, January-June
Dal «Medioevo cristiano» alla «Storia religiosa» del medioevo
(a cura di Raimondo Michetti e Andrea Tilatti)
The Middle Ages as a Period and a Problem: the Role of the Importance of Religion as Seen in the First Half of the Twentieth Century
This article traces a path in the Italian medieval historiography in the first half of the twentieth century in order to reveal some ways in which the religious dimension contributed to the reflection on the characteristic features of the Middle Ages. Among the problems treated are: municipal conflicts described in terms of conflicts between the State and the Church; heresy as a factor of modernization in Volpe’s historiography; Ernesto Buonaiuti’s role; the attempts made by Giorgio Falco and Raffaello Morghen to explain the Middle Ages in a coherent way.
Culture, Political Languages and Society in the Early Middle Ages
This paper analyzes how the scholarly Italian literature on the early Middle Ages produced over the last forty years focuses on culture, political languages and Christian society. The analysis highlights the marginal role of such research within Italian medieval studies and the need to sustain the study of ecclesiology, theological controversies and biblical exegesis, as is the case in other European countries (where some of these research fields have already been examined and abandoned while others are only now beginning to emerge). The Carolingian society perceived itself as Ecclesia, namely as a society guided by Christian values, in which the sacraments marked the main stages in life, and the social roles of kings, counts and fathers of families were understood and moulded as religious duties. A wide range of fields were dominated by the reference to Christian principles: political and economic languages, besides processes of the construction of historical memory, of ethnic and political identities and of space (often perceived as being defined by sacred places). However, at the same time, from the ninth century, the concept of ecclesia was increasingly used to designate not only the Christian community but mainly the sacred building where the faithful gathered. The “Middle Ages of the Cathedrals” was born, while an ecclesiastical territoriality was defined in more precise terms.
«Storia religiosa» and Historiography. A Return to Croce?
Moving from the footnotes to the “Storia religiosa” by Giovanni Miccoli, this essays analyses the connection between religious history and historiography. An account weighing up the Storia religiosa, which appeared in «Quaderni storici» in 1970, is highly important: in the Storia, attention was paid to the history of dioceses, bishops and the history of religious life as the history of the Church. This link has much to do with the role of Benedetto Croce in Italian culture. It is not merely by chance that, for Giovanni Miccoli, a book deeply influenced by Croce (“Arnaldo da Brescia nelle fonti del secolo XII” by Arsenio Frugoni) was fundamental. Croce was the author of a fundamental lesson on the hierarchy of sources and was also responsible for identifying the relationship between historical method and the definition of what is truly a source. Through the Storia religiosa, this essays questions what remains today of the thinking of Benedetto Croce.
Attilio Bartoli, Langeli Maria, Teresa Brolis, Gianmarco De Angelis
The Sources of Religious History: from Documents to Historiography
The three authors of this paper carry out some reflections on the relationship between editions of documentary sources and medieval historiography. Focusing on the Early and High Middle Ages, the period traditionally privileged by the editions of charters and ecclesiastical cartularies, De Angelis conducts a comprehensive historiographical and critical evaluation. Brolis closely observes some of the main historiographical tendencies with respect to the Late Middle Ages, assuming a persepective inspired by her personal research experience. Finally, Bartoli Langeli reflects on the attitude of Italian medievalists towards the philological activity concerning sources, evaluating it positively.
Religious Literature and Medieval Society
Medieval religious texts were an important source of linguistic and philological study from the sixteenth century. An extensive field of research and a new methodological approach were disclosed by some prominent scholars in the twentieth century (De Luca, Getto, Pozzi and Miccoli). Both collective historical works (e.g. “Storia d’Italia”, including Miccoli’s “Storia religiosa”) and a general survey of Italian literature show an increasing interest in the religious mentality and practice. Moreover, women’s studies have inspired a series of important publications on female forms of religion. Several studies have demonstrated that religious patterns, particularly biblical sources, inspired the major writers in the fourteenth century (Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio). The bulk of the research concerns the texts that directly expressed the spirituality and the hopes of lay people, usually led by the Mendicant friars. This includes reportationes of vernacular sermons, hagiographical and biblical translations, religious poetry, religious plays (“sacre rappresentazioni”) and the multifaceted mystical literature, mainly produced by women (letters, tractates, visions). Collections of “volgarizzamenti” (“renderings in the vulgar tongue”), databases, critical editions, monographs on particular figures and moments in the religious experience (e.g. the meetings dedicated to the Poor Clares of Franciscan Observance), which are currently in preparation, will be the premise for a more detailed and objective survey of medieval religious literature.
Alessandra Bartolomei Romagnoli
Women and Men Writing about Women
In the last forty years late medieval mystical literature, which had been marginalized in the academic tradition, has established itself as a strategic field in the analysis of religious language. This renewed interest has been prompted by various other types of research, for example, the renewal of hagiographic studies, women’s studies, the new attention to spiritual movements and outsiders and the relationships between charismatic and institutional powers. In this field, the anthology of the “Scrittrici mistiche italiane” (1988) was very important and innovative, stimulating new studies and editions of texts. After reconsidering the hermeneutic proposals of Giovanni Pozzi and Claudio Leonardi, who edited the results of that innovative project, here we point out three possible paths to access the mystical texts, examining the relationships of the new spiritual language with literature, theology and history.
History, History of Political Thought and Theology: a Complicated Relationship
The paper deals with the relationship between medieval history and the history of medieval political thought. The author claims that, after a long period of time in which political thought was not considered a relevant object of a genuine historical inquiry, the situation is changing. In is opinion, the so-called linguistic turn has contributed to overcoming a prejudice against political thought, wrongly considered to be too abstract and unable to interpret historical reality. In order to support his claim, the author mentions not only recent volumes, such as “The Languages of Political Society” (2011), but also the contributions by Giacomo Todeschini and Paolo Evangelisti, deeply rooted in the legacy of Ovidio Capitani’s teaching. Enrico Artifoni’s ground-breaking studies on political communication in the Italian “communi” show how fruitful attention to language can also lead to a better understanding of the true functioning of civic institutions. In the second part, the paper focuses on the renewed attention to “political theology”, intended not exclusively in the terms of Carl Schmitt, but rather in those of Ernst Kantorowicz. Referring to Antony Black, the author shows that it legitimates to speak of a theological language as one among other medieval political languages through which life in society and its sense in history were interpreted.
Dario Internullo, Michele Lodone
The Studies on Prophetism: Reflections on the Last Decades
The article proposes several reflections on the studies on medieval and early modern prophetism produced in the last few decades, with the purpose of outlining its most relevant issues. From a methodological point of view, an ever-increasing attention to philological, material and cultural aspects can be observed. This scrupulousness has entailed a decrease in the importance not only of “classical” one-sided theses but also of the attention paid to ideal aspirations and general historical changes, which, until a decade ago, was an important feature of the historiography of prophetism. The text is divided into three sections: the first focuses on the relationship between prophetism and the political dimension; the second deals with the cultural aspects of the prophetic phenomenon; the third reflects on those authors and prophetic traditions that have become better known thanks to recent publications.
Heresy and Inquisition. Historiographical and methodological observations and editions of sources
Heresy and Inquisition are very fascinating subjects and this is even more true if the few documents survived are studied in connection with their conservation and transmission, because textual transmission opens new perspectives in this field of research. Starting from the most recent historiographical production, the article deals with methodological problems to offer a new approach in the edition of documents. Taken into consideration are the most known medieval heretics, mainly in the Italian contest, such as Guglielma, Dolcino da Novara, Cathars and Waldenses. So that sources, textual transmission, literacy, method of analysis and historiographical debates work all together to get a better knowledge of the heretics, but also of the inquisitors.