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Venice As the Polity of Mercy : Guilds, Confraternities, and the Social Order, C. 1250-c.1650
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This study re-examines the political economy of Venice from the point of view of the hundreds of corporations which ordinary people – despite their apparent ‘exclusion’ from political life – organized and ran for themselves. Mercy was central to their Christian values. Those who offered mercy to their brethren – and sisters – in temporary hardship were investing in the expectation of reciprocity in their own time of need. Venice, Polity of Mercy traces a formative linking of economy, polity and religion in the thirteenth century, then the expansion and extension of a network of overlapping institutions in the fourteenth and fifteenth. There followed a dislocation during the struggles of Church and State between the mid-sixteenth century and the mid-seventeenth, and a revitalizing reconnection of economy and polity in a different religious climate after the plague of 1630. The book offers a picture of circulation and movement rather than of stability and continuity, and a new understanding of the significance of Venice through a reconfiguration of Venetian history and the history of Venetian art.