Early Capitalism and Class Struggle in Florence at the End of the XIIIth and in the XIVth Centuries
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Early Capitalism and Class Struggle in Florence at the End of the XIIIth and in the XIVth Centuries
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A discussion on the pages of the quarterly “Middle Ages” from 1953—1955 is reviewed in this paper with respect to the book of V.I. Rutenburg “A Study from the History of Early Capitalism in Italy” (1951). Approaches of Soviet historians to this matter are confronted with contemporary ones, the ways of their evolution in the context of “historism” are considered. In the center of discussion was the question whether the elements of capitalist way of production in Italian cities, first of all in Florence, were a progressive phenomenon, or, under old economic conditions, they brought to a deadlock. In spite of external scholasticism of their discourse, participants of the discussion, among them A. N. Chistozvonov, appealed to the same principles of scientific history which are still actual today: they called upon to base the research on the concrete historic reality and practically refused the use of Marx-Engels quotations as main and decisive arguments. The second part of the paper deals with the question of a gradual shift of the scholar interest towards the problems concerning human subjectivity and variability of the course and description of historical processes. Studies of L. M. Batkin, one of participants of the discussion on the early capitalism, who began at that time to prepare a work dealt with the social context of the Dante’s “Commedia”, give one of the examples. Batkin published a number of papers where he considered class and politic struggle in Florence on the base of the XIVth century cronicles, among others, that of Dino Compagni. The book on Dante issued in 1965 raised another debate still focused on the social character of poet’s views (if they were rather bourgeois or aristocratic). But at the same time the author of the book declared about the “limits of sociologic method” and passed to other ones which in future led him to an analysis of the thinking style of Italian humanists and of the Renaissance as a particular culture type. Scholarly evolution of L. M. Batkin is a striking example of trends in the development of Soviet humanities which carved their way in the 60—70's of the past century, although facing difficulties within existing ideological restrictions.
Italy, Florence, Dino Compagni, class struggle, early capitalism, Soviet historians
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