The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena by F. Thomas Thomas LuongoThe Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena by F. Thomas Thomas Luongo

The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena

byF. Thomas Thomas Luongo

Hardcover | January 19, 2006

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Saint Catherine of Siena (1347–1380) has become a defining figure in the history of medieval religion and one of the main exemplars of the "feminine turn" in late medieval religious culture. Despite a hagiographical tradition and historiography that has placed Catherine at a mystic remove from the politics of her day, Catherine's public authority was shaped by politics, both locally in Siena and broadly within late-fourteenth-century contests between the papacy and the Republic of Florence for hegemony in central Italy.

In The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, F. Thomas Luongo combines literary-critical readings of Catherine's letters—she was the author of one of the largest collections of medieval letters—with political and social analysis. Drawing on a wide range of archival sources, Luongo investigates how Catherine's spiritual authority and sanctity were linked with contemporary political and cultural developments. He shows how the political situation of the church in Italy and a culture that privileged female spirituality and prophetic speech facilitated Catherine's emergence into a public role.

The Catherine who emerges from Luongo's well-written pages is a splendid example of what can result when a historian asks fresh questions about a familiar figure's life and brings new materials and methods to bear in formulating answers. The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena offers a woman more complex and interesting than the figure portrayed in most contemporary scholarship.

Title:The Saintly Politics of Catherine of SienaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:250 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.32 inPublished:January 19, 2006Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801443954

ISBN - 13:9780801443954

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Table of Contents


1. Catherine's Vocational Years: Worldliness and Female Sanctity

2. Catherine Enters Tuscan Politics: Networks and Letter Writing

3. Niccolò di Toldo and the Erotics of Political Engagement

4. Catherine’s Sienese famiglia: Pious Networks and Political Identities

5. Prophetic Politics: Catherine in the War of Eight Saints



Editorial Reviews

"F. Thomas Luongo establishes beyond question the influential roles played by Catherine of Siena's family and followers in the embattled worlds of Tuscan and ecclesiastical politics, confirming Catherine's centrality in Italian affairs during the key years of 1374–1378. In situating Catherine in her historical moment and defying hagiographic accounts dismissive of her public role, The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena helps us understand the enigma of the saint's authority: not so much how did Catherine get Christ's ear, but why did people think that she had it in the first place?"—Jane Tylus, New York University