Oren Margolis
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The Gaulish past of Milan and the French invasion of Italy
in Local antiquities, local identities
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The foundation myths of late medieval cities and states were never simply about origins: they were above all about destiny. In the fifteenth century, the combination of humanist methods and models, newly available source materials, and changing domestic and international political circumstances provided the impetus for the continued development of these myths as well as the creation of new ones. Yet even in Italy, not all eyes looked to Rome. The Carolingian foundation myth of Florence, in which Charlemagne’s supposed rebuilding of the city was used to explain the pro-French orientation of the commune and its Guelph elite, is perhaps the best-known of these myths, but it is also an example of an Italian city defining itself in relation to a foreign power. This essay focuses on another element of Quattrocento myth-making culture: the treatment of northern Italy’s Gaulish past in the writings of some of the region’s humanists (e.g. Antonio Cornazzano and Alberto Cattaneo), and the role of these writings in Franco-Milanese relations before and during the outbreak of the Italian Wars and the French domination of Milan.

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Local antiquities, local identities

Art, literature and antiquarianism in Europe, c. 1400–1700


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