The essays in this collection study conflict and continuity across the spectrum of political, jurisdictional, and spiritual traditions from late medieval Umbria and Tuscany to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Venice, Rome, and Castile. They point to a shared tradition of dispute and resolution in both ecclesiastical/spiritual and state/secular matters, whether of private conscience or public policy. Continuity of ideals, of problems, and of modes of resolution suggests that sharp breaks in legal, political, or religious ideals and behaviour were not as frequent and not as sharp as many historians have argued. These continuities emerge from a common methodological approach grounded in close, careful reading of key texts and their polyvalent terms. Whether those were the terms of civil or canon law, spirituality, or astrology, each author has had to grapple with their multiple possibilities, contexts, custom, and practice that reveal the shifts and continuities in their possible meanings. As Anthony Grafton's Foreword describes, he and the authors share a debt to the remarkable collaboration between Eric Cochrane (1928-1985) and Julius Kirshner, two leading scholars and teachers at the University of Chicago between 1970 and 1985. Lauro Martines—Cochrane and Kirshner's colleague and friend in Florentine history—examines the challenges and consequences of this emphasis on "contexts" in his incisive thoughts on historiographical practices in his Epilogue.
JOHN A. MARINO (University of California, San Diego) is the author of Pastoral Economics in the Kingdom of Naples (1988), has edited Early Modern Italy, 1550-1796 (2002) and Early Modern History and the Social Sciences: Testing the Limits of Braudel's Mediterranean (2002). He has also co-edited and co-translated Good Government in Spanish Naples (1990).
THOMAS KUEHN (Clemson University) is the author of Emancipation in Late Medieval Florence (1982), Law, Family & Women: Toward a Legal Anthropology of Renaissance Italy (1991), and Illegitimacy in Renaissance Florence (2002), and a co-editor of Time, Space, and Women's Lives in Early Modern Europe (2001).