ABOUT THIS BOOK
James Banker and Carol Lansing have shaped a collection of the works of Marvin B. Becker, a respected scholar in Florentine and Renaissance history. Becker began his work in 1953 when he arrived in Florence as a Fulbright Scholar, only eight years after the end of World War II. Italy was still struggling with the turbulent wake of the war's end. In those chaotic circumstances, Becker commenced his study of the tumultuous past of Florentine society, producing a rich amount of scholarly work to enhance the field.
In the capital of humanism, he initiated what was to be a lifelong examination of the Western civil tradition. In Florence he could study the interplay of ideas and action in what he was to call the "public world." The rise of this world out of the private, feudal and corporate structures of the medieval commune, its functioning and its eventual subversion by the authoritarian structures of the early modern state were, he thought, valuable information for modern political cultures. In the 1950s and 1960s, Becker produced approximately twenty papers dealing with a wide variety of themes and issues raised by the work of other scholars such as Davidson, Salvemini, Ottokar, Panella, Rodolico, Barbadoro, Baron, and others. He also introduced his own formulations on a range of subjects including the political role of Florence's minor guilds, usury, taxation, public debt, popular heresy, church-state relations, the city's chroniclers, the influence of "new men" upon Florentine government and changing mentalities.
These papers, in their originality, their richness of documentation and their suggestiveness, are still relevant for current scholarship. The editors of this volume have chosen the papers for the convenience of readers who may know Becker only through his books, or from the myriad of footnotes of other scholars who have drawn so much from his work. This volume will be of interest to scholars, students, and others interested in Renaissance history, whether it be social or political.
Marvin B. Becker is Professor Emeritus in the Department of History, University of Michigan. James Banker is Professor of History, North Carolina State University. Carol Lansing is Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara.