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On January 1, 1339 Taddeo Pepoli, Bologna's first signorial lord, stood with three law professors, Paolo Liazari, Maccagnano degli Azzoguidi, and Pietro Bompietri, and about seventy leading citizens from the dominant Scacchese faction to negotiate an end to the interdict placed on the town by Pope Benedict XII when Taddeo had seized power as signore on August 28, 1337. While bearing the title of "supreme and perpetual preserver of peace and justice" Taddeo protested the pope's demand that exiles of factional violence be allowed to return to the city, reasoning that this would only produce more bloodshed for "there is nothing sweeter or more delightful for a man than to carry out a vendetta for injuries and other evils inflicted upon him." (1) Taddeo's view that revenge was the sweetest thing was shared by citizens of towns all over medieval Italy. Recent scholarship has revised the traditional view that vendetta in late medieval society was a remnant of primitive or privatistic forms of government, arguing that despite occasional condemnation by religious and political leaders, violent conflict was seen by most as an ordinary social relation and that vendetta was recognized as a legitimate means for defense of one's interests. (2) At the same time that medieval Italians turned to the sword to settle scores, they were increasingly litigious, as new studies of conflict and the law in late medieval Italy have demonstrated. (3) Legal studies of medieval France and Italy have emphasized that dispute settlement was a process in which the consumers of the law could make use of several disputing strategies, such as force, arbitration or court decisions that could be played off against one another within the diverse legal world of civil, canon, and customary law. (4) Thus violent vendetta, legal litigation, and private arbitration should not be viewed as counteractive or fundamentally opposed. Instead all were seen as part of one normative system of dispute settlement.

March 22
Journal of Social History

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