Creating the Discourse of the Renaissance State: Humanistic Oratory and the Foundation of the Venetian Terraferma
Clémence Revest is a permanent researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Her research focuses on the genesis and expansion of humanism as a dominant culture in fifteenth-century Europe. She holds a Phd in History from the universities of the Sorbonne and Florence (2012) and was a fellow at the École française de Rome (2010-2014). She has collaborated on several research programs in France and in Italy and published numerous academic articles, book chapters and collective volumes. Her recent publications include the monograph Romam veni. Humanisme et papauté à la fin du Grand Schisme (2021), which was awarded the Gobert Medal 2022 by the national Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
This project aims to explore how and why humanist culture penetrated public communication practices and shaped official ideologies during the Quattrocento, in order to contribute to a new history of humanism as a ruling culture. It highlights a key moment, the expansion of the Venetian Mainland, and an abundant but ignored corpus: the ceremonial eulogies honoring the Venetian representatives. These series of orations reveal an essential correlation between the intellectual movement and the political transition, both carried by a coherent socio-cultural environment across Venice and the Terraferma. Prominent figures in the invention of studia humanitatis such as Guarino Veronese and leading officers trained in humanism such as Francesco Barbaro deliberately used neo-ciceronian oratory to create a common language of legitimation between the conquered cities and the Venetian authorities. The use of the classicizing models in the context of ritual praise brings to the forefront not only the standardization of new rhetorical canons, but also the formulation of a political contract: in other words, the fact that humanism was needed to negotiate the boundaries of power and shape the ideal of a regional state. Such a perspective, that pushes the scholarship beyond its traditional Florentine focus, allows us to understand how the textual imitation of Cicero and the exaltation of ancient virtues helped promote a Renaissance republicanism that was both imperialist and aristocratic.