A Knight and His Library:Romanitas and Chivalry in Early Thirteenth-Century Italy

Caravaggi, Lorenzo (2019) A Knight and His Library:Romanitas and Chivalry in Early Thirteenth-Century Italy. Viator, 50 (1). pp. 137-176. ISSN 0083-5897

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This article rethinks the importance played by Romanitas in the thought and imagination of early Duecento Italian civic knights. The starting point is the household inventory of a knight and civic officer from the city of Piacenza who owned works by Ovid, Terence, and other ancient authors. These texts were staples of the medieval school curriculum, and formed the education of future civic officers, who until the mid-thirteenth century came predominantly from the knightly classes. Romanitas and chivalry were combined in order to create an image of social prestige indispensable for those who sought to pursue a successful public career. This emerges from many contemporary literary sources, among which are a panegyric commissioned by the nobleman Bernardo di Rolando Rossi of Parma (d. 1248), and the chronicle written by Giovanni Codagnello of Piacenza (d. 1235). Fascination with antiquity was a constant in the history of the Italian cities since, at least, the twelfth century. The way in which the educated classes studied and received the classics was not fixed, but varied according to changing cultural, social, and political contexts and expectations.

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18 Sep 2023 10:50
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21 Sep 2023 03:29