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Mad Blood Stirring
by Edward Muir
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Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0801858496, Paperback)On a winter morning in 1511, the first day of Carnival, a thousand militiamen entered the northern Italian city of Udine. Weary after a long campaign of battling German raiders, the soldiers began to drink--and then to brawl, and eventually to loot and burn the palaces of the wealthy. The peasants of the surrounding countryside joined in, and before long some 50 noblemen had been murdered, setting in chain a wave of reprisals through the Mediterranean blood-avenging system called vendetta. In this vigorously told reconstruction of those events, Edward Muir shows the powerful possibilities of the mentalités school of history, in which the attitudes and beliefs of historical actors are given as much due as other social and economic forces. While admitting that the events in Udine were a sideshow in a much larger struggle between the peasantry and the nobility in early modern Europe, Muir throws them into sharp relief; what was important to the actors in that drama was not the big picture of contemporary affairs but a specific code of manners in which manhood was declared violently. For them, "death was neither accidental nor natural but was the result of a fight between phantom forces composed of the shades of the dead who enacted revenge among humans by employing living agents." Those agents visited northern Italy with a vengeance, and anyone interested in Renaissance history will want to read Muir's account of their actions. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 14 Apr 2011 07:46:14 -0400)
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