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Event Details

Tue, December 01, 2015

18:00 – 19:30

Villa Sassetti
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze

Maria Pia Paoli, Researcher in Early Modern History, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa

Graduate Seminar Series

The concepts of honor and nobility were present over a long period of time in Europe’s cultural and social history, from the Early Middle Ages and throughout the 18th Century when the French revolution led to the crisis of both. Generally the idea of nobility was linked to that of supremacy over the other social classes, to the point that the honor of the nobleman was defended through its own system of justice. The duel was an expression of a culture that did not recognize the justice of Royal or civil law, but only natural law.

In the 16th Century, though, both Church and sovereign forbade duels but the practice continued for a long time. At the same time other forms of peacekeeping were exercised by parish priests, missionaries or lay mediators. While the State structures consolidated themselves both in the large monarchical states and in the small Italian ones, noblemen did not renounce exercising their privileges and elaborated codes of conduct that distinguished them from the rest of society. In Italy, starting from the 16th Century the so called “chivalric code” (scienza cavalleresca) emerged. It was concerned not only with duels but with the definition of nobility and honor, as well as of ways of peacemaking without resorting to duels. The first authors of the “chivalric code” were jurists and then more and more frequently writers and philosophers. In 1710 Scipione Maffei in his Della scienza chiamata cavalleresca criticized this culture of the “point of honor” that nevertheless remained in use for a long time.

Featured Biographies

Maria Pia Paoli

Scuola Normale di Pisa

Maria Pia Paoli is an Early Modern history research lecturer at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. She has dedicated her studies to cultural, religious and social history, with particular reference to 15th-18th Century Tuscan history. In 2009 she curated the book Saperi a confronto nell’Europa dei secoli XII-XIX (Edizioni della Normale). With Paolo Broggio she edited Stringere la pace. Teorie e pratiche della conciliazione nell’Europa moderna (secoli XV-XVIII) (Viella: 2011); forthcoming in the journal KRYPTON: “I tanti volti dell’onore: conflitti del quotidiano e pratiche di pacificazione nella Toscana del Settecento”.