POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Republic Of Venice

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27 Mar 2012
Lecture 7 Renaissance (Florence contra Venice) and Democratic Revolutions
Not historical detail, but what democracy meant, the concepts
Middle ages, god is the center of the world, what will count is after death
Renaissance break general configuration of middle ages, rediscover Greece and Rome
Changes in philosophy, see return of centrality of man and mankind, humanism, put
man at the back of all things
Da Vinci, painter must paint 2 things, man and ideas in man’s head
Man are inherently worthy inevitably have to turn to democracy
Return to centrality of man and democracy will be observed in city republics of
1. Florence is animated by spirits that puts great emphasis on political participation
o We should do everything we can to fulfill the nature that men are political
o Spirit of the time is political participation civic humanism, republicanism
2. Florence is extremely divided, social division
o 5 division + guild system
Political institution of Florence will be in constant evolution and change (we have to
2 prolonged periods of democracy, interrupted by Medicis
o Period 1: 1328 1434; Period 2: 1494 1512; Manin+: 1527 1530
Politics of Florence will be torn between internal dissent and factionalism (rivalry
between different political groups, motivated by particular good not common group)
Florence created mechanism to neutralize the effects of factionalism (might lead to civil
war) Also present in Athens:
1. lottery system used to designate public office holders
2. rotation of public office holders
New mechanism to deal with conflict: scrutiny (squittinio), pick among the best
People who wanted to be in lot will first be scrutinized by pre-selection committee
(nominatoris), then, have to be elected by another committee through voting lot, can
be drawn to hold public office
Two tier process designed to scrutinize
In the 14th century, access to politics were in part controlled by old nobility, ottimati
control the nominatori , have the power to approve or reject candidates going to 2nd
2nd committee was composed of people drawn by lot
nominatori limit to democracy, limit to the depth and quality
If nominatori is overly partisan, it will defeat the purpose of mechanism to neutralize
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