Article

Cola Di Rienzo

Ronald G. Musto

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0122
Cola Di Rienzo

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
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Cola di Rienzo (b. c. 1313–d. 1354) was a notary, a friend of Francesco Petrarch, and a learned student of classical antiquity. On 20 May 1347 he established a new republican government in Rome, toppling without violence the regime of the factious barons. He soon took on the titles of “tribune” in revival of ancient Rome, and “miles Spiritus Sancti” (“soldier of the Holy Spirit”) to indicate the dawning of a new, apocalyptic age. His new buono stato had already gained the support of a wide range of social and economic groups within the city, while the neighboring republican city-states soon formed alliances with Rome. In Avignon Pope Clement VI first supported him and then—threatened by Rome’s new claims to legitimacy—actively worked with the barons to topple his buono stato. Exiled in late 1347, on 1 August 1350 Cola made his way to the court of Charles IV in Prague, to persuade the emperor to reestablish his seat in Rome along with the pope. Delivered to Avignon on 1 August 1352, Cola was imprisoned to stand trial for heresy, but he was exonerated and sent to Rome as a papal senator on 1 August 1354. On 8 October 1354 he was murdered atop the Capitoline in an uprising organized by the Colonna and most likely supported by Cardinal Gil Albornoz. Cola di Rienzo has been the object of great debate since his own lifetime, and his legacy reflects much of modern historiography on issues of popular spirituality, communal and oligarchic government, the religious and secular origins of the humanist movement, and the nature of governance in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. More recent theoretical frames have also been able to shed considerable light on the actions of Cola and his buono stato in terms of public ritual, crime and punishment, sacred and secular urban space, the reinterpretation of Trecento visual culture and propaganda, papal and secular legitimacy, and the formation of early Renaissance historiography. His period is also beginning to yield important results in the reexamination of archival collections, especially notarial registers, and their importance for the close examination and reevaluation of Roman social and economic networks and the survival of his republican reforms into the Quattrocento.

Article.  7767 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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