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This paper presents medieval Guelphism as an ‘ideological constellation’, in which libertas played a prominent role, and argues that, because it was lumped together with references to the French dynasty and the Church, the ordinary concept of liberty in late medieval Italy needs to be understood within the context of partisan struggles. New studies on medieval factions in the fifteenth century support the idea that a concept of libertas derived from the Guelph tradition could fulfill surprisingly different ideological functions, particularly when mobilized in debates and struggles concerning the nature of sovereignty. Pragmatic political documents, in fact, show that a libertas-empire, such as that of the Florentine republic, was by no means the dominant concept of liberty in Quattrocento Italy.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of History, King’s College, London, WC2R 2LS. serena.ferente

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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