Governments of the Universitates: Urban Communities of Sicily in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
By Fabrizio Titone
The volume examines urban institutional transformations in late medieval Sicily, refuting established historiographic interpretations and demonstrating through a long-term analysis that distinct chronological divisions are not applicable to local governments characterized by both unmistakeable experimentation and marked continuity. This research highlights deformity as well as eventual common outcomes due to intense communication between cities. The steady pivotal role of the universitates in the equilibrium of the kingdom is borne out in the developments defining urban autonomy which often stemmed from decisional complementarity between sovereign and community. It was not rare for cities to influence royal policy and this explains one of the peculiarities of political pactism in Sicily: a sovereign’s concession responding to municipal solicitations might not be put into force because its duration was a function of the solidarity of the groups it benefited. A privilege, therefore, could be considered nullified by excluded parties without its requiring royal formalization.