The Benefits of Peace: Private Peacemaking in Late Medieval Italy


In The Benefits of Peace: Private Peacemaking in Late Medieval Italy Glenn Kumhera offers the first comprehensive account of private peacemaking, weaving together its legal, religious, political and social meanings across several cities (13th-15th centuries). The ability of peacemaking to hinder criminal prosecution has often been considered the result of government powerlessness. Kumhera, however, examines the benefits of private peacemaking, detailing how its flexibility was crucial in creating a viable criminal justice system that emphasized violence prevention and recognition of jurisdiction while allowing space for friends, neighbors and clergy to intervene. Additionally, he explores the roles of women and clergy in peacemaking, how peace operated in a vendetta culture and how the medieval understanding of reconciliation affected the practice of peacemaking.

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Glenn Kumhera, Ph.D. (2005), University of Chicago, is Assistant Professor of History at Penn State University, The Behrend College. He has published on peace and peacemaking legislation in Siena.
"Kumhera deftly sets out a series of contexts and categories in which medieval peacemaking occurred in the medieval Italian peninsula, demonstrating that each must be incorporated when thinking about a definition of peacemaking. He highlights important chronological shifts alongside regional peculiarities. This excellent book provides a detailed analysis alongside pertinent case studies, and a deeper insight into the complicated practices of private peacemaking in medieval Italy."
Alexandra Lee, in Reviews in History, review no. 2195. Date accessed: 20 November 2017. Click here.

"By attempting to consider his questions on an Italian rather than local scale, Kumhera has taken on a challenging task. His commitment to precision and acknowledgement of complexity prevents his book from becoming simply a general meditation on how strong communal governments were or weren't, or how violent communal societies may or may not have been. This is to the good. Instead, the book makes important, specific arguments about the nature of private peacemaking in general, and its benefits in both Siena and Rome. Comparison with material from other cities makes it clear that when it comes to peacemaking Italy was, as in so many things, a patchwork quilt of diverse localities, each of which has to be considered on its own. Yet for all that diversity, peacemaking took place within an Italy characterized by a great many common structures and dynamics. Growing communal power, status-seeking elites, and a complex, multifaceted ideology of peace were common everywhere. Kumhera's book is an excellent guide to thinking about peacemaking in light of such things and any scholar who seeks to understand the phenomenon as encountered in their own research would do well to look to it as a guide. The wealth of information provided, and its careful contextualization, make this book a welcome tool for anyone interested in peacemaking, then, but also for those working in late medieval Italian legal culture, the relationship between cities and countryside, and the development of late medieval states and their institutions."
James Palmer, in The Medieval Review, 17.11.13. Date accessed: 11 December 2017. Click here.

''provides a thoughtful addition to the studies on violence, legal culture, and peacemaking in premodern Italy and Europe. Kumhera’s command of the archival sources is impressive and his ability to weave nuanced arguments that give credit to opposing views is imitable.''
John M.Hunt, in Renaissance Quarterly 71 (2).
Acknowledgements vii
Abbreviations ix
A Note on Usage x
Introduction 1
1 Peace and Concord 16
The Meanings of Peace 16
The Attraction of Peace: Features of the Instrumentum Pacis 28
Finding Conflict in a Peace 37
The Importance of Peace: Statutory Penalties for Peace-Breaking 54
2 Peacemaking in the Criminal Courts 59
Jurists and Statutes on Peacemaking and Procedure 61
A Case Study: Peacemaking and Denunciations in the
Sienese Contado 71
Peacemaking in Inquests Launched by Fama 86
The Use of Peace in Courts into the Quattrocento 89
3 Peacemaking and the Criminal Ban 93
Peacemaking’s Role in Rebannimentum 96
Rebannimentum Petitions and Amnesties 100
Peace and Prison Release 113
4 Placing the Public in Private Peacemaking 122
Between Public and Private Peacemaking 123
The Scene of Peace 128
Procurators and Peacemaking 135
Peacemaking through Friends 142
Arbitration and Peacemaking 146
5 Ecclesiastical Involvement in Peacemaking 156
Preaching Peace and Popular Peace Movements 157
Chief Ecclesiastics and Institutions in Peacemaking 165
Priests, Rectors, and Monks in Everyday Peacemaking 169
6 Performing Peace in Medieval Rome 175
7 Women and Minors in Peacemaking 204
Marriage as an Element of Peacemaking 205
Women in Peacemaking 212
Minors and Peacemaking 226
8 Assessing Peacemaking 235
The Motives for Peace 235
The Effectiveness of Peacemaking 247
Conclusion 255
Appendix A: Map 259
Appendix B: Tables 260
Bibliography 269
Index of Names 298
Index of Places 307
Index of Subjects 310
Anyone interested in medieval and Renaissance Italy, the intersection of legal and social history, the history of criminal justice, ritual, penance, notarial culture, violence and conflict resolution.
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