Table of contents: The Republic of Florence (12th-16th CENTURY)-Election forms and the conception of community in Italian communes-Institutional Practices of the Florentine Republic-The Governing Class of Florence from 14th-15th Century-The Regime of Cosimo de' Medici on his arrival to power-The early years of the great Council of Florence Read More
Jean Boutier et Yves Sintomer
THE REPUBLIC OF FLORENCE (12th-16th CENTURY)
Historical and political issues
In the Middle-Age and the Renaissance, European communes have reinvented the political, namely a public debate on the polity with electoral and deliberative procedures that enable citizens to participate in the institutional politics. The Commune of Florence had a central position in this evolution, but this important period of the Occidental history tends to be neglected by French-speaking researchers, and especially by political scientists. This article introduces the issue of the Revue française de science politique on the political history of Florence, an issue that focuses on the electoral and decision-making procedures. The article underlines some of the most important dimensions of this history for the research on the political, much beyond the scholars who are specialized on Florentine history.
ELECTION FORMS AND THE CONCEPTION OF COMMUNITY IN ITALIAN COMMUNES
The article offers a synthesis of the evolution of the electoral techniques and of the conception of the community in the Italian communes between the 12th and the 14th century. The Italian communes were a place of an astonishing political imagination. They developed the "vote by compromise" with several steps, were together with the Church one of the sources of the majority vote and, from the 13th century onwards, developed massively the use of sortition. Several dimensions were important in these developments : social conflicts, procedural debates, and a normative conception that saw the voting systems as a tool for designating the most impartial, just and useful persons in the perspective of communal harmony – a conception quite different from the one that underlies elections in modern democracies.
INSTITUTIONAL PRACTICES OF THE FLORENTINE REPUBLIC
From the Regime del Popolo to the Electoral Reform 1282-1328
The reform of 1328 that modified the modalities of election to the highest functions of the city's executive, represents a significant moment in Florentine political-institutional history. The article first gives an overview of the institutional functioning of the city-state and then goes on to discuss the evolution of electoral practices based on the introduction of the magistracies of the Priory of Arts (1282). In a relatively short period, this established itself as the hub of the city's government. An analysis of such an evolution helps understand how the reform, though opening a new chapter in Florentine politics, was in fact an original assemblage of already existing elements in the local institutional tradition. It thus completed a long process of political experimentation in a series of clearly identified moments.
Laura De Angelis
THE GOVERNING CLASS OF FLORENCE FROM 14th-15th CENTURY
The article studies the dynamics of political power within Florence during the early Renaissance. Within a practically unchanged institutional framework as far as the big reforms of the first decades of the 14th century were concerned, the running of the City and the State was forcefully ensured by a ruling class still constituted by old urban families. This ruling class, by its numbers and by its social representation, promoted a new figure of the "professional" politicians that may be touched nearly a tenth of the male adult population of the city at the start of the 15th century.
THE REGIME OF COSIMO DE' MEDICI ON HIS ARRIVAL TO POWER (1434)
In 1434, Cosimo de' Medici returned to Florence after a year's exile in Venice. His reappearance marked the beginning of important political and institutional changes, which in the long term culminated in the installment of a principality (1530-1532). Nonetheless, the "moment of 1434" has not been the object of a historiographical consensus. The Medici's power still rested on the same group of privileged citizens, who formed the basis of political power since the 1380s. It did not bring about any immediate constitutional change, but instituted a regular recourse to extraordinary practices that transformed the reality of political practices. The paper raises the fundamental question of the bedrock of Florentine constitutionalism through a critical re-reading of Florentine political life from the 1380s to the 1450s.
THE EARLY YEARS OF THE GREAT COUNCIL OF FLORENCE (1494-1499)
This article analyses the complex evolution of the constitutional and electoral procedures and the debates about them during the first years of the Florentine Great Council, when the republican regime was reestablished after the fall of the Medici, at a time when Jerome Savonarola was very influential. Several dimensions were interlinked : fundamental reflections about the weight of the different social groups that were part of the Great Council or the supposed characteristics of election and sortition, tactical manoeuvres that were intended to procedurally promote such or such political camp, and practical concerns about the concrete organization of the debates (need to have an adequate room, need of reaching aquorum, etc.). It is only after some years that the sortition of the magistrates became a claim of the “popular” current and was eventually adopted.