Venice as the Polity of Mercy: Guilds, Confraternities and the Social Order, c. 1250-c.1650

By Richard Mackenney

© 2018

This study re-examines the political economy of Venice from the point of view of the hundreds of corporations which ordinary people – despite their apparent ‘exclusion’ from political life – organized and ran for themselves. Mercy was central to their Christian values. Those who offered mercy to their brethren – and sisters – in temporary hardship were investing in the expectation of reciprocity in their own time of need. Venice, Polity of Mercy traces a formative linking of economy, polity and religion in the thirteenth century, then the expansion and extension of a network of overlapping institutions in the fourteenth and fifteenth. There followed a dislocation during the struggles of Church and State between the mid-sixteenth century and the mid-seventeenth, and a revitalizing reconnection of economy and polity in a different religious climate after the plague of 1630. The book offers a picture of circulation and movement rather than of stability and continuity, and a new understanding of the significance of Venice through a reconfiguration of Venetian history and the history of Venetian art.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP003959

  • AVAILABLE JAN 2019

    From: $67.50

    Regular Price: $90.00

    ISBN 9781442649682
  • AVAILABLE NOV 2018

    From: $67.50

    Regular Price: $90.00

Quick Overview

Venice, Polity of Mercy presents a history of the people of Venice from the mid-thirteenth century to the mid-seventeenth, and provides a new perspective on the changing relationship of their economic, political and religious life.

Venice as the Polity of Mercy: Guilds, Confraternities and the Social Order, c. 1250-c.1650

By Richard Mackenney

© 2018

This study re-examines the political economy of Venice from the point of view of the hundreds of corporations which ordinary people – despite their apparent ‘exclusion’ from political life – organized and ran for themselves. Mercy was central to their Christian values. Those who offered mercy to their brethren – and sisters – in temporary hardship were investing in the expectation of reciprocity in their own time of need. Venice, Polity of Mercy traces a formative linking of economy, polity and religion in the thirteenth century, then the expansion and extension of a network of overlapping institutions in the fourteenth and fifteenth. There followed a dislocation during the struggles of Church and State between the mid-sixteenth century and the mid-seventeenth, and a revitalizing reconnection of economy and polity in a different religious climate after the plague of 1630. The book offers a picture of circulation and movement rather than of stability and continuity, and a new understanding of the significance of Venice through a reconfiguration of Venetian history and the history of Venetian art.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Venice as the Polity of Mercy challenges the persistent image of Venice as a patrician dominated, top-down, hierarchical regime. The central question of Venetian history is how to explain its unusual stability and lack of the riots, regime changes, and civil and factional struggles that characterized other Renaissance states. Richard Mackenny offers a new and persuasive answer to that old question by challenging the idea that patricians controlled popular life through strict oversight of popular institutions such as confraternities."


    Monique O’Connell, Dept. of History, Wake Forest University
  • Author Information

    Richard Mackenney is a professor in the Department of History at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
  • Table of contents

    1. ‘The quality of mercy’
     Venice as ‘mercantile system’, c.1250-c.1300
    2. ‘The work of generation’
    Proliferation and punctuations, c.1300-c.1500
    3. ‘The commodity that strangers have’
    Who were the ‘Venetians’?, c.1500-c.1600
    4. ‘A member of the commonwealth’?
    Officers and office in the mercers’ guild, c.1450-c.1600
    5. ‘The joy of heaven here on earth’
    Monuments to Mercy, c.1500-c.1600
    6. ‘A stony adversary’
    The Venetians and the Confessional State, c.1550-c.1600