Numero 2
aprile - giugno 2020 anno 61

Abstract degli articoli

Rosario Villari. Storiografia e politica nel secondo dopoguerra

The Formative Years in Autobiographical Reconstruction

 
This essay covers the biography of the young Villari through his own autobiographical texts, his writings from the years 1943-1953, and a series of testimonies intended for a book/ interview. The reconstruction of his formative years casts light on Villari’s interest in the literary and philological studies undertaken at the University of Florence – an interest he cultivated even after he transferred to the University of Messina where, in 1947, he took his degree in philosophy under the guidance of Della Volpe. The transition from literature to philosophy was accompanied by his political and journalistic commitment in Reggio Calabria in the aftermath of the fall of fascism. His profile as historian began to take shape only in the early 1950s, after his participation in the land occupation movement.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Farmers, Galvano Della Volpe, Antonio Gramsci, Questione meridionale.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Contadini, Galvano Della Volpe, Antonio Gramsci, Questione meridionale.

The Relationship with the Italian Communist Party

 
This paper analyses the different stages of the relations between Rosario Villari and the Italian Communist Party, beginning with his role as an advocate of social conflict for agrarian reform and then as a member of the team for the periodical «Cronache meridionali» and promoter of historical works. As editor of «Studi Storici», Villari developed scientific rigour and political engagement. During the 1980s, he took part in the debate over the decline of the Pci and joined the gradualist wing (the “miglioristi”).
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Italian Communist Party, Agrarian Reform, Miglioristi.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Partito comunista italiano, Riforma agraria, Miglioristi.

The Reflection on «Real Socialism»

 
The role played by Rosario Villari as a public intellectual was closely connected to his political and historical reflections on Soviet Socialism. This paper analyses his interventions in two distinct moments. Firstly, Villari’s contribution to debates on dissent in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, when he was a member of Parliament for the Italian Communist Party and an advocate of Eurocommunism. Secondly, his views on the decline and fall of Communism in Europe and Russia between 1989 and 1992. The evolution of Villari’s interpretation, which ended up in a very critical assessment of the entire experience of Communism since 1917, had serious implications, in terms of historical thinking, on the legacy of the twentieth century.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Communism, Real Socialism, Marxism, Historiography.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Comunismo, Socialismo reale, Marxismo, Storiografia.

The Experience of «Studi Storici»

In the late 1950s, Rosario Villari was among the founders of «Studi Storici», journal of Istituto Gramsci, then tied to the Italian Communist Party. He later coedited it from 1967 to 1972. In 1976, he became editor-in-chief until 1982. The paper deals with his role in the journal’s early times, and with the editorial line of «Studi Storici» during the Villari years, focusing especially on the relationship between politics and historiography and on the debate among Italian Marxist historians about the aim and scope of the journal. The research is based on the archives of «Studi Storici» and of Istituto Gramsci; Villari’s private correspondence has also been consulted. Lastly, attention is paid to some reflections by him in the 1990s, on the experience of the journal.

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, «Studi Storici», Italian Marxist historiography.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, «Studi Storici», Storiografia marxista italiana.

“Il Villari”, a Famous History School Textbook. The Origins (1964-1971)

 
This paper addresses Rosario Villari’s scientific activity in the 1960s, when he devoted himself to the writing of the famous History textbook for high schools. Villari’s correspondence with the publisher Laterza enables us to grasp not only the author’s cultural concerns, but also the existential ones. The manuscript submission was repeatedly delayed since he was simultaneously involved in other major works, and mainly in his study into the 1647 Naples revolt against the Spanish rule. Yet, for this reason too Villari managed to condense into his textbook the most recent and stimulating studies and debates of that period, and to transfer the achievements of his own research and of the main international historiography to a schoolbook.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, History of Historiography, History Handbooks, Teaching and Research.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Storia della storiografia, Manuali di storia, Insegnamento e ricerca.

The Comparison with International Historiography: the Turning Point of the Seventeenth Century

This article aims to examine the approaches adopted by Rosario Villari to seventeenthcentury history in the light of his relationships with scholars outside Italy. Villari’s works will be interpreted by consulting his correspondence housed at Fondazione Gramsci. It appears clear that his ideas on the complexity of the seventeenth century developed and matured in close connection with the contemporary international debate, just as it was fostered by intense scholarly and personal exchanges with French, British, American and Spanish historians. We have identified two important points in his career: the late 1960s, when he became interested in the comparative study in Europe of popular rebellions and social relationships in the rural setting; and, later, in the 1980s, when at Princeton his scholarly attention shifted from economic-social topics to political and cultural history. His last work – Un sogno di libertà – reflects this change in a problematic way.

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, International Debate, Crisis of the Seventeenth Century, Network of Scholarly Relationships.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Dibattito internazionale, Crisi del Seicento, Reti di relazioni tra studiosi.

Neapolitan Historiography of the Early Modern Age and Reformer Movement

Rosario Villari never devoted a specific work to the historiography written in the Kingdom of Naples during the sixteenth century. Nonetheless, in his studies we see a continuous interest in Neapolitan historical works of the early modern age (Porzio, di Costanzo, Costo, Summonte). Using several concrete examples, the article aims to draw attention to Villari’s innovative work of valorising sixteenth- and seventeenth-century southern Italian historians. Villari considered Neapolitan historical works necessary sources for the study and understanding not only of the Kingdom of Naples, but of the entire Italian peninsula, as well as being a genre well suited for developing ideas that could encourage the transition from theory to political initiative.

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Neapolitan Historiography, Civil History, Kingdom of Naples.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Storiografia napolitana, Storia civile, Regno di Napoli.

From Rebels to Revolutionaries: a long-lasting Theme

 
The birth of a revolutionary European consciousness, with the passage from primitive forms of revolt to real revolutions, was one of the crucial themes in Rosario Villari’s historical research. This paper aims to propose an examination of this problem through the long career of the great Italian historian, with a historical genealogy dating from the most recent Un sogno di libertà. Napoli nel declino di un impero (1585-1648) to Villari’s first essays, in which the theme of the transition from rebels to revolutionaries already reveals its centrality.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Rebels, Revolutionaries, Revolts, Revolutionary Consciousness.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Ribelli, Rivoluzionari, Rivolte, Coscienza rivoluzionaria.

Revolts: Interpretation and Comparison

 
This essay studies the meaning of the concept of revolt/revolution in the historiographic work of Rosario Villari, as well as the analysis he carried out with regard to this phenomenon and the forms it adopted, taking into account the special interest he showed in the evolution of its stances and explanations through the years. Despite having the great revolt of Naples of 1647-1648 as the main focus of his research, in his different works, this specialist always tended to compare this episode to other rebellions occurring in the Early Modern period, taking a particular interest in the mutual influences shared by different European revolts. The development and changes of his approaches to this subject have a starting and final point respectively in the two versions of his seminal book focused on the conflict known as Masianello’s revolt, the first one being published in 1967 and the second in 2012.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Territory, Privileges, Fiefdoms, Nobility, Monarchy.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Territorio, Privilegi, Feudi, Nobiltà, Monarchia.

On the Spanish Viceroys between Madrid and Naples

 
For over half a century, the late Rosario Villari deeply marked the debates about the Spanish Viceroyalty in Naples during the Early Modern period. His work in fact helped to better understand both the general history of the Hispanic Monarchy and the particular one of the Kingdom of Naples. This article aims to review the main contributions by Villari to the current debate on the Spanish viceroys in Naples, with very special attention to Osuna (1616-1620) and Medina de las Torres (1637-1644). The action of viceroys is considered in terms of political struggle, noble learning, viceregal majesty on display, and personal and community memoirs between Madrid and Naples.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Spanish Viceroyalty in Naples, Viceregal memoirs and practices, Personal strategies of the nobilities, Naples people condition.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Vicereame spagnolo a Napoli, Memorie e pratiche viceregali, Strategie personali dei nobili, Condizioni della popolazione a Napoli.

Territories, Privileges, Fiefdoms

 
The essay analyses and discusses three categories of Rosario Villari’s historical discourse. The territory as a spatial configuration marked by the agricultural identity that Villari affects in its structural data (distribution of land ownership, peasant struggles, taxation). The privileges (of citizenship, forum, class…) which form the basis of a continuous negotiation between the Neapolitans and the Spanish monarchy. Finally, the fiefdoms, which the nobility tries to protect to their advantage both as an economic and political resource.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Territory, Privileges, Fiefdoms, Nobility, Monarchy.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Territorio, Privilegi, Feudi, Nobiltà, Monarchia.

Homeland and Loyalty

 
Far from any kind of nationalist rhetoric, Villari initiated an important debate on concepts such as homeland, nation, and loyalty in the Early Modern Age. He would often return to these subjects during his research. Thanks to his extensive knowledge of seventeenth century societies and his skilful use of both published and unpublished historical sources, he understood the key role played by the Mezzogiorno d’Italia. According to him, Southern Italy was indeed the place where patriotic and libertarian aspirations had already appeared in the second half of the seventeenth century and found fertile ground in the following decades as well. In the Kingdom of Naples, for instance, the traditional subservience among the single stakeholders began to break down and, in the context of the Neapolitan Republic led by Masaniello, a new political vocabulary came to life.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Homeland, Nation, Loyalty, Commitment.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Patria, Nazione, Lealtà, Impegno.

The City of Naples

 
The article builds on the interest sustained by Rosario Villari in Naples, starting from the writings of some illuminists and some meridionalisti. We therefore consider the historiographic contexts in which Villari built his original approach to the capital city during Spanish rule; keeping in mind the Gramscian inspiration of some of its themes. Naples is constantly considered in relation to others, such as the Spanish monarchy, the kingdom of Naples as a whole. The city, as a political and social community, is analysed as a crucial centre for the conservation of the state, through political practices and communication systems typical of the Baroque age. Thematic ideas are proposed on the peculiarities and economic and social characteristics analysed by Villari about Naples, as a feudal capital, on the eve and during the anti-Spanish uprising of 1647-1648.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Capital city, Capital-province relationship, Reforming social forces, Popular elites.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Città capitale, Rapporto capitale-province, Forze sociali riformatrici, Élite popolari.

The Economic History of the Mezzogiorno fr om the 18th Century to Unification

Rosario Villari’s contributions to the economic history of the pre-Unification Mezzogiorno have over time been eclipsed by the author’s longer-running fascination with the seventeenth century and by the success of his later textbooks. However, the essays on the economic and social history of the final century of the Regno borbonico written in the 1950s and early 1960s were major contributions to the post-war renaissance in the historical writing on the pre-Unification south. Villari’s approaches and findings have stood the test of time, while his formulation of the origins of the questione meridionale remain highly relevant to current debates on the south in the century before Unification.

Keywords:  Santo Mazzarino, Roman Senate, Late antiquity, Constantine.

Parole chiave: Santo Mazzarino, Senato romano, Tarda antichità, Costantino.

Mezzogiorno and Meridionalism

 
Alongside Pasquale Villani and Giuseppe Galasso, Rosario Villari was one of the great post- War Italian historians, characterized by his cultural background and strong commitment to Southern Italian studies, or Meridionalism. Active in the Pci as a leader of the peasant struggles in Calabria, he played important roles in the southern periodicals inspired by the Pci in the 1950s. In particular, in the journal «Cronache meridionali», of which he was editor, he published, between 1954 and 1959, the original essays on the Meridionalists and the questione meridionale, which in 1961 were included in the great Laterza anthology Il Sud nella storia d’Italia. The interpretative key of the questione meridionale, indicated in 1963 and reaffirmed in 1977 in the journal «Studi Storici», was established in the «interdependence between North and South» and in the «renunciation of the use of potential human, economic and
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Mezzogiorno, Meridionalism, «Cronache meridionali», Interdependence.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Mezzogiorno, Meridionalismo, «Cronache meridionali», Interdipendenza.

Conservatives and Democrats in Liberal Italy

 
This contribution analyses the reflection that Villari dedicated to the paths of conservatives and democrats in the process of building the Italian nation. It was an often forgotten role that animated groups, magazines, and cultures inserted in the complex mechanisms of the decision-making process. Minority segments – defeated and downsized by the prevalence of others – of the majorities expressed themselves or found themselves in the prevailing and winning approach. In this context, the dynamics of moderate hegemony, the spaces and possibilities of the opposition, and the balance of a nationalization that encountered the problems and opportunities of the new century, are highlighted.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Opposition, Conservatives, Democrats, Non expedit.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Opposizione, Conservatori, Democratici, Non expedit.

The Crisis of the «Agrarian block», the Peasants, and the South in the Interpretation of Italian History

 
This essay investigates the reflections and political and cultural action of Rosario Villari, starting from his early elaboration of the Gramscian concept of «agrarian block», and ending with the Italian crisis during the 1970s. Between historiographic interpretation and political militancy, Villari looked constantly to Italy’s history and to its present, with particular attention to the South and the role played by the Italian Communist Party, with the aim of giving shape and content to the action of the emerging peasant masses in the Republican state.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Peasants, Questione meridionale, Italian History.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Contadini, Questione meridionale, Storia italiana.

Rosario, Historian and Friend

 
This essay is an account of my personal, intellectual and professional relationship with Rosario Villari between September 1981, when he spent six months with me in Princeton as a Visiting Member at the Institute for Advanced Study, and his death in 2017. We spent much time together discussing his plans for a companion volume to his La rivolta antispagnola a Napoli, a book I greatly admired. Following his return to Italy we continued to discuss plans for his new publications, and notably Elogio della dissimulazione and Un sogno di libertà, and my wife and I were fortunate to be able to stay with him and Anna Rosa on a number of occasions in Cetona at the Podere Santa Fortunata, while also exploring Tuscany, Rome and Naples. I learnt much from him and owe a great deal to his friendship over the years.
 

Keywords:  Rosario Villari, Princeton, Revolt of Naples, Dissimulation, Podere Santa Fortunata.

Parole chiave: Rosario Villari, Princeton, Rivolta di Napoli, Dissimulazione, Podere Santa Fortunata.

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