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II - 2001 / 1 - gennaio-giugno


Stephen J Milner,
Citing the Ringhiera: The Politics of Place and Public Address in Trecento Florence,
in "Italian studies", 55 (2000), pp. 53-82.


1. The Palazzo and the Communal Sphere

2. The Ringhiera as Icon

3. Contesting the Ringhiera

4. The Ringhiera and Rhetoric

5. Reading the Ringhiera

6. Epilogue


The study seeks to examine the significance of the raised platform, or ringhiera, of the Palazzo Pubblico in Florence as both an architectural and symbolic construct, and to assess how its physical situation and literary citation imagined it as the locus of legitimation in the context of continued political struggle within the nascent popular commune of the Trecento. The analysis is based upon the belief that the consideration of the sociology of space provides an important tool in understanding the cultural construction of community, the socio-political configuration of power relations, the origins and maintenance of social inequality, and the possibilities for resistance. In assuming this perspective, the ringhiera of the Florentine Palazzo Pubblico is understood as neither an inert material place within and around which communal rituals and social relations revolved, nor a symbolic space which determined such activity. Rather, it is conceived as an active component in the continual redescription of ideological boundaries as competing elements sought to imppose their own particular form of social ordering.

By focusing upon the ringhiera's liminality, how it stood between the public piazza and the private rooms of the palace, it is possible to perceive how it conferred legitimacy upon its occupants during periods of civic peace and yet was the site where anxiety concerning the permanency of the prevailing political order was most clearly evidenced in times of political upheaval. By examining the ringhiera as a contested place, the study seeks to demonstrate the ambiguity of a site which was both an icon of open republican government and a possible place of  oppression, relating its ambiguity to the moral indeterminacy of Florentine civic republican rhetoric, an art that had its own roots in the medieval practices of the Ars aringandi.


Stephen J. Milner is Lecturer in Italian at the University of Bristol, UK, and works in the field of late Medieval and Renaissance Florentine studies, specifically focusing on political rhetoric and also on the Florentine territorial state. In addition to editing and translating the Everyman edition of Machiavelli's Prince and other political writings (London, 1996), he is editor of the forthcoming At the Margins: Minority Groups in Pre-modern Italy (Minnesota University Press, 2001). Recently published articles include Rubrics and Requests: Statutory Division and Supra-communal Clientage in Fifteenth-Century Pistoia, in Connell & Zorzi eds., Florentine Tuscany: Structures and Practices of Power (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and Partial Readings: addressing a Renaissance archive, "History of the Human Sciences", 12 (1999), pp.89-105.

Reti Medievali