The writing of renaissance politics : the chancery of Francesco II Sforza (1522-1535)

Giudici, Giacomo (2016) The writing of renaissance politics : the chancery of Francesco II Sforza (1522-1535). Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis takes the chancery of the last Sforza duke of Milan, Francesco II (1522–1535), as a case study to rethink Renaissance written political culture. The initial research hypothesis is that looking at (i) the processes happening behind and around chancery documents, and at (ii) the traces these processes left on the documents' material body, can unfold a novel perspective on political-institutional history. Exploring this hypothesis leads me to the formulation of three main claims. The first regards the role of chancery members. In Part I of the thesis ('The Chancery Structure'), I demonstrate that their relationship with power was more complex than clerical: secretaries and clerks were veritable 'shareholders' of power insofar as they were chosen on the basis of the socio-political capital they brought to the court. In the second part of the thesis ('Chancery Practices') I assert that focusing on informal socio-political practices (instead of abstract structures, official rules, and ideal representations) reveals that the chancery—supposedly the stronghold of a well-defined 'authority'—was in fact a remarkably open and socially-varied hub of information and communication. Scholarship widely treats as anecdotal any evidence of deviations from the monastic-like model of chanceries that is described in normative sources; by contrast, I put such evidence at the core of my analysis. Finally, in Part III ('Chancery Products') I combine written and material culture by maintaining that a close analysis of the material form of chancery documents reveals the collaborative process of document-making with great precision, thus complementing our understanding of the tensions surrounding the chancery. To sum up, I use the chancery of Francesco II to enter the discussion on the relationship between writing and state formation; my more general contribution consists in suggesting that state formation by writing was not only an authority-directed, top-down process, but also a bottom-up construction.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2018 12:04
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2018 12:04
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/332

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