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Title: The theme of conspiracy in fifteenth-century Italian humanist literature
Author: Celati, Marta Bianca Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 9591
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This study investigates fifteenth-century Italian humanist literature that deals with the topic of conspiracy, focusing on the most important texts that contain accounts of political plots. This thesis identifies for the first time a 'thematic genre' of monographic works devoted to this specific political theme: an output that consists of texts belonging to different literary genres and that enjoyed widespread diffusion in the second half of the Quattrocento, when the development of this strand of literature proves to be closely connected with the emergence of a centralized political ideology in Italian states. The first chapter of the thesis provides a general introduction to the theme of conspiracy in humanist literature, defining this 'thematic' genre and contextualizing it in the historical background of 1400s. Then, the following chapters focus on the most significant works on fifteenth-century political plots which are examined as case studies: Orazio Romano's epic poem Porcaria (ch. 2) and Leon Battista Alberti's epistle Porcaria coniuratio (1453) (ch. 3); Giovanni Pontano's historical work De bello Neapolitano (1465-1503) (ch. 4); and Angelo Poliziano's Coniurationis commentarium (1478) (ch. 5). The four main chapters provide an in-depth examination of each work, from a historical, stylistic, and critical perspective, illustrating the circumstances of compositions, the influence of the classical legacy on the texts and the process of imitation performed by the authors. This textual analysis shows the political perspectives that inform these works and the narrative strategies adopted by the humanists to represent the historical events and deal with the burning issue of conspiracies. The final chapter (Conclusions), as a comparative study, traces the overall evolution of the issue of conspiracies in humanist literature and points out the recurring patterns, narrative approaches and political angles that characterize the literary transfiguration of this topic. These texts reveal the growth of a new princely ideology in that period and unveil the significant interplay between historiographical, political, and literary elements in shaping this aspect of political thought, allowing us to trace the development of a blossoming theory of statecraft that had a significant influence also on the idea of modern state. The texts are published in the Appendix of the thesis and are followed by apparatuses which illustrate thoroughly the classical models used by the authors. The texts and apparatuses act as a support for the critical study in the preceding chapters.
Supervisor: McLaughlin, Martin Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available