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Journal > Volumes > 48 (2017) / 3 (Autumn)
The Precedence Controversy and the Devolution of Ferrara: A Shift in Renaissance Politics
Richard M. Tristano
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

The precedence controversy refers to the dispute between the dukes of Ferrara and the dukes of Florence over who had precedence at ceremonials, especially those held at the papal court, over the last half of the sixteenth century. The controversy has been largely undervalued as the product of mere princely egotism, especially of Alfonso II d’Este and Cosimo I de’ Médici, linked to the decline of Italy, especially its small states, and within a process of refeudalization. This article argues that the controversy reveals important aspects of Ferrarese selfidentification and reflects significant political shifts in sixteenth-century Italy, especially affecting the early modern small Italian state. The controversy was expressed in a series of key documents that include both validation from the past and a new, modernizing, and loftier self-definition at the Ferrarese court which was in tension with a more aggressive Florentine principality and the Counter-Reformation papacy.

Pages: 681 - 709