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Living on the Edge in Leonardo's FlorenceSelected Essays$
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Gene Brucker

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241343

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241343.001.0001

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“The Horseshoe Nail”

“The Horseshoe Nail”

Structure and Contingency in Medieval and Renaissance Italy

(p.62) Chapter Four “The Horseshoe Nail”
Living on the Edge in Leonardo's Florence

Jeff Mielke

University of California Press

This chapter discusses the role of contingency in Italian history. It also discusses the role of some major figures in Italy's religious and cultural life. How for instance, would the peninsula's religious experience have been different if Francis of Assisi had died of pneumonia after stripping his clothes and giving them to his father? How would Italian culture have developed if Dante had been seized and executed after his death sentence by Florentine Guelfs in 1302? What if Petrarch had succumbed to the plague in Avignon in 1348, instead of his beloved Laura? After considering the possible outcomes of these events, the chapter then considers how the history of Renaissance art might have been different if Masaccio, Donatello, Brunelleschi, da Vinci, and Giotto had died before reaching their teens, which was the fate of most of the Italian children born in these years.

Keywords:   Italian history, Renaissance, religious life, cultural life

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