Public Rituals In Renaissance Florence

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Public ritual in Renaissance Florence involved many actors and took many forms.1 Rituals could be civic rituals performed by the citizens of the city, or be primarily concerned with one family or group of people, whilst being displayed and made available to the public.2 Some rituals were popular rituals were anyone could participate. Public rituals had various purposes, the most important ones being reproducing hierarchies which conditioned the organisation of power within the Florentine polity, and ensuring civil peace and harmony.3 This was particularly important in Renaissance Florence as no one monarch ruled the city, and therefore no singular figure embodying authority and morality could be looked up to by the people. Keeping law and order…show more content…
1). The Continence of Scipio is a wood panel painted in tempera on a cassone, a traditional wedding chest, and was commissioned around 1643.12 The panel depicts an episode of ancient Roman history in a contemporary setting: general Scipio Africanus, depicted on the left hand side of the panel and identifiable thanks to his hat, is returning captive Lucretia to her Carthaginian fiancé.13 Several events constituting the Renaissance wedding procession are depicted here, the two most important ones are the display of the dowry on the left hand side of the panel, and musical festivities which publicise the union between the two families on the right hand side. The left side is a direct reference to the initial marriage negotiations between the family of the bride and groom.14 From the rich clothes worn by the figures involved in the procession and the dominance of gold on the panel, the procession appears as a staged ritual where the wealthy are giving themselves in spectacle to the poor, emphasising hierarchies within the Florentine society. In this regard, The Continence of Scipio is not only a simple depiction of public ritual in Renaissance Florence, it is the representation of a representation. Depicting rituals as it is done on…show more content…
This is interesting because these probably were the most important purposes of public rituals in Renaissance Florence and they can be found in the same ritual in 1513.26 Most importantly, the carnival of 1513 shows that the purposes of public rituals are not set in stone, but that they can change, and that change is heavily dependent on who organised and paid for the ritual. Because of the very nature of public rituals, this ambiguity between what is visible, that is the public ritual in itself, and what is invisible, that is the intentions behind the public ritual, reveals a form of social and political tension that the ritual is trying to feed or remedy to, depending on what their patrons
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