Writing Southern Italy
before the Renaissance

Trecento Historians of the
Mezzogiorno

Ronald G. Musto


Writing Southern Italy before the Renaissance is the first comprehensive book in English to examine the works of trecento historians of the Mezzogiorno. It introduces these writers, their lives, works, sources, language choices, narrative communities and strategies, and their styles and forms.

Ronald G. Musto brings to bear current methodological and theoretical frameworks to develop this analysis. Central to his examination are the role of trecento visual language and the impact of fictional forms on this historiography. He traces the fine line between historia and fabula and the ability of trecento writers to absorb and utilize the symbolic forms deployed by such artists as Giotto, Lorenzetti and Francesco da Barberino and such romances as Meliadus, the Contesse d’Anjou and Constance.

To illustrate and test these analyses, Musto offers case studies examining rituals of punishment and prison dialogues. He traces the development of a grand narrative — the black legend of the Angevins — through Petrarch, Villani, Boccaccio and Gravina. A final chapter compares trecento historiography to that of the southern humanists.

This second, revised edition is published by special arrangement with Routledge. It presents revised text; revised and updated notes; a chronology of persons and events; and a complete, updated and comprehensive bibliography. It also incorporates selected new source materials and secondary research published since that first edition. For consistency of reference, all numbering of chapters, subsections, annotation and pagination remain the same as in the hardcover edition.


“The stories are compelling, from falsely accused queens to emotional exchanges between prisoners and gruesome rituals of punishment. Musto renders their composition tangible through extensive use of recent analytical and theoretical approaches, incorporating feminist critiques, the rethinking of how fabula and historia intersect, and the role of memory (among others). The research is carefully documented, and he is very good at acknowledging the numerous colleagues who have inspired him, naming names and works…. I can imagine using several chapters in masters-level teaching of historiography. Students would relish the wonderful texts and images, from Domenico da Gravina to Francesco da Barberino.” — Speculum

“In bringing back to scholarly attention a vast corpus of trecento texts dealing with the kingdom of Naples, Musto’s volume sets out to fill a documentary lacuna, while also challenging conventional views of the Italian Renaissance. As stated in the introduction, the goal of the volume is to problematize traditional approaches to historical texts in light of cultural theory and reappraise fifty years of ‘Anglophone scholarship on medieval Italy.’… The result is a broad investigation of visual, archival, and literary sources penned by both well-known (e.g., Villani, Petrarca, and Boccaccio) and often neglected authors (e.g., Clareno and Gravina). Their narratives, Musto shows, are highly rhetorical texts that weave together facts and fictions, thus calling for a consideration of the nature of history writing.”

— Renaissance Quarterly

“By aligning these southern Italian texts more closely with the works of their northern counterparts, Musto rehabilitates the status of these otherwise understudied texts but also ties their alienation from traditional scholarly discourse to the political exigencies of the nineteenth century, rather than those of the fourteenth. In our moment of global resurgent nationalism, it is important to take a closer look at the building blocks of such constructed ideologies. Musto’s work skillfully challenges nineteenth-century divisions of medieval Italy into the urban north versus the feudal south and calls for a more nuanced understanding of medieval Italian historiographic programs.
— American Historical Review


380 pages, 20 illustrations, 1 table.
Preface, introduction, notes, chronology,
works cited by chapter, comprehensive
bibliography, index.

History, Historiography, Italian Studies,
Mediterranean Studies

Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-59910-412-6
Price: $20.00


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ITALICA PRESS, INC.