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Robert Charles Davis
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1132)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2012 – 8/31/2013

Italian Outlaws: Banditry and Society at the End of the Renaissance, 1550-1650

This study of the Italian Papal States focuses on the banditry and violence that exploded there from 1550-1650. It uses archival sources and judicial records of the cities of Rome and Perugia to show what happened when home-grown cults of violence, vendetta, and hyper-masculinity, aggravated by ferocious police repression, pushed society to the brink of collapse. When banditry was at its height, with established governing channels subverted by privatized violence, the Papal States were virtually paralyzed. This political failure contributed to the end of the Roman Renaissance, replacing its values of civic humanism, classicism, and secularism with resurgent clan connections bolstered by intense religiosity. Such conditions also characterize present-day failed states, and this research will be carried out in light of recent sociological studies of gang violence and guerrilla behavior, to approach this long-neglected era of Italian history with new methodological tools and insights.