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  • Statuti e legislazione a Firenze dal 1355 al 1415: Lo statuto cittadino del 1409
  • Luci M. Fortunato
Lorenzo Tanzini . Statuti e legislazione a Firenze dal 1355 al 1415: Lo statuto cittadino del 1409. Bibliotheca Storica Toscana 45. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2004. vii + 332 pp. index. bibl. €33. ISBN: 88–222–5315–9.

Lorenzo Tanzini's first monograph, the outcome of research for his tesi di laurea at the Università di Firenze, offers a close examination of the normative Florentine Statutes of 1409, part of a longterm, intermittent endeavor by the Florentine Republic to revise its statutes and to define and stabilize the constitutional powers and functions of its government. The rationale of his topic of a restricted body of legal texts that redefined law and governmental powers in the early fifteenth century is placed in the context of later early modern interests in the improvement of government in Tuscany. The Trecento and early Quattrocento historical backdrop for this project was a series of crises and their aftermath which included factional discord within the Parte Guelfa, the disruptions of war against the papacy, the urban unrest of the Revolt of the Ciompi, the military threat of the Milanese despot Giangaleazzo Visconti, and the continued jockeying for power among politically-inclined members of the leading families of the city. The actual task to revise the statutes of 1355, while initiated in 1394, was completed only in 1409 and reelaborated with a somewhat different emphasis in 1415, only to be suspended in February 1417.

Tanzini's study proceeds chronologically. He attends to the selection, education, and intellectual orientation of the jurists who made up the draft commission, particularly Giovanni da Montegranaro, and he details their work, which drew upon Florentine statutes dating from 1322 and upon Roman law. A close textual explication of the document of 1409 itself, with careful attention to how it drew upon and deviated from statutory precedents from 1322 through 1355, follows. In discussing the Statutes of 1409 Tanzini comments upon the roles of the governmental councils, legislative procedures, and the suspension of laws, the responsibilities of ambassadors (which are both broader and more extensively articulated than their medieval precedents), election rules, the roles of Otto di Guardia, of the Dieci di Balia, and the reiteration and reoriented application of the Ordinances of Justice. Among Tanzini's important observations is the enormous [End Page 490] amount of work that went into gathering, assimilating, and modifying over sixty years of provision and reports. The 1409 document, he claims, is configured as an autobiography of Trecento Florence because of the chronological ordering of the collected norms and rubrics that led up to it. The statutes, further, reveal changes in the political and constitutional realities of the republic; whereas offices and titles on the surface seem to have remained constant, in reality they changed significantly, often in response to political problems and unrest. The highlighted role of the Gonfaloniere, the Signoria, and councils, the heavy emphasis on deliberative procedures, and the reconceptualization of the anti-Magnati Ordinances of Justice as provisions for the defense of the state, and therefore necessary for the conduct of government, are but a few examples.

As Tanzini describes it, "The code of 1409 is fundamentally a collection of legislation, not only in the sense that it is constituted of particular laws placed together, but also insofar as the nature of power that it expresses is fundamentally that of a great legislative activity. It is an aspect that is worth underlining, because no preceding statute has configured so clearly the institutional power of the civic institutions as the products of laws" (197, my translation). In the preface to the book it is precisely this duality that Riccardo Fubini identifies as the major insight of Tanzini's research and as the primary reason for the failure of the Statutes of 1409: "The Statutes failed because of their contradictory intent to be at one and the same time a statute and a constitutional project" (xi, my translation). The constitutional aspects, the reader is reminded both by Fubini and by the book's author, would provide a basis for later efforts to design politico-juridical blueprints from...


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pp. 490-491
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