A political and intellectual portrait of Albertino Mussato

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McCabe, Aislinn
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University College Cork
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Albertino Mussato (1261-1329) was a Paduan poet, historian and politician whose Latin writings reveal a complex and ever-evolving political outlook and intellectual persona, examination of which is the central concern of this thesis. The chronological focus is upon the tumultuous years leading up to Mussato’s coronation, on 3rd December 1315, as poet laureate for his city, in a carefully choreographed ceremony that was designed to proclaim the revival of an honorary title which had not been used since the crowning of the poet Statius in Ancient Rome. Several months before this, Mussato had been driven out of this same city by a violent mob, fearing for his life. This rapid transition from one so hated, to one so celebrated, is reflective of his turbulent political career. It is the goal of this thesis to demonstrate how he depicted the course of his own career, from being an impecunious teenager of insignificant birth to becoming a celebrated poet and scholar, as well as an influential political figure. I argue that Mussato’s writings not only describe the variegated political and intellectual scene in which he lived, but are a key component of his political manoeuvers, both within and outside Padua, as he tried to navigate through the troubled waters of northern Italian politics to become a formidable political figure and a celebrated classical scholar. Accordingly, this thesis aims to construct the first ever fully-fledged account of the interaction between Mussato’s writings and his political career up to the point of his coronation. The objectives of this research are: to undertake the first sustained study in English of Mussato’s histories and poems; to examine the political positions that they articulate; and to place these writings in the context of Mussato’s actual decision-making and personal connections as a political figure. Deploying philological scholarship, literary analysis, and historical contextualisation, it demonstrates how the sources pertaining to Mussato’s life and career are part of an exercise in self-promotion and self-fashioning, intended to secure his position within factional politics, but rooted in a philosophical approach derived from his early classical studies. It is hoped that this will contribute to the further enrichment of our understanding of the multifarious and interwoven activities of scholars, poets, and politicians during the latter stages of the commune revolts, the Guelph-Ghibelline dispute in Italy, and the early stages of the resurgent classicism that would eventually lead to the politico-cultural phenomenon of the Italian renaissance.
Neo-Latin , History , Renaissance , Padua , Albertino Mussato , Lovato Lovati
McCabe, A. 2019. TA political and intellectual portrait of Albertino Mussatoitle. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.