Chronicling History: Chroniclers and Historians in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

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Literally thousands of annals, chronicles, and histories were produced in Italy during the Middle Ages, ranging from fragments to polished humanist treatises. This book is composed of a set of case studies exploring the kinds of historical writing most characteristic of the period.
We might expect a typical medieval chronicler to be a monk or cleric, but the chroniclers of communal and Renaissance Italy were overwhelmingly secular. Many were jurists or notaries whose professions granted them access to political institutions and public debate. The mix of the anecdotal and the cosmic, of portents and politics, makes these writers engaging to read.
While chroniclers may have had different reasons to write and often very different points of view, they shared the belief that knowing the past might explain the present. Moreover, their audiences usually shared the worldview and civic identity of the historians, so these texts are glimpses into deeper cultural and intellectual contexts. Seen more broadly, chronicles are far more entertaining and informative than narratives. They become part of the very history they are describing.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Overall, this is a wonderful source for researchers familiar with and delving deeper into regional Italian history.”

—M.M. Johnson, Choice

From the Publisher
“There is nothing like this on the market. . . . Nowhere is there offered such an ample body of translations; nowhere is there offered such generous commentary. There are some books of original sources . . . but none that covers as much chronological and regional ground.”
—James Grubb, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

“Overall, this is a wonderful source for researchers familiar with and delving deeper into regional Italian history.”
—M.M. Johnson, Choice

“Overall, this is a wonderful source for researchers familiar with and delving deeper into regional Italian history.”

—M.M. Johnson, Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271032269
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 1/27/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Dale is Associate Professor of Art History at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

Alison Williams Lewin is Associate Professor of History at St. Joseph's University.

Duane J. Osheim is Professor of History at the University of Virginia.

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Table of Contents




1. Lombard City Annals and the Social and Cultural History of Northern Italy

Edward Coleman

2. History Writing in the Twelfth-Century Kingdom of Sicily

Graham A. Loud

3. The Genoese Civic Annals: Caffaro and His Continuators

John Dotson

4. Salimbene de Adam and the Franciscan Chronicle

Alison Williams Lewin

5. The Villani Chronicles

Paula Clarke

6. Chronicles and Civic Life in Giovanni Sercambi’s Lucca

Duane J. Osheim

7. Fourteenth-Century Lombard Chronicles

Sharon Dale

8. Venetian History and Patrician Chroniclers

John Melville Jones

9. Chronicles into Legends and Lives: Two Humanist Accounts of the Carrara Dynasty in Padua

Benjamin G. Kohl

10. Challenging Chronicles: Leonardo Bruni’s History of the Florentine People

Gary Ianziti

11. From the Roman Empire to Christian Imperialism: The Work of Flavio Biondo

Nicoletta Pellegrino



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