Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Community and Clientele in Twelfth-Century Tuscany: The Origins of the Rural Commune in the Plain of Lucca

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Community and Clientele in Twelfth-Century Tuscany: The Origins of the Rural Commune in the Plain of Lucca

Article excerpt

Chris Wickham, Community and Clientele in Twelfth-Century Tuscany: The Origins of the Rural Commune in the Plain of Lucca (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). xiv + 276 pp.; 5 maps. ISBN 0-19-82074-2. L40.00.

This book was originally published in Italian in 1995. That a book of such apparent specialization should also be translated into English may, at first glance, seem somewhat peculiar: especially since, as the author concedes, the subject is hardly modish even amongst Italian scholars. But the key to this work's importance lies in its being not merely, or even primarily, a tome of local history. In this compact volume, Chris Wickham makes an important contribution to a continuing debate about social change in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The terms 'community' and 'clientele' of the title signify, respectively, horizontal (communal) and vertical (feudal) forms of social organization. His central question of why did rural communes form in the twelfth century is one not unrelated to those concerning the 'Feudal Transformation' of the eleventh. Such monumental social changes have frequently been analysed by historians informed by the discipline of law. …

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