The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena (Hardback)F. Thomas Luongo (author)
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Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) has become a defining figure in the history of medieval religion and one of the main exemplars of the "feminine turn" in late medieval religious culture. Despite a hagiographical tradition and historiography that has placed Catherine at a mystic remove from the politics of her day, Catherine's public authority was shaped by politics, both locally in Siena and broadly within late-fourteenth-century contests between the papacy and the Republic of Florence for hegemony in central Italy.
In The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, F. Thomas Luongo combines literary-critical readings of Catherine's letters-she was the author of one of the largest collections of medieval letters-with political and social analysis. Drawing on a wide range of archival sources, Luongo investigates how Catherine's spiritual authority and sanctity were linked with contemporary political and cultural developments. He shows how the political situation of the church in Italy and a culture that privileged female spirituality and prophetic speech facilitated Catherine's emergence into a public role.
The Catherine who emerges from Luongo's well-written pages is a splendid example of what can result when a historian asks fresh questions about a familiar figure's life and brings new materials and methods to bear in formulating answers. The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena offers a woman more complex and interesting than the figure portrayed in most contemporary scholarship.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 244
Weight: 539 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 22 mm
"This is an important book. Luongo examines the career of Catherine of Siena... in a new light and offers a picture of Catherine that diverges from those presented by her hagiographers,... biographers, and more recently, scholars of medieval women's religiousness.... Luongo's portrayal of Catherine is exciting and compelling: exciting in revealing the intrigue and danger in which Catherine actively participated, compelling in its evidence and interpretation.... The book unquestionably stands as a major contribution to the history of medieval Christianity."-- Anne L. Clark * Church History *
"F. Thomas Luongo establishes beyond question the influential roles played by Catherine of Siena's family and followers in the embattled worlds of Tuscan and ecclesiastical politics, confirming Catherine's centrality in Italian affairs during the key years of 1374-1378. In situating Catherine in her historical moment and defying hagiographic accounts dismissive of her public role, The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena helps us understand the enigma of the saint's authority: not so much how did Catherine get Christ's ear, but why did people think that she had it in the first place?"-- Jane Tylus, New York University
"This is a brilliant and important book. It undertakes, in a highly convincing fashion, a radical reinterpretation of the career of one of the most important figures in medieval religious history. F. Thomas Luongo's rereading of Catherine's letters in the context of local and papal politics is highly compelling and he deftly explains why-through the hagiographical writings of her biographers and through modern interpretive agendas-Catherine has been consistently extracted from this political context. There is no comparable book: the research here is groundbreaking."-- Maureen Miller, University of California, Berkeley
"With his archival findings and his incisive reading of her marvelous letters, F. Thomas Luongo casts Catherine of Siena's dramatic public career in an entirely fresh light. The result is quite simply the best book in English on this flamboyant saint, and the most successful effort in any language to situate Catherine in her social and political context."-- Daniel Bornstein, Texas A&M University