Leagues of their Own
Many of the same questions I ask in Leviathan for Sale about inter-urban governance, state-making, and peace/violence animate my second book project. Tentatively titled Leagues of their Own: City-Leagues in Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries, 1200-1600, this study analyzes the European city-league - coalitions of autonomous cities bound together for mutual security, economic gain, spiritual exchange, and environmental regulation. Specifically, it seeks to contextualize why the political culture of shared sovereignty, once prominent across all of urbvan Europe, took dramatically different paths after 1350, flourishing in some regions (the Low Countries/Switzerland), failing in others (Italy), and continuing piecemeal elsewhere (Germany). Using letters, treaties, and financial records from dozens of city-leagues throughout this macro-region alongside theories of federalism and multilateral alliances, this project will reevaluate traditional models of European state formation, political culture, and diplomacy.
The first article from this project, entitled “A League in the Guise of a Mercenary: Intercity Cooperation and the Taglie of Late Medieval Italy,” examines the taglie – coalitions of Italian cities tied together for protection against companies of French, English, German, and Hungarian mercenaries. While these leagues flourished in the middle of the fourteenth century (1347-1396) they often failed militarily or collapsed after only a few months. Earlier scholarship has blamed these failures on military competition among Italian cities and an incipit culture of deception. By examining diplomatic correspondences, legal statutes and texts, army budgets, and visual/written artistic production, this article shows instead how the taglie were in fact corporate associations (societas) that provided not only military protection, but financial coordination, social control, and a common ideology of urban autonomy.
A Draft of this Article is Available upon Request