The struggle that the commune of Florence sustained against the rural lords of the territory she wanted to subdue was not only of a political and military nature. It had indeed a cultural-political side, since it corresponded to the elaboration of the notion of the rural lord as a political ‘other’, strange to and incompatible with the political culture of the city. This is a Florentine peculiarity, since even in other Tuscan city communes, like Siena or Pisa, the cultural attitude towards rural lords and rural lordship was different and much less negative. This paper will examine the reasons for that peculiarity and the differences between the consideration of rural lords and lordships in the major Tuscan cities.
From the 13th century onwards, the laity got increasingly involved in the care for the sick and poor by donating money to institutions involved in poor relief. In Bruges and the rest of the southern Low Countries, these were often the poor tables, institutions that provided money, food, and other necessities for the parish poor. Was this an act of true solidarity with those who were less fortunate, or was the motivation egocentric, and were the donors trying to increase their social standing while taking care of their immortal soul? By examining the foundations and donations made by individuals with some of the poor tables of Bruges, I hope to shed a new light on this old but ongoing debate.
The Westminster Chronicle is dominated by a spiritual and institutional focus, but it presents a flexible idea of ‘the other’. In the process of constructing Westminster Abbey as the spiritual head of the realm I propose that the chronicler described the spiritual lords in opposition to the secular lords. This representation of secular lords as ‘the other’ was used when convenient and easily laid aside when the chronicler had need. At times the secular and spiritual lords could, in the Westminster chronicler’s view, unite against common enemies such as the king’s ‘wicked advisers’. Ultimately though, the chronicler favoured the abbey itself above both secular and spiritual lords.