• Federico Dallai

Student thesis: Phd


The University of ManchesterFederico DallaiDegree: Doctor of PhilosophyThesis title: FROM THE POOR BRIGADE TO THE GESUATI: POWER AND INSTITUTIONALIZATION IN THE MEDIEVAL CHURCH 1350-1470Date: 11/03/2012. Academical year: 2011/2012 This thesis will focus on the history of the Sienese 'Poor Brigade', and their founder, Giovanni Colombini. It will analyse events from the origins of the Brigade in 1355 down to 1470. During this period, Poor Brigade underwent a process of 'institutionalization' at the hands of the Church hierarchy. One of the main signs of this was a change of name: the Poor Brigade became the 'Gesuati'. This transformation developed over the course of the century or so under discussion, and was concluded in the work of a Gesuato, Antonio Bettini. My research will present the passage from the Poor Brigade to the Gesuati as the paradigmatic example of the new 'techniques of hegemony' used by the institutional hierarchy of the medieval church to 'domesticate' the radical charisma of leaders such as Colombini. In my view the Church applied these 'hegemonic strategies' to the Gesuati, transforming their identity to control the content of the credo of Colombini, which was potentially dangerous for the existence of ecclesiastical power itself. My work builds on a small but careful body of scholarship on the Gesuati, which dcouments their formation and development, but, in my view, misunderstands its significance. To establish a new view of the nature of the transformation from Poor Brigade to Gesuati, I have proceeded as follows. Having surveyed the primary sources and secondary literature, the thesis analyzes the content of the mysticĂ­sm of Colombini. His teaching is then compared to the main theological and devotional movements in the thirteenth and fourteenth century, underlining the differences and the similarities. Finally, the thesis turns to analyze the hegemonic strategies through which the Church hierarchy transformed the 'Poor Brigade' into the Gesuati. Bringing into the discussion theories of modern and contemporary philosophy, I will show how the late medieval Church anticipated many applications of contemporary political power.
Date of Award1 Aug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Fouracre (Supervisor)

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