Giannino in History, Legend, and Literature

in The Man Who Believed He Was King of France

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226145259
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226145273 | DOI:
Giannino in History, Legend, and Literature

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This book has narrated the story of Giannino di Guccio, the Siena merchant who believed he was king of France, in a straightforward fashion, commenting on the main source—the so-called Istoria del re Giannino di Francia—or departing from it only for specific reasons. At various places, the reconstruction differs from what Giannino asserts in his memoirs. This final chapter shows how Giannino's career poses a whole series of problems for history. It asks the question: Did King Giannino exist? Was he a historical figure or a literary invention? This chapter proves Giannino's existence thanks to two documents independent of one another. The first is the recorded deliberation of the General Council of the commune of Siena, dated October 27, 1359 and still preserved in the State Archive in Siena. The second is the letter that Pope Innocent VI wrote to the king and queen of Naples on April 16, 1361. And among all the hypothetical relationships involving Giannino, the most fascinating seems to be the one with Cola di Rienzo.

Keywords: Giannino di Guccio; Siena; merchant; king; France; Istoria del re Giannino di Francia; Cola di Rienzo; General Council; Pope Innocent VI; Naples

Chapter.  15586 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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