Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta and Factions in Friuli during the Renaissance / Edition 1

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Nobles were slaughtered and their castles looted or destroyed, bodies were dismembered and corpses fed to animals—the Udine carnival massacre of 1511 was the most extensive and damaging popular revolt in Renaissance Italy (and the basis for the story of Romeo and Juliet). Mad Blood Stirring is a gripping account and analysis of this event, as well as the social structures and historical conflicts preceding it and the subtle shifts in the mentality of revenge it introduced.

This new reader's edition offers students and general readers an abridged version of this classic work which shifts the focus from specialized scholarly analysis to the book's main theme: the role of vendetta in city and family politics. Uncovering the many connections between the carnival motifs, hunting practices, and vendetta rituals, Muir finds that the Udine massacre occurred because, at that point in Renaissance history, violent revenge and allegiance to factions provided the best alternative to failed political institutions. But the carnival massacre also marked a crossroads: the old mentality of vendetta was soon supplanted by the emerging sense that the direct expression of anger should be suppressed—to be replaced by duels.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement

A model study of how vendetta and political disorder related to one another... Superbly documented.


An exceptional book accessible both to students and to general readers.

Italian Studies

A superbly researched book... The human detail is both vivid and coherent.

Sixteenth-Century Journal

Muir is one of the best microhistorians of our day... His careful analysis, persuasive reasoning, impressive documentation, and lively prose demand close and careful attention. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in early modern Italy, and more widely, for those who study social or microhistory.

An account and analysis of the Udine carnival massacre of 1511--the most extensive and damaging popular revolt in Renaissance Italy--as well as the social structures and historical conflicts preceding it, and the subtle shifts in the mentality of revenge it introduced. Muir's social history begins with the civil wars that plagued Friuli before the republic of Venice conquered the region in 1420, and ends in 1568 when Venice finally imposed a formal peace on the vendetta clans. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801858499
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Edition description: ABR
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Muir is the Ver Steeg Professor of History at Northwestern University. He is the editor, with Guido Ruggiero, of Sex and Gender in Historical Perspective and Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

A Note on Names and Dates
Prologue 3
Pt. 1 Structures & Practices
1 The Friulan Enigma 15
2 Regulating Conflicts 49
3 Factions in the Fifteenth Century 77
Pt. 2 Conjunctures & Events
4 Approaching Thunder 111
5 The Tempest of 1511 152
Pt. 3 Mentalities & Ideologies
6 The Problem of Meaning 191
7 Retaliations and Realignments 215
8 Toward the Duel 247
Conclusion 273
Appendixes 283
Notes 291
Bibliography 359
Index 381
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