<<Noi siamo cittadini e voi forestiere>>: perceptions of foreignness in late-medieval and Renaissance Florence

McClelland, Neil (2021) <<Noi siamo cittadini e voi forestiere>>: perceptions of foreignness in late-medieval and Renaissance Florence. MRes thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Research on the socio-economic element of immigration to late-medieval and Renaissance Florence has cultivated detailed understandings of Florence’s economy, but with less interest in more cultural considerations of foreignness. Yet perceptions of foreignness contribute substantially to self-identification. Studying primarily chronicles and diaries, and secondarily novelle and poetry, this thesis attempts to examine Florentine perceptions of foreignness, c.1300-c.1520, concentrating on perceptions of non-Florentine Italians.

We first inquire what was foreign to Florentines, analysing where geographically sources indicated when using words translatable as foreign/foreigner(s). We then consider indicators of foreignness. Sources reinforce ‘Florentine’ by negatively marking perceived national characters, which were thought nurtured through political traditions, materially expressed through clothing styles, and further expressed through language. We detect a Florentine self-confidence, as the Florentine vernacular and republic contemporaneously gained respective pan-Italian and regional primacy. Perceptions of foreignness thus contributed to intersecting Florentine national and socio-political self-identities.

Foreign people were sometimes actively encouraged and could receive privileges unavailable to Florentines. However, anti-immigrant sentiment reflects Florentines reacting against unprecedented thirteenth-century immigration and immigrants’ naturalisation. Yet anti-immigrant polemics targeted artisanal and working-class immigrants, and anti-foreigner legislation reflects elite attempts to undermine popular politics. Again, perceptions of foreignness contributed to intersecting class and political identities. Perceptions of foreign soldiers, officials, and displaced persons are also discussed. A trend appears, whereby foreigners are sometimes invited to Florence when Florentines perceive their utility, yet having fulfilled that utility they lose their privileges and sometimes experience local opposition.

Future comparative research between perceptions of foreignness in republican Florence and aristocratic republics or principalities would illuminate late-medieval and Renaissance Italian self-identification. Furthermore, future research might compare how perceptions of foreignness contribute to our own self-identification, for these perceptions affect foreign people’s treatment at ‘our’ hands.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DG Italy
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Cohn, Professor Samuel
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82552
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2021 15:26
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2021 15:35
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82552
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82552

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