The Florentine Criminal Underworld

John K. Brackett

in Society and Individual in Renaissance Florence

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520232549
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928220 | DOI:
The Florentine Criminal Underworld

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter investigates the sixteenth-century Cronaca of Giuliano de' Ricci and of the criminal records of the Eight (Otto di guardia). In particular, it explores the style of life of the urban poor and demonstrates how Florentine men of the new aristocracy perceived a supposedly spreading criminality as a threat to decent society. Social crisis and transformation are two issues that were new, as was the growing association of poverty with sin and wealth with morality. Some idea of the problem of crime in Florence is reviewed through the presentation of a social profile of violators and a topography of violations. The undeserving poor and Florentine men posed a moral danger, emerged from and spread a disordered and immoral life cycle, creating and perpetuating an underworld of persons averse to work, begged, stole, and committed other types of crime, eroding the foundations of society as they warred against decency.

Keywords: Cronaca; Giuliano de' Ricci; Eight; urban poor; Florentine men; criminality; Florence; crime; aristocracy

Chapter.  10106 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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