Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta in Renaissance Italy

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Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta in Renaissance Italy
Book Response

Written by Edward Muir, this powerful microhistory analyses the events during 1511 in the town of Friuli, Italy at the time of the carnival. Muir’s thesis for his book, Mad Blood Stirring comes together in separate parts throughout his introduction. Firstly, Muir attempts to establish the importance of the Venetian rule over the province and people of Friuli and its capital city, Udine. Due to its geographical location, this part of Italy was essential to the country to protect due to risk of invasion and trading posts. Muir emphasises Friuli’s larger place in the politics of Italy, as well as an important part of the European principalities developed in the early modern period. The population of Friuli faced many obstacles in their daily life, such as the Venetian wartime taxation, oppression from local lords, the strain of a mixed group of people, as well as a broad financial decline. During this time Friuli became the birthplace of the type of feud known as the vendetta, which involved a blood feud between families or factions. Particularly in Friuli politics were divided between the two major family factions of the Savorgnan family and the Della Torre family. With all these different factors contributing to the wide scale outbreak of violence, Muir takes them all into consideration while conducting a systematic analysis of the social structure, economy, institutional and political history, and particularly the riot at the carnival of 1511. Overall, Muir sets out to answer the question of why the carnival was so explosive and what caused its events to be so cruel and revolting.

Muir’s microhistory looks at many broad themes in its mission to examine the role of vendetta and factions in Italian and family politics, contributing to peasant revolt, the nature of the culture of population within the state and the incidents at the Carnival. To begin, Muir offers an anaylsis of the change in...
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