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Mad Blood Stirring

, 240 pages

16 b&w illus.

May 1998



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Mad Blood Stirring

Vendetta and Factions in Friuli during the Renaissance

Winner of the Howard R. Marraro Prize for Italian History from the American Historical Association

Nobles were slaughtered and their castles looted or destroyed, bodies were dismembered and corpses fed to animals—the Udine carnival massacre of 1511 was the most extensive and damaging popular revolt in Renaissance Italy (and the basis for the story of Romeo and Juliet). Mad Blood Stirring is a gripping account and analysis of this event, as well as the social structures and historical conflicts preceding it and the subtle shifts in the mentality of revenge it introduced.

This new reader's edition offers students and general readers an abridged version of this classic work which shifts the focus from specialized scholarly analysis to the book's main theme: the role of vendetta in city and family politics. Uncovering the many connections between the carnival motifs, hunting practices, and vendetta rituals, Muir finds that the Udine massacre occurred because, at that point in Renaissance history, violent revenge and allegiance to factions provided the best alternative to failed political institutions. But the carnival massacre also marked a crossroads: the old mentality of vendetta was soon supplanted by the emerging sense that the direct expression of anger should be suppressed—to be replaced by duels.

Edward Muir is the Ver Steeg Professor of History at Northwestern University. He is the editor, with Guido Ruggiero, of Sex and Gender in Historical Perspective and Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe.

"A model study of how vendetta and political disorder related to one another... Superbly documented."

"An exceptional book accessible both to students and to general readers."

"A superbly researched book... The human detail is both vivid and coherent."

"Muir is one of the best microhistorians of our day... His careful analysis, persuasive reasoning, impressive documentation, and lively prose demand close and careful attention. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in early modern Italy, and more widely, for those who study social or microhistory."

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