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Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

Victoria University in the University of Toronto

After Civic Humanism. Learning and Politics in Renaissance Italy

ES35 - cover 297 pp / Paperback / February 2015 / ISBN 978-0-7727-2177-8 / $34.95 (Price includes applicable taxes, Shipping: $5.99 CAD within North America, $21.99 CAD to Europe, and $24.99 CAD to all other International addresses; prices may vary for bulk orders)


Edited by Nicholas Scott Baker and Brian Jeffrey Maxson

The thirteen essays in this volume demonstrate the multiplicity of connections between learning and politics in Renaissance Italy. Some engage explicitly with Hans Baron’s “civic humanism” thesis illustrating its continuing viability, but also stretching its application to prove the limitations of its original expression. Others move beyond Baron’s thesis to examine the actual practice of various individuals and groups engaged in both political and learned activities in a variety of diverse settings. The collective impression of all the contributions is that of a complex, ever-shifting mosaic of learned enterprises in which the well-examined civic paradigm emerges as just one of several modes that explain the interaction between learning and politics in Italy between 1300 and 1650. The model that emerges rejects any single category of explanation in favour of one that emphasizes variety and multiplicity. It suggests that learning was indispensible to all politics in Renaissance Italy and that, in fact, at its heart the Renaissance was a political event as much as a cultural movement.

Advance Praise:

“In moving past the constraints imposed by the so-called Baron thesis, the essays in this volume allow for an innovative focus on Renaissance humanism as a set of ‘practices’ determined more by social structures and networks than by specific historical events. In so doing, a number of these studies open up new areas of scholarly exploration.”
— Scott Blanchard, Misericordia University

“The essays collected in this volume are remarkable for both the variety of their approaches and the depth of their analysis. Spanning no less than five centuries of Italian history and evaluating their interpretation by some of the most influential modern scholars, they once again prove the Renaissance to be a crucial time period when discussing such issues as the role of the humanities in shaping a state’s identity and providing paradigms of civic behaviour.”
— Stefano Baldassarri, International Studies Institute, Florence


  1. “Introduction: After Civic Humanism,” Nicholas Scott Baker and Brian Jeffrey Maxson
  2. “After Baron, Back to Burckhardt?”, Oren J. Margolis
  3. “Why Florence? Pocock, Civic Humanism, and the Debate Over the Latin Language,” Christopher S. Celenza
  4. “Albertino Mussato and the Defence of Empire,” Alexander Lee
  5. “Looking for Peace in Fourteenth-Century Florence: The “Difenditore della pacie” in Context,” Lorenza Tromboni
  6. “Humanism and the Ritual of Command in Fifteenth-Century Florence,” Brian Jeffrey Maxson
  7. “Civility and Secularism in the Ambit of the Papal Court,” Elizabeth McCahill
  8. “Pier Candido Decembrio and the Beginnings of Humanist Historiography in Visconti Milan,” Gary Ianziti
  9. “The Learned Consort: Learning, Piety, and Female Political Authority in the Northern Courts,” Jennifer A. Cavalli
  10. “A ‘New’ Narrative: Historical Writing, Chancellors, and Public Records in Renaissance Italy (Milan, Ferrara, Mantua ca. 1450-1520),” Isabella Lazzarini
  11. “Crisis Redux: The Views from Milan, 1499,” John Gagné
  12. “Writing History in a Ruined World: Machiavelli, Guicciardini, and Vettori on History and Republicanism,” Mark Jurdjevic
  13. “The Remembrance of Politics Past: Memory and Melancholia in Jacopo Nardi’s Istorie della città di Firenze,” Nicholas Scott Baker
  14. “The Perilous Legacy of Civic Humanism in Seventeenth-Century Venice,” Edward Muir


The Editors:

Nicholas Scott Baker teaches early modern European history at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of The Fruit of Liberty: Political Culture in the Florentine Renaissance, 1480-1550 (Harvard UP, 2013).

Brian Jeffrey Maxson teaches history at East Tennessee State University, where he is also Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies. He is the author of The Humanist World of Renaissance Florence (Cambridge UP, 2014).


Comitatus, 47. Princeton University (2016), pp. 242-245. Reviewed by Javier Patino Loira.

Renaissance and Reformation, 39.2 (Spring 2016), pp. 177-180. Reviewed by Ronald G. Witt.

Renaissance Quarterly, 69:3 (2016), pp. 1037-1039. Reviewed by Anthony Molho.

Seventeenth Century News, 73:3&4. (Fall 2015), pp. 203-205. Reviewed by Craig Kallendorf.


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297 pp / Paperback / February 2015 / ISBN 978-0-7727-2177-8 / $34.95 (Price includes applicable taxes, Shipping: $5.99 CAD within North America, $21.99 CAD to Europe, and $24.99 CAD to all other International addresses; prices may vary for bulk orders)

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