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Magnificence and the city: Giovanni II Bentivoglio and architecture in fifteenth-century Bologna

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This paper focuses on fifteenth-century urban refashioning in Bologna as depicted in various works published in the city in the 1490s. Giovanni II Bentivoglio was presented in these as the instigator or creator of a programme of urban renewal and restructuring, although this process had begun long before, and even in the early years of his rule was not necessarily directly or even indirectly connected with him. The changing relationship of Bentivoglio to the city is examined through a number of architectural projects between his accession in 1463 and the 1490s. Bologna itself, from at least the late 1470s or early 1480s, was a very important part of Bentivoglio's identity. This was developed by comparison to Augustus' renewal of ancient Rome, and in the 1490s was reinforced by reference to the theory of magnificence. A brief comparison with contemporary urban renewal projects elsewhere in northern and central Italy reveals that the 1490s accounts of Bentivoglio and Bologna can be tied into the political and familial network that he sought to establish during his rule. Particular cities and rulers provided important models for him. Through both the construction of his private palace and his interventions in public building and urban projects, Bentivoglio sought to be and act like a prince. The visibility and importance of these actions as markers of the Bentivoglio presence in Bologna is shown by the acts of damnatio memoriae and the architectural destruction that occurred after he and his family fled the city in 1506.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-12-01

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