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Architecture, Piety, and Political Identity in a Tuscan City-State

Alick M. McLean

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $75.00
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This handsome book recounts the historical development of one city republic, Prato in Tuscany, from the eleventh through the fourteenth century. In telling the story of Prato’s origins, construction, and demise, Alick McLean considers the planning, art, architecture, politics, faith, and daily life of Prato and its citizens, showing how major historical events and trends in the Italian middle ages were experienced within the architecture and streetscapes of this particular place.


McLean’s meticulous research is supported by a rich array of stunning new photography, plans, and maps. Together they provide a clear picture of what differentiates Italy's medieval communes from its ancient cities: the interest in economic growth rather than exclusively centralized military and administrative hegemony. This history of urban form in Prato shows how the commune sought to fashion a democratic version of urban life, one based primarily on rational, systematic, and legislative order, rather than religious belief and private interests, and it examines what happened to that experiment


Alick M. McLean teaches medieval architecture and European and Mediterranean urban history at Syracuse University in Florence.

“Deftly researched and well-illustrated . . . painstakingly and cogently constructed with a sharp eye to urban architecture and space . . . McLean’s book exhorts its readers both to rethink assumptions and ponder new material. His whole text is a moving affirmation of the distinctiveness of the urbanistic project of Prato and will endure as a source of information and analysis.”—Flavio Boggi, The Burlington Magazine

"Lavishly illustrated. . . . McLean expands out knowledge of medieval Italy's spatial practices. . . . Italianists, medievalists, and scholars of urbanism and architectural iconography will find new information and stimulating interpretations in McLean’s impressive study."—Areli Marina, Speculum--A Journal of Medieval Studies

"Provides thoughtfully presented and stimulating contributions that will no doubt provide important points of reference."—Miles Pattenden, The Journal of Urban History
ISBN: 9780300137149
Publication Date: November 25, 2008
250 pages, 8 1/2 x 10
102 b/w + 32 color