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Lorenzo Valla and the De falso credita donatione: Rhetoric, Freedom, and Ecclesiology in the Fifteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

In 1433 Lorenzo Valla presented his De voluptate to members of the humanist circle in Florence: Leonardo Bruni, Carlo Marsuppini, and Ambrogio Traversari. This chapter refers to Traversari's epistolary response to De voluptate because it suggests interpretive keys for understanding Valla's famous Oration on the Falsely Believed and Forged Donation of Constantine (De falso credita et ementita Constantini donatione). The critical originality and radical freedom that Traversari identified in Valla's early dialogue allows us to penetrate Valla's later oration against the Constitutum Constantini. The author provides an introduction that equips the reader to grasp the detailed and intricate analysis of Valla's Oration. The Oration on the pseudo-Donation becomes an emblematic case. Valla's text, among the most important of Italian humanism generally, proposes the most radical criticism of the papal politics and ecclesiology of the first half of the fifteenth century.

Keywords: Ambrogio Traversari; Carlo Marsuppini; De Falso Credita Donatione; De voluptate; freedom; Leonardo Bruni; Lorenzo Valla; papal ecclesiology; rhetoric



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