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Chapter Four

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the legal definitions of status for the various groups excluded from political life by closure and compares those definitions with perceptions of social identity as revealed in the court records of the Capitano del Popolo. It demonstrates the ambiguities of group identity in legal definitions and practices, as well as changes in those definitions over time. The chapter discusses the perceptions of witnesses in trials concerning status and identity, probing the relationship between legal definitions and popular perceptions of status and the significance of disparities between those two categories. Identity in late medieval Bologna was characterized by great ambiguities in the statutory definitions of groups, as well as changes in the definitions themselves, resulting in an environment of ceaseless confusion, purges and litigation over the status of individuals.

Keywords: Capitano del Popolo; late medieval Bologna; legal definitions of status; perceptions of status



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