It has often been observed that the greatest legacy of the Paris Commune of 1871 was its myth. In its short duration the Commune failed to transform Paris in any lasting way – even its supreme gesture of repudiation of the military traditions of the French past, the toppling of the Vendôme column, was to be reversed.
Portuguese Colonial Cities in the Early Modern World provides a nuanced investigation into cities with varying degrees of connection to the Portuguese empire during the 16th through the 18th centuries.
This text book aims to cover 150 years of European history from a perspective which desperately needs coverage: the perspective of the city.
In the words of its author, this engaging book ‘tells of the shadows of objects and of images in the brain and, as such, of the only realities that cannot entirely escape from appropriation’ (p. ix). The object in question is Florence, understood both as a material place and as a mythical construction.
Most medievalists would be able to cite an example of the close parallels in symbolic thinking about the city and world in the Middle Ages, whether along the lines of ideas of Rome as caput mundi or Augustine’s Two cities.
Political biography has a relatively minor part in medieval and renaissance Venetian historiography when compared to other European states – such as England – or Italy’s other major republic in the period, Florence.
The revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky famously proclaimed in his suicide note, ‘the love boat has crashed against byt.’ That the banal problems of everyday life (byt) had undermined the hopes of the Revolution has since been widely inferred in evaluations of the Soviet system.
Donald Filtzer has added another major book to his long and impressive contribution to the study of Soviet history. It is a formidably detailed analysis of urban living conditions during the late Stalinist period, from the closing stages of the Second World War to the death of Stalin in 1953. While it bears Professor Filtzer’s unmistakable mark, it is also something of a new departure.
Medieval Italian cities have frequently been the focus of international historical research. The particular qualities of the elites that emerged here were notably stressed by Marino Berengo in his classic book on the history of European towns.(1)
This splendid volume of essays addresses the late Philip Jones’s seminal contribution to the historiography of late medieval and early Renaissance Italy, and takes its title directly from his most well-known and influential article on the subject. Both the topic and the timing of this publication are propitious.