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17 The Politics of Law

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the politics of law in early modern Milan. The Visconti regime was an experiment on a grand scale: there was no accepted historical or legal tradition to support its authority. The key to authority was identified as control over statutes, a right demanded by the Visconti from all their cities. Initially it was the Milanese who in 1329 gave Azzone Visconti comprehensive rights over the contents of local law, including the ability to "abolish and cancel statutes wholly or in part, to add and remove clauses and to modify, supplement, correct, interpret or explain them as he saw fit, just as the commune of Milan can". Laws emanating from central government (governor's decrees, the New Constitutions, and decisions of the Senate) in theory prevailed over local statutes, both of those in turn trumping ius commune.

Keywords: central government; communal statutes; early modern Milan; law; politics; Visconti regime

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