Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes, 1125–1325

Paperback | January 23, 2006

byAugustine Thompson, O.P.

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We know much about the Italian city states—the “communes”—of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But historians have focused on their political accomplishments to the exclusion of their religious life, going so far as to call them “purely secular contrivances.” When religion is considered, the subjects are usually saints, heretics, theologians, and religious leaders, thereby ignoring the vast majority of those who lived in the communes. In Cities of God, Augustine Thompson gives a voice to the forgotten majority—orthodox lay people and those who ministered to them.

Thompson positions the Italian republics in sacred space and time. He maps their religious geography as it was expressed through political and voluntary associations, ecclesiastical and civil structures, common ritual life, lay saints, and miracle-working shrines. He takes the reader through the rituals and celebrations of the communal year, the people’s corporate and private experience of God, and the “liturgy” of death and remembrance. In the process he challenges a host of stereotypes about “orthodox” medieval religion, the Italian city-states, and the role of new religious movements in the world of Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, and Dante.

Cities of God is bold, revisionist history in the tradition of Eamon Duffy’s Stripping of the Altars. Drawing on a wide repertoire of ecclesiastical and secular sources, from city statutes and chronicles to saints’ lives and architecture, Thompson recaptures the religious origins and texture of the Italian republics and allows their inhabitants a spiritual voice that we have never heard before.

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We know much about the Italian city states—the “communes”—of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. But historians have focused on their political accomplishments to the exclusion of their religious life, going so far as to call them “purely secular contrivances.” When religion is considered, the subjects are usually saints, heretics, t...

Augustine Thompson, O.P. is Professor of Religious Studies and History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Revival Preachers and Politics in Thirteenth-Century Italy (1992) and, with James Gordley, Gratian: The Treatise on Laws with the Ordinary Gloss (1993).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:520 pages, 9.23 × 6.2 × 1.3 inPublished:January 23, 2006Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271029099

ISBN - 13:9780271029092

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

Abbreviations

Note on Style

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Part I La Citade Sancta: Sacred Geography

1. The Mother Church

2. From Conversion to Community

3. The Holy City

4. Ordering Families, Neighborhoods, and Cities

5. Holy Persons and Holy Places

Part II Buoni Cattolici: Religious Observance

6. The City Worships

7. Feasting, Fasting, and Doing Penance

8. Resurrection and Renewal

9. Good Catholics at Prayer

10. World Without End. Amen.

Epilogue: Communal Piety and the Mendicants

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Augustine Thompson’s Cities of God provides a valuable overview of the religious lives of ordinary lay people in the towns of northern Italy during the central Middle Ages.”

—Maureen C. Miller, Ecclesiastical History