Review of Mark Jurdjevic and Rolf Strøm-Olsen, eds., Rituals of Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honour of Edward Muir, in Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 49.2 (Autumn 2018), pp. 326-328.

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Review of Mark Jurdjevic and Rolf Strøm-Olsen, eds., Rituals of Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honour of Edward Muir, in Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 49.2 (Autumn 2018), pp. 326-328.

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  Rituals of Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honour of Edward Muir ed. by Mark Jurdjevic and Rolf Strøm-Olsen (review) William J. Connell Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Volume 49, Number 2, Autumn 2018,pp. 326-328 (Review)Published by The MIT PressFor additional information about this article Access provided by Seton Hall University (10 Dec 2018 12:49 GMT) https://muse.jhu.edu/article/702498  Rituals of Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honour of  Edward Muir  . Edited by Mark Jurdjevic and Rolf Strøm-Olsen (Toronto,Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2016) 490 pp. $49.95A collection of   󿬁 fteen essays is a  󿬁 tting tribute to a historian who in re-cent decades has been a major in 󿬂 uence on historical writing about earlymodern Europe. Muir  ’ s  Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice   (Princeton,1981)remains an important exploration of the ritual behavior, urban topography,and srcin legends that shape a community ’ s sense of itself. At a timewhen the study of ritual by historians was just taking root (prompted inlarge part by Davis), Muir  ’ s book offered a re 󿬁 ned model that showedhow it could be done. 1 Whereas in a contemporary book about Florence, equally impres-sive, Trexler had examined changing ritual structures as indicative of political change, Muir found in sixteenth-century Venice an intensi 󿬁 -cation of the city ’ s processions, of  󿬁 ceholding rituals, and religious devo-tions that had the hegemonic effect of reinforcing social and politicalcontinuity. 2 Muir  ’ s second book,  Mad Blood Stirring: Vendetta and Factionsin Friuli during the Renaissance   (Baltimore,1993), pursued these issues fur-ther by addressing the question of whether public rituals need alwayspreserve the status quo, or whether, in some cases, they constitute re-hearsals and offer occasions for breaks with an existing order. The bookthus recounted how ritual Carnival celebrations in 1511 Friuli, an areasubjecttoVenice,devolvedintoanextraordinaryfrenzyoffactionalviolencethat was the antithesis of Venetian stability. Although the early Muir occa-sionally gave the impression of offering antitheses to the theses of a previousgeneration of historians, in the act of writing his books he tended towardsynthesis, no doubt because his conceptual tools  —  ritual and culture  —  were (and are) ample enough to accommodate a historiographical tradi-tion that extends from Gilbert and Bouwsma all the way back to Ranke. 3 In a series of volumes co-edited with Guido Ruggiero, Muir intro-duced an Anglophone audience to the exciting work being done byItalian historians associated with the journal  Quaderni storici  . His study Ritual in Early Modern Europe   (New York,1997) was an ambitious surveythat brought coherence to a burgeoning literature. In 1995, he appeareddismissive of humanism in a major essay urging American historians toexplore Italian rural history. 4 However, he soon followed with several 1 See, for example, Natalie Zemon Davis,  “ The Rites of Violence: Religious Riot inSixteenth-Century France, ”  Past & Present  , 59 (May 1973), 51  –  91.2 Richard Trexler,  Public Life in Renaissance Florence   (Ithaca, 1980).3 See, for example, Felix Gilbert,  “ Venice in the Crisis of the League of Cambrai, ”  in John R.Hale (ed.),  Renaissance Venice   (Totowa, 1973), 274  –  292; William J. Bouwsma,  Venice and the Defense of Republican Liberty: Renaissance Values in the Age of the Counter Reformation  (Berkeley,1968); Leopold von Ranke,  Über die Verschwörung gegen Venedig, im Jahre 1618   (Berlin, 1831);  idem , Zur venezianischen Geschichte   (Leipzig, 1878); Muir (ed.),  The Leopold Von Ranke Manuscript Collection of Syracuse University  (Syracuse, 1983).4 Muir,  “ The Italian Renaissance in America, ”  American Historical Review  , C (1995), 1117  –  1118. 326  |  WILLIAM J. CONNELL  thoughtful studies arguing that ideals central to civic humanism existedeven in small rural communities. In his most recent book,  The Culture Wars of the Late Renaissance: Skeptics, Libertines, and Opera  (Cambridge,Mass., 2007), Muir applies the techniques of a microhistorian to shed lighton the fracturing of Renaissance culture during the seventeenth century.This  Festschrift   commendably knits contributions from Muir  ’ s studentsand friends that treat themes in his work. Patricia Fortini Brown explainswhy Venetian ritual processes blended differently with local ones in thesubject territoriesofCrete, Cyprus,and Corfù. Monique O ’ Connell showshow the circulation of speeches in written form, composed upon the entryof Venetian of  󿬁 cials into subject territories  —  for both these Venetians andfor their subjects  —  served as complementary avenues for propaganda onbehalf of Venice and criticism of Venetian rule. Michael Martoccio studiesthe ritual contribution of annual processions of the Feast of St. John theBaptist in jurisdictions subject to Florence, showing that the candles in-volved were not simply recognitions of overlordship, nor even signi 󿬁 ca-tions, in their weight and number, of the status within the dominion of these communities, but contributions that varied according to the termsby which the communities came under Florentine rule.Brian Maxson reads the 1441 literary contest in Florence known asthe  Certame coronario  in the diplomatic and political context of the time. John Najemy studies a sample of thirty-four Florentine petitions for par-don from sex crimes that were granted between 1390 and 1418, arguingthat the government ’ s stricter regulation of sex among the lower ordersre 󿬂 ected the class anxieties of Florence ’ s patricians. Ruggiero collapsesthe chronological distance between the fourteenth and twenty- 󿬁 rstcenturies in an elegant reading of several tales from Giovanni Boccaccio ’ s Decameron (1353). Albert Ascolilaysout the multiplesubjectiveexperiencesin Antonio Manetti ’ s novella of   “ The Fat Woodworker  ”  (1480s), con-cluding that the tale shows  “ how important and yet dif  󿬁 cult it is to tellthe difference between history and story ”  (231  –  232).Antonio Ricci sees in book history a possible avenue for recovering,amid the ruins created by theory, the aesthetic appreciation of literarytexts. Nicolas Baker describes the ways in which Renaissance thoughtconcerning games of chance, commercial practice, and investment over-lapped, with all of them involving attempts to use probabilistic think-ing to channel or tame  Fortuna . Sarah Gwyneth Ross shows how the commedia dell  ’ arte   won new admirers and respectability in the early seven-teenth century, thanks to the Andreini family ’ s self-conscious promotionof an artistic genealogy for themselves. Celeste McNamara applies con-fraternity studies to the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century countrysideby looking at visitation records in rural parts of the Paduan diocese. EthanShagan argues against the modernist tendency to see  “ belief  ”  as a categorywithout a history; he suggests that just as  “ ritual ”  has deep and changingmeaning in Muir  ’ s work, the meaning of   “ belief  ”  depends on contextualtimes and places. Strøm-Olsen offers an account of the histories of Charles VII and Louis XI written by Thomas Basin from the perspective REVIEWS  |  327  of the  󿬁 fteenth-century Burgundian  “ theatre state ”  (362). Susan Karant-Nunn ’ s exquisite exploration of the rituals of grief that were on displayin the 1586 funeral procession of Elector August I of Saxony is reminiscentof the proverbial  “ veil of Timanthes ”  with which the ancient painter,depicting the sacri 󿬁 ce of Iphigenia, covered Agamemnon ’ s face to empha-size the father  ʼ s unimaginable sorrow.In a  󿬁 nal essay, inspired in part by Muir  ’ s writing about the VenetianDoge ’ s ritual marriage to the sea, Ronnie Hsia describes how, for Christianconverts in the sea routes between China and the Philippines, the Mariandevotions of Portuguese missionaries became blended with the Chinesedevotion to Mazu, the patroness of seafarers  —“ a warm, eternal feminineforce, ”  in which mariners  “ sought solace and safety when faced with thedangers of a cold, watery grave ”  (434). What stands out in Muir  ’ s career ishis consistent quest for vantage points from which landscapes thoughtfamiliar appear strange and fresh. The quest continues, as these essaysshow.William J. ConnellSeton Hall University Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers . ByGuenterLewy(NewYork,2017) 208 pp. $29.95Imagine a criminal-justice system with the following features: (1) crim-inal defendants more likely to be convicted and punished when theycaused the death of one person than when they played a crucial rolein killing thousands of people; (2) willing and enthusiastic wrongdoingtreated in court not as an aggravating factor but as a mitigating factor;and (3) trials with judges who were essentially accomplices of the ac-cused. Unfortunately, this is not the premise of a dystopian science- 󿬁 ction story. As Lewy reveals in  Perpetrators , it captures the essence of thetrials involving Nazis and their collaborators in Germany following WorldWar II.Lewy ’ s research, based to a great extent on rarely tapped and rela-tively inaccessible primary sources, reveals a system that offered morelenient treatment of   “ the SS man who, as part of his of  󿬁 cial duties ina factory of death, killed tens of thousands by throwing the gas pelletsinto the gas chamber than the guard who on his own initiative killed oneinmate ”  (97). Defendants who argued that their participation in massmurder derived from being a  “ convinced National Socialist ”  could alle-viate the court ’ s concern that their actions derived from  “ a hostile atti-tude ”  toward their victims (103). As a result, they generally received lesser sentences. Parts of this story have been told before, but the summariesin Chapter 6 of Lewy ’ s book  —“ The Perpetrators on Trial: Flawed Justice ”—  are especially compelling and concise. Chapter 5,  “ EvadingParticipation and Opposing the Killing, ”  should also be required reading 328  |  LEONARD S. NEWMAN
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