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Localising collective devotion: The Bianchi of 1399 at Lucca and Pistoia

Lee, ARA; (2017) Localising collective devotion: The Bianchi of 1399 at Lucca and Pistoia. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London.

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The Bianchi of 1399, best described as a popular religious revival, spread throughout northern and central Italy in the second half of that year. Previous historiography has approached the movement as a unique and coherent phenomenon, generalising about the processions and practices of participants. This thesis challenges these presentations, demonstrating the importance of analysing local realisations of the collective devotion of the Bianchi. My focus on Lucca and Pistoia, two Tuscan hotbeds of Bianchi activity, indicates regional diversity within the Bianchi processions. Narrative, verse and visual sources are used in combination to discuss the brief but compulsive fervour of the Bianchi in 1399. I review the context for each town from 1340 to 1415 to establish a baseline of activities against which to compare the Bianchi processions. I examine the three dominant contemporary narratives concerning the Bianchi movement’s origins, addressing the variation between them. I analyse the practices of the Bianchi, focussing on three problematic examples: wearing white, singing laude and self-flagellation. I investigate the communal response to the Bianchi, revealing the different roles undertaken by lay and clerical authorities in orchestrating the processions. Finally, I survey the legacy of the Bianchi, underscoring the importance of local considerations in commemorating the Bianchi in the period immediately afterwards (c.1400-1415). My thesis challenges previous studies of the Bianchi, demonstrating the importance of understanding the processions at a local level. New insights are offered into the two different modes of participating in Bianchi devotions: intramural and itinerant processions, and the role of the authorities in managing this popular revival is revealed. I also address the plague of 1399-1400, exploring the interaction between the Bianchi and this outbreak. My study demonstrates that evaluating the local interpretations of the processions in each individual town is crucial in describing the collective devotions of the Bianchi.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Localising collective devotion: The Bianchi of 1399 at Lucca and Pistoia
Event: UCL (University College London
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
Keywords: Popular piety, confraternities, plague, History of Religion, Italy
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1546335
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