‘Renaissance’ is a multifaceted and difficult concept: from Vasari to Burckhardt it has been characterised and used in many ways, and its story, both in Italian history and in Western ideology, has been often connected to ‘modernity’ and ‘state-building’. However, if we look at the Renaissance as a political phenomenon, we are forced to admit that, despite their role in ‘inventing’ a cultural Renaissance, the political weakness of the Italian powers pulled them out of the mainstream towards the so-called modern State. The present essay aims at looking at the recent research on the medieval and early modern Italian peninsula in order to investigate some aspects and facets of the historiographical debate that is at once decomposing the main grand narrative around the building of the ‘modern’ state, and rediscovering a ‘political’ Renaissance.
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