Lay confraternities and youth education in Renaissance Italy. The Grassi and Taverna schools of Milan, in “History of Education and Children’s Literature”, III (2008), n.1, pp. 15-32

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Lay confraternities and youth education in Renaissance Italy. The Grassi and Taverna schools of Milan, in “History of Education and Children’s Literature”, III (2008), n.1, pp. 15-32

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  1. The marginal role of youth confraternities in Milan During the last centuries of the Middle Ages, youth confraternities werespread over many Italian and European towns. These associations were meet-ing places where young people could shape moral and spiritual training andsocialize 1 . But such confraternities were not established in Milan, at least ashistorical evidences tell us. For the communal period (XI-XIII th centuries), localnarrative sources document the presence of youth groups, belonging to theupper municipal class, which had knightly characteristics 2 . Sometimes, these * The paper was first published in Italian under the title Confraternite e giovani a Milano nel Quattrocento , «Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia», LVII (2003), pp. 65-84. I wish to thank theeditor of the review, prof. Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, for his kind permission to publish thismaterial in Hecl, and prof. David M. D’Andrea for his many helpful suggestions. 1 For an introduction to this vast topic see G.C. Pola Falletti-Villafalletto, Associazioni gio-vanili e feste antiche. Loro srcini, 4 vols., Torino, Comitato di difesa dei fanciulli, 1939-1942; J.Rossiaud, Le confraternite giovanili , in G. Gemelli, M. Malatesta (eds.), Forme di sociabilità nellastoriografia francese contemporanea , Milano, Feltrinelli, 1982, pp. 140-176; I. Taddei  , Associa-zioni giovanili fra tardo medioevo e prima età moderna: metamorfosi di una forma tradizionale especificità del caso fiorentino , «Annali di storia moderna e contemporanea», 3, 1997, pp. 225-241. See also G. Levi, J.C. Schmitt (eds.), Storia dei giovani , I, Dall’antichità all’età moderna ,Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1994. 2 As in other coeval contexts: G. Duby, Dans la France du Nord-Ouest au XII  e siècle: les‘ieunes’ dans la société aristocratique , «Annales ESC», 19, 1964, pp. 835-846; F. Cardini, Concet-to di cavalleria e mentalità cavalleresca nei romanzi e nei cantari fiorentini , in I ceti dirigenti nella «History of Education & Children’s Literature»,III,1 (2008),pp.15-32ISSN 1971-1093 (print)/ISSN 1971-1131 (online) © 2008 eum (Edizioni Università di Macerata,Italy) Lay Confraternities and youth education in Renaissance Italy.The Grassi and taverna schools of Milan * Marina Gazzini  groups were similar to political paramilitary organizations, as was the case of the Società dei Gagliardi (that could be translated as the Vigorous Man Soci-ety), that in 1201 picked up the electi iuvenes , sons of the feudal families boundto the Nobility Party «hating» the Populus , the People’s Party, and its society,named Credenza di Sant’Ambrogio (Saint Ambrogio Council) 3 . Even the Cre-denza di Sant’Ambrogio had its paramilitary organization: the Società dei Forti (Strong Man Society) 4 , but in this case it was not specifically limited to youngmembers. It should be stated that, in this earlier phase, youth associations weretypical expressions of aristocratic entourage 5 . Indeed, young noble and Populi paramilitary organizations were often just part of symbolic rituals, reproduc-ing in bloodless combats the opposition of the two leading social parties 6 .Historical evidence also describes young people of Milan in military train-ing and taking part in sport games and tournaments 7 , in separated locationsfrom adults 8 , but do not specify if these activities were managed inside orga-nized groups. Through military training, young people were introduced to a Toscana tardo medievale , Firenze 5-7 dicembre 1980, Monteoriolo, F. Papafava, 1983, pp. 157-192(pp. 173 ff.); S. Gasparri, I ‘milites’ cittadini. Studi sulla cavalleria in Italia , Roma, ISIME, 1992,pp. 31 ff. About chivalry see J. Flori, Chevaliers et chevalerie au Moyen Age , Paris 1998 (it. tr. Cavalieri e cavalleria nel medioevo , Torino, Einaudi, 1999). 3 Galvano Fiamma, Chronicon maius , A. Ceruti (ed.), Torino 1896 (Miscellanea di Storia Ita-liana, 7), pp. 506-773: «tum pars nobilium fecit ex electis iuvenibus unam societatem, que dicta estsocietas Galliardorum in odium populi et Credentie» (p. 748); «societas Galiardorum nobilibusparentelis confecta» (p. 752). 4 Ibid  . «Facta fuit quedam societas ex popularibus et ex illis de Credentia pro custodia carro-ceri, que dicta fuit societas Fortium» (p. 764). About birth-day and social composition of societasFortium see F. Menant, La transformation des institutions et de la vie politique milanaises audernier age consulaire (1186-1216) , in Atti dell’XI congresso internazionale di studi sull’altoMedioevo, Milano 26-30 ottobre 1987  , Spoleto 1989, I, pp. 113-144 (p. 128). 5 Popular governments, in fact, limited societates iuvenumand societates militum as well. SeeE. Crouzet-Pavan, Un fiore del male: i giovani nelle società urbane italiane (secoli XIV-XV) , in Storia dei giovani , cit., pp. 233-268 (pp. 242-249). 6 Galvano Fiamma, Manipulus florum sive Historia Mediolanensis , L.A. Muratori (ed.), Medi-olani 1727 (Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, 11), coll. 537-740, col. 238: in 1205 societas Galiardorum «extra civitatem pugnavit cum populo sine gladio»; both groups «completa pugna, domumredierunt». 7 An anonymous source from the first half of the XIV th century states that in «locus ubi nuncest Pratum Communis» since long time «spectaculum erat quoddam magnum spatium, ubi pueride Mediolano certis diebus convenienbant ad diversos ludos peragendos, qui fiebant pluribusmodis, aut de arcubus sagittas emittendo, vel hastas pondere librato iaciendo, vel laterum com-plexu se invicem prosternendo, vel saltu longiori seu altiori prosiliendo». L.A. Muratori, Antiqui-tates Italicae Medii Aevi , Mediolani 1734, II, diff. XXIX: De spectaculis et ludis publicis MediiAevi , coll. 831-862 (col. 833). 8 Galvano Fiamma, Manipulus florum , cit., cap. 25, 15: «extra muros civitatis erat Brolium mag-num ubi iuvenes in armis et pugnis diversis exercitationis caussa conveniebant […] ex alia parte urbisex opposito, ubi dicitur Sancta Maria ad circulum, erat hippodromum circi ubi equestres milites suahastiludia peragebant more romano». About various social, cultural, and political meanings of «battagliole», urban military games, see Gasparri, I ‘milites’ cittadini, cit., pp. 43 ff.; A. Settia, Comu-ni in guerra. Armi ed eserciti nell’Italia delle città , Bologna, Clueb, 1993, pp. 29 ff. MARINA GAZZINI 16  world that was conditional on might and power: warfare was necessary notonly for surviving, but also for shaping a personal identity. If transfigured, thistraining was also a means to confer a physical and moral strength suitable toreligious pedagogy. The profession of canonical ideals in the XI th and XII th cen-turies, for instance, had an ascetic and military character as well, that gave agreat importance to youth education, as children were considered novices torecruit in the Army of Christ 9 .Although we do not have evidence of youth structured associations evenduring the seigniorial and the ducal periods (XIV-XV th centuries), we can readin narrative sources interesting episodes of young people playing a leading role:upper class youth raids, made by gangs of sons of elite families (like Matteo IIVisconti, Bernabò Visconti, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Beatrice d’Este and Isabel-la d’Aragona) 10 , or juvenile gangs taking part in violence rituals (remarkablethe mistreatments of the dead bodies of Galeazzo Maria Sforza’s killers) 11 , orfarcical battles, like those staged in 1500 by two armies of  puti , each of themled by doubles of the deposed duke of Milan and of the winner king of France 12 . None of these groups, however, were permanent associations.A little more organized seem those companies that troubled Ludovico MariaSforza. In 1494 the duke wrote to his secretary Bartolomeo Calco that «thereare in Milan many gangs of young aristocrats and of other people that, maybebecause they cannot disguise themselves, wander in arms at night and go toplaces where there are dishonest women and then commit improper acts». Inorder to avoid «disorders and scandals» the duke ordered in a public edict that«in the future, it will be forbidden to every person, no matter which conditionor rank, to wander in arms in Milan after the Ave Maria time, except for theofficials of ward; transgressors will be punished with a fine of 100 ducats or,in case they couldn’t pay, with four rope pulls» 13 . One more time, youth aris-tocratic associations mixed recreational and political patterns, and were con-sequently considered something to restrict.The correction of youth subversion frequently passed through a religiouspath. Thanks to their fundamental pedagogical role, medieval confraternities LAY CONFRATERNITIES AND YOUTH EDUCATION IN RENAISSANCE ITALY . THE GRASSI AND TAVERNA SCHOOLS OF MILAN  17 9 C. Damiano Fonseca, ‘Militia Deo’ e ‘militia Christi’ nella tradizione canonicale , in ‘MilitiaChristi’ e Crociata nei secoli XI-XIII, La Mendola 28 agosto-1 settembre 1989 , Milano, Vita ePensiero, 1992, pp. 343-354 (p. 348). 10 I am grateful to Francesco Somaini for this information. Numerous episodes are in Bernardi-no Corio, Storia di Milano , A. Morisi Guerra (ed.), Torino, UTET, 1978. 11 Cronica gestorum in partibus Lombardie et reliquis Italie , G. Bonazzi (ed.), Città di Castel-lo, 1904-10 (Rerum Italicarum Scriptores 2 , XXII/3), pp. 3-4. 12 Diario ferrarese dal 1409 al 1502 di autori incerti , G. Pardi (ed.), Bologna 1928-37 (RerumItalicarum Scriptores?, XXIV/7), p. 242. 13 Archivio di Stato di Milano – hence ASMi – Sforzesco, Carteggio interno, Milano città, 1114.Vigevano, January 31 st , 1494. I owe these precious citations to Nadia Covini. Such behaviourswere common in the enclosed urban spaces of medieval Europe: see J. Rossiaud, La prostituzionenel Medioevo , Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1995, pp. 28-29.  could enter this process offering new ethical values to violent practices thatnevertheless had prophetic and purifying functions too 14 . Between the XV th and XVI th centuries great importance was given to the educational activitiesof the mendicant orders preachers: the friars tried to reorganize the role of chil-dren and of young people inside the society, guiding youthful energy into well-controlled collective practices, like processions, ceremonies, and institutional-ized companies 15 . In the Renaissance Milan we find just one youth confrater-nity and it was tied to Bernardino of Siena. In 1421 the new statutes of the scole Senum et Iuvenum (confraternities of Old and Young People) that hadtheir centre in the parish of San Giovanni sul Muro in Porta Vercellina (thedistrict of Vercellina Gate) were written under the monogram of the saint (IHS,abbreviation of the greek Christ’s name). Since the XIV th century, this churchhad housed a great number of confraternities, different in name, membership,and purpose. In 1337 documents mention the scolle sancti Iohannis Baptiste (confraternities of Saint John the Baptist), in 1419 the schola pauperum Sanc-ti Iohannis Baptiste supra Murum (confraternity of the Poor of the parish of Saint John the Baptist on the wall), in 1421 the scole senum et iuvenum (con-fraternities of Old and Young People), in 1464 the scole senum et divitum (con-fraternities of Old and Rich People). All these titles indicate that the parishchurch became point of reference for different kinds of groups, linked togeth-er by different ties – neighbourhood, kinship, age, economic and social condi-tion – but all requiring urban integration and social recognition that could begranted by the religious and socializing community rites of confraternities 16 . Unfortunately, the youth confraternity left very little evidence. We know noth-ing about its members or their organization, even though we can imagine that, asthe members of the other confraternities depending on the church of San Giovan-ni sul Muro, they were recruited inside the neighbourhood of the same parish.The powerful family Resta da Rho provided leadership of this community. Oneof its members, the merchant Ambrogio Resta, was related to saint Bernardino.In fact Ambrogio joined the confraternity of the Third Order of saint Francesco,founded in Milan in 1442 following the desire of Bernardino of Siena 17 . The first mention of the scola iuvenum of San Giovanni sul muro is dated 14 A. Zorzi, Rituali di violenza giovanile nelle società urbane del tardo Medioevo , in O. Niccoli(ed.), Infanzie. Funzioni di un gruppo liminale dal mondo classico all’età moderna , Firenze, Pontealle Grazie, 1993, pp. 185-209. 15 O. Niccoli, Compagnie di bambini nell’Italia del Rinascimento , «Rivista Storica Italiana», CI,1989, pp. 346-374 (pp. 362 ff.). 16 About the history of these confraternities see M. Gazzini, Solidarietà vicinale e parentale aMilano: le «scole» di S. Giovanni sul Muro a porta Vercellina , in L. Chiappa Mauri, L. De Ange-lis Cappabianca, P. Mainoni (eds.), L’età dei Visconti. Il dominio di Milano fra XIII e XV secolo ,Milano, La storia, 1993, pp. 303-330 (now in Ead., Confraternite e società cittadina nel medioe-vo italiano , Bologna, Clueb, 2006, pp. 227-255). 17 A. Noto, Origine del luogo pio della Carità nella crisi sociale di Milano quattrocentesca ,Milano, Giuffré, 1962. MARINA GAZZINI 18  1421, but in that year the confraternity was already in decline. The scolasenum suffered the same destiny. At first the neighbours decided to restore bothconfraternities 18 , but just one year later they decreed their suppression as sep-arate societies and their merge into one company, called scola of the church of San Giovanni sul muro 19 . A few years later there appeared a new confraterni-ty reserved for old people, who was matched this time to another category: theimpoverished aristocrats (the scole senum et divitum of 1464). The change of title testifies that the neighbours of San Giovanni sul Muro changed their mindand preferred to give pre-eminence to a new kind of intervention, droppingthe educational involvement in favour of a charitable one, assigning all spiri-tual and material resources to the care of old people and of impoverished peo-ple, the  pauperes verecundi (poors ashamed to beg).As medieval sources show, the Milanese society had youth companies andconfraternities, but not as numerous or powerful as those of other cities, likeFlorence, Turin, and Venice. In these other cities in fact, youth societies shapedpublic and private rituals, becoming strong elements of local memory 20 . It ispossible that this different development depended on different political situa-tions. Since the mid XIII th century Milan was ruled by a powerful dominion notvery friendly to associations, a dominion that paid much attention to everykind of association capable of creating problems to public order or to chal-lenge established authority. Torriani built gallows against the coming of theFlagellant movement; Visconti restricted constitution and activity of guilds 21 ; LAY CONFRATERNITIES AND YOUTH EDUCATION IN RENAISSANCE ITALY . THE GRASSI AND TAVERNA SCHOOLS OF MILAN  19 18 Archivio dei Luoghi Pii Elemosinieri di Milano-Azienda di Servizi alla Persona Golgi-Redael-li (ex Amministrazione delle II.PP.A.B., ex E.C.A.) – hence ALPEMi –, Statuti, n. 3, edited by Gazz-ini, Solidarietà viciniale e parentale , cit., pp. 326-327. «MCCCCXXI die V augusti in festo glorioseVirginis matris Dei quod appellatur de Nive, scolares infrascripti scolarum Senum et Iuvenum Sanc-ti Iohannis supra Murum in Dei nomine congregati in sacristia ecclesie Sancti Iohannis supraMurum pro restauratione ipsarum cum admodum neglecte hactenus fuerint ordinaverunt ad util-itatem pauperum prout sequitur [...]». 19 ALPEMi, Statuti, n. 3, edited in Gazzini, Solidarietà vicinale e parentale , cit., pp. 327-328.«MCCCCXXII die primo novembris, infrascripti scolares congregati in sacrastia Sancti Iohannis pre-dicta ex impositione dicti Lazarini ordinaverunt infrascripta capitula videlicet [...] Hamodo in Deinomine iamscripte due scole Senum et Iuvenum Sancti Iohannis supra Murum sint et esse intelligan-tur integraliter unite et una scola solummodo vocentur videlicet scola Sancti Iohannis supra Murum». 20 Famous are the youth confraternities of Florence (I. Taddei, Fanciulli e giovani. Crescere aFirenze nel Rinascimento , Firenze, Olschki, 2001), Turin (A. Barbero, La violenza organizzata.L’Abbazia degli stolti a Torino fra Quattro e Cinquecento , «Bollettino Storico-Bibliografico Sub-alpino», 88, 1990, pp. 387-453), Venice (L. Venturi, Le compagnie della Calza , «Nuovo ArchivioVeneto», XVI, 1908, pp. 161-221, XVII, 1909, pp. 140-233; M. Casini, I gesti del principe. Lafesta politica a Firenze e Venezia in età rinascimentale , Venezia, Marsilio, 1996, pp. 298-304). 21 The Visconti were very generous with the powerful guild of merchants. See G. Martini, L’ U-niversitas Mercatorum di Milano e i suoi rapporti col potere politico (secoli XIII-XV) , in Studi diStoria Medievale e Moderna per Ernesto Sestan , Firenze, Olschki, 1980, 2 vols., I, pp. 219-258. Forthe difficulty of confraternities in Milan see M. Gazzini, Confraternite e società cittadina: percor-si di indagine sulla realtà milanese , «Nuova Rivista Storica», 81, 1997, pp. 373-400 (now in Ead., Confraternite e società cittadina, cit.  , pp. 199-226).
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