The Ceremonial City

History, Memory and Myth in Renaissance Venice

Iain Fenlon

View Inside Price: $50.00


February 26, 2008
464 pages, 246 x 170
120 b/w + 50 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300119374
Cloth

This wide-ranging study vividly presents the major events that took place in Venice in the 1570s, culminating in a deadly outbreak of the plague that claimed one-quarter of the Venetian population. Analyzing reactions to this dramatic decade, Iain Fenlon throws fresh light on the historical machine that produced the distinct civic and cultural ethos of the city and uncovers new aspects of its urban topography, ceremony, and cultural life.

At the heart of the book is a detailed account of four historical events: the formation of the Holy League, a coalition that brought the Republic into conflict with the Ottoman Empire; the victory of that League against the Turkish fleet at the battle of Lepanto; the ceremonial welcoming of Henry III of France to the city in 1574; and the devastating plague of 1575–77. The author considers how these events, above all the victory at Lepanto, were reconfigured in the realms of memory and myth, and he describes in detail a religious matrix that provides the key to the civic ethos of the city in this era.

Iain Fenlon is professor of historical musicology in the faculty of music, Cambridge, and is a fellow of King's College, Cambridge.

"The book's shimmering surface is matched by the depth of its insights. In this 20-year labor of love, Fenlon show us how processions . . . were spectacles with a purpose: ornate reminders to everyone of the social order. . . . Citizens saw their city's greatness in everything. . . . Did Venetians believe in a special providence? With God hovering over their entire society, how could they not?"—Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times

"Yale University Press has established itself as the premier publisher of beautiful academic books, and Iain Fenlon's new study of Venetian ceremonial life is indeed beautiful. Sumptuously illustrated, the book is nevertheless a serious work of scholarship by a well-known historian of music." —Edward Muir, Renaissance Quarterly

‘Very informative and generously illustrated book…The production and editing of this book seem impeccable.’ — D.S. Chambers, Burlington Magazine, March 2010